Trump cherry picks Cohen ‘truth’ from ‘lies’, ignores chain of collusion

This is very funny.

Newshub:  Trump says Cohen telling the truth about collusion

US President Donald Trump has criticised his former lawyer Michael Cohen for lying in testimony to Congress but found reason to praise him, too, for not alleging Mr Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia in 2016.

Mr Trump, speaking at a news conference in Vietnam after failing to achieve a peace deal with North Korea’s Kim Jong-un, called the blockbuster hearing back in Washington “fake” and said it should not have been scheduled during his trip.

“He lied a lot, but it was very interesting because he didn’t lie about one thing – he said no collusion with the Russian hoax,” Mr Trump said.

“I wonder why he didn’t lie about that too like he did about everything else. I was actually impressed that he didn’t say, ‘well, I think there was collusion for this reason or that’. He didn’t say that.”

And even with this cherry picking Trump is making a false claim – “he said no collusion with the Russian hoax” is false. Cohen said he hadn’t seen evidence of Trump colluding with Russia. Cohen’s testimony:

“Questions have been raised about whether I know of direct evidence that Mr. Trump or his campaign colluded with Russia. I do not. I want to be clear. But, I have my suspicions.”

That’s quite different to “he said no collusion with the Russian hoax”. Trump made that up, as is his habit.

‘Collusion’ seems to have become the key phrase in discussing the Mueller investigation (more about that soon). Trump and most others don’t yet know exactly what Mueller has discovered. But there is evidence of a chain of collusion.

Trump obviously colluded with Cohen, with Paul Manafort, with Roger Stone. The first two have been convicted in relation to that, Stone is still being processed through court.

Stone colluded with WikiLeaks (with Trump’s knowledge according to Cohen), and it is claimed that WikiLeaks colluded with Russia.

Fox News:  Michael Cohen testifies about Trump, Roger Stone-WikiLeaks plot at House hearing

Fox News:  Cohen lobs bombs at Trump during fiery hearing

He waded into the investigation over Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election, accusing Trump of knowing that an adviser, Roger Stone, was reaching out to WikiLeaks about the publication of stolen Democratic National Committee emails during the campaign. Trump has denied advance knowledge.

On Wednesday, Stone denied the claim, telling Fox News: “Mr. Cohen’s statement is not true.” WikiLeaks also released a statement saying, “WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange has never had a telephone call with Roger Stone.”

We will find out more about all this in time. But I think there is another issue as  important that Mueller is investigating – did Russia interfere in the US election.

Cohen claims that Trump didn’t think he would win the GOP nomination, and didn’t think he would win the election. Trump was trying to leverage his campaign to advance a hotel project in Moscow – it was mostly business he was after.

I suspect that Russia realised this and suckered Trump – they played him with the hotel deal carrot, and used Trump to put the election campaign into turmoil, and helping Trump get elected was a way to discredit the presidency and the US and democracy.

So far I think Russia has been quite successful. Trump has floundered in a game he was unfamiliar with.

Trump and his associates have done some stupid things in all of this, but I think the stupidest may turn out to be being suckered by the Russians.

There’s a lot more complexity to this than ‘did Trump collude with Russia,’

Cohen: Trump is a racist, conman, cheat

Michael Cohen, an ex lawyer and so called ‘fixer’ for Donald Trump, is testifying before the US congress.

MSNBC – Michael Cohen: ‘I know what Mr. Trump is. He is a racist. He is a conman. He is a cheat.’

For a preview of Cohen’s statement see this thread on Twitter:

In typical fashion Trump has responded in advance.

With help from family:

That’s rather ironic.

Cohen is answering questions through the day. Lunchtime summary (Guardian live)

In explosive public testimony before Congress, Donald Trump’s former attorney Michael Cohen has cast the president as a “racist” and a “conman” who engaged in criminal activity after taking office as president to cover up an illegal hush money payment to an adult film actor.

  • Cohen said Trump had prior knowledge that his longtime adviser, Roger Stone, was communicating with WikiLeaks during the 2016 election regarding the release of hacked Democratic emails.
  • He also said Trump was aware of the infamous Trump Tower meeting between members of his presidential campaign and a Russian lawyer.
  • Cohen, who spent a decade as the president’s fixer, testified publicly for the first time in detail about a six-figure sum that was paid to silence adult film actor Stormy Daniels, who alleged an affair with Trump.
  • Cohen presented checks he said were signed by the president and his eldest son, Donald Trump Jr, to reimburse him for the hush money payments.
  • Cohen also added that he was instructed by Trump to lie about the affair to the president’s wife, Melania Trump, stating: “Lying to the first lady is one of my biggest regrets because she is a kind, good person.”

Questioning is continuing.

Michael Cloud, Republican of Texas, takes over, and asks Cohen if he is aware of the significance of the date May 6.

Yes, Cohen says. It’s the day he is going to prison for three years.

Cloud runs through Cohen’s crimes, sticking to that trusty Republican playbook. How are we supposed to find anything out today, Cloud says, “when the best witness” we can summon has “already been convicted of lying before us”.

And then we’re back to this book deal. According to Cloud the deal – which Cohen does not currently have – will be worth millions of dollars.

The GOP plan seems to be two-pronged:

a) Cohen is a criminal, we can’t trust him and it’s a disgrace that he’s here,

b) Cohen is only doing this because he thinks he can make money from it.

Raja Krishnamoorthi, Democrat from Illinois: Nothing at the Trump organization was done unless it was run by Donald Trump, is that correct?

Cohen: “That’s 100% certain.”

Cohen says he cannot discuss that as it is being investigated by the Southern District of New York.

Krishnamoorthi asked Cohen for details on when he last spoke with Trump or his agents:

Cohen: “Unfortunately this topic is actually something that’s being investigated right now by the Southern District of New York, and I’ve been asked by them not to discuss and not to talk about these issues.”

Krishnamoorthi asks if there is any other wrongdoing or illegality by Trump that Cohen is aware of:

“Yes and again those are part of the investigation that’s currently being looked at by the Southern District of New York.”

Trump’s ‘no collusion’ claims unravelling

Donald Trump and his supporters have adamantly claimed there was ‘no collision’ between his campaign and Russia leading up to the 2016 US election, but that is unravelling. One of Trump’s got to media spokespeople has shifted the goal posts substantially, now saying there was no collusion just by Trump himself.

Even if Trump was not directly involved with Russian collusion, if his campaign manager, fixit lawyer, son, daughter or son-in-law were colluding during his campaign it would not be credible to claim he knew nothing about it.

For some reason CNN was used to walk back the ‘no collusion’ claim

CNN – Rudy Giuliani just totally contradicted 18 months of ‘no collusion’ talk from Donald Trump

If you know anything about the White House’s reaction to the ongoing special counsel probe into Russia interference in the 2016 election, it’s these two words: “No collusion.”

Trump, as well as his top aides — everyone from senior counselor Kellyanne Conway to White House press secretary Sarah Sanders — has insisted since the start of Robert Mueller’s special counsel investigation in spring 2017 that no one in the Trump campaign colluded with the Russians to help his candidacy and hurt that of Hillary Clinton. In a single answer to a question about the Mueller probe last January, for example, Trump unleashed an epic seven(!) “no collusion” assertions. Here’s just a piece of that (bolding mine):
“Well, again John, there has been no collusion between the Trump campaign and Russians or Trump and Russians. No collusion. When I watch you interviewing all the people leaving their committees, I mean, the Democrats are all running for office, trying to say this that — but bottom line, they all say there’s no collusion. And there is no collusion.”
Trump’s Twitter feed, too, is choked with “no collusion” talk. According to the indispensable Trump Twitter Archive, Trump has tweeted the words “no collusion” 60 separate times, with the first coming on May 12, 2017 and the most recent happening on January 6.

All of which brings me to Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani’s interview with CNN’s Chris Cuomo on Wednesday night. And these lines from Giuliani, in particular:

“I never said there was no collusion between the campaign, or people in the campaign. I said the President of the United States. There is not a single bit of evidence the President of the United States committed the only crime you can commit here, conspiring with the Russians to hack the DNC.

But it looks like straight out bullshitting about what he ‘never said’. On Fox News in July 2018:

Fox News’ Guy Benson: “Regardless of whether collusion would be a crime, is it still the position of you and your client that there was no collusion with the Russians whatsoever on behalf of the Trump campaign?”

Giuliani: “Correct.”

This repositioning of ‘no collusion’ claims looks to be forced by what is now known.

When Giuliani started claiming that there was “no collusion” between the campaign and the Russians, we didn’t know that campaign chairman Paul Manafort had not only met with Konstantin Kilimnik, a Russia with ties to the country’s intelligence service, but had shared polling data on the 2016 race. Or that Kilimnik is a focus of Mueller’s probe.

And it appears that Mueller has already written a draft report on his inquiry into collusion. It looks like Giuliani is trying to distance Trump himself from what may be revealed.

If, say, Mueller finds collusion but not by Trump, the President and Giuliani will now say: We told you! No collusion between Trump and the Russians. This is all one big witch hunt! Mueller didn’t find anything.

If Trump could maintain some level of credibility with his base, it would make it that much harder for GOP lawmakers — especially in the Senate — to turn on him in impeachment proceedings.

None of that, however, should excuse what Giuliani was up to on Wednesday night. He was purposely trying to rewrite the history of his defense of the President of the United States in an ongoing investigation into how Russia sought to influence a national election on US soil.

And it is unlikely Giuliani is doing this without Trump being in on the ‘adjusted claim’.

One of those causing problems for Trump’s claims of co collusion is his ex-lawyer Michael Cohen, now convicted of lying to Congress.

Buzzfeed:  President Trump Directed His Attorney Michael Cohen To Lie To Congress About The Moscow Tower Project

President Donald Trump directed his longtime attorney Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about negotiations to build a Trump Tower in Moscow, according to two federal law enforcement officials involved in an investigation of the matter.

Trump also supported a plan, set up by Cohen, to visit Russia during the presidential campaign, in order to personally meet President Vladimir Putin and jump-start the tower negotiations. “Make it happen,” the sources said Trump told Cohen.

And even as Trump told the public he had no business deals with Russia, the sources said Trump and his children Ivanka and Donald Trump Jr. received regular, detailed updates about the real estate development from Cohen, whom they put in charge of the project.

Cohen pleaded guilty in November to lying about the deal in testimony and in a two-page statement to the Senate and House intelligence committees. Special counsel Robert Mueller noted that Cohen’s false claim that the project ended in January 2016 was an attempt to “minimize links between the Moscow Project and Individual 1” — widely understood to be Trump — “in hopes of limiting the ongoing Russia investigations.”

Now the two sources have told BuzzFeed News that Cohen also told the special counsel that after the election, the president personally instructed him to lie — by claiming that negotiations ended months earlier than they actually did — in order to obscure Trump’s involvement.

Cohen admitting being involved with collusion with Russia blows the ‘no campaign collusion’ denials out of the water.

The standard Trump response is to attack and try to discredit anyone threatening him. And that’s what is happening here.

If you believe Giuliani…

Cohen sentenced to 3 years in prison for Trump hush money payments

Michael Cohen, ex ‘fixer’ lawyer for Donald Trump, has been sentenced to 3 years in prison in the United States for paying hush money to silence women during the 2016 election campaign.

RNZ: Donald Trump ex-lawyer Michael Cohen sentenced to 3 years prison

He was jailed for his role in the payment of hush money to women who said they had affairs with Mr Trump, and for lying to Congress about a proposed Trump Tower project in Russia discussed during the 2016 election campaign.

Cohen had pleaded guilty in August to charges by federal prosecutors in New York that, just before the election, he paid adult film actress Stormy Daniels $US130,000 and helped arrange a $US150,000 payment to former Playboy model Karen McDougal so the women would keep quiet about their past relationships with Trump, who is married.

Cohen faced sentencing on a separate charge of lying to Congress brought by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating Russia’s role in the 2016 election and possible coordination between Trump’s campaign and Moscow. Cohen pleaded guilty to that charge last month.

Prosecutors have said the payments violated campaign finance laws. Cohen told prosecutors the payments were directed by Trump, implicating the president in a possible campaign finance law violation.

Federal law requires that the contribution of “anything of value” to a campaign must be disclosed, and an individual donation cannot exceed $US2700.

Mr Trump denies having the affairs or being involved in the payments.

It’s hard to take any Trump denials seriously given his track record of making false claims and lying. And it seems a real stretch to believe he knew nothing about substantial payments being made on his behalf.

The judge sentenced Cohen to 36 months for the payments, which violated campaign finance law, and to two months for the false statements to Congress. The two terms will run simultaneously.

Three years is a hefty sentence, especially for campaign finance violations.

Theoretically, if Trump was charged for being involved in the same offences he could face that sort of sentence too.

 

Inquiries of concern to Trump

More has been revealed about what investigators have found out from the Muller inquiry into Russian interference in the 2016 US election. The more concern Donald Trump shows the more one could wonder why he is so concerned.

Both Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen have been accused of lying too investigators. Trump claims they have been ‘pressured into lying’ by investigators. But why would they lie?

Bloomberg: Manafort Lied About Contacts With Trump Administration, Mueller Says

President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort lied to prosecutors about his efforts to reach someone in the Trump administration this year while he awaited trial and about his contacts with a business associate who had ties to Russian intelligence, according to Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

Manafort misled prosecutors in recent debriefings about his communications and a meeting with Konstantin Kilimnik, the associate with ties to Russian intelligence, according to a filing Friday in federal court in Washington by Mueller, who is investigating Russia interference in the 2016 campaign.

He also lied to investigators when he told them that he never tried to communicate a message to anyone in the Trump administration this year, prosecutors wrote.

Prosecutors said that they met 12 times with Manafort and that he testified twice to a grand jury, on Oct. 26 and Nov. 2. Mueller concluded that Manafort had “lied in multiple ways and on multiple occasions,” his prosecutors wrote in the 10-page filing, adding that “these were not instances of mere memory lapses.”

Reuters: Cohen Gave Significant Help on Russia Probe, Mueller Team Says

RealClear Politics: Prosecutors Recommend Several Years in Prison for Michael Cohen

Prosecutors offered a vastly different assessment Friday of the president’s former fixer, dismissing him as a duplicitous figure who badly misplayed his hand.

In a court filing ahead of Cohen’s sentencing next week, they assailed him as a greedy opportunist who rode Trump’s coattails to wealth and is now exaggerating his level of cooperation with investigators.

Cohen, 52, is facing the possibility of roughly four years in prison at a sentencing Dec. 12 for crimes that include tax evasion and helping to coordinate hush money payments to two women who claimed to have had affairs with Trump.

In a separate court filing, special counsel Robert Mueller’s office had a more kind view of Cohen’s cooperation, saying he had provided useful information about attempts by Russian intermediaries to influence Trump, as well as other matters.

New York prosecutors said that while Cohen was helpful, he had declined to sign a formal cooperation agreement, which would have required him to confess any other crimes he might have committed. Cohen, they wrote, wasn’t willing to do so. They suggested only a slight reduction in his sentence for his cooperation.

For the first time prosecutors have directly linked trump to arrangements to pay hush money to two women during the campaign.

Reuters:  Prosecutors Name Trump in Hush Payments to Two Women

U.S. prosecutors said on Friday President Donald Trump directed his personal lawyer to make illegal hush payments to two women ahead of the 2016 election, and also detailed a previously unknown attempt by a Russian to help the Trump campaign.

The documents turned up the heat on Trump by confirming prosecutors’ belief of his involvement in a campaign finance violation, while adding to a growing list of contacts between campaign aides and Russians in 2015 and 2016, legal experts said.

“In total, the prosecutors seem to be saying the president was more aware than he has claimed to be,” former federal prosecutor Michael Zeldin said.

While Cohen implicated the president in the hush payments to two women — adult film actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal — in his guilty plea in August in New York, the filing on Friday marked the first time federal prosecutors officially concurred.

It said Cohen made the payments in “coordination with and the direction of” Trump.

Last week, Cohen admitted to lying to congressional investigators in an attempt to minimize his efforts to secure the Kremlin’s help for a Trump skyscraper in Moscow. He has said he did so to stay in sync with Trump’s political messaging, and that he consulted with the White House while preparing to testify to Congress.

Mueller said on Friday that Cohen repeated his false statements about the project in his first meeting with Mueller’s office, admitting the truth only in a later meeting in September after he had pleaded guilty to the separate New York charges.

On Friday, Mueller said Cohen’s false statements to Congress had “obscured the fact” that the skyscraper project held the potential to reap “hundreds of millions of dollars from Russian sources” for the Trump Organization.

The future for both Manafort and Cohen looks a bit bleak. Prison is a big price to pay for trying to protect themselves and Trump.

Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has also claimed that Russia interfered in the election: Rex Tillerson makes rare public appearance in Houston

When asked if he believes that Russia interfered in the presidential elections, Tillerson replied “there’s no question” and that it was well documented by intelligence agencies.

“What Russia wants to do is undermine our confidence and undermine the world’s confidence in us,” Tillerson said.

The relationship between him and Trump became strained after the president grew tired of the former Exxon Mobil CEO telling him that he could not do things the way he wanted.

Tillerson said the two had starkly different styles and did not share a common value system.

“So often, the president would say here’s what I want to do and here’s how I want to do it and I would have to say to him, Mr. President I understand what you want to do but you can’t do it that way. It violates the law,” Tillerson said.

Trump would get very frustrated when they would have those conversations, he said.

Trump responded in typical fashion:

In the meantime Trump has attacked court decisions he doesn’t like again: Trump condemns ‘disgraceful’ 9th Circuit, dubbing it rubber-stamp for his foes

In lengthy and fiery comments to reporters outside the White House on Tuesday, President Trump excoriated the liberal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals as a “disgrace” hours after a federal judge there issued a nationwide injunction against his newly announced emergency restrictions on asylum claims.

One could question Trump’s mental capacity to be President, and whether his attacks on anyone who says something he doesn’t like and his attacks on court decisions he doesn’t like are a disgrace.

Trump successfully worked with a dysfunctional democratic system to become president, but it seems that a democracy with legal checks and balances on power are not something he wants to work with.

Trump does have the power to pardon Manafort (and Cohen but that seems unlikely after Cohen implicated Trump in shady dealings), but if he does that would be just about as bad a look as if Trump tried to interfere with or stop the Mueller investigations.

Lawyer lied to Congress to protect Trump and political message

Former White House lawyer Michael Cohen has pleaded guilty to charges of lying to the US Congress to protect Donald Trump and his political message.

Fox News: Ex-Trump attorney Michael Cohen pleads guilty to lying to Congress in Russia probe

Michael Cohen, President Trump’s former personal attorney who once famously claimed he would “take a bullet” for his boss, pleaded guilty Thursday to lying to Congress about a Trump real estate project in Russia in the latest development in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.

He pleaded guilty to making false statements to the Senate Intelligence Committee in 2017 about a plan to build a Trump Tower in Moscow. Cohen’s attorney, Lanny Davis, was not present in court on Thursday. Instead, he was represented by attorneys Guy Petrillo and Amy Lusker.

Thursday marked the first time Mueller’s team charged Cohen as part of its investigation into Russian meddling and potential collusion with Trump campaign associates during the 2016 presidential election.

“Cohen made the false statements to minimize links between the Moscow Project and Individual 1 [Trump] and give the false impression that the Moscow Project ended before ‘the Iowa caucus … the very first primary,’ in hopes of limiting the ongoing Russia investigations,” Mueller wrote Thursday.

“Cohen did recall that in or around January 2016, Cohen received a response from the office of Russian Official 1, the Press Secretary for the President of Russia, and spoke to a member of that office about the Moscow Project,” Mueller added.

After entering his plea, Cohen addressed the court for several minutes.

“Prior to the 2016 elections, I was a counsel and advisor to Donald Trump Organization. By 2016, I no longer did that work, but I continued to work for Donald Trump who became President of the United States, referenced as Individual 1 in the agreement,” Cohen said in court Thursday. “I continued to follow the political messaging of Individual 1 and his advisors. I was aware that Individual 1 said he was not tied to Russia, attacks were politically motivated, and all interactions were terminated by the time of the Iowa Caucuses.”

Cohen added that in 2017 when he appeared before the Senate Intelligence Committee, he gave a “false” description of the Moscow Project.

“I asserted all efforts ceased in January 2016 when they kept going until June 2016,” he said. “There were more extensive communications. I said I never contemplated travel or spoke to Individual 1 regarding travel, but I did.”

He added: “I would like to add that I never did travel to Russia and I have never been to Moscow. I made the statement to keep up with political messaging and out of loyalty.”

So he has admitted lying to Congress to protect trump and his political messaging.

Fox (opinion) – Dershowitz: New Cohen Guilty Plea Another Example of Mueller Probe ‘Creating’ Crimes

Harvard Law Professor Emeritus Alan Dershowitz said Thursday that Michael Cohen’s new guilty plea is another example of crimes being created as a result of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.

That’s bullshit. Congressional investigations are an essential part of the US democratic system. Lying to Congress is a very serious issue. Cohen created the crime by lying.

Fox (opinion) – Judge Nap: Cohen Plea Is ‘Tip of the Iceberg,’ and Rest of Iceberg Is at Mueller’s Office

Trump’s rapid response in attacking Cohen suggests he is concerned about this development. And it is not the only thing piling pressure on Trump.

CNBC: Trump suggests he has inside information on the Russia probe, hours after Mueller said former campaign chief Manafort violated plea deal

Hours after former campaign chairman Paul Manafort was accused of lying to federal investigators in violation of his plea deal, President Donald Trump fumed against special counsel Robert Mueller, claiming his probe is “ruining lives” and suggesting that he had inside information about the investigation.

As he pilloried the special counsel, Trump echoed the salvos against the investigation recently launched by right-wing conspiracy monger Jerome Corsi, who claimed Monday that he rejected a plea dealoffered by Mueller. Corsi had said that he would “rather sit in prison and rot” than say he lied to Mueller.

“Wait until it comes out how horribly & viciously they are treating people, ruining lives for them refusing to lie,” Trump tweeted Tuesday. “The Fake News Media builds Bob Mueller up as a Saint, when in actuality he is the exact opposite. He is doing TREMENDOUS damage to our Criminal Justice System, where he is only looking at one side and not the other.”

This all looks to be far from over.

 

Michael Cohen’s lawyer fed media story, falsely denied it

The political/legal circus in the United States takes another twist, with Michael Cohen’s lawyer now admitting he was an anonymous source for a CNN story making controversial claims about a Trump Tower meeting, and then lied about it on air.

In the US it is common for lawyers to use the media to try to portray things to their clients’ advantage, but that can backfire.

Washington Post: Michael Cohen’s lawyer has severely undermined to the case against Trump

In a pair of new interviews with The Washington Post and BuzzFeed, Davis has backed off two massive claims he made in recent weeks, including that former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen had told people he witnessed President Trump being informed of Donald Trump Jr.’s 2016 Trump Tower meeting with a Russian lawyer before it happened. He has also admitted he was the source for the initial report on that claim — despite denying it last week.

Davis also backed off his claim, this time made on the record, that Cohen has information suggesting that Trump knew in advance about Russian hacking of Democrats’ emails in 2016. “I am not sure,” Davis said. “There’s a possibility that is the case. But I am not sure.”

And in the BuzzFeed interview, Davis acknowledged he was a source for the anonymously sourced CNN story that first reported on the Trump Tower claim — despite having denied it last week by saying on CNN’s airwaves. “I made a mistake,” he said of his denial, adding: “I did not mean to be cute.” He claimed he didn’t lie but rather “unintentionally misspoke.”

However this came about it’s damaging to Cohen’s credibility. Davis is his lawyer and spokesman, after all, which means these claims effectively came from Cohen himself. Davis is now trying to take ownership of them and take the blame himself, but the explanations he offers are really difficult to accept, especially given the gravity of the claims.

And that has bearing on both the Russia investigation and whatever problems Trump may encounter from the Southern District of New York’s plea deal with Cohen on a campaign-finance violation (in which Cohen also implicated Trump). Cohen was supposed to be the guy flipping on Trump and telling investigators everything he knows about the skeletons in Trump’s closet.

This episode has to make everyone involved wonder whether his claims are all they’re made out to be — up to and including his claim that Trump knew about the hush-money payments beforehand. Regardless of how you want all of this to shake out, it’s best to base a case around people who won’t undermine it.

Cohen wasn’t a fantastic witness before; he’s a worse one now.

The investigators won’t be pleased about this legal circus in the media.

One of the most bizarre aspects of the investigations engulfing the Trump administration is the lawyers involved. Here we have a presidency on the line, and this is Trump’s team? The top legal spokesmen for each side are … Rudolph W. Giuliani and Lanny Davis!?

Giuliani has played media games as well.

The lawyers are almost making politicians look good in comparison.

Lame predictable responses from Trump under increasing pressure

Donald Trump is facing increasing pressures after Paul Manafort and especially Michael Cohen are now guilty of fairly serious crimes, and face years in prison. Manafort was locked up before his trial, and Cohen has made an agreement with prosecutors of a 4-6 year prison sentence.

Manafort has kept a distance between his problems and Trump, and Trump has done likewise.

Not so Cohen, who along with his lawyer has directly implicated Trump in electoral crime. So Trump has been predictable in attacking Cohen on Twitter in response, attack is his usual form of defence.

I feel very badly for Paul Manafort and his wonderful family. “Justice” took a 12 year old tax case, among other things, applied tremendous pressure on him and, unlike Michael Cohen, he refused to “break” – make up stories in order to get a “deal.” Such respect for a brave man!

A large number of counts, ten, could not even be decided in the Paul Manafort case. Witch Hunt!

The ‘witch hunt’ claims are getting stale. Eight guilty verdicts, on top of other successes, are signs of a successful Mueller investigation so far.

Michael Cohen plead guilty to two counts of campaign finance violations that are not a crime. President Obama had a big campaign finance violation and it was easily settled!

Either ignorance or lying about the campaign finance violations, and then the usual diversion to another target.

Mueller and various investigators won’t care about what Trump tweets, unless they gather than as further evidence. The President is flailing futilely on Twitter.

Fox News kept cheerleading Trump yesterday on Twitter and via sycophants like Hannity, but also looked at the serious side of what Trump faces.

Their current headline article:

Will Cohen’s bombshell admissions sink Trump? Here’s what top legal experts say

UNCOMMON PLEAS

Will Cohen’s bombshell admissions sink Trump? Here’s what top legal experts say

Michael Cohen’s plea deal chucked a live political grenade into the debate over President Trump’s legal exposure – but that debate is far from settled, as experts clash over whether his implication of the president in campaign finance violations will amount to anything.

The president’s former longtime personal attorney and self-described “fixer” entered a guilty plea with federal prosecutors on Tuesday, admitting to violating campaign finance laws by arranging hush money payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal “at the direction” of then-candidate Trump.

Trump, though, claimed the move to pay off the two women was not a crime — while suggesting such allegations can be settled by fine.

Trump has now notably not denied the payments were made, and has switched to claiming it isn’t a crime and it can be easily settled.

But Lanny Davis, Cohen’s attorney, argued there is little room for interpretation here.

“There is no question that he’s committed a federal crime,” Davis told Fox News’ “America’s Newsroom” on Wednesday. He also argued that it’s never been settled whether a sitting president can be indicted, despite suggestions to the contrary from Trump allies.

Davis added that his client, under oath on Tuesday, admitted to making the “donations to keep quiet two women” at Trump’s direction.

Mr. Trump wasn’t willing to sign those checks himself. He directed Mr. Cohen to make those hush money payments, [which is] a federal crime,” Davis said. “If Michael Cohen agreed to that, then certainly Donald Trump is guilty of the same crime.”

But Fox found people who backed Trump’s claim.

But former commissioner at the Federal Election Commission, Hans von Spakovsky, said that Cohen’s decision to plead guilty does not necessarily mean Trump violated the law.

“This is not a violation because this was not a campaign-related offense,” Spakovsky told Fox News on Wednesday. “Yes, Cohen pleaded guilty to it, yeah Cohen paid it, but then Cohen was reimbursed by Trump.”

The plea deal states that the payments were in fact meant to influence the election, though that could be argued by Trump’s lawyers if it ever came to that. Spakovsky said Trump had a history of making these kinds of payments before he was a candidate.

Harvard Law professor emeritus Alan Dershowitz, a frequent defender of the president, made a similar argument.

“You have to show that it’s a crime,” he told “Fox & Friends.” He said it’s “not a crime” for a candidate like Trump to contribute to his own campaign, and probably not even a crime to direct someone else to contribute if he plans to pay that back.

Further, Dershowitz said, “The only evidence that the president did anything that might be unlawful … comes from a man who’s admitted to be a liar.”

“There are a lot of barriers,” he said, “We’re far away from [an] impeachable offense or a criminal offense on the part of the president.”

Still, at this stage, it doesn’t look flash for Trump. His denials keep changing as information is revealed.

Who can trust Trump’s claims there was ‘no collusion’. He’s well known as a liar, and has just been proven to have lied again over the hush money.

Richard Painter, former White House chief ethics counsel under former President George W. Bush, said that while Cohen’s guilty plea gives Trump “exposure” to criminal prosecution, these types of cases “can be difficult to win.”

“It is not entirely clear how these cases turn out, as we found out with Edwards,” Painter told Fox News. He added, though, that he felt the Cohen-Trump payments were “more serious” than former President Bill Clinton lying about Monica Lewinsky, as “campaign finance is more important to our democracy than the president lying under oath in a civil case.”

Painter added that while there is “potential criminal liability,” it is “not cut and dry.” He suggested Trump’s problems go beyond Cohen.

“If you had a president with no other legal problems, who just had the Cohen problem, I would say the outcome of a criminal trial for Trump, based on that alone, is a maybe, maybe not situation,” Painter explained.

“But Trump’s problem is not just this. He has the whole Russia thing. He has two big problems. One, is what his own involvement or knowledge of collusion was, and the second, where he has much more exposure, and is digging his own grave, is obstruction of justice.”

The Paul Manafort guilty verdicts were distant enough to Trump’s campaign to be easy to dismiss as just a poor choice of campaign manager – if they were the only thing in the news.

But added to the Cohen please and claims, and all the other guilty please and bargaining, Trump’s legal problems are snowballing. His persistent lying peppers the snowball with stones.

Professor of law at George Washington University Jonathan Turley, though, said Trump could end up an “unindicted co-conspirator” in the Cohen matter.

On Wednesday, he agreed that the Cohen plea alone would not make “a particularly strong case,” but suggested there’s more to come.

“You have the president’s lawyer implicating him in a federal crime. How Trump responds to that is going to be very key,” Turley said on “America’s Newsroom” Wednesday. “But the Justice Department certifies that they believe these allegations are accurate. That should be quite chilling, because this isn’t some immaculate crime committed by Cohen alone.”

Turley said that federal prosecutors, now, will likely pursue other “collateral or central players.”

This is only an escalation in legal exposure for Trump. The snowball keeps growing, and his tweets are legally impotent, and potentially legally damaging.

Cohen, Manafort guilty, increased jeopardy for Trump

The Jury in the Paula Manafort trial returning eight guilty verdicts was bad for Manafort, who could also face retrial on the other ten charges and has another trial booked in next month on yet more charges.

On it’s own I don’t think it would have been particularly bad for Donald Trump, despite him having had Manafort manage his campaign for three months in 2016. The offending was prior to this association.

But there was a near simultaneous double whammy, with Trump’ ex personal lawyer Michael Cohen pleading guilty to eight charges in an agreement with prosecutors that will ‘limit’ his sentence to somewhere between four and six years in prison.

This on top of the Manafort verdicts looks bad for Trump, with the total whammy amounting to more than the sum of the parts.

And it gets worse, as Cohen has implicated trump in illegal actions during the election campaign.

Fox News: Michael Cohen admits violating campaign finance laws in plea deal, agrees to 3-5 year sentence

The precise range of sentence varies in reports, but it’s somewhere around that. For someone with no priors, used to a good standard of living and with a young family, that is a substantial penalty.

Michael Cohen, President Trump’s longtime personal attorney, admitted Tuesday to violating federal campaign finance laws by arranging hush money payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal “at the direction” of then-candidate Trump.

In entering the plea, Cohen did not specifically name the two women or even Trump, recounting instead that he worked with an “unnamed candidate.” But the amounts and the dates all lined up with the payments made to Daniels and McDougal.

In a statement, Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani said: “There is no allegation of any wrongdoing against the President in the government’s charges against Mr. Cohen. It is clear that, as the prosecutor noted, Mr. Cohen’s actions reflect a pattern of lies and dishonesty over a significant period of time.”

Guilani seems to be fibbing or mistaken. Trump wasn’t named as co-conspirator in court, but he was by Cohen’s lawyer afterwards.

Cohen attorney Lanny Davis said his client had pleaded guilty “so that his family can move on to the next chapter.

“This is Michael fulfilling his promise made on July 2nd to put his family and country first and tell the truth about Donald Trump,” Davis added. “Today he stood up and testified under oath that Donald Trump directed him to commit a crime by making payments to two women for the principal purpose of influencing an election. If those payments were a crime for Michael Cohen, then why wouldn’t they be a crime for Donald Trump?”

Separately, Davis told Fox News that Cohen’s involvement in the Trump-Russia investigation does not end with the plea deal, but in fact “it is only the beginning.”

Davis added that Cohen will speak with whoever is investigating the president to make sure the truth about Trump gets out.

Cohen has been labelled a rat by Trump supporters, so they are obviously concerned about where this might go.

MSNBC:  Cohen more than happy to tell Mueller all that he knows: attorney

Lanny Davis, attorney for former Donald Trump attorney Michael Cohen, tells Rachel Maddow that Cohen has knowledge that should be of interest to Robert Mueller and he is happy to tell Mueller what he knows…

“Mr. Cohen has knowledge on certain subjects that should be of interest to the special counsel and is more than happy to tell the special counsel all that he knows”.

“Not just about the obvious possibility of a conspiracy to collude and corrupt the American democracy system in the 2016 election, which the Trump Tower meeting was all about, but also 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.”

So Trump may be sweating on that for a while, until Cohen reveals everything he knows, and until Mueller plays his next legal hand. It looks certain that this saga is far from at it’s conclusion.

This puts Trump in potentially very tricky position. I doubt he will be charged or any serious attempt will be made to impeach him while president, but it must be getting increasingly difficult for Republicans to continue supporting Trump or tolerating his fecklessness and recklessness, especially those who face mid term elections in November.

There will be some interest in how Trump responds on Twitter overnight. He has been becoming more verbose with his claims, fibs and attacks lately – this could push him further, or he could heed advice and at least become somewhat more cautious.

Michael Cohen less loyal to Trump

President Donald Trump’s longtime personal attorney and a former executive vice president at the Trump Organization — has always insisted he would remain loyal to the president.

He was the fix-it guy, the pit bull so fiercely protective of his boss that he’d once described himself as “the guy who would take a bullet” for the president.

But in his first in-depth interview since the FBI raided his office and homes in April, Cohen strongly signaled his willingness to cooperate with special counsel Robert Mueller and federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York — even if that puts President Trump in jeopardy.

“My wife, my daughter and my son have my first loyalty and always will,” Cohen told me. “I put family and country first.”

When I asked Cohen directly what he would do if prosecutors forced him to choose between protecting the president and protecting his family, he said his family is “my first priority.”

Cohen added: “Once I understand what charges might be filed against me, if any at all, I will defer to my new counsel, Guy Petrillo, for guidance.”

But when I pointed out to Cohen that he wasn’t repeating past vows to “take a bullet” and “do anything” to protect the president, the longtime Trump loyalist left little doubt about where he stands now, saying simply: “To be crystal clear, my wife, my daughter and my son, and this country have my first loyalty.”

Once Petrillo fully assumes his role, a joint defense agreement Cohen shared with the president, which allowed their lawyers to share information and documents with each other, will come to an end, ABC News has learned.

Prosecutors in New York’s Southern District are investigating Cohen for alleged violations of election law and possible financial crimes associated with his personal business dealings.

He hasn’t been charged with a specific crime yet. He wouldn’t answer questions about specific legal questions.

His attitude to the FBI and to Mueller’s investigation contrasts with Trump’s.

After federal agents searched Cohen’s New York properties, Trump described the raid as a break-in, an “attack on our country, in a true sense. It’s an attack on what we all stand for.”

“I don’t agree with those who demonize or vilify the FBI. I respect the FBI as an institution, as well as their agents. When they searched my hotel room and my home, it was obviously upsetting to me and my family. Nonetheless, the agents were respectful, courteous and professional. I thanked them for their service and as they left, we shook hands.”

Cohen also refused to criticize the Mueller investigation.

“I don’t like the term witch hunt,” he said, adding that he condemned Russia for interfering in the 2016 election.

“As an American, I repudiate Russia’s or any other foreign government’s attempt to interfere or meddle in our democratic process, and I would call on all Americans to do the same”.

And in a direct rebuttal to President Trump, who sent out a tweet last week repeating Vladimir Putin’s claim that Russia did not interfere in our election, Cohen added this: “Simply accepting the denial of Mr. Putin is unsustainable.”

He denies he acted improperly, but criticises some from the Trump campaign.

Cohen believes Mueller will not find any evidence that he had any illegal or improper dealings with the Russians.

But Cohen did criticize those members of the Trump campaign who participated in that now infamous Trump Tower meeting in June of 2016 with several Russians after being promised dirt on Hillary Clinton.

“I believe it was a mistake by those from the Trump campaign who did participate,” he said. “It was simply an example of poor judgment.”

He said he tried to make ‘good faith judgments’, but acknowledges he is not perfect.

This interview, he hopes, will be a first step towards his ultimate goal: “Resolution.”

“I want to regain my name and my reputation and my life back,” he said.

Whether that will be at the cost of other people’s reputations is yet to be seen as his prosecution and the Mueller investigation grind on.

CNN  last Friday on others being investigated: Mueller wants to delay sentencing for Michael Flynn

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s office is still working with former national security adviser Michael Flynn, according to a status report before his sentencing Friday.

“Due to the status of the Special Counsel’s investigation, the parties do not believe this matter is ready to be scheduled at this time,” the filing said.

Two other defendants in the special counsel’s investigation, however, are moving toward sentencing.

Campaign aide George Papadopoulos is scheduled for sentencing on September 7 for lying.

Richard Pinedo, an online auctioneer of fake IDs, will be sentenced in mid-September or later for identity fraud.

Mueller’s prosecutors have continued to bring witnesses before a federal grand jury in DC in recent weeks, indicating they hope to levy more criminal charges.

This all looks like taking some time to come to a conclusion.