We are currently living through a montage in a mob movie. In case you are living under a rock, or have decided to live a likely healthier, news-free lifestyle, all hell broke loose yesterday afternoon. President Trump’s former campaign manager was found guilty on eight counts of various kinds of fraud that carry up to a maximum 80 year sentence. Michael Cohen, a man so scummy that most publications can’t even bring themselves to keep up his facade of being the president’s (former) personal lawyer, pleaded guilty to eight counts of fraud that he committed while working as Donald Trump’s fixer. Not only that, Cohen testified under oath that he was working “at the direction of the candidate” to silence Karen McDougal and “with and at the direction of the same candidate” to paying off Stormy Daniels. The government even said that they have hard evidence backing up this assertion.
But that’s not all for our president’s terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. In fact, it’s still ongoing. This morning, Michael Cohen’s lawyer, Lanny Davis, told NPR’s Morning Edition:
“I know that Mr. Cohen would never accept a pardon from a man that he considers to be both corrupt and a dangerous person in the oval office. And [Cohen] has flatly authorized me to say under no circumstances would he accept a pardon from Mr. Trump.”
Davis went on to say that Trump has used his pardon power on “political cronies,” and Cohen “is not interested in being dirtied by a pardon from such a man.” If this is true, and it’s not just posturing or part of the negotiation to get a pardon (after all, Cohen’s the one who brought up pardoning in the first place—Trump hasn’t said a positive word about him since the guiltsplosion of yesterday afternoon), then hoo-boy is this going to drive President Crazypants even crazier.
Trump only sees the world in reality TV. That’s why he spends most of his time holed up in his residence, at Mar-a-lago or at Mar-a-Jersey, tweeting and watching cable news. He wants to know how the show is doing. It’s also why he has jumped on this issue of revoking security clearances. It’s like a reverse-rose ceremony from The Bachelor, and pardons are Trump’s version of handing out a rose. Refusing Trump’s advances is sure to enrage him, and if there is one thing that we have learned in this ordeal, it’s that Trump’s self-inflicted wounds may be the most consequential parts of this entire mess.
This theory isn’t proven but the timeline is unmistakable. Trump could be dealing with the fallout from this Cohen mess because he opened his big stupid mouth and did the only thing he does more than breathe: lie.
—Thursday, April 5th: When asked if he knew that Michael Cohen paid Stormy Daniels, President Trump said “No.”
—Monday, April 9th: Michael Cohen’s entire life gets raided by the Feds.
— Tuesday, August 21st: Michael Cohen pleads guilty to multiple felonies “with and at the direction” of Trump.
It’s entirely possible that Trump’s public denial triggered the search warrant on Cohen’s businesses (or “businesses”). The Southern District of New York has been working on this case for some time now, so the timing could just be coincidental—much like yesterday’s coincidental timing of Cohen pleading guilty just before Manafort was found guilty—but given the litany of other unforced errors by this administration (like Trump’s public statements being used by judges to strike down his Muslim ban), it cannot be ruled out that Trump created his own mess with Cohen. Now that Cohen is publicly challenging him with seriously damaging material, the worst seems yet to come, and the president can make life infinitely more difficult for himself simply by hitting send on Twitter.
Jacob Weindling is a staff writer for Paste politics. Follow him on Twitter at @Jakeweindling.