A Mafia Boss

(Door Hugo Kijne te Hoboken USA)

When the FBI raided Michael Cohen’s office, hotel room and residence, Trump called it ‘an attack on the country,’ echoing Louis Quatorze’s ‘l’état c’est moi.’  Since then an army of pundits with law degrees has made it clear that a warrant for the search could only have been issued because of strong indications that the president’s fixer, but not necessarily the president himself, had committed criminal acts.  Trump probably triggered the search when he told reporters that he knew nothing about the payment to Stormy Daniels, and it appears that the mortgage Cohen acquired to be able to make that payment and the LLC he set up in Delaware to process it are integral to the investigation.  In both cases Cohen had to disclose his reasons, and he probably didn’t tell his bank and the Delaware Commerce Department that he needed the money to cover up Trump’s boring sex with Stormy.   That doesn’t mean that other material seized by the FBI, probably even recordings of Cohen’s telephone conversations, cannot be used in various investigations.  Cohen has already announced that he’ll take the fifth, and is still desperately trying to keep the eyes of prosecutors off his files.

Moving the investigation of Cohen’s actions on behalf of Trump to the Southern District of New York is a masterful move by Mueller.  He may have been convinced that Trump would fire him for crossing the red line of accessing his business records, and it guarantees that even if he were fired the investigation will continue at the very location where Trump is most vulnerable.  Following the raid it has become evident that Trump no longer intends to sit down with Mueller, which allows the Special Counsel to release a first report well ahead of schedule.  The expectation is that that report will deal with obstruction of justice by Trump, and focus on four instances: the firing of James Comey, dangling the possibility of pardons in front of suspects like Flynn and Manafort, the memo written on Air Force One about the Trump Tower meeting with Russians, and the pressure on Jeff Sessions not to recuse himself from the Russia investigation.  The report will be issued to Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein – if Trump has not fired him in the meantime, something pundits are constantly predicting – who will then forward it to Congress that will consider if it warrants impeachment.

The president is getting advice from all corners in his orbit on how he can get rid of Rosenstein and, by proxy, of Mueller.  It ranges from ‘as head of the executive branch he can fire anybody at will,’ what Trump himself seems to believe, to Alan Dershowitz’s more careful suggestion that Rosenstein should recuse himself because of his role in the firing of Comey.  In between lies the option that Trump could repeal the Federal Regulation that governs Special Counsel investigations.

Anything Trump decides to do with regards to Rosenstein and Mueller however, except for letting them serve and finish their job, will only strengthen the perception that he is obstructing justice, and that explains the obvious frustration gushing out of Trump’s public statements.  He’s going back and forth on firing Rosenstein, but also on rejoining the TTP, bombing Syria and tariffs on imports from China.

And the president’s frustration will only increase when James Comey, whose tell-all book ‘A Higher Loyalty’ comes out next Tuesday, starts his publicity campaign this coming weekend.  Comey is not holding anything back in his criticism, even comparing Trump to the mafia bosses he prosecuted in a previous life.

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