Russiagate Open Thread: Michael Cohen Makes A Move

In his resignation letter to Ronna McDaniel, the RNC chair, Cohen cited the ongoing special counsel investigation as one reason for his departure. ABC News has reviewed the email…

Cohen also criticized the administration’s policy of separating migrant children from their parents at the southern border, the first time he’s distanced himself from the president.

“As the son of a Polish holocaust survivor, the images and sounds of this family separation policy is heart wrenching,” Cohen wrote. “While I strongly support measures that will secure our porous borders, children should never be used as bargaining chips.”

Cohen on Tuesday hired New York lawyer Guy Petrillo to represent him in a federal investigation headed up by the Southern District of New York.

I drafted the post below just last night. Nothing is ever certain in Trumpworld, but it sounds like the Hoarse Whisperer’s tweets at the end might be relevant; if Cohen’s decided that Donald is not really his friend, then the next logical step would be discovering a moral compass…

It’d be some kind of poetic justice if Trump’s notorious parsimony (to phrase it nicely) with the people who work for him turns out to be what brings him down. From CNN:

Donald Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen has signaled to friends that he is “willing to give” investigators information on the President if that’s what they are looking for, and is planning on hiring a new lawyer to handle a possible indictment from federal prosecutors.

“He knows a lot of things about the President and he’s not averse to talking in the right situation,” one of Cohen’s New York friends who is in touch with him told CNN. “If they want information on Trump, he’s willing to give it.”…

The shift in legal strategy and signals of potential cooperation with investigators come as Cohen feels increasingly isolated from the President, whom he has been famously loyal to for more than a decade. Last week, CNN reported Cohen has indicated a willingness to cooperate to alleviate pressure on himself and his family…

Several defense lawyers say that if Cohen is ultimately indicted, they don’t expect him to be charged with any wrongdoing until the government completes its review of the evidence seized in the raid. The court-appointed special master overseeing the review of material for attorney-client privileged information said it could be completed as soon as June 25…

From The Hill:

The Wall Street Journal reports that Cohen has “frequently” complained that the mounting costs of his legal fees are “bankrupting” him, according to one source, and that he is frustrated that the president, whom he feels owes Cohen for years service, hasn’t offered to cover the fees.

Trump told reporters last week that he hasn’t spoken to his former attorney in months, adding that Cohen no longer does any business with him.

“I always liked Michael Cohen,” he said Friday. “I haven’t spoken to Michael in a long time.”…

To The Surprise of No One Open Thread: Prelim Reviews of The OIG Report

I hope Comey’s enormous self-regard can keep him warm, because from the early reports he showed all of his manly white arse when he decided that FBI norms about “nonpartisanship” didn’t apply to James Comey. Decent people are appalled that he chose to put his thumb on the scales… and Repubs are furious that he didn’t bury the evidence better.

Read more

Russiagate Open Thread: Waiting for the OIG Report to Drop

Purdue Pharma and the Justice Department Knew About Oxycontin in 2006

Purdue Pharma knew the dangers that Oxycontin presented, and so did the Justice Department, as early as 2006. But the George W. Bush Justice Department decided not to prosecute.

Based on their findings after a four-year investigation, [federal] prosecutors recommended that three top Purdue Pharma executives be indicted on felony charges, including conspiracy to defraud the United States, that could have sent the men to prison if convicted.

But top Justice Department officials in the George W. Bush administration did not support the move, said four lawyers who took part in those discussions or were briefed about them. Instead, the government settled the case in 2007.

Of course, current Purdue Pharma officials play down that something a decade ago could have anything to do with today’s opioid crisis.

“It would have been a turning point,” said Terrance Woodworth, a former Drug Enforcement Administration official who investigated Purdue Pharma in the early 2000s. “It would have sent a message to the entire drug industry.”

The Sackler family, who have endowed many museums, have been intimately involved in Purdue Pharma from the start. I’ll never feel the same about those museums.

A spokesman for Sackler family members involved with the company, Linden Zakula, declined to comment. Richard Sackler, who is now a director of Purdue Pharma, also declined to comment.

There were plenty of warnings. The article has much more detail – a long read. It’s the New York Times, but one of the places where they’ve done a good job.

And open thread!

Open Thread: Would That We Could Be So Lucky

Nagah haapn, as a Repub tool once said… but here’s Jeb Lund with some red meat for the cheap seats:

Donald Trump is afraid of going to prison. Ordinarily that might seem like a silly statement: Trump is probably the most corrupt president in American history, and some of his closest bag men open the door each morning to see if the sky looks like indictments. But this is America, where the man who drafted memos arguing that torture is legal teaches law at U.C. Berkeley, and Henry “Two Genocides” Kissinger advised the Bush administration but summered with the Clintons.

And yet this might be the second time Donald Trump has gotten something right…

Trump should be and is afraid. He has no real friends in Washington that didn’t ride in on his coattails (and possibly commit a crime to do so). He has no party, save a GOP that let him loose like a bull in a china shop so they could sneak in the back and rob the safe. He has been a Democrat and he has been a Republican and he has alienated the ruling castes of both. He is not one of them, and no part of Trumpworld, post-tax-cuts, is essential to the preservation of their class’ domination of politics.

Meanwhile, for the first time in a long time, both parties have unambiguous incentives to make a show of strident anti-corruption. The Democrats — having dropped the ball on the opportunity to seek restorative justice for any of the plunder of the subprime mortgage market or even to do something as simple as sending Dick Cheney or the other architects of the Bush-era torture policy to The Hague — have a historically unsympathetic antagonist. And Republicans no longer really have the Clinton campaign to point to (though Trump tries) and need to maintain the illusion to their values-voter base that Trump is different from them (other than in his abject tastelessness)…

The moment Trump looks like he’s finished with some part of his fan base, his intraparty constituency plummets to zero. The Democrats will finally have a gimme with which to practice the arcane art of exercising state power to enforce the morals of a community. At the same time, the rump of Republicans who survive 2018 and those seeking to unseat Democrats in borderline seats in 2020 will have good reason to depict Trump as a uniquely toxic aberration that must be burned away to cleanse the rest of the party. There is no greater non-verbal distinction between the GOP and Trump than incarcerating him…

… It is not silly to demand that we realize a dream so unlikely that it clearly daily haunts the dumbest chief executive in American history: After a long list of extraordinarily deserving, very very beautiful, very very talented runners-up — from Jefferson Davis, to Warren Harding, to Richard Nixon, to Ronald Reagan, to George W. Bush — Donald Trump can become the first president from the United States to die in prison…

Russiagate Open Thread: When Even Fox News Decides to Wash Its Hands of You…

Old mob proverb: The livestock gets restless just before the big storm

Read more

The Theranos Con

I’ve been following the Theranos story. From the first I heard about their objective to do hundreds of analyses from less than a cc of blood, I was doubtful. There are basic and fundamental reasons that more blood might be required for an analysis. Many analyses are to find extremely small quantities of hard to distinguish molecules. Those two qualities together mean that you need a large quantity of the medium in which you are trying to find them – in this case, blood.

Theranos would have had to find a new way to do those hundreds of analyses, which rely on different chemistries, so there would be many new ways they needed to find. Laser enthusiasts at one time believed that they could do this spectrally, which has the feel of initial plausibility, but many unsuccessful attempts have convinced them otherwise. And Theranos wasn’t talking about lasers.

They weren’t talking about any specifics, which was also suspicious. Those alternative analysis methods would require big scientific advances, which would be worth publicizing. Those advances would have to be built on available science, which Theranos wasn’t talking about either.

John Carreyrou of the Wall Street Journal did the digging while other reporters had stars in their eyes over Elizabeth Holmes’s Steve Jobs imitation. Now he has a book out that sounds very worth reading. I am contemplating adding it to my pile of books to read.

It’s quite a story, about which I still have questions. How did Holmes flummox national security experts like George Schultz and James Mattis into being on her board? Why national security types rather than health experts? Was she consciously lying or deluded?

It’s a story of Silicon Valley overreach by many people.

And open thread!