The Trump-Cohen Tape: Much Ado About Nothing
The Trump-Cohen Tape: Much Ado About Nothing
Well, we knew it would happen. Sooner or later, someone would “leak” something from the Cohen tapes. In this instance, approximately two minutes of audio aired on CNN last night in an “exclusive” on Chris Cuomo’s show. Instead of answering any questions, the excerpt raises a number more, questions we have yet to get answered. Questions the media should be asking and isn’t.
Now, before actually getting into what the tape says — or doesn’t say — there’s the question of how CNN obtained it. According to reports, Michael Cohen’s attorney, Lanny Davis, provided the tape to the network. There should be little doubt Davis did so in an attempt to frame the narrative in his client’s benefit, especially since he went to great lengths to interpret the contents of the recording, saying “repeatedly that Mr. Trump said ‘cash.'”
As the CBS article says, context matters. And context is exactly what is missing in the snippet. Despite everything Cuomo does during more than 10 minutes to interpret what is said, the recording is only two minutes long. We don’t know what was said before or after. In fact, if you listen to the recording, it is clear it cuts off at a moment when then candidate Trump had ore to say on the issue of payments. Funny how the recording cuts off just then. It sort of reminds you of the 18-minute gap in the Nixon Watergate Tapes doesn’t it? Did Cohen commit an “oops” and turn off the recording?
Or, as I suspect, did the rest of the recording not fit the narrative Davis wanted to create and so it was purposefully left off?
Then there’s the question of how the recording was so carefully queued up to the point where payments to former Playboy model Karen McDougal. I’m not saying Davis would do anything unethical but it is a question I’d like the former special counsel to Bill Clinton (and who defended him in the media during his impeachment) to answer.
Oh, there’s another question to be answered as well. Is this recording covered by attorney-client privilege? It might be argued, and it wouldn’t surprise me if Davis took this approach, that it doesn’t because the conversation was made with the intention of committing or covering up a crime or fraud. Except intent has not yet been adjudicated, at least not as far as I’ve heard. Nor was the recording released in the course of a judicial hearing to determine the intent of either party. No, this was a blatant attempt by Davis to manipulate facts to his client’s benefit and the media, in the form of Cuomo, was more than happy to oblige.
So what does the tape really say? If you listen to Cuomo and his verbal
garbage gymnastics, you’d swear the recording shows Trump agreeing to cash payments to buy and silence the McDougal story. Except, does it really? As Cuomo admits, the recording’s quality is not good. Some of the President’s comments are muffled or garbled. The only person heard clearly is Cohen. There is little to no context and, as noted earlier, the recording ends abruptly.
In fact, there is more time spent on the discussion of an attempt to open the divorce proceedings between the President and Ivana Trump than there was about the supposed payment. Cuomo ignores that, and the fact Trump wanted to keep those details private, instead focusing on the more salacious alleged payment discussion.
Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Guiliani, called the leak of the recording “outrageous” and asked some of the same questions I have. His interpretation of the audio corresponds with what I believe I heard: Trump saying not to pay with cash and then saying “check”. More than that, he, too, questions why the recording ended when it did, saying the information we would have heard had it continued would have been exculpatory for the president.
So why didn’t we hear it? Was it because it wouldn’t fit the media’s narrative that the President is this horrid evil doer bend on destroying the country or because Davis was simply doing his best to control the narrative in a way that it best served his client?
As for me, well, I’ve lived long enough to know that, if true, this particular allegation against Trump isn’t the worst to be leveled against a sitting president, far from it. Funny how the media so conveniently forgets the antics of Slick Willy and Prince Jack, to name just a few.
One thing is clear. This recording, in its current form, is much ado about nothing. It tells us nothing. There is no context. The conversation isn’t complete. The tape hasn’t been checked for 1) authenticity and 2) tampering. But the media and those suffering from Trump Derangement Syndrome are using it to once again rally the troops against the President.