Tag: michael cohen
Bill Barr's Misconduct Should No Longer Shield Trump

Bill Barr's Misconduct Should No Longer Shield Trump

In the days since Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg unveiled his office’s 34-count indictment of Donald J. Trump, arguments over about the likelihood of conviction have erupted on every cable news program, as the former president spews fusillades of lies and threats.

Most of this noise is pointless and hardly worth engaging. The only opinion that matters may someday be announced by a jury foreperson in a court of law.

Yet there is one defense of Trump, repeated even by people who aren’t his sycophants, that does demand closer examination – the claim that Bragg, a local prosecutor, shouldn’t bring charges that the Justice Department already rejected.

To establish that Trump committed felonies, they note, Bragg must prove that he not only concocted fake business records to cover up hush-money payoffs to adult film star Stormy Daniels, but that he intended to conceal violations of federal campaign or other laws. And they will say that the prosecution of presidential campaign finance crimes is usually the responsibility of federal law enforcement agencies.

That rationalization elides the central question: Why should Trump escape accountability for the same crimes that sent his former attorney and “fixer” Michael Cohen to prison? It’s a hard question to answer in a system that supposedly upholds equal justice for all.

And the canned response doesn’t hold up well under scrutiny.

It begins to fall apart when we recall that in the sentencing memorandum that urged a harsh punishment for Cohen, the Justice Department identified a co-conspirator it called “Individual-1,” a thin scrim used to disguise Trump, as the actual instigator of the payoff scheme.

It disintegrates completely when we remember who really made the decision to abandon the case against “Individual-1.”

That was William Barr, the former Attorney General who has tried to shine up the terrible reputation he earned on the job by stating the obvious fact that Trump’s claims of election fraud were “complete bullshit.” That acknowledgment of reality, no more or less than his position demanded, only serves to highlight the abject cowardice of nearly all his fellow Republicans. But it doesn’t absolve Barr of his other horrifically unethical actions in office.

According to Geoffrey Berman -- the former United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, whose office oversaw the guilty plea and sentencing of Cohen -- Barr sought to undermine any potential prosecution of Trump from his first day as attorney general in 2019. To protect Trump, he even considered overturning Cohen’s campaign-finance convictions, as the astonished Berman recounted in his memoir.

On several occasions, Barr sought to take control of the investigation. He ordered Justice Department lawyers to come up with reasons to abandon the case. He tried more than once to force Berman to drop it. When none of those tactics worked, he attempted to move the case from Berman’s office in the Southern District of New York to the Eastern District, where he evidently believed that the U.S. attorney would help him to bury it.

This kind of misconduct became a pattern for Barr when he interfered outrageously in the cases against Trump adviser and dirty trickster Roger Stone and former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. Infuriating career prosecutors, he behaved more like a mob defense counsel than the chief law enforcement officer, sworn to uphold the law and stand guard against national security threats. Among other things, he had Trump fire Berman and tried to replace him with a toady.

So what Alvin Bragg actually did by bringing the Trump indictment was to vindicate the constitutional system that Bill Barr corruptly sabotaged over and over again.

We must remind ourselves often that the former president, like any other accused suspect, is innocent until proved guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. But we should also remember what the Justice Department said about Michael Cohen in its sentencing memorandum, which insisted on a prison term despite his cooperation: “His offenses strike at several pillars of our society and system of government: the payment of taxes; transparent and fair elections; and truthfulness before government and in business.”

Those words apply with equal if not greater force to “Individual-1,” as Trump was called in that same document – and the chance to hold him accountable is at last drawing nearer.

Law Enforcement Agencies Bracing As Possible Trump Indictment Looms

Law Enforcement Agencies Bracing As Possible Trump Indictment Looms

NBC News has confirmed multiple law enforcement agencies are preparing for a possible Trump indictment in the hush money investigation of a $130,000 payment to porn actor Stormy Daniels.

Numerous agencies are reportedly involved, including the New York Police Department, the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, the Secret Service, and other court-related agencies.

Last week, former Trump attorney Michael Cohen appeared before the grand jury on two consecutive days and Stormy Daniels met with New York prosecutors, both strong indicators indictments are imminent.

Cohen appeared on Good Morning America after his grand jury testimony, telling host George Stephanopolous that prosecutors had all the information they needed: "I promise you and I promise the American people that all the information that is needed in order to create the indictment to get a prosecution and a conviction is in the hands of the district attorney."

Law enforcement are right to be concerned. After all, we have seen the lengths Donald Trump and his followers will go to trying to protect him and/or his reputation and power. He might be a con man, but he has motivated many to violence in the recent past.

In September he was asked about the classified documents case and he ominously warned, “I think if it happened, I think you’d have problems in this country the likes of which perhaps we’ve never seen before. I don’t think the people of the United States would stand for it.”

When asked what “problems” he meant, he said: “I think they’d have big problems. Big problems. I just don’t think they’d stand for it. They will not sit still and stand for this ultimate of hoaxes.”

I think we all know what he meant.

So buckle up and stay tuned.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

Michael Cohen

'Star Witness' Michael Cohen To Testify Against Trump In New York Grand Jury

He was his fixer and his attorney, and now the man who did the dirty work for Donald Trump may be the last nail in the coffin that is Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s case involving the payoff of a porn star.

The New York Times reports that Cohen is set to testify before the grand jury next week, and an indictment could come "possibly as soon as this month." The Times’ Maggie Haberman on Twitter announced Cohen will appear on Monday.

Cohen went to jail for his service to Trump, facilitating the $130,000 payoff that can be seen as a hush money deal, falsification of business records, and violation of campaign finance law.

Now, as the Times reports, Cohen’s testimony potentially makes him "the last witness."

"Once he has testified, nearly every crucial player in the hush money matter will have appeared before the grand jury — with the exception of the porn star herself, Stormy Daniels, who may not be called to testify," the Times adds. "It would be highly unusual for a prosecutor in a high-profile white-collar case to go through a weekslong presentation of evidence — and question nearly every relevant witness — without intending to seek an indictment."

Professor of law, and former U.S. Attorney and Deputy Assistant Attorney General Harry Litman observes, "The announcement that Michael Cohen will testify before the grand jury next week is another strong sign that Bragg intends to indict as soon as he’s given Trump lawyers the chance to present argument it. You want Cohen, your star witness, & one with some warts, to go in last."

Bragg reportedly invited Trump to testify before the grand jury, but Cohen predicts he won't.

MSNBC's "Deadline: White House," discussed the case about an hour before The Times reported on the Cohen testimony report.

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

michael cohen

Under Oath, Michael Cohen Blames Violent Dispersal Of Protesters On Trump

Michael Cohen, former President Trump’s ex-lawyer and fixer-turned-critic, testified for four hours on Monday that his former boss lied under oath and did, in fact, urge his security detail to assault peaceful protesters outside Trump Tower in September 2015.

Lawyers grilled Cohen during an acrimonious deposition about his assertions that Trump engineered an altercation outside his building on Fifth Avenue when he instructed his bodyguard, Keith Schiller, to “get rid” of demonstrators of Mexican descent holding “Make America Racist Again” cardboard signs.

Cohen, during his deposition, told lawyers that Trump had said, “Get rid of them!” The former fixer alleged he was in the room when then-President Trump ordered his corporate security goons to attack a group of protesters decrying the president’s derogatory remarks about Mexicans.

Security videotapes from Trump’s company building that could easily verify Cohen’s claims mysteriously disappeared, and the plaintiffs received just one surveillance tape, which showed Schiller marching down the lobby to fight the protesters, according to theDaily Beast.

Trump and his company have denied these allegations. In an October 2021 deposition, Trump testified under oath that he didn’t unleash his security on the protesters, or direct them to grab the signs.

Those protesters have sued Trump and his company for “wanton and malicious assaults and batteries” by Trump’s security team. According to the Daily Beast, the testimony of Cohen, a surprise witness in the lawsuit, could prove crucial in the legal squabble.

"Mr. Cohen is an eyewitness to events taking place in the Trump Organization offices and to Defendant Trump's directive to his private security personnel to 'get rid' of' [the protesters] on September 3, 2015," Benjamin Dictor, the protesters' lawyer, wrote in a court filing

After leaving the law offices across from Manhattan’s Grand Central Terminal, Cohen told NBC News, “They asked me questions, and I answered them honestly and truthfully, and the truth does not benefit Donald.” Cohen’s deposition was taped in the presence of attorneys for Trump and the protesters

When journalists from Insider asked Cohen if his or Trump’s testimony will prove truthful, the former lawyer replied, “Clearly, mine.”

Jurors in the case will watch videos of both Trump and Cohen’s testimony, as well as videos of the incident at issue.

“He said, ‘Get rid of them!’ Cohen told reporters outside the venue of his deposition. “I’m shocked he let this case go as far as it did.”

Trump testified that he “didn’t know about” the violent interaction between Schiller and the protesters until the day after the incident, according to a released excerpt of the former president’s deposition, reported NBC News.

In the excerpts, when Trump was asked about his 2016 comment to “knock the crap” out of hecklers, the former president went on a bizarre tangent about his fear that people would throw fruit at him.

“Oh yeah. It was very dangerous,” Trump said. “They were going to throw fruit.”

He added, “We were told. I thought Secret Service was involved in that, actually. But we were told. And you get hit with fruit, it’s – no, it’s very violent stuff. We were on alert for that.”

“I wanted to have people be ready because we were put on alert that they were going to do fruit. And some fruit is a lot worse than – tomatoes are bad, by the way. But it’s very dangerous,” Trump said, according to the released transcript.

Alina Habba, an attorney for Trump, assured reporters that “enough courts have spoken on [Trump’s] credibility.”

Habba assailed Cohen, saying “I think it’s ironic he’s come out of the woodwork a couple of weeks before trial,” she said. “And the truth will come out. I actually look forward to spending a few hours questioning Mr. Cohen.”