President Donald Trump has been at the center of controversy since the beginning of his campaign, but one of the largest and most controversial issues is his recent dispute with former lawyer Michael Cohen and praise of former campaign chairman Paul Manafort.
Cohen and Manafort were both found guilty of tax evasion and Cohen suffers additional charges of campaign finance violations. Cohen claims that Trump told him to make the unlawful contributions in order to make settlements with women who had alleged affairs with the president.
Trump denied all allegations connecting him with Cohen, claiming he had never ordered him to pay anyone. “I’ve been told I’m not involved,” Trump said in an interview on Fox and Friends, “From what I understand, they’re looking at his businesses.”
Trump’s reaction to Manafort was different. In a series of tweets, Trump said, “Unlike Michael Cohen, he refused to ‘break’ … Such respect for a brave man.”
Even though Cohen affirmed Trump’s involvement, there’s no evidence. Dr. Daniel Bennett, head professor of political science at John Brown University, said “Unless there’s an email or a voice recording of President Trump telling Cohen, it’s all basically he-said, she-said kind of thing, and the president isn’t in any legal trouble.”
However, while Trump couldn’t be charged with anything, this allegation could potentially affect his approval ratings, and in turn his chance at re-election. However, since the story broke, Trump’s approval ratings remain relatively consistent. Bennett said, “If you look at his approval rating, it’s been pretty steady … if the economy continues to hum along, it would be a bad bet that he wouldn’t be re-elected.”
Even though his approval rates aren’t wavering, some think that they should. Teague Broquard, junior political science major and member of Young Democrats said, “I think it should lower his chances of re-election because it’s becoming more and more apparent that these are the kinds of people that the president surrounds himself with.”
Although Donald Trump is not yet convicted, Robert Mueller could use the findings from this case in his investigation.
Cohen and Manafort aren’t the only two of Trump’s former employees who have been accused of crimes. Michael Flynn, George Papdopoulos, and Alex Van Der Zwaan, were all charged for lying to the FBI about collusion with Russia.
With many of his associates found guilty, the president will soon be questioned. In an article for USA Today, Susan Page said, “Some of the big decisions are expected to be made soon – by Trump on whether to voluntarily answer Mueller’s questions, and by Mueller on whether to subpoena the president if he doesn’t.”