Commentary

Trump’s impeachable crime is that he cheated to win the election

Donald Trump speaking

President Donald Trump

Donald Trump cheated to win.

The news on Donald Trump’s collusion with the Russians continues to unfold, and as former CIA Director John Brennan rightly concluded, Trump’s whining about “no collusion” is hogwash.

(It is astounding that our Sen. Richard Burr remains willfully blind to the facts uncovered in his own Intelligence Committee’s investigation.)

Trump’s one-time “fixer” attorney Michael Cohen admitted under oath in a federal court that Trump directed him to silence with multi-thousand dollars payoffs the women with whom Trump had adulterous sex since he’s been married to First Lady Melania Trump. What Trump did was a crime that certainly qualifies as “high crimes and misdemeanors.”

The campaign violation is more than a legal misdemeanor, but the “high crime” is that it did indeed influence the 2016 presidential election.  This part of the Trump’s crime has not been proclaimed loud enough except by Cohen’s politically astute lawyer Lanny Davis.

Illegal campaign contribution crimes typically are not such big news. We have seen our share here in North Carolina by both Republicans and Democrats. Trump paid pornographic movie star Stormy Daniels (Stephanie Cifford) $130,000 to not publicize his affair with her.

Cohen also arranged for the former “Playmate of the Year” Karen McDougal to receive $150,000 so her story of a nine-month affair with Trump would be quashed by the publisher of the National Enquirer.

Both of these payoffs were made late in the 2016 Election even though the adultery happened years earlier.

What makes the Cohen admission so spectacular is that the crime did more than just influence the election. It threw the election to Trump.

Remember back to the final weeks of the 2016 campaign. The first of the three presidential debates was Sept. 26.  Clinton was declared the clear winner as she was in all three. On Oct. 7, the infamous Hollywood tape recording of Trump bragging how he grabbed women “by the ‘p…y’” made headlines.  The tape story played for days and it was the one big campaign revelation that made rabid Trump supporters blink.

Trump was reeling and it took several days for him to reluctantly admit his mistake and apologize. He lost the second debate Oct. 9.  Clinton’s momentum began to build and she won the final Debate Oct. 19. She looked like a winner until the Oct. 28 announcement by FBI Director James Comey that he had reopened the Clinton email investigation. He found nothing.

Now consider the impact on the election if an expose’ of Trump’s sexual scandals had followed the Comey announcement.  Or even if such blockbuster news splashed across our television screens before Comey’s mistake.

Sex sells in the news business, partly because it’s easy for people to understand, like bribes and not paying your taxes. Trump’s divorces and the Hollywood tape had already tamped the enthusiasm of one of his core constituencies, conservative evangelicals. More adultery would cool these voters even more.

His now congressional Republican lapdogs were not yet tamed and more sex stories in the “family values” party would have let the dogs out.  Both Daniels and McDougal are pretty women, made for television. Their faces would have even rivaled Trump’s for air time.  Trump loses Nov. 7, bigly.

At this time, we don’t know if there are more women although Daniels’ lawyer says there are.  And we, of course, don’t know how much Trump colluded with the Russians in a conspiracy to tilt the election to him. His record for lying should not give his supporters—except for the shameful FOX network—much comfort.

Trump cheated to win the Electoral College vote, and nobody likes a cheater.  Sad.

Barlow Herget, a former Raleigh city councilor and N&O editorial writer, was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University.

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