What You Need to Know About Michael Cohen’s Guilty Plea & the Mueller Investigation Developments

michael cohen, trump, lies, russia, guilty, moscow, mueller

Throughout special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into foreign interference in the 2016 presidential election, Donald Trump’s go-to line has been that there was “no collusion,” usually in all caps, followed by cries of “WITCH HUNT.” He says Mueller and the “angry dems” are searching for a crime that doesn’t exist, and that if it does exist, he wasn’t involved.

That defense has really been unravelling this week.

Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen has reached a plea deal with Mueller’s team and has admitted to lying to Congress in regard to Trump’s Russian real estate efforts. He said in court this morning that development on a Trump Tower in Moscow continued into the summer of 2016 (far later than he originally said), and that he spoke with a Kremlin official in 2016 about securing Russian government support for the project. Originally, he said he sent an inquiry email but never heard back. Now he’s saying that he lied about that (per Mueller) “to give the false impression that the Moscow project ended before the Iowa caucus,” the important first vote in Trump’s path to win the Republican nomination.

As for why Cohen lied, he says he did it to be “loyal” to Trump and to “be consistent” with Trump’s “political messaging.” Basically, Trump said the Russia deal had ended so Cohen had to say the same thing, even though it was a lie.

He also specifically says he lied for the purpose of “limiting the ongoing Russia investigations.”

As for Trump, he’s going with the defense of ‘Cohen didn’t do anything wrong but if he did, I didn’t know about it and even if I did know about it, I can’t be punished for it because nothing I do is illegal.’

Also, this is a hell of a defense:

Trump scrapped a meeting planned for today with Putin in Argentina, citing a conflict between Ukraine and Russia that he just now conveniently decided to start caring about.

This all comes just days after it was revealed that Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort reportedly had secret meetings with Wikileaks founder Julian Assange at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London where Assange has been living under political asylum since 2012.

Manafort reportedly met with Assange a number of times, including in the spring of 2016, when Manafort was leading Trump’s campaign and just months before Wikileaks released Democratic emails hacked by Russian intelligence. (Manafort and Assange both deny the meetings took place.)

So Donald Trump is not having his best day (or week). He’s stated that he’s open to pardoning Manafort, which, if anything has the power to be catastrophic to the perpetually Teflon Trump presidency, it seems like that would be it.

Adam Schiff, the ranking member on the House Intelligence Committee, said they’re going to be looking into the implications of Cohen’s testimony.

Also, this seems big if relevant, no?

Meanwhile, Trump is still out here, screaming “NO COLLUSION” into the void.

(Side note: Just two days ago, Trump tweeted that the investigation cost $30,000,000. Amazing what you can do with totally made-up numbers!)

(via The Guardian, Washington Post, image: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

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