CNBC is reporting that Trump wants to make “flipping” illegal. Flipping is the term generally used to describe when someone is in hot water and flips on their associates in crime to work out a deal with Justice. So did Trump really say he wants to make flipping illegal? Or is this fake news?
As usual, there is nuance in what Trump is saying. You can see a portion of the interview here. Trump spoke about flipping in the context of Cohen “making stuff up”. In fact, he reiterates several times that he’s talking about when someone gets themselves in deep trouble and makes stuff up to get a lower prison sentence. Trump says this kind of flipping should be “almost illegal”.
Trump mentioned the curious case of Debbie Wasserman-Schultz’s IT guy Imran Awan, who was arrested under suspicion that he had possibly been involved in the DNC server hack and may have stolen from the DNC. Awan struck a deal in July and was convicted for lying on a loan application. The charges against his wife were dropped. The case has led to plenty of conspiracy theories and there has been zero media interest as to what Awan might have given up in his plea deal.
In the interview, Trump also pointed out that Cohen’s accusations about Trump campaign violations are wrong. Trump said that the payments to reimburse Cohen came out of his retainer paid from his businesses to Cohen. As the John Edwards case showed, that is not a crime. In fact, in Edwards case it was campaign donors who paid off his mistress, not his personal attorney in the process of creating an NDA. That would make what Trump did even more innocent than what Edwards did.
Trump did in fact tweet about the payments back in May. So Cohen’s revelation is hardly news to anyone who is interested. Trump tweeted that he reimbursed Cohen through his legal retainer and not from campaign funds. At the time Trump also claimed that there was no affair, that Daniels was attempting to extort him, and that they would pursue action against her based on the arbitration provisions in the NDA. Perhaps this is why Cohen still has no cooperation agreement despite his claims of dirt on Trump.
I wonder if the question will ever come up if Cohen’s attorney, Lanny Davis, is making these claims to affect the outcome of an election? Davis is a Clinton ally and has been speaking on Cohen’s behalf. He is a liberal Democrat who hates Trump and wants Republicans to lose in November. There doesn’t appear to be any evidence at this point to support some of his outlandish claims. But those claims being repeated over and over in the media will certainly affect the election in November. Maybe some forms of “flipping” should be “almost illegal”.
First let’s talk about media censorship. As we’ve documented, reporters like CNN’s Jim Acosta went crazy when Trump suggested Fake News was the enemy of the people. Over 200 newspapers wrote coordinated editorials attacking Trump based on the narrative that he was anti-Press. But in West Virginia, Trump shot down that narrative by going after social media censors. “I would rather have fake news than have anybody — including liberals, socialists, anything –than have anybody stopped and censored,” Trump said. He added warnings about the dangers of censoring opposing viewpoints.
Trump makes statement opposing censorship of any viewpoints, including liberals
The Left is frothing at the mouth over convictions of Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen. But there’s very little chance it will amount to anything. The media also seems to be confused into thinking that paying people for non-disclosure agreements of affairs is somehow illegal. What was illegal was Cohen submitting the payoff to one of Trump’s companies as some sort of expense reimbursement. For investigators to even begin to think they have a crime to charge Trump with, they have to get evidence beyond Cohen’s unreliable testimony. But beyond that, Trump can’t be indicted. He can only be impeached if evidence of criminal activity can be proven. An impeachment vote won’t pass with the current House makeup and even after November there is no way the Senate will have 75 yes votes on impeachment.
But more importantly, the Russian collusion narrative is once again proven to be dead. Manafort’s convictions are all for pre-Trump campaign financial crimes that have nothing to do with Trump. Despite Cohen’s willingness to sing like a bird to Mueller, he had nothing to offer when it comes to Russia. These two were literally the best hope Mueller had of ever having anything on Trump when it comes to Russia. Both flipped. Neither one had anything to offer. There was no Russian collusion with Trump.
Trump could be in political trouble, but won’t be impeached
In another Russia related story that the media is dutifully ignoring, Rick Scott announced Tuesday that the Department of Homeland Security and FBI informed him that there is no evidence that Russia has infiltrated the Florida election system. This was a wild and baseless claim made by his opponent Sen. Bill Nelson. Nelson provided no evidence for the claims, but seemed to be indicating that it was classified. After being called out on his claim by even the Washington Post, Nelson got quiet but hasn’t apologized for lying.
DHS and FBI confirm Bill Nelson lied about Russian meddling in Florida
On Tuesday, Paul Manafort was found guilty on 8 of the 18 charges against him. The jury was hung on the other 10 charges. All of the charges were related to Manafort’s actions before working with the Trump campaign. They included tax and bank fraud and hiding a foreign account. This was when Manafort was working with the Podesta Group. None of the charges had any relation to Russian collusion or the 2016 election.
Michael Cohen plead guilty in a plea deal to tax and bank fraud and is facing 3-5 years in jail. Cohen was Trump’s personal attorney. While this had nothing to do with Russia, collusion, or election meddling, there is a charge with Cohen that could touch Trump. Cohen is charged with two counts of illegal campaign contributions related to his paying off two porn stars who had alleged affairs with Trump. The key here is that in Cohen’s plea he said he was directed by the candidate to make those payments.
If Trump directed Cohen to pay off Stormy Daniels, and then reimbursed Cohen from the campaign, that could be trouble for Trump. However, if Cohen was paid by Trump’s company as a reimbursement as deputy US attorney Robert Khuzami explained, it could result in nothing more than an IRS issue for the President. Even then, a prosecutor would have to prove that Trump knew Cohen’s invoice was fraudulent. Cohen is less than trustworthy as a witness and had great incentive to rat on Trump.
Cohen also indicated that he would be willing to testify to Mueller that Trump knew about the Trump Tower meeting between his son and a Russian attorney, but there doesn’t seem to be anything illegal about that meeting even if he did.
The two biggest takeaways from these huge stories is that Russian collusion still has not materialized, but that Trump likely has not been honest about his affair with Stormy Daniels. That leaves Trump in the same boat as Bill Clinton in 1998, but without the perjury or obstruction of justice.