Will Paul Manafort turn around

Trump statements are dangerous

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Michael Cohen once said that to protect Donald Trump, he would even intercept a bullet. But nothing remains of this oath of loyalty: With a confession of guilt that is surprising in its unambiguity, Cohen, Trump's former lawyer, throws a bang. The confessed plunges the US president into his worst political crisis to date - especially since it is a double blow that Trump has to digest: While Cohen confessed his colors in New York, a jury in Virginia found Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort guilty on essential points.

However, Trump apparently can hardly be deterred. According to Fox News, he will consider pardoning his former campaign manager. Manafort has been found guilty of banking and tax fraud. The sentence is still pending. Legal experts estimate that it will amount to around ten years in prison.

Trump and Manafort "were friends"

So far, only excerpts are known from the Fox interview. According to Fox reporter Ainsley Earhardt, the US president mentioned the possible pardon in the conversation. "I think he feels bad about Manafort. They were friends," said the journalist on Wednesday evening. The entire interview should air on Thursday morning (US time). Trump called Manafort on Wednesday a "brave man" who, unlike his ex-lawyer Cohen, withstood the pressure of the judiciary. Cohen had pleaded guilty to several crimes in court and said he had been instructed to do so by Trump.

On the Cohen case, Trump's spokeswoman Sarah Sanders commented: Just because Cohen had made a deal with the prosecutor does not mean that it arose a suspicion against Trump.

Cohen admitted payments

Before a federal judge in Manhattan, Cohen admitted that he had paid two women six-figure sums each to buy their silence shortly before the 2016 election. One, Stephanie Clifford aka Stormy Daniels, an actress in porn films, was about to chat publicly about a sex affair with Trump - which Cohen prevented with $ 130,000.

The tabloid "National Enquirer" offered the "Playboy" model Karen McDougal to buy her story. She raked in $ 150,000 while the publisher, Trump friend David Pecker, made sure the story was never printed. Cohen later reimbursed the "fee" to Pecker.

When the matter of the hush money leaked months ago, Trump initially denied that he even knew about it - let alone that he had acted on his own initiative. He is now all the more troubled because his former legal advisor leaves no doubt who the idea came from: he acted "on the instructions of a candidate for a federal office," said Cohen in court after he had raised his hand in an oath . He did it to influence the election.

No doubts about identity

If there was any doubt about who he was referring to, his lawyer Lanny Davis cleared it up completely: his client had admitted to having committed a crime in order to influence an election. "If these payments were a crime for Michael Cohen, why are they not a crime for Donald Trump?"

The president, on the other hand, told Fox News that the money came from himself, not from his campaign budget: "This is not even a violation of campaign rules."

Which punishment Cohen expects will be decided in mid-December. The responsible public prosecutor's office applies for between 46 and 63 months in prison - a comparatively mild sentence that takes the admission of guilt into account. He made it clear some time ago that "Trumps Pitbull" kept his distance from his ex-client: He had decided to put his family and his country first, not loyalty to Trump.

Unknown factor Mueller

It is a dangerous slide for the president, because Cohen could now decide to cooperate with Robert Mueller, the FBI special investigator of the Russia affair. It is still open whether he will do it. If you follow his defense attorney Davis, however, he will most likely do it: His client is ready to disclose everything he knows about Trump: For example, whether Trump was in the picture beforehand when computer hackers attacked the Democratic party headquarters. From now on you will experience a Michael Cohen who, freed from all shackles, will tell the full truth.

In any case, Trump cannot simply turn the tables on the Cohen cause, Trump can only try to brand Cohen a liar. A defense strategy that he followed the morning after the shock with an aggressive tweet: The man made up stories to get a deal, the president wrote.

In any case, Cohen's possibly momentous confession of guilt almost turns into a footnote, which a jury decided at the same time in the case of Paul Manafort: At the end of a hearing that was essentially about tax evasion, Trump's former campaign strategist found it guilty on eight of 18 counts . Hired in the spring of 2016, the well-connected advisor had to ensure that the Republican electoral convention in the summer did not turn into a rebellion against Trump, whose march the conservative establishment wanted to prevent.

The trial was not about Trump's campaign. Nevertheless, it became clear what kind of characters the candidate Trump once gathered around him. With his work as a consultant for Viktor Yanukovych, the then pro-Russian President of Ukraine, Manafort had made enormous sums of money that he wanted to hide from US finances. Unlike Cohen, Trump tweeted full of praise, Manafort had not let the judiciary "break" him. At least so far. (Frank Herrmann, August 22, 2018)