You might have noticed that yesterday was not a good day for President Donald Trump. Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign manager, was found guilty of eight counts of financial crimes, including five tax fraud charges, two counts of bank fraud and a charge of concealing foreign bank accounts.
Manafort’s troubles aren’t over yet. Next month, he’ll be tried on separate charges that he worked as a lobbyist for foreign countries without registering and laundered some of the money he made while doing it.
Also yesterday, Michael Cohen, Trump’s former personal lawyer, agreed to plead guilty to eight counts of campaign finance violations, tax fraud and bank fraud. Cohen, you will recall, is the guy who arranged to give adult film star Stormy Daniels $130,000 in hush money so she’d keep quiet about a 2006 sexual tryst she allegedly had with Trump. As a CNN headline notes, Cohen has implicated Trump in the hush money scheme.
But wait, there’s more! U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), one of Trump’s earliest and most enthusiastic supporters, was indicted yesterday. He’s accused (among other things) of stealing a quarter of a million dollars in campaign funds to take fancy trips and buy luxury goods.
Gosh, it sure sounds as if the president has surrounded himself with some people of questionable morals – and he may even be guilty of shady dealings himself. Surely the nation’s Religious Right groups have something to say about this? After all, if these things were happening to a Democratic officeholder, if this amount of sleaze were oozing out of the White House and flowing down Pennsylvania Avenue, I feel certain they’d speak out.
Alas, no! I visited the websites of three leading Religious Right groups this morning where I saw nothing about Manafort, Cohen or Trump’s ethical lapses.
At the Family Research Council (FRC), the top story is a hysterical, error-laden screed about a bill in California that would allegedly make it illegal to sell Bibles. (In reality, the measure places new curbs on “gay conversion” therapy for minors.) The only thing about Trump on the organization’s homepage is an item at the bottom lauding him as a champion of religious freedom.
Over at the American Family Association, the group is unloading on the city of Chicago for being too violent. A video asserts that this is because people no longer respect the police. The rest of the homepage features the usual litany of AFA gay-bashing. The AFA’s OneNewsNow site, a font of “fake news” if there ever was one, mentions Trump’s troubles in passing but only in the context of highlighting a rally he held last night in West Virginia.
Ralph Reed’s Faith & Freedom Coalition is focused on attacking Planned Parenthood and pushing Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court. Trump’s troubles simply don’t exist.
Now, I do expect all of these organizations to say something about these developments eventually. Sooner or later, they’ll offer defenses of Trump. It seems that these self-appointed guardians of virtue, who are so quick to condemn LGBTQ people, progressives, feminists, non-believers, reproductive rights advocates, etc., can only condemn wrongdoing these days when it falls on one side of the political aisle.
The sadly deluded Americans who have chosen to cast their lot with these organizations may swallow this nonsense, but the rest of us know what’s going on: The leaders and followers of the Religious Right decided to align with Trump, and now they’re being dragged into his expanding pit of moral quicksand.
Good luck getting out of that.