Last Friday, Donald Trump’s consigliere Michael Cohen was in court on a motion to suppress evidence seized in a raid by the FBI on his office, home, and hotel room, and a bank deposit box. (It did not go well for him on Monday).
Trump called Cohen on Friday to “check in,” according to two people briefed on the call. Depending on what else was discussed, the call could be problematic, as lawyers typically advise their clients against discussing investigations. Trump Sees Inquiry Into Cohen as Greater Threat Than Mueller.
This could be viewed as witness intimidation or tampering, or even suborning perjury. “Don’t say nothing, Mikey. You keep your mouth shut! You know whadda mean?”
Federal prosecutors revealed Friday that Cohen has been under criminal investigation for months and that they have impaneled a grand jury to probe his business dealings.
Donald Trump sent another message to Michael Cohen on Friday to keep his mouth shut: he pardoned Scooter Libby, who was convicted of one count of obstruction, two counts of perjury and one count of lying to the FBI about how he learned of Valerie Plame’s identity and whom he told (leaking classified information, Valerie Plame was a nonofficial cover (NOC) CIA spy, putting her life and those of all her known associates and contacts at risk). Jurors Convict Libby on Four of Five Charges.
For months, President Trump has railed against investigators and presented himself as the target of an unfair prosecution.
So when he was asked to pardon former Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff, who likewise considered himself the target of an unfair prosecution, Mr. Trump may have seen some parallels — and a chance to make a statement.
The statement came on Friday when the president granted a full pardon to I. Lewis Libby Jr., who was Mr. Cheney’s top adviser before he was convicted in 2007 of perjury and obstruction of justice in connection with the disclosure of the identity of a C.I.A. officer, Valerie Plame.
Mr. Libby, the president declared, had not received justice. “I don’t know Mr. Libby,” Mr. Trump said in a statement, “but for years I have heard that he has been treated unfairly [on FAUX News]. Hopefully, this full pardon will help rectify a very sad portion of his life.
Note: Earlier this year, Trump granted a pardon to Kristian Saucier, a former Navy sailor convicted of unauthorized retention of national defense information. Saucier’s case was taken up by FAUX News.
Victoria Toensing, a lawyer and friend of Mr. Libby’s, said on Friday that she brought his case to the attention of the White House Counsel’s Office over the summer. Ms. Toensing and her husband and law partner, Joseph diGenova [long time regulars on FAUX News aka Trump TV], were briefly set to work for Mr. Trump as private lawyers last month until they backed out, citing a client conflict.
Critics saw hypocrisy in Trump’s decision, coming on the same day that he was denouncing James B. Comey, the former F.B.I. director, as a “leaker & liar.”
“On the day the president wrongly attacks Comey for being a ‘leaker and liar’ he considers pardoning a convicted leaker and liar, Scooter Libby,” Representative Adam B. Schiff, Democrat of California, wrote on Twitter. “This is the president’s way of sending a message to those implicated in the Russia investigation: You have my back and I’ll have yours.”
Ms. Plame, who now lives in Santa Fe, N.M., said she did not believe the pardon had anything to do with her or Mr. Libby but Mr. Trump’s own legal issues. “I would say he’s trying to build a firewall,” she said.
His real audience, she added, was the associates who might turn on him. “He’s saying, ‘If you get in trouble, don’t spill the beans, I’ll take care of you.’ This is how the mafia works.”
Do you now who else is a leaker and a liar? Donald Trump. Trump revealed highly classified information to Russian foreign minister and ambassador:
The information the president relayed [to his Russian handlers] had been provided by a U.S. partner through an intelligence-sharing arrangement considered so sensitive that details have been withheld from allies and tightly restricted even within the U.S. government, officials said.
The partner had not given the United States permission to share the material with Russia, and officials said Trump’s decision to do so endangers cooperation from an ally that has access to the inner workings of the Islamic State. After Trump’s meeting, senior White House officials took steps to contain the damage, placing calls to the CIA and the National Security Agency.
“This is code-word information,” said a U.S. official familiar with the matter, using terminology that refers to one of the highest classification levels used by American spy agencies. Trump “revealed more information to the Russian ambassador than we have shared with our own allies.”
The Washington Post has been keeping a running total of the pathological liar’s daily lies. As of March 2, 2018, the Post had documented President Trump has made 2,436 false or misleading claims so far: That’s an average of six claims a day.
This average has likely increased this past week with the Twitter-troll-in-chief’s unhinged Twitter tirades against his own Justice Department, his own appointed Attorney General and Deputy Attorney General, the FBI and former FBI Director James Comey and his newly released book.
In his decision Friday to pardon Scooter Libby, who was convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice, President Trump telegraphed his open hostility to the criminal justice system and his desire to use the power of the presidency as a personal political tool. Trump grants pardon to former Bush official; some say he is using the law as a political tool:
Trump effectively thumbed his nose at the judiciary by pardoning I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby. The Justice Department was not involved in either case, officials said.
Trump acknowledged Friday that he has no personal relationship with Libby, but the George W. Bush administration veteran has powerful allies in the conservative movement who lobbied Trump over many months. Trump concluded that Libby had been unfairly convicted in 2007 because of an overzealous prosecutor who investigated the leak of a covert CIA officer’s identity and was deserving of a pardon.
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A number of former Trump aides and associates have pleaded guilty to similar charges, such as lying to FBI investigators, and others are subjects of the wide-ranging Russia investigation led by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III. Trump’s former lawyer, John Dowd, has floated the possibility of pardons for former national security adviser Michael Flynn and former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort in the past, The Washington Post has reported. And Trump has asked questions about the use of pardons, White House aides say.
Message sent to Michael Cohen: “Don’t say nothing, Mikey. You keep your mouth shut! Play ball and I will pardon you. Capisce?”
Dangling a pardon to silence a witness is obstruction of justice. It is one of the elements of the Special Counsel’s obstruction of justice investigation. Trump, Mueller teams prepare to move forward without presidential interview:
Three sources familiar with the investigation said the findings Mueller has collected on Trump’s attempts to obstruct justice include: His intent to fire former FBI Director James Comey; his role in the crafting of a misleading public statement on the nature of a June 2016 Trump Tower meeting between his son and Russians; Trump’s dangling of pardons before grand jury witnesses who might testify against him; and pressuring Attorney General Jeff Sessions not to recuse himself from the Russia investigation.
Mueller would then likely send a confidential report to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who is overseeing the Russia investigation [assuming he has not been fired by Trump by the time the Special Counsel’s report arrives]. Rosenstein could decide whether to make the report public and send its findings to Congress. From there, Congress would then decide whether to begin impeachment proceedings against the president, said two of the sources.
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Prior to Monday’s raid, Mueller’s team had been aiming to finalize a report on its findings on whether the president has tried to obstruct justice in the Russia investigation in the coming months, as early as May or as late as July, three sources said. That timeline hinged in part on reaching a decision on a presidential interview, these people said. One person familiar with the investigation described a decision on an interview as one of the last steps Mueller was seeking to take before closing his investigation into obstruction.
Now, according to two sources, Mueller’s team may be able to close the obstruction probe more quickly as they will not need to prepare for the interview or follow up on what the president says.
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Two people familiar with the investigation said they expect a flurry of activity from Mueller’s office on the investigation in the next six weeks around the anniversary of his appointment as special counsel.
Everything Trump has done in recent weeks is simply adding more bricks in the edifice of the obstruction of justice case that the Special Counsel is building. If Trump fires Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and/or Special Counsel Robert Mueller, he will only be digging the hole he has dug for himself even deeper. And those effin’ idiots at FAUX News aka Trump TV like Sean Hannity just keep egging him on to do it.
This is all coming to a head this summer.