Sunday, December 16, 2018

What did Donald Trump do today?

He used mob language to describe the criminal conspiracy he's suspected of being part of.

Trump has spent almost all day so far on Twitter, including one tweet attacking the FBI for executing a search warrant.

Trump is using the word "rat" the way that criminals do, to describe a member of a gang or conspiracy who informs on others. And while it's unheard of for a president to talk like a mob boss in public, Trump isn't wrong: Cohen has openly accused Trump of ordering him to commit felonies in his efforts to keep the American public from finding out about his extramarital affairs with porn stars.

But it is not "unthinkable & unheard of" for the FBI to execute a search warrant on a suspected criminal, even if that criminal is a lawyer. This kind of "breaking into" the offices and homes of criminal suspects happens every day at every level of law enforcement in the United States.

The turn to mob language is part of a new strategy. Trump has been edging closer and closer to admitting that he committed the crimes he's suspected of, while downplaying their seriousness, or his personal responsibility. For example, his surrogates have taken to chiding the special counsel for convicting Trump's associates of "process crimes" (like lying to the FBI or Congress).

Trump's lead lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, has taken a prominent role in this process. Last week, he insisted that Trump's attempts to illegally pay hush money to his mistresses were "not a big crime," in that “nobody got killed, nobody got robbed." This morning, Giuliani said that collusion with Russia is "not a crime" but that regardless any such collusion "was over with before the election."
"Collusion" is not a crime, but conspiring with a foreign power to influence an election is, whether it is "over with" by Election Day or not.

So what?

  • It's bad if the President of the United States is talking and acting like a mob boss.
  • In a democracy, the president is not above the law.