I’m sure you recognize the above quote from Shakespeare’s Macbeth. It also pretty much describes the investigation carried out by Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller. What started out with many people convinced that Russia interfered in our election has now boiled down to the fact that President Trump paid some women he behaved badly with to keep quiet. Wow. Talk about a downward slide.
Mark Penn, who formerly served as an advisor to President Clinton, posted an article at The Hill yesterday which illustrates some of Robert Mueller’s mendacity.
The article reports:
I’m experiencing 1998 déjà vu as prosecutors once again work overtime to turn extramarital affairs and the efforts to keep them secret into impeachable high crimes and misdemeanors. Unable to get the witnesses to compose the stories they want, today’s prosecutors are discovering they can simply compose the crimes by manipulating the pleas of men desperate to protect their families.
The Michael Cohen sentencing memo took aim directly at both Cohen and President Donald Trump. It was used, unethically, to cast the president as directing a criminal conspiracy to make “secret and illegal” payments. Sentencing memos are not supposed to use secret grand jury info to point fingers at those who are not being sentenced, but that’s exactly what these did.
One can say today that these New York prosecutors, acolytes of fired U.S. District Attorney Preet Bharra, have learned that the “plea’s the thing wherein to catch the king.” First, they went after the man, not the crime, and turned up millions in unpaid taxes and some bank-loan misrepresentations by Cohen. At that point, they convinced him to cave for the sake of his family; the trick was to get him to plead guilty to supposedly two campaign finance “felonies,” and then vaguely implicate the president as directing them (which Trump denies).
Despite promises to the contrary from prosecutors, they threw their star witness off the bus anyway, making him the biggest chump in this drama after he hired attorney Lanny Davis and burned all his bridges with his former client. Once they had the guilty pleas in hand, the prosecutors no longer needed Cohen; they trashed him as a greedy liar and called for substantial jail time.
The reason these two guilty pleas were so valuable is that these prosecutors could not, in my opinion, have gotten them in court. The first payment was not even made by Cohen but by American Media Inc., a bona fide media company with First Amendment protections; it could have decided to use the story that it bought, hold the story, or just prevent some competitor from using the story.
The article cites the legal precedent for the fact that a payment to a mistress or a publication is not a campaign contribution:
Perhaps the biggest difference between oppo research and paying for nondisclosure of an affair is that one is definitely a campaign expense and the other is a personal expense not covered by election law. When prosecutors brought a similar case against former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.), they failed to get a conviction and it came out that FEC auditors had determined that the payments from donors to his mistress were not a campaign expense at all.
The article also points out that the typical remedy for a campaign finance violation is a fine–not indictment or impeachment. This charade is getting very old. Robert Mueller has been a man in search of a crime. He felt as if he already had the guilty party in his sights, he just needed to find the crime. Just for the record, that is not how the American justice system is supposed to work.