Lies, fraud and scandal leave Trump exposed

Vulnerable: Bookmakers now believe Trump has a 60% chance of being impeached.

Can anything bring Trump down? The president’s lawyer has pleaded guilty to paying hush money to two women during the election campaign. He says Trump told him to do it. Is this the end?

Late on Tuesday afternoon, America was treated to an astonishing split-screen moment involving two important people in the Trump empire.

In Virginia, President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, was convicted of financial fraud. It was the first conviction in Robert Mueller’s special counsel investigation.

But this news was nothing compared to what had happened in New York just minutes earlier.

Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, pleaded guilty to violating finance laws during the presidential election campaign.

Cohen admitted that he had arranged hush payments to two women who are suspected of having affairs with Trump. Trump, he said, had told him to do it.

These are serious charges. Many experts believe that if Cohen’s account can be proved, it means Trump himself is guilty of federal crimes.

But most experts also agree that Trump is unlikely to face criminal charges while he is still president.

What is possible is that he could be fired by Congress under the U.S. Constitution’s provision for impeaching a president over “high crimes and misdemeanours”.

Trump has weathered storms before. But if this does not bring him down, then perhaps only defeat at the ballot box will.

Closing in

We have seen this all before, say sceptics. The Access Hollywood tape. The scandal over his tax returns. His firing of James Comey. His defence of the Charlottesville protesters. Trump appears to be made of Teflon. Only hardcore liberal news junkies really think impeachment is close.

This time really might be different, reply others. On most of those other occasions, Trump may have offended and enraged many people but he was not breaking the law. Mueller has only been on the job for 15 months. There is every reason to believe this is the start of something big.

You Decide

  1. Will Trump ever be impeached?

Activities

  1. Summarise this story in less than 100 words.

Some People Say...

“If those payments were a crime for Michael Cohen, then why wouldn’t they be a crime for Donald Trump?”

Lanny Davis, Cohen’s lawyer

What do you think?

Q & A

What do we know?
Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, has pleaded guilty to violating finance laws during the 2016 presidential election by handling hush money for Trump’s alleged lovers. Minutes later, Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign manager, was found guilty by a jury of a string of bank and tax fraud charges.
What do we not know?
Whether Trump would co-operate with the investigation.

Word Watch

Financial fraud
He hid millions of dollars in foreign accounts to evade taxes and lied to banks to obtain millions of dollars in loans. The charges date back to before his association with the Trump campaign.
Impeaching a president
No US president has ever been removed from office on the basis of impeachment.
Charlottesville
In August last year, a far-right demonstration in Charlottesville, Virginia, turned violent.
15 months
As a comparison, the Watergate investigation ran for more than two years.

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