Michael Cohen released tapes in which he and Donald Trump discussed buying rights to Playboy model Karen McDougal’s story over an alleged affair she had with Mr. Trump. The recorded conversation dates back to September 2016, 2 months before Donald Trump would be elected President. However, the alleged affair itself dates back to 2006. Karen McDougal apparently waited all those years and decided to come out with her story only when it would create the most buzz.
Trump’s attempt to pay off a former mistress do not amount to criminal wrongdoing as long as the $150,000 paid to Ms. McDougal did not come out Trump’s campaign funds. There is no evidence publicly available that suggests it did. Trump’s present lawyer Rudy Giuliani denies that the money was ever even paid.
Regardless, the most important question is why did Michael Cohen release the tapes? After vowing to take a bullet for Trump, what turned him into a foe?
The FBI raided Michael Cohen’s home, office, and a hotel room earlier this year and confiscated troves of documents and electronic data. Not only was this unprecedented in a special counsel inquiry involving the White House, it also garnered an opposite reaction from the media than it should have.
Instead of questioning under what circumstances would the FBI be justified in raiding the President’s lawyer’s office, media analysts deduced that because the FBI raided Cohen’s office, it must have had a good reason. So if Michael Cohen was such a criminal that he merited an FBI raid, why is CNN collaborating with him on Trump tapes?
Thus far, CNN has been perfectly willing to release classified information from unnamed sources inside the government. Unsurprisingly, not one of the leaks they reported on favored Trump. That shows either CNN is unwilling to release classified info if it helps Trump or the leakers inside the government have an anti-Trump agenda and therefore only leak info that damages him politically.
If CNN had just released the Cohen-Trump tapes after FBI had confiscated them from his office, Trump and Republican lawmakers would have questioned the FBI’s seriousness in handling evidence in such a crucial investigation and called for an inquiry into the leaking of the tapes. Therefore, the tapes had to come from Cohen himself. If they came from anywhere else, it would hurt FBI’s credibility in conducting a fair investigation against the Republican President and bolster his narrative that those conducting the Russia investigation are biased against him.
Michael Cohen made numerous television appearances during the 2016 election campaign. He praised Trump, defended him, and assured the public that he was the right man to lead the country. 2 years later, he is publicly releasing secretly recorded tapes that damage his former boss politically. The important aspect of it is that releasing these tapes might even be illegal so Cohen is taking a legal risk. Or he would be if he were not assured that no charges would be filed against him.
As Allan Dershowitz pointed out in a television appearance, it is not uncommon for prosecutors to threaten defendants with decades of prison sentences in order to get them to cooperate. Just like Bob Mueller overstepped his mandate by investigating affairs unrelated to the Russian meddling in 2016 elections, it is probable that prosecutors in New York uncovered some crime in the raided material unrelated to Cohen’s interactions with Trump and used that as leverage to get him to cooperate.
Instead of going to prison over an unrelated crime that he may have committed a decade ago like Manafort, Cohen judged it better just to flip. What else could Cohen gain after coming out against Trump? He sure as hell didn’t care about the country since he defended Trump against Russian allegations and owed millions of dollars in taxes.
Rather than releasing the recordings online, Michael Cohen decided to go to the CNN—the number one media outlet for FBI and Justice Department officials to leak anti-Trump info. All of this as the intelligence officials express reservations about Trump’s tone with Putin and Trump threatens to revoke their security clearances.
If you were Michael Cohen, what conversation would be worth recording and releasing—one in which Trump talks about buying rights to a story or one in which he told Michael Cohen to meet a Russian official in Prague?
If the FBI found any evidence incriminating Trump in material raided from Cohen’s office, Michael Cohen would be cooperating with prosecutors behind the scene without making public appearances on national television. The release of tapes do not help Cohen’s case in any way, they only hurt Trump and why Cohen would willingly do that is unclear.
After failing to produce any credible evidence that gives Mueller’s Russian investigation any legitimacy, the media is undermining Trump’s standing among the evangelicals ahead of midterms since historically, the approval rating of the sitting President has a direct impact on the reelection chances of his party.