The president’s lawyer Michael Cohen is about to go to prison for fiscal crimes committed while paying off Trump’s whores.
That seems to be the female type the leader of the free world favours both on a one-off basis and in more permanent arrangements.
However, I hasten to reassure Trump fans, preference for ladies of easy virtue, or bad taste in general, doesn’t constitute a criminal offence. If it did, the length of Trump’s ties and his tendency of topping a business suit with a baseball cap would put him in prison for life.
(America seems to be peculiar in that many scions of rich families, born with a silver spoon stuck into various orifices and then getting the best education money can buy, can still emerge with the manners, tastes and grammar of a lout. Trump is far from unique in that respect – there’s evidently a social premium attached to being prolier-than-thou there.)
By itself, the whore incident falls into the ‘boys will be boys’ category – a billionaire businessman, especially one running for president, isn’t going to do his own dirty work. If some talkative slut needs shutting up, one of his flunkies will happily act as an intermediary.
Alas, the incident doesn’t stand by itself. Cohen testified that Trump had instructed him to pay off the ladies specifically to affect the outcome of the presidential election. Moreover, the pay-off had violated campaign funding laws, which is undeniably a crime.
However, wonders Cohen’s lawyer Lanny Davis, “If those payments were a crime for Michael Cohen, then why wouldn’t they be a crime for Donald Trump?” Exactly. And I’m sure he isn’t the only one asking that question.
However, it’s what Davis said next that may well make Trump revise his teetotalism and break out a bottle of cheap bourbon (I assume his taste in food and drink parallels his taste in women):
“Mr Cohen has knowledge on certain subjects that should be of interest to the special counsel and is more than happy to tell the special counsel all that he knows.”
That suggests that part of the plea bargain deal Cohen struck included his willingness to cooperate with the Mueller investigation into the links between the Trump campaign and Putin’s junta.
Those links, continued the lawyer, were “not just about the obvious possibility of a conspiracy to collude and corrupt the American democracy system in the 2016 election, which the Trump Tower meeting was all about, but also knowledge about the computer crime of hacking and whether or not Mr Trump knew ahead of time about that crime and even cheered it on.”
Trump is so thoroughly surrounded by a sea of dirt that it’s impossible for him to remain pristinely clean. The sea is engulfing one of his associates after another.
Michael Flynn, his first National Security Adviser, has admitted to lying to special investigators about his conversations with a Russian ambassador in December 2016. He’s cooperating with the special counsel.
Trump’s foreign-policy adviser George Papadopoulos, who has pleaded guilty to a similar charge, is also cooperating.
Altogether, some 30 American and Western nationals have been indicted during the course of the Mueller investigation – on top of 25 Russians, who make up the numbers nicely, even though they’ll never be extradited by Putin.
Some of the Trump entourage may not have been charged with the specific offence of election tampering, but they are still Putin’s agents in all but name.
Paul Manafort, Trump’s campaign chairman, has been found guilty of a whole raft of pecuniary crimes, all of them springing from his efforts either to launder the payments he received from Russian gangsters, such as Yanukovych and Deripaska, or to evade paying taxes on them.
(Manafort, incidentally, spent some of his loot on buying things like python coats and ostrich jackets – exactly the sort of garments favoured by Russian nouveaux riches gangsters. Though Trump displays his rotten taste differently, I wonder if he chose Manafort because he detected a kindred spirit.)
Trump’s reaction to the simultaneous convictions of Manafort and Cohen resembled a needle stuck in a rut of a broken LP: “Where is the collusion? You know, they’re still looking for collusion! Where is the collusion? Find some collusion. We want to find the collusion.”
Well, give it time. Seek and ye shall find, says the good book, and Mueller is certainly seeking. He has already found the second best thing: the intimate links of Trump’s confidants and family members with the Russians.
So far he hasn’t subpoenaed Trump himself, and the president is in no rush to testify. In that connection, his personal lawyer Rudi Giuliani, made several astonishing statements.
Trump, he said, shouldn’t testify because he might be “trapped into perjury”. The interviewer suggested that the best way to sidestep that trap is to tell the truth, but Mr Giuliani disagreed.
“Truth”, he said, “isn’t truth”. That statement sounds positively Orwellian, but Mr Giuliani didn’t mean it that way.
It’s just that, according to him, former FBI director James Comey may say one thing, Trump another and, if Mueller chooses to believe the former, there’s the president, done for perjury.
I find it astounding that a US President and his counsel may have such little faith in the American legal system. Surely it takes more than one word against another to convict anyone of perjury?
Such charges won’t stick unless supported by evidence and testimony of multiple witnesses. Hence Trump’s fear of persecution is one step removed from taking the Fifth, which isn’t an option a president can exercise with political impunity.
Truth, Mr Giuliani, is truth, and it will out. Trump may avoid criminal charges, but I’d be surprised if he served out his term. As Richard Nixon could have told him, it’s hard to withstand a congressional investigation backed up by near-unanimity in the press.
If Trump is guilty, he should go, though I for one would be sorry if that were to happen. The American, and Western in general, political establishment needs shaking up, and Trump is doing just that.
However, if one-tenth of the allegations made in Chris Unger’s book House of Trump, House of Putin are true, our hero isn’t fit to occupy a political office. Even his fitness to remain at large is in doubt.
The president is screaming “witch hunt” at an ever-increasing pitch. Then again, who but the witches would shout that the loudest?