Jonathan Turley: Cohen’s epic mistake was thinking ratting on Trump would keep him out of jail … like classic film ‘The Hustler’

When President Donald Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen allegedly betrayed his former boss in a bid to avoid a lengthy prison term, he made a fatal mistake, argues renowned Georgetown Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley.

“By declaring himself a redemptive sinner, Cohen clearly thought that he had left little on the table to deny him a zero jail time sentence,” Turley notes in a Fox News column. “Earlier, he decided to give up on a chance for a pardon from President Trump and made the play for Mueller.”

Instead of remaining loyal to Trump, with whom he’d worked alongside for more than a decade, Cohen reportedly spilled the beans to special counsel Robert Mueller in the hopes of avoiding being sent to prison for a litany of crimes that he — not the president — had committed. But the plan backfired.

In a sentencing memo released Friday, federal prosecutors in New York recommended Cohen be served with “[a] substantial term of imprisonment” for committing “four distinct federal crimes,” including violating campaign finance laws and attempting to influence the outcome of the 2016 election.

What happened to Cohen reminds Turley of a classic film.

“In the 1961 movie classic ‘The Hustler,’ a young pool shark named Fast Eddie Felson (Paul Newman) sought to topple legendary veteran Minnesota Fats (Jackie Gleason) in a high-stakes pool game,” he explains. “A smug Fast Eddie bragged to Minnesota Fats that he ‘didn’t leave much’ on the table, but the seasoned Minnesota Fats dryly responded ‘you left enough.'”

While it’s unclear what all Cohen told Mueller and other investigators, the sentencing memo released Friday suggests he implicated the president in potential campaign finance violations.

“During the campaign, Cohen played a central role in two similar schemes to purchase the right to stories –– each from women who claimed to have had an affair with Individual-1 –– so as to suppress the stories and thereby prevent them from influencing the election,” the memo reads.

“With respect to both payments, Cohen acted with the intent to influence the 2016 presidential election. Cohen coordinated his actions with one or more members of the campaign, including through meetings and phone calls, about the fact, nature, and timing of the payments.”

“In particular, and as Cohen himself has now admitted, with respect to both payments, he acted in coordination with and at the direction of Individual-1. As a result of Cohen’s actions, neither woman spoke to the press prior to the election,” it concludes.

The term “Individual-1” refers to the president, though it’s unclear whether his alleged role in Cohen’s crimes warrants criminal prosecution. The president believes the answer is no.

If true, this would mean Cohen sold the president out in exchange nothing, save for his own demise.

“Cohen apparently thought that delivering on Trump would wipe away a lifetime of deception and fraud. Instead, prosecutors grudgingly accepted a modest reduction in sentencing, but still demanded a ‘substantial term of imprisonment,'” Turley writes.

“Cohen is now looking at the loss of this law license, business and freedom. He could spend as much as five years in prison for what the government described as ‘Cohen’s extensive, deliberate, and serious criminal conduct.'”

The Georgetown Washington University professor calls Cohen’s attempt at saving his own butt a “hustle,” and according to him it failed because of one, Cohen’s lack of credibility, and two, Cohen’s shady behavior during Mueller’s investigation into alleged (and still unproven) collusion.

Turley specifically pointed to how Cohen had tried to act as if had chosen to turn on Trump because of some moral imperative versus a desire to save his own butt.

“On both Fox News and MSNBC, Davis said that Cohen’s moral epiphany came after watching the Helsinki news conference last July in which President Trump appeared to side with Russian President Vladimir Putin in believing Russia’s denial of interfering in the 2016 U.S. presidential election that Trump won,” Turley writes, referencing the attorney’s own layer, Lanny Davis.

“That shook up Mr. Cohen,” Davis reportedly said in the August statement.

“This makes as much sense as mob boss Joe Valachi saying that he decided to flip on the Lucchese crime family after watching ‘The Sound of Music,'” Turley argues.

It’s clear from the sentencing memo released Friday that prosecutors also didn’t buy the excuse.

“In what Fast Eddie described as his ‘Church of the Good Hustler,’ the only thing that matters in the end is putting balls in the right pockets,” Turley writes in conclusion.

“However, hubris is often the ruin of many a good player. Fast Eddie told Minnesota Fats: “You know, I got a hunch, fat man. I got a hunch it’s me from here on in. Like Fast Eddy, Cohen was wrong. It never was his game. It was (and remains) Mueller’s game.”

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