If President Trump was rattled by the conviction of former campaign manager Paul Manafort and the guilty plea of former lawyer Michael Cohen, he didn't show it at a rally in West Virginia hours later. He told the crowd in Charleston on Tuesday night that he felt "badly" for both men, the Hill reports. He didn't comment further on Cohen, but called Manafort's conviction a "disgrace" and insisted it had "nothing to do with" Russian collusion. "Fake news and the Russian witch hunt. We've got a whole big combination," he said. "Where is the collusion?" In other coverage:
- Giuliani speaks out. Cohen admitted violating campaign finance laws with payoffs to two women, but Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani said the charges contained "no allegation of wrongdoing against the president," reports Reuters. “It is clear that, as the prosecutor noted, Mr. Cohen’s actions reflect a pattern of lies and dishonesty over a significant period of time," Giuliani said in a statement.
- "Why wouldn't they be a crime?" Cohen "stood up and testified under oath that Donald Trump directed him to commit a crime by making payments to two women for the principal purpose of influencing an election. If those payments were a crime for Michael Cohen, then why wouldn't they be a crime for Donald Trump?" tweeted Cohen's lawyer, Clinton-era White House special counsel Lanny Davis.
- Don't expect charges against Trump. Whether Trump is implicated in a crime are not, the Justice Department concluded in 1973 and 2000 that a sitting president cannot be indicted, the Washington Post reports. Impeachment is also highly unlikely with Republicans in control of Congress, though Democrats might now decide to promise impeachment hearings if they prevail in the midterms.
- "The only excuse they'll need." Republican insiders believe the Cohen plea is more damaging to the president than the Manafort conviction, and worry that Democrats will use it to launch impeachment proceedings if they regain control of Congress. "It’s the only excuse they’ll need," a Republican lawyer close to the White House tells Politico. "And believe me, they won’t need much of an excuse."
- "Directly touches the president." The Cohen plea is the "first thing that directly touches the president" after months of investigations, Harvard Professor Emeritus Alan Dershowitz tells the Boston Herald. He says the admission of campaign finance violations, believed to involve payments to porn star Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal, "escalates the risks" against Trump, though he's not sure whether Cohen will be a "particularly credible witness."
- "Individual 1." The AP takes a close look at what it calls the "complex, illegal operation to stifle sex stories and distribute hush money" described in court documents in the Cohen case Tuesday. Trump isn't mentioned by name, but he is unmistakably the person the documents call "Individual 1," who launched a bid for the presidency "on or about June 16, 2015."
- Cohen has more to tell. In more bad news for Trump, Cohen lawyer Davis told MSNBC Tuesday night that his client has information that will interest Robert Mueller and is "more than happy to tell the special counsel all that he knows." Cohen, Davis said, can tell Mueller what Trump knew about computer hacking, and about the "possibility of a conspiracy to collude and corrupt the American democracy system in the 2016 election."
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