Thursday was a rough day for Donald Trump on the legal front.
Just after lunchtime, the Wall Street Journal reported that longtime money man and Trump Foundation CFO Allen Weisselberg has been subpoenaed to testify before a federal grand jury as part of the Michael Cohen criminal probe. “Allen” was mentioned several times in the leaked recording of Cohen’s conversation with Trump about the planned payoff to Playmate Karen McDougal. Weisselberg was also deposed last year in connection with the investigation into alleged shenanigans at the Trump Foundation.
That’s a real problem for the President. Timothy O’Brien (who interviewed Weisselberg for a 2016 book called “TrumpNation: The Art Of Being The Donald” and who has written extensively on this) was out on Friday calling the Weisselberg subpoena “a momentous turn“:
Weisselberg has extensive knowledge of the Trump Organization’s operations. Trump’s trust in him was deep enough that he regularly had Weisselberg prepare his personal tax returns and sign off on the financial details of the company’s deals. He also had a prominent position inside the president’s troubled charitable foundation. And he, along with the president’s two eldest sons, oversees the trust that Trump set up to manage his interests in the Trump Organization while he’s in the White House.
Hours after the Weisselberg news hit, CNN reported that Cohen is prepared to tell Robert Mueller that the President knew ahead of time about the infamous Trump Tower meeting during which his son, his son-in-law and Paul Manafort met with Russians promising political dirt on Hillary Clinton. If true, that would contract more than a dozen explicit denials from Trump, his lawyers and his surrogates and would also appear to suggest that Don Jr. lied to the Senate Judiciary Committee last year.
As all of this news was hitting the wires, Trump was busy shrieking about imaginary economic miracles in Granite City, Illinois, where he spoke to a sad looking bunch of steel workers who have unfortunately been duped into believing that Trump’s policies can revive what is, in fact, a relic of America’s industrial past.
On Friday morning, Trump described that speech as “very emotional”, but as you can see from the following tweets, what the President is actually in his feelings about is the fact that Cohen (a man who Trump has variously insisted would never flip) is now prepared to talk to Robert Mueller.
The reference to the tweets there is an allusion to a New York Times piece out Thursday that indicated the special counsel is now considering whether to cite Trump’s tweets as evidence of witness tampering.
In case you were wondering whether the President is inclined to take questions from the media about the Trump Tower meeting, the answer is apparently “no”, because according to him, that’s “a waste of time”. Fortunately, prosecutors do not concur with that assessment and are going to keep “wasting time” on it for the foreseeable future, now with the help of Michael Cohen who at this point is probably angling to see how much time he can get knocked off of a potentially lengthy prison sentence. One certainly imagines that implicating a sitting U.S. president in collusion and obstruction would go a long way towards currying favor with the state.
Obviously, it is a terrible idea for Trump to be tweeting about this and the irony of castigating Mueller for looking at his tweets for evidence of obstruction and collusion in a three-tweet harangue about that very same obstruction and collusion is entirely lost on this president.
The reference to “taxi cabs” is an allusion to Yasya Shtayner, whose family owns Chicago Medallion Management Corp., which manages nearly 400 taxicabs. Cohen’s father-in-law loaned Shtayner millions of dollars over the past year and along with her husband Semyon, Yasya was identified in the warrant the FBI used in the April raid on Cohen’s offices and home.
One certainly imagines Trump is going to run out of excuses eventually.