After months of speculation regarding the likely fate of former Trump fixer Michael Cohen, two memos have been released that recommend sentencing. The question on the media empire’s salivating lips is whether the information contained within is damaging to President Trump. Cohen has become little more than a poker chip in a high-stakes game for the future of the American nation, but is the Fourth Estate ready to go all in?
Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s sentencing memorandum and the separate U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York’s memo are wildly different in terms of recommendation; the former seeking leniency and the latter demanding retribution. It is notable that either side of the media divide is already placing importance on the report that best fits their own narrative.
From the Left
Of the more left-leaning publications, the headline focus is on the allegation that Cohen broke the law at the request of then-candidate Trump. The alleged crimes relate to election laws describing contact and overtures with “Russian nationals,” that apparently took place in 2015. They state that Cohen spoke with someone claiming to have deep ties in the Russian government and who offered “political synergy.”
Somehow, CNN fails to get the point across that according to federal prosecutors, this conversation about synergy did not result in a meeting and was, in fact, refused.
…one of whom is presently facing jail time for lying to the FBI.
The second “political earthquake” being sold off the back of the wagon involves the widely misunderstood “Moscow Project.” The media is painting this as a direct tie to the Kremlin, as building projects are more likely to succeed if they have government backing. Once again, this is a path that leads nowhere. The project was dead in the water and failed to materialize.
The most serious charges against the president are that he instructed Cohen to undertake the actions described – a difficult mix to prove as it would come down to one man’s word against another, one of whom is presently facing jail time for lying to the FBI.
From the Right
Perhaps inevitably, those on the Republican side of the debate are spinning these reports as an almost complete vindication of the president. Trump himself tweeted in joyous exuberance:
“Totally clears the President. Thank you!”
But does it? While Cohen has admitted that he willingly lied under oath in order to limit the appearance of his knowledge and involvement of potential crimes, it remains apparent that within Mueller’s investigation there is an end game to implicate President Trump in attempted collusion.
Whether this will make it to a courtroom is unknown, but at some point, the president will have to answer the claims against him. Mueller has built a case that has several actors stating they acted on orders and that these orders may have been in violation of election law. It is the credibility of these witnesses that could lead to Mueller’s final recommendation.
Despite this whirlwind of facts, fictions, lies, truths, and half-truths, we actually know very little about the impact this will have on the presidency. Each side is claiming a victory and accusing the other of spin. We can watch the pundits, read the headlines, and even examine social media feeds, but the one fact that remains undisputed is that nothing is certain.
Consumers of media meat and gravy may end up walking from the table as hungry and unsatisfied as they were when they sat down to the expected feast. Our press chefs are being paid to tantalize and get rave reviews for their own particular restaurant, and all without offering a single substantial bite.