President Donald Trump avoided mentioning either his former campaign boss Paul Manafort, or his former longtime personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, during a campaign rally in West Virginia on Tuesday night, just hours after Manafort had been convicted of, and Cohen had pleaded guilty to, eight separate felony counts each.
In New York, Cohen had pleaded guilty in federal court to five counts of tax fraud, one of bank fraud and two felony campaign finance violations. He had also implicated Trump in the campaign finance violations, testifying under oath that "a candidate" for federal office had directed him to make illicit payments to two women, payments which were intended to influence the 2016 presidential elections.
Two hundred miles south of Cohen's courtroom, in Alexandria, Virginia, Trump's former 2016 campaign chair, Paul Manafort was found guilty of eight unrelated felonies: Five counts of felony tax fraud, one count of failing to report a foreign bank account, and two counts of bank fraud.
And while Cohen did not name Trump in court — adhering to the Justice Department's policy of not naming unindicted individuals — Cohen's lawyer Lanny Davis later said that Trump "directed him to commit a crime by making payments to two women for the principal purpose of influencing an election. If those payments were a crime for Michael Cohen," Davis asked, "then why wouldn't they be a crime for Donald Trump?"
And while much of the country's news broadcasts Tuesday evening were focused on Cohen and Manafort, the two newly minted felons, Trump, for his part, took the stage in Charleston and delivered a speech that contained few clues of the catastrophic afternoon he and his presidency had endured.