The first rule of the Trump-Russia scandal is that when something happens and it makes no sense at the time, it’ll end up being important later. The second rule is that Robert Mueller is already several steps ahead of whatever you and I are talking about on any given day. When it comes to the Donald Trump – Michael Cohen bribery story, both these rules are once again being proven correct.
We’ll have to leave it to the lawyers and judges to determine if the bribes that AT&T and Novartis paid to Cohen in order to gain influence over Trump were illegal bribes, or merely unethical bribes. Suffice it to say that it’s not difficult to point to decisions made by Trump, which favored these companies, and made no sense to us at the time, and are now going to be under the microscope. So, yeah, Rule Number One applies once again. But it’s Rule Number Two that might be more interesting in this instance.
Novartis is now telling the New York Times that it’s already had conversations with Robert Mueller about its “consulting” payments to Michael Cohen. But this just became public twenty-four hours ago. If Mueller first learned about it yesterday along with the rest of us, it would have taken him time to do his homework before wanting to meet with Novartis, and the company would have needed time to run things past its own attorneys first. In other words, the Mueller-Novartis meeting happened before this all became public, which means Mueller has already known about the Novartis-Cohen payments for awhile.
This tells us two important things. First, Robert Mueller is indeed part of the investigation into Michael Cohen, even if it is being run out of the SDNY office. Novartis is acknowledging that it spoke directly to Mueller’s team, not the SDNY team. Second, this is just the latest reminder that Mueller is indeed way ahead of everyone else involved.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report