Sunday, May 6, 2018

What did Donald Trump do today?

He tried to get out ahead of the next wave of hush-money stories.

Rudy Giuliani had a rough first week as Trump's new lead lawyer and explainer-in-chief, accidentally implicating his client in crimes and making him out to be a liar. But assuming Giuliani now has his "facts straight" (as Trump himself put it, during the subsequent damage control efforts), he made more scandal news this morning. 

Asked on ABC's This Week if Trump's "fixer" Michael Cohen had paid hush money to other women, Giuliani said he had no specific knowledge of such payments, adding, "But I would think if it was necessary, yes."

Unlike his blunders earlier in the week, Giuliani's hint that more sex-scandal shoes might drop was almost certainly intentional and done with Trump's blessing. In both politics and criminal defense, it is often advantageous to be the first to call attention to bad news.

At least two women, porn actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal, are already known to have signed non-disclosure agreements to keep them silent about sexual affairs with Trump during his most recent marriage. (Both have also taken legal action to have those agreements invalidated.) Trump is notorious for using the legal system to keep scandals under wraps, and even forced government employees to sign legally invalid NDAs in an effort to stop internal criticism of his chaotic White House from leaking out.

Why should anyone care about this?

  • It's bad if we can't even estimate how many people a sitting president is paying to keep silent about things that would embarrass him.
  • It is dangerous for the country if the president can be blackmailed.