The revenge of Rod Rosenstein

  
Via:  Vic Eldred  •  4 months ago  •  6 comments

The revenge of Rod Rosenstein
It is unlikely to be lethal, absent false statements or obstructions, but it is likely to exhaust him and his presidency. His mounting troubles are likely to rekindle his anger at Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who will leave the Justice Department in coming weeks. It was Rosenstein who ordered the referral of the Cohen criminal case to the Southern District of New York.

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We the People

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T


As special counsel Robert Mueller prepares his final report and Congress ramps up its own investigations, we soon will have answers to questions over collusion, obstruction, and Russian influence. Yet, President Trumpmay answer one of the most intriguing questions of all: Is it better to fight one horse-sized duck or a hundred duck-sized horses? New developments make it likely that Trump will fight a hundred duck-sized horses, in the form of alleged collateral crimes rather than collusion. None appears life threatening in their own right, so the real question here is what they will represent collectively during the next two years of this administration.

When Mueller was appointed, Trump faced a horse-sized duck in the form of Russian collusion allegations. That duck has yet to materialize over the course of dozens of “speaking” indictments and filings. One indictment stated that any contact between Trump officials and Russians was done “unwittingly,” and not one filing or witness has established a link between either Trump or his campaign and Russian hacking of Democratic emails. At most, there is evidence that Trump associates like Roger Stone, as well as Trump himself, wanted to see that material. But many journalists and political operatives were trying to obtain the same material, which had already been teased as forthcoming by WikiLeaks. That itself not a crime.

Trump also faced a horse-sized duck with the obstruction allegations. The problem is that there is still no clear obstruction by Trump, despite a litany of inappropriate comments. He did not fire Mueller. He did not order the end of the special counsel investigation. He also has not been accused of destroying evidence. He has tweeted aplenty but that is more obnoxious than obstructive. None of that changed with the testimony of Michael Cohen, who expressly said he has no evidence of collusion. He offered little more on obstruction beyond saying that he believed Trump wanted him to lie about Trump Tower in Moscow, without Trump ordering him to lie. There is still far more duck than horse in obstruction theories.

Instead, Cohen in his testimony became a virtual wrangler of duck-sized horses, including portraits bought with charity funds, insurance claims with inflated damages, a bid for a National Football League team with inflated assets, hush money for mistresses, even false medical claims to avoid the draft. Many of these little equines are coming from the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, rather than the special counsel in Washington. Yet, these pint-sized horses would make a poor case for impeachment even in the aggregate. Many occurred before Trump became president, and most would fall short of the constitutional standard. Even as criminal matters, presumably in prosecutions after Trump leaves office, this herd is even less threatening than it appears.

Hush money

Of the various legal horses, the most formidable is the allegation that Trump knowingly participated in a violation of campaign finance laws. Cohen produced checks signed by Trump after he became president that were reimbursement for hush money paid to adult film star Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal. Federal prosecutors had treated the payments as a criminal matter when charging Cohen for his role in this violation. Under the same theory, Trump was also a party to the crime.

Justice Department policy, wrongly in my view, maintains that a sitting president should not be indicted. Prosecutors could pursue a charge on the payments against Trump after he leaves office but this is no easy case to make. The Justice Department failed in such a prosecution against former Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards. The signing of these checks and the alleged directions given to Cohen make the case stronger, but Cohen may have weakened the chances for the prosecution. The most obvious defense for Trump is that he was motivated in making the payments not by the campaign but by his marriage and reputation.

Cohen gave Trump a major lift in that defense in two respects. First, he testified that Trump never thought he was going to win the 2016 election. Many others did not either, and even Trump himself said he continued to pursue business deals in anticipation that he might lose. Second, Cohen recounted how Trump had him speak to the first lady about the payments, to assure her that the stories of affairs were untrue. That would support a defense that Trump was worried about his wife finding out and may have been protecting his marriage and his reputation. This all comes down to motivation, and Cohen supplied Trump with a much stronger defense.

Financial fraud

Cohen has been charged with bank fraud, as has former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort. Cohen implicated Trump in both insurance fraud and bank fraud in the inflation of damages and assets. Those, too, could be charged as crimes. In business, however, assets often are exaggerated. For example, Trump reportedly gave Deutsche Bank figures on his worth that jumped in one year by $4 billion. Yet, the list of liabilities and assets on the “summary of net worth” seems like a fairly preliminary document.

It might not constitute the type of accounting data that would trigger a fraud claim. The $4 billion is also explained as “brand value.” That might be dismissed as a tangible value for accounting purposes, but Trump clearly indicated the source of this claimed value. Inflated insurance claims can be a cut and dried criminal case if they are outside the range of valuation. However, that is a big “if” as businesses often claim the highest potential value or damage when they seek insurance coverage.

Charity fraud

The best example of the scourge of tiny horses is the controversy over a portrait of Trump. Most of us were transfixed by the notion that Trump would rig an auction with a straw buyer to make sure that his portrait was the most expensive purchase. That is not a crime but he allegedly used money from his charity to buy the portrait, then hung the painting in one of his properties. In July 2013, Trump tweeted about his portrait being the most valuable item. The date is important, since most forms of fraud have a statute of limitations lasting five years. The statute on fraud involving financial institutions can be as long as 10 years. However, these violations are rarely prosecuted criminally anyway. In the worst cases, the charity is disbanded, which is precisely what happened to the Trump Foundation.

These are all examples of why fighting a hundred duck-sized horses is easier but can take more time. Trump will be answering questions and subpoenas on these allegations for the next two years. It is unlikely to be lethal, absent false statements or obstructions, but it is likely to exhaust him and his presidency. His mounting troubles are likely to rekindle his anger at Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who will leave the Justice Department in coming weeks. It was Rosenstein who ordered the referral of the Cohen criminal case to the Southern District of New York.

At the time, I wrote that the move made more strategic than legal sense. It made little sense for Mueller to pursue Manafort on unrelated fraud and other crimes but then to send similar claims against Cohen to New York. If anything, Cohen is linked more closely to Trump, as recently shown. Yet, in doing so, Rosenstein has insured that any forced closure of the special counsel investigation would not end all investigations. In other words, if the horse-sized duck toppled in Washington, a stampede of duck-sized horses was coming from New York. Now we will see which one is worse.



Jonathan Turley is the Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at George Washington University. You can follow him on Twitter @JonathanTurley.

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Vic Eldred
1  seeder  Vic Eldred    4 months ago

An entire Presidency will be haunted & hounded by progressives and their allies in the deep state and the media. The American people see it. History will record it.

 
 
 
Dismayed Patriot
1.1  Dismayed Patriot  replied to  Vic Eldred @1    4 months ago
An entire Presidency will be haunted & hounded by progressives and their allies in the deep state and the media

Even your seed isn't claiming there's no "there there". It's saying that there is a lot of smoke to be investigated but as of yet Trumps followers are holding out hope there's no fire. If this Presidency is haunted by anything it will be its own ineptitude and incompetence, and that's on top of very likely criminal acts, from making policy that directly profits his business he refused to divest from, paying off porn stars to keep quiet during an election to obstruction of justice, no smoking gun of conspiracy needed.

Oh, and if you make a claim like the one about some secret "Deep State", how about you provide any evidence of it? Or is it supposedly so all powerful and invisible you're unable to provide a shred of evidence for it just like the God you worship and you expect us just to accept it on faith?

 
 
 
Vic Eldred
1.1.1  seeder  Vic Eldred  replied to  Dismayed Patriot @1.1    4 months ago
Even your seed isn't claiming there's no "there there".

There being what?  Collusion/conspiracy?  obstruction?   or anything that can be found from a lifetime?


 If this Presidency is haunted by anything it will be its own ineptitude and incompetence, and that's on top of very likely criminal acts, from making policy that directly profits his business he refused to divest from, paying off porn stars to keep quiet during an election to obstruction of justice, no smoking gun of conspiracy needed.

All of that trivia has nothing to do with the reason for the original investigations, nor does any of it add up to an impeachable offense. It is progressives that keep hoping and it is Pelosi who knows that impeachment is counter productive if it isn't bipartisan.

Oh, and if you make a claim like the one about some secret "Deep State", how about you provide any evidence of it?

That evidence has been provided ad nauseam. The IG report found leaking & lying at the FBI. We has numerous individuals fired or retired with at least one criminal referral. The counter intelligence investigation & the Mueller probe had no criminal predicates and were launched via a fraudulent FISA application. Haven't heard any of it? I suppose CNN hasn't covered it.

 
 
 
JohnRussell
2  JohnRussell    4 months ago

History will record Donald Trump as the worst president in American history. He is already perceived as such by historians, as I demonstrated with a seed a couple weeks ago.

The biggest problem we have in America today that relates to the political situation is the constant, ever present bamboozling and gaslighting that comes from Trumpsters and Trump sympathizers. Such constant lying, misdirecting, and "see no evil" attitudes will not be forgotten by history. 

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Trump should find out if lawyer Turley is available to defend him in the legal matters. It would be a gigantic upgrade over what is defending Trump now.  Turley used to be a moderate commentator on legal matters , but like Dershowitz he has grown conservative and affectionate towards Trump. It is difficult to explain rationally, but shit happens.

Vic, there is no "deep state".  I was warching Meet The Press this morning and the Trump bootlicker Jim Jordan was on there, reciting the nonsense that Hillary was actually the one colluding with Russians. Such delusion is as inexplicable as it is idiotic.

Vic, if Clinton colluded with Russia to produce damaging information about Trump , why didnt she use any of it? 

 
 
 
Sean Treacy
2.1  Sean Treacy  replied to  JohnRussell @2    4 months ago
Clinton colluded with Russia to produce damaging information about Trump , why didnt she use any of i

She did.  It was peddled extensively to the press corp (who couldn't verify the false allegations) but was published by Yahoo and Mother Jones prior to the election.

We know Clinton received  false information about Trump from Russian Government officials.

What proof do you have Trump colluded with Russia? 

 
 
 
Vic Eldred
2.2  seeder  Vic Eldred  replied to  JohnRussell @2    4 months ago
History will record Donald Trump as the worst president in American history.

History dosen't pronounce judgement on Presidents while they are still in office. 

The biggest problem we have in America today

The biggest problem we have in America today is the radicalism & divisive rhetoric of the far left.

Trump should find out if lawyer Turley is available to defend him in the legal matters. It would be a gigantic upgrade over what is defending Trump now.  Turley used to be a moderate commentator on legal matters , but like Dershowitz he has grown conservative and affectionate towards Trump. It is difficult to explain rationally, but shit happens.

I know, you don't like people who adhere to principles. Well, the man you hate need not worry too much about legal representation until after he has served as President. I know progressives would love to change all precedent on the indictments involving sitting Presidents, but Trump gets the same benefits of every other President. BTW he has rights too!

Vic, there is no "deep state".

John,  yes there is.

 I was warching Meet The Press this morning and the Trump bootlicker Jim Jordan was on there, reciting the nonsense that Hillary was actually the one colluding with Russians.

It was called the Steele Dossier. Google it, I'm sure CNN never mentions it.

Vic, if Clinton colluded with Russia to produce damaging information about Trump , why didnt she use any of it? 

She did. It was shared with the FBI, the State Department and John McCain. The FBI used it to get FISA warrants on American citizens and Robert Mueller had it staring him right in the face, yet he ignored it.

 
 
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