Former Trump personal attorney and “fixer,” Michael Cohen will have a lot of time between now and his incarceration to spill it all to the media.
Apparently, things are really different with white collar crimes. He pleaded guilty to a host of offenses, but he’s not due to see the inside of a prison cell until March 2019.
Well, at least he’ll get to be with his family through the holidays.
In the meantime, however, expect to see a lot of his face on the various news networks (maybe not Fox News).
That began early Friday morning, when he sat down with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos and explained that then-candidate Trump was very aware of what was going on, as it pertained to the hush-money payoff of two of his former mistresses, porn star Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal.
He wasn’t just aware, but according to Cohen, directed those payments, because he worried how it would affect the 2016 election.
In fact, on Thursday it was reported that when Cohen met with American Media, Inc. (AMI) CEO, David Pecker, to discuss the $150,000 payoff to McDougal, the previously referred to “Trump campaign official” present in the room for the discussion was Trump, himself.
AMI is the parent company of The National Enquirer, and for years, Pecker has used the outlet to “catch and kill” uncomfortable stories that were threatening powerful or connected friends. That includes Donald Trump, a close friend of Pecker’s.
“I knew what I was doing was wrong,” Cohen told ABC News’ Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos. “I stood up before the world [Wednesday] and I accepted the responsibility for my actions.”
When asked if the president also knew it was wrong to make the payments, Cohen replied, “Of course,” adding that the purpose was to “help [Trump] and his campaign.”
Ok, in my soft-heartedness, I do feel a gnawing sense of sympathy for Cohen. He’s going to be cooling his heels for three years in a federal prison, but on the other hand, it took getting caught for him to have this noble epiphany.
He went on to explain that he was angry with himself for his role in all this.
“I gave loyalty to someone who, truthfully, does not deserve loyalty,” he said.
Well, if even half of the stories of how Donald Trump treated Michael Cohen over the years is true, you have to wonder why he would put up with the mistreatment, even to the point of getting himself involved in illegal activities.
For his part, the president is now saying that it was Cohen’s job, as his lawyer, to not break the law.
I mean, sure. There’s that. As a lawyer, he was supposed to know what was legal and what was not, and to advise his client on the best course of action.
That being said, he couldn’t force Trump to commit an unlawful act. Trump is a grown man. He is responsible for what he allows, and those payoffs didn’t come from nowhere. He made them, so that’s on him.
Trump has lashed out at Cohen since his sentencing, contending in a Thursday tweet that his former close confidant only agreed to plead guilty “in order to embarrass the president and get a much reduced prison sentence, which he did.”
“It is absolutely not true,” Cohen said. “Under no circumstances do I want to embarrass the president. He knows the truth. I know the truth.”
A big question, at least, what Trump would like to cast as a big question in the mind of investigators, is who directed Cohen to do what he did?
Was it a case of Cohen and others in Trump’s orbit taking actions and then informing him afterwards, if at all?
According to Cohen, not at all.
“I don’t think there is anybody that believes that,” Cohen told Stephanopoulos. “First of all, nothing at the Trump organization was ever done unless it was run through Mr. Trump. He directed me to make the payments, he directed me to become involved in these matters.
“He knows the truth. I know the truth. Others know the truth,” Cohen continued. “And here is the truth: People of the United States of America, people of the world, don’t believe what he is saying. The man doesn’t tell the truth. And it is sad that I should take responsibility for his dirty deeds.”
Well, you’re paying the price for your role in his “dirty deeds,” so there’s that. Try not to layer it on too thick, or you’ll lose whatever good will you may have built up in some minds for cooperating, as you have.
Cohen said he knew he lied, but that he’s “done with lying,” as well as being loyal to a man like Donald Trump. That loyalty, he says, is now reserved for his wife and kids.
So why believe him now?
Well, in Cohen’s mind, the left everything he had out on the table for investigators, both with the Southern District of New York and special counsel Robert Mueller’s team.
He declined in the interview to answer specific questions about the Mueller investigation “out of respect for process.”
“I don’t want to jeopardize any of their investigations,” he said.
Ok, but is the president telling the truth when he talks about the ongoing Russia probe?
Cohen answered that question with a single word: NO.
“It’s never good to be on the wrong side of the president of the United States of America, but somehow or another this task has now fallen onto my shoulders and as I also stated … I will spend the rest of my life in order to fix the mistake that I made.”
Again, it’s on your shoulders because you took the job as his attorney and did his bidding. You’re an adult. You knew what you were doing.
“He’s a very different individual,” Cohen said. “I think the pressure of the job is much more than what he thought it was going to be. It’s not like the Trump organization where he would bark out orders and people would blindly follow what he wanted done. There’s a system here; he doesn’t understand the system and it’s sad because the country has never been more divisive and one of the hopes that I have out of the punishment that I’ve received as well as the cooperation that I have given I will be remembered in history as helping to bring this country back together.
“I will not be the villain of his story,” he said.
That’s enough of that, dude.
No, Cohen is not the “villain.” To be fair, finding the actual “villain” may be more difficult than simply pointing to a single individual – even Donald Trump.
A lot went into getting this nation where it is, today. There was systemic failure on many levels, and voters hold some of the blame, as well.
Cohen begins his prison term on March 6.