On Wednesday, former Watergate prosecutor Nick Akerman discussed the implications of the New York DA's investigation into the Trump Organization on MSNBC's "All In" — and why it could play out entirely differently from the federal investigations.
"The big difference here is that Cy Vance is the local prosecutor," said Akerman. "He is the state prosecutor in New York County. So he is not concerned with federal crimes. He’s concerned with state crimes. But I think we have a continuous theme here that pervades all of this. And it’s simply that all roads lead to Donald Trump’s tax returns. To make this a serious crime and a serious felony, falsifying business records is usually associated with falsifying numbers so that they falsify in turn the tax returns."
"Interesting," said anchor Ali Velshi.
"So in this particular case, it could very well be that they are looking at the false state tax returns that have been filed by the Trump Organization, filed by Donald Trump, and there could be all kinds of people who could have criminal liability here," continued Akerman. "If it’s just Donald Trump, obviously, the problem there is indicting a sitting president, although the Manhattan DA's office is not under the same stricture as the Department of Justice. They could indict a sitting president."
"Secondly, there are lots of people around Donald Trump who could be indicted for aiding and abetting and assisting in this," added Akerman. "For example, in the Watergate prosecution, we could have indicted Richard Nixon up until the point he was pardoned by President Ford. However, we wound up indicting four other people who assisted Nixon in the preparation of his false returns. So here you’ve got people like [Allen] Weisselberg, who was given immunity by the feds, but that immunity doesn’t carry over to the state. You’ve got people who were involved in actually dealing with this hush money, dealing with the books and records. So there are lots of potential defendants here who could be charged."