- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 9, 2018

Everywhere President Trump looks, there are Democrats targeting him, from New York to Washington to Maryland, in the positions of lawmakers, prosecutors, state attorneys general, opposition researchers, bureaucrats and activist defense lawyers.

They are aiming at Russia collusion, the Trump Organization, the Trump Foundation, a Trump hotel, Trump tax returns, Trump campaign finances and supposed money laundering.

“The relentless assaults on this president from every front were previously unimaginable and absolutely unprecedented,” said Sidney Powell, a Texas appeals attorney whose book, “License to Lie,” takes on Justice Department corruption. “The ‘resistance’ has sunk to a new low which I hope they live to regret. They truly became ‘creeps on a mission to destroy the President.’”

Mr. Trump tweeted Thursday, “It’s called Presidential Harassment!”

All the while, what conservatives consider the most hostile press toward a president in modern times has fed the Russia collusion flames with hundreds of stories — some of them bogus. The right-leaning Media Research Center analyzed NBC, ABC and CBS evening newscasts and found that 90 percent of their Trump stories were negative.



Last week, NPR stepped back from a report that Donald Trump Jr. misled Congress in his testimony on an aborted Russian hotel deal. WikiLeaks and Paul Manafort emphatically denied an unconfirmed Guardian newspaper report that the former Trump campaign manager met with Julian Assange in London three times. WikiLeaks published Democratic Party emails stolen by Russian intelligence officers.

The network of Democrats and Democrat-aligned forces going after Mr. Trump is widespread and well-funded. It includes:

• Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team. The conservative press has documented the Democratic donors on Mr. Mueller’s staff. Often mentioned is Andrew Weissmann, a Democratic contributor and cheerleader of the resistance inside the Justice Department. He attended what was supposed to be Hillary Clinton’s presidential victory party in New York.

Jeannie Rhee, another lead prosecutor, represented the Clinton Foundation as well as Mrs. Clinton in lawsuits. Inside the Justice Department, she was an adviser to former Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., a partisan Trump critic who is mulling a presidential run.

Conservatives say Ms. Rhee’s background should be treated as a conflict of interest because much of the investigation deals with how Russia tried to sabotage the Clinton campaign and whether the Trump team helped. Conservatives say there is another conflict: The FBI has relied on Clinton-financed opposition research known as the dossier.

Ms. Rhee has donated $16,000 to Democrats since 2008, Federal Election Commission records show. She gave the maximum $5,400 to Mrs. Clinton’s presidential campaign in the 2015-16 election cycle.

• Rep. Adam B. Schiff. With unilateral subpoena power, the California Democrat in January takes over the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. He has been a big booster of the dossier compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele. His work on the dossier was financed by the Democratic National Committee as well as Mrs. Clinton’s team.

Mr. Schiff has promised renewed vigor in investigating Mr. Trump. His agenda includes inquiries into whether Russian money was laundered through the Trump Organization. He will also look again at Russian collusion, for which the Republican majority exonerated the Trump campaign. Other incoming House Democratic chairmen also plan committee inquiries of Mr. Trump, including subpoenas.

• Τhe U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan. Mr. Mueller farmed out to New York the politically sensitive job of investigating Mr. Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen. Prosecutors have dived in, with senior prosecutor Thomas McKay criticizing the president in court.

Mr. McKay worked under then-U.S. attorney Preet Bharara, a former legal aide to Sen. Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat. Mr. Bharara refused to resign after thinking he had a deal to stay. Mr. Trump fired him in March 2017 and appointed a new U.S. attorney, who recused himself from the Cohen case.

Mr. Cohen pleaded guilty to tax evasion and violating campaign finance laws. He paid two women hush money that came from Mr. Trump, which in effect makes the president a participant in what federal officials said was an illegal deal.

Mr. Trump’s attorneys argue that the nondisclosure agreement was private, not an in-kind campaign donation. If it is a campaign donation, they say, it is legal because candidates can donate unlimited funds to their own campaigns.

• New York Attorney General Barbara D. Underwood. The Democrat has gone to war against Mr. Trump and his family. She filed suit in June accusing the Donald J. Trump Foundation of “extensive and persistent violations of state and federal law.” She is seeking $2.8 million in restitution.

She called on the Internal Revenue Service and Federal Election Commission to also go after the Trump family. She named directors Donald Trump Jr.; Ivanka Trump; and Eric Trump. She said Mr. Trump used the charity’s money to pay off legal obligations, promote Trump hotels and purchase personal items.

Trump attorney Alan S. Futerfas filed a memo in New York Supreme Court rejecting the charges. He accused the attorney general of carrying out a political vendetta begun by Eric Schneiderman, who resigned in May over allegations that he abused a woman. Mr. Schneiderman was an adviser to the failed Clinton campaign.

“The NYAG himself — the head of the entity that brought this petition — solicited financial donations to his own campaign for re-election based on his promise to ‘lead the resistance’ and attack the president and his policies, describing the president as out to ‘hurt’ New Yorkers,” Mr. Futerfas said. “The NYAG, as an entity, has issued scores of press releases trumpeting its fight against the president.”

• New York State Department of Taxation and Finance. Former Trump attorney Cohen, who is cooperating with Mr. Mueller and the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan, has met with state tax bureaucrats, according to his attorney’s court filing. Attorney Guy Petrillo said Mr. Cohen began cooperating after his guilty plea, suggesting that the focus is on Trump taxes. The taxation and finance department is part of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s administration.

Mr. Cohen “has cooperated personally and through counsel and tax professionals with requests for information,” his court filing says.

The FBI raided Mr. Cohen’s files this summer and collected reams of documents related to the Trump Organization. Mr. Cohen pleaded guilty to tax invasion by hiding income from his private taxicab business.

• Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh. The Democrat issued sweeping subpoenas for all sorts of Trump business records, including his Trump International Hotel in the District of Columbia.

Maryland and the D.C. city government have filed suit claiming the president is violating the Constitution’s emoluments clause by profiting from foreign officials who stay in his hotels. The Trump Organization says it identifies profits from such guests and donates them to the U.S. Treasury.

Mr. Frosh has filed additional lawsuits, such as challenging Mr. Trump’s appointment of an acting attorney general.

• Lanny Davis. The longtime Bill and Hillary Clinton loyalist is one of Mr. Cohen’s attorneys. He is active on the public relations front. He initially told reporters that Mr. Cohen testified that Mr. Trump was aware of the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting with a Russian lawyer. Mr. Davis later retracted the claim.

Mr. Davis wrote a book suggesting that Congress consider removing Mr. Trump under the 25th Amendment because, the author argues, he is mentally incapacitated. In October, Mr. Davis announced that Mr. Cohen left the Republican Party and re-registered as a Democrat. Mr. Cohen says his campaign finance violations (paying money to two women) were the result of misplaced loyalty to Mr. Trump.

• Michael Avenatti. The brash trial lawyer entered the political arena by taking up the cause of porn actress Stormy Daniels. The actress, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, is one of two women who claim to have had affairs with Mr. Trump years ago. Mr. Cohen facilitated a $130,000 payment to Ms. Clifford, which he said came from the president.

Mr. Avenatti sued Mr. Trump for defamation against his client and lost, meaning Ms. Clifford is liable for Mr. Trump’s six-figure legal bill. A separate lawsuit concerns the validity of the nondisclosure agreement for which Mr. Avenatti wants court-ordered depositions.

USA Today called the Clifford-Avenatti duo “a leading force of resistance against the president.”

Also on the legal front, the American Civil Liberties Union sued Mr. Trump over 100 times in his first 10 months in office, Business Insider estimated.

• Mr. Bharara. From the sidelines, the former New York prosecutor is an active anti-Trumper on Twitter. In October, he suggested that Mr. Trump would activate a presidential alert system to go after his political enemies.

“Serious question — what law prevents abuse of this new Presidential Alert? What law prevents POTUS from using it to attack a rival or promote himself?” he asked.

Some Democrats pushed him to seek the New York vacant attorney general job to go after Mr. Trump’s years of business in Manhattan. Liberal Vox.com called him a “leading voice of the opposition.”

At Vanity Fair’s 2017 “New Establishment Summit,” Mr. Bharara criticized Mr. Trump’s stand against illegal immigration and a ban on entry from some Muslim nations.

“I was born in India,” he said. “I’m going to try not to get deported.”

Mr. Bharara is among a cadre of former Barack Obama Justice Department officials who are on a mission to defeat Mr. Trump. They include Mr. Holder and former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates. She defied Mr. Trump’s Muslim ban order, to the cheers of Mr. Weissmann via an email disclosed by Judicial Watch.

• Daniel Jones. A former senior staffer to Sen. Dianne Feinstein, California Democrat, Mr. Jones established the secretive investigative firm Penn Quarter Group. He met with the FBI last year and said he had raised $50 million from wealthy donors to investigate Trump-Russia connections, according to a bureau document. He said he hired Mr. Steele and Fusion GPS, which originally handled the former spy. Mr. Steele told a Justice Department contact that he was “desperate” to destroy Trump, according to an FBI document.

For some liberals, Mr. Trump is already guilty.

“In a saner world, there’d be no need to wait for Mueller,” said a Twitter post by Jonathan Rauch, an activist journalist and gay rights advocate at the Brookings Institution. “Nothing he finds will be worse than what we already know: this POTUS was elected and serves in violation of his oath of office. Pity we need prosecutors to tell us that.”

Mr. Rauch said in an email that the forces against Mr. Trump are “unprecedented and warranted.”

Ms. Powell, the Justice Department critic, expresses unease over the president’s predicament.

“President has accomplished more to benefit middle-class Americans than the last two or three previous administrations combined,” she said. “Imagine what he could have done if he had not been hamstrung by all the Mueller crap.”

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