Nel's New Day

May 10, 2019

DDT: Week 120 – Fear in the White House

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) is busy trying to divert people from what he fears most—open proof that he has committed crimes, especially against the United States. He claimed that the Mueller investigation and report prove “a strong no collusion conclusion,” but he doesn’t want the report released or testimony from Robert Mueller. By Friday he moved on to “essentially, no obstruction.” The man who ran his presidential campaign as the best businessman for the job has been terrified to release his tax returns. DDT has good cause because new discoveries show that his business ventures lost over $1 billion in the decade between 1985 and 1994 at the same time his ghost-written book The Art of the Deal was published. Later he whined that no one was doing well at that time—no one except his father, Fred Trump, who made $53.9 million in 1990 and 1991 with only one serious loss, $15 million invested in DDT’s apartment project. In several years, DDT lost more money than almost any other individual taxpayer. He claimed “almost all real estate developers did” what he did to “show losses for tax purposes.”

DDT called the information about his business failures “inaccurate Fake News” but didn’t refute specific reporting. He confirmed that he was created a huge “tax shelter” and considered it “sport” to play with tax returns and financial dealings. He’s also suing to keep his tax returns from going to the House, tax returns that could vindicate his claim if he isn’t lying. And DDT kept Fox. Brian Kilmeade said that the report “shows that he lost a lot of money over the course of 10 years—if you consider a billion dollars a lot of money” and that it shows he’s “a bold businessman.”

What DDT wants people to ignore:

Twice in the past month, White House officials, at DDT’s direction, asked DDT’s first White House counsel, Don McGahn, to say that he believes the president never obstructed justice in order to calm down DDT. McGahn won’t. DDT initially told McGahn to tell Mueller anything for the investigation and is now ordering McGahn to illegally refuse to appear for congressional testimony after receiving a subpoena.

DDT said that he would let his fixer AG Bill Barr decide whether Mueller would testify after DDT said that Mueller should not testify after DDT said that he would let Barr decide. Mueller has postponed his formerly scheduled testimony on May 15. The DOJ controls any Mueller testimony until Mueller quits. Then DDT would probably claim “executive privilege” as he did with Mueller’s report.

In less than a year, the U.S. national debt rose from $21 trillion to $22 trillion.

The House Judiciary Committee voted 24-16 to declare Barr in contempt for not providing them with the full Mueller report.

Almost 800 former federal prosecutors from both political parties have signed onto a letter stating that Mueller’s report shows anyone not protected “by the Office of Legal Counsel policy against indicting a sitting President” would face “multiple felony charges for obstruction of justice.”

The GOP-controlled Senate Intelligence Committee has subpoenaed Donald Trump Jr. to testify about the Russian interference in the 2016 election, especially his earlier testimony about a June 2016 meeting with Russians. Some GOP senators and DDT are highly upset about the testimony.

The New York state Senate voted in favor of legislation allowing them to give DDT’s state tax returns to congressional committees.

House Ways and Means Committee Chair Richard Neal (D-MA) announced that he subpoenaed DDT’s tax returns from Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig in accord with federal law Sec. 6103 of the tax code. Mnuchin said that Barr told him what to do.

The FBI is investigating DDT’s associate, Cindy Yang, to see if the Chinese are funneling money to DDT’s re-election campaign after DDT’s friend, New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, was arrested for soliciting prostitution in one of Yang’s former Florida massage parlor. Details here.

DDT lost an attempt to stonewall a House subpoena for financial records from his accounting firm: a federal judge agreed to fast-track the full case for an appeals court to hear the case by summer. The firm Mazar had agreed to provide these records if the House were to subpoena them.

The House passed a $17.2 supplemental billion disaster bill by 257-150 over DDT’s opposition because he doesn’t want to give more than $11 billion to Puerto Rico. He lies about giving the U.S. territory $91 billion and about giving Puerto Rico more than any state. Thirty-four GOP representatives voted for the bill.

DDT’s pick for FBI director, Christopher Wray, said that the investigation into the Russian involvement with the election and DDT is not “spying” as Barr declared under oath.

The House holds the nation’s purse strings, and its Oversight Committee has threatened to withhold wages from Interior Department employees preventing interviews with people who blocked lawmakers from interviewing employees about Secretary David’s Bernhardt’s complying with recordkeeping laws. Committee chair Elijah Cummings stated that salaries would not be paid to any “federal officer or employee who prevents another federal officer or employee from communicating directly with any member, committee, or subcommittee of Congress.”

New Treasury Department requirements reveal more about DDT’s money laundering for the ruling Sassou-Nguesso family of Congo, former Haitian dictator Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier, former Transportation Minister Ziya Mammadov of Azerbaijan, former Kazakhstani official and oligarch Timur Kulibayev, former Almaty mayor Viktor Khrapunov of Kazakhstan, special Philippines envoy to the U.S. for Trade, Investment, and Economic Affairs Jose E.B. Antonio, vice presidential candidate and billionaire Hary Tanoesoedibjo (Hary Tanoe) of Indonesia, and former Soviet official Tevfik Arif. There might be many more.

National “security” adviser John Bolton is looking for a war for the U.S. Last Sunday, he falsely claimed that a long-scheduled deployment of a U.S. aircraft carrier and bomber task force to the Middle East was to oppose Iran. His comment comes on top of intensifying sanctions against Iran. Bolton also wants a war with Venezuela’s legally-elected president, but DDT disagrees after his long telephone call with Vladimir Putin. Another DDT reason to quit attacking Nicholas Maduro is DDT’s sale of a luxury ocean-view property in the Dominican Republic to a “mysterious shell company” possibly connected to the Maduro regime.

The “fake news” about Iran has come from Israel that will do anything to cause trouble between Iran and the U.S. In return to increased sanctions and other threats from the U.S. to eliminate oil experts through the Strait of Hormuz, Iran has threatened that if the U.S. chokes off its oil exports that exit the Persian Gulf through the Strait of Hormuz, Iran will close the Strait to other nations. Because 30 percent of the world’s oil shipments use this route, Saudi Arabia could benefit, but a global crash could ensue. Nixon’s gas price surge from his rescue of Israel in the 1973 Yom Kippur War accelerated the drive for his impeachment. Two weeks ago, oil prices shot up to a six-month high after the U.S. refused to renew all Iranian oil waivers and warned China, India, Japan, South Korea, and Turkey of sanctions if they didn’t comply: China, India, Japan, South Korea, and Turkey.  Secretary of State Mike Pompeo joked about “the idea of a coup” in Iran.

DDT seems to be almost as afraid of North Korea’s president, Kim Jong-Un, as he is of Russia’s Vladimir Putin. After giving Kim everything he wants—propaganda, stature, and cessation of military exercises—Kim continues making and test-firing a “tactical guided weapon.” Meanwhile, DDT falsely tells reporters that “there’s been no tests.” After the tests, DDT tweeted that dictator Kim “knows that I am with him.” North Korea launched short-range ballistic missiles at least twice this week, the second time while DDT’s special envoy was in the country and both based on a Russian design. The U.S. also seized a North Korean ship flouting sanctions by carrying banned exports of coal. China has said that it will not take part in three-way nuclear talks with the United States and Russia.

China seems to be ahead in DDT’s trade war. He’s so desperate from his failure in negotiations that he’s claiming that he will give all the money he gets from tariffs to buy U.S. agricultural products—supposedly more than China would buy—and sent this food to other countries where people are starving. All the people in the U.S. paying more for products from China to cover tariffs send food away from starving people in the U.S. Agricultural Secretary Sonny Perdue said he doesn’t know anything about more aid for farmers.

DDT seems to have dumped Kim Jong-Un for Xi Jinping. After bragging about “beautiful letters” from the North Korean president last year, DDT now says that the president of China sent him a “beautiful letter.”

[Note: Those who wish to read more about the news above and/or factcheck the material may wish to use the links.]

April 24, 2019

‘A Serious Crime against America’

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) has declared war on the U.S. Congress while treating members as if they work for him instead of being in a separate and equal branch of the government. The Robert Mueller investigation closed down soon after the Senate confirmed DDT’s new fixer, Bill Barr, as the U.S. attorney general—a position that is supposed to be independent of the President of the United States. Now DDT is trying to block every House investigation into his actions.

Details in DDT’s Finances: DDT’s accounting firm Mazars USA told House Oversight Committee Chair Elijah Cummings (D-MD) that it would give him ten years of DDT’s financial statements if they received a subpoena after DDT’s former fixer, Michael Cohen, said that DDT had participated in possible bank fraud by inflating or deflating his assets to get loans and avoid real estate taxes. First, DDT’s lawyers threatened the firm with legal action if it follows the law and then sued Cummings to block the subpoena using the 1880 Supreme Court ruling in Kilbourn v. Thompson. That case was overruled by a 1927 decision.

Testimony from DDT’s Former White House Counsel: Trying to block Don McGahn’s testimony from Don McGahn by invoking executive privilege, DDT had earlier told McGahn that he could talk freely with Robert Mueller and failed to claim executive privilege in the release of the Mueller report. McGahn testified to Mueller that DDT told McGahn about DDT’s attempt to fire Robert Mueller. Not only does McGahn work in the government now, he worked for the people of the United States, not DDT. About McGahn’s declaring executive privilege, former federal counsel Jessica Roth said, “That ship has sailed.”

DDT’s Tax Records: Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin is still dragging his heels in turning over DDT’s tax returns to the House Ways and Means Committee, saying that he will decide by May 6. Committee Chair Richard E. Neal (D-MA) has a century-old law for his request. DDT’s lawyer wrote the Treasury Department to stop the tax returns from being handed over to House Democrats.

DDT’s Security Clearance Process: The Oversight Committee is also investigating whether people with drug, criminal, or financial problems received top-secret security clearances because of DDT’s demands. DDT’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is one of the clearance recipients. The House subpoenaed Carl Kline, the person responsible for giving clearances after people failed the vetting, who also retaliated against the woman who reported his actions. DDT told Kline, as he told other aides, to ignore all subpoenas to appear before the House committee. Cummings warned that Kline could be held in contempt if he doesn’t appear.

Today, the Washington Post published an op-ed about the need for a response to DDT’s actions that was written by former First Lady, U.S. Senator, Secretary of State, and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton:

Our election was corrupted, our democracy assaulted, our sovereignty and security violated. This is the definitive conclusion of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s report. It documents a serious crime against the American people.

The debate about how to respond to Russia’s “sweeping and systematic” attack — and how to hold President Trump accountable for obstructing the investigation and possibly breaking the law — has been reduced to a false choice: immediate impeachment or nothing. History suggests there’s a better way to think about the choices ahead.

Obviously, this is personal for me, and some may say I’m not the right messenger. But my perspective is not just that of a former candidate and target of the Russian plot. I am also a former senator and secretary of state who served during much of Vladi­mir Putin’s ascent, sat across the table from him and knows firsthand that he seeks to weaken our country.

I am also someone who, by a strange twist of fate, was a young staff attorney on the House Judiciary Committee’s Watergate impeachment inquiry in 1974, as well as first lady during the impeachment process that began in 1998. And I was a senator for New York after 9/11, when Congress had to respond to an attack on our country. Each of these experiences offers important lessons for how we should proceed today.

First, like in any time our nation is threatened, we have to remember that this is bigger than politics. What our country needs now is clear-eyed patriotism, not reflexive partisanship. Whether they like it or not, Republicans in Congress share the constitutional responsibility to protect the country. Mueller’s report leaves many unanswered questions — in part because of Attorney General William P. Barr’s redactions and obfuscations. But it is a road map. It’s up to members of both parties to see where that road map leads — to the eventual filing of articles of impeachment, or not. Either way, the nation’s interests will be best served by putting party and political considerations aside and being deliberate, fair and fearless.

Second, Congress should hold substantive hearings that build on the Mueller report and fill in its gaps, not jump straight to an up-or-down vote on impeachment. In 1998, the Republican-led House rushed to judgment. That was a mistake then and would be a mistake now.

Watergate offers a better precedent. Then, as now, there was an investigation that found evidence of corruption and a coverup. It was complemented by public hearings conducted by a Senate select committee, which insisted that executive privilege could not be used to shield criminal conduct and compelled White House aides to testify. The televised hearings added to the factual record and, crucially, helped the public understand the facts in a way that no dense legal report could. Similar hearings with Mueller, former White House counsel Donald McGahn and other key witnesses could do the same today.

During Watergate, the House Judiciary Committee also began a formal impeachment inquiry that was led by John Doar, a widely respected former Justice Department official and hero of the civil rights struggle. He was determined to run a process that the public and history would judge as fair and thorough, no matter the outcome. If today’s House proceeds to an impeachment inquiry, I hope it will find someone as distinguished and principled as Doar to lead it.

Third, Congress can’t forget that the issue today is not just the president’s possible obstruction of justice — it’s also our national security. After 9/11, Congress established an independent, bipartisan commission to recommend steps that would help guard against future attacks. We need a similar commission today to help protect our elections. This is necessary because the president of the United States has proved himself unwilling to defend our nation from a clear and present danger. It was just reported that Trump’s recently departed secretary of homeland security tried to prioritize election security because of concerns about continued interference in 2020 and was told by the acting White House chief of staff not to bring it up in front of the president. This is the latest example of an administration that refuses to take even the most minimal, common-sense steps to prevent future attacks and counter ongoing threats to our nation.

Fourth, while House Democrats pursue these efforts, they also should stay focused on the sensible agenda that voters demanded in the midterms, from protecting health care to investing in infrastructure. During Watergate, Congress passed major legislation such as the War Powers Act, the Endangered Species Act and the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1973. For today’s Democrats, it’s not only possible to move forward on multiple fronts at the same time, it’s essential. The House has already passed sweeping reforms that would strengthen voting rights and crack down on corruption, and now is the time for Democrats to keep their foot on the gas and put pressure on the do-nothing Senate. It’s critical to remind the American people that Democrats are in the solutions business and can walk and chew gum at the same time.

We have to get this right. The Mueller report isn’t just a reckoning about our recent history; it’s also a warning about the future. Unless checked, the Russians will interfere again in 2020, and possibly other adversaries, such as China or North Korea, will as well. This is an urgent threat. Nobody but Americans should be able to decide America’s future. And, unless he’s held accountable, the president may show even more disregard for the laws of the land and the obligations of his office. He will likely redouble his efforts to advance Putin’s agenda, including rolling back sanctions, weakening NATO and undermining the European Union.

Of all the lessons from our history, the one that’s most important may be that each of us has a vital role to play as citizens. A crime was committed against all Americans, and all Americans should demand action and accountability. Our founders envisioned the danger we face today and designed a system to meet it. Now it’s up to us to prove the wisdom of our Constitution, the resilience of our democracy and the strength of our nation.

This week, DDT said, “I’m the most transparent president in history” while he objects to all subpoenas about his taxes and financial affairs, vetting for security clearances, testimony for the Mueller investigation, and holds secret meetings.

George Conway, husband of top White House official Kellyanne Conway, said about Clinton’s op-ed: “I’m with her.” So am I.

August 29, 2018

White House Counsel Latest, But Not Only, to ‘Resign’

As Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) continues to threaten his AG Jeff Sessions with firing, journalists have watched for a shakeup in the Department of Justice or even the firing of special investigator Robert Mueller. Yet the “resignation” of Don McGahn, the White House counsel, has resulted in dismay.

It’s true that McGahn has been making noises about leaving the White House and that DDT was caught off-guard when he learned about McGahn’s 30 hours of testimony with Mueller President Trump’s advisers. But McGahn himself was surprised when DDT tweeted this morning that he was leaving; McGahn had hoped that he would stay to shepherd Supreme Court justice nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, through the confirmation process.

And it’s not as if DDT has lots of legal help if Democrats take over the House and subpoena all the people who the GOP had been sheltering. Or even worse for DDT, if Democrats started impeachment proceedings. With Democratic control, House committees could hold hearings about policies such as DDT’s travel ban, his “zero tolerance” answer to immigration separating children and families, and various ethical misconduct through DDT, his administration, and his family’s private businesses.

Having lost ten lawyers, the White House has about 25. Three of McGahn’s deputies already left, and a fourth goes Friday, leaving only one deputy counsel, the ethics czar who handles national security.

WaPo interviewed 26 White House officials, presidential advisers, and lawyers and strategists close to the administration to investigate this situation. McGahn understood the danger of impeachment: he and other aides tried to persuade DDT to not behave in any way that could lead to being impeached. DDT obviously has not tried this tack, and he also has no action plan if impeachment comes into play. Speaking on the record, DDT’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani said that he had talked to DDT about impeachment but “they can’t [criminally] charge him.” Giuliani’s advice has not been very useful to DDT.

A source of anxiety among DDT’s allies is that he and White House officials aren’t worried about Democratic control. DDT thinks that he can get enough Republicans elected to Congress to save him, and he sometimes becomes angry with advisers who raise “the i-word,” his term for impeachment. An ally said:

“Winter is coming. Assuming Democrats win the House, which we all believe is a very strong likelihood, the White House will be under siege. But it’s like tumbleweeds rolling down the halls over there. Nobody’s prepared for war.”

Allies are also concerned that the White House, which has not attracted top-notch talent, may have more problems if Democrats take the House. Aides may leave the sinking ship, fearing legal limbo and hefty lawyer fees just because of their positions near DDT. At this time, the White House can hardly handle crisis communications in distributing strong talking points, and potential battles will cause more difficulties. Because DDT sees only himself as the focus, he cannot grasp the size of an infrastructure necessary to protect the presidency such as Clinton had with scores of lawyers, communications staffers, and other strategists during his impeachment. White House counsel at that time said that his office had as many as 60 lawyers during key times.

DDT found himself in enough trouble during his first 18 months, but McGahn kept him from worse times. He refused to fire Mueller a year ago after DDT gave him the order. When Sessions considered resigning early in his term because of DDT’s vicious statements, McGahn persuaded him to stay. And McGahn knows where the bodies are buried and may tell Mueller about their locations. DDT ordered McGahn to tell Sessions not to recuse himself from the Russian investigation and heard from then-Acting Attorney General Sally Yates that DDT’s national security adviser Michael Flynn was lying about the nature of his contact with Russian officials.

The relationship between DDT and McGahn has become so strained that they “kind of avoided each other,” according to a former administration official. DDT was upset because McGahn didn’t “kowtow to him,” and DDT’s tweet guaranteed that McGahn would have to go—and soon. He was also furious because McGahn would not deny the story of DDT’s wanting to fire Mueller and tried to persuade his disgraced former staff secretary, Rob Porter, to warn McGahn that he would fire him then. McGahn also opposed DDT’s pardoning Paul Manafort, which may have driven DDT over the edge.

DDT envies the skilled lawyers for aides such as Abbe Lowell, representing Kushner, and William A. Burck, representing McGahn, Reince Priebus, and Steve Bannon, and considers adding Lowell to his very small legal team. DDT is also considering replacing McGahn with Emmet Flood, his White House strategist with the Mueller probe.

DDT may be losing another lawyer. DOJ is investigating a team of lawyers which includes trial lawyer Bobby Burchfield, independent ethics adviser for the DDT’s family business interests, for accepting tens of millions of dollars in laundered funds. Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and DDT’s longtime lawyer Marc Kasowitz are also part of the legal team in trouble. Jho Low, a fugitive Malaysian businessman with assets in the U.S., allegedly paid the lawyers from $4.5 billion embezzled from a Malaysian fund.

On her show, Rachel Maddow mocked DDT’s reason for hiring Burchfield to avoid setting up a trust for his business after he was inaugurated:

“Don’t worry, we’re hiring an outside ethics adviser to make sure everything is squeaky clean for me to be the first president in modern history to retain his business interests while still serving as president. We have an outside adviser. Rest assured, there will be no funny money sliding through anywhere, nothing the least bit smelly in this unclean office fridge, everything will be fine.’”

According to Bloomberg News, DDT is considering hiring Burchfield as White House counsel or to replace Jeff Sessions as AG.

Another fired White House staff member, after a failure of DDT’s promise for “extreme vetting,” is policy aide and speechwriter Darren Beattie, who spoke at the 2016 H.L. Mencken Club Conference. Named for the early 20th century, journalist, satirist, and racist, the group caters to white nationalists such as Richard Spencer. Peter Brimelow, John Derbyshire, and Robert Weissberg, the latter two fired by the conservative magazine National Review for racist views, presented at the conference. Other speakers at the conference regularly contribute to the white nationalist website VDare. Beattie tried to stay at the White House with the claim that he presented uncontroversial academic information before he was fired. White House departures—it’s the new normal.

Larry Kudlow, DDT’s top economic adviser, hosted Peter Brimelow, the publisher of a website that serves as a platform for white nationalism, in his home. The birthday gathering for Kudlow was the day after Beattie spoke on a panel with Brimelow. Kudlow said he had no idea that Brimelow promoted white supremacists on Vdare.com and claimed to be a civil rights Republican. (The extent of ignorance in the White House is amazing!)

A true—and sad—resignation came from Seth Frotman, formerly the top U.S. official overseeing the $1.5 trillion student loan market at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. As part of his goal to destroy the agency, acting director and DDT’s budget director, Mick Mulvaney, downgraded the student loan office mission, putting it under consumer education instead of enforcement. Before that happened, the office had protected student borrowers and returned $750 million to students who were unfairly treated. Frotman said he resigned because of the White House’s open hostility toward protecting the borrowers. His letter to Mulvaney stated:

“Unfortunately, under your leadership, the Bureau has abandoned the very consumers it is tasked by Congress with protecting. Instead, you have used the Bureau to serve the wishes of the most powerful financial companies in America….

“Sadly, the damage you have done to the Bureau betrays these families and sacrifices the financial futures of millions of Americans in communities across the country.”

The Bureau will soon have a new director, Kathy Kraninger, who looked to Mulvaney as her mentor. The Banking Committee approved her nomination by a party line of 13-12 on its way to a full Senate vote. Kraninger, who admitted that she is unqualified for her new position, avoided answering questions about any accomplishments at her job at OMB and doesn’t know what she would do when confirmed. She was also instrumental in DDT’s “zero-tolerance” immigration policy but refused to answer any questions about her involvement, including with the private prison company with facilities that participated in abuse, sexual violence, neglect, and mismanagement.

DDT’s swinging door spins.

August 24, 2018

DDT: Week 83 – Treading Water

Last Tuesday was a day of eights—Michael Cohen, the fixer for Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), pleaded guilty to eight counts, and Paul Manafort, DDT’s former campaign manager, was found guilty of eight counts. Covers from two major U.S. publications show DDT’s troubles, but the next few weeks may get worse.

Cohen’s “unnamed candidate” is obviously DDT regarding payments to Stormy Daniels “in coordination and at the direction of a candidate for federal office” and Karen McDougal “under direction of the same candidate.” The fixer said that “I participated in this conduct for the principal purpose” of influencing an election. He claimed that DDT told him to pay two women in violation of campaign finance laws to keep them from going public about DDT’s affairs with them. Cohen’s investigation has been referred to New York’s Southern District; Lanny Davis, Cohen’s lawyer, tweeted:

“Today [Cohen] stood up and testified under oath that Donald Trump directed him to commit a crime by making payments to two women for the principal purpose of influencing an election.  If those payments were a crime for Michael Cohen, then why wouldn’t they be a crime for Donald Trump?”

The Trump Organization may also be in trouble after authorizing $420,000 in these payments with false invoices from Cohen concealing the purpose of the payments. An executive ordered the fees to Cohen to be described as legal expenses using the words “retainer for the month of January and February 2017.” The Manhattan D.A. is also looking into criminal charges for the Trump Organization because of Cohen’s payments and possible tax evasion by Cohen. He was also paid $50,000 for “tech services” six months after he was talking to Russians in Prague, but this may have nothing to do with any hacking. Falsifying business records becomes a felony if done to commit or conceal another crime. DDT can pardon people convicted of federal charges but not those who lose in non-federal courts. The New York State AG’s office is opening a criminal investigation into possibilities that Cohen violated state law tax.

Cohen’s plea reveals that David Pecker, head of the National Enquirer parent company American Media and DDT’s close friend, “offered to help deal with negative stories about [DDT’s] relationships with women by, among other things, assisting the [2016] campaign in identifying such stories so they could be purchased and their publication avoided.” Stories were locked in a safe. The prosecution granted Pecker immunity for testifying. The First Amendment protecting journalism probably won’t be a successful argument against the Enquirer because it failed to operate in a “legitimate press function” by promoting DDT and destroying his opponents, especially Hillary Clinton, frequently with false stories. Federal prosecutors believed the publication “acted more as a political supporter than as a news organization.”

Also granted immunity is Allen Weisselberg, Trump Organization CFO who helped reimburse the $420,000 for Michael Cohen. Weisselberg began working for DDT’s father in the 1970s and continued on with DDT, also serving as treasurer of the Donald J. Trump Foundation which is also in court for fraud. He also handled all DDT’s personal finances.

On the same day as Cohen’s pleading, a jury found Paul Manafort guilty of eight charges; one holdout juror stopped guilty rulings on the other ten despite the paper trail that the other jurors showed her. He was found guilty of five tax fraud charges, one charge of hiding foreign bank accounts, and two counts of bank fraud. Manafort’s next trial in a Washington, D.C. federal court includes more criminal charges such as failure to register his foreign lobbying and money laundering conspiracy related to the same Ukrainian political work central to the concluded case. At 69, he faces up to 80 years in prison.

After DDT denied that he considered a pardon for Manafort, Rudy Giuliani said that he talked about such a pardon with DDT after the ones for Scooter Libby and Dinesh D’Souza. Mueller is investigating these pardons as a possible obstruction of justice; pardoning Manafort could add to that evidence.

Sentencing for former national security advisor Michael Flynn has been pushed forward from August 24 to September 17.

GOP legislators are mum on the Manafort/Cohen revelations, but highly conservative Bret Stephens tweeted that DDT is guilty of “high crimes and misdemeanors.”  DDT ranted against Cohen and then claimed that his crime was no more than Barack Obama’s campaign violations—routine paperwork without intent for wrongdoing that included incorrect dates, not quickly returning donations exceeding campaign limits, and missing filing deadlines during his campaign’s final weeks. Cohen’s crimes carry a maximum prison time of 65 years.

DDT wants to make “flipping” for testimony illegal, perhaps because of the people who have flipped on him—Cohen, Michael Flynn, Rick Gates, Dylan Howard, Omarosa Manigault Newman, George Papadoulous, Pecker, and Weisselberg.

A U.S. judge dismissed a libel case from three Russian oligarchs against Christopher Steele, author of the infamous Steele dossier about the Russian scandal, about their claim that Steele and his firm had defamed them. A Steele memo reported that the oligarchs, Alfa Group businessmen, gave Vladimir Putin “informal advice” on foreign policy, especially about the U.S., and concerns the issue of Russian interference in the U.S. 2016 election. One of the oligarchs, German Khan, is the father-in-law of Alex van der Zwaan, the first person sentenced to prison in Robert Mueller’s Russian investigation.

People who claim that the Russian investigation has accomplished nothing in the past year should check the statistics: one person convicted, six people pleading guilty, 26 people charged, and 23 people interviewed (seven in White House, seven in government, three from Russia, and six others). DDT claims that it’s a “witch hunt”: his “witches” thus far convicted include his national security advisor, his personal lawyer, his campaign manager, his deputy campaign manager, and his foreign policy aide. Legal leaders of ethics groups wrote:

“The trial evidence included Mr. Manafort’s close ties to pro-Russia forces and his desperate financial straits as he ‘volunteered’ his time for the next president. The trial revealed how willing Mr. Manafort was to corruptly leverage his position of influence over Mr. Trump during the campaign for his own personal benefit. He offered briefings to a pro-Russia Ukrainian oligarch and dangled a position in the Trump administration in front of a banker who provided him a loan for which he would not otherwise have qualified….

“This is no “witch hunt.” It instead is one of the most successful special counsel investigations in history.”

The White House counsel, Don McGahn, testified to Mueller’s investigation for 30 hours, and neither DDT nor his lawyers know what McGahn said. In a rant against a New York Times story, DDT tweeted that he gave permission to McGahn to testify and “I have nothing to hide.” Yet DDT has not testified for the investigation or released his tax returns.

DDT’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani (right) melted down on Meet the Press when he repeatedly told Chuck Todd that “truth isn’t truth,” a statement that went viral. DDT and his lawyers declare that McGahn said nothing that could create problems for DDT, but speculators wonder if McGahn is protecting himself. McGahn has clearly stated that he protects the presidency, not the person in that position, although DDT looks on him as his personal lawyer. Last fall, a reporter overheard DDT layers John Dodd and Ty Cobb criticizing McGahn, information that led him to think that he would be blamed for DDT’s wrongdoing.

Giuliani may be safety ensconced on a DDT golf course in Scotland and garbed in DDT advertising, but he’s spreading the word than any move to impeach DDT would cause a revolution in the U.S. That was after DDT announced on Fox that impeachment would cause the stock market to crash and “everybody would be very poor.”

Early last week, DDT compared the investigation to McCarthyism. Roy Cohn, the lawyer who helped Sen. Joe McCarthy (R-WI) accuse people of treason without evidence, worked for DDT for 12 years. With Cohn as his mentor, DDT learned how to be a demagogue, to rule by threats and fear.

For almost a year, DDT didn’t mention Robert Mueller’s name, but a few months ago, he began his offensive comments against Mueller and his team, calling them all Democrats although Mueller is a conservative Republican. As he described Mueller “disgraced and discredited” and his team “thugs,” approval of the investigation dropped, but the latest Fox poll shows that DDT’s strategy no longer works. Approval of Mueller’s investigation is 59 percent from the conservative network, up from 48 percent in July—almost a 25 percent increase. Forty percent think that the investigation will find DDT’s criminal or impeachable offenses, up 5 points.

Leading Republicans have a solution for the Russian scandal, convictions, plea deals, indictments, etc.—shut down the investigation and get rid of AG Jeff Sessions. Senate Judiciary Chair Chuck Grassley (R-IA) suddenly found time for hearings if DDT appoints a new AG, and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) decided that Sessions might not be “qualified for the job [of AG]” after vigorously defending him for that position and ignored Sessions’ lying under oath in the hearings. One year ago, Graham told DDT that “there will be holy hell to pay” if he fires AG Jeff Sessions and dared DDT to “accept the consequences” if he made such a move. Now, after DDT’s most recent criticisms of Sessions, Graham recommends firing Sessions who has said that the DOJ “will not be improperly influenced by political considerations.” Maybe Graham’s turn-around comes from all the games of golf he plays with DDT.

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