The President of the United States’ “personal attorney,” who brokered a “deal” on behalf of his “client” (the president) with a porn star, will assert his 5th Amendment rights with respect to the investigation into his deal with Ms. Daniels, according to NBC News.
Meanwhile, Trump has informed the SDNY Fed District Court that he wants to “make himself available” to “view the documents” seized from Cohen. As an attorney, that puzzles me, because in a normal world, normal attorneys do not write a single thing on behalf of a client without cc’ing the client, and any notes and such that could be on a computer would either involve subjects known to the president or not involve the president at all and not be a concern. So, what could Trump want to “learn” from these materials?
Silly question, I know, because all the above presumes that Michael Cohen acted as a real attorney, under real attorney ethics rules about representation (please disabuse yourselves of any notion that attorneys do not pay attention to ethics, we do, a lot, but there are exceptions and Cohen certainly seems to be one), and presumes that Donald Trump did business like a normal businessman, kept records, and would not worry that anything “incriminating him” could possibly be found.
So, let’s jump into reality.
The reality is that Michael Cohen is pleading the 5th Amendment because that is his constitutional right – and we will not hold it against him – we will note that taking the 5th Amendment does not comport with being the subject of a “witch hunt.” The reality is that – as has been known to everyone not under Sean Hannity’s hypnotic voo-doo spell – Michael Cohen likely brokered his deal with Stormy Daniels at Trump’s direction. How Cohen did not know that he would be caught in such a bald faced lie is anyone’s guess, maybe it was the lesser of two evils. Regardless, Cohen is not talking, taking the 5th, about Daniels.
I ranted yesterday about the shocking abnormalities in the Trump presidency. We have managed, as a nation, to go a long time without hearing words such as “president’s attorney” and “deal” and “porn star” and “5th Amendment.” To say the least, we are right about where most of us thought we’d be upon seeing Trump elected, in a total fking morass of “unbelievable.”
Much more is at stake than just proving that Trump did actually have sex with a porn star, did actually direct his “fixer” to make a deal with the porn star, and that is a problem. It is not a problem because Evangelical Christians do not like it (or purport to not like newly married fathers having trysts with porn stars and paying them) it is a problem because the $130,000 was spent out of concern that revelations regarding the night with Daniels would hurt the campaign. In that sense, it is a campaign expense and by law must be reported.
All but a couple of us go their entire lives not knowing just how involved the attorneys are with respect to full throttle campaigns, senate seats, big state governors, but especially campaigns for president, because there are trapdoors all along the way for the unwary. There are campaign laws that good people could unknowingly break without a single bad intention. This is not one of them. This is not trivial. There is no “legal way” to make “hush deals” with people who have bad things to say about a candidate, without reporting the payment and the basis. Trump would have been far better served paying Daniels and reporting it. Apparently the right couldn’t care less if the man is a sexually gluttonous serial womanizer.
Thus we find ourselves in the position where we have very good reason to believe that it is more likely than not that the Trump – being the candidate – committed a felony by paying off Daniels in the way that he did. Somehow even that sounds almost “normal” now. But, even president’s like George W. Bush, whose campaign spewed vicious lies about a good man – John McCain – in South Carolina, made it through without committing a felony. Hillary Clinton, if one asks the conservatives, embodies corruption, yet she managed to make it through a campaign without committing a felony. Why are we not surprised that it is likely that Trump still couldn’t make the cut?
Maybe we are underwhelmed because we know that even if Trump were to be convicted of a felony due to this payment, we doubt that Senate Republicans would remove him from office. We believe that the politics in this country is such now, that the only conceivable way sufficient Republican Senators could be gathered to remove the president is if ironclad evidence of collusion with Russia – or “blackmail” by Russians, is proven. Even then, we’re truly nervous.
For now, we can at least take some satisfaction in seeing that the truth WILL come out, even if the “truth” means we will not hear from Michael Cohen about Daniels.
Oh, by the way, 5th Amendment rights are often waived in a plea deal, one that offers to reduce or drop the charges. Don’t think that he won’t reconsider. The other way a 5th Amendment right goes away? If you are pardoned, or given total immunity. Keep your eye on that last one. I assure you, Cohen will meditate strenuously on the meaning of “total immunity” when he starts adding up the years he faces in the federal penitentiary for crimes going back a decade, versus simply telling us Trump’s backstory.