Patterico's Pontifications

10/20/2020

What Stops a Private Citizen Trump from Being Prosecuted?

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:52 am



A simple question for a Tuesday morning. I’m not talking about theoretical crimes here, like monsters that may be lurking in the tax returns that Cyrus Vance will be getting his grubby partisan hands on. I’m talking about a crime for which someone else has already been prosecuted — for following Trump’s orders.

You might recall that Michael Cohen is serving a prison sentence — albeit at his home — for felonies which included campaign finance violations for payments made to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal.

But Trump ordered those payments. How does Cohen get prosecuted and Trump doesn’t?

A scenario where Trump gets prosecuted after a Biden inauguration seems unlikely. Prosecutors declared the case closed in July 2019, agreeing to release investigation documents that they had previously objected to disclosing. That appears to be a strong indication that they don’t plan to charge Trump. I think.

Or is it just an acknowledgment of the fact that under Department of Justice dogma, they weren’t allowed to indict a sitting president while he was president?

There are differences between Trump and Cohen; prosecutors might have deemed it more difficult to prove that a non-lawyer was aware the payments were against the law. But honestly, the main difference seems to be that Trump was president when Cohen was indicted, and Cohen was not.

In a country hellbent on “moving on,” where the unforgivable pardon of Richard Nixon has come to be seen (quite wrongly, in my view) as a courageous act in furtherance of national healing, there would probably be little appetite in a Biden administration to reopen this case.

But to me, as a fan of the rule of law, this means one thing and one thing only: Donald Trump got away with felonies simply because he was the president when the felonies were being investigated and prosecuted.

That’s just fine with his fans, who see him as the Blameless Victim in every interaction he has with law enforcement. But it doesn’t sit right with me.

193 Responses to “What Stops a Private Citizen Trump from Being Prosecuted?”

  1. I’m usually not a fan of arresting politicians. I think it has the possibility to turn our criminal system partisan.

    That said, I have no beliefs that politicians should be held to a lower standard than non-politicians. I’m especially unsympathetic to a guy who threatens to lock up his political opponents for… reasons?

    Nate (8f526f)

  2. The transcript of Michael Cohen’s opening statement in his Congressional testimony about Individual 1, Donald Trump, who Cohen described as a racist, conman and cheat.

    DRJ (aede82)

  3. Prosecuting Trump on this only works if you truly believe there weren’t any other rationale for doing so other than for political reasons. Not sure if that works as he regularly had NDA agreements for this sort of thing even before he ran for office.

    That was the “test”, if I remember correctly, why the government failed to convict Al Gore for having a donor pay his mistress.

    whembly (c30c83)

  4. Since at least Nixon, the political arrangement has been to sacrifice ordinary operation of the criminal justice system for ex-President’s on the altar of “national unity,” with the political process the only means of casting judgment on their behavior.

    Trump’s administration has been an exercise in demonstrating why the political process is inadequate to the task, and criminal justice needs to be back on the table for executive malfeasance.

    (Not That) Bill O'Reilly (6bb12a)

  5. The alleged financial frauds involving Mr. Trump occurred prior to his election and coulld be prosecuted, could they not?

    John B Boddie (d795fd)

  6. Before the presidency, I think the question had a simple answer: Cy Vance.

    After January, I expect the Dems to wimp back to a look-forward-not-&tc in hopes of getting a few quick wins, which won’t work because Lucy will steal the football and start crying about deficits and welcome to 2022.

    john (cd2753)

  7. Too malum prohibitum, not enough malum in se. It will cause disrepute to the administration of justice with the appearance of partisan vindictiveness over a hyper-technicality of the campaign finance laws in the eyes of a lot of people. Not worth it.

    nk (1d9030)

  8. Meanwhile, actual evidence of Biden’s vast corruption has emerged, but let’s just call it Russian disinformation and sweep it under the rug. It’s almost like Biden could shoot someone in the head in the middle of Times Square, and no one would care, as long as it gets Trump out of office. Hmmmm…. sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

    Edoc118 (33dc16)

  9. Since Cohen pled guilty to making the secret payments, it stands to reason that the person who directed Cohen is all the more guilty. And the Stormy Daniels scheme isn’t the only felony Trump committed. There are still ten counts of obstruction of justice from the Special Counsel investigation, all tied up by Mueller and ready to go, and there is also the FEC felony from when Trump tried to enlist Zelensky to investigate Biden.
    Part of me would love to see Trump sit in a jail cell for the felonies he committed while in office, but another side of me says that a vindictive prosecutor could go after almost any ex-president for crimes committed on the job. I hate to say it, but I think Gerald Ford set the right precedent. Once the president is done, move on, even if it involves one of the most despicable presidents in history.
    Trump is still going to get judged for his job in office, and once he’s gone, we’re going to get the full story of his malevolence, unfitness and incompetence. Historians are going to have a field day on this buffoon, and it won’t pretty for him or his loyal suck-ups, both in the White House and in Congress. Few are going to come out of this without the Trump Taint. I expect an intra-party bloodbath. There should be one.

    Paul Montagu (77c694)

  10. The two prosecutors’ sentencing memos. Any other American CEO would be prosecuted if his employee did this and implicated the CEO.

    DRJ (aede82)

  11. Or Trump could leave to avoid prosecution. Win-Win.

    DRJ (aede82)

  12. @4 yes, so long as the statute of limitation hasn’t expired.

    @Patterico and commentators: Don’t be shocked that on Jan 19th Trump pardons everyone in his administration. We’ve now have had several pundits expressed some “Truth and Reconciliation” post-Trump and the likes of jackwagon Andrew Weissmann salivating at the prospect of prosecuting Trump and his administrations.

    Even a vocal never Trumper Gabriel Malor calls this bs out:

    Gabriel Malor
    @gabrielmalor
    ·
    Oct 19
    This is the United States of America. We hold people in power accountable by replacing them in a fair election.

    That’s it. There is no room for additional show trials separate from actual trials for crimes.

    Radley Balko
    @radleybalko
    · Oct 19
    I understand the argument that it’s unhealthy for a new administration to investigate the previous administration. But it seems even less healthy to send the message that the most powerful people in the country can’t ever be held accountable for what they did in office.

    whembly (c30c83)

  13. Malor is correct on the principle of the matter, but misguided in reflexively applying it without first considering whether there have been crimes committed.

    (Not That) Bill O'Reilly (6bb12a)

  14. Calling a valid prosecution a “show trial” is designed to appeal to emotions, not reason.

    We have elections to decide who leads us. We have charges and trials to hold people accountable for criminal conduct. It is un-American to suggest that political leaders are exempt from accountability solely because they were elected to office.

    DRJ (aede82)

  15. @Patterico and commentators: Don’t be shocked that on Jan 19th Trump pardons everyone in his administration.

    I’m Joe Biden and I approve this message

    Dustin (4237e0)

  16. Patterico,

    For our society to function there needs to be confidence that the justice system is fairly administered and that the fair administration of that system results in justice. You say you’re a fan of the rule of law. You’ve made it clear for years that you want the law faithfully followed. I don’t think a fair reading of your writing leads to any other conclusion. I think you place a greater priority on the fair administration of the system than you do a just outcome, or the public’s faith in the system. To be clear, I’m not saying your don’t care about justice or that your priorities are extreme. But I think the other priorities need to be considered.

    I think a Biden administration has to consider what impact a prosecution of former president Trump would have on faith in the system. The law should apply equally to the rich and the poor and if Trump broke the law he should be held accountable. The task in front of a president Biden will be to establish a system where the general public perception of any prosecution of former president Trump is fair, and not motivated by politics or a desire for revenge. This will be all the harder given that Trump would certainly claim it was politically motivated, and Biden’s political opponents would likely use any prosecution as a way to attack his administration. Political concerns shouldn’t play into it, but we’ve already seen how ‘the deep state’ has become an article of faith in a large part of the public.

    I’m not saying this means Biden’s administration doesn’t have to do both, prosecute anyone that commits a crime and build faith in the system. It’s part of the job he’s applying for even if it’s a hard part. I do think this is something they should consider when making the decision. Is it better to prosecute and harm faith in the system, or not prosecute and create a precedent that a president is above the law? If Biden finds a way to accomplish this i think it will be a notable achievement.

    Time123 (306531)

  17. whembly, has it somehow escaped your attention that the current president of the United States, who I believe you support, openly campaigned on the promise of prosecuting and incarcerating his opponent; has publicly and repeatedly pressured his Attorneys General to harass his predecessor and political opponents with sham investigations and prosecutions of imaginary crimes for four years; was impeached for attempting to bribe another country to weaponize its legal system against his current opponent with Treasury funds; just yesterday called his opponent and a reporter criminals; and this morning demanded his Attorney General open an investigation of his opponent’s family in the two weeks remaining until Election Day?

    Dave (1bb933)

  18. Calling a valid prosecution a “show trial” is designed to appeal to emotions, not reason.

    We have elections to decide who leads us. We have charges and trials to hold people accountable for criminal conduct. It is un-American to suggest that political leaders are exempt from accountability solely because they were elected to office.

    DRJ (aede82) — 10/20/2020 @ 9:03 am

    I agree completely. But it’s also unamerican to target your political enemies for prosecution because they are your political enemies. Given we’re talking about a president I think this appearance of impropriety needs to be considered.

    Time123 (306531)

  19. We should try Trump, his Cabinet, his staff, and the Republican Congressmen and Senators for mass murder, bribery, corruption, theft and crimes against humanity.

    Maybe even for abuse of process for suing the demimonde for a refund.

    But not this piddly McCain-Feingold angels-dancing-on-the-head-of-a-pin Mickey Mouse which if it were up to me would not be law in the first place.

    nk (1d9030)

  20. Life is unfair.

    Catch him if you can.

    “You know why the Yankees always win, Frank? … ’cause the other teams can’t stop staring at those damn pinstripes.” – Frank Abagnale Sr., [Christopher Walken] ‘Catch Me If You Can’ 2002

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  21. Life is unfair.

    Catch him if you can.

    I’m Joe Biden and I approve this message

    Dustin (4237e0)

  22. DCSCA and Whemlby’s points are 100% true. Trump might just do something insane like pardon everyone. you might not be able to stop this crazed furious but powerful man, once he loses the election.

    That changes how I see Pelosi’s little 25th amendment committee. If Trump loses, he is too mentally unstable to handle being the world’s most infamous loser and he will not transition power competently or safely. It would be better, and constitutional, to install Pence, or at least to be prepared to do so. Then whembly’s fear that Trump will lawlessly pardon his whole administration is left to Pence. Maybe that’s not a perfect solution but it is a huge improvement.

    Dustin (4237e0)

  23. @20. Yo do realize the visual for that TeeVee spot would be a picture of Hunter Biden. 😉

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  24. Cohen pled guilty to one of several crimes charged in a deal. The theory of “campaign finance violation” that the prosecutor used (namely that buying off a blabbing Stormy was (or was not) a valid campaign expense) was never tested and there are obvious defenses either way.

    Trump could be prosecuted, I guess, but then so could any number of Congresspeople or Senators who tread upon those laws and merely give back money when caught. I’ve never been happy with the haphazard and political (both sides) pattern of prosecution here.

    Tax and bank fraud seem more likely to produce results, although what you tell the bank and what you tell the IRS are not the same thing in most circumstances (e.g. bank doesn’t want to hear about “basis”).

    Kevin M (ab1c11)

  25. I keep getting confused whether the violation was paying for a campaign expense with private money, or paying for a private expense with campaign money. In the Stormy case there is a lot of grey either way and the law might not even stand up if it is so grey that no defendant could know if they were committing a crime.

    Kevin M (ab1c11)

  26. But it seems even less healthy to send the message that the most powerful people in the country can’t ever be held accountable for what they did in office.

    What’s even less healthy is to see this mindset suddenly resurrected only when a Republican leaves office, to be replaced by “no serious prosecutor would bring such a case” when it’s a Dem.

    But fine, let’s prosecute Bush’s crimes first.

    beer ‘n pretzels (042d67)

  27. Tax and bank fraud seem more likely to produce results, although what you tell the bank and what you tell the IRS are not the same thing in most circumstances (e.g. bank doesn’t want to hear about “basis”).

    I think in Trump’s case it involved real estate taxes, not income tax deductions. One appraisal (high) to get a loan, another appraisal (low) to get a lower real estate tax bill.

    nk (1d9030)

  28. But it seems even less healthy to send the message that the most powerful people in the country can’t ever be held accountable for what they did in office.

    What’s even less healthy is to see this mindset suddenly resurrected only when a Republican leaves office, to be replaced by “no serious prosecutor would bring such a case” when it’s a Dem.

    But fine, let’s prosecute Bush’s crimes first.

    beer ‘n pretzels (042d67) — 10/20/2020 @ 9:41 am

    2 Nice things about Trump

    1. His ‘lock her up’ chant and public demands that his opponents be investigated make comments like this out to be empty and hypnotical.
    2. The fact that he’s been so publicly for using the law as a political weapon, and that his subordinates have investigated his accusations to no result makes it clear that the stories the right has been telling are lies to motivate their base.

    Time123 (b87ded)

  29. Maybe even for abuse of process for suing the demimonde for a refund.

    For the sake of national reconciliation, not to mention the Jeffrey Toobins of the world, I hope “David Dennison” and “Peggy Peterson” can get back together.

    With Ron Jeremy facing hard time for doing all the stuff Trump bragged about getting away with, there’s a market niche there waiting to be refilled.

    The possibilities are endless.

    Dave (1bb933)

  30. The fact that he’s been so publicly for using the law as a political weapon, and that his subordinates have investigated his accusations to no result makes it clear that the stories the right has been telling are lies to motivate their base.

    To repeat again what you like to pretend never happened…

    The fact that no Ted Stevens prosecutors were convicted of wrongdoing means that the accusations against them are total lies, amirite?

    Prosecuting a federal prosecutor is probably a bigger uphill climb than prosecuting a president, but you won’t hear complaints here about how unhealthy that is.

    beer ‘n pretzels (042d67)

  31. I keep getting confused whether the violation was paying for a campaign expense with private money, or paying for a private expense with campaign money.

    No campaign money was used.

    Cohen, at Trump’s direction, made a campaign contribution that was larger than allowed, not reported as required by law, and later illegally reimbursed by a third party, to wit the Trump Organization.

    Dave (1bb933)

  32. ….actual evidence of Biden’s vast corruption…

    Comedy Gold! It just reminds me not to vote for Hunter Biden for President.

    Rip Murdock (d2a2a8)

  33. The fact that he’s been so publicly for using the law as a political weapon, and that his subordinates have investigated his accusations to no result makes it clear that the stories the right has been telling are lies to motivate their base.

    To repeat again what you like to pretend never happened…

    The fact that no Ted Stevens prosecutors were convicted of wrongdoing means that the accusations against them are total lies, amirite?

    Prosecuting a federal prosecutor is probably a bigger uphill climb than prosecuting a president, but you won’t hear complaints here about how unhealthy that is.

    beer ‘n pretzels (042d67) — 10/20/2020 @ 9:56 am

    How’d the re-examination of the investigation of Hillarie’s emails go?
    How did the review of unmasking go?
    Durham Report isn’t coming.
    Do you remember how the IQ found that CH had a proper predicate?
    Senate report on Russia was damning for Trump.

    Maybe the evidence will be there if you just chant “lock her up” a few more times.

    Time123 (b87ded)

  34. Show the man, ill show the crime.

    Bolivar di griz (7404b5)

  35. And it all comes down to whether it was because “Melania will kill me” or whether it was because “I’ll lose the election”, and the only witness to testify to that is a disgruntled convicted and admitted perjurer and a lawyer to boot. Puh-leese! Even I would find reasonable doubt.

    nk (1d9030)

  36. Time123, as I started my comment:

    “To repeat again what you like to pretend never happened…”

    Still pretending, I see.

    beer ‘n pretzels (042d67)

  37. My 34 was to Dave’s 30.

    nk (1d9030)

  38. Trump Campaign Suggests Omarosa Manigault Newman Pay for $1 Million in Ad Spending

    The Trump campaign has suggested that Omarosa Manigault Newman, a former White House aide, pay for an ad campaign costing nearly $1 million as a “corrective” remedy for her critical comments about President Trump in her 2018 book and in subsequent interviews.
    ……
    …..[C]ampaign finance experts said that if Ms. Manigault Newman were to finance an advertising campaign, it would effectively represent a campaign contribution.

    Having her pay for an ad campaign “in my opinion would be an illegally large in-kind contribution to the Trump campaign,” said Paul S. Ryan, the vice president for policy and litigation at the good-government group Common Cause.

    Even if she were just to appear in an ad, without funding it, there would be a value to Ms. Manigault Newman’s time that would almost certainly exceed the $2,800 federal contribution limit, Mr. Ryan said.

    Brendan Fischer, of the Campaign Legal Center, said, “I can’t believe that the Trump campaign’s attorneys would have allowed something like that to have been put in writing.”
    ……
    Grifters continue to grift.

    Rip Murdock (d2a2a8)

  39. @39 No. Special counsel is a mistake.

    whembly (c30c83)

  40. @39, Trump on the other hand isn’t at all concerned with faith in the system or it’s fair application. But we knew that. It’s part of the reason he’s a terrible president that needs to go.

    Time123 (306531)

  41. Trump on the other hand isn’t at all concerned with faith in the system or it’s fair application.

    ”We’ll stop him.”

    “F* Trump”

    insurance policy

    viva le resistance

    Carter Page

    beer ‘n pretzels (042d67)

  42. @42, You should just say ‘whatabout my conspiracy theory‘ and save yourself some typing.

    Time123 (306531)

  43. 43, on the other hand, that’s a good start to a Trumpian version of of We Didnt Start The Fire

    urbanleftbehind (973b55)

  44. The China accusation from the alleged laptop is total BS, as the emails and deal (which never went forward) in question are from 2017 and 2018, when Joe Biden was a private citizen, there is nothing illegal about doing business in China, and there is no evidence that Joe Biden was involved in any case.

    Trump, his daughter and his son-in-law, on the other hand, have been balls-deep in China during his entire presidency.

    Dave (1bb933)

  45. Yo do realize the visual for that TeeVee spot would be a picture of Hunter Biden. 😉

    DCSCA (797bc0) — 10/20/2020 @ 9:33 am

    As you know, I don’t actually want to defend Joe or his son.

    I think it’s amazing Trump has made it possible that whatever hunter did is completely ignored by all reasonable people, because the way this October Surprised was handled was Rudy+Bannon to tabloid, in the context of Trump laughing he could get Exxon to give him money and his fans joking Trump should pardon everyone.

    Is Joe Biden trustworthy? Nope. did I vote for him anyway? Yep. Trump’s ‘he fights’ ideal has made it seem like a president who has an endless list of tricks to ‘win’ is why. It’s just amazing that his voters keep selling Joe Biden like that.

    The Hunter Biden scandal thing has had enough time to be vetted now. it’s at best fake but accurate, a made up russian hoax that realistically portrays behavior Hunter probably did do.

    Dustin (4237e0)

  46. I think it’s amazing Trump has made it possible that whatever hunter did is completely ignored by all reasonable people, because the way this October Surprised was handled was Rudy+Bannon to tabloid, in the context of Trump laughing he could get Exxon to give him money and his fans joking Trump should pardon everyone.

    They’re not competent. Not even for dirty trick.

    FWI, Trump was delivering a hypothetical about how he could raise a lot of money if he wanted to. It wasn’t actually a brag about shacking down the CEO of exon.

    Time123 (b87ded)

  47. the emails and deal (which never went forward) in question are from 2017 and 2018, when Joe Biden was a private citizen

    Now play back your Trump Tower deal conspiracies.

    beer ‘n pretzels (042d67)

  48. I think in Trump’s case it involved real estate taxes, not income tax deductions. One appraisal (high) to get a loan, another appraisal (low) to get a lower real estate tax bill.

    Yeah, I could see that as fraud. God only knows what the law says though.

    Kevin M (ab1c11)

  49. Now play back your Trump Tower deal conspiracies.

    Doing business with China is not illegal.

    Soliciting campaign contributions from a foreign government’s representatives is.

    Dave (1bb933)

  50. His ‘lock her up’ chant and public demands that his opponents be investigated make comments like this out to be empty and hypnotical.

    It’s “lock them all up” now. I have to agree that he’s working very hard to get that Karma wheel deeply negative.

    Kevin M (ab1c11)

  51. @50, Additionally the Russian hacking of the DNC server was a crime. The FBI was investigating that crime when Trump fired the head of the FBI and then declared he fired Comey to stop the Russia investigation.

    No one has alleged that either Hunter or Joe committed a criminal act.

    Time123 (306531)

  52. The art of the double standard.

    beer ‘n pretzels (042d67)

  53. @51, so he’s finally stopped the Hillary focus?

    Time123 (306531)

  54. The art of the double standard.

    beer ‘n pretzels (042d67) — 10/20/2020 @ 11:03 am

    I can’t tell if you’re just trolling or very confused about the details.

    Time123 (306531)

  55. FWI, Trump was delivering a hypothetical about how he could raise a lot of money if he wanted to. It wasn’t actually a brag about shacking down the CEO of exon.

    you are correct, Trump did not brag he actually did this stuff, whether he actually has or not. he was smart enough to clumsily qualify his remarks. for a guy who was impeached for promising to speed things up in exchange for favors, Trump’s remarks come across pretty clearly to me.

    Nevertheless, it is amazing he says things like that, and a gift to Joe Biden’s campaign that he does every single day.

    Dustin (4237e0)

  56. In response to Whembly’s point that we don’t do show trials, Dave responded:

    whembly, has it somehow escaped your attention that the current president of the United States, who I believe you support, openly campaigned on the promise of prosecuting and incarcerating his opponent; has publicly and repeatedly pressured his Attorneys General to harass his predecessor and political opponents with sham investigations and prosecutions of imaginary crimes for four years; was impeached for attempting to bribe another country to weaponize its legal system against his current opponent with Treasury funds; just yesterday called his opponent and a reporter criminals; and this morning demanded his Attorney General open an investigation of his opponent’s family in the two weeks remaining until Election Day?

    Dave (1bb933) — 10/20/2020 @ 9:18 am

    This is as good an example as there ever will be of how Trump benefits from a double standard.

    Dustin (4237e0)

  57. Cohen, at Trump’s direction, made a campaign contribution that was larger than allowed, not reported as required by law, and later illegally reimbursed by a third party, to wit the Trump Organization

    And the payment to Stormy was so obviously a campaign expense that no reasonable person might have thought the opposite: that using campaign money would be illegal? Would a jury agree?

    A law that is so grey that a reasonable person cannot know which of two actions is criminal (although it is clear that only one is) is unconstitutional. Others have been prosecuted for using campaign money for clothing, which is at least as arguable a campaign expense as paying hush money.

    My point is that Cohen’s plea does not establish what a jury might have decided, and that is critical in calling it a crime. He had multiple charges dropped in return for that plea, so it has no precedential value in determining, in another case, whether Cohen’s actions actually violated any statute; just that Cohen was willing to plead guilty.

    Kevin M (ab1c11)

  58. FWI, Trump was delivering a hypothetical about how he could raise a lot of money if he wanted to. It wasn’t actually a brag about shacking down the CEO of exon.

    you are correct, Trump did not brag he actually did this stuff, whether he actually has or not. he was smart enough to clumsily qualify his remarks. for a guy who was impeached for promising to speed things up in exchange for favors, Trump’s remarks come across pretty clearly to me.

    Nevertheless, it is amazing he says things like that, and a gift to Joe Biden’s campaign that he does every single day.

    Dustin (4237e0) — 10/20/2020 @ 11:05 am

    Honest question; Do you think Trump would have tried to cover it up? Or exaggerated the conversation to include an offer of fellatio by the CEO to make himself seem more powerful?

    Time123 (b87ded)

  59. More simply, Dave: Will you assert that, had Trump paid Stormy out of legally-obtained campaign cash it would have been a lawful use of campaign money?

    Kevin M (ab1c11)

  60. Soliciting campaign contributions from a foreign government’s representatives is.

    I would even say that being so “careless” that such campaign money can be donated without detection is also criminal. Yet many do just that by declining to test the source of such donations.

    But, yeah, soliciting it is really illegal. Proof requires more than hearsay and innuendo though.

    Kevin M (ab1c11)

  61. And the payment to Stormy was so obviously a campaign expense that no reasonable person might have thought the opposite: that using campaign money would be illegal? Would a jury agree?

    I don’t see a big problem if there is no legal way to buy a hooker’s silence with somebody else’s money while you’re running for office.

    Trump could have paid with his own money and reported it as a contribution to his campaign. There are no limits on what you can contribute to your own campaign, and that would have presented no other legal issues, as I understand the law (which I have read several times, but ofc I am no fancy-pants lawyer). Of course, it would have been a major *political* problem, which is why Trump and Cohen decided to violate the law via subterfuge instead.

    A law that is so grey that a reasonable person cannot know which of two actions is criminal (although it is clear that only one is) is unconstitutional. Others have been prosecuted for using campaign money for clothing, which is at least as arguable a campaign expense as paying hush money.

    The law specifically prohibits clothing and other personal items as campaign expenses.

    Dave (1bb933)

  62. Interesting question.

    I think Trump does try to cover it up, in a peculiar way, by making semi-brags that set the stage the way he wants, so he can say things were already addressed. It’s like in the movie Patriot Games, when they overstate the president’s relationship with his scandalized friend to end the conversation.

    Trump does lie and deny things he has done, but he also often makes accusations and tells stories that reference his activity.

    To answer you more directly, there’s no ‘would’. Trump did what he was talking about. Perhaps not with Exxon (though perhaps). But he’s probably doing this kind of thing every day.

    Dustin (4237e0)

  63. My 63 was a reply to 59

    Dustin (4237e0)

  64. And you ALL miss the point of many: we think all politicians are crooks. Accusing one of being a crook is like accusing New Yorkers of being rude.

    The problem with Trump — and can be seen here with Stormy et al — is that Trump and his people make the Keystone Cops look competent. What I find amazing is that those who actively support Trump’s announced policies are not completely ripsh1t about his total inability to deliver. And thank God the worst crisis we’ve had was Covid, which can at least be bumbled through without existential risk. Imagine if, say, China decided to take Quemoy and Matsu to see what we’d do about Taiwan.

    Kevin M (ab1c11)

  65. The law specifically prohibits clothing and other personal items as campaign expenses.

    OK< bad example. But the theory of the Comey case was that the silence was in furtherance of the campaign. This would seem to require that Trump would never have done this in the absence of that campaign, or at least paid less, and his history of payments and the negligible impact of them on his personal finances belies that. I'm not even sure that the circuitousness of the payments was not S.O.P.

    Kevin M (ab1c11)

  66. *Comey Cohen (brain hiccup)

    Kevin M (ab1c11)

  67. LOL true, Kevin.

    If the president is supposed to be the best, how come Kim Jong Un has that big missile and everyone’s worried about what Xi and Putin will do next? Why is the world mocking how our country handles challenges, instead of admiring it?

    Trump paid political capital for dumb remarks and trying to save the tourism industry. What if he had paid it to cut all the fat from the federal government and get a wall built? He had his chance, 2017 and 2018.

    Dustin (4237e0)

  68. 65 is really the nut of the entire thing–as the pandemic has shown, Trump is fundamentally unfit to respond to crisis and therefore disqualified from the office of the President. Everything else is just details.

    (Not That) Bill O'Reilly (6bb12a)

  69. 65 is really the nut of the entire thing–as the pandemic has shown, Trump is fundamentally unfit to respond to crisis and therefore disqualified from the office of the President. Everything else is just details.

    OK – I’m convinced!

    🙂

    Dave (1bb933)

  70. A president is expected to do a few things well. Keep America safe. Present himself well. Manage the executive branch sanely. Work with Congress on his agenda.

    Trump has done none of those, and for the life of me I cannot see why the GOP renominated him.

    Kevin M (ab1c11)

  71. Trump has done none of those, and for the life of me I cannot see why the GOP renominated him.

    Because anyone with the presence of mind to acknowledge who Trump actually is had no role in the nominating process.

    (Not That) Bill O'Reilly (6bb12a)

  72. As far as prosecuting Trump on the Stormy thing, I think there is lots of room for a good defense lawyer to get Trump acquitted. Not that Trump would get a good defense lawyer, or allow him to direct the defense.

    In any event, I expect that Biden will pardon Trump for federal crimes. And that he will get no such consideration from New York.

    Kevin M (ab1c11)

  73. Comedy Gold! It just reminds me not to vote for Hunter Biden for President.

    Billy Carter. =mike-drop=

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  74. h/t Drudge:

    Trump Fundraisers Spun Wheels, Spending 77 Cents to Bring in $1

    Yesterday I received a very alarming text message telling me I was about to be removed from the list of President Trump’s supporters if I didn’t DONATE RIGHT NOW.

    I also find the promises of “6X MATCH ACTIVE” (it was 5X in August) on every message amusing.

    Dave (1bb933)

  75. Is Joe Biden trustworthy? Nope. did I vote for him anyway? Yep.

    ROFLMAOPIP great!

    “What America needs are leaders to match the greatness of her people.” – The Big Dick, 8/8/68

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  76. @65.The problem with Trump is…

    He won. He beat out an incredibly vapid batch of weenies and a pants-suited fire plug.

    Any why? Because he wasn’t them; he’s entertaining.

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  77. Prosecuting Trump on this only works if you truly believe there weren’t any other rationale for doing so other than for political reasons.

    The thing is, that would be true for Cohen as well — yet the prosecutors evidently concluded the evidence that these were campaign contributions (which I agree with, for reasons I have stated at length previously) is sufficient to prosecute Cohen.

    I mean I guess you probably think Cohen is innocent of these charges, but the prosecutors thought he was guilty. Why would Trump be different, is my question.

    Patterico (115b1f)

  78. As I stated, the prosecutor’s argument never saw a judge or jury. He plead guilty to one of several charges and the rest were dismissed in a quid pro quo. I’m no lawyer, but as a juror I would not put a lot of weight on that plea in someone else’s case.

    Kevin M (ab1c11)

  79. Patterico (115b1f)

  80. It’s quite possible there is a body of law here that I’m unaware of, but absent that all I know is that the prosecutor thought he could charge Cohen without being laughed out of court, but that’s a low bar. Other prosecutions have gone through, even to the point of conviction, and the cases were later thrown out because the law was misapplied. Conrad Black, for example.

    Kevin M (ab1c11)

  81. FWI, Trump was delivering a hypothetical about how he could raise a lot of money if he wanted to. It wasn’t actually a brag about shacking down the CEO of exon.

    Correct. That was clear to anyone who watched the whole excerpt in context. Didn’t stop a lot of irresponsible accusations though!

    Patterico (115b1f)

  82. called his opponent and a reporter criminals;

    And what “crime” had been committed by this reporter, and the others included in Trump’s attack? Failing to report the news, or “news,” in a way that helps Trump.

    Trump’s complaint is not really about media bias against Republicans. (He attacks other Republicans at least as often as he attacks Dems.) It is another illustration of his fundamentally self-serving concept of good and evil. He evidently doesn’t even understand that there’s a higher standard

    Radegunda (20775b)

  83. Nobody is above the law.

    Many people are — and most people believe their lying eyes.

    beer ‘n pretzels (042d67)

  84. “watabout my conspiracy theory”

    Time123 (306531)

  85. “But to me, as a fan of the rule of law, this means one thing and one thing only: Donald Trump got away with felonies simply because he was the president …

    I respect that. I wish it were not so, but I suspect it is. Whatever he got away with, he “got there” because the law itself has been so tainted or tarnished. Senator Menendez who was acquitted — because there was no “pro” between the “quid” and the “quo”, or because he was a Senator? Hillary Clinton, because keeping government secrets on a PC (literally, a PERSONAL computer) in her home mixed with family photos and her daughter’s wedding plans is just how women run their lives, or because she was Secretary of State? Congressman Weiner and Wassermann-Schulz, Governor This and Mayor That and Judge “You Don’t Realize Who You’re Messing With”?

    There may even be a few ex-prosecutors in the mix who “get away” with felonious behaviors that the ordinary citizen would not? Some of whom don’t remain prosecutors, but aspire to rise to even higher levels of trust and authority. Must we allow them to do so?

    Who can meet the required purity tests and cast the first stone to drive ALL these parasites out of the swamp?

    Or are we to pretend there is no swamp?

    pouncer (b0e023)

  86. I think a Biden administration has to consider what impact a prosecution of former president Trump would have on faith in the system.

    Biden needs to stay out of it and let the career prosecutors make their decision. I just question that decision if it’s based on considerations other than those considerations which would apply to any other citizen — with one caveat that I can’t address in a phrase but need a paragraph for:

    Namely: the president’s exercise of Article II powers presents different questions than would apply to any other citizen. Firing someone he has constitutional authority to fire presents a complication to an obstruction of justice charge. But I think too much has been made of this. I mean, an Article III judge has constitutional authority to dismiss a case — but he cannot do so for patently corrupt reasons, such as because of a bribe. I think actions that fall under Article II but cannot be done for corrupt reasons include firing an FBI director to stymie an investigation into your own criminal conduct, or ordering a White House counsel to demand the firing of a Special Counsel interfering with you, or ordering that same White House counsel to prepare a false memorandum denying that you ordered the firing of the Special Counsel. But certainly the existence of nominal constitutional authority to take these actions complicates the picture.

    Patterico (115b1f)

  87. Personally, I would like Trump forever barred from running for office again. Don’t care if he goes to prison (and I’ll bet money he does not actually do so, for various reasons) and won’t be too upset if he does — so long as the charges aren’t, um, trumped up.

    If you really think he committed a serious crime, fine. Nail him. But jailing a former President on some lesser crime, or one that is a handwave, is probably not a good idea. I think that every living president has committed some felony along the way. It might not even be possible to BE an effective president and be squeaky clean (not that Trump has done either). We really don’t want Merkin Muffley as president.

    Kevin M (ab1c11)

  88. A case should be brought only if it can be proved beyond a reasonable doubt, and a jury stands as a bulwark against purely political prosecutions. But I think it’s high time we re-established the principle that a president is not above the law. The DoJ opinion preventing indictment of a president, together with the too-restrictive Special Counsel regulations, has chipped away at that principle to an unacceptable degree. We have to bring the principle back.

    Patterico (115b1f)

  89. I think a Biden administration has to consider what impact a prosecution of former president Trump would have on faith in the system.

    More to the point, Biden needs to consider how much it would suck the air out of the room. A prosecution of Trump would focus every last political person on that case — which might drag out for years — and his administration would be neglected.

    Anyone want to bet what this blog would focus on? And it would hardly be unique.

    Kevin M (ab1c11)

  90. Nobody is above the law prosecutorial discretion.

    beer ‘n pretzels (042d67)

  91. How Trump plowed through $1 billion, losing cash advantage

    President Donald Trump’s sprawling political operation has raised well over $1 billion since he took the White House in 2017 — and set a lot of it on fire.

    Trump bought a $10 million Super Bowl ad when he didn’t yet have a challenger. He tapped his political organization to cover exorbitant legal fees related to his impeachment. Aides made flashy displays of their newfound wealth — including a fleet of luxury vehicles purchased by Brad Parscale, his former campaign manager.

    Meanwhile, a web of limited liability companies hid more than $310 million in spending from disclosure, records show.

    […]

    On Monday, the firm Medium Buying reported Trump was canceling ads in Wisconsin; Minnesota, which Trump had hoped to flip; and Ohio, which went for Trump in 2016 but now appears to be a tight contest.

    It’s a reversal from May, when Biden’s campaign was strapped for cash and Parscale ominously compared the Trump campaign to a “Death Star” that was about to “start pressing FIRE for the first time.”

    The ad campaign they unrolled over the next three months cost over $176 million but did little to dent Biden’s lead in public opinion polling.

    Dave (1bb933)

  92. In a country hellbent on “moving on,” where the unforgivable pardon of Richard Nixon has come to be seen (quite wrongly, in my view) as a courageous act in furtherance of national healing, there would probably be little appetite in a Biden administration to reopen this case.

    It’s easier to express that POV in hindsight, and at the time, if you were older and aware [I was in college] there were several camps, not the least of which were ‘Woodstein’ who would have agreed [both acknowledge the famed phone call when Bernstein said of Ford, ‘The S.O.B. pardoned the S.O.B.’]

    But OTOH, Watergate was a two year hell; a wholly unexpected collapse of faith in traditional institutions. So many top officials were indicted and imprisoned. On top the Pentagon Papers, the Vietnam lies, the Mideast oil embargo and gas lines; inflation… it was simply a miserable period, day in and day out– even television sucked [NBC cancelled Laugh-In!] People use to believe their government. Not after that- it was the final straw. So Ford ‘moving on’ to deal w/more immediate issues from the legal mess that surely would have lasted two or three more years was a hard, but in his view, necessary decision. It cost Ford the ’76 election. But in retrospect allowed the country to put Watergate behind it and field more immediate problems. Besides, Nixon spent the rest of his natural life in a ‘prison’ of his own making, destroying any good elements of his legacy.

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  93. I remember back in 2000, when W was being pressed to look at the Clinton administration and such things as the Marc Rich pardon being associated with large donations to the Dems. W said that he wanted to get on with his administration rather than continue to stir up the past.

    Kevin M (ab1c11)

  94. @78

    Prosecuting Trump on this only works if you truly believe there weren’t any other rationale for doing so other than for political reasons.

    The thing is, that would be true for Cohen as well — yet the prosecutors evidently concluded the evidence that these were campaign contributions (which I agree with, for reasons I have stated at length previously) is sufficient to prosecute Cohen.

    I mean I guess you probably think Cohen is innocent of these charges, but the prosecutors thought he was guilty. Why would Trump be different, is my question.

    Patterico (115b1f) — 10/20/2020 @ 12:03 pm

    I do think Cohen is innocent of that specific charges.

    If the DOJ couldn’t get a conviction for John Edward’s (I said Al Gore in error up thread) indictment, what makes you so assured that they’d prevail against Trump? There was no doubt in anyone’s mind that Edwards had used more than $1 million in political donations, via donor cutouts, to hide his affair for political reasons. With Trump, he’s done this sort of thing even before he ran for office, so I don’t think it’s as clear cut as you seem to believe.

    The larger context I think you’re missing, is that Cohen was at the mercy of the prosecutors to mitigate his jail sentences – recall he plead guilty to:
    -one count of lying to Congress
    -five counts of tax evasion
    -one count of making false statements to a financial institution
    -one count of willfully causing an unlawful corporate contribution
    -one count of making an excessive campaign contribution at the request of a candidate (Trump) for the “principal purpose of influencing [the] election”

    The fact that prosecutors got Cohen to agree to the last two, doesn’t mean it would prevail in court or in front of a jury. Especially in light that we KNOW people who plead guilty in this manner and cooperate with the government are seeking reduced sentencing.

    whembly (c30c83)

  95. Trump knows he could be indicted, and this keeps him from immunizing the witnesses with pardons. That is a good thing as putting the underlings in jail serves a valuable purpose.

    Kevin M (ab1c11)

  96. More to the point, Biden needs to consider how much it would suck the air out of the room. A prosecution of Trump would focus every last political person on that case — which might drag out for years — and his administration would be neglected.

    Anyone want to bet what this blog would focus on? And it would hardly be unique.

    I think it would be just awful if such a prosecution distracted D.C. from passing a Biden agenda!!

    🙂

    Patterico (115b1f)

  97. More to the point, Biden needs to consider how much it would suck the air out of the room. A prosecution of Trump would focus every last political person on that case — which might drag out for years — and his administration would be neglected.

    I don’t think this is a proper consideration. To me it would be no different than choosing to prosecute for political reasons.

    Time123 (306531)

  98. Literally any time a president commits crimes in office (or beforehand and is caught while in office) all of these same rationalizations will apply. It will seem political! It will drag out for years! The country will be tired of it! The next president will want to move on and focus on his agenda!

    So: DoJ says no prosecutions while in office (which I think is wrong) which means that principle will never be tested, and then people will stand ready to rationalize any failure to prosecute after the guy is tossed out of office.

    Which means presidents are effectively immune from prosecution for their crimes, and are above the law.

    I guess I’m virtually alone (I see the few who are with me, hi!) in this opinion, but I think it’s entirely unacceptable and has to change.

    Patterico (115b1f)

  99. I think a Biden administration has to consider what impact a prosecution of former president Trump would have on faith in the system.

    Biden needs to stay out of it and let the career prosecutors make their decision.

    Absent selecting Jesus himself as AG I think this is necessary but not sufficient. There are too many people who would use any ambiguity as proof that the system has been corrupted against them and I think it will be viewed as a precedent that after you win you launch criminal investigations (carried out per policy) against your opponents.

    Time123 (b87ded)

  100. What Stops a Private Citizen Trump from Being Prosecuted?

    A predicate.

    Of course that can be supplied by people who know how to work the system.

    . How does Cohen get prosecuted and Trump doesn’t?

    Cohen did not “get prosecuted” for campaign finance law violations. He prosecuted himself. He sought that prosecution out, in order to have something to trade. Trump’s lawyers strongly disputed that Michael Cohen committed a crime.

    And they could have argued that while it was crime for Cohen, to pay off women with hisown private money, it was not a crime for Trump, because he – and the National Enquirer – had no other motive for advancing so much money on Trump’s behalf other than the election; but Trump had personal motives, and it would, in fact, have been a violation of law for Trump to use campaign money to pay Stormy Daniels or Karen McDougal.

    Sammy Finkelman (a69e24)

  101. @95:

    I have no idea if Cohen was guilty, and your reference to John Edwards points out my problem.

    Edwards was charged with using campaign funds to pay for a private problem (and secondarily obfuscating the transaction).

    Cohen was charged with using private funds to pay for a campaign problem (and secondarily obfuscating the transaction).

    Given that the reasons were similar (hiding personal and political embarrassment of something that was, in itself, not a crime) one of those two prosecutions must be wrong. The expense is either a campaign expense, or it is not. If the citizen cannot tell which of A, or Not-A is illegal, the law itself is suspect.

    Kevin M (ab1c11)

  102. Cohen did not “get prosecuted” for campaign finance law violations. He prosecuted himself.

    I think if you look up the caption of the case, Sammy, you’ll find it reads U.S. v. Michael Cohen.

    The “personal motives” thing is pretty much destroyed by the timing, but we have argued that out before and I do not care to repeat myself.

    Patterico (115b1f)

  103. @88. There’s imprisonment– and then there’s justice.

    Trump will never be frog-marched to prison; but if you believe in ‘what goes around comes around’– justice will prevail. What would hurt him most? Figure that out and you’ll find justice.

    Catch him if you can.

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  104. And they could have argued that while it was crime for Cohen, to pay off women with hisown private money, it was not a crime for Trump, because he – and the National Enquirer – had no other motive for advancing so much money on Trump’s behalf other than the election; but Trump had personal motives, and it would, in fact, have been a violation of law for Trump to use campaign money to pay Stormy Daniels or Karen McDougal.

    Point to Sammy.

    Kevin M (ab1c11)

  105. I mean, as I argued at lengtb before, the John Edwards case itself — and Trump’s citation of it — fills in several of the alleged gaps in Trump’s knowledge that doing this was illegal.

    Patterico (115b1f)

  106. What would hurt him most?

    Personal BK and living out his life on his pension.

    Kevin M (ab1c11)

  107. Let’s say Michael Cohen arranged for his own prosecution on campaign finance charges.

    Sammy Finkelman (a69e24)

  108. And they could have argued that while it was crime for Cohen, to pay off women with hisown private money, it was not a crime for Trump, because he – and the National Enquirer – had no other motive for advancing so much money on Trump’s behalf other than the election; but Trump had personal motives, and it would, in fact, have been a violation of law for Trump to use campaign money to pay Stormy Daniels or Karen McDougal.

    Point to Sammy.

    I award Sammy zero points, and may God have mercy on his soul. I will not reargue this at length, but if you care to re-educate yourself you’ll find Trump and Cohen were discussing this stuff actively years after it happened, explicitly in the context of needing to deal with it in the context of the campaign.

    If y’all are desperate to excuse Trump you can find any old flimsy argument, but these really are not even close to convincing.

    Patterico (115b1f)

  109. I guess I’m virtually alone (I see the few who are with me, hi!) in this opinion, but I think it’s entirely unacceptable and has to change.

    Patterico (115b1f) — 10/20/2020 @ 12:37 pm

    I agree with you. I just think you’re putting insufficient weight on rebuilding faith in the justice system.

    FOX think’s the DOJ is out get conservatives.
    BLM thinks the DOJ is out to get minorities.

    If the crime in question needs investigation, or is a technical violation that’s hard to understand, there’s a real problem. That problem isn’t solved by ignoring wrongdoing. But it won’t be solved by appointing Andrew Cuomo as AG and telling the public “We don’t interfere with the DOJ”. No one currently sympathetic to complaints that the DOJ has been politicized is going to accept this as a scrupulous process.

    Additionally there’s a likelihood that additional wrong doing will be found and that there’s a better then zero chance that some Dem partisans will want to use the DOJ as weapon. The solution looks complicated to me, even if I don’t see all if it.

    Time123 (306531)

  110. My position at the end of that post:

    He knew making this payment was for the benefit of his campaign, and he knew it was illegal. He directed his lawyer to make the payment, and now his lawyer is going to prison for it.

    Increasingly, it looks like Donald Trump belongs in prison as well.

    Two points to me. Game over!

    🙂

    Patterico (115b1f)

  111. Trump’s knowledge that doing this was illegal.

    To know something requires caring about it. But if this is all they’ve got, he will be pardoned for it. Treason or bribery by foreigners or stuffing his pockets with the People’s money .. those will all work. You are looking at a political problem as a purely legal one.

    Kevin M (ab1c11)

  112. I think it would be just awful if such a prosecution distracted D.C. from passing a Biden agenda!!

    Bringing the pandemic under control and getting the economy off life support should be the Biden agenda, and I for one wish for no distractions until it’s accomplished.

    If the Democrats are even a little bit smart, they’ll realize, as Trump and his suck-ups never have, that nothing else is possible before that work is done. And if they succeed where Trump and the GOP failed so completely, they stand to gain a lot of good will from anyone prepared to put country over party.

    Dave (1bb933)

  113. Two points to me. Game over!

    I’m pretty sure they don’t allow prosecutors on juries. There may be a reason for that.

    Kevin M (ab1c11)

  114. I agree with you. I just think you’re putting insufficient weight on rebuilding faith in the justice system.

    If there is a real case there, nothing undercuts faith in the justice system like failing to prosecute a person simply because he is president and therefore above the law.

    YOU are putting insufficient weight on that principle, IMO.

    A valid case should be brought without fear or favor, and the public and partisans can carp all they like, but if a jury convicts and the case is solid, that should be all you need to restore faith.

    We need to do something about pardons too, by the way. But that is another discussion for another day.

    Patterico (115b1f)

  115. @107. You may be on to something w/that– but then back in the late 80s/early 90s, when he was cratering businesses as Reaganomics collapsed, banks- you know, the idiots who then [and now] kept and keep lending to him tried to put him on an ‘allowance.’ The debt too big to fail thing. And the monster was nurtured again. Why did and do banks/financial institutions keep lending $ to him? Are they enablers– or merely transactional capitalists.

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  116. I’m pretty sure they don’t allow prosecutors on juries. There may be a reason for that.

    I am regularly called for jury duty. I should not serve on a case brought by my office but I could be on a federal criminal case, or any civil case. Whether a defense attorney in a criminal case would keep me, or whether a civil plaintiff’s lawyer would keep me (someone who has been frivolously sued multiple times and has strong views on how it is too easy to bring frivolous civil actions) is another question entirely.

    Patterico (115b1f)

  117. John Edwards was not the guy who had the money to pay the women, but Trump was. And Trump’s interest extended well beyond the 2016 election. He agreed with Cohen’s point that it was necessary to buy the rights to Karen McDougal’s story from the National Enquirer because David Pecker might get hit by a truck and the National Enquirer change its policy.

    Now when was Davod Pecker going to be, hypothetically, hit by a truck? Before the election, which was only about two weeks away, or after the election? Or was Donald Trump thinking about the 2020 election?

    Sammy Finkelman (a69e24)

  118. Bringing the pandemic under control and getting the economy off life support should be the Biden agenda, and I for one wish for no distractions until it’s accomplished.

    That sounds nice at first blush, but should all criminal prosecutions be abandoned as a distraction? No? Then only criminal prosecutions of particular special people like ex-presidents? Because we would get too “distracted” and start infecting one another?

    I often agree with you but I can’t agree here, at all.

    Patterico (115b1f)

  119. If there is a real case there, nothing undercuts faith in the justice system like failing to prosecute a person simply because he is president and therefore above the law.

    Yep.

    I guess the idea from Trump’s supporters is that he really was victimized, that collusion really was a fraud, that the investigations he screwed with really were wrong to exist in the first place.

    But no one should be above the law. That’s not the case here, and one Trump voter is saying ‘catch him if you can’ about crimes he was able to dodge accountability for. Let Trump have a fair day in court.

    Dustin (4237e0)

  120. And if they succeed where Trump and the GOP failed so completely, they stand to gain a lot of good will from anyone prepared to put country over party.

    To do that they will have to themselves put country over party. I am not yet believing in Biden to that degree. I hope he will, but his party may not let him. They have their own agenda and “Covid” is just their beard.

    I and many others are already putting country over party, and I really want that reciprocated, If not, there are the mid-terms, as Obama found out when he failed to deliver on that.

    Kevin M (ab1c11)

  121. @99

    Literally any time a president commits crimes in office (or beforehand and is caught while in office) all of these same rationalizations will apply. It will seem political! It will drag out for years! The country will be tired of it! The next president will want to move on and focus on his agenda!

    So: DoJ says no prosecutions while in office (which I think is wrong) which means that principle will never be tested, and then people will stand ready to rationalize any failure to prosecute after the guy is tossed out of office.

    Which means presidents are effectively immune from prosecution for their crimes, and are above the law.

    I guess I’m virtually alone (I see the few who are with me, hi!) in this opinion, but I think it’s entirely unacceptable and has to change.

    Patterico (115b1f) — 10/20/2020 @ 12:37 pm

    I get the sentiment… I really do!

    But, the idea that the DOJ is independent from the POTUS is ridiculous. The president is literally the boss of these prosecutors.

    The three main factors for reigning in wayward POTUS are almost exclusively political. At the polls, Congress’ oversight up to impeachment and court reviews.

    Sidebar: In California, if you believe Governor Newsom broke some laws that is in your wheelhouse…COULD you indict and prosecute the governor?

    whembly (c30c83)

  122. I might be persuaded that a Biden administration indict Trump if AG Cuomo appoints his own “Durham” to prosecute Trump and Barr, Trump for the crimes I stated above and Barr for lying to Congress.

    Paul Montagu (77c694)

  123. DCSCA (797bc0) — 10/20/2020 @ 12:51 pm

    . Why did and do banks/financial institutions keep lending $ to him? Are they enablers– or merely transactional capitalists.

    As the saying goes:

    If you owe the bank $10,000 you are in trouble. If you owe the bank $10 million the bank is in trouble. Or make that $100,000 and $100 million. Or $1 million and $1 billion.

    Sammy Finkelman (a69e24)

  124. I guess the idea from Trump’s supporters is that he really was victimized

    Well, that’s certainly not my concern. I’m coming at this as a citizen, and my concern is about laws that are so vague that you don’t really know what the outlaw.

    I also object to conflating Trump with Nixon. Nixon was a Shakespearean tragedy — a great man with a deep flaw that destroyed him. Trump is just a deeply flawed man.

    Kevin M (ab1c11)

  125. But, the idea that the DOJ is independent from the POTUS is ridiculous. The president is literally the boss of these prosecutors.

    It shouldn’t be. America can do better than that. While the president should be accountable for his branch of government, he should just appoint a good AG, good attorneys and professionals, and let them do their work unimpeded.

    It is actually pretty normal to expect professionals to do the right thing, even against their supervisor or boss. Think back to what was really disturbing about George Floyd, that the rookies were cowards when the field trainer killed a man for several minutes in front of them.

    Now Eric Holder and Bill Barr aren’t those men. There are ethical prosecutors or even judges who could do it right, though.

    Dustin (4237e0)

  126. my concern is about laws that are so vague that you don’t really know what the outlaw.

    I think this relates to nk’s point, that the campaign finance stuff is chickens— compared to what Trump really ought to be accountable for, his depraved indifference to the deaths of many, many thousands.

    But yeah, the whole encyclopedia of codes and cases make it very hard to know the law. I spent the last few months studying for the bar exam, much of it as a cop, and I still learn a little bit more about a basic offense. It is really hard to have a business or do anything complex, and know the law. Discretion is a good thing, but maybe we have a little too much discretion in prosecutions and police work. Maybe a lot of laws we ignore until we don’t want to are a sign the laws should be shorter and simpler.

    It’s hard to solve. Texas has laws on the books the Supreme Court has tossed, because no politician wants to be the guy who legalized homosexual conduct, for example.

    Dustin (4237e0)

  127. Bringing the pandemic under control and getting the economy off life support should be the Biden agenda, and I for one wish for no distractions until it’s accomplished.

    I don’t buy this argument when it’s used to blame Democrats and impeachment for the pandemic response, and it holds even less water now when Biden and Congress would have absolutely no day-to-day involvement in the investigation and prosecution of Trump.

    Just because something is sucking up all the oxygen on CNN doesn’t mean the President has to give it his undivided attention.

    (Not That) Bill O'Reilly (6bb12a)

  128. Which means presidents are effectively immune from prosecution for their crimes, and are above the law.
    I guess I’m virtually alone (I see the few who are with me, hi!) in this opinion, but I think it’s entirely unacceptable and has to change.

    What our broken political system has lacked is a prosecutor’s judgment hanging over every decision a president ponders.

    beer ‘n pretzels (042d67)

  129. But my bottom line: I put country not only before party but before satisfying the urge by prosecutors to charge the crimes they see, and before Trump-haters’ needs to see him in jail.

    This country is riven. It is Lincoln’s “House Divided” and it cannot stand if this goes on too much longer. A Biden pardon, or simple advice to his DoJ that a prosecution is not in the national interest, would avoid feeding the divisions.

    The only person who wants Trump on trial is Trump, as otherwise his name might fade from the news. And Trump would use it to drive the wedge in some more, because that is what he does (and yet another reason that I will never vote for him).

    Kevin M (ab1c11)

  130. Trump never dorected Cohen to make the payments, and he had to be argued into reimbursing him and into not just writing a check. If Trump had directed him in advance he would have supplied the money in advance.

    Michael Cohen clearly made these payments at his own initiative. He claimed he had general authority to do things like that. The National Enquirer captured and killed Karen McDougal’s story. but Michael Cohen used his own money because he couldn’t find anybody to pay Stormy Daniels.

    Why Michael Cohen was so intent on suppressing these stories is a mystery. The only thing new or different about it from what was known was that Trump’s interactions with them occurred after his marriage to Melania.

    Sammy Finkelman (a69e24)

  131. Just because something is sucking up all the oxygen on CNN doesn’t mean the President has to give it his undivided attention.

    No, but the public will, and takes sides once more, and the President and Congress will have no pulpit. Believe it or not, you cannot govern effectively without the People involved. Nor can wounds be healed while you are strewing them with more salt.

    Kevin M (ab1c11)

  132. 123. Cuomo wouldn’t do it. He’s too political, and also a believer in not enforcing all laws all the time or trying to (but he is for pretending to)

    Sammy Finkelman (a69e24)

  133. BTW, I have now voted against Donald Trump four times (out of four elections). And I am quite happy to say so.

    Kevin M (ab1c11)

  134. or lying to Congress.

    Yes. Let’s indict every official who ever lied to Congress. I don’t know if there are enough courtrooms though,

    Kevin M (ab1c11)

  135. @135 too bad we can’t indict Congressional critters for outright lying….

    whembly (c30c83)

  136. If there is a real case there, nothing undercuts faith in the justice system like failing to prosecute a person simply because he is president and therefore above the law.

    YOU are putting insufficient weight on that principle, IMO.

    Maybe I am. I agree with that principle. The context of the comments about investigations aren’t around just this case though. Have I been reading you too broadly? If so i apologize.

    If you’re talking about just this case and the work the DOJ has to do is to decide if they can win a Jury decision based on the information they already have or not, sure they should look at it and either indict or say nothing.

    But if you’re talking about other allegations of wrongdoing (and their have been many) How aggressively should the investigations be run? How broad should the inquiry be? Should they confine themselves to just this issue or look more broadly into other charges such a bribery based on usage of his properties by people seeing favor? Should extra steps be taken to prevent leaks? Should they plan to do anything differently if leaks do happen?

    Time123 (b87ded)

  137. @135 too bad we can’t indict Congressional critters for outright lying….

    whembly (c30c83) — 10/20/2020 @ 1:17 pm

    You can if they do so under oath.

    Time123 (b87ded)

  138. Cohen plead guilty over two years ago. What stopped the Democrats from using this in Trump’s impeachment?

    Mattsky (55d339)

  139. [country] before satisfying the urge by prosecutors to charge the crimes they see, and before Trump-haters’ needs to see him in jail.

    But the country needs crimes to be enforced equally. Patterico provided a good example of a crime Trump and Cohen both committed. The outcome was not equal. In a way, that does benefit the country. Smooth sailing in the short term, to avoid yet another Trump fiasco.

    Long term, the DOJ isn’t what it was 20 years ago, and Biden could do the country a huge favor by installing an AG who isn’t a Holder or Barr, but rather someone who just administers justice plain and simple.

    I also think there’s a massive national security problem with Trump we need to work out. North Korea has that missile, ISIS is surging, Turkey is chopping folks into little bits. It will happen again in 2024 if we just move on.

    Dustin (4237e0)

  140. BTW, I have now voted against Donald Trump four times (out of four elections). And I am quite happy to say so.

    Kevin M (ab1c11) — 10/20/2020 @ 1:13 pm

    Well done!

    Dustin (4237e0)

  141. What stopped the Democrats from using this in Trump’s impeachment?

    It might have been effective. They wanted drama, but they also wanted Trump running for re-election.

    Kevin M (ab1c11)

  142. Given that the reasons were similar (hiding personal and political embarrassment of something that was, in itself, not a crime) one of those two prosecutions must be wrong. The expense is either a campaign expense, or it is not. If the citizen cannot tell which of A, or Not-A is illegal, the law itself is suspect.

    You keep repeating variations on this, but it’s simply not right.

    Edwards was indicted for receiving unreported contributions in excess of the legal limit from two individuals in multiple years, for conspiracy to conceal those contributions, and for false statements to the FEC. It formed no part of Edwards’ indictment that his expenditures intended to further his political campaign were unlawful.

    Cohen used his money to make a $130,000 contribution to influence the election in Trump’s favor. The law specifically prohibits that. He and Trump conspired to conceal the contribution. The law specifically prohibits that. Then Cohen was reimbursed for his contribution by a third party. And guess what? The law specifically prohibits that too.

    Dave (1bb933)

  143. @138

    You can if they do so under oath.

    Time123 (b87ded) — 10/20/2020 @ 1:20 pm

    Not while they’re on the floor of congress… you cannot.

    whembly (c30c83)

  144. But the country needs crimes to be enforced equally.

    Well, that’s a lovely thought but it has never happened and it never will. At the time of Clinton’s perjury, there was a doctor serving time for lying about her relationship with a patient. Geithner was allowed to serve as Treasury Secretary despite tax evasion, yet one of his World Bank co-workers who did the exact same thing, and tried the exact same defense went to prison.

    We live in a more complicated world.

    Kevin M (ab1c11)

  145. For the people here who object to Trump being charged in connection with Michael Cohen’s crimes (and, yes, they are his crimes because he plead guilty):

    1. Do you also object to State prosecutors bringing charges against Trump, or do you believe Trump should be immune from all prosecutions because of politics?

    2. If so, how is this not putting Trump above the law?

    DRJ (aede82)

  146. Cohen used his money to make a $130,000 contribution to influence the election in Trump’s favor

    You keep saying this (and also impugning the same motive to Trump) and I keep disbelieving it. He was not convicted because it was proven, he was convicted because he plead guilty. If he could have got the same deal for pleading guilty to illegal immigration, he would have done that, too.

    Kevin M (ab1c11)

  147. We will end up with a lot of criminals running for office, and paying people to vote for them, with this view. Following the Rule of Law seems much easier to me than doing things that will encourage ruoe-breakers, even if following the Rule of Law isn’t always certain or successful.

    DRJ (aede82)

  148. Michael Cohen clearly made these payments at his own initiative.

    Sure, Sammy, whatever you say…

    Patterico (115b1f)

  149. There must be a basis for charges, Kevin M, as well as admission by the defendant for prosecutors to accept a plea of guilty. And then the defendant must explain how he did what he was charged with.

    DRJ (aede82)

  150. @138
    You can if they do so under oath.
    Time123 (b87ded) — 10/20/2020 @ 1:20 pm

    Not while they’re on the floor of congress… you cannot.

    whembly (c30c83) — 10/20/2020 @ 1:31 pm

    A circumstance where they aren’t under oath. Google isn’t showing me where a sitting member of congress has testified under oath before the chamber they’re a member of. Just like random people in the hall they’re free to lie.

    Time123 (b87ded)

  151. @146

    1. Do you also object to State prosecutors bringing charges against Trump, or do you believe Trump should be immune from all prosecutions because of politics?

    2. If so, how is this not putting Trump above the law?

    DRJ (aede82) — 10/20/2020 @ 1:33 pm

    No. If the state wants to indict the POTUS, have at it.

    whembly (c30c83)

  152. Is politicization of charges your main concern at the federal level, whembly?

    DRJ (aede82)

  153. There must be a basis for charges,

    Yes, obviously. Excuse the hyperbole. The point is that it is not obvious (possibly not even likely) that what Cohen did was a violation of the statute charged. He motive is asserted, and his guilty plea may establish that motive as it is required for the charge. But it does not establish anyone else’s motive, nor is it proof of anything other than he plead guilty. Any defense attorney for a co-conspirator would cast doubt on the purported motive as a matter of course.

    Kevin M (ab1c11)

  154. This is totally off-topic, so maybe it gets zapped, but I’d like to put in a pitch for Patterico to give his endorsements, if there are any, in the LA County judicial elections. He has done it before, praising some people who were qualified but not trashing their opponents. I realize it’s a fine line to walk for a working DA, but am not comfortable relying on the Times or the county bar association ratings for the candidates I don’t know.

    RL formerly in Glendale (fda61c)

  155. What stops a private citizen from feeling the need to go out and riot, loot, burn, assault etc.?
    _

    The Associated Press
    @AP
    ·
    They’ve been portrayed by the president as violent left-wing radicals and used to scare suburban voters. But an @AP review found most of those arrested in U.S. protests look like regular citizens caught up in the moment — many are young suburban adults. http://apne.ws/avYj6nu
    __ _

    The Patriarch Tree
    @PatriarchTree
    ·
    If your business got burned or looted by a violent anarchist mob,
    @AP is here to assure you it was “regular citizens caught up in the moment,” and therefore no big deal.
    __ _

    Mike LaChance
    @MikeLaChance33

    The same media currently excusing left-wing violence also called the Tea Party terrorists.
    __ _

    We sure need more of this!
    _

    harkin (7fb4c9)

  156. Let’s say that a man commits premeditated murder, and the victim is of another race. But he is able to plea bargain it down to 2nd degree murder, with a hate-crime add-on. Does this prove that he committed a hate crime? If he had a co-conspirator, would this be considered evidence of a hate crime in their case?

    Kevin M (ab1c11)

  157. Burgess Everett
    @burgessev

    Schumer: “I’ve had a long and serious talk with Sen. Feinstein. That’s all I’m going to say about it right now”
    __ _

    Noam Blum
    @neontaster

    She was polite to Lindsey Graham.
    __ _

    maybe it’s just me
    @mhickey1950
    ·
    No civility allowed, ever.
    __ _

    FutureExile
    @future_exile
    ·
    These and other crimes will be investigated by the forthcoming Truth and Reconciliation committee.
    _

    harkin (7fb4c9)

  158. We will end up with a lot of criminals running for office, and paying people to vote for them, with this view.

    Otherwise, we will end up with a lot of criminals, who are criminals only because prosecutors decided to prosecute them and not others.

    And, we will end up with people who aren’t criminals, but who are tied up in lawsuits — which is the actual goal, and desired penalty. See Raymond Donovan.

    This view rests on the idea that prosecutors are more trustworthy than voters.

    beer ‘n pretzels (042d67)

  159. This is totally off-topic, so maybe it gets zapped, but I’d like to put in a pitch for Patterico to give his endorsements

    Dunno about judges, but I think it’s critical that Jackie Lacey be re-elected ad DA. Patterico might be reluctant to take sides in that, but from all I read the other guy (whom the LAT supports) is a piece of work.

    Kevin M (ab1c11)

  160. What establishes Trump’s complicity in the scheme is Cohen testifying Trump was a conspirator, Kevin M. Some jurors would likely believe Trump’s denials. Some won’t.

    There may also be testimony from the women’s attorneys that Trump knew what was going on. And my guess is not much happened in Trump’s businesses that he didn’t know about. He is not the type to delegate as CEO, Presiddnt, or in his personal life.

    DRJ (aede82)

  161. @153

    Is politicization of charges your main concern at the federal level, whembly?

    DRJ (aede82) — 10/20/2020 @ 1:45 pm

    I think you have me mixed up with another poster.

    My point, was that its foolhardy to expect the DOJ, subservient to POTUS, to actually indict/prosecute a sitting president.

    Best to retry the old Independent Counsel laws, whereby the prosecutors isn’t solely under direct command of the president.

    whembly (c30c83)

  162. This view rests on the idea that prosecutors are more trustworthy than voters.

    beer ‘n pretzels (042d67)

    Trials mean transparency, and transparency is vital to voters making informed decisions. We need good prosecutors, defense counsel and judges. But deciding the system never works isn’t helpful.

    DRJ (aede82)

  163. The only person who wants Trump on trial is Trump, as otherwise his name might fade from the news.

    Well, he was impeached. And beat the rap.

    Catch him if you can.

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  164. I think you have me mixed up with another poster.

    I don’t have you mixed up with someone else. I asked a question, but your answer suggests that you think the DOJ is too politicized to handle cases like this.

    DRJ (aede82)

  165. But deciding the system never works isn’t helpful.

    Our Constitution is actually founded on this exact idea.

    As flawed as voter discretion is, I will always trust it more than the “system.”

    beer ‘n pretzels (042d67)

  166. #160. I wish Patterico could weigh in on the DA race, but get that that is way off limits for the blog. But agree with you about Lacey and Gascon. The right choice there is about as clear as it gets.

    RL formerly in Glendale (fda61c)

  167. That sounds nice at first blush, but should all criminal prosecutions be abandoned as a distraction? No? Then only criminal prosecutions of particular special people like ex-presidents? Because we would get too “distracted” and start infecting one another?

    I often agree with you but I can’t agree here, at all.

    Well, I wasn’t very clear.

    (And I’m unaccustomed to being accused of being too forgiving to Donald Trump – ouch!)

    Your comment (which admittedly conveyed an element of jest) suggested that preventing Biden from accomplishing anything was an unconditional good in itself. And my point was merely that I can’t agree in regard to the pandemic and the economy.

    Few things would make me happier than seeing Trump held accountable for any crimes he’s committed, but one thing that definitely would is seeing our country recover from this accursed plague.

    Now, it’s legitimate to ask whether we have to choose one desirable outcome over the other – can’t we walk and chew gum at the same time?

    Perhaps, but it’s not clear that trivial tasks like walking or chewing gum are very apt analogies for defeating the pandemic and restoring the economy, given the mess Trump has made (and will continue to exacerbate for three more months even if defeated). And by suggesting the distraction of prosecuting Trump would bring other business in Washington (“passing a Biden agenda”) to a halt, you seem to agree.

    But yes, as a matter of principle, if there is a strong case that fair-minded people will see as reasonable and proper, then it should go ahead and Biden should let the prosecutors do their jobs. At the same time, if it has implications for defeat of the virus and recovery of the economy, it must inevitably implicate political priorities and considerations as well.

    Dave (1bb933)

  168. @165

    I don’t have you mixed up with someone else. I asked a question, but your answer suggests that you think the DOJ is too politicized to handle cases like this.

    DRJ (aede82) — 10/20/2020 @ 2:05 pm

    I gotcha. Yes, I think the DOJ is inherently too politicized to handle cases like this, regardless who’s in the Whitehouse.

    whembly (c30c83)

  169. Well, that’s a lovely thought but it has never happened and it never will. At the time of Clinton’s perjury, there was a doctor serving time for lying about her relationship with a patient. Geithner was allowed to serve as Treasury Secretary despite tax evasion, yet one of his World Bank co-workers who did the exact same thing, and tried the exact same defense went to prison.

    OK good point.

    But the ideal should be pursued, perfection being impossible. We can’t get there, but we can get much closer than we are.

    Dustin (4237e0)

  170. Our Constitution is actually founded on this exact idea.

    As flawed as voter discretion is, I will always trust it more than the “system.”

    beer ‘n pretzels (042d67) — 10/20/2020 @ 2:07 pm

    I disagree that our constitution means we can’t be a nation of laws. The idea we just resort to elections would make a little more sense if the winner of most the voters gets to be the office holder.

    Dustin (4237e0)

  171. @160-
    George Gascon is a carpetbagger.

    Rip Murdock (d2a2a8)

  172. A rap sheet for a former president
    The next attorney general of the United States faces two daunting decisions: whether to investigate possible criminal conduct by a former president and members of his administration, and if so, whether to file charges.

    The Justice Manual directs federal prosecutors to bring charges if they believe that an offense has been committed, if the admissible evidence is enough “to obtain and sustain a conviction,” and if prosecution will serve a substantial federal interest.
    ……
    Here are categories of possible crimes that prosecutors could consider — what the rap sheet of an ex-president might look like.

    Obstruction of justice
    ……Special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of possible links between the Trump campaign and Russian interference in the 2016 election developed evidence of 10 instances when Trump was
    involved in obstruction. In at least four of those instances, Mueller laid out evidence sufficient to prove each element of the offense…..

    Bribery
    …….Trump also uses his properties to generate revenue from parties doing business with the government, which could justify a bribery investigation. ……

    Conspiracy to defraud the United States
    ……If members of the Trump administration sabotaged the U.S. Postal Service to influence the outcome of the 2020 election, this charge could be considered for anyone who conspired to achieve the illegal objective, even those who took no personal action. This way, the law can reach people who give illegal orders as well as those who carry them out.

    Campaign finance violations
    ……. According to the government’s sentencing memo, Cohen set up a shell corporation to make a $130,000 payment to prevent Daniels from making public statements that would harm Trump’s candidacy. As stated in court documents in Cohen’s case, the payments assisted the campaign by preventing the publication of negative stories about candidate Trump that might influence the election. His payment exceeded the legal limit of $2,700 for campaign contributions and violated the law prohibiting corporate contributions. The government stated that Cohen “acted in coordination with and at the direction of Individual-1” — identified as someone who ran “an ultimately successful campaign for President of the United States.” It appears that the Justice Department has already reached the conclusion that there is sufficient evidence to charge Trump.

    Pre-presidency crimes
    ……..

    Hatch Act violations
    …….While the president is not bound by the Hatch Act, it is a crime for him to command or coerce others to violate the law. Criminal violations of the Hatch Act are punishable by up to three years in prison.

    When Trump schedules campaign events at the White House, as he has recently, he is commanding federal employees to violate the Hatch Act by setting up the room, admitting the guests or otherwise performing tasks to support the event. ……
    ……..

    Rip Murdock (d2a2a8)

  173. Our Constitution is actually founded on this exact idea.

    It’s founded on the idea that power attracts scoundrels, as many of our foudning fathers were. They understood who seeks power and organized a system that gets bad people to do good, or at least nothing really bad. If the system required good people in charge it would have failed long ago. Even Trump could do little lasting harm.

    Kevin M (ab1c11)

  174. George Gascon is a carpetbagger.

    That would be forgivable. That he is running as the champion of black folk against a racist DA is risible.

    Kevin M (ab1c11)

  175. @172

    Yes, I knew that Dave.

    Kevin M (ab1c11)

  176. @125 Kevin, you are correct that a tragedy is not just a sad story. It is a tale told about how a man falls from high place to low, due to a character flaw. However, tragedy is not Shakespearean in origin. Tragedy descends from classical Greece, where it was the subject of many a play.

    Edward de Vere, the Earl of Oxford, studied Greek tragedy in depth. In fact, he had access to the richest library in all of England and received the best education possible. His tutor in Anglo-Saxon literature was the one who precured the only manuscript copy of Beowulf.

    That matters because Hamlet is written in two parts: the first is based on Amleth, the tale of a Scandinavian price (the de Veres were originally from Scandinavia); the second is based on Beowulf, which is a retelling of Christ’s descent into hell, his conquering of Satan, and his subsequent resurrection.

    Hamlet (the play) exists in three versions: the first quarto (printed in 1603), called the “bad quarto,” because it is obviously an immature work; the second quarto (printed in 1604), called the “good quarto,” because it is obviously a mature work; and the First Folio (printed in 1623).

    I prefer Q2. I think that is the version Shakespeare most preferred. He wrote it, he edited it, and he published it. Q2 was published with the emblem of the Blue Boar on the cover, which had been the emblem or blazon of the de Vere family for over 500 years. They had been there through it all, from the Norman Conquest through the War of the Roses.

    If you read Shakespeare properly, from the voice of Oxford, you will understand that all the poems and plays are not only historical but personal. It’s all about political corruption in the court of England.

    Gawain's Ghost (b25cd1)

  177. Patterico (115b1f) — 10/20/2020 @ 12:10 pm

    I’m pretty sure the show trials referenced in that tweet aren’t limited to Trump. There’s been talk lately of Truth and Reconcilation commissions were anyone “complicient” in the Trump years can come, confess their guilt, atone, and accept their punishment.

    frosty (f27e97)

  178. The idea we just resort to elections would make a little more sense if the winner of most the voters gets to be the office holder.

    Tell me who the national winner is when one state is profligate with ballots, and another stresses ballot integrity more. After a while, it’s a race to see who can get more ballots cast. CA will get a much higher turnout than in the past since everyone who ever voted gets a ballot mailed to them, postage paid. They can vote without ever leaving their bathtub.

    Another state, like my state (NM), might require all mail ballots to be specifically requested, which takes energy on the part of the voter.

    Yet another state might not hold with mail ballots without a good reason.

    Some might even think (horrors) that votes should only be cast on election day like way back in the 20th century.

    So, these votes you are comparing along state lines are differently weighted, and as long as the Federal Election Force isn’t counting ballots (and I can see no better way to enable tyranny), the Electoral College is the happy mediator.

    Don’t like the results some time, where one very populous state returns a lopsided result but has only limited effect on the outcome? Reform it, don’t end it. Pro-rate the EVs by statewide percentages, although it might not have the effect you want.

    Kevin M (ab1c11)

  179. However, tragedy is not Shakespearean in origin. Tragedy descends from classical Greece, where it was the subject of many a play.

    Yes, sure. But Shakespeare brought the concept to English literature with a body of work that is unsurpassed (at least since the library of Alexandria was destroyed).

    I’d love to see the Tragedy of Richard Nixon produced in iambic pentameter, if modern English.

    Kevin M (ab1c11)

  180. The point was though, that Nixon was such a tragic figure and Trump is not. Trump is solely flaws.

    Kevin M (ab1c11)

  181. I disagree that our constitution means we can’t be a nation of laws.

    You’re disagreeing with someone on this, but it’s not me.

    Don’t confuse a nation of laws with a nation of prosecutors.

    beer ‘n pretzels (042d67)

  182. This is a very good post, Patrick.

    Dana (6995e0)

  183. Kevin M (ab1c11) — 10/20/2020 @ 3:08 pm

    I’m in favor of some reforms. Instead of going all in for a popular vote we could allow, just picking at random, CA, TX, and NY to split their electors by the popular vote within the state, i.e. of 50% of CA voters chose candidate A then A gets 50% of the electors, etc.

    It would be an interesting experiment without requiring nationwide changes. It might also sidestep that whole issue of CA breaking up into multiple states.

    frosty (f27e97)

  184. Make it contingent on having a congressional delegation of > 20. That would also pull in Florida, leaving only Illinois as a D winner take all windfall. Pennsylvania, which has actually held steady population wise versus its declining neighbors of OH, WV, NY and NJ would sit just outside and be an even bigger net difference maker.

    urbanleftbehind (973b55)

  185. Yes. Let’s indict every official who ever lied to Congress.

    Yes, let’s do. Michael Cohen and Roger Stone tried it, and now they’re felons. Testifying under oath should mean something.

    Paul Montagu (77c694)

  186. 181.

    During his visit to Ukraine on December 6, 2015 – 11 months AFTER the funds were released by the UK Court, Biden demanded that Shokin to be fired, or the Poroshenko government would face the possible loss of $1 billion in US aid to Ukraine if that didn’t happen. Poroshenko obliged, and Shokin was fired.

    Biden told that story (not giving it a date, but it was first said to be March, 2016, and then, when it was realized that Biden wasn’t in Ukraine in March, 2016 the Washington Post said that the cancelled press conference happened during Biden;s trip in December, 2015), but I don’t believe that story checks out.

    Biden made it all up.

    The only source is Biden’s Q & A portio of his January 23, 2018 appearance in front of the Council on Foreign Relations.

    https://www.cfr.org/event/foreign-affairs-issue-launch-former-vice-president-joe-biden

    I was—not I, but it just happened to be that was the assignment I got. I got all the good ones. And so I got Ukraine. And I remember going over, convincing our team, our leaders to—convincing that we should be providing for loan guarantees. And I went over, I guess, the 12th, 13th time to Kiev. And I was supposed to announce that there was another billion-dollar loan guarantee. And I had gotten a commitment from Poroshenko and from Yatsenyuk that they would take action against the state prosecutor. And they didn’t.

    So they said they had—they were walking out to a press conference. I said, nah, I’m not going to—or, we’re not going to give you the billion dollars. They said, you have no authority. You’re not the president. The president said—I said, call him. (Laughter.) I said, I’m telling you, you’re not getting the billion dollars. I said, you’re not getting the billion. I’m going to be leaving here in, I think it was about six hours. I looked at them and said: I’m leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the money. Well, son of a bitch. (Laughter.) He got fired. And they put in place someone who was solid at the time.

    Putin;s agents used that on Giuliani (adding the twist that Shokin was investigating Burisma) and Trump saw at least that portion of the video probably about the spring of 2019. Gualiani assumed Biden hid the all important “fact” that Shokin was investigating Biden but Trump bought the spin that Biden had boasted of stopping an investigation, which of course he did not.

    Everybody has assumed Bdiden;s str=ory to be true, or been interested in protecting Biden, Because this lie was a whopper.

    Shokin was forced out in March.

    The loan guarantees weren’t signed until June 2016, right after the Ukrainian Rada passed a package of anti-corruption legislation the Obama administration wanted.

    Sammy Finkelman (a69e24)

  187. Michael Cohen clearly made these payments at his own initiative.

    That’s not believable, Sammy. There is literally audiotape of them discussing the matter, there is a plea agreement signed off by a federal judge, and other stuff.

    Paul Montagu (77c694)

  188. SF: Michael Cohen clearly made these payments at his own initiative.

    Paul Montagu (77c694) — 10/20/2020 @ 5:58 pm

    That’s not believable, Sammy.

    You’re going by the spin that made its way into press reports. I can’t access the Washington Post but it may have been deliberately misleading.

    There is literally audiotape of them discussing the matter,

    After the fact. The audiotape is carefully edited (by Cohen’s lawyer I think) – it abruptly cuts off for no reason.

    They are discussing reimbursing the National Enquirer for Karen McDougal (by buying its contract out) and Cohen does not discuss Stormy Daniels at all with Trump then.

    Michael Cohen arranged for the National Enquirer to pay Karen McDougal and paid the money for Stormy Daniels before bringing either case up with Trump.

    there is a plea agreement signed off by a federal judge, and other stuff.

    Cohen claimed (and pled guilty) to arranging the payments on Donald Trump’s orders, but the underlying facts he swears to do not support the claim that Trump “directed” him to do so. He says so only for legal reasons. He relies on the idea that he had general authority to pay claims.

    Michael Cohen says that Trump arranged for the National Enquirer to pay Karen McDougal without involving him. But then why does he get involved at all? We have Michael Cohen trying to convince Trump to buy out the National Enquirer. I think it was the National Enquirer’s lawyers who reviewed what happened and weren’t confident in their legal defense and went went to Cohen seeking to get bought out so that the National Enquirer could not be accused of having made an illegal corporate campaign contribution to Trump’s campaign. And I think they went to him because he’d contacted them about Stormy Daniels and they refused to do the same, or she refused to make a deal. The same lawyer, lawyer Keith Davidson was negotiating both on behalf f Karen McDougal and on behalf of Stormy Daniels with the National Enquirer, but Keith Davidson could not persuade Stormy Daniels t make a deal.

    I would suspect Michael Cohen was dealing with or hoped to gain money from whoever had set up Donald Trump with both of them in 2006. Ad that that was done because some somebody wanted a hold on Donald Trump. Both of the two relationships were unsolicited by Donald Trump. And that somebody or somebodies had Keith Davidson as a lawyer.

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/michael-cohen-says-trump-directed-me-to-become-involved-in-hush-money-payments-to-two-women-11544790717

    Mr. Cohen said Mr. Trump dealt directly with David Pecker, chief executive of publisher American Media, the parent company of the National Enquirer, to silence former Playboy centerfold Karen McDougal. Ms. McDougal says she had a nearly yearlong affair with Mr. Trump.

    “I just reviewed the documents in order to protect him,” Mr. Cohen said.

    I kind of don’t believe him.

    American Media paid Ms. McDougal $150,000 for her story. The company admitted in a nonprosecution agreement made public on Wednesday that it paid her to protect Mr. Trump’s campaign.

    I don’t believe they say that this was discussed with Donald Trump personally.

    We have denials: (of course, you can’t say what they are worth)

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/national-enquirer-shielded-donald-trump-from-playboy-models-affair-allegation-1478309380?mod=article_inline

    Hope Hicks, a Trump campaign spokeswoman, said of the agreement with Ms. McDougal: “We have no knowledge of any of this.” She said that Ms. McDougal’s claim of an affair with Mr. Trump was “totally untrue.”

    Of course, she wouldn’t know.

    Karen McDougal’s story is that she was introduced to and had sexual intercourse with Donald Trump in Nevada; that Trump wanted to pay her; that she told Trump she was not a prostitute; that Trump then wanted to continue to see her; that she saw him from time to time for the next ten months, and that she broke it off when Trump wanted to introduce her to Melania, presumably so that he could see her more freely.

    Mr. Cohen also paid $130,000 to Stephanie Clifford, the former adult-film star known professionally as Stormy Daniels, to keep quiet about her allegations of a sexual encounter with Mr. Trump.

    Mr. Cohen said Mr. Trump was concerned about Ms. Clifford’s allegations after an “Access Hollywood” video of Mr. Trump talking about groping women became public in October 2016.

    “He was very concerned about how this would affect the election,” Mr. Cohen said, adding that Mr. Trump knew the payment was wrong.

    Mr. Cohen’s comments came in response to a series of tweets from Mr. Trump on Thursday and a Fox News Interview in which the president denied directing Mr. Cohen to violate the law, minimized Mr. Cohen’s work for him, and suggested Mr. Cohen was out to “embarrass” him and protect Mr. Cohen’s family from criminal investigation.

    “It’s absolutely not true. I did not do it to embarrass the president. He knows the truth. I know the truth,” Mr. Cohen said. “I took responsibility for my actions, and instead of him taking responsibility for his actions, what does he do? He attacks my family.”

    In the audiotape, Michael Cohen asks Trump to reimbuse the National Enquirer, without a hunt that this is an appeal from a denial of request by the National Enquirer to be bought out.

    Sammy Finkelman (a69e24)

  189. This last paragraph is mine. The previous paragraphs were quoted from the Wall Street Journal.

    In the audiotape, Michael Cohen asks Trump to reimburse the National Enquirer, without a hint that this is an appeal from a denial of request by the National Enquirer to be bought out.

    Typo corrected.

    This taped conversation is the first time Trump hears about the idea of him buying out the National Enquirer. He agrees, on the grounds that the National Enquirer might actually print Karen McDougal’s story one day if David Pecker is out of the picture (something that’s not likely to happen before the 2016 election.)

    Trump then simply wants to write a check, but Michael Cohen tells him not to.

    Sammy Finkelman (a69e24)


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