When a house of cards is built on a foundation of corruption and the winds of karma finally blow, it’s destined to fall at a rapid pace.
Donald Trump’s decades of deception are coming back to haunt him in a remarkable display of poetic justice. The very things that propelled Trump into superstardom, and ultimately the presidency, are proving to be his undoing. We’re watching the greatest con man in American history begin to experience an Icarus-like fall, after a meteoric rise.
The President of the United States has been implicated in criminal campaign finance violations — crimes that were committed in an effort to influence the election to help him obtain that title.
In the 80s and 90s, the tabloids helped propel Trump’s brand into American discourse through their obsessive, and at times scandalous, coverage of the Donald. Now, American Media, Inc. CEO, and longtime Trump ally David Pecker, has received immunity from federal investigators in the Michael Cohen investigation which probes Donald Trump’s conduct.
In the 2000s NBC’s The Apprentice broadcasted Donald Trump into Americans’ living rooms, presenting him as a brilliant businessman. Now, Trump’s most famous Apprentice Omarosa Manigault Newman has turned against him in a new book, releasing damning audio tapes corroborating her claims.
Throughout it all, the Trump Organization was there. Through its multiple failures and successes and its alleged frauds and schemes, CFO Allen Weisselberg, the one man who has seen it all, has now been granted immunity.
His former campaign manager Paul Manafort has been convicted on 8 felony counts.
His former national security adviser Michael Flynn has pleaded guilty and cooperated with investigators.
His former deputy campaign chairman Rick Gates has pleaded guilty and cooperated with investigators.
His former campaign adviser George Papadopoulos has pleaded guilty and cooperated with investigators.
And now, his former personal lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen has pleaded guilty and is allegedly looking to cooperate Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
Donald Trump is cornered. The chickens have begun to come home to roost.
After the events of this week, the prospect of impeachment hearings in the event Democrats win the House went from likely to inevitable. But of course, removal from office still remains unlikely, given the fact 67 votes in the Senate are needed and the GOP still stands behind him. Nonetheless, Mueller’s upcoming reports coupled with Trump’s low approval rating and the potential of a blue wave this November might change that calculus.
At the moment, the Republican Party has knelt to the whim of a President who has not only displayed a complete lack of basic human decency but has now been implicated in criminal conduct.
This whirlwind week ended with the death of the maverick John McCain. And it appears that the last remnants of the Republican Party’s decency have died with him.
Let’s dive in.
Day 578: Monday, August 20
“Truth Isn’t Truth”
Over the weekend, a bombshell New York Times report dropped that will have wide-ranging ramifications in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, and bled into Monday:
The White House counsel, Donald F. McGahn II, has cooperated extensively in the special counsel investigation, sharing detailed accounts about the episodes at the heart of the inquiry into whether President Trump obstructed justice, including some that investigators would not have learned of otherwise, according to a dozen current and former White House officials and others briefed on the matter.
In at least three voluntary interviews with investigators that totaled 30 hours over the past nine months, Mr. McGahn described the president’s fury toward the Russia investigation and the ways in which he urged Mr. McGahn to respond to it. He provided the investigators examining whether Mr. Trump obstructed justice a clear view of the president’s most intimate moments with his lawyer.
Among them were Mr. Trump’s comments and actions during the firing of the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, and Mr. Trump’s obsession with putting a loyalist in charge of the inquiry, including his repeated urging of Attorney General Jeff Sessions to claim oversight of it. Mr. McGahn was also centrally involved in Mr. Trump’s attempts to fire the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, which investigators might not have discovered without him.
President Trump did not take kindly to the reporting, going on a Twitter tirade on Sunday morning.
Meanwhile, Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani went on the Sunday show’s and made a gaffe that conquered the Twitter trends…
On Monday, President Trump continued his obstructive claims:
In other news…
- Reuters: Exclusive: Trump worries that Mueller interview could be a ‘perjury trap’
- The Washington Post: Brett Kavanaugh memo proposed explicit questions for President Bill Clinton
- The Washington Post: Trump speechwriter fired amid scrutiny of appearance with white nationalists
- The Washington Post: RNC deputy finance chair steps down after admitting Trump’s lawyer negotiated settlement between him and pregnant Playboy model
- This Politico headline would be much more meaningful within the next 24 hours: Michael Cohen’s attorney says he’s talking to lawyer who brought down Nixon
Day 579: Tuesday, August 21
Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer/”fixer” and the RNC’s former deputy finance chairman, has entered into a guilty plea as part of the criminal investigation being conducted by federal investigators in the Southern District of New York (SDNY). Cohen was being probed for over $20 million in bank fraud and violating election law by trying to suppress damaging information about then-candidate Donald Trump.
The guilty plea admits to 8 counts that include bank fraud, tax fraud, and campaign finance violations. Long story short, Michael Cohen has pleaded guilty to criminal conduct that took place on behalf of Donald Trump. Although this plea agreement does not include a cooperation agreement, that does not mean one might not come in the future. As part of the plea, Cohen could face 3–6 years in prison.
This has wide-ranging consequences on its own merit, but if Michael Cohen chooses to cooperate with the SDNY or with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, there is much more the President should be worried about.
For a deeper dive into the charges and what Cohen could reveal if he cooperates, read this.
Within minutes of the news of Cohen’s plea, the jury in the trial of former Trump Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort reached their verdict.
Manafort was found guilty on 8 counts (5 tax fraud, 2 bank fraud, and 1 of hiding foreign accounts), with verdicts unable to be reached for the remaining 10 counts. Manafort is 69 years old and faces up to 80 years in prison for these convictions.
Judge Ellis, who has faced allegations of bias in this trial, declared a mistrial on those 10 counts after the jurors couldn’t come to a consensus.
Manafort’s total felony charges were at 24, with the remaining to be tried in an upcoming DC trial in September.
One of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s objectives in his investigation has long been to flip Paul Manafort into a cooperating witness. But many have speculated that Manafort has not cooperated because he awaits a Trump pardon.
So, what does this indictment mean? To grasp its significance, we have to dive into Manafort’s past. To read more about this, read this.
There were now four Trump associates who have pleaded guilty to felony charges during the Trump presidency and five total convicted felons if you include Paul Manafort. Cohen joins former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn, former deputy campaign chairman Rick Gates, and former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos.
In spite of all of this, Fox News continued to defend the President.
In other news…
- Politico: Mueller seeks to push back Flynn sentencing again
- NBC News: Trump plan rolls back Obama’s coal emissions standards
- The New York Times: New Russian Hacking Targeted Republican Groups, Microsoft Says
- McClatchy DC: Trump’s budget chief is trying to protect his home state from tariffs
- The Guardian: Author of Trump-Russia dossier wins libel case in US court
- The Washington Post: Trump adviser Larry Kudlow hosted publisher of white nationalists at his home
- Bloomberg: Trump Security Team to Face Jury for 2015 Attack on Activists
- The Washington Post: Trump threatens clearance of former official after seeing him in heated TV debate
- Trump held a rally in West Virginia. His crowd chanted “Lock her up!”
Day 580: Wednesday, August 22
“Crimes Aren’t Crimes”
On Tuesday I tweeted this.
On Wednesday, we essentially got a tweet from the President of the United States that claimed just that.
There isn’t much fact-checking that needs to be done here other than pointing out that the crimes Micahel Cohen pleaded guilty to are indeed…crimes. Also, the Obama campaign violations was a clerical error on the part of the campaign, nothing more.
President Trump also sent out other tweets about Cohen and Manafort.
In other news…
- NBC News: Michael Cohen willing to share ‘all that he knows’ with Mueller, lawyer says
- The Wall Street Journal:
- The Daily Beast: Trump Denies Telling Cohen to Pay Off Women, Despite Tape
- CNBC: Michael Cohen paid a mysterious tech company $50,000 ‘in connection with’ Trump’s campaign
- Associated Press: New York state subpoenas Cohen in Trump Foundation probe
- CNN: Rep. Duncan Hunter and his wife indicted in use of campaign funds for personal expenses
- Rolling Stone: Steven Tyler Sends Trump Cease-and-Desist Letter For Playing Aerosmith
- Speaking of chickens coming home to roost.
Day 581: Thursday, August 23
Thursday started out with President Trump’s interview with Fox & Friends airing. One of the first clips released was President Trump claiming that “flipping,” in other words cooperating with federal investigators, should be outlawed…
Then, President Trump continued his war with his own attorney general.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions had a strong response.
What was once a red line for Republicans appears to no longer be one.
As this was occurring, news of American Media’s David Pecker getting immunity as part of the investigation into Cohen signaled even more bad news for Donald Trump.
In other news…
- ABC News: DNC now says earlier attempt to hack voter database an unauthorized phishing ‘test’
- Yahoo News: White House blocks bill that would protect elections
- The New York Times: Education Secretary Considers Using Federal Funds to Arm Schools
- CNN: Trade war: The US and China just slapped new tariffs on each other
- BBC: South Africa rejects Donald Trump’s tweet on farmer killings
Day 582: Friday, August 24
The Trump Organization’s Reckoning
In what could potentially be one of the most detrimental developments of Trump’s presidency next to Cohen’s plea, depending on what capacity he cooperates, Allen Weisselberg appears to have flipped. NBC News reported:
The longtime chief financial officer of the Trump Organization, Allen Weisselberg, was given immunity by federal prosecutors in New York during the course of the Michael Cohen investigation, according to two people with knowledge of the matter.
The news was first reported Friday by The Wall Street Journal.
Weisselberg is “Executive 1” on page 17 of the criminal information filed by prosecutors in the Michael Cohen case, a person with knowledge of the matter told NBC News.
According to prosecutors, Cohen, then Trump’s attorney, sent an invoice to Executive 1, meaning Weisselberg, for “Payment for services rendered for the month of January and February, 2017,” a payment that was really meant to reimburse Cohen for a payment to Stormy Daniels.
Weisselberg then sent the invoice to another Trump Organization executive via e-mail directing him to “Please pay from the Trust. Post to legal expenses. Put ‘retainer for the months of January and February 2017’ in the description.”
A spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York declined comment.
Weisselberg, 70, began working for the Trump Organization as an accountant in the 1970s, when President Donald Trump’s father, Fred, ran the company. Weisselberg was also treasurer of the Donald J. Trump Foundation, the president’s charitable organization, which has been sued by the New York attorney general for alleged violations of state law.
In other news…
- President Trump had a few morning tweets, which we responded to.
- The New York Times: Trump Organization Could Face Criminal Charges From Manhattan D.A.
- The New York Times: Kremlin Sources Go Quiet, Leaving C.I.A. in the Dark About Putin’s Plans for Midterms
- CNBC: Trump cancels Pompeo trip to North Korea, cites lack of ‘sufficient progress’ on denuclearization
- President Trump’s approval rating took some hits:
- Politico: McCain to discontinue medical treatment
Day 583: Saturday, August 25
The Last Republican
The ‘Maverick,’ Vietnam War hero, and dignified statesman died at age 81 after his fight with brain cancer. But his legacy of fighting for what he believed in will live on in history. The following is an excerpt from my tribute to John McCain and highlights of his 10 best moments. If you’d like to read them all, check out the full article here.
It was July 28, 2017. There was a lot of commotion. People on Twitter were speculating about the body language of the Senators, searching for any indication of how they might vote. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) remained steadfast in their opposition and voted “no.” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) thought he had all of the Republican votes accounted for…except for John McCain’s.
It was 1 in the morning. Some saw McCain huddled with Pence. Then he was with McConnell. And then he was seen talking to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), a conversation Schumer left smiling. Suddenly, Democrats on the Senate floor appeared happy. The American people remained unsure of what would happen next…
McConnell seemed distraught as McCain walked up to the center of the Senate floor. He voted “no,” and walked away…
This was one of the most pivotal moments of 2017, and one of John McCain’s final acts in the Senate. In this one act, he shot down the most significant threat to the Affordable Care Act thus far, helping to save millions from potentially losing their healthcare. It was also a powerful rebuke of President Donald Trump.
Before John McCain began his distinguished career in politics, he served in the military. When fighting in Hanoi, Vietnam in October 1967, his plane was shot down at about 3,500 feet in the air. As his plane spiraled down at 550 miles an hour, McCain ejected. After landing, he was taken as a prisoner of war. This was just the beginning of his story. McCain would go on to be tortured for 5 years, and he never broke. After the Vietnamese found out his father was an Admiral, McCain was offered to leave early: he heroicly declined, noting that others who were there before him should be released before him.
This didn’t impress five-time draft dodger, and then-Candidate, Donald Trump. Trump infamously said McCain was not a war hero and that he only likes “people who weren’t captured.”
“I think it’s important for Donald Trump to express his appreciation for veterans. What he said about me, John McCain, that’s fine. I don’t require any repair of that. But when he said, ‘I don’t like people who were captured,’ then there’s a body of American heroes, and I’d like to see him retract that statement. Not about me, but about the others.”
That wasn’t the last time McCain would speak out against Trump nor was it the last time he would break with dogma to stand up for what he believed in. McCain’s career is full of moments like this. He was a true patriot.
Ahmed Baba is Co-Founder and COO/Editor-in-Chief of Rantt Media. Writer of Unpresidented and the Rantt Rundown, Ahmed has documented and analyzed every day of the Trump presidency. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or found on Twitter @AhmedBaba_.
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