It's difficult to dismiss either as a coincidence, given Cohen is a lawyer and has carefully parsed his comments throughout this situation. He has regularly offered what seemed to be denials but didn't totally deny the details of what the Journal had reported.
Did Trump’s lawyer just implicate Trump in the Stormy Daniels payment?
What's the meaning of parse here?
I've seen similar uses in journalism, where:
- It refers more to expression (or even the product of expression) rather than analysis.
- There is sometimes a connotation of prevaricate, obfuscate, or dissemble.
To me, the traditional definition doesn't quite fit here:
Cohen is a lawyer and has carefully examined/analyzed (minutely) his comments throughout this situation.
But I can't think of a synonym for the author's meaning either.
The earliest he parsed his words I've found is from 1998:
Bush parsed his words carefully, unlike a Born Again Christian.
There are many like this from 2000 on (thanks @GetzelR). I hear these as nearly identical to He chose his words carefully.
But there are a few similar to my original passage.
Re. a description of political exile (2004):
Aristide was very clear that what happened in Haiti was a modern kidnapping […] He was angry and determined, very straightforward and never parsed his words."
Re. Ted Cruz's position on immigration (2015):
Like a Slick Lawyer, Cruz Parsed His Words on the Question of Amnesty
[…] As one might imagine, the veracity of Cruz’s statement rests heavily upon what he means by “legalization.”
Re. President Trump's travel ban that's not a travel ban (2017):
Spicer appeared in front of the media in the wake of the first executive order and went out of his way to parse words. […] “That's not a ban. What it is, is to make sure that the people who are coming in are vetted properly … a ban would mean people can't get in.”
Re. James Comey's opening testimony (2017):
I think the way this is worded, there's something in there for everybody. There's enough in there for Republicans to attack former Director Comey and defend the president, and there's enough in there for Democrats to defend former Director Comey and attack the president. […] There's a lot of parsing of words.