Relax, Everyone: Donald Trump Is Still A F*cking Criminal
HOLY ACHTUNG TWITTER IS FREAKING OUT! Special Counsel Robert Mueller's office (SCO) has issued a statement, almost 24 full hours after Buzzfeed's story on Donald Trump ordering Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about the failed Trump Tower Moscow deal started blowing everybody's minds. Mueller's spokesman says actually BuzzFeed got it a bit wrong. This is significant because 1) Mueller's office NEVER talks, and B) well, they're not actually saying BuzzFeed got it WRONG wrong. Just, you know, kinda wrong.
Wow, that statement is lawyered as fuck. BuzzFeed described "specific statements" wrong, and its "characterization of documents and testimony" was just an eensy bit off, and maybe if BuzzFeed moved this sofa over here it would take advantage of more natural light in the room, and honestly, BuzzFeed should trim up this one paragraph of its article, because those sentences DO NOT SPARK MARIE KONDO'S JOY.
Otherwise, it's great!
First of all, we want everybody to relax. Donald Trump is still a criminal.
Have you guys even seen All The President's Men, where Woodward and Bernstein got a thing
and everybody was like "YOU FUCKUPS!" and the Nixon administration was like "OBAMA, YOU LIE"? Woodward and Bernstein had only fucked up a little thing -- something Nixon campaign treasurer Hugh Sloan Jr. had supposedly told a grand jury about how Nixon Chief of Staff H.R. Haldeman had the keys to a secret campaign fund "used for sabotage and espionage against the president's opponents." And he did have the keys! But Sloan didn't tell the grand jury that little detail. He told Woodward and Bernstein. But they said he told the grand jury, in the newspaper! YOU FUCKUPS!
This reminds us of that.
Let's hop back to that highly lawyered statement from SCO. BuzzFeed, according to SCO, got "specific statements" wrong, and its "characterization of documents and testimony" was not accurate. Does this mean Trump didn't tell Michael Cohen to lie at all, but that he was just freelancing? Nah, we don't think so, especially if we look at the Nov. 30, 2017, sentencing memo submitted by Cohen's lawyers, which admits that Cohen was in contact with Trump and his people, and that all the messaging on the Trump Tower Moscow project was highly coordinated:
Got that? But stay with us for a sec. Because in that same memo, Cohen's lawyers explain why they address Cohen's campaign finance violations and Cohen's false statements to Congress on the Moscow Trump Tower deal in the same section:
We address the campaign finance and false statements allegations together because both arose from Michael's fierce loyalty to Client-1. In each case, the conduct was intended to benefit Client-1, in accordance with Client-1's directives. Michael regrets that his vigor in promoting Client-1's interests in the heat of political battle led him to abandon good judgment and cross legal lines.
IN ACCORDANCE WITH CLIENT-1'S DIRECTIVES. It's right there in this fuckin' document we've had for almost two months now!
While we're at it, we should note that Robert Mueller's sentencing memo for Cohen also says this:
While Cohen was writing out his lies to Congress, he was in "close and regular contact" with the Trump White House and Trump's lawyers. He was on message. Did Trump give him a specific order? Or were "Client-1's directives" in one case different from how they were in the other?
Marcy Wheeler notes that in the very same sentencing memorandum submitted by Cohen's lawyers, their language is not quite the same about Trump's direction of Cohen's lies to Congress and Trump's very literal orders to Cohen to do campaign finance law-breaking porn payoffs to women:
With respect to the conduct charged in these Counts, Michael kept his client contemporaneously informed and acted on his client's instructions. This is not an excuse, and Michael accepts that he acted wrongfully. Nevertheless, we respectfully request that the Court consider that as personal counsel to Client-1, Michael felt obligated to assist Client-1, on Client-1's instruction, to attempt to prevent Woman-1 and Woman-2 from disseminating narratives that would adversely affect the Campaign and cause personal embarrassment to Client-1 and his family.
So maybe BuzzFeed isn't WRONG. It's just ... well ... you know ... it's nuanced! And maybe there is a a difference of opinion on what constitutes Trump "ordering" Cohen to lie.
Many of the very smart people we follow on Twitter are pretty sure the "law enforcement officials" who are BuzzFeed's sources are close to the Southern District of New York (SDNY), where Cohen's case originated, and which, unlike Mueller's office, is leaky like a great big motherfucker. So maybe people close to SDNY's orbit saw documents from Trump Organization people and BuzzFeed is mistaken about what Mueller feels those documents reveal? Or the SDNY sources are reading the same evidence with a lot more FLAIR than SCO is? Lordy, we wish there were tapes!
Regardless, we agree with all of those tweeting that Mueller is probably dick-slapping SDNY with his fists right about now.
As many lawyers on Twitter have noted, without a "direct order," it's very hard for prosecutors to prove this type of obstruction of justice beyond a reasonable doubt. So we think Mueller is saying BuzzFeed got a little bit ahead of its skis, because yeah, Mueller knows Cohen lied because Trump and everybody around Trump wanted him to, but Mueller doesn't quite have a smoking gun recording of Trump saying "GO MAKE LIKE A COMMON TRUMP AND LIE TO CONGRESS." In other words, slow your roll, y'all, and SHUT THE GODDAMNED FUCK UP, SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK.
BuzzFeed has issued a response, saying they're "continuing to report and determine what the special counsel is disputing. We remain confident in the accuracy of our report." Meanwhile, BuzzFeed news editor Ben Smith noted on MSNBC's "All In With Chris Hayes" that BuzzFeed went to the special counsel's office for comment before the story went up (as the original story states), and as usual, SCO declined to comment. Smith added on "The Rachel Maddow Show" that they have no frickin' clue about MUELLER, WHAT IS U DOIN? and that BuzzFeed's sources are standing by their own story.
In summary and in conclusion, Robert Mueller never made a statement to say no he did not have any evidence that Michael Cohen secretly went to Prague in late summer of 2016, as the Steele Dossier alleges in one of its juiciest unverified scoops, because that trip was allegedly to meet with Russians involved in the ratfucking of the election, and perhaps might have even included discussions of how to pay the hackers.
Remember how at the end of All The President's Men, Nixon had to resign in disgrace anyway, even though Woodward and Bernstein accidentally drew dicks all over one of their news stories?
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