President Trump’s former ‘fixer,’ Michael Cohen, testified before Congress for the first time since pleading guilty to lying before Congress and receiving a sentence of 3-years for perjury. In his opening statement, which was released before his official testimony, Cohen likely exonerated President Trump of most, if not all legal concerns.
There were three main concerns: did Trump instruct Cohen to lie to Congress, did Trump collude with Russia, and did Trump violate campaign finance laws. On top of these questions, Cohen also raised several other concerns relating to alleged racist comments, unethical business tactics, and other various incidents nobody actually cared about. Trump is not necessarily the nicest person, we all know this. Viewers were not interested in a character testimony.
In the words of Michael Cohen, “Mr. Trump did not directly tell me to lie to Congress. That’s not how he operates.” This is a blunt admission that Trump did not conspire to commit perjury, in regards to private dealings where he planned to build a hotel in Moscow, one of the main criminal accusations levied against him. Building the hotel is not evidence of wrongdoing, lying about it before Congress is. This would be similar to how Bill Clinton got impeached.
In a follow up, Cohen stated “in conversations we had during the campaign, at the same time I was actively negotiating in Russia for him, he would look me in the eye and tell 5 me there’s no business in Russia and then go out and lie to the American people by saying the same thing. In his way, he was telling me to lie.” Cohen, while trying to imply guilt, continued to admit there was no direct or actual order to lie.
The second legal claim is President Trump is in cahoots with Russia. “He never expected to win the primary” Cohen said about Trump, ‘”e never expected to win the general election.” For someone to make a quid pro quo deal with Putin, one would have to anticipate a victory. Cohen claims Trump ran as a marketing ploy, so there is no motivation nor intention to win and craft favorable policy toward Russia in exchange for assistance in a victory. For this to be collusion, Trump would have to offer something up in return, if he was not taking the race seriously, there would be nothing to offer.
When pressed on whether he saw evidence of collusion, Cohen denied it saying “I wouldn’t use the word colluding.” As of now, without knowing what exactly is in the final Mueller report, there is no evidence of collusion. Which was the whole reason for the massive investigation.
Regarding a controversial Trump Tower meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and a Russian lawyer, Cohen recalls “Don Jr. came into the room and walked behind his father’s desk – which in itself was unusual. People didn’t just walk behind Mr. Trump’s desk to talk to him. I recalled Don Jr. leaning over to his father and speaking in a low voice, which I could clearly hear, and saying: ‘The meeting is all set.” I remember Mr. Trump saying, “Ok good…let me know.'” Reference to a meeting, which Cohen has zero knowledge of, and it can be argued, with his history of perjury, never happened, is not enough evidence to support President Trump’s knowledge of the meeting.
Roger Stone, a close advisor to President Trump, as arrested for perjury, a common case being rallied against Trump associates. Mueller claims Stone knew about Wikileaks email dumps and discussed it with the campaign, which Stone denied under oath. Cohen claimed, “Mr. Trump knew from Roger Stone in advance about the WikiLeaks drop of emails.”
In Trumps Office, Cohen recalls Trump putting Stone on speakerphone where “Mr. Stone told Mr. Trump that he had just gotten off the phone with Julian Assange and that Mr. Assange told Mr. Stone that, within a couple of days, there would be a massive dump of emails that would damage Hillary Clinton’s campaign.” What was Trump’s reaction?
“Mr. Trump responded by stating to the effect of ‘wouldn’t that be great.'” Being told of an email dump and calling that possibility “great” does not rise to the level of Russia/WikiLeaks collusion being claimed by Democrats. Knowledge of something possibly happening is not a crime, nor anywhere near the level of actively coordinating with Assange.
Because Trump has a long history of paying off women he slept with, and many other semi-shady business dealings, paying off a pornstar to protect his reputation is a reasonable assumption when it comes to the motives behind the $135,000 hush money. Cohen admits he followed Trump’s orders “without bothering to consider whether that was improper.” As a lawyer, it is his responsibility to know whether campaign actions are illegal or not. Trump is in no way a legal expert, and with Cohen not stating he advised against it, it can only be assumed Trump was ignorant to the fact that it could be wrong. Even then, paying off people to protect your reputation, especially because Cohen claimed Trump did not assume he would win, is not a campaign expenditure.
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