Trump Claims He is Cleared of Felonies: Democrats Claim Proof of Felonies

Trump claims testimony of Michael Cohen and Paul Manafort clears him of felonies. Democrats claim testimony proves them.

As noted by The Hill, Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) testimony by Michael Cohen means that Trump allegedly committed two felonies.

Lieu, a member of the House Judiciary Committee and frequent Trump critic, told MSNBC's Chris Matthews on "Hardball" that "we have a sitting president of the United States who committed two felonies while running for president.”

"Totally Clears the President"'?

LAWFARE has a different take in its more balanced article 'Totally Clears the President'? What Those Cohen and Manafort Filings Really Say.

President Trump responded to today’s filings from federal prosecutors in the cases of Michael Cohen and Paul Manafort with a Twitter cry of triumph.

But let’s take a few moments to explore the contours of the president’s vindication in the briefs filed early Friday evening.

As to the substance of the government’s memos in the Cohen cases, they provide little basis for the president’s cries of exoneration.

What makes this document extraordinary is the government’s restatement of the most striking portion of Cohen’s August admissions in its own voice: Cohen indicated that he committed campaign finance violations at the direction of the candidate who conducted an “ultimately successful” campaign for president.

In short, the Department of Justice, speaking through the acting U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, is alleging that the president of the United States coordinated and directed a surrogate to commit a campaign finance violation punishable with time in prison. While the filing does not specify that the president “knowingly and willfully” violated the law, as is required by the statute, this is the first time that the government has alleged in its own voice that President Trump is personally involved in what it considers to be federal offenses.

And it does not hold back in describing the magnitude of those offenses. The memo states that Cohen’s actions, “struck a blow to one of the core goals of the federal campaign finance laws: transparency. While many Americans who desired a particular outcome to the election knocked on doors, toiled at phone banks, or found any number of other legal ways to make their voices heard, Cohen sought to influence the election from the shadows.”

One struggles to see how a document that alleges that such conduct took place at the direction of Individual-1 “totally clears the president.”

What should one make of all of this? It has long been clear that the Russian side of L’Affaire Russe involved a long-running, systematic effort to reach out to members of the Trump Organization and the Trump campaign. Mueller’s account of Cohen’s November 2015 conversation about “political synergy” is just one more thread in that pattern. What is less certain is whether and how that Russian effort was reciprocated by those surrounding the president. Friday’s court filings don’t substantially clarify that issue, but they do add more detail and texture to an already troubling picture.

Mueller is still not ready to show his hand on the key substantive questions. But President Trump should should probably go easy on the cries of vindication. They may age badly, and they may do so quickly.

Cohen Lied

Cohen's main problem is that he lied. He made false statements to US Congress.

On November 29, he plead guilty to making false statements to Congress.

Those statements do not convict Trump of anything.

I sent both articles to a couple of legal scholars that I know. Both expressed similar ideas.

Key Ideas

  • The LAWFARE article is quite comprehensive and appropriately cautious. This is all an exercise in reading tea leaves, but it is clear that Trump has some big legal issues ahead. Mueller is showing more of his hand on the Russia link, but it’s becoming clear he’s got one. No telling how strong yet.
  • The Hill article reminds me of CNN these days. Way too much speculation.
  • Trump’s exoneration claim is, of course, idiotic.

To get Trump based on what we know now, prosecutors would have to prove he “knowingly and willfully” violated campaign finance law.

That a tough thing to do. There may be other charges that do not require such proof.

LAWFARE handled the analysis well. The Hill is mostly a political clickbait rag with autoplay video ads as your "reward" for clicking.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

Comments (37)
No. 1-16
mkestrel
mkestrel

Two years and 40 million dollars...there are felonies.

Slavik
Slavik

"When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men in a society, over the course of time they create for themselves a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that glorifies it."

~Frederic Bastiat

Ted R
Ted R

And Jack Kennedy was elected President with help from the Mafia and a huge helping of voter fraud in West Virginia and Illinois. Is the Cohen thing really unusual or a big deal? The Clinton's are corrupt and rotten to their core. Throw them in prison. They are long overdue.

Sechel
Sechel

Trump may be in the clear but individual #1 is screwed. Pretty clear from the docs Trump directed Cohen to commit a very serious felony and there were meetings to discuss synergies with the Russians to win the election. Looks like Trump was coordinating a great deal. And why were Cohen and Manafort bypassing their lawyer and talking to the Trump administration after they they were charged and under representation? Will only get worse for Trump.

i find it interesting that Trump's legal team(Flood)never makes these arguments

Webej
Webej

In moderate articles it is bon ton to talk about how the "Russian side was involved in a long-running, systematic effort to reach out to members of the Trump Organization". However, there are no public facts supporting Kremlin involvement in "influence" operations, nor any facts supporting the Russian "hacking" of the DNC/Podesta emails. In fact, there is nothing beyond narrative spin. All the face-book posts produced so far from a click-bait farms purporting to sow discord among the electorate (otherwise Americans would be standing shoulder to shoulder united !?) prove nothing, and certainly nothing to do with the Kremlin. What has come to light is that America and England spend billions on just the kind of thing they accuse Russia of doing more effectively ("hybrid warfare", stuxNet, etc); not to mention millions of third-world poor being paid to generate "likes". All the indignation is projection, seeing oneself in the mirror but concluding that you are seeing an ugly person through a window. Separate all "intelligence community" innuendo and misdirection and the tons of narrative spin, and drill down to publicly verifiable facts, and there is not a shred of evidence for any of it. Balanced? my ass. Yes, secret services of other countries are also involved in (cyber-) espionage, of course, but that is not news.

hmk
hmk

The only thing I see Trump being guilty of is paying hush money to whores. To make that a felony is ridiculous I am sure he is one of many politicians that have done this. You would think the govt would prosecute the whores who blackmailed him as this is a crime also. If he paid the money from campaign funds he is in deep shit and deserves what is coming. When is Mueller going after Clapper and the NSA director who lied to congress about surveillance on US citizens. How about Rice who went out and lied for Obama about the Bengazi attack. This whole thing is indeed a witch hunt by the deep state. We are such Hippocrates, we try to influence elections throughout the world and our pointing to the Russians minuscule attempt is a pathetic example propagated by the deep state propaganda machine. I would bet the Russians were also in contact with the Clintons as she looked like the obvious winner and they have already bribed her in the past. The fact that crooked Hiliary and Bill are not in prison are proof of the rampant corruption pervasive throughout the govt.

Casual_Observer
Casual_Observer

When the economy tanks he will leave the White House on his own. If he were smart he would have declared economic victory and left in 2018. Once the full truth of his transgressions is revealed in the form of text messages and phone calls then we will know what transpired. Even then he wont be able to deny anything. The NSA probably has given this information to Mueller and now the clock is ticking.

pi314
pi314

We have a "special prosecutor" going after the President's inner circle, his attorney, his businesses, and his privileged attorney-client communications. Would any previous and future President survive such scrutiny? The answer is obvious.

abend237-04
abend237-04

I've tuned them all out since the open mic transmitted Obama's obvious, blatant treason to all the world and it was studiously ignored, "...I'll have more flexibility after the election...

Schaap60
Schaap60

There is so little information that is actually confirmed at this point, the LAWFARE article is right to be cautious. My concern is about the US and its democratic structures more generally. First, if Trump's only crime is paying hush money, is that fundamentally different than Bill Clinton's perjury about sex allegations? Is the difference between State and Federal law really significant? Men lying about extra-marital affairs is not really a new thing. If Trump paid the hush money from campaign funds, that is just dumb given the extent to which his campaign was self-funded. However, people do dumb things all the time.

Mish is right though, Trump haters and supporters will have the same (opposite) reaction to all this. Trump's supporters will point out the obviously unpunished elites like Hillary Clinton and John Clapper who appear above the law. Why can Clapper lie to Congress, but not Cohen? Unless Mueller has clear evidence of significant wrongdoing, Trump supporters will not view any prosecution as legitimate. Trump detractors will react similarly to any failure to prosecute.

It's been 2 years and we still don't know much concrete. If there is evidence, show it. Otherwise, why can't the Democrats focus on policies that will help them win in 2020? You know, fight Trump in the political sphere.

In the longer term, I think this farce shows just how out of touch the political elites of both parties are from ordinary Americans. They are still pissed voters had the audacity to elect someone from outside their group. They may manage to force Trump out of office, but at the cost of a significant portion of the electorate concluding our democracy is a sham. At that point, those voters are unlikely to fold back into the status quo and our politics will become even more radicalized with unknown consequences for the future.

RonJ
RonJ

"What makes this document extraordinary is the government’s restatement of the most striking portion of Cohen’s August admissions in its own voice: Cohen indicated that he committed campaign finance violations at the direction of the candidate who conducted an “ultimately successful” campaign for president."

Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz noted that Trump can give any amount to his campaign, which includes giving hush money.

wootendw
wootendw

"Mueller is showing more of his hand on the Russia link, but it’s becoming clear he’s got one."

There is no evidence that I have seen indicating any Russia interference with 'our' elections to any significant degree, so the Russian link is BS. Russian intelligence certainly would NOT dump intelligence to Wikileaks, as they have been accused of doing regarding Hillary's or Podesta's emails, anymore than the US IC will reveal its 'methods' by releasing evidence of Russian interference.

Sechel
Sechel

We are in uncharted territory. Campaign finance rules and violations are typically technical in nature but the Southern District of NY went out of its way to spell out the seriousness of what Trump directed Cohen to do. No President has ever done something this nefarious or egregious.

They say a President can't be indicted but that's not really accurate. He can't be tried. We could very well see an indictment with a trial delayed till Trump leaves office. Getting re-elected and having the statute of limitations run out would not be justice.

JL1
JL1

This was supposed to be about russian collusion.

Is there russian collusian?

NO, then it all becomes fruits of the poisonous tree.

AG Sessions should have NEVER recused himself, Sessions recused himself at the instruction of Obama era DOJ ethics officials some of whom were involved in the operation to get Trump while Obama was still president through the FISA court abuse and surveillance of Trump campaign.

Then there was the UK influence in the US election with the dodgy dossier with wild claims concocted up by MI-6 British spy that was originally paid for by the Clinton campaign and then used to get a FISA warrant for surveillance ofTrump campaign and circulated to US government to be used against Trump politically and media as some proof so they would report it.

The mess is so huge that if you want to get a glimpse spend 10 hours reading this site:

Also Obama made huge campaign violations also and admitted to them by paying huge fines:

KidHorn
KidHorn

Trumps half way through his term. Even if Mueller had something that might cause Trump to leave office, it would likely take 6 months or more and the reward would be Pence as president. So they save a year to year and a half of Trump at best.

At some point, the democrats need to focus on winning in 2020 and stop this nonsense. The ROI for getting Trump expelled drops by the day. The dems can win easily in 2020. All they need to do is nominate someone who can win Ohio or Michigan, or Pennsylvania, or Florida. Do 2% better than Hillary did in 2016. Instead they focus on getting Trump kicked out. That ship has sailed. Time to move on.

boos
boos

the <a href="http://google.com/">game</a> thanks