Digby's Hullabaloo
2801 Ocean Park Blvd.
Box 157
Santa Monica, Ca 90405

Facebook: Digby Parton

@BloggersRUs (Tom Sullivan)

thedigbyblog at gmail
satniteflix at gmail
publius.gaius at gmail
tpostsully at gmail
Spockosbrain at gmail
Richardein at me.com


Mother Jones
Raw Story
Huffington Post
Crooks and Liars
American Prospect
New Republic

Denofcinema.com: Saturday Night at the Movies by Dennis Hartley review archive

January 2003 February 2003 March 2003 April 2003 May 2003 June 2003 July 2003 August 2003 September 2003 October 2003 November 2003 December 2003 January 2004 February 2004 March 2004 April 2004 May 2004 June 2004 July 2004 August 2004 September 2004 October 2004 November 2004 December 2004 January 2005 February 2005 March 2005 April 2005 May 2005 June 2005 July 2005 August 2005 September 2005 October 2005 November 2005 December 2005 January 2006 February 2006 March 2006 April 2006 May 2006 June 2006 July 2006 August 2006 September 2006 October 2006 November 2006 December 2006 January 2007 February 2007 March 2007 April 2007 May 2007 June 2007 July 2007 August 2007 September 2007 October 2007 November 2007 December 2007 January 2008 February 2008 March 2008 April 2008 May 2008 June 2008 July 2008 August 2008 September 2008 October 2008 November 2008 December 2008 January 2009 February 2009 March 2009 April 2009 May 2009 June 2009 July 2009 August 2009 September 2009 October 2009 November 2009 December 2009 January 2010 February 2010 March 2010 April 2010 May 2010 June 2010 July 2010 August 2010 September 2010 October 2010 November 2010 December 2010 January 2011 February 2011 March 2011 April 2011 May 2011 June 2011 July 2011 August 2011 September 2011 October 2011 November 2011 December 2011 January 2012 February 2012 March 2012 April 2012 May 2012 June 2012 July 2012 August 2012 September 2012 October 2012 November 2012 December 2012 January 2013 February 2013 March 2013 April 2013 May 2013 June 2013 July 2013 August 2013 September 2013 October 2013 November 2013 December 2013 January 2014 February 2014 March 2014 April 2014 May 2014 June 2014 July 2014 August 2014 September 2014 October 2014 November 2014 December 2014 January 2015 February 2015 March 2015 April 2015 May 2015 June 2015 July 2015 August 2015 September 2015 October 2015 November 2015 December 2015 January 2016 February 2016 March 2016 April 2016 May 2016 June 2016 July 2016 August 2016 September 2016 October 2016 November 2016 December 2016 January 2017 February 2017 March 2017 April 2017 May 2017 June 2017 July 2017 August 2017 September 2017 October 2017 November 2017 December 2017 January 2018 February 2018 March 2018 April 2018 May 2018 June 2018 July 2018 August 2018 September 2018 October 2018 November 2018 December 2018 January 2019


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?


Thursday, April 19, 2018

Michael Cohen and his goombahs

by digby

I wrote about Cohen's mob ties for Salon today:

Donald Trump's personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, once told Vanity Fair: "I’m the guy who stops the leaks. I’m the guy who protects the president and the family. I’m the guy who would take a bullet for the president."

During a Wednesday appearance on MSNBC, former White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci confirmed that Cohen is as loyal as the day is long, telling Katy Tur there was no chance Cohen would turn state's evidence against the president because he "is a very loyal person." Scaramucci didn't even pretend to believe that Cohen would have nothing to offer prosecutors. It seems to be a given that he knows where bodies are buried but is willing to go to jail rather than betray Trump. That arguably says more about the latter than the former.

I wrote recently that I think this passionate belief in Cohen's loyalty may be wishful thinking on Trump's part. Apparently I'm not the only one. According to a Wednesday article in The Wall Street Journal, Trump's former attorney Jay Goldberg has issued exactly the same warning:
One of President Donald Trump’s longtime legal advisers said he warned the president in a phone call Friday that Michael Cohen, Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer and close friend, would turn against the president and cooperate with federal prosecutors if faced with criminal charges. 
Mr. Trump made the call seeking advice from Jay Goldberg, who represented Mr. Trump in the 1990s and early 2000s. Mr. Goldberg said he cautioned the president not to trust Mr. Cohen. On a scale of 100 to 1, where 100 is fully protecting the president, Mr. Cohen “isn’t even a 1,” he said he told Mr. Trump. . . . “Michael will never stand up [for you]” if charged by the government, Mr. Goldberg said he cautioned the president. . . . 
[H]e stressed to the president that Mr. Cohen could even agree to wear a wire and try to record conversations with Mr. Trump. “You have to be alert,” Mr. Goldberg said he told the president. “I don’t care what Michael says.”
Goldberg has some experience dealing with people like Michael Cohen --- he has represented such criminal luminaries as Matty “The Horse” Ianniello, Joe “Scarface” Agone and Vincent “Jimmy Blue Eyes" Alo. He sounded quite sure of his assessment that Cohen's alleged loyalty would not hold.

Even setting aside Cohen's foolish antics last week -- hanging around on the street outside the New York courtroom smoking cigars with his buddies -- Trump knows what he has with this guy. Recall that Cohen has threatened media organizations with charming comments like: “I’m warning you, tread very fucking lightly, because what I’m going to do to you is going to be fucking disgusting. You understand me?” We know that Cohen is credibly accused of being the man who put together hush agreements with women whom Trump wanted to ensure never spoke publicly about their affairs with him. Dubious conduct is in his job description.

Nonetheless, Cohen is not exactly a made man. According to this report by ProPublica and WNYC, before he joined up with Trump in the mid-2000s Cohen was involved in a series of scams, including insurance and IRS fraud, for which he always avoided indictment while others were jailed or fined.

Many of his associates in these businesses came from the former Soviet Union and had connections to Russian organized crime. Cohen married a Ukrainian immigrant whose father had pleaded guilty to a felony conspiracy to defraud the IRS in a taxi medallion fraud case. Cohen himself has made millions in the New York taxi business, which is reportedly one of the areas the FBI cited in its search warrant.

Cohen first hooked up with Trump by buying a number of apartments in Trump buildings, which led to Trump hiring him as an executive vice president of the Trump Organization. Cohen has been a part of the Trumpian inner circle ever since, whose main job, as he has said, is "protecting the family."

We learned a few months ago that Cohen had been working with another Russian-born investor, the infamous Felix Sater, on a Trump Tower Moscow deal during the presidential campaign. Sater reportedly boasted to Cohen about his ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, claiming that they could "engineer" the election for Trump. Nobody knows exactly what he meant by that; Cohen has said that Sater was just using "colorful language" and it added up to nothing. But Cohen's relationship with Sater is likely a central aspect of this whole tangled history.

Sater himself is an extremely complicated figure, a man who was himself involved in stock fraud and spent time in prison for badly injuring a man in a bar fight. He has been associated with both the New York Mafia and the Russian mob and has also allegedly been both an FBI informant and a CIA asset. He has known Michael Cohen since they were kids in Brooklyn. (Sater was born in Russia but apparently moved to New York as a child.)

According to Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo, Cohen's father and uncle were both doctors, but the uncle also owned a "social club" in Brooklyn called El Caribe that was a known Mafia hangout in the 1970s and '80s. The Russian mob, then run by a legendary godfather named Evsei Agron, then by his successor, Marat Balagula, (who was suspected of killing Agron) had offices in El Caribe and pretty much ran their nefarious business out of it for some years. Sater's dad, Marshall reports, was "a reputed capo in the Mogilevich organized crime syndicate."

So Cohen has been associated with mobsters and con men his whole life, which probably explains the widespread assumption that he would adhere to the pledge of omertà, the mafia code of silence. But that code isn't what it used to be. In 2001, Sammy "The Bull" Gravano finally turned on Gambino crime boss John Gotti and sent him to prison. Do you know who made the deal with Gravano? It was an assistant attorney general in the criminal division of the Department of Justice. His name was Robert Mueller.

Michael Cohen may be mobbed up, but he's no Sammy the Bull. Those who know him best seem to believe he'll crack even before he has his fingers printed.