Thursday, December 13, 2018

slowly I turned, twitter by twitter... closer, and closer.

Trump’s tweets are injurious to Trump’s legal position regarding the possible underlying crimes (i.e. paying off former 'affairs') and obstruction (e.g. tweeting false statements).

Trump can't invoke the Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination, his public statements have now waived that right.

He cannot refuse to talk under oath if he has talked about it openly.

Michael Cohen (and perhaps others) contradict him.

Trump’s tweets reinforces the need for Trump to be questioned about ongoing legal proceedings.

He has expressed a judgment about key facts: (1) Trump’s loquaciousness on Twitter (not to mention his golf outings) also make it hard for attorneys to argue that he cannot spare a moment to talk to the prosecutors.

In short, Trump really cannot contain himself. That’s the very reason his lawyers cannot stop him from incriminating himself in tweets.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Individual #1

“Individual #1” has a problem: His own Justice Department just said he directed a crime.

Late Friday, U.S. prosecutors — ordinary prosecutors, not working for Robert S. Mueller — filed papers in court saying Michael Cohen admitted “he acted in coordination with and at the direction of Individual-1.”

This means that it is the considered view of Individual-1’s Justice Department that Individual-1 participated in a felony violation of campaign finance law by directing the payoff of two women who alleged affairs with Individual-1.

Mueller and his team will decide in the coming months whether to accuse Trump of crimes.

The fact that Trump is fundamentally lawless can no longer be disputed. His own DOJ prosecutors now say he took part in a crime — and his former secretary of state says Trump had little concern about what is legal.

“So often,” Rex Tillerson said in a talk Thursday, “the president would say, ‘Here’s what I want you to do, and here’s how I want you to do it.’ And I would have to say to him, ‘Mr. President, I understand what you want to do. But you can’t do it that way. It violates the law.’ ”

To this, Trump responded with a well-reasoned legal defense: Tillerson “lazy as hell.”

During the campaign, Trump said he would have no trouble getting the military to follow his orders, even if they were illegal.

“If I say do it, they’re gonna do it,” Trump said. And, “They’re not gonna refuse me. Believe me.”

Trump watched a recording of a CIA drone strike in which the agency held off on firing until the target was away from his family. Trump asked: “Why did you wait?”

More recently, Trump has suggested troops could fire on unarmed migrants on the border, and the Pentagon rebuffed instructions for the military to engage in law enforcement.

Trump floated the idea that he could unilaterally end the constitutional protection of birthright citizenship.

Trump told a group of Native American tribal leaders to ignore federal rules on energy drilling: “I’m telling you, chief, you’ve just got to do it.”

When courts push back on his lawlessness, Trump treats judges as political opponents. He rebuked the “so-called judge” who ruled against his travel ban. And he earned a rebuke from Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. for blaming an “Obama judge” for a ruling that his administration must process asylum claims.

Meanwhile, five former Trump aides have pleaded guilty in Mueller’s Russia probe, and others regard it as perfectly plausible that Trump himself “may very well have done something during the election with the Russians.”

On Friday, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said the latest filings “tell us nothing of value that wasn’t already known.”

Well. recent findings corroborate much of the 2016 “dossier” by former spy Christopher Steele — declared fraudulent by Trump — and its reports of extensive, compromising interactions between the Trump campaign and cronies of Vladimir Putin.

The dossier’s assertion of Michael Cohen’s “ongoing secret liaison relationship” with Russian leadership has been confirmed. The revelations about Cohen also show that the dossier correctly identified Putin lieutenants Dmitry Peskov and Sergei Ivanov as the ones managing the Trump campaign for the Russian government.

Individual-1, whose own adherence to the rule of law is wavering at best, is soon to be deeply disappointed.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

"Darkness Falling"

Trump's RussiaGate problems are deeper than ever after another dramatic week in the Robert Mueller probe, and even his closest allies are worried.

Trump has become increasingly enraged after a week in which his former personal attorney Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to lying to Congress.

Mueller also voided a cooperation agreement with Paul Manafort. And the conspiracy theorist Jerome Corsi publicized a draft plea agreement with Mueller, even as he rejected that deal.

"It is something that has again taken the president way off message, and it creates a sense of political doom or disaster," said one Republican strategist. "It's hard to tell what you're dealing with - until you actually have charges [filed]."

The Cohen deal is most troubling for Trump, given that his former fixer is now acknowledging that talks about building a Trump Tower in Moscow went on for months longer than he had originally stated.

Cohen says the proposed project was only abandoned when Trump was assured of the GOP presidential nomination. Cohen had earlier said that the deal had been shelved in January 2016, before the first GOP caucuses were held in Iowa.

Trump had "informal conversations" with Putin at a dinner on Friday evening in Buenos Aires, according to White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

One concern to the trumpster in the dumpster is the secrecy with which Mueller works, a pattern that causes new bombshells to land without warning.

Another is the possibility of the Trump family showing up in the new legal filings in the Cohen case.

A third concern is the incoming Congress where Democrats will take control of the House of Representatives, with the ability to set the agenda and subpoena witnesses.

Referring to the new Democratic-led House, the GOP strategist with White House ties said: "It's a huge problem. I don't think [Trump] really understands what is coming at him... He is used to dealing with "his message today is not the reality a few months ahead."

Trump, his immediate circle, and some of his allies are publicly acting confident.

Rudy Giuliani has insisted that there is no contradiction between Cohen's current story and the version of events provided by the president.

Roger Stone, the longtime Trump ally and Nixon Republican dirty trickster, has come under scrutiny over leaked documents, insisted again to The Hill that he had done nothing wrong.

Asked if he had ever discussed WikiLeaks with Trump, Stone replied, "Never. On no occasion - as I said on 'Meet the Press,' and as I have said under oath. Never - and the government has presented no evidence to the contrary."

Trump himself has repeatedly lashed out at Mueller's probe as a "witch hunt."

He said that he had continued to run his business while seeking the presidency - "very legal & very cool," he asserted - and added that he had "Lightly looked at doing a building somewhere in Russia."

The tone of the president's tweets have sparked speculation that he is feeling much greater pressure than before.

Mark Zaid, a D.C.-based attorney said that while it was clear the stress and pressure on Trump was increasing, it was important to keep in mind "that does not necessarily equate to criminal culpability."

Zaid added, however, that the outlook for Trump is becoming much bleaker all the time.

"I would say with every close confidant who goes down in flames - as we have seen now on multiple occasions - the waters surrounding Trump get deeper," Zaid said. "The question, of course, is will he drown?"

Friday, December 7, 2018

Treason's Greetings

A catalogue of rogues.

And a tantalizing pile of clues.

The rogues’ gallery exposed in Robert Mueller’s court filings last week make the Watergate burglars look like school children.

Even veteran lawyers involved in the investigations of Richard Nixon say they’ve never seen this level of misconduct.

Most importantly, last week’s events showed that Special Counsel Mueller is getting closer to exposing the scope and depth of Trump's Treason. His most recent filings make clear that a preponderance of the evidence touches Trump himself.

The disclosures from Michael Cohen, the former Trump fixer who is now a cooperating witness, pounded another nail in the President's coffin. Cohen revealed, and Trump confirmed, that the Trump Organization was pursuing a luxury skyscraper deal in Moscow while Donald Trump, identified as “Individual 1” in the latest court filings, was sewing up the Republican party presidential nomination.

As a candidate, Trump repeatedly reassured voters that he had no business dealings in Russia. But as he uttered those lies, Cohen was selling Russian oligarchs $25m units in Trump Tower Moscow by luring Putin into the project with a free $50m penthouse. This was unfolding as emails from the DNC, hacked by the Russians, upset the Democratic convention and the Republican party was making a party platform much kinder to Russia.

Trump tried to dismiss this Moscow real estate deal, saying it was fine for him to pursue his business affairs while running for president, because if he lost, he expected to return to the Trump Organization.

Cohen had previously connected Trump to payoffs made to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, in violation of election law. But the additional guilty plea last week goes to the heart of Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling and links to Donald Trump.

In a draft court filing related to a collapsed plea deal with Corsi, 72, Mueller also revealed that in email exchanges, Stone told Corsi to get hold of hacked emails from WikiLeaks. Stone and Corsi have ties to Alex Jones’s ultra-right conspiracy site, Infowars, and Corsi was the man behind the false birther campaign against Barack Obama and Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, a rightwing group that undermined John Kerry’s military record in his 2004 bid to become president. Stone has a Nixon tattoo on his back. Stone and Corsi have both denied contacts with WikiLeaks.

These men hold some keys to Mueller’s investigation. And we have yet to hear from Michael Flynn, the Trump foreign policy adviser and short-lived national security adviser, who has also pleaded guilty in the Mueller investigation and whose role is soon to be revealed in court.