Earlier this week, Lanny Davis — Michael Cohen’s attorney — released audio from a phone call that proved (despite Trump’s assertions) that Trump knew about the payment to Playboy Playmate Karen McDougal and, against Cohen’s advice, wanted to make the payoff in cash (only in 2018 can there be a dispute about whether a Presidential candidate actually knew about a payment to a mistress made by his own lawyer).
Cohen and Davis stepped up their game last night, however, by revealing that Michael Cohen knew that Trump knew about the Trump Tower meeting between a Russian official with close ties to the Kremlin and Don Jr., Paul Manafort, and Jared Kushner. Again, it’s absurd to even think that Trump would not. In what world does a guy who completely controls the flow of information around him, and who demands loyalty from everyone within his orbit not know about a meeting that his son, his son-in-law, and his campaign manager took with Russians in order to dig up dirt on Hillary? Common goddamn sense would dictate that Trump knew, and now Michael Cohen confirms what’s bloody obvious.
But this is a lie that Donald Trump is completely invested in, not only because he’s denied it to the press, but because folks like Don Jr., Kushner, and likely Hope Hicks have denied it under oath (meaning if Trump changes his story and admits he knew about the meeting, he puts those close to him in jeopardy of a perjury charge, a perjury charge that could then be used to extract more information out of those close to him).
So, Trump does what Trump does:
…..I did NOT know of the meeting with my son, Don jr. Sounds to me like someone is trying to make up stories in order to get himself out of an unrelated jam (Taxi cabs maybe?). He even retained Bill and Crooked Hillary’s lawyer. Gee, I wonder if they helped him make the choice!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 27, 2018
Note that Trump did not use Cohen’s name, which is telling, according to The Daily Beast.
In his three most recent tweets about his former lawyer, Trump has declined to write “Michael” or “Cohen,” as he has in other tweets about him this year. The slight is not by accident, according to multiple people who have known Trump for years. The president, they say, will often stop using people’s names if he’s convinced they’re turncoats, or if he suddenly finds them big enough “losers” not worth the attention.
It’s worth noting, too, that Donnie Deutsche — an MSNBC pundit and close friend of Cohen — confirmed this morning on Morning Joe that Cohen told him privately a while back that Trump knew about the Trump Tower meeting before it happened.
As one source close to both men also told The Daily Beast, they are now “dead” to each other. This feud is likely to turn ugly, but it’s not just any feud. It’s one with potentially huge implications in matters involving the Mueller probe, and Cohen believes apparently that the more dirt he can offer on Trump, the better deal he can get from Mueller and NY prosecutors.
George Will is something of a smug prick, but his assessment of Trump earlier this week checks out: Trump is a “seedy” man, a “low-life from Queens,” and what transpires over the coming weeks and months is likely to reflect that, so while everyone is making decisions about votes in November, Trump and Cohen will be duking it out through the media.
Add to all of this the fact that Michael Avenatti now says that three more women — who he will represent — claim they were paid hush money to keep quiet about affairs they had with Trump, and apparently one of them was pregnant.