Editor’s Blog

Worst Thing That Ever Happened To Him

It was universally agreed when President Trump nominated him, apparently with no vetting or preparation, that Ronny Jackson was woefully unqualified to serve as Secretary of Veterans Affairs. But he also appeared to be widely respected as the White House doctor who has served not only President Trump but also President Obama. Now accusations are emerging of excessive drinking, creating a hostile work environment and ‘improperly dispensing’ medication. Read More

There’s Gonna Be Something Here

Why did the pro-Trump National Enquirer (or technically its parent company) put out a special edition celebrating the achievements of the pro-Trump (and Jared’s best pal) Crown Prince to coincide with his visit last month?

Not Just Cone-of-Silence Phone Booths Anymore!

Fun list of assorted bullcrap (Prime access) Scott Pruitt wasted your money on.

Hannity and Cohen

Following up on Sean Hannity’s claim that he discussed real estate questions with Michael Cohen, The Guardian uncovered that Hannity presides over a real estate empire valued at at least $100 million. This is not surprising. Hannity reportedly makes $36 million a year. He says he invests most of his money in real estate. If he’s making that much and investing in real estate, it would be surprising if his portfolio were any smaller. Read More

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 13: Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's attorney, walks to the Loews Regency hotel on Park Ave on April 13, 2018 in New York City. Following FBI raids on his home, office and hotel room, the Department of Justice announced that they are placing him under criminal investigation. (Photo by Yana Paskova/Getty Images)
Roger Ailes in 1968 as Nixon Campaign Staffer

Roger Ailes, October 16th, 1968, campaign staff working for candidate Richard Nixon.

OCTOBER 16: Roger Ailes, campaign committee member for Republican presidential candidate Richard M. Nixon, is pictured on Oct. 16, 1968. (Photo by Ed Farrand/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
You Are Critical To Our Success

I want to thank everyone who has subscribed to TPM Prime and especially our new members who subscribed to Prime this year. We have signed up over 2,800 new members this year, bringing us to just over 26,000 total members. We need to get above 30,000 this year. I wanted to take this opportunity to remind everyone that it is Prime and subscription revenues that have allowed TPM to buck the tide of so many other digital publications retrenching or laying off staff or folding altogether. On the contrary, we’ve managed to continue our modest, incremental growth. That is because of the more durable and robust subscription-focused business model we’ve built together over the last three years.

Subscription revenues are now approaching half our budget. Many now subscribe to Prime because of the writing and reporting available only to subscribers. But it’s Prime that makes all our public reporting and coverage possible too. It’s what sends Tierney Sneed to Kansas to cover the Kris Kobach trial. It’s what sends Cam Joseph to Alabama to cover the Jones-Moore senate race. It’s what sends Allegra Kirkland down to the federal courthouse in Lower Manhattan to cover the Michael Cohen raid hearings.

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Everything Important That Happened

Allegra Kirkland sums up all the critical developments in the Russia probe in this week’s Weekly Primer (Prime access).

Also see this week’s Weekly Primer’s on Voting Rights/Democracy and the Fight for Obamacare.

Comey Memos: Clear Proof Trump Repeatedly Lied About His Trip To Moscow

There are a host of revelations and confirmations in the Comey memos released yesterday evening. I want to zero in on one point: The President repeatedly and demonstrably lied about his November 2013 trip to Moscow. This is the visit in which the ‘pee tape’ was purportedly recorded. There’s no evidence in the memos that that tape exists or that the President spent the night with prostitutes. But again, he clearly and repeatedly lies about the trip itself, specifically how long he was there. This seems highly significant to me.

Let’s look at the details. Read More

The Latest Hopeful Sign For Dems

In covering any election, it’s easy to get hung up on winners and losers. After all,
that’s kind of the point.

But if we’re interested in what this year’s special elections tell us about November, the winner doesn’t matter much. A very red district swinging 20 points toward Dems compared to the last election, even while Republicans narrowly hold on, is a much worse sign for the GOP than a more competitive district swinging five points and leading to a Dem pickup.

All this explains why, even though Dems are likely to lose a special election for a congressional seat in a deep red Arizona district next week, they’re feeling pretty good about it. Cam Joseph has the details.

Comey Memos

We have the complete Comey Memos right here.

Nice exclusive from TPM’s Cam Joseph.

‘It’s Relatively Remote’

TPM Reader KM gives us some color on the El Caribe social club …

Being from Brooklyn, I wanted to drill down on exactly where it is and give it some color.

It’s actually in Mill Basin. It may not matter to a national audience, but that’s actually a few neighborhoods away from Russian immigrant communities of Brighton Beach and Sheepshead Bay. It’s off the Marine Park / Flatlands neighborhoods.

Read More

Is Rudy About To Have His Time in The Barrel?

So Rudy Giuliani is joining President Trump’s legal team, a guy who’s never really been a defense litigator and hasn’t been a prosecutor in thirty years. He says he’s joining to “negotiate an end” to the Mueller probe. This sounds like another example of selling the President on comical nonsense like Ty Cobb’s assurances that the Mueller probe would wrap up in late 2017. But here’s another thing to keep in mind. Does Rudy have his own legal trouble coming down the pike?

Check out this Reuters piece about the DOJ Inspector General’s probe … Read More

Podcast “Extra” on Michael Cohen

We’ve learned so much new information about Michael Cohen just in the last 36 hours – about the Russia mob, how he got the job with Trump – that we decided we needed to do an update on Tuesday’s episode, which had all the Michael Cohen information as of Tuesday. Here’s the new episode and here’s Tuesday’s. If you’ve already subscribed to the podcast on iTunes or Google Play, it’s already on your device.

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 13: Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's attorney, takes a phone call near the Loews Regency hotel on Park Ave on April 13, 2018 in New York City. Following FBI raids on his home, office and hotel room, the Department of Justice announced that they are placing him under criminal investigation. (Photo by Yana Paskova/Getty Images)
Why Dems Need Two Big Elections In Ohio

TPM’s Alice Ollstein just spent a couple days in Ohio getting a read on the political situation and upcoming redistricting. The points about redistricting are key. Prime Editor John Light just sat down (virtually) with Dave Daley to discuss the critical points about what’s going to be necessary in 2018 and 2020. Read it here (Prime access).

‘Michael Will Never Stand Up’

Yesterday we reported that the law firm representing Michael Cohen in both the Russia investigation and the federal probe into Cohen’s own finances has received payments from the Trump campaign. That could complicate any efforts by prosecutors to get Cohen to cooperate against the president.

And today comes additional evidence that the possibility of Cohen flipping is at the forefront of Trump’s mind. A lawyer who has worked for Trump in the past tells the Wall Street Journal that when the president called him for advice last week, he cautioned that Trump shouldn’t count on Cohen staying strong if he’s charged with serious crimes.

“Michael will never stand up” for you, the lawyer, Jay Goldberg, says he told Trump.

And let’s take a step back: All this talk about Cohen potentially flipping on Trump assumes up front that the president has done things that could put him in severe legal jeopardy. At this point, no one seems to be making much effort to deny that.

Couldn’t Survive Light Of Day

Arizona GOP lawmakers appear to have abandoned their attempt to rig the game for potential McCain successor, at least for now.

More on the Michael Cohen Money Trail

Yesterday we noted that Michael Cohen grew up around the Brooklyn social club that served as the headquarters of the bosses of the Russian mob from the 1970s to the 1990s. Today we discussed the role of Cohen’s father-in-law Fima Shusterman, an immigrant from Ukraine. Shusterman had been in the taxi business for decades before Cohen got into the business and it was with loans and medallions from Shusterman that Cohen got his start. According to a former federal investigator who spoke to Seth Hettena, Cohen “was given the job with the Trump Org as a favor to Shusterman.” Read More

Cohen-ology Pays Off After All
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 13: Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's attorney, chats with friends near the Loews Regency hotel on Park Ave on April 13, 2018 in New York City. Following FBI raids on his home, office and hotel room, the Department of Justice announced that they are placing him under criminal investigation. (Photo by Yana Paskova/Getty Images)

Yesterday afternoon I had one of those epiphanies about a story I usually have no more than once every few years. It was partly triggered by details I put in this post about Michael Cohen. But it wasn’t about that alone. It was the sum of a dozen developments since the raid on Cohen’s homes and office last Monday. Starting over a year ago we focused our resources tightly on Cohen, Sater and an assortment of lesser capos and goodfellas in the Trump syndicate. Read More

For Those Hoping Cohen Might Flip…

This is one of those facts that’s been sort of hiding in plain sight: The law firm representing Michael Cohen in the federal probe into his financial dealings has been paid recently by Trump’s campaign.

To be clear, those payments may have been for representing Cohen in the Russia investigation, not in the financial probe. Or, conceivably, for something totally different, though that seems unlikely.

Still, these are the lawyers who were fighting this week to shield Trump-Cohen communications from prosecutors. Which raises questions about whose interests are being represented.

Allegra Kirkland explains why it matters.

Keep Up On These Critical Stories

With such an avalanche of news on the Trump and Cohen fronts, it’s easy to lose track of other critical stories. That makes this week’s Weekly Primers on Voting Rights and Democracy and The Battle Over Obamacare and Health Care Policy must reads. Take three minutes to read the Primer on each topic and you’ll never be behind.

Good Grief. Cohen’s World Gets Mobbier The Closer I Look
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 16: Michael Cohen leaves Federal Court after his hearing on the FBI raid of his hotel room and office on April 16, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Yana Paskova/Getty Images)

In today’s podcast, we look into the background of Michael Cohen. TPM first reported last year that Cohen was actually a childhood friend of Felix Sater, whose father was himself a reputed capo in the Mogilevich organized crime syndicate, said to be Russia’s largest and most dangerous. Filling out this picture of how Cohen fell into this milieu we’ve always been focused on the fact that Cohen’s uncle, Morton Levine, owned and ran a Brooklyn social club, El Caribe, which was a well-known meeting spot for members of Italian and Russian organized crime families in the 1970s and 1980s. (Levine, a medical doctor has never been charged with a crime.) But now it turns out there’s a bit more to this story. Read More

Your Weekly Primers

Get caught up on all that’s happened in the last week relating on two of TPM’s core issues: voting rights and democracy and the battle over the future of Obamacare (Prime access).

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 13: Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's attorney, takes a phone call near the Loews Regency hotel on Park Ave on April 13, 2018 in New York City. Following FBI raids on his home, office and hotel room, the Department of Justice announced that they are placing him under criminal investigation. (Photo by Yana Paskova/Getty Images)
Summa Co(he)neyettica

Today’s Episode of The Josh Marshall Podcast is a bit different. Want to know how Donald Trump got this deep in with Michael Cohen? Where Cohen came from? We pack the whole story into a single episode from the early days at the mob social club with Felix and the crew (a la Spider and Henry Hill) to the Ukraine-money-backed taxi and casino cruise businesses, his Ukraine based operations, the big prize tens of millions dollar investments in New York City real estate. Trump brought Cohen in to the Trump Organization because he was a conduit for Russian and Ukrainian money. In the last ten years Cohen has touched virtually every part of the Russia story and Trump’s vast and opaque business dealings around the country and the world. Trump is worried because he should be worried. In this episode we explain why. I’m joined by my co-host David Taintor and TPM Reporter Allegra Kirkland who covers the Cohen beat and was in the court room downtown Friday and yesterday. Listen on iTunes or Google Play or use our Podcast RSS feed. If you’re on iTunes or Google Play please subscribe. That helps us build audience. We hope you enjoy.