President's lawyers think it was unfair for Mueller to ask questions of the President without first informing the President that he should tell the truth because Mueller might have evidence to show false answers were false. https://t.co/stFyKZjQNB pic.twitter.com/VycHZy6au6— Orin Kerr (@OrinKerr) November 29, 2018
Looking over the news contents of a super-busy day in TrumpWorld, this Tweet encapsulates something really "off" about the mindset of Trump and the folks surrounding him: Why would it be "unfair" for Mueller to ask President Trump questions without warning him of the penalties for lying, if not lying was something he should the hell have known not to do anyway? Was telling the truth such an unreasonable expectation?
Apparently! It seems to be taken for granted that Trump does not tell the truth and that people around Trump have reasons not to tell the truth, and frankly, that points to the likelihood that the truth is actually...not good. And it seems like his attorneys (of which he has had several) have never been able to entirely persuade him that the truth isn't bent into some origami abstract subjective performance art by either the frequency of one's lies or the Rashomon-like posting of several versions of the purported event because of an odd set of circumstances called "facts".
This brings us to the plea deal by former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, for the charge of making false statements to Congress. In other words, he admits to lying, just as Jerome Corsi, who rejected a plea deal about the lying thing, admits rather publicly on tv to have actually been lying. (which makes it altogether seem to me that Corsi isn't really objecting to the perjury charge, but the cooperation agreement, because he'd like to still have some lies, thanks.) Cohen, on the other hand, wants to get washed, and has banked 70 hours of grilling with Mueller and company. Unlike Paul Manafort, he (like Rick Gates) might have come to the conclusion that he still has enough to live for to recognize the bind that he's in, and just be forthcoming. Because facts are facts, and you can get tripped up by them.
The material issue that was lied about in this instance was the development of a Moscow Trump Towers deal. This is a thing that had been a dream of Donald Trump for some time, and which other members of his family had worked on (with some interesting connections). This could be scoffed at as being a real estate matter only, except that it explicitly does tie into the presidency run, in the words of Felix Sater: "Our boy can become president of the USA and we can engineer it." (I do not know if something like Trump Tower Moscow is what is meant in the cryptic "business deal" with Russia referred to in a recent George Papadopoulos story).
This is liable to have some real fall-out for Trump. We already have reason to believe that Michael Cohen can point us in the direction of one or more campaign finance violations in the form of hush money to Stormy Daniels (and likely others--wanna bet?). The ongoing story about Trump financial dealing with Russians, which he once heartily disavowed ever having, could have been used by the Putin regime as leverage, even if there had not been any kompromat of the sort alleged by the Steele Dossier. (Buzzfeed, who initially published the dossier, has had some great reporting since that is corroborated by this plea deal, and suggests new questions raised.) But Cohen worked for Trump for a dozen years or so--and in that time, might have known who knows what about other instances of bribery or graft.
Our estimation of Trump's generally sleaziness is such that when Deutsche Bank was raided just now, folks immediately thought of Trump, because Deutsche Bank was still loaning money to him after other banks weren't interested in the risk. (And even after he defaulted on a loan in 2008.) With Deutsche Bank's history of money laundering, and for that matter, history of money laundering in Trump's immediate vicinity, one could wonder whether he stayed a customer because he was "otherwise profitable". (So was Jared Kushner. Maybe.) Also, oddly, on the same day, Chicago alderman and former Trump Tax attorney Ed Burke got raided. Weird--but Trump got good tax deals, and, uh, so did Jared Kushner. I'm not saying these things are connected, only that Trump's former bagman might have knowledge pertaining to these things. And knowing nothing more about his potential liability (if reporting is correct that Rosenstein is still the man over this investigation, and Whitaker has not yet sought control, I guess nothing is funneling up to Trump,) somebody is sweating Man-Tan into his collar by now.
And by now, what we know is, Trump doesn't react well to reversals of fortune, surprises, slights real or imagined, rain, random stuff said by celebrities, stairs, bad press, or reminders that he can't control everything and that things like facts and laws exist. So he is going to be a reclusive, surly, and probably fast-exiting omnishambles at G20.
Which is a damn shame in the midst of a trade war he started, and seems to not understand the fundamentals of.
Coming up--Manafort sentencing date will be decided. I am glad to be getting my blogging chops back, but I wish these folks would stop aggressively "newsing" at me. How can I follow so many stories? Also, I might think more indictments are forthcoming, and I am not even mad.
(TWGB is my edgy new way of working "TrumpWorld Grab-Bag" into the title of my blog posts, because I'm easily seeing doing a couple of these a week for the forseeable future and am not going to work that mouthful into the titles all the damn time.)