Tuesday afternoon, following days of deliberation, the jury in former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort’s trial found him guilty of fraud — but that’s not all. The same afternoon, former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to an array of charges including tax fraud, bank fraud, and campaign finance law violations — and implicated the president.
He drew in the president in his explanation of his campaign finance law violations, which included the $130,000 in hush money he gave adult film star Stormy Daniels covering an affair with his boss. He asserted that he delivered that money — keeping the cash, which amounted to a campaign contribution, a secret — at the direction of Donald Trump. The president was also in on an effort to silence former Playboy model Karen McDougal, Cohen confirmed, an effort that also constituted illegal activity.
Cohen already released a tape of him and Trump discussing the effort to silence McDougal, and on another front, he’s already been accused of conspiring with the National Enquirer — the Trump-aligned media outlet that originally bought her story. This week’s developments, though, confirm these aspects to the story and draw the current president of the United States into federal crimes.
Trump did not rush to tweet on the subject, although he has addressed Cohen taping the two of them discussing personally buying up McDougal’s story in the past. Tuesday night, though, he is appearing before a rally crowd in West Virginia. He’s lied in the past, claiming to have had nothing to do with the hush money, and there’s nothing to stop him from lying again — but the truth remains the truth, no matter what the president’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani says.
Now, with Cohen formally confirming in court that Trump directed him to commit the crimes he’s set to spend years in jail for, why Giuliani and the rest of Trump’s team has been so hesitant to have the president testify is more clear than ever. If he lies to investigators — boom, he’s guilty of a crime and on the fast track to impeachment.
Cohen’s lawyer Lanny Davis — who’s worked with the Clintons in the past — commented on this week’s developments in his client’s case, tweeting:
‘Today [Cohen] 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?’
That question won’t vaporize, instead hanging over the Trump administration for the foreseeable future. The president of the United States has been formally implicated in criminal activity in a court.
Although he didn’t initially offer comment on the subject — his first post-guilty plea tweet was about his Tuesday rally — Trump did respond late Tuesday to another concurrent issue his administration is facing — former Trump campaign chairman’s Paul Manafort guilty verdict delivered Tuesday.
He used the opportunity to attack Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation for supposedly veering off the rails, but he’s not getting off the hook that easily.
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