Friday, December 7, 2018

What did Donald Trump do today?

He lied about what his ex-fixer's sentencing recommendation said about him.

Today was a busy day in the federal courts, with three separate sentencing recommendations being filed by federal prosecutors investigating the Trump-Russia affair. Two of them dealt with Trump's "fixer" Michael Cohen, and one with Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort.

In what looks like an attempt to get out ahead of the bad news—or just engage in a little emotional self-care—Trump went on the Twitter offensive, spending most of the morning constructing a rambling series of attacks on the Mueller probe. But minutes after the reports were released, Trump tweeted this:

In reality, the federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York (unrelated to the Mueller investigation) argued for a stern sentence for Cohen in part because he committed crimes "in coordination with and at the direction of Individual-1."

Trump is "Individual-1."

While the other two sentencing documents released today—the special counsel's reports on Cohen and Manafort—did not so directly accuse Trump of conspiring to commit crimes, they are damning of Trump all the same. They reveal that Manafort lied to conceal his meetings with Konstantin Kilimnik, a known Russian intelligence agent who was involved in the hacking of the DNC. (The e-mails stolen in that hack were used in a Russian propaganda attack against Hillary Clinton, which the Trump campaign seized on and amplified.)

The sentencing report for Cohen also shows that Russian agents reached out to Trump as early as 2015, offering "political synergy." This is one of a number of previously secret contacts between the Trump campaign and Russian agents during the campaign.

It's not clear if Trump genuinely believes the Mueller investigation is "clearing" him, or is simply hoping that someone else will.

Why is this bad?

  • Because the federal government just accused a sitting president of having committed felonies in order to get elected.
  • Asking citizens to accept an obvious lie rather than what is right in front of them is what authoritarians do.