Inside Out

Inside Out


Leonard Zwelling

The news broke this morning (August 8, the anniversary of Richard Nixon’s resignation announcement) that Congressman Christopher Collins (R-NY) was arrested along with his son and the father of his son’s fiancé for insider trading and lying to the federal government. When are these guys going to learn from Martha Stewart?

You remember that Martha was imprisoned for lying to the feds about her involvement in the ImClone scandal that engulfed Saul Waksal and others, many famous academics on the ImClone board.

The current case, involving Innate Immunotherapeutics, an Australian company, is about trading in the stock of the company after Representative Collins, an Innate board member and large stock holder, learned that the prime molecule of Innate, a drug against multiple sclerosis, had failed in its phase 2 clinical trial. Apparently Collins pere didn’t sell stock before the market knew of the drug’s failure, but he alerted his son and others who in turn alerted others to divest prior to the stock’s inevitable plunge on the public news. The congressman gave his son the heads-up from the lawn of the White House where he was attending a picnic. And why not? Collins was the first member of Congress to back Donald Trump for President of the United States. As I heard recently the White House may have been transformed into a high crime district again after this and Michael Flynn’s crimes there.

If Mr. Trump is about draining the swamp, he needs a new drain or better plumbers. Between this guy and Paul Manafort, not to mention Michael Flynn, Rick Gates and a host of other Americans and Russians, Mr. Trump has surrounded himself with criminals or soon to be criminals.

What so fascinates me is always the same. Did these guys really think they could get away with it and were they so stupid as to not even try to cover their tracks? (Apparently the feds have cell phone records and emails that are incriminating.) The answers are yes and yes. You would expect that white-collar criminals would act in ways that suggest they thought through their actions and at least tried a reasonable cover-up. But, like Watergate, ImClone, Enron, and the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting, the participants in this fraud and deception compounded their crimes by lying to the federal government. The outcome of the inside actions is predictable. I hope Congressman Collins and his family enjoy the next family outing in orange jumpsuits.

The next obvious question is did Mr. Trump play a role in any of this?

I doubt it. All these guys were able to save by committing these crimes was about $768,000. I bet they would trade that now for their freedom, which will likely be taken from them in the forthcoming trial unless they plead guilty. I doubt that they will. In fact it is likely that Mr. Collins, who is already on the ballot in the Buffalo area, will win his seat again in a heavily Republican district. I mean if the Republicans continue to back Trump, why should they care about voting for an ineluctable felon.

It is so sad to see our system undermined by such petty behavior and for such small sums. But there’s hope. I suspect that Mr. Trump worked with the Russians to get loans of far more than a few hundred thousand dollars. Mr. Mueller probably knows that already. Soon enough, we will, too.

If Trump stole; he stole big!

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