Teri Kanefield @Teri_Kanefield Author, lawyer (U.C. Berkeley). I tweet about the law, books, politics, and history. All my threads are here as blog entries: t.co/vdLoEAoLvv Feb. 27, 2019 3 min read

(Thread) Trump Crimes

In advance of Cohen’s testimony, I will list the crimes suggested by his opening statement.

You can read his statement here:  https://www.politico.com/f/?id=00000169-2d31-dc75-affd-bfb99a790001 

First Crime: Campaign finance violation (and/ or aiding and abetting campaign finance violation)

1/ Cohen pleaded guilty to 52 USC 30116(a)(1)(A) and (a)(7), making excessive and unreported in-kind campaign violations through his payments to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal.

What happened was this:

2/ Trump wanted to pay hush money so that his affairs wouldn’t come out right before the election.

He directed Cohen to make the payments through a Home Equity Loan so it couldn’t be traced to him.

Later, after the election, Trump repaid Cohen with personally signed checks 👇

3/ Federal law limits how much money individuals can donate to campaigns, and requires that donations be disclosed.

Federal law also treats a loan to a campaign the same as a contribution, so even though Trump repaid Cohen . . .
 https://www.fec.gov/help-candidates-and-committees/handling-loans-debts-and-advances/ 

4/ . . . the payment was still an illegal (and unreported) campaign contribution from Cohen.
Aiding and abetting is a theory of liability that means you help with the commission of a crime.
 https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/2 
Looks like Trump aided and abetted a campaign finance violation.

5/ Next crime: Bank Fraud.

Cohen will present financial statements Trump gave financial institution(s).
He also says that Trump ‘inflated’ his worth.

It's possible he will suggest that Trump lied to the banks.
Or he may be showing that he lies in general about his worth.

6/ Next: Misusing charity funds. This is an incredible story 👇about how Trump wanted to make sure that his portrait sold for a lot of money, so he had Cohen hire a fake bidder to purchase the portrait for $60K,
Trump repaid the bidder from his charity and kept the portrait.

7/ This crime would probably be prosecuted as a tax crime (among others).

The Trump family stealing from the Trump Foundation is already the subject of this NY AG lawsuit. More on that here:

8/ Next Michael Cohen tells of subornation of perjury.
 https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/1622 

Whoever procures another to commit any perjury is guilty of subornation of perjury. 18 U.S. Code § 1622.

Cohen explains that how Trump indirectly encouraged him to lie to Congress.

9/ Trump also had his personal lawyers edit the false statement Cohen gave Congress.

Remember the flap when Buzzfeed reported that “Trump directed Cohen to lie” and Mueller’s office said it was not accurate?

It looks like, in truth, Cohen said something more nuanced. . .

10/ The instructions were implied rather than a direct order 👇

The detail that Trump's personal lawyers looked over (and edited!) the statement is an interesting one, and raises questions about what they knew.

It's not like Trump has never hired a shady lawyer [irony]

11/ Next, let’s look at Cohen’s testimony that Trump knew Wikileaks was about to dump stolen emails.

He tells a story about how Trump took a phone call from Roger Stone, who told Trump Wikileaks planned a massive dump of emails that would damage HRC's campaign.

12/ Trump says something like 'wouldn't that be great?'

The crime here would be Aiding and Abetting cyber crimes or Accessory after the Fact. (Accomplice liability).
 https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/3 

13/ The underlying crime is a violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse act, which criminalizes hacking and theft.  https://www.justice.gov/sites/default/files/criminal-ccips/legacy/2015/01/14/ccmanual.pdf 
Accessory after the Fact means you learn about a crime after it happens & help the perpetrators, or help them hide the crime.

14/ Here we have Trump, candidate for president, knowing that a computer crime took place, and giving his approval to the criminal behavior (disseminating stolen emails) continuing.

15/ There is more, of course.

Michael Cohen paints a vivid picture of a self-dealing, dishonest con man who normalizes lying.

It will be interesting to see what comes out in the questioning.

It will also be interesting to watch the response of the GOP after the testimony.


You can follow @Teri_Kanefield.



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