Tuesday on Fox News Channel’s “Hannity,” conservative talker and legal expert Mark Levin criticized the plea deal Michael Cohen made with the prosecutor for the Southern District of New York regarding campaign finance law violations.
Levin argued Cohen pled guilty to the charge despite them not being offenses and at the behest of the prosecutor who insisted they were offenses.
Partial transcript as follows:
HANNITY: All right, Mark, I mean, there are some lessons here. I agree that you shouldn’t lie to the FBI. Everyone agrees with that. I also agree that you should pay your taxes. I also agree that you better not lie on a bank loan application. Mark, how did we get from Russia and that this is it after nearly, we are almost at 500 days.
LEVIN: All right. I want to address Michael Cohen. How did we get to that? I want to help the law professors, the constitutional experts, the criminal defense lawyers, the former prosecutors and of course, the professors. I want to help them understand what the law is.
The general counsel for the Clinton mob family, Lanny Davis, he had his client pleaded two counts of criminality that don’t exist. These campaign finance violations that is all over TV, they are saying implicates the president of the United States directly.
First, let’s back up. It is a guilty plea. It is a plea bargain between a prosecutor and a criminal. A criminal who doesn’t want to spend the rest of his life in prison. That is not precedent. That applies only to that specific case. Nobody cites plea bargains for precedent. That’s number one.
Number two, just because a prosecutor says that somebody violated a campaign law doesn’t make it so. He is not the judge. He is not the jury. We didn’t adjudicate anything. It never went to court. That’s number two.
A campaign expenditure under our federal campaign laws is an expenditure solely for campaign activity. A candidate who spends his own money or even corporate money for an event that occurred not as a result of the campaign, it is not a campaign expenditure.
Let me give a few examples to help people understand this, especially the American people. Let’s say, I wrote these down. Let’s say a candidate had said we owe vendors a whole lot of money. We’ve had disputes with them. But I want you to go ahead and pay them. I’m a candidate, I don’t want all this negative publicity.
So he says to his private lawyer, you pay them, I’ll reimburse you, get it done. Is that illegal? It’s perfectly legal.
Yet according to the prosecution of the Southern District of New York it’s paid at the direction of the candidate to influence the election. Yes, Mr. Prosecutor, how stupid is your point? It’s not a crime.
More, let’s say that this candidate settles a lawsuit that was initiated before he becomes a candidate. And he says to his personal lawyer, I want you to pay, settle that lawsuit. You can use my corporate funds, my private funds, whatever it is. That is perfectly legal, too.
The prosecutor would say, but that influenced the election. So what? There are certain things you do that influence an election that are legal and certain things you do to influence an election that are illegal.
Let’s say a candidate gets a non-disclosure agreement from a disgruntled employee, and he wants to quiet that disgruntled employee as he goes into the election. He pays the funds out of his pocket or through his corporation. Perfectly legal.
Nothing here was spent out of the campaign. Nothing was done with the campaign or to the campaign. This is exactly what the federal law is.
And Mr. Lanny Davis had his client plead guilty to two offenses that aren’t offenses that the prosecutor insisted were offenses. That’s why he is no good. That is Michael Cohen against Donald Trump.
Donald Trump is in the clear. Let’s say Donald Trump even directed Michael Cohen to make payments in non-disclosure agreements. So what? He is allowed to do that.
Now, here’s my question. Has the Southern District of New York ever paid money in a non-disclosure agreement with any of its employees? How about any U.S. attorney’s office in the United States? How about the Department of Justice? How about any business?
HANNITY: Or Congress.
LEVIN: How about any union? How about the DNC? How about a member of Congress? It’s done all the time. It is all hush money. And all of this hush money, they can’t pay hush money. Well, it is hush money. It’s legal. It’s a contract. It’s done all the time.
Now, what does Mr. Mueller have left? It’s worked. He is chasing the Manhattan madam. Who the hell is the Manhattan madam? I don’t know. And how is he interviewing? He is dragging her in front of the grand jury.
What’s next? The Manhattan madam. He’s got — he’s got Manafort where he wants him on banking charges, he set up a few guys like Flynn who has gotten in trouble. Now they have Cohen. What do they have? They have nothing. I’ll tell you what they have.
Mr. Mueller as a federal prosecutor is preparing his impeachment report which is an unconstitutional activity. Mr. Mueller is supposed to be non-political. He is not supposed to preparing impeachment report.
Mr. Mueller, I told you before, you can’t indict a sitting president. I told you that 15 months ago. Now you figured it out. You and Rosenstein figured it out. Now you and Rosenstein are trying to figure out what to do with the subpoena.
You see, Sean, Giuliani was on your show the other day or somebody’s show and said why do they take two or three weeks? I’ll tell you why they take two or three weeks. Because Mr. Mueller has to consult Mr. Rosenstein, his boss, to figure out what to do with the subpoena.
I’ll tell you what happens when they issue that subpoena. The president of the United States takes it all the way to the Supreme Court. And what does he cite? Department of Justice memos. What else does he cite? The Constitution of the United States.
So this is going to be an impeachment battle in the end. The president of the United States if he doesn’t get involved in the perjury trap — think about that. They don’t have a crime. He needs this interview to create a crime against the president of the United States. This prosecutor.
Well, that’s pretty damn outrageous. So, in any event, I want the news media to understand. You know what took place in the Southern District of New York? Nothing that matters. Zippo.
HANNITY: You know what, Mark?
LEVIN: There was no violation of the federal campaign laws. Lanny Davis blew it. Lanny Davis — Lanny Davis he puts out a tweet today. “Today, Cohen stood up and testified under oath that Donald Trump directed him to commit a crime.”
You are a dummy, Lanny.
“By making payments to two women for the principal purpose of influencing an election. If those payments were a crime for Michael Cohen then why wouldn’t they be a crime for Donald Trump?”
They weren’t a crime for Michael Cohen. He screwed himself. And they’re not a crime for Donald Trump either. Now move along and go back into your corner with Hillary Clinton.
Follow Jeff Poor on Twitter @jeff_poor