Special counsel Robert Mueller has reportedly referred an immigration-related case involving one of President Donald Trump‘s numerous golf clubs to the the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and now multiple law enforcement agencies are said to be involved.
According to the New York Daily News, prosecutors in New Jersey–led by the New Jersey Attorney General’s office–have obtained evidence that supervisors at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster may have committed federal immigration crimes and are currently working with the FBI after receiving the referral from Mueller’s office.
Anibal Romero is an attorney who represents undocumented immigrants previously employed by Trump’s Garden State club. In comments to the Daily News, Romero said that he recently met with state investigators and passed along fraudulent green cards and Social Security numbers used by his clients Victorina Morales and Sandra Diaz. Those false pieces of documentation were allegedly secured by managers at Trump’s club and then furnished to Romero’s clients.
Readers may recall an exposé from early December published by the New York Times which detailed the consternation felt by Morales and Diaz due to the wide gulf between the 45th president’s anti-immigrant rhetoric and policies–and the longstanding use of undocumented immigrants at his Bedminster club.
As the Times noted in that report:
“There are many people without papers,” said Ms. Diaz, who said she witnessed several people being hired whom she knew to be undocumented…
Ms. Morales expects she will have to leave her job as soon as her name and work status are made public. She understands she could be deported. But she also says she is certain that her employers — perhaps even Mr. Trump — knew of her unlawful status all along.
“I ask myself, is it possible that this señor thinks we have papers? He knows we don’t speak English,” Ms. Morales said. “Why wouldn’t he figure it out?”
(For an extended discussion of the legal issues implicated by such hiring practices, see Law&Crime’s earlier analysis here.)
Prior to his meeting with state officials, Romero reached out to Mueller’s office. The Newark-based attorney said he went this route because he was intent on contacting federal authorities but had concerns about the anti-immigration agenda of the Department of Justice under then-attorney general Jeff Sessions.
“I wasn’t sure, one, if they’d take me seriously and, two, if this could backfire on my clients,” Romero told the Daily News.
Mueller’s office apparently got back in touch with Romero and determined that the matter was beyond their jurisdiction. The special counsel’s office has been given wide latitude in their investigation into obstruction of justice and Russian interference during the 2016 general election–and has gone after white collar crimes and other instances of corruption–but apparently immigration-related concerns in New Jersey are one Bruce Springsteen-eulogized bridge too far.
Weeks later, however, an FBI agent called Romero.
“He said to me that he had received a referral from Robert Mueller’s office and that he already knew the specifics and that he wanted to meet with me in person,” Romero told the Daily News.
After that, Romero says he met with two agents at an office in New Jersey and went over the same evidence that was, by then, in the hands of state prosecutors. Romero said the agents told him they would “coordinate” with the New Jersey State Attorney General’s office.
“I’m confident that federal and state authorities will conduct a complete and thorough investigation,” Romero said.
[image via Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images]