Friday, July 27, 2018

How Cohen links to the Russia scandal. Plus: Avenatti and Shera Bechard...?

They call him Flipper...Flipper...

If Cohen flips, we'll learn about much more than pay-offs to women. Last May, a big story broke which nearly everyone has now forgotten: The tale of Russian billionaire Viktor Vekselberg, who, we are told, funneled at least half-a-million dollars into Cohen's "on paper" company, Essential Consultants.

Vekselberg has already had to explain himself to the FBI. See here:
Vekselberg, who made his fortune in oil and gas after the collapse of the Soviet Union and who sometimes meets Putin privately, wanted Trump to win the election as much as Putin did. He attended Trump’s inauguration, and his business associates and family donated heavily to the Trump campaign and to the Republican National Committee.
Mueller’s investigators want to know why the President’s personal lawyer was accepting money from a company linked to a friend of Putin’s, and why that money was paid into the same bank account used to pay hush money to a porn star alleging an affair with Trump. Is there a link between Russia, Daniels and Cohen that will eventually lead Mueller to the President?
Heretofore, we have considered the Mueller/Russia probe separately from the Stormy/Shera/Karen saga. But the two tales will soon become "as one." In fact, they've already made the beast with two backs.

Speaking of Shera Bechard:
Avenatti claims that he now represents (or will soon represent) three additional women who received a pay-off from Team Trump, and that one of these woman was pregnant. Did the pregnant woman bring the child to term? Avenatti does not say. Is that woman Shera Bechard? Avenatti does not say.

Avenatti has previously toyed with the theory that Trump fathered Bechard's child. More than once, he has associated himself in public with that idea. Thus, if he's representing some other woman who got pregnant, he should  come right out and say "I'm not representing Shera Bechard."

Yet nothing like that statement appears in his Twitter feed. I don't want to jump to conclusions, but some conclusions are just begging to be jumped. If the obvious scenario is wrong-headed, why won't Avenatti just say so?

Shera herself has not tweeted in days.

(By the way: If you skim the Twitter conversation at the other end of that link, you will see that one Avenatti reader compared Trump to Jim Jones. Another reader asked: "Who is Jim Jones?" God, I feel old. Does anyone out there know who Flipper was? Should I have begun this post differently?)

I note a pattern. It is rumored that Cohen broke with Trump because Trump did not find a way to pay Cohen's legal fees. Shera stopped receiving her payments and now...well, I am guessing that she has formulated some sort of plan, a plan which may or may not involve Avenatti. It appears that Essential Consultants took money from a Russian oligarch (perhaps more than one?) because Donald Trump didn't want to use his own funds to pay off his "penis debt."

Will this presidency end because Trump, an alleged billionaire, was Charlie Cheap?

Why the leaks? In the preceding post, I shouted a question that everyone wants to shout: Who the hell is leaking this stuff? What the hell is going on? Harvard Law School Professor Alex Whiting has a theory, which I will translate from Twitterese into normal prose:
If the Cohen-Trump tape and the story that Cohen says Trump knew about Trump tower meeting in advance are coming from Cohen, one question is, why? Why is he releasing this information publicly?

One possibility is that Cohen is publicly trying to get a better deal from federal prosecutors in Manhattan and Mueller’s team. T plea/cooperation deal would require Cohen to plead guilty to crimes he committed, cooperate fully, and then get a benefit at sentencing.

First step to getting to that deal would be for Cohen to sit down for a proffer, during which he would tell the prosecutors everything he knows so that they can assess if worth making a deal. The problem is that once a potential gives a proffer it becomes very difficult not to plead guilty because the terms of the proffer typically protect the potential defendant from direct use of the proffer statements but allow prosecutors to use statements if defendant testifies differently at trial.

The upshot is that potential defendants who proffer usually are boxed in to pleading guilty. In other words, you usually don’t proffer unless you are prepared to plead guilty. In this case, Cohen may be hoping to get a better deal than the standard plea/cooperation deal.

He might be trying to persuade the prosecutors to make commitments on charges or sentencing before he proffers and boxes himself him. One way to do that would be to dangle some tantalizing pieces of information to show prosecutors some of what he has.

Why do that publicly? Right now he is dealing with the federal prosecutors in Manhattan, but by offering a public preview, he knows he is also reaching Mueller’s team. Also, he might think that offering the information publicly shows his commitment and break from Trump and he might think it will increase pressure on the prosecutors to cut a deal with Cohen because they will want to bring Cohen back under control. What might Cohen want...?

Cohen might be hoping to get few charges brought, a commitment of little or no jail time, or even complete immunity. None of these would be typical, and so Cohen hoping to entice prosecutors with his information.

In sum, if Cohen’s side is doing the leaking, then it could very well be a gambit to persuade federal prosecutors and Mueller’s team to give him a better deal. It’s a risky gambit because prosecutors do not like to make commitments up front and they don’t like witnesses who use the public forum in this way. Moreover, the prosecutors will now see that since Cohen has broken from Trump, he has nowhere else to go and so his cooperation is likely inevitable.
The problem is that Cohen's attorney, Lanny Davis, has stated that he did not leak the Trump Tower material.

Blame Bill and Hill. Trump's supporters are now trying to blame Cohen's flippage on Those Evil Clintons. Lanny Davis worked for Bill Clinton; therefore, this is all one huge Clinton Conspiracy. All such theories are founded on the absurd presumption that the Illuminati (or the Deep State or the Freemasons or whatever) forced Cohen to hire Lanny. Even the Conspiratard-in-Chief tweeted "Gee, I wonder if they helped him make the choice!" (By "they" he means the Clintons.)

Not only do I see a lack of proof, I don't even see a comprehensible theory here. Some conpsiracy theories lack evidence but make a kind of internal sense. This ain't that. This is just vague bullshit.

Cohen chose Davis because Cohen was in serious trouble with the New York authorities and he finally got sick of Trump treating him like fecal matter. Simple as that. Unfortunately, whenever the name "Clinton" is mentioned, much of the American public no longer requires proof or logic or even an intelligible story.

We have allowed the Republicans to transform the Clintons -- perhaps the closest thing to an innocent political force this country has known during the past forty years (relatively speaking) -- into a kind of flypaper for fear and a lint-trap for paranoia. I have often opposed Bill and Hillary for any number of policy reasons -- reasonable reasons. But those disagreements must not blind us to the larger problem: The disease of inchoate Anti-Clintonism has done incalculable damage to this nation.

There is more evidence for the existence of freakin' Dogman than there is for the existence of the Clinton Menace, as imagined by the right.

Finally: You do realize that none of the above really matters, right? RIGHT?

This just in: The Secret Service hides the visitor logs at the White House. Moreover, there is no official record listing the people met by Trump at Mar-A-Lago. Trump can meet with Russians, with his old pal Jeffrey Epstein, with lobbyists, with mobsters, with...anyone. We'll never know.

This would never have been tolerated under Dubya or Obama.

I've heard it stated that Trump kept a copy of Mein Kampf by his bedside. Actually it was a collection of Hitler's speeches titled; "My New Order". Big difference. Donald wasn't focusing on Adolph's philosophy. Trump was studying Hitler's techniques of audience persuasion.

Well, I never said it was "Mein Kampf," although that claim is frequently heard. Decades ago, I read chunks of "My New Order," which I found on the shelves at the CSUN library. (It's an easier read than "Mein Kampf," which is deadly dull.) Only Trump can say what he hoped to get out of the book. As I recall, most of the speeches aren't about philosophy per se but the political issues of the day.

Incidentally, I recall reading that the title "My New Order" was bestowed on the book by a foreign publisher. Some rightwingers have spread the myth that Hitler titled the book "My New World Order." You know how those right-wing conspiratards are: They always have to work in some reference to their beloved NWO -- which is, of course, purely mythical.

By the way, Germans spell the name "Adolf" with an F. English-speakers use the PH spelling.

There's an old story that the stage magician Hanussen taught Adolf Hitler how to speak in a compelling fashion. I'm not sure if any historian on the level of, say, John Toland has ever confirmed that claim.

JH Norton picked up an interesting piece from NPR that sheds light upon Trump's strange behavior. As his world falls apart under his feet, Donald seems to frantically double down on his lies to such an extent that it appears he actually believes his own bullshit. Well he does!

The church pastor of Trump's youth wrote the book, "The Power of Positive Thinking." Donald grew up listening to sermons telling him that if he believes something intensely enough, reality will actually change to make it true. Trump truly believes he can bullshit his way out of this mess. If he does go down, he'll be ranting that, "this isn't happening", while they lead him away in cuffs.
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