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As Trump’s Michael Cohen Shows, If The Law Wants To Get You It Can

There’s a point often made that the law these days is so complex, covering so many things, that it’s impossible not to break it on near each and every day. The problem with this is that it doesn’t create a well regulated society, it creates one in which political power runs rampant. If we’re all potentially indictable then who gets to decide who gets indicted has great power, doesn’t she?

Monday’s FBI raids on Michael Cohen’s office, home and hotel room are the clearest sign yet that the president’s longtime attorney is in serious legal jeopardy. They also represent yet another threatening development facing Donald Trump after more than a year of investigations into his campaign and presidency—perhaps the most direct danger yet.

No wonder he’s lashing out wildly—calling the raids “a disgraceful situation” and, absurdly, “an attack on our country.”

Well, yes, suppose so. But it does rather matter what the lawyer, Cohen, is being investigated over, doesn’t it? Something trivial but illegal or something major and to the point of the original investigations?

Two of the potential crimes being investigated — bank fraud and wire fraud — suggest prosecutors have some reason to think Cohen may have misled bankers about why he was using particular funds or may have improperly used banks in the transfer of funds.

Cohen has acknowledged facilitating a $130,000 payment in October 2016 to Daniels, who claims she had a sexual relationship with Trump in 2006.

Trump made his first comments about the payment last week, saying he did not know about the transaction.

Cohen has said he used a home-equity line of credit to finance the payment to Daniels and said that neither the Trump Organization nor the Trump campaign reimbursed him for the payment.

Banks don’t usually require much explanation from customers about how they use such credit lines. However, Cohen may have been asked to provide explanation for the large-dollar transfers he made when he moved the money to a shell company and then to a lawyer for Daniels.

The search requests for records related to the payment to Daniels cited investigators’ interest in possible violations of election law, according to one person familiar with the investigators’ work.

We’re at the level of wondering which bank account the President’s lawyer used to bribe the President’s – alleged but not seriously doubted – mistress into keeping shtum?

Seriously? We started here with outraged insistences that the Russians messed with the US election. And also that the Trump team coordinated with them in doing so. Seriously, now we’re down to how the money was wired to Stormy Daniels?

Well, yes, we are, now we’re down to how the money was wired to Stormy Daniels. Not that most of us have friends or employers who become President, nor need entirely legal hush money paid to anyone (assuming it wasn’t paid to swing the election, yes it was legal to pay up), but it is a useful example of how, if the legal system really wants to, it can get you. Simply because so many things are illegal that we’re all guilty of something or other.

At which point the only logical response from any of us is to make sure that our own law breaking is beneficial to ourselves, not just random scofflawry, and then keep our heads down, isn’t it? Which might not be quite the best way to have a Republic based upon the rule of law really.

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6 years ago

Doesn’t some level of attorney client privilege apply even when making payments. I know it’s been pointed out that it’s a loophole in foreign property investors buying property in Canada and going through a lawyer as it circumvents some of the declarations required for money laundering

6 years ago

Trump was caught in a lie (or a dilemma): You don’t want to say you authorized the payment of hush money, so you invent the line that your lawyer magnanimously made the payment. Sorry, if you are a candidate, that is a payment to influence an election. Yes, Tim, this is far afield from Collusion with the Russians. Schmuck Jeff Sessions was talked into believing he was duty-bound to recuse himself from the investigation of the Trump campaign. An important point is that the investigation has not just gone far afield but it is now in waters where Sessions did… Read more »

6 years ago

Next thing you know an inquiry could go from investigating a real estate deal to examining a dress.

6 years ago
Reply to  Whirly

The analogy is imperfect, as obstruction of justice was the unifying theme of Hillary’s three decades in government service, where Trump has only reckless bragging.

6 years ago

Maybe a step too far though, a lot of people are familiar with attorney privilege through tv and movies, while the end justifies the means to many on the left the majority may see it differently and feel they have overstepped the mark

Tim Newman
6 years ago

I think a lot of Americans are rather incensed over the difference between this and the FBI’s kid-gloves treatment of Hillary. It’s a political campaign, and everyone can see it.

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