Double-Cross: Clinton Crony Defends Trump, Points Finger at Hillary Instead


If there is one political truism that has held fairly constant over the past thirty years or so, it is that associates of Bill and Hillary Clinton tend to remain incredibly loyal and serve as staunch defenders of their political benefactors in near perpetuity, almost no matter what.

Of course, there are exceptions to that general rule, and a prime example of such is an op-ed published in The Hill by Mark Penn, a former adviser and pollster for former President Clinton who was by his side during his impeachment. Penn took great exception to the recent guilty plea filed by former Trump attorney Michael Cohen for bank fraud and tax evasion, and particularly took issue with the supposed campaign finance violations that Cohen pleaded guilty to — non-crimes in the view of Penn.

To be sure, Penn sees Cohen as a rather slimy character who committed legitimate tax crimes and proved himself to be disloyal to businessman-turned-candidate-turned-President Donald Trump, but he viewed the prosecutorial pressure placed on Cohen as little more than a thin pretext to the overarching goal to “get Trump.”

The supposed campaign finance violations related to payments Cohen arranged or made to buy the silence of two women — former porn star Stormy Daniels and former Playboy playmate Karen McDougal — who claimed to have had affairs with Trump. Cohen was later reimbursed by the Trump organization for those payments.

“The sweetener for the prosecutors, of course, was getting Cohen to plead guilty to campaign violations that were not campaign violations. Money paid to people who come out of the woodwork and shake down people under threat of revealing bad sexual stories are not legitimate campaign expenditures. They are personal expenditures. That is true for both candidates we like and candidates we do not,” Penn wrote.

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Prosecutors alleged that those payments were intended to influence the 2016 election, and therefore counted as campaign expenditures, which should have been properly filed with the Federal Election Commission. But Penn exposed the fault — if not blatant double standard — in that logic by pointing out that virtually anything done to either help or hurt the electoral chances of either Trump or Clinton during the election could similarly be construed as a campaign contribution, a decidedly slippery slope.

As an example, he used the hypothetical situation of ABC News paying Daniels for her story about Trump through Daniels’ attorney, Michael Avenatti, or perhaps even through the Perkins Coie law firm that represented the Democratic National Committee. (More on them later.)

“By this reasoning, if the purpose of this money paid, just before the election, would be to hurt Trump and help Clinton win, this payment would be a corporate political contribution. If using it not to get Trump would be a corporate contribution, then using it to get Trump also has to be a corporate contribution. That is why neither are corporate contributions and this is a bogus approach to federal election law,” Penn said.

Penn further explained the typical process for the FEC to investigate potential campaign finance violations, and reiterated that using personal funds for personal reasons — even if ultimately beneficial to a political campaign — nevertheless don’t constitute campaign contributions or expenditures.

Do you agree that the prosecutorial pressure on Michael Cohen is little more than an effort to "get Trump"?

“Contrast what is going on here with the treatment of the millions of dollars paid to a Democratic law firm (Perkins Coie) which, in turn, paid out money to political research firm Fusion GPS and British spy Christopher Steele without listing them on any campaign expenditure form, despite crystal clear laws and regulations that the ultimate beneficiaries of the funds must be listed,” Penn wrote.

“There is no question that hiring spies to do opposition research in Russia is a campaign expenditure, yet no prosecutorial raids have been sprung on the law firm, Fusion GPS or Steele. The reason? It does not ‘get’ Trump,” he continued.

“So, Trump spends $130,000 to keep the lid on a personal story and the full weight of state prosecutors comes down on his lawyer, tossing attorney-client privilege to the wind. Democrats spend potentially millions on secret opposition research and no serious criminal investigation occurs,” Penn added.

Penn referenced how this tactic for virtually the same thing was tried and failed against 2012 Democrat presidential candidate John Edwards, and also noted how in the aftermath of the Clinton impeachment proceedings it was made clear that presidents would not be removed for lying about extramarital affairs and candidates would not be punished for paying off people for their silence.

The former Clinton aide wrote that this “is yet another example of the double standards of justice of one investigation that gave Clinton aides and principals every benefit of the doubt and another investigation that targeted Trump people until they found unrelated crimes to use as leverage.”

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“Trump should do a better job of picking aides who pay their taxes, but he is not responsible for their financial problems and crimes,” stated Penn. “These investigations, essentially based on an opposition dossier, were never anything other than an attempt to push into a corner as many Trump aides and family members as possible and shake them down until they could get close enough to Trump to try to take him down.”

Penn concluded by lamenting the “hour-by-hour scrutiny” of all of Trump’s “aides, lawyers and actions” by the media and prosecutors, noted none of what has been alleged as crimes have anything to do with the initial “Russian collusion” narrative the investigations are based upon, pointed out that the supposed campaign finance violations aren’t even legitimate crimes and bluntly stated that “squeezing guilty pleas” out of Trump associates will do nothing to change those fundamental facts.

Something tells us Mark Penn will now be taken off the Clinton’s Christmas card list.

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Ben Marquis is a writer who identifies as a constitutional conservative/libertarian. He has written about current events and politics for The Western Journal since 2014. His focus is on protecting the First and Second Amendments.
Ben Marquis has written on current events and politics for The Western Journal since 2014. He reads voraciously and writes about the news of the day from a conservative-libertarian perspective. He is an advocate for a more constitutional government and a staunch defender of the Second Amendment, which protects the rest of our natural rights. He lives in Little Rock, Arkansas, with the love of his life as well as four dogs and four cats.
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