Trump’s Lawyers Raised Concerns with Mueller’s Office about Testimony They Shouldn’t Know Whether Is Phony or Not

In the day since I noted Rudy Giuliani taking credit for the Peter Carr statement Friday night, multiple outlets have confirmed that Trump’s lawyers (the reports have not specified which lawyers) contacted Mueller’s office Friday morning  about Buzzfeed’s report that Trump had directed Michael Cohen to lie to Congress. NBC describes that Trump’s team “‘raised concerns’ in a letter to Mueller’s office.” Meanwhile, CNN has a report that seems to back off WaPo’s report that “In the advanced stages of [Mueller’s discussion about the story Friday], the deputy attorney general’s office called to inquire if the special counsel planned any kind of response, and was informed a statement was being prepared.” Instead, CNN describes Rosenstein’s office getting just a “heads up,” not calling to check in if Mueller was releasing a statement. 

The statement was drafted internally within the special counsel’s office, which made the decision to release it, according to two sources with direct knowledge of the situation. The deputy attorney general’s office, which oversees the special counsel, was only given a heads up it was coming Friday evening.

Whatever happened, Friday was the first time Mueller’s office has issued a statement on a specific story and the first time Trump has offered such positive comments about Mueller’s team.

It was a total phony story, and I appreciate the special counsel coming out with a statement last night. I think it was very appropriate that they did so. I very much appreciate that.”

So even if Trump has bitched before (WSJ says they have not; NYT Maggie says they have) — this has been the only time it worked.

The thing is — Trump shouldn’t know one way or another whether Buzzfeed’s was a phony story. They should have zero idea how Michael Cohen testified (though I note, again, that Mueller has a real incentive to be very modest about how they claim Cohen has testified). Trump’s lawyers may know what Trump Organization employees testified through a joint defense agreement. But Trump’s own lawyer said yesterday that it’s possible Trump spoke to Cohen about his testimony to Congress (he’s now trying to walk that back). If Rudy doesn’t know whether Trump told Cohen to “make it happen” or not, as Buzzfeed alleges, then he can’t know whether the story is phony.

As I disclosed last July, I provided information to the FBI on issues related to the Mueller investigation, so I’m going to include disclosure statements on Mueller investigation posts from here on out. I will include the disclosure whether or not the stuff I shared with the FBI pertains to the subject of the post. 

45 replies
  1. pseudonymous in nc says:

    It’s long past time for whoever ends up hosting Rudy911 for one of his senior moment to ask whether he’s specifically discussed the matters he’s gobshiteing about with King Idiot, and whether he believes his client. (One could also ask whether the account King Idiot has provided has been consistent, but we can be sure that it hasn’t been, and that Rudy911 won’t admit it.)

    There’s this huge unstated question of whether Giuliani is riffing on what he thinks he’s ascertained from talking to his client and extracting as much as possible from those JDAs, or whether he is just bullshitting within the wide spaces drawn out by those written responses. He comes across as someone who has deliberately avoided pinning his client down on key issues because the response will either be lies or something he doesn’t want to hear. That’s a strange position for a lawyer — even a pretend lawyer — to be in.

    (The darker thought here is if the WH lawyers have been sneaking a peek at grand jury materials and non-GJ interviews with the Special Counsel, or are trying to bluff that they have.)

    • BobCon says:

      It’s common practice for interviewees to negotiate conditions before appearing on a show, and I’m curious whether Giuliani has managed to get the issue of what he’s actually discussed with Trump placed off limits. Interviewers shouldn’t accept limits like that, but Giuliani seems to goose ratings, so who knows what price they’re willing to pay.

    • IValueMyPrivacy says:

      But the issue at dispute what Mueller had learned through Cohen’s testimony. Buzzfeed’s assertion was that Mueller had learned from Cohen’s testimony that Trump had directed Cohen to lie about the Moscow Tower project. Certainly Trump knew whether he had directed Cohen to lie, but how could he know what Cohen had told Mueller about his lying to Congress? Suppose Trump didn’t direct Cohen to lie to Congress. In that case, Cohen still could have told Mueller Trump had directed him to lie to Congress. In fact, it might have been a very plausible and attractive lie for Cohen to tell. So again: how did Trump’s team know?

  2. Peterr says:

    The thing is — Trump shouldn’t know one way or another whether Buzzfeed’s was a phony story. They should have zero idea how Michael Cohen testified (though I note, again, that Mueller has a real incentive to be very modest about how they claim Cohen has testified).

    Marcy, Trump absolutely knows whether he directed his minions to pursue the Trump Tower Moscow project during the campaign, and Trump absolutely knows whether he told Cohen to lie to Congress. When it comes to the basic allegations of the Buzzfeed story, Trump absolutely knows what he did or didn’t do, and whether it lines up with Buzzfeed’s claims.

    Now whether Trump is truthful with his lawyers about the directions he gave his minions working on the Trump Tower Moscow project and his conversations with Cohen is another kettle of fish entirely.

    These are two separate matters.

    Rudy’s conversations on the Sunday shows seem to indicate that Trump is . . . how to put this? . . . less than fully cooperative with those he employs to defend him, either legally in court or politically in the press. I’ll leave it to the members of the bar around here to describe the utility of this strategy when it comes to planning a defense for that less-than-cooperative client.

    • BobCon says:

      Trump may not remember how he told Cohen to lie (if he did in fact tell him). When he told Comey to back off, he used indirect language in order to preserve deniability, and he may have done the same with Cohen.

      Knowing the specifics of Cohen’s testimony may be important to arguing that what was said really meant something else. And maybe the spectre of recordings looms? I can’t remember if we know much of what Cohen recorded or how much Trump’s team found out in the review of the SDNY raid.

  3. AitchD says:

    The New Yorker a few issues back had a bottom filler item from a newspaper (it was quoted): A child called 911 to report a sibling for being a tattletale.

  4. greengiant says:

    The question is whether the buzzfeed sources are part of the and this was a manipulated release just to agitate the public and media. The same goes for the WaPo sources. No question about Rudy. What reasonable person would leak this story to buzzfeed if true in fact.
    Yes at some point someone in will do something stupid, perhaps their interaction with the SCO is one of those times. perhaps wants to get on the record of “interacting” with the SCO not for spinning the SCO but for agitprop. The two remaining goal lines have always been there, 2020, and/or 67 senators.
    Words Trump probably lives by, the negotiation is never over.

    • P J Evans says:

      The leaks are from one of three places, as far as can be determined: SDNY, FBI in NYC, or Trump and his people. I don’t see SDNY as having anything to gain from this, and Trump and his people have a lot to gain.

      • Marinela says:

        If Trump team leaked to BuzzFeed, then BF would know their sources.

        Unless FBI in NYC leaked at the ‘direction’ of the Trump’s team.

        Rudy knows few NYC FBI people, or he claims he does.

        • Kate McAleer says:

          I propose that the “leak” is most likely to have come from the NY FBI a number of whom seem to have a soft spot for Giuliani and Trump: (The FBI re-opening of the Clinton investigation just before the election was forecast by Rudy on TV.) This could have been a “coordinated leak” to Buzz Feed. I leave the “why” up to the conspiracy experts. Maybe they wanted to discredit the SCO, a worthy endeavor in their minds.

      • Marinela says:

        If I would be BF, I would be really suspicious of the two sources, especially that Mueller team came out and commented.

  5. J Barker says:

    In December CNN reported that Trump “lashed out” at Whitaker for the first time after the Nov. 29th Cohen guilty plea about his lies regarding the Trump Tower Moscow deal. Trump was angry that Cohen’s plea made him “look bad.”

    This is interesting, in part, because it means Trump/Rudy’s letter to SCO represents at least the second time that public revelations about *these particular Cohen lies* have prompted Trump to intervene in DOJ affairs. He’s clearly pretty worried about it!

    Also, in light of Trump/Rudy’s possible role in the Carr statement, it makes me wonder what, if anything, went on between Trump, Whitaker, and SCO with respect to the language used in the Cohen plea *before* it became public on Nov. 29th.

    CNN report:

  6. pseudonymous in nc says:

    Isaac Chotiner is very good at getting very candid interviews, but this one with Rudy911 is kind of off the charts:

    — I have been through all the tapes, I have been through all the texts, I have been through all the e-mails, and I knew none existed.
    — Wait, what tapes have you gone through?
    — I shouldn’t have said tapes.

    He has no idea what he’s defending.

    • Eureka says:

      I haven’t finished this one yet-  but besides your main point, do you think this also points to Rudy et al. being the ones who spent Friday searching the ‘evidence,’ as opposed to those in SCO having done so, as attributed by WaPo?

      ADD: And while I meant ~’evidence’ that Trump’s team would rightfully have access to, I suppose your ‘darker thought’ in your first comment may apply.

      • Eureka says:

        Holy shit, the gem quotient in that article.

        But I am back to quote the part most relevant to my stated wondering, and it does nothing much to resolve same:

        Because I have been through all the tapes, I have been through all the texts, I have been through all the e-mails, and I knew none existed. And then, basically, when the special counsel said that, just in case there are any others I might not know about, they probably went through others and found the same thing.

        (Double) Emphasis added.

    • BobCon says:

      I have to hear Chotiner’s voice sometime, because I don’t have a good explanation otherwise for how he gets people to say such stupid things in interviews. You can see the set up as plain as day when you read these, but people still walk right in.

  7. John K says:

    Peter Carr’s vague refutation of the BuzzFeed story obviously serves a diversionary purpose. Mueller is too much of a straight shooter to take frequent advantage of Trump’s easily manipulated ego, but when his lawyers asked for a clarification, he gave them this instead. Trump responded like a child with a shiny new toy-absolution! (At least in his own mind) Some of this is almost fun to watch, if it weren’t such a threat to the country.

    Am I wrong to think that this group bungles like a bunch of Keystone Crooks? Rather than simply keeping their mouths shut, they make up whoppers. Then there’s Clown Prince Rudy who admits to stuff and then tries to twist his statements into something plausibly not illegal. Mueller clearly possesses tons of evidence; his problem is all about getting his ducks in a row for a court case. There’s just a never-ending supply of ducks.

    Kudos to you, Marcy, and the regulars at this site for lassoing all of the loose ducks and lining them up for the rest of us to see.

  8. Vinnie Gambone says:

    Defense Lawyer to Defendant: ” Ok, here’s what we’re going to do. You tell me the truth. I’m going to tell you where to lie.” Some would say- Good Lawyer.

    Trump’s Lawyer to Trump: ” You’re F**cking kidding, me right?”

    Other biz, is there reporting  on the nature of the relationship between Manafort and Cohen? Known interactions? Were they in the same JDA?  Could   Trump threatening Cohen’s father in law  intimate a  NYC Russian  Mob association?  Cohen is intimately knowledgeable about how the Mob(s) in NYC work. Manafort is equally knowledgeable of Mob rules abroad.  You would think at some point these two wires had touched. Manafort had a Trump Tower Condo since 2006. When did he decide that was a good investment, and what /who influenced that decision. ? Cohen’s in laws had  (3) (?)Trump Tower condos.   With this much Russia related financial incest going on you would think the intelligence community would have set up shop themselves in the tower, at least in the gift shop or something. Instead they discontinue surveillance?  This should be bothersome to someone.

    This slate  article quotes someone saying Trump calls Manafort “like 20 times a day.”

    How many times did Trump hang up with Manafort and then call Cohen? or vicey versey?  In either case he either wanted to talk about the campaign or the Russians, or both, so intermingled were they, and each man working his part of the russian “thing”.

    You have to wonder if there is regret within the intelligence community that the  wiretaps and other surveillance on Manafort was discontinued because it was “inconclusive”.  Were  communications between Manafort and Cohen  picked  up  before the wire was pulled?

    Trump’s threats about Cohen’s father in law  telegraph possible / likely future Trump strategy , – attack Cohen’s refusal to fully cooperate with authorities. Could it be Trump’s team did see transcripts of those precise moments in his debriefing interviews where Cohen  says, ” I’m not going to answer questions on anything other than these specific subjects. I’ll rat on the President, but not on anybody else.”  One of your posters suggested Cohen will be doing his impersonation of  Frank  Pentangeli courtroom scene in the godfather, although unfortunately he won’t get to light up his stogie.

    Apologies if this was explored previously.

  9. cfost says:

    A bit perplexing. Did the SCO release the statement on Friday in order to preserve the credibility of a witness (Cohen) in future court proceedings? If so, wouldn’t Trump’s legal team be delighted with the BF story? By the way, BF is still standing by their reporting. I can understand that Mueller would ( I think) be obliged to report the statement to Rosenstein as part of his “Urgent Reports “ directive. And Trump would have several ways to learn what Cohen has told the SCO. But why the mucked up PR campaign by Trumpworld, unless it was to show the base that Trump can pick up the phone and tell Mueller what to think and say? Of course that’s not true, but the point is to train the base to believe that the only truth is that which emanates from the mouth of Trump. As Faulkner might put it: thinkingbelievingfeeling.

  10. Rapier says:

    I have an old joke about going to spy school and the first rules are; trust no one, assume nothing.  This isn’t really such a joke however when it comes to information that gets ‘leaked’ to reporters on issues that are political or about intelligence.

    It’s the oldest  trick in the books of intelligence and political operatives to sprinkle lies and  disinformation along with truths in leaks and backgrounds to reporters or outside investigators. For instance those here remember the Steele dossier and EW’s take on it I am sure. One bit of disinformation among 100  points of fact, when revealed in a media frenzy sort of environment, can successfully be used to discredit all the 100 facts.  Especially when the story of the error gets amplified by friends of the side being charged with something. Soon even the honest information broker wonders what is true and what isn’t and the vaguely interested consumer of information can easily gain the status of a savvy observer by concluding nothing is true. Of as Arendt said in a broader context.

    In an ever-changing, incomprehensible world the masses had reached the point where they would, at the same time, believe everything and nothing, think that everything was possible and that nothing was true. […] under such conditions, one could make people believe the most fantastic statements one day, and trust that if the next day they were given irrefutable proof of their falsehood, they would take refuge in cynicism; instead of deserting the leaders who had lied to them, they would protest that they had known all along that the statement was a lie and would admire the leaders for their superior tactical cleverness”

    I didn’t mean to end up there since the topic is journalism, but it didn’t hurt. An good target for disinformation that is planted with the intent to discredit stories are the crusading or aggressive reporters although I’m not concluding the Buzzfeed guys are even wrong with their claim of Trump telling Cohen “make it happen”, somewhere along the line. I had a vague feeling when I heard that come out that it was just too cute. THE smoking gun. Meanwhile the Times and others have been ignoring smoking guns about Trump for 30 years and in this specific case for over a year.

    Rick Perlstein the chronicler of Nixon and modern Conservatism famously quotes a guy, a Republican, saying that he never liked Nixon, until Watergate. If anyone has any illusions that some great turning is going to come of all this Trump Russia thing is sadly mistaken. Hopefully it will work at the margins so elections go other ways.

    *Actually I wanted to go here with the story of Gary Webb. Summed up with almost perfect, trust no one, assume nothing totality, by a ‘neutral’ reviewer at WaPo.

    [Link edited to remove tracking number. /~Rayne]

  11. Eureka says:

    Don Junior was just on Ingraham’s show trying to rehab Rudy’s statements, among other things. I found an embedded clip at the link below with much of the appearance. 5:18 length clip, ~ 3:43 -ish mark they get to the point about why he is there, to remediate re BF story and Rudy. Then Jr. makes a bunch of denial-type statements re Trump Tower Moscow, ~(Right-glance) ‘We don’t know the developer…(Right-glance) We don’t know the site…We don’t know the (phlegmy laugh noise, phlegmy laugh noise) –anything about it’. (The body language is too much to annotate, so I gave up.) Something something diminishing Cohen.
    Very sadly, the clip abruptly cuts off just as he is asked about Adam Schiff (he riffs about his prior testimony, etc. (Heavy on the etc.)) and Kamala Harris. Oh and he is asked about his future political aspirations. That part is worth seeing, if anyone can locate it.

    Don Jr. Goes Off Over BuzzFeed Report: The Media’s ‘Trying to Subvert This Democracy’

    • Rusharuse says:

      Sickening stuff from the sprog.

      One thing about Ingraham – she doesn’t like being made a fool of, she will give Repo buddies all the love untill they are publicly sprung then she’ll turn. That’s when we will know it’s over for the Trumpenstiens.

    • Rayne says:

      LMAO that’s too funny — note photo in Instagram post embedded in this article (scroll down) in which Emin Agalarov’s U.S. tour cancellation is discussed. That’s Emin standing in front of a graphic mock-up of the Trump-Agalarov Tower project in Moscow.

      “We don’t know the site…” sure, on the waterfront, probably the Moskva River;
      “We don’t know the developer…” sure, as if Aras Agalarov isn’t a developer;
      “We don’t know the [lame backpedal] anything about it…” sure, as if Junior hasn’t sent all kinds of fluffy messages to Emin.

      I can’t believe this is the best bunch of criminals we could have allowed to subvert our democracy. What hacks.

      • Eureka says:

        During Friday night’s BuzzFeed-Carr statement ping pong, a commenter on twitter asked someone for a summary thusly, which also works here:

        “What is Fox News going to tell my mother?”

        AHHND scene.

  12. Blue Train says:

    I’ve been following emptywheel for the past couple of years. I respect her analysis but something about the SCO rebuttal to the Buzzfeed piece and Rudy G’s involvement bothers me, despite her faith in Mueller. What if the real reason the SCO has been allowed to continue this long is not because of all the political risks involved or because they’s done a great job of tamping down Trump’s ire but simply because early on Rosenstein (and Mueller, indirectly) already agreed (and assured the Trump team) that a sitting president can never be prosecuted.

    Mueller in this scenario is just trying to get to the bottom of Russian (and Turkish) interference to safeguard our election process from future foreign influence. He will work the case and issue his report, satisfied that he did the best he could under the circumstances. Which is why impeachment talk would be a thorn on his side. (Similar to his work on FIFA),

    Which leaves Trump to rail not at the investigation itself but rather at the way it plays out in the public eye (making him look weak, compromised).

    In this way Rudy G’s bumbling defense is less about legal expose and more about feeding the base assurances that the SCO has nothing. Only because its Trump and Rudy G they can’t help but screw it up and let too many cats out of the bag.

  13. Yette says:

    In hindsight, I believe the Peter Carr rebuttal will be a major telltale that the Mueller investigation is not going to bring down this Administration.  The OSC has been exulted for its silence on this nearly 2 year probe, yet weighs in immediately when a Senator demands Mueller must release testimony related to lying under oath (BuzzFeed report) to Congress.  This at the same time that Barr is plainly stating to our politicians he is not required to release the Mueller report.  This is the beginning of the cover up, where we learn that only the OSC indictments are for public consumption.  Other elements will be secreted away as “grand jury testimony” and we’ll get a bunch of legal folks in the media to say that key provision of the judicial process cannot be disrupted.  The GOP will quickly endorse the Mueller report and deflect any calls for further Congressional inquiry.  I feel completely ashamed that our judicial system could if effect aid and abet Trump and his criminal conspiracy. 

    • bmaz says:

      Barr’s statements regarding the “report” constraints of the SCO  regulations were accurate. And, no, there is no “coverup” that the SCO is part of.

  14. Trip says:

    We mentioned tape recordings here, after the BF news dropped, as an alternative to corroboration through documents, since Cohen liked audio. Since the minions of some sort come here and troll, no doubt someone also picks up information rather than just dropping off poop. Marcy is frequently quoted directly or indirectly on cable, and Trump loves cable. That leaves a callback for ratfuckers to dispute what is said here.

    When Rudy talks about tapes, I think he might be referring to the BS attorney client/ privilege exercise with the taint team, back after Cohen’s multiple raids. He is probably addressing the documents seized, as well. But not everything made it past the taint team to Trump’s attorneys, right? Even if it was lawyer to lawyer talk, if it was in the commission of a crime, it wouldn’t have been tagged as privilege (?). If any of that set aside material was leaked, no doubt it was big dick toilet salesman.

    Further, if any of the BF article is true, it mentioned the Trump Org. That still leaves Weisselberg, who received immunity for his testimony in a grand jury for SDNY. I suppose he could have been compelled to bring documents, etc., as well. He facilitated the payments to the ladies (not the Trump campaign itself), so it’s not impossible that lawyers communicated through him to Cohen, with Trump thinking that his business was a red line no one would cross.

    Trump was also still grooming Cohen after his raid, saying what a great guy, yadda yadda. Supposedly, according to some report, which I haven’t searched for yet this AM, he called Cohen, within this period after the raid. It’s possible that Cohen was still creating ‘insurance’ at this point and documenting any and all of Trump et al communications.

    I think Rudy knows he is hedging his bets on any outlying evidence he didn’t get his hands on. He said the lawyers might have talked about Cohen’s testimony on the tower, so he left room for this to be uncovered, even though he searched.

  15. Jim_46 says:

    Blue Train @ January 22, 2019 at 5:54 am
    Yette @ January 22, 2019 at 6:07 am

    I’m with you. We need more of this kind of thinking, if only to act as a counterbalance to a tendency among some to heroize Mueller, who in his persona as a lifelong Republican has become a symbol for many people, understandably, of their hope that there are those in our country who are still able to rise above self-interest and partisanship to do the right thing. I have been as impressed as the next person by Robert Swan Mueller III’s biography and his accomplishments in law enforcement and criminal investigation. I had no reason to believe, until the events of January 18, that trust placed in him and his team was misplaced. But that public statement, after months upon months upon months of “No comment,” should cause any duly skeptical person legitimate concern.

    Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo recently had this to say about Mueller’s investigation: “Our most critical national and civic need is to find out the truth of what happened in the 2016 election and who President Trump really works for today. That imperative is far more important than whether any individual person or group of individuals is incarcerated or otherwise punished for crimes. But that is not the purpose of the Mueller probe. It never has been. The Special Counsel investigation is a criminal and counter-intelligence investigation. Its goal is to find out whether crimes were committed and to prosecute them.”

    Marshall is expressing more clearly and effectively the very point that I originally came here to Emptywheel to make, though unfortunately my initial post erupted into regrettable unpleasantness after strong objection was made to my line of argument concerning Mueller’s investigation. Here’s Marshall again: “That imperative is far more important than whether any individual person or group of individuals is incarcerated or otherwise punished for crimes.” Who disagrees with that? I certainly don’t.

    So, whether Mueller issued that already notorious statement on Friday to tamp down impeachment talk, or to protect Cohen’s credibility as a witness in future trials of Trump’s co-conspirators, or for both of those reasons, in a certain sense makes no difference. In the words of someone who has dug very deep into Trump’s connections with Russia and followed this story almost as closely as Marcy herself, viz., Josh Marshall, we don’t know “who President Trump really works for today.” Which means that, unless you’re simply unable or unwilling to admit the enormity of this possibility, everything that has transpired and is transpiring with the Trump Administration — the hostility toward our allies and alliances, the ginning up of race- and ethnicity-based hatred in our country, the steps to cripple our federal government (from leaving positions unfilled to instigating the current shutdown), and all the rest — is being done at the behest (however indirectly behest-ed) and for the enjoyment of Vladimir Putin, mortal enemy of the West.

    I suspect that there are many people who would agree with the observation that if our Congress actually functioned, if we had confidence that the current Sam Ervins in today’s Congress could actually exert their will — if only someone like Sheldon Whitehouse were already managing an impeachment trial — we would be happy to mostly ignore Mueller and his investigation. Because Congress doesn’t function, because we don’t have that confidence, we’ve turned our eyes to the square-jawed G-Man and his posse of Ivy League-educated prosecutors.

    So maybe it’s time to say to each other, we have the Congress we have; let’s get off the freaking internet and onto the streets, into the voting booths; and let’s send a message to the powers-that-be that it isn’t one former FBI director in a starched white shirt and gray suit whom you should be afraid of. It’s the People.

    • Rayne says:

      It should be the People. But the People have for too long allowed themselves to be complacent, falling out of practice when it comes to accountability. They’ve also forgotten that this country wasn’t built on pure Randian selfishness alone, allowing themselves to be persuaded their consumption was their vote.

      For these reasons we do need to count on Mueller’s work to provide us with both the breadcrumb trail and an example of the ethics and morals required for the task ahead. He is a servant of the People and their Constitution showing by example how we are to do our own work — focused, following the letter of the law, analyzing carefully and documenting as we go. Will the example be perfect at all times? No, because fallible humans treading new ground are capable of missteps.

      I don’t think we can wait for the 2020 vote alone; we have actions we can take in our own backyards, including the monitoring of state government and legislatures which have helped create this disaster (ex: voter ID laws, gerrymandering, so on). But we also need to demand the criminal and counterintelligence investigations continue unimpeded — and we’re ignoring the fact the president or his team has again this past week interfered. Obstructed justice, if you will.

      • Jockobadger says:

        Absolutely wonderful post/reply Rayne.  Thanks.  This is the stuff I come here for (several times a day.)

        Jim_46’s comment is cogent and I believe I understand his thinking, but it pains me to even suspect that he might be right about the damned President being a russkie mole.  How did we get here?  We need answers and need them soon.  I email my Reps and Sens, but I’m in Redmond, WA.  Deep blue.  JHC.

  16. NorskieFlamethrower says:

    pseudonymous in nc January 21 11:19 pm

    Does anyone know if Isaac Chotiner is related to Richard Nixon’s hatchet man and mentor Murray Chotiner? If he is then my reservations about BF are justified.

  17. InfiniteLoop says:

    *slowly eases tip of toe into EW commenting pool*
    Trump’s comment is easy to parse. He’s on the record as equating “Fake News” with negative coverage, regardless of its veracity. At the level of comprehension on which he operates, BuzzFeed made him look bad; Carr made him look good. End of story.
    Rudy, likewise, is on the record that he’s fighting a PR war less so than a legal one (and thank goodness, because he keeps epically screwing up on the latter). His slips and attempted walk-backs are more likely to contain truth – meaning, I suspect there are almost certainly tapes! But I don’t even try to apply logic that assumes a rational basis for any public objection he raises.
    Carr’s the one I can’t quite make out. He backpedaled on commenting and took a day to do so. I find Marcy’s hypothesis that OSC is protecting Cohen’s credibility to be reasonable. That rationale would have been true when BuzzFeed initially asked for comment and got a decline plus a copy of Cohen’s allocution. Then, BuzzFeed got overexcited and didn’t connect the dots with the allocution, so Carr had to double down. All well and good.
    So why all the backstage drama? Why would impeachment even come into the conversation at all on the OSC side, as WaPo and Marcy’s sources say it did?
    As I said above, I think Marcy’s argument makes sense, but it never seemed quite strong enough to me if future trials were the only concern. Other stories have been just as wrong and just as damaging, and OSC stayed quiet. They have other means to mitigate the potential taint to a juror’s thought processes, including jury selection and specific instructions on what must be proved.
    These mitigations are not all present for impeachment, where the jury is the Senate and determination of guilt is, by definition, political. Carr’s statement seems to me like overkill for a judicial trial, but right on the money to preserve Cohen for an impeachment trial.
    Which in turn implies that either Mueller is pulling a Comey, or what he’s seeing is so terrifying to the rule of law that the straightest shooter in Washington is working towards securing the first ever presidential impeachment conviction in our nation’s history.

  18. P J Evans says:

    I don’t know, but if he is, he’d have to be either his grandson or his brother’s grandson, going by what I can find.

  19. NorskieFlamethrower says:

    I understand, he would be a couple a generations removed but I would still like to know. The political culture in this country is defined, in part, by family connections that go way back. Some like the Bush family go back to the antebellum slaveocracy (Barbara Bush) and of course we have the Kochs.

  20. punaise says:

    Speaking of tapes, Trump(ism) is the tapeworm in the body politic.

    And for Rudy’s tombstone, RIP = “Rudy is Pathetic”

  21. BroD says:

    FWIW, I’m proceeding on the understanding that Trump is more Putin’s tool, rather than mole. Putin may indeed have kompromat but, even so, I suspect he knows that he can’t count on Trump being able to deliver any specific outcome. What he can be sure of, however, is that, as President, Trump–being Trump–will deliver chaos within Russia’s most significant global adversary and the international order Trump’s predecessor Presidents cultivated.

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