Tuesday, August 21, 2018

What did Donald Trump do today?

He became an unindicted co-conspirator.

Trump's campaign manager Paul Manafort, one of the many links between the Trump campaign and the Putin regime, was convicted on eight felony counts of tax fraud and bank fraud. But that wasn't the worst news for Trump out of the courts today. At almost exactly the same time, his "fixer" and former attorney Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to eight felonies of his own: tax fraud, making false statements to a bank, and--most significantly for Trump--violation of campaign finance laws.

Specifically, Cohen broke the law by paying hush money to women Trump had had sexual affairs with in order to keep their stories out of the news during the closing months of the election season. 


Cohen also admitted that he was then repaid by Trump's private business after he filed fake invoices for legal service, on the orders of Trump Organization executives.

Cohen testified that he did this at Trump's direction. This would make Trump a member of a criminal conspiracy, although an unindicted one, which is the legal status President Nixon was in when he was forced from office.

The charges were not brought by the special counsel, but by regular Justice Department prosecutors. Cohen's plea arrangement reportedly does not involve him assisting the Mueller probe.

En route to a campaign rally in West Virginia, Trump told reporters about his sympathies for Paul Manafort, whose crimes were brought to light by the Russia probe but don't directly implicate Trump in a crime. But he walked away without answering when reporters asked about Cohen.

Why should I care about this?

  • It's bad if federal prosecutors believe that the president has committed felonies.
  • It's possible that some people who voted for Trump might not have done so if they'd known he'd had at least two extramarital affairs, paid the women involved for their silence, and knowingly broke federal laws in the process of keeping that secret.