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August 25, 2018

Monitoring the Midterms: Manafort, Cohen and political corruption


For the latest on the 2018 midterm elections, check out NewsHour Extra’s #MonitoringTheMidterms series, a set of classroom resources that encourages critical thinking among educators and students.


Directions: Read the summary below first, then watch the video (you may wish to stop the video at 4m:15s) and answer the discussion questions.  To help students follow along, turn on the closed captions function marked “CC” or use the transcript. If time is of the essence, read this brief NewsHour summary of events here.


Summary: Fallout continues after this week’s guilty plea and a guilty verdict for two men with close ties to President Donald Trump. On Tuesday, a jury found Trump’s 2016 campaign chairman Paul Manafort guilty on eight counts of bank and tax fraud and failing to disclose foreign bank accounts. Later that same day, Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to bank fraud, more than $4 million in tax evasion and campaign finance violations for paying off women at the direction of the President. Legal experts have been examining the question as to whether or not the outcomes for both men could pose a legal challenge to Trump. The President has defended himself this week, reiterating his belief that he is not implicated in the guilty pleas of Cohen.


Discuss questions as a class or with a partner or craft a written response.


1. Essential question: How does political corruption affect U.S. democracy?


2. How significant were Cohen and Manafort’s actions in affecting the standing of the Republican Party?


3. Do you think U.S. presidents should be able to be charged with a crime while in office? Why or why not?


5. What are the potential drawbacks of Democrats discussing impeachment proceedings ahead of the 2018 midterm elections? What are the potential drawbacks for Republicans remaining silent on the Cohen and Manafort outcomes? (Watch video at 9m:37s to 10m:41s)


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