Malum prohibitum ad absurdum

Diverse — Drokles on August 27, 2018 at 12:05 pm

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Det meste er bag en betalingsmur, inklusiv deres leder(?), så jeg vil ikke forholde mig til indholdet af Politikens fremlægning af alting Trump, der sikkert er i tråd med Jyllands-Postens, andet end at lade det illustrere via omfanget af omtale og skæbnesymfoniske overskrifter. En anden artikel på Politiken om “Trumps Inderkreds: De sigtede, de mistænkte og de forsvundne” indledes med sætningen “Den særlige anklager i Trump-Rusland sagen står stærkt efter dom over Trumps kampagneboss”. Den er også bag betalingsvæg, hvorfor man ikke kan hvorfor en dom over Manafort, der var kampagnechef i to måneder og som blev fyret efter det kom frem at han tidligere havde havde lavet lobby arbejde for ukrainske interesser uden at oplyse det til de relevante myndigheder og er blevet dømt for banksvindel og skattesnyd begået for ti år siden, skulle være knyttet til Trump, Rusland eller Trump-Rusland sagen.

Cohen, der tidligere har fastslået at betalingen af tidligere påståede elskerinder af Trump for deres tavshed, ikke var kampagnebidrag, har nu, hvor han har indgået et forlig, plea-bargain, om anklagerne imod ham for banksvindel og skattefusk, med ‘Muellers 17 vrede Demokrater’, hvis egentlige mål er Trump, erklæret sig skyldig i alligevel at have givet et kampagnebidrag af en ulovlig størrelse på vegne af en velvidende Trump. Cohens advokat, Lanny Davies, er en del af Clinton og Demokraternes kreds

SÅ lidt ekspertise er er vel på plads. Andrew C McCarthy sætter lidt perspektiv på forbrydelsens omfang, skulle Trump have begået en sådan

The Justice Department has a history of treating serious campaign-finance transgressions as administrative violations, not felonies. A prominent example: The 2008 Obama campaign accepted nearly $2 million in illegal campaign contributions, but was permitted to settle the matter with a $375,000 fine. Of course, the force of that argument is undermined considerably by the fact that Cohen’s infraction has been treated as a felony (as was Dinesh D’Souza’s comparatively tiny one, also prosecuted by the U.S. attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York).

Still, as we’ve repeatedly pointed out, Justice Department guidance does not permit the indictment of a sitting president. (A president may be prosecuted once he leaves office.) The issue for President Trump is not whether he has committed a crime but whether he has committed a high crime and misdemeanor. On that score, I will repeat what I said about mitigation in the aforementioned column, drawing on the lessons of the Clinton impeachment misadventure in the late Nineties:

The further removed misconduct is from the core responsibilities of the presidency, the less political support there will be for the president’s removal from office. This is critical because impeachment is a political remedy, not a legal one. The way the Framers designed the process — which requires just a simple House majority to file articles of impeachment, but a two-thirds Senate super-majority for removal — no president will ever be removed from office absent misconduct egregious enough to spur a consensus for removal that cuts across partisan lines. Such misconduct would surely have to involve either (a) an abuse of power involving core presidential powers; or (b) an extremely serious crime (if unrelated, or only tangentially related, to presidential power).

The conduct here is not of the egregious nature that rises to high crimes and misdemeanors — it is an infraction committed by many political candidates and often not even prosecuted. More to the point, it is remote from the core responsibilities of the presidency, implicating pre-election actions to conceal alleged indiscretions that occurred a decade earlier. And while the president has denied the indiscretions, it is not like the allegations come as any surprise to the public, who, while well aware of his flaws, elected Donald Trump nonetheless.

(Mere om det udramatiske i Obamas 2008 kampagnerod kan man læse hos Politico, for fuld nørderi). Og Andrew C McCarthy, Alan Dershowitz, Mark Levin og herunder Derek Hunter i Town Hall, har svært ved at se, der overhovedet skulle være tale om en lovovertrædelse for Trumps vedkommende

But in the guilty plea Cohen claims he committed campaign finance law violations to “influence the election.” This is where the wheels come off.

It doesn’t matter what Cohen thought he was doing, or why he thought he was doing it, what matters is the law. If Donald Trump had Cohen pay off these women then paid him back, that’s not illegal. Anyone, even a politician, can pay off anyone they want to keep quiet. Cohen’s plea says he did it to influence the election, but his motivation is irrelevant. What matters is the money.

If Trump paid to have his lawyer keep these women quiet, he was allowed to. Theoretically he wouldn’t have wanted this public because he’s married with children, and he was running for president and didn’t want it to be an issue. Whether he did it or not doesn’t matter, what matters is if he used campaign funds to pay Cohen or he paid out of his own pocket.

He’s allowed to pay people to sign non-disclosure agreements on any topic as long as the money comes out of his bank accounts or that of his business, no matter the motivation (though he’d have several unrelated to the campaign). He can’t use campaign funds to pay Cohen or pay himself back, and there’s no indication that he did.

Og Mark Penn fra The Hill, der ikke tilhører nyhedsorganisationer, der normalt indeholder et forsvar for Trump, spekulerer videre

The plot to get President Trump out of office thickens, as Cohen obviously was his own mini crime syndicate and decided that his betrayals meant he would be better served turning on his old boss to cut the best deal with prosecutors he could rather than holding out and getting the full Manafort treatment. That was clear the minute he hired attorney Lanny Davis, who does not try cases and did past work for Hillary Clinton. Cohen had recorded his client, trying to entrap him, sold information about Trump to corporations for millions of dollars while acting as his lawyer, and did not pay taxes on millions.

The sweetener for the prosecutors, of course, was getting Cohen to plead guilty to campaign violations that were not campaign violations. Money paid to people who come out of the woodwork and shake down people under threat of revealing bad sexual stories are not legitimate campaign expenditures. They are personal expenditures. That is true for both candidates we like and candidates we do not. Just imagine if candidates used campaign funds instead of their own money to pay folks like Stormy Daniels to keep quiet about affairs. They would get indicted for misuse of campaign funds for personal purposes and for tax evasion.

There appear to be two payments involved in this unusual agreement. Cohen pleaded guilty to a campaign violation for having “coordinated” the American Media payment to Karen McDougal for her story, not for actually making the payment. He is pleading guilty over a corporate contribution he did not make. Think about this for a minute. Suppose ABC paid Stormy Daniels for her story in coordination with Michael Avenatti or maybe even the law firm of the Democratic National Committee on the eve of the election.

By this reasoning, if the purpose of this money paid, just before the election, would be to hurt Trump and help Clinton win, this payment would be a corporate political contribution. If using it not to get Trump would be a corporate contribution, then using it to get Trump also has to be a corporate contribution. That is why neither are corporate contributions and this is a bogus approach to federal election law. Note that none of the donors in the 2012 John Edwards case faced any legal issues and the Federal Election Commission ruled their payments were not campaign contributions that had to be reported, both facts that prosecutors tried to suppress at trial.

Argumentet om at pengene var et de facto kampagne bidrag fordi det ville gavne Trumps kampagne rammer ind i en myriade af spørgsmål, thi man kan tænke sig allehånde eksempler på forbrug af penge, der kunne gavne en valgkamp fra nye tænder til kandidaten. Og, påpeger Dershowitz, “You don’t charge people with a crime when the law is vague”. Og Penn spekulerer videre

Contrast what is going on here with the treatment of the millions of dollars paid to a Democratic law firm which, in turn, paid out money to political research firm Fusion GPS and British spy Christopher Steele without listing them on any campaign expenditure form, despite crystal clear laws and regulations that the ultimate beneficiaries of the funds must be listed. This rule was even tightened recently. There is no question that hiring spies to do opposition research in Russia is a campaign expenditure, yet no prosecutorial raids have been sprung on the law firm, Fusion GPS or Steele. The reason? It does not “get” Trump.

So, Trump spends $130,000 to keep the lid on a personal story and the full weight of state prosecutors comes down on his lawyer, tossing attorney-client privilege to the wind. Democrats spend potentially millions on secret opposition research and no serious criminal investigation occurs. Remember that the feds tried a similar strategy against Democratic candidate Edwards six years ago and it failed. As Gregory Craig, a lawyer who worked both for President Clinton and Edwards, said, “The government theory is wrong on the facts and wrong on the law. It is novel and untested. There is no civil or criminal precedent for such a prosecution.” Tried it there anyway and it failed.

For noget andet seriøst nørderi kan jeg anbefale dette indlæg af Andrew C McCarthy, hvor bl.a kernen i ovennævnte John Edwards eksempel forklares.

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