Guest Opinion


Mueller's Focus Is Money Laundering

Precedent Suggest It Will Be Wrapped Up Sometime in July


By: Perry Hicks, Private Investigator (Retired)  Special to GCN   5/21/18


A Federal agent can be identified by what he wears: A suit, maybe Raybans, and an air of arrogance.- Retired Federal Agent


What has been dribbling out about Mueller's probe we can be certain has not leaked from the investigation itself. Mueller's team has been extraordinarily disciplined. Each member has been hand picked for both their loyalty to Mueller as well as their dedication to the mission of bringing down the president.


The irony of this should not be lost on the reader. Fired former FBI Director James Comey has publically complained that President Trump required of him his personal loyalty and likened the president to a “mob boss” because of it.


What has been published as of late by the New York Times has come from outside sources, such as defense attorneys for Mueller's targets and good old fashioned journalist research into public records. Some, such as the leaked questions to be put before the president, had to have come from somewhere within Trump's camp. Trump's  counsel, Rudy Giuliani, however, has denied personally doing it.


However, Giuliani, has certainly been running a PR campaign to delegitimize Mueller and the entire Russian Collusion investigation. Conversely, the Democrat party, the mainstream media, and the vast majority of Hollywood celebrities, have waged a relentless war to delegitimize the president. The problem for Mueller is the optics left by the latter, but also the audacious acts of former FBI Director, James Comey.


As previously reported by GCN, over the years Democrats have been ratcheting up lawfare against its political opponents. Cited was how then Alaska Governor Sarah Palin had been literally run out of office by lawsuit after lawsuit challenging her ethics. Even though she had been cleared of wrongdoing, Alaskan law did not provide for reimbursing governors for defending themselves from lawsuits lodged against them in the course of their office. By the time Palin resigned, her legal bills amounted to around a half million dollars.


The relentless lawsuits not only threatened to bankrupt Palin's family, they effectively obstructed her administration of government.


Then there has been repeated court challenges to Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. The latest has come from former Obama Attorney General, Eric Holder, who is not a
Wisconsin resident, but a resident of Washington DC, just as is
Barack Obama.


Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell was prosecuted by then US Attorneys Dana Boente (now FBI General Counsel) and Michael S. Dry. They did this without possessing a scintilla of evidence. SCOTUS not only overturned the conviction but also questioned the motive for the presiding judge's jury instructions, asserting they were “not harmless beyond a reasonable doubt.”


That brings us to the president.


Russian Collusion Probe Not About Collusion


Conservative media pundits have oft opined about the origin and nature of the Russian Collusion probe and proclaim it, as does the president, a “witch hunt.” While they are  absolutely correct, in the end none of this will matter. The war of optics will be crushed under the weight of facts and law. Comey's hypocrisy and obstruction of justice, and Mueller's true motive,will not only be irrelevant, it will be immediately forgotten.


Mueller is actually conducting a classic white collar crime investigation using the same tactics employed against organized crime. Specifically, Mueller is focusing on money laundering and profiting from holding office. He needs witnesses and he has been circling his targets, isolating them, raiding their homes and offices, bankrupting them, then squeezing them to give up incriminating evidence on the president.


Counter to the claims of syndicated talk radio celebrities Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and even Mark Levin, the argument that the FBI had placed a “spy” in the Trump campaign is tenuous. The government has empowered itself to accept “voluntary” assistance from informants- even ones who could be charged with crimes of their own.


For example, a drug user known by investigators to be committing other crimes may be positioned to assist the government in apprehending other and possibly more  valuable perpetrators. The user may be offered the opportunity to “work off their charge,” meaning given reduced charges, a sweetheart plea deal, or even a free pass altogether. Of course, the latter would require delivering up a substantial number of criminals, sometimes fixed at a minimum of three, or better yet, kingpins. The benefit they receive all depends on what they can deliver.


The so-called “spy” planted in the Trump campaign could also be considered such an informant. Hence, we are again back to optics; whether a plant is a spy or an informant depends on the government's perceived motive. Surprisingly, probable cause is actually not required to merely launch an investigation.


Mark Levin, also a constitutional lawyer, is correct, pending a SCOTUS opinion otherwise, that a sitting president cannot be indicted, nor for the same reason, subpoenaed before a grand jury. A president accused of a crime must first be removed from office through the process of impeachment and conviction before he or she may be indicted and tried in a court of law.


Mueller's hurdle to clear is then, optics. A Federal judge has already voiced skepticism from the bench but another has not. Republicans will be recalcitrant. Democrats will be adamant. Hence, Mueller's team has to present an airtight case to the American people in order to garner support for impeachment and the all important conviction in the senate.


As previously stated, efforts to erode Trump's public support has so far failed. Even late night show host Jimmy Kimmel has stated that the constant Trump bashing has turned off the public. The alleged Stormy Daniels affair has only garnered yawns. To secure an impeachment, Mueller has to win over the public with the only thing that hasn't yet been tried: financial crimes such as profiting from office, tax evasion, or laundering money.


To the latter, it should be presented in a way that would leave the president beholding to a foreign interest. Any one of these crimes will likely lead to the others, making for a prosecution of multiple felonies.


Pursuit Of Financial Crimes


Both the president and the reader can be rest assured that Mueller has the president's personal tax returns but also those for any corporate entity Mueller so desires. No question will be put before the president that Mueller's team does not already possess the answer.


Of considerable import to Mueller's investigation is the Deutsche Bank. It has already pleaded guilty to rate rigging in Europe and is under DOJ investigation here for laundering Russian money.  Trump is known to have owed $300 million to this bank at the time of his election.


Trump's false sense of confidence in legal outcomes arises from his extensive civil litigation experience. However, criminal law is an entirely different matter as prosecutorial success ranges up into the high ninety percent level. Defendants reject plea deals at their own peril.


Another twist is that the president need not know if the money involved is actually being laundered. All that is required is that he knows where the money came from, hence Mueller's intense hunt for records of all kinds.


The reader may exclaim, Isn't that precisely what Hillary and Bill Clinton did? Did they not set up a “foundation” of dubious legitimacy raking in millions of dollars from foreign interests? Wasn't Bill Clinton paid $500,000 for a single speech in Russia during the very time his wife as secretary of state was considering the infamous Uranium One deal? Was not Mueller director of the FBI during this same period? Could the 33,000 missing emails from her private and wholly unprotected email server have contained damning evidence of her selling her office? Did her server not just contain, but unlawfully distribute classified documents? Did she not access her server via Russian infrastructure during her 2012 visit to St. Petersburg; sending and receiving forty emails thus exposing the defenseless server's contents to Russian intelligence?


The answer to all of these questions, is “yes,” and yet, James Comey interceded to spare her a criminal prosecution and did so after it was reported that then Attorney General Loretta Lynch and husband Bill had a private meeting on board a government jet. Just a few days later Comey gave Hillary a pass saying no credible prosecutor would pursue the case. The very next month he launches his collusion investigation into Trump.


Therein lies Mueller's problem: The incessant Trump bashing and his and Comey's perfidy followed up with Comey's admissions during his laughably named “Higher Loyalty” book tour. Accordingly, many have been left deeply antagonistic toward the probe.


A Matter of  Class


What stands out regarding the various players in this saga is their crassness. Take for example, Trump's “personal attorney,” Michael Cohen. It has been alleged he shopped himself around as an influential Trump insider and actually found buyers for his “consulting.” He is also alleged to have taken money from certain Russian oligarchs.


Other Trump associates have their own checkered pasts with their own close ties to Ukraine and Russia, particularly Paul Manafort.


Then there is their attire. None of these players wear subdued suits like a government agent, but at least to my taste, dress in a way that reinforces Comey's description of Trump of acting like a mobster.


Storing (Hiding) Wealth


What is of an intense interest to Mueller is whether or not said oligarchs are storing wealth in Trump real estate projects with the intent to extract it at a later date as clean money.


What makes money dirty is how it is derived: Drugs, human trafficking, prostitution, child porn, smuggling, fraud, identity theft, and other serious crimes.


Mueller's critics allege his indictment of thirteen Russian nationals is merely a publicity stunt as he has no power to compel them to come to the US and face justice. This argument is actually a straw man as Mueller's true power is to freeze assets, which incidently, was the subject of discussion at  the Trump Tower meeting over the Magnitsky Act.


The welfare of children was never the issue. The concern was how Russian oligarchs had had their assets frozen by Obama in retaliation for the jailing and death of Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky. The oligarchs wanted to explore the possibility of their money being released by an executive order should Trump win.


Cohen is also alleged to have approached AT&T, who was trying to merge with Time Warner. During the campaign, Trump had decried the merger as concentrating too much power in too few hands. AT&T paid Cohen and initially thought the $600,000 “consulting” fee was a good investment but later admitted to regretting it.


Of course, Cohen is not Trump. It is both possible and likely he could have just gone renegade for his own personal gain.


Also of interest is first son-in-law, Jared Kushner,who purchased the 41 story tower located at at 666 (you can't make this stuff up) 5th Avenue. He is reportedly near closing a deal with a Qatar investment company, Brookfield Asset Management. The state owned Qatar Investment Authority is reportedly the largest stakeholder in Brookfield's real estate division, Brookfield Property Partners. The deal will save Jared's company from ruin as 666 occupancy reportedly can't cover but half of the monthly loan payment.


Jared and First Daughter Ivanka have incidently also been heavily involved in Middle East peace efforts.


Going back to Stormy Daniels, her attorney, Michael Avenatti, also has his own issues, not only with Mueller, but also the California State Bar. He is also a long time Democrat activist and claims to have had at one time worked at a political opposition research firm with none other than Rahm Emanuel; making all of Daniels' claims about Trump highly suspicious. Emanuel is famous for his quip,”Never let a crisis go to waste.”


Emanuel was, of course, Obama's chief of staff, served on Clinton's campaign finance committee back in 1992, and for three terms was a US congressman from Illinois's 5th District.



Potential to Destroy Both Parties?


A white collar crime investigation can typically take three years, but that is with limited resources. Although running against the clock, Mueller's resources are virtually unlimited.  None the less, the Hatch Act, DOJ policy, politics and the White House pressure him to wrap it up well before the midterm elections. Giuliani claims it will all be over by September 1. Others believe it will be after the election, providing Democrats can win back a sufficient number of House seats. Still others believe the investigation will be wrapped up sometime in July.


Possible Consequences of Attempting to Remove Trump


Mueller has surely learned from Comey's mistakes. He will want to present his findings to both the DOJ and Congress with such convincing evidence that his conclusion(s) will be irrefutable. These findings may likely ensnare other members of Trump's family with indictments triggering Trump to issue pardons thus unleashing a Constitutional crisis.


However, Trump and his legion of supporters will be pointing fingers and renewing demands for Hillary to be investigated and indicted for selling her office and committing obstruction; her many devices were destroyed and her hard drives “bleached” clean by a shredding program. It will be argued that she knew or should have known that she was destroying evidence. Comey's citation of  “intent” does not follow well known norms.


Assuming the worst, the Democrats in their triumph over Trump will open up a can of worms of their own. The evidence of their party's election rigging will be revisited with a vengeance. The Democrat's socialist wing is still resentful of how the party elites rigged the primary against Bernie Sanders (and whose wife, by the way, has her own legal issues.) The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, or DCCC, has made no bones about who actually picks party candidates and it isn't the voter.


Maryland congressman Steny Hoyer was actually been recorded advising a Colorado congressional primary candidate that the decision to support his opponent had been made “early on” by the committee. The candidate was advised to drop out.


The internecine warfare unleashed by an attempt to remove Trump will roil the American political landscape and severely damage, if not destroy, one party or the other. It could possibly be both.


During the campaign, Trump's claims of the system being rigged and his campaign (Trump Tower headquarters) being wiretapped (surveilled) were denigrated as being bombastic at best and probably lies. However, time has proven all he said was true: There is a deep state that demands to be served; Washington is a dark swamp of corruption that needs to be drained; elections are being rigged; Hillary is crooked.


Not said but becoming evident to all is that the parties are run by political elites that dismiss American voters as increasingly unmanageable and so work to replace them with more malleable foreigners. Therefore, putting American first is politically incorrect to the point Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA) has even gone so far as shouting out on the House floor, “... this business about 'making America great again,' it is your president that’s dividing this country.”


Patriotism divisive. What has America come to?