Worried about the Russia investigation and claims of his complicity in payoffs to mistresses, Donald Trump lashes out at his former lawyer Michael Cohen and the FBI.
Trump’s latest Twitter fury was spurred by the revelation of a tape in which Cohen discussed with Trump an arrangement to silence Karen McDougal. A former Playboy model, McDougal said she had a 10-month affair with Trump in 2006-2007, soon after his marriage to Melania Knauss and the birth of their son Barron.
The $150,000 was purportedly for McDougal’s account to be published in the tabloid National Enquirer. However, the Enquirer — whose CEO David Pecker is a close friend of Trump’s — never published the story and McDougal, bound by a non-disclosure agreement, could not take her story elsewhere.
Trump and his staff had long denied that he knew of any payoff. Trump had also claimed no knowledge of $150,000 given to porn star Stormy Daniels by Cohen in October 2016, ten days before the Presidential election, to quiet her over a 2006 sexual encounter — that claim has collapsed this year amid Daniels’ revelations about the affair.
Trump tweeted on Saturday morning, referring to an FBI raid on Cohen’s office, hotel, and home in April and the taped phone call:
Inconceivable that the government would break into a lawyer’s office (early in the morning) – almost unheard of. Even more inconceivable that a lawyer would tape a client – totally unheard of & perhaps illegal. The good news is that your favorite President did nothing wrong!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 21, 2018
Cohen is facing charges by Federal prosecutors in New York over his financial affairs.
Interestingly, Trump’s lawyers have waived attorney-client privilege over the tape, allowing prosecutors to review it. The move has raised speculation as to whether Trump’s camp believe the conversation damages Cohen while exonerating Trump — a claim rejected by Cohen’s attorney Lanny Davis — or whether Trump has given up on preventing his former lawyer’s cooperation with Special Counsel Robert Mueller in the Trump-Russia investigation.
There was also widespread chatter about Trump’s camp releasing the story to deflect attention from the President’s summit with Vladimir Putin, in which Trump preferred the Russian leader over US intelligence agencies and declined to give one example of where he differed from Putin.
Trump’s Fear of More to Come?
Trump betrayed his concern over the expanding Russia inquiry in another Saturday tweet, urging his supporters to do something to halt the investigation:
No Collusion, No Obstruction – but that doesn’t matter because the 13 Angry Democrats, who are only after Republicans and totally protecting Democrats, want this Witch Hunt to drag out to the November Election. Republicans better get smart fast and expose what they are doing!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 21, 2018
Last Friday, Mueller indicted 12 Russian military intelligence officers over hacking and dissemination of material damaging Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. The indictment referred to the complicity of WikiLeaks and to contact between a leading Russian hacker and Trump’s advisor Roger Stone.
Trump responded on Monday by attacking the FBI and Democrats as he stood alongside Putin. Later in the week, amid criticism of his performance, Trump removed a line in a statement which called for the Russian officers to face justice in the US.
North Korea Plays Tough with Frustrated Trump
North Korea has frustrated Donald Trump’s celebrations after the June 12 summit with Kim Jong-un.
Trump proclaimed the day after the summit that Pyongyang’s “nuclear threat” is over, but North Korea has cancelled follow-up meetings, demanded more money, and failed to maintain basic communications, according to officials.
North Korea has not dismantle a missile-engine testing facility that Trump said would be destroyed, and U.S. intelligence officials say Pyongyang is concealing key aspects of its nuclear program.
Trump proclaimed to reporters on Tuesday, “Discussions are ongoing and they’re going very well,” but sources speak of his frustration as he asks for daily updates.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited Pyongyang on July 6 seeking details of the return of remains of US soldiers killed during the 1950-1953 Korean War, following Trump’s premature announcement that North Korea has sent back the remains of 200 troops.
The North Koreans told Pompeo that they were still not ready to commit to specific plans. Kim Jong-un declined to see the Secretary of State.
Pompeo scheduled a meeting between the North Koreans and Pentagon officials on July 12 in the demilitarized zone. On the day, Pyongyang’s delegation kept the Americans waiting for three hours before calling to cancel. North Korea then asked for a future meeting with a higher-ranking military official.
Trump maintained his public show last week:
….Russia has agreed to help with North Korea, where relationships with us are very good and the process is moving along. There is no rush, the sanctions remain! Big benefits and exciting future for North Korea at end of process!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 18, 2018
But he said in a TV interview, “I’m in no real rush. I mean whatever it takes, it takes.”