President Trump would like to make sure that a Federal Judge fixes his former fixer, and throws the book at his one-time attorney and confidant, Michael Cohen.
Trump recently tweeted that Cohen should not be shown any leniency, and that he should serve a “full and complete” prison sentence. The full tweet, which can be read below, was in response to Cohen requesting that in exchange for the information he has been providing to the Mueller investigation into Russian collusion that he should serve little or no prison time.
“Michael Cohen asks judge for no Prison Time.” You mean he can do all of the TERRIBLE, unrelated to Trump, things having to do with fraud, big loans, Taxis, etc., and not serve a long prison term? He makes up stories to get a GREAT & ALREADY reduced deal for himself, and get his wife and father-in-law (who has the money?) off Scott Free. He lied for this outcome and should, in my opinion, serve a full and complete sentence.”
On Thursday, Nov. 29, Cohen pled guilty to a single count of making false statements to Congress about a project to build a Trump Tower in Moscow. That marked the first time that Trump and his private business dealings were named in open court as part of Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s ties to the Trump campaign.
On the other hand, just as he was ripping into Cohen for selling him out, Trump lauded long time Trump supporter Roger Stone. Stone, in a move that many say is reminiscent of a scene from The Godfather, tweeted that he would “never testify against Donald Trump.” Which prompted the President to Tweet back in true “Don” fashion: “Nice to know that someone has guts…” and is not willing to “make up lies about President Trump.”
Stone, a self-described Republican “dirty trickster,” has had his hand in the Republican pie since the 1980s. He has been the target of the Mueller investigation due to his alleged ties to, and communications with, a Russian hacker and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
Stone Pleads the 5th
Despite Trump’s admonishments on the campaign trail that only “mobsters” and “people who have something to hide” take the 5th, it looks like he was right about Stone’s loyalty. On Tuesday, Dec. 4, Stone invoked his 5th amendment rights against self-incrimination, and would not testify in response to requests for documents and testimony from the Judiciary Committee. According to CNN, Stone’s attorney Grant Smith rebuffed a request from the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee this week for documents and an interview connected to 2016 Russian election meddling. And Smith revealed that he had sent a similar letter to the Senate Intelligence Committee in September invoking the Fifth after the committee — which is still conducting its investigation into Russian meddling — requested documents and an interview from Stone.
Robert Mueller, who is investigating Stone’s alleged ties to the Russians and Assange, has yet to reach out directly to Stone, but says he has spoken with his intermediaries. Given the breaking news about his formal invocation of the 5th in these other matters, and his pledged loyalty to The President, it is reasonable to assume he will do the same, when and if he is asked to testify by Mueller.
Cue the theme from The Godfather.
As you no doubt know by now, the Washington Post has recently reported that, in the early days of the administration, First Daughter, Ivanka Trump, used a personal email account for government business. While this has garnered promises of investigation — even from the GOP — and shouts of hypocrisy, and even “lock her up,” from the Left, echoing her father’s endless tirades against Hillary Clinton and her emails, there are some significant differences between the two “scandals.”
Given that Hillary’s email abuses were a cornerstone of Trump’s 2016 campaign, Ivanka’s use of a personal email to conduct White House business was certainly a bad idea, and was indeed against Federal laws, but, there is a lot of daylight between what she did, and what Hillary Clinton was accused of.
Hillary’s Emails Vs. Ivanka’s
Of course, President Trump immediately dismissed the acquisitions against his daughter, saying that Ivanka did nothing wrong.
Using private email to conduct any government business is against regulations, but not necessarily criminal, if no classified material was involved. That is one of the key differences between the two violations. While no charges were brought against HRC, largely due to her lack of “malicious intent,” those who think she should be prosecuted, think that way because, despite her original denials to the contrary, it did come out that she did indeed transmit classified information over her private server. In Ivanka’s case, The Washington Post, which broke the story, said that Trump’s team has “strongly denied” that Ivanka sent any classified information over the private system.
That stands in stark contrast to then-Secretary of State Clinton’s use of her private basement server. The FBI investigation into Clinton’s conduct found that she sent 110 classified emails over her private server, and “8 were classified at the Top Secret level.”
To use one of the favorite words of her father, another “huge” difference between Ivanka’s case and Hillary’s, is that according to WashPo, we are talking about a little over 100 emails, and there was no evidence that Ivanka did anything to hide or redact any of the information in them. Hillary’s email problems, on the other hand, involved over 30,000 emails that were deleted, or otherwise forensically “bleached.” Not to mention her physical destruction of cell phones, and other devices that may have held traces of the emails in question.
A third critical difference is the risk of interception. Besides for record keeping, the main reason why it is against the regulations to use personal email for government business is that such accounts are likely more vulnerable to hacks by foreign powers. Since Clinton was using her private account while conducting State Dept. business, her emails were much more “high-value targets” than Ivanka’s which, at the time, we’re only dealing with domestic issues, mostly involving the transition.
Ivanka should have known better. Her use of personal email did violate federal regulations, and she should be subject to investigation and any consequences of same. But, Hillary Clinton’s use of private emails was on a much grander scale and posed a far greater threat to national security. There are two wrongs here, but, not only do they not make a right, they are not equitable.
Despite his admonishments of it being a “witch hunt,” and insistence that “there is no, there, there,” well-known attorney, and surprisingly frequent Trump defender, Alan Dershowitz, says that the forthcoming Mueller Report, could spell terrible news for the President.
Speaking on the Sunday morning news shows, The Harvard Law professor emeritus said that he believes the president will have to navigate the political impact of a potentially damning final report from the special counsel. “I think the report is going to be devastating to the president and I know that the president’s team is already working on a response to the report,” Dershowitz said. He added that he believes the report, although it will have a strong political impact, is unlikely to result in any criminal charges. He explained, “When I say devastating, I mean it’s going to paint a picture that’s going to be politically very devastating. I still don’t think it’s going to make a criminal case.”
Trump Provides Written Testimony
Dershowitz’s comments come on the heels of Trump having submitted his written answers earlier this week to questions from Mueller in the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
On the same Sunday morning talk show, ABC’s “This Week,” Sen. Amy Klobuchar, a Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, also said “that the investigation may be jeopardized by the appointment of acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker.”
Pointing to Whitaker’s previous public comments on the Mueller investigation before becoming attorney general, Klobuchar said he should not be running the Justice Department and that Congress should pass legislation protecting Mueller. “I’m really concerned about having him in charge. As you know, we have tried in the Senate on a bipartisan basis, to protect that investigation by law,” Klobuchar said.
The bill is still pending in the Senate.
Since Mueller’s probe began in the spring of last year, the investigation had secured indictments against 32 individuals and three Russian businesses on charges ranging from computer hacking to financial crimes.
Manafort’s Deal in Jeopardy
As if Dershowitz’s bombshell on Sunday wasn’t bad enough for the President, on Tuesday July 27, it was revealed that the Mueller investigation believes that Paul Manafort has compromised his plea deal, and has continued to lie to the investigation team. CNN has also revealed that Mueller’s team has been investigating a meeting between former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno, in Quito in 2017, and has asked explicitly if WikiLeaks or its founder, Julian Assange, were discussed in the meeting. But the biggest bombshell may be an unsubstantiated report published in The Guardian that claims that Manafort secretly met several times with Assange inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London, including around the time he was made a top figure in the Trump campaign. The Guardian, citing sources, said Manafort met with Assange in 2013, 2015 and in the spring of 2016. No other news agency has yet to confirm The Guardian’s report, but they are scrambling to do so.
For his part, Manafort says that The Guardian’s report is “totally false and deliberately libelous.”
As part of a deal for his cooperation, Manafort pleaded guilty to conspiracy and witness tampering on September 14, but according to a court filing on Monday, November 26, he breached that agreement by repeatedly lying to Federal Investigators. He potentially faces decades in prison, and had hoped that the plea agreement would lighten his sentence. Now that he is in breach, that is unlikely to be the case, which now raises the question if President Trump is planning to pardon Mr. Manafort.