Virtually nothing in Michael Cohen’s guilty plea on Thursday surprised me because I had already written about the fact that Cohen and Trump lied about the Trump Tower Moscow project. In fact, in May, I said those lies were impeachable. The basic contours of the story were exposed that month in a BuzzFeed piece written by Anthony Cormier and Jason Leopold, although I had been writing about it two weeks prior to their scoop. At least on the surface, what happened yesterday was nothing but an acknowledgment by Cohen that the reporting in May had been correct – meaning that he had perjured himself before Congress.
In truth, you can go all the way back to an August 28, 2017 piece by Matt Apuzzo and Maggie Haberman in the New York Times to see the first contours of this story. I responded to the Times article at the time with my piece, Trump Has Been Lying About Russia and Felix Sater All Along. The most significant takeaways from yesterday were that Michael Cohen agreed to tell the truth about his role in the saga, and that he’s now in a cooperating role of some kind with the special counsel’s office.
It’s really the cooperation of Michael Cohen’s childhood friend Felix Sater that made this conviction possible. I have written about him a lot (see, e.g., Trump’s SoHo Project, the Mob, and Russian Intelligence), and he liked my My Movie Script on Felix Sater piece so much that he recently tried to contact me by email, LinkedIn and direct message on Twitter in an effort to convince me to go ahead with the project. He even offered to help.
Here’s the email portion of that outreach effort.
I’m not inclined to get involved with Felix Sater since one of his friends in that script got a public Bay Ridge, Brooklyn beatdown from a mafia associate and the other wound up in a penal colony in Siberia. But someone else should definitely go ahead and make the movie because it will be ten times better than Good Fellas.
The important thing is that he didn’t once suggest in any of his messages that I’d gotten anything wrong. He “lived the article” and thought it was great.
I confess that I get a little frustrated when I see CNN’s legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin saying that he never thought Trump might not survive his full term in office until he saw Cohen’s plea on Thursday. This is the biggest story in the world right now and Toobin seems shocked to learn a sparse amount of the details.
Then there’s former federal prosecutor Ken White in The Atlantic informing us that “these developments would, under normal circumstances, end a presidency” but that “we’re numb to it all.”
I don’t actually think we’re numb to it all. I think we’ve had enough threads of the story for long enough to know that Trump cannot survive without the Senate Republicans setting a new world record for turning a blind eye. And the only reason that they might be able to get away with that is the same reason that these revelations came as a surprise to some of the people paid to cover this story. There’s a lot of folks who aren’t doing their jobs well enough to overcome the misinformation factories on the other side and force the American people to pay attention and understand.