Sunday, July 29, 2018

Allen Weisselberg's Testimony Could Put the Final Nail In Trump's Coffin


Over the past week, there have been three major news stories that have involved Donald Trump that if proven true could be deeply damaging to his presidency. The first two concern leaks by Michael Cohen through his attorney Lanny Davis that 1. Trump knew about and authorized payment to AMI, the company that owns The National Inquirer, as compensation for buying the rights to a story about an affair he had with Playboy playmate Karen McDougal; and 2. Trump knew about the meeting his son had with a Russian operative to get "dirt" on Hillary Clinton prior to the 2016 presidential election.

Regarding the first story, Trump's exposure comes down to whether Robert Mueller can make a case that campaign finance laws had been violated. If so, it might be nothing more than a substantial fine. If anything, Cohen might end up worse for the wear. He was the one who set up the shell company that was used to pay off Stormy Daniels and AMI and, as a result, could be disbarred, whether he gets indicted or not. Frankly, I'm a little surprised that Davis released it since it incriminates his client as much as, if not more so, than Trump.

The second story comes down to a he said / he said argument. And while Trump is someone who is a known pathological liar, it's not like Cohen is Mother Teresa. Unless there's a tape out there that Mueller can use as evidence of collusion, I don't see this as anything more than just more fodder for the talking heads on cable news.

But the third story is, to put it in Trumpian verbiage, YUGE! That was the revelation that long-time accountant and CFO of the Trump Organization Allen Weisselberg has been called to testify before the Grand Jury in the Michael Cohen case. Why is this significant? One, because Cohen mentioned him by name in the tape Davis leaked; and two, as CFO, he knows everything there is to know about Trump and his business dealings.

In other words, Weisselberg will be able to provide the missing pieces of the puzzle that Robert Mueller is assembling in his investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. As I have stated on several occasions, the real jeopardy for Trump isn't so much collusion, which I will stipulate is a very difficult case to prove, but rather where and whom he gets his money from. In short, if Mueller can make the case that the source of Trump's income is Russian oligarchs, that is what they refer to in tennis parlance as game, set and match.

That's why he's been trying to shut down this investigation. Not because he's worried that admitting Russia interfered with our electoral process would undermine his legitimacy as president. Hell, it didn't bother George Bush one bit that the Supreme Court's intervention in 2000 gave him the presidency. No, the real reason he's paranoid is because the longer this investigation goes on the more likely it is that the world will find out what many of us already suspect: that Putin owns him.

Think about it. In Trump's narrow view of the world, everything he does revolves around enriching himself. He originally ran for president believing he would lose to Hillary and then start his own conservative cable news network that would make him a ton of money. Winning screwed all that up, insomuch as it put his entire life under a microscope. If Mueller can prove he's in bed with the Russians all his plans go out the window. He's ruined financially. Indeed, he would be a pariah. Even Fox News would abandon him.

I suspect Mueller already has all of Trump's tax returns going back at least a decade. He also has access to financial records of the Trump organization. What he needs from Weisselberg is corroboration to connect the dots. If he gets it, Mueller may not need Trump to testify before the Grand Jury. In fact, if after Weisselberg's testimony, Trump's legal team ends up getting a notice that their "client" doesn't have to appear before the Grand Jury, that would be a bad sign for Trump. It means that Mueller is close to issuing his report, and that report will likely recommend either an indictment, impeachment or both.

In my opinion we are now in the final stages of the Russia investigation. No doubt a few more indictments are forthcoming. Whether any of them will involve Trump and / or his family remains to be seen.

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