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Ash writes: "Nixon's motivation for The Saturday Night Massacre was simple. Nixon was no fool, he understood that forcing the firing of Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox was certain to have severe political repercussions and might likely lead ultimately to his resignation."

Special Counsel Robert Mueller, Washington D.C., 2017. (photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Special Counsel Robert Mueller, Washington D.C., 2017. (photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

This Is Going to Get Very Ugly, Very Quickly

By Marc Ash, Reader Supported News

10 April 18


ixon’s motivation for The Saturday Night Massacre was simple. Nixon was no fool, he understood that forcing the firing of Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox was certain to have severe political repercussions and might likely lead ultimately to his resignation.

He didn’t do it because he thought it was a smart move, he did it because he thought it was the only move he had left. While the final showdown between Nixon and Cox was over the White House tape recordings, the real problem for Nixon was that Cox was closing in and if allowed to continue would, Nixon was sure, force him from office or worse. It was in political terms the nuclear option, and he saved it as his last option.

The fully warranted raids on Donald Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen’s Manhattan office, home and hotel room were technically coordinated by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, not by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team. But Mueller referred the matter to the U.S. Attorney’s Office based on evidence his investigation uncovered, and his presence in the matter is palpable.

In any case the FBI’s Cohen raids were extraordinary, both historically and legally. Normally obtaining warrants that would allow for the seizure of records from an attorney whose client was under federal investigation would draw the most rigorous scrutiny from the courts. It’s a very high threshold, a very high burden of proof for law enforcement. But this is the personal attorney for the president of the United States so the review would have been even more rigorous. Whatever evidence federal investigators presented to the courts had to have been stark, material and compelling.

But that would have been the evidence they had before the raids. Now in possession of Cohen’s devices and documents, investigators acting on behalf of U.S. Attorney’s Office would not face the same limitations Mueller’s team would. They could act on any evidence of criminality they uncovered directly under the jurisdiction U.S. Attorney’s Office or refer appropriate evidence back to the Special Counsel’s office at their discretion.

These developments are not lost on Donald Trump. In unscripted remarks after the raids were reported, Trump took direct aim at Special Counsel Robert Mueller and top officials at the Department of Justice overseeing his probe. He spoke in direct terms about firing Mueller. It was a threat thinly veiled.

When Trump is absolutely certain Mueller will win, he will do what Nixon was forced to do when his moment came. He will cynically use the powers of the presidency to save himself.

At that moment a very real and immediate constitutional crisis is inevitable. It is highly unlikely that Donald Trump will relinquish power in an orderly way. The argument that an American president is not above the law is about to be tested.

Marc Ash is the founder and former Executive Director of Truthout, and is now founder and Editor of Reader Supported News.

Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News. your social media marketing partner


A note of caution regarding our comment sections:

For months a stream of media reports have warned of coordinated propaganda efforts targeting political websites based in the U.S., particularly in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

It is also clear that we still have elements of the same activity in our article discussion forums at this time.

We have hosted and encouraged reader expression since the turn of the century. The comments of our readers are the most vibrant, best-used interactive feature at Reader Supported News. Accordingly, we are strongly resistant to interrupting those services.

It is, however, important to note that in all likelihood hardened operatives are attempting to shape the dialog our community seeks to engage in.

Adapt and overcome.

Marc Ash
Founder, Reader Supported News

+101 # Blackjack 2018-04-10 09:39
Up until now the rule of law is all that has kept Trump from demonstrating even more outrageous behavior than he has. And it will be the manner in which that same rule of law is played out that will save our republic--or not. Nixon cared about the rule of law, though at times, he flaunted it. Trump cares not one whit about it and never has. For him, it has impeded his maneuvers in business affairs and is the only thing that has kept him from being allowed to rule as an absolute dictator. He would like nothing better than to blow the whole thing up. He cannot be allowed to do that, which means that Republicans must step up to the plate and put country above party. So far, that has not happened in congress, but many of the appointees to the federal bench involved in the current situation are Republicans and so far, most of them HAVE stepped up. Let's hope they continue to do so. In the weeks and months to come I have no doubt that our country will face a major constitutional crisis because Trump and his minions will make it so. We MUST survive that, with the rule of law intact!
+81 # Working Class 2018-04-10 09:48
Sadly I agree with Ash's take on what is about to happen. How in the world did we ever elect this President? He as effectively brought his crime family into the highest office in the United States.
+1 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-04-11 05:56
Working -- I think there's a better way to see the mess you and Marc point to. Trump's is not the only crime family at work here. All of those in the FBI, CIA, DOJ who are now assaulting Trump are Bush crime family operatives. McCabe, Comey, Mueller, and many others are Bush republicans. They are out to smash Trump because he mopped the floor with Jeb Bush and he disrespected GW Bush.

Let's not forget that Prescott Bush was OSS and was an original founder of the CIA. the official name of the CIA is the George Herbert Walker Bush Center for Intelligence. Baby Bush was CIA too. For them, Trump is an interloper and a populist voted in by the Teaparty. The CIA is out to smash this movement.

It is just tragic to see democrats siding with the real origin of the chaos that is coming from the CIA, FBI, NSA, and the Bush/Obama DOJ. The Clintons or the Clinton faction in the democratic party are fully on the side of the Bushes. We should be a lot smarter than to join this republican civil war on the side of the Bushes and CIA. We should be cheering on the Trump disruptions of the republican party.

I agree that Trump has a crime family, but he is really a small fry compared to the Bushes and their CIA/FBI.
+7 # chapdrum 2018-04-11 11:51
Trump and "his crime family" ascended the same way that the other Republican (of course)crime family ascended before them.
-108 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-04-10 09:48
Yes, this is really an unprecedented move. I wonder if we will ever see the evidence presented to the court for the warrant. It may leak. Also, not explained is why the Federal Attorney would intervene in a civil case. That makes it seem as if Mueller really orchestrated this raid and he's just using the cover of the US Attorney.

What is happening is that Mueller is going after Michael Cohen's clients. They are a powerful group. They will exert the greatest pressure to end this all. That can only mean they will tell Trump he has to resign. Mueller does not seem to have any evidence of criminal charges, so he is attacking everyone who might be able to pressure Trump. This is the same tactic the US uses in sanctions. It targets Russian oligarchs with the hope that they will overthrow Putin or at least force him to concede to US demands.

This is a dirty operation on Mueller's part. Marc is absolutely right. We have turned to a new phase and it will get very ugly. I'm against Mueller. He ought to be told to prepare his report in 2 weeks. If he can't do that, shut the investigation down. The Russia part has collapsed. What's he got left? Only ugly tricks and typical FBI lawlessness. Blackmail and intimidation of bystanders.
+28 # RMF 2018-04-10 11:09
RR -- why do you call this a "civil case?"

Whether a case is styled "civil" or "criminal" can be very misleading because it is a PROSECUTION in either instance.

Most federal white collar crime law and underlying regulations provide for both civil and criminal penalties.

And whether any ensuing enforcement action is "civil" or "criminal" depends on the facts and circumstances, and the degree of malevolence, malfeasance, and culpability reflected by the defendant's conduct.

Also, whether a civil action is carried out by DOJ or the original investigative agency (SEC, FTC, etc) varies with circumstances and also depends on enabling legislation governing the scope of an agencies authority delegated from Congress -- some federal agencies have large enforcement and investigative divisions with authority to charge and try civil cases, whereas others may not and thus refer civil case to DOJ for prosecution.

Moreover, even where criminal prosecution is not referred to DOJ by a particular federal agency, the civil monetary penalties can be enormous.
+44 # 2018-04-10 14:39
Its not collusion with the Russians thats gonna take Trump down; its the decades of money laundering for russian oligarchs he's engaged in and the family crime racket he has run for years. Any wonder there were no tax returns? Don't think for 1 minute that Mueller hasn't uncovered all of that and has turned to best place to prosecute that:New York.
-12 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-04-10 17:58
RMF -- I meant the reference to the Stormy Daniels case, which appears to be a pretext for the warrant. So far we are told that the FBI took papers relating to Daniels and some other woman.

It appears that Mueller is joining the Daniels lawsuit against Cohen.
+6 # lfeuille 2018-04-10 19:48
The Story case is a civil case on her part, but Mueller is interested in another aspect of it. The payment was in aid of Trumps election and therefor a campaign expense and if Cohen really paid for it himself it was an undisclosed campaign contribution, probably involving money laundering. They have to find out where the money really came from and if it violated any laws. This a separate issue from Daniels request to have the non-disclosure agreement overturned. There is also the matter of the goon that was sent to threaten her which was definately criminal.
-1 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-04-12 07:35
Ife -- normally improper campaign contributions are civil matters. The FEC makes a ruling and the money is returned. This happens fairly often. And besides, the election campaign contribution was the idea of Stormy's attorney.

I think Mueller is on a major fishing expedition. He may not know what he could find. But he's looking for anything that might be material for impeachment.

I don't think we know anything about what Mueller is up to now. He's been leaking a ton of distractions to the major media.
+36 # RMF 2018-04-10 11:16
PS -- ha-ha..."eviden ce" you say!

Cohen himself provided all the probable cause evidence needed for investigation simply by going around with loose lips and making unwise statements to media.

And now further info indicates Cohen's client portfolio is laden with Russian interests, both direct and indirect. Heck, given the tenor of your comments spreading disinformation here you may even know some of them.
-3 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-04-11 05:49
RMF -- "your comments spreading disinformation here you "

Just to be clear. I"m not spreading disinformation. I cite my sources more often than anyone else on this board. My claims are all based on the best and most up to date discussion that is available. Look at my response to Working Class. My comment that Mueller does not seem to have any evidence is based on the indictments he's filed and his own comment that Trump is not a target of a criminal investigation.

You on the other hand, cite no sources but allude to "further info." sounds like you workk for the NYT or any of the majors. You need to be more careful in your comments. Your loose lips (or fingers) are not helping.

We are all at the mercy of sources. Sometimes they can be wrong and mislead us. We should all be mindful of that.
+5 # RMF 2018-04-11 14:25
OK -- then you should know from your "sources" that you "cite" here, or if you have ever read a Complaint, that the evidence only comes out at trial, or perhaps confidentially during settlement negotiations (the Judiciary encourages settlement and admissions by either party during settlement negotiations are inadmissible.)

What you ignore or fail to understand is that an Enforcement Action by a Federal Agency is PUNITIVE, irrespective of whether the prosecuting agency or department is seeking a civil remedy in the form of CMPs (civil monetary penalties) or also seeks to incarcerate the defendant. THIS IS THE SOLE DISTINCTION BETWEEN FEDERAL CIVIL AND CRIMINAL ENFORCEMENT ACTIONS.

Let me repeat -- the difference between a federal civil and criminal enforcement action IS WHETHER THE DEFENDANT DOES PRISON TIME OR NOT. For ex, Madoff got both lengthy jail time and severe CMPs.

Thus, federal agency or department enforcement actions that seek only CMP remedies remain PUNITIVE, and are a distinct legal species not to be confused with state law civil claims, like divorce or breach of contract.

A federal civil claim defendant may escape incarceration but then be driven into penury or indigence by the CMPs. And for a highly leveraged defendant CMPs can be fatal (e.g., real estate business.) And BTW Trump is an investigative subject -- that's a lot more than a mere witness.

By ignoring the above you are spreading disinformation.
+48 # Working Class 2018-04-10 12:17
Rodion: you say "Mueller does not seem to have any evidence of criminal charges.." Question: Have you seen what Mueller has? Once again, you make statements that you have no way of backing up. Another example is, "The Russian part has collapsed." Says who? FOX News (aka GOP News)? The Life-Long Republican Assistant US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, an individual personally interviewed for the job by Trump, former lawyer partner with Rudy Giulinai, seems to disagree with you about whether there is "cause" to go after Cohen's files/evidence, as does the Federal Judge who had to approve the search warrants for Trump's attorney Micheal Cohen.
-18 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-04-10 18:02
I'm going by the indictments he's already filed and the statement he made to the Wapo last month about Trump not being the target of a criminal investigation. Most writers said that "not a target of a criminal investigation" means that a prosecutor does not have any evidence or enough evidence to pursue an indictment.

The Russian part has collapsed because Mueller seems to have given up on it. Only the major media is keeping it going. The Petersburg 13 indictment clearly said there was no connection to Trump or anyone in the Russian government.
+3 # lfeuille 2018-04-10 19:52
That is not really true. You don't know what is really happening because you get your news from right wing sources. Mueller has tied both Manafort and Cohen to Russian transactions. Whether they are criminal or not has to be investigated, but it can't be investigated with looking at the evidence.
-2 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-04-12 07:43
I don't think Mueller has tied Manafort or Cohen to any Russian transactions. Cohen did work a little bit on a proposed Trump building in Moscow but nothing came of that deal.

It is pretty ironic that Mueller went to work as a lobbyist for Ukraine and Yanukovych right after he left the FBI in 2013. It appears he worked with Manafort on this. I wonder if Mueller registered with FARA?

Manafort's suit against Mueller is in court right now. He's asking the court to throw out the indictment because it exceeds the charge given to Mueller for the investigation of Russian interference in the election. Everything in the indictment took place getween 2003 and 2013. And Mueller was part of the lobbying for Ukraine. Mueller should recuse himself from this investigation. There's not much news on this, unfortunately.
+1 # Working Class 2018-04-10 22:12
Just keeping smoking whatever it is you are using.
+22 # Jim at Dr.Democracy on Facebook 2018-04-10 17:58
RR, I usually find a way to be supportive of your views. Too many here automatically shut you down without really thinking it through, having typecast you somehow.

But on this one you are mistaken. It is not only a civil matter. Bank Fraud is not a civil issue and that is at least part of the trail that the investigation has followed. Cohen claimed (a) to have paid Ms Daniels with his own money and (b) that Trump didn't know anything about it. The rub is that Cohen took out a mortgage on his home to try to make the money "clean." But a consequence of this is that Cohen had to provide a reason for needing this loan...and it is certainly the case that he did not assert the reason as paying off a porn star who he did not believe had sex with Donald Trump. And providing false information on a bank loan, sir, is Bank Fraud, a federal crime.

Moreover, now that the FBI has shiztons of new information/dat a... well... whatever else Mr. Trump is or has been, he is not a good businessman in any sense of the word "good." Neither especially smart in business decisions nor invulnerable to corruption. It will be fascinating to see what additional criminal issues emerge. I am very certain, given the circumstances, that more criminal issues will be found.

None of this is to say that Trump himself is going to be charged. But it could happen.
0 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-04-12 07:52
I think the comments about bank fraud are part of the smokecreen, just as the Stormy part is also the smokescreen. I don't think we know anything about what Mueller is looking for. Maybe Mueller doesn't either. I think this is a grand fishing expedition.

I also think Mueller is playing to the media, putting on a good show because he has nothing substantive. I'm surprised that he has nothing substantive. I would have thought finding criminal evidence against Trump would have been easy.

Still I think all of this is an effort of a faction inside the DOJ, FBI, CIA to throw Trump out of office. This to me is the greater of all the crimes being talked about. Cohen borrowing $130k is just chump change. He probably earns that much in a month.

Just imagine if this would have happened to Hillary in her email case. Why did the FBI not take possession of the computers in Hillary's house, the DNC, or Podesta offices? They never did any evidence collection. They allowed CrowdStrike to have exclusive access to the hardware and CrowdStrike wipe these all clean and destroyed evidence.

If the Hillary, Podesta, DNC offices and homes were raided by the FBI, all the mainstream media would be screaming bloody murder. Now they are cheering on the FBI.

It was the NY police that got Anthony Wiener's laptop. The FBI ignored it -- and the classified documents on it right there beside photos of Anthony's wiener.
+5 # Texas Aggie 2018-04-10 22:05
"... in a civil case"???

Bank fraud is not a crime? Illegal campaign contributions is not a crime?
0 # Depressionborn 2018-04-13 20:25
RR: "What is happening is that Mueller is going after Michael Cohen's clients."

An obama appointed judge just ordered Cohen's clients list made public. Also, Cohen had a list of Trump donors. The Dems want their power back. So do the neocon repubs.
+13 # evolver 2018-04-10 11:05
Hope! Hope! Hope! And PENCE next!
+23 # Diane_Wilkinson_Trefethen_aka_tref 2018-04-10 14:09
Quoting evolver:
Hope! Hope! Hope! And PENCE next!
And by then, with the help of the awakened and angry American People, Pence too will be replaced by a NEW Speaker of the House. All that remains is for people who love America more than party, power or money to step up and run for Congress and the People to elect them. If all that transpires, then for the first time in a very long time, perhaps ever, the United States will be governed by people who love her and her People. They will be governors who unlike Antonin Scalia do not consider preambles to a law to be useless verbiage. Instead, they revere the Preamble to the US Constitution and believe that our founding document was written to support the principles and ideals set forth therein.
+4 # lfeuille 2018-04-10 19:53
This is what we have to hope for. Trump and Co. are doing to much damage to be allowed to continue for 4 years.
+1 # economagic 2018-04-10 21:01
Oh--your wording is a little bit confusing, and I misunderstood it on first reading. You're saying that with some luck and honest righteousness we will be shut of Trump, and by the time Pence would assume the presidency "Iron Stache" Randy Bryce will likely have disposed of Ryan so we will have a new Speaker (presumably NOT the newly elected Bryce), who will then ascend to the vice presidency. Is that correct?
0 # Diane_Wilkinson_Trefethen_aka_tref 2018-04-13 15:39
@econmagic - basically, yes :)
+9 # brycenuc 2018-04-10 14:13
Pence and Ryan are Trumps best defense against impeachment.
+9 # Elroys 2018-04-10 19:23
We're at a unique moment in history. The U.S. is being "deconstructed" by the most corrupt and greedy elements imaginable, and we know it. Trump cares nothing about governing; he's a destroyer, not a builder. We knew he was a sexual predator, totally unfaithful to his 3 wives, even when Melania just gave birth to their son. We knew he was a narcissist with a fragile ego in need of constant strokes and a bully who made fun of the disabled, devastated gold star parents and his behavior is more like a 6 year old brat. We knew all this and millions of us still voted for this madman. Now we know the Russians pushed him over the top in 2016 . The Rs in control of Congress support trump in the face of this criminally insane behavior. They lick his boots and pray to their donor Gods for more money to elect them again. They'll get that $. Most of us knew this before Nov 2016 and it's painfully obvious today. The Rs are still licking trump boots and many will still vote for these fools.
Scott Pruitt is on a roll to destroy the planet, funded by those doing the destruction, and he's "doing a terrific job". Bolton is a trigger happy madman and Kelly has succumbed to the crazies. If this continues we're truly screwed as a nation, a democracy and a people. Can it be that Robert Mueller is our only and last hope? This is insane, and so many of us know it. The Dems are silent, have no true and compelling vision to offer America and the world. Then Pence? OMG.
This is not a test.
+5 # DongiC 2018-04-10 22:39
Perhaps, through his misdeeds, the Trumpster will inspire a glorious transformation of American governments at the local, county, state and federal levels. The words "general welfare" will have meaning for all our citizens and constitutions and charters will lock in basic rights and freedoms. Together with a decent health plan, help for students in college and grad school,
+7 # chapdrum 2018-04-11 12:08
If this does not, once and for all, establish the sheer and utter fraudulence that is the Republican Party, then nothing ever will.
0 # remoran 2018-04-12 19:09
Rodion is soon on regarding Trump, the Bushes, Clinton and Mueller. 2 weeks, Mueller or go away. Great comments here to an excellent piece without question.

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