Donald Trump suing Michael Cohen for $500 million

We now have Donald Trump suing Michael Cohen, based on Cohen’s cooperation with Alvin Bragg, who consequently indicted Trump, prompting Jim Jordan to launch a congressional investigation of Bragg on behalf of Trump, which triggered Bragg’s civil lawsuit against Jordan for interfering with Bragg’s prosecution of Trump.

Got that?

Trump’s lawsuit over Cohen’s cooperation with Bragg in Manhattan was filed in Miami. Bragg’s indictment of Trump was in New York City, requiring Trump to travel from Palm Beach to surrender in Manhattan. Jordan, of Ohio, subpoenaed Bragg’s former assistant prosecutor Mark Pomerantz in Manhattan, demanding that he provide information to Congress in Washington. Based on Jordan’s actions in Washington, Bragg sued him . . . in Manhattan.

Got that?

Trump is suing his former lawyer Cohen — for $500 million — for violating attorney-client privilege by illegally disclosing client confidences and portraying him in a deeply unflattering light. The star witness in Trump’s suit is Robert Costello, Cohen’s former lawyer, whose testimony will evidently disclose Cohen’s client confidences and portray him in a deeply unflattering light.

You want details? We got details!

Costello will testify that Cohen insisted up, down, and sideways that he had no incriminating information regarding Trump, which was consistent with Cohen’s public statements that Trump, for whom Cohen worked for over a decade, was pure as the driven snow. But time makes you bolder and children get older, so Cohen now says Trump is more akin to a capo di tutti frutti.

Cohen’s revised judgment is rooted in information he is disclosing in violation of the privilege of attorney-client confidentiality he owes to Trump . . . who says he can prove Cohen is lying based on information Costello is disclosing in violation of the privilege of attorney-client confidentiality he owes to Cohen. Among the things Trump accuses Cohen of lying about is a nondisclosure agreement that Cohen made with a porn star on behalf of Trump, which Trump says Cohen revealed in violation of a nondisclosure agreement that Trump made with Cohen.

More? Of course there’s more!

Cohen eventually came under investigation by federal prosecutors for being a serial fraudster. He pled guilty to bank fraud and tax evasion, urging the prosecutors to sign him to a cooperation agreement, not because he was hoping to avoid prison — perish the thought! — but because he had accepted responsibility for his crimes and turned over a new leaf, dedicating himself to a new life of honesty and probity. Touching story, really.

But the prosecutors could not use Cohen as a cooperator because they were trying to build a case against Trump, who had no involvement in the bank fraud and tax evasions to which Cohen agreed to plead guilty — because, doggone it, he realized he was guilty. Still hoping to bring the prosecutors around — because he was contrite, you see, not because he was desperate to avoid prison — Cohen told them he could implicate Trump in two hush money deals — with the aforementioned porn star, Stormy Daniels, and a Playboy model, Karen McDougal, both of whom claimed to have had flings with Trump a dozen years earlier.

You think I’m making this up, don’t you?

Cohen got Trump’s good friends at National Enquirer to pay $150,000 to McDougal for the exclusive rights to her story, an arrangement she was led to believe would involve articles she would write about health and fitness (because, as we all know, guys buy Karen McDougal magazine spreads to read the articles!). But instead, National Enquirer paid McDougal the $150K to bury the story, expecting to be paid back by Cohen, who expected to be paid back by Trump. National Enquirer had a draft agreement to be reimbursed by Cohen, but after doing business with Cohen decided not to take the reimbursement lest anyone thought it had, you know, done business with Cohen. Trump says he had nothing to do with this transaction . . . other than . . . well . . . the tape recording of him discussing it with Cohen.

The Playboy model case was just a warm-up for the porn-star case!

In that one, Cohen drafted a nondisclosure agreement identifying the adult-film actress — whose, er, stage name is Stormy Daniels — under the pseudonym Peggy Peterson . . . though “Peterson” signed the agreement as Stephanie Clifford, which is Stormy’s/Peggy’s real name. The agreement outlines a hush-money arrangement in which “Peterson” accepted $130,000 to stay mum about her tryst with one “Dennis Dennison,” whose real name is Donald Trump — though Trump never signed the agreement, as either Donald Trump or Dennis Dennison, and thus claims he had nothing to do with it. The document was signed with an indecipherable scribble by Cohen above the line-entry for “Essential Consultants, LLC,” a company Cohen formed for the purpose of the agreement, which he paid for with his own money —  or, at least, money he drew from a personal line of credit at his bank. The agreement is undated, but Peterson/Daniels/Clifford signed it and was paid on October 28, 2016 — a little over a week before Dennis Dennison, uh, I mean, Donald Trump — was elected president.

You want to hear about the reimbursement? Pull up a chair . . . and bring your calculator.

Cohen sought repayment from the Trump Organization for the $130K plus $50K he claimed to have laid out for campaign polling. At some level of the Trump organization, it was decided to reimburse Cohen for these debts by a stream of payments that would look like compensation for legal fees. Cohen will say that’s how Trump wanted it. Trump will say it was the result of legal advice from Cohen and accounting advice from his chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg — who is currently serving a five-month sentence at Rikers Island, after he and the Trump organization (but not Trump himself) were convicted of tax evasion.

Legal fees are taxable income, so Cohen could have been out a lot of money if he’d taken a tax bite from $180K in debt reimbursements. Ergo, the Trump financial wizards had him “gross up” the $180K to $360K, add a $60K bonus for a job well done, and then submit monthly invoices — $35K a pop, until the last of the $420K total was disbursed on December 5, 2017. Some of the checks were signed by Weisselberg and Don Trump Jr. as trustees on then-president Trump’s revocable trust account; the other checks were signed by Trump (not Dennison) on a personal bank account.

A couple of months later, on February 8, 2018, seemingly moments before turning over that new leaf, Cohen (through another lawyer — not Costello) wrote the Federal Election Commission to represent that he “had used his own personal funds to facilitate a payment of $130,000 to Ms. Stephanie Clifford,” and that “neither the Trump Organization nor the Trump campaign was a party to the transaction with Ms. Clifford, and neither reimbursed Mr. Cohen for the payment directly or indirectly.”

Hmmm . . .

Intrigued by all this intrigue, the federal prosecutors told Cohen that they might consider signing him to a cooperation agreement if he agreed to describe the hush money deals as in-kind campaign contributions, which he had just told the FEC they were not, and plead guilty to these “contributions” with the explanation that Trump had put him up to the whole thing, which he had just told the FEC Trump hadn’t. Cohen readily agreed, hoping this would earn him the cooperation agreement that would spare him imprisonment for the fraud and evasion charges to which he was pleading guilty because of his deep remorse over being, you know, guilty.

Alas, as a matter of law, the hush-money deals did not qualify as election-law crimes. So, after Cohen pled guilty to them, along with fraud and evasion charges that had him looking at up to 55 years’ imprisonment, the prosecutors decided they didn’t have a case against Trump, after all . . . which meant they didn’t need to give Cohen a cooperation agreement . . . even though, by then, Cohen had also pled guilty in the Mueller investigation to withholding information about Trump’s negotiations to build a Trump Tower in Moscow, and had also given dramatic, heartfelt testimony for congressional Democrats about all the lies that Trump made him tell — to say nothing about Trump’s allegedly incorrigible racism, which, after being thick-as-thieves with the Donald for over a decade, Cohen had had quite enough of, thank you very much.

It remains unclear who advised Cohen that the best way to sell yourself to prosecutors as a compelling potential witness is to plead guilty to perjury and fraud. Anyway, to thank him for making a clean breast of it, the prosecutors wrote the court a pre-sentencing brief that, rather than pleading for leniency, argued that Cohen wouldn’t know the truth if it banged him over the head with a two-by-four and should be sentenced to prison . . . whereupon the judge slammed him with three years in a federal penitentiary.

Tough break.

Suddenly finding himself in new surroundings, with interesting company and plenty of time on his hands, Cohen decided to write a memoir. New leaf notwithstanding, he related that, on second thought, he is not guilty of the bank fraud and tax evasion crimes to which he admitted guilt under oath — he only did that because the bad prosecutors threatened to charge his wife and the bad accountants lost track of millions of dollars of income he accidentally didn’t declare.

He is apparently guilty, though, of the election-law crimes that are not actually crimes . . . or at least Trump is guilty . . . or something.

Cohen’s cri de coeur made a deep impression on Alvin Bragg, the Manhattan district attorney and progressive Democrat who won office by vowing to use its prosecutorial powers against Trump. Thus, a year after taking a pass because, like the federal prosecutors, Bragg realized he had no case against Trump, the DA decided to indict Trump, after all. Bragg’s theory is that Trump defrauded voters into electing him in November 2016 through a series of deceptive bookkeeping entries that — inconveniently — did not start until four months after the election. The indictment is based on the one porn-star hush-money deal, which Bragg has somehow managed to dice into 34 counts — each a misdemeanor that he is struggling to inflate into a felony. The charges come six years after Trump paid Cohen, which is interesting because of the statute of limitations, which is just two years on the misdemeanors that Bragg would have trouble proving, and just five years on the felonies he can’t prove.

Speaking of the felonies: They’re apparently based on federal election-law crimes that Bragg has no jurisdiction to enforce and that the federal agencies that do have enforcement authority decided not to pursue. We have to say “apparently” because Bragg did not describe the crime in his Trump indictment, notwithstanding that the legal purpose of an indictment is to describe the crime.

So overtly political is Bragg’s indictment against Trump based on federal laws over which he has no jurisdiction that the district attorney is now under investigation by Trump’s House Republican allies, who have no jurisdiction over state prosecutors. Bragg has thus sued Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan in a federal court in New York that has no jurisdiction to tell the House of Representatives what it can and can’t investigate.

While Jordan proceeds with his investigation of Bragg, Bragg will simultaneously forge ahead with the lawsuit against Jordan and the prosecution of Trump — based on the testimony of Cohen, whom Trump is now suing because of his cooperation with Bragg . . . even as Trump cheers on Jordan, braces for more indictments by prosecutors in Georgia and Washington, and prepares for civil trials of a massive lawsuit accusing him of business fraud and a defamation lawsuit by a woman who claims he raped her. Oh, and runs for president.

Glad we got all that straight. See you in Iowa.

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