Trump under siege
By Grace Vuoto
President Donald Trump’s longtime aide and personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, is under intense scrutiny by law enforcement. This week, federal agents raided his home, office and hotel room, seizing documents and electronic devices. What are they looking for? What crime might he be prosecuted for?
The unnerving truth is that, right now, we do not know. Are the feds pursuing evidence of bank fraud, wire fraud, campaign finance law violations or salacious information regarding payments made to two women who claim to have had a sexual relationship with Trump and received “hush money” prior to his election? How grave or innocuous are Cohen’s crimes? What standard was used to obtain this warrant? Was a vigorous set of criteria used or a rubber stamp? Is this a flagrant violation of the attorney-client privilege or a justifiable pursuit of justice based on evidence of a criminal conspiracy? The facts have not yet been fully reported.
There is impartial information disseminated by the press. Nonetheless, the president is being advised very strongly by some supporters to start firing members of the Justice Department. Conservative talk radio host Mark Levin urges the firing of Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Former campaign strategist Steve Bannon suggests ousting Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein who is in charge of the Russia investigation following the recusal of Sessions. And Fox Business television host Lou Dobbs thinks it is time for Special Counsel Robert Mueller to be given the boot.
Yet, even if Trump made an aggressive move against one or all three of these men, the results would be the same: his presidency is in jeopardy. None of these dismissals would change the fundamental dynamics of the situation.
The case against Cohen is proceeding through the southern district of New York and will continue along this track regardless of the president’s actions. In addition, if there is any linkage of criminal activity between Cohen and Trump, the president will be legally prohibited form ousting Mueller or urging any member of the Justice Department to do so. In other words, Trump has been boxed in.
Furthermore, there is a deep divide within the GOP between those who believe the Justice Department is out of control and those who swear by its integrity and are vowing to impeach the president if he stands in the way of the Special Counsel. Without the GOP solidly behind him, any ousting will not end the probes; there will only be more ammunition to pursue a case of obstruction of justice. Again, Trump is boxed in.
Worst of all, the president’s maverick chickens are coming home to roost: He campaigned as an anti-Republican while running on the Republican ticket. Now, Trump supporters revile the GOP for failing to buttress the president’s populist agenda and are not in the mood to support the party in the midterms. This means Trump is in danger of being left dangling on a political ledge: the titular head of the GOP with not enough party members elected in the House and Senate to avert the growing, malignant Democratic “blue wave” rising to impeach him.
At every turn, there is no way out of political paralysis and possibly impending calamity.
As children, we learn that sometimes the most difficult act is to be silent. As adults, we learn that sometimes the most difficult course is being patient, doing nothing at all.
Trump should do what so far he has proven incapable of doing: watch, wait, be quiet, write nothing, tweet nothing, do nothing. For, the truth has a very big mouth.
If he is innocent of all wrongdoing, as he said from the start, that fact will be the most powerful catalyst of his presidency: It alone can smash all the boxes he is in, no matter how evil and Machiavellian are the forces that engulf him.
–Grace Vuoto is the Communications Director of the Boston Broadside and a columnist.