A number of people noted overnight that President Trump’s first and second Congressional endorsers in 2016 have now both been indicted. Those are Chris Collins of New York and Duncan Hunter of California.
Almost everyone who gets close to Trump ends up getting burned. Not usually indicted, or at least not yet – but no one emerges with their reputations or dignity intact. But this is a different issue. Neither of these alleged crimes have anything to do with Trump. It also doesn’t seemed like his climate of criminal permissiveness played any clear role. It’s something different and a pattern I think we know: people who gravitate to Trump tend to be people of poor moral character. Or to put it more precisely: people who gravitate to Trump tend to be people who share his values and those values include a high willingness to break the law.
Of course, let’s not forget the big news from yesterday. Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to multiple felonies and Paul Manafort was convicted of multiple felonies that – as Trump keeps reminding us – were not related to Trump in any way. Cohen’s campaign finance violations were tied to Trump. He worked with Trump to commit the crimes and he did them on Trump’s behalf. It seems clear that Trump running for President was the worst thing that ever happened to Michael Cohen. But the bulk of Cohen’s crimes had nothing directly to do with Trump, even though they happened while he was also working for Trump.
The bulk of Cohen’s crimes were tied to loans he advanced to the Shtayner family, another Ukrainian emigre family tied to his father-in-law who are based in New York but run a major taxi operation in Chicago. Cohen eventually loaned them $6 million out of lines of credit he obtained fraudulently (bank fraud). He made millions in interest on those loans which he did not report to the IRS (tax fraud).
These are really garden variety crimes. Bank fraud can get somewhat technical. But if you make literally millions in interest, I think everybody knows that’s supposed to be reported as income. It’s just a real comfort level with committing crimes. There’s no other way to put it. We know this about the Trumps. We basically already knew this about his business associates. And it makes sense. What’s striking to me is that it applies to people who appear to gravitate toward him for what we’d normally think of as ideological.