A Recommended Read

hush money

Michael Kranish, Tom Hamburger, and Rosalind S. Heiderman, Michael Cohen, once at pinnacle of Trump’s world, now poses threat to it

It’s a detailed account of the career of Michael Cohen, the most famous alumnus of the country’s worst law school. I won’t try to summarize; you can read for yourself, if so inclined. But, to me, the most interesting observation is this: “In the view of several Cohen associates, the Daniels payment was an ill-conceived Cohen effort to curry Trump’s favor at a time when the lawyer’s rivals were shutting him out.”

Fits the known facts pretty well, I think, particularly the detailed account laid out in the article.

And pretty much the sort of harebrained stunt you would expect from a graduate of the worst law school in the country.

Don’t forget that the hush money purported contract recites that Trump is waiving any claims he might have against Stormy, which Trump bloody well could not do if he knew nothing about the alleged agreement. Which makes the transaction fraudulent. And probably involved some fair amount of mail fraud and wire fraud.

He Also Denied that he is a Crook

Trump Denies Report That He Calls Sessions ‘Mr. Magoo’

President Donald Trump on Saturday denied a new report in the Washington Post alleging that Trump will refer to Attorney General Jeff Sessions as “Mr. Magoo,” an old cartoon character of an elderly man with poor vision.

Trump also denied that he calls Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein “Mr. Peepers,” another old character from a 1950s sitcom, as the Washington Post reported.

Order in the Court!


I have been doing some pro bono lawyering myself in the last few days, and have now come up to the surface. It appears that a lot has been going on. I want to answer a few questions, to the best of my modest ability.

So, what was the first thing you noticed about the DNC suit against the Russkies and a bunch of the Trump entourage?

As is my wont on such occasions, I first turned to the signature page—page 54 in this instance—to see who signed the complaint. The answer: it was one Michael Eisenkraft of the Cohen Milllstein firm. They are a leading plaintiffs’ firm, known for big class action cases for alleged corporate misdeeds of various kinds. They are both ethical and highly effective. If you are in the defense bar and learn that Cohen Milstein has just sued your client’s ass, the conclusion to which you will leap is that your client’s ass has just been well and truly sued.

And proving “conspiracies”? They wrote the book on it?

Named defendants include the Trump campaign, Donald Trump, Jr., and five other Trump cronies. If Trump himself is having trouble finding a lawyers of stature to represent him, won’t his cronies have the devil’s own time finding good lawyers to represent them?

Yes, I would think that would be the case.

Why didn’t they name Trump as a defendant?

Probably, lots of reasons. One is that they avoid a big fight at the beginning of the case about when and how a sitting president can be sued.

What laws are the defendants charged with violating?

The central charge is that they all conspired to violate Sections 1831 and 1832 of Title 18 (the title that codifies federal criminal law). The crimes forbidden by these two sections are, respectively, economic espionage and theft of trade secrets. Although private parties cannot directly prosecute federal criminal violations, they may use these alleged violations as “predicate acts” in a civil case for damages under the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, commonly known as RICO.

What will happen next?

Once they secure lawyers to defend them—which may be no easy task—I assume that, in an effort to avoid “discovery,” defense counsel will file one or more motions to dismiss “for failure to state a claim for relief” under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

I say “one or more” motions, because counsel for the various defendants may want to make rather different arguments.

Some of the Trump cronies may want to retain common counsel, and that may happen. But it will be tricky, because one or more of the cronies may want to settle and turn his coat on the others. And that, ladies and germs, creates what we call a conflict of interest.

Almost surely, the Roosian defendants will have a separate team from the Trump crony defendants. Doesn’t look good for the Trump crony defendants to say, “Conspiracy? What conspiracy? But, by the way, here we are in court represented by the same lawyers who work for the Russian intelligence agencies.”

Will the defendants succeed in getting the case dismissed before discovery?

Long story short: I very much doubt it. Legally, the case seems well founded. As to the facts, well, some of the talking heads have pointed out that you can’t prove facts in court by relying on news reports. But the complaint doesn’t try to “prove facts.” It tries to lay out a good factual basis for proceeding to the discovery phase of litigation.

And besides, the American bar and the American judiciary are well and truly pissed at Donald J. Trump. Even his guy Gorsuch ruled against him last week. Judges read the newspapers and watch the news. When calling the balls and strikes, they are not going to give Trump the benefit of the doubt.

What will happen when the defendants lose their motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim for relief?

Discovery: disclosure of relevant records, depositions, lots of opportunities to commit perjury. Lots of pressure on the weakest defendants to break ranks.

Turning to other matters, what about Rudi Giuliani’s joining Trump’s legal team?

Trump is in deep legal trouble. In desperation, he has hired competent white collar criminal defense counsel in New York and in Miami. But where you have legal troubles on many fronts, where the issues in one case relate to the issues in another case, and where there is a risk of multiple lawyers getting in one another’s way, what you badly need is a very clever spider sitting at the center of the web.

Rudy Guiliani is not that person. Rudy Giuliani is a blowhard—who himself will probably be a witness in one or more Trump-related cases.

Rudy and The Donald truly deserve one another. Aardvark welcomes Rudy to the circus.

Some have pointed out that Rudy hasn’t even worked in criminal law since 1989, and has probably lost his skills. Do you agree?

No, I don’t think that’s the issue. If he last rode a bicycle in 1989, he would probably still know how to ride a bicycle. The issue is his temperament and his judgment—which are, respectively, repellent and nonexistent.

And, finally, do you have anything new to say about the Michael Cohen raid and the legal circus going on in Manhattan federal court?

Yes, I do. Please check out The Judge in the Michael Cohen-Stormy Daniels Case Is Perfect: A porn star in the courtroom? The president’s secrets at stake? Why Kimba Wood isn’t even blinking.

Princeton’s Greatest Mistake Since Aaron Burr Now in Deep Doodoo


Ted Cruz in Close Texas Senate Race, Poll Says

Within the margin of error, folks.

And, truly, it could not happen to a nicer guy.

Meanwhile, in other news, Trump’s own lawyers are giving interviews comparing him to a mafia boss.

In a conversation with Trump last Friday, Jay Goldberg, one of Trump’s lawyers, warned the president, “Michael will never stand up [for you]” if charged by the government, according to the Wall Street Journal. But why would Trump have anything to worry about, unless… Trump committed a crime that Cohen knows about?

In an interview with the Journal, Goldberg elucidated his concerns about Cohen’s loyalty and the devastating impact it would have if he cooperated with the government. “The mob was broken by Sammy ‘The Bull’ Gravano caving in out of the prospect of a jail sentence,” Goldberg explained.

More from Jonathan Chait at Trump’s Lawyer Forgets to Pretend He’s Innocent, Also Compares Him to Mobster.

From Congressman X’s Lips to God’s Ears


This morning we welcome guest blogger Erick Erickson. In A Congressman’s Profanity Laced Tirade in a Safeway Grocery Store Erickson quotes an unidentified Republican congressman who appears regularly on Faux News to lend Trump his public support:

I read you writing about this, about wanting to say nice things when you can and criticize when you need to. He may be an idiot, but he’s still the President and leader of my party and he is capable of doing some things right. But dammit he’s taking us all down with him. We are well and truly f**ked in November. …

It’s like Forrest Gump won the presidency, but an evil, really f*cking stupid Forrest Gump. He can’t help himself. He’s just a f**king idiot who thinks he’s winning when people are b*tching about him. He really does see the world as ratings and attention. …

Judiciary is stacked with a bunch of people who can win re-election so long as they don’t piss off Trump voters in the primary. But if we get to summer and most of the primaries are over, they just might pull the trigger if the President fires Mueller. The sh*t will hit the fan if that happens and I’d vote to impeach him myself. Most of us would, I think. Hell, all the Democrats would and you only need a majority in the House. If we’re going to lose because of him, we might as well impeach the motherf**ker. Take him out with us and let Mike [Pence] take over. At least then we could sleep well at night. …

He wakes up in the morning, sh*ts all over Twitter, sh*ts all over us, sh*ts all over his staff, then hits golf balls. F*ck him. Of course, I can’t say that in public or I’d get run out of town.

Faustian Bargains …

female Faust


Sanctions Flap Erupts Into Open Conflict Between Haley and White House

Nikki, Nikki, Nikki, you thought you were smart. You thought you could do business with him.

But you were wrong. You can’t do business with him, because no one can do business with him.

Mephistopheles drives a hard bargain, but at least he keeps his (or her) end of the deal. This guy drives a hard bargain and then doesn’t deliver.

The longer you stay in Trump’s cow pasture, the more brown you get on your shoes.

female Faust 2