Bannon Aims to Best Jared Kushner’s Biggest Mistake in Modern Political History

Back in September, Steve Bannon agreed on 60 Minutes that firing Jim Comey was the stupidest decision in modern political history.

In a “60 Minutes” interview that was posted online Sunday night, Bannon was asked whether he considered Comey’s dismissal — which ignited a political firestorm and directly led to the appointment of a special counsel to investigate Russian meddling in the 2016 election, including potential ties to Trump’s campaign — the biggest mistake in political history.

Bannon responded, “That would be probably — that probably would be too bombastic even for me, but maybe modern political history.

“He went on to acknowledge that if Comey had not been let go, it’s unlikely that the probe led by special counsel Robert Mueller would have been established.

“I don’t think there’s any doubt that if James Comey had not been fired, we would not have a special counsel, yes,” he said. “We would not have the Mueller investigation. We would not have the Mueller investigation and the breadth that clearly Mr. Mueller is going for.”

At that time, Bannon insisted that he faced no risk from even the expanded Mueller investigation, and hadn’t even lawyered up.

All that changed, of course, after he ran his mouth to Michael Wolff. Bannon claimed to be offended by the June 9, 2016 Trump Tower meeting. In his apology he would even say the entire meeting offended his life’s work making movies about fighting “the evil empire.”

“My comments about the meeting with Russian nationals came from my life experiences as a Naval officer stationed aboard a destroyer whose main mission was to hunt Soviet submarines to my time at the Pentagon during the Reagan years when our focus was the defeat of ‘the evil empire’ and to making films about Reagan’s war against the Soviets and Hillary Clinton’s involvement in selling uranium to them.”

But what really irked Bannon is that when Don Jr, Paul Manafort, and Jared Kushner met with Russians in an effort to obtain dirt on Hillary Clinton, they didn’t use lawyers as cutouts.

“The chance that Don Jr. did not walk these jumos up to his father’s office on the twenty-sixth floor is zero,” said an astonished and derisive Bannon, not long after the meeting was revealed.

“The three senior guys in the campaign,” an incredulous Bannon went on, “thought it was a good idea to meet with a foreign government inside Trump Tower in the conference room on the twenty-fifth floor—with no lawyers. They didn’t have any lawyers. Even if you thought that this was not treasonous, or unpatriotic, or bad shit, and I happen to think it’s all of that, you should have called the FBI immediately. Even if you didn’t think to do that, and you’re totally amoral, and you wanted that information, you do it in a Holiday Inn in Manchester, New Hampshire, with your lawyers who meet with these people and go through everything and then they verbally come and tell another lawyer in a cut-out, and if you’ve got something, then you figure out how to dump it down to Breitbart or something like that, or maybe some other more legitimate publication. You never see it, you never know it, because you don’t need to. . . . But that’s the brain trust that they had.”

On Monday, the home, hotel, and office of the lawyer Trump has long used as such a cutout, Michael Cohen, got raided. Among the things the FBI sought — in addition to information on Cohen’s own corrupt business — were communications Trump and that lawyer and others had about the Access Hollywood video.

FBI agents who raided the home, office and hotel of Donald Trump’s personal lawyer sought communications that Trump had with attorney Michael Cohen and others regarding the infamous “Access Hollywood” tape that captured Trump making lewd remarks about women a month before the election, according to sources familiar with the matter.


The search warrant also sought communications between then-candidate Trump and his associates regarding efforts to prevent disclosure of the tape, according to one of the sources. In addition, investigators wanted records and communications concerning other potential negative information about the candidate that the campaign would have wanted to contain ahead of the election. The source said the warrant was not specific about what this additional information would be. [my emphasis]

Bannon — and Marc Kasowitz, who sent a lawyer to meet with Trump in the wake of news of the raid — was probably among those associates. After all, Bannon also told Wolff that he and Kasowitz had to deal with a number of “near-death problems on the campaign” pertaining to women — like Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal — making legal threats against Trump.

Unable to hire prestige talent, Bannon turned to one of the president’s longtime hit-man lawyers, Marc Kasowitz. Bannon had previously bonded with Kasowitz when the attorney had handled a series of near-death problems on the campaign, including dealing with a vast number of allegations and legal threats from an ever growing list of women accusing Trump of molesting and harassing them.

Now, Steve Bannon, the guy who claimed firing Jim Comey was the stupidest recent political decision, the guy who wasn’t so much opposed to political rat-fucking as he was opposed to doing it without using lawyers as a cutout, is shopping a new plan to get Trump out of his legal woes: fire Rod Rosenstein.

Stephen K. Bannon, who was ousted as White House chief strategist last summer but has remained in touch with some members of President Trump’s circle, is pitching a plan to West Wing aides and congressional allies to cripple the federal probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election, according to four people familiar with the discussions.

The first step, these people say, would be for Trump to fire Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, who oversees the work of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III and in recent days signed off on a search warrant of Trump’s longtime personal lawyer, Michael Cohen.

Bannon also wants to fire Ty Cobb, one of Trump’s remaining semi-legit lawyers, as part of an effort to invalidate all the testimony from White House officials — including himself!!!! — based on the claim it should have been covered by executive privilege.

And he is telling associates inside and outside the administration that the president should create a new legal battleground to protect himself from the investigation by asserting executive privilege — and arguing that Mueller’s interviews with White House officials over the past year should now be null and void.

“The president wasn’t fully briefed by his lawyers on the implications” of not invoking executive privilege, Bannon told The Washington Post in an interview Wednesday. “It was a strategic mistake to turn over everything without due process, and executive privilege should be exerted immediately and retroactively.”


Bannon believes Trump can argue he was given poor counsel by his lawyers on Russia, including Ty Cobb, who has encouraged a cooperative approach to Mueller’s team.

“Ty Cobb should be fired immediately,” Bannon said.

I’m agnostic about whether the Access Hollywood video actually relates to the Russian investigation. If it does, the only conceivable reason to refer it to Southern District of NY would be to establish a clean team — but Mueller’s team has already handled interactions with investigations involving two lawyers and/or legal teams, Melissa Laurenza (who testified that Manafort led her to lie on FARA forms), and Skadden Arps. I do think it possible — highly likely, actually — that Cohen may have been used as a cutout in some hotel room in New England to cover-up other sensitive issues.

But given Bannon’s response, the investigation into Cohen’s cover-up of Trump’s problems with women — including both the Access Hollywood tape and the legal negotiations with Daniels and McDougal — probably implicates Bannon as well as Cohen.

And so Bannon wants to do what Kushner did when he, similarly, realized how much a legal investigation jeopardized him personally: fire the guy running the investigation.

Indeed, Bannon seems so panicked he can’t even remember that such moves rank among the stupidest in modern political history.

Update: One more thing about the Stormy/McDougal/Access investigation. That may come directly out of Bannon’s own testimony, which would explain why he’d want to try to invalidate it.

88 replies
  1. Willis Warren says:

    He’s on record saying tRUmp met the russkies on June 9th, now he’s obstructing. They’re all fucked

  2. NorskieFlamethrower says:

    “They’re all fucked.”
    Yes but before they can be brought to account they will be able to destroy or at least immobilize every institution of representative governance and finally put the military in the position of protecting their place in the political economy by creating a crisis that allows for a state of emergency that covers the “postponement” of this fall’s elections The more desperate these creatures get the closer we get to becoming a fossil to be rediscovered by archaeologists of the “American Empire”. Yes, Sinclair Lewis was right, it is really happening here.

    • Wm. Boyce says:

      Remember the right-wing nonsense about Bill Clinton “suspending” the election in 2000 in order to hold onto power for a third term? That actually circulated widely on wing-nut hate radio at the time. It didn’t happen then, and it ain’t gonna happen now – these boys are pretty stupid.

      • Watson says:

        @ Wm. Boyce

        I hope you’re right that ‘it ain’t gonna happen now’.

        Maybe it was my tinfoil hat, but I believed that Bush/Cheney were going to manufacture a national emergency crisis to prevent Obama from taking office. I was really surprised when BHO was actually sworn in. Since then we’ve had another decade of Murdoch-driven disinformation, hate, and polarization. And now we have President Trump, a crazed narcissist, more openly authoritarian than Bush/Cheney, with a substantial following in law enforcement.

        • Dev Null says:

          I might have the date wrong, but I remember panicking shortly before an election (September 2008, I think) when reports started popping up in the press about a preventive assault on Iran… naval task force set sail from Norfolk on short notice …

          … and then it all went away.

          I still wonder what that was about.

  3. pseudonymous in nc says:

    It’s weird, because I seem to remember a bunch of White House and executive branch people showing up at the Capitol to do Schroedinger’s Privilege, refusing to answer questions but not actually asserting executive privilege. People like, um, Steve Bannon.

  4. dave says:

    The access Hollywood tape came out and a few hours later WikiLeaks dumps Podesta’s emails. That can’t be a coincidence.

    • pseudonymous in nc says:

      Like EW, I’m agnostic about the direct connection to Russian stuff, but fwiw, Cohen was in London on October 7th 2016, the day of the ODNI/DHS statement, the AH tape release, and the first (explicitly attributed) Podesta dump. We know this because he showed the stamp in his passport.

      • Rayne says:

        Really need to pull together a more comprehensive timeline, don’t we? Look at LAT’s timeline from 07-OCT-2016 — the Access Hollywood tape story appears at 1:51 p.m. and HRC’s hacked emails show up at 4:48 p.m., three hours almost to the minute between them. (I note both Chaffetz and Ryan yank some form of support from Trump the same day. Futile gestures.)

        • pseudonymous in nc says:

          Cohen said he was in London in early October for “a birthday party”, though his daughter’s birthday was a few days before he arrived. October 4th was the day of the Wikileaks 10th anniversary bash in Berlin where Assange videocalled in to promise big releases; earlier, Roger Stone had tweeted that Hillary would be “done”.

          Mid-October was when Steele’s source network threw up the “summer EU meeting”, which Steele reported in late October. My hypothesis is still that Cohen was up to something in London in early October, and Steele was fed disinfo by people who knew about that something.

          That’s still separate from the general purpose fixer/intimidation/money-conduit work that the SDNY raid might have been investigating.

          • Rayne says:

            It sure seems odd for a country littered with security cams as the UK is that they never appear where and when they are needed — like at the point of Skripal’s poisoning and wherever Cohen was in early October 2016.

      • JD12 says:

        The possible link between Trump and Wikileaks is one of the biggest questions. It wouldn’t be ridiculous to think that he might’ve gone to coordinate with Wikileaks on an October surprise and the Access Hollywood tape happened to come out while he was there. He wouldn’t have gone to the Ecuadorian Embassy himself obviously, but it’s interesting that Trump’s “fixer” was in the same place as Assange when the biggest problem needed fixing, and then Wikileaks helped.

        He definitely acted suspicious around that trip. His Twitter went dark for 10 days. Before he showed Buzzfeed his passport, he described it to Yahoo but omitted the Italy and London trips. And again, it looked like he went out of his way to have an alibi.

        Only one stamp showed on the passport and it was from October 6th, but his daughter shared a photo from the airport on October 17th. That’s the same day it was reported Assange’s internet got cut off.

      • orionATL says:

        well, there can’t be much doubt of collusion/collaboration, ratfucking, media misdirecting on the part of wikileaks and the trump campaign. if cohen was in london, it wasn’t to shop at harrod’s.

        cutouts to haul the goods to assange or his co-workers in london? if deemed necessary by the gangs, look no further than the brexit gang of political thugs, and/or nix plus others of cambridge analytica mercer/bannon gang.

        • JD12 says:

          Nigel Farage himself is too high profile, but he’s alleged to have been a frequent visitor to Assange and may have given him a thumb drive at some point. If info had to be ferried back and forth it would probably be someone less obvious. Assange follows American politics closely, but he still would’ve probably needed some help to prioritize the Podesta material.

        • SteveB says:

          If Cohen had gone shopping in Harrods then he could have easily waved a cheery greeting from the food hall across Hans Cresent to the Equadorean Embassy.

        • JD12 says:

          Another thing about Cohen’s travels, most of the questions arose from the Steele dossier and the reference to Prague. The feedback loop in the dossier has been covered well here, so the circumstances of early October are probably clearer if you disregard the dossier. The dossier blurs the context and opens too many hypothetical questions.

      • orionATL says:

        in all of this i think some basic principles apply to speculating (called hypotheseis generation elsewhere):

        1. politicians in positions of power often have that serious conduct trivialized (“mere” lies, sneering jokes, fact checking) or underreported (ok. done. on to the next story).

        2. this happens because publishers, editors, reporters, and commenters on the web do not like to make speculations that may make them look ridiculous or conspiratorial to their peers, let alone open them to loud public complaints from the subjects of their speculation.

        3. the prospect of dealing with foxchan’s ridicule or the the whitehouse’s rightwing brownshirts marauding on the internet like quantrille’s raiders can also inhibit speculation.

        3. nonetheless, it is important to speculate (called generating testable hypotheses elsewhere) and then look for information that confirms or rejects a hypothesis, or encourages additional research.

        4. #2 and #3 must be endured and speculation pursued so long as the powerful person’s conduct is egregious and harmful to the common good.

        i think this process goes on at the the emptywheel website quite remarkably. absurd speculation is rare. speculation that is reasonable but ultimately wrong or trivial happens here all the time, but that is a necessary part of the game of tracking down and revealing institution (public organization or corpration, misconduct. in counterbalance, very useful and/or informative information trading plus criticism, happens here every day.

    • Willis Warren says:

      It can absolutely be a coincidence.  There’s no way that anyone wanted to downplay podesta’s emails.  And, no one could seriously think that the emails would be a bigger story

      • jayedcoins says:

        Yes, exactly.

        Of course, the story is far from over. I think the #resisters and the Trumpistas are making the same mistake with this story right now. At this point, it seems the three obvious theories — coincidence, fully coordinated, or semi-coordinated — about this portion of the October timeline are equally likely based on what *we* know.

        What seems obvious to me — and look, I could be missing A LOT and I always welcome the insights of folks here — is that neither of those three scenarios clears anyone in any of these fiascos, but two of the three could make the problems much worse for major campaign players.

    • Bob Conyers says:

      My running theory is that Access Hollywood and the emails were released by the same actor as both a threat and a gift. The message was that Trump needed to decide whether to be good and get more gifts, or be dodgy and get more punishments.

      I suspect the single page of Trump’s tax return that was released to the press was also a thinly veiled message to cooperate, although it may have been from a different actor.

        • Bob Conyers says:

          The envelope was postmarked Trump Towers, which certainly supports that point of view.

          Since I’m in highly speculative mode here, I’d say the postmark’s too obvious. I’m sure someone on the opposite side would point to the frequent incompetence of the Trumpies, and I don’t have a strong counter-counter-counter argument to that.

  5. Kevin Finnerty says:

    Bannon always seemed a little too overconfident that he had no legal exposure. He’s nowhere near as smart as he tries to portray. Retroactive executive privilege? Please. I also think it was Josh Marshall who made a joke some months ago about Trump raising an ineffective assistance of counsel defense. Once again, reality has outpaced satire, as this seems to be Bannon’s big pitch.

    I can’t quite figure out what crimes could have been perpetrated in connection with the Access Hollywood tape. The only thing that comes to mind is the Wikileaks oppo dump that happened immediately after the video surfaced.

    • JD12 says:

      I can’t quite figure out what crimes could have been perpetrated in connection with the Access Hollywood tape.

      Not sure if you’re aware of the timing but the Stormy Daniels hush payment was after the Access Hollywood tape came out, so it probably was their response to it. Trump claimed he knew nothing about it, effectively waving attorney-client privilege and making those records available. Michael Avenatti looked like he had feathers sticking out of his mouth on TV because of it.

  6. SomeCallMeTim says:

    “Schroedinger’s Privilege” – LOL. If Sessions and Congressional Republicans weren’t 99+% craven, the Executive Privilege B.S. wouldn’t even be out there, and people like Steve Bannon would be launching less “I R not a lawyer!!!” sounding crap.

  7. Avattoir says:

    Bannon saying, SPOTUS needs to fire Rosenstein & retro-pixiedust everything produced or said by Trump staff, as features in a presidential coup that incidentally trashes the Rule of Law & renounces the Constitution, all so I avoid potentially being confronted under oath in a public court setting with my having to choose between 1. Yeah, I ratted out Trump to the feds & 2. I lied to the FBI.

    Is that it?

    • orionATL says:

      what this country needs is a good “dictatorship of the nationalists”**. you got a problem with that?

      we don’t need no damned constitution (“the constitution is just a goddamned piece of paper”, love, g.w.b) and we sure as hell aren’t going to let snowflake crap like “the rule of law” get in our way.

      ** “nationalists”: those whose emotions have been goosed by propaganda to believe that their culture is under threat, manifested as racism or fear of immigrants. i think this fear is almost as inbred in the human psyche as flight or fight.

  8. harpie says:

    An interesting threadYossarian‏ @Dzigavertovv [Replying to @lrozen
    [quote] It was always deeply weird it came out almost on the same day-almost between breaths- as the joint DHS/DNI announcement publicly attributing the hacking and election interference to Russia. The tape ate the whole news cycle. I don’t think I knew they announced it until post elec. / […] When I try to remember everything that happened at the tail end of the election, I keep going back to @zeynep ‘s point about how sm is used to amplify confusing info, and how it can demobilize people by ‘flooding the zone’. / Seems if the campaign was coordinating the info release, they were probably also being advised and borrowing from the domestic/military techniques of the Russian government, as reporting in Ukraine and during their own election cycle. I believe @selectedwisdom made this point too / […] / ~4 1/2 minutes in, [Lawfare podcast link] Jeh Johnson goes into the timing a little bit, and how strange it was that his announcement got so little play. [end quote] 

    • harpie says:

      And an article by John Ziegler: History Will Show the Media Completely Butchered Coverage of the Access Hollywood Tape
      [quote] […] However, there is another aspect of the Post being the outlet which got the big scoop that has always struck me as potentially very significant. The Post’s reporter, David Fahrenthold, has said that he was only made aware of the tape, via an unnamed source, THAT day — which is a clear indication that whomever was trying to get the Post to release it had decided to do so in tremendous haste. […] Why is this timing important? Well, two other significant events happened that day in almost exactly the same time period. [DHS announcement/Wikileaks] […] However, especially now in light of the Cohen raid, there is now plenty of reason to reevaluate what was really going on here.  
      For instance, what if it was actually someone from the TRUMP team who leaked the tape. […] I have always been mystified as to how Steve Bannon was able to plan and coordinate the “Clinton Sex Accuser” press conference for that Sunday before the debate with such incredible quickness. […] [end quote]

  9. Sabrina says:

    The more news that comes out surrounding the Trump administration and the mafia-style gang of white collar crime surrounding him, the more unbelievable it seems. Steve Bannon was clearly involved in some unethical endeavors even before getting tangled up directly with Trump (running Breitbart, that bastion of alt-right hatred and nihilism, automatically makes him morally grey at best). A couple of points about the bigger picture surrounding Bannon’s statement:

    1- Steve Bannon strikes me as somebody who is genuinely intelligent and capable of nuanced reasoning. The fact that he is now suggesting that Rosensteim be fired indicates that he is so frightened that he’s making decisions contrary to his basic nature (unlike Trump, he does seem to adhere to his belief system, as flawed as it is). Based on what I know of Breitbart and Bannon’s ideology, he would be very likely to take everybody down with him out of malice rather than accept defeat.  Not overly concerning if it were just him, but he had cultivated this ideology in the alt-right. When about a third of the US (Trump’s base) feels persecuted by the gov’t and now their leaders are threatening the FBI, this is a recipe for destabilization. Remember, though *this* site deals in facts, emotionally volatile and angry people are unpursuaded by them; worsening divides such as Bannon’s comment will only ensure that they stay insulated. His statements may even galvanize Trump’s base into “reacting” as an effort to protect him from unfair prosecution, which could be protests, or worse. Remember also that he has discredited MSM among his followers, so any criminal findings by the FBI are unlikely to bring the country back to a general consensus.

    2- What about the lack of response to statements like this? It seems like nearly everyone around Trump and the GOP is involved in some way, as none seem willing to stand up to protect this investigation. It almost feels like this whole scheme has just organically evolved as the logical next step of years or decades of unethical political practices (possibly on both sides though demonstrably worse on the GOP side). Getting and consolidating political power was a logical move, aided by someone like Trump who had already amassed celebrity status, wealth and influence. And so, the GOP managed to attain power, and as the rule of law is closing in, declarations like Bannon’s are ignored by the GOP.

    The breadth of complicity in the Trump presidency is amazing, and Bannon’s statement in the light of no meaningful response is another painful reminder of this (coequal branches of gov’t in name only)  as they predictably do nothing.

    N.B. I would be hopeful for a blue wave but for the fact that nothing has been done about election interference. Bannon’s statement just underscores Congress’ silence and reminds us all that they will not act to protect the FBI investigation just as they have not acted to protect and restore free and fair elections.

  10. JD12 says:


    I tried responding to your comment above regarding Wikileaks but the reply doesn’t seem to be working.
    The possible link between Trump and Wikileaks is one of the biggest questions. It wouldn’t be ridiculous to think that he might’ve gone to coordinate with Wikileaks on an October surprise and the Access Hollywood tape happened to come out while he was there. He wouldn’t have gone to the Ecuadorian Embassy himself obviously, but it’s interesting that Trump’s “fixer” was in the same place as Assange when the biggest problem needed fixing, and then Wikileaks helped.
    He definitely acted suspicious around that trip. His Twitter went dark for 10 days. Before he showed Buzzfeed his passport, he described it to Yahoo but omitted the Italy and London trips. And again, it looked like he went out of his way to have an alibi.
    Only one stamp showed on the passport and it was from October 6th, but his daughter shared a photo from the airport on October 17th. That’s the same day it was reported Assange’s internet got cut off.

  11. Trip says:

    I’m curious to know who leaked this. For a really good plot to work, you usually don’t announce it first. “Hey, how about that First National Bank we’re planning to rob? Yeah, well we ironed all of the access problems out, cutting in through the ventilation system, and intend on breaking in after hours, tripping up the cops with a diversion elsewhere. TELL EVERYONE!” Maybe the Mercers have lost patience with Trump and would like to install their man Pence now. What better way than Bannon coming up with a harebrained scheme, telegraphed publicly, which makes Trump’s consideration of the wizardly erasure of testimony look desperately unhinged, with childlike magical thinking?

    This only serves to give Mueller the heads up to move charges into multiple prosecutors’ offices. Plus, there is no way that shutting down the investigation will keep a lid on it. It would leak, by someone.

    • TheraP says:

      “Plus, there is no way that shutting down the investigation will keep a lid on it. It would leak by someone.”

      What if Mueller, knowing the risks here, may have empowered his Grand Juries to do just that? To empower them, should he or his staff be dismissed, to disclose their findings, evidence, etc. to Dept of Justice Attorneys and/or US Attorneys/Assistant Attorneys?

      I began wondering about that yesterday. And looked at the list (link below) of duties and powers of a Grand Jury (or Special Grand Jury? – which can even produce a report or reports). See especially 9-11.250 and 9-11.260 re disclosure and 9-11.330 re reports:

      I raise this solely as a Conjecture (by a non-lawyer, concerned citizen). I may be totally off base with regard to Grand Jury law or my conjecture/speculation. But I’m simply trying to wonder “aloud” how Mueller might provide for the prearranged transfer of info, perhaps even via some type of sealed court order, “set” to take effect should he be fired?

      Obviously Grand Juries have power. And even if Mueller is fired, Trump (I assume) cannot fire a Grand Jury. (Correct me if I’m wrong.) So, presumably, the Grand Juries could be empowered to disclose their secrets, given this situation so vital to our national security, should a sitting president act so blatantly contrary to the administration of Justice, e.g. obstructing an investigation into criminal activity by his closest associates and himself, firing Mueller, of course, only adding to that obstruction.

      ConFraud US.

      • Trip says:

        I most definitely would not be the right person to answer that question. (In fact, I’m gonna get in trouble down-thread with bmaz). I just speculate that there would be extreme outrage, whereby you’d have an unprecedented flow of whistleblowers releasing the info from inside the investigation.

        • TheraP says:

          But the Grand Jury could release info legally – without having to become whistle-blowers. Maybe?

          Don’t worry, I’m first in line for the beating!

  12. greengiant says:

    Did Bannon spam both the access Hollywood and the Red Queen fire them all plots?   Rapture the conspiracy to destroy Trump, America, and the World as we know it,  a new Dan Brown novel?

  13. Trip says:

    In today’s “Trump Trash”, enter the doorman:
    Tabloid bought Trump love-child rumor for $30G, then spiked story
    American Media Inc, which owns the magazine, gave Dino Sajudin, the ex-doorman of one of Trump’s buildings, $30,000 for a story, the Associated Press reported early Thursday.
    Sajudin’s story was reportedly based on a rumor that Trump had fathered a child with an employee at Trump World Tower, in Midtown East.

    The National Enquirer Paid $30,000 for a ‘Rumor’ About Donald Trump. Then It Spiked the Story
    During AP’s reporting, AMI threatened legal action over reporters’ efforts to interview current and former employees and hired the New York law firm Boies Schiller Flexner, which challenged the accuracy of the AP’s reporting.

    This explains the ‘boilerplate’ wording in the Stephanie Clifford NDA about paternity.

    • Trip says:

      The National Enquirer, a Trump Rumor, and Another Secret Payment to Buy Silence

      Two of the former A.M.I. employees said they believed that Cohen was in close contact with A.M.I. executives while the company’s reporters were looking into Sajudin’s story, as Cohen had been during other investigations related to Trump. “Cohen was kept up to date on a regular basis,” one source said. Although many of the A.M.I. sources I spoke with expressed skepticism about Sajudin’s claims, all six agreed that A.M.I. made a concerted effort to shut down the story. Several said that they believed the coverup, rather than the story itself, was of public importance…


      On the surface, it seems surprising that A.M.I. would pay a substantial sum of money for an unverified story. The National Enquirer’s circulation numbers suggest that the payouts to Sajudin and McDougal came at a time of declining circulation for the publication. Two A.M.I. sources said they believed that the catch-and-kill operations had cemented a partnership between Pecker and Trump, and that people close to the President had subsequently introduced Pecker to potential sources of funding for A.M.I. One A.M.I. source told me, “Pecker’s not going to take thirty thousand dollars from company funds to shut down a potentially damaging story about his buddy without making sure it got back to him so he could get credit.” In 2017, the company began acquiring new publications, including Us Weekly and Men’s Journal. According to the Times, last July Pecker visited the Oval Office and dined at the White House with a French businessman known for brokering deals with Saudi Arabia. Two months later, the businessman and Pecker met with the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman.

  14. Trip says:

    Michael Cohen: ‘I’d rather jump out of a building’ (than turn on Trump).

    People better start keeping an eye on the higher floors of Trump Tower. Shit’s about to get real for Cohen.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Cohen allegedly has the same problem Trump is rumored to have: too many connections with the boys from Brighton Beach.  In fact, it might be part of the glue that binds them. Trump may be a problem for Cohen, but not his biggest.

      • Trip says:

        Trump is Cohen’s biggest problem, because the raid on Cohen specifically (allegedly) named Trump:
        Michael Cohen search warrant documents mentioned Trump by name

        However, I think he has other criminal exposure which could bury him, if he doesn’t flip.

        I know IT’S NEVER RICO®, but if Cohen was operating a bribery and silence factory with ragmag Pecker, for hopes of a financial return, isn’t that kinda racketeering? **Ducks**, and awaits (probable, rightful) beating by bmaz and Avattoir.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Do not go down that road.  It’s never RICO.  It is the individual crimes that Cohen might have perpetrated or furthered.

          Cohen might have many of those to worry about.  He is also more exposed than before.  He cannot now legitimately talk with Trump, nor Trump with him.  Cohen has lost the umbrella of power he had with Trump and Trump has lost a fixer he’s confided in for over a decade.  If Cohen strikes out with the FBI, there will be no joy in Trumpville.

          Trump might be Cohen’s biggest legal exposure.  Then again, the boys from Brighton Beach don’t do legal, they do do exposure.  Cohen’s alleged association with Russian mobs from New Jersey goes back to his early days as a budding taxi impresario.  Twenty-five years ago – before mobile card payment devices and Uber – owning taxi medallions was a lucrative cash-based business.  A large taxi fleet once numbered in the dozens; Cohen-related businesses apparently owned hundreds of taxi medallions.  Businesses recycling large amounts of cash are desirable outlets for money laundering.

          If the allegations are true, Cohen’s association with the Russian mob blossomed along with his taxi and other investments, including his formal ownership of homes at Trump properties.  Real estate is probably the principal money laundering outlet.  The gist of the allegations is that Cohen acted as front man and launderer for Russian mobs.  If true, exposure to that sort of business partner would be at least as problematic as Cohen’s exposure regarding Trump.

          • emptywheel says:

            Thanks for continuing to emphasize this. The taxi medallion part of the warrant was as important as the hush money side.

          • Trip says:

            I don’t disagree with the crux of your comment. But the FBI (SDNY) went in for the payoffs. Maybe in the hopes of dredging up the other crimes. But I think Mueller is on top of that part, already, separately and distinctly as it pertains for Russian (organized crime) financial entanglements. The payoffs will definitely play into this, aside from the other criminal enterprises. Whether it be campaign finance issues (and Cohen is deputy in RNC) or some other quid pro quo element with Pecker. I don’t know whether it can be proven, but I have no doubt that the hush and kill money was a coordinated effort, way beyond Stormy Daniels.

            • earlofhuntingdon says:

              If Cohen had Russian mob connections and acted as a cutout and launderer for them, some of that conduct would be independent of his relationships with Trump and outside Mueller’s, but not the FBI’s remit.

              I agree that the hush and kill money was coordinated and likely went well beyond the handful of stories out so far.  The campaign finance crimes are likely to be immense.  They are the type of laws that neither Cohen nor Trump would have considered legitimate constraints on their business of moving money around to where it would do them the most good.  That, in turn, will generate associated bank or wire fraud crimes.

          • orionATL says:

            this is really interesting background on cohen and taxi’s. maybe that’why it got shipped to s.d. of newyork.

            i remembef readingvsome years ago, before the great taxi crash of internet rides, thatca taxi medallion was good for $50k (or would cost you that much to own). somebodies lost some serious money to new technology.

        • Pete says:

          You could pee-write RICO on Cohen’s grave once all the individual stuff goes down. If you are really good add the periods too.

    • Trip says:

      Also, within the context of Trump also stating ‘the witch hunt investigation’ is the cause of ‘bad blood’ with Putin, it’s Trump saying, “Look what you made me do”. As if we’d all be sitting around and enjoying Russian Tea cookies together, had there been no Mueller, and Assad never would’ve pushed the envelope. Trump’s letting Putin in on his plans. We should not be bombing Syria because Trump is having a hissy fit about his corruption investigation, with two devils on his shoulders encouraging this: Dershowitz and Bolton.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        I agree with the signalling argument.  Trump also did it with his sanctions against oligarchs, giving them months warning so that they could avoid travels to the US and move their assets to friendlier, non-US jurisdictions.  This is where I think Greenwald is wrong about his claim that Trump is acting more aggressively toward Russia than Obama.

        • Trip says:

          I think Greenwald might be a bit more libertarian, beyond “civil libertarian”. I think it sometimes colors his views, possibly without him even recognizing it. Just my opinion.

          • earlofhuntingdon says:

            I’m happy with his emphasis on constitutional liberties, especially as the alt-right regards them as optional – except for their own right to speak, govern, and bear and use arms.

            I think Greenwald dismisses Russian influence in the US, in part, because the problem is subsidiary to the larger problem of rampant unseen manipulation of the electorate, largely by the GOP.  Gerrymandering, voter obstruction and false voter fraud claims are likely only the tip of the iceberg, as the CA and FB disclosures make clear.

            All that appears to be legal, which makes reducing the manipulation much harder, what with Congress’s unwillingness to legislate or regulate without first asking K Street for permission.

            • Trip says:

              I’m cool with his emphasis on civil liberty as well.

              We all know that money has corrupted everything, and the GOP might be better at it, but they don’t corner the market. I realize this is part of his mantra. He just seems (to me) much more inflamed/knee-jerk angry with sins of the past, and a kinda “so what?” sometimes with the present. There’s something there (which sometimes resonates as bias, for me) and I don’t buy into the notion that other people have that Greenwald is somehow a Russian stooge. I don’t think that. It may be political leaning. No one is completely unbiased. We all are kind of wired, even in minute ways. It’s simply my opinion about his framing, at times. I mean no harm in that.

              • earlofhuntingdon says:

                Glenn Greenwald a Russian stooge?  LOL.  That sounds like an alt-right attempt to trash GG and the constitutional liberties he defends and that they claim to admire – but only when they use them.  It is an old rightwing tool.

                Change the perspective slightly to who supports authoritarian rule over democracy and due process and it is those on the right, especially the alt-right, who appear to be fellow travelers.

                • Trip says:

                  @earl, I think it’s actually a center left-ish thing. The alt-right argues against Russian interference, unless it involves Clinton. For a little while there, Greenwald was gaining fans on Fox News.

                  • Greenhouse says:

                    Yeah Trip you’re right. I do think Greenwald has semi-legit concerns when he exposes “left” leaning news outlets that label critics of the “Trump/Russian Collusion” investigation as Russian apologists. He’s been a victim of that kind of group think, and has exposed/documented many examples of that. On the other hand (unfortunately), I think his knee-jerk, somewhat dismissive critiques cloud his judgement when questioning the legitimacy of the Mueller investigation.

                • earlofhuntigdon says:

                  Knee-jerk reaction is an epithet.  I don’t think it applies to Glenn’s analysis.  I simply disagree with his emphasis for now. His coverage of the ME and Brazil is quite good, and not much copied in the MSM.

                  We do need to address the abundance of voter intimidation projects the GOP supports, in the belief, probably correct, that the people it targets would not vote for them.  Their attempts to stop such people from voting are one reason they would never vote for the GOP.  Bull Connor will never die, he’ll just change water hoses and attack dogs.

              • orionATL says:

                greehwald has changed to a bitter, unbalanced commentator where it comes to u.s. foreign policy. he’s more than jaundiced also about american politics in general. i find his writing much changed, tediouus and tendencious, reeking of anger.

                i think this happened after he was effectively barred from the u.s. (fearful of returning), and his partner arrested, held in britain, and interrogated over the snowden disclosures about the nsa’s spying.

                at the guardian he wrote the most powerful, beautifully argued essays being written at the time on first amendment (his specialty), fourth, etc. issues, and generally about issues of legal injustices issues. a great column i remember was one daring a known idaho billionaire bully to follow thru on a threat to a local reporter or activist.

        • Willis Warren says:

          Greenwald gets married to an idea and ignores evidence that contradicts his idea.  I really like his animal rights stuff, but he’s very arrogant about this natSec stuff and doesn’t seem to be any good at it.

        • jayedcoins says:

          The other thing about Greenwald’s common refrain is that it only holds up under the assumption that the broad election narrative and the broad “Trump is more aggressive than Obama” narrative are mutually exclusive… and they very obviously aren’t!

          I like Greenwald and I think his harsh tendency toward skepticism is good — that’s a voice that we need in American political media. But I think he’s attacking something that, while certainly real, is mostly a strawman. A bunch of Tweep #resisters following Louise Mensch, and even some opportunistic Democrats following along, is NOT the same thing as the SCO investigation.

          Furthermore, it is not at all inconsistent to both support things like sanctions or even espionage counter-measures against RU for election interference, all the while being vehemently opposed to getting involved in Syria. You don’t have to want to launch missiles at RU equipment or that of their allies to hold the former view.

  15. Rayne says:

    I see former Obama White House Ethics Czar Norm Eisen tweeted about Bannon:

    Whoa! Under 18 usc 207, Bannon has post-employment cooling off period limiting contacts with the WH. On whose behalf is he doing this? If he’s representing anyone else, (e.g. was put up to it by others, even if unpaid), potential criminal penalties.

    As did former Nixon White House counsel John Dean:

    Bannon is openly pushing a plan to conspire to obstruct justice in violation of 18 USC 371 & 1503. This should earn him a trip to the Grand Jury and an indictment. Oddly, Trump has read this guy correctly — he’s crazy.

    That’s 18 U.S. Code § 207Restrictions on former officers, employees, and elected officials of the executive and legislative branches, and

    18 U.S. Code § 371Conspiracy to commit offense or to defraud United States (w00t! ConFraudUS! Join the party!), and

    18 U.S. Code § 1503Influencing or injuring officer or juror generally

    Not too bright, that Bannon. Get a lawyer, dude.

  16. oldoilfieldhand says:

    “then you figure out how to dump it down to Breitbart or something like that, or maybe some other more legitimate publication”

    Strange that Bannon publicly acknowledges the Brietbart sleaze factor…

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