The TAKE with Rick Klein
Two former top aides to President Donald Trump played opposite sides of the loyalty card to the same stunning conclusion: guilty pronouncements in federal court.
But that won’t be the final word – not even close.
Perhaps the most mind-blowing hour of the Trump presidency brought anything but finality to the legal sagas surrounding the Trump presidency.
By far the most damaging revelations come courtesy of Michael Cohen. He pleaded guilty to crimes he admits to committing while serving as the president’s personal attorney, and in the closing weeks of the 2016 campaign.
Trump’s pit bull and longtime fixer, his lawyer says, implicated the president in the commission of a felony in open court. Cohen’s plea agreement also states that he acted “at the request and suggestion of one or more members of the campaign.”
Forget the focus in recent weeks on whether Trump will talk with Robert Mueller’s team. The people closest to the president continue to talk plenty loud on his behalf.
The RUNDOWN with MaryAlice Parks
The accusations lobbed against the president’s team from Cohen bring with them serious questions about consequences.
What happens – or what should happen – when a president or a president’s campaign is mentioned in the same context as the details of a crime?
While the country grapples with that, Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign manager, is already facing serious and tangible consequences in the form of jail time for crimes he was convicted of Tuesday.
The president continues to call the special counsel’s work a ‘witch hunt,’ but it is now a hunt that has landed guilty verdicts and pleas.
Manafort was found guilty for misleading the government and evading taxes. While none of those charges had to do with the president or his campaign, they carry significant time behind bars.
Considering the gravity of the offenses, and the fact that President Trump has presented himself as tough on crime politically, it was surprising to hear him continue to defend Manafort and downplay the charges, saying he felt “badly” for his former adviser.
While the jurors were torn on some counts facing Manafort — they did all agree to convict on eight counts, after all.
The TIP with Trish Turner
As eight guilty counts against him were read Tuesday afternoon, Paul Manafort — made to stand and face the jury of six men and six women — stared expressionless. Two female jurors turned their chairs toward him and appeared to look angry, a change from their normally sunny demeanor.
Manafort’s wife, Kathleen, showed no emotion, staring straight ahead, nodding her head only slightly as a friend comfortingly stroked her arm.
When the jury left the room, Judge T.S. Ellis showed a rare moment of emotion. Throughout the trial, tensions had run high. Unexpected threats against him prompted marshals to protect him outside the courthouse. He addressed criticism of his combative demeanor during the trial. “We all take brickbats in life,” Ellis said, recalling his comment during the trial that he is a “Caesar” in his “own Rome.”
“Even in my own Rome, I was far less supreme than Caesar,” Ellis told those gathered — mostly journalists.
His voice cracked as he complimented both legal teams. “Mr. Manafort received very effective and zealous counsel. That’s not a statement I make as often as I would like to,” he said.
As Manafort was led away by two marshals, he looked at his wife and winked.
And with that, he left for jail — where he will await not only sentencing in Virginia, but also a separate trial in next month in Washington, D.C.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“It doesn’t involve me but I still feel – you know, it’s a very sad thing that happened – this has nothing to do with Russian collusion.” – President Trump’s first response to his former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, being found guilty on eight counts in his tax fraud trial.
ABC News’ “Start Here” Podcast. Wednesday morning’s episode features a look at yesterday’s dramatic developments in the Paul Manafort trial, and what Michael Cohen’s guilty pleas mean for President Trump. And, ABC News Chief Business and Economics correspondent Rebecca Jarvis takes stock of the economy after 9 straight years of a bull market. https://bit.ly/2Ohkpz8
ABC News’ “Powerhouse Politics” Podcast. GOP campaign strategist Rick Wilson joins ABC News’ political director Rick Klein and Washington correspondent Karen Travers to discuss his new book about the party he served for decades and Trump, who he calls the “worst president ever.” https://bit.ly/2w091jE
FiveThirtyEight’s “Politics Podcast”: What Do Cohen’s Plea And Manafort’s Verdict Mean For Trump? In an emergency installment of the FiveThirtyEight Politics Podcast, the crew assesses what Michael Cohen and Paul Manafort’s legal troubles mean for President Trump. https://53eig.ht/2MNlIrk
NEED TO READ
Manafort found guilty on 8 counts in tax fraud trial. After nearly four days of deliberation, a jury found former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort guilty on eight counts of financial crimes, marking the first major prosecution won by special counsel Robert Mueller in his investigation of Russian meddling during the 2016 election. (Pierre Thomas, Trish Turner, Allison Pecorin, Katherine Faulders and Benjamin Siegel) https://abcn.ws/2nZNDWZ
3 key scenes from Paul Manafort’s trial. The judge, the jacket and the testimony of Manafort’s close business associate Rick Gates all stoked interest during the first significant trial to spring from Mueller’s ongoing investigation. (Meghan Keneally) https://abcn.ws/2Pte6sH
Michael Cohen, Trump’s former longtime personal attorney, pleads guilty to illegal campaign contributions ‘at the direction of a candidate for federal office.’ The former longtime fixer and personal attorney for Donald Trump appeared in federal court in New York Tuesday afternoon, pleaded guilty to eight counts and said that he made illegal campaign contributions “in coordination and at the direction of a candidate for federal office.” (George Stephanopoulos, Eliana Larramendia, Matthew Mosk, James Hill, Mike Levine and Lauren Pearle) https://abcn.ws/2MFinuy
Facebook removes hundreds of pages, groups and accounts linked to ‘inauthentic behavior’ in Russia, Iran. Facebook said on Tuesday it’s “removed multiple pages, groups and accounts” linked to “inauthentic behavior” on its platforms, including actions that originated in Russia and in Iran. (Justin Doom) https://abcn.ws/2w3WhZ1
Gordon, Throne will face off in Wyoming gubernatorial race; Dunleavy projected as GOP gov candidate in Alaska. Voters in Alaska and Wyoming headed to the polls Tuesday, and gubernatorial races took center stage in both low-profile states. (John Verhovek) https://abcn.ws/2nSOSr9
Republican Congressman Duncan Hunter indicted. Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., and his wife, Margaret E. Hunter, were indicted by a federal grand jury in San Diego Tuesday on charges that they converted more than $250,000 in campaign funds to pay for personal expenses and filed false campaign finance records with the Federal Election Commission. (Mike Levine and Benjamin Siegel) https://abcn.ws/2MrMnuJ
Trump set to posthumously award Medal of Honor to airman who saved teammates from al-Qaeda attack. Chapman will be just the 19th airman to be awarded the Medal of Honor since the creation of the Air Force in 1947, and the first airman to receive the award for actions occurring since the Vietnam War. (Sarah Kolinovsky) https://abcn.ws/2nXXD31
President Trump attacks ESPN, touts support from coal miners in West Virginia rally. While Trump initially didn’t directly mention Paul Manafort or Michael Cohen, at one point he spoke of the Russia investigation repeatedly asking the crowd: “Where is the collusion?!” (Alexander Mallin) https://abcn.ws/2w4CPvf
Politicizing Russia threat ‘most dangerous thing in the world we can do’: US Diplomat. The top U.S. diplomat for Europe is also warning that Russia is attempting “to break apart the American republic” and that making that threat about U.S. politics “would be a gift to Putin.” (Conor Finnegan) https://abcn.ws/2BGdJs6
Larry Kudlow says he ‘didn’t know’ birthday party guest was publisher of white nationalist commentary. National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow, the top economic adviser to President Trump, confirms a Washington Post report that he hosted at his home last weekend a controversial publisher linked to white nationalist commentary. (Devin Dwyer and Tara Palmeri) https://abcn.ws/2N5XxBj
Judge throws out defamation lawsuit against Christopher Steele over dossier. A judge in Washington, D.C., has thrown out a lawsuit against former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele, who had been sued by Russian oligarchs claiming he defamed them in his dossier about the Trump campaign’s alleged links with Russia. (Julia MacFarlane) https://abcn.ws/2nVWCsh
Collins says Kavanaugh told her Roe v. Wade is ‘settled law.’ After meeting with Judge Brett Kavanaugh for two hours Tuesday, Sen. Susan Collins, a Maine Republican and a key swing vote on the Supreme Court nominee, said he told her he believes the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision in favor of abortion rights is “settled law.” (Ali Rogin) https://abcn.ws/2BxTAnP
“It took me around 10 minutes to crash the upcoming midterm elections,” 17-year-old hacker River O’Connor, who recently shut down a replica of state election websites at a hacking convention in Las Vegas, writes in POLITICO Magazine. “And I’m not even a very good hacker.” https://politi.co/2w0v5dV
In 2015, Trump’s security team was involved in a scuffle outside Trump Tower that sent a protester to the hospital. Those demonstrators, who went to protest then-candidate Trump’s comments that their home country of Mexico was sending rapists and murders, got a win Tuesday when a New York judge denied Trump’s motion to dismiss the charges, the Washington Post reports. https://wapo.st/2MnKT4B
The Note is a daily ABC News feature that highlights the key political moments of the day ahead. Please check back tomorrow for the latest.