Trump-Cohen Recorded Conversation Released

Cohen

The Trump Tape is here. Long-time Trump Attorney, and alleged “fixer” Michael Cohen has been in the news for having “tapes” of his conversations with President Trump, and now one such recording has been aired, first reported by CNN:

The Washington Post has a transcript of the Trump Tape

TRUMP: [In background] Good. Let me know what’s happening, okay? Oh, oh. Maybe because of this it would be better if you didn’t go, you know? Maybe because of this. For that one, you know, I think what you should do is get rid of this. Because it’s so false what they’re saying, it’s such bulls—. Um. [PAUSE] I think, I think this goes away quickly. I think what — I think it’s probably better to do the Charleston thing, just this time. Uh, yeah. In two weeks, it’s fine. I think right now it’s, it’s better. You know? Okay, hun. You take care of yourself. Thanks, babe. Yup, I’m proud of you. So long. Bye.
[Into phone] What’s happening?
COHEN: Great poll, by the way.
TRUMP: Yeah?
COHEN: Seen it. Great poll.
TRUMP: Making progress.
COHEN: Big time.
TRUMP: And, your guy is a good guy. He’s a good —
COHEN: Who, Pastor Scott?
TRUMP: Can’t believe this. No, Pastor Scott. What’s, what’s happening —
COHEN: No —
TRUMP: Can we use him anymore?
COHEN: Oh, yeah, a hundred — no, you’re talking about Mark Burns. He’s, we’ve told him to [UNINTELLIGIBLE].
TRUMP: I don’t need that — Mark Burns, are we using him?
COHEN: No, no.
FEMALE: Richard [UNINTELLIGIBLE]. I’m sorry, Richard [UNINTELLIGIBLE] just called. He — just when you have a chance, he had an idea for you.
TRUMP: Okay, great.
COHEN: Um, so, we got served from the New York Times. I told you this — we were …
TRUMP: To what?
COHEN: … To unseal the divorce papers with Ivana. Um, we’re fighting it. Um, [Trump attorney Marc] Kasowitz is going to —
TRUMP: They should never be able to get that.
COHEN: Never. Never. Kasowitz doesn’t think they’ll ever be able to. They don’t have a —
TRUMP: Get me a Coke, please!
COHEN: They don’t have a legitimate purpose, so —
TRUMP: And you have a woman that doesn’t want this.
COHEN: Correct.
TRUMP: Who you’ve been handling.
COHEN: Yes. And —
TRUMP: And it’s been going on for a while.
COHEN: About two, three weeks now.
TRUMP: All you’ve got to do is delay for —
COHEN: Even after that, it’s not ever going to be opened. There’s no, there’s no purpose for it. Um, told you about Charleston. Um, I need to open up a company for the transfer of all of that info regarding our friend, David, you know, so that — I’m going to do that right away. I’ve actually come up and I’ve spoken —
TRUMP: Give it to me and get me a [UNINTELLIGIBLE].
COHEN: And, I’ve spoken to Allen Weisselberg about how to set the whole thing up with …
TRUMP: So, what do we got to pay for this? One-fifty?
COHEN: … Funding .?.?. Yes. Um, and it’s all the stuff.
TRUMP: Yeah, I was thinking about that.
COHEN: All the stuff. Because — here, you never know where that company — you never know what he’s —
TRUMP: Maybe he gets hit by a truck.
COHEN: Correct. So, I’m all over that. And, I spoke to Allen about it, when it comes time for the financing, which will be —
TRUMP: Wait a sec, what financing?
COHEN: Well, I’ll have to pay him something.
TRUMP: [UNINTELLIGIBLE] pay with cash.
COHEN: No, no, no, no, no. I got it.
TRUMP: Check.
[Tape cuts off abruptly. Separate recording begins.]
MALE: Hey Don, how are you?
-End Transcript-

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109 thoughts on “Trump-Cohen Recorded Conversation Released

  1. We kind of know that Trump would cheat on his wife. That’s just the kind of person he is. That was never in question. The question is how much legal trouble does this tape get him into?

    What are the conditions under which Trump asking Cohen to pay someone $150 000 in order to cover it up is not legally problematic?

    Also, what’s this business about someone maybe getting hit by a truck? That sounds like Trump considering arranging an “accident” for someone.

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    • Regarding the Truck comment, It seems from the context that Trump wants to make sure they buy all the assets rather than rely on David’s (David Pecker of AMI, presumably) discretion not to publish… or, worse, if he got hit by a truck then people like Jerry George (cited in linked article) would publish.

      See, he’s touchingly concerned for David’s health, not suggesting a hit.

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      • “He’s got a nice newspaper there. I’d hate to see anything happen to him.”

        “‘It’.”

        “Huh?”

        “You meant to say “I’d hate to see anything happen to *it*.”

        “That’s not nice. I mean, he’s a human being.”

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        • Heh… I’m not even sure we have to suggest some sort of gangsterism to Trump… this is pretty much what “Everyone Knew” looks like.

          Everyone knew that Trump sleeps with Porn Stars (and I’ve heard said likes to watch a lot of porn)… that people do what they can to curry favor, monetary rewards and keep what “Everyone Knows” a secret is, apparently, endemic. I’m not really in the know, so I don’t really know what other secrets everyone else knows.. be it about Trump or anyone else.

          The ubiquitous institutional rot some days its enough to make one consider anarchism, or maybe even libertarianism.

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          • Post Script… I’m mildly amused by the notion raised that maybe there’s also a pre-nup issue he’s dealing with?

            Like every bimbo eruption puts another $1M in Melania’s private Swiss account? (Or do all the cool people use Caribbean accounts now?)

            That would be very modern of them.

            So if that ever goes public, the market value of the cover-up would rise to some number not to exceed $1M… exposing the theoretical pre-nup might be worse for business than the cover-up.

            Possibly Melania’s recent absence was just her working with her accountants on the various windfalls her pre-Nup is delivering.

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  2. What are the conditions under which Trump asking Cohen to pay someone $150 000 in order to cover it up is not legally problematic?

    A republican majority in the house and/or over a third republicans in the senate.

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    • That’s politically problematic. i..e. Does the video prove that he violated campaign finance laws?

      Bonus question for the con-law scholars: Are these laws vulnerable to a first amendment challenge using Citizens United as a precedent?

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      • Everything about his life of the past two years makes it clear he’s been violating the emoluments clause nonstop, probably wouldn’t have a concept of how not to, but it’s A-Ok because of the makeup of the house and senate…

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          • It’s “take without the consent of Congress”. Telling isn’t the same as obtaining consent. At best it’s armwrestling forgiveness.

            Besides, he hasn’t even supplied his tax returns, do you think he’s submitting every sales slip from every one of his business ventures? Because otherwise he’s not even doing what you suggest (which, again, isn’t sufficient to comply with the emoluments clause).

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            • do you think he’s submitting every sales slip from every one of his business ventures?

              Do you think he even *has* every sales slip from every business?

              Raising the bar so high that NO ONE in his position could pass only proves the Dems are partisan, not that Trump is Evil.

              If it’s needed then if the GOP loses the election, on the way out the door they can give him a piece of paper saying “for the purposes of emoluments we’ve been informed of his empire… just like the rest of the world”.

              My expectation is that it’s not needed because it’s something that if true, could get him arrested/impeached a whole lot easier than his sex life. I.e. the higher level players are ignoring this issue, it’s just people at our level who even bother.

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              • That’s why other presidents put their wealth in blind trusts.

                That no one in his position could pass the bar is a good sign no one in his position should be President. I mean he could, but he’d have to be really serious about making some sacrifices for the job, not a thing it is in any way like him to do.

                I don’t think it’s all that partisan to observe that Trump is fundamentally unsuited to the presidency. Plenty of republicans have made this same observation. Are they partisan democrats in disguise?

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                • That’s why other presidents or put their with in [blind] trusts.

                  This was impossible for Trump. Not difficult, not “had to be serious about sacrifices”, but literally impossible.

                  The real question is, given the obvious difficulties and moral compromises we (the American people) would have to put up with if we make him President, should we make him President anyway?

                  This issue was explored during the election, it shouldn’t be a surprise that Trump has an international business empire and he can’t be fully separated from it.

                  That no one in his position could pass the bar is a good sign no one in his position should be President.

                  I’d take this statement a lot more seriously if I saw the Dems attempting to do something about HRC’s “charity” and her “fixing” the nomination process.

                  (Amazingly) Trump ran as the cleaner, less compromised candidate. For all the oh-so-pious talk about emoluments, the Dems would put up with worse from their guy (or gal) if it’d been their guy.

                  If Trump beats your guy in an ethics contest, or even if your guy doesn’t TRIVIALLY and obviously beat him in an ethics contest, then perhaps “Trump as the solution” thinking shouldn’t be all that big of a surprise.

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                  • We get it. When Trump business empire does deals with the foreign govs he is dealing with and getting sweet deals or his family gets classified info or uses their access to get more business deals that isn’t an issue. Just say you don’t’ care if he profits massively from being prez. That is the bottom line.

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                      • Forget it Jake, its Whataboutismtown.

                        “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?
                        -Matthew 7:3

                        If you wanted to make ethics, marital or financial, a defining issue in the election then you picked the wrong candidate.

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                          • Someone should have counted corpses.

                            The USSR’s ideology claimed they were creating a utopia, and segments of the left wanted to believe them.

                            Also if the US has Jim Crow, then that should set some upper limit on how evil the gov can be so the USSR had to be better.

                            And to be fair, the world hadn’t seen all that many Socialist Utopia’s burn their countries down yet.

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                        • Hillary didn’t cheat on Bill. She stood by him while he cheated again and again. That seems positively saintly to me. Sure, Bill is a scummy cheating bastard, but Bill is not the candidate. For all you have said, Hillary’s financial dealings may be somewhat in the same ballpark as Trump’s, but her marital ethics seem beyond reproach. Unless you blame her for staying with Bill instead of leaving him.

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                          • HRC is fine on marital ethics but we’re not sure whether or not Trump is actually cheating (yes, really).

                            Everything Trump does is transactional, that includes marriage. If you assume Melania Trump is as strong willed and smart as reported(?), then she had to have married him for his money (years ago I heard someone claim she’d admitted something close to that). It’s not a big step from that to knowing what she was signing up for and agreeing to it.

                            I doubt they have a traditional marriage, and it’s possible this is more of a “open marriage” situation than a “cheated” situation.

                            It’s even possible every night he spends in someone else’s bed is a night he’s not in hers and ergo she actively approves.

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                    • Just say you don’t’ care if he profits massively from being prez. That is the bottom line.

                      Oh I care, I just care about other issues more(*1).

                      Trump breaks the system on this point because we need to give him a grandfather exception for his empire and his empire is so well situated to benefit. Having said that, I’m not all that concerned about Billionaire Real Estate types having an exemption because that’s an amazingly high bar, we probably won’t see that again in the lifespan of the USA.

                      I’m less sympathetic to a politician with a personal charity designed to monetize their office because that’s a much lower bar. Any politician can fill in the paperwork and bingo.

                      (*1 Speaking of which, +4.1% growth this quarter)

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              • Raising the bar so high that NO ONE in his position could pass only proves the Dems are partisan, not that Trump is Evil.

                There were 15 candidates other running in the GOP primary.

                At least 13 of them could have cleared that incredibly low bar without any problem whatsoever, if not all 15.

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                • At least 13 of them could have cleared that incredibly low bar without any problem whatsoever, if not all 15.

                  True. Similarly I’m reasonably sure you could find a Dem who hasn’t sold pardons and doesn’t have her own personal “charity” accepting money from dubious characters.

                  Ethics wasn’t a priority, for anyone, in this last election. Keep in mind Trump was the cleaner candidate.

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                  • “Keep in mind Trump was the cleaner candidate.”

                    This is what I mean when I say each side of the country is living in two different worlds. In actual reality, the Clinton Foundation actually is well regarded and does a lot of good, while the Trump Foundation is a slush fund.

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                    • “Keep in mind Trump was the cleaner candidate.”

                      This is what I mean when I say each side of the country is living in two different worlds. In actual reality, the Clinton Foundation actually is well regarded and does a lot of good, while the Trump Foundation is a slush fund.

                      The Trump Foundation has assets of millions in an empire with assets of Billions, and it’s run (incompetently) as afterthought. The Clinton Foundation has assets of Billions, and is run by people with assets of millions or a few tens of millions.

                      Saying that it does good things is fine, but even if we assume everything is legally correct, it’s still the Clintons handing out gov favors/access with one Clinton and collecting money from them with another Clinton. That’s over and above some of those groups being the Russians, the Saudis, and Blackwater.

                      I’m sure the letter of the law was followed but be serious, this steps way past “appearance of impropriety” and deep into “appearance of pay to play”.

                      That’s over and above all HRC’s other ethical issues which include having her minions run the DNC, her relationship with Harvey Weinstein, having her husband meet with the AG hours before the AG would decide if she has a career, etc.

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                      • See, I go the other way on this. *The fact that* the Clintons have been subject to two lengthy (politically motivated, Republican-led) congressional investigations and a decade and a half of private, Mercer-funded investigations specifically intended to dig up dirt on Hillary and produced nothing (zero, nada, zilch, other than Bill’s lies about Monica Lewinsky) suggests to me that Hillary Derangement syndrome drives this nonsense and exists to this day, long after she has any meaningful role in government or politics. I mean, just the other day the Attorney General of the United States chanted “lock her up” with conservative high school students. That’s f***ing deranged, but it’s where the conservative movement is at right now. And I say that as someone who isn’t a big fan of Hillary.

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                        • Meanwhile, after two decades of intense investigation by people with subpoena power has produced very little on Clinton, the most cursory scratching of Trump’s comings and goings (while being protected by a congressional majority trying to shut things down) has actual criminal activity leaking out every seam.

                          This makes me think of all the arguments over the safety of the RoundUp herbicide. It has had a target on its back from activists looking to connect it to all sorts of health problems for decades, and what has come up is extraordinarily paltry despite every increasing applications and scrutiny. It’s probably not great to drink it every day with your morning coffee, but if you believe it’s causing all of our cancer plus lower SAT scores, you’re probably just drinking Internet Kool Aid.

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                          • When future conservatives write the history of these times they’ll just present as obvious fact that she was the most corrupt politician in US history and cite NOT being locked up as decisive evidence that the neoMarxist liberal Deep State had taken complete control of …. well, everything.

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                            • she was the most corrupt politician in US history

                              My expectation is that, by the time the historians get to it, Trump will easily surpass her in that. I assume the GOP will need to lose Congress in order for anyone to put a good spotlight on him, but sooner or later that will happen.

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                        • …*The fact that* the Clinton’s have been subject to two lengthy congressional investigations and a decade and a half of private (Mercer) funding specifically intended to dig up dirt on Hillary and produced nothing…

                          If “nothing” is defined as “levels of proof which would result in a successful conviction in a court of law“, then you’re correct.

                          Of course this leaves us with situations like the whole selling pardons thing, where there was no explanation for what happened other than the large amount of money she was given.

                          So Bill decided to pardon a guy who shouldn’t have been pardoned, for no reason at all… and we’re all going to pretend like good kindergarteners that Jimmy Carter was wrong and there’s no connection between HRC’s money and Bill’s actions.

                          This isn’t a binary situation where our only alternatives are “arrestable” and “innocent”. The legal system (correctly) has a high evidence bar for putting someone in prison, she doesn’t quite go over that… which doesn’t make what she does “right” or even “legal”.

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                      • But seriously.

                        On one hand, we have an actual charity that was well respected and accounted for with no evidence of actual wrongdoing and no way for Clinton to access the funds, but it “looks bad” and has a lot of assets.

                        On the other hand, we have a smaller charity that is obviously a slush fund for Trump himself buying crap for his businesses with donated money and whose treasurer apparently wasn’t aware he was the treasurer until investigators told him.

                        Then add to that a business empire with easily as many sketchy foreign entanglements as the Clinton Foundation but as a for-profit entity with the money actually going to Trump. Like, when foreign governments give it money, that’s Trump’s personal money.

                        And that’s ignoring stuff like founding a fake university to max out the credit cards of easily rooked Trump fans in exchange for basically nothing.

                        I’m perfectly happy to believe that the Clinton Foundation created the *appearance* of impropriety, but to say that it made her the dirtier of the two by any evenly applied metric requires math that I simply don’t understand.

                        Then again, she might have used Harvey Weinstein’s hit men to take out Seth Rich, so you never know what’s lurking beneath. There’s that photo of them standing together, after all.

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                        • I’m perfectly happy to believe that the Clinton Foundation created the *appearance* of impropriety,

                          Even that requires the following “logic”: That is to say, powerful, important people donated to the charity, which had the Clinton name on it. Because these powerful people donated to the charity, it made the Clintons look more powerful and important, which made them more politically viable.

                          Bribed via prestige proxy was literally the most logical assault against the CF.

                          As if the Clintons weren’t powerful, important people by dint of being a former President, Senator, Governor, etc…

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                        • …we have an actual charity that was well respected and accounted for with no evidence of actual wrongdoing and no way for Clinton to access the funds…

                          Depends on what we define as “access the funds”. She can’t buy a house with it, but she can give minions jobs between political gigs, spend the money to support leftist causes, or even the people running those causes.

                          TCF lets the Clinton’s do the typical politically active Billionaire’s “use money to influence things” stuff. It’s NOT a money laundering scheme… but that doesn’t prevent it from being “pay to play”. Why did Blackwater and the Saudis feel TCF was a good investment? Have they given TCF any money since the Clinton’s lost power?

                          I’m perfectly happy to believe that the Clinton Foundation created the *appearance* of impropriety, but to say that it made her the dirtier of the two by any evenly applied metric requires math that I simply don’t understand.

                          How many times had Trump abused gov resources? Accepted bribes for gov access?

                          For Trump to be corrupting the gov would have required him to be paying bribes, not accepting them. His empire, as shady as it is (and was), wasn’t then an arm of the gov and didn’t have gov backing.

                          Granted, this is a comparison which massively favors Trump, and any normal politician would be able to point to a shady empire and claim they’re cleaner, but “insiders enriching themselves” was one of the reasons to back Trump this time as was “throwing the rascals out”.

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              • I mean, whatever else you want to say about Mitt Romney, nobody was worried about him using his possible Presidency as a way to enrich Bain Capital beyond the way it’d be enriched by his right-wing economic views.

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  3. Trump has engaged in more outrageous sex scandals than any other President in American history. Yet, the amount of media attention being paid L’Affairs de Trump is much less than the intention paid to the Lewinsky circus during Bill Clinton’s term in office. Granted that Trump is being protected by a Republican Congress rather than hounded by hounded by an oppositional Congress low on scruples but you would think that this would be all over the place.

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    • 1) Has he exceeded JFK?

      2) Did Democrat’s defence of Bill on this score change norms with regards to presidential marital fidelity?

      3) Can the Democrats the sex-positive party credibly criticise Trump for having an affair?

      4) This is Trump we’re talking about. If he got elected even after the Access Hollywood tape, does marital infidelity matter?

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      • The Lewinsky thing happened while Clinton was in office — that’s kind of an important distinction as far as expected amount of public attention.

        My recollection is that Clinton himself was the pioneer for continuing on in the face of a questionable past — 8 years previously, Gary Hart pulled out of the race due to the affair allegations, but Clinton stayed in regardless of the “bimbo eruptions”.

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      • Yeah Clinton shifted things. Things also happened after Clinton. Did the actions of D’s after Clinton shift things back. Were there any pols of any party who did or said things after Clinton. Did the hypocrisy of the R’s during the Clinton affairs shift norms or corrupt a party. ( Famously Newt was having his own affair during the years of the Clinton affairs)

        Sex is good. Cheating is bad. That is sex positive.

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      • Can the Democrats the sex-positive party credibly criticise Trump for having an affair?

        Yes, absolutely.
        Sex-positive doesn’t mean cheating. Even swingers have strict rules about that.

        Aside from Traditional Morality, there isn’t any moral value system in which secret adultery is acceptable.

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      • My guesses…

        1. In office? Probably not? Out of office… I might bet on Trump… counting stats and all that.

        2. Hmmn… I think it makes Democratic outrage a little trickier, but it should have been a disqualifier on the R team before he even made it to the office. I suspect that an affair while in office might move the needle (a little? a lot?) in ways in which his pre-existing lechery hasn’t/didn’t.

        3. Sure… but they should use the language of the right to do it (if they were smart). The goal is to get the right to question his judgement and their (misplaced) trust… shouting hypocrite won’t do it… especially hypocrites shouting hypocrite.

        4. Perhaps no more? Though I think its situational in that Candidate A might bet able to use it against Candidate B in ways that perhaps Candidate C might not.

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    • Trump has engaged in more outrageous sex scandals than any other President in American history.”

      Agreed… truly astounding. (Though, I leave room to be astounded anew).

      Yet, the amount of media attention being paid L’Affairs de Trump is much less than the intention paid to the Lewinsky circus during Bill Clinton’s term in office.

      Hmmn… No. The Media Circus is alive and well. We know more about L’Affairs de Trump going back to Marla Maples (why in the world should I know there was ever a person named Marla Maples?) and continuing to present day… upto and including the emerging details of Stormy Daniel’s divorce.

      I think you can ask why no one much cares… but saturated is still saturated.

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      • Mostly it’s just tiresome seeing people who scolded us as “moral relativists” for the better part of a generation for thinking gay people should be allowed to get married deciding they were just kidding about all the sexual morality stuff all along.

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        • This also might suffer from lumping everybody in together and assuming that this lump is static. (Which one is that? Composition?)

          If I complained about the left was anti-X because of (reasons) and now, 30 years later, the left is anti-Y for (completely different and even incompatible reasons), the possibility exists that there are different lefties arguing these things.

          Ross Douthat had a good line a few years back saying something to the effect of “if you don’t like the Religious Right, wait until you get a load of the post-Religious Right”.

          The post-Religious Right aren’t these same people who questioned whether it was appropriate to nominate a divorced guy like Reagan instead of an upright Christian man like Bush back in 1980.

          The fact that these guys disagree with those guys is not evidence of hypocrisy even though both sets of people call themselves “the right”.

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          • Trump has, by all accounts, very deep support among the socially conservative Right, and a lot people who wrung their hands about gay marriage for thirty years are the ones that think that everything is fine with Trump as long as the right judges are there to save Christians from being sent to camps and/or having to bake cakes for gay people. Shit, Newt Gingrich has been a solid Trump booster, and he was blaming child murders on liberal moral relativists in the ’90s.

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            • Douthat has also written a book about how we’re all moral relativists now…

              So on the one hand congratulations? But I’m not really sure that you are cheering on moral relativism (or are you)?

              Because as JB notes above, becoming more relativist in morals doesn’t mean that they become “equivocally moral” in the direction you or others might want them to become.

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              • No, I’m saying it was never moral relativism to reject their specific moral beliefs around sexuality, and that we were never guilty of what they accused us of.

                On the other hand, they are incredibly guilty of it themselves.

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            • Oh, *THOSE* guys.

              Yeah, they refer to Trump as a “Cyrus”. It involves a prophecy in Isaiah.

              What’s the appropriate response for them? I assume that it’s not “they should have supported Clinton”. For what it’s worth, the ones in my circle supported Cruz and not Trump. (Remember this happening during the primaries? Good times.)

              What’s the appropriate response for them right now, do you think? “Because you’re an adulterer, I’m going to not support you and I’m certainly not going to enjoy any victories that you may have gotten so far”?

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              • What’s the appropriate response for them? I assume that it’s not “they should have supported Clinton”.

                They could have stayed home.

                What’s the appropriate response for them right now, do you think? “Because you’re an adulterer, I’m going to not support you and I’m certainly not going to enjoy any victories that you may have gotten so far”?

                I mean they spent years telling us that even getting rid of criminal laws against sodomy would lead to people fucking dogs in the street. Why should they get to “enjoy” those victories after setting such a bar for the rest of us?

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                • Are they allowed to oppose Clinton more than they oppose Trump?

                  If so, are they allowed to oppose Clinton to the point where they’re willing to pinch their nose and vote for him?

                  (I’m guessing that last one is a solid “No, they’re not!” but I want to make sure. I don’t know whether the former one is acceptable or not.)

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                        • Way back when, when I was at Redstate (this is somewhere around 2004-2008), I argued that Fiscal Conservatives had no reason to trust the Republican Party.

                          More than that, that the Republicans whose most important issue, for them, was something on the fiscal conservativism spectrum might someday say “I’m not going to get what I want from either party… I might as well vote for my second most important issue”.

                          At the time, gay marriage was a hot button issue and one of the things I argued was that the approach to gay marriage was likely to turn off libertarians who had been on the side of the Republicans for reasons that could at least pretend to be related to Limited Government… but with arguments that government shouldn’t have limits, they could well find themselves voting for their second-most important issue. Or their third-most.

                          I was told that such people weren’t *REALLY* fiscally conservative if they’d be willing to see Republicans and Democrats as indistinguishable on fiscal conservativism. They made noises about how all libertarians cared about were the issues of marijuana and sodomy and weren’t trustworthy allies.

                          Anyway, 2006 was a surprise to these guys. They suspected that Republicans would lose the House but everybody knew they wouldn’t lose the Senate. Then they lost the Senate. 2008 was a damn bloodbath.

                          All that to say: I suspect that a bunch of people started saying “I’m going to vote for my second-most important issue” (or my third or fourth).

                          Given that this happened somewhere around the same time that the Democrats decided to run the least charismatic candidate they could find (I considered comparisons to both Dukakis and Mondale and remembered nothing about Dukakis and felt really bad for Mondale who was a genuinely nice guy), we had one heck of a black swan.

                          I have no idea how to read the tea leaves in front of me but I am (still) not seeing a blue wave. I don’t think that we’ve got a reason to go back to first choices yet.

                          If that’s accurate, I’m not sure who the frontrunner for 2020 is. Given that we still don’t know that… I think you’re in for a hell of a lot more frustration.

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                      • I don’t think they’re winning despite it.

                        I think they’re winning because of it.

                        Yet we still have media institutions (both “mainstream” and the parallel Rightwards orgs) that broadly insist on treating the alleged moral principles of social conservatives as not only sincere, but more sincere than anybody else’s.

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              • What’s the appropriate response for them right now, do you think?

                “I was wrong to criticize Democrats for defending Bill Clinton back in the day. Really, I apologize for that. Since the election of Trump I’ve realized that the moral depravity of a President isn’t a big deal if he’s from your own party.”

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                • Since the election of Trump I’ve realized that the moral depravity of a President isn’t a big deal if he’s from your own party.

                  Interesting. I might rephrase this to something like:

                  “Since the election of Trump I’ve realized that the moral depravity of a President isn’t a big deal if s/he’s very, very good at getting other victories that you care about more than the President’s personal moral depravity.”

                  Would that be okay?

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                  • The “hypocrisy” word gets thrown around a lot, but I think the difference in people’s reactions is perfectly reasonable. If someone hands you $20 and then kicks you in the groin, you’ll have a different reaction to that kick than if they steal $20 from you and then kick you in the groin. Not that you’re happy about the kick in either case, but in the first case, at least you got 20 bucks out of it.

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                  • Not after spending a generation insisting that “moral depravity” of a sexual sort was a good excuse for state-enforced discrimination and bigotry. If your movement is devoted, as a fundamental premise, to the notion that there’s no such thing as personal, private, sexual matters, well, maybe that has some consequences.

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                    • Not after spending a generation insisting that “moral depravity” of a sexual sort was a good excuse for state-enforced discrimination and bigotry. If your movement is …

                      The conceit here is that the same people who were leading the charge for the Moral Majority thirty years ago are the same people riding the Trump train. Are they? That’s an empirical question, not a argument for or against.

                      If the answer is, “yes, the overlap is almost 1:1,” then it is a good point. If the answer is, “no, but they’re all part of the same movement,” the point becomes less convincing.

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                      • The only who support Trump at a higher percentage than evanglical Christian’s are actual registered Republican’s. If every person who thought Clinton was a moral reprobate in 1996 refused to vote for Trump and simply sat the election out, he would’ve lost in a landslide.

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    • The attention paid to any single morally depraved act by Trump is less than the attention paid to any single morally depraved act by Clinton, because Clinton was able to go several weeks in a row without a new one coming to light.

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        • Which is why I grade his acts on the curve.

          What you just described is not “Grading on a curve”. What you described is “special treatment”.

          Grading on a curve is what happens when a group (or at least most members of a group) fail to perform to expectations, so you raise their scores across the board to move the median to where it should be. (Or, to some sticklers, you enforce a normal distribution on a collection of grades).

          There is no definition of “grading on a curve”, in either the classroom or as a metaphor, in which you raise one student’s grades (or decide his error’s count less — same same) because of the sheer quantity of errors that one student produces versus the group.

          And I will further note you specifically said “Grade HIS” acts on a curve, which means the bar of “Arrest or impeachment worthy” is not the bar you use for other politicians, so you’re effectively saying Trump has so many scandals you’ve had to redefine scandal for Trump alone in order to reduce his number of scandals down enough that you can pretend he’s in the same league as everyone else.

          Which is a pretty damning indictment of Trump, at the very least.

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                    • That’s my point. We move frictionlessly from, “The media is making this up/exaggerating this” to “We all knew Trump was awful” when more evidence comes out and makes the initial denial untenable.

                      Then the new thing comes out and we’re back to, “The media is making this up/exaggerating this.” Because no lessons are ever learned.

                      “We all agree Trump is vile” is just a fallback position to avoid looking unreasonable or to avoid acknowledging having made a bad decision to support him earlier. It’s like saying, “I wasn’t duped by a con man. I knew how this would turn out and I like it this way,” as he’s shoveling your money into a suitcase and driving away.

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                  • … for a long time a lot of people seemed to think the media was making all this stuff up.

                    I suspect the people who think that do so because they don’t want to face the ethical compromises they’ve made and what their priorities are.

                    I never vote for bad people, I voted for Trump, ergo Trump must not be bad, ergo the media must be lying.

                    Trump is such a clear slime and so open about it (and has been in the news about it for decades) that if someone is claiming to believe that they’re actually lying to themselves and they’re not going to be rational about this.

                    If hearing about the first 50 Trump scandals didn’t do the job then the 51st won’t either.

                    Ditto the Clintons. We still have people claiming everything against them was simply made up, even in the face of events everyone admits happened.

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                  • Which is a pretty damning indictment of those support Trump, at the very least.

                    I disagree, strongly.

                    It just means everyone’s first priority isn’t voting for a non-vile President. IMHO it shouldn’t be.

                    For example everyone who voted for HRC presumably wasn’t supporting her various activities.

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                    • HRC isn’t vile. The right-wing press has been trying to damn her since 1992, and the sheer number of accusations has convinced a lot of people there must be something there, but noting’s stuck. If ti had, they wouldn’t need the Uranium One nonsense.

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                      • IMO, HRC was caught in a toxic cycle with the press, where they would treat the faintest whiff of smoke as a three alarm fire [1] which naturally made her both defensive and unconcerned with the appearance of impropriety, which created more whiffs of smoke, creating more histrionics from the press, creating more defensiveness and damned-if-you-do resignation.

                        [1] Even if the smoke came from Roger Stone or Jerome Corsi or some other equivalent fuckstick smoking a cigarette offstage.

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                      • …the sheer number of accusations has convinced a lot of people there must be something there, but noting’s stuck…

                        Saying “nothing has stuck” means what, that “she hasn’t been arrested or disbarred”? That’s a standard Trump can probably pass so it’s way too low. Trump letting his first wife know he was divorcing her by telling the media seems pretty vile even if it’s not illegal, a bunch of the rest of what he does is similar.

                        Normal politicians manage to have careers without personal charities which take money from people they’re dealing with in their professional role.

                        My overall impression is the Clinton’s willing to dance right up to the edge of what is arrestable. So when they were selling pardons that wasn’t arrestably illegal, but Jimmy Carter was correct in that there obviously was a connection between the money they were given and their activities as gov officials.

                        Similarly there was obviously a connection between HRC’s success at Cattle Futures and the corrupt office she did that in which eventually pled guilty to awarding winning trades to politically connected people. Similarly her minions running the DNC made the nomination process less than fair. Similarly we’ve had several people say she knew about Harvey Weinstein’s “hobbies” but she was fine with them. Similarly her husband meeting with the AG on the tarmac hours before the AG’s decision is pretty smelly.

                        I can name all of these things off hand because they have “stuck”, even if they aren’t technically illegal.

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  4. I suspect the only real outcome of these tapes will be to further cement in my mind that our political system is utterly unwilling and unable to deal with bad behavior when maintaining power is on the line.

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  5. I understand it’s salacious that through Cohen, Trump paid off a mistress for her silence. And in another era, with a different President, we’d call it a damning blot on his character.

    At this point, like , I’m looking for something actually illegal. Like, where did the money that funded the transaction come from? This (confusing) transcript doesn’t tell me that. I’ve negotiated dozens of deal that include confidentiality clauses, most of which were backed up by liquidated damages clauses. Some of them didn’t even involve matters that were (yet) in litigation.

    My clients paid with checks, not cash, but even then, cash is legal tender, right?

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    • I mean obstruction of justice is actually illegal, and he publicly admitted to that in multiple Tweets and TV appearances.

      At this point the bar has nothing to do with any custom, norm, or even law, and has everything to do with being too depraved for the knaves in Congress who think any degradation of the republic is justified if they can just get a few Robert Bork gholas appointed.

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      • And right on cue…

        Rep.Jim “Gym” Jordan (R-OH) is running for speaker of the House, while fending off accusations that he enabled sexual abuse while coaching men’s wrestling.

        I mean, seriously at what point does the craven calculus of “I will defend any moral outrage, so long as it gets me what I want” itself the moral outrage?

        My scorn isn’t directed any more at Trump or the various monsters in the Republican party, but the rank and file who dutifully go to bat for them.

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        • My scorn isn’t directed any more at Trump or the various monsters in the Republican party, but the rank and file who dutifully go to bat for them.

          “I’d be happy to give him [oral sex] just to thank him for keeping abortion legal,” boasted former Time magazine White House correspondent Nina Burleigh about Bill Clinton.

          Why aren’t they outraged by the things I think they should be outraged by!

          I still haven’t decided what the funny to sad ratio is, watching both sides the last few decades attempting to be morally superior while engaging in the exact behavior they accuse the other team of. Attempting to hold the other team to your expectations of the behavior that you feel should define them is rather silly. And sad.

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              • People being hung up on sex LONG predates the Right.

                I think there’s an element of parental anxiety about that, but granted, there’s also opportunism on the part of various religious leaders. They need an enemy, something to rally the troops against, but also something safe that won’t blow up the movement.

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          • Right, right.
            Because its all the same.
            Abortion being legal, or not legal.
            Immigrant children held in camps, or kept with their parents.
            Police being allowed to shoot black men with impunity, or being held to account.
            Nothing matters, and both sides are the same.

            See, the moral dilemma in warfare is when you have to do a little evil for a greater good.
            So you might have to excuse a cheating husband, who keeps women’s freedom alive.

            But here, we are witnessing people do a little evil in the service of a greater evil.

            They excuse a cheating husband, so they can inflict pain and suffering on millions of women, and people of color and immigrants.

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              • This was too personal and direct an attack on Aaron. Had I been around at the time I would have deleted it and warned you sternly.

                As it is, I’m warning you sternly.

                We cannot *talk* about this stuff if people start ad homineming individual commenters. Chip didn’t quite cross that line, and he was making a larger point, so I can let it slide.

                This comment, however, did.

                Don’t do that.

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        • Well, we’ve gone from the Speaker of the House being a wrestling coach who molested boys to the next Speaker of the House just being a guy who enabled a wrestling coach who molested young men. So I guess that’s progress.

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