Washington - Donald Trump probably would not have become president without his victory in seven of the 11 primaries held on Super Tuesday, March 1, 2016. Now his presidency is in danger of being undone by Terrible Tuesday - August 21, 2018. This was the day when his campaign manager, Paul Manafort, was convicted of eight felony counts in a Virginia courtroom and his personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, pleaded guilty to eight felony counts in a New York courtroom.
The Manafort charges of tax and bank fraud do not directly implicate the president, but they do vindicate the special counsel, Robert Mueller, showing that his inquiry is no "Rigged Witch Hunt" but a serious investigation that has produced 35 indictments, six guilty pleas and one conviction. No special counsel has done more, faster. If Manafort had been found not guilty, it would have been a massive blow to Mueller. Because he was found guilty, it is a blow to Trump.
But not nearly as big a blow as Cohen's admission under oath that he violated federal campaign laws by arranging illicit payments to adult-film star Stormy Daniels and Playboy playmate Karen McDougal "in coordination with and at the direction of a candidate for federal office." For the first time since Watergate, the president is now an alleged co-conspirator in the commission of a federal crime. As Cohen's lawyer, Lanny Davis, said, his client "testified under oath that Donald Trump directed him to commit a crime by making payments to two women for the principal purpose of influencing an election. If those payments were a crime for Cohen, then why wouldn't they be a crime for Donald Trump?"
And Cohen may have only begun implicating the president. Davis said on MSNBC that Cohen would be happy to share other incriminating information with the special counsel, including "knowledge about the computer crime of hacking and whether or not Mr. Trump knew ahead of time about that crime and even cheered it on." This would seem to vindicate an earlier leak that Cohen may be able to provide the "smoking gun" evidence showing that Trump himself gave the go-ahead to collusion with the Kremlin.
In short, there is growing evidence that the president is, to use the label favored by Richard Nixon, "a crook." Even buying the silence of his reputed playmates could by itself have been enough to swing an exceedingly close election decided by fewer than 80,000 votes in three states. Trump certainly would not have authorized the payments unless he thought it was politically imperative to do so. There is also considerable evidence, as I previously argued, that Russia's intervention on Trump's behalf affected the outcome. Even more than Nixon, Trump is now an illegitimate president whose election is tainted by fraud.