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Marty Lederman @marty_lederman
, 13 tweets, 3 min read Read on Twitter
1/ I'm gonna play devil's advocate here. It's hardly news that Trump directed the hush money to Stormy Daniels. Duh. Indeed, although he obviously would've paid her off anyway even if he hadn't been running for POTUS, it's surely reasonable to surmise ...
2/ ... that the payment was *higher* because of the election. I doubt Trump realized that was a campaign finance violation, but let's also assume arguendo that he knew or suspected it was illegal and didn't really care--that he was indifferent to what the law prohibited.
3/ No doubt, such indifference to law ain't a good thing in a President. And yes, it would mean Trump is, at least in theory, criminally culpable for soliciting or conspiring to violate the law. OK, but what would follow from that?
4/*Perhaps* if he weren't president he'd be prosecuted for it--perhaps not. But no AG in the universe, let alone Bill Barr, is going to approve of an indictment while he's in office for *that,* even if (as I argued in the Times and at @just_security yesterday) ...
5/ ... such an indictment would be constitutional. What about impeachment? Well, what of it? I'm somewhat skeptical whether it'd constitute a high crime or misdemeanor, but I can see the case for it and legislators would certainly be within their rights in concluding that it is.
6/But even so, is it the sort of HC/M that would warrant his removal from office--particularly where it pales in comparison (in terms of gravity, proof that he's unfit to serve, and, in Charles Black's words, whether it's so seriously threatening the order of political society...
7/ ... as to make his continuance in office "pestilent and dangerous") to countless other things he's done--things he's done *as President*--on a daily or weekly basis? Not even close, I think (just as Clinton's efforts to cover up his affair weren't).
8/ But even if you think I'm wrong about that, there aren't anywhere close to 20 GOP Senators who would vote to convict & remove on this ground--perhaps not even close to *one* GOP Senator. So what's the point in such an inordinate focus on this particular Cohen guilty plea?
9/ It's a distraction from far, far more important and disturbing things that Trump has done and is doing. Indeed, it's a distraction from two much more ominous things Cohen himself revealed -- (i) the Trump Organization's deliberate cover-up of its reimbursements to Cohen ...
10/ ... to avoid law enforcement detection, and, especially, (ii) Cohen's own efforts to cover up the Moscow Project--an effort to cover up Trump's relationships with Russia, with all that entails--well into the election, which it's hard to imagine he didn't do ...
11/ ... at Trump's direction or, at a minimum, with his knowledge & encouragement. As I wrote yesterday, we'd do well to keep our eyes focused on the real danger--not possible minor offenses Trump committed in 2016, but instead the very real possibility ...
12/ ... that his constitutional duties to protect the nation and act solely in its interests are compromised by his relationships with Russia.
13/ P.S. For example, the Khashoggi outrage, and this more broadly, is 1000 times more significant and disqualifying, yet has now virtually been overtaken by wall-to-wall coverage of the hush money to Daniels.…
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