The Chicago Syndicate: Former Organized Crime Investigator Hired to Lead Intelligence Committee’s Sweeping Investigation into President Trump’s Foreign Dealings and Finances

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Former Organized Crime Investigator Hired to Lead Intelligence Committee’s Sweeping Investigation into President Trump’s Foreign Dealings and Finances

When he left the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan in 2017, Daniel Goldman didn’t envision a future career in Washington, D.C., the city where he grew up. But now, Goldman is leveraging the very skills he honed investigating and prosecuting white collar and organized crime cases in the Southern District of New York to leading the House Intelligence Committee’s sweeping investigation into President Trump’s foreign dealings and finances.

“One of the things you learn as a prosecutor is that you need to figure out how to investigate someone without going straight at that person, particularly when you are doing covert investigations,” Goldman told The Hill in a recent interview. “You have to figure out how you are going to get materials about someone from other sources,” he added. “I think that the traditional congressional method of investigation is to go directly to the person, ask them for documents, ask them to come testify, and sort of move forward along those lines.”

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), a former assistant U.S. attorney himself, tapped Goldman, 43, to be the panel’s senior adviser and director of investigations in February, the same month he unveiled a probe into whether Trump or his associates are subject to foreign compromise — an outgrowth of the panel’s original Russia investigation. The probe drew immediate ire from Trump.

Goldman is one of three former assistant U.S. attorneys that make up the panel’s investigation apparatus, which also boasts a 25-year FBI veteran who led the financial crimes section and a Russian-speaking expert.

Goldman worked in the criminal division of the Southern District for a decade, prosecuting and overseeing myriad cases. He oversaw the prosecution of a Russian organized crime ring that ensnared more than 30 defendants on racketeering, gambling and money laundering charges. He also prosecuted famed Las Vegas sports better William “Billy” Walters, who was convicted on fraud and conspiracy charges in 2017 for his role in a $43 million insider-trading scheme, as well as securing convictions against members of the Genovese crime family.

Goldman’s career as a prosecutor has afforded him an integral skill in his latest job — knowing how to find “creative ways” of gathering evidence on a subject without “going directly to the source of the information,” he said.

House Democrats have opened up a bevy of investigations into Trump and his administration, producing fresh headaches for the White House in the wake of special counsel Robert Mueller’s two-year inquiry.

The Trump administration has sought to thwart the probes, accusing Democrats of overreaching and trying to score political points against the president ahead of a reelection year. Democratic leaders, meanwhile, say the administration is flouting congressional oversight powers and stonewalling legitimate investigations at an unprecedented level.

Mueller did not charge any members of Trump’s campaign with conspiring with Russia to interfere in the election, a result Trump and his allies have cheered as vindicating the president.

Republicans have also criticized Schiff and other Trump critics for pointing to what they viewed as evidence of Russian “collusion” during Mueller’s investigation — remarks which Schiff has stood by.

Democrats say more investigation is needed. Schiff is particularly interested in the potential counterintelligence risks arising from Trump and his associates’ dealings with Russians and other foreign powers.

Schiff, who said at an Axios event last week that the panel is looking to “revise the scope of our investigative and oversight work” following the release of the Mueller report, has long pointed the proposal to build a Trump Tower in Moscow as a key line of investigation.

Much of the panel’s investigative efforts are happening behind the scenes, supervised by Goldman. His team members are sifting through documents and open-source material, drafting document and testimony requests, and preparing for witness interviews. Goldman said he is also coordinating with other committees and briefing Schiff and other members on the status of the probe.

The panel, together with the House Financial Services Committee, has subpoenaed Deutsche Bank for financial records related to Trump. Details of the subpoena became public last month, when the president and his family sued Deutsche Bank to prevent the lender from complying with the subpoena, accusing Democrats of harassing Trump and looking for information that could damage him politically.

“We’re integrated with the committee staff, but our principal focus is on any investigations that arise from any of the oversight work,” Goldman said. “We are focused on uncovering facts. We are not in the business of a political, partisan investigation.”

To say Goldman’s career has had a diverse range would be an understatement. He studied journalism at Yale University and after college became an Olympics researcher at NBC News, where he worked on a team that gathered all of the data for the broadcast of the 2000 Olympics in Sydney. He went on to cover the 2002 and 2004 Olympics, winning three Emmys as a part of NBC’s team along the way. But another career was calling.

“I come from a family of lawyers, so it was somewhat very familiar for me,” Goldman recalled. “And at the end of the day, I made the decision that, as I thought about my longer trajectory career, I did want to do more public service.”

Goldman went to Stanford Law and eventually landed back on the East Coast, where he clerked for an appeals court judge before landing the job of assistant U.S. attorney in the Southern District in 2007.

Goldman’s former colleagues describe him as a thorough and creative investigator and prosecutor, someone particularly suited to conduct “follow the money” investigations.

“He’s good at taking massive amounts of information and being able to see the forest through the trees,” Mimi Rocah, a former assistant U.S. attorney who was Goldman’s supervisor in Manhattan, said in a phone call. “In investigations, that can be the most important thing.”

In a brief interview, Schiff cheered Goldman as a “tremendous addition” to his panel.

“He combines that rare skillset of both being a very good lawyer and a very good communicator, and I think has helped the committee enormously in terms of organizing our oversight and investigative work,” Schiff said.

Goldman spent time as a legal analyst at MSNBC and a fellow at the liberal Brennan Center for Justice before joining the Intelligence Committee.

His latest job has not come without sacrifice: Goldman, who has five children, commutes to D.C. each week from New York, where his wife Corinne lives full time with their kids.

“My five-year plan is to once again live with my family,” Goldman quipped when asked about what’s next for him.

“I don’t have a plan, I really don’t. I will say, when I left the U.S. attorney’s office at the end of 2017, I left without having any idea of what I was going to do,” he recalled.  “I’ve learned from that experience that there’s no point in predicting or pursuing a particular goal, because I’ll just see where things go.”

Thanks to Morgan Chalfant.

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