Mr. President, Beware Of The Wolf Trap

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Below is my column in The Hill newspaper on the greatest danger for President Donald Trump in the raids on his personal attorney’s office, home, and hotel room.  Michael Cohen’s real threat may be as bait — either by design or default.  It is the perfect Wolf Pit and Trump could prove the ultimate prize if he is not restrained in his reaction to the raid.  The most significant blows for his Administration has been the result of Trump’s responses to events.  The most obvious was his disastrous decision to fire Comey in the middle of the Russian investigation.  Already, the Cohen raid has reportedly pushed Trump away from speaking with Mueller.  Cohen has already maximized the damage to himself and his client. He may now have derailed the effort of Trump’s D.C. legal team to prepare him for a sitdown with Mueller on four categories.  At the same time, Trump is reportedly back to threatening that he might fire Mueller or Rosenstein or Sessions.  Despite the overwhelming view of experts and Republican leaders that such a move would highly damaging to his Administration and could trigger impeachment proceedings, there is still a palpable fear that that Trump could take such a self-defeated course.

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Study: Top 20 Percent of Income Households Pay 87 Percent Of Taxes

160px-IRS.svgThe Joint Committee on Taxation in Congress has issued a new report on tax burdens across the United States.  The Committee used data from the Tax Policy Center and divided the public into five income groups.  What they found was that the top 20 percent of earners paid 87 percent of the taxes in the country.  The remaining 80 percent covered 13 percent of the burden.  The data could challenge the common mantra of politicians that the top earners do not pay their fair share.  Though the concentration of wealth should be considered (and a recent study found that one percent of the world’s wealthiest individuals control two-thirds of the world’s wealth), the figures in the United States shows an increasing tax burden in the top 20 percent range.  We have previously discussed such studies and the disconnect between the rhetorical and the statistical in tax debates.

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The Proposed Mueller Protections Would Achieve Little While Risking Much For Congress

800px-Capitol_Building_Full_ViewBelow is my column in the Hill newspaper on the push for new legislation to Robert Mueller.  I supported the appointment of a Special Counsel and still believe that Mueller must be allowed to complete his work. However, this legislation would do little in terms of real protection while putting at risk a major piece of precedent from the Supreme Court.

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Sessions Moves To End The Spin Cycle: The Independent Investigation of FBI Allegations Is Long Overdue

jeff_sessions_official_portraitBelow is my column in The Hill newspaper on why a separate and independent investigation of the FBI’s conduct is warranted.  My support for the investigation is not because I believe that criminal charges will likely be brought. Rather, I have never seen our country more divided and I cannot imagine any way for us to get beyond this poisonous political environment without full and complete investigations with public disclosure of the findings.  As I have stated in interviews, I comment Attorney General Jeff Sessions in not only giving this matter to the Inspector General but ordered U.S. Attorney John Huber to assist in the investigation.  The combination of the U.S. Attorney and the Inspector General is likely to expedite the investigation and maximize the options for the Justice Department — including the option reserved by Sessions to eventually order the appointment of a Special Counsel.  Critics of Sessions are missing the import of the joint investigation.  He has selected a line prosecutor from outside of the Beltway to review the conduct of FBI officials, including James Comey and Andrew McCabe. Huber adds prosecutorial experience and powers to the ongoing IG investigation.

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Democratic Attorneys General To Challenge Addition of Citizenship Question On U.S. Census

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Mr. President, Take The Mueller Deal

Below is my column in The Hill newspaper on the reported proposal that President Donald Trump sit down with Special Counsel Robert Mueller to address four specific areas of inquiry.  Those areas just happen to be the ones where Trump has the strongest and most obvious defenses.  If the deal is that this would be a one-time sit down (and any later issues would be addressed in written interrogatories), it is a deal that would be hard to pass up. It is not without considerable risks of course, particularly for any false statement allegations. However, if the President were ready to be properly prepped and listens to counsel, he could thread this needle.  It would also avoid a fight over a subpoena.  While the law on the question is hardly settled, Mueller could win such a court fight and force Trump into an interview.  Both the political and constitutional costs of such a fight should be avoided.

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THE EXQUISITE CORPSE: HOW ANDREW MCCABE IS NOW PART OF THE BODY POLITIC

McCabeAt the turn of the last century, surrealists had a parlor game in Paris called “The Exquisite Corpse” where writers would create collective stories by writing lines without knowing what preceded them. The lines were often nonsensical like the line that gave the game its name: “Le cadavre exquis boira le vin nouveau. ” (“The exquisite corpse shall drink the new wine.”) With minutes of his firing, former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe became such an exquisite corpse with various politicians adding lines to his story that seemed entirely disconnected to his story. Former FBI Director James Comey used McCabe to pitch his upcoming book while former Attorney General Eric Holder used him to effectively attack career staff at his former agency. The point of the game in both politics and literature is not to advance a coherent narrative but insert your own lines into a collective story.

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