It’s pretty clear that president Trump is guilty of obstruction of justice. But the problem has always been, well why was he obstructing justice? The standard story is that Trump was working with the Russians to manipulate election results, and wanted to prevent investigators from discovering the extent of his cooperation with the Russian government to win the 2016 election. Trump’s response to this has been to deny “collusion.”
Tangentially, his supporters in the media have argued that even if Trump had contacts with Russians before the election, he was entitled to do that because he was working to become the next president. It’s legitimate for a presidential candidate to begin to develop political relationships with international leaders, the argument goes.
Legal scholars have also thrown up some alarm bells, arguing that the only law that Trump could have violated by working with the Russians is over 200 years old and has never led to a successful criminal prosecution. Thus, if “collusion” or conspiracy with the Russians to win an election is all we have at the end of the day, the case seems thin.
In recent months, however, we’ve been treated to a steady stream of news reports indicating that Trump was laundering money for and taking money from Russian organized crime. Some even speculate that Trump’s properties have been funded almost entirely with Russian mafia money. A witness in one Congressional investigation had this to say:
Witness Glenn Simpson told the House Intelligence Committee the money trail to “golf courses in Scotland and Ireland” was “concerning”.
He claimed financial statements obtained by his firm Fusion GPS for a dossier on Mr Trump, right, showed “enormous amounts of capital flowing into these projects from unknown sources”.
Simpson went on to state that he believed the money came from Russian organized crime and corruption. The idea that Trump takes money from Russia has even been admitted to by his own son, Eric Trump, who told a reporter years ago:
‘Well, we don’t rely on American banks. We have all the funding we need out of Russia.’ I said, ‘Really?’ And he said, ‘Oh, yeah. We’ve got some guys that really, really love golf, and they’re really invested in our programs. We just go there all the time.’
I’ve argued before on this blog and will continue to argue that the real Trump crimes here have to do with money laundering, fraud, tax evasion, and other various steps Trump has taken to receive illegal money such as criminal proceeds, corrupt government proceeds, organized crime money, and cash from Russian billionaires. And if he was obstructing the FBI investigation because he did not want his money crimes to be discovered, he will be going to prison for a long time–regardless of what “collusion” happened during the 2016 election.