Donald Trump
Credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr

Where to start? The president’s own executive branch of the government has such overwhelming evidence of criminality that they felt compelled to seek and were able to obtain the consent of the judicial branch of the government to raid the office, home, and hotel room of Trump’s personal lawyer, Mr. Fix-It and consigliere, Michael Cohen. And part of what they were authorized to seize were communications between Cohen and Trump that would ordinarily be protected by attorney-client privilege. In other words, they had strong evidence that Cohen and Trump have engaged in a criminal conspiracy or conspiracies.

Is that a good beginning?

Needless to say, nothing like this is ever supposed to happen. Under ordinary circumstances, there is no chance in hell that warrants like this would be sought, let alone authorized by a long list of people from the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York (who was appointed by Trump), to the acting head of the Criminal Division of the Justice Department, to the Deputy Attorney General (who was also appointed by Trump), to the U.S. District Court judge. Authorizing raids on the president’s lawyer that seek his presumptively privileged communications is a sure-fire career-ender, and anyone in the chain of this process could and would have put an end to the idea if it wasn’t on the most irrefutably sound foundation.

That this happened at all isn’t just glaring evidence that a huge crime is about to surface but also an indication of just how furious the Justice Department and the FBI is with the behavior and rhetoric of the president. They are not going to tolerate it.

As for the consequences, Michael Cohen is the weak spot in Trump’s Death Star. There is probably more evidence of crime in his files than you could find from any other source. The scope of the criminality implicated here is mind-boggling and possibly involves everything from the giant fraud of Trump University to bribes of foreign dignitaries to sophisticated money laundering schemes, to countless payouts for hush money, to a comprehensive list of paramours, to thuggish threats to feed people their own testicles.  It also has direct relevance to the Russia investigation on almost every level.

Cohen was negotiating a Moscow Trump Tower with the help of Felix Sater (who is already cooperating) throughout 2015. He carried a message to Michael Flynn on how to implicate the current Ukrainian president in crimes. His brother is married to the daughter of a recently deceased oligarch and he was implicated as the contact with the Russians in the Steele dossier.

Ordinarily, much of this evidence wouldn’t be usable in court, but Trump won’t be tried in court. The evidence presented against him will come in form of reports and be delivered to Congress. Trump defense lawyers won’t have much success trying to get portions of it thrown out or suppressed by the congressional jury. The public may even see this information.

The chances that the FBI didn’t just gain control of the motherload of impeachable offenses is nil.

The idea that the Republicans will be able to ignore this evidence just went from probable to unlikely. There’s literally nothing that Trump could less afford to have happen than to have Michael Cohen’s files end up in the hands of prosecutors.

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Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly. See all his writing at