The Trump Organization Is Not the Sitting President

In his sentencing memorandum submitted late last night, Michael Cohen laid out what investigations he has cooperated with so far:

Beginning before the entry of his plea on August 21, 2018, and continuing thereafter through late November, Michael participated in seven voluntary interview meetings with the Special Counsel’s Office of the Department of Justice (“SCO”). He intends to continue to make himself available to the SCO as and when needed for additional questioning. He also agreed to plead guilty to an additional count, namely, making false statements to Congress, based in part on information that he voluntarily provided to the SCO in meetings governed by a limited-use immunity proffer agreement.

[snip]

Michael has also voluntarily met twice with representatives of the Office, and responded to questions concerning an ongoing investigation. In connection with this inquiry, he intends to continue to make himself available as and when needed by the Office.

Michael has similarly met voluntarily with representatives of the New York State Office of the Attorney General (“NYAG”) concerning a state court action in which the NYAG has sued the Donald J. Trump Foundation and certain individual defendants, including Donald J. Trump. He also provided the NYAG with documents concerning a separate open inquiry. As above, Michael intends to make himself available to the NYAG to provide any additional cooperation it may request in these matters.

So:

  1. The Mueller investigation
  2. An open SDNY investigation (possibly just the one on campaign finance violations Cohen pled to, possibly more)
  3. NYS’ Trump Foundation lawsuit
  4. Another NYS investigation

That puts Trump’s eponymous organizations — his company and his foundation — squarely in the bullseye of law enforcement. The known details of all those puts one or the other Trump organization as an actor in the investigation. And we’ve already seen hints that the Trump Organization was less than responsive to some document requests from Mueller, such as this detail in a story on the Trump Tower deal:

According to a person familiar with the investigation, Cohen and the Trump Organization could not produce some of the key records upon which Mueller relies. Other witnesses provided copies of those communications.

If there’s a conspiracy to obstruct Mueller’s investigation, I’m fairly certain the Trump Organization was one of the players in it.

This is something I started thinking more about after reading this Walter Dellinger analysis of the OLC opinions on whether you can indict a sitting President (which is a really worthwhile read in any case). He notes how, once the President (or Vice President) enters into a conspiracy, you’ve got to name him, whether or not you indict him, to properly lay out the conspiracy.

The Jaworski filing notes how critical it is to identify the president as one of the criminal accused: “the identification of each co-conspirator — regardless of station — is a prerequisite to making his declarations in furtherance of the conspiracy admissible against the other conspirators.”

Although the brief concludes that “it is by no means clear that a President is immune from indictment” during his term, the special prosecutor chose not to indict the sitting president on the basis of “practical arguments.” Those arguments, however,

cannot fairly be stretched to confer immunity on the President from being identified as an unindicted co-conspirator, when it is necessary to do so in connection with criminal proceedings against persons unquestionably liable to indictment.

Naming the president as an unindicted co-conspirator was necessary for the grand jury to return a “true bill,” Jaworski argued, and “required here to outline the full range of the alleged conspiracy.” There exists, moreover, “a legitimate public purpose in reporting the fact that serious criminal charges against a government official have been made.”

The mere fact that an official has a personal immunity from prosecution does not bar the prosecution from alleging and proving his complicity as part of a case against persons who have no such immunity.

It would not be fair “to the defendants … to blunt the sweep of the evidence artificially by excluding one person, however prominent and important, while identifying all others.”

It made me realize something has been missing from every analysis of the indictment question I’ve seen: whether you can indict a sitting President’s eponymous corporate entities. Under Dellinger’s analysis, you’d have to include the Trump Organization in any conspiracy involving a Trump Tower in Moscow — it was the entity that signed the Letter of Intent, would be the entity that would obtain funding, and would be the entity that would profit.

But the Trump Organization did not get elected the President of the United States (and while the claims are thin fictions, Trump has claimed to separate himself from the Organization and Foundation). So none of the Constitutional claims about indicting a sitting President, it seems to me, would apply.

If I’m right, there are a whole slew of implications, starting with the fact that (as I laid out on a Twitter rant this morning), it utterly changes the calculation Nixon faced as the walls started crumbling. Nixon could (and had the historical wisdom to) trade a pardon to avoid an impeachment fight; he didn’t save his presidency, but he salvaged his natural person. With Trump, a pardon won’t go far enough: he may well be facing the criminal indictment and possible financial ruin of his corporate person, and that would take a far different legal arrangement (such as a settlement or Deferred Prosecution Agreement) to salvage. Now throw in Trump’s narcissism, in which his own identity is inextricably linked to that of his brand. And, even beyond any difference in temperament between Nixon and Trump,  there’s no telling what he’d do if his corporate self were also cornered.

In other words, Trump might not be able to take the Nixon — resign for a pardon — deal, because that may not be enough to save his corporate personhood.

For virtually every other legal situation, it seems to me, existing in both natural and corporate form offers protection that can save both. But if you’re the President of the United States, simultaneously existing — and criminally conspiring — in corporate form may create all sorts of additional exposure any normal President would normally be protected from.

Update, 12/9: I’ve changed the title of this post, in part because comments here and on Twitter have convinced me that Mike Pence could pardon Trump Organization. The central point — that Trump seems to be ignoring the risk to his eponymous businesses — remains.

image_print
122 replies
  1. Charlie says:

    Penultimate para. line 2 : remove ‘he’ because he that may

    Cheers and many thanks for your ‘braininess’ once again!

  2. Willis Warren says:

    https://twitter.com/AndrewCMcCarthy/status/1068943244413812737

    Hack, hack

    https://www.nationalreview.com/2018/12/robert-mueller-plan-trump-russia-investigation-report-not-case/

    No prosecutor builds a case the way Mueller is going about it. What prosecutor says, “Here’s our witness line-up: Michael Flynn, George Papadopoulos, Alex van der Zwaan, Rick Gates, Paul Manafort, Michael Cohen. And what is it that they have in common, ladies and gentlemen of the jury? Bingo! They’re all convicted liars.”?

    • pseudonymous in nc says:

      Shorter Andrew McCarthy: as a former prosecutor, I believe that breaking the law is awesome as long as it benefits Republicans.

      • BobCon says:

        At a certain point, it becomes a slam dunk for prosecutors to argue that hiring liars is the plan, not a defect.

    • Bruce Olsen says:

      I can’t figure out who these guys are talking to. Trumpers don’t read NR and it seems to me anyone who does has the brains to know the entire column is bullshit horseshit (and most NR readers will want Trump to get the hook anyway).

      Is this all mere resume-polishing, directed at whichever candidate emerges from the post-Trump rubble?

      • Jonathan Barker says:

        Tragically, Andy McCarthy is under consideration for AG:

        NBC, November 10: https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/justice-department/ratcliffe-gowdy-join-list-potential-attorney-general-picks-n934616

        Rich Lowry tweets about it, pretending it doesn’t completely undermine the pretense that McCarthy has been writing any of these columns in good faith: https://twitter.com/RichLowry/status/1061401283670786053

         

        He’s been going on FOX a lot more since the report, and after the Corsi/Stone ordeal last week he showed up on  Hannity’s radio show and then on his TV show later that night.

         

        Who knows how seriously his name was being considered, or even whether he’s still under consideration. But I would not be shocked if he ends up getting picked. These “unitary-executive-Mueller-appointment-was-illegal-Trump-can-self-pardon-and-perjury-is-no-big-deal” columns he’s been writing for the last two years over at NRO have basically just been bad-faith attempts to intellectualize FOX-style witch-hunt garbage and/or defend any and all conceivable legal theories on which Trump can do no wrong.

        So it’s hard not to read his recent work as one, long extended audition for the AG position. Oh and wikipedia says he once served as Rudy’s attorney. So I’m sure Rudy thinks he’d make a swell AG.

        • hollywood says:

          In one way it seems Mueller has been going after the low-hanging fruit. Has he now reached a stage where there is a second higher tier of fruit [on the red tree]? Who would this be? Are Corsi and Stone and Assange [he may already have been secretely charged] in this, or are they but bit players? Does the next tier include Don Jr., Ivanka and Jared? Of course, the big kahuna is in the top tier.Meanwhile, what does Pence do about all this? Just hang back and see where the dust settles? Turn on Trump and submit his own name for 2020? Does he resign in disgust like Calhoun did before getting into the Senate? There are moves to be made here. Who will make them and what will they be?

          • BroD says:

            I’d put my money on “Just hang back and see where the dust settles.”   I don’t regard Pence as a cunning tactician.

    • Yohei72 says:

      I would say the comments under that McCarthy tweet are astonishing, if my capacity for astonishment hadn’t been almost obliterated by the past three years.

      “Mueller’s in failure, damage control mode. The house of cards he has been holding up is about to come crashing down around him.”

      My personal favorite: “Andy, I’m not an attrney or pub servant so forgive my ignorance: thought a “special prosecutor’s” task was to investigate specific claims and if appropriate, prosecute; why is he permitted to author some form of narrative report? Smells political and a buffet for liberal media!”

      Where do they GET these people? I thought National Review was supposed to be the journal for intellectual, substantive conservatives, but I’ve never seen any evidence of it.

  3. General Sternwood says:

    Between Citizen’s United and questions about AI, notions like selfhood and personhood are getting complicated these days! Your point about Trump’s ego being constituted in large part by his brand is a real insight, and, in that light, the threat of legal exposure to his corporate self might be more of a lever for prosecutors than to threats to himself or his family. And more of a lever for Russia, too — the most effective kompromat might not be a video from a Russian hotel, but it might be records about financing a Russian hotel, or evidence of oligarch money laundering by the Trump interests in the US.

    • marksb says:

      The malignant narcissist I briefly worked for could not separate himself from his corporation. His identity was so lost in the mix of alternate realities in his head that in the end he could not accurately remember what he’d said and done regarding either, and so was constantly lying/making shit up about both himself and his company to relieve that moment’s pressure. If it wasn’t for the personal abuse he showered on those around him, and his crimes, I would have felt sorry for him, like I would for a homeless guy talking to himself downtown. Instead I documented his crimes and made sure I was there when he was led out in cuffs.

      Trump makes my narcissist look like an angel.

  4. pseudonymous in nc says:

    that would take a far different legal arrangement (such as a settlement or Deferred Prosecution Agreement) to salvage.

    At the same time, the Family Business is not a discrete corporate entity, but instead a Heath Robinson contraption / Rube Goldberg Machine comprised mostly of closely-held LLCs with the occasional Inc and Ltd. The Organization per se has an ambiguous legal status — arguably no legal status — and any legal action against its activities as a kind of central office administering hundreds of entities powered by the fungibility of money would involve laying bare every component part.

    • Peterr says:

      Could Trump be compelled to reveal every component part of his Rube Goldberg operation via a subpoena or other court order?

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      That’s the big conundrum with the Trump Org.  It’s really the Trump Disorganization.  It’s probably composed of hundreds of various legal entities and partnerships.

      The odds that this crew has complied with the essential formalities to maintain their existence and qualifications to do business in the relevant jurisdictions, and that each entity has complete and distinct accounting, financial statements and tax filings are about as good as my winning the big lottery.

    • gad-fly says:

      The Trump Organization, The Trump Companies, The Trump Charity, and The Trump Campaign are by any other name Trump enterprises  headed by Trump and his family involved in unimaginable White Collar Crimes, mostly money laundering, followed by conspiracies to defraud the government to become President and now the ongoing activity in violation of the emoluments clause for personal fame and financial gain. It all smells like racketeering to me Can you say RICO?

  5. BobCon says:

    I think this may be an interesting way of finding out what he values more – his family or his corporation.

    If I were Don Jr., I wouldn’t hold my breath.

    • Raven Eye says:

      Shakespearean:  How many cuts and arrows will the King take for the misdeeds of one of the princes?

    • The Other Darryl says:

      Yeah, but if it’s Ivanka’s long neck on the line we’re in for a show. The one other person in the universe he (narcissistically, admittedly) gives a rat’s bottom about.

  6. Bruce Olsen says:

    So, do you see any clues in Mueller’s publicly-available work that indicates how long he’s been pursuing this as an aspect of his investigation?

    • pseudonymous in nc says:

      Cohen’s first proffer to Mueller was on August 7th, two weeks before his first SDNY deal. That side of the investigation would have been on the radar, but Avenatti and Schneiderman probably (ironically) raised the stakes.

      • emptywheel says:

        My last post assumes that some of the many people described in the April 9 affidavits are Trump Org and Trump Org.

        So by April 9 at the latest, it seems.

        • Avattoir says:

          Org #2 = Foundation?

          (Trump Org promises to outdo Asimov:

          Prelude to Trump Org: Thanks, Dad!

          Forward to Trump Org: Me & Roy

          Trump Org: 1 for Me, 2 for Me …

          Trump Org & Empire: Yoah Fie-ud

          New Trump Org: Towers-arama!

          Trump Org’s Edge: Lock. Her. Up.

          Trump Org & 6’2″ Under Earth

          —-

          FWIW, I’ve been involved in a few cases that involved unwinding essentially sole-individual-directed nominally family-directed corporate mazes. The most complex involved a parallel mazes conjoined in what was purported as a trust, but in reality was only explicable from the contents of a folder in a nondescript filing cabinet on a Grand-iose island. Each maze engaged over 4 dozen corporate entities & at least one not-for-profit. That one took a team of forensic accountants over 6 months to unravel, even without the other side’s actively misleading (so far as we could see).

          I recall reading, back well before the 2016 election, credible reports of there being something like 400 such entities somewhere under the umbrella of the Trump Org.

          I won’t hazard a guess on whether unraveling the Enron insolvency, from bankruptcy declaration in Dec 2001, to final disposition of the last valuable asset nearly 5 years & over a thousand accountants later, but maybe it could be a benchmark.

          IOW, getting a handle on this could take a while – especially given so much in the way of historical precedents of bad faith from this particular mob family in such circumstances, that to dismiss just wouldn’t be prudent.

  7. new-radical says:

    The emoluments clause and other issues – not releasing tax returns – might possibly have been misunderstood as an opportunity for the President simply to game the system for his own benefit.

    But they serve a two-way protection if enforced, the President is also protected. Is it his hubris that prevented him from understanding that he probably needed that protection given the dirty Russian money that the Trump Organisation has been laundering for decades?

    Just another example of the “like real genius, believe me” demonstrating that he is a moron who surrounds himself with sycophants and thinks nothing through.

  8. Sup Bro? says:

    For one, they haven’t been mentioned in any of the filings.

    For two, the only thing DJT really, truly loves is his money.

  9. Peterr says:

    In other words, Trump might not be able to take the Nixon — resign for a pardon — deal, because that may not be enough to save his corporate personhood.

    Taking down significant parts of the Trump organization would be “to the pain” for Trump. Of course he’d suffer financially from losing the organization. But somewhere along the way, someone in the prosecution’s offices would produce a balance sheet and a forensic audit of the whole thing. Imagine the pain Trump would suffer if/when it was revealed that he wasn’t ever that rich to begin with.

    And then “Dear God, what is that thing . . . ?” would echo in Trump’s fantastic ears for a long, long time.

    • Kick the darkness says:

      Right.  Has anyone heard anything regarding Allen Weisselberg since like the middle of August?   “Witch hunt.  You keep using that word.  I do not think it means what you think it means”.

      • Mitch Guthman says:

        He was supposedly immunized by the SDNY so that he would be available to testify against Cohen.  Given that Trump appears to have been committing federal crimes (chiefly money laundering) for decades in the SDNY with total impunity, the question must be asked whether Weisselberg was immunized so that he could testify against Trump or was he immunized to make sure that he wouldn’t.

  10. BobCon says:

    I suspect in the back of Trump’s mind is the thought that if he could come back from the Atlantic City debacles by shaming his daddy into bailing him out, he can do the same with one of his new pals.

    Could he dump his current properties and convince, say, the owners of Hobby Lobby to front money for Trump branded water parks in 2021? Would the owners of Chick-fil-A back Trump nutritional supplements? Could we see De Vos funding a new incarnation of Trump University? Maybe.

    • Trip says:

      Right now, it seems to me, Trump’s brand doing okay, at anything at all, relies upon him being the president. The increase in hotel visits from foreign diplomats, the MAGA hats and trinkets, etc., it’s all predicated on his power.

      He can’t even stick to a well formed consistent conspiracy theory long enough to be effective as a new Alex Jones, or to have his own show on Fox News, or something like that. He screws everyone over, has few (real) friends outside of family, so who would stick their neck out to help him finance something once it’s over?

      • BobCon says:

        I think there is some value in being a martyr. Prosperity gospel minions eat that stuff up, especially if there is a followup narrative of redemption.

        So I could absolutely see someone like DeVos, whose wealth is built on a religion-tinged pyramid scheme, throwing a yacht’s worth of money at him, being good for her own personal brand as well.

        For that matter, I bet Putin would see some value to setting up a partnership with an oligarch in exchange for a series of intense debriefings. There is bound to be useful information he could share once out of office that it is inconvenient for him to hand over right now. I wonder, in fact, what steps the intelligence community are taking now to minimize the damage he could do once he’s out of office.

        • Trip says:

          Maybe Putin. But I’m thinking he has already wrung Trump dry.

          I don’t see DeVos in it. Trump was/is a useful tool for the American oligarchs, until he isn’t. He was never first choice. They would want distance.

          Maybe he could set up an old ranch like Charlie Manson, and bring the cult along with him./s

          • emptywheel says:

            As I always do, I’d distinguish between Betsy and Dick, who are Koch billionaires, and so would be perfectly happy to have Pence running the show, and Erik Prince, who was a true believer and early enforcer.

            That said, I discovered last night he’s no longer repped by Victoria Toensing, so maybe he flipped to get out of his Seychelles lies.

            • Trip says:

              I think of Erik as more of a (Cheney) neocon military mercenary redux. I realize he was in early and all aboard with Flynn, but then again, you have people like McGahn who latched on early too (who I highly doubt was a true believer). I think sometimes it’s just sheer opportunism.

        • Peterr says:

          Actually, prosperity gospel minions DON’T eat that stuff up, absent a redemption. You lose your fortune, it just shows that you didn’t deserve it in the first place.

          And yes, the IC has got to be worried about the post-Trump landscape, whenever and however that comes about. The phrase “change your passwords” comes immediately to mind, which only scratches the surface.

          Until that happens, though, the IC has got to be worried about simply doing their job right now. Any high-level intelligence asset worth anything is likely assessing — and reassessing on a daily basis — the extent to which they want to work with the US IC. “How much will Trump personally learn about me, or what might he reveal to show how important he is that would put my life in jeopardy?” Our spy handlers can give all the assurances in the world, but watching Trump self-destruct on television and twitter has to make all these assets very very nervous.

          • Trip says:

            Yeah, he was just threatening to release classified docs on Dems the other day. Who knows WTH he means by that.

        • JD12 says:

          Guys like Ollie North and G Gordon Liddy have done alright. Trump’s circumstances are different, but he’ll still have opportunities. Republicans think financial crimes are victim-less crimes anyway.

          His ego will take a hit but his lifestyle shouldn’t change much. It’s mostly subsidized by others to begin with, but since Trump Tower has his name on it and he “owns” Mar-a-Lago it doesn’t look like it. (I’m not sure if they risk being forfeited, but if they are I’m assuming some friends will buy them.)

  11. Bloix says:

    “The Trump Organization” is not a legal entity. Unusually for an organization of its size, it is an informal collection of corporations and other legal entities (like LLCs) that are under the common ownership (in whole or part) or control (again, entirely or shared) of Donald Trump. The absence of a holding company and the centralization of control in a single human being (with no officers or directors) has certain benefits to an owner who wants to hide what his enterprises are doing from the public, his associates, and the government.
    The entity that signed the letter of intent for the Moscow project was “Trump Acquisition LLC.” Presumably this is an entity controlled by Trump personally but more than that – who has investment or ownership interests – I have no idea.

    • arbusto says:

      Seems to me Trump has a slap-dash approach to corporate law and if Cohen is representative of his business lawyers he’s in deeper shit.  Wonder how easy the corporate veil can be obliterated in his various companies.

  12. Rapier says:

    RE: the Family Business is not a discrete corporate entity, but instead a Heath Robinson contraption / Rube Goldberg Machine

    That’s aside from the difficult problems of making any criminal charges against corporations, and winning, and then finally winning on appeals to higher courts.

    • emptywheel says:

      I technically think he could pardon the Federal stuff. That would be perilously close to a self-pardon though.

      • BobCon says:

        I think from a practical standpoint a pardon doesn’t necessarily fix his problems.

        If the business is inherently unstable — for example they’re based on fraudulent assessments of property, bogus income statements, tax cheating, etc. — then eliminating past criminal liability doesn’t make them viable businesses, especially if backers disappear to avoid connection to his crimes.

        He still has to make them work financially or face collapse, and given the potentially incredibly tangled nature, he may quickly find himself involved again in fraudulent activity.

        • Michael says:

          “[…] fraudulent assessments of property […] tax cheating […]”

          The mention of possible creative value assessment, especially WRT tax matters, takes me back to a study …… Donald J. Trump State Park. ADD Executive Summary: Buy ~450 UNDEVELOPED acres for $2M; ~10 years later, give it to the town; appraise the still-UNDEVELOPED acres for $100M, and take a tax write-off. That was my first lesson in Trump Modus. Like they say, “You never forget your first”.

          That’s the assessment/tax stuff. There is much more to this seedy affair.
          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donald_J._Trump_State_Park

  13. Tom R. says:

    Why could Pence not pardon the corporation? According to article II section 2, the pardon power extends to “all” offenses against the United States. If you want to argue that it is somehow limited to natural persons, go ahead, but it would be nice to see something more than an implicit assumption.

  14. Alias says:

    1. The pardon power applies to offenses against the US. Trump or Pence could pardon the corporation and foundation.
    2. The deal would be structured more like it was with Agnew, not Nixon. A conversation could be had before any charges, telling the president the sealed charges are about to be unsealed unless he resigns now. If he signs the paper, the charges will be dismissed.

  15. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Trump is effectively still running the family businesses. His sons – the apples of his eye, to whom he claims to have delegated the task of running those businesses (as with Matt Whitaker’s appointment, has anyone seen the paperwork?) – seem as untrustworthy and untalented as the tree they fell from.

    Moreover, neither Trump nor his progeny have shown the slightest familiarity with or respect for mandatory corporate formalities. Those are required to keep a legal entity in existence.

    Failure to attend to them leads to disregarding the legal entity, which makes the human principals in those organizations personally liable. That would amount to a blow no Trump would financially survive.

    Consequently, Trump would be mightily obsessed with defending the Trump Org and the Trump Foundation himself. He is the Greatest. That would deprive the people of the quality executive time – tweeting, watching tv, sleeping, eating McDs – Mr. Trump now allots them. That adverse outcome is the basis for concluding that a sitting president “cannot” be indicted.

    For Trump to make that argument, however, he would have to admit that he’s still running his businesses. He should be properly loathe to do that. Hoist, meet petard.

  16. Yellow_dog says:

    A few thoughts – what is a greater pressure point for Rump: His children being indicted/ sent to prison or his nasty business laundry out on the global clothesline for the world (or more important investors) to see?

    Everyone has a weakness. Having followed this since before the election AND knowing people involved in financing (or more accurately NOT financing) a Rump endeavor (or any business involved with Rump) – I’m curious as to the Achilles Heel?

    Rump never wanted to be president. He only wanted to elevate the brand. If Mueller finds the right pressure point – hell, if the GOP finds the right pressure point, he will resign and then we have Pence.

  17. earlofhuntingdon says:

    It seems a good bet that the Trump Disorganization would not survive any serious legal scrutiny.  Hence, the ‘red line’ argument advanced by access journalists.  It’s bogus, of course, because Trump’s personal businesses are exactly where he would hide financial and election crimes.

    I agree that Trump’s sense of self is inextricably bound up with the hundreds of entities that bear his name.  He uses them as piggy banks of convenience.  In the aggregate, they constitute the value he claims to be worth.  That’s bogus, too.

    Trump would do anything to avoid realizing that.  Nothing about him would survive the tumbling of that house of cards.  Mueller knows that, too.  We’re in for rough seas ahead.

    • skua says:

      SCHMIDT: Last thing, if Mueller was looking at your finances and your family finances, unrelated to Russia — is that a red line?
      HABERMAN: Would that be a breach of what his actual charge is?
      TRUMP: I would say yeah. I would say yes. By the way, I would say, I don’t — I don’t — I mean, it’s possible there’s a condo or something, so, you know, I sell a lot of condo units, and somebody from Russia buys a condo, who knows?…

      SCHMIDT: But if he was outside that lane, would that mean he’d have to go?
      [crosstalk]
      HABERMAN: Would you consider——
      TRUMP: No, I think that’s a violation. Look, this is about Russia. So I think if he wants to go, my finances are extremely good, my company is an unbelievably successful company. …
      https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/19/us/politics/trump-interview-transcript.html

      Notice that Trump starts to make excuses about Russians having bought Trump condos.
      Trump takes Schmidt’s question, which assumes that Trump’s finances are unrelated to Russia, and says that property deals with Russians would not be indicative of legal issues or be anything that Mueller should be looking at.

      (This interview also features Trump whining about how he was fooled by Sessions into giving him the AG position.)

    • new-radical says:

      Just keep going for him.

      His whole world is a charade, he has no money, only debt and power.

      Fuck him, over and over again, as he has done to others, never give in, never surrender.

      You lawyers! use the power that only you have – go for him.

      Keep him tied up in the courts until he suffocates!

      Best wishes Simplicio.

  18. Jenny says:

    Mike Pence. A VP who has been hooked at the Groper in Chief’s hip since day one.

    He was suggested to be VP my Manafort. Who is in jail. Pence said Flynn lied to him and claims he knows nothing about the Russian probe. Did Flynn really lie to Pence or is there something more? Cover up?

    Pence has been, like a butler, I find it hard to believe he has no knowledge of the Trump, Flynn and the Russian communications.

    Skeptical of Pence being Mr. Clean for the last 2 years. Perhaps Mueller has proof to be exposed. Anything is possible … more to be revealed …

  19. Valley girl says:

    Following on from pinc @ 4:03- As far as I can tell from my quick googling,  pinc makes a key point.  And he’s a VERY trustworthy commentator here.

    It was as a result of his comment that I went off to google “Trump Organization”.

    From wiki

    ~Around 1973, Donald began referring to the business, which had previously had no single formal name, as the Trump Organization.~

    Also see the “Trump Organization” site-

    https://www.trump.com/the-trump-organization/

    If you go to the site, you will be able to find the Trump properties.  And note, at the very bottom, Copyright © 2018 The Trump Organization

    So, to my untutored eyes, I see no evidence that “The Trump Organization” is a legal entity in and of itself.  Exactly as pinc said.  Well, the name may be copyrighted, but that’s it.  I offer this FWIW.

     

     

     

     

    • Valley girl says:

      Just saw pinc’s comment at 5:47.  I need to go read links. Read first link.

      So how did Trump Org become a corporation? Halp

    • Michael says:

      “Copyright © 2018 The Trump Organization”

      I’m not gonna visit that Rump web site you mentioned, so I don’t know how the quoted copyright is used there. BUT … I bet a dollar to a donut that the copyright is claimed for that/those web pages.

  20. Strawberry Fields says:

    Mueller got $40+ million from Manafort.. Wouldn’t it be great if at the end of the investigation, he’s earned a couple hundred million from Trump Org.

  21. Wotadog says:

    After trump resigns/pardoned/gone is there anything to stop him set up a trump cable TV site? Funded by his MAGA cultists (initially). It would be the ultimate fake news site with Trump using it to defend his actions/court cases. News readers wearing bikinis. And the mandatory Trump beauty contest, plus pro gun opinionators, Steve Bannon pro fascism. Tell me this can’t happen?

  22. Neil Sagan says:

    A while back NBC reported that a whistleblower said NSA Mike Flynn gave notice of Trump admin’s intent to pay election debt within 11 minutes of Trump being sworn in. Was Sater and Cohen’s subsequent work on Ukrainian peace deal the predicate to dropping sanctions? https://t.co/QtRt0xsZew

  23. JB says:

    Is Mueller waiting for anything at this point, and if so what? To read the House Intelligence testimony? For information he has already discovered to be made public? The drafting of a subpoena for comma between Manaforts lawyers and White House staff? I think he is waiting for something and would like to read speculation as to what.

    • JD12 says:

      If he’s waiting for anything, it might make sense to wait for Dems to take the House officially. Republicans have obviously been acting in bad faith, leaking some stuff out of context and burying the rest. Plus if Trump tries to do something crazy they can issue subpoenas and hold public hearings.

  24. John Casper says:

    In case anyone cares to speculate, when Trump figures out that Pence has little or no value to him in protecting his empire, will the Donald be more likely “flip” on Mike to secure reduced sentences for himself or his kids?

     

    Of course that would contradict his previous position. https://www.cnn.com/2018/08/23/politics/trump-flipping-outlawed/index.html

    • BobCon says:

      I have no idea if he would try to turn on Pence, or if he even has grounds to rat on him. However, I have little doubt that during his days as a developer and casino operator that he dished out information to law enforcement from time to time. I suspect it’s standard operating procedure in those businesses if you want to stay out of prison yourself, and get a leg up on the competition too.

  25. Taxidermist says:

    @ Bruce 4:07PM: So, do you see any clues in Mueller’s publicly-available work that indicates how long he’s been pursuing this as an aspect of his investigation?

    A January 2011 Robert Mueller speech titled: The Iron Triangle of Organized Criminals, Corrupt Government Officials & Business Leaders Who Pose a National Security Threat, may be a good place to start.

  26. Rusharuse says:

    @taxidermist – good call! Mueller\FBI must have quite a file on things Trump.

    “These groups may infiltrate our businesses. They may provide logistical support to hostile foreign powers. They may try to manipulate those at the highest levels of government. Indeed, these so-called “iron triangles” of organized criminals, corrupt government officials, and business leaders pose a significant national security threat.”

    https://archives.fbi.gov/archives/news/speeches/the-evolving-organized-crime-threat

  27. Frank Bennett says:

    I recently did an archival dive into a 1960s scandal in Japan involving a mobbed-up real estate developer-turned-politician who was indicted for financial fraud (forging promissory notes, among other things). Prosecutors separately opted not to pursue a charge of embezzlement of payments on a large government contract because, by their account, the books of the firm were such a mess that nothing could be proven from them.

    The pol concerned remained in the Diet, but Tokyo prosecutors raided his offices 20 years later (when he held a cabinet post under Nakasone) and he was convicted of tax evasion. The conservative Yomiuri newspaper saw him of with a snarky headline calling him “The mini-Kakuei.” (For Kakuei Tanaka of Lockheed scandal fame.)

    From that story I learned that (1) political power is an effective shield in the short term; and (2) professional bureaucracies with institutional memory matter a great deal.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      There are significant cultural differences between the US and Japan that make comparison difficult.

      Domestic Japanese politics of the period were incredibly complex.  Not just routine forms of party corruption, but intricate acts of self-dealing and self-enrichment, and significant involvement of organized crime and American intelligence agencies.

      A decision not to pursue or to delay a prosecution could have been based on a host of reasons, many opaque inside Japan, let alone when viewed from abroad.  Some of Barry Eisler’s fiction is built around this.  His portrayals are accurate.  If anything, he understates for purposes of his fiction – his knowledge is another matter – the complex interactions among intensely competing groups.

      In your example, the target’s books might have been a mess.  His relationship network might have also included actors who would not have welcomed exposing even a portion of their doings to public scrutiny via a court proceeding.  I could not agree more with your observation that professional bureaucracies, with long institutional memories, are an important part of government.

      • Frank Bennett says:

        It’s a loose comparison, for sure, but a familiar story. The contemporary phrase for complex corruption in the era was “black mist” (黒い霧 – no relation to the “black rain” of Hollywood fame) – scandals so thick that one bleeds into another.

        Suspending prosecution (起訴猶予 in the lingo) is a common and perfectly above-board practice in criminal proceedings in Japan. What stood out about this case was that unusual element in the prosecutors’ public statement. Word at the time was that prosecutors generally sought “balance” by indicting “across the aisle” in political corruption cases. This one involved fraud in a set of firms exclusively owned by a member of the leading party. One read would be that it just didn’t fit the contemporary MOJ grid for political cases. Another would be that political pressure to quash the case was particularly intense b/c “bias.”

        Organized crime was certainly involved in moving money around, but cloak-and-dagger stuff isn’t necessary to explain the outcome. I haven’t read any of Barry Eisler’s novels; the story above was derived from Diet committee transcripts, policy papers on the real estate trade, and contemporary newspaper reports.

        One interesting thing that emerged from the trawl was that it was the conservative national paper (読売新聞) that pursued the story most aggressively, probably because their middle-class readership were more likely to be affected by sharp dealing in real estate. So probably the largest difference from the Trump fiasco is that the American doesn’t deal in properties for little people – which is a cultural difference, of sorts (!).

  28. Jockobadger says:

    Donald Trump and all the eponymous cos., llc’s, etc., have been funded in one way or another with Russian or Saudi money. Either through DB, or similar, or through condo sales.

    Mueller knows it and either has or will have the evidence. Whether Trump pardons himself, the epony’s, or minions, in the end doesn’t matter bc it’s going to be so obvious that Putin, et al have pulled off the greatest intelligence/security heist that we may never recover. We were once the foundation of western power/security.

  29. oldoilfieldhand says:

    Re Andy McCarthy: As in redundancy from Andy McCarthy:

    If the most memorable thing the jury takes into the deliberation room is that no one should believe a word your witnesses say, you are not going to convict the lowliest grifter, much less the president of the United States of America.

    The prnesindebt of the United States is the lowliest grifter. Who knew?

     

    • J Barker says:

      This is an instance of a larger a pattern in McCarthy’s writing on Trump-Russia that I find completely baffling.

      The pattern is:

      (1) Argue from Silence: with each new indictment or court filing from the Mueller probe, simply presuppose with *complete and unshakable confidence* that (a) what’s in the indictment/filing represents literally every piece of evidence prosecutors currently have on the topic and (b) that Mueller’s team is closing up shop, like, tomorrow, and so there’s no what’s being made public represents only the initial stages of an ongoing investigation.

      (2) Ignore Inconvenient Facts: When reliable news outlets uncover some damning facts on the topic that Mueller hasn’t yet publicly commented on, or when you, as a former prosecutor, see *exactly* how the public evidence could indeed add up to a conspiracy case, just ignore it all and pretend like you haven’t read any relevant reporting and have completely forgotten how criminal conspiracies work.

       

      In this case, McCarthy acts as if Mueller plans to bring criminal conspiracy charges before the grand jury like, say, Tuesday of next week, and that he’ll just present the public evidence that Cohen, Manafort, Stone, Corsi, etc. all lied to prosecutors but present *no other evidence of any criminal wrongdoing at all.* That’s his argument from silence stage. Wait for the next round of revelations, when Mueller makes some of his evidence of their criminal behavior public, and you’ll see McCarthy switch to his Ignore Inconvenient Facts stage.

       

      Stage Three will be to defend some insane legal view according to which the relevant behavior is “icky” rather than criminal.

       

      Stage Four will be to admit criminality but repeat stages 1-3 with regard to Trump’s involvement.

       

       

      • Trip says:

        I think this has been the Fox News/GOP narrative for a while. And with the prosecutors as analysts, who pretend that they are completely oblivious to defendants pleading to lower charges (instead of the full extent of involvement, for cooperation), they never consider (publicly at least) that there’s more there there, instead of people simply lying to the FBI or congress, it’s so disingenuous. It takes a giant suspension of disbelief to imagine that this is beyond their comprehension. The analysts never contemplate WHY the damned people are lying to begin with, in their bloviation declaring innocence for Trump, Inc.

  30. KayInMD says:

    The Jaworski filing notes how critical it is to identify the president as one of the criminal accused: “the identification of each co-conspirator — regardless of station — is a prerequisite to making his declarations in furtherance of the conspiracy admissible against the other conspirators.”

    If the above is true, and Devin Nunez conspired with the White House et al to obstruct justice by covering up evidence of the Russian conspiracy to elect Trump, he and his crimes would have to be named. Right? Even if he has immunity via the Speech or Debate Clause? I mean, I would like to see him face legal consequences, but I’m willing to settle for naming and shaming in his case, just because he is such a hapless boob.

  31. Tom says:

    Re:  The above discussion of the Trump Organization and its website, if you go to the website and check out the “Connect With Us” section, it states that the “Trump family” doesn’t accept “ANY” emails or any unsolicited phone calls.    The only way for outsiders to connect with them is by correspondence to a mailing address.     I know little about the world of big business and high finance but this seems a little odd for an organization operating in the early 21st century.   Also, if you look at their “In the News” section, you will see there have been no updates on their business operations (mainly puff pieces on their hotels and golf courses) since July 2017 though there are frequent entries up until that date.    Not sure how significant this is but it looks a little unprofessional not to keep this part of the website updated, unless the Trumps don’t want to draw additional attention to DJT’s continuing  business ventures now that he’s President (though the kids are supposed to be minding the store, aren’t they?)

  32. bmaz says:

    Blow’s article is titled “What Happens If….”

    What happens if we already know all that  and people at major newspapers are still asking the question like we don’t know yet? What then?

  33. notjonathon says:

    I mentioned over at the Great Orange Satan that Rod Rosenstein may have a way to sideline Matthew Whitaker from the Mueller investigation. It’s the Stercorventi theory. Scenario:

    Mr. Acting AG, may I have a word with you?

    Matt, I’d like to fill you in a little bit on the Mueller investigation, as I know you’re interested in the outcome. Here’s where we are now–the most enormous pile of dung ever amassed in one place is soon going to collide with the most gigantic wind machine ever constructed. I’d advise you not to stand downwind when the shit hits the fan, because the only credible outcome is that you’ll be buried in feces.

  34. Drew OH says:

    This has been my stance all along, Trump “might be” able to engineer a situation where he can’t be indicted (note the newly installed SCOTUS placements) but him as a corporate entity is another matter; whether Federal or State charges. He chose to stay tied to his businesses, this may ultimately be his own undoing…

    As for his crew, Javanka, Jr and Eric; they’re toast in their own right and share none of these theoretical protections and you know NY, VA and probably FL are warming up the state charges for when Mueller says “…it’s go time…”

    And here’s another one for you, what will the UK/Scotland do about the BS properties the Russian’s bought for Trump? Are Scotland Yard/MI5 sitting on indictments waiting for Mueller to say go ahead? This was all fishy a few years ago, the soured UK relationship can’t have helped their legal review of what took place with Aberdeen, where the “King of Debt” all the sudden came up with $160 million in cash, etc. I think there’s a whole thread to pull there too…

  35. Hops says:

    Speaking of “newly installed SCOTUS placements” if a case involving Trump reaches SCOTUS, would such justices recuse themselves by virtue of having been nominated by said Trump?

    That would be interesting…

     

Comments are closed.