Skip to main content

Within a few minutes on Tuesday, Donald Trump’s long-time personal lawyer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to eight federal criminal charges, and his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort was separately found guilty on another eight criminal charges.

What’s more, when Mr. Cohen admitted to campaign-finance crimes for paying or arranging hush money to women who said they had affairs with Mr. Trump, he swore under oath that he was acting at the behest of his boss, suggesting Mr. Trump broke laws himself.

It was, by any historical standard, a momentously dark moment for the United States presidency. So why is there a nagging sense of doubt about how much it matters?

Story continues below advertisement

It is not so much that the testimony of someone such as Mr. Cohen, an untrustworthy source of information, must be taken with a grain of salt. (An audio recording somewhat backs his claim.) Nor that crimes of Mr. Manafort, who raked in millions as a political adviser to foreign autocrats, were unrelated to his work for Mr. Trump. Close association with such a man would be devastating to most presidents.

More so it is that Mr. Trump has already so demeaned his office that he and what surrounds him have all but lost their capacity to shock.

This is a President who boasted on tape about sexually assaulting women; who advanced a policy of separating children and infants from their parents at his country’s border; who on whims launches trade wars against some of America’s closest allies; who continually engages in race-baiting if not outright racism, including overt Islamophobia and an obsession with football players who peacefully protest police violence; and on and on.

Yet amid the cacophony, nobody can afford to grow numb, even if that numbness is among the most damning indictments of Mr. Trump’s presidency.

What could have sunk other presidents – close association with criminals, if not illegal conduct themselves – may not be enough to sink him. But it cannot be accepted, by Americans and by those around the globe who have long looked to their country as a shining example of how a democracy should be run, as the new normal.

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Comments

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • All comments will be reviewed by one or more moderators before being posted to the site. This should only take a few moments.
  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed. Commenters who repeatedly violate community guidelines may be suspended, causing them to temporarily lose their ability to engage with comments.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.
Cannabis pro newsletter