Politics postsTuesday January 01, 2019
Something to Look Forward to in 2019
“One critical issue was the meeting at Trump Tower on June 9, 2016, when the senior leadership of the Trump campaign, including Kushner, Manafort, and Donald Trump, Jr., met with a lawyer whom they had been told was a representative of the Russian government who had ‘dirt’ on Hillary Clinton. According to telephone records available to the [intelligence] committee, three days before the meeting Trump, Jr., made a series of calls. In the interval between one call from Russia and another to Russia on that day, Trump, Jr., spoke for three or four minutes to someone whose phone number was blocked. This raised the question of whether Trump, Jr., had advised his father of the planned meeting—which both the President and his son have long denied. Under Nunes, the committee declined to issue a subpoena to the telephone company to determine whether Trump, Jr., had been talking with his father. Schiff told me that, when he takes over the committee, one of his first orders of business will be to issue such a subpoena.
Jeffrey Toobin in his article, ”Adam Schiff's Plans to Obliterate Trump's Red Line," in the Dec. 24/31 New Yorker
“‘The Apprentice’ was built around a weekly series of business challenges. At the end of each episode, Trump determined which competitor should be ‘fired.’ But, as Braun explained, Trump was frequently unprepared for these sessions, with little grasp of who had performed well. Sometimes a candidate distinguished herself during the contest only to get fired, on a whim, by Trump. When this happened, Braun said, the editors were often obliged to ‘reverse engineer’ the episode, scouring hundreds of hours of footage to emphasize the few moments when the exemplary candidate might have slipped up, in an attempt to assemble an artificial version of history in which Trump's shoot-from-the-hip decision made sense. During the making of ‘The Apprentice,’ Burnett conceded that the stories were constructed in this way, saying, ‘We know each week who has been fired, and, therefore, you’re editing in reverse.' Braun noted that President Trump's staff seems to have been similarly forced to learn the art of retroactive narrative construction, adding, 'I find it strangely validating to hear that they‘re doing the same thing in the White House.’”
from Patrick Radden Keefe's must-read piece, “How Mark Burnett Resurrected Donald Trump as an Icon of American Success,” in The New Yorker. It's a tale told by an idiot culture.
Quote of the Day
“It is damaging and troubling enough that a candidate for the Presidency, throughout his primary campaign, was actively pursuing a business deal that required a favor from the President of a rival nation. It is damaging enough to learn that the President, his children, his business partners, and his campaign officials lied and dissembled frequently about this deal and other contacts with Russia. It places the need for Mueller to complete his investigation in even sharper light. Cohen's revelations call into question much of what Donald Trump and others have said publicly and, perhaps in some cases, under oath, regarding his business interests. It's a point that Adam Schiff, the presumptive future chair of the House Intelligence Committee, made, saying that, after Cohen's guilty plea, ‘We believe other witnesses were untruthful before our committee.’”
Adam Davidson, “Michael Cohen's Disclosures Raise Serious Questions About Donald Trump and His Business Interests,” New Yorker, after the revelations today from Trump's former lawyer. Check it out, too, for “The pathetic part of the Cohen story...”
Collusion, Collusion, Wear a Gas Mask and a Veil, Cont.
From Jonathan Chait's piece, “Forget Impeachment. Mueller's Real Threat to Trump Is in 2020” on the New York Magazine site:
The breadth of Trump's legal exposure exceeds that of any president in American history. It is so vast that it is hard to comprehend. Some, and possibly all, of the following appear to have colluded with Russia on behalf of the Trump campaign: Michael Flynn, Roger Stone, Paul Manafort, Donald Trump Jr., and Michael Cohen. Trump has been doing business with the criminal underworld in Russia and elsewhere for years, the secrets of which may be revealed by Mueller, or by House Democrats obtaining his tax returns. Federal prosecutors are investigating whether he violated campaign-finance laws by directing hush money to various mistresses. The state of New York is investigating the Trump Foundation for alleged misappropriation of funds and the Trump Organization for decades-long tax fraud. He is being sued for violating the Constitution's Emoluments Clause. He is also being sued for fraud.
And this is just the information we know so far, which has come out despite a Congress dedicated to protecting him from investigation, a benefit he will enjoy for only a few more weeks.
As for what the headline means: Chait says it's unlikely Mueller can indict a sitting president; and for impeachment you need 2/3 of the Senate or (currently) 20 Republican Senators. So the real battle will be in 2020 when the voters can do something about it.
Unfortunately that brings up the scariest line in the piece, According to Chait, a poll from last spring “found that nearly three-fifths of the public is unaware that Mueller has uncovered any crimes at all.”
WSJ: ‘The U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan has gathered evidence of Mr. Trump's participation in the transactions'
Today, the Wall Street Journal reported that in 2015 Donald Trump sat down with media mogul David Pecker, who runs The National Enquirer, among others, about quashing potential allegations of sexual misconduct directed at then-presidential candidate. Pecker would buy the stories, sign the principles to an NDA, then never run them.
We‘ve known about some aspect of this story for a while now. What’s new, in the WSJ piece, is Trump's direct involvement:
Taken together, the accounts refute a two-year pattern of denials by Mr. Trump, his legal team and his advisers that he was involved in payoffs to Ms. McDougal and a former adult-film star. They also raise the possibility that the president of the United States violated federal campaign-finance laws.
The Wall Street Journal found that Mr. Trump was involved in or briefed on nearly every step of the agreements. He directed deals in phone calls and meetings with his self-described fixer, Michael Cohen, and others. The U.S. attorney's office in Manhattan has gathered evidence of Mr. Trump's participation in the transactions.
More more more, as the lady sang.