Read: The eery parallels between Trump and the Watergate “road map”
Although the allegations against Trump are still just that—allegations—they’re far more serious. At the heart of the matter is the possibility that his campaign conspired with a foreign government to influence the 2016 presidential election.
Congressional investigators are also looking into whether the president has made policy decisions based on campaign favors. The president’s critics are suspicious of his relationship with Vladimir Putin and wonder if his financial ties to countries in the Middle East—including Saudi Arabia—affected the administration’s positions on serious matters such as the brutal murder of the Washington Post reporter Jamal Khashoggi.
The attorneys general of Maryland and Washington, D.C., have now piled on by filing a suit against the administration for having violated the Emoluments Clause. They argue that Trump has accepted foreign money through his hotels, where countries such as the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia have been renting large blocks of rooms at considerable costs.
Personal Crimes: In addition to the alleged original sin of foreign influence, Trump now faces serious accusations that he personally broke the law. Nixon, too, was accused of numerous crimes, including violating campaign-finance rules, evading taxes, and using federal monies for personal gain. These charges were serious enough to warrant a full-throated response from Nixon, including his infamous insistence that “I am not a crook” and his release of his tax returns, a precedent that every succeeding presidential candidate followed (until Trump). But Trump’s alleged personal crimes seem even more substantial. The president is now suspected of committing a felony by directing campaign payments to the adult-film star Stormy Daniels and the former Playboy Playmate Karen McDougal to keep them quiet about sexual affairs.
Read: Trump is going full Nixon on Mueller
That’s not all. The New York Times uncovered a long history of corrupt tax practices in which a younger Trump and his father, Fred Trump, attempted to evade their tax obligations through false assessments of properties and other shell games to protect their money. According to the report, these actions went far beyond the normal mechanisms wealthier families have long used to protect their assets and strayed into criminal territory.
What’s more, the U.S. Attorney of the Southern District of New York, the prime mover behind the campaign-finance investigations, is also looking into the practices of the Trump Foundation. Here the scent of wrongdoing is extremely strong, with evidence mounting that the tax-exempt foundation misused funds for the personal benefit of the family, and even for the purposes of the 2016 campaign. Facing such serious charges, the Trump Foundation has shut down its operations, but the reckoning over its spending practices will likely continue.