Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s longtime personal attorney and fixer, shook the political world Wednesday when he announced that he intended to invoke his Fifth Amendment right not to testify in the lawsuit involving his boss’s former porn star mistress, Stormy Daniels.
The Fifth Amendment is designed to protect innocent people from forced or coerced confessions or statements that may incriminate them in an investigation or during a trial. This protection, however, has been abused by many a guilty defendant intent on skirting the law or protecting friends and associates, as any Law & Order fan or mafia film aficionado can tell you.
President Trump knows this all too well. In fact, he made this exact observation on the campaign trail during one of his many attacks on Hillary Clinton and her emails.
“She has people taking the Fifth Amendment,” he told an Iowa campaign rally crowd in September of 2016, “four people plus the guy who illegally did the server – you know, he put in the illegal server. So there are FIVE people taking the Fifth Amendment, like you see in the mob, right? The mob takes the Fifth Amendment. If you’re innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?”
Earlier in that same speech, he even attacked the notion that any truly innocent person would need immunity to cooperate in an investigation. “If you are not guilty of a crime, what do you need immunity for?”
Those words have all come back to haunt the president spectacularly. First, his disgraced National Security Advisor Michael Flynn secured at least partial immunity with special counsel Robert Mueller’s office in exchange for pleading guilty to a relatively minor crime and agreeing to cooperate in Mueller’s ongoing investigation into collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian intelligence in the run-up to the 2016 election.
Now, Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, has announced that he intends to plead the fifth in any and all legal proceedings surrounding the Stormy Daniels trial.
Daniels, Donald Trump’s porn star mistress who Cohen tried to silence with $130,000 in hush money before the 2016 election, is suing Cohen to get out of the non-disclosure agreement he forced her to sign.
Cohen is also under criminal investigation by the Justice Department’s Southern District of New York office, and he’s not out of the woods in special counsel Robert Mueller’s larger investigation yet, either. His real fear is that Michael Avenatti, Stormy Daniels’ bulldog of a lawyer, will draw out details about Cohen’s business dealings that could incriminate himself or his number one client, President Trump, in those two much more consequential cases.
In a first for the Washington Press, we must, therefore, recommend that our readers heed the words of Donald Trump, who – on this matter at least – once spoke so wisely and sagely:
If you’re innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?”
You can watch Trump’s 2016 comments below.
TRUMP in September 2016: "The mob takes the Fifth. If you’re innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?" pic.twitter.com/xuta4kGVuz
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) April 25, 2018