It's a very big deal. Yes, we knew that Pecker had flipped, but there are two important things about the news on Wednesday. The first is that it's one thing to know that someone is a cooperating witness, but it's another thing entirely to have his actual testimony in writing and on the record. And the second is that, while we knew he would be cooperating, we didn't know what exactly he was going to say. For all anyone knew, he could have just testified that Michael Cohen paid him $400,000 in hush money to bury a story. For Pecker to sear in court, though, that he acted specifically in concert with the Trump campaign in order to impact the election is huge. It directly ties the Trump campaign to a major illegal act of fraud.
What my friend still didn't follow, however, was why even that was such big news, since it was merely just connected somewhat amorphously to The Campaign. But that's where earlier news comes into play, that Trump's long-time accountant for the Trump Organization, Allen Weisselberg, is also a cooperating witness. A few years earlier, Weisselberg testified in court (in another case unrelated to this) that there are only four people authorized to write checks at the Trump Organization, other than himself -- Trump, his three children Don Jr., Ivanka, and Eric. Which means that one of them had to have approved writing a check for $400,000 to commit election fraud. And now, here is Weisselberg cooperating with the Special Counsel to go into detail about the hush money paid to David Pecker at AMI Media.
My friend was beginning to get it though still was curious about which one of those five would have authorized the payment of hush money. First of all, that's just a momentary detail of curiosity because it's clearly one of the many things Weisselberg has been cooperating about, and Mueller knows already even if the public doesn't yet. More to the point, it would be improbable that Allen Weisselberg would make such a decision entirely on his own to pay hush money, so that leaves the four Trumps, which would be so damning to the Trump Organization and campaign whoever it was. That said, though, it seems profoundly unlikely that the three children would authorize payment of $400,000 to cover up affairs between their father and a porn actress and also a Playboy model. That leaves Trump himself as who most of anybody would want to keep it all quiet and approve paying the money. And we have him on tape with Michael Cohen talking about it.
And that's the hole that Trump now finds himself in. You have his longtime friend, David Pecker, head of AMI Media, admitting in court that he received $400,000 in hush money to bury a story that would be damaging to the Trump campaign. You also have Trump's longtime lawyer, Michael Cohen, admitting in court that he was the middleman for getting and paying the $400,000 in hush money to Pecker -- at the direction of Trump. And so that leaves the only options for Trump to either a) admit it or b) say it's not true, they're lying, it didn't happen. I think we have a pretty good idea which one he's going with. After all, he's been denying it since Day One. The problem, of course, is that now it's not only "he said, THEY said" -- but for him to deny it is likely to destroy all his remaining few wisps of credibility. Yes, his most blindly-loyal acolytes will believe him against everyone. The problem is that most other sentient humans will grasp reality.
And what is Trump going to do? Fall back on his standard "I don't really know David Pecker and Allen Weisselberg, I hardly ever did any business with them. They're pretty much low-level incompetents and also known liars. I only passed along some occasional work to them because they did a favor for me many years ago"? This isn't even a case of "caught between a rock and a hard place." This is just...caught.
The thing is, as horrible as all that was for Trump yesterday, the day was even worse. That's because the newly-elected New York state Attorney General Letitia James announced that she will be using her office to go after Trump, the Trump Organization and the Trump Foundation for...well, just about everything. As she's noted, it was one of her campaign promises. And any crimes she uncovers -- and it's difficult not to suspect there are mounds of them, since we largely know about many -- are all outside the protection of a presidential pardon. And as big as these "organizations" and "foundations" sound, the reality is that they're pretty small, just family businesses run by Trump, Don Jr, Ivanka and Eric. So, if any state crimes are found ("if" is used here out of decorum...), then those responsible will be named "Trump."
And as big and terrible a news day as this was for Trump, it isn't "the smoking gun" that unravels everything, this is just the door opening a crack. So, imagine what's behind that door. The deluge is coming. Keep in mind, David Pecker and Allen Weisselberg are almost certainly not just testifying about the payment of hush money to two women. After all, Pecker got a cooperation deal with no jail time, and Weisselberg likely will, as well. They have been close to Trump and worked with him for many years. To get their deals, they are almost guaranteed to be testifying about it ALL.
And then there's the results from the rest of the 18-month (so far) Mueller investigation...
To paraphrase the ad line for Alien -- in the Republican Party, they can hear you scream.