How Cohen’s Guilty Plea Could Lead To The Smoking Gun Of The Mueller Investigation

Was there a quid pro quo between the Trump campaign and the Russian government? We're getting closer to that answer.
Donald Trump, Tevfik Arif, Felix Sater attend the Trump Soho Launch Party in New York on September 19, 2007 (Mark Von Holden/WireImage). Michael Cohen Crop (AP).

Donald Trump, Tevfik Arif, Felix Sater attend the Trump Soho Launch Party in New York on September 19, 2007 (Mark Von Holden/WireImage). Michael Cohen Crop (AP).

Another day, another game-changing development in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and their potential conspiracy with Donald Trump’s campaign. Trump’s former fixer and personal attorney Michael Cohen has pleaded guilty for lying in his August 2017 letter to the Senate and House Intelligence Committees. This brings the total number of Trump associates who have pleaded guilty to five. There are three lies in Cohen’s plea, all of which pertain to the Trump Tower Moscow deal (referred to as The Moscow Project) that Cohen worked on with Trump’s Russia-connected associate, and former FBI informant, Felix Sater.

In his letter to Congress, Cohen said the Trump Tower deal ended in January of 2016 and it was not discussed with other members of the Trump Organization. In his plea, Cohen is now confirming that not only was the deal still in the works in June 2016 (same month as the Trump Tower meeting), but it was discussed with “Individual 1” (Trump) and his family members. Cohen also originally wrote to congressional investigators that he never agreed to travel to Russia and never considered asking Trump to travel with him. Cohen is now confirming that not only did he agree to travel, there was an effort for Trump to travel and set up a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin around the time of the Republican National Convention. The final lie was that Cohen never got a response from the Russian government about The Moscow Project. Turns out, Cohen received a response from President Putin’s own press secretary.

The court documents outline the hard evidence, including emails, that paint the picture of what transpired. The timeline also confirms Buzzfeed’s original report that revealed Sater and Cohen were still discussing the deal into June 2016. Buzzfeed is now reporting, sourced by Felix Sater, that the Trump Organization also planned to give Putin a $50 million penthouse at the proposed Trump Tower Moscow. It’s important to note that Trump has been eager to obtain a Trump Tower Moscow deal for years and has a history of alleged money laundering for Russian oligarchs.

Not only does this plea potentially make Donald Trump Jr. susceptible to criminal liability for lying to congressional investigators, it paints a picture of a possible conspiracy. If Trump had foreknowledge of Russia’s hack of Hillary Clinton’s emails and the plan to release them through Wikileaks, then the Trump Tower meeting and Trump’s repeated public promotion of Clinton’s hacked emails may be just the tip of the collusion iceberg. If there was a quid pro quo, Trump Tower Moscow in exchange for helping Russia’s election interference, that’s the ballgame.

All this news comes after Cohen’s August 2018 guilty plea as part of the criminal investigation being conducted by federal investigators in the Southern District of New York (SDNY). That probe led to President Trump becoming an unindicted co-conspirator in two campaign finance violations for his hush money payments to Karen McDougal and Stormy Daniels.

This Mueller-Cohen plea appears to have caused President Trump to cancel all his bilateral meetings in the upcoming G20 summit, including his planned meeting with President Putin. But that wasn’t the only news on Trump’s mind on Thursday morning. Deutsche Bank (DB) was raided in a money laundering investigation in Germany sparked by the Panama Papers. One of the components of the probe involves an investigation into whether or not DB helped clients set up offshore accounts for illegal activity. We don’t know if it’s related, but it’s important to note Trump’s company owes Deutsche Bank $364 million and Jared Kushner’s company owes Deutsche Bank $285 million. Also, the FBI ordered a raid of Ed Burke, a Chicago attorney who also happened to be Trump’s attorney for 12 years. There are minimal details as to what the raid was about.

If you want to get caught up on the developments surrounding Trump’s former Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort, and Roger Stone’s apparent Wikileaks back channel source Jerome Corsi, read our article from Wednesday.

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News // Donald Trump / Michael Cohen