Former Trump Organization vice president Michael Cohen is on Capitol Hill again on Wednesday, testifying for a second time in a closed session of the House Intelligence Committee. It’s not clear precisely what they’ll be discussing, but committee chairman Adam Schiff spoke to the media after Cohen’s first appearance and made clear that they’re focused on documents.
“We are in communication with, obviously, Mr. Cohen and his counsel about further document requests following our interview today that we’ll be able to discuss at our next session,” Schiff said after Cohen had finished for the day. “We also went through documents in our possession, dozens of documents in our possession with Mr. Cohen, but we have additional document requests that we will be in discussion with him about.”
Of course, the documents are supposed to help explain criminal conspiracies involving the president of the United States. It’s beginning to look like the case against Donald Trump is going to be a demonstration of truly pervasive criminality.
In October 2018, the New York Times published overwhelming evidence that Trump has been a world class tax-cheat. David Fahrenthold of the Washington Post has already won a Pulitzer Prize for his exposure of Trump’s fraudulent charities and charitable giving. House Financial Services Committee chairwoman Maxine Waters is going to be investigating the Donald J. Trump Foundation, but it has already been shut down by the then-New York attorney general who said her investigation found “a shocking pattern of illegality involving the Trump Foundation — including unlawful coordination with the Trump presidential campaign, repeated and willful self-dealing, and much more.”
After Michael Cohen said in his public testimony before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that Trump has engaged in insurance fraud, the New York Department of Financial Services issued subpoenas to the Trump Organization’s insurance brokerage firm. Two weeks ago, the Department of Justice’s Southern District of New York “served a very broad subpoena on the Trump inaugural committee.”
Then there is the emoluments issue:
Prosecutors for the state of Maryland and the District of Columbia have subpoenaed a company owned by Donald Trump, seeking information about the president’s possible violations of the emoluments clause of the Constitution. According to The Times of London, Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh and D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine demanded the financial filings of DJT Holdings LLC—which owns the president’s Scotland resorts, as well as Trump International Hotel in Washington—as part of an investigation into whether profits from Trump’s D.C. hotel are “flowing to the president through his affiliated entities.”
Add to all of this that Michael Cohen has already pled guilty to having committed hush-money crimes under Trump’s direction, leaving the president an unindicted co-conspirator. We also have an enormous amount of criminal behavior to look at before we even begin to look at the Mueller report.
With House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler having issued 81 Russia-related subpoenas on Monday, some are arguing that the Democrats don’t have enough focus. That’s certainly the argument that law professor Jonathan Turley made in The Hill on Wednesday. Turley makes some good points in his piece, but I think what he’s missing is that the best case against Trump’s continued presence on the Oval Office is the one that simply overwhelms all doubters. First, you demonstrate that the man is manifestly a criminal. Then, once the public is convinced of this, the specific rationales for removing him almost don’t matter.
In the grand scheme of things, the Mueller report could be almost an afterthought.