The Slatest

Who Is the Mysterious “Individual-1” Implicated by Michael Cohen?

NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 21: Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's former personal attorney and fixer, exits federal court, August 21, 2018 in New York City. Cohen reached an agreement with prosecutors, pleading guilty to charges involving bank fraud, tax fraud and campaign finance violations. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Casting a suspicious glance at Michael Cohen, the man keeping “Individual-1” a secret.
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

President Donald Trump’s former attorney and personal “fixer” Michael Cohen made a blockbuster plea deal in federal court on Tuesday, copping to eight felony counts. Cohen pleaded guilty to five counts of tax evasion, one count of bank fraud, and two campaign finance violations. In legal parlance, that’s “a whole lotta crimes”!

Cohen said in court that he broke the law “in coordination with and at the direction of a federal candidate for office,” and, in the plea document, Cohen is described as working to “influence the election” at the behest of someone described only as “”Individual-1.” The filing makes clear that “Individual-1” is a key player in this criminal case, but it keeps the identity of this character tantalizingly under wraps.

According to court documents, two things are apparent about our mystery man (or woman!):

1. Michael Cohen presented himself as Individual-1’s “personal attorney.”
2. “In or about January 2017 … [Individual-1] had become the President of the United States.”

Per point one, it was revealed at an April hearing that Cohen had as many as three clients at the time in question: Fox News personality Sean Hannity, billionaire Republican fundraiser Elliott Broidy, and President Donald Trump. As anyone who has lost all his family’s allotted vacation money in a street game of three-card monte can tell you, 1 in 3 is a nearly impossible ratio to solve, so it’s best we just move on.

Sadly, the language in point two is exceptionally vague. Individual-1 is said to be the “President of the United States.” The United States of what? It does not specify. For the sake of argument, let’s assume this refers to America. There have been literally dozens of presidents, and all of them assumed the office “in or about January 2017.” George Washington was inaugurated in or about January 2017 (April 30, 1789, to be specific). Barack Obama was sworn in twice in or about the last decade, which certainly makes him a person of interest. We also can’t forget Hillary Clinton. She ran for president, and intent constitutes mens rea when determining criminal liability.

Donald Trump, meanwhile, reportedly became president in or about Jan. 20, 2017. This seemingly implicates him as a potential Individual-1. However, famed truth-arbiter Rudy Giuliani, who is acting as Trump’s personal lawyer and Michael Cohen’s successor, denies this:

The frustration continues as Individual-1 remains at large.