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 Mar. 07, 2019 5 min read

(Thread) Trump and the International Criminal Syndicate

First, some background on RICO.

Prosecutors were finding it hard to bring down mobs partly because bosses had ways to insulate themselves.
 https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/part-I/chapter-96 
They could only try mob-related crimes individually.

1/ RICO (Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Law) was passed in 1970.

RICO lets prosecutors take down the entire organization, and makes it easier to reach the boss.
 https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/part-I/chapter-96 

2/ A person who meets four elements can be indicted under RICO:

(1) conduct of
(2) an enterprise
(3) through a pattern of
(4) racketeering activity. (Sedima 473 U.S. 479)

The activity can be almost any crime—bribery, fraud, etc.

3/ The enterprise can be almost anything: a corp, a crime family, a street gang.
The pattern requires at least two crimes in a period of 10 years.

Here's an understatement: Finding 2 crimes over 10 years connected to the Trump Org won't be hard.

4/I suspect there are thousands.

In Cohen’s testimony alone, he pointed to several crimes traceable to the Trump Org:
 https://terikanefield-blog.com/crimes-suggested-by-cohens-testimony/ 
See also:  https://russia-investigation-summary.com/crimes/ 

I can already hear a cry from the far right saying: “Yeah, but he didn’t collude with Russia!”

5/ Ok, time to connect the Trump Org as a racketeering enterprise to what happened in 2016.

As Masha Gessen explained👇 the cyber attack on the 2016 election was widely seen primarily as “the subversion of American democracy by a hostile power” (Russia)
 https://www.newyorker.com/news/our-columnists/the-trump-russia-investigation-and-the-mafia-state 

6/ Gessen explains that this doesn’t quite describe what happened, partly because of the nature of Russia.

Russia is partly a normal state entity.
But it is mostly run by a mafia that acts for its own profit and not the public good.

7/ The “normal” part of the Russian government is completely inept and not capable of anything sophisticated.

The "mafia" part is really good at criminal activity.

What happened in 2016, Gessen says, was “an attempt at state capture by an international crime syndicate.”

8/Gessen advises journalists who connect the dots (but don't really understand Russia) to stop talking about states and geopolitics, and look at mafias and profits.
(end summary of Gessen)

The Trump Org. is part of the international crime syndicate that captured the White House.

9/ In Jan. 2011, Mueller gave a lecture (while he was FBI director) about organized crime.

Today's mobsters have gone international, he said. They are fluid with global reach, and (in 2011) already posed a significant security risk to the U.S.
 https://archives.fbi.gov/archives/news/speeches/the-evolving-organized-crime-threat 

10/ Mueller described “iron triangles” that consist of (1) organized criminals (2) corrupt government officials, and (3) business leaders.

Motivated by greed, they sell to the highest bidder and will stop at nothing to make money.

11/ By 2011, the FBI was developing a long-term strategy for dismantling these enterprises, including ways to target mobsters like Semion Mogilevich.

Mogilevich was on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted list.

Mogilevich and Trump are old pals.

ICUMI, see:

12/ Christopher Steele said that by 2013, he'd seen evidence that "all criminal roads led to Trump Tower.”
 https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2018/03/12/christopher-steele-the-man-behind-the-trump-dossier 
Russian gangsters are part of the Iron Triangle that's cornering the market on hydrocarbons (which explains climate change denial)

13/ What comes out of the many investigation may look less like “coordination with Russia” (as a nation) and more like this:

“The Trump Org, as part of an international crime syndicate (including Russian mobsters) engaged in a pattern of crimes intended to sway the election.”

14/ It’s clear that members of the criminal enterprise can’t stop committing crimes—even after they are indicted.

Manafort engaged in witness tampering while awaiting trial.


Roger Stone made criminal threats against the judge.
 https://www.miaminewtimes.com/news/roger-stone-threatened-political-violence-and-civil-war-prior-to-instagram-aimed-at-judge-amy-berman-jackson-11093425 

15/ Now there’s talk that Trump’s lawyers dangled a pardon to Cohen to keep him from “flipping” (what low level mobsters do)
 https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/trump-former-lawyer-michael-cohen-returns-for-fourth-day-of-congressional-testimony/2019/03/06/d367c39a-4018-11e9-922c-64d6b7840b82_story.html?utm_term=.6239a59f3e5e 

Trump has been openly obstructing the probe all along. He vowed to“fight back” (obstruct) last year.
 https://www.politico.com/story/2018/04/11/trump-fightback-514513 

16/ People are outraged that they won't stop committing crimes.

But members of this international crime syndicate can’t not do crimes. (I intended that double negative.)

Income from crimes keep the non-criminal parts of the enterprise afloat.

Crimes are what they do.

17/ Crimes (like obstruction & witness tampering) are ways to keep from getting caught.

RICO allows prosecutors to seize assets & money gotten through crime. Even before trial, assets can be frozen so they don’t disappear.

Can you imagine Trump without the trappings of wealth?

18/ It’s also worth noting that New York also has its own state RICO statute.
 https://statelaws.findlaw.com/new-york-law/new-york-racketeering-rico-laws.html 

Federal prosecutors need permission from the DOJ before bringing RICO charges; state prosecutors don’t.

19/ Last year, when Cohen’s office was raided, I agreed with those who said that Cohen’s arrest posed a greater threat to Trump than Mueller.


It was already clear to me in April that Trump’s base would not be bothered by a conspiracy with Russia.👇

20/ The GOP likes dictators!👇

Fox can defend Trump’s choice of a “foreign alliance.”
They can say "Clinton and Obama did worse."

But what if Trump’s base discovers that their billionaire hero isn't actually a once-in-a-lifetime political wonder . . .

21/ What if they learn he's a two-bit gangster who'd be broke if he hadn’t engaged in a lifetime of crimes like fraud and routine corruption?
The kind the SDNY public corruption unit sees every day.

And that he's been committing tawdry crimes with Russian gangsters for decades?

22/ While "the base" went to work each day, he cheated.

In addition to being much harder to defend on a national stage (like a Senate removal trial) it seems to me that uncovering routine fraud, cheating, swindling, and stealing is when the cult of leadership breaks down.

23/The defense “But No Collusion!” wears thin, particularly if it means: “Trump didn’t deal with the Russian government and nobody can pin anything on him because he doesn’t use email, text, or give direct commands.
Like a mob boss.

And this, my friends, is where RICO comes in.

All of my threads are blog posts. You can view this one here:
 https://terikanefield-blog.com/trump-and-the-international-criminal-syndicate/ 

Adding: Nobody can say for certain what prosecutors will charge because we can't see the evidence, and we are not privy to all factors they are considering.


You can follow @Teri_Kanefield.



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