Russia Monitor: Tapes? Could There Really Be Tapes? Trump Lawyer May Provide Accidental Public Service

“Trump is like a magician pulling one gaudy illusion after another out of his hat, pockets and possibly bodily orifices.”

By Dan Peak
The Commoner Call (5/31/18)

Dear Fellow Readers,

Lordy, I hope there are tapes.”

— Former FBI Director James Comey, June 2017 Senate Intelligence hearing.

 And so there may be. We’ll take a look at:

  • Trump lawyer Michael Cohen’s status.
  • Trump’s ever-evolving Trump-Russia corruption self defense.
  • What works for Trump…

Let’s start with Cohen: Michael Avenatti Says Trump’s Voice Is On Cohen Tapes That Are Unprivileged: ‘This whole thing appears to stink’

Yes, there are tapes – apparently. Early headlines, reactions, even comparisons to Watergate and Nixon tapes might be overshooting the mark. Stormy Daniels’ lawyer Michael Avenatti does offer that this is not good for Cohen, but dangles the carrot of non-privileged communication between Cohen and Trump as well:

“These tapes relate directly to the conduct of the president’s right-hand attorney, relate directly to issues considering my client, attorney-client privileges that were disclosed by Mr. Cohen improperly by her prior counsel,” Avenatti explained to MSNBC host Craig Melvin. “And also, we have every reason to believe that the tapes include communications between Mr. Trump and Mr. Cohen that don’t have anything to do with the rendering of legal advice. So those are not privileged communications.”

When asked clarify if Trump is also on the tapes:

“That’s our understanding,” Avenatti replied. “My client’s voice is not on the tapes, to the best of our knowledge. My client’s attorney’s voice is on the tapes, describing communications that he had with my client, which he should have never been disclosing, because that was privileged information. This whole thing appears to stink.”

The obvious problem for Cohen and Trump is that the lawyer representing Stormy Daniels was communicating with Cohen in violation of attorney-client privilege. Is there more? And Michael Cohen, why do these tapes even exist? Buy hey, thank you Michael and we hope the reality stands up to the hype.

But there is much more related to Cohen.

Federal prosecutors poised to get more than 1 million files seized from Michael Cohen’s phones: Judge Sets Endpoint For Review Of Seized Cohen files, Rebukes Avenatti’s ‘publicity tour’.

Federal prosecutors investigating Cohen have already received “300,000 pieces of potential evidence” and are now “poised to receive on Wednesday 1 million files from three of his cellphones seized last month”.

“Cohen is being investigated for possible bank fraud, wire fraud and campaign finance violations as part of a probe looking at his efforts to suppress damaging stories about Trump just before the 2016 presidential election.

“In their initial request for a special master, Cohen’s attorneys said thousands of the seized documents might be covered by attorney-client privilege.

“But in her update Tuesday to the court, Jones noted that so far only 252 items have been flagged by Cohen’s or Trump’s attorneys as privileged. She is set to make a recommendation to the court about that material by June 4.”

An additional 292,006 items that were not designated by Cohen or Trump as privileged or highly personal were turned over to prosecutors on May 23.

Wait, as with all thing Trumpian, there’s more: FBI Is Reconstructing Shredded Documents From ‘raid’ On Michael Cohen: ‘This will not end well for the defense’

Apparently “the FBI has an “amazing” ability to reassemble shredded documents.

“During a hearing in federal district court on Wednesday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Rachel Maimin said that prosecutors would provide “the contents of a shredding machine” in coming days, according to New York Daily News court reporter Stephen Brown.”

One last piece of Cohen news is that it may be he has his former taxi business partner to thank for some of the exra special attention he’s getting: ‘Taxi King’ Gets Better Plea Deal After Raid On Trump’s Lawyer.

It turns out, there was a better deal after the feds raided Cohen’s home, office, hotel room and safe deposit box.

“Evgeny “Gene” Freidman, known as New York’s “Taxi King,” pleaded guilty last week to criminal tax fraud for failing to pay $5 million in taxes in a deal that would allow him to avoid prison time.

“The no-prison deal was a significant enhancement from an offer Freidman rejected on April 4 — just a few days before the FBI raid on Cohen — that would have included a minimum of two years and as much as six years in prison and a $1 million fine, according to transcripts of the March court proceeding. The offer included a sliding scale; if Freidman paid less than $1 million he would face more jail time. Friedman had faced as much as 25 years in prison when he was charged last year.”

One final revelation related to Cohen, special master Barbara Jones, appointed by U.S. District Judge Kimba Woods to review Cohen material seized by feds, offered this:

“Jones also reported having received additional electronic data over the past two weeks, including “data from a video recorder, two computers, and mobile storage devices” that “includes various video, electronic communications and documents as well as data typically associated with computer usage.” 

A safe prediction, we’ll be hearing more about Cohen, his sole client and material not covered by attorney-client privilege.


Trump’s ever-evolving, always morphing Trump-Russia Defense: Stick a fork in it!

Trump is like a magician pulling one gaudy illusion after another out of his hat, pockets and possibly bodily orifices. His latest LieGate/SpyGate crashed, not like a belly-flop, more like a few blubbery bounces before coming to a complete stop: GOP Rep. Trey Gowdy Contradicts Trump On ‘Informant’ Claim.

Who better than House Oversight Committee Chair Rep. Trey ‘Benghazi’ Gowdy (R-SC) stopping by Fox News to put Trump’s LieGate/SpyGate lights out.

“Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), the chairman of the House Oversight Committee, said the FBI acted appropriately when it used an informant to gather information about Donald Trump campaign advisers who allegedly had suspicious contacts linked to Russia prior to the 2016 election.

““I am even more convinced that the FBI did exactly what my fellow citizens would want them to do when they got the information they got, and that it has nothing to do with Donald Trump,” Gowdy said Tuesday during an interview on Fox News.

“Gowdy last week attended a classified DOJ briefing alongside other top lawmakers regarding the informant and the tactics the FBI had used during the 2016 campaign. The South Carolina congressman, who is retiring this year, is the first GOP lawmaker briefed on the informant to directly rebut Trump and his allies regarding the surveillance claims.” 

That’s right, after all the work by House Intelligence Committee Chair Devin Nunes (R-CA) to construct yet another exoneration of Trump, we can stick a fork in it.

Gowdy is right, the FBI informant was not targeting Trump directly, he had to get in at least one partisan shot by blaming the Democrats for not specifying, “this had nothing to do with Donald Trump”.

Odd, I don’t remember any Democrats involved in concocting the story at all. Clever.

They’ll all be back. For Nunes, there’s $’s in these fact-free fantasies.  These days he’s racing Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani for his slice of attention. Wouldn’t you know, a guy finds a good gig and some other grifter tries to steal his street corner.

Meanwhile, as the Washington Post reports, Trump tries another line of attack: Trump Says Investigation Of 2016 Election Interference is Now Interfering With 2018 Elections.

Imagine, Trump leveling an accusation without evidence:

“President Trump on Tuesday accused prosecutors working on the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election of planning to meddle in this year’s midterm elections, escalating his attack on the probe while offering no evidence to back up his assertion.”

So here’s Trump suggesting the investigation of Trump-Russia corruption influencing the election in Trump’s favor is meant to influence the election in favor of – the opposition party. To be more clear, it’s an investigation of whether Trump and his campaign played an active role with Russian interference, led by a Republican special counsel, appointed by a Republican Deputy Attorney General in place of a Republican Attorney General who saw fit to recuse himself from all things Trump-Russia. For logic, it’s consistent with Trump’s prior attitude of “you didn’t do enough to stop me”.


What works for Trump….

While we give Trump credit for enabling anti-Democrat, anti-women, racist, homophobic, islamaphobic, anti-semitic and anti-journalist acts of violence, vandalism and threats, it’s not a political technique that seems to work as well for anyone else. Though many try. He’s one such failed mimic from the great “Show Me (The Corruption)” state of Missouri: How Long Can Eric Greitens Hold On?

The subhead summarizes Greitens’ efforts: The Missouri governor is trying Trumpian tactics to defuse a scandal, but a new report adds sexual violence to the list of allegations against him and has top Republicans calling for his resignation.

Greitens didn’t last long, some weeks after the above article was released, Greitens resigned. But it’s the Trump ‘playbook’ we’re after here: Eric Greitens Used Trump’s Playbook To Try To Beat Scandal, But It Didn’t Work.

Greitens asserts he broke no law and “this is all a witch hunt”. Sound familiar? He too even went so far as to claim to be the victim:

“Greitens just demonstrated the limitations of the Trump playbook — the first rule of which is to fight allegations fiercely — for anyone not named Trump.

“”Actually, even in admitting defeat, Greitens refused to admit defeat.

“This ordeal has been designed to cause an incredible amount of strain on my family; millions of dollars of mounting legal bills, endless personal attacks designed to cause maximum damage to family and friends,” Greitens said Tuesday.”

We’ll use one final report from The Atlantic to paint the fuller picture of Greitens’ self-defense: The Final Fall Of Eric Greitens.

Another page from Trump’s playbook:

“Greitens was also one of several high-profile politicians to be accused of sexual misconduct in the current wave. He largely followed the combative playbookdrawn up by President Trump, who has also been accused of harassment by at least 19 women. Trump has so far survived; Greitens did not. Nonetheless, Greitens kept to his combative tone as he resigned on Tuesday, invoking his military pedigree just as he has throughout his short and eventual political career, sometimes to the point of absurdity.”

That last link points to a video stating Greitens is under attack by “Obama’s Democrat machine” and will fight back. In a campaign ad he is shown manning a combat machine gun for 30 seconds of heavy breathing gun porn. Check it out here.

Greitens – saving Missourians from the enemy – no, not Russians…

Trump’s playbook didn’t work for Greitens and didn’t work for Rosanne – this time.


We’ll wrap up. Credit to Greitens – his political message was easy to understand. His moral compass was his problem. That and his party decided he was a liability.

Greitens resigned rather than face impeachment. How might that play out for Trump? We’ll use this video from MSNBC to offer a view of the path forward: Mueller may Release Multiple Reports On Trump, Obstruction & Russian Interference.

Ari Melber for MSNBC clarifies that Mueller’s role is not to look for something bad on Trump, it’s to find out what happened with Russian meddling. That’s worth noting.

Much of the initial discussion relates to a possible Mueller strategy of offering multiple reports starting with a report on Trump obstruction of justice, if any.

At about the 3:30-mark the panel suggests it’s likely Deputy Attorney General would release a report from Mueller, we raised this question in the last Russia Monitor. Sadly, our ability to comprehend what happened could be limited by redactions of actions by the Grand Jury.

Just after the 5-minute mark there is a theory offered that there won’t be a report on Trump-Russia collusion, but some people, not likely the president, will be indicted. Melber underscores the seriousness of this by noting, “some people indicted, probably not the president” – yes, we are at that point in our history.

A prediction of what this would look like – fewer indictments (than to date), but of more consequence.

The second half of the video, from about the 8-minute mark, demonstrates the shift in the Trump playbook and the attacks on Mueller, watch TV-lawyer Giuliani attack at the 9:40-minute mark.

To come full circle – the Trump defense strategy early was containment – Trump wasn’t feeling personally at risk. But with the feds raid of Cohen’s residence and office, Trump is now vulnerable. Trump is now on the defensive and is using Giuliani to spin in absence of facts taking advantage of Mueller’s inability to argue any possible case in public in advance. To Trump, this is now personal and that’s reflected in the attacks.

A lot about this is now about Cohen. Trump is concerned.

But hold on! Why should Trump and his kids be the only one’s to profit off this mess?

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Like they say on wall Street: This is a real growth opportunity..