Case 1: Michael Cohen made the payment to the prostitute for hushing her as a personal benefit to Donald Trump and violated campaign laws by not reporting it.
Case 2: Michael Cohen was paid on retainer and used this money on occasion to pay for people like the prostitute to “fix” or hush them up. It has nothing to do with the campaign.
Case 3: Part of Michael Cohen’s job was to fix things affecting the election and part of his retainer was used to shut the prostitute up during the campaign and potentially other things related to the campaign
Case 1: Voluntary contribution
Donald Trump is not liable because his campaign did not receive or disburse the funds and it was the goodwill of M Cohen to help his friend. Whether D Trump knew of it or not it was not his responsibility to report it. This makes M Cohen potentially liable however, if that is the case then a lot of people are in trouble and Hillary in particular owes BILLIONS of dollars to the FEC.
During the campaign people such as Donna Brazile gave Hillary questions for the debate before others heard them. How much is gaming the 3 debates that many believe decided the election worth?
It is said the FBI and other republicans gave money to Steele to investigate DT. Did they report this as campaign donations to Hillary.
Did the media who worked tirelessly for Hillary and showed bias (Harvard said 96% bias) during the campaign have to pay fines for contributing to Hillary’s campaign and not reporting it?
What about the stories submitted to the Hillary campaign by the news media that they approved or that the campaign wrote and then was printed as independent news by the media and opinion worth?
Hillary Clinton owned the DNC and effectively completely skirted campaign contribution limits because donations to the DNC are not limited or tracked yet she had 100% control of those monies, the ability to hire and fire anyone at the DNC per her agreement in 2009.
She bought the DNC. Trump did not own the RNC. In fact they worked against him.
Hillary’s campaign was able to liberally use Facebook social network information. They got a complete dump of it unlike the app company that was criticized for helping the Republicans. The Democrats paid nothing for this and it was worth millions. They didn’t report this as a campaign contribution.
Verdict: Trump not liable. Michael may have a fine. Unlikely though.
Case 2: Just doing his fixit job
As many people have pointed out what Cohen did with the agreement with the prostitute was done with lots of people by our federal government on behalf of senators and congressman.
Dozens of these federal officials have hush contracts paid for and signed by the government on behalf of our representatives. Over $20 million dollars has been paid to hush these women (in most cases) up. It is not illegal or even slightly illegal to do this apparently.
There is also case law on this. US Democratic Senator John Edwards was charged with campaign violations because he spent $1 million of his donors money to hush up a mistress as many Congress people we discover do with other peoples money.
He was exonerated on the “mistress rule” that says the need to keep the affair secret from his wife was sufficient reason.
According to Giuliani Cohen was paid $35k/month retainer which he was to use the funds to generally pay for things needed to fix things for Donald. Donald Trump has been doing this for years with Cohen and this is what he uses the retainer for. Thus Cohen himself didn’t pay for the prostitute. It is extremely likely that the rule for this is that Donald is not to know anything of the activities he engages in order to shield the guy from any charges of knowing any of this.
While this is something you or I don’t do or have access to in some sense this is exactly the same thing the congress had done with their payoff and hush scheme as well as many other people. Donald undoubtedly did this as a matter of business and this happened before the campaign so it is unclear how to tie it to the campaign but even if it was part of campaign spending DT can spend his own money as he wants and there is no legal restriction in campaign law that the money be used for any purpose.
In most of the FEC regulations the main concern is that donations exceeding the limits are not received. This is simply an expenditure. Since it was his own campaign funds for 90% of his campaign costs there is no way to tie donated funds to the Cohen expenses. Donors did not pay for this.
Verdict: Donald Trump: No liability. Cohen: No liability
Case 3: Part of his job and retainer was for election activities
Again, this is similar to Case 2 and may be covered. Even if some of Cohen’s retainer could be imputed to be campaign expenditures this simply falls under possibly not reporting all expenses.
Verdict: Donald Trump: Possible small fine. Cohen: No liability
What is the penalty for FEC violations?
In general FEC violations are fines, not even misdemeanors. If they were felonies then of course half the congress would be in jail.
However, if someone lies to the congress or explicitly lies to the FBI or other agencies it could be a felony. Hillary did lie about the spending on Perkins Coie for the Steele dossier. She lied about knowing anything about its source, she and others including Clapper and Brennan lied about their knowledge of the funding of the dossier.
These could all be felonies and result in jail time but none of the 3 cases above rise to even a misdemeanor. Let alone the high bar set by the constitution for impeachment. The constitution is clear that it is high crimes such as treason, felonies of severe nature which could cause a president to be impeached. These would have to be proved in the senate to a high degree of confidence so that 2/3 of the Senate will agree the President violated a serious law that imperiled his ability to function.
The law firm resisted telling congress about the funding of the dossier requiring federal subpoena by the congress NOT the FBI or DOJ to find the bank records to show that Hillary and the DNC paid foreign nationals $12 million for false information on DT to harm the campaign. They conspired to release it to the press to harm DT’s campaign. Hillary’s state department and the FBI may also have paid for some of this information. Surprisingly never spending a cent to verify any of it.
What about bank fraud?
Some have speculated that since Cohen claims he took a $130K home loan to pay the prostitute that this was bank fraud. He did not use the funds to improve his house. However, to my knowledge nobody in history has ever been charged with not using the funds from a home loan on the purposes described in the application. I don’t believe there is anyway to get a serious charge related to the idea that he used money from his house to pay for the prostitutes silence.
Verdict: No bank fraud possible
Update: since I wrote this I didn’t know about Cohen’s taxi medallion business. Bank fraud related to the $20 million in taxi medallion loans may indeed be a problem. Also he apparently underreported income possibly by $2 million or more. Those are clearly crimes by Cohen and don’t involve Donald Trump.
No matter what Cohen did there is no possibility that a serious crime was committed regarding the payment to the prostitute for hushing.
Did Cohen hire a person to threaten the prostitute? Quite possibly. There are lawyers in class action suits who use such people to send letters and have people confronted. To threaten and belittle them.
In numerous cases I know about Presidents of corporations are routinely assaulted by class action lawyers who hire people to write threatening letters to get them to pay up. It is this kind of harassment that our class action system has brought about. I consider it horrific and if Cohen did that I have no idea what crime it falls under but he should get some penalty as should many other lawyers who do this.
Cohen’s offices were raided. I know of no class action attorneys who have had their law offices raided so I assume what they have on Cohen is more than simply the paying off of a prostitute in a hush deal or similar deals. It cannot be simply using money from a home loan. The feds better have something really serious on Cohen related to other things he did for DT or otherwise. So far, the things uncovered would not justify the intrusion of our laws of lawyer / client confidentiality.
If there are no significant charges coming against Cohen then there is a serious problem here that dwarfs any concern of a prostitute hush payoff or harassment claim.
If the government had no other basis to violate lawyer client confidentiality we have a serious crime committed by our government similar to the scheme to entrap Donald Trump and the FISA abuse allegations.
The FBI according to Time Magazine is in serious trouble never before seen in its history.
Time magazine published an article today about the embattled FBI. The liberals are taking notice of the fact that a dozen FBI officials have been fired or suspended in regards to the Trump investigation. That numerous violations have been seen in the behavior and code of the FBI by senior officials who should have known better that brings disrepute on the whole FBI.
Should the FBI name be changed to FBTI? Federal Bureau of Trump Investigation?
Just today Rod Rosenstein refused again to provide to congressional oversight the document which explains the scope of the Mueller investigation. This document is NOT a national security document. It doesn’t contain highly classified information but he has provided only heavily redacted versions of the document.
In the Hill today much was made of Rosensteins statements that he is a career department official and loves the department. He is well respected we are told. That’s irrelevant. The only thing relevant is WHY is he refusing to toss over a document that the American people and the congress surely have every right to see? Since when is the FBI a fourth branch of government that decides what the president and the congress can see and can’t see?
Rod Rosenstein besides Comey and McCabe is obviously to my eye the key part of the deep state. He is defended by Mueller. They have a big bond obviously. Rod is trying to keep Mueller safe from any oversight so he can do whatever dirty work he wants.
Every time Rosenstein has been threatened Mueller has come to his defense. I truly believe Rosenstien is the lynchpin of the Deep State. When Rosenstein’s job was threatened a month ago over the memo on the justification for the original probe Mueller tossed over the Cohen referral so Rod could approve a raid on the lawyer in a last ditch effort to find something to nail Trump with.
Obviously whatever they have today is insufficient or they wouldn’t need to do this and if Rosenstein leaves they know that they won’t have operatives left in the FBI except for Wray possibly. I have no strong opinion yet on Wray but he is suspect as well.
It was not surprising that when the house put forward articles of impeachment for Rosenstein yesterday that Mueller tossed out another bone. He started talking about subpoena’ing the president’s testimony. Again deflection meant to move the discussion away from why Rosentstein is a deep state operative hiding everything he can from the congress oversight.
Rod Rosenstein must explain why he is resisting presenting documents that are rightly the people’s documents and for which we have every right to know. He is resisting releasing texts of his and Comey’s to the congress. This obstruction must stop. Rosenstein must be impeached.
Nothing in this investigation is actually secret. There is literally no involvement of Russia in anything. It’s absurd. 13 people were indicted by Mueller none of whom have been in the US and none of whom have any relevance for anything going on today in any of this investigation. Mueller seems focused now on finding anything he can on Donald using any means including raiding lawyers, putting wiretaps on lawyers. Monitoring the Presidents conversations. We have a government gone rogue. We have a deep state that needs to be impeached and removed from office and then prosecuted.
Back to the FBI
Besides the obvious huge politicization of the FBI, DOJ, CIA and NSA there are charges that the FBI has failed to secure convictions at the same rates and numerous failures of the FBI under James Comey. In all, James Comey seems to be the worst FBI director in history by far.
So far the crimes committed by the deep state including the FBI are documented and severe:
1) Lying to the FBI and Congress repeatedly about the source of funding, leaks, and spending on foreign nationals by people such as the head of the DNI and the CIA and the head of DOJ, FBI and numerous other federal officials.
2) Leaking sensitive and classified information including from the state department, the FISA court, the White House and congress and other government agencies to news organizations and third party individuals.
3) Not being completely frank to a FISA court providing false information and uncorrobotated information known to be produced and paid for by biased observers. Using as corroborating information derived from the same source as other material and not telling the judge. In general not being frank with a judge and lying to them. Not telling the FISA court the extent of the spying done on behalf of the order. Reapplying for FISA grants even though the subject had no known activity related to the charges made. Not telling the FISA court that the source had violated the FBI agreements and lied to the FBI. Not telling the FISA court the funding of the information. Not telling the FISA court exculpatory information required. Not telling the FISA court that the provider said he would do anything to get DT. Not telling the FISA court that the documents were not verified at all or why they weren’t verified.
4) Abuse of the FISA process with thousands of uncoverings done illegally and on targets not designated and for purposes unrelated to the FISA application. Hundreds of uncoverings done without any FISA application cited.
5) Possibly forgery of Samantha Powers name on a thousand FISA uncoverings to hide the true person violating the FISA law.
6) Violations of ethics in not recusing themselves when presented with situations obviously having the clear appearance of bias including the assignment of people from the hillary investigation to the Trump investigation. Prosecutors who have communications and relationships with judges overseeing FISA cases. Assigning people who should have recused themselves from being prosecutors because of their relationship with key defendants or witnesses. People whose wives worked for one of the key providers of information. People whose wives received $700,000 in campaign funds by the opposing candidate in the investigation all of whom did not recuse themselves even though there is clear appearance of bias.
7) Applying different standards for Hillary and Donald Trump.
8) Giving immunities to Hillary’s IT staffers improperly. Not enforcing immunity agreements
9) Obstructing the oversight of the FBI and DOJ by the congress by withholding, slow walking and hiding information that was requested by the congress
10) Conspiring to create an insurance policy against a duly elected President of the US.
11) Abusing the Spying capabilities of the FISA section 702 information to look at a competitive campaign
12) Sharing information from a FISA court orders to outside private companies and people conspiring to overthrow and entrap a duly elected President of the US
13) Conspiring to overthrow a duly elected President of the US
Many of these charges are backed by evidence uncovered by the house intelligence committee or by the IG or the ethics office of the DOJ. Reports are expected shortly on many of these things and indictments.
The house intelligence committee has forwarded referrals for prosecution 12 individuals including the head of the CIA, DNI, FBI, DOJ and others for charges related to the above. These are documented crimes that are likely to be prosecuted.
Now we might be able to add:
14) Violations of ethics and violations of court orders deceiving a court justice to invade the lawyer / client privilege.
15) Overstepping prosecutorial bounds by purposely avoiding giving information to a judge who has to make a decision regarding a defendant who has pleaded guilty in exchange for cooperation with a prosecutor.
James Comey is mentioned a lot and clearly he is grossly incompetent director of the FBI. Even Time magazine seems to be conceding this.
When he spoke to the President the president explicitly asked him on occasion which he wrote in his journal that the President wanted to know if this conversation was private. Comey assured the president it was private and then proceeded to leak it and even write about it.
James Comey in his exculpatory letter for Hillary stated that in spite of the fact that Hillary lied to the FBI on numerous occasions and to the congress, that in spite of the fact she did have secret emails on her computer contrary to federal law, in spite of the fact that her IT aides deleted and bit scrubbed 30,000+ emails even after receiving a subpoena her crimes did not rise to prosecutable offenses. So, even though the FBI has prosecuted people for having secret information on private devices many times and even though the FBI has prosecuted people for violating subpoenas and even though the FBI has prosecuted people many times for lying to the FBI and congress they chose in the case of Hillary not to do so.
Yet, James Comey yesterday said that he wanted Hillary to be president because she had an extraordinary understanding and compliance to the rule of law. Is this the same person who said both things?
James Comey said that when he talked to President Trump elect about the dossier he failed to mention that it was paid for by Hillary and the DNC. He said this was not his purpose. The idea that not telling the president that it was paid for by his opponents is not relevant or that if he is correct that he didn’t know it was paid for by the democrats is proof of gross incompetence if not collusion against a president.
In the same way Comey never seems to have considered mentioning that the dossier was paid for by the DNC and Hillary important for the FISA judge to know. In general Comey seems unbelievably clueless. He apparently didn’t know that Strozek and Page were conspiring with McCabe on an insurance policy. That they were partisans who somehow were assigned to all the political cases and he never noticed the two different ways that the law was meted out to Hillary and to Donald Trump?
Seriously, we are to believe such a grossly incompetent and unaware person was running the FBI and rose through the ranks and he has no idea who people are and assigns them with no regard to recusal considerations, signs FISA applications with deceptive information when the highest most important job of any FBI agent is to ultimate candor and truthfulness?
We are to believe Comey did not see the difference between the latitude he gave Hillary and the way he lied to the President? We are to believe that on the one hand he can say Hillary is a liar, almost grossly incompetent and violated the spirit of the law and had numerous ethical violations in having a private server in the first place and then saying she has incredible respect and understanding of the law.
We are to believe that Comey never thought it was odd to be surveilling the candidate opposed to the current party in power or to assign people responsible for the Hillary investigation to this investigation?
We are to believe that Comey never noticed that Bruce Ohr’s wife worked for Fusion GPS and yet he was working on the Trump investigation and Hillary scandal. We are to believe he didn’t think that McCabe’s wife getting 700,000 dollars from a Hillary operative was appearance of bias and ask for his recusal? We are to believe Comey was utterly clueless about everybody in his department and that he doesn’t see the gross difference in his behavior with respect to DT and Hillary or Obama?
We will see if James Comey like Hillary, like so many in the Democratic camp are immune to prosecution and having their lawyers offices raided. We will see if there is really two types of justice in America. That’s what it comes down to.
America has always been the country that has taken down the powerful. The oil companies, banks and others have been prosecuted and broken apart when necessary. It is a critical element of our success that people feel absolutely without doubt that if you commit a crime you will be prosecuted even if you are rich and powerful.
This is a key reason why America has prospered and will prosper. This is no small thing. We have to do this. We have to prosecute these people.
Politicization of Government
The first thing that should have been obvious to even the most partisan person is that spying on the other campaign during an election should be illegal or if not illegal should be done with an incredible care that no charges of bias could be lodged.
The FBI sought a FISA application, lying in the FISA application in numerous ways and having a special relationship of Peter Strozek and one of the FISA judges that was not disclosed. This FISA application was purportedly used to spy on a campaign official of one of the presidential aspirants and yet the FBI at no time seemed to consider this was an issue.
No one should be spying on another campaign through the auspices of the government without an incredible level of protection. Can everyone not agree this is obvious and necessary? How could the FBI and all these officials never considered that they were spying on the competitor in a presidential campaign? Regardless of the merit of the charges such a thing should never be undertaken without incredible guards.
The fact this occurred points out that either the people involved are INCREDIBLY dumb and incredibly unaware of how this would look to any observer that they were doing this or that they were actually actively involved in a conspiracy against one of the candidates in a presidential election.
The fact that text messages refer to “insurance policy” and “secret society” to discuss the campaign. The fact that it is clear there has been a huge effort for more than a year to keep hidden and to block oversight by the congrees into a highly important and contentious issue is very strong evidence of a conspiracy or complicity of individuals in a plan to unseat a duly elected president.
It is very important to understand that all of this we are talking about is regards to a domestic election. There is no secret information that needs to be redacted in a domestic issue. There should be NO REDACTION in any documents from the FBI or DOJ. This is completely 100% a domestic concern about our internal processes and our elections. There is no reason to withhold information by the FBI or DOJ when we are talking about an election in the US.
This is a conspiracy with FACTUAL evidence in the form of texts, blocked and innacurate response to subpoenas, destruction of information such as the texts of some FBI agents. The refusal to reveal text messages of other agents. The facts of the FISA applications and disclosures of the improper relationships and assignment of individuals on all these cases points to an indisputable operation to unseat a duly elected president.
This is not like the Russia conspiracy investigation pushed by Democrats which literally has not one scintilla of evidence. There is not one text, conversation or document that in any way implies that the Trump campaign or anyone in it sought information or used information from foreign sources to harm Hillary Clinton whereas there is undeniable evidence of the use by Hillary of foreign sources to try to unseat Donald Trump.
The weight of the evidence has shifted dramatically. We know that the meetings purported to be evidence of DT campaign conspiracy with Russians turn out to be completely planned and setup by the Democrats and their agents paid for by the DNC and Hillary Clinton campaign. The purported meetings that are evidence of DT collusion are utterly meetings planned and setup by operatives of the CLinton campaign designed to frame the president in an “insurance policy” with the knowledge of the FBI and key upper operatives such as Strozek and Page as well as McCabe and others.
Our democracy has been hacked. Not by Russians who never affected one vote. It was hacked by Democrats who have been spouting false allegations and conspiring against a duly elected President in every way they can.
Is there any crime for this? Can working a scam to discredit a politician be considered a crime?
I am not sure. However, in the process of executing their crime and attempt to treasonously overthrow a president of the US they committed numerous coverups, lies to the FBI and congress and there was a clear conspiracy. These are serious charges and it is likely a large number of people in the highest levels of the government are guilty of being overzealous in their pursuit of winning the presidency in 2016 and then to overthrow the president who was elected.
Is this treason? Is this just dirty tricks?
Dirty tricks are things like breaking into an office and getting lists of people. Sending emails to deceive or disrupting rallies. The intent is to prevent the other person from being elected but we expect a certain amount of this type of activity to occur in every election.
Hillary Clinton’s campaign had 2 paid officials who hired thugs to go into Trump campaign rallies to disrupt and make them look violent. Donna Brazille leaked questions in the debates to Hillary. Reporters worked hand in hand with the DNC and Hillary bought the DNC and abused the primary process for the democrats, defrauded one of the candidates for nomination and then skirted campaign contribution limits using her control of the DNC to contribute to her campaign. These I would classify as dirty tricks and they rise to a level I haven’t seen in any campaign myself ever before.
Nonetheless these pale in comparison to the idea that the federal government and its senior officials in bodies such as the FBI, DOJ, CIA and NSA were complicit in a plan to frame and pin a candidate. This is a totally different level of dirty trick that is more like what we see in the most corrupt third world dictatorship. Never in my life would I expect to see such partisan behavior by senior law enforcement and security agencies of the US government. This is truly a threat to our democracy on a scale never seen before and the Russia controversey pales in comparison to this.
Russia did not affect the election. All of this is a scam. There is no evidence that any rally or Macedonian tweets or anything done by the Russians had the effect of changing one vote.
On the other hand the corruption of the most senior law enforcement and security officials of the US government in a clear attempt to overthrow the duly elected President is a threat to our democracy I never imagined. It is something that cannot be ignored or swept under the rug by such snide statements as “Impeach Hillary” or she didn’t win the presidency, so what?
Any person regardless of party has to agree that they don’t want FISA applications being manufactured against them for political purposes and that schemes to entrap them being legal by our topmost law officials.
A month or so ago Rep Schiff, the head of the house intelligence committee minority party was called by a Russian hacker from a Russian radio station. He was told that they had pictures of naked Donald Trump with hookers in moscow. Rep Schiff assigned his secretary to go and retrieve the pictures. He engaged with them and wanted the information.
This is exactly the charge being made by the democrats about Donald Trump. They accuse him of trying to get damaging information from Russians to use against Hillary. Rep Schiff actually did this in an attempt to get information from Russians. He proved that Democrats did this. Not only him but Hillary clearly did this seeking information from Russians to hurt Donald. She paid for the information and distributed it to news agencies. There is evidence that Clapper and COmey conspired to leak this information to a news agency and to then get the news agency to print it based on the “briefing Comey” gave to President Trump. If true it is further evidence of a conspiracy to hurt DT.
We are presented with indisputable evidence of people gone crazy or working in ways that defy any explanation believing they were right to order surveillance of a competing campaign in an election. They believed that they could work on insurance policies against the election of one candidate. They believed that they could dole out two forms of justice for one party vs another.
This cannot stand. We must clean this up and prosecute. Nobody should ever believe this is remotely acceptable to do these things.