Its all kicking off again in what has become the most bizarre political market in history. Just when it seemed that bettors were giving up on Donald Trump leaving office prematurely, the US legal system deals the President a double-whammy.
Last night, Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort was convicted on eight counts of financial crime in the first of two trials that could see him spend the rest of life in prison. That news was widely expected, and could actually have been worse, but few predicted the second bombshell.
Cohen flip has massive implications
Michael Cohen – ex lawyer and fixer to the President – pleaded guilty to eight counts of tax fraud, bank fraud and, critically, campaign finance violations regarding hush money paid to Stormy Daniels and another Trump accuser, Karen McDougal. A man who once claimed he’d take a bullet for Trump now directly implicates him, saying his crimes were ‘on behalf of a candidate with the purpose of influencing the election’.
Most seriously, this could be merely the first Cohen revelations. He has been at the heart of Trump operations for years and is a key player in the Russia investigation. Just as Manafort’s deputy Rick Gates flipped to become a star witness rather than face a life in prison and financial ruin, so too Cohen may be forced to testify.
Convictions spark a new gamble on Trump leaving early
Late last night UK time, Betfair markets immediately reacted. The likelihood of Trump surviving a full term fell from 72% to 63%, before settling around (65%) this afternoon at odds of 1.53. The odds on him leaving in 2018 also fell sharply to 10.0 (10%) and Trump’s odds to win the 2020 Presidential Election is out to 2.72 (37%).