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SMIRK: “Witch Hunt News!”


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Author Topic: SMIRK: “Witch Hunt News!”  (Read 52 times)
Kiwithrottlejockey
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« on: August 22, 2018, 12:46:48 pm »


from The New York Times…

EDITORIAL: All the President's Crooks

One of them, Mr. Trump's own lawyer, has now implicated him in a crime.

By THE EDITORIAL BOARD | Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Michael Cohen and Paul Manafort. — Photographs: Jeenah Moon/for The New York Times and Zach Gibson/Bloomberg/via Getty Images.
Michael Cohen and Paul Manafort. — Photographs: Jeenah Moon/for The New York Times and Zach Gibson/Bloomberg/via Getty Images.

FROM THE START OF the Russia investigation, President Trump has been working to discredit the work and the integrity of the special counsel, Robert Mueller; praising men who are blatant grifters, cons and crooks; insisting that he's personally done nothing wrong; and reminding us that he hires only the best people.

On Tuesday afternoon, the American public was treated to an astonishing split-screen moment involving two of those people, as Mr. Trump's former campaign chief was convicted by a federal jury in Virginia of multiple crimes carrying years in prison at the same time that his long-time personal lawyer pleaded guilty in federal court in New York to his own lengthy trail of criminality, and confessed that he had committed at least some of the crimes “at the direction of” Mr. Trump himself.

Let that sink in: Mr. Trump's own lawyer has now accused him, under oath, of committing a felony.

Only a complete fantasist — that is, only President Trump and his cult — could continue to claim that this investigation of foreign subversion of an American election, which has already yielded dozens of other indictments and several guilty pleas, is a “hoax” or “scam” or “rigged witch hunt”.

The conviction of Paul Manafort, who ran the Trump campaign for three months in 2016, was a win for prosecutors even though jurors were unable to reach a verdict on 10 of the 18 counts against him. On the other eight, which included bank fraud, tax fraud and a failure to report a foreign bank account, the jury agreed unanimously that Mr. Manafort was guilty. He is scheduled to go on trial in a separate case next month in Washington, D.C., on charges including money laundering, witness tampering, lying to authorities and failing to register as a foreign agent. Mr. Manafort faces many decades behind bars, although he will probably serve less than that under federal sentencing guidelines.

A few hundred miles to the north, in New York City, Michael I'm going to mess your life up Cohen stood before a federal judge and pleaded guilty to multiple counts of bank and tax fraud as well as federal campaign-finance violations involving hush-money payments he made to women who said they'd had sex with Mr. Trump. Mr. Cohen, who spent years as Mr. Trump's personal lawyer and “fix-it guy” (his own words) was under investigation by federal prosecutors in Manhattan, to whom Mr. Mueller referred his case. In April, F.B.I. agents raided Mr. Cohen's office, home and hotel room looking for evidence of criminality on a number of fronts. Apparently they found it.

Mr. Cohen didn't agree at Tuesday's hearing to cooperate with prosecutors, but if he eventually chooses to, that could spell even bigger trouble for Mr. Trump. Mr. Cohen has been involved in many of Mr. Trump's dealings with Russia, including his aborted effort to build a Trump Tower in Moscow, and could shed light on connections between the Trump presidential campaign and Russian officials involved in the 2016 election interference.

But back to Tuesday's news. Mr. Manafort was not an original target of the inquiry by Mr. Mueller, who was appointed in May of last year to look into possible ties between the Trump campaign and efforts by Russian government officials to interfere in the election. But Mr. Mueller's mandate authorized him to investigate any other crimes that arose in the course of his work. It didn't take long. As soon as he and his lawyers started sniffing around, the stench of Mr. Manafort's illegality was overpowering.

As a long-time lobbyist and political consultant who worked for multiple Republican candidates and presidents, Mr. Manafort had a habit of lying to banks to get multi-million-dollar loans and hiding his cash in offshore accounts when tax time rolled around. In at least one case, he falsely characterized $1.5 million as a loan to avoid paying taxes on it, then later told banks that the loan had been “forgiven” so he could get another loan.

He also enriched himself by working for some of the world's most notorious thugs and autocrats, including Ferdinand Marcos in the Philippines, Jonas Savimbi in Angola and Mobutu Sese Seko of the Democratic Republic of Congo. He helped elect the pro-Kremlin Viktor Yanukovych as president of Ukraine, a job that earned him millions until Mr. Yanukovych was ousted from power in 2014.

Despite this mercenary history — or perhaps, more disturbingly, because of it — Donald Trump, while running on promises to clean up Washington, hired Mr. Manafort to run his presidential campaign, a job he may well have kept but for news reports that he was receiving and hiding millions of dollars from his work on behalf of Mr. Yanukovych.

What does it tell you about Mr. Trump that he would choose to lead his campaign someone like Mr. Manafort, whom even on Tuesday he called a “good man”? It tells you that Mr. Trump is consistent, and consistently contemptuous of honesty and ethics, because he has surrounded himself with people of weak, if not criminal, character throughout his career.

While the president has so far dodged questions about whether he will pardon Mr. Manafort, he's already shown a willingness to make a mockery of the justice system with his pardons of unrepentant lawbreakers like Sheriff Joe Arpaio and Dinesh D'Souza. Last year, the president's lawyer dangled the prospect of a pardon to lawyers for Mr. Manafort and Michael Flynn, Mr. Trump's first national security adviser. If Mr. Trump were to follow through and grant clemency to Mr. Manafort, it would make his pardon of Mr. Arpaio look like the signing of the Civil Rights Act.

You're forgiven if you've lost track of all the criminality, either charged or admitted, that has burst forth from Mr. Trump's circles in the last couple years even as Mr. Trump has continued to claim that the investigation is a hoax, a pointless waste of taxpayer dollars. So here's a brief refresher:


  • In addition to the prosecution of Mr. Manafort, the special counsel's office has secured guilty pleas from multiple people, including Mr. Flynn and George Papadopoulos, a foreign policy adviser on the Trump campaign, both of whom lied to federal investigators about their communications with Russian officials.


  • Meanwhile, Mr. Mueller has charged more than a dozen Russian individuals and companies for their roles in a coordinated and deceptive social-media campaign aimed at hurting Hillary Clinton's candidacy and helping Mr. Trump's. Some Trump campaign officials were unwittingly in contact with some of these defendants.

  • Mr. Mueller has also charged a dozen Russian military officials with hacking and helping to release emails of the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee. The hackers first tried to break into Mrs. Clinton's personal servers on July 27, 2016 — the same day that Mr. Trump publicly called on Russians to do exactly that.

  • And he has charged Konstantin Kilimnik, a Russian associate of Mr. Manafort and a suspected spy, with obstructing justice.

As Mr. Trump rages on about the unfairness of the investigation, remember that Mr. Mueller has been on the job for just 15 months. For comparison, the Watergate investigation ran for more than two years before it brought down a president and sent dozens of people to prison. The Iran contra investigation dragged on for about seven years, as did the Whitewater investigation, which resulted in President Bill Clinton's impeachment.

Also remember we still don't know anything about the ultimate fate of several other Trump associates who have been under Mr. Mueller's microscope, including Roger Stone, Carter Page and Donald Trump Jr. (“If it's what you say I love it especially later in the summer”).

For a witch hunt, Mr. Mueller's investigation has already bagged a remarkable number of witches. Only the best witches, you might say.


__________________________________________________________________________

The editorial board represents the opinions of the board, its editor and the publisher. It is separate from the newsroom and the Op-Ed section.

__________________________________________________________________________

Related to this topic:

 • Paul Manafort, Former Trump Campaign Chairman, Guilty of 8 Charges in Fraud Trial

 • What the Manafort Verdict Means

 • Michael Cohen Says He Arranged Payments to Women at Trump's Direction

 • Read Mr. Cohen's Plea Deal

 • Here’s Everything Trump's Team Has Said About the Payment to Stormy Daniels

 • Melania Trump Could Be Our Greatest First Lady


https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/21/opinion/manafort-cohen-guilty.html
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« Reply #1 on: August 22, 2018, 01:16:27 pm »


from The Washington Post…

Michael Cohen: Trump's greatest fear comes true

Cohen's plea is disastrous for Trump.

By JENNIFER RUBIN | 5:07PM EDT — Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Trump's claim that the Mueller investigation is a “witch hunt” just got the wind knocked out of it.
Trump's claim that the Mueller investigation is a “witch hunt” just got the wind knocked out of it.

YOU CAN say this for President Trump: When the raids on his attorney Michael Cohen's house, hotel and office occurred, he knew it was trouble, as his slew of tweets at the time showed. About four months after Cohen saw FBI agents cart out boxes of documents, he surrendered to the FBI and entered a plea deal in federal court to a total of eight counts, five for tax evasion, one for a false statement to a bank and two related to campaign-finance charges. Most important, the plea states that Cohen, in committing the campaign-finance violations, acted at the behest of the “candidate”. There is only one candidate. The president of the United States has now been implicated in commission of federal crime(s) by his long-time lawyer. Take that in. The details of those crimes and Cohen's obligations, if any, to cooperate will unfold.

Trump was right to be panicked back in April, and since then we've all learned of more damaging facts that Cohen may substantiate. Cohen is at the intersection of at least three possibly disastrous legal stories.

First, Cohen was involved in the payment of hush money to silence multiple women with whom Trump allegedly had extra-marital affairs. The political fallout will depend on how many women and the circumstances of those payments. The criminal liability here concerns violation of campaign-finance rules as part of a deliberate attempt to conceal large amounts of money from voters. Blaming Cohen exclusively will be hard for Trump to pull off, given the tape we already have heard. If there is other evidence documenting Trump's involvement, his legal problem worsens.

Second, Cohen has been Trump's “fixer” and deal-maker for years. He was at the center of the failed Trump Tower project in Russia and likely would have been privy to other Russia-related transactions, if any, over years. Trump has insisted the special counsel not go into his personal finances. The chances that special counsel Robert S. Mueller III and his team are doing just that and will continue digging with Cohen as a guide has gone up dramatically.

Third, Cohen may have plenty of other information relating to Trump campaign contacts with Russia and to Trump's own efforts to conceal them and disable the investigation. Goodness knows what recordings, documents and first-hand recollections he may have. What, for example, does he know about the Trump Tower meeting in June 2016? What, if anything, does he know about contacts that members of the Trump team had with Russia during the campaign and/or the transition? Given that the White House counsel Donald McGahn, who is not Trump's personal lawyer, has spent 30 hours or more with the special counsel, it is not as if Cohen would be the only witness to possible impropriety. Cohen and McGahn may bolster one another's accounts.

Cohen matters because he may have critical information relating to all three of these evolving stories. Moreover, he cannot be written off as someone peripherally related to Trump. He cannot be written off as a coffee boy or as someone who went in and out of Trump's orbit in a matter of weeks. In short, Cohen's plea is a crushing blow because he is the first cooperating witness that could implicate Trump directly in all three matters — the women and campaign money, Trump's business dealings, and the Trump campaign's Russia connections.

Constitutional scholar Larry Tribe tells me, “Whether or not called an unindicted co-conspirator, that's what the sitting president IS as of close of business today, August 21, 2018, a day that will live in legal infamy.” He explains, “That's the import of two of Michael Cohen's guilty pleas on charges of making knowingly illegal campaign contributions at Trump's behest in the form of hush money to keep his sex scandals quiet as the election date approached.” He adds that with the conviction of Trump's campaign chair, Paul Manafort, on eight counts, “the only possible conclusion is that this criminal administration is coming unglued.”

Buckle up. Trump now goes from the frying pan into the fire.


__________________________________________________________________________

Jennifer Rubin writes reported opinion from a center-right perspective for The Washington Post.

__________________________________________________________________________

Related to this topic:

 • VIDEO: Opinion  | Is this the worst day of Trump's presidency?

 • Cohen pleads guilty, says he coordinated with Trump to pay off women and influence election

 • Cohen's plea agreement

 • The formal charges against Cohen

 • Manafort guilty on 8 counts; judge declares mistrial in 10 others

 • After two convictions, pressure mounts on Trump

 • Manafort's verdict, Cohen's plea give Trump worst day of the Russia investigation so far


https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/opinions/wp/2018/08/21/michael-cohen-trumps-greatest-fear-comes-true
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« Reply #2 on: August 22, 2018, 01:42:46 pm »


Meanwhile, in California…



from the Los Angeles Times…

San Diego County Representative Duncan Hunter and his wife
are indicted on campaign finance violations


By SARAH D. WIRE and CHRISTINE MAI-DUC | 5:55PM PDT — Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Representative Duncan Hunter (Republican-Alpine) and his wife used $250,000 in campaign funds for personal use and filed false campaign finance reports, according to a 48-page federal indictment. — Photograph: David Brooks/San Diego Union-Tribune.
Representative Duncan Hunter (Republican-Alpine) and his wife used $250,000 in campaign funds for personal use and filed false
campaign finance reports, according to a 48-page federal indictment. — Photograph: David Brooks/San Diego Union-Tribune.


REPRESENTATIVE Duncan Hunter (Republican-Alpine) and his wife, Margaret, were indicted by a federal grand jury on Tuesday on charges they used $250,000 in campaign funds for personal use and filed false campaign finance reports with the Federal Election Commission to mask their actions.

The 48-page indictment details lavish spending from 2009 to 2016, including family vacations to Italy and Hawaii, home utilities, school tuition for their children, video games and even dental work. The San Diego Union-Tribune first identified the improper spending, triggering a federal investigation by the Justice Department.

To conceal the personal expenditures, family dental bills were listed as a charitable contribution to “Smiles for Life,” the government alleges. Tickets for the family to see Riverdance at the San Diego Civic Theatre became “San Diego Civic Center for Republican Women Federated/Fundraising,” according to the indictment. Clothing purchases at a golf course were falsely reported as golf “balls for the wounded warriors.” SeaWorld tickets worth more $250 were called an “educational tour.”

“The indictment alleges that Congressman Hunter and his wife repeatedly dipped into campaign coffers as if they were personal bank accounts, and falsified FEC campaign finance reports to cover their tracks,” said U.S. Attorney Adam Braverman. “Elected representatives should jealously guard the public's trust, not abuse their positions for personal gain. Today's indictment is a reminder that no one is above the law.”

Hunter's campaign released a statement on Tuesday calling the indictment politically motivated and linked to his support for President Trump. It alleges that the federal attorneys involved in the indictment attended a “Hillary Clinton for President” fundraiser on August 27, 2015, and should have recused themselves.

“Congressman Hunter believes this action is purely politically motivated,” said Mike Harrison, Hunter's chief of staff. His campaign said Hunter has no plans to drop out of his reelection race.

But House Speaker Paul D. Ryan said on Tuesday, “Now that he has been indicted, Representative Hunter will be removed from his committee assignments, pending the resolution of this matter.” Hunter is chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee's Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee.

Hunter's attorney Gregory Vega said that an indictment only three months before the election and almost two years since the investigation began “reflects a loss of impartiality and appears to be an effort to derail Congressman Hunter's re-election in the November 6, 2018 election.”

Hunter has previously said he did not handle the campaign's credit card and did not do anything improper. He attributed any violations to honest mistakes, and repaid several thousands of dollars to his campaign before the FBI investigation began.

But the government alleges the Hunters often overdrew their bank accounts and charged up their credit cards to support a lifestyle they could not afford, and were repeatedly warned that using campaign funds for their personal spending was inappropriate.

The Hunters are scheduled to be arraigned at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday before U.S. Magistrate Judge William V. Gallo. The five charges are conspiracy to commit offenses against the United States, wire fraud, falsification of records, prohibited use of campaign contributions, and aiding and abetting.

The allegations mean Hunter's district, one of the most conservative in the state, could be more competitive than it has been in years, making Republicans' effort to retain a House majority in the midterm election even tougher.

While Hunter still stands a chance of winning — Trump won the district by 15 percentage points — the prospect of an indictment was the main reason Democrats kept this race on their target list.

His challenger, former Obama administration employee Ammar Campa-Najjar, has cast himself as a progressive Democrat who embraces single-payer healthcare and may be a poor fit for voters there.

Hunter's legal troubles could provide major ammunition to Campa-Najjar, who recently received an endorsement from former President Obama and hired veteran national strategist Joe Trippi. California election law does not provide a way for Republicans to replace Hunter with another GOP candidate and the only way to remove Hunter's name from the ballot is by court order.

“I was concerned all this time that Duncan Hunter was out for the special interests, but it turns out all along he cares only about his own self-interest, which is even worse,” said Campa-Najjar, who said the indictment “makes it an even more flippable seat.”

California Republican leaders urged voters to not rush to judgment.

“In our country, individuals are presumed innocent until a jury of their peers convicts them,” California Republican Party chair Jim Brulte said. “The congressman and his wife have a constitutional promise to their day in court and we will not prejudge the outcome.”

It was more than $1,300 in video game purchases made by Hunter's campaign that first drew the attention of federal election officials and the San Diego Union-Tribune.

At the time, Hunter blamed his son for the video game purchases, saying he had used the wrong credit card to sign up for a recurring purchase.

Further reporting found more unusual spending by Hunter's campaign, including a $250 airplane ride for the family rabbit and payments to nail salons, his children's private school and a Phoenix resort.

Hunter vowed to conduct an internal audit of campaign spending and reimbursed his campaign some $62,000 for spending on oral surgery, a family trip to Italy and Disneyland gift shop purchases.

His wife, Margaret, handled his FEC reports and was paid as his campaign manager, although Hunter has avoided blaming her directly.

“I was not involved in any criminal action,” Hunter told Politico in March. “Maybe I wasn't attentive enough to my campaign. That's not a crime.”

The House Ethics Committee issued a report in March that Hunter “may have converted tens of thousands of dollars of campaign funds from his congressional campaign committee to personal use to pay for family travel, flights, utilities, healthcare, school uniforms and tuition, jewelry, groceries and other goods, services, and expenses.” The congressional committee said it was not pursing its own investigation to avoid interfering with the Justice Department.

Defending himself against the nearly two-year investigation has largely drained Hunter's campaign war chest. He and his wife sold the family home and moved in with his parents.

The five-term congressman holds a seat his father, Representative Duncan Hunter Sr., once held.


__________________________________________________________________________

Sarah D. Wire came to the Los Angeles Times in 2015 to write about California's 55-member congressional delegation after covering politics in Washington D.C. for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. She has been a statehouse reporter for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and Associated Press bureaus in Idaho and Missouri. Wire, a Colorado native, is a graduate of the University of Missouri.

Christine Mai-Duc covers California politics and breaking news from Los Angeles. She has previously written for Capitol Weekly in Sacramento and the Los Angeles Times' bureaus in Washington, D.C., and Orange County. Christine grew up in Sacramento, graduated from UC Berkeley and left her heart in Oakland. She is coping well with healthy doses of breakfast burritos and baguettes from Figaro.

http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-pol-ca-duncan-hunter-indict-20180821-story.html
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« Reply #3 on: August 22, 2018, 07:46:03 pm »


from The Washington Post…

Nope, not a witch hunt

The jury's decision is a vindication for the special counsel's investigation.

By KAREN TUMULTY | 5:42PM EDT — Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort was convicted on eight counts of bank and tax fraud. The judge declared a mistrial on the remaining 10 charges.
Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort was convicted on eight counts of bank and tax fraud. The judge declared a mistrial on the remaining 10 charges.

TWO TRIALS have come to a conclusion in Alexandria.

One found former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort guilty of eight charges of tax and bank fraud, which could put him in prison for up to 80 years. The other was a verdict on the credibility and professionalism of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III.

Manafort lost; Mueller won. This was a victory Mueller needed, and one that likely will strengthen his hand going forward in his investigation of how Russia tried to influence this country's 2016 presidential election and whether President Trump's campaign colluded with a foreign adversary.

In the court of public opinion, Mueller's straight-arrow reputation has slipped over the past year, thanks largely to the beating it has gotten from Trump.

When a Quinnipiac University poll last week asked whether Mueller “is conducting a fair investigation,” barely half — 51 percent — of those who responded said yes. That marked a decline of nine percentage points since November.

The president is already spinning this verdict as meaningless, noting that the charges against Manafort had nothing to do with any work he did for Trump. U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III had cautioned both sides not to even mention the Russia probe during the trial. Nor was Mueller's victory a clean one: Ellis declared a mistrial on 10 additional charges over which the jury had deadlocked.

Yet the implications of the outcome were clear. Had Manafort been acquitted, it would have been a big boost to Trump's efforts to discredit Mueller's work and brought more calls by Republicans for the special counsel to wrap up the inquiry soon. It might even have created a pretext for the president to fire Mueller.

As the jury deliberated, Trump was showing signs of a full-on panic. On Monday, he shot off a new barrage of tweets attacking the special counsel and his team directly, calling them “Disgraced and discredited Bob Mueller and his whole group of Angry Democrat Thugs.”

That came the day after Trump tweeted: “Study the late Joseph McCarthy, because we are now in period with Mueller and his gang that make Joseph McCarthy look like a baby! Rigged Witch Hunt!”

Manafort's conviction shows that Mueller's probe is neither rigged nor a witch hunt.

But Trump is half-right. It is indeed worthwhile to study the infamous Wisconsin senator and his anti-communist crusade during the 1950s — because the enemies-within hysteria it fueled tells us a lot about the tactics of Trump himself.

McCarthy's chief aide in that shameful endeavor was attorney Roy Cohn, who would later become a mentor to Trump and who remains the president's ideal of what a lawyer should be. When Trump is exasperated at what he sees as insufficient ruthlessness on the part of his current lawyers, he has been known to demand: “Where's my Roy Cohn?”

Mueller's approach has been pretty much the opposite: methodical, focused, thorough and by the book. In Manafort's case, the weight of the evidence he put together was enough to overcome the evident hostility of Ellis, who repeatedly berated the prosecution from the bench.

This is the point at which the walls have begun closing in.

Trump's personal lawyers do not have a clear picture of what information White House counsel Donald McGahn has offered in 30 hours of interviews with Mueller's investigators. Michael Cohen, the former personal lawyer who once said he would “take a bullet” for Trump, has instead taken a plea deal with prosecutors investigating payments he made to women on his then-client’s behalf — hush money, Cohen acknowledged on Tuesday in court, that was paid “at the direction” of Trump himself.

And Mueller is not done with Manafort, who will face a second trial in September on charges of money laundering and failing to register as an agent for a foreign government.

Those charges may come closer to touching on his actions during the five months he was involved with Trump's presidential campaign. The prosecution has compiled more than twice as much evidence as it presented to the jury in his first trial.

Manafort's conviction will also increase the pressure on others in Trump's orbit to cooperate with Mueller. And it may encourage Mueller to move sooner rather than later to bring in the president himself to testify, possibly by issuing a subpoena.

Legal experts say the special counsel's chances of success in that are high, despite the vow of Rudolph W. Giuliani, Trump's lead lawyer, to fight a subpoena all the way to the Supreme Court.

“I am not going to be rushed into having him testify so that he gets trapped into perjury,” Giuliani said during Sunday on “Meet the Press”. But for all their foment, Trump's team knows they have no more than the illusion of control. With one big victory under his belt, the next move is Mueller's.


__________________________________________________________________________

Karen Tumulty is a columnist covering national politics for The Washington Post. She joined The Post in 2010 from TIME magazine and has also worked at the Los Angeles Times.

__________________________________________________________________________

Related to this topic:

 • VIDEO: Opinion | Manafort trial coverage is missing a key issue: Kleptocracy

 • ‘Doesn't involve me’: Trump tries to distance himself from Cohen, Manafort cases

 • Jennifer Rubin: It could be Trump's worst day, ever: Manafort guilty on eight counts

 • Paul Waldman: The Manafort trial has President Trump very worried

 • Ruth Marcus: Are there any limits to Paul Manafort's greed?

 • Nancy Gertner: The extraordinary bias of the judge in the Manafort trial


https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/manafort-lost-mueller-won/2018/08/21/fe5fe94c-a234-11e8-83d2-70203b8d7b44_story.html
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« Reply #4 on: August 22, 2018, 08:24:23 pm »


from The Washington Post…

EDITORIAL: An alleged co-conspirator in the White House

Will the man Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen worked for face any consequences?

By THE EDITORIAL BOARD | 8:00PM EDT — Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Michael Cohen, former personal lawyer to President Trump, leaves federal court on Tuesday in New York. — Photograph: Mary Altaffer/Associated Press.
Michael Cohen, former personal lawyer to President Trump, leaves federal court on Tuesday in New York. — Photograph: Mary Altaffer/Associated Press.

ON TUESDAY, the president of the United States was credibly accused in federal court of directing one of his subordinates to commit a federal crime. The effect of their alleged conspiracy against campaign finance laws was to defraud American voters, who were prevented from learning potentially relevant information ahead of Election Day 2016. This admission came from President Trump's long-time lawyer Michael Cohen as he pleaded guilty to eight felony counts. Mr. Trump cannot pretend these crimes did not occur or that they have nothing to do with him.

Neither can Congress.

In an extraordinary coincidence, Mr. Cohen's plea in New York City came within minutes of a jury in a federal courthouse in Alexandria announcing the conviction of Paul Manafort, Mr. Trump's former campaign chairman, also on eight felony counts. It made for a historic day, and not one Americans could take pride in.

For special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, whom Mr. Trump has been vilifying with increasing bile, it was another day of vindication. Mr. Mueller's office prosecuted Mr. Manafort and, having uncovered Mr. Cohen's misdeeds, had handed that matter to fellow prosecutors in New York. Mr. Mueller continues to demonstrate with quiet professionalism and steady results that his investigation is anything but the “witch hunt” of Mr. Trump's insult-mongering.

For a president who had promised to hire only the best, the twin results represented a stunning rebuke. Throughout these prosecutions, Mr. Trump vacillated between distancing himself from Mr. Manafort (he worked for the president for only “a very short period of time”) and embracing him (he is “a very good person”). Similarly, Mr. Trump flipped from fury that Mr. Cohen's offices were raided to claiming that he and Mr. Cohen were never all that close. This contradictory excuse-making should not distract from the fact that the president has staffed his campaign and administration with shady characters, fringe ideologues and other opportunistic hangers-on who would never have approached their high positions but for Mr. Trump's lack of judgment.

In Mr. Manafort, he hired a campaign chairman who made millions working for people interested in undermining democracy in the former Soviet Union, then used exotic methods to bring the money to the United States. As his scheme was unraveling, he was counting delegates for Mr. Trump's Republican National Convention balloting.

Mr. Cohen spent years in the Trump Organization apparently putting out fires Mr. Trump started. This practice resulted in an illegal 2016 campaign contribution consisting of a $130,000 payoff to Stormy Daniels, an adult-film star alleging an affair with Mr. Trump. Trump lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani said in May this was part of “a long-standing agreement that Michael Cohen takes care of situations like this, then gets paid for them sometimes.” In fact, Mr. Cohen said in court on Tuesday that he paid hush money to Ms. Daniels “at the direction of” Mr. Trump. Campaign finance experts say Mr. Trump may now be considered a co-conspirator in Mr. Cohen's crime. Meantime, Mr. Cohen also committed bank and tax fraud relating to his New York taxi and other businesses.

These revelations of guilt come on top of those of others who spent time in Mr. Trump's orbit, including former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who admitted in a December plea deal that he lied to the FBI about his contact with Russian officials.

Mr. Cohen and Mr. Manafort are heading to prison. Mr. Flynn has yet to be sentenced. But it is unclear whether the man they worked for, the president, will face any formal scrutiny or consequences. The Constitution largely assigns that job to Congress, and powerful Republican lawmakers have seemed more interested in covering for Mr. Trump than investigating him.

Tuesday's events must bring that partisan abdication of public duty to an end. Congress must open investigations into Mr. Trump's role in the crime Mr. Cohen has admitted to. It is far too soon to say where such inquiries would lead. But legislators cannot in good conscience ignore an alleged co-conspirator in the White House.


https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/an-alleged-co-conspirator-in-the-white-house/2018/08/21/a23e3558-a589-11e8-8fac-12e98c13528d_story.html
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« Reply #5 on: August 22, 2018, 09:12:52 pm »


I'm enjoying considerably more than a wee bit of schadenfreude today.

I'm really looking foward to Trump's eventual explosion of hatred & bile & bitterness on Twitter over today's events in Virginia and New York.

It should be BIGLY entertaining. YUGE!!
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« Reply #6 on: August 22, 2018, 09:13:56 pm »


from The Guardian…

When will it be Trump's turn to accept a plea bargain?

Of the two legal calamities befalling Trump, the fate of Michael Cohen is
even more disastrous than the guilty verdicts slapped on Paul Manafort.


By RICHARD WOLFFE | 3:37AM BST — Wednesday, 22 August 2018

“Donald Trump has lost so much in court, he must be tired of losing”. — Photograph: Leah Millis/Reuters.
“Donald Trump has lost so much in court, he must be tired of losing”. — Photograph: Leah Millis/Reuters.

TO LOSE one of your inner-circle to criminal charges may be regarded as a misfortune. To lose two on the same day looks like carelessness.

Donald Trump is nothing if not careless. His type inevitably gets like that as their escapades grow ever more preposterous. Sooner or later, their delusional sense of power and smarts ends in the kind of concrete solitude now being contemplated by Michael Cohen and Paul Manafort. The laws do not apply to them until, suddenly, they do.

Of the two legal calamities befalling Trump, the plea bargain of his personal fixer is even more disastrous than the guilty verdicts slapped down on his campaign chairman. Although let's be honest: the scale of both disasters makes it a close call.

Cohen pleaded guilty to violating campaign finance laws by paying hush money to two women who were allegedly the mistresses of one Donald Trump. All this in the middle of the 2016 election, “at the direction of the candidate,” as Cohen told the court.

Never mind the facepalming deceit and hypocrisy of the candidate who claimed he was running against Crooked Hillary.

For now we need to stay focused on the very real legal jeopardy facing Crooked Donald. Campaign finance crimes of this kind are not trivial matters: under federal guidelines updated at the end of last year by Trump's own justice department, a campaign finance crime committed knowingly and willfully amounting to more than $25,000 is what they call a five-year felony.

Just one of Cohen's payments, made at Trump’s direction, amounted to $130,000.

Of course any normal politician would have died of embarrassment at arranging secret payments to any porn star, never mind one called Stormy Daniels. Any normal politician would have found his career and reputation shredded to the point where he would be too ashamed to stay in public life or, for that matter, any public space.


A lone protester holds up a sign and American flag outside the courthouse in Alexandria, Virginia, after Paul Manafort was found guilty on eight counts of fraud. — Photograph: Win McNamee/Getty Images.
A lone protester holds up a sign and American flag outside the courthouse in Alexandria, Virginia, after Paul Manafort
was found guilty on eight counts of fraud. — Photograph: Win McNamee/Getty Images.


But as we all know by now, Crooked Donald is entirely abnormal, with no reputation to save, and no sense of shame.

Just seven years ago, a federal grand jury indicted former senator and presidential candidate John Edwards on six counts of breaking campaign finance laws for the exact same scenario as this sitting president: paying hush money to cover up an extramarital affair. Edwards escaped conviction after a jury was deadlocked on most of the charges, and the justice department did not seek a retrial. Edwards disappeared from public view, and his political career came to a definitive end.

It's hard to imagine Trump making the same choice. He can no more disappear from public view than you can forget your first projectile vomiting. John Edwards was vilified for betraying his inspirational, cancer-stricken wife. Yet even he had more decency and dignity than Donald Trump.

Until this point, most of the nation's nattering nabobs have conjured up scenarios about impeachment.

No doubt the pressure for impeachment will only build from here — even without a full-blown conspiracy with a hostile foreign nation to manipulate the election. The current campaign finance crimes on display are more than enough to meet the definition of high crimes and misdemeanors.

But impeachment in a Democratic-controlled House — if this year's elections proceed as forecast — will ultimately be followed by failure in a Senate trial, where Republicans would need to vote to kick Trump out of office. There is no plausible scenario where this Republican party would do so, even with White House tapes of Trump discussing a Russian conspiracy.

Cohen's plea bargain suggests we may have sought out the wrong historical figure in the Nixon White House. Nixon was forced to resign by his party and his sense of shame: two factors that are absent today.

Instead we should be looking at Nixon's first vice-president, Spiro Agnew, who was forced out of office by something much more familiar: criminal investigations into conspiracy, tax fraud and bribery, among other things. Agnew had been a corrupt public official since his days as Maryland governor, and the corruption continued into his vice-presidency. A year after his re-election, Agnew accepted a guilty plea bargain on tax evasion and resigned from office.

Until his resignation, Agnew claimed the US Attorney's investigations were all lies. His lawyers claimed that a sitting vice-president couldn't be indicted. Both of those arguments collapsed. As one of Agnew's lawyers recently wrote, there are no constitutional protections against indictment for either a president or a vice-president.


President Donald J. Trump speaks to the news media on the airport tarmac about the conviction of Paul Manafort. — Photograph: Leah Millis/Reuters.
President Donald J. Trump speaks to the news media on the airport tarmac about the conviction of Paul Manafort.
 — Photograph: Leah Millis/Reuters.


Would Trump resist a plea bargain more than anyone else in his inner-circle? Does he have the spinal fortitude to risk a five-year jail term and a good chunk of his personal fortune for the chance of saving his political career and the undying love of his political base?

He may decide that his base will always love him. He may decide that his freedom is as much about avoiding four more years in the White House as it is about avoiding five years in the Big House. If shame won't make him quit, perhaps a plea bargain will.

There was a time when we all covered political sex scandals because, as Matt Bai explained so well about Gary Hart, they told us something about character. Those were the old days. Now we know all about Donald Trump's character, but we still don't know all about the conspiracies to manipulate the 2016 election.

If only Trump had not run for president, his minions could have continued laundering Russian money, evading taxes, and paying hush money until he tweeted off this mortal coil.

Instead, he attracted the attention of every self-respecting law enforcement and intelligence officer in the nation's capital and beyond. The downfall of Pablo Escobar's drug cartel began when he ran for office in Columbia, and the same might just prove to be true about the far smaller Trump enterprise.

Donald Trump has lost so much in court, he must be tired of losing. As a candidate he suggested his supporters would suffer some kind of headache from all of his endless winning. He imagined them saying “Please don't win so much. This is getting terrible.” How right he was.


__________________________________________________________________________

• Richard Wolffe is a Guardian columnist based in the U.S.A.

Related to this topic:

 • Donald Trump: ‘worst hour’ for president as Manafort and Cohen guilty

 • Senior Republicans hesitate to criticise Trump after Manafort and Cohen verdicts

 • Manafort and Cohen convictions vindicate Mueller investigation


https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/aug/21/trump-manafort-cohen-plea-bargain
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« Reply #7 on: August 23, 2018, 01:55:50 pm »




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« Reply #8 on: August 25, 2018, 06:43:37 pm »













from the print edition of the Los Angeles Times…

Trump firm is losing veil of secrecy: Investigators look at Trump business

Former allies are helping prosecutors pull back the curtain on the president's business empire.

By CHRIS MEGERIAN and DAVID WILLMAN | Friday, August 24, 2018

Trump Tower in New York City is home to the Trump Organization, which has long operated free from the oversight of board members or shareholders. — Photograph: Craig Ruttle/Associated Press.
Trump Tower in New York City is home to the Trump Organization, which has long operated free from the oversight of board members or shareholders.
 — Photograph: Craig Ruttle/Associated Press.


WASHINGTON D.C. — Even as Donald Trump rose from New York real estate mogul to U.S. president, the innermost workings of his namesake real estate and branding company stayed shielded behind the black-tinted windows of his eponymous Fifth Avenue skyscraper.

Always run more like a family business than a blue-chip corporate empire, the private Trump Organization has operated free from the oversight of independent board members or pesky shareholders. But now that secrecy has cracked.

The plea agreement in federal court this week by Michael Cohen, who spent 10 years as executive vice president and special counsel at the Trump Organization and later served as Trump's personal attorney, showed that federal prosecutors had excavated invoices, receipts, tax records, emails and other internal documents from Trump's business.

Federal prosecutors also made clear their willingness to squeeze friends of the president. They reportedly got David Pecker, a long-time Trump ally who heads the company that publishes the National Enquirer tabloid, to provide evidence in the Cohen case in exchange for immunity from criminal charges.

Now the question is how much further they will dig into the murky business dealings and personal scandals at a carefully guarded company that remains key to Trump's narrative of personal success despite years of bankruptcies, lawsuits and other controversies.

“The more you peel back, the more you're likely to see irregularities that are worthy of investigation,” said Juan Zarate, a former Justice Department prosecutor who also helped pioneer tactics for tracking illicit cross-border financial transactions during the George W. Bush administration.

Two federal investigations pose the greatest threat so far. The U.S. attorney's office in Manhattan is prosecuting the case against Cohen. Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III is looking into whether anyone from Trump's campaign — which was based at Trump Tower — conspired with Russians to interfere in the 2016 election.

Trump suggested last year that he wouldn't tolerate Mueller poking around in his business.

“I think that's a violation,” Trump told The New York Times in an Oval Office interview. “My finances are extremely good, my company is an unbelievably successful company.”

Trump has repeatedly raised the idea of trying to shut down the Russia investigation by removing Mueller. Following through might be feasible if Trump were willing to pay the political cost. He would have less ability, however, to shut down the Cohen investigation since it would require moving against the large and well established U.S. attorney's office in Manhattan.

Alan Garten, the Trump Organization's top lawyer, said in a phone interview on Thursday that “the company has been fully cooperative in the investigations.”

Trump has refused to release his tax returns to the public, and the company doesn't disclose its annual revenue. But the perception of Trump as a titan of industry — forged in the popular imagination with the reality show “The Apprentice” — helped propel him to the White House, starting with his original announcement in the gilded lobby of Trump Tower.

“I'm really rich,” he said.

The Trump Organization has developed and run hotels, condominiums and golf courses around the country and overseas. Under lucrative licensing deals, Trump has also slapped his name — a name that's “as hot as a pistol,” he's said — on real estate developments, bottled water, steaks and vodka.

Some of those ventures failed or faded, and Trump endured a string of bankruptcies when he ran aground in the casino business in Atlantic City in the early 1990s.

His struggles to resuscitate his company after that could provide ample avenues for investigators if they choose to pursue them.

Trump found conventional sources of investment capital harder to tap, leading to suspicions — but no hard proof — that he turned to money laundering or other improper sources of funds. He and his company have never been charged with a financial crime.

Trump was also willing to cut deals and do business with shady characters. One example is Felix Sater, a convicted stock swindler who was a senior advisor to the future president. Sater maintained an office in Trump Tower, brought prospective deals to Trump's personal attention and accompanied two of Trump's adult children to Moscow in 2006 to look for business opportunities.

Prosecutors who want to unravel Trump's array of businesses may find a willing partner in Cohen. His lawyer, Lanny Davis, said Cohen would cooperate with ongoing investigations, including Mueller's.

“If they find evidence of criminality, based on Cohen's information, that predates Trump's presidency and has to do with his business and his business dealings, they're going to go where the evidence takes them,” said Bradley D. Simon, a former federal prosecutor in New York.

Cohen pleaded guilty to eight counts of tax evasion, bank fraud and campaign finance violations in federal court in Manhattan on Tuesday. He specifically implicated Trump in his campaign finance violations, saying he had acted at the candidate's direction in 2016 to pay a total of $280,000 to Karen McDougal, a former Playboy model, and Stormy Daniels, an adult film actress. Both said they had extramarital affairs with Trump.

Prosecutors said Cohen presented the Trump Organization accountant with a bank statement from Essential Consultants, a shell company incorporated in Delaware that he used to pay $130,000 to Daniels. He scrawled $50,000 for “tech services” at the top of the bank statement. Prosecutors said Cohen had solicited services “from a technology company during and in connection with the campaign.”

Company executives decided to pay Cohen double what he had asked to cover taxes, plus a $60,000 bonus, for a total of $420,000, according to the court filing. He arranged to get paid $35,000 a month for a year.

The arrangement created a sham paper trail in the Trump Organization. Cohen sent an invoice to an unnamed company executive in February 2017, seeking “payment for services rendered” for the first two months of 2017.

The executive forwarded it to a colleague for approval, and told someone else to list the payment to Cohen as his legal retainer. But the court filing noted Cohen had no retainer agreement, and the money was not for performing legal work.

During the court hearing on Tuesday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrea Griswold said more documents — text messages, phone records and emails — would prove the campaign violations were undertaken “in coordination with the campaign or candidate for purposes of influencing the election.”

McDougal was paid $150,000 by selling the rights to her story to American Media Incorporated, which publishes the National Enquirer. The tabloid, which strongly supported Trump's candidacy, never published the story, a practice known as “catch and kill.”

David Pecker, chairman of American Media, agreed to assist investigators in exchange for immunity from prosecution, The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday.


Media mogul David Pecker, who helped kill a harmful Trump story, is now aiding investigators. — Photograph: Marion Curtis.
Media mogul David Pecker, who helped kill a harmful Trump story, is now aiding investigators. — Photograph: Marion Curtis.

Other members of the Trump Organization have also been connected to the payments.

In a recording that Cohen surreptitiously made before the election, he and Trump discussed how to buy the rights for McDougal's story from Pecker to ensure the alleged sexual affair was not made public.

“I've spoken to Allen Weisselberg about how to set the whole thing up,” Cohen said, referring to the top bookkeeper at the Trump Organization. Trump interrupted: “So, what do we got to pay for this? One-fifty?”

Weisselberg was subpoenaed to testify before a grand jury in the Cohen investigation, The Wall Street Journal reported last month.

Using a corporate accountant to help pay hush money would raise eyebrows in most corporations. But at the Trump Organization, business and personal have been intertwined for years, raising the danger for the president now.

“At the end of the day, I work for the Trump family,” Garten, the company's lawyer, told a legal trade publication in 2016. “That's how I view my job. Whether it's protecting their business interests or protecting their personal interests. I am here to assist them and represent them in any way they need.”

Trump's children have held senior positions throughout the company, as his daughter Ivanka Trump and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, do at the White House.

During a 2011 deposition in a lawsuit involving a Florida project, Donald Trump Jr. said he wasn't sure whether there was an organization chart for the Trump Organization.

“Could I make one? Yes,” he said. “Is there one officially? Not that I am aware of. But there could be.”

He added: “We kind of run a little bit like a mom-and-pop in that sense.”


__________________________________________________________________________

• Chris Megerian is based in Washington, D.C., where he writes about the special counsel investigation for the Los Angeles Times. He previously covered the 2016 presidential campaign and the 2015 United Nations summit on global warming in Paris. As a reporter in Sacramento, he has also written about Governor Jerry Brown, climate change policies, California politics and state finances. Before joining the L.A. Times in January 2012, he spent three years covering politics and law enforcement at the Star-Ledger in New Jersey. He grew up in Massachusetts and graduated from Emory University in Atlanta.

• David Willman is a reporter for the Los Angeles Times. based in Washington, D.C. He won the Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting in 2001 for work that prompted the market withdrawal of Rezulin, a widely sold diabetes drug. His subsequent reports on pharmaceutical industry payments to federal researchers triggered a ban of such compensation at the National Institutes of Health. His other national honors include Sigma Delta Chi's top award in 2009 for Washington-based reporting.

http://enewspaper.latimes.com/infinity/article_share.aspx?guid=0f954a24-2f44-4c12-a902-4bd086ccad21
http://enewspaper.latimes.com/infinity/article_share.aspx?guid=37d9f973-fa3f-4928-a712-2243f4a21dd2
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« Reply #9 on: August 26, 2018, 06:04:14 pm »


from The Washington Post…

‘He can't get rid of any of this’: Trump's wall of secrecy
erodes amid growing legal challenges


The president has lashed out at disloyal former aides and “flippers”
as details about his business and personal life emerge in court.


By DAVID A. FAHRENTHOLD, JOSH DAWSEY and ROSALIND S. HELDERMAN | 6:59PM EDT — Saturday, August 25, 2018

Michael Cohen leaves federal court in New York on Tuesday, August 21. President Donald J. Trump's former personal attorney said he'd arranged hush money payments to two women at Trump's direction in a plea deal. — Photograph: Mary Altaffer/Associated Press.
Michael Cohen leaves federal court in New York on Tuesday, August 21. President Donald J. Trump's former personal attorney said he'd
arranged hush money payments to two women at Trump's direction in a plea deal. — Photograph: Mary Altaffer/Associated Press.


PRESIDENT TRUMP's wall of secrecy — the work of a lifetime — is starting to crack.

His long-time lawyer, Michael Cohen, pleaded guilty last week to breaking campaign-finance laws and said he had arranged hush-money payments to two women at Trump's direction. A tabloid executive — who had served Trump by snuffing out damaging tales before they went public — and Trump's chief financial officer gave testimony in the case.

All three had been part of the small circle of family, longtime aides and trusted associates who have long played crucial roles in Trump's strategy to shield the details of his personal life and business dealings from prying outsiders.

But, as their cooperation with prosecutors shows, a growing number of legal challenges — including the Russia investigation by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III and a raft of lawsuits and state-level probes in New York — is eroding that barrier.

The result has been a moment in which Trump seems politically wounded, as friends turn and embarrassing revelations about alleged affairs and his charity trickle out, uncontained. In coming months, certain cases could force Trump's company to open its books about foreign government customers or compel the president to testify about his relationships with women.

“The myth of Trump is now unraveling,” said Barbara Res, a Trump Organization executive from 1978 to 1996. “He's becoming more obvious, and people are starting to know what he's like and what he's doing.”

Whether the president faces legal peril is not clear, but his presidency is at a precarious point. Recent polls suggest his repeated attacks on Mueller for leading a “witch hunt” have lost their effectiveness. And if the Democrats win a majority in at least one house of Congress in the mid-term elections, now less than 10 weeks away, they would gain the power to investigate or even impeach.

“The whole reason he is freaking out is, he can't get rid of any of this,” said a long-time adviser to Trump, who, like others interviewed for this story, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal White House dynamics.

The president's sense of betrayal came through last week when he derided cooperating witnesses as “flippers”. “Everything's wonderful and then they get 10 years in jail and they — they flip on whoever the next highest one is, or as high as you can go,” he told Fox News. In contrast, he tweeted that his “brave” former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, who was convicted last week of bank fraud and tax fraud, had “refused to ‘break’.”

Trump has also focused his ire on Attorney General Jeff Sessions, whom he has repeatedly and publicly attacked for his decision to recuse himself from the Russia investigation. White House aides have explained to him that firing Sessions would not end the probe, but he remains livid, officials said, particularly after Sessions responded last week with a statement declaring that “the actions of the Department of Justice will not be improperly influenced by political considerations.”

The Trump Organization declined to comment for this story. The White House referred questions to Trump's outside lawyers, who also declined to comment for this story.

Before this year, any explanation of Trump's secrecy would have begun with Cohen, a lawyer who threatened reporters with lawsuits for writing about Trump.

Before last week, it would have begun with Allen Weisselberg, the Trump Organization's longtime chief financial officer.

If Cohen was the outside man, Weisselberg has been the insider: a functionary whom Trump trusted to handle his company's bills and his charity's donations. Weisselberg started out working for Trump's father, decades before.

“They are the same family,” Weisselberg and the Trumps, said one person close to the Trump Organization. “I think Allen has earned that. He's been around a long time, and he's part of the family.”

They helped build a world where Trump was the only reliable source of information about his finances. Although Trump bragged often about his wealth and business success, he avoided releasing hard evidence when he could.

In one case, he seemed to reject the idea of evidence itself. What was Trump's net worth? It was whatever he said it was.

“My net worth fluctuates, and it goes up and down with markets and with attitudes and with feelings, even my own feelings,” Trump said in a 2007 deposition, after he had sued reporter Tim O'Brien for publishing an independent estimate of Trump's value. The suit was dismissed.

When Trump entered politics, he encountered a new level of scrutiny.

While much attention focused on his refusal to release his tax returns, a break from modern-day presidential practice, last week's court proceedings revealed more details about other ways Trump the candidate sought to control his image.

Charging documents in the Cohen case said the Trump Organization had authorized payments to Cohen totaling $420,000 after Cohen paid for the silence of a woman who alleged an affair with Trump.

Weisselberg approved the payments as a fee for a “legal retainer,” according to one person familiar with his role. It was not clear, from court documents, whether he knew that explanation was a sham. A person familiar with the situation said Weisselberg did not know the nature of the settlement and approved the reimbursement because of Cohen's long-standing role as counsel to Trump.

In pleading guilty, Cohen said in court that he had made these decisions “in coordination with” Trump and at his direction. That included paying the woman, which was an illegal campaign contribution.


Michael Cohen, former personal lawyer to President Donald J. Trump, leaves federal court after reaching a plea agreement in New York on Tuesday, August 21, 2018. — Photograph: Craig Ruttle/Associated Press.
Michael Cohen, former personal lawyer to President Donald J. Trump, leaves federal court after reaching a plea agreement
in New York on Tuesday, August 21, 2018. — Photograph: Craig Ruttle/Associated Press.


Prosecutors also said in their court filings that Trump relied during his campaign on an ally: David Pecker, the chief executive of American Media Incorporated, which owns the National Enquirer.

Pecker turned his company from a spiller of secrets to a keeper of them, prosecutors said. In at least one case, the company paid a woman who alleged she had an extramarital relationship with Trump. Then it didn't publish a thing.

Weisselberg and Pecker, who in addition to Cohen had been bulwarks of Trump's secrecy, received immunity to testify about Cohen's actions. It is unclear whether that was the limit of their cooperation, to testify about Cohen, or whether prosectors have asked broader questions about Trump or his company.

An AMI lawyer did not respond to requests for comment from Pecker. Neither Weisselberg nor company representatives responded to requests for comment on his behalf.

For his years as a businessman and as a candidate, Trump's system was effective — though not perfect — at repelling inquiries from reporters. But once he became president, Trump began to face a new kind of inquiry, from people with lawsuits and subpoenas.

Now, there are at least seven of those inquiries, all asking for some kind of information about Trump or his company.

On the investigative front, Mueller has delved deeply into Trump's campaign and White House, asking whether the campaign coordinated with Russian efforts to influence the election and whether Trump obstructed justice to stop or slow the probe.

Already, four associates of Trump's 2016 campaign have pleaded guilty or been convicted as a result of Mueller's work, which is ongoing. Mueller has also probed some aspects of Trump's business specifically related to Russia, notably efforts undertaken by Cohen to launch a Trump Tower Moscow project during the campaign.

The Cohen case, meanwhile, led by federal prosecutors in Manhattan, has pointed to potential legal liability for Trump and his company, experts have said — though Trump and his lawyers have attacked Cohen in recent days as an unreliable witness.

If prosecutors conclude that Trump himself did something illegal, it's unclear what they would do.

The Justice Department has official guidance saying that a president cannot be indicted while in office because that would impermissibly interfere with the executive's ability to carry out duties under the Constitution. But a president might be named as an “unindicted co-conspirator” in a grand jury report, or investigators could compile evidence that Congress might use in an impeachment case.

In addition to those federal investigations, the New York attorney general has already filed suit against Trump, alleging “persistently illegal conduct” at his charity, the Donald J. Trump Foundation. That case relied on internal documents provided by Trump's company and testimony from Weisselberg, who handled the foundation's books.

Now, the state is investigating whether to file criminal charges in that case.

And beyond that, Trump is facing several lawsuits that could pry further into his business and his personal life.

The attorneys general of Maryland and the District of Columbia sued him, saying he violated the Constitution's “emoluments clauses,” which bar presidents from taking payments from foreign governments or U.S. states.

The plaintiffs say those clauses should prevent Trump's company — which he still owns — from doing business with foreign officials. They've already won some preliminary victories in court. And they want to soon begin searching Trump Organization records, including those of his luxury D.C. hotel that has become a popular destination for Trump allies and political groups.

In addition, a group of Democratic members of Congress has filed an emoluments lawsuit, while the New York attorney general is considering one of her own, focused on Trump's businesses there.

Meanwhile, Summer Zervos, a former contestant on “The Apprentice”, Trump's reality TV show, has sued him for defamation. Zervos alleges that Trump aggressively kissed her and groped her when she was seeking a job at his company and that he defamed her by later denying that account and calling her a liar.

More legal challenges could follow.

One candidate for New York attorney general, Zephyr Teachout (Democrat), is running this year on promises to investigate the Trump Organization aggressively if she's elected.

“The line between [the company and the Trump campaign], which should be absolute looks deeply blurred and raises all kinds of questions about civil and criminal violations,” Teachout said after Cohen's guilty plea.

At the Trump Organization, people close to the company said, the impact of these investigations has been to overburden the legal staff. Company attorneys are also dealing with more mundane challenges, such as a new lawsuit in Illinois alleging that Trump Tower in Chicago is violating environmental laws meant to protect the Chicago River.

Inside the White House, the impact of these inquiries and the intense media coverage has been to set Trump fuming about disloyalty.

The revelations about his aides' cooperation with prosecutors, after all, had emerged in the immediate aftermath of the publication of a tell-all book by one of his former White House aides. Omarosa Manigault Newman, a Trump ally from her days as a star on “The Apprentice”, had flipped in her own way — declaring Trump unfit for the presidency and using her frequent national television appearances to roll out her collection of secret recordings from inside the West Wing.

Trump has complained to advisers about Cohen, saying he could not trust anyone. He has been distracted in meetings, polling staff about developments in legal cases, several aides said.

He grew concerned that White House counsel Donald McGahn had turned on him, advisers said, after The New York Times reported he had sat for 30 hours of questions. He complained about Sessions, his attorney general, on Twitter and on television.

Trump has long seen any investigative interest in his business as a step too far, West Wing advisers say, and allies said he was frustrated by the intrusions into his life before the presidency.

“If they did it to anybody in business in our country, they'd find some jaywalking on technicalities,” said John Catsimatidis, a Trump friend and New York billionaire who is critical of the investigation.

In one possible sign of the strain this week placed on Trump, the president fired off an all-caps tweet that denounced the investigations against him. “NO COLLUSION - RIGGED WITCH HUNT!” Trump wrote, on the second day after Cohen's guilty plea.

The time of that tweet: 1:10 a.m.


__________________________________________________________________________

Carol D. Leonnig, Jonathan O'Connell, Devlin Barrett and Sarah Ellison contributed to this report.

David A. Fahrenthold is a reporter covering the Trump family and their business interests for The Washington Post. He has been at The Post since 2000, and previously covered Congress, the federal bureaucracy, the environment, and the D.C. police.

Josh Dawsey is a White House reporter for The Washington Post. He joined the newspaper in 2017. He previously covered the White House for Politico, and New York City Hall and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie for The Wall Street Journal.

Rosalind Helderman is a political enterprise and investigations reporter for The Washington Post. She joined the newspaper in 2001. In 2014 she was honored with the George Polk Award for political reporting and for investigation of relationships between the Virginia governor and wealthy supporters.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/he-cant-get-rid-of-any-of-this-trumps-wall-of-secrecy-is-eroding-amid-mounting-legal-challenges/2018/08/25/93d417dc-a7c6-11e8-8fac-12e98c13528d_story.html
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« Reply #10 on: August 27, 2018, 04:09:10 pm »

like anyone can trust this guy who's trying to save his own bacon and now he even has hillary clintons lawyer

i smell a lying rat turd Grin

« Last Edit: August 27, 2018, 04:20:33 pm by Im2Sexy4MyPants » Report Spam   Logged

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« Reply #11 on: August 27, 2018, 06:54:11 pm »


I reckon the next person to get arrested and put in the dock in front of a judge will be Donald Trump Jr.

The walls of justice are slowly but surely closing in on the bent, criminal, corrupt Trump family.
 
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« Reply #12 on: August 29, 2018, 02:58:59 pm »

the white mental ward walls are closing in on your pea brain Smiley

ok why has it been 2 years and no fucken charges ?Tongue

is it because he has done nothing wrong and broken no laws? = me thinks so Grin

so its a failed witchhunt by and from the stupid emotionally wounded pussys Wink

trump won the elections try and get over it you stupid moronic lefty low iq cocksuckers Roll Eyes

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