Alexander's Column

Trump's Troubles: The Strategic Perspective

Democrats are exploiting Michael Cohen and Paul Manafort to obstruct and undermine Trump.

Mark Alexander · Aug. 23, 2018

Donald Trump’s troubles are the trouble with Donald Trump. He is a package deal, and part of the deal is ugly. This is not a revelation, but it certainly does provide plenty of obstructionist fodder for Democrat Party hacks and their Leftmedia conglomerate. (Of course, Trump troubles are major Leftmedia revenue generators, but no conflict of interest there…)

More on that in a minute, but first…

Those of us who supported his election over Hillary Clinton had no illusion that Trump had the character of George Washington or Ronald Reagan. But as Nate Jackson noted yesterday, Trump’s considerable character issues were “baked into the 2016 election cake.” We knew what we were getting. It is unfortunate that Republicans have to defend a current president by comparing his failings to past Democrat presidents, but that is the degraded reality of contemporary politics.

Frankly, I have been surprised at how effective Trump has been as, to put it mildly, an “unconventional president.” A review of his first year MAGA accomplishments, and the numerous legislative, judicial, regulatory, and economic accomplishments thus far in his second year, it is apparent that no conventional president has done more to turn the country back toward Liberty in his first 18 months in office, than Donald Trump.

Writing recently about the epidemic of Trump Derangement Syndrome afflicting the Left, I noted the reason why: “The day Trump arrived in DC, he dropped a bomb on the status quo in Congress and its special interests. He dropped a bomb on the regulatory behemoths and their bureaucratic bottlenecks. He dropped a bomb on the trade and national security institutions and alliances that failed miserably over the previous eight years. And he dropped a bomb on all the pundits and mainstream media outlets.”

Trump’s “style” has caused more political consternation resulting in more uncivil discourse than any president in the last century. But as seasoned political observer Walter Williams notes, sometimes men of high character make bad presidents, while sometimes men of low character make good presidents.

Enter the Russia collusion setup — orchestrated by former CIA Director John Brennan, former FBI Director James Comey and, of course, Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

Comey, by his own admission, released details of the fake Russian dossier (which became a Trump investigation centerpiece based on a questionable FISA memo) in order to prompt the appointment of a special prosecutor. That was a masterful play to keep Trump on the ropes through the 2018 midterms. (Even Clinton strategist Mark Penn is curious why there is no investigation of the dossier fabricators.)

It was clear that the appointment of Robert Mueller and his team of Clintonistas would open up the proverbial “can of worms” in regard to all things Trump, and those connected to him, despite the fact there has been and likely will be no evidence of Russian collusion. To date, Mueller has not indicated any investigation into the genuine 2016 election collusion between Team Clinton and the Russians to set Trump up for a takedown.

And that brings us to this week, which featured the convictions of Trump associates Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen. Nothing in those convictions and plea deals have anything to do with “Russian collusion,” but again, the worms are out, and in the case of Cohen, so much for “lawyer-client privilege.”

For starters, all the analysis from Right and Left notwithstanding, the biggest concern for Trump right now is not what Manafort and Cohen have been convicted of thus far. Manafort has an upcoming trial that pertains to his past dealings with Russian companies. But a much greater threat to Trump is what Cohen has yet to tell prosecutors about Trump. As his former attorney, Cohen knows where, on Trump’s behalf, he hid corporate and personal legal skeletons.

As for the current charges against Cohen related to “hush money” paid to a couple of women with whom Trump had some salacious involvement long ago, the Left is trying to spin that into “high crimes and misdemeanors” for a faux impeachment proceeding. Recall that a few congressional Leftists have already filed five articles of impeachment against Trump.

Trump insists, of course, that he has broken no laws. “Michael Cohen plead guilty to two counts of campaign finance violations that are not a crime. … The only thing that I have done wrong is to win an election that was expected to be won by Crooked Hillary Clinton and the Democrats.”

In regard to these latest Trump troubles uncovered by Mueller, my money is on the most cogent analysis from Democrat Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz, who both voted for and financially backed Clinton.

On the hush money, Dershowitz concluded:

If Mr. Trump the candidate contributed several hundred thousand dollars to his own campaign to pay hush money to women who were either truthfully or falsely alleging against him, that is not a crime. The candidate can contribute as much as he wants. … The election laws are a morass of misdemeanors, felonies, crimes, non-crimes, with exceptions, so you have to get over the legal barrier first. Then you have to get over the credibility barrier. The only evidence that the president did anything that might be unlawful even arguably comes from a man who has admitted to be a liar, had a lawyer-client privilege with the president. There are a lot of barriers to what Cohen said … in court. Remember, there has been no indictment, grand jury, only a statement, an elocution, by a man who has admitted to criminal conduct. So we are far away from impeachable offense or a criminal offense against the president.

On Trump’s asking Cohen to make the payments:

Cohen would be acting for Trump as Trump’s representative, and the campaign contribution would be lawful as long as [the candidate] paid for it. … So the prosecutor is in a “catch-22.” If he believes Cohen, that the president directed him to do it, then it’s not a crime at all. If he doesn’t believe Cohen, then Cohen has committed the crime. The legal pundits who are saying that if Cohen admits a crime, that makes Trump and “un-indicted co-conspirator,” they are just wrong as a matter of basic criminal law.

Asked by Bret Baier why Cohen would plead guilty to this campaign finance violation:

This was an add-on. They had him dead to rights on the medallions, on the taxes — they threw this in … in order to give him an opportunity to say something negative about Donald Trump. Look, they’re not interested in Cohen, they’re interested in Trump. Judge Ellis said that in the Manafort case. So they threw in the campaign contribution law in order to find a connection to Trump. Medallions have no connection to Trump. Taxes have no connection to Trump. This is the only alleged crime that has a connection to Trump.

Regarding absurd comparisons to Watergate, Dershowitz declared:

It’s not even a close question. That is so over the top. It’s just not a crime to contribute to your own campaign. … I challenge any of those saying it’s a crime to find anything in criminal law that would make it a crime for a [candidate] to pay someone [to benefit] his own election. It’s not against the law. … The Rule of Law requires that when you say something is a crime, show me the statute. There is no statute that would make that a crime. It might be a misdemeanor for the campaign to fail to report that payment, but that would be the campaign, not the candidate.“

And on the Left’s political impeachment rhetoric:

If you are talking about high crimes and misdemeanors, that’s absurd. That’s not the kind of thing the Framers had in mind. … You need a high crime and misdemeanor. Every campaign has violated some technical election law. The Democrats are going to run on "Give us the House and we’ll impeach the president.” … They’re not going to get close on an impeachment track. They are not going to find the crime. … The candidate is entitled to contribute a million dollars to his own campaign.

Predictably the Democrats are using the latest Trump troubles to insist a delay in the confirmation hearings for U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Brett Kavanaugh, an outstanding choice to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy.

Moving on, we will see what else Cohen has to say.

But political analyst Mollie Hemingway summed up the current political climate well: “There are two groups of people in this country: People who have wanted to get rid of Donald Trump since the moment he won [the] election and people who chose to vote for him because he said he would advance their agenda. That latter group is extremely happy, probably pleasantly surprised with how well things have gone. The first group, it doesn’t matter what the details are. They’re just moving to get rid him by hook or by crook. The fact that people can see this – that we live in a swamp where if you have the right connections you get away with crimes and if you don’t they’ll go after anybody, anyway, anyhow, whatever it takes to get rid of the president – is a credibility problem for those institutions that are supposed to practice the rule of law.”

Click here to show comments