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

Today in Court


On Monday of last week the FBI raided Michael Cohen’s office, home, and hotel—apparently, his house is being remodeled—and took away his paper files, computers, and external drives. Mr. Cohen is said to be in the habit of recording his conversations, and so, one supposes, the seized materials contain lots of recordings.

Some of these materials are subject to a valid claim of attorney-client privilege, which shields communications between a client and a lawyer—a member of the bar, acting as a lawyer, not in some other capacity such as business advisor—made for the purpose of securing legal advice.

Some of these materials are not subject to a valid claim of attorney-client privilege—for any one of several different reasons. For example, both Cohen and Trump claim that Cohen was acting on his own initiative when he paid off Stormy Daniels, and that Trump knew nothing about it; if that’s right, then Cohen had no client in that deal, so the attorney-client privilege clearly does not fit. In other cases Cohen may have been acting as a business advisor, or perhaps an expert on securing the services of thugs and hit men, not in his capacity as a lawyer. And the privilege does not apply to communications where the attorney joins with his client to commit a crime or a fraud.

Who gets to decide which documents and recordings are privileged sheep and which or unprivileged goats?

In a typical case, the prosecutor would serve a subpoena; lawyers for the person whose documents are requested would review the materials for (a) responsiveness to the subpoena and (b) privilege; documents that are both responsive and non-privileged would be turned over to the prosecutor; and documents deemed to be responsive but privileged would be listed and described in general terms on a schedule. Thereafter, the lawyers for the two sides would fence over the appropriateness of claims of privilege. And, where a dispute could not be resolved through negotiation, the document would be  submitted “in camera”—i.e., in secret—to a judge or magistrate to make the final call on privilege or no privilege.

Obviously, the government did not follow that procedure here, but just raided the office. Their argument, as I understand it, is that Cohen’s so-called law office is actually a criminal enterprise, and that they have set up their own separate team of lawyers, behind a Chinese wall, to examine which documents are privileged and which are not, and then turn over the right documents to the lawyer who will be prosecuting the case.

After the raid on Monday morning, it took Trump until Wednesday evening to hire a lawyer to handle the matter. He made an appropriate choice, Joanna Hendon, an experienced and highly respected member of a New York white collar defense boutique firm. His wise choice has two benefits. First, he now has competent counsel. Secondly, by using someone of real professional stature, not a sleazy clown, as his lawyer, Trump increases his chances that the court will allow his brand new, high caliber lawyer to take first crack at separating the privileged sheep from the unprivileged goats.

At the same time, by selecting a competent, ethical, high class lawyer, Trump runs a big risk: that she might reject any importuning to join in the commission of crimes and frauds, to obstruct justice, to suborn perjury, or to defame the Justice Department. This could be a problem. I give it a week or two before Trump fires Hendon and starts sliming her.

I hope she got her money up front. I’ll bet that she did. After all, she is in the business of representing criminals. Often criminals, even those not named Donald Trump, welch on their monetary obligations. That’s how they got to be criminals in the first place.

In any event, all of this will play out in court today. Presiding will be Judge Kimba Wood. senior United States district judge. Appointed to the U.S. District Court in Manhattan by Ronald Reagan in 1987, Judge Wood has been judgin’ for 31 years. Though a Reagan appointee, Judge Wood became one of Hillary Clinton’s ten thousand closest friends—and almost got to be named Attorney General, before being snared in nannygate. An ambitious person in her younger days—professionally, socially, economically, martially—the judge is now 74 years old and has seen it all.

Trump loves to bully and intimidate. His problem is that some people cannot be bullied and cannot be intimidated. Bullshit is something up with which Judge Wood will not put.

So who will actually get first crack at reviewing the documents and recordings? My guess is that the good judge and her team will be ordering in the headsets, along with an abundant supply of pizza and beer, and will be settling in for a long session of reviewing the materials themselves.






This Morning’s Portrait of America: Five Takeaways


Please take a look for yourself at this morning’s Washington Post-ABC News poll: here and here. No huge surprises, but lots of material for sober reflection.

The first question was, “Do you approve or disapprove of the way Donald Trump is handling his job as president?” Those who “approved” were asked to make a binary choice: did they “strongly approve” or did they “somewhat approve”? Ditto those who “disapproved.”

To provide more enlightenment about why people answered the general question the way they did, two further questions were posed: “Do you approve or disapprove of the way Trump is handling the economy?” and “Do you have a favorable or unfavorable impression of Trump as a person?”

Aardvark’s Takeaways

  1. Overall approval is trending up—chiefly among the same demographics that liked him to begin with, such as white folks without a college degree. This is appalling.
  2. It looks like the ceiling for overall Trump approval is holding at 40 percent. This is reassuring, but only “somewhat reassuring,” not “strongly reassuring.”
  3. Of the 40 percent of Americans who “approve” of Trump’s presidency, five eighths—or 25 percent of the total population—“strongly approve.” This is the Fox News audience. These are the people who say, “he may be a narcissistic jerk, but he’s OUR narcissistic jerk.” These are the good folks who yell “Lock Her Up!” and thus express their intense yearing to live in a banana republic. These are most of my kinsmen.
    I assume that if Trump is shown to be a criminal, these people would not care. They pretty much already know he’s a criminal.
  4. Setting aside the 10 percent of Americans who “somewhat disapprove” of Trump’s presidency, the number who “strongly disapprove”—46 percent—exceeds by six points the total number of approvers.
    One would suppose that people most likely to vote in 2018 are people who either strongly approve or strongly disapprove. The new data show that there are 46 of us for every 25 of them. Blue wave’s still a-comin’.
  5. Twenty-five percent of the electorate are wishy-washy (“somewhat approve” or “somewhat disapprove”). Their wishy-washiness arises, no doubt, from a myriad of causes, the most prominent of which are either functional illiteracy or general satisfaction with the economy. (Sixty-one percent have an “unfavorable impression of Trump as a person” but only 48 percent “disapprove of the way Trump is handling the economy.”)

By and large, then, the wishy-washies know that Trump is a jerk but think their own economic circumstances are good—and are happy to put up with a jerk if he brings them lower taxes. Put yet another way, for the 25 percent in the middle, it’s not a question of perception—they mostly know that he’s loony-tunes, but they think that personal gain is more important than public good.

  1. My name is Aardvark, not Nostradamus, so I don’t know what is going to happen. Facts and logic are all I have. Facts and logic would suggest that if Trump goes ahead with his trade war, and the economy goes to hell in a handbasket, he will lose all the wishy-washies as well as some material part of the Fox-loving 25 percent.

To Wee or Not to Wee, That is the …

7 signs

… Question for Putin

Trump called on the Russkies to expose Clinton’s email. Let the record reflect that Aardvark is not calling on Putin to engage in any act or omission.

I’m just making an observation, OK?

My observation is that Trump has just about outlived his usefulness as a Russian puppet. His goose is almost cooked. His jig is almost up. He’s unpredictable and getting unpredictableer by the day. There’s a big danger that he will lash out at Russia just to try to prove he isn’t a Russian lackey.

President Pence, by contrast, will have no special need to show he isn’t a Russian stooge. He would be far more predictable and far more manageable.

Logically, whatever Putin has on Trump—peepee tapes, Russian mafia connections, whatever it is—this would be a mighty opportune time for Putin to let it all hang out.

Just an observation, folks.

Meantime, Jonathan Chait gives us five reasons to conclude that the peepee tapes are probably real. Pathetic. Hilarious. Highly persuasive.

And, lastly, I had to look up “rusty trombone.” I have absolutely no intention of telling you what it means. But if you can’t help yourself, there is a Wikipedia entry, accompanied by a suitable illustration.