It’s an opinion and a headline. But the U.S. attorney catechized Cohen into the claim that it was a campaign contribution when, in fact, Trump paid Cohen’s bills and a candidate can contribute to his own campaign. It will likely be found, if necessary, that a prosecutor cannot indict an incumbent president, and has to send anything regarded as incriminating evidence to the House Judiciary Committee for possible action. Even the incoming chairman of that committee, Jerrold Nadler, whose every fifth word since the last presidential election has been “impeachment,” will have difficulty imagining that this tawdry and comical business has legs as an impeachment case. Cohen is charged, inter alia, with lying to Congress, and if every such episode in the pre-presidential lives of U.S. presidents were judged as retroactively impeachable, at least ten previous presidents would be dragged from their honored immortality and besmirched. It is obvious that both Mueller (with former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort) and the federal prosecutors in New York (with Michael Cohen) are negotiating sentences in exchange for the confection of more damaging evidence against the president. In any serious foreign jurisdiction, the prosecutors would be disbarred, though this perverted plea-bargain system is the core of American criminal justice and its North Korean levels of conviction.
It is all nonsense; it has always been nonsense, but it is ineluctable. Adam Schiff, the incoming chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, claims that the president may be imprisoned after the end of his term. As long as the Democrats continue to pretend that they have a legal reason to destroy the president, the president’s supporters will pursue the Democrats, led by Hillary Clinton, James Comey, his deputy FBI director Andrew McCabe, former intelligence directors James Clapper and John Brennan, and former attorney general Loretta Lynch, for what clearly seems to be lying to federal officials or Congress, and involvement in a fraudulent FISA surveillance warrant or renewal. The heaviest and fiercest phase of this struggle may be about to begin.