Editor’s Note: Paul Callan is a CNN legal analyst, a former New York homicide prosecutor and current counsel at the New York law firm of Edelman & Edelman PC, focusing on wrongful conviction and civil rights cases. Follow him on Twitter @paulcallan. The opinions expressed in this commentary are his own.
It’s been a truly hellish week for the Trump presidency. The week began with an unprecedented FBI raid the on the office, home and hotel room of the President’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, to execute a search warrant seeking incriminating documents.
It ended in verbal and Twitter fisticuffs between the President and former FBI Director James Comey, who revealed– among other things – new details about the President’s alleged reaction when Comey advised him of a Russian claim that Trump had engaged in a romp with Russian prostitutes. The tweeting fisticuffs were about a lot more than just the “golden showers” allegation.
Comey is on a tour pushing his new book, “A Higher Loyalty.” In between all this, the doorman at a Trump building made some startling revelations, and the President pondered a missile attack on Syria.
The highlight of this Trumpian scandal festival for a while appeared to be the allegations that the doorman who worked at New York’s Trump World Tower had been paid $30,000 by the National Enquirer’s parent company AMI to refrain from “criticizing President Trump’s former housekeeper due to a prior relationship she had with President Trump which produced a child.”
In Trumpworld, the normal solution to this problem would be to dispatch Michael Cohen to remind the doorman that he was likely to face punishing legal and financial consequences should he suggest that the President had fathered an illegitimate child with his housekeeper.
Cohen would be the logical choice for the doorman job, just as he was for the Stormy Daniels job. It is the same reason that Cohen was a completely logical target for closer scrutiny by the FBI.
Cohen was widely known as Trump’s “pitbull” and “fixer,” with a history of bare-knuckled threats to inflict catastrophic legal damages on anyone seeking to harm Trump’s reputation.
One can only imagine what may be hidden in the Cohen treasure trove of documents relating to the job of batting cleanup for Trump’s scandal-ridden past.
Whatever Cohen has accumulated, it is now being examined by FBI agents and federal prosecutors for evidence of criminality.
Cohen now has his own problems to worry about and is reportedly musing about the possibility of asserting his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination if questioned by law enforcement authorities – or by attorney Michael Avenatti in the California civil suits now swirling around him and the President.
Cohen’s attorney sought a “stay” in the California lawsuit pertaining to adult film star Stormy Daniels, citing Fifth Amendment concerns.
Cohen clearly does not want to be making statements under oath or on the record in court while the FBI examines his records.
The raid undoubtedly caused the President to appear completely distraught and off-balance as he mused during an unscripted press appearance on Monday about firing both Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein and special counsel Robert Mueller.
What was particularly unnerving to those watching Trump this week were his rants about Rosenstein, Mueller and the Russia investigation, interspersed with talk about letting the “missiles” fly at Syria.
Americans like to think of their President as ordering military strikes in a calm, rational and detached manner, not in the midst of an emotional meltdown about law enforcement authorities investigating his administration and his personal lawyer – or for that matter, rumors of an illegitimate child.
The President himself has been described as a “subject” of the investigation, nomenclature denoting a person who is perilously close to being the “target” of the investigation.
Sandwiched between the law office raid and the doorman allegations, the subject of Mr. Trump and “golden showers” jumped into the headlines with the publication of excerpts from the soon-to-be-released book written by the FBI director he fired, James Comey.
The book, “A Higher Loyalty,” apparently contains descriptions of the President’s alleged insistence on obtaining a loyalty pledge from Comey, and Trump’s repeated request that Comey make a determined effort to disprove the uncorroborated “golden showers” descriptions of Trump’s alleged sexual activity with Russian prostitutes, which appeared in the controversial “Steele Dossier.”
The strange thing is that the nation has now been so scandal-scarred by Trump’s inappropriate behavior that news of an out-of-wedlock child, even if true, would hardly make a dent in his already shattered reputation for character and integrity.
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He has probably already reached the point of being “libel-proof,” a rare condition in the law of defamation which holds that some people have such poor and tarnished reputations that even the publication of false statements cannot bring them any lower.
Proof of this is that the story of the illegitimate child – whether true or not –barely registered on the public’s consciousness.
In a really bad week for everyone connected to Trumpworld, only one person looks to be in reasonably good shape: the doorman.