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."
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?"
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.
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.
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.
As of Tuesday evening, the President had yet to officially respond to Cohen's plea deal or Lanny Davis' statements.