Did Rudy Just Tell Us that Michael Cohen Has Tapes of Trump Ordering Hush Payments?

Yesterday, Rudy Giuliani was on ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos being Trump’s TV lawyer - aka his job - in light of the devastating interview by Trump’s former lawyer and convicted felon Michael Cohen. Cohen credited his own criminal behavior to loyalty for Trump (aww poor baby), and accused Trump of directing the hush payments that he himself pleaded guilty for.

Giuliani was, to say the least, dumbfoundingly ineffective. For one thing, he did not even dispute that at least one purpose of paying off women who came forward with credible stories of Trump’s sexual peccadilloes was to keep those stories from affecting the election. Giuliani’s argument mere was that so long as it could be somehow shown that the payoffs also had a non-election purpose, it would not be a crime. That may not be quite true, and Donald Trump might still be further implicated in a corporate crime in addition to a campaign one.

For another, Giuliani admitted that the hush payments cases weren’t all done until November of 2016, contradicting previous claims that those were made before Trump was a candidate and thus they couldn’t be illegal campaign payments.

My point is, with lawyers like Giuliani, it’s no wonder Trump is getting in bigger and bigger trouble, now with six entities he sits atop - the Trump Organization, the Trump Administration, the Trump aampaign, the Trump transition team, the Trump Foundation and the Trump Inaugural Committee - are all under federal criminal investigation.

Not that it’s a surprise. Donald Trump is not exactly known for surrounding himself with the sharpest knives in the drawer. Of that, there is no better example than Giuliani himself. First, Giuliani traps himself in with his response to a question about the fact that it isn’t just Michael Cohen making the accusation that Trump personally directed illegal activity but that in their filings, the US Attorney for the Southern District agrees with Cohen.

STEPHANOPOULOS: The Southern District seems to be backing him up. I want to up on the screen a sentence from the sentencing memo. They write, with respect to both payments, Cohen acted in coordination with and at the direction of individual one. That’s in their own words. Of course individual one, the president.

GIULIANI: Yes, but there’d be no way they would know that other than taking Cohen’s word for it.

Of course, no prosecutor ever submits to a court findings based only on the say-so of a confessed criminal, and Giuliani knows that. But he sounds rather pleased with himself at the prospect of selling the “You can’t believe a liar” line, and he goes onto argue that the Southern District does not have any corroborating evidence. He is also rather amused with himself when he believes he has exculpated Trump from glaring evidence of being a mob boss. Loyal lieutenants of mob bosses don’t tape the boss, after all.

GIULIANI: This is a guy who stood up in court and said I’m fiercely -- I was fiercely loyal to Donald Trump, that’s why I did it, I was fiercely loyal to him. No he wasn't. He was taping him surreptitiously, lying to him. His client. That’s outrageous. Can you imagine how a jury’s going to react to that?

Well, one way a jury might react is by wanting to know what’s on those tapes. Despite the desperate claims of the Trump team, the only people know what’s on those tapes for certain are Michael Cohen and federal prosecutors. Might Cohen have taped Trump giving more explicit orders than what we’ve heard before? Might that be some of that corroborating evidence Giuliani is convinced doesn’t exist?

But why is Rudy so convinced? One reason might be that the Trump team believes they have a behind-the-scene view of the evidence gathered by the Special Counsel’s office, thanks to the double-agent villain Paul Manafort. Aside from the fact that prosecutors are not in the habit of spilling their guts to cooperating witnesses (it is their job to gather information from the witness, not to give information to them), this also partly explains the wisdom of passing certain cases off to US attorneys, especially the one with jurisdiction over Trump’s empire.

Even if Manafort was successful to any degree in spying on the Mueller investigation, he, his attorneys, and by extension Trump and his attorneys are none-the-wiser about what the Southern District knows. Remember that this part of the Trump-Cohen investigation - beginning with the FBI raids on Cohen’s office and home - were conducted under SDNY, not the Special Counsel.

To conclude, Rudy Giuliani knows nothing about the evidence the government has against his… client. Donald Trump probably knows he’s screwed, but he likely has no idea how badly.

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