Ten Takeaways from the Craziest Day Yet of the Trump Presidency
It should never be underestimated how much we have all be dangerously desensitized, at least partly by design, by the never-ending insanity that is the Trump presidency. The impact of that reality was seen in full force today as there were numerous developments which, in any other modern presidency, would have rocked the nation at its core, but which, to a huge portion of the country will seem likely mostly just another blip in the news cycle.
After all, the president’s former Campaign Chairman, Paul Manafort, was convicted on eight serious federal charges and Trump, who had clearly tried to influence the jury while they were in deliberations, said that he felt badly for him while outrageously called the verdict part of Robert Mueller’s continuing “witch hunt.”
Similarly, Trump’s former attorney, Michael Cohen, plead guilty to eight federal crimes, including two which are clearly related to his work as Trump’s “fixer” during the 2016 campaign. He even directly implicated Trump by telling the judge that he was directed to commit these acts by the “candidate.”
In short, under these circumstances, if President Barack Obama or Bill Clinton had this same day with Republicans in control of both houses of Congress, there is no doubt that impeachment proceedings would begin tomorrow, if not sooner.
But of course we currently live in a “bizarro world” where nothing really matters. In that context, after shifting through the wreckage of this crazy day, here are some takeaways from what we news junkies just witnessed.
- The Mueller probe dodged a bullet on the Manafort trial. With a judge biased against them and the president trying to influence any of his “Cult 45” members who may have made it on the jury, they easily could have gotten shut out. Had that happened, however unfair it would have been, the investigation would have been forever discredited in the minds of at least 90% of Republicans and probably some independents.
- Conversely, getting eight serious convictions against Manafort, despite some significant headwinds, should now, in a logical world, end forever any serious (i.e., non-State-run media) discussion of this whole thing being a “witch hunt.”
- Trump supporters and the State-run media will continue to insist that this has nothing to do with the Russia investigation, but that is extremely deceptive spin. This was much like getting Al Capone for tax evasion, only even more relevant. It was who Manafort was dealing with financially during the commission of these crimes which potentially led to the ties between Russia and the Trump campaign, and they also explain why he was financially vulnerable to doing Russia’s bidding on, for instance, the 2016 GOP convention platform.
- Trump saying that he feels badly for a man just convicted by his own justice department after trying to influence that person’s jury deliberations while calling the prosecution part of a “witch hunt” is probably the most underrated outrage of the entire Trump nightmare.
- The Cohen news is still open to some significant interpretation. If prosecutors are using sentencing leverage as a way of Cohen to “cooperate,” then this could be the most damaging development that has ever happened to Trump. However, if this is the end of the road and Cohen is just going to quietly go to prison, then it is possible that Trump may only face a campaign finance allegation, which will be extremely difficult to prove and will be regarded by his supporters as small potatoes.
- Like with reading the tea leaves on much of the Russia investigation, interpreting Mueller’s apparent lack of interest in Cohen is a sign of either the remarkable strength or weakness of the case against Trump. It is really hard to understand how, if Trump is “guilty,” that Cohen is not an incredibly valuable asset here, unless of course the rest of what he has is somehow so overwhelming that he doesn’t need to sully it all with a witness as lacking in credibility as Cohen.
- Trump, a man who got elected continually promising to “drain the swamp,” has now had his campaign chairman convicted, his personal lawyer plead guilty to campaign-related charges, and his national security advisor, Michael Flynn, plead guilty to lying to federal investigators about his contact with Russia. Theoretically, that alone should be enough to call his presidency a disaster.
- You could also feel the relief at Fox News when, in the midst of all of torrent of very bad news for Trump, they were able to spend quite a bit of time covering the much more “appealing” news that an illegal immigrant was charged with the murder of Mollie Tibbetts.
- None of this is going to move significant support away from Trump, though, if Democrats have a clue, this should help them gain at least a point or two in the generic congressional ballot for November.
- Believe it or not, all this remarkable news will all be largely forgotten by Monday. That is until the NEXT time we have the nuttiest news day of the Trump presidency.
John Ziegler hosts a weekly podcast focusing on news media issuesand is documentary filmmaker. You can follow him on Twitter at @ZigManFreud or email him at email@example.com
This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.