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DOJ policy blocking Trump from being indicted ‘factored into’ the end of the Stormy Daniels case: report

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Federal prosecutors decided to close the investigation into the 2016 criminal hush money payment to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal that benefitted the Trump campaign because, in part, of the policy that prevents the indictment of a sitting president, according to a new report from USA Today citing an anonymous source.

Michael Cohen has already pleaded guilty to the violation of campaign finance law. He said that he carried out the effort in coordination with and at the direction of then-candidate Donald Trump in order to increase his chances of victory in the 2016 presidential election.

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But just as Special Counsel Robert Mueller concluded he could not charge Trump with a crime due to standing Justice Department policy, it seems prosecutors in the Southern District of New York regarded the same rules as binding on them. And according to “a person familiar with the matter” cited by USA Today, “the Justice Department’s opinion that a president cannot be indicted factored into the decision to end the probe.”

The source, however, said, “it was unclear whether prosecutors made a determination that they had sufficient evidence to bring a case against Trump or anyone other than.” Given this caveat, it’s not clear how deeply involved this source was in the case and decision-making itself. And as with any story based on a single source — and not yet confirmed by any other outlet — ample skepticism is warranted. The detail also suggests that it’s possible that even were Trump not president, he might not have been indicted in the case.

The report is plausible on its face. Cohen’s testimony, public recordings, newly released court filings, and the facts of the case all strongly suggest Trump was involved directly in the criminal payments. But we know that DOJ policy would prevent Trump from being indicted even if prosecutors had rock-solid evidence against him.

“DOJ had tied Trump pretty closely to the illegal hush-payments,” noted USA Today editor Brad Heath. “It alleged that they were made at his direction. And earlier today, it revealed that the FBI knew he participated in phone calls with aides when the scheme was hatched.”

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Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

We need your support to keep producing quality journalism and deepen our investigative reporting. Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Invest with us in the future. Make a one-time contribution to Raw Story Investigates, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.



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‘A heat-seeking missile for Trump’s ass’: Mike Pompeo torn to shreds by ex-US officials in brutal New Yorker profile

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The New Yorker has published a profile of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo this week and it features some very unflattering quotes about him from former colleagues.

The piece discusses how Pompeo has gone from being a Trump critic during the 2016 presidential election to being one of his most loyal defenders. One former White House official tells the publication that "there will never be any daylight publicly between [Pompeo] and Trump" and described the secretary of state as "among the most sycophantic and obsequious people around Trump."

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Believe it or not, good news: Trump’s counterattack against clean energy is collapsing

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For two years the cabal of fossil fools surrounding Donald Trump have  leveraged an impulsive president's loathing of his predecessor, tapped their reactionary right-wing networks, mobilized coal and oil lobbies and political donations, and thrown themselves vigorously into two missions:

 Bring back the coal industry and stop the “Stalinist” threat of wind and solar power.Freeze the transition from oil-powered cars and trucks to electricity by reversing Obama-era plans to encourage cleaner, more efficient vehicle fleets.

In the last several weeks, the futility of both these efforts to strangle the future have become clear.

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Conservatives went insane over the New York Times’ ambitious slavery project — but why?

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Last week, The New York Times published a powerful and unusual feature called the "1619 Project," which marked the 400-year anniversary of a pivotal, but largely forgotten, event that defined everything about America as first a British colony, and then a nation, through history and up to the president day: the first recorded arrival of a ship loaded with enslaved Africans.

One of the curious responses to the 1619 Project, however, was the massive explosion of outrage from Republicans and conservative commentators. Why, exactly, did an in-depth discussion of slavery trigger such a firestorm from the right?

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