That Was Trump’s First Tweet This Morning. And No It’s Not.
As Philip Bump in the Washington Post points out: “One type of communication that’s excluded: communications between an attorney and a client that might be predicated on committing or covering up a crime.”
And it’s also not “A TOTAL WITCH HUNT” (Trump’s 2nd Tweet today), because that implies no possibility of guilt on the part of those being investigated. Trump’s lawyer, Michael Cohen, who had several of his outposts raided by the F.B.I., has admitted to paying Stormy Daniels $130,000. Trump says he knows nothing about the payment, and never had an affair with the porn star. The Washington Post reports Cohen’s being investigated for bank fraud and campaign finance violations. Which likely means the U.S. attorney is looking into whether the money Cohen paid Daniels right before the election was an in-kind campaign contribution. If that’s the case, it would be illegal because it would vastly exceed the maximum allowable contribution. So while Cohen hasn’t yet been charged or convicted, there appears to be some “there” there.
At the same time, there is an open question of exactly what happens if investigators find additional privileged information, not directly related to the focus of the raids. They can’t exactly unsee it, but it would seem not to be usable on its own based on a whole bunch of additional rules federal investigators must follow if they are looking into the activity of someone’s attorney.
Which is why, while we first thought Trump’s diatribe on the matter before a Cabinet meeting might’ve been just a lot of bluster before letting his lawyer take the fall, now we’re not too sure. And it might be too late for that anyway.
Here’s a short clip (click on the photo to play):
And finally, one very important thing to keep in mind: despite what Trump says, the raids on his lawyer were not conducted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, because they apparently have nothing to do with the Russia investigation. (Mueller’s team was apparently the source of information). Instead they were led by the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York. However, ABC’s Jonathan Karl reports the acting U.S. Attorney in that district, Geoffrey Berman, recused himself for reasons we don’t know yet. Trump interviewed Berman personally (which caused controversy at the time) after firing Preet Bharara. He came from the same law firm as close Trump adviser Rudy Giuliani.
Trump meanwhile is cancelling a scheduled trip to South America at the end of the week. And with the Presidents of Mexico and all Central American nations attending the “Summit of the Americas”, we’d have thought Trump would really want to be at this one.
Mark Zuckerberg Probably Couldn’t Have Picked A Better Day To Testify Before Congress
Given the fact that on any other day eyes wouldn’t be looking anyplace else. Zuckerberg is appearing before a joint session of the Senate Commerce and Judiciary Committees.
We wanted to quickly call your attention to a little nugget buried in a piece about Facebook and Zuckerberg in the Atlantic: one of the main benefactors, and perhaps beneficiaries, of Facebook’s latest efforts to shape up will be none other than the Koch Brothers. How’d that happen? The Charles Koch Foundation will be one of the main players in a “steering committee” Facebook is developing to determine major research questions about Facebook, and also decide who gets grants to study those questions. To be fair, the Omidyar Foundation is also involved, which would probably make us equally apoplectic if we were radical right.