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Let's cut to the chase, shall we? The word of the day is INTENT. Did Donald Trump intend to break the law with all his sexxxxy lady payoffs, and did he intend those payoffs to influence the 2016 presidential election? Both of these are required elements of a conspiracy to violate campaign finance law. The rest is commentary.

That's why That Lunatic is out there screaming PRIVATE TRANSACTION -- because he wants to pretend he paid off Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal to protect poor Melania, not in an effort to influence the 2016 election.

It's why Rudy is arglebargling about John Edwards, who was acquitted of campaign finance violations because he used donated money to hide his affair from his wife, not from the electorate -- or so the jury believed.

And it's why Trump is desperately tweeting ADVICE OF COUNSEL and LAWYER, in hopes that he can fob off liability onto Michael Cohen for deliberately exceeding the $2,700 donation limit.

This is all utter bullshit, of course. For one thing, efforts at concealment, like say lying about the payments for two straight years, are strong evidence that Trump knew the scheme was illegal.


Trump, In April, Denied Knowing of Daniels Money www.youtube.com

For another, Rudy himself went on Fox's Grope 'n' Giggle Gaggle and admitted that the payments were made to stop Daniels and McDougal from selling their stories in the run-up to the election.

Imagine if that came out on Oct. 15, 2016, in the middle of the last debate with Hillary Clinton. [...] Cohen didn't even ask. Cohen made it go away. He did his job.

If Trump were trying to protect his soft, little Melon, he'd have done it some time in the intervening decade between barebacking a pornstar in 2006, while his wife was post partum, and the 2016 election. Instead he waited until he was courting evangelical voters by impersonating a Man of God to ensure that women kept quiet.

No reasonable prosecutor would rely on Michael Cohen's testimony to prove that Trump had the requisite intent to violate campaign finance law, since Cohen is a convicted liar, which is why immediately after Cohen's sentencing hearing yesterday, SDNY dropped details of the immunity agreement with The National Enquirer's parent company American Media, Inc. (AMI). David Pecker, AMI's CEO who has also been immunized, used the company to "catch and kill" stories about Trump to protect his campaign. So if anyone can corroborate the purpose of Trump's peener payoffs, it's Pecker.

Look, here's AMI confirming the company arranged with Michael Cohen to make payments, for which they would be reimbursed by Trump, to "influence that election."

So now there are at least two witnesses, Cohen and Pecker, who admit that this was a conspiracy to make illegal contributions in an effort to influence the 2016 presidential election. In fact, there are probably four, if you include Trump Org. CEO Allen Weisselberg and Pecker's viperous lieutenant Dylan Howard, both of whom have been granted immunity.

But did Trump know that it was illegal to make an in-kind contribution for the purpose of influencing an election? FUNNY YOU SHOULD ASK!

Here's AMI admitting it bought Karen McDougal's story with the understanding that Trump would be reimbursing AMI's money:

And here's AMI backing out of the deal in October 2016, and refusing to take the money.

Hey, Wall Street Journal, remind us again why Pecker decided not to go through with the deal to accept reimbursement and sell McDougal's story to Trump?

Mr. Pecker called off the Trump-reimbursement deal in October 2016 on the advice of his lawyer. Accepting reimbursement from Mr. Trump, the executive worried, could undermine any argument that the McDougal payment was made for editorial and business reasons, rather than as an in-kind campaign contribution.

Mr. Pecker told Mr. Cohen to tear up the reimbursement agreement, but Mr. Cohen kept a copy. Federal agents found it in a search of Mr. Cohen's office earlier this year.

OH, RIGHT! He consulted with his lawyers and realized it would constitute an illegal campaign finance violation. Are Cohen and Pecker willing to testify that they told Trump why the deal fell through, establishing his actual knowledge of the plan to violate campaign finance law? And what are the odds Cohen recorded that conversation and prosecutors have the tape now?

GOT IT.

And while we're on the subject, let's talk about Executives 1 and 2, who facilitated a coverup of the payment to Stormy Daniels by laundering it through Company 1, as described in Michael Cohen's Criminal Information filed in August by SDNY.

On or about February 14, 2017, MICHAEL COHEN, the defendant, sent an executive of the Company ("Executive-1") the first of his monthly invoices, requesting " [p]ursuant to [a] retainer agreement, ... payment for services rendered for the months of January and February, 2017." The invoice listed $35,000 for each of those two months. Executive-1 forwarded the invoice to another executive of the Company ("Executive-2") the same day by email, and it was approved. Executive-1 forwarded that email to another employee at the Company, stating: "Please pay from the Trust. Post to legal expenses. Put 'retainer for the months of January and February 2017' in the description."

If Allen Weisselberg is Executive 1, then Executive 2 is probably one of Trump's fail-sons, who are nominally in charge of the "Trust" Trump put his business into so he could go watch TV in the White House for four years. So welcome to this fun conspiracy to commit campaign finance fraud, DJ and Eric! Your Wonkette has been telling you this for months, because we are service-y like that. But in case it wasn't clear, SDNY's announcement yesterday that AMI got immunity right after they publicly flayed Michael Cohen for violating the public trust was a giant neon sign screaming WE ARE NOT LETTING THIS SHIT GO, ORANGE MAN! AND WE'RE COMING FOR YOUR IDIOT GROWN-ASS SONS! MAYBE EVEN IVANKA, WE DON'T KNOW.

And firing Robert Mueller won't make a damn bit of difference, because that horse has already left the barn. GIDDYUP!

[Wall Street Journal / Criminal Information / Politico / AMI Immunity Deal / DOJ Announcement / Politico, again]

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Five Dollar Feminist

Your FDF lives in Baltimore under an assumed identity as an upstanding member of the PTA. Shhh, don't tell anyone she makes swears on the internet!

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On Saturday, Glenn Greenwald saw a story in the New York Times about how the US is mucking around in Russia's power grid in a show of power:

In interviews over the past three months, [current and former US] officials described the previously unreported deployment of American computer code inside Russia's grid and other targets as a classified companion to more publicly discussed action directed at Moscow's disinformation and hacking units around the 2018 midterm elections.

So Glenn Greenwald, being a total Glenn Greenwald, used that moment to defend his president, Donald J. Trump, because OMG it is just crazy that the liberals and the Deep State and the Rachel Maddow think Trump is some kind of puppet of Vladimir Putin, just because he constantly acts like a puppet of Vladimir Putin.

HAW HAW, LIBS OWNED! Isn't Donald Trump always saying nobody's tougher on Russia than he is? Glenn Greenwald agrees that nobody is tougher on Russia than Donald Trump, because Donald Trump says so.

As Aaron Rupar from Vox points out, this tweet from Donald Trump arrived just about eight hours later ...

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