Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls of all ages, it’s time for us to play our favorite Trump game, “Connect The Dots.” All you need to win is a modicum of common sense, the ability to read a newspaper, and a willingness to suspend disbelief, when you say to yourself and anybody else who will listen, “These f**kers can’t be that stupid!” And the voices you hear are not your own echo, but everybody else who has ever dealt with the Trumps, saying the very same thing.
Let us begin: You recall that Michael Cohen testified both before Congress and in over 16 hours of closed-door sessions, over a two-day period, in February. Transcripts of that testimony were released Monday night. Among the revelations from Politico:
Cohen said lawyer Jay Sekulow requested he falsely tell Congress that negotiations to build a Trump Tower in Moscow ended on Jan. 31, 2016, nearly six months before they actually fizzled.
Trump’s former fixer also testified during one of those closed-door sessions in February that the president was considering pardons for him and others to “shut down, you know, this investigation.”
Two big GOP-red dots to connect off the bat. One you just got, Trump was planning to pass pardons all around, like they were party favors, to his children, his lawyers, everybody in his orbit, because two, he was in serious negotiations with Russia for both the building of Trump Tower Moscow (where Vladimir Putin would receive the entire top floor penthouse apartment as a “gift”) and for dirt on Hillary Clinton — translating not as normal opposition information but as something a great deal more sinister: Russian bot infiltration of the American political process and the 2016 election. Of course Cohen was instructed to lie by Jay Sekulow, about the timing of Trump’s negotiations for the Moscow tower, because how would it look, a presidential nominee in active negotiations with a hostile foreign power, during the campaign? So Sekulow didn’t tell Trump to cease and desist, he told Cohen to lie.
The Trump Tower Moscow negotiations that Cohen testified about actually continued through June 2016, and the president’s former lawyer said he briefed Trump and his family members — including Trump Jr. — several times on the status of those negotiations. According to Cohen, Sekulow had urged him to use January 2016 in his original testimony to “stay on message,” and Cohen said he believed the Trump legal team wanted to use that date because it came before the Iowa caucuses that officially kick-started the Republican nomination fight Trump would go on to win later in the summer. […]
But Sekulow’s role didn’t end with Cohen’s congressional testimony. The two lawyers also had conversations about pardons until July 2018, Cohen testified, which is when Cohen withdrew from his joint defense agreement with Trump’s legal team. […]
Cohen said Trump and his legal team dangled pardons because they wanted to keep people in the joint defense agreement. He withdrew from that agreement, he told lawmakers, because “there was so much that was going on, that I had just decided it was time to stop with the lying, stop protecting the president.”
Simply, Cohen said that the pardons went on the table and stayed there, to keep people in the joint defense agreement, and the purpose of the joint defense agreement, in this case, went way beyond the usual and customary reasons for such a thing, convenience in sharing information. Here, it became a mechanism to protect Trump, first, last and always, by continuing to lie — and by extension, protect Junior and Jarvanka. It was a blank check for liars to say whatever was necessary, to keep all the balls in play, because no matter how outlandish things got, at the end of the day, Trump would be there with pardon pen in hand.
And here’s two more lies: Donald Junior had far more than just a “passing” knowledge about the Trump Tower meeting, as he has claimed, and his father did know about the meeting — again, contrary to what Junior has claimed. According to Cohen, anything Junior was involved in, Trump Senior was involved in, as a matter of course. Senior has been quoted as saying Junior “has the worst judgement of anyone in the world,” so Senior kept on eye on his idiot spawn from early on.
“Don Jr. would never set up any meeting of significance alone and certainly not without checking with his father,” Cohen told the House Oversight panel… explaining that prior to the meeting he overheard Trump Jr. tell his father that the meeting “had been set up.”
Cohen said the interaction between father and son was “odd” because normally Trump Jr. “would shout it from the door or he would call his father from the phone.”
Now, here’s where another giant dot gets connected: Jarvanka.
According to Cohen, two of the other attendees at the Trump Tower meeting — Manafort and Kushner — served as a sign to him of Trump’s knowledge of the Russian offer for dirt on Clinton. “This is my opinion,” Cohen explained. “The reason why Jared and Manafort were in the room at the time was because he would never let Don do that by himself.”
“This is, again, my speculation from 10 years of being around both of them,” Cohen added. “He would turn around and say, ‘Dad, I got a, I’m taking this meeting.’ OK. He doesn’t trust him. ‘Make sure Jared,’ who is the secretary of everything, along with Manafort, who was the campaign chairman at the time, ‘make sure that they’re in the room with you. Make sure they join.’”
Donald Junior wasn’t allowed to do anything more complex than go to the men’s room without his brother-in-law co-signing on it. Cohen’s interpretation of these events is plausible, and bear this in mind — if there’s one thing Jared has gone out of his way to do from the outset, it is to minimize the importance of the Trump Tower meeting. To hear him tell it, it was a big nothing-burger, and not substantial enough for an important man like him to mess with. However, something big was going on, because you may recall hearing how another attendee of the meeting, music publicist Ron Goldstone tells it: Jared was very upset. Scared spitless maybe? RawStory via Salon:
Kushner has said he was bored and confused by the meeting and left about seven minutes after it started, and about 20 minutes before other witnesses said it ended.–“The only person who made a comment before Don Jr. wrapped up the meeting was Jared Kushner who appeared to them to be very generic, very general information about this supposed illegal funding to the Democrats, Jared Kushner, who looked increasingly agitated to me, said to her, ‘I have no idea what you’re talking about, could you possibly refocus?’”–“I remember that specifically because instead of refocussing, the attorney — maybe it’s the translation issue — began from the same part that had seemingly bored him to the point of, like, what we now know texting his assistant to say, ‘Get me out of this meeting,’” Goldstone said.
“When I was at the [Republican National Committee] during the 2000 campaign, you know, we had lawyers involved who understood, you know, what the bright lines were,” Corallo said of that outreach. “You know? Like we would have known if some, you know, some hostile foreign government approached us with dirt on the on the, on the opponent we would call the FBI, but we would have known that — they didn’t know that.” He described the campaign team as “novices,” unaware of why the offer was fraught.
“We have learned from both our own investigation and public reports that the participants in the meeting misrepresented who they were and who they worked for,” Corallo’s statement said, connecting the Russian attorney to the firm Fusion GPS, which had also been involved in compiling the dossier of reports alleging collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russia. […]
“[M]y phone rings, and it’s Hope Hicks,” he said. “So, she just started laying into me. And, then she admitted that, yes, they had crafted this statement on Air Force One and that they’d handled it. You know, she said, I had the New York Times handled and I’m going — you did? You work in the White House. This is a private matter. This is not the president’s conduct of his office. This is matters to do with him as a private citizen, really, not even him. This has to do with his son, son-in-law and former campaign director. So, so I just I listened to her yell, and then I said, well, you know you’ve probably made yourself a witness in a federal criminal investigation. Way to go, young lady.”
He says that Hicks called again the next day, with Trump on the phone. No lawyers were included in the call.
“I was just very aware that without an attorney on the phone, there was no [attorney-client] privilege, not to mention the fact that there was no executive privilege, because I don’t work for the White House,” Corallo said. “They are creating risk unnecessarily. The idea that a 20-something press aide would put the president of the United States on the phone to talk about a federal criminal investigation, without his attorneys on the phone, to protect the privilege and that the president wasn’t aware of it was just astounding to me. And terrifying.”
Ignorance of even the basics of law and governance, coupled with stupidity, topped off with a dearth of common sense — Corallo nails it, it is both astounding and terrifying.
So, taking us up to present day, Trump Junior has been subpoenaed to testify, and whatever Trump lawyers haven’t jumped ship yet, are grappling with the subpoena, attempting to do damage control. Where it stands now, is that Junior will comply with the subpoena, although Lindsey Graham has advised him to “plead the Fifth” and Junior will be questioned for a limited period of time (two to four hours) on a limited number of subjects, in early June. Doubtlessly, Junior is being coached, probably as we speak, on potential questions and memorizing a response.
My sense of things at this time is that it’s more probable than not that Donald Trump Jr. and Jared Kushner will be indicted. I’m not sure about Ivanka. It would be speculation to say what crimes they will be charged with, but this much is certain: the Trump Tower meeting is the nexus where people key to Trump Senior’s relationship with Russia come together. That meeting was, in essence, a meeting of the Board of Trump Crime, Inc.
My prediction is that Trump Senior is all too happy to throw his idiot namesake son under the bus, but when it comes to daughter dearest and her hubby, that’s a bridge too far. Again, Trump courting Cohen with how loved he is, how he has friends in high places, is Trump-speak for “I need you to protect big interests of mine,” which would be Jarvanka. Jared flipping out at the Trump Tower meeting indicates there was danger to his interests as well. Hope Hicks, again, going off on Marc Corallo, doing her best to bury everything, and lying to Mueller about it is further grist for the mill. I don’t think it’s conspiracy theory to opine that the big prize that all these people are trying to protect is Jarvanka — and that includes Jarvanka.
And here’s how it will probably play out. At the end of the day, watch for Senior to lay all the blame at the feet of Junior. Just watch. These dots are getting so big that if even one of them floats off the ground a few feet, it would eclipse the sun, like those giant spaceships in “V.”