President Donald Trump late Saturday night issued another highly controversial and frankly unfair tweet targeting the FBI. Trump suggested that the FBI might have prevented the massacre atMarjory Douglas Stoneman High School in Parkland, Florida if they weren’t “spending too much time trying to prove Russian collusion with the Trump campaign.” It is obviously a false association since the local and national offices dealing with such school threats are entirely removed by the Russian investigation. Indeed, the entire structure of the Special Counsel operation is designed to set it apart from Main Justice and other investigations. The tweet is being condemned as politicizing the massacre as students are still being mourned and buried. This includes some very angry responses from the surviving students.
Below is my column in the Hill newspaper on the implications of the scandals involving two women who have claimed affairs with President Donald Trump in prior years. There are real risks here for the White House which has been issuing categorical denials. Some of the greatest threats to a presidency come from the outer edges. That was the legacy of Bill Clinton whose adultery led to public dishonesty and ultimately perjury.
Michael Hufhand and Jed Kidwell, both 54, are facing a novel criminal charge: creating and maintaining an illegal bike trial in a state park. The two men were specifically charged with criminal mischief and trespassing for their bike trial in the Fort Harrison State Park.
Georgetown received considerable national attention last year when it offered preferential admissions treatment for the descendants of 272 slaves sold in 1838. It also published an apology, announced the creation of an institute on slavery, and renamed two buildings (including one, Issac Hayes Hall, after the first of the sold slaves). It appears however that the school has hit an impasse with the descendants who feel that Georgetown has not done enough and are demanding reparations. It is not clear if the reparations are in addition to the $1 billion demanded earlier from the University for a foundation.
In Rathdrum, Idaho, Brett K. Anderson, 47, does not appear to have seriously thought out his criminal scheme. Anderson is accused of stealing 40 foot sections of irrigation pipe and then driving down the highway with the pipes sticking out the car windows. He proceeded to hit other cars with pipes before being pulled over by police.
I recently discussed the highly problematic statement of Michael Cohen, the personal lawyer for President Donald Trump, that he paid off porn star Stormy Daniels (aka Stephanie Clifford) out of his personal funds. This admission did not necessary end the controversy over possible campaign finance violations but did add some thorny ethical questions. One of the possible costs was to void the 2016 agreement itself. Both sides reportedly agreed not to speak publicly about the details of the agreement, but Cohen has now done so in media interviews. In response, Daniels is declaring herself free of any limitations and promising to tell her full story. There is also a story that Daniels has a dress that might have forensic evidence linking her to Trump (sound familiar?). She is reportedly shopping her story. What a mess. This is the result of a combination of bad lawyering, publicity seeking, and what appears strikingly dishonest public statements. Non-disclosure agreements are tricky things since the parties will often dance around a breach in the hopes that the other party will trip the wire in response.
The danger for Trump is that Cohen, as previously described, has left him open to an allegation similar to the one that resulted in criminal charges against John Edwards — the use of a third party to conceal an affair as a circumvention of campaign finance laws. Mueller could conceivably ask about such payments as a possible crime — putting Trump in the same position as Bill Clinton.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren made a surprising appearance at the National Congress of American Indians this week and made an even more surprising statement that she is indeed part Native American. I have been critical of the use of this label (and name calling generally) by the President and others. Yet, the sudden discussion of the controversy was unexpected by Warren. The assumption for years is that Warren had backed off from this claim made during her academic career. She was counted by by two law schools as a Native American. Indeed, we first discussed this issue when Warren was still an academic and her claim that claiming to a Native American offered no advantage to her career. The speech comes at an interesting time for academia where more schools are allowing students to not simply choose their gender (or non-gender) but also their race.