NY-22 Minute: Tenney Inaccurately Claims Trump Not Part of Michael Cohen's Felonies By Luke Perry
This morning on Talk of the Town in Utica Claudia Tenney discussed President Trump’s former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, and former 2016 campaign manager, Paul Manafort, becoming convicted felons, eight counts each. (full interview here)
“A lot of people aren't happy with the fact we’re convicting one person after another," Tenney said, "and we've yet to discover any kind of so-called collusion, which isn't a crime anyway." (4:53 mark) Tenney’s comments mirror the president’s immediate reaction.
Trump and his current personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, have also stated collusion isn’t a crime. Politifact found this assertion “mostly false.” Collusion is part of the U.S. criminal code involving anti-trust legislation. Existing federal law also includes statutes prohibiting coercing and conspiring with foreign nations. The related U.S. Justice Department special investigation is ongoing, so whether Donald Trump potentially violated any of these laws has yet to be determined.
Tenney acknowledged Manafort committed criminal tax evasion, but “there are all kinds of crimes out there,” many of which don’t get prosecuted. Manafort deliberately failed to pay taxes on tens of millions of dollars stemming from his work for Ukrainian oligarchs and politicians, including Viktor Yanukovych, an anti-democracy Ukrainian official connected to Russia.
Tenney claimed she has pushed prosecutors “in our area” to prosecute people she believes committed crimes, who haven’t because of “political reasons.” (6:35 mark)
“I have a jaundice eye” toward Michael Cohen’s guilty plea, Tenney stated. Tenney didn't understand why Cohen would accept the plea, which includes jail time, and derided Cohen’s lawyer, Lanny Davis, as "literally a complete operative for Hillary Clinton." (7:41 mark) Davis is a Democrat, who has represented Bill Clinton, and was a federal appointee of George W. Bush.
“All kinds of people that could and should be prosecuted aren’t getting prosecuted," Tenney said, "they could have indicted Chris Collins last year.” Representative Chris Collins (R, NY-27), an early Trump supporter, was recently indicted for insider trading. Knowledge of this “has been out for a long time,” Tenney said, questioning why this was done so close to the upcoming national election. (9:07 mark)
“What he (Michael Cohen) pled guilty to doesn’t have anything to do with the president,” Tenney said, suggesting it instead had to do with loans.
Cohen pled guilty to two counts of campaign finance law, in addition to six counts of tax fraud and making fraudulent statements to a bank. This includes “one count of willfully causing an unlawful corporation contribution and one count of making an excessive campaign contribution at the request of a candidate.”
Cohen said the president directed him to commit a crime, testifying Trump told him to pay Stormy Daniels, an adult film star, and Karen McDougal, a former Playboy model, for their silence throughout the campaign regarding alleged sexual encounters with Trump.
Updated August 23, 2018, 7:40am.
Luke Perry (@PolSciLukePerry) is Chair and Professor of Government at Utica College.
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