What's Mueller's Cohen move all about? Leverage

The FBI raids on the home, office and hotel room of President Donald Trump's lawyer Michael Cohen were shocking, but ...

Posted: Apr 11, 2018 7:26 AM
Updated: Apr 11, 2018 7:26 AM

The FBI raids on the home, office and hotel room of President Donald Trump's lawyer Michael Cohen were shocking, but in some ways not surprising. I've been saying for a while now that the President's alleged affair with the adult-film star Stephanie Clifford (aka Stormy Daniels) is not what he should be worried about, both because his evangelical base has given him a "mulligan" on his alleged affairs, and because marital infidelity is not by itself an impeachable offense.

What Trump should be worried about is Michael Cohen.

The President and his supporters can keep calling special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation a "witch hunt," but Monday's developments illustrate just how un-witch-hunty Mueller's probe is.

According to reports, the raid was executed under the auspices of the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and would therefore have had to have been authorized by recent Trump appointee Geoffrey Berman. While the reporting isn't crystal clear at this point, most agree this was a referral from the special counsel's office to the Southern District. Which means that Mueller apparently views the alleged hush money payment to Clifford, the now infamously bungled nondisclosure agreement, and any potential legal ramifications thereof (such as possible violation of campaign finance laws, bank fraud, ethical stumblings on the part of Cohen) as tangential to his purview.

As luck would have it, we now have a much clearer sense of what -- exactly -- that purview is, given the recent release of a memo, written by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, outlining in explicit detail that which he authorized Robert Mueller and his team to investigate. Former Trump campaign chief Paul Manafort's potential collusion with the Russians was on that list; and while portions of that memo remain redacted from public disclosure, it appears that hush money payments to porn stars didn't make the cut.

In short, while we now know that in the course of their investigation, Mueller and his team have uncovered what they feel is probable cause to investigate potential criminal activity on the part of Michael Cohen, they also believe that such criminal activity does not fall under the mandate of the special counsel's office to prosecute, so they referred the matter to an impartial third-party prosecutor's office.

If this were a witch hunt, no such referral would have been made. Rather, Mueller and his team would have maintained jurisdiction over the matter themselves. But that doesn't mean that the special counsel's office won't reap the benefits of any potential criminal charges brought by the Southern District.

Clifford's lawyer Michael Avenatti, in his tireless and media-saturated pursuit of justice for his client (does this man sleep?) has been gleefully asserting that "Christmas came early" for him and his client.

This is because the President finally broke his uncharacteristic silence on the issue when he recently told reporters on Air Force One that he did not know about the $130,000 payment to Clifford made just days before the 2016 election, and that he didn't know where the money came from.

Well it looks like Christmas came early not only for Avenatti, but for Mueller and his team as well. If the Southern District uncovers evidence of criminal activity on the part of Michael Cohen, that means Mueller and his team can use this as leverage against Cohen in the Russia investigation. There is not a single person better qualified to help the special counsel's office in this regard.

Cohen, Trump's "fixer" for the past decade, knows where the proverbial bodies are buried. Mueller has already used the threat of criminal prosecution as leverage to flip Michael Flynn, Rick Gates, George Papadopoulos, and others who are now cooperating with the investigation. Using leverage of this nature is a tried and true tactic of federal prosecutors, and it works. If Mueller and his team get Cohen to flip, the President has far greater criminal exposure than he ever has previously. And it all started with a porn star and Shark Week.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 512632

Reported Deaths: 10262
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison34853555
DeSoto33162432
Hinds32556641
Jackson24830389
Rankin22442402
Lee16238242
Madison14874283
Jones14086247
Forrest13741259
Lauderdale12249324
Lowndes11286193
Lamar10644140
Pearl River9707244
Lafayette8827143
Hancock7835132
Washington7550169
Oktibbeha7204138
Monroe6989179
Pontotoc6970109
Warren6849178
Panola6746134
Neshoba6726210
Marshall6653141
Bolivar6440151
Union633897
Pike5924156
Alcorn5862107
Lincoln5525136
George510180
Prentiss500884
Tippah490282
Itawamba4829107
Scott477499
Adams4766125
Tate4748116
Leflore4723144
Copiah455895
Yazoo455591
Simpson4543117
Wayne442772
Covington432895
Sunflower4299106
Marion4265112
Coahoma4227109
Leake413790
Newton395581
Tishomingo381793
Grenada3775109
Stone365666
Jasper340166
Attala337790
Winston317792
Chickasaw313367
Clay311878
Clarke301195
Calhoun284449
Holmes271289
Smith268952
Yalobusha243747
Tallahatchie231453
Greene224749
Walthall221366
Lawrence217840
Perry213356
Amite209557
Webster205148
Noxubee188642
Montgomery181557
Carroll174441
Jefferson Davis173643
Tunica163239
Benton152639
Kemper144941
Choctaw136527
Claiborne134238
Humphreys131139
Franklin124929
Quitman107528
Wilkinson105939
Jefferson96834
Sharkey65121
Issaquena1957
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 844594

Reported Deaths: 16115
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1160612006
Mobile741651379
Madison53255732
Shelby38313368
Baldwin38061589
Tuscaloosa35996641
Montgomery34473781
Lee25541263
Calhoun22582518
Morgan22441406
Etowah20009517
Marshall18771316
Houston17723425
St. Clair16863358
Limestone16123218
Cullman16032303
Elmore15902294
Lauderdale14945306
Talladega14186299
DeKalb12957269
Walker12011380
Blount10700192
Autauga10512157
Jackson10151194
Coffee9412192
Colbert9325208
Dale9013191
Tallapoosa7248201
Russell707465
Chilton7015170
Escambia6951143
Covington6926195
Franklin6337108
Chambers5778142
Marion5400130
Dallas5283209
Pike5114109
Clarke484986
Lawrence4826129
Winston4777110
Geneva4640136
Bibb434094
Barbour369180
Butler3433100
Marengo342393
Monroe336666
Randolph334067
Pickens333188
Fayette329885
Henry320566
Hale317989
Cherokee316963
Crenshaw260477
Washington256952
Cleburne254360
Lamar251253
Clay250869
Macon244764
Conecuh192762
Coosa184647
Lowndes178168
Wilcox177438
Bullock152545
Perry141840
Sumter139041
Greene130245
Choctaw93228
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