Indictment against cab company owner has no apparent connection to 2016 election
On May 22, a man named Evgeny Freidman, the owner of more than 800 taxi licenses in New York City, pleaded guilty to "failure to remit to the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance $5 million in 50-cent [Metropolitan Transportation Authority] surcharges between 2012 and 2015," according to a press release from the state attorney general.Because Mueller has not been able to find any actual evidence of Trump-Russian collusion he has been inditing distant figures in hopes of extorting testimony against Trump. So far that has been a dry hole too, although he has clearly ruined lives of people whose main crime appears to be friends of friends of Trump.
The guilty plea topped national newscasts and was discussed for days, which is a little unusual for a case in which a fairly small-time businessman — even one known around New York as the "taxi king" — admitted to pocketing a local tax on cab rides.
So why was it big news? Because Trump.
"More breaking news tonight," CNN reported May 22. "This, on President Trump's fixer, Michael Cohen. One of Cohen's business partners, a Russian immigrant known as the taxi king, has quietly agreed to assist federal investigators as part of a plea deal."
The idea was that, as part of his cooperation, Freidman would dish on Cohen, which would increase pressure on Cohen to dish on Trump with Trump-Russia special counsel Robert Mueller, and the end result would be … well, that was unspecified, but it clearly involved expectations of some sort of yet-to-be-exposed wrongdoing on the president's part.
Lest anyone forget, Mueller is authorized to investigate "any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump; and any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation," plus any obstruction of the probe. (A more detailed version of Mueller's assignment is still secret.)
Going after the taxi king in hopes of proving collusion in the 2016 presidential race is a bank shot, to say the least.
But other parts of Mueller's investigation — and certainly of the reporting on Mueller's investigation -- are bank shots, too.
This month a man named Jeffrey Yohai, who at one time was married to former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort's daughter, pleaded guilty to "conspiracy charges … relating to real-estate loans on properties in New York and California," as well as to misrepresenting his income to obtain an American Express "Black Card," according to the Wall Street Journal.