You TeaPublicans need to understand: Mueller’s investigation is the LEAST of Trump’s worries

Every single aspect of Trump’s criminal family and criminal history is now under serious investigation.

Special Counsel Mueller is looking into ties between Russia and the Trump campaign for interfering with US election.  But that’s small potatoes compared to the rest of the investigations.

The attorney general of New York is investigating:
  • Trump Foundation.  Turns out, the Trump “Charitable”Foundation did donate a bit of money to charities, but, the bulk of the foundation’s work was laundering money from donors to Trump’s bank account.  The fines could amount to tens of millions.
  • Tax evasion.  Trump’s organizations have used various schemes to avoid paying local and state taxes.  He could owe hundreds of millions in back taxes.
  • Using real estate development incentive money to line his pocket.  Fines could reach into tens of millions.
Federal agencies are investigating:
  • Trump’s income taxes — personal and business — as well as similar taxes for every member of his family.  Penalties include jail time and tens of millions.
  • Trump’s inaugural committee scam.  Obama and Bush inaugural committees raised and spent $40-60 million.  Trump — whose inaugural was the smallest in modern history — raised and spent over $100 million.  Now it turns out much of the money was funneled into his pocket, through his businesses.
  • Trump Foundation.
  • Trump’s financial ties to Russia; Saudi Arabia, other MidEast Arab states; Deutsche Bank; Bank of Cuyprus.  These investigations focus on Trump’s organizations laundering money and not reporting foreign investments to the SEC.
  • Trump’s campaign committee’s use of donations to pay hush money to prostitutes, porn stars, and Playmates.
And — the press is now looking into:
  • Trump’s sexual harassment of teen girls at his various pageants.

Even if he survives until the 2020 election, he will not be re-elected and likely will face prosecution as soon as he is out of office.

Russia, Saudi Arabia, hush money, the inaugural, taxes, condos, university and the entire 30 years of dirty dealing, cheating, lying, stealing, the blood on their hands, the stealing of children from their families, all of it and… being the bottom of the bottom of the bottom. And now it’s all beginning to crumble around them. The long arm is bending towards justice and karma is walking up the pathway to make a long overdue knock on the door.

Happy Holidays…rest up because the New Year is going to be a doozy.

Investigations: Trump campaign; Trump inaugural committee; Trump-Russia; Russia-NRA; and now, the Trump family business

Donald Trump’s week has gone from bad to worse to full-blown panic. First was the humiliation of being rejected by Nick Ayers, current chief of staff for Mike Pence, who not only said he wouldn’t be taking the top job in the White House, but that he was leaving the administration entirely to go back to Georgia this month. Trump appears to be having a difficult time filling his chief of staff role, something others have equated to being a cabinet-level position because of the prominence this role plays in any presidential administration. Things got so bad in the search for a new chief of staff, Trump ultimately announced John Kelly would be sticking around longer than anticipated.

But, that humiliation is child’s play compared to the mounting criminal investigations surrounding Donald Trump, Donald Trump Jr., Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner, Eric Trump, and the cast of criminal deplorables they’ve surrounded themselves with—a group who is flipping on them one-by-one. Case in point, the Wall Street Journal reports federal investigators in the Manhattan U.S. attorney’s office have launched a criminal probe into the business of Donald Trump’s inauguration committee, which raised a whopping $107 million. The investigation came about as a result of materials seized by the FBI during raids on Michael Cohen’s various properties in April. It seems Cohen’s habit of recording conversations is going to be the undoing of them all.

In April raids of Mr. Cohen’s home, office and hotel room, Federal Bureau of Investigation agents obtained a recorded conversation between Mr. Cohen and Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, a former adviser to Melania Trump, who worked on the inaugural events. In the recording, Ms. Wolkoff expressed concern about how the inaugural committee was spending money, according to a person familiar with the Cohen investigation.

The Wall Street Journal couldn’t determine when the conversation between Mr. Cohen and Ms. Wolkoff took place, or why it was recorded. The recording is now in the hands of federal prosecutors in Manhattan, a person familiar with the matter said.

Why should the Trump world be so worried about a recording between Stephanie Winston Wolkoff and Michael Cohen? Because every single thing about her role in the inauguration is a giant red flag. Wolkoff, who was an unpaid advisor to Melania Trump, created an event company in December 2016. A mere six weeks later, the Trump Inauguration committee paid that company $26 million, the largest payment to any vendor involved in the inauguration. Wolkoff enjoyed special access to the White House until the news broke about the huge amount paid to her start-up company. Melania Trump was quick to publicly distance herself from any of the work her advisor had done around the inauguration.

Two people with direct knowledge of Ms. Winston Wolkoff’s role, who asked to remain anonymous, said she often invoked Mrs. Trump’s name with transition officials as she delivered instructions for the inauguration. But Stephanie Grisham, a spokeswoman for Mrs. Trump, said the first lady “had no involvement” with the inaugural committee “and had no knowledge of how funds were spent.”

The Wall Street Journal reports investigators are looking into three areas of the inauguration committee’s use of funds and fundraising:

  • If donations were solicited with the promise of political favors—a violation of federal corruption laws
  • If funds were diverted from the inauguration for other purposes—a violation of federal law
  • If the Trump inauguration committee accepted foreign money in exchange for access and influence—a violation of federal law

Investigators have already questioned at least one Trump inaugural donor who hired Michael Cohen for “consulting.”

Manhattan federal prosecutors in recent months asked Tennessee developer Franklin L. Haney for documents related to a $1 million donation he made to Mr. Trump’s inaugural committee in December 2016, according to a person familiar with the matter. Mr. Haney in early April hired Mr. Cohen, at the time serving as Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, to help obtain a $5 billion loan from the Energy Department for a nuclear-power project, the Journal has previously reported. Mr. Haney was asked for documents related to his correspondence with members of the committee, meeting calendars and paperwork for the donation, the person said. A loan application by Mr. Haney’s company is still pending at the Energy Department.

If those criminal inquiries weren’t enough, the New York Times reports federal investigators are also probing Trump’s America First super PAC, the place where many of the Trump administration castaways have landed cushy, high-paying jobs for doing … something. Some of the people who’ve landed jobs at the America First PAC include Trump’s former personal bodyguard Keith Schiller, who is reportedly earning a $15,000 per month salary for security “consulting,” and former Sheriff David Clarke, who campaigned heavily with Donald Trump and is now at the center of the Russian spy case after he accepted a trip to Russia—where he was wined and dined by the redheaded Russian spy Maria Butina and her boss, Alexander Torshin. It’s notable that Clarke’s official role in America First is “spokesman,” but he’s rarely even mentioned the super PAC on his social media feed, although he does occasionally retweet the America First Twitter account. When Omarosa Manigault-Newman left the White House, she says she too was offered a $15,000 per month job at the America First PAC by Trump’s daughter-in-law, Lara Trump, wife of Eric Trump and senior advisor to Trump’s 2020 re-election team.

Both investigations are looking into whether people from Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates were funneling money to the inauguration fund and the super PAC. In fact, they are looking at some very specific and suspicious meetings with people from those countries. From the New York Times:

Prosecutors from New York and from Mr. Mueller’s team have asked witnesses whether anyone from Qatar or other Middle Eastern countries also contributed money, perhaps using American intermediaries. Among other issues, they asked about a Mediterranean cruise that Mr. Barrack and Mr. Manafort took after Mr. Manafort was fired in August 2016 from the Trump campaign because of a scandal over his previous work for pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine. Mr. Manafort was in serious financial trouble at the time, and Mr. Barrack, who has an extensive business network in the Persian Gulf, may have been attempting to help him find clients.

On the cruise, the pair met one of the world’s richest men, Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani, the former prime minister of Qatar. Until 2013, Mr. Al Thani presided over the country’s $230 billion sovereign wealth fund. He remains a highly influential member of the nation’s governing royal family.

Investigators also sought information from a businessman, Rashid Al Malik, an associate of Mr. Barrack’s who heads a private investment firm in the United Arab Emirates, according to a person familiar with the inquiry. Mr. Malik, whose lawyer did not immediately respond to a request for comment, has been described as close to a key figure in the U.A.E.’s government.

Paul Manafort left the Trump campaign in August 2016 after it came to light that he had accepted $12 million in secret payments from a Ukrainian politician. The response from the Trump campaign? Dispatch a friend of the campaign to take him on a cruise and line-up meetings with the richest people in the world. They should’ve been doing everything they could to distance themselves from Paul Manafort, so, why weren’t they?

Any way you look at it, it now seems increasingly apparent that Donald Trump and his family have been overseeing a criminal enterprise, one that was ignored—or even enabled—by establishment Republicans in Congress who looked the other way.

Finally, it should not go unnoticed that none of these investigations would be happening if one woman hadn’t stood up to tell her story. It was Stormy Daniels’s case that prompted the original investigation into the felonies that Michael Cohen eventually plead guilty to, and for which he received a 36-month prison sentence. It was that investigation that prompted the raid of Cohen’s home and office, which led to a treasure trove for the investigation. In the end, Daniels may just be the reason Donald Trump and/or some of his offspring find themselves in prison. Just one more incredible footnote to the bizarre moment in American history we find ourselves in today.

No one wants to work for Trump

Although it was reported on Friday that former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was the front runner to be Trump’s next chief of staff, Christie abruptly announced that he was taking himself out of the running. (Dec 14)

This is not good news for Trump: Mueller seals entire floor of DC federal courthouse for grand jury session

On Friday (Dec 14)  the entire fifth floor of a Washington D.C. court room was shut down, so that investigators in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe could obtain a subpoena in secrecy.

Journalists were shooed away, Politico reported, and hungrily waited for scoops—apparently none came.

As Mueller’s team waged battle behind closed doors, there was speculation that Trump himself was the target of the subpoena.

“At every level, this matter has commanded the immediate and close attention of the judges involved — suggesting that no ordinary witness and no ordinary issue is involved,” former federal prosecutor Nelson Cunningham wrote in Politico previously.

Another legal analyst told Politico that the secretive probe was odd.

“It’s not the norm, that’s for sure,” Manuel Retureta, a Washington-based defense lawyer said.

Trump’s inaugural committee was a scam — funneled most of the donations to the Trump Family Criminal Business

When it came out this year that President Donald Trump’s inaugural committee raised and spent unprecedented amounts, people wondered where all that money went.

It turns out one beneficiary was Trump himself.

The inauguration paid the Trump Organization for rooms, meals and event space at the company’s Washington hotel, according to interviews as well as internal emails and receipts reviewed by WNYC and ProPublica.

During the planning, Ivanka Trump, the president-elect’s eldest daughter and a senior executive with the Trump Organization, was involved in negotiating the price the hotel charged the 58th Presidential Inaugural Committee for venue rentals. A top inaugural planner emailed Ivanka and others at the company to “express my concern” that the hotel was overcharging for its event spaces, worrying of what would happen “when this is audited.”

If the Trump hotel charged more than the going rate for the venues, it could violate tax law. The inaugural committee’s payments to the Trump Organization and Ivanka Trump’s role have not been previously reported or disclosed in public filings.

“The fact that the inaugural committee did business with the Trump Organization raises huge ethical questions about the potential for undue enrichment,” said Marcus Owens, the former head of the division of the Internal Revenue Service that oversees nonprofits.

Inaugural workers had other misgivings. Rick Gates, then the deputy to the chairman of the inaugural, asked some vendors to take payments directly from donors, rather than through the committee, according to two people with direct knowledge. The vendors felt the request was unusual and concerning, according to these people, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they signed confidentiality agreements. It is not clear whether any vendors took him up on his request.

The revelations about the inauguration’s finances show how Trump blurred the lines between his political and business lives, as the real estate mogul ascended to the presidency.

On Thursday, The Wall Street Journal reported that federal prosecutors in New York have opened a criminal investigation into whether the inaugural committee misspent money and whether donors gave in return for political favors, citing people familiar with the matter. In addition, The New York Times reported that prosecutors are examining whether foreigners illegally funnelled money to the inauguration.

Peter Mirijanian, a spokesman for Ivanka Trump’s ethics lawyer, said: “When contacted by someone working on the inauguration, Ms. Trump passed the inquiry on to a hotel official and said only that any resulting discussions should be at a ‘fair market rate.’ Ms. Trump was not involved in any additional discussions.”

Mirijanian did not provide evidence that Ivanka Trump sought a fair market rate.

A spokeswoman for the inaugural committee said it “is not aware of any pending investigations and has not been contacted by any prosecutors. We simply have no evidence the investigation exists.” The White House and a lawyer for Gates did not immediately respond to requests for comment. A spokesman for the Manhattan federal prosecutors’ office declined to comment. The Trump Organization did not comment.

“That doesn’t have anything to do with the president or the first lady,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters on Thursday night, when asked about the story in the Journal.

President-elect Trump was repeatedly briefed on inaugural planning and specific events, according to one committee worker with direct knowledge. WNYC and ProPublica have seen presentations that were shown to the president-elect, complete with renderings and floor plans.

Trump’s 2017 inauguration committee, which was chaired by his friend the businessman Tom Barrack, raised nearly $107 million from donors including the casino magnate Sheldon Adelson and AT&T. The January 2017 festivities cost almost twice President Obama’s 2009 inauguration, previously the most expensive. The nonprofit that planned Trump’s inauguration booked many spaces in the Trump International Hotel, located in the Old Post Office building near the White House, including a ballroom, hotel rooms and work spaces, as well as paying for meals there, according to several people who worked on the inauguration.

How the inaugural committee managed to spend all the money it raised remains a mystery, nearly two years after the event. While groups that support political candidates or issues must publicly detail their spending, an inaugural committee is required to list only its top five contractors. That leaves about $40 million unaccounted for.

Greg Jenkins, who led George W. Bush’s second inauguration, was perplexed by the Trump team’s mammoth fundraising haul. “They had a third of the staff and a quarter of the events and they raise at least twice as much as we did,” Jenkins told WNYC and ProPublica this year. “So there’s the obvious question: Where did it go? I don’t know.”

As planning for the inauguration was underway in December 2016, Ivanka Trump was still an executive vice president at the Trump Organization. But she was reportedly preparing to move to Washington and take on a greater public role. She now serves as an adviser to the president.

Around the middle of the month, with Inauguration Day scarcely a month away, Ivanka Trump was asked to help resolve a dispute between inaugural planners and her family’s Washington hotel, according to emails.

The problem: Organizers thought the hotel was charging too much money.

Emails show that Ivanka Trump connected Gates with Mickael Damelincourt, managing director of the hotel. Damelincourt responded with a new rate of $175,000 per day for use of the Presidential Ballroom and meeting rooms, offering a $700,000 charge for four days of use.

It is not clear what the earlier price was, but Damelincourt’s revised rate did not satisfy one of the lead organizers of the inauguration, Stephanie Winston Wolkoff.

In an email to Ivanka Trump and Gates, Wolkoff, who had previously managed the Metropolitan Museum’s annual gala and fashion shows at Lincoln Center, expressed discomfort with the price.

“I wanted to follow up on our conversation and express my concern,” Wolkoff wrote in the December email.

“These events are in PE’s [the president-elect’s] honor at his hotel and one of them is for family and close friends. Please take into consideration that when this is audited it will become public knowledge,” she wrote, noting that other locations would be provided to the inaugural committee for free.

“I understand that compared to the original pricing this is great but we should look at the whole context,” Wolkoff wrote, suggesting a day rate of $85,000, less than half of the Trump hotel’s offer.

A former Trump hotel staffer confirmed that the inaugural committee paid for inaugural week events at the hotel. It’s not clear what price the committee ultimately paid. Previous media coverage has focused on spending by outside groups at the Trump hotel but it was not known that the official inaugural committee itself spent significant sums there.

Wolkoff also raised concerns about spending in a conversation with then-Trump attorney Michael Cohen, according to the story in the Journal. Federal prosecutors have a recording of that conversation, according to the Journal. The Times story suggests that conversation took place well after the inauguration.

Wolkoff, who is a friend of first lady Melania Trump, did not respond to a request for comment. Wolkoff’s firm, WIS Media Partners, was the inauguration’s highest-paid contactor, according to the committee’s tax filing. Wolkoff was scrutinized in media accounts this year because the firm received nearly $26 million. Most of that of the money was passed on to subcontractors, according to a person familiar with the spending. It is possible that payments to the Trump hotel were included in that sum.

If the Trump hotel charged the inaugural committee above-market rates, it could violate tax rules, according to Owens, the nonprofit tax expert who is now a partner at the law firm Loeb & Loeb.

If a person with “substantial influence” over a nonprofit group charges the group above-market rates in a transaction with their outside business, the IRS can impose steep fines. In this case, Donald Trump could qualify as a person with such influence. Should the tax agency find that a violation occurred, the Trump Organization would have to refund any overcharge and the inaugural committee would be hit with a 25 percent tax on the money, Owens said.

Owens added that IRS audits of nonprofits are increasingly rare. Since the inaugural committee was incorporated in Virginia, the state attorney general there could also have standing to investigate its operations.

A spokeswoman for the inaugural committee said its finances “were fully audited internally and independently and are fully accounted. … These were funds raised from private individuals and were then spent in accordance with the law and the expectations of the donors.”

The inaugural committee spent money at the Trump International in Washington in other ways as well. Many workers came from California and New York and stayed at the hotel, eating their meals there and holding meetings. Receipts reviewed by WNYC and ProPublica show they typically paid about $350 a night. According to an inaugural worker, 15 to 20 inaugural workers stayed at the hotel most nights for roughly a month in the run-up to the inauguration, at a total cost of what could be more than $200,000.

The professional resumes of top Trump hotel staffers indicate they worked closely with the presidential inaugural committee. The hotel’s director of food and beverage says on his LinkedIn profile that he was “working with PIC [Presidential Inaugural Committee] during the 2017 Inauguration” and a “related series of very special events.”

The day before Trump’s swearing in, the inaugural committee hosted a Leadership Luncheon in the hotel’s Presidential Ballroom, featuring his cabinet nominees and major donors. “This is a gorgeous room,” the president-elect told the crowd. “A total genius must have built this place.” And the night of the inauguration itself, Trump’sfamily and close allies such as Sean Hannity celebrated into the early morning at an exclusive after-party in the Trump hotel’s grand lobby. Thousands of red, white and blue balloons were released from the rafters.

Some vendors for the inauguration became concerned when Gates, a top inaugural committee official, asked them to take payments outside of the normal committee invoicing process, according to two people with knowledge of what happened. He proposed that they be paid for their work directly from a would-be donor rather than by the committee. Gates told the vendors that the inaugural committee had received pledges of more money than was initially targeted, and, therefore, he wished to reduce the publicly reported sum raised.

Gates did not respond to a request for comment. Last February, he pleaded guilty to unrelated charges of lying to the FBI and conspiracy, as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s inquiry.

Over the summer, Gates was cross examined about his work for the inauguration in the trial of his former boss, Paul Manafort. Gates conceded that he might have charged personal expenses to the committee. “It’s possible,” he said.

In a separate episode this year, a U.S. lobbyist pleaded guilty to helping a Ukrainian businessman and member of Parliament buy tickets to the inauguration, in violation of rules barring the committee from taking foreign money. The inaugural committee was not accused of wrongdoing in that case.

Sorry to tell you this, Trumpsters, but his entire life is one big LIE

There was plenty of awful legal news for President Trump this week, but the worst may have come from an official who hasn’t yet been sworn in.

Letitia James, who will become the New York state attorney general next month, told NBC she plans to “use every area of the law to investigate President Trump and his business transactions and that of his family as well.” James also said she hopes to pursue state charges against Trump associates whom the president might pardon for federal crimes.

No wonder Trump was so untethered when Chuck and Nancy dropped by.

Trump has been walking a tightrope of lies all his adult life, and now he is teetering. He has inflated his wealth. He has aggrandized his business acumen. He has managed to convince supporters that he is a respected businessman who brilliantly commanded a vast real estate empire. In a fanciful 2015 statement of his net worth, he claimed that his brand alone — just the name Trump — was worth $3 billion.

I wonder what it’s worth now.

In reality, Trump has never come anywhere near the top rank of New York real estate developers. He ran not a huge, sprawling enterprise but a small family firm in which he and his children had direct control. He was seen as so unreliable that genuine moguls refused to have anything to do with him. When he tried to go big — risking everything on casino development in Atlantic City — he failed miserably despite his father’s efforts to bail him out. His bankers were left holding the bag, and now major financial institutions won’t lend the Trump Organization a dime. It was Trump’s undeniable skill as a television performer carnival barker on “The Apprentice” that saved him from total ruin.

Now the law is beginning to squeeze him from all directions. His former consigliere, Michael Cohen, was sentenced Wednesday to three years in prison. One of the crimes Cohen confessed to was violating federal campaign finance laws by orchestrating six-figure payments to a Playboy model and an adult-film star, in the weeks before the 2016 election, to ensure their silence about sexual encounters they say they had with Trump. Cohen says he did this at Trump’s direction.

Trump’s see-no-evil allies dismiss Cohen as a proven liar about other matters. But also Wednesday, the company that owns the National Enquirer — American Media Inc. (AMI), which is run by Trump’s close friend David Pecker — admitted playing a major role in that same hush-money scheme. The aim, according to the company, was to help Trump win the election.

Trump responded by tweeting that “I never directed Michael Cohen to break the law.” But in the past, the president has also said that there weren’t any hush-money payments; that if such payments were made, he didn’t know about them; and that the payments, which totaled $280,000, were a “simple private transaction.”

The bottom line is that two witnesses, Cohen and AMI, independently now implicate the president of the United States in the commission of two felonies.

The campaign finance case is being brought by federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York. Back in Washington, meanwhile, special counsel Robert S. Mueller III has been busy, as well.

We learned this week that Michael Flynn, Trump’s short-lived national security adviser, has met with Mueller’s team 19 times to tell them what he knows. We also learned that Cohen has been eagerly cooperating with the Mueller probe. This means that at least two people in a position to know whether collusion with the Russians took place are singing like songbirds.

Potentially more serious for Trump and his family in the long run, however, is what the New York state probe might discover.

How much of the Trump Organization’s revenue has come from the sale of luxury real estate to oligarchs from Russia and other kleptocracies? Where did these buyers’ money come from? Why was Deutsche Bank — recently raided by German authorities and under investigation for money laundering — the only major financial institution willing to lend money to Trump in recent years? Where did Trump’s company get the large amounts of cash used in several transactions that Post reporters uncovered? How much commingling of funds was there between Trump’s company and his eponymous foundation?

Trump’s longtime accountant, Allen Weisselberg, has turned state’s evidence. He may be the Virgil who guides federal, state and local prosecutors through a Trumpian inferno of shell companies and opaque transactions. The outlines of Trump’s fate begin to emerge.

Fox won’t tell you this, but, trust me — the Trump criminal enterprise is going down

FBI raids offices of Trump’s former tax attorney — again

Donald Trump’s former Chicago tax attorney, Alderman Ed Burke, had his City Hall office raided by the FBI on Thursday — and it wasn’t the first time he had an office searched by the bureau.

NBC5 political editor Carol Marin tweeted Thursday evening that Burke’s City Hall office was “re-raided” by the bureau — the second time his office had been raided in a month after the FBI searched it on November 29.

On December 10, the Chicago Sun-Times reported that the FBI had also seized Burke’s cell phone. The same day, the newspaper also reported that the long-serving alderman’s  top political aide was questioned by the feds before the late November raid.

Burke, who’s been an alderman for almost 50 years, did Trump’s property taxes from 2006 until 2018.

 

Trump has just screwed up his attorney-client privilege — goddam but this clown is stupid, stupid, stupid

The former chief of staff at the FBI explained how President Donald Trump may be committing a critical mistake in his legal defense against having conspired to commit felony campaign finance violations.

Chuck Rosenberg explained the blunder on MSNBC “Deadline: White House” with anchor Nicolle Wallace on Thursday.

“Donald Trump has been engaged in a day-long rolling, rambling and rage-filled commentary on his own legal fate and on the sentencing of his former fixer and lawyer,” Wallace noted. “Coming in multiple tweets. his central contention is that he isn’t a crook.”

“The president not even able to keep his supporters at Fox News quiet about the clear and mounting evidence that he may very well face criminal liability in the cases out of the Southern District of New York which may explain his private concerns about impeachment as NBC News reports today,” Wallace explained.

“By the way, this is only the latest iteration of his defense. As I recall, the first defense was, I have no idea what in the heck you’re talking about, this never happened,” Rosenberg noted. “So we’re at a different defense and it’s also unavailing.”

“By the way, I think he’s also — he the president — has also hinted there’s an advice of counsel defense. And Dan [Goldman] knows this better than anybody, but there’s a fascinating problem for the president,” he explained. “If he really wants to travel down this path, which is if you are going to assert advice of counsel, you’re also effectively waving any attorney/client privilege.”

“Put aside the fact that advice of counsel defenses almost never work, the president may have just opened up a whole new avenue of hurt legally, if he really wants to assert that he relied on [Michael] Cohen,” he continued. “I don’t think that’s going to work, and I don’t think it’s wise.”

 

Now turns out that Trump’s inauguration was illegal

Prosecutors in the Southern District of New York are investigating Donald Trump’s inaugural committee, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.

Citing “people familiar with the matter,” The Journal reports the criminal probe is misspent funds and “also is examining whether some of the committee’s top donors gave money in exchange for access to the incoming Trump administration, policy concessions or to influence official administration positions.”

Donations in exchange for favors could violate anti-corruption law.

The committee was registered as a nonprofit and spent a record $107 million dollars.

“In April raids of Mr. Cohen’s home, office and hotel room, Federal Bureau of Investigation agents obtained a recorded conversation between Mr. Cohen and Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, a former adviser to Melania Trump, who worked on the inaugural events,” The Journal reported. “In the recording, Ms. Wolkoff expressed concern about how the inaugural committee was spending money, according to a person familiar with the Cohen investigation.”

“The inaugural committee has publicly identified vendors accounting for $61 million of the $103 million it spent, and it hasn’t provided details on those expenses, according to tax filings,” The Journal added. “The committee raised more than double what former President Barack Obama’s first inaugural fund reported raising in 2009, the previous record. President Trump’s funds came largely from wealthy donors and corporations who gave $1 million or more—including casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson, AT&T Inc. and Boeing Co., according to Federal Election Commission filings.”

The federal government has a key cooperating witness in the investigation.

Rick Gates, Trump’s 2016 deputy campaign manager, served as deputy chairman of the inauguration.

Gates has been cooperating with federal prosecutors since a February plea deal.

 

GEN John Kelly tells friends he is happy to be free from the Trump curse

Outgoing White House chief of staff John Kelly has reportedly begun revealing to friends his feelings about leaving the Trump administration.

CNN’s Jim Acosta reported on-air Thursday that a source close to the White House said Kelly “is confiding to friends that he’s relieved to be leaving” his post.

Tensions between Kelly and President Donald Trump were rumored for months prior to reports that the retired Marine general will be leaving the White House.

Veteran journalist Bob Woodward wrote in “Fear,” his nonfiction look into the Trump White House, that Kelly thinks Trump is both “crazy” and an “idiot.”

Amid ample speculation about who will replace Kelly, HuffPost reported that Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner is in the running for the next White House chief of staff.

House GOP leaves town . . . without approving Trump’s wall . . forget the wall, it’s dead

There was some big talk on Wednesday from House Republicans about how they totally have enough votes to approve the $5 billion in border wall funding Individual 1 is demanding the government be shut down over. They so much have all the Republican votes they need, they were definitely going to have a vote on that this week.

Or not. They’re leaving town today, with no votes scheduled now until next Wednesday afternoon, two days before the partial government shutdown deadline. They are on standby to return if needed. But they’re not slinking off because they don’t have the votes to back up Trump, Republicans insist. Nope, they could totally do it, they just don’t see any point. “Do we have the votes for a measure that includes $5 billion for the wall? Yes,” says Rep. Patrick T. McHenry (R-NC), one of the leadership team, but “The question of whether to do it is a question of wisdom and strategy and tactics, and it’s highly debatable about whether that’s the right move.” Uh-huh.

“They do not have the votes to pass the president’s proposal,” Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said of the $5 billion wall plan. Believe her. If they had the votes, they would have passed it months ago. So they seem to be at an impasse, with nominal House Speaker Paul Ryan ditching any responsibility for getting a deal made in the next eight days. Trump isn’t going to have the House backing him on his $5 billion demand, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, well, who knows what he’s doing? He continues to offer nothing more than an oblique “I’m optimistic there won’t be a government shutdown.” But he’s not scheduled to be talking to Trump, or anyone else, according to public schedules.

About 75 percent of government is already funded, so maybe they just don’t really give a damn. That’s what Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) implies. “The fact is, the vast majority of the government is not going to be shut down under any scenario,” he rationalized. “So there’s this little tiny sliver, and within that universe, anybody that is an essential employee still works. So I think this has all gotten a lot overblown.” That “tiny sliver” included tens of thousands of employees in Homeland Security, Interior, Agriculture, Justice, Commerce, Transportation and State departments and NASA. The essential employees in those departments would get the great Christmas present of having to show up for work and not getting paid for it.

Maybe they all see room for Trump backing down with his latest about how Mexico is paying for the wall anyway except it’s really still taxpayers who are on the hook because it’s money we’re “saving” because of his trade deal. What a stable genius to come up with that one.