As I said in my last column, there are many reasons why no one should feel the need to put all their eggs in the Mueller investigation basket. Of course, the Mueller investigation is important and it has borne a lot of fruit already and promises to bring down the worst regime in American history. However, when we put all our hopes and dreams into one thing, the likelihood of them not working out as we hope multiplies.
The purpose of this column is to demonstrate that Trump is closer to the end than many think. As noted in the previous column, the seemingly strong base of support Donny once had seems to be crumbling, even as his opposition is strengthening. But things are about to get worse for Trump. There is so much more awaiting him than just Robert Mueller’s investigation. The Trump Crime Family is more likely to go down than not the only question is when. Not if, but when.
While Trump spends most of his time trying to “distract” you from the Mueller investigation, that particular investigation may be the least of his worries. I have said all along that I think he’ll resign before he’s ever impeached. Many people laugh at me for that and say he’s “too narcissistic” to ever quit, but why would anyone think he would want to take a chance on being the first “president” to ever be impeached and ordered removed from the White House? Why do people think he’ll sit still as his entire life as a criminal businessman falls down around him? Why do you think we haven’t seen his tax returns? This is a public control freak who has never willfully submitted his business records for scrutiny and who is the first person to run for president in more than 40 years to NOT release his tax returns. In any impeachment trial involving money or Russia, he will be forced to release his financials publicly. Why do you think he’s even more vocal about the press than even Mueller. He’s looking to blame them when he goes down.
And he will go down.
As of now, four separate investigative bodies are conducting at least a half-dozen concurrent investigations against Trump and his cronies. In addition, at least two state attorneys general have brought a civil lawsuit as to whether Donny is in violation of the emoluments clause of the US Constitution. Since we pretty much all know, instinctively, that Trump was a crook and a cheat as a businessman and that he most certainly colluded with Russia, all these investigations will likely lead to some useful information to be used as evidence. And if we can do our jobs and lead an absolute massacre of Republicans in thus year’s elections, and present them with a mountain of evidence of crimes and constitutional violations, it will be incredibly difficult for Republican Senators to not vote to convict. As I noted in my last post, the dam has already begun to burst; by April or May of next year, it is likely articles of impeachment will pass and the evidence will likely be enough to get 12-15 Republican Senators to vote with Democrats to convict. We may see a repeat of the spectacle in which Senate Republicans sent Barry Goldwater to the White House to tell Richard Nixon the jig was up and he needed to resign. Keep in mind, while this year’s election sees 24 Democratic seats and 8 Republican Senate seats up for election, in 2020, those numbers will be switched, with 24-25 Republican seats available, as opposed to nine Democrats. By then, they will no longer want to protect a likely lame duck like Trump. Face it; unless an unforeseen miracle happens, Trump’s reelection race won’t be close enough to steal and likely not close enough for two dozen Republican Senators to hang their hopes on.
So, what about all these investigations? What can we look forward to?
Well, you know about the Mueller investigation of Trump’s relationship with Russia, or you should. If you want to know everything, I’ll refer you to this article from Politifact. (Source) There is no question Russia interfered and tried to influence the 2016 election in Trump’s favor. The only question left is how much Trump and his campaign knew about the efforts and how many Trumpians worked with the Russians, wittingly or not.
For the record, the Russia investigation didn’t start with the Mueller investigation; it actually began when the FBI counter-intelligence group started looking into the connections between the Trump campaign and Russia way before Trump was inaugurated. However, the timeline will go into that. And while it will go into great detail about what is being covered, keep in mind, no one knows what Mueller actually has because nothing has leaked from his investigation.
That said, the Department of Justice is also looking into a number of instances of obstruction of justice, including his firing of James Comey as FBI Director and a number of misleading statements made by Junior Douchebag, his oldest son, regarding the infamous June 9, 2016 meeting in Trump Tower, including Donny Junior, a number of Russian intelligence officers and, most likely, Donny himself, in order to get dirt on Hillary Clinton.
While Donny screams “Witch Hunt!” every couple days at least, the one way you know something is a witch hunt is because the hunt doesn’t catch anyone, so we know this is no actual witch hunt. Already, Mueller has obtained guilty plea deals with Trump’s former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, a former foreign policy advisor for the Trump campaign. In addition, top campaign aides George Papadopoulos and Rick Gates have been convicted already, and Paul Manafort has also been convicted on eight counts, with another trial coming in about two weeks. Manafort’s close associate, Konstantin Kilimnik, has been indicted for witness tampering and another, Alex van der Zwaan, pleaded guilty to lying under oath and has already served time in jail. That’s in addition to the 25 Russian nationals and intel officers and three Russian companies indicted since the beginning of the investigation.
A true “witch hunt” would never produce such results within such a relatively short time. Benghazi, which produced zero indictments and zero crimes on the part of Americans, was a witch hunt. This one is not.
However, as noted, the Mueller probe is only the beginning of Trump’s worries. Consider that it’s only been two weeks since Trump’s very own lawyer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to six counts of tax evasion and bank fraud, in addition to two counts of violating campaign finance laws related to his payments to two women to buy their silence in service to the Trump campaign. Despite Trump’s pleas to the contrary, Cohen’s plea deal directly implicated Donny in several felonies and he did so again under oath in the courtroom. That case wasn’t handled by Mueller; that was handed off to the Southern District of New York (SDNY).
At the same time, Cohen also gave SDNY prosecutors all the details regarding the close work he did with another Trump crony, David Pecker, the owner of American Media, Inc., whose most prominent publication is the vaunted news publication (from the Trumpian POV, anyway), The National Enquirer. Apparently Donny had a deal with Pecker (making Trump a true Peckerhead), in which he would pay Pecker and Pecker would spike embarrassing stories upon Trump’s order to do so. That’s what Pecker did with Karen MacDougal’s story. She was the Playboy model with whom Trump had an affair years ago, and Pecker paid MacDougal $150,000 to do an exclusive interview for the Enquirer, which Pecker then promised Trump never to publish, as a favor to his campaign. That’s in addition to the $130,000 payment, personally made by Cohen to Stephanie Clifford/Stormy Daniels to keep her quiet, as well, just to help the Trump campaign.
And to make sure they can verify Cohen’s story, which would nail Trump at least as well as the Mueller probe, SDNY prosecutors have secured immunity deals with such key Trumpians as David Pecker and the Enquirer’s Editor-in-Chief Dylan Howard, both of whom should have a ton of evidence to provide, as well as the guy who holds all of Donald Trump’s business secrets, the Trump Organization’s Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Allen Weisselberg. Allen is among Donny’s closest financial advisers and he knows where all the financial bodies are buried (assuming there are no actual bodies buried, which is not a sure thing). He also runs the Donald J. Trump Revocable Trust, which is the entity in which Trump pretended to place all his business assets when he became president. On paper, Donny Junior and Eric own the Trust, and one of those is allegedly “working” on behalf of the American people, even as he supposedly runs the Trump business empire. They should all be able to confirm all the details, and that will put Trump on some very icy ground for a while. Whether the immunity deals are simply to confirm facts Mueller and SDNY prosecutors already know, or they promise to provide new details to investigators, Trump is in some seriously deep shit now with regard to the campaign finance violations, and they could also prove direct ties to Russia’s efforts to get Trump elected, with Trump’s cooperation.
If you’re worrying about Trump just issuing massive numbers of pardons to excuse those who could bring him down, it’s not worth your time, since the New York state Attorney General Barbara Underwood is also investigating the Trump Foundation for fraud and the Trump campaign for campaign violations.The NY AG’s office is also conducting a similar probe of Michael Cohen, on state tax law and fraud charges. And as much as he’d like to, Donny can only pardon people for “crimes against the United States,” which means he can’t pardon anyone for crimes against the state of New York. And yes, that includes himself.
Underwood has already filed a criminal lawsuit against the Donald J. Trump Foundation, in which it is alleged that the supposed charitable nonprofit engaged in all sorts of illegal activity. Among these potential crimes include self-dealing to personally benefit Donald Trump and his spawn, coordinating with the Trump Campaign, which would be illegal, and a lot more. The lawsuit is asking that the Foundation be dissolved, and that no member of the Trump Crime Family (not Tiffany) be allowed to serve on the board of a nonprofit for a time. They are also asking for millions in financial penalties. Their investigation of the Trump Foundation revealed it to be “…little more than a checkbook for payments from Mr. Trump or his businesses to nonprofits, regardless of their purpose or legality,” according to a statement Underwood made t the time the suit was filed. They found that, at one point, Trump’s campaign manager Corey Lewandowski personally directed payments from the Trump Foundation into Trump’s campaign coffers, just before the 2016 Iowa caucus. At one point, Trump used Foundation money to purchase a self-portrait to hang at one of his golf courses, and he often used Foundation money to settle lawsuits against him.
Underwood’s investigation may indicate why Trump still refuses to release his tax returns, since she is working with the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance on the investigation of the Trump Foundation. The Department of Taxation has already subpoenaed Cohen to both testify and turn over documents related to the Foundation’s finances. Underwood is already seeking an indictment of Cohen for state tax law violations, as well, which could very well doom Donny at the state level.
In addition to the state criminal charges, the New York Times (Source) is reporting that Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance could very well pursue criminal charges against the Trump Organization for Trump’s reimbursement to Cohen for the payments the lawyer made to Stormy Daniels and Karen MacDougal, in which he paid Cohen back for the payments at a rate of $35,000 per month, and labeled the payments as “legal services.” Based on the Times article, this could be just the first of many criminal charges against Trump’s company. There have already been calls to dissolve the Trump Organization.
These investigations come out of numerous allegations that the Trump Organization has been a money laundering machine for a while, possibly decades. There have long been numerous press reports questioning the sheer volume of wealthy foreigners, particularly from Russia and former Soviet states who have purchased condos in some of his buildings. There are also many questions as to where Trump got his money after his last (sixth) bankruptcy when he was in debt to the tune of $3.4 billion (yes, that’s with a “b”) and no one in the Western world would lend him money. It is well-reported that Russians bailed him out, arranging for numerous loans from Russian-friendly banks, and it is known that a large number of Russian oligarchs own condos in many Trump properties, including the Trump Tower in Manhattan, and New York prosecutors want to know the details, as one could imagine.
There are so many questions about how Donny does business, there is likely to be a lot for prosecutors in Manhattan and New York to look at. There has been a lot of speculation as to whether the Trump Organization laundered money from the Iranian government when they failed in a number of failed attempts to build Trump monstrosities in Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Brazil during the transition, after the election and the inauguration. That may explain his eagerness to cancel the Iranian nuclear deal. Since then, a number of his partners in those countries are under corruption investigations themselves.
The New York investigations only promise to get worse, as NY Attorney General candidate, Democrat Zephyr Teachout has promised to fully investigate Trump’s business dealings. In fact, it is the central promise in her campaign. That may not seem smart, politically – it’s a really bad idea for Democrats to make Trump the center of their campaigns most places, since healthcare is considered the most important issue for most voters this year – but she is a favorite to win in New York and she will have a lot more ammunition than Underwood, thanks to the plea and immunity deals. As noted, there have already been calls for dissolving the Trump Organization, and it’s only going to get worse for him.
New York isn’t the only state in which the attorney general is looking at Trump’s possibly criminal handling of money. The Attorneys General of Maryland and Washington, DC have also filed suit against Trump and what they find may force even Republicans in Congress to impeach and remove him, as their suit alleges massive violations of the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution. This Clause forbids all federal officials, including (especially) the “president,” from accepting payments or gifts, or anything from which they derive benefit, from any government entity, including foreign governments, but also national and state government entities. Since the Clause was included to prevent corruption at the highest levels of government, it’s pretty important.
That lawsuit alleges Trump may be in violation of the Emoluments Clause in part because his Trump International Hotel, which is located just blacks from the White House, is located in the Old Post Office building, which is wholly owned by the federal government and the Trump organization leases. Besides the awkward idea that, as “president,” Donny is in the unique position of being his own landlord, the hotel and the Trump Organization have received numerous payments from foreign governments, including many who are actively seeking to influence Donny’s policies.
This is the only investigation of Trump that is not a criminal one, but the lawsuit, which Trump unsuccessfully tried to block, could force Donny to disclose many important documents showing how foreign governments may be using Trump properties to buy influence from him. Of course, it could also result in Trump losing the lease on the DC property altogether.
With so many investigations and so much scrutiny of Trump’s business practices, Trump is already regretting his entry into politics, and things are just going tom get worse for him, especially if Democrats pull off a Blue Tsunami.