After months of controversy and public upheaval, it’s no surprise that Donald Trump’s presidency is under scrutiny once again. But do the recent FBI raids of Michael D. Cohen’s office reassure us that democracy is being protected or confuse our sense of privacy?
This doesn’t seem to be a black and white moral issue, and the implications of this event are unclear. Though the official search warrant has not been made public, we can only assume that the property of Trump’s personal lawyer has been seized due to some dodgy campaign documents. The FBI are supposedly searching for information on Karen McDougal and the $150,000 payment made to her by American Media Inc. – whose chief executive is a close friend of Trump’s. Sounds completely reasonable right? Until you add a yearlong romantic affair and presidential candidacy into the mix. Then there’s the evidence of the $130,000 payment to adult entertainment star Stephanie Clifford (more popularly known as Stormy Daniels) in the concluding days of Trump’s election campaign trail in 2016. Another attempt to silence a woman that has the power to jeopardise his popularity among voters? I think so.
With accusations of bank fraud and campaign finance violations swirling around the president, there seems to be valid reason for the FBI to investigate. The pay-out to Clifford is said to have broken campaign finance laws, as contributions should only amount to a maximum of $2700 according to federal legislation. With Cohen massively exceeding this limit when paying Clifford to keep quiet in order to protect Trump, it’s pretty clear that some foul-play has occurred. Accusations of sexual assault, epitomised by the unforgettable Access Hollywood tape, have long been overlooked, but has Trump finally met his downfall?
The accused pair have had quite different responses the raids. Cohen himself has described the FBI as “professional, courteous and respectful” when questioned about his experience of the raids. A statement world’s apart from the variety of outbursts made by the president himself when flexing his twitter-fingers once more. My personal favourite was “A TOTAL WITCH-HUNT!!!” for its elegant echoing Nixon era rhetoric. Is that impeachment calling? Are you nervous, Mr President?
It’s fair to say it hasn’t been the best month for Donald Trump – not that he’s had many fine moments – with such pressing domestic affairs only intensifying external issues such as the ongoing Russia investigation. However, the question needs to be asked by someone writing from a solid anti-Trump perspective: is this reaction too harsh or is it proportionate to the evidence stacked against the legitimacy of the current presidency? Do the FBI have too much power or should corruption be outed at all costs? For now, we have to wait patiently for the findings of the raids to be reported. Whether the accusations put against Cohen and Trump are proved right or wrong, it’s telling that the FBI had to take action in the first place. Ultimately, the presidency is fragile, and Trump’s denial of involvement is most-likely a desperate attempt to keep a sinking ship afloat.