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Mueller Questions Russian Oligarch About Cohen Payments

I've been waiting for Rudy Giulani and Donald Trump's lawyer troubles to recede from the headlines. I can't think of two people I dislike more.

Today, CNN reports Mueller's team questioned Russian Oligarch Viktor Vekselberg who heads an asset management company called the Renova Group. Vekselberg is reportedly close to Vladimir Putin and made payments to Michael Cohen after the election. According to Stormy Daniels lawyer, $500,000 in payments from a group controlled by Vekselberg were deposited into Cohen's account for his "shell business", Essential Consultants -- the same account he set up to pay Stormy Daniels, between January and August, 2017. [More...]

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Melania's "Be Best" Copies FTC Guide from Obama-Era

Melania Trump had a big to-do yesterday announcing her kids' project called "Be Best". Aside from not understanding what that means (why not "Be the Best" or "Be Your Best Self" or something that made grammatical sense) it turns out her project isn't even about empowering kids or encouraging them to strive and succeed -- it's a guide book for parents on ways to restrict their kids' online activity.

But putting all that aside, there's this: New allegations of plagiarism.

Compare Melania's 17 page pamphlet called "Talking with Kids About Being Online"to this 15 page pamphlet written in 2013, NET CETERA: Chatting with Kids About Being Online. Here is the Net Cetera web page which is still up. It's also available on another government website here, from 2014.

So Melania added a page with her photo and a handwritten note, changed the word "chatting" to "talking", and takes credit for a new program on how parents can restrict their kids internet and social media use.

Sorry, Melania, I'm not impressed. [More...]

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"We Had That Thing, You Know.

The New York Times obtained a list of the questions Robert Mueller wants to ask Donald Trump. NPR reports:

Most of the questions The Times printed focus on whether Trump may have obstructed justice or tried to frustrate the FBI's Russia investigation, including whether he asked then-FBI Director James Comey to lay off then-national security adviser Mike Flynn; leaned on others to pressure Comey; why he fired Comey and more.

I like the question about his calls to James Comey in March, 2017: [More...]

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Michael Cohen to Invoke 5th Am. in Stormy Daniels Case

Trump attorney Michael Cohen has asked the judge presiding over Stormy Daniels civil lawsuit to stay proceedings in the case because he is the subject of a criminal investigation by the FBI and Southern District of New York, as he would invoke his 5th Amendment privilege against self-incrimination. His Declaration is here.

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Does It All Come Down to Prague?

McClatchy is reporting through unnamed sources that Mueller has evidence Michael Cohen went to Prague. Cohen famously denied the allegation at the time.

Read through the McClatchy article and see what it says the import would be for Trump and Cohen if it turns out that Cohen was untruthful when he denied he went to Prague.

Also, today, Cohen dropped his defamation lawsuit against Buzzfeed.

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Trump Granted Permission to "Intervene" in Cohen's Request for Restraining Order

Here's the latest on the searches of Michael Cohen's law office, hotel room and electronic devices.

Everybody will be back in court Monday. A lawyer for Donald Trump showed up in court today seeking to intervene in the case and the request was granted.

The key takeaway is that Cohen has been under investigation by the US Attorneys office in the Southern District of New York for months for "offenses "which sound in fraud and evidence a lack of truthfulness." (Govt. Brief, Case 18-mj-03161-KMW Document 1, filed today.) The Government believes Trump is Cohen's only client.


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Di Genova (and Toensing) Not Joining Trump's Legal Team

Update: The New York Times says Trump's personal legal team on Russia is down to one lawyer, and explains why the rest left and others have turned down his overtures.

Joe DiGenova and his partner/wife Victoria Toensing won't be representing Donald Trump regarding Russia after all. They are conflicted out.

The president is disappointed that conflicts prevent Joe diGenova and Victoria Toensing from joining the president’s special counsel legal team,” Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, Jay Sekulow, said in a statement on Sunday morning. “However, those conflicts do not prevent them from assisting the president in other legal matters. The president looks forward to working with them.”

Victoria represents Mark Corallo, who was spokesman for Trump lawyer Marc Kasowitz and Trump's legal team when Trump, Hicks and others drafted a reply to the NY Times disclosure of Trump Jr.'s Russia meeting, also attended by Manafort, Kushner, Russian lawyer Natalia V. Veselnitskaya, Rob Goldstone and others. The initial media disclosure by the New York Times is here.

No one saw the conflict before this? Toensing's representation of Corallo in relation to the Russia investigation was widely publicized -- as was his reported meeting with Mueller. [More...]

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Trump's Key Lawyer Resigns

No surprise here. John Dowd has resigned as Trump's main lawyer. Who needs to look at Joe di Genova every day, let alone listen to his thoughts? If he had to bring on one of the DiGenovas, it should have been his wife, Victoria Toensing. She's the better lawyer of the pair, he's just a loud-mouth like Trump. (I spent months if not years arguing against them on Geraldo Live during the Clinton impeachment years.)

Interestingly, or not, Victoria's son Brady Toensing, also a lawyer who works with the family firm, was Vice-Chair of the local Republican party in Burlington, VT and chaired Trump's 2016 Vermont campaign. He is also the lawyer who filed the complaint to have Jane Sanders, wife of Bernie, investigated. Brady was hoping to be nominated by Trump to be U.S. Attorney. But Trump glossed over him and picked a female who has a reputation as being a crusader on opioids. Brady still is still a member of DiGeneva and Toensing. [More...]

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NY Judge Rules Trump Can be Deposed by Victims

Gloria Allred wins a round in the Summer Zervos lawsuit. The Judge cited the Paula Jones case as one authority for the proposition that a lawsuit can proceed against a sitting President.

The decision by Justice Jennifer Schecter of State Supreme Court in Manhattan paved the way for lawyers to seek depositions from several women who accused Mr. Trump of sexual harassment before he was elected and to subpoena Trump campaign records related to his female accusers.

Justice Schecter rejected Mr. Trump’s argument that a state court has no jurisdiction over a sitting president. She cited a United States Supreme Court ruling that allowed Paula Jones to bring a sexual harassment suit against President Bill Clinton.

“No one is above the law,” Justice Schecter wrote. “It is settled that the president of the United States has no immunity and is ‘subject to the laws’ for purely private acts.”

It was after that ruling that Clinton and Jones settled with no admission of wrongdoing or apology. Will Trump do the same? Would Gloria and her clients accept a settlement with no admission of wrongdoing? My view: Of course. Money usually triumphs over principle.

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Trump to Seek Harsher Penalty for Drug Crimes and Limit Pain Pill

Donald Trump wants more mandatory minimums and other increased penalties for drug crimes.

He also wants to decrease pain-pill prescriptions by one-third over the next three years and limit Medicaid's reimbursement for them.

The Trump administration said it will seek stiffer penalties against drug dealers — including the death penalty where appropriate under current law — and it wants the number of prescriptions for powerful painkillers to be cut by one-third nationwide as part of a broad effort to combat the opioid crisis.

...It also wants to tighten the number of opioid prescriptions that can be reimbursed by Medicaid as a way to curb overprescribing.

Donald Trump is not our doctor. [More...]

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Agent Andrew McCabe Fired, Reportedly Kept Memos

It's pretty cruel to fire a career FBI agent two days before his official retirement so he'd be at risk of losing his retirement, but that's Donald Trump. Jefferson Sessions did the dirty work.

The Associated Press reports McCabe kept memos of his interactions with Trump and with James Comey. The New York Times reports:

Mr. McCabe’s memos were left at the F.B.I., which means that Mr. Mueller’s investigators have access to them as they work to corroborate Mr. Comey’s account.

McCabe reportedly met with Trump three times. [More...]

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Wife of Don. Jr. Files for Divorce

Vanessa Trump, wife of Donald Jr. and mother of their five young children, has filed for divorce. Her lawyer is a New York criminal defense attorney named David Feurelson.

Ivana Trump had a very prominent criminal defense attorney, Michael Kennedy (R.I.P.) as her divorce attorney.

The split has been a long-time coming, according to the media. Vanessa allegedly doesn't like that Don. Jr. is always traveling or the constant attention due to the Trump name or his tweeting.

One article said they had hoped to stay married through Donald's occupancy of the oval office, but their differences were too great.

They obviously have a pre-nup, and apparently have worked out child custody as Vanessa filed the petition as "an uncontested proceeding" which means neither party has to appear.

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Trump Plans on More Pundit Hirings for Important Jobs

Donald Trump apparently thinks he can remake his battered image through hiring television pundits for important policy positions in his administration.

Meanwhile, Stormy Daniels says she can "describe his junk perfectly."

What a farce.

What's not a farce: Robert Mueller is subpoenaing Trump Org.'s Russia records.

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Rex Tillerson Fired

Donald Trump has fired Rex Tillerson. CIA Chief Pompeo will replace him.

Gina Haspel will be in charge of the CIA.

She reportedly ran a secret prison in Thailand in 2002 where terrorism suspects were waterboarded and subjected to other so-called enhanced interrogations.

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Trump Says He May Visit Jerusalem for Opening of US Embassy

Netanyahu is in Washington to speak at the AIPAC conference. He's in trouble at home in a few corruption cases. He and his wife were questioned this weekend in a bribery plot. At least one close member of his staff flipped and said he was in on a plot to bribe media outlets. The principal advisor accusing him is Netanyahu’s "longtime confidant, journalist turned media adviser."

Hefetz was the mover, shaker, planner and executor of their darkest desires. He can testify to all four of the “major” investigations in which Netanyahu is involved or implicated, as well as to his own pivotal role in an alleged attempt to bribe a judge with an appointment as attorney general, in exchange for a pledge not to prosecute Sara Netanyahu.

Donald Trump met with Netanyahu today at the White House. Trump said he may visit Jerusalem in May for the opening of the new U.S. embassy.

The Embassy opening pertains to a retrofit of an old building. The actual embassy that is planned is years away from being built.

Will Jared go too? Or are peace talks DOA since the Palestineans won't agree to them.

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