If you suspected that Michael Cohen’s plea deal would lead to the eventual demise of the Trump Organization, it turns out you were right on track – but few expected things to begin rolling this quickly. Yesterday the state of New York subpoenaed Cohen in its ongoing fraud investigation into Donald Trump’s businesses, but now the District Attorney in Manhattan is already preparing to move forward with criminal charges against Trump Organization officials.
Don’t get too excited just yet, as the New York Times simply says that the criminal charges in question are would be “against the Trump Organization and two senior company officials” without specifying which officials. Yes, Donald Trump Jr and Eric Trump are the top “officials” in the Trump Organization, but these charges could be against any two senior officials, and there are other people in that company who also fit that description.
In fact, the way these things usually work is that prosecutors start by going after the top underlings in order to push them into cutting plea deals, so that they can testify against the biggest fish. We’ve seen this play out in the federal investigation into the Donald Trump campaign and administration, where plea deals with the likes of Michael Flynn and Michael Cohen are allowing more straightforward criminal cases to be built against people like Donald Trump.
The bottom line here is that things are now proceeding very, very quickly by prosecutorial standards. We’ve all seen how long it can take to build a criminal case, or push a plea deal into happening. Indictments and arrests never happen overnight in the criminal justice system. But it is a big deal that New York is now, almost literally overnight, using Michael Cohen’s plea deal to begin the process of dismantling the Trump Organization. As a reminder, the President of the United States cannot pardon anyone on these charges.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report