By Robert A. Vella

It’s another Monday in America.  What craziness will this week bring?

BuzzFeed story revalidated

From:  Commentary: After Cohen hearing, the BuzzFeed bombshell that Mueller disputed looks better – and worse

In mid-January, a BuzzFeed News report hit the news cycle like a mile-wide asteroid landing on Earth.

Its assertion was stunning: that President Donald Trump had directed his fixer, Michael Cohen, to lie to Congress in 2017 about negotiations to build a Trump Tower in Moscow the previous year. And that special counsel Robert Mueller III possessed documentation of this; and further, that Cohen had acknowledged those instructions in interviews with Mueller’s office.


But then the explosive story seemed to fall apart. Other news organizations were unable to match it; they could not report their own versions of it with their own sources.

And then, Mueller’s office issued a brief, devastating statement disputing aspects of the BuzzFeed report.


Cohen corroborated the thrust of the report: that Trump made it clear that he wanted his fixer to lie about the Moscow Tower project, including in his statements to Congress. Cohen was to stick to the lie that Trump’s involvement ended in January of 2016 even though it went on for many months after that.

From Cohen’s written testimony: “Mr. Trump did not directly tell me to lie to Congress. That’s not how he operates.”

But, he continued: “In conversations we had during the campaign, at the same time I was actively negotiating in Russia for him, he would look me in the eye and tell me, ‘There’s no business in Russia,’ and then go out and lie to the American people by saying the same thing. In his way, he was telling me to lie. There were at least a half-dozen times between the Iowa caucuses in January 2016 and the end of June when he would ask me ‘How’s it going in Russia?’ – referring to the Moscow Tower project.”


Yes, the story’s overall scope holds up. And more details will emerge that may provide further corroboration – for example, about specific editing by White House lawyers of Cohen’s testimony to Congress and about what was said in a hazily described meeting involving Trump, lawyer Jay Sekulow and Cohen.

GOP rebellion

From:  Trump on brink of GOP rebellion over emergency declaration

President Trump is facing a potential revolt among Senate Republicans over his decision to declare a national emergency to construct the U.S.-Mexico border wall.

Sen. Rand Paul’s (R-Ky.) public announcement over the weekend that he will oppose Trump’s declaration ensures a resolution blocking it will be approved by the Senate after already passing the House – unless Senate Republicans can find some kind of last-minute way out of the showdown.

Republicans have been hunting for a way out of a fight over the declaration that has badly fractured the caucus, but Paul’s decision underscores the difficulty leadership faces in finding a successful exit strategy.

Media manipulation

From:  Trump directed Gary Cohn to pressure DOJ to block AT&T-Time Warner deal: report

President Trump reportedly directed his former economic adviser Gary Cohn to pressure the Justice Department to block the AT&T-Time Warner merger, according to a report in The New Yorker.

In an explosive new investigation into the relationship between the Trump White House and Fox News, the magazine reported new details that contradict the administration’s assurances that Trump had no role in the Justice Department’s lawsuit trying to stop the merger.


The New Yorker reported that Trump’s effort to have Cohn push to block the AT&T-Time Warner merger, in addition to the administration’s approval of the Disney-Fox merger and opposition to the Sinclair-Tribune merger, would all have benefitted the Murdoch family and Fox News.

Pardon inquiry

From:  Lawmakers exploring possible pardon talks involving Michael Cohen

Lawmakers are investigating whether President Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen was involved in any discussions about possible pardons — which they view as a potentially ripe area of inquiry into whether anyone sought to obstruct justice, people familiar with the matter said.

Cohen has said publicly he never asked for — and would not accept — a pardon from Trump. But people familiar with the matter said his knowledge on the topic seems to extend beyond that statement.

Privately, lawmakers on the House and Senate intelligence committees pressed Cohen this week on whether he had had any discussions about a possible pardon, and if so, when and with whom those conversations took place, the people said. The people spoke on the condition of anonymity because the testimony was not public.

Ethics alarm

From:  Ethics watchdogs sound alarm over Trump tweet on Scotland golf course

An ethics watchdog raised alarms after President Trump tweeted on Saturday about his golf course in Scotland.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) said that Trump was using his position to promote his business.


It is illegal to use the presidency for personal profit because of the Emoluments Clause of the U.S. Constitution.


From:  U.S. Supreme Court turns away religious rights case over church grants

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Supreme Court bypassed a chance to further expand the ability of religious entities to receive public funding, leaving in place on Monday a lower court ruling that blocked a New Jersey county from giving historic preservation grants to churches.

9 thoughts on “BuzzFeed story revalidated, GOP rebellion, Media manipulation, Pardon inquiry, Ethics alarm, SCOTUS news

  1. Re: the ethics issue … I would bet dollars to donuts that nothing will come of it. How much has he already gotten away with … let me count the ways.


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