The criminal-in-chief

Short version: Donald Trump is a criminal who has surrounded himself by criminals.  Seriously, that’s pretty much impossible to honestly dispute.  Longer version, David Graham:

Yet what Cohen did say is plenty damaging to the president. While the bank- and tax-fraud charges do not involve the president, the campaign-finance charges indisputably do. Cohen made the payments—$130,000 to Daniels and $150,000 to McDougal—through shell companies. He said Tuesday that the payments were intended to influence the election, making them a violation of campaign-finance laws, and that he had done so at the direction of the candidate.

That exposes several lies that the president made about the hush money. The White House initially denied that Trump had any knowledge of the payments. “You’ll have to ask Michael Cohen,” the president said in April. Later, Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani said Trump had repaid Cohen as part of a retainer. In May, Trump disclosed the reimbursements on an ethics form. In July, Cohen released a recording in which he is heard discussing the payments with Trump during the campaign…

The harsh treatment for Cohen points to the bleak big picture for Trump. Hisformer trusted lieutenant is headed to prison. At the same time that Cohen was in court in Manhattan, a jury in Alexandria, Virginia, delivered guilty verdicts on several of the 18 criminal counts against Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort. (Jurors deadlocked on others.) One of the witnesses in that trial was Trump’s former deputy campaign manager, Rick Gates, who also pleaded guilty to federal crimes. Trump’s first national-security adviser, Michael Flynn, and a campaign aide, George Papadopoulos, have both pleaded guilty to lying to federal agents. It has become banal to point out that almost any of these would have constituted a monumental scandal under any other president, but it remains true and important.

Nor are these troubles likely to dissipate any time soon. No matter how many times Giuliani calls for it, there’s little indication that Mueller will wrap up his investigation by September 1. The Senate Intelligence Committee continues its work as well. The Cohen plea could have been much worse for Trump, but there’s little relief for the president in sight.

And Adam Davidson:

he President of the United States is now, formally, implicated in a criminal conspiracy to mislead the American public in order to influence an election. Were he not President, Donald Trump himself would almost certainly be facing charges. This news came in what must be considered the most damaging single hour of a deeply troubled Presidency.

On Tuesday morning, it was still possible to believe that Trump’s former campaign chair Paul Manafort might be exonerated and that his longtime attorney Michael Cohen would only face charges for crimes stemming from his taxicab business. Such events would have supported Trump’s effort to portray the Mueller investigation as a “witch hunt” perpetrated by overzealous, partisan prosecutors. By late afternoon, though, Cohen, the President’s long-time adviser, fixer, and, until recently, personal attorney, told a judge that Trump explicitly instructed him to break campaign-finance laws by paying two women not to publicly disclose the affairs they had with Trump. At precisely the same moment, Manafort was learning of his fate: guilty on eight counts of bank and tax fraud, with the jury undecided on ten other counts.

The question can no longer be whether the President and those closest to him broke the law. That is settled. Three of the people closest to Trump as he ran for and won the Presidency have now pleaded guilty or have been convicted of significant federal crimes: Michael Cohen, Paul Manafort, and Michael Flynn. The question now becomes far narrower and, for Trump, more troubling: What is the political impact of a President’s criminal liability being established in a federal court? How will Congress respond? And if Congress does not act, how will voters respond in the midterm elections? …

We will know far more about Trump, his business, and his campaign in the months to come. The country will be moving down two tracks simultaneously. There is one track of investigation and prosecution in which more of the people close to Trump fall or coöperate and the man himself appears increasingly vulnerable and desperate.

There is the other track, though, in which he remains President. He will likely successfully transform the Supreme Court and imperil the environment, immigrants, consumers of financial products, and others. Those who carefully study Trump and those around him know where this story likely ends—in humiliation and collapse—but we can’t underestimate his embrace of mendacity and deflection. Shortly after the fateful hour, Trump flew to West Virginia for a rally with some of his strongest supporters. The crowd, referring to Hillary Clinton, chanted, “Lock her up.”

I am glad that Mueller is out there doing his thing and that even if Trump himself is, so far, avoiding accountability, the net is tightening around him.  That said, how said that our nation has elected a so obvious crook.  This is literally not the least bit surprising to anyone paying attention at all in 2016 and not totally blinded by partisanship.  But, it still is sad.

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State

6 Responses to The criminal-in-chief

  1. jonolan says:

    It’s not going to matter. Your sort will never again be allowed to win. You won’t even be allowed to keep the spoils of your sort’s previous victories.

    Americans are going to make America great for Americans again and there are no longer any actions that are “off the table.” Hence, your sort can’t win because patriots are ready and willing for what’s coming and so many of your sort are such soft targets.

  2. Nicole K. says:

    Is it me or is your blog starting to get trolled on a more regular basis? Maybe it correlates to the start of the academic year. It also could be you’ve been calling the president out quite a bit lately and it’s hitting alt-right web searches.

    • Steve Greene says:

      Yeah, maybe. Seems to come and go in phases. I always enjoyed the haters who would stick with me for a long time (favorite all-time being the “marriage coach” from whom I would certainly never take relationship advice).

      • Nicole K. says:

        Yeah, I don’t mind people who disagree or think differently. I obviously used to be one of those people, and I’m always going to be more of a radical centrist that prefers markets when they work and government regulations and intervention when it’s demonstrably necessary to fix market failure.

        I just am troubled by how much many conservatives have abandoned things like facts and instead cling to slogans and ideology as a replacement. I’m never going to make being on a particular party’s side essential to my social identity again. Instead I’ll support ideas and policy that make sense and informed by facts and evidence.

        It’s also much more fun and interesting to disagree with someone that makes arguments that are worth responding to and based more than just a belief that team conservative=my team and good and liberal/progressive=their team and a threat to everything that makes America great.

  3. R. Jenrette says:

    IMO, independents just don’t want to be asked for donations. By being Independents, they save money and feel above the fray.
    They couldn’t stand the heat and got out of the kitchen.

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