SEVERE WX : Heat Advisory View Alerts

Cooper: Cohen basically called Trump a 'crook'

President Trump's former personal attorney Michael Cohen pleads guilty, and Paul Manafort was convicted on eight counts on the same day. CNN's Anderson Cooper breaks down what this means for the President.

Posted: Aug 24, 2018 3:14 AM
Updated: Aug 24, 2018 3:43 AM

In the wake of an absolutely stunning 60 minutes of revelations on Tuesday afternoon, you might have been tempted to wonder whether President Donald Trump was in real legal jeopardy.

After all, his one-time personal lawyer Michael Cohen testified as part of a plea agreement in New York City that then-candidate Trump had "directed" and "coordinated" his efforts to hide payments discussed in the run-up to the 2016 election to two women -- porn star Stormy Daniels and ex-Playboy model Karen McDougal -- in an effort to keep their allegations of extramarital affairs with Trump out of the press. (In Daniels' case, a $130,000 payment was made, which Trump then reimbursed Cohen for, according to his lawyer.)

That is a violation of campaign finance laws, one of the eight charges that Cohen pleaded guilty to on Tuesday. And so, if Cohen admitted he broke the law and testified that he did it at the direction of the President then, well, isn't Trump in deep trouble?

Probably not. And the reason is that special counsel Robert Mueller's office has apparently signaled to the President's legal team that they will abide by longstanding Justice Department regulations that stipulate that a sitting President can't be indicted. "All they get to do is write a report," Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani told CNN's Dana Bash in May. "They can't indict. At least they acknowledged that to us after some battling, they acknowledged that to us."

On Tuesday night, a source close to the White House told Fox News' John Roberts, "Remember, the President cannot be indicted."

To be clear: There is a debate in the legal community about the prohibition on indicting a sitting president, but it seems unlikely Mueller would push for an indictment as a direct result of his investigation.

The more likely threat to Trump -- and this is as true following the Cohen plea deal and Paul Manafort's conviction as it was a week ago -- is the possibility that the House takes up articles of impeachment against him.

Take a step back: This case has always moved on two related but not identical tracks. There is the legal end of things, which has led to a series of criminal charges out of the Mueller team and its most high-profile conviction in the form of Trump's former campaign chairman, Manafort, on Tuesday. Then there is the political track, which has to date taken a back seat to the legal jockeying but is the far more dangerous path for Trump.

At some point in the (relatively?) near future, Mueller and his team will release the findings of their probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election, whether any collusion between the Russians and the Trump campaign existed and whether Trump obstructed justice by getting in the way of the investigation.

Is it possible that Mueller will, contra Giuliani, push for Trump to be indicted? I mean, anything is possible. But what's much more likely is that Mueller -- in deference to established Justice Department protocols --will simply let the report speak for itself.

Assuming Mueller does that, the political track will be the only way in which Trump could be punished in any meaningful way. To date, national Democrats have been reluctant to talk too much about possible impeachment proceedings against Trump -- leaving that sort of talk to a small number of ultra-liberal members of the party.

It remains to be seen whether Tuesday's events change the minds of people like House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. But at least one somewhat unlikely source believes that the Manafort conviction on eight counts of financial crimes and the Cohen plea agreement have put impeachment very much on the ballot in November.

"Today clarifies that November is a referendum on impeachment -- an up or down vote," Steve Bannon, Trump's one-time senior strategist told Bloomberg's Jennifer Jacobs on Tuesday night. "Every Trump supporter needs to get with the program."

That's a startling statement by Bannon, although he may not be wrong about it. If Democrats win back control of the House in the coming midterm election -- and they are favored to do so -- it's hard to imagine calls for impeachment from their party's base wouldn't grow louder after the events of Tuesday.

The wild card, of course, is what Mueller's report ultimately finds. If it fully exonerates Trump, a move toward impeachment would likely be cast as a pure political ploy by Democrats. If it doesn't clear Trump, however, then Democrats will likely seriously consider the idea of impeachment. The question at that point is whether any Republicans would join them.

Tuesday changed a lot of things in political Washington.

One thing it didn't change is that the real threat to Donald Trump's presidency in all of this isn't indictment. It's impeachment.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 38569

Reported Deaths: 1511
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin12456787
Ramsey4911228
Dakota238291
Stearns237119
Anoka2241109
Nobles16696
Olmsted112915
Washington111440
Mower9522
Rice8447
Scott7344
Clay58738
Kandiyohi5731
Blue Earth4792
Wright4755
Todd4012
Carver3811
Sherburne3175
Lyon3162
Freeborn2920
Watonwan2340
Steele2311
Benton2173
St. Louis18015
Martin1695
Nicollet16912
Cottonwood1360
Goodhue1318
Winona12515
Crow Wing10612
Pine1050
Le Sueur1031
Chisago1001
Otter Tail951
McLeod920
Carlton870
Dodge870
Polk822
Chippewa791
Unassigned7837
Isanti730
Waseca680
Douglas650
Itasca6412
Murray640
Meeker611
Morrison591
Becker560
Faribault560
Jackson550
Sibley542
Pipestone522
Pennington510
Renville352
Mille Lacs342
Wabasha330
Brown312
Rock310
Beltrami300
Fillmore300
Yellow Medicine300
Houston260
Swift221
Wilkin213
Norman200
Redwood180
Cass162
Roseau160
Aitkin150
Big Stone150
Koochiching151
Wadena150
Kanabec141
Grant120
Marshall120
Lincoln100
Pope100
Mahnomen91
Clearwater80
Hubbard70
Lake60
Traverse60
Lac qui Parle40
Stevens40
Red Lake30
Kittson20
Cook10
Lake of the Woods00

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 31670

Reported Deaths: 722
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk6638179
Woodbury325244
Black Hawk230158
Buena Vista171411
Johnson13148
Linn129482
Dallas128029
Marshall104919
Scott81510
Story7793
Pottawattamie73612
Wapello70830
Dubuque70222
Crawford6772
Muscatine64344
Sioux4770
Tama46529
Wright3861
Louisa36213
Jasper32517
Plymouth3225
Warren2901
Dickinson2663
Washington2439
Webster2292
Hamilton1891
Cerro Gordo1821
Boone1481
Clay1340
Clarke1322
Allamakee1314
Mahaska11617
Shelby1140
Clinton1121
Poweshiek1068
Carroll991
Pocahontas971
Bremer946
Des Moines922
Franklin900
Emmet880
Henry863
Cedar841
Taylor790
Hardin770
Monona770
Cherokee751
Floyd732
Marion700
Benton691
Guthrie664
Jefferson640
Sac640
Osceola620
Jones610
Butler572
Buchanan551
Humboldt551
Hancock540
Harrison540
Lee542
Calhoun532
Iowa530
Delaware511
Fayette510
Monroe516
Madison482
Clayton443
Lyon440
Davis411
Palo Alto410
Mitchell390
Winneshiek390
Grundy380
Mills370
Kossuth350
Howard340
Jackson320
Lucas314
Greene300
Chickasaw290
Union290
Winnebago290
Ida240
Cass230
Van Buren220
Appanoose213
Keokuk211
Page210
Worth200
Unassigned170
Adair160
Audubon161
Ringgold160
Decatur120
Montgomery102
Wayne100
Adams80
Fremont70
Rochester
Clear
70° wxIcon
Hi: 91° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 70°
Mason City
Clear
70° wxIcon
Hi: 92° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 70°
Albert Lea
Clear
75° wxIcon
Hi: 92° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 75°
Austin
Clear
72° wxIcon
Hi: 92° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 72°
Charles City
Clear
72° wxIcon
Hi: 92° Lo: 72°
Feels Like: 72°
Some relief in sight, after more storms
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Community Events