October 7th, 2017

Back on 6 August I began to write a post with the headline: SO, WHERE IS MUELLER’S GRAND JURY GOING…? I got swept up in other writing and never finished the post. This morning, on my way to the library I stopped to listen to a segment on The New Yorker Radio Hour titled: The Trump Children Were Investigated for Fraud, but Avoided Indictment. Listening to Ave Carrillo reporting, my mind went back to the National Review piece that first sparked my interest.

Then, I wrote:

I’m not JD-impaired and most of what I know of the law I learned from Perry Mason, Jack McCoy and Dr. Dru Evarts. The last, a real person, almost set me on the path to law school, but that’s another story. All of that is to say that I’m at sea over evaluating Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s continuing investigation of President Donald John Trump and those around him.

That’s why I’m doing my best to read widely on the topic. This morning I pulled up Andrew McCarthy’s Is Mueller’s Grand Jury Impeachment Step One? for the National Review.

That story led me at the end of the month to the news that Special Counsel Robert Mueller was working with New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman on Mueller’s investigation of Paul Manafort. Josh Dawsey, reporting in Mueller teams up with New York attorney general in Manafort probe for Politico, wrote:

The cooperation is the latest indication that the federal probe into President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman is intensifying. It also could potentially provide Mueller with additional leverage to get Manafort to cooperate in the larger investigation into Trump’s campaign, as Trump does not have pardon power over state crimes. [Emphasis mine, JH]

President Donald John Trump, and his minions, may have been operating under the false impression that they would be ultimately protected by a presidential pardon. Mueller has burned that ace-in-the-hole by adding the potential for state charges to the investigation.

Which brings me to Donald Trump Jr., Ivanka Trump and Trump SoHo. Here is how How Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump, Jr., Avoided a Criminal Indictment begins:

In the spring of 2012, Donald Trump’s two eldest children, Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump, Jr., found themselves in a precarious legal position. For two years, prosecutors in the Manhattan District Attorney’s office had been building a criminal case against them for misleading prospective buyers of units in the Trump SoHo, a hotel and condo development that was failing to sell. Despite the best efforts of the siblings’ defense team, the case had not gone away. An indictment seemed like a real possibility. The evidence included e-mails from the Trumps making clear that they were aware they were using inflated figures about how well the condos were selling to lure buyers.

In one e-mail, according to four people who have seen it, the Trumps discussed how to coördinate false information they had given to prospective buyers. In another, according to a person who read the e-mails, they worried that a reporter might be on to them. In yet another, Donald, Jr., spoke reassuringly to a broker who was concerned about the false statements, saying that nobody would ever find out, because only people on the e-mail chain or in the Trump Organization knew about the deception, according to a person who saw the e-mail. There was “no doubt” that the Trump children “approved, knew of, agreed to, and intentionally inflated the numbers to make more sales,” one person who saw the e-mails told us. “They knew it was wrong.”

In 2010, when the Major Economic Crimes Bureau of the D.A.’s office opened an investigation of the siblings, the Trump Organization had hired several top New York criminal-defense lawyers to represent Donald, Jr., and Ivanka. These attorneys had met with prosecutors in the bureau several times. They conceded that their clients had made exaggerated claims, but argued that the overstatements didn’t amount to criminal misconduct. Still, the case dragged on. In a meeting with the defense team, Donald Trump, Sr., expressed frustration that the investigation had not been closed. Soon after, his longtime personal lawyer, Marc Kasowitz, entered the case.

Kasowitz, who by then had been the elder Donald Trump’s attorney for a decade, is primarily a civil litigator, with little experience in criminal matters. But, in 2012, Kasowitz donated twenty-five thousand dollars to the reëlection campaign of the Manhattan District Attorney, Cyrus Vance, Jr., making Kasowitz one of Vance’s largest donors. Kasowitz decided to bypass the lower-level prosecutors and went directly to Vance to ask that the investigation be dropped.

On May 16, 2012, Kasowitz visited Vance’s office at One Hogan Place, in downtown Manhattan—a faded edifice made famous by the television show “Law & Order.” Dan Alonso, the Chief Assistant District Attorney, and Adam Kaufmann, the chief of the investigative division, were also at the meeting, but no one from the Major Economic Crimes Bureau attended. Kasowitz did not introduce any new arguments or facts during his session. He simply repeated the arguments that the other defense lawyers had been making for months.

Ultimately, Vance overruled his own prosecutors. Three months after the meeting, he told them to drop the case. Kasowitz subsequently boasted to colleagues about representing the Trump children, according to two people. He said that the case was “really dangerous,” one person said, and that it was “amazing I got them off.” (Kasowitz denied making such a statement.)

All of this is done and dusted. Maybe.

I have no doubt that President Trump would easily throw any of his associates under the bus. Business is business.

Family, especially to Trump, is different.

I saw, but did read or even think about, this story in The GuardianIvana Trump: I talk to Donald regularly despite ‘insane’ divorce. Ivana is the mother of Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka. The hook for the story is Ivana’s book: Raising Trump, but the coincidences are piling up. Her assertion that she and Trump now speak regularly.

Children, of course, would be the primary talking point. If Trump SoHo is about to become important again, if Mueller is looking for leverage, a mother could be worried, and Marc Kasowitz’s magic could once again, be needed.

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