- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Paul Manafort was hit with a guilty finding on eight of 18 financial fraud charges. Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to eight counts of campaign finance and bank and tax fraud, including making illegal contributions “in coordination and at the direction of a candidate for federal office.”

And the vultures are circling — heck, dive-bombing — to tie all these court happenings back to President Donald Trump. Let the innuendo games begin.

Conservative — and that’s “conservative” in quotes — New York Times columnist Bret Stephens called for Trump to resign.

“I’ve been skeptical about the wisdom and merit of impeachment,” Stephens wrote. “Cohen’s guilty plea changes that. The president is clearly guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors. He should resign his office or be impeached and removed from office.”


And for added kick, Mediaite, one outlet reporting on Stephens’ op-ed, made clear to refer to the commentary writer as “a right-wing columnist.” 

As if to underscore how Trump’s base is fleeing his side, post-Manafort, post-Cohen. Memo to reader: Stephens is the same guy who penned a piece in July titled, “The Rules for Beating Donald Trump.”

The news side of The New York Times didn’t exactly paint it positively for Trump, either.

“The verdict was a victory for the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, whose prosecutors introduced extensive evidence that Mr. Manafort hid millions of dollars in foreign accounts to evade taxes and lied to banks repeatedly to obtain millions of dollars in loans,” The New York Times reported.

OK. Well and good.

But ‘lest we forget — and it’s a national forgetfulness that the media, the left and the anti-Trump resistors are relying upon to fuel this Mueller investigation forward — the focus of the special counsel was supposed to be on collusion.

Specifically, the focus was supposed to be on finding out whether Trump, or players acting at the direct request of Trump, worked hand-in-hand with Russian operatives to steal away the presidential election from Hillary Clinton.

The focus was supposed to be on uncovering evidence of treasonous behavior.

And that focus has to implicate Trump directly, else it doesn’t really matter.

Else, it’s all a witch hunt aimed at bringing in one Trump-tied associate after another to roll — to use as a springboard to bring in the next in line, with hope that eventually, one of the poor sods will bring some prosecutable goods on Trump.

That’s not how a quest for justice is supposed to work. That’s more like a vengeful or personal vendetta.

Trump, from West Virginia, reacted to the news of Manafort and Cohen by saying this: “Fake news. How fake are they? Fake news and the Russian witch hunt. We’ve got a whole, big combination. Where is the collusion? You know, they’re still looking for collusion! Where is the collusion? Find some collusion. We want to find the collusion.”

He has a point.

Innuendo is not the same as fact or truth. No matter how the media spins Manafort and Cohen, the fact is: Mueller’s investigative reason for being — collusion — is not part of the pleadings.

Collusion, the supposed focus of this whole investigation, is still just a figment of the anti-Trumpers’ imaginations. Don’t be surprised if that’s where it stays.

• Cheryl Chumley can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter, @ckchumley.

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