Here are five questions to help you get caught up — and look ahead.
1. Did Trump know about the Trump Tower meeting?
For a while there on Monday morning — and not for the first time — Rudolph W. Giuliani seemed to be paving the way for us to learn that Trump actually did know about the Russia meeting. He denied that Trump had physically attended either that meeting or another alleged meeting a couple of days before. And he sought to emphasize that even if there was collusion, it wouldn't have been illegal.
Then Giuliani took to Fox News to clear up a few things. He again flatly denied both that Trump knew about the meeting beforehand and that Trump and the campaign colluded. “It’s a very, very familiar lawyer's argument [to say], 'My client didn’t do it and even if he did it, it’s not a crime,'” Giuliani explained.
That may be so, but we have seen countless examples of the Trump team walking back previous, ironclad denials when it comes to meeting with Russians and other related topics. This would have been merely the latest example of moving the goal posts and narrowing of the scope of what would constitute wrongdoing. Giuliani, like many in Trump's orbit, seems to be constantly guarding against Trump not being forthcoming with him, even saying last week that Trump knowing about the Trump Tower meeting would not be “a smoking gun.”
Given all of that — and given Giuliani can't be completely omniscient — it's difficult for him to completely foreclose the possibility that Trump knew. Cohen is reportedly sure enough to say that others can corroborate his story, so it's not like he's just relaying a one-on-one conversation. He's putting himself on the line here, too.
Whether Trump has lied about perhaps the central event in the collusion probe — and one of a few central events in the obstruction of justice probe — is probably the biggest question right now, given the doubt Cohen has injected into it and the importance it would carry in both investigations.
2. What — exactly — is Cohen actually alleging?
One of the unfortunate parts of this debate is that we still don't know exactly what Cohen is alleging — firsthand, at least. That's because, unlike the tape that his lawyer Lanny Davis handed to CNN and then discussed on-air last week, Cohen's team isn't on the record here. We're basically relying on secondhand reports about what Cohen says he has on Trump.
That's not ideal. There's less accountability when it comes to parsing exactly what Cohen is alleging. For example, Giuliani claimed Monday that Cohen's team had leaked to reporters about a meeting a couple of days before the Trump Tower meeting at which Trump's knowledge of the meeting was allegedly discussed. Giuliani said that earlier meeting didn't happen, but he's shooting down a report that we didn't even know was in the air.
Until Cohen or Davis come forward and actually talk about this, we're in a much more uncertain debate. We may not have seen the last word on precisely what Cohen says happened.
3. What did he tell Congress about the same topic?
One of the thickest subplots for Cohen here is whether he's been consistent. He has already spoken with the Senate Intelligence Committee, but that was in late 2017, when he wasn't so antagonistic toward his former boss. And it's virtually guaranteed he was asked about the Trump Tower meeting, given how central it is to this whole thing.
When Cohen does speak publicly, it's likely he'll have to eventually square what he said back then with what he's saying today — if not go back to the committee to clear up some things.
4. What is Cohen's end game?
This is the question that seems to loom over all of this. The prevailing theory is that Cohen is angling for a plea deal or a pardon, but his actions would actually seem counterproductive on both fronts. Virtually no lawyer will advise you to publicly release evidence if you want to cut a deal — prosecutors generally keep such evidence under wraps as long as they can — and a pardon from Trump at this point would look clearly politically motivated.
A third, even-more-conspiratorial option is that Cohen is trying to blow himself up as a witness — knowing he'll be at the center of all of this and that he's basically dead-to-rights when it comes to his own legal problems. Going rogue, the theory goes, he makes himself into a unreliable and untrustworthy source. But that doesn't make sense from a self-preservation standpoint, and the stuff he's disclosing isn't particularly helpful to Trump right now.
5. What does Weisselberg know?
This got overshadowed last week because more Cohen news broke shortly afterward, but the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that longtime Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg had been subpoenaed. The news came shortly after “Allen” was mentioned twice on that Trump-Cohen tape. Cohen said on the tape that “Allen” had offered advice on how to set up a company to buy the rights to Karen McDougal's story of an alleged affair with Trump.
As I noted at the time, Weisselberg probably knows significantly more about the ins and outs of Trumpworld — and especially its finances — than Cohen ever has. He has been around for decades longer than Cohen and has even been reported to handle Trump's personal finances and tax returns.
Of course, we don't have any indication that Weisselberg, like Cohen, is in legal trouble, so it's not like there is an indication that he'll flip. That said, being under subpoena means you have to answer questions unless you claim your Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. Having an excuse to subpoena Weisselberg could be a big moment in this whole saga, and it also suggests the scope of the whole thing is even bigger than we realized.
“The subpoena is significant because it indicates that the probe encompasses the welter of transactions done under the umbrella of the Trump Organization, with possible criminal liability for the organization itself,” former Justice Department official Harry Litman told me last week. “Moreover, it means investigation into possible abuse of the organizational structure to serve Trump’s personal purposes.”
Another anonymous individual told The Post's Philip Rucker: “Allen knows everything and anything about all the financials. . . . He knows every dollar that goes in and every dollar that leaves. He knows where all the bodies are buried.”