Manafort/Cohen: 3 Big Take Aways

Posted on Aug 22, 2018 in Business Litigation

It seems that every day is more remarkable than the prior day during the volatile presidency of Donald Trump.  But the conclusion from yesterday’s events is inescapable — Trump’s web is getting more tangled.

In a double whammy day two people very close to the President Trump will now be going to jail … for a long time!  First, Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman, was found guilty of tax evasion and bank fraud by a jury in Virginia. Within minutes, Trump’s longtime former lawyer and “fixer,” Michael Cohen, pleading guilty to tax evasion, falsifying documents in connection with  a mortgage and, most importantly, campaign finance violations before a federal court judge in Manhattan.  The biggest news was that Cohen admitted those unlawful campaign contributions, to silence women who had dirt on Trump, was done by an order of the President.

So what should be made of Tuesday’s developments?

  1. This was an historic and devastating day for Trump

Before Tuesday, the Mueller team focused on the investigations into the Russian election meddling and potential campaign finance violations.  But now the sharks are circling around Trump!  Just think – his personal lawyer pled guilty to crimes he committed at the President’s direction!  The plea related to charges that he used campaign cash to pay hush money to a porn star and a former Playboy model.  That is the clearest potential implication of the President committing a crime thus far.


  1. It legitimizes the Mueller investigation and proves it is very dangerous to Trump

The President has repeatedly said that the investigation is a “witch hunt” and is the product of Democratic politics (he has said much more!).  He did so to detract attention away from his and his family’s conduct.  Let’s not forget that he and/or his children had meetings with Russians.  He also encouraged Attorney General Jeff Sessions to end the Russia probe, tweeting that he should “stop this Rigged Witch Hunt right now.”  He also reportedly fired Comey because he was looking into the investigation and wanted Mueller fired for the same reason.  He even called Mueller’s investigators “thugs” and likened the investigation to McCarthyism.  He also stripped former CIA Director John Brennan of his security clearance.


Now he is very concerned.


Mueller had a very broad mandate that not only allows him to probe the Russian meddling, but allows his team to go virtually anywhere. While none of the charges Tuesday go directly to the Russia probe – or even interference in the 2016 campaign – they do go directly to Trump’s actions.  And in light of the many meetings with Russians, Trump is concerned that the Mueller investigations will continue to lead directly to him.

Last week special counsel to the White House revealed he had 30 hours of meetings with Mueller’s team regarding the Trump presidency.  And Mueller has several tape recorded conversations with the President!  Those tapes were seized during the raid on Cohen’s home, hotel room and office. Having that kind of incontrovertible evidence is key, especially in this time when “truth isn’t truth.”


  1. Will That Other Shoe Drop

With all of that evidence, what comes next?  Were Tuesday’s events foreshadowing as to more criminal indictments before the election campaign kicks into high gear?  While Rudy Giuliani claims there is a September 1st deadline for Mueller to wrap up the investigation, that statement is wrong.  There are Justice Department guidelines that state: “no employee may use his official authority or influence to interfere with or affect the result of an election” and some interpret that to mean that there is an “unwritten” 60-day rule, an arbitrary amount of time, to steer clear of the election.  Certainly Comey did not abide by that rule.  Mueller is likely sensitive to that date but with all of the information he has, we do not know when that other shoe will drop … or if it will drop!   Certainly, there are a lot of facts that he is looking into and Trump and his family are in the middle of that web!


Stay tuned …

Leave a Reply