The Unstoppable Donald Trump?

Donald Trump Speaking at CPAC

The Unstoppable Donald Trump?

Neither his political foes nor the courts seem able to impede former U.S. president Donald J. Trump these days. Just ask Michael Cohen.


Michael Cohen is back. Cohen, who was Donald Trump’s longtime fixer, morphed into his most prominent and loquacious critic after he was abandoned by the former president in 2016. It was Cohen who paid the porn star Stormy Daniels $130,000 in hush money and ended up taking the fall for Trump, pleading guilty to campaign finance violations in 2018. Cohen went to jail, where he began working on a tell-all book.

Now, in a fresh legal victory for Trump, a federal appeals court has rejected Cohen’s attempt to sue the former president for allegedly throwing him back into prison and solitary confinement after Cohen published a memoir called Disloyal. Not only did Trump escape any culpability for his involvement in the Stormy Daniels affair, but he also got to silence Cohen as well. “Trump just officially got away with jailing Michael Cohen in 2020,” the Daily Beast announced.


Cohen isn’t conceding defeat. As he depicts it, Trump or any other president would have the kind of powers that Russian president Vladimir Putin exercises if they could simply lock up their critics with impunity. “The outcome is wrong if democracy is to prevail,” Cohen declared. “A writ of habeas corpus cannot be the only consequence to stop a rogue president from weaponizing the Department of Justice from locking up his/her critics in prison because they refuse to waive their first amendment right. We will be filing a writ of certiorari to the Supreme Court.”

Before he does that, however, Cohen has another predicament he must contend with in New York. It appears that he supplied his lawyer with fake cases made up by artificial intelligence as part of his effort to win an early end to court supervision of his 2018 case. Cohen pleaded ignorance. He told the judge that he was unaware of “emerging trends (and related risks) in legal technology and did not realize that Google Bard was a generative text service that, like ChatGPT, could show citations and descriptions that looked real but actually were not.”

Say what? Given his previous immersion in Trumpworld, the last thing Cohen should be guilty of is an inability to recognize the difference between reality and fiction. Cohen’s misstep will assist the efforts of Trump’s lawyers to depict him as an unreliable scapegrace in the upcoming Manhattan trial brought by district attorney Alvin L. Bragg that contends that Trump was the prime mover in the scheme to buy the quiescence of Stormy Daniels.

So far, Trump is on a roll. He’s managed to stall his various trials and is cruising to victory in Iowa and New Hampshire. According to a new Washington Post-University of Maryland poll, his trials and tribulations continue to fortify his support in the Republican party. Most Republicans, for example, now assert that Trump is innocent of a conspiracy to perpetrate election fraud, and fewer say that the January 6 protesters were “mostly violent” than they did in 2021.

As Trump vows retribution on his foes and his supporters, such as Gavin Wax, the head of the New York Young Republicans, in an echo of Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels, states, “We want total war!” he seems to be stronger than ever. Neither his political foes nor the courts appear able to impede him. Just ask Michael Cohen.

About the Author

Jacob Heilbrunn is editor of The National Interest and is a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Eurasia Center. He has written on both foreign and domestic issues for numerous publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, Foreign Affairs, Reuters, Washington Monthly, and The Weekly Standard. He has also written for German publications such as Cicero, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, and Der Tagesspiegel. In 2008, his book They Knew They Were Right: the Rise of the Neocons was published by Doubleday. It was named one of the one hundred notable books of the year by The New York Times. He is the author of America Last: The Right’s Century-Long Romance with Foreign Dictators, coming next month.