A dark day for Trump. The darkest day for the presidency since Watergate.

By Ronald Horvath | Aug 22, 2018

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — There hasn't been a darker moment for a president — or for the presidency — since Richard Nixon resigned on the verge of impeachment in 1974.

On Tuesday, Michael Cohen, the president's longtime fixer and former personal lawyer, pleaded guilty to felony crimes that included illegally paying women hush money to help Donald Trump win the presidency in 2016. Most important, he said he did so at Trump's direction.

In other words, Trump cheated to win the White House, according to one of his closest former associates.

Cohen's admissions were so damaging for the president, both legally and politically, that his lawyer Rudy Giuliani could point only to the lack of an indictment directly against Trump as the good news. "There is no allegation of any wrongdoing against the president in the government's charges against Mr. Cohen," Giuliani said.

Cohen's plea was just one of several punishing blows delivered Tuesday to Trump's narrative that he and his allies came to Washington to "drain the swamp" of corruption. The others: Paul Manafort, the president's onetime campaign chairman, was convicted on eight counts of bank and tax fraud, and Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., an early endorser of Trump for president, was indicted on federal charges that he violated campaign finance law.

"The president is clearly guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors," New York Times columnist Bret Stephens, a conservative, wrote on Twitter after the Cohen plea. "He should resign his office or be impeached and removed from office." Stephens has been a frequent critic of Trump but had not previously called for his removal.


The allegation that the president not only knew about but directed criminal activity takes the country back to the Nixon days, when the central questions were what the president knew and when he knew it about the cover-up of the Watergate break-in. And the comparisons are sure to fill airwaves across the country in the coming days and weeks.

It is possible all of this could have come at a worse time for Trump and his fellow Republicans — it could have happened a week before the midterm elections in November, as the GOP tries to keep control of the House and Senate. But even three months before voters go to the polls is too close for comfort for congressional Republicans.

Regardless of whether Trump is ever charged with anything — and many lawyers argue a president can't be indicted while in office — voters will get to render their verdict on whether Republicans in Congress have done enough to investigate allegations that Trump subverted a free and fair election.

And when they look at the Trump operation, they will see that the president surrounded himself not with "only the best," as he has long claimed, but with several convicted criminals.

In addition to Cohen and Manafort, Trump's national security adviser, Michael Flynn, deputy campaign manager Rick Gates, and campaign adviser George Papadopoulos have all pleaded guilty to felonies. Rep. Chris Collins, R-N.Y., a political ally, has been indicted on charges related to insider trading.

Not everyone in Trump's base is quick to excuse those around him.

"If you do something wrong, there ought to be consequences for it — no matter who you are," said Dan Cooley, a 43-year-old forester from central West Virginia said at a Trump political rally here on Tuesday night, adding that he didn't think the wrongdoing of others reflected poorly on the president himself.

Whatever the case, voters will render the next verdict on Trump and his allies, and they will do so with Tuesday's events fresh in their minds. They will know the president stands accused by his own former fixer of breaking the law to win the White House.

It wasn't just a bad day for Trump, it was a historically awful day for the presidency.


Comments (1)
Posted by: Jeri Holm | Aug 22, 2018 15:45

"Protect America, vote Republican"? We that's sure worked for us hasn't it? A despicable crook in the White House, several of his cronies either charged or guilty of crimes, policies that will harm our environment, healthcare, women's health and ability to choose, education, our good standing within the world community, to name a few. And a spineless GOP unable to stand up to him. I don't know you Catherine but you couldn't be more wrong about just about everything you say in your post. And I say that as a lifelong Democrat so I guess I ought to know:

I fully support and respect the armed services as has every Democratic president and truthfully, any Democrat I know. This rhetoric is total BS often spouted by the GOP who like to think they have a monopoly on being pro military. We support law enforcement too. AND this doesn't mean improvements aren't needed when we see abuses occur. And while I'm on this bent: one can support the military and not the wars/conflicts they fight (am I hearing an echo? I remember saying this during the Vietnam War and ever since!); one can support law enforcement and still hold them accountable for abuses they perpetrate; one can own a gun, be a hunter, like target shooting, etc but still want decent backgroung checks and think it's insane for people on the street to carry assault weapons; one can be a Christian and be Liberal, plenty of people are and from my experience they are kinder and less judgemental; one can hate that abortion has to happen but support a women's right to make choices about her own body; pro-life applies to all life, not just that of the unborn (children ripped from their parent's arms at the border? suffering from the effects of poverty and no healthcare in this very rich country?). I'm not crazy about taxes but here's the thing, I'm happy to pay them to make this country a better place, provide for healthcare for all, decent education including college that doesn't cripple you financially, and yes, to keep this country safe. What I don't like about taxes is that currently they are not fair. The tax cuts helped the wealthy and corporations and hugely added to the debt in this country. Trickle down does not work. We've been there before too. LGBTQIA? YES! GET OVER IT. And lastly how awful but typical to use a tragic murder of a young girl to blame all immigrants when the data shows that immigrants, including illegal ones commit crimes at lower rates that native born Americans. Shame on you. I say Protect America, vote Democrat.

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