Washington media exploded Friday night following the publication of sentencing memos filed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller and prosecutors with the SDNY which called for Cohen to serve a "substantial" prison sentence (NY prosecutors recommended a "slight downward variance" of 42 months), arguing that the attorney's decision to rat on his former boss with his back against the wall wasn't a noble act and didn't excuse his many criminal acts - from bank fraud to violations of campaign finance laws - that were committed with the assumption of impunity, and without the knowledge of the family Cohen has claimed to be trying to protect.
As a refresher, here are a few of the highlights from the memos:
Mueller said Cohen had "gone to significant lengths to assist the Special Counsel's investigation" and met with the special counsel's office on 7 occasions. Still, Mueller didn't ask for leniency and said any prison sentence imposed by the New York judge would be appropriate.
Cohen provided information about his contacts with "Russian interests," including his and others’ involvement in the Moscow Project and Russians’ outreach to the campaign.
"Synergy on a government level": One Russian national who contacted Cohen in late 2015 claimed to be a "trusted person" in the Russian Federation reached out and claimed they could offer the campaign "synergy on a government level."
"By virtue of his regular contact with Company executives during the campaign," Cohen provided the Special Counsel's office "useful information concerning certain discrete Russia-related matters core to its investigation."
The White House link: Cohen provided "relevant and useful information" about his contacts with "persons connected to the White House" from 2017 to 2018.
During his proffer sessions, Cohen admitted that he had previously lied about an invitation to arrange a meeting between Trump and Vladimir Putin in late 2015. Cohen claimed that, in fact, he had discussed the possibility with Trump.
Federal Prosecutors for the first time also said that Cohen committed campaign finance crimes "in coordination with and at the direction of [Donald Trump, aka Individual-1]"
While the Washington press corp was quick to assume that these revelations suggest that Mueller will try to frame Trump as working to orchestrate wide-ranging collusion with a foreign government (in the documents, Trump was referred to only as "Individual 1"), many, including the president himself, pointed out that these allegations amount to little more than hearsay and are totally dependent on the word of an admitted liar.
In a Saturday morning tweetstorm, Trump let his feelings about the memos and their contents be known, arguing that the summary of Cohen's testimony "totally clears" the president of wrongdoing...
Totally clears the President. Thank you!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 7, 2018
...Before pointing out that after two years and nearly $30 million spent on Mueller's probe, the special counsel had failed to uncover any concrete evidence of collusion (even CNN admitted that the sentencing memos don't suggest that there was "any crime committed" by the president).
AFTER TWO YEARS AND MILLIONS OF PAGES OF DOCUMENTS (and a cost of over $30,000,000), NO COLLUSION!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 8, 2018
As he's fond of doing, Trump quoted a defensive take offered by Fox News host Geraldo Rivera.
“This is collusion illusion, there is no smoking gun here. At this late date, after all that we have gone through, after millions have been spent, we have no Russian Collusion. There is nothing impeachable here.” @GeraldoRivera Time for the Witch Hunt to END!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 8, 2018
Bill Mitchell pointed out in a tweet that Cohen had said Trump had no knowledge of his contacts with Russians UNTIL the lawyer learned that saying the opposite would be the only way to avoid a lengthy prison term.
I'm confused on the Cohen testimony. He said Trump had no knowledge of him reaching out to the Russians, but then when he found out it would get him a more lenient sentence, he said he DID recall discussing this with Trump?— Bill Mitchell (@mitchellvii) December 8, 2018
Anyone else see the glaring problem with this?
Before the memos were released on Friday, Trump reminded the public that his legal team would publish a "major Counter Report" to Mueller's allegations to shine a light on the political bias at the DOJ that helped kick start the investigation.
We will be doing a major Counter Report to the Mueller Report. This should never again be allowed to happen to a future President of the United States!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 7, 2018
In a statement, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders argued that Cohen's claims contain "nothing of value that wasn't already known."
"The government’s filings in Mr. Cohen’s case tell us nothing of value that wasn’t already known," press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement. "Mr. Cohen has repeatedly lied and as the prosecution has pointed out to the court, Mr. Cohen is no hero."
To be sure, some conservatives continued to insist that the memos contained evidence of wrongdoing by Trump. One of the most prominent among these was Kellyanne Conway's less-famous husband George Conway, who has emerged as a prominent Trump critici since being denied a position within the president's DOJ.
Except for that little part where the US Attorney’s Office says that you directed and coordinated with Cohen to commit two felonies. Other than that, totally scot-free. https://t.co/YXmgY9KmXi— George Conway (@gtconway3d) December 8, 2018
Trump has taken a lot of flack from the media lately for pointing out the DOJ's conspicuous unwillingness to pursue charges against the Clintons. However, one Twitter user made one "casual observation" that could explain why Trump has been subjected to so much scrutiny, while the Clintons haven't.
Don’t take this as a defense of Trump, just a casual observation...he has no political insurance policy as an outsider...it begs the questions as to why Clinton’s and perhaps O were not investigated this thoroughly...Answer, they had leverage on their opponents— Robert L. Armstrong (@rlaattorney) December 8, 2018