In an interview with Reuters, Donald Trump repeated what’s become his version of the “Cell Block Tango” saying of the payoffs made to keep two women quiet before the election: “It wasn’t a campaign contribution. If it were, it’s only civil, and even if it’s only civil, there was no violation based on what we did. Okay?”
So … he didn’t do it. But if he did it, it was only a civil penalty. Except that’s not what federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York have already determined. The SDNY called both of the payments extremely serious violations of laws regarding campaign transparency. Not “civil” penalties, not misdemeanor violations, but felonies. Both carried out “in coordination with and at the direction of [Trump].”
But Trump claims to be unconcerned about the possibility of impeachment, saying that he would count on all those people who bring their psychoses to his rallies to save the day.
Trump: I’m not concerned, no. I think that the people would revolt if that happened.
But Cohen’s conviction on these matters didn’t even come from the special counsel’s office. This is a castoff case, one of the items that Robert Mueller handed off to other offices so that his team could devote their time to tackling the central issue of Trump’s connections to Russia. And everything that has come out in the last months—Michael Flynn’s sentencing documents, Cohen’s documents from the special counsel, Paul Manafort’s documents—only continues to underline the fact that Trump, his family, and over a dozen members had substantial contacts with representatives of the Russian government.
Trump continued to insist throughout the interview that the documents showed “no collusion” when even those parts of the documents that were visible outside of seal and redactions showed multiple instances of attempts, not just of Russia to reach out to Trump, but attempts by Trump to reach out to Russia.
Trump also used the interview to demonstrate, once again, his connection between whether or not someone has to face justice for their acts, and the number of zeroes in their bank account. He told Reuters that he would “intervene” in the case against Chinese telecom executive Meng Wanzhou if he thought it would land a trade deal. He also restated his decisions to let Saudi Arabian crown prince Mohammed bin Salman literally get away with murder saying that he stands by bin Salman.
The CIA has determined that bin Salman ordered the brutal torture, dismemberment, and murder of Washington Post journalist and U.S. resident Jamal Khashoggi. CIA director Gina Haspel has testified to Congress concerning the audio of the event, which includes the sounds of Khashoggi screaming as he is beaten, stripped, and his fingers are cut away with a bone saw. None of that was enough to budge Trump from his absolute support of bin Salman.
As indicated in the SDNY sentencing document for Michael Cohen, those payments to cover up Trump’s affairs were carried out “with the intent to suppress the stories and thereby prevent them from influencing the election.” Both payments were made “in coordination with and at the direction of [Trump]” and in at Trump’s direction, Cohen “deceived the voting public” by hiding facts about Trump in violation of laws requiring transparency concerning campaign expenditures. The entire coordinated scheme between Cohen and Trump was called “deliberate” and “sophisticated” and was caught on tape.
Cohen privately bragged … including in recorded conversation, that he had made the payment to spare [Trump] from damaging press and embarrassment.
As for the people who would rise up in revolt should impeachment be handed down … Trump may be surprised. Sure, those people have been chanting “Lock ‘er up!” for the last two years. But now that they’ve been trained to expect blood, they may not be too picky about the source.
This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.