President Donald Trump listens during a meeting with law enforcement officials on the MS-13 street gang and border security, in the Cabinet Room of the White...
Evan Vucci

All the president’s (indicted) men

Congressional Democrats generally responded to the new indictment against Roger Stone by putting the criminal charges in context.

Congressional Democrats said Friday that the arrest and indictment earlier in the day of former Trump adviser Roger Stone in the Russia probe could foreshadow even bigger developments.

“Roger Stone, Paul Manafort, Michael Cohen, Rick Gates, Michael Flynn… What did the President know and when did he know it?” tweeted Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. […]

Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., gave a measured response, saying it was “very interesting to see the kinds of people that the president of the United States has surrounded himself with.”

Actually, yes, it is interesting to see the kinds of people that the president of the United States has surrounded himself with.

Donald Trump presents himself as being aggressively “tough on crime,” which he frequently tries to incorporate into his broader agenda. Two weeks ago, while making the case for a border wall, the Republican declared, “The Democrats, which I’ve been saying all along, they don’t give a damn about crime. They don’t care about crime…. But I care about crime.” He made similar comments two days ago.

Trump’s rhetoric about his deep concerns about crime, however, are belied by his willingness to surround himself with criminals. In light of the latest indictment, it’s worth pausing to take stock of the number of presidential aides and associates who’ve faced felony charges as a result of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the Russia scandal:

* Roger Stone, a longtime Trump adviser and confidant, is under indictment.

* Michael Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer and business associate, will soon begin a three-year prison sentence.

* Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman, has been convicted and is awaiting sentencing.

* Rick Gates, Trump’s former campaign vice chairman, has been convicted and is awaiting sentencing.

* Michael Flynn, Trump’s former White House national security advisor, has been convicted and is awaiting sentencing.

* George Papadopoulos, Trump’s former campaign advisor on foreign policy, has already served his prison sentence.

* Alex van der Zwaan, a lawyer who worked with Manafort and Gates. has already served his prison sentence.

And those are just the top-line indictments. It doesn’t include the prison sentence for Richard Pinedo, the charges against related characters such as Sam Patten and Maria Butina, and, of course, the many Russian individuals and entities who’ve been indicted by the special counsel.

Eight weeks ago yesterday, the president wrote, in reference to the Mueller probe, “Did you ever see an investigation more in search of a crime?”

It was absurd at the time (Cohen made a surprise appearance in a New York courtroom to plead guilty to a new criminal charge a few hours after the tweet was published). It’s quite a bit worse now.