Let the Sun Shine In.

This evening, lawyers for Michael Cohen filed a letter with Judge Kimba Wood claiming that Michael Avenatti erred with respect to some of alleged payments made to Cohen’s shell company, Essential Consultants L.L.C.  Cohen, through his lawyers, claims that the payments were not made to him. Here’s a challenge:  Have Mr. Cohen disclose all records of all payments reflected in Avenatti’s memo that Cohen acknowledges were actually made to him or Essential Consultants, including, but not limited to, (don’t you love that lawyer-talk), the following:

  1. All e-mails and voice mails between Cohen/Essential Consultants, on one side, and the payors, on the other, leading up to the initiation of the payments through the date(s) that the payments ceased being made;
  2. All records of the payments themselves, including contracts with the payors, checks, invoices, and receipts; and
  3. All internal records of Cohen/Essential Consultants detailing the work performed.

Now, if Mr. Cohen will not provide this information, the payors, many of whom have made serial and conflicting explanations for the payments, should provide all of the documentary information that they have with regard to the payments.

I would note that, under New York law, “Generally, licensed professionals may not set up a general business corporation (GBC) to provide professional services.”  Thus, any engagement with Essential Consultants was not for the purpose of seeking legal advice.  Therefore, any communications with Cohen, in his role as the sole member or manager of Essential Consultants, is not protected by the attorney/client privilege.

Portrait of a panic

At a Trump rally in Reno today, the Secret Service rushed the candidate off the stage after people in the audience saw a protester  and yelled “He’s got a gun.” The man was arrested and taken out of the arena after people in the Trump crowd had finished hitting and choking him.

A few minutes later, Trump was back on stage, saying “Nobody said it was going to be easy for us but we will never be stopped.” His campaign issued a statement in his name saying “I would like to thank the United States Secret Service and the law enforcement resources in Reno and the state of Nevada for their fast and professional response. Nothing will stop us — we will make America great again!”

In the meantime, one of his Twitter fans started bragging about how brave he’d been in the face of an “assassination attempt.” Trump’s Director of Social Media, Dan Scavino, retweeted that Tweet; so did Donald Trump, Jr.  Joe Walsh thundered “How come it’s only the Left that incites violence, shuts down events, & now attempts to take out the opposition?”

Now it turns out that:

  1. There was no gun.
  2. The man was a holding a sign that said “Republicans Against Trump.” 
  3. He was mobbed by Trump supporters.
  4. He has now been released without charges.

So all that fake heroism and panic turned out to be about nothing at all except the hyperactive panic reflex of a bunch of Trump supporters, the cynical willingness of the campaign to exploit the incident to create fear, and of course the willingness to be fooled – bordering on eagerness – among not only Trumpites but elements of the media.

Can you imagine the mockery Trump & Co. would have directed at Hillary Clinton if she’d run away from a nonexistent gun?

Gingrichism Rampant: Trump’s Threats to Delegitimize Democracy Repeat the Standard GOP Playbook

Lots of hand-wringing through the internets today over Donald Trump’s accusations that the voting system is rigged and that even if he loses, he didn’t really lose because, well, the system was rigged. And it gets worse, because of the statements of Trump consigliere and sleazeball Roger Stone concerning the issue. Stone said that Trump’s supporters will “shut the government down” if Clinton wins.

Their inauguration will be a rhetorical, and when I mean civil disobedience, not violence, but it will be a bloodbath. The government will be shut down if they attempt to steal this and swear Hillary in. No, we will not stand for it.

The “government will be shut down” is a tell, although not the only one. It is crucial to point out that Trump’s and his surrogates’ threats of physical violence and delegitimation of American democracy is doing nothing but extending Republican Party tactics to their logical conclusion. Five years ago on this page I referred to these tactics as Gingrichism, i.e. the destruction of the informal institutions of American governance. The process began with Gingrich but did not end with him, because the entire GOP is the party of permanent constitutional crisis.

Repeated government shutdowns, impeachment, the use of congressional investigations for political purposes, threatening the full faith and credit of the United States, Mitch McConnell’s throwing the Senate into dysfunction, the violent shutting down of the Palm Beach County recount (aka “The Brooks Brothers Riot”) and of course Bush v Gore all represent the Republican Party’s attempts to crush the informal norms that make democracy work. Trump’s most recent threats are simply the latest iteration and nothing outside what has become the Standard Operating Procedure for the GOP.

The irony is that if there is a threat to election integrity, it comes from Trump’s friends in the Kremlin, who will have little compunction hacking into US voting machines.

All in all, it’s good that I have taken up Post-apocalyptic literature as a hobby. At least I won’t be surprised.

The Sign Against The Donald

Trump took a couple of hits tonight – losing Maine was a surprise – and apparently he did as well as he did only because of big leads in early voting, faring much worse among those who voted on Election Day. Still, he’s more likely than not to be the Republican nominee – just above three in five, according to the latest odds – and he has a strong claim to being the most personally loathsome character ever to get this close to the Presidency. So there’s a patriotic duty to help take him down.

Anyway, everyone wants to see a bully get what’s coming to him.

What the country really needs right now is a public meltdown by The Donald. And clearly the two things that most drive him around the bend are (1) ridicule and (2) any challenge to his masculinity.

So here’s a simple idea. Every time anyone mentions Donald Trump, make this familiar – and entirely proper – gesture.

Just as the superstitious make the Sign Against the Evil Eye to ward off misfortune when speaking or hearing words of ill omen, let us all make The Sign Against The Donald whenever we say or hear the accursed name.

If you’re feeling creative, you might incorporate The Sign, with the Trump name or image, into a T-shirt, cap (presumably in red), or poster.

Better yet, if you’re bold enough to go to a Trump rally, or fortunate enough to encounter him in public, don’t shout rude slogans; just hold up your hand and make The Sign Against The Donald.  For extra bonus points, you could do so while whistling the Colonel Bogey march.

Update An early adopter.

The meme is taking off.