charge, cohen, Collusion, conspiracy to defraud, false statements, felix sater, fixer, guilty, house of representative, House of Representatives Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Impeachment, individual 1, individual 2, Lawyer, Michael, Moscow Project, Mueller, president, russia, Senate, Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Special Counsel, trump, Trump Tower
Michael Cohen, President Trump’s former lawyer, pleaded guilty earlier today to a charge of “false statements,” for lying to Congress about the extent of his and President Trump’s involvement in plan to build a “Trump Tower” in Moscow, Russia. Cohen falsely represented, in a letter sent to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and House of Representatives Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, that 1) “The ‘Moscow Project’ ended in January 2016 and was not discussed extensively with others in the Company;” 2) “Cohen never agreed to travel to Russia in connection with the Moscow Project and ‘never considered’ asking [President Trump] to travel for the project;” and 3) “Cohen did not recall any Russian government response or contact about the Moscow Project.” In fact Cohen communicated with Felix Sater, a real estate developer with Russian ties, about the project; told Sater he would travel to Russia; addressed Trump about the possibility of Trump traveling to Russia; and communicated directly with Russian officials about the project.
Obviously this looks bad for Trump. The evidence of these ongoing communications with Russian agents strengthen the case for collusion/conspiracy to defraud in that it helps to establish, at least, that Trump’s confidant and fixer had strong ties to Russia while Trump was campaigning for office, and goes a long way towards establishing that Trump had such ties as well. While that doesn’t get us all the way to conspiracy to defraud, it certainly helps to bring us closer. One email written by Sater in November 2015 about the project may be damning. It read in part: “our boy can become President of the USA and we can engineer it.”
Mary Altaffer, AP
Steve Smith said:
Do you think Whitaker signed off on this plea agreement?
Not sure that he’d be required to. Moreover, he’d have to have an awfully good reason not to approve, and it’s hard to think of one. Remember that, as unqualified as Whitaker is for his position and as much as he’s signaled a willingness to run interference for Trump, he is, I suspect, smart enough to realize that he’s on the hot seat now. If he takes actions to thwart Mueller that can’t reasonably be justified, he’s courting both professional damage and even indictment for obstruction himself.
Steve Smith said:
Not to mention the prospect that every action he takes may be void ab initio if it is determined that his appointment is unconstitutional.
Joseph Charles said:
Apart from the specific allegations of conspiracy to defraud, do you think Trump’s systematic and ongoing deception of the American people—and his close associates lies to Congress on his behalf—is evidence of his unfitness for the office? Is it a necessary but not yet sufficient evidence of unfitness?
I keep returning to one basic thought: When I compare what Trump wanted us to believe with what we have discovered since 2016, there is an abyss between them.
Maybe you address this in your book, which I am looking forward to reading. And I am glad you are back to this blog. It’s one of the few reliable sources about impeachment that aims for maximum legal objectivity about the state of this presidency.
If your question is whether a pattern of chronic or pathological falsehoods that violate no criminal statute could nonetheless form part of a constitutionally sound theory of impeachment, the answer is yes. I discussed the general point on this blog some months ago — https://impeachableoffenses.net/2017/10/08/lying-as-an-impeachable-offense-part-iii-chronic-or-pervasive-falsehood/
I’ve developed my thinking a little more since then and may expand in a later post. [And yes, this is in the book. :-)]
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