Sunday, August 5, 2018

The Doom Coming To Trumpland

So shit happened today, as it does every day since the election of 2016. But this shit may be significant. It may mark the End Times in Trumpland, the time when the red moon plunges from the sky and the ground trembles with the fearful shaking of the dreaming MAGAts. A rent has been torn in the throne of the Fool's Gold God, and the tweeting of a thousand thousand pundits drowns the air as the blue-winged flock takes flight...

Fuck. Sorry. Let me begin again.

(Black Library, would you like a haunted house story?)

Today Donald Trump tweeted this:

In essence: Donald Trump admitted the meeting his son had with a Russian attorney during the campaign was to get dirt on his opponent, Hillary Clinton; claimed the whole thing was legal and went nowhere; and denies knowing anything about it.

Take a moment to let the idiocy of denying knowing about a "totally legal" meeting sink in. Took me all day. Good? Okay, let's move on.

Donald Trump is admitting that his son met with Natalia Veselnitskaya, a lawyer with close ties to the Russian government, to get information on Hillary Clinton. This is, to my knowledge, the first time he's acknowledged that, although it's been known for months that the original stated purpose of the meeting was false. (Said purpose being to discuss adoption in Russia, a story apparently concocted personally by Donald Trump on behalf of his son.)

This alone is problematic, since it's illegal for a campaign to accept "anything of value" from a foreign national. The Trumps claim nothing of value came from this meeting, which might be believable except for a few things:

1. the Democratic National Committee's servers were hacked,

2. those servers contained damaging material in email that was subsequently released to the public, influencing the election,

3. those servers also contained election analytics data, which was not released to the public, but which the Trump campaign appears to have acted on during the election,

4. Donald Trump has subsequently done everything feasible to end any investigation into these points, and

5. Donald Trump has lied to the American people around 4,500 times just since he took office.

So it's possible Trump's tweet is an admission that his campaign was seeking information of value from a foreign national. Collusion is not a technical crime, but that is collusion. It is also a crime, if anything of value was provided.

And Trumpland continues to shake, because what sparked Trump's admission were rumors that he was concerned his son, Donald Jr., is in legal jeopardy. Because Donald Trump Jr. testified to Congress, under oath, that his father had no knowledge of this meeting. Which, to be clear, took place in Trump Tower, which Donald Trump was in at the time.

So the statement was already hard to believe, but now it appears that Michael Cohen, Trump's lawyer, is ready to state that Donald Trump was aware of the meeting in advance and approved it. Which means Donald Trump Jr. may have lied under oath to Congress. Which is a felony. That also means Donald Trump was fully aware his campaign was reaching out to a foreign national for information of value.

And now the doom becomes clear: Trump may have committed a felony during his campaign by colluding with a Russian national.* If so, his defense hinges of denying any knowledge of it. But that defense hinges on 1. Michael Cohen not having any evidence to the contrary, and 2. every other party with knowledge of the meeting backing Trump.

One of those parties is Trump Jr., but he may have committed a felony of his own in lying to Congress, if Trump did have knowledge of the meeting. And so the Trumps find themselves under a pile of horrors:

1. If Trump Jr. is found to have lied under oath, he faces felony charges.

2. If Trump Jr. is prosecuted, Trump can pardon him - but accepting the pardon means Trump Jr. must admit guilt, which means he has to state affirmatively that his father had advance knowledge of the meeting in Trump Tower.

Which puts Donald Trump in the position of potentially having to convince his own son to go to prison for a felony in order to save his own skin.

And this is one of the better scenarios Trump is facing. If Michael Cohen produces evidence, or evidence is obtained elsewhere, that Trump knew about the meeting, he ends up in significantly greater legal jeopardy, and his son still faces prosecution for lying plus whatever charges Trump gets hit with.

This is not necessarily the end game for Trump, mind. He's unlikely to be prosecuted in office, and a compliant GOP Congress might be willing to accept a President who's committed felony election fraud. But it might be less likely to let that same President pardon his son for the same crime.

*I'm ignoring the potential felony payoffs of multiple sex workers. And the potential host of felonies laundering Russian money. And the potential violations of the emoluments clause. And the child rape accusation. And the spousal rape accusation. Just like the Republican Party.

Image courtesy of BoingBoing.