Surely we’ll find out about Trump’s hush-money payments, but what else? He can’t discuss things that the Mueller probe is still looking into, so what exactly will he be able to tell congressional investigators?
Here is what it is believed Cohen will discuss on Feb. 7:
Details of the Trump Tower Moscow Project
Mueller reached a deal with Cohen on this specific charge, which indicates that it is a main focus of the collusion investigation.
Mueller’s team wrote last month:
“The fact that Cohen continued to work on the project and discuss it with Trump well into the campaign was material to the ongoing congressional and [special counsel] investigations, particularly because it occurred at a time of sustained efforts by the Russian government to interfere with the U.S. presidential election.”
But it’s not clear how much Trump was involved in this deal. Given Trump’s pro-Russia campaign rhetoric if he was involved in the deal it could implicate the president in collusion.
Trump Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg’s Role in Crimes
Whatever Trump was up to, Weisselberg probably knows, because he cut all Trump‘s checks for decades.
Cohen mentioned Weisselberg twice on that tape of him talking to Trump about the hush money.
“I’ve spoken to Allen Weisselberg about how to set the whole thing up with …” Cohen said before Trump interrupted him. Cohen then mentioned Weisselberg again: “So I’m all over that. And I spoke to Allen about it, when it comes time for the financing.”
The Trump Organization chief financial officer has agreed to cooperate with Mueller in exchange for immunity, but the public has received few details. Cohen’s testimony may help clarify the extent of Weisselberg’s legal exposure. It will also clarify what crimes Weisselberg and Trump may have committed together.
How Trump Directed Hush Money Crimes
Cohen’s guilty plea in the Southern District of New York’s investigation implicated Trump in the 2016 hush-money payments to porn star Stormy Daniels and former Playboy playmate Karen McDougal.
The question is whether Trump himself has real legal exposure due to the payoffs. Trump’s defense has been: I may have told him to do it, but I didn’t tell him to break the law, and I expected that he wouldn’t, because he’s a lawyer and should know better.
Cohen told ABC News last month that “of course” Trump knew the hush-money payments were wrong, but he didn’t provide any proof. So expect the congressional investigators to dig into the details of what Trump said when he directed the payments, and exactly why Cohen believes Trump knew it was illegal.
If Cohen can substantiate Trump’s knowledge that they were committing crimes then Trump himself may be charged with the same crimes that are sending Cohen to jail for three years.
Was Cohen in Prague, or Just His Cellphone?
The Steele Dossier said that Cohen (or another top Trump campaign official) was in Prague in 2016 negotiating the financial terms of collusion with a senior Russian official.
McClatchy reported in April that Mueller has evidence that Cohen was in Prague around the time that the Steele dossier claimed he was there. But Cohen denied this. Then McClatchy reported recently that Cohen’s cellphone pinged a tower near Prague around the same time. Then Cohen denied it again.
Cohen will be expected to talk to investigators about the Prague trip. If he wasn’t there himself, then who was? Was it Donald Trump Jr. who was there meeting with Kremlin figures to work out the collusion plan for Russia to help Donald Trump get elected?
This information may provide a missing link in proving there was an illegal conspiracy to elect Trump in 2016.
Tax Evasion, Money Laundering and Other Crimes
Financial officer Weisselberg would know about all kinds of potential crimes committed over the years by Trump, but so may Michael Cohen.
These crimes may include tax evasion, illegal money laundering schemes, fraud, and potentially other financial crimes.
Cohen was at the center of everything Trump did so if the president was committing financial crimes then it is likely that Cohen knew about it.
So we can expect the congressional investigators to press Cohen to reveal as much information as he has, and he is likely to comply. The tax, money laundering, and other financial crimes should be fair game on Feb. 7.
Michael Cohen‘s testimony on Feb. 7 will be public, so the information he provides concerning Donald Trump‘s crimes may be a political disaster for the president.
I am a lifelong Democrat with a passion for social justice and progressive issues. I have degrees in writing, economics and law from the University of Iowa.