Yesterday, Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, plead guilty to perjury charges in the Mueller-Russia probe. Since then, Zoltar, my #1 fan and at this point, my best friend (what else do you call the only person you talk to every day?) has been flooding my inbox with some hot copy about what this means for the Will Trump testify to Special Counsel Robert Mueller in 2018 marketplace.
For those of you who haven’t been following this story, it’s generally assumed in every newsroom, Congressional office, and Twitter feed that Donald Trump submitted sworn testimony to Mueller’s team last week, but ambiguities in the PredictIt rules are giving the whole political gambling community acid reflux over how exactly this slam-dunk will resolve. That’s because PredictIt’s rules require Trump to give “sworn testimony” that is accompanied by some kind of “Disclosure by the White House, the Special Counsel team, and/or an authorized representative of the Department of Justice” to confirm that said testimony actually happened.
Here’s Zoltar’s breakdown of where this market stands, post Cohen plea:
A quick re-cap for the simple minded: this market requires three steps (1) Trump submit written answers to Mueller; (2) those answers must be given under oath; and (3) a representative of the White House must somehow confirm Trump’s written answers were given under oath.
Up to yesterday the count for non-Twitter news media outlets confirming that Trump provided written answers to Mueller that were provided under oath (i.e. Step 2) was approximately zero. But then yesterday happened and Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, plead guilty to perjury of charges in the Mueller-Russia probe a as shown below, in just one day that number went from ZERO to DOZENS.
“First, Trump recently turned in his written answers to Mueller. If Mueller asked about the Moscow Trump Tower deal and Trump lied, saying that it had ended in January, that would be a strong basis for a perjury charge.”
“Unlike the situation with Manafort, Trump has no way of seeing inside the Cohen-Mueller talks. That creates enormous uncertainty and risk. Trump may already have contradicted himself under oath.”
“According to Sherman, Trump allies are concerned Mueller waited until after Trump submitted written answers under oath to the special counsel’s office before revealing the evidence prosecutors had gathered to secure Cohen’s plea.”
“‘The fear in Trumpworld is that Mueller may have laid a perjury trap for the president,’ Sherman wrote, quoting an unnamed former staffer.”
“Trump’s current lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, told The New York Times that Trump’s sworn answers to Mueller matched Cohen’s version of events.”
“Ex-White House staffer: ‘The Cohen news is very bad’ — Mueller may have laid a perjury trap.”
“‘The fear in Trumpworld is that Mueller may have laid a perjury trap for the president,’ the former staffer said. Mueller waited until after Trump submitted written answers under oath to the special counsel’s office—
“hours later, Giuliani changed tacks, telling The New York Times that Trump’s sworn answers to Mueller matched Cohen’s version of events. ‘Why would the president come out and say Cohen lied?’ the former staffer said.”
“Cohen’s testimony will be used to demonstrate perjury by Trump himself.”
“If Cohen contradicts what Trump said — under oath — in his answers to Mueller, that could spell very bad news for the president: If Trump’s answers to Mueller under oath are proven demonstrably false, it leaves the president open to accusations of perjury.”
“Trump and Giuliani have claimed that they are exercising caution because they don’t want to give Mueller and his team of prosecutors the opportunity to snare Trump in a ‘perjury trap.'”
“If Trump’s written responses contradict Cohen’s version of events, Mueller would probably have additional evidence to show that Trump lied. That’s a big if, as we have no idea what Trump said in his answers. Still, this means that if Trump gets hit with perjury allegations, it would be based on evidence, not a trap.”
Bottom line: all that is between you and big pile of dirty, filthy money is the moment when someone connected to the White House becomes an additional source confirming Trump’s written answers were under oath.
As for Cohen snitching, you can expect the major news story of the next few weeks to heavily involve an analysis and comparison between the sworn testimony of Trump, Jr., Cohen, and…wait for it…the sworn, written answers from Trump. How many times do you think Trump and Giuliani will use the phrase “perjury trap” when discussing Trump’s written answers during the next two weeks’ news cycle? And once again, why would they be worried about “perjury” if Trump hadn’t given sworn testimony in the first place?
Still need more? Not satisfied? Think the news media narrative will die down after a few weeks and move on to greener pastures? Think again, Trump’s written answers are almost certain to be front and center as the primary news story within the next 10 days for the following reason.
Does anyone really believe that a debate on whether or not Trump should answer more Mueller follow up questions will not reference the fact that his original answers were under oath?
HOW WILL THIS MARKET RESOLVE?
KEENDAWG: If you ask me, there still isn’t enough to satisfy the strictest possible interpretation of PredictIt’s rules, which basically require Sarah Huckabee Sanders to announce “sworn testimony” in the White House press room, or for President Trump to hire a Cessna plane to drag a banner that reads, “I gave Bob Mueller testimony under oath” across the Beltway sky.
However, I’m still holding my YES shares for the same reason that I think PredictIt hasn’t settled this market — because there is probably a more “on the nose” confirmation coming from the White House between now and the end of year. That might be an angry tweet from Trump, or it might be a legal filing from his defense team. So I’m not dumping my shares, but I’m not telling you to get into this marketplace if you aren’t already. It’s a spin of the roulette wheel at this point.
As for Zoltar, his opinion is a little more strident. He sent me this text to tell me how he thinks the Will Trump Testify in 2018 market ends:
I dunno. We report, you decide.