Trump-related probes continue in New York
NEW YORK (AP) — As Special Counsel Robert Mueller moves closer to completing his probe of Russian tampering in the 2016 presidential election, federal prosecutors in New York are pushing ahead with separate criminal investigations involving several people in President Donald Trump’s orbit. Some have resulted in charges. Others are ongoing.
President Donald Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen , pleaded guilty last year to charges including lying to Congress about Trump’s real estate dealings in Moscow and making illegal campaign contributions in the form of payments to two women who say they had affairs with Trump. Cohen begins his three-year prison sentence in May.
Yet to be seen is whether anyone else involved in arranging the payments to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal could face charges, including Trump Organization executives who prosecutors say reimbursed Cohen for the payoffs. Trump maintains the payments were a private matter, not a campaign expense.
Prosecutors have requested a wide range of documents from Trump’s inaugural committee as they look at possible crimes , including whether foreigners illegally contributed to inaugural events or whether donors received certain “benefits” after making contributions, according to a subpoena sent to the committee. The same document shows prosecutors are looking at how vendors were paid for their services.
AMERICAN MEDIA INC.
Last summer, prosecutors agreed not to prosecute American Media Inc., the publisher of the National Enquirer, for its role in buying Karen McDougal’s story as a way to keep her from speaking out during the presidential race. Prosecutors said the company did it to assist Trump, who is friends with the company’s CEO, David Pecker.
Investigators began taking a fresh look at that non-prosecution agreement, though, after Amazon founder Jeff Bezos accused AMI of threatening to publish racy photographs of him unless he stopped investigating how the Enquirer obtained the pictures and his private messages.
A violation of the agreement opens the door to possible criminal charges.
RUSSIAN LAWYER PROBE
Prosecutors have charged a Russian lawyer, Natalya Veselnitskaya , with obstruction of justice, saying she submitted deceptive declarations in a civil proceeding involving a Russian tax refund fraud scheme.
On its face, the case has nothing to do with Trump. But Mueller’s team has separately scrutinized a meeting Veselnitskaya had at Trump Tower in 2016 with Donald Trump Jr. and Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner, who attended because they thought she had political dirt to offer on Hillary Clinton. Trump Jr. later said the promised material never materialized.