When former Special Counsel Robert Mueller delivered his final report for the Russia investigation, he declined to deliver a judgment on whether President Donald Trump should be prosecuted for obstructing justice. Attorney General Bill Barr decided to usurp this responsibility, declaring that the fa
Mr Trump attacked overnight the media, a federal investigator and former FBI official, all while claiming there “wasn’t any evidence” he committed a crime.
The 450-page document, released in redacted form on Thursday, in fact outlined numerous instances in which Mr Trump tried to obstruct the investigation; potential crimes Mr Mueller declined to reach conclusions on.
During an interview with David Frost in 1977, Richard Nixon explained what he believed a president was allowed to do in order to protect “national security,” saying that “when the president [breaks the law]…it is not illegal.”
This is not perhaps the ideal defense strategy for President Trump, nor his crew of loyalists on Capitol Hill — but it appears they’re trying it anyway.
The most recent court filings from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office and the Southern District of New York reveal Trump directed former lawyer Michael Cohen to make hush money payments to two women who claimed to have had affairs with the president, ahead of the 2016 election — allegations that might have prevented Trump from being elected president if they went public. Trump was also pursuing a business deal in Moscow shortly before clinching the GOP nomination, about which Cohen lied to Congress.
Directing one’s lawyer to commit multiple felonies to win an election is itself a felony. Trump and his allies, however, are now claiming that while Trump may have taken part in such acts, none of them should be considered crimes.
On Monday, the president tweeted that the two payments — one to adult film actress Stormy Daniels and a second unfulfilled payment arrangement to former Playboy model Karen McDougal — were instead “a simple private transaction,” not a campaign contribution. If the payments were indeed crimes, he wrote, they were Cohen’s fault.
Trump then pivoted to attacking his predecessor, President Barack Obama.
“‘…No Smocking [sic] Gun…No Collusion,’” he wrote, appearing to quote Fox News. “That’s because there was NO COLLUSION. So now the Dems go to a simple private transaction, wrongly call it a campaign contribution, which it was not (but even if it was it is only it is only a CIVIL CASE, like Obama’s – but it was done correctly by a lawyer and there would not even be a fine. Lawyer’s liability if he made a mistake, not me). Cohen just trying to get his sentence reduced. WITCH HUNT!”
….which it was not (but even if it was, it is only a CIVIL CASE, like Obama’s – but it was done correctly by a lawyer and there would not even be a fine. Lawyer’s liability if he made a mistake, not me). Cohen just trying to get his sentence reduced. WITCH HUNT!
Rather than countering Trump’s dismissive (and false) rhetoric, congressional Republicans who previously called for rigorous oversight have eagerly lined up to defend the president.
Incoming House Minority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) downplayed Trump’s involvement with the two payments and the Moscow deal during an interview Monday morning on Fox News.
“I think what it shows, if the president hires an attorney to solve a problem, he expects him to do it in a legal manner,” McCarthy said.
McCarthy then referred to comments from potential incoming chair of the House Intelligence Committee Adam Schiff (D-CA), who one day earlier had suggested Trump might “face the real prospect of jail time” as a result of Mueller’s investigation.
“If Schiff is taking this beyond to go forward and say there is an impeachable offense because of a campaign finance problem… there are a lot of members in Congress who would have to leave for that same [reason],” McCarthy said.
Comment from 61chrissterry : So should Trump.
President Trump on Monday said Michael Cohen does not deserve leniency for cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller, arguing that his former personal lawyer should serve a “full and complete” prison sentence.
“He makes up stories to get a GREAT & ALREADY reduced deal for himself, and get his wife and father-in-law (who has the money?) off Scott Free [sic],” Trump wrote on Twitter of Cohen. “He lied for this outcome and should, in my opinion, serve a full and complete sentence.”
“Michael Cohen asks judge for no Prison Time.” You mean he can do all of the TERRIBLE, unrelated to Trump, things having to do with fraud, big loans, Taxis, etc., and not serve a long prison term? He makes up stories to get a GREAT & ALREADY reduced deal for himself, and get…..
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 3, 2018
….his wife and father-in-law (who has the money?) off Scott Free. He lied for this outcome and should, in my opinion, serve a full and complete sentence.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 3, 2018
Cohen late last Friday asked a judge to spare him prison time over his guilty pleas for a variety of financial crimes as well as campaign violations and lying to Congress, the latter two of which implicated his former boss in potential illegal activity.
Donald Trump has been all in on the effort to force Department of Justice attorney Bruce Ohr out of the government, though the only thing Ohr appears to have “done wrong” is doing his job as an expert in Russia and Russian organized crime. As part of that job, Ohr met with former British intelligence officer and fellow Russia expert Christopher Steele. Earlier this week, Ohr was pulled in to testify in a closed session with House staffers to describe the first meeting he held with Steele concerning information related to Trump and Russia. As the Associated Press reports, what Ohr learned from Steele goes to the heart of … everything.
Among the things Ohr said he learned from Steele during the breakfast was that an unnamed former Russian intelligence official had said that Russian intelligence believed “they had Trump over a barrel,” according to people familiar with the meeting.
In his closed interview on Tuesday, Ohr detailed his what he learned in this initial breakfast meeting with Steele, including information he didn’t immediately pass along to the FBI because he considered it “raw source material.” The information from British researcher and former operative Steele has always included the idea that the Russian held “kompromat” on Donald Trump that could be used to blackmail him into taking action to support Russia. Trump has been dismissive of the idea, but the recent revelations about Michael Cohen and Trump’s actions regarding Stormy Daniels, Karen McDougal, and the National Enquirer demonstrate just how open to blackmail Trump really is. At the very least, Trump was willing to part with hundreds of thousands of dollars just to keep a pair of stories out of the news. And those were straightforward stories of affairs that Trump claims didn’t occur and for which neither of the women involved seemed to be offering evidence beyond their word.
If Trump was willing to make that kind of investment to hide generic moments of infidelity, what might he be willing to surrender over a story that tied him to much more … colorful behavior? Especially if that accusation of distasteful bedroom activity came complete with photographs or video?
Republicans in the House have been continually pushing the idea that the FBI relied too much on Steele’s memos in launching the Russia investigation. Trump put Ohr on the list of those targeted to lose their security clearance and has been pushing to have him kicked out of the DOJ. And there’s a good reason they’re afraid of them both.