‘How ya like me now?’ tweeted Stormy Daniels last night — and, whatever else you might think about a porn star using her alleged extra-marital affair with a president to get rich, it’s hard to deny that her question has a point. She hasn’t been vindicated, exactly, but it’s no longer possible for even Donald Trump’s admirers to dismiss her story as the baseless claims of a fame hungry whore.
Yesterday, Michael Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer, pleaded guilty to buying the silence of two women through illegal payments that violated campaign finance laws. He told the judge at the United States District Court in Manhattan that the payments were made “in coordination with and at the direction of a candidate for federal office,” which implicates the president in a federal crime. Trump fans can wave away the porn story as a distraction. But imagine getting into a time machine, going back to early 2015, and telling America that their next president would be involved in a scandal involving hush money to two adult film stars. You’d be thought insane. But, as the song goes, this is America, look how I’m living now, and the Trump reality is a sordid one.
Of course, Stormy is only part of it — though perhaps the part that American voters will end up feeling most appalled by. Yesterday was indeed, as every mainstream media publication puts its, the most catastrophic day of the presidency so far. Michael Cohen pleaded guilty on eight counts, and his former campaign manager Paul Manafort was found guilty on eight other counts. Both stories came within minutes of each other, which, if you were a Trump fan who believed the deep state is co-ordinating to bring down your hero, would only fuel your paranoia.
But you’d also have to admit things don’t look good for the 45th president. Manafort looks to be in the deepest doo-doo: charged with fraud and other serious crimes. Nothing to do with Trump, as Trump has insisted, but Manafort was not a bit player in the Trump administration, he ran the Trump campaign for three months, and has a relationship with Trump going back years. The stench of corruption around the Trump organisation and the campaign is getting very bad.
What the Democrats and the Trump-hostile press are really excited about is what Michael Cohen’s case can prove about Trump’s Russia collusion, since that is most likely to impact Robert Mueller’s inquiry and thus to the impeachment. But it’s the porn stars, not Putin, that look most likely to damage Trump in the upcoming mid-terms, which again will only help bolster Trump’s impeachment. There’s no point in pro-Trump Republicans denying it: the anti-Trump movement has scored a palpable hit on the White House.