Quick Takes: Giuliani Gives a Roadmap for How Trump’s Bagman Works

A roundup of news that caught my eye today.

* Josh Marshall relayed this significant insight from “someone steeped in anti-corruption enforcement (both domestic and foreign) on the prosecution and defense side.”

As we already know, Michael Cohen is the prototypical fixer or bagman…The bagman’s job is to get bribe money to people while insulating and giving deniability to the ultimate payor of the bribe…

Trump is a major real estate developer in NY who has openly bragged about his ability to cut through red tape and get politicians in his pocket. We now have serious SDNY public corruption prosecutors and FBI agents in possession of a massive amount of electronic data from his bagman. They likely already have all of his financial records as well. And Rudy has now given them the roadmap for how Trump may have laundered bribes through Cohen as purported legal fees or retainer payments. Every invoice Cohen has ever issued to Trump is suspect. Every corrupt payment Cohen has ever made or facilitated to building inspectors, councilmen, pornstars, or whomever can potentially be tied back to Trump. In addition, I suspect Trump and his kids had a false sense of comfort that their communications with Cohen would be privileged. I am convinced this is why Trump and his family are freaking out about the Cohen raid and the possibility he could flip. The SDNY is sitting on the mother lode of evidence and Rudy has given them the connection between purported legal fees and payments by Cohen to third parties.

In case it wasn’t clear why the Trump family is so worried about the Cohen investigation, there ya go.

* Ethical violations are probably not major concerns for people like Cohen and Giuliani, but nevertheless…

* Trump tweeted this yesterday:

Giuliani followed up with this on Fox and Friends this morning:

Three Americans held in a North Korean prison are set to be released, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani said Thursday.

“We got Kim Jong Un impressed enough to be releasing three prisoners today,” Giuliani, a member of President Donald Trump’s legal team, said on “Fox & Friends.”

Here’s the catch: even with this (hopefully) good news, Trump couldn’t avoid lying.

The three Americans, Kim Dong Chul, Kim Hak-song and Kim Sang Duk, also known as Tony Kim, have been detained in North Korea for months. Kim Dong Chul has been in North Korean custody since before Trump was elected, and the other two detainees were arrested last spring, after Trump’s inauguration and as tensions between Washington and Pyongyang were beginning to ramp up.

* I have tried to avoid the rumors about staff exits from the White House until they actually happen. But the rumors have so often proven to be true that I’ve begun to wonder if it’s not time to start taking things like this seriously.

The president has come to believe that Mr. Kelly is hiding things from him, in the view of people who work in the White House and insist on anonymity to describe private conversations. He has complained that Mr. Kelly has not been forthcoming about the pasts of some staff members, who either opposed him during the 2016 presidential primaries or had connections to the Bush family. And he has taken to venting about Mr. Kelly to an array of friends and supporters, while expressing confidence that recent successes — such as the continued strength of the economy and progress toward nuclear disarmament talks with North Korea — are proof that he is his own best adviser…

The result is that Mr. Kelly now finds himself in the position where several others who have worked for Mr. Trump have landed: aware that their jobs have become close to untenable, looking for ways to cauterize the wounds to their reputations and knowing that it is only a matter of when — not if — they will have to leave.

* Obviously Mitch McConnell has no shame about being a total hypocrite. Here he is after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in February 2016— a year before a new president would be sworn in:

“The American people‎ should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice. Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president,” McConnell said in a statement.

Here is is today—six months before the November midterms:

“Well, we’re going to continue to confirm judges all year. You know, the Congress doesn’t stop with the elections. It goes until the end of the year. We’re going to do six more next week, which will bring us to 21. I’m processing them as quickly as they come out of the Judiciary Committee, and the administration’s sending them up rapidly. I don’t know what the final number is, but my goal, Hugh, is to confirm all the circuit and district court judges that come out of committee this calendar year. All of them.”

* Finally, this story pretty well sums up what is happening in this country today—both the progress and the sick blowback.

The three D.C. students couldn’t believe the news. They’d developed a method to purify lead-contaminated water in school drinking fountains, and NASA announced last month that they were finalists in the agency’s prestigious high school competition — the only all-black, female team to make it that far.

“Hidden figures in the making,” one of the teens wrote in a celebratory text message to her teammates and coaches, a reference to the 2016 movie about the true story of three African American women who worked for NASA in the 1960s.

The next stage of the science competition included public voting, and the Banneker High School students — Mikayla Sharrieff, India Skinner and Bria Snell, all 17-year-old high school juniors — turned to social media to promote their project.

But while the teens were gaining traction on social media and racking up votes, users on 4chan — an anonymous Internet forum where users are known to push hoaxes and spew racist and homophobic comments — were trying to ensure the students wouldn’t win.

The anonymous posters used racial epithets, argued that the students’ project did not deserve to be a finalist and said that the black community was voting for the teens only because of their race. They urged people to vote against the Banneker trio, and one user offered to put the topic on an Internet thread about President Trump to garner more attention. They recommended computer programs that would hack the voting system to give a team of teenage boys a boost.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.