‘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.”

It may have just confirmed a key New York Times scoop. 

Well, if the newly released Nunes memo is correct, House Republicans and the Trump administration just confirmed the Times’scoop. In the process, they blew up their core argument against the investigation. The investigation isn’t the fruit of the poisonous dossier (though the dossier did play a role); it existed before the dossier

.. From the beginning of the Russia investigation, it has always been the case that two things could be true at once: FBI agents could have engaged in misconduct (including misconduct motivated by political bias) and the Russia investigation could be legitimate, necessary, and based on information obtained not through Democratic opposition research but through legitimate intelligence-gathering methods.

From the beginning of the Russia investigation, it has always been the case that two things could be true at once:

  1. FBI agents could have engaged in misconduct (including misconduct motivated by political bias) and
  2. the Russia investigation could be legitimate, necessary, and based on information obtained not through Democratic opposition research but through legitimate intelligence-gathering methods.

Harvey Weinstein Is Fired After Sexual Harassment Reports

“In light of new information about misconduct by Harvey Weinstein that has emerged in the past few days, the directors of the Weinstein Company — Robert Weinstein, Lance Maerov, Richard Koenigsberg and Tarak Ben Ammar — have determined, and have informed Harvey Weinstein, that his employment with the Weinstein Company is terminated, effective immediately,”

.. In an interview, Mr. Maerov said it had been brought to the board’s attention on Sunday that Mr. Weinstein had violated the company’s code of conduct in the past week. But he would not specify what the violation was.

.. “I see this as a tipping point,” said Jenni Konner, who co-produced, wrote and directed the HBO series “Girls.” “This is the moment we look back on and say, ‘That’s when it all started to change.’”

The firing of Mr. Weinstein by his own company, Ms. Konner said, “is going to scare any man in Hollywood using his power for anything but making movies and television.”

Why Trump’s Vengeful Tweeting Matters

He’s crass, vicious, and petty.

.. It’s a sad symbol of our times that one feels compelled to actually make an argument why the president is wrong here. The pitiful reality is that there are people who feel like the man who sits in the seat once occupied by George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Dwight Eisenhower, and Ronald Reagan should use his bully pulpit for schoolyard insults and vicious personal attacks. But this is what we’re reduced to. So, here goes. –

.. First, it is simply and clearly morally wrong to attack another person like this. I’m tired of hearing people say things like, “This is not normal.” Normality isn’t the concern here. Morality is. It doesn’t matter if Mika has been “mean” to Trump. Nor does it matter that we can point to any number of angry personal attacks on Trump from others. We have to get past the idea that another person’s bad acts somehow justify “our” side’s misconduct. Morality is not so situational. Trump is under a moral obligation to treat others the way he’d like to be treated, to love his neighbor as he would love himself. Yes, he can engage in ideological and political battles, but to attack another person in such vicious terms is to cross a bright line.

.. Second, it’s not classist or elitist to make this moral argument. It’s no justification to argue that Trump simply speaks the way “real Americans” do, or that he’s brought into public the language that “everyone knows” people use behind closed doors. People of every social class and economic standing have the same moral responsibilities, and our society suffers when we relax those responsibilities, whether for a steelworker in a mill outside Pittsburgh or the real-estate developer in the Oval Office.

.. Third, even if your ethics are entirely situational and tribal, Trump’s tweets are still destructive. Attacking Mika like this doesn’t silence her or anyone at MSNBC. It doesn’t move the ball downfield on repealing Obamacare. It does, however, make more people dislike Donald Trump. It’s a misuse and abuse of the bully pulpit, all the more galling because it comes at a time when the positive parts of his agenda truly do need public champions.

.. Fourth, please stop with the ridiculous lie that this is the only way to beat the Left. Stop with any argument that this kind of pettiness is somehow preferable to the alleged weakness of other Republicans. There are thousands of GOP office-holders who’ve won their races (including by margins that dwarf Trump’s, even in the toughest districts and states) without resorting to Trump-like behavior. In fact, at the state level many of these same honorable and moral people are currently busy enacting reforms that the national GOP can only dream about.

.. The election is over. Trump isn’t running against Hillary Clinton anymore. Americans are no longer faced with the awful choice of either pulling the lever for an unfit candidate or voting for someone who has no chance of winning. If there were ever a time for Republicans to show some backbone, to tell their president that some conduct is out of bounds, it’s now, early in his first term, when he has time to turn the page and put his past misconduct in the rear-view mirror.

.. while also condemning Trump’s vile tweets and criticizing his impulsiveness and lack of discipline. A good conservative can even step back and take a longer view, resolving to fight for the cultural values that tribalism degrades. Presidents matter not just because of their policies but also because of their impact on the character of the people they govern. Conservatives knew that once. Do they still?