Legal Matters

(Door Hugo Kijne te Hoboken USA)

At the beginning of the week Trump was pissed off about the leaked recording made by Michael Cohen that could prove him to be an accessory to wire fraud, conspiracy and campaign finance law violation.  To create distractions he threatened Iran with the mother of all wars and former intelligence community leaders with taking away their security clearances.  But things soon got worse for him.  It turned out that there are at least 12 more and possibly over 100 Cohen tapes, many with Trump on them and all in the possession of the Southern District of New York.  On top of this the CFO of the Trump Organization, Allen Weisselberg, was subpoenaed in the Michael Cohen investigation.  It shows the foresight of Robert Mueller to have that part of his probe sourced out.  Trump’s business practices may be outside the scope of his assignment to look into Russian election meddling, collusion and obstruction of justice, but they perfectly fall within the purview of the US Attorney in lower Manhattan, and the president cannot interfere there.  Weisselberg knows exactly where all the bodies are buried by Trump and Cohen, and since there is no such thing as accountant-client privilege he’ll undoubtedly talk.

Meanwhile Mueller started investigating Trump’s tweets, especially the ones meant to intimidate James Comey and Jeff Sessions, to see if they constitute obstruction of justice or witness tampering when coupled with the president’s demanding loyalty of Comey and blasting Sessions for having recused himself.   It was almost inevitable that sooner or later Trump’s tweets would backfire and this may be that moment.  Additionally, a judge ruled that a lawsuit filed by the State of Maryland alledging that Trump violates the emoluments clause in the US Constitution by doing business with foreign governments – which yielded him a profit of $151 million last year – is allowed to go forward, and as the legal climax of the week it became known that Michael Cohen is willing to testify that Trump knew in advance about the June 2016 meeting with Russians in Trump Tower.  If this is proven, Don Jr. would have committed perjury testifying before Congress and will be prosecuted.  These developments make obstructing the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh as Supreme Court Justice by Democrats even more important, because all these cases may end up before SCOTUS.

Trump’s growing legal problems take a toll on his sanity and that of his legal team.  The president tweeted that he expects Putin to meddle in the 2018 elections on behalf of the Democrats, after last week having denied that Putin meddles at all, and Rudy Giuliani declared that Trump would agree to be interviewed by Mueller about collusion, but not about obstruction of justice.  Hizzoner was performing for an audience of one here, because everybody knows that this is not going to happen.

In the wake of the Helsinki meeting, and partly because of the damage caused by his tariffs, Trump’s approval rating is plummeting.  Of all American voters 58% now disapprove of the president’s job performance, while a majority of 51% believes Russia has compromising information about him,  which, rather than Mueller’s ‘witch hunt,’ is the reason why Putin’s visit to the White House has been delayed until after January 2019.

Finally, in one of his funniest tweets this week Donald Trump asked: ‘what kind of a lawyer makes recordings of conversations with his clients?’  MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell responded with an even funnier question: ‘what kind of an idiot has a lawyer who records conversations with his clients?’

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