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.
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.