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Trump Has Too Much To Fear — And Won’t Leave Quietly

This article was produced by the Independent Media Institute.

The presidency of Donald John Trump is collapsing. Unwilling or unable to confront the deadly realities of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has claimed more than 138,000 American lives, the president's job-approval ratings have plummeted. The ravages of the virus, in turn, have triggered a deep economic slump, pushing unemployment rates to levels not seen since the Great Depression of the 1930s. There is a growing perception that our 45th commander in chief, never known for his intellectual acuity or moral rectitude, is unfit to lead the nation in this moment of extreme crisis.

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House Impeachment Inquiry Issues Subpoena For Lewandowski

House Democrats targeted Corey Lewandowski with a new subpoena on Thursday, demanding that he testify publicly in their ongoing impeachment inquiry focusing on President Donald Trump’s efforts to obstruct justice.

Lewandowski played a key role in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report, which described Trump ordering his former campaign manager to push then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions to thwart the Russia investigation. Given that Lewandowski wasn’t in the administration at all, this effort makes Trump look particularly guilty because it appears he was trying to use unofficial channels to quash the investigation.

When it has come to Trump officials Democrats have sought to interview, the White House has been relatively successful thus far in constraining their testimony. The administration has concocted an absurdly broad view of “executive privilege” to block testimony pertaining to their time in the administration

This use of executive privilege is being challenged in court. But if the White House tries to use it to constrain Lewandoski’s testimony, it will almost certainly fail.

According to CNN, the White House appears to know this. Reporter Kaitlan Collins explained:

…this would be the first time Trump has tried to invoke privilege for someone who has never worked in the administration. McGahn, Hicks and Donaldson all held titles in the West Wing; Lewandowski has only informally advised Trump since his work on the 2016 campaign ended.

Trump officials and allies aren’t confident the move will work, skeptical that the President will be able to assert the same executive privilege principles over an informal adviser as he would a staff member. The White House has been in contact with members of the Office of Legal Counsel at the Justice Department about whether it would be successful, and say it remains an option. A White House official cautioned that the discussions are preliminary and no formal Office of Legal Counsel opinion has been sought or rendered by the White House counsel’s office yet.

For Lewandowski, the subpoena itself doesn’t bode well. He’s already facing early resistance to his potential Senate run in New Hampshire. While state-based Republicans are already dubious about his prospects, being dragged before Congress probably wouldn’t help his chances.

In Court Filing, Prosecutors Detail Epstein’s Efforts To Obstruct Justice

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

In a new court filing arguing that accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein should remain in police custody until his trial, New York federal prosecutors detail a range of allegations that he obstructed justice — suggesting he may try to do it again.

In particular, they indicate that Epstein recently tried to tamper with witnesses and potential co-conspirators by funneling them money:

By way of background, on or about November 28, 2018, the Miami Herald began publishing a series of articles relating to the defendant, his conduct, and the circumstances of his prior conviction and the non-prosecution agreement (“NPA”). Records obtained by the Government from Institution-1 appear to show that just two days later, on or about November 30, 2018, the defendant wired $100,000 from a trust account he controlled to an individual named as a possible co-conspirator in the NPA. The same records appear to show that just three days after that, on or about December 3, 2018, the defendant wired $250,000 from the same trust account to another individual named as a possible co-conspirator in the NPA and also identified as one of the defendant’s employees in the Indictment.

The prosecutors conclude: “This course of action, and in particular its timing, suggests the defendant was attempting to further influence co-conspirators who might provide information against him in light of the recently re-emerging allegations.”

But they also cite previous allegations that paint a deeply troubling narrative of the kind of obstruction of justice Epstein might have attempted in the past:

For example, in the incident the defendant now claims was not attributable to or authorized by him, the contemporaneous police report indicates that pressure tactics were at the very least coordinated closely with individuals in the defendant’s orbit. See Palm Beach Police Report (the “Police Report”) (Ex. B). According to the Police Report, the parent of one of the defendant’s victims was driven off the road by a private investigator. The Police Report provides further information regarding victim and witness threats and intimidation reported against an individual who was directly in contact with an assistant of the defendant, followed “immediately” by a call to that same individual from a phone number associated with the defendant’s businesses and associates.

“Well this should settle that bail request (& lead to new charges),” said former federal prosecutor Mimi Rocah.

In ABC Interview, Trump Says Article II ‘Allows Me To Do Whatever I Want’

In a combative interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, President Donald Trump brought up special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on links between his campaign and Russia in a bizarre effort to explain why he’s angered by internal polling that shows him trailing Joe Biden in 2020 battleground states.

During the interview, Trump accused former White House counsel Don McGahn of lying under oath about the president’s efforts to fire Mueller, “because he wanted to make himself look like a good lawyer.” Trump then brought up Article II of the Constitution, which he claimed gave him the authority to fire the special counsel.

“Article II allows me to do whatever I want,” Trump insisted.

Pressed on his argument that Article II of the Constitution grants him broad powers to obstruct justice, Trump told Stephanopolous to “read” Article II

“I’m just saying a president under Article II — it’s very strong,” Trump said. “Read it. Do you have Article II? Read it.” (Actually, Article II, Section 3 says that the president “shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.”)

Later in the interview, Trump accused Stephanopoulos of “being a little wise guy” for asking about the president’s refusal to sit for questioning with Mueller.

“There was no crime,” Trump said. “There was no collusion. The big thing’s collusion. Now, there’s no collusion. That means they set — it was a setup. In my opinion, and I think it’s gonna come out.”

Trump then stated, without evidence, that former President Barack Obama “must have known” about the so-called set-up.

“I’m not gonna make that statement quite yet,” Trump said. “But I would say that President Obama had to know about it.”

You can read a transcript of the interview here, and watch a portion of the interview below, via ABC News.