Michael Cohen is set to serve a three-year prison sentence for paying Stormy Daniels hush money on President Trump’s behalf during the 2016 campaign — a crime so severe the incoming House Judiciary Chairman has declared that for it alone Trump should be impeached. No word yet, however, on the impeachment proceedings against the hundreds of congressmen who used a combined $17.2 million in taxpayer funds to buy the silence of their accusers.
In all the hyping of this issue, you may have missed some other stories involving some of the same laws that are now being used to get Trump and his allies.
Federal agents have not executed a search warrant on the offices of Marc E. Elias or his law firm, Perkins Coie, which represented the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee. Elias retained Fusion GPS to do opposition research on the Trump campaign. As noted by a complaint filed by the Campaign Legal Center, a non-profit public watchdog group, Perkins Coie labeled payments to the opposition research firm as “Legal Services” or “Legal and Compliance Consulting,” when in reality some of those payments were for conducting opposition research. Perkins Coie is alleged to have kept these payments secret from the Federal Elections Commission.
At least one attorney from Perkins Coie met with the FBI general counsel during the 2016 election season, raising questions of whether the Justice Department and Perkins Coie coordinated the use of the so-called Steele dossier, which was later used as justification to spy on Carter Page, at one time a Trump campaign figure. It was also not disclosed to the court that Perkins Coie paid for the dossier on behalf of the Clinton campaign.
In a related story, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court did not issue a contempt citation to the Justice Department for applying for a FISA warrant without disclosing that the application relied upon material provided by a subcontractor to the Clinton campaign.
A grand jury has not indicted Bruce Ohr for violating a law that makes it a crime for a public official to participate in a matter in which his spouse has a financial interest. We learned in December 2017 that Ohr met with Fusion GPS in November 2016 — a critical timeframe — while he was the associate deputy attorney general. Former FBI agent Peter Strzok has confirmed Ohr fed the FBI documents pertinent to the investigation into Trump’s Russia ties, and The Hill reported the FBI used Ohr to continue collecting information from Steele, even after it terminated him as a source for leaking word of the investigation to the media.
It appears that some of the information Ohr gave the FBI may have been the result of his wife’s paid research for Fusion GPS. Yet Ohr’s employment with the Justice Department was not terminated pending the outcome of the indictment (which hasn’t been issued).
A spokesman for the U.S. attorney did not hold a press conference in which he declared: “The DOJ cannot tolerate a senior official using his position to prompt investigation into a political candidate at the same time his wife is accepting money from an outside contractor on the same matter. We must take strong action to enforce the law so that the public can have confidence that investigative decisions are made without improper influence from outside sources.”
The FBI has not made arrests of the perpetrators of the hundreds of incidents of unmasking by Obama-era officials who illegally used surveillance results that picked up Americans in operations that were not authorized to surveil Americans. These officials are not being held to account for failing to observe the legal safeguards that protect Americans from warrantless spying by their government.
I can also announce that Andrew McCabe, the former deputy director of the FBI, has not been arrested or charged with repeated instances of lying to the FBI. You may recall that in February 2018, the Justice Department inspector general issued a report that appears to clearly show McCabe making repeated criminal misstatements. A spokesman for the FBI cannot be quoted as saying, “McCabe was instrumental in obtaining the conviction against Michael Flynn for lying to the FBI, which is why it is so important to hold him accountable for repeated violations of the same law.”
A joint task force of the FBI and the IRS has not raided the offices of the Clinton Foundation to execute a search warrant in search of evidence of an enormous bribery conspiracy that exchanged donations and speaking fees for meetings and official actions by Hillary Clinton while she was secretary of state. You may recall that one news story found that more than half the private visitors Clinton received at the State Department were donors to her family foundation.
In one memo contained within emails revealed in 2016, a Clinton aide explained how he used her position as the secretary of state to generate cash for Bill Clinton. The memo appears to be a smoking gun detailing systematic marketing of access to Hillary in exchange for donations to the Clinton Foundation and speaking fees for Bill. If true, these “contributions” probably would not qualify for tax-exempt treatment. They also probably violate the law prohibiting Hillary from participating in a matter that made money for her husband, and numerous laws and regulations designed to protect public integrity.
Also, the FBI has not raided the offices of attorney Lisa Bloom, who was caught arranging or attempting to arrange payments for women who would accuse Trump of sexual harassment. These payments were clearly intended to affect the presidential election, but were not reported as “in kind donations.”
One senior Justice Department official was not heard saying, “Hey, if Michael Cohen can get prosecuted for paying Stormy to not talk, Lisa Bloom can get prosecuted for paying other women to talk. Fair is fair. We don’t want it to seem like we’re taking sides in elections by only applying these laws to Trump allies.”
As newsworthy as it is that Trump’s private attorney has pleaded guilty to making the Stormy payment, I respectfully submit the arrests that have not happened and the indictments that have not been issued are much bigger stories. In a parallel universe in which the law is applied without regard to politics, the headlines would read differently.