Trump investigation in House to be led by prosecutor ‘comfortable charging him with felony campaign finance fraud’

‘We’ve had some kindling and now we have real smoke,’ Daniel Goldman says 

Chris Riotta
New York
Tuesday 05 March 2019 19:52 GMT
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The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence has hired Daniel Goldman, former Assistant US Attorney from the Southern District of New York, to spearhead an investigation into Donald Trump’s White House administration.

Mr Goldman began serving as a senior adviser and director of investigations last month after being hired by Adam Schiff, the committee’s Democratic chairman.

A career prosecutor with experience combatting Russian crime operations, Mr Goldman previously told The Independent in an interview last year he would “feel comfortable charging the president with felony campaign finance fraud based on what we know now,” adding an important caveat: “So long as Michael Cohen could be used as a witness,” he said, “and if the president could actually be indicted.”

“We’ve had some kindling and now we have real smoke – but we’re not yet at a bonfire, though that certainly seems to be the direction we’re heading,” Mr Goldman said in December 2018 – nearly three months before the president’s former lawyer Michael Cohen delivered his explosive public testimony on Capitol Hill in which he accused Mr Trump of criminal conduct while in the White House. “I think the president’s most concrete legal jeopardy that we know of in the public is the campaign finance fraud crimes that Michael Cohen plead guilty to.”

The hiring announcement – first reported by The New Yorker – arrives as multiple House committees launch aggressive investigations into the president’s financial dealings and involvement with Russia during the 2016 election and dating back to the 1990s. The investigations have been launched by newly-appointed Democratic chairmen after the party took control of the House of Representatives in the 2018 election.

Mr Goldman worked for a decade at the Southern District of New York, which has now found itself at the core of multiple investigations into Mr Trump. Cohen revealed during his public testimony last week the office is investigating previously-unreported potential crimes committed by the president, and that he was not allowed to discuss the last conversation he had with his former boss as that was included in the Southern District’s ongoing probes.

Mr Goldman previously served as the deputy chief of the organised-crime section at the US Attorney’s Office in Manhattan, New York. His career has largely focused on prosecuting organised crime syndicates – he oversaw prosecutions of a number of Russian criminals involved in financial crimes such as health-care fraud and nearly 30 defendants all accused of money laundering and racketeering.

House investigators have also requested documents and information from translators who sat in on meetings between Mr Trump and Vladimir Putin, in which readouts and details have not been entirely disclosed to the public.

In his interview with The Independent, Mr Goldman said: “There are many strong legal arguments for why a sitting president can be indicted.”

Those included “issues with statutes to limitations and fading memories, but also basic fundamental principles that no one should be able to defraud the voting public to attain office and then be protected by that office,” he said.

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However, he noted that “right now the policy at the DOJ is a sitting president cannot be indicted and unless that is reversed then there won’t be an indictment by either the special counsel’s office or the southern district.”

Mr Schiff’s committee will be focused on determining the extent of Mr Trump and his campaign’s awareness of Russia’s intention to sway the 2016 election against his Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton, as the US Intelligence Community has since confirmed took place.

The White House did not return requests for comment.

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