BRET STEPHENS: Donald Trump's high crimes and misdemeanors

Saturday, 25 Aug, 2018

US President Donald Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani warned of a "people's revolt" if his client, the President, is impeached, even as the walls appeared to close in on the White House occupant with some of his closest aides bailing out on him. Cohen says on the tape that he'd already spoken about the payment with Weisselberg on "how to set the whole thing up". He told a federal court in NY that Trump had directed him to arrange payments before the 2016 presidential election to silence two women who said they had sex with Trump.

Trump's stewardship of the economy has been a rare bright spot in an administration that has otherwise lurched from crisis to scandal, bleeding staff as it goes.

Speaking to Fox & Friends host Ainsley Earhardt in an interview broadcast Thursday, the president said: 'I would give myself an A+. At a White House briefing, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders insisted at least seven times that Mr Trump had done nothing wrong and was not the subject of criminal charges.

The Cohen and Manafort cases ratchet up political pressure on Trump and fellow Republicans ahead of November elections in which Democrats are seeking to take control of Congress, Reuters noted.

Critics describe the tax cut as an unsustainable and unfunded stimulus package for the rich that will fuel a boom-and-bust dynamic.

Trump was apparently referring to a fine levied on the former president's 2008 campaign over missing and delayed disclosure of high-dollar donors in the final days of that race.

Manafort faces separate charges in September in the District of Columbia that include acting as a foreign agent.

Michael Cohen pictured leaving Manhattan Federal Courthouse on Tuesday after admitting campaign finance violations.

"My first question when I heard about it was, 'Did they come out of the campaign?' because that could be a little dicey", he said of the payments - believed to have been made to porn star Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal.

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Cohen had said Tuesday he secretly used shell companies to make payments used to silence former Playboy model Karen McDougal and adult-film actress Stormy Daniels for the goal of influencing the 2016 election.

Because the hush payments were meant to influence the outcome of the elections, they violated United States laws governing campaign contributions, making Trump an - as yet - unindicted co-conspirator. "You know, they make up stories".

The president's story about Cohen's payments has changed multiple times over the past year, and in the Fox interview he tried several ways of defusing the allegations.

He said campaign violations are "not a big deal, frankly" but the threat of prosecution incentivized Cohen to "make up lies" to get a better plea deal.

Despite Trump's defiant tone, Washington-based campaign finance expert Kate Belinski, of the Nossaman law firm, said to expect legal consequences for both Trump and his campaign - most likely in the form of a civil complaint before the Federal Election Commission.

The subpoena came after Cohen's attorney Lanny Davis said Tuesday on CNN that Cohen had information that "would be of interest both in Washington and in NY state" as it relates to the Trump Foundation.

The US president lauded the 69-year-old Manafort for leaving his fate to a jury rather than striking a plea deal - a move that has sparked speculation Manafort hopes for a pardon.

"One of the reasons I respect Paul Manafort so much is he went through that trial", Trump said.

According to Steele, Cohen and three associates visited Prague in order to meet with Kremlin officials as part of a conspiracy to pay hackers to obtain dirt on former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.