Although in the time since it got announced, federal investigation into the circumstances surrounding President Donald Trump’s inauguration has been joined by a parade of other investigations into Trump’s nonsense, a figure connected to Trump’s inauguration has now been hit with major federal criminal charges. California investor Imaad Zuberi has agreed to plead guilty to federal criminal charges like tax evasion and falsifying records covering a years-long scheme to donate some $1 million in secretly foreign money to U.S. political interests. Zuberi donated a whopping $900,000 to Trump’s inauguration committee alone, although currently available charging documents do not specify which of Zuberi’s donations were illegal and are under scrutiny.
Zuberi has donated money to politicians from both major parties, but he’s stuck with Trump since he won election in 2016. Before that, he poured money into campaigns ranging from those of Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina to former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
Although they note that his scheme was largely unsuccessful and he has few if any apparent successful domestic policy shifts to his name, NBC News explains:
‘Prosecutors say Zuberi solicited foreign nationals and representatives of foreign governments, claiming he could use his influence in Washington, D.C., to alter U.S. foreign policy and open up business opportunities for his clients.’
United States Attorney Nick Hanna noted:
‘Mr. Zuberi’s multifaceted scheme allowed him to line his pockets by concealing the fact that he was representing foreign clients, obtaining access for clients by making a long series of illegal contributions, and skimming money paid by his clients. Mr. Zuberi circumvented laws designed to insulate U.S. policy and our election process from foreign intervention. This investigation has halted his illegal conduct, will result in several felony convictions, and could send him to prison for a lengthy period of time.’
That’s pretty blunt!
Apparently, besides the massive donation Zuberi made to the already money-packed Trump inauguration committee, he’s also given a check for $100,000 to Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen as part of what’s described as a consulting agreement. On his own time, Cohen had actually been promising the same kind of access to U.S. policymaking that Zuberi was after — some of Cohen’s other clients for that same purpose include big-name corporations like the drug company Novartis and AT&T. Cohen supposedly never cashed Zuberi’s check.
This situation is not the first recent one in which someone in the president’s orbit went down on criminal charges of secretly and illegally funneling foreign money into the United States — an association that’s not exactly a good look for a U.S. president, to say the least.
Recently, two direct associates of Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani were arrested on similar charges. Those associates — Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman — apparently carried out their own multi-year scheme to get massive amounts of foreign money into the U.S., including some $1 million from a Russian businessman that they gave to U.S. political candidates. They also gave illegally high donations to now former Republican Congressman Pete Sessions, who also led the official Congressional campaign arm of the national Republican Party at one point.