Gee, it’s good to be back home…
It took 9 and a half hours to get back to home and office after my CLE tour in rural Pennsylvania, an adventure that also featured a malfunctioning transmission and new Garmin GPS that went rogue, took us in circles once and 20 miles in the wrong direction another time. This is why the ProEthics, aka the Marshalls, never take vacations. It’s cheaper and safer to have such disasters at home.
1. Explain to me, somebody...why Paul Manafort’s conviction on ten charges that occurred before Donald Trump ran for President and that have nothing to do with Russia or the Trump campaign somehow endangers Trump’s Presidency? Why is this significant news? Why is it on the front page? Now, I can see why his acquittal would be big news, and it would raise fascinating questions about the Mueller investigation’s focus and competence, but the convictions? Please explain. Somebody?
Right-wing blogger Liz Shield’s cynical explanation of why Manafort was involved in the investigation at all is beginning to look good to me. Shouldn’t it? She writes,
He was put on trial because he worked for Trump so that the left can interfere with Trump’s presidency by clouding everything he does with the threat of looming criminal investigations. That way the hyenas on the cable news network have something to squeak about on their nightly clown shows and most importantly, so that no one wants to work for Trump because the cost is too high.
Now, Liz unfortunately resorts to an “everybody does it” defense of Manafort himself, which undermines her credibility:
Manafort was charged with being a sleazy political consultant like many, many others who operate inside the beltway. Did I mention almost everyone in the consulting business in the D.C. area is a sleaze bucket?…Manafort is 69 years old and he faces decades of prison time. He has another trial with more charges in Washington, D.C., and that starts next month.The never-Trump maniacs danced around in glee in their sad Twitter reality, but no one, and I mean no one, could withstand the scrutiny of a federal investigation of this magnitude. I’d love to see any of these never-Trump sad sacks come out clean after a probe by a massive army of government lawyers and investigators.
There is nothing wrong with Manafort being charged, convicted and punished. If what Shield says is true, then more sleazy consultants should be investigated and face the same fate.
2. And speaking of “sleaze buckets” and “never-Trump maniacs danced around in glee”…The plea deal by ex-Trump fixer Michael Cohen is also being hyped absurdly, though it does have something to do with the President, and definitely raises all sorts of ethics issues. The funniest one is whether anything Michel Cohen says has any credibility at all. Astoundingly, Times columnist Bret Stephens wrote that Trump should resign or be impeached after Cohen guilty plea. This is an excellent example of how the resistance is so hungry for impeachment that it leaps at any theory, no matter how dubious. I seriously doubt that Jack the Ripper could be found guilty of a crime based on the testimony of Michael Cohen. Why does Stephens believe him? Because he wants to believe him, that’s all, even though there are few public figures alive with less integrity or trustworthiness. Has Stephens read the Constitution? “High crimes and misdemeanors” is usually believed to mean “while in office.” A pre-election election law violation, even a serious one, would not, or should not, qualify.
The fact that Cohen pleaded guilty to election law violations also does not mean that the government could prove election law violations, by him or the President. I always assumed that Trump paid extortion money/hush money/ non-disclosure money to various women with whom he had illicit relationships. Didn’t you? I assume that he’s done it repeatedly over his entire adult life. I do not see how doing so again in 2016 suddenly becomes an election law violation, and I (and other lawyers) am dubious that such a case can be made.
Furthermore, most federal election law violations result in civil penalties unless they are accompanied by mens rea, or intent to break the law. If Trump had been authorizing such pay-offs for years, and they were not illegal then, I don’t see why he would know they were illegal in 2016, unless it can be proved that he was so informed. I doubt that he would be so informed, because there is no case I can find where paying to keep a non-crime secret has been treated as a transaction covered by the FEC. Was the Obama administration’s cover-up, misrepresentation and spin regarding the cause of the Benghazi uprising a violation of election laws? I never heard that theory, even from Fox News.
Meanwhile, the fact that Lanny Davis is representing Cohen while he agrees to cast suspicion on the President’s conduct is officially suspicious. Who is his real client? How odd that a long-time Clinton consiglieri is helping to engineer Cohen’s attack on Donald Trump. Even if this is not what Davis is doing, his connection and loyalty to the Clintons creates, in my expert opinion, an unwaivable conflict of interest. It is unreasonable to believe that Davis could advise Cohen independently without being influenced by the impact of Cohen’s actions on the Clintons.
3. Right-wing media, left-wing media. Police in Iowa announced that the body of missing college student Mollie Tibbetts was found, and that she was killed by an illegal immigrant who had been in the US for several years. On Fox News, this story was broadcast over the Manafort and Cohen events; everywhere else, it was third, especially the illegal alien component.
On CNN’s Headline News this morning, we learned that the alleged killer was an “undocumented immigrant.” A better example of how dishonest and misleading that left-biased description is could hardly be imagined. “Undocumented” sound like the killer had lost his library card. How is the fact that he is “undocumented” relevant to the murder? “Illegal,” however makes the relevance clear. He was already a law-breaker. He should not have been here, and thus had the law been properly and correctly enforced, Mollie Tibbetts would be alive today.
Zeke Miller, the AP’s White House reporter, re-tweeted a link to the Washington Post’s article about Tibetts’ body being found, and wrote, “Likely coming to a Trump rally near you…. Investigators: Suspect in Mollie Tibbetts death is in custody, subject to immigration detainer.” Yup. And there is nothing wrong with the President calling attention to that at all. Every murder, every crime committed by an illegal immigrant is a political story, because one whole side of the political spectrum wants illegal immigration to be regarded as natural and fair.