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Monday, December 09, 2019

Tag: 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 the Daily 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.”

Day Of Reckoning: In Pursuit Of All The Ex-President’s Crimes

As we embark on a new year, we find ourselves asking the same old question about the disgraced 45th president of the United States: When—if ever--will Donald Trump be brought to justice?

As president, Trump weathered both the Mueller investigation and two impeachment trials. And to this day, he has yet to be charged with a single criminal offense, whether for his attempts to undermine the results of the 2020 election; his role in sparking the January 6, 2021, insurrection; or his sordid history in the private sector as a marketing con man and real-estate huckster.

Understandably, many Americans have become cynical about the prospects of holding Trump to account. Many fear that Trump has forever damaged what remains of our collective commitment to the rule of law.

But all is not lost. Amid the gloom, there are encouraging signs that Trump may finally be headed for a day of reckoningRobert

The House January 6 Select Committee is diligently investigating the origins of the insurrection, including Trump’s part in inciting the riot at the Capitol that delayed the certification of Joe Biden’s victory. Both Bennie Thompson (D-SC), the committee’s chairperson, and Liz Cheney (R-WY), the ranking Republican, have disclosed that Trump is under consideration for a criminal referral to the Justice Department.

At the same time, state-level investigations against Trump appear to be heating up in New York and Georgia.

While we endure the agonizing wait, investigators have a truly staggering array of potential charges to shift through and analyze. They include:

Federal Crimes

I. Offenses Related to the Insurrection and the Attempt to Halt or Delay the Certification of the 2020 Electoral College Vote Count.

Inciting an Insurrection, 18 U.S.C. § 2383, maximum penalty: ten years in prison.

Seditious Conspiracy, 18 U.S.C. § 2384, maximum penalty: twenty years in prison.

Conspiracy to Defraud the United States, 18 U.S.C. § 371, maximum penalty: five years in prison.

Obstructing an Official Proceeding, 18 U.S.C. § 1512, maximum penalty twenty years in prison.

II. Offenses Related to the Phone Call Pressuring Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “Find” Enough Votes to Overturn the State’s Election Results.

Depriving or Defrauding the Citizens of a State of a Fair and Impartially Conducted Election, 52 U.S.C. § 20511, maximum penalty: five years.

Conspiracy to Deprive the Citizens of a State of Rights Secured by the Constitution, 18 U.S.C. § 241, maximum penalty: ten years.

III. Offenses Related to the 2016 Election, the Hush-Money Payoffs to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, and the 2017 “Reimbursements” to Michael Cohen.

Conspiracy to Defraud the United States, 18 U.S.C. § 371, maximum penalty: five years in prison.

Campaign Finance Law Violations, 52 U.S.C. § 30109, maximum penalty: five years in prison.

IV. Offenses Related to the Mueller Investigation, and the Attempts to Halt or Otherwise Derail the Investigation.

Obstruction of Justice, 18 U.S.C. §§ 1503, 1505, 1510, 1512, maximum penalty: ten years.

New York Crimes

Offenses Related to Private Business Practices.

Falsifying Business Records, New York Penal Law, § 175.10, maximum penalty: four years in prison.

Tax Fraud, New York Tax Law, § 1806, maximum penalty: twenty-five years in prison.

Insurance Fraud, New York Penal Law, § 176.30, maximum penalty: twenty-five years in prison.

Conspiracy, New York Penal Law, § 105, maximum penalty: twenty-five years in prison.

Racketeering and Organized Criminal Activity, New York Penal Law § 460, maximum penalty: twenty-five years in prison.

Georgia Crimes

Offenses Related to the Raffensperger Phone Call:

Solicitation to Commit Election Fraud, Georgia Code § 21-2-64, maximum penalty: ten years in prison.

Tampering with a Voter’s Certificate, Georgia Code § 21-2-56, maximum penalty: ten years in prison.

There is no guarantee, of course, that any of this will lead to an actual arraignment.

While in office, Trump was shielded with temporary immunity from federal prosecution as a result of the Justice Department’s longstanding policy against indicting a sitting president. Although that immunity is gone, Trump would nonetheless be protected by the presumption of innocence, just like any other private citizen, were he to be prosecuted now. And it would represent a historic first for a former U.S. president to be charged with a crime. No prosecutor, state or federal, is going to roll the dice unless they are confident that they could prove Trump’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Ultimately, the final calls will be made by three prosecutors: Attorney General Merrick Garland on the federal level; Alvin Bragg Jr., the incoming Manhattan District Attorney in January; and Fani Willis, the Fulton County, GA, District Attorney.

Thus far in his tenure as the nation’s top law-enforcement officer, Garland has proven to be upright but overly cautious. Willis is viewed by some observers as being overburdened by an enormous caseload of ordinary prosecutions. Bragg is untested.

Whether any of the three prove to be up to the challenge, one thing is certain: It isn’t sufficient to prosecute the low-level rioters who stormed the Capitol. To restore the rule of law, the leaders of the insurrection must be charged and tried. This includes the ringleader of them all—Donald Trump.

In both New York and federal courts, the basic statute of limitations specifies that charges must be brought within five years of the commission of a felony. In Georgia, the general statute is four years.

The clock is ticking. There is no more time to waste.

Article reprinted with permission from Bill Blum| Blum's Law

The Informed Critic Locked Up By Trump Files Suit Against Him

Reprinted with permission from DCReport

Remember “Lock Her Up,” the wannabe dictator Donald Trump’s rallying cry about Hillary Clinton?

Trump did lock someone up — and in clear violation of the First and Fourth Amendments: Michael Cohen, his longtime lawyer, fixer and the man who paid Stormy Daniels $130,000 to keep quiet about her barely a minute intimacy with Donald.

Now Cohen is suing Trump, then Attorney General William P. Barr and six other individuals. For all eight of them the facts and circumstances are just awful.

Cohen’s federal lawsuit asserts that Trump “issued specific directives and guidance to his co-defendants that govern the treatment” of Cohen as well as others Trump perceived as enemies.

“At his [Trump’s] direction,” the lawsuit alleges, Cohen “was remanded back to prison and subjected to great indignities when he was unlawfully incarcerated.”

Proving that Trump was personally engaged, while easy to believe, may prove difficult.

Throughout his career as a con artist Trump has avoided email, tossed out calendars at the end of each month and, as president, destroyed official documents in violation of federal law.

The National Archives created a team to recover ripped up papers from the Oval Office wastebasket to piece them back together.

Running Roughshod Over Rights

The suit is a so-called Bivens action, named for a 1971 Supreme Court decision against six unnamed federal agents who violated a suspect’s Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable search and seizure. The high court, voting 5-4, held that since every wrong must have a remedy in law, allowing Bivens and others like him to sue when their Fourth Amendment rights were violated was a remedy implied by the Framers.

Justices Hugo Black and Harry Blackmun, in separate dissents, expressed worries that Bivens actions would flood the federal courts with cases.

Of course, their fears would be realized only if federal agents were routinely running roughshod over Fourth Amendment and other Constitutional rights. Following Justices Black’s and Blackmun’s line of reasoning, had they prevailed, it would have signaled to federal agents that they could indeed run roughshod over constitutional rights.

Cohen has an ironclad First Amendment case for prior restraint of his rights of speech and press even if he can’t prove that Trump personally ordered him thrown into the modern dungeon at Otisville prison, where Jewish prisoners are concentrated.

Forbidden To Speak

Cohen lawyers Andrew Laufer and Jeff Levine describe an extraordinary addition to the boilerplate contract for home release with an ankle monitor. “The very first condition within the agreement specifically forbade Mr. Cohen from speaking to or through all media, including publishing his tell-all book about then President Trump,” Laufer and Levine wrote.

Here’s the exact wording showing irrefutable proof of First Amendment prior restraint:

No engagement of any kind with of the media, including print, tv, film, books, or any other form of media/news. Prohibition from all social media platforms. No posting on social media and a requirement that you communicate with friends and family to exercise discretion in not posting on your behalf or posting any information about you. The purpose is to avoid glamorizing or bringing publicity to your status as a sentenced inmate serving a custodial term in the community.

Lawyers Laufer and Levine call the speak-no-criticism-of Donald language “a prima facie violation of Mr. Cohen’s constitutional rights under the First Amendment as well as in retaliation for his public comments and proposed publication of his tell-all book critical of President Trump.” They are absolutely right about that.

Cohen asked the probation officers who summoned him for some explanation of this extraordinary provision and whether it could be “refined,” his complaint says. Cohen was told to wait while federal probation officer Adam Pakula left to consult with higher-ups. About 90 minutes later Cohen was taken back into custody.

Solitary Confinement

He was held in solitary for 16 days – just for asking a more than reasonable question about an obvious violation of his Constitutional rights. If this case ever gets to trial, you should expect that federal prisons officials will say that solitary confinement was used to protect Cohen from the coronavirus. How convenient for them.

Where are the howls from Fox, Wall Street Journal editorial writers, and those Republicans who rail against tyranny?

Cohen was still in solitary two weeks later when senior U.S. District Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein ordered Cohen’s immediate release from custody. Judge Hellerstein said Cohen’s return to prison was “retaliatory in response” to block Cohen’s “First Amendment rights to publish a book” criticizing Trump.

Federal prison officials and contractor GEO Group, whose top executive was a prominent Trump supporter and seeker of more taxpayer money for private prisons, slow-walked the judge’s order. Cohen spent two more days locked up in solitary the lawsuit asserts. After a Cohen victory at trial or more likely in settlement talks to avoid a trial that implicit contempt for a judicial order will likely prove costly.

But unless a judge, or a settlement agreement, requires the eight defendants to pay out of their own pockets for what they did under the guise of lawful authority we taxpayers will foot the bill for their un-American behavior.

Team Trump’s Lawlessness

Two months after being freed Cohen’s book Disloyal: A Memoir was where he laid out his solid case about Trump’s dishonesty and contempt for the rule of law.

The shut-up condition was totally lawless, but also consistent with Trump’s oft-stated view that no one should be allowed to write about him in ways he dislikes. And then there’s his campaign vow, aimed at journalists who refuse to be sycophants, “to open up libel laws, and we’re going to have people sue you like you’ve never got sued before.”

While Trump broke that promise, like almost every other one he made to con his way into office, legal attacks on honest journalism in America are growing, as are state laws designed to restrict or even shut down honest reporting, as explained well here.

Trump Fatigue

We have also seen cops, taking their cue from Donald, target reporters for police violence in New York City, Minneapolis and Portland, Ore.

To those with Trump fatigue, me included, it would be easy to just say meh and move on. Who cares that yet another lawsuit has been filed against Donald?

But Trump is still trying to find a way back into power. Worse, people as competent as they are dangerous to liberty are scheming to do what Trump tried and failed to pull off, turning America into a dictatorship.

Cohen’s lawsuit is a reminder of how this isn’t abstract, this isn’t a potential. Cohen’s lawsuit serves as a scary reminder that of a clear and present danger to all of us and to our liberties.

Trump’s FEC Appointees Let Him Escape Probe Of Porn Star Payoffs

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

The Federal Election Commission's Republican members, two Donald Trump appointees, blocked a staff-recommended examination of Trump's alleged campaign finance violations on Thursday.

An investigation was recommended after Trump's former personal attorney Michael Cohen admitted as part of a 2018 plea agreement to making the illegal contributions in the form of hush money to women, including $130,000 to Stormy Daniels, with whom Trump allegedly had extramarital affairs.

The commission voted 2-2 on whether to examine whether Trump violated campaign finance law by, as the FEC's general counsel wrote, "knowingly accepting excessive contributions from Michael D. Cohen," his former fixer.

The resulting deadlock means an investigation will not proceed, as it needed four votes out of six to move forward. One Trump-appointed Republican commissioner, Vice Chair Allen Dickerson, recused himself from the matter. Another, independent Steve Walther, missed the vote but later voted against a motion to dismiss the allegations.

By design, the Federal Election Commission can have no more than three Republican and three Democratic members at a time — meaning enforcement matters are frequently blocked by deadlocks. Former Common Cause President Scott Harshbarger observed in 2002 that the Commission is "probably the only agency in Washington that has done from the beginning exactly what it was intended to do, which was to do nothing."

For much of the Trump administration, the commission lacked a quorum to take any action at all. In his final year in office, Senate Republicans finally filled vacant seats with Trump four appointees (three Republicans and one Democrat) — three of them confirmed in the lame-duck session after Joe Biden had defeated Trump.

James Trainor, one of the two Republicans who blocked action against Trump, was not only a Trump appointee but also helped to get him elected. During the 2016 Republican National Convention, he worked to stop "Never Trump" Republicans from undermining Trump's platform and coronation. He later worked in Trump's administration, at the Department of Defense.

During his Senate confirmation hearings last year, Democrats urged Trainor to recuse himself from matters related to the Trump campaign. He explicitly refused to do so.

The other Republican commissioner who joined Trainor on Thursday is Sean Cooksey. Prior to his appointment, he worked as deputy chief counsel to Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and as the top Judiciary Committee aide to Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO).

The commission's Democrats, Ellen Weintraub and Chair Shana Broussard denounced their colleagues'

move.

"To conclude that a payment, made 13 days before Election Day to hush up a suddenly newsworthy 10-year-old story, was not campaign related, without so much as conducting an investigation, defies reality," they wrote. "But putting that aside, Cohen testified under oath that the made the payment for the principal purpose on influencing the election."

Common Cause Vice President for Policy & Litigation Paul S. Ryan suggested in a statement on Thursday that a double standard is evident in campaign finance enforcement.

"Crystal Mason, a Black woman, was sentenced to five years in prison for inadvertently violating an election law in 2016. She thought she was allowed to vote and filled out a provisional ballot that was never counted," he wrote. "

Donald Trump blatantly and intentionally violated federal campaign finance laws on his way to winning the 2016 presidential election," but the GOP Commissioners "blocked investigation and enforcement of Trump's violations," he added.

Ryan also noted that the Department of Justice has five months, under the statute of limitations, to bring its own charges against Trump over his apparent crimes — and that the agency is badly in need of restructuring.

The "For the People Act", passed by the House, would eliminate the deadlocked design of the Federal Election Commission. It is currently pending in the Senate, where Republicans have vowed to block it.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Rudy Giuliani Will Flip On Trump ‘In A Heartbeat,' Says Michael Cohen

NEW YORK — Michael Cohen on Thursday ripped Rudy Giuliani as a greedy “idiot” who deserves to get raked over the coals by federal prosecutors for doing President Donald Trump’s dirty work and trying to profit off it. The former fixer for Trump said he personally warned Giuliani that he would eventually end up on the short end of the stick because Trump “doesn’t care about anyone or anything.” “He’s been involved in some very, very shady stuff and now it’s all gonna come out,” Cohen said on CNN. Sounding like he’s regained some of his New York swagger after a humiliating stint in prison, Cohen ...

Manhattan DA Hired Top Litigator For Trump Probe, Interviewed Cohen Again

By Jason Szep and Peter Eisler (Reuters) - The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office and a newly hired high-profile litigator interviewed Donald Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, on Thursday, as part of a criminal probe of the former president’s business dealings, said two people familiar with the investigation. The interview came after Mark Pomerantz, who has extensive experience in white-collar and organized crime cases, joined District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.’s team investigating the Trump family business. Pomerantz started on Feb. 2 as special assistant district attorney, said Danny Fr...

Michael Cohen Says Trump Is Firing Up Supporters To ‘Send Him Money’

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

President Donald Trump's former personal attorney and fixer, Michael Cohen, has had a lot to say about the president's response to the 2020 election results — stressing, during an interview with New York magazine's Jeff Wise, that Trump's bogus claims of widespread voter fraud are a cynical way for him to get supporters to donate money to him. And Cohen offered more insights on Trump's post-election histrionics when he was interviewed for journalist Brian Karem's "Just Ask the Question" podcast.

According to Cohen, Trump has "done the math" and realizes that there is still a lot of money to be made by firing up his MAGA supporters.

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