Commentary, Defending Democracy

High crimes and misdemeanors: Veteran journalist says Cohen guilty plea “calls into question the legitimacy of Trump’s presidency”

Donald Trump speaking

President Donald Trump

John Nichols, the veteran national-affairs correspondent for The Nation magazine has a powerful and on-the-mark assessment of the guilty plea entered yesterday by Donald Trump’s longtime lawyer/fixer Michael Cohen.

He writes that it “calls into question the legitimacy of Trump’s presidency.”

As Nichols points out, the 2016 election turned on about 80,000 votes in three states that shifted the electoral college to Trump. After noting that it’s entirely reasonable to assume that half or more of those voters might have shifted to Hillary Clinton if they had known “Trump began an affair with a Playboy model shortly after his wife, Melania, gave birth to their son—and then bought the model’s silence,” Nichols puts it this way:

“We now have evidence—powerful evidence coming from his personal lawyer, and fixer—that the president engaged in illegal activities that might reasonably be presumed to have influenced the results of the election.

This calls into question the legitimacy of Trump’s presidency. It is not unreasonable to suggest that Trump obtained the nation’s highest office as a result of criminal maneuvering that the president directed.

If that is the case, then Donald Trump lacks an honest claim on the presidency.

What Cohen has revealed may place Trump in serious legal jeopardy. ‘What Michael Cohen pled guilty to are not just campaign finance violations, they are felonies,’ says Congressman Ted Lieu, a California Democrat who was once a military prosecutor.

But Trump is, even more surely, in constitutional jeopardy.

‘Cohen’s sworn allocution in [the Southern District of New York courtroom] in support of his pleas of guilty to having feloniously manipulated the 2016 election at Trump’s direction point directly to impeachable “high crimes and misdemeanors” by Trump,’ argues Harvard Law School professor Laurence Tribe, who noted that the wrongdoing in question is ‘entirely apart from Russiagate and Obstructiongate.’

Tribe explains that ‘Trump’s ‘no collusion’ mantra is now ludicrous. Collusion—indeed, conspiracy—with Michael Cohen and others to defraud the American people by criminally manipulating the presidential election is now clear from Cohen’s guilty pleas—even without Russia’s involvement.'”

Nichols goes on to quote veteran Republican politico Steve Schmidt for the premise that the impeachment threshold has clearly been reached:

“This means Trump’s presidency is not only illegitimate but criminal. It means a presidential election was compromised by the most insidious criminal conspiracy in American History.”

All of which begs the question of how much longer North Carolina Republican leaders like Richard Burr and Thom Tillis will continue to stand by this corrupt president. One can only hope the answer is “not much longer.”

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