Impeachment Week in Review: From Fixer to Flipper

Former attorney and “fixer” for President Trump Michael Cohen’s decision to “flip” and turn on his former boss is the dominant impeachment story this week.   Cohen revealed in an interview he was present at a meeting where then-candidate Trump received advance information about a mid-2016 meeting involving his son, Donald Jr., former campaign chief Paul Manafort, Jared Kushner, and others with someone represented to them as able to provide incriminating information about Hillary Clinton, and as acting as part of the Russian government’s support of Trump’s candidacy.  This could result in accusations of perjury of Donald Trump Jr., contracting his sworn testimony to Congress.  Due to Cohen’s deep involvement in all of Trump’s affairs, including business relationships, covering up alleged affairs, and possible Russian collusion, the potential for Cohen to agree to a plea bargain and to supply Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation with information and testimony is seen as a major threat to the Trump Administration.  Paul Manafort’s first trial, in Virginia, starts this Tuesday, and is expected to continue for three weeks – conviction is seen as likely – Manafort, at age 69, could be looking at cooperation with Mueller as the only way to avoid spending the rest of his life in a Federal prison.

Meet To Impeach Events: MeetToImpeach.com editor Bob “Again” Carney Jr., was told by Hennepin County authorities last week that he needed a permit to display his impeachment banner at “People’s Plaza” – he is challenging that view, but did take the banner down, as shown in this video.  On Tuesday, July 31st the Hennepin County Board has an Open Forum period where members of the public can address the Board – bobagain plans to do that, informing the Board of what happened, and telling them that the First Amendment is his permit.  The next MeetToImpeach meeting will be Saturday, August 4th, from Noon to 1 PM at “People’s Plaza , (AKA "Government Plaza") is between Minneapolis City Hall and the Hennepin County Government Center, at 4th Street and 5th Avenue.  "The purpose of these meetings is to launch a bi-partisan discussion of what our Constitution actually says about Impeachment and removal from office, and to challenge some major teachings of 'Conventional Wisdom' that appear to be just plain wrong... or incomplete at best,” bobagain said.  Although Carney is also a candidate for the Republican nomination in the August 14th primary for U.S. Congress in the 5th District, which includes Minneapolis, these meetings will not be campaign events, and will be non-partisan – candidates of all parties are welcome.  MeetToImpeach has also released a new TED talk one video, where bobagain explains the basics of his new impeachment theory.

President Trump’s former attorney and “fixer” Michael Cohen “Flips” --

CNN reports: "On Tuesday night [7/24] at 9 sharp, any pretense that Michael Cohen might still be in President Donald Trump's camp ended.  That's the moment when the previously secret recording of a 2016 conversation between Trump's personal fixer and the then-presidential candidate aired on CNN's 'Cuomo Prime Time.'  Michael Cohen sent up flares, but Trump never came to help.  The recording, in which the two men discussed a potential payoff tied to allegations of an affair made by a former Playboy model named Karen McDougal, was provided to CNN by Lanny Davis, the newly hired attorney for Cohen. Davis, in an interview with Cuomo following the playing of the tape, made very clear that Cohen had now broken free of his oft-pledged total loyalty to Trump and was now looking out for himself and his own interests.  'What is this about,' Davis asked rhetorically. 'This is about honesty versus false disparagement of Michael Cohen. Why is (Trump lawyer Rudy) Giuliani out falsely disparaging Michael Cohen -- because they fear him.'  Davis isn't wrong. And the release of the tape suggests that we have now entered a new phase in the ongoing drama surrounding Cohen and Trump -- one in which the man who once pledged he would take a bullet for his boss has now turned on him amid the possibility of major criminal charges following the raid of Cohen's hotel, house and office by the FBI in April."

CNN reports: "Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's former personal attorney, claims that then-candidate Trump knew in advance about the June 2016 meeting in Trump Tower in which Russians were expected to offer his campaign dirt on Hillary Clinton, sources with knowledge tell CNN. Cohen is willing to make that assertion to special counsel Robert Mueller, the sources said.  Cohen's claim would contradict repeated denials by Trump, Donald Trump Jr., their lawyers and other administration officials who have said that the President knew nothing about the Trump Tower meeting until he was approached about it by The New York Times in July 2017.  Cohen alleges that he was present, along with several others, when Trump was informed of the Russians' offer by Trump Jr. By Cohen's account, Trump approved going ahead with the meeting with the Russians, according to sources.   To be clear, these sources said Cohen does not have evidence, such as audio recordings, to corroborate his claim, but he is willing to attest to his account."  Cohen's statements could have the greatest consequence for Donald Trump Jr., who may have testified falsely under oath about the Trump Tower meeting.

David Corn, writing for Mother Jones, reports on the significance of Michael Cohen's decision to "flip" and go after President Trump using an ancient football metaphor -- the "triple threat" man.  In football, that was a quarterback who could run, pass or kick.  According to Corn's "scouting report" Cohen -- with his knowledge of Trump's business deals, affairs, and Russian ties, could play a key adversarial role on all three of Trump's main battle fronts.  The Hill reports: “George Washington University law professor and legal expert Jonathan Turley said Monday that President Trump's former personal attorney Michael Cohen flipping could mean that the president is ‘one witness away from a potential catastrophe.’  ‘I think the Cohen development is very serious,” Turley, who is an opinion contributor at The Hill, said on MSNBC's ‘Morning Joe.’ ‘He’s one witness away from a potential catastrophe. If any of those five witnesses breaks and supports Michael Cohen, this will get real bad, real fast.’  Turley added that ‘it’s not that the meeting will establish a crime of collusion, even if what Cohen is saying is true, but what it would mean is that Donald Trump Jr. would be in serious jeopardy of a criminal charge.’"

Rod Rosenstein Impeachment is going nowhere -- TIME magazine reports: "House Speaker Paul Ryan said Thursday he does not support an effort by a group of 11 conservative lawmakers to impeach Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, the official who oversees the special counsel's Trump-Russia investigation.   At a news conference, Ryan said Rosenstein's back-and-forth with congressional Republicans over document requests doesn't rise to the level of 'high crimes and misdemeanors' that could warrant impeachment under the Constitution.  'I don't think we should be cavalier with this process or with this term,' Ryan said. He also said he is encouraged by progress on the document production.  Ryan made the comments a day after the group of House Republicans sharply escalated their months-long clash with the Justice Department by filing articles of impeachment against Rosenstein."  It appears the initiative to impeach Rosenstein is going nowhere.

First of two Paul Manafort Trials gets underway --  Harry Litman, writing for USA Today, predicts Special Counsel Robert Mueller will win a conviction in the first of two trials of Paul Manafort, President Trump's former campaign manager, undercutting President Trump's claim that his investigation is a "Witch hunt."  Although the charges in the first case don't bear directly on Trump, a conviction could put enormous pressure on Manafort.  Litman writes: "... based on the road map in the meticulous indictment, Mueller clearly has the goods. As the judge overseeing the case, T.S. Ellis, wrote, 'Given the nature of the charges against the defendant and the apparent weight of the evidence against him, (Manafort) faces the very real possibility of spending the rest of his life in prison./"   The trial starts July 31st, and is expected to take three weeks.  FOX News echoes USA Today: "Alan Dershowitz said that Special Counsel Robert Mueller is hoping that Paul Manafort will opt to testify against the president, rather than face a lengthy prison sentence. ¶Manafort faces numerous charges, including conspiracy to commit money laundering, making false statements and working as an unregistered agent of the government of Ukraine. If convicted, he faces decades in prison."

Some Republicans challenge Trump… consider impeachment -- John Nichols, writing for The Nation, reviews current Republican officeholders, including Senators Lindsey Graham and Jeff Flake, who have raised the idea of the possible need to impeach Trump.  Nichols writes: "An April PBS NewsHour/NPR/Marist poll found that 10 percent of Republicans nationwide would vote for a candidate who supports impeachment (as would 70 percent of Democrats).  A nationally-known Republican, former New Jersey governor Christine Todd Whitman, penned an op-ed piece in the Sunday Los Angeles Times that addressed her fellow Republicans with the message: 'Trump is clearly unfit to remain in office.'"  Nichols also notes the resignation of President Richard Nixon happened after prominent GOP leaders, including Arizona Sen. Barry Goldwater, the party's standard bearer four years before Nixon was first elected President, told him he needed to resign for the good of the country.

Book Beat -- Harvard Emeritus Professor Alan Dershowitz's new book, The Case Against Impeaching Trump has dropped off (at least for now) the PublishersWeekly list of top 25 hardcover non-fiction books, after a one-week run on the list.  However, Jeanine Piero, FOX news host of Justice with Judge Jeanine, has a new book out -- Liars, Leakers, and Liberals: the case against the Anti-Trump Conspiracy, and its number one on the PublishersWeekly list, with weekly sales of 34,730.

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