There was a brief window of a few minutes today that will receive several paragraphs in the history books, as Paul Manafort was found guilty while Michael Cohen was pleading guilty. It was the worst kind of worst-case scenario for Donald Trump. Because this day needed more drama, Trump just happened to be stepping off Air Force One moments after all the courtroom drama played out. Trump’s remarks for the cameras were subdued but nonetheless rant-like, and he appeared to give some things away.
Donald Trump predictably insisted that the Manafort guilty verdict had “nothing to do with me.” He then went on to say “I feel very badly for Paul Manafort” while expressing lament that it had to “end this way,” which is probably a very bad sign for Manafort. In other words, there’s no magic pardon coming. But Trump’s response to the Cohen news may have been more telling.
Even though Michael Cohen had just finished naming Donald Trump as an unindicted co-conspirator, Trump made no remarks about Cohen at all, and seemed to be pretending that the Cohen storyline wasn’t happening. Was he in denial? Did he simply have no idea how to address the matter? We suspect Trump will eventually have plenty to say about Cohen, because he can’t help himself. But now we know that the Cohen news has spooked him more than the Manafort news.
Donald Trump has not yet addressed any of today’s events on Twitter. Instead, shortly after the Manafort and Cohen news broke, his Twitter account posted an apparently pre-scheduled tweet which read “Just landed in West Virginia. Big crowd, looking forward to seeing everyone soon!” Suffice it to say that the responses to the oblivious tweet were less than charitable.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report