The president of the United States is basically a walking subpoena at this point. Trump is in the unique position where not only is it clear he did crimes (according to Michael Cohen’s guilty plea), but everyone he could turn to as a shield from his crimes has already been interrogated/busted by the Feds, or in the case of Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg, is soon to take center stage in this investigation.
Speaking of Michael Cohen, his testimony is why this subpoena exists. Per The Washington Post:
New York state regulators have subpoenaed President Trump’s insurance broker, following testimony from former Trump attorney Michael Cohen that Trump exaggerated his wealth to insurance companies.
That subpoena — acknowledged Tuesday by broker Aon PLC — signaled another line of inquiry into Trump’s private business, this time by New York’s Department of Financial Services.
This is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s doing. Remember when everyone was in awe of how she asked substantive questions? (which really says more about the last 40 years of Democrats than AOC)
This is not really that remarkable, or at least it shouldn’t be. Ocasio-Cortez prepared extensively for this interrogation, and these four minutes are a perfect demonstration of how to be a legislator in a setting like that (so were Carolyn Maloney’s, but she doesn’t have AOC’s media buzz, so there was less of a reaction). The only reason AOC’s questioning stood out is because of Democrats like Debbie Wasserman Schultz who tried to turn this into a political spectacle by asking a man who pleaded guilty to lying to Congress to “speculate” on Trump. Speculation gets you nothing. Specific questioning gets you a subpoena. This divergence between DWS’s style and AOC’s substance is basically all you need to know about the friction in the current Democratic Party between the fresh blood and the old guard.
The Democrats in the House have also threatened Trump with subpoenas, as Trump rebuffed their attempt to get information about security clearances, and WaPo reports that Democrats are considering issuing a subpoena to get that information. They also have spoken about getting his tax returns (it was one of the first things Pelosi said she would do after taking back the House), and that would no doubt trigger a legal battle given how much Trump will fight that inquiry (the House has the right to see this information given its constitutional requirement of acting as a check on the executive).
The president reacted as coolly and calmly to these seemingly infinite investigations as you’d suspect.
Inflating your assets for insurance purposes is a crime. Directing your lawyer who helped inflate those assets to lie to Congress (but not directly) is a crime. Money laundering is a crime. Stealing charity money from kids with cancer is a crime. The President of the United States is such a transparent criminal that he is issuing a stress test for our democracy. The biggest question here is not whether Trump committed a crime—he did, multiple—but whether we can indict the president. Pretty ironic for a country created in reaction to a monarch abusing his absolute power.
Jacob Weindling is a staff writer for Paste politics. Follow him on Twitter at @Jakeweindling.