Donald Trump and his lawyer Rudy Giuliani made a huge mistake when they decided to waive privilege on the tapes that Michael Cohen secretly made of his incriminating conversations with Trump. But that may not go down as the defining mistake that imploded Trump’s illegitimate presidency. Instead, that award may go to the decision that Trump and Rudy made after waiving privilege.
Rudy Giuliani, presumably with Donald Trump’s blessing, claimed that Michael Cohen wanted to make the payment to Trump’s mistress in cash, and that Trump shot down the idea. If this were true, it would have meant that Cohen was the one with the most severe criminal intent here. In reality it was the opposite: Trump wanted to pay in cash, and Cohen suggested “financing” instead. Cohen clearly took exception to this lie, and gave the tape to CNN just to prove that he wasn’t the one trying to make a secret six-figure payoff in cash.
Keep in mind that when Trump and Rudy cooked up this lie about the tape, it was part of a plan that also included waiving attorney-client privilege. This meant that Cohen could do anything he wanted with the tape. If you’re going to falsely accuse someone of being the biggest offender in a criminal plot, it’s probably not a good idea to simultaneously hand that person the ability to definitively prove to the public that you’re lying about him. Trump gave Cohen both the motivation, and the means, to make that recording public.
Rudy Giuliani is acting so cartoonishly incompetent as Donald Trump’s attorney, you have to seriously consider the possibility that he’s trying to take Trump down on purpose in the hope of protecting his own legal interests. The stunning part here is that Donald Trump greenlit this idea. Not only has it already blown up in his face, it could end up finally pushing Michael Cohen over the edge into cutting a plea deal against him.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report