Column: Michael Cohen’s tapes might be the kompromat we’ve been waiting for
No man’s a hero to his valet. President Donald J. Trump is no exception. He’s plainly lost whatever Caesar status he once had with his longtime valet — I mean lawyer — Michael Cohen.
According to media reports Friday, Cohen surreptitiously recorded a shady conversation with Trump two months before the 2016 presidential election. The two goons reportedly discussed how to suppress the 1st Amendment rights of Trump’s alleged former extramarital girlfriend Karen McDougal, a darling-looking skin-mag model. Their cunning plan? To trick McDougal into thinking she was signing a contract to write about the affair exclusively for the National Enquirer.
As for so many of us, journalism seemed like a chance for McDougal to make an honest, fully-clothed living. But, according to McDougal, Trump supporter David Pecker, who runs the company that publishes the Enquirer, killed her story. He wouldn’t let her take it elsewhere, she maintains, but he did promise her a bogus fitness-writing deal that never came to pass.
The writer’s life! Karen, I’m here for you.
Don’t confuse McDougal with Stormy Daniels, the porn actress who accepted money through Cohen’s office to put the lid on her alleged affair with Trump in 2006, around the time that Trump’s third wife, Melania, gave birth to their son, Barron. Daniels is blond. Sure, McDougal describes a similar affair with Trump that overlapped with Daniels’, as well as Melania’s postpartum adjustment to new motherhood and of course Barron’s early infancy. But McDougal is a brunette.
Cohen reportedly has lifelong ties to the Russian mafia, and he’s showing a KGB-level knack for betrayal.
Oh, one more clarification: McDougal is not the other skinmag model, Shera Bechard, who was also allegedly silenced through Cohen’s machinations. Bechard, whose hair is a whiter-blond than Daniels’, has said she had an abortion after getting pregnant by Elliott Broidy, onetime finance chair of the Republican National Committee —
Never mind. What’s this stupid bedroom farce have to do with the fate of the nation?
If no one but a prude like me is feeling scandalized by the president’s ritual humiliation of his wife and infliction of trauma on his young son, maybe all this prurient chatter should stop here.
Instead, you can approach the president’s perfidy through the indictments of Russian military intelligence commanders for undermining American democracy. But then you have to wade through a lot of Russian and hacker names.
(To be honest, I find the actual name of cyber-attack commander Nikolay Yuryevich Kozachek and his online nom de guerre, blablabla1234565, equally hard to remember.)
It’s more summery to go the farce route and focus on McDougal, Daniels, Bechard and the Republican bribers who loved them. Plus, Cohen forms a bridge between from Russia and with love.
Recall that Cohen’s one-stop valet shop, Essential Consultants, took money from AT&T, Korean Aerospace Industries and Swiss pharma company Novartis, as well as an offshoot business of Viktor Vekselberg, a Russian oligarch and Putin ally.
This looks a lot like Cohen was peddling influence. And the deal with Vekselberg’s business — well, that goes to the heart of the matter: Trump’s financial ties to Russia.
Cohen’s apparent willingness to pay hush money on Trump’s behalf — especially in re. sex capers — also gives credence to the 2016 Trump-Russia dossier by ex-spy Christopher Steele. The dossier warned that the president was vulnerable to sexual blackmail and, if elected, could be grievously manipulated by the Kremlin.
In the Steele dossier, the story goes that the Kremlin knew about Trump’s financial tomfoolery — and maybe knew or had recorded something to do with urine and one of those luxe Stearns & Foster mattresses the Ritz-Carlton chain is known for.
Or, as the journalist Julia Ioffe wrote this week, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s kompromat might be hiding in plain sight: He’s the one who knows, and can say, that Trump didn’t win the presidency fair and square.
On the home front, kompromat also seems near to hand. If Cohen recorded his boss prattling on about his sexual needs, his extramarital girlfriends and his efforts to silence them, Cohen probably has some other receipts, too.
According to Michael Avenatti, Daniels’ sharp-dressed lawyer, some 16 phones were found when the FBI raided Michael Cohen’s office in April.
Lordy: tapes. Or the digital equivalent.
There’s a useful app called iHere3, which pairs a small keychain device with an iPhone. It lets you wiretap anyone without anything fishy on your phone’s lock screen. If Cohen can manage that kind of spyware, kudos. Impressive — especially while keeping track of all the nude models and Russian oligarchs.
One way or another: bugging Trump. That’s some cold, cold valet work right there. Cohen reportedly has lifelong ties to the Russian mafia, and he’s showing a KGB-level knack for betrayal. I think I admire it.
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