He's a self-professed billionaire who went on to become president of the United States, and of all the lawyers he could have hired in his rise to the top, he chose Michael D. Cohen, an ambulance chaser, taxi-cab proprietor and facilitator for Russian mobsters. About this bizarre relationship, one's thinking instantly swings to the science of hydrology — something about levels and what water naturally seeks.
As CNN reminds us, just last month the president repeated that Cohen was his lawyer. Indeed, Cohen has "been seen recently at the President's private club, Mar-a-Lago." All this is clear. "What's less clear," writes CNN, "is how much Cohen discussed the nuts and bolts of policy-making with his longtime boss. One source familiar with Cohen's relationship with Trump said the President 'never talked to Cohen about substantive matters' that Cohen's clients would be interested in."
If the source said that on Trump's orders, then we have prima facie evidence that Trump in fact "talked to Cohen about substantive matters" — because the president always lies. The source also said, according to CNN, that Trump could "ultimately" be angry that Cohen had been "harvesting money off of the president's back." This is an impossibility. Trump, like any mob boss, would have been taking a cut. Water may seek its own level, but boodle always flows up.
This is what Cohen most likely has on Trump — what he has to sell to Bob Mueller, to save his own hide. Observes the Washington Post, "Selling access is common in Washington, but investigators could probe whether Cohen promised specific government actions in exchange for payments, which could cause him legal trouble. If he spent large amounts of time speaking to government officials on behalf of clients, investigators could also explore whether he should have registered as a lobbyist."
In fact the deeper that Cohen submerged himself in Trump's sewer of shambolically organized crime, the better for Cohen. The more valuable his wares, the more he has to trade. It would be best for the presidential mouthpiece if he had promised Trump's specific "actions in exchange for payments." This is probably why Trump is said to be far more troubled about the FBI's raids on Cohen's properties than he is about whatever it is that Mueller is doing in Washington.
No doubt Cohen, on Trump's advice, was screwing his clients — with winks going both ways — just as Trump had always screwed his business associates. Novartis, a Swiss drug manufacturer, shelled out $1.2 million for "Trump’s views on health care" — a subject that Trump, at the time, didn't even know was complicated? AT&T paid Cohen $600,000 for "advice on regulatory matters"? The powerful Washington, D.C. lobbying and law firm, Squire Patton Boggs, needed the ambulance chaser's advice on — anything?
The one firm the Cohen-Trump team didn't screw was Columbus Nova, the New York-based investment firm. It had ties to Russian "oligarch" (read mobster) Viktor Vekselberg, and it paid Cohen about a half-million dollars for, ahem, consulting services. Which was a good investment, in view of the games Trump has played with Russian sanctions.
Craig Holman, a lobbyist for the goo-goo organization Public Citizen, told the Post that "This is the swamp of Washington." True enough. And yet an even more applicable metaphor is that of an iceberg — the tip of one, that is.