Monday, August 27, 2018

Slow Saturday Special: Pop Goes the Weisselberg

And with it, the Trump presidency:

"Trump executive granted immunity in Cohen inquiry" by Carol D. Leonnig and Devlin Barrett Washington Post  August 25, 2018

WASHINGTON — Allen Weisselberg, chief financial officer for the Trump Organization, has been granted immunity by federal investigators in New York in exchange for testimony about his role in the payment of hush money to a porn actress, according to people familiar with the discussions.

Weisselberg was one of the executives who helped arrange $420,000 in payments to President Trump’s longtime attorney Michael Cohen to help reimburse him for money he paid to Stormy Daniels, prosecutors have said.

Weisselberg, who got his start working for the president’s father, is the person identified in court filings as ‘‘Executive-1,’’ who prosecutors said helped authorize $420,000 in payments to Cohen, one person said. He testified last month before a grand jury investigating Cohen.

In addition to being the longtime chief financial officer of the Trump Organization, Weisselberg is also one of two trustees of the trust that controls the president’s assets.

It is unclear whether investigators in New York have sought to get information from Weisselberg beyond his knowledge of Cohen’s reimbursements.

Prosecutors have also granted immunity to David Pecker, a longtime Trump ally and chief executive of a tabloid publishing company, to describe his company’s role in suppressing stories about the alleged affairs, according to a person with knowledge of the inquiry.

The Wall Street Journal first reported Weisselberg’s immunity deal.

Weisselberg, working with another Trump Organization executive, helped arrange payments to Cohen that totaled $420,000.

Well, who would that be?

A person familiar with the Trump Organization said Cohen explained the $130,000 expense as a settlement ‘‘of a personal nature.’’

Weisselberg did not know what $130,000 was for, according to one person familiar with the situation, and approved it because of Cohen’s longstanding role as counsel to Donald Trump.

In February 2017, Cohen sent ‘‘Executive-1’’ an invoice seeking two monthly payments of $35,000 ‘‘pursuant to [a] retainer agreement,’’ according to court documents.

Weisselberg forwarded Cohen’s invoice to another unidentified Trump Organization executive, ‘‘and it was approved,’’ prosecutors wrote.

Weisselberg then forwarded that e-mail to another employee, writing: ‘‘Please pay from the Trust. Post to legal expenses. Put ‘retainer for the months of January and February 2017’ in the description,’’ according to court filings.

I am wondering what this has to do with Russian collusion in 2016 while noting none of this should be impeachable offenses.

In fact, prosecutors said, Cohen had no retainer agreement with the Trump Organization at the time, and the invoices were not in connection with any legal services he provided in 2017.

Weisselberg got his start in the family business by working as an accountant for Trump’s father and real estate magnate Fred Trump in the 1970s. He served as treasurer of the Donald J. Trump Foundation and has long handled the Trump family personal expenses.

He knows the $ecrets.

A person close to the Trump family who requested anonymity to describe private discussions said Weisselberg is viewed with the highest respect by family, calling him ‘‘truly a class act.’’

The low-profile executive was thrust into the headlines last month, when Cohen attorney Lanny Davis released a secret recording Cohen made of a September 2016 conversation with then-candidate Trump.

In the recording, Cohen can be heard discussing the need for Trump to purchase the rights to Playboy centerfold Karen McDougal’s story of an affair with Trump. In their conversation, Cohen told Trump that he had discussed buying the rights to McDougal’s story with Weisselberg.

After the disclosure of the recording, Alan Futerfas, an attorney for the Trump Organization, disputed the idea that Weisselberg had signed off on Cohen’s plan.

‘‘Mr. Weisselberg is a bookkeeper who simply carries out directions from others about monetary payments and transfers,’’ he said, but federal prosecutors in New York quickly subpoenaed Weisselberg to appear before a grand jury.

It is not uncommon for prosecutors to offer immunity to a person who may have wittingly or unwittingly facilitated a crime if investigators decide that person is more of a witness than a perpetrator, or if prosecutors decide they cannot get necessary testimony without offering some degree of immunity.

For example, when Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort went on trial earlier this month, prosecutors granted immunity to several people who worked on his taxes and finances.

Take a look, warts and all.

In a separate development, the New York attorney general is moving to open a state criminal tax investigation into Cohen.

Attorney General Barbara Underwood has asked the state’s Department of Taxation and Finance to make a referral on Cohen, an administrative step that would allow her office to investigate him for possible violations of state tax law, according to a person familiar with the state inquiry.

What happened to Schneiderman?

What's troubling is who blew the whistle on him.

A spokeswoman for the attorney general declined to comment. Guy Petrillo, an attorney for Cohen, did not respond to a request for comment.

Underwood’s request was first reported by The New York Times.

Separately, the New York state taxation agency has also issued a subpoena to Cohen, asking for information related to another state investigation — this one into the Donald J. Trump Foundation. Cohen has indicated he may cooperate with that inquiry.

Cohen is asking the public for help paying for his legal defense, and one anonymous donor already has put up $50,000, the Associated Press reported.


"Cohen’s GoFundMe page, dubbed the ‘‘Michael Cohen Truth Fund’’ has raised close to $160,000 from about 3,000 donations. One anonymous donor gave $50,000. The president’s legal quandary in New York continues to deepen after federal prosecutors there granted immunity last week to Allen Weisselberg, chief financial officer for the Trump Organization, and David Pecker, a longtime Trump ally who is the executive of the National Enquirer magazine’s parent company....."

Through his lawyer, Cohen said collecting contributions through a GoFundMe page set up after his guilty plea this week is the only way to ensure the truth comes out about the president.


Also seeN.Y. attorney general alleges ‘persistently illegal’ conduct at Trump Foundation

Related: Back Down to Earth

"Michael Cohen says hush money paid ‘at the direction of a candidate’" by William K. Rashbaum, Maggie Haberman and Ben Protess New York Times  August 21, 2018

NEW YORK — Michael Cohen, President Trump’s former lawyer, made the extraordinary admission in court Tuesday that Trump had directed him to arrange payments to two women during the 2016 campaign to keep them from speaking publicly about affairs they said they had with Trump.

Cohen acknowledged the illegal payments while pleading guilty to breaking campaign finance laws and other charges. He told a judge in US District Court in Manhattan that the payments to the women were “at the direction of the candidate” and “for the principal purpose of influencing the election” for president in 2016.

That's usually nothing more than a fine.

Cohen also pleaded guilty to multiple counts of tax evasion and bank fraud, bringing to a close a monthslong investigation by federal prosecutors who examined his personal business dealings and his role in helping to arrange financial deals with women connected to Trump.

The plea came shortly before another blow to the president: His former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, was convicted in his financial fraud trial in Virginia. Special Counsel Robert Mueller III had built a case that Manafort hid millions of dollars in foreign accounts to evade taxes and lied to banks to obtain $20 million in loans.

In federal court in Manhattan, Cohen made the admission about Trump’s role in the payments to the women as he pleaded guilty to two campaign finance crimes.

One of those charges stemmed from a $130,000 payment he made to an adult film actress, Stephanie Clifford, better known as Stormy Daniels, in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election. The other concerned a complicated arrangement in which a tabloid bought the rights to the story about a former Playboy model, Karen McDougal, then killed it.

The guilty plea and Cohen’s statements in court represent a pivotal moment in the investigation into the president’s campaign: a once-loyal aide admitting that he made payments at the behest of Trump to shield him from politically damaging disclosures.

Trump’s lawyers have, for months, said privately that they considered Cohen’s case to be potentially more problematic for the president than the investigation by Mueller.

Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, issued a statement after Cohen’s plea. “There is no allegation of any wrongdoing against the president in the government’s charges against Mr. Cohen,” Giuliani said. “It is clear that, as the prosecutor noted, Mr. Cohen’s actions reflect a pattern of lies and dishonesty over a significant period of time.”

Cohen had been the president’s longtime fixer, handling his most sensitive matters. He once said he would take a bullet for Trump.

The plea agreement does not call for Cohen to cooperate with federal prosecutors in Manhattan. Still, it does not preclude him from providing information later to them or the special counsel, who is examining the Trump campaign’s possible involvement in Russia’s interference in the 2016 campaign.

Cohen faces a recommended prison sentence of 46 to 63 months, according to court filings. If he were to substantially assist the special counsel’s investigation, Mueller could recommend a reduction in his sentence.

So if he sings the song Mueller wants he gets a reduced sentence, huh?

Then he has no credibility.

The charges against Cohen were not a surprise, but he had signaled recently he might be willing to cooperate with investigators who for months have been conducting an extensive investigation of his personal business dealings.

His guilty plea comes a month after he gave an interview to George Stephanopoulos on ABC News and said he would put “his family and country first” if prosecutors offered him leniency in exchange for incriminating information on Trump.

Part of the deal was not charging his wife with crimes, meaning the feds were basically threatening his family to get him to cooperate. SOP.

In July, in what appeared to another public break with Trump, one of Cohen’s lawyers, Lanny Davis, released a secret audio recording that Cohen had made of the president in which it seems that Trump admits knowledge of a payment made to McDougal, the model.

So what? It's not an impeachable offense.

As part of their investigation, prosecutors had been looking into whether Cohen violated any campaign finance laws by making the $130,000 payment to Clifford in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

Cohen’s plea culminates a long-running inquiry that became publicly known in April when FBI agents armed with search warrants raided his office, apartment, and hotel room, hauling away reams of documents, including pieces of paper salvaged from a shredder, and millions of electronic files.

Lawyers for Cohen and Trump spent the next four months working with a court-appointed special master to review the documents and data files to determine whether any of the materials were subject to attorney-client privilege.

The special master, Barbara Jones, who completed her review last week, issued a series of reports in recent months, finding that only a small fraction of the materials were privileged and the rest could be provided to prosecutors.

On Monday, the judge overseeing the review, Kimba Wood of US District Court in Manhattan, issued an order adopting Jones’s findings. It was unclear Tuesday what role the materials that Jones reviewed may have had in the charges against Cohen.

Kimba Wood is a Clinton appointee.

One collateral effect of Cohen’s plea agreement is that it may allow Michael Avenatti, Clifford’s lawyer, to proceed with a deposition of Trump in a lawsuit that Clifford filed accusing the president of breaking a nondisclosure agreement concerning their affair.

The lawsuit had been stayed by a judge pending the resolution of Cohen’s criminal case. Avenatti wrote on Twitter he would now seek to force Trump to testify “under oath about what he knew, when he knew it and what he did about it.”

Isn't he leading the Democratic field for president in 2020?

Cohen pleaded guilty to eight separate charges, detailed in a document called a criminal information: five counts of tax evasion for his personal income tax returns from 2012 to 2016, one count of bank fraud, and the campaign finance violations.

The bank fraud charge stems from a series of loans Cohen obtained or sought to obtain between 2010 and 2015.

Cohen pleaded guilty to making false statements to a bank about his net worth and failing to disclose several loans, some of which were collateralized by taxi medallions.

One element of the charge relates to a series of loans for more than $20 million made by two financial institutions, Sterling National Bank, and the Melrose Credit Union, in 2014.

Publicly filed financing statements showed that the 2014 loans were secured by 32 taxi medallions owned by Cohen and his family. The medallions were then valued at more than $1 million each and generated a total of more than $1 million a year in income.

Sixteen separate companies controlled by Cohen and his family received the loans. Each company owned two taxi medallions. Cohen and his wife also personally guaranteed the loans, according to the filings.

There is no indication that either financial institution suffered a loss as a result of the loans or that Cohen missed payments, which are ordinarily important aspects in a bank fraud case. While bank fraud without a loss is rarely charged on its own, it is sometimes charged in conjunction with other crimes, as it was in Cohen’s case.

Meaning he plead guilty to something that wasn't even a crime!!


"Paul Manafort guilty on 8 counts in fraud trial; mistrial on 10" by Sharon LaFraniere New York Times  August 21, 2018

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Paul Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign chairman, was convicted on eight counts Tuesday in his financial fraud trial, a dramatic end to a politically charged case that riveted the capital.

The verdict was a victory for the special counsel, Robert Mueller, whose prosecutors introduced extensive evidence that Manafort hid millions of dollars in foreign accounts to evade taxes and lied to banks repeatedly to obtain millions of dollars in loans.

Is it really?

Manafort was convicted of five counts of tax fraud, two counts of bank fraud, and one count of failure to disclose a foreign bank account. The jury was unable to reach a verdict on the remaining 10 counts, and the judge declared a mistrial on those charges.

Kevin Downing, a lawyer for Manafort, said his client was “evaluating all of his options at this point.”

Jason Maloni, Manafort’s spokesman, said, “We expect to appeal.” Peter Carr, a spokesman for Mueller’s office, declined to comment.

The verdict was read in US District Court in Alexandria, only minutes after Michael Cohen, Trump’s former fixer, pleaded guilty in federal court in Manhattan to violating campaign finance law and other charges.

Manafort’s trial did not touch directly on Mueller’s inquiry into Russian interference in the 2016 election or on whether Trump has sought to obstruct the investigation, but it was the first test of his ability to prosecute a case in a federal courtroom amid intense criticism from the president and his allies that the inquiry is a biased and unjustified witch hunt. And the outcome had substantial political implications, if only in denying Trump more ammunition for his campaign to discredit Mueller.

Before and during the trial, Trump sought both to defend Manafort as a victim of prosecutorial overreach and to distance himself from him, saying that Manafort had worked for him only relatively briefly.

After the verdict was announced, Trump said he felt “very badly” for Manafort and continued to maintain that the prosecution had been politically motivated.

“It doesn’t involve me,” Trump told reporters after landing in West Virginia for a rally Tuesday evening. “It had nothing to do with Russian collusion.”

The trial focused on Manafort’s personal finances, in particular the tens of millions of dollars he made advising a political party in Ukraine that backed pro-Russia policies.....


Both articles were front page above fold.


"Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort still has another trial looming in federal court in Washington, where prosecutors have a whole new set of charges. Manafort is scheduled to go on trial in September in the District of Columbia court on charges including conspiracy to defraud the United States, failing to register as a foreign agent, money laundering, witness tampering, and making false statements....."

They will be asking him some pretty graphic questions so the testimony will be behind closed doors.

The New York Times says the guilty findings put President Trump back on his heels, while the  WaComPo has the Balz to say that after two convictions, Trump is in treacherous waters (news flash, WaComPo, it was only one conviction. The other guy plead guilty).

Well, that settles that. The aggressive campaigning isn't going to help. They have lost a seat in California down the rabbit hole and everyone is taking aim at him. Not even the Russians (or Iranians) can save him. 

Maybe it was the hair, huh?

Trump praises Manafort and criticizes Cohen

That replaced the printed paper's front page story that I got and there can be no more delay. You need to get your head out of your ass and stand your ground.

Now look where pre$$ is going for credible source material:

"National Enquirer’s safe held damaging Trump stories" by Jeff Horwitz Associated Press  August 23, 2018

NEW YORK — The National Enquirer kept a safe containing documents on hush money payments and other damaging stories it killed as part of its cozy relationship with Donald Trump leading up to the 2016 presidential election, people familiar with the arrangement told The Associated Press.

The detail came as several media outlets reported on Thursday that federal prosecutors had granted immunity to National Enquirer chief David Pecker, potentially laying bare his efforts to protect his longtime friend Trump.

Well, I will give the Enquirer credit for outing John Edwards' love child while the ma$$ media was poo-pooing the story.

Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty this week to campaign finance violations alleging he, Trump and the tabloid were involved in buying the silence of a porn actress and a Playboy model who alleged affairs with Trump.

Several people familiar with the National Enquirer’s parent company, American Media Inc., who spoke to the AP on the condition of anonymity because they signed non-disclosure agreements, said the safe was a great source of power for Pecker, the company’s CEO.

The Trump records were stored alongside similar documents pertaining to other celebrities’ catch-and-kill deals, in which exclusive rights to people’s stories were bought with no intention of publishing to keep them out of the news. By keeping celebrities’ embarrassing secrets, the company was able to ingratiate itself with them and ask for favors in return.

Kind of like the way the pre$$ and ma$$ media treat the nest of corruption and politicization over at the DoJ under Obummer.

But after The Wall Street Journal initially published the first details of Playboy model Karen McDougal’s catch-and-kill deal shortly before the 2016 election, those assets became a liability. Fearful that the documents might be used against American Media, Pecker and the company’s chief content officer, Dylan Howard, removed them from the safe in the weeks before Trump’s inauguration, according to one person directly familiar with the events.

The AP cannot say whether the documents were destroyed or simply were moved to a location known to fewer people.



American Media did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Pecker’s immunity deal was first reported Thursday by Vanity Fair and The Wall Street Journal, citing anonymous sources. Vanity Fair reported that Howard also was granted immunity.

Court papers in the Cohen case say Pecker ‘‘offered to help deal with negative stories about (Trump’s) relationships with women by, among other things, assisting the campaign in identifying such stories so they could be purchased and their publication avoided.’’

The Journal reported Pecker shared with prosecutors details about payments that Cohen says Trump directed in the weeks and months before the election to buy the silence of McDougal and another woman alleging an affair, porn star Stormy Daniels. Daniels was paid $130,000, and McDougal was paid $150,000.

While Trump denies the affairs, his account of his knowledge of the payments has shifted. In April, Trump denied he knew anything about the Daniels payment. He told Fox News in an interview aired Thursday that he knew about payments ‘‘later on.’’

In July, Cohen released an audio tape in which he and Trump discussed plans to buy McDougal’s story from the Enquirer. Such a purchase was necessary, they suggested, to prevent Trump from having to permanently rely on a tight relationship with the tabloid.

‘‘You never know where that company — you never know what he’s gonna be —’’ Cohen says.

‘‘David gets hit by a truck,’’ Trump says.

‘‘Correct,’’ Cohen replies. ‘‘So, I’m all over that.’’

While Pecker is cooperating with federal prosecutors now, American Media previously declined to participate in congressional inquiries. 

So much for the much ballyhooed freedom of the pre$$.

Last March, in response to a letter from a group of House Democrats about the Daniels and McDougal payments, American Media general counsel Cameron Stracher declined to provide any documents, writing that the company was ‘‘exempt’’ from U.S. campaign finance laws because it is a news publisher and it was ‘‘confident’’ it had complied with all tax laws. He also rebuffed any suggestion that America Media Inc., or AMI, had leverage over the president because of its catch-and-kill practices. 

Catch and kill, like a Special Forces unit battling terrorists.

‘‘AMI states unequivocally that any suggestion that it would seek to ‘extort’ the President of the United States through the exercise of its editorial discretion is outrageous, offensive, and wholly without merit,’’ Stracher wrote in a letter obtained by The Associated Press.

Former Enquirer employees who spoke to the AP said that negative stories about Trump were dead on arrival dating back more than a decade when he starred on NBC’s reality show ‘‘The Apprentice.’’

In 2010, at Cohen’s urging, the National Enquirer began promoting a potential Trump presidential candidacy, referring readers to a pro-Trump website Cohen helped create. With Cohen’s involvement, the publication began questioning President Barack Obama’s birthplace and American citizenship in print, an effort that Trump promoted for several years, former staffers said.

Actually, it was the Clintons that first leaked that in 2008.

Of course, it's no surprise the pre$$ would omit that.

The Enquirer endorsed Trump for president in 2016, the first time it had ever officially backed a candidate. In the news pages, Trump’s coverage was so favorable that the New Yorker magazine said the Enquirer embraced him ‘‘with sycophantic fervor.’’

Just balancing out the other 90% of the ma$$ media!

Positive headlines for Trump, a Republican, were matched by negative stories about his opponents, including Hillary Clinton, a Democrat: An Enquirer front page from 2015 said ‘‘Hillary: 6 Months to Live’’ and accompanied the headline with a picture of an unsmiling Clinton with bags under her eyes.

Yeah, right, the Enquirer cost her the election, not her raggedy-ass campaign, the Clinton corruption, or that lecherous spouse of hers.


WTF does any of this have to do with impeachable crimes or alleged Russian meddling or the 2016 election?

(Sound of fart)

Oh, pardon me!

"Trump sought his lawyers’ advice weeks ago on possibility of pardoning Manafort" by Carol D. Leonnig Washington Post  August 23, 2018

WASHINGTON— President Trump asked his lawyers several weeks ago for their advice on the possibility of pardoning his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, his lawyer said Thursday.

The subject of pardoning Manafort came up while he was on trial for multiple counts of bank fraud and tax evasion and the president was expressing his anger at how federal prosecutors had ‘‘beat up’’ and mistreated Manafort, Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani said in an interview.

Trump’s lawyers counseled the president against the idea, saying Trump should at least wait until Special Counsel Robert Mueller has concluded his investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. Giuliani said the president agreed and did not push the issue further.

‘‘He said yes,’’ Giuliani said. ‘‘He agreed with us.’’

Meanwhile, a member of the jury that convicted Manafort on eight charges said he would have been convicted on all 18 charges of financial fraud but for one holdout juror, who forced a mistrial on 10 counts.

Paula Duncan, who described herself as a strong supporter of Trump, said on Fox News that 10 members of the jury were solidly convinced of his guilt on the other 10 counts as well. An 11th juror wavered at points but was ultimately won over after the other jurors pointed out what Duncan called an extensive paper trail.

“But the one holdout would not,” Duncan said in an interview on “Fox News at Night with Shannon Bream.” “We laid it out in front of her again and again and she still said she had a reasonable doubt.”

Duncan said that even though she believed prosecutors had targeted Manafort in hopes of gaining information against Trump, the evidence against him “was overwhelming.”

“I did not want Paul Manafort to be guilty,” Duncan said, “but he was.”

Reached by phone Thursday, Duncan said she had no further comment beyond the interview. Although the judge refused to release the names of the jurors, she told Fox News that she came forward because “the public, America, needed to know” how close the Alexandria, Va., jury came to convicting Manafort on all charges.

With strong supporters like that, Trump doesn't need any enemies.

Duncan’s views on the 16-day trial — the only account so far to come from the jury — could influence the strategies of the prosecution and defense as they prepare for Manafort’s trial on related charges next month in Washington, D.C.

Regarding a possible pardon for Manafort, Giuliani said Trump was simply seeking advice as he complained about Manafort’s criminal exposure on charges unrelated to his work on Trump’s campaign. Giuliani said he and fellow Trump attorney Jay Sekulow advised waiting to see whether Mueller delivers a damning report that accuses the president of trying to block a federal probe of his campaign’s contacts with Russians.

Mueller’s findings are supposed to be provided in a report to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.....

The real AG, not this pathetic weasel.


Flipping them is how you get the kingpin, and he will be impeached but not by her!

That's the reality of the winner, and he junk on her is that she is a loser, remember?

"Unable to shake collusion inquiry, Trump makes a game of it" by Julie Hirschfeld Davis New York Times   August 26, 2018

WASHINGTON — It was about halfway through President Trump’s speech to thousands of supporters last week in West Virginia.

“Where,” Trump demanded to know, “is the collusion?”

Spreading his arms in mock confusion, as if half expecting to find it hidden, like a particularly elusive Easter egg, somewhere near the lectern bearing the presidential seal, Trump issued the challenge again.

“Find some collusion!” the president bellowed, making the notion of uncovering a conspiracy with a foreign power to sway a presidential election sound more like a scavenger hunt — a kind of “Where’s Waldo?” for undermining American democracy.

Had his audience in that civic center in Charleston seen it? (A smattering of boos and thumbs jamming downward in response indicated that they had not.) Had anybody? What about Robert Mueller, the special counsel in charge of the investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 elections, and whether Trump’s campaign team sought to help?

The answer Trump was going for, of course, was no. With legal troubles mounting for some of his closest former associates and Mueller’s investigation still looming as an existential threat to his presidency, he has distilled the scandals surrounding him into a comic book-like drama, with a reality showman’s instinct for cliffhanger and competition.

That's what I'm purchasing off the newsstand each morning. That's what the AmeriKan pre$$ has become. A goddamn comic book.

The mantra of “no collusion” has emerged for Trump and his team as a shield and a talisman. It is the answer to every question, the nonresponsive parry to every thrust of a question about the president’s credibility and actions, the ultimate rejoinder to any hint of wrongdoing by Trump.

The president’s fondness for the phrase has inspired its share of ridicule. Stephen Colbert recently riffed on it on his late-night television show.

Oh, he made the list -- which kind of clues you in as to how he got the show!

I'll bet he isn't cracking jokes about that!

Collusion is defined as a “secret or illegal cooperation or conspiracy, especially in order to cheat or deceive others.”

The federal criminal code does not contain a crime called “collusion,” which may be one reason that Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, uttered the eyebrow-raising statement last month that “my client didn’t do it, and even if he did it, it’s not a crime.”

In Trump’s case, it refers to the specific allegation that members of his campaign worked with Russia to sway the 2016 election in his favor, but he has adopted it as a shorthand to encompass any allegation against him, making it into the sought-after object in his own kind of morality tale.

In it, there are villains: Mueller and his “17 angry Democrats,” as Trump is fond of calling the special counsel’s team, as well as Jeff Sessions, whom he casts as the weak-kneed attorney general who has allowed biased prosecutors to run amok with their “witch hunt.”

Michael Cohen, his longtime lawyer who pleaded guilty last week to campaign finance crimes and implicated Trump in the scheme, has also recently joined this team, as the president made clear in several tweets after his plea.

There are heroes, such as himself and the “brave” Paul Manafort, his former campaign chairman, who was convicted of multiple counts of fraud on the same day as Cohen’s bombshell.

Trump lavishly praised Manafort for refusing to “break” and cooperate with federal investigators.

And then there’s the Ultimate Prize — the collusion — that nobody seems to be able to lay their hands on, like so many children at a Passover Seder hunting for the afikomen, the hidden piece of matzo at the end of the meal that fetches its finder a reward of a dollar or so. Who can find the collusion, kids? 


The bloggers are right when they call it the Jew York Times.

Nobody yet, even as the buzzer of the midterm congressional elections draws closer.

On Tuesday in West Virginia, collusion hide-and-seek appeared to be little more than a way for the president to shrug off a series of damaging developments; Trump quickly moved on to other subjects, but his rhetorical questioning also revealed how Trump, a president facing the most serious of threats, has sought to minimize and trivialize what is happening in and around his White House, and in the process, to desensitize his supporters to grave charges.

Yeah, unlike war crimes that kill millions or the sanctioning of torture.


The Globe's editorial page had a book promotion as VP Pence plans ‘coup’ to capture Presidency.

Not even rallying around him will help, folks. Maybe picking fights with Brennan and the bankers wasn't the best thing to do

And think of this:

“In future years, we may look back at the good old days of President Trump,” when he was the LAST BEST HOPE for PEACE and the ONLY WAY to AVOID WORLD WAR III.

I mean, think about it: He wanted to get out of Afghanistan, he wanted out of Syria, wants out of Africa, he wants to talk to Russia, wants to talk to the North Koreans, even said he would meet with Rouhani without preconditions.

Oh, I can hear you out there saying what about the war machine, what about Israel?

The feeling here is it's all red meat for the war-mongers. 

I'm fine with him wasting money by throwing it at the war machine -- as long as he doesn't order its use. He thinks the money will get them to heel.

Same thing with the kowtowing to the Zionists of Israel. It costs him nothing to step on the Palestinians, and he probably figures he is buying Zionist protection regarding his removal from office. Moving the embassy to Jerusalem and allowing Israel to have its way until all Palestine is Israel doesn't cost him anything in his mind. 

What Trump and his ego want is the Nobel Prize that Obama got but didn't deserve. Trump sees himself as this grand dealmaker, and nothing would satisfy his narcissism more than if he were to deliver peace in our time. 

Thus, if Trump reacts to some false flag provocation or takes us to war against Iran, it will be because he has been pushed, maneuvered and forced to do so, a wag the dog attempt to save his presidency from the Mueller probe and to avoid removal.

Before then, I would just like to say thanks to President Trump for trying. I'm sure when you won election and thought you had a mandate from the heartland of this country, you didn't realize the depth of the entrenched forces arrayed against you and how they would try to block and subvert you at every turn. How they difficult they would make it to try and fix things. Thanks for putting up with it as long as you have. You have proved you are a man of the people, and that is not to be allowed.

(Cue music)