Donald Trump is a walking communicable disease.
As the saying goes, if you lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas.
Lie down with Trump, and fleas are the least of your worries. You could get up in jail.
None of those who pleaded guilty or were convicted of felonies by the Special Counsel would be facing jail time if they had not associated themselves with Trump
Donald Trump’s reverse Midas Touch is turning a rapidly increasing number of his associates into felons. It is exposing them to criminal liability, and it appears that many of them will end up serving prison sentences.
The irony is that even though some of their crimes had little if anything to do with Trump, they are going to jail because, and only because of their association with him. The root cause of their predicament may be their own cavalier disregard of the law, but they are being held accountable only because of their proximity to Trump.
Paul Manafort, for instance, is a swamp creature of the first order. He has richly earned every day of the sentence he will receive for his arrogant, entitled tax cheating, defrauding of banks, and falsification of government filings.
None of those crimes had anything to do with Trump or Russian hacking. But Manafort wouldn’t even be in the dock if his criminal activity had not been discovered by the Special Counsel in the course of investigating Trump. He would have gotten away with all of it.
The same is true of Michael Cohen. While two of the eight counts to which Cohen pleaded guilty involved violations of campaign law, the six more serious counts had nothing to do with Trump. They arose out of Cohen’s own business transactions. But it is unlikely that Cohen would have come under scrutiny if it were not for his association with Trump. The criminal trial that resulted in his conviction, although prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, was initially uncovered by Mueller’s team, and only then referred to the SDNY for prosecution.
Add Michael Flynn to the list of those whose path to criminal accountability was paved by Trump. Flynn, who had a mostly sterling reputation for accomplishments in the field of military intelligence, was forced to plead guilty to a felony precisely because he allowed himself to be sucked into Trump’s orbit and then lied to protect him.
Add Trump’s Deputy Campaign Manager, Rick Gates, to the list. And Trump foreign policy advisor George Papadopoulos. And Manafort associate Alex van der Zwaan. And the lesser known Richard Pinedo, who pleaded guilty to identity fraud after Mueller’s team discovered that he was opening bank accounts and then selling them to shadowy purchasers, including Russians who were using social media platforms to influence the 2016 presidential election.
None would be facing prison time but for Trump.
And then there are those who have not yet been charged, but who remain seriously exposed. Family members Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner could all wind up facing criminal charges. (More on that in an article to follow soon.) Ditto employees and outside professionals associated with the Trump Organization or the Trump Foundation who were complicit in corrupt payments of hush money, violations of campaign finance laws, or improper use of Foundation funds.
Roger Stone? Carter Page? David Pecker? Them too. And doubtless others.
The names Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Hope Hicks will forever be infected by exposure to Trump
Even those who may not be exposed to criminal liability will be stained forever with the Trump brand. The names Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Hope Hicks will always be infected by exposure to Trump, just like the names Haldeman and Ehrlichman are forever tarnished by their association with Nixon.
No wonder Trump can’t attract smart, sane, experienced professionals into his orbit.
Any job offer by Trump should come with a warning:
“Caution! Accepting this offer could be hazardous to your freedom.”