Should Trump Run: Don McGahn Has Been Covering for Roger Stone’s Pro-Trump Rat-Fucking for Seven Years

It has become clear to me that today’s big puff piece in the NYT about Don McGahn was designed to hide that Mueller is challenging the White House Counsel, former FEC Commissioner, and Trump campaign finance advisor on past work he has done for Trump.

One of those things must be McGahn’s effort, while at FEC in 2011, to stymie any investigation into a PAC involving Roger Stone and Michael Cohen, called Should Trump Run.

As I’ve noted, in 2011, one of the people closely involved in Stone’s 2016 rat-fucking, Pamela Jensen, was involved in a 527 called ShouldTrumpRun that listed Michael Cohen as President.

The organization was apparently laundering Trump corporate cash into campaign spending. But when the issue came before the FEC, Commissioner Don McGahn helped kill an investigation into it.

During McGahn’s FEC tenure, one of those he helped save from enforcement action was Trump himself. In 2011, when the future president-elect was engaged in a high-profile process of considering whether to enter the 2012 race for the Republican presidential nomination, Trump was formally accused in an FEC complaint of violating agency regulations. The case was dismissed on a deadlocked vote of the FEC commissioners.

A four-page complaint filed by Shawn Thompson of Tampa, Fla., accused Trump of illegally funneling corporate money from his Trump Organization into an organization called ShouldTrumpRun.com. McGahn and fellow FEC Republicans Caroline Hunter and Matthew Petersen voted to block FEC staff recommendations that Trump be investigated in the matter—designated Matter Under Review (MUR) 6462.

Ultimately, Trump opted not to run for president in 2012. Nonetheless, FEC staff attorneys concluded his activities before that decision may have violated campaign finance rules regarding money raised to “test the waters” for a candidacy. A staff report from the FEC Office of General Counsel, based largely on news articles and other documents about Trump’s flirtation with running for president—including Trump’s own quoted statements— recommended that the commissioners authorize a full FEC investigation backed by subpoena power.

FEC Democrats voted to pursue the recommended probe, but the votes of McGahn and the other FEC Republicans precluded the required four-vote majority needed for the commission to act.

McGahn and Hunter issued a “ statement of reasons” explaining their votes in the Trump matter in 2013. The 11-page statement blasted FEC staff attorneys in the Office of General Counsel for reviewing volumes of published information regarding Trump’s potential 2012 candidacy in order to determine whether to recommend that the FEC commissioners vote to authorize a full investigation. McGahn and Hunter argued that the FEC counsel’s office was prohibited from examining information other than what was contained in the formal complaint submitted in the case.

The Office of General Counsel shouldn’t be allowed to pursue an “unwritten, standardless process whereby OGC can review whatever articles and other documents not contained in the complaint that they wish, and send whatever they wish to the respondent for comment,” the Republican commissioners wrote.

Jensen, her family, and Stone teamed up on a number of equally dubious efforts in 2016, including a 527 called Stop the Steal, which McGahn provided legal protection for in both its early (convention focused) and its late (Democratic voter suppression) incarnations. The latter effort at least paralleled Russian voter suppression efforts.

In other words, White House Counsel Don McGahn — the subject of a Maggie and Mike puff piece suggesting he would only be of interest on the obstruction investigation — has for at least seven years been right in the thick of defending Roger Stone’s legally dubious rat-fucking on behalf of Donald Trump.

And Roger Stone has been the focus of Mueller investigation for six months.

Those are the same six months during which Maggie and Mike have been pushing an increasingly absurd claim that Trump and his associates are only at risk in an obstruction investigation, not the conspiracy investigation McGahn has surely been questioned in.

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114 replies
  1. Teddy says:

    What possible advantage can accrue to Maggie and Mike for omitting the obvious here?  I mean, MOAR AXXESS, sure.  But really, what have they to gain?  Not the respect of their peers, not their editors’ accolades, surely.

    Why ignore Conspiracy?  Because their favorite subject/source says “No collusion! No collusion!” over and over again?

    • Peterr says:

      With apologies to Alfred Lord Tennyson:

      Half a ‘graf, half a ‘graf, half a ‘graf onward . . .

      Ours is not to reason why.

      Ours is but to write, and die.

      –M&M

      Or something like that.

      Sadly, one must remember the postscript Kipling offered to Tennyson’s work . . .

      “No, thank you, we don’t want food, sir; but couldn’t you take an’ write
      A sort of ‘to be continued’ and ‘see next page’ o’ the fight?
      We think that someone has blundered, an’ couldn’t you tell ’em how?
      You wrote we were heroes once, sir. Please, write we are starving now.”

      M&M need to recall “The Last of the Write Light Brigade.”

       

    • pseudonymous in nc says:

      What possible advantage can accrue to Maggie and Mike for omitting the obvious here?

      I’m not sure it is obvious to Maggie and Mike. And that’s the problem. When your beat is palace intrigue, everything that isn’t palace intrigue is somebody else’s beat.

      • Bob Conyers says:

        It’s a much deeper problem than Haberman and Schmidt. The editors at the NY Times, who ought to be plugging all of this into an accurate frammework, are a disaster. Baquet himself has made it clear he doesn’t want to hear about it. And Pinch at the top is clueless.

        I’m reminded of FEMA in the runup to Katrina. A huge storm is coming, headed for a place where it will do enormous damage, and the Times is treating it like a regular old thunderstorm. The assets they have out there can do their own thing without any intervention, they’ll muddle through, and everyone can turn their attention elsewhere in a day or two.

        I expect as the levees collapse, we’ll have Baquet issuing his version of “Heck of a job, Brownie” and be completely clueless when reality sets in.

        • Kevin Finnerty says:

          I think this analogy gets it exactly right, and not just for the NYT, but also for several other political institutions. Trump will at some point take unprecedented actions in response to the Mueller probe. My fear is that they will be more effective than people realize simply because our political system is sleepwalking through the red signs that are flashing all around us. When the moment actually arrives, I suspect we will see several levees break.

    • steven aboud says:

      It could just be that Maggie and Mike are busy and it’s easier to report details they are given.  They publish multiple stories a week.  You can’t do real investigative journalism at that clip.  But you can work sources at that clip and report what they say.

       

      • Peterr says:

         You can’t do real investigative journalism at that clip.

        I think you mean “they.”

        Marcy, OTOH, is more than up to that task.

        • Bill says:

          Could Marcy get along at a major metro daily, where someone else was telling what to do? How would she react to someone editing her work, especially if she thinks the editor’s acumen doesn’t equal hers? Could she compose a story that is accessible to all the publication’s readers, not just the who subscribe to her? Could she temper her bias, even if she swears hers is fact-based bias? Could she temper her annoyance with lesser people? Would she still be writing/covering the SCO if she had turned over evidence to the SCO? Could she handle covering a beat or subject in which she isn’t interested? What happens when she use Twitter or her personal blog to rag on reporting she considers faulty? Would an editor pudpblish a follow up story that contains six graphs of her observations with six paragraphs she clipped from one her earlier stories? Finally, what would the paper do about her “believe Me” sourcing style? I think she belongs where she is, sniping from the weeds, setting the record straight with facts but without the attitude.

          • ckw says:

            Your post reads as if it was written by a hack who has forgotten, if he ever knew, the purpose of journalism, which is not whether someone can “get along at a major metro daily,” working with editorial gatekeepers (who may or may not be as clueless as Haberman, Schmidt and Baquet.) The question is solely whether the work, whoever does it under, and for whichever platform, is accurate and whether it adds to our fund of knowledge and public understanding. Such work is always “accessible” to those interested enough to follow it. And luckily, we have Marcy’s in an age where it can’t be suppressed by hacks.  (It’s hilarious that you ask if Marcy “could handle covering a beat or subject in which she isn’t interested.” Why would she want to do that, and why would anyone else want her to?!) As for your slam at her sourcing, you’ll need to back that up with specifics (another thing that real journalists do.) From my reading, it’s brick-house solid. And she always explains clearly her reasoning for her conclusions, and lays out the reasoning of others expert in the subject at hand.  

          • Trip says:

            So are you arguing that the editors at the NYT are insisting that no background, fact-checking and context should be applied to Haberman/Schmidt’s reports; just a regurgitation, verbatim, of what access sources have issued?

      • Bob Conyers says:

        That’s what the editors are for. They’re supposed to put a brake on half baked stories, bring in reporters on the byline who can give gossip the right context, and keep this stuff from running like this. The NY Times has a garbage can band for its editors.

    • Manqueman says:

      Don’t underestimate the corporate media’s love for access over all. For that matter, don’t underestimate the corporate media’s love for their scenarios — bias — into which all facts must be made to fit. For that matter, don’t buy the corporate media’s spiel about essential they aren’t. They’re overwhelmingly promoting BS; they’re blight, not boon.

      In other words, don’t expect better of them. Times included. Or specially.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Maggie grew up with two dominant figures.  Her dad was a NYT journalist, her mother a member of a powerhouse Manhattan PR firm.

      She seems to admire what Chomsky derides:  power comes not from criticizing those who have and use it, but from normalizing their behavior.

  2. Trip says:

    Damn, you’re on a roll. Do I have to keep checking back all night for another update?  And the laundered money from Trump corporate cash came from….?

  3. Barry Kiefl says:

    Bravo! x2

    The NYT is an invaluable source of news and investigative reporting. How can this missing cylinder be addressed by the Times?

  4. Anne says:

    “The organization was apparently laundering Trump corporate cash into campaign spending.”
    Please explain what this means so that we who understand neither the law nor basic accounting can understand it. And this is a “testing the waters” PAC: what’s the difference between that and a “running for office” PAC?

  5. matt says:

    Sure, but wouldn’t any other republican in McGahn’s place have done the same thing and defended Stone’s PAC?

    • Trip says:

      Really matt, that’s what you’re going with? That it’s all completely normal?

      He joined the campaign at its earliest stages, after covering for Trump at the FEC. Now there is an investigation of the entire campaign, which he was part of, and it’s totally normal for administration staff, an attorney for the office of the president nonetheless, to utter the words that they feared being thrown under the bus by the president.

      This isn’t the Apprentice. This was a long term strategy, which he was part of.

       

        • bmaz says:

          There is no such thing as collusion. The use of that non-existent term to describe a criminal investigation is reckless and plays into the hands of Trump every time it isn uttered. The proper word is conspiracy.

          • Thomas says:

            I agree, however, the popular use of the word “conspiracy” has come to be shorthand for “conspiracy theory,” and is understood by the masses to mean “wild discredited idea that shouldn’t be believed.”

            That’s why I always use the term “criminal conspiracy.” Just that extra qualifier is designed to make people think twice.

            It occurs to me that use of the word “collusion” was probably meant to serve a similar purpose. By someone. And it caught on. At this point, though, with all of the people already indicted, it may be time to step away from “collusion” in favor of “criminal conspiracy,” by using them interchangeably at first.

            Just trying to be helpful.

            • bmaz says:

              I am fine with criminal conspiracy. Just not “collusion”. I usually just use “conspiracy” because that is the framing in the US Code.

        • Trip says:

          While true, he knew what evidence he intended to shield at the FEC. And then he went and joined the Trump campaign early on, in 2015 (maybe earlier?). He didn’t wait to join after the primaries, when Trump won. So he was there directly after the NRA/Butina gig or while it was going down. Either way, he was around for all of it, or if he had minimal intelligence, he had to have some cognizance of this peripherally.

      • matt says:

        I don’t know it was a strategy for him from the start. Trump was not favored to win. And I assume any other republican would have also voted along party lines to protect a GOP campaign. Doesn’t make it right / the GOP is full of corrupt people. I just don’t see how this thread clearly weaves in with the rest of the story yet.

        • bmaz says:

          I am not sure exactly what you are looking for then. When the GOP’s head campaign finance lawyer, fresh off of leading the FEC, signs up to be the Trump campaign’s counsel and campaign finance guru, and they promptly start a relentless pattern of campaign finance violations, it sure seems the thread is sufficiently weaved.

          • earlofhuntingdon says:

            As Trip says, McGahn knew what he was hiding for Trump, that he was hiding for Trump, and he went to work for Trump anyway.

            McGahn is a second-tier courtier.  He followed the money and the energy to Trump, and to do what he was already very good at.  He probably calculated that’s where his skills would be most useful and most rewarded.  The potential for criminal conduct in doing that would be of considerable interest to Mr. Mueller.

          • Bob Conyers says:

            To link this back to the post above, one of MW’s big points is that Hab and Schmidt are completely missing a huge part of what Mueller’s looking at. He’s much deeper than just the obstruction issue. He’s not heavily slanted to what McGahn knows about the timeline of Trump’s involvement in writing Jr.’s cover story.

            Mueller is looking at McGahn’s role in the criminal conspiracy. It goes all the way back to Stone and the issue of Russian contributions to the Trump campaign, an issue which McGahn’s time at FEC made it clear he’d be on Trump’s side. Hab and Schmidt are hung up on McGahn’s post inauguration work, missing the forest for a few trees.

            • Geoff says:

              Not to be completely obvious, but sure, there is obstruction, and for good reason. If you had engaged in a criminal conspiracy to sway a US election, well, I’m pretty damn sure you’d have no qualms about trying to cover it up. But just because you are trying to obstruct justice out in the open, and contemporaneously, by no means should this distract people from looking very hard at the criminal actions that already took place.

              On top of this, I’d imagine with all the Russian connections, denial, lack of action on protecting the next election, that more criminal activity is going on at this very moment as a lead up to November. It’s also criminal neglect that by denying the past interference (no, not meddling) we aren’t going all out to prevent the next election from being unduly, improperly and illegally influenced.

    • harpie says:

      Justin Hendrix reminds about more wrt: Burck:

      Bill Burck is the person who’s reviewing Kavanaugh’s documents for release, rather than the National Archives. Burck was also Kavanaugh’s deputy staff secretary. And he’s also McGahn’s personal lawyer…

       

      • harpie says:

        And from @mschmitt9, more on McGahn:

        10:31 PM – 18 Aug 2018 I don’t think enough attention is paid to the fact that Don McGahn’s career patron is not Trump, but Mitch McConnell. His agenda (judges!) is McConnell’s. Read the NYT story in light of possibility that his loyalties rank, 1. himself, 2. McConnell, 3. Trump. / McGahn’s political method is also derived from McConnell: never flinch over civility, norms or reciprocity, just exert any power available with a calm flat smile. On FEC, his innovation was  that if he held his 3 R votes, he could stop most enforcement, w/o debate on merits.

         

        • Trip says:

          Oh, McConnell is in this up to his non-existent chin and jawline. Stopping Obama from sounding an alert. Denying the supreme court process in O’s administration. So much deviousness and corruption with that one.

      • Trip says:

        Yes, Marcy mentioned this.

        With all of this fuckery swirling, I wonder if Burke becomes a co-conspirator (I leave that up to legal minds here) and McGahn loses attorney/client privilege. Although I guess it’s not a crime to push through a judge (via a blind review), insanely corrupt definitely, but probably not criminal. But if all of this tied back to the beginning, I don’t know? However, it is all interwoven, that’s for sure.

    • Bob Conyers says:

      I believe EW had hinted that Priebus may well be a key contributor via his interviews and doc submissions without being indicted. I suspect he is at less risk than someone like Hicks simply because he’s more experienced and less dumb, and he’ll listen to his lawyers. But I wouldn’t rule anything out.

      • Trip says:

        But @Bob, all three: McGahn, Bannon and Priebus have the same attorney. That would lead me to believe their exposure is equal or very similar. Otherwise, the individual’s interests might harm the other individuals’ interests. Why stay with an attorney who might harm you by protecting another client/potential defendant? So far no one has hollered, “Conflict of Interest”.

  6. MarkC says:

    > What possible advantage can accrue to Maggie and Mike for omitting the obvious here?

    Dunno, but here’s a tidbit:

    [Vanity Fair, 10/5/17] But it wasn’t until Haberman’s Politico days that her connection with Future President Trump began to take root. She’d gotten wind of his early White House flirtations at the beginning of 2011 through—who else? — G.O.P. political svengali Roger Stone. In a wide-ranging interview, Stone told Haberman that Trump had a $2 billion war chest, that he was seriously weighing a run and that it wasn’t just a publicity stunt, as well as various other things that all sounded totally crazy at the time. The next day, Trump called Haberman himself to pour a bit of cold water on Stone’s remarks. “I appreciate all of the nice things he’s been saying, but he does not represent me,” Trump told her. “And he is not an adviser to my potential campaign.” The relationship took off from there.

    • Trip says:

      Even that isn’t the entire truth. Someone here dug up the fact that her mother’s PR firm worked for Trump in the past. I’m sorry I didn’t save a link, but that commenter can probably reiterate the details when they read this.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        They’re both at least second generation NYC.  With her family’s PR and newspaper connections, Maggie would have known about Trump’s long connections with the dirty end of money in the Big Apple.

      • Doctor My Eyes says:

        I didn’t post the link to the Maggie/Duranty actual investigative journalism (the Maggie stuff begins in earnest on page 3), but it certainly opened my eyes. As I feel so often in these discussions, even among the bright lights shining here on EW, matters are much less innocent than even critical people are hoping.  It’s not about access, certainly not about being overly busy journalists in a fatally flawed business (as some commenter knowingly suggested).  We are dealing with corruption.  We are dealing with direct assaults on democracy.  We are dealing with people who prefer the organized crime model of social organization, which involves treating we the people like chumps.

        For example,

        Nancy Haberman, Maggie’s mother, works for the PR firm, Rubenstein, which was founded by Howard Rubenstein – a PR legend, who was once called“the dean of damage control” by Rudy Giuliani.

        and,

        Howard Rubenstein’s work history with the Trump family began early with Fred Trump. Then in 1990, when Donald and Ivana were going through their divorce, Rubenstein took on Donald’s personal PR – doing the dirty work of spinning that nasty mess into something that wouldn’t tarnish Donald’s name and brand irreparably. Because that’s the real nature of PR, isn’t it? The Brand.

        and

        This prompted a deeper look at Rubenstein’s work for Donald and the Trump “empire.” What we discovered is a history that reaches back to Fred Trump’s earliest projects, the NY mafia, and Sam Rubenstein – a crime reporter for the Herald, PR moonlighter for NY clients, and Howard’s father.

        and

        Maggie’s access-spinning-nepotism-conflicts include her Father-In-Law, Vartan Gregorian– President of the Carnegie Corporation of New York.

        The Carnegie Corporation is the main funder of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, of which Carnegie Moscow Center is a regional affiliate. Though once critical of autocracy, the Carnegie Moscow Center, a think tank, now spouts the Putin party line.

        Etc.

        After reading this piece of actual investigative journalism, a piece which includes highlights of twitter-based gaslighting in which Maggie is portrayed as a regular old mom driving a “10-year-old minivan” littered with old “goldfish crackers”, one cannot help but speculate on the provenance of the aforementioned comments portraying Maggie as a regular old hard-working journalist beset by deadlines and meddling supervisors.

        Someone above mentioned the metaphorical red flashing lights all around us.  We are in deeper trouble than most of us seem to realize, in such deep trouble that facing up to it requires courage.

          • Doctor My Eyes says:

            Nah, I learned about it here.  Don’t remember who posted it.  I find the 2 degrees of separation between Maggie and her one-time Moscow-dwelling pro-Kremlin father-in-law highly suggestive as well.

      • Doctor My Eyes says:

        Terrific.  So surprising that someone on foreign soil can uncover so many things that few working journalists in the US seem to be able to find.  Thanks for that great link.

    • MarkC says:

      Thanks! That piece has some reaches but it also makes crystal clear from where Haberman’s access derives. The NYT piece and Trump’s ensuing twitter tirade seem more like a coordinated attempt to divert the narrative.

      Also another tidbit:

      We found links to the Lauders and ostensibly to Arthur Finkelstein — a GOP strategist, who apprenticed under Roy Cohn and worked with both Paul Manafort and Roger Stone.

    • orionATL says:

      thanks for the citation. the article is quite revealing and very focused in its central argument, tying together the members of the haberman family, the nytimes, and trump. add in the trump-ivanka bridge to murdoch and you’ve got great media protection for he who is now our
      oaf-in-chief.

    • Charles says:

      Thanks. I think the key point it raises is that Haberman got her start in public relations. It is possible to rep bad people without necessarily sacrificing one’s ethics. For example, the Koch brothers are pretty awful human beings, but the toilet paper they make is OK. Trump is an awful human being, and most of his products are scams, but Trump Tower New York gets five diamonds from AAA.

      I also hesitate to judge people on their associations. True, someone like Trump with a lifetime of association with organized crime are pretty clearly flocking with birds of a feather. But Jimmy Carter wasn’t a bad man just because of Billy Carter or Hamilton Jordan.

      But, as the article says, ”

      PR is NOT journalism. It is whataboutism.
      At its core, PR is the work of apologists.

      To go from PR to journalism takes a major frame change. It sounds like Haberman failed that one badly.

      • Worried says:

        Somehow, site won’t let me reply to BlueDog on Aug 18 about the medium.com citation. The originating site of the article is citjourno.org.

        So, this comment is out of position.

        There is another article on the site citjourno.org titled Poke the Bear.

        It contains quite extravagant claims, including “family trees” showing the nature of Trump’s family relationship with Russian oligarchs and a master criminal.

        Flabbergasting, actually.

        • Doctor My Eyes says:

          I found the site far less flabbergasting than eye-opening.  Your glib characterization misses the point wildly, unless by “family” you mean organized crime. “Master criminal” sounds like tv.  There are such people in the real world, just as there are actual conspiracies.  In fact, I was alive when the phrase “conspiracy theory” was cooked up and used disparagingly as a means to marginalize intelligent, informed discussion of the JFK assassination. It is the nature of humans to conspire.  Only fools wear blinders in the face of people conspiring to gain power or wealth.  The website you disparage sources their claims far more thoroughly than the NYT.  In fact, you could run your own factcheck on virtually every one of their claims.

          • Worried says:

            Not sure where this will be placed, but it is a response to Doctor My Eyes at 1:40PM today.

            I was not disparaging any website.

            I was simply trying to point out that the medium.com site actually referenced an article from another website, citjourno.org, and that THAT website had a very interesting article that I had never seen referenced at Emptywheel.

            I thought the article may fill in some empty pieces so to speak, and if all allegations are true, I think the implications are overwhelming (or flabbergasting in my lingo).

            I’m no lawyer, politician, academic, etc., so not an expert like many contributors here, but I have pledged an oath to support and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic, etc a few times in my life.

            • Doctor My Eyes says:

              Your reply posted correctly.

              I’m sorry I got that so wrong. Thanks for taking the time to explain.  I’m glad I didn’t go off even worse–I hate when I do that. My apologies.

              I took a few years off from close watching of these things after Obama disappointed me.  But during the Bush years, I had discovered that on line it is possible to actually discover what is happening (especially from comments sections), and it is always very different than reported in even non-propaganda sources.  A few weeks ago, I decided it’s time I find out what is really going on with Trump, Russia, and the investigation.  I remembered EW as a reliable source from back in the day, even though I hadn’t spent much time reading here. I started getting more up to speed, then a commenter here linked to that site.  That’s where I feel I learned what underlies our current situation. It is disturbing news, and so much worse than is being reported almost anywhere.

  7. Peterr says:

    McGahn and Hunter argued that the FEC counsel’s office was prohibited from examining information other than what was contained in the formal complaint submitted in the case.

    “Pay no attention to all the evidence, and look only at this bright shiny thing over here!”

    Sounds like McGahn may be lawyering under the rubric, “if it worked before, it will work again.”

    Which could be fine, unless McGahn and Stone have been talking over the last two years and Mueller has evidence thereof. Hmmmmm . . . Suddenly I’m wondering what light Andrew Miller might shed upon such hypothetical conversations. If McGahn has said none took place and Mueller has reason to believe otherwise, getting confirmation of that from Miller (cooperatively or otherwise) would be very powerful.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Exactly.  Limit FEC lawyers to analyzing the face of the complaint, never any underlying or related documents.  In other words, STFU, FEC lawyers, and let money be money.  Pretty much the mantra of the Trump regime.

      Water may flow down hill.  Money seems to flow into the dirtiest pockets, with a lot of help from courtiers like McGahn, and Mickey Cohen.

  8. pseudonymous in nc says:

    Your semi-regular reminder that McGahn’s uncle Pat was the casino lawyer in Atlantic City who said under oath that he always had a second lawyer in the room when talking to King Idiot.

    • Trip says:

      *It’s a small world after all* begins playing in the recesses of your brain.

      You can’t make this shit up. And yet…after protecting Trump while at the FEC, McGahn was onboard really early.

      (at least since) Jun 16, 2015

      Donald Trump’s presidential announcement may be drawing snickers, but he’s hired a few serious strategists.
      Former Federal Elections Commission Chairman Don McGahn is on board and helped Trump set up the legal framework of his campaign.
      Trump’s campaign manager, Corey Lewandowksi, is a New Hampshire-based veteran of the Koch brothers-backed Americans for Prosperity.

      http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/donald-trump-hired-strategists-presidential-bid-article-1.2260469

      I included the Lewandowski bit because I either didn’t know or I forgot that he was a Koch operative, and there at the start.

      It’s truly amazing that Trump got away with the campaign propaganda that he was separate from the GOP establishment, when he had already been loaded for bear with them from the beginning. Now he and the Kochs are trying to stage a pretend rift.

      • orionATL says:

        there will be no serious rift between trump and the rightwing corporate-hyperrich fifth-column movement operating in america under the leadership of the koch bros. trump is too useful to the movement in his role of the carnival barker. he keeps the useful idiots of the mainstream media in a froth, and draws in and holds close mesmerized voting citizens, while the fifth-column cobtinues to gnaw away at the foundations of american prosperity.

        • Bob Conyers says:

          I go back and forth on this issue. I think there is enough brainpower in a lot of these houses to know they’re not on a sustainable path. While I think some of them are apocalyptic thinkers, such as Peter Thiel and Rebekah Mercer, I don’t think all of them are.

          But I also think the smarter ones realize they’re on a runaway train with no brakes, and it’s moving too fast to jump off. They’re hoping something will intercede before they crash, but they’re still too scared to go by themselves.

          • Trip says:

            Nah. The Koch’s have been denying climate change for decades, paying for its promo, so they could make the sweet sweet oil money while decimating Earth. They will continue on their gluttonous path until they leave their cold ugly corpses behind on scorched and poisoned ground .

            • Bob Conyers says:

              They’ll be insulated from climate change until they die. They can always turn up their AC and avert their eyes until that day, David is already getting close. Their political and business enterprise is on a shorter timeline.

              But like I say, they don’t know how to stop the train, and they’re stuck riding it now.

  9. readerOfTeaLeaves says:

    I’ll go out on a limb and make a wildarse guess that the NYT failed to trace the origins of McGahn’s payment from rubles via Cyprus (Wilbur Mills enabled), into dollars via some Trump property in US.

  10. Kirk Tofte says:

    Wilbur Mills is dead. He was a former chair of the.House Ways and Means Committee who got caught with a stripper, Fanny Fox, frolicking in a D.C. public water fountain decades ago. Wilbur Ross, on the other hand…

  11. Bay State Librul says:

    The 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting is hereby given to:

    Emptywheel “for her hard nosed reporting that exposed a network of ratfuckers, money launders, liars, and cheats who had links to members of the Trump Campaign, and the Republican National Committee, that profited from millions of ill-begotten cash. Her findings led to multiple indictments and the eventual imprisonment of Don the Con for Treason and High Crimes and Misdemeanors.

      • Pete says:

        Looks to be closed for 2018, but 2019 is wide arse open: http://www.pulitzer.org/page/how-enter.

        Look…I admit I am a lightweight here, but am more than happy to help with anyone else who wishes to give this a try.

    • Bob Conyers says:

      The Pulitzer competition is about as open and honest as the Oscars, possibly as bad as FIFA and the IOC.

      I would bet the NY Times has been putting its thumbs on the scales for Haberman and Schmidt, to go with Judith Miller’s earlier win.

  12. SS Montgomery says:

    McConnell has done more to destroy democracy in USA than anyone. Please tell me why he is not recused from Kavanaugh vote since his criminal wife will be adjudicated by Scotus? Since when does a spouse get to choose his wife’s judge?

  13. Thomas says:

    I really appreciate EW for the unflinching realism.

    I do think that McGahn is being given a pass by that NYT piece on his part in this atrocity.

    I want to take a moment here to express my disgust at the sympathy and soft treatment I’ve seen for Michael Cohen, too, who is a disgraceful cowardly thug  who has made a career out of abusive legal bullying and shady shifting of money. I have NO sympathy for him whatsoever and he deserves whatever he has coming. We hear how concerned he is for his family. He should have thought of that when he spent years as a swaggering bullying asshole threatening to ruin people’s lives.

  14. orionATL says:

    as for evaluating access reporting, keep in mind that newspapers are corporations, legal and social entities in our society who keep their own economic wellbeing and survival uppermost in their judicially-bestowed minds.

    keep in mind that it so happens that access journalism, say about trump, may produce a product (news stories) very appealling to some of the corporation’s customers.

    yes, access journalism can involve eliding over or, worse, lying about important matters that the citizenry should know about. but that need not be a corporation’s concern today. in our society it is considered normal business conduct for a corporation to place its economic wellbeing above all other values.

    • SpaceLifeForm says:

      Citizens United bullshit. Fascism at it’s best.

      Any wonder why the fascists want Kavangh?

  15. oldoilfieldhand says:

    Thank you Marcy. I anticipate my grandchildren reading about your role in the preservation of democracy in the US. As much as I love the Irish, I sincerely hope that you decide to stay, write and fight here.
    As I check this website, daily, and frequently on multiple occasions daily, I am humbled and awed by your brutal honesty, clarity of thought and your steadfast efforts deciphering the mainstream media fog. Although I cannot commit the resources I once did since I am retired now and living on a fixed income (I became a supporter before you live-blogged the Scooter Libby trial (H/T Jane Hamsher and Robert Cox)); I will continue to support you and encourage others to read and support your efforts to root out the actual truth of what is happening in our country and in our names.
    Also too, since my brief childhood time in Sault St. Marie, I am a big fan of Rhubarb pie!

  16. earlofhuntingdon says:

    For once, Rudy 9-11 is correct.  Truth isn’t truth, any more than truth and beauty are all ye need to know.  Any more than a defense lawyer would agree that all you need do in dealing with a prosecutor – or to avoid a perjury charge – is to tell the truth.

    Memory, distraction, aggression, ambition make life more complicated.  The courts are full of those complications, Hitchcock made a career out of filming them, which is why good lawyering helps a lot.  Thankfully for Mueller, the Don has Rudy.

    Rudy is not being forthright.  He’s building an argument that the Don thought something was OK.  Even if he was wrong, he didn’t “intend” to do whatever Mueller might charge him with it.  It’s bullshit, of course.  The Don lies for breakfast.  He doesn’t think anything is OK except what works for him.  Rudy only cares about reasonable doubt, not the truth.  He probably agrees with the Don that the truth is for saps.

  17. gmoke says:

    I spent a few years attending brown bag lunches at Harvard’s Shorenstein Center listening to big name journos talk to a small group of interested people.  One of the great lessons I learned is that not only can smart journos sometimes miss the forest for the trees even more often they miss the trees for the leaves.  Focusing on the details of a story blinds them to the larger context time and again.

    PS:  I see this in a lot of areas of expertise as well.

    • Bob Conyers says:

      When the stakes are low, there’s nothing seriously wrong with Schmidt and Haberman doing their thing. And I think you can argue with some of the standard annual events in DC – the rollout of the president’s budget, the State of the Union speech – there’s a value to adding some gossipy pieces as well.

      But when we’re sailing in uncharted waters, you need much smarter reporters who can make sense out of facts that have never been seen before. The Times should have kept them on the lite news side of things.

  18. Raven Eye says:

    It has been interesting to scan the headlines on Google News — starting around dawn (CDT) and running through mid-afternoon.

    There has been some evolution — the first ones were all mostly mirror images of each other.  This afternoon, mentions of Rudy have popped up more, so we can guess he’s on one of his scatterbrain missions.  But even as the headlines diversified over the course of the day, the content didn’t change that much.

    Interesting was CNN’s interview with John Dean — mostly for what it did not say, and perhaps tossing out his White House Counsel “represent the office, not the man” thing.  That sounded good, but the theme running through Dean’s story and the rest of the pack to stop at the “collusion” storage locker.  Where are the links to the FEC and money laundering that we (thanks to EW) are aware of?

  19. Marc McKenzie says:

    Thank you for this, Marcy.

    And also, thank you for calling out Maggie and Mike. These two have been fluffers for Trump and company, and yet we are told again and again about how they are really good journalists who are being thorough. Bulls#@t.

  20. SpaceLifeForm says:

    NRA Glue

    With Brett Kavanaugh, Trump Has Found a Way to Repay the NRA

    https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-news/brett-kavanaugh-nra-708144/amp/

    Despite claims of financial distress, the NRA is now championing Kavanaugh, reportedly spending more than a million dollars for an ad campaign to rally grassroots support for his confirmation. “The NRA strongly supports Judge Brett Kavanaugh,” declared Chris W. Cox, executive director of the gun group’s political arm, revealing the NRA’s pro-Kavanaugh video. “It’s critical that all pro-Second Amendment voters urge their senators to confirm Judge Kavanaugh.”

    • SpaceLifeForm says:

      It’s sticky

      http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=123871

      And by the way, I want to thank, really, Heritage. And I want to thank also all of the people that worked with us. Where’s Leo? Is Leo around here? Where is he? He’s got to be here. Where is he? He has been so good. But from—and also from Heritage, Jim DeMint. It’s been amazing. I mean, those people have been fantastic. They’ve been real friends. The Federalist people, where are they? Are they around here someplace? They really helped us out.

  21. SteveB says:

    Congrats to EW for triggering Roger Stone into threatening you with legal action for this post!

    One would have thought that his funding for legal expenditures has more urgent priorities on the horizon than launching frivolous and vexatious suits against journalists, but ratfucker gonna ratfuck.

    • Bob Conyers says:

      It will never happen, but I would love to see the discovery coming out of a suit from that bozo.

  22. Scout says:

    I am so appreciative of this blog and Marcy. She gives the view from several additional dimensions of thought and w/o worry about stepping on toes…

  23. SirLurksAlot says:

    I’ve got a pocket of crumpled bills
    I’ve got a stomach full of different pills
    I’ve got Fanne Fox and Wilbur Mills
    But I ain’t got you

  24. Trip says:

    Don McGahn Has Not Turned on Trump
    The White House counsel has figured out how to appear transparent without giving Mueller the information he needs.
    By Mark Joseph Stern

    As Marcy Wheeler pointed out on Saturday, this single passage is the most telling in the whole article. There are, Wheeler noted, at least three ways in which Russian collusion might have involved campaign-finance violations. McGahn, a former FEC commissioner, is a campaign-finance expert, and he served as Trump’s campaign counsel through the 2016 election. In that capacity, he was presumably involved in the campaign’s hiring of British Cambridge Analytica employees, a move that raised the possibility of improper foreign contributions. McGahn may have been aware of the infamous meeting between a Russian lawyer and Trump campaign officials to get dirt on Hillary Clinton, running afoul of campaign-finance rules. And McGahn may have failed to wall off Roger Stone from the campaign as Stone allegedly bypassed election laws to seek more dirt on Clinton from foreigners. (Mueller is keenly interested in Stone’s work for the campaign.)

    https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2018/08/mueller-investigation-don-mcgahn-has-not-turned-on-trump.html

    • bmaz says:

      Not sure why Mark penned that article. Neither he, nor anybody he quoted in it, has a clue as to what McGahn did and didn’t say to OSC, much less can it support the title as captioned.

      • Trip says:

        Dunno. The title is more definitive than the article, where he isn’t as cocksure about McGahn not turning. Rather, he seems quite in agreement with Marcy, without using the phrase “PR”.

          • Trip says:

            Haha! I just watched them on the History of Comedy. I have to say, though, I prefer Laurel and Hardy in that old timey comedy genre.

          • Trip says:

            Did you see that bit yesterday about Trump saying that McGahn wasn’t a rat? FFS, could you be any more obvious with the mob lingo?

            • harpie says:

              [I don’t know what happened to this comment…if it shows up twice, please delete as necessary.]

              Yeah. Here’s that Trump tweet:

              https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1031134125602820096 4:01 AM – 19 Aug
              2018 The failing @nytimes wrote a Fake piece today implying that because White
              House Councel Don McGahn was giving hours of testimony to the Special Councel,
              he must be a John Dean type “RAT.” But I allowed him and all others to testify
              – I didn’t have to. I have nothing to hide.

              And here’s John Dean‘s reply:

              https://twitter.com/JohnWDean/status/1031199893509955584 8:23
              AM – 19 Aug 2018 @realDonaldTrump (I still have trouble using the title Mr.
              President for someone installed by Putin), I doubt you have ANY IDEA what
              McGahn has told Mueller. Also, Nixon knew I was meeting with prosecutors, b/c I
              told him. However, he didn’t think I would tell them the truth!

              Trump is at it again today:

              https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1031503298967363586
              4:28 AM – 20 Aug 2018 Disgraced and discredited Bob Mueller and his whole group
              of Angry Democrat Thugs spent over 30 hours with the White House Councel, only
              with my approval, for purposes of transparency. Anybody needing that much time
              when they know there is no Russian Collusion is just someone…. https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1031505811074412544
              4:38 AM – 20 Aug 2018 ….looking for trouble. They are enjoying ruining
              people’s lives and REFUSE to look at the real corruption on the Democrat side –
              the lies, the firings, the deleted Emails and soooo much more! Mueller’s Angry
              Dems are looking to impact the election. They are a National Disgrace! 

              Just maybe “he doth protest too much”?

              • Trip says:

                The language that he uses implies his own guilt:
                rat out
                rat (one) out
                To inform an authority figure of one’s bad or illegal behavior.
                rat out
                v.To expose or reveal incriminating or embarrassing information about someone
                Definition of rat
                2. a contemptible person: such as
                a : one who betrays or deserts friends or associates
                b : scab 3b
                c : informer 2

              • Trip says:

                The other thing that is kind of funny is that he is losing his shit over an article that was basically a fluffer piece dictated by one (or more) of his very own highly competent ‘truth is not truth’ spinmeisters.

                Let’s plant a story in toto and then get mad at it!

  25. Trip says:

    Trump leaves New Jersey with an unexpected guest on board Air Force One

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump ended his weekend stay at his Bedminster golf course Sunday afternoon, departing Morristown Airport with a one-time rival aboard Air Force One.
    U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., had made an unannounced trip to New Jersey during the weekend and was spotted boarding the plane by the reporters who travel with the president. “The president played a quick round of golf with Senator Rand Paul who the president really likes and enjoys spending time with,” the White House said in a statement. “He also spent the weekend working on economic growth and making calls on the economy and national security.”
    https://www.nj.com/politics/index.ssf/2018/08/trump_leaves_new_jersey_with_an_unexpected_guest_o.html

    Julia [email protected]

    #Russia’s state TV reports that Trump played a short game of golf with Rand Paul, “whom the president loves and with whom he enjoys spending time.” Of course, they point out that Rand recently traveled to Russia. pic.twitter.com/FVFHdO9JNk
    https://mobile.twitter.com/JuliaDavisNews/status/1031302527894122496

    Trump receiving his orders from Putin?

  26. harpie says:

    Sorry this is OT on this thread…a different perspective on info from/about the Manafort Trial:

    US trial sheds light on murky Cyprus-Russia links Opinion 8/15/18  [Panicos Demetriades was governor of the Central Bank of Cyprus from 2012 to 2014 and currently teaches economics at the University of Leicester in the UK] https://euobserver.com/opinion/142593

     […] the simultaneous presence of [Wilbur] Ross and [Viktor] Vekselberg as major shareholders of Bank of Cyprus from mid-2014…appears to have been organised and deliberate. […] If indeed it is true [WSJ 8/7/18] that Cypriot politicians went to New York to convince Ross to invest in Bank of Cyprus, it is much more likely that they were acting as “marriage” brokers between Russian and American interests. […]

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Cyprus is an Anglicized island in the eastern Mediterranean.  It has a small economy, is a member of the Eurozone, and has a weak government, owing to its society being riven with conflicts between Greek and Turkish factions.

      The two most obvious reasons to invest in a Cypriot bank are that it is known for money laundering and for being a go-to destination for Russian oligarchs anxious to do it.  American oligarchs too, it seems.  I think it was Bill Black who coined the phrase that the best way to rob a bank was to own it.

  27. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Trump is working hard to elicit a mistrial in the Manafort case. He has the attitude of a fraudulent bank: any delay in repaying ill-gotten gains is money in the bank.

    Manafort’s case before Judge Ellis and the orchestration of propaganda against it calls into question Ellis’s decision not to sequester the jury.

    Ellis himself has apparently received threats. He’s an experienced, sophisticated, well-off federal judge with one or more armed federal agencies bound to protect him. What’s the average juror to do? What would a subsequent jury in a repeat of this trial do?

    To paraphrase Henry VI, the first thing we do, let’s fill all the airwaves with propaganda. If we do that, the rest of the coup will be as easy as a double Big Mac, two fish sandwiches, and a chocolate shake.

  28. Tracy says:

    Incredible reporting, again, in this whole series on McGahn, Marcy! Whoever stated that you are a national treasure is correct!

    I hope that a widdle thweat fwom a siwwy Wogeh Wabbit won’t deter you at all, and I’m sure it won’t!

    We who read your blog, and this whole country, are indebted to you for all that you risk to stick your neck out day after day. In the weeks I’ve been following, I see how much support you have from all over the world! Blessings! Keep doin’ yo’ thang!!!

    Also, just want to say that I always learn a lot from the comments, too, and what I’ve learned today b/t your awesome reporting and people’s insights are that this corruption is disturbingly v incestuous!

  29. Zardoz says:

    Jonathan Chait pushes back on criticism of his hardline article from last month that connects most of the Trumputin dots.

    In the new article he demonstrates that the corporate media is consistently shading the discussion away from ‘collusion (as in conspiracy)’ to other explanations that con [sic] be normalized in the greater public mind over enough time. While the corporate media is working the court of public opinion from one end, Trump and Rudi claim that collusion is not a crime. Tell any sized lie enough times and the truth is no longer the truth. Is this the real sense that Trump is calling out the Fake News, in that he is colluding with it?

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