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Seth Abramson @SethAbramson
, 21 tweets, 4 min read Read on Twitter
What I'm saying is this new recording may well be evidence of Trump committing a crime. In the final stretch of a presidential campaign, he explicitly authorized what was almost certainly a payoff by check via a shell corporation that would constitute a violation of election law.
2/ Even if Trump didn't think Cohen was would use Essential Consultants, LLC, if Cohen confirms his practice was not to say "payoff for sex" when he wrote checks from his own accounts to help Trump kill embarrassing stories, there's nothing exculpatory about Trump's check remark.
3/ This sounds like a conspiracy to violate election laws to me. I think Haberman trying to minimize the story, despite it being her story, by saying this is the only tape out there (and crediting Giuliani's odd "exculpatory" claim) is slowing down people realizing what this is.
4/ I wonder if the source for this story was Team Trump, which had just learned the feds had this tape. The way The New York Times story is written sounds to me like Trump's people trying to get ahead of a *really* bad story and Haberman writing it up in a way that minimizes it.
5/ FYI, a reporter being willing to say something on Twitter they won't say in print in the NYT is like a criminal defense attorney making representations in negotiations they would never be willing to make in open court. It invites a good deal of suspicion and understandably so.
6/ And of course this was just one conversation between Cohen and Trump on a topic of importance, meaning it was probably bookended by *other*, related conversations Cohen will tell investigators about eventually. For instance, did Trump know the source of the funds? It matters.
7/ This NYT article is, legally speaking, little more than a stay of execution for Trump. However limited or not limited the tape is, and whether or not there are more tapes, there likely were other conversations on this same subject that Cohen will be able to relay to the feds.
8/ My suspicion that Haberman was wrong (and being irresponsible) is already being born out. Stormy Daniels' attorney Michael Avenatti is saying that there are more tapes. This just came out.
9/ These other tapes could establish that Trump knew Cohen had committed bank fraud in order to get the funds for the payment, or that he knew that the check written would not be properly designated, recorded, or reported. This story's going to blow up, folks. Nothing small here.
10/ We also know Hope Hicks lied pre-election about what Trump knew of the McDougal payoff, which means Trump was lying about possible (likely) criminal activity in the weeks pre-Election Day to help ensure his election. (And of course it wasn't the only such lie we'll learn of.)
11/ That McDougal was ultimately dealt with via a deal with AMI rather than a payment by check by Cohen isn't going to matter legally, as Trump's co-conspirator Cohen was being authorized to deal with the situation covertly, however Cohen ultimately chose to execute that agency.
12/ Cohen coordinated with AMI after his conversation with Trump, so Trump would be laughed at in and out of court if he claimed to be okay with Cohen covertly paying McDougal but shocked (shocked, I say!) by Cohen coordinating a deal with AMI. Conspiracy doesn't work that way.
13/ Another question is why the Special Master allowed prosecutors to have this seemingly privileged material. Did the court find that the crime-fraud exception de-privileged this? Or was Cohen found not to be acting as a lawyer here? Or did *Team Trump* leak this preventatively?
14/ This also drives a wedge between Trump and Cohen, making it more likely Cohen flips and talks about all the more important, unrecorded stuff he knows about: 2013 Trump Tower deal; 2015 Trump Tower deal; Artemenko "peace" deal; Cohen trip to Italy (possibly Prague); and more.
15/ Lest you think this is all just about sex, please remember what Clinton was impeached over. Lies about sex and, more broadly, lies about crimes are *exactly* what get presidents impeached. A top CNN legal analyst is calling this a "threat to the Trump presidency." And it is.
16/ The lies Trump told about sex during the campaign materially affected his chances of election, and his payoffs were intended to preserve those chances, which makes this an FEC issue. No one can say that these potential offenses aren't part and parcel of the Trump presidency.
17/ CNN's legal analyst Paul Callan asks if Giuliani's comments waived attorney-client privilege on this issue, i.e. if Giuliani, as Trump's attorney and speaking on his behalf, has precluded any Trump argument that his conversation with Cohen remains (if it ever was) privileged.
18/ What I and many others immediately surmised is now already confirmed: there *are* more tapes. Haberman was speaking out of turn, for reasons that remain unclear to me.
19/ I believe, on the evidence we already have, that it will be found that Trump *knew* Cohen made payments to women through a shell corporation or (at best) via his own person but in some way disguised. There's no evidence Trump would've wanted this properly reported to the FEC.
20/ And keep in mind that *that* is Giuliani's implication: that Trump *wanted* Cohen to pay off a woman via check so that the payment could be *properly reported* to the FEC as a political contribution. Not even the most radical Trump supporters believe Trump did that, or would.
21/ Giuliani is now reporting to CNN Trump's reaction to all this: "I can't believe Michael would do this to me."

Why the *hell* does Rudy Giuliani keep breaching attorney-client privilege?

Or allow Trump to *convince* him (Giuliani) to release these *inculpatory* exclamations?
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