A Lawyer who specializes in Public Corruption tells Josh Marshall at TPM that Stormy Daniels is only the tip of the iceberg.
Josh cannot identify the person but he can vouch for the expertise.
I know everyone has a take on this Rudy/Cohen shit-show, but I thought I would give you some perspective from someone steeped in anti-corruption enforcement (both domestic and foreign) on the prosecution and defense side.
As we already know, Michael Cohen is the prototypical fixer or bagman. In Mexico, as discussed in glorious detail in this NY Times expose on Wal-Mart’s massive corruption scandal in Mexico , a lawyer-fixer like Cohen would be known as a “gestore.” The bagman’s job is to get bribe money to people while insulating and giving deniability to the ultimate payor of the bribe. Having a dirty lawyer as a bagman provides a number of advantages.
First, bribe money can be laundered from the “client” through the lawyer as fictitious legal services. The lawyer can issue bogus invoices to the client in amounts sufficient to cover bribe payments, a commission to the lawyer, and a gross-up for any taxes the lawyer would have to pay on the fee income (bagmen, after all, don’t want to be stuck paying taxes on amounts they pay out as bribes). Sound familiar?
Second, by disguising the bribes as payments for legal fees, businesses can try to write them off as expenses (bribes are not deductible). This is tax evasion, of course, but it is common practice for the corrupt. Third, the lawyer-client relationship can be an impediment to law enforcement. It can be very difficult for prosecutors to pierce what appears on the surface to be a legitimate attorney-client relationship.
So now we have Giuliani confirming that this is exactly how Trump and Cohen operated. Hush money to Stormy Daniels is one thing and certainly raises potential serious campaign finance violations, but she is not a public official. What I find most significant about Rudy’s admission is what it says about the nature of the relationship between Trump and Cohen and how it suggests an M.O. for other more serious crimes.
Trump is a major real estate developer in NY who has openly bragged about his ability to cut through red tape and get politicians in his pocket. We now have serious SDNY public corruption prosecutors and FBI agents in possession of a massive amount of electronic data from his bagman. They likely already have all of his financial records as well. And Rudy has now given them the roadmap for how Trump may have laundered bribes through Cohen as purported legal fees or retainer payments. Every invoice Cohen has ever issued to Trump is suspect. Every corrupt payment Cohen has ever made or facilitated to building inspectors, councilmen, pornstars, or whomever can potentially be tied back to Trump. In addition, I suspect Trump and his kids had a false sense of comfort that their communications with Cohen would be privileged. I am convinced this is why Trump and his family are freaking out about the Cohen raid and the possibility he could flip. The SDNY is sitting on the mother lode of evidence and Rudy has given them the connection between purported legal fees and payments by Cohen to third parties.
This piece was originally published at Talking Points Memo.