Another day, another leak. The Wall Street Journal is reporting that it has seen a memo written by Rick Ledgett, the former deputy director of the NSA, detailing a phone call in which U.S. President Donald Trump NSA Director Admiral Mike Rogers to state publicly that there is no evidence of collusion between his campaign and Russia. It is the latest high-level official reporting a concerted effort by Trump to dispel allegations of collusion. While the Special Counsel is reportedly seeking to interview Ledgett, I still remain skeptical of the current facts being used as the basis for an obstruction case. As I previously discussed, Robert Mueller has hired at least one senior lawyer known for his unsuccessful effort to expand the scope of obstruction. However, this memo does not necessarily change the narrative on both sides of the controversy. There remains an obvious defense to a conventional obstruction claim – assuming the definition of the crime is not stretched beyond recognition to change the meaning of “corruptly influence.”
We have often discussed the uncertain art of taking a mugshot and whether it is better to smile or leave an expressionless face. Merrick David Isaacks, 19, went with the happy image approach which seems wildly out of place with his alleged crime: shooting cyclists for fun with a shotgun
Laura Loomer from the conservative website The Rebel ran on to the stage on Friday of the controversial production of Julius Caesar in Central Park. The show has been criticized for its characters modeled on President Donald Trump and others. Trump, as Caesar, is killed in the show to the delight of the crowd. Many find the show to be distasteful and hateful. However, for those of us who have actively criticized liberals who shutdown conservative speakers on campuses and other public events, this is an equally objectionable effort to stop free speech. Indeed, it seeks to prevent both artistic and political expression.
It is the presidential version of death by cop. Recently, I wrote a column on how Trump had become a witness against himself by, again, tweeting highly damaging observations about pending litigation and even contradicting the statements of his own legal team in the immigration order litigation. As predicted, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit not only ruled against his Administration but relied on his damaging recent tweet to seal the deal. The lack of message discipline extended to Trump friends this week after his friend, Newsmax CEO Chris Ruddy, said Trump was considering firing Mueller: “I think he’s considering perhaps terminating the special counsel. I think he’s weighing that option. I think it’s pretty clear by what one of his lawyers said on television recently.” The statement sent a chill throughout Congress. Such a move would not only push Congress to pass a renewal of the Independent Counsel Act but magnify allegations of obstruction.
FBI director James Comey is the ice man cometh. Comey’s testimony is the most anticipated in this city since the Anita Hill testimony against Associate Justice Clarence Thomas. In a city where politics is our professional sport of choice, this is the Superbowl and World Series rolled into one. Bars are opening early to allow people to watch in the right atmosphere. The only thing missing is a Vegas betting line and bunting. No doubt children got up this morning screaming “it’s Comey day, it’s Comey day!”
The day however is not necessarily purely festive for Comey who is likely to face some tough questions on his own conduct. He is a seasoned operator in Washington so I expect him to do well, but the stakes are high.
This weekend I discussed how President Donald Trump’s own words had been the primary problem for lawyers seeking to advance his agenda. Trump’s comment and tweets have routinely undermined defenses and alienated allies. The column was prompted by Trump’s London tweets. While discussed for their triggering outrage across the political spectrum in Great Britain, one of the most controversial tweets also contained references to the immigration order as a “travel ban.” It was a remarkably ill-considered tweet. However, on Monday morning, President Trump doubled down and actually attacked his own lawyers at the Justice Department and directly contradicted their position in court. As I mentioned earlier, government counsel must feel like they have a daily Perry Mason moment with their client jumping up in court screaming incriminating things. The only logical conclusion that can be reached is that Trump really does not care if he wins the case. The problem is that there is a large and talented team at the Justice Department that is still laboring under the assumption that the President does want to prevail before the Supreme Court.
We have been discussing the opiate crisis that is destroying this country and countless families. A vivid display of the hold of these drugs can be found in the arrest of Chadwick Smith in Muncie, Indiana. Smith was arrested after an auto accident where he shot up with heroin while driving — leading to predictably tragic results. It is truly chilling to think of a person actually shooting up while traveling at high speed down a road.