Donald Trump’s habit of tweeting every insane thought that comes into his head has always been a liability, in that it paints a picture of an unwell man not fit to be left alone unsupervised, let alone run the country. But, as the Mueller report showed, the president’s social-media musings can come back to haunt him, such as when his tweeting about Paul Manafort was cited as possible evidence of obstruction. So you might think that the president would shy away from saying or writing anything that could be used against him when it comes to potential impeachment proceedings—growing more likely by the day!—or future criminal indictments, but then you’d catch yourself and realize that was obvious crazy talk. Instead, Trump has tweeted about the Russia probe more than 50 times in the the days since the redacted Mueller report was released, with increasingly forceful attacks on former White House counsel Don McGahn, who Trump allies fear could help lawmakers build a case for impeachment. Indeed, reports Politico, going on a rage-filled vendetta against McGahn, who knows where all Trump’s bodies are buried, is probably one of the president’s dumber ideas:
Team Trump’s bellicose tweets and public statements in the last few days are potentially exposing Trump to fresh charges of witness intimidation, obstruction of justice, and impeding a congressional investigation—not to mention giving lawmakers more fodder for their presidential probes—according to Democrats and legal experts.
Already, a fusillade of verbal assaults aimed at former White House counsel Don McGahn, a star witness in the Mueller report, have sparked questions about obstruction and witness intimidation as Democrats fight the Trump White House to get McGahn’s documents and testimony . . . The months ahead are also littered with a bevy of opportunities that could entice Trump to offer more barbed opinions—and more material for his investigators. His longtime associate Roger Stone goes on trial this November, tempting Trump to weigh in like he did during Paul Manafort’s trial, when the president posted tweets that were later cited in the Mueller report as evidence of obstruction.
“This is risky,” William Jeffress, a Washington defense attorney, told reporters Darren Samuelsohn, Andrew Desiderio, and Kyle Cheney. “I find it surprising because he’s taking these shots at witnesses who gave information to Mueller, and I think he’s got to be careful because there’s an explicit federal statute punishing retaliation against witnesses.”
Trump allies, of course, disagree and are seemingly intent on egging him on. “I don’t think he’s afraid of anything,” said longtime associate Michael Caputo, theorizing that the president’s online tirades are part of some kind of three-dimensional chess game, and that he’s deploying a “briar-patch strategy trying to tempt the Democrats into a suicidal venture of impeachment.” Joe diGenova, an “informal Trump legal adviser,” also claimed Trump had nothing to worry about, telling Politico, “The president is doing exactly the right thing.”
Legal experts, however, beg to differ:
. . . many see the president’s continuous chatter as ripe material for federal prosecutors if they decided to take the monumental step of pursuing Trump after he’s out of office. While Mueller nodded to long-standing Justice Department legal opinions that a sitting president can’t be indicted as he explained his decision not to conclude whether Trump obstructed justice, he also included a footnote near the end of his report highlighting the risks that Trump nonetheless faces in both Congress and the courts.
Essentially, legal experts say, Mueller is signaling that Trump could face criminal charges even if he was impeached. Any prosecutors who indict Trump after he’s out of office would be working with a five-year statute of limitations on obstruction of justice cases. That means the president could only be exposed for any behavior during his first term if he doesn’t win re-election next November. But anything Trump does from here on out would keep restarting that five-year clock, meaning a second term wouldn’t make him bulletproof.
“It’s clear that the White House plans to obstruct all legitimate congressional oversight, just like Trump obstructed in Mueller’s probe at every turn, and witnesses previously obstructed our committee,” a House Intelligence Committee source said, arguing that the panel is “uniquely positioned” to investigate obstruction of its own probes, should the running commentary from Team Trump continue. “They’re acting like a scene out of America’s Dumbest Criminals,” said Julian Epstein, a chief counsel for House Judiciary Committee Democrats during the Clinton impeachment. “They just keep fueling a fire that has been the bane of their two years in the White House.”
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Ivanka Trump’s women’s entrepreneur conference went really well
And by well we mean confused attendees were treated to a rambling monologue about terrorists by Senator Lindsey Graham, who the First Daughter apparently thought would make a great guest speaker:
“It’s the enemy of mankind, not just the United States,” Graham said, of the theoretical invaders, according to a recording provided to The Daily Beast. “Some of our soldiers will be needed, but not a lot. Most of the fighting will be done by people in the region. I promise you the enemy will lose because very few mothers or fathers want to turn their daughters over to ISIS, al Qaeda, or any other group.”
As the senator spoke, confused attendees could be heard on the recording asking each other in hushed tones what he was talking about. Graham and Trump, along with an American delegation that included Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE), were in Côte d’Ivoire to participate in the Women Entrepreneurship Finance Initiative (We-Fi). The initiative, an idea first proposed by Trump in 2017, is housed in the World Bank and is a global partnership with governments, banks, and other stakeholders. Its goal is to raise money to help prop up women-owned businesses.
“We’re going to win this struggle,” Graham told the group, according to The Daily Beast. “The only question is how long does it take and how many must die.”
Kushner mocked to his face about M.B.S. bromance
If only the camera had panned to get his reaction, à la actors at the Oscars:
Comedian Hasan Minhaj had the mic for a few minutes at Tuesday night’s Time 100 gala and he used the opportunity to call out Jared Kushner for his close relationship with Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman.
“I know there’s a lot of very powerful people here, and it would be crazy if there was a high-ranking official in the White House that could WhatsApp M.B.S. and say, ‘Hey, maybe you could help that person get out of prison because they don’t deserve it,’” Minhaj said as he appeared to stare at Kushner. “But hey, that person would have to be in the room. It’s just a good comedy premise.”
Earlier in the day, Kushner—who really does uses WhatsApp to chat with his favorite Middle East dictator according to one former administration official—claimed that Russia’s election meddling amounted to buying “a couple of Facebook ads,” and was nothing compared to the “damage” inflicted on the country by the Mueller investigation.
Facebook: so, um, we might have some legal bills to pay
No biggie but they could be as high as $5 billion, thanks to that whole letting-Cambridge-Analytica-access-user-data-incident:
Facebook took a $3 billion charge due to the Federal Trade Commission’s inquiry into its business, the company disclosed in its first quarter 2019 earnings report. Facebook estimated the final charge could be as much as $5 billion for the company. “The matter remains unresolved, and there can be no assurance as to the timing or the terms of any final outcome,” the company wrote in its release.
The F.T.C. launched an investigation into Facebook after the Cambridge Analytica scandal broke, probing whether Facebook violated a 2011 agreement it made with the agency that required it to gain explicit consent to share users data. Although the F.T.C. has previously declined to confirm the status of the investigation, The Washington Post reported in January that the agency is considering a “record-setting fine” against the company for failing to protect users’ data.
Michael Cohen, in Recorded Phone Call with Actor Tom Arnold, Walks Back Parts of Guilty Plea (W.S.J.)
Amazon’s Alexa Team Can Access Users’ Home Addresses (Bloomberg)
DOJ staff push for Goldman guilty plea in 1MDB case (Financial Times)
Gen Z is accepting—then “ghosting”—jobs: study (N.Y.P.)
“Wedding shaming” is taking off on social media (N.Y.P.)
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