Trump enters the stage

Elevate form over function to get at less easily articulable truths.

Re: Trump enters the stage part 3

Postby Meno_ » Wed Dec 05, 2018 4:30 pm

The Trump Impeachment
UncategorizedUnfit To Lead
Trump’s lawyers make desperate bid to halt emoluments lawsuit against Trump
By Kerry Eleveld / Daily Kos (12/10/2018) - December 4, 2018873




As a federal judge in Maryland planned to the open discovery process in an emoluments case involving Donald Trump, the government sought to advance an “unusual” appeal to halt the case from moving forward, according to Politico.

Attorneys for Trump had appealed several rulings that went against Trump in a lawsuit brought by the State of Maryland and the District of Columbia charging that Trump is violating two provisions in the Constitution by profiting off his luxury hotel in Washington.



U.S. District Court Judge Peter Messitte had expected to order the beginning of the discovery process in the suit Monday, but on Friday the Justice Department told Messitte it that would petition the Richmond-based 4th Circuit Court of Appeals to stop the case from moving forward.

On Monday, Trump’s lawyers appealed those rulings using “a rarely invoked process” that is intended to stop rogue judges from pursuing a line of legal reasoning that is deemed improper. In their request for what’s known as a “status conference,” Trump’s lawyers argued that he is “entitled to absolute immunity” as pr*sident and allowing discovery to move forward would violate that immunity.



“In sum, the President will suffer the very burdens from which absolute immunity is supposed to shield him,” wrote Trump’s lawyers, in an appeal that was reportedly approved by the solicitor general of the United States.

Lawyers who brought the lawsuit are seeking to begin a six-month discovery process, which would allow them to depose witnesses, seek records relevant to the case, and perhaps even depose Trump, though they promised to pursue other avenues of information first.


Similar lawsuits emanating from New York and Washington are also working their way through the legal system.

UPDATE: Trump lost… discovery will move forward in the DC/MD emoluments lawsuit, says judge.





Now the third and last stage of Trump's troubled presidency has arrived. Lets see if these stages coalesce, or if the government can deal with them and disparage focus.




:

The Trump Impeachment
UncategorizedUnfit To Lead
Trump’s lawyers make desperate bid to halt emoluments lawsuit against Trump
By Kerry Eleveld / Daily Kos (12/10/2018) - December 4, 2018883



As a federal judge in Maryland planned to the open discovery process in an emoluments case involving Donald Trump, the government sought to advance an “unusual” appeal to halt the case from moving forward,

Attorneys for Trump had appealed several rulings that went against Trump in a lawsuit brought by the State of Maryland and the District of Columbia charging that Trump is violating two provisions in the Constitution by profiting off his luxury hotel in Washington.



U.S. District Court Judge Peter Messitte had expected to order the beginning of the discovery process in the suit Monday, but on Friday the Justice Department told Messitte it that would petition the Richmond-based 4th Circuit Court of Appeals to stop the case from moving forward.

On Monday, Trump’s lawyers appealed those rulings using “a rarely invoked process” that is intended to stop rogue judges from pursuing a line of legal reasoning that is deemed improper. In their request for what’s known as a “status conference,” Trump’s lawyers argued that he is “entitled to absolute immunity” as pr*sident and allowing discovery to move forward would violate that immunity.



“In sum, the President will suffer the very burdens from which absolute immunity is supposed to shield him,” wrote Trump’s lawyers, in an appeal that was reportedly approved by the solicitor general of the United States.

Lawyers who brought the lawsuit are seeking to begin a six-month discovery process, which would allow them to depose witnesses, seek records relevant to the case, and perhaps even depose Trump, though they promised to pursue other avenues of information first.


Similar lawsuits emanating from New York and Washington are also working their way through the legal system.

UPDATE: Trump lost… discovery will move forward in the DC/MD emoluments lawsuit, says judge.






OMG What Trump Just Did on The World Stage
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Re: Trump enters the stage part 3

Postby Meno_ » Thu Dec 06, 2018 2:41 pm

Here are the torn seems that are becoming bothersome as frantic efforts are under way to sow them up, damage control in the works.

The case of a Democratic Governor whose political capital is being undermined while the administration is still Republican, by passing laws, which will limit his ability to govern , is but one example that came to light recently.



By John Solomon

Opinion Contributor

Just before Thanksgiving, House Republicans amended the list of documents they'd like President Trump to declassify in the Russia investigation. With little fanfare or explanation, the lawmakers, led by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), added a string of emails between the FBI and the Department of Justice (DOJ) to their wish list.

Sources tell me the targeted documents may provide the most damning evidence to date of potential abuses of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), evidence that has been kept from the majority of members of Congress for more than two years.

The email exchanges included then-FBI Director James Comey, key FBI investigators in the Russia probe and lawyers in the DOJ's national security division, and they occurred in early to mid-October, before the FBI successfully secured a FISA warrant to spy on Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.

The email exchanges show the FBI was aware - before it secured the now-infamous warrant - that there were intelligence community concerns about the reliability of the main evidence used to support it: the Christopher Steele dossier.

The exchanges also indicate FBI officials were aware that Steele, the former MI6 British intelligence operative then working as a confidential human source for the bureau, had contacts with news media reporters before the FISA warrant was secured.

The FBI fired Steele on Nov. 1, 2016 - two weeks after securing the warrant - on the grounds that he had unauthorized contacts with the news media.

But the FBI withheld from the American public and Congress, until months later, that Steele had been paid to find his dirt on Trump by a firm doing political opposition research for the Democratic Party and for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, and that Steele himself harbored hatred for Trump.

If the FBI knew of his media contacts and the concerns about the reliability of his dossier before seeking the warrant, it would constitute a serious breach of FISA regulations and the trust that the FISA court places in the FBI.

That's because the FBI has an obligation to certify to the court before it approves FISA warrants that its evidence is verified, and to alert the judges to any flaws in its evidence or information that suggest the target might be innocent.

We now know the FBI used an article from Yahoo News as independent corroboration for the Steele dossier when, in fact, Steele had talked to the news outlet.

If the FBI knew Steele had that media contact before it submitted the article, it likely would be guilty of circular intelligence reporting, a forbidden tactic in which two pieces of evidence are portrayed as independent corroboration when, in fact, they originated from the same source.

These issues are why the FBI email chain, kept from most members of Congress for the past two years, suddenly landed on the declassification list.

The addition to the list also comes at a sensitive time, as House Republicans prepare on Friday to question Comey, who signed off on the FISA warrant while remaining an outlier in the intelligence community about the Steele dossier.

Most intelligence officials, such as former CIA Director John Brennan and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, have embraced the concerns laid out in the Steele dossier of possible - but still unproven - collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Yet, 10 months after the probe started and a month after Robert Mueller was named special counsel in the Russia probe, Comey cast doubt on the the Steele dossier, calling it "unverified" and "salacious" in sworn testimony before Congress.

Former FBI lawyer Lisa Page further corroborated Comey's concerns in recent testimony before House lawmakers, revealing that the FBI had not corroborated the collusion charges by May 2017, despite nine months of exhaustive counterintelligence investigation.

Lawmakers now want to question Comey about whether the information in the October email string contributed to the former FBI director's assessment.

The question long has lingered about when the doubts inside the FBI first surfaced about the allegations in the Steele dossier.

Sources tell me the email chain provides the most direct evidence that the bureau, and possibly the DOJ, had reasons to doubt the Steele dossier before the FISA warrant was secured.

Sources say the specifics of the email chain remain classified, but its general sentiments about the Steele dossier and the media contacts have been discussed in nonclassified settings.

"If these documents are released, the American public will have clear and convincing evidence to see the FISA warrant that escalated the Russia probe just before Election Day was flawed and the judges [were] misled," one knowledgeable source told me.

Congressional investigators also have growing evidence that some evidence inserted into the fourth and final application for the FISA - a document signed by current Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein - was suspect.

Nunes hinted as much himself in comments he made on Sean Hannity's Fox News TV show on Nov. 20, when he disclosed the FBI email string was added to the declassification request. The release of the documents will "give finality to everyone who wants to know what their government did to a political campaign" and verify that the Trump campaign did not collude with Russia during the election, Nunes said.

As more of the secret evidence used to justify the Russia probe becomes public, an increasingly dark portrait of the FBI's conduct emerges.

The bureau, under a Democratic-controlled Justice Department, sought a warrant to spy on the duly nominated GOP candidate for president in the final weeks of the 2016 election, based on evidence that was generated under a contract paid by his political opponent.

That evidence, the Steele dossier, was not fully vetted by the bureau and was deemed unverified months after the warrant was issued.

At least one news article was used in the FISA warrant to bolster the dossier as independent corroboration when, it fact, it was traced to a news organization that had been in contact with Steele, creating a high likelihood it was circular intelligence reporting.

And the entire warrant, the FBI's own document shows, was being rushed to approval by two agents who hated Trump and stated in their own texts that they wanted to "stop" the Republican from becoming president.

If ever there were grounds to investigate the investigators, these facts provide the justification.

Director Comey and Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein likely hold the answers, as do the still-classified documents. It's time all three be put under a public microscope.


John Solomon is an award-winning investigative journalist whose work over the years has exposed U.S. and FBI intelligence failures before the Sept. 11 attacks, federal scientists' misuse of foster children and veterans in drug experiments, and numerous cases of political corruption. He is The Hill's executive vice president for video.
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Re: Trump enters the stage

Postby Meno_ » Sat Dec 08, 2018 6:25 am

Friday was a very, very bad day for Donald Trump
Analysis by Chris Cillizza, CNN Editor-at-large
Updated 10:50 PM EST, Fri December 07, 2018


(CNN) On Friday, President Donald Trump (and the rest of us) got the most fulsome look into the inner workings of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation yet. And what Trump saw has to terrify him.

What was on display -- in sentencing documents for former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen and a memo detailing how one-time Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort broke the terms of his plea agreement -- was the depth and breadth of what Mueller and his team are investigating, what they already know and just how close they are to the President himself.

View this interactive content on CNN.com
Consider what we learned from the filings from Mueller and the Southern District of New York on Friday:


1. Trump directed Cohen to pay off both porn actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy Playmate Karen McDougal, both of whom have alleged they had affairs with the President in the mid 2000s, during the 2016 campaign. Cohen had already pleaded guilty to purposely circumventing campaign finance law to make the payments -- and said he did so at the direction of and coordinated with Trump. Trump has denied that he knew where the money was coming from and that he had anything to do with the decision to pay off the women.

2. In November 2015, a Russian national spoke with Cohen and attempted to offer "political synergy" with the Trump campaign (Mueller's office said Cohen didn't pursue the outreach).

3. Cohen lied to Congress about the nature and extent of his involvement in trying to cut a deal on Trump Tower Moscow with the Russians to hide "the fact that the Moscow Project was a lucrative business opportunity that sought, and likely required, the assistance of the Russian government."

4. Manafort lied about the extent of his contacts with a Russian -- named Konstantin Kilimnik -- who has ties to the Russian military intelligence agency accused of hacking into the Democratic National Committee's servers, which led to the publishing of emails via the site WikiLeaks during the 2016 campaign.

5. Manafort continued to stay in touch with White House officials long past the point we knew prior. CNN's Katelyn Polantz and Marshall Cohen write: "The document also contains the stunning disclosure that Mueller can show, including with text messages, that Manafort was in contact with Trump administration officials early this year -- even after he was indicted in late 2017."

Take a step back and consider all of that -- on top of what we already know about the Mueller probe (192 criminal charges against 36 people and entities, 7 guilty pleas, 3 people sentenced, 1 convicted in a jury trial) and an unmistakable picture forms: A number of people who, at one time or another, were close to Trump not only had ties to the Russians but went out of their way -- sometimes risking severe criminal penalties -- to lie about the nature of those contacts.

That's important, so I'm going to say it again: People with very close personal and professional ties to the President of the United States have now been found to have ties to the Russians. Many of those same people not only lied about those connections publicly but also to Congress and/or Mueller's office.

All of which makes Trump's response to the news on Friday laughable -- if this wasn't such serious stuff: "Totally clears the President," wrote Trump. "Thank you!"

Which is, well, bunk. Nothing in the documents filed by either Mueller or the Southern District of New York on Friday do any such thing. Quite the opposite.

What's more clear now than at any times since Mueller was named special counsel last May is that his investigation is both wide and deep. He has found wrongdoing across a variety of fields and with a variety of actors. Many of those actors were close to either candidate or Trump. Almost all of them have been caught lying by Mueller and held to account. And, perhaps most concerning for Trump, they are all -- with the exception of Manafort -- now fully cooperating with Mueller's probe.

To be clear: Nothing that emerged on Friday -- or in the sentencing memo of former national security adviser Michael Flynn that was released earlier this week -- is any sort of smoking gun that pins collusion or obstruction of justice on Trump.

But what happened Friday is that the walls around Trump began to close in even further. Mueller has been slowly tightening the vise around this White House for months. On Friday, we got a glimpse of how much tighter he can make it. And that prospect has to worry not just Donald Trump, but anyone and everyone in his inner circle.

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Re: Trump enters the stage

Postby Meno_ » Sat Dec 08, 2018 7:28 am

Prosecutors: Michael Cohen acted at Trump's direction when he broke the law
By Erica Orden and Marshall Cohen, CNN
Updated 10:25 PM EST, Fri December 07, 2018


New York (CNN) Federal prosecutors said for the first time Friday that Michael Cohen acted at the direction of Donald Trump when the former fixer committed two election-related crimes during the 2016 presidential campaign, as special counsel Robert Mueller outlined a previously undisclosed set of overtures and contacts between the Trump campaign and Russian nationals.

Those revelations came in a set of court filings in which federal prosecutors in New York said Cohen should receive a "substantial" prison sentence of roughly four years for tax fraud and campaign-finance crimes, and as Mueller's office accused the President's former attorney of lying about his contacts with Russia.

Mueller's disclosures also exposed deeper entanglements than previously known between Trump, his campaign apparatus and the Russian government, including that a Russian national who claimed to be well-connected in Moscow spoke with Cohen in 2015 and offered "political synergy" with the Trump campaign.

Mueller: Paul Manafort lied about contacts with Trump administration this year
Mueller: Paul Manafort lied about contacts with Trump administration this year

The pair of memos from two sets of prosecutors reflected competing views of Cohen's utility to the federal investigations ahead of his scheduled sentencing on Wednesday.

Prosecutors added, "In particular, and as Cohen himself has now admitted, with respect to both payments, he acted in coordination with and at the direction of Individual-1." Individual-1 is the term prosecutors have been using to refer to the President.

In their filing, prosecutors from the Manhattan US attorney's office knocked Cohen's "rose-colored view of the seriousness of his crimes," noting his years-long willingness to break the law. "He was motivated to do so by personal greed, and repeatedly used his power and influence for deceptive ends," they wrote in a filing that also sought to puncture Cohen's public pronouncements of assistance in their investigations.

Mueller's team acknowledged that Cohen provided "useful information concerning certain discrete Russia-related matters core to its investigation," but also disclosed that he had initially lied to them about a proposed Trump Tower project in Moscow.

In August, Cohen pleaded guilty to eight federal crimes after being charged by Manhattan federal prosecutors. Those included tax fraud, making false statements to a bank and campaign-finance violations tied to his work for Trump, including payments Cohen made or helped orchestrate that were designed to silence women who claimed affairs with the then-presidential candidate. Trump has denied those claims.

View this interactive content on CNN.com
Contact with Russians
Cohen was subsequently charged last week by the special counsel's office with one count of lying to Congress about the Moscow project. He pleaded guilty, disclosing that talks about the effort in Moscow had extended through June 2016, after Trump had become the presumptive Republican nominee for president, and that both Trump and his family members had been briefed on the discussions. Cohen also acknowledged pursuing plans to send Trump and himself to Russia in service of the project and discussing the proposed development directly with a representative of the Kremlin.

The special counsel's Friday memo on the matter suggested that Cohen's -- and, by extension, Trump's -- intersection with Russians eager to aid the presidential campaign was more substantial than previously known, with the Russians anxious to put Trump face-to-face with their president.

In one instance, Cohen spoke in November 2015 to a Russian national who offered "synergy on a government level" to the Trump presidential campaign and "repeatedly proposed" a meeting between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to court papers.

The interest appears to have been reciprocal. Cohen told the special counsel that he had consulted with Trump about his interest in contacting the Russian government before suggesting in a radio interview in September 2015 that Trump meet with Putin during the Russian President's visit to New York City that fall.

Cohen had previously claimed his comments on air were spontaneous, the court papers said, but he admitted to prosecutors that they came about after his discussion with Trump.

That meeting never happened, nor did the one with the Russian national, although Cohen told the special counsel that was due to the fact that he was working on the Moscow project "with a different individual who Cohen understood to have his own connections to the Russian government."


Mueller's sentencing memo also provided the first explanation of the Trump Tower Moscow project's relevance to Russia's interference during the 2016 campaign.

According to the special counsel, Cohen's false statements to investigators about the Trump Tower Moscow project "obscured the fact that the Moscow Project was a lucrative business opportunity that sought, and likely required, the assistance of the Russian government."

That Cohen continued to work on the Trump Tower Moscow project -- and discuss it with Trump -- was material to both the ongoing congressional and special counsel investigations, prosecutors said, noting in particular that "it occurred at a time of sustained efforts by the Russian government to interfere with the U.S. presidential election."

A tightening net
The filings on Cohen, and a submission from Mueller about Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort, appear to further tighten the net that Mueller is gathering around the President and his inner circle.

They come at a time when Trump appears to be increasingly worried and furious about the investigation, following a searing tweet storm aimed at the special counsel on Friday morning. White House press secretary Sarah Sanders downplayed the significance of prosecutors' findings, saying late Friday that "the government's filings in Mr. Cohen's case tell us nothing of value that wasn't already known. Mr. Cohen has repeatedly lied and as the prosecution has pointed out to the court, Mr. Cohen is no hero."

The memos also appear to take aim at several issues that have and could continue to ensnare others in the President's orbit, including the act of lying not just to federal agents but also to the public and the media. Cohen's effort to lie about the Moscow project, they said, constituted an attempt to alter the course of the investigation.

"The defendant amplified his false statements by releasing and repeating his lies to the public, including to other potential witnesses," prosecutors wrote. "By publicly presenting this false narrative, the defendant deliberately shifted the timeline of what occurred in the hopes of limiting the investigation into possible Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election -- an issue of heightened national interest."

Prosecutors unhappy with Cohen's cooperation
Despite Cohen's disclosures to the special counsel, however, Manhattan federal prosecutors sought repeatedly to emphasize the limited nature of his assistance in other investigations.

New York federal prosecutors have continued to investigate the Trump Organization based on information in the charges against Cohen, CNN has reported, and Cohen met with prosecutors to discuss "the participation of others in the campaign finance crimes," they said in their filing. But, they noted, he "declined to meet with the office about other areas of investigative interest."

Prosecutors also said the information Cohen has provided to the New York State Attorney General's Office, which has a civil lawsuit against the Donald J. Trump Foundation, "warrants little to no consideration as a mitigating factor."

And while Cohen has met with the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance, which has also been examining the Trump Organization, CNN has reported, his assistance "appears to consist solely of providing that entity information that they would otherwise have obtained via subpoena."

The Cohen cases are being considered together for sentencing purposes. In the New York federal prosecutors' case, the sentencing guidelines call for a term of 51 to 63 months in prison, and prosecutors on Friday asked the court to "impose a substantial term of imprisonment, one that reflects a modest downward variance from the applicable guidelines range."

US District Judge William Pauley III can deviate from the guidelines when he determines Cohen's sentence.

Cohen's attorneys have asked the court to give him no prison time, but prosecutors on Friday voiced their objection to that proposal, noting that the crimes Cohen committed had far-reaching consequences that extended all the way to the White House.

"While many Americans who desired a particular outcome to the election knocked on doors, toiled at phone banks, or found any number of other legal ways to make their voices heard, Cohen sought to influence the election from the shadows," they wrote.

"He did so by orchestrating secret and illegal payments to silence two women who otherwise would have made public their alleged extramarital affairs with Individual-1," they said. "In the process, Cohen deceived the voting public by hiding alleged facts that he believed would have had a substantial effect on the election."

CNN's Jeremy Herb and Stephen Collinson contributed to this report.
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Re: Trump enters the stage stage 3 - can he pull some thing

Postby Meno_ » Sat Dec 08, 2018 3:17 pm

This is the basic fear I had all along that he may wag the dog , as a trump card.

Or, Nixon like, he may tale the only apparent rational move, bit Nixon was child's candy next to him.

Now that the house ia devided , let's see if it will fall, since even the judicial
has declared a negative opinion on his government -business entanglement, including his newly chosen attorney general.




Here is a slanted opinion , but getting more factual by the minute.











THE END GAME
Mueller Is Telling Us: He's Got Trump on Collusion
Max Bergmann,
Sam Berger
12.07.18 10:38 PM ET
OPINION

Daily Beast
For nearly two years, since the U.S. intelligence community released its report on the Russian campaign to assist Donald Trump in the 2016 election, the American people have been seeking an answer as to whether the Trump campaign colluded with its Russian counterpart. In the endless speculation about the direction of the investigation, a common view was that maybe the investigation would never implicate President Trump or find any collusion.

But a flurry of recent activity this past week all points in the same direction: Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation will likely implicate the president, his campaign, and his close associates in aiding and abetting a Russian conspiracy against the United States to undermine the 2016 election.


First, Mueller has clearly identified collusion in the efforts of top Trump aides and associates to contact WikiLeaks. In a draft plea agreement provided to conservative operative Jerome Corsi, Mueller details how Roger Stone, who the special counsel notes was in frequent contact with Donald Trump and senior campaign officials, directed Corsi to connect with WikiLeaks about the trove of stolen materials it received from Russia. Corsi subsequently communicated WikiLeaks’ release plan back to Stone, and the Trump campaign built its final message around the email release. That is collusion.

Second, we now know that Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen and former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn have provided evidence to Mueller related to collusion. In Cohen’s sentencing memo, Mueller said that Cohen provided his office with “useful information” on “Russia-related matters core to its investigation.” The core of Mueller’s investigation is collusion. In Flynn’s sentencing memo Mueller said that Flynn’s false statements to the FBI about his calls with the Russian ambassador during the transition were “material” to the investigation into links or coordination between Russia and “individuals associated with the Trump campaign.”




Third, Mueller has found definitive proof that Trump was compromised by a hostile foreign power during the election. In his plea deal, Cohen revealed that Trump had repeatedly lied to voters about the then-candidate’s financial ties Russia. While Trump claimed during the campaign to have no business dealings with Russia, he was negotiating a wildly lucrative business deal not with Russian businessmen, but with the Kremlin itself. Trump’s team even reportedly tried to bribe Russian President Vladimir Putin by offering him a $50 million penthouse.


Worse, Russia not only knew that Trump was lying, but when investigators first started looking into this deal, the Kremlin helped Trump cover up what really happened. That made Trump doubly compromised: first, because he was eager to get the financial payout and second because Russia had evidence he was lying to the American people—evidence they could have held over Trump by threatening to reveal at any time.

PLAY BALL
Flynn Behaved Like Mueller’s Dream Cooperator
Barbara McQuade

Since the president’s embarrassing performance at the Helsinki summit with Vladimir Putin—when he kowtowed to a foreign adversary rather than stand up for American interests—there has been open speculation about what leverage the Kremlin has over him. Now we know at least part of the picture, raising the specter of what other information Putin has, and how he is using it to influence Trump’s policy decisions.

Fourth, we know that Trump has engaged in an increasingly brazen attempt to cover up his actions: installing a political crony to head the Department of Justice by potentially illegal means in an effort to shut down the investigation; using his former campaign chairman and convicted criminal Paul Manafort to find out information about Mueller’s investigation; and even appearing to offer Manafort a pardon if he helps him obstruct the Russia probe. These may be components of an obstruction of justice case, but they also provide strongly circumstantial data points as to how serious Trump himself views the allegations of collusion being levelled against him.

Lastly, federal prosecutors have told us Trump broke the law to influence the 2016 election by hiding evidence of his affairs. Trump clearly had no qualms about breaking the law to win an election.

In the face of what Mueller has revealed, there is little question where this is going. Mueller may still be only showing us part of his hand, but it’s a damn good hand. He has signalled to us he’s found collusion. He has shown us that the president is compromised. He has told us that he has gathered information important to his investigation about contacts with people in the Trump Organization, the campaign, the transition, and even the White House. That’s everyone Trump has been connected with since he started running. And given all the redacted information in his filings and all that he’s been told by cooperating witnesses, we can be confident that Mueller will show us even more.

Mueller is coming. And he is clearly coming for Trump. Not simply for obstructing justice but for conspiring with a hostile foreign power to win an election. This is a scandal unlike any America has ever seen.

Max Bergmann is a Senior Fellow and Director of the Moscow Project at the Center for American Progress. He served in the State Department from 2011-2017. Sam Berger is the Senior Advisor at the Center for American Progress. He served in the White House from 2010-201


Donald Trump launched an early morning Twitter attack on Robert Mueller’s investigators Friday, hours before the special counsel’s team is set to deliver important court filings in his cases against the president’s former campaign chairman and his longtime legal fixer.

The president quickly turned his eight-tweet rant into an analysis of Mueller and his team, who today will drop new public information in the cases of Paul Manafort and and Michael Cohen. James Comey, whom Trump dubbed “Leakin’ Lyin’ James Comey,” will also testify before the House intelligence committee today. In total, Trump wrote nearly 300 words lambasting the men responsible for the Trump-Russia investigation over the past two years.

“Robert Mueller and Leakin’ Lyin’ James Comey are Best Friends, just one of many Mueller Conflicts of Interest,” Trump began. “And bye the way, wasn’t the woman in charge of prosecuting Jerome Corsi (who I do not know) in charge of “legal” at the corrupt Clinton Foundation? A total Witch Hunt [sic],” Trump continued, referring to Jeannie Rhee, who was appointed by Mueller to join his team.


Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump
Robert Mueller and Leakin’ Lyin’ James Comey are Best Friends, just one of many Mueller Conflicts of Interest. And bye the way, wasn’t the woman in charge of prosecuting Jerome Corsi (who I do not know) in charge of “legal” at the corrupt Clinton Foundation? A total Witch Hunt

Rhee, a former partner at the WilmerHale law firm, represented Hillary Clinton during a 2015 lawsuit involving her private emails and represented the Clinton Foundation in a separate racketeering case.


Donald J. Trump



“Will Robert Mueller’s big time conflicts of interest be listed at the top of his Republicans only Report?” Trump asked. “Will Andrew Weissman’s horrible and vicious prosecutorial past be listed in the Report. He wrongly destroyed people’s lives, took down great companies, only to be overturned, 9-0, in the United States Supreme Court. Doing same thing to people now.”

Trump was likely referencing Weissman’s role in the Justice Department’s Enron Task Force in the early 2000s that convicted several top executives at the now-defunct energy-trading firm as well as former accounting giant Arthur Andersen (the latter convictions were later overturned by the Supreme Court).


Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump
.....overturned, 9-0, in the United States Supreme Court. Doing same thing to people now. Will all of the substantial & many contributions made by the 17 Angry Democrats to the Campaign of Crooked Hillary be listed in top of Report. Will the people that worked for the Clinton....

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“Will all of the substantial & many contributions made by the 17 Angry Democrats to the Campaign of Crooked Hillary be listed in top of Report. Will the people that worked for the Clinton Foundation be listed at the top of the Report?” Trump asked. “Will the scathing document written about Lyin’ James Comey, by the man in charge of the case, Rod Rosenstein (who also signed the FISA Warrant), be a big part of the Report? Isn’t Rod therefore totally conflicted?”

In his pre-campaign days, Trump himself also donated to Hillary Clinton. And, to be clear, Rosenstein is supervising the investigation, not conducting it, and Trump has said multiple times that he decided to fire Comey before he even received the memo. “The FISA Warrant” is a reference to a special warrant to conduct surveillance on Carter Page, who was suspected of acting on behalf of a foreign power believed to be Russia. Rosenstein signed a reapplication for the warrant, which was reauthorized several times by Republican-appointed federal judges.


Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump
...the lying and leaking by the people doing the Report, & also Bruce Ohr (and his lovely wife Molly), Comey, Brennan, Clapper, & all of the many fired people of the FBI, be listed in the Report? Will the corruption within the DNC & Clinton Campaign be exposed?..And so much more!

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“Will all of the lying and leaking by the people doing the Report, & also Bruce Ohr (and his lovely wife Molly), Comey, Brennan, Clapper, & all of the many fired people of the FBI, be listed in the Report? Will the corruption within the DNC & Clinton Campaign be exposed?” Trump asked. “And so much more!”

Trump’s attack—just one of many—on Department of Justice official Bruce Ohr and his wife, Nellie, was apparently focused on his time as associate deputy attorney general until late 2017 and her work as a contractor for Fusion GPS, the same research firm that hired ex-British intelligence agent Christopher Steele to compile its notorious dossier on Trump and Russia.

In a bit of bright news, Trump turned his attention east.

“China talks are going very well!” Trump added.




And now this from the Athlantic Monthly:



IDEAS
Manafort, Cohen, and Individual 1 Are in Grave Danger
Robert Mueller is closing in on the president and all his men.



REUTERS

Federal prosecutors filed three briefs late on Friday portending grave danger for three men: the former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort, the former Trump fixer Michael Cohen, and President Donald Trump. In an age when Americans usually get mere squibs of breaking news from Twitter, Facebook, and red-faced cable shouters, many started their weekend poring over complex legal filings and peering suspiciously at blacked-out paragraphs. The documents were stunning, even for 2018.


In brief No. 1, Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office argues that Paul Manafort breached his cooperation agreement with the government by lying to the FBI and the Special Counsel’s Office in the course of 12 meetings. The brief oozes a level of confidence notable even among professionally hubristic prosecutors: Mueller says he’s ready to present witnesses and documents, and that he gave Manafort’s lawyers an opportunity to refute the evidence but they could not. Mueller is sure he has the receipts.

According to the brief, Manafort lied about his communications with the reputed Russian intelligence agent Konstantin Kilimnik, whom Mueller has scrutinized as a possible conduit between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. Although Mueller’s brief is heavily redacted, it’s clear that Manafort minimized the frequency, duration, and subject of his meetings with Kilimnik. Mueller has emails contradicting Manafort’s description of those meetings, which—we can infer from the unredacted snippets—related to the Trump campaign’s interactions with Russian interests. Mueller also asserts that Manafort lied about some of the payments he received and about an investigation in another district—possibly, based on the context, the Southern District of New York investigation of Michael Cohen and the president. Finally, and of great concern to the White House, Mueller claims that Manafort lied about his contacts with the Trump administration before his guilty plea, and that text messages, documents, and witnesses prove that he was in contact with administration officials.


Mikhaila Fogel and Benjamin Wittes: Mueller is laying siege to the Trump presidency

In brief No. 2, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York asks a federal judge to sentence the former Trump attorney Michael Cohen to a “substantial term of imprisonment”—meaning between three and four years. Last week, Cohen’s lawyers filed a brief lauding their client’s cooperation with the Special Counsel’s Office, the Southern District of New York, and the New York attorney general, downplaying the significance of his crimes and asking the court to sentence Cohen to probation. Such gambits are tricky: Defense lawyers must thread the needle between praising their client’s cooperation and seeking leniency enough to sway the judge, but not doing this so effusively that they trigger a prosecutorial rebuttal. Here, Cohen’s lawyers’ pirouette turned into a disastrous face-plant.



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The prosecutors’ rebuttal of Cohen’s sentencing brief is one of the more livid denunciations I’ve seen in more than two decades of federal criminal practice. The Southern District concedes that Cohen provided some information to it, to the special counsel, and to the New York attorney general. But Cohen refused to cooperate fully; he declined to engage in a full debriefing about everything he knew or to commit to ongoing meetings, and he only spilled about the things he’d already admitted in his plea. That’s not how cooperation works. In this game, you either cooperate fully or you shut up; there is no middle ground. It’s not surprising that Cohen’s stance angered the notoriously proud Southern District prosecutors.



The New York prosecutors blast Cohen’s “rose-colored view of the seriousness of his crimes,” accusing him of a “pattern of deception that permeated his professional life.” Prosecutors portray Cohen as stubbornly obstructing his own accountant to cheat at taxes, even refusing to pay for accounting work that raised inconvenient issues he wanted suppressed. When it comes to Cohen’s campaign-finance violations, the prosecutors’ fury leaps off the page. Cohen, they say, schemed to pay for two women’s stories (Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, we now know) in violation of campaign-finance laws in order to influence the 2016 election, and did so “in coordination with and at the direction of Individual-1”—that is, the president of the United States. As the brief puts it:

While many Americans who desired a particular outcome to the election knocked on doors, toiled at phone banks, or found any number of other legal ways to make their voices heard, Cohen sought to influence the election from the shadows. He did so by orchestrating secret and illegal payments to silence two women who otherwise would have made public their alleged extramarital affairs with Individual-1. In the process, Cohen deceived the voting public by hiding alleged facts that he believed would have had a substantial effect on the election.

If the Southern District’s fury at Cohen is notable, its explicit accusation that President Trump directed and coordinated campaign-finance violations is simply stunning. The prosecutors’ openness suggests that they are sure of their evidence and have mostly finished collecting it. It’s a sign of a fully developed, late-game investigation of the president’s role, one that may soon make its way to Congress.


Read: Mueller’s memos and the alleged lies of the Trump administration

And that brings us to brief No. 3: Special Counsel Mueller’s separate sentencing brief in Cohen’s lying-to-Congress case. He does not recommend a sentence but informs the court about the nature of Cohen’s assistance to his office. Mueller discloses that Cohen has “taken significant steps to mitigate his criminal conduct” by pleading guilty to lying to Congress and meeting with the special counsel seven times to discuss his own conduct and other “core topics under investigation.” That includes information about multiple cases of contact between other Trump-campaign officials and the Russian government, and about Cohen’s contact with the White House in 2017 and 2018, suggesting an ongoing inquiry into obstruction of justice. Most significant, the special counsel indicates that Cohen “described the circumstances of preparing and circulating his response to the congressional inquiries, while continuing to accept responsibility for the false statements within it.” That statement suggests that the special counsel believes that someone in the Trump administration knew of, and approved in advance, Cohen’s lies to Congress. That’s explosive, and potentially impeachable if Trump himself is implicated.


The president said on Twitter that Friday’s news “totally clears the President. Thank you!” It does not. Manafort and Cohen are in trouble, and so is Trump. The special counsel’s confidence in his ability to prove Manafort a liar appears justified, which leaves Manafort facing what amounts to a life sentence without any cooperation credit. The Southern District’s brief suggests that Cohen’s dreams of probation are not likely to come true. All three briefs show the special counsel and the Southern District closing in on President Trump and his administration. They’re looking into campaign contact with Russia, campaign-finance fraud in connection with paying off an adult actress, and participation in lying to Congress. A Democratic House of Representatives, just days away, strains at the leash to help. The game’s afoot.

In addition , Forbes magazine reports:


Forbes: Trump appears to be swindling his campaign contributors for profit,

by using campaign contributions and not hos own money for business interests, billing his party for rent to Trump Tower for oxxupanxy and legal services for political occupancy which according to Forbes never happened. They cases the place out. And there were no such occupancy nor activity.
The richest President ever, allegedly defrauding his own party.

What if this is another hoax on part of liberal detractors to pit the. 'lame - GOP into another depreciating situation? Who can tell , bit watch what's the coming of attractions.

If some one would parallel this to the Decline of ancient Rome, one could ponder such figures as Caligula and Nero.

Comey says firing Mueller alone won't derail investigations, is the opinion on Friday's House hearing of Coney by a Semoxratox oversight committee. He said, "You'd have to fire everyone in the FBI to get rid of the investigation totally.

Could it happen that Mueller would be fired? Would it not result as the repeat performance of Watergate . when Nixon on fact fired Archibald Cox, his special investigator , hired by Elliot Richardson attorney general? Or are things so fundamentally different this time around? It probably is, because that is already am eatabliahed precedent, and as such the legal community may not dare a repeat performance.
Last edited by Meno_ on Sun Dec 09, 2018 8:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Trump enters the stage but soon the ending?

Postby Meno_ » Sun Dec 09, 2018 4:07 pm

Read more news from CNN
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Trump tries to change the story, but Russia cloud darkens
Analysis by Stephen Collinson, CNN
Updated 9:23 PM EST, Sat December 08, 2018


(CNN) President Donald Trump is dipping into his playbook of distraction and denial, but even his skills at weaving alternative narratives cannot disguise the growing threat he faces from special counsel Robert Mueller.

On Saturday, Trump announced the exit of chief of staff John Kelly, dismissed new revelations from the Russia probe, slapped familiar foes and promoted violent demonstrations challenging his erstwhile friend, French President Emmanuel Macron.

But while he can spin new stories for the media to chase, the President seems powerless to stop Mueller's relentless focus on his own conduct in the 2016 campaign and ever since.


A week of legal filings related to the Russia investigation has only increased the President's vulnerability and raised new questions about whether his campaign cooperated with a Russian election meddling effort.

The more Mueller's work seems to uncover contacts with Russians by people inside Trump's orbit and evidence that they lied about what happened, the more the President argues that he is being vindicated and cleared.

"We're very happy with what we're reading because there was no collusion whatsoever," Trump told reporters before heading to the Army-Navy football game in Philadelphia.

Trump tweeted earlier Saturday that it was "time for the Witch Hunt to END" and quoted Fox News correspondent Geraldo Rivera, saying "this is collusion illusion" and "there is nothing impeachable here."

The President has a long record of disregarding evidence that contradicts his preferred version of events. And Trump has mounted a long campaign to discredit the special counsel, apparently seeking to devalue any eventual conclusions that are critical of his conduct.

But the deepening record of the Mueller investigation is raising the possibility that Trump's talent in creating alternative realities is facing its stiffest test yet.

New and damaging information for the White House comes at a time when every move by Mueller appears to bring his investigation deeper into the White House and Trump's inner circle, and shows it has expanded well beyond what may or may not have happened in the 2016 campaign.

So the President has every reason to change the subject.

Trump calls for Mueller probe to end following Manafort, Cohen court filings
Kelly's departure has long been expected given an apparently fractious relationship with the President and his diminishing influence in a riotous White House he once tried to tame with military-style discipline.

"I appreciate his service very much," Trump said, of a respected retired general who also served as his first homeland security secretary.

CNN's Kaitlan Collins reported Saturday that Trump was in talks with Nick Ayers, who current serves as chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence, to succeed Kelly. But the elevation of Ayers is not certain, as he is looking to move his young family back to Georgia and may only want to do the job in the short term.

Trump also took time to tweet about violence in France that has rocked the Macron government and caused the cancellation of fuel tax increases designed to wean consumers off fossil fuels that cause global warming.

"Very sad day & night in Paris. Maybe it's time to end the ridiculous and extremely expensive Paris Agreement and return money back to the people in the form of lower taxes?" Trump wrote on Twitter.

Deepening jeopardy
Taunting a fellow world leader who was once a friend but has recently criticized the President's nationalistic worldview might be a pleasant diversion for Trump, but cannot change the reality of the widening special counsel probe.

Mueller is clearly now looking not just at allegations of possible cooperation of Trump associates with Russia's efforts to interfere in the 2016 election, but at possible obstruction of justice even after the firing of then-FBI Director James Comey in May 2017. That much became clear when CNN reported on Friday that the special counsel has spoken to Kelly in recent months. The chief of staff did not even take the job until July 2017.

A series of filings and court action this week by Mueller, federal prosecutors and attorneys for the President's former lawyer Michael Cohen and former national security adviser Michael Flynn appeared to significantly sharpen the threats facing Trump and key associates.

Prosecutors: Michael Cohen acted at Trump's direction when he broke the law
None of the documents amount to criminal action against the President himself. But they tell an indirect tale of allegedly questionable behavior by the then-GOP nominee.

For the first time, prosecutors said Trump directed Cohen to make payments designed to silence women who claimed affairs with Trump, which broke campaign finance laws.

Mueller also drew a link between Trump's business interests and the Russian election meddling effort. He pointed out that work on a proposed Trump Tower Moscow project that continued until deep into the campaign in June 2016 -- and which Cohen lied about -- came "at a time of sustained efforts by the Russian government to interfere with the US presidential election."

Mueller also confirmed that he has benefited from substantial cooperation from Cohen and Flynn, and that he has documentary evidence in addition to testimony from witnesses. This raises the likelihood that he has built a comprehensive picture into what went on in the Trump campaign, the transition and in the White House, even though he is yet to reveal everything publicly in heavily redacted documents.

Trump and his legal team insist, however, that the President is in the clear.

"When you look at what was revealed today, there's nothing that links the President to collusion with the Russians, so maybe they should fold up their tent, give a report to the Justice Department and go home," Trump's attorney Rudy Giuliani told CNN's Pam Brown on Friday.

Giuliani also said the President never told Cohen to pay women who claimed affairs with him, adding that such payments would not count as a campaign contribution.

The depth of the President's legal and political difficulties will only become clear when Mueller files a final report -- and Trump's team will have the chance to challenge his findings and make their defense. But it's increasingly looking like the President's denials and distractions are failing to keep up with the special counsel's accelerating pace.

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Re: Trump enters the stage

Postby Meno_ » Sun Dec 09, 2018 11:50 pm

The Trump Impeachment
Business ConflictsUncategorized
Forbes: Trump appears to be swindling his campaign contributors for profit
By Aldous J Pennyfarthing / Daily Kos (12/08/2018) - December 8, 2018760

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Gage Skidmore / Flickr Donald Trump...
Gage Skidmore / Flickr
The torrent of Donald-Trump-is-a-debauched-amoral-criminal news yesterday drowned out this revealing piece from Dan Alexander, who works the Donald-Trump-is-a-debauched-amoral-criminal beat for Forbes magazine.

Seems Trump has been taking in campaign donations since inauguration day when he officially launched his 2020 reelection campaign and has been using them to line his own pockets. (You may remember inauguration day; it was when you realized it’s virtually impossible to kill yourself with pound cake, NyQuil, and Costco gin before falling asleep in the bathtub desperately clutching a Tickle Me Elmo you’ve somehow never laid eyes on before.)

Donations poured in from more than 50,000 people across the country. But according to the latest federal filings, Trump still has not donated a penny of his own, while his businesses continued to charge the campaign for hotels, food, rent and legal consulting. That means the richest president in American history has turned $1.1 million from donors across the country into revenue for himself.



Because of course, he did. And the Trump cultists are only too happy to help.

Here’s the thing with Donald Trump, though. Everything he does is a grift, and his greed simply knows no bounds. If at any point he’d thought Don Jr. had swallowed a quarter, he’d have put on a mask and snorkel, sliced him open like a tauntaun, and dived in like Hooper in the third act of Jaws.

Trump Tower Commercial LLC, an entity owned 100% by the president, has charged the reelection campaign $665,000 in rent, according to federal filings. The Republican National Committee also coordinated with the campaign to pay an additional $225,000 in rent. Campaign representatives did not respond to requests for comment, and an RNC official declined to answer questions about the payments, leaving it unclear exactly how much space they leased inside Trump Tower.

But it appears to be plenty. Leading up to the 2016 election, the president’s campaign paid an average of $2,700 in monthly Trump Tower rent for every person listed in campaign filings as receiving a “payroll” payment. The 2020 operation, by contrast, is shelling out an average of $6,300 in monthly rent for every such person.


Oh, but here’s the thing, though. One of the Trump properties charging rent to the Trump campaign appears to be accommodating literally no one having anything to do with the Trump campaign. If you wanted to be charitable you’d call this dishonest. If not, you might call it fraud.

Trump Plaza LLC has received $42,000 from the Trump campaign since November 2017 for “rent,” but it’s unclear what the campaign is actually using that space for (other than grifting Trump’s famously incurious followers, that is).

So Forbes staked out the buildings, arriving at 7:15 a.m. one November morning and staying for the next 14 hours, with the exception of an 18-minute break around 3 p.m. By our count, seven people went in and out of the twin, four-story brownstones over the course of the day. One refused to talk, and six said they had not seen any sign of the campaign in the buildings. Nor had a man behind the front desk at Trump Plaza. “I’ve been here since the beginning,” he said. “If there was any kind of office rented out for campaigning or whatever, I would know about it.”

Oh, and that’s not all!

There are other campaign payments that raise suspicions. One month after Robert Mueller was appointed special counsel to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 election, the campaign paid the Trump Corporation, another one of the president’s companies, $90,000 in “legal consulting” expenses, according to federal records. It is not clear what legal services Trump’s company provided the campaign, or what rate it charged for the work. A spokesperson for the Trump Organization did not respond to requests for comment.

This is what happens when you elect a lifelong conman as your president. He fucking cons you.

So if you happened to send a donation to Donald Trump’s reelection campaign at any time since January 2017, you might want to ask him what happened to it.
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Re: Trump enters the stage exit strategy ?

Postby Meno_ » Sun Dec 09, 2018 11:58 pm

The departure of White House chief of staff John Kelly is raising concerns about how the White House will face potential legal and political challenges in 2019.

Kelly, who was thought to bring order to an often chaotic White House, will leave the West Wing as special counsel Robert Mueller's probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election appears to be closing in on President Trump.

Trump will also face a divided Congress next year, with Democrats slated to take control of the House in January, giving the party subpoena power.

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) said Sunday on ABC's "This Week" that he's concerned Mueller may be on the "chopping block" after the departure of Kelly.


Now, this:


Done With Michael Cohen, Federal Prosecutors Shift Focus to Trump Family Business
Image



Let's see how it works out, probably he may even survive this maelstrom and re-elected in 2020. I wonder what the bets are.
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Re: Trump enters the stage

Postby Meno_ » Mon Dec 10, 2018 3:40 pm

U.S.
DONALD TRUMP WILL RESIGN PRESIDENCY WITH 10 MINUTES LEFT IN TERM SO MIKE PENCE CAN PARDON HIM, CONSERVATIVE COLUMNIST PREDICTS
BY KATHERINE HIGNETT ON 12/10/18 AT 5:38 AM




In the wake of Robert Mueller's release of key court filings in the Russia probe on Friday, conservative columnist Jennifer Rubin said Sunday that President Donald Trump would pull an unusual last-minute move to protect himself from potential legal action.

“I would predict here on MSNBC that when Trump leaves office he will resign the presidency 10 minutes before Mike Pence leaves office, allowing Pence to pardon him if there is not a Republican president to follow him,” Rubin told the network’s AM Joy program.

Read more: Trump would have made hundreds of millions of dollars from Russia for Trump Tower Moscow, Mueller filing reveals


The columnist was commenting on the possibility that the Department of Justice would indict Trump after he leaves office.

She also blasted remarks from Senator Rand Paul, who earlier questioned whether Trump had broken any laws over plans to build a hotel in Russia on NBC’s Meet the Press.

Donald Trump, Impeachment, Resignation, Robert Mueller, Mueller Probe, Russia Investigation
U.S. President Donald Trump answers questions from the media while leaving the White House on December 8. After Robert Mueller's release of key court filings in the Russia probe on Friday, conservative columnist Jennifer Rubin said Sunday that Trump would pull an unusual last-minute move to protect himself from potential legal action.



“I don’t see what’s illegal about trying to build a hotel in Russia. This is pretty common and I see no problem with it,” Paul said. “Now if you’re asking and saying I will give you something in exchange for letting us build a hotel, that would be wrong, but I haven’t heard any evidence of that.”

Rubin called the comments “shameful,” saying: “I think there was a $50 million penthouse, if I remember it correctly, that was going to be offered to Vladimir Putin.

“The president has been implicated in a crime. If Rand Paul wants to say Republicans are no longer in favor of holding the president to the same standard of law we hold ordinary citizens, that is his right. But I think this kind of wilful ignorance...really is beneath someone who is in the United States Senate.”


Agreeing with fellow panellist and Post op-ed writer E. J. Dionne, Rubin also said Democrats would have a moral obligation to try to impeach Trump if evidence emerged he had committed an impeachable offense. But she also said making such a move would be “politically unwise.”

“You wouldn’t be able to remove him, and it would infuriate a good chunk of the American people,” Rubin said. “So what do you do if you really are caught in that position where there’s overwhelming evidence of wrongdoing, of criminal wrongdoing?”




A likely scenario , although quite a derogstory exit strategy.



Congressional predictions:




Incoming top Democrats talk of impeachment and jail time for Trump with increasing confidence
Alexandra Ma Dec 10, 2018, 8:49 AM


President Donald Trump talking to reporters before departing for the G20 summit.Jonathan Ernst/Reuters
President Donald Trump could be jailed or impeached based on new legal evidence, top Democrats have said.
They were responding to news surrounding Trump's former personal lawyer Michael Cohen, who has pleaded guilty to facilitating two illegal payments to women during the 2016 presidential campaign.
Federal prosecutors on Friday accused Cohen of facilitating the payments "in coordination and at the direction of Individual-1," who is believed to be Trump.
Rep. Adam Schiff, the incoming House Intelligence Committee chairman, said Trump could "face the real prospect of jail time" as soon as he leaves office.
Rep. Jerry Nadler, the incoming chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, described the alleged actions as "impeachable offenses," though he suggested impeachment might not actually be pursued.
The incoming chairs of two powerful House committees have predicted legal peril for President Donald Trump, with one referring to recent accusations about Michael Cohen's illegal hush-money payments as "impeachable offenses."

"There's a very real prospect that on the day Donald Trump leaves office the Justice Department may indict him, that he may be the first president in quite some time to face the real prospect of jail time," Rep. Adam Schiff, the incoming chair of the House Intelligence Committee, told the CBS show "Face the Nation" on Sunday.

"We have been discussing the issue of pardons that the president may offer to people or dangle in front of people. The bigger pardon question may come down the road as the next president has to determine whether to pardon Donald Trump."

Schiff was responding to the latest sentencing document from federal prosecutors on Friday, which alleged that the longtime Trump lawyer and confidant Michael Cohen "acted in coordination with and at the direction of Individual-1."

Individual-1 is widely believed to be Trump. The coordination relates to payments to two women who said they had affairs with Trump. The payments, which Cohen has pleaded guilty to facilitating, were considered illegal campaign contributions meant to aid Trump's campaign.

"With respect to both payments, Cohen acted with the intent to influence the 2016 presidential election," the memo said.

"In particular, and as Cohen himself has now admitted, with respect to both payments, he acted in coordination with and at the direction of Individual-1," it added. "As a result of Cohen's actions, neither woman spoke to the press prior to the election."

Read more: Federal prosecutors say Cohen committed crimes 'in coordination with and at the direction of' Trump

Trump on Monday morning described the payments as a "private transaction" that "was done correctly by a lawyer and there would not even be a fine." He added that it was the "lawyer's liability if he made a mistake, not me."

Rep. Jerry Nadler, the incoming chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, also told CNN that if Trump were found to have directed the payments, it would amount to "impeachable offenses," though he did not commit to pursuing impeachment in that scenario.

Federal prosecutors have linked Trump to the crimes his former attorney Michael Cohen has pleaded guilty.AP Photo/Julie Jacobson
"They would be impeachable offenses - whether they are important enough to justify an impeachment is a different question," he told CNN's Jake Tapper.

"But certainly they'd be impeachable offenses because even though they were committed before the president became president, they were committed in the service of fraudulently obtaining the office - that would be an impeachable offense."

Rep. Jerry Nadler, here in 2014, said Trump's involvement in Cohen's actions — if true — were "impeachable offenses."Getty / Andrew Burton
Nadler added that Congress might not immediately impeach Trump, calling the action "an attempt to, in effect, overturn the result of the last election." He said Congress should consider impeachment "only for very serious situations."

"You don't necessarily launch an impeachment against the president because he committed an impeachable offense," he said. "There are several things you have to look at."

He added: "One, were impeachable offenses committed, how many, et cetera. Secondly, how important were they? Do they rise to the gravity where you should undertake an impeachment?"

The new Congress is scheduled to convene Jan 1.

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Re: Trump enters the stage

Postby Meno_ » Mon Dec 10, 2018 6:31 pm

President's defense, credible, even if the sources of them are questionable, perhaps consisting of party contributions?



President Trump defends payments to women as 'private transaction'
DAVID JACKSON | USA TODAY | 1 hour ago


President Donald Trump says ex-lawyer Michael Cohen is a 'weak person' who is 'lying' to get a reduced sentence.' Trump made the comments shortly after Cohen pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about a Trump real estate deal in Russia. (Nov. 29)
AP
WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump on Monday dismissed payments to alleged mistresses just before the 2016 presidential election as "a simple private transaction," disputing claims by prosecutors that they amounted to a conspiracy to evade campaign finance laws.


While some congressional Democrats cast the payments as potential cause for impeachment, Trump said investigators are looking for something to pin on him because they have been unable to prove any collusion with Russians who sought to influence his presidential election.

"So now the Dems go to a simple private transaction, wrongly call it a campaign contribution," Trump said during a series of early morning tweets.

Trump's former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, is scheduled to be sentenced this week after pleading guilty to felony campaign finance violations, financial crimes and lying to Congress about Trump's business dealings in Russia.

More: Robert Mueller: Cohen provided details 'core' to inquiry into Russian coordination with Trump campaign

More: Five bombshells from the Michael Cohen memos, including information he's given Mueller

In legal filings released Friday, prosecutors said Cohen told them that when he made the payments to the women "he acted in coordination with and at the direction of" Trump, whom they identified in the filings as “Individual 1.”

President Donald Trump
WIN MCNAMEE, GETTY IMAGES
On Twitter, Trump argued that, even if the payments amounted to campaign contributions, they would constitute a civil case, not a criminal one, and "there would not even be a fine."

The Federal Election Commission handles campaign-finance violations that aren't "willful violations" or that involve smaller sums through civil enforcement provisions, which are typically fines.

A key Democrat said the payoff scheme could amount to an impeachable offense.

"Whether they are important enough to justify an impeachment is a different question," said Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., who is expected to chair the House Judiciary Committee when Democrats take control of the House next year, on CNN's "State of the Union."

“Democrats can’t find a Smocking Gun tying the Trump campaign to Russia after James Comey’s testimony. No Smocking Gun...No Collusion.” @FoxNews That’s because there was NO COLLUSION. So now the Dems go to a simple private transaction, wrongly call it a campaign contribution,...

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 10, 2018
....which it was not (but even if it was, it is only a CIVIL CASE, like Obama’s - but it was done correctly by a lawyer and there would not even be a fine. Lawyer’s liability if he made a mistake, not me). Cohen just trying to get his sentence reduced. WITCH HUNT!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 10, 2018
Trump has repeatedly denied that he directed his former lawyer, Michael Cohen, to pay hush money to women who claimed to have had affairs with him.

Trump has accused Cohen of lying in an effort to get his sentence reduced following his guilty pleas.

In his tweets, Trump again compared his situation to one involving President Barack Obama's 2008 campaign. The campaign was fined $375,000 by the Federal Election Commission for regulatory civil violations that included missing filing deadlines for disclosing large donations late in the election cycle, reporting wrong dates for some contributions, and not returning excessive donations quickly enough.

Legal analysts said the allegations against Trump could amount to a felony because it amounts to a conspiracy to conceal payments from campaign contribution reports – and from the voters.

Former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti said Obama's violation "consisted of failing to submit certain forms in time," while the Trump allegations involve large payments through shell companies and his lawyer.

"The former is negligent and the latter is knowing and willful," he said. "That is the difference – the mental state required."

Back in August, Cohen pleaded guilty to campaign finance felonies and told a judge that Trump directed illegal payments "for the principal purpose of influencing the election” for president in 2016.

The investigation of payoffs is separate from the other being conducted by special counsel Robert Mueller into Russian influence in the 2016 election, though Cohen is also cooperating with Mueller's office.

In other filings on Friday, Mueller's office said Cohen is providing his office "with useful information concerning certain discrete Russia-related matters core to its investigation."

In assessing possible impeachment hearings, Nadler cited on CNN evidence of repeated contacts between Trump's campaign and Russians.

"The fact of the matter is that what we see from these indictments and charging statements is a much broader conspiracy against the American people involving these payments, involving an attempt to influence the campaign improperly, with improper payments involving the Russians trying to get influence in the campaign," Nadler said.

In his tweets, which included misspellings, Trump quoted a Fox News reports saying that “Democrats can’t find a Smocking Gun tying the Trump campaign to Russia after James Comey’s testimony. No Smocking Gun...No Collusion.”

He meant to say "smoking gun."

More: Feds: Ex-Trump lawyer Michael Cohen should get 'substantial prison term'

More: 'Thank you': Donald Trump claims vindication after Mueller investigation updates



Originally Published 4 hours ago
Updated 1 hour ago


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Re: Trump enters the stage

Postby Meno_ » Tue Dec 11, 2018 12:40 am

Opinion
Trump's tweets show how
The president crowing about vindication is a ploy to distract from the mounting evidence of collusion with Russia


It was easy to tell how rattled President Trump was by Robert Mueller’s most recent and devastating court filings. In a tweet-storm, the president (referred to as Individual 1 in the court documents) kept insisting the filings were good news for him.

This is a typical Trump ploy going back decades to his earliest days in the real estate business. After having to settle a case in which the family real estate empire was turning away black tenants in the 1970s, the young mogul rushed to the microphones to claim victory.

The new documents filed for Michael Cohen’s sentencing were clearly terrible news for the president. We already knew from Cohen’s earlier guilty plea that Individual 1 (AKA Trump) was up to his eyeballs in the plan to pay hush money to two women who said they had sex with him. The prosecutors’ court filings on Friday were important because they show Cohen told them that it was Donald Trump himself who directed him to make the payments, which were illegal because campaign money was used. So, the president’s direct involvement in a felony violation of US campaign laws could place him in greater legal jeopardy.

The president’s reaction to the filings came, naturally, in a tweet: “Totally clears the president. Thank you!” That day, he had also said: “On the Mueller situation, we’re very happy with what we are reading because there was no collusion whatsoever. The last thing I want is help from Russia on a campaign. You should ask Hillary Clinton about Russia.” Of course, the opposite is true.

The new court documents show still more suspicious contacts between top Trump campaign advisers and Russians with close government connections. These contacts are added proof of the Russian meddling in the 2016 election that Mueller has been investigating for almost two years. The pieces of a collusion case are beginning to fit together.

Mueller revealed that Cohen, the Trump fixer, told prosecutors about a previously unknown November 2015 contact with an unnamed Russian national who claimed to be a “trusted person” in the Russian Federation. The Russian was offering Cohen help on winning approval for a Trump Tower in Moscow that the Trump Organization had been pursuing for years. During his campaign Trump repeatedly denied doing any business in Russia, another epic lie.

But Cohen’s unnamed Russian contact was offering more than help on a business deal. He was also suggesting political help, calling it “political synergy” and “synergy on a government level”, according to the new filings. Cohen said this person also offered to arrange a meeting between Trump and Vladimir Putin, promising that such a meeting would have a “phenomenal” impact, “not only in political but in a business dimension as well”. Apparently, Cohen did not follow up with his unnamed Russian contact, but the offer of political help points to a collusion case, since it is illegal for foreign countries to meddle in US elections.

Another new document focused on Paul Manafort’s lying about his contacts with a suspected Russian spy named Konstantin Kilimnik. Although much of the material about Kilimnik is heavily redacted, Mueller has said he has ties to the same Russian intelligence unit that was involved in the hacking of Democratic party emails, which formed the basis of an earlier Mueller indictment of Russian intelligence officials. This filing, too, enlarges the number of Russian contacts Trump campaign officials are known to have had.

Cohen is scheduled to be sentenced next week in New York City. Manafort’s sentencing has been scheduled for 5 March.

Also due to be sentenced is Michael Flynn, the short-lived national security adviser. He had already pleaded guilty to lying about calls with Russia’s ambassador about sanctions imposed on Russia by President Obama and a United Nations vote on Israel. Mueller recommended no jail time for Flynn because he’s given “substantial” help to the investigation. Flynn had 19 interviews with Mueller’s team and offered firsthand knowledge of “interactions between individuals in the presidential transition team and Russia” following the 2016 election.

With the flurry of recent activity, it looks like Mueller’s investigation may be wrapping up and that he may have a strong collusion case. We have not yet seen the fruits of Mueller’s other area of interest: whether the president obstructed justice to hide these Russian contacts.

Axios has compiled a comprehensive list of the Russian contacts with Trump officials known so far. They include his eldest son, his son-in-law, his lawyer and his campaign manager. The contacts started earlier (in Cohen’s case in 2015) and continued into the transition. The list shows how substantial Mueller’s case has grown and has to be deeply disturbing to the president.

Of course, according to the president, he has been vindicated. In coming days, he will be tweeting and repeatedly reminding us that Mueller has found “no collusion”. The only person the president says should be investigated for Russian collusion is, naturally, Hillary Clinton.

• Jill Abramson is a Guardian US columnist

© 2018 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.
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Re: Trump enters the stage

Postby Meno_ » Tue Dec 11, 2018 12:44 am

President faces difficult chief of staff choice as he is warned of impeachment and jail time over escalating Russia probe
New court filings detail Trump campaign members' 'crimes and lies' with potentially damaging impact on president

Chris Riotta New York @chrisriotta ,
Tom Embury-Dennis @tomemburyd ,
Clark Mindock @ClarkMindock


Donald Trump has been warned he faces the "very real prospect" of jail time as the fallout from the bombshell publication of court filings intensifies.

As the probe into Mr Trump's conduct both before and during office escalates, House Democrats are openly raising the prospect of impeachment or prison time for the US president if it is proved he directed illegal hush-money payments to women.


Jerry Nadler, the incoming chairman of the house judiciary committee, described the details in prosecutors' filings in the case of Mr Trump's former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, as evidence Mr Trump was "at the centre of a massive fraud".


KEY POINTS
Trump addresses Cohen filing, claims any wrongdoing is 'civil' rather than criminal
Former CIA director says it is now 'impossible' for Trump to escape justice
Democrats say president is in impeachable territory after latest developments
At least 14 Trump campaign members spoke with Russians during the election
Please allow the blog a moment to load

"They would be impeachable offences," Mr Nadler said.

"There's a very real prospect that on the day Donald Trump leaves office, the Justice Department may indict him, that he may be the first president in quite some time to face the real prospect of jail time," said Adam Schiff, the incoming chairman of the House intelligence committee.

"The bigger pardon question may come down the road as the next president has to determine whether to pardon Donald Trump."

In the filings, prosecutors in New York for the first time link Mr Trump to a federal crime of illegal payments to buy the silence of two women during the 2016 campaign.

Who could be running against Trump in 2020?
Show all 21
When asked what usually happened after such a filing, James Comey, the sacked former FBI director, told MSNBC: “That person would be in serious jeopardy of being charged.”

Special counsel Robert Mueller's office also laid out previously undisclosed contacts between Trump associates and Russian intermediaries and suggested the Kremlin aimed early on to influence Mr Trump and his Republican campaign by playing to both his political and personal business interests.

Mr Trump has denied wrongdoing and has compared the investigations to a "witch hunt."

Mr Nadler said it was too early to say whether Congress would pursue impeachment proceedings based on the illegal payments alone because lawmakers would need to weigh the gravity of the offence to justify "overturning" the 2016 election.

Mr Nadler and other lawmakers said on Sunday that they would await additional details from Mr Mueller's investigation into Russian election interference and possible coordination with the Trump campaign to determine the extent of Mr Trump's misconduct.

Regarding the illegal payments, "whether they are important enough to justify an impeachment is a different question, but certainly they'd be impeachable offences because even though they were committed before the president became president, they were committed in the service of fraudulently obtaining the office," Mr Nadler said.

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Mr Mueller has not said when he will complete a report of any findings, and it isn't clear that any such report would be made available to Congress. That would be up to the attorney general. Mr Trump on Friday said he would nominate former attorney general William Barr to the post to succeed Jeff Sessions.

Mr Nadler indicated that Democrats, who will control the House in January, will step up their own investigations. He said Congress, the Justice Department and the special counsel needed to dig deeper into the allegations, which included questions about whether Mr Trump lied about his business arrangements with Russians and about possible obstruction of justice.

"The new Congress will not try to shield the president," he said. "We will try to get to the bottom of this, in order to serve the American people and to stop this massive conspiracy — this massive fraud on the American people."

Mr Schiff also stressed a need to wait "until we see the full picture." He has previously indicated his panel would seek to look into the Trump family's business ties with Russia.

"I think we also need to see this as a part of a broader pattern of potential misconduct by the president, and it's that broad pattern, I think, that will lead us to a conclusion about whether it rises to the level to warrant removal from office," Mr Schiff said.

In the legal filings, the Justice Department stopped short of accusing Mr Trump of directly committing a crime. But it said Mr Trump told Mr Cohen to make illegal payments to porn actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal, both of whom claimed to have had affairs with Mr Trump more than a decade ago.

In separate filings, Mr Mueller's team detail how Mr Cohen spoke to a Russian who "claimed to be a 'trusted person' in the Russian Federation who could offer the campaign 'political synergy' and 'synergy on a government level."'

Mr Cohen said he never followed up on that meeting. Mr Mueller's team also said former campaign chairman Paul Manafort lied to them about his contacts with a Russian associate and Trump administration officials, including in 2018.

Republican senator Marco Rubio called the latest filings "relevant" in judging Mr Trump's fitness for office but said lawmakers need more information to render judgment. He also warned the White House about considering a pardon for Mr Manafort, saying such a step could trigger congressional debate about limiting a president's pardon powers.

Such a move would be "a terrible mistake," Mr Rubio said. "Pardons should be used judiciously. They're used for cases with extraordinary circumstances."

Senator Angus King, a member of the Senate intelligence committee, cautioned against a rush to impeachment, which he said citizens could interpret as "political revenge and a coup against the president",

"The best way to solve a problem like this, to me, is elections," Mr King said. "I'm a conservative when it comes to impeachment. I think it's a last resort and only when the evidence is clear of a really substantial legal violation. We may get there, but we're not there now."

Democratic senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut urged Mr Mueller to "show his cards soon" so that Congress can make a determination early next year on whether to act on impeachment.

"Let's be clear: We have reached a new level in the investigation," Mr Murphy said. "It's important for Congress to get all of the underlying facts and data and evidence that the special counsel has."

Mr Nadler spoke on CNN's State of the Union on Sunday, Mr Rubio was on CNN and ABC's This Week, and Mr Schiff appeared on CBS' Face the Nation. Mr Murphy spoke on ABC, and Mr King was on NBC's Meet the Press.
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Re: Trump enters the stage

Postby Meno_ » Tue Dec 11, 2018 12:49 am

OPINION
Donald Trump And Robert Mueller: The End Game
Robert Kuttner
Columnist
12/10/2018 07:30 AM ET
|
Updated 5 hours ago

At several previous points in Donald Trump’s presidency, it looked as if he could not possibly survive to the end of his four-year term. Yet Trump always managed to change the subject, his public shrugged, Republicans continued to support him, and Trump rolled merrily on.

This time could be different. The stage is now set for what appears to be an inexorable path to impeachment or resignation.

Let’s review what special counsel Robert Mueller has on Trump. Based on the most recent combined filings of the special counsel and prosecutors at the U.S. Attorney’s office in Manhattan, the evidence is piling up to document the following:

1. In September 2015, Trump personally approved the plan of personal lawyer and longtime fixer Michael Cohen to make high-level contacts with the Russian government to build a Trump Tower in Moscow. Cohen, according to Mueller’s seven-page memo, continued to talk with “Individual-1” ― Donald Trump ― well into the campaign. Even after Trump was nominated, these conversations continued, and with Trump’s full knowledge.

Meanwhile, the Russians were doing their level best to help Trump get elected, including serious mischief to undermine Hillary Clinton’s campaign, and Trump was publicly and privately calling for a much friendlier American foreign policy stance toward Vladimir Putin, something wildly improbable for a Republican candidate and later president.

2. Trump misrepresented the nature of key meetings with senior Kremlin-connected Russians to discuss their collaboration for mutual benefit, including dirt on Hillary Clinton. Contrary to his earlier protestations, he was fully knowledgeable about the June 9, 2016, meeting at Trump Tower, which featured Donald Trump Jr., Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner, in close communication with Trump senior. Trump has repeatedly lied about this.

3. In another ring of the circus, Cohen confirmed to prosecutors that he advanced hush money for two women who said they had affairs with Trump, including the porn actress Stormy Daniels, and that this done at the direction of the same Individual-1 in order to protect his campaign — a felony. And evidence keeps piling up that Trump took actions as president to use his office to profit from his various hotel properties, and to win other financial favors from various foreign governments.

In Watergate, the House Judiciary Committee voted to impeach Richard Nixon on three counts ― obstruction of justice, abuse of power and contempt of Congress. Trump has more than met the Nixon standard.
Still to come from Mueller could be more detail on tax evasion and possible money laundering by the Trump Organization, or bribes paid to foreigners in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. And, in what may get himself even further into big trouble, Trump has publicly suggested that he might pardon former campaign manager Manafort for making a deal with the special counsel and then double-crossing Mueller.

So what does all this add up to?

We have clear obstruction of justice in Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey after unsuccessfully pressing Comey to go easy on Trump allies, plus multiple attempts, most recently via Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker, to rein in Mueller, and the use of proffered pardons to tamper with witnesses.

We have an open-and-shut case of violation of the Constitution’s emoluments clause, which prohibits an officer of the United States from profiting from public office. We have something close to treason in the 180-degree reversal of U.S. foreign policy toward Russia, following negotiations with the Russians about a Moscow tower and Russian help to Trump in the campaign.

And with Cohen’s admissions, we have a criminal violation of campaign finance laws, with the added possible elements of fraud and conspiracy.

All of these are clearly impeachable offenses, and some of them create criminal liability as well. In Watergate, the House Judiciary Committee voted to impeach Richard Nixon on three counts ― obstruction of justice, abuse of power and contempt of Congress. Trump has more than met the Nixon standard.

Incoming House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) is one of the Democrats who will be able to act on the findings of the Mueller investigation. (Toya Sarno Jordan via Getty Images)
The broad outline of this story has been hidden in plain view for more than a year. Mueller’s latest memos, indictments and plea deals provide solid documentation.

There remains the question of whether Trump could be indicted while in office. That issue has never been settled constitutionally. Watergate special prosecutor Leon Jaworski strongly implied that Nixon could be prosecuted when he named Nixon as an unindicted co-conspirator. Mueller seems to be taking the same approach by mentioning Individual-1, who is unmistakably Trump, but leaving his options open.

Meanwhile, Democrats take charge of the House in just three weeks. So what happens next?

In effect, Mueller hands off whatever loose ends remain to the House Judiciary Committee and the House Intelligence Committee. They will call and, if necessary, subpoena witnesses and documents.

The Democrats can’t get ahead of public opinion. They need to build a bulletproof case, step by step, and then proceed to a formal impeachment. In Watergate, that took a full two years.
There are some, such as billionaire activist and possible presidential candidate Tom Steyer, who want the House to proceed directly to impeachment. There are many others who argue that impeachment would be a distraction at a time when Trump keeps doing himself in politically.

Both of these counsels are wrong, in my view. Other investigations need to proceed first, as incoming House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler keeps pointing out. The Democrats can’t get ahead of public opinion. They need to build a bulletproof case, step by step, and then proceed to a formal impeachment. In Watergate, that took a full two years.

In this case, because Mueller has already laid most of the groundwork, impeachment would likely come in 2019, well before the 2020 election.

Given Trump’s crimes, it would be a real shirking of constitutional duty not to impeach. And contrary to those who argue that impeachment would be a distraction, it could well be smart politics.

The case for impeaching Trump is so overwhelming that it will put the 10 Senate Republicans with vulnerable seats in 2020 or 2022 in an awkward position. And others, even relative loyalists, may decide the time has come to trade in Trump for Vice President Mike Pence. Relations between the Republican Senate and Trump are nothing if not opportunist, cynical and transactional.

You might say that trading Trump for Pence is not good for the Democrats, but think again. Pence has nothing of Trump’s feral charisma, he is a lousy politician, and he would be presiding over a fractured party.

So, my bet is that Trump will be gone by November 2020. I don’t have a crystal ball to tell you how. It could be by impeachment; it could be via resignation after Republican senators make him an offer he can’t refuse; or through a deal that spares him and his family prosecution if he leaves office. Or he might get so angry that he just turns into a puddle, like the wicked witch of the west.

With Trump, you never know. But it’s pretty clear that he’s cornered. And that’s scary all by itself. Trump cornered is capable of anything.((Could he at this point play possum while being commander in chief start a major war at any of the powder kegs abounding the world over? )l?
Think again!

Robert Kuttner is co-editor of The American Prospect and a professor at Brandeis University’s Heller School. His latest book is Can Democracy Survive Global Capitalism? Follow him on Twitter at @rkuttnerwrites.

Donald Trump Robert Mueller Impeachment End Game
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Re: Trump enters the stage end game? Or more

Postby Meno_ » Tue Dec 11, 2018 2:06 am

Trump’s actions ‘beyond the stage’ of Clinton impeachment, senator says
By Robert Schroeder
Published: Dec 10, 2018 10:24 am ET
One analyst sees 55% chance of Trump impeachment
Sen. Chris Murphy

Findings from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe indicate that President Donald Trump’s actions have gone beyond what led to the impeachment of former President Bill Clinton, according to Sen. Chris Murphy.

“I think you are beyond the stage that led to the impeachment proceedings against President Clinton.”
Sen. Chris Murphyof the same?
Speaking on ABC’s “This Week,” the Connecticut Democrat was responding to the most recent revelations from Mueller’s investigation — including prosecutors saying that former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort lied about his contacts with a Russian associate and Trump administration officials.


See: Mueller’s team says Paul Manafort lied about contacts with Trump administration.

Federal prosecutors also said Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen acted at Trump’s direction to arrange two illegal hush-money payments to women who alleged they had sexual encounters with the president.

Also read: Michael Cohen worked ‘at the direction of’ Trump in arranging illegal payments, Manhattan prosecutors say.

Murphy, a frequent Trump critic, also said that Trump had entered the same territory that led to President Richard Nixon resigning from office. “Was certainly a different set of facts, but this investigation is now starting to put the president in serious legal crosshairs and he should be worried and the whole country should be worried,” Murphy said on the Sunday program.

At least one analyst, Greg Valliere of Horizon Investments, sees increased odds for Trump’s being impeached by the House of Representatives. But while he sees impeachment chances up to 55%, he doesn’t reckon the Senate will follow through with conviction.


“It’s still VERY unlikely that there could be 67 votes in the Senate to convict him,” wrote Valliere, the firm’s chief global strategist, in a note on Monday.

Clinton was impeached by the House, and the Senate later acquitted him on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice.

Opinion: Trump’s coup d’etat to protect himself from Mueller should worry investors and businesses.
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Re: Trump enters the stage

Postby Meno_ » Tue Dec 11, 2018 5:46 pm

Is the political landscape changing character, or is this another play within a play?



U.S.
REPUBLICAN LAWMAKERS PRIVATELY CONSIDERING DUMPING DONALD TRUMP, MSNBC GUEST SAYS
By David Brennan On Tuesday, December 11, 2018 - 03:57

President Donald Trump talks to reporters before boarding Marine One as he departs the White House on December 8. A White House reporter told MSNBC that concrete evidence of wrongdoing by Trump could make continued Republican support for the president untenable.



Republican lawmakers are growing increasingly nervous as special counsel Robert Mueller’s net closes around President Donald Trump and his inner circle, even considering dumping the president to save the party, according to a guest on MSNBC’s Deadline: White House program.

Speaking to host Nicolle Wallace on Monday, Eli Stokols—a White House reporter for the Los Angeles Times—said that concrete evidence of wrongdoing by Trump could make continued Republican support for the president untenable.




“There is some understanding, I think, inside the White House of just how dark it may be getting,” the reporter said, adding that there were “private conversations people there are having with Republicans on the Hill who are starting to be concerned.”

Stokols continued, noting that Republican lawmakers “are starting to tell me privately—some of them—if there’s obvious evidence, the bottom’s going to fall out. They’re not going to be able to stand by this White House and that’s a looming problem for the president.”

In U.S. District Court for Southern District of New York last month, former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to making misleading statements to Congress during testimony detailing his contact with Russians during the 2016 presidential campaign.

In a sentencing memo released last week following Cohen's most recent plea, Mueller noted that the lawyer—who has already been convicted of campaign finance violations—provided “credible” and “useful” information for the ongoing special counsel probe into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 election.



Fox News Legal Analyst Says Trump Faces Legal Peril
Cohen had already pleaded guilty in August to illegally using campaign funds to make non-disclosure payments to two women alleged to have had affairs with Trump. Last week’s memo noted he had done so at the direction of “Individual 1”—i.e., Donald Trump.



Stokols said the Mueller investigation and the Southern District of New York both “probably have a lot more evidence than just the word of Michael Cohen, and that has to worry the president.”

Trump and his attorney Rudy Giuliani have been characteristically stubborn in the face of the allegations. Soon after the sentencing memo was published, the president tweeted, “Totally clears the President. Thank you!”

“Yes, he and Rudy Giuliani on some level believe that they can continue to attack the investigators, to try to convince the public that there is something nefarious and something politically motivated about this,” Stokols told Wallace.

“But when all the facts are laid out and people can see the investigators’ work, I think it’s going to be very problematic for this president.

Wallace noted that the Southern District of New York prosecutors could, “without all of the hoopla and politicking and attacks from the president…transmit their findings to Congress if they want to.”

Stokols confirmed that they could do so, explaining “it’s much harder to stop what’s happening in that office as opposed to with the special counsel’s investigation.

“This train has left the station, there’s really nothing that this White House can do about it,” he said. “I think that’s a source of frustration to the president, and also it’s difficult to politicize. It’s difficult to go out and demonize that office because, as you pointed out already, that’s a Trump appointee running that office.”

On Sunday, Chris Christie—Republican former New Jersey governor and long-time Trump ally—told ABC’s This Week that the president and his inner circle had good reason to be concerned. “The language in the sentencing memo is different from what we've heard before,” Christie told host George Stephanopoulos.

“The language sounds very definite. And what I'd be concerned about is, what corroboration do they have?” he continued. “When prosecutors sound that definitive they've got more usually than just one witness.”

This article has been updated to include comments made by Chris Christie.





© Copyright 2018 NEWSWEEK
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Re: Trump enters the stage

Postby Meno_ » Tue Dec 11, 2018 10:48 pm

Now that the chief of staff is out, the abounding fears include the credible notion, that the way is cleared for firing the special prosecutor, a remake of the scenario surrounding Nixon's Archibald Cox.

Other fears having a possible unhinged guy at the helm, who, out of desperation may do something irrational and in contradiction to the welfare of the state.

Not that this trait would come as a big surprise to anyone. The problem of the deepening of familiar logistics may exorbitate rather then enlighten political perception. This pattern is also familiar.Reminds of the Ibsen plot, 'The enemy of the People'.
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Re: Trump enters the stage

Postby Meno_ » Wed Dec 12, 2018 5:05 am

Conservative Columnist Thinks 1 Word In Cohen Memo May Seal Donald Trump’s Fate

|
Updated 12 hours ago

One seven-letter word ― “synergy” ― may prove critical in proving the allegations that President Donald Trump colluded with Russia, according to Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin.

Rubin asked in her column Monday what would happen if “collusion” wasn’t just defined (as it has been by many) as the alleged “plot operating in 2016 between then-candidate Donald Trump and Russians to manipulate the election” but was actually widened to include an earlier alleged 2015 “plot” for Trump to “make hundreds of millions” on projects while denying “any deals” with the Russians.

“Notice the word ‘synergy’” in special counsel Robert Mueller’s sentencing memorandum in the case of Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen, Rubin wrote. She added:

“According to Mueller, Michael Cohen was contacted shortly after Trump declared his candidacy, in November 2015, by a ‘trusted person’ in the Russian government who could offer the campaign ‘political synergy’ and ‘synergy on a government level.’”

Rubin claimed that “all of Trump’s collusion denials crumble” if there was “concrete evidence of Trump’s approval (how could there not be?) to cooperate with Russia to make money and get some help.”

“Tying Trump to collusion in 2015 makes it interesting but non-essential to prove, for example, that he knew the Trump Tower meeting was ongoing,” she added. “Knowledge of the overall scheme with a foreign power would be more than enough to incriminate Trump.”

“In sum, if synergy is collusion and Trump was in on it, we have collusion,” she wrote, later adding: “If the collusion extended to coordination and assistance from a foreign government, would almost certainly be illegal.”
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Re: Trump enters the stage- breaks silence about 'fixer' Coh

Postby Meno_ » Wed Dec 12, 2018 7:53 pm

For Trump, it’s all downhill from here


The Trump Impeachment
UncategorizedUnfit To Lead
Trump claims he’s not concerned about impeachment: ‘I think people would revolt if that happened’
By Mark Sumner / Daily Kos (12/12/2018) - December 12, 20183..

In an interview with Reuters, Donald Trump repeated what’s become his version of the “Cell Block Tango” saying of the payoffs made to keep two women quiet before the election: “It wasn’t a campaign contribution. If it were, it’s only civil, and even if it’s only civil, there was no violation based on what we did. Okay?”

So … he didn’t do it. But if he did it, it was only a civil penalty. Except that’s not what federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York have already determined. The SDNY called both of the payments extremely serious violations of laws regarding campaign transparency. Not “civil” penalties, not misdemeanor violations, but felonies. Both carried out “in coordination with and at the direction of [Trump].”



But Trump claims to be unconcerned about the possibility of impeachment, saying that he would count on all those people who bring their psychoses to his rallies to save the day.

Trump: I’m not concerned, no. I think that the people would revolt if that happened.

But Cohen’s conviction on these matters didn’t even come from the special counsel’s office. This is a castoff case, one of the items that Robert Mueller handed off to other offices so that his team could devote their time to tackling the central issue of Trump’s connections to Russia. And everything that has come out in the last months—Michael Flynn’s sentencing documents, Cohen’s documents from the special counsel, Paul Manafort’s documents—only continues to underline the fact that Trump, his family, and over a dozen members had substantial contacts with representatives of the Russian government.

Trump continued to insist throughout the interview that the documents showed “no collusion” when even those parts of the documents that were visible outside of seal and redactions showed multiple instances of attempts, not just of Russia to reach out to Trump, but attempts by Trump to reach out to Russia.

Trump also used the interview to demonstrate, once again, his connection between whether or not someone has to face justice for their acts, and the number of zeroes in their bank account. He told Reuters that he would “intervene” in the case against Chinese telecom executive Meng Wanzhou if he thought it would land a trade deal. He also restated his decisions to let Saudi Arabian crown prince Mohammed bin Salman literally get away with murder saying that he stands by bin Salman.


The CIA has determined that bin Salman ordered the brutal torture, dismemberment, and murder of Washington Post journalist and U.S. resident Jamal Khashoggi. CIA director Gina Haspel has testified to Congress concerning the audio of the event, which includes the sounds of Khashoggi screaming as he is beaten, stripped, and his fingers are cut away with a bone saw. None of that was enough to budge Trump from his absolute support of bin Salman.

As indicated in the SDNY sentencing document for Michael Cohen, those payments to cover up Trump’s affairs were carried out “with the intent to suppress the stories and thereby prevent them from influencing the election.” Both payments were made “in coordination with and at the direction of [Trump]” and in at Trump’s direction, Cohen “deceived the voting public” by hiding facts about Trump in violation of laws requiring transparency concerning campaign expenditures. The entire coordinated scheme between Cohen and Trump was called “deliberate” and “sophisticated” and was caught on tape.

Cohen privately bragged … including in recorded conversation, that he had made the payment to spare [Trump] from damaging press and embarrassment.

As for the people who would rise up in revolt should impeachment be handed down … Trump may be surprised. Sure, those people have been chanting “Lock ‘er up!” for the last two years. But now that they’ve been trained to expect blood, they may not be too picky about the source.




Read more news from CNN
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Live TV
Trump says he never told former lawyer Michael Cohen to break the law
By Liz Stark, CNN


(CNN) President Donald Trump publicly broke his silence Thursday morning on the sentencing of his former personal attorney and "fixer" Michael Cohen.

The President did not dispute directing Cohen to make payments to women who accused him of having an affair in order to keep them quiet, but said he did not direct Cohen to break the law while doing so.

"I never directed Michael Cohen to break the law. He was a lawyer and he is supposed to know the law," Trump tweeted.


"It is called 'advice of counsel,' and a lawyer has great liability if a mistake is made," he added.

Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison Wednesday for crimes that included making false statements to Congress, tax evasion, and arranging payments during the 2016 election to silence women who claimed they had affairs with Trump. Trump denies those claims. Cohen attributed his offenses related to Trump to his "duty to cover up his dirty deeds."

As the courtroom drama unfolded Wednesday, Trump remained largely silent and ignored reporters' questions about Cohen during an executive order signing event at the White House.

But CNN reported that the President was privately seething about Cohen's sentencing, telling associates that Cohen is a "liar," according to one administration official. While the White House did not comment on Trump's private conversations, one official pointed to a tweet Trump sent last week as an indication of his sentiments.

"He lied for this outcome and should, in my opinion, serve a full and complete sentence," Trump tweeted about Cohen last week.




© 2018 Cable News Network. Turner Broadcasting System, Inc.
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Re: Trump enters the stage

Postby Meno_ » Thu Dec 13, 2018 8:09 pm

HERE WE GO
Get Ready for Mueller’s Phase Two: The Middle East Connection
Erin Banco
12.13.18 5:00 AM ET
EXCLUSIVE
Caminero/The Daily Beast
Over the past year, the indictments, convictions, and guilty pleas have largely been connected, in one way or another, to Russia. But now, special counsel Robert Mueller’s office is preparing to reveal to the public a different side of his investigation. In court filings that are set to drop in early 2019, prosecutors will begin to unveil Middle Eastern countries’ attempts to influence American politics, three sources familiar with this side of the probe told The Daily Beast.

In other words, the “Russia investigation” is set to go global.


While one part of the Mueller team has indicted Russian spies and troll-masters, another cadre has been spending its time focusing on how Middle Eastern countries pushed cash to Washington politicos in an attempt to sway policy under President Trump’s administration. Various witnesses affiliated with the Trump campaign have been questioned about their conversations with deeply connected individuals from the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Israel, according to people familiar with the probe. Topics in those meetings ranged from the use of social-media manipulation to help install Trump in the White House to the overthrow of the regime in Iran.

Now, according to those same sources, the Special Counsel’s Office is ready to outline what cooperating witnesses have told them about foreigners’ plans to help Trump win the presidency. Two sources with knowledge of the probe said Mueller’s team has for months discussed the possibility of issuing new charges on this side of the investigation.

“If this is going to be unveiled, this would be like the surfacing of the submarine but on the other plank which we haven’t seen,” said Harry Litman, a former U.S. attorney. “I guess what Mueller has to date has turned out to be pretty rich and detailed and more than we anticipated. This could turn out to be a rich part of the overall story.”




“If this is going to be unveiled, this would be like the surfacing of the submarine but on the other plank which we haven’t seen”
— Harry Litman, former U.S. Attorney

The switch in focus comes as Mueller winds down cooperation with former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, who participated in 19 interviews with the special counsel’s team. In often-heavily redacted court documents made public over the last two weeks, the Special Counsel’s Office hinted at ways in which Flynn helped with its investigation into links between Trumpworld figures and the Russian government.

But Flynn was also involved in conversations with representatives and influential individuals from other foreign governments, including the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Israel—encounters The Daily Beast has reported over the last several months. Flynn’s cooperation with Mueller could bring new details about the scope of the special counsel’s probe into how individuals from those countries offered not only to help Trump win the presidential election, but also how they sought to influence foreign policy in the early days of the administration.

Hussein Ibish, senior resident scholar at the Arab Gulf States Institute, said it is unclear if Mueller’s team will unveil nefarious foreign activity beyond what normally occurs in Washington.

“Many of these characters involved are somewhat unsavory,” he added. “But governments deal with all kinds of people all the time. It might be possible to question the wisdom of some of these connections, but not really possible to impugn the right of a government to deal with shadowy dealers in influence and access.”

Still, the Special Counsel’s Office has taken a keen interest this year in practices that were once considered business-as-usual in Washington. Republican operative Sam Patten pleaded guilty to the rarer-than-rare charge of “causing foreign money to be paid to the 2016-17 Presidential Inaugural Committee.” Former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and Flynn were both charged with not disclosing parts of their businesses under the Foreign Agents Registration Act—the first indictments of this nature in more than half a century.

It’s unclear exactly how, if at all, this side of Mueller’s probe overlaps with his mandate from the Department of Justice to investigate links and coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the Trump campaign.

Mueller also has the jurisdiction to “investigate and prosecute federal crimes committed in the course of, and with intent to interfere with, the special counsel’s investigation, such as perjury, obstruction of justice, destruction of evidence, and intimidation of witnesses,” according to the code.

“For something like this to happen, Mueller would have needed to get approval from [Deputy Attorney General Rod] Rosenstein for this,” Litman said. “It’s not really in the original grant of jurisdiction and it appears then that he made his case to Rosenstein some time ago and that Rosenstein agreed


Mueller’s office has been investigating several meetings attended by George Nader, a Lebanese-American businessman and emissary to the UAE. Nader helped arrange the now-infamous meeting between Trump associate and Blackwater founder Erik Prince and Kirill Dmitriev, the head of one of Russia’s sovereign wealth funds—and he also acted somewhat as a go-between with representatives from Gulf state governments, at least one well-connected Israeli, and the Trump team.

Although Nader has been cooperating with the Special Counsel’s Office since March, it is still unclear what evidence he has offered prosecutors during interviews.

In one August 2016 meeting, first reported by The New York Times and later confirmed by The Daily Beast, Nader told the room that the crown princes of both Saudi Arabia and the UAE were eager to help Trump win the election. Also ready to lend his services was Joel Zamel, a self-styled Mark Zuckerberg of the national-security world with deep ties to Israeli intelligence. Zamel had already been in close contact with the Trump team because one of his companies, Psy Group, had drawn up a plan to use social-media manipulation to help Trump clinch the Republican nomination. The company sent former senior campaign aide Rick Gates that proposal.

But the connections between Trumpworld and Psy Group in 2016 were more extensive than previously reported, as The Daily Beast noted in November. Former employees said there were at least two other individuals who reached out to the firm during the campaign, both representing themselves as members of Trump’s inner circle.

Over the past year, Mueller’s team has interviewed a host of employees from Psy Group because of its connection to the Trump camp. Several former employees said the firm never went forward with its plan to help Trump, but others disputed that claim.

Zamel, through his lawyer, has also said publicly that he cooperated with the Special Counsel’s Office. His lawyer did not immediately respond to requests for comment for this story. The Special Counsel’s Office declined to comment. Nader’s lawyer did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Zamel remained close to the Trump team throughout the election and into the transition. Part of the reason? He had an easy in. He had been introduced to Nader years earlier by John Hannah, a former aide to Dick Cheney who now works as a senior counselor at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a right-leaning think tank. Hannah has also been in the sights of the Special Counsel’s Office.

Zamel popped back into the mix in the transition period after the election and further offered services, this time for crafting a plan for regime change in Iran. The Daily Beast was the first to report the meeting, which included Nader, Flynn, and a Saudi general, Ahmed al-Assiri. During this time, Nader was also promoting a plan to carry out economic sabotage against Tehran. The meeting appears to be part of Saudi and Emirati efforts to lobby the incoming Trump administration against Qatar and Iran, their top regional competitors. The New York Times reported this year that Nader worked with Republican fundraiser Elliott Broidy to urge the White House to take an aggressive stance against the two countries.

NEO
Top Cheney Aide in Mueller’s Sights as Probe Expands
Erin Banco,
Betsy Woodruff

Mueller has also probed Nader’s role in the January 2017 Seychelles meeting between Prince and Dmitriev, CEO of the Russian Direct Investment Fund. In his House testimony, Prince said the meeting was a chance encounter and the two met to talk about trade and mineral wealth. But prosecutors this year received evidence that showed the meeting was premeditated. Communications reviewed by The Daily Beast reflect that narrative.

A memo shows the two spoke about a range of topics, including peace between Ukraine and Russia, military operations in Syria, investment in the Midwest, and nuclear weapons. Although RDIF is under U.S. sanctions, it was and is still legal for U.S. individuals to meet with Dmitriev, and, in some circumstances, do business with the fund.

Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee are hoping to take another shot at questioning Prince next year—part of the new Congress’ effort to investigate the Trump administration. Prince told The Daily Beast this summer that he was cooperating with the Special Counsel’s Office, but it is not clear to what extent. His previous lawyer, Victoria Toensing, is no longer representing him.
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Re: Trump enters the stage

Postby Meno_ » Thu Dec 13, 2018 11:05 pm

Now all of the above, in spite of overwhelming democratic desire for him to fail, my feeling is, without the flair of desire, we are obliged to fall.

We must not accede to the illusion that without the species of style, we are doomed into the pits of boring mediocrity, I'd accept the return to the capital of desired approach into the cradle of near mythical elegance of soul to the drudgery of bored in comeradship without the lord.
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Re: Trump enters the stage

Postby Meno_ » Fri Dec 14, 2018 5:03 am

New evidence suggesting that President Donald Trump directed his onetime fixer Michael Cohen to break campaign finance laws could constitute an impeachable offense, Democratic Rep. Jerry Nadler of New York told CNN’s Jack Tapper Sunday.

Nadler is the incoming chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, which drafts articles of impeachment.


“They would be impeachable offenses,” Nadler said. “Whether they are important enough to justify an impeachment is a different question. But, certainly, they would be impeachable offenses, because, even though they were committed before the president became president, they were committed in the service of fraudulently obtaining the office.”

Nadler went on to say that the outgoing Republican majority in Congress effectively shielded the president from legal exposure, but that the new Democratic majority would not do so. From his new perch as Judiciary chair, Nadler is expected to investigate the administration on a range of topics.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller released a charging memo recommending a “substantial” prison sentence for Cohen on Friday. The document alleges that Cohen executed a $130,000 hush payment to Stephanie Clifford, who appears in adult films under the name “Stormy Daniels,” at Trump’s direction.


Prosecutors and election law experts have suggested the payment amounts to an “in kind” campaign contribution which should have been reported to federal officials.

Clifford has since sued Cohen to invalidate the non-disclosure agreement she signed in exchange for the settlement. As Tapper noted in Sunday’s segment, prosecutors have not yet publicly established that Cohen was working at Trump’s behest.

The White House maintained the president’s innocence in a pair of statements late Friday, while Trump himself tweeted that Friday’s filing “totally clears the president.”


Elsewhere in the interview, Nadler said he does not agree with Department of Justice guidelines, which provide that a sitting president cannot be indicted. Those guidelines govern the special counsel’s investigation, though federal courts have never explored the issue in earnest.



Nancy Pelosi Announces Democrat Plan to Go After Trump’s Tax Returns
The Supreme Court could ultimately decide that question and related issues that the Mueller inquiry has raised, like whether Trump must comply with a subpoena.





Nadler Floats Impeachment, Says New Mueller Revelations Could Justify Removing Trump

By Daily Caller
Kevin Daley on December 9, 2018

New evidence suggesting that President Donald Trump directed his onetime fixer Michael Cohen to break campaign finance laws could constitute an impeachable offense, Democratic Rep. Jerry Nadler of New York told CNN’s Jack Tapper Sunday.

Nadler is the incoming chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, which drafts articles of impeachment.


“They would be impeachable offenses,” Nadler said. “Whether they are important enough to justify an impeachment is a different question. But, certainly, they would be impeachable offenses, because, even though they were committed before the president became president, they were committed in the service of fraudulently obtaining the office.”

Nadler went on to say that the outgoing Republican majority in Congress effectively shielded the president from legal exposure, but that the new Democratic majority would not do so. From his new perch as Judiciary chair, Nadler is expected to investigate the administration on a range of topics.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller released a charging memo recommending a “substantial” prison sentence for Cohen on Friday. The document alleges that Cohen executed a $130,000 hush payment to Stephanie Clifford, who appears in adult films under the name “Stormy Daniels,” at Trump’s direction.


Prosecutors and election law experts have suggested the payment amounts to an “in kind” campaign contribution which should have been reported to federal officials.

Clifford has since sued Cohen to invalidate the non-disclosure agreement she signed in exchange for the settlement. As Tapper noted in Sunday’s segment, prosecutors have not yet publicly established that Cohen was working at Trump’s behest.

The White House maintained the president’s innocence in a pair of statements late Friday, while Trump himself tweeted that Friday’s filing “totally clears the president.”


Elsewhere in the interview, Nadler said he does not agree with Department of Justice guidelines, which provide that a sitting president cannot be indicted. Those guidelines govern the special counsel’s investigation, though federal courts have never explored the issue in earnest.



Nancy Pelosi Announces Democrat Plan to Go After Trump’s Tax Returns
The Supreme Court could ultimately decide that question and related issues that the Mueller inquiry has raised, like whether Trump must comply with a subpoena.


























“He directed me to make the payments”: Cohen says Trump instructed illegal hush money payments
Michael Cohen sat down for an interview on ABC after being sentenced to three years in prison.
By Emily Stewart on December 14, 2018 9:10 am


Michael Cohen exits a federal court after a sentencing hearing in December 2018. Drew Angerer/Getty Images
Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s former lawyer and fixer who once said he would take a bullet for the president, would like you to know he’s sorry now that he’s been sentenced to three years in prison after pleading guilty to multiple crimes.


Cohen spoke with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos for an interview aired on Good Morning America on Friday. He said he followed a “bad path” out of loyalty to Trump and that he would “not be the villain” of Trump’s story.

Cohen on Wednesday pleaded guilty to tax and bank fraud charges related to his taxi medallion business, lying to Congress about discussions about building a Trump Tower in Moscow, and campaign finance violations by way of hush money payments to two women who alleged they had affairs with Trump. He has cooperated with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation and has engaged in what prosecutors in the Southern District of New York described as “selective cooperation” in an effort to reduce his sentence.

Cohen has been on an ongoing apology tour of sorts since coming under legal scrutiny after the FBI raided his home, office, and hotel room in April, and Friday’s interview was a continuation of that. He denied Trump’s claims that Cohen has set out to embarrass the president of the United States.


“It is absolutely not true,” Cohen said.

He emphasized that much of what he did was at the direction of the president, saying that “nothing at the Trump Organization was ever done unless it was run through Mr. Trump.”

Cohen arranged a $130,000 payment to porn actress Stormy Daniels to keep her from speaking out about her alleged affair with Trump prior to the election, and helped arrange a settlement with National Enquirer publisher American Media Inc. in August 2016 to keep Playboy model Karen McDougal from speaking out about her alleged affair with the president.

“He directed me to make the payments. He directed me to become involved in these matters,” Cohen said.


Of Trump’s denials, he said, “I don’t think there’s anybody who believes that.” He also said that Trump “of course” knew the payments were wrong and that he was “very concerned” about how news of the affairs would affect the 2016 election.

“He knows the truth. I know the truth. Others know the truth,” Cohen told Stephanopoulos. “And here is the truth: People of the United States of America, people of the world, don’t believe what he is saying. The man doesn’t tell the truth. And it is sad that I should take responsibility for his dirty deeds.”

He lamented giving “loyalty to someone who truthfully does not deserve loyalty.”

Don’t feel too sorry for Michael Cohen
Cohen was for years a fierce attack dog for Trump. He once said he would “take a bullet” for the president and was one of his most loyal defenders.

He’s since changed his tune, dropping the loyalty act and instead casting himself as a tragic figure who is deeply sorry for his misdeeds.


Instead of talking about his fealty to Trump, he now talks about his family and the country. He launched a GoFundMe crowdfunding page to help pay his legal bills. Prior to the midterm elections, Cohen, the former Republican National Committee deputy finance chair, encouraged people to go out and vote (against Trump).

While it appears as though Cohen has given helpful evidence to prosecutors in the Mueller investigation and at the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (SDNY), it’s not as though he’s doing so just out of the goodness of his heart. He got caught for multiple crimes, and if he hadn’t, who knows what would have happened.

Cohen on GMA said he’s “done with lying” and “being loyal to President Trump,” saying that his loyalty instead “belongs to my wife, my daughter, my son, and this country.”

Stephanopoulos asked why anyone should believe him — which, given Cohen’s track record, seems fair.

“Because the special counsel stated emphatically that the information that I gave to them is credible and helpful,” Cohen replied. “There’s a substantial amount of information that they possessed that corroborates the fact that I am telling the truth.”





© 2018 Vox Media, Inc. All Rights Reserved



XFrequent Trump critic George Conway ripped the president's lawyer Rudy Giuliani on Friday for saying alleged violations of campaign finance law were not a "big crime" because nobody was killed or robbed.

Conway, whose critiques of Trump have made him a social media star given his marriage to White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, altered the presidential oath to include Giuliani's claim in his tweet.

"'I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, except where nobody gets killed or robbed,'" Conway tweeted.



Manafort plea agreement brought this out:


Exclusive: Paul Manafort advised White House on how to attack and discredit investigation of President Trump
We now have details as to how the indicted former campaign manager worked with the president to undermine federal law enforcement.
By Murray Waas on December 14, 2018 11:15 am


Paul Manafort, former campaign manager for Donald Trump, exits the E. Barrett Prettyman Federal Courthouse, Feb. 28, 2018 in Washington, DC. Drew Angerer/Getty Images
Part of
The Vox guide to Robert Mueller’s Trump-Russia investigation
Paul Manafort, who served as the manager for Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, provided advice to the president and senior White House officials on the FBI’s Russia investigation during the earliest days of the Trump administration. He gave guidance on how to undermine and discredit the FBI’s inquiry into whether the president, his campaign aides, and family members conspired with the Russian Federation and its intelligence services to covertly defeat Hillary Clinton during the 2016 campaign, according to government records and interviews with individuals familiar with the matter. Manafort himself was under criminal investigation by the FBI during this same time, a fact then known to the White House.


Last Friday, special counsel Robert Mueller alleged in court filings that Manafort told “multiple discernible lies” to FBI agents and prosecutors, in violation of the cooperation agreement between Manafort and the special counsel’s office. Among those, Mueller charged, were lies by Manafort to investigators that he had not been in contact with anyone in the White House.

“After signing the plea agreement, Manafort stated he had no direct or indirect communications with anyone in the administration while they were in the administration,” the special counsel said in a court pleading, “and that he never asked anyone to try and communicate a message to anyone in the administration on any subject.” Citing text messages, Manafort’s electronic records, and witness interviews, the special counsel wrote: “The evidence demonstrates that Manafort lied about his contacts.”

Those contacts continued after Trump and his associates knew that Manafort was under investigation by the FBI; after he was indicted by two federal grand juries on more than two dozen felony counts of money laundering, bank fraud, tax evasion, and obstruction of justice; and after having been convicted by a federal jury of 10 of those felonies while awaiting trial on other charges. And now we have learned, thanks to reports from the New York Times and filings in federal court by the special counsel, that those contacts continued even after Manafort became a cooperating witness against the president. The court filings, however, did not disclose any information regarding the subjects of the contacts between Manafort and the White House.


Manafort advised administration officials in the spring and summer of 2017 on how to politically undermine the FBI and Mueller investigation in three ways, according to government records and interviews with three people with knowledge of the contacts. He also gave them advice on how some of the witnesses against both him and the president might be discredited. In short, Manafort and Trump were working together to discredit the investigators as well as potential witnesses.

Manafort urged the president to attack the FBI
First, Manafort advised the president and his political surrogates to more aggressively and directly attack the FBI and other elements of the federal law enforcement apparatus investigating his administration. The goal of Manafort’s advice was to “delegitimize” the investigation itself, one person familiar with the advice explained to me. Manafort wanted nothing less than to “declare a public relations war on the FBI,” this same person said. Another goal was to discredit then-FBI Director James Comey and other senior FBI officials — as it had become increasingly likely they would be witnesses against the president.

Trump later did just that, but it’s unclear what role, if any, Manafort’s advice played in the president deciding to go on the attack. Other, more influential advisers made similar recommendations to Trump. And Trump likely did not need to hear that advice from Manafort or anyone else. As first lady Melania Trump once said of her husband: “As you may know by now, when you attack him he will punch back 10 times harder.”


Manafort also advised a senior administration official, through an intermediary, to attack the Justice Department, the FBI, and Obama administration officials for seeking court-authorized warrants under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) to eavesdrop on Manafort and a second campaign aide to Trump, Carter Page, as part of counterintelligence and criminal investigations into whether Manafort, Page, and others had conspired with Russia to help Trump win the 2016 presidential election.

FISA warrants are granted only when the court is presented with sufficient evidence that the person who would be the target of surveillance may be acting on behalf of a foreign power, and the legal threshold to obtain such a warrant is high. The Foreign Intelligence Service Court allowed for the electronic surveillance of Manafort prior to, and subsequent to, his role in the Trump campaign.

Trump alleged that then-President Barack Obama authorized the wiretapping of him and his campaign aides as part of an “illegal” scheme to engage in political espionage. Such allegations have since become central to the president’s attacks on the Justice Department, the FBI, and the Mueller investigation — even though Trump and his allies have yet to produce any evidence to show that any of this is true.


As part of these efforts, Trump and his allies on Capitol Hill — most notably, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), the outgoing chair of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence — made public sensitive classified information that endangered the lives of intelligence sources and interfered with ongoing criminal investigations. In May 2018, the Justice Department wrote to Nunes warning that information he was about to make public would “risk severe consequences, including potential loss of human lives, damage to relationships with valued international partners, compromise of ongoing criminal investigations and interference with intelligence activities.” Nunes released much of the information anyway. Trump himself ordered the declassification of other intelligence information that law enforcement and intelligence officials warned would do similar damage.

Attacking the use of FISA warrants had no effect on the outcome of Manafort’s criminal case. But a person with firsthand knowledge of Manafort’s thinking — and that of Manafort’s defense team — told me they believed discrediting the FISA process and, more broadly, the federal criminal investigation of him and other Trump campaign aides would make it more politically feasible for Trump to pardon Manafort.

Manafort urged the president to attack the DNC
Second, Manafort counseled the White House to allege — albeit with no evidence to back up said charges — that the pro-Western Ukrainian government had colluded with the Democratic National Committee to try to help Hillary Clinton win the 2016 presidential election. A source with direct knowledge of the matter told me that the White House adopted Manafort’s recommendation in the summer of 2017 to specifically target Alexandra Chalupa, a political strategist and consultant for the DNC, for allegedly working with Ukrainian officials to hurt Trump’s candidacy. Despite a torrent of allegations, no evidence has surfaced that Chalupa or the DNC did anything wrong.


Acting on Manafort’s advice, on July 10, 2017, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders encouraged reporters to investigate how “the Democrat National Committee coordinated opposition research directly with the Ukrainian Embassy.” That same week, Fox News’s Sean Hannity amplified the allegations evening after evening on his show. Likewise, Republicans on Capitol Hill called for investigations of the “Ukrainian matter.” On July 25, 2017, Trump tweeted: “Ukrainian efforts to sabotage Trump campaign – ‘quietly working to boost Clinton.’ So where is the investigation A.G.”

On August 9, 2017, Matthew Whitaker (now the acting attorney general) and a conservative advocacy group he then headed, the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT), formally asked the Federal Election Commission to investigate the DNC’s dealings with Chalupa. The complaint was largely based on scant evidence and erroneous information; the FEC has given no indication since that it will investigate the matter further.

Even though the allegations had no factual basis to prove anything improper, they were effective propaganda. The White House made its claims shortly after the first public disclosures that Donald Trump Jr. had hosted a Trump Tower meeting between a self-described intermediary for the Russian Federation and himself, Jared Kushner, and Manafort, in which the Russians promised “dirt” on Clinton. The White House was attempting to draw a parallel between its meetings with foreigners and the DNC’s via Chalupa.


But the comparison has always been a facile one, and the White House and its surrogates have not been able to prove any wrongdoing by their counterparts. The Russian Federation — an adversary of the United States — engaged in a covert intelligence effort to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election. Trump Jr., Kushner, and Manafort agreed to a meeting with individuals they were told were associated with the Russian government to obtain “dirt” on Clinton. Don Jr. in particular was acting on behalf of his father and his presidential campaign. It is illegal for a political campaign to accept any help from a foreign individual, foreign entity, or former government, and illegal not to disclose it; that is, in part, one of the reasons the Trump Tower meeting has also been a focus of special counsel Mueller’s investigation.

Chalupa looked into Manafort’s role as an adviser to former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych — who wanted to cut ties with the European Union and become more closely aligned with Russia — and set out to sound the alarm. At one point, she even organized a protest in Manafort’s hometown of New Britain, Connecticut, in which protesters held up signs saying, “Putin, hands off the US election.” But those endeavors were unrelated to her work for the Democratic National Committee, where she had been the co-chair of the DNC’s affiliate the National Democratic Ethnic Coordinating Council during the 2016 presidential election.

When Chalupa brought up Manafort with anyone at the DNC, they were largely disinterested, and in July 2016, she left her part-time consulting role at the DNC to work full time on her human rights advocacy. The DNC and the Clinton campaign have said that they were uninvolved with her efforts, and no evidence has surfaced to contradict that claim.


Manafort urged the president to attack Clinton and the Steele dossier
Third, in early 2017, Manafort provided the White House specific information on how Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign had sponsored research into ties between the Trump campaign and Russia. More specifically, Manafort provided information to the White House as to how to discredit the so-called Steele dossier, a report written by Christopher Steele, a former head of the Russia desk for the British intelligence agency MI6, about alleged ties that Trump and his associates had to Russia. (Manafort provided background to the White House’s attorneys about specific allegations and information in the dossier that he said was suspect.)

Manafort also recommended that Trump play up the fact that the work had been commissioned by a private investigation firm hired by the Clinton campaign, according to a former administration official familiar with the effort.

Manafort’s contacts with the White House continued even after his cooperation with Mueller. Without telling prosecutors, Manafort’s defense attorneys were secretly providing details of their client’s cooperation with the special counsel to the president’s legal team, in an apparent effort by Manafort to undermine the investigation or perhaps win a pardon from Trump. In the process, Manafort may have thus helped Trump tailor his answers to questions recently provided to the special counsel’s office.


Harry Litman, a former US attorney and deputy assistant attorney general, has since commented: “The open pipeline between cooperator and suspect Trump may have been not on only extraordinary but also criminal. ... What purpose other than an attempt to ‘influence, obstruct, or impede’ the investigation of the president can be discerned from Manafort’s service as a double agent? And on the Trump side, the communications emit a strong scent of illegal witness tampering.”

In short, in trying to cover up and maneuver for a pardon, Manafort and others may have committed even more crimes. Each “discernible lie” Manafort told is a potential new felony charge of lying to federal investigators, perjury, obstruction of justice, or combination thereof. Of obvious interest to the special counsel is whether others, most notably White House officials, conspired with Manafort to lie, mislead investigators, and possibly obstruct justice, and what, specifically, the president of the United States knew about all of this.





© 2018 Vox Media, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Meno_
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Re: Trump enters the stage

Postby Meno_ » Sat Dec 15, 2018 3:55 pm

Fox News

OPINIONPublished December 14, 2018 Last Update 10 hrs ago
Gregg Jarrett: Michael Flynn is innocent, wrongly prosecuted by Mueller to hurt Trump
Gregg Jarrett By Gregg Jarrett | Fox News




If you want a textbook example of wrongful prosecution of a man who should never have been charged with a crime, just look at the case of retired Army Lt. Gen. and former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.

New documents released Friday by Special Counsel Robert Mueller make it clear that Flynn is a victim of an overzealous team of prosecutors absolutely desperate to show that President Trump and his campaign colluded with Russia to win the 2016 presidential election.

The new court filings provide yet more proof that Mueller will stop at almost nothing and run over anyone who gets in his way as he tries to build a case against the president after 19 months of his anti-Trump crusade.

Mueller doesn’t really care about Flynn. He wants to use Flynn to destroy Donald Trump.

Plain and simple, the information made public Friday shows that the FBI lied to Flynn to ensnare him in the crime of making a false statement, even though Flynn did not lie.

Continue Reading Below


The new documents show without a doubt that Flynn never should have been prosecuted. They show that even the FBI agents who interviewed Flynn about his contacts with Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak concluded Flynn was telling the truth. But Flynn’s statements about those contacts later became the basis of the charge against him of lying to the FBI.

Plain and simple, the information made public Friday shows that the FBI lied to Flynn to ensnare him in the crime of making a false statement, even though Flynn did not lie.

During the transition as President-elect Trump prepared to take office, Flynn was the designated national security adviser for the incoming president. As a legitimate part of his job, he had conversations with Ambassador Kislyak. These discussions were perfectly legal.

The Obama administration secretly recorded the phone calls, illegally unmasked Flynn’s name, and then illegally leaked the information to the media. This gave Director James Comey’s FBI a vacuous excuse to contact Flynn to set a trap.

Comey and his top deputy, Andrew McCabe, put the scheme in motion on January 24, 2017, just after Trump became president. Comey admitted in an interview this week that he violated FBI protocols by deliberately taking advantage of a presidential administration that was only four days old and not fully organized.

McCabe telephoned Flynn at the White House and lied to the Trump adviser, telling Flynn he wanted to talk about the “significant media coverage” of the leaked story.

McCabe pushed Flynn not to have a lawyer present and lulled Flynn into believing the meeting would be just an informal discussion of no legal consequence. McCabe and the agents agreed in advance not to tell Flynn the truth – that they had in their hands a transcript of the secretly recorded Kislyak conversation.

Flynn’s recollection of the conversation did not perfectly match the transcript. But that, by itself, is not enough under the law to charge someone with “knowingly and willfully” falsifying a material fact. Besides, the interviewing agents determined that Flynn was not being deceptive and did not lie. That should have been the end of it. But it wasn’t.

Although Acting Attorney General Sally Yates “was not happy” about Comey’s scheme, she didn’t stop it. Instead, she joined in and marched over to the White House and engineered the firing of Flynn as national security adviser.

The plain truth is that if Mueller had been forced to prove his case in court against Flynn on a charge of lying to FBI, Mueller would have lost.

The new court filings make clear that Mueller’s mission has gone from prosecution to persecution – and Flynn has become “collateral damage” in what amounts to an out-of-control effort to overturn the decision of the American people to elect Donald Trump as our president.

Why did Flynn plead guilty if he didn’t commit a crime?

As I wrote in my book, “The Russia Hoax: The Illicit Scheme to Clear Hillary Clinton and Frame Donald Trump,” Flynn pleaded guilty not because he lied, but because Mueller crushed him financially and threatened to take legal action against the retired Army general's son. Flynn had to spend so much on defense attorneys that he was forced to sell his home, and Mueller’s prosecution made it impossible for Flynn to find employment.

Flynn has devoted his adult life to serving the United States, spending 33 years in the Army before taking the position of national security adviser for President Trump. He played a key role in developing our nation’s counterterrorism strategy and dismantling terrorist networks in Iraq and Afghanistan and rose to become director of the Defense Intelligence Agency.

Flynn’s reward for his decades of dedicated service? Being caught in the equivalent of a perjury trap set by the FBI, pressured to plead guilty to a felony charge of making false statements to the FBI when he was actually an innocent man, and now facing sentencing Tuesday. This is an enormous miscarriage of justice.

Even Mueller recognizes that Flynn does not deserve a long prison term. A sentencing memo Mueller filed in U.S. District Court in Washington earlier this month for Flynn recommends little or no prison time for the retired general.

And as I wrote in a column for Fox News published Dec. 5, the sentencing memo “isn’t a ‘smoking gun’ showing President Trump colluded with Russians to win the 2016 presidential election or did anything else illegal. In fact, the memo isn’t even a squirt gun. In terms of President Trump’s conduct, it amounts to nothing of any significance.”

The documents released Friday – some heavily redacted – were made public because U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan ordered prosecutors to turn over the government's files dealing with the FBI’s questioning of Flynn that led to the charge against him of lying to the FBI.

The judge ordered the files to be submitted to his court after attorneys for Flynn said the FBI discouraged Flynn from bringing a lawyer to the interview and said the FBI failed to advise him that he could be charged with a crime for making false statements. Those claims by Flynn’s lawyers are true, the new documents show.

The new material included notes taken by then-FBI Deputy Director McCabe after talking with Flynn to arrange for Flynn to be interview by the FBI.

Now that he has the new information, will Judge Sullivan want to know why Mueller charged Flynn with lying if the only witnesses (the FBI agents) determined he was not?

The judge may also want to ask Flynn if he pleaded guilty to a crime he did not commit. Was he coerced? Did the feds threaten to prosecute his son? Were there financial reasons that caused him to plead?

In addition, Judge Sullivan could ask Mueller’s team if they gave Flynn’s lawyers what is known as “exculpatory” evidence showing that the FBI concluded Flynn was telling the truth. Under law, they are required to do so.

The bottom line is that the only wrongful or illegal conduct involving Michael Flynn was the conduct of the FBI and the anti-Trump zealots that make up Robert Mueller’s team of prosecutors.

An innocent man and a patriot who spent his life defending our country has seen his reputation ruined, has been destroyed financially, and now faces sentencing for a crime he didn’t commit.

This is the kind of thing that happens in corrupt Third World dictatorships. It is not what should happen in the United States of America. Michael Flynn is the victim of a grave injustice and Robert Mueller, James Comey and everyone else involved in framing Flynn should be ashamed of themselves for their actions against him.

Gregg Jarrett joined FOX News Channel (FNC) in 2002 and is based in New York.


Now this is equally believable, as far as it goes to put a counterweight reason to those who are politically inclined to want to believe in this explanation.Some would argue that this is nothing but politics as usual, however this is different in that key concepts are being undermined revolving around Constitutional foundations, as the very basis for the intended formation of the country are being challenged, on an open court, that is itself is under challenge.

Democratic institutions are beginning to besubmerged between their causa suit, their utility and and functional expediency, brought into being by the coming of the new programmed artificial intelligence.

Particularly, conservative values are at stake here, in defining the brave new world nationally and internationally, where there does not appear to be a difference in the intended outcome, but only the means and ways of getting there, because of what is becoming appearent by now: the significant modus operans .

The world as it should be, to preserve past ideals stretching backwards with
a reactionary force , which does offer preset designs, of accumulated political wisdom, even within the idea that the frailty and misguidance of the player(s) is diminished in importance by the magnitude of the accruing of emphasis of what basic values should consist of, as a counterbalance to the idea that the ages of historical necessity are over.

This could arguably lead to a phase, where reverse arguably, the necessity of what now, has famously coined as collusion could be described and destined.


On the flip side:





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His worst nightmare: Trump's life under a legal microscope
Analysis by Stephen Collinson, CNN
Updated 11:47 AM EST, Sat December 15, 2018


Washington (CNN) Weeks of devastating legal revelations have left Donald Trump's political career clouded by criminality and his life, presidency and business empire under assault by relentless prosecutors on multiple fronts.

Days of court filings, flipped witnesses, damaging disclosures and sentencing hearings over the last month have delivered blows that appear to expose Trump and key associates to deep legal and political jeopardy.

But the head-spinning volume of material being churned out by special counsel Robert Mueller and other jurisdictions often also blurs the bigger picture of a presidency beset by a span of scandal that is staggering in its breadth.


Simply put, Trump's campaign, transition, inaugural committee and presidency are now under active criminal investigation. His business -- the Trump Organization -- and his defunct charity -- The Trump Foundation are also under investigation (the charity investigation is a civil one). His college -- Trump University -- has already been deemed a fraud.

The President himself has been indirectly fingered by New York prosecutors overseen by his own Justice Department of directing criminal attempts to subvert campaign finance laws.

Then there is a civil lawsuit brought by Democratic-led states rooted in claims that Trump's refusal to fully disengage from his businesses means he is using his position to profit from deals in his hotel chain that contravene the Constitution.

The many layers of investigation are about to get even more comprehensive, with multiple committees in the new Democratic House launching oversight into Trump's personal finances, political operation and White House next year.

Many of those who chose to align themselves with Trump have meanwhile fallen foul of the law, sometimes for offenses unrelated to the President but which have offered prosecutors a window into his own conduct.

His former campaign chairman Paul Manafort is in jail. His former attorney and "fixer" Michael Cohen is headed behind bars next year. His deputy campaign chairman Rick Gates is now a confessed felon. George Papadopoulos, a former member of his foreign policy advisory board, just got out of jail after flipping. His former national security adviser Michael Flynn may only avoid prison after turning on his former boss.

Questions continue to swirl around Trump's longtime political adviser Roger Stone among other things about what he knew when about Wikileaks email dumps. And people even closer to Trump, such as his son Don Jr. and son-in-law Jared Kushner, cannot be sure they are in the clear although all, including the President, profess innocence and downplay Mueller's investigation.

Yet Mueller's success in securing plea deals from the likes of Flynn, Gates and Cohen is adding to the President's apparent legal peril.

In one of the more surreal twists of the Trump presidency, there is a conversation going in Washington about how Trump might have to win re-election to outrun a statute of limitations on campaign finance allegations.

This trail of dishonesty and deceit is evident even before Mueller has delivered what could ultimately be his most explosive findings -- whether he has found evidence that the President's campaign cooperated with Russia and whether he obstructed justice in the firing of former FBI chief James Comey and a bid to thwart Mueller.

A scandal-ridden presidency
Michael Cohen sentenced to three years in prison after admitting he covered up Trump's 'dirty deeds'
A full assessment of the depth of Trump's political and legal predicament may only become clear next year. But the President has already expressed concern, according to CNN reporting, that he could be impeached.

But even if all the investigations stopped now and he was cleared of all wrongdoing, Trump would still be remembered for presiding over one of the most scandal-ridden presidencies of modern history.

Trump and his supporters maintain that there is no smoking gun and that the President's problems all stem from rogue prosecutors from the "deep state" that has always hated Trump. The President's cheerleaders on conservative channels meanwhile take up his cry that the democratic will of voters is at risk of being besmirched by a "fake news" media that is hostile towards him.

"Nobody but for me would be looked at like this. Nobody," Trump said in a Fox News interview this week, referring to claims he told Cohen to pay off women who claimed affairs with him to avoid hurting his campaign.

Trump's counselor Kellyanne Conway insisted to CNN's Chris Cuomo on Thursday that Trump's presumed foes in the media were willfully ignoring his arguments that he did not break the law.

"It's important and credible to the rest of the country, except for the people so blinded by their hatred toward him or their wishful thinking that he won't be President if they just close their eyes and click their heels three times," she said. "Get over it."

Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani is offering the defense that Cohen should not be believed because he is a convicted liar.

Yet, the growing pile of evidence from Mueller and other prosecutors is rendering the denials of culpability from Trump and his supporters less credible.

As more damaging details emerge, Trump is indulging in his habitual practice of abandoning a position that has become untenable and constructing a new reality that better suits him.

Once for instance, Trump denied that he knew about hush payments worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. Now, he says he didn't tell Cohen to break the law.

"As a lawyer, Michael has great liability to me!" Trump tweeted on Thursday.

But the narrative that Cohen is a liar so Trump is in the clear ignores crucial details of Mueller's filings.

Corroboration
The special counsel has made clear in court documents that he has corroboration for claims by his cooperating witness Cohen. The President's fixer also said as much on Friday.

"There is a substantial amount of information that they possessed that corroborates the fact that I am telling the truth," Cohen said in an interview with ABC News.

Trump's repeated mantra of "no collusion" with the Russians is also looking increasingly threadbare. There were multiple contacts between Trump's associates and Russians during the campaign and transition -- at least 16 according to CNN's reporting.

And many of those associates have since lied about the interactions, giving the impression that they are trying to cover something up.

The President's claims that he had nothing to do with Russia have been undermined by revelations in the Cohen case that he was pursuing a potentially lucrative deal to build a luxury tower in Moscow until deep into a campaign that was simultaneously the target of a meddling effort by the Kremlin's spies.

And Mueller is clearly probing whether there is a nexus between Trump's business ventures and Russia's election interference.

In a sentencing memo earlier this month, he wrote that the Trump Tower project "occurred at a time of sustained efforts by the Russian government to interfere with the US presidential election."

It is, of course, possible that all of these Trump associates were operating outside the knowledge of the President. Statements in documents filed by Mueller and other jurisdictions are prosecutorial in nature and may not reveal mitigating circumstances that Trump could use in his defense

It is unclear at this point whether the US attorney's office in the Southern District of New York would be able to prove that Trump knowingly asked Cohen to break campaign finance laws.

But the idea that Trump knew nothing -- about Russia attempts to infiltrate his campaign, about hush payments or other key aspects of cases in which is involved -- appears unlikely, given his omnipotent role in his inner circle.

And he has already proven to have lied, if Mueller is to be believed, about key aspects of the Russia investigation and his interaction with Cohen.

Still, many legal experts believe that if wrongdoing is found, the President is immune from prosecution owing to his unique constitutional position.

If his only transgression does turn out to be on campaign finance, it seems unlikely that Democrats in the House will risk an impeachment process based on charges that may fall short of "high crimes and misdemeanors."

So far, Trump's firewall of Republican support in the Senate, where any subsequent impeachment trial would take place is standing firm.

Whether that would start crumbling should Mueller produce a damning report that causes a fracturing of Trump's political power base as an election approaches in 2020 remains untested.

While much has been learned about the President's legal exposure in recent days, the true extent of his liability remains to be seen.

For now, however, it's clear: the President's legal and political position is far more perilous than it was weeks ago and he has reason to be worried about a flurry of investigations that are digging deep into his private, personal, business and political life.

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So much:



The Trump Impeachment
Business ConflictsUncategorized
Jacking up rents illegally and pocketing the profits: yet another scam by a sleaze named Trump
By Dartagnan / Daily Kos (12/15/2018) - December 15, 2018279

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Donald Trump should never have been allowed to view the White House lawn from any vantage point except a television set hooked up for the inmates in the common room of a state penitentiary. According to the New York Times, before he engaged in defrauding investors through his Trump University scam, before his habitual, pre-Declaration of Bankruptcy stiffing of his employees and contractors , even before his off-camera antics harassing or sleeping with various women and paying them for their silence, the current Occupant of the Oval Office was engaged in ripping off the tenants of properties owned by his father, and pocketing the profits.

They were collateral damage as Donald J. Trump and his siblings dodged inheritance taxes and gained control of their father’s fortune: thousands of renters in an empire of unassuming red-brick buildings scattered across Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island.



The Times investigation of the latest in Trump’s seemingly bottomless history of perpetrating frauds and scams to bilk people out of their money details Trump’s jacking up the rents of thousands of middle-class residents who had the misfortune to live in one of the Trump-family owned apartment residences during the 1990s. Many of these properties had been financed by Fred Trump through low-cost government loans and were therefore subject to rent regulation.

But the residents of these thousands of apartments, many of whom were retirees living on a fixed income, suddenly began to see inexplicable rises in their regulated rents.

As it turned out, a hidden scam lurked behind the mysterious increases. In October, a New York Times investigation into the origins of Mr. Trump’s wealth revealed, among its findings, that the future president and his siblings set up a phony business to pad the cost of nearly everything their father, the legendary builder Fred C. Trump, purchased for his buildings. The Trump children split that extra money.

The “padded costs” translated into higher rents imposed on these tenants, as the younger Donald and his partners could point to the increased costs of maintaining them. Except the costs were phony—Trump and his family continued to negotiate for “everything from roofs to window cleaner,” according to the Times report. The costs were inflated through a sham organization ostensibly created (on paper alone) as a “purchasing agent” for Fred Trump’s properties, and it was owned by Donald Trump, his siblings, and a cousin. The “purchasing agent,” called “All County Building Supply and Maintenance,” (or “All County BS,” for short?), would issue checks to vendors servicing Trump’s buildings but would receive reimbursement from Fred Trump’s apartments with a 20-50% markup. The “markup,” which actually represented a tax-free “gift” to Trump and his cohorts, was then used to justify gouging apartment dwellers in Trump’s buildings with higher rents.


These fraudulently jacked up rents amounted to an increase of 30-60$ per month on a yearly basis, which many renters could doubtless afford. But as the Times points out, the “padded invoices still affect the rent, as the increase has compounded over the years:”

The padded invoices have been baked into the base rent used to calculate the annual percentage increase approved by the city. The sum total of the rent overcharges cannot be calculated from available records. As a way to appreciate the scope of the impact, a onetime $10 increase in 1995 on all the 8,000 apartments involved would put the total overpaid by tenants at more than $33 million to date, an analysis of approved rent increases shows.

All of these profits inured to Donald Trump and his family. The renters who were overcharged, like all victims of Trump’s schemes, were left holding the bag. Some are suing, but their rights are limited by both the statute of limitations and limitations on damages, as well as the fact that many of the properties have since been sold, with the Trump family moving on to bigger and better scams.

Michael Grinthal, supervising lawyer with the Community Development Project at the Urban Justice Center, a nonprofit legal services and advocacy group, said that the current owners would be held responsible for any damages, but that those owners could have a claim against the president and his siblings.

“If I was talking to those tenants right now, I’d say: ‘Do it. Go,’” Mr. Grinthal said. “This case should be fought.”

Meanwhile Donald Trump is heading out on his 16 day vacation to Mar-a-Lago, where he can spend some quiet time figuring out other ways to rip people off.
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