Remember in August, just after Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to his first eight felony counts, his lawyer Lanny Davis went on a two-day media tour explicitly promoting what Cohen knew about Donald Trump and how integral that could be to the special counsel’s investigation? Yeah, that paid off and now Team Mueller clearly agrees that Cohen is the linchpin to at least part of their case.
As former federal prosecutor Chuck Rosenberg told MSNBC’s Craig Melvin Thursday, Special Counsel Robert Mueller didn’t actually need Cohen to plead guilty to another felony count as a matter of law. Since Cohen has already pleaded guilty to other counts, all of his misdeeds would be taken into account during sentencing even if he hadn’t pleaded guilty to all of them.
So, Rosenberg posited, “Why would they have him plead guilty to this thing too?” The answer is that it builds his credibility with a future potential jury on a set of facts.
“It’s always better as a prosecutor, and I was one for a long time,” Rosenberg explained, “when you’re trying a case against somebody else and using somebody who pled guilty as a witness at that trial, to have that witness already under oath acknowledge their own guilt and their own culpability in open court.”
Rosenberg predicted Team Mueller would be “doing a lot more” with the information included in the charging document against Cohen. “They didn’t need Cohen to plead to it, other than if they wanted to use Cohen on this set of operative facts,” he concluded.
And this set of operative facts includes Cohen briefing Trump and his family members within the Trump Organization about the Moscow deal on multiple occasions, among other things. In other words, the plea deal implicitly implicates Trump and his family.
Back in August, Cohen’s lawyer Davis claimed Cohen had information about whether Trump took part in a “criminal conspiracy” related to hacking the emails of Democratic officials in 2016.
On “The Rachel Maddow Show,” Davis, a veteran of the Clinton White House, said his client had “knowledge about the computer crime of hacking and whether or not Mr. Trump knew ahead of time about that crime and even cheered it on.”
Cohen clearly knows something and, as Rosenberg said, Thursday’s revelations represent “only a fraction” of what the Mueller Team knows.