Michael Cohen’s Plea For Leniency Borders On Lunacy

Michelangelo,_Giudizio_Universale_24Below is my column in The Hill newspaper on the effort of former Trump fixer Michael Cohen to convince the federal court to show leniency in his sentencing.  While Cohen should get credit for cooperation, it must be balanced against two high countervailing considerations.  First, Cohen spent much of the last two years threatening people and obstructing efforts to disclose wrongdoing. Second, he is an officer of the court.  Judges generally do not look kindly upon lawyers violating their oaths and becoming vehicles for crimes and wrongdoing.

Here is the column:

Former Trump fixer Michael Cohen is in federal court today, trying to cut one last deal by convincing a judge that he does not deserve a day in jail for knowingly lying to Congress. The reason? Cohen insists that he has shown the “personal resolve, notwithstanding past errors, to repoint his internal compass true north toward a productive, ethical and thoroughly law abiding life.” The assumption is that special counsel Robert Mueller was standing just north of Cohen when he wrote that statement.

Cohen has never shown loyalty to anything or anyone but himself, according to the record compiled in the special counsel investigation. He betrayed the bar, his friends, and his clients whenever it suited his interests. He often planned ahead with moves like secretly taping his clients as a type of evidence nest egg for hard times. This is why I once described Cohen as meeting the classic Sam Houston definition of someone as having “all the characteristics of a dog except loyalty.”

For his own part, President Trump quickly tossed aside any sensible notion of decorum or detachment in demanding that his former friend and lawyer be sent to jail to rot: “You mean he can do all of the TERRIBLE, unrelated to Trump, things having to do with fraud, big loans, taxis, etc., and not serve a long prison term? He makes up stories to get a GREAT & ALREADY reduced deal for himself.” Trump then added: “He lied for this outcome and should, in my opinion, serve a full and complete sentence.”

Trump seemed oblivious to the fact that the same logic would demand that his former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, be sent away for life. Manafort makes Cohen look like a mere piker when it comes to fraud. Where Cohen was an opportunistic thief operating around New York, Manafort was running a one man global criminal enterprise. Yet, Trump has dangled a pardon in front of Manafort, who reportedly defied Mueller and his team in the investigation, as well as complimented Manafort on how he refused “make up stories in order to get a deal” as did Cohen.

However, this is another example of how Trump may be right for the wrong reason. I have been a longtime critic of Cohen and early in the administration recommended that Trump sever ties with him before he metastasized as an existential threat. The president ignored such advice and pulled Cohen even closer, even as his lack of legal skills and ethics snowballed in scandal. The only concern of Cohen is Cohen himself. When Trump promised access to wealth and power, he was his loyal hatchet man, promising to take a bullet for him. When the special counsel discovered his myriad criminal acts, Cohen became a Mueller man.

His “past errors” include victimizing more vulnerable people. He distinguished himself as a thug who threatened journalists, university students, and anyone else deemed a threat to Trump. When he appears for his sentencing, I recommend that the judge read some of his prior statements when his “internal compass” was pointed, as it always was, to his own interests. In 2015, when Harvard Lampoon staffers played a prank on Trump by having him sit in the stolen “president’s chair” from the Harvard Crimson for a photo and an endorsement, Cohen threatened the students with ruin. He is quoted as saying: “I’m gonna come up to Harvard. You’re all gonna get expelled. If this photo gets out, you’ll be outta that school faster than you know it. I can be up there tomorrow.”

Then there was his threat against former Daily Beast reporter Tim Mak, who simply wrote about a biography by former Newsweek reporter Harry Hurt. The biography, titled “Lost Tycoon,” includes allegations in a sworn deposition from Trump’s first wife, Ivana, that Trump raped her. In a phone call recorded by Mak, Cohen told the reporter: “You’re talking about Donald Trump, you’re talking about the frontrunner for the GOP, a presidential candidate, as well as private individual, who never raped anybody and, of course, understand that by the very definition you can’t rape your spouse,” the latter, of course, being legally incorrect. Cohen declared: “Mark my words for it, I will make sure that you and I meet one day over in the courthouse and I will take you for every penny you still don’t have, and I will come after your Daily Beast and everybody else.”

Likewise, that “internal compass” did not seem to twitch as he persuaded AT&T and other companies to give him millions of dollars for access to Trump before his inauguration. Then Cohen decided to offer up Trump to Mueller, he made hundreds of thousands of dollars on GoFundMe as an effective witness for hire for donors who want Trump out of office. This is why the filing for no jail time is a request for leniency that borders on lunacy. The judge in the District of Columbia court should, instead, point Cohen “true north” all the way to the federal lockup in Pennsylvania.

Jonathan Turley is the Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at George Washington University. You can follow him on Twitter @JonathanTurley.

198 thoughts on “Michael Cohen’s Plea For Leniency Borders On Lunacy”

  1. Cohen is indeed a crook, but Trump needs to acknowledge that he picked him so he is ultimately responsible for hiring crooks.

    Most of their communications aren’t covered under attorney-client privilege because they involve business negotiations or orders to commit crimes, as in the case of the Stormy Daniels payment.

    Attorney-client privilege is meant to protect legal strategy, not to cover up crimes or hide business advice.

    It is almost 100% the prosecutors have been able to verify Cohen’s testimony because less than 1% of Cohen’s documents fall under attorney-client privilege.

  2. [Deep in the bowels of the Bobby Kennedy Bldg-]

    Mueller: Cohen, you’re a filthy, no good, lying cheating shyster! Now what can you tell me to help me indict Trump.

    Cohen: Well, what do need me to say?

    1. This is not how an experienced investigator would operate.

      The questioning of Cohen by Mueller didn’t begin until after the FBI raid in April.

      The special master reviewing the documents seized in the raid ruled less than 1% of them are privileged.

      Thus, Mueller will be able to use these materials to corroborate Cohen’s testimony.

      This is how Mueller caught Cohen lying to Congress as well.

  3. “Cohen insists that he has shown the “personal resolve, notwithstanding past errors ….”

    To call crimes “errors” is to admit to no more than carelessness. He deserves no leniency.

  4.  “The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers”.
    -Diçķ The Butcher
    “Not good enough. First thing we do is kill The Rule of Law.” – Mueller the Diçķ

    1. Today is the day that we might very well find out whether or not Michael D. Cohen was the only Trump associate who is known to have kept compromising information about Trump.

      That’s right. There is a distinct possibility that Paul Manafort also kept compromising information about Trump. If he did, and if Mueller gives Trump a free sample of Manafort’s kompromat on Trump in today’s sentencing memo on Manafort, then Trump will not pardon Manafort any more than Trump will pardon Cohen or Flynn. Ha-Ha!

      1. From the Wall Street Journal:

        He [Mueller] has questioned witnesses about a boat trip that Mr. Manafort took with Tom Barrack, a longtime friend of Mr. Trump, after Mr. Manafort was ousted from the Trump campaign in August 2016, say people familiar with the matter. Witnesses believed investigators were seeking to determine whether Mr. Manafort ever met with Mr. Kilimnik on that trip.

        [end excerpt]

        So there’s another question the answer to which Mueller could reveal in today’s sentencing memo on Manafort. Ha-Ha!

      2. Also from the WSJ:

        In his conversations with Mr. Mueller’s team, Mr. Manafort also allegedly misrepresented information about payments he received related to his lobbying work, the people familiar with the matter said

        [end excerpt]

        Does Manafort have a secret stash of cash? How should I know? But it wouldn’t surprise me at all if Mueller knows. Ditto for revealing it today, if he does and if Mueller knows it.

      3. Two more things that could be revealed today are Trump’s advanced knowledge of The Trump Tower meeting on June 9th, 2016, and Trump’s offer of a pardon to Manafort in exchange for Manafort’s silence. Both of those possibilities might hinge on the first conjecture involving Manafort keeping kompromat on Trump. But there could be other ways for Mueller to prove Trump’s advance knowledge of The Trump Tower meeting and Trump’s pardon offer to Manafort besides Manafort keeping kompromat on Trump.

        1. ” Both of those POSSIBILTIES MIGHT HINGE ON the first CONJECTURE”.
          (Caps added for emphasis)
          So, “possibilties” “might” hinge on “conjecture”.
          Reading that kind of “analysis” is the comical silver lining that almost makes this dragged-out Special Counsel farce entertaining.

      4. “. If he did, and if Mueller”

        There she goes again with the “if’s” that later turn into her factual data.

    1. Plot summary from the article linked above:

      Two small-time criminals, Bill and Sam, kidnap Johnny, the 10-year-old red-haired son of an important citizen named Ebenezer Dorset, and hold him for ransom. But the moment they arrive to their hideout with the boy, the plan begins to unravel. Calling himself “Red Chief”, the boy proceeds to drive his captors to distraction with his unrelenting chatter, malicious pranks, and demands that they play wearying games with him. The criminals write a ransom letter to the boy’s father, lowering the ransom from two thousand dollars to fifteen hundred at Bill’s suggestion. The father, who knows his son well and realizes how intolerable he will be to his captors and how desirous they will soon be to rid themselves of the delinquent child, rejects their demand and offers to take the boy off their hands if they pay him. The men hand over the money and the howling boy – who had actually been happier being away from his stricter father and thus does not want to be “rescued” from his more-lenient captors – and flee after the father threatens to turn his son loose on them.

      [end excerpt]

      Cast Trump as Johnny “Red Chief” Dorset. Cast Mueller as the stern father, Ebenezer Dorset. The kidnappers, Bill and Sam, are Vladimir Putin and Oleg Deripaska. The kidnapping is actually an “adoption”–which is Russian argot for sanctions relief–and, therefore, more like an attempt at extortion. Mueller foils the attempted extortion by investigating “the adoptee,” Trump, for conspiracy to defraud the United States, thereby preventing Trump from granting sancstions relief to Vlad and Oleg.



    Ms. Morales said she will never forget the day Mr. Trump pulled up to the pro shop in his cart as she was washing its large, arched windows. Noticing that Ms. Morales, who is shy of five feet tall, could not reach the top, he said, “Excuse me,” grabbed her rag and wiped the upper portion of the glass.

    Mr. Trump then asked Ms. Morales her name and where she was from, she recalled. “I said, ‘I am from Guatemala.’ He said, ‘Guatemalans are hard-working people.’” The president then reached into his pocket and handed her a $50 bill.

    “I told myself, ‘God bless him.’ I thought, he’s a good person,” Ms. Morales recalled.
    Soon after Mr. Trump launched his campaign for the presidency, in June 2015, Ms. Morales recalled, one of the managers summoned her to tell her that she could no longer work inside Mr. Trump’s house.

    Around the same time, she said, several workers, who she said were also working illegally, had their work days shaved from five days to three days. “The workers panicked. A lot of people just left,” she said.

    Now that Mr. Trump was president, there was more than the usual excitement whenever he arrived. Ms. Morales was still asked to clean Mr. Trump’s residence on occasion, and had to wear a Secret Service pin whenever the president was on site, she said, most likely identifying her as an employee.

    As the months went on, she and other employees at the golf club became increasingly disturbed about Mr. Trump’s comments, which they felt demeaned immigrants from Mexico and Central America. The president’s tone seemed to embolden others to make negative comments, Ms. Morales said. The housekeeping supervisor frequently made remarks about the employees’ vulnerable legal status when critiquing their work, she said, sometimes calling them “stupid illegal immigrants” with less intelligence than a dog.

    Ms. Morales expects she will have to leave her job as soon as her name and work status are made public. She understands she could be deported. But she also says she is certain that her employers — perhaps even Mr. Trump — knew of her unlawful status all along.
    “I ask myself, is it possible that this señor thinks we have papers? He knows we don’t speak English,” Ms. Morales said. “Why wouldn’t he figure it out?”

    Edited from: “Making President Trump’s Bed: A Housekeeper Without Papers”

    Today’s NEW YORK TIMES

    1. The above story is interesting for a few reasons. First this Housekeeper used bogus papers to obtain her job at Trump’s golf resort. But it seems the resort was totally aware of her undocumented status. Nevertheless, Trump himself was pleased with this housekeeper’s work.

      Yet Trump’s main focus as president is preventing more people like this housekeeper from entering the country. It all illustrates the paradox of illegal immigration. Employers appreciate the work ethic of these migrants, yet Trump supporters are obsessed with stemming the influx.

      1. Peter Hill – you need to listen to the President carefully. He wants to stem the illegal flow, not the legal flow. He wants the hard working people, just legally.

        1. Paul, most of us have mixed feelings on this. I agree that stemming the flow is prudent. But then I know, from having met them, that many of these undocumented’s really ‘are’ hardworking people. One of my friends built a contracting business with an (undocumented) Guatemalan crew. And ironically my friend is quite conservative!

          1. Peter Hill – I have spent years teaching them. One of my favorite students is illegal. If there was some way to make him legal I would do everything in my power. However, he is going to have to either hope for DACA or return to Mexico and come across legally.

          2. Peter, all of us recognize the hardwork people from other countries are willing to do here. That is not the issue. The issue is legality. Let them apply and let America decide who to let in based on America’s need. With working illegal aliens there are non working illegal aliens that utilize our social services and cost America far more than they pay in taxes. Look at our schools, hospitals, food stamps and entitlement programs. Look at crime.

            The second thing one has to look at is your conservative friend might be hiring undocumenteds because they are less costly than American labor and that means American salaries are brought to a lower level than they would otherwise have been at. Additionally some Americans might not find jobs and that too costs America. In the end certain groups of Americans are hurt by your policies while at the same time you call people trying to protect American jobs racist.

          3. sure they are. there is no question a lot of illegals are good hard working people. certainly many if not most central americans have a well earned reputation as hard workers!

            nonetheless we are a nation and a nation has borders and laws regulating residency and citizenship or it is not a nation

            moreover, i have an opinion that I’m entitled to have and say as an American. And no problem admitting that i want to curtail migration, both illegal and legal, from third world hellholes, in which I would generally include Honduras and Guatemala, in spite of their work ethic, and that i favor migration from Europe and North Asia. Work habits are not the only preferable attributes of migrants: orderliness, law abiding cultural reputations, high education and IQ are favorable too.

            I have zero guilt over admitting that and get used to it because the endless shaming of the native born Americans who dare to have their own opinions, is having very little effect anymore on other people as well

      2. “yet Trump supporters are obsessed with stemming the influx”
        Wrong. Trump supporters are all for legal immigrants who contribute.
        They are the ones who built this country.
        Trump supporters are obsessed with stopping the 63% that come here and go directly on lifetime welfare that is one of the main sources of income for gangs that cost taxpayers billions to pay for the consequences they create and millions of people untold suffering by their crimes.
        Since this woman is such a self proclaimed hard worker, how hard is it to spend a few hours applying for citizenship?
        Less I’m sure than the years she has spent lying and committing successive crimes to cover up her First Act when she stepped onto American soil, which was to commit a crime. If you don’t understand the Trump supporters ire being forced into being financial patsys and recipients of the machinations of willfilly protected disrespectful, conniving users who come to this country to reap the benefits, use the resources, steal from American Citizens what is RIGHTFULLY theirs and then turn around spit in Americas face by giving the big EFF YOU to the United States, It’s Citizens and The Rule of Law, (which is BTW one of the critical underpinnings that holds this society and indeed civilization itself, together) then you are not capable of understanding the anger generated when someone subverts, undermines and demands the destruction of that basic Foundation that preserves that society and It’s future. That’s your loss volunteer patsy.

        1. it’s pretty hard to get permanent residency for unskilled workers, outside of just marrying an american. that’s the tried and true method. some may qualify for asylum depending on a lot of facts and issues. But just wanting work is not a sufficient basis.

      3. who cares. she fooled the boss with her fake papers. ok blame HR. a small thing for a guy who employes thousands or maybe tens of thousands of people.
        but she did a good job and got paid. that makes her good then, and Trump good not bad
        she’s now telling stories about her good old boss, for money to the hate-press, press bad!

  6. “ The reason? Cohen insists that he has shown the “personal resolve, notwithstanding past errors, to repoint his internal compass true north toward a productive, ethical and thoroughly law abiding life.” The assumption is that special counsel Robert Mueller was standing just north of Cohen when he wrote that statement.”

    I love this comment as it is so demonstrative of the cr-p we have seen in the Russia investigation.

        1. Excerpted from the article linked above:

          Mr. Cohen consulted with White House staff members and Mr. Trump’s “legal counsel” as he prepared for his false congressional testimony, though it did not identify the lawyer, according to the memo. The document did not say if Mr. Cohen was asked to lie, nor did it identify which counsel he spoke with.

          But the lawyers wrote that Mr. Cohen had consulted with Mr. Trump’s aides because he knew the president wanted to “dismiss and minimize the merit” of the special counsel’s inquiry, and that Mr. Trump and his aides “were seeking to portray contact with Russian representatives in any form by Client-1, the campaign or the Trump Organization as having effectively terminated before the Iowa caucuses of Feb. 1, 2016.”

          [end excerpt]

          Trump has given you a false narrative at every turn. The day will soon arrive when you can no longer deny the truth in favor of Trump’s lies. It is inevitable.

    1. Turely wrote, “The assumption is that special counsel Robert Mueller was standing just north of Cohen when he wrote that statement.”

      Allan said, “I love this comment as it is so demonstrative of the cr-p we have seen in the Russia investigation.”

      The criminal information in Cohen’s guilty plea included emails exchanged between Cohen and Felix Sater that prove the Cohen lied to Congress. That same criminal information showed that Cohen consulted with White House Counsels and Aides before his testimony to Congress and about his upcoming Congressional testimony. Cohen himself specically admitted to lying for the sake of protecting Trump from the special counsel’s investigation.

      What Allan claims to have seen is that at which Allan refuses to look. Allan, too, is stuck in denial.

      1. There is no doubt that Cohen is a serious liar and will say anything that seems to benefit his needs. That makes whatever he says very questionable. Who care’s if Cohen lied to Congress. We should care if he gets a light sentence for his misdeeds. His major misdeeds I believe involved Taxi Medallions and Tax fraud.

        Diane’s major point is that “Cohen himself specically admitted to lying for the sake of protecting Trump from the special counsel’s investigation.” Based on his history of trying to demonstrate he is more important than he really is and based on all his lies that statement is just as meaningless as my sending myself an email that Diane robbed a bank.

        When you talk of denial you should at least have a little bit of proof. Such statements are worth zero in the proof department.

  7. Does that mean he is going to be a real AG or just a protective wall for some and a Gestapo office for others?

      1. Not because they were insane but it was used by FDR to stash people he didn’t like.

  8. Cohen should plead “Not Guilty By Reason of Insanity”. He could convince a jury of that. Who but an insane human would represent the Trumpster?

    1. Someone with the national exposure of Prof Turley publicly urging the imposition of imprisonment is unseemly. While I share the sentiment, there is great difference between my public expression and this one. I expect unbiased opinions, pretty much, from him, and this fails the expectation. Foo.

      1. “I expect unbiased opinions, pretty much, from him. . .”

        What exactly is “biased” about presenting an opinion that Cohen should be sentenced to jail? Turley is a lawyer. Lawyers pursue justice, and he’s well-grounded here.

    2. Are you volunteering? But then who would believe you? Just asking? No reply expected.

  9. Washington Post Reports:


    Former attorney general William P. Barr is President Trump’s leading candidate to be nominated to lead the Justice Department — a choice that could be made in coming days as the agency presses forward with a probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election, according to multiple people familiar with the deliberations.

    Barr, 68, a well-respected Republican lawyer who served as attorney general from 1991 to 1993 under President George H.W. Bush, has emerged as a favorite candidate of a number of Trump administration officials, including senior lawyers in the White House Counsel’s Office, these people said. Two people familiar with the discussions said the president has told advisers in recent days that he plans to nominate Barr.

    One person familiar with the discussions cautioned that while Barr is the leading candidate, the decision is not final and the president could decide to pick someone else.

    Edited from: “William Barr Emerges As Leading Candidate For Trump’s Attorney General”


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