Saturday, May 05, 2018

Diversion


On February 13, 2008 Michael Cohen told The New York Times that the $130,000 he paid to Stormy Daniels was a private transaction to which neither the Trump Organization nor the Trump campaign was a party and that neither reimbursed him.

Asked while aboard Air Force One on April 5 about the payment, President Trump referred reporters to Cohen because he "is my attorney" and denied knowing where the dough had originated.

On April 26 Trump admitted to "Fox and Friends" that Cohen "represented me with this crazy Stormy Daniels deal" but "did absolutely nothing wrong,” and it didn't involve campaign funds.

On May 2, Trump personal attorney Rudy Giuliani told Sean Hannity the payment did not involve campaign funds and was "funneled through a law firm, and then the president repaid it." On May 3, Trump said much the same through Twitter, that Cohen was paid through a "monthly retainer" and the "private agreement" did not involve the "campaign or campaign contributions." The next day, Giuliani said that his statements involved only "my understanding" not "my understanding of the president's knowledge."

Confused? You should be, because it's enough to make the head spin, and almost enough to avoid the obvious conclusion that Donald Trump did violate campaign finance laws.

Of course virtually no one understands campaign finance law and very few care about it, including the half of the Federal Election Commission which is Republican.  And so the real purpose (or at least the benefit) to to the back-and-forth lying is diversion.    NYU bioethics professor Arthur Caplan reminds us that Harold Bornstein, Donald Trump's personal physician until shortly after Trump was inaugurated, has claimed that

two days after he told a newspaper that he had for years prescribed a hair growth medicine for Trump, the President's henchmen stormed his office and took off with all of his X-rays and patient charts.

If my personal physician had shared unauthorized information about my health, I would want a new doctor and all my records back, too. But I wouldn't behave like Trump's friends in Russia and launch a full-scale invasion.

Clearly there's something percolating in Trump's medical history that he is desperate to keep protected. But he doesn't have the right to send his lawyer and a goon to go haul them away. This is how you operate in totalitarian states.

Besides, medical records are shared property. Doctors have a right to hold on to them for billing purposes and to protect themselves against malpractice suits. They don't have the right to share them.

This perspective is not held by Allen Gartens, the individual identified as the Trump Organization lawyer who conducted the burgary- uh, er raid- with two other  men.  On Mayday, Gartens' spokesperson issued a statement including "at the request of the White House, Dr. Bornstein voluntarily turned over the medical records to Mr. Schiller.  The hand off, which occurred well over a year ago was peaceful, cooperative and cordial."

It was not explained why the attorney and the third man were accompanied by Mr. Schiller, then the President's hired thug and muscle. Had this been a "cordial handoff," Dr. Bornstein would still have the original copy of Donald J. Trump's medical records.





The President of the United States of America probably conspired to commit burglary and larceny.  If this was to hide his use of Propecia, it was the greatest case of overkill in world history.  It was not, and instead we heard again this week that Donald Trump may have committed a campaign finance violation.




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