Trump’s fixer man, Michael Cohen, and his secret business dealings

Michael Cohen is both a lawyer and a business man.    Search warrants  were served on Mr. Cohen because he is  being investigated for possible campaign finance violations, bank fraud and wire fraud.   It is part of a federal grand jury investigation which was empaneled months ago.  On Monday,  Mr. Cohen lost in his request to have all items seized in the raid returned to him.     It was established in court, that in the last year and a half,  Cohen provided legal advice to only three clients,  Donald Trump,  Elliott Broidy and Sean Hannity.   Sean Hannity denied he was Mr. Cohen’s client.

In their search, investigators also sought to obtain records relating to Cohen’s ownership of taxi medallions — high-value assets that are often used as collateral for loans, according to people familiar with the matter.  The value of the medallions was sharply dropping in value, as a result of Uber and Lyft.   Between April and June 2017, the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance filed seven tax warrants against Cohen and his wife for $37,434 in unpaid taxi taxes due to the MTA.[13]

Prosecutors are following the money on this one.   The  $130,000 payoff to Stormy Daniels, might be the most visible sign of shady business, but I suspect there are far bigger targets.   Elliott Broidy  needed Cohen’s help to hide the fact that his affair with Playboy model, Shera Bachard, who he made pregnant, and Cohen arranged a 1.3 million dollar payment to hush up the affair.    The child was aborted.

According to the New York Times, Mr. Broidy was a national deputy chairman of the R.N.C.’s finance committee, a title he shared with Mr. Cohen.  Mr. Broidy is the second member of that committee to resign this year amid questions involving their behavior with women and deals to silence them.

So,  how big is this swamp?   Here is more from the New York Times article:

During the wide-ranging October meeting, Mr. Broidy raised numerous topics high on the agenda of the United Arab Emirates, a country that has given his security company a contract worth hundreds of millions of dollars. He pitched the president on a paramilitary force his company was developing for the U.A.E. and urged Mr. Trump to fire Rex W. Tillerson, then the secretary of state, who the U.A.E. believed was insufficiently tough on its rival Qatar.

The documents show that Mr. Broidy has worked closely with George Nader, an adviser to the U.A.E. and a witness in the special counsel’s investigation, to help steer Trump administration policy on numerous issues in the Middle East. Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel, is examining Mr. Nader’s possible role in funneling Emirati money to finance Mr. Trump’s political efforts. There is no indication that Mr. Mueller’s team is looking into Mr. Broidy.

In 2009, Mr. Broidy pleaded guilty to charges that he made nearly $1 million worth of illegal gifts to New York State officials in order to win an investment of $250 million from the state’s public pension fund. Among the gifts were trips to Israel and Italy, payouts to officials’ relatives and girlfriends and an investment in one relative’s production of a low-budget movie called “Chooch.”

It is also reported that there are no emails between Donald Trump and Michael Cohen.   Trump apparently doesn’t use email.

If true, can you imagine the gall of Broidy, wanting to get rid of the secretary of state,  because of his business dealings in the UAE.    Our environmental policies, have been sold out to the fossil fuel companies,  but was  Trump also trading in our relations with other Middle East countries to help support his donors?    Broidy was also on Trump’s inaugural ceremony committee, where millions  were unaccounted for according to MSNBC’s Rachel Madlow and others (see link).

I’m honestly not that interested in Stormy Daniel’s hush money contract, or  Elliot Broidy’s affair,  but the Middle East connections, by way of George Nader.  This might help Mueller’s team.

At this point, it is a legal battle between the president’s lawyers who want to do anything possible to impede the review by the “taint team”  verses the Department of Justice who want to know to get the team’s  review done as soon as possible.   Judge Kimba Woods has stated that case law on confidentiality, applies equally, be it the president of the United States, or the man on the street.   This has also been the opinion of the Supreme Court,  dating back to claims of Executive Privilege in the days of Nixon and Watergate.   Judge Woods  will likely decide soon whether a Special Master should be appointed.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Links:

Whatever happened to the money from Trump’s inaugural committee?

 

Russian meddling in the US Elections

Russia meddled in the United States 2016 elections.  This is no longer speculation.  Indictments from a grand jury have been handed down indictments on 13 Russian nationals.  I assume none will be extradited to the US for trial.   I have no idea if  trials in absentia are possible. Already, there has been a response from one indicted Russian, that these charges are absurd and that 13 Russians could hardly change the results of an election.  The indictments do not conclude the meddling changed election results.

There was an impact; it just can’t be assessed.     It was a small group of professionals who came here to influence our election, likely supported by a larger dedicated group in Russia.  I don’t know how many more Russians were involved within the US, who the Justice Department could not indite because they just don’t have sufficient evidence.  The Russians came here with cash to spend and I suspect most of it went to help Donald Trump.  Moreover, whatever their operatives were spending on the ground here, their Russian counterparts were likely spending much more on planning and directing as dirty a campaign as possible against Hillary Clinton.   Mueller does not need to identify the full extent of the Russian meddling to get indictments, just that significant expenditures were made.  A cool million probably satisfies this threshold.

The question which should be asked, is why Russia thought they could pull this off and sway the election in favor of Donald Trump?   I think you have to look at how few people really determine the outcome of a Presidential election.   Hillary Clinton lost Florida by 112,911 votes.  If she had won Florida, she would have a total of 256 electoral votes.  At that point, winning one or two  “swing states” would have put her over the top (270 electoral votes).   Clinton lost Pennsylvania by 44,262 votes, and  20 electoral votes she needed to secure victory.

How to influence the election in 2016 was obvious to Russians or anyone else following the US elections.  Florida was #1 swing state.  Northern Florida was predominately Republican and the more people who voted in the north, the better Trump’s chances of winning.   Dressing up a  woman in prison suit with a sign “Crooked Hillary” to get the media’s attention was perfect.  If the electorate only knew!

This is Mueller’s show.   No one really knows where his investigation is going, and his team as kept things pretty buttoned up, as they should be.   My take is Russia did a whole lot more, including working with Trump’s team before the election to get dirt on Hillary, through the email hacks.  We shall see.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Trump’s Malicious Lies

He has attacked FBI Director Comey as a leaker of classified information, the acting Director as  Andrew McCabe as corrupt,  the head of the Justice Department, Jeff Sessions and Rob Rosenstein of using poor judgment in the appointment of Special Counsel Robert Mueller.   His latest attacks have been against Robert Mueller,  accusing him of a unwarranted  investigation of the Russian meddling in the 2016 and ignoring the crimes of Hillary Clinton in dealing with the Russians.

Although the harshest attacks come from Trump himself on the actions of the Justice Department,  in other areas, Trump is touting the accomplishments of the Justice Department, particularly the war on drugs, and crack down on human trafficking and illegal immigration, without any mention of Jeff Sessions.

The head of the Justice Department and FBI can be fired at a moments notice without cause.  Director Jim Comey learned he had been fired from CNN news broadcast.  Andrew McCabe is no longer in the direct line of fire.   The new FBI Director, Christopher Wray began his job yesterday.   If he feels that Hillary Clinton broke the law during 2016, he is free to investigate this activity.  Investigations can be closed, then re-opened.

I did not include attacks on the Washington Post and the New York Times from their reporting.  I previously posted my reasons why the New York Times reporting should be trusted, and that the newspaper is thriving, not failing.

The most serious accusations are against Robert Mueller, because Trump will use this as a pretext to remove him.  Jeff Sessions is far from being weak. Here’s the headline from the front page of the New York Times, “Under Attack, Justice Dept. Pushes Ahead, Quietly Carrying Out Trump’s Agenda.”  It goes on how Jeff Sessions is at work by 6:15 am, and starts his day on a treadmill, and a bowl of instant oatmeal in the microwave.  He hand-washes the bowl.

So, what were the malicious lie told by Trump?  It is the uranium story.  All fact checkers I know (Snopes.com, Politifact.com and factcheck.org find the essential details in  Trump’s narrative are false.    Here it is (snopes.com):

Allegations of a “quid pro quo” deal giving Russia ownership of one-fifth of U.S. uranium deposits in exchange for $145 million in donations to the Clinton Foundation are unsubstantiated.

No US uranium can be exported to Russia, not before the deal and not afterwards.  Russia may have an interest in US uranium mines, but Russia doesn’t get any uranium from the US.   The “quid pro quo” is simply a polite way of saying that Russia bought Hillary’s support, by slipping 145 million to the Clinton Foundation.    The whole story falls apart because the bulk of the  contributions were made in 2007, long before the buyout of Uranium One.

The whole uranium story should have fallen apart long ago because the timeline is all wrong.  The Snopes article states:

Of the $145 million allegedly contributed to the Clinton Foundation by Uranium One investors, the lion’s share — $131.3 million — came from a single donor, Frank Giustra, the company’s founder. But Giustra sold off his entire stake in the company in 2007, three years before the Russia deal and at least 18 months before Clinton became secretary of state.

Nobody is above the law.  Hillary Clinton, her staff and the Clinton Foundation must play by the rules.   I particularly like the way Snopes concluded the piece:

An enormous volume of interest and speculation surrounds the workings of the Clinton Foundation, which is to be expected. Given the enormous sums of money it controls and the fact that it is run by a former U.S. president who is married to a possible future U.S. president, the foundation deserves all the scrutiny it gets, and more.

At the same time, for the sake of accuracy it’s crucial to differentiate between partisan accusations and what we actually know about it — however little that may be.

This was published in October 2016, as Trump was storming the country with “Crooked Hillary” narratives.  Now the attacks have turned to Robert Mueller, as enemy number one.   He is directed to investigate Russian interference into the 2016 election, so he really can’t extend his investigation to a contribution received in 2007 by  Guistra  to the Clinton Foundation as payoff for a decision after he no longer had a stake in the company.   Whole narrative is really flaky.

I was very glad that no pardon was given to Hillary Clinton nor anyone in the White House or Clinton’s foundation before Obama’s departure.

Trump is trashing everyone who isn’t in the White House.  At least, isn’t currently in the White House. The heat is definitely on as Robert Mueller has convened a grand jury to examine criminal activities associated with Russian interference in the 2016 elections.

The latest Quinnipiac Polls show that most Americans do not trust Trump.  I wonder why?

Stay tuned,

Dave

Links:

Fact check:  West Virginia Rally  (much more fiction than fact

Snopes.com  Russian to Judgment

(note the Brietbart connection, with Clinton Cash book in 2015)

West Virginia Rally- Trump: Politifact.com West Virginia Rally

The special counsel “should be looking at the … uranium (Hillary Clinton) sold that’s now in the hands of very angry Russians.”

Politifact on Uranium story

New York Times, 2015 article on the buyout transaction. 

 

 

 

Republican Posturing on the Mueller Investigation

You are witnessing the single greatest WITCH HUNT in American political history – led by some very bad and conflicted people! #MAGA,” Trump tweeted last Thursday.

I don’t subscribe to Twitter.   I hope this is the last time I have to refer to anyone’s tweets.

Republican’s are posturing on questions about  Robert Mueller’s investigation.  Is it going to be impartial?  Is Trump going to be vindicated?

I believe the responses from Republicans follow  these approaches:  (1) Duck the question entirely,  (2) Call it a witch hunt or rigged investigation,  as if Democrats had wormed their way into Jeff Session’s Justice Department  or (3) State that the process must continue, it will be thorough and fair, and will vindicate  Trump.

First, how to duck the question. It is easy to  state,   “I’m not going there”, or “It’s far too early.”  Then add how special counsel in the past, such as Ken Starr’s investigation of Bill Clinton, seemed to never end.

A variation on the first approach is to bring in a boat load of accusations made against Hillary Clinton,  and state that if an investigation is needed, it is of all the wrong doing by her.    Of course, Jeff Sessions can investigate Hillary Clinton or anyone he wants to.

The second way, the full frontal assault (Newt Gingrich approach) and  slam Mueller for hiring biased staff.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich believes special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation is a “rigged game” because most of Mueller’s lawyers have donated to Democrats. On Tuesday, Gingrich criticized Mueller for not having pro-Trump attorneys on his team and addressed reports that three members of Mueller’s team have donated to Democrats. One lawyer even defended the Clinton Foundation. “He apparently couldn’t find a single pro-Trump attorney to hire, and I just think that’s a rigged game, and I think that it’s a mistake to pretend this is going to be some neutral investigation,” Gingrich said on CBS This Morning. “I don’t give the benefit of the doubt to somebody who could only hire Democrats but claims we ought to trust him.”

This claim of bias is obviously weak as observers say that Mueller is staffing up with an all star group of lawyers.     He knows Washington, and this is a super high stakes investigation.

The final approach is championed by Marco Rubio,  who I believe still has presidential aspirations.   Marco stated the following,  just after the Trump Cuban-American love fest for Fidel haters:

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) on Sunday defended special counsel Robert Mueller’s “stellar” reputation and ability to “conduct a full and fair and thorough investigation” on possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign.

“I believe he is going to conduct a full and fair and thorough investigation that we should have confidence in,” Rubio told CNN’s “State of the Union.”

“I’ll continue to believe that based on his reputation and years of service to our country unless there’s any evidence to the contrary,” Rubio said.

Rubio’s comments contradict recent efforts by President Trump’s legal team to attack Mueller’s integrity as special counsel. The team is raising concerns that Mueller’s prior relationship with former FBI Director James Comey is a conflict in his ability to lead the investigation.

Trump’s legal team has left open the possibility Trump will fire Mueller as well.

Rubio also stated that he felt in the end, Trump would be cleared of any wrong doing.

Republicans can decide whether to go with Newt’s attack on Robert Mueller’s staff, or Rubio’s faith in the system.

During all this, the Democrats are probably best to say as little as possible.  They wanted an independent investigation, and they got one.  Beyond this, they should just keep their mouth shut about the ultimate outcome.  They should not respond to Trump’s persistent tweets.   If you are winning, don’t gloat.

It is exactly in line with Rubio, to just let the facts speak for themselves.

Stay tuned,

Dave