The president thinks that if he didn’t know it’s was illegal, then it shouldn’t be illegal. Which is wrong.
Donald Trump’s former lawyer, fixer, and probably golf caddy Michael Cohen is headed to prison for three years, and the president is not taking it very well.
Cohen is headed to the clink for what the judge called a “smorgasbord of criminal conduct,” including tax evasion, lying to Congress, and most concerning to the president, violating campaign finance laws by setting up a shell company to buy the silence of women who allegedly had affairs with Trump (and submitting false invoices to lie about the loan) as not to freak out Trump’s new evangelical fan base.
Hours later, Trump has finally chimed in about the sentencing on Twitter, and is making even less sense than usual. The president is not disputing that he directed Cohen to make the payments, but he’s insisting that he didn’t know it was illegal, so therefore it wasn’t illegal (???).
I never directed Michael Cohen to break the law. He was a lawyer and he is supposed to know the law. It is called “advice of counsel,” and a lawyer has great liability if a mistake is made. That is why they get paid. Despite that many campaign finance lawyers have strongly......— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 13, 2018\n
....stated that I did nothing wrong with respect to campaign finance laws, if they even apply, because this was not campaign finance. Cohen was guilty on many charges unrelated to me, but he plead to two campaign charges which were not criminal and of which he probably was not...— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 13, 2018\n
....guilty even on a civil basis. Those charges were just agreed to by him in order to embarrass the president and get a much reduced prison sentence, which he did-including the fact that his family was temporarily let off the hook. As a lawyer, Michael has great liability to me!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 13, 2018\n
He’s not denying directing payments to a Playboy bunny with whom he cheated on his wife, because we live insane times.
* porn star WITH WHOM I cheated on my wife— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) December 13, 2018\n
Let’s not abandon all standards, people https://t.co/OrHQHUNWTu
He is admitting to having lied to the American people for months, though, which would be a scandal on its own if things still mattered. The fact that the President of the United States’s go-to defense is “I don’t know the law or understand it!!!” is quite concerning.
Someone running to oversee the faithful execution of laws should, well, know the law. Trump has resorted classic Costanza Defense.
Trump really trying to Costanza his way out of the Cohen situation. pic.twitter.com/7hVl5aBTxf— Steve McPherson (@steventurous) December 13, 2018\n
It might surprise you to learn that Trump’s hot take is at odds with legal experts and facts.
Everyone in that courtroom, including the judge, concluded that you directed Cohen to commit a crime.— Renato Mariotti (@renato_mariotti) December 13, 2018\n
You don’t appear to have a viable advice of counsel defense because you were not seeking legal advice from Cohen at the time, and the burden would be on you to prove that. https://t.co/Tv8KhWk9UF
Trump previously said he didn't know about the payments.— Aaron Blake (@AaronBlake) December 13, 2018\n
He now tacitly admits he directed them, but says he didn't ask Cohen to do them illegally.
That's a real legal distinction; it's a complete admission that what he said before was BS. https://t.co/pB01GZocy1
Your lawyer-fixer tells you he will create a shell company to pay off a sex partner from 2007, during your election in 2016, & submits false invoices to your company to hide the loan he has made to you to pay her. Good luck with that argument. https://t.co/jApaLE5PVd— Maya Wiley (@mayawiley) December 13, 2018\n
Trump’s tweets also contradict Cohen’s receipts. Cohen secretly recorded his meeting with Trump plotting to get The National Enquirer to buy the rights to Karen McDougal’s story so they can kill it. Trump says, “we’ll have to pay with cash,” which sounds very legal and very cool.
Another witness against Trump? The National Enquirer’s parent company, American Media, Inc., who admitted in a non-prosecution agreement filed by the Justice Department that yes, they were in cahoots with Trump to bury damaging stories for the purposes of influencing the election.
No longer just Cohen versus Trump. AMI, the parent company of the National Enquirer, backs Cohen on the record. We now have multiple witnesses saying Trump committed a felony to secure his election. https://t.co/Tg7JCXzKKa— Richard Blumenthal (@SenBlumenthal) December 12, 2018\n
It’s multiple witnesses—and the opinion of the court—against Trump on this one. No wonder Trump is freaking out.