The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Manafort and Cohen

There's little doubt that Paul Manafort is a sleazy inside the beltway operator and is guilty as charged. He represents everything that's wrong with the Washington, DC swamp; Donald Trump showed political naivete and stupidity in having him associated with his presidential campaign (albeit for less than three months, after which, he was fired). Trump is certainly guilty of poor political judgement in the hiring of Manafort, but that is not a crime.

There is little doubt that Roger Cohen is a sleazy New York City lawyer and fixer and is guilty of both tax and bank fraud. There's also little doubt that he was involved in buying the silence of two porn stars who had consensual affairs with Trump many years before the election, but suggesting that those payoffs were illegal campaign contribution smacks more of gotcha politics on the part of special counsel Robert Mueller than anything resembling a violation of the law. Donald Trump showed extremely poor judgment in dealing with Cohen and even worse judgment and poor character in cheating on his wife and paying off the women who participated, but extremely poor judgement is not a crime.

If extremely poor judgment was a crime, Barack Obama's dealing with a convicted felon, Tony Resco, would have landed Obama in jail. But gosh, there was no special prosecutor appointed to go through years of Resco's dealing with Obama or for that matter, Obama's other political associates (Obama was hardly a businessman) over the decades before he was president. And considering the Cohen "hush money" allegation, if Cohen offered the porn stars hush money "for the principal purpose of influencing the election,” why wasn't Barack Obama indicted after he offered hush money to his pastor and mentor, Jerimiah Wright, after Wright made vicious anti-American statements from the pulpit. Heh, if there's any media and federal law enforcement standard at all, its a double standard.

I mention all of this because the Trump Derangement Syndrome crowd along with #NeverTrumpers are ecstatic that both Manafort and Cohen went down. Predictably, they conflate the convictions with the still evidence-free allegations of Russian collusion and more recently, "obstruction of justice" that Robert Mueller has spent the past year investigating. And since there's no evidence to support either, they've now pivoted to campaign finance abuse.

I know I'm not alone in my feeling that both the Manafort and Cohen indictments and convictions were brought in an attempt to skewer Trump. The sleaze-balls get convicted, flip, and voila, Trump is impeached and then removed from office. Let the election be damned! That's what the TDS crowd and #NeverTrumpers have been waiting for since November, 2016.

Molly Hemingway comments:
Manafort had been previously targeted and examined by the federal government and never charged with anything. The FBI even in some cases examined the exact same records and documents that resulted in charges this time. Washington D.C. is teeming with political consultants engaged in similar shenanigans who walk free every day ...

A big problem for federal prosecutors is that public trust in their application of the rule of law is low because of how they handle political cases ... you can read the inspector general report into the Hillary Clinton investigation, where at every single step along the way, the FBI tread lightly and gently in the face of demonstrable crime, unquestionable lying to agents, and other prosecutable activity.

It’s not that Cohen and Manafort aren’t shady people. They are. It’s that the American public can see that Washington D.C. is teeming with shady people and those with the right connections get off scot-free. That is an extremely dangerous situation for the preservation of the republic and trust in her institutions ...

These cases are really about Trump, and those who helped him take on the establishment. The goal, of course, is to remove Trump from office some way, some how ... some are even calling for impeachment over — at best — an unreported campaign contribution. As Mike Doran puts it, “The crime, if it was one, is minor. It pales in comparison to the crimes committed to prevent Trump’s election & to annul it after the fact, Those crimes threaten our democratic institutions, & their magnitude is compounded by the active efforts of the press to cover them up.”
The real tragedy in all of this isn't that two sleaze-ball operators were convicted of crimes. Rather, it's the stench of selective prosecution with the clear intent by Robert Mueller of bringing down a duly-elected president.

No evidence of Russian collusion or obstruction of justice has been found—if it existed, you can bet your life that said evidence would have leaked to the trained hamsters in the media, all of whom are virulently anti-Trump. So instead, Mueller's team hopes that now-convicted men will flip and tell what they know. Here's the problem. If there was no collusion and no obstruction, the only thing that either Manafort or Cohen can do is make stuff up—and based on their character, I wouldn't be at all surprised if they do just that to save their own skins.

And with their testimony (if it ever comes to that), two dishonest sleaze balls, Manafort and/or Cohen, will immediately become exemplars of virtue and honesty whose testimony will be the catalyst that allows the Dems and #NeverTrumpers to move for Impeachment. Molly Hemingway sums up nicely when she states:
"Democrats, Never Trump, and some media voices have been calling for impeachment for months, if not years. The details for impeachment are unimportant since the real crime seems to have been winning the 2016 election.
Indeed. Trump is guilty of turning the Dems dream into a nightmare and threatening the power elite in Washington at the same time. In the through-the-looking-glass world of the Dems, that's "treason" by any measure.