U.S. President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Michael Cohen arrives at his hotel in New York City, U.S., June 20, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
BRENDAN MCDERMID

As Michael Cohen talks to Mueller, Trump has reason to worry

Updated

The Rachel Maddow Show, 9/20/18, 9:45 PM ET

Michael Cohen talked Trump, Russia with Mueller for hours:…

Rachel Maddow relays reports from ABC News and the Wall Street Journal that Michael Cohen has spent hours talking with Robert Mueller about Russia and the Donald Trump operation.
Rachel Maddow relays reports from ABC News and the Wall Street Journal that Michael Cohen has spent hours talking with Robert Mueller about Russia and the Donald Trump operation.
It was a month ago today that Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s personal attorney and purported “fixer,” pleaded guilty to eight felonies, directly implicating the president in two of his crimes. Almost immediately, observers began speculating about whether, and to what degree, Cohen would cooperate with prosecutors, telling them what he knows.

With this in mind, as Rachel noted on the show last night, ABC News had an important report late yesterday on the hours of conversations, over “multiple interview sessions,” between Cohen and Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigators. And while that’s important in its own right, of particular interest was the topic of their chats.

The special counsel’s questioning of Cohen, one of the president’s closest associates over the past decade, has focused primarily on all aspects of Trump’s dealings with Russia – including financial and business dealings and the investigation into alleged collusion with Russia by the Trump campaign and its surrogates to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election, sources familiar with the matter tell ABC News.

Investigators were also interested in knowing, the sources say, whether Trump or any of his associates discussed the possibility of a pardon with Cohen.

The report coincided with a Wall Street Journal  article, which said largely the same thing, noting that federal investigators asked Cohen about, among other things, “the president’s business dealings with Russia.”

Making matters slightly worse for the president, the ABC News report added that Cohen, once seen as an unyielding Trump loyalist, has also cooperated with the investigation by New York state authorities “into the inner workings of the Trump family charity and the Trump Organization, where Cohen served as an executive vice president and special counsel to Trump for 10 years.”

None of this is good news for the president.

Cohen was not only a member of Trump’s inner circle, he was also closely involved in Russia-related matters, including private-sector efforts to help build a Trump Tower in Moscow.

But just as important is the fact that Mueller’s team has pressed Cohen for information on this very subject. To hear the president tell it, this entire line of inquiry is effectively dead. If the latest reporting is accurate, the opposite is true.

Hugh Hewitt, a prominent conservative observer and an MSNBC contributor, made the case last month that Cohen “has already done his worst” to Trump, “and it is pretty bad.”

And while it was certainly problematic to see the president’s former lawyer implicate him as an unindicted co-conspirator in two felonies, the “worst” damage Cohen can do to Trump may be yet to come.