If you asked Donald Trump what he thinks the next several months will hold for him, he’d likely tell you that he’ll be holding some rallies, playing some golf, and getting ready to head back to the White House. He’d tell you that because he’s a disturbed man who apparently thinks that a president who loses an election can simply be “reinstated” to the presidency, like one can have their cable reinstated after canceling it and then panicking about how they’re going to be able to watch Vanderpump Rules. In reality, what the next several months, and potentially years, hold for the ex-president are a lot of meetings with attorneys about how he’s legally in the bad place—that is, assuming they’re still keeping him apprised of the situation and aren’t yet at a point where they just park him in front of the TV “while the grown-ups talk.”
Most recently, the no good, very bad news for Agent Orange has involved the impaneling of a grand jury by the Manhattan district attorney as part of Cyrus Vance Jr.’s criminal probe. Last month, The Washington Post reported that such a group will be hearing evidence concerning the ex-president, his business, and its executives, and on Friday, it emerged that one of the most senior officials at the Trump Organization has reportedly already testified. Which seems less than ideal for the owner of said Trump Organization.
Per ABC News:
Jeff McConney is among a number of witnesses that have already appeared before the special grand jury that will decide whether criminal charges are warranted against the former president, his company, or any of its employees, [sources with direct knowledge of the matter] said. McConney, who serves as a senior vice president and controller for the Trump Organization, is the first employee of the former president’s company called to testify, the sources said, and his testimony is a sign that prosecutors have burrowed deep into the company’s finances. “Complex accounting issues are crucial to this investigation, as is the knowledge and intent of the people at the Trump Organization involved in these transactions,” said Daniel R. Alonso, the former chief assistant district attorney in Manhattan and now a partner in private practice at Buckley LLP. “In any case like that, the two most important people—whether as targets or witnesses—are the company’s CFO and the company’s controller,” Alonso told ABC News.
McConney was mentioned by Trump in his 2004 book, Trump: Think Like a Billionaire: Everything You Need to Know About Success, Real Estate, and Life. In a chapter titled “How to Stay on Top of Your Finances,” Trump describes an interaction he says he had with McConney in the late 1980s in which Trump implored McConney to always question invoices and never accept a contractor’s first bid. “Jeff got the message,” Trump wrote, “and is doing a terrific job. He looks out for my bottom line as if the money were his own.”
In other words, McConney likely knows a whole lot of information about the Trump Organization, including the kind that might be of interest to prosecutors. And maybe even some about another figure at the firm:
As part of his probe, Manhattan district attorney Cy Vance has also been investigating the Trump Organization’s chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg’s financial dealings—specifically, what fringe benefits he received from the Trumps in addition to his salary, and whether taxes were appropriately paid for any such compensation, sources have previously told ABC News. “If, as has been reported, the D.A. is targeting Allen Weisselberg, it’s a logical step to seek testimony from the controller, who presumably reports to him and works with him every day,” Alonso said. A spokesman for Vance declined to comment on the development, but ABC News has previously reported that Vance has sought to flip Weisselberg into a cooperating witness against Trump and the company.
Weisselberg’s former daughter-in-law, Jennifer Weisselberg, has been interviewed by the district attorney’s office, she told ABC News, and was asked about topics ranging from school tuition and cars to the family apartment she lived in that the Trump Organization allegedly paid for. “Some of the questions that they were asking were regarding Allen’s compensation at the apartment at Trump Place on Riverside Boulevard,” Jennifer Weisselberg told ABC News in an interview last month. A spokesperson for the Trump Organization did not respond to a request for comment from ABC News.
Last month, after news of the convening of the grand jury broke, a source from Trumpworld told Politico that there was “definitely a cloud of nerves in the air,” with the adviser saying that while Trump is no stranger to legal issues, this situation feels different, in part because prosecutors are trying to gain the cooperation of Weisselberg, who’s described himself as Trump’s “eyes and ears” at the company. “I think the Weisselberg involvement and the wild card of that makes the particular situation more real, because there’s no sort of fluff and made-up fictional circumstances around the guy,” this person told Politico. “The fact that they’re dealing with a numbers guy who just has plain details makes people more nervous. This is not a Michael Cohen situation.” In related Trump legal news, Politico also reported last month that former prosecutors and defense attorneys believe Vance could be exploring the possibility of arguing that Trump‘s entire business empire is a corrupt enterprise, under a New York law known as “little RICO,” which was modeled after the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, originally used to crack down on the mafia. The state law can be used with proof of as few as three crimes involving a business or other enterprise and carries a minimum mandatory sentence of one to three years—and a maximum term of up to 25. “It’s a very serious crime,” said Michael Shapiro, a defense attorney who used to prosecute corruption cases in New York. “Certainly, there are plenty of things an organization or business could do to run afoul of enterprise corruption, if they’re all done with the purpose of enhancing the revenue of the enterprise illegally…it’s an umbrella everything else fits under.”
If you would like to receive the Levin Report in your inbox daily, click here to subscribe.
Jeff Bezos is leaving planet earth
Just for a little while though:
Jeff Bezos will be flying to space on the first crewed flight of the New Shepard, the rocket ship made by his space company, Blue Origin. The flight is scheduled for July 20th, just 15 days after he is set to resign as CEO of Amazon. Blue Origin said Bezos’ younger brother, Mark Bezos, will also join the flight. “Ever since I was five years old, I’ve dreamed of traveling to space,” Bezos, 57, said in a Monday morning Instagram post. “On July 20th, I will take that journey with my brother. The greatest adventure, with my best friend.”
For people who don’t own the company, Blue Origin has not said how much regular tickets will cost, though one can snag a seat through a month-long auction that’s currently under way, the bidding for which hit $3.2 million Monday afternoon.
Democrats are pretty pissed at Joe Manchin
That tends to happen when one singlehandedly f–ks over the voting rights of millions of people. Per Politico:
The party’s “For the People Act,” a sprawling bill that would rewrite the rules governing federal elections, has been stalled in the Senate since narrowly passing the House on a near party-line vote earlier this year. But Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) came out against the bill in his home-state Charleston Gazette-Mail over the weekend, dooming this version of the legislation in the 50-50 chamber.
The fierce backlash to Manchin’s announcement reflects how important the bill was to many Democrats, even more than its label in the House and the Senate: H.R. 1 and S. 1, the monikers traditionally given to the majority’s top priority. Activists and lawmakers on Capitol Hill cast the legislation as a bulwark against restrictive new Republican proposals on voting in states across the country. But the bill also became a vehicle for all types of government reform — including proposals that have been bogged down in filibusters, partisan opposition and even internal resistance among some Democrats over the last decade, like sweeping rules about “dark money” disclosure and how campaigns can raise their money.
In his weekend op-ed, Manchin said he wouldn’t back the bill because of a lack of Republican support, writing “partisan voting legislation will destroy the already weakening binds of our democracy,” which is a strange argument for voting against a piece of legislation attempting to save democracy.
Want to travel to the depths of hell?
Today’s your lucky day! Per The Hill:
Former President Trump is launching a speaking tour with former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly that will aim to “provide a never before heard inside view of his administration.” The series, dubbed “The History Tour,” will feature four live conversations across the country between Trump and O’Reilly in December. The tour “will discuss exactly how things were accomplished, as well as challenges, both good and bad,” according to a press release announcing the series.
Trump in a statement said the conversations will be “wonderful but hard-hitting sessions” that will discuss the “real problems” occurring in the U.S. “I will be focusing on greatness for our Country, something seldom discussed in political dialogue. If we don’t make our Country great again, we will soon no longer have a Country! I look forward to working with Bill, who right now has the #1 bestselling book, to openly discuss the real problems of our Country, and how to solve them,” Trump said.
O’Reilly and Trump, of course, have much in common, namely that they‘re both blowhards who’ve been accused of sexual harassment by scores of women, which both of them have denied. In 2017, after it was revealed that Fox News‘ parent company had paid a whopping $13 million in settlements to five women who accused O‘Reilly of sexual harassment or verbal abuse, Trump told the New York Times, “He’s a person I know well — he is a good person. I think he shouldn’t have settled; personally I think he shouldn’t have settled. Because you should have taken it all the way. I don’t think Bill did anything wrong.”
Inside the Koch-Backed Effort to Block the Largest Election-Reform Bill in Half a Century (New Yorker)