Blair Bess, 12/13/2018 [Archive]

Republicans Give Trump a Get Out of Jail Pass

Republicans Give Trump a Get Out of Jail Pass

By Blair Bess


President Trump had it right when he claimed, "the system is rigged." It was a popular refrain of his leading up to the 2016 presidential election. What Trump didn't say was that he, his advisers, and members of his campaign staff were intimately engaged in activities meant to undermine - or "rig" - the eventual outcome at the polls.

With the sentencing of President Trump's one-time attorney Michael Cohen to three years in federal prison for a series of felonies, including violations of federal election laws directed by then-candidate Trump, a new level of presidential malfeasance has been confirmed.

Court documents filed by prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York effectively named the president, identified as "Individual 1," as an unindicted co-conspirator in the commission of these crimes.

At sentencing, U.S. District Court Judge William Pauley asserted that "Each of these crimes is a serious offense against the United States." Making the president even more offensive than he already has proven himself to be.

Somehow, this doesn't appear to phase Republican leaders like outgoing Utah Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch, who told reporters, "I don't care. All I can say is he's doing a great job as president." And an even better job of polarizing the country and wreaking havoc on the Constitution he swore to uphold.

Hatch - a former Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee - doesn't care about breaking the law. So long as the person holding the highest office in the land is pushing forward the agenda of his party.

Hatch didn't seem to feel the same way in 1999 when he said of then-President Bill Clinton, "This nation can tolerate a president who makes mistakes. But it cannot tolerate one who makes a mistake and then breaks the law to cover it up."

Candidates from both parties sometimes unknowingly or unwittingly make mistakes in violation of federal campaign finance laws. They're oftentimes filing errors or a result of not ticking all the right boxes when presenting data required by the Federal Election Commission. They are rarely criminal in intent. Typically, their campaigns pay a fine.

The actions of Michael Cohen and President Trump, however, were no mere mistakes. Cohen's efforts, directed by then-candidate Trump, were deliberate, calculated and corrupt.

Corrupt or questionable election practices have long been employed by operatives on both ends of the political spectrum at either the behest or with the tacit approval of some, but not all, candidates. While this is not the norm, it would be naive to assert these activities don't take place. Yet the level at which members of the Republican Party engaged in dishonest or unethical behavior during the most recent election cycle is astounding.

Republican secretaries of state in Georgia and Missouri who were running for governor actively sought to suppress minority voters from casting ballots to better the odds of their being elected. This action was apparently successful in Georgia, where the Republican candidate won by a scant margin over his Democrat opponent.

Lame-duck legislation approved by Republican lawmakers in Wisconsin was enacted to weaken the powers of the incoming Democratic governor and attorney general; and placed limits on early voting, which generally favors Democrats.

Reports of early voting data being improperly leaked - to the advantage of Republican candidates - by the election board of Bladen County in North Carolina have emerged. Allegations of absentee ballot fraud are being investigated in the same county, where Republican congressional candidate Mark Harris's victory over Democrat Dan McCready may eventually be rendered invalid by the state board of elections.

This past summer, a three-judge district court panel in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit found that congressional districts were drawn (gerrymandered) with improper goals favorable to Republican candidates. Again, in North Carolina.

Shortly after taking office, President Trump chartered a Commission on Election Integrity to investigate his claim that millions of voters, including illegal immigrants, voted illegally in 2016. To date, no evidence exists to support this. Then again, it's difficult to accept at face value the assertions of a man with little personal or professional integrity and absolutely no scruples, especially in light of the SDNY's revelation that he was intimately involved in acts that might have helped him illegally obtain office.

Through all of this, one fundamental question remains: how much more is the Republican Party willing to swallow before the corrupt actions of this administration swallow them up out of the swamp and permanently down the drain?

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Copyright 2018 Blair Bess distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Blair Bess is an award-winning journalist and columnist. He can be reached at [email protected]

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