In an interview with Sky News, the former US Attorney in charge of the Southern District of New York, Preet Bharara, told journalists that he believes prosecutors in that office could be preparing to prosecute Donald Trump in conjunction with the recently-concluded case against Trump’s former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen.
Bharara said that he believes this because of the specific language used in the SDNY sentencing memo for Cohen, in which prosecutors detailed Cohen’s activities as being “in coordination with and at the direction of Individual 1.” That unnamed individual was widely believed at the time and is now actually known to be Donald Trump himself.
While the former US Attorney said that this didn’t necessarily mean that SDNY believes that they have all of the evidence necessary to prosecute Trump fully for the same crimes that Cohen is in prison for, the distinction was an important one because federal prosecutors enter information into charging and sentencing documents — even peripheral information — that they believe to be the facts about everyone involved.
So whether or not Trump is charged for those particular acts by the SDNY, says Bharara, the fact is that prosecutors have effectively named the President as a (thus far) unindicted co-conspirator in the case.
I mean that’s the starkest statement of criminal liability in the direction of the president, of any other statement that I’m aware of in the entire pendency of the Mueller investigation and the Southern District of New York’s various investigations. That’s a very powerful statement of culpability.”
Many analysts and even Trump’s former campaign advisor — and himself a former US Attorney — Chris Christie have all said that Trump’s true prosecutorial threat lay not in the eventual release of the Mueller report, but in potential action from the Southern District, should they choose to pursue it.
SDNY, of course, has no constraints, written or otherwise, against indicting the President while he’s still in office, should they so choose. Couple that with the fact that prosecutors there basically have what Christie describes as “tour guides” in the form of cooperating witnesses Cohen and Rick Gates, and Trump could be looking down the barrel of something far more serious than whether or not Mueller’s report actually says he obstructed justice by firing James Comey.
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