In a column for USA Today, a former prosecutor in the Department Of Justice’s Public Integrity division urged Attorney General Merrick Garland to re-open former special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Donald Trump.
According to Noah Bookbinder, who currently serves as the executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics (CREW), recent revelations about ex-AG Bill Barr’s handling of the Mueller report are cause to take another look at it and possibly expand upon it.
Linking to a report that U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson “… blasted the Trump Justice Department for misleading the court about the nature of its internal deliberations before concluding that then-President Donald Trump had not obstructed former special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election,” Bookbinder said that should open the door for the DOJ to investigate obstruction not only by Trump but also Barr.
“Many of us have long suspected that Barr deliberately set out to spin the contents of the Mueller report and manufacture bogus legal analysis in order to protect Trump from facing consequences for the crimes laid out in the report. We now have proof that Barr did exactly that,” the ex-prosecutor charged before noting that, now that Trump is out of office and not protected by a Justice Department policy that limited going after a sitting president, he is fair game.
Quoting a letter signed by 1,000 former federal prosecutors who wrote, “the conduct of President Trump described in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report would, in the case of any other person not covered by the Office of Legal Counsel policy against indicting a sitting president, result in multiple felony charges for obstruction of justice,” Bookbinder pointed out that a roadmap to investigating Trump further already exists.
“The principle that no one is above the law is not self-enforcing. Justice can only be served if law enforcement agencies are willing to pursue justice against anyone who violates the law–regardless of the office they hold. There is no greater threat to the rule of law than failing to hold accountable the most powerful among us,” he wrote before adding, “Neither Mueller nor Barr made a final decision as to whether Trump should be prosecuted for obstruction of justice because DOJ policy precluded that outcome as long as he was president. Now that Trump is no longer president, the department needs to decide whether he will be prosecuted, and Attorney General Merrick Garland should let the American people know how that decision will be made.”
Hammering home his point, he concluded, “There is vast evidence that Donald Trump committed crimes. Time, and litigation, have removed both the legal protection he had as president and the illusory claims of exoneration spun by Barr. Now is the moment for America to see equal justice in action. It’s time to finish what Mueller started.”
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.
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— Acyn (@Acyn) December 19, 2022
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