The conviction of Paul Manafort and Michael Cohens guilty plea leaves a president who vowed to stand for law and order seeming more like a cross between Nixon and Tony Soprano

Donald Trump promised to be a law and order chairwoman who would” hire the best people “. On Tuesday he seemed more like a cross between Richard” I'm not a thief” Nixon and Tony Soprano.

Paul Manafort, Trump's former campaign director, was found guilty of eight counts of scam. Minutes afterwards, in a Hollywood-worthy cutaway, Michael Cohen, Trump's former lawyer and consigliere, pleaded guilty to eight charges of cases of fraud and campaign finance violations.

It was a double whammy to the solar plexus of the president. It was a double win for the credibility of the special advise. The rating was Robert Mueller 2, Donald Trump 0.

” This is the worst hour of Trump's entire presidency- no, stimulate that entire life ,” tweeted Norm Eisen, a former White House” ethics czar “.

But it was also a sobering reminder of how closely the president of the United States resembles a crime boss struggling to keep his head above water as his henchmen are picked off by law enforcement agencies, one by one.

During Manafort's trial, Rick Gates, a former campaign aide and deputy chairman of Trump's inaugural committee, confessed that he stole money both for and from Manafort.

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In another development on Tuesday, attorneys said the former national security consultant Michael Flynn- who pleaded guilty last year to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russian officials and his Turkish lobbying run- is not yet ready to be sentenced. This implies he might still be cooperating with the FBI.

And George Papadopoulos, Trump's campaign adviser, has pleaded guilty to lying to federal agents about his contacts with Kremlin-connected Russians.

Five Trump associates have been discovered or have pleaded guilty. The thread that runs through them is Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. The contradiction is that, in casting his net wide, the special attorney has landed fish that- at first glance- have little to do with the central question of whether Trump colluded with Moscow. It is the Al Capone scenario: a mobster finally prosecuted for tax evasion rather than bloodier crimes.

At the Manafort trial, for example, the president was a peripheral figure, mentioned only tangentially. Many of the charges predated Manafort's involvement in the election campaign and did not relate directly to Russian election meddling. But the guilty verdict raised serious questions about the judgment of the president.

Trump attempted to play it both ways: sometimes he defended Manafort as a good person who was treated more harshly than Capone himself. Other periods he distanced himself from Manafort, saying he had worked for many other Republican and only briefly on his own campaign.

As for Cohen, the headline news is his assertion implicating the president in criminal conduct: that Trump directed him to make payments to the Playboy model Karen McDougal, who received $150,000, and the pornographic film performer Stormy Daniels, who pocketed $130,000, infringing campaign finance laws.

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Donald Trump pauses while speaking during a rally in Charleston, West Virginia, on Tuesday. Photograph: Alex Brandon/ AP

Cohen's lawyer, Lanny Davis, a former White House special counsel, tweeted:” If those payments were a crime for Michael Cohen, then why wouldn't they be a crime for Donald Trump ?”

It is a sign of the times that the personal scandal is something of an afterthought, for a man who boasted that he likes to” grab them by the pussy” has numbed public opinion.

Trump and his supporters clutched at straw, be concentrated on the lack of Russia content. The president's first reaction to the day's courtroom drama was:” This has nothing to do with Russian collusion … It's a witch-hunt and it's a disgrace … This was not the original mission, believe me.

” It has nothing to do with Russian collusion ,” he said, in West Virginia for a campaign rally.” This started as Russian collusion. This has absolutely nothing to do … This is a disgrace. This has nothing to do with what they started out … go looking for Russians involved in our campaign .”

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Manafort verdict is a ‘witch-hunt' and ‘disgrace', says Donald Trump- video

Matt Schlapp, chairman of the American Conservative Union and a Trump cheerleader, tweeted:” So all this legal activity strange I find no' Russian collusion' in any breaking news. Odd .”

But no, Trump is not off the hook. Manafort faces another trial in Washington where his business ties to Russia and Ukraine will be scrutinised more closely. Cohen's plea agreement does not mandate him to cooperate with Mueller but does not preclude it either.

Crucially, Cohen- who once declared he would” take a bullet” for his boss- has told CNN Trump knewin advance about the 2016 Trump Tower meeting between his son, Don Jr, and a Russian lawyer promising grime on Hillary Clinton. It is worth remembering that Manafort was also present that day. Cohen could also have potentially injury information about the Trump Organization.

But perhaps most worryingly for Trump, Tuesday's events are a spectacular vindication of Mueller's methods. Whereas an acquittal would have led Rudy Giuliani, Sean Hannity and others to demand his investigation be wound up, it now has added rocket fuel.

Senator Mark Warner, top Democrat on the Senate intelligence committee, said:” This verdict makes it absolutely clear that the Mueller probe is not a' witch-hunt'- it is a serious investigation that is rooting out corruption and Russian influence on our political system at the highest levels .”

If the special attorney nailed Manafort, Cohen and the others so effectively, what will he do to Trump? Michael Avenatti, Daniels' lawyer, tweeted:” Remember when they were saying, during the 1980 s, that John Gotti was the' The Teflon Don' and was' untouchable ‘. That was always true, right up until the very moment it wasn't …”