11th Anniversary Edition
It’s time to Break It Down!
There are millions of Americans who consider themselves patriots, and who believe Donald Trump is heroic. Michael Cohen used to be one of those people. He was so enthralled by The Donald that he spent years as his “fixer,” personal attorney, and on at least one occasion, he declared he would “take a bullet for Mr. Trump.” Yesterday, in a stark about-face, Cohen admitted he made illegal campaign contributions…at Donald Trump’s behest. Oh yeah, that was after he pled guilty to campaign finance violations.
As if Trump’s former personal attorney pleading guilty and implicating him in the process didn’t make for a bummer of a day, another one of Trump’s best people (he hires only the best people), Paul Manafort, his former campaign manager, was convicted in a Northern Virginia courtroom on 8 counts of financial crimes. The breakdown of the counts included:
- 5 Charges of tax fraud
- 1 Charge of hiding foreign bank accounts
- 2 Charges of bank fraud
If maximum sentences for each charge were applied, it would yield Manafort, who is 70 years old, 80 years in prison. Sentencing experts say it’s unlikely he’ll receive the max, and that he could get as little as 10 years, which for a 70 year-old, is still no small matter. Federal sentencing guidelines require serving at least 85% of the term, which for a 10-year sentence would translate to 8 and half years. These numbers are not indicative of actual sentencing decisions; just an example of terms that might be applied in Manafort’s case. Of course, the reality is, Manafort may be banking, no pun intended, on a Presidential pardon.
In his best deflect, divert, and yes, deceive style, Donald Trump revels in calling any reporting he doesn’t like, especially reporting about himself, fake news, hoaxes, witch hunts, or as Kellyanne Conway said, alternative facts. Clearly that applied to virtually every story that emanated from any media source other than Fox News, if those stories covered Cohen, Manafort, and Trump’s relationship with either or both. The same truism was invoked regarding reports about George Papadopoulos, Michael Flynn, and Rick Gates. Just for the record, all five of those “President’s Men” have now either pleaded guilty, or been convicted of a variety of crimes that render them all felons.
The temptation, or perhaps in reality, self-centered rationalization of Trump supporters is always…it doesn’t have anything to do with Trump, or it has nothing to do with collusion, or there was no conspiracy with Russia…or it has nothing to do with the price of tea in China. OK, I threw in the last one for levity. Well, Mr. Cohen, who likely knows better than most where the various skeletons are hidden, has proffered a different possibility.
Oh, I know his word will not suffice for the denizens of TrumpWorld, at least one of whom admits he’d take Trump’s word over that of Jesus. Frankly, I’m not that concerned about the reticence of the Trumpophiles. I tend to believe over time, that the steady drumbeat of factual revelations will persuade a majority of reasonable Americans that “The Emperor Has No Clothes.”
The entire episode known as the Trump Presidency is a farce that will eventually implode and fall from the burden of its own weight. Granted that may take four, or even possibly 8 years. But by and by, the politicos and citizens who insist in supporting him, despite his corrupt tendencies, constant misstatements, cyber bullying, and uber casual belligerence, will find themselves on the wrong side of history. And lest anyone think this represents some kind of endpoint, I don’t know how to put it to you, other than to just come right out and say, it doesn’t. While prosecutors must decide whether to re-try Manafort on the 10 charges for which the jury couldn’t reach a verdict, he actually still faces a September trial in Washington, DC. There the charges include:
- Conspiracy to defraud the United States
- Failure to register as a foreign agent
- Money laundering
- Witness tampering
- Making false statements
Early prognostications are that charges stemming from any possible D.C. Court convictions could be even lengthier than those from Alexandria. The array of charges and the way sentencing guidelines are applied will affect the final outcome.
Yesterday, at about the same time Manafort was learning his fate, i.e., that he was found guilty on 8 charges, in Alexandria, VA, Michael Cohen was pleading out in NYC on his own 8-pack of charges, including:
- Tax fraud
- False statements to a bank
- Campaign finance violations
Cohen faces up to 65 years in jail. In light of Cohen’s decision to plead, he and the prosecution avoid the specter of a trial. Alternately, the deal creates a significant complication for Donald Trump. As part of Trump’s inner circle for more than a decade, Cohen served as Trump’s personal counsel at the Trump Organization, and continued to advise him after the election. The relationship began to fray after the FBI raided Cohen’s office, hotel room, and home in April. Earlier this summer, the man who once said he’d take a bullet for Trump told ABC news that his loyalty is to his family and country first, not the President.
It is worth noting that Cohen’s plea deal does not include cooperation with Mueller. Because of this, it is unclear whether he will follow through with previous assertions that he would talk to Mueller.
In the hours following their respective legal revelations, Mr. Trump had a lot to say about Paul Manafort, and zero, zilch, and zip to say about Michael Cohen. While it may be conceivable that Cohen will seek to repair his relationship with Trump in hopes of gaining a Presidential pardon of his own, it seems like a long shot. If, however, in the final analysis, it works for Donald Trump, in the view of Donald Trump, it is certainly still a possibility.
Some observers might consider yesterday the worst day of the Trump Presidency. In one news report, the contemporaneous Manafort/Cohen conviction/plea was characterized as the single worst hour of the Trump Presidency. Those things may or may not be true. Meanwhile, what is certain is that, yesterday, “Trump, His Friends And Supporters Had A Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day!”
I’m done; holla back!
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