Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Cohen, Manafort will not get liberals what they want - Evan Berryhil

by Evan Berryhil

The conviction for Paul Manafort and a plea deal for Michael Cohen certainly were not positive stories for the president, but they weren't nearly as damning as talking heads would like you to think.

Politics these days is a lot like the Wild West.  Prepare to witness supporters of President Trump circling the wagons.
If you've spent time on Twitter or watching cable news in the last week, it would be understandable to think President Trump's impeachment is a foregone conclusion.  The conviction for Paul Manafort and a plea deal for Michael Cohen certainly were not positive stories for the president, but they weren't nearly as damning as talking heads would like you to think.
In fact, while it initially may seem far-fetched, there is a chance that not only will the Cohen guilty plea not lead to the president's demise, but it will ultimately help him.
The primary implication from Cohen was that then-candidate Trump directed him to make a payment to a woman in exchange for her silence over an alleged affair, and that payment was not properly disclosed as a campaign contribution.
Naturally, the prospect of the president committing an FEC violation was enough to have the left jubilant, calling for impeachment.  But, as renowned legal scholar and liberal Hillary Clinton-supporter Alan Dershowitz explained, FEC violations are akin to jaywalking.  Every campaign commits FEC violations – that is, assuming that a violation was even committed by Trump in the first place, a proposition that is in and of itself a stretch.
Further, as we saw from James Comey in his investigation into Hillary Clinton's misuse of classified documents, "acting with the necessary criminal intent" is an important factor when determining a crime.  It should be difficult for even fringe liberals to attempt to make an argument with a straight face that Donald Trump, new to the political arena, knowingly and intentionally committed an FEC violation. 
What the left fails to realize is that ratcheting up the heat on President Trump from will only result in his supporters battening down the hatches.  Donald Trump never claimed to be a perfect person, and those imperfections were already accounted for when people went to the polls in November 2016.  The developments from the Cohen plea deal are essentially nothing voters hadn't already priced into the decision they made in 2016.
President Trump's supporters see Michael Cohen and his attorney, longtime Clinton ally Lanny Davis, doing and saying whatever it takes to save themselves.  They view the situation as yet another attempt to bring down a legitimately elected president on a technicality, with his only real crime being that he won the election.
Former Clinton pollster Mark Penn noted the contrast between what President Trump is being accused of by Cohen versus what Hillary Clinton actually did and the treatment she has received.  Neither Christopher Steele nor Fusion GPS was listed on campaign finance forms, despite the fact that payment to them was a clear campaign expenditure and despite unambiguous campaign finance laws requiring their disclosure. 
For Republicans who already view the justice system having different standards for Republicans and Democrats, the recent attacks against President Trump are just the latest iteration.  The situation just further cements their belief that the investigations into President Trump are a witch hunt.
As the left's assaults on the president move increasingly away from Russian collusion, the rhetoric is going to backfire.  Similar to Bill Clinton's increased approval rating during his impeachment, President Trump is in a position to experience a bump in, or at least maintain, his support.  The more the public views attacks from the left as unwarranted, overblown, and hypocritical, the more likely they are to rally in support of the president.
President Trump already established a unique level of loyalty among Republicans.  Outside post-9-11 George W. Bush, Trump has regularly polled the highest support among presidents in recent memory.  Further, the most recent polling suggests that the news of last week with Michael Cohen and Paul Manafort has not caused President Trump to suffer any damage in approval rating.  According to a NBC News-WSJ poll taken between August 22 and 25, his approval rating was "virtually unchanged."
What we may see going forward is that as the volume and intensity of the attacks on President Trump grow, which they will, his supporters will circle the wagons.  Not only will his support remain "unchanged," but it will grow if he begins to look like the victim of unfair attacks. Those same attacks are what will drive Republicans support at the polls in November, leaving Democrats again wondering what happened.

Evan Berryhill is a former communications staffer for Rep. David B. McKinley.  Currently, Evan is a second-year law student at West Virginia University.  He has written for American Thinker, The Federalist, The Daily Caller, The Hill, the Washington Examiner, the Charleston Gazette, and W.V. State Journal.  You can follow Evan on Twitter at @EvBerryhill.

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