Trump Brings In Big Gun From The Clinton Impeachment Days To Shore Up Legal Team

Gone Is Affable White House Lawyer Ty Cobb


Emmet Flood clerked for Supreme Court Justice Scalia, and worked in the White House for George W. Bush. But he’s best known for representing President Bill Clinton during his impeachment proceedings before Congress. (Clinton was impeached by the House, but was not found guilty by the Senate).


Newest White House hire, attorney Emmet Flood


Here’s the rather stark way White House characterized the appointment, according to the Washington Post’s Josh Dawsey:


The Washington Post also has the best profile of Flood we can find. (Clearly, he’s kept a low profile despite being involved in several high profile cases. His Wikipedia entry, for instance, is surprisingly sparse.)

One thing to keep in mind: Flood is a White House hire, meaning he is paid by taxpayers, not Trump (or the RNC), and is not serving in the capacity of one of Trump’s personal attorneys (neither was Cobb). His main responsibility is to be the point person for communications between the White House and Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

What does this move signal for Trump’s legal strategy? For now, nothing more than it’s clearly a significant effort to strengthen the White House legal team. (And perhaps that there’s only room for one person at a time in the Trump White House with an extravagant moustache. Do a Google image search of Ty Cobb/John Bolton). That hasn’t stopped a lot of speculation from swirling: Trump’s going to get more “combative”. That seems pretty clear anyway. “The gloves may be coming off” says the Washington Post. What gloves? We’ll let you know when things start really happening. All we’ll say for now is if Trump was just going to “stay the course” he probably wouldn’t have felt compelled to make this move.



Trump Tweets In Support Of Republican Members Of Congress Who Are Trying To Impeach Rod Rosenstein


Here’s the Tweet:


He’s referring to the Justice Department denying a request by far-right Members of Congress to see the unredacted memo Rosenstein wrote authorizing the Mueller investigation and defining its scope, along with other documents. The New York Times saysMr. Rosenstein and top F.B.I. officials have come to suspect that some lawmakers were using their oversight authority to gain intelligence about that investigation so that it could be shared with the White House.”

Now why would your investigators believe these Congresspeople are simply trying to score brownie points with the White House by relaying confidential information contained in the documents directly to the President and his lawyers? Because they’ve done it before.

Of course, Trump could make the efforts of his “pet” Representatives a whole lot easier if he just fires Rosenstein, which is exactly what he’s threatening in the Tweet.

The confusing thing about this is the representation by Trump and these Representatives that it’s incumbent upon the Justice Department to fulfill all requests they get from Congress for documents regarding ongoing investigations. Not so!

In fact, the Justice Department has frequently rejected requests for documents related to ongoing investigations (although it regularly briefs Congress on investigations). “If a congressional committee is fully apprised of all details of an investigation as the investigation proceeds, there is a substantial danger that congressional pressures will influence the course of the investigation” wrote a top Justice Department official way back in 1969. (University of Texas law professor Steve Vladeck called our attention to this.)  Still true today.

The clearest and plainest explanation of what’s going on here that we were able to find is this piece from the Washington Monthly. If you’re going to read only one thing, read this.



Another Of Trump’s New Legal Hires Directly Contradicts Him On Payment To Porn Star


Former New York Mayor and Federal Prosecutor Rudy Giuliani says Trump knew about the $130,000 his lawyer, Michael Cohen gave to Stormy Daniels. And that Trump paid Cohen back. Trump and Cohen have repeatedly said Trump didn’t know (and of course Trump still denies Daniels’ accusations about an affair.)

Giuliani emphasized during the interview on Sean Hannity’s show that no campaign money was involved. And he seems to have been attempting to argue that if Trump knew about it and in fact paid it, it wasn’t  an illegal in-kind campaign contribution. That charge against Cohen was possibly on the table if the cash was transferred right before the election without Trump’s knowledge. But it might still be a violation even if Trump knew.

We think the fact Giulani’s admission catches Trump in a lie is pretty meaningless. Not only because everybody knows by now Trump lies all the time. (We’re even suspicious of a recent poll finding Trump supporters believe he tells the truth. They know he lies. We think when they say they believe he tells the truth, they mean they believe he speaks the truth. Different.) Also, as we have to keep reminding ourselves, lying to the public is not illegal. Lying to the media is not illegal. The only folks it’s really illegal for Trump to lie to would be federal investigators: like the Mueller team and the F.B.I.



Cambridge Analytica Is Shutting Down…But Is It Really?


The infamous “psychographics” company, which nearly brought Facebook to its knees (its philosophy and culture if not its stock price), is declaring itself insolvent. That’s after the company was accused of improperly harvesting data of as many as 50-million Americans through Facebook, in the service of the Trump Presidential campaign.

But, Cambridge’s best known investors, Robert Mercer’s daughters Jennifer and Rebekah, its former CEO, and current Chairman, have all already emerged at a new vaguely defined British-based data collection company, Emerdata. That according to Business Insider.

And it’s not like Cambridge Analytica had factories to shut down and inventory to unload. It was a bunch of office space, a bunch of proprietary software, and a bunch of servers that could be replicated anywhere else. As to the accessibility of user data? That may be harder to come by now. We hope.