Local Commentary

Editorial: Trump an ‘Unindicted Co-Conspirator’

Your grandchildren will be taught the date, though hopefully their grades won’t be determined by such rote memorization. Maybe they’ll ask you what you were doing that day, and how much you remember about it. The date is August 21, 2018, the date that marked the first ever accusation in court under oath of a highly-credible source that a president of the United States is an “unindicted co-conspirator” in the commission of a felony.

The double-whammy of the guilty plea of President Trump’s long-time attorney and special confidant Michael Cohen and the conviction on eight felony counts of Trump’s presidential campaign manager Paul Manafort, that both came down Tuesday, paints in unmistakable relief the criminal nature of the entire Trump enterprise.

It is no longer a matter of speculation, but of the proceedings of the rule of law as the cornerstone of American democracy. This is not a so-called “fake media” assessment, or allegations made by political or legal adversaries, this has the backing of the entire U.S. legal system and everything associated with it. Tuesday was a very big day in U.S. history. You might want to save for posterity the front page of one or more of our great urban dailies (or clip and save this editorial!).

Yet this is still the veritable tip of the iceberg. It is the estimate of most experts on this subject that Special Counsel Robert Mueller is already in possession of far more conclusive evidence to back up Tuesday’s seminal developments and far more. What makes Cohen credible, for example, are the scores of documents and tapes that we can presume are in the hands of his prosecutors that will back up his confessions.

As the New York Times remarked in its editorial yesterday, “All the President’s Crooks,” appearing the day after the extraordinary events of Tuesday unfolded, “President Trump has been…praising men who are blatant grifters, cons and crooks; insisting that he’s personally done nothing wrong.”

While the editorial remained one step short of including the president, himself, among the roster of “grifters, cons and crooks,” but that’s a mere formality at this point.

For anyone who has been following the record on Trump, examining the intelligence on his past as a mob-linked con man and pliable stooge blackmailed by the Russian mafia for decades in New York and the colluding preferred U.S. presidential choice of Russian dictator Vladimir Putin, Tuesday’s developments come as no surprise.

As Virginia’s U.S. Senator and Intelligence Committee vice chair Mark Warner said about this Tuesday, not only the developments regarding Cohen and Manafort were significant on that day, but also the news that testimony before the House Banking Committee suggested there are woefully insufficient safeguards in place to prevent further Russian hacking in U.S. elections, and the revelations of Microsoft that it had detected and derailed a major new Russian hacking effort targeting this fall’s U.S. midterm elections.