As Michael Cohen Testifies Questions Surround Donald Trump

There are more headlines today from the testimony of Michael Cohen than most people are going to have time to digest.  But at the end of the headlines remains all the questions which now are focused on Donald Trump. 

Make no mistake about what happened today.  What was aired today live on television from Cohen is without doubt the most damaging testimony concerning a president since John Dean gave evidence during the Watergate hearings.

When it was Rep. Paul A. Gosar’s (R-Ariz.) turn to question Michael Cohen at Wednesday’s hearing of the House Oversight Committee, he was ready to go off. Like many Republicans before him, he instantly went after Cohen’s lies — including those to Congress. “You’re a pathological liar,” Gosar said.

Cohen, by this time comfortable jousting with the panel’s Republicans, shot back sarcastically: “Are you referring to me or the president?”

The exchange was interesting in and of itself, but it also betrayed an uneasy reality of this hearing for Republicans: Many of the things they attacked Cohen on could carry collateral damage for the very man they were defending: President Trump

Cohen’s lies are a matter of public and judicial record. But if the standard is that someone who has lied repeatedly about weighty matters should never be trusted again, what about the president, who has uttered more than 8,000 falsehoods while in office? Not all of those falsehoods are lies, but even media outlets have grown comfortable labeling some of the most high-profile ones as lies. Many of Trump’s falsehoods, in fact, deal with the same topics Cohen was lying about, including hush-money payments to women and the pursuit of a Trump Tower Moscow. If we can’t trust Cohen for this reason, what about Trump?

This Legal Event Was Felt In The West Wing

And it will have a legal reaction.  

It needs to be noted that what we find out in court proceedings is what Special Counsel Robert Mueller and his team have been working on and developing for many weeks–in some cases months.   The level of criminal behavior that exists within the Trump world is breathtaking.   And those who flip and talk will allow for even more insight into the legal nightmare unfolding.

Michael Cohen’s one-time business partner, Evgeny “Gene” Freidman (a.k.a. the “Taxi King”), has reached a plea deal with prosecutors and will cooperate with the government (the news was first reported by The New York Times):

Evgeny “Gene” Freidman, an immigrant from the former Soviet Union long known as the “taxi king” of New York, pleaded guilty to criminal tax fraud in Albany County Court. He is a former business partner of Cohen who managed taxis owned by the president’s lawyer for several years.

State prosecutors said Tuesday that Freidman, who operated 800 taxis between 2012 and 2015, failed to remit a 50-cent-per-ride tax owed to the state. Instead, he filed false tax returns designed to hide the theft, they said. During that period of time, he was operating taxis controlled by Cohen, according to people familiar with their relationship.

Both the timing and the circumstances are key. Freidman faced allegations that he failed to pay $5 million in taxes, including four counts of tax fraud and one of grand larceny. As part of the deal, he will serve no jail time. That suggests that he has been able to provide information of some value when it comes to Cohen, who is widely seen as a target for prosecutors to, in turn, flip against Trump.

Stormy Daniels Makes SNL Laughs As Star-Studded Cast Go After Trump And Cohen

Trump, Cohen And The Shadowy Business Empire–Best Sunday Newspaper Read

Above the fold in today’s NYT is an article that will generate heat in the Trump Administration and more informed citizens across the land.

The son of a Holocaust survivor, Mr. Cohen grew up in the Five Towns area of Long Island, just east of the New York City borough of Queens. It was a comfortable life — both his father and an uncle were doctors, and he attended a local private school then called Woodmere Academy.

“My cousins are all either lawyers or doctors,” Mr. Cohen told The New York Times last year.

One of those relatives was his uncle Dr. Morton W. Levine. Uncle Morty, as he was known to his family, had no children of his own, and he and Mr. Cohen were close. He even let his nephew drive his Bentley.

Dr. Levine, a family practitioner, provided medical assistance to members of the Lucchese crime family, “which aided their illegal activities,” according to a sworn affidavit in 1993 from an F.B.I. special agent. The agent was involved in the investigation of the Lucchese underboss, Anthony (Gaspipe) Casso, who “regarded Levine as someone who would do anything for him,” according to the affidavit. That account was buttressed by testimony from a longtime Lucchese associate in an unrelated 2006 federal trial. In 1992, Dr. Levine bought Mr. Casso’s home while Mr. Casso was a fugitive. Dr. Levine has acknowledged in court documents that Mr. Casso was a patient. But he said he did not know that the house belonged to Mr. Casso and denied any wrongdoing.

Dr. Levine also owned El Caribe, a Brooklyn catering hall that for decades was the scene of mob weddings and Christmas parties. Two of New York’s most notorious Russian mobsters once maintained offices there.

Mr. Cohen was among the minority owners of El Caribe, Dr. Levine has said, although he added that Mr. Cohen gave up his ownership stake after the 2016 election.

Dr. Levine had crossed paths with Mr. Trump years before his nephew went to work for him. The doctor was part of an investment group with some garment executives that unsuccessfully challenged Mr. Trump’s 1989 bid for the Atlantis Casino in Atlantic City.