In 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt said that December 7 was a “date which will live in infamy.” Seventy-seven years later, it became infamous again. But the Pearl Harbor Day bombs of 2018 overshadowed an important new twist in the larger Trump-Russia conspiracy against the United States. It involves what became a favorite Trump campaign lie about Hillary Clinton.
And Russia helped Trump promote it.
The latest revelations about the Trump-Russia conspiracy to create and disseminate a false narrative around Hillary Clinton’s health became lost in last week’s sensational court filings relating to Mike Flynn, Michael Cohen, and Paul Manafort. So let’s start this week’s post by shining a spotlight on the “Hillary’s Health” smoking gun. Then we’ll get to Mueller’s Pearl Harbor Day 2018 and Trump’s newest problems arising from the separate federal prosecution of Cohen in Manhattan.
The Hillary Clinton Health Conspiracy
How did lies about Hillary Clinton’s health become a central feature of Trump’s campaign?
Here are the links in the chain behind that falsehood, which hit the stage in early August 2016:
WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange (custodian of emails that Russian Intelligence hacked) and RT (Russia’s state-owned television propaganda network) –> Jerome Corsi (Roger Stone’s associate) –> Roger Stone (Trump confidant) –> Trump (GOP presidential nominee) –> RT (media amplifier) –> Russian Intelligence (social media amplifier)
Go to the Trump-Russia Timeline, click on Julian Assange and Roger Stone, and pay particular attention to events beginning in June 2016. Many of them became public only last week:
JUNE 4, 8, 10, 17, 23, 2016: Representatives of Russia’s state-owned television propaganda network, RT, visit Julian Assange at the Ecuadorian embassy in London where he is living in exile.
JULY 25: Roger Stone tells Jerome Corsi to get from WikiLeaks the emails that the Russians had hacked.
AUG. 2: Assange tells RT that WikiLeaks will release Clinton Foundation emails soon.
AUG. 2: Corsi informs Stone that WikiLeaks plans to release the hacked emails. Corsi also suggests that the Trump campaign should attack Clinton’s health.
AUG. 3: Stone speaks with Trump.
AUG. 4: Stone says that he “dined with Assange last night” and “devastating” WikiLeaks documents aimed at Clinton are coming soon.
AUG. 5: Stone tweets that Assange is a hero.
AUG. 8: Stone boasts that he has communicated with Assange.
AUG. 8: RT publishes a false story about Clinton’s health. The same day, Russian Intelligence operatives post the first of almost 500 tweets or retweets featuring the hashtag #HillarysHealth.
AUG. 8-11: Sean Hannity devotes an entire week to the bogus issue of Clinton’s health.
AUG. 15: Trump attacks Clinton’s health.
AUG. 30: RT itself begins using the hashtag #HillarysHealth in tweets to promote its articles on Clinton’s condition.
And so on and so on and so on…
When multiple pieces of evidence point in the same direction to yet another dimension of the Trump-Russia conspiracy to elect a US president, Trump’s defenders dismiss them as coincidences. But without any evidence at all, those same defenders claim that Trump — the clear beneficiary of Russia’s assistance — is the victim of a conspiracy against him, led by….Trump’s Justice Department, career federal servants, and lifelong Republicans, including Robert Mueller and Rod Rosenstein.
Here’s an idea: Let’s agree on a definition of conspiracy. Then let’s apply that definition in an even-handed way to the evidence in the Trump-Russia scandal. The only prerequisite to playing is a willingness to consider facts and put America ahead of political preferences.
That’s what Robert Mueller is doing. And he is discovering that the Trump-Russia octopus has many tentacles. That’s why Jerome Corsi and Roger Stone expect to be indicted. It’s also why — based on the Timeline, together with evidence that Mueller has and the public doesn’t — those expectations are reasonable.
Mueller’s Pearl Harbor Day 2018
Understandably, the media gave far more attention to the memoranda that Mueller filed in the cases involving Michael Cohen, Paul Manafort, and Mike Flynn. Those filings include hints of much more Trump-Russia scandal to come:
— During the campaign, Trump and Cohen discussed ongoing prospective business deals with Russia that would bring “hundreds of millions of dollars” to the Trump Organization.
— During the campaign, intermediaries offered “political synergy” and “synergy on a government level” from Russia to help Trump win the election.
— Flynn is assisting Mueller’s “investigation concerning any links or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald J. Trump”;
— Well into 2018, Manafort’s representatives were in contact with representatives of the Trump administration. The lawyers among them who believe that attorney-client privilege and joint defense agreements will save them should take another look at the crime-fraud exception. At best, all of those individuals are now witnesses in Mueller’s obstruction of justice investigation. Some could be subjects; some may be even targets. Stick with Trump long enough and that’s your fate.
A Separate Front: Campaign Finance Law Violations
Finally, a Dec. 7 filing in the Southern District of New York puts Trump in a new world of hurt that even firing Robert Mueller can’t stop. Prosecutors in the New York office of the acting US attorney — which is headed by Trump’s personal selection to replace Preet Bharara — accused Trump of directing Michael Cohen to violate federal campaign finance laws. Twice.
Together with David Pecker, the publisher of the National Enquirer, Trump and Cohen devised a scheme to buy the silence of women claiming to be Trump’s former mistresses. The goal was to shut them up and thereby preserve Trump’s presidential prospects. At Trump’s direction, six-figure payments went to a former Playboy model and an adult-film actress.
Whether Trump can escape criminal prosecution while in office has been the subject of debate. But with respect to the SDNY case, Prof. Laurence Tribe argues persuasively that the Constitution mandates prosecution of a president who breaks the law to win the office. In any event, the SDNY filing renders three things beyond question:
First, even if Prof. Tribe’s analysis is wrong, Trump must win a second term to eliminate his criminal exposure. The moment he leaves office, the law can land on him like a ton of bricks — just as it would any other citizen. If convicted of the felonies in which he is now implicated, he’ll go to jail, unless he gets a pardon from his Oval Office successor.
Second, even assuming that Trump personally cannot be prosecuted while in office, other co-conspirators can. Future defendants could include the Trump Organization, senior executives, the Trump Foundation, and Trump family members Ivanka, Don Jr., and Eric. In fact, the key allegation against Trump refers to “one or more members of the campaign,” suggesting to Prof. Ryan Goodman and Andy Wright at JustSecurity.org that “more indictments for the hush money scheme may still be in the offing.” (Their analysis of the last week’s court filings is worth a careful read.)
And third, special counsel Robert Mueller isn’t prosecuting the campaign finance law conspiracy charges in Manhattan; the New York office of Trump’s Justice Department is. Even getting rid of Mueller won’t make that front in Trump’s war against the rule of law go away.
All around Trump, the walls are collapsing. Like a cornered, rabid animal, he becomes more dangerous every day.
And where is the complicit GOP in Congress? The silence is deafening.
Here are the latest updates to the Trump-Russia Timeline:
SEPT. 16, 2015: Trump Says He’d Get Along With Putin
SEPT. 17, 2015: Cohen Says Trump and Putin Might Meet Later This Month
OCT. 28, 2015: Trump Signs Letter of Intent for Trump Tower in Moscow (revision of previous entry)
NOVEMBER 2015: Cohen Speaks with ‘Trusted Person’ in Russia Offering ‘Political Synergy’ and ‘Synergy on a Government Level’ to Trump Campaign
JUNE 4, 2016: RT Visits Assange
JUNE 8, 2016: RT Visits Assange
JUNE 10, 2016: RT Visits Assange
JUNE 17, 2016: RT Visits Assange
JUNE 23, 2016: RT Visits Assange
AUG. 2, 2016: Assange Tells RT That WikiLeaks Will Release Clinton Foundation Emails
AUG. 5, 2016: Pecker Buys Rights to Karen McDougal’s Story; Trump Directs Cohen to Violate Campaign Finance Laws
AUG. 8-30, 2016: RT and Russian Intelligence Follow Corsi’s Predicted Strategy On Clinton’s Health, Clinton Foundation Through Media and Social Media
AUG. 8, 2016: Pecker’s National Enquirer Attacks Clinton’s Health
AUG. 15, 2018: Trump Attacks Clinton’s Health
OCT. 25-26, 2016: Giuliani Discusses Coming ‘Surprise’; Comey Orders Internal Investigation of FBI NY Office (revision of previous entry)
OCT. 26-27, 2016: Trump Again Directs Cohen to Violate Campaign Finance Laws; Cohen Signs Non-Disclosure Agreement with Stephanie Clifford (aka Stormy Daniels) (revision of previous entry)
AROUND MAY 15, 2017: Manafort Tries to Broker Assange Deal
AUG. 28-30, 2017: Story Breaks on Trump Tower-Moscow; Cohen Lies to Congress; Russia Participates in Trump/Cohen Cover-Up (revision of previous entry)
MAY 26, 2018: Manafort Authorizes Representative to Speak with Trump Administration Official On His Behalf
AUG. 7, 2018: At Cohen’s Request, He Meets with Mueller, Provides False Answers Regarding Trump Tower-Moscow
NOV. 26, 2018: Mueller Says Manafort Lied After Plea Agreement (revision of previous entry)
DEC. 3, 2018: Trump Tweets; Cohen Should Get ‘Full and Complete Sentence’; Praises Stone’s ‘Guts’; Attacks Mueller
DEC. 3, 2018: Stone Invokes Fifth Amendment
DEC. 4, 2018: Mueller’s Sentencing Memo Urges Leniency for Flynn
DEC. 5, 2018: Erickson Has Received ‘Target’ Letter
DEC. 6, 2018: Trump Tweets ‘Witch Hunt’, ‘Presidential Harassment’; Quotes Corsi: ‘This Is Not Justice’; Attacks FBI
DEC. 7, 2018: Trump Tweets Attack ‘Mueller Conflicts’, ‘Lyin’ James Comey’, Mueller’s Team Members, ’17 Angry Democrats’, ‘Crooked Hillary’, Clinton Foundation, Rosenstein ‘Conflicted’, Bruce Ohr, John Brennan, James Clapper, ‘Final Witch Hunt Report’
DEC. 7, 2018: Trump to Nominate Barr as AG
DEC. 7, 2018: Comey Testifies; Trump Tweets
DEC. 7, 2018: Mueller Aims at Manafort
DEC. 7, 2018: Mueller and SDNY File Briefs on Cohen; SDNY Implicates Trump
DEC. 7, 2018: Trump Tweets Another Lie: ‘Totally Clears the President’
DEC. 7, 2018: Treasury Dept. Delays Sanctions Against Rusal
DEC. 8, 2018: Trump Tweets: ‘NO COLLUSION!’, ‘Time for the Witch Hunt To END’
DEC. 9, 2018: Trump Tweets About Comey’s Dec. 7 Testimony
DEC. 10, 2018: Trump Tweets: ‘NO COLLUSION’, ‘WITCH HUNT’, ‘Cohen Just Trying To Get His Sentence Reduced’