In hindsight, the symbolic turning point in Donald Trump’s Russia scandal may have been when things got so serious that even Trump’s attorney had to hire an attorney. Now Trump’s attorney is testifying before Congress today about his own role in the Trump-Russia scandal, which is complex to say the least. Remarkably, Cohen’s testimony comes amid total chaos having broken out in the scandal and investigation in question.
Last night it was revealed that there has been a FISA surveillance warrant on Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort all along, and that Special Counsel Robert Mueller is on the verge of indicting Manafort. This raises immediate questions as to whether Trump was intercepted when he made numerous phone calls to Manafort after taking office (almost certainly), and whether Trump admitted to or learned about any crimes during those conversations (an open question).
The imminent indictment of Manafort is likely to set off a feeding frenzy of Trump associates feeling out the possibility of flipping on him, as they may only be able to get favorable deals before Manafort inevitably flips on all of them. Now here comes Michael Cohen, Trump’s own attorney, who just happens to be testifying in the midst of this chaos.
Michael Cohen is known to have tried to help Donald Trump build Trump Tower Moscow during the election, even having gone so far as to reach out to the Kremlin to try to make it happen. Cohen is also believed to have been involved in the infamous backchannel proposal that Russia tried to deliver to Trump in February, which would have involved Trump using Kremlin blackmail to oust the leader of the Ukraine. Cohen is also alleged to have played a pivotal role in the “Trump Russia dossier” assembled by former MI6 agent Christopher Steele, though Cohen denies the assertions made about him in the dossier.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report