President Donald Trump amended his financial disclosure forms to show a payment to attorney Michael Cohen — and a former top law enforcement official says he’s in “trouble.”
The Office of Government Ethics publicly asked the Department of Justice to investigate the reimbursement to Cohen, which is essentially a criminal referral, and former FBI official Frank Figliuzzi explained to MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” what the news means for the president and his legal team.
“I come up with three scenarios, two of them are awful for the president,” said Figliuzzi, the former FBI assistant director for counterintelligence.
“The first one lacks credulity, that is that the president knew nothing about the payments,” Figliuzzi said. “He’s a good guy trying to repay his lawyer, Cohen, who tells him after the fact, ‘I need compensation.’ We’ve gone beyond that because Giuliani has said that the president knows Michael takes care of such things.”
“Scenario No. 2 is the that president knew this was being done, he knew fictitious corporations might be set up,” the former FBI official said. “He knew a bank, a loan might have been set up fictitiously and there was money laundering or foreign governments involved. That makes him a co-conspirator for those underlying violations.”
“The third scenario is he found out later that things done were illegal and he paid Michael back,” Figliuzzi added. “That makes him an accessory after the fact. He’s in trouble.”
After a commercial break, Figliuzzi said the president’s longtime lawyer presents a significant risk, because Cohen is likely facing a significant prison sentence once he’s inevitably indicted on a variety of criminal charges.
“He’s one of the few people that I believe can raise the flag and say, ‘I’ve got what you need’ — and I think that’s going to happen,” Figliuzzi said. “When he sees the federal sentencing guidelines, the criminal exposure he has, he goes back to his family and says, ‘You’re not going to see me for decades.’ He’s going to flip, and how does he save himself? He talks about the big man, he talks about the president of the United States.”