As I previously pointed out, documents filed in Mueller’s case regarding Michael Cohen suggested he coordinated his lying to Congress about the Trump Tower project with members of the Trump Administration. Buzzfeed is now reporting that coordination was with Donald Trump himself.
President Donald Trump directed his longtime attorney Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about negotiations to build a Trump Tower in Moscow, according to two federal law enforcement officials involved in an investigation of the matter.
Trump also supported a plan, set up by Cohen, to visit Russia during the presidential campaign, in order to personally meet President Vladimir Putin and jump-start the tower negotiations. “Make it happen,” the sources said Trump told Cohen.
And even as Trump told the public he had no business deals with Russia, the sources said Trump and his children Ivanka and Donald Trump Jr. received regular, detailed updates about the real estate development from Cohen, whom they put in charge of the project . . .
two sources have told BuzzFeed News that Cohen also told the special counsel that after the election, the president personally instructed him to lie — by claiming that negotiations ended months earlier than they actually did — in order to obscure Trump’s involvement.
Further, at least as reported by Buzzfeed, this is not just a matter of Trump’s word vs. Cohen’s. In fact, Cohen’s testimony to the Special Counsel merely corroborated proof of Trump’s subornation of perjury that Mueller had already gotten from other sources.
The special counsel’s office learned about Trump’s directive for Cohen to lie to Congress through interviews with multiple witnesses from the Trump Organization and internal company emails, text messages, and a cache of other documents. Cohen then acknowledged those instructions during his interviews with that office.
The two reporters named in the Buzzfeed article are reputable journalists. Anthony Cormier won a Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting in 2016 and Jason Leopold earned an Emmy nomination in investigative reporting.
The Buzzfeed report is also consistent with filings in Mueller’s case against Cohen. Mueller’s sentencing memorandum, in outlining Cohen’s areas of cooperation stated: “Cohen described the circumstances of preparing and circulating his response to the congressional inquiries.”
This needs to be put in the context of the sentencing memorandum submitted by Cohen’s lawyers. That sentencing memo describes Cohen’s “close and regular contacts” with White House staff as he prepared his (what turned out to be false) answers to Congress. All this means Cohen explained who in the White House he coordinated his perjury with and Buzzfeed now says that coordination, at least includes, the President of the United States.
In fact, it was more than mere coordination. Per Buzzfeed, Trump “directed” Cohen to lie to Congress.
If you are a Trump supporter this criminal conspiracy to lie on the part of the President should frustrate you because it was not really a very necessary lie. There was no underlying illegal conduct in pursuing the Trump Tower deal (at least that we know of yet) for longer than Trump claimed during the campaign. Sure Cohen’s telling Congress the truth would have been somewhat embarrassing as exposing Trump’s misleading claims about his dealings with Russians during the campaign. In the ever broadening tapestry of Trump lies about Russia, this minor thread would hardly get noticed.
The original lies, campaign lies, were not criminal. The lies to Congress, and the conspiracy to do so, were criminal. Which leads to an obvious question. If Trump was willing to commit a felony for this unnecessary lie, what would he do for the necessary ones? What else is Trump lying about, or having other people lie about?
One other nugget.
“If a President…suborns perjury, or induces a witness to change testimony, or commits any act deliberately impairing the integrity of available evidence, then he, like anyone else, commits the crime of obstruction.” — William Barr
That’s Trump’s Attorney General nominee, in the otherwise controversial memo where he argued Mueller was overreaching in potentially pursuing obstruction of justice against Trump for firing Comey. While Barr has made a variety of arguments against the Mueller investigation, even he said this is a felony. Barr affirmed this point again, just yesterday, in his confirmation hearings.