Report: Michael Cohen says he violated campaign law "at direction of candidate"; Updates: Trump proceeding to rally, no comment on Cohen

He’ll be in federal court in Manhattan to offer his plea at 4 p.m. ET, just as this post goes live. He’s going away, says CNN — but it’s still unclear for how long.

The correct answer, of course, is “not even an hour.” The pardon is coming. I think.

Among the sticking points in the talks, the two sides were negotiating over jail time, according to one source. Cohen is pressing for three years but prosecutors are seeking 50 months.

Cohen has been concerned about asset forfeiture, leaving his family with nothing.

Prosecutors made clear that there was a bigger risk should he go to trial and be found guilty, that he would have forfeit assets.

I’m legit surprised that an FBI raid in which voluminous files were seized from a character as shady as Michael Cohen resulted in charges that’ll amount to no more than four years in prison. I figured they’d find a map to Jimmy Hoffa’s body in there. But then, the feds can only charge him with federal crimes. Lord knows what state prosecutors might be working on based on evidence recovered in the FBI raid.

Allegedly the federal charges include bank fraud, tax fraud, and, ahem, campaign finance violations, all presumably as described here. The campaign finance charges are the most politically interesting, for obvious reasons, and they may be getting more interesting by the moment. Hmmmm:

Does Haberman know something? Is the president going to be accused of conspiring with Cohen in his violations? CNN notes that the judge might ask Cohen to explain his crimes in his own words, which could go anywhere. Read this for essential background if you missed it on Friday. One of the two mysteries about the Stormy Daniels payoff, i.e. whether there’s any evidence that Cohen made the payment in order to influence the election, has been solved if the WSJ’s reporting is correct. The other mystery, whether Trump knew in advance, still lingers. For now.

Our future president, fresh off a red-carpet turn at the MTV Video Music Awards last night, is taking a preemptive victory lap:

Will Trump pardon Cohen? I assume that’s why Cohen hasn’t agreed to cooperate with prosecutors (yet); if he goes full Omarosa and turns on Trump, POTUS will punish him by making him serve his time. Trump doubtless doesn’t want to pardon him, as doing so will bring down an unholy sh*tstorm of criticism that he’s intervening in a case that bears on his own potential criminal liability and handing out get-out-of-jail-free cards to his own cronies, after they’ve admitted guilt. But he may have no choice. Everyone else in his orbit is watching how he reacts to this and to Paul Manafort’s fate. If Trump lets them go to prison, that’s a red alert to anyone else who might have dirt on him that their only hope for leniency is a deal with the feds, not a pardon from the White House. That’s a dangerous lesson potentially. Stand by for updates.

Update: Fox is confirming CNN’s report.

Update: The plea covers eight separate counts. Number eight is Stormy.

Update: Oh boy. Maybe Haberman did know something:

Is the president now on the hook for an illegal campaign contribution?

For what it’s worth, in 12 years of daily blogging, between Manafort and Cohen each getting convicted at the same time hundreds of miles apart, I have never seen a news day quite like this. And it ain’t over: Trump … is holding a rally tonight in West Virginia. He’ll be off-script with an open mic. For upwards of an hour.

Update: (Jazz) The President has landed for his rally in West Virginia. He only commented on the Manafort trial, ignored questions about Cohen’s plea. Next question for the peanut gallery: Will the President claim that Cohen his distorting the story to make it look like it wasn’t a campaign finance question but rather a move to protect his marriage?

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Jazz Shaw 5:31 PM on December 01, 2022