COHEN TO COOPERATE WITH MUELLER, REVEALS TRUMPS’ BUSINESS TIES WITH RUSSIA. President Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen is expected to enter into a plea deal with special counsel Robert Mueller for making false statements to congressional investigators about his contacts with Russians during the 2016 campaign, ABC News reports.
Cohen’s earlier plea deal with federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York implicated President Trump in campaign finance felonies. Since then, Cohen has spent more than 70 hours in interviews with Mueller’s team.
New York Times: “At the court hearing, Mr. Cohen admitted to making false statements to Congress about his efforts to pursue a Trump Tower deal in Moscow during the 2016 presidential campaign. That real estate deal has been a focus of the special counsel investigation into whether the Trump campaign conspired with Russian operatives.”
CNN reports that Cohen said in court documents that discussions of Trump Tower Moscow project continued into June 2016 and that he briefed Trump and family members on the project multiple times.
Glenn Kirschner on Trump saying “When I’m running for President, that doesn’t mean I’m not allowed to do business": “That is an important and very damaging statement to the President…The President knows that Michael Cohen just told the truth about what the President was up to." pic.twitter.com/lhhYHBsYAz
— TPM Livewire (@TPMLiveWire) November 29, 2018
Michael Cohen’s plea deal with special counsel Robert Mueller indicates the the last known discussion about the Trump Tower Moscow deal was “on or about June 14,” 2016, when Cohen told a Russian associate, Felix Sater, that he was canceling plans to travel to Russia, the Washington Post reports.
“Why is that date significant? It happens to be the day The Washington Post broke a big story that Russia had hacked the Democratic National Committee.”
The important part of the Cohen news isn't what's in Mueller's filing, it's what isn't in it, namely, everything else Cohen has to tell about Trump: https://t.co/VQK0pGpMpT
— Paul Waldman (@paulwaldman1) November 29, 2018
TRUMP PLANNED TO GIVE PUTIN A $50M PENTHOUSE. “President Trump’s company planned to give a $50 million penthouse at Trump Tower Moscow to Russian President Vladimir Putin as the company negotiated the luxury real estate development during the 2016 campaign,” BuzzFeed News reports.
“The revelation that representatives of the Trump Organization planned to forge direct financial links with the leader of a hostile nation at the height of the campaign raises fresh questions about President Trump’s relationship with the Kremlin. The plan never went anywhere because the tower deal ultimately fizzled, and it is not clear whether Trump knew of the intention to give away the penthouse. But Cohen said in court documents that he regularly briefed Trump and his family on the Moscow negotiations.”
FBI RAIDS TRUMP’S TAX ATTORNEY’S OFFICE. “Federal agents showed up unannounced at the City Hall office of Finance Committee Chairman Ed Burke, kicked everyone out and papered over the windows Thursday morning,” the Chicago Sun Times reports. “The nature of their visit was not known, but Alderman Burke has dodged dozens of federal investigations over five decades in Chicago politics.” Burke once worked as a tax lawyer for Donald Trump. This may just be regular Chicago style corruption, or it may be related to Trump. The timing is interesting.
McConnell again said there's no way Trump will try to remove Mueller.
But Trump has *already tried* to fire him, not once, but twice.
By refusing to protect Mueller, Republicans are actively helping Trump preserve this option for himself.
My new piece:https://t.co/m0JUlsVQE7
— Greg Sargent (@ThePlumLineGS) November 29, 2018
President Trump was “spooked” and “completely distracted” on his flight to Argentina for the G20 summit, CNN reports. A source added that the President was “in a terrible mood” on the flight. Good. I hope he is in misery, the fucking traitor to America.
WHY THIS IS A BIG FUCKING DEAL. The Atlantic: “The plea includes evidence, for the first time, that could show how Trump was compromised by Russia while Russian President Vladimir Putin was waging a direct attack on the 2016 election. The formal agreement also incentivizes Cohen, the former executive vice president of the Trump Organization and Trump’s right-hand man for over a decade, to tell Mueller everything he knows—and sets Cohen up as a more credible witness should Mueller ask him to testify in the future. Significantly, the guilty plea was finalized after Trump submitted his written answers to Mueller, who reportedly asked Trump specifically about the Moscow deal.”
“Cohen, moreover, has indicated that he has no loyalty to the president and does not want or expect a presidential pardon. He has also not been sharing information with the president’s legal team throughout the course of his cooperation with Mueller, as Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort has been. Whereas Manafort has kept one foot in the door of Trumpworld, Cohen severed his ties to the president months ago.”
Lawfare: “President Trump could be forgiven if he feels like the walls are closing in on him.”
MANAFORT WAS LYING ABOUT HIS RUSSIAN/UKRAINIAN BUSINESS TIES. “Paul Manafort’s alleged misstatements to special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigators include comments about his personal business dealings and about his contacts with a former associate in Ukraine,” the Wall Street Journal reports.
“Those statements—among those described by Mr. Mueller as ‘lies’ and Mr. Manafort as ‘truthful information’ in a court filing Monday—are what led the special counsel this week to take the unusual step of ending the former Trump campaign chairman’s plea agreement 2½ months after it was reached.”
“The content of those statements don’t appear to be central to the allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 election that Mr. Mueller is investigating.”
— The New Republic (@newrepublic) November 30, 2018
FLAKE AND SCOTT UP END THE JUDICIAL TRAIN IN THE SENATE. Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) said he will oppose the nomination of Thomas Farr to the federal bench, assuring the controversial pick will not be confirmed, the Columbia State reports. “In a brief statement explaining his decision, Scott cited a 1991 Department of Justice memo that was leaked just this week, days before the Senate was set to vote on Farr’s confirmation. It detailed Farr’s involvement in “ballot security” activities by the 1984 and 1990 campaigns of then-Sen. Jesse Helms (R-NC).
“The Senate Judiciary Committee cancelled a Thursday hearing on judicial nominees as Jeff Flake’s stand for a bill to protect special counsel Robert Mueller continues to wreak havoc in the lame duck session,” Politico reports.
“The panel was scheduled to advance six Circuit Court nominees, 15 District Court nominees and several bipartisan bills on Thursday to prepare them for possible floor action over the next month. But Flake, who is retiring at the end of this year, is holding firm to his vow to vote against judicial nominees on the floor and in committee unless Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) schedules a vote on the bipartisan special counsel legislation.”
Flake told CNN he doesn’t get why his Republican Senate colleagues won’t back his bill to protect Mueller.
Politico: “The retiring Arizona senator is undermining the Senate GOP’s efforts to approve as many lifetime-appointed federal judges as possible in the lame duck. His vow to oppose all judges until he gets a vote shielding the special counsel from presidential interference has already frozen 21 judicial picks in committee and on Thursday helped derail a nominee on the Senate floor.”
“And GOP frustrations are boiling over at Flake, a Trump critic who is using the leverage possessed by an individual senator to advocate for his priorities. But so far McConnell has been unwilling to bend to Flake and give him a vote — which might not pass the Senate anyway, given the number of Republicans resistant to the Mueller bill or Flake’s hardball tactics.”
TRUMP IS INTERVENING IN THE MUELLER PROBE. First Read notes that President Trump tweet attacks on special counsel Robert Mueller — and there are more this morning — “are just the tip of the iceberg of the ways in which the president of the United States has intervened in, criticized, thwarted, and potentially obstructed an investigation that involves him, his family and his 2016 presidential campaign.”
- He’s once again dangling a pardon to former campaign chairman Paul Manafort;
- Manafort’s lawyer was cooperating with Trump’s legal defense team – after Manafort struck a plea agreement with special counsel Robert Mueller;
- Trump dumped his attorney general (because he recused himself from the Russia probe) and inserted a Mueller critic to be acting attorney general;
- When asked why he retweeted an image of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein behind bars, Trump replied, “He should have never picked a special counsel”;
- He admitted firing former FBI Director James Comey over the Russia investigation (“When I decided to [fire Comey], I said to myself, I said you know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made up story,” he told NBC’s Lester Holt);
- And Trump dictated the misleading statement on his son’s Trump Tower meeting with Russians.
“Add up all of these actions — and they’re not an exhaustive list — and you see a president who’s actively intervening in an investigation that involves him.”
I've been working on this pet theory that Trump is actually NOT innocent of collusion. https://t.co/4XfxSq3tDW
— Jonathan Chait (@jonathanchait) November 29, 2018
REPUBLICAN GOVERNMENT ENDS IN DISARRAY. John Harwood: “The president who vowed to make America great again has rattled financial markets, reduced farm exports and raised manufacturing costs with his tariff policies. As growth slows, he blames the Federal Reserve for raising interest rates and threatens General Motors for closing plants.”
“The president who promised law and order, having previously fired the FBI director, fired his attorney general over the Justice Department’s Trump-Russia investigation. The acting attorney general has been openly hostile to the probe.”
“The president who insisted Mexico would finance a border wall now wants American taxpayers to pay as a condition of keeping their government open. Congress doesn’t intend to build the wall, so the government could shut down next week.”
“Thus completes the chaotic circle of governance by Trump and the GOP Congress: fanciful promises, contradictory priorities, presidential provocations that Republicans won’t rein in. Voters responded this month by handing the House to Democrats.”
— The Atlantic (@TheAtlantic) November 29, 2018
EVERYTHING ADDS UP. Frank Rich: “The thing about stories built on actual facts, as Mueller’s will be, is that they tend to be powerful and command attention because they add up. People like solid crime stories. And so even now, even amid all the current racket, at least one such story is emerging loud and clear: the bridge that connects the Trump campaign to the trove of Democratic emails stolen by the Russians and publicized by WikiLeaks to sabotage the Clinton campaign.”
“Two of the biggest sources for this story are Stone and Corsi themselves. The more they try to portray their WikiLeaks ties as innocent — Corsi even gave a blabby interview to the less-than-friendly outlet of MSNBC on Wednesday — the more they poke holes in their own flimsy cover stories and incriminate the president. Not for nothing did Trump promote WikiLeaks’ email cache at least 164 times in the last month of the 2016 campaign, in the calculation of the journalist Judd Legum. Everything adds up.”
“It also adds up that Trump remains in the panic that has consumed him since he returned from his calamitous trip to rainy Paris nearly three weeks ago. He just keeps tweeting maniacally about his innocence and Mueller’s ‘witch hunt’ even as heads to the G20 meeting in Buenos Aires. Meanwhile, Mueller’s tale of his collusion with Russia gains traction by the moment.”
CNBC: “Mueller’s Russia probe came roaring back to life in November.”
Michael Cohen is the 33rd person charged by Mueller – and could be among the most important.
Just a reminder that Mueller is only about 18 months into his investigation, while other key special counsel probes lasted years.
— Amelia Thomson-DeVeaux (@ameliatd) November 29, 2018
SENATE SCOURS TRANSCRIPTS FOR LIES BY TRUMP WITNESSES. “Senate committees investigating Russia’s interference in the 2016 election are combing through witness testimony for possible misleading or untruthful statements,” NBC News reports.
“The review of testimony to Senate intelligence and judiciary committees comes as President Trump’s former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, pleaded guilty Thursday to a charge brought by special counsel Robert Mueller that he lied to Congress to cover up efforts during the presidential campaign to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.”
TRUMP CANCELS MEETING WITH PUTIN. Oh, they’ll still talk, but it won’t be an official bilateral with the flags and stuff. President Trump announced he would not meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin as planned at the G-20 summit over tensions with Ukraine. The announcement came just an hour after Trump told reporters the meeting would “probably” go ahead as planned and two hours after Michael Cohen plead guilty to lying about his work on Trump’s behalf in Russia.
CORSI ADMITS HIS CRIMES. “In a blockbuster interview, key Mueller witness and Roger Stone associate Jerome Corsi admits to MSNBC that he lied to Congress, that he tried to get stolen Clinton emails back to the Trump campaign in 2016, that he ‘absolutely’ intended to help the Trump campaign by doing so, that he told Roger Stone about John Podesta’s emails and that his lawyers are still communicating with Trump’s legal team ‘as if’ there is a joint legal defense.”
— Talking Points Memo (@TPM) November 30, 2018
TRUMP APPEALS TO MEN WHO ARE SEXUALLY INSECURE. I could have told you that 2 years ago. Eric Knowles and Sarah DiMuccio: “From boasting about the size of his penis on national television to releasing records of his high testosterone levels, President Trump’s rhetoric and behavior exude machismo. His behavior also seems to have struck a chord with some male voters. See, for example, the ‘Donald Trump: Finally Someone With Balls’ T-shirts common at Trump rallies.”
“But our research suggests that Trump is not necessarily attracting male supporters who are as confidently masculine as the president presents himself to be. Instead, Trump appears to appeal more to men who are secretly insecure about their manhood.”
MORE CHILDREN UNINSURED UNDER TRUMP. “For the first time in nearly a decade, the number of uninsured children in America has grown,” CNN reports. “The reversal is unprecedented, particularly given a strong economy in which more people are landing jobs and gaining access to employer health coverage. It also comes at a time when the nation’s overall uninsured rate remained flat.”
“Roughly 276,000 more children were uninsured in 2017 than the year before, bringing the total to more than 3.9 million.”
“Our boy can become president of the USA and we can engineer it,” [Felix] Sater wrote. “I will get Putin on this program and we will get Donald elected.” @realDonaldTrump is very compromised- no wonder he's lashing out! #CohenPlea https://t.co/2sKLDyGhcV
— Elizabeth Hoffecker (@ehoffecker) November 30, 2018
TRUMP’S LATE NIGHT CALLS WITH STONE UNDER MUELLER’S SCRUTINY. Washington Post: “The calls almost always came deep into the night. Caller ID labeled them ‘unknown,’ but Roger Stone said he knew to pick up quickly during those harried months of the 2016 presidential campaign. There would be a good chance that the voice on the other end of the line would belong to his decades-long friend — the restless, insomniac candidate Donald Trump — dialing from a blocked phone number.”
“Those nocturnal chats and other contacts between the man who now occupies the Oval Office and an infamous political trickster have come under intensifying scrutiny as special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation bores into whether Stone served as a bridge between Trump and WikiLeaks as the group was publishing hacked Democratic emails.”
TRUMP WANTS ROSENSTEIN CONVICTED OF TREASON. President Trump sharply criticized Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein in a New York Post interview, “hours after retweeting an image showing Rosenstein and several other current and former officials locked in a prison cell,” the Washington Post reports. Asked why he believes Rosenstein belongs behind bars, Trump replied: “He should have never picked a special counsel.”
“Trump declined to answer a follow-up question on whether he intends to fire Rosenstein.”