Wow, it’s all going down for the Donald. The Threepenny Opera cast of rogues and chancers who colonised the centre of the Republican Party — never was a host more willing to receive a parasite — is starting to come apart.
One-time Trump campaign director Paul Manafort has been found guilty on eight counts of fraud-related crimes, and Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen — the dead-spit of Henry Winkler’s turn as lawyer Barry Zuckerkorn in Arrested Development, but that’s not important right now — copping a plea deal, over multiple matters. Crucial among them is the payoff to porn star Stormy Daniels to keep quiet about her “affair” with Trump.
Cohen now says that he did so as a lawyer under the instruction of his client, Trump. That puts both in breach of electoral law. There’s no question that it qualifies for the “high crimes and misdemeanours” aspect of the impeachment provisions. It’s the sort of crime that the impeachment statutes were made for.
Essentially, the Trump campaign was three intersecting chancer pushes, with as yet unknown amounts of Russian state involvement in one of them. That’s the Manafort crowd, raking in money from political consultancies to right-wingers in the Russian orbit; the Breitbart-Steve Bannon axis — apt word — trying to return nativist hard right politics to the centre of the right mainstream; and the Trump family, a bunch of Manhattan grifters, with the profile the Breitbart crowd needed to jump to the next level.
As this comes apart utterly — and with the US’ carcerality, and its willingness to impose 20- and 30-year prison terms on select high-profile figures — the collapse will be complete.
Trump may yet survive it all, for the simple reason, still not understood in Westminster systems, that the president is an elected God-King (have a look at the back of a US $1 bill to understand the role of the president). The idea of removal — seen from a country that changes leaders like underwear and for the same motive, when they’re more skidmark than fabric — has to be understood as a traumatic event in the national order.
Nevertheless that also implies the opposite. When it goes, it really goes. With Mike Pence poised to take the reins, impeachment is more emotionally than politically catastrophic in the US. The next move is Trump’s. He could go for a Saturday Night Massacre on steroids: fire the attorney-general and Mueller, “take over” the investigation, and try and brazen it out. Nixon tried that, and it killed him. But that was in another country, and besides, the wrench is deed.