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“MUELLER NATION” SERIES OVERVIEW
Understanding Mueller’s strategic approach to the interlocking criminal allegations against Trump and his inner circle as a criminal conspiracy through the use of federal and state criminal indictments.
(This is Article #04 in our Mueller Nation series reporting on how Mueller strategically plans on taking down a corrupt U.S. President.)
Mueller’s indictment tool of choice.
Mueller’s indictment tool of choice appears to be the use of federal and state RICO statutes. As a seasoned prosecutor Mueller understands the interlocking web of criminality against Trump and his inner circle could facilitate any number of successfully indictments under RICO given Trump’s organized criminal activity is what the RICO statutes were designed to combat. During his investigation the Trump Organization and Kushner Companies triggered a number of potential criminal indictments that lead Mueller to investigate potential obstruction of justice, money laundering and other complex financial criminal offenses most commonly associated with building a RICO case. In spite of its name and origin, RICO is not limited to ‘mobsters’ or members of ‘organized crime’ as those terms are popularly understood. Rather, it covers those activities which Congress felt characterized the conduct of organized crime, no matter who actually engages in them. RICO was enacted by Congress in 1970, and can be applied by federal prosecutors or state prosecutors, both in criminal and civil cases, while in most states RICO prosecutions can be initiated by any district attorney. Given RICO’s very broad definition, Mueller has clearly decided he can use its full application both as a political as well as a law enforcement tool. Such use is not without presence. In 1985, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the more expansive use of the RICO statute. The court ruled in Sedima S.P.R.L. v. Imrex Co. that RICO could be applied in cases involving legitimate companies, organizations, or groups of individuals engaged in a pattern of criminal conduct.
Trump faces RICO.
It is worth noting that Donald Trump has previously faced RICO challenges, with one of the Trump University civil cases having been filed under a RICO class action suit in California. That case was in the process of moving forward when Trump settled the lawsuit for $25 million, without an admission of guilt, shortly after being elected president. Trump’s sometimes business partners, the Bayrock Group, are also defendants in a complex civil RICO case initiated by the firm’s former chief financial officer. Notably, the most common crimes under the RICO statute include money laundering, obstruction of justice, bankruptcy or securities fraud, bribery, theft, and embezzlement. Federal RICO defines these crimes as constituting criminal activity, and then criminalizes this pattern of criminal activity that uses any of the income or proceeds from those activities. Under RICO Mueller will not have to prove that Trump agreed with every other conspirator, knew all of the conspirators, or had full knowledge of all the details of the conspiracy to obstruct justice…All Mueller has to show is: (1) that Trump agreed to commit the obstructive offense through agreeing to participate in two obstructive acts; (2) that Trump knew the general status of the conspiracy to obstruct; and (3) that Trump knew the conspiracy extended beyond his individual role.
Following a grand jury indictment or plea.
Federal criminal cases under RICO brought forward by Mueller must have a trial following a grand jury indictment or end in a plea. Penalties for RICO convictions are substantial and include imprisonment, criminal forfeiture, plus fines as high as twice the gross profits or proceeds of the RICO offense. Under RICO statues Mueller is automatically given the authority of a forfeiture of all of Trump’s interest in his Trump organization. So not only does Trump lose all his money and property that can be traced back to the criminal conduct, but the Trump organization itself can be severely crippled. And Mueller does not need to wait until after a guilty verdict, when the property expected to become subject to forfeiture may be difficult to locate. The rules of procedure in a RICO prosecution allow Mueller to freeze Trump’s assets before the case even goes to trial. Asset seizures inherent in RICO can inflict tremendous damage on a criminal network. For The Trump Organization and Kushner Companies—both real estate empires with sprawling holdings—the potential risk from a RICO asset seizures is immense. All the more so because both companies continue to carry a great deal of debt on their property holdings, and any single asset seizure could quickly trigger a cascading financial collapse of their holdings. The sworn evidence gathered by Mueller thus far suggests that financing from Russia, Russians, and others from the former Soviet Union has been an integral part of the Trump business model for years. Potentially illegal activities from before the campaign, even if they were unrelated to the campaign itself and Russia’s interference on Trump’s behalf, will be used by Mueller to bring political and legal pressure on Trump while building a RICO obstruction of justice case against him.
RICO driven Trump criminal cases.
Mueller is looking at bringing down Trump, his inner circle and Trump Companies through a RICO lens. Expect to see Mueller moving forward in the future with three separate but related federal RICO criminal cases, as well as an indeterminate number of state RICO driven criminal cases, investigating: obstruction of justice since the election; activities before the presidential campaign, particularly complex financial crimes; and coordination with Russian or Russian-supported entities during the campaign.
This article is a work of editorial opinion that reflects the author’s viewpoint as supported by factual evidence. This article may not represent the opinions of RDTDAILY.COM, its parent or affiliates.
Paul Cogan is a writer for the RDTDAILY.COM based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He specializes in coverage of justice, political, economic, and environmental news. You can follow Paul on
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