The headliners from Drudge:
Longtime Trump Org CFO granted immunity...
'Narrow in scope'...
Manhattan D.A. Eyes Criminal Charges...
Prosecutors inch closer to Trump...
Loyalty Tested as Closest Confidants Become Witnesses...
'We don't know quarter of what's in pocket of Mueller'...
RUDY TAKES SHOT AT PRESIDENT FOR 'FLIPPING' COMMENTS...
DRAMA: George Conway tweets again...
BUCHANAN: We are headed for hellish year...
DAN RATHER: STAY TUNED...
Kavanaugh argued the president can be impeached for lies, cover-ups and refusing to testify...
Dems' midterm strategy: Stop talking about Trump...
Can we stop pretending this ever had anything to do with Russia yet? Hoo Boy: Top Trump Org Finance Exec, Allen Weisselberg, Granted Immunity By Feds In Cohen Probe
Ken White at WaPo: Witnesses ‘flipping’ does corrupt justice. But not because they’re ‘rats.’
America’s criminal justice system routinely coerces defendants to cooperate and incentivizes them to lie to please prosecutors. But most victims aren’t presidential confidants accused of bank fraud. The vast majority of people who confront the choice between cooperation and a longer sentence are poor and uneducated. When it comes to jailing our fellow Americans, we have champagne tastes, but when it comes to defending them, a store-brand-soda budget. Public defenders and other indigent defense attorneys are notoriously, consistently and outrageously underfunded . Pleading guilty and implicating a co-defendant can be the only practical choice when your lawyer lacks the time and resources to mount an effective defense. In fact, flipping on your cohorts can be the only way to avoid the de facto punishment of pretrial detention: In many jurisdictions, defendants plead guilty and cooperate because they cannot afford bail , and they would otherwise languish in jail awaiting trial for many months or even years, whether or not they have a defense.Neo Neo remembers the Stevens prosecution: On the Cohen plea
. . .
The criminal justice system, from petty drug cases to sophisticated grand jury investigations by specially appointed former FBI directors, runs on flipping defendants. If we want fairness for both the cooperating defendants and the people they implicate — if we want faith in the results — we need serious reform. That means thinking about how poverty drives cooperation and digging into our pockets to fund the defense of people we want to jail. But it also means asking tough questions about how the system fails to police itself. There are no reliable methods in place to track repeat cooperators or to ensure that evidence undermining their credibility is turned over to the defense, and very few prosecutors face consequences for withholding information that impeaches their witnesses. A system that cared about reliable cooperator testimony would ensure both.
Fairness also demands that we examine the vast power we’ve given prosecutors, who through unreviewable and usually opaque charging decisions can have even more authority than judges over a defendant’s sentence. Federal prosecutors could flip Cohen because they had broad discretion to charge him with dozens of crimes or none; they alone decided how sweet a deal to offer and how ugly the alternative was. The federal sentencing guidelines contribute to that phenomenon and to prosecutorial power. Few Americans realize that it made little difference that Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, was convicted on only eight of the 18 counts against him: Under the strange alchemy of sentencing guidelines, his recommended sentence may not be significantly lower than it would have been if he were found guilty on all 18. And by deciding what information to provide to the court and the probation office that drafts the pre-sentence report, prosecutors can further guide the sentencing outcome, further increasing their power to coerce pleas and cooperation.
What I’ve never seen is this sort of general technique used by partisans of one party to get the president of the United States, although I’ve seen something like it on a lower level; Ted Stevens comes to mind. In Stevens’ case, the name of the Michael Cohen figure was Bill Allen, who (unlike Cohen) at least was not Stevens’ lawyer. A little tiny memory refresher here [emphasis mine]:And just for reference, one of Mueller's current team of prosecutors, Andrew Weissman was one of the prosecutors on the Steven's prosecution that was censured. And it's not his only time. Manafort Prosecutor Has a History of Bullying, Withholding Information, Critics Say
On July 29, 2008, Stevens was indicted by a federal grand jury on seven counts of failing to properly report gifts, a felony, and found guilty at trial three months later (October 27, 2008). The charges relate to renovations to his home and alleged gifts from VECO Corporation, claimed to be worth more than $250,000. The indictment followed a lengthy investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for possible corruption by Alaskan politicians and was based in part on Stevens’s extensive relationship with Bill Allen. Allen owned racehorses, including a partnership in the stud horse So Long Birdie, which included Stevens and eight others, and which was managed by Bob Persons. The FBI not only had calls between Allen and Stevens, made after Allen became a cooperating witness, but they had thousands of wiretapped conversations involving the phones of both Allen and VECO Vice President Rick Smith. They had also videotaped meetings between Allen and state legislators at VECO’s hotel suite in Juneau, the state capitol. Allen had testified in court that he bribed Ted’s son Ben, the former Alaska Senate president. A former VECO employee said he did campaign fundraising work for Stevens while on VECO’s payroll, a violation of federal law. Allen , then an oil service company executive, had earlier pleaded guilty—with sentencing suspended pending his cooperation in gathering evidence and giving testimony in other trials—to bribing several Alaskan state legislators. Stevens declared, “I’m innocent,” and pleaded not guilty to the charges in a federal district court on July 31, 2008. Stevens asserted his right to a speedy trial so that he could have the opportunity to clear his name promptly and requested that the trial be held before the 2008 election.Stevens was found guilty, and just about everyone in both parties pressured him to resign from the Senate. That was the true goal of the prosecution, I believe—not to necessarily put him in prison, but to create a climate that would ruin him politically. But he lost his election instead.
What happened next was the discovery (initially through a whistleblower) of an enormous degree of prosecutorial misconduct, including the following:
the discovery of a previously undocumented interview with Bill Allen, the prosecution’s star witness, that raised the possibility prosecutors had knowingly allowed Allen to perjure himself on the stand. Allen stated that the fair market value of the repairs to Stevens’s house was around $80,000—far less than the $250,000 he said it cost at trial. More seriously, Allen said in the interview that he didn’t recall talking to Bob Persons, a friend of Stevens, regarding the repair bill for Stevens’s house. This directly contradicted Allen’s testimony at trial, in which he claimed Stevens asked him to give Persons a note Stevens sent him asking for a bill on the repair work. At trial, Allen said Persons had told him the note shouldn’t be taken seriously because “Ted’s just covering his ass.” Even without the notes, Stevens’s attorneys claimed that they thought Allen was lying about the conversation…I’ve gone into so much detail about the Stevens case because although it’s not a perfect analogy, it’s relevant, and it should anger every single person who reads about it, no matter what political side that person might be on. The goal with Stevens was to force him to lose his election, resign, or face expulsion from the Senate. The goal with Trump is to get him impeached and even convicted, if possible. I happen to think the first option is very possible if the Democrats win the House, but I doubt conviction would occur in the Senate unless a great many GOP moderates went along, and I don’t quite see that happening.
Stevens’s attorney, Brendan Sullivan, said that Holder’s decision was forced by “extraordinary evidence of government corruption.” He also claimed that prosecutors not only withheld evidence but “created false testimony that they gave us and actually presented false testimony in the courtroom”—two incidents that would have made it very likely that the convictions would have been overturned on appeal.
On April 7, 2009, federal judge Sullivan formally accepted Holder’s motion to set aside the verdict and throw out the indictment, declaring “There was never a judgment of conviction in this case. The jury’s verdict is being set aside and has no legal effect,” and calling it the worst case of prosecutorial misconduct he’d ever seen.
Disgusting. But these revelations came too late for Stevens, who had been narrowly defeated in his re-election bid. So the forces desirous of bringing Stevens down were fully successful, even though their duplicity was later discovered. The full report didn’t come out till 2012, two years after Stevens’ death in an airplane accident. But at least he lived to see some vindication.
“He is very good at stretching the law to encompass conduct that is not criminal,” said Sidney Powell, an attorney who represented former Merrill Lynch executive James Brown.Mueller Is Already Taking Measures to Muzzle Manafort, Matt Naham, Law and Crime:
Special counsel Robert Mueller is taking measures to prevent convicted felon Paul Manafort from claiming he is being “selectively prosecuted” in his upcoming Washington, D.C. trial.Crime and Punishment, by Roger Kimball, American Greatness
NPR’s Carrie Johnson reports that Mueller has petitioned the D.C. judge Amy Berman Jackson to prevent Manafort from making this argument, claiming that Manafort’s defense team “repeatedly” ignored Judge T.S. Ellis III’s order during the Virginia trial.
The crime at the center of this deep-state initiative is the election of Donald Trump. The tort? He was elected without the permission of the ruling class, its jesters and its scribes and moralists. Pete Wehner does not approve of Donald Trump. Bill Kristol thinks he is infra-dig. Psychiatrists are still trying to figure out what Mad Max Boot and Jabbering John Brennan think.
But this, Ladies and Gentlemen (and unlike the MTA and the London Tube, we still use the phrase “Ladies and Gentlemen” here), this is the crime: Donald Trump was elected. That’s it. That’s the crime. It’s not in the statute books, but a little thing like that never stopped a diligent bureaucrat, especially one armed with a phalanx of partisan prosecutors and an unlimited budget.
A nonpartisan friend (he did not vote for Trump or Hillary) wrote me with another bit of practical advice for the president. Reflecting on the vindictive, death-by-a-thousand-cuts procedure of Robert Mueller, he noted that the president could “avoid this form of slow water torture by simply pardoning Manafort and anyone else who has gotten in Mueller’s sights. I can,” he said, “right now write the presidential statement”:Unbiased Chuck Todd: A "Functional Washington" Would Be Looking For Ways To Draw Up Articles of Impeachment Papers On Trump and unbiased Conrad Black: Trump Has Already Won on Impeachment
I am now pardoning Paul Manafort and everyone else who has come within the gun sights of the special counsel. These individuals have fallen into jeopardy entirely because of their association with me, my campaign, my business, my family, and so forth. None of them would be in such trouble but for the fact that they are seen by Mr. Mueller as stepping stones in his quest to get me.Neither Don Lemon nor Rachel Maddow nor their many confrères in the media would like this. Indeed, it would drive them, if possible, to further frenzies. But, hey, in for a penny, in for a pound. If, as I say, Donald Trump’s crime was simply being elected, such a forthright expedient might be just the ticket.
Rather than wait until the end of the process, I have decided to pardon everyone now, because the enormous distraction caused by the Mueller investigations threatens to distract the nation from attending to crucial business in a very dangerous world. This is a fight between Mr. Mueller and me, not between Mr. Manafort, nor anyone else, and Mr. Mueller. I signed the pardon papers this morning.
Having now pardoned all of Mr. Mueller’s targets, I invite him to file a report with the House of Representatives, recommending my impeachment. The House, and, if articles of impeachment are voted by the House, then the Senate sitting as my jury, are the proper arena for this battle.
This is a political, not a legal battle. I am prepared to wage that political battle within the House and the Senate in an impeachment context, and before the American people in the next presidential election, in which, I hereby announce, I intend to run for a second term. Let the American people have their say.
Andrew Ferguson, Weekly Standard: We Can’t Wait for Michael Cohen’s Inevitable Memoir. I beg to differ. From Reality TV to Reality Politics: What Cohen, Omarosa, and Avenatti know that Democrats don't. That there's no such thing as bad publicity? Omarosa: I’m ready to testify at Trump impeachment trial. Anything to stretch her 15 minutes.
But seriously: Cohen Guilty Plea Shows Campaign Finance Law Issues
It should be simple: people, businesses, organizations, and unions can donate to whatever candidate they want. No donation limits. Candidates can spend said money however they want but an itemized list needs to be provided to the FEC and made public.Anything a candidate does he (or she) intends to influence an election. Say for example, putting her email server in her bathroom, and using it to illegally transfer classified material. Victory Girls: James Comey Lied: Majority Of Hillary Clinton Emails On Weiner Laptop Were Never Examined:
. . .
Former FEC Commissioner Bradley A. Smith suggested at Reason.com the confuzzling system really caught Cohen and Trump in a Catch-22.
In the Cohen case, the prosecutors hung their hat on FECA’s definition of “contributions” and “expenditures” as anything spent or contributed “for the purpose of influencing any election.” That’s a pretty broad definition, and certainly it may have been thought that paying hush money to Trump’s old memories would “influence an election.” Thus, they argue, payment of the hush money was subject to limits on the size of contributions used to pay, could not include corporate funds, and had to be reported to the FEC.Smith thinks Cohen would have been nabbed by investigators either way because of the way the system is set up. He’s not defending the hush money payments – just pointing out how easy it is for regulators to find violations.
But there is another provision in the statute that prohibits a candidate from diverting campaign funds to “personal use.” “Personal use,” in turn, is defined as any expenditure “used to fulfill any commitment, obligation, or expense of a person that would exist irrespective of the candidate’s election campaign.” These may not be paid with campaign funds, even if they are intended to influence the election…
The upshot is that TV ads, polling, hiring a campaign accountant to comply with federal laws, and renting office space are all examples of expenses that exist only because the person is running for office—they are campaign expenses. But if Trump or some other candidate were to tell his personal lawyers, “I want all the lawsuits against me settled. I think they’re a bunch of B.S., but they’re hurting my candidacy,” the settlements would not be “campaign expenses,” even though the payments were made to “influence an election.”
Lie Number One: Comey claimed in his book as well as during interviews that he never heard about the emails until early October. He also claimed at the same time that he never realized that Huma was a close personal confidante of Hillary Clinton’s.
Meanwhile was action taken regarding these emails given the issues and the Hillary Clinton email investigation titled “Mid-Year Exam?” Nope. In fact Strzok sat on them for another 26 days.
It took several FBI agents blowing the whistle on the inaction to get the investigation going. However, there were still others who insisted anything in the emails was all a giant nothing burger.
Lie Number Two: Comey actually stated that new technology allowed them to comb through all the new emails and text messages to accurately compare the new trove with all other emails that Hillary so ‘helpfully’ provided in earlier days of the investigation. In fact, the system used had a major technical glitch that didn’t allow them to compare the two. Of the 694,000 emails uncovered; only 3,077 were reviewed. Yes folks, you read those numbers correctly.
Lie Number Three: Comey testified that no new sensitive information had been found. Except for the fact that out of the emails reviewed, MORE classified info was found that included emails about extremely sensitive material concerning Israel and the terrorist group Hamas. Hillary Clinton was NEVER asked about the new information uncovered. NEVER.
Not only that, but the new information was never analyzed for damage to national security. NOR was it referred to the other U.S. intelligence agencies to determine what if any aspects of our national security had been compromised. Which is something that they should’ve done because it is a FEDERAL MANDATE to do so. In fact it’s an actual policy that must be adhered to.
Lie Number Four and Five: Material recovered was NOT duplicate material but brand new information, that was classified. A call sheet regarding a discussion with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ran four pages. A classified ‘readout’ of a call with a UAE prime minister ultimately ended up housed on Weiner’s laptop under the subheading titled “Anthony Campaign.” Contrary to Comey’s testimony on May 2017, these emails had not been seen before.
Lie Number Six: Comey has maintained that the FBI left no stone unturned. And perhaps for the agents in the field that is true. As for Peter Strzok and James Comey, they left a significant number of stones untouched in their investigation. Why? Hillary Clinton.
Exit Question per the Real Clear Investigations report: Where is the Weiner laptop and what did the FBI do with the data from it?