Michael Cohen Saga
The government has recovered 731 pages of encrypted text messages from the devices seized from Michael Cohen – from WhatsApp and Signal. They’ve also reassembled 16 pages of documents from inside Cohen’s paper shredder. (Paper Shredder best practices fail.) They’re still working on one of the Blackberries they seized.
Meanwhile, Rudy Giuliani, the President’s lawyer, apparently felt it was necessary to explicitly reassure Paul Manafort that a pardon could be in the cards for him after he was sent to jail today.
This evening on Sean Hannity’s program Rudy Giuliani demanded that Robert Mueller suspend his investigation and then said that Sessions and Rosenstein had one day to “redeem” themselves by ending Mueller’s probe and jailing FBI agent Peter Strzok. This is the President’s lead lawyer. Read More
A simple, short quotation from a piece today in Vanity Fair about Michael Cohen.
“The breakup was also spurred by a disagreement over payment, and how much the Trump Organization was expected to foot on Cohen’s behalf, according to two sources with knowledge of the dispute.”
Then there’s this from the Times: “The dispute between Mr. Cohen and his lawyers involves the payment of his legal bills, part of which are being financed by the Trump family.”
It speaks for itself. The Trump Organization is Donald Trump. Full stop. Why is the President paying any of Michael Cohen’s legal bills? How much is he paying and has he paid? We knew that the Trump campaign paid money last year. But that was supposedly tied to answering questions before the Russia committees which is at least notionally tied to the campaign. But this is Trump personally. Why is President Trump paying Michael Cohen’s legal bills?
I’ve been wondering the same thing as TPM Reader GG all day long. It’s a whole other issue that the President’s private criminal defense attorney shouldn’t be opining, seemingly on his behalf, about high-stakes national security issues. But this comment … Rudy told a conference in Tel Aviv that “Kim Jong Un got back on his hands and knees and begged for it, which is exactly the position you want to put him in.”
What is going on with Team Trump appearing to go for the most inflammatory possible language in relation to Kim? Between Bolton’s Libya nonsense and Rudy’s “begging on his knees” remark, surely we have to note a pattern of extreme provocation that seems laser-focused on upending the summit.
The issue of presidential pardons raises an important issue with “norms”. I have written many times over the years that Presidents don’t use the pardon power nearly enough. The pardon power is archaic and in some ways hard to reconcile with our modern concepts of justice and judicial process. But mercy is an important element of justice. Indeed, without a role for mercy there can be no justice. There are many people rotting in prison who shouldn’t be there, even if they were guilty of the crimes for which they were convicted. In the past, the pardon was used sometimes for reasons as simple as managing prison over crowding. Sentences do not need to be sacrosanct. The pardon power is a tool to cut through the harsh indifference of criminal law and right wrongs. Read More
As you could probably tell if you read my morning item on Gene Freidman and Michael Cohen, I was struggling to figure out how the Michael Cohen raids were related to the much sweeter deal New York State prosecutors offered “Taxi King” Gene Freidman after April 9th. I think TPM Reader JO’s explanation makes perfect sense. In fact, it makes so much sense I’m really kicking myself for not figuring it out myself. But you can’t win ’em all.
From TPM Reader JO … Read More