Making Sense of the Latest Michael Cohen/Stormy Daniels Bombshell
It is absolutely insane that an affair that Donald Trump had with a porn star in 2006 has now converged with Russian collusion that Donald Trump engaged both before and after his election, but here we are. The two biggest stories of the last year are connected, and in a way, it’s perfect, because the Russian collusion case is turning into a complicated Whitewater type scandal — a lot of shady business transactions, shell companies, etc. — but Stormy Daniels keeps the American public — and the press — interested. It’s basically Lewinsky/Whitewater all over again, except that this situation is so much more corrupt and egregious, and all the players involved are incredibly dumb.
And you know they’re on the right path when Trump starts asking that credentials be pulled again:
The Fake News is working overtime. Just reported that, despite the tremendous success we are having with the economy & all things else, 91% of the Network News about me is negative (Fake). Why do we work so hard in working with the media when it is corrupt? Take away credentials?— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 9, 2018
OK, so the short version is this: Michael Cohen set up an LLC in order to pay Stormy Daniels her hush money (and Heather McDougal, and the Playboy Playmate that either Elliot Broidy or, more likely, Donald Trump impregnated). But Cohen — who is a lousy lawyer — didn’t have sense enough to create a different LLC to funnel what I would term as “bribes” through a different LLC, so the bribe money and the Stormy Daniels money all got commingled, and the fund with which Cohen received bribes was also used to pay hush money to Trump’s mistresses.
One of the companies that gave money to Cohen — $500,000, to be exact — is linked to a powerful Russian oligarch with ties to Vladimir Putin. His name is Viktor Vekselberg, and he was at Trump’s inauguration and he has several ties to Trump surrogates, including Wilbur Ross. Vekselberg also attended that now infamous December 2015 dinner in Russia where Michael Flynn (and Jill Stein) was also among the guests, along with Putin.
Vekselberg has already been questioned twice by Mueller, so the special counsel clearly knows more than we do. Now, why would this Russian company pay Michael Cohen? The Occam’s Razor here is that they paid Cohen in order to get him to push the President to help lift sanctions against Russia that Obama put into place that affected the company (and Vekselberg, earlier this year, had sanctions applied to him as an individual).
That company, Columbus Nova, says that Vekselberg had nothing to do with the decision to hire Cohen, but that’s hard to believe. Vekselberg’s company, Renova Group, is the biggest client of Columbus Nova, and Vekselberg attended Trump’s inauguration on a $250,000 ticket purchased by Andrew Intrater, the Chief Executive at Columbus Nova, so this is not an instance where the company paying Cohen has tenuous ties to a Russian oligarch. Columbus Nova handles Vekselberg’s investments, and those investments are obviously affected by sanctions applied against Russian companies.
There were a few other companies that paid Cohen through the LLC, as well, the most notable among them being AT&T. Now, why would AT&T pay Michael Cohen? That one is fairly obvious: AT&T is trying to merge with Time Warner and Donald Trump basically is the ultimate decider on that. Another one was Novartis, a big drug company, and you’ve probably noticed that Trump hasn’t taken it to the pharmaceutical industry as he’d promised many times during the campaign.
It’s all graft. People are using Michael Cohen to get to the President, and the money that those companies are paying to Michael Cohen is likely being used to pay off Trump’s mistresses. You can’t get much more corrupt than that.
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