Could the Cohen Tapes Incriminate President Trump?
When the FBI raided the office of Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen, they retrieved a tape on which Trump discussed a payoff to Karen McDougal, a former Playboy model who allegedly had an affair with President Trump. The tape, which Cohen recorded without Trump’s knowledge, reveals Trump’s tactics for keeping details of his personal life out of the public eye – but do the tapes reveal something the public ought to know? More at CBS.
With accusations of treason flying around, some people dismissed the Cohen story as a distraction. Perhaps it is. But it’s also a reminder that Cohen’s legal troubles are ongoing, and that their potential ramifications for Trump are far from clear. As Paul Waldman pointed out in the Washington Post on Friday, “you never know when something that looks trivial today could turn out tomorrow to be anything but.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s kompromat [compromising material] might be hiding in plain sight: He’s the one who knows, and can say, that Trump didn’t win the presidency fair and square. On the home front, kompromat also seems near to hand. If Cohen recorded his boss prattling on about his sexual needs, his extramarital girlfriends and his efforts to silence them, Cohen probably has some other receipts, too.
…unless the recording shows that Trump authorized the payment with federal donations, there would appear to be no laws broken here. Indeed, Giuliani says that the president is recorded on the audiotape as telling Cohen to write a check to McDougal so as to ensure proper documentation for the payment. If that’s true and Giluliani’s contention that the payment to McDougal was never made is also true, then the president wouldn’t appear to have a major issue here. And we already know that at the margin, Trump’s base and most Americans care very little about whether presidents cheat on their spouses.