What are we to make of yesterday’s events? I am going to resist the natural temptation of the left-leaning public intellectual to seek some deep and of course contrarian interpretation. My personal reaction is this: we are in a war, a long, difficult, frustrating war. It is hard to keep my spirits up as I watch, day after day, the cruel, heartless, unjust, exploitative actions taken both by my sworn enemies and by my supposed friends. I am eighty-four years old, and I despair of living long enough to see anything remotely resembling justice, equality, or even simple decency break out in the land of my birth, my maturity, and my old age. So I have decided to enjoy to the full every good day with which I am blessed, and yesterday was a good day.
Two thoughts, one about the Manafort verdict, the other about the Cohen affair and the performance of Cohen’s lawyer, Lannie Davis.
The Manafort verdict was puzzling, as many TV commentators noted. Why find Manafort guilty of one of the four charges of failing to file a foreign bank account and hang on the other three, when the evidence in all four was identical? Why was he not found not guilty on any of the 18 charges? I have a theory. I think most of the jury [maybe all but one] thought Manafort was guilty on all the counts, and one [maybe a Trump loyalist?] wanted to acquit him of everything, and the jury cut an internal deal. Notice that the charges fell into three categories and the jury found him guilty of at least one charge in each category. We may never know the truth, but then, we may. Sometimes juries talk.
There was a great deal of discussion this morning of the unusual fact that Cohen’s guilty plea was not accompanied by a an agreement to turn state’s evidence, even though Cohen chose, as he did not have to, to implicate Trump in his plea of guilty to the two campaign finance charges. After the formal proceeding, Cohen’s lawyer made very public statements that his client had big info on Trump and the Trump Tower meeting and wanted to talk. Broadcasting this, rather than saying it privately to Mueller, was, various talking heads observed, very odd. Meanwhile, the Washington Post had a cryptic statement to the effect that Mueller does not need Cohen’s testimony. My speculative hypothesis: Mueller has everything he needs about that meeting without Cohen, and Cohen is desperately trying to sell a deal to Mueller to reduce his jail time.
Well, you can see where my head has been for the past eighteen hours.