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Westlake Legal Group > Clifford, Stephanie (1979- )

Supreme Court to Rule on Release of Trump’s Financial Records

Westlake Legal Group 00dc-scotus-trump-facebookJumbo Supreme Court to Rule on Release of Trump’s Financial Records United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Trump Tax Returns McDougal, Karen (1971- ) Mazars USA Federal Taxes (US) Cohen, Michael D (1966- ) Clifford, Stephanie (1979- )

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court agreed on Friday to decide whether President Trump can block the release of his financial records, setting the stage for a blockbuster ruling on the power of presidents to resist demands for information from prosecutors and Congress.

The court’s ruling, expected by June, could require disclosure of information the president has gone to extraordinary lengths to protect. Or the justices could rule that Mr. Trump’s financial affairs are not legitimate subjects of inquiry so long as he remains in office.

Either way, the court is now poised to produce a once-in-a-generation statement on presidential accountability.

The case will test the independence of the court, which is dominated by Republican appointees, including two named by Mr. Trump. In earlier Supreme Court cases in which presidents sought to avoid providing evidence, the rulings did not break along partisan lines.

To the contrary, the court was unanimous in ruling against Presidents Richard M. Nixon and Bill Clinton in such cases, with Nixon and Clinton appointees voting against the presidents who had placed them on the court. The Nixon case led to his resignation in the face of mounting calls for his impeachment. The Clinton case led to Mr. Clinton’s impeachment, though he survived a Senate vote on his removal.

Mr. Trump asked the court to block three sets of subpoenas, and the justices agreed to decide his appeals in all three. The court said that arguments would be held over two hours in late March or early April, but it did not specify the date.

All of the subpoenas sought information from Mr. Trump’s accountants or bankers, not from Mr. Trump himself, and the firms have indicated that they will comply with the court’s ruling. Had the subpoenas sought evidence from Mr. Trump himself, there was at least a possibility that he would try to defy a ruling against him, prompting a constitutional crisis.

One of the cases concerned a subpoena to Mr. Trump’s accounting firm, Mazars USA, from the office of the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., a Democrat. It sought eight years of business and personal tax records in connection with an investigation of the role that Mr. Trump and the Trump Organization played in hush-money payments made in the run-up to the 2016 election.

Both Mr. Trump and his company reimbursed the president’s former lawyer and fixer, Michael D. Cohen, for payments made to the pornographic film actress Stormy Daniels, who claimed that she had an affair with Mr. Trump.

Mr. Cohen was also involved in payments to Karen McDougal, a Playboy model who had also claimed she had a relationship with Mr. Trump. The president has denied the relationships.

Mr. Trump sued to stop his accounting firm from turning over the records, but lower courts ruled against him. In a unanimous ruling, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, in New York, said state prosecutors may require third parties to turn over a sitting president’s financial records for use in a grand jury investigation.

In a footnote to the decision, Chief Judge Robert A. Katzmann, wrote that the information sought was in a sense unexceptional.

“We note that the past six presidents, dating back to President Carter, all voluntarily released their tax returns to the public,” Judge Katzmann wrote. “While we do not place dispositive weight on this fact, it reinforces our conclusion that the disclosure of personal financial information, standing alone, is unlikely to impair the president in performing the duties of his office.”

In their petition urging the Supreme Court to hear their appeal, Trump v. Vance, No. 19-635, Mr. Trump’s lawyers argued that he was immune from all criminal proceedings and investigations so long as he remained in office. But even if some federal investigations may be proper, the petition said, the Supreme Court should rule that state and local prosecutors may not seek information about a sitting president’s conduct.

“That the Constitution would empower thousands of state and local prosecutors to embroil the president in criminal proceedings is unimaginable,” Mr. Trump’s lawyers wrote.

Mr. Vance responded that the Supreme Court’s decision in United States v. Nixon in 1974 essentially decided the central issue in Mr. Trump’s appeal. “This court has long recognized,” Mr. Vance wrote, “that a sitting president may be subject to a subpoena in a criminal proceeding.”

That the subpoena in the Nixon case came from a federal court rather than a state grand jury made no difference, Mr. Vance wrote. “The states’ strong interests in operating a fair and just criminal judicial process should be respected no less than the federal government’s parallel interests recognized in Nixon,” he wrote.

The Justice Department filed a friend-of-the-court brief urging the court to hear Mr. Trump’s appeal seeking to keep his financial records private. The brief did not adopt the broad position taken by Mr. Trump’s personal lawyers — that he is immune from criminal investigation while he remains in office. Rather, the department’s brief said that courts should require prosecutors to meet a demanding standard before they are allowed to obtain the information.

The second subpoena, also directed to the accounting firm, came from the House Oversight and Reform Committee, which is investigating the hush-money payments and whether Mr. Trump inflated and deflated descriptions of his assets on financial statements to obtain loans and reduce his taxes.

When Mr. Trump’s lawyers went to court to try to block the subpoena, they argued that the committee was powerless to obtain his records because it had no legislative need for them. They said the panel was engaged in an improper criminal inquiry and was not seeking information to help it enact legislation.

In October, a divided three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit refused to block the subpoena.

“Having considered the weighty interests at stake in this case, we conclude that the subpoena issued by the committee to Mazars is valid and enforceable,” Judge David S. Tatel, who was appointed by President Clinton, wrote for the majority. Judge Patricia A. Millett, appointed by President Barack Obama, joined the majority opinion.

In dissent, Judge Neomi J. Rao, appointed by Mr. Trump, wrote that “allegations of illegal conduct against the president cannot be investigated by Congress except through impeachment.”

In a brief urging the Supreme Court to deny review in the case, Trump v. Mazars USA, No. 19-715, lawyers for the committee argued that they had a legitimate need for the information they sought.

“The election of a president who has decided to maintain his ties to a broad array of business ventures raises questions about the adequacy of existing legislation concerning financial disclosures, government contracts with federal officeholders and government ethics,” the brief said. “Whether new legislation on these subjects is needed is a natural subject of congressional inquiry.”

The third set of subpoenas came from the House Financial Services and Intelligence Committees and were addressed to two financial institutions that did business with Mr. Trump, Deutsche Bank and Capital One. They sought an array of financial records related to the president, his companies and his family.

A different three-judge panel of the Second Circuit ordered most of the requested materials to be disclosed. It made an exception for sensitive personal information unrelated to the committee’s investigations.

“The committees’ interests in pursuing their constitutional legislative function is a far more significant public interest than whatever public interest inheres in avoiding the risk of a chief executive’s distraction arising from disclosure of documents reflecting his private financial transactions,” Judge Jon O. Newman wrote for the majority.

In urging the Supreme Court to block the Second Circuit’s ruling while the justices decided how to proceed in the case, Trump v. Deutsche Bank AG, No. 19A640, Mr. Trump wrote that “these ‘dragnet’ subpoena look nothing like a legislative inquiry.”

The committees responded that they need the information to address interference in American elections.

“Legislative efforts to secure the financial system from abuse have obvious importance,” lawyers for the committee told the justices. “And nothing is more urgent than efforts to guard against foreign influence in our systems for electing officials, particularly given the upcoming 2020 elections.”

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Trump Taxes: President Ordered to Turn Over Returns to Manhattan D.A.

A federal judge on Monday rejected a bold argument from President Trump that sitting presidents are immune from criminal investigations, allowing the Manhattan district attorney’s office to move forward with a subpoena seeking eight years of the president’s personal and corporate tax returns.

The ruling issued by Judge Victor Marrero of Manhattan federal court does not mean that the president’s tax returns will be turned over immediately. Mr. Trump’s lawyers quickly appealed the decision, and the appeals court agreed to temporarily block the order.

Judge Victor Marrero’s Ruling

Court ruling in Trump v. New York D.A. (PDF, 75 pages, 1.98 MB)

Westlake Legal Group thumbnail Trump Taxes: President Ordered to Turn Over Returns to Manhattan D.A. Vance, Cyrus R Jr Trump, Donald J Trump Tax Returns Trump Organization Mazars USA Manhattan (NYC) Justice Department Decisions and Verdicts Cohen, Michael D (1966- ) Clifford, Stephanie (1979- ) Barr, William P   75 pages, 1.98 MB

The judge’s decision came a little more than a month after the Manhattan district attorney subpoenaed Mr. Trump’s accounting firm, Mazars USA, for his personal and corporate returns dating to 2011. The demand touched off a legal showdown that raised new constitutional questions and drew in the Justice Department, which supported the president’s request to delay enforcement of the subpoena.

Mr. Vance’s office has been investigating whether any New York State laws were broken when Mr. Trump and his company reimbursed the president’s former lawyer and fixer, Michael D. Cohen, for payments he made in the run-up to the 2016 election to the pornographic film actress Stormy Daniels, who had said she had an affair with Mr. Trump.

Mr. Trump has denied having an affair with Ms. Daniels.

Mr. Trump’s lawyers sued last month to block the subpoena, arguing that the Constitution effectively makes sitting presidents immune from all criminal inquiries until they leave the White House. The lawyers acknowledged that their argument had not been tested in courts, but said the release of the president’s tax returns would cause him “irreparable harm.”

In his 75-page ruling, Judge Marrero called the president’s argument “repugnant to the nation’s governmental structure and constitutional values.” Presidents, their families and businesses are not above the law, the judge wrote.

A lawyer for the president and a spokesman for the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., each declined to comment.

Mr. Vance’s office had asked Judge Marrero to dismiss Mr. Trump’s suit, saying a grand jury had a right to “pursue its investigation free from interference and litigious delay” and rejecting his claim to blanket immunity. The judge was appointed by President Bill Clinton.

Mr. Trump’s lawyers have called the investigation by Mr. Vance, a Democrat, politically motivated. Mr. Vance has accused the president and his team of trying to run out the clock on the investigation.

Last week, lawyers with Mr. Trump’s Justice Department jumped into the fray, asking the judge to temporarily block the subpoena while the court takes time to consider the “significant constitutional issues” in the case.

The Justice Department, led by Attorney General William P. Barr, did not say whether it agreed with Mr. Trump’s position that presidents cannot be investigated. But, citing the constitutional questions, the department said it wanted to provide its views. A spokeswoman for the department declined to comment on the ruling Monday.

The Constitution does not explicitly say whether presidents can be charged with a crime while in office, and the Supreme Court has not answered the question.

Federal prosecutors are barred from charging a sitting president with a crime because the Justice Department has decided that presidents have temporary immunity while they are in office.

But in the past, that position has not precluded investigating a president. Presidents, including Mr. Trump, have been subjects of federal criminal investigations while in office. Local prosecutors, such as Mr. Vance, are also not bound by the Justice Department’s position.

As part of a temporary deal reached last month, Mr. Vance’s office agreed not to enforce the subpoena until two days after Judge Marrero issued a ruling, which would give Mr. Trump a chance to appeal if he lost. But that agreement was to expire at 1 p.m. on Monday.

The president and his lawyers have fought vigorously to shield his tax returns, which Mr. Trump said during the 2016 campaign that he would make public but has since refused to disclose.

Mr. Trump’s lawyers have sued to block attempts by congressional Democrats and New York lawmakers to gain access to his tax returns and financial records. They also successfully challenged a California law requiring presidential primary candidates to release their tax returns.

If Mr. Vance ultimately prevails in obtaining the president’s tax returns, they would not automatically become public. They would be protected by rules governing the secrecy of grand jury investigations unless the documents became evidence in a criminal case.

Mr. Trump’s accounting firm, which he sued along with the district attorney’s office to bar the company from turning over his returns, reissued the statement it released nearly three weeks ago when the lawsuit was filed, saying it “will respect the legal process and fully comply with its legal obligations.”

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Trump Lawyers Argue He Cannot Be Criminally Investigated

Lawyers for President Trump argued in a lawsuit filed on Thursday that he cannot be criminally investigated while in office, as they sought to block a subpoena from state prosecutors in Manhattan demanding eight years of his tax returns.

Taking a broad position that the lawyers acknowledged had not been tested, the president’s legal team argued in the complaint that the Constitution effectively makes sitting presidents immune from all criminal inquiries until they leave the White House.

The president “cannot be subject to criminal process, for conduct of any kind, while he is serving as president,” the lawyers wrote in the complaint, filed in Manhattan federal court.

While it is unclear how a judge will view the argument, the case is likely to delay the latest attempt to secure Mr. Trump’s financial records.

The lawsuit was filed in response to a subpoena issued late last month by the Manhattan district attorney’s office to Mr. Trump’s accounting firm. The subpoena sought eight years of the president’s personal and corporate tax returns as the office investigates the role that the Mr. Trump and his family business played in hush-money payments made in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

Both Mr. Trump and the company reimbursed Michael D. Cohen, the president’s former lawyer and fixer, for money Mr. Cohen paid to buy the silence of Stormy Daniels, an adult film actress who said she had an affair with Mr. Trump. The president has denied the affair.

Federal prosecutors said in a court filing in July that they had “effectively concluded” their investigation into possible crimes committed by the president’s company, the Trump Organization, or its executives. Neither the company nor any of its leaders were charged. However, the office of the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., is exploring whether the reimbursements violated any New York State laws.

The lawsuit filed on Thursday was the latest effort by the president and his legal team to stymie multiple attempts to obtain copies of his tax returns, which Mr. Trump initially said he would make public during the 2016 campaign but has since refused to disclose.

Mr. Trump’s lawyers have sued to block attempts by congressional Democrats and New York State lawmakers to access his tax returns and financial records. But their arguments in those cases had been made on narrower grounds.

It is an open question whether sitting presidents are immune from prosecution while in office. The Constitution does not explicitly address the issue, and the Supreme Court has never answered the question.

Federal prosecutors are barred from charging a sitting president with a federal crime, because the Justice Department — in memos written during the Nixon and Clinton administrations — has interpreted the Constitution to implicitly grant presidents temporary immunity while they are in office. Those memos, however, do not bind the hands of state prosecutors.

Presidents have been subject to federal criminal inquiries in the past, including Mr. Trump, who was recently a subject of an investigation conducted by Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel, that examined ties between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Mr. Mueller said in May that the Justice Department memo “explicitly permits” the investigation of presidents, although he acknowledged that they cannot be charged with federal crimes.

Tracking 29 Investigations Related to Trump
Federal, state and congressional authorities are investigating Donald J. Trump’s businesses, campaign, inauguration and presidency.

May 13, 2019

Westlake Legal Group trump-presidents-investigations-promo-1557500573411-threeByTwoSmallAt2X-v5 Trump Lawyers Argue He Cannot Be Criminally Investigated Vance, Cyrus R Jr United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Trump Tax Returns Trump Organization Sekulow, Jay Alan Mazars USA Cohen, Michael D (1966- ) Clifford, Stephanie (1979- )

In their lawsuit, Mr. Trump’s lawyers took their arguments a step further, arguing that no criminal investigation of a sitting president was constitutional. They took particular issue with any investigation conducted by “a county prosecutor,” such as the Manhattan district attorney.

Mr. Vance’s office is seeking a range of tax documents from Mr. Trump’s accounting firm, Mazars USA, including federal and state tax returns for both the president and the Trump Organization, dating to 2011.

In their lawsuit, Mr. Trump’s lawyers, who have repeatedly called Mr. Vance’s investigation politically motivated, wrote that state and local prosecutors were particularly susceptible to opening investigations to advance their careers at the expense of the federal government.

“A county prosecutor in New York, for what appears to be the first time in our nation’s history, is attempting to do just that,” the complaint said.

The complaint called prosecutors’ effort to obtain Mr. Trump’s personal records “a bad faith effort to harass the president by obtaining and exposing his confidential financial information.”

Mr. Trump’s lawyers are seeking an injunction stopping both Mazars USA and Mr. Vance from taking action on the subpoena until after Mr. Trump leaves office.

“We are in court to protect the president’s rights and the Constitution,” said Marc L. Mukasey, a lawyer for the Trump Organization.

A spokesman for Mr. Vance said the district attorney would respond in court and had no additional comment. Mazars USA said it would “respect the legal process and fully comply with its legal obligations.”

Mr. Vance’s investigation has been focused on $130,000 that Mr. Cohen paid Ms. Daniels just before the election. Mr. Cohen pleaded guilty last year to violating federal campaign finance laws. He received a three-year prison sentence.

Mr. Vance’s office has been investigating whether the Trump Organization falsely accounted for the reimbursements as a legal expense. It was unclear if the scope of the subpoena — including Mr. Trump’s personal records — meant that the inquiry had widened.

In New York, filing a false business record can be a felony only if prosecutors can prove that the filing was made to commit or conceal another crime, such as tax violations or bank fraud. Mr. Trump’s tax returns, if Mr. Vance’s office obtains them, would be protected by rules governing grand jury secrecy and not become public unless they were used as evidence in a criminal case.

Ben Protess, Charlie Savage and William K. Rashbaum contributed reporting.

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Democrats to Broaden Impeachment Inquiry Into Trump to Corruption Accusations

WASHINGTON — House Democrats return to Washington this week poised to significantly broaden their nascent impeachment inquiry into President Trump beyond the findings of the Russia investigation, but they will confront a fast-dwindling political clock.

Undeterred by lackluster public support for impeachment, Democratic lawmakers and aides have sketched out a robust four-month itinerary of hearings and court arguments that they hope will provide the evidence they need to credibly portray Mr. Trump as corrupt and abusing his power.

Beyond the president’s efforts to impede the special counsel’s investigation, Democrats also plan to scrutinize his role in hush payments to two women who said they had affairs with him and reports that he dangled pardons to officials willing to break the law to implement his immigration policies. Democrats also demanded documents last week related to whether his resort properties illegally profited from government business.

“The central oversight perspective so far has been focused on the Mueller report,” said Representative Jamie Raskin, Democrat of Maryland and a former constitutional law professor who sits on the Judiciary Committee. “We need to broaden out the oversight work to get a complete picture of the lawlessness of the administration. That is the imperative for the fall season.”

Whether Democrats’ agenda will result in a House vote to impeach a president for only the third time in American history remains the most significant unanswered question of Mr. Trump’s presidency, one that could shape his bid for re-election and his prospects of notching any additional legislative accomplishments in his first term.

But even the most ardent supporters of impeachment conceded that time might already be short, with only around 40 days in session left before the end of the year and a slew of issues on Capitol Hill that could sap additional time and energy. Congress must fund the government in the coming weeks, and lawmakers in both parties want meaningful legislative debates over Mr. Trump’s trade deal with Mexico and Canada, gun safety legislation and bolstering election security.

Most House Democrats now privately agree that Mr. Trump’s behavior clears the bar for an impeachment vote — some reached the conclusion over the six-week recess that just ended — but the politics of doing so are more complicated and their leaders appear no closer to a decision on whether to proceed.

The Judiciary Committee’s chairman, Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York, has indicated that the panel will most likely determine late this year whether to advance impeachment articles, and aides have privately argued that they cannot wait much longer to leave enough time to vote and try a case in the Senate before the 2020 election more forcefully diverts attention.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_158490405_24c32988-8059-4774-b34a-8cde871d3b03-articleLarge Democrats to Broaden Impeachment Inquiry Into Trump to Corruption Accusations United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Special Prosecutors (Independent Counsel) Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Nadler, Jerrold Mueller, Robert S III McGahn, Donald F II Lewandowski, Corey (1975- ) impeachment House Committee on the Judiciary Corruption (Institutional) Constitution (US) Clifford, Stephanie (1979- ) Campaign Finance Amnesties, Commutations and Pardons

Speaker Nancy Pelosi told colleagues during a private call last month that the public still “isn’t there on impeachment.”CreditTom Brenner for The New York Times

Just as consequentially, court cases have hamstrung Democrats’ ability to stage potentially powerful public hearings — in part as a result of Mr. Trump’s stonewalling of congressional oversight efforts. Rulings in two cases — one on unsealing grand jury secrets from Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation, and the other to enforce a subpoena for the former White House counsel Donald F. McGahn II — are expected this fall. They could determine whether lawmakers will be able to blunt the White House’s attempts to run out the clock by slow-walking document production and ordering major witnesses not to appear before lawmakers without a court order.

For now, Democratic congressional investigators agree they should push ahead, even if impeachment ultimately remains beyond their grasp.

“If we aren’t able to collect the evidence that we need to present a credible case before the election, well, at least maybe we will have put enough evidence out there that the public can exercise another form of regime change that is in the Constitution and vote,” said Representative Mary Gay Scanlon, a Pennsylvania Democrat on the committee.

The Judiciary Committee will take a substantial step to organize its effort this week. Lawmakers are expected to vote to establish rules and procedures governing the inquiry, including allowing staff lawyers to question witnesses and the president’s lawyers to more formally offer a defense, according to an official familiar with the committee’s plans.

Democrats began examining the hush payments and other areas of scrutiny in the spring, requesting documents and taking other early steps. But they have focused mostly on Mr. Mueller’s investigation and his account of Mr. Trump’s repeated attempts to thwart his team.

Several high-profile witnesses were subpoenaed to appear before Congress in September to discuss potential obstruction acts, including Mr. Trump’s former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and Rob Porter, a onetime White House aide. But Democratic leaders are hoping that their review of Mr. Trump’s properties, the hush payments and pardon dangling might resonate more with the public and allow lawmakers to sidestep the wall the White House has erected around witnesses related to Mr. Mueller’s inquiry.

Federal prosecutors in Manhattan investigated the payments to the pornographic film actress Stormy Daniels and to Karen McDougal, a former Playboy model, and charged Mr. Trump’s former personal lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, with violating campaign finance laws by arranging the payments. Though Mr. Trump was not named in the indictment, prosecutors referred to him as “Individual-1” and said he directed the illegal payments. Mr. Trump has acknowledged the payments, insisting they were legal. He has denied the affairs themselves.

By calling witnesses involved in the payments, Democrats believe they can make the case that Mr. Trump broke the law in his pursuit of the presidency, even through prosecutors closed the investigation without additional charges. It is not clear whether prosecutors concluded that they were bound by the Justice Department’s view that a sitting president cannot be indicted.

Westlake Legal Group mueller-report-citations-promo-1555718437298-articleLarge-v3 Democrats to Broaden Impeachment Inquiry Into Trump to Corruption Accusations United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Special Prosecutors (Independent Counsel) Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Nadler, Jerrold Mueller, Robert S III McGahn, Donald F II Lewandowski, Corey (1975- ) impeachment House Committee on the Judiciary Corruption (Institutional) Constitution (US) Clifford, Stephanie (1979- ) Campaign Finance Amnesties, Commutations and Pardons

See Which Witnesses the Mueller Report Relied on Most

A partially redacted report of the special counsel’s findings released on April 18 cited interviews with 43 individuals at least 10 times.

By broadcasting the details of Mr. Trump’s repeated efforts to drive government business to his family’s hotels, clubs and resorts, Democrats hope they can convince Americans that Mr. Trump is trying to profit off the presidency, a potential violation of the Constitution’s emoluments clauses. Mr. Trump has repeatedly rejected that accusation and turned over management of his company, the Trump Organization, to his oldest sons and an executive through a trust, though he is its sole beneficiary.

Democrats have also framed Mr. Trump’s reported offers to pardon aides willing to break the law to carry out his immigration policies as part of a pattern that also includes his efforts to impede Mr. Mueller’s investigators. The committee ordered Department of Homeland Security officials last week to hand over records related to the overtures, which Mr. Trump has denied and White House aides have said were jokes.

Democrats are largely united in their approach to casting Mr. Trump as abusing his power and plan to advance legislation to fight foreign election interference and misinformation campaigns, according to the speaker’s office.

But their stance has only loosely papered over internal differences about any impeachment vote, and party leaders could be forced to confront a messier intraparty conflict in the coming months based on how they decide to proceed.

Some of the House’s most liberal lawmakers appear to be growing tired of the methodical pace laid out by leadership and are prepared to argue more forcefully that allowing Mr. Trump to skirt punishment for his actions could free future presidents from congressional constraints on their powers.

Representative Steve Cohen, Democrat of Tennessee and a senior member of the Judiciary Committee, said he spent August updating his own articles of impeachment accusing the president of emoluments violations, obstruction of justice, welcoming Russia’s election interference and unconstitutional attacks on the courts and the news media.

“I’m going to try to find out how many people are willing to stand up and vote for impeachment,” he said. “I understand the speaker and the chairman’s attitude about wanting to bring out all this proof. The proof is already there.”

Liberal advocacy groups had hoped to push the party during the August recess toward an impeachment vote by stirring up a groundswell of grass-roots support. But many moderate lawmakers opposed to impeachment emerged from August further convinced that their reticence was justified by voters’ lack of interest in impeachment and that the president was best voted out of office instead of removed.

That split may force impeachment advocates toward a compromise. With the Republican-controlled Senate highly likely to acquit Mr. Trump even if the House’s case were put to trial, some Democrats have begun raising another possibility: that the Judiciary Committee could draft articles of impeachment, vote them out of the panel but never bring them to the floor of the House — offering the public an election-year indictment of sorts without ever bringing the president to trial.

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New Charges in Stormy Daniels Hush Money Inquiry Are Unlikely, Prosecutors Signal

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Federal prosecutors signaled in a court document released on Thursday that it was unlikely they would file additional charges in the hush-money investigation that ensnared members of Donald J. Trump’s inner circle and threatened to derail his presidency.

In the document, the prosecutors said they had “effectively concluded” their inquiry, which centered on payments made during the 2016 presidential campaign to buy the silence of two women who said they had had affairs with Mr. Trump.

The outcome appeared to be a legal victory for Mr. Trump, whom prosecutors implicated last year in directing the payments. Mr. Trump had denied the affairs and any wrongdoing, but his aides considered the inquiry a greater threat than even the special counsel’s investigation into Russian interference in the election.

At the same time, other documents released on Thursday offered the government’s most detailed account yet of Mr. Trump’s involvement in the hush-money payments, showing he was in close touch with Michael D. Cohen, the president’s former lawyer and fixer, while the payments were being arranged. The day before paying $130,000 to Stormy Daniels, a pornographic film actress, in October 2016, Mr. Cohen spoke on the phone with Mr. Trump twice. Less than 30 minutes later, Mr. Cohen took steps to open a bank account to pay the woman, the documents showed.

Read About Trump’s Involvement in the Hush Money Investigation

An F.B.I. document details the president’s close contact with Michael Cohen.

Westlake Legal Group thumbnail New Charges in Stormy Daniels Hush Money Inquiry Are Unlikely, Prosecutors Signal United States Trump, Donald J Politics and Government McDougal, Karen (1971- ) Manhattan (NYC) Cohen, Michael D (1966- ) Clifford, Stephanie (1979- ) Campaign Finance   269 pages, 4.44 MB

Mr. Cohen also spoke with President Trump the day after wiring the money to the woman’s lawyer, the documents said. Although it is not known what was said during the phone calls, the new disclosures seem to contradict repeated statements by Mr. Trump, and those close to him, that they were unaware that Mr. Cohen had arranged the payments.

The documents did not address what led the prosecutors with the United States attorney’s office in Manhattan to conclude their inquiry, but people briefed on the matter said that earlier this year investigators had encountered obstacles to filing additional charges.

With Mr. Trump, the prosecutors were limited by more than just a Justice Department policy that bars charging a sitting president with a federal crime, one of the people said. Prosecutors also grappled with whether they had enough evidence to show that Mr. Trump had understood campaign finance laws and had intentionally violated them.

The investigators also struggled to gain access to at least one encrypted electronic device that may have contained additional evidence, the people said. It is unclear who the device belonged to and whether the investigators ultimately reviewed its contents.

On Thursday, the prosecutors revealed for the first time that they had expanded their investigation from campaign finance violations to include whether “certain individuals” lied to investigators or tried to obstruct the inquiry.

A brief report filed by prosecutors did not identify the subjects of those investigations, although it contained redactions of what appeared to be at least one name. That investigation has also ended, prosecutors said, although they did not explicitly say that charges would not be filed.

As recently as this spring, prosecutors were still considering whether one Trump Organization executive was untruthful when testifying before the grand jury, according to people briefed on the matter.

The Trump Organization reimbursed Mr. Cohen for the hush money he paid to Ms. Daniels. Mr. Cohen also urged American Media Inc., which publishes The National Enquirer, to buy the rights to a former Playboy model’s story of an affair with Mr. Trump. Both deals effectively silenced the women in the run-up to the 2016 election.

A spokeswoman for the Trump Organization did not respond to a request for comment. Jay Sekulow, a lawyer for Mr. Trump, said simply, “Case closed.”

Mr. Cohen pleaded guilty in the case. He has said he helped arrange the hush money at the direction of Mr. Trump, and prosecutors have since repeated the accusation in court papers. Mr. Cohen is serving a three-year prison sentence.

In a statement from a federal prison in Otisville, N.Y., Mr. Cohen criticized the decision to end the inquiry.

How Michael Cohen Turned Against President Trump

April 21, 2019

Westlake Legal Group 00trumpcohen-threeByTwoSmallAt2X-v4 New Charges in Stormy Daniels Hush Money Inquiry Are Unlikely, Prosecutors Signal United States Trump, Donald J Politics and Government McDougal, Karen (1971- ) Manhattan (NYC) Cohen, Michael D (1966- ) Clifford, Stephanie (1979- ) Campaign Finance

“The conclusion of the investigation exonerating the Trump Organization’s role should be of great concern to the American people and investigated by Congress and the Department of Justice,” Mr. Cohen said.

The president’s critics in Congress, citing the new disclosures about Mr. Trump’s contact with Mr. Cohen around the time of the payments, argued that there was sufficient evidence to bring criminal charges against Mr. Trump but for the Justice Department policy.

“The inescapable conclusion from all of the public materials available now is that there was ample evidence to charge Donald Trump with the same criminal election law violations for which Michael Cohen pled guilty,” Representative Adam Schiff, the California Democrat who chairs the House Intelligence Committee, said in a statement.

The documents released on Thursday were related to a 2018 raid on Mr. Cohen’s home and office. The prosecutors initially had released the documents in March, with nearly every detail of the campaign finance evidence redacted.

On Wednesday, a federal judge in Manhattan, William H. Pauley III, had ordered prosecutors to release the records without redactions.

The search warrant documents shed light on the breadth of evidence the prosecutors amassed against Mr. Cohen even before searching his property and interviewing a number of witnesses. The prosecutors had access to many of his text messages with American Media executives and a lawyer for the two women as well as records of his calls with Mr. Trump.

The documents detail the lengths Mr. Cohen and Trump campaign aides went — in the final stretch of the campaign — to prevent the public from learning about Ms. Daniels and Karen McDougal, the Playboy model.

Hope Hicks, who was Mr. Trump’s campaign spokeswoman and a trusted aide, had a more substantial role in discussions about the hush money payments than had been previously known.

Westlake Legal Group trump-presidents-investigations-promo-1557500573411-articleLarge-v4 New Charges in Stormy Daniels Hush Money Inquiry Are Unlikely, Prosecutors Signal United States Trump, Donald J Politics and Government McDougal, Karen (1971- ) Manhattan (NYC) Cohen, Michael D (1966- ) Clifford, Stephanie (1979- ) Campaign Finance

Tracking 29 Investigations Related to Trump

Federal, state and congressional authorities are investigating Donald J. Trump’s businesses, campaign, inauguration and presidency.

In October 2016, in the days leading up to the payments to Ms. Daniels, Ms. Hicks took part in a series of telephone calls, text messages and email messages. They were with Mr. Cohen, Mr. Trump, Ms. Daniel’s lawyer and two American Media executives — including the head of the company, David J. Pecker, Mr. Trump’s longtime friend.

“Based on the timing of these calls, and the content of the text messages and emails, I believe that at least some of these communications concerned the need to prevent Clifford from going public,” an F.B.I. agent wrote in one of the documents, using Ms. Daniels’s real name, Stephanie Clifford.

A lawyer for Ms. Hicks declined to comment.

The day after Mr. Cohen sent the $130,000 payment to the lawyer for Ms. Daniels, he spoke to Mr. Trump for about five minutes. That evening, the lawyer, Keith Davidson, texted Mr. Cohen that “all is AOK,” assuring him that Ms. Daniels would sign a nondisclosure agreement soon.

“I hope we are good,” Mr. Cohen wrote to Mr. Davidson, who responded: “I assure you. We are very good.”

In early November 2016, The Wall Street Journal reported on American Media’s arrangement with Ms. McDougal, who received $150,000 from the tabloid company. The next day, Mr. Cohen texted Ms. Hicks that the story was “Getting little to no traction.” Ms. Hicks responded, “Keep praying!! It’s working!”

Later that day, Mr. Trump spoke with Mr. Pecker, according to one of the documents. Mr. Pecker cooperated with prosecutors, earning American Media a nonprosecution agreement.

Mr. Trump won the election three days later.

Maggie Haberman contributed reporting.

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New Charges in Trump Campaign Finance Inquiry Are Unlikely, Prosecutors Signal

Federal prosecutors signaled in a court document released on Thursday that it was unlikely they would file additional charges in the hush-money investigation that ensnared members of Donald J. Trump’s inner circle and threatened to derail his presidency.

In the document, the prosecutors said they had “effectively concluded” their inquiry, which centered on payments made during the 2016 presidential campaign to buy the silence of two women who said they had had affairs with Mr. Trump.

At the same time, other newly released documents from the investigation showed that Mr. Trump was in close touch with Michael D. Cohen, the president’s former lawyer and fixer, when he was arranging the payments.

The day before paying one of the women $130,000, Mr. Cohen spoke twice on the phone with Mr. Trump, according to the documents, which said that “less than thirty minutes after speaking to Trump,” Mr. Cohen took steps to open a bank account to pay the woman.

He also spoke with President Trump the day after wiring the money to the woman’s lawyer, the documents said. It is not known what was said during the phone calls.

For the first time, the prosecutors with the United States attorney’s office in Manhattan also revealed in one document that they had expanded their investigation from campaign finance violations to include whether “certain individuals” lied to investigators or tried to obstruct the inquiry.

The brief report did not identify the subjects of those investigations, although it contained redactions of what appeared to be at least one name. That investigation has also ended, prosecutors said.

As recently as this spring, prosecutors were still considering whether one Trump Organization executive was untruthful when testifying before the grand jury, according to people briefed on the matter.

The Trump Organization reimbursed Mr. Cohen for the hush money he paid to Stormy Daniels, a pornographic film actress. Mr. Cohen also urged American Media Inc., which publishes The National Enquirer, to buy the rights to a former Playboy model’s story of an affair with Mr. Trump. Both deals effectively silenced the women in the run-up to the 2016 election.

A lawyer for the Trump Organization could not immediately be reached for comment.

Mr. Cohen pleaded guilty in the case. He has said he helped arrange the hush money at the direction of Mr. Trump, and prosecutors have since repeated the accusation in court papers. Mr. Cohen is serving a three-year prison sentence.

In a statement from a federal prison in Otisville, N.Y., Mr. Cohen criticized the decision to end the inquiry.

“The conclusion of the investigation exonerating the Trump Organization’s role should be of great concern to the American people and investigated by Congress and the Department of Justice,” Mr. Cohen said.

Westlake Legal Group trump-presidents-investigations-promo-1557500573411-articleLarge-v4 New Charges in Trump Campaign Finance Inquiry Are Unlikely, Prosecutors Signal United States Trump, Donald J Politics and Government McDougal, Karen (1971- ) Manhattan (NYC) Cohen, Michael D (1966- ) Clifford, Stephanie (1979- ) Campaign Finance

Tracking 29 Investigations Related to Trump

Federal, state and congressional authorities are investigating Donald J. Trump’s businesses, campaign, inauguration and presidency.

Mr. Trump has denied the affairs and any campaign finance violations.

The documents were related to a 2018 raid on Mr. Cohen’s home and office. The prosecutors initially had released the documents in March, with nearly every detail of the campaign finance evidence redacted.

On Wednesday, a federal judge in Manhattan, William H. Pauley III, had ordered prosecutors to release the records without redactions.

The search warrant documents shed light on the breadth of evidence the prosecutors amassed against Mr. Cohen even before searching his property and interviewing a number of witnesses.

Maggie Haberman contributed reporting.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

New Charges in Trump Campaign Finance Inquiry Are Unlikely, Prosecutors Signal

Federal prosecutors signaled in a court document released on Thursday that it was unlikely they would file additional charges in the hush-money investigation that ensnared members of Donald J. Trump’s inner circle and threatened to derail his presidency.

In the document, the prosecutors said they had “effectively concluded” their inquiry, which centered on payments made during the 2016 presidential campaign to buy the silence of two women who said they had had affairs with Mr. Trump.

At the same time, other newly released documents from the investigation showed that Mr. Trump was in close touch with Michael D. Cohen, the president’s former lawyer and fixer, when he was arranging the payments.

The day before paying one of the women $130,000, Mr. Cohen spoke twice on the phone with Mr. Trump, according to the documents, which said that “less than thirty minutes after speaking to Trump,” Mr. Cohen took steps to open a bank account to pay the woman.

He also spoke with President Trump the day after wiring the money to the woman’s lawyer, the documents said. It is not known what was said during the phone calls.

For the first time, the prosecutors with the United States attorney’s office in Manhattan also revealed in one document that they had expanded their investigation from campaign finance violations to include whether “certain individuals” lied to investigators or tried to obstruct the inquiry.

The brief report did not identify the subjects of those investigations, although it contained redactions of what appeared to be at least one name. That investigation has also ended, prosecutors said.

As recently as this spring, prosecutors were still considering whether one Trump Organization executive was untruthful when testifying before the grand jury, according to people briefed on the matter.

The Trump Organization reimbursed Mr. Cohen for the hush money he paid to Stormy Daniels, a pornographic film actress. Mr. Cohen also urged American Media Inc., which publishes The National Enquirer, to buy the rights to a former Playboy model’s story of an affair with Mr. Trump. Both deals effectively silenced the women in the run-up to the 2016 election.

A lawyer for the Trump Organization could not immediately be reached for comment.

Mr. Cohen pleaded guilty in the case. He has said he helped arrange the hush money at the direction of Mr. Trump, and prosecutors have since repeated the accusation in court papers. Mr. Cohen is serving a three-year prison sentence.

In a statement from a federal prison in Otisville, N.Y., Mr. Cohen criticized the decision to end the inquiry.

“The conclusion of the investigation exonerating the Trump Organization’s role should be of great concern to the American people and investigated by Congress and the Department of Justice,” Mr. Cohen said.

Westlake Legal Group trump-presidents-investigations-promo-1557500573411-articleLarge-v4 New Charges in Trump Campaign Finance Inquiry Are Unlikely, Prosecutors Signal United States Trump, Donald J Politics and Government McDougal, Karen (1971- ) Manhattan (NYC) Cohen, Michael D (1966- ) Clifford, Stephanie (1979- ) Campaign Finance

Tracking 29 Investigations Related to Trump

Federal, state and congressional authorities are investigating Donald J. Trump’s businesses, campaign, inauguration and presidency.

Mr. Trump has denied the affairs and any campaign finance violations.

The documents were related to a 2018 raid on Mr. Cohen’s home and office. The prosecutors initially had released the documents in March, with nearly every detail of the campaign finance evidence redacted.

On Wednesday, a federal judge in Manhattan, William H. Pauley III, had ordered prosecutors to release the records without redactions.

The search warrant documents shed light on the breadth of evidence the prosecutors amassed against Mr. Cohen even before searching his property and interviewing a number of witnesses.

Maggie Haberman contributed reporting.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Why It Matters That Trump and Michael Cohen Had a Falling Out

Westlake Legal Group 21trumpcohentakeaways-alt-facebookJumbo Why It Matters That Trump and Michael Cohen Had a Falling Out United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Trump Organization Special Prosecutors (Independent Counsel) Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Mueller, Robert S III Justice Department Federal Taxes (US) Federal Bureau of Investigation Cummings, Elijah E Cohen, Michael D (1966- ) Clifford, Stephanie (1979- ) Campaign Finance Adultery

Fixer. The title wasn’t a formal one, but Michael D. Cohen wholeheartedly embraced the role as a lawyer at the Trump Organization. It amounted to serving as chief problem solver for Donald J. Trump, offering Mr. Cohen an unusually up-close view of his boss’s personal and professional lives.

Mr. Cohen was often at Mr. Trump’s side in the decade before he became president, including helping him sort out difficulties leading up to the 2016 election. Most famously, he helped arrange hush money payments to two women — including the pornographic film actress Stormy Daniels — who claimed to have had affairs with Mr. Trump.

His unflinching loyalty to his boss often went unreciprocated. And it was this imbalance that left the two men on perilous ground last April, after the Federal Bureau of Investigation raided Mr. Cohen’s home, office and hotel room. The searches were part of an inquiry, in the office of the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York, that grew out of Robert S. Mueller III’s examination of Russian election meddling.

Mr. Cohen would ultimately plead guilty to multiple crimes, and is scheduled to begin serving a three-year prison term on May 6. After months of indecision, he turned on Mr. Trump last summer and has since spoken to the Southern District prosecutors about the Trump family business and more, as well as providing information to the office of the special counsel, Mr. Mueller.

A review by The New York Times of confidential emails, text messages and other communications suggest the men’s falling out may have been avoidable. Either way, its consequences have cast a shadow on the Trump presidency.

Here are five reasons the undoing of their relationship matters.

Federal prosecutors in Manhattan effectively characterized Mr. Trump as an unindicted co-conspirator in the hush money payments, which violated campaign finance laws because they were made to influence the outcome of the election.

At his plea hearing, Mr. Cohen said he had made the payments at Mr. Trump’s direction, which was consistent with other evidence prosecutors had gathered.

Under current Justice Department policy, a president cannot be charged with a crime. But when a president is no longer in office, prosecutors are free to bring charges — a possibility cited in the Mueller report released on Thursday.

Mr. Cohen did not enter into a formal cooperation agreement with the Southern District prosecutors, but voluntarily met with them about his knowledge of Mr. Trump’s family, business and inner circle.

If the prosecutors determine that he provided them with useful information, it is possible his three-year sentence could be reduced, under federal sentencing rules. As such, Mr. Trump and others have dismissed his cooperation as a desperate play for leniency.

So far his information has helped several investigations, including one examining aspects of Mr. Trump’s inaugural festivities.

Since turning on his former boss, Mr. Cohen has become one of Mr. Trump’s fiercest critics, offering fodder for the president’s detractors.

Mr. Cohen laid into the president in testimony before Congress in late February, exposing what he described as the dark underside of the president’s business and political life. “He is a racist. He is a con man. And he is a cheat,” Mr. Cohen testified.

During the hearing, Trump defenders repeatedly questioned the veracity of Mr. Cohen’s statements, especially because he had pleaded guilty last year to lying to Congress during an earlier appearance about Mr. Trump’s dealings in Moscow.

But Mr. Cohen said he was coming clean.

“I have fixed things, but I am no longer your ‘fixer,’ Mr. Trump,” Mr. Cohen said.

Mr. Cohen’s testimony has also provided something of a road map for congressional investigators looking into Mr. Trump’s finances. Last week, the House Committee on Oversight and Reform subpoenaed records from Mazars USA, an accounting firm that had for many years prepared Mr. Trumps taxes.

The committee chairman, Elijah Cummings of Maryland, a Democrat, said he was seeking the records because of Mr. Cohen’s testimony that Mr. Trump had overstated his assets before he was elected.

Mr. Cohen had provided the panel with copies of financial statements that indicated Mr. Trump’s net worth skyrocketed to $8.66 billion in 2013 from $4.55 billion the previous year as a result of a line item identified as “brand value.”

But the committee’s ranking Republican, Jim Jordan of Ohio, said no valid legislative purpose was served by the subpoena, suggesting it was meant to embarrass the president.

The status of several of criminal investigations that grew out of Mr. Cohen’s interviews with federal prosecutors remains unclear. But as recently as February, a judge disclosed that the hush money inquiry focused on Trump Organization officials remained open.

In New York, several inquiries undertaken by state authorities in response to Mr. Cohen’s congressional testimony are still active. They include one by the attorney general into Mr. Trump’s real estate projects, and another by state regulators into his insurance practices.

And as Mr. Cohen’s May 6 surrender date nears, his lawyers appear to be making a last-ditch effort to keep him out of prison. They wrote earlier this month to Democratic members of Congress, asking them to endorse a campaign to reduce his sentence or postpone his surrender. But the effort does not appear to have borne fruit.

Mr. Cohen’s three-year prison term is the longest yet from any case that grew out of the special counsel’s inquiry, after that of Paul J. Manafort, who was sentenced to over seven years in prison.

Nonetheless, the redacted version of the Mueller report indicates that federal authorities were debriefing Mr. Cohen as recently as last month.

The full range of topics discussed is not known. But footnotes point to an F.B.I. document, dated March 19, based on an interview with Mr. Cohen. The document is cited in connection with statements he made about his conversations with the president after the F.B.I. raid and about a Trump Tower project in Russia, as well as discussions with the president’s lawyer about a possible pardon.

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