Trump’s Horrible Day

Ken AshfordL'Affaire Russe, Stormy Daniels & Karen McDougal Affairs, Trump & AdministrationLeave a Comment

Even the conservative news aggregation site Drudge Report, normally an influential and sympathetic voice toward the president, ran the headline: “Trump hell hour.”

NBC News anchor Chuck Todd called it perhaps “the most consequential day of the Trump presidency — yet.” 

What does the Cohen plea mean for Trump?

Well, the plea agreement with the prosecutors in Manhattan does not require him to cooperate with other pending investigations. But it also does not preclude him in telling what he knows about Mr. Trump to investigators working with the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, who is looking into potential ties between the Trump campaign and Russia.

And last night, Lanny Davis, Cohen’s lawyer, said that Cohen had info to share with Mueller relating to that investigation.  Of course, that could be a position to force a favorable ccooperation agreement.

Cohen’s agreement with the government contains a provision that could allow him to receive a significantly reduced sentence. If Cohen were to substantially assist the special counsel’s investigation, Mueller could recommend a reduction.

Looming over negotiations between prosecutors and Cohen has been the possibility of a presidential pardon.

But again, Lanny Davis said  his client would not accept a pardon from Trump if one were ever offered.

“Not only is he not hoping for it, he would not accept a pardon. He considers a pardon from somebody who has acted so corruptly as president to be something he would never expect,” Davis said in an interview on NBC’s TODAY.

As for Trump this morning, he anti-Cohen tweets were a little lame, I thought.

Praising Manafort, a convicted felon, for refusing to break?  Is this a president or a mob boss?

Trump in that top tweet is misleading. Obama’s campaign finance violations revolved around the introduction of online donations and the non-availability at the time of secure checking of the ID of donors. McCain and Romney also had issues.

That’s the right wing talking point it seems: Obama and others had campaign violations too.

The response: Obama’s campaign finance violations revolved around the introduction of online donations and the non-availability at the time of secure checking of the ID of donors. This caused a delay in the paperwork. McCain and Romney also had the same issues.

Cohen and Trump, on the other hand, INTENTIONALLY misled the Federal Election Commission by using campaign funds to hush McDougall and Daniels, and lying to the FEC on campaign spending reports. WILLFULLY making false statements to the FEC is a felony (18 USC 1001 and 1002). CONSPIRACY to defraud the US is a crime (18 USC 371). And a few more statutes.

There’s a reason that deliberate and knowing violations of campaign finance law are a criminal matter, punishable by arrest and imprisonment, while good-faith paperwork errors are handled civilly, with fines.

This also just happened:

President Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen appears to have deleted a 2015 tweet about Hillary Clinton going to prison. The tweet resurfaced Tuesday after Cohen reached a plea deal with federal prosecutors, pleading guilty to eight federal charges including bank and tax fraud and campaign finance violations.

“Hillary Clinton when you go to prison for defrauding America and perjury, your room and board will be free!” Cohen’s now-deleted tweet read. Comedian and frequent Trump critic Kathy Griffin, along with a number of other media figures and prominent Twitter users, retweeted Cohen’s old tweet to mock him after entering the guilty plea.

Fox News has really tried to avoid the story.  Fortunately for them, Trump had a rally last night in West Virginia, so they could carry that live.  Also, a girl was killed by an undocumented alien, so they had THAT to discuss too.

The right wing focus on Mollie Tibbets is more than just a distraction from the very horrible Trump news.  it’s intended to demonize undocumented aliens.  And it is not going down well with the Tibbetts family.  Here is Mollie’s second cousin on Twitter:

Anyway, what happened on Fox this morning?

Last night, Hannity opened his show dismissing Manafort and Cohen news: “It has nothing to do with Russia,” adding “More evidence Mueller stacking charges he couldn’t prove to scare Manafort, as Judge Ellis said, into singing or composing. And [Mueller] was never really ready for an actual trial.”

He also said: “There are lessons to learn from today. Don’t ever knowingly lie to the FBI. Do not lie on a bank loan application, or commit bank fraud. Pay your taxes. But did we need Robert Mueller for all of this?”

As for Cohen, Hannity said he’s known Cohen a long time and believes he was “forced by prosecutors” to change his story about payments to Karen MacDougal and Stormy Daniels.

Hanntiy wasn’t the only one playing defense on Fox.  Fox “legal analyst” Gregg Jarrett was enthusiastic about the premise that defrauding the FEC was common, claiming that paperwork errors resulting in a fine from a past Obama campaign was after all pretty much exactly the same as Donald Trump personally directing a hush money payment to an adult film actress in exchange for keeping silent about his creepy serial adultery habit. Since Jarrett said this on Fox & Friends, it naturally resulted in a Trump tweet parroting the same line.

Fellow Fox personality Geraldo Rivera, who has been silly for a very long time, has chosen to bemoan special prosecutors and their “independent army” of lawyers for digging up all sorts of criminal activity unrelated to the “original purpose” of their investigation. By gum, Michael Cohen’s crimes wouldn’t have come to light at all if it weren’t for those meddling investigators. How very unfair. Now that they’ve gone that far, “What would stop them from adding the tax returns of” Donald J. Trump?

Another lame talking point?  We were promised “collusion” — this isn’t it.

No, this isn’t Russia collusion.  It’s an entirely different crime that Trump committed.

With his lawyer, who also knows about Russian collusion.

And has tapes.

The situation gets worse for the president—because nobody, including him, has much idea when the next blow is coming or along which of these fronts. On any given day, we could see a subpoena for the president’s grand-jury testimony, which would provoke major litigation, assuming the president decided not to accede to it. At any point—perhaps today, perhaps a week from now, perhaps after the midterm elections—Mueller’s grand jury could issue its next indictments, likely involving people on this side of the Atlantic. And, of course, nobody knows how quickly, if at all, the Southern District might choose to move against other Trump-world figures who are mentioned in yesterday’s Cohen plea filings or what they might seek to do with Cohen’s allegations against Trump himself.

There’s one more reason why nobody will tell the mad king the hopeless truth that he’s surrounded, outmanned, outgunned, and that there’s no telling from where or when the next blow will come: the king is mad and doesn’t want to hear it. And his courtiers, seeking his favor, have either to convince themselves or play along with it. They do this both in talks with him privately and in their public utterances—to show loyalty, or because they are well paid to do so.

And thus we wait.

But Trump did give a Fox interview today. Mediate reports:

President Donald Trump denied that he knew about payments his former lawyer Michael Cohen made to women alleging affairs in an interview released Wednesday, claiming he only found out about the payments “later on.”

Fox & Friends host Ainsley Earhardt sat down for an exclusive interview with the president in the wake of Cohen pleading guilty to campaign-finance violations and other charges. Cohen implicated the president in the crimes, stating Trump directed him to payoff the women — porn star Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal — during the 2016 campaign.

In the interview, set to air in full Thursday morning, Earhardt asked Trump: “Did you know about the payments?”

“Later on I knew,” Trump replied. “Later on.”

Trump went on to claim that the money for the payments “did not come out of the campaign,” but came from him, so didn’t violate any campaign finance laws.

He better hope the Cohen tapes support him