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A great editorial from the Wapo. My emphasis....

President Trump has never been in more trouble than right now


As you’ve heard, federal agents raided the office and home of Michael Cohen, President Trump’s personal lawyer. Yet despite how rare an action it is to pierce attorney-client privilege this way, the big-picture story here seems inevitable: Once a serious prosecutor with resources and authority began taking a good long look at Trump and his associates, a bunch of people were going to be in big trouble, with some winding up behind bars.

I checked in with Barbara McQuade, a former U.S. attorney, to get context on the Cohen raid. She emphasized how rare it is for prosecutors to get a warrant for privileged material: Breaching attorney-client privilege in this way only happens when the attorney himself is directly implicated in possible crimes. She also stressed that, because it is such a radical step for prosecutors to take, a complex system of safeguards has been established to make sure it can’t be abused.

First, if the Cohen raid took special counsel Robert S. Mueller III into a new area of investigation, he would have had to get the permission of Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, who oversees the inquiry. Then, to get this kind of warrant, according to Justice Department rules, Mueller needed to get the permission of the U.S. attorney — in this case, Geoffrey Berman of the Southern District of New York, who was appointed by Trump — and had to consult with the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice, giving them detailed information on exactly what he was seeking and why. Then a judge would have to be persuaded to issue the warrant. (ABC News reported this morning that Berman has recused himself from the investigation, which means that others in his office are handling it.)

The upshot: The Cohen raid isn’t a “fishing expedition,” and didn’t happen because Mueller suspected he might find something interesting, despite how Trump himself and his defenders would like to characterize it as a case of a special prosecutor out of control.

“A judge has found probable cause to believe that evidence of a crime is housed in the office of Michael Cohen,” McQuade told me. “They may have a goal of flipping him, but there’s also evidence of a crime here.”

McQuade also stressed that Mueller didn’t raid Cohen’s office. Instead, it was conducted by the Southern District of New York. “They would have drafted the warrant, supervised the agent affidavit, presented it to the judge, and supervised the execution of it,” McQuade said. “So the idea that Mueller raided Cohen is wrong.”

The raid on Cohen’s office and home could produce all kinds of evidence — some related to his relationship with his client, and some not. They’ve got files, computers, cellphones, everything. Anyone who knows Cohen knows there is bound to be a whole lot of interesting stuff to be found.

The privileged information will then go to what’s sometimes referred to as a “taint team,” a group of Justice Department officials who will review it and decide whether it shows enough evidence of a crime that it falls outside attorney-client privilege. They will then pass that information on to a judge, who could then permit it to be used by Mueller, the U.S. Attorney’s office, the New York state attorney general, or the Manhattan district attorney. In other words, Cohen — and by extension, Trump — has to now worry about more than just Mueller.

Let’s take a step back. One remarkable thing about the 2016 election is the way Trump’s business career was given such a superficial examination by the media as a whole. Again and again, some crazy story or unusual aspect of his financial life would be the topic of one or two investigative stories, but those stories wouldn’t get picked up by other outlets.

Making this more problematic, Trump isn’t someone who played close to the line a time or two, or once did a shady deal. He may well be the single most corrupt major business figure in the United States of America. He ran scams like Trump University to con struggling people out of their money. He lent his name to pyramid schemes. He bankrupted casinos and still somehow made millions while others were left holding the bag. He refused to pay vendors. He exploited foreign workers. He used illegal labor. He discriminated against African American renters. He violated Federal Trade Commission rules on stock purchases. He did business with the mob and with Eastern European kleptocrats. His properties became the go-to vehicle for Russian oligarchs and mobsters to launder their money.

So it was no accident that when he ran for president, the people who joined him in his quest were also a collection of grifters, liars, and crooks — people such as Paul Manafort. Those were the kind of operators Trump has attracted all his life. Honest, upright people with a deep respect for the law don’t go to work for Donald Trump.

As for Cohen, he may be called “Trump’s personal attorney,” but Trump has plenty of lawyers. Cohen’s real job was to be a dealmaker and fixer. He’s the guy Trump would use when he wanted to do a shady deal with a Kazakh oligarch to build a tower in the Republic of Georgia. He’s the guy Trump would have used to negotiate a payment of hush money to a porn star. He’s up to his eyeballs in Trump’s business. I don’t know what they’re going to find when they start combing through Cohen’s computers and cellphone records, but I know it’s going to be pretty darn interesting.

One more thing. Yesterday, the president once again mused publicly about whether he should fire Mueller, but at least with regard to whatever turns up from the Cohen raid, it’s already too late.

“If Mueller gets fired,” McQuade told me, “this case will live, because it’s being handled by the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York.”

Things were bad for Trump before. But they just got a whole lot worse.
 

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The fact that he was a lousy businessman who survived on shady deals and outright fraud was pretty well documented and known by the 1980s. The fact that we, as a nation, forgot and got seduced by a fraudulent image created by "reality" TV just goes to show how far toward idocracy we have gone. But, we also voted for Harding back when. So, there you have it.

Also, don't forget that Hillary, for all her flaws, actually beat Trump in the popular vote by more than 3 million votes. Maybe we aren't that far gone yet. We just ran into the unfortunate gerrymander that is the Electoral College. I wouldn't expect people in Montana to have paid much attention to Trump in the 1980s. All they are likely to know about him is what they saw on TV. Too bad that created an incorrect image of business acumen. I don't blame people who were taken in by the con. But, like you, think the press should have been more forthcoming with the facts that people who lived in NYC when Trump went bankrupt multiple times knew very well.
 

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And this editorial from today's NY Times:

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/10/opinion/trump-michael-cohen-raid.html?action=click&contentCollection=opinion&region=rank&module=package&version=highlights&contentPlacement=4&pgtype=sectionfront



The Law Is Coming, Mr. Trump

Why don’t we take a step back and contemplate what Americans, and the world, are witnessing?

Early Monday morning, F.B.I. agents raided the New York office, home and hotel room of the personal lawyer for the president of the United States. They seized evidence of possible federal crimes — including bank fraud, wire fraud and campaign finance violations related to payoffs made to women, including a porn actress, who say they had affairs with the president before he took office and were paid off and intimidated into silence.

That evening the president surrounded himself with the top American military officials and launched unbidden into a tirade against the top American law enforcement officials — officials of his own government — accusing them of “an attack on our country.”

Oh, also: The Times reported Monday evening that investigators were examining a $150,000 donation to the president’s personal foundation from a Ukrainian steel magnate, given during the American presidential campaign in exchange for a 20-minute video appearance.

Meanwhile, the president’s former campaign chairman is under indictment, and his former national security adviser has pleaded guilty to lying to investigators. His son-in-law and other associates are also under investigation.

This is your president, ladies and gentlemen. This is how Donald Trump does business, and these are the kinds of people he surrounds himself with.

Mr. Trump has spent his career in the company of developers and celebrities, and also of grifters, cons, sharks, goons and crooks. He cuts corners, he lies, he cheats, he brags about it, and for the most part, he’s gotten away with it, protected by threats of litigation, hush money and his own bravado. Those methods may be proving to have their limits when they are applied from the Oval Office. Though Republican leaders in Congress still keep a cowardly silence, Mr. Trump now has real reason to be afraid. A raid on a lawyer’s office doesn’t happen every day; it means that multiple government officials, and a federal judge, had reason to believe they’d find evidence of a crime there and that they didn’t trust the lawyer not to destroy that evidence.

On Monday, when he appeared with his national security team, Mr. Trump, whose motto could be, “The buck stops anywhere but here,” angrily blamed everyone he could think of for the “unfairness” of an investigation that has already consumed the first year of his presidency, yet is only now starting to heat up. He said Attorney General Jeff Sessions made “a very terrible mistake” by recusing himself from overseeing the investigation — the implication being that a more loyal attorney general would have obstructed justice and blocked the investigation. He complained about the “horrible things” that Hillary Clinton did “and all of the crimes that were committed.” He called the A-team of investigators from the office of the special counsel, Robert Mueller, “the most biased group of people.” As for Mr. Mueller himself, “we’ll see what happens,” Mr. Trump said. “Many people have said, ‘You should fire him.’”

In fact, the raids on the premises used by Mr. Trump’s lawyer, Michael Cohen, were conducted by the public corruption unit of the federal attorney’s office in Manhattan, and at the request not of the special counsel’s team, but under a search warrant that investigators in New York obtained following a referral by Mr. Mueller, who first consulted with the deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein. To sum up, a Republican-appointed former F.B.I. director consulted with a Republican-appointed deputy attorney general, who then authorized a referral to an F.B.I. field office not known for its anti-Trump bias. Deep state, indeed.

Mr. Trump also railed against the authorities who, he said, “broke into” Mr. Cohen’s office. “Attorney-client privilege is dead!” the president tweeted early Tuesday morning, during what was presumably his executive time. He was wrong. The privilege is one of the most sacrosanct in the American legal system, but it does not protect communications in furtherance of a crime. Anyway, one might ask, if this is all a big witch hunt and Mr. Trump has nothing illegal or untoward to hide, why does he care about the privilege in the first place?
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The answer, of course, is that he has a lot to hide.

This wasn’t even the first early-morning raid of a close Trump associate. That distinction goes to Paul Manafort, Mr. Trump’s former campaign chairman and Russian oligarch-whisperer, who now faces a slate of federal charges long enough to land him in prison for the rest of his life. And what of Mr. Cohen? He’s already been cut loose by his law firm, and when the charges start rolling in, he’ll likely get the same treatment from Mr. Trump.

Among the grotesqueries that faded into the background of Mr. Trump’s carnival of misgovernment during the past 24 hours was that Monday’s meeting was ostensibly called to discuss a matter of global significance: a reported chemical weapons attack on Syrian civilians. Mr. Trump instead made it about him, with his narcissistic and self-pitying claim that the investigation represented an attack on the country “in a true sense.”

No, Mr. Trump — a true attack on America is what happened on, say, Sept. 11, 2001. Remember that one? Thousands of people lost their lives. Your response was to point out that the fall of the twin towers meant your building was now the tallest in downtown Manhattan. Of course, that also wasn’t true.
 
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