The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence recently hired veteran federal prosecutor Daniel S. Goldman to spearhead a congressional inquiry into alleged ties between the Trump 2016 presidential campaign and the Russian Federation.
Goldman previously served as Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of New York (SDNY) from 2007 to 2017. Since 2018 and up until late January of this year, Goldman has engaged in no small amount of legal analysis, punditry and prognostication. What might this media record portend for the man in charge of Rep. Adam Schiff‘s (D-Calif.) “aggressive” inquiry into Trump World?
Let’s take a look.
In a March 26, 2018 opinion article for Law&Crime, Goldman more or less accurately predicted that special counsel Robert Mueller‘s two-pronged investigation into obstruction of justice and Russian electoral interference would dovetail with a series of hush money payments made by Trump apparatchiks on behalf of the president.
The Federal Election Commission has already received complaints about the Stormy Daniels payment and could impose civil penalties following an investigation. Mueller’s interest in these payments, however, is criminal in nature and likely relates to a relatively obscure campaign finance law that makes it a crime to knowingly receive or conspire to receive more than the federally-enacted limit for campaign contributions, or to cause or conspire to cause false campaign finance disclosure reports to be filed by concealing campaign contributions from the Federal Election Commission.
As it turns out, Mueller extracted grand jury testimony related to these payments and then referred the case over to the SDNY–where longtime Trump lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen eventually implicated the 45th president in a violation of campaign finance laws. Cohen also pleaded guilty to tax evasion and bank fraud.
So, that accounts a bit for Goldman’s legal acumen here–on extremely germane issues of fact and law. How might he approach the congressional investigation in an attitudinal sense? Goldman’s Twitter account might offer some clues.
On December 20, 2018, Goldman tweeted: “We do not need to wait for the Mueller report to recognize that Donald Trump is unfit to be President of the United States.” Comments like that might make the case for investigatory neutrality a bit difficult. Then again, this is a partisan inquiry embarked upon by congressional Democrats–so that’s not really what’s being offered here anyway.
Several other recent statements by Goldman underscore his likely attitude and potential prosecutorial moves going forward.
Goldman is likely operating on the assumption that Trump and/or members of his campaign engaged in criminal behavior.
“If you had any doubt whether @realDonaldTrump is a criminal, consider the language he uses for lawful search warrants and cooperating witnesses, the life blood of the criminal justice system,” Goldman tweeted on December 16, 2018–in response to Trump harshly criticizing and name-calling Cohen for testifying against him. “Only people afraid of [cooperating] witnesses and search warrants denigrate them like this.”
Goldman has also publicly chastised Republicans for standing by Trump amidst what he believes is an overwhelming amount of evidence that shows the president committed crimes.
“Why don’t you believe the president broke the law?” Goldman tweet-asked out loud to Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah). “Take Cohen’s testimony out of it, and you still have his guilty plea, AMI admission, Trump recording and sophisticated cover up. All these people protecting an ignorant man?”
The veteran SDNY prosecutor is none-too-fond of Trump’s top attorney, Rudy Giuliani–himself an SDNY alum–or his legal bona fides.
Responding to Giuliani’s insistence that Trump aide Roger Stone didn’t break the law by alerting people to forthcoming WikiLeaks disclosures, Goldman savaged hizzoner thusly:
The criminal law analogy to collusion is NOT conspiracy to hack – its [sic] conspiracy to defraud the US, as Mueller laid out quite clearly in the July GRU indictment. We’d all appreciate it if Giuliani would stick to his consulting [business] and leave the law to the rest of us.
Goldman also appears to be on the record making the argument that Trump has engaged in witness tampering.
Giuliani suggested that one of Trump’s tweets directed to Stone was simply an encouragement “not to lie.” Goldman was not having it.
“Said every witness tamperer everywhere,” he tweeted. “See, e.g. Manafort defense in June…before he pled guilty to witness tampering in September. Amazing admission that Trump was trying to “encourage” Stone – gets you most of the way to criminal violation.”
As for Goldman’s specific charge under Schiff’s investigatory mandate? The former deputy-chief of the SDNY’s organized-crime division thinks former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort is key:
Today is a good day for justice. Manafort admitted his crimes, the legitimacy of the special counsel was bolstered, and, with M’s coop, we are closer to getting to the bottom of whether any Americans conspired with Russia during the 2016 election. Everyone should support that.
— Daniel Goldman (@danielsgoldman) September 14, 2018
Goldman’s role, then, is arguably not akin to the special counsel’s. This isn’t a neutral or even a parallel investigation. Goldman was chosen for his reputation as a man who gets the goods–and he’s evidently operating on a few notable assumptions viz. the 45th president and his inner circle.
Expect professional grade fireworks here.
[image via screengrab/MSNBC]