As everyone knows, Cohen and Manafort were convicted.
Does this means I was wrong about my earlier predictions about Trump? No, because I predicted he would not be impeached and he would serve out his full term. The legal consensus seems to be that even if Trump broke campaign finance laws, it is unlikely a resolution to impeach Trump will get enough votes, and even in the unlikely event it happens, it still needs a super-majority from the Senate for Trump to be removed from office. And then even if that happens, a Pence presidency would actually be better in some respects than Trump because he may have more success with legislation. There is no way the left can possibly come out ahead on this, unless somehow Pence is also impeached, which is only a possibility if he too broke the law.
Also what does “high crimes and misdemeanors” mean? A misdemeanor can be as small as stealing a DVD from Target. A ‘high crime’ can be as serious as espionage or treason. It works to Trumps’s advantage that, even if he broke the law, campaign finance law is on the lowest rung of outrage, on par with Marijuana possession and steroids in baseball. It just is not a serious crime (relative to , say, murder, treason, or espionage ) and my guess is the ‘general public’ doesn’t care that much. If you think I’m only saying this because I support Trump, I felt the same way regarding Clinton during the Lewinsky scandal, which I thought was overblown [yes, he committed perjury, but the stakes were so small, much of the public did not care, and it’s likely his impeachment was motivated by revenge for Nixon’s impeachment].
Also, and even more importantly, campaign finance laws are confusing and arbitrary (such as the donation reporting limits or what constitutes a ‘contribution’), and it’s understandable if Trump was ignorant of the details. And if Trump is guilty, it’s guaranteed he’s not the only one violating these seemingly arbitrary rules, and I don’t think its in anyone’s best interests to have this spiral out of control like the #metoo movement has. The fact there is so much debate online about whether or not Trump broke the law, works to Trump’s favor because it shows the case is not as cut and dry some on the left assume, but rather is more ambiguous.
The media is trying to create a consensus in order to advance their underlying narrative/agenda. This means churning out tons of headlines and op-eds about impeachment and Trump breaking the law, as if it’s a matter of fact.
A counterargument and common misconception is that Trump broke the law to cover a crime. Yes, maybe he broke the law (he is not named a defendant, and his guilt cannot be presumed), but if the hush money itself was not used to cover a crime, then then it will only remain a campaign finance issue and not not a full-fledged criminal matter. If Trump paid money to cover up election fraud rather than an affair, then, yeah, that would be bad. But accidentally breaking some arbitrary and confusing campaign finance regulation in order to hide an affair, is not that bad in the eyes of the general public and likely Congress too.
[[Even though this works to Trump’s disadvantage, a case could be made for an amendment or exception that overrides the Presidential Succession Act, in the event of impeachment and or resignation over criminal matters, but not for incapacitation. In the event of criminality, the losing party would be allowed accede power of the executive branch, so Hillary (or some democrat) would become president and could appoint her own cabinet. Imagine an extreme scenario in which a candidate egregiously breaks the law to become president, knowing that if impeached his vice president, who has a clean record, will replace him and carry out his orders. Was it fair for Nixon to resign so early and then Gerald Ford to become president for the remaining 3 years of Nixon’s term despite the former breaking the law?]]
Furthermore, House Democrats have not expressed much interest in impeaching Trump, and Nancy Pelosi opposes impeachment. If even Elizabeth Warren does not want impeachment, good luck. Polls also show a 2018 ‘blue wave’ to be unlikely, so Democrats are unlikely to ever get enough votes unless either the GOP defects, which is unlikely, or information is revealed that is so grave that even Trump’s own party votes him out to save face, which is also unlikely. There is talk that Cohen could work out a deal with Mueller in exchange for a shorter sentence, but this would only be helpful if Cohen is privy to knowledge linking Trump to election fraud, which I doubt he has. If Trump were smart he could pardon Cohen to ensure this does not happen, but according to sources Cohen will not accept the pardon.
My prediction is, everything stalls. There may be a tacit understanding that campaign finance laws may have been broken, but no one will want to make the next move, pending further information. It remains to be seen how this will effect Trump’s public image. Being that campaign finance law, to the average American, is as interesting as reading fine print, my guess is not much. Trump can resort to his usual tools of talking-up the economy and nationalism to build support, such as on Twitter and giving speeches, which seems to be an effective strategy for him. We’ll see what happens.