According to a report from NBC/New York, plans to raid the home of former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani languished for months in the Justice Department and only came about due to new leadership under President Joe Biden.
On Thursday, the home and office of Giuliani was the subject of a raid with federal agents “collecting phones and computers as part of their probe into whether he broke U.S. lobbying laws by failing to register as a foreign agent related to his work,” the report states.
Those plans had been on hold dating back to the Trump Administration when the Justice Department was headed by Attorney General Bill Barr.
Under the Biden administration — and in particular under newly appointed Attorney General Merrick Garland — the Justice Department is dusting off the files and proceeding with multiple investigations that had stalled out.
According to NBC, “It’s not clear exactly why Justice Department officials chose this particular moment to strike, but it wasn’t out of character for the agency under new Attorney General Merrick Garland. The move was just one in a series of headline-making decisions by a department moving quickly to assert itself in investigations and policy setting,” adding, “The FBI action in New York on Wednesday was especially notable both because of the high-profile nature of the Giuliani investigation and because of the vigorous debate the search warrant question had produced inside the Trump-era Justice Department.”
The report goes on to note that prosecutors were set to go after Giuliani — who had been giving legal advice to former president Donald Trump — last fall but there was infighting within the U.S. Attorneys’ office over the political implications with an election on the horizon.
According to NBC, any dissent about going after Giuliani was pushed aside under the new leadership.
“Prosecutors in New York wanted last fall to serve a warrant on Giuliani as part of an investigation into whether he had failed to register as a foreign agent over his dealings with Ukrainian officials. But that request was rebuffed by officials in the deputy attorney general’s office in Washington. In a dispute over investigative tactics, they raised concerns both before and after the election and did not sign off on a warrant, multiple people familiar with the matter have said,” the report states. “A new leadership team under Garland apparently reached a different conclusion, though it is not clear on what grounds. The new deputy attorney general, Lisa Monaco, and John Carlin, her top deputy, have both previously led the department’s national security division — which is responsible for enforcing the Foreign Agents Registration Act, or FARA — and will presumably be engaged in the investigation as it moves forward.”
The report goes on to note that, under Garland, multiple investigations are moving into high gear “including a tax probe into President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, and a investigation into potential sex trafficking and public corruption by Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz.”
You can read more here.
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‘Next Chapter?’ Manhattan DA Signals Trump Himself Might Finally Land Under Indictment
Manhattan district attorney Alvin Bragg may finally have changed his mind about indicting former president Donald Trump.
The recent conviction of the Trump Organization and its chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg gave a glimpse of evidence that could tie the ex-president directly to the tax fraud scheme, such as a memo he signed approving chief operating officer Matthew Calamari’s illegal request to reduce his taxed salary to cover the cost of his untaxed corporate apartment, reported The Daily Beast.
“We now move on to the next chapter,” Bragg said last week after the company was ordered to pay $1.6 million in penalties for tax fraud.
Trump already asserted under oath in another case in 2021 that he personally oversaw Calimari’s compensation, and prosecutors have checks he signed to cover tuition at a private school for Weisselberg’s grandchildren, whose mother Jennifer Weisselberg has repeatedly told investigators she personally heard Trump discuss the scheme to artificially lower taxed salaries for his executives.
“This case has tentacles,” said Duncan Levin, a former prosecutor who now represents Jennifer Weisselberg and has been communicating with investigators.
The district attorney’s office declined to comment on what Bragg meant about another chapter, but former prosecutors from that office say their experience leads them to believe prosecutors will go after Trump.
“For people who want a certain outcome — to go after Trump — it gives hope,” said Catherine A. Christian, a former assistant district attorney who investigated financial fraud. “They’re going to be thorough. I’m doubtful he would have said ‘next chapter’ if they weren’t looking.”
“It happens all the time with large, complex investigations,” she added.
Prosecutors had hoped to flip Weisselberg or company controller Jeffrey McConney, who was nearly labeled a hostile witness during the Trump Organization trial, but ultimately were unable to get their full cooperation.
“They didn’t flip, and they failed,” said former Manhattan prosecutor Jeff Chabrowe. “They tried to do everything they could, and in the end, they got a truncated thing here where they went after the organization and Weisselberg, and there’s this fine that’s pretty weak.”
‘Final Nail in His Coffin’: Trump’s Taxes Contain ‘Powerful Evidence of Criminal Tax Evasion’
In a column for the Daily Beast, longtime investigative journalist and Donald Trump biographer David Cay Johnston made the case that there is enough evidence of financial fraud in the former president’s tax returns from 2015 to 2020 to indict and prosecute him.
At issue, he noted, are deductions taken for Trump companies — some of which may never have existed.
According to Johnston, the author of “The Big Cheat: How Donald Trump Fleeced America and Enriched Himself and His Family,” he found “powerful evidence of criminal tax evasion,” after reviewing the documents after they were released on Friday morning to the public after years of obstruction from Trump.
“Consider a rich business owner who fabricates deductions but who would still owe zero tax in the audited year even if those deductions were denied. That means an audit that will not generate any tax revenue. That’s also what Trump apparently did in 26 sole proprietor, or Schedule C, filings in the six years of released tax returns,” he wrote before adding, “Trump also turned a profit off a portion of the tax system, making $2.8 million profit off the Alternative Minimum Tax, or AMT.”
As for those 26 Trump businesses that may or may not exist, Johnston suggested that investigators dig deeper into how the former president used them to get out of paying taxes in the years involved.
“Most glaring in the tax returns is that they include 26 Trump businesses—or imaginary businesses—with zero revenue and hundreds of thousands of dollars in tax deductions for expenses,” he pointed out while noting they should be of interest to New York State Attorney General Letitia James, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg and Attorney General Merrick Garland.
“Unless Trump can produce records showing the expenses are real and meet other standards to be deductible, that’s fraud. That Trump did it 26 times as a candidate and as president is powerful evidence that he qualifies for prosecution by the federal government and New York State for criminal tax fraud,” he wrote before adding the results could lead to a “slam dunk” prosecution.
You can read more here.
Image: Evan El Amin/Shutterstock
Watch: J6 Committee Votes to Send Four Criminal Referrals Against Donald Trump to DOJ
The U.S. House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack has voted to send four criminal referrals to the Dept. of Justice, even more than previously expected.
The Committee’s referral says Donald Trump is guilty of: Obstruction of an official proceeding; Conspiracy to defraud the United States; Conspiracy to make a false statement; Inciting, assisting or aiding/comforting an insurrection, as reported by CNN’s Jake Tapper.
Calling the move “a major escalation for a congressional investigation that is the most significant in a generation,” The New York Times reports this is “the first time in American history that Congress has referred a former president for criminal prosecution,” and “is the coda to the committee’s intense 18-month investigation into Mr. Trump’s effort to overturn the 2020 election that culminated in a violent mob of the former president’s supporters laying siege to the Capitol.”
Watch this historic moment below or at this link.
The vote pic.twitter.com/Tsk0mE0wCC
— Acyn (@Acyn) December 19, 2022
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