Federal prosecutors in New York have been investigating Trump Organization executives to determine if they were also involved in campaign finance violations, the New York Times is reporting this morning.
Last week the New York prosecutors recommended a substantial prison term for President Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen. In the sentencing memo filed with the court, they also tied the president to the crimes Cohen had admitted to committing. The crimes involved federal campaign finance law violations in connection with Trump’s 2016 run for the presidency.
The document filed by prosecutors with the court did not address crimes committed by other people. The New York Times, however, says that the U.S. Attorney’s office in the Southern District of New York (SDNY) is continuing its investigation and is looking at people in addition to Cohen and Trump.
The Times reports that the SDNY prosecutors are finding out what other executives in the president’s family business knew about the crimes to which Cohen pleaded guilty, and in which he implicated President Trump.
The crimes involved hush-money payments to two women — Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal who claimed they had illicit sexual relationships with Trump while he was married to his current wife, Melania.
The federal prosecutors have been investigating for months what role Trump Organization executives played in the campaign finance violations, according to the Times.
Cohen was not only Trump’s personal attorney and fixer, but he was also listed as an executive of the Trump Organization, along with Ivanka Trump, Eric Trump, and Donald Trump, Jr.
Cohen has provided the SDNY prosecutors a great deal of help in their investigation, which is separate from the investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller.
Cohen implicated the president in his crimes, and he also told prosecutors that the company’s chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg, was involved in making the payments to the two women. Cohen has told prosecutors that he believes Trump personally approved the company’s decision to reimburse him for one of the payments, and Weisselberg knew about it. So far no one other than Cohen has been charged with a crime.
“Weisselberg was granted immunity by federal prosecutors for providing information about Michael Cohen in the criminal investigation into hush-money payments for two women during the 2016 presidential campaign.”
The SDNY prosecutors recently contacted the Trump Organization to request documents and other materials relevant to the case. According to the Times:
“This is an indication that prosecutors continue to focus on the president’s company even as the case against Cohen comes to a close.”
“At the time of the payments to the two women, Trump was the head of the company, and although he turned over its management to his two oldest sons, he still owns it through a trust.”
Cohen has told the SDNY prosecutors that he arranged the hush money to the two women at the direction of the president. In the filing on Friday, the prosecutors put the “weight of their office” behind Cohen’s admission. They wrote that “with respect to both payments, he acted in coordination with and at the direction of” Trump.
The filing also said Cohen had provided “potentially useful information about matters relating to ongoing investigations being carried out by this office.” It also said that SDNY prosecutors “assessed Cohen to be forthright and credible, and the information he provided was largely consistent with other evidence gathered.”
Cohen’s guilty pleas, and the evidence he has provided to federal prosecutors, may spell big trouble for the Trump Organization and its executives. We don’t know the details, but last week’s court filings show that the business and its executives are under continuing investigations. And we also know that Michael Cohen has told the prosecutors everything he knows — which is a lot.
Even after Michael Cohen is sentenced on Wednesday we can expect to hear more from the Southern District of New York as the case against the Trump Organization and its executives continues to unfold.
I am a lifelong Democrat with a passion for social justice and progressive issues. I have degrees in writing, economics and law from the University of Iowa.