Our old friend Ken White of Popehat.com has a piece in the New York Times about the Cohen/Manafort one-two punch yesterday. Like me, he sees more significance in the Cohen developments — maybe enough for an impeachments:
This preposterous age of manic news cycles — Mr. Cohen’s admission came on the same day that Paul Manafort, the president’s former campaign chairman, was convicted of eight counts of tax and bank fraud — weekly bombshells and improbable politics has left us deadened to amazing developments. So let me repeat it for emphasis and for history: The president’s personal lawyer pleaded guilty to a federal crime and testified under oath that the president told him to do it.
In the most explosive admissions, Mr. Cohen pleaded guilty to two federal campaign finance violations on behalf of — and, according to Mr. Cohen, testifying under oath, “in coordination with and at the direction of” — President Trump. The charging document describes a scheme to pay off Karen McDougal, the former Playboy model, and the adult film actress Stormy Daniels to buy their silence about their affairs with Mr. Trump. Mr. Cohen admitted to arranging for American Media, Inc. — publisher of The National Enquirer — to pay Ms. McDougal $150,000 to keep her story quiet to protect the Trump campaign, thus causing a prohibited corporate campaign contribution.
Mr. Cohen also admitted to arranging to pay Ms. Daniels $130,000 for her silence. Because the payment was intended to influence the election by protecting Mr. Trump, this constituted an illegal contribution far in excess of the personal contribution limits.
Mr. Trump’s involvement wasn’t a necessary element to Mr. Cohen’s plea, but he supplied it anyway. That implicates the president directly in what might be called “collusion”: a conspiracy to commit a series of federal crimes, albeit not, in this case anyway, with Russians.
. . . .
For now, Mr. Trump’s status as president likely immunizes him from indictment and prosecution. But he’s not immune from impeachment, nor is he immune from being implicated as an unindicted co-conspirator in a raft of other indictments.
There’s plenty of counterspin available, of course. Trump is pushing the spin that Obama’s campaign ended up being fined for campaign finance violations. The difference is that nobody ever testified under oath that Obama ordered them to make the illegal payments. A lot of people are also shrugging this off because, hey, what isn’t against federal law amirite? To me, this just illustrates another corrosive aspect of having an immoral man and possible criminal in the Oval Office; tribalism requires that people abandon respect for morality and even the law itself.
Meanwhile, the capo di tutti capi is giving praise to his loyal caporegime for not bein’ a rat:
I feel very badly for Paul Manafort and his wonderful family. “Justice” took a 12 year old tax case, among other things, applied tremendous pressure on him and, unlike Michael Cohen, he refused to “break” – make up stories in order to get a “deal.” Such respect for a brave man!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 22, 2018
And the rest of us?
Siri can cackling too much make your larynx spasm
— Individual-1Hat (@Popehat) August 22, 2018
Like Ken, I was grinning big all night last night and still am today. I like seeing bad people brought down a peg or two.
You can save your dire pronouncements about a coup or a revolution. Barring a huge public change in attitude, Trump will never be removed from office. Impeached? Yeah, that could happen. But removed? Nah.
But if he got impeached, well, it couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.
[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]