[Marxism] Is This the Beginning of the End for Trump?

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Fri Dec 7 20:37:17 MST 2018

NY Times Op-Ed, Dec. 7, 2018
Is This the Beginning of the End for Trump?
By Barry Berke, Noah Bookbinder and Norman Eisen

On Friday, federal prosecutors in Manhattan and the special counsel, 
Robert Mueller, delivered a potentially devastating one-two punch 
against President Trump. Coming late in the day, they made for bracing 
end-of-the-week reading.

Calling on the court to impose a sentence of substantial imprisonment 
against Michael Cohen, the president’s former personal attorney, 
prosecutors in the Southern District of New York stated that Mr. Trump, 
the Trump Organization and the campaign were all directly involved in an 
illegal scheme to silence two women who claimed they had affairs with 
Mr. Trump. Prosecutors wrote that payments made by Mr. Cohen and other 
actions were taken “with the intent to influence the 2016 presidential 
election” and pursued “in coordination with and at the direction of 
Individual 1” — that is, Mr. Trump.

The Trump Organization’s reimbursements to Mr. Cohen for payments were 
fraudulently disguised as legal fees — and, according to the memo, were 
approved by senior executives at the organization. The New York 
prosecutors also disclosed that they are investigating additional 
unspecified matters involving Mr. Cohen and, presumably, the Trump 
Organization. In light of these disclosures, the likelihood that the 
company and the Trump campaign face charges is now high.

Although President Trump may avoid a similar fate because the Justice 
Department is unlikely to indict a sitting president, he could be named 
as an unindicted co-conspirator, as was President Richard Nixon, or 
charged if he leaves office before the statute of limitations runs out 
(most likely in 2022).

In crediting Mr. Cohen with providing “substantial and significant 
efforts” to assist the investigation, Mr. Mueller’s separate sentencing 
memo details new evidence of collusion with Russia, including a 
previously unreported phone conversation in November 2015 between Mr. 
Cohen and an unnamed Russian who claimed to be a “trusted person” in 
Moscow. The Russian explained to Mr. Cohen how the Russian government 
could provide the Trump campaign with “political synergy” and “synergy 
on a government level,” and offered to set up a meeting between Mr. 
Trump, then a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, and 
President Vladimir Putin of Russia.

This newly disclosed conversation directly speaks to the question of 
collusion — the outreach was explicitly political and was focused on how 
each side would gain from a potential partnership.

Mr. Mueller also notes that Mr. Cohen provided his team with additional 
information relevant to the “core” of the special counsel investigation.

The special counsel focuses on Mr. Cohen’s contacts with people 
connected to the White House in 2017 and 2018, possibly further 
implicating the president and others in his orbit in conspiracy to 
obstruct justice or to suborn perjury. Mr. Mueller specifically mentions 
that Mr. Cohen provided invaluable insight into the “preparing and 
circulating” of his testimony to Congress — and if others, including the 
president, knew about the false testimony or encouraged it in any way, 
they would be at substantial legal risk.

Mr. Trump’s legal woes do not end there. The special counsel also 
advanced the president’s potential exposure under the Foreign Corrupt 
Practices Act for activities relating to a potential Trump Tower Moscow. 
Mr. Mueller noted that the Moscow project was a lucrative business 
opportunity that actively sought Russian government approval, and that 
the unnamed Russian told Mr. Cohen that there was “no bigger warranty in 
any project than the consent” of Mr. Putin.

If recent reports that Mr. Cohen floated the idea of giving Mr. Putin a 
$50 million luxury apartment in a future Trump Tower Moscow prove true, 
both the president and his company could face substantial jeopardy.

In a second blow to the president, on Friday prosecutors also disclosed 
a list of false statements that Paul Manafort, his former campaign 
chairman, allegedly made to federal investigators in breach of the 
cooperation agreement he entered into following his conviction for 
financial fraud and subsequent guilty plea to criminal conspiracy.

Some of the lies that the special counsel spells out in the redacted 
memorandum appear to implicate the president and those close to him in 
possible collusion and obstruction crimes. Notably, Mr. Manafort is 
accused of lying to the special counsel regarding his contacts with the 
Trump administration.

We don’t know the content of those contacts, but considering public 
statements about potential pardons, it is not hard to imagine they could 
implicate the president and others in a conspiracy to obstruct justice 
or witness tampering if, for example, they suggested a potential pardon 
if Mr. Manafort protected the president.

Contrary to the president’s claim that all of this “totally clears” him, 
the danger to Mr. Trump, his business and his campaign has compounded 
significantly. For all these reasons, the president is unlikely to have 
a restful, tweet-free weekend — or a calm 2019, for that matter.

Barry Berke is co-chairman of the litigation department at Kramer Levin 
Naftalis & Frankel, where he is a partner specializing in white-collar 
criminal defense. Noah Bookbinder is executive director of Citizens for 
Responsibility and Ethics in Washington and a former federal corruption 
prosecutor. Norman Eisen is a senior fellow at the Brookings 
Institution, chairman of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in 
Washington, and author of “The Last Palace: Europe’s Turbulent Century 
in Five Lives and One Legendary House.”

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