In a sign that the pressure of multiple investigations into allegations of decades of illegal activities by the Trump Organization — the company still owned by the president and operated by his two eldest sons — are beginning to take their toll, the company is attempting a hail mary pass to prevent the now Democrat-led House Judiciary Committee from conducting “any and all” investigations into its operations and deals, The Washington Post reported today.
A lawyer for the Trump Organization, Alan S. Futerfas, sent a letter today to House Judiciary Committee chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) claiming that the committee’s investigation has been “tainted” because it had hired an outside attorney who once worked for a firm that did legal work for the company.
The outside attorney in question, Berry H. Berke of the law firm of Kramer Levin, was hired two weeks ago and described as “a nationally prominent expert on federal criminal law, including public corruption.”
It’s little wonder that the Trump Organization would object to having such an experienced hand on deck in the investigation into the shady dealings that have leaked out in multiple indictments and press reports, particularly after both Michael Cohen, the president’s longtime personal fixer, and Allen Weisselberg, the company’s CFO, have agreed to cooperate with prosecutors.
“This state of affairs violates recognized ethical obligations and irreparably taints the Committee’s work,” Futerfas wrote, adding that it “requires that the Committee cease and desist from any and all activities that are adverse to the Company.”
Berke’s firm, Kramer Levin, dismissed the Trump Organization attorney’s accusations as “baseless,” saying that his consultation for the Judiciary Committee “complies fully with all applicable ethical rules, does not pose any conflicts of interest and respects any obligations the firm may have.”
The law firm said that Berke was consulting with the Judiciary Committee in a personal capacity rather than as a partner in the firm and that the company would therefore not receive any money as a result of his work nor provide any external support to his efforts with the committee.
Kramer Levin further undermined the Trump Organization’s lawyer’s argument by confirming that their firm had no real conflicts of interest given the nature and scope of the work it had done for the president’s company.
“Indeed, for the past several years the firm’s work has involved only minor tasks for single purpose companies, such as pro forma amendments to condominium offering plans that date back more than a decade or the clearing up of minor building violations for management companies,” the statement said.
The firm congratulated Berke for his dedication to public service and said that he is “following in the finest traditions of the legal profession.”
Rep. Nadler’s committee is finally bringing congressional oversight to the legal and ethical challenges caused by Trump’s presidency, most notably his interactions with the Justice Department and whether the president’s many public and private statements and actions have constituted illegal attempts at obstruction of justice in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigations.
“We have to follow the facts and conduct the sort of oversight that has been completely absent over the last two years,” Congressman Nadler said in a statement when he announced that Berke and another outside expert, Norm Eisen, would be added to the Democrats’ support team.
Hopefully, the addition of Berke and Eisen will speed that process along once the Trump Organization’s lawyer’s objections to his presence on the Democratic investigation team are overcome.
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Original reporting by John Wagner . Tom Hamburger at The Washington Post