Originally posted to Facebook in April 2018.

This is what the news feels like every day atm.

1. Yesterday morning, Donald Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen was raided by the FBI on orders from the South New York U.S. attorney’s office and made off with all kinds of documentation including attorney-client privileged communications. In retaliation, Donald Trump has threatened to fire the Special Counsel Robert Mueller, the Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, and complained bitterly in a White House press junket that this raid is “an attack on the country” and a “witch-hunt”.

2. It’s very difficult to begin to comprehend just how serious this is. Obtaining a warrant for privileged attorney-client communications requires the prosecutor to show probable cause to suspect that a crime has been committed *by the attorney* and that there is a risk that the subject of the warrant would attempt to destroy evidence if they were simply subpoenaed, and requires the sign-offs of a federal judge and the US Attorney General himself. Various Republican and Trump appointees agreed that whatever they submitted was compelling enough that they were willing to face the public humiliation of Trump’s wrath and the ending of their careers for the sake of justice. Whatever the FBI are looking for, it is really, really serious.

3. Whatever happens to Donald Trump, Michael Cohen’s been heading for a fall for a long time, ever since he issued a public statement that out of the goodness of his heart and touching concern for his client, he remortgaged his house to pay off Stormy Daniels $130,000 without Donald Trump’s knowledge, or consent. One has to assume that’s not true, both because that’s utterly stupid, and also there’s an email floating around in which Michael Cohen complains about Trump not giving him the money afterwards. If it isn’t true, then Michael Cohen made an undeclared monetary expenditure on behalf of the Trump campaign, which is a breach of campaign finance regulations. If it *is* true, then he made an undeclared in-kind donation to the Trump campaign – which is a breach of campaign finance regulations. Also, making a non-disclosure agreement on behalf of your client without telling them is a breach of the ethics rules of the New York State Bar Association and can get you disbarred from legal practice altogether. Michael Cohen was in big trouble the minute he issued that statement and now we are seeing the first signs of it.

4. Amid all the headlines of Stormy Daniels and other women Donald Trump has philandered with, it’s easy to forget that Michael Cohen is *also* a subject of the Russia investigation, and although the details are vague, appears to have had some kind of involvement with what appears to be suspicious overseas activity on behalf of the Trump Organisation in Georgia, Kazakhstan, and Russia. Something something proposed Trump hotel in Moscow. Although the warrant was obtained by the US Attorney’s office, whatever information they find in Michael Cohen’s documents that has any relationship to that aspect of the FBI investigation, they can hand right over with no further scrutiny. This means that Michael Cohen and Donald Trump now have no idea what Mueller does and does not know about their dealings for the last thirty years.

5. Trump appears to believe that if he could just fire Robert Mueller, the investigation would just go away. In reality, the FBI opened the investigation before a Special Counsel was appointed and it will continue if he is fired. The purpose of Robert Mueller is about the efficient and effective use of resources and not that he personally embodies the investigation and it would die with him. Even if Trump fired Jeff Sessions, Rod Rosenstein, and Robert Mueller’s entire legal team along with Robert Mueller himself today, the FBI would simply assign more lawyers to the case and keep digging. That is literally their job.

6. Donald Trump keeps plaintively whining that there was no collusion and that this is all a witch-hunt against him. This may be what he imagined himself doing to Hilary Clinton, investigating, investigating and never concluding, but the reality of the situation is that Alex Van Der Zwaan, a Dutch lawyer and the son-in-law of one of Russia’s wealthiest men has already been convicted of misleading the FBI about Rick Gates and is currently sitting in a U.S. jail *right now*. Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign manager is indicted on 30 charges and heading to trial this autumn, and has been put under full house arrest because a federal judge ruled it was very possible he was going to be spending the rest of his life in prison and poses a flight risk. Michael Flynn has already pled guilty to lying to the FBI in order to avoid charges relating to his ridiculous plan to secretly kidnap and rendition a Turkish opposition leader for $15 million. Even if the Mueller investigation stopped tomorrow, it would already have been worth it.

7. Except that it’s not going to stop tomorrow. 288 people have now been caught up in this investigation and despite my daily consumption of this serial teledrama, I still do not know what is coming down the line for Donald Trump. I’m not sure he knows anymore. We still don’t know why his campaign had over 70 documented contacts with Russian representatives. We don’t know why Donald Trump refuses to hear a bad word about Vladimir Putin. But so many other threads to this investigation have come and fallen beneath the weight of everything else, it’s just crazy – why did the founder of the Blackwater black ops private security firm Erik Prince have a secret meeting brokered by the UAE with a Russian representative to try to establish a back-channel with Putin for Trump 9 days after Trump’s inauguration? Why did Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner take a summer cruise and then inexplicably end up in Dubrovnik, Croatia with Rupert Murdoch’s wife Wendy Deng, who’s since been outed as a Chinese spy? We just don’t know why these things are happening or what’s important and what’s not. But Mueller knows.

8. Donald Trump literally can’t stop putting himself in legal jeopardy. He sat in the White House in front of rolling cameras and freely complained that Jeff Session had made a tragic mistake in recusing himself from the investigation and that if he’d known he was going to do so he would have nominated another attorney general, with the clear implication that he thinks the Attorney General’s responsibility should be getting him out of this mess rather than the impartial delivery of justice. Like, he just said that. Where people could hear him. On TV. Even though he knows he’s being investigated for a federal crime for saying stuff exactly like that. Like, I wouldn’t want to be his lawyer, especially as at least one of them now appears to be heading to jail himself.

9. Because of this, Trump cannot hire lawyers for love nor money. He should have a team of a dozen attorneys at the ready and instead he’s got two. Ty Cobb, who clearly thinks that Donald Trump is heading straight to jail, do not pass GO, do not collect $200 and is just trying to mitigate the damage, and Jay Sekulow, who until he joined Trump’s team specialised in representing Christian fundamentalist religious freedom cases. Everyone else has been fired, quit, or simply refused to represent him. I read an absolutely hilarious news story that pointed out that although a lot of lawyers just don’t want the taint, the more banal reality is that Trump has forced so many people who work with or under him to retain legal counsel, there simply aren’t that many more law firms who don’t have already have clients who represent a conflict of interest. Washington D.C., *Washington D.C.* has literally run out of lawyers. At this rate, he’ll end up with Lionel Hutz.

10. Stormy Daniels is an absolute trooper who has played Donald Trump at his own game and smashed him into fuming, impotent bits. He appears to have coerced her into sex and then Michael Cohen threatened her and allegedly had a thug intimidate her in a car park. They forced her into private arbitration to keep her quiet while they slurred her on national media, then when she sued for defamation countersued for $20 million to try to intimidate her. She’s now going to at the very least see Michael Cohen disbarred and possibly bring down the President of the United States for his bullying boorish behaviour. Apparently her fee for public appearances at strip clubs is now $20,000 and she’s booked through to next year. She’s a 40 year old sex worker who has spent her entire adult life being exploited by men for money and now she wants to cash in on the way Donald Trump has treated her I wish her all the luck in the world.

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Your Trump/Russia Briefing

January 9, 2018

in Opinion

Originally posted to Facebook in January 2018.

So the Russia investigation story is now overspilling in so many headlines going in different directions that even I, who reads the news for a couple of hours every day, can now no longer keep up with it all. But if you would like a basic primer on why the Trump administration is burning down, here’s an overview:

1. Russia has been trying to interfere with multiple electoral processes throughout the world, and they interfered in the 2016 US Presidential election to promote Trump using a combination of methods, including cyber attacks, fake news reports, manipulating social media adverting, and using US citizens both knowing and ignorant as foreign intelligence agents.

2. It’s reasonably evident now that Donald Trump, and his family (especially Jared Kushner), and his associates, have been happily money-laundering through their real estate businesses for Russian and other foreign citizens, going back decades.

3. No-one in the Trump family knows anything about politics or good governance and this has made them incredibly susceptible to being used by other much smarter people to commit various crimes and take onto their teams various shady people with highly shady links to foreign powers and businessmen who should never in a million years have been let through the door had anyone so much as bothered to Google them.

4. Whatever Trump’s knowledge of the Russian conspiracy to interfere in the election on his behalf, he definitely knows that one shufty through his tax returns is going to turn up all kinds of highly dodgy stuff and is absolutely determined to try to stop this from happening. Because he has spent his entire life in a family owned business where he can tell anyone to do whatever he wants, he cannot conceive that he can’t just tell federal employees to do whatever he wants.

5. Trump’s efforts to shut up the investigation have been crude, blatant, extensively paper trailed, and would embarrass a mafia Don. Lets be fair to them – he has only been held back from a serious constitutional crisis so far by a string of Republican or Republican-appointed lawyers and staffers immolating their own careers to try to stop him. At some point, they will run out.

6. People are going to jail. The only question is whom and on what charge. Four people have already been indicted and there’s going to be more.

7. It’s fairly unlikely that Donald Trump will actually be prosecuted or indicted while in office, or even once he leaves, whether in 2020 or sooner. For all his disgusting venal self-congratulatory man-baby boorishness, he’s the President of the United States of America and American patriots fetishise that office and try to honour the people who hold it, however unworthy. But if he does get indicted, it’ll be for money-laundering and not for obstruction of justice.

8. I’d put his chances of being impeached though at about 50-50. Ultimately this a political move that to succeed would require an atmosphere of bipartisanship that does not currently exist, but might do after a catastrophic mid-term for the Republican Party.

9. There are four Russia investigations running simultaneously, and they cover the actions and dealings of over 270 people so far. This is not even close to the middle of being done.

10. None of this will have any effect on the willingness of Republican voters to continue to elect people who keep sticking their hands together with the PrittStick.

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