Michael Cohen, Russian Money, and a Road Map to a Smoking Gun

My new Slate piece:  on the breaking news about the Russian oligarch’s payments to Michael Cohen starting in January 2017 — right after the Rosneft sale alleged in the Steele Dossier.

These allegations are not just about a hush payment and campaign finance felonies. It’s a big step toward establishing bribery and conspiracy against the United States.

What’s the explanation for a Putin oligarch funneling money to Trump’s lawyer through a fund used to pay hush money to one or more women, just as Trump was benefiting that oligarch? Maybe they have an explanation, but it’s hard to imagine it – or how a jury could be persuaded.

My editors cut my snarky conclusion, and understandably so. But I’ll tweet it: “It also seems obvious that once the Steele Dossier was published, someone savvy like Vekselberg would find a less conspicuous way to pay off Trump associates. Maybe they were assuming the U.S. works like Russia: once you’re in power, and you’re doing the bidding for those in power, you can get away with open corruption. But Vekselberg was not working with Russians. And he wasn’t working with such sharp Americans, either.”

Author: Jed Shugerman

Legal historian at Fordham Law School, teaching Torts, Administrative Law, and Constitutional History. JD/PhD in History, Yale. Red Sox and Celtics fan, youth soccer coach. Author of "The People's Courts: Pursuing Judicial Independence in America" (2012) on the rise of judicial elections in America. I filed an amicus brief in the Emoluments litigation against Trump along with a great team of historians. I'm working on "The Rise of the Prosecutor Politicians," a history of prosecutors and political ambition (a cause of mass incarceration), and "The Imaginary Unitary Executive," on the myths and history of presidential power in America.

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