Washington, D.C. — Few issues in Washington have generated more heat and less light than the idea that the actions of President Donald Trump, his campaign associates, and his businesses could be prosecuted as part of an ongoing criminal conspiracy under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act.
A new report from the Center for American Progress explores the issues around Trump and criminal conspiracy at a time when the investigation by the special counsel continues to heat up.
The report suggests that highly irregular financial transactions of Trump and his associates, coupled with growing evidence that Trump and his team have engaged in obstruction of justice, could provide either federal or state prosecutors with the predicate acts required to mount a RICO case. The recent indictments of Paul Manafort and his business partner Richard Gates, as well as the guilty pleas by George Papadopoulos and former national security advisor Michael Flynn also provide momentum to the potential to build a RICO case.
“There is a big difference between being able to make a RICO case and a special prosecutor investigating a sitting president deciding it is in the best interests of justice to do so,” said John Norris, lead author of the report. “But the Trump organization continues to behave more and more like the organized crime syndicates that the RICO statute was originally designed to target.”
The report notes that RICO is not the silver bullet conspiracy theorists like to suggest that it might be, but on balance, it should be seen as a viable potential tool for prosecutors probing the actions of President Trump both before and after he took office.
Read the report: “Donald Trump and Criminal Conspiracy Law: A RICO Explainer” by John Norris and Carolyn Kenney.