Patterico's Pontifications


Cohen’s Testimony Further Undermines Jason Leopold’s BuzzFeed Story

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:54 am

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.”

I also said: BuzzFeed Is Probably Not Entirely Wrong About Trump, You Know

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.]

80 Responses to “Cohen’s Testimony Further Undermines Jason Leopold’s BuzzFeed Story”

  1. It’s useful to consider if any readers are surprised by anything they heard about Mr. Trump in Cohen’s testimony, and if they are not surprised, why aren’t they.

    John B Boddie (66f464)

  2. I am not surprised.
    Why I am not surprised is that I have always seen MichaelCohen person as a person of very low quality.
    Doing Trump’s dirty deeds is something he would do.
    Doing them incompetently is something he would do.
    Ratting out Trump to shave a little time off his prison sentence is something he would do.
    Being a whiny little b!tch about it is something he would do.

    nk (dbc370)

  3. Hearsay is how we got this travismickasham, from a burnt spy.

    Narciso (bba38e)

  4. From the last thread, Manafort has contracted others to lobby the administration and other bodies

    Narciso (bba38e)

  5. 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?

    Only Mueller has already said that he doesn’t have that stuff

    Calfed (ab1180)

  6. As I say when I get paywalled from seeing one of Instapundit’s “Teach women teachers not to rape” suspects, you got pictures of the woman Zoolander tried to pimp out?

    urbanleftbehind (5eecdb)

  7. “it turns out that when accusations are leveled at people you love, ‘#BelieveWomen’ or ‘believe survivors’ becomes not just a slogan but a millstone around the neck of a son or spouse — a son or spouse who you may believe to the bottom of your heart is innocent of any wrongdoing. In that case, due process transforms in an instant from a tool of the patriarchy to your loved one’s last and only hope.”

    harkin (52fb4a)

  8. If Trump is willing to believe Kim about Otto Warmbier, then I’m willing to believe Cohen about Trump.

    Slugger (28ee75)

  9. Sean Spicier
    If someone had the goods on this President they’d be able to swing a plea deal that didn’t include prison time

    harkin (52fb4a)

  10. Pinning your hopes on a BuzzFeed story is a telltale sign of desperation.

    Munroe (1ab1c3)

  11. leopold has done some good work since that kerfluffle with the Enron memo, and the frogmarching, but only when evidence has materialized, with this you had hearsay, third hand hearsay from fusion,

    narciso (d1f714)

  12. FWIW Jeff Skilling just got released from the federal hokey, Leopold best be head on swivel.

    urbanleftbehind (666619)

  13. As far as I can tell, the upshot of Cohen’s tesitmony is

    (1) Trump is a scumbag and conman. But we already knew that, and neither are crimes.

    (2) There is no evidence Trump did anything criminal.

    (3) Cohen is trying to score political points to save his hide. Which will not help him with the sentencing judge, IMO.

    (4) Cohen may have perjured himself yet again. But as the old saying goes, in for a penny, in for a pound.

    At the end of the day, it seems we are back where we started.

    Bored Lawyer (998177)

  14. now buzzfeed has been known to excise certain material, to obscure the context,

    narciso (d1f714)

  15. @2. Still, it was quite entertaining; great TeeVee.

    And that’s really all it’s about today.


    DCSCA (797bc0)

  16. In real breaking news golem netanhayu has just been indicted by israel’s attorney general for bribery, fraud and public corruption despite his threats to start a war with iran if he is indicted. Bibi will have to return a lot of israel state water bottles for their deposits to pay his lawyers! bye bye bibi!

    lany (61e4a8)

  17. 15 – You left out:

    (5) Trump and the Republican White patriarchy are all racists, don’t forget to vote in 2020, as many times as possible.

    The Cohen hearings were basically a campaign ad.

    harkin (52fb4a)

  18. Was just listening to Pelosi, sure sounds like she was a semi-pro boxer.

    mg (8cbc69)

  19. OT: I offer this as “Most Risible LAT story for 2019”

    “In Kamala Harris, a sequel to Ronald Reagan?”

    Kevin M (21ca15)

  20. The only reason to believe words coming out of Cohen’s mouth is a desperate desire to believe them.

    Kevin M (21ca15)

  21. There are incidents from Trump’s past that suggest he is a conman. Trump University is one obvious example. Why should problems with the messenger make us disbelieve a consistent message?

    DRJ (15874d)

  22. OT for a chuckle: Snowflakes triggered by snowflakes:

    Homeowner’s Association Fines Resident After Car Leaves Penis-Shaped Outline in Snowy Lot

    I’m still not sure if this is legit.

    harkin (52fb4a)

  23. There are incidents from Trump’s past that suggest he is a conman.

    Another way to say that is “He’s a political natural.”

    Kevin M (21ca15)

  24. Why should problems with the messenger make us disbelieve a consistent message?

    Because his message includes accusations without evidence or corroboration (e.g. Trump behind Wikileaks) and falls in the direction guaranteed to please Mueller and Trump’s more rabid critics.

    Kevin M (21ca15)

  25. I don’t defend Trump’s character, and I think the man an odious boor. He rises in stature by the nature of his opponents and the degree to which they share his faults. That “we” have an assh0le fighting our fight, however embarrassingly, does not make our fight wrong and requires us to ask why someone “better” did not come along earlier.

    Kevin M (21ca15)

  26. Always trust content from Patterico… Cohen, OTOH, a convicted liar to Congress and disbarred attorney, maybe not as much, eh. 😉 Or, perhaps, selectively.

    @25. If you caught any or all of that 6-hour A&E Trump bio, and that medium is perfect for the ‘message’, the messaging is consistent. It has been so for decades. [That gift of valueless paste jewelry to the dying Roy Cohn was a gem, BTW; simply priceless ;-)]


    @28. Nah, he’s just an entertaining fake; and he’s managed to fake-out banks, babes, AC, NYC, NBC and the GOP. And the audience is endlessly fascinated. He’s the bad boy good people love to hate. You can’t help but watch; what a roadshow.

    “You can’t cheat an honest man. Never give a sucker an even break or smarten up a chump.” – Larsen E. Whipsnade [W.C. Fields] ‘Never Give A Sucker An Even Break” – 1939

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  27. @30 is he fighting your fight though? I understand liking the judicial nominees and picks — also the deregulation. But if he is found to be thoroughly corrupt will it have been worth it?

    JRH (14e837)


    while we chasing this squirrel, this happened,

    narciso (d1f714)

  29. Speaking of consistent messages, Trump is a narcissist, he’s self-centered, vindictive, and a man with many character flaws.

    I thought this was settled two years ago, at a minimum. This ends up amounting to deja vu all over again. Like Groundhog Day.

    Colonel Haiku (ac91f9)

  30. For those on the Right, there is no current Republican who would’ve accomplished even half of the good things Trump has to this point. Just as there was not one in 2016. And there hasn’t been in 30 years.

    Colonel Haiku (ac91f9)

  31. 22… ha!

    Colonel Haiku (ac91f9)

  32. Has Leopold resurfaced? Last I heard, he was chained to a radiator in some smelly apartment in the Bronx.

    Colonel Haiku (ac91f9)

  33. Anything Cohen says now and he can back up w/documentation- papers, recordings and such- is believable. The rest- opinions, anecdotes and so forth- even if they dovetail w/a preferred narrative- have to be suspect given his history. It took the tapes to finally secure John Dean’s word over that of The Big Dick and his gang. Turns out Dean had a pretty good memory. Cohen’s remains to be evaluated. But ask yourself, if he’d been given a top drawer gig in the WH at President Trump’s side, you think a ten-year-loyal-lacky; a ‘fixer’ who vowed he’d ‘take a bullet’ for Donnie J., would have flipped?


    DCSCA (797bc0)

  34. How come no one is talking about this part of Cohen’s testimony!

    During his riveting testimony on Capitol Hill today, former Trump attorney Michael Cohen claimed that then-candidate Donald Trump kept ordering him to execute something called “Order 66” during his presidential campaign.
    “I was never quite able to piece together what it was he wanted me to do,” Cohen said.

    Paul Montagu (eab766)

  35. 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.

    Taht whole story is probably untrue.

    That’s not the way Donald Trump operates. That’s the way Bill Clinton operated. he did that with Betty Currie. As Lanny David should know.

    The report cites testimony about the president’s conversations with a number of witnesses in the Starr investigation, including Lewinsky and White House secretary Betty Currie. Starr alleges these conversations amount to witness-tampering and obstruction of justice by hiding evidence and giving misleading accounts to lawyers for Paula Jones, who sued Clinton for sexual harassment and employment discrimination.

    Unlike Bill Clinton, Donald trump is not s lawyer and he doesn’t have astrategy for attempting to influence a witness’ testimony without telling them t commit perjury)

    What’s really bad about thsi claim is that it is being stated taht Trump said he had stopped negotiating with Russia in January, when he never said that, if I remember correctly. he only said he had no business with Russia, whichw as true. The only thing that ever came of all his negotiations to do business in Russia was the hositng of the 2013 Miss Universe Pageant in Moscow.

    Sammy Finkelman (102c75)

  36. Michael Cohen’s testimony is a mystery to Donald Trump. He said he doesn’t know why he didn’t tell bigger lies, implicating him in Russian collusion (in this regard , it’s worth noting the fact taht Michael Cohen specifically denied being in Prague, although of course he had to, since it is provably false).

    I think Michael Cohen simply didn’t want anything he said to become part of a federal case.

    Sammy Finkelman (102c75)

  37. Kill the jedi, everyone knows that, montagu.

    Narciso (1ceb38)

  38. Michael Cohen’s double standard:

    About himself:

    “I have done bad things, but I am not a bad man,”

    About Donald Trump: “He is capable of behaving kindly, but he is not kind. He is capable of committing acts of generosity, but he is not generous. ”

    Sammy Finkelman (102c75)


    Mr. Trump is an enigma. He is complicated, as am I. He has both good and bad, as do we all. But the bad far outweighs the good, and since taking office, he has become the worst version of himself.

    I don’t think he explained how he reached that conclusion.

    Sammy Finkelman (102c75)

  40. @42. Which falls someplace between ‘Sunset Boulevard’ and ‘Citizen Kane.’

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  41. Because his message includes accusations without evidence or corroboration

    Cohen claims he provided documentation to the Mueller prosecution and to the SDNY prosevutors, and he testified about others with evidence or who can corroborate his claims. Should prosecutors and/or Congress follow up or in your opinion is this messenger so tainted that we should disregard everything he said?

    DRJ (15874d)

  42. Or are you saying that because voters knew about Trump’s poor character and didn’t care, no one should care now — even if it involved criminal conduct? In other words, are you saying this is a political question that “trumps” criminal law culpability?

    DRJ (15874d)

  43. By the way, I gave you an example of corroboration that Trump is a conman as Cohen said. Trump University, which Trump settled for $25M. Why does that not count?

    DRJ (15874d)

  44. DRJ- I still see it as a matter of perspective.
    Trump is probably less corrupt than some freshman congresspersons who are trying to score points off the Cohen testimony. Plus Trumps corruption never sold out the American people like Hillary’s did. Obamas corruption sold out my healthcare.
    Trumps brand of corruption doesn’t bother me as much, because it is chump change in the corruption machine we call politics

    steveg (a9dcab)

  45. @40. Sammy, this is like watching George and Billy and Reggie going at each other w/o the jail time, only a threat of being benched, traded or fired. 😉

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  46. You dont say:

    Narciso (1ceb38)

  47. Katie Hill can grill me anytime. Yeah, I’m a guy.

    Paul Montagu (eab766)

  48. Just remember the motley bunch you’re throwing in with…

    NBC News
    Analysis: After traveling halfway around the world for a face-to-face meeting with Kim Jong Un, the president, who considers himself the world’s ultimate deal-maker, pushed away from the negotiating table with nothing more in hand than he had arrived with.

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  49. Kim Jong Un, on the other hand, got two tete-a-tetes with the President of the United States. Because why? Because he has nukes. Without nukes, a little tinpot from the sh!ttiest of Asian sh!tholes like him couldn’t get a meeting with the dogcatcher of Duluth. So why should he give them up?

    Trump was not wrong to walk away. He was wrong to meet with the Little Rocket Man in the first place. He gave him prestige on the world stage and got nothing back.

    nk (9651fb)

  50. All right you would go to war with north korsa. Or just take a chance that their next test would not succeed.

    Narciso (1f85b1)

  51. Keep that man away from the button!

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  52. Not that they will turn red or anything, but Hawaiians are happy no test missiles have been launched by the little creep.

    mg (8cbc69)

  53. @55. Yep. Donald doesn’t know the difference between a rocket and a missile.

    Kim does.

    “There’s nothing to worry about.” – Ship’s Doctor [Fritz Feld] ‘Promises….. Promises!’ 1963

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  54. This new Yorker story sounds like – it is even almost contained in the article itself – that it may be relying on some sources that aren’t always telling the truth.

    Sammy Finkelman (102c75)

  55. That’s not how any of this works:

    Narciso (a428c1)

  56. 60… you don’t say!

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  57. It’s the New Yorker, Sammy. It ain’t what it used to be.

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  58. Carlson has Ben Smith on. Good stuff.

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  59. “Tucker! TUCKERRRRRRR!!!” – Inspector Jacques Clouseau [Peter Sellers] ‘The Pink Panther’ 1963

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  60. Turn the skewer to flambee.

    Narciso (a428c1)

  61. No strawberries or captains or Caine Mutiny mentioned, so the meds appear to be working…

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  62. Fox News?!

    “Oh, yes, yes. The gay, carefree world of entertainment.” – Harry [Clark Gble] ‘Idiot’s Delight’ 1939

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  63. 69… a wise decision on Steele’s part, narciso.

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  64. ‘We gweeve…’

    Does Trump tweet w/Southern accent, too?

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  65. DCSCA, you lived in England. What would be the “peppermint creams” that Chief Inspector George Gently bought by the pound in paper bags, or in “virgin, freshly-purchased packets”? Would they be largish, soft/chewable, white, mint cream wafers? Not mint chocolates, surely, because he keeps the bag pf them in his coat pocket and sometimes balances them on his thumb.

    n (dbc370)

  66. Oy! I left out the “k” in 73.

    nk (dbc370)

  67. Thank you very much for your perspective. You seem to be well educated in these sorts of things. run 3 unblocked

    instagram video downloader (32b320)

  68. @73. If it ain’t Fry’s it was likely a bulk bin buy from lovcal sweet shops which we never touched. Didn’t trust bins full of sweets for open bag sales in Harrod’s confectionary department, either. And honestly, everything was pretty much Cadbury’s and everything sorta sucked. No bubble gum, either. [We even got our ‘streaky’ bacon imported from Denmark breakfast cereals from Canada; British bacon was like ham.] Every trip back and forth ‘cross the pond [or when family visited] my brother would fill an entire full size suitcase w/nothing but stateside candy. It was great. What we didn’t consume over the months, we sold. Back in those days, no customs issues, either. Even had family mail bulk orders of 40 or 50 gun-powder-filled model rocket engines from the states; no problems at all. Them days are long gone.

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  69. Thank you.

    nk (dbc370)

  70. 69. Steele backed out on advice of counsel.

    There may be problems with his saying anything. He may have lied to the FBI for one thing. (He’s avoiding traveling to the United States.)

    Testimony in England may conradict some of what he earlier told the FBI.

    Meanwhile the former spy Steele is facing a possible criminal investigation by the Department of Justice after two senior Republican senators, Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., sent a criminal referral to the department in January.

    In a cover letter to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and FBI Director Christopher Wray released by the committee, the senators say the referral relates to “certain communications between Christopher Steele and multiple U.S. news outlets regarding the so-called ‘Trump dossier.'” The rest of the referral is classified and was not released.

    That sounds like the issue might be that he caimed he mhad not talked to the press, at a point in the fall of 2016 when he had.

    If he came here, he a;llsomight be subpoeaned.

    Sammy Finkelman (102c75)

  71. i love slopex unblocked game and my highscore is 37

    slope game unblocked at school (72bc0e)

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