With a multitude of events surrounding Trump investigations during the recent months, a lot of us might have been lost in what really is happening. With a lot that’s already on the record, and even more ahead of us, here’s our overview of the most recent and important developments.
How many investigations affecting Trump are out there?
It all started with the investigation of a special counsel Robert Mueller into whether Trump had a coordinated campaign with the Russian officials before the election, and whether President Trump obstructed the related investigation afterwards.
There’s also an active criminal investigation led by the Southern District of New York, where prosecutors have implicated the president in a crime. According to the implications, Trump allegedly directed his then-lawyer Michael Cohen to pay two women in order to quash potential sex scandals during the campaign. Additionally, New York prosecutors are also looking into Trump’s alleged inaugural fraud.
What are the most recent developments?
Michael Cohen testified before Congress last Wednesday, February 27th. In his statement, he called Trump “a racist, a con man, a cheat.” He also noted that there “will be no peaceful transition of power” should Trump lose the 2020 election – the statement that alarmed the nation and raised some concerns.
Cohen is scheduled to appear again at a public hearing before the Congress on March 14th. Among other key matters, that hearing will be focused on the alleged Trump’s connections with Russia before and after he became president. Additionally to Cohen, one of Trump’s former business associates, Felix Sater, will be also testifying on the matter of the president’s personal involvement in the Trump Tower Moscow project.
In the meantime, this Thursday March 7th former Trump campaign’s chairman Paul Manafort was sentenced to almost four years in prison for tax and bank fraud concerning his work advising Ukrainian politicians. By far, that was the only sentence with a jury trial among all of Trump’s former associates who face any legal consequences.
Lastly, the latest legal developments include Michael Cohen filing a civil lawsuit against The Trump Organization over his legal bills of $1.9 million that are left unpaid.
At the same time, a federal judge tossed out another civil lawsuit against Trump. According to the U.S. District Court Judge S. James Otero, the suit of porn actress Stormy Daniels (real name Stephanie Clifford) became irrelevant after Trump agreed not to penalize Daniels for violating a nondisclosure agreement she signed in exchange of $130,000 payment. Otero sent the case back to the Superior Court of California, where the lawsuit was originally filed, as Daniels may be entitled to at least the legal fees she spent on litigation.
What evidence is currently unveiled?
As with any ongoing investigation, a lot of details remain unavailable for the public, so here’s a brief overview of some of the things we know from the public testimonies.
Cohen admitted in federal court to arranging the payment to silence Daniels and help Trump win the presidency. According to Cohen, the check to Stormy Daniels dated August 1, 2018, was drawn from Trump’s bank account after he took the office.
Additionally, Cohen pleaded guilty to the violations of the campaign-finance laws. Cohen also stated that Trump repeatedly lied to financial institutions in order to get financing.
Cohen admitted that Trump knew of the Democratic National Committee’s emails hack before it became public.
President’s former lawyer also stated he had “suspicions” of Trump’s collusion with Russia, however, he didn’t have any direct evidence to support it at the time. Among other matters, this is what the hearing next week would be focused on.
This past Monday, the House Judiciary Committee has requested documents relating to the Trump investigation from 81 businesses and individuals. These requests relate to a multitude of issues, including firing former FBI director James Comey, Trump’s official and business activities, payoffs to marital infidelities, financial dealings of the inaugural committee and so on.
A question a lot of us are probably asking right now is whether or not the president will be impeached. While the investigations and findings are certainly moving towards that direction, the actual impeachment is still in limbo. The first issue is the number of committees and organizations that are currently involved in Trump investigations. Some of them are even focused on different legal matters – campaign fraud, tax fraud, obstruction of justice, etc. If you look back at history, almost all successful probes featured one committee: the investigations of union racketeering in 1957, the Vietnam hearings of 1966, the Watergate hearings of 1973, etc. When there are many avenues to go after, it’s easy to lose focus.
Currently, Democratic leaders are basically working on a two-step process that started with investigation, but may or may not end with impeachment, depending on all the evidence received.
Notably, there’s also a lot of friction within the party itself, with some of the Democrats growing largely impatient. For instance, Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., has just announced that she’s working on a resolution to have the Judiciary Committee move on investigating grounds for impeachment.
“Today, I announced that later this month, I will be introducing a resolution to have the Judiciary Committee move on investigating grounds for impeachment. Our democracy must be protected,” Rashid stated on Twitter.