Tag Archives: Department of Justice

This is how the Trump crime family syndicate comes undone

The Manhattan district attorney’s office is considering pursuing criminal charges against the Trump Organization and two senior company officials in connection with Michael D. Cohen’s hush money payment to an adult film actress, according to two officials with knowledge of the matter. Trump Organization Could Face Criminal Charges From Manhattan D.A.:

A state investigation would center on how the company accounted for its reimbursement to Mr. Cohen for the $130,000 he paid to the actress, Stephanie Clifford, who has said she had an affair with President Trump, the officials said.

Both officials stressed that the office’s review of the matter is in its earliest stages and prosecutors have not yet made a decision on whether to proceed.

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As the district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., considers opening an investigation, the New York State attorney general’s office has moved to open a criminal investigation into whether Mr. Cohen has violated state tax law, an inquiry that would be unrelated to the federal tax evasion charges that he pleaded guilty to on Tuesday, according to a person with knowledge of the state matter.

If Mr. Vance decides to proceed, it would not be the first time he investigated members of the Trump family. He was faulted for not pursuing charges against Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr., who were under criminal investigation in 2012 over allegations that they misled buyers interested in the Trump SoHo condominium project.

The attorney general, Barbara D. Underwood, in recent days sought a referral from the state Department of Taxation and Finance, which is needed to conduct such an inquiry and to prosecute any violations of state tax law it might uncover, the person said. Such requests are seldom denied. The state’s double jeopardy laws do not apply to tax crimes.

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‘Collusion’ by another name, but collusion just the same (Updated)

Special Counsel Robert Mueller is pursuing “collusion,” i.e., a conspiracy to defraud the United States of America, between the Russians and the Trump campaign.

But yesterday Donald Trump’s consigliere (fixer) Michael Cohen testified under oath in pleading guilty to a second act of “collusion,” i.e., a conspiracy to defraud the United States of America, between himself, Donald Trump, and David Pecker, CEO of American Media, Inc. (the National Enquirer).

I would also hasten to add Keith Davidson, the attorney who originally represented both Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal and conspired with Michael Cohen. National Enquirer Schemed With Michael Cohen to Silence Stormy Daniels: Prosecutors.

Lawrence O’Donnell laid out the case for this second act of “collusion” in a commentary (video) on Tuesday night.

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Rush Transcript (excerpts):

Today in a federal court in Manhattan Michael Cohen said “guilty your honor” eight times, and he also said “at the direction of,” twice. And both times he meant “at the direction of” the president of the United States. And so today, Donald Trump made history by becoming the first president of the United States to be accused under oath in federal court of ordering someone to commit a federal crime to win a presidential election. “At the direction of.”

Today Michael Cohen said under oath Donald Trump made me do it, my boss made me do it, he told me to break the law. “At the direction of.”

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‘Super Tuesday’ in the federal courts – Cohen pleads, Manafort found guilty (Updated)

Donald Trump’s consigliere (fixer) Michael Cohen once said he would “take a bullet for Donald Trump.”

But today Michael Cohen entered into a plea deal with the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York and agreed to be a cooperating witness. Just call Mikey Flipper today.

The big news: in counts seven and eight to which Michael Cohen plead guilty, involving payment of hush money to porn star Stormy Daniels and former Playboy playmate Karen McDougal, Donald Trump is effectively identified as an unindicted co-conspirator, for the first time since Richard Nixon.

Bloomberg News reports from the courthouse, Cohen Faces December Sentencing on U.S. Charges: Plea Update:

Cohen Acted for Candidate in Violating Campaign Law (4:43 p.m.)

In acknowledging the charges against him, Cohen said he was directed to violate campaign law at the direction of a candidate for federal office. At the same candidate’s direction, he said he paid $130,000 to somebody to keep them quiet, which was later repaid by the candidate. He didn’t identify the candidate or the person who was paid, but those facts match Cohen’s payment to Clifford [Stormy Daniels] and Trump’s repayment.

Cohen Payment Was to Hide Alleged Affairs: U.S. (4:47 p.m.)

The prosecutor told the judge the purpose of the payments was to ensure that the individuals did not disclose “alleged affairs with the candidate.” Besides the $130,000 payment, Cohen admitted to making an illegal contribution of $150,000, which was how much McDougal received from the National Enquirer’s publisher to quash her story.

Lawfare Blog has a copy of the Michael Cohen plea agreement. Michael Cohen Plea Agreement (Scribd).

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Can we officially call it a constitutional crisis now? (Updated)

Donald Trump “went there” this morning on the Special Counsel’s Russia probe.

Trump is, once again, setting up Confederate Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III to be the fall guy by signaling he is now ready to pull a Nixonian “Saturday night massacre” if the Attorney General does not do as he is directed by the president, a clear violation of the independence of the Department of Justice from undue influence over criminal investigations by the chief executive. With Robert Mueller closing in, Trump is in a panic and is abusing the powers of the presidency to obstruct justice in order to protect himself.

Chris Cillizza at CNN reports, Donald Trump just tweeted something new about the Russia investigation — and it’s huge:

President Donald Trump has made his displeasure with Attorney General Jeff Sessions, special counsel Robert Mueller and the ongoing investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election he is leading crystal clear over the past year. But he took that critique to new heights on Wednesday morning, suggesting that Sessions needed to step in and end the investigation.

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That seems like a pretty clear directive, no?

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Obstruction of justice in plain sight by Donald Trump and his co-conspirators in Congress

Late Saturday night, the government released a redacted version of the FISA Court warrant application for Trump campaign foreign policy adviser Carter Page.

The application has been the basis of an elaborate conspiracy theory concocted by Donald Trump and his collaborators in Congress that his campaign was “spied on” by the FBI and intelligence agencies only after the Steele Dossier, a claim for which there is no basis or evidence. It also resulted in the discredited “Nunes Memo” from the House Intelligence Committee, which was entirely refuted by the Democratic minority memo.

Trump ordered the FISA Court warrant application released — the first time any such secret evidence in the FISA Court has ever been released —  in a pathetic attempt to revive his discredited conspiracy theory and renewed his attacks on the FBI and intelligence agencies,  after a week in which he sided with Vladimir Putin over his own intelligence community and was forced to walk it back at least four times, before returning to attacking his intelligence community over the weekend.

What we are witnessing is obstruction of justice in plain sight by Donald Trump and his co-conspirators in Congress. This crime is continuing and is ongoing.

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Guess who’s coming to dinner

Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling (ret.), the former commanding general of the U.S. Army Europe and Seventh Army, along with Molly K. McKew, who advises governments and political parties on foreign policy and strategic communications, have co-authored an important piece at POLITICO that you really should read to understand the nature of the war that we are in with Vladimir Putin’s Russia.

That’s right, “Make no mistake: Hacking the 2016 election was an act of war. It’s time we responded accordingly.” Putin’s Attack on the U.S. Is Our Pearl Harbor (snippet):

Russia’s cyber warfare capabilities are just one element of an arsenal of hybrid, asymmetric means the Kremlin has focused on expanding since its cyberattacks against Estonia in 2007 and its invasion of Georgia in 2008. In 2013, the Russian chief of the general staff General Valery Gerasimov outlined this concept of warfare, emphasizing that “the role of nonmilitary means of achieving political and strategic goals has grown, and, in many cases, they have exceeded the power of force of weapons in their effectiveness.” Putin polished what they had learned in earlier operations and put these on full display a year later, as Russia seized and then annexed Crimea, and then launched an invasion of eastern Ukraine fronted by local proxies backed by the Russian military.

While it has become quite popular to debate whether or not what is referred to as “the Gerasimov Doctrine” was intended to be military or security doctrine or not, the way of war Gerasimov discussed is, in fact, how the Russians now fight. Testifying before the House Armed Services Committee in March 2018, General Mike Scaparrotti, head of U.S. European Command, was asked about Gerasimov, and he responded succinctly and with candor: “Russia has a doctrine that … sees these activities below the level of conflict as part of the full spectrum, with the intent that if they can undermine a target country using these means … never having to use military force, that’s their objective.”

Gerasimov has since updated his thinking on the uses of hybrid warfare to erode the will of the enemy, saying that “spiritual resources—the nation’s cohesion and desire to confront the aggressor at all cost,” were one of the most important determiners of victory or defeat in these new shadow wars. Confusing the enemy has always been a doctrinal tenet of Russian war-fighting, so this new approach just replaces the old “Maskirovka” (deception) as a primary objective. The more you read about how Russia has tested and adapted these tactics in its near-abroad, the harder it is to deny that the Kremlin’s attack on America is no outlier but rather one more entry in an ongoing, evolving playbook that is yielding more success than anyone wants to admit.

So where are the air-raid sirens and the calls to arms from those who vow to protect and defend our Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic?

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