Tuesday was an incredible news day, even by today’s unprecedented standards.
President Trump’s “fixer” Michael Cohen, who once said he would take a bullet for the President, pleaded guilty to eight criminal counts and volunteered that on two of those counts, he was directed by the President himself to arrange payments to bury the stories of women who had affairs with the candidate in an effort to influence the outcome of the 2016 election.
Meanwhile in a courtroom in Alexandria, Virginia, a jury found President Trump’s former campaign director Paul Manafort guilty of eight of 18 charges lodged against him by Special Counsel, Robert Mueller. The relationship between these two cases remains to be seen.
Though the final chapter in these dramas is yet to be written, what seems increasingly clear is that these unfolding stories are hurtling on a collision course with the increasing likelihood that they will engulf the President in a web of conspiracy to defraud the American public. These developments render Mr. Trump’s great obsession–that his election is legitimate and his enemies are engaged in a witch hunt to prove otherwise–undone by his own words and the confessions of his closest associates. Stay tuned as this tawdry scenario plays itself out over the next several weeks.
But this week’s headlines have already revealed two truths, no matter what else is uncovered by Mueller’s investigation or any subsequent court proceedings. First, as the evidence in the Manafort trial is added to other incidents of corruption in the Trump administration (Tom Price, Scott Pruitt, Ryan Zinke) and his early congressional supporters (Chris Collins, Duncan Hunter), it is clear that this is an administration steeped in moral decay, adding to life in the swamp that the President swore to drain.
The President’s pledge of “promises made, promises kept,” has been broken. His most ardent supporters may try to blame the deep state or a Clinton conspiracy, but the evidence is clear: it is those who Mr. Trump himself brought to Washington who have multiplied in the swamp, filling it with creatures with little regard for the law or the American people.
Second, the President’s words and actions have contributed to his own de-legitimization. There is no longer any argument as to whether Mr. Trump secretly paid hush money to two women with whom he was having an affair shortly after his wife gave birth to their son. His payments to silence them exposes his fear that knowledge of this behavior would have cost him the election. By his own actions, his legitimacy is condemned (and this is before any conspiracy that might eventually be proven with Russian actors).
“Methinks thou protestest too much, Donald Trump.” Your actions demonstrate that you deceived the American people before the election. You feared that if they knew the “real you,” they would not have voted for you, thereby contradicting your repeated claims of legitimacy.
As these two sordid takes move inexorably toward a convergence point, we can only imagine what other truths may be revealed.