Some Moral Reflections on the Mueller, Manafort, Cohen, Trump Affair

Michael Cohen, former personal lawyer to President Donald Trump, leaves federal court after reaching a plea agreement in New York, Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2018.

By Michael Brown Published on August 22, 2018

I’m neither a lawyer nor a Washington insider, so I’ll leave the legal wrangling and political theorizing to others. For the moment, though, we really have no idea what the final outcome of the Mueller investigation will be when it comes to the Trump presidency. But there are some observations we can make right now.

1) If you swim with sharks, you might get bit.

I don’t know for sure who is telling the truth about illicit campaign payments. Did Michael Cohen come clean at Trump’s expense? Did he lie to cut a deal (which would mean perjuring himself in the process)? Is there another explanation that reconciles the disparate claims of Cohen and the president? Time will tell.

But this much is sure. When you have high-powered, ruthless lawyers doing your bidding, ethics and honesty are not always at the top of your list. “Just get the job done!”

And what happens when a ruthless lawyer becomes your accuser rather than your defender? You can expect blood.

The same holds true when it comes to political insiders like Paul Manafort who know how to play the game. The sword cuts both ways.

Michael Warren wrote in the Weekly Standard, “Far from ‘good men’ and ‘the best people,’ Trump seems to have a penchant for surrounding himself with problematic aides and advisers who are willing to lie and cheat on his behalf. What does it say about the president, who keeps calling the investigations a ‘witch hunt,’ that he keeps finding himself in the company of witches?”

Enough said.

2) You can save yourself a lot of trouble by not sleeping with anyone you’re not married to.

Again, I don’t know which charges of infidelity are true, but in the past, Trump boasted about his conquests. So, I would hardly be surprised if someone as rich, famous, and narcissistic as businessman Trump had slept with porn stars or centerfolds or others.

But while it’s bad enough to do this as a private citizen, it gets far worse when your previous peccadillos can be held against you when running for president. Talk about a giant magnifying glass. Talk about the possibility of blackmail and payoffs.

Again, we don’t know which details are true and which are not. But it’s clear that there would be less hanging over the president’s head if his past was cleaner. (There’s a good lesson here for all of us.)

3) Hell hath no fury like that of a scorned FBI director.

As former FBI director James Comey revealed when testifying before Congress, upon being fired, he leaked information to a journalist, whose reporting ultimately led to the launching of the Mueller investigation. As he said, “My judgment was that I needed to get that out into the public square” with the hope that “I thought that might prompt the appointment of a special counsel.”

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This means that the Mueller investigation, with its massive shadow cast over the Trump administration these many months, would never have happened had Comey not been fired.

Did he deserve to be fired? Was he rogue? Was he undermining the president in dangerous ways? There are many opinions, and in the end, only God knows how Comey would have performed under Trump. But this much is clear. If you can make peace with your enemies, you should do so.

As Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount, “Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison. Truly, I say to you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny” (Matthew 5:25-26).

4) If you look for dirt, you will find it.

At this point, even after the Cohen and Manafort convictions, there is no explicit evidence that Trump colluded with Russia to influence the elections. (If such evidence is forthcoming, it has not been revealed.) Yet the whole purpose of this investigation was to see if Trump colluded with Russia.

When the investigation was launched, I remember Rush Limbaugh commenting that Mueller will find some dirt somewhere, since he has been given a free hand. It’s similar to an IRS audit. Somewhere, a missing receipt will be revealed or a minor expense wrongly categorized.

Here too, dealing with the types of people with whom Trump has worked, dirt was going to be revealed. But does it impugn the president? We shall see.

For his part, Trump commented on the Manafort convictions that, “It has nothing to do with Russian collusion. This started as Russian collusion. This has absolutely nothing to do….This is a disgrace. This has nothing to do with what they started out…looking for Russians involved in our campaign… there were none.”

So, as the dirt is flying everywhere, let’s keep our perspective on the larger question of Russia[n] collusion. There’s still no hard evidence that it happened, but the jury is out until more comes to light.

Returning to the larger picture of the Trump presidency, there’s no way to predict how this will play out. Will the charges rally his base? Will his opponents overplay their hand? Can Cohen be trusted? Can Trump? Can anyone inside DC?

Two things are abundantly clear with the Trump presidency. First, truth is much stranger than fiction. Who would have scripted the last 36 months? Second, the cleaner your morals and the better your company, the less skeletons in your closet. Those skeletons have a bad habit of coming back to haunt you.

Lessons learned.

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  • m-nj

    Please don’t repeat the MSM talking points….

    “I don’t know for sure who is telling the truth about illicit campaign payments.”

    There are plenty of legal minds of all stripes that have made arguments that these hush payments were not even campaign payments, let alone “illicit”

    In past cases, it appears that if there is a reasonable explanation for the candidateto have spent money on something OTHER than to influence the election, it can be argued that that expense is NOT a campaign expense. There are clearly personal reasons why Trump would want to keep these allegations secret unrelated to the election, and he had a habit of doing so long before he entered the presidential race.

  • Hmmm…

    Mr. Trump is definitely reaping crops sown in the past, along with careless attitudes and handling. However, he has shown to have nine lives so far in getting clear of his controversies. I’m sure the state of his heart and how he handles things has much to do with whether he will have grace to overcome. He needs grace to be able to repent and get a bit more humble and charitable toward his detractors in particular. Most of us could use more of that. But he appears to have a mindset from childhood toward justifiable retaliation. It appears from changes showing up in the first days of his campaign, that he has been influenced by the people and things of God. I feel God is using him, some definite insights and strategies along with an amazing willingness to buck the headwinds against the comprehensive changes and soundness of our country I personally would not have dreamed that as much could have already been done by now, vision and resolve deepening with more initiatives underway. I’m heartened by the rearranging of the deck chairs, even, with so many of the old guard bowing out. As always, pray to the God who hears hearts who trust in him, has been working and desires to work in this immediate matter.

    • Chip Crawford

      Old sins cast long shadows. Wish he could stand up and give his personal testimony to repentance and faith in Jesus whom he now lives for, but he’s not there. But he’s also not living like that now.

  • tz1

    In 2012, Ron Paul was the perfect candidate.

    Perfectly Constitutional.
    Perfectly Moral.
    Perfectly Uncompromising.

    And what happened when God sent us the perfect candidate?

    Give us Barabbas! The Bain Capital destroyer of companies. The Governor of MA that did the Obamacare prototype, spoke to Planned Parenthood, and didn’t fight Gay Marriage. Then changed the rules for the nomination and did several other dirty tricks to exclude Ron Paul supporters.

    Don’t complain about Trump. Trump is what you get when you compromise “just a little for someone ‘electable'” instead of voting for the candidate which reflects all values and priciples perfectly.

    When Evangelicals went Romney over Paul, I stopped caring about minutiae. It was war and they were on the side of the Swamp.

    • Chip Crawford

      I don’t see Ron Paul as the perfect candidate. Can’t see him making the strides on the ground in real time that Mr. Trump has and that indifference to, including NO experience of, politics and the embedded whoevers and all that jazz. Hey, they can fire people at the VA now! They said that couldn’t be done. So many things like that.

      • tz1

        But the orginal post was on MORALITY, and I will add for the Glenn Beck crowd, CONSTITUTIONALITY. Paul was perfect by THOSE STANDARDS.

        • Chip Crawford

          Yes, but there’s more than those aspects to the job. One has to have the political will to endure, not the constant rather sour pessimism Ron Paul exports. I do not see leadership in his personhood, the kind of drive that endures and sees openings and other ways to get things done when roadblocks occur. I can mainly see moral and constitutional Paul just whining and moralizing rather than exercising courage and creative insight. One has to be willing and able to project what they have. Despite Mr. Trump’s faults, I see caring in him as well. His positives about what he is for rather than just what he is against are very effective. He has wholesome strengths you know.

          • jameshartline

            Ron Paul was the only member of congress who refused to sign the congressional rebuke of the terrorist regime in Iran. Iranian Lobbyist Ron Paul continuously pursued ending all government funding for Israel. Ron Paul is anti-semitic and he fully said during a public debate that he didn’t believe homosexuality is a sin. The idea that Ron Paul is moral is laughable. He despises Israel just like Jimmy Carter. They are two peas from the same pod.

          • Chip Crawford

            There you go. God knows all that stuff. He looks at hearts. He’s working with Mr. Trump, using his gifts he gave him for this job, and drawing him into any new believer’s need for a deeper commitment and growth. Those as you describe are not even available for use to strengthen the country.

          • tz1

            So we must surrender and just give up because those with the “political will to endure” are nasty like Trump – but I think Paul would have had it too.

            Paul voted no on anything and everything that he didn’t think costitutional, hence the moniker “Dr. No”. He would have similarly vetoed any bill or spending that was unconstitutional, and I have no doubt of this. Would there be overrides? a few. But the government would be shut down until it was constitutional sized.

            And there woudn’t be moral scandals and posturing.

          • Chip Crawford

            So you are saying there would not be Democratic Resistance? How sweet of them to give such a man a complete pass. Indeed …. Guess what? There isn’t a Dem in 100 miles of D.C. that could stand up to the fishing expeditions going on under the Jolly Roger flag a/k/a the Mueller Investigation, along with liberal wildcat, extra judicial judges and of course, everyone’s darlings, the MSM. Surely you are not that simple …

          • tz1

            Sorry my irony wasn’t properly conveyed.

  • Patmos

    “4) If you look for dirt, you will find it.”

    And if they formed a special counsel for any of a thousand others in DC, allowed it to illegally go outside it’s bounds, let it go on for close to two years funded by tens of millions of dollars, and had it be fueled by a vehemency to protect a deep state, you would most definitely find more than measly hush money.

    At this point I’d like to remind people of the trillions of dollars that went unaccounted for at The Pentagon under previous administrations. That’s not millions. That’s not billions. That’s trillions.

    • Chip Crawford

      Right, that story barely got air.

  • Jim Walker

    I’m very sure that if Mueller were to simply use his pen to poke at Hillary’s camp, he’d find massive amounts of oil.

    • Chip Crawford

      Cast the first stone – I like that used here. But it was interesting that Lanny Davis, Mr. Cohen’s lawyer, claims that Cohen chilled on Trump over the Helsinki press conference when Mr. Trump breezed out that hey, Putin tells me he didn’t meddle and he was very strong about it, after making mention of his deep reliance on his intelligence sources. He saw that he chose Putin over them, which of course, was very open for that interpretation.

      • Jim Walker

        I hope we get a special counsel to investigate Hillary’s camp. It will be the greatest show on earth.

        • Chip Crawford

          You know, they could just use what they actually have on her and hers. Material abounds.

  • Dave

    Dr. Brown writes, “…let’s keep our perspective on the larger question of Russia[n] collusion. There’s still no hard evidence that it happened…”

    How does he know this? Is he working for Mueller? Or does he have a contact on Mueller’s team who leaked this information to him? I’m just curious.

    • Chip Crawford

      So, you reckon Counsel Mueller is playing tiddly winks with his particular minion for fun? He’s hoping to get something. Get it? Don’t have something – dig for something. You don’t know otherwise yourself. So, better logic than yours is a good entry. If he had anything, he would not risk it with a sideshow. He is too professional it seems for the “finer points” however. It took Lanny Slick to slime along with those.

      • Dave

        “… better logic than yours…”

        I just asked a question, man.

        • Chip Crawford

          No, I caught the couching, man.

  • jameshartline

    The point of Dr. Brown is, as he clearly stated, not a political one. He is addressing the issue of sin and its consequences, not Russian Collusion or Hillary Clinton or the Ron Paul “cross your fingers and hope everyone is a good person who will behave themselves so get rid of government lunancy of libertarianism”. The bottom line is Donald Trump is a lifelong sexual deviant with a history of three marriages, a mistress Marla Maples who he had sex with while still married to his first wife and he impregnated the mistress before marrying her and then dumped her before the seven year prenuptial expired and it is now clear that Trump was cheating on his current wife Melania who was a former porn star and illegal immirant from Europe when she illegally entered America to do porn photo shoots. And the woman he cheated on Melania with while she was pregnant with their son Barron Trump is also an unrepentant dirty porn perfomer. These are all irrefutable facts. Trump was sold to Evangelicals by megachurch leaders and Jerry Falwell Jr. who actually did a photo with his wife and Trump in front of a wall in Trump’s Trump Tower office that prominently featured Trump on the cover of Playboy magazine.

    Trump had a long history of business transactions with organized crime that helped him to get property deals and to unfairly outbid other redevelopers in major New York City redevelopment projects. It is also an irrefutable fact that Trump’s daughter married Jared Kushner who’s own father Charles Kushner was prosecuted and sent to federal prison for 18 federal crimes including bribes, making illegal campaign contributions, tampering with witnesses and tax fraud. Among the most heinous of Kushner’s crimes was hiring a prostitute to film the hooker seducing his own brother-in-law to destroy him as a witness in the major crimes case that Kushner’s own sister and her husband were the key prosecution witnesses.

    So, you can change the subject all you want and bring up Hillary this and Russia that, but the fact still remains that Christians chose to completely throw out their Bibles and disregard everything they had previously claimed their Christianity is based upon to elect a very tainted Trump. Christians knew Trump wasn’t a born again Christian, but they chose to get in line with the leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention (Robert Jeffress, Franklin Graham, James Robison, Mike Huckabee, Jerry Falwell, Jr. etc.) who could not accept the idea of a woman being in any authoritative position over men muchless as U.S. president, as well as thrice married Roman Catholic Newt Gingrich, pro-Mormon Dr. James Dobson and Cult of Scientology devotee Greta Van Susteren who turned her Fox News Channel into an illegal Trump Campaign media headquarters to vote for Trump.

    Despite Trump’s constant use of “f” word profanity after Falwell and Dobson kept selling the “Trump is a born again Christian” deception and Trump not being able to even quote any Biblical scripture, Christians continued to make outlandish and totally heretical claims of Trump being a latter day King Nebuchadnezzar and Persian King Cyrus who would rebuild the “American Kingdom”. Not only is this an utterly stupid claim based upon the fact that both of those ancient kings were pagans who knew nothing about Jesus Christ, but this false “Kingdom Now” and “7 Mountains Doctrine” heresy which has no basis in Biblical fact or Christian theology irrationally pursue a kingdom monarchy for the United States which has a constituional Democracy government based upon temporarily electing politicians as public SERVANTS NOT kings. This irrational viewpoint has slowly seeped into American Christianity and is a heretical doctrine that has no basis in actually Christianity theology and is not mentioned anywhere in the Bible. The Kingdom Now and 7 Mountains Doctrine was created over the last 30 years by secularized marketing ideologues who viewed the 100 million Americans as a consistent, accessible consumer marketing pool that could be tapped into and turned into a corporate business called The Kingdom.

    Self-appointed prophets and apostles sprinkled “fairy dust anointings” upon this concept with bizarre signs and wonders like gold dust alledgedly falling on church events followed by the heretical laughing movement where heretics from Canada and South Africa began to ascend on America with church events featuring audiences who laughed uncontrollably for no discernable reason, all followed by prosperity gospel millionaires who seized the vaguely established Kingdom to sell it as a concept where privileged Christians are rewarded for building up the kingdom (formerly known as the church) in preparation for the soon return of King Jesus who would also reward these privileged Christians for their ascedancy to the leadership of the top of 7 mountains of societal influence (government/military, education, business, entertainment/arts, religion, media, family). The founders and church promoters of this heresy reward those in Christianity who push this lie and megachurch pastors seize upon it as a propagana ploy for latching onto and expanding their congregations just like secular corporations latch onto expand consumers of their respective brands. This is why major Christian television networks have the same pastors like Joel Osteen and Joseph Prince on each day over and over and over, 4, 5, 6 times a day, never saying anything new, never challenging the cultural sins, never saying anything controversial, always selling products, all produced like infomercials. And they all got on board to promote the election of Trump.

    The biggest disaster with the heresy of the false 7 Mountains and the false signs and wonders-based Kingdom Now propaganda as a precusor for building up a literal, physical kingdom that will welcome the return of Jesus Christ is that these adherents and pastors who promote it have not, in any way, prepared Christians for the possibility that they will face hard times and the soon to occur Great Tribulation and its anti-christ global dictatorship. If people are told they don’t have to deal with such dark times and all they have been taught is to pursue more wealth, more prosperity, more, more, more, than they will collapse spiritually and fall into great despair and spiritual death when they are forced to deny themselves or compromise with a sinister global dictator or find themselves in total poverty unlike the promises of the 7 Mountains if they give their all for its expansion.

    It should be noted that I would have never voted for Hillary Clinton and would never compromise my Christianity, even if it meant getting a particular candidate elected. I think it would catastrophic for Christians if the Democrats re-seize control of congress. They will turn our nation into complete and total anarchy and devastation. At this point in time, I hope Trump succeeds and that he repents of his sins. His continued use of profanity tells me he hasn’t repented. I did not support him or vote for him. My conscience is clear on that.

  • NeverMueller

    These are Godless men. They have received their reward

  • Hmmm…

    This gives President Trump opportunity to consider his ways of thinking it smart to deal a bit on the slick side in his business – just smart, folks (“I know things other people don’t”). These characters he chose aren’t ones to make anybody proud, so easily taken in their shadiness. The other campaigns passed up Paul Manafort despite a lot of previous experience. He has real character around him now, and I hope the contrast will not be lost on him. Who wouldn’t find it challenging to look Mike Pence in the eyes after stuff like this comes out? He’d like it to drop off and is trying like all of us have to some degree in early days of new life in Christ, to get away without facing up to it one way or another. God knows what he requires at any given point, what it would take to get us free. Stepping up with an admission, unfortunately for those in public life, is sometimes what it will take to get clear of something spiritually. If he actually does that, he will gain an authority that will strengthen him with his opponents and have more spine that does not require “counter punching.” Is there any Word on counter punching? We do need to deal with the devil that way, but this novice is definitely wrestling with flesh and blood. I pray he do God’s thing that will give him solid victory where it matters.

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