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Opinion But what about the crimes Trump’s inner circle didn’t commit?

Michael Cohen. (Craig Ruttle/AP)

When confronted with the information that former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort was convicted on eight counts of tax and bank fraud and President Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen has stated under oath that he broke the law “at the direction of a candidate for federal office,” a Trump supporter has two options.

One is to do what House Speaker Paul Ryan did: respond that you would need a lot more information before you could even begin to dream to venture a morsel of a hint of an opinion and then transform into a bat and swoop out of range of the camera.

Another is to point out, as Matt Schlapp quite sensibly did, that no one is tougher on crime than you, but surely these are not real crimes.

Look, you know crime. Crime is what Hillary Clinton did, and probably also Barack Obama, somehow. Crime is, as Donald Trump pointed out at his rally in West Virginia on Tuesday night, what Democrats want to fill the country with.

There are crimes, and then, there are crimes. We can all agree that nothing someone in an ostrich jacket does is a real crime. A real crime is something a mother does to make a better life for her children while wearing sneakers from a discount bin. You can tell that no real crime has been committed this time because nobody on Fox News is upset about it. If a crime had happened, like Clinton sent an email or an immigrant got a speeding ticket, Fox News would be covering it from wall to wall, and there would be no end to it.

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A criminal is a certain sort of person (“they’re not sending their best), whereas the people President Trump surrounds himself with are, of course, the best people. (Some of them are even very fine people or keep having dinner with very fine people. Very fine people hate criminals. Much is to be understood from these phrases.)

It is quite easy to understand when you think of it in these terms. Certain people commit crime, and other people, no matter what they do, cannot. (“When you’re a star, they let you do it.”) It is not that you are above the law. It is just that the law is one of a whole panoply of things that do not exist for you, like budget air travel or routine traffic stops gone wrong or being taken aside at the airport for no reason.

In fact, the actual news from yesterday is that Paul Manafort was not convicted on a majority of the counts brought against him. When you think about all the crimes there are to commit and then you think of how few he chose to, you marvel at the restraint of this great man. It’s like jazz: It’s the crimes you don’t commit.

Where is the treason? Manafort could have surrendered West Point to the British in collusion with Major John Andre, and he did not. Where is the collusion? Until we have footage of Trump admitting on tape to being Vladimir Putin in a breathable plastic mask, I don’t think we need to worry. And even if that’s true, is collusion illegal? Trespassing to sleep on a park bench is illegal, definitely, but collusion seems sort of vague and gelatinous, like something you might take off a tray at a cocktail party by mistake. Or is that a collation? My point is, it is confusing.

One way to look at it is that the president is now an unindicted co-conspirator. Another way to look at it is: That phrase includes the word UNINDICTED!

Besides, doesn’t the First Amendment say that if you have enough money you can do whatever you want? I’m like 98 percent sure that was the upshot of Citizens United. And if you use money to make people not speak, say to the National Enquirer, during an election season, that is just bonus speech.

This is an oopsie, a goof, a bit of a faux pas, a misstep, a slight flub at best. This is something you could tell as an amusing anecdote at a country club or in a smoke-filled room. This is not a crime. A crime is when you steal bread to feed your family. Crimes are for other people.

Also, not that it matters, but I don’t see anything about Russia here.