Trump’s Justice Department just implicated him in directing a felony

"Individual 1" sure sounds familiar.

Donald Trump at a rally in West Palm Beach, Florida on October 13, 2016. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Donald Trump at a rally in West Palm Beach, Florida on October 13, 2016. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

We all deal with bad news differently. President Donald Trump prefers to ignore reality.

Trump was dealt a trifecta of legal trouble on Friday by special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election, and federal prosecutors from the Southern District of New York (SDNY).

The president faced damaging new revelations and accusations via legal documents filed about Michael Cohen — his former attorney who has pleaded guilty to lying to Congress, tax fraud, and campaign finance violations.

A second damning barrage against the president came via court filings about Paul Manafort — his former campaign chairman who has been convicted on tax fraud and bank fraud charges, and pleaded guilty to conspiracy against the United States and conspiracy to obstruct justice.

However, Trump claimed the exact opposite on Twitter.

It will probably not surprise you to learn that Trump was not, in fact, totally cleared on Friday.

Michael Cohen

Michael Cohen in New York, New York on April 13, 2018. (Yana Paskova/Getty Images)
Michael Cohen in New York, New York on April 13, 2018. (Yana Paskova/Getty Images)

Cohen was up first, with Mueller and SDNY providing sentencing recommendations for Trump’s former attorney. Among the special counsel’s descriptions of Cohen’s many crimes were numerous mentions of an unnamed “Individual 1.”


“Individual 1” apparently asked Cohen “about contacting the Russian government” in September 2015, three months after Trump “Individual 1” launched his presidential campaign.

Cohen also supposedly spoke with someone who offered the “Individual 1” campaign “political synergy” with Russia before the 2016 Iowa caucuses and proposed a meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and “Individual 1.”

In a followup to last week’s revelations about a failed Trump Tower real estate deal in Russia that the president and his family apparently pursued through the summer of 2016, the special counsel’s court filing said “Individual 1” discussed the “Moscow Project” with Cohen “well into the campaign.” The document revealed that Trump’s former attorney communicated with a Putin aide “during the campaign.”

And Mueller disclosed the president’s ex-lawyer “provided relevant and useful information” about Trump’s White House as recently as this year.

Though the special counsel’s recommendations regarding Cohen were the most anticipated legal filing on Friday, the SDNY’s statements were probably even more problematic for the president.


“Individual 1” appears even more frequently in the SDNY portion, which recommends that Trump’s former attorney serve a “substantial prison term” of around four years.

If you still aren’t completely convinced about the identity of “Individual 1,” he was a candidate in “an ultimately successful campaign for President of the United States.”

And “Individual 1” became president in January 2017.

Then SDNY — which is part of Trump’s DOJ — laid out the seriousness of Cohen’s crimes in a series of remarkable passages.


Federal prosecutors noted “Individual 1” apparently directed Cohen to commit a felony during the 2016 election, ordering his ex-lawyer to “suppress the stories” of women who had claimed to have affairs with the presidential candidate.

SDNY also accused Cohen of coordinating with Individual 1 to commit “campaign finance crimes” in a bid to keep “facts that he believed would have had a substantial effect on the election” from being revealed to voters.

Neal Katyal — a former high-ranking official in President Barack Obama’s DOJ who predicted Cohen’s recent guilty plea could be “the beginning of the end of the Trump presidency” — said the accusations by Trump’s DOJ were unprecedented.

Matthew Miller, another ex-Obama DOJ official, called SDNY’s role in investigations of Trump “one of the biggest open questions.”

Paul Manafort

Paul Manafort and Kathleen Manafort at the Albert V. Bryan U.S. Courthouse in Alexandria, Virginia on March 8, 2018. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Paul Manafort and Kathleen Manafort at the Albert V. Bryan U.S. Courthouse in Alexandria, Virginia on March 8, 2018. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

According to Mueller’s court filing, Trump’s former campaign chairman may have violated his plea agreement by contacting members of the White House as recently as late May.

The special counsel’s update on Manafort provided more evidence that the president’s ex-campaign chairman was meeting with a possible Russian intelligence asset during the 2016 campaign while leading Trump’s campaign.

Konstantin Kilimnik, a longtime Manafort acquaintance, was indicted by Mueller’s investigation in June for obstruction of justice and conspiracy to obstruct justice.

ThinkProgress’ Casey Michel has explained Kilimnik’s possible connection to Russian intelligence.

A previous Mueller indictment also named a “Person A,” a colleague of Manafort, as someone with “ties to Russian intelligence,” ties that were “active” during the 2016 election. That person is widely believed to be Kilimnik.

Like Tuesday’s court filing from the special counsel on Michael Flynn — Trump’s former national security adviser who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI — there are a number of intriguing redactions about Manafort, like this mysterious additional DOJ investigation.

The redactions in Mueller’s filing related to “pending investigations or uncharged persons,” per BuzzFeed News’ Zoe Tillman.

Miller mocked the president’s recent “very legal and very cool” tweet to sum up the day’s extraordinary events.

Katyal said Friday’s revelations about Cohen and Manafort mean Trump “goes down in history as a liar.”

Though the president has seemed especially nervous about the Russia probe lately, it’s clear that Mueller was on his mind early on Friday, as Trump sent four tweets about the investigation during the 6 a.m. ET hour.

Before he eventually got around to acknowledging the 77th anniversary of the Japanese attack on the U.S. military at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, Trump announced that he was hard at work on his own report regarding the Russia probe.

Despite the president’s ongoing “witch hunt” claims, Mueller’s investigation has racked up over 100 criminal charges against dozens of people, including guilty pleas from the president’s former national security adviser, former campaign chair, former attorney, and multiple former campaign advisers.

Trump fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions — who had recused himself from oversight of the Russia investigation — one day after last month’s midterm elections in which Democrats regained control of the House.

After appointing Matthew Whitaker, an outspoken critic of Mueller, to acting attorney general, the president announced on Friday that he was nominating William Barr as Sessions’ replacement.

Barr has echoed Trump’s rhetoric on Mueller, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former FBI director James Comey, and presidential power.