The Scene:

Major developments in the storylines of Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen mark Tuesday as one of the most significant days of the Trump presidency. Manafort, the president’s former campaign chairman, was found guilty of eight major financial crimes. He faces up to eighty years in prison. Cohen, the president’s former lawyer, has plead guilty on eight charges. These charges include two hush money payments that could implicate Trump.

The Takes:

UConn Daily Campus: Alex Klein sees “a fitting end to the career of Paul Manafort.”

•    “It is certain that some of Trump’s campaign advisers raised concerns about Manafort’s spotty history before he was hired… He, just like everyone else in Washington, knew Paul Manafort had worked with pro-Russian oligarchs to drain the Ukrainian government’s coffers of hundreds of millions of dollars.”

•    “One can only hope that President Trump is not craven enough to pardon any of his employees who are facing criminal charges.”

•    “If the president interferes with prosecution, he will show how similar he is to the kleptocratic strongmen with whom Paul Manafort made his devil’s bargain.”

USC Daily Trojan: Lily Vaughan thinks the “Mueller investigation will yield important change.”

•    “We are getting closer and closer to a day when we won’t have to suffer hordes of blind reactionary groaning at the statement we all know to be true — it looks like Trump colluded with a foreign government to win an election.”

•    “Mueller is willing to play the long game, and [Manafort’s indictment] will lead to more.”

•    “We can only hope that [the investigation] will implicate the man standing at the helm, and pay that his island of Misfit Nativists have not, in their efforts to erode the fabric of our democracy, actually been able to orchestrate plausible deniability for him.”

•    “We live under one of the worst American presidents in history who does not lead with the popular mandate and may not even be leading with a legitimate electoral one.”

The Bottom Line:

Although Manafort’s trial has not included any crimes that could implicate the president, the case is an exceptionally poor optic for the White House. The Cohen case, however, could lead to formal charges filed against Trump himself. If Michael Cohen’s assertions are true, the president knowingly made hush money payments. His failure to disclose them would comprise a federal crime. It seems that the Mueller investigation is finally reaching a full head of steam. We will likely know sooner rather than later if this odyssey really has been a “witch hunt” after all. 

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