I got my own Trump document dump — and it makes clear why his election interference case is delayed

Our government lies.

Two and a half years ago, while doing some research, I filed a Freedom of Information (FOIA) request for information on former Trump fixer Michael Cohen and the investigation that led to his prosecution. Cohen gave me permission to pursue the information; he wanted it too. So for the last two and a half years, with the assistance of brilliant FOIA attorney Mark Zaid and his firm, we have pursued the information to no avail. I’ve sat in Zoom meetings listening to excuse after excuse. I’ve appeared in court. Nothing has ever been done. 

If you’ve ever filed a FOIA with any branch of the federal government, be prepared for a wait. It is always a long wait and the amount of information you obtain is usually minimal.

The idea behind the FOIA Act is to provide transparency in government. The reality is that the act is often used to obscure governmental activities. Often, we are told, the FOIA offices in the federal government are underfunded and overworked, thus producing a backlog of information that American taxpayers never get to see.

“That’s an undeniable fact,” Zaid has told me on numerous occasions. My own investigation into the issue substantiates that claim. But, Zaid has also warned me the government drags its heels in providing information – which is a better explanation of what happened in Manhattan recently.

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office said federal prosecutors had provided about 73,000 pages of records since March 4 in response to a Trump subpoena filed in January. They appeared “largely irrelevant,” but 172 pages were witness statements that Trump’s team could review before trial, according to a court filing from state prosecutors. For that reason, the Manhattan case has been delayed by 30 days. 

Not so coincidentally, around the same time the federal government responded with documents that. I had requested on that same case two and a half years ago. But I didn’t get 73,000 pages. The government reviewed 32 pages and sent me 31. 

In the beginning, the government told me there were no documents in their possession that matched what I requested. But, thanks to Cohen, I already had at least one document that indicated others also existed. When presented with that information the government then came back and said there were extensive documents and it would take years to process my request. Turns out, I just needed to be Alvin Bragg.

Donald Trump is right. There is a two-tiered justice system in this country. But only a fool would think he’s on the bottom tier.

Among the information I sought and received was information that detailed the beginning of the investigation into Michael Cohen and his dealings with Stormy Daniels. “In the course of this investigation, evidence has been gathered . . . focusing on Cohen, former executive in the Trump organization and current personal attorney for President Trump,” some of the released information from the Justice Department (DOJ) explained. “It is being reclassified from Bank Fraud to crimes related to the federal election campaign act.”

The information shows why Cohen was targeted and the acts he took for the “benefit of Donald Trump”. There is very little that is new that the DOJ provided me – but it does help verify what Michael Cohen has long said – and been accused of lying about by Donald Trump. Trump has long said that Cohen cannot be trusted – which makes you wonder why he ever hired him. But the evidence released shows that it was quite the contrary. Trump trusted Cohen with good reason – he carried out the Donald’s wishes as a good foot soldier. Everything released to me shows not only that Cohen was accurate in describing his actions – but that everything he did was for Donald Trump. His loyalty to Trump was unquestionable. Unshakable. Undeniable. And it cost him dearly. 

The information I received also backs up most media reports – and indeed is based upon information already disclosed to the public. For this I waited two and a half years? Part of the information reads like an index of media articles and television shows regarding Donald Trump.

Some FBI interviews, private texts and phone calls are also part of the documents I received – but again – nothing new is mentioned in them. We all know why the federal government began investigating Cohen. What is interesting in the 32 pages I received are several blacked-out sections describing who was interviewed, yet the information provided from those interviews provides few insights.

Sure, if you want a backstage pass to the clandestine way members of the press get tips on the “Access Hollywood” tapes, then grab some popcorn. But none of this is news and none of it is new.

There is little doubt that the amount of information dropped on Bragg includes thousands of pages of minutia just like this, thereby ensuring that Bragg will have to take up his time to determine what we already know: Trump’s a criminal and asked Cohen to “fix it”. 

With a 30-day delay, Bragg must read, digest, condense, report on and determine if any of these 73,000 pages are relevant to a complex case in Manhattan. That means the processing of 2,433 pages a day. Even if you have 24 people reading 100 pages a day it will be difficult. Expect further delays, or expect some information to be overlooked, and/or the trial to be further delayed.

Who does this benefit other than Donald Trump? No one, but it brings to mind several questions: Why did the government lie to me about processing my request? Why did the government make a last-minute dump to Trump.

The right to a speedy trial doesn’t just belong to the defendant. It belongs to all of us, a guarantee that the government doesn’t abuse our rights or railroad us indefinitely in matters of extreme and mundane importance.

The most telling thing in the information released to me was “He’s pissed!” which Cohen said about Trump when the former president found out his peccadillos were about to become public; just another look inside Trump’s bombast.

Meh. Still, that’s not even mildly entertaining after what I heard from Trump in person. It sounds less than amusing — boring.

Want a daily wrap-up of all the news and commentary Salon has to offer? Subscribe to our morning newsletter, Crash Course.

The biggest revelation to me was the statement that “the positive news coverage of Trump during the campaign and the payments . . . were intended to shield then-candidate Trump from public criticism and scrutiny, and therefore influenced a presidential election.”

There it is. The press helped Donald Trump. Some of us were cognizant of it, and some were victims of the crap spewed by Trump and his paid allies.

The U.S. press has a lot to answer for, then and now about our coverage of Donald Trump.

And as the actions taken by the government in the Bragg case also show, the government is complicit in this as well.

There is not a single truth to be told by Trump. There’s no amount of grifting he won’t do, and there’s no one he won’t corrupt to save his own skin.

There are obviously still members of the Department of Justice who through ignorance or malice will support Donald Trump for a variety of reasons. The released information this week also shows there are obviously members of the media who either are greedy or stupid and thus are assisting Trump.

Trump’s love/hate relationship with the press is a cautionary tale if ever there was one.

But I admit I could be wrong. I received less than three dozen pages. Bragg got 73,000. 

And we both got took.

Source link

About The Author

Scroll to Top