By Quin Hillyer at the Washington Examiner, insisting on the same ethics and responses for 20 years;

The same message applies today to President Trump.

First, let’s get the impeachment issue out of the way. As Andrew McCarthy correctly argues at National Review, a payment that would have been legal if made directly, by somebody with a history of buying his way out of non-illegal embarrassments, without obvious intent to evade campaign laws (but, rather, the intent to evade personal embarrassment), to settle shameful private matters from years earlier, is not an offense “of the egregious nature that rises to high crimes and misdemeanors,” partly because “it is remote from the core responsibilities of the presidency.”

What Trump did with his indirect payments to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal was a bizarrely inverted example of money laundering. What usually happens when somebody hides payments is that he is trying to disguise (to pretend he is making it clean) the legally dirty nature of the transaction. Here, Trump was turning a legally (but not morally) allowable transaction into a technically illegal one, without appearing to know it was illegal. At least viewed alone, rather than as a pattern of behavior evincing a criminal mens rea (mind set) — a pattern which may exist, but hasn’t been proved yet — this appears to be the sort of violation that usually is punished not even by jail time, but by a mere monetary fine….

[For the rest of the column, go here.]


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