There are times Donald Trump sounds like a demented parrot when he’s asked about the Russia investigation.
More than any other phrase Trump uses in regard to the ongoing probe being conducted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, the most common response from the president is this one:
And while it’s true there was previously no evidentiary proof that Trump and his associates had been part of a larger conspiracy with Russia to swing the election to his favor in return for easing sanctions on the Kremlin, it appears we now have plenty of proof thanks to the growing scandal swirling around Michael Cohen.
Jed Shugerman, writing in Slate, notes that the $500,000 Cohen accepted from Russian oligarch and close Putin friend Viktor Vekselberg for a slush fund would appear to be the connection which proves Trump is indeed in bed with Russia:
“The new evidence provides a preview of what a smoking gun might look like and a road map for how to find it in the developing case against President Donald Trump. These allegations are not just about a hush payment and campaign finance felonies. This is a significant step toward establishing quid pro quo bribery and conspiracy against the United States.”
Bribery. Conspiracy against the United States. Those are among the most serious allegations that can be made against any elected official, and there’s no doubt Mueller and his team of investigators are making that point by point connection with every sliver of new evidence they uncover.
Also, while Trump will no doubt try to say he had no idea Cohen (his personal attorney) was taking dirty money from Russian figures and companies, that doesn’t exonerate him:
“If it can be demonstrated that he found out later about an illegal payment but sought to cover it up, Trump might have committed one of the following felonies: a) being an accessory after the fact (18 U.S.C. 3), b) misprision of a felony (18 USC 4, especially by a public official), and c) obstruction of justice.”
All of those crimes, it should be noted, certainly rise to the level of “high crimes and misdemeanors” required for impeachment. And don’t forget that Trump may also be indicted by a grand jury before it’s all over with. If so, he’d be the first president in history to have that placed next to his name.
Bottom line: Michael Cohen is about to help bring down Trump, whether he agrees to cooperate or not.