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"Bloomberg" featured Pace University's law school criminal justice fellow Mimi Rocah in "The Epstein Defense: Arguing Case Ended in Florida Is Risky Bet"

07/09/2019

"Bloomberg" featured Pace University's law school criminal justice fellow Mimi Rocah in "The Epstein Defense: Arguing Case Ended in Florida Is Risky Bet"

...Mimi Rocah, a former federal prosecutor in Manhattan who isn’t involved in the case, said that the nonprosecution agreement in Florida can’t be used to tie the hands of New York prosecutors, despite their being part of the same Justice Department. If anything, she said, such a defense could serve to highlight actions by the Justice Department that “are not normal.”

“There’s no doubt they let him off way too easy,” said Rocah, a criminal justice fellow at Pace University’s law school. “There was clearly something wrong in the way that the plea was reached. It was a slap on the wrist.”

The deal was approved by Alex Acosta, President Donald Trump’s labor secretary, when he was the top federal prosecutor for southern Florida.

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"Bloomberg" featured Pace University's Haub Law School Professor Mimi Rocah in "Cohen's plea deal suggests Russians held Kompromat on Donald Trump"

11/30/2018

"Bloomberg" featured Pace University's Haub Law School Professor Mimi Rocah in "Cohen's plea deal suggests Russians held Kompromat on Donald Trump"

Michael Cohen’s latest guilty plea revealed a closely guarded Trump business secret. But in a deeply uncomfortable turn for President Donald Trump, one of the people in the know was an aide to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Thursday’s dramatic turn of events is problematic for Trump because it suggests the Kremlin knew something that people around Trump were working hard to hold close -- that Trump was moving forward with a Moscow business deal at the same time he was deep in the race for the U.S. presidency. Any undisclosed foreign arrangements would raise red flags about candidates for national office, making them vulnerable to blackmail by others privy to those secrets. Russians call such nuggets of damaging information “kompromat,” a concept that’s become familiar enough to enter the international lexicon.

Whether Russia used such information is a matter for speculation. But Cohen’s revelation shows that Special Counsel Robert Mueller is digging deep into financial relationships between Trump’s business and Moscow, taking him to the heart of the connections he was appointed to explore between Russia and Trump’s campaign.

The Moscow real-estate deal Cohen described Thursday was under consideration through June 2016, five months longer than he’d had previously admitted. By then, Trump was already surging toward the Republican nomination for the U.S. presidential race. Russia had already embarked on efforts to support Trump’s candidacy through hacking and social-media manipulation, according to previous filings by Mueller.

The public deserves to know if elected officials have conflicted motives or interests in their decision-making, and whether other governments have leverage over elected officials, said former Manhattan federal prosecutor Mimi Rocah.

“Trump has long acted like someone over whom Putin has leverage,” Rocah said. “Now we know he very likely did in one specific way. And I’m guessing there will be more we learn about.”

The idea that Trump could be vulnerable to kompromat has come up before, most famously in the so-called Steele Dossier. The dossier’s most explosive claim, that the Kremlin has a recording of a sexual nature that would compromise Trump, hasn’t ever been verified. The less lurid detail that Cohen offered up in his guilty plea, however, is still potentially powerful.

Trump has denied having any business deals in Russia, and said Thursday that Cohen was lying.

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"Bloomberg" featured Pace Haub Law School Professor Mimi Rocah in "Manafort Lied Repeatedly, Wrecking a Plea Deal, Mueller Says"

11/27/2018

"Bloomberg" featured Pace Haub Law School Professor Mimi Rocah in "Manafort Lied Repeatedly, Wrecking a Plea Deal, Mueller Says"

Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort lied repeatedly to authorities after striking a plea deal with prosecutors and pledging to cooperate, exposing him to a potentially lengthy prison term, U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller said.

The rupture in relations may have dire consequences for Manafort, 69, who sought to avoid spending the rest of his life in prison by pleading guilty to two conspiracy counts after a jury convicted him of bank and tax fraud. It could also hamper Mueller’s ability to turn an insider against Trump in the investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

By accusing Manafort of lying when he pledged to tell the truth, Mueller used a filing in federal court in Washington to set up a dramatic courtroom confrontation with a man who could have been a valuable witness in new cases by the special counsel’s office. Manafort denied the accusations in the same document. But the filing raised suspicions among lawyers not involved with the case about Manafort’s motives.

“To the extent that he’s lying to the special counsel’s office, it says that he believes he can mislead them and walk away from this,” said David S. Weinstein, a former federal prosecutor. “Perhaps he feels this is to get a pardon, if the ultimate goal is to protect Trump or people very close to him. He may be saying, ‘I will tell the truth about myself but not implicate anyone else.”’

Prosecutors don’t lightly accuse people of breaching a cooperation agreement, said Mimi Rocah, a former federal prosecutor.

“He’s either a pathological liar who is incapable of telling the truth and thinks he can outsmart prosecutors, or he’s hoping for a pardon,” Rocah said.

The three-page “Joint Status Report” had been eagerly anticipated since both sides received a 10-day extension to file it. With the end of the midterm elections, speculation mounted that Manafort might deliver information that could lead to charges against others in Trump’s circle.

Instead, the document laid bare the differences between two sides who have met repeatedly since Manafort entered his guilty plea on Sept. 17 before U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson. Had Manafort provided “substantial assistance” to prosecutors, they could recommend a reduction in the 10-year term he faced under the deal. They say they won’t do that now.

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"Bloomberg" featured Law Professor Mimi Rocah in "Forget Collusion. Conspiracy’s the Watchword in Mueller’s Filings"

08/01/2018

"Bloomberg" featured Law Professor Mimi Rocah in "Forget Collusion. Conspiracy’s the Watchword in Mueller’s Filings"

For a look at how Special Counsel Robert Mueller could tie Russian election interference to American citizens, watch the C-word.

Not coordination or collusion, but conspiracy.

One charge in particular -- conspiracy to defraud the U.S. -- has cropped up in several of the Mueller team’s major cases. The allegation shows up in filings against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, as well as in indictments of Russian nationals accused earlier this month of hacking into Democratic Party organizations and election infrastructure. Conspiracy charges are significant because they’re building blocks: Once prosecutors allege a conspiracy, they can add more individuals later.

Donald Trump and his circle have long focused on a different buzzword, saying that there was no collusion with Russians, and subsequently that if there was collusion, Trump wasn’t aware of it. Now comes Trump attorney-cum-spokesman Rudy Giuliani. ”I don’t even know if that’s a crime, colluding about Russians,” Giuliani told CNN this week. Trump echoed that in a tweet: “Collusion is not a crime.”

That is at once technically correct and, according to former federal prosecutor Mimi Rocah, beside the point.

“To say there’s no crime of collusion means nothing,” said Rocah. “That label isn’t in the criminal statutes. But that doesn’t matter because the conduct that underlies collusion can be, under certain circumstances, conspiracy to defraud the U.S.”

The statute -- Title 18 U.S. Code 371 -- makes it a crime for two or more people to “conspire either to commit any offense against the United States, or to defraud the United States, or any agency thereof in any manner or for any purpose." The maximum penalty is five years.

It’s among a list of similar charges that Mueller’s prosecutors have brought in their investigation, including conspiracy to launder money and conspiracy to obstruct justice, which can lead to longer sentences.

(Mueller’s mandate, it’s worth noting, doesn’t mention either collusion or conspiracy. Deputy U.S. Attorney General empowered him to investigate “any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump,” and matters arising from that.)

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"Bloomberg" featured Law Professor Mimi Rocah in"Mueller Obstruction Inquiry Leaves Trump Few Options With Cohen"

06/22/2018

"Bloomberg" featured Law Professor Mimi Rocah in"Mueller Obstruction Inquiry Leaves Trump Few Options With Cohen"

...Such a scenario is unlikely, however, said Mimi Rocah, a former Manhattan federal prosecutor. She noted that Petrillo, the lawyer said to be representing Cohen, is a former federal prosecutor with a reputation for honesty and fair play, and it would be unlikely that he -- or the court -- would allow paying legal fees for Cohen to be used as a lever to stop cooperation.

There’s another limit to what the president can do for Cohen right now. Rudy Giuliani, who Trump enlisted to help speed the special counsel matter, recently floated the idea that Trump could pardon allies, though he subsequently backtracked. Cohen hasn’t been charged with anything, so there’s no crime to pardon. Furthermore, if Trump were to pardon his former lawyer at some later point, Cohen could then be compelled to testify.

"Politically it’s very risky," said Rocah, who now teaches at Pace University law school. "Cohen could possibly still face legal charges in the state for which he can’t be pardoned, and legal experts are divided on whether it could expose Trump to further potential obstruction charges. So it’s legally risky too."

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"Bloomberg" featured Haub Law Professor Bennett Gershman in "Ex-Goldman Sachs Programmer’s Conviction Upheld in New York "

05/04/2018

"Bloomberg" featured Haub Law Professor Bennett Gershman in "Ex-Goldman Sachs Programmer’s Conviction Upheld in New York "

...“This ruling should certainly clear up any questions that prosecutors have about the reach of the statute,” said Bennett L. Gershman, a professor at Pace University’s Elisabeth Haub School of Law in White Plains. “This 50-year-old statute is now being used in the high-tech digital age and it seems able to accommodate not only film and photography, but technology that involves the downloading of computer source code."

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