Former acting U.S. Solicitor General Neal Katyal, who happens to be the author of the special counsel regulations empowering Robert Mueller to prosecute, said on CNN’s New Day that the “unmistakable implication” of Michael Cohen‘s Wednesday testimony before the House Oversight Committee was that there does not seem to be anyone President Donald Trump has hired who hasn’t lied or committed crimes.
“It’s pretty astounding because you already have Cohen naming a whole bunch of crimes that Donald Trump had committed and then you had a whole bunch of people that he identified who worked for Trump who were part of this criminal conspiracy and who themselves lied,” Katyal said, after a clip of Cohen implicating Trump in yet-to-be-specified crimes was played.
“You almost have to wonder: Is there anyone Donald Trump was hiring who wasn’t lying and committing crimes? That’s the unmistakable implication of yesterday’s testimony,” Katyal said.
Cohen did name names in response to questions from members of Congress. One of the most striking exchanges occurred when Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez asked Cohen point-blank if Trump had ever “provide[d] inflated assets to an insurance company.” Cohen not only replied with a “yes,” he also named people who would know about this: Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg, and two other executives identified as Ron Lieberman and Matthew Calamari.
Cohen also said that those “financial statements and his tax returns” should be compared and that the relevant information could be found at the Trump Organization. This immediately raised questions about insurance fraud and wire fraud.
To Katyal’s point about Trump hires committing crimes and lying, one need look no further than the numerous convictions that have come out of Mueller’s investigations involving Trump campaign employees. Cohen, Rick Gates, Paul Manafort, Michael Flynn, and George Papadopoulos have all pleaded guilty to crimes, while the fate of Trump’s long-time friend and adviser Roger Stone hangs in the balance.
The aforementioned Weisselberg has already received an immunity deal from the Southern District of New York in exchange for his cooperation in ongoing investigations. Although his cooperation was initially seen as restricted to the criminal campaign finance violations (hush payments) that Cohen pleaded guilty to, as the chief financial officer of the Trump Organization it’s safe to say he would know where the proverbial bodies are buried.
[Image via CNN screengrab]
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