On Thursday, the media world was in hysterics over the news that Donald Trump's former "fixer" had worked out a new plea deal with Special Counsel Robert Mueller. After having already pled guilty to making illegal "hush money" payments on Trump's behalf, Michael Cohen pled guilty again on Thursday, this time to lying to Congress about the date of the demise of talks over a deal to create a Trump Tower in Moscow. He'd said the project was axed in January of 2016, but now he says it was finally buried in June and that he'd lied in order to protect "Individual 1," which we can safely presume to be the man for whom he'd once insisted he'd "take a bullet."
"According to court documents, Cohen admitted that he made the misstatements about the 'Moscow Project' – the Trump Organization’s efforts to 'pursue a branded property in Moscow' in an August 2017 letter to the House and Senate intelligence committees, which were conducting inquiries into alleged collusion and Russian interference," ABC reports. "In court, Cohen admitted that he made the false statements 'to be consistent with Individual 1’s political messaging and to be loyal to Individual 1,' Cohen told the judge. Individual 1 was believed to be Trump, based on the description in court documents."
While Trump's critics weren't bothering to conceal their hopes that this will be the thing that finally brings him down, the president sees it differently: Mueller's big deal with Cohen just proves even more that this whole thing is a "witch hunt."
"Did you ever see an investigation more in search of a crime?" Trump tweeted Thursday. "When will this illegal Joseph McCarthy style Witch Hunt, one that has shattered so many innocent lives, ever end-or will it just go on forever?" he added in a follow-up post. "After wasting more than $40,000,000 (is that possible?), it has proven only one thing-there was NO Collusion with Russia. So Ridiculous!"
Quoting Fox News anchor Gregg Jarrett, Trump tweeted later: "This demonstrates the Robert Mueller and his partisans have no evidence, not a whiff of collusion, between Trump and the Russians. Russian project legal. Trump Tower meeting (son Don), perfectly legal. He wasn’t involved with hacking."
He followed that quote with another, this time from Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz: "These are not crimes. He (Mueller) has no authority to be a roving Commissioner. I don’t see any evidence of crimes."
"This is an illegal Hoax that should be ended immediately," Trump added. "Mueller refuses to look at the real crimes on the other side. Where is the IG REPORT?"
Early Friday morning, Trump returned to the topic again, specifically highlighting the Moscow Trump Tower angle: "Oh, I get it! I am a very good developer, happily living my life, when I see our Country going in the wrong direction (to put it mildly). Against all odds, I decide to run for President & continue to run my business-very legal & very cool, talked about it on the campaign trail...Lightly looked at doing a building somewhere in Russia. Put up zero money, zero guarantees and didn’t do the project. Witch Hunt!"
Trump also addressed the Cohen plea deal briefly with the press on Thursday, slamming his former lawyer as a "weak person" who was telling Mueller what he wanted to hear in order to protect himself and defending his ability to continue to do business while on the campaign trail.
Trump's quote from Dershowitz comes from the famous lawyer's appearance on Fox News Thursday in which he made a similar argument to Trump, slamming Mueller for apparently attempting to base his case on "false statement prosecutions" rather than any hard evidence of collusion.
"I think the weakness of Mueller’s substantive findings are suggested by the fact that he has to resort to false statement prosecutions, which really shows that he didn’t start with very much, and that the very fact that he’s conducting an investigation has created these crimes," said Dershowitz. "These are not crimes that had been committed prior to his appointment, they’re crimes that were committed as the result of his appointment, and that raises some questions about the role of special prosecutors in creating crimes, or creating opportunities for crimes to be committed."
"In the end, I don’t think Mueller’s going to come up with very much, in terms of criminal conduct, that existed before he was appointed, and that’s pretty shocking," he added.
Below are Trump's tweets quoted above: