Still NO Russian Collusion … Damn!

by | Aug 23, 2018 |

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So as Tuesday came to a close, we found two breaking stories that in all actuality proved nothing. Certainly keeping with Special Counsel Mueller’s track record.
First, the partial verdicts in the Paul Manafort case involved eight guilty verdicts and a hung jury on ten other charges — leading to a mistrial on those remaining ten charges. However, none of those verdicts had anything to do with Mr. Mueller’s charge to investigate some unspecified crime with regard to the Russia collusion either with the Trump campaign and or the Russians meddling in the 2016 Presidential Election.
In the second case, the President’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen, was accused of various crimes, some relating to allegations of payments made or not made to two women of questionable repute for services performed or not performed. Aside from these allegations that apparently relate to Donald Trump, there is no real connection whatsoever with the President of the President’s campaign.
In either case, it is important to bear in mind that it is not uncommon for billionaires to be the target of extortion attempts by young women (or their attorney) who threaten to make public a claim of inappropriate behavior in an attempt to come to a “financial agreement” to not make public their claim, regardless of the claim’s veracity.
That said, compare the story relating to Michael Cohen’s actions with the real criminal actions of a legion of highly placed Obama administration officials in the Department of Justice (DoJ), the FBI, the Department of State, the CIA, the Executive Office of the President, and various other federal intelligence and security agencies who conspired and used their capabilities to influence the outcome of the 2016 election and then, failing in their efforts, continued their criminal actions by attempting to bring down the Trump presidency by the illegal appointment of a corrupt, highly conflicted and ethically-challenged Robert Mueller as Special Counsel to investigate a nonspecific crime for which no evidence exists.
Understand, the appointment of a conflicted Mueller was made by Mr. Rod Rosenstein, a criminally corrupt Deputy Attorney General who illegally approved along with others, namely John Brennan, the renewal of FISA warrants used to illegally spy on people associated with the Trump campaign on the basis of material known to be the product of efforts by criminal candidate Hillary Clinton who colluded with the DNC and other Obama associates to conspire with Russia through a foreign agent, British spy Christopher Steele to produce a fictional and fake dossier that alleged inappropriate actions of then candidate Donald J. Trump.
Remember it was the same Rod Rosenstein who supposedly convinced Attorney General Jeff Sessions to recuse himself on a basis too weak to warrant recusal, in order that Rosenstein could work unfettered with operatives seeking to destroy the Donald Trump and his administration by any means necessary. Of course, I still believe, Trump and Sessions are ahead of this and have an ulterior motive, which is still to be revealed. Similarly, with that there are still numerous unanswered questions, such as; who advised President Trump to not take any action to either remove or un-recuse AG Sessions? There is an unknown factor there that only Trump, Sessions and his closest most loyal attorneys are aware of.
Further, and in another vane, why hasn’t the criminal conduct of Hillary Clinton being prosecuted for her egregious criminal acts both as Secretary of State and a presidential candidate?; (1) destroying evidence under subpoena by Congress, her email and email equipment, (2) taking large contributions to the Clinton Foundation in exchange for exemptions for foreign interests while she was Secretary of State, and (3) conspiring with the DNC to fund a fictional dossier produced by Russians and provided by a foreign agent to illegally influence the 2016 election? Perhaps that is still coming… 
But let’s take a few minutes and look at the background of the individuals and the impact of the verdicts. Cohen was Mr. Trump’s longtime so-called fixer and attorney until federal prosecutors opened an investigation into his business dealings. Now he has pleaded guilty to a number of fraud charges as well as campaign finance violations relating to the president. Those violations supposedly involve Mr. Cohen’s personal hush money payments to two women claiming to have had extramarital affairs with Mr. Trump. The President denies any of those affairs and did not have any advance knowledge of the payments before reports of their existence emerged in the media.
However, Cohen’s plea deal alleges that payments were made “for the principal purpose of influencing the election” and “in coordination and at the direction of the candidate for federal office.” Trump is not named explicitly. Of course, the so-called crime is both vague and actually depends completely on the credibility of Mr. Cohen.
We must need to understand that it is extremely easy to embellish a story of this type. Assuming hypothetically that it is true that he did pay the money and it was designed to help the impact of the election. That still wouldn’t involve the President. Therefore, the reality is that all Mr. Cohen had to do and say was that, ‘the President directed me to do it.’ That’s the kind of embellishment that people put on a story when they want to avoid going to prison for a long time. To make the point, this what it’s like when the prosecutor says to them you have two choices: You’ll die in prison, or you can give me a story that I can use to go and get the President. Essentially a plea deal for Cohen and while this might not have been the case, there is a quite the possibility that it may have, and we may see that at work here. 
However, Cohen’s lawyer Lanny Davis claimed there is “proof” that the Trump Organization wired money into an account that was used to buy the silence of adult film star Stormy Daniels, one of the two women alleging affairs with the president. The other woman is former Playboy model Karen McDougal.
The fact is, that if Mr. Trump actually committed a crime, they remains questionable, as there is no evidence that occurring.  
In situations where there are violations of election laws, they are regarded as kind of political jaywalking in the realm of all things about elections. They are in the grand scheme of things not uncommon, nor intentional for the most part. In fact, every administration in some way, shape, or form violates the election laws. And in many cases nearly every candidate violates the election laws when they run for President. Usually they pay a fine, something like that happens and it is over. As noted in some cases they are egregious, intentional, and deliberate – conspired by design to hide something relevant to the candidate’s campaign. In such cases, as was just revealed this week, Mr. Obama’s 2008 campaign it was discovered by the FEC had roughly a $2.1 million FEC violation and was forced to pay a $375,000 fine. It should be noted though that they are considered administrative violations, not felonies. Nevertheless, with regard to Obama, the question that comes to mind, why was this situation only discovered 10-years later. I for one want to know why this massive level of corruption was not made know during the election or within 6 months to a year after. After all, no need to mention the obvious reason why!
Yet the Democrats continue trying to elevate unsubstantiated claims such private payments by a legal counsel or a campaign managers old 2005 private-personal tax irregularities as this into an impeachable offense or a felony against the sitting President. Responding to this claim on Twitter, former President Barack Obama’s former counsel Norm Eisen stated: “Come on …. Not everyone does this, Obama certainly didn’t (I helped see to that)—& it IS a felony.” My response…really?
As well-known liberal legal counsel attorney Alan Dershowitz noted the president may eventually be named “as an unindicted co-conspirator” but it would be “very unfair” because President Trump would not have or be afforded the opportunity to defend himself.
So where does this come down … well first, who would have thought that the conviction of his former campaign manager would be the good news for President Trump yesterday? Second for the Manafort case there is no relevance what so ever. With regard to the Cohen’s case and pleas, from a political standpoint, the guilty plea of Cohen is perhaps somewhat the more damaging news. Cohen pled guilty to eight felonies. While the five counts of failure to pay taxes on over $4 million in income are the most consequential to him, most significant to the country are two counts of illegal “in kind” campaign contributions. These, of note, involve $280,000 in the so-called hush-money payments made prior to the 2016 campaign to two women who claim to have had sexual liaisons with Donald Trump, many years before. In entering his guilty plea in federal court, Cohen acknowledged that he was directed to make the payments by Donald Trump — referred to as “the candidate.”
So what does that mean? Well, to be specific, the mainstream media narrative that we’ve been hearing suggests that these payments violate federal law because they were made to influence the outcome of the election. The reality is, that is not quite accurate. It was not illegal to pay hush money to the two women. It was illegal for Cohen to make in-kind contributions (which is what these pay-offs were) in excess of the legal limit.
Specifically, it was illegal for Cohen to make contributions exceeding $2,700 per election to a presidential candidate (including contributions coordinated with the candidate); and illegal for the candidate to accept contributions in excess of that amount. It is also illegal for corporations to contribute to candidates (including expenditures coordinated with the candidate), and for the candidate to accept such contributions. The latter illegality is relevant because Cohen formed corporations to transfer the hush money.
However, the law does not impose a dollar limit on the candidate himself. Donald Trump could lawfully have made contributions and expenditures in excess of $2,700 per election. Because of that, and because, unlike Cohen — Mr. Trump is a non-lawyer who may not have fully appreciated the campaign-finance implications, it would be tough to prove that the president had criminal intent. Secondly, it is on not on the candidate to file, but the campaign itself to do so. And while that may not get the president off the hook. As noted above, it is illegal for a candidate to accept excessive contributions. But again, since the contributions had gone to the campaign it is on the campaign and not the candidate. It is also illegal to fail to report contributions and expenditures, and to conspire in or aid and abet another person’s excessive contributions. Moreover, we are talking here about hush-money expenditures, so drawing a distinction between the payment and the failure (for the campaign) to report is pointless since the intention not to report is implicit in this kind of payment.
So as I implied previously, when news of these pay-offs first emerged, the best arguments President Trump has here involve mitigation, not innocence.
Again as mentioned earlier in this article, the Justice Department has a history of treating serious campaign-finance transgressions as administrative violations, not felonies. Again, also, the 2008 Obama campaign accepted a $2.1 million in illegal campaign contributions, but was permitted to settle the matter with a $375,000 fine. Of course, the force of that argument is undermined considerably by the fact that Cohen’s infraction has been treated as a felony, as was Dinesh D’Souza’s comparatively tiny $20,000 case, also prosecuted by the U.S. attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York. Funny how that works.
We’ll continue to watch this situation and story. This is a story of course will unravel over time, all these things always do. But I don’t believe it as nearly as deadly or lethal, as some are, or have portrayed it as being. Nor will this reveal once and for all any of the trappings of Trump’s Russia Collusion.

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Jim Waurishuk is a retired USAF Colonel, serving nearly 30-years as a career senior intelligence and political-military affairs officer and special mission intelligence officer with expertise in strategic intelligence, international strategic studies and policy, and asymmetric warfare. He served as a special mission intelligence officer assigned to multiple Joint Special Operations units and with the CIA’s Asymmetric Warfare Task Force and international and foreign advisory positions. He served as Deputy Director for Intelligence for U.S. Central Command (USCENTCOM) during the peak years of the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and the Global War on Terrorism.

Waurishuk is a former White House National Security Council staffer and a former Distinguished Senior Fellow with the Atlantic Council, Washington, D.C. He served as a senior advisor to the Commander U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) and served as Vice President of the Special Ops-OPSEC.

Currently, he is the Chairman of the Hillsborough County (FL) Republican Executive Committee and Party and serves on the Executive Board of the Republican Party of Florida.

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