Is Trump Worried About Impeachment? - Rolling Stone
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Is Trump Worried About Impeachment?

Democrats and federal investigators are closing in on the president, whose claims of innocence are wearing thin

President Donald Trump clasps he steps on stage to speak at a rally, in Macon, Ga, Nov 4, 2018President Donald Trump clasps he steps on stage to speak at a rally, in Macon, Ga, Nov 4, 2018

President Trump at a rally in Macon, Georgia, Nov 4th, 2018

John Bazemore/AP/Shutterstock

It’s been obvious for months that President Trump was lying when he said he did not direct Michael Cohen to make hush money payments to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal prior to the 2016 election. On Thursday morning, he essentially admitted it, tweeting that the responsibility would have fallen on his former lawyer-fixer, not himself, to determine whether the payments were legal. “I never directed Michael Cohen to break the law,” Trump wrote. “He was a lawyer and he is supposed to know the law. It is called ‘advice of counsel,’ and a lawyer has great liability if a mistake is made.”

Trump went on to claim that “many campaign finance lawyers” agree “strongly” that he did nothing wrong, and that “this was not campaign finance.” Campaign finance law does apply, though, if the payments in question were made to aid the campaign. Cohen and American Media Inc., the tabloid publisher that bought the rights to McDougal’s story of her alleged affair with Trump, have both admitted this to be the case.

The difference between criminal and civil charges is whether Trump knowingly broke the law. This is hard to prove, although some would argue that Trump repeatedly lying about his knowledge of the payments implies he knows he did something wrong. Regardless of his attempts to downplay the severity of the charges, the SDNY believes Trump conspired with Cohen to commit a felony. This isn’t a good look for a sitting president, and it’s an even worse look for a civilian, which Trump could become as soon as January 2021, or, if he is impeached, far earlier. According to NBC News, the president is growing concerned over the “earlier” scenario, telling friends he is “alarmed” by the prospect of being removed from office.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), the incoming chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, told CNN on Sunday that it appears that Trump is at the center of “several massive frauds against the American people,” and that he may have committed “impeachable offenses.” It is Nadler who would oversee a potential impeachment of the president, and he may have even more evidence to consider by the time he takes over the judiciary committee next month. “The entire question about whether the president committed an impeachable offense now hinges on the testimony of two men: David Pecker and Allen Weisselberg, both cooperating witnesses in the SDNY investigation,” a source close to the president told NBC.

Pecker is the CEO of AMI, which is cooperating with the SDNY in order to avoid prosecution. Weisselberg is the longtime chief financial officer of the Trump Organization who knows more about Trump’s financial dealings that almost anyone. In August, he was granted immunity by federal prosecutors in exchange for his cooperation, which could aid a number of investigations. This is not good for Trump, especially as Nadler and other congressional Democrats circle the president like vultures. Rep. Adam Schiff (R-CA), the incoming chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, has hinted that his party could seek to obtain Trump’s tax returns as they investigate potential financial crimes. On Wednesday, he argued that the Justice Department should “re-examine” its policy of not indicting a sitting president. “I don’t think that the Justice Department ought to take the position — and it’s certainly not one that would be required in any way by the Constitution — that a president merely by being in office can be above the law … by waiting out the statute of limitations,” he said on CNN.

Though he may be sweating behind closed doors, the Very Stable Genius leading the Very Smoothly Running White House has assured Americans he’s not worried and that everything is fine. “It’s hard to impeach somebody who hasn’t done anything wrong and who’s created the greatest economy in the history of our country,” Trump told Reuters on Tuesday, adding that he’s “not concerned” and that people would “revolt” if he were to be impeached.

So unconcerned is Trump that a few hours after pinning the blame on Cohen Thursday, he returned to Twitter to argue that the special counsel’s office recommended Michael Flynn serve no prison time not because he sat with investigators for more than 60 hours and turned over hundreds of pages of documents, but because investigators “were embarrassed by the way he was treated.” Trump described Flynn lying to federal agents about his contacts with Russia during the transition as “the smallest of misstatements.”

The president capped off his morning with a familiar flourish.

In This Article: Donald Trump


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