August 22, 2018

Sex, Scandal, and Serious Politics

Cohen, Daniels, Trump, and Kavanaugh

by Chris Thomas

Photo by Sebastian Pichler on Unsplash

Stop. Breathe. Focus.

The news out of Manhattan and Alexandria is a whirlwind of salacious and titillating details. Manafort found guilty on eight counts of tax and bank fraud. Cohen pleads guilty to covering up the President’s extramarital affairs with a porn-star and a Playboy bunny. But that’s Tuesday. We still have more than half of the news cycle ahead of us.

You’re going to be told that this doesn’t matter. That Manafort is a good guy, targeted by a corrupt investigation. That Cohen is a snake seeking to drag the President’s good name through the mud. You’re going to be told that the entire thing — the sex, the lies, the fraud, and the dirty money don’t matter, that they’re non-stories hucked by a licentious media trying to profit off the pernicious and the sordid.

Don’t believe a word of it.

Laid bare, this is not a story about sex or about money. It’s a story about power, law, and accountability. Forget all of the juicy details: the following three things are incontrovertibly true.

  1. Michael Cohen bought Stormy Daniels’ silence in the run-up to the 2016 election in clear and willful violation of campaign finance laws.
  2. Michael Cohen made that deal on the direct order of Donald Trump.
  3. Donald Trump won the electoral college by the thinnest of margins — just 80,000 votes in three states.

Those three bullet points are a spear aimed at the Oval Office. Cohen’s testimony and his confession lay out plainly and clearly that Donald Trump was engaged in a conspiracy to defraud the United States and to violate campaign finance law that very likely influenced an election.

That 👏 is 👏 a👏 crime.

But it’s remarkably unclear if the President can actually be charged with a crime. It’s never happened before and the idea of the Executive Branch being forced to answer to the Judicial Branch is not one that the founding fathers saw fit to elaborate upon in their drafting of the Constitution. If charged or if subpoenaed, the Supreme Court will have to decide if the President can face charges or be compelled to testify.

And if Brett Kavanaugh is confirmed to the Supreme Court when or if that case comes before it, his answer will most likely be “no.” No, the President can’t be charged with a crime because he is above the law. No, the President can’t be compelled to testify because he is not answerable to the courts.

Brett Kavanaugh will claim that it is Congress’ responsibility. And it is Congress’ responsibility. It is Congress’ responsibility to investigate the President, though they haven’t. It is Congress’ responsibility to protect the special counsel’s office, though they’re refused to. It it Congress’ responsibility to ensure that the Court does not become just another rubber stamp for a lawless, shameless, criminal administration.

It will decide that last one in September, with a Judiciary Committee hearing to start September 4th.

Tell Congress What You Think

Despite the titillating nature of the conspiracy, these are serious charges and it falls to the Congress to ensure that they’re taken seriously. Without pressure they won’t do that. The Republican House won’t consider impeachment and the Republican Senate will vote to confirm a Supreme Court Justice who will place the President above the law. You can tell them not to. You can write to your Representatives and Senators by sending the word Resist to Resistbot on Facebook Messenger, Telegram, or as a Twitter direct message. If none of those work for you, Resistbot also supports old fashioned SMS: text RESIST to 50409 to get started. It takes 2 minutes to make a difference.

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