Mueller prosecutor connects the dots in Trump Org case using obscure law to investigate real estate fraud
Speaking to MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell on Tuesday, former senior prosecutor for Robert Mueller, Andrew Weissmann, explained that the Martin Act is typically used in the New York AG's office to investigate commodities fraud, but also extends to real estate fraud.
"It also has a provision that covers fraud or deceit in the sales of real estate in New York state," Weissmann explained. "Where we don't know what's being looked at. If you narrow it down to what is the attorney general has criminal jurisdiction over is the Martin Act. If you look at the provision of the Martin Act, it is security and commodities and real estate. So, if you connect the dots, that's what the New York attorney general has now in her sight in connection with the Trump investigation."
He told O'Donnell that in New York, Trump's name was plastered all over the city. Hotels, residences, and other places where he licensed his name. Attorney General Letitia James has been investigating all of those and connecting them to the "deals" Trump did.
"Just because there is an investigation, it does not mean there is going to be a liability and it certainly does not mean even if it is going to be a liability that it is going to go all the way to the top," Weissmann explained. "That being said it is important to remember that the Trump Organization is small and Donald Trump is a notorious micromanager. If there is something there, somebody is going to take the fault for that. I suspect that Letitia James is going to up on the pressure."
Jurisdiction is decided by where the Trump Organization is located and, clearly, that is New York.
"This is really the ground zero for where you would expect an investigation to be into Trump as a businessman to be housed here," Weissmann continued. He went on to say that it's unclear how much Trump's criminal defense lawyers already knew about the developments before the call from the attorney general's office.
"This could be something that's taken them by surprise," he said. "We don't have a lot of insights into the communications that have been going on with the state and that speaks well of the state that they are keeping their investigation under wraps and we'll only unveil it if and when there are charges. It is surprising that we have not heard anything of a defense lawyer because if you look at the Rudy Giuliani situation, you have a defense lawyer taken a different tactic of trying to make everything public and thinking the best defense is a good offense."
He went on to say that it's possible that the efforts to get CFO Allen Weisselberg to flip on Trump have been successful. There's no real way to know until there are indictments or court filings made public.
See his full analysis in the video below:
The Martin Act www.youtube.com
'New York AG saw something': Former federal prosecutor says new coordination in Trump Org. case is 'big move'
Legal experts and politicos flocked to Twitter upon the news that the New York attorney general is joining the criminal complaint against former President Donald Trump's New York company.
In a statement from Attorney General Letitia James' spokesperson, it was revealed that the Trump Organization was informed that they're now part of a New York criminal probe along with the financial probe from the district attorney.
Former New Jersey federal prosecutor Elie Honig told CNN's Don Lemon that the NYAG saw something and that's why they're joining the DA's case.
It was clearly "something that has led them to expand and change the nature of their investigation because going back to 2019, the New York attorney general has been in the civil lane not criminal while the D.A. has been in the criminal lane," said Honig. "Now the AG has seen something that's prompted them to make a decision to say, 'now we need to cross over and join you, district attorney's office, on the criminal side. That's a big move. We don't know what it is or what it was. I want to say this about the New York's attorney general's office, I've worked with them on various cases. They don't do every kind of crime. If there's one thing they specialize in, it's complex fraud, that's what they pride themselves on. It's in their wheelhouse so it's a significant development and certainly not good news for the Trump Organization."
Trump's people are refusing to comment.
See the video and other comments from experts below:
bad news for trump www.youtube.com
Trump is going to flip out.— Bradley P. Moss (@Bradley P. Moss)1621389577.0
NY AG James was investigating civil tax issues at the Trump Org, as well as Deutsche Bank loans for Trump Tower Chi… https://t.co/ZJvFJkQ5eB— Robert J. DeNault (@Robert J. DeNault)1621390485.0
NY AG has converted her investigation into Trump Organization into a criminal investigation. Could be very signifi… https://t.co/4W3pODcjhk— Harry Litman (@Harry Litman)1621389918.0
Another significant point: NY AG is working in cooperation with NY DA. They must be bringing something to the ta… https://t.co/EBH6wWSDVk— Harry Litman (@Harry Litman)1621390562.0
@AWeissmann_ making the salient point on @Lawrence : NY's Martin Act is incredibly broad. reaches almost everythi… https://t.co/O9ODxtqVS4— Harry Litman (@Harry Litman)1621391240.0
BREAKING- I see the Martin Act coming in to play as that gives the NY AG *criminal* jurisdiction. https://t.co/rjHQVBIFsN— Andrew Weissmann (@Andrew Weissmann)1621391397.0
Here we go. Bring the pain @TishJames https://t.co/0WxHgV16gm— Andrew C Laufer, Esq (@Andrew C Laufer, Esq)1621389883.0
The Trumps have never been “purely civil.” But in all seriousness, this is serious: Active criminal investigation.… https://t.co/w8Jo8P6wCx— Jed Shugerman (@Jed Shugerman)1621389842.0
A long time coming, but it has come. https://t.co/ExVor3xAp1— Neal Katyal (@Neal Katyal)1621390604.0
Whoa ... https://t.co/aCnPg1AFQm— digby (@digby)1621390213.0
CNN's Chris Cuomo reported Tuesday evening that New York Attorney General Letitia James will join the Manhattan District Attorney's investigation into the Trump Organization.
The news came from the AG's office noting that D.A. Cyrus Vance Jr.'s investigation into the Trump business
"We have informed the Trump Organization that our investigation into the org is not purely civil in nature. We are actively investigating the Trump Org. in a criminal capacity along with the Manhattan DA."
It's unclear how long the investigation has been a criminal one.
According to Cuomo, it "sounds like bad news for the Trump Organization."
NEW: The @NewYorkStateAG investigation into the Trump Organization is “no longer purely civil.” “We are now active… https://t.co/TD9G4vcNFo— Sonia Moghe (@Sonia Moghe)1621389038.0
See the video below:
Trump Org www.youtube.com
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