The exhilarated state of the left was pretty hard to miss after news of Michael Cohen’s plea deal with Robert Mueller broke. MSNBC’s Nicole Wallace was positively giddy as she interviewed Deadline host Rachel Maddow about this latest development. Prior to their discussion, Wallace had just revealed that the investigation was still under the management of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Maddow said she had not known that and sounded overjoyed. Maddow said:
It actually makes me feel like this must be a much more ominous moment for the White House because if Mueller is proceeding without being throttled or stymied and proceeding at this kind of a pace, rolling out this stuff right now, everything is aiming right at the president personally and that’s got to be very unsettling for them.
The problem here for the president is the plot that was just revealed in the Cohen documents. And what is revealed, if you step back from it, is that the president and his business were actively involved in negotiating probably the biggest business deal of Trump’s life in Moscow, including direct negotiations with the Kremlin during the president’s campaign, and they were lying about it at the time and they have lied about it since and they have been engaged in an elaborate effort to cover it up. And the time they were secretly negotiating what would have probably been the biggest deal of his life with the Kremlin, at that same time, the Kremlin was intervening, illegally, in U.S. politics to help Trump win the election.
It also shows us that Mueller has evidence, enough to bring a criminal charge related to it, that while Russia was actively intervening in our election to hurt Hillary Clinton and help Donald Trump, Trump was doing business with Russia which meant specifically doing business with the Kremlin and lying about it. And that is the story.
Maddow was speaking on the phone to Wallace, but the glee in her voice and the happiness on Wallace’s face were unmistakable. I also found their discussion to be unnerving because when I had heard the news earlier, I didn’t find it to be nearly as momentous.
With Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker now leading the DOJ, Rosenstein’s power will be diminished. He may still be managing the probe, but with Whitaker in place at the helm, Mueller likely won’t be able to continue with quite the same degree of independence. He will now have to explain his actions to a Trump ally.
Maddow lays out a scenario that she wants very much to be the truth. Only it’s not the truth, none of it is proven.
As for her statement that Mueller has “evidence, enough to bring a criminal charge related to it,” Mueller has promised a known liar, who might otherwise face 65 years in prison which for Cohen is essentially a life sentence, that he will serve no more than five years if he amends his earlier testimony and signs the plea deal. Cohen is not exactly known for his integrity.
But Maddow was hardly the only liberal predicting Trump’s political demise. CNN Legal Analyst Jeffrey Toobin said “today’s the first day I actually thought Donald Trump might not finish his term in office.”
Celebrities also took off on flights of fancy over the Cohen report. Here’s a sampling of their reactions.
America is signaling the waiter to ask for the check.
— Rob Reiner (@robreiner) November 29, 2018
Wouldn’t it be great to release all the people of color in prison who are serving long-term sentences for pot- in exchange 4 the whole Trunp family and their Repub counterparts who knew and did nothing? Get that prison reform, Kushner! Get your families cells ready. #prisonparty
— Chelsea Handler (@chelseahandler) November 29, 2018
I don’t worry myself w Russia probe etc (I’m more of a brutally plow Democrats leftward with extreme prejudice person) but yes fantasy football is fun so I would most like mike pence and ivanka to go to prison
— rob delaney (@robdelaney) November 29, 2018
Shaken (😱) after watching and reading about all of this euphoria, I found a reassuring and very thorough piece written by Fox News legal analyst Gregg Jarrett. The article, entitled “Cohen Guilty Plea Does Absolutely Nothing To Show Wrongdoing By Trump,” points out the flaws in the left’s groupthink. I’ll outline the highlights, but I highly recommend reading the entire article here.
Jarrett starts by addressing Cohen’s character and how his testimony would be received by a jury.
No one, including prosecutors, can trust that what comes out of Cohen’s mouth bears any resemblance to the truth. In front of a jury, he’d be worthless. And that is the dilemma whenever the government gets in bed with crooks and liars.
Amid the media hysteria over Cohen’s latest guilty plea, many journalists seem to have overlooked one important and immutable fact: absolutely nothing that he now says about the never-finalized Moscow real estate venture establishes an election conspiracy.
Next, he argues that if Russia wanted to create a situation they could use to blackmail Trump during his possible future presidency, they would have offered him a deal that he couldn’t pass up. This deal was discussed, but it never transpired.
Donald Trump has spent his entire life negotiating major projects with influential businessmen and with government officials. This was not, as Rachel Maddow portrays it, the biggest business deal of Trump’s life. For Trump, this deal and these negotiations were business as usual. Trump did not formally launch his campaign until June 16, 2016. At that time, polls were predicting he would lose to Hillary Clinton. And, if he lost, his life as a developer would go on.
As has been widely reported for two years, the Trump Organization scrapped its proposal to build a tower in Moscow and the deal never materialized. A failed deal hardly constitutes a quid pro quo for Russian help to win the presidency.
It is not a crime to develop real estate in Russia, which makes it all the more mystifying why Cohen would lie about it. If some nefarious election “collusion” was involved, Cohen would certainly have been charged. This is how normal prosecutions unfold.
Ask yourself a commonsense question: If Russia was trying to get leverage over Trump, why didn’t Russian officials sign a lucrative sweetheart deal that would earn the Trump Organization millions of dollars – and then threaten to expose the deal to embarrass the president if he didn’t give them favorable treatment?
And ask yourself another question: Why didn’t the Russians agree to a deal that would provide the Trump Organization with a steady stream of revenue that Trump would not want to see disappear by angering them?
Now answer this: How would Russia gain favor or leverage over Trump with a deal that never came to fruition? The answer is obvious: doing so would be impossible.
Next, Jarrett describes the process Mueller uses to manipulate people into agreeing to plea deals. “If you or I did this, we’d be charged with extortion and bribery.”
This is what has happened to several individuals with Trump connections – former Trump National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and low-level presidential campaign adviser George Papadopoulos.
Flynn told the truth, according to the FBI agents who interviewed him. Mueller didn’t care and charged the retired three-star general with making a false statement during his short tenure in the Trump administration.
Papadopoulos, a young volunteer on a Trump campaign foreign policy advisory panel, gave agents an incorrect date and was charged with the same offense. Both men threw in the towel under relentless pressure and pleaded guilty.
The latest target of the special counsel is Jerome Corsi, a conservative author. He says Mueller’s team threatened him with serious criminal charges unless he pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of making a false or misleading statement.
Corsi provided me with the documents that Mueller presented to him. In the main charging document, Corsi is supposed to admit that he made false statements to the special counsel “willfully and knowingly,” which is what the statute (18 U.S.C. 1001) requires.
Finally, he discusses WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s June 12, 2016 announcement that he would publish Hillary Clinton’s emails. Every journalist was trying to find out what was in them. It was only natural that Roger Stone and Jerome Corsi, Trump’s allies, would want this information. This was not illegal. They didn’t hack Hillary’s emails or steal them. Someone else had. He details how they tried to obtain this information and brings it back to Mueller’s case against Corsi.
Amending testimony under oath is not an uncommon practice. It normally avoids charges of perjury or false statements. Just ask former FBI Director James Comey and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.
Both Comey and Clapper delivered demonstrably false testimony before Congress. When their misstatements were subsequently exposed, they were allowed to correct and amend their testimony. Neither was criminally charged. But Corsi received no such allowance.
The double standard should be obvious to all. If you’re a government official without ties to Donald Trump, you can lie, make mistakes or fail to remember things correctly and face no legal consequences. But if you’re a private citizen – especially if you’re connected to Trump – you’ll be threatened with prosecution and the prospect of spending time behind bars.
Corsi has stated openly that the special counsel wanted him to support a Trump-Russia “collusion” narrative devised by Mueller’s team, even if it meant that Corsi must lie to accomplish it. Corsi refuses to do so.
Mueller has acted unethically and he has abused his power. His Gestapo tactics have been allowed because he has been accountable to no one. Certainly, Rod Rosenstein, who sees Mueller as a mentor, hasn’t stood in his way. Jarrett concludes:
Mueller represents what all Americans should be afraid of in their government – an unscrupulous zealot armed with virtually unlimited power, who can destroy any person who gets in his way.
Mueller and his assembled team of partisans are exactly what our Founding Fathers feared when they crafted a Constitution designed to limit the corrupt and corrosive power of a singular and unaccountable authority.
The Mueller investigation has been a travesty since it began. Legally, a special counsel cannot be appointed unless there is evidence of a crime. There was no evidence of a crime. Instead, there was an obsessive, criminal and inextinguishable need to overturn the results of the 2016 election in which Donald Trump become the duly elected President of the United States.