1. Trump from Michael_Novakhov (197 sites): Lawfare – Hard National Security Choices: The Lawfare Podcast: Bonus Edition: Michael Cohen vs. the Committee with No Bull

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On Wednesday, Michael Cohen—the former executive vice president of the Trump Organization, former deputy finance chairman of the Republican National Committee, and former personal lawyer to Donald Trump—paid a visit to the House Committee on Oversight and Reform. Cohen accused the president of campaign finance violations after taking office. He alleged that he was present when Roger Stone gave Trump advance notice of the WikiLeaks dump of the hacked DNC emails. And he claimed that the president’s statements in a meeting with Jay Sekulow led Cohen to conclude that the president wanted Cohen to make false statements to Congress. So we cut out all of the bickering, all of the procedural obstructions, and all the rest of the frivolity, to bring you just the one hour of testimony you need to hear.

Lawfare – Hard National Security Choices

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1. Trump from Michael_Novakhov (197 sites): Lawfare – Hard National Security Choices: The Cohen of Silence Breaks: What to Make of Wednesday’s Testimony

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Note: Listen to a bonus edition of the Lawfare Podcast featuring Michael Cohen’s Wednesday testimony—with no bull. 

The first thing to remember about Michael Cohen’s lengthy appearance on Wednesday before the House Committee on Oversight and Reform is that it was presumably a pale shadow of the full testimony Cohen could offer. The president’s former lawyer spent Tuesday testifying behind closed doors at the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence; Sen. Susan Collins told reporters that he seemed like “a very different guy” compared to his previous appearance before the panel. And he will spend the day on Thursday at a closed hearing of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. What became public on Wednesday was just the slice of Cohen’s story that is not currently at issue in Robert Mueller’s investigation of L’Affaire Russe, the subject of separate investigation in the Southern District of New York, or of concern to the intelligence committees.

In other words, Cohen’s testimony, both written and live, is not the whole story. It may well not be the most important parts of his story. It is only the most currently presentable parts of Cohen’s story.

The second notable feature of the hearing was that it was really two hearings. One was a sometimes frustrating, sometimes incompetent, sometimes serious effort to learn what the committee could about the conduct of the man who currently serves as president of the United States. The other hearing alternated in five-minute increments with the first but was a different exercise entirely. It involved a confrontation between a man who had devoted a decade of his life to making Trump’s legal, ethical and personal problems go away—a man who once reveled in being dubbed Trump’s “fixer”—yet who now had become one of those problems, and was being confronted by a phalanx of 16 applicants for his old role.

Indeed, with the notable exception of Rep. Justin Amash, who engaged in a serious colloquy with Cohen about how Trump communicates indirect orders to his subordinates, none of the Republican members of the committee showed any serious interest in developing the factual record about the president’s conduct: not on matters related to L’Affaire Russe, not on payments to paramours, not on other corruption matters. They showed up, rather, as fixers—very much as Cohen himself would only recently have done. They were there merely to discredit the witness. And in this project they confronted a problem: It is actually hard to brand someone as a liar when he walks in, having recently pleaded guilty to any number of lies, and brands himself as a teller of untruths. There’s not much you can say about such a person that he hasn’t just said about himself.

This didn’t stop members from trying. They berated Cohen. They declared him not credible. They attacked the committee majority for having a witness who would soon go to prison for lying to Congress. And they almost entirely refused to engage the substance of what Cohen was saying. But at the end of the day, the spectacle this generated had changed very little. Cohen was saying the things he was saying; he still had the documents he had brought. And the man about whom he was talking was still of a character that lent credence to his allegations. Despite the spectacle, Cohen’s testimony revealed a lot.

Checks and Balances

The most damaging aspect of Cohen’s testimony for Trump concerned the president’s involvement in two offense patterns to which Cohen has pleaded guilty. The first of these was Trump’s involvement in the payments Cohen coordinated to Stephanie Clifford (better known as Stormy Daniels) and Karen McDougal—the matter regarding which Cohen originally pleaded guilty in the Southern District of New York on charges of campaign finance violations. Prosecutors have already alleged that Cohen “acted in coordination with and at the direction of” Trump himself in making those payments. But Cohen’s testimony provided unmistakable evidence of direct, personal involvement by Trump in the scheme—first as a presidential candidate, and perhaps most significantly, continuing months after he swore the oath of office.

Cohen testified in response to questions by Rep. Katie Hill that he received payments over the course of 2017, drawn either from Trump’s personal account or from his trust account. He promised that he could provide copies of all checks to Congress. Along with his written testimony, he included a copy of a check Trump had written him from his personal bank account reimbursing Cohen for the Daniels and McDougal payments—from August 2017, well into Trump’s presidency. He also included a check from the trust account dated to March 2017, which Cohen identified to Chairman Elijah Cummings as signed by Donald Trump, Jr. and Trump Organization Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg.

The timing of the checks is important for two reasons. The first is legal. Technically speaking, under federal election law, the balance Trump owed Cohen at any given time could constitute an ongoing illegal contribution by Cohen. Leaving aside the problem of indicting a president while he remains in office, any prosecutor seeking to bring a case against Trump would need to prove that he had “knowingly and willfully” violated the law, and that is far from clear. But it is noteworthy that the president’s potential criminal exposure in the Daniels and McDougal matter now extends beyond his time as a private citizen into his tenure as a public official.

On this note, Cohen’s opening testimony describes an exchange with Trump in the Oval Office in February 2017 in which Trump assures him that his reimbursement checks are on their way:  “They were FedExed from New York,” Cohen paraphrases him as saying, “and it takes a while for that to get through the White House system.” In other words, the president of the United States was signing those checks—made out to his personal fixer in exchange for paying off two women for their silence regarding sexual relationships with him—in the White House itself.

This points to the second reason why the timing is important. Cohen’s testimony makes clear that the president repeatedly lied to the American people and made efforts to ensure the public would not find out the truth. After signing some of those checks to Cohen in the White House, Trump told reporters on Air Force One that he knew nothing about the Daniels payment in April 2018. In an exchange with Hill, Cohen said that Trump had called him just two months earlier, in February 2018, to ensure that Cohen would tell reporters that Trump had had no knowledge or involvement in the reimbursements or Cohen’s original payments to Daniels. This systematic deception may not be a legal problem for the president, but it is a moral affront and a breach of his responsibility as the leader of the country.

 

The second area involves Cohen’s allegation that Trump indirectly encouraged him to lie to Congress about the abortive Trump Tower Moscow project—the subject of Cohen’s second guilty plea, this time to the special counsel’s office. This was the subject of the BuzzFeed News story alleging that Trump personally directed Cohen to lie to Congress about the date the Moscow project was terminated in order to hide Trump’s involvement. That story caused a fracas when Mueller’s office broke its customary silence to issue a rare statement denying unspecified aspects of the story: “BuzzFeed’s description of specific statements to the Special Counsel’s Office, and characterization of documents and testimony obtained by this office, regarding Michael Cohen’s Congressional testimony are not accurate.”

Cohen’s testimony begins to square this particular circle, claiming that Trump made his desire clear without explicitly “directing” Cohen to lie, and that Cohen followed what he took to be an instruction. In his prepared statement, Cohen says that Trump had made clear to him over months what the party line was—saying to him that there was no business in Russia even as he supervised Cohen’s efforts to build a tower there. Moreover, Cohen writes, “Mr. Trump’s personal lawyers reviewed and edited my statement to Congress about the timing of the Moscow Tower negotiations before I gave it,” referring to the August 2017 letter Cohen submitted to the House and Senate intelligence committees, which contained the false assertion that the negotiations ended in January 2016. Cohen continues, “Mr. Trump had made clear to me, through his personal statements to me that we both knew were false and through his lies to the country, that he wanted me to lie” about the duration of the Trump Tower Moscow negotiations. “And he made it clear to me because his personal attorneys reviewed my statement before I gave it to Congress.”

Speaking at the hearing, Cohen told Rep. John Sarbanes that Trump’s lawyers had access to Cohen’s statement to Congress circulated because of Cohen’s joint defense agreement with Trump, but said that he couldn’t recall the nature of the edits. He identified both Trump’s personal lawyer Jay Sekulow and Jared Kushner’s lawyer Abbe Lowell as having reviewed the statement, and told Rep. Jamie Raskin that review by the president’s team lead to changes in “how we were going to handle that message, … the length of time that the Trump Tower Moscow project stayed and remained alive.” He said he would try to provide the committee with an original draft of his statement from before the edits.

Notably, Sekulow contested Cohen’s testimony, saying in a statement that “Today’s testimony by Michael Cohen that attorneys for the President edited or changed his statement to Congress to alter the duration of the Trump Tower Moscow negotiations is completely false.”

But there’s another element of Cohen’s testimony: He also stated during questioning by Rep. Gerry Connolly that he and Sekulow met with President Trump and specifically discussed the statement and impending testimony before the House intelligence committee. What did the president say? “He wanted me to cooperate. He also wanted just to ensure by making this statement—and I said it in my testimony—there is no collusion. There is no deal. He goes, ‘It’s all a witch hunt.’”

“At the end of the day, I knew exactly what he wanted me to say,” Cohen testified.

In other words, if Cohen is telling the truth, the president encouraged his false statements both in the general sense that he articulated the lies that became the party line Cohen was meant to represent and in the more specific sense that he met with Cohen in the run-up to the statement and testimony, reiterated the false party line, and then had his attorneys review and refine Cohen’s statement to help reflect that line.

L’Affaire Russe

Cohen’s testimony also produced two other additional insights on L’Affaire Russe—one more significant than the other. The more significant one is that Cohen declared in his opening statement that Trump “knew that Roger Stone was talking with Julian Assange about a WikiLeaks drop of Democratic National Committee emails” during the summer of 2016. As Cohen wrote:

In July 2016, days before the Democratic convention, I was in Mr. Trump’s office when his secretary announced that Roger Stone was on the phone. Mr. Trump put Mr. Stone on the speakerphone. Mr. Stone told Mr. Trump that he had just gotten off the phone with Julian Assange and that Mr. Assange told Mr. Stone that, within a couple of days, there would be a massive dump of emails that would damage Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

Mr. Trump responded by stating to the effect of “wouldn’t that be great.”

This story, if true, for the first allegation that connects Trump personally to the efforts of his campaign and on the fringes of the campaign to benefit from Russia’s email theft. It has always been unclear how much Trump was personally aware during the campaign of Russian outreach: not only Roger Stone’s outreach to WikiLeaks, but also the Trump Tower meeting and foreign policy aide George Papadopoulos’s knowledge of Russian “dirt” on Hillary Clinton in the form of “thousands of emails.” There has been plenty of speculation about how much the candidate knew. Cohen told Rep. Peter Welch that he was unaware of whether Trump or Stone knew where the emails came from, although the Washington Post had reported the previous month—and the media had covered widely since—that the Russians had stolen them. But Cohen’s testimony represents a direct allegation that Trump was aware that WikiLeaks was intending to release damaging material on Clinton before that material became public and was aware of contact between his campaign hangers-on and WikiLeaks on the subject.

The timing is also noteworthy. Cohen estimated that the call took place on July 18 or 19 of 2016—which would place it just a few days before WikiLeaks released the emails hacked from the DNC on July 22. A week later, Trump would declare at a campaign event, “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing.” It is also consistent with paragraph 11 of the Roger Stone indictment, which states that “in or around June and July 2016, Stone informed senior Trump campaign officials” of his information on WikiLeaks’s plans.

It’s unclear what the legal significance would be of Cohen’s story—if any. For one thing, it would be hard to prove, being an anecdote told by a convicted liar about another person charged for lying and a person who is famously disengaged from truth. Cohen testified that there was no one else in the room during Stone’s call, though Trump’s secretary Rhona Graff allegedly patched the call through. Moreover, even if true, it’s not clear that the story involves anything illegal. After all, it’s not illegal to have advanced knowledge that WikiLeaks is planning a release of something that was previously stolen.

Unless, that is, you happen to tell a federal investigation that no such conversation took place. According to CNN several months ago, Trump said in his written answers to questions from the special counsel’s office that Roger Stone had not told him about any communications with WikiLeaks. Notably, CNN also reported that before Trump submitted his answers, Mueller requested call logs from Stone to Trump Tower—which presumably would show Stone’s call on July 17 or 18.

Whether or not it suggests criminality, the incident—if true—is narratively significant in fleshing out the picture of the Trump’s supposed knowledge of Russian outreach, and it is morally significant in that it underlines how little the highest levels of the Trump campaign cared about the provenance of the help it received. Whether it was illegal or not, it was a kind of collusion—coordination on damaging Trump’s opponent with an organization working hand in glove with a hostile intelligence service. Cohen testified that Trump had never expressed any sense that what Stone had done was wrong, nor had he suggested that they should contact the FBI in the wake of Stone’s revelations.

The final aspect of Cohen’s testimony related to L’Affaire Russe is more attenuated. He describes an incident in “early June 2016” in which Cohen saw Donald Trump, Jr. walk behind his father’s desk and tell him, “The meeting is all set.” Cohen reasons—based on Trump’s control over the campaign, Donald Trump,


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1. Trump from Michael_Novakhov (197 sites): “trump and intelligence community” – Google News: Report: Trump No Longer Demands That North Korea Be Held Accountable for Its Nuclear Program – New York Magazine

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Report: Trump No Longer Demands That North Korea Be Held Accountable for Its Nuclear Program  New York Magazine

Before the second day of the U.S.-North Korean summit in Hanoi, reports emerged that President Trump and American negotiators would no longer seek a full …

“trump and intelligence community” – Google News

1. Trump from Michael_Novakhov (197 sites)


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1. Trump from Michael_Novakhov (197 sites): Palmer Report: Donald Trump Jr screws up and admits Michael Cohen is telling the truth

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Even as Michael Cohen was incriminating Donald Trump and several other members of Team Trump today, the Republicans on the House Oversight Committee kept falling back on the same refrain: Cohen has lied under oath before, so he must be lying now. One might think Donald Trump Jr would want to seize upon this narrative, but he apparently didn’t get the memo.




During Michael Cohen’s testimony today, Donald Trump Jr kept posting one increasingly bizarre tweet after another. Junior seemed intent on humiliating Cohen over the fact that Cohen is now a broken and disgraced man who is about to start a multi-year prison sentence. But Junior was so eager to pull this off, he screwed up in the process.




At one point Donald Trump Jr retweeted these words from political analyst Garrett Graff: “Incredible to see all the hubris drained from Cohen. I’ve been personally screamed at by Cohen on the phone before and know how much bravado he once had. This is a man with nothing left, with no reason to lie or obfuscate at all. Humbling, in its way.” Wait, what?



With this retweet, Donald Trump Jr just flat out admitted that Michael Cohen has no remaining reason to lie and is therefore telling the truth. Even we didn’t think Junior could possibly be this stupid, yet here it is. We never thought the most prominent voice defending Cohen’s honesty today would end up being one of the people who would have everything to gain by accusing Cohen of lying.



The post Donald Trump Jr screws up and admits Michael Cohen is telling the truth appeared first on Palmer Report.

Palmer Report

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1. Trump from Michael_Novakhov (197 sites): “Rudy Giuliani” – Google News: Rudy Giuliani’s meltdown proves Cohen’s testimony is driving Trump’s team ‘to a point of near hysteria’: report – AlterNet

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Rudy Giuliani’s meltdown proves Cohen’s testimony is driving Trump’s team ‘to a point of near hysteria’: report  AlterNet

he bombshell testimony from longtime Donald Trump “fixer” Michael Cohen has rattled the White House and supporters of the president, The Daily Beast …

“Rudy Giuliani” – Google News

1. Trump from Michael_Novakhov (197 sites)


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1. Trump from Michael_Novakhov (197 sites): “putin won US 2016 election” – Google News: ‘Racist,’ ‘con man’: Ex-attorney Michael Cohen assails Trump before Congress – WWLTV.com

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‘Racist,’ ‘con man’: Ex-attorney Michael Cohen assails Trump before Congress  WWLTV.com

Michael Cohen likened the president to a ‘mobster’ who demanded loyalty from everyone.

“putin won US 2016 election” – Google News

1. Trump from Michael_Novakhov (197 sites)


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1. Trump from Michael_Novakhov (197 sites): “Rudy Giuliani” – Google News: Rudy Giuliani’s meltdown proves Cohen testimony ‘pushed broader Trumpworld to a point of near hysteria’: report – Raw Story

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Rudy Giuliani’s meltdown proves Cohen testimony ‘pushed broader Trumpworld to a point of near hysteria’: report  Raw Story

The bombshell testimony from longtime Donald Trump “fixer” Michael Cohen has rattled the White House and supporters of the president, The Daily Beast …

“Rudy Giuliani” – Google News

1. Trump from Michael_Novakhov (197 sites)


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1. Trump from Michael_Novakhov (197 sites): Palmer Report: The real reason today’s Michael Cohen testimony was such a disaster for Donald Trump

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If Donald Trump has been watching Michael Cohen’s live televised testimony today, it means Trump has been up all night watching it. Trump is in Vietnam right now, which is twelve time zones away from Washington DC – and the way the hearings have been going, Trump might end up deciding to just stay in Vietnam forever.




At one point Michael Cohen provided documents proving that Donald Trump, Donald Trump Jr, and Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg all signed checks reimbursing him for his crimes. At another point Cohen revealed he’d overheard Donald Trump and Roger Stone discussing their election rigging conspiracy with WikiLeaks. Then there was the just plain humiliating moment where Cohen produced documents showing that Trump was petrified about his school grades and SAT scores coming out.




But the real consequence of today’s hearings is that House Democrats have just been given a roadmap for who and what to subpoena next. They used their questions to zero in on the precise location of incriminating documents that are apparently in Trump Tower. They’ll be subpoenaed, and if Trump doesn’t comply, a judge will sign off on a raid of Trump Tower. Yes, we’re approaching that point now.



House Democrats are also now aware of the specific Team Trump attorneys who allegedly told Michael Cohen to lie to Congress. They’ll be subpoenaed to publicly testify, even as federal prosecutors presumably lean on them to cut plea deals against Donald Trump. What Cohen really did today was he broke down a whole lot of walls, allowing everyone involved to get to the treasure trove of criminal corruption that’s on the other side.



The post The real reason today’s Michael Cohen testimony was such a disaster for Donald Trump appeared first on Palmer Report.

Palmer Report

1. Trump from Michael_Novakhov (197 sites)


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1. Trump from Michael_Novakhov (197 sites): “Donald Trump” – Google News: Michael Cohen: Five things he said about Donald Trump – BBC News

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Michael Cohen: Five things he said about Donald Trump  BBC News

Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen has testified before US Congress, making some explosive claims about the president – from hacked …

“Donald Trump” – Google News

1. Trump from Michael_Novakhov (197 sites)


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“2016 Presidential Election Investigation” – Google News: Santorum: It’s not ‘out of character’ for Trump to lie about Russia because he lies ‘consistently’ | TheHill – The Hill

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Santorum: It’s not ‘out of character’ for Trump to lie about Russia because he lies ‘consistently’ | TheHill  The Hill

Former GOP Sen. Rick Santorum (Pa.) said Wednesday that President Trump’s claims about the Russia investigation shouldn’t be alarming because the …

“2016 Presidential Election Investigation” – Google News


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1. Trump from Michael_Novakhov (197 sites): “trump russian candidate” – Google News: Cohen assails Trump before Congress | Local News – Niagara Gazette

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Cohen assails Trump before Congress | Local News  Niagara Gazette

WASHINGTON — In a damning depiction of Donald Trump, the president’s former lawyer on Wednesday cast him as a racist and a con man who used his inner …

“trump russian candidate” – Google News

1. Trump from Michael_Novakhov (197 sites)


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1. Trump from Michael_Novakhov (197 sites): “Trump liar” – Google News: Donald Trump: Problem with President calling Cohen a liar – NEWS.com.au

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Donald Trump: Problem with President calling Cohen a liar  NEWS.com.au

Courts and Congress in the United States are revealing a menagerie of appalling characters as long-time associates of Donald Trump. While the President …

“Trump liar” – Google News

1. Trump from Michael_Novakhov (197 sites)


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1. Trump from Michael_Novakhov (197 sites): Donald Trump | The Guardian: Michael Cohen: key takeaways from the former Trump lawyer’s testimony

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He implied the president knew more about Russian links during the 2016 presidential race than he has admitted

Michael Cohen told the committee he had been with Donald Trump when key events in the investigation into Russia’s involvement in the 2016 election were discussed. His testimony implied that the US president was far more deeply informed about Russian links during the 2016 presidential race than he has so far admitted.

Related: Loyalty to Trump cost Michael Cohen everything. Republicans pay heed | Richard Wolffe

Related: Michael Cohen’s explosive allegations suggest danger for Trump on two fronts

Continue reading…

Donald Trump | The Guardian

1. Trump from Michael_Novakhov (197 sites)


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1. Trump from Michael_Novakhov (197 sites): Palmer Report: House Republicans go completely off the deep end after Michael Cohen mops the floor with them

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Have Republicans lost the ability to ask a question? They’ve grandstanded every time they’ve had the floor on the Michael Cohen testimony, but they don’t ask coherent questions and they don’t ask for any information that could conceivably exonerate Trump and his children.
When the law is behind you, argue the law. When the facts are behind you, argue the facts. When you have neither, attack the witness. They’re doing a good job there.




And speaking of the law, lawyers Jay Sekulow and Abbe Lowell have a lot to answer for. Cohen claimed that they briefed him on his false Congressional statements about Trump Moscow that he is now going to prison for. That’s gonna leave a mark. Another off-screen meltdown should be noted. “Mr. Cohen’s testimony is entirely untrue,” Stone wrote Wednesday in an emailed response to VICE News




Stone sent this statement in spite of the gag order issued by Judge Amy Berman Jackson last week, who said he cannot speak, “publicly about the investigation or the case or any of the participants in the investigation or the case. Period.” Somebody’s going to jail there too.



And now we learn that Michael Cohen’s other client is under investigation. Well, that would be Broidy or Hannity. Will there be enough room for all these guys in lock-up? The Republicans were all owned when Cohen said he was ashamed of protecting Trump as “you all are doing now.” This hearing is a minefield, and every Republican who steps into it gets blown up. But this is why you should never join a cult. Pass the Kool-Aid.



The post House Republicans go completely off the deep end after Michael Cohen mops the floor with them appeared first on Palmer Report.

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1. Trump from Michael_Novakhov (197 sites): Lawfare – Hard National Security Choices: Rational Security: The ‘Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire!’ Edition

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President Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen testifies to Congress. Adam Schiff signals he’s coming after all the Russia probe documents. And U.S. Cyber Command hits back at a Russian troll farm. 

Ben has beanies

Susan is talking to the FBI (Director). 

Lawfare – Hard National Security Choices

1. Trump from Michael_Novakhov (197 sites)


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“Donald Trump Jr. Wikileaks” – Google News: Michael Cohen: if Trump loses in 2020 ‘there will never be a peaceful transition of power’ – live – The Guardian

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Michael Cohen: if Trump loses in 2020 ‘there will never be a peaceful transition of power’ – live  The Guardian

President’s former lawyer testified Trump told him to say Trump had no knowledge of payments Cohen made to Daniels.

“Donald Trump Jr. Wikileaks” – Google News


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