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Wicked Blue

(5,895 posts)
Mon May 13, 2024, 12:34 PM May 13

Michael Cohen implicates Trump in hush money case: 'Make sure it doesn't get released'

Source: NBC

Donald Trump's fixer-turned-foe, Michael Cohen, directly implicated the former president in a hush money scheme Monday, telling jurors that his celebrity client approved hefty payouts to stifle stories about sex that he feared could be harmful to his 2016 White House campaign.

“You handle it,” Cohen quoted Trump as telling him after learning that a doorman had come forward with a claim that Trump had fathered a child out-of-wedlock. The Trump Tower doorman was paid $30,000 to keep the story “off the market” even though the claim was ultimately deemed unfounded.

A similar episode occurred after Cohen alerted Trump that a Playboy model alleged that she and Trump had an extramarital affair. Again, the order was clear: “Make sure it doesn't get released,” Cohen said Trump told him. The woman was paid $150,000 to stay quiet.

Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer and personal fixer is by far the Manhattan district attorney’s most important witness in the case, and his much-awaited appearance on the stand signaled that the first criminal trial of a former American president is entering its final stretch. Prosecutors say they may wrap up their presentation of evidence by the end of the week.

Read more: https://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/national-international/trump-trial-michael-cohen-set-to-testify/5407203/

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(33,482 posts)
1. Michael Cohen has told his story, and even published a book
Mon May 13, 2024, 01:13 PM
May 13

I'm glad he's willing to testify, and I hope this is enough to convince the jury. But it's not against the law for Chump to have affairs, nor is it illegal for him to pay the person he slept with. It's skeevy as hell, but not illegal.

What the government objects to is Chump using everyday business accounting records to hide the skeevy payoffs and then take deductions off his tax bill for something that's not a business expense. Plus he used campaign funds that require strict reporting and no funny business. All of this happened just before the 2016 election that he came very close to losing because the "Grab 'em by the pussy" tape had just been released.

If Michael Cohen has a way to prove that Chump knew this was all illegal election maneuvering, then great. If he doesn't, then we have to hope that the jury can put this all together.


(111,832 posts)
2. You forgot the part where he went to jail for his part in the scherme
Mon May 13, 2024, 02:15 PM
May 13

to keep the voting booboisie from realizing exactly what TFG was.

Going to jail pissed him off. Fixers don't go to jail! TFG should have gotten him out of that jam!

That's wht he's willing to testify. He's a jailbird and has lost everything. He was a sleazy character who got sucked in by the wrong rich crook. Now he's pissed off at the crook.

I'd also suspect he's pissed off at himself for getting suckered.


(15,834 posts)
3. And the fact that he was convicted for participating in the same crime as tfg
Mon May 13, 2024, 02:30 PM
May 13

should help the jury to understand the tfg is also guilty.


(33,482 posts)
6. Well no ... I was making a different point
Mon May 13, 2024, 03:51 PM
May 13

I'm well aware that Cohen was convicted and went to jail.

My point was that this isn't a hush-money trial, despite the fact that the media keeps pushing that angle. If this was about hush money, Chump would have wiggled out of it long ago. It's about election interference AND wrongful expense reports that led to illegal tax deductions. Michael Cohen will hopefully bring the goods on that because we know Chump will never volunteer it.

4. Not campaign funds, Trump Org funds
Mon May 13, 2024, 03:06 PM
May 13

That is where the shady accounting came in. They listed it as "legal fees" rather than a reimbursement to Cohen.

A reimbursement wouldn't have counted as income for Cohen, so the payment would have been $135,000. By listing it as legal fees, it put Cohen on the hook for federal state and local taxes that added up to about 50%. So for Cohen to actually get fully reimbursed after taxes, they "grossed up" (the term they used) the payment by doubling it and they also added about 60k more so Cohen was actually getting paid for the work he put into the scheme.

There is a strong document trail to back up Cohen's testimony about the payment scheme to Daniels. There is an audio tape to back up his testimony about the McDougal payments. David Pecker and Cohen were both in the meeting with Trump where they hatched the scheme to use the National Enquirer to support Trump's campaign. Pecker and Nat Enq employees testified to that already and I'm sure the prosecutors will ask Cohen about that meeting and he and Pecker will corroborate each other.

The business fraud count is a misdemeanor unless it is done to help another criminal action or to cover one up, then it becomes a felony. Tying the business fraud to the election interference is the key. If the jury is convinced that the "legal fees" were actually a reimbursement, that should be enough.

If the reimbursement were accounted for as a reimbursement, there would have been no need to "gross up" the payment to make Cohen whole. If the "legal fees" were actually legal fees, Cohen would have declared them on his taxes and still made money for his work, so still no need to "gross up" the payment. They ONLY reason to "gross up" the payment comes when the non taxable "reimbursement" is listed as a taxable payment for "legal fees" in the books in order to cover up the true nature of the payment.

IANAL but I feel like the prosecution has made a very strong case tying these 2 crimes together to make it a felony scheme.


(7,509 posts)
7. Let's play out some other scenarios
Mon May 13, 2024, 04:22 PM
May 13

What would have happened if:

1) Instead of Cohen paying for Daniel's story, it had been paid by:
a) Trump org
b) Trump corp (? or one of his bazillion LLCs)
c) Trump personally
2) Instead of Pecker/AMI paying for McDougal's story, it had been paid by:
a) Trump org
b) Trump corp (? or one of his bazillion LLCs)
c) Trump personally

How would the situation change with regard to election finance laws?

8. We likely wouldn't be sitting at a criminal trial right now
Mon May 13, 2024, 04:59 PM
May 13

If Trump had paid out of his personal funds, there would be no business fraud. If Trump had paid out of Trump Org funds and accounted for it properly, there would be no business fraud. The business fraud is because he paid out of company funds and tried to hide it as legal fees instead of a reimbursement to Cohen. Putting false entries into the accounting ledger is a misdemeanor crime. Doing it to cover up the election interference scheme is what elevates it to a felony charge.

You'll have to ask a lawyer about the campaign finance violations. I know that they can be handled as a criminal matter, but are more often handled as a civil matter with fines being the most common penalty. The Feds haven't pursued criminal charges for the campaign finance violations, I have to assume that the FEC elected not to refer to DoJ for the violations. I wonder if the FEC or DoJ even knew about the other crimes at the time.


(7,509 posts)
9. It seems that the most egregious crime was skirting campaign finance laws
Mon May 13, 2024, 05:56 PM
May 13

I realize that isn't what's being prosecuted here, though.

It really all boiled down to these guys having always gotten away with playing fast and loose with laws/rules, that they didn't really even think ahead very far. That is, to me, the heart of the matter.

It's just fortunate that some smart legal minds figured out how to prosecute this at the state level, since the Feds were not interested.

10. Looking back at my previous post I wasn't clear enough
Mon May 13, 2024, 06:31 PM
May 13

It isn't the campaign finance aspect that is the other crime that makes the business fraud a felony. It isn't that Karen McDougal was paid 150k to keep quiet and that wasn't reported as a contribution in kind to his campaign. That is a violation of campaign finance laws, but it isn't an element of the criminal actions that he is on trial for here.

It is the election interference aspect. David Pecker used catch and kill on the McDougal story to be sure, but he was also running false and misleading headlines against Clinton and others in favor of Trump. All of that was being done in coordination with Trump's campaign to mislead voters about the candidates. Remember the rumors that she had cancer and other medical issues. That she had legal issues, etc. All while praising Trump's business prowess, intelligence, etc. That is illegal election interference in NY state. Pecker confessed to doing that in his testimony. He was given immunity from prosecution in exchange for that, so as long as he tells the truth, he is in the clear. Weiselberg was also given an immunity deal, but they have decided not to use him at this trial.


(7,509 posts)
12. Revisiting
Tue May 21, 2024, 02:38 PM
May 21

From yesterday's live-blogging of the trial:


Why are we talking about election law?

Lisa Rubin and Kyla Guilfoil

Some of you reading this might be wondering, “Why are we having this extensive conversation about an election law expert’s testimony?”

It’s because a felony falsification of business record charge requires not only that the prosecution prove Trump had an intent to defraud (through the false business records), but also had an intent to commit or conceal another crime, whether or not that crime is completed or even committed by him.

Prior to trial, Judge Merchan found that the District Attorney's office had alleged three underlying crimes that could be a part of their case at trial: violations of federal campaign finance law, state election law or state tax law.

At trial, however, the prosecution has made clear that their primary theory of the case is based on Trump’s intent to conceal his violation of New York Election Law 17-152, which prohibits conspiracies to promote the election of a particular person through “unlawful means” and where at least one act is taken toward that goal.

Here, the prosecution seems to be arguing that Trump, Pecker, Cohen et al. conspired to promote Trump’s election through the two unlawful campaign contributions that Cohen and AMI made. In other words, the unlawful means were campaign contributions in violation of federal law.


Judge nods at question of underlying crime

Ginger GibsonSenior Washington Editor

Lots of legal analysts and political pundits (who may or may not know much about the law) have opined about the prosecution's decision to charge Trump with a felony by relying on a part of the law that says documents were altered to cover up another crime.

Critics have said that the prosecution failed to show exactly what the underlying crime was. Prosecutors have alluded to two crimes that they could invoke, one being federal election law (that Cohen pleaded guilty to violating for the hush money payments) and the other being a New York state law.

Critics have said that New York prosecutors shouldn't be able to use federal law violations to prove another crime. And others have said that without even charging a New York state law violation, they have failed on that front.

But Merchan just made clear that it's not that cut and dry.

Merchan said that prosecutors aren't required to prove the underlying crime beyond a reasonable doubt — which could be a key distinction when he writes the jury instructions.

We'll have to wait for Merchan's jury instructions for the final clarity on this issue apparently.


(3,456 posts)
5. Michael Cohen is there to give testiminy, not to prove anything, the prosecutors are the ones who need to prove it, and
Mon May 13, 2024, 03:22 PM
May 13

from what I have read so far, they seem to have proved it. it will be up to the jurors to make the right decision hoping not one of them is a fanatic magat.

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