MANAFORT AND COHEN: THE BEGINNING OF THE END FOR TRUMP

The Paul Manafort jury conviction and the guilty plea by Trump attorney Michael D. Cohen – all in one day – are clearly a one-two combination that has staggered Trump and may well mark the beginning of the end for his presidency.

With the Michael Cohen guilty plea, we now know what most of us have assumed since first learning of the “hush money” payoffs to Stormy Daniels and the Playboy model McDougal, which is that Cohen made these payments at the specific direction of his boss (D.J.T.), and that the payments were made for the specific purpose of preventing the adverse publicity regarding these affairs from surfacing close to the 2016 election and adversely influencing its outcome. In other words, Special Prosecutor Mueller now has reliable and overwhelming evidence that directly implicates Trump in a conspiracy to violate the federal campaign finance laws, among other offenses.

Although not disclosed yesterday, it is likely that Cohen also has a sealed cooperation agreement already in place with the federal prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York, or that he will have one finalized soon, and it is likely that Cohen can fill in at least some of the missing dots between Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and Trump’s personal knowledge of and active participation in his Campaign’s efforts to “collude with” or at least benefit from such interference.  If, for example, Cohen can confirm that Trump had prior knowledge of (and consent to) the fateful June 9, 2016 Trump Tower meeting between Don (“I love it”) Jr., Manafort and other key Trump Campaign officials with high-level Russian operatives, then even Trump will be forced to eliminate (or at least substantially tone down) his “No Collusion” rhetoric.

With the mounting evidence against both Don Jr. and Don Sr. for both Conspiracy against the United States (Title 18, Section 371) and campaign finance law violations (for solicitation and agreement to accept a thing of benefit – opposition research, etc. — from a foreign source (and a hostile one at that) – Mueller will have sufficient evidence to either return a grand jury indictment against both of them or, return an indictment against only Don Jr. and issue a report to Congress and the American people as to President Trump. While there is nothing in the US Constitution that prohibits an indictment against a sitting President, all reports seem to indicate that Mueller will follow US. Dept. of Justice Guidelines, which presently prohibit the indictment of a sitting president.

The conviction of Manafort on eight felony counts is equally bad news for the President. While the specific charges on which Manafort was found guilty do not directly implicate Trump, the Manafort conviction underscores the growing public recognition that Trump actually went out of his way to surround himself with people who were well-known as having close connections with the Russians and who could further Trump’s pro-Russian agenda. For example, Manafort made millions of dollars as the chief advisor to pro-Russian former Ukraine President Viktor Yanakovich, and Manafort also represented Oleg Deripaska, the Russian oligarch who was part of Putin’s inner circle.

Since Manafort is already facing the prospect of spending the rest of his natural life in federal prison based on the charges for which he has already been convicted – without even factoring the additional charges he is facing in federal court in the District of Columbia or the remaining 10 charges that the Virginia federal jurors could not agree on – it is likely that his lawyer’s public announcement that “he is considering all of his options” means that he is finally coming to terms with the fact that he must start cooperating with the Mueller probe if he ever wants to walk freely upon this earth ever again. This means that the Mueller team will very shortly be signing up Manafort as yet another witness confirming that the June 9, 2016 Trump Tower meeting was blessed by President Trump, and was part of an ongoing effort by Trump Campaign operatives to get help from any and all available sources, including the Russians, and no matter how illegal were the methods used to obtain Hillary Clinton’s stolen emails.  After all, Trump publicly invited Wikileaks to do whatever was necessary to obtain Hillary Clinton’s “missing” emails, and since he must have known that Wikileaks was nothing more than a Russian front organization by 2016, the conclusion that what Trump was really doing was to invite Russian meddling with the 2016 presidential election barely requires much of a stretch.

In short, the Manafort conviction and the Cohen plea agreement dramatically signal that the Mueller investigation is close to assembling a critical mass of evidence that Trump has engaged in “high crimes and misdemeanors” that, at the very least, constitute impeachable – if not indictable – offenses. The smell of Treason is truly in the air.

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