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Trump Kicks Off the Week With Some Light Witness Tampering

The president praised Roger Stone for refusing to testify against him and bashed Michael Cohen for cooperating

President Donald Trump speaks to reporters following his teleconference with troops from his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla. on Nov. 22, 2018.

President Donald Trump speaks to reporters following his teleconference with troops from his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla. on Nov. 22, 2018.

Susan Walsh/AP/Shutterstock

President Trump’s trip to Argentina for the G-20 summit was relatively subdued. He bailed on a press conference “out of respect for the Bush Family.” He refrained from bro-ing out with Vladimir Putin and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman. He dined with Chinese President Xi Jinping. But on Monday morning the president was back in the same time zone as the special counsel’s office, which quickly consumed his thinking. After firing off some tweets about the questionable progress he made with Xi, Trump unloaded on the the Russia investigation. “Bob Mueller (who is a much different man than people think) and his out of control band of Angry Democrats, don’t want the truth, they only want lies,” the president tweeted. “The truth is very bad for their mission!”

Pretty uninspired. It gets better.

Before trying to convince America that Mueller is leading a crazed gang of corruptible liberals, Trump attacked his beleaguered former attorney, Michael Cohen, while praising his beleaguered former adviser, Roger Stone, who has said he will not cooperate with federal investigators. “‘I will never testify against Trump,'” Trump tweeted. “This statement was recently made by Roger Stone, essentially stating that he will not be forced by a rogue and out of control prosecutor to make up lies and stories about ‘President Trump.’ Nice to know that some people still have ‘guts!'”

The president behaving a like a mob boss is nothing new, but in this particular instance he may have actually committed a crime. As noted by George Conway, the lawyer and husband of Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s tweet is in pretty clear violation of U.S. legal statutes 1503 and 1512, which cover obstruction of justice and witness tampering. It’s hard to argue that praising those who don’t cooperate with federal investigators while slamming those who do doesn’t qualify, especially as the figures mentioned are currently grappling with charges or potential charges. Fortunately for Trump, the man he installed at the top of the Justice Department last month is a big fan of Trump and not so much of the law.

Stone said during an interview with ABC’s This Week on Sunday that there is “no circumstance in which I would testify against the president.” The “dirty trickster” of Republican politics has come under scrutiny for his potential contact with WikiLeaks prior to the 2016 election, and many feel an indictment could be imminent. Jerome Corsi, a friend of Stone’s who said he learned the details of WikiLeaks’ plan to release hacked Democratic emails in October 2016 through “divine intervention,” said last week that he’d “rather sit in prison and rot” than take the plea deal offered to him by Mueller. Both Corsi and Stone could be angling for a pardon from Trump, although both have dismissed the idea that the president could reward their loyalty. “I’ve had no discussion regarding a pardon,” Stone told ABC on Sunday.

Trump has already said that he hasn’t taken the idea of pardoning Paul Manafort “off the table.” The president’s one-time campaign manager was convicted in August of a host of financial crimes, and last week was charged additionally for having lied to investigators, which was in violation of his plea deal. After he was first convicted, Trump called Manafort a “brave man” for refusing to cooperate with federal investigators, “unlike Michael Cohen,” who had just pleaded guilty to violating campaign finance laws and later agreed to cooperate with the special counsel’s office. Trump used Cohen as a foil again on Monday morning, weighing in on how he believes his former fixer should be sentenced.

Trump’s renewed ire toward his former confidant could be related to the filing Cohen’s lawyers submitted on Friday in which their client admits he was in “close and regular contact” with Trump when he lied to Congress about the president’s plans to develop a Trump Tower Moscow. Cohen said in court last week that his false statements about the project were made “out of loyalty” to the president, and the Friday filing makes clear that the lies were crafted in conjunction with the president. “In each case, the conduct was intended to benefit [Trump], in accordance with [Trump]’s directives,” Cohen’s lawyers wrote. Trump has said that his business dealings during the campaign were both “very cool” and “very legal,” although he has failed to explain why his associates have lied compulsively about their interactions with Russia.

In This Article: Donald Trump

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