Sunday, April 15, 2018

Trump Fought The Law (And The Law Will Win)

This will be a necessarily long post, with extensive excerpts about where things are headed in the investigations into the crime family and associates of un- indicted co- conspirator Donald "Rump" Trump.

There's been some buzz recently about an article by Adam Davidson in The New Yorker, offering his opinion that we're seeing the final act of the farce known as the Trump Administration. We're excerpting chunks of that article, which generally line up with our views of how things might play out.  As always, please go to the link and read the full piece.

Davidson begins with the tipping point:  the F.B.I. raid on Rump mouthpiece and "fixer" Michael "Clown Roy Cohn" Cohen:
... This week, we learned that Cohen has been under criminal investigation for months—his e-mails have been read, presumably his phones have been tapped, and his meetings have been monitored. Trump has long declared a red line: Robert Mueller must not investigate his businesses, and must only look at any possible collusion with Russia. That red line is now crossed and, for Trump, in the most troubling of ways. Even if he were to fire Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and then had Mueller and his investigation put on ice, and even if—as is disturbingly possible—Congress did nothing, the Cohen prosecution would continue. Even if Trump pardons Cohen, the information the Feds have on him can become the basis for charges against others in the Trump Organization.
Davidson summarizes why he thinks this is far more of a mortal threat to Rump than the investigation into his campaign's collusion with Russia"
... Some have been skeptical of the idea that President Trump himself knowingly colluded with Russian officials. It seems not at all Trumpian to participate in a complex plan with a long-term, uncertain payoff. Collusion is an imprecise word, but it does seem close to certain that his son Donald, Jr., and several people who worked for him colluded with people close to the Kremlin; it is up to prosecutors and then the courts to figure out if this was illegal or merely deceitful. We may have a hard time finding out what President Trump himself knew and approved. 
However, I am unaware of anybody who has taken a serious look at Trump’s business who doesn’t believe that there is a high likelihood of rampant criminality. In Azerbaijan, he did business with a likely money launderer for Iran’s Revolutionary Guard. In the Republic of Georgia, he partnered with a group that was being investigated for a possible role in the largest known bank-fraud and money-laundering case in history. In Indonesia, his development partner is “knee-deep in dirty politics”; there are criminal investigations of his deals in Brazil; the F.B.I. is reportedly looking into his daughter Ivanka’s role in the Trump hotel in Vancouver, for which she worked with a Malaysian family that has admitted to financial fraud. Back home, Donald, Jr., and Ivanka were investigated for financial crimes associated with the Trump hotel in SoHo—an investigation that was halted suspiciously. His Taj Mahal casino received what was then the largest fine in history for money-laundering violations. 
Then he tells us why, when the facts come forward, even some Rump supporters who voted for him in spite of (or even because of) his shady reputation will be disabused of their fantasies:
The narrative that will become widely understood is that Donald Trump did not sit atop a global empire. He was not an intuitive genius and tough guy who created billions of dollars of wealth through fearlessness. He had a small, sad operation, mostly run by his two oldest children and Michael Cohen, a lousy lawyer who barely keeps up the pretenses of lawyering and who now faces an avalanche of charges, from taxicab-backed bank fraud to money laundering and campaign-finance violations. 
Cohen, Donald, Jr., and Ivanka monetized their willingness to sign contracts with people rejected by all sensible partners. Even in this, the Trump Organization left money on the table, taking a million dollars here, five million there, even though the service they provided—giving branding legitimacy to blatantly sketchy projects—was worth far more. It was not a company that built value over decades, accumulating assets and leveraging wealth. It burned through whatever good will and brand value it established as quickly as possible, then moved on to the next scheme.
We left a lot out, so please check out Davidson's full piece.

If you're wondering "But what happens if Rod Rosenstein or Robert Mueller is fired?", Cristian Farias at New York Magazine has a plausible response:
Assuming the worst-case scenario of firing Rosenstein — or maybe the best, because it would afford Trump the cleanest chance to appoint a crony to assert control over the probe — what then? Does it all get shut down and go away? Peter Carr, the special counsel’s spokesman, declined to comment when asked by New York what conversations, if any, Mueller’s elite team of prosecutors has had to protect its own work from presidential interference. But it’s not inconceivable that Mueller has already done his due diligence and has a plan or plans in place in contemplation of his own dismissal.
To wit: The multiple FBI raids on Michael Cohen’s home, office, and hotel room this week — overseen by prosecutors in the U.S. Attorney’s office in the Southern District of New York, which covers Manhattan — resulted from a referral from Mueller to that office. [Preet] Bharara, who used to run the place before Trump showed him the door, acknowledged in his weekly talk show-cum-podcast that the existence of a wholly independent investigation out of a different office puts the Mueller probe, indirectly, on stronger footing. “I don’t see a way, legitimately or even pragmatically, that you can shut down a separate SDNY investigation once it is started. And boy, it is started,” Bharara said, using the acronym for his former office.
Rump and his "strip mall storefront"- caliber legal team have more than they can handle, not only with Mueller's A-team of investigators and prosecutors, but with the overseeing Federal judges (there are at least two grand juries underway) and, potentially, State prosecutors who will see to it that the investigations and criminal charges don't go away:
Mueller was deliberate from the outset of his appointment in choosing career lawyers and specialists with credentials and security clearances and relevant portfolios within the Justice Department that won’t vanish simply because their boss has been fired. Yessiree, Bob: Expect them to keep their heads down and continue the work. And to stay on their investigatory leads, to meet their court deadlines, and to attend any hearings they may be required to attend in the cases now public and active — against Manafort, Rick Gates, Michael Flynn, George Papadopoulos, and others that are now docketed with the court system. Trump can’t just flush all this work down the toilet. And should blanket pardons be in the offing — the only saving grace for an obstructor-in-chief — they’re ineffectual to stop potential state charges that may be in the works in New York or elsewhere. 
All of this should be of great comfort to anyone fearing an impulsive Mueller or Rosenstein firing. Not because it may not happen, but because there are so many levels of government and moving parts and Department of Justice officials — to say nothing of the federal judges who are overseeing the active cases — working in tandem to ensure that the wheels of the special counsel’s operation keep turning...
It's enough to give even the crankiest pessimists a glimmer of hope. We hope.


DivaNewYork said...

Thanks, as always, Hackie, for the concise post and for the link. If the feds don't get them, the SDNY will, just like they got the mob and Gotti (who thought he was made of Teflon, we well).

One Fly said...

I am not cranky but until something really happens instead of mostly hopeful speculation we got nada! I am optimistic that something could happen and may it be soon before the sonofabitch and the rest of the Republicans continue their hateful harm they are doing to our country.

W. Hackwhacker said...

Diva - right on.

One Fly - you ARE cranky ;-) , but we love you and love hearing from you! We think things are coming to a head soon, too. Hang in there.

Jerry Shepherd said...

When it really comes down to the time when Trumpenstien has no wiggle room left he will be saying (despite his self-proclaimed genius,) "I don't remember."

K said...

A bit off subject but not so far.
When the subject of demented donnie using pardons to protect himself, and family, from going to jail is brought up the comparison is always tricky dick.
Question I have, a real question, is why aren't perjurer poppa of bush crime family xmas eve pardons, after he lost '92 election, of all those who might be testify about his 5 or 6 years of perjury about his involvement, and records, in the iran/contra affair used as a comparison?
This to me would seem to be more on point and a clear precedent since the spineless D's let them pass without challenge at the time.
What am I missing?

Inquiring minds need to know.

W. Hackwhacker said...

Jerry - Right. That's his inoculation against self- incrimination.

K - You raise an excellent point, one we don't have an answer for. But the Poppy Bush pardons of Weinberger, et al, as he was running out the door in 1992, as well as his involvement the Iran-Contra (which he implausibly denied) certainly has echoes in today's events. The special prosecutor at the time, Lawrence Walsh, said this about the pardons:

“[The] pardon of Caspar Weinberger and other Iran-contra defendants undermines the principle that no man is above the law. It demonstrates that powerful people with powerful allies can commit serious crimes in high office—deliberately abusing the public trust without consequence. Weinberger, who faced four felony charges, deserved to be tried by a jury of citizens.” He concluded, “The Iran-contra cover-up, which has continued for more than six years, has now been completed with the pardon of Caspar Weinberger.”

Sound familiar? Great point, K.