There was an unintentionally funny moment on ABC News’ “This Week” yesterday, when George Stephanopoulos asked Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) whether he’s concerned about Donald Trump’s apparent role in a pre-election hush-money scandal. The far-right congressman dodged the question, focusing instead on Michael Cohen’s credibility.
The host tried again, reminding Jordan that it was federal prosecutors in New York who concluded that Trump is “Individual One” in the Cohen case, directly implicating the sitting president in a felony. Again, Jordan tried to change the subject.
To his credit, Stephanopoulos tried once more, asking, “So just to be clear, the president’s involvement in those hush-money payments doesn’t concern you?” At that point, the Ohio congressman said, “The president has had an amazing two years,” and proceeded to act as if he hadn’t even heard the question.
This was more than just a reminder that Jim Jordan isn’t a great surrogate for the White House. It was also a reminder that, no matter what one thinks of Attorney General William Barr’s summary of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s findings, Trump’s legal troubles aren’t over.
The Washington Post had a good report along these lines on Friday night:
Yet even as one legal cloud lifts with the conclusion of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation, others loom large on the horizon – creating additional threats to the president’s standing as he seeks to shift attention toward his 2020 reelection campaign.
Nearly every organization Trump has run over the past decade remains under investigation by state or federal authorities, and he is mired in a variety of civil litigation, with the center of gravity shifting from Mueller’s offices in Southwest Washington to Capitol Hill and state and federal courtrooms in New York, the president’s hometown and the headquarters of his company.
To be sure, the investigation into the Russia scandal was probably the most sweeping of the Trump-era probes – the other presidential scandals, for example, do not have special counsels, and have not led to dozens of indictments – but to see it as the only meaningful scandal is to take an overly myopic look at the many controversies surrounding Trump and his many enterprises.
There’s the hush-money scandal. And the investigation into Trump’s inaugural committee. And the investigation into Trump Foundation. And the Emoluments Clause court case(s). And the civil suit filed by one of the women who accused the president of sexual misconduct. And allegations of bank/insurance fraud.
Of course, there are also congressional lines of inquiry on everything from tax returns, security clearances, presidential abuses, and scrutiny of Russian interference in U.S. elections.
I can’t say with any confidence what, if anything, will come as a result of Mueller’s findings, in large part because it’s so difficult to say whether the special counsel’s report will see the light of day. That said, to assume that Trump’s legal jeopardy is behind him is to overlook more than a few ongoing matters.