Yesterday was a watershed day for the Mueller investigation. Two separate filings, one for Paul Manafort and one for Michael Cohen, provided deeply damaging insights into the illegal activities of the Trump campaign. Most significantly, the Cohen case now directly implicates Trump in two campaign finance felonies (and campaign finance violations are not the CORE of the Mueller investigation, they are merely a sideshow). This morning’s New York Times top story:
The filing by the Southern District of New York against Cohen described Cohen’s actions in this way:
“While many Americans who desired a particular outcome to the election knocked on doors, toiled at phone banks, or found any number of other legal ways to make their voices heard, Cohen sought to influence the election from the shadows…”
They went on to characterize the importance of Cohen’s crimes:
…these are each serious crimes worthy of meaningful punishment. Taken together, these offenses reveal a man who knowingly sought to undermine core institutions of our democracy. His motivation to do so was not borne from naivete, carelessness, misplaced loyalty, or political ideology. Rather, these were knowing and calculated acts — acts Cohen executed in order to profit personally, build his own power, and enhance his level of influence.
The same can be said of Trump’s motivation for orchestrating this scheme with Cohen. Social media became a blizzard of competing theories and predictions about what comes next, but it’s safe to say that Trump is now in dire legal jeopardy. Lawrence O’Donnell on MSNBC last night asked the most pertinent question:
Will this Congress be the first in our history to allow a criminal president to go unchecked and unimpeached?
David Rothkopf, writer and host of Deep State Radio, summarized the situation last night in a long and compelling Twitter thread that I’ve stitched together here:
So we know this, Russian government representatives reached out to the Trump campaign in 2015 and undertook multiple initiatives and had multiple points and series of contacts with Team Trump for the next couple years. It’s not just the Trump Tower meeting. It’s not just the interactions with Wikileaks. It’s not just the Russian ties to Cambridge Analytica. It’s not just Konstantin Kiliminik, a Russian agent working hand in hand with campaign chair Paul Manafort. It’s not just the ties between Flynn and the Russians. It’s not just the links between the Russians and Eric Prince through the meeting in the Seychelles and beyond that. It’s not just the ties of Wilbur Ross. It’s not just the Trump Organization dealings with Russia. It’s not just Jared Kushner’s dealings with Russia. It’s not just Kushner and Flynn’s dealing with Kislyak during the campaign. It’s not just the candidate Trump asking for Russian help. It’s not just the GRU hacking for which indictments have already taken place. We can go on. But let’s not stop before we discuss the many benefits the Russians delivered to Trump via hacking, the dumping of files, the manipulation of social media and other avenues all to support Trump over Clinton. Nor should we fail to discuss the benefits Trump offered the Russians since he gained power. There was his covering up their hacking and his efforts to slow investigations of it. There was his denying the conclusions of the intelligence community about the Russians. There were the talks between Flynn and the Russians about waiving sanctions. There were the meetings with Trump when he was president when he handed over classified information to the Russians. There were whatever promises or concessions were made in Helsinki. There was a pattern of placating the Russians or failing to enforce sanctions for months and months. In other words, there was plenty of quid and plenty of quo ($50 million penthouse apartments and the promise of big deals or financing benefits aside). But instead, in addition to those dozen avenues, the offers that were explicitly or tacitly accepted, benefits to both sides & the overt betrayal of the U.S. to advance the political or economic interests of Trump and those close to him, we have the president obstructing justice. Actively obstructing. Threatening to fire all those getting closer to the truth. Lying and lying and lying some more and urging staff to lie and witness tampering and so on. This is not a case of possible collusion. This is sweeping, multi-layered, high level conspiracy led by Vladimir Putin and the Russian intelligence community and involving the active cooperation and complicity of a man who was a candidate for president and then president as well as his entire team. This is the biggest scandal in the history of the American presidency and there is not another that is close to it. But that is not all we know. The DoJ believes the president of the United States directed the commission of campaign finance felonies as a candidate. The NYT produced extensive and compelling evidence of serial tax fraud by the Trump family. The state of NY is investigate fraud in their charities. The House will soon begin investigation of Trump money laundering. A case involving his violation of the Constitution’s emoluments clause is under way. In other words, as massive as the Russia scandal is, it might not be the biggest Trump scandal. It might not even be the scandal that brings Trump down. But what we know is that all of these or any of these scandals must bring him down. This criminal has no business being the White House. He has no business walking freely among us. 2019 is going to be the worst year of Donald Trump’s life except for all those that will follow it. These cases will be investigated further and then proven. Some may be prosecuted while he is in office. Some may wait until he leaves office. But someday this is already certain, no senior American public official–not Richard Nixon, not Andrew Johnson–will go down in more disgrace or be more reviled by history than Donald Trump. And that is as it should be.
It’s a safe bet that Trump didn’t get much sleep last night, and it’s also a safe bet that he will be Tweeting up a storm as the walls of justice close in on him. Stay tuned and keep resisting…