Lawsplainer: Does Trump's Lawyer Going To Jail Exonerate Trump?
Time for another episode of Poppy's Bad Tweets, wherein we answer the eternal question, DOES COMMANDER TWITTER THUMBS HAVE A POINT, OR IS HE JUST SMOCKING CRACK?
(Spoiler alert ....)
“Democrats can’t find a Smocking Gun tying the Trump campaign to Russia after James Comey’s testimony. No Smocking… https://t.co/FDEsflAVZ5— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump)1544442371.0
....which it was not (but even if it was, it is only a CIVIL CASE, like Obama’s - but it was done correctly by a la… https://t.co/4LC5DD8fR7— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump)1544443200.0
Yeah, About That NO COLLUSION...
The President may think reading is for losers, but a quick glance at the Special Counsel's sentencing memorandum shows that the Trump campaign was ass-deep in Russians in 2015 and 2016.
First, the defendant [Michael Cohen] provided information about his own contacts with Russian interests during the campaign and discussions with others in the course of making those contacts. For example, and as described above, the defendant provided a detailed account of his involvement and the involvement of others in the Moscow Project, and also corrected the record concerning his outreach to the Russian government during the week of the United Nations General Assembly. The defendant also provided information about attempts by other Russian nationals to reach the campaign. For example, in or around November 2015, Cohen received the contact information for, and spoke with, a Russian national who claimed to be a "trusted person" in the Russian Federation who could offer the campaign "political synergy" and "synergy on a government level." The defendant recalled that this person repeatedly proposed a meeting between Individual 1 and the President of Russia. The person told Cohen that such a meeting could have a "phenomenal" impact "not only in political but in a business dimension as well," referring to the Moscow Project, because there is "no bigger warranty in any project than consent of [the President of Russia]."
We don't yet know whether the moron squad running Trump's election efforts was a willing collaborator or simply a grateful recipient of Russian ratfucking. But we do know that both Poppy Trump and Jared were negotiating with banks who couldn't do business unless the Magnitsky sanctions were lifted. And we know that DJ gladly took a meeting with Russians offering sexxxxxy dirts on Hillary's BUT HER EMAILS. And we know that Michael Flynn secretly discussed lifting those sanctions with the Russian Ambassador and then lied about it to the FBI.
So, yeah, COLLUSION.
Paying for Sex Is a 'Private Transaction.' Paying Your Lawyer to Bury the Sex Payment in His Legal Bills Is a Crime.
Have we mentioned how palpably furious the Southern District of New York is with Michael Cohen? We have. But let's just say it again -- these people are outraged as lawyers that Cohen disgraced the profession.
It is also unique because Cohen managed to commit a panoply of serious crimes, all while holding himself out as a licensed attorney and upstanding member of the bar. His offenses strike at several pillars of our society and system of government: the payment of taxes; transparent and fair elections; and truthfulness before government and in business.
If Cohen and Trump had simply conspired to hide the $130,000 payoff to Stormy Daniels in his legal bills and use Trump Organization funds to pay it off, that would still be a financial crime. But SDNY made Cohen explicitly admit to coordinating the payments with Trump to keep them secret to influence the election, which is electoral fraud.
First, Cohen's commission of two campaign finance crimes on the eve of the 2016 election for President of the United States struck a blow to one of the core goals of the federal campaign finance laws: transparency. While many Americans who desired a particular outcome to the election knocked on doors, toiled at phone banks, or found any number of other legal ways to make their voices heard, Cohen sought to influence the election from the shadows. He did so by orchestrating secret and illegal payments to silence two women who otherwise would have made public their alleged extramarital affairs with Individual-1. In the process, Cohen deceived the voting public by hiding alleged facts that he believed would have had a substantial effect on the election.
And, by the by, Trump seems to have omitted this debt to Michael Cohen from his 2016 financial disclosures -- the ones he unsuccessfully fought to submit unsigned. But we're wondering if the Trump Org deducted that "private transaction" as a business expense on its 2017 returns. Only Robert Mueller and the SDNY know for sure!
What the Hell Does Obama Have to Do With Anything?
In the waning days of the 2008 election, the Obama campaign was deluged with small donations. In the final weeks of a campaign, the FEC requires reporting within 48 hours any donations over $1,000. The Obama campaign was late reporting the identities of 1,312 donors responsible for less than $2 million of contributions -- i.e., 0.25 percent of all money raised. They screwed up the accounting and paid a fine of $375,000. THE END.
That is a far cry from deliberately violating campaign finance law to hide multiple porn star payouts so evangelicals in Iowa can pretend that they're pulling the trigger for a Man of God. Because money laundering, illegal campaign finance donations, falsifying business records, and filing false tax forms are crimes. And submitting your paperwork late is a civil infraction.
Yeah, No Shit Cohen's Trying to Get His Sentence Reduced!
Yes, we know the Trumps are very fond of shouting "LAWYER!" as if it simultaneously blesses anything that happens in the room and throws a cone of impenetrable silence over it. This is usually bullshit, particularly when the lawyer is not practicing law but is actually committing all the crimes. There is no "correct way" to secretly hide an illegal campaign contribution of $130,000 paid to a porn star so she doesn't tank a presidential campaign. Conspiring to launder the payments through falsified bills paid by your business isn't magically kosher because your co-conspirator is a lawyer. That is not a thing!
But if the implication is that Cohen is a liar-fucking-liar who would say anything to get his sentence reduced, well, undoubtedly the SDNY prosecutors would agree. Have we mentioned they really, really hate this guy?
To promote transparency and prevent wealthy individuals like Cohen from circumventing these limits, Congress prohibited individuals from making expenditures on behalf of and coordinated with candidates. Cohen clouded a process that Congress has painstakingly sought to keep transparent. The sentence imposed should reflect the seriousness of Cohen's brazen violations of the election laws and attempt to counter the public cynicism that may arise when individuals like Cohen act as if the political process belongs to the rich and powerful.
Lucky thing Cohen was in the habit of taping EVERYTHING. So you don't have to take his word for it, you can just press play and listen to all the dirty shit going down. Let's count the number of references to secret recordings in this filing, shall we?
- "Indeed, in conversations he recorded with reporters, he claimed that beyond his public statements on the matter, he could not answer questions about his role in the payments because of attorney-client privilege." (p. 23)
- "In fact, Cohen publicly and privately took credit for Individual-1's political success, claiming – in a conversation that he secretly recorded – that he "started the whole thing . . . started the whole campaign" in 2012 when Individual-1 expressed an interest in running for President." (p. 24)
- "Indeed, after Cohen caused the media company to make an illegal expenditure, in a secretly recorded meeting Cohen took credit for the payment and assured Individual-1 that he was "all over" the transaction." (p. 24)
- "And after making the payment to the second woman, and after Individual-1 was elected President, Cohen privately bragged to friends and reporters, including in recorded conversations, that he had made the payment to spare Individual-1 from damaging press and embarrassment." (p. 25)
- "On another call – which Cohen secretly recorded – with bankers from Bank-2 with whom Cohen was seeking to renegotiate his medallion debt on terms more favorable to him, Cohen threatened: 'I'm gonna teach [the bank and its government conservator] a lesson they've never seen before in their life. Because I'm gonna hit everybody up with a lawsuit that's gonna spin everyone's head. And I'm looking forward to that, by the way. And I'm not saying it as a threat. It's a fact.'" (p. 34)
- "The full recording is available at: www.npr.org/player/embed/615843930/615845621" (p. 34, footnote 14)
There isn't a prosecutor in America that would take Michael Cohen's word on anything. If they're saying he took instruction from Trump to pay off Stormy Daniels, THEY HAVE THAT SHIT ON TAPE.
Poppy is smocking crack and can't find a real lawyer. We're governed by a fucking moron. HOORAY!
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Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.