Newly discovered early glimmers of legal brilliance from “America’s lawyer.”
1951. Seven-year-old Rudy Giuliani is caught by his mother with his hand in the cookie jar and crumbs around his mouth.
MRS. GIULIANI: Rudy, I told you not to eat the cookies!
RUDY: You said, “Don’t not eat the cookies.”
MRS. GIULIANI: I didn’t say that.
RUDY: You just admitted “I didn’t not say that.”
MRS. GIULIANI: You’re adding “not” to sentences to make them mean the opposite.
RUDY: (laughs boisterously) I’ve listened to hundreds of maternal statements, and it wasn’t until the third time I replayed what you said in my mind, because there’s no way to easily record conversations in the current year — 1951 — that I heard the “not.” And even if your original statement is what you didn’t not say it wasn’t not, could you actually prove that I ate multiple cookies?
MRS. GIULIANI: No, but that’s beside the —
RUDY: Being told “don’t eat the cookies” and eating a single cookie isn’t a federal crime, correct?
MRS. GIULIANI: We’re moving the goal posts from “I didn’t eat the cookies” to “I ate a single cookie, which isn’t a federal crime”?
RUDY: Who tipped you off to the alleged cookie theft?
MRS. GIULIANI: Your cousin.
RUDY: Cousin Michael’s been a known liar and a tattler for years.
MRS. GIULIANI: Two days ago, when he swore you didn’t finish the apple pie cooling on the window sill, you said he was “an honest and honorable cousin.”
RUDY: That was before he made these ridiculous allegations. What kind of scoundrel watches his cousin eat a pie off a window sill?
MRS. GIULIANI: So you’re confessing that you did eat the pie?
RUDY: Hypothetically, when in fact I wasn’t there, and also there never was a pie. Or a window sill.
For ten years, he interacted with a medical-supplement maker accused of false advertising.
In March of last year, Dr. Ben Carson, the conservative star considered a potential 2016 Republican presidential candidate, appeared in a video for Mannatech, Inc., a Texas-based medical supplement maker. Smiling into the camera, he extolled the benefits of the company’s “glyconutrient” products:
The wonderful thing about a company like Mannatech is that they recognize that when God made us, He gave us the right fuel. And that fuel was the right kind of healthy food. You know we live in a society that is very sophisticated, and sometimes we’re not able to achieve the original diet. And we have to alter our diet to fit our lifestyle. Many of the natural things are not included in our diet. Basically what the company is doing is trying to find a way to restore natural diet as a medicine or as a mechanism for maintaining health.
Carson’s interactions with Mannatech, a nutritional-supplement company based in suburban Dallas, date back to 2004, when he was a speaker at the company’s annual conferences
.. He also spoke at Mannatech conferences in 2011 and 2013, and spoke about “glyconutrients” in a PBS special as recently as last year.
.. Mannatech has a long, checkered past, stretching back to its founding more than a decade before Carson began touting the company’s supplements.
.. The suit alleged that the Mannatech sales associate who “treated” the three-year-old had shared naked photos of the boy — provided by his mother as evidence of weight gain, with an understanding that they’d be kept confidential — with hundreds of people at a Mannatech demonstration seminar.
.. The sales associate was further accused of authoring an article, in the Journal of the American Nutraceutical Association in August 1997, explicitly claiming that Mannatech’s supplements had improved the boy’s condition, even though the boy had, by that time, died.
“I don’t know that he’s ever had a compensated relationship with Mannatech,” says Armstrong Williams, Carson’s business manager, when asked about those appearances.
.. “All we know is that the Washington Speaker’s Bureau, which booked hundreds of speaking engagements for him through the year, booked these engagements. He had no idea who these people are. They’re booked through the speakers’ bureau. The question should be asked to the Washington Speakers Bureau, when did they have a relationship with Mannatech, because Dr. Carson never had one.” (At Washington Speakers Bureau, Carson is listed as a level-6 speaker, meaning his fee is more than $40,000 per speech.)
.. The suit also presented evidence that Mannatech was still using photographs of the boy in promotional materials on its website in March 2004, “with the clear inference that [the boy] was alive and doing well some seven years after his actual death.
.. Williams adds that Carson won’t personally be answering any questions about his interactions with the company, “because that is the decision that has been made.”
.. In 2007, three years after Carson’s first dealings with Mannatech, Texas attorney general Greg Abbott sued the company and Caster
.. offered testimonials from individuals claiming that they’d used Mannatech products to overcome serious diseases and ailments, including autism, non-Hodgkins lymphoma, and life-threatening heart conditions.
.. sold a CD entitled “Back from the Brink” that “provided example after example of how ‘glyconutrients’ (i.e., Mannatech’s products) cured, treated, or mitigated diseases including but not limited to
- toxic shock syndrome,
- heart failure,
- Lou Gehrig’s Disease,
- Attention Deficit Disorder, and
- lung inflammation.”
.. the company had used careful wording in a scheme to avoid liability, instructing their sales force “not to refer to Mannatech’s products by name when making certain claims, but instead [to] refer to them generically as ‘glyconutrients,’” before “direct[ing] the customer to the ‘only company that makes these patented glyconutrients’ — Mannatech.”
.. A 20/20 investigative report from the same year revealed a similar pattern, finding that Mannatech sales associates were hawking the company’s signature drug, Ambrotose, which “costs at least $200 a month,” as “a miracle cure that could fix a broad range of diseases, from cancer to multiple sclerosis and AIDS.”
.. “It’s rare for us to see a dietary-supplement manufacturer claim a particular product cures cancer, autism, or any number of retractable or incurable diseases.
.. In 2009, the state of Texas reached an agreement resolving the lawsuit against Mannatech, Inc., and Caster; under the settlement, Mannatech paid $4 million in restitution to Texas customers while admitting no wrongdoing
.. Yet Carson’s interactions with the company continued until at least March 2014, almost five years after the suit was settled, and a decade after the company’s marketing practices had first begun to come into question.
.. When asked for comment, Mannatech initially issued a statement declaring, “Dr. Carson is not a spokesperson or endorser of Mannatech.” But the company’s website touts Carson in connection with its products, and its homepage features a short video of Carson, promoting the special: “On March 11, Dr. Ben Carson, world-renowned pediatric neurosurgeon, as well as humanitarian and best-selling author, conducted an informational presentation on PBS regarding brain health and referencing glyconutrients.
.. In a video on the company’s site, Ray Robbins, a co-founder of the company, says in a speech previewing the PBS special, “I wrote him a thank-you letter yesterday, saying, ‘Dr. Carson, it’s happening. This is being aired. I just can’t begin to tell you how much I appreciate the fact you recognize who and what we are, what glyconutritionals are, and you chose to get up on a soapbox with us.’ And he did such an extraordinary job, you are going to love this show.”
.. when pressed, the company issued a short statement implying that Carson remained loyal to its products: “We appreciate his support and value his positive feedback as a satisfied customer.”
Here’s some of what Cohen said Tuesday:
In a private transaction in 2016, I used my own personal funds to facilitate a payment of $130,000 to Ms. Stephanie Clifford [Daniels’s real name]. Neither the Trump Organization nor the Trump campaign was a party to the transaction with Ms. Clifford, and neither reimbursed me for the payment, either directly or indirectly. The payment to Ms. Clifford was lawful and was not a campaign contribution or a campaign expenditure by anyone.
You might notice there is one main Trump-related entity that Cohen doesn’t deny was “party to the transaction” or reimbursed Cohen, and that’s Trump.
It’s also noteworthy that Cohen uses the word “facilitate” — a word that seems to leave open to the possibility that the chain doesn’t end at the use of “my own personal funds.”
It’s difficult to dismiss either as a coincidence, given Cohen is a lawyer and has carefully parsed his comments throughout this situation. He has regularly offered what seemed to be denials but didn’t totally deny the details of what the Journal had reported.
.. Cohen offered a denial that didn’t directly address whether he had made the payment; instead, he focused on whether the affair happened. “This is now the second time that you are raising outlandish allegations against my client,” he told the Journal. “You have attempted to perpetuate this false narrative for over a year; a narrative that has been consistently denied by all parties since at least 2011.”
.. that sounds a lot like a denial, but he’s denying something very specific — and turns out it wasn’t the payment.
.. he suggests that he was merely combating the rumors of an affair: “Just because something isn’t true doesn’t mean that it can’t cause you harm or damage. I will always protect Mr. Trump.”
.. Cohen again offered a non-denial denial. “You’re [sic] obsessive drive to prove a false narrative, one that has been rebuked by all parties, must come to an end,” Cohen wrote.
But the lion’s share of that “narrative” has now been confirmed by Cohen himself.
.. suggesting that he wasn’t serving as a conduit
.. The big question is whether Cohen served as a conduit for anyone else — especially Trump.
.. Cohen emphasizes that he used his own personal funds to “facilitate” the payment, but he doesn’t directly say that he wasn’t reimbursed by anyone. Indeed, the word “facilitate” means to make something easy or less difficult, which could be read to describe serving as a middle man for such payments.
.. then says he doesn’t “plan to provide any further comment” — is tough to dismiss as a coincidence.
.. Almost as tough as it is to believe that Cohen would make such a payment without Trump having any knowledge of the situation.
Moore denies everything — but without specifically denying much of anything. In one interview, he said that while in his 30s he did not “generally” date teenage girls. He added that he cannot “remember dating any girl without the permission of her mother.” How weaselly does all of this sound?
.. Having Moore in the Senate would probably mean more grief for Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) than losing the seat to Moore’s Democratic opponent, Doug Jones.
.. Moore pulled this off by positioning himself as the self-anointed voice of Christian grievance and resentment. “Populist” is too neutral a description. Moore is really a tribal leader, claiming that his followers are the only true Americans — while disqualifying his opponents as illegitimate.
.. The problem with tribalism is that it is absolute. In Rwanda in 1994, you were either identified as Tutsi or as Hutu; there was no in-between. For Moore, you are either among the good people or among the evil.
.. Moore’s philosophy is properly seen as Manichaean, not Christian; it has no room for universal love. The fact that most of his supporters, thus far, are sticking with him — enough to cow the state Republican Party into sticking with him, too — means he has convinced many Alabamians that child molestation is a lesser sin ..
.. Successful demagogues can use tribal enmities to blind their followers to such moral and logical contradictions. Some of Moore’s followers have told reporters they believe all the accusers are lying for partisan political reasons, which seems unlikely given what we know about the women’s politics; most describe themselves as conservative and several said they voted for President Trump.
Some Moore supporters charge that the women are seeking publicity, which is ridiculous; reporters sought the victims out and convinced them to tell their stories, and the women must have had some idea of the kind of vicious attacks that would follow.
.. Moore uses his angry Christianity as a tool of self-aggrandizement. He uses the trust and passion of the Alabamians he defrauds to sully the reputations of women who bravely testify to his allegedly vile and creepy behavior. He rages about filing lawsuits, but don’t hold your breath. Lawyers for potential defendants can’t wait to see what the discovery process might unearth.
.. He can be defeated — but only if Alabamians decide that honor, integrity and morality are more important than tribe