Digby's Hullabaloo
2801 Ocean Park Blvd.
Box 157
Santa Monica, Ca 90405

Facebook: Digby Parton

@BloggersRUs (Tom Sullivan)

thedigbyblog at gmail
satniteflix at gmail
publius.gaius at gmail
tpostsully at gmail
Spockosbrain at gmail
Richardein at me.com


Mother Jones
Raw Story
Huffington Post
Crooks and Liars
American Prospect
New Republic

Denofcinema.com: Saturday Night at the Movies by Dennis Hartley review archive

January 2003 February 2003 March 2003 April 2003 May 2003 June 2003 July 2003 August 2003 September 2003 October 2003 November 2003 December 2003 January 2004 February 2004 March 2004 April 2004 May 2004 June 2004 July 2004 August 2004 September 2004 October 2004 November 2004 December 2004 January 2005 February 2005 March 2005 April 2005 May 2005 June 2005 July 2005 August 2005 September 2005 October 2005 November 2005 December 2005 January 2006 February 2006 March 2006 April 2006 May 2006 June 2006 July 2006 August 2006 September 2006 October 2006 November 2006 December 2006 January 2007 February 2007 March 2007 April 2007 May 2007 June 2007 July 2007 August 2007 September 2007 October 2007 November 2007 December 2007 January 2008 February 2008 March 2008 April 2008 May 2008 June 2008 July 2008 August 2008 September 2008 October 2008 November 2008 December 2008 January 2009 February 2009 March 2009 April 2009 May 2009 June 2009 July 2009 August 2009 September 2009 October 2009 November 2009 December 2009 January 2010 February 2010 March 2010 April 2010 May 2010 June 2010 July 2010 August 2010 September 2010 October 2010 November 2010 December 2010 January 2011 February 2011 March 2011 April 2011 May 2011 June 2011 July 2011 August 2011 September 2011 October 2011 November 2011 December 2011 January 2012 February 2012 March 2012 April 2012 May 2012 June 2012 July 2012 August 2012 September 2012 October 2012 November 2012 December 2012 January 2013 February 2013 March 2013 April 2013 May 2013 June 2013 July 2013 August 2013 September 2013 October 2013 November 2013 December 2013 January 2014 February 2014 March 2014 April 2014 May 2014 June 2014 July 2014 August 2014 September 2014 October 2014 November 2014 December 2014 January 2015 February 2015 March 2015 April 2015 May 2015 June 2015 July 2015 August 2015 September 2015 October 2015 November 2015 December 2015 January 2016 February 2016 March 2016 April 2016 May 2016 June 2016 July 2016 August 2016 September 2016 October 2016 November 2016 December 2016 January 2017 February 2017 March 2017 April 2017 May 2017 June 2017 July 2017 August 2017 September 2017 October 2017 November 2017 December 2017 January 2018 February 2018 March 2018 April 2018 May 2018 June 2018 July 2018 August 2018 September 2018 October 2018 November 2018 December 2018 January 2019


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?


Saturday, March 24, 2018

He's going to the mattresses

by digby

I wrote about the latest legal maneuverings for Salon this morning. One update. There are rumors that he had diGenova and Toensing in for a final audition and now he isn't sure about them. He's looking for bigger stars ...

The old saying that a man who is his own lawyer has a fool for a client was uttered all day long on cable news late this week, and for good reason. President Trump's lead personal lawyer, John Dowd, announced his resignation on Thursday, and all the speculation among those with contacts in TrumpWorld is that the president is now taking his legal strategy into his own hands.

Trump has reportedly been unhappy with his legal team, largely because they repeatedly (and foolishly) promised him that special counsel Robert Mueller's probe of the 2016 Trump campaign, and ancillary matters, would be wound up by now. Of course, Trump also presumably assured his lawyers that he was innocent of all wrongdoing. Evidently Dowd was the man Trump depended on to negotiate with Mueller's office, and Trump wasn't happy to learn that Mueller wants to interview him about obstruction of justice, which the president likes to call "fighting back." Others with insights into Trump's inner circle have speculated that Dowd was to leave, either because his client won't listen to his advice or because Trump had hired political hitman and TV lawyer Joe diGenova, and Dowd wanted no part of whatever they have planned.

It appears that diGenova plans to concentrate on a PR campaign aimed at diverting attention onto some separate line of investigation into Hillary Clinton and the FBI, along with a full-court press aimed at muddying Robert Mueller's reputation. While diGenova certainly has experience in high-stakes partisan TV wrestling, he's likely way over his head when it comes to dealing with a complicated counterintelligence investigation. It's not clear how any of this is supposed to clear the president's name, but it's apparently what Trump considers "counterpunching."

It's his style to attack and divert. According to Gabriel Sherman at Vanity Fair, the president has been chomping at the bit ever since Mueller's office issued a subpoena for Trump Organization documents:

In the days since Mueller issued the subpoena, Trump has been on the attack. Last Saturday, Trump encouraged Dowd to call for an end to the Russia probe, a source told me. ... Trump’s new offensive is a sign that he’s unilaterally abandoning the go-along, get-along strategy advocated by Dowd and Ty Cobb, the White House lawyer overseeing the response to Mueller. ... “Trump is looking at this saying, I did it your way for months, now I’m fucking doing it my way,” a former West Wing official said. (The White House did not respond to a request for comment.)

In private, Trump friends and outside advisers have been stoking his desire to go on the offensive for months. Trump has heard that his lawyers are “idiots”; that Mueller’s probe is a “coup d’état”; and that Trump’s only crime is having “won the election.”

This account lends credence to the idea that Trump is no longer interested in playing by any of the rules, not even the rule of law.

After all, Dowd was in many ways the perfect lawyer for Trump in this matter. He has a ton of experience in Washington and knows his way around politics and the federal law enforcement bureaucracy. And he's got the kind of rough-and-tumble personality that Trump likes.

Reuters published a profile of Dowd when he was hired with the headline, "Tough-talking Trump defense lawyer says he's no 'snowflake' and he isn't." They characterized his style as a mirror of the president's -- "a no-holds-barred, hyperbolic style and a history of attacking prosecutors, congressional Democrats and the media." He told the news agency, “I fight hard, I believe that’s what I’m supposed to do." And he has done that.

This is a man who almost certainly lied when he took the blame for tweeting on the president's Twitter account that he had fired Michael Flynn for lying to the FBI, which put the president in serious legal danger. (Remember that the stated original reason for firing Flynn was because he had lied to Mike Pence.) Just last weekend, Dowd went out on a limb with a statement to Betsy Woodruff of the Daily Beast saying he "prayed" that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein would follow the "brilliant and courageous" example of Jeff Sessions and end the Russia investigation "manufactured by McCabe's boss James Comey based upon a fraudulent and corrupt Dossier." (If that statement was not literally scripted by Trump, it's a brilliant imitation of his rhetorical style.)

According to Woodruff, Dowd specifically said that he was speaking on behalf of the president, only to later reverse course and claim he was only speaking for himself. It may be that Dowd belatedly realized that the statement strongly implied that Sessions' decision to fire former deputy FBI director Andrew McCabe was connected to the Mueller probe, leading to a reasonable conclusion that Trump was admitting to collusion with the Department of Justice in the matter. Trump was reportedly infuriated that Dowd walked back the statement, apparently seeing that as a sign of weakness -- or, just as likely, he wanted everyone to understand that he was directing the whole thing from the White House.

However much of a crude scrapper Dowd might be, there is no evidence that he would knowingly break the law or violate the Constitution. So perhaps Trump and his new team are getting ready to "fight back" in ways that even the combative Dowd was unwilling to countenance. It's certainly possible that Dowd reflected on whether he wanted to be part of a "legal team" that included Christian activist Jay Sekulow and right-wing operative diGenova, both of whom are frequent bloviators on Fox News. Perhaps he doesn't think Sean Hannity's green room is the right environment for hatching a legal defense.

At this point Trump seems likely to fire Sessions, Rosenstein and/or Mueller sooner rather than later. It was reported late on Thursday that he had also hired diGenova's wife and law partner, Victoria Toensing, another professional right-wing TV character assassin. It's also rumored that Trump may bring back his longtime personal lawyer Marc Kasowitz, the man who had to resign early in the president's term for emailing a reporter, "Watch your back, bitch." Such sensitivities seem rather quaint now.

Trump is no longer negotiating or mounting a legal defense. It's all-out war.