Additional filings about Michael Cohen’s cooperation with both federal prosecutors and the Southern District of New York were due to be filed this afternoon. A separate federal filing on Manafort and what he lied about to lose his plea deal with the government is going to be filed under seal later tonight (update: it was released as soon as this column was about to be published, here it is). There is some big news to reveal so let’s get to it.
Per Robert Mueller (speaking about Michael Cohen):
The defendant admitted he told those lies—which he made publicly and in submissions to Congress—in order to (1) minimize links between the Moscow Project and Individual 1 and (2) give the false impression that the Moscow Project had ended before the Iowa caucus and the first presidential primaries, in hopes of limiting the ongoing Russia investigations being conducted by Congress and the SCO.
Per the SDNY (emphasis mine):
During the campaign, Cohen played a central role in two similar schemes to purchase the rights to stories—each from women who claimed to have had an affair with Individual-1—so as to suppress the stories and thereby prevent them from influencing the election. With respect to both payments, Cohen acted with the intent to influence the 2016 presidential election. Cohen coordinated his actions with one or more members of the campaign, including through meetings and phone calls, about the fact, nature and timing of the payments. In particular, and as Cohen himself has now admitted, with respect to both payments, he acted in coordination with and at the direction of Individual-1.
Individual-1 is undoubtedly Donald Trump, as the SDNY is describing the Stormy Daniels and Karen MacDougal sagas that we are all intimately familiar with. Both filings combine to paint a picture of Michael Cohen engaging in various criminal acts, and the phrase hovering over all this is “in coordination with and at the direction of Individual-1”—Cohen’s guilty plea made under penalty of perjury. While there is a lot we do already know in these filings (kudos to BuzzFeed’s Anthony Cormier and Jason Leopold for reporting a lot of it already, like Ivanka’s involvement in this mess), we do learn some new stuff.
This isn't some sideswipe of Trump either. Individual 1 appears 23 times in SDNY's 30-page filing, and seven times in Mueller's seven page filing.
The Manafort filing is nine pages long, with somewhere around three to four pages redacted, and Individual 1 makes zero appearances. Mueller claims that Manafort lied about his contacts with Konstantin Kilimnik, a former member of Russian military intelligence who worked alongside Manafort in Ukraine for years. Manafort also lied about six-figure payments he received as late as 2017, as well as contacts with Trump administration officials as late as May 26, 2018. Mueller concludes by saying that he has the goods to prove Manafort's lies and is willing to demonstrate them in a court of law:
If the defendant contends the government has not acted in good faith, the government is available to prove the false statements at a hearing. Further, to the extent that the defendant contests specific false statements that implicate ongoing investigations, the government is able to provide evidence to the Court ex parte.
Trump has some thoughts on these filings, which are, uh, not accurate, to say the least.
This entire Russia investigation is officially on President Trump's doorstep in two offices (including one outside the reach of his pardon power), and this new Cohen development, plus the Paul Manafort filing about the lies he lost his plea deal over, are likely why we saw Trump become so unhinged on Twitter the last 24 hours.
Buckle up, folks. Given Trump’s penchant for making a bad situation worse, this could be a historic weekend.
Jacob Weindling is a staff writer for Paste politics. Follow him on Twitter at @Jakeweindling.