Trump Is a Crook , David Frum, The Atlantic

By Ronald Horvath | Aug 22, 2018

So now it’s confirmed, as a matter of legal record, that President Donald Trump organized a scheme to violate federal election laws. He directed his longtime personal attorney to pay at least one woman for silence. That attorney got the money by lying to a bank to get a home-equity line of credit.

These two cases complete the beginnings of the story. They are not the story in full. The Michael Cohen and Paul Manafort cases are like the first rocky outcroppings a ship passes as it makes landfall. They are examples of the kind of people willing to work for Trump—and the way that those people carried on their business. They indicate why one of Trump’s sons would write “I love it” when offered stolen information about the Hillary Clinton campaign by a purported representative of the Russian government, how so much doubtful money flowed into the Trump Organization after 2006, and why Trump dares not publish his tax returns.

House Speaker Paul Ryan’s office replied to a query from The Washington Post about the Cohen case: “We are aware of Mr. Cohen’s guilty plea to these serious charges. We will need more information than is currently available at this point.” Of course, a major priority of Ryan’s speakership has been to protect himself and his party against unearthing “more information” about Trump’s campaign, Trump’s businesses, and Trump’s finances. But despite his incuriosity, more information will almost certainly head his way, unless …

Unless President Trump somehow finds a way to shut it down.

It gets harder and harder to condemn an investigation as a witch hunt as it holds your closest associates accountable for major crimes. Who imagines that the Cohen plea and Manafort conviction represent the end of the trail? Pardons can protect the president’s associates from prison. But they can’t protect the president issuing the pardon—if anything, they would worsen his exposure and enhance the impression of guilt.

The Mueller investigation is just getting started.

Trump has apparently calculated that the cost of closing down Robert Mueller’s inquiry is greater than the cost of enduring it. That always looked a gamble against the odds. Now it looks a proven bad bet, and a bet that will only worsen over time.

Can Trump’s own affairs survive the scrutiny applied to Cohen’s and Manafort’s? Can his company’s? Can his family’s?

Before Trump entered politics, nobody ever bothered to look very hard into Trump’s affairs. Now they are looking. Trump imagined that holding the usual powers of the presidency would safeguard him. He has learned his mistake. In November 2017, he complained to a friendly radio interviewer:

The saddest thing is that because I’m the president of the United States, I am not supposed to be involved with the Justice Department. I am not supposed to be involved with the FBI.

Not supposed to be—but what if he concludes he has to be? As Trump comprehends his danger, will he really meekly submit?

Trump’s whole philosophy of life is of a kill-or-be-killed competition. It’s an old question: The country can have the rule of law, or it can keep the Trump presidency. Facing that choice, who doubts what Trump’s answer, or the answer of his supporters, will be?

David Frum is a senior editor at The Atlantic. In 2001–02, he was a speechwriter for President George W. Bush.

Comments (2)
Posted by: Ronald Horvath | Aug 24, 2018 14:39

"In the course of Michael Cohen’s guilty plea this week, a lawyer close to the president has admitted his part in a high-level cover-up, including the use of hush money, designed to influence the 2016 election. And he accused President Trump of directing this violation.

This is different from our daily dose of the president’s outrageous tweets and attacks. It is an inflection point in the Trump presidency. He has been credibly accused, not of violating civic norms, but of personal involvement in criminal law-breaking. If Trump were not the president, he might well be indicted, convicted and face jail time.

His violation of civic norms, by the way, is not a minor matter. The payment to Stormy Daniels was made 12 days before the election. This timing indicates not the prevention of personal mortification, but an attempt to deny voters relevant information. As a result, the 2016 presidential election will always have an asterisk — “outcome may have been influenced by Russian hacking and campaign fraud.”

There is, again, a cancer on the presidency

The House of Representatives is likely to return to Democratic control, allowing Congress to get past the GOP’s coordinated cowardice and begin real investigations of the administration’s corruption.

Every time we gain a peek into the inner workings of Trump world, we see a leader with the ethics of an Atlantic City casino owner who surrounds himself with people chosen for their willingness to lie and cheat at his bidding. A world in which Paul Manafort is “a very good person.” A world in which payoffs and election tampering are all in a day’s work.

Left to his investigation, Mueller will expose this world to the light. And the choice for Congress is likely to be clear: Impeach, or tolerate massive corruption."


-By Michael Gerson

Posted by: Ronald Horvath | Aug 23, 2018 06:59

"In short, there is growing evidence that the president is, to use the word favored by Richard Nixon, “a crook.” Even buying the silence of his reputed playmates could by itself have been enough to swing an exceedingly close election decided by fewer than 80,000 votes in three states. Trump certainly would not have authorized the payments unless he thought it was politically imperative to do so. There is also considerable evidence, as I previously argued, that Russia’s intervention on Trump’s behalf affected the outcome. Even more than Nixon, Trump is now an illegitimate president whose election is tainted by fraud.

The inevitable question is: Now what? If Trump had an iota of decency, he would resign — but he doesn’t, and prevailing Justice Department guidelines hold that a president can’t be indicted while in office. So the onus is on Congress to act. A responsible Congress would have by now already convened an impeachment inquiry. But that is not the Congress we have. We have a Congress dominated by political hacks and moral invertebrates who are determined to act as the president’s enablers and legitimizers at all costs."


-Max Boot

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