Trump On A Twitter Tear This Morning

Ken AshfordImmigration and Xenophobia, L'Affaire Russe, Stormy Daniels & Karen McDougal Affairs, Trump & Administration, War on Terrorism/TortureLeave a Comment

He rants about the investigations, Cohen, the wall…. in a largely fact-free tirade.

This is creative accounting at best. I don’t know how much the US benefits from the NAFTA 2.0 Trade Agreement (i.e., the USMCA), but by most accounts, it’s not that different from the original NAFTA.  And anyway, the benefits go to manufacturers, farmers, etc. — not the US Treasury.  So the bill still goes to US taxpayers.


“Boy, this is a stretch,” said William Hoagland, a former Republican staff director of the Senate Budget Committee.

Hoagland said the only reasoning he could contemplate to back up Trump’s Twitter post Thursday is that if the U.S. economy grows because of the new trade deal, Trump could claim that the new tax revenue is a bonus and therefore is somehow related to Mexico.

But he said the same reasoning could be used to say that Canada is paying for the wall’s construction. Hoagland also said that none of this new money would actually come from Canada or Mexico. In addition, Hoagland said he could not see a scenario under which the USMCA would “save” taxpayer money, as Trump asserted in his Twitter post.

“At the end of the day, the American taxpayer is still paying for it,” he said. “Because where are the revenues coming from? They are not coming from Mexican taxpayers.”


Ok, let me break in and say that — given the lack of spelling errors (“counsel” is spelled correctly) — this series of tweets has lawyer-crafting all over it.

Secondly, it’s a questionable defense. He doesn’t have to direct Cohen to break the law — he only has to know that the law was being broken on his behalf.  And he knew.  There are tapes.  And I’m sure Cohen and the Trump accountant, Allen Weisselberg — both of whom are co-operating with prosecutors — have delivered the goods on this.  Aa well as David Pecker, CEO of American Media, who owns The National Enquirer.

Allen Weisselberg  is an interesting charactor in all this. He’s not been in the news and not many even know what he looks like. But he’s been rightly called “the highest person in the Trump Organization not named Trump” and “the guy who knows where all the bodies are buried.”  The fact that he has been cooperating is HUGE.

Anywy WaPO adds another wrinkle:

Lawrence Noble, former general counsel for the Federal Election Commission, made an important point to The Post in a phone call last week. That Cohen (with Trump’s knowledge) made the payment to McDougal indirectly and that he paid Daniels through a shell company reinforces the idea that it was understood that they were doing something untoward. The payments could have been made with campaign money — even money that Trump contributed — and reported as expenses without any law being broken. But that’s not how the payments were made, suggesting an awareness that it was important to keep the payments out of the public eye. Trump would likely argue that this was to keep the stories private, but Noble points out that it also indicates an awareness that the payments needed to be kept private.

Asked specifically about the “knowing and willful” stipulation, Noble noted that this was a lower bar than it might seem. For Trump (or anyone) to have committed a violation, they would only have needed to know in general terms that campaign spending was controlled and that spending needed to be reported, which he clearly did know. Being aware that these payments were happening meets that standard, in Noble’s estimation.

Of course this was campaign finance. He just decided on the eve of an election to pay off the women he had affairs with 10 or 15 years ago?

Also, it is tough to argue that Cohen was not guilty of the two campaign charges since Cohen himself UNDER OATH said he was guilty.

WaPO can carry the rest:

The hush-money payments were violations of the law because campaign spending is regulated. You can only accept money under certain conditions, you can only spend that money under specific conditions, and that spending needs to be reported. In this case, the payments to Karen McDougal (made on Trump’s behalf by American Media Inc., as the company admitted in an agreement with the government released on Wednesday) and Stormy Daniels (made by Cohen) were not made with legally collected money and not reported as campaign spending. In addition, the spending by AMI was itself illegal, since corporations can’t coordinate with campaigns on political spending. The two campaign finance charges to which Cohen pleaded guilty related to his payment to Daniels and his work with AMI to make the McDougal payment.

You’ve probably already spotted the linchpin of this argument: If the payments had nothing to do with the campaign — if Trump was just covering up affairs — there’s no violation because there’s no campaign spending. This is Trump’s central defense.

Unfortunately for Trump, there are several reasons to think that the campaign was, in fact, the impetus for the payments.

For example, they happened in August and October 2016, years after the relationships. Why pay them off then, if not because of the campaign?
More importantly, both Cohen and AMI have stated under penalty of perjury that the payments were meant to influence the election. AMI told the government that in August 2015 — a year before the McDougal payment — its chief executive, David Pecker, had met with Cohen and an unnamed campaign official to offer to help cover up any negative stories that might emerge. It then did so, paying McDougal $150,000 “to suppress the model’s story so as to prevent it from influencing the election,” as the agreement with the government reads. That, by itself, is illegal, but AMI won’t be charged under its agreement with the government.

AMI had expected to be reimbursed by Trump but ended up canceling that plan once its lawyers explained how that reimbursement would undermine any argument about the legality of its payment. But we know that Cohen and Trump planned to reimburse the company for the payment because we have a recording of the two discussing it. That recording, released in July, was part of a conversation that was entirely about the campaign.

This makes no sense. Why would you plead guilty to crimes that you are supposedly innocent of, in order to get a reduced prison sentence?

Next, Trump discusses his other legal problem — the Mueller investigation.

The FBI said he didn’t lie?  Where did this come from? We know that the sentencing judge for Flynn wanted to see the FD-302s — the summaries written by the agent interviewers.  How does Trump know what they said.

I also like how Trump refers to Flynn’s lies as “misstatements”.  Flynn didn’t characterize it that way.

And then finally, Trump adds…

Like a broken record.

UPDATE: Trump gave a candyass interview to Fox News today, reiterating much of the same thing. Needless to say, he wasn’t pressed on any points.

He did go to his go-to line aka “Person X was the coffee boy”: