Thursday, December 13, 2018

Fox News vs. stubborn facts - what Cohen's sentencing means for the Trump clan

An h/t to AZBlueMeanie for noting that “Even FAUX News aka Trump TV was forced to confront this stark reality:” Fox News’ Judge Napolitano: We Now Know Trump ‘Committed a Felony’.

This is from the Daily Beast report. The judicial analyst pulled no punches in characterizing the president’s actions on Fox News.

If you were watching Fox News when the Michael Cohen sentence came down, you would be pretty sure this was bad news for Donald Trump’s former fixer. Less clear was what it meant for the president himself.

For clarity on that, you would have had to wait a couple of hours until anchor Shepard Smith invited the reliably frank Judge Andrew Napolitano on his afternoon news hour to explain just how bad the day’s news was for Trump.

“We’ve learned that federal prosecutors here in New York City, not Bob Mueller and his team in Washington, D.C., career prosecutors here in New York City, have evidence that the president of the United States committed a felony by ordering and paying Michael Cohen to break the law,” the judicial analyst said. “How do we know that? They told that to a federal judge.”

“Under the rules, they can’t tell that to a federal judge unless they actually have that hardcore evidence,” he continued. “Under the rules, they can’t tell that to a federal judge unless they intend to do something with that evidence.”

Now those same federal prosecutors have entered into an agreement with AMI, the National Enquirer’s parent company, “which ties a bow on all of this,” Napolitano added, “which connects the dots between the payments to the two women who claim they had intimate relationships with the president, and the line running through all of that is the president himself.”

"Prosecutors have told us through these filings that they have evidence that the president committed a felony?” Smith asked his guest.

“The felony is paying Michael Cohen to commit a felony,” Napolitano concluded. “It’s pretty basic.”

Following the money led Rachel Maddow last night to the Trump Organization and those within it who are authorized to sign checks. Cohen has flipped as, to some extent, so has CFO Allen Weisselberg. That leaves … well, play the clip from last night.

Judd Legum at weighs in by explaining How to indict Trump.

Michael Cohen, President Trump’s longtime personal attorney and “fixer,” was sentenced to three years in prison on Wednesday for tax evasion, campaign finance violations and lying to Congress. The federal judge, William Pauley, also imposed nearly $2 million in forfeitures, restitution, and fines.

Pauley said that Cohen’s crimes inflicted “insidious harm to our democratic institutions.”

It was a lousy day for Cohen. But things could get even worse for Trump.

Cohen pled guilty to campaign finance violations as a result of secretly funneling over $100,000 each to two women, Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, who say they had affairs with Trump. The purpose of these payments, Cohen admitted, was to protect Trump’s prospects in the 2016 election.

Pauley noted that Cohen committed these crimes in “coordination with and the direction of Individual–1,” who prosecutors have made clear is Trump.

In other words, Cohen was the puppet. Trump was the puppeteer.

So the central thing is the admission that the payments were made in order to influence the election. That also is at the heart of the prosecutors’ deal with AMI.

One worrying sign for Trump: Michael Cohen’s prosecution has ended, but prosecutors from the Southern District of New York continue to build their case. Today, prosecutors announced they had formalized a deal with AMI, the parent company of the National Enquirer, which was used by Cohen and Trump to pay off Karen McDougal.

Under the deal, AMI will not be prosecuted in return for its cooperation.

The Office also announced today that it has previously reached a non-prosecution agreement with AMI, in connection with AMI’s role in making the above-described $150,000 payment before the 2016 presidential election. As part of the agreement, AMI admitted that it made the $150,000 payment in concert with a candidate’s presidential campaign, and in order to ensure that the woman did not publicize damaging allegations about the candidate before the 2016 presidential election. AMI further admitted that its principal purpose in making the payment was to suppress the woman’s story so as to prevent it from influencing the election.

The last part of the statement is critical.

… Cohen said as part of his guilty plea that the purpose of the payments was to influence the election. Now, prosecutors have AMI, which also played a key role, admitting that influencing the 2016 election was the primary purpose of the payment, which was made “in concert” with Trump’s campaign. That makes Trump’s ability to defend himself against potential charges much more difficult.

David Pecker, the CEO of AMI and a close friend of Trump’s, also has an immunity deal with federal prosecutors. Another person with potentially relevant information, former Trump Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisenberg (sic), has a cooperation agreement as well.

Not so for Trump and his progeny. That lays open to investigation the Trump Organization and its officers.

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