Editor’s Blog

Let’s Keep An Eye on This

One sub-thread to the Cohen investigation is that the US Attorney in Manhattan (SDNY) recused himself from involvement in the case. It’s been assumed that that was because of his ties to Trump. Trump appointed him (he hasn’t actually been confirmed yet or technically even nominated). He made campaign contributions to candidate Trump and even did some work on the transition. But most notably he sat for a personal interview with the President while he was being considered for the post. That is entirely irregular, though there’s no particular rule against it. It’s been widely assumed that some combination of those factors triggered Berman’s recusal. But this new New York Times piece suggests that’s not the case. Read More

We Need to Pay Very Close Attention to These Arguments

President Trump’s lawyers last night argued that the DOJ can’t be trusted to review the materials seized from Michael Cohen. Now Cohen’s lawyer are arguing that taking it out of the DOJ’s hands will protect the investigation from the toxic atmosphere created by all the attacks on the DOJ (which of course are all coming from President Trump and his allies.)

Got Yourself a Gun

I think this video captures Friday and the Michael Cohen story.

Making Sense of the Michael Cohen Drama

What on earth is going on with the Michael Cohen investigation? Here’s my stab at putting together the big picture (sub req.)

The Cohen-Davidson Syndicate, Part 3

There’s lots of news bubbling this evening on the Cohen raids front. But I want to flag a particular issue that requires more attention. I invite feedback from lawyers and prosecutors and for that matter lawyers who are engaged in criminal conduct.

We have new news on that third Michael Cohen husher, the one with Trump fundraiser and RNC deputy finance chair Elliott Broidy and an unnamed former Playboy model. As with the earlier two it was ‘negotiated’ by Cohen representing Broidy and Keith Davidson representing the unnamed woman. The settlement was for $1.6 million. Read More

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)
Can You Identify This Person?

[ed.note: Not a certain identification yet. But based on TPM Reader tips and pointers so far, it seems highly likely that this is in fact Rotem Rosen.]

I need your help identifying someone in this photo.

Here’s an enlarged version of the photo. Read More

Trump Orders Strikes On Syria

Expecting news from the White House shortly. Vice President Pence rushed back to his hotel in Peru, and reporters at the White House were told to gather a few minutes ago. Anticipate something from the president on Syria.

Late Update: The President will address the nation on Syria at 9 p.m. ET. Watch live:

Read More

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)
Choose Your Caption

This photo from today captures a lot.

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)
NEW YORK, NY – APRIL 13: Michael Cohen, U.S. President Donald Trump’s personal attorney, takes a call near the Loews Regency hotel on Park Ave on April 13, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Yana Paskova/Getty Images)
The Cohen-Davidson Syndicate Again

I mentioned below that the report from The Wall Street Journal about the hush agreement negotiated by Michael Cohen for Elliott Broidy, a top Trump fundraiser, is a key, new connection between the hush money payoffs and the Russia probe proper. Broidy is tied to the murky shenanigans of George Nader, with money payoffs from the Gulf states and the Russia/Seychelles back channel. But there are some key details about this agreement itself. Read More

It’s All Connected
Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's personal attorney, arrives on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017. Cohen is schedule to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee in a closed session. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

The Wall Street Journal just published a stunning scoop. In 2017 Michael Cohen negotiated a $1.6 million hush deal for a major GOP fundraiser named Elliott Broidy, deputy finance chairman of the RNC. If that name rings a bell, it should. Broidy is at the center of the part of the Russia probe involving the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and international fixer and convicted pedophile George Nader. Read More

Report from The Court Room

TPM’s Allegra Kirkland was in the federal courthouse this morning when lawyers for Michael Cohen and (unexpectedly) President Trump argued to suppress or at least get a first look at material seized in the raids on Monday. Here’s Allegra’s report.

Heads Up

First word coming out of the federal courthouse in Manhattan is that President Trump is personally represented by counsel as it’s hashed out whether the records seized by the FBI in its raids on Michael Cohen are protected by attorney-client privilege. More soon …

The Comey Myth

As we prepare for an avalanche of hagiography and character assassination about James Comey, I want to flag this piece I wrote last May about the ‘Comey Myth’, how it came to be and Comey’s central role in creating and cultivating it. As I argue it is in many, most ways accurate. But Comey himself is perhaps the greatest devotee and believer in the Comey myth and that’s one of the reasons why he made severally critical bad judgments in 2016.

Hearing at Federal Courthouse This Morning on the Cohen Raids

News came out overnight that there’s a hearing this morning on the Michael Cohen searches/raids at 10:30 AM before Judge Kimba Wood at the federal courthouse in Lower Manhattan. TPM’s Allegra Kirkland is at the courthouse and will be in courtroom this morning. All that is known at this point is that the hearing relates to the Cohen raids. We don’t know more than that, though it seems logical to assume it’s an effort on the part of Cohen’s attorneys to throw out the fruits of those searches. We’ll bring you more when more details are available.

Cohen Asks for Lawsuit Pause Over 5th Amendment Rights

In a new legal filing, attorneys for Michael Cohen request a pause on the Stormy Daniels civil litigation because of Cohen’s possible need to invoke his 5th Amendment rights. Read More

What Did Trump Tell Rosenstein Today – and Vice Versa?
Longtime federal prosecutor Rod Rosenstein arrives at the Senate Judiciary Committee for his confirmation hearing to be deputy attorney, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, March 7, 2017. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

We’ve now had numerous instances in which President Trump has taken some dramatically inappropriate or illegal steps but we only learn about it much, much later. Look what happened today. I strongly suspect we now have another example.

Earlier today, the White House press aide Lindsay Walters announced that today: “Rod Rosenstein met with the president at the White House regarding routine department business.” Read More

The President is a Fool

The President is saying he might want to rejoin TPP.

From the PostRead More

The Trump/Rosenstein Russian Nesting Doll of Nonsense
WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 13: U.S. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein testifies during a a House Judiciary Committee hearing on December 13, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Zach Gibson/Getty Images)

Note that there is an emerging attack from the White House that suggests that Rod Rosenstein must recuse himself because he has a conflict of interest in overseeing the Mueller probe. The conflict is this: Mueller is investigating the firing of James Comey as a central part of his investigation of potential obstruction of justice. But Rosenstein was a central player in that firing. He wrote the memo that Trump used to justify Comey’s ouster.

As you can see, the argument is not that crazy in itself. There are in fact many people who have suggested that Rosenstein should recuse himself. But note the position in which this puts the White House. The President is saying that Rosenstein can’t oversee the probe because he was a central actor in one of the President’s alleged bad acts that is under investigation. Read More

Who Was Working With Michael Cohen?

We know for a fact that Michael Cohen arranged a hush agreement with Stormy Daniels. He was at least involved in The National Enquirer’s ‘catch & kill’ purchase of the story of alleged Trump girlfriend Karen McDougal. This afternoon we’ve learned that FBI agents who raided the homes and office of Michael Cohen were looking for information about the Access Hollywood tape, at least suggesting that investigators believe he may have been involved in (unsuccessful) efforts to suppress that tape. We know enough to say that Michael Cohen was clearly on the Trump sex and assaults beat throughout the fall of 2016.

Who was he working with? Read More