I am an innocent man being persecuted by some very bad, conflicted & corrupt people in a Witch Hunt that is illegal & should never have been allowed to start – And only because I won the Election!
— Donald Trump, March 3, 2019
On Saturday, in-between making thinly-veiled threats against Ilhan Omar and shrieking about “daughters being raped”, Donald Trump very calmly explained how “a couple of people in the wrong positions” are hard at work “trying to take [him] out with bullsh*t.”
Here, we’ll let him tell you about it – again:
The “bullsh*t” he’s referring to includes, among other things, obstruction of justice, corruption, abuse of power, campaign finance violations, tax evasion, money laundering and, of course, treason.
Well, on Monday, The House Judiciary Committee is sending document requests to five dozen people associated with Trump including Donald Trump Jr. and Allen Weisselberg. That’s according to Jerry Nadler who spoke to ABC on Sunday. Here’s Jerry:
Nadler went on to say that he believes Trump is guilty of obstruction. Here are some excerpts from the actual transcript from his interview with George Stephanopoulos:
STEPHANOPOULOS: Do you think the president obstructed justice?
NADLER: Yes, I do.
STEPHANOPOULOS: If that’s —
NADLER: It’s very clear that the president obstructed justice. It’s very clear – 1,100 times he referred to the Mueller investigation as a witch hunt, he tried to – he fired – he tried to protect Flynn from being investigated by the FBI. He fired Comey in order to stop the Russian thing, as he told NBC News. He – he’s dangled part —
STEPHANOPOULOS: But —
NADLER: He’s threat – he’s intimidated witnesses. In public.
STEPHANOPOULOS: If that’s the case, then is the decision not to pursue impeachment right now simply political? If you believe he obstructed justice?
NADLER: No. We have to – we have to do the investigations and get all this. We do not now have the evidence all sorted out and everything to do – to do an impeachment. Before you impeach somebody, you have to persuade the American public that it ought to happen. You have to persuade enough of the – of the opposition party voters, Trump voters, that you’re not just trying to …
STEPHANOPOULOS: That’s a very high bar.
NADLER: Yeah. It is a very high bar. That you’re not just trying to steal the last – to reverse the results of the last election. We may or may not get there. But what we have to do is protect the rule of law.
To be clear – and we’ve been over this countless times in the past – the prospect of Weisselberg being paraded up to Capitol Hill is a problem for Trump. If there’s anyone who knows where all the bodies are buried (figuratively speaking, one hopes), it’s Weisselberg.
You might recall that his deposition (part of a cache of documents posted by New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood in connection with the Trump Foundation lawsuit) was highly amusing for the extent to which it revealed, to quote The New Yorker, “his willingness to engage in practices that appear far outside financial norms.”
For instance, it appears that the board of the Trump Foundation failed to meet once a year as required by New York, but you can’t expect Allen to have known anything about that, because he didn’t even know he was on the board and was apparently in the habit of just signing tax returns without even reviewing them:
And there was more. As The New Yorker explained in a separate piece, Weisselberg “showed a surprising willingness [in the deposition] to give answers that put the President in an unflattering light.” Here’s Adam Davidson summarizing:
In January, 2016, during Trump’s Presidential campaign, his foundation made a series of donations to veterans-advocacy organizations in Iowa that were explicitly designed to gain support for his candidacy. Weisselberg filled out the checks. In his deposition, he volunteered that the Trump Foundation had no procedures in place to insure it followed the law and that Trump himself knew of and directed Weisselberg’s participation in the scheme to pay those Iowa veterans groups. Were Weisselberg eager to protect his longtime boss, he could have answered the questions far more narrowly. It was an early hint that Weisselberg, like Cohen, may not jeopardize his own freedom to defend Trump.
For those interested in the specifics, here are some of the passages from the deposition that Davidson is referring to:
You get the idea.
Back in August, the Wall Street Journal reported that Weisselberg was granted immunity by federal prosecutors in exchange for “providing information about Cohen in the criminal investigation into hush-money payments for two women during the 2016 presidential campaign”.
Allen was mentioned twice in the secret recording of the conversation Cohen had with Trump regarding payments to Karen McDougal. That recording was made public in July on CNN. Here are the references to Weisselberg in case you need a refresher:
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.
Cohen also mentioned Weisselberg during his public testimony on Wednesday. Here, for example, is his exchange with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez which we called “foreboding”:
Sure enough, the wake of Cohen’s testimony, The Daily Beast reported that Adam Schiff and the House Intelligence Committee intend to call Weisselberg to testify.
“Weisselberg is uniquely positioned to address questions about financial transactions or relationships that concern potential foreign leverage over Trump”, The Beast reminds you, adding that “Weisselberg is unique in the Trump orbit. In addition to being the Trump Organization CFO, he’s the Trump family accountant.”
Schiff told CBS the following during an interview on Sunday:
That, less than 24 hours after Trump called Schiff “shifty Schiff” at CPAC (which is actually an improvement from “little Adam Sh*t“). Schiff is also scheduling a public hearing with Felix Sater and has promised to subpoena the Mueller report and even bring in the special counsel to testify if he thinks William Barr is involved in a coverup.
It’s also likely that the The House Oversight Committee will seek to interview Weisselberg. “They have a good chance of hearing from us — at least an interview”, Elijah Cummings said Wednesday, referring to Weisselberg, Don Jr. and Ivanka.
Cummings also sent a letter this week to Sheri Dillon, Trump’s long-time tax lawyer, who is summoned to appear on March 19.
All of this as Maxine Waters digs into the president’s dealings with Deutsche Bank, where management reportedly had its own misgivings about their ongoing relationship with Trump during the campaign.
If you read all of the above and come away thinking that Trump’s legal worries are multiplying faster than his attorneys can keep up with them, you would be correct.
As we explained in great detail last month, depending on what actually comes out of it, the Mueller report may be the least of Trump’s legal concerns.
And on that note, we’ll leave you with a passage from last weekend’s “Icarus” post:
Sure, Mueller is the “black swan”, so to speak – or at least until William Barr either quashes the report or else the public discovers there was not in fact enough evidence to conclude that Trump knowingly colluded with a hostile foreign power. But barring (get it?) a dramatic turn of events that finds Trump being indicted for conspiracy against the country he runs while he’s still running it (a far-fetched outcome), the real threat to Trump are the myriad investigations into his businesses and other dealings and also the prospect that states will pick up where Mueller left off in order to prevent Trump from using the powers of the presidency to nullify the special counsel’s work.