The Update – Trump’s longest hour and beyond

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President Donald Trump accused his former lawyer Michael Cohen of lying under pressure of prosecution as his White House grappled with allegations that the president had orchestrated a campaign cover-up to buy the silence of two women who claimed he had affairs with them.

CNN carries a story analysing what’s next and tries to answer pertinent questions.

Which one is a bigger deal — Manafort or Cohen? They’re both big deals, but the Cohen plea deal — especially his testimony that he negotiated payments to women alleging affairs with Trump at the candidate’s direction — is the bigger deal.

Will Trump be indicted? Almost certainly not. That’s not necessarily because he hasn’t done anything wrong but rather because of long-standing Justice Department protocols — established during Watergate and affirmed during Bill Clinton’s impeachment — that a sitting president cannot be indicted.

Will Trump be impeached? Impeachment is a political process whereas indictment is a legal one. Even before what happened on Tuesday, impeachment was always more likely than indictment for Trump. The chances of Democrats pursuing articles of impeachment against Trump if they win back control of the House this November definitely increased on Tuesday but it’s very hard to say how much. It’s definitely below 50-50 at this point as even unapologetic Trump critics like Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D) were unwilling to use the “i word” following the Cohen and Manafort news.

 

Latest developments

 

AP: Investigators in New York state issued a subpoena to Michael Cohen as part of their probe into the Trump Foundation, an official with Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration confirmed to The Associated Press on Wednesday.

The subpoena was issued after Cohen’s attorney said his client has information of interest to both state and federal prosecutors. As Trump’s longtime lawyer and self-described “fixer,” Cohen could potentially be a significant source of information for state investigators looking into whether Trump or his charity broke state law or lied about their tax liability.

“We can confirm that a subpoena has been issued to Michael Cohen for relevant information in light of the public disclosures made yesterday,” said James Gazzale, a spokesman for the state’s tax department.

If evidence of alleged crimes is found, the matter could be referred to prosecutors, who could pursue criminal charges and seek the release of Trump’s tax returns. Anyone charged with a state crime in relation to the investigation

Politico: President Donald Trump’s summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Finland, was a “significant turning point” for his former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen in deciding to turn against the president, Cohen’s attorney said Wednesday.

Cohen pleaded guilty Tuesday in a Manhattan federal court to violating campaign finance laws on Trump’s behalf during the 2016 campaign season, including making hush money payments to two women who say they had affairs with the president. Cohen implicated the president in his guilty plea, telling the court that he made those payments “in coordination and at the direction of a candidate for federal office.”

AP: Facing a growing threat to his presidency, President Donald Trump lashed at his former personal lawyer Michael Cohen, a day after the onetime “fixer” implicated Trump in a campaign cover-up to buy the silence of women who said they had sexual relationships with him.

Trump on Wednesday accused Cohen of making up “stories in order to get a ‘deal’” from federal prosecutors. Cohen pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations that the lawyer said he carried out in coordination with Trump.

“If anyone is looking for a good lawyer, I would strongly suggest that you don’t retain the services of Michael Cohen!” Trump tweeted Wednesday.

The Hill / AP : House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Wednesday said impeaching President Trump is “not a priority,” despite Michael Cohen’s guilty plea to campaign finance violations that implicated the president.

“Impeachment has to spring from something else,” Pelosi, who has long downplayed the possibility of impeachment, told The Associated Press.

Returning back to CNN’s list of questions, we find the answer of whether this matters or not.

“In the most existential sense, no. In the long run, after all, we’re all dead. But on the less existential level, yes, it matters. What we are talking about here is a foreign government actively interfering in a presidential election for the purposes of helping one candidate and hurting another. What we are talking about is the former national security adviser admitting that he lied to the FBI and now cooperating as a witness. What we are talking about is the former campaign chairman for the President of the United States being found guilty on eight felony counts. What we are talking about here is the former fixer for the President of the United States pleading guilty to eight counts including two that directly implicate Trump in an attempted campaign finance coverup.

Now. Asserting that yes of course, this all matters, is different than saying it will change peoples’ minds or votes. It might not! Minds have been made up about Trump for a very long time. For his supporters, they will find ways to dismiss all of this — likely blaming the “deep state” they believe is dead set on keeping Trump from “winning.” For Trump opponents, the events of Tuesday will simply confirm what they already believe: That Donald Trump is not fit to be president.”

Read more about the earlier version of The Update on ‘darkest hour’ in the US Presidency under Trump

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