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Free Minds & Free Markets

Trump Might Be a Criminal. But So Is Everyone Else.

A question that now hangs like a miasma over D.C. is “Which of my staffers would hang me out to dry in order to avoid going to federal prison?”

Thomas Scaggs/ZUMA Press/NewscomThomas Scaggs/ZUMA Press/NewscomDonald Trump has been credibly accused by his own lawyer of participating in a conspiracy to violate campaign finance laws. And he is going to skate.

Indeed, I predict Trump will emerge from the Michael Cohen kerfuffle more powerful, more energized, and more electable than he was going in. And it's going to drive his opponents insane.

Let me say up front that I am not grinding an ax here. I believe Trump is a terrible role model, an unprincipled strongman, and an atrocious emissary of American values. But he keeps outfoxing his opponents, and I think he's about to do so again.

The first thing to understand is that there are so many laws, so broadly written, that just about anyone who has earned money, paid taxes, and run a business—or, God forbid, a political campaign—can be credibly accused of multiple criminal violations. Harvey Silverglate's estimate that the average American commits three felonies a day may be high, but his basic point is sound.

As a result, America's social elite have granted themselves free passes to commit a broad array of nonviolent offenses without fear of prosecution. Those passes are quite valuable, because their holders can do riskier business deals, ignore more tax laws, and take fewer precautions (in the handling of classified materials, for example) than non-holders. While the passes are revocable in theory, they are seldom revoked in practice.

Until Robert Mueller, revoker of passes, came upon his pale horse. And indictments followed with him.

Which brings us to the felon of the day, President Trump's Falstaffian former fixer, Michael Cohen. (Yes, he was technically indicted by the Southern District of New York, but the referral came from Mueller.) With great fanfare, prosecutors on Tuesday released a 22-page criminal information charging Cohen with five counts of tax evasion, one count of bank fraud, and two campaign-finance violations. That's it? That's like raiding Keith Richards' medicine cabinet and coming back with a half-empty bottle of Nyquil. Where are the five-years-a-pop federal wiretapping charges for secretly taping conversations with Trump and others? Where are the de rigueur charges of lying to investigators? And most notably, where's the deep dive into Cohen's reported associations with members of New York's professional criminal class—the one that rhymes with "snob"?

We can only speculate, but a strong possibility is that the feds wanted Cohen banged up enough to get him singing but not enough to destroy his credibility—in which case, mission accomplished! Or was it?

Here's the problem. Nowadays, federal prosecutions are more transactional than adversarial. Some 97 percent of federal criminal convictions are obtained through plea bargains, which means both sides are there to deal. What defendants want is obvious: the lightest sentence possible, preferably with no prison time. Normally, prosecutors' primary goal is a fast, trouble-free conviction to put in their stat book so they can move right on to the next one. But Cohen, of course, had more to offer—a credible allegation that Donald Trump instructed him to commit multiple campaign violations for the purpose of influencing the outcome of the 2016 presidential election. Heady stuff.

But it's going nowhere, because of Hillary Clinton. Make that every Democrat who's ever run for federal office. Given how complex and abstruse campaign finance laws are, can any candidates be 100 percent confident they committed zero violations? Or, more to the point, that they cannot be credibly alleged to have committed violations? A question that now hangs like a miasma over Washington—a question no sitting legislator really wants answered—is "Which of my staffers would hang me out to dry in order to avoid going to federal prison?" Do you think the folks at Fusion GPS wouldn't start singing like an aria of canaries if they got the Michael Cohen treatment from federal investigators taking a serious look at who paid for what opposition research with which funds?

That leaves us with a president who cannot be criminally indicted and a Congress whose members have the constitutional authority to impeach and remove him for campaign finance violations, but only at the risk of exposing themselves to the very same charges—charges that none of them can be perfectly confident won't stick. Remember those free passes? I doubt many senators or representatives would be willing to give up their passes just to impeach President Trump. To borrow a line from A Man for All Seasons: "And when the last free pass was revoked, and the President turned round on you—where would you hide, Senator, all the free passes being revoked?"

Photo Credit: Thomas Scaggs/ZUMA Press/Newscom

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  • Hamster of Doom||

    I'm only a few paragraphs in, and his logic is sound, his spelling is good, and he quotes Johnny Cash.

    Delightful. Keep up the good work.

  • Cynical Asshole||

    Plus, his first sentence is guaranteed to trigger certain Trump supporters, who will stop reading and rush to the comments section to trash yet another "lefty scumbag from [t]reason magazine" without even realizing they're just making themselves look stupid.

  • John||

    Except that hasn't happened. The first sentence is just the usual comical virtue signaling and throat clearing. It is more sad than anything.

  • ||

    I think it's an unfortunate by necessary evil when you're trying to expand the number of eyeballs who'll read your piece beyond the usual suspects. Not doing it entails the risk of not getting your message out as broadly as you'd like.

  • tpaine||

    Clark Neely!
    Welcome to publishing at Reason sir. And thank you for your years of valuable service at The Institute for Justice, where you taught so many of us about the 14th Amendment.
    You have managed to make some lawyers heroic figures.
    I hope your stay at Cato is fun and fruitful, you will always be a god-damned American hero to me.

  • JoeBlow123||

    I am not sure what was said in here you can object to. Trump is slimy and amoral and corrupt. But so are his critics. Which is what many people like myself see and consequently why we don't give a hoot about this story.

  • Fancylad||

    It's called the "Trump Bump" Cynical. You have to include it or your fellow journalists will burn you as a witch.

  • LynchPin1477||

    Paraphrasing Revelations, but Cash also quoted it, and Johnny Cash was the Voice of God on Earth, so I'll allow it.

  • Libertymike||

    No offense, but John Facenda was THE VOICE OF GOD. That man could read the Manhattan telephone directory and I would be moved.

  • MasterThief||

    I thought it was going to be another article that equivocates but declares Trump to be the biggest poopiehead ever. Was pleasantly surprised to find it is evenhanded and essentially nonpartisan.

  • DarrenM||

    Enjoy it while it lasts.

  • mr burns||

    If only the author had the faintest grasp of campaign finance law it might be a worthwhile article. A candidate can spend as much as they want on their own campaign. They can spend their own money on whatever they want even if some voters liked that spending and predisposed them to vote for the candidate. For example the candidate could give his workers bonuses, buy his wife a mink coat and donate to a hopital all of which may improve his image . None of these actions violate campaign finanace law. Paying someone for their silence as part of an NDA settlement dosn't violate campaign finance law either. Calling NDA payments hush money doesn't make them criminal. Every major corporation in this country uses NDA agreements. The entire idea that Trump cant pay someone to fullfil NDA agreements because that silence may help his election is a ridiculous interpretation of the campaign finance regulations. Using campaign funds for private purposes violates campaign finance law, campaign finanace law dosnt govern how a candidate spends their own money. Cohen plead guilty to non-existent laws.

  • Michael S. Langston||

    A candidate can spend as much as they want on their own campaign.

    That's only true if they don't use matching funds.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Trump paid into his own campaign.

  • Cyto||

    Larry Craig was accused of tapping his toe and waving his hand under a bathroom stall.

    That didn't stop the state from coming after him and it didn't stop him from pleading guilty to having a wide stance.

    It seems that our police, prosecutors and courts sometimes have what is only a passing relationship with the law.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Federal law violations threaten decades in prison for minor offenses.

    You have to have balls of steel to resist,

    Manafort did and he got 8 out of 18 charges as convictions. He was probably guilty but they are all white collar crimes. Literally crimes invented by the feds to expand their power. Manafort also knows that hes getting a trump pardon, which is something most defendants dont have as a guardian angel.

  • Cyto||

    We'll see what he gets.

    The judge could find a way to put him in jail forever.

    Or the prosecutors could come back on the other 10 and keep bleeding him dry.

    Plus they get another bite at the apple in another jurisdiction.

    Somehow I suspect that if he gets a small fine and 6 months in jail, the prosecutors will be much more likely to come after him again and the Administration will be much less likely to consider a pardon.

    But if they come down with decades in prison, that would really ratchet up the pressure for a pardon.

    Somehow I think Mueller wants to keep it in the middle, where Manafort just keeps spending millions on legal bills and rotting in jail waiting for trials. That puts more pressure on him than a 300 year sentence that is guaranteed to draw a pardon.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    The judge gave the fed prosecutors until this friday to decide on retrial.

    The mueller hacks have to decide before sentencing.

  • Agammamon||

    Right.

    I think a lot of staffers in DC are asking themselves *exactly* how much support can the depend upon from their bosses to keep them out of prison. And the answer is not pleasing.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    You know who else is a criminal?

    Oh wait, that's the point of this whole post. Carry on.

  • perlchpr||

    I laughed. Thanks. :D

  • IceTrey||

    Does paying off a couple of hookers rise to the level of high crimes and misdemeanors?

  • Sevo||

    It might. Were the hookers good looking?

  • Deplorable Victor||

    Better looking than that fat jew Slick Willie got blowjobs from...

  • Vernon Depner||

    I would say NOT paying hookers would.

  • DarrenM||

    Are they hookers if you don't pay them?

  • Enjoy Every Sandwich||

    It depends on who you ask.

  • Johnny B||

    No, it depends upon whether you have a D or an R after your name.

  • Earth Skeptic||

    But were they trafficked? (I think that means they had to dodge the cars in the street or something.)

  • Leslie the Bard||

    Hmmm, if paying a "former employee" to sign a non-disclosure agreement until a certain date is a crime, then I can see a *lot* of companies scrambling to protect their "proprietary" processes from ex-hirelings. From what I can see, Cohen was only given a lump sum to handle Trump's assorted legal nuisances, and he used part of it to pay the "former employees" for their non-disclosure agreement. The only question is whether the money came from the campaign fund or from Trump's personal funds. Big deal.

  • Michael S. Langston||

    There are no real restrictions as to what is an impeachable offense in that technically anything agreed to be a 'high crime or misdemeanor' by ebough Congress members and Senators. But as it require a majority in the House and a super-majority in the Senate, it's a high hurdle and this issue likely doesn't get over it.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Nope. Bill clinton set that precedent.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Where are the five-years-a-pop federal wiretapping charges for secretly taping conversations with Trump and others? Where are the de rigueur charges of lying to investigators? And most notably, where's the deep dive into Cohen's reported associations with members of New York's professional criminal class—the one that rhymes with "snob"?

    Here's the problem. Nowadays, federal prosecutions are more transactional than adversarial. Some 97 percent of federal criminal convictions are obtained through plea bargains, which means both sides are there to deal.

    I wonder if it's because if everyone who broke a law went to prison, 7/8ths of the country would be in jail.

  • Bob Meyer||

    All of the country would be in jail, one eighth would be guards.

  • CE||

    One eighth have already been in jail.

  • SQRLSY One||

    Welcome to "three felonies a day", bitches!!!

    I hope that what is good for the goose, is good for the gander...

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    As a result, America's social elite have granted themselves free passes to commit a broad array of nonviolent offenses without fear of prosecution. Those passes are quite valuable, because their holders can do riskier business deals, ignore more tax laws, and take fewer precautions (in the handling of classified materials, for example) than non-holders. While the passes are revocable in theory, they are seldom revoked in practice.

    Refreshing.

  • Hamster of Doom||

    Right? I hope he's giving Suderman a smug look as we speak.

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    I doubt suderman can take his eyes off of his pearls long enough to notice.

  • John||

    Those sentences sum it up quite nicely,

  • perlchpr||

    My biggest complaint about the quote is that I'm not entirely sure it's limited to "non-violent" offences.

  • JoeBlow123||

    This might be the best article I have read in some time having anything to do with politics. He is spot on.

  • Microaggressor||

    In other words, rule of law is dead, and Top Man privilege is real. But we knew that already.

    Brace for incoming whines of Whataboutism.

  • John||

    The rule of law has been dead for a while in the sense that the very top of society is no longer accountable in the same way the rest of society is.

  • Cynical Asshole||

    the very top of society is no longer accountable in the same way the rest of society is.

    I suspect it's always been this way, really.

  • John||

    True. But the very top used to have a sense of shame and at least leave public life even though they avoided going to prison. Now, they commit felonies, get caught, get away with it, and still act like they are entitled to be in charge.

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    They've always just been pining for feudalism. Thankfully these bourgeoisie notions are finally starting to crumble and we can get back to a proper civilization where everyone knew their place.

    I think this is ultimately what is at the heart of the left-right divide. Humanity is always fighting between its desire for the order of the hierarchy and the freedom (or "tyranny") of individual choice.

  • BYODB||


    I think this is ultimately what is at the heart of the left-right divide. Humanity is always fighting between its desire for the order of the hierarchy and the freedom (or "tyranny") of individual choice.


    Pretty much this, and it's one reason why cities are bastions of leftist thought in my opinion. They're sort of more regimented as a matter of course, and thus attract those who prefer regimented life. It's not a perfect theory, nor a complete one, just an observation.

  • silver.||

    A good observation. There's a lot more interdependence and collectively-determined arrangements going on in cities too, whereas a rancher may only have himself or a small support group to rely on. Not that there's necessarily anything wrong with either situation.

  • JoeBlow123||

    BYODB I am sorry, I do not agree with your hypothesis. It seems more like projection than observation.

  • afk05||

    This is a perfect summary.

  • Earth Skeptic||

    Read American Nations. Our only hope may be those fiercely independent, no-respect-for-authority hillbillies. You know, Deporables.

  • R. K. Phillips||

    Some deplorables didn't vote for Trump. Otherwise, I accept the compliment.

  • Heedless||

    And we (well not you and I, but the rest of us) keep reelecting them.

    An awful lot of our fellow citizens find the firm pressure of a boot to the neck comforting.

  • damikesc||

    They seem outraged that anybody notices what they do and are livid that people dislike living under rules they ignore,

    We are overrun with credentialed but uneducated cretins in power.

  • perlchpr||

    They seem outraged that anybody notices what they do and are livid that people dislike living under rules they ignore

    Well put.

  • Leslie the Bard||

    The solution is to break up the old comfortable two-party system, and bring in a whole lotta swing votes. "A plague on both your houses"! Vote Libertarian.

  • afk05||

    We live in a kakistocracy. It is only going to get worse. Quick, look at a Kardashian! Oops, that was close call.

    "Now, there's one thing you might have noticed I don't complain about: politicians. Everybody complains about politicians. Everybody says they suck. Well, where do people think these politicians come from? They don't fall out of the sky. They don't pass through a membrane from another reality. They come from American parents and American families, American homes, American schools, American churches, American businesses and American universities, and they are elected by American citizens. This is the best we can do folks. This is what we have to offer. It's what our system produces: Garbage in, garbage out. If you have selfish, ignorant citizens, you're going to get selfish, ignorant leaders. Term limits ain't going to do any good; you're just going to end up with a brand new bunch of selfish, ignorant Americans. So, maybe, maybe, maybe, it's not the politicians who suck. Maybe something else sucks around here... like, the public. Yeah, the public sucks. There's a nice campaign slogan for somebody: 'The Public Sucks. F*ck Hope."
    ― George Carlin

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    Look if you apply the same rules to everyone you get concentration camps. Or so I'm told.

  • ||

    Well, the Law is the Law, after all.

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    And straw bands = death camps. It is known.

  • ||

    I have no idea what you're talking about, but you seem pretty passionate about it never being okay to violate the Law.

    Did I misunderstand?

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    So Arbeit Macht Frei was just a throwaway reference that you didn't intend? Because if you apply laws, well they MAY at some future date violate your principle, therefore we should just go with our feels and call it the NAP which we totally and objectively can determine at all times.

    Did I misunderstand?

  • ||

    Did I misunderstand?

    Yes, you did. I was referring more to the self-evident contradiction in declaring absolute Rule of Law to be the essence of Liberty. There's a touch of "Slavery is Freedom, War is Peace."

    You can't "totally and objectively" determine much of anything really - it's an especially quixotic standard to expect of law and government as they relate to moral culpability.

    I suspect we're getting caught up in phrasing here, because I doubt you're really arguing that you should never check your conscience against what the law is requiring of you, and that you should never contemplate whether following a law causes more damage than not. Are you?

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    I suspect we're getting caught up in phrasing here, because I doubt you're really arguing that you should never check your conscience against what the law is requiring of you, and that you should never contemplate whether following a law causes more damage than not. Are you?

    That's the duty of a jury or a judge. And I didn't even have to violate rule of law. But selectively applying/enforcing laws can lead to some pretty untenable situations as well. I'm sure you agree with that.

  • perlchpr||

    So Arbeit Macht Frei was just a throwaway reference that you didn't intend?

    Is this some sort of weird 2018 version of Godwin where you can just accuse your opponent of having made a Nazi reference and therefore they lose?

    I think []=O was actually trying to bolster your point with snark, but then you went all batshit on him.

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    Or you could actually look at the context and realize you're wrong. Your choice.

  • ||

    If you don't have rule of law you have rule of man.

    And you never have Rule of Law.

  • perlchpr||

    Ah yes. How could I not have had an encyclopedic knowledge of every comment ever posted on Reason. My bad.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    You stole my []=O

  • perlchpr||

    It's shorter.

  • DrZ||

    "And straw bands = death camps. It is known."

    And use a plastic straw and it's death camp, at least in California.

  • Longtobefree||

    Just never get it confused with justice.

  • IceTrey||

    In court nothing matters except the opinion of the highest ranked BAR member in the room.

  • Enjoy Every Sandwich||

    In other words, this is only going to get worse. Our next President will probably be...

    I shudder to think.

  • John||

    If Trump is re-elected and remains in office for two terms, our next President will probably be a conventional Republican. If, however, they manage to throw Trump out of office, our next President will be some nutcase leftist like Harris who will be followed by a populist who will make people realize just how reasonable Trump actually is. If these morons ever do manage to run Trump out of office, the guy who follows him will be everything they tell themselves Trump is and a whole lot more.

  • damikesc||

    They will deeply miss the actually quite moderate Trump. Trump is a far right winger in the fever swamp of the Left. The Right loves him because he doesn't openly dislike them.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Throwing trump out of office menas that there is not hope for Washington and we might as well fight it out.

    There are literally criminal and incompetent Lefties accusing Trump of being an unindicted criminal. Fuck them.

    Hillary fucked America and Ameircan on numerous occasions and they didnt say Boo. Theyre all suspect.

    Hillary tried to rig election 2016 and failed. The Lefties aretrying to rig election 2018 and are failing.

    Their next move will set the tone for whether the Silent Majority needs to defend itself with Arms as per the 2nd Amendment and the written permission in the declaration of independence ...to That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness....

  • Agammamon||

    He is an unidicted criminal. But then again, so am I. And probably you too.

  • Stephen Lathrop||

    love1789, if you think insurrectionists ready to take up arms against America are anything but a tiny minority—albeit a minority hankering to fasten minority rule on everyone else—then you are truly a loon.

    Your quote from the Declaration references the "Right of the People," a term with a specific meaning. It means popular sovereignty on majority principles, just as it did at the time of the founding. If you can command that, you have no need for your fantasy of arms. If you can't command it, you have no justification.

  • Real American||

    Trump should just blame a Youtube video.

  • Bob Meyer||

    Best one-liner : Raiding Keith Richard's medicine cabinet and coming back with a half-empty bottle of Nyquil.

    I almost choked on my lunch.

  • John||

    That was good. The whole thing is so pathetic. We start out with TREASON!! and we end up with Manafort lying on his taxes nearly 20 years ago and Cohen paying off a few hookers.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    and we end up with

    The perspective of the shortsighted, legally ignorant, dense, and partisan.

    This is far from over, rube.

  • Fancylad||

    "rube"
    Rev. Fudanshi likes to say we're all rubes and hillbillies, but it makes one wonder what kind urbane sophisticate lives in his mothers basement, tugging it all day to Hetalia yaoi.

  • perlchpr||

    I believe that's actually Rev. Futanari.

  • DivideByZero||

    it makes one wonder what kind urbane sophisticate lives in his mothers basement, tugging it all day to Hetalia yaoi.

    With occasional breaks to finish 87th in Fortnite.

  • JoeBlow123||

    Yeah how is the anime going Rev? Any suggestions?

  • DivideByZero||

    This is far from over, rube.

    Narrator: it was over.

    (Sorry, I know the Narrator: bit is played out, but it just works so well in this case.)

  • Agammamon||

    This is, seriously, then end result of about 75% of Federal cases that are fought. Its one of the reasons prosecutors love them some plea bargains. Of course, some will say that its this way because the guilty cave first . . .

  • Cynical Asshole||

    New guy should be careful though, one liners like that are usually The Jacket's thing, and the The Jacket may not like being upstaged.

  • TuIpa||

    The Jacket has been phoning it in lately I doubt he'll care.

  • Agammamon||

    The damn jacket keeps trying to hook up with me on Linked-In. I might, someday, just have to make an account there and take him up on it.

  • BYODB||

    I don't know, do we think it's possible that The Jacket might be capable of finding a new host body to wear?

  • Agammamon||

    Shit! Is that why . . .

  • Juice||

    That leaves us with a president who cannot be criminally indicted and a Congress whose members have the constitutional authority to impeach and remove him for campaign finance violations, but only at the risk of exposing themselves to the very same charges—charges that none of them can be perfectly confident won't stick.

    So the US government is just one big Mexican standoff.

  • John||

    Technically a Mexican standoff involves three parties. So it is a stalemate.

  • Sometimes a Great Notion||

    So your saying there is an opening a Libertarian Moment?

  • R. K. Phillips||

    I think the Green Party has dibs. Sorry.

  • Dillinger||

    better me than some jerk points out you might want to count again the branches of US government ha

  • John||

    I thought he was talking about Congress and the President. But yeah, he meant all three branches. Good point. And that is actually a really funny joke.

  • perlchpr||

    *whistles Enrico Morricone*

  • BYODB||

    The problem, of course, is that the author didn't make the leap to realizing that the 'free pass' can be revoked by colluding parties wanting to get rid of a President neither of them like. I mean, who is going to hold them to the same standard exactly?

    Congress doesn't have any interest in regulating itself, and who else is going to regulate them? Certainly not the President or the Supreme Court.

  • Hamster of Doom||

    Have you ever seen Survivor? When it gets down to serious-business-time, almost inevitably a few players form an alliance, and it's first goal is to eliminate one specific person.

    It goes great. It's a winning strategy... right up until the alliance members start looking around at each other and wondering who's next.

    Honestly, by the time that Boston guy won, the show was downright formulaic.

  • ||

    I recently re-watched Season 1, and it was a little bit stunning in retrospect to see how naive everyone was being about thinking that the votes were always going to be merit-based.

  • Hamster of Doom||

    The siren song of our cultural stories are mesmerising. Among those stories are that we live in a meritocracy, good guys win, and we reward hard work. Those stories are only about one "I want" thick, though.

    The *last* person most people want to compete against is a competent hard worker. Especially not when there's the option to compete against a useless ignorant bastard who is universally hated.

    Pattern recognition is a survival* trait. Seeing what isn't there is common, people do it all the time. Seeing what's really in front of us - that's the tricky part. Our stories have an unbelievable hold on us.

    For me, like, the first two seasons were fun. The rest were object lessons in how much of competition involves avoiding competition.

    *Hahaha.

  • Cyto||

    No, it means that he completely misreads the situation.

    Clinton already has her get out of jail free card. We already know that they completely corrupted the primary. Is anyone even investigating it? No.

    We know for certain that people in the media were working directly with the Clinton campaign in order to secure her election. This is a blatant violation of campaign finance laws (not the act of having an opinion or supporting a candidate, but using national network TV resources specifically to aid one candidate.... that's a direct in-kind contribution to the tune of millions of dollars).

    Nobody is even hinting that they should investigate.

    You only get the elbow length rubber glove treatment if you are a threat to the state and the gravy train.

    Trump may only be a threat because he's an uncontrollable megalomaniac, or maybe because he's playing 4D chess to drain the swamp... but the threat is why the left and right of the establishment are united against him.

    Sanders and Paul might have gotten similar treatment had they been elected. Maybe. Sanders would probably have played ball though and kept increasing the size of the gravy train. Paul is willing to compromise, but he'd probably actually push for one of his 5 year balanced budget plans, and so he'd probably get torn down.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Sanders would have gotten the same treatment once Americans turned on his communist policies. He would have never been elected..

    Ron paul would have absolutely got the treatment since he wanted to tear down the state even more than trump does.

  • afk05||

    4D chess to drain the swamp? So he hires people, and then drains them? He brings the swamp and then fires them? What swamp has he drained? He has more turnover of his own staff, associates and hires than of anyone else in Washington. He is surrounded by swamp, according to him (he disparages almost everyone that no longer works for him; HE HIRED THEM!!!)

    Is there even a remote chance that HE IS THE SWAMP? How is he all that different than any of the other leeches in Washington or anyone else that he surrounds himself with?

  • Dillinger||

    >>>credibly accused

    questionably asserted.

  • John||

    I believe Trump is a terrible role model, an unprincipled strongman, and an atrocious emissary of American values.

    That is nice. I think maybe you should stop looking to politicians to be your role model or to be an emissary of anyone's values.

  • JoeBlow123||

    Individuals with an extreme amount of power should at least be expected to have a modicum of decorum and class. Perhaps you do not care about being led by amoral pieces of trash, but I personally would not want to have a boss be a self centered, petty, quick tempered narcissist.

  • Cyto||

    Where are we getting "strongman"? How does that describe Trump in any way? Sure, he admires guys like Putin for being tough. But is that enough to call him a 'Strongman"?

    When does he use threats of force or violence to get his way? As near as I can see, Trump is the one who has faced threats of force and violence.

    Trump has used threats of tweets too simpleminded to be used on a bumper sticker. Somehow that just doesn't feel "strongman".... Calling Jeb Bush "Low Energy Jeb" isn't really the same as Manuel Noriega shooting a bunch of disloyal officers or Kim Jong Un feeding his uncle to a pack of dogs.

  • Modus Pwnens||

    Get up to speed, man. Reason is using the SJW leftist dictionary these days.

    Strongman (noun)
    -- national leader who doesn't bend over and spread the cheeks for the global elites, esp. one who believes in enforcing borders

    Reason has also branded democratically elected and popular leaders such as Duterte and Orban as strongmen.

  • DarrenM||

    Where are we getting "strongman"?

    From his fantasies. Trump has to be a "strongman" for certain people so they can rationalize their partisan hatred.

  • No Yards Penalty||

    You should probably take Trump's cock out of your ass, Johnboi.

  • Jerryskids||

    I believe Trump is a terrible role model, an unprincipled strongman, and an atrocious emissary of American values. But he keeps outfoxing his opponents, and I think he's about to do so again.

    I can only halfway agree with that statement, I don't think Trump's outfoxing his opponents, he's just outpigging them. Yes, he's a terrible role model and an unprincipled strongman, but he's the real face of American values. He's big and bad and don't give a shit what you think and he doesn't try to hide it. Everybody else in Washington tries to at least pretend they have a sense of decency and shame, they try to hide what they really are. They can't figure out how to attack Trump on principled grounds because Trump has no principles and doesn't pretend to. They don't have any principles either, but pretending to have principles is way up there on the list of priorities and the fear of being exposed as having no principles is their Achilles heel.

  • Jerryskids||

    The perfect example of this is during the campaign when the matter of Trump's donations to Hillary Clinton came up. Any other politician would have tried to justify and excuse and explain and weasel their way out of it, Trump just shrugged it off as "that's how business is done, you gotta grease some palms." And the thing is, everybody knows that *is* how it works. Everybody knew Trump was telling the truth, politics is a dirty business filled with crooks and liars and money makes the world go 'round. And every last money-grubbing crook and liar acts shocked that anybody would suggest that's how things work. Every last one of them is a hypocrite on the matter of just exactly how cheap a cheap whore can be and what matter of depraved acts they'll commit for a nickel. Trump don't give a damn.

  • John||

    , Trump just shrugged it off as "that's how business is done, you gotta grease some palms." And the thing is, everybody knows that *is* how it works. Everybody knew Trump was telling the truth, politics is a dirty business filled with crooks and liars and money makes the world go 'round.

    I don't see how Trump being honest about how things are done makes him the bad guy. Don't hate the player hate the game.

  • Longtobefree||

    Speaking of investigations - - - - - -

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Trump gives a damn that the biggest crooks wont win. Hillary, comey, brennan, pelosi, Obama, boosh...

    He hires people and some turn put to be crooks and some turn out to be average people and some turn out to be great rollbackers.

    The media attacked any candidate who threw their hat in the trump ring, so your pool of candidates is already limited. This is what you get. My wife refuses to let me apply to be secretary of veterans affairs. She will divorce me.

  • ||

    They can't figure out how to attack Trump on principled grounds because Trump has no principles and doesn't pretend to. They don't have any principles either, but pretending to have principles is way up there on the list of priorities and the fear of being exposed as having no principles is their Achilles heel.

    Well said.

  • Hamster of Doom||

    Second that.

  • BYODB||

    It's also why Trump is able to use versions of Alinsky tactics on them with some degree of success.

  • JoeBlow123||

    Thirded.

  • Leslie the Bard||

    Heheheheh. Identify this movie quote:

    "I am shocked -- shocked! -- to learn that there is gambling going on here."

    "Monsieur le Capitan, your winnings."

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    he's the real face of American values.

    among the minority of Americans who are irredeemable losers, disaffected bigots, poorly educated hicks, and backwaters-inhabiting cranks, perhaps.

    Among accomplished, educated, skilled, modern, decent Americans, not even close. Trump is a used pickup with a gun rack purchased under the table from a lot next to a landfill with a payday loan, with Kenny Chesney in the CD player and a warrant sitting on the passenger seat. Destined to break down soon.

  • JoeBlow123||

    "Among accomplished, educated, skilled, modern, decent Americans, not even close."

    When you have to proclaim things like this so often it comes off tryhard. It is like a dude bragging to a chick he has a big house and a sweet car when he lives in a van down by the river. If you want to appear to look socially adjusted just turn it down a notch. Friendly suggestion.

    Also, how is the anime watching going Rev?

  • DivideByZero||

    Paragraph 1: Rev denounces bigots

    Paragraph 2: Rev demonstrates his bigotry

    Cognitive dissonance? A complete lack of self-awareness? Whatever it is, it's entertaining.

  • CatoTheChipper||

    Silvergate's 3 felonies/day is an average. It is not a mode or median value. Politicians, staff, and campaign officials no doubt commit hundreds or thousands of felonies/day. Same goes more or less for people who are actively engaged in commercial, medical, and financial industry. Pot smokers passing a joint around, same thing, if there's a gun in the house: each hand-off of the narcotic is a separate felony. Of course, no reasonable prosecutor would prosecute 99.9999% of those felonies, especially those committed by the likes of Clinton, Corzine, or any cop or government attorney. But, if a politician were so audacious as to threaten to drain the DC swamp, you can bet that that which would be unreasonable in any other context would seem not only reasonable, but necessary to protect the wetlands.

  • Longtobefree||

    What mean ye by the strange character string "reasonable prosecutor"?

  • Cyto||

    I think he said everyone. And "at least".

    Not average.

  • Idle Hands||

    This article is fantastic.

  • Johnny B||

    And Tony's too busy cleaning the jism off his screen from this morning to have shown up, yet.

  • Tony||

    I was busy getting a haircut. Speaking of hair, Trump's is looking rather stressed lately.

  • Cynical Asshole||

    I was busy getting a haircut.

    Is that what you're calling it?

  • John||

    EEWWW

  • perlchpr||

    I don't even know what that was supposed to be a double entendre for, but it, combined with this response has me laughing out loud for several minutes.

    Thanks. I needed that. :D

  • Cynical Asshole||

    Donald Trump has been credibly accused by his own lawyer of participating in a conspiracy to violate campaign finance laws.

    I'm not entirely sure how credible the word of Michael Cohen really is, and that's all he's got, right? Unless he has a recording or some other evidence of Trump ordering him to pay off his various mistresses. I don't think Cohen is exactly the most trustworthy source.

  • Fats of Fury||

    A man who is his own lawyer has a fool for a client, unless he has Lanny Davis as his lawyer then he's just brain dead.

  • JohnTheRevelator||

    If the DNC is trying to use Cohen as the star of their get-Trump act, and they sent Lanny Davis to be his lawyer, then they're brain-dead.

  • R. K. Phillips||

    Well, if he does have that recording, it could be interesting but still useless (hell, I assume that Trump did that!) UNLESS Trump says to use campaign funds.

  • Fancylad||

    Cohen signed the confession the inquisitors put in front of him.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Cohen was told to plead to 4 or less years or get life. Some choice.

    Seems like a racket to me that the sentence is harsher for fighting the government.

  • Stephen Lathrop||

    The way a guy like Cohen gets credible is he tells the prosecutor, "If you check with so-and-so, and ask about this particular bit of evidence, he's in a position to tell you all about it." And the prosecutor checks, and it's all just as described. Credibility problem not completely gone, but no longer much to worry about.

  • Tony||

    You always hide the truly embarrassing GOP-humping articles behind a "Reason Staff" byline before you click through. You'd think you'd rather have this sycophantic excuse-mongering drivel attached to its actual author.

  • ||

    Except, you know, there's an actual reason it says Reason Staff.

    But I shouldn't be surprised that reason escapes you.

  • TuIpa||

    Do you even read anything?

    Most often by far the Reason Staff pseudonym appears before Dalmia and Chapman articles, known GOP humpers both.

  • John||

    Don't worry Tony, even if they repeal Roe v. Wade, you will still be able to go to Canada and get an abortion.

  • Tony||

    How many abortions do you think Trump has paid for?

  • John||

    I don't know, what did he pay for yours?

  • Tony||

    Hey it was the 80s. We were all doing cocaine. Or was it Shark Week? I wasn't old enough for coke in the 80s. Must have been Shark Week.

  • John||

    Worst porn channel ever.

  • tpaine||

    This article has not been produced by the reason staff. It has been produced by one of our country's leading libertarian legal authorities. Formerly of the institute for justice, currently at the Cato Institute, for your reading pleasure, let me introduce Clarke Neily

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Tpaine always gets chosen for boat rides for 3.

  • DirkT||

    Many of us left behind the "but everybody does it" excuse in Middle School when we found out that it just didn't cut it ...

  • Big_B||

    Exactly! This is my 5 year old's go to strategy. It's part of the B.S false equivalence we hear so much these days. Both sides are bad, therefore both sides are the same, therefore nothing to see here, just ignore it.

    G.O.P 2016: "Drain the swamp!"
    G.O.P 2018 : "Conflicts of interests and felonies? No problem!"

  • Cyto||

    Hey, there are good people on all sides...

  • Michael S. Langston||

    Many of us left behind the "but everybody does it" excuse in Middle School...

    RTFA as the point made is a little more nuanced. Whether you believe it or not, those who would have to vote to impeach Trump have reasons to worry if the same levels of scrutiny were applied.

    This gives them pressure to not impeach for the reasons currently given.

    That's both logical and is the reality of the current siuation.

  • Cyto||

    Except that nobody actually thinks that way. And by nobody I do mean literally nobody.

    Recently Asia Argento had no problem hectoring others about taking advantage of young actors. Then it turned out she had done the same thing.

    But you don't have to go to that level. Look at pretty much every New York Attorney General.

    Or more specific to the Senate, look at the Democrats with the "Nuclear Option". They weren't the least bit worried that it would be used against them.

    Or the left's current obsession with stifling conservative speech in the name of protecting freedom....

    No, nobody worries about their own standards being applied to them. Literally nobody.

  • Stephen Lathrop||

    Or more specific to the Senate, look at the Democrats with the "Nuclear Option". They weren't the least bit worried that it would be used against them.

    Nah. They had already had a belly full of McConnell, and they knew he would use it against them the first time he couldn't get what he wanted without it. So they said, "WTF, Mitch McConnell before he Mitches you."

    I don't think the Ds should have done that. Playing tit-for-tat is no way to put the brakes on a race to the bottom. Your comment, on the other hand, seems right on board, and all out for the race.

  • Modus Pwnens||

    So you would just be peachy keen if you got a ticket for going 1 MPH over the speed limit, while surrounded by cars going 30 MPH over the limit and not even getting pulled over?

    When a ticky-tack law doesn't get enforced, people stop following it. That's the way humans operate. Oh yeah, and the law being enforced in this case is one that actual libertarians would oppose (apparently that doesn't include some Reason writers).

  • Here for the outrage||

    more of this please

  • AlmightyJB||

    "—a credible allegation that Donald Trump instructed him to commit multiple campaign violations for the purpose of influencing the outcome of the 2016 presidential election."

    They would have to prove intent which is a pretty heavy lift considering the number of reasons one might want to pay off a ho. I'm sure they'll waste our tax money on it anyways. Why Not? It's "free" money.

  • LynchPin1477||

    Until Robert Mueller, revoker of passes, came upon his pale horse. And indictments followed with him.

    Bravo.

  • Alcibiades||

    Brett Kavanaugh, Nov 6... that's all I care about for now.

  • Rockabilly||

    #NeverHillarySwornEnemyofIndividualLiberty

  • LynchPin1477||

    As a result, America's social elite have granted themselves free passes to commit a broad array of nonviolent offenses without fear of prosecution. Those passes are quite valuable

    Note: My comment isn't specific to Trump. It's addressing the broader assertion made above.

    I'm more than a little uncomfortable with this assertion. Equal justice is an important goal, even if it's difficult to achieve in practice. If you're saying that "law for thee but not for me" is actually a *good* thing and not even trying to achieve equality before the law, you'll erode the rule of law itself, and I don't think that we want to go there.

    At the same time, I don't believe enforcing unjust laws is a good thing. Admittedly, that conflicts with what I just wrote above. I don't entirely know how to resolve those two competing values. But I'm pretty sure that explicitly setting a different standard for elites and the little guys is *not* the way to do it.

  • John||

    Enforcing unjust laws is bad. But enforcing unjust laws selectively is even worse.

  • LynchPin1477||

    So Trump should be prosecuted *if* Cohen's accusations are credible and/or he has concrete evidence proving it?

  • John||

    First, I don't see where Cohen is alledging Trump did anything criminal. Even if he is, I don't see how you can selectively prosecute Trump while ignoring a million other people doing the same thing

  • LynchPin1477||

    Well, Cohen's lawyer publicly stated that Cohen said that Trump told him to do illegal things. I don't know enough about the relevant law to make a judgement on how credible that is (and of course there is the issue of Cohen's credibility), but for the sake of argument, let's assume they are credible.

    Are there lots of people committing some sort of campaign finance violation? It seems likely. But how many of them come to the attention of prosecutors and get a free pass? How common is it for someone to be publicly and credibly accused of a crime of this type and to not be prosecuted for it? I honestly don't know the answer to that question but my guess it is that it is not very common.

  • Libertymike||

    Upthread, you claimed that Johnny Cash was the voice of God. Although I respect that opinion, I submit that John Facenda was the voice of god.

  • LynchPin1477||

    It's God - He can have more than one voice.

  • LynchPin1477||

    It's God - He can have more than one voice.

  • IceTrey||

    It's not illegal even if everything Cohen said is true.

  • BYODB||

    1) It's not a very credible claim since Trump, unlike John Edwards, is rich enough to pay off hookers without dipping into campaign funds.

    2) It's possible campaign cash was used to do such things, of course it is. That said, how does one define credible because it looks to me like Cohen had his arm twisted by the government until he mouthed the right words in his guilty plea.

    3) Cohen pled guilty, which means the government doesn't need to prove the charges of campaign finance violations at this point. He pled guilty. They can and will use it as probable cause, which if you think about it is one hell of a way to manufacture probable cause.

  • Stephen Lathrop||

    About 1). I suggest that at the time, Trump probably thought he didn't want the payment traceable to him personally, and didn't suppose anyone would find it otherwise. He thought Cohen knew how to assure that outcome, using cutouts, etc.

    Trump didn't foresee his own lawyer blabbing to the feds. He has publicly expressed his shock and grievance that that happened. To me, that reaction by Trump makes Cohen's claim seem more credible.

    But, sure, you could attack it in court, if it mattered much. What will make that prosecutorial problem go away, will be if Cohen starts pointing prosecutors to stuff no one has yet mentioned, or knows about, and by following his leads, the prosecutors turn up new incriminating evidence. Who now would bet that Cohen couldn't do that? If he does, he will prove credible enough. Just as Gates did.

  • Nardz||

    "Well, Cohen's lawyer publicly stated that Cohen said that Trump told him to do illegal things. I don't know enough about the relevant law to make a judgement on how credible that is (and of course there is the issue of Cohen's credibility), but for the sake of argument, let's assume they are credible."

    Cohen's lawyer is noted Clinton consigliere Lanny Davis, who conspired with SDNY prosecutors to have Cohen plead guilty to two charges that aren't actually crimes, for the purpose of implicating Trump in said non-crimes.
    Despite being known as an extreme alt-right authoritarian, I'll take Alan Dershowitz's word on that one.

  • Bob Meyer||

    An "in kind contribution" is anything that the prosecutor says it is. If Cohen used his own money then the prosecutor can call it an illegal contribution. If Cohen says that Trump told him to do it then it would only be illegal if Trump didn't pay for it. If Trump did pay there's no problem since anyone can use as much of his own wealth to support his own election but Trump has to admit that he paid the money knowing that it was going to a hooker. If Trump didn't know then Cohen is guilty of an illegal contribution.

    Now, if Cohen and Trump agreed that Cohen should pay the money without being compensated then some prosecutor will say that it was a conspiracy to break election finance laws and Trump would be as guilty as Cohen. This is a stretch but that's what prosecutors do.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Trump mostly paid into his own campaign. he paid stormy put of his pwn money.

    You lefties dont see whats coming do you?

    This is a setup for obama and hillary violating federal campaign laws?

    If Trump goes down they all go down. Trump might just be enough of a patriot to pull it off.

  • JoeBlow123||

    This is a ridiculous assertion.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Maga!

  • NashTiger||

    Paying someone to sign an NDA is not illegal

  • Heedless||

    I think he means they are valuable to the possessor, not that they are good for society.

  • perlchpr||

    This.

  • SIV||

    MAGA

    googolplex-dimensional chess

  • mcsandberg||

    This should remind everyone of this quote:

    "Did you really think we want those laws observed?" said Dr. Ferris. "We want them to be broken. You'd better get it straight that it's not a bunch of boy scouts you're up against... We're after power and we mean it... There's no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren't enough criminals one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. Who wants a nation of law-abiding citizens? What's there in that for anyone? But just pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced or objectively interpreted – and you create a nation of law-breakers – and then you cash in on guilt. Now that's the system, Mr. Reardon, that's the game, and once you understand it, you'll be much easier to deal with." ( Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged )

    Now you know one reason for my sig:
    Atlas Shrugged was supposed to be a warning, Not A Newspaper!

  • Longtobefree||

    "Where are the five-years-a-pop federal wiretapping charges for secretly taping conversations with Trump and others?"

    Must be in Omarosa's purse with all her recordings, huh?

  • TheloniousMac||

    An unprincipled strongman.

    For the record I think he has plenty of principles. So did President Obama. I believe President Obama chiefly wanted to transform America not into something better, but into something much worse. I believe chief among Trumps principles is the desire to change us back into what we were designed to be.

    An unprincipled strongman doesn't sound very good until you compare it to a principle rich weak man.

  • R. K. Phillips||

    I do not believe for a moment that Trump even understands what we were "designed" to be.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Free market, strong military, expose corruption, smaller budget, conservative scotus, low regulation....

    Trump gets it.

  • JoeBlow123||

    Smaller budget? Mmmhmm.

  • buybuydandavis||

    The premise of the article is false
    Absolutely nothing illegal about having your lawyer do work for you and invoice you later

    There is no "equivalence" to the ocean of crimes by the Obama administration, because there is no crime by Trump
    Not in the slightest

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    You should hurry to alert Michael Cohen's legal team, Rudy Guiliani, and Jay Sekulow to these important legal insights.

  • UltraModerate||

    Ha ha, good one! I love how the Trump supporters all seem to think they have a) complete knowledge of what evidence the FBI has, and b) a wall in their house covered with law degrees.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    This coming from the lefties that claim that cohen and manafort cannot claim the 5A if trump pardons them.

    Hilarious lefty narrative nonsense. Now lefties are beggong trump not to pardon cohen and manafort.

  • ATXChappy||

    "Until Robert Mueller, revoker of passes, came upon his pale horse. And indictments followed with him."

    I'm not gonna hold my breath but I'd love to see more of this. I'm still hoping that the Mueller revocation of Trumpworld 'passes' starts a big tit for tat in the political world and we get to find out the answers to the "question that now hangs like a miasma over D.C"

  • DrZ||

    "Harvey Silverglate's estimate that the average American commits three felonies a day may be high, but his basic point is sound."

    Three a day?!?!?
    Here in California, you can do 10 and that's before lunch. There are so many laws to break in California, it's hard to figure out which order you want to break them, but everyone breaks them.

    Be sure to look both ways before entering the intersection on that green light in California.

    Well, the picture isn't as bleak as I made it out to be because soon we will have a plastic straw ban.

  • Horny Lizard||

    But Hillary may have and everyone is a criminal are not legal defenses. Where's your analysis of the law and the facts?

  • UltraModerate||

    Exactly. The level of projection is so hand-waving I'm surprised this writer didn't lift up off the ground and fly away.

  • Michael S. Langston||

    RTFA and try to really comprehend the point as the article isn't a legal defense, but an accurate analysis of reality.

    Whether you wish to believe it or not, those who would have to vote to impeach Trump have reasons to worry if the same levels of scrutiny were applied.

    This gives them strong pressure to not impeach for the reasons currently given.

    That's both logical and is the reality of the current siuation.

  • Modus Pwnens||

    Democrat politicians want to impeach Trump as much as GOP politicians wanted to repeal Obamacare. i.e. not at all. Opposition to Trump is the only thing holding them together; last thing they would want to get is a boring professional politician like Pence in the White House.

    It's red meat for the base, that's all.

  • Horny Lizard||

    One of Trump's problems from a legal perspective is the fact that he has made so many public statements on these questions which is basically like giving testimony to the jury which destroys his opportunity to plead the 5th and focus on attacking the credibility of the witnesses against him. Then there's the recording where it's shown he was deeply involved in the conspiracy.

  • Fmontyr||

    Sorry to say, Mr. Neily, but I have not seen so much malarky as in this opinion piece by you. What is your point? I couldn't find it amongst your ramblings. It is so disjointed and ridiculous that I hope that I never see another piece by you.

  • UltraModerate||

    Wow, there are some wild levels of projection going on in this piece! Three felonies a day for the average American? ANY felonies a day for the average American? Tell me, readers, what felonies did you commit today? What felonies has, say, Robert Mueller committed?

    This is some serious nonsense by another Trump apologist trying to normalize Trump's behavior by saying it's "no big deal." Either that, or it's a joke piece by someone who is really bad at delivering humor.

  • Michael S. Langston||

    Given the education, experience, and credibility of authors of the book Three Felonies A Day: How the Feds Target the Innocent, combined with your mocking tone and complete lack of any evidence disproving their work, I think everyone can safely assume you have zero clue.

  • Hamster of Doom||

    >>> Tell me, readers, what felonies did you commit today?

    Psychologically tempting, and yet I hope no one actually tells you.

  • JoeBlow123||

    "This is some serious nonsense by another Trump apologist trying to normalize Trump's behavior by saying it's "no big deal.""

    It is very interesting you think the stuff Trump is getting hammered for does not happen everyday in government. Fraud, waste, abuse, and corruption go hand in hand with the state and politicians.

    In other words, there is nothing to normalize when the activities are already normal.

  • Modus Pwnens||

    Tell me, readers, what felonies did you commit today?

    I don't know. That's the point.

    Question for you: are you sure you haven't committed any felonies today? Unless you are familiar with all laws and regulations at the federal, state, local, water district, school district, county, township, etc levels, hard to see how you could be.

    It used to be that ignorance of the law was not a defense because it could always be pretended. But nowadays, anyone who claims not to be ignorant of the law is certainly pretending.

  • JWatts||

    Hey, a Judge just re-established the EPA's authority to regulate a backyard ditch as a "navigable water way". Ergo, just knowing what the laws actually say would be meaningless. If you can threaten to prosecute a rancher for capturing rain water from his own farm, under the guise of legislation that makes no such law, you can do anything.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    State (New York) prosecutors investigating the Trump foundation issued a subpoena to Michael Cohen today.

    Let's see how much loyalty Pres. Trump inspires these days.

  • Brian||

    The problem with the whole "who will revoke the free pass?" theory is that Trump really isn't a republican.

    It may very well be possible to revoke his pass and implicitly keep everyone else's, because of what a Trump represents.

  • Nardz||

    I don't think that happens without blood being spilled.
    Trump was the peaceful attempt at revolution.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Trump might be the last patriot of this republic.

    He might be taking obama, hillary, cohen, brennan, rosenstein, sessions, pence, pelosi, booosh.... with him into the abyss.

    He set the Lefties off on a violent streak and the silent majority defends itself by starting the USA over under the constitution.

    Either that or election 2018 leads to the GOP landslide predicted and the article V constitutipnal convention is held. Adding multiple amendments into the constitution and defeating the Lefites...again.

  • Stephen Lathrop||

    I suggest a constitutional convention organized to further entrench minority rule would not prove wise in practice.

  • Rob Misek||

    Yeah Trump is a crook like everyone else but because he's such an arrogant son of a bitch, he's in your face about it.

    This is so different from what the establishment is used to, they're running around like exposed roaches and the whole world has a front row seat.

    More and more people are asking questions like, why wasn't there as much interest in the truth when assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and Ukraine ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt were actually recorded planning the coup in Ukraine that ousted the democratically elected pro Russian president?

    https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-26079957

  • Cyto||

    No, they're not. Nobody is asking that question.

    They are asking why Trump hasn't resigned in disgrace or been impeached so that Hillary can be president.

    Or they are asking why Obama and Hillary aren't in jail because of the Huuuge conspiracy against Trump.

    Literally nobody is worried about starting wars without authorization from Congress or drone killing American citizens or bombing anywhere they'd like without as much as a how-de-doo from congress, or coups or attempted coups. None of it.

    The second Trump was elected it sucked all of the air out of the room and even the tiniest bit of rational thought has been impossible ever since.

  • Tony||

    You have to ease in to this comments board if you want to be taken seriously, comrade.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Tony knows because he has not been taken seriously at reason since 1998.

  • perlchpr||

    1968.

  • Rob Misek||

    How's that working for you?

    My purpose on earth is to discern and share truth. The things I learn and do enrich my life and that of others.

    Not taking truth seriously demonstrates an irrational mind.

    I'm not interested in pointlesss bitch bickering.

  • Tony||

    Are you interested in America or Russia coming out on top in a competition and potential proxy wars between them?

  • Doug Heffernan||

    Is there any way at all for any of the unwashed to get any of these free passes?

    If not, then the only way to become more powerful from the lawbreaking that everybody does, as opposed to being crushed by it, is to already be a "social elite" (whatever that is). There aren't any free passes to get into that club either, or else all of the free passes would be worthless.

    I suppose that I should not envy the free-pass class, they must have earned their right to be there. I should just work my low wage job and try to make it home everyday without the police going through my pockets and being stuck in jail if they find something and I don't have any bail money.

  • Agammamon||

    A question that now hangs like a miasma over D.C. is "Which of my staffers would hang me out to dry in order to avoid going to federal prison?"

    Yeah, *now* hangs over.

  • Modus Pwnens||

    Funny how Hilary never had to ask that question.

  • NashTiger||

    "Which of my staffers will hang ?"

  • Big_B||

    Wow, you claim to dislike Trump, but then you sound just like him.

    Play off the latest scandal as no big deal. Mention Hillary. Distract with a few insults and jokes.... Nothing to see here, just accept whatever happens as the norm. No real facts or historical perspective. Maybe you are actually trying to support Trump, because that's what an article like this does.

    I thought reason was supposed to be a libertarian site that's more independent and less partisan than other sites. I've been checking in here hoping to see a reasonable discussion on something like say, freedom of the press.. at least Jacob Sullum finally had something. I was expecting a libertarian site to cover that kind of topic a lot more. "free minds and free markets"??? So shouldn't there be more about tariffs and trade wars?

  • Modus Pwnens||

    Which part of this is this a scandal?

  • Big_B||

    President's associates guilty of crimes... Someone under oath accused the President of committing a felony...

    Normally the small part about cheating on your wife twice would be enough scandal.

  • Modus Pwnens||

    President's associates guilty of crimes...

    If you're referring to Manafort, that was long before he was associated with Trump. So it's more like "the president associated with someone who had previously committed a crime" which is pretty weak tea. And the reason he was prosecuted was because of his later association with Trump, not because of his crimes.

    Someone under oath accused the President of committing a felony...

    Again, when did this happen?

    Normally the small part about cheating on your wife twice would be enough scandal.

    It's 2018, not 1980. The voters knew very well he was an adulterer when he was elected. That's weak sauce.

  • Big_B||

    Too funny. I'm not trying to prove anything beyond a reasonable doubt in court. I'm talking about whether or not there is a scandal that the press and people are talking about. a lot.

    CNN has a recording of Cohen speaking with Trump about paying off a pornstar. I haven't checked it out yet, but normally that sort of thing is seen as a scandal for those 'values voters.' Cohen's lawyer is making the rounds and talking it up. Checkout newser.com for some summaries.

    Cohen says he has more info he'd like to give Mueller too. You can say Manafort is nothing important, but he was part of Trumps campaign so it's more bad press for the president. You do read the news, don't ya? If you want to say Trump is not guilty of a crime, ok, that's a different discussion, but to deny there is scandal going on is just crazy. Maybe you are just trolling. I just googled 'Trump scandal'... maybe you should try. You can get pages of links on all this. There is even a detailed wikipedia page about it. scandal is even in the title.
    (added a space here to avoid a 'word' that's too long. )
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ Stormy_Daniels–Donald_Trump_scandal

  • Modus Pwnens||

    So your definition of scandal is something negative that the leftist media talks about?

    The leftist media has been talking about Trump negatively since the beginning of his campaign, and will continue to report negatively on him so long as he is in office. Regardless of whether there is actually something scandalous happening.

    Do you consider Fast & Furious, the Benghazi coverup, the IRS targeting of conservatives, FBI spying on a presidential campaign to be scandals as well? Or are they not scandals, because the leftist media didn't cover them?

    Before you claim "whataboutism", I'm not trying to excuse Trump for anything. Just poking at your definition of scandal. Because if it's "whatever the leftist media says it is", that's a pretty useless definition.

  • Big_B||

    Not my definition at all. Never said it was, but thanks for deciding what my opinion was and then poking fun at it. Are you crazy enough to think that fox and media on the right aren't talking about this topic? Go check out the top news stories at fox.com under politics. srsly. go look. Most every story is related to Manafort or Cohen. It's kind of big news. Whatever you want to call it.

    Fox attacked Obama daily too... so what IS your point? I could call those other topics you brought up scandals too. Oh or maybe 'controversy'. would you prefer that? Maybe you should head over to Wikipedia and Let them know what word is better than 'Scandal'. Or maybe you should just let them know how 'it' doesn't actually exist?

  • Mark22||

    Never said it was, but thanks for deciding what my opinion was and then poking fun at it.

    Your opinion is clear. But your statements are simple concern trolling ("why don't those darn value voters make a big deal out of this").

    Fox attacked Obama daily too

    Yes, over policies, not his sex life.

  • Big_B||

    The issue is not about his sex life. it's whether or not he committed a crime to cover it up.

    And really, this whole silly discussion is because Modus Pwnens doesn't think this whole thing can be called 'scandal'. I think the folks on the right would consider it a scandal if Obama cheated and then broke the law to cover it up. That's the reason I brought it up.

  • Stephen Lathrop||

    You know what isn't scandal? Movement conservatives outraged over imaginary conspiracies. That isn't even news.

    Each of the 4 examples you offer ends up as a pipsqueak story when you look into it. Pipsqueaks, that is, except for their power to provoke movement conservatives.

    It's not that there couldn't be something to each of them, maybe even a really big story in the case of the IRS and FBI allegations. But uncovering the knowable facts hasn't delivered big stories. So movement conservatives want to lower the bar of judgment, and insist that if certain inferences were true, then they would be big stories. That means it's lefty bias not to buy the inferences as if they were facts, and report the stories as major scandals.

    I'm tempted to say, "News doesn't work that way." But then you have Fox, and talk radio, which do work that way.

    Here's what movement conservatives should do. Keep getting your inference-packed news from Fox and talk radio. But then go out and find the verifiable facts that prove the inferences—the inferences with the political implications which make you love those stories. Tell those facts to mainstream reporters. You will get a better result, because that is the way news does work.

    Or at least, you will get a better result if you can deliver the facts. Given the unlikely character of some of your inferences, I suggest that part may prove harder than you suppose. But maybe not always. Give it a try. You and the nation would be better for it.

  • Modus Pwnens||

    But kudos for the "argument from Wikipedia title". First time I've seen that tactic, lol.

  • Mark22||

    I haven't checked it out yet, but normally that sort of thing is seen as a scandal for those 'values voters.'

    Gosh, why don't those "value voters" vote the way leftists want them to? Why can't we just manipulate them with stimulus/response pairs?

    Yeah, the guy sleeps around and covers it up. Like lots of other presidents.

  • Big_B||

    And just like the other presidents, when they get caught, it's a scandal. Especially if they committed a crime to cover it up.

    I honestly don't really care if a president cheats on his wife. That's between him and his wife, and by itself, not a criminal act. Some voters might care though.

  • Eddy||

    "So shouldn't there be more about tariffs and trade wars?"

    Yeah, what's up with that, they should get to work on some articles on those topics. /sarc

  • Eddy||

    They might also considering giving some attention to Trump's immigration policy. I mean, for a magazine called Reason...

  • Cyto||

    Wait, is something going on with immigration? I hadn't heard...

  • Eddy||

    It's like Reason is trying to impose a complete news blackout on immigration and trade.

  • Big_B||

    None of the 'Top articles' on the front page are related to trade at all.

    I did finally find the 'trending topics' tab though, so I found the articles from last week...

    I mentioned freedom of the press though, and that isn't even under trending topics... at a libertarian site? Pretty odd. At least they are covering Anthony Bourdain though, so they've got the essentials covered. /sarc

  • Eddy||

    They're hiding their numerous trade articles from you through their clever algorithms. It's the same as not running any trade articles at all.

  • Modus Pwnens||

    So you're simultaneously claiming that Reason shouldn't be covering this story AND that it's a big scandal.

  • Modus Pwnens||

    Or they could pay attention to Hillary's Russia collusion.

  • No Yards Penalty||

    Or you could take Trump's cock out your ass.

  • Modus Pwnens||

    Completely lost in the discussion is that Cohen's prosecution and his confession runs completely counter to the ostensible purpose of campaign finance laws. These laws are supposed to prevent elected officials from being, or appearing to be, bribed with campaign funds and free campaign assistance. That is the only reason the campaign finance laws were upheld against First Amendment challenges: the courts believed that preventing corruption or even the appearance of corruption was a compelling government interest.

    But in this case, nobody really believes that Cohen's alleged "illegal loan" altered or was intended to alter the future president's exercise of his office in a manner beneficial to Cohen. So the campaign finance laws (which are utterly unlibertarian even when enforced properly) are being abused here.

  • Deplorable Victor||

    Trump repaid the man. Trump can spend any amount of his own money. He technically doesn't have to go through the campaign, which is the reporting entity.

    The only violation here, if one exists, is Cohens.

  • Robjoswel||

    Why did Cohen do it then? There was no advantage to himself in any way. But it seems he was peddling influence to a large number of corporations.AT&T, Novartis and and some Russians paid Michael Cohen $4.4 million. Why? Influence. Do you think this is a good thing?

  • riyarani||

  • Rob Misek||

    Why is this Trump witch hunt dragging out so long?

    Because everyone is lying and getting away with it.

    Perjury is a crime because the justice system recognizes its serious interference with truth. Can you imagine the wasted time and corrupt results if the courts didn't criminalize lying?

    So why do we put up with it outside the courthouse?

    We have the technology to eliminate lying and take a giant leap forward in social justice and trust.

    We can empower everyone to digitally record everything we witness voluntarily.

    We can also criminalize lying.

    Why not put on your big boy pants? What are you afraid of?

  • Mark22||

    While the passes are revocable in theory, they are seldom revoked in practice.

    They are apparently used as threats for blackmail. Since people usually comply, blackmailers rarely need to follow through on their threats.

  • dr ricardo||

    I clearly don't understand the intent of the campaign finance laws if "influencing the outcome of the 2016 presidential election" is a violation of that law. Any candidate who spends money on campaigning is trying to influence the outcome. What am I missing?

  • DJG||

    "I believe Trump is a terrible role model, an unprincipled strongman, and an atrocious emissary of American values. "

    How about all the politicians and Wall Street interests who have sold out the American economy etc. to China over the last 35 years?
    America doesn't need roll models of that sort, does it.
    Trump's personality doesn't much matter at this point. His willingness to fight for America does.

  • Tony||

    Can't you people profess your endless love for Donald Trump somewhere else? It's really getting eyeball deep here.

  • Deplorable Victor||

    America doesn't need role models at all. That's just educated idiot bullshit.

  • Mr. JD||

    Everyone knows that if Manafort worked for Hillary, he's never charged. Democrats are just playing right into Trump's "drain the swamp" narrative.

    Moreover, they're all tweeting "Is it still a witch hunt if you find actual witches?" as if the existence of the Mueller investigation has now been justified.

    It's like accusing someone of murder, catching his wife's cousin jaywalking, and saying "I KNEW IT!"

    We need the Rule of Law.

  • PG23COLO||

    Federal prosecutions are a business that has nothing to do with justice. 99%+ of those indicted are ultimately convicted.

    Harvey Silverglate is correct in his premise that anyone can be convicted of a felony.

    Mueller, however, should stand down now before he provokes more reaction than he or we want to see.

  • GoatOnABoat||

    I've said it for a long time, tax and finance laws are designed so the gubermint can always find something to prosecute you for if they really want to...

  • HANSENWT||

    This is been why this whole personal political attack is so dangerous....the first rule of thumb is when everyone has to help the evidence along....When someone is outright guilty of a crime you don't have to lie about it, stretch it or whatever....but every little thing that comes up and watching Mueller go way into the weeds to come up with some way to get after the President, while ignoring clearly other questionable activity of stronger crimes then a hush money payment or giving immunity to players that would possibly compromise them or other folks they don't want compromised (they are going after the National Enquirer guy to just talk about wanting to help Trump not all the other celebs and politicians that paid for his pay and dump policy. So an extortionist is getting immunity and only has to mention one particular extortion....) This is insanely partisan....they could arrest some dems legitimately and pay the grand jury to disagree....just to look credible and they aren't doing it...it is completely open bias so far....delicately handle politicians we like....completely destroy all and everyone around ones we don't.

  • Deplorable Victor||

    The whole thing is bullshit.

    The way the laws are written, a third party can commit this campaign offense, but not the candidate. Use what's left of your Trump deranged brains, if any. A candidate can fully fund their own campaign. How can they commit a finance violation?

    The violation Cohen plead guilty to is contributing more than the statutory limit.

    If there is a reporting violation that accrues to the campaign, which has to know about the violation. In a sense Cohen was freelancing.

    And it is not illegal to pay hush money to hos. If the ho demands it, that's blackmail, and it is criminal. Paying blackmail is not illegal.

    At that point you have a total absurdity. In order to make any case against the candidate, first you have to prove the action was intended to affect the campaign. Not for example intended to save a reputation. Doing that is almost impossible. All you have here is the word of an admitted felon. And it isn't illegal for the candidate to spend limitless amounts out of pocket for his own campaign in the first place.

  • Robjoswel||

    Trump directed Cohen ( according to Cohen's testimony) to commit a felony. Now the prosecutors might not be able to prove that beyond reasonable doubt. Trump could've made the payment himself, but he would've had to report it to the Federal Elections Commission. It's the coverup that is going to hurt him.

  • Deplorable Victor||

    Continued... 1500 characters... Ridiculous.

    If Cohen was acting as the candidate's agent, he did not commit a crime. He may have committed a crime when he borrowed the money, but when the candidate re-payed him, that demonstrates he was an agent. The candidate can spend all the money he wants. If anyone violated anything there, again, it was the campaign, which is a separate legal entity. And if there was never a connection between the private person and the committee to elect him concerning this matter it all collapses.

    Scuttlebutt is that the prosecution threatened Cohen's wife, which is why he went along with this farce. She could have been prosecuted over their joint tax returns.
    The only real lesson here is plea bargains should be banned.

    Turn this any way you like and there is still no violation of any kind by the candidate. The real violators are these crooked prosecutors, who should be fired, disbarred, and prosecuted in their turn for malicious prosecution.

    Trump should fire everyone in Justice he can, starting with Sessions, and then declassify everything.

    WE should prepare for war. The left is a collection of rabid perverts. We won't be safe until they are dead and buried.

    MAGA!

  • DidntFuckYourMom||

    Reason: excuses.

  • KyBosh||

    Those who were in Trump's orbit who are being targeted for any allegation by a desperate Establishment which has run out of options insofar as Trump is concerned. President Trump has had more investigations combing through every jot & tittle of his past than any person in modern history! The important realization here is that they would have much more rather charged Trump with a crime directly than trying to get someone else to accuse him. They are so desperate to get Trump and time is running out.

  • KyBosh||

    Those who were in Trump's orbit who are being targeted for any allegation by a desperate Establishment which has run out of options insofar as Trump is concerned. President Trump has had more investigations combing through every jot & tittle of his past than any person in modern history! The important realization here is that they would have much more rather charged Trump with a crime directly than trying to get someone else to accuse him. They are so desperate to get Trump

  • Robjoswel||

    It seems like people in the comments here at "reason" have a hard time with reading comprehension. They are mixing the questions of what the laws are, whether those laws have broken, and whether there should be laws at all

    The Trump campaign could have paid off all Trump's lovers using money from donations and/or from Trump himself. That is legal. But they would have had to report that to the Federal Election Commission, which they didn't want to do for obvious reasons.

    To get around that, Cohen mortgaged his house and used the money for payoffs. If he'd done that 2014, no problem, he's Trump's pal, rock on. But he did it during a campaign for the purpose of making Trump electable, which means he made a campaign contribution. These are limited to $2,700 per individual, and Cohen contributed $130k. That is well above the $25k mark that makes such actions a felony.

    That is the legal situation in a nutshell. Cohen committed a real felony, and one that is very likely to be done "accidently" by a joe average just going about their business.

    The next question is whether or not Trump didn't anything wrong. According to Cohen's testimony, he was directed by Trump to commit a felony. That is by itself a felony! Now it doesn't come anywhere near treason standards, nor is it likely an impeachable offense, so Trump is not at high risk from this. ( In my opinion).

  • Robjoswel||

    ... Finally, there is the question of whether these should be laws or not. I personally think there are good reasons to control campaign finances closely, particularly in a country with wide wealth and power disparities. But there are many reasonable arguments on different sides. Mr. Neily's special pleading about white collar crime seems overly partisan to me. Just because the laws effecting professionals and the wealthy tend to be more complex, so what? The complexity is sometimes needed.

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