Friday filings by federal prosecutors and Mueller’s team showed that Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s former fixer, had informed him about the two election-related crimes he had committed back in 2016. Experts on either side of the political spectrum appear increasingly convinced that Mueller has got Trump cornered, with California congressman Ted Lieu saying the Friday disclosures proved that Trump committed at least two felonies, according to The Hill.
Lieu, who is a member of the House Judiciary Committee and has been one of the most vociferous critics of Donald Trump while in office, was speaking with MSNBC‘s Chris Matthews when he claimed that Trump “committed two felonies while running for president”.
“When you look at what the prosecutors did in the Southern District of New York they allege that Donald Trump directed two campaign finance violations. These are felonies and you can infer intent by looking at a defendant’s statements.”
According to the filings, Cohen has informed prosecutors that Trump had directed payments to silence both Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal before the elections in an attempt to steer away from the bad publicity it would invariably have brought. Although the filings don’t explicitly name Trump, it does name an Individual-1 who Cohen “acted in coordination with and at the direction of” to make the payments. The filings then state that Individual-1 went to become the president of the United States, leaving little to the imagination.
“In particular, and as Cohen himself has now admitted, with respect to both payments, he acted in coordination with and at the direction of Individual-1,” the filings read.
Federal prosecutors said for the first time Friday that Michael Cohen acted at the direction of Donald Trump when Cohen committed two election-related crimes in 2016, as Robert Mueller outlined new contacts between the Trump campaign & Russian nationals.https://t.co/q6jeuLadaB— erica orden (@eorden) December 8, 2018
Apart from this, Mueller’s filings also showed that Cohen had informed Trump about his attempts to create a synergy between the Trump team and Russian government officials, and acted on the direction of Trump to coordinate a possible meeting with Kremlin officials, including Putin.
“Cohen said he briefed Trump and his family extensively on the project. Trump, his son Donald Jr and son-in-law Jared Kushner could face problems if their own answers to Mueller and Congress contradict this,” a report in the Guardian states.
Lieu contends that prosecutors have evidence to implicate Trump now. Several legal pundits agree with this assessment, with former acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal tweeting that this was the first time that prosecutors had effectively stated that Trump had committed a felony.
“I think my reading here is correct. If so, it is the first time federal prosecutors have said they believe Donald Trump committed a felony,” Katyal said.
There is little doubt that Trump finds himself increasingly cornered now, and it would be interesting to see how the investigation plays out from this stage for the president and his ostensibly beleaguered family.