State of Play

After the Manafort verdicts and the Cohen plea deal, if you were watching MSM, you could be forgiven for thinking that Trump would be packing his bags and getting ready to resign rather than be impeached. Forgiven but still more than a little wrong.

What has actually happened is that one former associate has been convicted on eight out of 18 counts of assorted financial irregularities a decade ago. No Russia, no Trump. But the Cohen plea deal is much more interesting. Essentially Cohen, as part of the allocution leading to the guilty plea, said that he was directed to make payments which would influence the outcome of the election and that this constituted a campaign finance law violation and therefore the person giving him the direction also violated the law.

Cue the Democrats and the MSM. Trump committed a crime, Trump conspired, Trump is not a legitimate President, Trump’s Supreme Court nominee should not be considered because Trump is only in the White House because he committed a crime…and so on. The theme of the day yesterday and I expect pretty much all this week is that Cohen admitted to criminal behaviour and therefore Trump is a criminal for telling him to commit the crime.

When it comes to Trump the MSM is willing to seize on any reed, no matter how slender, to come up with something, anything, to do him down.

Paying off the floozies, or settling lawsuits or paying out subcontractors is pretty normal course business. But wait, this was not billionaire Trump doing it, it was candidate Trump so that’s different…its a reportable campaign contribution and he didn’t report it. Probably not. Watching relatively sane people discuss the question, a reportable campaign contribution is a payment made to, exclusively, further the campaign. Buying a new suit may enhance a candidate’s appearance and therefore contribute to his campaign, but it is also just a normal course transaction and therefore unlikely to be found to be a reportable campaign contribution. And you can go a long way into those woods if you really start looking at the law going to reportable campaign contributions.

The fact that Michael Cohen, in his allocution, said it was a contribution designed to further the Trump campaign is immaterial, particularly as an allocution is only evidence as against the person making it. Cohen’s – or more precisely, the SDNY Assistant DA’s – characterization of the law is not actually the law and, because this will not be going to trial, is not in any sense a finding of law.

It also contradicts Cohen’s prior versions of his story. Plus, it is the statement of a man who has a prosecutorial gun to his head in the form of a sentencing recommendation on the other charges which are, pretty clearly, actual violations of the law.

From Trump’s perspective, Manafort and Cohen are now off the board. It is possible that one or both of them, faced with decades in prison, will “remember” some form of “collusion with the Russians” but, unless they have really solid evidence, those memories are unlikely to gain much purchase. Manafort is already fading from the headlines simply because nothing he was convicted of has anything to do with Trump. Cohen will have a slightly longer half-life if only because his lawyer is an old-time Clintonista and is more than willing to suggest that Cohen has the real dirt on Trump.

But the excitement of bringing these two rascals to court is going to fade fast. Meanwhile, the Dems are hollering for “Impeachment”. It is not very clear that failing to report a possible campaign contribution quite clears the bar of “high crime and misdemeanour”; but no matter, the Democrats want a chance to impeach the Orange Menace.

For the next two months, Trump will be on the road campaigning for Republican Congressional candidates. He’ll stage rallies, tweet his “full and total endorsement”, brag, goose the economy, invite people to the White House and push his band of deplorables to get out the vote. The Republican vote. The Mueller investigation will grind on but it is increasingly irrelevant simply because it has not managed to come up with any actual links between the Trumpsters and the evil Russians.

However, the Mueller investigation is not the only politically significant investigation in operation. The Congressional investigation into the activities of the FBI and the DOJ with respect to the Hillary emails, the DNC hack, the surveillance of the Trump campaign, the Steele dossier and its use to obtain FISA warrants to spy on the Trump campaign, the improper unmasking of American persons by Obama administration officials, the complicity of MSM in the partisan leaks of the FBI and the general corruption of the FBI/DOJ under Obama is coming to a boil. Unlike the Mueller investigation or the trial of Manafort or the plea of Cohen, Trump holds all the cards in the corruption scandal because he can declassify the documents, texts and emails which document what is almost certain to be the largest, most insidious, scandal ever to hit American politics.

Right now this scandal is missing two things: a convenient, memorable, nickname like “Watergate” and an insider whistleblower who can simplify and connect the dots. I suspect both things will be supplied around the second to third week of September. Real crimes committed by senior government officials all of whom supported, well, Hillary. The Democrats won’t stand a chance.

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3 thoughts on “State of Play

  1. Cytotoxic says:

    I hope you stretched before those mental gymnastics.

    It’s fascinating watching an entire political ecosystem-the North American political right, more or less-in its death throes. Like star going nova, but more desperate insanity at the end.

  2. Fred from BC says:

    Outstanding, Jay. Covers all the bases concisely and factually, and handily shoots down the most common ‘truths’ that the usual suspects are bandying about (again). Almost too good to post on a personal blog…this deserves to be a guest column on a news aggregator somewhere.

    Just wondering, though, if you might have some idea about Cohen’s “the candidate” statement. Curious wording. Any particular legal reason for it, do you think?

  3. Jay Currie says:

    Fred, I suspect it is a “belt and suspenders” bit of lawyering.

    Cyto, not nearly as much fun as watching a) the Obama DOJ/FBI get marched off in cuffs, b) the black hole effect on the Left of Trump winning the mid-terms.

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