On Wednesday, President Donald Trump’s former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, was sentenced to three years in jail for his role in a hush-money scheme involving two of Trump’s former mistresses.
On the same day, prosecutors announced that they had reached a deal with National Enquirer publisher American Media, which had made one of the payments in a so-called “catch and kill” deal to buy the woman’s story and not publish it.
According to prosecutors, “AMI admitted that it made the $150,000 payment in concert with a candidate’s presidential campaign, and in order to ensure that the woman did not publicize damaging allegations about the candidate before the 2016 presidential election.”
CNN legal analyst Laura Coates discussed this development, and why it may be a big problem for Trump.
“Remember, David Pecker, who is the head of AMI, got immunity to testify around the time Michael Cohen plead guilty to these charges about campaign finance contributions,” she said. “It was David Pecker with AMI whose name was mentioned in that now notorious secret recording with Michael Cohen… What would have been the incentive for a prosecutor to give them immunity? If what they’re telling you is what Michael Cohen has done is a violation of the law. If he acted in concert with them, what valuable information could they have provided that would incentivize a plea deal.”
Coates said that this development should be “very troubling for Donald Trump.”
“Knowing that David Pecker has been a close friend for many years, has been a guest on his plane to and from Mar-A-Lago, has, according to Michael Cohen, helped with this over the years,” she said.
Coates was asked about the fact that Democrats on Capitol Hill do not seem eager to make a big deal out of Trump’s involvement in campaign finance violations, and said that she didn’t read much into it.
“These [crimes] that Michael Cohen plead guilty to are felonies,” she said. “If you look at it on the criminal side it’s quite serious.”
WATCH: Pete Buttigieg surges to first place in ‘gold standard’ poll of Iowa caucuses
South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg surged in a poll of Iowa released Saturday night.
The poll, by Des Moines Register, CNN and Mediacom, showed major movement in the race.
"Since September, Buttigieg has risen 16 percentage points among Iowa’s likely Democratic caucusgoers, with 25% now saying he is their first choice for president. For the first time in the Register’s Iowa Poll, he bests rivals Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, who are now clustered in competition for second place and about 10 percentage points behind the South Bend, Indiana, mayor," the newspaper reported.
Holmes’ testimony shows Trump lied about his relationship with embattled Ambassador Sondland: ex-FBI agent
On CNN Saturday, former FBI special agent Asha Rangappa noted that State Department aide David Holmes' testimony does not just make a liar of EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland for claiming he wasn't aware of any plot to extort Ukraine with military aid, it also makes a liar out of President Donald Trump for suggesting he had barely even interacted with Sondland in the first place.
"What does all of this mean when we look ahead to the space that Sondland, Ambassador Sondland is in, and what he's going to say on Wednesday?" asked anchor Christi Paul.
"Yeah, so Holmes is really important because he has firsthand knowledge of this call," said Rangappa. "He was sitting there and he heard — he overheard this conversation. I just want to emphasize that, because one of the big objections that the Republicans have had is that everything has been hearsay. So we are getting closer to getting firsthand corroboration and information."
Sondland is in ‘a world of trouble’ after Holmes revelations: Ex-White House adviser
On CNN Saturday, David Guy, the former special impeachment adviser to President Bill Clinton, told anchor Christi Paul that President Donald Trump's angry tweet against Marie Yovanovitch, and State Department aide David Holmes' new testimony that he overheard President Donald Trump talking to EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland about military aide, are huge problems for both the president and Sondland.
"I'm wondering, did you see that tweet as she was testifying, the tweet from the president, as President Trump kind of sabotaging himself?" asked Paul.