“The raid on the offices of President Trump’s personal lawyer makes clear that Trump’s battle with the special counsel, Robert Mueller, is entering its final chapter.” ~ Adam Davidson, The New Yorker
If the last few weeks are any indication, surely we have entered the end stage of the Trump presidency. The only real question remaining is what exactly will lead to his downfall, or will it be a combination of factors.
By our best estimate, there are four possible pathways to the destruction of the Trump regime.
- Robert Mueller’s team finding evidence of obstruction of justice by the president and his inner circle;
- Mueller establishing collusion with Russia or other foreign agents by a preponderance of evidence;
- Numerous allegations of marital infidelity by Trump and possible crimes by Trump, his personal attorney Michael Cohen, and/or others;
- Other investigations prove high crimes associated with Trump’s business empire.
Of course there remains the possibility that Trump might simply resign – but in all likelihood, that decision would be based on one of those four factors listed above or a combination of them.
News organizations, legal experts, and politicians have increasingly been reporting that Trump’s days in office are numbered, even were he to fire Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, and/or Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
- Vox published an in-depth article on April 11, 2018, emphatically stating that: “Trump may think he can end all his growing legal problems by firing Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and special counsel Robert Mueller. He can’t.”
- The Atlantic weighed in the following day, reporting that firing Rosenstein so he could get someone else to fire Mueller wouldn’t save Trump, that “The move would come at a high political cost, and have little effect on the actual investigation.”
- Democratic Rep. Ted Lieu of California held a press conference April 12, 2018 stating that the criminal investigations would continue no matter who Trump fired. “Prosecutors… and… FBI agents, they understand that their oath is to the Constitution. Their investigation keeps on going. This train has left the station. There is nothing this president can do to stop it because even if he were to replace some of the Republicans at the top, the career professionals keep on going,” he stated.
- Lieu’s analysis mirrored that of former FBI special agent, lawyer, and CNN analyst Asha Rangappa who stated that: “These investigations will go on… There are a lot of threads that Mueller is investigating and one thing that the American public and the president needs to understand is that if he gets rid of Mueller or Rosenstein, these cases will continue to move forward.”
Davidson prefaced his article discussing the fact that it took America some time to fully understand and accept the depth of the mistake of the Iraq War and George W. Bush’s now infamous May 1, 2003 speech on the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln given in front of a massive “Mission Accomplished” sign. Similarly, it took some time for people to grasp the full implications of the financial crisis of 2007 – 2008, which many economists came to consider the worst economic collapse since the Great Depression of the 1930s.
Turning his attention to the Trump administration, Davidson ominously wrote:
I thought of those earlier experiences this week as I began to feel a familiar clarity about what will unfold next in the Trump Presidency. There are lots of details and surprises to come, but the endgame of this Presidency seems as clear now as those of Iraq and the financial crisis did months before they unfolded. Last week, federal investigators raided the offices of Michael Cohen, the man who has been closer than anybody to Trump’s most problematic business and personal relationships. This week, we learned that Cohen has been under criminal investigation for months—his e-mails have been read, presumably his phones have been tapped, and his meetings have been monitored.
This is the week we know, with increasing certainty, that we are entering the last phase of the Trump Presidency. This doesn’t feel like a prophecy; it feels like a simple statement of the apparent truth.
Continuing, Davidson provides the following overview of the “high likelihood of rampant criminality” within the Trump business organization:
In Azerbaijan, he did business with a likely money launderer for Iran’s Revolutionary Guard. In the Republic of Georgia, he partnered with a group that was being investigated for a possible role in the largest known bank-fraud and money-laundering case in history. In Indonesia, his development partner is “knee-deep in dirty politics”; there are criminal investigations of his deals in Brazil; the F.B.I. is reportedly looking into his daughter Ivanka’s role in the Trump hotel in Vancouver, for which she worked with a Malaysian family that has admitted to financial fraud. Back home, Donald, Jr. and Ivanka were investigated for financial crimes associated with the Trump hotel in SoHo—an investigation that was halted suspiciously. His Taj Mahal casino received what was then the largest fine in history for money-laundering violations.
Listing all the financial misconduct can be overwhelming and tedious. I have limited myself to some of the deals over the past decade, thus ignoring Trump’s long history of links to New York Mafia figures and other financial irregularities.
Turning his thoughts to the possibility of Trump attempting to fire his way out of trouble, Davidson’s analysis mirrored those listed above:
Trump has long declared a red line: Robert Mueller must not investigate his businesses, and must only look at any possible collusion with Russia. That red line is now crossed and, for Trump, in the most troubling of ways. Even if he were to fire Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and then had Mueller and his investigation put on ice, and even if—as is disturbingly possible—Congress did nothing, the Cohen prosecution would continue. Even if Trump pardons Cohen, the information the Feds have on him can become the basis for charges against others in the Trump Organization.
Closing out his article, Davidson predicts that:
The narrative that will become widely understood is that Donald Trump did not sit atop a global empire. He was not an intuitive genius and tough guy who created billions of dollars of wealth through fearlessness. He had a small, sad operation, mostly run by his two oldest children and Michael Cohen, a lousy lawyer who barely keeps up the pretenses of lawyering and who now faces an avalanche of charges, from taxicab-backed bank fraud to money laundering and campaign-finance violations.
There is no longer one major investigation into Donald Trump, focussed solely on collusion with Russia. There are now at least two, including a thorough review of Cohen’s correspondence. The information in his office and hotel room will likely make clear precisely how much the Trump family knew.
Of course Trump is raging and furious and terrified. Prosecutors are now looking at his core. Cohen was the key intermediary between the Trump family and its partners around the world; he was chief consigliere and dealmaker throughout its period of expansion into global partnerships with sketchy oligarchs. He wasn’t a slick politico who showed up for a few months. He knows everything, he recorded much of it, and now prosecutors will know it, too. It seems inevitable that much will be made public. We don’t know when. We don’t know the precise path the next few months will take. There will be resistance and denial and counterattacks. But it seems likely that, when we look back on this week, we will see it as a turning point. We are now in the end stages of the Trump Presidency.