A Tough Day in Court

Aug. 22, 2018




A Tough Day in Court

On Tuesday, President Trump's former attorney Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to eight criminal counts, including tax fraud, false statements to a bank, and campaign finance violations . The President's former campaign manager Paul Manafort was also found guilty on eight counts of financial crimes.

What the left is saying

As the saying goes, “You are the company you keep.” We already knew that President Trump was a dishonest sleaze; now, with Michael Cohen’s guilty plea and Paul Manafort’s conviction, we know for certain: they are, too. Much good could come from their evil deeds, however. As Jennifer Rubin writes in the Washington Post, “Cohen's plea is a crushing blow because he is the first cooperating witness that could implicate Trump directly in all three matters — the women and campaign money, Trump's business dealings, and the Trump campaign's Russia connections.” President Trump must be extremely apprehensive of what Cohen may reveal because, unlike Paul Manafort, who only served on his campaign for a short time, he is a long-time confidante and member of the inner circle. The pair’s legal troubles also bolster the Mueller investigation. The Los Angeles Times’s Editorial Board writes that, “Manafort’s conviction is a setback for Trump’s unceasing effort to discredit the special counsel. Had Manafort been acquitted, the president likely would have pointed to the outcome as proof of Mueller’s incompetence. He might even have been emboldened to move beyond his denunciations of the special counsel’s investigation to act to shut it down.” Luckily, that now seems increasingly unlikely. The Mueller investigation will go on. We cannot wait to see what it will uncover next.

What the right is saying

President Trump has often characterized the Mueller investigation as a “witch hunt” — and he is right. While it would be hard to argue that the legal woes of Michael Cohen and Paul Manafort will not have some negative effect on the President, they are completely unrelated to the Russia investigation. In Powerline, John Hinderaker writes that, “The Manafort charges had nothing to do with Donald Trump, nothing to do with the 2016 election, and nothing to do with Russian participation in the 2016 election. So Bob Mueller could only have brought the case in order to put pressure on Manafort to come up with some ‘dirt’ on Mueller’s target, President Trump… None of this would be happening, of course, but for Bob Mueller’s effort to drive President Trump from office on behalf of his de facto client, the Democratic Party.” Of course, Mueller’s gambit could work — if there was dirt. This looks increasingly unlikely, however, as Mueller has failed to uncover any compelling evidence of collusion with Russia after over 15 months of investigating. It is also unclear how large of an effect Cohen and Manafort will have on the President. The Wall Street Journal Editorial Board writes that, “The Cohen and Manafort convictions raise the stakes for Mr. Trump and his Presidency, but voters may want to see more than evidence about payments to a porn star to overturn the results of a presidential election.” The Mueller investigation looks more political everyday; in order to maintain its legitimacy, it must end before it exerts undue influence on the midterm elections.