Straining to Keep Faith With America

Among the events of John McCain’s five-and-a-half years of imprisonment and torture in North Vietnam, probably the most heroic, and surely the most celebrated, was his refusal to accept an early release from his captors.

“I knew that every prisoner the Vietnamese tried to break, those who had arrived before me and those who would come after me, would be taunted with the story of how an admiral’s son had gone home early, a lucky beneficiary of America’s class-conscious society,” McCain recalled in “Faith of My Fathers,” his 1999 memoir. “I knew that my release would add to the suffering of men who were already straining to keep faith with their country.”

.. They strain to keep faith with America when the attorney general weaponizes the terror of children and the desperation of parents in order to pursue his vision of immigration policy.

.. They strain to keep faith when the president rains scorn on our closest allies at summits in Canada and Belgium, and follows each performance with epic displays of obsequiousness toward a North Korean mass murderer and a Russian assassin.

.. They strain to keep faith when the vice president publicly walks out of a football stadium because players bend a knee in silent protest of racial injustice just two months after the president loudly defended white nationalists at Charlottesville as “some very fine people.”

..  An American president who, in matters of both character and conviction, was low and vapid and mean-spirited and bottomlessly dishonorable — McCain’s opposite in every respect.

 

 

‘Winter is coming’: Allies fear Trump isn’t prepared for gathering legal storm

President Trump’s advisers and allies are increasingly worried that he has neither the staff nor the strategy to protect himself from a possible Democratic takeover of the House, which would empower the opposition party to shower the administration with subpoenas or even pursue impeachment charges

.. The president and some of his advisers have discussed possibly adding veteran defense attorney Abbe Lowell, who currently represents Trump son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, to Trump’s personal legal team

..Trump announced Wednesday that

  1. Donald McGahn will depart as White House counsel this fall, once the Senate confirms Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh. Three of McGahn’s deputies —
  2. Greg Katsas,
  3. Uttam Dhillon and
  4. Makan Delrahim — have departed, and a fourth,
  5. Stefan Passantino, will have his last day Friday.

That leaves John Eisenberg, who handles national security, as the lone deputy counsel.

.. McGahn and other aides have invoked the prospect of impeachment to persuade the president not to take actions or behave in ways that they believe would hurt him, officials said.

Still, Trump has not directed his lawyers or his political aides to prepare an action plan, leaving allies to fret that the president does not appreciate the magnitude of what could be in store next year.

.. Trump attorney Rudolph W. Giuliani said he and the president have discussed the possibility that special counsel Robert S. Mueller III will issue a damning report to Congress.

.. If Democrats control the House, the oversight committees likely would use their subpoena power as a weapon to assail the administration, investigating with a vengeance. The committees could hold hearings about policies

  1. such as the travel ban affecting majority-Muslim countries and
  2. “zero tolerance” family separation, as well as on possible
  3. ethical misconduct throughout the administration or the Trump family’s private businesses.
..  “Assuming Democrats win the House, which we all believe is a very strong likelihood, the White House will be under siege. But it’s like tumbleweeds rolling down the halls over there. Nobody’s prepared for war.”
.. Trump has told confidants that some of his aides have highly competent lawyers such as Lowell, who represents Kushner, and William A. Burck, who represents McGahn as well as former White House chief of staff Reince Priebus and former White House chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon.
“He wonders why he doesn’t have lawyers like that,” said one person who has discussed the matter with Trump.
Another adviser said Trump remarked this year, “I need a lawyer like Abbe.”
Giuliani said that he has not heard of Trump considering adding Lowell to the team but that he would be a great choice because of his thorough and aggressive style.

“This president might like that better,” Giuliani said. “If he thinks someone isn’t being tough enough, he has a tendency to go out to defend himself. And that’s not good.”

.. “I would think that the type of lawyer most able to handle the impeachment scenario would be someone from the appellate and Supreme Court bar — someone of the Ted Olson or Paul Clement or Andy Pincus level, someone who knows how to make the kind of arguments should it come to a vote in the Senate,” Corallo said.

.. Emmet Flood, a White House lawyer and McGahn ally who handles the special counsel’s Russia investigation, has long been considered a top prospect to replace McGahn.

.. Flood, often described as a lawyer’s lawyer, is in many ways the opposite of Trump and Giuliani, yet the president has told advisers he is impressed by Flood’s legal chops and hard-line positions defending the prerogatives of the White House.

.. White House aides, including deputy chief of staff Johnny ­DeStefano and political director Bill Stepien, have tried to ratchet down Trump’s expectations for the elections, saying that projections look grim in the House.

.. Another concern is that the White House, which already has struggled in attracting top-caliber talent to staff positions, could face an exodus if Democrats take over the House, because aides fear their mere proximity to the president could place them in legal limbo and possibly result in hefty lawyers’ fees.

“It stops good people from potentially serving because nobody wants to inherit a $400,000 legal bill,” said another Trump adviser.

.. the West Wing staff is barely equipped to handle basic crisis communications functions, such as distributing robust talking points to key surrogates, and question how the operation could handle an impeachment trial or other potential battles.

Trump sees the administration as having a singular focus — him — and therefore is less concerned with the institution of the presidency and not aware of the vast infrastructure often required to protect it, according to some of his allies.

.. Jack Quinn, who served as White House counsel under Clinton, said his office had at least 40 lawyers and as many as 60 during key times.

.. “I appreciate that Rudy Giuliani is doing a lot of the public speaking and perhaps some other things,” Quinn said. But, he added, “it’s a little bit of a mystery to me who is doing the outside legal work.”

Why Michael Cohen Agreed to Plead Guilty—And Implicate the President

Prosecutors had reams of evidence and a long list of counts, which also could have included the lawyer’s wife

For weeks, the president had been distancing himself from Mr. Cohen, including by stopping paying his longtime attorney’s legal fees, making clear amid the pressure that he was on his own.

Under oath on Tuesday, before a packed courtroom, Mr. Cohen created a spectacular moment without parallel in American history when he confessed to two crimes that he said he committed at the behest of the man who would become president.

..  For the president, it opens up a perilous new legal front.

..  Mr. Trump denied he directed Mr. Cohen to buy the women’s silence. Contradicting earlier statements, the president said he became aware of the payments to the women “later on” and said Mr. Cohen was reimbursed from his personal funds, not his 2016 campaign coffers.

.. On April 5, days before the raids, Mr. Trump told reporters on Air Force One he didn’t know about the payment to Ms. Clifford, and referred questions about the matter to Mr. Cohen. “You’ll have to ask Michael Cohen,” Mr. Trump said. “Michael is my attorney.”

Mr. Cohen, who that night was staying aboard the yacht of Trump donor Franklin Haney, which was docked in Miami, grew irate on the ship soon after Mr. Trump made his remarks distancing himself from the Clifford payment, according to a person familiar with the episode. Mr. Cohen was swearing loudly as others on the boat were sipping their drinks, the person said.

.. Initially, Mr. Cohen seemed unlikely to turn on the president. Although their relationship was at times turbulent, Mr. Trump appreciated Mr. Cohen’s absolute loyalty. On the day of the raids, Mr. Trump called the move a “disgrace” and a “witch hunt.”

Soon after the April raids, Mr. Cohen’s relationship with Mr. Trump began to deteriorate.

The estrangement began over legal bills, said a person who has spoken with Mr. Cohen about the matter. The Trump family covered part of Mr. Cohen’s legal fees after the raids, but then stopped paying.

Mr. Cohen felt exposed. Public comments by Rudy Giuliani, Mr. Trump’s lawyer, put distance between the president and Mr. Cohen and further alienated the attorney, the person said.

Mr. Cohen told associates and friends he felt Mr. Trump didn’t have his back and vented that the president hadn’t personally offered to pay his legal bills in the Manhattan investigation, which he said were “bankrupting” him.
.. By then, prosecutors and the Internal Revenue Service had focused on Mr. Cohen’s personal income taxes. In conversations with a potential witness in June and July, investigators asked “very pointed” questions about various tax filings, according to a person familiar with the conversations.

“They knew what they wanted, they knew what they had, and they went after it,” the person said.

In late June, Mr. Cohen openly broke with Mr. Trump.

.. Mr. Cohen’s father urged him not to protect the president, saying he didn’t survive the Holocaust to have his name sullied by Mr. Trump
.. On June 20, Mr. Cohen stepped down from his position as the Republican National Committee’s deputy finance chairman and tweeted his first public criticism of his former boss: “As the son of a Polish holocaust survivor, the images and sounds of this family separation policy [are] heart wrenching.” The tweet no longer appears on Mr. Cohen’s Twitter account.
.. In July, a recording became public that Mr. Cohen surreptitiously made of a conversation he had with Mr. Trump in September 2016 about buying the rights to Ms. McDougal’s story. The president has denied the affair.The president’s legal team had waived attorney-client privilege on the recording, which had been seized in the April 9 raids.

.. Given the Justice Department’s policy of not indicting sitting presidents, a guilty plea from Mr. Cohen and his public implication of Mr. Trump were among the strongest outcomes prosecutors could have hoped for

.. For prosecutors, the guilty plea meant they could avoid a contentious trial and free up resources to pursue other investigations.
.. one of Mr. Cohen’s lawyers, Lanny Davis, appeared on cable news shows to say Mr. Cohen wouldn’t accept a pardon from Mr. Trump and “is more than happy to tell the special counsel all that he knows.”

‘Immigration hypocrite’: Stephen Miller’s uncle lambastes him in scathing op-ed

Wolf-Leib Glosser fled violence from his small Eastern European village, and with $8 to his name, came to Ellis Island. His children soon followed, and his children’s children were born in the American city of Johnstown, Pa., where the family grew and prospered.

Such is what “chain migration” was like at the turn of the 20th century, and such is the “classically American tale” of the ancestors of White House senior adviser Stephen Miller, according to a scathing op-ed written by David S. Glosser, Miller’s uncle, in Politico.

.. “I have watched with dismay and increasing horror as my nephew, who is an educated man and well aware of his heritage, has become the architect of immigration policies that repudiate the very foundation of our family’s life in this country,” Glosser wrote in the op-ed published Monday.

.. Had the very same immigration policies his nephew “so coolly espouses” been in effect at the turn of the 20th century, when the family’s patriarch, Wolf-Leib, left the small village of Antopol to escape persecution of Jews, Miller’s ancestors would have been “wiped out” before they could make it to the United States, Glosser wrote. They would not have been able to sell goods out of a horse-drawn wagon in Johnstown and grow the business into a haberdashery and, years later, to a supermarket chain and discount department stores run by the next generation of Glossers, including Izzy, Miller’s maternal grandfather.

I would encourage Stephen to ask himself if the chanting, torch-bearing Nazis of Charlottesville, whose support his boss seems to court so cavalierly, do not envision a similar fate for him,” Glosser wrote.

.. “The detention of those thousands of children and separation from their parents was a bridge too far,” he told The Washington Post.

.. The post was prompted by Miller’s visit to Johnstown that month, when the Trump campaign held a rally there. Miller talked for a few minutes about how the small Pennsylvania city became home to his immigrant ancestors.

“Four generations of my family have lived in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. My mother was born and raised in Johnstown. My grandfather was born and raised in Johnstown. My great-grandfather was born and raised in Johnstown. And my great-great-grandfather came here from overseas to start his American Dream,” Miller told the crowd.

.. Miller is not the only member of the Trump administration whose ancestors came to the United States to join family members. The president himself benefited from “chain migration,” or family reunification, on both sides of his family, as The Washington Post’s Philip Bump wrote. The same process allowed first lady Melania Trump to sponsor her parents to come to the United States. Viktor and Amalija Knavs became naturalized citizens last week.