July 26, 2018

Michael Cohen Releases Tape

We're officially on Insta! Did I throw on a blazer at 5 am for all you lovely people? You bet I did!

“U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday expressed disbelief that his longtime personal lawyer Michael Cohen would have taped conversations with him, a day after an audio recording of a conversation between the two men was aired on U.S. television.” (Reuters)

See past issues

The left considers this a significant development in the ongoing saga of Trump’s unsavory dealings.

The cash vs. check “distinction is important from a public-relations perspective… From a legal perspective, the more pressing question is whether the proposed payment to McDougal... would have represented a campaign expenditure, and whether the Trump campaign was planning to disclose it.”

The New Yorker

“While some may think campaign violations are trifles, remember that Al Capone was brought down by financial crimes

tax cheating), not his underlying deeds.”

Washington Post

The fact that Allen Weisselberg, the Trump Organization’s Chief Financial Officer, is mentioned in the tape “should worry the president... If he winds up in investigators’ crosshairs for secreting payoffs, he could potentially provide much more damaging information to prosecutors than Cohen ever could about the president’s dealmaking.”

Bloomberg

“This would have been a lethal revelation for any other president, but in these maddening Trump days, it becomes just another breach of faith, protocol, custom and possibly the law to toss on top of the ever-growing mound.”

New York Times

Trump's “goal, it seems, is to put so much pressure on Tehran that it has no choice but to completely change its behavior — but he could end up leading the countries to the brink of war in the process… Now is typically the time when cooler heads prevail, but it’s unclear if there are cooler heads around… It’s hard to overstate how avoidable this situation was.”
Alex Ward, Vox

“In theory, there’s no reason why a bad businessman can’t go on to become a good president. But a commander-in-chief whose signature legislative achievement expanded tax loopholes that he himself describes as grossly unfair is pretty much a bad president, by definition.”
Eric Levitz, New York Magazine

The right dismisses the tape as irrelevant.

The right dismisses the tape as irrelevant.

“For starters, no payment from Trump to AMI was ever made. AMI ended up retaining the rights to McDougal’s story... [Moreover] There’s nothing on the tape to suggest that Trump and Cohen had discussed this with AMI before the company made a deal with McDougal.”

Hot Air

According to Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz, “There’s no crime... Lawyers and clients have those conversations all the time. I’ve had conversations like that with clients. The end result was, cash was not used. No payments were made.”

Daily Caller

“Do the tapes suggest that Trump knew about efforts to buy the rights to women alleging extramarital affairs with him, and prevent those allegations from being revealed to the public? Sure. But how many of us were buying Trump’s denials on that?

National Review

Finally, “regardless of what Trump said on this tape, it has no relevance to the special counsel investigation into possible Russian collusion. It’s just a sophomoric attempt to embarrass Trump...This should be of no concern to anyone but Melania Trump. Americans do not care who Trump may or may not have slept with in 2006.”

RedState

Some argue, “It stands to reason that if Kim is willing to starve his own people, deprive his economy of any growth, and pour billions of dollars into missile tech, he will, at some point, develop weapons America and its allies mastered decades ago. And short of an invasion or a diplomatic agreement, under the present circumstances, there is very little we can do to stop him… Taking a hardline approach—what many call the ‘big deal’—or only granting sanctions relief after full denuclearization and the end of Kim’s missile programs is completely impractical and something North Korea would never agree to… only a step-by-step process of disarming Pyongyang, where each side gets a benefit for making a concession, will work.”
Harry J. Kazianis, The American Conservative

Others posit that “the reason Kim is developing missiles that can strike Seattle or LA is that 28,000 U.S. troops are in South Korea… If we cannot persuade Pyongyang to give up its nuclear weapons in return for a lifting of sanctions, perhaps we should pull U.S. forces off the peninsula and let China deal with the possible acquisition of their own nuclear weapons by Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan…

“After an exhausting two weeks [between North Korea, Iran, Venezuela, and others], one is tempted to ask: How many quarrels, clashes and conflicts can even a superpower manage at one time? And is it not the time for the United States, preoccupied with so many crises, to begin asking, ‘Why is this our problem?’”
Pat Buchanan, Townhall

“The Democrats want to talk to Don McGahn, and maybe they will ultimately prevail in court to get his testimony, but what’s the point? McGahn talked extensively to Mueller, and surely everything remotely damaging is already in the report

“Congress has the report, and now it is up to it to decide. But it doesn’t want to. It’s too painful to admit that the Mueller report was a bust on Russia and that the obstruction material, while damaging to Trump, is hardly a slam dunk; that the public doesn’t support impeachment; that if the House goes through with it anyway, it will end with a whimper in the Senate; and that it’s better for Democrats to focus on beating Trump in 2020 than a forlorn impeachment.”
Rich Lowry, National Review

A libertarian's take

“The scoop reflects poorly on Trump, who willfully misled the public for a decade in hopes of fraudulently representing himself as a man with a Midas touch. But he could not have succeeded without the assistance of many Americans, some mercenary, others over-credulous, who helped to spread the deceit and deception, generating countless newspaper articles, magazine stories, and TV segments that misinformed the public about the publicity hound’s record in business. New evidence of his staggering losses in that decade therefore provides an apt occasion to reflect on the media’s complicity in Trump’s brazen deceit and deception… Let [this] be a lesson for today’s tabloids, gossip columnists, over-credulous or mercenary journalists, and reality-television producers.”
Conor Friedersdorf, The Atlantic

On the bright side...

Parasite in cat poop could be reducing our fear of failure, study finds.

NBC News

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