Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort has been convicted on 8 of 18 counts by a federal jury in Virginia, and a mistrial was declared on the remaining 10 counts when the jury deadlocked.
See? I was one short of “most.” That note from the jury threw me off, I thought it indicated more consensus than there was. Anyway, the guilty convictions were for multiple years of tax fraud and a touch of bank fraud. It’s a bit disappointing, as he’s likely guilty of a lot more, but those guilty verdicts alone could carry a maximum of 80 years. And “deadlocked” isn’t the same as “not guilty,” the rules allow prosecutors to try again. While they must be feeling a bit sore about the judge they got, between the guilty verdicts they got and Manafort’s second trial in a few weeks those prosecutors are probably more soothed than sore and content to let bygones be bygones. The deadline’s a week from now, so we won’t have to wait long to learn how that prediction turned out.
As for Michael Cohen, I was telling everyone to beware of all the spin in the air and wait for more concrete steps.
Cohen pleaded guilty to eight counts: five of tax evasion, one of making a false statement to a financial institution, two related to illegal campaign contributions.
1. From in or about 2007 through in or about January 2017, MICHAEL COHEN, the defendant, was an attorney and employee of a Manhattan-based real estate company (the “Company”). COHEN held the title of “Executive Vice President” and “Special Counsel” to the owner of the Company (“Individual-1”).
2. In or about January 2017, COHEN left the Company and began holding himself out as the “personal attorney” to Individual-1, who at that point had become the President of the United States. […]
27. In or about August 2015, the Chairman and Chief Executive of Corporation-1 ( “Chairman-1”), in coordination with MICHAEL COHEN, the defendant, and one or more members of the campaign, offered to help deal with negative stories about Individual-l’s relationships with women by, among other things, assisting the campaign in identifying such stories so they could be purchased and their publication avoided. Chairman-1 agreed to keep COHEN apprised of any such negative stories.
28. Consistent with the agreement described above, Corporation-1 advised MICHAEL COHEN, the defendant, of negative stories during the course of the campaign, and COHEN, with the assistance of Corporation-1, was able to arrange for the purchase of two stories so as to suppress them and prevent them from influencing the election. […]
37. In or about January 2017, MICHAEL COHEN, the defendant, in seeking reimbursement for election-related expenses, presented executives of the Company with a copy of a bank statement from the Essential Consultants bank account, which reflected the $130,000 payment COHEN had made to the bank account of Attorney-1 in order to keep Woman-2 silent in advance of the election, plus a $35 wire fee, adding, in handwriting, an additional “$50,000.” The $50,000 represented a claimed payment for “tech services,” which in fact related to work COHEN had solicited from a technology company during and in connection with the campaign. COHEN added these amounts to a sum of $180,035. After receiving this document, executives of the Company “grossed up” for tax purposes COHEN’ s requested reimbursement of $180,000 to $360,000, and then added a bonus of $60,000 so that COHEN would be paid $420,000 in total.
That’s a violation of campaign finance laws aimed at influencing the 2016 election, in consultation with a presidential candidate, his team, and said candidate’s business. As if that wasn’t bad enough, Cohen’s lawyer followed up with a one-two punch.
Today he stood up and testified under oath that Donald Trump directed him to commit a crime by making payments to two women for the principal purpose of influencing an election. If those payments were a crime for Michael Cohen, then why wouldn’t they be a crime for Donald Trump?
“I can tell you that Mr. Cohen has knowledge on certain subjects that should be of interest to the Special Counsel,” [Lanny] Davis told [Rachael] Maddow. “The obvious possibility of a conspiracy to collude and corrupt the American democracy system in the 2016 election,which the Trump Tower meeting was all about. But also knowledge about the computer crime of hacking and whether or not Mr. Trump knew ahead of time about that crime and whether he cheered it on. We know that he publicly cheered it on, but did he also have private information?”
Before the Lanny Davis news, though, I’d predicted that Trump’s West Virginia rally would be off the hook.
Trump has concluded after about an hour and 15 minutes, longer than usual. No mention of Cohen, Manafort, or Mueller, and less time spent on the Russia probe – just a couple sentences – than at most events.
Phooey, and the pre-show was so promising. Both the Manafort and Cohen verdicts were handed out within minutes of each other, and a mere two hours before Trump’s rally, so the silence may simply be because he didn’t have time to absorb what was happening? Maybe instinct kicked in, and Trump realized anger would only make him look more guilty? Or maybe visions of pardons are dancing through his head? It’s still too early to be sure, but nonetheless that’s another flubbed prediction.
Ah well, back to that post on probability theory.