As night follows day, Trump twitted something moronic at ten minutes after one in the morning:
NO COLLUSION – RIGGED WITCH HUNT!
It was too early in the morning to exert the effort to twit in relatively full sentences and there was little need to do so. The message was as simple as it was stupid, and it either worked for those so mindlessly obsessed with supporting him or not. Trump may not grasp much, but he gets this.
A guy admitted to practice law, and deemed loyal enough to be paid to do low-rent ThugLaw despite his astounding lack of legal acumen, spilled his guts about a payoff to a porn actress that turned Trump, for the millionth time, into a liar. Trump already enjoyed the Stalin defense (one death is a tragedy, one million is a statistic), so what was one more lie, one more infidelity, one more brazen disgusting act? As Ken White wrote in a Times op-ed:
For now, Mr. Trump’s status as president probably immunizes him from indictment and prosecution. But he’s not immune from impeachment, nor is he immune from being implicated as an unindicted co-conspirator in a raft of other indictments. Especially if Democrats manage the blue wave of their dreams in the midterms, the once-cocky fixer Michael Cohen, now humbled, could find himself a star witness at hearings on impeachment of our 45th president.
Impeachment isn’t a legal proceeding, but a political proceeding dressed in legal clothing. If the House of Representatives was to impeach Darth Cheeto, he would be tried in the Senate. The star witness would be Cohen, with Stormy Daniels doing a cameo. Michael Avenatti would be sleeping on Rachel’s couch, available for color commentary at a moment’s notice. It would be the most awesome display of dysfunction seen in a generation, probably more.
Brett Stephens argues that while there is no basis to impeach Trump for being a “terrible president and a wretched person,” he’s finally gone over the edge.
Michael Cohen’s guilty plea changes this. The Constitution’s standard for impeachment is “Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” The standard is now met.
Trump’s longtime fixer acknowledged in court on Tuesday that he violated campaign finance laws by paying hush money to two women “in coordination with and at the direction of a candidate for federal office.” That means Trump. That means that, as a candidate, Trump is credibly alleged to have purposefully conspired with Cohen to commit criminal acts. That means the duo did so “for purposes of influencing [an] election for Federal office,” which is the legal definition of a campaign contribution.
There is an argument to be made, and Ari Fleischer made it, that paying off Stormy Daniels isn’t a legitimate campaign expense, but a personal expense. If so, then Trump’s using Fredo to turn over the money wasn’t a campaign finance violation, but just one more instance of a scummy guy engaged in sordid things.
In Trump’s case, there is little doubt about the purpose of the payment to Stormy Daniels: To prevent disclosure of their alleged liaison, less than a month before the election and barely two weeks after the Access Hollywood tape came to light.
It’s a clear enough argument. Then again, Asia Argento wasn’t running for the presidency when she agreed to buy silence for $380,000, so maybe there is a “little doubt,” or at least enough doubt to wiggle out sufficient certainty to bring down a president.
And as Cato’s Clark Neily points out, powerful people paying off their mistakes with the occasional campaign law violation is [p]art of the deal.
But it’s going nowhere, because of Hillary Clinton. Make that every Democrat who’s ever run for federal office. Given how complex and abstruse campaign finance laws are, can any candidates be 100 percent confident they committed zero violations? Or, more to the point, that they cannot be credibly alleged to have committed violations? A question that now hangs like a miasma over Washington—a question no sitting legislator really wants answered—is “Which of my staffers would hang me out to dry in order to avoid going to federal prison?” Do you think the folks at Fusion GPS wouldn’t start singing like an aria of canaries if they got the Michael Cohen treatment from federal investigators taking a serious look at who paid for what opposition research with which funds?
If every pol in D.C. lives in a glass house, Dem or Rep alike, will they really start throwing stones over this one? Are they willing to stake their political careers on beating Trump on the word of Cohen? You may have Darth Cheeto on the brain, but they have their own interests in mind.
That plus the fact that the star witness against Trump is slimy as can be. The cross on Michael Cohen is the stuff trial lawyers’ dreams are made of. He’s the witness you can break, you can make cry, you can make shout.
But as Trump keeps pounding in his late night incoherent twitter rants, this was all about collusion. Despite the poor choice of word by the media in the first place, Trump’s disgusting sex world was tried, and lost, with the Access Hollywood tape. So he bought Stormy’s silence (and she took his money for silence and, not to be unkind, still has it) and didn’t declare it on campaign forms?
That’s it? That’s like raiding Keith Richards’ medicine cabinet and coming back with a half-empty bottle of Nyquil.
On appeal of a criminal conviction, it’s often argued that while each individual error at trial might not be sufficient, the cumulative effect denied the defendant a fair trial. It’s death by a thousand cuts rather than one kill shot. It rarely works.
As despicable as Trump may be, a failed impeachment that merely wounds, but doesn’t kill, the president will only make him stronger. Michael Cohen is shooting
blanks pellets, and his aim sucks as well. Even if he got one lucky shot to strike its target, it would be little more than a flesh wound. By donning his armor of lies, ignorance and disgraceful conduct, Trump is impervious to all but a direct hit. This isn’t it.