The Wall Street Journal reported today about a phone call Donald Trump made to Michael Cohen in February of this year, directing his lawyer to keep Stormy Daniels quiet, and offering to pay for the legal costs:
President Donald Trump directed his son Eric and former personal attorney Michael Cohen to coordinate a legal effort to keep porn star Stormy Daniels from publicly describing her alleged tryst with the real estate magnate turned politician, The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.
The Journal, citing people familiar with the events, said the president instructed Cohen in February to seek a restraining order that would prevent Daniels from talking to the media. Trump also told his then-lawyer to coordinate his efforts with Eric Trump, the president’s second-oldest son, according to the newspaper. Eric Trump then enlisted a Trump Organization lawyer to help with the paperwork, the report added.
Trump suggested in a phone call that he would cover the costs for the legal action, saying, “I’ll take care of everything,” the Journal reported, citing a person familiar with the conversation.
There are a couple key points that can be taken from this news. First, this shows that Donald Trump was almost certainly lying when he told reporters in April of this year that he knew nothing about the hush money payment Michael Cohen had made to silence Stormy Daniels.
President Trump says he was unaware that his attorney paid $130,000 to an adult film actress shortly before the 2016 election to prevent the woman from talking about an alleged sexual encounter with Trump.
The president told reporters traveling on Air Force One on Thursday that he didn’t know where the money came from or why the payment was made.
“You’ll have to ask Michael Cohen,” Trump said. “Michael is my attorney. You’ll have to ask Michael.”
Today’s news shows that Michael Cohen was not acting of his own accord when it came to Stormy Daniels. Donald Trump was calling the shots. Why would Donald Trump lie about that? Because he knew then that if he told the truth, he would be admitting he was guilty of a crime. Which is what Michael Cohen stated when he pleaded guilty in federal court to committing two felony campaign violations.
Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s longtime personal and business attorney, has pleaded guilty to eight criminal charges, including two campaign finance charges stemming from his payment of hush money to women with whom Trump allegedly had affairs. What’s more, he admitted that “an unnamed candidate” directed him to make the hush money payments — that is, Donald Trump.
There now exists clear evidence that Michael Cohen was acting under the orders of Donald Trump when it came to dealing with Stormy Daniels. There was already a recording of another conversation between Trump and Cohen which was released in July which suggested Trump’s role in the illegal Stormy Daniels hush money payment, which can be heard here:
Michael Cohen has pleaded guilty to two felony campaign violations stemming from hush money payments made to Stormy Daniels, and Michael Cohen has stated in a federal court that he was acting under the orders of Donald Trump. In normal proceedings, Donald Trump would be charged with those same crimes as a co-conspirator of Michael Cohen. And just from what we know publicly, there is a pretty good chance Donald Trump would be found guilty. The only reason why Donald Trump is not in jail right now is because he is the President, and there is some question about whether or not a President can be indicted:
The Justice Department has long held the legal view that a sitting U.S. president is immune from routine criminal prosecution, which “would unconstitutionally undermine the capacity of the executive branch to perform its constitutionally assigned functions.” Special counsel Robert Mueller has said he’d honor this policy.
Now, this is just a policy, not a law. So, the Justice Department could decide not to follow that policy, in which case, guess where the legality of a criminal indictment of Donald Trump would likely end up?
“If they did seek an indictment against the president, the president would almost certainly appeal right away,” Brian Kalt, a law professor at Michigan State University, told Vox in 2017. “Immunity arguments get reviewed right away, since the point of immunity is that you can’t be prosecuted—letting the trial go forward would moot the issue. It would go all the way up to the Supreme Court in short order, but that could delay things for a few months at least.”
And guess what Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court, Brett Kavanaugh, thinks about whether or not a President can be subject to an indictment?
During a 1998 Georgetown Law School conference on what would turn out to be the dim prospects of renewing the independent counsel law, moderator Mark Tuohey (who hired Kavanaugh onto the staff of independent counsel Ken Starr) put a question to the panel:
“How many of you believe, as a matter of law, that a sitting president cannot be indicted during the term of office?” Tuohey asked.
Kavanaugh’s hand went up, as did more than half of the experts on the panel, including some with liberal political outlooks.