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...
If we go by this consideration from Aaron Blake at the Washington Post:
If Robert S. Mueller III has the evidence he reportedly has — that Trump asked Michael Cohen to lie to Congress for him — it could present something that’s been missing thus far from the public domain: An event so cut-and-dried that even Republicans would be hard-pressed not to consider impeachment.
BuzzFeed News broke the story Thursday night about the alleged Trump request. The lie Cohen told is the one he has pleaded guilty to: about when efforts to secure a Trump Tower Moscow concluded. BuzzFeed reports that not only did Cohen tell Mueller’s team that Trump told him to lie, but that Mueller had evidence of this even before confronting Cohen...
That would explain how Mueller got Cohen to flip so quickly. Back to Blake:
There are important caveats here — and the story is of such significance that we need to emphasize those caveats up high. The first is that it is based upon two anonymous “federal law enforcement officials involved in an investigation of the matter.” The second is that Cohen’s team isn’t confirming it, despite his having flipped on Trump long ago. We also don’t know exactly what evidence Mueller has. The solidity of that evidence matters greatly in what would otherwise be a he-said, he-said situation.
But judging by the report, it sounds like Mueller just might have the goods. The key graph:
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.
That sure sounds like a lot of evidence...
Agreed. All it took for Watergate to turn into Nixon's downfall was one audio recording of Nixon giving orders to interfere with the FBI's investigation of the break-in. If there's one verifiable email, one audio clip of trump doing exactly that - and Cohen is known for recording a lot of his conversations - and the Shitgibbon is caught dead to rights Suborning Perjury and committing Obstruction.
And I'm with Blake, so far this is just a report, without a lot of paperwork of its own to back it up. Until Mueller's investigators go public with what they have, this is still conjecture.
But it sure as hell puts in place one huge piece of the jigsaw puzzle. It explains why Cohen's office and personal abodes were raided with warrants specifying specific items (audio recordings). It explains why Cohen flipped faster than most other trump insiders like Flynn and Manafort (and Manafort still hasn't really flipped yet, which only tells us how deep in debt he is to Putin and Russia...).
It explains why trump hasn't shut the whole thing down like he's threatened to. Mueller probably already has something too big to hide, and closing his investigation will likely let that go public in the worst way.
It's just a question of when it all comes out. I hope to God it's soon. I hope to God it means a Presidential campaign of 2020 free of trump's malign presence.
I hope to God this is finally it.
Update: Mueller's Special Counsel office issued an official statement, disputing the Buzzfeed article. They don't go specifically into what was wrong within the article, but the statement notes the "characterization of documents and testimony obtained by this office, regarding Cohen's Congressional testimony are not accurate."
This could mean several things: the article itself was a screwup, relying on sources who were not in the know; the sources lied to rattle the Mueller investigation into making public statements before ready; or the details obtained were real but improperly interpreted. It is unlikely Mueller is blowing smoke here, so he and his office are pissed about something being wrong in the story.
One thing to note, most media outlets tend to run such stories - reporting on serious criminal matters involving political figures - by their Legal departments to make sure they didn't overstep or enter into Libel/Slander territories, so it's not likely the reporters made this all up. It's a question now of how well-vetted the story is. If I were Buzzfeed, I'd be questioning my sources under harsh scrutiny to find out what's not right.