In a federal courtroom this afternoon, Paul Manafort, who led Donald Trump's political operation two years ago, pleaded guilty to a variety of felonies, including crimes committed during the president's 2016 campaign. But just as importantly, Manafort reached an agreement with Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team, and agreed to cooperate with its probe. As a consequence, Trump's former campaign chair will turn over documents and offer to testify in future proceedings.
And while that's not the kind of news the president wants to hear, it's not the only revelation of note. In Vanity Fair this afternoon, Emily Jane Fox reports that Michael Cohen is talking to Mueller, too.
In the wake of Manafort's plea deal, sources confirm that it is now common knowledge among Cohen's inner circle that Trump's former lawyer has been in contact with the special counsel's office. [...]In recent weeks, it has also become common knowledge among close friends of Michael Cohen, Trump's former personal attorney, that Cohen is talking to the Mueller team, according to people familiar with the situation.
There's a lot about this that we don't know, and it's worth emphasizing that Vanity Fair's reporting has not been independently verified by MSNBC or NBC News.
That said, whether, and to what degree, Cohen might cooperate with the special counsel's investigation has been a major point of interest in recent weeks. Trump's former "fixer" pleaded guilty to a variety of crimes last month, and directly implicated the president in some of his misdeeds, but there was no publicly available information to suggest Cohen had become a cooperating witness.
The day after his guilty plea, however, Cohen's lawyer told Rachel on the air that the president's former personal attorney stood ready to provide information "on certain subjects that should be of interest to the special counsel."
If the new reporting is correct and Cohen is talking with Mueller, he has plenty of company. As of today. Manafort is cooperating with the special counsel's probe, as is the president's former national security adviser (Michael Flynn), the president's former deputy campaign chair (Rick Gates), and the president's former campaign foreign policy adviser (George Papadopoulos).
If that list doesn't make Trump nervous, it probably should.