Trump, Inc. Goes Beyond Collusion
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Which obviously we've yet to see in a moment, I'll be joined by propublica 's Eric Manzke of a couple of weeks ago put together a list of tips for interpreting the Muller report after that we're gonna play a segment that my co host Ilya marritz, and I did with new school professor and MSNBC legal analyst Maya Wiley on WNYC's Brian Lehrer show, but I. The department of Justice announced it will appoint of former FBI director Robert Mueller as an independent special counsel. General consensus. It was a good decision to pick a special counsel. Robert Moore is perhaps the single most qualified individuals to lead such an investigation in my view Muller loves prosecuting, bad, guys. He loves putting criminals in jail. It's his thing. I was going to fire Comey. My decision. Do you believe this arise to obstruction of Justice? I don't know that that's Bob Muller's job to sort that out. I think that the the probe is a disaster for our country to me, this appears as the closest we've seen yet real life. Actual collusion. We've been saying from day one there's been no evidence of Trump Russia collusion or people going to suspect cover up absolute high did not collude with Russia. There was no collusion. Nothing. Have this witch hunting total witch onto which is rusher thing with Trump and Russia again, I think we really have to see what Melissa and a lot of falsification going on. We've got a lot of lying going on. And we've got cover-ups George popadopoulos. Rick gates, whole Manafort Eichel, Flynn, Alexander's walk constant t Kalin Michael Cohen, thirteen Russian national. They were hoping to make Americans feel more angry more divided seeking to interfere in the United States, twenty sixteen presidential election. It's startling. If you take a step back and think that a president of the United States is the subject or focus of Neff BI counter intelligence investigation, that's remarkable leaks. And there were insinuations and the people were then making that what they wanted Russia Russia. Russia hate Russia. Russia Russia for so Gideon eager to hear more about this Russia and Trump story and when their stories come get completely debunked. It just kind of everybody agrees to ignore Russian brushing, rush the Russians Russia's Russia Russian. Just an out. There was no collusion with Russia. The most ridiculous thing I've ever heard. There was no collusion with Russia. It was no obstruction. It was a complete and total exoneration. President Trump is wrong. This report is not amount who a so-called total exoneration special counsel Muller was cleared that his report quote does not exonerate close. Quote. The president. That audio diary was put together by j cow it and our friends at the public radio show. The takeaway with Tenzin Vega. I'm joined now Republicans Eric humanity. Hi, andrea. So Eric when you put together your list of tips on how to interpret the mullahs report, you said, stop focusing on collusion. And remember, we already know a lot. So how do you think about the Bill bar letter in that frame most fundamentally, I think that this collusion question, which is very important, obviously has served as an over simplification on both sides because you have people who are, you know, resistance types who feel like okay Muller is gonna come in. And prove this thing there was collusion. It's the he's going to save us. And this is the ultimate case. And Trump was intern saying no collusion that the question of what Trump has done was a binary question of collusion. But of course, the reality is, and we have spent a year and a. Half more than a year and a half digging into a whole range of troubling activities that we have seen by the president by the president's organization really collusion is a very poor descriptors of many of the troubling things that we've found so short. There is the news that Muller has not found collusion. And so yes, it makes sense to highlight that, but let us not think that that is the end game in and of itself. So just to take an example of what we're talking about is our episode last week, we really dug into the Trump Tower Moscow, and what we found had nothing to do with collusion. But that rather Trump had very clear business interests in Moscow who's trying to build a tower. He coulda made a lot of money if he had done it and in order to do it. He needed basically at the Kremlin to help him. And in fact, Michael Cohen, his lawyer asked the Kremlin. For help. So what does that mean? That means that you know, there didn't have to be a p tape. There didn't have to be some secret spy meeting somewhere. It's just Trump could think a you know, what I wanna do. I wanna remain on the Kremlin's good side here because they can make me a lot of money. It's very straightforward. So you also wrote don't expect answers to everything or even most things how are you feeling about that today? I feel like we don't have answers to most things can you debt a little bit more about that. Sure. We're multiple steps removed from hearing the whole story. So just to take Muller itself. Muller's job is as a prosecutor, he's not they're doing the kind of nine eleven report everything that's happened. He's not a historian. He's not a journalist. He's a prosecutor, right? His job is literally not to explain everything. It's to bring cases or to not bring cases. So you have that issue then on top of that? Of course, he gave whatever. Report he gave to the attorney general William bar who then wrote a four page roughly that summarizes what Muller found accurately or not, you know, the full picture or not. We just have no idea. I mean, we have no idea what we don't even know at this point. What do you think our task is now on Trump Inc? I feel like our job remains the same. I will tell you that after having dug into this stuff for a year and a half. I feel like we obviously are conveying everything that we have seen. But that it's like hard to tell people just how questionable just how widespread and problematic the activities that we have seen by the Trump organization prior to the presidency by the powers that be during the presidency. I mean. The range of things that we have uncovered that we have reported on it is hard to wrap your head around. And that just underscored again. Yes, collusion is an important question. But it is by no means the measure of whether or not the president has acted responsibly ethically. Morally or in the interests of the country. Propublica 's Eric humanity. Thanks, eric. Thanks, andrea. And to that end Trumpian has a bit of breaking news. Here's Ilya marritz. So back in January, trumping senior producer, make Kramer, and I stayed at the Trump International hotel in DC. And while we were there we saw a candidate for president of Nigeria in the lobby. Well, I bring you news of another notable foreign politician staying at the Trump hotel DC it is via Rita don't Sheila. She's the prime minister of Romania. She showed up in DC over the weekend to attend the APEC conference, and she was spotted twice in the Trump hotel lobby by our friends. Zach Everson ship heared to have a room key that enables you to operate an elevator there and Romania is quite an interesting country. If you're Trump watcher, you might remember that less summer Rudy Giuliani wrote to the Romanian president warning about over zealous. Prosecutors pursuing corruption cases there and. Another prominent Trumpian is Elliott Brady who sought a defense contract for his company also from the Romanian government, so interesting country. And yes, of course, it is a potential emoluments issue. Thanks, thanks. You can read more of that story on our website at Trump Inc, podcast dot ORG. And now as promised or sending down the stream the segment Ilia, Maya Wiley, and I did with WNYC's Brian Lehrer. It's the Brian Lehrer show on WNYC. Good morning, again, everyone as we continue to talk about the release of the mullahs report to the attorney general and the deputy attorney general and there for page letter with their conclusions about what's in the Muller report. And a lot of what comes next now. Here's some unanswered questions in our last caller before the break was feeling gas lit as she put it by knowing all these things and then seeing the conclusion of the attorney general and deputy attorney general, Don, jR, emailing. I love it and then taking that meeting with Russians offering dirt on Hillary Clinton expressed in writing to him as part of Russia's effort to help Trump win mother apparently decided that was not coordination Roger stone. Trump's OC at meeting with WikiLeaks before Wiki leaks released the stove and Democratic Party emails. Some of them. And informing Trump in advance not coordination, Muller's term or collusion. As more commonly said Manafort is campaign, chairman meeting with Kremlin asset Constantine, Nick in giving him private polling date, not coordination after Russia dropped damaging emails during the democratic convention one week, the Republican convention mysteriously changed their party platform from anti Russia to pro Russia on Ukraine, the next remember that not coordination says why? But Ma Trump asking Russia in a speech Russia, if you're listening fine, Hillary Clinton's emails not coordination. Trump negotiating with Russia through the campaign for lucrative Trump Tower deal and lying to cover it up while Russia was helping them get elected not coordination and Michael Flynn after the election meeting with Russia to discuss sanctions relief and lying about it to the FBI not coordination and the firing of call me for. Investigating Russia ties, maybe obstruction. Maybe not according to Muller. No, according to bar and Rosenstein, so we'll pick it up with that set of points with our next guests, Maya Wiley, NBC news and MSNBC legal analyst, professor of urban policy and management at the new school and a former counsel to mayor de Blasio and our Trump Inc team. Andrea Bernstein and Ilya marritz trumping, of course, covers Trump's business world high Ilia. Hi, Andrea, Maya thank you so much for giving us some time today. Good morning. Good morning to be with you. Good morning. So maya. What's your reaction to that litany of things that happened and Muller apparently concluding no conspiracy, no coordination? No collusion. So let me start with the latter part of what you said, Brian because I think as attorneys read this letter differently from journalists. So as an attorney what I read is a statement about evidence and evidence Sherie standards. In other words, I don't see the word exoneration related to conspiracy or coordination. The exact quote from Robert Muller's report is the investigation did not establish, and it's not the whole sentence are Melber made a very big point of this last night on MSNBC. And I and I think it's exactly why people are asking to see more because as an attorney. I if not knowing what preceded his statement of not establishing could change how one reads that sentence. So it's not so much whether or not. Not there are that long litany of of of evidence of of information that the public has already seen. There's even more than that list from all their pasta. And getting what seemed to be very beneficial deal for him in terms of sanctions, remember all their pasta is the Russian oligarch that Paul Manafort owed money, we have the issue that Trump essentially gave confidential classified information to Russians right after firing Komi. So we could even add to that list. And I think that is exactly the reason why we need to understand what was the evidence. And what how was Muller himself interpreting weather, how close he got to the standard was he very far from the standard in terms of all the evidence. He's seen. We. No, we have not seen it all. And I think this is the type of accounting that is critically important to our democracy where you with your legal background expecting something more. And were you surprised at the top line story that came out even as early as Friday, which is the Muller plans? No more indictments not have done junior. Not of anyone else closer to Trump and not on anything else. Short answer is. Yes, I, you know, I'm certainly in the camp publicly saying as an attorney when you see Rick gates continuing to cooperate. When you see the Roger stone trial, not yet coming when you know that their ongoing investigations, and you wonder, you know, that you've had a prosecutor standing up before the judge in Virginia, the federal judge in Virginia judge Ellis and saying no, this Manafort trial is related to the probe around coordination and conspiracy with Russia and remember manafort's behavior. And there's the issue of whether or not or at least the question of whether there would be forthcoming charges. And yes, why wasn't Don jR, interviewed that seems very strange. So certainly, you know, my assumption was just looking at the practice of law that the that it was. Not yet. The even if even if Robert Muller felt that he had amassed most of the evidence that he was gonna get it still seemed premature not to allow those other processes to play out not to question. Don, jR, certainly, and you know, we we can debate whether or not he should have asked for an interview and potentially subpoenaed the president, but the allegations were sufficiently serious, and there was enough question there around Trump Tower Moscow, I you would really have expected at least some additional efforts to have follow up questions to Donald Trump. So it did seem strange to me. I will say I do not have all of the evidence. That was available to Robert Muller. I believe that he is someone who would have acquitted himself by the book with integrity looking at the facts again, though, these kind. Of questions are why it is critical to have a full public accounting tell the public. So that we can see where the evidence is where it took the investigation. And why Robert Muller would report it this time? So Andrea Bunstine ladder refer any way to Trump business dealings, the beat of your podcast trumping. In the Muller report or give you any clues as to any intersection between Trump's businesses and the conclusions of the Russia investigation. I mean, the short answer is no. And I think it's worth remembering that the bar letter is his interpretation of the mother report, which we haven't seen, and we don't know the extent of it. We don't even know at this point how long it is think it's also worth reminding ourselves at the bar letter comes at the end of a process in which the president overtly and covertly tried to intervene at every step of the way. So it's just important to remember that this is coming obviously, the firing of Komi the firing of sessions the attempts to interfere possibly in the southern district. So this is not sort of a hands off thing, you know, not to mention all the tweets, but what I think is really really important to remember about Trump's business is we have learned so much just from the indictment and the. Trials that have come out thus far in the molar campaign about Trump's business. The top line of that we learned that Trump was trying to profit apparently from his presidential campaign by doing a deal for Trump Tower Moscow as his poll numbers were going up. That's number one. We know that his campaign manager Paul Manafort was trying to monetize his position in the campaign by becoming whole with the Russian oligarch that my mentioned Oliviero pasta. We know that Trump's special counsel Michael Cohen was also trying to make money. So this is something really startling. And if you I mean, if we just start from the place that Muller found, okay, there was no crime committed as Maya said not enough evidence of of a meeting legal standard. We still know that the Russians hacked our election. We know the top military intelligence. Officers were stealing emails from Trump's democratic opponents. We know that a separate group of people run by a man who is known as Putin's chef was running this internet trolling activities. So we know all of that happened during the campaign, and what did the Trump campaign do when they were approached by the Russians who said we are trying to help you. We have dirt was just looked the other way at best. And that is very very consistent with what we have found about Trump's business partners. They are suspected money launderer suspected tax evaders one of his partners was indeed a fugitive from US Justice at the time that Trump started doing a deal with him that he just doesn't seem to have a vending operation one one former Trump organization employee said he doesn't wanna know. And I think it's important to think about that. As we go. What are the implications of a president who doesn't wanna know about who is associates are? As we move into this next phase of investigations, this next phase of investigations will include whatever congress decides to continue doing that'll be a political decision, I presume and also what the US attorney here in New York, not the special counsel decides to continue to do as well as what the New York state, attorney general and the Manhattan District Attorney decided to do, and we already know they're looking into Paul Manafort, at least in some of these respects, and so who's out of the woods and who's not with respect to actual legal charges. Yeah. Tisch James, the the new attorney general in New York state said Donald Trump has three three things to be afraid of Robert Muller. Michael Cohen and me. So I I thought that was a pretty bold statement on her part the thing that ties most directly to the molar probe it spun off of the molar probe is the soil. District of New York's investigation into hush money payments. And we've had a that's around stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, the two women who alleged that the head affairs with Donald Trump. And where Michael Cohen went to extraordinary lengths to bury their stories in the final days of the campaign, basically paying them hush money, which was which was an illegal campaign contribution. Now all the legal papers around that refer to the president as as individual one he appears in in some readings to be an unindicted co-conspirator there. And we know that that investigation is live. We know that from a couple of things we knew it for Michael cones testimony before congress reset the southern district has asked me not to talk about this. When he was asked about this. And we know it from the search warrant application that was released last week, which is heavily redacted. And most of the reductions are about those illegal campaign contributions. So it's a really interesting question. How this other? A unit of the Justice department distinct from the special counsel located here in Manhattan is going to where they're going to take this the obvious next place to go is the person one person higher up. That's the president of the United States Justice department legal memos hold that a sitting president cannot be prosecuted. So that means what for the southern district. Do they wait until Trump is out of office? If he only gets one term or do they try to get other people are there other dimensions to this probe that we don't know about? It's a big we don't know. But just based on the facts that we do know it seems very clear that the man who is now president directed. Michael Cohen to break the law to bury a story that was unfavorable to him a story that really would have resonated with a lot of voters in the last days of the campaign, and shall Maya Wiley for you as a legal analyst former counsel to the mayor of New York and more. What do you think the president's or? His very closest people who have not been indicted or mentioned apparently as criminal actors by the mullahs report because he says he's not going to pursue any new indictments what what legal jeopardy. Do you think they're still in? Well, I agree with Andrea. And Ilia, I think if you really look at the evidence that is public. We already know that the president has been directly implicated in a campaign finance crime. So that is clear that is still being investigated. The Trump organization is a family business. It is a family business in which Donald Trump was the CEO and part of what we've seen coming up in the context of hush money payments is also some implications related to how the business operated, and the thing about investigations is you know, it's a little bit like unraveling a rug. If you start pulling at the edge of thread, oftentimes, a whole lot more starts unraveling than what you initially started pulling and simply from what we've seen around the Bill. Business practices of the Trump organization and think you can expect a lot more potential investigations that we may or may not hear about that arise as a result of some of the evidence of business practice, and that will directly implicate the president as the CEO of a very closely held family business. You know, it's funny that Maya you use the example of the rug because that's often what I say we need to pull on this threat. And and just we know that there are actually three more investigations out there that are they're not concluded. At least one is the investigation of the Trump foundation in which depositions that were released from Trump's chief financial officer, Allan Wessel bird, in fact, show that there were no separation between the business the campaign and the Trump foundation and in that action, the attorney general seeking to have the Trump family barred from serving on foundation boards and pay a fine. Just last week. Week. The attorney general subpoenaed loans in relation to or information about loans from Deutsche Bank, which was the only lender that would give to Trump after no US banks would because he'd sued them so many times and or stiffed them. So he went to Deutsche Bank and not their regular real estate unit their private wealth unit and Michael Cohen released. Some documents in the public record suggesting that in fact, Trump may have been lying to them which would be Bank fraud. And then the other big investigation is the inaugural which Elliot's been doing a lot of work on. And there are still so many questions, and in fact, at least one person has pleaded guilty to accepting basically being a straw man for an illegal foreign donation. So the inaugural fund is super interesting both in itself and also is a microcosm of the Trump way of doing business where other inaugural funds set a very specific target of the amount of money that they were gonna raise from private donors. They put limits on who could given how this inaugural fund. Have been run fairly differently. A ton of money came in quite understandably because Donald Trump was not expected to win this election. So a lot of people who wanted to have influence in the new administration. I think may have panicked and said, let's let's give this guy some money, and what we know already on the record is that there was one straw, man. Donor acting on behalf of a Ukrainian politician southern district has sent out subpoenas in that probe as well. They're looking for money laundering and several different types of fraud. It sounds very serious, and they'll be requesting the all of the financial documents connected with that the inaugurations interesting because it wasn't in some ways directly controlled by Donald Trump. And yet we know that Trump, and and MRs Trump were routinely briefed on planning they may have been briefed on the financials as well. We don't know that. And and. And we know that the Trump organization directly profited by making sure that they were going to get very hefty payments for use of the Trump hotel during the inaugural, which is news that we broke. So, you know, so there's any number of really interesting things to find out there. It doesn't diminish. My own sense of dissatisfaction, though, I want to know what Robert Muller of all people having looked at all of this closely and carefully thinks, and there's really no substitute for understanding what he learned from all of the records that we know that he got an all the records that we don't know that he got in the interviews that we don't know that he had show my Robert Muller's reputation. I think has benefited. These two years from being such a spanks. If that's the right word heard people use that word like Sheldon Silva was Spinks, but that's another show. But now. Why isn't he out there today holding a news conference or something? Robert Muller is a consummate public servant in that regard. If you're prosecuting one of one of the reasons why James Comey's behavior around the Hillary Clinton. Emails was so shocking is because he wasn't behaving in the tradition of of the of prosecutors of federal prosecutors, which is you keep your mouth shut except to the extent that you're sharing your conclusion, and the reason for that really is to protect both the legal process. It's also to protect the reputation and reputations with those involved, I think where Robert Muller is gone. I think not be viewed as favorably by history to and I say that not as a personal judgment just as a matter of fact is that aspect council, you know, he punted on the issue of obstruction of Justice pretty explicitly. According to the. The bar letter. You know, he said according to the bar letter. He didn't participate in that decision around obstruction? He sent he essentially handed off to rod Rosenstein and William bar who then say, you know, he's not, you know, Robert Muller. Neither SETI should be convicted. You know said that there was a crime committed nor exonerated. And and really in the context of the letter, you know, suggests the politics and the and the internal decision of the department of Justice about whether you could indict a sitting president as part of how they kind of address this issue. So that in and of itself is is is something that I think is a rightful concern both to congress and the American people and to history because the whole point of a special counsel is to have some independent. Of judgment in the evaluation of the evidence. And that was an this is an example where he should have spoken at least through a conclusion of some form in his report. And we should see what that evidence is. Let's go to our next caller Caitlyn in port Washington, you're on WNYC. Caitlyn? Thank you so much for calling. Oh, thank you so much. I'm just I'm just struck by all the references to the narrow investigation of the narrowness of the investigation, which spent twenty two months and correct me if I'm wrong twenty three million dollars of taxpayer money, and now people are calling it a narrow investigation how long and how much are people willing to spend taxpayer money to continue with this it. I there are suspicions. I'm sure everyone regards of Trump's business. There are suspicions about Clinton and the red Lynch's conversations on the tarmac Peter Struck and Lisa page descriptions. But if the taxpayers are asked whether they want to spend their own money to pursue those investigations, I think very few people would want to spend their own money, which is what's happening. Without any tax payer consent. Would you like to see Caitlin for yourself as a tax payer would you like to see all of the investigations discontinued now? So that is not look into potential FBI struck in page etcetera misbehavior to launch the investigation not look into the Trump Inc. Stuff that Ilian. Andrea have been talking about with regard to his business dealings close it all up and just move on to the to the issues or how much of any of that. Do you wanna see gotten to the bottom of? Tax payer money spent in proactive ways to improve the American economy, the American people, and if I think journalists if they wanna pursue investigations and come up with something that that looks actually pertinent relevant or like, it's going to have an impact on the American people are the economy, that's one thing. But but it should not be charged to the taxpayers to be paying for for political investigations. Appreciate it. We have one minute left. Andrea to her point. I'm gonna give you thirty seconds of a political analysis, and my thirty seconds of illegal analysis all the business related investigations. May be per- Caitlyn from port Washington investigation fatigue now. Well, it's interesting about the bar letter. Because the Bartlett are certainly sets that up by saying nothing to see here. Move along it sort of sets up everything else that comes after somehow an anti-climax, whereas we know all of the details are going to be in the report itself. So I think that that is exceedingly important, I also believe in people being held account for their actions. And I think one of the ways you prevent future crimes and misdeeds is by holding people account. So I think it's important to continue that you said earlier that there is ongoing cooperation by gates, and I think also by others that supposedly was pertinent to ongoing investigation. So how can that be the case and Muller be saying that no more indictments will come at the same time? Well, no more. Treatments will come from Robert Muller. We don't know what southern district of New York or or other US attorney's offices will do because Muller has essentially spun out other investigations. And I think, you know, the collars point is quite legitimate one in the sense that people don't necessarily know in the scope of investigations, what this really means in context. But I think the way to look at it as we thirty seven indictments are guilty pleas. And we know so much more as a public about in. This is something we should celebrate. In terms of what Robert Muller's role has been there's so much more. We know about how Russians were interfering how they are trying to compromise. Our our elections and people in US citizens and the extent to which we have corrupt individuals who are operating within government that is money. Well, spent it seems to me if we want to ensure the integ-. Criti both of our government and of our democracy, Maya widely professor urban policy and management at the new school, NBC news and MSNBC legal analyst and former counsel tomato to blase, yo and our Trump Inc. Co host Andrea bunch. Nine. Followed Trump inks reporting on this and more sign up for our newsletter at trumping podcast dot org.