Trump Can’t Stop the Cohen Investigation

Callum Borchers states the obvious in the Washington Post but in a very concise and satisfying way:

President Trump has not been tweeting like a man with nothing to fear.

Over the weekend, he tried to project confidence that his longtime personal lawyer, Michael Cohen — under federal investigation for possible bank fraud, wire fraud and campaign finance violations — will not flip to avoid legal trouble. But in doing so, and skipping a denial of wrongdoing, the president implied two things.

One is that Cohen would need to strike a deal with prosecutors to avoid charges or prison time. Trump’s tweet did not even entertain the idea that the investigation will turn up nothing because Cohen committed no crimes.

The second is that Cohen possesses damaging information about the president. Trump said he believes Cohen will keep his mouth shut, not that Cohen can talk all he wants because there is no dirt to dish.

I wish I could somehow get every American to read those words over and over again until each and every person in this country internalized their meaning.

After all, maybe Donald Trump is correct and Cohen will need to strike a deal but will instead do hard time to protect his friend, the president. That would be a somewhat mystifying decision on Cohen’s part, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility. But why does the president need this kind of protection? Why do we have a president that’s this criminally exposed?

Do we really need to see what Cohen has to say to know that something is already catastrophically wrong with this picture?

Trump did allow that Cohen might make up lies about him in an effort to get himself out of trouble, so he has devised a fallback position. But even this isn’t very satisfying. Trump said he only hires the best people, but his personal lawyer is a crook who would present false evidence against him? That’s literally the best that Trump can do here?

So far, the White House won’t rule out a pardon for Cohen, and dangling that possibility may be their best hope for preventing him from cooperating and testifying. But they can’t pardon state crimes, and Cohen may have violated a boatload of crimes from New York to Delaware to Nevada and California. If Cohen accepts a pardon, he also loses his right to plead the fifth amendment since he that’s a defense against self-incrimination. But you can’t be legally incriminated for a crime that you’ve been pardoned for committing.

Finally, this all presupposes that the government needs Cohen to cooperate. I’m sure they’d love to have him tell all he knows, but they have his laptops, emails, cell phones and legal records. If he doesn’t want to talk, the evidence they already have will do the talking for him.

Cohen knows this, and if doesn’t understand it all just yet, his attorneys will soon explain it for him. They’ll try to suppress the evidence, but if they fail there is no one, including the president, who thinks that this is just some witch hunt. This is the real deal, and there’s nothing Trump can do now to contain it.

Martin Longman

Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly and the main blogger at Booman Tribune.