Impeachment Week in Review: Cohen, Manafort and Omarosa

There isn’t much core impeachment news this week… it’s mostly aftermath from last week’s two major legal results: Michael Cohen’s guilty pleas to eight felony counts, and Paul Manafort’s conviction in his Virginial trial, also on eight felony counts.  A mistrial was declared for ten more felony counts in Manafort’s trial – it is reported that there was one “hold-out” juror on all of them.  At least one juror identified herself as a Trump supporter – amid today’s incredible political divisions the fact that a unanimous Jury conviction on anything was even possible must be viewed both as encouraging in itself, and as testament to how strong the government’s case was.  Although it’s not impeachment news per se, the widely anticipated death of Arizona Senator John McCain has major significance – simply as a stark demonstration that President Trump is, for practical purposes, unable to be a national unifier at times where that has been a President’s traditional role.  The bad blood between President Trump and Senator McCain has continued beyond the grave – Trump will apparently not attend the funeral, and has ignored and minimized Sen. McCain’s death in a way that many see as spiteful.  The situation is truly unprecedented.  While no legal standard is being violated, the inability – more accurately the simple refusal -- of President Trump to do “what Presidents normally do” is for many Americans much closer to the heart of why he should resign or be impeached than any Constitutional argument or theory. Meanwhile, after a week that was objectively very bad from a legal point of view, Trump’s approval rating is unchanged.   Omarosa’s new book, Unhinged: An Insider's Account of the Trump White House, was #2 for its first week on the list of 25 best non-fiction hardcover books.

Meet To Impeach Event: The next Meet To Impeach event will be at “People’s Plaza” (AKA "Government Plaza", between Minneapolis City Hall and the Hennepin County Government Center, at 4th Street and 5th Avenue) from Noon to 1 PM on Saturday, September 1st.  This will be a non-partisan, non-campaign event. It will be delayed or cancelled if there is rain. 


Impeachment talk bubbles in wake of Cohen guilty pleas and Manafort convictions                

Last week President Trump’s former attorney and long-time “fixer” Michael Cohen pled guilty to eight Federal felonies; the same day former Trump Campaign Manager Paul Manafort was also found guilty of eight Federal felonies, but a mistrial was declared for ten other counts, apparently the result of one hold-out juror.  Manafort could be retried; he also faces a second trial in Washington D.C. on other charges.  Cohen has no Federal plea agreement but has indicated he has information Special Counsel Robert Mueller may be interested in and he is willing to cooperate.  In the aftermath of those two major legal results, the Wall Street Journal published California hedge fund billionaire and founder Tom Steyer’s take on the situation.  Steyer notes about ten percent of people who have signed his impeachment petition identify as Republicans, and argues Republicans need to “save their party” by joining in the drive to impeach Trump.  After reviewing his extensive list of reasons why Trump must be impeached, Steyer concludes one of his meeting attendees “told me that while he typically votes Republican, ‘My wife and I like to say we’re not Republicans or Democrats, we’re Americans.’ They understand that the movement to impeach Mr. Trump and remove him from office isn’t partisan. It’s patriotic. After all, if it succeeds, the Oval Office will still be occupied by a Republican until at least January 2021”.  Jonathan Bernstein opines for Bloomberg that there is a kind of scale from “impeachment can be justified” to “impeachment is demanded” – Bernstein has long held it to be at least on the “justified” end of the scale, but believes the needle is moving steadily to “demand”.  Trump is taking a kind of “you’ve got a nice family, it would be a shame if anything happened” approach – telling FOX News “if I ever got impeached I think the market would crash” and “everybody would be very poor”.  BusinessInsider reports Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani says “the American people would revolt” if Trump is impeached, but adds: “I think it’s inevitable that he won’t [be impeached.]”

Senator McCain’s death is largely ignored by President Trump, White House

The NY Times reports: “The White House inexplicably flew the American flag at full-staff on Monday, after flying it at half-staff on Saturday night and Sunday in honor of Senator John McCain.  The lowering and raising of the flag amplified the division between President Trump and the longtime Republican senator, who died Saturday at 81. Mr. Trump offered his condolences on Saturday to Mr. McCain’s loved ones, but he has said nothing about Mr. McCain.  The status of the flag made the rounds on social media, fueling speculation that the height of the American flag at the White House and other federal buildings was the president’s attempt to insult Mr. McCain… Presidents often issue proclamations after significant events, like a mass shooting or the deaths of important figures, specifying that flags should fly at half-staff and for how long at federal buildings, military posts and facilities abroad, like embassies. There has not been a proclamation about Mr. McCain.”

Little known appeal could stop Mueller report

Politico reports arguments are scheduled for next month on a little-known appellate case that could affect the ability of Special Counsel Robert Mueller to release information to either the public or to Congress that was obtained through a grand jury.  The current Federal law on grand jury secrecy identifies circumstances when grand jury secrecy is set aside -- but does not appear to explicitly cover the Mueller situation.    "The law used to appoint independent counsels in the 1980s and 1990s had a provision for such a report to Congress and was the mechanism used for the 1998 report that led to the impeachment of President Bill Clinton.  However, that law expired in 1999. Mueller was appointed under Justice Department regulations that are similar to the earlier statute, but there’s no provision in those rules that ensures secret grand jury testimony can be made public, as there was under the old independent counsel law.  There are ways the D.C. Circuit panel could defuse the McKeever case without impacting Mueller. For instance, the judges could send the matter back to the district court to consider a narrowed request the author has made for the records related to his case. The appeals court panel could also say explicitly that it is not opining on potential disclosures to Congress or those regarding impeachment inquiries."

Trump approval rating remains unchanged

The Hill reports that in the wake of a very bad week – by an objective standard for legal events – President Trump’s approval rating is unchanged.  Other news sources report the same result.

Book Beat

Unhinged: An Insider's Account of the Trump White House, by Omarosa Manigault Newman, opened at #2 on the Non-fiction bestseller's list, with first week sales of 33,484.  On the other side, "Trump base" books -- The Russia Hoax: The Illicit Scheme to Clear Hillary Clinton and Frame Donald Trump, by Gregg Jarrett, and Liars, Leakers, and Liberals: The Case Against the Anti-Trump Conspiracy by Jeanine Pirro -- were at #3 and #6, with sales (week/cumulative) of 20,835/141,321 and 13,063 and 123,167 respectively.

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