The Jury Talks Back

1/21/2019

BuzzFeed Is Probably Not Entirely Wrong About Trump, You Know

Filed under: Uncategorized — Patterico @ 2:43 pm

I have been at the forefront of warning people not to take anything Jason Leopold says at face value — especially when he is relying on anonymous law enforcement sources. However, my best guess is that there is something to what BuzzFeed is saying about Trump having been involved in discussing Michael Cohen’s false Congressional testimony with him in advance. One reason I think that? Rudy Giuliani is all but admitting it. Here’s the whole ten-minute trainwreck of a clip:

Much of this is Clintonian parsing of what the word “deal” means — it depends on what the meaning of “deal” is. But remarkably, Giuliani does not deny that Trump talked to Cohen about the testimony in advance. He says he doesn’t know one way or another. Then Giuliani hints that maybe he (Giuliani) is actually lying about that, and actually does know that Trump had the conversation, but can’t acknowledge it because it’s attorney-client privilege. Then Giuliana ultimately comes out with this gem: “And so what if he talked to him about it?” Giulianai’s position appears to be: sure, Trump talked to Cohen about his testimony, and believes that what Cohen was going to testify to was the truth.

Here’s the critical 90 seconds, if ten minutes is too much for you:

TAPPER: But you just acknowledged — but you just acknowledged that it’s possible that President Trump talked to Michael Cohen about his testimony.

GIULIANI: Which would be perfectly normal, which the president believed was true.

TAPPER: So it’s possible that that happened, that President Trump talked to Michael Cohen about his testimony?

GIULIANI: I don’t know if it happened or didn’t happen. And it might be attorney-client-privileged if it happened, where I can’t acknowledge it. But I have no knowledge that he spoke to him. But I’m telling you, I wasn’t there then.

TAPPER: So…

GIULIANI: It’s not significant, because the version he gave to the…

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: Well, Michael Cohen is — but he’s convicted of — I mean, one of the things he pled — pleaded guilty to, I believe, is lying to Congress about the Trump Tower deal.

GIULIANI: Well, which time? Which time, Jake?

TAPPER: Well, I’m talking — well, he…

GIULIANI: You can pick your time.

TAPPER: Right, but about the Trump Tower deal, about the Trump Tower deal.

GIULIANI: He under oath — under oath — but he’s pleading guilty to get a reduced sentence, which means he’s saying what the prosecutor wants him to say. If Corsi…

TAPPER: But you just acknowledged that President Trump might have talked to him about his testimony.

GIULIANI: And so what if he talked to him about it?

TAPPER: Well, is it not possible that Michael Cohen had that conversation…

GIULIANI: If it’s the truth.

TAPPER: I’m just asking you for what happened or what didn’t happen.

GIULIANI: It’s not possible. Not possible.

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: Michael Cohen left the conversation thinking, well, this is what the boss wants me to say; the boss wants me to say…

GIULIANI: Not possible.

(CROSSTALK)

GIULIANI: The guy driving this testimony was Michael Cohen. In other words, you and I are in a deal together. You are the guy running it. I’m the guy sitting that is back there doing 50 other things. When it comes time to remember what happens, I go to you and you tell me what happened. I don’t tell you what happened.

TAPPER: Well, let me ask you…

GIULIANI: So, Michael Cohen was telling people what happened.

I don’t know if the president was briefed by him or wasn’t. He certainly was briefed by his lawyers, all attorney-client privilege.

TAPPER: Right.

GIULIANI: But I can tell you this. Michael Cohen’s lawyers believed him at the time.

Full transcript here.

So ultimately, this probably isn’t going to come down to whether Trump and Cohen talked about his testimony. He almost certainly did. Trump is just going to say that he believed what Cohen said. And when documentary evidence comes out to show Trump was aware of facts inconsistent with Cohen’s testimony — and I’ll betcha Mueller has such evidence — Trump is going to say he didn’t remember any of that. And his superfans will believe him.

So BuzzFeed overstepped by saying they have proof that Trump told Cohen to lie. What’s much more likely is that Trump and Cohen agreed Cohen would testify to x; there’s evidence to show Trump knew the truth was not x, and Trump is going to shrug it off as a case of “who can remember every deal they have in the works with the Kremlin?” and his superfans will buy it.

So, although nobody ever knows anything for sure, that’s my best guess as to what happened and how this is all going to play out. We’ll know soon enough whether I’m right or wrong.


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