Thoughts on last night’s Buzzfeed bombshell
(1) “Cautiously optimistic” is the optimal response. No other news outlet has confirmed it through their own sources. On the other hand, the Buzzfeed reporters (Anthony Cormier and Jason Leopold) have had Trump-Russia scoops before which panned out as true, way before other news organizations.
(2) In any event, Michael Cohen is testifying on February 7. He will (one hopes) confirm the story then. So an already riveting hearing just got more riveting.
(3) Rudy and Trump have given non-denial denials which attack the credibility of Cohen, which is odd since the Buzzfeed source wasn’t Cohen — it was two law enforcement sources. In fact, Mueller apparently knew from documentary evidence that Trump asked Cohen to perjure himself; Cohen merely confirmed it to Mueller. So if there are documents (like emails) which prove that Trump was asking Cohen to lie, attacking Cohen’s credibility seems pointless.
Giuliani response to Buzzfeed story: “Haven’t checked it out but if you believe Cohen I can get you a good all cash deal on the Brooklyn Bridge?”— Rebecca Ballhaus (@rebeccaballhaus) January 18, 2019
Then added, “Also why does SDNY say he is not telling the whole truth, ask him about his father in law,” before liking his own text.
Kevin Corke, @FoxNews “Don’t forget, Michael Cohen has already been convicted of perjury and fraud, and as recently as this week, the Wall Street Journal has suggested that he may have stolen tens of thousands of dollars….” Lying to reduce his jail time! Watch father-in-law!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 18, 2019
It’s been more than 12 hours since Buzzfeed reported allegations that the president committed what’s likely an impeachable offense, and I don’t think anyone from Trump’s team has actually denied it.— Chris Megerian (@ChrisMegerian) January 18, 2019
W.H. spokesman Hogan Gidley is asked by Fox News three times whether Trump told Michael Cohen to lie to Congress.— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) January 18, 2019
He does not answer all three times. Via Fox. pic.twitter.com/uS7bCJgBPP
(4) By the way, when Trump makes insinuations about Cohen’s father-in-law, that is witness intimidation and obstruction of justice. In broad daylight.
(5) I have always said that impeachment hearings in the House should be held off until we see the conclusions of the Mueller report. But if Cohen confirms the Buzzfeed story on February 7, then the impeachment hearings need to start right away. You don’t need to wait on “collusion” or anything else. Suborning perjury is a serious felony that gets you five years in the pen.
(6) Don’t blow this off as just another in a series of bad things that the President has done. This significantly moves the ball forward. Even the firing of Comey, which was (to most people) obstruction of justice — even THAT could be danced around by a crafty legal defense. But this — if there is corroboration and emails — has the potential to be THE smoking gun that ends the Trump presidency, full stop.
“When I went up there,” he says, recalling his installment as Watergate prosecutor, “I thought he had been victimized by his staff. I thought he had a staff that had done things on their own. That they had not let their chief know that they were participating in these cheap doings. I thought they had been doing this on their own primarily, and that Nixon was not aware of it. I thought he should have been aware of it, but that’s a far different question from active participation in it, you know.
“What happened is, when I heard this tape recording where he was schooling [ chief of staff H. R.] Haldeman on how to lie, when I got to that part of it — boy! I’ll tell you! — was it a new ball game as far as I was concerned! I just shuddered at the thought of what this was going to lead to.”
(7) I am reminded of President Bartlet’s scandal and his words to his aide, Charlie. What a difference.
UPDATE — Ah. Finally. An actual denial.
New statement from Rudy Giuliani is the first denying Buzzfeed's article— Chris Megerian (@ChrisMegerian) January 18, 2019
"Any suggestion – from any source – that the President counseled Michael Cohen to lie is categorically false."