BY: TANNER KENNEY
Evgeny “Gene” Freidman, the disgraced “Taxi King” of New York, pled guilty to evading some $5,000,000.00 in taxes and, instead of facing a trial with the possibility of being sentenced to a century in prison, he will receive merely five months of probation. But Freidman’s plea is about much more than returning ill-gotten taxpayer dollars to New Yorkers because it was made as part of an agreement to cooperate with Special Counsel Robert Mueller III’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
As such, Freidman will presumably testify against President Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen, in the government’s pursuit of any criminal wrongdoing by the Russian government, its peoples, and private American citizens and companies as well as the Trump Campaign, Transition, Inaugural Committee, and Administration. Additionally, as “Cohen’s partner in the taxi business for years[,]” Freidman was, also his “friend” and confidant, often sharing meals with family members, and was undoubtedly given unprecedented access to one of President Trump’s most trusted advisors, thereby making an interview with Mueller’s team an interesting proposition.
Moreover, Freidman’s guilty plea also carries with it great legal weight as it has numerous implications for various subjects and targets of the Mueller probe, including former Trump Campaign Manager Paul Manafort, who is being tried on numerous state and federal charges. Earlier this morning, Manafort and his attorneys filed a request to block any and all evidence seized during the raids of Michael Cohen’s home, office, and hotel room in order to prevent their presentation in court.
This appears to be a last-ditch effort to derail the cases against Manafort in both Maryland and Virginia as President Trump is only able to pardon parties found guilty in federal cases, as he did for disgraced former Sherriff Joe Arpaio. Furthermore, President Trump cannot pardon Freidman’s guilty plea, either, while he begins his cooperation with the federal government as it attempts to “flip” Michael Cohen against Trump in its pursuit of criminal wrongdoing.
Lastly, as President Trump, his legal team, and supporters in Congress work to unmask the confidential source relied upon by the FBI during the Trump Campaign, Special Counsel Mueller and his team have remained tight-lipped about the cooperation of guilty parties, intended targets, and have released no statements in regards to the oft-debated scope of its investigation. Only time will tell which individuals or parties are the most forthcoming and cooperative versus those who have dug their heels in the hardest in comparing the duration of their respective prison sentences.
Tanner Kenney is an energy and media professional with a background in journalism and received his M.S. in Global Affairs, Environment & Energy Policy from NYU’s Center for Global Affairs. Recently, Tanner has focused on the advocacy of sustainable development through renewable energy technologies, transportation efficiency, and inclusive public policy.
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