- The Washington Times - Monday, March 25, 2019

If President Trump was tired of winning Monday, it didn’t show.

Prosecutors revealed that Michael Avenatti, former attorney for porn actress Stormy Daniels and gleeful tormenter of the president, was charged with extortion and fraud in an alleged scheme to bilk $22 million from sporting goods giant Nike.

The karmic joy in Camp Trump was not containable. The president’s eldest son, Donald Jr., chortled at Mr. Avenatti on Twitter, “If you plead fast enough, you might just get to share a cell with Michael Cohen!”

Mr. Avenatti was charged a day after the president learned that special counsel Robert Mueller found no evidence of a conspiracy between Trump campaign officials and Russia in the 2016 presidential election. The president and his team claimed total vindication in the investigation.

Mr. Trump said the people who put him through the two-year ordeal should be “looked at” and have done “evil things.”

“It was a false narrative, it was a terrible thing. We can never let this happen to another president again,” Mr. Trump said.

The Mueller report was completed on the same weekend that the president declared the U.S. and its allies had wiped out the last remnants of the Islamic State’s caliphate in Syria.

Not that he needs the money, but maybe Mr. Trump should buy a Powerball ticket.

“This Avenatti news is icing on the cake for President Trump’s week,” tweeted CNN White House reporter Abby D. Phillip, who has been an occasional target of the president’s ire.

Said another White House reporter, “You couldn’t script a better Monday for the president.”

For good measure, several top White House advisers delivered heartfelt I-told-you-so criticisms of the media and Democrats for pushing the Russia story relentlessly for the past two years.

Reporters asked Mr. Trump at midday whether he wants Attorney General William P. Barr to release the Mueller report to the public.

“It wouldn’t bother me at all,” Mr. Trump said.

On such a day, what could possibly bother the man?

Mr. Trump was feeling so confident that he met with several Russians in the Oval Office. These Russians were among the members of the Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals hockey team, on a celebratory visit to the White House.

“You’re winners in the highest sense,” the president told the team. “It’s very tough to win.”

It was only in late February when Mr. Trump couldn’t seem to buy a victory. His second denuclearization summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un ended early on Feb. 28 with no agreement, forcing Mr. Trump to fly back to Washington empty-handed.

On Capitol Hill during the summit, House Democrats were hearing testimony from former Trump attorney Michael Cohen, who outlined Mr. Trump’s alleged misdeeds, including orchestrating hush-money payments to Miss Daniels and another woman. The president blamed the domestic spectacle in part for the collapse of his talks with the North Koreans.

Few people irritated the White House in the past year more than Mr. Avenatti, who predicted that the president, Donald Trump Jr. and others would soon be in handcuffs. When news of his criminal charges surfaced Monday, the president’s son tweeted to him, “It looks like you’ll be the one spending time behind bars after all. #basta,” using Mr. Avenatti’s signature signoff hashtag.

The two famous Trump supporters who call themselves “Diamond and Silk” tweeted about Mr. Avenatti, “You may not pay what you owe, but you will reap what you sow!”

Nick Hanna, the U.S. attorney for the Central District of California, said it was a coincidence that the Avenatti charges were filed Friday — the same day Mr. Mueller filed his report. He said the case against Mr. Avenatti began during the Obama administration in 2015, when the IRS tried to collect payroll taxes from an Avenatti business and discovered he was shifting money to try to conceal it.

As positive developments washed over the West Wing, Mr. Trump’s senior aides didn’t miss the opportunity to remind the mainstream media of how wrong it was in promoting every twist and turn of the Russia “collusion” story since 2016.

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway challenged Democrats and the media to finally accept the election of Donald Trump as president in 2016.

Mrs. Conway, who was Mr. Trump’s campaign manager, said reporters asked her daily before the election whether he would accept the results if Democrat Hillary Clinton won.

“Will you?” Mrs. Conway asked reporters. “Will people who are there for the destruction of Donald Trump accept the election results in 2016 finally? You owe the country an apology.”

She said she asked the media immediately after Mr. Trump’s election to reflect on their unfair treatment of him. “But nobody did,” she said. “Nobody lost their jobs after being so wrong.”

She said the attacks on Mr. Trump have turned him into “a great victim” heading into the 2020 election campaign.

“This president has been under this cloud, not of his making, by people who simply just could not accept how wrong they were about 2016,” she said.

In the rush to cover a phony story about Russia, Mrs. Conway said, the media largely ignored the work that the administration has been doing on the opioid crisis, helping veterans, prison reform and other developments.

“It gets my goat that we’re doing great things in that building behind you and you refuse to cover it, because you had to cover collusion, you had to cover conspiracy, you had to cover the Russians, you had to cover treason,” Mrs. Conway said. “And there are people out there who are relying on you to help us tell them what we’re doing for them.”

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Mr. Mueller’s investigation into collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia was “something that should never have happened.”

“This is a two-year waste of taxpayer time and dollars. They spent over $25 million on this just to find out that there was nothing there. This should never happen to another president, and we want to make sure that the institution of the president is protected,” Mrs. Sanders said on NBC’s “Today Show.”

With cable news showing the Avenatti developments on a split-screen TV in his West Wing office, deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley was asked whether the White House was tired of winning this week.

“Nope,” Mr. Gidley replied. “Never.”

• Tom Howell Jr., Stephen Dinan and Bailey Vogt contributed to this report.

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