We have another example of a parliament facilitating another eternal presidency. Egypt’s Parliament acted this week to amend the nation’s constitution to allow its current president, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, to remain in power to 2034. Much of the pretext lies in the familiar call of a need for greater control and monopolization of the presidency to secure promised “reforms” and “progress”.
Below is my column in The Hill newspaper on the known basis for an obstruction case against President Donald Trump. While much more has been learned since the appointment of the Special Counsel, there remains considerable doubt about a prosecutable case for obstruction.
I have been a long critic of Trump former counsel Michael Cohen whose lack of legal skills is only surpassed by his lack of legal ethics (here and here and here and here and here and here). Cohen is a serial liar and legal thug who committed various tax and fraud crimes worth millions. Cohen was given an absurdly low sentence by U.S. District Judge William H. Pauley III who fell for the latest dubious pitch of Cohen. While a teenager will get twice as much time for robbing a store for $1000, Cohen got just three years for stealing millions and lying under oath. He then was called to appear before Congress and worked a new sham as the redemptive sinner. Yet, there is always a warning of Caveat Emptor that comes with dealing with Cohen: buyer beware. Cohen has now postponed testimony repeatedly in Congress. The latest excuse was his health — a claim that was refuted by a videotape showing him enjoying a night out on the town at an expensive restaurant the night before.
We have previously discussed the soaring debt in the country as both Democrats and Republicans plunge this nation into shocking debt levels. This week we passed another milestone in our debt surpassing $22 trillion for the first time in history. That is a jump of $30 million in just the last month alone. In the meantime, members of Congress and the White House continue to demand more massive levels of spending.
We have been following the seedy legacy of American Media CEO David Pecker and his National Enquirer tabloid. Pecker is a cooperating witness with Special Counsel Robert Mueller after using his publication to pay off a former Playmate model who reportedly had an affair with President Donald Trump. Pecker and the newspaper previously denied the arrangement to help Trump by buying and killing the story of Karen McDougal. AMI was also recently implicated in an effort to effectively blackmail Washington Post owner and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos with the threat to release embarrassing photos. Bezos suggested that AMI was acting at the behest of Saudi figures upset with the Washington Post investigation of Saudi influence. Now, the Wall Street Journal has disclosed a letter confirming that AMI considered filing papers as a Saudi agent. The letter would seem to reinforce the AMI-Saudi connection referenced by Bezos.
Democrats have (for good reason) criticized President Donald Trump for his signature campaign rally chant of “Lock her up” in referring to his then opponent Hillary Clinton.. Many of us objected to the display as obnoxious and demeaning to our political system. That objection apparently does not hold when a Democratic candidate, in this case Elizabeth Warren, is referencing Donald Trump as being locked up. Warren received the predictably wild applause to her suggestion in a campaign rally that Trump will be in prison by 2020.
It is with the greatest sadness that I have to post the death of Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C., died Sunday in Greenville, N.C., Jones was one of my former clients when I represented Democratic and Republican members challenging the Libyan war. I spent many lunches and conversations with Walter through the years. I have never met a member of Congress who was more honest and earnest in trying to serve the public. He was an incredibly self-effacing man who felt guilt for not being able to stop the many foreign wars. As a representative with a large military district, Jones was crushed by the deaths or wounding of young men and women in the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and other hot spots. He was 76.
We have previously discussed the tell-all book written by James Comey. Now Andrew McCabe has cashed in on his own tell all — and not surprisingly it is scathing. The most notable allegation however concerns the memorandum written by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein on why Comey should be fired. McCabe insists that he and others witnessed a visibly upset Rosenstein complain that Trump and aides pressured him to write the justification for firing Comey. The book is The Threat: How the FBI Protects America in the Age of Terror and Trump.
The New York Times has reported that Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said in 2017 that he would use “a bullet” on Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi. That was well before his murder and contradicts the Crown Prince’s later statement that they were friends. It is one of a long line of lies made by the Crown Prince and the Saudi government to try to cover up the role of the Crown Prince. The evidence is overwhelming that the Crown Prince ordered the murder but the Trump Administration has refused to acknowledge the evidence of its own intelligence services and now has missed a deadline set by Congress. Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, has a close relationship with the Crown Prince and the Administration is clearly unwilling to allow his murdering of a Washington Post journalist interfere with the U.S.-Saudi relationship.
I have previously written about the disgraceful sweetheart deal given to accused serial pedophile Jeffrey Epstein. The deal was struck by Secretary of Labor Alex Acosta and not only succeeded in protecting Epstein from serous jail time but protecting a host of high-profile friends including Bill Clinton who were regulars at his infamous island resort. The problem is that the investigation is not being handled by the Inspector General but the oft-criticized DOJ Office of Professional Responsibility. OPR is routinely criticized for its defense of accused officials, even in some indefensible circumstances. For critics, it often seems more like OPR offers more cover than scrutiny in controversies over prosecutorial abuse. Moreover, the Epstein scandal involves serious questions of corrupt influence by powerful friends of Epstein. Such questions require serious investigative measures. OPR is more likely to find that the deal was within the scope of permissible decisions by a prosecutor like Acosta despite being widely ridiculed as an utter disgrace.
The controversy over the past claims of Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren being a native American continued this week with a report in the Washington Post. The Post reported that Warren claimed to be an “American Indian” on her Texas bar registration. Warren has denied claiming the status in her legal career despite being listed or referenced as a minority at a couple of law schools. This is a notable incident because it is a claim written in her own handwriting and was entirely unnecessary for registration in Texas.
One of the aspects of the new federal tax plan that made sense to me was the elimination of much of the deduction for state and local taxes. While the move cost those of us in higher tax states, it finally forced states to stop using the federal tax laws to effectively subsidize its high tax policies. Now that bill has come due in New York where taxpayers will no longer be able to write off their high state taxes. The result is not only a shortfall of $2.8 billion but droves of wealthy taxpayers leaving the state.
Below is my column in The Hill Newspaper exploring the current evidence supporting a criminal collusion case against President Donald Trump or his campaign. While clearly not popular to raise, the evidence released to date is rather underwhelming. Indeed, the basis for a criminal collusion prosecution is weaker today than it was a year ago. That does not mean that new evidence cannot be released but this is an attempt at an objective review of past filings and disclosures from the Special Counsel, Congress, and witnesses. That evidence strengthens the case against collusion and certainly supplies ample foundation for a defense against the charge of a criminal conspiracy with the Russians in hacking computer systems. Once again, the column only addresses the basis for a criminal charge based on collusion by Trump or his campaign. The prosecution of Russians for hacking is strong and the fact that Russians wanted to help Trump seems unassailable. The narrative supporting a criminal conspiracy however seems increasing incomplete and incoherent.
For over a year, many of the theories of Russian collusion have highlighted a mysterious call to an unpublished number by Donald Trump Jr. in the critical period of the infamous meeting with Russians in Trump Tower. Democratic members apparently received the disappointing news this week that the number has been tracked down and did not belong to President Donald Trump but business associates of his son.
The exploration of former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz of a possible third party candidacy has been welcomed by many who have long seen our dysfunctional politics as a result of the duopoly of power in the country in the hands to just two parties. People want change and that is highly unlikely to occur in our current system. That is precisely why Schultz has been met with a torrent of criticism by the media and Democrats for even suggesting a third party run. The spin is that he is handing the election to Donald Trump by splitting the anti-Trump ticket. However, this has been the same mantra for every third party candidate in my lifetime. The problem is that he could win and there is no danger that more threatens the establishment in Washington. So we are back to the same refrain — eagerly repeated by the media — that the country simply cannot handle more choice than the two offered by the party elites.