As investigations continue against President Donald Trump, ethics watchdog organization Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington compiled a stunning report on his criminal offenses this week that Americans should keep in mind when they vote in 2020.
Last year, Trump’s former fixer Michael Cohen implicated Trump in campaign finance felonies he committed in an effort to cover up Trump’s extramarital affairs with two women and keep them silent ahead of the 2016 Election.
Trump remains an unindicted co-conspirator, but the ethics watchdog group dug deeper into filings by federal prosecutors and uncovered up to eight criminal offenses Trump may have committed in the last three years related to the campaign finance felonies.
“There is compelling evidence that Donald J. Trump may have personally committed up to eight criminal offenses while campaigning for president and during the first year of his presidency,” the report begins. “The potential offenses include violations of laws regulating campaign contributions and their disclosure, making false records and statements, and a conspiracy to defraud (or to violate the laws of) the United States.”
The report details the alleged offenses and the potential punishments.
Five of Trump’s potential violations involved his apparent knowing and willful direction, receipt, and concealment of unlawful contributions to his presidential campaign in violation of the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA), 52 U.S.C. § 30101 et seq. While it is true that technical offenses of the FECA are penalized with civil fines, more serious offenses are subject to criminal penalties. Unlawful campaign contributions or expenditures in excess of $25,000, made knowingly and willfully, are felonies punishable by up to five years in prison.
Far from representing incidental offenses that would best be met with civil fines, Trump’s conduct
appears to have been part of a deliberate effort to manipulate public opinion and to prevent damaging
information about his past from coming to light. One of the central issues in the 2016 campaign—
particularly the pivotal final month—was Trump’s attitude toward and treatment of women. Preventing
the American people from learning about accusations that he had affairs with two women appears to
have been one of the main objectives of the apparent criminal scheme.
But wait, there’s more!
“Trump potentially committed at least two additional felonies while attempting to cover up his campaign
finance offenses,” the report continues.
By causing his campaign to submit false records to the Federal Election Commission (FEC), Trump likely violated 18 U.S.C. § 1519, which prohibits the destruction, alteration, or falsification of records in federal investigations. And by submitting a public financial disclosure form to the Office of Government Ethics (OGE) on which he failed to disclose that he owed Michael Cohen $130,000 (for paying one of the women), President Trump also potentially made a false statement in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1001.
Finally, Trump potentially participated in a criminal conspiracy to perpetrate these offenses and/or
defraud the United States by undermining the FEC. Under 18 U.S.C. § 371, it is a separate felony, also punishable by up to five years in prison, for two or more persons to agree to commit an offense or
undermine a lawful government function such as enforcement of federal election law. Trump may have
participated in such a conspiracy by agreeing with Cohen, the Trump Organization, two Trump
Organization executives, American Media Inc. (AMI), David Pecker (the CEO of AMI), the Trump Campaign, and possibly others to undermine the enforcement of federal election law and/or to commit the FECA violations and conceal them.
Indeed, the National Enquirer struck a plea deal that is now in jeopardy admitting that it helped Cohen pay the hush money to the women and buried one of their accounts.
The ethics group then surmised that Trump would face criminal charges if he were not the president.
The conduct we describe appears to have been calculated to defraud the American people,” the report concluded. “Were President Trump an ordinary citizen, unprotected by the Department of Justice’s policy of not seeking an indictment of a sitting president, he could well be facing the prospect of imminent criminal charges. As it stands, the president could be named as an unindicted co-conspirator if his business and campaign are indicted, or he could be indicted upon leaving office. And regardless of what prosecutorial decisions are made, it will be important for the American people and their elected representatives to carefully and critically evaluate this conduct.”
Frankly, the president should not be above the law, therefore Trump should be charged and arrested like any other citizen would be. He certainly should be impeached for his criminal activities, but Republicans refuse to defend the rule of law and don’t care about their constitutional duty.
Trump’s crimes are laid out by court filings and this report doesn’t even include potential conspiracy against the United States and obstruction of justice stemming from the Russia investigation, which could be revealed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s final report, which could come as early as this week.
At this point, if Republicans continue to refuse to remove Trump from office, the American people will not only do it themselves in 2020, they’ll oust Republican lawmakers from Congress for protecting him and this scandal will hang over the GOP in every election for decades to come. They should be ashamed of themselves.
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