By ann summers
Neal Katyal’s op-ed in the NY Times spells it out clearly.
Trump has been so used to working without accountability as a private citizen especially with respect to covering up his numerous dalliances, that he conspired to commit a crime against the public trust.
Notwithstanding he’s changed his stories numerous times, hoping to obscure his conspiring with Cohen to thwart election laws. As Katyal points out, complaining about flipping is proportionally connected to conspiring. And Trump has not been shy about attempting to disguise his conspiratorial intentions.
Now President Trump has moved on to a new defense, claiming that what he did wasn’t a crime and so it can’t be prosecuted. That argument has no basis, either, and is inconsistent with centuries of Anglo-American law.
Here’s the new Trump argument, stripped down to its essence: It was clear that he would reimburse Mr. Cohen for those payments to the women, and he’s allowed under Supreme Court precedent to give his campaign as much of his own money as he wants to.
The problem is that legally, his argument doesn’t get him where he wants to go. Even though Mr. Trump can give his campaign as much of his own money as he wants to, he can’t ask other people to front the money for him and promise to pay them back later without reporting the arrangement in a timely fashion to the Federal Election Commission. But he didn’t report it, subverting the whole point of the nation’s post-Watergate campaign finance laws, which is to disclose campaign giving and spending to the American people before an election — not 20 months later.
We are approaching a reckoning, where criminal and perhaps impeachment processes will begin asking hard questions. It would be a huge mistake for the president to rely on assurances from his legal team that what he did was ordinary and not prosecutable.
Interesting thread discussing another defection with the immunity given to David Pecker of AMI:
1/ David Pecker, chairman of the company that publishes the National Enquirer, has reportedly backed up Michael Cohen’s claim that Trump knew about the payments at the core of the campaign finance crimes Cohen pleaded guilty to.2/ The fact that Pecker received immunity means that his testimony was of significant value to federal prosecutors. They would not have given him immunity unless it was worth doing. They would have known in advance the information he was going to provide via his attorney.3/ Presumably Pecker’s testimony was useful in the prosecution of Michael Cohen. What we don’t know is whether Pecker’s testimony also helped prosecutors make a case against anyone else, such as Trump Organization Chief Financial officer Allen Weisselberg.4/ Any witness who corroborates Cohen is important, given that Cohen has directly implicated Trump in a crime. For that reason alone, Pecker matters as a witness who corroborates Cohen’s account that Trump knew about the payments in advance. (Trump disputed this on Fox today.)5/ It’s worth noting that the tape of Trump and Cohen released weeks ago also corroborates Cohen’s account of Trump’s knowledge, but presumably Pecker’s testimony is more comprehensive.6/ So what we don’t know is the other testimony Pecker was able to provide. Did he tell prosecutors about other crimes committed by Weisselberg or other Trump associates? What is his other knowledge of Trump’s business dealings? There isn’t enough public information to know. /end
“It’s called flipping, and it almost ought to be illegal,” Mr. Trump said of Mr. Cohen’s deal with the government. And the campaign finance crimes Mr. Cohen pleaded guilty to are “tiny ones,” or “not even crimes,” according to Mr. Trump. (NY Times)
Trump continues his retreat to the bunker, or is it a social club. He further incriminated himself in this morning’s Fox News interview, confirming that he was a co-conspirator with Michael Cohen. Now there’s more whining about people who “flip”.
He’s desperately trying to tell us he’s a kafaybe criminal, a cartoon where “truth isn’t the truth”, while pulling out more extreme diversions, like a fictive “white genocide”. So like a cartoon, he’ll come back to life after getting stuck on the head with a folding chair, holding a sign that says, “Ain’t I a stinker?”.
He’s been reportedly been fuming at Cohen, calling him a “rat”, and he has tweeted a reference to a John Dean -type “rat” because of Don McGahn’s conversations with Mueller.
WASHINGTON — President Trump said he was not surprised that his onetime lawyer and fixer cooperated with prosecutors in exchange for a lesser punishment — “It’s called ‘flipping,’ and it almost ought to be illegal,” he said.
“I know all about flipping. For 30, 40 years I have been watching flippers,” Mr. Trump said on Wednesday during an interview with “Fox & Friends” that aired on Thursday.
Then Mr. Trump referred to Mr. Cohen’s case. “But if you can say something bad about Donald Trump and you will go down to two years or three years, which is the deal he made, in all fairness to him, most people are going to do that. And I have seen it many times. I have had many friends involved in this stuff.”
The president’s professed experience with “flippers” illustrates his views on law and loyalty and helps to explain his opposing reactions to two men who are guilty of defrauding the federal government.
“Plea bargaining is a defining, if not the defining, feature of the federal criminal justice system,” a 2011 Justice Department report on the subject said.
Trump has himself flipped on some mobsters, including when Mueller was a prosecutor, so he does “know all about flippers”. Tweets are the hidden folding chair of his WWE rhetoric, so threatening the disloyal has rodents in its lexicon.
As he admitted to Fox News, he’s thinking of a pardon for Manafort, or at least wants to signal that possibility (presumably in exchange for silence), which may actually prove to make matters worse for Lord Dampnut.
I have not seen Sammy “the Bull” Gravano in a very long time—he has spent most of the past two decades in prison, after having failed to hide his drug-distribution business from his federal monitors—but my thoughts turned to him yesterday, when I read President Donald Trump’s tweet on the subject of loyalty and respect.
The president, who is obviously perturbed by the felony conviction of his former campaign chair Paul Manafort and the plea deal taken by his former attorney Michael Cohen, wrote the following:
What we see in this astonishing tweet is an implicit endorsement by the president of the United States of omertà, the Mafia code of silence, which has been honored, especially over the past 30 years or so, more in theory than in practice.
And then there’s Pecker rolling…
The latest news is that National Enquirer chief David Pecker also “flipped” and agreed to cooperate in the Cohen/Trump case. This was pretty clear in the Cohen Information document, though it was not stated explicitly. For what it’s worth, this seems like the least surprising thing in the world.
If you read the Cohen Information, which is essentially the charging document, it makes clear that the Trump/Enquirer arrangement wasn’t just a friend keeping an eye out for his friend – the way the relationship and modus operandi had been portrayed in the media. It was a very specific arrangement: The Enquirer would troll for Trump-damaging stories, which there were obviously going to be a lot of, buy them and then sell them to Trump. The last part is key; and we didn’t know that until Tuesday. This wasn’t just being a pal. It was a specific, standing financial arrangement. The Enquirer would essentially act as a cut-out, buying stories on Trump’s behalf without the seller of the story knowing what was happening.
In a worthy sequel to the memorable line from Rudy Giuliani that “truth isn’t truth,” we learned yesterday from President Trump and his supporters that a crime is not a crime.
“It’s a bit baffling,” writes the Washington Post, “that Trump would assert that criminal charges accepted by Cohen aren’t a crime.” Yet it’s not baffling at all. It’s simply the continuation of the fictions of an authoritarian leader. Why do people buy into such fictions? “Totalitarian propaganda,” we learned from Hannah Arendt, “thrives on this escape from reality into fiction.
What if the democrats do the same thing? Wait, that’s different.