The left-leaning Washington, D.C. and New York media are scrambling to tell the world that shady lawyer Michael Cohen has somehow “implicated” President Donald Trump by paying “hush money.” Even if Cohen did plead guilty, Federal Elections Commission chief, Bradley Smith emphatically assures voters, “no – such payments are not considered campaign finance violations by the FEC.” That is why Mark Levin calls Cohen’s lawyer, “a dummy.”
Cohen, his lawyers, and the prosecutors met in a Manhattan courtroom, to present a plea deal to the judge around 4:00 p.m. in the afternoon. Reporters swarmed in with a shark-like frenzy, palpably scenting “blood in the water.” Attorneys for Cohen huddled with federal prosecutors for most of the day Tuesday, hammering out the details.
The dramatic moment came when Judge William Pauley reached count seven of the charges. Allegedly an “illegal corporate contribution,” Cohen is charged with arranging a payment to former Playboy model Karen McDougal in the summer of 2016.
The one and only recording that Cohen made of President Trump that has leaked to the media was centered on that meeting. It’s bad enough that an attorney would actually tape a client, but CNN heard it and even they can’t find much to complain about.
Referring to Nixon’s Watergate lawyer, John Dean, who turned state’s evidence, CNN writes, “Dean’s testimony related directly to Nixon’s criminality in his role as President, while most of Cohen’s tapes will undoubtedly pertain to Trump’s activities prior to being sworn in as President.”
“Cohen never had a job in the Trump administration. Under the circumstances, the President may survive the Cohen tapes, and history will view Cohen as ‘John Dean Lite.’”
What Cohen did was to arrange “a payment through a media company of which he was the chief executive,” he admitted under oath. It was done “in coordination with” and “at the request of” a “candidate for federal office” in order “to keep an individual with information that would be harmful to the candidate and the campaign from publicly disclosing this information.”
Mark Levin, a former Department of Justice official and head of Landmark Legal Foundation, sat down to discuss the deal with Sean Hannity on Fox News. Just the day before, Levin had interviewed Bradley Smith, who is a former FEC chief, on his own show.
Referring to Cohen’s lawyer, Levin remarks, “the general counsel for the Clinton mob family, Lanny Davis, he had his client plead to two counts of criminality that don’t exist.” In order to be a “campaign expenditure,” the expense “has to be something that exists only because of the campaign and solely for that reason,” Smith had clarified. Otherwise, it is “personal use.”
“You are a dummy, Lanny,” Levin slammed. “By making payments to two women for the principal purpose of influencing an election. If those payments were a crime for Michael Cohen they why wouldn’t they be a crime for Donald Trump?” Because “they weren’t a crime for Michael Cohen.”
“He screwed himself,” Levin adds, “and they’re not a crime for Donald Trump either. Now move along and go back into your corner with Hillary Clinton.”
The second non-existent crime was count eight. Allegedly an “illegal excessive campaign contribution,” Cohen testified that “in coordination with the candidate, he arranged to make a payment to a second individual with information that would be harmful to the candidate and the campaign.” That would have been the $130,000 he paid to “Stormy Daniels.”
As Levin pointed out, “just because a prosecutor says that somebody violated a campaign law doesn’t make it so. He’s not the judge. He’s not the jury.”
Another thing to bear in mind is that this is a plea agreement. “It is a plea bargain between a prosecutor and a criminal,” Levin asserts. “A criminal who doesn’t want to spend the rest of his life in prison.” Plea bargains don’t set legal precedents that can be used in other cases, attorney Levin notes.
When Judge Pauley asked Cohen if he understood that he was facing 65 years in jail, and that “any estimate of how much time he would get from his attorney might be inaccurate,” Cohen replied, “no estimate was given to me, your honor.” He also testified earlier “in four day’s I’ll be 52,” so he could easily get a life sentence.
Realistically, if the judge accepts the plea bargain, he will be looking at somewhere in the recommended range of 46-63 months which would be roughly 4-5 years. That gives him a big incentive to look cooperative to the judge, even though it is more show than substance.
When all the smoke clears, it all boils down to yet another media circus based more on fantasy than fact.
Any high profile executive considering a run for the office of president would hire an attorney or a team of attorneys to represent his interests. A target as big as Donald Trump would certainly expect to have quite a few money grubbing publicity hounds crawling out of the woodwork with wild accusations.
It is appropriate to have a strategy to deal with them ahead of time and the lawyers are the ones expected to keep things on the right side of the law, which more often than not, is a gray and shifting thing.
If President Trump did have an affair with one or more models, it happened before he ran for office, so paying them to keep quiet would not be a campaign expense, even if what they say could have an effect.
Affairs with models don’t necessarily make for bad presidents as John F. Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe clearly established. Bill Clinton didn’t even have high enough standards to hold out for models, he settled for any handy intern.
The other charges that Cohen pleaded guilty to all involved financial crimes separate from anything he did for President Trump.
On the first five, Cohen “evaded paying substantial taxes” on “income he knew was omitted from his tax returns.” Count six was for signing “an application for a home equity line of credit that omitted some of his liabilities.”
Cohen was released on $500,000 bond and his travel has been restricted. He agreed to turn over his passport. His formal sentence is expected to be handed down on December 12.