Michael Cohen Has Email Showing Trump Obstructed Justice: Report
President Donald Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen has testified that President Trump directed him to lie to Congress about Trump’s business dealings with Russia during the campaign. The weakness of the accusation is that Cohen does not seem to have any evidence, other than his own testimony, that the conversation took place. But now CNN reports that Cohen has evidence of Trump obstructing justice by dangling a pardon. And this time he has proof.
AS reported by CNN, Robert Costello, an attorney working with Rudy Giuliani, emailed Cohen on April 21. The emails assured Cohen he could “sleep well tonight” because he had “friends in high places.”
This is a really, really big deal. The power to pardon convicted criminals for federal crimes is a legitimate use of presidential authority. Whether it’s legitimate for the president to use this power to pardon criminals who committed crimes on his behalf, or might have otherwise testified against him, is a subject of intense debate.
What’s not a subject of intense debate is whether a president can dangle a pardon. As Alex Whiting explained, the argument for why a president can pardon his own subordinates is that it’s a public act, and the voters can examine the facts and look at whether the president acted corruptly in issuing the pardon. “As long as it remained secret,” he notes, “it could be done without incurring any of the political downstream consequences that come with actually pardoning someone.”
But the emails would be powerful evidence of an undeniable act of obstruction of justice. To begin with, Costello might be asked to testify to Congress about it pretty soon.
According to The New York Times, federal prosecutors have requested copies of the emails. It also adds that, after the “friends in high places line,” Costello wrote, “Some very positive comments about you from the White House. Rudy noted how that followed my chat with him last night.” That doesn’t sound like counseling a depressed friend. It sounds a lot like floating a pardon in return for keeping your mouth shut.