Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Last Call For The Whole Kitchen Sink

Well, everything happened after my 4:00 PM post, so let's get down to it.  First of all, as I noted earlier today, former long-time Trump attorney Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to eight counts in federal court.  The new part from this afternoon is that Cohen's pleas included a direct implication of Donald Trump in a federal crime.

Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's former personal attorney, pleaded guilty in Manhattan federal court Tuesday to eight criminal counts, admitting that "in coordination and at the direction of a candidate for federal office" he acted to keep information that would have been harmful to the candidate and the campaign from becoming public during the 2016 election cycle
The charges against Cohen, an attorney for Trump until earlier this year and a member of his inner circle throughout his presidential campaign, bring an end to a months-long investigation by the US Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York.

Again, this is Trump being implicated by Cohen in the commission of a federal crime.  This is, frankly, where Donald Trump should resign.  Of course, that won't happen.  Elsewhere, there was all sorts of legal news for the GOP.

Paul Manafort's jury came in with 8 guilty convictions and 10 deadlocked counts, and while prosecutors are still deciding on whether to retry Manafort on the other 10 charges, the 8 convictions are enough to put him away for life.

A jury has found former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort guilty on tax and bank fraud charges — a major if not complete victory for special counsel Robert S. Mueller III as he continues to investigate the president’s associates.

The jury convicted Manafort on eight of the 18 counts against him and said it was deadlocked on the other 10. U.S. District Court Judge T.S. Ellis declared a mistrial on those charges.

Manafort stood impassively, his hands folded in front of him, and showed little reaction as the clerk read the word “guilty” eight separate times. As through most of the three-week trial, Manafort showed no apparent emotion as he looked at the six women and men who convicted him.

President Trump reacted to the verdict by denouncing Mueller’s investigation.

“It doesn’t involve me ... it’s a very sad thing,” the president said after arriving in West Virginia for a political rally, adding that the Manafort case “has nothing to do with” Russian interference in the 2016 election.

“I feel very badly for Paul Manafort,” Trump said. “Again, he worked for Bob Dole, he worked for Ronald Reagan. He worked for many people. And this is the way it ends up.” 

Even if he gets off lightly, he's still facing a decade-plus at the minimum and the rest of his life more than likely.  Oh, but speaking of Republican campaign finance violations, it seems our old friend Rep. Duncan Hunter is the next in the dock.

Rep. Duncan Hunter and his wife, Margaret, were indicted Tuesday on charges related to the misuse of $250,000 worth of campaign funds for personal expenses and the filing of false campaign finance records. 
The charges of wire fraud, falsifying records, campaign finance violations and conspiracy were the culmination of a Department of Justice investigation that has stretched for more than a year, during which the Republican congressman from California has maintained his innocence. 
The Justice Department said the Hunters are scheduled to be arraigned Thursday morning in federal court in San Diego. 
Republican Party leaders had long worried that with a potential indictment looming, Hunter's traditionally safe district, which makes up much of eastern San Diego County, could be at risk of Democratic takeover in November's midterm election. 
Hundreds of thousands of dollars in unusual charges on Hunter's campaign credit card had come under scrutiny, including among other things, an Italian vacation, dental work, purchases at a surf shop, and huge tabs at bars in restaurants in the San Diego and Washington, DC, areas. Among the most mocked charges was airfare for a pet rabbit to fly with the family, which an aide said was mistakenly charged to the wrong credit card.

So that's another major pickup opportunity for the Dems in November.  His opponent, Ammar Campa-Najjar, is definitely deserving of some help from folks.

Oh, and Larry Kudlow, Trump's economic adviser of the week or whatever?  Hosted a party with white supremacist asshole and founder of VDARE, Peter Brimelow.

The publisher of a website that serves as a platform for white nationalism was a guest last weekend at the home of President Trump’s top economic adviser, Larry Kudlow.

Peter Brimelow attended the gathering, a birthday bash for Kudlow, one day after a White House speechwriter was dismissed in the wake of revelations that he had spoken alongside Brimelow on a 2016 panel.

Brimelow, 70, was once a well-connected figure in mainstream conservative circles, writing for Dow Jones and National Review. But over the past two decades, he has become a zealous promoter of white-identity politics on Vdare.com, the anti-immigration website that he founded in 1999.

While Brimelow has long personally rejected the label of “white nationalist,” he acknowledged to the Harvard Crimson in 2016 that his website does “certainly publish a few writers I would regard as ‘white nationalist’ in that they stand up for whites just as Zionists, black nationalists do for Jews, blacks, etc.”

So they're not just crooks folks, they're stupid, racist crooks to boot.

What a day.  This is when the dam broke, guys.  I'd like to say that "this is when history was made, when we look back, this was the day it ended for Trump" but tonight Trump was in Charleston, WV screaming about witch hunts and Chris Farley on a day where his former campaign manager was convicted and his personal lawyer implicated him in a federal crime, they still yelled "Lock her up!"

If you don't vote in November to remove the GOP, you're the reason why we'll have these scumbags forever.

I'm sure of that.

Russian To Judgment, Con't

Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s former longtime personal attorney, has tentatively reached a plea agreement with federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York, ABC News has learned.

Given Cohen’s proximity to Trump during the past decade, including throughout his meteoric rise from mogul and reality television star to the White House, observers consider him one of most potent legal thorns to confront Trump’s presidency since he took office.

“The guy who knows where all the bodies are buried,” said Seth Hettena, an author and veteran journalist who has chronicled Trump’s business career.

The investigation into Cohen was referred to New York’s Southern District by special counsel Robert Mueller, and if Cohen agrees to cooperate, the information he provides could benefit the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. But it remains unclear if he has committed to cooperate.

Cohen’s relationship with Trump dates to the mid-2000’s after Cohen, who owned condominiums in multiple Trump buildings in New York, took Trump’s side in a legal dispute with the condo board at Trump World Tower on Manhattan’s East Side. Cohen eventually went to work for the Trump Organization, where he held the positions of executive vice president and special counsel to Donald J. Trump.

The deal itself, according to ABC News, involves Cohen pleading guilty and receiving jail time (four years is what I'm hearing) on bank fraud, tax evasion, and campaign finance violations.  It's that last part, the two campaign finance law counts, that involve Donald Trump.  Cohen has a hearing this afternoon to finalize the deal, and the NY Times is backing up ABC's story.

Michael Cohen, President Trump’s former lawyer, on Tuesday reached a plea agreement with prosecutors investigating payments he made to women for Mr. Trump but the deal does not include cooperation, two people familiar with the matter said.

Prosecutors in New York had been scrutinizing Mr. Cohen for bank and tax fraud, as well as for his role in helping to arrange financial deals to secure the silence of women who said they had affairs with Mr. Trump.

The United States attorney’s office announced that there would be a “proceeding of interest” in a case against a defendant identified only as John Doe, language that almost always indicates a guilty plea. One person with knowledge of the matter said the proceeding would be the guilty plea by Mr. Cohen.

Even though Mr. Cohen is not cooperating with prosecutors, his decision to plead guilty is a political blow to Mr. Trump. Mr. Cohen had been the president’s longtime fixer, handling his most sensitive business and personal matters. He once said he would take a bullet for Mr. Trump.

The investigation of Mr. Cohen has focused in part on his role helping to arrange financial deals to secure the silence of women who said they had affairs with Mr. Trump, including Stephanie Clifford, an adult film actress better known as Stormy Daniels. Federal authorities have also been investigating whether Mr. Cohen committed bank and tax fraud.

The charges against Mr. Cohen were not a surprise, but he had signaled recently he might be willing to cooperate with investigators who for months have been conducting an extensive investigation of his business dealings. That bid to negotiate a plea deal under which he would exchange information in return for a lesser sentence appears to have broken down.

As I said yesterday:

The fact that Cohen has basically been off the radar over the month of August makes me think "the matter" is "being finalized" as we speak.  The article makes it clear there's two scenarios: Cohen gets charged before Labor Day, or he cooperates (and the Mueller team has bonus "we can't comment on this" plausible deniability due to the Justice Department guidelines on political cases before an election.)

We'll see which one Cohen chooses.  It's possible at this point in the game, he doesn't have anything novel to offer Mueller, and he gets crushed before the month is out, too.

My gut says he cooperates.

Seems Cohen isn't cooperating after all, but he still may decide that he will.  Still, the hammer fell, and the "John Doe" indication means that there's still more people to be possibly charged down the road.

We'll see.

It's Mueller Time, Con't

Donald Trump continues to act 100% guilty, and 100% like the second the Paul Manafort verdict comes in with any convictions that he's going to fire Robert Mueller.

In an interview with Reuters, Trump echoed the concerns of his top lawyer in the probe, Rudy Giuliani, who has warned that any sit-down with Mueller could be a “perjury trap.”

The president expressed fears that investigators could compare his statements with that of others who have testified in the probe, such as former FBI Director James Comey, and that any discrepancies could be used against him.

“So if I say something and he (Comey) says something, and it’s my word against his, and he’s best friends with Mueller, so Mueller might say: ‘Well, I believe Comey,’ and even if I’m telling the truth, that makes me a liar. That’s no good.”

Despite his concerns, Trump did not comment on whether he would ultimately agree to an interview with Mueller, who is, among other things, investigating whether Trump’s campaign team colluded with Russians during the 2016 election and whether Trump has obstructed justice in the probe.

Trump also declined to say whether he might strip Mueller of his security clearance, as he did last week to former CIA Director John Brennan, who had repeatedly criticized Trump’s handling of foreign policy and national security issues.

“I haven’t given it a lot of thought,” he said.

He's thinking about it.  I guarantee it.  He's thinking about that and a lot worse at this point.  Here's the giveaway:

Trump asserted that he retained the power to intervene in the probe, but that he had chosen not to do so for the moment.

His administration, Trump said, was “a smooth-running machine, except in that world. And I’ve decided to stay out. Now I don’t have to stay out.

“I can go in, and I could do whatever — I could run it if I want. But I decided to stay out,” he said. “I’m totally allowed to be involved if I wanted to be. So far, I haven’t chosen to be involved. I’ll stay out.”

Meanwhile, White House Counsel Don McGahn is pretending he didn't flip on Trump in order to save his own ass, and he's not fooling anybody.

White House counsel Donald McGahn does not believe that he implicated President Trump in any legal wrongdoing in extensive interviews he has given the special counsel, McGahn’s attorney told Trump’s legal team in recent days.

The assurances from McGahn’s attorney came as the president and his lawyers pushed back against the suggestion in a New York Times report that Trump’s attorneys have little insight into what McGahn told special counsel Robert S. Mueller III.

Mueller is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 campaign and whether Trump has sought to obstruct that probe.

McGahn’s attorney, Bill Burck, told Trump’s lawyers this past weekend that McGahn did not assert that Trump engaged in any wrongdoing when he spoke to Mueller’s investigators in three lengthy interviews since last November, according to people with knowledge of the discussions.

“He did not incriminate him,” Burck wrote in one email, which was described by multiple people.

McGahn referred questions to Burck, who declined to comment.

That isn't McGahn's evaluation to make, now is it?

Again, we're rapidly approaching the point where Trump is going to make his move on Mueller. 

[UPDATE] It won't be long now, especially since former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen is expected to strike a deal with Mueller any time now.


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