The raid on Trump's lawyer: The pretext

See also: Mueller, FBI, DOJ go thermonuclear in efforts to bring down TrumpThe raid on Trump's lawyer: Why? And why now? 

The Washington Post, owned by Trump foe Jeff Bezos, was the chosen vehicle for Robert Mueller's investigation and the DOJ to leak their rationale for the huge escalation in tactics used to bring down a sitting president.  I am quoting extensively from that article to present the information leaked by "public servants" to an enemy of the president:

One person familiar with the probe said investigators have been gathering material on Cohen for weeks, including his bank records.

Two of the potential crimes being investigated – bank fraud and wire fraud – suggest prosecutors have some reason to think Cohen may have misled bankers about why he was using particular funds or may have improperly used banks in the transfer of funds. ...

Cohen has said he used a home-equity line of credit to finance the payment to Daniels and said that neither the Trump Organization nor the Trump campaign reimbursed him for the payment.

Banks don't usually require much explanation from customers about how they use such credit lines.  However, Cohen may have been asked to provide explanation for the large-dollar transfers he made when he moved the money to a shell company and then to a lawyer for Daniels.  [Emphasis added.]

If he was asked, why was he asked?  By whom?  That is a key question.

The search requests for records related to the payment to Daniels cited investigators' interest in possible violations of election law, according to one person familiar with the investigators' work. ...

On Oct. 17, Cohen established Essential Consultants LLC as a vehicle for the $130,000 payment, records show.  Ten days later, on Oct. 27, the bank Cohen used in New York transferred the money to Daniels via a California bank account belonging to her lawyer, Keith Davidson.

Eleven months later, in September 2017, that California bank – City National Bank in Beverly Hills – asked Davidson about the source of the payment, according to an email reviewed by The Washington Post.  Bank officials declined to comment on whether the inquiry was triggered by a request or subpoena from law enforcement.

This is starting to smell of a fishing expedition, and maybe a set-up, reminiscent of the famous dictum of Lavrentiy Beria, Stalin's head of the secret police: "Show me the man, and I'll find you the crime."  


Lavrentiy Beria.  Image from www.alternathistory.org.ua.

Bank fraud – failing to respond accurately to question from the bank that likely was prompted by some outsider looking to "find you the crime" – is in law a serious felony, even if there was no harm to the bank from the "misapplication" of the funds.  Wire fraud is another count that can be brought for the same infraction if electronic means were used to transfer funds (as they almost always are in the 21st century).  The key here is that Michael Cohen can now be squeezed to implicate Trump ("find you [Mueller] the crime") in something illegal in the course of his long representation of Trump.

The raid was not personally directed by Mueller, but was rather outsourced to the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, Joon Kim, a Trump appointee, who received a criminal referral from Mueller.

The Cohen raids required high-level authorization within the Justice Department.  Under regulations governing the special counsel's work, Mueller is required to consult with Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein if his team finds information worth investigating that does not fall under his mandate to examine Russia's interference in the 2016 election.

Rosenstein, as the acting attorney general supervising Mueller's work, has the responsibility of deciding whether to expand Mueller's mandate to include the new topic or to refer it to a U.S. attorney's office.

Since Cohen is a practicing attorney whose communications with clients are considered privileged, federal prosecutors would have been required to first consider a less intrusive investigative tactic than a search warrant before executing the raids.

Almost certainly, the president's remaining lawyers will bring legal action and seek to uncover the reasoning behind the raid against a lawyer who is cooperating with the investigation.

The prosecutors face a serious hurdle in obtaining a guilty verdict on election law.  

To pursue criminal charges against Cohen for breaking federal election law, prosecutors would have to prove that he made the payment to Daniels to influence the election, rather than for personal reasons – to protect Trump's reputation, for example, or his marriage.

John Hinderaker of Powerline explains why this is a Deep State operation in its face:

It is blindingly obvious that this whole story, and the leak thereof, is a political attack on President Trump by the Democratic Party.  There is only one serious question: Didn't President Trump appoint the current Director of the FBI, Christopher Wray?  And the Attorney General, Jeff Sessions?  Yes, he did.  So why is DOJ making war on the president?

The answer is that Trump and his appointees do not control the departments they ostensibly run.  Liberals tell us that at DOJ, it is critically important that political appointees not interfere with the "career professionals" who do all the work.  I say, [b‑‑‑‑‑‑‑].  The "career professionals" are just Democratic Party lifers who have risen to the top of the bureaucracy, often by avoiding any actual, risky work.  I'm not talking about FBI agents on the street, or the majority of Assistant U.S. Attorneys.  (U.S. Attorneys, of course, are political appointees.)  I'm talking about career bureaucrats like James Comey, Bob Mueller, Andy McCabe, and so on.

President Trump's appointees absolutely should "interfere" with these Democratic Party operatives.  They should order them to direct their efforts toward legitimate law enforcement ends, not toward Democratic Party activism.  Those who refuse should be fired.

We are witnessing, as Scott says, "a political death struggle with the authorities operating under [President Trump's] nominal control."  President Trump and his loyal appointees need to assert the powers that the voters have given them.

A "political death struggle" is exactly what it is.  Keep in mind that the DOJ inspector general's report is coming very soon, and the FBI and DOJ want to play offense, not defense. 

See also: Mueller, FBI, DOJ go thermonuclear in efforts to bring down TrumpThe raid on Trump's lawyer: Why? And why now? 

The Washington Post, owned by Trump foe Jeff Bezos, was the chosen vehicle for Robert Mueller's investigation and the DOJ to leak their rationale for the huge escalation in tactics used to bring down a sitting president.  I am quoting extensively from that article to present the information leaked by "public servants" to an enemy of the president:

One person familiar with the probe said investigators have been gathering material on Cohen for weeks, including his bank records.

Two of the potential crimes being investigated – bank fraud and wire fraud – suggest prosecutors have some reason to think Cohen may have misled bankers about why he was using particular funds or may have improperly used banks in the transfer of funds. ...

Cohen has said he used a home-equity line of credit to finance the payment to Daniels and said that neither the Trump Organization nor the Trump campaign reimbursed him for the payment.

Banks don't usually require much explanation from customers about how they use such credit lines.  However, Cohen may have been asked to provide explanation for the large-dollar transfers he made when he moved the money to a shell company and then to a lawyer for Daniels.  [Emphasis added.]

If he was asked, why was he asked?  By whom?  That is a key question.

The search requests for records related to the payment to Daniels cited investigators' interest in possible violations of election law, according to one person familiar with the investigators' work. ...

On Oct. 17, Cohen established Essential Consultants LLC as a vehicle for the $130,000 payment, records show.  Ten days later, on Oct. 27, the bank Cohen used in New York transferred the money to Daniels via a California bank account belonging to her lawyer, Keith Davidson.

Eleven months later, in September 2017, that California bank – City National Bank in Beverly Hills – asked Davidson about the source of the payment, according to an email reviewed by The Washington Post.  Bank officials declined to comment on whether the inquiry was triggered by a request or subpoena from law enforcement.

This is starting to smell of a fishing expedition, and maybe a set-up, reminiscent of the famous dictum of Lavrentiy Beria, Stalin's head of the secret police: "Show me the man, and I'll find you the crime."  


Lavrentiy Beria.  Image from www.alternathistory.org.ua.

Bank fraud – failing to respond accurately to question from the bank that likely was prompted by some outsider looking to "find you the crime" – is in law a serious felony, even if there was no harm to the bank from the "misapplication" of the funds.  Wire fraud is another count that can be brought for the same infraction if electronic means were used to transfer funds (as they almost always are in the 21st century).  The key here is that Michael Cohen can now be squeezed to implicate Trump ("find you [Mueller] the crime") in something illegal in the course of his long representation of Trump.

The raid was not personally directed by Mueller, but was rather outsourced to the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, Joon Kim, a Trump appointee, who received a criminal referral from Mueller.

The Cohen raids required high-level authorization within the Justice Department.  Under regulations governing the special counsel's work, Mueller is required to consult with Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein if his team finds information worth investigating that does not fall under his mandate to examine Russia's interference in the 2016 election.

Rosenstein, as the acting attorney general supervising Mueller's work, has the responsibility of deciding whether to expand Mueller's mandate to include the new topic or to refer it to a U.S. attorney's office.

Since Cohen is a practicing attorney whose communications with clients are considered privileged, federal prosecutors would have been required to first consider a less intrusive investigative tactic than a search warrant before executing the raids.

Almost certainly, the president's remaining lawyers will bring legal action and seek to uncover the reasoning behind the raid against a lawyer who is cooperating with the investigation.

The prosecutors face a serious hurdle in obtaining a guilty verdict on election law.  

To pursue criminal charges against Cohen for breaking federal election law, prosecutors would have to prove that he made the payment to Daniels to influence the election, rather than for personal reasons – to protect Trump's reputation, for example, or his marriage.

John Hinderaker of Powerline explains why this is a Deep State operation in its face:

It is blindingly obvious that this whole story, and the leak thereof, is a political attack on President Trump by the Democratic Party.  There is only one serious question: Didn't President Trump appoint the current Director of the FBI, Christopher Wray?  And the Attorney General, Jeff Sessions?  Yes, he did.  So why is DOJ making war on the president?

The answer is that Trump and his appointees do not control the departments they ostensibly run.  Liberals tell us that at DOJ, it is critically important that political appointees not interfere with the "career professionals" who do all the work.  I say, [b‑‑‑‑‑‑‑].  The "career professionals" are just Democratic Party lifers who have risen to the top of the bureaucracy, often by avoiding any actual, risky work.  I'm not talking about FBI agents on the street, or the majority of Assistant U.S. Attorneys.  (U.S. Attorneys, of course, are political appointees.)  I'm talking about career bureaucrats like James Comey, Bob Mueller, Andy McCabe, and so on.

President Trump's appointees absolutely should "interfere" with these Democratic Party operatives.  They should order them to direct their efforts toward legitimate law enforcement ends, not toward Democratic Party activism.  Those who refuse should be fired.

We are witnessing, as Scott says, "a political death struggle with the authorities operating under [President Trump's] nominal control."  President Trump and his loyal appointees need to assert the powers that the voters have given them.

A "political death struggle" is exactly what it is.  Keep in mind that the DOJ inspector general's report is coming very soon, and the FBI and DOJ want to play offense, not defense.