Digby's Hullabaloo
2801 Ocean Park Blvd.
Box 157
Santa Monica, Ca 90405

Facebook: Digby Parton

@BloggersRUs (Tom Sullivan)

thedigbyblog at gmail
satniteflix at gmail
publius.gaius at gmail
tpostsully at gmail
Spockosbrain at gmail
Richardein at me.com


Mother Jones
Raw Story
Huffington Post
Crooks and Liars
American Prospect
New Republic

Denofcinema.com: Saturday Night at the Movies by Dennis Hartley review archive

January 2003 February 2003 March 2003 April 2003 May 2003 June 2003 July 2003 August 2003 September 2003 October 2003 November 2003 December 2003 January 2004 February 2004 March 2004 April 2004 May 2004 June 2004 July 2004 August 2004 September 2004 October 2004 November 2004 December 2004 January 2005 February 2005 March 2005 April 2005 May 2005 June 2005 July 2005 August 2005 September 2005 October 2005 November 2005 December 2005 January 2006 February 2006 March 2006 April 2006 May 2006 June 2006 July 2006 August 2006 September 2006 October 2006 November 2006 December 2006 January 2007 February 2007 March 2007 April 2007 May 2007 June 2007 July 2007 August 2007 September 2007 October 2007 November 2007 December 2007 January 2008 February 2008 March 2008 April 2008 May 2008 June 2008 July 2008 August 2008 September 2008 October 2008 November 2008 December 2008 January 2009 February 2009 March 2009 April 2009 May 2009 June 2009 July 2009 August 2009 September 2009 October 2009 November 2009 December 2009 January 2010 February 2010 March 2010 April 2010 May 2010 June 2010 July 2010 August 2010 September 2010 October 2010 November 2010 December 2010 January 2011 February 2011 March 2011 April 2011 May 2011 June 2011 July 2011 August 2011 September 2011 October 2011 November 2011 December 2011 January 2012 February 2012 March 2012 April 2012 May 2012 June 2012 July 2012 August 2012 September 2012 October 2012 November 2012 December 2012 January 2013 February 2013 March 2013 April 2013 May 2013 June 2013 July 2013 August 2013 September 2013 October 2013 November 2013 December 2013 January 2014 February 2014 March 2014 April 2014 May 2014 June 2014 July 2014 August 2014 September 2014 October 2014 November 2014 December 2014 January 2015 February 2015 March 2015 April 2015 May 2015 June 2015 July 2015 August 2015 September 2015 October 2015 November 2015 December 2015 January 2016 February 2016 March 2016 April 2016 May 2016 June 2016 July 2016 August 2016 September 2016 October 2016 November 2016 December 2016 January 2017 February 2017 March 2017 April 2017 May 2017 June 2017 July 2017 August 2017 September 2017 October 2017 November 2017 December 2017 January 2018 February 2018 March 2018 April 2018 May 2018 June 2018 July 2018 August 2018 September 2018 October 2018 November 2018 December 2018 January 2019 February 2019 March 2019 April 2019 May 2019 June 2019 July 2019 August 2019


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?


Friday, February 08, 2019

That SDNY investigation is que RICO

by digby

This Daily Beast piece by former prosecutor Barbara McQuade about the SDNY investigation's contours and what they may indicate about the case is fascinating. I am far from an expert but from what I read it certainly seems as if we are dealing with some kind of complex conspiracy case:
Referring to a cooperator as a “rat,” President Trump sometimes sounds like a mob boss. He may ultimately be prosecuted like one, too.

While some reports say that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation is winding down, it appears that another investigation is just gearing up. According to reports in The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times, a grand jury in the Southern District of New York recently issued a subpoena to the Trump inaugural committee, seeking documents relating to donors and spending. According to reports, the subpoena indicates that prosecutors are investigating conspiracy against the United States, false statements, mail fraud, wire fraud, money laundering and violations of campaign finance and inaugural committee laws. In addition, CNN has reported that federal prosecutors in Manhattan have expressed interest in interviewing executives from the Trump Organization.

It is impossible to know exactly what the federal prosecutors in Manhattan are investigating, but the wide array of crimes brings to mind a case that was prosecuted in Detroit when I served as U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan. Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and several of his associates were convicted under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, also known as RICO.
Kilpatrick was convicted at trial based on a great deal of evidence: the testimony of witnesses, bank records, business documents and text messages that corroborated the witness testimony. In SDNY’s investigation into the Trump inaugural committee and the Trump Organization, the evidence is unknown, and it may be that the investigation yields no charges. But it is not a stretch to think that the prosecutors are at least considering whether they can prove the type of enterprise and pattern of predicate acts that would amount to a RICO charge.

I have been asked before about whether the special counsel’s investigation could result in RICO charges, and I have thought that RICO was a bridge too far. Mueller’s investigation may yet uncover a conspiracy with Russia or WikiLeaks or obstruction of justice, but election interference does not seem to encompass the ongoing pattern of disparate crimes that RICO was intended to capture. Now that the Trump inaugural committee or the Trump Organization may be targets of SDNY’s investigation, however, the theory does not seem so far-fetched. Either one of those Trump entities could potentially be considered an “enterprise” for purposes of a RICO charge, if the evidence supported it. So, too, could a collection of Trump and his associates be considered an association, in fact, just as Kilpatrick and his associates formed the Kilpatrick Enterprise. The types of crimes that are being investigated–mail fraud, wire fraud, money laundering–are all crimes listed in the RICO statute as eligible predicate offenses that can constitute a pattern of racketeering activity.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York seems particularly well-situated to investigate a RICO case here. It has a strong history of using RICO with great success. In the 1980s, when the office was led by Rudolph Giuliani, prosecutors used RICO prosecutions to take down organized crime families. SDNY reportedly has entered into an immunity deal with Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg, someone who is well-positioned to provide valuable information to prosecutors about any illegal financial transactions. SDNY has already convicted former Trump Organization attorney Michael Cohen of tax offenses, fraud, false statements and campaign finance violations, the last of which Cohen has said he committed at Trump’s direction. And, although he has fallen short of earning a formal cooperation agreement, Cohen has met with SDNY prosecutors to share information.

The search of Cohen’s home and office reportedly turned up a recording of some of his conversations, including one with Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, who worked as a consultant on the inauguration. The Wall Street Journal has reported that, in the recording, Wolkoff expressed concern about how the inaugural committee was spending the record $107 million it had raised. Richard Gates, who has pleaded guilty in the Mueller probe, has also reportedly met with SDNY prosecutors. The Journal reported that as deputy chairman of the Trump inaugural committee, Gates asked vendors to accept payments directly from donors, a curious request that likely will draw the scrutiny of prosecutors at least in part because entities that bring in and distribute money can be used as vehicles for money laundering, a crime that may constitute a RICO racketeering predicate.

Even if SDNY follows the Justice Department policy that a sitting president cannot be indicted, nothing prohibits the Trump Organization or Trump’s associates from being indicted. In addition, even if a sitting president cannot be indicted, a former president can be. Under the statute of limitations, a RICO conspiracy may be charged up to five years after its last predicate racketeering act is committed. If any predicate act was committed on or after Jan. 20, 2016, the statute of limitations would not preclude an indictment from being filed on Jan. 20, 2021, the moment a president is sworn in, so long as that president is not Donald Trump.

I will never stop being astonished that Trump was so narcissistic that he actually believed he could run for president of United States without exposing his entire life as a businessman to the most intense scrutiny possible. He seems to have assumed that he could control it by appointing a "Roy Cohn" or that he could finesse it with bullshit.

I'm reminded of a revealing comment he made during the fall campaign at one of his rallies:
"A blue wave would equal a crime wave, very simple," Trump told the crowd at his second rally of the day, in Indianapolis. "And a red wave equals jobs and security."

“It could happen, could happen," Trump told the crowd of rally-goers in a Huntington airport hangar, with Air Force One in the background. "We are doing very well, and we are doing really well in the Senate, but it could happen.”

But if it did, said Trump, he'd be okay. "And you know what you do? My whole life, you know what I say? 'Don’t worry about it, I’ll just figure it out.' Does that make sense? I’ll just figure it out," he said.

He's been dancing on the head of a pin his entire adult life, tempting fate and always barely escaping catastrophe. He's not the brightest bulb and he just assumed he'd get through this the same way. And maybe he will. He's certainly a lucky guy. But he's never faced the full force of the federal government bearing down on him before and it all is finally be catching up to him.