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Trump Is In Legal Hot Water and Big Mouth Giuliani Put Him There

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Trump Is In Legal Hot Water and Big Mouth Giuliani Put Him There

 

Matthew Woitunski / Flickr Donald Trump...
Matthew Woitunski / Flickr

It’s pretty much a coin toss to decide whether having Rudy Giuliani as one’s attorney is better than representing oneself. Donald Trump’s personal disclosure statement is due today, unless he requests an extension. Under the  Ethics in Government Act Trump has to disclose all liabilities that exceeded $10,000 at any time during calendar year 2017, even if he repaid them later that year and that would include his debt to Michael Cohen for having advanced the $130,000 to pay Stormy Daniels. Rudy’s been looking for a loophole, but unfortunately he put his foot in his mouth on Sean Hannity’s show a few weeks back when he admitted that Trump knew about the payment. USA Today:

The law comprehensively requires disclosure of “the total liabilities owed to any creditor.” The Office of Government Ethics (OGE) has explained that “nowhere in the statute or its legislative history can we find any indication that the terms ‘liabilities’ and ‘creditor’ were intended to be limited to cash loans or to be defined in a manner other than their ordinary usage.”

Both Giuliani and his client seemed to work a related angle by characterizing the president’s payments to Cohen as a “retainer.” Giuliani claimed the president started making installment payments to Cohen in early 2017 in order to reimburse the Daniels payment and other items, with the understanding that Cohen could keep any excess as “profit.”

In describing the billing arrangement this way, Giuliani might have hoped that the president could avoid the requirement to report his debt for the Daniels payment by blurring the line between that payment and any fees for Cohen’s services. (OGE once said legal fees have to be reported but, in practice, applies this requirement only when the fees are overdue.) Nevertheless, bundling the Daniels payment with Cohen’s legal fees doesn’t make that payment a legal fee. The Daniels payment remains a reportable liability regardless of the billing arrangement.

The search for loopholes might lead to the exception for campaign expenditures, which Trump does not have to include in his OGE financial disclosure report. But Giuliani foreclosed that option when he denied that the Daniels payment was campaign-related.

Now of course the sticky wicket is that by disclosing the expense this year means that he should have disclosed it last year. It also raises the obvious question of what other expenses he might have omitted. Of course Giuliani could figure out a way to justify the omission, other than Franklin Graham’s theory that it’s “nobody’s business” but that doesn’t quite fly in the real world. Just one more rock on the pile of corruption.


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SCOTUS nominee Brett Kavanaugh said he would ‘put the nail’ in independent counsel ruling

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SCOTUS nominee Brett Kavanaugh said he would ‘put the nail’ in independent counsel ruling

In a 2016 video, Judge Kavanaugh argued that he would overturn Morrison v. Olson, a Supreme Court ruling that underpins the appointment of independent counsels. The ruling largely fell out of favor after Ken Starr’s turn in the Clinton era. As FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver points out, however, Kavanaugh volunteered the example by himself, revealing something about his views on Supreme Court precedent.

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Sarah Sanders: We’re working on “bold reforms” to stop Russian election interference

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Sarah Sanders: We’re working on “bold reforms” to stop Russian election interference

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said the Trump administration is working on “bold reforms” to ensure Russian interference in US elections never happens again.

Sanders was asked if Trump sees Russian meddling in the 2016 election as “an attack on democracy.”

The President has faced continued furor over his remarks about election meddling made alongside Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday in Helsinki.

Here’s what Sanders said today:

The President thinks that we have to focus on securing our election integrity and our election systems, which is why he has spent so much time with his administration making sure that this doesn’t happen again. Let’s not forget this didn’t happen under President Trump’s watch. This happened under the Obama administration. We’re taking steps, we’re making bold reforms to try to fix this and make sure it never happens again.

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Here’s what Sarah Sanders says Trump and Putin talked about in their private meeting

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Here’s what the White House says Trump and Putin talked about in their private meeting

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders listed a number of topics that were included in President Trump’s private one-on-one meeting with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.

Sanders listed Syrian humanitarian aid, Israeli security, North Korea, denuclearization, Ukraine and the occupation of Crimea, reducing Russian and US nuclear arsenals, and “your favorite topic” Russian interference in elections.

Sanders said the meeting reflected the “beginning of the dialogue with Russia and our administration and theirs and we’re going to continue working through those things.”

Sanders also said Putin’s proposal of having Russian prosecutors question US officials, including former US ambassador to Russia Mike McFaul, arose in Trump’s meeting, but she said no agreements were reached.

“He said it was an interesting idea. He didn’t commit to anything,” Sanders said. “We’ve committed to nothing.”

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