We haven’t heard from Michael Cohen or his attorney lately, and in many ways the silence has been deafening. The former Trump attorney has not been on Twitter or on television or anywhere else in the media for weeks.
It is probably not a coincidence that Cohen seems to have gone underground at the same time that former Trump campaign manager Paul Manfort has gone on trial.
Mueller has used Manafort’s trial to send a message that anyone who fights him is doomed. And the main intended recipient of that message is Michael Cohen.
In many respects Cohen is in exactly the same situation as Manafort, it’s just that he hasn’t been indicted yet.
To clarify, let’s look at the Cohen news that appeared in the media over the past week but has been mostly ignored.
First of all, Cohen is now under investigation for tax fraud.
According to the Wall Street Journal, “federal authorities are assessing whether Mr. Cohen’s income from his taxi-medallion business was underreported in federal tax returns.”
The Journal article said that Cohen illegally avoided reporting as taxable income hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The Journal also said that officials “also are looking into whether any bank employees improperly allowed Mr. Cohen to obtain loans for which he didn’t provide adequate documentation.”
Tax fraud. Bank fraud. Illicit loans. Money laundering. Doesn’t this sound familiar?
Another similarity between Cohen’s case and the Manafort trial is that both of these close Trump friends have business associates who “flipped” on them and are cooperating with law enforcement.
In Manafort’s case it is his former employee and personal assistant Rick Gates who is cooperating with Mueller in exchange for lesser charges and shorter prison terms. Everyone agrees that Gates’ testimony against Manafort was deadly and there is no chance that Trump’s longtime associate will be found innocent of all 18 charges.
In Cohen’s case, he has a business partner who has also “flipped” and is working with prosecutors. And like Gates, this business associate could provide the evidence needed to find Cohen guilty. The guy who flipped and cut a plea deal is Evgeny Freidman known as the “Taxi King” who has been Cohen’s partner in the New York City taxi business for many years.
According to the Journal, Freidman has helped investigators understand the details of the finances of Cohen’s own taxi cab business. And, as expected, they found out that Cohen was running the same kinds of tax scams as Freidman, and they have the evidence they need to prove it in court.
In essence, this means that that Freidman is going to do to Cohen what Gates did to Manafort. And because of the article in the Journal, Cohen knows it.
Yesterday the AP reported that the review of the Cohen documents seized in the FBI raid in April has been completed, which means the prosecutors can now proceed with their case against Cohen for various other financial crimes.
So the delays are over and the messages have been sent. The time is now for Michael Cohen to end his silence.
The Manafort trial has shown Michael Cohen that he has no chance of getting off and being found innocent. He now knows that he had better cut his own plea deal ASAP in order to avoid Manafort’s fate of spending decades in prison.