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Seth Abramson @SethAbramson
, 27 tweets, 6 min read Read on Twitter
(THREAD) So what happens now that Michael Cohen's attorney, Lanny Davis, has said on MSNBC that Cohen will tell Mueller (a) Trump colluded with the Russians, and (b) his collusion involved knowing about Russian hacking *in advance*? I'll break it down. Hope you'll read and share.
1/ First, here's video of what Michael Cohen's attorney, Lanny Davis, said on MSNBC last night, which was perhaps the most shocking thing anyone has said on TV in the last decade when you think about its implications for this presidency and for the nation: msnbc.com/rachel-maddow/…
2/ Second, here's an example of how it's being covered. One question that will be answered today is whether The New York Times and The Washington Post appreciate the import of what Davis said *enough* to report on this story as they *did not do* yesterday: nypost.com/2018/08/21/coh…
3/ Third, understand that while Davis (@LannyDavis) is unlikely to walk back what he said to MSNBC, you *should* expect him to *clam up* and realize that revealing what he revealed was a mistake. He wasn't serving his client well and what he did on MSNBC was deeply irresponsible.
4/ What Davis did was irresponsible (and I say this attorney to attorney, as I've tagged Lanny and he follows this feed) because as an attorney you *mustn't* do *anything* that could jeopardize your client beyond the jeopardy they already face. Davis' words were harmful to Cohen.
5/ Cohen needs his value to Mueller to be as high as it can be; revealing what he has in the media damages the value of his information by giving information to potential jurors, the media, and Mueller critics when what Mueller *wants* is to have information others do *not* have.
6/ When a prosecutor doesn't control the flow of valuable information that's incoming to him—or for all we know, has already come to him—by a witness' proffer, it can slam doors in the faces of his investigators that wouldn't have been slammed if the information was closely held.
7/ For instance, imagine that there's a witness willing to talk to Mueller if s/he believes Mueller does *not* know about Trump's collusion who suddenly will *refuse* to talk to Mueller (or his investigators) if s/he discovers that Mueller *has* been told about Trump's collusion.
8/ Mueller wants to control the information Cohen is going to give him—when it's released, who has it, how it's framed, how it shapes his probe. He doesn't want Cohen's lawyer making those decisions. I suspect that's why Davis had *clammed up* by the time he spoke to @ChrisCuomo.
9/ So don't expect Lanny Davis—who I think, as a Clinton ally, was a bit giddy about being able to stick it to Trump, and let his emotions overrule his professional instincts—to repeat his claim that Cohen can confirm Trump-Russia collusion. But the thing is—he *already said it*.
10/ What that means is that The Washington Post and The New York Times *have* to report what Davis said. They can say, "Well, he *intimated*..." but the fact is, if the Times and Post report what Davis said, *most* Americans will assume Cohen is confirming Trump-Russia collusion.
11/ And let's be clear: Davis *absolutely* confirmed that what Michael Cohen is now offering Mueller is that Trump *did* collude with Russia under *any definition of that word* you might choose to use. And Davis *can't* unring that bell; that information in the public square now.
12/ The question now is, "Did Cohen already talk to Mueller?" If he already spoke to Mueller—gave even a partial proffer of the information he has—I was right to think there was a sub rosa cooperation agreement lying invisibly behind the favorable plea terms that Cohen got today.
13/ If he *didn't* talk to Mueller already one could *argue* Davis was trying to "tease" the proffer to get Mueller interested—but in fact that's unnecessary, you'd just go to Mueller privately. (And the next step would be Cohen meeting with Mueller's team for *scores of hours*).
14/ And that really is what comes next now: Cohen negotiating his *Russia* knowledge into, he hopes, no prison time. The theory? If Mueller knows I'm already going to prison for about five years, he may run any sentence I get *concurrent* to that one or just let me go altogether.
15/ And that *is* one way to read what Cohen did today: he knew he was getting prison time either way, on the campaign finance stuff *or* on Russia, so he needed to begin the narrative Lanny Davis was pushing on TV tonight and begin it *now*: "I'm here to tell America the truth."
16/ Today's theater—a man pleading guilty with no cooperation deal and accepting prison time—is almost certainly, then, just the appetizer for what Cohen *really* has to offer the government, which is Trump-Russia collusion. This *isn't*—in the end—about Stormy Daniels, that is.
17/ So I would expect Davis to claim up; Cohen to basically disappear; Mueller to *not* leak; and the Mueller *investigation* to take the view of Cohen—who is not a witness anyone will build a case around—it *must*: he can help us get the proof we need, but he can't be our case.
18/ So what changed tonight is we know where the story's headed—that *doesn't* mean we're suddenly going to have more *evidence* than we had, besides knowing what Cohen is telling Mueller behind closed doors in broad strokes. But there's something more important than any of this.
19/ I think I know what "hacking" Davis is referring to—and he's only got it partially right. Cohen can confirm Trump heard from Papadopoulos in April 2016 that Russia had the "missing" Clinton emails. Meaning that he knew Russia was claiming to be hacking. But there's a problem.
20/ The problem is, Russia *never had those particular emails*—they gave *fake* Clinton emails to Trump adviser Joe Schmitz and to Trump campaign agent Peter W. Smith, who said he was working with Michael Flynn, Steve Bannon, Sam Clovis, and Kellyanne Conway. So it's complicated.
21/ What I think Davis is *really* saying is that Trump knew Russia was boasting of being behind cyber-intrusions in April—about 50 days before DCLeaks and Guccifer 2.0. And he responded to that knowledge by furiously working—through his NatSec team—to find those Clinton emails.
22/ Meanwhile, Trump was almost certainly using any backchannel he could to let Russia know he approved of them getting as much Clinton dirt as possible. But did he know about the *DNC* hacking in advance? Davis intimates that he might have, but realize that's *far* less likely.
23/ Simply put, there was *no reason* for *anyone* associated with the Kremlin to risk their IRA/GRU operations by letting a moron like Trump know what they were going to do in advance. They *did* benefit from dangling Clinton emails before Trump because they knew he'd go for it.
24/ That said, *because* Russia *did* make criminal attempts (particularly on July 28, 2016, just one day after "Russia, if you're listening...") to get Clinton's emails, Cohen *is* implicating Trump in Conspiracy to Commit Computer Crimes—as this feed has been saying for a year.
25/ So is there Trump-Russia collusion? I think that's absolutely clear, and Cohen *will* help Mueller *add* to what he's already been told by Flynn, Gates, and Papadopoulos on that score, which I continue to think (particularly as to the first two of those three men) is a *lot*.
CONCLUSION/ The end of this story was all but confirmed tonight—proof of Trump-Russia collusion in the public square and Trump's impeachment or resignation (though resignation would lead to indictment, so he'll avoid that). The question now? *How long it takes to get there*. /end
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