(Door Hugo Kijne te Hoboken USA)
The week started with a kerfuffle about the White House Correspondents Dinner, an incestuous annual event from which Donald Trump was absent because he can neither take nor tell a joke. As a result Sarah Huckabee-Sanders became the butt of some of the comedian Michelle Wolff’s jokes, one about her dressing habits and one about her napalm eye make-up, and Wolff suggested that the world would be better off without Kellyann Conway, who was also attending. In a response, Conway tweeted ‘if one woman is attacked, is then every woman attacked?’ which is kind of funny for a woman who day in day out defends a man who has attacked more women than probably anybody else in the country except Harvey Weinstein. It was a storm in a teacup, and it disappeared from the newscasts when a list of 49 topics Robert Mueller wants to interview Trump about was leaked to the press, apparently by someone in the environment of Trump’s legal team. The general speculation was that the list was leaked to discourage the president, who immediately falsely claimed that the list absolved him from collusion with the Russians, from sitting down with Mueller.
After the list had been published Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s new lawyer after Ty Cobb had ‘retired’ with two hours notice, sprang into action. In a softball interview with Sean Hannity Hizzoner blew the strategy Trump’s legal team had been following so far out of the water, by declaring that Trump had fired James Comey because he didn’t want to state publicly that Trump was not a target in the collusion investigation, and that Trump had reimbursed Michael Cohen for the $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels. The next morning on Fox & Friends Rudy made things worse by saying that the payment to Stormy was made because of the upcoming election. It is unclear if Giuliani went rogue or if the president knew what he was going to say, but the result was that Trump threw him under the bus, telling reporters that Hizzoner had only just started and someday would get his facts right. Subsequently Giuliani had to eat crow, by putting out a statement that the president had the right to fire Comey for any reason or no reason at all, that what he had said was his understanding, not Trump’s, and that the payment to Stormy would have been made anyway, election or not, for Melania’s sake.
Trump had already put himself on a slippery slope by first denying that he knew anything about the payment to Stormy, then acknowledging that Cohen had represented him, and finally admitting that he had reimbursed Cohen, but with his own money, which in his eyes made the payment not campaign related. In the meantime Michael Avenatti, Stormy’s lawyer, claims that there were extensive communications between Stormy’s ex-lawyer and Cohen about the payment, showing a clear connection to the election.
Rudy’s fumble weakened Trump’s position in the Mueller probe, because it makes clear that the firing of Comey was a attempt to obstruct justice, but also in the Michael Cohen case, because either the payment or the reimbursement was a campaign contribution that should have been reported. Trump’s other new lawyer, Emmet Flood, Bill Clinton’s former impeachment specialist, will have a hell of a job cleaning up after Hizzoner.
Meanwhile in New York Trump’s former physician, Dr. Bornstein, revealed that Trump’s former body guard, Keith Schiller, and a lawyer for the Trump organization had raided his office and taken Trump’s medical records. According to Sarah Huckabee-Sanders this was standard procedure, which may lead to a joke at the next correspondents dinner.
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