Everyone knows by now that the FBI and Justice Department publicly declared for the first time that Donald Trump’s wiretapping allegations are groundless. But believe it or not, an even more ominous piece of news for Trump rolled across the wire 24 hours earlier. How do you get worse than being publicly called a liar on national television? As it turns out, quite easily. New York’s state attorney general announced he is hiring a full-time prosecutor to investigate Trump.
On Sunday, New York state attorney general Eric Schneiderman hired former federal prosecutor Howard Master as a senior enforcement counsel, focusing on public corruption–particularly in the Trump White House. Master may not be a household name nationwide, but he is very well known in New York.
As one of former U. S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s crack public corruption experts, he helped lead the investigation that took down former state assembly speaker Sheldon Silver. Master helped expose some $4 million in illicit payments in return for helping a cancer researcher and two real estate developers. Silver was convicted on all charges in 2015 and sentenced to 12 years in prison, though he is still free pending appeal.
In other words–this is a guy who has experience hunting and bringing down big tigers. Now he may be hunting one of the biggest tigers of all. And all because Trump was kind enough to fire his boss last week. Now that move may eventually come back to haunt him.
It didn’t take long for Master’s former boss to give him a huge thumbs up.
Howard Master was one of the absolute superstar investigators and casemakers at SDNY. I wish him well in his new endeavor. https://t.co/2NdMh30rT4
— Preet Bharara (@PreetBharara) March 20, 2017
According to The Wall Street Journal, Master may already be at work. Schneiderman believes that Trump is violating the Emoluments Clause by allowing money from the Trump Organization’s deals with foreign governments and state-owned businesses to keep flowing into his bank account even after taking office.
If that’s the case, don’t be concerned if any probe of Trump takes awhile. It’s said that the best criminal investigations, particularly complex financial cases, are akin to slow-motion strangulations. You build up an Everest of evidence, then force the defendant to adopt the pose of a supplicant begging for mercy–unless he wants a long stay in prison.
It turns out that Master is going to have some help. On Monday, Schneiderman announced that Dianne Feinstein’s former chief counsel, Eric Haren, is also joining his office to work on public corruption cases. However, he, like Master, will focus on holding the Trump administration to account, using his wealth of knowledge about Washington’s inner workings.
Schneiderman has already taken on Trump twice–and won. He forced Trump to cough up millions to settle lawsuits against Trump University, and all but forced the Trump Foundation out of business. And now he has two crack lawyers working to hold Trump’s feet to the fire. This should be fun to watch.
(featured image courtesy Lonnie Tague, part of public domain)