donald trump
Credit: Gage Skidmore/flickr

We all know that, during his business career, Donald Trump worked with some pretty unsavory characters, including people involved in organized crime. That is simply a matter of public record. But he is now serving as President of the United States and so it is shocking to hear someone in that position being compared to a mob boss.

Today ABC News released a promo for the interview George Stephanopoulos conducted with James Comey, which will air this Sunday.

YouTube video

The first question in that clip indicates that as part of the discussion, the former director of the FBI had compared the president to a mob boss. That is extraordinary.

It has often been suggested that Mueller’s inquiry mirrors how the FBI has typically conducted investigations of the mob. John Cassidy has done a great job of making that case.

More and more, this is looking like a mobster roll-up of the type that some of Mueller’s team of ace prosecutors previously specialized in. In the beginning, the feds target one or two low-level insiders with legal vulnerabilities, obtain court orders to monitor their activities, and, hopefully, get them to coöperate with the government. Gradually, the investigators work their way up the chain of command to the crew captains—the capos—and, eventually, to the boss of bosses, the capo dei capi.

In this case, George Papadopoulos, a foreign-policy adviser to the Trump campaign who met with people with links to the Kremlin, provided the low-level entry points. The capos included Mike Flynn, Trump’s former national-security adviser; Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign manager; and Rick Gates, Manafort’s former partner, who served as the campaign’s deputy chairman. Of these four Trump associates, three—Papadopoulos, Flynn, and Gates—are already coöperating with Muller, having pleaded guilty to felonies. And Manafort, facing serious financial charges in two courts, is under strong pressure to flip.

At the very least, what we already know is that, just as in business, Trump surrounded himself with unsavory characters while running for president. What Mueller is investigating is how “organized” all of that was around a conspiracy to collude with the Russians.

With the raid on Michael Cohen’s offices, we now have a second criminal investigation of Trump and his associates being conducted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York. As Adam Davidson tweeted yesterday:

[Cohen] was a deal maker…We know, of course, that the Trump Org did business with corrupt politicians, sanctions-violators, money launderers, etc. The only open question is how much they knew about their partners’ activity. Cohen knows how much they knew. He knows what he told them.

In other words, Cohen is the key to unlocking the question of whether any of Trump’s business dealings with these unsavory characters amounted to organized criminal activity—including what happened both before and during the campaign.

The President of the United States has consistently surrounded himself with criminals and is now the subject of two criminal investigations. That’s why it’s not necessarily a stretch to compare him to a mob boss. The appropriate response to that conclusion is: “Holy sh*t!”

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