The unholy criminal trio - from left: Paul Manafort - found guilty on 8 counts, Trump- implicated as an unindicted co-conspirator by Michael Cohen (right) for directing Cohen to make undisclosed hush money payments to two women to influence the 2016 election. Cohen himself pled guilty to 8 charges at nearly the same time Manafort was found guilty.
A blockbuster of a terrible day yesterday for the Traitor-in-chief which one WSJ columnist (Gerald Seib, p. A4 today) referred to as: "the darkest day of the Trump presidency so far" - a nice qualification given there will be many more as Robert Mueller's noose tightens around Trump's fat orange neck e.g.
Even as he keeps yelping "Witch hunt!" like a demented, obese orange parrot.
Let's cut to Paul Manafort first: After the Alexandria, Virginia Jury found him guilty on eight counts, including filing a false tax return in each of the years from 2010 through 2014 as well as two counts of bank fraud, the jury oddly bogged down, becoming deadlocked on the other ten counts. Those charges, for which the judge declared a "hung jury", included: three counts for not filing a form to report a foreign bank account (a clear felony proven by the prosecutors' paper trail), and seven counts for conspiracy to commit bank fraud. IN the latter case there was also more than ample paper crime evidence to dispatch this bitch for at least 30 years - along with the other charges.
SO what happened? Why didn't the Jury go all out on this slime ball? I have two conjectures:1) At least one juror became "tainted" by exposure to outside news (e.g. FOX News) despite being told not to succumb, and 2) Two or more jurors got their brains and exercise of judgments scrambled by the c-word , i.e. conspiracy, in the charges. So they were averse to charging this Trumpie criminal and former campaign manager on anything that smacked of conspiracy.
Let's take the first speculation; Without the jury having been sequestered over its four day deliberations- and just being sent home - there is no way at all to know if one or more broke ranks and was compromised by external media. By that I mean they deliberately or inadvertently were exposed to a segment of FOX News, say, that bellowed about Manafort and Dotard's "witch hunt" rants. Even if only one juror - likely one of six males - was so affected, it would mean corruption of the jury's decision making. That single juror - guided by the propaganda from a FOX segment - could then insist on 'not guilty' for the charge or not meeting the standard of "beyond reasonable doubt".
The indirect tainting by association with the c-word is more controversial but still possible. We've known for going on fifty years that the corporate media has corrupted the use of the word conspiracy. First, by eliding actual conspiracies (e.g. Iran-Contra, BCCI, Watergate, JFK assassination) with daft ideations such as that no actual lunar landings occurred and they were all filmed on a sound stage. But also this has involved a dedicated and deliberate strategy that commenced with the JFK assassination- and the use of "Operation Mockingbird" - i.e. to put to rest or divert to the news dustbin any efforts to invoke real conspiracy in that event. (This despite the House Select Committee on Assassinations, the HSCA, finding for a "96 percent probability" of conspiracy in that event.)
After the actual Watergate conspiracy with Nixon and his CIA "plumbers" (including one or more who also had plausible roles in the Kennedy hit, like E. Howard Hunt) the efforts went full bore to alter public perceptions. Thus, one beheld increasing use of the more benign, generic term "scandal" to replace "conspiracy" in a concerted effort to expunge the latter from public consciousness. In effect, we were then expected by the media to accept the "Watergate Scandal" instead of Watergate conspiracy, and the "Iran-Contra scandal" instead of Iran-Contra Conspiracy.
The latter despite the explicit use of the term as well as "conspirators" in the official Iran-Contra Report. To wit, from page 56 and the charges as articulated by then independent counsel Lawrence E. Walsh:
1) Using government resources, the conspirators conducted an unauthorized covert program in support of the contras.”
2) “North and Poindexter used their Government positions to create a hidden slush fund under the exclusive control of the conspirators”
3) “By secretly pursuing their own ends, the conspirators outraged the Iranians they were attempting to persuade and thus jeopardized the success of the Iran initiative.”
It's difficult to fathom how the language could be any more explicit. But perhaps to these jurors (or maybe just one) it made a difference. And because the word "conspiracy" appeared in the charge the person or persons became convinced that the standard of beyond a reasonable doubt was not met. Who knows? As I indicated these are just my conjectures, but the outcome was in denying Mueller a clean victory - as well as lessening the potential time Manafort could spend on ice, from over 30 years to likely less than ten. It is also difficult to reconcile this partial win with op-ed headlines such as 'Mueller 1, Manafort 0' such as I've seen. It's more like Mueller 1/2 Manafort 0- and there's still a trial of Manafort to go with even more serious charges, some of which (i.e. involving the Ukraine) impinge on the Russia probe. Even before the next phase, one thing we can say is that Manafort's conviction - even on a fraction of the charges - shows that Mueller's probe is neither "rigged" nor a "witch hunt".
In his upcoming trial Manafort faces charges of failing to register as a lobbyist for the Ukraine government, and "conspiring to tamper with witnesses " in that case. Note the conspiracy bogey pops up again, so if my conjecture on the adverse influence of the c-word is correct, look for all those c-word related charges to also end up deadlocked. We will see.
Meanwhile, in the Cohen guilty plea and statements attendant on the 8 admitted charges yesterday, there is much more political peril for Trump. After all, Cohen was his prime "fixer" and knows "where all the bodies are buried" - as Janice put it.
In the charging documents filed Tuesday Cohen claimed Trump directed him to make payments that violated campaign finance laws in an effort to stop Stormy Daniels, the pornographic film actress, and Karen McDougal, a former Playboy model, from going public about alleged extramarital affairs. In entering the plea, Cohen did not name the two women, and Trump was referenced as "Individual -1". So any person - even sub-Mensa level in IQ - could figure it out.
Another salient point: It isn't just a case of Michael Cohen's word against Trump's. Oh no. There is a constellation of positive evidence supporting Cohen's claims, including: thousands of records obtained from Cohen's residence in the April 9, 2018 warrant search conducted by the FBI, e.g. hard copy financial, legal documents, seized electronic devices, audio recordings made by Cohen, emails, text messages sent over encrypted applications, records retrieved from the corporation referenced in the charging documents as "Corporation One" and records from the media company also therein referenced. Last but not least, there is the documented testimony of witnesses involved in the transactions for illegal payoffs. If Trump has any scintilla of sentience left in that febrile brain he ought to be shitting bricks.
Lanny Davis, Cohen’s lawyer, asked in a tweet: “If those payments were a crime for Michael Cohen, then why wouldn’t they be a crime for Donald Trump? Indeed. And this morning Mr. Davis had to repeat his explanation three times to the boneheads Nora O'Donnell and John Dickerson - who didn't seem to grasp the concept of "dispositive evidence". When each CBS knucklehead continued to ask "Where's the evidence?" for the "explosive" claim that Trump directed Cohen to make these payments- Davis repeatedly referred to Trump's lawyers who themselves made that statement as sworn testimony before Mueller. Hence, their recorded statements qualified as "dispositive evidence" . But the dynamic duo of CBS Early Show never did process it.
Ultimately this is where Trump... our dear traitor...errr leader, faces gravest peril in that under federal law hush money payments made before an election are considered in-kind contributions to a campaign and must be disclosed. Conspiring (that c-word again!) to generate such a contribution in excess of $25,000 is an indictable offense and a felony. While it is claimed "sitting presidents cannot be indicted" this is purely under DOJ current policy - not law. Bear that it mind as this whole sordid tableaux unfolds.
See also:There's Another Major Bombshell Buried in Michael Cohen's Felony Charges