Trump is done for . . . we are seeing the last gasps of a frantic man who knows he is drowning

GOP frantic that Trump is taking them down with him

President Donald Trump remains confident that he will be able to beat the rap on special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into his alleged collusion with Russia in the 2016 campaign, but other Republicans are not so sure, the Washington Post reported in a deeply sourced piece Saturday.

“Trump remains headstrong in his belief that he can outsmart adversaries and weather any threats, according to advisers. In the Russia probe, he continues to roar denials, dubiously proclaiming that the latest allegations of wrongdoing by his former associates ‘totally clear’ him,” the report says.

This confidence is not shared by other Republicans.

“Some GOP senators were particularly shaken by last week’s revelation that former national security adviser Michael Flynn had met with Mueller’s team 19 separate times — a distressing signal to them that the probe may be more serious than they had been led to assume,” the report said, sourcing the information to “senior Republican officials.”

“Anxiety is spiking among Republican allies, who complain that Trump and the White House have no real plan for dealing with the Russia crisis while confronting a host of other troubles at home and abroad,” the report says.

Inside the GOP they see Trump as having a “shrugged shoulders” strategy for the Mueller findings.

Among those who spoke on the record was former chief strategist Steve Bannon, who said that Trump should be prepared for “siege warfare” but isn’t.

“The Democrats are going to weaponize the Mueller report and the president needs a team that can go to the mattresses,” Bannon said. “The president can’t trust the GOP to be there when it counts . . . They don’t feel any sense of duty or responsibility to stand with Trump.”

Trump’s team is going to “wing it,” revealed a former White House official.

“A war room? You serious?” the source said. “They’ve never had one, will never have one. They don’t know how to do one.”

Retiring sometimes-Trump critic Arizona Senator Jeff Flake, who was replaced by a Democrat in the 2018 midterms, said the GOP is in deep trouble.

“It’s like the party is a frog slowly boiling in water, being conditioned to not be worried, to not think too hard about what’s happening around them,” Flake told the Post. “They feel at a loss about what to do because it’s the president’s party, without any doubt. So, there’s a lot of whistling by the graveyard these days.”

Read the full report here.

For his entire life Trump has been able to bluff and bully his way through.  He has never before encountered anything like Mueller, SDNY, Congressional Democrats — and the American public who recognizes him for the incompetent buffoon that he is.

Of the 42 allegations in the Steele dossier, almost h alf have been proven to be true.  Not one has been disproven.

The Steele Dossier is arguably the most controversial document in recent American history.

The bombshell document was first published by BuzzFeed News in January 2017, and included lurid allegations about President Donald Trump’s sexual proclivities along with details of more banal financial crimes.

The dossier is the subject of rage from Republicans who write it off as a partisan political document and scorn by leftists like journalist Glenn Greenwald, who dismissed it as “farcical”.

But Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank has unidentified three key facts from the dossier that special counsel Robert Mueller has now corroborated.

“White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said the latest filings ‘tell us nothing of value that wasn’t already known,’” he wrote. “That’s true in the sense that recent findings essentially corroborate much of the 2016 ‘dossier’ by former spy Christopher Steele.”

Specifically, Milbank points out that Mueller’s findings echo the dossier’s allegation that Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen had an “ongoing secret liaison relationship” with the Kremlin, including working to build a Trump Tower in Moscow into the middle of 2016 and lying about it.

But it’s not just that, Milbank writes.

“The new revelations about Cohen also show that the dossier correctly identified Putin lieutenants Dmitry Peskov and Sergei Ivanov as the ones managing the Trump campaign for the Russian government,” he says.

Peskov, who is now the Press Secretary for Russianb dictator Vladimir Putin, has only recently admitted to his deep ties to Cohen.

The dossier said that in August 2016 Peskov was “scared sh*tless” about the hacking of the DNC being exposed and blamed on him.

Ivanov was a rival to Peskov, also a former KGB agent, and was fired in August 2016.

As Milbank writes, five former Trump aides have now pleaded guilty in Mueller’s Russia probe, and many now see it as “perfectly plausible that Trump himself, as former aide Sam Nunberg put it, ‘may very well have done something during the election with the Russians.’”

Read the column here.

Just wait — before this is over, EVERY SINGLE ALLEGATION in the Steele dossier will be proven to be true — including the part about Trump entertaining prostitutes in a Moscow hotel room, complete with video.

Meanwhile, there’s this

Reuters reported how 19.5% of Rosneft, Russia’s state oil company, has been sold to “someone”. This was done through a very complex array of shell companies, so that the most that can be said with certainty now is that the money “paying” for it was originally loaned out to the shell layers by VTB (the government’s official bank), even though it’s highly unclear who, if anyone, would be paying that loan back; and the recipients have been traced as far as some Cayman Islands shell companies.

Two reasons why is this interesting:

Trump’s former advisers Paul Manafort and Carter Page have both worked with Rosneft and Gazprom for YEARS….which means dealing DIRECTLY with Putin.

The Steele Dossier included the statement that Putin had offered Trump a percentage of Rosneft if he became president and removed sanctions. The reason this is so interesting is that the dossier said this in July 2016 and the sale didn’t happen until early December 2016 And 19.5% sounds an awful lot like “19% plus a brokerage commission.”

Conclusive? No. But journalists, FBI, Intelligence services have been investigating and are close to putting it all together.

from Reuters:

How Russia sold its oil jewel: without saying who bought it

The problem is not Trump’s payment to porn stars . . . that’s just a sideshow to the real criminal activity

On Friday prosecutors filed three highly anticipated documents related to the investigation by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III. Allegations about hush-money payments and possible campaign finance violations by the president grabbed a lot of attention. But the key takeaway is this: A robust investigation into President Trump’s ties to Russia continues — and the administration’s legal peril based on those ties continues to grow.

Least revealing was the special counsel’s filing in Paul Manafort’s case, explaining why prosecutors believe Trump’s former campaign chairman repeatedly lied to them after agreeing to cooperate. Much of the information was under seal, and the portions we could see contained no bombshells. Many of Manafort’s lies apparently concerned his contacts with suspected Russian intelligence officer Konstantin Kilimnik, and most of that information was redacted, which suggests it may relate to the broader inquiry into Russian contacts with the campaign and not merely to Manafort’s personal financial dealings. But we will have to wait and see.

The two more interesting filings related to the sentencing of Michael Cohen, Trump’s former attorney. Cohen pleaded guilty to financial and campaign finance crimes in a case brought by prosecutors in the Southern District of New York, and then pleaded guilty to lying to Congress in a separate case brought by Mueller. Cohen’s lies to Congress related to a project to develop a Trump-branded tower in Moscow. Cohen told Congress the project had been abandoned by January 2016, when in fact negotiations continued through June, while Trump was wrapping up the Republican nomination.

Each prosecutor’s office filed its own sentencing memo related to Cohen. Mueller’s memo said Cohen had provided helpful and credible information related to his own Russian contacts during the campaign, information regarding “certain discrete Russia-related matters core to [the special counsel’s] investigation,” and his contacts with people connected to the White House in 2017 and 2018. We don’t know what “discrete Russia-related matters” are, but that no-doubt deliberately vague phrase covers a wide range of possibilities involving the campaign or Trump’s business interests. It’s clear that a good portion of Cohen’s extensive cooperation related to the heart of Mueller’s probe: possible criminal violations related to contacts with Russian interests.

Also intriguing was the report that Cohen told Mueller about the “circumstances of preparing and circulating his response to the congressional inquiries.” This raises the possibility that Cohen did not act alone when lying to Congress about the Moscow tower project; his answers may have been vetted by others. Anyone else involved would potentially be implicated in a coverup conspiracy.

Prosecutors in the Southern District of New York, who are not part of Mueller’s team, were much harder on Cohen in their sentencing memo. They said Cohen refused to fully cooperate with their office or discuss the full range of his own misconduct. They agreed he deserved some credit for cooperating with the special counsel but still called for a sentence of several years in prison.

Part of Cohen’s guilty plea in the Southern District case was to making illegal campaign contributions by paying off women threatening to expose their alleged affairs with candidate Trump. In their filing, prosecutors repeated what Cohen had already said in court, that when he paid the hush money he “acted in coordination with and at the direction of Individual-1” — Trump. This single phrase in a 38-page memo set off a barrage of claims that prosecutors had implicated the president himself in a felony.

The reality is more complicated. Although for most crimes ignorance of the law is no excuse, criminal campaign finance violations must be “willful,” which means the government must prove the defendant knew he was breaking the law. If Trump directed Cohen to pay women off but was not aware of the campaign finance implications, he may not be criminally liable, although conspiracy to defraud the United States, which does not require willfulness, might also be in play.

But the raging debate about the hush-money payments is something of a sideshow. Although serious, campaign finance violations often are not criminal and certainly are not the key issue here. The key is Russia, and Cohen has joined the ranks of other cooperators providing Mueller with extensive information on those issues. We now know Trump was secretly negotiating a deal with Russia worth hundreds of millions of dollars while running for president and while Russia was actively working to help him get elected. There is mounting evidence of substantial connections among Russia, the Trump campaign, and Trump’s business interests, and of a possible criminal conspiracy to conceal those connections.

Each new court filing reveals a few more pieces of the puzzle Mueller has been assembling. The picture that’s emerging suggests that Trump — and the country — have far bigger things to be concerned about than the intricacies of campaign finance law.

More illegal aliens coming forward about working for Trump

Two more immigrants have bravely stepped forward to say that they worked at Donald Trump’s Bedminster, New Jersey golf club despite not having authorization to be in the U.S., the New York Times reports, bringing the total number of Trump resort workers who say that management knew that they lacked legal status and employed them anyway to a total of four.

One of the two women, Gilberta Dominguez, said that the person interviewing her knew her documents were fake. ”’We said the papers are not good. She said it didn’t matter, but don’t talk about it,’ recalled Ms. Dominguez, who is from Mexico. The woman who interviewed them, she said, filled out the application for them and took their fake Social Security and permanent resident cards,” the New York Times reports.

Dominguez worked at the club for about six months and quit over abusive behavior from staff, something echoed from the other immigrants bravely taking on the president of the United States. “She called us ‘stupid people’ and would say, ‘This is America. Here they speak English, not Spanish,’” Dominguez told the New York Times.

Earlier this week, Victorina Morales stepped forward with the explosive revelation that she had worked at Trump’s club for five years and that management allegedly helped her secure false documentation so she could keep working there. Morales also decided to speak out after being subjected to abuse. “I’m tired of being humiliated and treated like a stupid person,” she said. “We’re just immigrants who don’t have papers.”

It shouldn’t be any shock that Trump, who has railed on undocumented immigrant, has exploited immigrant labor in his own businesses. Trump Tower was built on the back of undocumented Polish labor. But the workers also raise serious question of alleged criminal behavior by the Trump Organization that leading immigration attorney David Leopold says needs to be investigated.

“The number of  undocumented immigrants alleging they were recruited, hired and abused by the Trump organization at the Bedminster Club has grown and is likely growing,” he said. “These allegations smack of a pattern and practice of criminal activity and civil violations by the Trump organization.” Just as importantly, the awe-inspiring workers who stepped forward must be protected.

“The brave women who’ve come forward to seek justice are victims of crime,” he continued, saying that the “Department of Homeland Security and New Jersey authorities must protect Ms. Morales and the other undocumented workers by providing them legal protection potentially through the issuance of U and T visas and other forms of protection. No one is above the law, including the President of the United States, his family and his businesses.”

The Trump criminal enterprise is coming to an end — Fox won’t tell you this and Trump is lying about it

On Friday, Dec 7, the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York (SDNY) and Special Counsel Robert Mueller released sentencing memos related to Michael Cohen, Trump’s long-time lawyer and “fixer, and, Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign manager and all-around sleaze bag.  In these two memos we learn:

  • Cohen and Manfort, and their attorneys, were in regular contact with Trump and his attorneys as well as in regular contact with other witnesses.  The purpose of this contact was to coordinate their lies.
  • Russian intelligence agents contacted Trump and his campaign through Michael Cohen to provide “political synergy” — that is, to coordinate Russian activities on behalf to Trump with the Trump campaign.
One small section of Mueller’s memo reveals what will bring down Trump

On Friday, two sentencing memos were filed against President Donald Trump’s former attorney and fixer Michael Cohen — one by prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, recommending a sentence of around 51 to 63 months for tax evasion, bank fraud, illegal campaign finance, and lying to Congress, and one from special counsel Robert Mueller, who discussed his assistance in the Russia investigation.

Both of these documents are incredibly damning for Trump, with SDNY prosecutors strongly implicating Trump’s knowledge and consent to Cohen’s crimes. But perhaps one of the sections that should unnerve Trump most came from Mueller’s filing:

21 hours ago

This is an interesting line from Mueller: “The defendant amplified his false statements by releasing and repeating his lies to the public, including to other potential witnesses.”

“By publicly presenting this false narrative, the defendant deliberately shifted the timeline of what had occurred in hopes of limiting the investigations into possible Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.” — Mueller cares if you lie to the public.

This is significant because it suggests that not only is Mueller interested in lies told to Congress or to federal investigators, but lies to the public as well. And if Mueller is going after false statements told to the public, this should greatly worry Trump, who has lied in speeches, tweets, and interviews over 6,400 times since taking office.

On one hand, there is no federal statute directly making it a crime to lie to the public, the way there is for lying to Congress or to the FBI. On the other hand, it is entirely possible that Mueller could establish a pattern of false public statements to bolster a case for obstruction of justice — which he has reportedly considered.

Friday’s memos are the start of bringing down the Trump criminal enterprise

MSNBC’s “Up with David Gura” on Saturday analyzed President Donald Trump’s “horrible very bad no good day” after federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York publicly accused him of committing felonies as an unindicted co-conspirator in the case of Michael Cohen, his longtime “fixer” and lawyer.

“What changed yesterday?” Gura asked Mimi Rocah, the former chief of the Organized Crime and Racketeering Unit in the Southern District of New York. “How pivotal was it?”

“I think it was very pivotal,” Rocah replied.

“And while it’s not spelled out, I think what’s coming to light more and more is that those business deals that Cohen lied about — and I’ll talk about maybe others who might have lied about it in a second — are so intertwined with this campaign, collusion, election interference that we’ve all been focused on,” she explained.

Rocah reminded that special counsel Robert Mueller knows far more than has been publicly reported or revealed in legal filings.

“What’s starting to take shape, I think, is a narrative, if you will, that Mueller has long known, but I think we’re just starting to see it,” she argued. “But it’s this idea of the business and the political intertwining and that is ultimately I think what is going to bring down Trump, frankly.”

“Because it is the greediness, it is the inability to let go, to seek these business opportunities in Moscow,” she explained. “It’s this long standing relationship that we now know went back to 2015 when Russians were seeking out talking to Trump about, we think, business opportunities and probably a campaign.”

“So I think this is in some ways bigger than any of us had imagined in items of the scheme that was orchestrated,” Rocah suggested.

She also highlighted the “coordination of the lies.”

“You have this idea of people sending signals or getting their stories straight both publicly and privately,” she noted. “And you know who else does that is Donald Trump.”

“So a lot of what was written about Cohen in both filings could have been written about Trump, I think, about trying to get messages out to other potential witnesses and make sure everybody had their stories straight,” she concluded.

The extent of the Trump-Russia conspiracy is becoming clear

Throw all the prosecutorial sentencing reports together that emerged yesterday about Michael Cohen and Paul Manafort, stir gently, and what do we have? The commentary was so quick to get to the details, that it is useful to pull back and see the whole picture:

This story first appeared at DC Report

  • These are two bad guys who committed crimes small and large, and they will get real jail time. Cohen will get a bit of relief in his sentence for cooperating partially, but not a magic wand dismissal of prison time. Manafort is facing up to 15 years for crimes so far—after he blew his chances for leniency by lying to the special counsel’s office to whom he had promised cooperation.
  • President Trump committed felonies for hush-money payoffs to women for sex in violation of campaign finance laws, according to the U.S. government. That would sink anyone who isn’t the President of the United States, but Trump will hold himself above the law, by saying the president cannot be indicted.
  • What happens next is anyone’s guess or more the business of politics than of law. From Trump himself, there was a tweet, of course, saying these filings cleared him of any wrongdoing—despite the words in the document. We need to start hearing from Republican leaders, but with Democrats taking over the House, these documents will prompt endless hearings and necessary discussions about Trump’s involvement, up to the impeachment discussions that many Democrats are trying to avoid.  And with a new attorney general nominee, we will go through more questions about letting the special counsel finish his work.

We now know that prosecutors are proving Russian efforts at leverage in the Trump campaign and in the U.S. elections.

The talking heads are going nuts, of course. There were three highly anticipated sentencing filings that pundits hoped might offer more information about where the investigation by Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III is headed. We did not get that, exactly, but in two separate filings on Cohen and one on Manafort, we learned several new things.

About Manafort, the one-time head of the Trump campaign, a heavily redacted sentencing guidance from Mueller’s team said he should go to jail for a long time. The redactions kept a lot of reasons secret, but Mueller’s team said Manafort lied about his interactions with Konstantin Kilimnik, a Russian associate who Mueller has said has ties to the Russian military intelligence unit accused of hacking Democrats, and how they may have worked together to tamper with witnesses following Manafort’s arrest last year. Manafort also lied about a particular wire transfer, about an unrelated case, and about maintaining a continuing relationship with the president’s legal team.  Most of the details were filed under seal with the court.

About Cohen, there were separate sentencing recommendations from the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York on financial crimes and the cases involving the hush-money payments to Stormy Daniels, the adult-film actress whose name is Stephanie Clifford, and Karen McDougal, a former Playboy model to conceal affairs they said they had with Trump. The document cited evidence to show that Trump had directed the payments in violation of campaign finance laws. But the prosecutors rejected Cohen’s request to avoid a prison term and saying that he had “repeatedly used his power and influence for deceptive ends” and had not cooperated all that much with them.

The second sentencing document was from Mueller’s team, in which the special counsel said that Cohen did cooperate and should get no additional prison time beyond whatever penalty, probably four years imprisonment, arise from the New York charges. This document gave more information about Cohen leading prosecutors through months’ worth of contacts with Russians over a lucrative proposed Trump Tower Moscow project, several other attempts (plural) with other Russian nationals to reach out to the Trump campaign during 2015 to offer “political synergy,” and lots of testimony about the “preparation and circulation” of Cohen’s testimony to Congress. Former prosecutors went on TV to say this last point represents apparent evidence of obstruction of justice by the Trump White House.

About Trump. None of the documents were about the president directly, of course, but Individual 1, the president, was omnipresent in the sleazy businesses at hand.  Only Trump, Rudy Giuliani or his most ardent supporters could read these documents and not come away with a certain solemnness about the degree of criminal scheming involving Trump, his business and his campaign.

At the minimum, we now know that Cohen has offered information that is leading prosecutors to prove Russian efforts at leverage in the Trump campaign and in the U.S. elections, the heart of all the talk of “collusion.” At worst, these documents were prompting political talking heads to talk about Trump by using references as a possible Russian-version “Manchurian candidate.”

My job in this column is not to sanctify the evidence or to assign blame. But it is to note that we have entered into the very serious business part of the special counsel investigation and about what we are learning to be factual.

What is clear is that we need to stop talking about witch hunts and start talking about the word evidence.

Meanwhile, Jared Kushner is selling the Presidency to the Saudis

The son-in-law of President Donald Trump, Jared Kushner, has been in contact with Saudi Prince Mohammed for over two years as the royal family attempted to influence and manipulate him, reports the New York Times.

As the fallout continues over the murder of the October 2 killing of Jamal Khashoggi, the messages acquired by the Times show a long-term project to “woo” Kushner — including sending a delegation to the U.S. to meet him two years ago.

According to the report, “The ties between Mr. Kushner and Prince Mohammed did not happen on their own. Prince Mohammed and his advisers, eager to enlist American support for his hawkish policies in the region and for his own consolidation of power, cultivated the relationship with Mr. Kushner for more than two years, according to documents, emails and text messages.”

The report continues by saying that Kushner was considered a prime target right after Trump was elected.

“A delegation of Saudis close to the prince visited the United States as early as the month Mr. Trump was elected, the documents show, and brought back a report identifying Mr. Kushner as a crucial focal point in the courtship of the new administration,” the reports states.

You can read more here.

Tillerson unloads on Trump

Since being fired by President Donald Trump as secretary of state, Rex Tillerson has kept a very low profile. But on Thursday night in Houston, Tillerson broke that silence in a big way.

Here’s how he described the “why” behind the breakdown of his relationship with the President, according to the Houston Chronicle:
“So often, the President would say here’s what I want to do and here’s how I want to do it and I would have to say to him, Mr. President I understand what you want to do but you can’t do it that way. It violates the law.”
Um, what???
The President of the United States would tell the secretary of state how he wanted things done and the secretary of state would have to tell him it couldn’t be done the way he wanted because that was illegal?
This is all fine!
What’s scary about Tillerson’s admission? A few things.
1) Trump either doesn’t know the law or doesn’t care about the law
2) This isn’t the first time we’ve heard of this sort of I-am-the-law, Judge Dredd-like behavior from the President.
On that second point, remember that former FBI director James Comey has testified — under oath — that Trump, in a one-on-one meeting, asked him to put aside the Justice Department investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn. The President publicly pressured then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions to take up an investigation of Hillary Clinton’s email server. (Clinton was not charged in a previous FBI investigation.)
Time and time again — particularly in his interactions with the Justice Department — Trump has shown that he has zero understanding of the limits of his job.
Tillerson described Trump as “a man who’s undisciplined, doesn’t like to read, doesn’t read briefing reports, doesn’t like to get into the details of a lot of things but rather says ‘this is what I believe.'”
That approach is broadly in keeping with Trump’s experience in the private sector. In business, he largely did what he wanted — rules (and consequences) be damned. If things went bad, the penalty, usually, was bankruptcy — and Trump believed he could just deal and talk his way out of that sort of thing.
Trump has never understood the distinctions between being the head (figurehead, some would say) of a company and being the President of the United States. In his dealings with Sessions — and Tillerson — Trump’s assumption is that they will do whatever he tells them to do because, well, he’s the boss.
The idea that Tillerson, Sessions and the rest of the administration ultimately serve a) the people of the country and b) the rule of law is seemingly lost on Trump.
Need more evidence? Trump never forgave Sessions for recusing himself from the probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Why? “Jeff Sessions takes the job, gets into the job, recuses himself, which frankly I think is very unfair to the President,” Trump told The New York Times in July 2017. “It’s extremely unfair — and that’s a mild word — to the President.”
That Sessions recused himself to prevent any perception of bias in the investigation — you know, for the good of the country and all that — was totally lost on Trump. His only reaction to the situation was: This is bad for me, and so Sessions shouldn’t have done it.
Which, really, says it all.
Trump’s total ignorance of the law — whether willful or just from sheer obtuseness — is, at this point, a defining characteristic of his presidency. He simply doesn’t get that there are limits on his power, limits put in place to preserve the office of the presidency — and the broader institutions of our democracy.
We have a President who, according to his one-time FBI director and his first secretary of state, repeatedly proposed ideas that were in violation of established laws. Sit with that for a minute.
Later Friday, Trump responded to Tillerson’s comments on Twitter, saying that his current Secretary of State Mike Pompeo “is doing a great job,” adding, “His predecessor, Rex Tillerson, didn’t have the mental capacity needed. He was dumb as a rock and I couldn’t get rid of him fast enough.”

This is amazing — but not surprising

 

Furthermore, watch video of GHWBush’s funeral — especially when the congregation sings.  The Obama’s, Clinton’s, and Carter’s sing the hymns from memory.  Trump stands silent, grumpy, angry, unhappy that it’s not all about him.

Of course, Trump’s base — including evangelicals — don’t care.  They don’t want a “Christian” America — they want a white America.  Which is why they love him.