For all its strange twists and turns, the one reliable constant of the Trump-Russia scandal is this: if something happens that makes no sense, it’ll prove to be important later on. Earlier today we acknowledged that we couldn’t figure out why Donald Trump had chosen today of all days to make a point of discussing the Stormy Daniels scandal, after he’d gone all this time afraid to even speak about it. Hours later, we received what appears to be our answer.
This evening we learned, courtesy of McClatchy, that Special Counsel Robert Mueller has spent the past couple days serving subpoenas to Donald Trump’s business associates. In particular, Mueller is using these subpoenas to gather information about Trump’s longtime personal attorney Michael Cohen. In other words, Mueller is now firmly targeting Cohen.
Trump’s business associates have surely let him know that Mueller is suddenly poking around to try to get to Cohen. So what did Trump do in response? He seized the first opportunity to take questions about the Stormy Daniels scandal, so he could assert that he didn’t know Cohen had paid off Daniels during the election, and that he didn’t even know where Cohen got the money from. These claims are highly dubious, but now it all makes sense why Trump is suddenly talking about Stormy Daniels: he’s using it as an opportunity to throw Michael Cohen under the bus.
Now that Donald Trump knows Robert Mueller is targeting Michael Cohen, Trump has decided to try to distance himself from Cohen. Trump presumably fears that Cohen is about to be arrested, and maybe cut a plea deal against him, so he’s striking first. We’ve seen Trump suddenly try to distance himself from his former close associates Paul Manafort and Michael Flynn just as Mueller was moving in on them. Now he’s being just as disloyal to Cohen.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report