Wednesday, August 22, 2018

What did Donald Trump do today?

He walked back several years of lies in order to tell a new one.

Yesterday, Trump's longtime fixer Michael Cohen testified under oath that he had made hush money payments to two of Trump's sexual partners "in coordination with and at the direction of" Trump himself. Since these payments amounted to illegal campaign contributions, Cohen was saying under penalty of perjury that Trump was his criminal co-conspirator.

Today, on a damage-control interview with Fox News, Trump insisted that what Cohen had pleaded guilty to and will now serve jail time for was not actually a crime because the money didn't "come out of the campaign." 

No one has ever said that it did. The crimes happened when Cohen paid out huge amounts of money to influence the campaign, which is the same as making a donation hundreds of thousands of dollars above the legal limit, and then had Trump's business repay him through fake invoices to hide the transaction from mandatory campaign expenditure reports.

But in order to make that case, Trump had to admit that he knew about and authorized the payments, at least "later on." As the Washington Post points out, that contradicts dozens of instances in which Trump or his spokespeople have said he knew nothing and that Cohen acted on his own.

Why should I care about this?

  • It's bad when the President of the United States breaks the law in order to tell a lie so that he could get elected.
  • In a democracy, no one is above the law.