Law Works Poll: Republican Voters Diverge from Republican Senators on Trump Crimes

Incoming Majority Whip Senator John Thune (R-SD,) defended President Trump after a Justice Department criminal filing suggested Trump broke the law, saying“These guys were all new to this at the time… Most of us have made mistakes when it comes to campaign finance issues. In many cases, campaigns end up paying fines and penalties. But I think it’s too early to say one way or the other on this. I think we have to wait and see what ultimately comes down the pike…”

Thune’s argument is out of step with his own Republican voters. Law Works polling shows that 81% of all voters, including 62% of Republicans, say that if the Mueller investigation results in criminal indictments, those crimes should be prosecuted in the courts and should not be dropped or dismissed. 63% of voters who believe the Mueller investigation is biased also believe that “Mueller should be allowed to finish his investigation and follow the facts wherever they lead, because everyone must abide by the rule of law, even the president.”

“Republican voters believe nobody is above the law, not even the president. They believe President Trump should be prosecuted if Special Counsel Mueller finds evidence he committed a crime. Americans expect better than to have senior Senate leaders like Senator Thune defend President Trump even if he has broken the law,” said Kevin McAlister, Law Works.

In last week’s SDNY filing about Michael Cohen, President Trump was accused of campaign finance violations, writing Cohen acted “in coordination with and at the direction of” Trump to break campaign finance law. The filing recommended Cohen receive substantial prison time after pleading guilty. Conservative legal experts are raising the alarm about President Trump’s criminal liability, with former US Attorney Andrew McCarthy saying, “The president is in peril of being charged.” Republicans like Lindsey Graham and Susan Collins have defended Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation and stand up for the rule of law, but party leaders are dismissive of criminal allegations against the president and appear to put partisanship above process.

Statements from Leading Republicans Defending President Trump

Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT): “The Democrats will do anything to hurt this President… I don’t care; all I can say is he’s doing a good job as President. You’re talking about things that happened before he became president.” [12/11/2018]

Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Current Senate Judiciary Chairman: “As long as Cohen’s a liar, I shouldn’t give much credibility to what he says.” [12/11/2018]

Senator John Kennedy (R-LA): “If I were a prosecutor, I wouldn’t base a prosecution on evidence given to me by Mr. Cohen. [12/11/2018]

Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), Senate Intelligence Committee: “We have to get all the facts and I’m going to wait until Mr. Mueller concludes his investigation. I’ve not reviewed the filings that you’ve referred to.” [12/11/2018]

Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO), Incoming No. 4 Senate Republican: “I don’t know that it changes things much… I think you would have to have more than this happen before anything changes much.” [12/11/2018]

Representative Kevin McCarthy, Incoming House Minority Leader“To go forward and say there is an impeachable offense because of a campaign finance problem — there’s a lot of members in Congress who are going to have to leave.” [12/11/2018]

Statements from Federal Prosecutors and Legal Experts

George Conway, Federalist Society Leader: “Except for that little part where the US Attorney’s Office says that you directed and coordinated with Cohen to commit two felonies. Other than that, totally scot-free.” [12/7/18]

Andew McCarthy, Former US Attorney: “The thrust of their allegation is that Cohen and Trump are confederates in an illegal contribution that Cohen made only because Trump directed him to do so… The point for this day is that the Cohen case in New York City is not about Cohen. The president is in peril of being charged.” [Fox News, 12/9/18]

Neal Katyal, Former Solicitor General: This is Southern District prosecutors, his own Justice Department, Trump’s own appointees saying that you, Mr. President, are directly implicated in federal felonies. Here, you directed your own personal fixer, Michael Cohen, to do his stuff and he was doing it at your direction. And then it goes on further to say this is a huge violation of law. This is not some minor technical thing. This is the core of what our democracy is about.” [CNN,12/7/2010]

Barbara McQuade, Former US Attorney: “The whole purpose of campaign finance laws is to provide transparency and who is paying for things and how they are being run. And, in fact, they use the word cloud, that Michael Cohen and individual one went out of their way and took deliberate steps to cloud that transparency by making these payments to hide the truth from the public so that they could cast an informed vote. When we have a democracy, it’s based on the ability of voters to cast an informed vote. And when you are hiding the truth from the American people, that then that democracy breaks down. That`s a serious crime.” [MSNBC, 12/7/2018]

Elie Hoenig, Former Assistant US Attorney: “But that passage that you just read Alisyn is so important because there you have the United States Department of Justice, I think for the first time in this administration, committing on paper in something submitted to a judge — which the Southern District would not do unless they had it locked in — that the president was involved in the campaign finance violations.”  [CNN, 12/11/2018]