OPINION: Trump supporters keep turning into criminals. What a strange coincidence.

By Chicago Tribune

Aug. 22–Shady characters seem drawn to President Donald Trump like mosquitoes to a swamp-side bug zapper.

It’s strange, really. You’d never expect a man who ran a perfectly legitimate fraudulent online university to be so felon-adjacent.

But here we are, on the heels of what presidential scholars, people with a pulse and raccoons of slightly above-average intellect would call “a really bad day” for the president.

On Tuesday afternoon, Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, went from looking like a guy who definitely committed tax fraud to being a guy who definitely committed tax fraud after a jury convicted him on eight counts of tax evasion and — you guessed it! — tax fraud.

At roughly the same time, Trump’s longtime lawyer, Michael Cohen, went from being the guy who said he would take a bullet for the president to being the guy would never, not-in-a-million-years, even consider taking a bullet for the president, pleading guilty to eight felony counts of his own — five tax evasion, one bank fraud and two campaign finance violations stemming from hush-money used to pay off an adult film actress and a former Playboy model.

Cohen also stated, under oath, that Trump instructed him to pay the two women off to avoid potentially damaging news coming out before the 2016 election, a claim credible enough for prosecutors to accept Cohen’s plea. It’s also a claim that implies the president of the United States is an “unindicted co-conspirator,” a term only one character longer than “Make America Great Again” that would also look great on red hats.

That seems like more than enough for one afternoon, but Cohen’s team wasn’t done. His attorney, Lanny Davis, went on MSNBC and said Cohen is willing to cooperate with special counsel Robert Mueller, who is overseeing the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election: “I can tell you that Mr. Cohen has knowledge on certain subjects that should be of interest to the special counsel and is more than happy to tell the special counsel all that he knows. Not just about the obvious possibility of a conspiracy to collude and corrupt the American democracy system in the 2016 election … but also knowledge about the computer crime of hacking and whether or not Mr. Trump knew ahead of time about that crime and even cheered it on.”

Imagine that. One day you’re just sitting there, minding your own business, brazenly leveraging the office of the presidency for your own personal financial gain, and then along comes your so-called friend and fixer, pleading guilty to a bunch of felonies and dragging your not-at-all good name deeper into the mud.

Where do these people come from? And why are they all orbiting around self-described stable genius Donald Trump?

We also learned Tuesday that Rep. Duncan Hunter of California, one of the first two Republicans in Congress to endorse Trump for president, was indicted on campaign finance charges alleging he and his wife used campaign money for overseas trips, dental work and an array of other personal expenses, including online video games.

It’s an odd coincidence, because the other of the first two Republicans in Congress to endorse Trump for president, Rep. Chris Collins of New York, was indicted earlier this month on insider trading charges.

So for those keeping score, Trump’s personal attorney and the campaign manager who helped him secure the nomination are now felons, and two staunch Trump allies in Congress have been indicted.

They join former national security adviser Michael Flynn, deputy campaign chairman Rick Gates and former campaign policy adviser George Papadopoulos as people linked to the president who have either pleaded guilty or been charged with a crime.

Who would have imagined that a wildly dishonest man who spent decades in the real estate and casino business might attract unsavory people?

Perhaps Trump, who promised he would hire only the best, is making sure his best people wind up incarcerated, allowing him to boldly reform the U.S. prison system — from the inside.

Maybe Manafort, who was broke when he volunteered to be an unpaid campaign chairman for Trump, thought being close to the candidate would make him a better and more wholesome person.

Who knows what drew these future felons and indictees to Trump. But whatever the reason, past and current supporters of the president should mentally prepare themselves for indictment.

It’s not technically a crime to stand with Donald Trump. But those who do seem to wind up criminals more often than those who don’t.

This article provided by NewsEdge.