The legacy media was full of speculation Wednesday: Politico said “legal blows fuel impeachment fears” and CNN said being indicted isn’t Donald Trump’s problem, “impeachment might be.”
But several commentators, including famed Harvard professor Alan Dershowitz, a lifelong liberal, advised Democrats champing at the bit to remove the president to chill.
Your dreams aren’t coming true today.
The calls for impeachment began as soon as onetime Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort was convicted of financial crimes that happened long before he worked for Trump, and onetime Trump personal lawyer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to paying off women who claimed they had sexual encounters with Trump.
Dershowitz, interviewed by Tucker Carlson on Fox News Tuesday night, said such a payoff isn’t illegal if the president paid it directly.
“The allegation here is that it was Cohen who paid it and made it a campaign contribution at the direction of the president,” he said.
But those “already playing funeral music” for the president need to rewind, he said.
Anything brought against the president would depend “on the credibility of Cohen,” he explained, since it rests entirely on his word about what happened.
And that may not be entirely reliable, nor entirely Cohen’s fault.
The judge in the Manafort case, Dershowitz pointed out, had warned of what can happen.
Squeezed to ‘compose’
“When [prosecutors] squeeze people like Manafort or Cohen, they squeeze them not only to sing but sometimes to compose,” he said.
That means embellishing their story.
After all, they are looking at potentially long prison terms, and they hear from prosecutors: “You have two choices. You’ll die in prison or you’ll give me the story that I can use to go and get the president.”
Dershowitz said he’s not claiming such threats were used against Cohen, but “it’s very easy to embellish the story” with words like “as the president directed me.”
He told Trump critics, like those who complained on Wednesday that the Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh had to be halted because of it was Trump who nominated him, to cool it.
“We’re a long way from tolling the bells for this administration,” he said. “It’s a negative day, but not a fatal one.”
Dershowitz said every administration violates election laws, and the resolution almost always is a fine.
“Violations of election las are regarded as kind of like jaywalking in the realm of things,” he said. “Here, they’re trying to elevate this into an impeachable offense.”
In fact, the Gateway Pundit recalled that Barack Obama’s campaign was fined $375,000 for campaign reporting violations.
But in Obama’s case, there wasn’t even discussion of jail sentences.
Gateway Pundit blogger Jim Hoft noted it was one of the largest fines ever levied against a presidential campaign.
Levin: Crimes don’t exist
Commentator Mark Levin went much further than Dershowitz during an interview with Sean Hannity of Fox News.
He said Cohen lawyer Lanny Davis, long a fierce defender of and fixer for the Clintons, had his client plead guilty “to two counts of criminality that don’t exist.”
First, he said the results come from a plea bargain, an agreement between a prosecutor and a defendant, and don’t set any precedent or document any evidence.
“Just because a prosecutor says somebody violated the law doesn’t make it so,” he said.
Levin said a businessman who instructs his lawyer to pay a settlement to resolve a dispute while he’s heading into a political campaign does not involve “a campaign expenditure.”
“That is perfectly legal,” he said.
“This Lanny Davis had his client plead guilty to two offenses that are not offenses,” he said.
He turned the question around, openly questioning whether any of the U.S. attorneys, or anyone in the Department of Justice, ever has paid money out in a settlement.
“It’s legal. It’s a contract. It’s done all the time,” he said.
He needled special counsel Robert Mueller, whose investigation prompted the Manafort and Cohen cases, yet has failed to produce evidence of the subject he was assigned to investigate, Trump campaign collusion with Russia in 2016.
He said Mueller is trying to indict a sitting president, but the laws doesn’t allow it.
Equal application of laws dead
Hannity pointed out that the history of such campaign-related cases shows equal application of the law is dead.
He reminded viewers of “tax cheat” Tim Geithner, Obama’s first treasury secretary, who escaped any significant punishment.
And he pointed to Al Sharpton, who owed “millions” in taxes but ended up being fined $285,000 by the Federal Election Commission.
Charlie Rangel, a Democratic New York congressman who failed to pay taxes on rental income, also escaped serious punishment.
Then there was Sen. Tom Daschle, the former Democratic leader from South Dakota, who failed to pay taxes and was only fined.
All Democrats and left-leaning.
But Cohen now is getting prison time.
Hannity’s description of the double standard begins at about 8:00:
“In today’s two-tiered justice as a Democrat you can commit financial fraud and get away with it,” he said.
Citing allegations against Hillary Clinton, he argued that if one is a Democrat, one can have subpoenaed information, delete it and subject the computer to “bleaching” and then have subordinates smash the drives with hammers.
‘If your name is Donald Trump…
He charged that Clinton’s exoneration even was written by the FBI before agents interviewed her about the alleged crimes.
However, “If your name is Donald trump, or you’re associated with him, your lives will be scoured, doors kicked down.”
Hannity said the current Washington agenda for Democrats is “an attempt of a political takedown of a man the deep state never wanted to be president.”
There are other conservatives caught up in similar fights.
Supporters of former Republican Texas congressman Steve Stockman, who is in prison for his use of donated funds, claim the charges ared politically motivated.
The case developed after Stockman fought aggressively to expose Obama administration corruption.
Just this week, Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., and his wife were indicted on records and contributions counts.
Hunter was among the early endorsers of Trump.
And just weeks ago, Republican Rep. Christopher Collins of New York, the first member of Congress to support President Trump during his presidential campaign, was indicted along with his son and his son’s finance with various wire banking counts.