Friday, April 20, 2018

Last Call For Rudy Toot Toot

You guys, Rudy Giuliani is going to make the Mueller probe go away in May because, you know, he's the best lawyer on Earth!

Rudy Giuliani said Thursday that he will join President Trump’s legal team and hopes to bring an end to the special counsel’s investigation into Russian election meddling in “a week or two.” 
“I’m going to join the legal team to try to bring this to a resolution,” Giuliani told The Post. 
“The country deserves it. I’ve got great admiration for President Trump. 
“I’ve had a long relationship with Bob Mueller. I have great respect for him. He’s done a good job.” 
Giuliani, a former US Attorney, served as New York City’s mayor when Mueller was the FBI director. 
“I don’t know yet what’s outstanding. But I don’t think it’s going to take more than a week or two to get a resolution. They’re almost there
“I’m going to ask Mueller, ‘What do you need to wrap it up?’” he said.

When this blows up in his face, expect Trump to get all "apoplectic" again, sure.  But keep in mind that Rudy is the shiny object you're supposed to be looking at while Trump's real new lawyers, the husband and wife team of Marty and Jane Raskin, go to work.

As for Giuliani, the choice is peculiar. Trump has shown a penchant, especially lately, for hiring people more for their ability to advocate for him on television than for their experience. Unlike some of the other attorneys who have circulated through Trump’s team or been rumored as possible additions, Giuliani has legitimate criminal-law experience, most prominently as a U.S. Attorney. But he left that job in 1989 to run for mayor. Over the years since, he has practiced law, but most often has served as a consultant or an executive, not as a litigator. These days he is most often known for his outspoken and sometimes outlandish opinions.

He is also awkwardly tied to the Russia investigation. In July 2016, Giuliani asserted that Russia had possessed Hillary Clinton’s emails for some time. In November, he boasted that FBI officials were leaking to him about the Clinton investigation, and that he had known about Comey’s decision to reopen the probe before it was announced. National-security lawyer Bradley Moss tweeted that the government is due in June to file an affidavit in a case over whether Giuliani received FBI leaks during the campaign. 
Indeed, Giuliani told CNN later on Thursday that his involvement in the Trump team would be limited in both scope and timeframe. The last time Trump announced a big addition to the team, the former U.S. Attorney and current conspiracy theorist Joseph diGenova, Sekulow had to quietly announce a few days later that the new hire wouldn’t actually be coming on due to conflict-of-interest issues with another client. 
Raskin and Raskin might be a more important hire in the broad scope. Unlike Sekulow, a First Amendment specialist, they are experienced white-collar criminal-defense lawyers. While Ty Cobb, the White House special counsel working on Russia, has criminal-law experience, the president hasn’t had a real criminal-defense lawyer working on his personal legal team since John Dowd’s exit in March, at least as far as is publicly known. Moreover, the Raskins are not famous partners at a big firm, but litigators who spend a great deal of time in a courtroom. While there’s no first-call attorney for defending a sitting president, they have a record of defending public officials
Giuliani’s brash promise of a negotiated settlement, and the leak about Rosenstein, both telegraph a president feeling increasingly confident about the Russia investigation. Hiring Raskin and Raskin sends a different message: that Trump is moving toward getting serious about a very serious investigation.

Trump figures he has the clout to hire both Giuliani and the Raskins.   If one fails, the other approach might work.

Or, you know, Trump is just so completely guilty that they quit just like everyone else.

You Can Bank On The Winner Not Being You

The Trump Tax Scam™ has already saved taxpayers billions of dollars, and when I say "taxpayers", I mean the nation's six largest banks who posted record profits in Q1 2018.

The nation’s six big Wall Street banks posted record, or near record, profits in the first quarter, and they can thank one person in particular: President Donald Trump
While higher interest rates allowed banks to earn more from lending in the first quarter, the main boost to bank came from the billions of dollars they saved in taxes under the tax law Trump signed in December. Combined, the six banks saved at least $3.59 billion last quarter, according to an Associated Press estimate, using the bank’s tax rates going back to 2015. 
Big publicly traded banks — such JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and Bank of America — typically kick off the earnings season. Their reports for the January-March quarter are giving investors and the public their first glimpse into how the new tax law is impacting Corporate America. 
Before the change in tax law, the maximum U.S. corporate income tax rate was 35 percent, not including what companies paid in state income taxes. Banks historically paid some of the highest taxes among the major industries, due to their U.S.-centric business models. Before the Trump tax cuts, these banks paid between 28 to 31 percent of their income each year in corporate taxes
The results released over the past week show how sharply those rates have dropped. JPMorgan Chase said it had a first-quarter tax rate of 18.3 percent, Goldman Sachs paid just 17.2 percent in taxes, and the highest-taxed bank of the six majors, Citigroup, had a tax rate of 23.7 percent. This is just one quarter’s results, however, and bank executives at the big six firms have estimated that their full-year tax rates will be something closer to 20 percent to 22 percent.

$3.6 billion per quarter comes out to roughly $14 billion a year for the six largest banks in America, and I'm sure all that money is going to the employees in the form of raises and to customers in the form of reductions in fees and service charges.

I mean, that's what Trump promised, right?

Oh, you mean that's not what the banks are doing?

Shares of Bank of America rose 0.3 percent in Tuesday midday trading after the bank announced it would be buying back an additional $5 billion worth of shares
The board of directors approved the additional repurchase, which will occur through June 2018. The company had previously announced plans to repurchase $12 billion in common stock earlier this year
In a statement from Bank of America, the repurchase program "will be subject to various factors, including the company's capital position, liquidity, financial performance and alternative uses of capital, stock trading price, and general market conditions, and may be suspended at any time."

Bank of America shares are 31 percent higher this year, with a 4 percent jump in the last one month alone, as investors bet that banks will be one of the top beneficiaries of tax reform.

That was in December.  Shares went up all the way into March before last month's Trump Tariff crash shaved BoA's share price back down to those December levels.  But hey, BoA has enough money to buy $17 billion in stock since Trump got elected.

That's just one of the big six.

And they just got another $600 million a piece this quarter.

But sure, her emails.

It's Mueller Time, Con't

Last night I mentioned that the House GOP plan to mollify Trump involved a House Judiciary Committee subpoena to Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein demanding former FBI Director James Comey's contemporaneous memos from the months before he was fired last May, and that Rosenstein handed those memos over yesterday.

This morning we find that overnight the House Judiciary has immediately leaked those 15 pages of memos to every press outlet in DC in an effort to damage James Comey, Robert Mueller, and Rod Rosenstein.

In a series of startlingly candid conversations, President Donald Trump told former FBI Director James Comey that he had serious concerns about the judgment of a top adviser, asked about the possibility of jailing journalists and described a boast from Vladimir Putin about Russian prostitutes, according to Comey’s notes of the talks obtained by The Associated Press on Thursday night.

The 15 pages of documents contain new details about a series of interactions with Trump that Comey found so unnerving that he chose to document them in writing. Those seven encounters in the weeks and months before Comey’s May 2017 firing include a Trump Tower discussion about allegations involving Trump and prostitutes in Moscow; a White House dinner at which Comey says Trump asked him for his loyalty; and a private Oval Office discussion where the ex-FBI head says the president asked him to end an investigation into Michael Flynn, the former White House national security adviser.

The documents had been eagerly anticipated since their existence was first revealed last year, especially since Comey’s interactions with Trump are a critical part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into whether the president sought to obstruct justice. Late Thursday night, Trump tweeted that the memos “show clearly that there was NO COLLUSION and NO OBSTRUCTION.”

The president also accused Comey of leaking classified information. The memos obtained by the AP were unclassified, though some portions were blacked out as classified. Details from Comey’s memos reported in news stories last year appear to come from the unclassified portions.

In explaining the purpose of creating the memos, which have been provided to Mueller, Comey has said he “knew there might come a day when I would need a record of what had happened” to defend not only himself but the FBI as well.

The memos cover the first three months of the Trump administration, a period of upheaval marked by staff turnover, a cascade of damaging headlines and revelations of an FBI investigation into potential ties between the Trump campaign and Russia. The documents reflect Trump’s uneasiness about that investigation, though not always in ways that Comey seemed to anticipate.

Trump is claiming total vindication once again, especially since Rosenstein reportedly told Trump that he's not a target of the Mueller probe or the SDNY investigation into Trump's lawyer and fixer, Robert Cohen.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein told President Donald Trump last week that he isn’t a target of any part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation or the probe into his longtime lawyer, Michael Cohen, according to several people familiar with the matter.

Rosenstein, who brought up the investigations himself, offered the assurance during a meeting with Trump at the White House last Thursday, a development that helped tamp down the president’s desire to remove Rosenstein or Mueller, the people said.

After the meeting, Trump told some of his closest advisers that it’s not the right time to remove either man since he’s not a target of the probes. One person said Trump doesn’t want to take any action that would drag out the investigation.

The change in attitude by the president comes after weeks of attacks on the special counsel and the Justice Department, raising questions about whether he might take drastic steps to shut down the probes.

The shift gives some breathing room for Mueller, as well as Rosenstein, who has been criticized strongly by House Republicans for being slow to comply with requests for classified documents. Last week’s meeting was set up in part to allow Rosenstein to assuage Trump’s frustration with his decisions.

If all this is true, and Trump's not a target (yet) it doesn't mean that Trump isn't a subject of either investigation, and Rosenstein's actions make a lot more sense: he's buying Mueller time to continue his probe.

Of course, there's ample evidence that leaking Comey's interpretation of his meetings with Trump isn't helping Trump's case at all.  It also isn't going to stop, say, Michael Cohen, who most certainly is a target, from flipping on Trump.

Stay tuned.


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