The phrase unindicted co-conspirator gained traction on social media Tuesday. It even appeared in the responses to the latest Twitter post from President Donald Trump about his upcoming rally in West Virginia.
People speculated Trump's one-time personal lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen, implicated the President when he pleaded guilty to eight charges: five charges of felony tax evasion, two counts of campaign finance violations and one count of bank fraud. The guilty plea came as part of a deal with federal prosecutors in New York on Tuesday.
If the campaign finance violations in particular involved the 2016 presidential campaign of Donald Trump, the President became an unindicted co-conspirator in the crimes to which Cohen pleaded guilty. Pundits and the public alike bandied about theories and possible scenarios.
But Cohen's attorney Lanny Davis took to Twitter around 6:00pm EST and removed all doubt. First he explained why his client took the actions he did Tuesday in federal court.
"Michael Cohen took this step today so that his family can move on to the next chapter. This is Michael fulfilling his promise made on July 2nd to put his family and country first and tell the truth about Donald Trump."
Michael Cohen took this step today so that his family can move on to the next chapter. This is Michael fulfilling… https://t.co/XCHrFnblZh— Lanny Davis (@Lanny Davis)1534889158.0
Then Davis asked a question many others find themselves contemplating Tuesday night when he stated:
"Today he stood up and testified under oath that Donald Trump directed him to commit a crime 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?"
Today he stood up and testified under oath that Donald Trump directed him to commit a crime by making payments to t… https://t.co/Z305VwuoK7— Lanny Davis (@Lanny Davis)1534889170.0
Donald Trump remained conspicuously mum on the subject of Cohen as he deplaned Air Force One in West Virginia Tuesday evening. Trump expressed regret that Manafort's situation ended the way it did saying "I feel very badly for Paul Manafort," while asserting the verdict had "nothing to do with" him.
Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani issued an official statement on the Cohen plea deal. He claimed:
"There is no allegation of any wrongdoing against the President in the government’s charges against Mr. Cohen. It is clear that, as the prosecutor noted, Mr. Cohen’s actions reflect a pattern of lies and dishonesty over a significant period of time."
According to the man actually at the Cohen proceedings today, his lawyer Lanny Davis, Giuliani's statement is almost exactly opposite of what happened. But Giuliani also famously said "truth isn't truth." Giuliani also called Cohen "an honest, honorable lawyer" in May.
Social media pounced on the question of Trump's possible status as an unindicted co-conspirator as the following reactions to Davis' statements and directed at the President himself show.
According to Bill Palmer of The Palmer Report, "most political analysts... were left to conclude that Michael Cohen had formally accused Donald Trump of a crime, thus making Trump an unindicted co-conspirator." Palmer was not alone in that assessment on social media.
@LannyDavis Could an unindicted co-conspirator pardon a defendant named in the same case or would that be considered witness tampering?— Marilynn Kimball (@Marilynn Kimball)1534889430.0
@LannyDavis https://t.co/1fWOlBOKp1— ⚜️NOLADT ✊🏿 (@⚜️NOLADT ✊🏿)1534889815.0
@LannyDavis It is being reported that if he were not the POTUS, he would have been charged immediately following Co… https://t.co/qd1m2PKFRi— 𝓢𝓶𝓪𝓵𝓵1𝓛𝓭𝔂 "Just The Facts Ma'am" (@𝓢𝓶𝓪𝓵𝓵1𝓛𝓭𝔂 "Just The Facts Ma'am")1534889425.0
@heywood3 @LannyDavis As I stated to another poster, for some there is no bottom line in which they will view him n… https://t.co/uki5rqFlvA— 𝓢𝓶𝓪𝓵𝓵1𝓛𝓭𝔂 "Just The Facts Ma'am" (@𝓢𝓶𝓪𝓵𝓵1𝓛𝓭𝔂 "Just The Facts Ma'am")1534892696.0
But some are pointing fingers at the Republican Party, especially Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for enabling and being complicit.
@LannyDavis You are absolutely correct! However, Trump is not the issue nor the problem. Rather, it is the GOP et a… https://t.co/GND1VJ5jgN— WestlakeWifee™¸.✫¨´` (@WestlakeWifee™¸.✫¨´`)1534890764.0
@LannyDavis Live from Republican national headquarters: https://t.co/NhyGHRehzQ— Firefly, Rufus T. (@Firefly, Rufus T.)1534890206.0
@LannyDavis @lindyk20 It’s time to start speaking up against Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan. They signed an oath to… https://t.co/ld4kQUKE64— PLS578 (@PLS578)1534889740.0
The responses directly to the President on Twitter were extremely harsh following the news Cohen implicated him in a crime. More than a few invoked Hillary Clinton.
@realDonaldTrump https://t.co/0ewsLlUIhb— Stephanie Rushton (@Stephanie Rushton)1534896599.0
@realDonaldTrump #LockThemUp #LockHimUp Trump's "best people". These are are the lowlifes Donald Trump surrounds… https://t.co/xUKRaksTaB— M🍑45 (@M🍑45)1534896711.0
@realDonaldTrump I like presidents who don't have people around them getting arrested every day for multiple crimes.— Denise (@Denise)1534895848.0
@realDonaldTrump https://t.co/2SDajpghBb— MFM008 (@MFM008)1534895854.0
@realDonaldTrump Have fun getting your ignorant, racist, base of #MAGAts all fired up! They're all you have now, lo… https://t.co/Xc81LtO90G— Brett Catchings #VetsResistSquadron (@Brett Catchings #VetsResistSquadron)1534896757.0
@realDonaldTrump https://t.co/C46yjMOBcr— LynnZ (@LynnZ)1534895630.0
@realDonaldTrump https://t.co/TyZj3IOnCa— 🌊Queen of the Resistance🌊 (@🌊Queen of the Resistance🌊)1534888174.0
@realDonaldTrump Let's just get this straight what just happened, Michael Cohen just testified under oath that you… https://t.co/ZlltqER1pP— IMPEACH BENEDICT DONALD NOW! (@IMPEACH BENEDICT DONALD NOW!)1534889730.0
@realDonaldTrump https://t.co/iWnBmlsmhY— jsweeney (@jsweeney)1534895075.0
@realDonaldTrump Dear Mr. Secretary: I hereby resign the Office of the President of the United States. Sincerely,… https://t.co/XJeu38GeNv— (((Ghost Cat 🇺🇸 🌈🐾))) (@(((Ghost Cat 🇺🇸 🌈🐾))))1534894917.0
As of Tuesday evening, the President had yet to officially respond to Cohen's plea deal or Lanny Davis' statements.