Wow. Very direct and negative remarks about Donald Trump. (Now with links to the attachments)
A summary and my thoughts follow if you click on the “continue reading” link. Otherwise, let’s get back to the chicks.
Here’s a quick summary of the statement:
On behalf of Trump, Cohen paid off Stormy Daniels. Trump also instructed Cohen to lie to Melania about the Stormy affair. (Cohen says Melania is a very good person.)
On behalf of Trump, Cohen sent threatening letters to schools and the college board people to warn them that they would be sued if Trump’s grades or SAT scores were ever released.
Cohen details how he and Trump arranged a bogus buyer to buy a Trump portrait at auction. Trump reimbursed the fake buyer with a check from his charitable non-profit, then hung the portrait in one of his golf clubs.
Cohen was in Trump’s office, on the speaker phone, when Roger Stone called in to report a conversation with Julian Assange. Assange told Stone there would soon be a massive dump of e-mails that would harm Hillary.
Cohen provides financial statements which Trump presented to Deutsche Bank in 2011-2013.
And various other things: conversations showing Trump is a racist; Trump’s dealings to build a Trump Tower in Moscow; and more. One key point Cohen makes is that Trump certainly was not going to do anything to endanger the Moscow Tower deal during the campaign because he never thought he had a chance to win. He was treating the campaign as the “greatest infomercial in political history.” (Trump’s words) This would also explain why Trump was always so deferential to Putin. Trump expected to lose and then revive the Moscow deal. Knowing that nothing can happen in Moscow without a nod from Putin, Trump wished to remain in Putin’s good graces, and could therefore make no negative statements about Putin in the campaign.
And those are just the things Cohen knows for sure. He also make some inferences about other matters, like Trump’s advance knowledge of Don Jr’s infamous Trump Tower meeting.
On the other side of the ledger:
Trump did NOT directly tell Cohen to lie to Congress.
Cohen could not say whether Trump or Stone knew that the Hillary e-mails were ultimately the work of Russia. (In my opinion, Stone probably did NOT know that Guccifer 2.0 was a GRU identity, because he was bragging about that contact before it was revealed as a Russian intelligence op. He had once foolishly tweeted that Guccifer was a “hero.” Stone is no rocket scientist, but he’s smart enough to avoid making that brag if he had known Guccifer was a Russian spy.)
Cohen did not allege that Trump pursued or initiated contacts with Assange or any Russians. To Cohen’s knowledge, Trump simply received a report from Stone about Wikileaks, and was pleased with what he heard.
This could be bad for Stone, however, as he has claimed he had no contact with Assange. According to the Cohen testimony, “Mr. Stone told Mr. Trump that he had just gotten off the phone with Julian Assange.”
I have found that it is never wise to make any assumptions when it comes to Roger Stone, because he’s willing to bullshit anyone, probably even Trump. In fact, it is possible that both Cohen and Stone could now be telling the complete truth. How can that be, when they seem to contradict each other? Simple. Their statements are not contradictory if Stone lied to Trump about having spoken to Assange, thus making himself seem more important than he was, when in fact he had only heard Assange’s claims second- or third-hand. The assumption that Stone lied is usually a pretty safe one, but when two of his statements directly contradict each other, it’s not always simple to determine which one was the lie. Did he lie to investigators when he said he never spoke to Assange, or did he lie to Trump when he said he just talked to Assange? I’m not sure that either is more likely than the other. (I’m assuming here that Cohen is telling the truth. I don’t even know whether that is fair.)
Bottom line: lots of negative dish on Trump, but no smoking gun on either collusion or obstruction.
There could be a smoking gun on perjury. CNN had earlier reported that “President Donald Trump told special counsel Robert Mueller in writing that Roger Stone did not tell him about WikiLeaks.” If CNN’s report is accurate, Trump may have committed perjury in his written responses. There are two caveats here: (1) this is not hard evidence of what Trump actually told Mueller, but simply an allegation from anonymous sources, and it may not be 100% accurate; (2) according to the report, Trump was clear that he answered “to the best of his recollection,” so his lawyers can claim there is no perjury, but a mere memory lapse.