Will Cohen Spill the Beans on Trump? Maybe!

Last night, Lanny Davis, the attorney for Michael Cohen who is the former attorney of Donald Trump and who struck a plea deal with federal investigators yesterday, appeared on Rachel Maddow's show, where he said the following about his client:
"I can tell you that Mr. Cohen has knowledge on certain subjects that should be of interest to the special counsel and is more than happy to tell special counsel all that he knows — not just about the obvious possibility of a conspiracy to collude and corrupt the American democracy system in the 2016 election, which the Trump Tower meeting was all about, but also, knowledge about the computer crime of hacking and whether or not Mr. Trump knew ahead of time about that crime and even cheered it on."

Davis added that Cohen is "now liberated to tell truth — everything about Donald Trump that he knows."
That has understandably caused a lot of excitement in the political press and among lots of people who hope that Special Counsel Bob Mueller's investigation will lead to the disempowering of Donald Trump and his regime of corrupt traitors.

Once again, I just want to urge caution regarding our expectations here, for a couple of reasons.

First, Cohen's plea agreement did not include any requirement of cooperation. That doesn't mean he won't cooperate, especially when his attorney is on television teasing the possibility that he will. But his cooperation has not been legally secured, and thus it is not guaranteed.

Which means that his attorney's tantalizing suggestion could be serving as a threat to Trump. If Trump has something on Cohen, Davis could be communicating with the president through his favorite medium that he'd better keep a lid on it — unless he wants Cohen to spill the beans.

Second, even if Cohen is suddenly on the up-and-up now that the feds have his future in a vice, and even if he does testify to every single piece of dirt he's got on Trump, and even if some of that dirt constitutes lawbreaking, it remains frustratingly likely that it won't matter.

Mueller cannot indict the president. (We also have no indication that he would want to do that, even if he could.) He is tasked with an investigation with a limited scope, and, as it regards the president, if at all, he will be (presumably, at some point) producing a confidential report for Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who then decides whether the report will be released to the public in full or with redactions or not at all. If that report includes a recommendation for impeachment, then the majority party in Congress takes that recommendation under advisement but is under no legal obligation to take any action.

As long as Republicans remain the majority party, and they are working hard (in collaboration with at least one foreign state) to ensure that they do, we are depressingly dependent on Congressional Republicans agreeing to do the right thing and hold their president accountable, based on anything Mueller recommends, based on anything Cohen says.

That's a lot of layers of implausibility to get through to reach Trump.

Again, it's hard to avoid accusations of being — and hard not to feel like — a "downer" for speaking the grim truth. I struggle with it all day every day. But my job is understanding and conveying the mechanics of what's happening and what is reasonable to expect based on those mechanics. I would be failing you if I encouraged you to false hopes.

Just hope that I am wrong.

And remember as always: News that the investigation is proceeding is good! So, be optimistic, but don't misunderstand that this news means that a particular outcome is any more likely than another because we want it to be so.

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