Manafort and Cohen Guilty

On Tuesday, Paul Manafort was found guilty on 8 of the 18 charges against him.  The jury was hung on the other 10 charges.  All of the charges were related to Manafort’s actions before working with the Trump campaign.  They included tax and bank fraud and hiding a foreign account.  This was when Manafort was working with the Podesta Group.  None of the charges had any relation to Russian collusion or the 2016 election.

Michael Cohen plead guilty in a plea deal to tax and bank fraud and is facing 3-5 years in jail.  Cohen was Trump’s personal attorney.  While this had nothing to do with Russia, collusion, or election meddling, there is a charge with Cohen that could touch Trump.  Cohen is charged with two counts of illegal campaign contributions related to his paying off two porn stars who had alleged affairs with Trump.  The key here is that in Cohen’s plea he said he was directed by the candidate to make those payments.

If Trump directed Cohen to pay off Stormy Daniels, and then reimbursed Cohen from the campaign, that could be trouble for Trump.  However, if Cohen was paid by Trump’s company as a reimbursement as deputy US attorney Robert Khuzami explained, it could result in nothing more than an IRS issue for the President.  Even then, a prosecutor would have to prove that Trump knew Cohen’s invoice was fraudulent.  Cohen is less than trustworthy as a witness and had great incentive to rat on Trump.

Cohen also indicated that he would be willing to testify to Mueller that Trump knew about the Trump Tower meeting between his son and a Russian attorney, but there doesn’t seem to be anything illegal about that meeting even if he did.

The two biggest takeaways from these huge stories is that Russian collusion still has not materialized, but that Trump likely has not been honest about his affair with Stormy Daniels.  That leaves Trump in the same boat as Bill Clinton in 1998, but without the perjury or obstruction of justice.

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