Michael Cohen appeared in federal court on Thursday morning to plead guilty to lying to Congress and testify that Donald Trump continued his attempts to make a real estate deal in Russia even while he was publicly denying that any such deal was in the works. Cohen’s deal clears the way for his continued testimony to both federal prosecutors and the special counsel. But his testimony is just one event in a list of jaw-dropping events related to the Trump-Russia investigation. It’s a week in which Robert Mueller seems to be busy knocking down lies, clearing the path to the truth about Donald Trump.
Last week, Donald Trump finally submitted long-delayed written responses to questions sent his way by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. This week, Mueller’s team was back in court not just with Cohen, but to accuse Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort of continuing to lie to investigators, putting him in breach of a plea deal. And Trump associate Jerome Corsi has been engaged in a public legal meltdown unprecedented since … Trump associate Sam Nunberg engaged in a public legal meltdown.
Based on the testimony of Cohen, he previously lied to protect Trump from scrutiny on real estate deals with Moscow, deals that continued after Trump was running for president, after he was nominated, and even after he was elected. This contradicts not just testimony Cohen previously made to Congress, but statements that Trump made over, and over, and over during the campaign.
It’s also notable that Cohen was expected to appear in court two weeks ago. The judge was ready, reporters were on the scene, and … it didn’t happen. That delay may have been related to the complexities of Cohen’s agreements. It could also very well have been intended to give Trump time for handing in those written responses.
While Cohen has admitted to his lies, Paul Manafort has dug in. The Wall Street Journal is reporting that the lies that shattered Manafort’s plea deal were related to his business dealings with Russia and his activities in the Ukraine. Considering the gravity of Manafort’s actions, it’s not surprising that he would continue to attempt to cover-up everything he’s done. But if the lies were only about Manafort’s money-laundering and illegal foreign actions, they would seem to be unrelated to statements Manafort made about the Trump campaign. Considering the timing that seems highly unlikely.
The clearest point of overlap on testimony by Michael Cohen, Paul Manafort, and Donald Trump is on the Trump Tower meeting. That meeting was arranged by Emin Agalarov, the same Russian real estate developer who Trump was working with much later than previously reported. In fact, according to the latest from Cohen, Trump and Agalarov were working on a Russia project at the same time that Emin’s representative contacted Donald Trump Jr. Which makes it far, far more likely that Donald Trump would have been in the loop on the meeting even before it occurred. Trump provided a written response which sources indicate included his repeating what he has said in public—that he didn’t know about the meeting before, during, or after. If Manafort also testified that Trump didn’t know, that overlap with Cohen would be a very good reason for the sequence of events this week.
Michael Cohen’s appearance in court wouldn’t be just a coincidence of timing. It would be a trap slamming shut.
Meanwhile, Trump and Roger Stone associate Jerome Corsi continues on a media tour that seems all too familiar. Corsi has tossed the media his entire draft indictment and proposed plea deal. As seen on MSNBC, Corsi continues to insist that the plea deal would have required that he lie. So he’s making the “brave decision” to defy Mueller in a move that protects Trump’s long-time friend and associate, Roger Stone. In Corsi’s convoluted reasoning, despite the fact that he lied to investigators, he can’t admit that he lied to investigators, because he only lied to investigators. So admitting he lied to investigators would … be … a lie?
Reporter: You had led them to believe that you had not had contact with someone on behalf of Roger Stone, when you did.
Corsi: The first day, the statement I gave was wrong. And it was wrong because I forgot the email that they were referring to.
Corsi’s position is that after Robert Mueller showed him the email in which he solicited information from WikiLeaks for Roger Stone, he admitted that he had written the email. And since he admitted the truth when confronted with the evidence, he can’t now admit that he lied. Because that would be a lie. Which is pretty convenient reasoning for anyone ever caught in a lie. So instead, Corsi has gone on the Sam Nunberg Memorial Media Tour, waving a “Padron Me!” banner at Donald Trump from every television screen.
For anyone who thought the Mueller investigation was going to “quietly wind down” … nope. If anything, the investigation is still ramping up.