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Donald Trump Makes a Last-Ditch Effort to Potentially Save His Presidency

By Dustin Rowles | Politics | April 16, 2018 |

By Dustin Rowles | Politics | April 16, 2018 |


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Adam Davidson wrote a piece in the New Yorker this weekend that suggested that Trump has reached the end stage of his presidency. The raid on Michael Cohen’s office is the nail hovering over the coffin:

There are lots of details and surprises to come, but the endgame of this Presidency seems as clear now as those of Iraq and the financial crisis did months before they unfolded. Last week, federal investigators raided the offices of Michael Cohen, the man who has been closer than anybody to Trump’s most problematic business and personal relationships. This week, we learned that Cohen has been under criminal investigation for months—his e-mails have been read, presumably his phones have been tapped, and his meetings have been monitored. Trump has long declared a red line: Robert Mueller must not investigate his businesses, and must only look at any possible collusion with Russia. That red line is now crossed and, for Trump, in the most troubling of ways. Even if he were to fire Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and then had Mueller and his investigation put on ice, and even if—as is disturbingly possible—Congress did nothing, the Cohen prosecution would continue. Even if Trump pardons Cohen, the information the feds have on him can become the basis for charges against others in the Trump Organization.

This is the week we know, with increasing certainty, that we are entering the last phase of the Trump Presidency. This doesn’t feel like a prophecy; it feels like a simple statement of the apparent truth.

It won’t be collusion with the Russians that brings down Trump, however. It will be his business dealings.

I am unaware of anybody who has taken a serious look at Trump’s business who doesn’t believe that there is a high likelihood of rampant criminality. In Azerbaijan, he did business with a likely money launderer for Iran’s Revolutionary Guard. In the Republic of Georgia, he partnered with a group that was being investigated for a possible role in the largest known bank-fraud and money-laundering case in history. In Indonesia, his development partner is “knee-deep in dirty politics”; there are criminal investigations of his deals in Brazil; the F.B.I. is reportedly looking into his daughter Ivanka’s role in the Trump hotel in Vancouver, for which she worked with a Malaysian family that has admitted to financial fraud. Back home, Donald, Jr., and Ivanka were investigated for financial crimes associated with the Trump hotel in SoHo—an investigation that was halted suspiciously. His Taj Mahal casino received what was then the largest fine in history for money-laundering violations.

And for those who think that Trump’s base will simply look the other way where it concerns Trump’s criminal financial dealings, Davidson has a rebuttal for that, too:

The narrative [even among Trump’s base] that will become widely understood is that Donald Trump did not sit atop a global empire. He was not an intuitive genius and tough guy who created billions of dollars of wealth through fearlessness. He had a small, sad operation, mostly run by his two oldest children and Michael Cohen, a lousy lawyer who barely keeps up the pretenses of lawyering and who now faces an avalanche of charges, from taxicab-backed bank fraud to money laundering and campaign-finance violations.

The news for Cohen hasn’t gotten any better. A judge has ordered that he turn over his client list this morning, which will be made public. We now know that Cohen also killed a story about Donald Trump Jr’s affair with Aubrey O’Day, that he paid the pregnant mistress of a top GOP fundraiser $1.6 million to keep quiet (and was paid $250,000 to do so). There’s speculation, that Cohen denies, that Mueller has evidence that Cohen was in Prague when he says he wasn’t, which would verify a key element of the Steele Dossier. Moreover, not that it matters, but it makes for good drama: Stormy Daniels will be at Cohen’s hearing today.

No one is more aware of the danger that the raid on Michael Cohen’s office poses than Donald Trump himself. When Manafort and Michael Flynn were brought down, Trump distanced himself from them. When Rick Gates was indicted. Trump remained largely silent. When George Papadopoulos was indicted, he became the “coffee boy.” Carter Page was reduced to just some name on a list. But Michael Cohen?

What’s he so afraid of?

If Davidson is right, and this is the last stage of Trump’s presidency, then Trump has launched one last-ditch effort to potentially save it:

If this is the last card Trump has up his sleeve to save himself, it’s a six of clubs, and it won’t even give him a pair. Citing attorney-client privilege may be even more difficult in this case, however, because — as prosecutors have noted — Cohen performed “little to no legal work”; it was mostly business. Meanwhile, Cohen is thinking about defending himself, which tells you how desperate he is. You know what Lincoln said about that: “He who defends himself has a fool for a client.” Apt.

Often, whenever I really want to see which way the winds are blowing, I will check to see what George Conway — the husband of Trump’s senior aide, Kellyanne Conway — is retweeting. He retweeted this on Saturday.

A real legal bind, indeed, folks.

It should be another interesting day.



Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here or follow him on Twitter.


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