November 30, 2018

Cohen Pleads Guilty to Lying to Congress

“Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s former longtime personal lawyer, pleaded guilty on Thursday to lying to Congress about a proposed Trump Organization skyscraper in Moscow, prompting the president to lash out at Cohen as a liar and ‘weak person.’"


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From the Left

The left considers this a significant development in the Mueller investigation, noting that it establishes ulterior motives for Trump’s actions toward Russia, and also shows that Trump and close associates actively hid information from the American public.

The president of the United States’ personal lawyer admitted to lying to Congress about the president’s business activities with a hostile foreign power, in order to support the president’s story... if Cohen’s telling the truth this time, then this conclusion, at least, is inescapable: The president, who has followed this drama obsessively, knew that his personal lawyer was lying to Congress about his business activities, and stood by while it happened."

The Atlantic

Robert Mueller is one step closer to showing links between Donald Trump’s business interests in Russia and his conduct as a candidate for president... Cohen’s latest revelations on their own don’t constitute evidence of a crime or impeachable offense by Trump. However, they do show that Trump was part of a negotiation that linked his status as a candidate to his business interests in Russia."


“It’s true that Trump had the right to do business in Russia during the time when he was a candidate, but the public also had a right to know where his true financial interests lay. It would have been highly relevant to the public to learn that Trump was negotiating a business deal with Russia at the same time that he was proposing to change American policy toward that country. Not only was the public deprived of this information but Cohen’s guilty plea indicates that voters were actively misled about Trump’s interests."

New Yorker

[This] undercuts Trump's sometime denials in 2016 and since that he had, as he often put it, ‘nothing to do’ with Russia. In fact he was pursuing a major deal that he suggested on Thursday he might have kept pursuing through the year and might have tried to conclude if he hadn't been elected. It means Trump world already had a channel open with Moscow at the same time the Russian government was... waging a campaign of ‘active measures’ against the U.S."


Perhaps most significantly, “Putin has been in possession of crucial information about Trump’s business interests that the president deliberately hid from the American people... Trump said [in January] that the ‘closest I came to Russia’ was in selling a Palm Beach mansion to a Russian oligarch in 2008. While we’re just learning precisely how dishonest this was, Putin has known it all along. That means that throughout Trump’s campaign and presidency, Putin has had the power to plunge him into political crisis."

New York Times

Regarding the Cadillac tax, “high-premium employer-based plans raise the cost of health care for everyone by encouraging the overconsumption of expensive services. This means that even Medicare and Medicaid face higher prices. Quite aside from its benefits for the health-care market, the Cadillac tax would also have the effect of expanding the tax base and making the tax code more efficient. It would raise revenues by about $15 billion a year… Rather than killing or delaying the Cadillac tax, Democrats should be trying to make it operational. The tax would raise revenue, lower costs, increase the efficiency of the tax code and give the Obamacare individual market its best chance at success.”
Karl W. Smith, Bloomberg

“The two issues with which he is most often associated, support for a balanced budget and opposition to free trade, put him at odds with both of our major political parties. An old-fashioned, soft-spoken Southerner, he nevertheless held views on so-called ‘social issues’ that would be to the left of the mainstream of the Republican Party, both then and now. He was a fervent supporter of the Vietnam POW/MIA movement in the late '80s and early '90s, but he was not in any sense a hawk. Never mind 2003. Perot opposed the first war in Iraq in 1990… Perot's death should be mourned by all Americans who regret the fact that it is no longer possible to make reasoned, non-ideological arguments about questions of public import, and by the devolution of our political life into mindless partisan squabbling.”
Matthew Walther, The Week

From the Right

The right argues that the new revelations don’t implicate Trump in any criminal behavior.

From the Right

The right argues that the new revelations don’t implicate Trump in any criminal behavior.

“Amid the media hysteria over Cohen’s latest guilty plea, many journalists seem to have overlooked one important and immutable fact: absolutely nothing that he now says about the never-finalized Moscow real estate venture establishes an election conspiracy... A failed deal hardly constitutes a quid pro quo for Russian help to win the presidency."

Fox News

“As usual, the best posture is to avoid hyperventilating and size up the evidence as it emerges. There is still no public evidence proving a Trump-Russia campaign conspiracy... The Steele dossier was supposed to be the smoking gun, but that turned out to be a fraud. Then the famous 2016 Trump Tower meeting with Russian functionaries was supposed to be proof of collusion, but nothing more has come of that."

Wall Street Journal

Mueller is apparently determined to prove ‘collusion’ that is not criminal... The anti-Trump press then reports that (a) Mueller is investigating Trump–Russia collusion, (b) many Trump-campaign figures have been convicted, and (c) many Russians have been charged. No mention is made of the inconvenient facts that the Trump associates’ guilty pleas have nothing to do with Russia’s interference in the election and that the charges against Russians have nothing to do with the Trump campaign.”

National Review

Minority View: “There might not have been anything wrong with it, legally speaking; after all, Trump was still a private-sector businessman until Election Night. Politically, though, it looks bad, and it ties him to Russian interests that commingle with the Russian government."

Hot Air

“The concerning issue here is the possibility that Trump, in his recent written responses to Mueller, may have said the last time he and Cohen spoke of this project was in January 2016... In the event that they hadn’t thought of it and there does turn out to be a discrepancy between Trump and Cohen on dates, it would turn into a he said, she said situation... Were you lying then or are you lying now Michael Cohen?"


According to Harvard professor Alan Dershowitz, “I think the weakness of Mueller’s substantive findings are suggested by the fact that he has to resort to false statement prosecutions, which really shows that he didn’t start with very much... These are not crimes that had been committed prior to his appointment - they’re crimes that were committed as the result of his appointment...

"That raises some questions about the role of special prosecutors in creating crimes, or creating opportunities for crimes to be committed.”


“NBC and MSNBC embraced Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts in the first debate of Democratic presidential candidates Wednesday night, treating her like the star of the show. The debate led off with Warren, who had a huge popularity advantage from the start… NBC anchor Savannah Guthrie started it off sounding more like Warren’s press secretary. ‘You have many plans – free college, free child care, government health care, cancelation of student debt, new taxes, new regulations, the breakup of major corporations,’ Guthrie said, before teeing up an economy question. Guthrie even used Warren’s plan to break up tech companies as the foundation for a question for Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey… the round-robin final comments also ended with Warren, as Maddow asked her for the ‘final, final statement.’ That let NBC bookend the entire debate with Warren and Warren.”
Dan Gainor, Fox News

President Trump should be happy. As much as Warren is articulate, obviously intelligent, and energetically supported by Democrats, she would also be far easier to defeat than Joe Biden… Considering Trump's economy, the president is well placed to defeat Warren.”
Tom Rogan, Washington Examiner

A libertarian's take

“The fans who avidly followed the men’s tournament certainly weren’t doing anything wrong. And it’s hard to argue that each of them had a moral obligation to be exactly as interested in women’s soccer. Even if we could stop them from watching the men more than the women, should we?…

“It’s tempting to answer that the fan choices aren’t innocent, they’re sexist. But since we can’t peek into their hearts, to say that definitively, we’d have to assume that men’s greater speed, strength and endurance definitely make nodifference to the sport’s quality. Fair enough, but then why do fans prefer to watch Megan Rapinoe play instead of the sedentary elderly who could presumably use some exercise? Alternatively, maybe pay should be equalized precisely because biology is unfair. But that seems to be an argument for curbing the pay of all top-level athletes, who have to hit the genetic lottery just to get on the field. It might be easier to focus on the distributions across society at large, rather than every individual industry, especially when fundamental biology is in play.”
Megan McArdle, Washington Post

On the bright side...

Police seize $20K of maple syrup in high-speed chase.

Calgary Sun

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