The current season of Donald Trump’s White House has seen the return of Trump collaborator and showboat Rudy Giuliani, who in less than a week has managed to create even more legal jeopardy for the president.
It remains to be seen what the endgame is for the former mayor of New York, but one gets the sense that the controversy he is creating—in which he legally exposed Trump to campaign finance violations and more obstruction charges—may be an attempt to distract from something else.
On Friday, The Wall Street Journal reported that during the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen accessed some $774,000 in credit, and investigators are now looking at whether those funds were tied to his efforts to make Trump’s dirty laundry disappear. That figure goes well beyond the $130,000 Cohen obtained from a home–equity line of credit to pay for porn actress Stormy Daniels’ silence about her previous sexual relationship with Trump.
In acknowledging this week during his public relations shitshow that Trump had in fact repaid Cohen for the Stormy Daniels hush money, Giuliani alluded to the fact that Trump’s payments to Cohen had well exceeded $130,000. What does Giuliani know that we don’t?
“The whole thing reeks of criminality,” former Watergate prosecutor Nick Akerman told MSNBC’s Joy Reid on Saturday. Civil rights activist and attorney Maya Wiley called it the “Protect Donald Trump Slush Fund.”
According to the Journal:
In February 2016, as Mr. Trump’s fortunes as a presidential candidate rose, Mr. Cohen nearly doubled the amount he could use on a bank credit line tied to his Manhattan apartment, increasing his ability to borrow by $245,000, according to real-estate records.
Three months earlier, he gained potential access to another $529,000, through a new mortgage that he and his wife cosigned on a condominium owned by her parents at Trump World Tower, a Trump building in New York, separate real-estate records show.
Federal prosecutors and the FBI are now looking at whether Cohen committed bank fraud “by making false statements inflating the value of his assets to obtain loans or by misstating the intended purpose of the loans,” the newspaper added. That’s a substantial legal risk for someone to take on behalf of his boss if there is no there there, as Trump continues to claim.
In another report, The New York Times revealed that Trump did know about Cohen’s payment to Daniels when the president denied it aboard Air Force One last April.
According to the Times:
It was not immediately clear when Mr. Trump learned of the payment, which Mr. Cohen made in October 2016, at a time when news media outlets were poised to pay her for her story about an alleged affair with Mr. Trump in 2006. But three people close to the matter said that Mr. Trump knew that Mr. Cohen had succeeded in keeping the allegations from becoming public at the time the president denied it.
So what else, exactly, are the president, Giuliani, Cohen, and everyone involved in the president’s hush money scandal trying to hide? More affairs and payments to other women? Something to do with the $1.6 million in hush money Cohen paid to Playboy model Shera Bechard to keep quiet an affair with Republican donor Elliott Broidy, which included an abortion, as Daniels’ attorney Michael Avenatti previously has alluded to? Eventually, it’s all going to come out.