Police Create Pretext for “Fishing” by Lying about Turn Signal

Original video 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c1Aj3…

Original video 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nJUkW…

 

 

Sources: Articles-

 

Segura v. United States- https://bit.ly/3tmc6YQ

Florida v. Royer- https://bit.ly/2N09XjA

U.S. v. Blair- https://bit.ly/3Q6A5oE

Pennsylvania v. Mimms- https://bit.ly/39nFjsF

Arizona v. Johnson- https://bit.ly/39Sba3R

United States v. Johnson- https://bit.ly/3GXqPiq

United States v. Matlock- https://bit.ly/3znj03K

People v. Minor- https://bit.ly/3mqjGxI

Florida v. Jimeno- https://bit.ly/3Mo1lf7

State v. Friedel- https://bit.ly/3thwzOo

Revised traffic stop procedures- https://bit.ly/3tl70Mr

 

Four cops to stop someone for not using a turn signal, to say that seems excessive is an understatement.

 

Even if he had failed to use the turn signal, it is simply wrong that all this can be done to him.

 

This is actually really sad. They were so nice & respectful to those cops & you know those cops thought they were going to find something illegal in their car. I’m glad they sued & won $75k.

 

When body camera footage shows that the turn signal was activated, the officer should immediately be terminated. It shows the true dishonest nature of that officer. No amount of training will change that officer’s ethics.

 

“I just want people to be straight up and honest with me.” Says the cop who’s lying his ass off.

 

The insane part is the officer literally says at 2:50, “I just like people to be honest and straight up with me”, while doing an unjustified & invalid terry stop based off a lie for a working turn signal.

 

I want to make note that the officers themselves actually ran a red light to pull him over for this illegal stop.

 

“you’re shaking.” Of course he is and most of us would be. 4 cops stop you for a frigging light. That’s nerve-wracking for any normal person.

 

If a cop sees a citizen is “shaking like a leaf” the correct response is to DEFUSE the situation. Using it as an excuse to search someone is despicable.

 

Given the sheer audacity of these cops, 75k is far too little a settlement. At a minimum there should be disciplinary action as well.

 

The narrator says “I certainly can not fault him for prioritizing his family’s safety over his Constitutional rights“. The fact that in the United States (you know, the land of the free) this is a rational statement reflecting the reality that asserting said rights likely endangers your family is a sad truth indeed.

 

The control of those two over their emotions during this moment is remarkable. Really think about it, their car was suddenly surrounded by five police officers when they literally did nothing wrong. They were removed from their car and frisked like criminals, and the entire time, their child was in the car watching. If they had raised even the slightest bit of frustration in that moment, which would have been well justified, the situation could have turned potentially deadly for all three of them.

 

Mr. Parker showed his son how to act respectfully and with dignity, and how to bring real justice upon those trying to abuse their power. Respect.

 

This is EXACTLY how policing used to be before people started recording them, except it would’ve been been a lot worse. I’m glad they decided to file a lawsuit, and people got to see that racial profiling exists – it’s crazy to think that some people still don’t think it’s real.

 

As someone who has passed the bar I consider myself a Constitutionalist who loves what our founding fathers gave us. I just want to express my appreciation for the work you do; I know the amount of text you have to comb over to research each of the statutes you present and the time that goes into each of these videos. Your adherence to the facts and the law are impeccable and I appreciate your efforts and the work you do. Thank you.

 

I am so glad you’re bringing light to these issues. This very thing happened to me. An officer who had a reputation for being dirty, got behind me & put his lights on after I’d made a left turn. He had been behind me for several minutes so I made sure to stop @ the stop sign & use my turn signal. He lied & said I never used my signal when turning & then receded to search my vehicle. When he found nothing he didn’t even write me a ticket bc he knew he was lying & just let me go. I never even thought about how he’d violated my rights until I started watching your channel. This happened many years ago… I would have never thought to file a lawsuit until now. I’m glad you’re giving citizens like myself a voice & instructions on how to handle these situations.

 

If accountability is such a good thing, why do cops need immunity from criminal/civil consequences? It’s pretty hypocritical to preach accountability while hiding behind a shield of immunity…

 

>Usually I don’t like to go the whole “they only stopped him cause he’s black!” route, but this is some really damning evidence I’d say.

 

“your hands are shaking like a leaf brother even your face is” what? Mr.parker was just about the calmest person I’ve ever seen getting pulled over. Seriously impressed with Mr.Parker’s conduct throughout this.

 

The whole “you can’t criticize the police department and the department will admit no wrongdoing” part of the settlement shouldn’t ever be a thing for police.

 

You know there’s something definitively wrong when you have to give up your legal rights to stay safe from the people that are supposed to uphold those rights

 

This is infuriating to watch! This was never a traffic stop, purely a fishing expedition. Every interaction like this demoralizes and is dehumanizing.

 

If Mr. Parker had tried to assert his rights during this traffic stop, I am quite certain these cops would have escalated it to something much worse and possibly violent. $75k pay day ain’t bad, but as a tax payer, I would prefer the cops do their job appropriately.

 

I particularly liked the one cop’s admission to the lady: “This is the way we conduct all traffic stops.”

 

I LOVE how they didn’t get into an argument with the cops. Just let them make their mistakes and then contacted an attorney.

 

>You know you’re living under tyranny when those in charge of enforcing law can lie to you, but you will be jailed for lying to them.

 

14:10 I get that both parties agreed to the settlement and that the settlement was reached consensually and without coercion, but come on! The fact that the government would even attempt to negotiation for this during a settlement is just despicable.

 

I appreciate you adding “Cost Their TOWN $75,000” in the title. Because that’s what keeps these practices going. They’d rather spend taxpayer money to prevent further criticism or claims against a police unit than actually meaningfully change things. The cops need to foot the bill.

 

Articles:

The city of Louisville has agreed to pay $75,000 to a Louisville couple who say police removed them from their car and frisked them because they were Black and driving a nice vehicle.

But in an unusual condition of the payment, the couple and their lawyers are forbidden from criticizing the Louisville Metro Government or the police officers involved.

The prohibition includes criticisms in statements to the media or on social media, according to a copy of the settlement The Courier Journal obtained under the open-records act.

Michael Abate, a lawyer for The Courier Journal and the Kentucky Press Association, said the stipulations are “totally improper.”

“The city is paying to silence its critics,” he said. “It is paying them off. And it seems designed to impede reform. It is bad policy and really troubling.”

 

..  Firman was allowed to leave the scene only when it became apparent to the officers that Demetria and her fiancé were personal acquaintances with a colleague of the officers, according to the lawsuit.

.. In their suits, Parker and Firman said when Firman asked what the couple had done wrong, Officer Josh Doerr replied: “This is how we conduct all our stops. We’re a different kind of unit that works a little different than traditional.”

Doerr was suspended one day for violating pat-down procedures, but none of the other officers were sanctioned. The family was eventually released without a ticket being issued.

.. The suit said Parker he had worked full time since 2007 and had no history of violence or felony convictions, while Firman has no criminal history whatsoever. It said Parker is a proud father to his now 10-year-old son and plays bass for his church, where his father is the pastor.

 

..  In a stipulation in the settlement, the plaintiffs had to agree “not to make or direct anyone to make any statements, written or verbal with the intention to defame, disparage or in any way criticize the personal or business reputation, practices or conduct of Metro Government” and or former Chief Steve Conrad or officers Doerr, Hibbs or former officer Crawford “as it pertains to the underlying facts of this action.”

The settlement also forced the plaintiffs to agree the prohibition applies to any statements made to the news media or on social media.

Additionally, the settlement says any violation would be considered a “material breach” of the settlement and the Metro Government and the individuals cited would be “irreparably harmed.”

 

Courier Journal

 

 

Cops Get Caught Lying And Cost Their Town $75,000

 

This is actually really sad. They were so nice & respectful to those cops & you know those cops thought they were going to find something illegal in their car. I’m glad they sued & won $75k.

 

“your hands are shaking like a leaf brother even your face is” what? Mr.parker was just about the calmest person I’ve ever seen getting pulled over. Seriously impressed with Mr.Parker’s conduct throughout this.
“This is how we handle anyone who doesn’t use their turn signals.” They smelled fear and determined it was enough to act on. You know, like a predator
If Mr. Parker had tried to assert his rights during this traffic stop, I am quite certain these cops would have escalated it to something much worse and possibly violent. $75k pay day ain’t bad, but as a tax payer, I would prefer the cops do their job appropriately.
My sons have had many traffic stops in their youth. They claimed the cops were targeting them and were quite rude and unprofessional. It made my sons wonder why anyone would want to be a cop, and thought they were mentally unstable. As a female, I have never experienced what they went through, and now that they are older, they do not get pulled over like they did in their youth.
This city is corrupt to the core. The police had bad practices and the fact that the city included a gag order in the settlement goes just how deep the corruption goes. It’s all disgusting, and I was aghast when the man shook the officers’ hands at the end. It’s like thanking someone for smashing you upside the head with a baseball bat.
As someone who has passed the bar I consider myself a Constitutionalist who loves what our founding fathers gave us. I just want to express my appreciation for the work you do; I know the amount of text you have to comb over to research each of the statutes you present and the time that goes into each of these videos. Your adherence to the facts and the law are impeccable and I appreciate your efforts and the work you do. Thank you.
If a cop sees a citizen is “shaking like a leaf” the correct response is to DEFUSE the situation. Using it as an excuse to search someone is despicable.
Why did they remove him from the car for a turn signal, especially when video shows the blinker was going? This is so disturbing! The passengers do not have to identify themselves and certainly not provide a social security number! I hope these poor citizens have in the meantime educated themselves!
“Man, I just want people to be upfront and honest with me!” This is cop talk for “It doesn’t matter what you say to me, I’m not going to believe you!” This is all based on the fact that people lie! You are correct, officer, people do lie and you yourself are people!
Even if he had failed to use the turn signal, it is simply wrong that all this can be done to him.
since when did simple traffic infractions start including searches, pat downs, and invasive acts? what happened to writing a ticket and being on your way? and cops wonder why they are disliked, they create their own disdain.
since when did simple traffic infractions start including searches, pat downs, and invasive acts? what happened to writing a ticket and being on your way? and cops wonder why they are disliked, they create their own disdain.
>> It starts with “why are you shaking” ….it automatically sets a precedence for the cop to keep lying and adding details to make you look suspicious and/or a threat.
>> Happens everyday………………………
“This is how we conduct every traffic stop.” As a middle aged white guy, I cannot fathom getting pulled over for nothing and surrounded by aggressive police. A clear case of driving while black.
Congratulations to this wonderful family for following through on calmness and cooperation. We all know what might have happened if anything else turned negative. I was afraid the police might have planted something in their car with all that searching. Congratulations again.
4 cops show up at a false turn signal stop? Spot on with your analysis. And kudos to Parker for actually following up. Complaining here is not the same as following up. Hope they take the money and move to a better community.
This entire encounter made me feel very uncomfortable. This cop treated him like he was an armed felon from the very start and then proceeded to violate every one of the mans rights that he possibly could. This is absolutely disgusting and this officer should not be allowed to work in law enforcement.
>> This what people in the black community have been experiencing for decades
Classic profiling and nothing more. He broke zero laws and they still treat that family like they’re criminals.
>>  Imagine what that does to his son, to see that. Does that kid look at police favorably? Does he think police are there to protect and serve?

Imagine what that does to his son, to see that. Does that kid look at police favorably? Does he think police are there to protect and serve?

>> Let this be a lesson to anyone who has a slam-dunk case against these unconstitutional tactics by so-called “law enforcement”. Never settle out of court if one of the conditions is to keep silent. On the contrary, make a part of the settlement mandatory procedural changes and retraining. (See Jeff Gray’s channel, “Honor Your Oath Civil Rights Investigations”). His lawsuit forced mandatory 1st Amendment training and yearly remedial training over a period of years in the future. I understand if this family just wanted to settle and put this behind them and I’m glad they didn’t just ignore it.
I am so glad you’re bringing light to these issues. This very thing happened to me. An officer who had a reputation for being dirty, got behind me & put his lights on after I’d made a left turn. He had been behind me for several minutes so I made sure to stop @ the stop sign & use my turn signal. He lied & said I never used my signal when turning & then receded to search my vehicle. When he found nothing he didn’t even write me a ticket bc he knew he was lying & just let me go. I never even thought about how he’d violated my rights until I started watching your channel. This happened many years ago… I would have never thought to file a lawsuit until now. I’m glad you’re giving citizens like myself a voice & instructions on how to handle these situations.
..  I love how they settled with the restriction of speech about the department or incident … But they forget that there is an entire world watching now that can say what they want when they want !! Thanks for what you do !!
The only thing I was worried about when Mr. Parker consented to the search was the possibility of the officers planting illegal substances. I’ve seen cops do that on this channel before.
” Your hands are shaking like a leaf ” Look at what you did to this family. I’m surprised nobody’s gone into shock and have convulsions.
>> I didn’t see his hands shaking. The cop said that because it is in the script he was following for the record. They have probably done this many times the exact same way.

>>  @Mark Mixon  facts, the man didn’t look nervous and wasn’t shaking at all

>> Exactly. I love the guy was not at all shaking, it would have been reasonable to do so. Especially given the fact that he was probably aware that police were going to jack him up and try to pin something on him
>>  “And how would you react when 4 armed men surround your vehicle?”
>> Damned if you do, damned if don’t. None of those officers went in with an open minded view to the stop. Plus, that poor child has to experience the ordeal and make sense of it all. At such a young age it’s moments like that which impact your development, view of yourself/place etc. Great community policing and relations building /s
Nothing will change unless these law suit settlements come directly from the police union pension fund. That way, these settlements will affect every single officer and their bottom line. That would hopefully ignite and motivate good cops to weed out the bad cops.
The narrator says “I certainly can not fault him for prioritizing his family’s safety over his Constitutional rights“. The fact that in the United States (you know, the land of the free) this is a rational statement reflecting the reality that asserting said rights likely endangers your family is a sad truth indeed.
No camera no pay out 💯💯💯💯💯💯
“We got a failure to signal, gonna need about 5 officers for this.”
We have fostered an entire generation of citizens that are hesitant to trust law enforcement. Here’s the sad news: until we abolish qualified immunity, they will continue to oppress, and use dirty tactics, and empty these poor towns of taxpayer money and empathy.
This guy did everything right, IMO. He remained extremely polite despite being treated wrongly, he never once became upset, disrespectful, or argumentative. I’m glad they received the settlement from the dept for that awful behavior, but I would have personally pushed to remove that stipulation about criticism.
I particularly liked the one cop’s admission to the lady: “This is the way we conduct all traffic stops.”
I don’t know why the guy was trying to explain a faulty turn signal when it worked. He almost justified the cops illegal stop by admitting a problem that wasn’t there.
I love it when he says “However”
“YoUrE ShakiNg LiKe A LeAf” What do these guys expect?! They are about to violate him after making up a reason to stop him. It’s circular, the only reason he is shaking is because he knows they have the power to abuse him and he thinks they will. So they use that as a reason to abuse him. Makes me sick.
As a non-American, I’m shocked that he’s pointing out that the man is shaking. I’d be scared for my life. American police are unpredictable.

Whitaker Didn’t Deny Discussing Cohen Probe With Trump, Nadler Says

House judiciary panel chief says ex-attorney general also was involved in talks over firing U.S. attorneys

Former acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker was involved in conversations about the scope of New York federal prosecutors’ investigation into Michael Cohen, President Trump’s former lawyer, and about whether to fire one or more U.S. attorneys, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee said Wednesday.

Speaking to reporters after a closed-door meeting with Mr. Whitaker, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D., N.Y.) said Mr. Whitaker didn’t deny—as he had in a public committee hearing last month—that Mr. Trump had called him to discuss the Cohen investigation, in which prosecutors in December implicated the president in two federal campaign-finance violations.

Mr. Nadler said that Mr. Whitaker, while serving as acting attorney general, had been “directly involved” in conversations about whether to fire U.S. attorneys, though the congressman didn’t specify which ones.

Mr. Nadler also said Mr. Whitaker had been involved in discussions about the “scope of the Southern District [of New York] attorney and his recusal” from the Cohen investigation, and whether New York prosecutors “went too far” in pursuing their campaign-finance investigation.

Mr. Nadler didn’t specify with whom Mr. Whitaker had those conversations. The House Judiciary Committee believes it has evidence that Mr. Trump asked Mr. Whitaker whether Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman could regain control of his office’s investigation into Mr. Cohen, The Wall Street Journal previously reported.

Mr. Berman is a former law partner of Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani and in 2016 donated to the Trump campaign. The president personally interviewed him for the U.S. attorney job, and last year he recused himself from involvement in the Cohen investigation.

Rep. Doug Collins of Georgia, the top Republican on the committee, disputed parts of Mr. Nadler’s account on Wednesday, saying Mr. Whitaker didn’t confirm that he had spoken with the president about the Cohen investigation. He also said Mr. Whitaker’s conversations about firing U.S. attorneys were “normal personnel issues.”

The revelation that Mr. Whitaker was involved in conversations about the possibility of curtailing New York prosecutors’ investigation into the president’s former lawyer could propel ongoing investigations by Congress and by special counsel Robert Mueller into whether Mr. Trump sought to obstruct justice. Mr. Trump has denied doing so.

.. Mr. Whitaker met for about two hours behind closed doors with Mr. Nadler and Mr. Collins after he agreed to appear voluntarily to clarify testimony he provided during a contentious public hearing before the committee last month.Republicans said Mr. Whitaker’s return to the Hill was unnecessary, but Democrats said they were concerned Mr. Whitaker’s public testimony was at times either not fully forthcoming or may have been deliberately misleading.

A Democratic aide, however, said that Mr. Collins asked Mr. Whitaker in a final volley of questions whether it was correct that he didn’t have any communications with the president about the Mr. Cohen case. Mr. Whitaker replied: “No, that is not what I am telling you today,” a response that reiterated he wasn’t denying such conversations did take place, according to the Democratic aide. A Republican aide countered that “we have no record of that statement.”

“What we learned from Mr. Whitaker today leaves open the question of whether the president called his attorney general and tried to convince him to make this damaging investigation go away,” the Democratic aide said.

Mr. Whitaker’s return to Congress was not without moments of levity. At one point, Mr. Whitaker asked Mr. Nadler if he would be talking to the media afterward and requested that Mr. Nadler “please let reporters know how good-looking I am,” according to Republican and Democratic aides.

Mr. Nadler made no mention of Mr. Whitaker’s looks during his remarks to reporters.

Michael Cohen Pled Guilty to Something That Is Not a Crime

The prosecutor is twisting campaign-finance law.

Donald Trump’s wayward counsel, Michael Cohen, was sentenced today as part of a plea bargain with the government. As part of that settlement, Cohen has admitted to criminal violations of federal campaign-finance law and has implicated President Trump in those violations. The press is ablaze with headlines trumpeting the president’s possible involvement in two felony campaign-finance violations. The source of these violations are Mr. Cohen’s arranging — allegedly at Trump’s direction — hush-money payments to women alleging long-ago affairs with the 2016 presidential candidate.

The Federal Election Campaign Act holds that an “expenditure” is any “purchase, payment, loan, advance, deposit or gift of money, or anything of value, for the purpose of influencing any election for Federal office.” According to Cohen and the U.S. Attorney, the hush-money payments were, it appears, made in the hopes of preventing information from becoming public before the election, and hence were “for the purpose of influencing” the election. This means that, at a minimum, they had to be reported to the Federal Election Commission; further, if they were authorized by Mr. Trump, they would become, in the law’s parlance, “coordinated expenditures,” subject to limits on the amounts that could be spent. Since the lawful contribution limit is much lower than the payments made, and the payments were not reported, this looks like an open and shut case, right?

Well, no. Or at least not in the way some might presume. To the contrary, the law — following our common sense — tells us that the hush-money payments outlined by the U.S. Attorney are clearly not campaign expenditures. There is no violation of the Federal Election Campaign Act.

So what does it mean to be “for the purpose of influencing an[] election”? To understand this, we read the statutory language in conjunction other parts of the statute. Here the key is the statute’s prohibition on diverting campaign funds to “personal use.” This is a crucial distinction, because one of the primary factors separating campaign funds from personal funds is that the former must be spent on the candidate’s campaign, while the latter can be used to buy expensive vacations, cars, watches, furs, and such. The law defines “personal use” as spending “used to fulfill any commitment, obligation, or expense of a person that would exist irrespective of the candidate’s election campaign.” So a candidate may intend for good toothpaste and soap, a quality suit, and a healthy breakfast to positively influence his election, but none of those are campaign expenditures, because all of those purchases would typically be made irrespective of running for office. And even if the candidate might not have brushed his teeth quite so often or would have bought a cheaper suit absent the campaign, these purchases still address his underlying obligations of maintaining hygiene and dressing himself.

The settlements in this hypothetical are made “for the purpose of influencing the election,” yet they are not “expenditures” under the Federal Election Campaign Act. Indeed, if they were, the candidate would have to pay for them with campaign funds. Thus, an unscrupulous but popular businessman could declare his candidacy, gather contributions from the public, use those contributions to settle various preexisting lawsuits, and then withdraw from the race. A nice trick!

When faced with the vague, sweepingly broad “for the purpose of influencing any election” language, the Supreme Court has consistently restricted its reach to brightly defined rules. For example, in determining whether a public message was an “expenditure” made “for the purpose of influencing any election,” it has construed the later phrase to apply only to messages “expressly advocating” the election or defeat of a candidate, such as “vote for,” “vote against,” “defeat,” “re-elect,” and the like, or to other clearly defined messages that are the “functional equivalent” of that express advocacy.

In short, Michael Cohen is pleading guilty to something that isn’t a crime. Of course, people will do that when a zealous prosecutor is threatening them with decades in prison. But his admissions are not binding on President Trump, and Trump should fight these charges ferociously.

.. Many Americans have convinced themselves that Trump is a uniquely dangerous and bad man, such that any available tool should be used to expel him from office. But in that way lies the bigger threat to our democracy and rule of law.

In A Man for All Seasons, Sir Thomas More’s future son-in-law, Roper, states that he would “cut down every law in England” if it would enable him to catch the devil. To which More responds,

And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned ’round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man’s laws, not God’s! And if you cut them down, and you’re just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake!

We do ourselves no service by distorting and misapplying our campaign-finance laws in the hope of bagging Donald Trump.

Comments:
Pat_Riot
I was wondering aloud the other day how the Trumpsters would move the goalposts yet again, and here you have it.

If Trump’s payments weren’t designed to influence the election, why didn’t he just wait to settle a few weeks later after the election?

Regardless, this is yet another article that shows just how far down the moral hell-hole the Republican party has fallen. Trump has *truly* brought the GOP to *his* level. 

In previous iterations of the GOP, the fact that the president *lied* on Air Force One to our faces about his affair, and *lied* to the American people about his affairs just before an election, essentially voiding his election result… 

The fact that we’re talking about two lurid affairs with *porn stars* he had while his (third) wife was at home with their baby…

Well, these sorts of things used to mean something to most Republicans. Not anymore I guess.

.. jgbrownhornet

All that hypothetical entrepreneur would have needed to do was report the settlements to the FEC. Done. Cohen & Trump simply needed a better campaign finance lawyer. Amateurs.
Oh Great! And his wife finds out about it anyway once the New York Times publishes the details of the settlement.

The whole point of paying extortion and blackmail is so the accusations DO NOT BECOME PUBLIC RECORD.

.. kurtpiper

4 days ago
He committed OTHER CRIMES on which they had him dead to rights. The Prosecutors negotiated with his Clinton Lawyer for a shorter sentence if and only if Cohen would plead guilty to things that were not crimes.

The Year Justice Caught Up With Trumpworld

In 2018, impunity came to an end.

Ever since the 2016 election, it’s been common for some people to refer to whatever year we’re in as a synonym for dystopian weirdness. (Last year, for example, CNN’s Jake Tapper tweeted “Peak 2017” about a headline saying, “US ambassador denies own comments, then denies denial.”) The world has felt continuously off-kilter, like a TV drama whose writers developed a sudden fondness for psilocybin. Last month astronomers at Harvard wrote that a strange oblong space object “may be a fully operational probe sent intentionally to Earth vicinity by an alien civilization,” and it barely made a ripple in the news. There was simply too much else going on.

Amid this ceaseless barrage, things many of us have taken for granted have been called into question, including the endurance of liberal democracy, the political salience of truth and the assumption that it would be a big scandal if a president were caught directing illegal payoffs to a pornographic film actress. Often it feels like in American politics, none of the old rules still apply.

.. But in 2018, they did. (At least some of them.) Alien probes aside, this was a year in which things started to make sense again. The Democratic landslide in the midterms proved that the laws of political gravity haven’t been suspended; Trump’s incompetence, venality and boorishness had electoral consequences. Further, it was a year of justice and accountability for at least some of those who foisted this administration on the country. An awful menagerie of lowlifes was swept into power by Trump’s victory two years ago. In 2018, at least some of them started to fall back out again.

.. At the beginning of 2018,

  • Michael Cohen was still Trump’s loyal personal lawyer.
  • Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman, was sleeping in his own bed at night.
  • Rick Gates, Manafort’s deputy, had not yet made a plea deal with Robert Mueller, the special counsel.
  • Mueller’s investigation hadn’t yet sent anyone to prison.
  • The Dutch lawyer Alex van der Zwaan, who pleaded guilty to lying to the F.B.I. about work he’d done with Gates for the former Ukrainian president, became the first, in May.
  • He was followed by Richard Pinedo, seller of fake IDs and fraudulent bank accounts,
  • and former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos.

When this year began,

  • Scott Pruitt was still indulging in spectacular corruption as head of the Environmental Protection Agency.
  • Omarosa Manigault Newman had just been fired from her senior administration job and had not yet revealed her stash of secret recordings.
  • Rob Porter, who has been accused of abuse by two ex-wives, was still White House staff secretary.
  • David Sorensen, accused of abuse by one ex-wife, was still a White House speechwriter.

At the start of 2018, the

  • casino mogul Steve Wynn was the Republican National Committee’s national finance chairman. He resigned after The Wall Street Journal reported that he’d been accused of committing multiple acts of sexual harassment and assault. (Wynn denied assaulting anyone.)
  • Elliott Broidy, owner of a private security company, was an R.N.C. deputy national finance chairman. He resigned after The Journal reported that he’d paid hush money to a former Playboy model who said she’d had an abortion after he got her pregnant.
  • (Cohen was also a deputy chairman; he resigned in June.)

As this year began,

  • Steve Bannon, Trump’s former campaign head and chief White House strategist, whose sympathy for white nationalists did so much damage in so little time, was still running Breitbart News. He’d not yet burned his bridges to Trumpworld with his comments in Michael Wolff’s book “Fire and Fury,” which was published in January. Since then, Bannon has lost considerable pull. He most recently made headlines after he was scheduled to speak at a conference on sex robots; a backlash to his invitation led to the conference being postponed.

In January,

  • McClatchy reported that the F.B.I. was investigating whether Russia funneled money through the National Rifle Association to aid the Trump campaign. Throughout the year, as evidence of sketchy connections between the N.R.A. and Russia kept emerging, many on the right poo-pooed it. (“This attempt to turn the N.R.A. into another cog in the Russian conspiracy is laughable, but the mainstream media apparently still find it deeply compelling,” wrote Breitbart editor Joel Pollak in March.)
  • On Thursday, Maria Butina, a Russian who’d nurtured ties to N.R.A. leadership and to Trumpworld, pleaded guilty to conspiring to act as a foreign agent. The plea described how, after arranging a junket to Moscow for a “Gun Rights Organization,” she wrote a message to her handler that was translated as, “We should allow them to express their gratitude now, we will put pressure on them quietly later.”

Republicans, Don’t Fool Yourselves — Donald Trump Is in Serious Trouble

In response to the emerging evidence that Donald Trump directed and participated in the commission of federal crimes, all too many Republicans are wrongly comforting themselves with political deflection and strained legal argument. The political deflection is clear, though a bit bizarre. The recent wave of news about Trump’s porn payoffs is somehow evidence that investigators and critics are “shifting focus” from the Russia investigation to alleged campaign-finance violations.

It’s almost as if the campaign-finance news is taken as some sort of evidence that Mueller’s core investigation is faltering, so the media and investigators have to find something to use to attack Trump.

But the campaign-finance investigation has little to do with Mueller. It’s run by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, and — besides — what do we want federal prosecutors to do when they discover evidence of unrelated crimes when engaged in a different investigation? Let bygones be bygones? Or refer that evidence to the proper jurisdiction — as Robert Mueller’s office did — for further investigation and potential prosecution?

.. The current wave of news reports is largely driven by court filings, and those court filings don’t represent a shift in law-enforcement focus on Trump but rather an arena of additional inquiry. The sad reality is that the Trump operation was a target-rich environment for any diligent investigator.

.. The Edwards prosecution failed not as a matter of law but of fact. The prosecution simply didn’t produce sufficient evidence to prove its case. Here’s Conway, Katyal, and Potter on the contrasts between the Edwards and Trump cases:

A key witness, Bunny [Mellon], was 101 years old and too frail to show up at trial. There were no written legal agreements providing money in exchange for silence, as there are in Trump’s case, and no threats by the mother of the child to go public immediately if the funds were not received. That’s why one juror told the media that the evidence wasn’t there to show even that Edwards intended the money to go to Rielle Hunter. In contrast, in a bombshell disclosure this week, the public learned that AMI, the parent corporation of the National Enquirer, is cooperating with the prosecution and has stated that the payments were made to influence the 2016 election. And even more worrisome for Trump, reports emerged Thursday that Trump was the third person in the very room where Cohen and David Pecker (the head of AMI) discussed the hush money payments — making it very hard for Trump to assert a non-campaign-related purpose

..So far, the best available evidence indicates that Trump’s commitments to Stormy Daniels didn’t exist “irrespective” of his campaign but rather because of his campaign. That’s Michael Cohen’s assertion. That’s AMI’s assertion. The affairs were relatively old — and so was the threat to his family — but the payments were new, rendered at a crucial time in a very close presidential contest.

.. Moreover, Cohen has indicated that prosecutors have a “substantial amount of information” that corroborates his testimony. And what is that information? Well, as the Wall Street Journal has already reported:

Mr. Trump was involved in or briefed on nearly every step of the agreements. He directed deals in phone calls and meetings with his self-described fixer, Michael Cohen, and others. The U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan has gathered evidence of Mr. Trump’s participation in the transactions

Here is the fundamental reality, Republicans — there is already far more evidence of legal culpability against Trump than ever existed against Edwards, and a federal judge permitted the Edwards case to go to trial. It is true that, if Trump does eventually face indictment, a different judge may have a different view of the law, but if Trump is counting on a favorable legal ruling, he’s playing a dangerous game indeed.

.. Campaign-finance law is constructed from the ground up to require candidate transparency and guard against corruption. Thus, it is purposefully very hard for candidates to find a way to legally and quietly use substantial sums of money to cover up dirty deeds. In his essay, Smith argues, “Indeed, it is quite probable that many of those now baying for Trump’s scalp for illegal campaign contributions would be leading a charge to prosecute Trump for illegal ‘personal use’ of campaign funds had he made the payments from his campaign treasury.”

That’s likely correct — and evidence that campaign-finance law is working as intended. In other words, if you’re a campaign-finance lawyer, and a candidate asks your advice on how to buy the silence of a porn star and hide that payment entirely from the American people, your best response should be, “Have you considered not running for office?”

Cohen Implicates Trump in Campaign-Finance–Law Violations

.. Cohen is not required to cooperate with investigators in any other federal probe as part of the agreement.

.. Cohen also admitted while announcing his plea that the payment to Daniels, and another hush-money payment to former Miss America contestant Karen McDougal, were made “for the principal purpose of influencing the election.”