On Monday, federal prosecutors informed a judge that their investigation into Donald Trump’s efforts to suppress the stories of adult film star Stormy Daniels and nude model Karen McDougal was ending. The hush money scheme, which has already led to the conviction of Trump attorney Michael Cohen on two counts of campaign finance violations, was under investigation because it allegedly happened “in coordination with and at the direction of” Trump. All evidence produced showed that allegation to be true. But despite recordings and transcripts showing that Trump was directing every stage of the illegal scheme, it appears that the investigation has ended with no further charges. And the reason seems to be that Department of Justice ruling that a sitting executive cannot be indicted.
As reported by USA Today, that DOJ rule—the same rule that shielded Trump from charges of obstruction in the Mueller report—was “a factor” in ending the investigation without charges against Trump. No one is saying whether that was the only factor, but … it was the only factor. The case against Trump was beyond ironclad. Even Trump attorney Jay Sekulow will not comment except to say that the investigation is over. In the words of Lindsey Graham, case closed, and that’s all you need to know.
But if the attorneys are not talking, House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff is. “The inescapable conclusion from all of the public materials available now is that there was ample evidence to charge Donald Trump with the same criminal election law violations for which Michael Cohen pled guilty,” said Schiff.
Recordings made by Cohen show that Trump was not only aware of the scheme, but negotiating the details and instructing Cohen on the steps to take. Trump even involved members of his campaign staff, including Hope Hicks, in the scheme, going back and forth with Cohen on details of both how to deceive the women and how to hide the source of the funds.
Now, Cohen has been convicted, Hicks seems likely to be charged with lying to Congress, but the DOJ is letting Trump skate—all based on a rule it created.
Cohen, from prison, continues to issue statements about Trump’s involvement. “I and members of The Trump Organization were directed by Mr. Trump to handle the Stormy Daniels matter; including making the hush money payment,” wrote Cohen on Thursday. “The conclusion of the investigation exonerating The Trump Organization’s role should be of great concern to the American people and investigated by Congress and the Department of Justice.”
It’s seems unlikely that the Department of Justice will comment at all, since, under the interpretation that was used in the special counsel investigation, even admitting that Trump could have been indicted is off the table.
It seems, as far as the DOJ is concerned, that Trump really could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue. On television. With witnesses. And while someone else might be charged as an accessory, Trump would walk away with not one word said against him.