Where is SDNY in all of this?


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Now that the Manhattan District Attorney’s office has empaneled a grand jury to criminally indict Donald Trump for various financial crimes in conjunction with the New York Attorney General, it raises an important question: where is the SDNY in all of this?

After all, the criminal probe into Trump’s financial misdeeds began when the Feds at the SDNY indicted Michael Cohen for making an illegal payment to Stormy Daniels on Trump’s behalf. SDNY went as far as labeling Trump an unindicted co-conspirator known as Individual-1, seemingly laying the groundwork to criminally indict Trump on federal charges once he was out of office.

But even though Cohen ended up deciding to fully cooperate with any prosecutors who wanted his help, it was only the state level prosecutors in New York who took Cohen up on it. Trump will be indicted for crimes like tax fraud, mortgage fraud, and insurance fraud, and no one will be surprised if he’s also indicted for the financial crimes that he committed in relation to the Cohen-Daniels payoff. But campaign finance fraud is a federal crime, and SDNY has a slam dunk federal case to bring against Trump. So why isn’t it happening?

In a timely reminder of all of the above, Michael Cohen tweeted this today: “I remain ready, willing and able to fully cooperate with SDNY on any prosecution of #Trump, Weisselberg, etc.. including but not limited to the Stormy Daniels hush money payment scheme directed by and for the benefit of Trump for which I was convicted and sentenced.”

To be clear, Cohen has proven to be a highly useful and reliable witness, to the point that the Manhattan District Attorney’s office has now met with him more than ten times and counting, to discuss the criminal case against Trump. This wouldn’t keep happening if Cohen weren’t proving reliable. Yet the Feds at the SDNY haven’t bothered to talk with him at all. Nor has SDNY used anyone else with knowledge of Trump’s guilt.

In response to Michael Cohen’s tweet, Stormy Daniels tweeted “Same!” That’s right, Cohen and Daniels have been on the same page for quite awhile now, eager to help the Feds at the SDNY indict Trump for campaign finance fraud – yet it hasn’t happened. Daniels was a victim in this and she hasn’t been accused of any crimes of any kind, so she would therefore be considered an extraordinarily reliable witness. Yet her phone hasn’t rung either. So what’s the deal? There are a few possibilities here.

One possibility is that the Feds at the SDNY are simply waiting for New York State to finish with Donald Trump first. There is precedent for this. It’s usually the Feds who go first, with state charges coming afterward. But given that the SDNY’s case against Trump was ostensibly delayed by then-Attorney General Bill Barr, New York State ended up going first, meaning SDNY could just be waiting for the Manhattan DA smoke to clear before moving forward.

Another possibility is this: the SDNY is known to be aggressively pursuing criminal charges against Rudy Giuliani, to the point of having recently raided his home. The case against Giuliani, which centers around dirty foreign money and the Trump-Ukraine scandal, is likely to find its way to Donald Trump. So it’s possible that SDNY is waiting to move against Trump with any criminal charges until after it either convicts Giuliani or convinces him to flip on Trump.

It’s also possible that SDNY simply isn’t planning to pursue a criminal case against Donald Trump at all. This would be strange and potentially alarming, given that he’s guilty of campaign finance fraud, and provably so. Why would SDNY just decide to do nothing? Does it feel that the financial charges New York State is bringing against Trump cover similar enough ground to make the federal case irrelevant? Is main DOJ planning to indict Trump for crimes like obstruction of justice once New York State is done with him, and if so, how does this play into SDNY’s inaction?

No matter how this plays out, Donald Trump is going down. The grand jury process in New York has reached a stage where Trump has a literally 99% chance of being criminally indicted, and the straightforward financial charges involved are the kind that tend to result in near automatic conviction. So Trump is going to state prison, even if SDNY never lifts a finger. But it is more than a little odd that SDNY would choose to simply sit out the most important takedown of a career criminal in United States history.

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