I listen to the end of the week recap on PBS Newshour with syndicated columnist Mark Shields and conservative writer, NYT David Brooks.
Here’s an excerpt from 7.27.18
So, Russia. I have to ask you both about, I guess, a number of developments in the Russia investigation this week.
David, I guess the one that’s getting all the attention right now is the report that the president knew before Donald Trump Jr. met with that Russian lawyer at Trump Tower in the middle of 2016. The president’s denying it. We talked to Nick Schifrin about it earlier. But are we looking at serious political jeopardy? The president — people who believe the president are still believing him. Everybody else is saying, aha.
How do we look at it?
Yes, I’m sitting out these recent allegations of Michael Cohen, just because I don’t know whether he’s believable. He’s in legal jeopardy. I mean, it just — it’s fishy. I wouldn’t want to like — if you were a journalist, you wouldn’t want to write a story based on — and say that definitely is true.
On the other hand, I have been a skeptic of the Russia thing. And so I have had like it from zero to 10. I have been a three for a long time, just because I think there was no campaign to collude. So they probably collude.
**> ** > I have to say I’m moving up to a five or six these days, just because there’s been clouds of behavior that does begin to smell pretty fishy. And those are clouds of behavior surrounding whether the Russians actually got analytics from the Democratic computers and handed it to the Trump campaign.
Those are weird timings with the Russian assaults connected to Trump tweets and Trump statements. And then on the — on the obstruction of justice side, what Mueller is looking over, the tweets, and the whole constellation of things. >
So, again, there’s no one thing where you can say they colluded. That still seems to elude us, but there are clouds of behavior that make it seem a little more plausible.
Clouds of behavior, Mark?
I think so.
I would say a face-off in integrity between Donald Trump and Michael Cohen is not to be confused with Mother Teresa against Abraham Lincoln. >
I mean, both of them start with enormous obstacles and impediments to believability.
But the man formally who used to be Rudy Giuliani, who’s become the flack for Donald Trump, said last night that — said actually earlier that Michael Cohen is an honorable man, a man of integrity and an honest lawyer.
And last night, he was — he’s been lying for years, lying all his life, according to Mr. Giuliani.
This is from Mr. Trump, who said he was going to bring nothing but the best people, at least a half of whom have left since they got here. But it — most of all, Judy, I think the question about Russia remains, why does Donald Trump, this assertive alpha male, turn into this submissive, cloying, almost eager-to-please person, a suitor, around the real alpha male, Putin?
And why — if you’re a — if you’re a Republican, in a year where Republicans are very much on the defensive, you’re one of four dozen Republicans running in a House district that is up for grabs or trending Democrat from Republican, why can’t — you want to talk about the economy.
You want to talk about that. And why Donald Trump wants to have another — another summit meeting, where it gets nothing but bad press?
Well, what about that, David?
Yes. It’s the axis of testosterone. They’re like same kind of guys.
Some people think, oh, Trump has — Putin must have something on Trump. There’s some blackmail. There’s something like that.
I think — I — maybe that’s true. To me, it totally makes sense that Trump admires the cut of Putin’s jib, and he has a long history of business ties with Russia. They — ideologically, they have actually some similarities.
If you look at the European parties that are populist like Trump, they all are pro-Putin. They just think, I like strongmen. That guy is a strongman, my kind of guy. >
And bullies can be sycophantic toward better bullies.
And so I take the psychological, cultural, more than the blackmail theory. But I could be wrong.
Yes, both @Pet_Proletariat and I were wondering, and when I saw the recap today, it does look like Cohen DID release the tapes to CNN, and it was explained that the WH had signed off that these tapes were not proprietary, and could be given to the the SDNY judicial team.
Michael Avenatti was sort of a fence sitter w/ Cohen at that time, saying he was not sure if Cohen was working w/ T or working against him. (I believe Avenatti wanted to ultimately represent Cohen should he turn ?State’s witness, or decide to go up against the Prez. But looks like Cohen never gave Avenatti that signal.) We are still awaiting to hear if Cohen is going to talk to Mueller’s team, or SCNY or who?
BUT…I did hear at the end of Maddow’s show end of last week…or one of them, may be Ari Melber’s show that it had NOT been verified from Lanny Davis that the Prez team had put out those tapes. I can not put my finger on it exactly, but someone from MSNBC DID walk back that they could not verify that fact.
Oh, it looks like @LannyDavis has NOT put out any current statements past the end of last week on twitter.
The recording, which was provided to CNN by Cohen’s attorney Lanny Davis, was made in September 2016. It’s the latest breakdown in the decade-long relationship between Trump and Cohen, who once said he would take a bullet for the President. Cohen in recent weeks has made clear he is open to cooperating with US prosecutors.
And here’s the speculation from Maddow on MaddowBlog about who gave the tape:
Who leaked the Cohen news?
We don’t know, but it seems highly unlikely that the information came from Cohen or his lawyers. If they have important insights like these to share, Cohen, the subject of an ongoing criminal investigation, would want to alert the special counsel’s office, not the media. Having this information go public may undermine Cohen’s ability to make a deal (which in turn raises the prospect of the leak having come from Trump World).