“Up all night!” - that’s the screaming headline across US news networks other than US president Donald Trump’s favourite Fox News channel.
“If someone were to write a book on how the end of this Presidency began, it would start with Trump tweeting, in all CAPS, at 1 am in the morning after (Michael) Cohen’s guilty plea. It’s looking more and more like the last days of Nixon, when he grew lonely and isolated and the walls closed in”, Peter Baker of the New York Times told CNN.
Has the Trump presidency reached the equivalent of August 1974? Or to put it in a form that's more relevant to the Trump era, would the new horrors be enough to deliver a final blow?
The endgame, if it exists, looks clearer and closer than ever after Cohen’s flip. Nixon’s defenders, just like Trump’s, used to call Watergate investigations a political “witchhunt” - an all too familiar moniker in the US today. Even two weeks before his fall from grace, most of Nixon’s party members voted against impeachment. It was only when the Democrats that year gained 49 more House seats in the midterms that Nixon’s exit was assured. The parallels are too many and they are stunning.
The legal system dumped two political hazards this week on Trump. His former 'fixer' Cohen pleaded guilty and said he and Trump arranged payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal to keep them silent about their alleged affairs with him. And Manafort, Trump's campaign chairman during a key stretch of the 2016 race, was convicted by a jury of eight counts of bank and tax fraud. The combination set up a world of uncertainty for everyone allied with the president. In addition, Daniels and McDougal who say they were Trump's onetime paramours are suing to invalidate agreements designed to silence them.
— Peter Baker (@peterbakernyt) August 22, 2018
That pretty much sums up the grim mood in the White House even if nobody there is admitting it.
The US President’s markedly nervous performance on a Fox and Friends interview the morning after Cohen’s bombshell speaks to the legal troubles he is up against.
For Trump, who’s been ranting about immigration and border control, it’s the insiders who are turning the knives in. Not just that, more Republicans are talking about impeachment than Democrats. But, just like many of the breathtaking Trump news cycles, we don’t know if Trump will ever face the reckoning that everyone's talking about.
Here’s how the ducks are lining up with less than 80 days to go before the midterm elections 2018.
The fixer who wants to fix Trump
Michael Cohen is sticking his hand out and asking the public for help paying for his legal defense, and one anonymous donor already has ponied up $50,000.
Through his lawyer, Donald Trump's former "fixer" says collecting contributions through a GoFundMe page set up after his guilty plea this week is the only way to ensure the truth comes out about the president. Cohen, who once said he would "take a bullet" for Trump, commented in court Tuesday that Trump had directed him to arrange payments of $130,000 to porn actress Stormy Daniels and $150,000 to former Playboy model Karen McDougal to buy their silence about alleged affairs before the election. While Trump denies the affairs, his account of his knowledge of the payments has shifted. In April, Trump denied he knew anything about the Daniels payment. He told Fox News in an interview aired Thursday that he knew about payments "later on."
Tabloid magnate kept damaging Trump stories in a safe!
The National Enquirer kept a safe containing documents about hush-money payments and damaging stories it killed as part of its cozy relationship with Donald Trump leading up to 2016 presidential election, people familiar with the arrangement told The Associated Press. The detail comes as several media outlets reported Thursday that federal prosecutors have granted immunity to National Enquirer chief David Pecker, potentially laying bare his efforts to protect his longtime friend Trump.
'Loyalty freak' Trump finds that quality is rare in Washington DC
Loyalty has long been a core value for President Donald Trump. But he's learning the hard way that in politics, it doesn't always last.
Days after Cohen, the president's former personal attorney, implicated the president in a stunning plea deal, word surfaced that David Pecker, a longtime Trump friend and media boss, also was cooperating with prosecutors. Taking the Cohen news as a personal betrayal, Trump criticized his longtime fixer for "flipping," saying on "Fox and Friends" that such double-crossers "make up things" to get reduced prison time and become "a national hero."
Attorney General Jeff Sessions pushes back at Trump
Attorney General Jeff Sessions is declaring that the Justice Department "will not be improperly influenced by political considerations" as he pushes back against President Donald Trump's latest jabs. Sessions' response came after Trump, appearing increasingly vulnerable to long-running investigations, accused the attorney general of failing to take control of his department - euphemism for allowing the Mueller probe to land on Trump's front porch.Trump's anger with Sessions boiled over in an interview with Fox News in which the president also expressed frustration with the plea agreement his onetime legal "fixer" Michael Cohen cut with prosecutors, including implicating Trump in a crime that Cohen admitted. Trump said it might be better if "flipping" — cooperating with prosecutors in exchange for more favorable treatment— were illegal because people cooperating with the government "just make up lies."
Mueller probe is closing in
Special counsel Robert Mueller's timing has hurt the White House time and again. Mueller is still investigating Russia's attempts to sway voters in the 2016 election. The probe includes the hacking of Democrats' emails, whether the Trump campaign may have cooperated with Russia and if the president obstructed justice. Key to Mueller's investigation is a 2016 meeting in Trump Tower in New York between Donald Trump Jr., Manafort, the president's son-in-law Jared Kushner and people with ties to Russia. Trump calls the probe a "witch hunt" and has not said whether he will sit for an interview with Mueller. A final report from Mueller could go to Congress — a move that would become more significant if Democrats win control in this year's elections.
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Updated Date: Aug 24, 2018 21:05:16 IST