Allegra Kirkland

Allegra Kirkland is a New York-based reporter for Talking Points Memo. She previously worked on The Nation’s web team and as the associate managing editor for AlterNet. Follow her on Twitter @allegrakirkland.

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The attorney for controversial FBI agent Peter Strzok said that his client is not sure if he’ll comply with a House Judiciary Committee subpoena to testify next week, telling CNN on Tuesday evening that lawmakers “don’t want the truth.”

The committee issued the subpoena to Strzok earlier Tuesday, setting a July 10 date for his open hearing.

Strzok’s attorney, Aitan Goelman, told CNN he didn’t “know whether or not” they would attend, criticizing the conduct of GOP lawmakers in the 11-hour closed-door interview Strzok sat for last week.

“We have come to the conclusion, forced to come to the conclusion, that this is not a search for truth, it is a chance for Republican members of the House to preen and posture before their most radical, conspiracy-minded constituents,” Goelman said.

Strzok is a former top counterintelligence official at the FBI who worked on both the Hillary Clinton email and Russian interference investigations. He was removed from the Russia probe and demoted after the bureau discovered dozens of anti-Trump text messages he’d exchanged with former FBI lawyer Lisa Page.

Those messages have made Strzok a target in conservative media and among some Republicans on Capitol Hill, who cite them as proof that the entire Russia probe is a partisan operation targeting President Trump.

Goelman told CNN that Strzok does want to tell his story publicly, but is just not sure he wants to do so “in front of these particular House subcommittees.”

The committee could pursue contempt remedies against Strzok if he ultimately refuses to comply with the subpoena.

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Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) is adamantly denying allegations that he knew—and intentionally overlooked—that the doctor for Ohio State’s wrestling team was sexually abusing students when Jordan served as the team’s assistant coach from 1986 to 1994.

“It’s not true,” Jordan told Politico in a Tuesday night interview. “I never knew about any type of abuse. If I did, I would have done something about it. And look, if there are people who are abused, then that’s terrible and we want justice to happen.”

Three former Ohio State wrestlers went public in a lengthy NBC News exposé, describing rampant physical molestation by Dr. Richard Strauss. The accusers said that Jordan and other university officials knew that Strauss showered with the students and inappropriately touched them during examinations.

Dunyasha Yetts, one of the former wrestlers, told NBC he directly spoke to Jordan about an incident where Strauss pulled his pants down.

Jordan, a co-founder of the House Freedom Caucus who hopes to become speaker or minority leader, told Politico that he’s not worried that the scandal could affect his political future.

“We’ve got the truth on our side,” he said.

Ohio State is investigating the allegations against Strauss, who died in 2015. A law firm conducting that probe told the Washington Post that Jordan did not respond to emails or calls seeking an interview with him. Jordan told Politico his staff had not found records of any such inquiries.

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Peter Strzok, the one-time top FBI official who came under fire for strongly critical text messages he exchanged about President Trump, will finally testify publicly before Congress next week.

The House committees on the Judiciary and Oversight announced Tuesday that Strzok will take questions at a July 10 joint hearing.

The committees are expecting intense media interest in the hearing, where fireworks between the former senior FBI counterintelligence official and Republican lawmakers are all but guaranteed. Strzok became a favorite punching bag of the right last year after the discovery of anti-Trump text messages sent between him and his then-girlfriend, former FBI lawyer Lisa Page.

Both Strzok and Page were involved with both the Hillary Clinton email probe and Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s election interference. Though Page was removed from the Mueller probe as soon as the texts were discovered, some congressional Republicans have taken the messages—one of which included a pledge to “stop” Trump from winning the election—as proof that FBI leadership is hopelessly biased against the President.

The conduct of the two officials was examined at length by the Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz in a report released last month. Horowitz concluded that they displayed clear bias against Trump, but that their personal feelings did not interfere with the work they performed on the two investigations.

Congressional Republicans heaped scorn on that assessment, while Trump said the report completely vindicated his claims that the Russia investigation was a “witch hunt.”

In an 11-hour, closed-door marathon interview to the joint committees last week, Strzok insisted that he did not intend to act on any of the “intimate” comments he made to Page.

As CNN reported, Strzok’s attorney, Aitan Goelman, has since accused Republicans of selectively leaking details of his testimony, and called next week’s public hearing a “trap.”

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Rudy Giuliani was among the speakers at an anti-Iran gathering held in Paris this weekend that was threatened by an alleged bomb plot, the Wall Street Journal reported Monday.

European authorities have arrested four people, including an Iranian diplomat, for allegedly attempting to wreak havoc on the annual gathering backed by Iranian opposition group Mujahedin-e Khalq, or MeK. Per the Journal, law enforcement discovered an ignition device and homemade explosive in a car allegedly belonging to two of the suspects.

This unsettling incident sheds new light on the odd relationship between the Iranian exiles who compose MeK and prominent U.S. conservatives including Giuliani. Though MeK spent years on the U.S. State Department’s list of terrorist organizations, it has received support from and paid lucrative speaking fees to mostly conservative politicians who similarly support the replacement of Iran’s Islamist government.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Democratic New Mexico Bill Richardson headlined Saturday’s event in Paris alongside Giuliani.

As TPM reported, Giuliani gave another speech on behalf of the group in Albania in March of this year.

Trump’s hardline National Security Advisor John Bolton is also a strong supporter of MeK.

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Special counsel Robert Mueller will have to explain his request to defer sentencing former national security advisor-turned-cooperating government witness Michael Flynn at a hearing next week.

U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan on Monday called a July 10 status conference in the case, in Washington, D.C., and asked Flynn to attend in person.

The hearing comes after Mueller and Flynn’s attorneys on Friday filed a joint request to postpone the sentencing, saying “the parties do not believe this matter is ready to be scheduled at this time.” They told Sullivan that he could proceed with a pre-sentencing investigation, but asked him not to set a specific hearing date yet.

The request marked the third time lawyers have asked to defer sentencing in Flynn’s case.

In response to their filing, Sullivan asked the parties to explain why he should diverge from his typical sentencing routine. Specifically, he asked why “the Court should expand the Probation Office’s resources and depart from the Court’s usual practice of ordering a presentence report, scheduling a sentencing date, and establishing a sentencing briefing schedule at the same time.”

In their response, filed Monday, Mueller and Flynn’s lawyers said they were simply trying to handle the process expeditiously but would accept whatever process the court preferred. This explanation was insufficient for Sullivan, who called on them to appear in his courtroom.

The repeated sentencing deferrals suggests that Flynn is still providing information valuable to Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 elections.

Sentencing is moving forward for two other cooperating witnesses in the Russia probe. Former campaign aide George Papadopoulos is set to be sentenced on Sept. 7, and Richard Pinedo, a California man charged with identity fraud, will be sentenced this fall.

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Among the many juicy details in Michael Cohen’s blockbuster weekend interview with ABC News was one key piece of information: Cohen is ending his joint defense agreement with President Trump.

As legal experts noted, former national security adviser Michael Flynn took the same step shortly before he flipped and agreed to cooperate with the federal investigation into Russia’s election interference.

But unlike Flynn, Cohen went on cable news to publicly telegraph his break with Trump, raising the question of what statement he is trying to make.

The consensus seems to be that Cohen is in fact planning to cooperate with the New York prosecutors investigating his business dealings, or that he is angling for a presidential pardon by signaling to his former boss that his allegiance is conditional.

“He’s certainly trying to give the impression that he will flip,” former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti told TPM.

Cohen’s shift in tone and behavior is palpable. After federal agents first raided Cohen’s premises in early April and seized documents, hard drives, and electronic devices, Trump reportedly called Cohen to “check in” and Cohen insisted he’d remain faithful to Trump.

But when the President began to distance himself from his longtime personal attorney, reports circulated that Cohen felt abandoned and photos circulated of him palling around with Trump foes like actor Tom Arnold.

Cohen made his loyalties explicit in his ABC interview, saying his foremost obligations were to his family and “country,” and that he would “not be a punching bag as part of anyone’s defense strategy.”

For the first time, Cohen also hinted that he had information on Trump’s involvement in two key issues of interest to federal prosecutors. One is the Trump Tower meeting between 2016 campaign officials and Russians promising “dirt” on Hillary Clinton, which is a subject of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe. The other is the $130,000 Cohen paid to Stormy Daniels in October 2016 to keep her from talking about her alleged affair with Trump, one of the topics key to the New York criminal investigation into Cohen.

Asked whether Trump had prior knowledge of both events, Cohen demurred, saying that he couldn’t comment on advice of his counsel.

Cohen recently dramatically shook up his legal team, parting ways with his attorneys at McDermott, Will and Emery and bringing on Guy Petrillo, a former prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York. Notably, former Trump campaign aide Rick Gates brought a prominent white-collar attorney onto his defense team before agreeing to cooperate with Mueller’s investigation.

As the ABC report noted, Cohen’s team at McDermott was in a joint defense agreement with Trump’s legal team, led by Joanna Hendon of Spears Imes, allowing them to share information and documents with each other. Cohen, Trump and the Trump Organization had split the hefty costs of having an independent third-party, known as a special master, conduct a review of the documents the FBI seized from Cohen to filter out those covered by attorney-client privilege.

Joint defense agreements typically allow co-defendants whose legal interests align to work closely together and ensures that a form of attorney-client privilege known as “common interest doctrine” covers all of their interactions. Ending such an agreement is a notable step, suggesting that Petrillo may want to move forward with a new strategy.

Hendon, Petrillo and Cohen’s team at McDermott did not respond to TPM’s Monday requests for comment.

Mariotti, the former federal prosecutor, said that a defense lawyer “wouldn’t end an agreement like that unless they had a good reason.”

“If their interests are not aligned, the exchange of information between them is not protected by common interest doctrine and thus they’re going to waive privilege every time they talk to teach other,” Mariotti said. “So the right thing to do as a lawyer in a defense team is to be very upfront about the potential desire to flip, because otherwise you’re really harming the other defense team and you can create a lot of problems.”

Still, Mariotti and other legal observers were suspicious that such a close ally of the President would now so publicly hint that he might turn on him. Mariotti suggested that Cohen could be “angling for a pardon from Trump,” and former Justice Department spokesperson Matt Miller called the TV interview “a not-so-subtle request for a pardon.”

Trump has made it clear that he takes a liberal view towards executive clemency, granting pardons to high-profile individuals like former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio and former White House adviser Scooter Libby.

Asked in late April if he would pardon Cohen, Trump angrily brushed off the “stupid question.”

Asked again in mid-June, he said, “It’s certainly far too early to be thinking about that. They haven’t been convicted of anything. There’s nothing to pardon.”

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Attorney General Rod Rosenstein believed the White House used him to help justify President Trump’s firing of FBI director James Comey last May, the New York Times reported Friday.

“Shaken,” “unsteady,” “overwhelmed,” “frantic” and “upset” were among the adjectives Rosenstein acquaintances offered to the newspaper to describe his mood in the days after Comey’s abrupt dismissal.

Both Rosenstein and Attorney General Jeff Sessions wrote memos rationalizing Comey’s firing, citing his unprecedented public discussion of the FBI’s election-year investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server. Rosenstein defended the memo to Congress last year, saying, “I stand by it.”

The deputy attorney general is in an uncomfortable position. He bore witness to that firing and then appointed Robert Mueller as special counsel in the federal Russia investigation, which is now probing whether Comey’s firing constituted obstruction of justice. Some lawmakers have called for Rosenstein to recuse himself from overseeing Mueller’s investigation because of that conflict.

The Times also reported that Rosenstein did not consult with Sessions before deciding to appoint Mueller, a move that blindsided the attorney general and infuriated the President. Sources told the paper he made that step privately because he feared being fired by Trump.

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Unfortunately for President Trump, major new steps in the special counsel’s Russia investigation are slated to take place ahead of November’s midterm elections. In addition to his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s two criminal trials in Virginia and D.C., Mueller has now set a Sept. 7 sentencing date for former campaign adviser George Papadopoulos. He has also subpoenaed Andrew Miller, an aide to Roger Stone who helped arrange interviews for Stone during the campaign.

Mueller is reportedly “accelerating” the collusion and obstruction of justice portions of his probe in order to issue reports on those topics by the fall.

On the Manafort front, we learned that Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska helped fund Manafort’s years-long lobbying work for Ukraine’s Party of Regions. Manafort also received a previously undisclosed $10 million loan from Deripaska, who he offered “private briefings” to while leading the Trump campaign.

Virginia Judge T.S. Ellis declined to dismiss the charges Mueller brought against Manafort in his district, but his ruling was full of swipes at the special counsel and prospect of “partisan prosecutions.” At a Friday hearing in Ellis’ courtroom, an FBI agent revealed that the bureau first learned from Associated Press reporters that Manafort was keeping information relevant to their probe at a storage unit.

Manafort also filed motions to appeal two rulings in D.C. revoking his pretrial release and throwing out his civil suit challenging Mueller’s authority to bring charges against him.

Concord Management, the Russian firm that allegedly funneled money to Russia’s bogus social media messaging campaign during the election, made a similar argument about Mueller’s mandate in court filings this week. In their own filings, Mueller’s team cautioned that Concord’s head Yevgeny Prigozhin, known as “Putin’s chef” could get access — via the discovery process in the criminal case against his firm — to sensitive materials.

Mueller’s team is seeking additional information from Blackwater founder Erik Prince, who has turned over his computer and phones. They’re also honing in on the access granted to several Russian oligarchs, including Putin ally Viktor Vekselberg, at Trump’s 2017 inauguration events.

A New York judge has extended until July 5 the final deadline for the Trump Organization to complete its privilege review of documents seized from Michael Cohen. Prosecutors working the Cohen case canceled a scheduled interview with Stormy Daniels after news of the sit-down leaked to the media.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein was grilled by GOP lawmakers on the House Judiciary Committee about his supposed reluctance to turn over documents; he adamantly denied threatening committee staffers who pressed him to do so. Rosenstein suggested that the furious Republican lawmakers may not have the best understanding of the law, and that he’d done nothing to be held in contempt of Congress.

Disgraced FBI official Peter Strzok was also interviewed about anti-Trump texts he exchanged in an 11-hour closed-door congressional testimony. Congress is expected to continue interviewing Strzok and his texting companion, Lisa Page, in July.

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The Donald Trump White House may be unique for just how quickly it became mired in legal troubles, but Trump is hardly the first president in the modern era to be dogged by civil, criminal and congressional investigations, some of which stretched between multiple terms in office.

Here’s a look at some infamous examples from prior administrations.

Bill Clinton

Clinton was plagued by scandals for the bulk of his eight years in office, with the civil and criminal probes into his conduct ultimately intertwining.

A 1994 sexual harassment suit that Paula Jones filed against Clinton went all the way to the Supreme Court, which ruled in a landmark 1997 decision that a sitting president could be sued for acts done before taking office.

Meanwhile, Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr was appointed in 1994 to probe the Clintons’ failed investment in the Arkansas-based Whitewater real-estate development company. Starr’s investigation exploded in scope, touching on matters as varied as the suicide of deputy White House counsel Vince Foster, the firing of White House Travel Office personnel, the Jones lawsuit, and, ultimately, Clinton’s affair with white House intern Monica Lewinsky.

Robert Ray, who succeeded Starr as independent counsel, concluded that the President lied under oath on three counts in the Jones civil case and before a federal grand jury. Ray declined criminal prosecution, instead opting for “alternative sanctions.” Clinton was impeached by the House but acquitted by the Senate in 1999.

As Politico notes, 1,857 days passed between Starr’s appointment and Clinton’s acquittal.

Ronald Reagan

Though Reagan’s role in the Iran-Contra scandal was murkier, the affair clouded the second term of the Republican president and ended with the indictments of 14 administration officials, including the Secretary of Defense.

Beginning in June 1985, senior administration officials began bypassing an arms embargo to Iran, secretly facilitating the sale of weapons to the country. Their convoluted scheme was intended to negotiate the release of U.S. citizens held hostage in Iran while funding the anti-communist Contras in Nicaragua, despite Congress’ ban on providing such funding.

The chaotic scandal dragged out in the press through November 1986, when Reagan appointed the Tower Commission to investigate the matter. Congress launched its own probe in January 1987. Both investigations ultimately produced reports faulting Reagan for not being aware of the improper actions of his subordinates, but not holding him personally responsible.

An independent counsel probe led by Lawrence Walsh led to the convictions of several high-level officials for crimes such as perjury, false statements, withholding evidence, and obstruction of justice.

Richard Nixon

Beginning with the burglary and bugging at DNC headquarters in June 1972, the Watergate scandal blossomed into a sprawling, years-long investigation that exposed the clandestine dirty tricks operation that Nixon was orchestrating from Pennsylvania Avenue.

An FBI probe into the funding of the Watergate Hotel break-in had, by that October, determined that the incident was just one example of the campaign of political spying coordinated between Nixon White House officials and the Committee for the Re-election of the President. Nixon was still elected to a second term the next month, and a vigorous cover-up effort ensued.

In February, 1973, the Senate established a select committee to investigate Watergate, and televised hearings with White House aides led to the admission that a tape system that had been recording all Oval Office conversations. Archibald Cox, appointed in April as special counsel for the Watergate probe, subpoenaed the tapes but Nixon refused to give them up. In a rapid-fire series of events on Oct. 20 known as the Saturday Night Massacre, Nixon ordered his attorney general to fire Cox; the AG refused and resigned; the deputy AG then refused and resigned; solicitor general Robert Bork finally agreed to dismiss Cox. (Another special prosecutor was ultimately appointed.)

A D.C. grand jury indicted seven ex-Nixon aides in March 1974. The Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the tapes be released over Nixon’s claims of executive privilege. They proved definitively that Nixon had personally orchestrated the cover-up, and, facing almost-certain impeachment and conviction by Congress, he became the first president to resign from office on August 4.

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An unusual scheduling request was made at a court appearance this week involving the New York attorney general’s lawsuit against the Donald J. Trump Foundation. Foundation lawyer Alan Futerfas asked that a hearing related to the complaint, which accuses Trump of using the charity’s funds as a personal piggy bank, be postponed until “after Nov. 6.”

That date, perhaps not coincidentally, is the day of the midterm elections.

Acknowledging that “people are busy,” Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Saliann Scarpulla denied the request, saying she had cleared her calendar to handle the Trump Foundation case. Scarpulla set the next conference in the case for Oct. 11, ensuring fresh headlines about the alleged violation of state and federal law by the President and his three eldest children in the weeks before voters go to the polls.

This is only one of several serious legal matters hanging over Trump. There are also defamation suits from two women whom the President denied having sexual contact with: former “Apprentice” star Summer Zervos, who says Trump groped her without consent, and former adult film star Stormy Daniels, who claims they carried on a months-long affair. Trump’s longtime personal attorney Michael Cohen is under federal criminal investigation for his business dealings. Then there’s the biggie: special counsel Robert Mueller’s sprawling investigation into whether Trump’s 2016 campaign colluded with Russia to win the White House.

Legal experts tell TPM there’s no practical reason for any of those matters to be resolved before the midterms.

“It would be an extreme reach to suggest that an otherwise proper legal case, civil or criminal, should be delayed simply because a political party associated with one of the named parties has an election coming up,” Pat Cotter, a former federal prosecutor and white-collar defense attorney, said.

[ The Mueller probe’s echoes in history (Prime access) » ]

Major developments in the Mueller probe are expected over the next few months. Criminal trials for Trump’s 2016 campaign chairman Paul Manafort will begin in Virginia in July and in Washington, D.C. in September. Former campaign aide George Papadopoulos will be sentenced for lying to the FBI about his Russia contacts that same month.

A source familiar with the probe told Bloomberg this week that Mueller is also “accelerating” his probe into collusion and obstruction of justice in the hopes of issuing reports on those topics by the fall.

Longstanding Justice Department policy prohibits investigative steps that might influence an upcoming election, as Mueller is well aware. But Trump himself is not up for reelection this year, making the application of that rule murkier in this case. In the civil matters, judges are unlikely to give much credence to arguments that the President will be too busy campaigning for GOP candidates to sit for depositions or produce documents.

“As far as I can tell, [the Mueller probe] is not an investigation of all Republicans or even the Republican Party,” Cotter continued. “It’s an investigation of the president and people around him. Whatever Mr. Mueller wants to do, even under the old DOJ policy, shouldn’t be impacted one way or another.”

Trump has made the opposite case.

“The 13 Angry Democrats (plus people who worked 8 years for Obama) working on the rigged Russia Witch Hunt, will be MEDDLING with the mid-term elections, especially now that Republicans (stay tough!) are taking the lead in the Polls,” Trump tweeted in late May. “There was no Collusion, except by the Democrats!

Trump’s attorney in the Russia probe, Rudy Giuliani, also suggested Mueller would be “clearly doing a Comey” and disrupting the midterm race if he fails to complete and file all reports on his investigation by “Sept. 1 or mid-September.” (A source familiar with the probe called Giuliani’s deadline “entirely made-up.”)

Former FBI Director James Comey radically departed from DOJ precedent during the 2016 race by publicly commenting, in both July and October, on developments in the probe into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server. But experts emphasized that while both Clinton and Trump were under federal investigation in that election year, the sprawling Russia probe has little to do with congressional campaigns.

“I don’t think there’s anyone that has legitimate authority—nor would want to exercise such claimed authority—to defer the issuance of the report or affect the issuance of the report for purposes of politics,” Douglas Kmiec, a former senior DOJ lawyer during the Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations, told TPM.

Cotter said Giuliani’s comments reminded him of remarks he used to hear while working mob prosecution cases in New York City.

“Periodically one of their mouthpieces would go on TV or in the newspapers, and they’d have all sorts of helpful suggestions on how to conduct our investigation,” he said. “The phrase ‘witch hunt’ came up more than once. I can honestly say that I don’t believe that any—any—prosecutor ever spent a second worrying about what those people were saying or their helpful suggestions or their self-created deadlines.”

But the intense criticism Comey and the FBI for influencing the 2016 race is still raw. With that in mind, former FBI counterintelligence agent Asha Rangappa told TPM, he’s unlikely to broadcast major investigative steps in the immediate lead-up to the midterms.

“It kind of highlights the predicament that the Department of Justice is in,” Rangappa added, noting that Mueller would face criticism for taking major public action either before Nov. 6 or in the weeks after.

“It’s one of those things where I think it has the potential to look political one way or another,” she said. “Given the choice, he’d probably prefer to do it after the election rather than before, if it [involves anyone] close to the President. I think you could still see indictments of people who are a little bit more removed.”

Despite the gravity of the issues Mueller is investigating, legal experts say Trump faces more immediate exposure in the civil cases, where he may be deposed under oath.

The precedent allowing these cases to proceed is Clinton v. Jones, the landmark Supreme Court ruling determining that a current president has no immunity from civil cases related to acts done before taking office.

In the New York suit, Trump is accused of “persistent illegal conduct” for using his charity to support his presidential campaign and using the foundation’s funds as a personal “checkbook.” Though Judge Scarpulla reportedly urged a lawyer for the Trump’s three eldest children, who are also defendants in the suit, to settle out of court at this week’s proceeding, the President has insisted via tweet that he “won’t settle this case!”

At the Oct. 11 status conference, Scarpulla will announce whether she’ll decide the case based on the filings submitted by each party, or order a hearing—which could be held as early as mid- to late October.

Trump may also be called to testify in the ongoing Zervos or Daniels defamation suits about his relationships with the two women—a potentially embarrassing and perilous situation for a sitting president. Lying under oath about his sexual conduct was one of the articles of impeachment against Bill Clinton.

Looking to November, Trump and his legal woes are not on the ballot. But new details in all of these cases will be spilling out in the coming months, providing fodder for Democrats eager to paint the entire GOP as hopelessly in thrall to a corrupt leader with no regard for the rule of law.

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