The cases against Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen are a success for the rule of law. Donald Trump is not finished as president. But the prosecutions show how one can overcome the crisis facing U.S. democracy.

It’s good to know that in these crazy times, where populists and political opportunists are wreaking havoc, there is an institution in the U.S. which still seems to be reliable: the judiciary.

The trial of Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, and the admissions of his ex-lawyer, Michael Cohen, serve as a painful reminder to the president and his fanatical supporters that there are some iron rules of a liberal democracy: under the rule of law, no one is above the law. Facts are facts. And truth is truth.

Manafort, who Trump called “a good man,” has been convicted of serious crimes, therefore he’s likely facing prison time. And Cohen has pleaded guilty to multiple offenses, so he is threatened with the same fate. Other former Trump confidants like Michael Flynn and George Papadopoulos have also pleaded guilty to criminal offenses and await sentencing.

The investigators working with Robert Mueller are the true heroes in this story. They are dismantling Trump’s empire of lies piece by piece. You can take my word for it, it is now confirmed that the president, who declared that “only the best people” work for him, is in reality surrounded by crooks and fraudsters – and has possibly committed crimes himself.

A Stage Win

Mueller and company have won a battle. But democracy and the rule of law are not automatically saved.

Trump will continue to act as an autocrat, continue to lie, trick and attack anyone he sees as dangerous: Mueller, the investigators, the critical media, opposition from inside and outside the Republican Party. He will pull out all the stops to influence political opinion and the views of his base in his favor.

And there is more: it’s possible that Trump may pardon key witnesses to the Russian affair like Manafort to prevent them from talking. He can dismiss critical prosecutors and FBI investigators. And he can brand his ex-confidant Cohen as a notorious liar. (“Michael made up stories.”) If the investigations fail to substantiate Cohen’s allegations against Trump, then in the end, witnesses will testify against Cohen’s testimony, and Trump will be off the hook.

Only Hard Work Helps

The judges and investigators must continue to work hard, to conduct meticulous research, present facts and judge fairly. The truth, confirmed by a court and jury, is and remains the most powerful weapon in the fight against this king of lies.

In the jumble of the Russia affair and the Stormy Daniels payment, Trump has not yet been convicted of any offense. But if he is, he must go. The other pillars of this old, venerable democracy must then recognize their responsibility.

That would be the members of the Senate and the House of Representatives who have to decide on possible impeachment proceedings against Trump. And it’s the sovereign voter who, on Nov. 6, decides who will have a say in the future through the midterm elections: the followers and yes-men, or the defenders of the rule of law and democracy.