Guest Editorial: Chaos threatens to swamp a presidency

Farmington Daily Times
Guest Editorial

One of the reasons Donald Trump is president of the United States today is his consistent promise to "drain the swamp" that is Washington, D.C. 

Regardless of his personal behavior, there was a belief among many voters that he was the outsider needed to upend both sides of Pennsylvania Avenue in ways that would make the government more responsive to the people.

But with the president's former lawyer pleading guilty and his former campaign manager being found guilty of federal charges on the same day, it is getting harder for anyone to escape the conclusion that more than a little swamp water flooded onto the nation's political scene alongside Donald Trump.

Let's start with Paul Manafort, the president's erstwhile campaign manager. He took the wheel of the campaign at a perilous time — after the departure of a previous manager — and held on to it through the summer of 2016 before giving way to a team that took Trump through the final lap of the race.

Manafort's conviction on eight counts of tax and bank fraud stems from actions he took long before he became enmeshed with the Republican presidential nominee and aren't a direct reflection of his work on the campaign. 

Nonetheless, the fact remains that Trump hired the man despite his decades-long reputation in Washington as a hard-bitten political operative. 

We expect our candidates to do their due diligence and not hire a crook. In this case, the best that Team Trump can claim is that it eventually pushed him off the train.

Then there is the case of Michael Cohen, a former lawyer for Trump who pleaded guilty to tax fraud, lying to a financial institution and violating campaign finance law. 

His legal problems stem from being the man who helped silence two women during the campaign who claimed to have had affairs with Trump years ago. 

Cohen was the man on the scene who dealt with the storm that was Stormy Daniels.

Now, of course, the world is atwitter with speculation about what his plea might say about Trump's actions. 

And given Robert Mueller's ongoing investigation, we suspect we will learn the answer to that sooner or later. But in the meantime, even those who support Trump on policy have to, at least, be dumbfounded in regard to personnel.

If this is whom the president decides to surrounds himself with, it is little wonder Washington's dysfunction grows alongside the disenchantment Americans feel toward their institutions of government. 

The net result of the widening scandals around the president is that the White House will increasingly be captive to events rather than the master of its own fate.

At some point, we won't be alone in pointing out that the chaos Trump seems to relish creating is actually swamping his presidency.

Dallas Morning News, Aug. 23