What does the Matthew Calamari news mean in the New York criminal probe into Donald Trump?
The New York criminal probe into Donald Trump has already resulted in criminal indictments against the Trump Organization and its CFO Allen Weisselberg. Once Weisselberg made it clear that he was not prepared to cooperate against Donald Trump, there were widespread reports that prosecutors had instead decided to try to pressure Trump Organization COO Matthew Calamari Sr. into flipping instead.
But now Calamari’s attorneys are telling the New York Times that prosecutors have told them that they do “not currently plan to indict him in the purported tax-evasion scheme.” So what does this tell us? Even if we’re to take Calamari’s attorneys at their word – and to be clear, this is only sourced to them and not to the DA’s office itself – it’s worded very narrowly.
Even they don’t “currently” plan to indict him, that leaves open the possibility to indict him later. This also merely says they don’t currently plan to indict him in the tax scandal. The NY Times article further confirms numerous previous reports that the criminal probe has shifted its focus to Donald Trump’s allegedly inflated valuations of his properties for the purpose of obtaining loans.
One distinct possibility is that prosecutors have found more fruit on the property valuation side than the tax side, and have therefore decided to try to work their way up to Donald Trump accordingly. But why tell Calamari that he’s off the hook for now? Is he not involved in the alleged properly valuation crimes? Is he cooperating with the probe?
One key clue is that Calamari’s attorneys are now telling NBC News that he’ll show up and testify if he’s subpoenaed. Another potential clue is that Calamari’s son Matthew Calamari Jr, who also works for the Trump Organization, reportedly testified to the grand jury in September. So the Calamari family is taking a cooperative stance toward prosecutors, both in public and behind closed doors. In such case, why indict Calamari Sr? If someone is taking a cooperative position, it’s best to keep things they way they are.
In any case, while this New York Times report may be good news for Matthew Calarami, there’s nothing in it that sounds like good news for Donald Trump. Even as Calamari is being told that he’s off the hook for now in the tax probe, this same article makes clear that New York prosecutors are aggressively scaling up their property valuation probe. The Times is also reporting that incoming Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg plans to keep the Trump probe in place with the current personnel, meaning the probe is not going to vanish just because current DA Cyrus Vance is retiring. Nothing that’s being newly reported should cause Donald Trump to start sleeping well at night.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report