Adios, Pardon-er? Here’s Why Michael Cohen Probably Can’t Count on Trump Anymore | Law & Crime
Opinion

Adios, Pardon-er? Here’s Why Michael Cohen Probably Can’t Count on Trump Anymore

President Donald Trump‘s longtime friend, fixer and occasional attorney Michael Cohen probably can’t count on an executive branch-issued “Get Out of Jail Free” card anymore.

Friday’s news dump was consumed by talk of a secret recording believed to implicate the 45th president in a somewhat salacious misdeed. That is, there’s apparently a recording of then-candidate Trump discussing potential hush money payments to Playboy model Karen MacDougal in order to keep MacDougal quiet about an alleged affair between herself and Trump which is said to have occurred shortly after Barron Trump was born.

The all-Cohen-tape; all-the-time Friday story seems to have carved out a hefty chunk of real estate in Trump’s mind. In a tweet sent at 8:10 a.m. on Saturday, the Twitter president wrote:

Inconceivable that the government would break into a lawyer’s office (early in the morning) – almost unheard of. Even more inconceivable that a lawyer would tape a client – totally unheard of & perhaps illegal. The good news is that your favorite President did nothing wrong!

Aside from the obvious attempt to channel Wallace Shawn viz. The Princess Bride‘s Vizzini, the president’s supposition in the Saturday morning tweet is legally incorrect–New York is a one-party consent state for purposes of recording conversations. The Digital Media Law Project describes the statute on point, “New York makes it a crime to record or eavesdrop on an in-person or telephone conversation unless one party to the conversation consents. N.Y. Penal Law §§ 250.00, 250.05.”

A definition from the above-referenced statute further clarifies:

“Mechanical overhearing of a conversation” means the intentional overhearing or recording of a conversation or discussion, without the consent of at least one party thereto, by a person not present thereat, by means of any instrument, device or equipment.

But even discounting the inaccurate statement of (or, rather, guess at) the law contained in Trump’s tweet, the presidential ignorance on display is arguably indicative of the president’s deeper feelings on the matter.

In other words, President Trump just suggested that one of his very best and longest-tenured friends–and there are not many of those extant in the world–committed a crime. It doesn’t matter that Cohen didn’t commit a crime by recording Trump. What matters is that Trump thinks Cohen might have committed a crime against him.

Similarly, President Trump feasibly does have the brain capacity and experience to understand the basic New York State law on eavesdropping. Trump hails from New York City. And before his rise to political prominence, Trump spent years enmeshed in New York’s legal and media environments. So, it stands to reason that Trump’s very public ignorance may just be another of many in a long line of put-ons.

In other words, Trump’s probably just pretending not to know that Michael Cohen didn’t commit a crime by recording him surreptitiously. And if Trump really is feigning ignorance of the law to throw Cohen under the bus of public perception–or at least the much-smaller MAGA bus and its heavily-skewed; easily-influenceable grasp on reality–that’s fairly good evidence the Cohen-Trump friendship is well over and done with.

[image via Getty Images]

Follow Colin Kalmbacher on Twitter: @colinkalmbacher

This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.

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