Trump Impeachment: A Week in Review

Minneapolis 4/9/18 Edition –  As this week’s edition is being wrapped up, some BREAKING NEWS has come in that appears at least related to the Mueller Investigation: the Manhattan FBI office obtained a search warrant, and raided the office of President Trump’s long-time attorney Michael Cohen, reportedly seizing documents and records including communications between Cohen and President Trump.  Those communications require a special FBI procedure, because they are covered by attorney-client privilege.  In another significant Muller Investigation development, Congressional testimony of Erik Prince, Blackwater founder, major Trump supporter and brother of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, has been called into question regarding a January 11, 2017 meeting he had with a Russian financier having close ties with President Vladimir Putin in the Seychelles, a nation of 115 islands in the Indian Ocean.  It appears some aspects of the meeting were not disclosed by Prince in his testimony; meeting goals reportedly included discussing foreign policy, and establishing a “back channel” line of communication with the Russian government.  In a recent chemical attack, the Syrian Government has reportedly killed dozens of people; Sen. John McCain criticized Trump’s recent handling of the Syrian situation, implying that his strong signals that the U.S. would soon pull out may have emboldened and encouraged Syrian President Bashar Assad to launch the attack.  President Trump is reported to be considering retaliation.  A new Congressional Budget Office analysis, factoring in the recent $1.5 trillion tax reduction bill and a budget with massive across-the-board spending increases recently passed by Congress and signed by President Trump, shows annual federal deficits of $1 trillion or more stretching far into the future, even with the current strong performance of the economy.  Should America and/or the world hit another major economic downturn similar to the “Great Recession” that hit in 2008, the deficits would doubtless be even higher.  Today’s Dow Jones chart shows a rise of over 300 points to 23,360, before a drop of about the same amount as news of the FBI’s raid of Cohen’s office hit.  Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg is scheduled to testify before Congress Tuesday and Wednesday, in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

Mueller Investigation / Psy Ops / Facebook / Stock Markets  

BREAKING – MULTIPLE SOURCES – The FBI has raided the office of President Trump’s longtime attorney, Michael Cohen, and has seized records relating to multiple topics.  The Manhattan FBI office is reported to have obtained a search warrant after receiving a referral from Special Counsel Robert Mueller, but it is unclear if or how the raid is related to Mueller’s investigation.  Seized records are reported to have included communications between Cohen and Trump, which must be given special treatment from the FBI since that involves attorney-client privilege.

ABC News reports there may be more to a meeting between Blackwater founder and major Trump supporter Erik Prince and Russian sovereign wealth fund CEO Kirill Dmitriev, a financier with close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.  The two met January 11, 2017 in the Seychelles, a 115 island country in the Indian Ocean.  Although Prince testified to Congress that meeting was a casual encounter over a beer, suggested by people from the United Arab Emirates he had gone to meet, businessman George Nader, a Mueller witness with limited immunity, is reported to have said he met with Prince a week before Prince's trip to the Seychelles, arranged the meeting with Dimitriev, was at the meeting, and provided Prince with background information on Dimitriev before the trip.  Prince's sister, Betsy DeVos, is President Trump's Secretary of Education.  ABC reports Nader said a primary goal of the meeting was to "discuss foreign policy and to establish a line of communication between the Russian government and the incoming Trump administration."  Prince did not mention Nader in his Congressional testimony.

Politico's Bill Scher opines if Special Counsel "Mueller believes that Trump needs to be held accountable for any violation of law, he cannot expect Congress to do the accounting. There is only one mechanism that has any chance of working, and it is not impeachment. It’s indictment."  Scher notes that Mueller has reportedly informed President Trump's lawyers that Trump is a "subject," not a "target" of the investigation.  However, it appears unclear whether President Trump could be a target, given a current Justice Department policy that Presidents cannot be criminally indicted while in office.  Scher suggests Muller could challenge that policy, and could potentially indict President Trump, including according to scenarios that would postpone any trial until he is out of office.

Bloomberg offers an analysis of problems with President Trump's legal defense team as the Mueller Investigation continues.  With the departure of John Dowd, who had experience in high-profile criminal investigation, the team lacks a top-notch lawyer with criminal defense experience and knowledge.  A number of such lawyers have demurred, or declined to work for President Trump; Bloomberg identified issues including: potential damage to reputation; Trump's history of sometimes not paying people; and his history of being a difficult client, known to ignore legal advice.

The three-month view on Google's Facebook Chart shows the stock is still significantly down from its trading range before the impact of the Cambridge Analytica scandal began to take its toll.  Facebook's Chairman and largest shareholder, Mark Zuckerberg, will testify to Congress Tuesday and Wednesday of this week -- some are now calling for him to be replaced as Chairman.

2018 Impeachment prospects/impact; Syrian policy risks; Trump Affairs

The NY Times offers up an analysis showing Republicans are beginning to see the potential impeachment of President Trump by a Democratic House majority after the 2018 mid-term election as an opportunity to rally and energize their base, producing the high voter turnout they need to maintain their majority in the House.  Republicans are already beginning to cast impeachment as a kind of Coup, reversing or undoing the 2016 Presidential election.  Of course, this argument loses sight of the fact that America's Constitutional choice today is not Trump or Clinton.  If President Trump either resigns or is impeached and removed from office, Vice President Pence becomes the President – not Hillary Clinton. 

The Washington Post has reported: "In a statement Sunday afternoon, [Sen. John] McCain indirectly blamed Trump for the chemical weapons attack in Syria, suggesting Trump's recent comments about leaving Syria 'very soon' and his non-interventionist approach have 'emboldened' Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.  'President Trump last week signaled to the world that the United States would prematurely withdraw from Syria,' McCain said. 'Bashar Assad and his Russian and Iranian backers have heard him, and emboldened by American inaction, Assad has reportedly launched another chemical attack against innocent men, women and children, this time in Douma.'"  While Conventional Wisdom does not embrace foreign policy incompetence as a directly impeachable offense, most Americans take such incompetence seriously - especially when they conclude the danger is increasing of one or more avoidable wars, potentially involving nuclear or chemical weapons.

Michael Avenatti, the attorney for porn star Stormy Daniels, plans to release a composite sketch of the man Daniels claims threatened her in a Las Vegas parking lot in 2011 if she didn't keep quiet about her affair with Trump.  Avenatti has announced a "substantial monetary reward" for help identifying him.

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