Trump makes threats. Sometimes he personally makes them, other times he has people do it for him.
Rep. Speier: How many times did Mr. Trump ask you to threaten an individual or entity on his behalf?
Michael Cohen: Quite a few times.
Rep. Jackie Speier: 50 times? Cohen: More
Rep. Jackie Speier: 100 times? Cohen: More
Rep. Jackie Speier: 200 times? Cohen: More
Rep. Jackie Speier: 500 times?
Michael Cohen: Probably, over the 10 years.
Cohen says he made "threats of litigation" which makes them sound nice and polite. But listen to this call Cohen made to a reporter. (Link) It's more than a legal threat. That's a threat of violence.
For Trump, legal threats aren't enough. He wants the people on the other end to be afraid for their life. Trump's use of threats of violence can provide another route to impeachment, in addition to all his campaign finance crimes and other law breaking. Remember this threat to Stormy Daniels and her daughter?
"A guy walked up on me and said to me: 'Leave Trump alone. Forget the story,'" Clifford said. "Then he leaned around and looked at my daughter and said, 'That's a beautiful little girl — it'd be a shame if something happened to her mom.' And then he was gone." --Stormy Daniels, 60 Minutes on March 25, 2018
Someone ordered Daniels and her child to be threatened. In the 10 years of working for Trump how many of those kind of calls and actions did Cohen make? Who else made those type of calls or made in-person threats at Trump's direction?
I say it's time to look into former bodyguard and current Chief Operating Officer at the Trump Organization, Matthew Calamari.
Did Calamari order his son to threaten Stormy Daniels on Trump's direction?
In the hearing Cohen said he didn't think a videotape of Trump hitting Melania existed. But Cohen knows multiple people tried to obtain it because they knew it would be a brand disaster for Trump. Cohen didn't believe Trump would hit Melania, but his views about Trump's capacity for violence differ from Ivana Trump's. Especially considering her statement about Donald Trump raping her.
Trump has talked about shooting and killing a generic someone in public and getting away with it. But what kind of specific personal threats has Trump made in private? What did he say when he didn't know he was being recorded?
As to how serious Trump was about those threats, Cohen himself said, "He's not joking."
Remember, the house committee now has access to over 100 of Cohen's audio tapes. What might they reveal?
It's time to look carefully at Trump's previous and current threats for threats of violence toward people.
I recently watched Born Yesterday on Amazon Prime and it showed a millionaire businessman who uses lawyers and legislators to set up a corrupt deal for his business. When he is defied by a woman he uses his fists. The "dumb blond" was played by Judy Holliday who won an Oscar in 1951 for this role. In real life she had a 172 IQ. Her dumb blond act outsmarted the men on the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee during the McCarthy era.
Tapes can also help confirm Trump's intent. Intent is tough to prove in a legal court, but Trump has shown time and time again he will state his intent in public. Yes, I'm speculating, but does anyone think Trump would be more reserved about what he wants done to people in private?
Additionally, audio tapes can provide not just what he says, it can also show how he says it and in what context. After listening to the Cohen/Trump tapes, the committee should interview people who were threatened by Trump's fixers and thugs and see how they were harmed.
- Who was threatened?
- Who did the threatening?
- What kind of threats were they?
- Is there evidence and can the threats be linked back to Trump?
Trump has been open about his threats--as if that somehow inoculates him. But note what Barbara McQuade, Former U.S Attorney in Michigan said on Rachel Maddow's show.
MADDOW: Does it matter whether these things are said publicly or in private?
MCQUADE: No, it really doesn't, the law doesn't say so. I mean, other than the fact that they both clearly watch too many gangster movies, there's a lot in common between the statements that Roger Stone is making and that President Trump is making. The witness tampering statute says that it's a crime to knowingly intimidate, threaten or corruptly persuade another person with intent to influence or prevent or delay their testimony in official proceedings.
MADDOW: Does it matter, Barb, if the attempted intimidation or pressure – does it matter if it works?
MCQUADE: It doesn`t matter whether it works or not. Even the attempt alone is enough. So even if the person stands firm and decides to go through with it anyway, what the person did to try to intimidate them, to persuade them not to testimony is itself a completed crime.
Making the threat is the crime, even if it didn't work.
I know people who see threatening others with law suits and using litigation to crush individuals and small businesses as just "smart business." But as someone who got a major legal threat from ABC/Disney, I can tell you that the line "It's nothing personal, it's just business" doesn't make it any less scary. (Thank you EFF for helping me defeat KSFO/ABC/Disney in a copyright case!)
I think the women powering the #MeToo movement will force Senators and Congressmen who support Trump to condemn him for directing others to commit violence against a woman/women.
Use Trump's history of Abuse of Power against him
How Trump threatens people hasn't changed, even though his power has increased.
It's bad enough to use the power of the corporation you are the head of to threaten someone, it's worse when you are the President of the United States. (As was noted in this New Yorker article, abuse of power was one of the reasons behind the articles of impeachment of Andrew Johnson)
Weak Florida Man Constantly Uses the Word Strong
Trump was too weak to walk up a hill with world leaders, yet he still tries to physically dominate people. Remember how Trump loomed behind Hillary during the debates?
Trump's used car salesman trick of grabbing the hand of his own cabinet appointees and world leaders to yank them off-balance is pathetic. He has literally pushed smaller leaders out of his way. For Trump physically dominating others is what a "strong" man does. When personal physical domination doesn't work, he gets others to make threats for him, as Cohen has testified.
Even for elites, ordering personal physical violence still gets punished in America. It's not "Just Business"
The democrats are correct to look at Trump's legal offenses: campaign financial violations, witness tampering and other crimes, but they should also be listening to the audio tapes for examples of Trump directing others to physically harm his enemies, especially women. That is the kind of offence that southern gentlemen, like Lindsey Graham, can't let slide. Not to mention female GOP senators and congress people.
The reason that this line of investigation from congress can be fruitful is because Trump is addicted to making threats. As we saw with the Trump Government Shutdown, he makes them and needs to carry through on them to save face with his base. Even if the threat tactic fails, he still sees it as a "strong" thing to do.
Trump will continue to use treats, then try to weasel out of the consequences for making them. But he is running out of weasels to help him.
These kind of investigations will also work because Trump is sloppy with this threats. He doesn't consult his lawyers when he makes them; and because he makes them personal, this can be used against him.
I don't want to bring up the RICO Act, but Trump has always run his organization like a mob boss, so let's look at the tools used to bring down the mob and crime families when they use coercion and threats on people.
When Trump is losing he makes threats. He is now suggesting to his millions they need to act to save him from the Big Bad Mueller. I know there is concern about how the base will react to Trump getting impeached and, as it has been pointed out to me, "They have guns!" But I'm not concerned about that right now.
Let's stop the hand wringing about what the Red Hats will do in the future while we professionally investigate and expose multiple egregious crimes that can lead to impeachment.
Like a lot of Human Males I watch comic-book action films. I see the heroes often physically punch their way to victory. I understand that action is needed to keep the monkey mind of the public engaged, but for me the best battles in the good movies also involve an intellectual problem solving component to victory.
A strategy, plan and combined tactics of a group of committed people can defeat an opponent with a bigger stick. To defeat Trump we need a combination of people who aren't afraid of him, who aren't beholden to him and who know they are part of something bigger and better than him. We have all those people--and the Constitution is on our side.