Toobin: Cohen’s guilty plea has legal perils for Trump

Michael CohenNow that President Donald Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen has pleaded guilty to lying to Congress, what kind of legal trouble does that mean for the president? Writing in The New Yorker, Jeffrey Toobin outlines how Cohen’s plea explains a lot about Trump’s fawning over Russian leader Vladimir Putin. As with so many things, Toobin says it comes down to money, particularly how Trump kept seeking permission to build a Trump Tower in Moscow well into 2016. Read more about Toobin’s analysis at The New Yorker.

CNN also has commentary from Toobin, in which he discusses the possibility that Trump may not even finish his first term.

Legal intrigue at White House from Mueller probe

A couple of President Trump’s lawyers may wish they’d been a little more selective in choosing where they sat for lunch, after a New York Times reporter overheard them discussing the drama, intrigue and mutual suspicion going on in the White House because of the investigation of Russian meddling in the presidential election. Trump lawyers Ty Cobb and John Dowd were heard “casually & loudly discussing details of Russia investigation,” according to a Tweet from NYT reporter Kenneth Vogel. Cobb and Dowd were apparently very vocal about tensions with White House Counsel Don McGahn, according to a report by The Week. The Times reports Cobb got “sharply reprimanded” by White House Chief of Staff John Kelly for his indiscretion. More on the story is available at The New York Times.

Pussy Riot Members Face Threat of Violence in Russian Jail, Lawyer Warns

The Guardian; August 21, 2012

A lawyer for Pussy Riot has warned that three members of the feminist punk band sentenced to jail last week could face violence and discrimination because of the intense state campaign against them.

“For half a year, state-run television has built up a very negative image of them – that they’re blasphemers, heretics,” said Nikolai Polozov, a member of the women’s defence team. “The only source of information in prisons is state-run TV.

“We have a serious basis to think they can be faced with physical harm, moral pressure and even violence.”

Maria Alyokhina, 24, Yekaterina Samutsevich, 30, and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22, were found guilty last week of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred for a February performance in Moscow’s official cathedral criticising Vladimir Putin.

Polozov said he would appeal against their sentence – two years in a minimum security prison colony – within two weeks

Alyokhina has already protested against the band’s treatment. In a letter handed to Polozov from the detention centre in southern Moscow where they have spent the past five months, she described how prison officials and special forces troops had treated them harshly. “I found this strange, usually they’re not so rude with us, so that means they’ve got an order,” she wrote. “I want to believe that all will end well, but everything that’s happening points to it being otherwise.”

Russian opposition activists remain enraged by the sentencing. On Tuesday, hackers attacked the site of the Khamovnichesky court, which hosted the trial against the three women, peppering it with slogans decrying Russia‘s justice system. The hackers also defaced the site’s main page with a video by Azis, a gay Bulgarian singer.

As well as exposing the Kremlin’s crackdown on dissent, the trial has also shone a spotlight on its increasingly conservative policies, encouraged by the Russian Orthodox church, including repressive anti-gay laws.

The trial has prompted criticism from some of Putin’s closest allies. Yet many government supporters continue to promote the theory that Pussy Riot was part of a western plot to weaken Russia.

“It seems that the planned and well-orchestrated provocation called ‘Pussy Riot’ succeeded,” Vladimir Yakunin, the Kremlin-connected head of Russian Railways and a high-profile supporter of the Orthodox church, wrote this week. The group, he said, was organised in response to growing Orthodox unity.

“As a person, I feel sorry for these young women and it’s unfortunate that our law enforcement system did not find those who directed this performance, financed it and are now trying to get political dividends from it.”

Police are searching for other members of Pussy Riot who they believe were involved in the February performance of an anti-Putin “punk prayer” at Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Saviour.

“The necessary search operations are being conducted,” a representative of the Moscow police told the Interfax news agency.

The source did not detail how many people they were looking for.http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/aug/21/pussy-riot-jail-violence-threat?newsfeed=true