Once again, Donald Trump’s former attorney and fixer, Michael Cohen, has helped expose another piece of the puzzle and another crime that his former client committed.
First, a bit of background: Earlier this year, the Wall Street Journal published an article alleging that Trump ordered Cohen to pay a technology company thousands of dollars to rig online polls to suggest that Trump had more public support than he actually did in the early days of the 2016 race for the White House. As CNN notes:
“(Cohen) paid John Gauger, the owner of RedFinch Solutions LLC, between $12,000 and $13,000 for activities related to Trump’s campaign, including ‘trying unsuccessfully to manipulate two online polls in Mr. Trump’s favor.'”
Shortly after the Journal reported those facts, Cohen confirmed them, issuing a statement in which he said he had made those payments “at the direction of and for the sole benefit of Donald J. Trump. I truly regret my blind loyalty to a man who doesn’t deserve it.”
That could be a campaign finance violation. But as MSNBC legal analyst and host Ari Melber points out, it also suggests criminal behavior when it comes to tax law:
“Not only is there a question of should they have been counted as election payments. I think that’s debatable, by the way. But then it says in the same filing that they grossed up for tax purposes Cohen’s request for reimbursement of 180 to $360,000. So you have a hanging potential tax violation, which is a federal crime, against the Trump Organization and any people involved including potentially his family. It doesn’t say who. There’s a lot more in here that has legal liability that hasn’t been completely finished in the investigation.”
Lying to the IRS is a very serious crime, as is tax fraud. And since the money came from the Trump Organization, that means the president’s children — all of whom are intimately involved in the business — are also in serious legal jeopardy on charges involving federal tax laws.