It’s Friday the 13th. Prepare yourselves for a massacre, in every sense of the word. I’ve been feeling all week that THIS is the week that Trump tries to fire someone important, whether it be treasonous hobgoblin Jeff Sessions, or Rod Rosenstein, or maybe even Bob Mueller. If my gut is right and past is prologue, that means Trump will fire someone late in the afternoon and then hop on Air Force One and fly down to Mar-a-Lago as Washington descends into chaos. One of the reasons why everything is coming to a head this week? Because the FBI raided Michael Cohen, which led to Trump’s lawyers withdrawing their offer to allow Mueller’s team to interview Trump. Which led to this:
Prior to Monday’s raid, Mueller’s team had been aiming to finalize a report on its findings on whether the president has tried to obstruct justice in the Russia investigation in the coming months, as early as May or as late as July, three sources said. That timeline hinged in part on reaching a decision on a presidential interview, these people said. One person familiar with the investigation described a decision on an interview as one of the last steps Mueller was seeking to take before closing his investigation into obstruction.
Now, according to two sources, Mueller’s team may be able to close the obstruction probe more quickly as they will not need to prepare for the interview or follow up on what the president says.
The raid on Cohen “significantly complicated” any negotiations for the president’s legal team, according to a person familiar with the discussions, who also cautioned that “you never say never” in terms of a possible interview. This person said the president’s legal team is still in frequent contact with Mueller’s team on other issues related to the investigation.
Three sources familiar with the investigation said the findings Mueller has collected on Trump’s attempts to obstruct justice include: His intent to fire former FBI Director James Comey; his role in the crafting of a misleading public statement on the nature of a June 2016 Trump Tower meeting between his son and Russians; Trump’s dangling of pardons before grand jury witnesses who might testify against him; and pressuring Attorney General Jeff Sessions not to recuse himself from the Russia investigation.
Mueller would then likely send a confidential report to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who is overseeing the Russia investigation. Rosenstein could decide whether to make the report public and send its findings to Congress. From there, Congress would then decide whether to begin impeachment proceedings against the president, said two of the sources.
Basically, Mueller is going to be making some huge moves in the next, say, six weeks? And it will be super-depressing if Mueller sends his report to Rosenstein and that’s the end of it. Of course, I doubt that will happen. There are more arrests to come. And I’ve started to convince myself that Rosenstein is the one who will be fired today.
As for the raid on Michael Cohen’s home, office and hotel room? Well, guess who kept incriminating tapes of many of his conversations?
President Trump’s personal attorney Michael D. Cohen sometimes taped conversations with associates, according to three people familiar with his practice, and allies of the president are worried that the recordings were seized by federal investigators in a raid of Cohen’s office and residences this week. Cohen, who served for a decade as a lawyer at the Trump Organization and is a close confidant of Trump, was known to store the conversations using digital files and then replay them for colleagues, according to people who have interacted with him.
“We heard he had some proclivity to make tapes,” said one Trump adviser, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the ongoing investigation. “Now we are wondering, who did he tape? Did he store those someplace where they were actually seized? . . . Did they find his recordings?”
On Monday, FBI agents seized Cohen’s computers and phones as they executed a search warrant that sought, among other records, all communications between the lawyer and Trump and campaign aides about “potential sources of negative publicity” in the lead-up to the 2016 election, The Washington Post reported. Investigators were also looking for any records related to adult-film star Stormy Daniels and ex-Playboy model Karen McDougal, who both received payments after alleged affairs with Trump.
It is unknown whether Cohen taped conversations between himself and Trump. But two people familiar with Cohen’s practices said he recorded both business and political conversations. One associate said Trump knew of Cohen’s practice because the attorney would often play him recordings Cohen had made of his conversations with other top Trump advisers.
“It was his standard practice to do it,” this person said.
Keep in mind that the Cohen raid was not conducted by Mueller’s team. Mueller’s team made a referral to New York’s federal Southern district, and they’re the ones investigating. Of course, they can and will share information with Mueller. As I said, there’s going to be a lot happening in the coming weeks and months.
Photos courtesy of Getty.