With President Donald Trump implicated as a coconspirator in committing campaign finance violations by his lawyer Michael Cohen in court this week, his presidency enters a new and dire chapter. Trump’s immediate reaction was to discredit Cohen as a liar, however, the plea deal Cohen entered in court where he implicated the President in a felony could not have been entered if the judge and prosecutor did not have serious evidence corroborating his statement. Trump’s implication has sent shockwaves through Washington but Republicans have been mostly silent on the issue and do not want to upset their political base which remains loyal to the President.
The implication of Trump in a serious campaign crime brings up the prospect of impeachment. A sitting president cannot be tried for a crime, and that is where the tool of impeachment comes in. Since impeachment is not an act of the judiciary, it makes it an inherently political matter. It will depend completely on votes in Congress. Democrats have been mostly quiet about discussing impeachment since Cohen implicated Trump and are waiting not only until after the midterms which promises to give them control of the House, but until after Mueller and others finish their investigations.
Even though there are several investigations that could further implicate Trump in a crime or crimes, Trump remains focused on the Mueller investigation. Almost daily, he tries to discredit the Mueller investigation by calling it a “witch hunt” and “hoax” despite the fact those close to Trump have either plead guilty to serious crimes or by a grand jury. Paul Manafort was found guilty of tax evasion and bank fraud on the same afternoon as Cohen’s plea. Trump points out that Paul Manafort’s trial had nothing to do with Russian collusion in an effort to discredit the investigation, however, the Special Counsel’s investigators only found Manafort’s financial crimes when investigating his links to individuals with ties to Russia. In Paul Manafort’s case, he was working for and receiving unreported payments from a Ukrainian oligarch with ties to Vladimir Putin.
There will be other shoes most likely to fall, especially in the Special Counsel investigation. Serious questions still remain about the June 9, 2016 meeting with Russian representatives in Trump Tower. Through emails released by Donald Trump Jr., we know the meeting was set up to gain dirt on the Clinton campaign in an effort by the Russians to support the Trump campaign. That in itself is illegal, however, the emails do not show Donald Trump himself knew of the meeting. Though there are some indications that may show otherwise. Evidence of phone calls made by Trump Jr. to a blocked number immediately before and after the meeting is circumstantial evidence that Trump could have been aware of the meeting further implicating him in another crime. There also has been grumblings in the press Michael Cohen is willing to testify that he was present when Trump was notified of and approved the Trump Tower meeting. Though, it is unclear if that reporting is accurate with recent attempts by Cohen’s lawyer walking back the story.
Michael Cohen implicating President Trump in a serious crime will not in and of itself be enough to impeach Trump. Democrats know this and are smart to wait until not only the Mueller investigation, but the other investigations surrounding Trump are complete. They know it will take more findings of wrongdoing to upend the Trump presidency, but Cohen’s damming admission in court does further tighten the noose Trump has put himself in.