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As “metal bracelet day” for Donald Trump edges closer…

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Author Topic: As “metal bracelet day” for Donald Trump edges closer…  (Read 969 times)
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« Reply #125 on: March 28, 2018, 02:17:24 pm »

from The New York Times....

At a Crucial Juncture, Trump's Legal Defense
Is Largely a One-Man Operation

President Trump is struggling to find any top lawyers willing to represent him
as he faces a critical decision: whether to give the special counsel an interview.

By MICHAEL S. SCHMIDT and MAGGIE HABERMAN | 9:01PM EDT — Sunday, March 25, 2018

Jay Sekulow is the only personal lawyer for President Trump who is working full time on the special counsel's investigation as Mr. Trump faces a significant decision: whether to sit for an interview. — Photograph: Steve Helber/Associated Press.
Jay Sekulow is the only personal lawyer for President Trump who is working full time on the special counsel's investigation as Mr. Trump faces
a significant decision: whether to sit for an interview. — Photograph: Steve Helber/Associated Press.

AS President Trump heads into one of the most critical phases of the special counsel's investigation, his personal legal team has shrunk to essentially just one member, and he is struggling to find any top lawyers willing to represent him.

Working for a president is usually seen as a dream job. But leading white-collar lawyers in Washington and New York have repeatedly spurned overtures to take over the defense of Mr. Trump, a mercurial client who often ignores his advisers' guidance. In some cases, lawyers' firms have blocked any talks, fearing a backlash that would hurt business.

The president lost two lawyers in just the past four days, including one who had been on board for less than a week.

Joseph diGenova, a long-time Washington lawyer who has pushed theories on Fox News that the F.B.I. made up evidence against Mr. Trump, left the team on Sunday. He had been hired last Monday, three days before the head of the president's personal legal team, John Dowd, quit after determining that the president was not listening to his advice. Mr. Trump had also considered hiring Mr. diGenova's wife, Victoria Toensing, but she will also not join the team.

That leaves the president with just one personal lawyer who is working full time on the special counsel's investigation as Mr. Trump is facing one of the most significant decisions related to it: whether to sit for an interview.

That lawyer, Jay Sekulow, is a conservative commentator who made his name on religious freedom cases. Mr. Sekulow is in talks with other lawyers about joining the team, although it is not clear how far those discussions have progressed.

Hours before the announcement of Mr. diGenova's departure, which Mr. Sekulow said was related to a conflict of interest, the president took to Twitter to reject any suggestion that lawyers do not want to work for him.

“Many lawyers and top law firms want to represent me in the Russia case … don't believe the Fake News narrative that it is hard to find a lawyer who wants to take this on,” he wrote. “Fame & fortune will NEVER be turned down by a lawyer, though some are conflicted.”

Adding new lawyers, he said, would be costly because they would take months “to get up to speed (if for no other reason than they can bill more).”

“I am very happy with my existing team,” he added.

This month, the president met with the veteran lawyer Emmet Flood about the possibility of joining the legal team. But Mr. Trump was put off by the fact that Mr. Flood, a Republican, had represented Bill Clinton during his impeachment process, and Mr. Flood has made clear that he will not represent the president if Marc E. Kasowitz, his brash long-time personal lawyer, has any role in the effort.

Mr. Trump also tried to recruit Theodore B. Olson, a well-known Republican lawyer, but Mr. Olson has said he would not be representing the president.

The first phase of legal work for Mr. Trump in the inquiry by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, was led by a White House lawyer, Ty Cobb. That work, which in part involved the production of documents and the arrangement of interviews with White House officials, has been largely completed.

The second phase, which is now focused on the question of a presidential interview with Mr. Mueller, had been led by Mr. Dowd. One reason Mr. Dowd quit was that, against his advice, Mr. Trump was insistent that he wanted to answer questions under oath from Mr. Mueller, believing that it would help clear him.

Mr. Dowd had concluded that there was no upside and that the president, who often does not tell the truth, could increase his legal exposure if his answers were not accurate.

John Dowd quit as the head of the president's personal legal team last week after determining that Mr. Trump was not listening to his advice. — Photograph: Brendan Mcdermid/Reuters.
John Dowd quit as the head of the president's personal legal team last week after determining that Mr. Trump was not listening to his advice.
 — Photograph: Brendan Mcdermid/Reuters.

Roger Cossack, a seasoned legal analyst, said the key to successfully defending a high-profile client under immense scrutiny was to have a cohesive legal team with a consistent strategy.

“In these types of cases, you need highly competent lawyers and a client who will listen and follow their advice,” Mr. Cossack said. “If you don't have both, you have what we're seeing here: chaos and disaster.”

“You have a client who clearly thinks he has a better idea of how things should work than the lawyers who, from time to time, have told him things he doesn't want to hear,” he added. “He is looking for the guy who can say, ‘I know how to handle Mueller, I know you think he is bad, and we'll take care of it’. Problem is you can't find that lawyer because no one will be able to do that.”

People close to the president say the upheaval in the legal team was inevitable. When Mr. Kasowitz took the lead after Mr. Mueller was appointed in May, he wanted to follow a model used by Mr. Clinton, with a separate team of lawyers and communications professionals handling issues related to the inquiry, so that the White House staff could keep its distance.

But Mr. Trump, who trusts few people and considers himself his best lawyer, spokesman and strategist, never wanted that type of system. As a result, his legal and public relations strategies have been out of sync, with the president at times publicly contradicting his lawyers, and the White House often finding itself flat-footed in the face of new disclosures about the Russia investigation.

The president's decision has also exposed many of his aides, leaving them deeply enmeshed in an inquiry that is likely to cost them tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees.

But while Mr. Trump has struggled to find lawyers, his family and his close associates are being represented by some of the country's top legal talent.

His son-in-law, Jared Kushner, has hired Abbe Lowell, a long-time Washington lawyer who recently got the Justice Department to drop corruption charges against Senator Robert Menendez, Democrat of New Jersey, after a lengthy court fight.

Three prominent current and former White House officials — the former chief strategist, Stephen K. Bannon; the former chief of staff, Reince Priebus; and the White House counsel, Donald F. McGahn — are being represented by William A. Burck, who turned down the chance to represent the president. Mr. Burck, a former federal prosecutor, represented FIFA in its legal problems in the United States and has worked for high-profile witnesses in federal investigations, including Maureen McDonnell, the wife of a former Virginia governor.

The turmoil in Mr. Trump's legal team started within weeks of the appointment of Mr. Mueller. Mr. Kasowitz pushed for an adversarial approach to the special counsel, which the president was poised to follow. But Mr. Kasowitz clashed with Mr. Kushner, and he was soon pushed aside after a series of mis-steps and embarrassing incidents.

The president then hired Mr. Cobb, a veteran Washington lawyer, to lead efforts within the White House, as well as Mr. Dowd, who was put in charge of his personal legal team. They advocated a strategy of cooperation, telling the president that the sooner he gave Mr. Mueller's office what it wanted, the sooner his name would be cleared.

While Mr. Cobb had told the president that the investigation would be over by now, it seems to be accelerating. Mr. Mueller is still looking into a wide range of matters related to Mr. Trump's corporate activities, his 2016 campaign, his associates and his time in office.

Mr. Trump, hoping to bolster his team, met with Mr. diGenova and Ms. Toensing in recent days but, according to two people told of details about the meeting, did not believe he had personal chemistry with them.

There were also significant conflict-of-interest issues, but Mr. Trump could have waived them if he wanted. Ms. Toensing is representing Mark Corallo, who was the spokesman for Mr. Trump's legal team in 2017 before they parted ways. Mr. Corallo has told investigators that he was concerned that a close aide to Mr. Trump, Hope Hicks, may have been planning to obstruct justice during the drafting of a statement about a meeting between a Russian lawyer and Donald Trump Jr. during the campaign.

Ms. Hicks's lawyer has strongly denied that suggestion, and White House aides said Mr. Corallo's assertion had come up in discussions with the president as he weighed whether to go ahead with Mr. diGenova and Ms. Toensing.

Mr. diGenova had been expected to serve as an outspoken voice for the president as Mr. Trump has increased his attacks on Mr. Mueller. Mr. diGenova has endorsed the notion that a secretive group of F.B.I. agents concocted the Russia investigation as a way to keep Mr. Trump from becoming president, a theory with little supporting evidence.

“There was a brazen plot to illegally exonerate Hillary Clinton and, if she didn't win the election, to then frame Donald Trump with a falsely created crime,” he had told Fox News in January.


• Michael S. Schmidt is an American journalist and correspondent for The New York Times in Washington, D.C. and national security contributor for MSNBC and NBC News.

• Maggie Haberman is a White House correspondent. She joined The New York Times in February 2015 as a campaign correspondent. Previously, Ms. Haberman worked as a political reporter at Politico from 2010 to 2015 and at other publications including the New York Post and New York Daily News. She was a finalist for the Mirror Awards, with Glenn Thrush, for What is Hillary Clinton Afraid of? which was published in 2014. Her hobbies include singing, and she is married with three children.


Related to this topic:

 • Trump Won't Hire 2 Lawyers Whose Appointments Were Announced Days Ago

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« Reply #126 on: March 28, 2018, 02:18:15 pm »

from The Washington Post....

Raging, isolated Trump can't bluff his way out this time

Trump faces Stormy Daniels and other female accusers, just as his legal team
is collapsing in the face of the intensifying Mueller probe.

By GREG SARGENT | 10:08AM EDT — Monday, March 26, 2018

President Donald J. Trump, left, and Stormy Daniels. — Photographs: The Washington Post.
President Donald J. Trump, left, and Stormy Daniels. — Photographs: The Washington Post.

PRESIDENT TRUMP has boundless faith in his ability to survive any financial, political, legal or public relations mess, by resorting to what philosopher Harry Frankfurt famously described as bullshit. Time and again over the years, he has fallen back on his trademark tactics: bluffing with abandon; suing to overwhelm his antagonists with legal bills; fighting back as hard as possible, solely to dissuade future foes; flooding the media zone with confusion-sowing falsehoods; and, above all, never admitting to error, wrong-doing or deliberate lying.

But now, with Stormy Daniels speaking out about Trump — even as Trump's legal team is falling apart, just as the Mueller probe is set to hit its climax — it's hard to escape the sense that Trump's titanic talent for bullshitting may be faltering in the face of the crush of events he now faces.

On CBS last night, Daniels finally told her tale about the 2006 affair she claims she had with Trump. In so doing, she opened up new narrative lines that ensure this story will continue. She allowed that she had accepted $130,000 in hush money from Trump lawyer Michael Cohen before the election, and admitted she lied by saying the affair never happened once the news of that payment broke. But she claimed she did so because she was legally threatened, which CBS reports came from Cohen. Daniels also claimed that after trying to go public with her story about Trump in 2011, a man physically threatened her in front of her child.

Daniels's new comments mean the focus will continue on questions such as whether Trump knew about the payment his lawyer made and whether it constituted an unlawful campaign contribution, as former FEC chairman Trevor Potter claims it does.

Cohen's lawyer sent Daniels's lawyer a cease-and-desist letter accusing Daniels of false statements about him. This morning, Daniels's lawyer Michael Avenatti, fired back by claiming that he and Daniels are only “getting started”, adding that Cohen has “zero credibility” and that the full truth will all come out before long. In other words, the story will continue — with a focus both on Trump's treatment of women and his tendency to surround himself with thuggish characters.

CNN reports that Trump “has become irked by the wall-to-wall coverage of the alleged affair on news shows in recent days.” But Trump is largely constrained from hitting back, since tweeting angrily in response would only draw more attention to those elements of the story.

And there's more: In addition to being sued by Daniels, who wants to get her non-disclosure agreement with Trump invalidated, Trump faces two other new female accusers who have initiated legal actions of their own designed to free them up to talk. All this activity could result in discovery and even Trump depositions that keep these stories alive, too.

It is at precisely this moment that Trump's legal team is dwindling and in disarray in the face of another mounting threat, this one from special counsel Robert S. Mueller III's investigation. The Washington Post reports that Joseph diGenova will not represent Trump, leaving him temporarily “without a criminal defense attorney.” Trump furiously tweeted that lawyers are falling all over themselves to represent Trump, but everyone knows that's utter nonsense.

As it is, Trump had wanted diGenova because he was impressed by his appearances on Fox News. And in that context, this, from The Post's story, is a notable detail:

Trump had hoped diGenova could serve as a surrogate in television interviews and play the role of attack dog in criticizing the Mueller probe.

Trump continues to approach the Mueller probe as a P.R. problem — i.e., one that he and his allies can bluster their way out of in conventional Trumpian fashion — rather than as something potentially a lot worse. Remember, this comes just as Trump and what's left of his legal team are trying to decide whether Trump should sit for an interview with Mueller. Trump has repeatedly said he relishes facing Mueller, and the lawyer advising caution — John Dowd — is now gone.  Trump's instinct to bluff and bluster his way through the Mueller probe is more likely to go unchecked — even as he is less likely to fully prepare for the very real legal perils an interview will pose.

The imperative of fighting back has long been central to Trump's public philosophy. As he put it in his 2007 book: “If you're afraid to fight back people will think of you as a loser, a ‘schmuck’!”

But Trump is constrained from fighting back against his female accusers. And the more he succumbs to his instinct to “fight back” against Mueller, the worse off he will be.


• Greg Sargent writes The Plum Line blog for The Washington Post, a reported opinion blog with a liberal slant — what you might call “opinionated reporting” from the left. He joined The Post in early 2009, after stints at Talking Points Memo, New York Magazine and the New York Observer. He lives in Maryland with his wife, son and daughter.


Related to this topic:

 • VIDEO: Key moments from Stormy Daniels's ‘60 Minutes” interview

 • ‘Not in a punch-back mode’: Why Trump has been largely silent on Stormy Daniels

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« Reply #127 on: March 28, 2018, 02:18:35 pm »

from The Washington Post....

Somebody get this man a lawyer

President Trump keeps searching for the right legal representation.
He'll need it against Mueller.

By RICHARD COHEN | 7:21PM EDT — Monday, March 26, 2018

President Donald J. Trump at the White House. — Photograph: Manuel Balce Ceneta/Associated Press.
President Donald J. Trump at the White House. — Photograph: Manuel Balce Ceneta/Associated Press.

I HAVE TWO WORDS for President Trump: David Barrett. He was appointed an independent counsel to investigate payments made by Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Henry Cisneros to a former mistress. That was in 1995. Barrett finished up only 11 years later, by which time almost no one could remember what the investigation was about or, even, who Cisneros was. A special counsel, like the shark in “Jaws”, or the Pinkerton agents in “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid”, just keeps on coming.

The president does not seem to realize that. He is consistent in always loving the face in the mirror, but on other matters, he is mercurial and chaotic. Just last week his lead lawyer, John Dowd, resigned, purportedly because Trump will not take his advice. Trump wants to sit down with special counsel Robert S. Mueller III and work his charm on the man. Dowd, being an experienced criminal lawyer, looked upon such a meeting with appropriate apprehension — the president, after all, having possibly last told the truth when he stated his name at his inauguration. After that, the record is spotty.

Dowd was just the latest of several lawyers who have bailed on Trump. His long-time lawyer, Marc Kasowitz, was early on board and early to abandon ship — though he might yet come back. He, too, favored an aggressive strategy that, to Dowd and others, was sheer foolishness. At the moment, Trump's team is led by Jay Sekulow, who has argued many times before the Supreme Court but has never tried a criminal case in his life. As is typical for a Trump aide, he has often appeared on Fox News. This, though, is not the same as courtroom experience.

Last week, Trump came up with two new names. He announced that Joseph E. diGenova, another Fox fixture, would join his legal team. DiGenova practices with his wife, Victoria Toensing, in a boutique firm, but one of their clients gave them a conflict and they had to withdraw as Trump's counsel. T'was a pity. They would have been good fun. They are both enamored of conspiracy theories, some of them having to do with the consummate evil of Hillary Clinton and the murders of Americans that she supposedly arranged or permitted — or something! — at Benghazi in Libya.

More recently, diGenova discovered a government conspiracy to do in Trump. “There was a brazen plot to illegally exonerate Hillary Clinton and, if she didn't win the election, to then frame Donald Trump with a falsely created crime,” he said on Fox News. (Where else?) And who was doing all this? The FBI, of course.

The Trump brand of chaos is extreme, acute and should worry us all. It evinces a presidency that cannot function. Here, after all, is a president who could stand in considerable legal jeopardy. Yet Trump sort of wings it. He must feel he is up against some widow who won't make way for his Atlantic City casino, or some woman who mistakes a spot of sex with Trump for a pay-day. According to USA Today, Trump has been involved in 4,095 lawsuits. Most of the time, he goes on the offensive and counter-sues. He learned contempt for the law from a master, Roy Cohn, who was eventually disbarred.

This time, though, Trump has met his match. Mueller is seen always in the same film clip, leaving a government building. He shuns the spotlight. He never smiles. He is a central-casting evocation of the old WASP establishment figure — St. Paul's School, Princeton, University of Virginia Law School and combat in Vietnam as a Marine. He thought his country was owed his service. He was a citizen. He had certain obligations. In combat, he was brave, winning a Bronze Star. Trump, in contrast, ducked the draft five times, the last for a bone spur in one foot or the other. (He has said he can't remember.)

This is a fight between the old America, upright and conscientious, and the new America of easy lies, shirking of duty and alleged extra-marital cuddles with porn actresses. It's as if the America of Norman Rockwell's illustrations ripped itself off the cover of the old Saturday Evening Post and is coming right at Trump, pitchfork in hand. Trump, a brat in bespoke suits, is in more trouble than he imagines. Now both time and money will work against him: The special counsel never runs out of either. Ask Henry Cisneros.


• Richard Cohen writes a weekly political column for The Washington Post. He also contributes to the PostPartisan blog. Cohen joined The Post in 1968 as a reporter and covered night police, city hall, education, state government and national politics. As the paper's chief Maryland correspondent, he was one of two reporters who broke the story of the investigation of former Vice President Agnew. In 1976, he began writing a column that ran on the front of the Metro section. His columns have appeared on the op-ed page of The Post since 1984. He is the author, with Jules Witcover, of A Heartbeat Away: The Investigation and Resignation of Spiro T. Agnew (1974). He has received the Sigma Delta Chi and Washington-Baltimore Newspaper Guild Awards for his investigative reporting.


Related to this topic:

 • VIDEO: Trump attorney John Dowd resigns

 • Michael Gerson: The strange, unexpected public contribution of Stormy Daniels

 • Karen Tumulty: When Trump goes low, go low

 • Jennifer Rubin: Dowd is out, so what is next for Trump's legal team?

 • Paul Waldman: Trump's lawyer just quit. Here's what it means for the Mueller investigation.

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« Reply #128 on: March 28, 2018, 05:03:37 pm »

nothing burger reporter on a slow newsday more wishful thinking from the washing ton of shit post
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« Reply #129 on: April 06, 2018, 06:22:43 pm »

from the print edition of the Los Angeles Times....

Trump gets only a fragile glimmer of hope

The president isn't a ‘criminal target’ of the DOJ. How can that be?

By HARRY LITMAN | Thursday, April 05, 2018

PRESIDENT TRUMP, according to reporting in The Washington Post, is pleased to learn from special counsel Robert S. Mueller III that he is a subject, not a target of the Department of Justice's investigations. Should the White House be celebrating?

First we need to get the terminology straight, and in this case, straight from the United States Attorney's Manual, which is getting more readership from the general public these days than it normally gets from federal prosecutors.

The labels refer to three categories for those who are asked, or summoned, to testify before a federal grand jury.

A “witness” is someone who has useful information but no apparent involvement in a crime. A “subject” is a person whose conduct is within the scope of the grand jury's investigation — he is not uninvolved, but he is also not for certain involved in a crime. And a “target” is someone against whom there is substantial evidence, a person who “in the judgment of the prosecutor, is a putative defendant.” In other words, a target is likely to be charged.

Back to the president and the Mueller investigation.

For most observers, there is plenty of evidence that could make Trump not just the subject but a target of an obstruction of justice investigation. It includes the contemporaneous notes of former FBI Director James B. Comey and Deputy Director Andrew McCabe about Oval Office pressure to ease up on Russia-related investigations; Trump's apparent understanding that former national security advisor Michael Flynn had improper contacts with Russia; his shifting account of the reasons for his actions until he told NBC's Lester Holt he was responding to “this Russia thing”; his fury at Attorney General Jeff Sessions' recusal from the matter; his many tweets raging at the probe.

And that is just the publicly available evidence. Mueller may have much more from the testimony of Flynn and others, particularly from former White House chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon.

But The Washington Post report suggests that Mueller isn't persuaded: He apparently told the president he wasn't a criminal target. How can that be? Has the special counsel gathered exculpatory evidence that we don't know about? Is there some flaw in the above catalog?

One hypothesis making the rounds focuses on the unusual nature of the probe itself. Justice Department policy precludes the indictment of a sitting president. Instead, Mueller will probably eventually issue a report to the deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein, who will decide whether to make it public. That report could very well be the basis of an impeachment referral, but it wouldn't be an indictment per se. So Trump isn't a target because Mueller can't and won't charge him in criminal court.

This hypothesis, however, fails to take into account Mueller's deserved reputation for integrity. Telling the president he isn't a target, but meaning it only in the most technical of ways, is squirrelly, and it's inconsistent with the special counsel's straight-shooting character.

For anyone who knows Mueller, a better explanation is this: The special counsel is maintaining an open mind with respect to Trump's guilt, though to many on the outside of the investigation, the evidence against him is overwhelming.

To prove obstruction of justice, you have to know the mental state of the defendant. It's a charge based particularly on intent, not just actions. This distinction would apply with special force in the case of a sitting president, who has broad constitutional authority to shut down a criminal investigation such as the Russia probe for any number of legitimate purposes.

Mueller has yet to interview the president, he has yet to hear in detail what he and his lawyers have to say about the matter. If Trump or his lawyers can persuade Mueller (or, more precisely, create a reasonable doubt in his mind) that the president acted for any non-corrupt purpose — even a mistaken or puerile one — Mueller would have to stay his hand.

The news that Mueller does not consider Trump a criminal target probably best translates as follows: I have built a very strong case against you, including strong evidence that you acted corruptly, to safeguard your personal interests. But it's conceivable that something else was in play, and you should be given a full opportunity to spell this out for me. Until you do, or until you turn down that opportunity, I am keeping an open mind and you are not a target, merely a subject of the investigation.

Trump is quite likely just a hair's breadth from target status. Moreover, it's hard to imagine given the available evidence what cogent exculpatory account of his intent the president could actually provide. Mueller's guidance that Trump is not a criminal target adds up to a glimmer of hope, but little cause for crowing in the Trump camp.


Harry Litman teaches constitutional law at UC San Diego. He is a former U.S. attorney and deputy assistant attorney general.

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« Reply #130 on: April 13, 2018, 12:30:09 am »

from The New York Times....

EDITORIAL: The Law Is Coming, Mr. Trump

Donald Trump has spent his whole career in the company of grifters, cons and crooks.
Now that he's president, that strategy isn't working — for him or for the country.

By THE EDITORIAL BOARD | 11:59PM EDT — Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Illustration: Jon Han.
Illustration: Jon Han.

WHY DON'T WE take a step back and contemplate what Americans, and the world, are witnessing?

Early on Monday morning, F.B.I. agents raided the New York office, home and hotel room of the personal lawyer for the president of the United States. They seized evidence of possible federal crimes — including bank fraud, wire fraud and campaign finance violations related to payoffs made to women, including a porn actress, who say they had affairs with the president before he took office and were paid off and intimidated into silence.

That evening the president surrounded himself with the top American military officials and launched unbidden into a tirade against the top American law enforcement officials — officials of his own government — accusing them of “an attack on our country.”

Oh, also: The New York Times reported on Monday evening that investigators were examining a $150,000 donation to the president's personal foundation from a Ukrainian steel magnate, given during the American presidential campaign in exchange for a 20-minute video appearance.

Meanwhile, the president's former campaign chairman is under indictment, and his former national security adviser has pleaded guilty to lying to investigators. His son-in-law and other associates are also under investigation.

This is your president, ladies and gentlemen. This is how Donald Trump does business, and these are the kinds of people he surrounds himself with.

Mr. Trump has spent his career in the company of developers and celebrities, and also of grifters, cons, sharks, goons and crooks. He cuts corners, he lies, he cheats, he brags about it, and for the most part, he's gotten away with it, protected by threats of litigation, hush money and his own bravado. Those methods may be proving to have their limits when they are applied from the Oval Office. Though Republican leaders in Congress still keep a cowardly silence, Mr. Trump now has real reason to be afraid. A raid on a lawyer's office doesn't happen every day; it means that multiple government officials, and a federal judge, had reason to believe they'd find evidence of a crime there and that they didn't trust the lawyer not to destroy that evidence.

On Monday, when he appeared with his national security team, Mr. Trump, whose motto could be, “The buck stops anywhere but here,” angrily blamed everyone he could think of for the “unfairness” of an investigation that has already consumed the first year of his presidency, yet is only now starting to heat up. He said Attorney General Jeff Sessions made “a very terrible mistake” by recusing himself from overseeing the investigation — the implication being that a more loyal attorney general would have obstructed justice and blocked the investigation. He complained about the “horrible things” that Hillary Clinton did “and all of the crimes that were committed.” He called the A-team of investigators from the office of the special counsel, Robert Mueller, “the most biased group of people.” As for Mr. Mueller himself, “we'll see what happens,” Mr. Trump said. “Many people have said, ‘You should fire him’.”

In fact, the raids on the premises used by Mr. Trump's lawyer, Michael Cohen, were conducted by the public corruption unit of the federal attorney's office in Manhattan, and at the request not of the special counsel's team, but under a search warrant that investigators in New York obtained following a referral by Mr. Mueller, who first consulted with the deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein. To sum up, a Republican-appointed former F.B.I. director consulted with a Republican-appointed deputy attorney general, who then authorized a referral to an F.B.I. field office not known for its anti-Trump bias. Deep state, indeed.

Mr. Trump also railed against the authorities who, he said, “broke into” Mr. Cohen's office. “Attorney-client privilege is dead!” the president tweeted early on Tuesday morning, during what was presumably his executive time. He was wrong. The privilege is one of the most sacrosanct in the American legal system, but it does not protect communications in furtherance of a crime. Anyway, one might ask, if this is all a big witch hunt and Mr. Trump has nothing illegal or untoward to hide, why does he care about the privilege in the first place?

The answer, of course, is that he has a lot to hide.

This wasn't even the first early-morning raid of a close Trump associate. That distinction goes to Paul Manafort, Mr. Trump's former campaign chairman and Russian oligarch-whisperer, who now faces a slate of federal charges long enough to land him in prison for the rest of his life. And what of Mr. Cohen? He's already been cut loose by his law firm, and when the charges start rolling in, he'll likely get the same treatment from Mr. Trump.

Among the grotesqueries that faded into the background of Mr. Trump's carnival of misgovernment during the past 24 hours was that Monday's meeting was ostensibly called to discuss a matter of global significance: a reported chemical weapons attack on Syrian civilians. Mr. Trump instead made it about him, with his narcissistic and self-pitying claim that the investigation represented an attack on the country “in a true sense.”

No, Mr. Trump — a true attack on America is what happened on, say, September 11, 2001. Remember that one? Thousands of people lost their lives. Your response was to point out that the fall of the twin towers meant your building was now the tallest in downtown Manhattan. Of course, that also wasn't true.

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