The Russian Connection fully exposed

It’s the new Washington version of the drinking game. One chug for every time you say: How would Republicans react if Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaMake Trump own the shutdown over his ill-advised border wall Missing: Fiscal sanity in Washington Overnight Energy: Oil giant supports carbon tax push | Poll finds majorities in both parties back Green New Deal | NJ moves to rejoin regional climate pact MORE had done something like that?

Ready to play? What if Barack Obama had admitted to paying a porn star $130,000 to keep quiet about an affair? What if Obama had dispatched 15,000 troops to the border as a political stunt? What if Obama had refused to condemn a Saudi prince for ordering the murder of a journalist who lived in the United States? What if Barack Obama was too lazy to go to Arlington National Cemetery on Veterans Day? The list goes on and on. Seriously, if we played that game, we’d all be drunk as skunks.

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And here’s the latest: What if Barack Obama, while campaigning for president, refused to say anything critical about a sworn enemy of the United States because, at the very same time, he was negotiating with that dictator to build a new hotel in his country? Can you imagine? Republicans would have begun congressional hearings faster than you could say “Benghazi.”

But that is, in fact, the latest bombshell to drop from Michael Cohen, Trump’s former longtime personal attorney. In pleading guilty for lying to Congress last week, Cohen spilled the beans. As he outlined, for the first six months of 2016, Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpREAD: Transcript of James Comey's interview with House Republicans Klobuchar on 2020: ‘I do think you want voices from the Midwest’ Israel boycott fight roils Democrats in year-end spending debate MORE was operating on two parallel tracks. On the public track, he was running for president. On the private track, he was working with Vladimir Putin to finalize a deal he’d been pursuing for three decades: building a new, 100-story Trump Tower in Moscow. Michael Cohen was his middle man.

There’s nothing wrong with a developer trying to launch a new project. Except in this case, Cohen lied to Congress about how long and how deeply both he and Trump, aka “Individual 1,” were involved in the Moscow negotiations. While on the campaign trail, Trump repeatedly lied about having any business interests in Russia whatsoever and praised Putin as a strong leader, pressing for warmer relations between the United States and Russia, and calling for an end to economic sanctions the Obama administration had imposed on Russia for interfering in the 2016 election.

No sooner had Cohen signed his guilty plea than Trump — who’d praised Cohen in April as a “good guy” — attacked him on Twitter as a “weak person” who was just trying to lessen the amount of time he’d have to spend in federal prison. He himself did nothing wrong, Trump tweeted: “There was a good chance I wouldn’t have won … so why should I lose lots of opportunity?”

Which, of course, raises the obvious question: If Trump was doing nothing wrong, why did both he and Michael Cohen lie about it? Let’s be honest. Cohen’s guilty plea is devastating for Donald Trump because, for the first time, it connects the dots between the Mueller investigation into Donald Trump and the New York U.S. attorney’s office’s case against Michael Cohen. And Cohen is cooperating with both.

As related by Cohen: While he was running for president in 2016 and praising Vladimir Putin, and while Russian agents were actively interfering in that campaign to undermine Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonRoger Stone fundraising off promise not to testify against Trump Rivaling chants of 'USA,' 'lock him up' greet Flynn after sentencing hearing The Hill's 12:30 Report — Flynn awaits sentencing | White House signals it wants to avoid shutdown MORE, Trump himself, working through Cohen and Russian agent Felix Sater, was simultaneously negotiating with Putin’s agents for a billion-dollar new hotel in Moscow — which included the gift of a $50 million penthouse for Putin. You want evidence of collusion with Russia? There it is.

During the 2016 campaign, we all wondered why Trump was slobbering all over Vladimir Putin. Now we know.

Press is host of “The Bill Press Show” on Free Speech TV and author of “From the Left: A Life in the Crossfire.”