Tuesday, April 17, 2018

It's Mueller Time, Con't

Trump lawyer Michael Cohen is getting a lot of attention, and he's definitely under federal investigation and has been for months.  But if the goal is to find and flip the guy who knows where all the legal bodies are buried underneath all those Trump Organization properties, Bloomberg's Tim O'Brien notes that Cohen actually isn't the tastiest fish to fry, and that the real person Mueller and/or US Attorneys in New York want to flip is the Trump Organization's former executive VP: Jason Greenblatt.

Greenblatt specialized in real-estate law at a major New York firm before signing on with the Trump Organization in 1997. He soon became Trump's true in-house counsel and the company's executive vice president. Everything that mattered in the Trump Organization, every sizable deal or sensitive transaction, required Greenblatt's signature, not Cohen's. Allen Weisselberg, the Trump Organization's chief financial officer, has played a similar role when it comes to the company's finances. 
At the end of 2016, Greenblatt left the Trump Organization after the president made him a special representative for international negotiations. Weisselberg still helps Trump's sons manage the business while Trump is in the Oval Office. Now that special counsel Robert Mueller has subpoenaed the Trump Organization for business records, his investigators may get around to interviewing Greenblatt and Weisselberg, who almost certainly have more expansive information on the president's business activities than Cohen does. 
If that happens -- or if the U.S. attorney's office in New York takes a similar interest -- then the media might have to reassess its take on Cohen and the role he's playing in the broader drama surrounding the White House
Adam Davidson, the New Yorker writer who wrote the recent article about Cohen, is a careful reporter who has spent a lot of time navigating some of Trump's business deals (he's also an acquaintance of mine). In his piece, however, he refers to Trump's company as "a small, sad operation, mostly run by his two oldest children and Michael Cohen." 
That's not true. Cohen has never run the company in a significant way. "I wish I was clearer about Michael Cohen's role," Davidson told me when we talked about his article. "He was a central player in the problematic overseas deals that will become central to these investigations. But he definitely wasn't running the company."

In other words, Cohen is definitely in trouble for all the foreign money and influence peddling, not to mention the whole Stormy Daniels payoff affair.  But if the true goal is cracking open the vault on Trump's money laundering through the Trump Organization, then Greenblatt is the man to go after.

He shouldn't be hard to find, either.  He's currently Trump's special envoy to the Middle East, apparently specializing in yelling at the Palestinians.

We'll see.  I would expect the Cohen trove will lead to some very uncomfortable interviews with Greenblatt. Allen Weisselberg, who is still with the Trump organization as CFO, has already gained the attention of NY AG Eric Schniederrman.

Stay tuned.  Trump's money guys have been the key to this mess for some time now.  Mueller may be closer than we know on them.

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