The chorus of Trump-haters rushing to brand President Trump a criminal has gotten considerably louder since last Friday. That was the day prosecutors in the Southern District of New York and from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office separately filed their sentencing recommendations against ex-Trump personal lawyer Michael Cohen. Cohen had pleaded guilty to a variety of charges, including of lying to Congress. The Mueller sentencing memo contained some teasers on the Russian collusion investigation.
However, the teasers seem to have fallen flat, including the Moscow tower project promoted by Cohen, which never got off the ground, and a cryptic reference to “political synergy” offered by a Russian official as early as 2015 that Cohen apparently did not pursue. Instead, the Trump-haters have turned their attention to the portion of the New York prosecutors’ sentencing memorandum regarding Cohen’s admitted federal election campaign finance law violations, which the Trump-haters are counting on to spell trouble for the president.
The prosecutors in New York accepted as true in their sentencing memorandum Cohen’s claim that he had arranged for the payment of hush money to two past alleged Trump paramours in violation of federal election campaign finance laws, doing so “in coordination with and at the direction of” President Trump (referred to as “Individual #1” in their sentencing memo). That is all the Trump-haters had to hear before declaring that it was curtains for the president. Smelling blood in the water, they are looking beyond impeachment to possible jail time once the president leaves office.
On Sunday morning’s edition of CNN’s Reliable Sources, for example, Watergate reporter Carl Bernstein, still living on his reputation from that decades-old scandal, said, “There’s something much more important than just impeachment going on, and that is the fact that Donald Trump for the first time in his life is cornered.”
The Obama administration’s former acting solicitor general Neal Katyal said on CNN: “Even if a sitting president can’t be indicted, he’s got to know his future looks like it’s behind bars unless he cuts some sort of deal with the prosecutors.”
Representative Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), likely to become the next chairman of the House Intelligence Committee when the Democrats assume control of the House in January, painted his own grim picture for President Trump once he leaves office. “There’s a very real prospect that on the day Donald Trump leaves office, the Justice Department may indict him. That he may be the first president in quite some time to face the real prospect of jail time,” he said Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”
Former CIA Director John Brennan, an avowed enemy of President Trump, tweeted that he took “great solace” in knowing “how impossible it will be” for the president “to escape American justice.”
Former FBI Director James Comey, another avowed enemy of President Trump who has his own legal problems stemming from his possible perjury before Congress and his leaking of government documents, declared that the president was in serious legal jeopardy of being named an unindicted co-conspirator. “The government wouldn’t make that sponsoring allegation if they weren’t seriously contemplating going forward with criminal charges,” he told Nicolle Wallace, host of MSNBC’s “Deadline White House,” during a discussion at the 92nd Street Y in New York Sunday night.
Ironically, under the criminal “specific intent” standard that Comey himself applied in evaluating whether Hillary Clinton’s e-mail transgressions were worthy of criminal prosecution, federal prosecutors will have a very hard time proving that President Trump criminally violated the federal election campaign finance laws. They will need credible corroborating evidence proving beyond a reasonable doubt that President Trump had specific criminal intent to direct Cohen to violate the contribution and disclosure provisions of the federal election campaign finance laws, or that he persuaded Cohen to perjure himself under oath. Just proving Cohen’s claim that the president directed Cohen to make the arrangements for paying off his two alleged paramours means nothing in and of itself.
(Front Page Mag)
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