Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2018, will be known as the day Republicans had to face their demon, the day that brought the perfect storm of illegality into the Oval Office.
First, we heard that the president’s longtime friend and former chairman of his 2016 presidential campaign, Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortDOJ investigating one-time Trump campaign adviser over alleged ties to Qatar: report Foreign lobbyists donated over M during 2020 election: report Former Mueller prosecutor representing Donoghue in congressional probes: report MORE, was found guilty of eight out of 18 counts in federal court. He faces more than 300 years in prison.
On the heels of that bombshell, we heard that the president’s personal lawyer of many years, Michael Cohen, not only pleaded guilty to eight counts and is cooperating with special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerSenate Democrats urge Garland not to fight court order to release Trump obstruction memo Why a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel MORE, but he has implicated Trump in a federal crime.
While all of this is incredibly bad news that could spell the beginning of the end of the Trump presidency, I focus on Republicans and what they must deal with because, as I have said many times, until now, they have looked the other way. They have enabled this president and his corrupt presidency.
In the face of Trump’s numerous misdeeds, fumbles, debacles and insults to Americans, the GOP and its leadership have buried their heads in the sand and abdicated their responsibility to America’s voters.
Will they continue in denial?
It will be hard for them to do so. Decision day has arrived for the Republican Party. Will it choose to be patriots, to act like true public servants, or will it continue to be puppets?
I use once again the obvious litmus test of imagination: Let’s imagine Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonDemocrats worry negative images are defining White House Heller won't say if Biden won election Whitmer trailing GOP challenger by 6 points in Michigan governor race: poll MORE was in the Oval Office and her campaign chairman had just been found guilty of eight counts in federal court; imagine that her personal lawyer had given her up and accused her of directing the lawyer to commit a federal crime.
There would be pitchforks in the hands of every Republican in Congress. There would be hearings as we speak. There would be demands for her to resign or to be impeached.
What do we have now? Nothing but deafening, cowardly silence.
Enough is enough.
November’s elections are just around the corner, and corruption is on the ballot right next to the names of Republicans. This does not mean that Democrats are running on impeaching Trump; they aren’t, they shouldn’t, and they won’t.
What it does mean is that, in addition to the issues voters in all districts care about, Democrats will be running against a hypocritical, overwhelming culture of corruption that emanates from the Oval Office, penetrates federal agencies and has even taken down members of Congress who were Trump supporters.
While all eyes are on the president, given the recent news, let’s not forget that his cabinet is a who’s who of perpetrators of fraud, lies, cover-ups and overall criminal and immoral acts. Let’s revisit just a few:
Forbes reported that Commerce Secretary Wilbur RossWilbur Louis RossHouse panel, Commerce Department reach agreement on census documents China sanctions Wilbur Ross, others after US warns of doing business in Hong Kong DOJ won't prosecute Wilbur Ross after watchdog found he gave false testimony MORE, in 2017, despite promises to divest, continued to have stake “in companies co-owned by the Chinese government, a shipping firm tied to Vladimir Putin’s inner circle, a Cypriot bank reportedly caught up in the Robert Mueller investigation and a huge player in an industry Ross is now investigating. It’s hard to imagine a more radioactive portfolio for a cabinet member.”
The inspector general of the Department of the Interior started a formal investigation into a real estate deal purportedly involving Secretary Ryan ZinkeRyan Keith ZinkeWant to evaluate Donald Trump's judgment? Listen to Donald Trump The Hill's Morning Report - Biden launches blitz for jobs plan with 'thank you, Georgia' OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Court sets in motion EPA ban on pesticide linked to developmental issues | Trump Interior Secretary Zinke files to run for Congress, again | Senate passes bipartisan B water infrastructure bill MORE and other developers, including Halliburton chairman David Lesar, according to Politico. In April, we found out that Zinke took a $12,375 taxpayer-funded charter flight that was deemed avoidable.
The Washington Post reported that former secretary of the Interior Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittEPA bans use of pesticide linked to developmental problems in children Science matters: Thankfully, EPA leadership once again agrees Want to evaluate Donald Trump's judgment? Listen to Donald Trump MORE, who resigned amid allegations of illegal spending of taxpayer money and unprofessional treatment of his staff, made a phone call to the White House from the $43,000 phone booth he had installed in his office.
As if that were not enough, these past two weeks brought the indictment on various charges of the first two members of Congress who endorsed Trump in 2016.
Again, the Hillary Clinton litmus test: Would she have gotten away with any of the above? And I have not even scratched the surface of allegations surrounding others who work in the White House, even members of Trump’s inner circle and family.
The president continues to insist he is innocent, that of all this is a witch hunt, that all of those who are turning against him are “rats” and have no credibility.
Never mind that the investigation headed by special counsel Robert Mueller has exposed several crimes committed by those surrounding Trump; there have been multiple indictments, several guilty pleas and a finding of guilt on eight federal criminal charges.
This is not made up by Democrats. This is no witch hunt. It is a hunt for truth. It is a search for justice, a pursuit of what is right. It is a quest for what America has lost since Donald TrumpDonald TrumpGraham says he hopes that Trump runs again Trump says Stacey Abrams 'might be better than existing governor' Kemp Executive privilege fight poses hurdles for Trump MORE entered the Oval Office.
Republicans know this; they are desperate and petrified — and they should be. Americans will not allow their country to go down in an embarrassing flame of lies, deceptions and attempts to cover up the corruption that is eating at our democracy.
There is a cancer upon us. It is up to Americans to cut it out at the voting booth in November by getting rid of the GOP leaders and members of Congress who have helped it metastasize.
Maria Cardona is a principal at the Dewey Square Group, a Democratic strategist and a CNN/CNN Español political commentator. Follow her on Twitter @MariaTCardona.