Brave Boy

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The last week has felt like we’re finally starting to see what momentum in this long, contentious Russian Investigation really looks like.  Within 2 days, 4 Trump cronies (Roger Stone, Jerome Corsi, Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen) have been called out by Mueller for lying to investigators and/or Congress.  Of those 4 cronies, 3 of them have joint defense agreements with Trump, meaning their lawyers are being given slight latitude in communicating with each other.  Now, in the days following Trump’s submission of written answers to Mueller’s questions regarding Russian interference in the 2016 election (though apparently questions regarding obstruction of justice were not allowed), Mueller seems have his ducks in a row, and is finally starting to make moves.  And now we see if Mueller is really playing chess against a bunch of checkers players.

The Edge of Loyalty

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Allen Weisselberg is the Chief Financial Officer of the Trump Organization.  He’s been a player in the company since the days that Trump’s dad was running the show.  Allen is the Money guy, and has been for years.  When it comes to loyalty, he would be the one person Trump would expect to have his back more than anyone.  And loyalty carries a premium for Donald Trump.  He values it more than just about anything.  He’s made that abundantly clear.  But now we’re hearing that Weisselberg has been granted immunity in his account of the Cohen affair.  His willingness to talk about what he knows gives us a pretty clear idea how much loyalty Donald Trump commands, which is to say, NOT. MUCH.  And I have to admit, that I find that kind of funny.  Because of course people in Trump’s orbit would be cautious in regards to the loyalty they give him.  He’s quick to lash out, and he throws people under the bus constantly.  And at the same time, the idea that people in his employ would ever be disloyal to him seems to be completely baffling to him.  As far as Trump is concerned, he’s this strong, powerful leader, who commands the greatest respect and loyalty, and yet as soon as he turns his back, people seem to be jumping ship.

The Cohen Implication

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What a day yesterday was for the grand scale of the office of the President.  You know, I was certain that the biggest news of the day was certainly going to be the conviction of Paul Manafort.  After days of deliberation, Trump was starting to brag that this just showed the indecision, and what he saw as a likely acquittal was just more “proof” of a witchhunt.  Then the jury came back with “guilty” verdicts and….you know what, don’t care. Not the biggest news of the day!  It’s important, but I feel like it was only moments later that the big fish fell on deck: Michael Cohen, Fixer extraordinaire and Ex-Trump attorney, pled guilty to eight total counts, including five counts of tax evasion, one count of making a false statement to a financial institution, and another count of “willful cause of unlawful corporate contribution” — as well as a count of “excessive campaign contribution.” If you get the chance, I recommend reading the case file.  At 22 pages, it’s pretty illuminating, especially the parts that pertain to work Cohen did for “Individual-1”. Now, one would, rightly, assume that Individual-1 is Donald Trump.  I mean, if you’re looking for hints, there is a big one in that Individual-1 “had become President of the United States” according to paragraph 2.  But how Trump-like would it be for Trump to claim that Individual-1 could be anyone!  That the fact that he wasn’t addressed by name is absolute proof of his innocence! Witch hunt!

Declaration of War

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So I was born just late enough to be on the cusp of ironically enjoying the idea of making something “Facebook official”.  The term, if you’re not familiar, presumes that once something is cemented on Facebook, namely relationship statuses, that it is Officially official.  Because as we all know, life is the most real when it’s lived through our social media.  Now I point out all of this to say, I think Michael Cohen has OFFICIALLY washed his hands of Donald Trump.  Not because of interviews and announcements regarding his Investigation cooperation, but because he dropped his title of “Personal Attorney to Donald J. Trump” from his Facebook profile.  Making it Facebook official must have been quite the blow to the Social Media conscious POTUS.  Then again, I’m sure in few days we’ll be hearing that Michael Cohen didn’t’ know anything, that he barely knew Trump, and that he never worked on anything significant for Trump.

Rudy Giuliani: Ace Attorney

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Trump is shaking things up with his legal team.  He’s brought on an old White House bulldog of a lawyer, Emmet Flood, who could potentially be quite a benefit to the Trump legal team.  So to balance out that intelligent move, he made a crazy, possibly suicidal move to really keep us all on our toes, by bringing on Rudy Giuliani as well.  I know that Giuliani has a good reputation during his time as mayor in New York, but in recent years, the man has kind of gone off the rails.  Naturally, the first thing he does as soon as he’s appointed is to go on Sean Hannity to torpedo Trump’s cases.  Among the fun things revealed in that interview, he said that Trump did in fact reimburse Michael Cohen for his $130,000 payment to porn star Stormy Daniels.  Despite his backtracking immediately after that statement, there is no way that revelation, or any of the others that Giuliani continues to unleash off the cuff, could benefit Trump’s position. I think it’s time for Rudy to officially retire from being the crazy old Republican bullhorn.

Jeff Sessions Might Have a Conflict of Interest

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Jeff Sessions is not recusing himself from the Michael Cohen fiasco, because of course he isn’t.  While many might say there is no distinction between the Cohen investigation and the Russia Investigation, I think it’s fair to categorize them mostly differently.  Though I get the feeling that Sessions isn’t thinking so above the board in his reasoning.  I’m pretty sure he’s just looking to keep his job.  I think everyone realizes that if he had recused himself from yet another investigation that centers around his boss, that he’d be fired so hard and so quick that all that would be left are Session’s Keebler elf ears.  Is there a conflict of interest when it comes to being objective about a legal investigation of the man who can fire you?

Ethics In Journalism

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Here’s the thing about Hannity and Cohen:  I’m having trouble getting too upset about it.  Sure, it’s weird that Hannity would use Cohen, considering what his “legal” expertise and practice was used for, and I’d be willing to bet Hannity has some things he’d rather not have disclosed publically, but I really just don’t care much in terms of the ethics of it.  Both because I don’t think much of Sean Hannity’s ethics anyway, but also because I can’t apply journalistic standards of ethics to Hannity, as I don’t consider him a journalist.  I don’t think many people do.  He’s a TV personality that occasionally brings up things in the news, but he doesn’t report things.  He editorializes and gives a narrative about it.  Usually a scumbaggy narrative that involves slander and defamation.  Regardless, it would be like if Jon Stewart and Barack Obama had the same personal attorney when Obama was in office.  Sure, some conservatives would probably wanna cry about it, but as Steward himself has said time and again, he’s an entertainer, not a journalist.

Poaching Talent

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Weirdly, one of the first public acknowledgements Trump has made about the whole Stormy Daniels affair, to my knowledge, was to call her a liar over the sketch of the guy Daniels says threatened her.  And honestly, Trump should have probably decided not to weigh in on this one, because Michael Avenatti is proving to be the Anti-Trump, using Trump’s favorite tactics to combat him.  In this case, Avenatti jumped on Trump’s tweet to suggest that what he said was tantamount to defamation, and it would totally make sense to come after him for that.  Trump has to feel weird for once being on the receiving end of that threat.

Trump Brand Loyalty

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So Michael Cohen may prove to be quite a thorn in the President’s side.  The fact of the matter is that Cohen has been seen as Trump’s “fixer” for about 20 years now, and what he might know, and what he has probably done in the name of protecting Trump…I mean we can’t even begin to guess.  Trump will admit he was no boyscout, and in the process of trying to figure out how Cohen relates to the bigger picture of Trump and Russia, the rabbit hole of questionable or illegal activity…well it could be damning.  Trump has to be sweating over this pretty hard.

On Thin Ice

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So, the raid on Michael Cohen’s place has really amped up Trump and his rhetoric about getting rid of Mueller and killing this Russia investigation.  He’s acting like a wannabe mob boss, except, unfortunately, he can actually really cause some bad things to happen.  But there is a funny thing buried in articles that no one seems to be mentioning, or at least not yet.  Trump is so busy fuming at Mueller, but it turns out Rod Rosenstein, Deputy Attorney General, personally signed off on the raid.  This wasn’t Mueller making a unilateral decision against Trump.  He got the a-ok from the guy who would ACTUALLY be able to fire him.  I’m sure Trump is probably aware of this factoid, but the way he’s talking about it, you’d think Rod was working his ass off to keep Trump from hearing about it.