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

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

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

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

” This is the worst hour of Trump's entire presidency- no, build 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 Nation resembles a crime boss struggling to keep his head above water as his henchmen are picked off by law enforcement, 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, prosecutors said here 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 work- is not yet ready to be sentenced. This implies he might still be collaborated 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 observed or have pleaded guilty. The thread that runs through them is Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. The paradox is that, in casting his net wide, the special counsel 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 eventually 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 times he distanced himself from Manafort, saying he had worked for many other Republicans 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 actor Stormy Daniels, who pocketed $130,000, transgressing 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 counseling, tweeted:” If those pays 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 bragged that he said that she wished to” grab them by the pussy” has numbed public opinion.

Trump and his supporters clutched at straws, focusing on the lack of Russia content. The president's first reaction to the day's courtroom dramata was:” This has nothing to do with Russian collusion … It's a witch-hunt and it's a dishonor … 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 … 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 see no' Russian collusion' in any violate 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 proclaimed 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 clay on Hillary Clinton. It is worth remembering that Manafort was also present that day. Cohen could also have potentially damaging 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 builds 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 advise 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 …”

Read more: www.theguardian.com