You Don’t Get What You Don’t Pay For

The Inspector General report on the Hillary Clinton email investigation is supp0sed to be released today, and when it is it will probably eat the rest of the day’s news. Bloomberg has a preview:

Former FBI Director James Comey “deviated” from FBI and Justice Department procedures in handling the probe into Hillary Clinton, damaging the law enforcement agencies’ image of impartiality even though he wasn’t motivated by political bias, the department’s watchdog found in a highly anticipated report.

“While we did not find that these decisions were the result of political bias on Comey’s part, we nevertheless concluded that by departing so clearly and dramatically from FBI and department norms, the decisions negatively impacted the perception of the FBI and the department as fair administrators of justice,” Inspector General Michael Horowitz said in the report’s conclusions, which were obtained Thursday by Bloomberg News.

Probably few will notice that New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood just filed an interesting lawsuit.

The New York attorney general on Thursday filed suit against President Trump and his three eldest children alleging “persistently illegal conduct” at the president’s personal charity, saying Trump repeatedly misused the nonprofit — to pay off his businesses’ creditors, to decorate one of his golf clubs and to stage a multimillion dollar giveaway athis 2016 campaign events.

In the suit, filed Thursday morning, attorney general Barbara Underwood asked a state judge to dissolve the Donald J. Trump Foundation. She asked that its remaining $1 million in assets be distributed to other charities and that Trump be forced to pay at least $2.8 million in restitution and penalties.

No jail time, alas. But this gets to the topic I want to write about, which is that Donald Trump really hates to be parted from his own money.

It was reported yesterday that Michael Cohen is letting go of his legal team, and word is that this is partly because he’s struggling to pay them.  “The dispute between Mr. Cohen and his lawyers involves the payment of his legal bills, part of which are being financed by the Trump family,” says the New York Times.  He is likely to hire a smaller team with more criminal trial experience, it is said.

However, also, too:

One person with knowledge of the legal staffing change said Mr. Trump’s camp was “very displeased” with the way the Cohen investigation had so far been conducted. Mr. Trump himself has told people he is angry at Mr. Cohen over the messiness of the situation — especially those aspects involving Ms. Clifford. But the president has also indicated to allies that he is worried that if he pushes Mr. Cohen away too hard, it could increase the likelihood that Mr. Cohen will offer information to the government. ….

… Mr. Trump’s businesses have not been funding Mr. Cohen’s entire legal defense, but the Trump family has been paying for the time-consuming — and enormously expensive — process of reviewing the voluminous materials seized in the raids on Mr. Cohen, according to people familiar with the case. Recently, however, a dispute has erupted over the amount that Mr. Cohen’s lawyers want to charge the Trump family enterprises for the review, which the lawyers have said they are running with a large team of associates and data specialists. The disagreement could serve to further isolate Mr. Cohen from Mr. Trump — a risky move for the president.

People are scratching their heads over why Trump would be so stingy, since he’s the one who will lose if Cohen flips. Josh Marshall wrote,

You can see all the frictions and resentments at work here. Trump is pissed that Cohen was so sloppy and that he got caught. He also must fear that Cohen will betray him. But he doesn’t want to let his anger over that potential betrayal drive Cohen to actual betrayal. It’s a bit of a bind! Meanwhile Cohen is apparently bouncing between sad-sackery and defiance, his own impossible predicament.

But what’s striking about these paragraphs is this: why have this dispute over money? Would it not be worth even a few million more dollars for even the hope of keeping Cohen on board? Can Trump possibly be this cheap? Don’t answer that. It seems like all the friction is leading him to push Cohen away over mere money.

Maybe Mr. “I Just Established World Peace” thinks he’s untouchable.

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