Los Angeles Times White House reporter Eli Stokols revealed on Monday that Republican lawmakers are beginning to contemplate abandoning President Trump in the wake of federal prosecutors on Friday concluding that then-candidate Trump directed his former personal attorney and fixer, Michael Cohen, to commit crimes related to campaign finance violations.
In a sentencing memo for Trump’s former longtime personal lawyer Michael Cohen on Friday, prosecutors from the Southern District of New York concluded that Trump directed Cohen to commit two campaign finance violations. Prosecutors argue that Cohen “acted in coordination with and at the direction of” Trump before the election in making payments to silence a pair of women, Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, about alleged affairs.
“And you’ve seen the president attacking Michael Cohen and basically asking the public to dismiss what he’s saying by saying, ‘Look, this guy is just trying to get a better deal for himself, don’t believe him.’ But as Chris Christie pointed out, the Mueller investigation, Southern District of New York, they probably have a lot more evidence than just the word of Michael Cohen and that has to worry the president,” Stokols explained on MSNBC’s “Deadline: White House.”
“Yes, he and Rudy Giuliani on some level believe they can continue to attack the investigators, to try and convince the public that there’s something nefarious and something politically motivated about this,” he noted. “But when all the facts are laid out and people can see the investigators’ work, I think it’s going to be very problematic for this president.”
“And there is some understanding, I think, inside the White House of just how dark it may be getting, especially in terms of conversations — private conversations — that people there are having with Republicans on the Hill who are starting to be concerned,” Stokols reported.
“Republican lawmakers who are — have a huge role to play in this if it goes forward — are starting to tell me privately, some of them, that, you know, if there’s obvious evidence, the bottom is going to fall out,” he explained.
“They’re not going to be able to stand by this White House and that’s a looming problem for the president,” he concluded.
“It’s much harder to stop what’s happening in that office as opposed to with the special counsel’s investigation,” Stokols noted. “This train has left the station, there’s really nothing that this White House can do about it.”
“I think that’s a source of frustration to the president. Also, it’s difficult to politicize, it’s difficult to go out and demonize that office because, as you pointed out already, that’s a Trump appointee running that office,” he added.