June TW 2018

June 29

ny times logoNew York Times, House G.O.P. Breaks Into Open Warfare With Rosenstein, Demanding Files, Nicholas Fandos, June 28, 2018. For months, their sparring had been indirect, stern letters exchanged, pointed threats traded through the news media. But on Thursday, the ever-intensifying skirmishes between Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein and conservative House Republicans broke into an ugly public fight.

On the House floor, Republicans voted in lock step to give the Justice Department seven days to produce sensitive documents related to the Russia inquiry and the F.B.I.'s investigation of Hillary Clinton's private email use. Though nonbinding, the measure was intended to put Mr. Rosenstein on notice that House lawmakers were willing to take punitive action — potentially including impeachment — if their demands were not met.

ny times logoNew York Times, 'Shaken' Rosenstein Felt He Was Used in Comey Firing, Michael S. Schmidt and Adam Goldman, June 29, 2018. After the F.B.I. director James B. Comey was fired, the deputy attorney general, Rod J. Rosenstein, privately appeared conflicted about his involvement in the dismissal.

rod rosenstein us attorneyIn the days after the F.B.I. director James B. Comey was fired last year, the deputy attorney general, Rod J. Rosenstein, repeatedly expressed anger about how the White House used him to rationalize the firing, saying the experience damaged his reputation, according to four people familiar with his outbursts. In public, Mr. Rosenstein has shown no hint that he had second thoughts about his role — writing a memo about Mr. Comey's performance that the White House used to justify firing him. "I wrote it. I believe it. I stand by it," Mr. Rosenstein said to Congress last year.

washington post logoWashington Post, Supreme Court prospect has said presidents should not be distracted by legal inquiries, Michael Kranish and Ann E. Marimow​, Brett M. Kavanaugh worked on the independent counsel's team that investigated Bill Clinton, and his views could be a focus of his confirmation hearing if President Trump nominates him to replace Justice Anthony M. Kennedy.

U.S. Circuit Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh, a former clerk for Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy who is viewed as one of the leading contenders to replace him, has argued that presidents should not be distracted by civil lawsuits, criminal investigations or even questions from a prosecutor or defense attorney while in office.

Kavanaugh had direct personal experience that informed his 2009 article for the Minnesota Law Review: He helped investigate President Bill Clinton as part of independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr's team and then served for five years as a close aide to President George W. Bush.

Having observed the weighty issues that can consume a president, Kavanaugh wrote, the nation's chief executive should be exempt from "time-consuming and distracting" lawsuits and investigations, which "would ill serve the public interest, especially in times of financial or national security crisis."

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: A Better Reason to Delay Kennedy's Replacement, Paul Schiff Berman, June 29, 2018. Mr. Berman is a professor at George Washington University Law School. Presidents under the cloud of investigation should not get to pick the judges who may preside over their cases. Almost immediately after Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement on Wednesday, Senate Democrats argued that his replacement should not be confirmed until after the midterm elections this fall — a version of the same argument that Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, used to stymie President Barack Obama's nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court in 2016.

This is surely a valid argument, not least because Mr. McConnell's blatantly anti-democratic ploy stole a judicial appointment from a popularly elected president and gave it to one who lost the popular vote by millions.

But there is another reason to withhold confirmation that both Republicans and Democrats should be able to agree on: People under the cloud of investigation do not get to pick the judges who may preside over their cases. By this logic, President Trump should not be permitted to appoint a new Supreme Court justice until after the special counsel investigation is over, and we know for sure whether there is evidence of wrongdoing.

June 28

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: How Rosenstein and Wray pushed back on GOP criticism of Russia probe, Amber Phillips, June 28, 2018. One by one, the Republican arguments claiming bias came up. Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein and FBI Director Christopher A. Wray had a rebuttal for each.

fbi logoThe case President Trump and his allies have built against the Justice Department and the FBI is circumstantial at best.

And on Thursday, the various arguments Trump and his Republican allies have leaned on to suggest or outright claim FBI bias against the president got knocked down, one by one, by the top of the bureau's chain of command.

rod rosenstein cspan What's more, Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein (shown in a file photo) and FBI Director Christopher A. Wray categorically denied these characterizations of the FBI's work while under oath. Wray and Rosenstein, who appointed special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, testified Thursday for hours to the House's Judiciary Committee.

Let's run down the top GOP attacks thrown at the Russia investigation and what Rosenstein and Wray had to say about them.

ny times logoNew York Times, Kushner Company Sues Jersey City, Claiming 'Anti-Trump' Bent Stalled Project, Charles V. Bagli, June 28, 2018. The family of President Trump's son-in-law said in a lawsuit that the Democratic mayor of Jersey City reneged on tax cuts to appease voters because of the family's ties to President Trump.

There was a time when the developer Charles Kushner and his son Jared were on the best of terms with Jersey City's mayor, Steven Fulop. But that was before the younger Mr. Kushner became a senior adviser to President Trump and the Kushners' $900 million project in the city's Journal Square section stalled.

On Wednesday, a partnership led by Charles Kushner filed a lawsuit in federal court in New Jersey claiming that the Fulop administration put his two-towered residential complex in default in April out of a "political animus" toward the Kushners and Mr. Trump. The default was issued, the suit contends, "to appease and curry favor with the overwhelmingly anti-Trump constituents of Jersey City."

June 27

ny times logoNew York Times, Manafort Trial to Go Forward, but With a Warning for Mueller, Sharon LaFraniere, June 26, 2018. The judge, who had challenged whether prosecutors had exceeded their authority, decided that they had not. But he also expressed concern that a position like Robert S. Mueller III's not be "deployed as a political weapon." Mr. Manafort, President Trump's former campaign chairman, has been charged in two jurisdictions with a host of federal crimes as part of the special counsel inquiry into Russia's influence on the presidential campaign.

Paul ManafortIn a preliminary hearing last month, Judge T. S. Ellis III challenged the charges of bank fraud and tax evasion against Mr. Manafort (shown at left), saying he saw no relationship between the case before him and "anything the special counsel is authorized to investigate."

robert mueller full face fileBut in the 31-page opinion issued on Tuesday, the judge said that "upon further review," it was clear to him that the special counsel Mueller (shown at right) had "followed the money paid by pro-Russian officials" to Mr. Manafort — a line of inquiry that fell squarely in his authority.

June 26

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: We Have a Crisis of Democracy, Not Manners, Michelle Goldberg, June 26, 2018 (print edition). Michelle Goldberg, below right, became an Op-Ed columnist for The New York Times in 2017 and was part of a team that won a Pulitzer Prize in 2018 for public service for reporting on workplace sexual harassment issues.

michelle goldberg thumbWhether or not you think public shaming should be happening, it's important to understand why it's happening. It's less a result of a breakdown in civility than a breakdown of democracy.

Though it's tiresome to repeat it, Donald Trump eked out his minority victory with help from a hostile foreign power. He has ruled exclusively for his vengeful supporters, who love the way he terrifies, outrages and humiliates their fellow citizens. Trump installed the right-wing Neil Gorsuch in the Supreme Court seat that Republicans stole from Barack Obama. Gorsuch, in turn, has been the fifth vote in decisions on voter roll purges and, on Monday, racial gerrymandering that will further entrench minority rule.

All over the country, Republican members of Congress have consistently refused to so much as meet with many of the scared, furious citizens they ostensibly represent. A great many of these citizens are working tirelessly to take at least one house of Congress in the midterms — which will require substantially more than 50 percent of total votes, given structural Republican advantages — so that the country's anti-Trump majority will have some voice in the federal government.

But unless and until that happens, millions and millions of Americans watch helplessly as the president cages children, dehumanizes immigrants, spurns other democracies, guts health care protections, uses his office to enrich himself and turns public life into a deranged phantasmagoria with his incontinent flood of lies.

 daily beast logoDaily Beast, Trump Tower-Linked Pop Star Releases 'Pee Tape' Music Video, Scott Bixby, June 26, 2018. The video features 'Trump' partying with bikini-clad pageant contestants, Emin slipping 'Ivanka Trump' a briefcase, and 'Stormy Daniels' ripping vodka shots with 'Hillary Clinton.' [Editor's note: The article and link to the video are shown as an example of pop culture and media influence, not because any of the innuendos are regarded as true.]

Emin Agalarov, the Russian pop star-slash-oligarch offspring who helped arrange Donald Trump Jr.'s infamous Trump Tower meeting with a Kremlin-linked lawyer promising damaging information about Hillary Clinton, is leaning in to his bit part in one of the most surreal political scandals of the Trump era with his newest music video.

The video, filmed for Agalarov's single "You Got Me," riffs on the alleged existence of a kompromat videotape in Kremlin's possession depicting what a former FBI director once characterized as "prostitutes peeing on each other in Moscow."

Among other things, the video features a Donald Trump look-alike partying in a gilded hotel room with bikini-clad pageant contestants, Emin clandestinely slipping "Ivanka Trump" a briefcase of intel, a faux Stormy Daniels ripping vodka shots in a club with a faux Hillary Clinton, and Kim Jong Un as a computer hacker erasing all evidence that Trump was ever there.

June 22

tom arnold michael cohen twitter

msnbc logo CustomMSNBC, Tom Arnold Says Cohen Ready To Cooperate Against Trump, Lawrence O'Donnell, June 22, 2018. Actor Tom Arnold, currently working for ViceNews on an anti-Trump cable series, The Hunt For the Trump Tapes, debuting in September, told MSNBC host Lawrence O'Donnell that former Trump attoney Michael Cohen, shown at left above, will cooperateg with authorities investigating the president and also with Arnold's show.

Arnold also Tweeted the photo above showing him and Cohen, taken in a hotel lobby. Cohen has Tweeted that the photo does not mean he is cooperating with Arnold.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Here's the thing about this Michael Cohen and Tom Arnold story, Bill Palmer, June 22, 2018. It started when Tom Arnold tweeted a photo of him and Michael Cohen posing together, with the caption "I love New York." NBC News then asked Arnold what was going on, and he quipped that he and Cohen are teaming up to take Donald Trump down. Apparently Arnold meant this somewhat in jest, but much of the media mistakenly took it to mean that Cohen was signing on to Arnold's new Vice TV show about hunting for damaging Trump tapes. Arnold then clarified today that this was not the case, and Cohen – who is rarely on Twitter – sent a "Thank you" tweet to Arnold.

Whatever you think of Michael Cohen, he's in the midst of a no-win situation where he can either sell out his mentor and go to prison for a few years, or go to trial and risk going to prison forever. By all accounts he's stressed and exasperated. Yet in this photo, Cohen looks genuinely happy, as if meeting with Tom Arnold was the only thing he's enjoyed all year. It evokes echoes of Melania Trump seemingly genuinely happy to be sitting with President Obama. Cohen looks pleased and relieved to be hanging with the anti-Trump side. There is something going on here.

djt epstein mar a lagoWayne Madsen Report (WMR), Trump confronted with photo of him and Epstein at Duluth rally, June 22, 2018 (subscription required for full report; photo via Getty Images).

Amid the controversy of his separating more than 2300 children from their asylum seeking parents at the U.S.-Mexican border, Trump was confronted by a protester at a rally in Duluth, Minnesota with a photo of convicted child molester Jeffrey Epstein and Trump taken at Trump's Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida during the 1990s.

New York Observer, Private Prison Stocks Are Soaring Amid the Trump Administration's Immigration Crisis, Davis Richardson, June 20, 2018. The stocks of two of the world's biggest private prison companies are outperforming the market amid the current immigration crisis.

geo corrections and detention logoDespite a small dip in the Dow Jones Industrial Average by 0.14 percent on Wednesday, the GEO Group and CoreCivic both saw their stocks increase 1.79 percent and 3.18 percent, respectively. Both corporations work alongside Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to operate detention centers holding immigrants.

The rising stock prices follow the announcement of a Republican compromise bill on immigration that is expected to pledge the construction of family detention centers from a $7 billion budget allocation—a workaround to the White House's "zero tolerance" policy supported by House Speaker Paul Ryan.

core civic logo flag"The proposed solution being floated to them is more family detention," immigration attorney R. Andrew Free, who first noticed the rising stocks on Twitter, told Observer. "On their stock calls, their corporate representatives mentioned these contracts are very good and very profitable and provide a new source of revenue."

Both the GEO Group and CoreCivic supported Trump's presidency. The companies donated $250,000 to Trump's Inaugural Committee, with GEO having donated $225,000 to a Trump Super PAC during the 2016 election.

washington post logoWashington Post, Mueller signals outside prosecutors may eventually take over Russian trolls case, Devlin Barrett, June 22, 2018. Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III has enlisted four assistant U.S. attorneys for the case against 13 Russians and three companies because any prosecutions could drag on for years.

robert mueller full face fileA handful of new federal prosecutors have joined one of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III's cases — an indication that he is preparing to hand off at least one prosecution to others when his office completes its investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

In a pair of court filings Friday, the special counsel added four assistant U.S. attorneys to the case against Russian entities and people accused of running an online influence operation targeting American voters. People familiar with the staffing decision said the new prosecutors are not joining Mueller's team, but rather are being added to the case so that they could someday take responsibility for it when the special counsel ceases operation.

The case those prosecutors are joining could drag on for years because the indictment charges a number of Russians who will probably never see the inside of a U.S. courtroom. Russia does not extradite its citizens.

June 21

djt Karen McDougal Donald Trump youtube

The New Yorker reports that Karen McDougal, shown in a photo drawn from YouTube with President Trump, was paid $150,000 by American Media, Inc., for her story about an affair with the married future president Trump in 2006

ny times logomichael cohen ap file croppedNew York Times, National Enquirer Executives Said to Be Subpoenaed in Cohen Investigation, Jim Rutenberg, June 21, 2018 (print edition). The investigation into President Trump's former lawyer and "fixer" Michael D. Cohen (right) has ensnared the publisher of The National Enquirer, further thrusting the media company into a federal inquiry involving a onetime top lieutenant to a sitting president.

Prosecutors with the Southern District of New York subpoenaed executives at the publisher, American Media, this spring, according to people who have been briefed about the move but agreed to share the details about it only on the condition of anonymity.

david pecker croppedThe prosecutors had already asked for communications between Mr. Cohen and American Media's chairman, David J. Pecker (left), and its chief content officer, Dylan Howard. That request was part of a search warrant they secured for Mr. Cohen's home, office, hotel room and electronic devices in April. The people familiar with the investigation said prosecutors sought similar communications from Mr. Howard and Mr. Pecker.

karen mcdougal playboyDuring the presidential campaign, American Media had arranged to effectively silence Karen McDougal, a former Playboy model who claimed to have had an affair with Mr. Trump years earlier, with a $150,000 payout.

The payment caught the attention of investigators conducting a broad investigation into Mr. Cohen's efforts on behalf of Mr. Trump during the campaign, as well as his own business dealings. It is also the subject of a complaint at the Federal Election Commission.

June 20

djt michael cohen

Palmer Report, Opinion: The Michael Cohen just resigned from the RNC in protest of Donald Trump, Bill Palmer, June 20, 2018. Here's what's really going on. Donald Trump's longtime fixer Michael Cohen, shown above in a file photo, has just resigned from his position as Deputy Finance Chair of the Republican National Committee. In his resignation letter, Cohen cited his opposition to Donald Trump's policy of separating immigrant children from their parents and locking them in cages. Of course there's a whole lot more going on here with Cohen's resignation.

rnc logoTo be clear, we're not doubting Michael Cohen's sincerity when he says that, as the son of a Holocaust survivor, he can't stand to watch what Trump is doing to these families. That doesn't sound like the kind of thing he'd say if he didn't truly believe it. But take a look at what else is going on today. Even as ABC News is reporting Cohen's resignation from the RNC in protest of Trump, the Wall Street Journal is reporting that Cohen is furious at Trump for not paying his legal bills.

This comes even as ABC and CNN are reporting that Cohen is looking to cut a plea deal, and as NBC reports that the Feds have told Cohen that he's just days away from arrest if he doesn't cut a deal. There are a lot of moving parts here. It's somewhat surprising that the RNC hasn't yet fired Cohen, considering the legal trouble he's facing. Perhaps Trump told the RNC to keep Cohen on board, for fear of alienating him.

In any case, Donald Trump is out on a limb with his child concentration camps, and it's made him more politically vulnerable than ever. Michael Cohen is making a point of publicly stabbing at Trump on this issue, and that can be taken as a sign that Cohen has decided to definitively distance himself from Trump in the eyes of all observers. Maybe he's siding with the kids because he's trying to gain sympathy from an eventual jury trial. But we think this is yet another sign that Cohen has made up his mind to cut a deal against Trump, and he's closing one door at a time.

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Investigation / Commentary: Trump is a serial child abuser; efforts to force him to stop are ineffective, Wayne Madsen (shown at left), June wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Small20, 2018 (subscription required). Wayne Madsen is an investigative reporter, syndicated columnist, author and former Navy intelligence officer once temporarily deputized by the FBI to help investigate pedophilia by a fellow Navy officer.

Court filings and witness accounts show that Donald Trump is nothing more than a serial child abuser. This antipathy toward children has taken on many forms over the decades and it includes mental, physical, and, in some cases, sexual abuse.

The Hill, Religious leaders, former judges asks DC to revoke Trump Hotel's liquor license due to president's 'lack of good character,' Luis Sanchez, June 20, 2018. Religious leaders and former judges filed a complaint on Wednesday asking the Washington D.C. Alcoholic Beverage Control Board to revoke the Trump International Hotel's liquor license because of President Trump's character. The hotel is shown at right in a Justice Integrity Project photo as it was under renovation.

djt tump int hotelThe complaint argues that a D.C. liquor license can be suspended or revoked if the "true and actual owner" of an establishment is not a person of "good character."

"Donald Trump, the true and actual owner of the Trump International Hotel, is not a person of good character. The Trump International Hotel nonetheless currently holds a Class C/H license issued by the Board," the complaint reads.

The complainants, who are D.C. residents, are asking the board to investigate Trump's "lack of good character."

They also want the hotel's licensee, Trump Old Post Office LLC, to appear before the board to show cause why its license to sell and serve alcoholic beverages should not be revoked.

The complaint notes that "good character" investigations are typically done when someone applies for a license or for renewal, but argues that the board should investigate Trump's "lack of good character now" because of recent events.

The group lists lies the president has told, sexual assault accusations against Trump and alleged racist acts. They also call out Trump for his "failure to abide by the law and to repudiate associations with known criminals."

June 16

michael horwitz headshot

webster tarpley podium2World Crisis Radio, Opinion: Justice Dept. Inspector General's report on Comey was huge cover-up, whitewash, Webster G. Tarpley (shown at right), June 16, 2018 (radio broadcast: 74:01 mins.). Dr. Webster Tarpley, an  author and commentator, described as a "whitewash" Inspector Gen. Michael Horwitz's much-touted 538-page report on former FBI Director James Comey's performance during the 2016 presidential campaign and its aftermath.

fbi logorudy giuliani recentTarpley said Horwitz (shown above) failed to probe leaks from the FBI's New York City office by rogue agents who were assisting their former boss Rudy Giuliani supporting GOP nominee Donald Trump, thereby helping Trump's campaign immeasurably.

By contrast, Tarpley argued, Horwitz fed the current GOP spin machine by highlighting private anti-Trump conversation between two other agents, neither of whom were shown to have undertaken any serious anti-Trump action.

Tarpley said the agents could have easily disclosed to the media during the campaign (albeit in violation of law and FBI rules) that the FBI had undertaken a national security investigation of the Trump campaign beginning in the summer of 2016, but that story never surfaced until long after Trump's election, Tarpley noted.  

washington post logoWashington Post, From 'the Count' to inmate: The fall of former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort, Tom Hamburger, June 16, 2018 (print edition). He owned at least five properties from Manhattan to Palm Beach and purchased three Range Rovers and a Mercedes-Benz. He spent millions of dollars on oriental rugs and tailored suits. And he reached new heights of power in 2016 when he gained a top position in Donald Trump's campaign.

But on Friday, ordered by a federal judge to await trial in jail, Paul Manafort's once high-flying life sank to a new low.

The image of the grim-faced Manafort, led out of a D.C. courtroom by a U.S. marshal, offered a vivid reminder of the precipitous fall of a man who has been counselor to presidents, an architect of the modern-day influence industry and, for a time, a key engineer of Trump's takeover of the Republican Party.

nbc news logoNBC News, Paul Manafort sent to Virginia jail after judge revokes bail, Charlie Gile and Tracy Connor, Updated June 16. 2018. 6 Paul Manafort was locked up in a Virginia jail Friday night after a federal judge revoked his bail amid allegations of witness tampering. An inmate database showed that President Donald Trump's former campaign chief was booked into the Northern Neck Regional Jail in Warsaw, Va., at 8:22 p.m. Jail records listed his housing unit as "VIP-1."

He was taken to the 500-bed facility hours after prosecutors working for Special Counsel Robert Mueller convinced Judge Amy Berman Jackson that Manafort couldn't be trusted on house arrest any longer. Manafort, 69, did not appear to react to Jackson's ruling beyond a nod to his attorney. He gave a quick wave to his wife as he was taken into custody and led out of the courtroom.

The move drastically ratchets up pressure on Manafort as Mueller continues to investigate whether there was collusion between the Trump campaign and Russians to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. Manafort's ex-business partner, Rick Gates, who was indicted with him in October, has already pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate.

After Jackson's ruling, Trump tweeted that Manafort got a "tough sentence" — though he hasn't actually been sentenced for anything — and tried to downplay his involvement with the campaign."Like Manafort has nothing to do with our campaign," the president told reporters at the White House before the hearing.

"You know, Paul Manafort worked for me for a very short period of time. He worked for Ronald Reagan. He worked for Bob Dole. He worked for John McCain, or his firm did. He worked for many other Republicans. He worked for me, what, 49 days or something. Very short period of time."

In fact, Manafort worked for the Trump campaign for 144 days. He joined the campaign in March 2016, became chair in May and resigned in August 2016.

June 15

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The key takeaways from the Justice Department inspector general's report, Editorial Board, June 15, 2018 (print edition). michael horwitz headshotThe Justice released Thursday a highly anticipated report [by Inspector General Michael Horwitz, right] on the FBI's handling of the Hillary Clinton email probe and other sensitive issues in the 2016 election. It is not the report President Trump wanted. But there is enough in it for him and his allies to twist and cherry-pick that its actual findings are likely to be lost in partisan noise.

Given Mr. Trump's allegations about the FBI conspiring against him, the first thing to note is that the report provides no support for the theory of a broad anti-Trump plot. True, the inspector general uncovered private messages between FBI officials Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, including one saying "we'll stop" Mr. Trump from becoming president. "The conduct by these employees cast a cloud over the entire FBI investigation," the report reads.

But examining the actions the FBI took, the inspector general concluded that Mr. Strzok "was not the sole decisionmaker" and, in fact, "advocated for more aggressive investigative measures" against Ms. Clinton. "We did not find documentary or testimonial evidence that improper considerations, including political bias, directly affected the specific investigative actions we reviewed." The inspector general also concluded that the decisions made on how to conduct the Clinton investigation were reasonable.

paul manafort face nation

Former Trump 2016 Presidential Campaign Manager Paul Manafort (screenshot from a Face the Nation appearance during the campaign )

washington post logoWashington Post, Manafort ordered to jail after charges of witness tampering, Spencer S. Hsu, Ellen Nakashima and Devlin Barrett​, June 15, 2018. The order to imprison President Trump's former campaign manager came in a federal court hearing after Paul Manafort had been asking to post a $10 million bond and end seven months of home detention. He has been awaiting trial on federal conspiracy and money-laundering charges brought by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III.

A federal judge ordered Paul Manafort to jail Friday over charges he tampered with witnesses while out on bail — a major blow for President Trump's former campaign chairman as he awaits trial on federal conspiracy and money-laundering charges next month.

"You have abused the trust placed in you six months ago,'' U.S. District Court judge Amy Berman Jackson told Manafort. "The government motion will be granted and the defendant will be detained."

The judge said sending Manafort to a cell was "an extraordinarily difficult decision," but added his conduct left her little choice, because he had allegedly contacted witnesses in the case in an effort to get them to lie to investigators.

"This hearing is not about politics. It is not about the conduct of the office of special counsel. It is about the defendant's conduct," Jackson said. "I'm concerned you seem to treat these proceedings as another marketing exercise."

Manafort, 69, has pleaded not guilty to all charges in what prosecutors say was a broader conspiracy to launder more than $30 million over a decade of undisclosed lobbying for a former pro-Russian politician and party in Ukraine.

ny times logoirs logoNew York Times, How the I.R.S. Could Punish Trump and His Foundation, Jesse Drucker, June 15, 2018 (print edition). New York's attorney general, who sued the Trump Foundation for engaging in political activities, also referred the matter to the Internal Revenue Service.

The New York attorney general sued President Trump and his foundation on Thursday. But his bigger problem might be with the Internal Revenue Service.

The lawsuit accused Mr. Trump and three of his children of using the Donald J. Trump Foundation, a nonprofit charity, for political and business purposes, even though he signed federal tax returns swearing that wasn't happening. Attorney General Barbara D. Underwood referred her findings to the I.R.S. for further investigation.

Any involvement of the I.R.S. puts in play a range of possibilities. The agency has the power to bring civil penalties, and its investigation could lead to federal criminal charges. Similar behavior has prompted federal prosecutions, according to lawyers who have worked on such cases.

Reactions To Justice Department Campaign Report

ny times logofbi logoNew York Times, Trump Calls Justice Dept. Report 'Total Disaster' for F.B.I., Eileen Sullivan, June 15, 2018. "Doesn't get any lower than that!" Mr. Trump wrote of the findings in a Justice Department report that detailed texts between F.B.I. agents who opposed his presidential bid.

ny times logoHillary Clinton ButtonNew York Times, Democrats Find Vindication, and New Agony, in Report, Alexander Burns, June 15, 2018 (print edition). Hillary Clinton supporters saw the report on James B. Comey, the former F.B.I. director, as proof that she was wronged in 2016. "It's disappointing and infuriating," one ally said. On Thursday, Clinton supporters won a powerful kind of validation from the unlikeliest source: President Trump's Department of Justice.

The inspector general's report criticizing Mr. Comey for his flamboyant handling of the Clinton investigation sent an angry thrill through the ranks of Democrats and Mrs. Clinton's allies. Michael E. Horowitz, an investigator not appointed by Mr. Trump, concluded that Mr. Comey had twice breached the bureau's traditional discretion: first by holding a July news conference to announce he would not charge Mrs. Clinton with mishandling classified information, and then later sending a letter to Congress disclosing that the agents were scrutinizing new evidence in the matter

June 14

barbara underwoodThe Hill, New York attorney general sues to dissolve Trump Foundation, Jacqueline Thomsen, June 14, 2018. New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood (D) filed a lawsuit against President Trump, the Donald J. Trump Foundation and members of the Trump family on Thursday, alleging that the charity has violated federal and state law.

The lawsuit also states that Trump used the foundation to cover legal fees and to promote his properties and businesses. The lawsuit alleges that Trump's campaign "extensively directed and coordinated the Foundation's activities in connection with an event for veterans in Iowa that Trump held in 2016 instead of participating in a presidential debate.

The document alleges that the foundation assisted the campaign in organizing the event and that the foundation was widely utilized in promoting it, but that the charity was used "to satisfy the campaign's requirements."

The attorney general cited emails showing that the campaign "played the lead in role in determining the disposition" of the fundraiser proceeds, including ones showing then-Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski communicating with foundation staffers about the disbursement of the funds, according to the document.

The lawsuit also alleges that Trump requested that foundation staff use $100,000 from the foundation in 2007 to settle a lawsuit between the city of Palm Beach, Fla., and his Mar-a-Lago estate. The document features a handwritten note by Trump requesting the transaction."As our investigation reveals, the Trump Foundation was little more than a checkbook for payments from Mr. Trump or his businesses to nonprofits, regardless of their purpose or legality," Underwood said in a statement. "This is not how private foundations should function and my office intends to hold the Foundation and its directors accountable for its misuse of charitable assets."

Trump responded to the lawsuit in a pair of tweets Thursday, saying he "won't settle the case."

The sleazy New York Democrats, and their now disgraced (and run out of town) A.G. Eric Schneiderman, are doing everything they can to sue me on a foundation that took in $18,800,000 and gave out to charity more money than it took in, $19,200,000. I won't settle this case!...

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) 11:09 AM - Jun 14, 2018

....Schneiderman, who ran the Clinton campaign in New York, never had the guts to bring this ridiculous case, which lingered in their office for almost 2 years. Now he resigned his office in disgrace, and his disciples brought it when we would not settle.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) 11:09 AM - Jun 14, 2018

washington post logoWashington Post, IG report criticizes Comey's handling of Clinton probe, includes anti-Trump exchanges among FBI personnel, John Wagner, Devlin Barrett and Karoun Demirjian, June 14, 2018. A highly anticipated report from the Justice Department's inspector general criticizes James B. Comey for his actions as FBI director during the Hillary Clinton email investigation and includes new text messages from FBI personnel conveying political opposition to Donald Trump.

Justice Department logoTrump was set to receive a briefing Thursday on the 500-page report, which the president is widely expected to use to launch fresh attacks against not only Clinton but also the law enforcement officials behind special counsel Robert S. Mueller III's Russia probe, which Trump has repeatedly referred to as a "witch hunt."

Perhaps the most damaging new revelation in the report, according to multiple people familiar with it, is a previously unreported text message in which Peter Strzok, a key investigator on both the Clinton email case and the investigation of Russia and the Trump campaign, assured an FBI lawyer in August 2016 that "we'll stop" Trump from making it to the White House.

"[Trump's] not ever going to become president, right? Right?!" the lawyer, Lisa Page, wrote to Strzok.

JIP Editor's Note: The article above is based on contents of the report leaked by Republicans. A story later will report on the full report.

Comey Responds To DOJ Report

Former FBI Director James Comey testifies before U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee on June 8, 2017

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: This Report Says I Was Wrong. But That's Good for the F.B.I., James Comey (President Trump's first FBI director, shown above in a file photo), June 14, 2018. An inspector general report faulting me also found no evidence of bias or improper motivation in the F.B.I. investigation of Hillary Clinton's emails.

The Department of Justice's independent watchdog, the inspector general, has released a report that is critical of my decisions as F.B.I. director during the investigation of Hillary Clinton's email account. The report concludes that I was wrong to announce the F.B.I.'s completion of the investigation without coordinating with the attorney general and that I was wrong to inform Congress in late October that we had reopened the investigation.

fbi logoIn both situations, the inspector general's team concludes, I should have adhered to established norms, which they see as mandating both deference to the attorney general on the public announcement and silence about an investigation so close to an election.

I do not agree with all of the inspector general's conclusions, but I respect the work of his office and salute its professionalism. All of our leaders need to understand that accountability and transparency are essential to the functioning of our democracy, even when it involves criticism. This is how the process is supposed to work.

This report is important for two reasons.

First, the inspector general's team went through the F.B.I.'s work with a microscope and found no evidence that bias or improper motivation affected the investigation, which I know was done competently, honestly and independently.

The report also resoundingly demonstrates that there was no prosecutable case against Mrs. Clinton, as we had concluded. Although that probably will not stop some from continuing to claim the opposite is true, this independent assessment will be useful to thoughtful people and an important contribution to the historical record.

Second, this report is vital in shedding light for future leaders on the nature and quality of our investigation and the decisions we made. In 2016, my team faced an extraordinary situation — something I thought of as a 500-year flood — offering no good choices and presenting some of the hardest decisions I ever had to make. We knew that reasonable people might choose to do things differently and that a future independent reviewer might not see things the way we did. Yet I always believed that an inspector general report would be crucial to understanding and evaluating our actions.

summer zervos

abc news logoABC News, Appeals Court denies Trump bid to get Summer Zervos defamation suit tossed, Aaron Katersky and James Hill, June 14, 2018. New York State's highest court on Thursday rejected an appeal from President Trump in a defamation case brought by Summer Zervos, a former contestant on "The Apprentice" who alleges that Trump groped and kissed her without her consent in 2007. This is the third time Trump's attempt to halt discovery in the case and a possible deposition of the president has failed. She is shown above in a screenshot from the show.

In a brief order, the New York Court of Appeals, on procedural grounds, rejected the president's attempt to dismiss the case or delay it until after he leaves office. The court ruled that Trump's appeal is premature because there has not been a final determination of his motions in the lower courts.

But the president's legal team was undaunted. "The Court of Appeals did not address the merits of the issue at stake here (an issue first raised by the U.S. Supreme Court in Clinton v. Jones) —- namely, that, under the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution, state courts do not have jurisdiction over a sitting President," a spokesperson for the president's attorney, Marc Kasowitz, said in a statement.

Kasowitz has claimed that the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution bars a state court lawsuit against a sitting president and has said "this issue will likely reach the Supreme Court of the United States." The president has denied he sexually assaulted or harassed women, including Zervos, before he took office.

June 12

washington post logoWashington Post, George Conway, lawyer and husband of Kellyanne, rebuts Trump on constitutionality of special counsel, Meagan Flynn, June 12, 2018. On the morning of his 500th day in office, June 4, President Trump turned his attention to special counsel Robert S. Mueller III's Russia investigation.

On Monday evening, George Conway, a conservative lawyer, published a 3,500-word essay in which he called Trump's tweet a "meritless legal position" rooted in an assumption from a conservative legal scholar that is "uncomplicatedly, flatly wrong."

"The 'constitutional' arguments made against the special counsel … have little more rigor than the tweet that promoted them," Conway wrote. "Such a lack of rigor, sadly, has been a disturbing trend in much of the politically charged public discourse about the law lately, and one that lawyers — regardless of their politics — owe a duty to abjure."

Conway's essay was notable not just for its analysis but for its venue, Lawfare, a highly regarded legal blog that has featured some of the strongest expert critiques of Trump's conduct as president — and also for its author, a respected lawyer who happens to be married to one of Trump's most visible advisers, Kellyanne Conway.

Vanity Fair, "The Era of Primal Trump": Advisers worry that with Singapore in the rearview mirror, "It's going to hit the fan pretty soon," Gabriel Sherman, June 12, 2018. As Trump returns from Singapore after his historic, self-touted, inconclusive meeting with Kim Jong Un, people close to the president say the Mueller probe is reaching an inflection point. "It's going to hit the fan pretty soon," a friend of the president told me.

Within the next month, Mueller is reportedly planning to deliver his findings in the obstruction of justice investigation to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. "Donald is very worried," said a Republican close to Trump. The difference is that Trump is now more unshackled than at any point in his presidency, meaning that firing Mueller or Rosenstein remains a possibility.

CNN, Rosenstein plans to call on House to investigate its own staff, Laura Jarrett, June 12, 2018. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein's ongoing battle with House Republicans reached new heights Tuesday, as the No. 2 senior leader of the Justice Department plans to call on the House to investigate its own committee staff.

rod rosenstein us attorneyRosenstein, shown at left, has butted heads with House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes for months over a subpoena for documents related to the Russia investigation, but the battle spilled out into public view Tuesday after Fox News reported staff on the committee felt "personally attacked" at a meeting with Rosenstein in January.

Justice Department officials dispute the recounting of the closed-door meeting detailed in the story, and Rosenstein now plans to "request that the House general counsel conduct an internal investigation of these Congressional staffers' conduct" when he returns from a foreign trip this week, a Justice Department official said. "The Deputy Attorney General never threatened anyone in the room with a criminal investigation," the official said.

"The Deputy Attorney General was making the point -- after being threatened with contempt -- that as an American citizen charged with the offense of contempt of Congress, he would have the right to defend himself, including requesting production of relevant emails and text messages and calling them as witnesses to demonstrate that their allegations are false," the official added.

"That is why he put them on notice to retain relevant emails and text messages, and he hopes they did so." Another former US official, also present at the meeting, agreed that at no time did Rosenstein threaten any House staff with a criminal investigation.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Rod Rosenstein goes after Trump's stooge Devin Nunes, Bill Palmer, June 12, 2018. As Donald Trump's criminal scandals have grown worse, and the inevitability of his demise becomes more apparent, we've seen more Republicans in Congress seeking to distance themselves from him.

The most notable exception has been House Intel Committee Chair Devin Nunes, who is already so deeply caught up in Trump's scandals, he probably has nothing more to lose by committing obstruction of justice in the name of trying to derail those scandals. But now Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has had enough, and he's going after Nunes in clever fashion.

devin nunesFor months, Devin Nunes (shown at right) has been using his position as Chairman as an excuse to try to poke around at the evidence against him and Donald Trump in the Russia scandal. These efforts haven't gotten him anywhere, but it's nonetheless forced Rosenstein to play defense. Now Rosenstein has had enough and he's playing offense.

Nunes' staffers made the mistake of threatening to hold Rosenstein in contempt of Congress. Because they were threatening to formally accuse Rosenstein of a crime, he seized the opportunity to turn the whole thing on its head, according to a new report from CNN. He informed Nunes' staffers that they will need to retain all emails and text messages going forward which relate in any way toward their accusations against him, because these communications are now evidence.

Here's the part that Rod Rosenstein didn't directly say, but he didn't have to: if Devin Nunes' staffers fail to retain their own texts and emails, or try to destroy them, they'll have committed of obstruction of justice. He just took their false accusations and legal threats against him, and put them in a situation where they'll either have to provide evidence of their own participation in the Trump-Nunes obstruction, or they'll end up committing obstruction by not retaining that evidence. Rosenstein may have just backed Nunes' staffers into a corner where they'll have to flip on him.

June 10

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Trump's not wrong about pardoning himself, Michael W. McConnell, June 10, 2018 (print edition). Michael W. McConnell is a professor of law and director of the Constitutional Law Center at Stanford Law School and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. He formerly served as a [Republican-appointed] judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit.

When President Trump tweeted that he has the constitutional authority to pardon himself, he likely weakened his case in the minds of most ordinary people. Why would he talk about pardons if he hasn't done anything for which he might need one? But as a legal and constitutional matter, Trump is not wrong. Presidents do have the constitutional authority to pardon themselves, albeit at the considerable risk of impeachment if they do so.

The president's pardon power was intentionally made broad, even though the framers of the Constitution were well aware that it could be abused. They understood the pardon as an essential final check against miscarriages of justice and overly harsh applications of the letter of the law — and more importantly, as a device for national reconciliation after episodes of political unrest. George Washington used the power this way after the Whiskey Rebellion, Abraham Lincoln after the Civil War, and Jimmy Carter after Vietnam.

Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution says the president "shall have Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offenses against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment." The exception for impeachment shows that the clause extends to presidential misconduct, and suggests the ultimate remedy is impeachment by the House and conviction by the Senate, rather than criminal prosecution.

But we do not have to guess. Two days before the Constitutional Convention voted in 1787 to approve the final draft, Edmund Randolph of Virginia moved to narrow the president's pardon power on the ground that it "was too great a trust. The President himself may be guilty." His point was supported by none other than James Madison. But James Wilson of Pennsylvania, the finest lawyer among the delegates and later a justice on the first Supreme Court, stressed the importance of the pardon power and argued that if the president "be himself a party to the guilt, he can be impeached and prosecuted." ("Prosecuted" meant prosecuted before the Senate.) Randolph's motion was defeated eight states to two, with one state divided.

The framers of the Constitution thus specifically contemplated and debated the prospect that a president might be guilty of an offense and use the pardon power to clear himself. They concluded that the remedy of impeachment by the House and conviction by the Senate was a sufficient check on the possibility of abuse.

June 8

More Charges Against Former Trump Campaign Chief Manafort

Paul Manafort

washington post logoWashington Post, Special counsel Mueller indicts Paul Manafort, Russian associate on obstruction charges, Devlin Barrett, Spencer S. Hsu and Rosalind S. Helderman, June 9, 2018 (print edition). The indictment of former Trump Campaign Manage Paul Manafort, shown above in a file photo, marks the first such charges for Manafort's associate, Konstantin Kilimnik. Prosecutors have previously said Kilimnik has ties to Russian intelligence, which he denies.

james wolf ali watkins

Former Senate Intelligence Committee staffer James Wolfe and New York Times reporter Ali Watkins (file photos)

washington post logoWashington Post, Young reporter in leak investigation enjoyed meteoric rise in Washington journalism, Sarah Ellison and Paul Farhi, June 8, 2018. The first known leak investigation of the Trump administration has put under scrutiny a 20-something New York Times reporter, who enjoyed a meteoric rise through Washington's journalism ranks that began while she was still in college.

Times reporter Ali Watkins hasn't been charged in the Justice Department's investigation of the leak of classified information from the Senate Intelligence Committee. But the revelation late Thursday that the FBI had secretly seized years' worth of Watkins' phone and email records, dating back to when she was a student at Temple University, raised questions about her relationship with the man at the center of the investigation.

Watkins' romantic involvement with former intelligence committee aide James A. Wolfe — who was indicted on Thursday — focused attention on her reporting for such news organizations as McClatchy's Washington bureau, BuzzFeed and Politico.

June 7

james wolf ali watkins

Former Senate Intelligence Committee staffer James Wolfe and New York Times reporter Ali Watkins (file photos)

ny times logoNew York Times, Times Reporter's Records Are Seized in Justice Dept. Inquiry, Adam Goldman, Nicholas Fandos and Katie Benner, June 7, 2017.  Prosecutors seized phone and email records as part of an investigation into leaks by a former Senate aide. It was the first known use of such an aggressive tactic under President Trump.

Justice Department log circularFederal law enforcement officials secretly seized years' worth of a New York Times reporter's phone and email records this year in an investigation of classified information leaks. It was the first known instance of the Justice Department going after a reporter's data under President Trump.

The seizure — disclosed in a letter to the reporter, Ali Watkins — suggested that prosecutors under the Trump administration will continue the aggressive tactics employed under President Barack Obama.

Mr. Trump has complained bitterly about leaks and demanded that law enforcement officials seek criminal charges against government officials involved in illegal and sometimes embarrassing disclosures of national security secrets.

fbi logoInvestigators sought Ms. Watkins's information as part of an inquiry into whether James A. Wolfe, the Senate Intelligence Committee's former director of security, disclosed classified secrets to reporters. F.B.I. agents approached Ms. Watkins about a previous three-year romantic relationship she had with Mr. Wolfe, saying they were investigating unauthorized leaks.

News media advocates consider the idea of mining a journalist's records for sources to be an intrusion on First Amendment freedoms, and prosecutors acknowledge it is one of the most delicate steps the Justice Department can take. "Freedom of the press is a cornerstone of democracy, and communications between journalists and their sources demand protection," said Eileen Murphy, a Times spokeswoman.

michael cohen ap file croppedPalmer Report, Opinion: Michael Cohen's friend hints at Cohen going "nuclear" against Donald Trump, Bill Palmer, June 7, 2018. In the two months since the FBI raided the home and office of Donald Trump's longtime fixer Michael Cohen, we've seen Trump spend a lot of time trying to distance himself from Cohen's actions, while putting very little effort into defending Cohen. Now that Cohen (shown at right) is just eight days away from a major evidence deadline that could serve as a de facto decision point for whether he's going to cut a plea deal, one of Cohen's friends is hinting about which way Cohen is leaning.

MSNBC host Nicolle Wallace hosted a panel today to discuss what Michael Cohen might do next. One of the participants on that panel: Cohen's friend, radio host Donny Deutsch. The panel debated whether or not Cohen will end up cutting a plea deal. Deutsch described Cohen as being "very angry at this point." He was then asked if Cohen is more angry at Trump or at the government. Deutsch then added "I think he's angry with misguided loyalty … and I believe there could be some nuclear things coming."

Deutsch didn't specifically elaborate on what he meant by "nuclear things." But it's not difficult to figure out that he's talking about Michael Cohen cutting a plea deal against Donald Trump and giving up Trump's dirtiest secrets.

June 6

The Atlantic, One of the most shocking revelations from the special counsel's investigation is the suggestion that Paul Manafort's longtime aide is a pawn of Russian intelligence, Franklin Foer, June 6, 2018. In the early years of the century, as Paul Manafort made his way across Moscow and Kiev, he was followed by a diminutive man. With a generous slackening of the tape, the man measured just above 5 feet. This made for a striking contrast in physical frames, because Manafort and his expansive shoulders crowd a room. It also made the pair an almost slapstick spectacle.

But over time, Manafort and the smaller man, his aide-de-camp, began to converge in appearance. The aide started to dress like his boss, buying expensive suits cut in a similar style. He would mimic his mentor's habits, using the same car service to shuttle through the cobblestone streets of the Ukrainian capital in the same model BMW. He would come to earn the title "Manafort's Manafort."

When Manafort first began to contemplate doing business on a grand scale in Russia and Ukraine, he faced a basic logistic challenge. He intended to operate in countries where mastery of English was not a prerequisite for the acquisition of wealth and power. Manafort hardly understood a word of his prospective clients' languages. "Paul is the smartest political guy I know, but he couldn't order a glass of water," one of his former staffers told me. So he grew reliant on Konstantin Kilimnik, a Soviet-born native who could render idiomatic English and translate the cultural nuances of the region that might elude outsiders. Manafort would describe him to others in his office as "my Russian brain." For a decade, Kilimnik was a fixture in Manafort's meetings with the region's leading politicians and oligarchs.

After so much time spent in close quarters, the relationship between the two became trusting and deep. By 2011, Kilimnik had taken over Manafort's office in Kiev. This made Kilimnik the primary interface for Manafort's lone client, a corrupt clique of former gangsters that ruled Ukraine under the banner of their political organization, the Party of Regions. When they weren't in each other's presence, the mentor and protégé exchanged "millions of emails" — at least in Kilimnik's estimate. "We discussed a lot of issues, from Putin to women," he once texted a reporter.

Since the early '80s, the Democratic and Republican parties have sent operatives abroad to promote the cause of democracy, to work with like-minded political parties to help spread the practical teachings of American electioneering. A large chunk of the funding for the organizations they started — the National Democratic Institute is the IRI's cousin from across the aisle — derives from the United States government. The groups attract both idealists and adventurers, most of them young politicos eager to ply their trade in exotic corners of the globe. Of all the adventures, the greatest was the former Soviet Union in the immediate aftermath of the Communist collapse, an opportunity to play a role in the region's first genuine campaigns in modern history. It was a chance to feel the intoxicating rush of newfound freedom.

In the dying days of the Soviet empire, Kilimnik had attended a language school run by military intelligence — the GRU — which had given him mastery of Swedish and English. It was this linguistic foundation that provided the basis for his hiring at the IRI. Konstantin Kilimnik went to work as a translator there at the crest of the post-Soviet era's optimism, before the prospects for democratic change dissipated and cynicism returned.

June 5

The Atlantic, Paul Manafort Loses His Cool, Franklin Foer, June 5, 2018. Special Counsel Robert Mueller says the longtime Trump associate tried to tamper with witnesses while awaiting trial on conspiracy and money-laundering charges. At the height of his powers as a political consultant, Paul Manafort was known for his cool. In fact, the value of his counsel increased at moments of crisis. While others panicked, Manafort rarely evinced a hint of frazzle. He could still think strategically, detach himself from emotion, and issue clearheaded guidance. But he could afford to keep his head at such moments, because the problems he was called on to solve belonged to others.

Robert Mueller's allegation that Manafort attempted to tamper with a witness permits us to peer inside Manafort's mind as it has functioned in a very different set of circumstances. When it comes to Manafort's own deep problems — his moment of legal peril — he seems unable to muster strategic thinking. He has shown himself capable of profoundly dunderheaded miscalculations.

It's hard to understand how he could have attempted the scheme described by Mueller in the midst of the highest-profile, most scrutinized criminal inquiry of the century. But that alone fails to capture the depths of his blundering.

Conservative Review, Robert Mueller's Israel problem, Jordan Schachtel, June 5, 2018. As the Mueller probe drags along into year two of its supposed investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, a disturbing pattern has emerged.

The special counsel has become obsessed with the state of Israel. The former FBI director is deeply suspicious, to the point of total paranoia, that there is a grand conspiracy involving the Trump campaign and transition officials as potential agents for the Israelis.

June 4

paul manafort abc flickr Custom

ny times logoNew York Times, Manafort Is Accused of Attempted Witness Tampering, Matta Apuzzo, June 4, 2018. Federal prosecutors on Monday accused President Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort (shown in a file photo above), of attempting to tamper with witnesses in his federal tax and lobbying case.

In court documents, prosecutors working for the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, said that Mr. Manafort tried to contact witnesses by phone and through an encrypted messaging program.

Prosecutors said that was a violation of Mr. Manafort's release while he awaits trial. They asked a federal judge to revise the terms of his release or revoke it entirely, which would send him to jail until trial.

An F.B.I. agent, Brock W. Domin, wrote in court documents that at least one witness reported Mr. Manafort's contact and said that he appeared to be trying to coach their story about Mr. Manafort's lobbying practices.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump says he has 'absolute right' to pardon himself but denies wrongdoing, John Wagner​, June 4, 2018.  President Trump's assessment echoed comments made by his attorney Rudolph W. Giuliani, who has offered an expansive view of the president's executive powers. Trump also took aim again at special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, calling his appointment "totally UNCONSTITUTIONAL."

washington post logoWashington Post, The president as the persecuted: Trump's strategy of self-victimization, Philip Rucker​, June 4, 2018.  The president has created around himself an aura of unfair persecution — by the nation's elites, Democrats, the media and law enforcement — that inspires sympathy from and solidarity with his aggrieved supporters.

washington post logorudy giuliani recentWashington Post, Giuliani: Under constitution, Trump could shoot Comey and not be indicted, John Wagner, June 4, 2018. President Trump's lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani reportedly said Sunday that Trump could shoot former FBI director James B. Comey in the Oval Office and still not be indicted for it while still serving as president.

The HuffPost reported that Giuliani, a former federal prosecutor, made the assertion on a day when he conducted a series of interviews in which he discussed the expansive powers granted to the president in the Constitution.

"In no case can he be subpoenaed or indicted," Giuliani said, according to the HuffPost. "I don't know how you can indict while he's in office. No matter what it is." Giuliani said that impeachment would be the remedy for a president's illegal behavior, offering as an example the hypothetical case of Trump shooting Comey rather than firing him, the HuffPost reported.

June 3

Donald Trump (Defense Department photo by Dominique Pineiro)

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump's Lawyers Assert Executive Power to Avoid Questioning, Michael S. Schmidt, Maggie Haberman, Charlie Savage and Matt Apuzzo, June 3, 2018 (print edition). President Trump's lawyers have for months quietly waged a campaign to keep the special counsel from trying to force him to answer questions in the investigation into whether he obstructed justice, asserting that he cannot be compelled to testify and arguing in a confidential letter that he could not possibly have committed obstruction because he has unfettered authority over all federal investigations.

In a brash assertion of presidential power, the 20-page letter — sent to the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, and obtained by The New York Times — contends that the president cannot illegally obstruct any aspect of the investigation into Russia's election meddling because the Constitution empowers him to, "if he wished, terminate the inquiry, or even exercise his power to pardon."

Mr. Trump's broad interpretation of executive authority is novel and is likely to be tested if a court battle ensues over whether he could be ordered to answer questions. Hand-delivered to the special counsel's office in January and written by two of the president's lawyers at the time, John M. Dowd and Jay A. Sekulow, the letter offers a rare glimpse into one side of the high-stakes negotiations over a presidential interview.

paul manafort cnn

Palmer Report, Opinion: The real reason Donald Trump just went berserk about Paul Manafort, Bill Palmer, June 3, 2018. When it comes to his own people taking him down, Donald Trump is facing trouble on a number of fronts. So why is Trump suddenly going berserk about Paul Manafort (shown above in a file screenshot), the one guy who has made a point of not selling him out?

Two things recently transpired which failed to get the headlines they should have. The first was that, two weeks ago, Paul Manafort's former son-in-law cut a plea deal against him. The second was that this past week, Manafort's friends set up a legal defense fund for him, thus confirming that he's out of money. When the people closest to you start flipping on you, and you can no longer afford your high priced lawyers, it's usually a sign that you're done.

We've been waiting to see if this was all going to add up to Paul Manafort concluding he's screwed, and reluctantly cutting a plea deal against Donald Trump. Now suddenly Trump is pushing Manafort back into the headlines, just to distance himself from the guy. This makes no sense at all, unless Trump thinks Manafort is about to flip on him. Has Manafort tipped Trump off as a courtesy, or is Trump merely looking at the same pieces of the puzzle that we are? In any case, this means that something is about to break with Manafort.

djt hope hicksPalmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump may have just sent Hope Hicks to prison, Bill Palmer, June 3, 2018. Last summer, after we learned that Donald Trump Jr had met with the Russians at Trump Tower during the campaign, the media reported that it was Donald Trump himself who dictated his son's public response.

Since that time, Trump has publicly insisted that this was not the case. Now we're learning that in January, Trump sent a confidential memo to Robert Mueller, admitting that he dictated the response, while arguing that it's legal for the president to obstruct justice. The trouble: he may have just sent Hope Hicks (shown in a file photo adjoining him) to prison in the process.

Donald Trump is not going to be able to sell the notion that it's legal for him to obstruct justice because he's the president. But even if he could pull that one off, his aides would still be committing a crime if they were conspiring with him to obstruct justice. In other words, in an attempt at protecting himself, Donald Trump and his memo may have just sent Hope Hicks to prison. Of course this in turn would only motivate her to cut a plea deal against Trump, so it may not exactly have been Trump's best move.

djt melania trump file

Palmer Report, Turns out Donald Trump has been ghost-tweeting for Melania for quite some time, Bill Palmer, June 3, 2018. Earlier this week, just as Melania Trump's vanishing act was becoming a major controversy, a new tweet appeared on her account which was obviously not written by her.

It was a rude attack on the media which sounded like it had been written by Donald Trump (shown above in a file photo with his wife). The next morning Donald gave himself away by using the exact same key phrase in one of his own tweets. It was clear that Donald was ghost-tweeting on Melania's account, making her disappearance even more suspicious. Now it turns out he's been ghost-tweeting for her for quite some time.

June 1

paul manafort rnc 2016 abc flickr

 Trump Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort at the 2016 Republican National Convention. Photo: Disney | ABC Television Group / Flickr

whowhatwhy logoWhoWhatWhy, To Flip Manafort: Is Mueller Gathering Plea Deals? Gina Bradbury, June 1, 2018. While many others targeted by special counsel Robert Mueller have agreed to cooperate, President Donald Trump's former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, has pleaded not guilty to various charges brought against him.

Earlier this month, Jeffrey Yohai — Manafort's former son-in-law and business partner — accepted a sealed plea agreement in response to conspiracy charges brought in a real estate fraud case. He also pleaded guilty to another count related to a bank account overdraft. Yohai has agreed to cooperate with state and federal prosecutors in New York and California, as well as with the special counsel's office, to answer questions regarding Trump's and his campaign members' ties to Russia.

In 2014, Paul Manafort developed a business partnership with his son-in-law in an effort to remedy the couple's financial struggles. (The couple separated in March 2017, ultimately divorcing in August.) From 2014 through 2016, Manafort invested hundreds of millions of dollars, together with funds Yohai had solicited from investors, that were rolled into limited liability companies (LLCs). The funds were used to purchase land and older properties in exclusive LA neighborhoods as spec home projects to turn a profit. Manafort, his wife Kathleen, and his daughter Jessica were the primary investors in three of the four properties.