Double setback for Trump in separate cases
Donald Trump suffered twin setbacks with two ex-advisers facing prison sentences - and one of them saying Trump told him to commit a crime.
Within minutes of each other in separate courts, former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort was found guilty on tax and bank fraud charges, while Trump's former personal lawyer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to a range of charges.
Cohen also testified that Trump directed him to commit a crime by arranging payments ahead of the 2016 presidential election to silence two women who said they had affairs with Trump.
The president has denied having affairs with the women. His lawyer Rudy Giuliani has said the payments were made to spare Trump and his family embarrassment and were unrelated to the campaign.
The setbacks on Tuesday refocused attention on Special Counsel Robert Mueller's inquiry into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, whether Trump's campaign colluded with Moscow and whether Trump obstructed justice by firing then-FBI Director James Comey, who was formerly in charge of the investigation.
Moscow has said it did not interfere in the 2016 election and Trump has denied collusion, calling Mueller's probe a "witch hunt."
Of the two latest developments, Cohen's plea deal was the more troublesome, said those aroundTrump.
"We've dubbed him Michael 'the Rat' Cohen," said one source close to the president, who asked not to be identified.
"A bad day for the home team," the source said, adding that the legal woes could depress voter turnout and increase Republicans' risk of losing their 23-seat majority in the House of Representatives in November's congressional elections. "This hurts our midterm prospects."
A Democratic victory in November would limit Trump's ability to push through legislation and increase the risk of calls for his impeachment.
Cohen's lawyer, Lanny Davis, said late on Tuesday that his client was "more than happy" to tell Mueller's legal team everything he knows about Trump.
Democrats pounced on the Cohen and Manafort cases, saying they bolstered their argument that the Trump White House was weighed down by scandal.
"The American people deserve answers regarding the president’s role in these corrupt and criminal actions," said Democratic Representative Rosa DeLauro.
Rodell Mollineau, a senior Democratic strategist, said the news "adds to a constant drumbeat that will ultimately affect some independent voters" and help Democrats at the polls.
"Manafort being convicted, on its own, might not sway any votes. But given the totality of criminality uncovered ... it will be hard for some Republicans to ignore and even harder to explain.”
Still, there were no immediate calls for Trump's impeachment and Republican lawmakers did not join the chorus of criticism from Democratic ranks.
Published: by Radio NewsHub