Saturday, December 15, 2018

Trump caught in a 'tangled web' from his 'practice to deceive'

Quote of the Day: “Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive!” – Sir Walter Scott, 1808. And our President Trump is now thoroughly entangled in a web of deceptions he has created for himself.

Weddings between members of opposing political camps are not unknown, but they are rare. For example, take James Carville and Mary Matalin, authors of Love and War, “an unprecedented relationship” Matalin calls it. Perhaps the marriage of the Conways, KelleyAnne and George, will survive their very divergent views ands public statements about President Trump. The divide there is seriously deep.

John Wagner (Washington Post) reports that George Conway calls Trump a liar on Twitter after Kellyanne Conway defends him on TV.

The sharply divergent views that White House counselor Kellyanne Conway and her husband hold of President Trump played out in public again on Thursday night, with George Conway calling Trump a liar on Twitter after his wife defended him on television.

Kellyanne Conway sparred with host Chris Cuomo during an extended segment on CNN in which she steadfastly insisted that Trump had not directed his former lawyer Michael Cohen to break the law by buying the silence of two women who say they had sexual relationships with him.

In the segment, during which Cuomo and Conway repeatedly interrupted one another, Conway sought to downplay the significance of a tape recording that suggests Trump was aware of a payment being made to former Playboy model Karen McDougal.

She also sought to explain away Trump’s comment to reporters on Air Force One in April that he was unaware of a payment to adult-film actress Stormy Daniels.

George Conway apparently didn’t come away convinced of the president’s truthfulness.

“Given that Trump has repeatedly lied about the Daniels and McDougal payments—and given that he lies about virtually everything else, to the point that his own former personal lawyer described him as a “f****ing liar”— why should we take his word over that of federal prosecutors?” Conway, a lawyer, wrote on Twitter.

George Conway, who has become a regular critic of his wife’s boss, also weighed in with an op-ed in The Washington Post that was published online Friday morning. The headline: “Trump’s claim that he didn’t violate campaign finance law is weak — and dangerous.”

In that op-ed, three very serious legal scholars assert that Trump’s claim that he didn’t violate campaign finance law is weak — and dangerous. The authors, George T. Conway III , Trevor Potter and Neal Katyal, close by saying “The bad arguments being floated in Trump’s defense are emblematic of a deterioration in respect for the rule of law in this country. The three of us have deep political differences, but we are united in the view that our country comes first and our political parties second. And chief among the values of our country is its commitment to the rule of law. No one, whether a senator or a president, should pretend America is something less.” As I noted earlier, Conway is the husband of KelleyAnne Conway - one of the WH’s talking heads. Trevor Potter, you might recall, is a former FEC chair and lawyer hired by Stephen Colbert to help set up the Colbert super PAC.

George Conway was back on Twitter on Friday morning, reacting to an interview of Cohen on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

During the interview, Cohen told host George Stephanopoulos that his past loyalty to Trump had been a mistake.

“I gave loyalty to someone who, truthfully, does not deserve loyalty,” Cohen said.

“Truer words were never spoken,” George Conway said in response.

Cohen’s testimony is just one of Trump’s accumulating legal problems, problems of his own making because of his habitual, pathological lying. At the Washington Post, Phillip Rucker and John Wagner explain why Trump’s falsehoods on hush-money payments are ‘coming home to roost’.

For months, President Trump’s spokesmen, his lawyer and his lawyer’s lawyer denied that Trump knew about payments during his 2016 campaign to buy the silence of women who alleged sexual encounters with him. The president himself claimed the same.

But after mounting evidence and fresh courthouse revelations of wrongdoing this week exposed those denials as falsehoods, Trump is shifting his tune.

The president no longer disputes that he instructed his then-personal attorney, Michael Cohen, to make the payments to former Playboy playmate Karen McDougal and adult-film star Stephanie Clifford, who goes by the stage name Stormy Daniels.

Instead, Trump sought to evade that question Thursday by saying he never told Cohen to break the law — making a narrow assertion that was itself an admission that his and his team’s earlier denials were false.

Trump is worried about the intensifying state of not only the hush-money investigation by the U.S. attorney in the Southern District of New York, but also of the Russia probe by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, according to people with knowledge of the president’s private discussions. The Wall Street Journal also reported Thursday that federal prosecutors in Manhattan have opened another investigative front by probing whether Trump’s 2017 inaugural committee misspent some of the record $107 million it raised from donations.

Joyce White Vance, who was a U.S. attorney in the Obama administration, … said the federal prosecutors who implicated Trump in the illegal payments are likely to have relied on more evidence than just Cohen’s testimony. She noted that other witnesses have been cooperating with the investigation — including, for instance, Allen Weisselberg, the Trump Organization’s former longtime chief financial officer.

“Trump should be concerned,” Vance said. “It’s not just the government saying it. It’s not just a single witness saying it. Prosecutors in the Southern District of New York, who are known for their rigor in making these assessments, have decided there’s evidence from a number of reliable sources and that they can prove it beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Trump’s credibility has been damaged by his and his team’s ever-evolving statements about the hush-money payments.

“He’s never been in a position where he can’t shuck and jive and work his way out of things,” said one Republican who works closely with the White House. “Well, it’s all coming home to roost.”

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