Cohen-cidence or Collusion?

Meredith Lou ‘20

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On November 29, President Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen, who once claimed that he would “take a bullet” for his client, pleaded guilty in a Manhattan courtroom to lying to Congress following an arranged plea deal. His motive for lying? To align with the Trump campaign rhetoric and to display his pure loyalty to the president. After this guilty plea and his other pleas to tax fraud and campaign finance violations, Mr. Cohen has been sentenced to three years in prison.

Mr. Cohen admitted to lying to Congress about a 2016 real estate deal for a Trump Tower in Moscow. Although he told Congress that discussions on the Moscow project ended in January 2016, they actually continued planning for about six more months into June of that year. By providing false information to Congress, Cohen hoped that he could downplay any links between Trump and Russia before the Iowa caucus and the first primary.

Preceding these revelations, Mr. Cohen already pleaded guilty to tax crimes and illegal campaign contributions in August, which revealed that he helped President Trump to organize hush payments in an attempt to suppress potential stories of sex scandals involving the president. In addition to new information given by this trial in November, these recent updates on the ever-increasing list of Trump’s covert dealings give the American public yet another reason to distrust the words of the current administration.

News from Mr. Cohen’s trial in November reveals the possibility that President Trump participated in business dealings with Russia, all during an election that Russian operatives have influenced in favor of him. This directly contradicts public statements issued by President Trump himself; One of his tweets from January 2017 read, “I HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH RUSSIA – NO DEALS, NO LOANS, NO NOTHING!” Many have begun to begin to question the legitimacy of his many claims.

These revelations from the Cohen trial also appear to put special counsel Robert Mueller one step closer to the end of his Russia investigation. Mr. Cohen has promised to cooperate with the prosecution in exchange for a lighter sentence. Cohen could play a crucial role in helping Mueller in his probing, because of his close relations with the President and his affairs. The important information Cohen provides in collaboration with other information obtained by Mueller might be enough to land the President in political and legal trouble.

Despite these implications, some believe that the President will yet again come out of this debacle unfazed. Rohan Jinturkar ‘19 is doubtful the information could cause anything profound because “so much has already been uncovered without any repercussions for Trump, so why should this greatly impact the Trump administration?” On the other hand, many believe these findings will be the final straw to unveil the truth. Arohi Dandawate ‘20 thinks that “the arrest of Cohen, in addition to the realignment of loyalties among Trump’s appointments, reflects Trump’s character and the legitimacy of his ability, and Congress will see that.”

Whether you believe that the President will finally land in hot water for his actions or he will walk away unaffected, one thing is clear from the sentencing of Michael Cohen: Donald Trump is on thin ice.