Keep watching the timelines
They say timing is everything.
That's why the Mueller team was quiet leading up to the midterm elections, making no public filings of any import relating to the Trump/Russia probe.
That's why, when the election season finally ended, the special counsel's two-day hit of yanking Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort's plea agreement for continued lying and Mueller's new plea agreement with Trump lawyer Michael Cohen over Trump business dealings in Russia felt like an earthquake.
In fact, the Cohen plea actually may be an earthquake.
With no advance notice, Cohen — who has billed himself as Trump's fixer — walked into federal court with prosecutors on Thursday morning in Manhattan and said he lied when he told Congress that Trump's efforts to build a Trump Tower in Moscow ended before the Iowa Caucus, which was Feb. 1, 2016.
"I made these misstatements to be consistent with Individual 1's political messaging and out of loyalty to Individual 1," Cohen told a packed courtroom. "Individual 1" was identified in court as President Trump.
What's more, Cohen said he discussed the efforts, far into the campaign, with Trump and his family.
According to the plea, discussions about the Moscow Trump Tower continued into mid-June, with plans for Cohen and one-time Trump business associate Felix Sater to meet in Russia with high-ranking officials there.
The plan, according to Cohen, also was to fly Trump to Moscow "once he becomes the nominee after the convention."
Speaking of timing, the plea says the last known discussion about the deal was "on or about June 14," 2016, when Cohen told Sater he was canceling plans to travel to Russia.
That was the same day the Washington Post broke the story that Russia had hacked the Democratic National Committee.
Sometimes marketing is everything
Sater, who is Russian born and has said he also expects to be indicted by Mueller, told Buzzfeed that the planned $50 million penthouse of the proposed Moscow Trump Tower would be gifted to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Sater termed it a marketing ploy to induce Russian oligarchs to eagerly line up and pay $250 million for apartments in the same building with Putin.
The Daily Beast wrote — partly tongue in cheek — about more important timing:
"Putin is unlikely to hear more specifics about the penthouse's finishings or bathroom count anytime soon. Shortly after Cohen's guilty plea became public, Trump announced that he was cancelling a summit with the Russian president in Argentina over the weekend, ostensibly due to recent aggressive actions taken by the Russian military against Ukrainian naval vessels."
So many lies, so little truth
Cohen's plea doesn't establish that Trump and Russians conspired to help Trump win the election, through Putin himself has acknowledged that he wanted Trump to win.
But it clearly shows our president to be a serial liar. Not that we didn't already know this, but the consequence of these lies are far greater than the effect on America when he lies about the size of his crowds or a girlfriend or two.
Forget how many times Trump has tweeted that the Mueller probe — which has resulted in publicly released criminal charges against 33 people, five of whom had some direct association with Trump's campaign and/or administration — is a hoax.
Just ask yourself how many times you've see our president onstage or in front of a microphone say over and over "I have nothing to do with Russia."
Here's a tiny sampling: He tweeted in July 2016: "For the record, I have ZERO investments in Russia." He told reporters in January 2017 that he had no deals there because he had "stayed away." He tweeted last week wondering if Mueller would talk to: " hundreds of people closely involved with my campaign who never met, saw or spoke to a Russian during this period? There was NO Collusion & Mueller knows it!"
Now his response is a big so-what: I didn't do it. But if I did, it wasn't a crime. "I was allowed to."
Was he "allowed" to lie to America over and over? Are we going to continue letting him lie to America over and over? Is our Congress willing to allow him to lie to America over and over?
Here's a gut check for our president.
Michael Cohen, before last week's plea agreement, spent 70 hours in front of the Mueller grand jury that is looking at the Trump/Russia probe. In most federal cases, a key witness usually spends about three hours with a grand jury.
Robert Mueller doesn't appear willing to let our president lie to us over and over without it at least being made crystal clear that he is lying. Nor does it appear that Mueller is willing to allow him to continue putting his own self-interest above our pesky laws and Constitution.
Buckle up. It's going to be a wild ride.