Roaming Charges: All the President’s Lawyers

‘+ Rudy the Truth-Teller: Trump knew about the Stormy Daniels Non-Disclosure Agreement and repaid Michael Cohen on the installment plan; the NDA was meant to suppress the Daniels story prior to the 2016 election; James Comey is a pervert and pathological liar; Trump fired Comey because the FBI director wouldn’t publicly clear him in Russia probe; the FBI are stormtroopers; and Jared Kushner is disposable. I don’t see how any of this helps Trump, but Giuliani has proved to be the most entertaining addition to Trump’s team since The Mooch left. Stay tuned: Next week Rudy will tell us who really shot JFK and how Stanley Kubrick faked the Moon landing.

+ One of the great karmic ironies of the Trump scandals is that it won’t be the Washington Post or New York Times that takes down Trump, but a damning disclosure he or one of his intimates or lawyers blurts out after a softball question on FoxNews.

+ Given Giuliani’s deranged performance on Hannity, the grand strategy now seems obvious. Trump is setting up an “ineffectiveness of counsel” defense…

+ Originally the Stormy Daniels saga was interesting in the way that the Paula Jones case was interesting, as a creative backdoor legal maneuver to force Trump into a deposition and get a look at his finances through the discovery process. But now Stormy has become the thread that could unravel the entire Trump operation, particularly the money-moving operations that have kept his real estate empire afloat through some dry decades. It all flows through Cohen.

+ After being caught lying to the press about Trump’s payments to gag Stormy Daniels, the White House press corps is lamenting the fact that Sarah Sanders has “lost credibility.” Don’t you have to have once had credibility to lose it? (Does this mean they’ll apologize to Michelle Wolf now?)

+ Giuliani said that America would never tolerate a female member of the president’s family being hauled before a grand jury, even if she’s a member of the administration who witnessed possible criminal behavior. (Jared fair game, but not Ivanka.) Ken Starr dragged Hillary, rightfully in my mind, before the Whitewater Grand Jury for four hours of testimony, two more hours than Rudy says Trump has the stamina for…

+ Even people who believe in Trump don’t believe Trump….

+ Mueller should just offer Trump immunity for his testimony. Trump will lie, because he can’t help himself, then indict him for perjury.

+ Now batting for Ty Cobb, Emmet Flood. That’s Flood.

+ My theory, articulated several weeks ago, that the president Trump most resembles is Bill Clinton just got another point of proof with the hiring of Emmet Flood, one of Clinton’s top defense attorney’s in the Whitewater case.

+ Flood comes to Trump’s defense from the glitzy DC law firm of Williams and Connelly, founded by the legendary Edwin Bennet Williams, former attorney for Katharine Graham and the Washington Post.

+ Just when you thought “As Trump World Turns” couldn’t get any weirder comes the episode featuring the Russian MMA fighter

+ At least Trump has the guts to call members of his own cabinet “idiots” to their faces, which most of them are & most of them (talking about you, Beauregard) eagerly swallow, glad to be recognized at all. If Kelly or Tillerson had called Trump an “idiot” to his face during a cabinet meeting, they could at least have walked out the door with a shred of honor left. There’s nothing worse than a passive-aggressive enabler.

+ Trump may be “an idiot”, but despite his fondness for Russians he’s no Prince Myshkin….

+ Isn’t being called a “fucking moron” actually less offensive than “an idiot” (IQ 0-25)? Surely, Trump liked the “fucking” part. Rexxon for chief of staff?

+ If a Republican running for governor can point a shotgun at a teenager in the wake of the Parkland massacre, where is the Democratic candidate willing to run an ad pointing even a FINGER at a hedge fund manager or coal company executive?

+ All you really need to know about Mike Pence: In 1997, a young father named Kenneth Cooper was wrongfully convicted of armed robbery in Elkhart, Indiana and sentence to 40 years in state prison. Soon questions began to arise about his guilt. Eventually, witnesses recanted their testimony and DNA evidence cleared him of being at the crime scene. After ten years of incarceration, prosecutors moved to have Cooper released from prison and the Indiana Board of Pardons recommended that Indiana’s Governor, Mike Pence, grant Cooper a pardon. Pence, fearing this humane act might tarnish his reputation as law-and-order harass, refused.

Fast forward two years. Mike Pence was in Tempe, Arizona earlier this week at a campaign event meant to celebrate the passage of Trump’s tax bill, when into the room walked Joe Arpaio, the former Arizona sheriff, who was pardoned last year by Trump after being convicted of contempt of a federal court for mistreatment of suspected undocumented immigrants. Pence pointed excitedly to Arpaio and praised him as called him “a great friend of this president, a tireless champion of strong borders and the rule of law, who spent a lifetime in law enforcement.”

Arpaio once framed an innocent man in a fake assassination plot against Arpaio as part of a re-election campaign stunt. The patsy, James Saville, spent four years in an Arizona jail awaiting trial, where he was found innocent of all charges. Saville’s family was eventually awarded $1.1 million for the unlawful arrest. Some champion of justice.

“He’s a racist,” Kenneth Cooper said. “You’ll praise a man who was guilty and then say, ‘OK, this man needs to be pardoned, he’s got more to bring back to society. But me as a black man, I don’t have nothing to offer, so taking my life away, putting me in that cage, I guess that’s justified, even though I proved myself to be innocent.”

Yes, Mr. Cooper, that sums the man up.

+ If Netanyahu wants to leak some truly shocking nuclear documents, he should disclose the ones on Israel’s own nuclear arsenal….

+ Kids in backseat: “Are we to Megiddo yet, Uncle Bibi?”

Uncle Bibi: “Almost there, kids, almost there…”

+ Trump says he’s considering holding his summit with Kim Jong-Un in the Demilitarized Zone. Some attentive readers of our book Al Gore: a User’s Manual may recall that Gore’s father once proposed saturating the entire DMZ with radioactive waste.

+ Villain on Villain Crime: So one of Scutt Pruitt’s flunkies tried to plant damaging stories about Ryan Zinke in the press in order to take the heat off of Scott Pruitt. White House hilarity ensued

+  The cheapest house for sale in San Francisco is a decrepit 600-square foot “bungalow” built in the Merced Heights neighborhood sometime prior to the 1906 quake, which is expected to sell for more than $800,000.

Sitting on the dock of the Bay
Cause it’s the only place I can afford to stay…

+ Give him credit. Kanye does blast Nike in his Charlemagne the God interview. But for discontinuing his shoe, not the slave-like conditions in the factories that made them….

+ If Kanye had said “emancipate yourself from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds,” he would have made more sense & less of an uproar. Of course, that wouldn’t have been a “new thought,” but one he’d sampled from a couple of dead guys named Marcus Garvey and Bob Marley…

+ “30 Years as an Independent Contractor”? “Django Unemployed”?

+ Terrific interview in Jezebel with the irreplaceable Barbara Ehrenreich on class and health care in America.

+ Sending B-52 bombers over the South China Sea is always a helpful maneuver on the eve of peace talks….

+ Meanwhile, back in Afghanistan the US has dropped 1,186 munitions in the first three months of 2018, a total that’s near the height of the war.

+ Anyone the US kills in purported “counter-terrorism actions” is now by definition the intended target and not a civilian

+ Trump is trouncing potential 2020 rivals, John Kasich and Jeff Flake, in early polling from New Hampshire. Trump’s dominance of the GOP proves that the neocons and the Jack Kemp-style ideologues never really had that much support within the party. It was all imposed by the party elites from above. Since Nixon, the party’s base has been the one that Kevin Philips and Pat Buchanan identified and fertilized for the Southern Strategy, but it is no longer, and probably never was, restricted to the South….

+ Pompeo Maximus has pledged to put the “swagger back in the State Department.” Is “swagger” what the State Department’s been missing? Does this mean Foggy Bottom will finally get its own squadron of drones?

+ The National Security Archive has just published a trove of documents on Bloody Gina Haspel and the CIA black site torture program…

+ Comedian, radio host Randy Credico, who has had a cameo role in RussiaGate©, was detained, handcuffed and ejected from the White House Correspondents Dinner. This abusive treatment played out in front of dozens titivated journalists, none of whom reported on the incident, instead saving their outrage for Michelle Wolf’s Lenny Bruce-like performance.

+ Despite the hysteria, Michelle Wolf said nothing at all about Sarah Sanders’ looks. Read the transcript. The Aunt Lydia (The Handmaid’s Tale) line was a direct strike on how she acts and what she believes. But you’d think Sarah’d be proud to own that.

+ How could Beauregard possibly make federal prisons more sadistic than they already are? Restrict access to books and email….

+ Alabama Rep. Mo Brooks says that a record number of Republican members of congress are retiring because they fear assassination. Can’t they all just hide under Scott Pruitt’s bullet-proof desk?

+ China just stopped buying US soy beans. Good news for the ravaged environment of the Midwest, probably not such good news for the occupants of the 30 congressional seats in the Soy Bean Belt.

+ The fact that Richard Painter would use the title of “ex-Bush ETHICS chief” as the headline on his resumé to run as a Democrat in Minnesota tells you everything you need to know about the current character of the Democratic Party.

+ Meet the Ancien Regime!

Democratic Leadership

Schumer 67
Durbin 73
Stabenow 68
Feinstein 84

Pelosi 78
Hoyer 78
Clyburn 77

Leading Presidential Candidates
Biden 75
Sanders 76
Warren 68

Is it any wonder millennials are fleeing the party?

+ “Never trust anyone under 67!” (Apologies to Jack Weinberg of the Free Speech Movement.)

+ One of the most useful things I learned from Comey’s book Higher Loyalty was that within hours of entering the White House Trump changed the curtains in the Oval Office, rehanging the gold ones from Clinton era. Comey didn’t disclose whether Trump had Reince Preibus urinate on the Obama drapery before they were taken down.

+ Sweet Land of Liberty: a privately-run prisoner transport company kept a detainee chained up for 18-days in human urine and shit.

+ Summer has come to the Arctic and the ice in the Chukchi Sea has begun melting earlier than ever….

+ The Arctic is ice-free and its 122.4 degrees (F) in Pakistan (the highest April temperature ever recorded on Earth). Just another early spring week in the Northern Hemisphere.

+ It’s amusing to watch Mitt Romney transform himself into a regular Utahn. No more prime rib for Mitt. Romney has now declared that “hot dogs” are his “favorite meat.” This from the man who once strapped his living dog, Seamus the Irish Setter, to roof of the family car as he sped off on vacation….

+ Jeremy Scahill asked me the other day if I knew “who is the most left wing person with a paid gig on cable news? Host, reporter, analyst, any on air gig with pay. Whatcha got?”

I said I couldn’t give him a name, but it was almost certainly a former member of the Bush administration…

+ America’s best living film director, Richard Linklater, on the origins of  the Austin Film Society, which was a lot more interesting than the cultural sprawl of SXSW…

+ Stanley Cohen: “The lesson Bill O’Reilly learned, albeit too late, is a serial sex abuser must know when to quit TV and run for president.”

+ Fascinating Erroll Morris interview with philosopher Hilary Putnam and Noam Chomsky on truth and language

+ The great historian Steven Marcus died this week at 87. I first encountered Marcus through his book Engels, Manchester and the Working Class, which was masterful. His book on Dickens was even better. But his real obsession was Freud. I attended a fascinating lecture he gave at Catholic University in the late 1970s on Freud’s disciple and biographer Ernest Jones. He had a real gift for giving clarity to nebulous topics, like Freud’s theory of the death instinct. A great mind.

+ We’ll give Michelle Wolf the last word: “Flint still doesn’t have clean water.”

Les Yeux Fermés Une Flamme Brûle Dans Ton Coeur

Sound Grammar

What I’m listening to this week. Still recreating my vinyl collection. Here are the latest acquisitions…

56. Tous les Garcons et les Filles by Françoise Hardy

57. Blackheart Man by Bunny Wailer

58. Honky Tonk Heroes by Waylon Jennings

59. Jewels of Thought by Pharoah Sanders

60. Grievous Angel by Gram Parsons


Booked Up

What I’m reading this week…

Hate: Why We Should Resist It With Free Speech, Not Censorship by Nadine Strossen

Climate Change: What Everyone Needs to Know by Joseph Romm

Macbeth by Jo Nesbo

I Do Not Regret the Trash

Zora Neale Hurston: “I had hundreds of books under my skin already. Not selected reading, all of it. Some of it could be called trashy. I had been through Nick Carter, Horatio Alger, Bertha M. Clay and the whole slew of dime novelists in addition to some really constructive reading. I do not regret the trash. It has harmed me in no way. It was a help, because acquiring the reading habit early is the important thing. Taste and natural development will take care of the rest later on.”

Jeffrey St. Clair is editor of CounterPunch. His most recent book is An Orgy of Thieves: Neoliberalism and Its Discontents (with Alexander Cockburn). He can be reached at: or on Twitter @JeffreyStClair3