A long time ago, an Associated Press reporter named Mike Feinsibler said of former president Richard Nixon, “He was one of the most controversial politicians of his generation. His career was marked by phrases that cut like curses: ‘Tricky Dick,’ ‘enemies list,’ ‘your president is not a crook,’ ‘unindicted co-conspirator.’”
People like me, watching on black-and-white television back then, laughed when he said, “Your president is not a crook!” because we knew — everyone knew — that Richard Nixon was a crook, a co-conspirator in a federal crime. Uttering that bald-faced lie sent his reputation tumbling down the dirty laundry chute of American history. Rather than facing impeachment, on Aug. 5, 1974, he resigned.
Like Nixon, President Donald Trump is now in the cross-hairs as an unindicted co-conspirator. An untested protocol of the U.S. Justice Department says that, to maintain the stability of government, a sitting president can’t be indicted for crimes, but, if it were you or me, we would be indicted for the felonies of which he is accused. Nevertheless, like Nixon, justice will catch up with him.
Everybody wants to testify against him. His lawyer for 10 years, Michael D. Cohen, confessed in court that he had broken campaign finance laws, saying he committed his crimes “in coordination with” and “at the direction of” Trump while Trump was running for president. He also confessed that the conspiracy’s purpose was to influence the 2016 election on Trump’s behalf.
And on the day of Cohen’s guilty plea last week, his lawyer, Lanni Davis, said Cohen had knowledge of interest to special counsel Robert Mueller and that his client was “more than happy to tell the special counsel all he knows,” including the question of Trump’s participation in a criminal conspiracy to hack into the emails of Democratic officials during the 2016 election — the crime that caused the FBI to begin its investigation.
These are felonies that would go beyond even the possibility of a conspiracy to collude with Russia to invade and distort our American elections.
Pricking up their ears at Davis’ words, New York state investigators the very next day slapped Cohen with a subpoena for all the documents relating to the Donald J. Trump Foundation as part of a state investigation of whether Trump’s ostensible charity violated tax laws and committed fraud.
Correspondingly, investigators wanting inside information have granted immunity to Trump’s tax man, his accountant Allen Weisselberg, the foundation’s treasurer.
No one knows Trump’s financial secrets better than Weisselberg. He has worked for the company since the 1970s, beginning as an accountant with Trump’s father, and working his way up to become its chief financial officer.
He is one of three executives, alongside the president’s sons, who run the trust that President Trump supposedly set up to manage the Trump Organization while he was in the White House. Cohen accused Weisselberg in his guilty plea.
Over the years, Weisselberg has handled Donald Trump’s personal finances as well as the Trump Organization’s finances. He made up and filed the contentious tax returns that the president won’t let anybody see. He also signed the checks for Trump’s fake university in its $25 million settlement with former students who sued the school for fraud.
He knows a lot — everything.
Lower down in the mud, the investigators also have endorsed immunity for the National Enquirer executive David Pecker, who made a practice of scooping up dirty stories about Trump and locking them away in a vault. He knows everything Trump has done, the man who liked to reach up under young girls’ skirts at beauty contests.
Yes, like Nixon, Trump is a crook, corrupt in the worst possible way. Mike Feinsilber, the Associated Press writer, said that Nixon knew history’s epitaph would not be “elder statesman” but “resigned in disgrace.” Trump will certainly join him.
(Bomboy is a local freelance writer.)