You know, if I didn’t know any better, I’d be inclined to think there’s a criminal element to nearly everything Donald Trump has ever been involved in.
At this point, keeping track of the President’s legal woes is almost as difficult as trying to keep track of the administration’s schizophrenic approach to rewriting the rules of global trade and commerce.
So far, Robert Mueller has charged the following people and entities with crimes:
- George Papadopoulos (lying to the FBI)
- Paul Manafort (tax fraud, bank fraud, filing false statements, acting as an unregistered agent of a foreign principal, obstruction)
- Rick Gates (lying to the FBI, financial fraud)
- Michael Flynn (lying to the FBI)
- Sam Patten (failing to register as an agent of a foreign power)
- Lawyer Alex van der Zwaan (lying about Rick Gates)
- Richard Pinedo (identity fraud)
- 13 Russian nationals (all kinds of conspiracy against the U.S.)
- Konstantin Kilimnik (obstruction)
- A dozen Russian intelligence operatives (all kinds of conspiracy against the U.S., money laundering)
Paul Manafort was convicted, Papadopoulos is going to prison for 14 days, Alex van der Zwaan was sentenced to a month in jail earlier this year, and everyone else pleaded guilty besides the Russian nationals and the Kremlin intelligence operatives who are obviously nowhere to be found.
That’s not a “witch hunt”.
Mueller’s investigation is of course ongoing and who knows who’s going to get indicted next. At this point, the list of people who are in the crosshairs and who haven’t already been charged, seems to be down to people who are either extremely close to the President or actually related to him. Rudy Giuliani’s September 1 “deadline” for wrapping up the investigation was summarily ignored by Mueller and there are still two angles here, collusion and, perhaps more worrisome for Trump, obstruction, which the President is almost surely guilty of, even if only by accident.
Meanwhile, Federal prosecutors in Manhattan are working aggressively to uncover crimes related to the Trump Organization and if you thought that probe was going to end with Michael Cohen’s guilty plea, you were sorely mistaken. According to Bloomberg, New York prosecutors are now looking deeper into the Trump Organization to determine who else might have been involved in violating campaign laws.
“The inquiry, not previously reported, shows that the Manhattan U.S. attorney’s office doesn’t intend to stand down following the guilty plea from Trump’s longtime personal lawyer”, Greg Farrell and Christian Berthelsen wrote Friday evening, in a scoop that came after the closing bell on Wall Street.
Essentially, prosecutors want to know if anybody else close to President knew about, or was involved in, funneling money improperly to the campaign. Needless to say, Allen Weisselberg would be a key piece of the puzzle. Here’s Bloomberg:
Central to the inquiry will be longtime Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg, who has already provided narrow cooperation with authorities over Cohen’s activities and hush agreements, according to the person. It’s not clear whether Weisselberg is a focus of the continuing inquiry.
Weisselberg cooperated with the Cohen probe, with limited immunity. Known for his loyalty to Trump after decades of working together, Weisselberg would almost certainly be reluctant to go further, though it’s unclear if he has been pressed to do so.
News of Weisselberg’s immunity deal hit on August 24 and represented a potentially serious blow to the President. As noted above, Weisselberg was Trump’s longtime money man.
Late in July, news broke that Weisselberg had been subpoenaed to testify before a federal grand jury as part of the Cohen criminal probe.
Allen was mentioned twice in the secret recording of the conversation Cohen had with Trump regarding payments to Karen McDougal, the Playboy model who said she had an affair with then-candidate Trump. That recording was made public in July by CNN.
Here are the references to Weisselberg:
I’ve spoken to Allen about how to set the whole thing up. I spoke to Allen about it, when it comes time for the financing.
Weisselberg’s 2017 deposition (part of a cache of documents posted by New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood in connection with the Trump Foundation lawsuit) seemed to underscore allegations that the Foundation is little more than a “checkbook” for Donald Trump.
Bloomberg goes on to remind you that although “the Mueller investigation has drawn the most attention and angry tweets, the parallel inquiry in Manhattan poses its own distinct threat to the president.”
By the time this is all over, prosecutors are going to have to take a number and wait in line when it comes to indicting Trump, his family and his long list of associates, although the latter seem increasingly prone to flipping when push comes to shove.