'Anti-democratic' and 'extremely dangerous': Democratic lawmaker slams newly revealed Trump DOJ abuses
On Monday, following reports on how the Justice Department was able to spy on members of Congress under former President Donald Trump, Rep. Jason Crow (D-CO) tore into federal prosecutors for participating in the politically motivated operation.
"Even if this wasn't directly targeting your own colleagues, is that an excuse, any excuse for these aggressive Justice Department tactics?" asked anchor Wolf Blitzer.
"No, Wolf. It's not," said Crow. "I mean, this isn't a policy dispute. We have to be clearly clear about this. This isn't differences of opinion or the best way to fund infrastructure or fund education. This is anti-democratic behavior that was pervasive under the Trump administration, whether it was intentional or unintentional, whether it got swept up or physically targeted, it is all part of the pattern and practice that we saw under those four years that's anti-democratic. It's extremely dangerous. And that's why we have to do things like password-protecting our democracy app, so we're not just relying on people's good intentions in the future. We're actually putting guardrails in place."
"Have you gotten any answers from the attorney general on the scope of this behavior by the Trump Justice Department?" asked Blitzer.
"The DOJ had reached out to the Intelligence Committee and briefed the leadership of the committee and the staff on the number of folks that were included in the subpoenas and the content of that information," said Crow. "I'm not going to go into that right now because there is an internal review, inspector general review, that's ongoing, as there should be. But, you know, I think we have to make sure we are doing a full investigation, whether that's through the DOJ IG or through the House Intelligence Committee, likely DOJ to get some answers here."
Jason Crow calls Trump DOJ's investigation of congressional staff "extremely dangerous" www.youtube.com
The top prosecutor who led the investigation into the now-defunct Trump University explained why he thinks Trump Organization Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg held a larger position at the company than his business card title revealed.
Former New York Assistant Attorney General Tristan Snell was interviewed by MSNBC chief legal correspondent Ari Melber on "The Beat."
"There are experts here who say money man only scratches the surface, he was at times basically the acting CEO," Melber noted. "What, if anything, can you tell us about that based on your knowledge and is that good or bad for him as he faces this heat?"
"Well, first off, you can find out a lot about an organization, about a company, about a target without actually having them cooperate with you. So we were able to get a lot of information on how the Trump Organization worked and Weisselberg's role in it despite the fact that we did not have Weisselberg's cooperation," Snell explained. "We never even felt like we needed to bring him in as a witness because we had already had enough knowledge of everything that we didn't really need Weisselberg, but we were still able to find the Trump Organization liable and a lot of why the judge in the Trump University case decided that Trump Organization was liable was because of Weisselberg's very heavy-handed day-to-day control of the organization."
"Very much he was the acting CEO. II would also say that he was basically the COOO, the Chief Operating Officer of the Trump Organization, a role which has never really been filled, at least not that I know of in the past 20 years," he said, although Matthew Calameri has taken on the position since the end of the Trump University case.
"So the CFO, you know, they're the ones actually keeping the books and tracking the P&Is and seeing exactly what money is coming in, what money is going out, and making high-level decisions based on that. Weisselberg was doing more than that, e would decide which businesses would live and which businesses would die," he said "A lot of times it was Weisselberg who was the enforcer, he was not just the bean counter, he had a lot of power within the organization to determine what businesses were going to do what, which ones would go forward and which ones would be shut down."
The Beat www.youtube.com
On Monday, the Wall Street Journal reported that Matthew Calamari, a former bodyguard to Donald Trump and chief operating officer of the Trump Organization, is under investigation by Manhattan prosecutors as part of their probe into whether the benefits offered by the business amount to illegal tax evasion.
"Prosecutors' interest in Mr. Calamari, once Mr. Trump's bodyguard, indicates that their probe into the Trump Organization's alleged practice of providing some employees with cars and apartments extends beyond Allen Weisselberg, the company's chief financial officer, and his family," reported Rebecca Ballhaus and Corinne Ramey. "Receiving benefits — such as free apartments, subsidized rent or car leases — from an employer, and not paying taxes on such benefits, can be a crime, although experts said prosecutors rarely bring cases on such perks alone."
The report noted that neither Calamari nor Weisselberg have currently been accused of a crime. However, sources say that Trump is keeping a close eye on Weisselberg for any signs that he could flip on the family for a deal.
Calamari is a colorful figure; according to an anecdote from a 1993 book, he told Trump that he would be willing to kill for his boss.
"Prosecutors in recent weeks advised Mr. Calamari and his son, Matthew Calamari Jr., that they should hire their own lawyer, people familiar with the matter said," said the report. "The elder Mr. Calamari, who works as the Trump Organization's chief operating officer, and his son, the company's corporate director of security, had previously been represented by a lawyer who was also representing other Trump Organization employees, one of the people said. Such a recommendation is often a sign that prosecutors' interest in a subject is intensifying, but doesn't mean the Calamaris will be charged with wrongdoing."
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