By Robert A. Vella
Regardless of the myriad of ways Donald Trump and his Republican henchmen work to stymie the legal and political efforts to hold him accountable for the staggering amount of corruption which pervades his presidency, there comes a point when the sheer weight of it becomes impossible to overcome. Such a point was reached yesterday in an explosive report from BuzzFeed that – for the first time – details evidence of felonious and impeachable crimes personally committed by Trump.
Although this evidence remains confidential in the hands of Special Counsel Robert Mueller, the public is now aware of it; and, any attempt to keep it secret would trigger a firestorm of outrage the likes of which America has never seen. We’ve crossed the Rubicon, and there won’t be any turning back now.
President Donald Trump directed his longtime attorney Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about negotiations to build a Trump Tower in Moscow, according to two federal law enforcement officials involved in an investigation of the matter.
Trump also supported a plan, set up by Cohen, to visit Russia during the presidential campaign, in order to personally meet President Vladimir Putin and jump-start the tower negotiations. “Make it happen,” the sources said Trump told Cohen.
And even as Trump told the public he had no business deals with Russia, the sources said Trump and his children, Ivanka and Donald Trump Jr., received regular, detailed updates about the real estate development from Cohen, whom they put in charge of the project.
The White House did not return detailed messages seeking comment, nor did an attorney for Donald Trump Jr. or the Trump Organization.
A spokesperson for the Office of Special Counsel declined to comment.
Cohen also declined comment — but the law enforcement sources familiar with his testimony to the special counsel said he had confirmed that Trump directed him to lie to Congress, and also that he had provided details of his conversations about the project with the president and Ivanka and Donald Jr.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment on BuzzFeed’s report. Lanny Davis, Cohen’s adviser, issued a statement to MSNBC’s Katy Tur saying that “Out of respect for Mr. Mueller’s and the Office of Special Counsel’s investigation, Mr. Cohen declined to respond to the questions asked by the reporters and so do I.”
Rudolph W. Giuliani, Trump’s attorney, responded to the report by saying, “If you believe Cohen I can get you a great deal on the Brooklyn Bridge.”
But BuzzFeed says that Mueller’s office has more evidence than just Cohen’s testimony that Trump directed him to lie to Congress. Per the report, Cohen’s testimony is backed up by “interviews with multiple witnesses from the Trump Organization and internal company emails, text messages, and a cache of other documents.”
This revelation identifies Trump as having engaged in a criminal conspiracy to obstruct justice in order to conceal evidence of his collusion with Russia while also engaging in witness tampering. These are the same crimes which befell Richard Nixon in the Watergate scandal. Let’s refresh your memory.
In April 1974, the House Judiciary Committee subpoenaed the tapes of 42 White House conversations. At the end of that month, Nixon released edited transcripts of the White House tapes, again citing executive privilege and national security; the Judiciary Committee, however, rejected Nixon’s edited transcripts, saying that they did not comply with the subpoena.
Sirica, acting on a request from Jaworski, issued a subpoena for the tapes of 64 presidential conversations to use as evidence in the criminal cases against indicted former Nixon administration officials. Nixon refused, and Jaworski appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court to force Nixon to turn over the tapes. On July 24, 1974, the Supreme Court ordered Nixon to release the tapes. The 8–0 ruling (Justice William Rehnquist disqualified himself owing to having worked for Attorney General John Mitchell) in United States v. Nixon found that President Nixon was wrong in arguing that courts are compelled to honor, without question, any presidential claim of executive privilege.
In late July 1974, the White House released the subpoenaed tapes. One of those tapes was the so-called “smoking gun” tape, from June 23, 1972, six days after the Watergate break-in. In that tape, Nixon agrees that administration officials should approach Richard Helms, Director of the CIA, and Vernon A. Walters, Deputy Director, and ask them to request L. Patrick Gray, Acting Director of the FBI, to halt the Bureau’s investigation into the Watergate break-in on the grounds that it was a national security matter. The special prosecutor felt that Nixon, in so agreeing, had entered into a criminal conspiracy whose goal was the obstruction of justice.
Once the “smoking gun” tape was made public on August 5, 1974, Nixon’s political support practically vanished. The ten Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee who had voted against impeachment in committee announced that they would now vote for impeachment once the matter reached the House floor. He lacked substantial support in the Senate as well; Barry Goldwater and Hugh Scott estimated no more than 15 Senators were willing to even consider acquittal. Facing certain impeachment in the House of Representatives and equally certain conviction in the Senate, Nixon announced his resignation on the evening of Thursday, August 8, 1974, effective as of noon the next day.
Yes, it’s the long-anticipated smoking gun. What will happen now is an unrelenting demand to publicly release the criminal evidence alleged in this report, and desperate attempts by Trump and his supporters to block it. The only thing that can save President Trump now is for the BuzzFeed report to be proved false which is improbable in my opinion. Impeachment is now inevitable, and a criminal indictment is not out of the question.