Tuesday, August 07, 2018

Trump's Damaging Trump Tower Admission

I have noted before how Donald Trump, a/k/a Der Trumpenführer, is a defense attorney's worse nightmare. He runs his mouth incessantly - changing his lies each time he opens his mouth - and will not listen to advisers, and believes that he is smarter than anyone else (much as Hitler viewed himself as smarter than his top generals).  As a result, Trump has had great difficulty in securing top legal talent and has found himself at times represented solely by Rudy Giuliani - who was kicked out of his own top tier firm because of his representation of Trump - and Jay Sekulow whose main career path has been representing extreme right wing Christian causes and ties to Pat Robertson.  Now, in a tweet Sunday morning, Trump has seemingly admitted that the June, 2016, meeting in Trump Tower was aimed at conspiring with Russian and accepting things of value from foreign nationals - all things that violate federal election laws and raise frightening national security concerns.  Here are excerpts from a piece in The Atlantic:
In an attempt to defend his son Donald Trump Jr. on Sunday, President Donald Trump may instead have incriminated him—and himself.
Responding to a Washington Post report that he is increasingly concerned about his eldest son’s legal exposure, [Trump] the president denied that claim in a tweet Sunday morning: Fake News reporting, a complete fabrication, that I am concerned about the meeting my wonderful son, Donald, had in Trump Tower. This was a meeting to get information on an opponent, totally legal and done all the time in politics - and it went nowhere. I did not know about it!
Both Trump and Trump Jr. have at times in the past denied that the purpose of the June 9, 2016, meeting was to get damaging information about Hillary Clinton, but [Trump] the president has now flatly acknowledged it. Despite the limitations of the medium, [Trump] the president packed a great deal of potential trouble into less than 280 characters.
First, he seems to proceed from the assumption that by declaring the purpose legal, that makes it so, when in fact the acknowledgement points to the ways the meeting may have broken federal laws.
Second, by contradicting his earlier claims, the president again underscores his prior dishonesty. This is not just a matter of public trust: The changing accounts also get at accusations that the president obstructed justice.
Finally, the tweet is riddled with internal contradictions. If the president is unconcerned about his son, why is he tweeting angrily about the story? And if what happened was entirely legal, why is he so quick to deny that he knew about the meeting?
When The New York Times first reported on the existence of the 2016 Trump Tower meeting, in July of last year, Trump Jr. issued a statement insisting it had been focused only on Russian adoptions. Faced with emails that showed Trump Jr. had been told to expect dirt on Clinton, he was forced to concede that that was not true.
Sunday’s tweet is the most direct statement yet that the purpose of the June 2016 meeting was to get damaging information from Natalia Veselnitskaya, a Russian lawyer who has deep ties to the Kremlin. Trump Jr. had also been told in an email ahead of the meeting that the government of President Vladimir Putin supported his father’s candidacy. But declaring the meeting legal does not make it so. Over the last week, the president and his lawyer Rudy Giuliani have focused on the claim that “collusion” with the Russians, or anyone else, is not a crime per se.
That may be true, but as Bob Bauer explains in Lawfare, accepting anything of value from Russians could easily fall afoul of laws that ban accepting electoral assistance from foreign nationals.
[Trump] has tweeted out an apparent admission that his son intended to break campaign-finance laws.
Sunday’s tweet connects with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into whether Trump obstructed justice, too. Roughly three weeks after the Times initially revealed the June 2016 meeting, the Post reported that the president had dictated his son’s initial, false denial while flying home from Europe on Air Force One. That lie has created a cascading series of problems.
His flip-flop raises further questions about whether he intended to misdirect investigators.
More broadly, the president’s repeated dishonesty about the June 2016 meeting undermines the credibility of every statement he makes about the meeting. Although the president and his son—the latter under penalty of perjury—have both said that Trump Sr. only learned of the June 2016 meeting last year, Trump’s former fixer Michael Cohen last week claimed that the president was aware of the meeting before it happened. Why should anyone give Trump the benefit of the doubt now?
The implication is that the president wasn’t even honest with his attorneys about his role in dictating the statement. Has Trump withheld any other damaging information from his attorneys? Meanwhile, even as Mueller is reportedly poring over Trump’s Twitter feed as part of the obstruction inquiry, the president continues to provide new fodder. Tweets like Sunday’s seem intended to dig out of a hole, but in practice they threaten to dig deeper.
[Trump's] The president’s admission about the Trump Tower meeting comes at a moment of high tension, even by the standards of this administration.
Trump’s public appearances and utterances give an impression of a man who is increasingly agitated and concerned about the Mueller inquiry. And for good reason: Several of Trump’s legal troubles are converging at the moment. The trial of Paul Manafort continues this week in northern Virginia.
Cohen’s legal troubles threaten Trump as well. The former aide has not been charged with any crimes, but he’s embroiled in controversy over payments to two women who allegedly had affairs with Trump. Not only has Cohen signaled a willingness to offer damaging information about Trump, but prosecutors in New York have also subpoenaed the longtime Trump Organization moneyman Allen Weisselberg.
For Trump to even address the threat to his “wonderful son” is an unusual show of vulnerability for a man who tries to project unstinting strength. Yet whenever he has tried to shield Trump Jr., it has only caused grief. The statement [Trump] the president dictated aboard Air Force One has become a piece of the obstruction investigation, while Sunday’s tweet could incriminate Trump Jr. It’s said that a man who represents himself has a fool for a client. A son who allows Donald Trump to be his advocate may be in even worse shape.

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