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Trump appointed AG Jeff Sessions and Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein. Sessions appointed Geoffrey Berman, the U.S. attorney for the SDNY. Berman is a former law partner of Rudolph Giuliani, a prime-time Trump sycophant. Rosenstein appointed Special Counsel Robert Mueller, George W. Bush’s long-time FBI director, after President Trump fired then-FBI director James Comey. All these men are lifelong Republicans. Trump could not have ensured more fairness to him had he installed Tiffany and Eric at the Justice Department.

(scroll down for article)

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“I stand before your Honor humbly and painfully aware that we are here today for one reason: Because of my actions that I pled guilty to. … I take full responsibility for each act that I pled guilty to, the personal ones to me and those involving the President of the United States of America. …

“Recently, the President Tweeted a statement calling me weak, and he was correct, but for a much different reason than he was implying. It was because time and time again I felt it was my duty to cover up his dirty deeds rather than to listen to my own inner voice and my moral compass. My weakness can be characterized as a blind loyalty to Donald Trump, and I was weak for not having the strength to question and to refuse his demands. I have already spent years living a personal and mental incarceration, which no matter what is decided today, owning this mistake will free me to be once more the person I really am.”

(Cohen, Michael, former Donald Trump personal lawyer; sentencing hearing before U.S. District Judge William H. Pauley III; New York, N.Y.; 12/12/2018.)

One more nail in the president’s legal coffin.

Michael Cohen

Michael Cohen’s sentencing recommendation by SDNY prosecutors for pleading to eight felonies was 51 to 63 months in federal prison. He got three years even. (He also pleaded to one Mueller-related count of lying to Congress, resulting in no additional jail time.)

Last April, Cohen, Trump’s personal attorney of 12 years and self-identified “fixer” for The Donald, saw his office, hotel room, and home raided by the FBI. The U.S. attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York issued the warrant based partially on a referral by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team.

Mr. Trump was apoplectic:

“The president once again railed against Jeff Sessions, the attorney general, for recusing himself in the Russia inquiry, and blasted the FBI for failing to investigate Hillary Clinton, ‘where there are crimes.’ He criticized Rod J. Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, who is overseeing the Russia investigation, and called Mr. Mueller’s team ‘the most biased group of people,’ who he said were mostly Democrats and some Republicans who had worked for President Barack Obama. … [Trump] asserted that the FBI ‘broke in to’ Mr. Cohen’s office … [and] called the FBI raid a ‘disgraceful situation’ and an ‘attack on our country in a true sense.’ … ‘That is really now on a whole new level of unfairness,’ Mr. Trump said.”

(Apuzzo, Matt; “FBI Raids Office of Trump’s Longtime Lawyer Michael Cohen; Trump Calls It ‘Disgraceful’”; The Washington Post; 4/9/2018.)

Donald also called Robert (Mueller) a poopy-head (— writer’s embellishment; thanks to Grover Norquist).

Now remember, Trump appointed Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. These are/were Donald’s guys. Sessions appointed Geoffrey Berman, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York. Berman is a former law partner of Rudolph Giuliani, a prime-time Trump sycophant. Rosenstein appointed Special Counsel Robert Mueller, George W. Bush’s long-time FBI director, after President Trump fired then-FBI director James Comey. All of these men are lifelong Republicans.

President Trump could not have ensured more fairness to him had he installed Tiffany and Eric at the Justice Department.

In the span of eight months, Michael Cohen went from, “I would take a bullet for Mr. Trump” to confessing tearfully, “I take full responsibility … I felt it was my duty to cover up [Mr. Trump’s] dirty deeds.” He was compelled to do this only at the hands of Trump appointees all the way around.


Paul Manafort

Also this past week, Paul Manafort, former 2016 Trump campaign chair, had some dealings in federal court. The special counsel’s office submitted a document titled “Government’s Submission in Support of Its Breach Determination.” What’s a breach determination? It’s a determination that Paul Manafort breached his last opportunity to minimize his years spent in an orange jumpsuit and government-issue underwear.

After conviction on eight felonies and facing over a dozen more, Manafort entered into a plea cooperation agreement with Special Counsel Bob Mueller. Then he breached it. Instead of telling Mueller everything he knew about contacts between the Trump campaign and Russia, Manafort lied about most everything. Additionally, he fed Trump’s lawyers information about what prosecutors knew and were asking Manafort about while he was supposed to be cooperating.

Astonishingly, the bad behavior established by this last point apparently is not illegal, just “highly inappropriate.” Rudy Giuliani, a Trump lawyer, actually publicly bragged about getting this information. Illegal or not, it was a bad way to get on Mueller’s good side.

In return for this, the “Government’s Submission in Support of Its Breach Determination” said Manafort should get zero credit for cooperation and spend about 15 years in prison (a likely life sentence for 69-year-old Paul).

In much more bad news for the president, Mueller’s court document was heavily redacted, hiding for now all the ways he knows Manafort lied. How is this bad for Trump? After a long delay, Donald finally submitted his written answers to Mueller’s questions (negotiated by Trump’s lawyers, in lieu of live testimony) about two weeks ago. He likely based his answers on information gleaned from Team Manafort’s back-channeling. But Donald didn’t know Mueller was onto Manafort’s double-dealing. Surprise: Mueller knew Manafort was back-channeling but didn’t expose it until after he got Trump’s written testimony.

Additionally, the heavy redactions likely include much more bad news for the president, which Mueller can’t yet reveal because he’s still arranging the cover on Trump’s legal coffin — in which to pound the remaining nails.

Thickening Plot

President Trump has had one primary defense against the SDNY charges of felonious campaign violations involving hush money paid to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal to influence the 2016 presidential election. He continues to deny any dalliances with either woman and maintains that Michael Cohen is a long-time liar and now-felon telling stories to reduce his prison term.

So far, so good, even though the winner of a veracity “tinkle contest” (— thanks to Nancy Pelosi) between Donald Trump and Michael Cohen is at best a toss-up.

But this week, the dominoes are falling. The house of cards is folding. Wile E. Coyote has overshot the cliff and Road Runner has dropped the anvil on his head.

On Wednesday, court documents revealed that David Pecker, CEO of American Media Inc. (National Enquirer’s parent company) and long-time Trump buddy, admitted he conspired with Donald to commit crimes and influence the presidential election:

“The National Enquirer’s parent company acknowledged paying hush money to a woman who alleged an affair with Donald Trump to ‘suppress the woman’s story’ and ‘prevent it from influencing the election.’ The admission came as federal prosecutors announced Wednesday that they would not prosecute the company, American Media Inc. (AMI), for its role in a scheme to tilt the presidential race in favor of Trump. In the agreement, AMI said it would cooperate with prosecutors and admitted it paid $150,000 to Karen McDougal before the 2016 election to silence her allegations of an affair with Trump. …

“According to the agreement, Pecker met with Cohen ‘and at least one other member of the campaign’ in August 2015. ‘At the meeting, Pecker offered to help deal with negative stories about that presidential candidate’s relationships with women by, among other things, assisting the campaign in identifying such stories so they could be purchased and their publication avoided. … Pecker agreed to keep Cohen apprised of any such negative stories.’ Prosecutors also allege that Pecker and AMI played a key role in the effort to silence Daniels. One month before the election in 2016, after an agent for Daniels informed National Enquirer editor Dylan Howard that Daniels intended to tell her story publicly, Pecker and Howard contacted Cohen. Soon after, Cohen negotiated a $130,000 deal to buy Daniels’ silence.”

(Ellison, Sarah & Farhi, Paul; “Publisher of the National Enquirer Admits to Hush Money Payments Made on Trump’s Behalf”; The Washington Post; 12/12/2018.)

Ouch

Now put this together with the immunity deal granted Allen Weisselberg, long-time Trump Organization chief financial officer. The full extent of damaging Trump-related information that he has offered up to prosecutors is not yet known. Until then, use your imagination — he’s the damn CFO of Trump Org.

One thing we do know about Weisselberg’s testimony, recently reported, is his answer to the question, Who in the Trump Organization is authorized to write checks? Weisselberg stated the list includes only himself, Donald, Don Jr., Ivanka, and Eric. We know that Cohen was reimbursed through book-cooking for his payments to Stormy. We can only wildly speculate about other Trump Org. expenses during the campaign. Not-so-wild speculation indicates legal exposure for the three oldest Trump offspring.

Recall that David Pecker’s immunity agreement said Pecker met with Cohen “and at least one other member of the [Trump] campaign” in August 2015.

Who was that “other member”? Was that “other member” authorized to write checks to AMI, Cohen, or their agents on behalf of Trump Org.?

Then there’s Michael Flynn. His sentencing agreement was redacted so much there were almost as many black bars as there were readable lines of text. This means there is much more to come out about Trumpian legal-Russia shenanigans. As many pundits have stated, plea cooperation deals are struck to go higher in the food chain, not lower. Who was higher up in the campaign and early administration than Michael Flynn? They already got Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen.

Prosecutors have met with Flynn 19 times since he began cooperating. They’ve logged almost 70 hours of interview time with Cohen.

Somebody higher up is going down.

On a Lighter Note

President Trump scheduled an Oval Office negotiating meeting Tuesday with Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), the two Congressional Democratic leaders. At the last minute, Donald called an audible and sprung the meeting open to the press, apparently thinking this would put Chuck and Nancy off guard and be an opportunity to play to his peeps about his passion for the border wall.

The meeting concerned budget negotiations, to keep the government open. The issues with the budget are that Trump wants $5 billion for his wall, while Democrats want the previously agreed-to $1.6 billion for general border security, excluding any wall money.

Here is the gist of it. Donald came off as a negotiating buffoon and general a**hole, his behavior continuing to contradict his claims of being the greatest dealmaker. Chuck confronted him on his multiple Pinocchios (lies). And Nancy called his bluffs and put him in his place. It was a sight to behold. I urge everyone to find the link and watch for yourselves.

Here are some highlights:

[NANCY PELOSI]: “I think the American people recognize that we must keep government open, that a shutdown is not worth anything, and that you should not have a Trump shutdown.”

[DONALD TRUMP]: “Ah, Wha…? Did you say ‘Trump?’”
__________

[NANCY PELOSI]: “There are no votes in the House, a majority of votes, for a wall, no matter where you [go].”

[DONALD TRUMP]: “If I needed the votes for the wall in the House, I would have them in one session; it would be done.”

[NANCY PELOSI]: “Well, then go do it. Go do it.”

[DONALD TRUMP]: “It doesn’t help for me to take a vote in the House where I will win easily with the Republicans.”

[NANCY PELOSI]: “You will not win.”
__________

[CHUCK SCHUMER]: “Yes, here’s what I wanted to say. We have a lot of disagreements here. The Washington Post today gave you a lot of Pinocchios, because they say you constantly misstate how much of the wall is built.” …

[DONALD TRUMP]: “The Washington Post.” (Donald smirks)
__________

[DONALD TRUMP]: “The wall is a part of border security. You can’t have border security without the wall.”

[NANCY PELOSI]: “That’s not true. That is a political promise. Border security is a way to effectively honor our responses.”
__________

[NANCY PELOSI]: “Sixty people of the Republican Party have lost — are losing their offices now because of the transition. People are not …”

[DONALD TRUMP]: “And we gained in the Senate. Nancy, we’ve gained in the Senate. Excuse me, did we win the Senate? We won the Senate.”

[CHUCK SCHUMER]: “When the president brags that he won North Dakota and Indiana, he’s in real trouble.”

[DONALD TRUMP]: “I did. We did. We did win North Dakota and Indiana.”
__________

[DONALD TRUMP]: “I also know that, you know, Nancy’s in a situation where it’s not easy for her to talk right now, and I understand, and I fully understand that. …”

[NANCY PELOSI]: “Mr. President, please don’t characterize the strength that I bring to this meeting as the leader of the House Democrats, who just won a big victory.”

[CHUCK SCHUMER]: “Elections have consequences, Mr. President.”
__________

[CHUCK SCHUMER]: “Twenty times — 20 times, you called for ‘I will shut down the government if I don’t get my wall.’ None of us has said …”

[DONALD TRUMP]: “You know what I’ll say? Yes. If we don’t get what we want one way or the other, whether it’s through you, through a military, through anything you want to call it, I will shut down the government, absolutely.”

[CHUCK SCHUMER]: “Okay, fair enough. We disagree. We disagree.”

[DONALD TRUMP]: “And I’ll tell you what, I am proud to shut down the government for border security. … So I will take the mantle. I will be the one to shut it down. I’m not going to blame you for it.” …

[CHUCK SCHUMER]: “But we believe you shouldn’t shut it down.”

Post-Meeting Comments

The president publicly was all peaches and cream after the meeting:

“Believe it or not, I think it was a very friendly meeting. You just saw the beginning of it.”

(Trump, Donald, R-N.Y., U.S. president; White House Q&A with reporters; 12/11/2018.)

But behind closed doors:

“‘[Trump] stormed out of the Oval, walked into an anteroom just off the Oval Office and had in his hand a folder of briefing papers. And he just scattered them out of frustration — threw them across the room,’ [Los Angeles Times White House correspondent Eli] Stokols said on MSNBC’s ‘Hardball,’ citing his own reporting with White House officials. … ‘His old New York sparring buddy, he felt, got the better of him,’ Stokols said.”

(Burke, Michael; “Reporter Says Trump ‘Stormed Out’ of Oval Office After Pelosi, Schumer Meeting”; The Hill; 12/11/2018.)

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) had her own take on the colloquy:

“[Trump] must have said the word ‘wall’ 30 times. … I was trying to be the mom, [but] it goes to show you: You get into a tinkle contest with a skunk, you get tinkle all over you. … It’s like a manhood thing with him — as if manhood can be associated with him — this wall thing.”

(Pelosi, Nancy, D-Calif., U.S. House representative, House Democratic leader, soon-to-be House Speaker; Democratic Steering Committee meeting; Capitol Hill; 12/11/2018.)

And the GOP is thinking “Art of the Deal,” indeed. Congressional Republicans couldn’t believe their ears: Trump will take the blame for the thing (government shutdown) politicians always blame the other side for.

“I don’t understand the strategy, but maybe he’s figured it out and he’ll tell us in due course. But I don’t understand it.”

(Cornyn, John, R-Texas, U.S. senator, second-highest ranking Senate Republican; Q&A with reporters; Capitol Hill; 12/12/2018.)

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Trump Corruption Chronicles — We Must Never Forget