The Trump Team’s Strategic Errors: Special Master Edition

Between Michael Cohen’s guilty plea and Paul Manafort’s guilty verdict, I’m struck this week by how badly two strategic decisions they made have failed. I’ll return to the issue of Manafort’s “rocket docket” strategy. Here, however, I’d like to note how little Michael Cohen and Donald Trump (AKA Individual-1) gained by fighting to have a special master review the materials seized in the April 9 raid of Cohen’s property.

As you recall, the Southern District of NY planned to use a taint team — basically, a second set of prosecutors — to sort through Cohen’s possessions. But Cohen and (especially) Trump complained about the impropriety of doing so when the President is one of the clients involved. Cohen invented an attorney-client relationship with Sean Hannity.

And after listening to all those arguments,on April 27, Judge Kimba Wood appointed Barbara Jones special master to make privilege determinations. It was definitely the right decision for the legitimacy of the proceeding. It might even have gotten the review done as quickly as SDNY could have done so.

But Trump and Cohen gained very little beyond what will end up being more than half a million dollar bill for their troubles. (Jones’ invoices for labor through the end of July, which are being split 50-50 between the plaintiffs — Cohen, Trump, and Trump Organization — and SDNY, add up to $1,050,022.)

It started on June 4, when Jones issued her first report on the hard copy documents and three devices that were the first things she received. Of the 172 items the plaintiffs tried to claim privilege over, she agreed in just 169 cases. Jones disagreed with the claims about three items (the circumstances with this report are murky, as she later reconsidered one item, and this appears to be the batch of materials from which Cohen and Trump later decided to reverse their privilege claim surrounding 12 recordings).

On June 6, the president’s lawyer, Joanna Hendon, wrote Kimba Wood on behalf of Trump, Cohen, and the Trump Organization, requesting that any challenge to a privilege determination appear under seal and ex parte. The next day the government responded that it had no problem with discussions of the content of documents to be submitted under seal and ex parte, but argued the legal discussions should be public.

There is no reason why the Government and the public should be deprived of access to the balance of the filing — such as the law upon which Cohen and the two Intervenors rely, or their legal analysis to the extent it does not directly describe the substance of the documents in question.

In other words, SDNY argued that if the plaintiffs wanted to fight Jones’ determinations, they would have to show their legal arguments in public.

In a June 8 order, Judge Wood agreed with the government that any legal discussion should be public. In response, the plaintiffs withdrew certain privileged designations, effectively deciding they weren’t willing to challenge Jones’ determinations with legal arguments the public could see.

After Jones amended her June 4 report on June 15, Judge Wood reviewed the substance of what Jones had found, effectively conducting a spot check of her work. Her June 22 order on the matter reveals that Michael Cohen did more consulting of lawyers than consulting as a lawyer.

The Court adopts the Report for the following reasons: 57 of these items are text messages between Plaintiff and his outside counsel, in which Plaintiff requests legal advice from his outside counsel or Plaintiff’s outside counsel provides legal advice; 55 of these items are text messages between Plaintiff and his outside counsel, in which Plaintiff requests legal advice from his outside counsel or Plaintiff’s outside counsel provides legal advice in anticipation of litigation; 22 of these items are email communications or portions of email communications in which Plaintiff receives or requests legal advice from outside counsel; 6 of these items are email communications in which Plaintiff receives or requests legal advice from outside counsel in anticipation of litigation; 7 of these items are email communications between Plaintiff and a client, containing legal advice made in anticipation of litigation; 1 of these items is an email communication in which Plaintiff receives a request to initiate legal representation; 9 of these items are legal memoranda from outside counsel, providing legal advice to Plaintiff or a client of Plaintiff; 1 of these items is a letter from Plaintiff’s outside counsel containing legal 2 of these items are retainer agreements between Plaintiff and outside counsel, containing requests for legal advice10; 1 of these items is a litigation document containing notes for Plaintiff’ s outside counsel, made in anticipation of litigation. The Court has also reviewed the 7 documents that the Special Master recommends withholding from the Government because they are Highly Personal. (ECF No. 81, at 2.) These documents all concern Plaintiffs family affairs and are not relevant to the Government’s investigation. With respect to the above items, the Court ADOPTS the Amended Report. [my emphasis]

That is, in this first batch of documents, even the privileged ones only included 8 files in which Cohen was the lawyer providing advice. The rest involved Cohen getting advice for himself or a client.

On July 2 and July 13, Jones started releasing big chunks of non-privileged items. Almost 2.2 million items were turned over. On July 10, Cohen moved to share all these materials with Guy Petrillo. By this point, Cohen felt he had been abandoned by Trump and was preparing to flip against his client. July 23 is when Jones reported that Cohen and Trump had withdrawn designations of privilege with respect to 12 audio files, which were then released to the government (and began to be leaked on cable shows).

Here are the determinations Barbara Jones described making in reports dated July 19, July 24, July 28, August 2, and August 9. Claimed privilege, here, is what Cohen or Trump or Trump organization claimed. The next two columns show what Jones labeled those files as. The objections are items for which the plaintiffs still argued there was a privilege claim after her recommendations, though they did not fight any of these designations.

In her summary, Jones described that altogether 7,434 items had been deemed privileged. Trump and or Cohen had objected to Jones’ designations with regards to 57 items, but were unwilling to fight to have Wood overrule Jones’ designation if their arguments would be public.

What Jones didn’t mention is that along the way, she had overruled the plaintiffs’ designation of something as privileged or highly sensitive around 6,200 times (these numbers don’t entirely add up, possibly because of overlapping categories).

While Trump and Cohen may have achieved the goal of delay, within 134 days after the raid on his home, Cohen had found a new lawyer and pled guilty to 8 counts. And while it’s not clear whether Jones applied a similar or more stringent standard on privilege claims than SDNY’s privilege team would have, as it was, the Trump people paid half a million dollars to try but fail to keep over 6,200 items out of government hands.

Update, 8/27: Oops! I forgot to add this language from the plea hearing, Prosecutor Andrea Griswold explained this about the evidence.

The proof on these counts at trial would establish that these payments were made in order to ensure that each recipient of the payments did not publicize their stories of alleged affairs with the candidate. This evidence would include:

Records obtained from an April 9, 2018 series of search warrants on Mr. Cohen’s premised, including hard copy documents, seized electronic devices, and audio recordings made by Mr. Cohen.

We would also offer text messages, messages sent over encrypted applications, phone records, and emails.

We would also submit various records produced to us via subpoena, including records from the corporation referenced in the information as Corporation One and records from the media company also referenced in the information.

She makes it clear that the audio recording — apparently the same ones that Cohen and Trump waived privilege over — were part of the evidence on those charges.

Update: Added more punctuation for those of you who thought I’d leave out an Oxford comma.

80 replies
  1. Chef Curry says:

    I might be reading this wrong, but essentially the long delay they mutually pushed for gave Cohen enough time to have second thoughts on assuming his boss would bail him out? Talk about irony.

  2. BroD says:

    “which are being split 50-50 between Cohen, Trump, and Trump Organization and SDNY, add up to $1,050,022.)”

    I can’t do the math: how can you split 50/50 between 4 parties?


    • JLPo says:

      I read it as split 50-50 between (Cohen, Trump, and Trump Organization) and SDNY. 50% shared by Cohen, Trump, and Trump org. The other 50% to the SDNY.

  3. William Brown says:

    (Jones’ invoices for labor through the end of July, which are being split 50-50 between Cohen, Trump, and Trump Organization and SDNY, add up to $1,050,022.)

    Syntax is a little unclear here. Where’s the halfway mark between the two 50% shares?

    • SpaceLifeForm says:

      It was *originally* to be split 50/50 between Cohen and SDNY.

      I believe Marcy left out the snark tag.

      He does not have thqt kind of cash. See why he has flipped?

      • SpaceLifeForm says:

        I’m sure the bill was paid.

        Bet you that this ties to the Weisselberg immunity.

        We are climbing the money food chain now.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Within the prior year, Mickey had sold millions in real estate, including getting out of Trump Tower and buying elsewhere.  It’s unclear how much equity that left him, or how much might have been tied up in disputes over his taxi business.  But he had about $3 million in equity in one Tribeca property alone.

        Probably not coincidentally, his in-laws put their Trump Tower properties up for sale, too.

  4. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Trump worked hard to create a reputation for toughness, for fighting the Battle of the Bulge over a nickel.  All-out legal warfare over the smallest of matters would be part of that.

    I would also guess that Trump didn’t know all that Mickey might have had, couldn’t rely on him anymore, and needed to fight for everything.  As you say, that did not include fighting that involved making a public record of having made and lost an argument, which would damage the aura and generate bad precedent.  It speaks to how much of Trump’s enterprise is a house of cards.

    Here, Trump and the Trump Organization apparently had good legal advice, their personal judgment notwithstanding.  Neither seems to have had it regarding the Stormy Daniels payment matter.

    Trump seems like the kind of guy who would rely more on his money man to make things happen, and rely on his lawyer only when shit was about to hit the fan.  Various intimidation tactics could then be put in play.  Litigating to death – and folding if it kept things quiet – could be used where more direct forms of intimidation didn’t work.

    Trump is unlikely to have made legal process a part of his business model or normal costs – as CEOs of Fortune 500 companies routinely do.  He hates process.  He doesn’t understand it.  He regards it as an assault on his intelligence and his self-worth.  I think that’s true even if the lawyer’s advice is, “Yes, you can do it, but only if we do it this way.”  The lawyer would have lost Trump on the first “but.”  Penny wise and pound foolish, in a big way.

    • Avattoir says:

      I could well be guilty of pickiness, or worse -pendantry – in this: I don’t argue here with the rest of what you’ve ventured in this comment; but IMO the better analogy to what happened with the referral to special master Barbara Jones, the skirmishes and retreats during that process, then essential the adoption of Jones’ work product by Judge Kimba Wood, would be to the Falaise Gap

      (a.k.a. Chambois Pocket, Falaise Pocket, Falaise-Chambois Pocket, Argentan–Falaise Pocket, Trun–Chambois Gap),

      and that only from some point since then did  the Battle of the Bulge commence, with the various outcomes of this week (Manafort jury verdicts, Cohen pleas, news as to some sort of immunity deals extended to and thus cooperation thereby obtained from each of Pecker and Weisselberg) falling more comfortably within the latter.

      Why the distinction? The closing of the Falaise Gap was a serious turning point in favor of the Allies; whereas, the subsequent Battle of the Bulge derived from a faint hope determination to go all out in an effort to prevent the front from moving into Germany.

      • orionATL says:

        my ears pricked at the mention of the falaise gap. i hadn’t heard of it, but i sensed what it was likely about and went looking.

        read for yourself what i found:

        in that long, fascinating, confusing tale is this description of war from one of its prosecutors:

        “… The area in which the pocket had formed was full of the remains of battle.[72] Villages had been destroyed, and derelict equipment made some roads impassable. Corpses of soldiers and civilians littered the area, along with thousands of dead cattle and horses.[73] In the hot August weather, maggots crawled over the bodies, and swarms of flies descended on the area.[73][74] Pilots reported being able to smell the stench of the battlefield hundreds of feet above it.[73] General Eisenhower recorded that:

        The battlefield at Falaise was unquestionably one of the greatest “killing fields” of any of the war areas. Forty-eight hours after the closing of the gap I was conducted through it on foot, to encounter scenes that could be described only by Dante. It was literally possible to walk for hundreds of yards at a time, stepping on nothing but dead and decaying flesh.[75]

        — Dwight Eisenhower

        Fear of infection from the rancid conditions led the Allies to declare the area an “unhealthy zone”.[76] Clearing the area was a low priority though, and went on until well into November. Many swollen bodies had to be shot to expunge gasses within them before they could be burnt, and bulldozers were used to clear the area of dead animals.[73][74]…

        More than forty German divisions were destroyed during the Battle of Normandy. No exact figures are available, but historians estimate that the battle cost the German forces c. 450,000 men, of whom 240,000 were killed or wounded.[69] The Allies had achieved victory at a cost of 209,672 casualties among the ground forces, including 36,976 killed and 19,221 missing.[67] The Allied air forces lost 16,714 airmen killed or missing in connection with Operation Overlord.[70]… “

  5. Kevin Finnerty says:

    Cohen was undone in part by campaign finance violations in connection with two NDAs. Now it’s been reported that Trump Org CFO Weisselberg was granted immunity to testify about his role in reimbursing Cohen with Trump Org money. Is it worth revisiting Steve Bannon’s claim (to Michael Wolf) that Kasowitz “took care of 100 women” during the campaign?If two NDAs torpedoed Cohen, what does a hundred do to Trump, the Trump Org, and perhaps Kasowitz himself?

  6. Twinkie Defense says:

    Wasn’t the whole point of this expensive discovery process so that Trump could learn what the government might have on him as a result of the Cohen raid?

  7. pseudonymous in nc says:

    Spears & Imes aren’t cheap either — boutique white-collar lawyers, Herndon and the senior partners former SDNY AUSAs — which suggested a degree of seriousness in this particular intervention, perhaps motivated by Weisselberg and Garten.

  8. oldoilfieldhand says:

    It looks like the Presindebt could have prevented Cohen from talking by forking over less than a million dollars. I thought Maggie said he was worth more than seven billion? Penny wise and pound foolish indeed.

  9. Charles says:

    “But Trump and Cohen gained very little beyond what will end up being more than half a million dollar bill for their troubles.”

    Unless Trump is playing for time, with an unlimited budget. This is increasingly the impression I am getting, that what they want is time.

    On Popehat’s feed, I see that he has re-tweeted a claim by [quality of source unknown to me] Fernand R. Amandi [1] apparently tracing back to WSJ’s Rebecca Ballhaus [2] that Weisselberg’s immunity is complete, not simply for testimony in the Cohen/Pecker/Daniels matter. As a non-lawyer, I didn’t read Ballhaus that way, Joyce Vance [3], who is a lawyer, apparently thinks that SDNY has the keys to the kingdom:

    “‘What we have right now is a campaign finance issue,’ said Joyce Vance, a 25-year former federal prosecutor and U.S. Attorney for Alabama in the Obama administration. ‘But there’s a whole amusement park of potential crimes out there given what we know about Donald Trump, and Weisselberg is the guy who knows where the entrance is and has the roadmap of it.'”

    So, ok. Guess Trump has had all the time he gets.




      • Charles says:

        Media reporting is contradictory. Bernard Condon, AP (via NYCSouthpaw’sretweet of Quinta Jurecic ), from yesterday:

        Two people with knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press about the deal Friday, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly. One of them said the immunity agreement was restricted to Weisselberg’s grand jury testimony last month in the Cohen case, specifically the allegations that Cohen paid hush money to two women who claimed affairs with Trump.

        So, I don’t know. It makes a big difference.

        • Frank Probst says:

          Not a lawyer, but it’s hard for me to imagine a deal where he didn’t get immunity for everything he could produce, and his lawyers should have told him to turn over everything he could get his hands on.  That being said, both the prosecutors and Weisselberg have a very strong incentive to SAY that the immunity deal is limited in scope.  So I’m wondering how truthful (or well-informed) these sources are.

          • bmaz says:

            The Times is reporting the same thing Charles linked above. But even if true, once you are cooperating on one thing, there be more cooperating on other things. So, I don’t take too much from these reports, even if they are currently accurate.

            • Trip says:

              Whatever immunity he got, it involved discussing the approval of payback to M Cohen for hush-payoffs as directed by Trump. The prosecutors aren’t going to allow that to appear in official paperwork, if they didn’t have substantiation, in such a high profile case.  There is the second executive who directed paying this out of the trust. Weisselberg obviously knows which executive made such a determination. Since it has been reported that Weisselberg gave Donald Trump each and every check to sign as a normal course of business, (in micromanagement, before Trump was president), it stands to reason that it wouldn’t be a stranger making the decisions.  It would be a facsimile of Trump, which could only mean one of the sons. That’s a lot to give up in the furtherance of ONLY Cohen’s case.

              However, the limited (use?) immunity, upon future investigations not reliant on his statements, may leave Weisselberg himself vulnerable to charges outside of given testimony. (Along with the spawn).

              I think it is strategic that they are playing down his role. I wonder if Trump will fire him.

              • J R in WV says:

                Trump senior cannot fire Weisselberg as Trump no longer owns nor manages Trump Corp… right?

                HAHAHAHAHaha…heh.   ;-)

                Maybe Trump Jr can fire him… but then who will complete the tax forms???  These puppies are so screwed, they’re showing their lack of competence on a daily basis. No wonder they appear to have cash flow problems! My farm dogs are better organized thinkers than these guys!

            • earlofhuntingdon says:

              Allen Weisselberg is 71 and has worked for either Fred or the Don his whole career.  He would know a lot, and could be implicated in any crimes. The immunity, whatever its limits, could start him talking.

              Just as important, Allen knows better than anyone how Fred and Donnie worked, how they thought and about what, how they routinely did things, what their priorities were, and how they acted when things went pear-shaped.

  10. Tracy says:

    Thank you Marcy, for more great, detailed reporting!

    To all: on the question of indicting a sitting president, I found this interesting, and I think others may, too: I listened to Neal Katyal, who created the independent counsel rules, on NYT podcast (below). Despite DOJ policy (which does recommend not indicting), there is a path for the Conspirator in Chief to be indicted by the OSC.

    After Nixon’s obstruction of the OSC, the rules re: independent counsels were re-written to give an OSC more leeway, less oversight. But the rule-writers overcorrected, and we saw Ken Starr largely unchecked.

    So the rules were revised again, and the independent counsel was moved back under DOJ w/ oversight by the AG. Katyal et al tried to anticipate an investigation that yielded evidence of criminality that would normally be indicted. The OSC could present a recommendation to indict to the AG, who then would have to agree to that.

    However, Katyal et al anticipated that the AG COULD be the “the president’s guy” (which it looks like will happen), and block it. This would trigger an automatic report to Congress – and presumably the American people – on what happened, for Congress to decide.

    So if the AG blocks a recommendation for indictment, it triggers a report to Congress, who would need to act. Katyal et al did not create a failsafe in case Congress is unwilling to act.

    (P.S. This is my humble summary, but you can listen yourself – be warned, Mike Schmidt did the interview w/ Katyal! but this one I could stomach, lol!)

    • Rayne says:

      Probably not, especially if one has a tendency toward dyslexia. Wiesel (German) = weasel (English)

      Wieselberg would be Weasel Mountain.

      Welcome to emptywheel, by the way.

  11. Geoff says:

    I know we’re all exhausted on a Friday night after this week’s drama,but I think I just read that Stone’s assistant Miller (after the super stall) has been granted immortality. Um, I mean immunity.

  12. Yohei72 says:

    A couple possibly ignorant questions from a total amateur about things I heard/read today. Are either of the following true or plausible, in the estimate of more knowledgable or educated commenters here?

    1) Words to the effect of, “You don’t give the Trump Org CFO immunity just to charge Michael Cohen with a few campaign finance violations,” that they have to be using him to go after bigger fish.

    2) The Justice Department has a practice of not taking actions that might affect a vote starting at about 60 days out from an election. Therefore would any further public moves (indictments and so on) that Mueller and team make pre-election would have to come in the next couple of weeks?

    Thanks, everyone.

    • PGBach says:

      As to 1), above, in my experience I’ve never known immunity to be granted before the prosecution knows very specifically everything they’re going to get for the grant of immunity. Also, an immunity grant is rarely limited to verbal testimony; rather, comes with documents (hard copy and electronic) and any other kind of record you can think of. Lastly, SDNY doesn’t need Wieselberg, or Pecker for that matter, in a case against Cohen. Cohen’s federal case is over per the conditions of the plea agreement which doesn’t require Cohen to provide any evidence, but it makes clear that Cohen’s cooperation would be great appreciated. Think of it this way, Wieselberg, Pecker, and Cohen have something SDNY  (probably Mueller too) want badly enough that they (SDNY, Mueller, the DOJ) are willing to give away the bank to get it.

      By the way, a grant of immunity is not a decision made in local offices, it requires (1) central DOJ approval and (2) court approval.

      • bmaz says:

        Yes, exactly. Though, for what it is worth, they apparently had Weisselberg in for GJ well before the plea deal was reached over the last week to ten days. That may well have been the final straw for Cohen and why he did not get a better deal.

    • J R in WV says:

      Few of the principle conspirators in the Trump-related cases are candidates in the upcoming 2018 elections. The congressmen recently indicted are candidates, and have been indicted a couple of months prior to their next election. I don’t think further indictments of Trump co-conspirators will be limited by the November 2018 election, since those criminals are not candidates themselves.

      But, IANAL, especially not a federal prosecutor, and those experts aren’t talking, they’re just indicting and prosecuting.

  13. Frank Probst says:

    Question for @bmaz and the other lawyers, RE: Andrew Miller

    This guy’s a libertarian asshole. Can he continue to challenge Mueller’s authority now that he’s been immunized? It seems like his backers are paying his lawyers because Miller is (supposedly) a good way to challenge Mueller’s special prosecutor appointment as being unconstitutional. Does he still have standing to do this now that he’s gotten immunity?

  14. Avattor says:

    There are dozens to hundreds of supposed online ‘news’ sites asserting Andrew Miller’s been granted “immunity”. NOT ONE is the site of an actual news org, not one is ‘reporting’ anything substantive, SOME cite or make a vague reference to “CNN”, many others don’t even do that. Equally, none of them cites any OTHER actual news org.
    And, of course, CNN in fact does NOT make any such claim.
    So Frank Probst’s question isn’t based on any fact, indeed isn’t based on speculation.
    Move on, peeps.

    • Trip says:

      This is exactly how the Russian propaganda worked during the campaigns. Layers upon layers of fake news in a feedback loop that ended up leading nowhere real/legit.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Who is this Avattor of which you speak?  I know only Avattoir.

      Is this a welcome or an adieu?

    • bmaz says:

      Not one of them. They all trace back to a CNN piece that does NOT support that there was an immunity grant. If it is true, and I highly doubt it, there is nothing credible yet to support that.

    • harpie says:

      I don’t know if this is still a question but, CNN’s Sarah Murray at 7:34 AM – 25 Aug 2018

      Former Roger Stone aide Andrew Miller was NOT granted immunity. A video caption summarized my story inaccurately. The issue is being corrected. // As I reported yesterday, Miller is resisting Mueller’s subpoena:

  15. TheraP says:

    Trump is like an octopus with scores of tentacles. And it appears that all sorts of dirt and smut and even crimes are hiding at the ends of these tentacles. How many of them will come to light in coming days? As more and more folks who know the stories feel free to speak.

    One of the things I very much appreciate at this site is the list of interesting tweets and retweets (on the side bar) by EW, bmaz and others who post here or have leave to post their tweets.

    So this morning I notice bmaz has retweeted news about another salacious story that’s been floating out therefor some time. A CNN story from the former doorman who knew about the former trump housekeeper, who apparently knows on a personal level about a (Trump) love-child she had. So check bmaz’s Tweets for those links.

    But my questions are these: When will the trove of videos from Trump’s time at the Apprentice become public? When will other women or other victims who’ve been silenced by the Trump corporation or AMI efforts to kill stories become public? Not that I care to read or watch these, but even the threat of all that is likely to seriously rattle Trump (or his family?) I venture to predict. Along with the prediction that another percentage of Trump leaners, even religious believers among them, may peel away.

    Because somehow it seems to me we are on the verge of a deluge of news stories here, maybe even a tipping point.

    I notice also, for example, that trolls are in very short supply the last few days on major news sites, in comment threads related to Trump misdeeds or those who’ve flipped to testify against him or his cronies.

    Rebuke this speculation if you will. But if bmaz retweeted one CNN story from this morning, it speaks to my speculation. Or so I imagine.

    So humbly put forth this comment – with another suggestion: Someone, somewhere is that purported love child. And that person deserves privacy. As does their mother. Both are innocent victims of a sociopath. And thus I also extend to these possible (probable?) victims my heartfelt concern for their welfare and privacy.

    • SpaceLifeForm says:

      “deluge of news stories”

      It is going to go sideways very soon. If you think it has been difficult to keep up recently, just wait.

      Popcorn, caffeine.

  16. Tracy says:

    It seems like SDNY got a real win in w/ all legal disputes would have to be made public!

    Marcy’s link to the politic article about Manafort’s rocket docket strategy is v interesting, and I look forward to also hearing how that went wrong!

    To you lawyers, it seems like Manafort must be feeling the pressure, feeling squeezed, and didn’t he get 30 days to decide how he will proceed, while prosecutors have till next Wed?

    I am wondering:

    1 – Can state charges be brought right now with Manafort? It seems like w/ Cohen, the NY AG immediately started looking at state tax law violations, which squeezes him more and makes clear a pardon won’t save him. Why hasn’t that happened w/ Manafort yet?

    2 – And are the state and federal branches able to coordinate a strategy – how do they work together, if they do?

    3 – Do we have any idea what Manafort’s state exposure is, like, same amt of jail time?…

  17. earlofhuntingdon says:

    The Don is a delicious subject because he is so rotundly corrupt. He is the antagonist in his own xxx-rated graphic novel.

    But there is a party and a following that backs him to a hilt for their own ends. Independent of Trump’s personality, and his major and minor crimes, he creates an opportunity for that party to work.

    Among the powers that be, who is really arrayed against him, why, and what would they do but for Trump?

    What else should we be watching as the Trump circus elephants trample on so much and leave their detritus behind for others to clean up?

    • TheraP says:

      Having studied statistics, I’m on pretty firm ground when I say this. Yes, there is a Trump party. But the size of that party, its percentage of citizens or voters, is shrinking – as people who simply cannot hold their noses or close their eyes or stop their ears up or in conscience any longer call themselves Republicans shrink/slink from their former party ties.

      Thus, though the number of those willing to admit to GOP-Trump adherence is still astronomically high among R’s, we’re talking a core of maybe – at best – 30 percent of the voting population. And shrinking.

      I take comfort in that. It’s a smaller and smaller percentage – even if slowly, slowly growing smaller – to clean up the detritus. At some point “their own ends” may be sought at too high a price.

      Trump totally disgusts me. I’m sick of reading, seeing, hearing, having to think about his vile and repellent self and deeds.

      But conscience must!

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        I’m more concerned with the McConnells, Grahams, Grassleys, Ryans, Gaetzes, and Hunters, and their corporate promoters.  They have more reach – and ambition.

        • TheraP says:


          So long as there’s a core of supporters for Trump, many will exploit it. What dreadful times we’re living through!

        • Charles says:

          I believe that CNN changed their published story. I linked a piece that claimed that Miller had obtained immunity. Today it does not say that. I can’t get the Wayback machine to show me their late evening crawls. There is an statement on CNN that some change to the video was made. But either CNN got it wrong and surreptitiously emended the story or both Geoff and me independently got it wrong.

          • greengiant says:

            The CNN reporter tweeted that “someone” had put the incorrect headline or chyron on their article.

  18. Trip says:

    Inspector Twitter to the rescue!

    Big story out that the FBI ignored tens of thousands of Crooked Hillary Emails, many of which are REALLY BAD. Also gave false election info. I feel sure that we will soon be getting to the bottom of all of this corruption. At some point I may have to get involved!

    — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 25, 2018

  19. earlofhuntingdon says:

    To repeat, since the cows aren’t home yet. It is Not Normal for a president to behave like this. It is grossly irresponsible. It is incompetence personified. It is the epitome of guilty knowledge and guilty behavior.

    God might be the “author and finisher of my fate,” but she doesn’t suffer fools gladly, nor the predatory self-promoters, who buzz around DC like gamblers in Vegas looking for a mark.

    • TheraP says:

      Once, when my son was about 2, he briefly got hold a knife and cut his finger a little bit. His immediate reaction was to hide under the couch! When I saw the knife with a bit of blood on it, I called his name. No answer. We had a tiny living space then. So it wasn’t long before I found him – under the couch. (He didn’t need a scolding. He knew he’d done wrong!)

      Trump’s behavior is on about that level. But no conscience. He every behavior screams abnormality.

      • Trip says:

        Preoperational Stage:
        This stage start between the age of two and continues until the child turns 7 years old. The key feature of that stage is egocentrism. According to Piaget, a child’s thoughts and communications are typically egocentric. This means, at that stage the child doesn’t have the ability to see situations from others’ point of view. According to Piaget, during that stage the child assumes that other people see, hear, feel, and understand things exactly the way he/she does (Argosy University, 2014).

        ^Trump is delayed at this stage. But then again, I think he’s just a socio/psychopath.

  20. JAAG says:

    What hell does Trump have on Graham? I have heard the rumours we all have, but what of the timing?

    About a year ago he was on podiums with Mccain grandstanding about being the conscience of the party. Cue Mccain’s exit. Immediately cue Graham’s total capitulation. WTF.

    I don’t know what caused it, but its totally pathetic.

  21. ThomasPaine says:

    According to Pew, self-identified Republicans comprise about 27% of the electorate, of which about 85% still strongly support Trump. That is about 25%. About 25% of the electorate also supported Nixon a year AFTER he resigned in disgrace. In other words there will always be a quarter of our citizenry who either skipped or flunked Civics and / or care little about political and legal accountability. It is up to the other 75% of us to ensure a vibrant Democracy. It is therefore incumbent upon us to get out and vote in November and encourage like-minded others to do the same.

    While we are at it, discouraging Trump voters from voting by keeping up a drumbeat of bad news about the current Madman in the WH is also warranted.

    • Tracy says:

      TP – thanks for your post – well said and yes – it’s all about Nov and our turnout!

      I also heard that b/c of the extreme gerrymandering Dems have to outperform w/ a margin of at least +8 or +9 (basically – turn out, turn out, turn out!!)

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