Last week, Trump threw out plenty of shiny objects to divert attention from the story he wants to avoid: Michael Cohen. It now appears that Trump is throwing Cohen under the bus.
Cohen’s background is interesting. Admittedly a poor student, he graduated from one of the worst law schools in the country and then amassed great wealth relatively quickly. As Cohen and his family members purchased multiple units in Trump buildings, he came to Trump’s attention and accepted a job for the organization in 2006.
He became known as Trump’s “Fixer.” Now he’s in a fix.
Occasionally, Cohen appeared as a Trump surrogate during the campaign. But his more important contributions to the cause were happening behind the scenes. Cohen’s most recent notoriety arises from his role in allegedly orchestrating a $130,000 payoff to porn star Stephanie Clifford (aka Stormy Daniels) less than two weeks before the 2016 election. In return, Clifford claims, she agreed not to disclose her prior affair with Trump.
But there’s much more to the Trump-Cohen story. For a sense of its depth and breadth, go to the Trump-Russia Timeline and click on Cohen’s name. Here’s a sample:
May 2013: Cohen confirms that Trump has commissioned research on a potential run for the presidency.
October 2015 – January 2016: Trump and a childhood friend, Felix Sater — another name worthy of a click on the Trump-Russia Timeline name filter — work together on a project. As Trump claims repeatedly on the campaign trail that he has “no business deals” with Russia, he signs a letter of intent that Cohen and Sater have developed for a Trump Tower-Moscow.
January 2016: When the Trump Tower-Moscow project sputters, Cohen seeks help from Putin’s spokesperson and right hand man to get it moving.
January 2017: Sater and a pro-Putin Ukrainian politician meet with Cohen at a midtown Manhattan hotel where they give him a proposed Ukrainian peace plan. Cohen is supposed to deliver the plan to then-National Security Adviser Mike Flynn. It would eliminate US sanctions against Russia.
Under the Bus
Cohen has denied wrongdoing. But the recent FBI raid on his home, office, and apartment sent Trump into orbit — in person and on Twitter.
April 13: Jay Goldberg–one of Trump’s longtime legal advisers–warns Trump that Cohen will “flip” and cooperate with federal prosecutors, rather than face criminal prosecution and the risk of a lengthy prison term.
Also on April 13: Trump calls Cohen to “check-in.” We don’t know whether Trump’s conversation with Cohen occurs before or after Goldberg’s warning. Also unknown is whether Cohen gets the equivalent of the “stay strong” admonition that Trump reportedly gave Mike Flynn months before Flynn pleaded guilty to criminal charges and agreed to cooperate with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.
April 24: A reporter asks if Trump is considering a pardon for Cohen. “Stupid question,” Trump says without answering.
April 26: A day after Cohen asserts his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination in the Stephanie Clifford/Stormy Daniels case, Trump phones into a Fox & Friends interview and rails against former FBI Director James Comey and Mueller’s investigation. At times, he threatens to take control of the Justice Department and end the “nonsense of collusion with Russia.”
Meanwhile, as the initial smiles on the faces of the Fox & Friends hosts morph into more worrisome expressions, Trump tries to distance himself from Cohen. But after Trump tries to minimize the amount of legal work that Cohen did for him, out tumbles this admission: “Michael would represent me, and represent me on some things. He represents me, like with this crazy Stormy Daniels deal, he represented me.”
Like all Trump loyalists who outlive their usefulness to the boss, Michael Cohen is headed toward his place under the Trump bus.
Here’s a complete list of this week’s updates to the Trump-Russia Timeline:
2006: Cohen Joins Trump Organization
OCT. 12, 2015: Sater Email To Cohen Re: Trump Tower Project
OCT. 28, 2015: Trump Signs Letter of Intent for Trump Tower in Moscow (revision of previous entry)
DEC. 2, 2015: Mike Flynn and His Son Meet with Russian Ambassador
JAN. 14, 2016: Cohen Contacts Peskov to Move Trump Tower Deal Forward
JUNE 6 AND 7, 2016: Don Jr.’s Phone Calls With Emin Agalarov (revision of previous entry)
JUNE 10, 2016: Agalarov Delivers Birthday Gift to Trump
JUNE 14, 2016: Goldstone Emails Emin Agalarov and Ike Kaveladze (revision of previous entry)
JULY 15, 2016: Flynn Predicts Cyber-actions Against DNC
SEPT. 26, 2016: “It Could Be Someone Sitting On Their Bed That Weighs 400 pounds”
NOV. 28, 2016: Goldstone Contacts Graff
JULY 8, 2017: White House Scrambles to Deal with Forthcoming NYT Story; Trump Supervises Media Response (revision of previous entry)
JULY 26, 2017: FBI Raids Manafort’s Home (revision of previous entry)
APR. 23, 2018: Flynn’s Son Implies Pence Lied
APR. 23, 2018: Trump Softens Sanctions on Deripaska’s Company
APR. 24, 2018: House Democrats Interview Wylie; Republicans Boycott
APR. 24, 2018: Trump Response to Question About Possible Pardon For Cohen: “Stupid question”
APR. 25, 2018: Cohen Asserts Fifth Amendment
APR. 26, 2018: Trump Complains about FBI; Threatens Involvement in Justice Department
APR. 26, 2018: Senate Judiciary Committee Advances Bill to Protect Mueller
APR. 27, 2018: Trump Tweets About Comey, Again
APR. 27, 2018: House Intelligence Committee Issues Report; Trump Claims Exoneration