Trump on the crimes of his pals: ‘Everyone does it!’
Carolyn Kaster/AP

In the two days following the convictions of his campaign manager, Paul Manafort, and his personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, President Trump has repeatedly dismissed the importance of the rule of law and has indicated that the numerous fraud crimes for which his friends were convicted are things that most people do.

Along with these outrageous claims, he tried to downplay the significance of the Manafort crimes, in particular, with one of his tweets:

“A large number of counts, ten, could not even be decided in the Paul Manafort case. Witch Hunt!”

In an interview with the press, a juror who said she was a supporter of Trump, reported that there was only one lone holdout, also a Trump supporter, who refused to go along with the rest of the jurors on the other ten counts. Hardly the split jury the president would have you believe.

In any case, Manafort was convicted of fraud connected to his work for gangsters and politicians in Ukraine, for which he faces ten years in the slammer. Trump fails to explain why his campaign manager is on his way to another trial where he faces charges of money laundering and jury tampering, charges for which he could be put away for most of his life.

Trump is complaining about how “unfair” it is to try a man for things that happened “12 years ago.” That claim is false. Manafort was convicted of filing false tax returns for as recent as 2014 and defrauding a bank in 2016. Trump is trying to dismiss Manafort’s crimes as a mere “tax case” involving paperwork errors when, in fact, they are premeditated, ongoing schemes designed to defraud the U.S. government and the people over many years.

In his interview with Fox News yesterday, Trump also tried to assert that, truth be told, campaign finance crimes are not really crimes and that Obama had also committed them.

Both of these statements are lies.

Trump ordered Cohen to pay Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal in order to prevent them from telling the media in the fall of 2016 that they had had sexual relationships with Trump while he was married to Melania Trump. The payouts were done to save Trump’s chances of winning the election, to influence the election results, in other words, and they were covered up and not reported as the law requires. The Obama campaign had been fined for something entirely different—failing to report a contribution in a timely fashion. The campaign was not accused of trying to hide or prevent the public from learning about the donation nor was Obama himself even involved in the case.

Trump also claimed in the Fox interview that he knew about the Cohen payouts to the women but not until after they were done. We know that is false because tapes made by Cohen in September on which the president is heard discussing the plans for the payouts have already been made public.

Most of the rest of Trump’s excuses for his pals’ crimes—-and his own-—seem to actually accept the idea that he, the president, is a criminal, but “So what?”

Even if he did commit these acts, “Why would you want to impeach me when I’m doing such a good job?” he asked. He warned that if he were impeached the stock market would crash and “everyone would be poor.” Pointing to his head, he said, “Without this thinking, you would see numbers that you wouldn’t believe, in reverse.”

He brought up Hillary Clinton again, saying she got off for “worse” crimes—the hiding of her emails—and he raked up the disproven charge again that Obama had “bugged” Trump Tower.

Incredibly, Trump called for the outlawing of “flipping.” He complained that it is unfair that low-level criminals get off the hook with reduced sentences or lighter punishment when they “rat” on their superiors and said the longstanding prosecutorial practice in the U.S. should be banned because it is “unfair.” To whom? Presumably, he means to the big criminal, himself, at the top.

He also said that the investigations of his involvement are unfair because their purpose is to “get” him, and the crimes uncovered during that process would never have been discovered had the prosecutors not been out to “get” him.

So we are at the point in the horror show now where the president all but admits that he is a criminal, assures us that it’s okay because almost everyone would commit the same crime, and warns us that if we allow him to be impeached there will be big trouble.

Those are three good reasons to turn out in massive numbers at the polls this November to reject Trump, Trumpism, and all the Republicans up and down the line who remain silent in this assault on democracy, the Constitution, and human decency.


CONTRIBUTOR

John Wojcik
John Wojcik

John Wojcik is editor in chief at Peoplesworld.org. He started as labor editor of the People's World in May, 2007 after working as a union meat cutter in northern New Jersey. There he served as a shop steward, as a member of a UFCW contract negotiating committee, and as an activist in the union's campaign to win public support for Wal-Mart workers. In the 1970s and '80s he was a political action reporter for the Daily World, this newspaper's predecessor, and active in electoral politics in Brooklyn, New York.

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