Mr Cohen’s plea has made the president of the United States an unindicted co-conspirator in a pair of federal crimes. That makes this a sad week for America. But it is a shameful one for the Republican Party, whose members remain more dedicated to minimising Mr Trump’s malfeasance than to the ideal that nobody, not even the president, is above the law.
…a matter of politics, not law. It could hardly be otherwise, as America’s Founding Fathers foresaw. In “Federalist 65”, Alexander Hamilton explained why it was the Senate, rather than the Supreme Court, that should sit in judgment on the president, for “who can so properly be the inquisitors for the nation as the representatives themselves?” No other body, he thought, would have the necessary “confidence in its situation” to do so.
…e presidency should not be an elected monarchy. If a president does it, that does not make it legal. The constitutional problem that America is heading towards is that the Justice Department’s protocol not to prosecute sitting presidents dates from another age, when a president could be expected to resign with a modicum of honour before any charges were drawn up, as Nixon did. That norm no longer applies. The unwritten convention now says in effect that, if his skin is thick enough, a president is indeed above the law.