Michael Cohen’s Testimony: Metacommentary

Michael Cohen’s statement to the House Oversight Committee is here. I’d like to make three meta-comments about what he says about the Russian investigation (which is technically outside the scope of today’s hearing but what the fuck, he’s going to prison anyway…).

Why Cohen claimed he knew that Trump knew of the June 9 meeting ahead of time

After he pled guilty, Cohen claimed he was a meeting where Trump spoke of the June 9 meeting ahead of time. Later, he backed off any claim of knowing about the meeting in advance.

Here’s what he based that initial claim on:

Sometime in the summer of 2017, I read all over the media that there had been a meeting in Trump Tower in June 2016 involving Don Jr. and others from the campaign with Russians, including a representative of the Russian government, and an email setting up the meeting with the subject line, “Dirt on Hillary Clinton.” Something clicked in my mind. I remember being in the room with Mr. Trump, probably in early June 2016, when something peculiar happened. Don Jr. came into the room and walked behind his father’s desk – which in itself was unusual. People didn’t just walk behind Mr. Trump’s desk to talk to him. I recalled Don Jr. leaning over to his father and speaking in a low voice, which I could clearly hear, and saying: “The meeting is all set.” I remember Mr. Trump saying, “Ok good…let me know.”

What struck me as I looked back and thought about that exchange between Don Jr. and his father was, first, that Mr. Trump had frequently told me and others that his son Don Jr. had the worst judgment of anyone in the world. And also, that Don Jr. would never set up any meeting of any significance alone – and certainly not without checking with his father. I also knew that nothing went on in Trump world, especially the campaign, without Mr. Trump’s knowledge and approval. So, I concluded that Don Jr. was referring to that June 2016 Trump Tower meeting about dirt on Hillary with the Russian representative when he walked behind his dad’s desk that day — and that Mr. Trump knew that was the meeting Don Jr. was talking about when he said, “That’s good…let me know.”

Particularly absent a real date, all this exchange tells us is that Don Jr was setting up really sensitive meetings that Trump knew about. It’s possible it was an entirely different criminal meeting. Or it’s possible that this was about the June 9 meeting.

Ultimately, if Mueller wants to charge a conspiracy, he doesn’t need to prove that Trump knew in advance, because Trump took so many other overt acts that made it clear he was part of this conspiracy, including coordinating a public statement about it with Vladimir Putin.

But Trump probably knew in advance.

How to suborn perjury

In the wake of the BuzzFeed article and Peter Carr “correction” — which I suggested reflected different priorities about the role of Trump in lying about the Trump Tower Moscow deal –I suggested that Trump’s flunkies don’t need to be told to lie by him. They just do it.

Cohen’s statement confirms that’s what happened.

I lied to Congress about when Mr. Trump stopped negotiating the Moscow Tower project in Russia. I stated that we stopped negotiating in January 2016. That was false – our negotiations continued for months later during the campaign. Mr. Trump did not directly tell me to lie to Congress. That’s not how he operates. In conversations we had during the campaign, at the same time I was actively negotiating in Russia for him, he would look me in the eye and tell me there’s no business in Russia and then go out and lie to the American people by saying the same thing. In his way, he was telling me to lie. There were at least a half-dozen times between the Iowa Caucus in January 2016 and the end of June when he would ask me “How’s it going in Russia?” – referring to the Moscow Tower project. You need to know that Mr. Trump’s personal lawyers reviewed and edited my statement to Congress about the timing of the Moscow Tower negotiations before I gave it. To be clear: Mr. Trump knew of and directed the Trump Moscow negotiations throughout the campaign and lied about it. He lied about it because he never expected to win the election. He also lied about it because he stood to make hundreds of millions of dollars on the Moscow real estate project.

There’s still more that needs to be told about the response to the BuzzFeed story, most notably why Mueller’s office chose to issue a “correction” when they hadn’t for more egregiously erroneous reporting. Hopefully, the outlets that credulously repeated the DOJ line will chase that down. Hopefully, too, the Big Dick Toilet Salesman will be asked to explain his own role in that “correction” when he takes a Mulligan on telling the truth to Congress.

Mueller isn’t telling us everything

Cohen will testify that he was in Trump’s office one day, before the DNC Convention, when Roger Stone was put through and Trump put the rat-fucker on the speaker phone.

In July 2016, days before the Democratic convention, I was in Mr. Trump’s office when his secretary announced that Roger Stone was on the phone. Mr. Trump put Mr. Stone on the speakerphone. Mr. Stone told Mr. Trump that he had just gotten off the phone with Julian Assange and that Mr. Assange told Mr. Stone that, within a couple of days, there would be a massive dump of emails that would damage Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Mr. Trump responded by stating to the effect of “wouldn’t that be great.”

Likely, Stone was once again overselling his access to Assange. Likely, this came via a cut-out. It’s likely Stone learned about this from his meeting with Nigel Farage at the RNC.

But it is an example of the kinds of details that Mueller — in spite of his speaking indictment of Stone — was trying to keep secret. It shifts Stone’s knowledge of WikiLeaks earlier than the indictment. It also makes it far more likely that Trump is the one who ordered someone to find out from Stone what more was coming.

The biggest takeaway from seeing clarifications about what a Mueller witness said is this: Mueller is working to preserve the credibility of a bunch of sleazy sources. And the sources likely don’t understand that they don’t have to place Trump with a smoking gun. Because of the way conspiracy law works. it’s enough to show that Trump willingly entered into the conspiracy and took many overt acts to pursue the objects of the conspiracy.

Cohen’s more accurate testimony does that.

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. 

369 replies
  1. Troy P says:

    I do not comment here because I have nothing to add to the discourse that hasn’t been said better or wittier by some one else. I have learned a great deal since finding this blog last spring. It is always very good, but the last week has been extraordinary. IMHO it should be required reading by anyone who still gives a damn about this country. It is clear enough that even a silly historian like myself can understand. Kudos to all and my most sincere thanks.

    • Dan D says:

      Yes. Marcy should get a Pulitzer when this is all said and done. Should have gotten one for her work on Snowden. But her analysis is consistently several steps ahead of journalists with much greater resources. She’s has done the country a tremendous service.

    • OldMaineGuy says:

      I was a lurker for many years (until recently). FDL, TNH, now EW. What can I add to the rest of these accolades except that your hair looked great on Chris Hays the other night.

        • Atlanticist says:

          Another lurker here to add my sincere thanks to Marcy for the incredible insight she brings to the murk of Trumplandia.

      • FishGuyDave says:

        Doesn’t FDL seem decades ago?! Commented there often, but here not so much. Regardless, many kudos to MW for all of her work — invaluable service to country, indeed.

    • the sam says:

      So if Cohen’s meeting was in Hungary, and not Prague, does the denial work? I think Hungary was more likely given the government there.

    • John Crandell says:

      Not only do we get the valuable insight, but the CONVENIENCE as well.

      In contrast, try to visit TPM without a 5G connection. It takes a hell of a long wait to load, longer to be able to comment and my gawd, trying to go from there to any other website and you ARE STUCK in cement. One now needs to shut down their browser completely and restart with Google and then go from there – to save a hell of a lot of time. The amount of sheer commercial crap that comes thru the pipeline (sans preferential treatment) from TPM is an astonishment. This site is a wonder!

  2. Badger Robert says:

    I hope someone uses their time to just ask questions about the Buzzfeed stories and Buzzfeed documents.

  3. harpie says:

    Marcy: “Because of the way conspiracy law works. it’s enough to show that Trump willingly entered into the conspiracy and took many overt acts to pursue the objects of the conspiracy.”
    …when, if I’m not mistaken [?], even one overt act to pursue those objects would be enough…[?]

  4. orionATL says:

    on that matter of “collusion” (with you know who):



    this is all about setting up a propaganda screen to protect trump’s image among his true believing followers and to protect republican politicians who continue to support trump.

    • Greenhouse says:

      OMG, LMAO, you just reminded me of Tropic Thunder with Downey’s character replying to Stiller’s:
      “Check it out. Dustin Hoffman, ‘Rain Man’, look retarded, act retarded, not retarded. Count toothpicks to your cards. Autistic, fo’ sho’. Not retarded. You know Tom Hanks, ‘Forrest Gump’. Slow, yes. Retarded, maybe. Braces on his legs. But he charmed the pants off Nixon and won a ping-pong competition. That ain’t retarded. You went full retard, man. Never go full retard”.

      • horses says:

        Autist here.

        Were it not for my more technically adept fellows, you’d have no Internet to comment on.

        Don’t make fun. We have teeth too.

        • Democritus says:

          Feelings as well, we may show them differently but they are there. Plus the calmness of this website is also attractive to anyone who doesn’t like overstimulation. Ahhhhhh…

          Exhales. Love the entire design and everything, and will try to remember to throw some money in the pot very so often to help defray expenses and all that good stuff.

  5. sand says:

    The tone and demeanor of Elijah Cummings so far this morning sustain my continued hope in our institutions. Serious, professional, no-nonsense.

    And then Jim Jordan spoke to show us that there’s always some incompetence and corruption in every big system or organization. The Jordans of the world have had their day, and it’s time for competence to reign again.

    • BobCon says:

      Cummings gets very little acclaim in his district for this. He could have switched to chairing a subcommittee on the Infrastructure Committee where he could have focused on bacon and getting his name plastered on buildings.

      He’s stayed wih this assignment, through the ugly days of GOP control, because he cares about the institutions of this country. He is a public servant.

    • di says:

      no kidding. yesterday’s news that cohen said, ‘Trump is a “racist,” “con man” and “cheat” who engaged in criminal conduct during both the 2016 presidential campaign and his presidency’ was impactful and memorable. the one at the top should be the one on public display, not the ones below him that he used. waiting for that.

  6. Jenny says:

    Thanks Marcy. Cohen is getting public attention today – Trump will go bonkers.

    Cohen testimony: “He is capable of behaving kindly, but he is not kind. He is capable of committing acts of generosity, but he is not generous. He is capable of being loyal, but he is fundamentally disloyal.”

    • Rick Ryan says:

      Aaaand right on cue, apparently the summit with North Korea has been suddenly cut short (“there has been a program change”). Expecting the (conveniently distracting) nuclear saber-rattling to commence in 3… 2…

        • timbo says:

          I’m actually hoping that the Chinese may have shifted more to the US position. Hard to say given the other news about the Israeli PM and Trump’s own family’s legal jeopardies… in any case, it’s probably a good time for S. Korea to get back into negotiations with the North if they can.

      • Cathy says:

        Per a staff writer at The Atlantic (https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2019/02/michael-cohen-oversight-hearings-trump-loses-control/583801/):

        “When Trump loses control of messaging, it sometimes has dangerous results. If he feels marginalized, the president will often act more outrageously. That has great risks, especially with Trump in the high-stakes setting of his summit with Kim, where *he might be tempted to reach for a dramatic gesture*. Cohen’s testimony not only spotlighted some of Trump’s biggest exposures to scandal, but also showed how tenuous his grasp on the national conversation can be. [*my highlight*]”

        Such as walking out of the summit? ;-)

    • P J Evans says:

      That was when you got 400 just for showing up, so maybe he scored that high. (Though if you can rule out two of the four possible answers, you can get a better score than you might otherwise expect.)
      I’m more than a little curious to find out whether he paid people to take tests and write papers for him, given that he doesn’t appear to be either of above-average intelligence or well-educated.

      • Rollo T says:

        A well known quote: Professor Kelley told me 100 times over three decades that “Donald Trump was the dumbest goddam student I ever had.” I remember his emphasis and inflection — it went like this — “Donald Trump was the dumbest goddam student I ever had.” Dr. Kelley told me this after Trump had become a celebrity but long before he was considered a political figure.

        • Lydian says:

          Trump is a role model for the Dunning-Kruger Effect: The Dunning-Kruger effect, named after David Dunning and Justin Kruger of Cornell University, occurs where people fail to adequately assess their level of competence — or specifically, their incompetence — at a task and thus consider themselves much more competent than everyone else. This lack of awareness is attributed to their lower level of competence robbing them of the ability to critically analyze their performance, leading to a significant overestimation of themselves. In simple words it’s “people who are too ignorant to know how ignorant they are”.
          Definition above taken from rational wiki dot org

        • RWood says:

          How’s the joke go…”The first rule of Dunning-Kruger Club is that you don’t know you’re a member”

        • errant aesthete says:


          On this day that I lost hope in ever seeing, this so merits repeating:

          In simple words it’s “people who are too ignorant
          to know how ignorant they are”.

        • P J Evans says:

          I’d read about that one. I wonder if any of the other people who were in his college classes (the ones he officially took, not the ones he wants people to think he took) can remember him at all.

  7. fpo says:

    Hoping Cummings has set the tone for the rest of the Dems – brief comments and straight to questions/testimony…restraint, please. We know where Jordan et al. are going…

  8. Peterr says:

    Jim “I didn’t see anything but horseplay” Jordan and his GOP colleague are hammering on Cohen as a liar, citing the Mueller team’s filings and judicial rulings to that effect.

    When will one of the Dems will lead Cohen through an exchange like this:

    “Do you agree with Robert Mueller that you lied in your earlier testimony?”

    “Do you agree with Judge XXX who ruled that you lied and deceived the American people?”

    “So then you agree with Mr. Jordan that you committed these lies?”

    “OK. We all agree you lied. Now let’s talk about those lies in a little more detail. . . Your false testimony to Mr. Mueller, the federal courts, and this committee was that Mr. Trump was innocent of any and all criminal behavior?”

    “So in fact, your true testimony should have been that Mr. Trump had lied and deceived in order to hide embarrassing and criminal activity?”

    “Do you find it odd, then, that Mr. Jordan is upset that you didn’t truthfully tell that to Mr. Mueller, the federal courts, and this committee that Mr. Trump in fact committed illegal acts?”
    “That is indeed odd.”

      • errant aesthete says:

        Maybe not, but it is certainly something that is worthy of consideration. Peterr’s hypothetical exchange is valuable and instructive in tearing down the optics, the props, the theater, the combative rhetoric and returning to what we have lost — reason and critical thinking.

        This method of salesmanship and seduction started as advertising, worked its way into television programming and ultimately television news (infotainment), and has evolved into our political discourse and our quality of life preventing us from having a simple, but well-informed opinion of our own.

        We as a country and as a listening audience are so hopelessly removed from normal these days, we find ourselves more comfortable as mouthpieces parroting the mainstream media, the current talking point/hashtag, or the extremists down the street who are noisier and louder than we could ever hope to be. And we wonder why we are incapable of articulating or competently defending our own simple point of view. The sad truth is, we don’t have one. We forfeited it in these crazymaking times because of a master manipulator and a world-class charlatan who had a gift for sowing doubt, fear, and uncertainty.

        If we can return to the basics of asking simple fundamental questions sans bias, party, belief or “gotcha” tv moments, we may discover we do have more in common than we thought.

        • horses says:

          No, it’s because your team isn’t as good at sales as the team who elected a con man sales artist to the highest office in the land.

          It’s authoritarian psychology. That’s all.

  9. PieIsDamnGood says:

    I’m just waiting for a Democrat to ask why he was the deputy RNC finance chair if he is such a liar and unreliable person.

    • timbo says:

      Someone brought it up. Cohen mentioned that he was forced to change his party affiliation to Republican to get that position at the RNC. So much for “ideological purity” besides being a fixer for Trump.

      • P J Evans says:

        So, asking the obvious next questions: why was it that important to Tr*mp to have *Cohen* in that particular position? What was Cohen supposed to do for him at the RNC?

    • Naomi says:

      seems he was historically “before the campaign”… somewhere with Pecker… so my question too… How many NDAs in the decade Cohen was fixing stuff. He definitely stated Pecker and Trump were associates prior to 2007 when Cohen was first hired…

  10. viget says:

    Well, I guess the strategy is just let Gym Jordan be the attack dog. Amazing how every R is yielding back to him.

  11. klynn says:

    Dear J Jordan…
    You and the GOP can continue to scream liar-liar and that the procedings are a farce but historically, our juducual system gas taken down big crime by insiders connitting crime on behalf of big crime. Flipping a witness is real.

  12. TooLoose LeTruck says:

    Watching the hearing on the teebee machine…

    Jim Jordan and Mark Meadows make me wanna barf…

    Not very… articulate… on my part… but an honest emotional reaction…

  13. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Mr. Hice is stunned that a majority party meets with and interviews prospective witnesses. Stunned. That “connects the dots.” I can’t imagine what picture Mr. Hice thinks that creates, but I would not rely on him to identify anything harder to see than Orion and the Big Dipper.

    Hice then repeats several of the canned GOP focus-grouped statements.

    • TooLoose LeTruck says:

      ‘Hice then repeats several of the canned GOP focus-grouped statements.’

      I noticed that too….

      Sound bite… sound bite… sound bite…

      Deflect… deflect… deflect…

      Wash… rinse… repeat…

      But hey, when you’re stuck defending a mess like Donal Trump, you’re choices are extremely limited, aren’t they?

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        The GOP and Michael Cohen have a lot in common: both are or were fully committed to protecting Donald Trump, knowing that lying every day would be part of doing that.

        • TooLoose LeTruck says:

          Uh… yup!

          That wonderful scene years ago from the movie ‘Little BigMan’ keeps coming to mind w/ these ridiculous clowns… the one where Richard Dawson as Custer confronts Dustin Hoffman about going down into the Little Bighorn…

          And all Hoffman says is ‘You go down there, Mr Custer… you go down there…’

          Trump has led the entire Republican Party into a box canyon and now they’re trapped…

          ‘You go down there, Mr Trump… you go down there!’

          Couldn’t be happening to a more deserving bunch of assclowns…

  14. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Ohio should apologize for Mr. Jordan. He is an embarrassing hypocrite among embarrassing hypocrites. That he stands out in that group is itself an embarrassment.

    Jordan: “I’ve never heard a lawyer wait three years to be paid.”

    Cohen: “I guess he thinks it’s important.”

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      As EW points out, Rudy 9/11 works for Donald Trump “for free.” His bill would have been a helluva lot bigger than Lanny Davis’s. Paul Manafort worked for the Trump campaign supposedly for free for nearly half a year.

      DC is made of high-priced deals and no fee quid pro quo deals. It’s also home to a great deal of pro bono work by some of the best and brightest.

  15. alaura says:

    The GOP – right now Gosar – are really good at projection. Everything they’re saying today could be said about their golden god.

  16. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Arizona dentist Mr. Gosar needs to see an elocutionist. That’s funny for a guy who used to work on mouths every day.

    Mr. Gosar should review witness statements from virtually every complex corporate tort case, organized crime case, public corruption case, to name a few. Big Fish are always taken down based on statements from former enablers and co-conspirators.

    • timbo says:

      I make it as a good thing. The Congress needs to take this up, not wait for the country to become more and more corrupt waiting for some report from DOJ come out. It’s not accident that Cummings is the only committee of the Congress having public hearings so far with testimony by Cohen. Kudos to Cummings for going ahead with this. Note that testimony by Cohen has been delayed now twice before these past four weeks.

  17. OldTulsaDude says:

    Do any of the new documents provided by Cohen offer evidence that contradicts the answers to Individual-1’s open-book test? Inquiring minds want to know.

    • Peacerme says:

      Senator Katie Hill laid out a whopper by Trump from Trumps sworn testimony and asked Cohen out right if Trump had lied and Cohen stated “yes”. She did a great j0b nailing it down but I can’t remember the lie.

      • timbo says:

        Also noted that. Thankfully someone is standing up to these bullies. I hope that she does make an ethics complaint. Certainly the Congressional leadership should be ready to deal with this should the problem get worse.

      • P J Evans says:

        The average Twitter user – or blog reader – may have a better grasp of the law and the Constitution than most of the GOP congresscritters.

        • oldoilfiledhand says:

          One of my all time favorite quotes, germane to the GOP Congress on a daily basis since July 21, 2016, is from Upton Sinclair; to wit:
          “It is difficult to get man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.”

      • harpie says:

        Matt Gaetz, 6:18 PM – 27 Feb 2019: https://twitter.com/mattgaetz/status/1100943221390225408
        [quote] I’ve personally apologized to @MichaelCohen212 4 referencing his private family in the public square. Regardless of disagreements, family members should be off-limits from attacks from representatives, senators & presidents, including myself. Let’s leave the Cohen family alone. [end quote]

        That’s a pretty tiny “apology”, Matt.

        • oldoilfieldhand says:

          Matt Gaetz represents a Florida District (FL-1) with a high concentration of military and retired military constituents. Young Matthew might have benefitted from military service himself, inasmuch as he would have learned the cardinal rule of field operations: Never shit in your mess kit!

        • timbo says:

          Gaetz came away from his phone call with the President ready to go after Cohen hard. Suddenly though, Gaetz seemed to be facing a bar investigation in Florida for his “handling of the matter”. And possible censure by the House too. And that’s when he began to get religion… much like Cohen. “Irony, meet ironing board.”

  18. fpo says:

    Unreal. It’s almost as if they’re under the impression that no one’s been paying attention for the last two years.

    …’The dossier! The dossier!’
    Okay, sure. What about Deutsche Bank, Mr. Jordan? What did your search for the truth turn up there?

    Confirms my belief that nothing serves the public better than open testimony.
    Well, maybe term limits.

  19. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Mr. Jordan seems to have organized a love-fest for himself by having his fellow GOP committee members consistently yield time for him to grandstand. That says nothing about Jordan’s speaking ability, which is about on par with Gosar’s.

    Gotta hand it to the Goopers: their discipline and ability to stay on message is extraordinary. That they still support Trump so uniformly is another example.

    • timbo says:

      Ah but some of those “leopards” of the right are not as stuck in their beliefs as one might imagine. Just look at the hypocritical mental gymnastics they’re readily able to perform, almost on command. So, expect some of them to leave Trump in the dust if their own skins become threatened by association.

  20. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Were Ms. Foxx to ask the same questions about refusing to commercialize one’s experience and contacts to every member of Congress, I suspect she would receive the same, “No,” answer. It’s what makes DC go round.

    Not commercializing that experience would make for a healthier government, but the transition would be like the merry-go-round scene in Strangers on a Train.

  21. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Republican and Texan Mr. Cloud has hit on the novel idea of asking Mr. Cohen to repeat the crimes for which he is going to jail. It’s as if the GOP invented the notion of wash, rinse, repeat.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Cloud also asked, repeating an earlier line of questioning, whether Cohen would donate earnings from any movie or book deal to charity.

      I’ll repeat that were members of Congress asked the same question – and were lobbying added to the mix – and answered, “Yes,” the sudden stop in business as usual in DC would look like the merry-go-round disaster in Hitchcock’s Strangers on a Train.

      Another GOP member finds stupefying the idea that Don Trump did not expect to win, because Trump told him he expected and was trying hard to win. Credulity knows no bounds it would seem. Mencken and Twain may have understated the ability of most congresscritters.

    • Cathy says:


      Best Regards,

      [Such, at least, in the world I wish for my kids to grow up in]

  22. Eslinger says:

    Reading transcripts (available by jumping around various sites) it appears the Cohen is not cowed by the GOP attacks and is pushing back vigorously.
    Will any Republican choose to pursue truth – wherever it may lead? If they don’t fear political repercussions then it’s likely that they’ll continue to protect Trump.

      • Silat says:

        The right wing is not going to desert Trump no matter where the evidence leads.
        If the right-wing Senate wanted they could vote with the Democrats and this world class nightmare would be over.
        The Republicans have no intention of stopping what is happening to our country. It has been part of their well-known long-term game plan.
        And of course there are the 63 million plus right-wing voters who have not turned against Trump.

  23. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Ex-LA cop Mr. Higgins again goes back to the book and movie deal bullshit. The GOP are not very imaginative, but they do pick a handful of talking points and stick to them without fail. Were I to use the manner of analysis Higgins uses with Cohen, I would be forced to say that he looks like a police captain from LA Confidential.

  24. Pinky&theBrain says:

    I am neither a US citizen nor do I live in the US, so I am not overly familiar with the American legal system or it’s political structure, I would like to thank emptywheel and the people here for providing a great platform where the articles are based on fact rather than supposition, I have learnt more in a couple of months here, than I did over of year reading other outlets.
    Can someone clarify why Cohens opening statement is allowed to publicly name Donald Trump as individual #1, when the legal paperwork submitted Mueller’s investigation (and possibly also SDNY documents) cannot name individual #1 for legal reasons?

      • timbo says:

        It’s interesting that there appears to be no objection to the testimony in the public forum from SCO or DOJ counsel. Cummings may have offered that as a courtesy to them? Can anyone spot any counsel that might be in the background ready to step in with objections through committee counsel, etc? I don’t see anyone but haven’t looked heavily. Strictly speaking, Cohen seems to be cleared to discuss most things with the committee by SDNY and SCO already.

        • timbo says:

          Of interest is no question about Manafort so far. I think Cummings may have been advised to avoid Manafort for this first round. Just a hunch but it’s a big elephant in the room for sure.

        • timbo says:

          Yeah, in a press gaggle after the hearing, Cummings pretty much admitted that they were avoiding the Manafort side of things because the Intelligence committee’s were pursuing that side of things. He also mentioned that there were at least five House committees investigating Trump and his cronies at the moment.

  25. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Mrs. Miller is clutching her pearls and luxuriating in being appalled that Michael Cohen is a liar. She laments that her committee canceled hearings about important matters that the GOP, when it controlled the House, would never have scheduled. Lemming like, she follows her peers and yields time to the execrable wrestling coach liar Jim Jordan.

    Watching the GOP members at this hearing, I now know the life of nearly every casting director in America. There are only so many ways aspiring actors can recite lines from the same script. Only a handful of actors are remotely interesting, few of them fit the part. After a day of culling through the dross, you give one or two a callback. Then you go home and try not to drink too much or share too much frustration with those you live with, not always successfully.

    • InfiniteLoop says:

      Bravo to Rep. Plaskett for her “Thank God Democrats can walk and chew gum at the same time” rebuttal to this silly grandstanding.

  26. DaBrownOne says:

    It should be noted that now that Cohen has testified in front of the SSCI, Burr can no longer say they have not seen any DIRECT evidence of collusion. They have. That talking point is done

    • timbo says:

      Stop using the term “collusion”. It was invented by Trump’s fixers to distract folks from the idea of conspiracy. Conspiracy is a legal term, collusion is not.

  27. Silence Hand says:

    The committee Rs are tilting ineffectively at Cohen’s “redemption” story line. With a few exceptions, they don’t seem to get that “you did bad things!1!” is ineffective. Americans LOVE redemption stories, and tend to buy them wholesale. I mean, “Checkers” worked for Nixon, for Christ’s sake! Cohen’s framing has largely been successful thus far.

    • timbo says:

      They are using the same tactic that defense counsel will use to discredit witnesses in a conspiracy trial. It’s not new to them nor is it new to many of the majority members on the committee. It is, however, very ineffective in slowing down follow up hearings by the majority on the committee…which means the GOP members are trying to impress 1) their boss (Trump) and 2) those who want to support Trump longer. But, if they want to side with a conspiracy, let’s look at how well that worked for the GOP in Watergate… of course, the GOP operatives here are hoping this will be less of a problem than Iran-Contra in the end. But, with Iran-Contra, crimes prior to taking office were not so heavily interesting. Here is a first term President who barely won an election… a much more vulnerable President than Reagan or Bush I were politically.

      • Peacerme says:

        I think railing on Cohen for being a liar was particularly ineffective, in this case. Trump supporters know trump lies and they don’t care. Psychologically, it’s just a wash. Even if they don’t think trump lies, (but they know better) Cohen reported with evidence that Trump lied. It’s like cacophony. It’s like noise waves bouncing off each other. I don’t think it was effective in discrediting Cohen at all. What it does is offer a defense mechanism for the guilt and shame that trump supporters feel deep down inside. (It’s hard wired. The only way out is denial and blame). And it made the conspiracy clearer (perhaps unnecessary) to trump detractors. It’s blatant hypocrisy. “You said your not a liar but you admitted to telling lies, so that makes you a liar by definition”. (Hice, I think?) My favorite quote. I mean truly disconnected from reality. Here’s Cohen proving that Trump lied in his sworn testimony. These republicans are damn near delusional or purposefully lying themselves.

  28. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Mr. Armstrong seems to think that every lawyer in Congress would go to jail rather than breach client confidentiality. I suspect he’s as wrong about that as Hollywood is usually wrong about how things get done in DC. Armstrong also ignores that there are many exceptions to that privilege, such as the crime-fraud exception.

    The manner and confidence with which Armstrong portrays Cohen as financially deceptive, a given, suggests that Armstrong either knows Donald Trump well, or he has earlier investigated America’s major banks. A friend was a former prosecutor in the Hague and later worked investigating bank fraud for the USG. She said that it was easier to prosecute an alleged Yugoslavian war criminal than to get her superiors to allow her to prosecute a major American bank.

  29. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Mr. Steube obviously knows nussink because he doesn’t understand much of what he’s reading, which he tries to put in the form of a question, with little success.

  30. RWood says:

    As one of his constituents, please allow me to say that there’s no need for anyone to point out that Steube is an asshat.

    We already know.

  31. Jenny says:

    Jay Sekulow has some explaining to do. He will be bombarded with questions from the press. So much more to be revealed especially with the SDNY.

    • Naomi says:

      and how many times did Cohen mention “Rhona Graff” might have been in the know… office across from Trump, announces Stone’s phone call with a shout…
      Some of the Republicans on the committee went to NY to “visit” with her… any transcripts available?

  32. Willis Warren says:

    I thought today went wonderfully. Stone is now on the hook and we already know he cried like a bitch about going to prison. He’s flippable, even if it takes a hard hand, to provide just enough. Fuck you Roger Stone, you piece of shit.

  33. harpie says:

    Meadows accused Cohen about misrepresenting something on the congressional form Cohen filled out, but Meadows is wrong:
    https://twitter.com/mcculloughirvin/status/1100823396382920705 10:22 AM – 27 Feb 2019
    [quote] From a colleague, this is an up-to-date Truth in Testimony form from this committee (@OversightDems). The language is clear. Reportable payments must arise from a foreign government. [copy] [end quote]

  34. BobCon says:

    Caught a few minutes of NPR talking heads, and they confirmed my feeling that they are really bad at their jobs. Before I turned them off, they managed to:

    — Conflate SDNY with Mueller, which is particularly amazing when it’s clear that much of Cohen-Trump is SDNY.

    — Suggested that impeachment was simply a political vote, completely overlooking the investigative piece.

    — Got hung up on the “no indictment of a president” bit, with no hint that indictments can be issued in 2021.

    It’s disturbing that over two years in, they still screw up fundamentals of this issue. NPR news is a deeply broken organization.

  35. Frank Probst says:

    Interesting comment from Chris Christie, of all people. He pointed out that the Republicans are attacking Cohen almost exclusively on the grounds of his credibility. Very few are taking the time to deny the substance of what he’s saying.

    • Tom says:

      The Republicans are only drawing attention to the weakness of their position, which would be trying to defend the indefensible. Besides, everything Cohen is saying rings so true and is so consistent with how we’ve seen Trump behave over the past two years and more. Nothing sounds out of character for the President we have come to know and loathe.

  36. Theresa says:

    While we’re all watching the Cohen hearings with bated breath, two filings came out. One re GJ subpoena from County A mystery corp 19 pages and another Manafort supplemental sentencing memorandum, tons of redactions, but wonder if this was submitted to add additional info from Rick Gates 2/15/19 interview? Can be found in @big_cases I will patiently await Marcy’s analysis.

    Also, why didn’t anyone follow-up when Cohen said that on more than 500 occasions, Individual1 asked Cohen to threaten or intimidate people/groups on his behalf? That would have been a juicy thread to follow.

    • Badger Robert says:

      The new filing by the Mueller team is gives the NYT a chance to fix its story which readers here already knew had to happen. The key and codes to the polling data were transferred in the August 2, 2016 meeting when the parties rolled out a new level of risk taking.

  37. Peterr says:

    As a former bartender, AOC has a well-trained nose for sniffing out BS, a keen tongue to skewer belligerent idiots, and an ability to see the heart of the matter. And when she gets an answer of “I don’t know” her followup of “Who would have that information?” is genius.

    Taken as a whole, that short round of questioning should worry Trump & Co a lot more than most of the other stuff that’s been brought up today.

    • Tech Support says:

      AOC was really one of my favorite parts of the entire hearing. No histrionics or controversy. Just serious questions designed to get stuff into the record and elicit follow-ups. Also unlike many of her fellow committee members, she didn’t stumble over her own words or get lost in the process of asking her own questions.

      • Kai-Lee says:

        Agree she did a good job.

        Tlaib, on the other hand, had better get her shit together and watch carefully what she says. And learn to read her own statements. Some of the new high-profile Dems are not yet ready for prime time. They’d better learn fast so they don’t embarrass their colleagues any further. You can’t just shoot your mouth off like it’s campus protest or fundraiser fun time now that you’re a paid pol. Pelosi shouldn’t have to baby-sit (the likes of Gaetz, Jordan et al, either) these people.

        • alaura says:

          Calling out the GOP for using Black people as props was very important and powerful. Hopefully that’s last time any of them try the “I have a Black friend” racist tactic.
          It was nauseating to see that Lynne Patton standing there. I don’t understand why she did it, she had no reason to be there.

        • So_n_so says:

          And please note that the theatrical charade was all completely pre-planned. That is why we’d prefer genuine rule of law to Lord of the Flies stuff.

      • timbo says:

        She also pointed out, by example, something the other reps should be doing. Looking for how Trump’s corruption directly effects their own districts. Of course, her district is likely more impacted by Trump’s penchant for cheating on taxes and drinking from the public trough.

    • Peterr says:

      Looks like I was right about the source of AOCs skill in this hearing, based on AOC’s tweet shortly after my comment:

      Bartending + waitressing (especially in NYC) means you talk to 1000s of people over the years. Forces you to get great at reading people + hones a razor-sharp BS detector. Just goes to show that what some consider to be “unskilled labor” can actually be anything but 😉


  38. pjb says:

    I have been lurking for quite some time as I had little additional to add to discussions but very much appreciated both Marcy’s insights and the level (in the main) of the discourse in the comments. So, thanks to all of you.

    I may have missed some discussion of this, and if so, I apologize. I note many commentators have said that Cohen’s strong denials of being in Prague in summer 2016 or of meeting any Russian intelligence officials during that time as set forth in the so-called “Steele Dossier.” And, I know Marcy largely believes that the dossier itself is rife with Russian dezo in order to discredit the US criminal investigations, particularly the SCO’s. But, since the claim in the dossier is so specific, I have a hard time letting this one go. Crediting Cohen’s veracity today (he has every reason to tell the truth and none to lie, I think), under what possible circumstances can anyone speculate about in which Cohen was not in Prague, but (as per McClatchky) his cell phone did ping a cell tower in the Prague environs? What’s a plausible scenario in which both the reporting, the dossier and Cohen are all substantially correct?

    • Rick says:

      I have no actual idea, but I have read in interviews (I can’t remember where exactly) that Trump likes to phone people from other people’s phones. I think he is paranoid (with good reason).

      Anyway, it would be possible he (or someone else) had a different person take Cohen’s phone to Prague, so that he could explain away any call from there as being from Cohen, who would have an alibi by not being there.

      I know it sounds crazy, but… Crazy times.

      I don’t believe it happened, but it would explain the facts IF they are true.

      • Pjb says:

        I guess I was willing to believe the Prague story mostly because of how unconvincing I found Cohen’s denial on client 3’s show, waiving his passport around like it needed to be stamped to evidence his entry from a Shingen zone country. And, we know he was in Italy in summer 2016 (he says Capri with Little Stevie)

        But, I have to say, neither Trump nor Cohen strike me as guys with any spycraft game and so I rather doubt Cohen’s phone was there without him. But, as you say, anything could be plausible with this crew.

      • 3panation says:

        Wasn’t the info regarding Cohen in Prague coming from a foreign intelligence source?
        Could it be he was supposed to have gone to Prague, but somebody else went instead?
        Cohen’s denial is then true, but the gist of the story is still right, someone from the campaign delivered the payment, it just wasn’t Cohen.

    • SteveR says:

      Cohen’s most recent denial is direct and specific — “I haven’t been to Prague nor to the Czech Republic.” But if I wanted to meet up with a Russian, and I didn’t expect I was being watched, but wanted to mitigate the potential for a later “reconstruction” of our rendezvous, I might let my comrades travel to Prague while I traveled to Dresden, some 70 miles and a two hour train ride away. Crazy to speculate, but you asked for possibilities that might make all of the stories mostly true.

    • Rad says:

      Plausible scenario to make all three true:
      Someone travelling to Czechia has Cohen’s phone, which pings a tower there. Intelligence operative sees Cohen’s phone has pinged the tower. The reasonable supposition is that Cohen is visiting Prague as normal people, even normal criminals, don’t hand over their phones to someone else. Intelligence operative reports this either directly to Steele or to Steele informant, and it ends up in the dossier as ‘Cohen was in Prague’.

      • Pjb says:

        Yes, but what’s the plausible scenario that someone (who?) has Cohen’s phone? Do we think Cohen is a real life Jason Bourne and has done a switcheroo with some other Trump lackey (Papadop or Page) by planting in their pocket when bumping into on a moving train? It just seems implausible to me, sadly.

        • Rad says:

          It’s not implausible at all. When you purchase a phone new, its IMEI is registered in your name. If you borrow or privately purchase a secondhand phone, the IMEI doesn’t get changed into your name.

          Normal people don’t hand over their phones under normal circumstances, but it does happen. Eg I loaned a friend my old phone immediately after I upgraded to a new one. If its IMEI had been on someone’s watch list, it could have been used as evidence that I was somewhere I wasn’t.

          People give away SIMs as well, not thinking about how it could connect them to crime. Mohamed Haneef was deported from Australia because a relative who was involved in a bombing had an old SIM belonging to him.

          Cohen had multiple phones that the press labelled burner phones, but if he wasn’t smart about it, there were multiple IMEIs registered in his name. He could easily have loaned one of these to someone who lost their phone or didn’t want to take their own for whatever reason.

        • BeingThere says:

          If someone else traveling had a US CDMA only phone (e.g Sprint or Verizon) they’d need to lay hands on one compatible with GSM and the newer protocols used worldwide. Borrowing a phone from Cohen could well be the reason. Then appropriate service plan or locally acquired prepaid SIM needed, or borrowed.

          Have pondered whether this solitary tower connection is as someone transited via an airport near Prague. Perhaps changing airline en-route to a less-well served country in eastern Europe. It should be easy to check air routes served from Prague airport for example.

  39. Peterr says:

    Elijah Cummings has had enough, and made it plain for all to see.

    Getting applause for his “this meeting is adjourned” is NOT typical at a congressional hearing.

      • harpie says:

        Here’s the video with split screen: https://twitter.com/girlsreallyrule/status/1100886168823123969
        I know that this has been hard. I know that you faced a lot. I know that you are worried about your family. But this is a part of your destiny. And hopefully this portion of your destiny, will lead to a better…a BETTER, a better Michael Cohen, a better Donald Trump, a better United States of America, and a better world. And I mean that from the depths of my heart. When we’re dancing with the angels, the question will be asked: in two thousand and nineteen, what did WE do to make sure we kept our democracy intact? Did we stand on the sidelines and say NOthing? Did we…and I’m TIRED of these statements saying…people come in here and say “Oh…oh, this is the first hearing!” It is NOT the first hearing! The first hearing was with regard to prescription drugs. Remember, a little girl, a lady sat there, Ms. Wortham [sp?]. Her daughter DIED because she could not get three hundred and thirtythree dollars a month in insulin. THAT was our first Hearing. Second Hearing: HR1. Voting Rights. Corruption in government. Come on now! We can do more than one thing. And we have got to get back to normal. With that, this meeting is adjourned. [Clapping]

      • harpie says:

        And here’s [I think part of] COHEN’s closing statement:
        Transcript, COHEN:
        In, closing, I’d like to say directly to The President: We honor our veterans, even in the rain. You tell the truth, even when it doesn’t aggrandize you. You respect the law, and our incredible law enforcement agents. You don’t villainize them. You don’t disparage generals, gold star families, prisoners of war, and other heroes who had the courage to fight for this county. You don’t attack the media and those who question what you don’t like or what you don’t want them to say. And you take responsibility for your own dirty deeds. You don’t use the power of your bully pulpit to destroy the credibility of those who speak out against you. You don’t separate families from one another or demonize those looking to America for a better life. You don’t vilify people based on the God they pray to. And you don’t cuddle up to our adversaries at the expense of our allies. And, finally, you don’t shut down the government before Christmas and New Years just to simply appease your base.
        This behavior is churlish. It denigrates the office of the President. And it’s simply un-American. And it’s not you.
        So, to those who support the President and his rhetoric as I once did, I pray the country doesn’t make the same mistakes that I have made or pay the heavy price that my family and I are paying.
        And I thank you very much for this additional time, Mr. Chairman.

    • BobCon says:

      I think the biggest takeaway is that there is a metric ton of crud under investigation we don’t really know about, and probably another metric ton that can also be investigated.

      I don’t know how well the media will pick up on this — I suspect most of them move their lips as they try to read the transcripts and struggle to think how Mueller will work this into a report, as if Mueller hasn’t passed it on to other prosecutors months ago.

      • Tom Christopher says:

        That is why Mueller is taking so long. This goes very very deep and wide probably. Widespread corruption, treason, conspiracy, money laundering, much of which was centered on getting Trump elected. Mueller, given the current climate and normalization of Trump and GOP behavior, knows he must have absolute hard evidence to present. I knew something was up when the first day of the Republican convention, GOP went along with Trump removing the wording about the position on assistance to Ukraine.. I suspected then that the quid pro quo was on with Putin.

      • Peterr says:

        And the greatest bulk of those metric tons are being investigated by people other than Mueller. IOW, the end of Mueller’s investigation — whenever that happens — is not the end of Trump’s danger.

    • Eureka says:

      Yes, and to your first item I would add other info brokers/catch-and-killers, namely TMZ (New Yorker & DB pieces with main content on this strand (DB on the elevator tape pursuit- got rare statement from Levin camp (counsel); also some in an August Bloomberg piece on Levin).

    • jaag says:

      Maybe add the Cohen comment that Mueller has asked him not to discuss the last time Trump people reached out to him, or spoke with him. I don’t remember the direct quote. I wish I did.

      They may have sent a thug to see him. I think that was what he implied. correct me if I am wrong; I’m just watching snippets amidst news coverage.

      • pseudonymous in nc says:

        That has the whiff of either a pardon being floated or a threat if he cooperates. Carrot or stick.

        Sam Nunberg (of all people) said of Matthew Calamari that everybody outside the inner circle of the Family Business hated him. There was also a hint that Cohen did the verbal and legal threats and Other People did the heavy business.

  40. RWood says:

    If memory serves, Drump denied having any prior knowledge of the Wikileaks release in his written answers to Mueller.

    I don’t have the time to dig. Can anyone confirm?

    • Michael Keenan says:

      “Mr. Trump knew from Roger Stone in advance of the WikiLeaks drop of emails … Mr. Trump put Mr. Stone on the speakerphone,” Cohen said. “Mr. Stone told Mr. Trump he had just gotten off the phone with Julian Assange and that Mr. Assange told Mr. Stone that, within a couple of days, there would be a massive dump of emails that would damage Hillary Clinton’s campaign.”

      The response from the president, Cohen alleges, was enthusiastic.

      “Wouldn’t that be great?” Trump allegedly quipped to Cohen.

      Stone explicitly told Trump that Assange had a “massive dump of emails that would hurt the Clinton campaign,” Cohen told Representative Peter Welch, D-Vt.

      “I don’t know whether he knew or not and I don’t believe he did, what the sum and substance of the dump was going to be, only that there was going to be a dump of emails,” Cohen said.

      The conversation Cohen described to lawmakers occurred at an integral moment during the 2016 campaign. It happened just before WikiLeaks dumped the emails and before Trump invited Russia to hack Clinton’s emails during a press conference.
      (Looks like Trump invited Russian hack after the drop by wikileaks.)

  41. Badger Robert says:

    I wonder if the FBI has known of the Stone/Trump late July phone call for a long time. All they have been working on is a legal way to have known it. SCO mostly likely asked Cohen over and over again, isn’t true that Roger called Donald and bragged about this knowledge. Cohen concluded it must have happened.

    • timbo says:

      What sort of nonsense are you going on about here now? Ugh. If you had actually listened to the testimony today you’d know that Cohen said there was other witnesses to this phone call and gave the committee the name of one such witness, a witness other than Trump himself.

  42. orionATL says:

    by far the most interesting thing i learned today involved the story of cohen being present and listening as trump and roger stone held a conversation over the intercom about a conversation stone had had with assange that wikileaks would be “publishing” the stolen clinton emails in the near future. by analogy with scrabble this would be a big-points event: trump, stone, and assange in one fell swoop.

  43. punaise says:

    Michael row your notes ashore, hallelujah
    Michael throw that POTUS, sure, hallelujah

    Sister help to trim the sail, AOC, yeah
    Sister help to trim the sail, go Rashida

    Michael row your notes ashore, hallelujah
    Michael throw that POTUS, sure, hallelujah

    That Gym Jordan is chilly and a scold, hallelujah
    Chills the body politic, hallelujah

    Michael row your notes ashore, hallelujah
    Michael throw that POTUS, sure, hallelujah

    Jordan’s skiver is deep and wide, hallelujah
    Bilk and money on the other side, hallelujah

    Michael row your notes ashore, hallelujah
    Michael throw that POTUS, sure, hallelujah

    • Peterr says:

      (With apologies to that other Cohen)

      Well I’ve heard there was a secret deal
      That Trump contrived and greased the wheel
      But you don’t really care for towers, do you?
      Well it goes like this:
      The wink, the nudge, the minor bribe and the major grift
      The bluffing king constructing, Hallelujah

      Hallelujah . . .

      • punaise says:

        Nice. With further apologies to the good Cohen:

        Ah, the moon’s too bright
        The chain’s too tight
        The beast won’t go to sleep
        I’ve been running through these promises to you
        That I kept but should not have made
        Ah, but a man never got his freedom back
        Not by begging on his knees
        Or I’d “law” at you maybe lest I fall for your tweets
        And I’d howl at the booty like a dog in heat
        And I’d claw at your heart, and I’d tear at your (rap) sheet
        I’d say pleas (please)
        I’m (no longer) your man

  44. harpie says:

    Bmaz, thanks for this tweet and responses…especially that PHOTO!

    https://twitter.com/bmaz/status/1100919941279047681 4:45 PM – 27 Feb 2019

    [quote] Dear @RepMarkMeadows You and Trump are racist dregs of American humanity and ought to get your fat heads out of your racist bigot asses. @RashidaTlaib was absolutely right today, and you were a craven jerk. It is a new day; get used to honesty. [end quote]
    ADD this one:
    [quote] 5:08 PM – 27 Feb 2019 When the Federalist Society, Len Leo, and the craven “conservative movement”, that has been working for 35 years to get the US to this depraved point in time, apologizes for their craven sins like Cohen did today, get back to me. Other than that, they can rot and shut up. [end quote]

    • harpie says:

      This is a transcript of the [2012] Mark Meadows campaign video that’s floating around on twitter, BUT there’s something weird about it just before the word Kenya…so I’m not sure what’s up with that:
      https://twitter.com/stevemorris__/status/1100881913756176386 2:14 PM – 27 Feb 2019
      Transcript: MEADOWS [2012]:
      [Applause] Well, it’s good to be here with you today. I thank you so much for allowing me just a few minutes to talk with you and share a few things. You know, it’s interesting when the more we find out, the more we realize how wrong the direction we’re going. So, what we’re gonna do is take back our country. 2012 is the time we’re gonna send Mr. Obama home to Kenya or wherever it is. We’re gonna do it! [applause]

      • pizza says:

        I think I heard what you’re referring to. Sounds to me like some effect from him turning his speaking direction at that moment. Sounds like his voice goes kind of flat but kind of synthetic also, if you know what I mean.

        But what a racist son of a bitch that guy is. If Obama were white, would he stand up there and say he going to send him back to England or wherever he’s from? Meadows is a fucking racist ass motherfucker. No further evidence needed.

        • harpie says:

          Yeah. I didn’t know too much about him, and know that video can be made to seem to be something it’s not.
          BUT [:-)] I have since read some interesting things:
          12/18/18: As Trump mulled chief of staff pick, U.S. Rep. Mark Meadows’s USF degree was fixed on Wikipedia Multiple outlets and the House of Representative historian have credited Meadows for earning a bachelor of arts from the University of South Florida. He didn’t. [Tampa Bay dot com]

          2/27/18 Don’t Forget Mark Meadows Made A Racist Birther Joke In 2012 The Republican congressman repeatedly said he wanted to send Obama “home to Kenya or wherever it is.” [HuffPo]

      • Cathy says:

        Definitely the more disheartening of the bones. With all due respect to cognitive behavioral therapy, at what point does the clown find himself unable to remove his make-up? the player remove his public-facing self and find the masque beneath?

  45. orionATL says:

    jaag 2/27@9:46p

    thanks. very interesting.

    wikileaks comment seems to fit the category of non-denial denials.

  46. orionATL says:

    michael keenan 2/27@10:18pm


    one never knows whether what roger says at a point in time is true or false.

    roger is the sworn enemy of all logic truth tables :). order is not his thing; chaos is!!

  47. Maestro says:

    It seems pretty likely that Cohen lied today about not wanting and not pursuing a job in the White House. I wonder why he wouldn’t let that one go—ego perhaps?

    • timbo says:

      Really? How is it that you reached this conclusion? Cohen was pretty adamant about not wanting a position in the Administration in testimony today. Are you looking for some excuse as to why Cohen would be seeking “payback” from Trump for being jilted on a job at the White House?

      Seriously, I’m pretty sure that he preferred the position he did have—away from the infighting in and around the White House and with more free time to relax with his family and friends. Basically, he remained a free agent while most of Trump’s White House chums ended up in a hell of their own making. How many of those folks are still at the White House besides Trump’s family members? Not many.

      Being in the first wave of a new administration is not a picnic in the best of circumstances—this has not been the best of circumstances by any stretch of the imagination. A White House position requires meeting ethics requirements and obligations, security clearance investigations, etc, that someone who has been a fixer might want to avoid… so, if you believe that Cohen had something to hide and knew he had something to hide, why would he want to go through that sort of wringer at all?

      • bmaz says:

        This appears to be stupid vapor. He said he even brought an attorney who said it would be a bad idea due to conflicts. If that is all they have on him, he is fine.

        • Badger Robert says:

          Cohen may have wanted a White House job at one point until he realized everything that would be involved. Both things can be true in sequence. It does seem that Cohen began to assemble his own file to protect himself.

        • bmaz says:

          Agree completely with that. If nothing else but the loss of income that could easily have happened. Thought about it and then said…Nope! I dunno, but it just seems laughable as an issue. GOP is clutching at straws.

        • PieIsDamnGood says:

          He may have had to perform a song and dance about not getting a white house job to keep Trump placated. All the noise may have been to let Trump think he “won,” rather than any real complaints.

  48. tinao says:

    OMG bmaz are we actually inching closer to a ricco filing, is it now a slim possibility? I totally respect you.

  49. JameJoyce says:

    This is a hammer…

    Trump has violated the IRS Tax Exempt Rule of Inurement.

    King Midus is a fraud…

    Tax exempt status of a corporate entity precludes deriving a private benefit.

    Trump is all about Trump as was Benito all about Benito…

    Buying alleged “art” of yourself with funds from a foundation takes the cake while licking all the icing off like a petulant pig..

    Not one member of Congress mentioned the violation of this IRS rule.

    Pressely was scratching at the surface.

    This is Benito Mussolini without the incursion into Ethiopia.

    Trump’s incursion might be Venezuela as the noose tightens to distract…

    This is not normal or is it?

    It is corporate and fascist.

    The son of a holocaust survivor should have know better, period.

    He did not…

    Catch and Kill?
    Loyalty Oaths?
    Blood and Soil?

    Truth hurts. This is fascist at its very core. Fascism is fraud imposed on society. It will vaporize soon.

    This is an “imposition” on America, because fools voted for the conman.

    Benito was a conman.

    No silent American here..

  50. Yette says:

    Please dont let the Butina story be swept under the rug, its the real conspiracy of Russian influence throughout the entire GOP. The Cohen hearing is theater, but the Butina cooperation with the Feds is the real deal. Its amazing how folks get distracted away from actual conspiracies.

      • OldMaine Guy says:

        Okay, my hands get a little shaky when I sit down to question bmaz.

        I think the phrase that jumps out at me from Yette’s post is “conspiracy of Russian influence throughout the entire GOP”. Butina’s main focus, to my limited understanding, was establishing and expanding the Russian relationship with the NRA (NRA in Russia? Really? How exactly would THAT work?). But in the 2016 election cycle, the NRA (from opensecrets.org) donated to candidates in 238 House races races: 234 Republicans, 4 Democrats ( who received a princely total of $10,500 out of the $839,574 total NRA donations that cycle). In the Senate, the NRA donated in 23 races: 23 Republicans, 0 Democrats. I agree, Trump/Russia is obviously the main show. And it more and more appears that Trump is pretty much owned by the Russians. But the completely flaccid and supine response of the Republicans in Congress has been at least a little puzzling to many. Since Russia is a country which is run essentially by dark money, I think Yette’s point that Butina might be the entry point for investigations as to whether that dark money was and is being funneled through the NRA to own not just an American President (no small accomplishment, eh?) but an entire friggin’ political party (in a two-party system) rates as more than minor. If half of what can be surmised (admit: surmised is, well, just that) is true, then long after Trump is gone the Republican Party will still be owned by foreign money laundered through the NRA. I think that’s the real conspiracy to which Yette refers. OK, let the flogging begin.

        • bmaz says:

          There is no evidence that Butina was the conduit of all that money or much more than a bit player. Is she properly prosecuted? Looks that way, but she does not look that significant. Cohen, however, is a gateway to almost everything surrounding Trump.

  51. Manqueman says:

    Even if Cohen’s testimony was dishonest on what you can call a Trumpian level, it laid a fine foundation for the blue House to investigate.
    And as if a reminder’s needed, the burden of proof is much lower in the court of public opinion than in every court of law.
    And points to my beloved AOC who laid a great foundation of more from the House as well as from the New York state AG.

  52. harpie says:

    Today in NK, Trump said he believes Kim Jong Un was not responsible for what happened to Otto Warmbier:
    [quote] “Those prisons are rough…He tells me that he didn’t know about it and I will take him at his word.” [end quote]
    How many people who work for Kim Jong Un could say the same thing Michael Cohen said today:
    [quote] Mr. Trump did not directly tell me to lie to Congress. That’s not how he operates. In conversations we had during the campaign, at the same time I was actively negotiating in Russia for him, he would look me in the eye and tell me there’s no business in Russia and then go out and lie to the American people by saying the same thing. In his way, he was telling me to lie. [end quote]

  53. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Trump will believe anything that puts him on the front page. Facts and credibility are irrelevant.

    • bmaz says:

      Well, that is more than possible, but Ken and NBC have gotten such reports wrong before sometimes. I will say this, Weisselberg looks to be either a cooperator or a trial defendant soon.

  54. Badger Robert says:

    Russian interference took three forms, it appears.
    1. The money laundered through the NRA was helpful but never was going to be decisive.
    2. The Wikileaks material was a back-effort, because they could never be sure whether Assange would play his role. It turned out better than the crooks expected, but there was great uncertainty attached to it.
    3. The main effort was the social media influence. That was the effort that was worth a high level, very risky meeting in New York. That is the meeting that will generate the optics that bring the scheme crashing down.
    Thanks again.

  55. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Michael Cohen may be an admitted criminal and serial liar with morals as flexible as a Chinese acrobat. What does it say about a guy who trusts no one and uses few people more than once, who happily put Michael Cohen in an office next to him and used him for his own ends for a decade?

    • Savage Librarian says:

      Yes, I was wishing someone would make this point during the hearing. Seems like it might be a good snark to Jim Jordan. Something like, “So, if you think I am so awful, what does that say about DT?”

  56. xrayvision says:

    Jim Jordan is so annoying and so lame. He needs a good ex-wrestling coach nickname. How about “gymnauseum”?

    • Badger Robert says:

      Jordan is the kind of wrestling coach that will unintentionally convince a guy to study calculus harder.

      • General Sternwood says:

        And, lest we forget, Jordan is:

        … one of only three former school officials named, including Strauss, though the action is aimed at all the coaches, administrators and others in positions of responsibility at OSU who, it claims, stood by while students and student-athletes were repeatedly “sexually abused, harassed, and molested,” and “forced” to seek treatment from a well-known predator even after they complained. (Rolling Stone, July 18, 2018)

        • General Sternwood says:

          and bmaz just tweeted a link to a new CNN story that quotes another OSU wrestler:

          “Jordan is denying this because obviously it would be political suicide for him,” the former wrestler said. “He’s still denying it. Jim Jordan knew. He didn’t do anything about it.”

  57. NorskieFlamethrower says:

    Hey bmaz, just saw a lawyer on TV speak about taking the entire Trump/Russia Organization down. Can you spell RICO for me?

    • P J Evans says:

      They don’t need RICO for that: tax evasion, money laundering, using foundation account as personal checkbook….

      • NorskieFlamethrower says:

        No but they do if they wanna get ALL the financial operations and anyone who was contracted for anything specifically identified in the indictment at the same time. Stop the money and choke off the rat holes and the get the the rest of them under conspiracy to defraud.

        • LeeNLP says:

          OT, but every time I hear the word “rat” used in description of people like Trump and Stone, I am reminded what amazing animals rats really are: survivors, intelligent, and wonderful pets according to many people. They co-evolved with humans without getting domesticated and turned into pugs, like dogs. (Could there be “rugs”? Manafort makes me wonder…) Even lab rats, while unfortunate, have done far more good for humankind than these vile people ever could.

          Rats don’t deserve such comparisons.

      • bmaz says:

        Also, too, fraud and bank fraud. There is not gonna be RICO by anything I have seen. But people just won’t give that shit up.

        • NorskieFlamethrower says:

          I understand where you are coming from bmaz and I agree in that in so far as the Trump Org is just a washer and drier and is basically broke on it’s own, taking it down doesn’t clean up the mess but eliminating it (as a “rat hole”) allows the government to continue to pursue the con fraud US and stops a major source of purchasing power for the Ruskies. And it sends a message to the rest of America’s corporate oligarchs. Something is happening here at this moment and I’m fightin’ really hard not to be optimistic.

        • pseudonymous in nc says:

          The idea that Phil Ruffin came up with $28m in “uncollected back fees” just as the fake university had to pay out a $25m settlement points to the kind of money that’s sloshing around to make things look solvent.

          Eight-figure check-kiting.

  58. OldTulsaDude says:

    It appears to this layman that the Stormy Daniels payment includes a whole array of potential crimes – the fact that the payments were set up to be routed through Individual-1’s business was probably done not only to hide them but also so the money could be deducted as a business expense. If the tax angle is correct, could tax fraud and conspiracy for same be added to the charges of campaign finance violations? I ask as I think the American people would respond much more negatively toward criminal tax evasion and tax fraud than campaign finance violations.

    • SteveR says:

      Everything blew up before any tax returns were filed. So I can’t imagine anyone would have stepped in that trap.

      • OldTulsaDude says:


        Ironically, if the payments were not claimed as a business expense it would seem that very failure would be further proof that the payments were not what they were claimed to be.

        • SteveR says:

          Yep. Perhaps especially when money is flowing around, it’s usually pretty hard to make up a lie that is not destined to be blatantly contradicted by some other statement made, or position taken, by the teller. And to your point, even as Trump’s sycophants are implying that the $420K was probably paid to Cohen for a legitimate reason, they have to know that Trump has not reported it as such on his tax returns. Oh, what a tangled web ….

        • InfiniteLoop says:

          In this case, I actually don’t think so.

          Cohen’s bill was for a legal retainer in his capacity as personal attorney for Trump. That’s a personal expense, not a business one.

          Incidentally, one point I’ve not seen explained was why the amount was doubled a second time as a bonus (the first doubling being to account for income taxes). If this wasn’t common practice for all the other times Cohen paid to arrange someone’s silence, it suggests that Cohen’s intervention had greater value than usual — which would support the case that the payment was meant to influence the campaign.

        • InfiniteLoop says:

          Whoops, it wasn’t quite a second doubling, but the point still stands even if my math was off :-).

  59. harpie says:

    OK…new MATT GAETZ sub-thread–
    TRUMP CALLS GAETZ ABOUT HEARING! [from Hannoi–before he leaves the Summit earlier than expected.]:
    https://twitter.com/IsaacDovere/status/1101131327137636353 6:45 AM – 28 Feb 2019
    President Trump called @mattgaetz last night from Hanoi to talk the Cohen testimony and the threats (since rescinded) Gaetz made about Cohen. //”I was happy to do it for you. You just keep killing it,” Gaetz was heard telling him. // (Gaetz told me he doesn’t discuss calls w/POTUS)

    • harpie says:

      Walter Schaub responds:
      https://twitter.com/waltshaub/status/1101136468683210752 7:06 AM – 28 Feb 2019
      [quote] .@TheFlaBar, this is relevant to your investigation of @mattgaetz: (1) he threatened a committee witness; (2) he’s not a committee member; (3) his allegations were not raised in the hearing, suggesting he had no basis; and now (4) he reportedly ADMITTED TO DOING IT FOR TRUMP [emphasis added]. [end quote]

    • harpie says:

      “FOR TRUMP”:
      https://twitter.com/dcpoll/status/1100928581453123589 5:20 PM – 27 Feb 2019
      [Quote] REP @AOC: To your knowledge was [TRUMP] interested in reducing his local real estate tax bills?
      COHEN: Yes.
      AOC: Who else knows [TRUMP] did this?
      COHEN: Allen Weisselberg, Ron Lieberman, and Matthew Calamari [who said he would kill FOR TRUMP [emphasis added]. [end quote]

      Links to:
      [quote] @DCPOLL: Talk about a loyalty pledge.
      Trump to longtime Trump Org security & surveillance chief, Matthew Calamari: “Would you kill FOR ME, Matty?”
      Calamari: “Yes, sir, Mr. Trump!”
      Trump to journo: “See. Matty would kill FOR ME.” [BF] [end quote]

  60. fpo says:

    Gotta love the indignation/outrage directed at the Dems for holding the hearing on the same day that burger king is “negotiating” with paramour Kim. The exasperation/outrage/disbelief from Hannity et al. was palpable. And the Oscar goes to…

    If it was so damn important you’d think he could have taken a question or two from the US reporters at that hot mess of a press conference afterward. Of course, true to form he didn’t actually answer any of the questions that were asked…”beautiful relationship this…we’ll see about that…” Excusable but only from the standpoint of what was accomplished – nada.

    Tired of winning…or just freaking tired? (cue The Left Banke…”Just Walk Away Renee”)

    • P J Evans says:

      he can’t walk away any more without getting hit by an avalanche of charges from various legal agencies, he doesn’t have the money to pay them off, and his “friends” won’t do it because that would expose them to charges.

  61. Willis Warren says:

    The Kim fiasco is worse than anyone thinks. Russia was very instrumental in helping Kim fund his nuclear program. Kim will repay Putin and serve as a proxy for nuclear blackmail should Putin need to put pressure on the US.

    We really are in greater danger of a nuclear war than we’ve been in since Gorbachev.

    • Frank Probst says:

      India and Pakistan may start a war soon, too, which won’t be pretty.
      The Kim fiasco was another example of Trump and Trump’s Administration’s incompetence. Trump thinks he’s better than experienced diplomats, and he face-planted here. A summit like this one should happen only after the advance team has hammered out the all of the details of the deal. Trump went in without even having a broad outline for one, and it went about as well as expected.

      • BobCon says:

        In both cases, the US is hamstrung by the lack of a qualified State Department. They have previously had deeply qualified staff who do endlessly tedious, sometimes humiliating work to deal with these kinds of challenges without anything crashing and burning. Now those people are chased away or fading out.

        That’s one thing that is so frustrating about the pundits rushing to the defense of Elliott Abrams. Abrams is not an institutionalist. He has a long history fighting for the deprofessionalization of US foreign policy institutions. He is not the warm and nurturing mentor they portray him to be, except in deeply cynical circumstances.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Well stated. Elliott Abrams, like Ollie North and others involved in Iran-Contra, is effective when he can corrupt the institutions and staff of American foreign policy. That allows his patrons to insert him into the foreign policy process to achieve their destructive, violent, and lucrative-for-neoliberals ends.

          That perspective takes at face value the publicly stated purposes and good faith intent of the foreign policy establishment and the many involved in it who believe in and strive to pursue those purposes.

          I tend to follow, however, the views of Noam Chomsky and others on such things. They would consider that perspective optimistic. I believe they would view Abrams not as an outlier in the US foreign policy establishment, but as a prototypical colonial officer pursuing its central aims and methods. That would be one reason why we have such a deafening silence from both parties about Abrams’s durability and his return to prominence.

  62. Oldguy says:

    One exchange that has gotten little explanation is the arithmetic that took a $130,000 reimbursement for hush money to $385,000 in payments (11 X $35,000) from the Trump Trust and presumably the Trump organization under the guise of a retainer fee.

    I believe Mr. Cohen explained that this included a $60,000 bonus, and was grossed up to offset income taxes that would be due.

    Since the marginal combined income tax rates for New York and NYC are a little more than 12% and the federal marginal rate is 37%, to pay back $130,000 cost Trump and the Trump organization $260,000, and the stated $60,000 bonus was, in the way normal people and accountants view it, a $120,000 bonus that netted Mr. Cohen $60,000.
    Does this seem like the correct computation? Assuming it is, it means that by using a cut out, Mr. Trump and the Trump Organization paid $255,000 more than they would have if they had just made a direct payoff of $130,000 to Ms. Daniels. Assuming Mr. Cohen is telling the truth relative to the nature of the payments, which could easily be corroborated by Mr. Weisselberg, this would give some weight to the value Mr. Trump gave the need to conspire to hide the payout.

    I also kink of groaned when I heard Mr. Cohen use the $60,000 number as a bonus when it was actually twice that, it appears.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Assuming Cohen was in the highest tax brackets, and barring federal tax deductions for New York state taxes paid, I think the arithmetic is about right.

      If Mr. Cohen were expecting to be paid back, he would care only about the net amount he could keep after taxes and the time value of waiting for his money. His rough arithmetic that a gross up to the payee requires the payor to pay about twice the net amount due is correct.

      You raise another important point this blog has raised before. Trump repaid Cohen about $130K for paying a Trump debt. He paid another $130K to hide what he was doing.

      But collapsing the transactions is part of what creates problems here. Stated another way, Trump’s company should have booked those payments as compensation paid to Trump. Trump should have declared that compensation as taxable income. Cohen should have booked $130K as a loan repayment and the balance as income.

      Alternatively, those payments were contributions paid to Trump’s campaign shortly before the presidential election, to create a false impression about the candidate’s behavior, in the hope that that would positively influence voters toward him. His campaign should have booked and declared the illegal contribution.

      Almost certainly, those payments were booked, instead, as a tax deductible $260K fee for legal services paid by the Trump Organization to Cohen, with Cohen booking the full amount as income. Full stop.

      That treatment would be tax fraud under New York State and federal rules by Cohen, Trump and the Trump Organization, and/or a conspiracy to violate federal campaign laws by all of the above. Everything about these guys is a cat’s cradle of crime and deception.

      • SteveR says:

        The payments from Trump to Cohen were made in 2017 and the whole story began to unravel quite fantastically early in 2018 (and I’m sure he’s never filed a tax return before October). I doubt even Trump would have the chutzpah to file a 2017 tax return in October, 2018 maintaining the lie. The internal 2017 books probably reveal a “plan” to treat it as a deductible expense, but boy, he’s an absolute fidiot if his tax returns do. OK, I changed my mind, they probably do.

  63. fpo says:

    re Willis Warren at 11:54 am

    Seriously. Does anyone think for a minute that at the same time Putin was ‘counseling’ Trump he (Putin) hadn’t already come to an understanding/strategy/agreement with Kim – and likely Xi. Scary, indeed.

    Add one more irresponsible missed opportunity on the Warmbier/human rights issues, for good measure. It’s time to give the whole unilateral, ‘transactional’ approach to diplomacy a rest, particularly when it comes to nukes. We’re getting out-played, for all to see.

    • Willis Warren says:

      Even if he weren’t compromised by Putin, he’s simply too stupid to be president. He doesn’t understand any major theory of foreign policy and has a bias towards strongarmed dictators, no matter how crazy. Putin is bad enough without the pure testosterone he’s getting from making this doofus crawl.

    • William Bennett says:

      already come to an understanding/strategy/agreement with Kim – and likely Xi. Scary, indeed.

      I don’t know if this is any comfort, but if he did come to such an understanding—or delude them into thinking he had—his lifelong pattern doesn’t really include sticking to it the next time some contradictory impulse strays into his field of view.

  64. BobCon says:

    Good piece in today’s NY Times, but it’s not a good headline, presumably written by an editor:

    Did Cohen Give a Peek at the Mueller Report?
    By Marcy Wheeler

    The piece makes clear that the story isn’t that Cohen revealed a special insight into Mueller’s work. The story is that what Cohen said illustrates just how much Mueller has been keeping hidden.

    I think the idea is slowly percolating into the open consciousness of some reporters that Mueller is revealing his story in his official filings and in arguments made in court. But it’s still pretty much buried in their brains that there is a lot out there that has yet to be manifested.

  65. Tom says:

    Perhaps someone else has already mentioned this and it may very well be an insignificant matter, but I wonder if it would have been worthwhile if Michael Cohen had been asked yesterday about his relationship with Sean Hannity. We learned last April after Cohen’s office was raided that Hannity was one of his very few clients. I recall that even some of Hannity’s colleagues at Fox News expressed surprise that he hadn’t mentioned this fact despite having reported on Cohen for months beforehand. Hannity explained at the time that he had only consulted with Cohen about a few real estate matters and the matter then dropped. I can imagine that if anyone had asked Cohen yesterday about Sean Hannity, he might have claimed attorney/client privilege or said he had nothing more to add to what Hannity had said last April. I may just be scandal mongering, but given all that’s happened since last year and given Hannity’s close and supportive relationship with Donald Trump, I can’t help but wish the topic had been raised with Michael Cohen yesterday. Might he have replied that it was a topic he had been asked not to discuss …?

  66. Jockobadger says:

    Just finished reading the editorial that Bobcon references above. Great work, MW! For the life of me I can’t figure out why our msm reportage is so frustratingly shallow. I understand that its been difficult because the SCO has been virtually leak-proof, but as Marcy has demonstrated so often, the dots are there.

    I thank Dog that Marcy and EW (and Rayne and bmaz) are out there working on our behalf. First thing I do when I get to my office is open up Emptywheel for my daily dose of cogent, concise reporting on all things trump. May our national nightmare soon be over.

    • LeeNLP says:

      I read EW at the start of the day, the end of the day, in-between and just before bed. Sometimes during my midnight snack. That’s why my job and marriage are falling apart.

      Just kidding about the job and marriage. I do spend way too much time here, however. My nails are down to the quick and getting infected. :)

      My deepest thanks to Marcy and crew.

      • Jockobadger says:

        I have the same routine, LeeNLP. Not married so that’s not a problem! My job allows me to do just about whatever I want as long as my reports, etc., get done. Very fortunate that way. Like you, I check the site throughout the day, just waiting for new stuff from MW, Rayne and the beloved bmaz to drop.

  67. JamesJoyce says:


    Was “hush money” funneled or laundered thought a tax exempt corporation?

    Commingled funds?

    If so…

    Nice private benefit Donald!

    Your President…

  68. Charlie says:

    On BBC Radio 4 news this evening, David Remnick of The New Yorker magazine used EW’s line by stating that Mueller is setting everything out in “speaking indictments”, without, of course, acknowledging the source as EW.

    Not heard from Trip in a while… Just wondering…

      • BobCon says:

        I missed that somehow. I’m sure he is enjoying the Netanyahu indictment news. I certainly hope it throws sand in the gears of anyone lobbying to cover up links between Netanyahu and Kushner’s scheme with MBS.

        • Eureka says:

          Tons of news events like that remind me of Trip. Periodically makes me want to internet-yell ~~ TRIP !!!!!!!!!!!??????

      • Ollie says:

        Trip has contributed a LOT to healthy and stimulating discussions here. I sincerely pray he wasn’t driven away by a “pile up”. Sometimes I get a stomach ache over some energies here. I hope he comes back.

        Perhaps? Since our emails are on file if someone from EW can reach out? Are we a community or are we not?

        • bmaz says:

          Trip was absolutely NOT “piled on”. That is total crap by the regular irritant Rusharuse. And, no we do NOT contact people just because we may know their emails.

        • Ollie says:

          Alright thanks bmaz. Trip seems so good natured and I appreciate his contributions in discussions. I hope he comes back too.

      • Cathy says:

        If that is the case, the withdrawal was graceful and left an open path for future re-engagement. High hopes.

      • bmaz says:

        Dear “Rusharuse”, this is a load of fucking shit. Trip did NOT get “piled on” by anybody. He had a long interaction with Rayne as to Amazon, and I asked to Trip stop posting “test” comments in some misguided attempt to be overly concerned about the stupid reply button. If you, Rusharuse, thinks that is “piling on” you are an idiot. You are getting to be a real irritant pain in the ass. And you are completely full of shit on this subject.

        If Trip left, he or she did so voluntarily and not from any “piling on” or other urging by us. Frankly, I hope he or she is well and rejoins the discussion here soon. I am getting sick of your carping crap though.

        • Tom says:

          Not that it matters, but over time I had the impression that Trip was a female. This is the first blog I’ve ever participated in and it really makes you realize how much of human communication is non-verbal. All we see is words on a screen–no voice tone or volume level, no facial expressions, no body language, no physical context. Sorry for making such an obvious point.

        • Cathy says:

          To me everyone is some variation of Pat.

          Except bmaz. Bmaz, of course, is a saguaro cactus.

        • Tom says:

          I also think that EVERYONE is on the Autism Spectrum Disorder scale to some degree. My wife certainly thinks I have a touch of it.

        • bmaz says:

          No, that is a more than fair thought. A lot of people here you can discern, but often not. Ask Punaise!

        • punaise says:

          heh, I missed the alleged kerfuffle in question as well as this one in real time. I do recall some interesting contributions from Trip, although I can’t say I ever pondered his/her gender. And frankly, I wouldn’t blame anyone for taking a time-out after getting briskly scorched here. (whether or not that was the case for Trip).

          bmaz is referring to my unintentional gender ambiguity to some here (even Marcy, I mean wtf dating back to FDL, LOL) perhaps due to the fact that “punaise” (thumbtack or bedbug in French) is a feminine noun. And behind the curtain access to my email address won’t help much either, as my first name (or a variation thereupon) is more common for females. (Hey thanks Mom and Dad!) But I’s a he… as Valley Girl can attest! (wait, that’s not how I meant it… :~)

        • Eureka says:

          in further footnotes, I had once automatically typed “Brava!” to one of your lyrical or other feats (because of the punaise). But of course microseconds too late, realized ~Oh that’s making an assumption, shouldn’t have done that. This of course was prior to the whole unintentional ambiguity convo to which you refer (and hopefully didn’t contribute to it in any way).
          Mention of VG reminds me of her telling the story behind her name. The story behind mine: ‘eureka’ just means ~ ‘I found/I find,’ so it seemed like a good nom de commenter (especially as it’s a polite way of saying ~ Duh-to-self, which I often find myself doing). But then I found that using it like a proper name accidentally evokes a mythical Greek goddess. I’m ok with that (I am a she, not a real goddess, though).

  69. x174 says:

    just wanted to congratulate you on your nytimes article published online today. my favorite line in it was “But it is one indication that even Mr. Mueller’s often expansive charging documents are most interesting for their silences.”

    what I think is so extraordinary about this whole never-ending series of trump et al. investigations is how much we still don’t know– and this after two years of wide-ranging federal, state, international and multinational security and intelligence related investigations.

    Seriously, how credible is it that we still not seen his tax statements, loan agreements, and documents related to his international business transactions? Any marginally sane vetting process would have uncovered and exposed most of this information before he became nominated as a republican candidate and/or inaugurated as POTUS.

    What are the forces that have been keeping this information hidden? The sheer chasm of ignorance after nearly two years of vigorous investigation speaks libraries.

    • P J Evans says:

      There’s no law – yet! – requiring that candidates provide financial information, and his personal returns wouldn’t have shown us this stuff. (I doubt that his business returns would be any more informative: he has LLCs and stuff like that to hide the details.)
      Also, those are NOT the focus of the investigations. The DC and SDNY attorneys are looking at the inauguration stuff, but likely we won’t find out everything.

    • Ollie says:

      That wasn’t much: she, Marcy, basically mostly just sat there and watched clips like we did. I tweeted DN I was sorely disappointed in a lost opportunity to pick MW brain, lol.

  70. Michael says:

    “The son of a holocaust survivor should have know better, period.”

    Whoa! DJ tRump’s father was no Holocaust survivor, nor was his grandfather.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      The statement was self-criticism by Michael Cohen, who said it at his congressional testimony.

      By contrast, Trump and his forebears in Germany ran away from the draft. As Seth Meyers put it, referring to Trump’s five Vietnam era draft deferments, “Ironic how Trump finally went to Vietnam and he’s getting killed back home.”

      • e.a.f. says:

        There is one thing about this whole Trump mess that has gone well, the work for comedians. Its about the only thing which helps keep it all in perspective.

        Great writing on these topics. Thank you for the work you do.

  71. Ollie says:

    So. Okay. Reality check: Amazon is taking pre orders on the MUELLER INVESTIGATION book that is due out on March 26, 2019 W/ a foreword from Alan Dershowitz. WTF is going on? This isn’t THE Mueller Report………2) do they know something we don’t?

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