Russian Case, Lots of Lies, Rudy Giuliani makes TV tour, & Stormy Skies….

We’ll get into the Rudy Giuliani sideshow below.  But first, isn’t it interesting that Trump & his accomplices are so anxious to wrap up/shut down the Mueller probe into the worst illegal attack on our electoral process in American history, yet some of these same people dragged on the Benghazi probe for twice as long.  From what we know so far, Trump’s personal involvement in the scandal has found obstruction of justice is practically established, while extenuating circumstances surrounding the collusion/conspiracy part is strong enough the investigations still need to get to the bottom of it.  I’m speculating Mueller may release a report on the obstruction part by early summer, then go into seclusion for awhile so as to stay out of the headlines during the midterm campaigns, working behind the scenes to uncover all those other aspects to the scandal: mueller-probe-might-have-go-dark-for-midterm-election.

This article five-legal-headaches-facing-trump has explanations on five legal problems Trump is facing, which is broken down to Mueller, Cohen, Stormy, Summer Zervos & emoluments.  They’re all headaches politically, especially when taken as a whole, but the first two offer the greatest legal dangers for Trump.  This is a very extensive, widespread, far-reaching probe: trump-russia-investigation-ties.  Rubin offers thoughts on what evidence would constitute crimes worthy of impeachment & removal, with these posts below the conclusion to how-we-will-know-if-impeachment-is-the-right-thing-to-do.  Should such findings come out from the Mueller probe, it’s still an open question whether GOP Senators would have the moral clarity to do the right thing:

What would be sufficient to convince a strong majority of Americans that impeachment was warranted?

*A pattern of conduct showing Trump’s ongoing efforts to disrupt or end the Russia investigation. This would include repeatedly misleading the American people, attempts to prevent witnesses from cooperating, pressure tactics to prevent legal action against Trump friends or family members, deliberately misleading investigators and threats directed at law enforcement.

*Maintenance of a slush fund to pay off multiple women during the campaign to prevent harm to Trump’s campaign, with the intent to hide such payments by, among other things, excluding expenditures from Federal Election Commission reports signed under penalty of perjury.

*Trump’s contemporaneous knowledge and approval of outreach to Russian operatives by aides and associates for the purpose of securing help (e.g., the timed release of hacked emails) to defeat Hillary Clinton.

Finally, even if there is ample evidence to prove one or more of these three scenarios, there still should be serious consideration of whether removal by the Senate is feasible. There is little to be gained by impeaching Trump if he then is not removed. Rightly or wrongly, Trump and his supporters would take the Senate’s failure to convict as vindication, suggesting the conduct they engaged in is acceptable. Does this give immense power to Senate Republicans who will determine whether there is a supermajority for impeachment? Absolutely. And history, as well as the voters in 2020, 2022 and beyond, will judge them accordingly. Moreover, even if Congress did not pursue impeachment due to lack of consensus, every elected official would have an obligation to call for Trump’s resignation. The GOP would lose legitimacy as a national party if it permitted Trump to run for reelection.

The Mueller/Trump tug-of-war may soon result in a subpoena issued.  Word has it a sample testimony session didn’t go well as Trump gave rambling answers.  So Trump would then have a right to plead the Fifth, but it would come at a big political cost.  Trump was even once caught on tape saying that people who plead the Fifth are basically admitting they’re guilty: trump-once-said-pleading-the-fifth-was-for-the-mob-and-now-he-might-do-it.  But Rudy Giuliani is floating it out there.  See giuliani-says-trump-doesnt-have-to-comply-with-a-mueller-subpoena-and-could-invoke-the-fifth-amendment & also giuliani-says-trump-may-invoke-the-fifth-amendment-and-refuse-to-speak-to-mueller.  With his well-honed con man skills making Trump the master distractor, I can’t help but wonder if unleashing Giuliani on this TV network tour to make outlandish statements about the Stormy payoffs (trump-assures-reporters-hell-make-giuliani-a-better-liar), perhaps it’s a manipulated distraction away from the bigger crimes in the Russian scandal.  

The most plausible explanation for hiring Rudy as a lawyer is to set off smoke bombs, making headlines with ludicrous statements that serve as a smoke screen for whatever devious plot Trump & his minions want to carry out in undermining Muellerwhite-house-leans-into-mueller-attacks-betting-on-favorable-political-landscape.  This is the opening to carl-bernstein-giulianis-goal-is-to-throw-bombers-into-the-mueller-probe:

Veteran journalist Carl Bernstein on Friday accused Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani of trying to “throw bombs” into special counsel Robert Mueller‘s investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. “Rudy Giuliani is capable of being so reckless as we have seen throughout the campaign and as we are seeing now, that it is very difficult to parse what he is doing and saying, except that he is trying to throw bombs into the Mueller investigation,” Bernstein said on CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360.”

Chronic Lying

Trumpeters dismiss Trump’s chronic lying as somehow not really being lies, or it’s just hyped-up bluster, or Trump being Trump.  They also resort to this gem, that all politicians lie, & Obama & the Clintons lied too.  But that’s like comparing an occasional shoplifter to a serial armed robber.  The source that is tracking also counted the misstatements by Obama & George W., which numbered in the dozens at a similar point in their presidencies, whereas with Trump the lies are documented into the thousands: Liar-Liar-Liar-Liar-Liar-Liar-Liar-Liar-Liar-Liar-Liar-Liar-Liar-Liar-Liar-Liar.  Never before in American history have we ever seen a political leader who’s such a pathological liar, to where lies are found underlying virtually everything he says!  That much lying is just plain despicable: put-aside-the-law-for-a-moment-trumps-lying-is-just-plain-wrong.

It defies logic how those in Trump-world are quick to ignore or dismiss the more than 3000 verifiable lies he’s spoken since taking office!  Just pause to think about that, in less than 500 days we’ve been told more than 3000 lies by our president!: Stop-lying.  We can even count the gumballs!: uses-3001-gumballs-to-illustrate-trumps-false-or-misleading-claims.  There’ll come a day when we should really expect an apology: The-American-people-deserve-an-apology-for-the-Trump-presidency.  Inside the link toobin-rudys-interview-and-trumps-lies-create-a-crisis, it starts out with Trump getting caught in the lie about the Stormy payout, & then here we see the conclusion to the article expounding on the lies over the Comey firing:

Then, of course, there is the political (and moral) fallout of the falsehoods: why, now, should the public believe anything Trump says after he so obviously misled the public on this subject of wide public interest? Trump’s prevarications also made a mess of the even more consequential story of the firing of James Comey, the FBI director, in May of last year. The simple question of why Trump fired Comey has produced a still-changing collection of answers. The White House originally said Comey was fired for mishandling the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s emails. Then Trump himself told NBC’s Lester Holt that the real reason was “the Russia thing” — that is, to relieve the burden of the FBI’s Russia investigation. (Trump apparently said a similar thing to a group of visiting Russian diplomats in the Oval Office.) Wednesday, Giuliani offered still another explanation — that Trump fired Comey because the director would not publicly clear the President in the Russia investigation. Trump and his supporters have made the argument that the President had the right to fire Comey for any reason, or no reason at all. (This is legally questionable.) But surely settling on even a suspicious reason for firing Comey is better than the evolving story that the Trump camp has provided. Multiple explanations succeed only in arousing suspicion — which the President and his allies seem by now to richly deserve.

Rudy Giuliani

This Trump/Rudy tag team has not been going well: As-headlines-swirl,-Trump-grows-frustrated-with-Giuliani.  Here’s a good question: is-rudy-giuliani-trying-to-destroy-donald-trump-or-is-he-just-confused-and-way-over-his-head.  This beginning to the article trump-unqualified-men-rudy-giuliani helps to explain why Trump & his staff are defined more by chaos & bluster, rather than competence & cogent policy ideas:

They say you can tell a lot about a person by the company they keep. The presidency is no different: when it comes to a commander-in-chief, you can tell a lot from the aides they keep close. Barack Obama’s closest staffers were often intensely competitive, earnest, studious types who struggled to understand why the world didn’t admire their idealism and talent as much as they did. George W Bush, at least in his first term, surrounded himself with trigger-happy street fighters who confused patriotism with their own paranoia and prejudice. In the case of Donald Trump, the company he keeps is surprisingly consistent: a singular type with a shared set of character traits. They are, to a man, cocky, unqualified and kooky. You might call this the CUK theory of the Trump presidency, in honor of one of their archetypes: Steve Bannon. All the president’s men – at least, the CUKs – are a constant presence, in spite of the huge turnover among them. There was Bannon, now there’s Bolton. There was Scaramucci, now there’s Giuliani. It matters not. Trump cycles through his CUKs happily and frequently because he needs to keep one or more close through all his volatility.

On that same topic of hiring buffoonish aides, this first paragraph is the opening to & other paragraph ending to this article trump-giuliani-disaster-twins

Donald Trump has a genius for picking the worst possible person for any job. These days, the nation hears the words “You’re hired,” and it trembles. The man can’t even come up with a doctor who isn’t a disaster. His cabinet members are recycling like empty soda cans. His E.P.A. head alone is facing at least 11 federal investigations. Now he’s got Rudy Giuliani. Has anybody managed to create so much chaos so fast? “Rudy is a great guy, but he just started a day ago,” Trump said on Friday, referring to the lawyer he hired last month. “He’ll get his facts straight.” Yes, world, here’s my new high-powered lawyer who’s going to straighten out the debacle that is my presidency. I have total confidence that he’ll eventually figure out how to discuss the case accurately.

O.K., Trump base, how does that hit you? It’s not surprising that you’ve pretty much ignored the sex scandal. But do you want a president who thinks of himself as a member of the untouchable elite — folks who’ve got their own faithful retainers trotting at their heels, tossing out money to make unpleasant things like cranky ex-lovers go away? Giuliani’s ability to put his foot in his mouth is so spectacular, you kind of expect him to be recruited by Cirque du Soleil. In a sit-down with Sean Hannity, he threatened to “get on my charger and go right into their offices with a lance” if investigators “go after Ivanka.” Asked about her husband, Giuliani said that Jared Kushner was probably “a fine man. … But men are, you know, disposable.” O.K., this is offensive. On behalf of all the women of America, I want to say that we do not appreciate the suggestion that we have a right to get off the hook just because of our gender. And since Ivanka seems to think of herself as a feminist, I suggest that she volunteer to be immediately interviewed by the special prosecutor just to strike a blow for equality. 

Rudy Giuliani says Trump could ignore a subpoena, but Justices will likely say otherwise: eighteen-supreme-court-justices-vs-rudy-giuliani.  What we’re seeing is more of a clown show: taking-a-wrecking-ball-to-trumps-defense & also see morning-bits-trumps-legal-peril-grows.  Corruption does run deep even beyond the legal team: Republican-Corruption-Runs-Deeper-Than-Trump.  As seen in the following excerpts, Boot points out how the mighty have fallen in the person of Rudy: rudy-giuliani-has-hit-rock-bottom.  It goes right along with my theory Trump corrupts everyone he touches:

To be a prelapsarian conservative in America today — as that creed was understood before 2016 — means getting used to heartbreak. One after another, conservatives that I have admired and respected — Paul D. Ryan, Marco Rubio, Tom Cotton, Bill Bennett, Chris Christie, Newt Gingrich, Scott Walker and many others — have failed the Trump test. They have sacrificed their purported principles to curry favor with a populist demagogue who is turning the Republican Party into the American version of France’s National Front. The most conspicuous Republican to fall from grace — and he had a long way to fall because he once reached such a lofty pinnacle — is Rudolph W. Giuliani. He has gone, in Joe Scarborough’s biting but accurate phrase, from “America’s mayor” to Trump’s chump. But not even the gaudy, post-9/11 phrase “America’s mayor” can convey the true depth of Giuliani’s achievement, especially to a non-New Yorker.

 

What happened? Giuliani, like the rest of us, always had character flaws; in his case, they include arrogance, vanity, vindictiveness, self-righteousness, intolerance of criticism and lapses in judgment. As U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York in the 1980s, he launched high-profile prosecutions of Wall Street figures that were later thrown out of court. My theory is that Trump, the most deeply flawed individual ever to occupy the Oval Office, exposes and magnifies the flaws of his followers. Like so many other Republicans, Giuliani has failed the Trump test. He is far from alone: Hardly any prominent Republican will emerge from this sorry epoch with reputation intact.

We do see Trump ramping up the rhetoric against Mueller, an obvious new strategy & very bad sign.  The rule of law & Constitution could become the casualties: trump-rages-about-mueller-in-an-effort-to-stave-off-disaster.  As for more on the Russian probe, that a federal judge would complain the Manafort case is primarily a way to get at Trump should not be a major concern….yet.  As long as he abides by the letter of the law, in looking at the merits of the case rather than some perceived intent, the judge should rule the case can be allowed to move forward to trial: paul-manafort-ukraine-charges-related-to-russia-mueller-says & also foxs-andrew-napolitano-dismisses-manafort-judges-criticism-mueller-investigation-it-irrelevant-his.

Scandals Over Women

Those who abuse women should resign: women-accuse-eric-schneiderman-violence & also see schneiderman-resigns-hours-after-allegations-of-abuse-made-public.  Hopefully, it won’t delay the Trump-related cases NY was working on.  We should also find out more regarding the circumstances of the 19 women who accused Trump: https://www.newscorpse.com/ncWP/?p=37838.  It does appear there was something fishy going on here us-probes-cohen-over-cash-he-built-up-during-campaign, since it must take plenty of money to cover up Trump’s numerous indiscretions.  Here is the opening to a NY Times story trump-hush-payment-stormy-daniels showing Trump is lying & trying to cover up more scandals than just Russia:

President Trump knew about a six-figure payment that Michael D. Cohen, his personal lawyer, made to a pornographic film actress several months before he denied any knowledge of it to reporters aboard Air Force One in April, according to two people familiar with the arrangement. How much Mr. Trump knew about the payment to Stephanie Clifford, the actress, and who else was aware of it have been at the center of a swirling controversy for the past 48 hours touched off by a television interview with Rudolph W. Giuliani, a new addition to the president’s legal team. The interview was the first time a lawyer for the president had acknowledged that Mr. Trump had reimbursed Mr. Cohen for the payments to Ms. Clifford, whose stage name is Stormy Daniels. It was not immediately clear when Mr. Trump learned of the payment, which Mr. Cohen made in October 2016, at a time when news media outlets were poised to pay her for her story about an alleged affair with Mr. Trump in 2006. But three people close to the matter said that Mr. Trump knew that Mr. Cohen had succeeded in keeping the allegations from becoming public at the time the president denied it.

Stormy’s lawyer being cocky & irrepressible, Trump may have met his match.  See this conclusion to michael-avenatti-stormy-daniels-lawyer-could-bring-down-donald-trump:

Could the Daniels case bring Trump down? It has the advantage of obviousness. The Russia scandal, comprising various scenarios around collusion and an encyclopedia of unpronounceable names, is difficult to follow and understand. The Stormy Daniels story, if less important, has the virtue of being extremely easy to follow: sex with a porn star, lies, and hush money. If there’s not enough rope here to hang Trump with, it does give him enough rope to hang himself, which Trump shows every indication of doing. Indeed, the president appears to be doing a Stormy-in-reverse, firing his competent lawyers like John Dowd and Ty Cobb in favor of the past-it Rudy Giuliani, who immediately implicated his client by acknowledging that the $130,000 payment to Daniels was made to influence the 2016 election. Every time Daniels’ lawyer prods him into another incriminating lie—like Giuliani’s cockamamie idea that the monthly retainer he paid Michael Cohen was a “reimbursement”—the president multiplies his jeopardy, a fact Avenatti is quick to tout on CNN, MSNBC, and CNN again.

 

I do find it interesting opposing lawyers are both suggesting the strong possibility other hush-money payouts were made to various women:

giuliani-it-is-possible-michael-cohen-paid-off-other-women-for-trump & also giuliani-cohen-would-have-paid-other-women-if-it-was-necessary & also avenatti-expects-more-hush-payments-to-be-revealed.  But despite all the scandal & chaos, Trumpeter nation remains strong (& oblivious, & gullible, & duped, & in denial, & hopelessly embracing of sinister tribal allegiances): maga-nation-gives-trump-two-thumbs-up.  How can any thinking human being still believe this guy? (See song at bottom of part 3)

Trump Finances

Here’s an interesting article speculating when you factor in his heavy debt, this brilliant businessman who is now our president may have a net worth less than you or I: rudy-giulianis-big-reality-show-reveal-the-billionaire-in-the-white-house-is-broke.  And suspicions of money laundering & foreign bank arrangements are further raised with this changed strategy in how the Trump Organization financed their purchased properties: as-the-king-of-debt-trump-borrowed-to-build-his-empire-then-he-began-spending-hundreds-of-millions-in-cash & see were-donald-trumps-cash-real-estate-purchases-related-to-money-laundering & also see robert-mueller-must-expose-trumps-crooked-business-empire.  And based on new evidence, we should see his tax returns: heres-another-big-revelation-about-trumps-finances-how-about-those-tax-returns.

International

By the time you read this, you’ll already know what the Iran announcement was: trump-says-hell-announce-iran-nuclear-decision-2-p-m-tuesday.  It will likely be repealed: trump-to-announce-decision-on-iran-deal-tuesday.  I’m no fan of the Iran deal, but these tactics crossed the line: how-far-did-trump-allies-go-to-discredit-supporters-of-the-iran-deal.  But this really is the ultimate risk to the world: nuclear-annihilation-is-sum-of-all-global-fears-as-trump-squares.  We also see Trump has a shot at striking a deal with a murderous dictator in North Korea that would be a monumental achievement.  But clicking on these articles, see how Trump’s braggadocious bluster may already be undermining his bargaining position: north-korea-us-ruining-good-mood-summit & also north-korea-says-u-s-provocation-threatens-peace-talks & also North-Korea-says-US-ruining-mood-of-detente-ahead-of-summit.