Reports about an impending “final report” from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation do not indicate an imminent conclusion to legal scrutiny of the Trump team. Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) suggests that none other than Donald Trump Jr. could be among the next up for prosecution thanks to his role in the illegal hush money scheme targeting women with whom his father had affairs.
Khanna got a chance to question former Trump personal lawyer Michael Cohen about that scheme during recent public testimony before the House Oversight Committee, and got Cohen to explicitly lay out that others including Trump Jr. participated in the operation even though so far, the now former lawyer is the only one to face tangible legal consequences.
Now, Khanna says:
‘[Trump Jr.] is in a lot of trouble. One of the things Cohen was unwilling to say but his body language suggested is true is that the Southern District of New York may very well be investigating Donald Trump Jr… Cohen paid off Stormy Daniels and then Donald Trump Jr. is allegedly cooking the books… to pay off Michael Cohen, and his disassembling and being dishonest about whether those checks are for a payoff or for legal services.’
Trump Jr. helped reimburse Cohen after the then-Trump family lawyer came up with $130,000 in hush money for adult film star Stormy Daniels on his own. Reimbursement for that payment, which Cohen got from a home equity loan, took the form of multiple checks issued well after Trump took office, including one from the “Revocable Trust” account that the president set up to hold his assets while he was in office. Trump Jr. and Trump Organization Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg both signed that check, together working (alongside Eric Trump) to oversee the family’s assets while the elder Trump is in office.
During Cohen’s public Congressional appearance, Khanna outlined how Trump Jr.’s signature on that check implicated him in the broader conspiracy. Cohen submitted false invoices to make the payments seem like a retainer, which Weisselberg and Trump Jr. then apparently filed into the Trump Organization’s records.
At the time, Khanna asserted:
‘It could give rise to serious state and federal criminal liability if a corporation is cooking its books.’
He asked Cohen whether the scheme was under current investigation, but the former lawyer declined to answer, trying to skip around making any definitive indication.
Trump Jr. has been reported to have been concerned that he could be indicted in the past, although not even for financial fraud. Past concern has focused on possible lies he told about a 2016 meeting he had in Trump Tower with Kremlin lawyer Natalia Veselnitsaya seeking Kremlin dirt on Hillary Clinton, but as Khanna noted, the present issue of possible financial fraud is completely separate from the Russia investigation.
Those are just a couple of the legal issues currently facing the Trump team. They’ve even been slapped with the new hurdle of three subpoenas and counting targeting the Trump inaugural committee on the basis of a wide array of possible crimes, from illegal self-dealing to illegal funneling of foreign cash into the United States.
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