Perfectly normal thing to hear at congressional testimony by the president’s former lawyer. And a reminder that the end of the Mueller probe likely doesn’t mean the end of Trump’s legal troubles.
Asked if he is aware of any illegal act regarding Donald Trump not discussed in congressional hearing, Michael Cohen says, "Yes, and…those are part of the investigation that is currently being looked at by the Southern District of New York." https://t.co/zMepsNgjD8 pic.twitter.com/BSWl09GpZT
— Nightline (@Nightline) February 27, 2019
What sort of illegal acts involving Trump might the Southern District of New York be investigating? Well, there was this news three weeks ago…
Prosecutors in New York’s Southern District have subpoenaed documents from President Donald Trump’s inauguration committee, sources with direct knowledge told ABC News, indicating that even as the special counsel probe appears to be nearing an end, another investigation that could hamstring the president and his lawyers is widening…
Prosecutors also are seeking information on attendees to the events surrounding the inauguration, including benefits to top-level donors such as photo opportunities with Trump, sources said.
Michael Cohen, Trump’s former personal attorney, has been interviewed extensively by prosecutors in the Southern District office.
“The investigation, which is being led by the public corruption unit of the Manhattan U.S. attorney’s office, grew out of the office’s probe into former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen’s business dealings, according to people familiar with the matter,” the WSJ reported earlier this month, noting that “the investigation partly arose out of materials seized in the April raids of Mr. Cohen’s home, office and hotel room.” Obama’s inaugural committee raised $53 million for his first swearing-in, a record at the time; Trump’s committee raised almost $107 million, more than double O’s amount. Where did all of that money go? And why, according to the Journal, did Rick Gates allegedly ask vendors to accept payment directly from donors instead of from the inaugural committee? Was that an attempt to avoid having to disclose the payments publicly?
Did the president know anything about all this?
The SDNY’s obviously worried that the committee ended up operating as a slush fund. After the news broke about the investigation, former federal prosecutor Andy McCarthy warned that that’s the probe Trump should probably worry about most given the caliber of investigators who work there. The clip above of Cohen’s testimony today will turbo-charge that perception.
One further note: Cohen has been asked about various worst-case scenarios involving Trump today and has knocked down most of them. Did he personally witness collusion with Russia? Nope, he said. What about the rumor that Trump once struck Melania in an elevator? Not something he’d ever do, Cohen insisted. What about the, er, pee tape from the dossier? No reason to believe it exists, said Cohen. If he’s testifying today because he wants revenge on POTUS and is willing to tell any lie to damage him, it’s strange that he seems unwilling to lie and confirm the most damaging suspicions. Which suggests that maybe the things he has accused Trump of are more plausible than Cohen’s record of lying might lead us to suspect.
Rep. @justinamash: "What is the truth that you know President Trump fears most?"
Michael Cohen: "That's a tough question, sir. I don't have an answer for that one."
— CSPAN (@cspan) February 27, 2019