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Trump's outrageous effort to undermine his investigators

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New York Times reported that President Donald Trump asked Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker to put a Trump-supporting, recused US attorney in charge of the investigation into Michael Cohen. CNN's Erin Burnett reports on the "explosive charges."

Posted: Feb 20, 2019 1:50 AM
Updated: Feb 20, 2019 1:50 AM

How many will be corrupted, plead guilty, endure convictions, or be sent to prison before the legal and political systems end the slow-motion national tragedy that is the Trump administration?

This is the logical question that must be asked in the wake of The New York Times revelation that the President has spent two years trying to subvert the investigation into his Russia connections.

The President has publicly criticized the probe more than 1,000 times, according to another New York Times article. Meanwhile, he has reportedly pressured a variety of officials to influence the investigation. This approach, which the Times says involves attempts at "intimidation" and "humiliation," imperiled officials whether they gave in to pressure from the President or not. Most recently, House Democrats are scrutinizing whether former acting attorney general Matthew Whitaker committed perjury when he denied that he was subject to Trump's pressuring, according to the New York Times. A spokeswoman for the Justice Department said that Whitaker is standing by his testimony, stating: "Under oath to the House Judiciary Committee, then-Acting Attorney General Whitaker stated that 'at no time has the White House asked for nor have I provided any promises or commitments concerning the special counsel's investigation or any other investigation."

In a reprise of his long-running effort to get Whitaker's predecessor Jeff Sessions to "un-recuse" himself from Russia matters, Trump allegedly asked Whitaker if it was possible to have the US attorney for the Southern District of New York, Geoffrey Berman, who had also recused himself due to a conflict of interest, take over the work his office was doing on the same issues, according to the New York Times. If Berman had taken over, he could have altered the prosecution of Trump's former attorney Michael Cohen.

Cohen has pleaded guilty to crimes committed in the payoff made to adult film star Stormy Daniels to prevent her from alleging an affair with Trump during the 2016 election campaign. Trump denies the affair. Not declared as a campaign contribution, this payment was reimbursed by the President. Cohen's role reflected his intense loyalty to Trump and his status as a man who was long trusted with Trump secrets.

Although, according to the Times, it is "unclear" what Whitaker did after Trump made this request, the reporting appears to contradict Whitaker's sworn testimony before Congress and could put him in great legal peril. In this he joins a host of people, beginning with Cohen, who have been burned by their associations with a candidate-turned-President who has made norm-busting a hallmark. Michael Flynn, former national security adviser; Paul Manafort, former campaign chairman; Rick Gates, former assistant campaign manager; and George Papadopoulos, former adviser, have all been convicted of crimes thanks to their Trump connections, although many of their crimes are unrelated to their work on Trump's campaign. The President's longest friend in politics, Roger Stone, stands charged and awaits prosecution.

All of this could have been predicted on the basis of Trump's record even before he declared that he would run for the presidency in the summer of 2015. As a businessman, his businesses' multiple bankruptcies, abuse of consumers in the $25 million Trump University fraud, and disgraceful treatment of vendors and bondholders provided insight into his character.

Then came the 2016 election, where Trump announced his candidacy with false claims about immigrants and crime, and proceeded to create a fissure between Trump supporters and those who refused to back him during the primaries. His name-calling and innuendo, including the suggestion that Ted Cruz's father was involved in the assassination of John F. Kennedy, would have been laughable if they hadn't been so destructive. After securing the nomination, Trump saw no need to hew to facts, or even exhibit basic decency, as he reveled in calls for his opponent to be imprisoned.

Trump's rule-breaking has set the conditions for similar behavior in those surrounding him. The firings, resignations, and scandals have come at a furious pace, as those who respond to Trump have struggled to stand up to him while also maintaining standards that he has broken. This challenge, of confronting a rule-breaker without sacrificing one's own morality, forces people to make choices. The press, for example, has had to get used to calling out Trump's distortions, labeling his lies as lies. Career public servants, including former acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, have had to make similar choices, sometimes crossing lines they presumably would rather not cross because of the emergency Trump presents.

In his new book about the Trump era, McCabe has told stories that would normally be kept secret within the Department of Justice. This includes his reports about concerns that Trump might be serving Russia's interest, and not America's. McCabe has been criticized for deciding to reveal this issue and others. It is possible that he is discomfited by it all but felt a duty to speak. Critics may say McCabe is settling scores and selling books. He seems to me to be sounding an alarm.

Alarms have been ringing ever since Trump announced he wanted to be president, and they have grown steadily louder. As President he has used the bully-boy tactics of intimidation, humiliation, and threats that he employed in his long life before the White House. Resistant to change, certain of his superiority, he recognizes no higher calling than the sound of his own ego. He only knows the methods revealed by the Times, McCabe and others, and will not stop until someone forces him to.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 441935

Reported Deaths: 5885
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin918591461
Ramsey39405729
Dakota32551324
Anoka30638354
Washington19827221
Stearns17686184
St. Louis13453237
Scott1178693
Wright11485101
Olmsted1024870
Sherburne812364
Carver686636
Clay643278
Rice595266
Kandiyohi551069
Blue Earth533833
Crow Wing476573
Otter Tail449860
Chisago446331
Benton414885
Winona383946
Douglas370366
Nobles364646
Mower358026
Goodhue340757
Polk326754
McLeod321644
Morrison308743
Beltrami305746
Lyon298735
Itasca281143
Becker279438
Isanti279440
Carlton276942
Steele26879
Pine263813
Freeborn237219
Todd230029
Nicollet222136
Brown212334
Mille Lacs211645
Le Sueur206515
Cass203823
Meeker197433
Waseca187515
Martin168226
Wabasha16712
Roseau164916
Hubbard146937
Redwood138527
Renville136139
Houston133213
Dodge13134
Chippewa130632
Cottonwood125118
Fillmore12084
Wadena118214
Rock108511
Sibley10757
Aitkin106633
Watonwan10548
Faribault103214
Kanabec96818
Pennington95915
Pipestone92522
Yellow Medicine92514
Murray8585
Jackson84510
Swift82617
Pope7355
Marshall70115
Stevens6968
Clearwater68114
Lac qui Parle65216
Lake62215
Wilkin6179
Koochiching57910
Lincoln4771
Big Stone4513
Unassigned43568
Grant4247
Norman4218
Mahnomen4077
Kittson36619
Red Lake3154
Traverse2433
Lake of the Woods1741
Cook1130

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 300884

Reported Deaths: 4197
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk44949440
Linn17563269
Scott15228161
Black Hawk13552228
Woodbury12896175
Johnson1191749
Dubuque11229148
Pottawattamie8863112
Dallas874169
Story857433
Webster464768
Cerro Gordo458766
Sioux452451
Clinton445461
Warren430637
Marshall424561
Buena Vista389029
Muscatine382275
Des Moines377340
Plymouth347967
Wapello336796
Jasper315955
Lee310828
Marion298852
Jones268949
Henry262130
Carroll252233
Bremer240048
Crawford227622
Boone214116
Washington213531
Benton207543
Mahaska189936
Jackson189631
Tama184757
Dickinson183225
Delaware171136
Kossuth169241
Clay165319
Wright161724
Fayette157022
Buchanan156920
Hamilton156828
Hardin153129
Harrison152961
Winneshiek150819
Clayton149848
Cedar149119
Butler145423
Page143115
Floyd137236
Cherokee137125
Mills135216
Lyon133132
Poweshiek131024
Hancock127924
Allamakee125927
Iowa122122
Calhoun12159
Jefferson118623
Grundy118522
Winnebago117229
Madison11639
Mitchell114634
Louisa113729
Cass111741
Chickasaw110111
Sac110115
Emmet109931
Appanoose108838
Union107922
Humboldt103919
Guthrie102124
Shelby101026
Franklin99818
Unassigned9370
Palo Alto8969
Keokuk84225
Montgomery82722
Howard81119
Monroe79918
Pocahontas77211
Clarke7717
Ida73530
Greene6837
Davis68221
Adair68120
Lucas6458
Osceola6349
Monona62316
Taylor5889
Worth5873
Fremont5005
Van Buren49112
Decatur4744
Ringgold4229
Wayne41321
Audubon4118
Adams2923
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