Prosecutors Reach Deal With Publisher Over Payoffs On Behalf Of Trump Campaign

The publisher of the National Enquirer admits that it made payments to a Playboy model for the purpose of protecting Donald Trump's campaign for President.

Adding to the legal woes that continue to surround President Trump, the Justice Department announced today that it had reached an agreement with American Media, Inc., the parent company of National Enquirer and other magazines and tabloids, under which AMI will avoid prosecution in exchange for cooperating with the Justice Department in its ongoing investigation of the Trump campaign and its efforts to silence women who have had affairs with President Trump in advance of the 2016 election:

With the revelation by prosecutors on Wednesday that a tabloid publisher admitted to paying off a Playboy model, key participants in two hush-money schemes say the transactions were intended to protect Donald J. Trump’s campaign for president.

That leaves Mr. Trump in an increasingly isolated and legally precarious position, according to election law experts. Hundreds of thousands of dollars in payments made in 2016 to keep two women silent about alleged affairs are now firmly framed as illegal campaign contributions.

The news about the publisher, the parent company of The National Enquirer, came on the same day that Mr. Trump’s former lawyer Michael D. Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison in part for his involvement in the payments. “I blame myself for the conduct which has brought me here today,” Mr. Cohen said, “and it was my own weakness and a blind loyalty to this man” — a reference to Mr. Trump — “that led me to choose a path of darkness over light.”

Mr. Cohen said the transactions were an effort to cover up the president’s “dirty deeds,” a claim that was buttressed when federal prosecutors announced that the tabloid publisher, American Media Inc., said it had bought one of the women’s stories to ensure she “did not publicize damaging allegations about the candidate.”

A.M.I. further admitted that its principal purpose in making the payment was to suppress the woman’s story so as to prevent it from influencing the election,” prosecutors said in a statement announcing they had struck a deal not to charge the company in exchange for its cooperation. As part of the deal, dated in September but previously kept private, the company also agreed to train employees in election law standards and appoint a qualified lawyer to vet future deals that may involve paying for stories about political candidates.

The cascading disclosures marked a turning point in the multiple investigations related to Mr. Trump and the campaign he led. Until recently, the inquiries had produced numerous guilty pleas and indictments but no direct accusations of illegality by the president. That changed with Mr. Cohen’s assertions, outlined in detail by prosecutors, that his own crimes were done “in coordination with and at the direction” of Mr. Trump.

(…)

Investigators have continued to scrutinize what others in the Trump Organization may have known about the crimes described by Mr. Cohen, including its chief financial officer, according to people briefed on the matter. Prosecutors have met with campaign officials and asked how the campaign interacted with Mr. Trump’s company, which shared office space and employees.

Establishing a nexus between Mr. Cohen’s efforts to silence the women and Mr. Trump’s campaign is central to making a criminal case of election law violations. That is why A.M.I.’s admission carries so much weight, said Richard L. Hasen, an election law professor at the University of California, Irvine.

“It’s looking a lot like an illegal and unreported in-kind corporate contribution to help the campaign, exposing the Trump campaign and Trump himself to possible criminal liability,” Mr. Hasen said.

A.M.I., run by Mr. Trump’s longtime friend David J. Pecker, had previously claimed it had paid $150,000 to the model, Karen McDougal, to secure the rights to publish her story of an alleged affair with Mr. Trump. But the company never published it, and people familiar with its operations had said it was part of a longstanding practice, known in the tabloid trade as “catch and kill,” to suppress damaging stories about favored people.

Prosecutors said that Mr. Cohen had intended to reimburse A.M.I. for its payment to Ms. McDougal by arranging a bogus $125,000 fee to an A.M.I. affiliate for “advisory services.” Although Mr. Pecker signed off on the deal, he later contacted Mr. Cohen and called it off. He also instructed Mr. Cohen to tear up the paperwork, prosecutors said.

In addition to McDougal, Mr. Cohen said he arranged a $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels, a pornographic film actress, to squelch her story of an alleged affair with Mr. Trump. He said that he used his own money, but that Mr. Trump had agreed to pay him back, with the reimbursement eventually being couched as legal fees billed to the Trump Organization.

A.M.I. was also involved in the early stages of Mr. Cohen’s dealings with Ms. Daniels. Rather than pay her, as it did with Ms. McDougal, the company notified Mr. Cohen that she was trying to sell her story.

This agreement, of course, was announced on the same day that former Trump attorney Michael Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison for, among other things, the role he played in negotiating the payments that were made to both Karen McDougal and adult film star Stormy Daniels to buy their silence in advance of the 2016 national election. Previously, Cohen and A.M.I., which made the payment to McDougal that was ultimately supposed to be reimbursed by Trump via Cohen, had said that the payments to both women were made to protect Trump personally, to protect his marriage, and to shield Trump’s wife from knowing that her husband was sleeping with porn stars and Playboy models while she was pregnant with their son. It wasn’t until Cohen flipped and began cooperating with the Federal Government that it was made clear that these payments were made for the purpose of protecting the campaign and making sure that these women did not come forward during a month in 2016 when Trump was already having to deal with the Access Hollywood tape and the claims by more than a dozen women that Trump had sexually harassed them in the past.

At that point, though, the story about the payments to Daniels and McDougal were largely a matter of “he said, he said” between the President and Michael Cohen, and Cohen alone isn’t exactly a credible witness given the fact that he is an admitted liar. Securing the cooperation of A.M.I., which corroborates Cohen’s claims regarding the real purpose of the payments, strengthens any case the government would seek to make. This is particularly important in light of the outcome of the case involving former Senator and candidate for Vice-President John Edwards, who was charged with campaign finance law violations under circumstances that were similar to those surrounding the payments to Daniels and McDougal. In that case, of course, Edwards defended himself primarily with the argument that the payments made to his pregnant mistress during the 2008 Presidential campaign were made for personal reasons rather than campaign reasons. Because of this, the case ended with a hung jury and Federal prosecutors ultimately decided not to retry the case.

In several recent comments, the President and his supporters have seemed to adopt the theme of the Edwards defense and argue that the payments to Daniels and McDougal were personal rather than political. The fact that officials associated with A.M.I. would testify that it was their understanding that the payments were meant specifically to protect the campaign for President, and that these officials are not in the same position as Cohen as having admitted to lying to Congress or Federal investigators makes their testimony, and therefore Cohen’s, more credible. The agreement between A.M.I. and Cohen also states that there is an unnamed third-party who was part of the Trump campaign who was aware of the nature and purpose of the transaction. While that person is not identified, it seems likely that this person is Donald Trump himself, especially since we already have heard recordings made by Cohen where he discusses the McDougal transaction with Trump and both Trump and Cohen have admitted that Trump was aware of the negotiations with Daniels at the time they were taking place. What all of this means, of course, is that the President of the United States was a co-conspirator with both Cohen and A.M.I. to evade and violate federal campaign finance laws, among other crimes. Were he not the President of the United States he would have most likely been indicted by now himself.

The walls are closing in, Mr. President. Whether this ends with impeachment, being named as an unindicted co-conspirator, or being the subject of a report that clearly indicates you are a criminal is something only time will tell. No amount of tweeting is going to stop them. What can no longer be denied, though, is that the President colluded with Michael Cohen and A.M.I. to violate the law in order to become President. Under the law, of course, collusion is actually known as conspiracy and it’s explicitly set out in the United States Code at 18 U.S.C. Sec. 371. What we don’t know, yet is whether there was also collusion others, specifically Russian officials, to undermine the campaign of Hillary Clinton at several crucial points during the campaign, but something tells me we’ll get the answer to that question soon enough.

FILED UNDER: *FEATURED, Campaign 2016, Donald Trump, Law and the Courts, Politicians, US Politics, , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. gVOR08 says:

    Forget McDougal, does the deal get them into Pecker’s safe?

  2. Kathy says:

    What strikes me is the magnitude of stupidity involved, unless I’m missing something.

    As I understand, Dennison could have spent any amount of his own money on his campaign for any purpose, including hush-money payments, and it would be completely legal. For a man claiming to be worth billions, surely a sum like $300 grand is eminently affordable.

    I understand he’d have wanted to hide the source of the money, but I don’t think that’s why he got involved into a complex series of transactions involving that many people. I think he wanted someone else to pay for him.

    Also, speaking of unbridled idiocy, everyone knows if you’re going to do something illegal, you don’t involve many people in it.

  3. PJ says:

    @Kathy:

    As I understand, Dennison could have spent any amount of his own money on his campaign for any purpose, including hush-money payments, and it would be completely legal. For a man claiming to be worth billions, surely a sum like $300 grand is eminently affordable.

    There are no limits when spending your own money, but they still need to be reported:

    When candidates use their personal funds for campaign purposes, they are making contributions to their campaigns. Unlike other contributions, these candidate contributions are not subject to any limits. They must, however, be reported.

  4. Kathy says:

    @PJ:

    Ok. But then El Cheeto could report he paid in order to keep the information from his wife. this could easily have been spun in a positive way.

    After all, the affairs were old, and neither woman came forth until Dennison was vulnerable to disclosure. In truth, they are not heroes of democracy, but opportunists (at least in this narrow case and sense) cashing in. If disclosure was the goal, they’d have gone to news organizations that don’t pay their sources, as several other women in fact did.

    Add some spin to that, like how concerned the Orange Clown was with his wife being hurt (as though he was coerced into banging these women, right?), and a base ready to swallow anything wouldn’t even noticed it had swallowed that.

    Sure, Melania would have found out. But that 1) was not the point at all, 2) politicians are expected to lie anyway, and 3) could be explained that Dennison had to stay within the law.

    I see unabridged stupidity, creating a problem where there is none. Or perhaps a sense of being above the law and thus having leave to do as he likes, and get others to foot the bill.

  5. CSK says:

    A small point, perhaps, but Trump actually had the affairs with Daniels and McDougal a few months after Melania gave birth to Barron. This is not to say he hadn’t wandered off the marital reservation with others during the pregnancy.

  6. Michael Reynolds says:

    Individual One’s problem is that he’s a criminal who doesn’t realize he’s a criminal. Job #1 for a competent criminal is: don’t create evidence. Trump sprays evidence in all directions like a panicked skunk. Trump and I share something: we are both un-convicted felons. But I had better tradecraft as a 24 year-old burglar. This guy is as incompetent at crime as he is at everything else. In a caper movie Trump is the squirrelly guy who’s going to panic and start shooting while Robert DeNiro and/or Jason Statham stay calm and professional.

    If Trump were anyone else – literally any American citizen other than the president – he’d be under indictment if not on his way to prison.

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  7. PJ says:

    @Kathy:
    He would have had to report whom he paid to. When paying hush money, you really don’t want to have to report the amount and the recipient…

  8. CSK says:

    What’s amusing about the excuse that these pay-offs were made solely to spare Melania’s feelings is that Melania, who is assuredly not the brightest bulb in the chandelier, knows exactly what she married: a crude, lecherous buffoon who’s spent his entire adult life boasting about his various adulteries. She wanted his money and citizenship for herself and entrée for her parents. She got them. She’s probably figuring/hoping he’ll either die soon or go to prison, and then she’ll be free, while still relatively young, to enjoy life on his (alleged) billions.

    12
  9. Kathy says:

    @PJ:

    How open are campaign finance reports during the campaign? If they’re open to all, then, yes, the payments would have drawn attention, even if obscured with generalities such as “services rendered.”

    Still, committing a crime to avoid embarrassment or political defeat is incredibly stupid.

    There’s and ep of CSI where the criminal does all he can to hide the evidence, but they catch him int he end. When arrested, he asks Grissom “What mistake did I make?” meaning where he went wrong in misleading the crime lab.

    Grissom, moral giant that he is, answers “You killed two people.”

  10. Kathy says:

    @CSK:

    Didn’t he cheat on one of his other wives with Melania?

    Also, want to bet his affairs are covered in the prenup?

  11. CSK says:

    @Kathy:

    I think he was involved with Melania while still married to Marla Maples, who, in her turn, was involved with Trump whilst he was still wed to Ivana. He told McDougal in 2006 that he and Melania no longer shared a bed. Given that he and Melania were married in 2005, the bloom seems to have gone off that particular rose fairly rapidly.

    As to the pre-nup, it probably requires mostly that she keep her face and figure.

  12. Michael Reynolds says:

    @PJ:
    He could have made a series of under 10 grand cash withdrawals and paid her off with an envelope full of greenbacks. Wear gloves and make sure she’s not using her phone to record and it never gets beyond a simple he said, she said. Instead the dumb fck dragged his lawyer and the National Enquirer into it and made it a conspiracy.

  13. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    …something tells me we’ll get the answer to that question soon enough.

    Now, finally, we KNOW that Individual-1 is an un-indicted co-conspirator in this Conspiracy to Defraud the US.
    And the sycophants are silent……..
    The Butina case is not being ignored, but it is under-reported. She is going to turn out to be a major link between the Dennison campaign, through the NRA, to Russia. (and likely she can implicate other Republicans – I’m looking at you, Butters and Turtle-Face)
    Then there is Stone, Corsi, et al linking the Dennison campaign, through Wikileaks, to Russia.
    There are a lot of threads to Individual-1’s Conspiracy to Defraud the US…Mueller and the SDNY are tying them all together in a neat little bundle.

  14. Not the IT Dept. says:

    I don’t believe for a minute that he was worried about Melania’s feelings about anything. He kept the payoffs secret because he didn’t want to look like a pathetic loser who had to pay for sex.

    The only think that matters to Trump is his brand as a jet-setting successful billionaire stud that he projected during The Apprentice. ANYTHING that mars that self-image is anathema. Paying for sex when they let you do anything because you’re a star? Money laundering when you’re a hugely successful billionaire developer? Get outta here – that’s not what he plays on television!

  15. CSK says:

    @Not the IT Dept.:

    Oh, of course he doesn’t care about Melania’s feelings. That’s just an excuse someone invented in a pathetic attempt to make this whole sordid mess palatable. As I said, Melania knows what she married. She’s probably thrilled he takes his mushroom elsewhere.

  16. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Not the IT Dept.:

    he didn’t want to look like a pathetic loser who had to pay for sex.

    I hardly want to defend Dennison, but he wasn’t paying for sex. Screwing porn stars is part of his brand. If not for the election he would be bragging about it to anyone and everyone who would listen.
    He was paying for the silence of porn stars in the immediate aftermath of the pussy tape, and in the weeks preceding the election. Individual-1 is not guilty of prostitution; he is guilty of conspiring to defraud the United States in order to aid in his election.

  17. de stijl says:

    Melania did well. There is no gold watch party for retiring from modelling. You are retired rather than choosing to retire when you can no longer book any more shoots because no one wants you.

    The optimal retirement plan is to marry a rich and famous guy.

    The boot-strappy plan is real estate agent.

    The rest become hostesses and bartenders scrapping for tips.

    It’s a brutal business and life.

  18. Paul L. says:

    No mention from Doug about Stormy Daniels Ordered to Pay $293K in Legal Fees to Donald Trump After Losing Lawsuit .

    Just like the True the Vote lawsuit, post when dismissed and ignore when reinstated on appeal.

    1
    14
  19. Gustopher says:

    @PJ: Hire them for the campaign, to warm up the crowd before the rallies, and sign them to a very broad confidentiality agreement as part of that.

    It’s tacky, but so are the rallies. If a story of a private relationship gets out, it’s obscured by the legal, public relationship — “no, he wasn’t sleeping with porn stars, he was using them in his rallies.”

    Then stop using them. “They were great, but we decided they weren’t the image we wanted to project to evangelical voters. We have a contract with them for the next 12 rallies, but we won’t be using them.”

    Drag out paying the majority of the money until after the election.

  20. Gustopher says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Banks can, and will, report a series of under $10,000 withdrawals, if they look like someone is structuring their withdrawals to avoid reporting. This is what happened to Dennis Hastert, I believe.

    Moving this much money around quietly is a problem.

    (Of course, if the rumors of the Trump organization being involved in money laundering are true, they should have that expertise.)

  21. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Paul L.:
    That was a defamatyion lawsuit…hardly germaine.
    Is there any point at which you will accept that your Dear Leader is very likely a criminal?
    What would that take?
    Or are you like Orin Hatch…you don’t care if he is?

  22. EddieInCA says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    To further Michael’s point… I’ve worked for three billionaires in my career. The poorest one was worth $2.8 billion. One thing I can tell you is that everyone of those three had $500,000 cash, minimum, in a safe somewhere in their home or office. Every. One. Of. Them.

    Why? Because sometimes you need cash to do dirty work. You want to pay off an inspector to approve the new pool house, even though it’s larger than allowed by Beverly Hills ordinances? Just go to the safe and pull out an inch of 50’s. That will do it. No record. What cash payment? Prove it. You need to pay off an entire hotel staff to protect the fact that your lead macho actor was found, drunk in bed with two men, wearing a tail and ball gag? Visit the safe and pull out three inches of 100’s. Easy peasy.

    Bottom line, as Michael said, this could have easily been handled like these things are usually handled. But he involved his lawyer, his CFO, a completely separate entity (AMI), David Pecker, and who knows who else. It was amateurish, which isn’t surprising because it’s obvious Trump isn’t that smart.

    Also, it shows he’s not worth as much as he says he is. Otherwise, like most Billionaires, he’d have s stash of cash somewhere. Rumor among billionaires is it Richard Branson kept more than a million in cash at each residence, very safely hidden away.

  23. Kathy says:

    @CSK:

    As to the pre-nup, it probably requires mostly that she keep her face and figure.

    I figure he has a Barney Stinson class prenup. One that allows him to be married and behave as though he remained the single, sexist pig he is at heart.

  24. de stijl says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    He doesn’t care. Provable crimes are actually a plus. Makes Trump a bad-ass rebel (yell) like Merle and Hank and Hank Jr.

    Which pains me because I do love Hank Williams Sr. dearly.

    I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry – Hank Williams
    https://youtu.be/4WXYjm74WFI

    Lost Highway
    https://youtu.be/lCgicPdsxxg

    He was a banally awful boozehound person in real life, but he was touched by some songwriting magic somehow still.

  25. CSK says:

    @Kathy:

    And I’m sure that doesn’t bother her in the least. She’s relieved he goes elsewhere.

  26. de stijl says:

    @EddieInCA:

    So Trump also bollixed up the base behavior of how to not fuck up as a “rich guy”? So shocked!

  27. Teve says:

    Hot new headline I just saw said butina admits creating back door to Russia through NRA.

  28. Teve says:

    @Gustopher:

    you know, about this $10,000 thing, I always figured that’s what the feds and the banks said publicly, and the real number was 9 Grand, so they catch everybody trying to do that shit 😀

  29. MarkedMan says:

    @Michael Reynolds: @Michael Reynolds: Your posts are dead-on in this thread, and this quote reminds me of something:

    Instead the dumb fck dragged his lawyer and the National Enquirer into it and made it a conspiracy.

    Talking Points Memo had a bunch of background on this earlier in the year. It appears that he initially tried to stiff Cohen on the payment for this. And that reflexive cheapness has gotten Trump in a good share of trouble on its own. So yeah, he’s stupid and he surrounds himself with stupid or damaged people and that, on its own, is enough to pretty much guarantee Mueller will eat him alive. I mean, by now even our resident Trumpers here must be asking themselves how likely it is that this shambolic clown didn’t leave evidence laying around in plain sight? How likely it is that his need to lash out and belittle the people that work for him won’t result in more of them going to the Feds if only to give Trump back a fraction of the humiliation he visited upon them. Given that Pearce and company came into this thinking Trump was an N Dimensional genius, maybe they believe he still has a master plan.

    But… he has that miser’s soul. Remember when there was a Washington Post reporter writing stories about how phony Trump’s charity was and how he frequently made big, public announcements about donations to various good causes and then stiffed them? And how, right in the middle of the investigations, Trump skipped a debate and instead had a “fund raiser” for veteran’s charities and then tried to keep the money for himself. Hell, even after being exposed he still tried to wait it out and stiff the charities. Even a moron could see that he would be caught out. But that miser’s heart gets him every time. He sees that cash and his heart says “MINE!” and he can’t let it go, no matter how stupid it is to make a grab for it.

    So, what are the odds that he didn’t do something stupid and obvious in this whole criminal operation with respect to a cash grab? What are the odds that in taking assistance from the Russians or the Saudis he didn’t also help himself to a little something on the side?

    Never bet on stupid.

  30. MarkedMan says:

    @Teve: Years ago I did some consulting work for the Bureau of Engraving and Printing in DC. (Like Scrooge McDuck, I have literally stood in a room with 100 dollar bills stacked up around me until I couldn’t see my way past them. Surprisingly, not as thrilling as it sounds…) Over a 2-3 year period there were three cases of internal theft that I learned about, each of them such a poignant window onto the human condition. One of them directly applied to what you said above. A fairly senior official was arrested when caught depositing stolen $100 bills in his bank account. How he got them is a fascinating story for another day, but he got caught because he thought he knew the law, and in his understanding, the law said that banks only reported deposits of $10K or more. It turns out that the law actually states something to the effect that banks are obligated to report all suspicious transactions, and that $10K+ cash deposits are automatic. So when our genius hero walked in, week after week, and deposited $9800 in brand new, sequentially numbered $100 bills, a phone call was immediately placed to the feds, who looked him up and thought, “Now look at that. He works in the one place in the world where $100 bills are printed. What are the odds?”

  31. de stijl says:

    @Teve:

    you know, about this $10,000 thing, I always figured that’s what the feds and the banks said publicly, and the real number was 9 Grand, so they catch everybody trying to do that shit

    I used to live in that world and the only answer that won’t put me in jail is {wink}.

    Structured, layered cash withdrawals or deposits will attract attention, but the $9K scammers are usually tiny or little fish or cut-outs.

    The OCC ain’t dummies.

  32. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @PJ: Yes, reported, but do they have to be memorandized?
    Personal contribution: $300,000
    (20 lines down)
    Payment to Stephanie Clifford: $150,000
    (15 additional lines)
    Payment to Karen McDougal: $150,000
    “Services Rendered” need to be included? (I suspect not, but I’ve never read a campaign report, so I don’t know.) That’s what we have lawyers for, to contextalize.

  33. Teve says:

    An American lobbyist on Friday admitted brokering access to President Trump’s inauguration for a pro-Russian Ukrainian oligarch in a scheme that highlighted the rush by foreign interests to influence the new administration.

    As part of a plea agreement under which he pledged to cooperate with federal prosecutors, the lobbyist, Sam Patten, pleaded guilty to failing to register as a foreign agent for a Russia-aligned Ukrainian political party, and to helping the Ukrainian oligarch who had funded that party illegally purchase four tickets to Mr. Trump’s inauguration.

    Although the charges were not brought by the special counsel investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, Robert S. Mueller III, they stem from his team’s work, and overlap substantially with its continuing investigation, suggesting that Mr. Patten could be a useful witness.

    Nyt.

    I kind of want Republicans to visibly not care about crime after crime after crime for the next couple of years. After that they won’t be able to get a smart young person’s vote until the end of days.

  34. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @de stijl: That was pretty cold. Accurate enough, but still… brutal cold, man.

  35. de stijl says:

    @Teve:

    I kind of want Republicans to visibly not care about crime after crime after crime for the next couple of years. After that they won’t be able to get a smart young person’s vote until the end of days.

    Hang it on ’em. Make ’em own it. Criminals and traitors.

    Still, 2 years from now ~46% – 54% of the votes will be for the R candidate guaranteed. The job is to make the 46% outcome a reality. Notorious RBG can’t hold out forever.

  36. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Teve: The real number is probably closer still to the 5 grand it was back in the days before billionaires (and pseudo-billionaires) became common.

  37. de stijl says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    That was pretty cold. Accurate enough, but still… brutal cold, man.

    Just keepin’ it real, homie.

    (Sorry, I’ve been re-playing GTA 5 and the dialog has invaded my brain. I’m a sponge. Lamar cracks me up.)

  38. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @MarkedMan: I don’t remember the circumstances of how I got it anymore, but when I was in my early 20s, I deposited one $100 bill in my savings account. The teller pulled out a form, asked me where I had gotten the bill and asked me to sign the form. When I asked the teller about it she told me that it was unusual for a person my age to have such a bill, so she was required by the bank to report the transaction. I thanked her and went on my way; proud to know that I could be mistaken for a criminal mastermind.

  39. de stijl says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    I don’t remember the circumstances of how I got it anymore…

    Pimpin’

    When I asked the teller about it she told me that it was unusual for a person my age to have such a bill…

    You looked like a buster. (Sorry! Again, GTA 5)

  40. Teve says:

    @de stijl:

    We talk about demographic changes all the time around here, and I’m a data guy so a few years ago I looked up the numbers and made a chart. It took about 30 minutes. A chart of the percentage of the popular vote Republicans got in each election since Nixon. There is a slow, clear, trendline, and it ain’t positive. I wish I still had that graph.

  41. de stijl says:

    @Teve:

    It took about 30 minutes.

    No data guy fesses up to doing something usable in 30 minutes. Think about the billable hours, man!

  42. Teve says:
  43. Teve says:

    Now people are starting to go to jail for shit that happened during Trump’s inauguration. apparently they funneled a bunch of Russian money through that too.

    Everything these people do is a crime.

  44. de stijl says:

    “Member when “WE ARE A NATION OF LAWS!!” was *the* R it thing to say back in ’98? lol

    Remember how beet red and super creepy Orrin Hatch used to get when he got his Righteousness meter pegged on 10?

    Good times!

    Orrin Hatch yesterday:

    “No because I don’t think he was involved in crimes but even then, you know, you can make anything a crime under the current laws; if you want to you can blow it way out of proportion you can do a lot of things,” Hatch said, according to a Raja tweet.

    It’s adorable! Moral relativity from the conscience of the Senate. Bye, Felicia!

  45. de stijl says:

    @Teve:

    it was only like 12 data points.

    Still, milk it.

    Consultant DBA work and DA work are technical jobs I will take and crush, but Process Analysis gigs are the best because it basically boils down to you have really smart, motivated people stuck in unproductive roles. Listen to them! Here’s my bill, dumbass CEO.

  46. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Teve:

    Orrin Hatch yesterday:

    “No because I don’t think he was involved in crimes but even then, you know, you can make anything a crime under the current laws; if you want to you can blow it way out of proportion you can do a lot of things,” Hatch said, according to a Raja tweet.

    And Trump is worried about getting the help of establishment Republicans? What are they gonna do? Turn their back on all the anger and bias that he can generate among their loyal followers?

  47. MarkedMan says:

    Way back during the campaign, I, along with Reynolds and some of the usual gang, said that there was simply no innocent explanation for the change in the Republican platform to remove the call for sanctions on the Russians. And some of us commented about how Trump, around that time and in the midst of a press conference where he was babbling on and revealing his general ignorance about everything, suddenly took a question from an obscure Russian reporter and gave a surprisingly cogent answer, the only one during the whole farce. And it was about lifting sanctions. And… (drum roll)… it turns out that wasn’t an obscure Russian reporter who asked Trump that question. She turns out to be none other than Maria Butina, who just plead guilty to acting as a spy for the Russian government and is now cooperating with the feds.

  48. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Paul L.:

    No mention from Doug about Stormy Daniels Ordered to Pay $293K in Legal Fees to Donald Trump After Losing Lawsuit .

    Dude. When you yell squirrel! you need something more than a dead chipmunk. Your cult leader is the head of the world’s most inept crime family. And you re just starting to realize it, aren’t you? Little queasiness in the stomach?

  49. Michael Reynolds says:

    @MarkedMan:
    The NRA more than doubled what they gave to Republican presidential candidates in 2016. . . and promptly went broke. So obviously the NRA, by then enamored of Butina, was used as a funnel for Russian money to support Trump. Once the Russians had what they wanted, they turned off the money spigot.

    You know, it’s a good thing Putin controls his media, otherwise Russians might start wondering just what the reckless showboat has achieved. They’ve done some serious damage, yes, but what’s their end game? They were a Brazil no one really liked, and now, thanks to Putin, they’re a Brazil actively hated and mistrusted by the entire West. Putin’s got no end game. God knows he’s smarter than Trump, but that’s a very low bar, and I’m starting to think Putin’s really a bit of a putz.

    How nice is it to watch the NRA dragged through the mud? It’s a bonus scene!

  50. de stijl says:

    I actually sorely miss process analysis gigs.

    You learn interesting things like how commercial asbestos removal works, and basic restaurant-level Swedish, and pricing sub-prime mortgage pools. And you meet great people.

    You find out that 22 yo recent grad Luke who was hired to replace Heather produces the single most important piece of information for sales planning and Luke doesn’t know that and Nancy doesn’t even know who Luke is beyond the e-mail header on the daily sales report. Turns out Nancy could benefit from basic time analysis she was to date tracking on Excel YTD sales vs. previous years, MTD same, week X vs. week X of previous years by weather conditions, by geography, by whatever.

    I know that Chino has NO in it but is actually south and that Chico is north (that was frankly quite embarrassing) and what eucalyptus trees smell like at dawn. My dude Luke got a bump and a boat load of SQL training and the primer on the visual display of quantitative information.

  51. de stijl says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Putin’s got no end game.

    He wants to reconstitute the empire and the old-school Soviet sphere of influence. So Ukraine, Belarus, the Baltic states, the Caucus states and the …’stans. Either officially Russian or just under his thumb.

    An extended empire is a buffer zone.

    But right now Putin is bonkers on Ukraine. It is likely that Putin invades Ukraine before the end of the year with a major military force..

  52. Teve says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: if you’re a sophisticated beltway player you can appear to support Trump while undermining him in obscure procedural ways the trumpers won’t see.

  53. Teve says:

    Wow. Casler Noel, who worked on The apprentice for 6 years, says the reason Trump sniffs all the time and rage tweets at like 3 a.m. is because he crushes up adderal and snorts it.

  54. Jen says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:
    Yes, you have to put a name in with a payment. Anything payment that leaves to “to” field blank would raise questions, and with all of campaign finance being online these days a blank field might even throw an error.

    @Kathy:

    Campaign finance reports are very available during the campaign–reporting periods are publicized extensively and it’s all available online through the FEC website. This is how/why we get the stories of “candidate x raised $1 million in the last quarter” etc.

    Campaign finance reporting is somewhat arcane as a topic, but it isn’t that hard. It’s all online now, and any contribution over $200 must have a name, address, and what the person does for a living attached to it. Payments out need to have the amount, to whom the payment was sent, and what it was for (rent, salaries, etc.)

  55. PJ says:

    @Paul L.:

    No mention from Doug about Stormy Daniels Ordered to Pay $293K in Legal Fees to Donald Trump After Losing Lawsuit .

    Buhu. No one is reporting the good news. Buhu. Like when the porn actress who Trump paid to keep quiet had pay him! Buhu.

  56. CSK says:

    Too funny: Trump is now saying that Cohen was a low-level employee who did mostly p.r. instead of legal work.

  57. Kathy says:

    @Jen:

    Thanks.

    I get that if large payments to unknown people show up, reporters will dig and find out all kinds of stuff. But that can be managed. Means to cover that up have been suggested already.

    Also, if the claimed reason were real, then Trump could pay up with his money, having both women (and perhaps others?) sign NDAs stating the payment was to avoid having Melania catch her cheating husband cheating on her. All outside the campaign.

    It’s not the fall that hurts you, but the sudden stop at the end. In politics it’s not so much the crime that hurts you, but the cover-up.

  58. Michael Reynolds says:

    @de stijl:
    Russia isn’t big enough to accomplish Putin’s fantasy. He rules an utterly corrupt, backward nation, a criminal conspiracy of a nation. He doesn’t have the economy to reconstitute the old USSR. And the goal is idiotic in any case, no one is launching a land invasion of Russia for God’s sake, there is 0% chance, so against whom is he building his buffer? He’s as stupidly obsessed as Trump, two dummies who don’t seem to know what millennium it is.

    We will be rid of our Manchurian president soon and then what does Putin have? A US that sees him clearly as the enemy, ditto Germany, France, the UK, countries with a combined GDP 18 times that of Russia. He’s in much the same position at Japan the day after Pearl Harbor: swell surprise attack, boys, but you’re really just a broke-ass, second-rate thugocracy.

  59. Zachriel says:

    @Teve: you know, about this $10,000 thing, I always figured that’s what the feds and the banks said publicly, and the real number was 9 Grand, so they catch everybody trying to do that shit

    There’s no rule that says you can’t simply withdraw $1 million in cash. It just gets reported to the IRS who may have some questions for you. People structure because they are trying to hide something. If you have nothing to hide, and would like to take a lie down on your cash, then simply withdraw the funds.

    There may be a problem with the recipient incurring an income tax liability if the money is “earned”, but gifts of $15,000 or less are not taxable. However, Trump wanted the benefit of a non-disclosure agreement to use as a threat.

  60. Jen says:

    @Kathy: Agreed, absolutely.

    I’ll go back to what I said months ago: Trump’s “outsider” shtick, along with having such a small and inexperienced campaign staff feeds into this. The combination of greed, arrogance, being cheap with his own money, and not understanding campaign finance law (and not hiring and/or listening to someone who did) is a bad combination.

    The campaign violated campaign finance law when they sent emails soliciting campaign contributions overseas–remember that? It seemed like they purchased an email list and then just sent solicitations to everyone. It’s against the law to even solicit foreign donations. I had a feeling then that no one was bothering to learn or understand what was okay and what wasn’t.

    This is the completely inevitable result of that. And as we all know, ignorance of the law is not a defense.

  61. Paul L. says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    That was a defamatyion lawsuit…hardly germaine.

    Let us check the Stormy Daniels tag.
    Stormy Daniels Sues Donald Trump For Defamation by Doug Mataconis

    With more of the wisdom of
    michael reynolds says:
    Wednesday, May 2, 2018 at 19:14

    @James Pearce:
    This is all about discovery. Stormy doesn’t need another 130k, she can do a book deal for ten times that. Personal appearances at a good 30 or 40k a pop. Endorsement deals. Her own porn site. I’ve never seen her acting, but if she’s any good she might even get a shot at some indie films. A clothing line? Stormy-wear? If she’s smart – and she certainly does seem smart – she’ll earn ten million in the next two years, minimum, and possibly much more.

    She’s a role model now, a defender of women’s rights, a hero. Trump doesn’t have the kind of money it’d take to shut her up, and I suspect she’s smart enough to ride this train through to the end. She could end up in history books as the woman who brought down a president, and that’s got to be heady stuff for a porn star.

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