Connect with us

Politics

Cohen, Manafort, Weisselberg ‘perfect storm of cooperators’ on Trump

Published

on


trump
Three
of President Donald Trump’s top associates are cooperating with
prosecutors.


Richard
Drew/AP



  • Federal prosecutors have flipped the three men who are
    privy to the most secret details of the main facets of
    President Donald Trump’s life: his personal life, his campaign,
    and his business.
  • Together, said one former federal prosecutor, “This is
    the perfect storm of cooperators.”
  • The three men are former Trump campaign chairman Paul
    Manafort, Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen, and the
    Trump Organization’s chief financial officer, Allen
    Weisselberg.
  • One former Justice Department veteran compared their
    roles to those in the mob.
  • “One could draw the analogy here that Manafort was
    Trump’s consigliere when it came to his campaign, Weisselberg
    was the underboss in the Trump Organization, and Cohen is, of
    course, the lawyer,” he said.

Michael Cohen has been called President Donald Trump’s fixer and
Pitbull.

Paul Manafort worked on Trump’s campaign during the most pivotal
time in the 2016 election season.

Allen Weisselberg, the Trump Organization’s longtime chief
financial officer, manages the company’s books and has been
described as “the one guy who
knows everything.”

In short, former federal prosecutor Elie Honig said, “This is the
perfect storm of cooperators.”

Cohen pleaded guilty last month to five counts of tax evasion,
bank fraud, and campaign finance violations. He is now
cooperating with a Manhattan US attorney’s office investigation
into his and the president’s dealings leading up to the election.

Manafort pleaded guilty on Friday to two counts of conspiracy and
obstruction, and a prosecutor working for the special counsel
Robert Mueller said Manafort is cooperating “in any and all
matters as to which the government deems the cooperation
relevant,” including “testifying fully, completely” before a
grand jury.

Weisselberg was granted immunity by federal prosecutors at the
Southern District of New York in August so he could share
information pertaining to their investigation into Cohen and
Trump.

Combined, the three men may be privy to some of the most secret
details of the main facets of Trump’s life: his personal life,
his campaign, and his business.

Patrick Cotter, a former federal prosecutor who was part of the
team that convicted the Gambino crime family boss John Gotti,
said Cohen, Manafort, and Weisselberg all had different
responsibilities to carry out on Trump’s behalf.

“Weisselberg is inside the Trump company, Manafort was inside the
campaign and has the Russia connection, and Cohen is the
all-purpose lawyer and fixer,” he said.

“If you’re Mueller or other federal prosecutors, it’s useful for
you to try to identify as many people as you can near the top of
the organization to talk to you,” Cotter added. “And it looks
like investigators got them.”

‘I don’t know that there’s another person out there with more
information about the president’s potential criminal conduct’


Michael Cohen
Michael Cohen.
Yana
Paskova/Getty Images


At the center of the investigation into Cohen are two payments
made to women who claim to have had affairs with Trump. Both
women were paid shortly before the 2016 election.

In a court filing last month, prosecutors said Cohen approached
Trump Organization executives asking to be reimbursed for
“election-related” costs following the election, and that he
began receiving the payments in February 2017. The document said
the Trump Organization ultimately approved $420,000 in
reimbursements to Cohen.

New York federal prosecutors are also looking into whether other
executives at the Trump Organization broke campaign finance laws.

Weisselberg, as the man in charge of tracking the money flow in
and out of the company, is likely crucial to helping
investigators determine what kinds of transactions were made, who
made them, and how high up their approval came from.

Though Cohen and Weisselberg are cooperating as part of the New
York federal investigation and Manafort is cooperating with the
Russia probe, it is common practice for law enforcement officials
to share witnesses if prosecutors from other districts believe
those witnesses may have information pertaining to their own
cases.

Cohen has reportedly been speaking to Mueller, who is
investigating Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. The
president’s former fixer is critical to several threads of
Mueller’s investigation.

They include the creation of a Russia-friendly “peace plan”
during the early days of Trump’s presidency, and Cohen’s
potential involvement in an unconfirmed trip to Prague during the
summer of 2016 to meet with Kremlin-linked officials.


trump tower
The Trump Organization had
plans to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.

Mark Lennihan/AP Photos

Cohen was also central to the Trump Organization’s push to build
a Trump Tower in Moscow at the height of the election.
Weisselberg, as the company’s chief accountant, may be able to
shed additional light on the controversial and now defunct
project.

Last month, it also emerged that Cohen said Trump knew in advance
about a Russian lawyer’s offer to the Trump campaign of “dirt” on
Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton during the 2016 election.
Cohen reportedly claims that he was one of the people in the room
when Trump greenlit the meeting.

As one of three top campaign officials who attended the meeting,
Manafort’s firsthand account of it will likely play an important
role in helping Mueller determine whether the Trump campaign
broke federal law by accepting something of value from an agent
of a foreign power.

Manafort was also campaign chairman when he offered a Russian
oligarch “private briefings” on Trump’s bid. And he was leading
the campaign when WikiLeaks began dumping thousands of emails
from the Democratic National Committee that Russian operatives
stole.


Trump Jr. Russia meetingSkye Gould/Business Insider

“These guys cover pretty much every angle, a lot of which
overlap, so prosecutors have a lot of chances now to build their
case through three different people with three different
perspectives,” Honig said.

Cotter echoed that view.

“In the mob, the most important guys are the consigliere, who is
a top adviser of sorts to the boss, the underboss, who runs
everyday operations, and the lawyer, who is the chief employee
you send out to take care of your legal problems and dirty work,”
he said.

Cotter added: “One could draw the analogy here that Manafort was
Trump’s consigliere when it came to his campaign, Weisselberg was
the underboss in the Trump Organization, and Cohen is, of course,
the lawyer. And prosecutors have all three men cooperating. I
don’t know that there’s another person out there with more
information about the president’s potential criminal conduct.”

Continue Reading
Advertisement Find your dream job

Trending