This Is The End

This was the beginning of the end for the Nixon administration. One guy, Alexander Butterfield, decided to tell the truth that Nixon taped all of his Oval Office meetings. A year later Nixon resigned.

We are at that some point with the Trump administration. Though recent reports that Cohen could become a cooperative witness, does raise the possibility that Cohen could become the John Dean of this generation.

The reason is that reports coming out of Cohen investigation indicate three things.

1. Cohen lied about this trip to Prague
2. Cohen kept extensive notes of his conversations with Trump including tapes of phone conversations.
3. The investigation has been going on for months. Emails, phone conversations, maybe even meetings were all captured.

In order to answer the WHY this might be the beginning of the end, we have to back up a little bit.

The Trump organization isn’t really all that it is cracked up to be. It was a small organization run mostly by his two children and Michael Cohen. If President Trump has shown anything, it is that he is not a good manager. He let his kids do it under the watchful eye of his most loyal employee, Cohen.

If you take a look at the sorts of deals that they were cutting, it was with shady characters that couldn’t find more reputable partners. Those who have taken a look at those deals also suggest that the Trump organization sold their brand for far less than they could have received for giving legitimacy to developers that had none.

Here are a few examples.

In Azerbaijan, Trump was part of a hotel project that may have been a money laundering front for oligarchs tied to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard. In the Republic of Georgia, Trump partnered with the group that is being investigated for the largest known bank-fraud/money-laundering case in history. In Indonesia, his development partner is up to his knees in dirty politics. His deals in Brazil are being investigated. The FBI is looking into his daughter’s role getting a Malaysian family who have already admitted to financial fraud to provide financial backing for a Vancouver Trump Hotel. The investigation into DTjr and Ivanka’s SoHo Trump Hotel was halted with no notice. His Taj Mahal Atlanta Casino was fined a record amount for money laundering.

As Adam Davidson pointed out in his New Yorker article.

It was not a company that built value over decades, accumulating assets and leveraging wealth. It burned through whatever good will and brand value it established as quickly as possible, then moved on to the next scheme.

The reason why we are near the end is that each of these shady business deals has its own set of risks and questions. But the questions boil down to the same set. How much did Trump and his kids know about the criminal backgrounds of their partners? Did that criminality have any effect on the price they were charging for the Trump “endorsement”? Cohen is the person who knows the answers. Those answers will determine who else besides Cohen goes to jail and for how long.

Some of the other things that the FBI are investigating include a business loan where Cohen used his three taxi companies as collateral. The license to operate a taxi in NY used to be a lucrative business. Cohen’s licenses at one time were worth over $1M. Their value has plummeted because of ride hailing services like Uber and Lyft. Cohen’s licenses may now only be worth $300,000. So there is interest in what he claimed they were worth when he took out the loan and what he used the loan money for.

They are also concerns about money laundering and campaign-finance violations.

The bottom line is that the authorized search had such a high bar for approval, that most informed observers believe that the NY prosecutor may already have had sufficient evidence to convict at least Cohen. There is also speculation that at least some of the justification for seizing the evidence is that FBI surveillance picked up discussion that the evidence was going to be destroyed.

As I’ve said before, I don’t think that Trump will be indicted on a charge of collusion. First of all, it’s just hard to prove. Second, it is just doesn’t fit with the Trump organization culture. A complex plan with a long-term uncertain payoff. Many reports suggest that Trump wasn’t convinced himself that he could win the election. Why would he ask Russians for help unless there was something else in it for him? The fact that the FBI now says that Cohen DID go to Prague supports a key element of the Steele Dossier. It also indicates that there was a deal in the works, or else Cohen would not have been involved.

That’s what we are going to find out.

With all this as background, it is easy to see why Trump said Mueller would be crossing a red line if he started investigating Trump’s businesses. Mueller not only crossed that line. He obliterated it. Even worse, he turned the business investigation over to the NY federal prosecutor. So even if Trump manages to fire Mueller and Congress does nothing in response, this investigation will continue. Even if Trump manages to dissolve Mueller’s Grand Jury, this investigation will continue. Even if Trump pardon’s Cohen, the information that the Feds already have on Cohen can likely become the basis for charges against Trump’s kids.

It may take a long time for all of this information to become public. We give the President a lot of executive power. If he chooses to use it, and Congress doesn’t hold him accountable, he can fight a very effective rear guard action. Eventually, however, all of this information will come out and Trump will finally be revealed for who he really is – a cheat, a liar, and a thief.

47 Responses to “This Is The End”

  1. Jeff Beamsley says:

    BTW, the spectacle of Sean Hannity slithering around the fact that he misrepresented his relationship with Trump’s attorney was pleasant to watch. He is yet again trying sell some grand conspiracy theory to his viewers. But the only conspiracy is that Hannity is anything other than an apparatchik for the Trump propaganda machine. During the campaign, when he admitted that the was an adviser to the Trump campaign, he denied that there was any ethical conflict with his on-air work at Fox because he was an entertainer and not a journalist. Now it appears that even that thin veneer of character has disappeared.

    Cohen’s lawyer wanted the judge to review the evidence seized by the FBI before it was made available to the Feds. Part of the claim was the Cohen really WAS acting as a lawyer and had other clients besides Trump. Some of the information acquired during the search could pertain to those other clients and should be withheld. We already knew about one of the clients – the Republican fund raiser who used Cohen to pay off his mistress for agreeing to have an abortion. The other client was Sean Hannity.

    So now Hannity is faced with a choice. Either he owns up to the fact that he had a terrible case of conflict of interest in his defense of Cohen, or he throws Cohen under the bus and says he never did business with the guy.

    The class act that Hannity is, he chose the path that served his interests best. He threw Cohen under the bus. In the process, he supports the very case that he was arguing against. Cohen was not acting as a attorney in his relationship with Trump because he had no other clients and much of what he did was operational in nature rather than legal advise.

    Any other “news” organization would have told Hannity to sit down until this whole thing is sorted out. But Fox isn’t any other news organization. Hannity will be on the air again this evening at his normal 9PM slot. It’s the best place for him because they clearly deserve each other.

    PS – I would also be nice to find out just exactly what was the relationship between Hannity and Cohen. If Cohen was doing work for him, how was Cohen being compensated? Given the people involved, it is certainly possible that Trump was paying Cohen to provide services for Hannity in return for Hannity continuing to promote Trump and his agenda. If Cohen was providing services for Cohen as a FAVOR to Trump, what other people were receiving the same “favors”? If Cohen wasn’t doing work for Hannity, why did Cohen’s lawyer say that he was?

  2. Jeff Beamsley says:

    The Atlantic claims that Hannity has used two other lawyers who have also done work for Trump. Not surprisingly those lawyers were also frequent guests on Hannity’s show, one just a couple of days ago.

    Remember your pall Dershowitz? He called out Hannity on his own show for not disclosing his relationship with Cohen.

    On his show, Hannity railed against the Cohen raid but failed to disclose his connection to the attorney, seen by many as a journalistic conflict of interest.

    Retired Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz, a frequent guest on Hannity’s show, called him out Monday on Fox’s airwaves. Dershowtiz said to Hannity, “you really should have disclosed your relationship with Cohen.”

    “It was minimal,” Hannity replied.

    Dershowitz replied, “and you should’ve said that.”

    “I have the right to privacy,” Hannity said. “It was such a minor relationship.”

    Finally

    The Wash Post reports that he has such a close relationship with Trump and spends so much time with him at the White House that a Trump adviser said “he basically has a desk here”.

    Perhaps those who watch Hannity don’t care that he has such obvious conflicts of interest.

    But in the larger scope of things, this points out the problems with unethical journalism. When pushed about his conflicts of interest, he claims to be an entertainer, or he claims that he has a right to privacy. The real question is whether or not the opinions that he expresses are driven by his own analysis of the situation OR are driven (or at least coordinated) with the Trump administration. If he is coordinating his broadcast position with the Trump administration, that is another example of authoritarianism. Undermining the democratic institutions of a free press. By a free press, that doesn’t only mean that the press can say whatever it wants. It also means that the press is free from external influences which would otherwise color the news that they report. Ethical sources of news disclose when they may have a potential conflict of interest. Whenever NPR here in Michigan runs a story on Embridge, they include the information that Embridge is a contributor to NPR. You don’t hear anything like that from either Fox or Hannity.

    What will ultimately happen is that the truth of his relationship with Trump will come out. Then the public will decide whether to continue to support a guy (Hannity) who is basically a liar.

  3. Jeff Beamsley says:

    Cracks in the Republican foundation are starting to show.

    https://www.politico.com/story/2018/04/17/mueller-protection-bill-supporters-528390

    Bills in the House and the Senate to protect Mueller are starting to gain support. In the House, that support is coming from a combination of House Republicans who are retiring and moderate House Republicans who are concerned about being too close to Trump in the fall.

    Both McConnell and Ryan are saying that these bills are not necessary. They also both understand that the Republican November strategy is to double down on support of Trump. So any movement away from that position has to be nipped in the bud before it blossoms into a full scale revolt.

  4. Jason Coletti says:

    The idea that Trump didn’t collude because he didn’t plan on or foresee winning is silly. The Trump campaign team, sanctioned by the Donald himself, colluded with certain Russians in order to secure the victory they knew was a long shot otherwise.

    Russian agents told the Trump team they would distribute hacked DNC and Clinton emails in exchange for Trump dropping sanctions when he became POTUS. The Trump team agreed and Russian intelligence agents used wiki-leaks to distribute all the hacked materials. This was a clear quid pro quo, and this is where the collusion comes from.

  5. Jeff Beamsley says:

    Jason, I agree that this is plausible scenario.

    The problem with it is that it assumes that Trump wanted to be President AND felt that this would help him win. At the time that he made this deal, Clinton had a big lead.

    My sense, and that’s all it is, is that there was something else in the deal for Trump. That way he could hedge his bet on election, get in deeper with the Russians, and feel as though he had put one over on the Russians who may have assumed that he did want to win.

    Again my sense is that Trump was running because he felt it increased the value of his brand. He was perfectly content to lose because the campaign process would have given him an audience. If you recall, he was reluctant to spend a lot of his own money. Instead, he was talking with Roger Ailes about launching the Trump network after he lost. He was looking forward to four years of making big money telling the world how terrible Clinton was. It was the perfect gig for him because he could sell all his viewers all sorts of Trump branded stuff without having to actually do anything. There are reports of Melania weeping after Trump won. They weren’t tears of joy.

    That’s why I think Cohen went to Prague and why both Cohen and Trump have insisted that it never happened. That’s why I also think that it wasn’t just a tape. Trump may have been afraid of what his wife would do, but that didn’t stop him from his fling with Stormy Daniels. I think that there was money changing hands somewhere for something that was important to Trump. If that turns out to be true, it is more than collusion. It is treason.

    But here’s the rest of the story. We don’t need collusion to get Trump out of office. Obstruction of justice is far more powerful tool with a long history of use as far as impeachment goes. The problem is that there is no way the Democrats are going to get 60 seats in the Senate. So even with a Democratic majority in the House, it’s going to have to be a REALLY strong case to get enough Republicans to vote against Trump. That’s the other reason why collusion isn’t going to work. Trump at some point is going to have fire Mueller, Rosenstien, and Sessions AND we are going to need a solid case of bribery (see above) or big obstruction of justice coverup to give the 15 or so Republican Senators the cover they will need to vote him out.

    Better scenario is for the Dems to gain control of the House and Senate and prevent Trump from doing anything for the last two years of his administration and then just replace him.

  6. Keith says:

    No fan of Hannity. Never was never will be

    Blah blah blah blah. It’s tiresome Jeff.

    You use a lot of imagination and reading between the lines Jeff. You may be correct. You may not be. However, and to my ongoing point of your pursuit of “spiritual wickedness from a Christian perspective” you can spend post after post with Trump thearory bit you cant seem to be in any minute way the least bit curious about President Clinton’s plane happening to be on the tarmac next to attorney general Lynch’s plane and her recommending the use of the term “matter” instead of investigation…

    As you said so let the process play out. Let MR Mullar do his job the see what happens. So far NOTHING.

    Meanwhile

    Economy
    North Korea
    Terrorism

  7. Jeff Beamsley says:

    No fan of Hannity. Never was never will be

    Blah blah blah blah. It’s tiresome Jeff.

    Pleases me. 🙂

    You use a lot of imagination and reading between the lines Jeff. You may be correct. You may not be. However, and to my ongoing point of your pursuit of “spiritual wickedness from a Christian perspective” you can spend post after post with Trump thearory bit you cant seem to be in any minute way the least bit curious about President Clinton’s plane happening to be on the tarmac next to attorney general Lynch’s plane and her recommending the use of the term “matter” instead of investigation…

    I’ve responded several times to your suggestion that there was some sort of “deal” between Lynch and Clinton. Lynch denies it. Clinton denies. I agree that it looks bad.

    What happened?

    Lynch recused herself and said she would accept whatever the FBI recommends.

    Comey recommends no prosecution. Why isn’t that the end of the story? (This is the spot where you say that you don’t trust the FBI)

    As far as “matter”, Lynch and Comey don’t happen to be on the same page. Comey says it made him uneasy. Lynch said he didn’t seem bothered by the question at all. The “matter” meeting occurred in 2015. The Lynch and Clinton meeting occurred in 2016. Lynch’s reasons for requested the use of the word “matter” were not the result of a meeting she had with Bill.

    Later on Comey publicly announces that the investigation is being reopened in part because he was afraid that agents in the NY office would leak stuff to the press and cause more damage. He also didn’t want it to appear as if the FBI was holding anything back in order to help Clinton. It clearly DIDN’T help Clinton. So how can the Justice Department and Comey at one moment be in the pocket of the Clinton campaign and then at the next moment help torpedo her election?

    I’ll answer for you – THEY CAN’T.

    So the correct answer here is if there WAS any influence in the election by the FBI and Justice Department, that influence HURT Clinton rather than helped her. As a result, it is HIGHLY unlikely that Clinton and Lynch had a deal because Lynch DID NOT do anything post the meeting with Bill Clinton to help Hillary.

    As you said so let the process play out. Let MR Mullar do his job the see what happens. So far NOTHING.

    Here’s the NYT list of “nothing” so far.

    In the nine months since Robert S. Mueller III was appointed to oversee the investigation into possible links between the Trump campaign and Russian officials, he has issued more than 100 criminal counts against 19 people and three companies. Of the 19 people, five — including three Trump associates — have pleaded guilty. Thirteen are Russians accused of meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

    That doesn’t include the information that Mueller handed off to the NY Feds who got a warrant to search and seize information from Michael Cohen.

    Worse than that, 4 of the 19 have already pleaded guilty and are cooperating with the investigation. Clearly they didn’t plead guilty to “nothing”.

    As far as why this is overshadowing everything else that is happening in the country?

    IMHO IT SHOULD. We can’t conduct business as usual when the President, his campaign, and his administration are under a cloud of suspicion of not only collaborating with a proven attack by the Russians, but also of attempting to cover up the investigation into that attack.

    Did we decide to conduct “business as usual” after the 9/11 attack?

    Why should this attack be any different?

  8. Keith says:

    The inquire is into Trump/Russian Collusion. NOTHING!!! If there is I will condemn. However as Alan Dershowitz said “that’s still nothing.”

    Why did Ames Lynch callnot a “matter?”

    I wasn’t referring to anything OTHER then how did they happen to be on the same tarmac at the same time and have a chat? I do not believe, as you have allowed yourself to speculate about Trump, it was coincidence. So why were they there? Hummmmm

  9. Jeff Beamsley says:

    The inquire is into Trump/Russian Collusion. NOTHING!!!

    The inquiry is NOT just about collusion.

    Here’s what the original charter said.

    (b) The Special Counsel is authorized to conduct the investigation confinned by then-FBI
    Director James 8. Corney in testimony before the House Permanent Select Committee on
    Intelligence on March 20, 2017, including:
    (i) any links and/or coordination bet ween the Russian government and individuals
    associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump; and
    (ii) any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation; and
    (iii) any other matters within the scope of 28 C.F.R. § 600.4(a).
    (c) If the Special Counsel believes it is necessary and appropriate, the Special Counsel is
    authorized to prosecute federal crimes arising from the investigation of these matters.

    According to the Atlantic, here’s what that means.

    Crucially, the order written by Rosenstein establishing the special-counsel investigation is very broad. It states that the special counsel is “authorized to conduct the investigation” that includes “any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump” as well as “any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation.”

    That means that obstruction of justice is very much a part of this investigation as are campaign finance violations.

    Mueller is acting as the Department of Justice. He can bring charges for ANY violation of ANY law that he uncovers in his investigation.

    Just two quick question regarding your claim of “nothing”.

    1. Why did both Cohen and Trump claim that Cohen never made a trip to Prague during the election? Evidence shows that both of them lied.
    2. Why did Trump claim that he never spent a night in Moscow during the Miss American pageant? Evidence shows that he in fact spent two nights in Moscow.

    This is NOT “nothing”.

    However as Alan Dershowitz said “that’s still nothing.”

    Dershowitz has not said that Trump is innocent. He has said that Trump can’t be indicted for collusion under his interpretation of the constitution. Trump does not have to be indicted in order to be impeached. I believe that Trump will be impeached. I don’t believe that he will be convicted (not enough votes in Senate). I do believe he will be defeated in 2020 if he chooses to run again.

    I wasn’t referring to anything OTHER then how did they happen to be on the same tarmac at the same time and have a chat? I do not believe, as you have allowed yourself to speculate about Trump, it was coincidence. So why were they there?

    I understand that you are trying to draw some equivalence between the collusion case and this meeting between Clinton and Lynch.

    What you fail to accept is that it doesn’t matter. If there were any collusion, Clinton still lost, so it didn’t work.

    In the case of Trump, the Russians interfered in the election in an effort to help him get elected. Whether or not their help was effective doesn’t matter. What matters is that Trump denied any Russian involvement AND then fired Comey in an effort to stop the election. That’s why we have a special counsel. Trump brought this on himself and now will have to live with the consequences.

    So please stop repeating the Fox news line about Trump and collusion. Mueller should be allowed to finish his investigation in the same way that Comey finished his investigation of Clinton.

    If it turns out that Trump had nothing to do with anything, then I’m willing to accept it. But I strongly suspect that we would not have gotten this far down the road if there weren’t substance to the claim that there are a LOT of things Trump is going to be held accountable for.

    Mueller is smart and understands the political realities.

    We are going to get to enjoy a steady drip drip drip of information out of the investigation. We will watch the noose slowly tighten around Trump. The only real question is whether Trump will attempt to fire Mueller before the investigation concludes. If he does, that will hopefully be the end for Trump. We’ll see.

  10. Jeff Beamsley says:

    BTW, more evidence of the “something” to this investigation.

    Mueller’s team, during the conversations with Trump’s team about testifying, stated again that Trump is part of this investigation, but that he is not a criminal target at this time.

    Here’s what the Wash Post says about how to parse that statement

    This could be a significant moment, suggesting Mueller views criminal charges against Trump as being off-limits. And that would surely disappoint Trump’s critics. But if that is what Mueller is saying, it also means declaring that Trump isn’t a criminal target says basically nothing about the evidence at hand. It would mean Mueller could have the most damning information about collusion, obstruction of justice and anything else, and he would technically be telling Trump’s lawyers the truth when he says Trump isn’t a criminal target. It also wouldn’t foreclose impeachment.

    Notably, Leonnig and Costa also report that Mueller’s team has indicated it might roll out its findings in a series of reports. Mueller, if he sees what would otherwise constitute criminal activity involving Trump, could simply put this information into one or more of those reports and leave it to Congress to decide what to do. That may not be as edifying to Democrats as it could be — and Republicans could ostensibly block any effort to impeach Trump and remove him from office — but the point is that this doesn’t necessarily mean Mueller’s evidence is weak.

    “The ‘subject’ status may inform a special counsel report to Congress more than a prosecutorial decision,” said Jack Sharman, a former special counsel in the Whitewater investigation into Clinton, “especially since the weight of authority — although not unanimous authority — is that a sitting president may not be indicted. ”

    It’s also worth emphasizing in all of this that Mueller didn’t do this just because he wanted to. Targets of investigations generally should be informed that they are targets, according to Justice Department protocol. So this likely isn’t Mueller playing games by luring Trump into a false sense of security; it’s Mueller doing what he is supposed to do.

    Here are my takeaways from this analysis.

    1. Mueller’s statement has nothing to do with the strength of his evidence.
    2. Mueller DOES want Trump to testify. As a result, he is holding off on any deeper investigation into potential criminal charges against Trump BECAUSE he would be required to inform Trump that he now IS the target of a criminal investigation.
    3. It is possible that Mueller may feel that the law doesn’t support indicting a sitting President (Dershowitz argument). That doesn’t mean that the president is immune from prosecution or that he can’t be help accountable for breaking the law. All that means is that Mueller will ultimately turn all of his evidence over to the DOJ and Congress. They then will decide whether or not to start impeachment proceedings (fairly certain that will happen if the Dems gain control of the house).

    This last point is particularly interesting with regard to when the investigation will conclude. If Mueller believes that the President HAS broken the law AND can’t be indicted for that, this investigation may well go past the November elections in order for Mueller to be sure that there is at least a Democratic majority in House who will support the start of impeachment proceedings if that is justified by the results of the investigation.

    Yes this IS all speculation. I happen to find it way more interesting than rehashing why Clinton visited with Lynch. BTW, if you are interested in Loretta Lynch’s detailed explanation of what happened, here it is. And yes there were witnesses including her husband and the flight crew. And no there is no evidence that anything more was discussed other than Bill Clinton bending Loretta Lynch’s ear about family stuff.

    Most times, the simplest explanation is usually the most accurate.

    For example, the reason Comey didn’t charge Clinton is because he understood the legal standard for deliberately disclosing classified information and he knew that she didn’t meet that standard.

    The reason that that Mueller investigation has taken almost a year is because they are finding lots of stuff. Evidence to support that claim are all of the indictments that they have already produced. It is also reasonable that they will likely interview Trump last. That’s because they will want to have everyone else’s versions of what happened BEFORE they ask Trump about his version of what happened. Then they will make a reasonable determination of who is telling the truth and who is lying – just like Comey did.

    It is also reasonable to suggest that the current Republican congress would not pass a bill of impeachment unless it is something really bad that causes the whole country to rise up in arms. That means that Mueller’s investigation won’t go anywhere until he either has a blockbuster revelation OR Dems get control of the House.

    It is also reasonable to speculate that if Trump feels as though Mueller has the goods on him, he will try to fire him. Why not? What has he to lose? If Mueller, for example, does inform Trump’s attorney’s that Trump IS NOW the subject of a criminal investigation, I think Trump would move to fire him the next day.

    See speculation CAN be fun.

  11. Jeff Beamsley says:

    BTW BTW, the FBI investigation into Clinton’s emails took two months. One of the reasons that it only took two months was because it was obvious to Comey after his interview with Clinton, that there was no evidence of criminality (his words).

    The Mueller investigation has taken almost a year and they aren’t close to being done. They won’t be close to done until Trump agrees to talk to them. They have generated over 100 criminal charges and spun off at least one other investigation into Trump’s lawyer.

    This is WAY bigger than the Clinton email scandal and it is likely to delivery significantly MORE impact as a result.

  12. Keith says:

    I am only referring to your lack of intrigue when it comes to Democrats, I.e Clinton in the tarmac, and you nuanced detailed wondering what ifs when it comes to Trump. Please read nothing more into my comments then that.

  13. Jeff Beamsley says:

    I am only referring to your lack of intrigue when it comes to Democrats, I.e Clinton in the tarmac, and you nuanced detailed wondering what ifs when it comes to Trump. Please read nothing more into my comments then that.

    During the campaign, there were reasons to speculate on Clinton’s motives and actions.

    She lost.

    Bill can’t run again. Hillary won’t run again. They are both private citizens.

    It is MUCH more interesting to speculate on the future of our government where there is lots of spiritual wickedness in high places.

    If the Democrats were even close to the daily barrage of lies and misdeeds flowing out of the Trump administration, it would be interesting to talk about them too – but there isn’t. Democrats don’t have any power, so the only speculative area of interest is whether or not they will gain more power in the next election. I’ve written about that a lot.

  14. Jeff Beamsley says:

    BTW BTW, here’s a link to the questions that Mueller wants to ask Trump.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/30/us/politics/questions-mueller-wants-to-ask-trump-russia.html

    That “nothing burger” turns out to have some teeth. We not only have collusion, but also obstruction of justice with perhaps a little bit of conflict of interest thrown in for good measure. All this is driven by both public and private statements made by Trump himself.

    This particular question is perfect example.

    What did you know about Sally Yates’s meetings about Mr. Flynn?

    You gotta figure that Mueller already knows who told Trump about Sally Yates’ warning about Flynn. So now Trump is going to have to admit that he was lying about Flynn all along. What we don’t know is why, but perhaps Flynn has already told Mueller that. The “why” is going to provide some better context for Trump’s attempts to get Comey to drop the investigation. But Mueller is going to give Trump and opportunity to provide his own explanation. When those two explanations (Trump’s and Flynn’s) are shared with Congress and hopefully the public, the intent and motive to obstruct justice will be clear for everyone to see.

  15. Jeff Beamsley says:

    BTW BTW BTW Trump tweeted this today from an article in the Wash Post.

    In a later tweet Tuesday morning, Trump wrote that it “would seem very hard to obstruct justice for a crime that never happened!”

    This demonstrates Trump’s shallow understanding of the law. Obstruction of justice is, in an of itself, a crime. Whether or not the investigation of the original event ends up being a crime DOESN’T MATTER. It is a crime to impede an investigation regardless of the purpose of that investigation. One of the counts against Clinton was obstruction of justice. That stemmed from his attempts to alter Monica Lewinsky’s testimony in the Paula Jones sexual harassment case. The Paula Jones case was not a criminal trial. It was a civil trial. In other words there was no crime there. But Clinton’s attempts to pressure Lewinsky into altering her testimony in order to hide their affair from the public WAS a crime.

    Trump will soon discover that the same laws apply to him too.

    Unfortunately, the right wing echo chamber will pick up this particular talking point and further erode the public trust in the justice system. This is what authoritarians do.

  16. Keith says:

    As to “this is the end” title above. Are you referring to the war between the Korea’s? It will be interesting if he receives the the nobel peace prize one day and while the Dems are still trying to throw him out of office …

  17. Ron says:

    Jeff:

    Just a quick note to let you know how much i enjoy your writing and observations, and really appreciate your perspective. To say I am disappointed in the overwhelming silence (or worse yet, justification) from so-called christians during this new political era, is an understatement. While I am appalled at where the “family-values” party has taken us, I am glad that at least now, the hypocrites have not only revealed themselves, they seem proud of what they stand for. It is awakening the majority of us, and the resistance grows stronger every single day.

    The patience that you display in your responses is admirable, but I do not share that virtue. Your lengthy, well-thought responses to every totally unrelated question is somewhat wasted, as most deserve their own columns. As the commentary on the Monroe News website has deteriorated, I visit less frequently, and rarely post myself anymore. (No time for the trolls.) I do fear that every time Boris (or Natasha) respond with: “Look, Moose and Squirrel are plotting big trouble for Fearless Leader!” he feels like he’s won a battle by changing the subject. Case in point, asking if this column is about North and South Korea! Seriously? While I do admire anyone who has attempted to learn English as a second language, you are entitled to a refund from Trump University. They settled that lawsuit.

    Once again, thank you so much for your seemingly lone-voice in the darkness. If there were more Christians like you, maybe this country wouldn’t be in the mess we’re in now. But I do believe that this, too, shall pass. Keep up the good fight!

  18. Jeff Beamsley says:

    As to “this is the end” title above. Are you referring to the war between the Korea’s? It will be interesting if he receives the the nobel peace prize one day and while the Dems are still trying to throw him out of office …

    There have been ongoing border incidents between North and South Korea as recent as list last December. Wikipedia has a list.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_border_incidents_involving_North_and_South_Korea

    We have also had previous periods of improved relations with North Korea. The most recent was 2007.

    Whether this period will make more progress than previous ones is yet to be proven.

    This particular period is more dramatic because of the threats that lead up to the softening of relations. It is also different because Trump is suggesting that threatening war to encourage peace is more effective than more traditional diplomacy. If the Nobel Committee decides to recognize this as a viable breakthrough in international relations, then we will have to take it more seriously.

    If you choose to champion Trump for a Nobel prize, then you are also going to have to walk back your criticism of the same organization for awarding the prize to Obama. At the time, the line from conservatives was the the Nobel Committee was a liberal biased organization making a political statement because Obama hadn’t done anything to earn the prize, he’d only stated his intentions to end the Iraq war and make the US a champion of peace. Now it appears that they are an organization that conservatives feel could validate Trump’s place as a serious influence for good in the world. So which is it, a biased liberal organization or a group with legit interests in promoting peace?

    Until they do act, let’s all agree to be skeptical of this whole thing.

    Here’s why.

    The reason the rulers of NK invested in nuclear weapons was to protect themselves from being overthrown by external forces. What has changed in their calculus? Trump is in the process of tearing up the nuclear deal that the US and Europe made with Iran and Iran was only in the early stages of developing a weapon. Why wouldn’t Trump or some future president tear up any deal that Trump makes with NK?

    I’ll write about this in more detail in another post, but let’s first see what comes of the meeting between NK and the US before we suggest that Trump has actually accomplished something.

    All that said, I am grateful to the SK President for taking the initiative to improve relations with NK. He ran on that platform and has delivered on his promise. If anyone deserves a Nobel peace prize, it’s that guy.

    As far as the Dems throwing Trump out of office, they currently have no power. As a result, the best that they can to is complain. The reason why there is an investigation is because Trump fired Comey. The reason why that investigation has legs is because Trump surrounded himself with crooks and liars. Various active investigations have charged 19 people with crimes. Most of those people have pleaded guilty to their crimes. Some smaller number have chosen to defend themselves in court and so are innocent until proven guilty. We don’t know yet whether Trump has committed enough crimes to convince enough Republicans that he should be removed from office. But the truth is that Trump will ONLY be removed from office when REPUBLICANS decide that it is time, not Democrats.

    In the meantime, every day more stuff comes about confirming Trump as a liar and a con man. The latest report is that the doctor’s report on Trump’s health delivered during the campaign was fiction. It was dictated by Trump according to the physician who authored it. How would the campaign have changed if an honest report, like the one provided by Hillary Clinton, were produced? Lying to public about your health may not be a crime, but it is just another example of Trump’s disregard for the norms of our democracy.

  19. Jeff Beamsley says:

    Ron,

    Thanks for the encouragement.

    My reasons for writing are that I’m interested in better understanding those who don’t share my views.

    The writing also gives me a chance to study the issues that I care about more deeply. So I write about the stuff that interests me.

    I believe that facts and character matter. I also believe in the power of democracy.

    I also believe that all people are fundamentally good because they are made in the image and likeness of their creator.

    But I agree that it’s times like this that call our beliefs into question.

    The only explanation that gives me any comfort is that we periodically need times like this to rediscover the values that unite us as a country. The analogy is that the only way to clear a muddy stream is to stir up the mud and allow the water to wash it away. We’re in a period right now where the future looks very muddy, but I believe our path forward will become clear as the majority reject divisiveness and recommit to pluralism, diversity, and brotherly love.

    Thanks again for taking the time to read my stuff and please feel free to continue to comment.

  20. Jeff Beamsley says:

    BTW, BTW, BTW There is now reasonable speculation that the interview questions that the NYT recently published DID NOT come from Mueller. The speculation is that they were created by Trump’s Attorney Jay Sekulow.

    The NYT declined to name their source, but they said that it came from someone (presumably in the White House) who was not part of Trump’s legal team.

    The reasonable question is why would the White House leak these questions?

    Here’s one answer from an article in the Atlantic.

    Why would the Trump team leak the list of questions it merely “believed” the president would be asked—which, as my colleague Adam Serwer reports, gestures at major dangers for the president—to the press? Only the sources themselves can speak definitively to their motivation, but the disclosure invigorated Trump’s defenders on cable news and elsewhere. That produced a feedback loop: The leak of questions from the White House inspired angry reactions from the likes of Jesse Watters and Joe DiGenova; Trump then amplified DiGenova’s attacks on Mueller; and the press rushed to cover the controversy. With Trump’s media protectors taking to the barricades, he gained more cover to refuse to cooperate with Mueller.

    There is more to this story that I may write about later.

    It is all speculation and conspiracy theory, but some of the dots are lining up in ways that suggest that the White House is orchestrating a series of events to justify Trump refusing to cooperate with Mueller or maybe even firing one or more of the key Justice Department officials in the investigation.

  21. Keith says:

    Jeff,
    The picture I was drawing as you know was one of sarcasm. The specter of a peace prize for ending the war between the Koreans, so says the president of South Korea, and the Dems pounding the table for impeachment is humorous to me. Nothing further .. I was not uplifting the award or the committee.

  22. Keith says:

    YS)It is all speculation and conspiracy theory, but some of the dots are lining up in ways that suggest that the White House is orchestrating a series of events

    MR)so call me Jonny Onenote but, it was coincidental that President Clinto and Attorney Lynch’s Jets were on the tarmac together? And you can still have No Curiosity as to how and why that happened?

    Jeff be curious all the time!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  23. Jeff Beamsley says:

    The picture I was drawing as you know was one of sarcasm. The specter of a peace prize for ending the war between the Koreans, so says the president of South Korea, and the Dems pounding the table for impeachment is humorous to me. Nothing further .. I was not uplifting the award or the committee.

    I’m not real good at sarcasm.

    I agree that the prospect of Trump getting the Nobel Peace Prize is humorous to me too. That prospect hasn’t been floated by the Nobel Peace Prize committee. It is an idea that some Trump supporters in the House have floated. Whether it is sincere or just an opportunity to flatter someone who loves to be flattered, I don’t know.

  24. Jeff Beamsley says:

    MR)so call me Jonny Onenote but, it was coincidental that President Clinto and Attorney Lynch’s Jets were on the tarmac together? And you can still have No Curiosity as to how and why that happened?

    Jeff be curious all the time!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Ok Jonny Onenote, the “dots” simply don’t line up in the case of Clinton and Lynch. Clinton was in Phoenix for some scheduled campaign events. Those were public knowledge because they were announced in advance. Lynch has just arrived for a scheduled meeting the next day with the local police department. Both agree that Clinton reached out to Lynch. That Lynch was reluctant to meet but felt that she couldn’t refuse Clinton’s request. They did not meet in private. The flight staff and Lynch’s husband were also on the plane. Clinton did overstay his welcome and had to be asked several times to leave.

    So the first question is, if this meeting were intentional, why have it in a public place like an airport where other people were likely to see it happening and there are public records of when planes land and take off?

    The second question is if there was discussion about the FBI investigation, why would that discussion happen with an audience? There is no reporting from anyone that Clinton and Lynch were alone during any part of that meeting.

    The third question is, if there was a deal that was struck at that time, why did Lynch then essentially recuse herself from any further influence in the case? That recusal is what led ultimately to Comey announcing on his own that he was re-opening the investigation two weeks before the election – a fatal blow to the teetering Clinton campaign.

    If there really WAS a deal, the WORST thing that Bill or Hillary Clinton could have done during her campaign is get within 10 miles of Lynch or suggest that there were ANY communications between the two. Yet here it was, Bill Clinton MEETING with Loretta Lynch.

    So WHY did Clinton ask to meet Lynch? Bill Clinton is the only one who can answer that question. He is a really smart politician. But he is also a risk taker and a fierce defender of his wife. It could have been just as he had said, it was the end of a long day and he just wanted to say hello to an old friend. It is also possible that he felt that Lynch was allowing the FBI too much latitude in their investigation of Hillary’s email server and wanted to strike back by embarrassing her. I don’t know. But whatever it was, it was NOT an attempt to do a deal because this would have been the WORST way to set something like that up. Whatever you may feel about Clinton, he is WAY smarter than to attempt to do deal to protect his wife in person in public.

    What IS CLEAR, however, is that there is no plausible story that this meeting was part of some larger plot to benefit Hillary and her campaign. Instead it made it worse (which tends to support the revenge theory).

    That’s why this conspiracy theory falls apart.

    That’s also why there has been no investigation even though all of the actors are now out of power and unable to stop any effort to uncover a different story. Do you think for a moment, that if there was even a hint of a smoking gun, that Republicans wouldn’t have jumped on this with both feet? They know that it finally comes down to the conversation on the plane and ALL those involved are sticking to their story that nothing happened. If ANYONE were able to come up with ANY indication that schedules were changed to accommodate this meeting, or any other correspondence, there would have been an investigation. The ONLY thing that anyone has is a deep bias that this UNUSUAL meeting must have had some purpose. But because it wasn’t scheduled, Bill Clinton is the only one who can answer this question and he is sticking to his story.

    Now let’s take another conspiracy theory.

    In this one we learned that the President was accused of having an affair with a porn star shortly after his current wife gave birth to their son.

    Trump and all of his supporters denied that this happened. The porn star said that she had proof including an agreement from Trump’s attorney Cohen and records of a payment for $130,000.

    Trump and all of his supporters said it was fiction and just another attempt by someone to get publicity at Trump’s expense. The second part was clearly true. This whole thing has been a huge boost to the porn star’s career.

    But then the whole thing started to come apart. Cohen admitted that he did pay the porn star and that there was an agreement which Trump never signed. Cohen said Trump knew nothing about it and that Cohen paid the money out of his own funds. Immediately the press began to speculate because this didn’t pass the smell test. Lawyers just don’t volunteer to pay $130,000 on behalf of their clients out of the goodness of their hearts.

    This also raised a whole slew of issues regarding campaign finance laws and put Cohen in jeopardy of going to jail. His offices got searched and it turns out that he used a home equity loan to come up with the money and may have misrepresented the purpose of that loan to his bank. That supports a secondary set of speculation that Cohen was not in the best of financial shape.

    Trump claims that he knew nothing about anything and Cohen did this on his own initiative. The problem was that at least some of the communications between the porn star and the lawyer was via email with Cohen using his Trump organization email address. Perhaps Cohen is just stupid, but even a stupid lawyer is not going to engage in a secret payment intended to shelter his employer from embarrassment and potential loss of votes using that employers email server. Even a stupid lawyer would have used either his law firm’s email address or his own personal address. Cohen intentionally used a Trump email address because he wanted to make sure he was going to get paid back.

    Cohen may now be in active negotiations with the Fed regarding the various charges they intend to bring. The result has been speculation (conspiracy theory) that Cohen might trade testimony against Trump for leniency.

    The first evidence of how Trump and his lawyers are reacting is a public announcement from Giuliani in an attempt to get out in front of any leaks that might come from the Cohen investigation. Giuliani said that Cohen WAS paid back by either the Trump organization or the Trump campaign for the loan (which explains why he used a Trump email address). The method of that payment was a monthly retainer that was of a sufficient size to cover both the cost of the loan and the additional taxes that Cohen would have to pay because the retainer would be taxes as income (which proves he is not a stupid lawyer).

    THIS conspiracy theory points solidly to the conclusion that Trump knew EXACTLY what was going on, approved it, and has been lying about ever since.

    Why does THIS conspiracy theory work? Because all of the motivations and conclusions line up. Trump DID have an affair as the porn star claimed. The porn star WAS paid off. The story WAS suppressed. Trump DID get elected. Cohen DID get paid back. The only problem is that it was all HIGHLY illegal because it all happened in the middle of a campaign for President where the public has a right to know about the candidates. There are legal limits to campaign contributions, limits to how campaigns can spend their money, and reporting requirements. Now all of those involved are going to be held accountable for their crimes including Trump. And if it can be proved that Trump actively obstructed the investigation into this crime, it will be just another in the long list of obstruction of justice charges that he may be facing.

    Just another reminder about why obstruction of justice charges are WAY more serious that the underlying crime. We give our President IMMENSE power. In return, we expect that President will be trustworthy and use that power judiciously. When a President abuses that trust and uses that power to protect himself and his administration from investigation, we have to respond forcefully and punish those acts. Otherwise, the country is vulnerable to a President who abuses his power and sets himself and his administration beyond the reach of the courts.

    Not even the President can break the law without consequences (at least that’s my hope).

  25. Jeff Beamsley says:

    BTW, BTW, BTW, BTW, if Prof. Dershowitz is the expert on these things (Fox News seems to think so), then we are all going to have to accept that if Mueller chooses to subpoena Trump in order to get him to testify, the courts will not intervene.

    “He can argue you can’t subpoena a president in a criminal case in front of a grand jury,” Dershowitz said on Fox News’s “America’s Newsroom” earlier this week. “He would probably lose on that broad issue.”

  26. Keith says:

    To the Clinton’s.
    Good narrative and its correct.
    WHY was President Clinton there? Go not farther.
    Let the media be as inquisitive as they’d like, which wasn’t very.
    You took a couple stabs at it. Thank you. There are many reasons why he
    did this and stupidity ranks right up there.
    That’s the point. I’m currently watch CNN IN THE CHICAGO AIRPORT.

    They are on loop calling Trump a Liar about the stormy news and $130k.

    In my view he more then likely did have a fling with her and several others. I don’t know that but I would believe that. However he very well may not have known about the deal. So on air force one when he said “ I don’t know” he could have been telling the truth. If he’s had other “Events” and had NDA’s with others, highly likely, then his lawyer is the fixer. He’s on retainer to do just that. His job would also be to not tell Trump. That’s very very likely the case. Why CNN and the others can’t get their arms around that is beyond my comprehension other then their agenda is simply getting him out. Think they’d be happy with VP Pence.

    Do you see the lack of wondering going both ways?

    Meanwhile fat boy walked into South Korea and trumps nuke warnings probably got him there. Yes I believe in peace through strength.

  27. Jeff Beamsley says:

    In my view he more then likely did have a fling with her and several others. I don’t know that but I would believe that. However he very well may not have known about the deal. So on air force one when he said “ I don’t know” he could have been telling the truth. If he’s had other “Events” and had NDA’s with others, highly likely, then his lawyer is the fixer. He’s on retainer to do just that. His job would also be to not tell Trump. That’s very very likely the case. Why CNN and the others can’t get their arms around that is beyond my comprehension other then their agenda is simply getting him out. Think they’d be happy with VP Pence.

    Clinton and Lynch’s story hasn’t changed from day 1. That’s because it made sense for all of the reasons listed in my previous post.

    Trump’s story did not make sense from day 1 and he CONTINUES to lie about it.

    NYT is reporting that Trump knew about the payoff before he denied it. It also reports that Cohen was reimbursed from Trump’s personal trust fund. So you tell me, whether or not somebody else in the Trump organization was able to approve an almost $500K withdrawal from Trump’s personal account without Trump’s approval.

    Trump ran his own campaign on the cheap. He only spent $65M of his own money (not the $100M that he claimed), and $12M of that $65M was spent on services that his own companies supplied the campaign. So you think someone like that is going to give anyone the ability to spend money from his own personal account without his approval?

    Cohen was not on retainer to do stuff. He was PUT on a retainer in order to reimburse him for the cost of the payments he made on behalf of Trump.

    CNN, NYT, Wash Post, and others are simply reporting the news and doing their job.

    Here’s the timeline.

    Nov 4,2016 – Hope Hicks tells WSJ there was no affair
    Jan 12 – Cohen reacts to WSJ story about the payoff said there was no affair.
    Jan. 17 – Cohen again denies reports of the same affair that first surfaced in 2011
    Feb 13 – Cohen admits the payoff but said he did it all on his own and wasn’t repaid by anyone in the Trump organization
    March 7 – Huckabee Sanders says the President knew nothing about the payoffs based on a conversation she had with him
    April 5 – President himself denies that he knew anything about the payoff
    April 26 – Trump says that he DID know that Cohen was handling the Stormy Daniels case
    May 2 – Guiliani says that Trump paid Cohen back
    May 3 – Trump weights in undercutting Guiliani’s statements in order to avoid potential campaign finance violation issues. His explanations still demonstrate clear violations.
    May 4 – NYT says that Trump knew about the payment months before his first denial on April 5th

    This is not people “out to get” Trump. This is ENTIRELY of Trump’s own making. He was the one who chose to have the affair. We know of 16 women who came out publicly to accuse Trump of assault during the election. He didn’t pay any of them. The two women who claim that they had affairs did get paid have NDA’s and fat checks to prove it. There may be more, but we know that these two are almost certainly true. Both got paid because they both likely have evidence to prove their case.

    Trump (not Cohen) was the one who decided to pay Story Daniels off to prevent the story coming out right before the election (campaign finance violation). He’s the one who lied about knowing about the payoff. And now he’s the one who is going to have to deal with the slow unraveling of all of those lies.

    Please tell me what “other way” this story should have been handled.

    The press were all over the Clinton Lynch story too. But as far as anyone has been able to find out, both Clinton and Lynch were telling the truth about the conversation that was held. Nobody denied that the meeting happened. Both were in town on business that had been scheduled months in advance and was public knowledge. As I said before Clinton had a campaign appearance and Lynch was coming in for a meeting with the police department the next day. The ONLY story since then has been right wingers who refuse to accept the fact that these two DID NOT cook up some secret deal which resulted in Comey’s recommendation not to prosecute Hillary. Comey did that all on his own based on his own understanding of the law and the facts.

    Meanwhile fat boy walked into South Korea and trumps nuke warnings probably got him there. Yes I believe in peace through strength.

    He walked into South Korea because Moon (SK President) invited him. Moon promised to normalize relations with NK during his campaign. He promised that, if elected, his first visit to another country would be to NK. Moon used the winter Olympics to demonstrate that he was sincere (Unlike the US).

    Everyone is grateful that both Trump and KJU have been willing to step back from the brink of nuclear war.

    Threatening war is not negotiating from strength. It is high risk brinksmanship. History is littered with conflicts, including WWI, that were the result of brinkmanship gone awry.

    That said, let’s see what comes out of the meeting before we decide who is playing whom. IMHO KJU has all the cards right now. Trump is the one who has to demonstrate that he is the negotiator that he claims to be. KJU hasn’t had to give up anything, and he already has the support of SK and the promise of a face-to-face meeting with his biggest adversary. He has nukes and missiles and enough weapons grade material to continue to threaten others for decades even if he stops his program tomorrow. KJU wants the US to withdraw troops from SK. Trump has already said that this is something he wants to do too. How do you think SK is going to respond to a nuclear NK and a US withdrawal?

    So we’ll see who the fat stupid kid really is when this is all over.

  28. Keith says:

    One example of you and the media engaging in group think creating your own narrative of events/facts. Clearly I am saying and will continue to say I don’t know what happened. I think I do but I don’t know it.

    April 26 – your bias is clearly showing. “Trump said he knew Cohen was handling the Stormy case.”

    So? What does this do to make him a liar. The case happened prior to the election. It’s plausible Trump didn’t know about it. His saying “Cohen handled the case” is referring to the recent events. They been to court several times in the last few months. This qualifies as “handing the Stormy case.” Instead you taken that to mean he knew about the payment prior to the election.

    Mostly it’s wise to understand both sides of any situation…

    And for the record again I would rather have some one other the Trump as a choice. But the choice between he and Hillary is still Trump.

  29. Jeff Beamsley says:

    One example of you and the media engaging in group think creating your own narrative of events/facts. Clearly I am saying and will continue to say I don’t know what happened. I think I do but I don’t know it.

    April 26 – your bias is clearly showing. “Trump said he knew Cohen was handling the Stormy case.”

    So? What does this do to make him a liar. The case happened prior to the election. It’s plausible Trump didn’t know about it. His saying “Cohen handled the case” is referring to the recent events. They been to court several times in the last few months. This qualifies as “handing the Stormy case.” Instead you taken that to mean he knew about the payment prior to the election.

    Nope that’s not the case. It is an example of you and those who spin the news in a rightward direction standing on your heads to avoid the fact that Trump lied.

    If you look at the time line from start to finish, here is the arc without bias.

    Trump and his reps first said there was no affair.
    Stormy Daniels and her lawyer say that there was an affair, there was a payoff, there is a document which Stormy signed, but was never signed by Trump. They also said that they are no longer bound by that agreement because of things that Trump and his administration and supporters have said.
    Then Trump’s lawyer said that Stormy Daniels was correct, there was a payoff days before the 2016 election and there was a document that Cohen drew up.

    – let’s just pause here for a moment. At this point, whether or not Trump had an affair, the willingness of someone connected with Trump to pay Stormy Danials $130K days before the election in order to keep the information from becoming known by the public IS illegal in multiple ways. Trump and those connected with his campaign KNEW it was illegal. So the press ferreting out these facts were doing their job. The ones demonstrating bias were Fox and other right wing sites who continued suggest that Stormy Daniels was lying. We still don’t know for sure that there was an affair, but the only people right now that we KNOW lied are Cohen and Trump.

    Trump then denies that he knows anything about the payoff.
    Then on April 26th, Trump says “He represents me, like with this crazy Stormy Daniels deal, he represented me.” and “From what I see,” he continued, “he did absolutely nothing wrong. There were no campaign funds going into this, which would have been a problem.” In other words, Trump admits that he had assigned the “Stormy Daniels deal” to Cohen. He was not referencing the recent resurgence of that case. He was referencing the agreement and the payoff prior to the election. Because he also admitted that he knew that there was a payoff and that it did not come from campaign funds. And he further admits that he was aware that a payoff coming from campaign funds would have been a problem, which strongly suggests that HE MADE SURE that the payment DID NOT COME from campaign funds.

    These statements on April 26th contradict Trump’s earlier claims that he knew nothing and that Cohen did all of this on his own.

    The press was aware that it wasn’t just where the campaign funds came from, but the REASON for the payoff that could be illegal. So they began to drill down on Cohen’s claim that he paid it all out of his own pocket and didn’t get reimbursed. That’s where Mueller and the NY Feds come into play. They spring their search on Cohen, and now Trump has a problem. He suspects that the Feds know that Cohen got paid back and they probably know how Cohen got paid back.

    So the end of this arc is Giuliani admitting that Cohen did get paid back, and Trump later retelling the story in a different way to try and avoid Fed Election law violations (unsuccessfully), but also admitting that he knew that there was a payoff when previously he said that he didn’t.

    The summary?

    Cohen, Sanders, Hicks, Trump and virtually every member of the right wing media lied when they said there was nothing there.
    Cohen lied when he said he didn’t get paid back.
    Trump lied when he said he knew nothing about it and that the press would have to talk to Cohen because he did all of this only his own.

    BTW, here is a post to a story in the NYT where at least two people familiar with the arrangement said that Trump knew about it months ago.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/04/us/politics/trump-hush-payment-stormy-daniels.html

    Reporting that is NOT bias. It is news and it also supports the culture of lies that has become the standard of the Trump administration.

    What has happened through out this whole saga is that every time Trump or his administration or his supporters or his employees said something about this event, it turned out to be a lie.

    So what Trump and team are going to try to do now is characterize this as a normal course of business for wealthy famous people and that this is in no way a violation of campaign finance laws (it still is). If that’s the case, why not simply say that from the beginning? Because they believe that they can get away with lying to the american people and blaming the democrats, Clinton, and bias every time they get caught in a lie. You appear to be caught up in the same delusion.

    There is no nuanced “other side of the situation”.

    The sides are pretty clear, truth and lies. Feel free to pick which side you would like to be on.

    BTW, you were the one who was incensed when Obama told a big lie about being able to keep your insurance and that lie somehow helped him win an election.

    Well what about paying off two women in order to keep their stories out of the election cycle and then lying about the payment in order to win an election and also evade prosecution? Why are you picking the side of the liar in this case?

  30. Keith says:

    Lets be clear, I was incensed when President Obama said you could keep your insurance, your doctor. I was not incensed when President Clinton said “I did not have sex with that women, Miss Lewinsky.”

  31. Keith says:

    https://www.cnn.com/2018/05/04/politics/donald-trump-michael-cohen-stormy-daniels/index.html

    The question o. Air Force one was “did you know? not “do you know?”

  32. Ron says:

    Hi Jeff:

    Thanks for you reply! But once again, it was buried in 31 responses and thousands of words devoted to unrelated matters (Loretta Lynch? Seriously?) and hair-splitting over semantics (“did know” vs. “does know”) to avoid the important topics at hand. Anyone looking for something new from you is misled when they quickly scan the blogs and get the impression that the last time you posted was April 15. As a marketer, you would increase your audience by sticking to one topic per blog, and not being distracted by red herrings.

    I’m all for discussion and debate, but your insight is being lost when you could be posting a daily commentary on the complexity of the numerous scandals that THIS administration has brought to us NOW. As a fan of your writing, and as someone who would really like to understand the Christian justification for this nightmare, I would really like you to address the following topics (which are more in keeping with the theme of your blog:

    1. As a Christian, when are your fellow believers going to step up and start denouncing the division that this president continues to encourage, not only during a contentious political campaign, but from Day One with the most hateful and nasty inaugural speech that I have ever witnessed?

    2. When will the majority of Christians stop using the excuse that it’s not THEM, it’s the Evangelicals? To the non-religious, at this point, you are one and the same. Please explain why I don’t see other religious leaders en masse condemning some of the outrageous comments from people like Franklin Graham?

    3. When will the majority of Christians address the total hypocrisy of their reaction to the sins of democrats versus the sins of republicans. Example: They’re STILL up in arms over a consensual affair with an adult intern in the White House, but paying off an adult film actress days before the election with hush money is “none of our business”? Once again, I don’t get the double standard.

    4. Speaking of Christian hypocrisy, exactly how many marriages are O.K. now and how many extramarital affairs are acceptable? After being bashed over the head about the “sanctity of marriage” for many, many years, I would like to understand what the new rules are?

    5. How do you feel about Paul Ryan demanding the resignation of the House Chaplain because he dared to pray that the poor wouldn’t be hurt by legislation regarding tax cuts for the rich? (Side note: Thanks, Father Conroy for standing up to this bully!)

    These are just five topics off the top of my head I would love to see your opinion on, and NONE of them involve that “Russer thing with trump” or ancient history regarding the Clintons. As a former life-long Catholic, I know that values were always supposed to be the fundamental basis of our faith. I don’t see myself ever rejoining any church at this point, because I believe that Christians of all faiths have abandoned those “family values” for political purposes. Maybe you should concentrate on convincing us to come back, instead of wasting your time having political debates with someone who I suspect doesn’t even read your long and thoughtful responses.

    These are just suggestions from a fan. I hope you have a great day!

    Ron

  33. Keith says:

    Hi Ron,
    It appears you are referring to me. You’d have to read the previous 13 years of dialog Jeff and I have had to understand my comments. I am as curious and only curious about a Jeff beliefs that lead him to write “from a progressive Christian perspective” and how and why they are different then just from a Christian perspective. Again you’d have to read all all 13 years.

    As for Jeff I love and respect his perspective and have been challenged on many many occasions. I look forward to every word he writes.

    Blessings to you in your search for answers. I’d suggest you not look to anyone other then Jesus. We are all flawed.

  34. Keith says:

    Ron,
    Because you mentioned I will bring you along so you understand why I’ve responded to Jeff.

    The question was asked in a way that was “did you know” meaning when the payment was made “did you know?” His answer was no. This question was asked about a year and a half after after the payment was made. It’s very possible this was true. I don’t know if it was true. The reason I brought up Loretta Lynch was because Jeff didn’t wonder at all about her meeting with President Clinton on the tarmac durning the investigation or “matter” about Hillary’s emails. My interest is in neither, only Jeff’s lack of, in my view, interest in one of the events and extreme interest in the other.

  35. Ron says:

    Dear Jeff and Keith:

    First, let me offer my sincerest apologies. After taking Keith’s advice and reviewing the archives, I see now that I mistakenly thought that Jeff was the sole author of this blog. I believed that Keith was hijacking every post, when in fact you are co-authors. I certainly didn’t mean to insert myself into a private conversation that has gone on for so long between two friends.

    I also noticed when scanning the archives of 2007 and 2008, that Jeff used to get a lot more feedback from a variety of readers. The number of responses increased substantially when Keith appeared, unfortunately the number of responders dropped off at the same time. The other thing I noticed is that when the blog began, there were new posts and topics on an almost weekly basis. I know that careful writing is a time-consuming job, so as the off-topic filibusters began, new topics were abandoned. As someone who worked extensively in marketing before my retirement, this would be a red flag for anyone wanting to increase their audience and open up the discussion to more participants. But I now understand that this wasn’t the goal. So again, I apologize for giving unwanted advice.

    Speaking of unwanted advice, let me address the suggestion that I turn to Jesus for answers. When I began turning away from organized religion while in high school almost 50 years ago, I looked to His teachings and embraced His basic messages, and live my life by THOSE philosophies. And I know that those teachings and philosophies are definitely progressive. (Sorry, I know how that ruffles your feathers, Keith.) I’m not looking for spiritual guidance here. I’m looking for someone to explain the disconnect between Christ’s teachings and his modern day followers. Maybe today’s “conservative” Christian mouthpieces should follow your advice and also turn to Jesus for answers.

    Once again to Jeff, I do admire your patience and explanation that we need to open up discussion to try to come together. Absolutely. But I look at it this way: the fire department doesn’t waste time discussing how the fire started and spread so quickly before the fire is out. Right now, our democracy is burning. You’ve been holding this discussion with one person since 2007, and after all this time, his post of March 29 to you was: “Jeff, you should stop writing about white Christians. Just stop.” Don’t you understand him, yet?

    I wish both of you well, and in the future I’ll just read the original post and move on without comment. Enjoy your ongoing discussions.

    Ron

  36. Keith says:

    Hi Ron,
    To be clear I am not the co-author of this blog. I only respond. This is Jeff.

  37. Keith says:

    Ron,
    What is so obviously wrong with asking Jeff to stop talking about white Christians? In my reading of the Bible and understanding of Christianity there is no distinction amount the races. So as a Christian trying to understand a progressive Christians view, I should ask that Jeff not use those distinctions. Make since?

    Galatians 3:28 There is neither Jew not Gentile, neither slave not free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

  38. Keith says:

    Jeff,
    https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2018/may/7/cbo-says-april-was-best-month-history-us-budget/

    Repatriation?
    Cashed out gains from the 45% run up in the market?
    Or Trumps master plan? Lol

    Regardless good news.

  39. Keith says:

    http://thehill.com/opinion/judiciary/388549-stopping-robert-mueller-to-protect-us-all

    The most interesting thing about this opinion piece is the author

    Hope you’re well Jeff

  40. Jeff Beamsley says:

    Sorry for my tardy reply. I’ve been working on other stuff and just didn’t have the time to spend on this little garden. Thanks for keeping the conversation going.

    But I now understand that this wasn’t the goal. So again, I apologize for giving unwanted advice.

    I welcome all comments and advice as well.

    I don’t write because I’m interested in an audience. I write because I like it. I’m interested in those who challenge my thoughts because it forces me to think more deeply about whatever the topic is.

    I’m looking for someone to explain the disconnect between Christ’s teachings and his modern day followers.

    Me too.

    The challenge, of course, is that you can’t argue religion. When the conversation moves from ideas to belief, it ceases to be productive. Belief is part of a person’s identity. Very few people are sufficiently self-aware and sufficiently comfortable in their own skin that they are able to admit that perhaps one of their beliefs might be wrong. I have know Tom Treece for years and have had many deep discussions regarding the boundary between religion and politics. I have gently backed him into a corner on many occasions. His only defense at the point where his positions have lost all logical/factual support is that they remain something that he believes and he is unwilling to give up that belief. Not sure where you can go from there, but what is important is that he is aware and comfortable with belief being his core foundation. It’s one of the reasons I like him even though we are far apart politically.

    Right now, our democracy is burning.

    I agree that our democracy is probably in the most peril since the civil war. There was a brief time during the Great Depression when people were losing faith in the ability of the free market to ultimately manage itself, but I’m not sure that we would have abandoned democracy even if we moved in the direction of socialism.

    I have a deep and abiding faith in democracy, even in these dark times. Trump is not supported by the majority of voters. It is the responsibility of the majority to reassert themselves, regain control of government, repair the damage that has been done, and make sure that an authoritarian populist will have a harder time gaining control of the government in the future.

    You’ve been holding this discussion with one person since 2007, and after all this time, his post of March 29 to you was: “Jeff, you should stop writing about white Christians. Just stop.” Don’t you understand him, yet?

    I find people endlessly fascinating. But honestly, even if no one read my blog, I would continue to write. So I’m grateful for the feedback.

    I wish both of you well, and in the future I’ll just read the original post and move on without comment. Enjoy your ongoing discussions.

    Please don’t feel this is a private discussion. You are welcome to join any time.

  41. Jeff Beamsley says:

    http://thehill.com/opinion/judiciary/388549-stopping-robert-mueller-to-protect-us-all

    The most interesting thing about this opinion piece is the author

    Hope you’re well Jeff

    Not a big fan of the Hill either. Mark Penn is welcome to his opinion, but it is fraught with conspiracy theory. It is the FBI’s job to figure stuff out including whether the information they are getting is from a reliable source or not. Mueller’s job is to investigate potential Russian influence in the 2016 election AND any other related crimes he may come across in the process. Seems to me he is doing just that.

  42. Jeff Beamsley says:

    Jeff,
    https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2018/may/7/cbo-says-april-was-best-month-history-us-budget/

    Repatriation?
    Cashed out gains from the 45% run up in the market?
    Or Trumps master plan? Lol

    Regardless good news.

    I don’t take anything posted in the Washington Times as accurate. If you can find this from a more reputable source, perhaps we can talk about it.

  43. Jeff Beamsley says:

    Ron,
    What is so obviously wrong with asking Jeff to stop talking about white Christians? In my reading of the Bible and understanding of Christianity there is no distinction amount the races. So as a Christian trying to understand a progressive Christians view, I should ask that Jeff not use those distinctions. Make since?

    Galatians 3:28 There is neither Jew not Gentile, neither slave not free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

    The Bible quote referenced believers and addressed the historical issue of whether Jesus came to save just the Jews or everybody.

    White Christians are a demographic group as well as a religious one.

    From a voting perspective, they are group that is easy to identify. So as a result, when their voting patterns seem to run counter to their professed beliefs, it is reasonable to question why. Just as it would be reasonable to question why large groups of Catholics use birth control or perhaps are pro-choice. It would also be just a reasonable to question why White Christians joined the KKK and supported segregationists like George Wallace.

    It is at this intersection of belief and practice where interesting things happen. In the case of White Evangelical Christians, the cognitive dissonance is massive.

    Since I’m interested in what would motivate people to support someone so deeply flawed as Donald Trump, I’ll write about them.

  44. Keith says:

    Since I’m interested in what would motivate people to support someone so deeply flawed as Donald Trump, I’ll write about them.

    But you really aren’t interested and your comments as very flawed Jeff.
    Why would anyone be flawed in their beliefs for voting for Trump when the other choice was Mrs Clinton. You are clearly framing at that point. So naturally I wonder why you pointing out the flaw with white Christians. You point out no flaw for African American Christians at a 95 % rate or Latino Christians at a very high rate for supporting democrats who applaud abortion rights, homosexual marriage etc etc etc? Your bias against conservative Christians is so very clear. If you are being honest, the cognitive dissonance is just or even more massive.

    Trumps a liar is you rallying cry. I’m left to say “so what?” No!!! So should my support for the things that he will do that I support end in favor of who or what? Surely you don’t expect anyone in that office to reflect our beliefs? You’re comments regarding this are really quite, well, simple and on sided. Politically Hillary would be fine for to. Spiritually? Your response would be who cares about that, she represents your political issues the best. Well Trump does mine.

    There is no massive discount for me and my support for Trump and my Christian faith. Zero, absolutely NONE.

  45. Jeff Beamsley says:

    But you really aren’t interested and your comments as very flawed Jeff.

    I really AM interested in why people vote for Trump. That’s why I said it.

    Why would anyone be flawed in their beliefs for voting for Trump when the other choice was Mrs Clinton. You are clearly framing at that point. So naturally I wonder why you pointing out the flaw with white Christians. You point out no flaw for African American Christians at a 95 % rate or Latino Christians at a very high rate for supporting democrats who applaud abortion rights, homosexual marriage etc etc etc? Your bias against conservative Christians is so very clear. If you are being honest, the cognitive dissonance is just or even more massive.

    Not sure why you are reacting so defensively.

    I did not say that people who voted for Trump were flawed in their beliefs. Their beliefs are whatever their beliefs are.

    I said that Trump is deeply flawed person. So I’m curious why people who have a very different view of the world, were still willing to vote for him.

    I never said that White Evangelical Christians were the only ones dealing with cognitive dissonance. I only said that the moral relativism that they (and you) exhibit in your support for Trump is huge.

    I’m not the only one suggesting that moral relativism is problem in this country. Paul Ryan, of all people, said the same thing.

    There is a deeply serious problem we see right now within our society. We see moral relativism becoming more and more pervasive in our culture.

    He should know since he has been a regular practitioner.

    I realize he probably wasn’t thinking about it in those terms, but still the hypocrisy of this statement is stunning.

    And that’s the point when we discuss White Evangelical support of Trump. Unlike African Americans, or even Catholics, White Evangelicals have been leaders in the culture wars. They are the ones who claim that eroding family values are at the core of all of the evils that they see in this country. Yet they vote for a guy who is the poster child for all of the things they say are wrong with the culture. If they voted for this guy because of his politics, then they are saying that politics ARE in fact MORE important that morality. That’s moral relativism.

    Trumps a liar is you rallying cry. I’m left to say “so what?” No!!! So should my support for the things that he will do that I support end in favor of who or what? Surely you don’t expect anyone in that office to reflect our beliefs? You’re comments regarding this are really quite, well, simple and on sided. Politically Hillary would be fine for to. Spiritually? Your response would be who cares about that, she represents your political issues the best. Well Trump does mine.

    Trump isn’t just a liar. He is a liar of unprecedented proportions. We have never had someone who lied as much has he does. So I think it is entirely reasonable to ask how that affects democracy. Again, I’m not the only one asking that question.

    You were someone who was VERY upset about Obama’s big lie. Yet you are willing to accept Trump lying every day and never apologizing for any of them. You are willing to accept that behavior from Trump because you like his politics. THAT’S THE PROBLEM. You can’t hold ANYONE accountable for lying in the future because you were willing to trade lying for political gain today. That’s moral relativism.

    I don’t expect you to support Hillary Clinton. You don’t agree with her politics. But your willingness to support Trump because you didn’t want to see Clinton win is also moral relativism.

    I don’t see Clinton as the evil person that you do. So I don’t have an ethical problem voting for her. I have had ethical problems with candidates in the past and voted for third party candidates instead. I also have a problem imposing my religious beliefs on others, so I’m not going to judge them on whether or not they are good Christians. I’m more interested in whether or not they are going to lead the country in a positive inclusive pluralistic direction.

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