Investigators in the state of New York have filed a subpoena against Donald Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen, who shocked the nation yesterday with his sudden decision to “flip” on the President and implicate him in federal campaign crimes committed during the 2016 election — a race that Trump won by the smallest of margins, and only in the electoral college.
The new subpoena concerns an ongoing investigation into the Trump Foundation, the now-defunct “charity” founded in 1987, which was funded entirely by Mr. Trump himself until 2005, but which relied on donations from outside sources after that time. The Associated Press reports that the NY tax department confirmed the subpoena today, citing Cohen lawyer Lanny Davis’ statements on Tuesday that his client possessed knowledge that would be valuable to investigators at both the state and federal levels.
The Foundation has been under investigation for some time, with NY Attorney General Barbara Underwood filing suit against Trump and his three oldest children, Don Jr., Eric, and Ivanka for “persistent illegal behavior,” including using Foundation money for personal gain, improperly coordinating with the Trump campaign in 2016, and campaign finance violations — likely the source of the AG’s interest in Cohen’s potential testimony.
State charges, of course, differ from federal charges in that convictions in a state court cannot be pardoned by the President, and any influence Trump might have had left over Cohen to be used as leverage or the sort of witness tampering many suspect the President’s legal team of engaging in on multiple occasions would be worthless.
The New York AG’s office ordered the Foundation to be dissolved in June and ordered Trump to pay nearly $3 million in restitution. Referrals to the IRS and the Federal Election Commission could result in charges against the President himself, which of course would originate in a state court — and he would then be unable to pardon himself, either.
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