Trump Signals Consequences for Michael Cohen Over Secret Recording

President Trump lashed out at his longtime lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, on Saturday, suggesting that there could be legal consequences for Mr. Cohen’s decision to record a discussion

.. “Inconceivable that the government would break into a lawyer’s office (early in the morning) — almost unheard of,” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter. “Even more inconceivable that a lawyer would tape a client — totally unheard of & perhaps illegal. The good news is that your favorite President did nothing wrong!”

.. advisers say has become more unwilling than ever to listen to advice

.. Mr. Trump signaled open warfare on Mr. Cohen, a longtime fixer he had until now tried to keep by his side.

.. While the president suggested on Saturday that Mr. Cohen’s recording may have been illegal, New York law allows one party to a conversation to tape it without the other knowing.

.. Mr. Trump himself also has a history of recording phone calls and conversations.

.. A person familiar with the discussions said that once The Times approached Mr. Giuliani, the president’s legal team chose not to assert attorney-client privilege over the recording.

.. John R. Bolton, the national security adviser, mostly stayed away from Mr. Trump.

Mr. Bolton wrote down four bullet points aboard Air Force One that he believed were relevant, including that Mr. Trump should acknowledge that he believed the intelligence agencies’ findings on the Russian meddling. He relayed them to the press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders

.. Trump has surveyed almost everyone he has talked to about his performance in Finland, but few told him just how poorly it had gone. Aides suggested different options for “changing the narrative,” without seeming to realize that a simple story would not suffice.

.. Mr. Trump ultimately came up with his own solution: He would say he had left out a word in the news conference with Mr. Putin

.. Ivanka looked for ways to push the narrative away from Russia.

.. She said her worker retraining announcement with her father later in the afternoon at the White House could provide a pivot toward a new story.

.. Kellyanne Conway, pointed out that Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence, and two other administration intelligence officials would appear at a national security conference in Aspen

.. Privately, Mr. Trump’s advisers have suggested that Mr. Cohen had done things that Mr. Trump was unaware of. The recording makes that harder to accept.

On his way to the New Jersey golf club, the president ignored several questions from reporters about why his campaign would have denied knowledge of the payments if he was on tape discussing them with Mr. Cohen.

‘Trump betrays everyone’: The president has a long record as an unpredictable ally

President Trump prepared for the pivotal meeting with congressional leaders by huddling with his senior team — his chief of staff, his legislative director and the heads of Treasury and the Office of Management and Budget — to game out various scenarios on how to fund the government, raise the debt ceiling and provide Hurricane Harvey relief.

But one option they never considered was the that one the president ultimately chose: cutting a deal with Democratic lawmakers, to the shock and ire of his own party.

.. The president was an unpredictable — and, some would say, untrustworthy — negotiating partner with not only congressional Republicans but also with his Cabinet members and top aides.

.. His dealings are frequently defined by freewheeling spontaneity, impulsive decisions and a desire to keep everyone guessing — especially those who assume they can control him.

.. He also repeatedly demonstrates that, while he demands absolute loyalty from others, he is ultimately loyal to no one but himself.

.. “It makes all of their normalizing and ‘Trumpsplaining’ look silly and hollow,”

..  “Trump betrays everyone:

  • wives,
  • business associates,
  • contractors,
  • bankers and now,
  • the leaders of the House and Senate in his own party.

They can’t explain this away as [a] 15-dimensional Trump chess game. It’s a dishonest person behaving according to his long-established pattern.”

.. he relished the opportunity for a bipartisan agreement and the praise he anticipated it would bring

.. On Thursday morning, he called Pelosi and Schumer to crow about coverage of the deal — “The press has been incredible,” he told Pelosi

.. The treasury secretary presented himself as a Wall Street insider, arguing that the stability of the markets required an 18-month extension.

At one point, Schumer intervened with a skeptical question: “So the markets dictate one month past the 2018 election?” he asked, rhetorically, according to someone with knowledge of his comment. “I doubt that.”

.. The Republican leaders and Mnuchin slowly began moderating their demands, moving from their initial pitch down to 12 months and then six months. At one point, when Mnuchin was in the middle of yet another explanation, the president cut him off, making it clear that he disagreed.

.. Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.) ..

.. “I support the president, I want him to be successful, I want our country to be successful,” Zeldin said in an interview afterward. “But I personally believe the president had more leverage than he may have realized. He had more Democratic votes than he realized, and could have and would have certainly gotten a better deal.”

.. Trump is a fickle ally and partner, liable to turn on them much in the same way he has turned on his business associates and foreign allies.

.. “Looking to the long term, trust and reliability have been essential ingredients in productive relationships between the president and Congress,” said Phil Schiliro, who served as director of legislative affairs under Obama. “Without them, trying to move a legislative agenda is like juggling on quicksand. It usually doesn’t end well.”

Trump Just Doesn’t Get It

It was brilliant and typically shrewd for the author of The Art of the Deal to take the very first offer the Democrats made and ask for nothing in return.

.. Less obsequious observers on the right claimed that this was the long-prophesied moment. The seventh seal had been broken. Donald Trump was “pivoting” at last. “The pivot is real and it’s spectacular!” proclaimed Ben Domenech, the publisher of The Federalist.

.. The former New York Democrat holds no deep love for ideological conservatism, and many of his favorite issues — protectionism, infrastructure, etc. — are more naturally part of the Democratic portfolio.

.. For years, Republicans said that if they could win both Congress and the White House, there’d be nothing they couldn’t do. Whether this was a lie or just wishful thinking is debatable. Regardless, they failed for several reasons.

  1. The Republican majority in the Senate is much narrower than the Democratic majority was when Obama was elected.
  2. Many GOP leaders never thought Trump would win, and so they hadn’t prepared for victory.
  3. Also, the Republican party is divided along a host of fault lines,
  4. and a large swath of the Republican caucus has no experience at actually governing.
  5. .. The problem is there’s another reason Congress has disappointed the president and his most ardent supporters: Donald Trump doesn’t know what he’s doing.

.. Trump is “being pulled in a bunch of different directions, and because he doesn’t have any strong ideological anchor, or deep knowledge of the issue, he ends up sort of not knowing what to do.” Instead, the president goes with his gut on everything, letting himself be baited by negative TV coverage.