Chris Collins
Credit: Yahoo/Flickr

Maybe your mother told you that you can judge someone’s character by the company they keep, and I think that is at least accurate enough to serve as a basic self-defense mechanism. Today, Donald Trump’s deputy campaign chairman, who is facing substantial jail time despite copping a plea, finished testifying in the first of two trials against Trump’s campaign chairman. Both of them are guilty of a plethora of crimes, including conspiracy, money laundering, and bank and wire fraud. But they are hardly the only close Trump associates who are already in big trouble.

It appears facially obvious that Donald Trump Jr. lied to Congress. Trump’s personal lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen had his offices and hotel room raided and is sure to face a number of criminal charges regardless of whether or not he decides to become a cooperating witness. Felix Sater, Trump’s longtime business associate and the point man for the failed attempt to build a Moscow Trump Tower, became a cooperating witness months ago. The same is true of Michael Flynn, Trump’s first national security advisor. Roger Stone appears to be quickly approaching his time in the barrel, as his friend Kristin Davis (the “Manhattan Madam”) is scheduled to appear before a grand jury this Wednesday.

There’s a much longer list of Trump-affiliated people who have legal vulnerabilities or have already resigned for unethical and/or scandalous behavior, but I’m just focusing on people who were very important to either Trump’s business or his political success.

On the political front, very few elected Republicans were initially willing to endorse Trump. The first in the Senate was Jeff Sessions of Alabama. His reward was to be given the responsibility of organizing a foreign policy team for the campaign and transition–and to then get his dream job of attorney general. Unfortunately, he lied about his contacts with Russians during his confirmation hearings and has had to recuse himself from the subsequent investigation of Russia’s interference on Trump’s behalf.

The first congressperson to endorse Trump was Rep. Chris Collins of New York. He was indicted this morning for insider trading.

The charges against Collins, filed in the Southern District of New York, claimed he was part of a scheme to sell off stock of biotech firm Innate Immunotherapeutics in June 2017. Collins’s son, Cameron, was also charged, as was Stephen Zarsky. The trio have been accused of engaging in sales of Innate stock after the congressman fed them information about a failed trial of a drug meant to treat multiple sclerosis.

Chris Collins, who was on Innate’s board, learned of the failed trial and “violated the duties he owed to Innate by passing material, non-public information regarding the drug trial results to his son…so that Cameron Collins could use that information to make timely trades in Innate stock and tip others,” the indictment read.

The sales, which also involved six other unnamed and uncharged co-conspirators, allowed the congressman, his son and Zarsky to avoid more than $768,000 in losses. When the failed drug trial was released to the public, Innate stock plummeted by 92 percent, according to the indictment.

People of bad character are attracted to other people of similarly bad character. With Trump, this works both ways. He flocks to people like Roy Cohn and Roger Stone, while people like Jeff Sessions and Chris Collins flock to him. The result is a collection of truly deplorable criminals.

They are getting rolled up now.

Martin Longman

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