The U.S. Attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York works white-collar crime very well. When Rudy Giuliani was still a lawyer, he ran that office, relentlessly taking down insider traders and junk bond hucksters. The core of this office remains on top of its game, putting away those people who take lives by ruining them — Bernard Madoff, for example.The SDNY Attorney’s Office has another expertise, also a holdover from the Giuliani era, and that is organized crime. The government went hard after organized crime for decades. Giuliani famously jailed the heads of the five organized crime families, using RICO against them. Giuliani was innovative and aggressive in his use of RICO. When Robert Mueller sent the Michael Cohen case to the Southern District, he might have been thinking about Stormy. He might also have been thinking about RICO. A crooked lawyer and his files and seasoned RICO prosecutor in the same district. Even Mueller would have smiled.
Tickets to the BallRobert Mueller’s team has at least one of those charts, and his lawyers keep adding pictures and drawing new lines. On Friday another face became public. A non-Mueller prosecutor filed a case in which lobbyist Sam Patten pleaded guilty to felonies resulting from funneling $50,000 from a Ukrainian oligarch through a Cypriot bank in exchange for four tickets to the Trump inauguration. The oligarch didn’t use the tickets. He passed them over to an American, whose identity so far has not been disclosed. Patten agreed to cooperate. Patten’s failed to register as a foreign agent and took part in a scheme to pass money from a foreign national to the inaugural committee. Lots of faces, lots of lines.
Say Hello to RicoCongress passed the Racketeering Influence and Corrupt Organizations Act in 1970 to fight organized crime. The law gave the prosecutors a weapon to sweep up crime operations, including money laundering and bribery. In movies and on TV, investigators and prosecutors post a big organization chart in the middle of the room, displaying a pyramid composed of faces and lines connecting them to each other. RICO popped into my head. after hearing about Patten Too many operators doing similar things at the same time for similar purposes. Patten hawked inauguration tickets, and Michael Cohen was raked in millions of corporate dollars for access to the Administration. The Trump DC booked rooms and events for sultans and sheiks.. China granted Ivanka Trump three patents for no apparent reason. These unrelated transactions paint a picture of an organization using the office of the president for personal gain. RICO ties together these separate strands so that it doesn’t matter if Cohen knew what Patten was doing. Prosecutors can indict both under the RICO statute. If the prosecutor establishes that the Trump campaign, Trump organization or the Trump White House is a corrupt organization, prosecutors can indict nearly the entire organization, from lowly soldier to its titular orange head. Under RICO, it wouldn’t matter if the payment to Stormy Daniels was directed by the Future-Ex-President or not. It doesn’t matter if he received any of the Cohen’s or Patten’s money. If the president knew in advance about Manafort’s or Flynn’s crime, RICO connects Trump to them. It doesn’t matter if he knew beforehand about concerted action with Russia. Nor does it matter if someone was part of the crime or part of the coverup. RICO addresses a multitude of sins.
Dossier? What Dossier?Most people following this story have gotten stuck on the dossier, a MacGuffin if you ever saw one. Sure, the dossier would explain some of FEPOTUS’S\s errant behavior in foreign policy. It would explain why FEPOTUS is silent when questioned about Russia. The Russia probe might be only part of the faces and a few of the lines. It may be only one stream of money flowing through a corrupt organization.
Toppermost of the Coppermost, DonnyThe Special Prosecutor may have the top place filled in on the chart, and and he might be waiting for more. Every time another money scheme pops up involving one Trump operative, the RICO theory grows stronger. It’s easy to visualize a RICO case on trial. The prosecutor unveils an enormous chart, assembled with several other enormous charts, displaying the pyramid of perpetrators — the. bottom line of soldiers through the Capos and finally the top slot, usually occupied by a person called the Don. There’s some writing in that spot where ordinarily a photo would be. As one draws near, you can read it, It says:
* * *Next in Revolted Colonies: Can a sitting president be indicted?