On Use Immunity, Predictions of Doom for the Presidency, and the Voluntary Waiver of Privilege on the Hush Payment Tape

Don’t get me wrong. I think Trump is in a whole heap of trouble (though remember that, wielded in the hands of a competent man or similarly competent advisors, the power of the presidency is an awesome force). I think the SDNY’s investigation of Trump Organization’s involvement in illegal hush payments and NYS’s investigation of the Trump Foundation pose the additional risk that the Trump business empire will collapse as people scrutinize both its legal shenanigans and its debt. And I think that risk will bring Trump to fear US law enforcement as much as he fears Russia (which I suspect could also bankrupt Trump Org if a few key oligarchs put their mind to it).

But I think people are getting slightly ahead of the story when they predict that “The significance of [what they call Weisselberg’s] flip, paired with Cohen’s recent plea deal, cannot be overstated.” That’s true, in part, because Weisselberg got only limited immunity tied to grand jury testimony implicating Michael Cohen.

The person briefed on the deal said that it was narrow in scope, protecting Mr. Weisselberg from self-incrimination in sharing information with prosecutors about Mr. Cohen, Mr. Trump’s former personal lawyer, who pleaded guilty on Tuesday to tax and campaign finance charges. The latter charges stemmed from payments during the campaign to two women who said they had affairs with Mr. Trump. It was not, the person said, a blanket immunity extending beyond the information he shared, and Mr. Weisselberg remains in his job at the Trump Organization.

While his testimony will be damaging to the Trump Org and, probably even more directly, Don Jr, Weisselberg in no way “flipped” on Trump. Indeed, there’s good reason to believe his cooperation may be an attempt to limit the fallout of the investigation of Cohen.

At the risk of proving my most recent post (in which I argued that the push for a Special Master didn’t gain the Trump camp very much) wrong, consider this detail. On July 23, Special Master Barbara Jones informed Judge Kimba Wood that “the parties” had withdrawn their privileged designation for 12 audio files, which she then released to the government.

On July 20, 2018, the parties withdrew their designations of “privileged” as to 12 audio items that were under consideration by the Special Master. Based upon those de-designations, the Special Master released the 12 items to the Government that day.

Those tapes are understood to include the tapes Cohen made in which he discussed the hush payments with Trump.

Two days later after that notice, Michael Cohen released a truncated version of the tape of him telling Trump he had spoken to Weisselberg about buying the rights of the Karen McDougal story, which unsurprisingly immediately preceded the news that prosecutors wanted to speak with Weisselberg.

Now, it may be that Cohen and Trump voluntarily waived privilege on those tapes to provide something to the press to get the titillated by the sex story and distracted from real financial graft. Or it may be that someone has a different plan of hanging out Cohen on the hush payments, limiting damage to Trump Jr and the organization, all in a bid to undercut Cohen’s value in a larger cooperation deal.

Or there may be some other explanation.

That being said, as of right now, the Trump camp is, as far as we know, dealing with three still separate investigations: SDNY, NYS, and Mueller. Don Jr is implicated directly in all of them and they have the possibility to collapse into one (with the added benefit of limiting the value of a Trump pardon of his son). Indeed, according to Vanity Fair, Mueller is very actively putting the squeeze on Junior in the more dangerous of those investigations.

Another theory for what’s motivating Trump’s increasingly unhinged tweets is that Mueller may be closing in on his son Don Jr. “A lot of what Trump is doing is based on the fact [that] Mueller is going after Don Jr.,” a person close to the Trump family told me. “They’re squeezing Don Jr. right now.”

Don Jr.’s lawyer said, “I’m not going to comment.” Another person briefed on the investigation disputed the term “squeeze,” but said the Mueller team continues to ask for documents.

Mueller may not wait for Junior to implicate Dad before he indicts the spawn (certainly, Senior and Rudy G have been laying the groundwork to exonerate Junior for his conspiring with Russians for at least three weeks, so they clearly expect that possibility). And to the extent that Don Jr gets in real legal trouble — something beyond a tax problem they can restate and a campaign finance violation that might be manageable — then Dad might be in real trouble.

But it’s quite possible Weisselberg and the Trump Org found a way to limit the damage of the Cohen investigation, for now, to things that don’t affect the core corruption of the Trump Organization business model, or the conspiracy with Russia to win the election, and along the way limited the damage to Don Jr.

The thing about Trump is there are so many bodies, it may actually take three or four people who know where the different kinds of bodies are buried — Weisselberg plus several others — to bring him down. And thus far, Weisselberg is not telling about most of those bodies.

Update: I’d like to add a point I meant to include before I went to yoga. One thing that’s going on with the hush payment story — one I’ve even seen reporters admit — is that it pertains to issues that reporters can understand. Sex! Scandal! Tax cheats!

Add in the fact that sources are talking here, whereas all the Mueller investigation sources, save those associated with Roger Stone and his band of rat-fuckers, have gone silent (and they were all defense witness sources anyway, and so unlikely to provide the full picture).

There’s nothing wrong with the possibility that reporters will make more of a story that they have sources for and can understand and sell to readers easily. For that reason, too, it may have more immediate impact on Congress, even while I highly doubt Republicans are going to ditch Trump for some hush payments (at least not until he becomes significantly more wounded). But it’s worth noting that some of that may be going on.

And if the focus on these hush payments buys Mueller some times — shifts Trump’s ire from Mueller to Sessions — that’s probably a benefit too.

108 replies
  1. Viget says:

    Crazy thought, but might Weisselberg have told SDNY prosecutors something that further implicates Cohen in crimes that he didn’t plead to?

    Could the prosecutors come back to Cohen and see if he’s willing to talk more about the Trump org in general or Weisselberg in particular in exchange for immunity?

    Of course he’s now a felon, so credibility comes into play….

    Or is SDNY totally done with Cohen?

    • Bob Conyers says:

      I don’t think you can rule out the possibility more will emerge regarding Cohen, but I also wouldn’t assume the feds are actively pursuing anything on side tracks.

      The sense I get is that they are pretty focused for a variety of reasons – optics, resources, and larger strategic goals. I suspect we will see a second wave if/when there is new blood in the Congressional investigative bodies, and tax info is released and combed over.

  2. bmaz says:

    Said it earlier, and will say it again. Weisselberg has already “cooperated” with SDNY enough to get formal immunity, if only use immunity, as to Cohen. Once you start cooperating, they come back for more, and Weisselberg has more, much more. The thought that his cooperation is now magically cabined into those two Cohen counts, because that is all we currently have record of, is laughable. If the Feds want more out of Weisselberg, and they will (if they have not already), they will get more.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Weisselberg’s cooperation presumably nailed down Cohen’s crimes re payment to Stormy Daniels by giving evidence regarding the Trump Org end of it.

      No one involved would have missed that that implicated the family business in crimes committed by one of its senior employees, at the behest of its most senior employee, and facilitated by its top money man.

      A virtual Open, Sesame.  It will take a lot of work to walk into the cave, but the legal rewards could be handsome.

    • Bob Conyers says:

      If current trends hold (still too soon to know) when congressional committees start calling in January, Weisselberg will be on the hot seat. He may well refuse to testify and they would be stupid to grant him immunity, but they may well go down the ladder and get lower level employees and contractors to point the finger at him. SDNY isn’t digging into every suspicious activity, but you can bet Elijah Cummings will.

      They will also have years of tax info and will be subpoenaing every record they can legitimately claim. He may wish by then he had the dodge of fully cooperating with prosecutors, if he hasn’t taken it by then.

      • orionATL says:

        if republican committee chairs are in charge of any senate investigations that tag weisselberg, why would they not grant him immunity? if i recall correctly, a senate grant of immunity to oliver north threw a monkeyvwrench in the gears of the iran-contra investigation, or at least destroyed any doj leverage.

        • Bob Conyers says:

          Immunity requires a 2/3 vote in a committee, so the GOP doesn’t have the numbers to screw up Mueller that way.

          You might see some horse trading on immunity for small fish if the Democrats can control investigative committees. The GOP may agree to some grants of immunity if they think they can score some points, or possibly they may want to build a case that they are working in good faith. But I’d be surprised if the Democrats agree to anything that risks court cases, unless they thought the potential charges were really rinky dink stuff. At least, I hope they don’t risk damaging any serious prosecutions.

    • Kevin Finnerty says:

      One of the murkier stories from 2016 is the role anti-Clinton/pro-Trump sentiment in the NY FBI field office and perhaps the SDNY played in the decision to publicly announce the discovery of new emails in October.

      What risk does this, by some reports, deep and visceral bias pose for an investigation into the Trump Org? Could it be that investigators will approach their mandate narrowly? If Cohen’s admissions lead to a large scale investigation of the Trump Org’s books, isn’t it reasonable to assume that Trump or Giuliani will get advanced notice of major steps from FBI agents just like they did in the fall of 2016?

      • bmaz says:

        Hey Kevin, yes it did indeed get caught up in the filter. Not quite sure why…..often it is because of multiple links in a comment, but that was not the case here. Anyway I was kind of out and not paying attention, as were Marcy and Rayne too.

        At any rate, no clue as to the answers to your questions, but they are very good questions. SDNY seems to be doing its job as to Cohen. But there never has been an accounting for what happened in 2016. As much as it is easy to grouse about Comey, and he deserves every ounce of it, and then some going back long before then, but it seems clear that he really was motivated in part by pressure from the field office of the FBI in Manhattan. And, yet, there has never really been an accounting of that.

    • Kevin Finnerty says:

      To the mods- I tried to post this earlier, but entered the wrong email address and I think the comment got swallowed up by the filter.

      One of the murkier threads of 2016 was the role anti-Clinton/pro-Trump bias at the NYC FBI field office, and possibly SDNY, played in the public disclosure that Clinton emails had been found on Weiner’s laptop in late October. By some reports, this bias was deep and visceral.

      It’s worth asking whether pro-Trump sentiment will influence the investigation into the Trump Org. Either by construing the parameters as narrowly as possible. Or by having major developments leak to Trump, perhaps via Giuliani, as happened with the Weiner/Clinton information in October 2016.

      • Trip says:

        It’s disturbing that this issue was supposed to be investigated by Horowitz’s team and yet…nada. Didn’t Comey say that there would be a report coming shortly, sometime back around the time he was fired (May 2017)?

        Was the issue dropped because of Trump administration pressure, or is there a larger investigation which sprung from it? It’s strange that the Democrats aren’t hammering the IG for answers. It’s like everyone simply dropped this inquiry and then forgot about it. Perhaps intentionally. AT any rate, we got rushed reports on McCabe, Page and Stzork. The radio silence is deafening.

  3. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Since about 1970, Weisselberg has not worked for anyone but Fred or the Don. He must know a lot, but telling it would upend his world. He would need to be motivated.

    • Ed Walker says:

      Weisselberg is at least 70; he’s fixed for life. Why wouldn’t he cooperate if it meant he protects his freedom.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Ah, there’s the rub.  What does he have to give in order to protect himself?  Confirming Cohen’s crimes isn’t even the grass in the Easter basket.

        It’s important to lock in the Cohen guilty plea, which is an important step in establishing state level crimes, for which a presidential pardon are worthless.  It’s important in making sure Cohen is under continuing pressure to spill.  He, like Weisselberg, would have lots of stories to tell over the campfire.

        It seems most important in tying the Trump Org to those crimes.  That’s the Swiss Army knife tool that might help open the can of worms that is the Trump enterprise.  But he wouldn’t give that up without a little encouragement of the sort the SDNY is probably expert at providing.

  4. Allison Holland says:

    it is the very creepiness of the trump empire that has delivered its undoing. its creepy thugishness insulated it for decades but its shameless, inbred, trump-born ick factor has exposed its weaknesses too. there just arent that many monsters to slay before the cyclops is unprotected and dethroned.

  5. Willis Warren says:

    They don’t have a legal strategy because they didn’t have a good plan to hide all this in the first place. I suspect that Weisselberg’s cooperation will only uncover more crimes and lead to more cooperation. Trump will fire Sessions and this whole thing will throw the country into chaos because McConnell is a huge fucking asshole and pussy

    • Avattoir says:

      FWIW, I’ve been known to enjoy a ribald tale & even to utter many a starkly Saxon epithet. So, I’d have no problem with ‘blow job’, ‘ratfucker’, and ‘a-hole’ even outside striving to serve accuracy and respect terms of art.

      But I draw my line before ‘pussy’, at least in this way. My mother was the bravest person I’ve known anywhere in my family, which includes men who been in military service in major including World wars, most of whom were wounded, some of whom spent time as POWs or political prisoners. Plus I’ve spent enough time on farms to know that cocks aren’t so much brave as indiscriminate.

      And I’d apologize for Sam the Eagle pontificating except too often here it gets lost that fearless leader is not male.

      • DrDavidK says:

        Yes, please refrain from the sexist “pussy.” (Plus, anatomically speaking, you can’t be both an asshole and a pussy.) “Pussy” is language Donald Trump would use: it assumes that men who have no spine or courage are … like women. It’s no better than “throws like a girl,” and just feeds into the masculinist and misogynistic culture that got Trump elected. Call the Republicans in Congress, including McConnell, what they are: invertebrates.

        • Valley girl says:

          I’m trying to come up with a better word than “invertebrates”.  And, admittedly, being pedantic.  But as a biologist, being an invertebrate is not the worst thing in the world.
          The little things that run the world
          Let’s try to come up with a better word. But, I am stumped at present. Need halp!

            • Trip says:

              I think that gives McConnell too much credit and most in the GOP: To assume cowardice is holding back some higher principle. He’s (they’re) not afraid to fight the manifestation of the corrupt Trump, (as some guardian(s) of doing the right thing), because he (they) actively created and fed the monster.

          • Pete says:

            Well…the intertoobz seems stumped on the number of sub classes of invertebrates but they all seem to have sponges and worms in their respective lists.

            So, either one of them works for me.

      • AB 909 says:

        I have been thinking puss sack is reasonably accurate. Truly disgusting and evidence of a larger infection.

  6. SteveB says:

    Given the content of the released tape about the McDougal payment, Weisselberg was on the hook for conspiracy to violate campaign finance plus other stuff, but couldn’t SDNY have been in the position to made him an offer he couldn’t refuse? IE Tell him that they will immunize him re his testimony on that subject area, whether he agrees or not, and then he faces coercive contempt if he refused to testify or testify truthfully ? Not saying that’s how it went down, but *if he could have been* coerced in that way , or some variant of it (and I stand to be corrected by those who know much better than me if these are realistic, possible or ethical tactics) then reluctant limited cooperation could have been obtained from Weusselberg simply from recogizing the options available to the Govt without them having to spell it out. Of course once he is cooperating, albeit on a limited immunity, its very difficult to refuse next request.

      • Prairie Boy says:

        Maybe I am being simplistic, but EW, is it possible that are you conflating the decision to waive privilege (by both parties) with the decision to release the tape? It seems like there was a risk that the tape would fall into the crime/fraud exception of Attorney Client Privilege. Rather than litigate that publicly, the parties decided to waive. Possibly hoping that the SDNY would not move fast enough so that it would remain out of the public until after the midterms. Then, over the two days, perhaps Cohen got cold feet (the relationship could have been deteriorating before then) and decided that he didn’t want to get thrown under the bus. So he made a unilateral decision to release the tape to try and demonstrate his willingness to work with the prosecutors (or as a shot over the bow to Trump). Like I said, could be simplistic but I have always been a fan of Occam’s Razer.

        • SteveB says:

          The first public reporting of the tape was 20 July

          It seems pretty clear that Trump withdrew privilege claim to avoid having the argument about whether it was a crime fraud exception to privilege being conducted in public.

          They certainly had time to strategise what to do about this eventuality, and so it is reasonably safe to assume that there was a calulated strategy behind what they did, even if there was an element of Rudy bodging the execution of it.

          Team Trump appear to have thought that they could manage the story best by getting ahead of it. This now seems like a miscalculation : they were not successful in persuading anyone (except perhaps the most delusional Trumpers) that the contents were innoccuous for Trump; they have been slightly more successful in persuading people that the contents came to public attention because of Cohen. But I suppose their strategy on this is the same as always, push back hard with dissembling lies and false optimism in the hope that they could shape the public narrative.

          I don’t think it is absolutely accurate to say Cohen took a unilateral decision to release the tape. Rudy was mischaracterising its contents, and it is clear that they were on the point of throwing Cohen under the bus, so the release was a retaliation to the provocations by Rudy.

          • bmaz says:

            Yeah. They were going to lose the crime/fraud exception argument, and that would have been a crystal clear finding that would have been a VERY black eye. Discretion was the better part of valor on that one, and they were smart to not contest it.

  7. Avattoir says:

    Apparently El Chefty has posed for a photo op in the Oval Office with one of the Imperial High Nitwits of QAnon.

    So, I while endorse the POINT of fearless leader’s post here – not to go counting chickens in pots, especially when reports of both don’t even rise to dubious – it’s worth re-upping that Trump is no legal straterjury supergenius, nor is anyone close to him, and to the extent anyone at all near him is bright, IAE Trump’s been incapable of taking counsel since Pop and Roy Coen passed.

    Also, now we’re all about to be flooded deeper in QAnon qrap than Hawai’i in salt water.

    [Who said there’s no i in Avattoir?]

  8. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Donald Trump, at the Ohio GOP’s annual dinner, praises Rep. Jim Jordan’s “wrestling skills”.

    Was that a double entendre or was Trump – in a self-protective fit – jamming a pike in the eye of the anti-sexual predator movement?

    • Bri2k says:

      The latter. Agent Orange and his ilk can’t help being constantly offensive. They take it as a point of pride.

  9. Avattoir says:

    How eager or remotely like it does anyone even imagine Emmett Flood is to be named White House Counsel?
    Over the decades, I’ve acted for many a shady character and legions of mugs, pugs & thugs, but I’ve never encouraged, instead have actively discouraged, anything remotely like an in-house position.
    On this front at least, I doubt Flood is any different.

    • bmaz says:

      I actually think it is quite possible. And may have been the understanding when brought into his current role.

      • Bob Conyers says:

        Assuming he’s a smart guy and would jump ship before he risked any major legal exposure, or damage to his career, is he better off as White House Counsel or a personal attorney for Trump?

      • Avattoir says:

        Even if it was, he’d have to be incredibly naive or stupid or both to get past what he’s had a front row for since.



      • emptywheel says:

        I thought it was the understanding.

        He serves the GOP. At some point there will have to be a firewall on the rest of the party from the damage Trump has done. My suspicion is that’s what he’s there for.

        • orionATL says:

          ” At some point there will have to be a firewall on the rest of the party from the damage Trump has done”

          if you mean “firewall” to negotiate trump’s resignation from the presidency on condition of no prosecution (and dropping all state charges to boot?), maybe so.

          but the real firewall between this president and the gop is one or the other chamber of congress, members of both who happen to be terrified of the gasoline-soaked voting pyres awaiting their courageous intervention to save the grand old party. thus the destruction of the reputation of the party seems a fatal inevitability, the consequence of its intransigent and loyal-to-the-death primary voters. all summer long the president has been stoking those demented loyalists who in turn keep lighting those pyres under the apostates.

          when it’s all over we should have both major political parties severely crippled rather than just one.

  10. Wm. Boyce says:

    “Since about 1970, Weisselberg has not worked for anyone but Fred or the Don. He must know a lot, but telling it would upend his world. He would need to be motivated.”
    How about the four walls of a prison cell? Seems like he’s already upended and motivated, although not by choice.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Prosecution and conviction, after a public trial might be useful, unless the Red Queen has come to town.

  11. SpaceLifeForm says:

    Lanny ‘Glomar’ Davis:


    “It was painful,” he told Axios’ Jonathan Swan after being asked why he and Cohen didn’t do more to dispute CNN’s reporting. “We were not the source, we could not confirm, and we could not correct. We had to be silent because of the sensitivity needed in the middle of a criminal investigation.”

  12. Dc says:

    Is it possible both parties consented to waive privilege of the recordings because they revealed evidence of a crime, and it was better to let them emerge than have the special master deny based on crime/fraud exception?

  13. Kick the darkness says:

    “I think the SDNY’s investigation of Trump Organization’s involvement in illegal hush payments and NYS’s investigation of the Trump Foundation pose the additional risk that the Trump business empire will collapse as people scrutinize both its legal shenanigans and its debt.”

    To my understanding, the skankiness (pb not a real word) and feedlot reek of Trump’s enterprise has been a fairly known quantity since the 1980’s. Like when one drives north on I5, you always know when you’re passing Stockton. Why would Trumpworld have survived serious legal inroads until now? And it’s entirely possible that my impression of it having not been the recipient of prior scrutiny is simply incorrect.

    • Kick the darkness says:

      It occurred to me in traffic on the 91, not the 5, that Wayne Barrett’s book should provide a good overview of Trump’s past legal scrutiny.  And, indeed, from a precursory overview, the book basically reads Trump = mob.  I’ll paste in a quote below.  You don’t even get past the forward before  Rudy, the human shit-fog machine, makes an appearance.  Quick snooping around is that Trump clearly has drawn investigative attention to himself.  But it seems kind of like Germany in the past WC, shots peppered around the mouth of goal but not enough on frame.  Things are as they are, and maybe at the root of it I’m just an ingenue who thinks there has to be a rationale narrative for how things play out.  But if the investigative force necessary to crack Trump from the financial side (the red line as I recall) is being brought to bear now, as it kind of seems to be, what if that had happened earlier?  How much damage might have been averted?

      At any rate, a timeline for earlier Trump investigations: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2016/10/31/a-quick-review-of-40-years-of-investigations-into-donald-trumps-businesses/?utm_term=.c5aa9c31b686

      A James Henry piece I’d book marked some time ago on Trump, Panama papers, Bayrock, Tevfik Arif, Felix Sater, etc…wasn’t Sater supposedly phoning home to the FBI? https://www.the-american-interest.com/2016/12/19/the-curious-world-of-donald-trumps-private-russian-connections/

      And the Barrett quote: “The lights illuminating the waterfall (of Trump Tower) were installed by a contractor whose brother-in-law, Donald Manes, voted for the tower’s zoning variance as a member of the city’s reigning Board of Estimates, a few years before he plunged a kitchen knife into his chest just as US Attorney Rudy Guiliani was about to indict him.  Trump’s lawyer on the Trump Tower tax abatement, Stanley Friedman, was Mane’s partner in crime who delivered a second Board of Estimate vote for the tower and was later convicted by Giuliani on unrelated racketeering charges.  Guiliani once opened a probe into Trump’s sale of a Trump Tower apartment to the head of one of the city’s largest gambling rings, who brought a briefcase of cash to a closing that Donald personally attended.  Guiliani is now an informal campaign advisor to his onetime donor Trump.”


      • harpie says:

        But if the investigative force necessary to crack Trump from the financial side (the red line as I recall) is being brought to bear now, as it kind of seems to be, what if that had happened earlier?  How much damage might have been averted?

        Here’s a great article by Jesse Eisinger [ProPublica] that tackles that issue:

         Why does it take a special counsel to take down obvious tax frauds and bank cheats? Mueller is exposing the white-collar prosecution crisis. My take on the news this week, published with the NYT:

        Why Manafort and Cohen Thought They’d Get Away With It It takes a special counsel to actually catch white-collar criminals.

        […] The FBI shifted agents to work on international terror in the wake of 9/11. White-collar cases made up about one-tenth of the Justice Department’s cases in recent years, compared with one-fifth in the early 1990s. The IRS’ criminal enforcement capabilities have been decimated by years of budget cuts and attrition. The Federal Election Commission is a toothless organization that is widely flouted. […]


        • Kick the darkness says:

          Thanks for the link.  Yeah, that’s the perspective I was looking for.  It’s alarming, although not surprising, that Eisinger’s take on prosecution of white collar crime is that laxity is pervasive and general.  Concentration of wealth being antithetical to democracy-a big item that hopefully will get higher prioritization on the post-Trump to do list.

  14. oldoilfieldhand says:

    Presindebt Trump knows that the walls are closing in. Have you heard that tripe on newscasts?
    Fortunately living in Switzerland and Spain to limit lengthly airplane journeys while toiling in the African sun, I managed to live my adult life without ever having seen a single episode of Trump TV. I have nonetheless garnered that conflicts between people on his show were deliberately introduced to add interest and captivate low IQ viewers. A proven reality TV formula responsible for household name recognition of people the public would now like to forget, but are helplessly unable to because of pervasive targeted, algorithmic advertising.
    It appears that Presindebt Trump has mastered the medium and the genre. How else to explain a scoundrel and trustafarian in the White House. I am so old I remember when the GOP platform included personal fidelity, fiscal responsibility (publicly at lest) and a world view of united allied democratic leadership, dedicated, ostensibly, to improving the lives of all people.
    Since becoming Presindebt (to Russia), he has had how many unprecedented conflicts in his administration? At least one weekly, would you say? More, when unexpected responses triggered mirror conflicts in the public and ratings soared? Even more when additional, conflicted, and additionally conflicted persons are inevitably introduced to the weekly finale by the gullible and sycophantic mainstream press? Algorithmically increasing viewership and hocking whatever the public will buy is the plan. Sceptic, cynic…am I…Pet Rocks…
    Take deep breaths people, Presindebt Trump will be leaving the stage (Whitehouse) when he is forced out, clawing and crying about his ratings. But he is ensuring, with the help of mainstream media (if it bleeds it leads), that he will be in the spotlight for the rest of his short political life. This is too bad for the kids; they’ve got enough problems with climate change and voracious cannibalistic capitalism, resulting inevitably in concentrated un-gated enclaves of day workers who will fight for scraps since full time jobs will be history.
    There is good news for you eternal optimists like myself, cable TV will be provided by the government (in lieu of potable water, medical care and education).

  15. renfro says:

    I agree.
    My understandng is that Weisselberg was given immunity ‘only’ for the Cohen case.
    Weisselberg had also already been deposed by New York State Attorney General, Barbara Underwood in the NY State law suit aganst the Trump Charity Foundation
    NOW.. hours after Cohen pleaded guilty in Federal Court the NY tax department confirmed it has also subpoenaed Cohen in the Trump Charity Foundaton case.
    Sooo…..besides Mueller and the “Federal case’ surroundng Trump there is the New York Attorney General, The New York State Department of Taxation and Finance, the Manhattan District Attorney, and the Southern District of New York.
    It seems to me there are are a lot of strings waiting to be pulled in these State cases that could send more information and names to Mueller’s Federal Case.
    I would be waiting for some info from these cases that might tie in not just Trumps Charity, but Trump’s business organization that could give Mueller reason to call Weisselberg in again. That could be the string unravels it all.

  16. earlofhuntingdon says:

    The supposedly “far left” Salon’s executive editor, Andrew O’Hehir, adopts a now common theme to explain Trump’s crime boss demeanor: He is one.

    Not to worry, he’s only a second-rate crime boss, the kind who would take a meeting with Barzini without wondering where it was to take place or who invited him to it.

    O’Hehir casually explains and normalizes an outrageous man. Along the way, he tells us that Trump “blundered” into the WH, and that rumors of the Don working with the Ruskies are little more than an abandoned first draft of a John le Carre novel.

    It’s all so simple. And flipping Cohen, Pecker, and Weisselberg? Just “a demonstration of prosecutorial power.” He’s even convinced that Mueller agrees with him.


    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      The thing O’Hehir leaves out that most damages public debate is agency.  In fact, deleting agency seems to be his central point.

      Blundering, for example, removes purposeful conduct in explaining Trump’s success.  It ignores why the GOP gives such unquestioning support to so damaging an incompetent.

      O’Hehir’s claim that the Ruskie involvement is smoke and mirrors is misdirection.  His conclusion is premature, the jury hasn’t even been instructed on that yet.  The American intelligence community disagrees with him, though, as does Mueller, which demolishes his claim that he agrees with him.

      O’Hehir’s “second-rate” characterization conveys that we’re all safe.  We’re dealing with fat Clemenza here, not Michael Corleone.  He might do some shit we don’t like, but he doesn’t threaten anything except the waistband on his silk suits.  (Well, Paulie’s in trouble, but take the canoli.)

      I’ve heard better bullshit from the kids who didn’t do their homework.

      • Valley girl says:

        Thanks for the great analysis and insights.   I read the article and was simply puzzled.  I didn’t know what to make of it.  But your comment helps muchly.  I don’t have the facility for words nor for conjuring up mesmerizing metaphors and similes that you do.

        Reading the article, I remembered something I once read in maybe the NYT or WaPo, thus~ the Mueller investigation will proceed as a Gambino style wrap up- okay I found a sorta link.

        A source close to the administration tells the Post that Mueller is running “a classic Gambino-style roll-up” that “will reach everyone in this administration.”

        All help welcome in understanding this description.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          The “roll-up” the quote refers to is straightforward.  Compromise the little guy, the button man who actually shoots, threatens, breaks knee caps, disposes of human or physical evidence.  Get him to flip on the guy who told him who to hit or hurt.  Up the chain you go until you get to the top.

          At each level, the guy knows more than the guy below him about the crimes, the objectives, the money, and the guys above him.  The criminal liability goes up, too.  Once in a while, if you’re lucky and very good, you get the guy at the top: the capo de tutti capi, the boss of bosses, in the language of the Kefauver Commission.

          The higher up you go, though, the more danger for the investigators and prosecutors.  Criminals defend themselves with extreme prejudice.  Higher end criminals have more compromised contacts in the law, police, journalism, courts, business, politics.  The more you threaten the criminals, the more you threaten those who aid them.

          High-end crime is inseparable from high-end wealth, business and politics.  It might be more obvious in Russia or perhaps Italy.  But money laundering bankers, whether in Switzerland, the Caribbean or elsewhere, have clients from everywhere.

        • Michael says:

          First of all, “Gambino-style roll-op” would refer to the “roll-up” – a series inter-related indictments – of the Gambino crime family, by prosecutors (i.e. it’s not the Gambinos doing the rolling-up).

          The term “roll-up” goes back at least as far as the American Civil War. I remember reading of a particular commander, contemplating engagement with an already-entrenched enemy and well-placed artillery, held his infantry on a short leash while his cavalry secretly moved to the enemy’s flank (the ends of their trenches). When his cavalry struck with complete surprise, they “rolled them up like a blanket”.

          • Valley girl says:

            Thanks to you and to @earl for your responses.  I get it now.  As an aside, in CA, where I went to college, there was someone in the class above me whose last name was Gambin.  It was rumored that his family changed their last name from Gambino to Gambin, and moved to CA to get out of the mob business.  That may be partly why the quote stuck in my mind.

  17. Ericadec3 says:

    Why would prosecutors need Wessinburg for Cohen? He already pleaded guilty! They are clearly building a case aganist Jr!

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      They needed Weisselberg to prove Cohen’s crimes a month or more ago, before his admission and allocution.  Cohen admitted to a specific, narrow range of crimes.  Weisselberg’s evidence related to the Trump Org end of those crimes and helped determine how Cohen’s statements were crafted and limited, in cooperation with SDNY.

      Separately, Weisselberg’s evidence provides probable cause to investigate the Trump Org and its senior executives for participating in those crimes.  (Weisselberg himself would be immunized, broadly or narrowly, depending on the grant of immunity.)  That investigation might also provide evidence of unrelated crimes.

      The odds of finding evidence of other crimes seem good.  A myriad of crimes might relate to Trump’s disdain for process, for government, for respecting and keeping in existence separate legal entities, and for transaction costs – e.g., accounting, tax, bank frauds.  Then there are crimes that might relate to his business model, such as money laundering. A potential cornucopia.  But baby steps, because the SDNY are bound by process limitations, too.

  18. James Hester says:

    How naive is to say that Weissellberg is cooperating, the word is saving his rear end. He is supposed to act like a cannery and cough information on as needed basis. That is how immunity work

    • it's complicated says:

      Please forgive me for being curious. Not being a native speaker myself, I can’t help noticing that you seem to make very peculiar types of mistakes. May I ask, just out of linguistic curiosity,  what your native language is?

  19. Arice says:

    I think you’re missing something about the waiver of privilege on the tape where they discuss the payoffs. We all know there’s no privilege for a lawyer and client committing a crime together. The payoff is clearly a violation of SOME kind of campaign law no matter how it’s spun. Therefore, claims of privilege were never going to bear up to scrutiny. So they tried to “get ahead of it” by volunteering to waive. Which backfired, anyway. But it was always going to bite them in the ass.

  20. FRANK E says:

    and where are Jared and Ivanka hiding these days….. ?
    The shit is so thick the’ve run for cover. And in this administration, Jared may be the next to ‘flip’….

  21. Avattoir says:

    Technically I’m responding here to Bob Conyers at 1:42 (since the site robot won’t let me in there), tho I’m also thinking on comments fearless or bmaz posted on this.

    I don’t think there’s even any room for debate as to which an attorney would preferr, because

    1. an attorney on record as acting solely for the interests an individual client in a specific context has LESS – not just a little: way less –
    a. potential for conflict of interest, and
    b. exposure to formal legal review & discipline by 3rd party institutions in particular (They’re pretty much insulated except against bar associations, state licensing bodies and the extent the judiciary has input on standing.)

    2. But to deal with your question, IMO it’s necessary here to expand on 1.b.:
    Serving in an official capacity in a role that has institutional standing –
    such as is the case with White House Counsel
    (even tho instinctively a lot of would say, and as well it can be argued pretty convincingly, that WHC doesn’t have anything like the same nature or degree of institutional standing as offices that are, say, specifically named or necessarily contemplated in the constitution, or designated in a federal law or regulation or even any executive order or directive) –
    not just conceivably but, in my experience, invariably has the effect of, AOT, imposing on whoever the attorney is serving in that office, not just a further and additional set of responsibilities but also separate and additional exposure to review and discipline, that per force takes what attorneys do –
    the big categories being:
    a. receiving and gathering information, including confidential information,
    b. providing confidential advice, and
    c. sticking strictly to the scope of their agency to serve those purposes,
    and blowing them up like in some math physics concept that expands spacetime in all theoretical directions immediately and exponentially into infinity.
    The DIFFERENCE is you as attorney no longer have a practical handle on where any risks and threat posed by 3rd part review and discipline are coming from.

    Now, without suggesting I’m smarter than Flood, I am OLDER than he is, with (I’m guessing here, but pretty sure) quite a bit broader work experience. The upshot is I don’t see what I just laid out above in some dry inanimate way: I’ve actually BEEN through the differences or observed or been intimately involved with colleagues who’ve been through them. Not a lot of attorneys with Flood’s background are compelled to deal with the so-called Bloody Shirt problem or indeed a host of seemingly more prosaic ethical challenge, but what makes the job for attorneys working the territory that Flood works so damned difficult is just about every direction is fraught with ethical monsters and fatal drops.
    So the DISTINCTIONS between acting as an attorney for a single client, and acting in a institutional or quasi-institutional role, are way more stark, the latter being fraught with special dangers and deadly drops.
    And I’m pretty sure right now that Don McGahn would be unreserved right now in agreeing with me on that.

    Okay, so far so good. But each of emptywheel and bmaz comments as to ‘hearing’ otherwise – almost like the WHC position was ‘the dangle’ that got Flood involved.

    First, having hung about online emptywheel for well over a decade now, I absolutely accept that both are reporting true things accurately. Second, I don’t know nor do I expect to be informed on their sources, but both have years of demonstrated great judgment on this sort of thing, so Imma accept that as well. And further, the idea that the GOP would want their own Man in Havana and he’d be an able one makes sense to me.

    But IMO it’s still completely bananas, with nut sprinkles, to think, objectively, that one would WANT to take on all that extra exposure in THESE peculiar circumstances, especially after having hung around in the vicinity of the Mad WH Party for the weeks /months that Flood has by now. To me, I think to anyone who does what we do, it’d look like signing a suicide pact: your rep will never survive, this’ll haunt you to your dying day, no one’s ever going to trust you again, you’re probably Dead in this Town, and there’s a really good change you’ll due some pen time.

    • Trip says:

      Avattoir (and Avattor)

      Your perspective and analysis is based upon personal experience, and from what I have gathered of you, respect and love for the rule of law, aside from the risk/reward ratio consideration.

      But as you know, no matter the past pedigree of education, experience and stature, there are those who use the law only as vehicle for personal enrichment or to achieve goals of the larger, hidden agendas. I think McGahn qualifies for this BIGLY. He knew what he was embarking on through the vehicle of Trump, which he took on early. He has the backing of the chief Satan-fart, McConnell. He may weasel out of serious consequence; his excuse of saving his ass and talking to Mueller because his lawyer thought Trump would throw him under the bus, notwithstanding. The goal was always to use Trump, get the judges through, and then toss Donald back into the dumpster from which he came.

      How do we know that Flood is any different? Maybe he couldn’t care less about the higher standard of rule of law, the constitution, but is content to follow radical libertarian paths to more wealth and power via the Koch network? As far as failed reputation, the scoundrels in the GOP tend to get second and third lives. Especially if they have provided expert over.

      The object of power is power. ~Orwell.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        The Orwell quote is spot on.

        We don’t know that Flood is different; we only know he might be.  McGahn, on the other hand, has been a creature of Republican Party electioneering his entire career.  He would have relied on power to justify and excuse his zealotry.

        When the worm turns, that sometimes becomes not enough.  But more often than high school civics lessons and the old Hollywood production code would allow, it is enough.  The Mr. Potters of the world often successfully turn their Bedford Falls into Pottersvilles.

    • Bob Conyers says:

      Avattoir, thanks, that’s helpful perspective. One thing I’m trying to get my head around is the stuff you say would haunt him to his dying day — someone in Flood’s position must be expecting the day when Trump tells him to do something like destroy evidence, tamper with witnesses, and the like. And what’s more, Trump will order this in front of witnesses, the destruction of evidence would require Flood to leave his figurative fingerprints over everything, the works.

      Is it easier for him to quit (or be fired) in this case as private attorney, or WH Counsel? I suspect it’s easier for a former WH Counsel to speak publicly to defend himself, but I’m not sure about that. And with the official office I suspect there are more legal excuses not to do certain things — avoiding documentation, for example — than the private job, but I’m not sure. And obviously, as you say, there are a lot of curveballs that come with the WH Counsel job that you don’t get with the private role.

      My sense is that this job would be easier at the very end of a presidency than right now, in the same way that Alexander Haig’s job was less risky than Bob Haldeman’s job. It’s easier to shut down a bankrupt company than it is to keep a struggling one afloat, although neither one is any fun.


  22. maybe ryan says:

    Reply isn’t working properly for me right now. (What was the fix again?)
    So this in response to Kevin’s post about anti-Clinton/pro-Trump bias at the NY FBI.

    While there’s always the “being anti-Clinton is inherently pro-Trump” principle, I think it’s worth questioning whether the bias there may not have been merely anti-Clinton. On my better days, which is most days, I believe the email thing was just a huge fuck-up by Secretary Clinton and her then-staff.

    Yet, if you started out believing that the Clinton’s were corrupt, which is something I’ve believed ever since the incredible cattle futures story came out decades ago, then it’s fairly easy to believe that the email situation was a cover-up for corruption. And then, if you learn that Huma had a huge archive of Hillary’s emails, that the Bureau was now in possession of, you might well react with righteous fury.

    I also want to mention that the Blumenthal shit should have been disqualifying for Hillary – her primary interlocutor on Libya was trying to profiteer on his connection to her, selling a bullshit theory of the Civil War to her (that the rebels couldn’t beat Qaddafi unless they got American training), while insisting to the Libyans that no American aid would be forthcoming till they signed contracts with the training firm he was repping; a threat they surely believed carried the imprimatur of the Secretary.

    The Republicans certainly over-hyped their committee hearings. Yet it was one of my first big lessons in how mainstream media does cover up for Democrats when the Blumenthal shit was described as “he didn’t even get the contract.”

    Well, fuck no, he didn’t. Because the rebels he said couldn’t win without American training won without American training before he could get the contract signed. He was not only corrupt, he was a comically bad observer of the situation.

    I don’t think I’d have threatened to leak the Weiner laptop if I were FBI. I understand the rules and why they’re in place. But I hardly think it had to be some insidious pro-Trump plotters doing so corruptly. I get it, frankly. I get why honest FBI guys with little enthusiasm for Trump might have been furious at the idea that after years of trying to break the case, they now had a big cache of Hillary’s emails in the office that might not get checked till after the election.

    • TheraP says:

      The “fix” – click on ‘reply.’ And when the little window opens up, click on “open in new tab.”

      Though you do not appear to be “under” the comment, the system will put you there when you click post.

  23. maybe ryan says:

    Edit also isn’t showing up, so I can’t change that ugly “Clinton’s” to “Clintons.” Gah!

  24. maybe ryan says:

    Can anyone tell me how they explain people like Flake and Corker retiring? I heard the Flake interview on This American Life last night and wanted to scream. He had the gall to bring up Lincoln, and I thought, yeah, you dip—t, Lincoln had the guts to run for Senate and lose on principle. Why the hell didn’t you?

    What I wonder is why these two were unwilling to go down fighting? I can only explain it as some sort of personal fear – that Trump knew something or might know something about them that made them believe a campaign would be too personally risky. People seem to be advancing that theory about Lindsay Graham’s turn-around as well.

    Did they just not have the heart to run if there was a chance of defeat? Seems weird to me. Lacking in ambition and ego, in a position where you had to have extraordinary amounts of both to get there in the first place.

    (I may have been upset already, since the Flake piece came after TAL’s mindless repetition of the “identity vote fraud never happens” theorem, a plank so important to Democrats that in my experience, prosecuting solid cases is now unappealing to local prosecutors because it would seem to subvert the party platform. Gah, maybe our institutions are so corrupt that it’s right to suspect the NY FBI of tanking things for Trump.)

    • Frank Probst says:

      You pretty much answered your own question.  They didn’t want to lose.  They have ego in spades, and it’s much better for your personal biography to leave “your” Senate seat by retiring than by losing it in either a primary or a general election.

  25. readerOfTeaLeaves says:

    @oldoilfieldhand 4:18 pm, it’s a safe bet that plenty of us who read and comment at EW never saw The Apprentice, so were flying a bit blind in 2016. I have long thought his tagline, “You’re fired!” had a certain appeal to millions of Americans, who hoped that he could somehow ‘fire’ Congress on their behalf.

    One of my kin, a retired banker, and pillar of her community, voted for Trump on the premise that he understood business (!). Back in the day, she watched The Apprentice; and assumed that he was competent. She’s surely not the only one who made that mistake.

    Years ago, I read a book (“On Bended Knee”) in which Reagan’s media guy (Michael Deaver), apparently a gifted pianist, was quoted as saying, ‘in the battle between the eye and the ear, the eye wins every time’. Deaver was a genius at staging situations to make Reagan *look* amiable, reasonable, avuncular, and decent. Talk about ‘branding’: surely, Trump took note. The print journalists don’t seem to understand this trick of cognition: the theater critics (Frank Rich at NYT comes to mind) are generally astute at interpreting what’s really going on, and Deaver was a (cynical) genius at it.

    IOW, Trump’s behavior on the old tv show almost certainly overrode a few hundred million words and written reports of the dangers he posed.

    But with the news of Pecker and AMI, it also seems that those of us who avoided the National Inquirer like a virus did not recognize some of Trump’s dog whistles, nor take seriously his version of ‘news’. The NI surely helps explain how a large chunk of the population would view news as ‘fake’, and expect one sensation after another. It never was about truth or accuracy for them; it was always about ‘infotainment’.

    @kick in the darkness: I’ve not used the word ‘skank’ or ‘skanky’ in years; however, in recent weeks, it’s the only word filthy and disgusting enough to describe the political skanks like Manafort, Stone, and their ilk. It’s a useful word; in a better political environment, it would be unnecessary.

    • Doctor My Eyes says:

      (Hover the mouse over the “REPLY” button and right click “Open in new tab”.  Go to new tab.  Write comment.  h/t to whoever first posted this useful trick a week or so ago.)

      My daughter canvassed a poor, almost all African American community in Philadelphia before the election. Standing out from the overwhelming apathy she encountered was one black man who planned to vote for Trump because he liked him from The Apprentice.

      Speaking of my daughter, when she was in 6th grade, her 4th grade sister screamed at her one morning over a clothing conflict, “You skank!” No idea where she got that word, which I hadn’t heard in decades, but I’ve haven’t heard it uttered with such passion before or since.

    • Kick the darkness says:

      Given the reputation of one of our hosts, I suppose I felt inclined to take liberties.  Then again, as I recall the last time I tried using a “but everybody else” type of excuse Mama dragged me to the sink with a bar of soap.

  26. Peacerme says:


    thank you. And yes. People are bored and in despair so they look for some reality other than their own. Rich and powerful, better than…these are the judgements that kill.

  27. maybe ryan says:

    The Inquirer never had much more than a million readers, and has been at 3-400,000 in recent years. Frankly, there’s reason to believe the Venn diagram of these people and registered voters shows little overlap. The Inquirer’s influence here was not on their readers, but by keeping information out of other news outlets whose readers vote.

    • Trip says:

      While that’s probably true, historically, it acted like a tiny billboard on the supermarket line, reaching a larger mass with scandalous headline. How much seeps in subliminally? How much credibility did they gain being right about the Edwards’ story?

      • Frank Probst says:

        This hadn’t even occurred to me, but now that you bring it up, I realize that I ALWAYS look at the National Enquirer’s headlines when I’m in line at the supermarket.  (And the last time I remember actually buying it was when they published an article that (correctly) identified who shot J.R.)

        • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

          Sticking with my theme of how important visual cognition is, and how it often overrides written words:  it would be a great project for some graduate students to catalog all the National Enquirer cover images + headlines over the past 20 years.  Too bad that Mueller’s team doesn’t have a budget for that kind of data project… it’s a great Open Source idea, however.  It would be interesting to see what role the NE had in sabotaging Clinton and Obama, as well as fluffing Trump over the past 20 years —  a timeline of headlines would probably provide chilling insight.

          I strongly dislike having to encounter ‘National Enquirer brain pollution’ at the checkout counters so much that I tend to shop only in what might be called ‘upscale’ groceries, so I that don’t have to see that crap.  When I have commented to my local store manager about how much I appreciate their policy of putting very selective, beautiful, food-related magazines on its checkout racks, I’m told that their consumer research shows quite strongly that their target customers adamantly do not want to have to look at National Enquirer — I don’t think it’s even in their magazine section.  Basically, their market demographics mean that smut like the National Enquirer is bad for their business model.

          It would be mighty interesting to overlay sales of the National Enquirer with Trump voters, and it seems highly likely that ‘National Enquirer reader’ was one of the data fields that Cambridge Analytica would have built in to their psychometric models.  Given what we’re now seeing, that would have made a ton of sense.

          It seems quite likely that the Russians, or ‘whoever’, were laundering topics, images, and cultural content into the minds of the US public via the National Enquirer or related muscle mags.  Same parallel ‘topic insertion’ probably could be tracked in the UK related to the Brexit vote, depending on which publications were on the store racks in voting districts.

  28. Tracy says:

    I have to say that I did not know the details about McCain’s imprisonment; he was a real hero and a patriot. Contrast that w/ President Bone Spur, the rest of his party and where they’re headed. He spoke out strongly after Helsinki (the most disgraceful performance he’d ever seen), and did the right thing on healthcare (minus the tax bill that took away the individual mandate).

    Apparently he took the mic from someone at one of his town halls who’d called Obama an Arab and defended Obama. Contrast this w/ having someone in the WH who stokes those claims and has made them himself.

    I’m sure McCain would have been horrified when it comes out the full extent of Trump’s crimes and depravity, and would have wished he’d done more to stop it. He was a tiny stopgap in all of this madness, I am sure he’ll be honored for that.

    And Trump has been so disrespectful of him in his last months and days (such a small, small man), and that is forever on him for not cleaning that up before McCain left.

    McCain was the last of a kind, just look at the dire Republican party he leaves behind.

    • Trip says:

      I think the canonization is over the top. But I will hold my tongue. Yes, he sacrificed a great deal for his country in the armed services. He was also very kind and congenial to others like him in government. That concludes my tribute.

      • Frank Probst says:

        I’d add, as a simple statement with no criticism attached, that he chose Sarah Palin as his running mate in 2008.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Holding one’s tongue, refusing to speak while the many mourn.  Not behavior one associates with this WH or Republican Party.’

      Bmaz cites a good article from McCain’s hometown paper that is more complete and balanced than much of the current hagiography.  It renders the complexity of his life and career, much of it laudatory, more completely.

      It does not shy away from the less heroic, which makes the heroic bits stand out.  McCain was the son and grandson of full admirals, which made his attendance at Annapolis a foregone conclusion.  He graduated fifth from the bottom in a class of nearly 900.  Still, he obtained his dream slot in Naval aviation.

      A golden boy, he wanted to excel and rebel at the same time.  As a young flyer, he was considered a fuck-up.  He lost two planes in training. One he had apparently borrowed to attend an Army-Navy game; he went down on the way back to base.

      The paper provides a cite, but no discussion, to an article on McCain’s membership of the Keating Five, a bribery, corruption and bank fraud scandal of the 1980s, something that other hagiographers elide.

      That came early in his political career.  Earlier came his ugly and ironic divorce from his first wife in order to marry an Arizona beer heiress with a $100 million fortune.  (Other sources describe Cindy McCain more simply, as the daughter of a beer distributor.)  Despite obviously bad times, that marriage lasted.  It was McCain’s entree to Arizonan and national politics.  The rest, as they say, is history.

      • Trip says:

        Did you see the GOP candidate who alleged that McCain and his family announced his impending death to harm her campaign? Is there anyone in government or entering gov’t who isn’t a malignant narcissist or worse?

        • TheraP says:

          Remember Paul Welstone? (He died in a very strange plane crash.)

          He was the Real Deal. Quite a while ago. A very sad loss.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Here is the cite I referred to.  It’s from EW’s feed, not bmaz’s.

        Among his many attributes, McCain was an arch-opportunist.  When he was a captain and the Navy’s Senate liaison, for example, he lobbied with the Senate for a project the Navy brass did not want.  McCain always knew which side of the bread had the butter on it.  His congressional votes followed that lifelong pattern.

        His Naval service during Vietnam was an improvement over his earlier years.  His time as a POW was a horror.  It was also rife with political complications, since his father was CinCPac for most of it.

        That meant that every act of McCain’s had propaganda implications.  Had he come home earlier, for example, say as part of a medivac along with other wounded prisoners, the propaganda would have been that he received special treatment.  That would have embarrassed McCain, his father, and the Navy.

        McCain would have been under enormous pressure because of it: he was a senior POW officer, he had multiple injuries, he had been tortured, and everyone knew who his dad was.  Even being given medical care would have been hard.  And there were a lot of dead and dying North Vietnamese during 1967- 72, which would not have made any American POWs life easier.

        None of this is news.  McCain’s biography was dissected at length and in print during his 2008 presidential run.

        The Arizona politician who thinks that McCain died just to ruin her campaign deserves a special place in the netherworld.  But it speaks to the crudeness, narcissism, and paranoid opportunism that now call the GOP home.

        • Jan says:

          McCain struck me as a man who didn’t hide from his mistakes, and was willing to have a ‘chew’ with anyone about them in his later years.  He seems to have got wiser with age, which we all hope! we will do – and not stupid-er as someone I won’t mention. I can’t speak to whether he is a “hero”, that’s for Americans to decide, but it has to be said that anyone who endured what he did in the Vietnam war (along with all of the thousands of soldiers who served), deserves respect, whether or not that war was “right” or not. I wouldn’t have agreed with him on bags of issues – but looking at him from afar, I think America has just lost one of the last gentlemen of politics – they were of a different age, respecting the person, while vehemently opposing their policies. The cynical would call them “politically correct” – I call them intelligent, measured and thoughtful in their discourse, and above all else, gifted with the wisdom to know that listening carries more gold than speaking. Having said all that, when I read what I wrote, it sounds like “myth creation” in this cynical world. I hope not.

          Love this site, best wishes and good luck to you all!

        • Kick the darkness says:

          I suspect the MSM apparent canonization of McCain reflects as much a sense of the loss of the moment as it does the man.  That “normal order” is not coming back anytime soon.  That America as an idea, even viewed simply through the lens of white privilege, now seems quaint enough to be remembered fondly.

          • Tracy says:

            I am appreciating all the responses, and just want to say: sure, it’s nuanced, no one person is entirely good or entirely bad.

            The contrasts b/t how McCain treated Obama, for instance, and how Trump treated Hilary, his primary opponents, and McCain himself, is really stark and says a lot about the depravity of the Republican party and the “man” (not looking like much of one, having evaded service himself and his ridiculously terrible treatment of and refusal to honor McCain) in the WH.

            Many people who care about healthcare will always recall his dramatic “thumbs down” vote in the Senate, where but for him we’d have already repealed and replaced Obamacare – and while yes, I probably would have disagreed w/ him on 99.9% of issues, he did the right thing there, he did the right thing re: Obama, he did the right thing re: torture, he did the right thing in calling out Trump after Helsinki, and I think, and I’d hope, that he’d have gone farther had the extent of Trump’s crimes been known before he passed.

            • Kick the darkness says:

              Always interesting comments here.  As this thread winds down, let’s let McCain have his own say.  He certainly deserves that.

              “Do not despair of our present difficulties but believe always in the promise and greatness of America, because nothing is inevitable here. Americans never quit. We never surrender. We never hide from history. We make history.”

              • Palli says:

                Except, Americans do hide from history…all the time. Under the general category of American Exceptionalism.  As one of his fellow POWs said after the men were out of isolation & allowed to share their physical prison space, McCain “is a politician”. No, McCain was a faux representation of “statesman”, the only kind we have come to revere.

  29. Willis Warren says:

    Is anyone following Chuck’s latest logic leap? Apparently, Lanny Davis lied, and then told the truth, only this time he’s not lying, and CNN won’t retract the story, so they’re lying, but Lanny is totally telling the truth now.

    Who pays these people?

Comments are closed.