Tuesday's HOT MIC
Good Tuesday morning.
Here's what is on the President's agenda today:
- The President participates in the arrival of the Amir of the State of Qatar
- President Trump meets with the Amir of the State of Qatar
- The President has a working lunch with the Amir of the State of Qatar
- President Trump participates in the departure of the Amir of the State of Qatar
- The President hosts the 2017 NCAA Football National Champions: The Alabama Crimson Tide at the White House
Trump lawyer gets Manafort-ed
Jackbooted thugs paid a visit to Trump lawyer Michael Cohen yesterday and according to The New York Times, the feds seized "business records, emails and documents related to several topics, including a payment to a pornographic film actress."
President Trump was furious, as he should be, calling it a "witch hunt," which it is.
The prosecutors obtained the search warrant after receiving a referral from the special counsel in the Russia investigation, Robert S. Mueller III, according to Mr. Cohen’s lawyer, who called the search “completely inappropriate and unnecessary.” The search does not appear to be directly related to Mr. Mueller’s investigation, but most likely resulted from information that he had uncovered and gave to prosecutors in New York.
Trump had plenty of criticism to go around.
The president once again railed against Jeff Sessions, the attorney general, for recusing himself in the Russia inquiry, and blasted the F.B.I. for failing to investigate Hillary Clinton, “where there are crimes.” He criticized Rod J. Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, who is overseeing the Russia investigation, and called Mr. Mueller’s team “the most biased group of people,” who he said were mostly Democrats and some Republicans who had worked for President Barack Obama.
“That is really now on a whole new level of unfairness,” Mr. Trump said.
The raid was not just related to the porn actress Stormy Daniels' bribery allegations. (By the way, I wonder who is behind her efforts...)
The payment to the pornographic film actress, Stephanie Clifford, who is known as Stormy Daniels, is only one of many topics being investigated, according to a person briefed on the search. The F.B.I. also seized emails, tax documents and business records, the person said. Agents raided space Mr. Cohen uses in the Rockefeller Center office of the law firm Squire Patton Boggs, as well as a room Mr. Cohen is staying in at the Loews Regency Hotel on Park Avenue while his apartment is under renovation, the person said.
One thing is curious: Mr. Cohen was cooperating with the authorities, so why were the jackboots brought in? A special team of agents will need to go through the material in order to identify communications that are protected under attorney-client relationship. If the New York agents just happen to find something relevant to Mueller's investigation they can turn it over to the special counsel, The New York Times reports.
Zuckerberg's visit to the hill
The prospect that Mr. Zuckerberg, a 33-year-old billionaire, will be taken to task on Capitol Hill has created intense interest and a media circus. On Monday, he was trailed by more than a dozen television cameras and numerous reporters when he exited the office of Senator Bill Nelson, Democrat of Florida and a Senate Commerce Committee leader. Mr. Zuckerberg said nothing as he strode out of an Senate office elevator, accompanied by Joel Kaplan, Facebook’s vice president for global public policy, who is based in Washington, and Brian Rice, a leading Democratic lobbyist for the social network, among others.
Mr. Nelson, who met with Mr. Zuckerberg for an hour, said the chief executive was taking the situation “seriously.”
What will be the result of Zuckerberg's testimony? Will Facebook be regulated? Will the social media company police themselves so Congress doesn't have to?
I'm skeptical Facebook or Congress will take much action. Facebook (and Google) has a business model that is based on exploiting the personal data of their users. Both companies donate huge amounts of money to politicians, and it's rumored Facebook is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars a month on lobbyists. I think we'll end up with some cosmetic gestures and some regulations that will punish those on the right, presented as an antidote to "fake news" that "handed the election to Trump."
Of course, Facebook (and Google, and Twitter) is free and if you can't tell what the product being sold is, it's you. But these companies make it very difficult to limit the amount of information or shield your privacy by hiding controls and settings throughout their platforms. The best thing to do is just opt out of the whole system.
Zuckerberg will appear today to testify before the Senate if you are interested in watching.
Historical picture of the day:
And that's all I've got, now go beat back the angry mob!