Impeachment Week in Review: A Potential Game-Changer

It had been a quiet two weeks for impeachment – with no major news regarding the Mueller investigation – but the overall situation changed significantly on Monday morning, when George Stephanopoulos reported on ABC News that Michael Cohen appears ready to “flip” and “make a deal” with federal prosecutors in New York – while emphasizing Cohen has not been indicted for anything ... yet.  Stephanopoulos recounted saying to Cohen: “Wait a second Michael.  I’ve heard you say in the past you’d take a bullet for President Trump.  I’ve heard you say you’ll always be loyal.  You’ll do anything to protect him.  All he said in response, and he said this with emphasis: ‘To be crystal clear, my wife, my daughter and my son, and this country have my first loyalty.’”  Beyond that story, the announced retirement of Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy roiled the political waters – and figured at least tangentially in impeachment discussions – a NY Times op-ed questioned whether President Trump should nominate someone to a court that may rule on legal issues related to impeachment and/or pardons.   A New York Congressional primary became big news when a 28 year old first-time candidate upset a well-financed incumbent that was widely thought to be next in line as a Democratic House Speaker -- potentially an alternative to Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi next year.  News on the separation of families at the border seems to be both subsiding, and also shifting in focus to underlying issues, including whether families should be deported, and whether U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) – a part of the Department of Homeland Security -- should be reformed or abolished.  A Mexican landslide election is bringing a leftist President to power – although Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, known by his acronym-nickname AMLO, has been signaling a recognition of the need for at least some stability, there is widespread uncertainty as to what will result – he is seen as in some ways temperamentally akin to President Trump.  His win was widely anticipated, so no stock market tremors were expected to accompany the election; the Dow Jones Average in fact was up slightly.

Speculation erupts over ABC interview of President Trump’s former lawyer and fixer

ABC News journalist George Stephanopoulos reported on ABC’s Good Morning America show Monday July 2nd that Michael Cohen appears ready to “flip” and “make a deal” with federal prosecutors in New York.  Stephanopoulos offered up an extended review, including many quotes and paraphrases, of his on-the-record interview with Cohen, who was once President Trump’s lawyer, business partner, and all-around fixer.  Stephanopoulos recounted saying to Cohen: “Wait a second Michael.  I’ve heard you say in the past you’d take a bullet for President Trump.  I’ve heard you say you’ll always be loyal.  You’ll do anything to protect him.  All he said in response, and he said this with emphasis: ‘To be crystal clear, my wife, my daughter and my son, and this country have my first loyalty.’”  More recently, Cohen has changed legal representation -- his previous lawyers were subject to a working agreement with President Trump’s lawyers that will not be in effect going forward.  Cohen will be represented by New York attorney Guy Petrillo, who had been chief in the criminal division of the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York – the same office that is currently investigating Cohen – from January 2008 to October 2009.  Although Cohen has not been indicted… yet… and has not met with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team, Stephanopoulos and others speculated that Cohen may be both signaling his independence from President Trump, and generically suggesting to the world – including any prosecutors who may be listening – that he had information about President Trump to share, and he was willing to “make a deal.”  Cohen also told Stephanopoulos: “I will not be a punching bag as part of anyone’s defense strategy, I am not a villain in any story and won’t allow others to try and depict me in that way.”

Trump Impeachment advocate upsets Democratic “speaker-in-waiting” in New York City

Politico reports in the headline of an article:  "Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez says she supports impeaching Trump" -- but the first three paragraphs of their story sound a little more nuanced: “New York Democratic Congressional candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said Wednesday that she would support the impeachment of President Donald Trump if she is elected next November.  ¶The 28-year-old Ocasio-Cortez, fresh off her upset primary victory over 10-term congressman Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.) on Tuesday, said Democrats should run on policy in the upcoming midterm elections but stressed that Congress should hold the president accountable.  ¶  ‘I would support impeachment. I think that, you know, we have the grounds to do it. I think what, really, we need to focus on is making sure that we are advocating for the policies to win in November,’ she told CNN. ‘But ultimately, I think that what we need to kind of focus on is insuring that we can, you know, when people break the law, potentially break the law, that we have to hold everyone accountable and that no person is above that law.’”

U.S. Supreme Court retirement announcement triggers calls for delay in filling vacancy

The announced retirement of Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy prompted Law Professor Paul Berman to offer this impeachment-related opinionin a NY Times commentary: "People under the cloud of investigation do not get to pick the judges who may preside over their cases. By this logic, President Trump should not be permitted to appoint a new Supreme Court justice until after the special counsel investigation is over, and we know for sure whether there is evidence of wrongdoing."

“Botched” news report appears to have ended prominent broadcast journalist’s career

Page Six reports ABC News chief investigative correspondent Brian Ross is leaving ABC News:  "ABC suspended Ross last December for a month without pay for a botched report on ousted White House national security adviser Flynn that reported President Trump directed Flynn to make contact with Russian officials. The mistake even sent stocks tumbling, and ABC issued an apology saying: 'We deeply regret and apologize for the serious error.'”

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