ABC News broke the news Thursday afternoon that Trump’s former personal attorney and one of the President’s closest associates, Michael Cohen, has spent the last month in multiple interview sessions with investigators from special counsel Robert Mueller‘s Trump Russia probe, talking about Russia, possible collusion, and pardon.
According to ABC’s sources, the interviews have focused “primarily on all aspects of Trump‘s dealings with Russia — including financial and business dealings and the investigation into alleged collusion with Russia by the Trump campaign and its surrogates to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election.”
The sources told ABC the investigators also wanted to know if Trump or any of his associates discussed the possibility of a pardon with Cohen.
On Aug. 21, Cohen pleaded guilty in federal court in New York to campaign finance violations and conspiracy against the United States.
Recall that two of the questions that Mueller laid out to Trump were about Michael Cohen. Mueller asked:
• What communication did you have with Michael D. Cohen, Felix Sater and others, including foreign nationals, about Russian real estate developments during the campaign?
Mr. Mueller is referring to a failed effort to build a Trump Tower in Moscow. Mr. Sater, a business associate, proposed the idea to Mr. Cohen, the longtime personal lawyer to Mr. Trump. Emails show that Mr. Sater believed that the project would showcase Mr. Trump’s deal-making acumen and propel him into the presidency.
• What do you know about a Ukrainian peace proposal provided to Mr. Cohen in 2017?
Mr. Cohen, the lawyer, hand-delivered to the White House a peace proposal for Ukraine and Russia. This unusual bit of backdoor diplomacy is of interest because it involved a Ukrainian lawmaker who said he was being encouraged by Mr. Putin’s aides. Mr. Cohen has said he did not discuss the proposal with Mr. Trump.
Donald Trump continues to deny there was any collusion with Russia and he calls this investigation a witch hunt. The Russians have also denied working with the Trump campaign.
However, the list of people close to Trump who have been indicted and convicted in Mueller’s Trump Russia probe keeps growing.
Just last week, Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort agreed to cooperate in the Russia probe into possible collusion regarding the 2016 election as part of a plea deal.
On Sept. 7, George Papadopoulos, a former campaign adviser to Trump, was sentenced to 14 days in prison. He had pleaded guilty in October to lying to FBI agents about the timing and significance of his contacts, including a professor who told him the Russians had “dirt” on Trump’s Democratic presidential rival, Hillary Clinton.
Aug. 21, a jury in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia, found former Trump campaign chairman Manafort guilty on eight of 18 charges of filing false tax returns, failing to disclose his offshore bank accounts and bank fraud. The judge declared a mistrial on the remaining 10 counts, which were dismissed as part of Manafort’s plea deal on Sept. 14 in a second case against him in Washington.
Michael Flynn, a former national security adviser to Trump who was also a close campaign aide, pleaded guilty in December to lying to FBI agents about his contacts with Russia and agreed to cooperate with Mueller’s investigation. Mueller and Flynn’s defense team last month asked for more time before Flynn is sentenced.
Rick Gates, a former deputy campaign chairman for Trump, pleaded guilty in February to conspiracy against the United States and lying to investigators, and agreed to cooperate with the Mueller investigation.
Alex Van der Zwaan, a lawyer who once worked closely with Manafort and Gates, pleaded guilty in February to lying to Mueller’s investigators about contacts with an official in the Trump election campaign. Van der Zwaan, the Dutch son-in-law of one of Russia’s richest men, was sentenced on April 3 to 30 days in prison and fined $20,000.
Donald Trump should be very nervous, because while he didn’t answer Mueller‘s questions, Cohen did. And Cohen knows so much about Trump‘s financial secrets.
Additionally, “ABC News has also learned that Cohen is also cooperating with a separate probe by New York state authorities into the inner workings of the Trump family charity and the Trump Organization, where Cohen served as an executive vice president and special counsel to Trump for 10 years.”
BOOM. BOOM. and BOOM.
(List of Trump associates indicted and or convicted compiled by Frances Kerry, Cynthia Osterman, Mohammad Zargham and Susan Heavey)
Ms. Jones is the co-founder/ editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.