The Wall Street Journal recently broke the story that Allen Weisselberg had been granted immunity by federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York.
Weisselberg is the longtime chief financial officer of the Trump Organization and also serves as the treasurer of the Trump Foundation.
The CFO has been with the Trump family since 1970, when he began working for President Donald Trump’s father, Fred Trump. Weisselberg currently co-manages the Trump businesses along with President Trump’s adult sons.
Weisselberg was called to testify to a grand jury earlier this summer. As the CFO, he presumably has a wealth of knowledge about the Trump Organization’s internal cash flow.
Presently, Weisselberg has been given immunity related solely to the payments that Michael Cohen made to two women with whom Trump allegedly had affairs. However, through use of the same above-described investigation, prosecutors could potentially subpoena additional records from the company, and the investigation could undergo a further expansion.
Through use of the offices of the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, it appears as though the legal team of Special Counsel Robert Mueller has obtained a foothold with which to examine President Trump’s private businesses activities.
A look at how the investigation initially came into existence helps to provide insight regarding the current direction of the probe.
In May 2017, through an order issued by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, Mueller, a colleague of Rosenstein, was appointed to the position of special counsel, following the dismissal of FBI Director James Comey.
Questions about conflicts of interest arose, including those surrounding the situation in which Mueller had unsuccessfully interviewed for the position of FBI director the day prior to his appointment as special counsel. Mueller’s appointment materialized after a push had taken place, primarily on the part of Democrats, for Attorney General Jeff Sessions to recuse himself, and Sessions acceded to the demands.
The language used in the appointment of the special counsel was broad in scope and essentially gave Mueller carte blanche to investigate without restrictions or limits on length, breadth, and/or monetary considerations.
Mueller went on to assemble what appeared to be a highly partisan team, which included the following individuals:
-Senior prosecutor Andrew Weissmann, who attended 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s election night gathering and also sent a congratulatory email to former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates after she blocked the so-called travel ban that had been issued in the early days of the Trump administration;
-Jeannie Rhee, a lawyer who represented the Clinton Foundation and also worked for Ben Rhodes, a former Obama administration NSA deputy director;
-Aaron Zebley, who represented the individual who installed Hillary’s private email server and who was also involved in the destruction of some Blackberry devices;
-Peter Strzok, former Chief of the Counterespionage Section of the FBI, who had led the tepid FBI investigation into Hillary’s use of a private email server, and who also initiated the aggressive investigation of the Trump campaign, which led to the Mueller appointment;
-Lawyer Lisa Page, Strzok’s colleague and paramour, who had exchanged text messages that revealed a bias against then-candidate Trump. Both Page and Strzok were removed from Mueller’s team for public relations reasons, according to the testimony of Strzok.
In 2009 Harvey Silverglate penned the book “Three Felonies a Day: How the Feds Target the Innocent.” In the foreword to the book, Harvard Law School Professor Alan Dershowitz discusses his experiences litigating cases in the old Soviet Union. Dershowitz notes that, due to vague interpretations of Russian laws, anyone could be prosecuted. The professor reminds us that it was Lavrentiy Beria, the infamous henchman of Joseph Stalin, who assured the dictator of the following: “Show me the man and I’ll find you the crime.”
The investigation was born amid multiple misgivings, which included, among other things, dubious FISA warrants obtained with a dossier paid for by the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee. Contributing to the cloud of confusion that continues to surround the investigation is the fact that from its beginnings it had been minus a mandate of a specific crime with which it had been tasked to investigate, and the investigatory team has continued in its growth pattern.