By Ian Samuel
The Guardian (8/23/18)
On Tuesday [8/21], Michael Cohen – President Trump’s longtime personal lawyer – pleaded guilty in federal court to conspiring with Trump to violate the campaign finance laws in the waning days of the 2016 election, with the aim of influencing the outcome. (This testimony is corroborated by, among other things, an audio recording of the two of them discussing the conspiracy.) After a night undoubtedly spent crafting the most blistering bon mot of which he was able, the president tweeted the next morning that “If anyone is looking for a good lawyer, I would strongly suggest you don’t retain the services of Michael Cohen!” Got ’em.
Cohen’s guilty plea, along with the conviction of Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort of unrelated tax and fraud crimes, have undoubtedly left some thinking that the net is finally closing around Trump, and that the global nightmare of his presidency is at last entering its final hours. Surely, proof that the president was personally involved in a criminal conspiracy to violate the election laws will be the last straw, won’t it?
The Democratic party’s biggest obstacle is a sense among non-voters that corruption is equally common among both parties.
Probably not, actually. To be clear: no one would say Tuesday was a great day for Trump. And it is absolutely satisfying on its own terms to watch as the rogue’s gallery of grifters and confidence men that surround the president are tossed into the clink, one by one. Washington is full of those types, in both parties, and they largely get away with it – just as Cohen and Manafort surely would have, had they not had the bad fortune of having their patron elected president. And the Democrats have plenty of them: Mueller’s investigation has led to a criminal referral of Tony Podesta, for example, a prominent DC lobbyist and brother of John Podesta, who chaired Hillary Clinton’s campaign. These sorts are all loathsome and seeing them brought to justice is a sublime pleasure.
But while it is surely to the good to bag a few swamp creatures, whether it places Trump’s presidency in any actual danger is a much different question. That is because (despite what you may have learned on The West Wing) politics is not about being right, or virtuous; it is about power. And to endanger Trump’s grip on the presidency, these convictions would have to somehow endanger the concrete powers that keep him there.
Today, that power center is the leadership of the Republican party in Congress, who could have ushered a swift end to this presidency a long time ago if they wanted to. …
(Commoner Call cartoon by Mark L. Taylor, 2017. Open source and avaialable for non-derivative use with link to www.thecommonercall.org )