Michael Cohen reportedly claims that President Donald Trump approved of the notorious meeting his family members and campaign held with a Russian lawyer in June 2016 as part of an effort to obtain political dirt on Hillary Clinton from the Russian government.
If true — and many have speculated that it is the most plausible scenario since the meeting was first revealed — it would implicate the president in a historic cover-up of Russian meddling in the election, and conservative Jennifer Rubin argued forcefully in a Washington Post column Friday that Republicans need to prepare themselves for this possibility.
Trump has repeatedly denied that he had any involvement in the meeting, but Rubin notes that "the president has denied many things that turned out to be true."
One relevant example: Trump denied having any input into a misleading statement put out by his son Donald Trump Jr. about the meeting that concealed its nefarious purpose; the White House later admitted that the president "dictated" the statement.
His intervention in the statement — and his subsequent lies about his participation in crafting it — make a lot more sense if he knew about the Trump Tower meeting at the time. It also shows that he has no qualms about deceiving the public on this matter.
"Several points are worth underscoring," Rubin writes. "First, the latest Cohen news reminds us that we know a fraction of the potential facts in the Russia case. Roger Stone, Manafort and Cohen — if persuaded to cooperate — could have substantial, relevant information, including knowledge of the Russian hacking."
She continues: "Second, if Trump’s direct approval of cooperation with Russians can be proved, it will be the biggest political scandal in American history. His presidency for all intents and purposes would be delegitimized. We are talking about a presidential candidate who sought and received help from a hostile foreign power, covered it up and 'repaid' the favor by public obsequiousness to that power’s leader. Again, this has yet to be proved."
She also argues that the consequences for the Republican Party, which has aided and abetted Trump's apparent cover-up, could be dire.
"Members of Congress who may have actively conspired with the White House themselves could have legal exposure," she writes, presumably referring to lawmakers like Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), who has used his chairmanship of the House Intelligence committee to run interference on the investigation for Trump.
But Trump's staffers, especially those like Sarah Sanders and John Bolton who have echoed Trump's cries of "witch hunt!" should also be wary.
To them, she cautions that "now might be a good time for staffers to exit and get far away from this unfolding legal disaster."
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