Open Thread

The Open Thread for December 2, 2018

TRUMP WHITE HOUSE SUBORNED COHEN PERJURY.  Michael Cohen said he was in “close and regular contact” with Trump’s White House staff and legal team when he prepared a statement for Congress that he now says falsely downplayed Trump’s effort to land a Trump Tower Moscow deal during the 2016 presidential campaign, Politico reports.

In a filing seeking a lenient sentence, Cohen’s attorneys say his false statement to Congress — which Cohen pleaded guilty to on Thursday — was based on Trump and his team’s efforts to “portray contact with Russian representatives” by Trump, his campaign or his company “as having effectively terminated before the Iowa caucuses of February 1, 2016.”

THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE COHEN PLEA DEAL.  Lawfare: “Before we dive into the weeds, let’s pause a moment over this. Because in important respects, the legalities—or illegalities—at issue here are secondary points. The primary point is that this is all utterly unacceptable. That a large swath of the public, and the legislative branch, has chosen to accept it does not make it more reasonable that a man seeking to be president of the United States would at the same time publicly cozy up to a foreign dictator and negotiate with his regime over a potential business opportunity—and then cover it all up. The story is likely to get worse.”


DONALD TRUMP JR. IS IN SOME TROUBLE.  “Donald Trump Jr.’s testimony to Congress about his family’s real estate negotiations with powerful Russians does not comport with the new version laid out by Donald Trump’s ex-attorney Michael Cohen,” NPR reports.

“Trump Jr. told the Senate Judiciary Committee in September 2017 that although there had been negotiations surrounding a prospective Trump Tower in Moscow, they concluded without result ‘at the end’ of 2014.”

“Trump’s account contrasts with the new version of events given by Cohen on Thursday in a guilty plea in federal court. In that new version, Cohen says the discussions with at least one Russian government official and others in Moscow continued through June 2016, well into Trump’s presidential campaign.”

When your bae has found someone else.


MANAFORT MAY BE RETRIED ON HUNG JURY CHARGES. Special counsel Robert Mueller’s office is considering retrying former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort on a slew of federal charges that resulted in a hung jury over the summer, Politico reports.  A federal judge set a March 5 sentencing date for Manafort.

CALIFORNIAN REPUBLICANS DID NOT SEE IT COMING.  Good.   Politico: “It was one of several nasty midterm shocks for California Republicans: Internal polling described to Politico showed Knight and Reps. Dana Rohrabacher and Mimi Walters — all of whom lost — narrowly leading their Democratic opponents at the end of the campaign. Not only did the GOP get crushed in California, the party also got taken by surprise by the intensity of the backlash in the nation’s largest state, where Republicans projected confidence nearly all year before watching Democrats flip a whopping six House districts — and possibly a seventh.”

“The nightmare results were the end result of a toxic brew of overconfidence and presidential unpopularity, as some Republicans failed to recognize and reckon with the unprecedented negative reaction to President Trump in districts from Orange County to California’s agriculture-heavy Central Valley.”

THEY WERE COMPROMISED THE WHOLE TIME.  The Atlantic: “At the very beginning of Trump’s presidency, as soon as he lied in that press conference, Vladimir Putin and Russian intelligence possessed the ability to unmask Trump as a liar to the American public, revealing damaging information to Congress and the public about which they had previously been ignorant. BuzzFeed’s account of the negotiations involving a potential Trump Tower in Moscow hints at the wealth of documentary evidence that the Russians would possess to back up their claims.”

“As it would turn out, that was merely the beginning of their leverage. In September 2017, Donald Trump Jr. gave sworn Senate testimony that may be contradicted by Thursday’s revelations, raising the prospect that the Russians have been in possession of evidence suggesting that the president’s son may have committed a felony. And once Cohen lied to Congress about the matter, the Russians were in a position to expose the unlawful behavior of Trump’s personal attorney.”

President Trump plans to attend the Washington funeral of former president George H.W. Bush and is designating next Wednesday a national day of mourning, the Washington Post reports. “He is planning to speak by phone on Saturday morning with the late president’s son, former president George W. Bush, to offer his condolences on behalf of himself, first lady Melania Trump and the nation.”

COHEN WANTS TIME SERVED AS A SENTENCE.  That will depend on whether he gives us everything.   “Lawyers for former Trump personal attorney Michael Cohen argued Friday that their client should not go to prison for the criminal charges to which he has pleaded guilty, and unequivocally linked much of his wrongdoing to his desire to protect and support President Trump,” the Washington Post reports.

“In a late-night court filing, lawyers for the onetime Trump loyalist wrote that their client was a changed man who was eager to share his knowledge with law enforcement and mindful that he would have to ‘begin his life virtually anew.’ Their filing detailed what they said was Cohen’s already extensive cooperation, including seven voluntary interviews with the team of special counsel Robert Mueller, as well as meetings with federal prosecutors in New York, representatives of the New York State Attorney General’s office and officials with the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance, which are conducting wide ranging probes into Trump’s campaign and his family foundation.”

“According to Cohen’s sentencing submission, federal sentencing guidelines in just the first case call for him to spend as many as five years and three months in jail.”

BUSH WANTED TRUMP AT HIS FUNERAL. “When President Trump didn’t attend Barbara Bush’s funeral earlier this year, it stoked chatter about a rivalry between the two powerful families who have a history of sniping at each other,” Politico reports.

“The former first lady criticized Trump during the 2016 campaign for saying ‘terrible things’ about women and the military, and was long displeased with Trump’s insults toward her husband and sons. But many of the family’s confidants said Saturday former President George H.W. Bush wished to put that all aside when it came to Trump attending his funeral.”

Said an aide to the former president: “If anybody at anytime knew anything about the 41st president of the United States, they would completely and totally understand that he would welcome the current occupant 100 percent. This is the way the country says goodbye to presidents.”

BUSH’S DEATH REVEALS A TRUMP IN ISOLATION.   Politico: “President George H.W. Bush was a war hero, an internationalist who played a consequential role in maintaining the post-war world order. In domestic politics, he is remembered as a pillar of the Republican establishment, a pragmatist who pined for a ‘kinder, gentler nation.’”

“President Donald J. Trump represents a starkly different strain of Republicanism, and a rejection of nearly all of Bush’s values. And as Trump played global statesman at the G-20 summit here against the backdrop of a former president’s passing, many world leaders clearly missed the predictability of the Bush years and the America he represented.”

TRUMP MET WITH PUTIN AFTER ALL.  Of course he did.  Putin probably threatened to reveal all if he didn’t meet with his master.   After avoiding Vladimir Putin for most of the day at the G-20 summit of global leaders, Trump had an “informal” conversation with the Russian president, USA Today reports.

“Trump drew fire for a similar encounter over dinner at the G-20 summit in Hamburg last year when the White House disclosed days later that the two presidents met without any U.S. aides present.”

A CULTURE OF LYING SURROUNDS HIMNew York Times: “If the special counsel, Robert Mueller, has proved anything in his 18-month-long investigation — besides how intensely Russia meddled in an American presidential election — it is that Mr. Trump surrounded himself throughout 2016 and early 2017 with people to whom lying seemed to be second nature.”

“They lied to federal authorities even when they had lawyers advising them, even when the risk of getting caught was high and even when the consequences for them were dire.”

“Even more Trump associates are under investigation for the same offense. They are part of a group of people surrounding Mr. Trump — including some White House and cabinet officials — who contribute to a culture of bending, if not outright breaking, the truth, and whose leading exemplar is Mr. Trump himself.”

ESPY WILL RUN AGAIN.  Mike Espy (D) filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission declaring his intention to run again for U.S. Senate in Mississippi in 2020, The Hill reports.  Espy lost a runoff to Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS) earlier this week to fill the remaining two years of Sen. Thad Cochran’s (R-MS) term.

THE MUELLER INVESTIGATION IS RUNNING A PROFIT.  New York Magazine: “As of September, the fiscal cost of the Mueller investigation was roughly $0.00. By that point, the probe had spent roughly $26 million. But, by striking a plea agreement with Paul Manafort for his myriad white-collar crimes — an agreement that required Trump’s former campaign manager to forfeit five multi-million-dollar properties, a life-insurance policy, and the contents of multiple bank accounts — Mueller’s investigation had acquired somewhere between $26 million and $42 million worth of revenue for the federal treasury.”

Delaware politics from a liberal, progressive and Democratic perspective. Keep Delaware Blue.

1 comment on “The Open Thread for December 2, 2018

  1. Thank you to George H W Bush, for your many years of service and sacrifice to our country. We will be indebted to you and the sacrifices that your family made, over the years. You were a true hero, patriot and leader!

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