It sure looks like it. And we’re getting some confirmation from the press that a plea deal for Cohen is now essentially a done deal. (See updates at bottom)
— Josh Margolin (@JoshMargolin) August 21, 2018
This could be a change of pace. As things stand, we’re really only getting a couple weeks of traction out of the Manafort trial. After all the drama and build-up, the actual legal proceedings amounted to what most described as a dull investigation into a number of bank accounts. But Michael Cohen on the other hand… that guy knows how to hold a press conference and light up social media. If he’s going to trial we could be in for some serious fireworks. But if today’s reports are confirmed, we may be deprived of that show as well. If Cohen is in talks with federal prosecutors and has copped a guilty plea the whole show is canceled. It was already being predicted earlier this morning (NBC News)
Michael Cohen, President Trump’s former personal attorney, is discussing a possible guilty plea with federal prosecutors in Manhattan in connection with tax fraud and banking-related matters, multiple sources familiar with the matter tell NBC News.
Those sources stress no deal has been reached but do say the potential deal could be reached as early as today.
The plea could have significant implications for Trump, who has blasted Cohen ever since his former fixer and his attorney, old Clinton hand Lanny Davis, began signaling this summer that Cohen might cooperate with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.
When reached by NBC, Davis said he cannot comment on advice of counsel since there is an ongoing investigation. Cohen has previously denied wrongdoing.
Cohen had previously been maintaining his innocence, but that’s really nothing new. Plenty of people keep insisting they’re innocent even after the final gavel has fallen. But when a suspect is talking about a guilty plea, it generally means one of two things. The first option is that they know the feds have the goods on them but probably don’t want to go through the bother of an entire trial so a lesser sentence is being offered in exchange for just getting it over with. The other possibility is that they have something worthwhile that the prosecutors really want (RATTing someone out, to borrow a term from the President) and they might be getting a sweetheart deal in exchange for it.
Would either of these scenarios apply to Cohen? He’s frequently described as someone who “knows where all the bodies are buried” when it comes to Donald Trump. But what would he know about? The payments to Stormy Daniels and/or Karen McDougal? I suppose that’s in the realm of possibility if the “deal” involves an agreement between the prosecutor handling this case and other feds, up to and including Team Mueller. But even that has nothing to do with Russia and is a bit of a stretch to bring in as a campaign finance violation.
Then again, Cohen was “fixing” things for a long time. And who knows what the feds found on his laptop and in all his files when they raided his office? If he skates off with a slap on the wrist, however, it’s a fair bet that he gave up something.
UPDATE: (Jazz) So much for the fun theories about a plea deal. At least according to CNN’s reporting, it’s just a straight guilty plea. Cohen either didn’t offer anything good or didn’t have anything.
Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s former personal attorney, is in talks to plead guilty to criminal charges in a deal that would bring an end to a months-long investigation that has riled the President, according to sources familiar with the matter.
The details of the plea are still being negotiated, the sources cautioned, and talks could fall apart. The US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York is investigating Cohen for potential bank fraud, tax fraud and campaign finance violations. If talks fall apart, federal prosecutors are expected to indict Cohen.
As part of the plea deal under discussion, Cohen is not expected to cooperate with the government, one source said. However, by pleading guilty both Cohen and prosecutors would avoid the spectacle and uncertainty of a trial.
But as we said at the top, stay tuned. None of this is written in stone. Cohen could still walk away and take his chances at trial.
Another UPDATE: (Jazz)
In the original post I asked whether or not the deal (which supposedly isn’t a deal according to CNN) involves payments (plural) to women. This makes it sound like something was put up for grabs.
— Dan McLaughlin (@baseballcrank) August 21, 2018
This is yet another case where a breaking news story has multiple mainstream media outlets relying on unamed sources and giving entirely contradictory reports. First there was no deal at all. Now Cohen is giving them something. Let’s wait and see what (if anything) the prosecutor has to say.