In the end, not only was Donald Trump unable to save Paul Manafort, he was unable to save face for himself. Trump’s campaign chairman, who was already in jail for conspiring with a Russian spy while he was out on bail, was just sent to prison. The sentence was criminally short, and that’s a whole other story, but the bottom line as far as Trump is concerned is that this whole thing exposed just how weak and vulnerable he’s truly become.
This time a year ago, the average American didn’t even know who Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen were. Six months ago, the average American knew that these were two of Trump’s top guys, but didn’t know if they were guilty of anything. Now everyone knows that Manafort and Cohen are career criminals. And in the case of Cohen, at least, they know that he was committing many of those crimes at Trump’s instruction.
For Donald Trump to survive this, he would need to either come across as innocent, or come across as strong enough to overcome being guilty. Recent polling reveals that the former is impossible, as a majority of Americans now believe Trump is indeed a criminal. Trump’s own actions reveal that the latter isn’t going to work either. He tried every feeble and corrupt tactic in the book to try to stop this day from happening, and yet it happened anyway.
Of course this is all just getting started. We’re days away from people like Allen Weisselberg and Felix Sater publicly testifying about their roles in Donald Trump’s crimes. They’ve both previously given up their associates in order to save themselves, and they’ll likely do it again. Trump couldn’t stop Manafort from making him look bad by going to prison, and Trump couldn’t stop Cohen from making him look bad by exposing the crimes they committed together. Trump keeps showing us that he’s simply too weak to survive this.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report