- - Sunday, September 2, 2018

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

The special counsel’s offshoot crew in the Justice Department’s Manhattan office managed to leverage President Trump’s former attorney, Michael Cohen, into pleading guilty to a campaign violation non-crime (“Trump: Cohen’s campaign finance violations ‘not a crime,’” Web, Aug. 22).

Campaign violations, real ones, are almost invariably treated civilly, not criminally. Why the criminal charge here, then? Because bureaucratic prosecutors wanted to trade up to ensnare the New York upstart outsider who is now president of the whole country — and this was the only pseudo-charge from what Robert Mueller transferred to them that they could, however tenuously, link to him. Thus they made Mr. Cohen’s plea say that Mr. Trump directed him to pay the hush money, giving Mr. Cohen the choice to spend more years with family than with cellmates.

But the feds got nothing from the legally vacuous language they added to Mr. Cohen’s plea. Surely they know, as clearly as Alan Dershowitz does, that there is no federal law restricting a candidate from paying out of personal funds all he wants, to any non-foreigner he wants, to protect his candidacy, his family or both. There is also no law that prevents him from reimbursing someone else, such as his attorney, for doing so on his behalf, whether he directs him to pay it or reimburses him upoon finding out about it later.

Yet the anti-Trump press and TV pundits, taking their cue from the Southern District’s campaign-plea perfidy, were off and running to denounce Mr. Cohen and the president. Omitted in their telling is the reality that Mr. Mueller’s personal mission of desperately seeking “high crimes and misdemeanors” against the president has, after almost two years and more than $25 million of taxpayer money, managed only to get a few former Trump subordinates to plead to process crime traps and to get the Southern District to shame itself by charging campaign non-crimes against another one.

High crimes? There’s nary even a misdemeanor in sight.

JOHN A. LANZETTA

Miami


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