It’s been a while since I’ve gone longer form. Today is a big, big deal. In my mind, the Cohen news is far bigger because it’s far harder to dispel.
There’s a reason the President only commented on Paul Manafort when he got off Air Force One tonight — it’s because he has a script. It’s not about Russia, etc…. Now, the obvious answer to that to anyone who tries that during an interview is “what does that mean — does that mean that the President is fine with any and all sorts of criminal acts if they’re not Russia-related? Does it mean that Paul Manafort should have been allowed to continue to evade taxes because it only came to light as part of the Mueller investigation? Or that he should have been politely asked to stop evading taxes or to repay them with a ‘we good?’ being sufficient to end the process?”
The Cohen stuff is far bigger. Here’s why. Cohen directly implicated the President in two federal felonies tonight. He testified, under oath, that he was directed to commit campaign finance violations by the soon-to-be-President. The sole, stated, and obvious purpose of these felonies was to conceal material facts from voters in the weeks before the election. Cohen is not being given any sentencing relief by prosecutors as an incentive to implicate the President and himself. That’s worth repeating. Cohen is not receiving any special or better treatment by implicating the President. So, the usual dodge of “he’ll say anything to avoid jail time” is not available here. Cohen is putting himself in jail by saying this. What possible motive will the defenders of the President articulate to explain this?
By the way, let’s also look at the broader crime and its goal. Imagine that it’s 2010 and it comes out that the personal attorney of the Obamas admitted giving Reverend Jeremiah Wright $200,000.00 in October of 2008 to destroy tapes of incendiary sermons that had not yet come to light. Imagine he/she was indicted and pled guilty to campaign finance violations. Does anyone think that this would not be viewed UNIVERSALLY as a huge political scandal?
Today is a big deal. It could impact the midterm elections. It’s the first concrete evidence (that I’ve seen) that the President has committed an impeachable offense. It will matter.