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Trump's allegations of Justice Department bribery tie back to his valet's lawyer
Trump's Truth Social rant on Thursday accusing a DOJ prosecutor of bribery and intimidation ties back to an allegation that Trump's personal valet's lawyer lobbed at the prosecution, according to a new report.
The Guardian's Hugo Lowell explained that the recent Trumpattack references a conversation the Justice Department had with the former president's personal valet Walt Nauta. According to the claim, a prosecutor mentioned an application that Nauta's lawyer sent in for a municipal judgeship in the course of attempting to get testimony against Trump. The DOJ has no control over judgeships.
"Nauta had already spoken to prosecutors in the investigation when they called his lawyer Stanley Woodward and summoned him to a meeting at Justice Department headquarters for an urgent matter that they were reluctant to discuss over the phone," Lowell said, quoting the Trump letter to the DOJ.
"When Woodward arrived at the conference room, he was seated across from several prosecutors working on the investigation, including the chief of the counterintelligence section, Jay Bratt, who explained that they wanted Nauta to cooperate with the government against Trump," the letter continued.
There was no direct threat or promise, according to the Trump description of the events. Still, Trump's lawyers, complaining of misconduct, sought the grand jury's transcripts. "Though a more innocent explanation for the exchange could be, for instance, that Bratt was genuinely surprised to see the application and raised it as an aside," wrote Lowell.
He also wrote that it isn't unusual for prosecutors to research the lawyers they're meeting with, just as Trump's allies have tried to track down dirt on Justice Department employees.
It's unclear whether it will have any impact on the case or the timeline. It's also unknown if Nauta will ultimately be charged with anything if he refuses to cooperate.
“Even if it’s true, it would not rise to the level of prosecutorial misconduct,” former US attorney Joyce Vance told The Guardian. “Prosecutors don’t have any influence over judicial applications, and all the parties to the conversation would have known that.”
Still, Woodward was "unnerved."
The Justice Department continues to refuse comment. Donald Trump's lawyers were given a target letter indicating that the former president is officially being considered for indictment.
The Ohio Constitution currently allows slavery when it's used "for the punishment of crime," but that may not be the case for long, according to a CNN report.
Rep. Dontavius Jarrells, a Democrat, reportedly teamed up with Republican Rep. Phil Plummer to introduce an amendment to the state constitution that would remove slavery and involuntary servitude entirely from the document. The proposed change was referred to the Constitutional Resolutions Committee on Wednesday, according to CNN.
"Lawmakers are proposing the language to change to, 'There shall never be slavery in this state; nor involuntary servitude,'" according to the report.
"Jarrells told CNN that he wants to change 'archaic and outdated language.' He added that many people he has spoken to about the bill are shocked because they don’t know such language exists in the state Constitution."
“I want my children, when they grow up, to live in a state where the vestiges of slavery no longer exist,” Jarrells said, according to the CNN piece.
According to Jarrells, the proposal must be passed by the House and the Senate before it would be put on the general election ballot. At that point, he told CNN, it would require a 50% majority vote plus one to pass.
"While other lawmakers have tried to amend this clause before, this is the first time a measure has bipartisan support," CNN reported. "In 2016, former Ohio State Rep. Alicia Reece introduced a bill to change the language and Rep. Cecil Thomas introduced another joint resolution in 2020 to remove the exception for slavery and involuntary servitude from the Constitution."
Trump thinks using exclamation points and capital letters reduces 'legal jeopardy he faces': reporter
Politico reporter Betsy Woodruff Swan quipped on Thursday that former President Donald Trump appears to be deploying the strategy of innocence through attacks on social media.
Speaking on a panel with former U.S. Attorney Harry Litman and former FBI agent Peter Strzok, MSNBC host Nicolle Wallace asked if it was possible that Trump has already been indicted and it simply isn't public yet.
"I think the short answer is, it's possible. But the short answer is no," Litman said.
Wallace then broached the subject of one of the biggest "tells" for Donald Trump is the level of freakouts on his social media.
"When he was under investigation by Robert Mueller, it was the all-caps threats, his pleas for a Roy Cohen or whoever he thought would shield him from his own Justice Department. If you fast forward, I guess it was more recently his grave disappointment he's been expressing toward Bill Barr and other ex-DOJ officials. I'm not sure what he thinks they could be doing. They certainly did a heck of a lot when they were there."
She asked about deciphers for the all-caps attacks and the fixation on President Joe Biden's foundation office being in "Chinatown" in Washington, D.C. The National Portrait Gallery is also in D.C.'s Chinatown, as is the arena where the Washington Wizards play. There's a Chick-fil-A, a McDonald's and a Starbucks, as well as a number of churches. It appears Trump is using it as another opportunity to link Biden and China in the same sentence.
"It's certainly clear Trump recognizes he's in significant, enormous, legal trouble and he's not thrilled about it," said Swan. "This is the type of rhetoric he's been pushing going all the way back to the very earliest days of the Mueller investigation, seemingly operating under the assumption if he tweets with enough exclamation points and capital letters, it will somehow reduce the amount of legal jeopardy he faces. Also, Trump and his allies see a political benefit to be had in positioning him as this potential victim or this person being attacked by the nefarious forces of the deep state."
The comments come just as The New York Times published a report that Trump and his team are deploying a familiar strategy trying to defend the former president in the court of public opinion.
"Mr. Trump launched a pre-emptive strike against a possible indictment, posting a pair of messages on his social media platform early Thursday morning that sought to delegitimize the inquiry," the report began. "Mr. Trump accused a top federal prosecutor in the documents investigation of seeking to 'bribe & intimidate' a lawyer representing one of the witnesses in the case. He claimed that the prosecutor had offered the lawyer an 'important ‘judgeship’ in the Biden administration' if his client ''flips’ on President Trump."
Co-authored by Trump whisperer Maggie Haberman, the Times report said that the move was part of a playbook Trump "has used time and again to undermine inquiries into his conduct."
The Times said that Trump's lawyers have worked to gather allegations about prosecutors that could damage them personally or professionally as part of a way to bring down the investigation. It's what he did when he attacked special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation by linking it to FBI agent Peter Strzok and Mueller prosecutor Lisa Page, who were having an affair. Their relationship had nothing to do with the Mueller probe, but it gave Trump ammunition to attack the probe, saying that Trump haters were after him. At one point, Trump even went on a tirade against Mueller, saying that he was unethical because he left Trump's country club seven years prior.
Trump aides and lawyers have assembled a list of "misconduct" they say prosecutors in the DOJ can be accused of. It comes as the impending indictment looms.
Trump's "list of grievances was then placed in the draft of a letter written to Attorney General Merrick B. Garland intended to alert Mr. Garland to the lawyers’ concerns about how Mr. Smith’s team has handled the documents case," the report said, citing those close to Trump.
Part of the letters sent to the DOJ also requested a meeting with Garland. Instead, it happened with Trump's lawyers and Smith.
According to the allegation, a top prosecutor in the documents case brought up a municipal judgeship application that one of the lawyers had submitted. Trump's legal team says it was a veiled threat designed to pressure the lawyer into getting his client to cooperate with the feds.
"Throughout his life, Mr. Trump has treated every challenge to him like an ongoing negotiation," said The Times. "His impulse is to go directly to the person he considers the top official of an organization to lodge his complaints... By broadcasting his complaints on social media rather than making them in court papers to a judge, Mr. Trump avoided the normal method of lodging accusations about prosecutorial misconduct — a method that, of course, also puts a burden of veracity and accuracy on the accuser."
See the conversation on "Deadline White House" below or at the link here.
Trump's strategy of attack and smear to prove innocenceyoutu.be
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