Last month, I warned people not to be too credulous when it came to Jason Leopold’s blockbuster story claiming that “President Donald Trump directed his longtime attorney Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about negotiations to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.” I noted that Leopold has a history of getting such stories spectacularly wrong, and said: “This, I’ll believe when I see it in Mueller’s report.”
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.
Always trust content from Patterico. From Michael Cohen’s prepared testimony yesterday:
Mr. Trump did not directly tell me to lie to Congress. That’s not how he operates.
In conversations we had during the campaign, at the same time I was actively negotiating in Russia for him, he would look me in the eye and tell me there’s no business in Russia and then go out and lie to the American people by saying the same thing. In his way, he was telling me to lie.
There were at least a half-dozen times between the Iowa Caucus in January 2016 and the end of June when he would ask me “How’s it going in Russia?” –referring to the Moscow Tower project.
You need to know that Mr. Trump’s personal lawyers reviewed and edited my statement to Congress about the timing of the Moscow Tower negotiations before I gave it.
Precisely what I thought.
Oddly, Cohen seemed to have nothing in the way of documents to back up his assertions, despite Leopold’s claims of having seen “internal company emails, text messages, and a cache of other documents.” Ah well. Maybe Mueller has that stuff?
This, I’ll believe when I see it in Mueller’s report.
[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]