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Donald Trump’s Courthouse Woes Top This Week’s Internet News Roundup – ANITH
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Donald Trump’s Courthouse Woes Top This Week’s Internet News Roundup

Donald Trump’s Courthouse Woes Top This Week’s Internet News Roundup

When this week started, I genuinely thought that I’d be writing about Madonna’s surreal VMA appearance or perhaps Cher’s continuing Abba tributes. Alas, that was not to be. It turned out to be a week in which all manner of big political events happened around the President of the United States. (And elsewhere, as well; Australia has a new Prime Minister! Spain is going to exhume the remains of Francisco Franco! We’re just going to focus on the U.S., is all.) So, without further ado, let’s dive into the five is-this-really-happening online conversations that the nation’s is-this-really-still-happening President was looming over this week.

Guilty Seems To Be The Hardest Word, Vol. I

What Happened: In the first movement of the President’s no-good, very-bad week, Michael Cohen told a court (and the press) a few things that may not have been surprising, but also weren’t expected.

Where It Blew Up: Twitter, media reports

What Really Happened: As journalists and political pundits alike waited impatiently for a potential verdict in the Paul Manafort trial—don’t worry, we’ll get to that—news also started filtering out that the President’s fixer and personal lawyer was going to appear in court later that day, potentially to plead guilty to charges. And then, all of a sudden…

The details matter so much, in fact, that no one was immediately sure what the plea would mean for special counsel Robert Mueller’s larger investigation into President Trump. But that mystery didn’t last long:

Of course, there was all kinds of coverage and analysis of what Cohen was saying with the plea. But then, things got surprisingly real:

In case you missed the implication, Lanny Davis — Cohen’s attorney — took to Twitter to spell it out to everyone:

And, just like that, the president became an unindicted co-conspirator in serious campaign finance violations.

This might not have the impact it deserves, both because it’s unclear whether a sitting President can actually be indicted and because the President is relying on the “It’s not a crime” defense. No matter what the eventual outcome, however, Lanny wasn’t done yet, as it turned out.

Yes, there’s a GoFundMe page to support Cohen’s legal fees, because of course there is.

The Takeaway: Beyond declaring that he certainly hadn’t directed anyone to commit a crime, what else did the leader of the free world have to say about his personal lawyer pleading guilty to, and implicating him in, two felonies?

Guilty Seems To Be The Hardest Word, Vol. II

What Happened: In another courtroom, another of President Trump’s former confidants was waiting to hear about his own legal future. In many ways, he’s still waiting…

Where It Blew Up: Twitter, media reports

What Really Happened: Back to Paul Manafort. As the onetime Trump campaign chair’s trial headed into its fourth day of jury deliberation on Tuesday, those paying attention outside the courtroom were getting impatient for justice. Such impatience paid off when, two minutes after Michael Cohen entered his guilty plea, the jury returned a Manafort verdict.

Of course, there was much coverage of the verdict, even if many were hung up on the fact that 10 of the 18 counts went to a mistrial. Fascinatingly, one of the jurors went on Fox News, of all places, to reveal that Manafort would’ve been found guilty on all 18 counts if it wasn’t for one angry juror.

So, what next for Paul Manafort? The answer is, sadly for him, more courtroom drama.

Well, assuming it gets that far…

But would the President pardon Manafort? Here’s what the President said about the verdict on Tuesday night…

…and then, there were Wednesday’s tweets:

This definitely looks fine and above board and not suspicious in the slightest, everyone thinks so…

For what it’s worth, the White House Press Secretary said there had been no discussion of a pardon, even though Trump was subsequently revealed to have discussed it with a Fox News journalist and also with his own lawyers. There’s just one problem for Manafort: Even if Trump did pardon him, he’d still likely end up in jail because the law is an amazing and arcane thing.

The Takeaway: You can never tell what gets people interested in a particular story. For some, the most exciting thing about the entire verdict wasn’t the fact that the former chairman of the Trump campaign was found guilty of eight felonies, but watching journalists rush out of the courtroom to pass on the news.

Flippin’ Peck!

What Happened: As if things couldn’t get worse for the president, it turned out that even more former allies were lining up to turn tail.

Where It Blew Up: Twitter, media reports

What Really Happened: Returning to the Michael Cohen story, his pleading guilty to campaign finance violations in the Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal immediately made many people think of American Media Inc.—the publisher of the National Enquirer and, according to Cohen, the company he worked with to pay McDougal off. Not only was Cohen implicating Trump in his guilty plea, he was also implicating American Media Inc. and its CEO, David Pecker—a longtime friend of the President. What, people wondered, would Pecker do next? On Thursday, an unexpected answer came.

Yes, Pecker was granted immunity by prosecutors, apparently before Cohen’s plea—suggesting that he would, if he hadn’t already, flip on the President.

This doesn’t look too good for the President, but at least it’s not as if there’s a special safe or something filled with all kinds of embarrassing informati—wait, what?

Apparently, there was a literal safe filled with secrets, which almost sounds like a joke. Thankfully, Twitter knows jokes.

It’s worth remembering in the midst of all of this: Pecker may be best known for the “catch and kill” practice of paying for, then burying, embarrassing stories about Trump during the 2016 election, but he did more than that to help the cause:

Immunity is a good thing for Pecker, but it also raises the question: How much dirt does he actually have on the President, and is he really willing to share it to save his own skin?

The Takeaway: For everyone who has been stifling giggles during this whole thing—you’re not alone.

Stop Hitting Yourself

What Happened: When you feel besieged, it makes sense that you’d lash out. But most of us wouldn’t lash out on national television against one of the people who could be most useful at that very moment.

Where It Blew Up: Twitter, media reports

What Really Happened: In the midst of all this activity, the president decided that the best use of his time was giving an interview to Fox News, because it’s not like he ever says anything embarrassing or potentially incriminating, even when faced with softball questioning.

Even ignoring the point that Sessions is a loyal Trumper who had pursued some of Trump’s favored policies, it’s still a surprise to see the President attack his own man so openly on television rather than on his beloved Twitter. As it turned out, Attorney General Jeff Sessions is a Fox News viewer. Who could’ve seen that coming? Perhaps more surprising, though, was what happened next.

Sessions’ pushback was headlinegrabbing stuff. Unfortunately, Sessions might not have the support he thought he did:

Mind you, maybe things aren’t all that bad for Sessions with the Senate just yet…

Let’s take a moment to note that Jeff Sessions was the third Republican politician to endorse Trump as a presidential candidate during the campaign. And then let’s remember that the first was Rep. Chris Collins, currently indicted for insider trading, and the second was Rep. Duncan Hunter, now facing charges in California over improper use of campaign funds. The moral of this story? Apparently, go back in time to stop yourself from endorsing Trump, because the karmic feedback for that is intense.

The Takeaway: If Sessions is fired, who would serve in the interim while a new permanent Attorney General was found?

Never Ever Believe Tucker Carlson

What Happened: Even with everything else going on, there’s always time to make ill-informed, racist remarks that cause international incidents.

Where It Blew Up: Twitter, media reports

What Really Happened: It’s not all been self-made legal worries for the President this week. There’s also been the racism. Oh, you forgot that the President was a racist…?

As the tweet suggests, this particular talking point came from Tucker Carlson on Fox News. (See also “Mexico has been interfering in US elections by packing our electorate,” “People upset about immigrant family separations care more about foreigners than about their own people,” and so much more.) But here’s the really obvious thing: Carlson’s report was deeply flawed, and, basically entirely untrue.

Many condemned the tweet, including the Anti-Defamation League—

—but the most damning response came from the South African government itself:

But surely the president has said nice things about Africa in the past, right?

Even as Carlson started using the President’s tweet and the backlash it provoked to create further commentary for his show, at least one person was willing to come out as being in favor of the President’s comments on Twitter.

Yes, that David Duke.

The Takeaway: Saying it all really says it all.


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Anith Gopal
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