Michael Cohen has parted ways with his criminal defense attorneys who had been coordinating with Donald Trump’s legal team, even as ABC News reports that Cohen is preparing to cut a plea deal against Trump. Most of us expected Cohen to reluctantly flip on Trump eventually. But why now? Why today? Why not a month ago, or a month from now? There are a few factors at play here.
The first clue came when Vanity Fair reported yesterday that Michael Cohen has been telling his associates that he expects to be arrested any day now. As Palmer Report explained in response to this revelation, it’s highly unlikely that Cohen could have known the timeframe of his arrest – unless federal prosectors purposely tipped him off that he was about to be arrested, in an effort at getting him to flip. Sure enough, Katy Tur just now announced on MSNBC that Cohen has in fact been informed by prosecutors that his arrest is imminent. But there’s more to this.
Cutting a plea deal won’t save Michael Cohen from being arrested. In fact it means he has to show up and surrender himself, where he’ll be arrested, booked, and arraigned. The bottom line is that he could have waited until after his arrest to cut the deal, and the outcome would have essentially been the same. Perhaps the psychological specter of being arrested was too much for him, and he decided that he’d rather go down on his own terms. But his timing may be based more on external factors.
Paul Manafort has a new arraignment hearing this Friday on charges that he tried to tamper with the witnesses against him, and it’ll almost surely result in his immediate imprisonment. This may motivate Manafort to cut a plea deal. In addition, Roger Stone appears to be days away from arrest based on grand jury proceedings, and he could also be looking to cut a plea deal. In other words, Michael Cohen suddenly has competition when it comes to getting the best plea deal possible. He may simply be trying to beat Manafort and Stone to the punch. By the way, Cohen can still expect a multi-year prison sentence as part of his deal.
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Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report