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John Heilemann: 'The 2016 Election Was Fakakte'

That's one way to end a rant about the need for using strong language about the president's high crimes...but somehow it worked.

Words matter. For the longest time we called conspiracy "collusion." Orange Julius and his minions are still calling it collusion. It sounds so much softer than "conspiracy," doesn't it? It took us a long time to finally call the Trump campaign's actions what they were. Conspiracy. On Deadline Whitehouse, John Heilemann wanted to make sure we don't make the same mistake twice.

I'm not sure what everyone on the show has against the resistance, but they seem to all want to make sure we know they're not just talking "like the resistance" when they say we should not go soft on the language we use to describe this tyrant's crimes. He's not just an unindicted co-conspirator in campaign finance law violations. We're not talking about someone who gave five bucks over the limit, or forgot to report some free fliers a local store printed for them.

Just like we shouldn't talk about collusion, we should talk about conspiracy. We should not talk about this as a campaign finance violation. Yes, it violates campaign finance law. What happens in an October of a presidential year, if a presidential nominee goes to his lawyer to ask for a payoff to keep an embarrassing story that could sway the election one way or the other, is an attempt to DEFRAUD the American people and DEFRAUD the democratic process. Yes, the LAW in question is a campaign finance violation, but what's really going on there is not a narrow technical thing. It's not like somebody forgot to report, somebody gave a little bit more than the minimum, some PAC didn't follow a small regulation. This is a fundamental thing. The NOMINEE, at the closing days of the campaign, when he thought his campaign was on the line and a story, or two stories potentially threatened his nomination went and said, "I gotta make this story go away," according to Michael Cohen and said, "Go make this go away, and pay for it." I think that goes not in a resistance-y way at all. It's actually a much more dramatic and more accurate way of stating what happened there. And, yes, it implicates the president in the commission of a felony, but it also implicates the president in what is now a growing sense that a lot of people have, and not just resistance people, that this is one MORE way in which the 2016 election was fakakte.


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I don't know if Harry Litman was simply as excited as I was to hear Heilemann use Yiddish to punctuate his point, or if he was just in such emphatic agreement with him, but Litman ended up basically blowing off Nicolle's question to drive home Heilemann's point even further.

I can't say strongly enough, John is SO DEAD-ON here. The second defense of Team Trump now is, "Oh, a technical campaign finance violation." That makes it seem ministerial. It's the exact opposite. It's what really gives rise to the Watergate comparisons. What Cohen says in court — and, by the way, it's not in the information — he made a point of saying it, is, not only was it at the direction of trump, but it was for the purpose of influencing the election. That gets down the middle, in the bull's-eye of high crime of misdemeanor land, especially given how excruciatingly close the election was. It's quite like what the Watergate burglars did, except Nixon was up 25 points against McGovern. It's a serious corruption of governmental function and of the election and it has to be thought of in those terms.

Maybe the Resistance is onto something.

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