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Stormy Daniels was no Media Storm

Monday, March 26th, 2018

las-vegas-Everyone anticipated that the 60 Minutes interview of Stormy Daniels about her affair with Donald Trump would be a major blowout.  I even have friends living in Vancouver, Canada call to say they would be watching.  But Stormy’s interview was quite underwhelming by all accounts.

Her attorney had stated that she would be a credible witness.  Well credibility, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.  Ms. Daniels’ (not her real name) credibility on her account of meeting with Donald Trump and having unprotected sex with him while in a hotel room on their first meeting,  rang true.  Her demeanor and tone of voice in speaking sounded as if she were telling the story to a girlfriend—instead of to Anderson Cooper on 60 Minutes. I have no doubt that she met Trump in a hotel room, flirted with him, had conversation and ultimately had unprotected sex with him—albeit she said that she was not attracted to him.  Her statement that Trump told her she reminded him of his daughter also rang true. Another woman who alleges an affair with Trump almost says the same exact words by Trump.  I would have concerns if my father said an adult porn star reminded him of me, right before he had sex with her.

Stormy Daniels was paid $130,000 to keep her sexual encounter a secret. And she said that she signed the nondisclosure agreement in November, 2016 because she felt it was the right thing to do.  She stated she had no intentions of kissing telling.  In January, 2018, she later signed a statement that read on 60 Minutes that she only met Trump in public.  The question was still left unanswered for me as to why she came public now.   My suspicious are that she now realizes her story for payment of a one- night affair is well worth over $130,000 and she wants to cash in with book deals, movies and interviews. Anderson Cooper asked her about this and she denied it.

Her version didn’t rang true about threats on her life in Las Vegas and that she wanted to defend herself from statements in the media.  No offense to Stormy but I don’t see how with her profession that she felt the need to ‘defend” her reputation. And Michael Cohen filed a cease and desist letter immediateley following her interview due to her attempts to connect him to a threat on her life.

In any event, as Stormy has filed a lawsuit to nullify the nondisclosure agreement, we may soon learn more sordid details.  She failed to answer if she had tapes, Emails or any other material involving Trump.  It wouldn’t surprise me if she has some other sordid proof of her relationship with Trump.  Remember Monica Lewinsky kept the soiled blue dress. That’s where I think the real value is in her story—if there is more proof to it.

And Trump and his attorney Michael Cohen may be in jeopardy of going afoul of the federal election laws.  Cohen by giving the $130,000 to Daniels far exceeded what an individual donor may give to a candidate. And Cohen’s hush money could likely be perceived as an in-kind contribution to the Trump campaign 11 days before the election—in an effort to affect the outcome of the election.

As for Stormy, a court will review the “hush” agreement to determine if it is legit. Stormy Daniels filed in court to be relieved of the agreement as it was never signed by Trump—who now seeks to enforce it.  I suspect that a court will declare that the agreement is unenforceable for that reason.

So Cohen and Trump may be in hot water. Stormy on the other hand is likely just getting started with playing with Donald Trump.  After all,  her interview clocked in at one of the most watched since 60 Minutes 2008 interview with Barack and Michelle Obama.

 

Washington, Dc based Debbie Hines is a lawyer in private practice and a former prosecutor.

Please No More Sam Nunberg Circus as Breaking News

Wednesday, March 7th, 2018
Sam Nunberg -Courtesy of the Grio

Sam Nunberg -Courtesy of the Grio

Anyone, who turned on cable news TV at any time on Monday, couldn’t help but see a defiant Sam Nunberg, a former Trump aide, ranting and raving about his refusal to appear before a grand jury to testify pursuant to a subpoena. Nunberg, appearing possibly inebriated or at least smelling of alcohol according to CNN’s Erin Burnett, speculated about Trump, Roger Stone and other parties involved in the Russian-Trump investigation. Whenever did speculation become breaking news?  I wonder who on the major cable news outlets thought Nunberg’s hours long coverage was appropriate.

As I watched Nunberg, I wondered what the world must now think of the U.S. While we do have very good reason to be concerned about an Russian involvement or interference in our election, we do not have a good reason to air every possible aspect as breaking news. And Nunberg appears in the category  of non-breaking news given the non-substance of his interview.

I do think there are journalists that would not have interviewed Nunberg to the point of sickening to watch on air.  MSNBC Joy Reid recently interviewed Stephanie Hamill, an adviser for the National Diversity Coalition for Trump, who spouted conspiracy theories when asked to answer a question.  Akin to what should have happened with Nunberg’s speculation on Trump affairs, Reid cut off  Hamill’s responses, saying she does not harbor conspiracy theories on her show.  I think it would have been appropriate for one of the news outlets to have proceeded to commercial and return without Nunberg.   Perhaps, Joy Reid was needed to interview Nunberg to cut short his breaking-non-breaking news segment.

 

On Friday, we will learn if Sam Nunberg, former Trump aide, will appear before the grand jury pursuant to the subpoena issued to him to produce documents and testify in the Russian-Trump investigation. He later changed his tone indicating that he will comply. Whatever he decides to do, I hope the cable news networks do not waste another entire day to interviewing and discussing him as breaking news.

Nunberg’s grand jury attendance or non-attendance is not breaking news worthy of the news time spent on it on Monday.  If he doesn’t appear, as a former proseuctor, I know that Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller will file a motion to compel him to testify and bring the requested documents. If a contempt order is entered against Nunberg, he must comply with the subpoena or face jail time.

There are so many stories that were news worthy on Monday and will be news worthy on Friday, in lieu of Nunberg;  Gun control debate and laws, immigration and ending of DACA, upcoming special elections and ensuring our  2018 and 2020 elections are secured, Flint, Michigan water contamination are just a few.  Former first lady Michelle Obama once said that when they go low, we go high. Monday’s coverage of Nunberg was a new low for cable TV  news.  I just hope the cable news outlets do not rinse and repeat similar coverage of Nunberg  all day on Friday.

 

Washington, DC based Debbie Hines is a trial lawyer, legal analyst and former prosecutor.

 

Ban the Assault Weapons Elephant in the Room

Wednesday, February 28th, 2018

assaultweapons (1)On the same day that Florida House lawmakers’ committee voted to arm  some teachers, a Georgia social studies teacher was arrested for bringing a gun to school, firing it, barricading himself and causing students to run to avoid being stuck and possibly killed.   According to Dalton, Georgia police, the teacher,   Randall Davidson will  face charges of aggravated assault, carrying a weapon on school grounds, terroristic threats, reckless conduct, possession of gun during commission of a crime, and disrupting a public school.  Following the Parkland, Florida school shooting that killed 17 persons, Donald Trump proposed that teachers should be provided with incentives to be armed with guns in the classroom.

Florida House committee responded to the Parkland school shootings by approving a bill that would raise the minimum age to buy any gun, require a three-day waiting period for rifle purchases and create a program that could allow some teachers to carry concealed weapons in the classroom.  Davidson had a concealed weapon and improperly used it.

Davidson points to one reason why teachers should not be armed. There are many reasons for this policy to never reach the light of day. Arming teachers will not solve the gun violence issue in schools.  It will only exasperate it.  Teachers are taught and paid to teach students.  They are not taught or trained to possibly shoot to kill their own students.  They are not trained to be SWAT police or law enforcement.  And even with trained law enforcement, they often get it wrong and kill innocent persons—as the shootings of many unarmed Blacks prove.

The Trump administration, GOP lawmakers and Florida lawmakers, many who get financial support from the NRA, refuse to ban assault rifles and associated ammunition.  Assault weapons are the elephant in the room.  Everyone can see the elephant but no one wants to acknowledge its presence. Short term fixes are like band aids to fix a person bleeding from a fatal gun wound. Until lawmakers begin by banning assault weapons and assorted ammunition, many persons will continue to bleed and die from being shot with assault weapons.

The shooter in the Parkland, Florida school shooting had 150 rounds of ammunition remaining before he chose to leave and walk out of the school.   He could have killed many more persons than the 14 students and three teachers.  If he had not been able to purchase the guns, the incident wouldn’t have happened.  Raising the age to buy guns is a limited fix. A killer like Nikolas Cruz can just wait three more years until he reaches the age requirement to buy a killing machine.  That fix is a temporary one.

Banning assault weapons and related ammunition is the one law that will effectively prevent the type of shootings that occurred in Parkland, Florida, Newtown, Connecticut, Charleston, SC, Aurora, Colorado, Las Vegas, Nevada, Columbine and many other locations. In November, 2017, the Supreme Court refused to hear a challenge to Maryland’s 2013 state ban on assault weapons.  The 4th Circuit federal appeals court in Richmond, Virginia ruled that assault weapons are not protected by the second amendment, as they are weapons of war and not for self-defense.  While banning assault weapons will not cure all that ails this county in terms of gun violence, it is a good start to end mass killings in churches, schools, movie theaters, concerts, shopping centers and everywhere we congregate in crowds.

There is no legal reason preventing us from banning assault weapons of mass destruction—except for our cowardly lawmakers.  And if lawmakers won’t vote to ban assault weapons, it’s time to vote these lawmakers out.

Update:  Tweet From a student at Dalton High School on arming teachers.

my favorite teacher at Dalton high school just blockaded his door and proceeded to shoot. We had to run out The back of the school in the rain. Students were being trampled and screaming. I dare you to tell me arming teachers will make us safe.

__________________________________

Washington, DC Debbie Hines is a trial lawyer, legal analyst and former prosecutor.  She is an outspoken gun control advocate.

Donald Trump is the Real “DISGRACEFUL” One

Wednesday, February 28th, 2018
Donald Trump, Public Domain

Donald Trump, Public Domain

Donald Trump began his early morning tweeting on Wednesday by attacking Attorney General Jeff Sessions calling him “DISGRACEFUL” all caps. Trump tweeted:

Donald J. Trump‏Verified account @realDonaldTrump

 

Why is A.G. Jeff Sessions asking the Inspector General to investigate potentially massive FISA abuse. Will take forever, has no prosecutorial power and already late with reports on Comey etc. Isn’t the I.G. an Obama guy? Why not use Justice Department lawyers? DISGRACEFUL!

 

 

 

Apparently, Sessions’ latest Trump problem was doing what Trump requested but not doing it in the manner that Trump deemed appropriate.  Trump asked for an investigation into any potential FISA and surveillance abuse.  Sessions called on the Inspector General to investigate as the independent body that investigates those who enforce the law to make sure they are following the law.  Apparently, according to Trump, calling on the appropriate agency to investigate was “disgraceful.”

 

As the day progressed, White House Communications Director Hope Hicks, who testified before the White House Intelligence panel on investigating the Russian Trump possible collusion, offered her resignation. In testifying before the panel, Hicks admitted to sometimes telling “white lies”  for Trump—while stating that none were major or substantial.  I don’t know how Hicks was raised as a child. In my family, I was taught that a lie was a lie—white or otherwise.  And I was punished for telling little white lies.  I just hope she didn’t tell any “white Lies” when she testified before Special Prosecutor Mueller.  If she did, she might find herself being punished in the same court room as Paul Manafort facing criminal charges. Of course, Twitter folks couldn’t resist with the hashtag #WhiteLiesMatter.

Before Hicks, there was Kellyanne Conway who stated there are alternative facts. Again, there are facts and anything less than a fact is fiction.  The motto of the Trump administration is not I cannot tell a lie but one of lies and alternative facts are key.  Beginning with former Press Secretary Sean Spicer lying about the size of the Trump inauguration size in comparison to President Obama’s inauguration crowd, the Trump administration has no understanding of truth telling.  As the Trump administration continues to falter, here are ten things the Trump administration cannot tell the difference from:

  • Fact versus fantasy
  • Truth versus lies
  • Alternative facts versus reality
  • Disgrace versus honor
  • Witch hunt versus special investigation
  • President versus dictator
  • Democracy versus plutocracy
  • USA versus Russia
  • U. S. government versus private sector
  • Rule of law versus dictatorship

And if Trump cannot distinguish between these ten important issues, then Donald Trump is the real disgrace to our country. And I agree with Trump’s use of all caps—“DISGRACEFUL” but only as it compares to his presidency.  Donald Trump is the real disgraceful one.

Washington, DC  based Debbie Hines is a trial lawyer, legal analyst and former prosecutor.

 

 

Celebrating Presidents Day with a Fake President in Office

Monday, February 19th, 2018
Donald Trump, Public Domain

Donald Trump, Public Domain

With everything going on with the Russian interference with our November, 2016 presidential election, some question the legitimacy of the current person holding the title and office of president.  On Friday, indictments were handed down against Russian individuals and entities for engaging in unlawful activities to undermine the 2016 election and to favor Donald Trump.  It begs the question that if a person holding the office of president won the office through the influence by the Russians, is President’s day still a legitimate holiday in 2018.

Monday, February 19, 2018 is President’s day.  Most local, state and federal offices are closed.  President’s day is celebrated on the third Monday of February.  When I was in school, it was celebrated as Washington’s birthday in honor of our first president.  It was changed throughout time to celebrate Presidents Washington and Lincoln and then all presidents including the present president in office.

If Robert Mueller’s investigation determines that Donald Trump’s campaign engaged in collusion or in overt activity with the Russians to undermine our election process in November, 2016, then the person presently holding the office is a sham or a fake.  Even with the lack of any present indictments showing a combined effort by the Trump campaign to engage in a conspiracy with a foreign adversary, this so-called president has already shown an unwillingness to actually occupy the office.

Instead of bringing the country together, Trump has consistently engaged in a pattern and practice of dividing the country.  It’s like it’s him and his staunch supporters and the rest of the country in a battle.  When opportunities arise to console and comfort a grieving country, he takes every opportunity to further ignite divisive sparks.   Charlottesville, VA showed the president’s true colors in supporting the Neo-Nazi’s during the summer rally where one individual was killed.  And this past weekend, after visiting first responders in Parkland, FL, he headed to a party at his nearby Florida resort, in the wake of 17 persons killed at Douglas High school.

Trump’s attacks on women and support of men who are known sexual and domestic abusers further shows his division among gender.  And then there’s the race divide with Trump going against the NFL players’ right to silently protest the police brutality against blacks. He forcefully spoke against the players’ constitutional rights to address racism.  And many whites sided with the president and missed the point of the protests.  And Trump rarely misses an opportunity to attack Hispanics, Muslims and African Americans but often remains neutral in criminal actions by whites such as the Las Vegas killer and Charlottesville rally of KKK and white supremacists.

While there is no job description for the office of president, it appears that at a minimum, a president should unite the American people—or at least make genuine efforts to do so.  The Trump administrations does the exact opposite.  Sowing seeds of division may win votes with the weak Trump base.  However, it undermines the office of the president and disserves the e American people.

 

With possible further indictments in the wing on the Trump campaign and the president’s non-presidential actions in year one, do we really have reason to celebrate President’s day this year? I suggest we use President’s day 2018 to make a donation online to an organization that is upholding the constitution and democracy.  We don’t appear to have a president that honors either one.

Washington, DC based Debbie Hines is a trial lawyer, legal and political commentator and former Baltimore prosecutor.

Sean Spicer Rewarded for Lies; Jemele Hill Almost Fired for Truth

Tuesday, September 19th, 2017
Frmr Press Secretary Sean Spicer

Frmr Press Secretary Sean Spicer

On Sunday, September 17, the 2017 Emmys aired with an appearance and skit by former White House Press Secretary, Sean Spicer.  It appears the Emmy’s wanted to make light of the lies that Spicer told as press secretary about the crowd size of Donald Trump’s inauguration with a skit about the Emmy crowd size.

I am still fuming at Spicer’s appearance. Sean Spicer should have been booed and hissed off the stage. Instead Spicer appeared afterwards to be having the time of his life with meeting, greeting, partying and taking selfies with celebrities.

During his brief stint as press secretary, Spicer told lie after lie each day, in an apparent attempt to appease his boss.  His biggest and first of many lies was that the Trump inauguration crowd size was the largest that there had ever been in history.  After his Emmys appearance, he now asserts he regrets telling this lie—as if it was no harm, no foul. A lie is still a lie. And the Emmys giving Spicer any media platform sends a wrong message.

Contrast Sean Spicer’s mainstream acceptance with that of rejection of ESPN co-host Jemele Hill’s comments.  Jemele Hill, in a series of tweets on September 11, stated that Donald Trump is a white supremacist— “Donald Trump is a white supremacist who has largely surrounded himself w/ other white supremacists.” Hill in a series of tweets, stated her reasons for asserting Trump is a white supremacist. Hill stands by her September 11 personal statements and provides specific reasons in an interview with the Washington Post.

Hill’s comments stem from Trumps’ association with known white supremacists, the birther movement, derogatory comments about Mexicans and Blacks, among others.  Current White House Press Secretary Sara Hucklebee Sanders called for Hill’s firing.  And a host of other persons including Donald Trump negatively weighed in on her comments. Hill’s truthful opinion almost costs her job.

Spicer’s lies get rewards and perks for him. He is now weighing options as a TV commentator, speaker engagements with high fees and a host of other media perks—all due to his lies.  Who knows Spicer may be even given his own show.  It could be called, “How I Lied My Way to Fame and Fortune.”.

I know there are folks who will say that Spicer’s Emmy appearance was meant as parody and humor. After all, Trump critic Stephen Colbert came up with the idea.  Sorry but I cannot find humor with Spicer who made a mockery of the White House with constant lies throughout his brief tenure as press secretary.

 

Growing up, my parents always stressed the importance of being truthful. As a trial attorney, I always advise my clients to tell the truth. I advise them that bad things will happen if you get caught in a lie.  In today’s world with the election of Donald Trump, we have come to apparently accept lies as the new norm. And Sean Spicer proves once again that lying pays.

In the case of truth versus lies, lies win. Unfortunately, it’s the truth that may get you fired.

Washington, DC based Debbie Hines is a trial lawyer, legal analyst and former Baltimore City prosecutor.