President Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, has reportedly spoken to prosecutors in the Mueller probe for hours, about collusion, Russia, business and pardons. This reporting suggests he is a cooperating convict, as he awaits sentencing in New York and means that each of the 5 guilty Trump aides, are now working with Bob Mueller.
President Trump stopped his motorcade in Manhattan today, jumped out of his limousine and shot a man on Fifth Avenue who was shouting anti-Trump epithets. The shooting was recorded by the White House press pool as well as by dozens of bystanders with cellphones and by security cameras in the area. When asked for his reaction, House Speaker Paul Ryan said, “We will need more information than is available at this point.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said through pursed lips that he “was not going to comment on every up and down with this president.”House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes said he already had information indicating that the man whom Trump shot “worked for the Clinton Foundation and may have been a relative of former Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin.”
Fox News did not cover Trump’s shooting at the top of its broadcast, which focused instead on the killing of an Iowa woman by an undocumented immigrant. Fox’s only reference to the fact that the president shot a man on Fifth Avenue was that “a New York City man died today when he ran right into a bullet fired by the president.”
Senator Lindsey Graham quipped that “Trump shoots as well as he putts”and that this incident would not cause the South Carolina senator to cancel his coming golf round with the president at his Bedminster, N.J., course.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters that she was looking the other way when the shooting happened so she had no comment, adding: “I haven’t had a chance to discuss it with the president. I’ll get back to you if I have something. But the president has stated many times that he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and get away with it. So he’s just keeping a campaign promise. He did nothing wrong. There are no charges against him. And even though I have no comment, and he has no comment, we’ve commented on this extensively.”
Hours later, though, the president tweeted: “Actually, some people are saying that a man who looked a lot like Barack Obama did the shooting. I’m not saying that — but some people are. It also could have been somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds who fired that shot. Like Rudy said: Truth is not truth — unless I say so.”
Jerry Falwell Jr., a top evangelical leader, announced that his movement would be holding a vigil this evening, praying that the president had not stressed himself too much by having to shoot a man on Fifth Avenue. Falwell added, “This would never have happened if Jeff Sessions were doing his job.”
The day ended with Education Secretary Betsy DeVos declaring that the fact that the president could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue in broad daylight “only proves again why we need to arm all our schoolteachers.”
My biggest challenge in writing all of the above? Worrying that readers wouldn’t realize it was made up.
.. America, we all know, won the Cold War. Our values and economic system proved superior to Russia’s. But what is at stake in the 2018 midterms is who is going to win the post-Cold War.
.. what we are seeing in the behavior of Trump and his toadies in the G.O.P. is the beginnings of the Russification of American politics. Vladimir Putin could still win the post-Cold War.
.. Because the Soviets claimed to have built a worker’s paradise, it was important that we had strong unions, a strong middle class, less inequality and an adequate social safety net. The Soviets did not have the rule of law. So we had to have it more than ever.
“I came here from Russia in ’75,” Gorbis added, “and it was remarkable to me that in this society there were laws and norms and principles, and people abided by them. The idea that people actually paid their taxes was kind of remarkable to me.” In the Russia she grew up in, said Gorbis, “we did not have that; if there was a law, there was always a way to bribe and get around it.”
.. But with the Cold War now far back in our rearview mirror, Trump has not only insisted on bringing America closer to Putin’s Russia geopolitically, but also politically.
.. Trump still refuses to show us his tax returns long after his “audit,” which can only mean he is hiding something. His campaign chairman Paul Manafort is a convicted tax cheat who was trying to keep Putin’s stooge in power in Ukraine. Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen is another confessed tax cheat.
.. And the first two House Republicans to endorse Trump in 2016 — Duncan Hunter and Chris Collins — were both just indicted on corruption charges.
.. one has a stronger feeling than ever that with a moral vacuum at the heart of the Trump White House — and with the president assaulting the media and the judiciary on a regular basis, not unlike Putin — everything goes, so grab what you can, because no one’s looking.
.. “The Russification of America under Trump, it’s not just about collusion, corruption and money laundering,” said Gorbis. “It is about his behavior” — crass language, simplistic slogans reminiscent of the Soviet rhetoric, use of terms such as “enemy of the people,” and his insistence on personal loyalty over loyalty to the Constitution or institutions.
.. There are other parallels between Trumpism and Putinism: the glorification of oil, gas and mining over science and technology; the elevation of white, Christian, nationalist values; and the neutering of the legislative branch — today’s G.O.P.-dominated Congress behaves just like the rubber-stamp Russian Duma. Worse, this Russification of politics is also spreading — to the Philippines, Turkey, Hungary, Poland and maybe soon to Brazil.
.. A few more years of this Russification of America and the rot will be everywhere. Russia will have won the post-Cold War
President Trump is a lawyer’s client from hell. He lacks self-control, cannot tell the truth and will not absorb legal advice he doesn’t like. Most clients don’t incriminate themselves in public. Again and again. Trump does, however.
.. he is worried that Trump Jr. may have unintentionally stumbled into legal jeopardy and is embroiled in [special counsel Robert S.] Mueller’s investigation largely because of his connection to the president.
.. That’s worse than acknowledging to NBC’s Lester Holt that he was thinking about the Russia investigation when he fired then-FBI Director James B. Comey. It’s worse than his nonstop attempts to obstruct the prosecutors — who are investigating an obstruction-of-justice case. (You cannot make this stuff up.)
.. Most important, Trump confirmed that the meeting with Russians was designed to obtain something valuable — previously undisclosed dirt on Hillary Clinton. That arguably would violate federal law prohibiting a candidate from asking for or receiving something of value from a foreign national. Put it this way: The most powerful evidence that Donald Trump Jr. violated campaign law comes from Donald Trump Jr.’s own email (“I love it” in anticipation of the Trump Tower dirt-finding meeting) and his own father’s tweet. Like father, like son.
.. Trump Sr.’s insistence that he did not know about the meeting in advance might, to an outside observer, suggest he knows it would be a problem if he did. But then again, he knew about the meeting after the fact and drafted a false statement, so it’s not as though prior knowledge is essential to the prosecutors’ obstruction case.
.. Trump fails to understand that the very meeting he is acknowledging is collusion — or conspiracy, if you will — to break campaign-finance laws. Insisting that it is legal to get dirt from a foreign national is politically and morally offensive (Trump was picked by the Kremlin) and contradicts his claim the Russians didn’t want him to win (another lie in the coverup). He knows they did — they had a meeting to help his campaign.
.. The email also suggests that Trump Jr. (allegedly with drafting help from his father) tried to conceal the true purpose of the meeting with a false cover story (it was all about adoption, you see.)
.. Trump Jr. may also have lied to Congress by suggesting his father was not intimately involved in drafting the false written statement.
.. Trump’s insistence that the meeting was perfectly legal and perfectly normal is wrong on both counts. No presidential campaign has gone to a hostile foreign power for help in winning an election. It’s a invitation for a foreign power to help pick our elected leaders, a constitutional abomination and a repudiation of the very concept of democracy (i.e., we pick our own leaders).
.. The political implications of Trump’s latest confession are quite stunning. Will the rest of the GOP go along with the position that it was perfectly fine for Russia to help Trump? That would sure be a change from “No collusion” (to “Collusion, so what?!”).
.. I don’t know how a major political party can maintain the view that hostile powers have carte blanche to influence our elections. Every Republican in elected office or on the ballot should be asked his or her view on the matter.
The notion that collusion with a hostile power is no big deal is so preposterous and unpalatable, you would think Republicans would not dare try to defend Trump on this point. But this crowd? They might just try it.
First, Trump is correct that the term “collusion” doesn’t refer to a crime, which is one of the problems with Democrats’ continual insistence on using it. But the activity of colluding with the Russian government to affect an American election could most certainly be a crime.
- It could involve conspiracy;
- it could involve obstruction;
- it could involve lying to federal law enforcement. All three of these issues are live right now, although the Mueller investigation has not completed its work.Second, there’s no reason for Trump to go here. If he didn’t collude with the Russians in any way, why would he downplay the problems with collusion? As a believer that Mueller has provided no evidence thus far suggesting that Trump himself was involved in collusion, it’s bewildering why Trump would go here. Imagine you’re investigated for tax evasion. Wouldn’t you simply say you didn’t commit tax evasion, rather than arguing that tax evasion isn’t a crime?
Third, if collusion isn’t a crime, why would Trump be concerned with Hillary Clinton committing it? It’s all well and good for Trump to point out Hillary’s campaign working with Christopher Steele, who may well have worked with Kremlin agents. That’s legitimate. But if it’s a bad thing when Clinton did it, wouldn’t it be a bad thing if Trump did it?.. Here’s the bottom line: none of this is smart public relations. Trump should simply maintain his innocence and then allow the Mueller investigation to do its work – and fight its conclusions if he thinks those conclusions are not based in reality. His penchant for throwing off random thoughts on Twitter is the exact opposite of what any lawyer worth his salt would tell a client, guilty or innocent, to do.