Criminal investigation into Trump just gained 'a lot of leverage': former federal prosecutor

Criminal investigation into Trump just gained 'a lot of leverage': former federal prosecutor
Donald Trump and Melania Trump in New Hampshire in February 2016, Marc Novell

On CNN Wednesday, former federal prosecutor Laura Coates explained how the newly coordinated criminal investigations by the Manhattan district attorney and New York attorney general into the Trump Organization escalate the legal problems for former President Donald Trump and his family.

"We treat your criminal sections and civil sections in the justice system differently," said Coates. "Not because we don't value above-board behavior, but because the penalties at stake are, one, liberty and the other a check being written. To combine these two raises the stakes for the attorneys. And to combine it from not only the AG's office in New York, but also in Manhattan — it says that this is something far more expansive and there is some indication talking about criminal investigations. Some indication that it merits there to be a penalty of the deprivation of liberty as well."

"It's interesting that the New York attorney general's office didn't explain what prompted the change and why they released it publicly," said anchor Poppy Harlow. "They don't have to do that. What do you think?"

"They don't have to do that, but the idea of saying, hey, we've now informed them," said Coates. "From that sort of very terse actual explanation, they didn't say when they informed the Trump Organization. They didn't inform them to how long they've known about it, but the idea it's no longer purely civil is one they've made publicly known. If you're doing that, are you putting people on notice who might be potential witnesses? We know that Eric Trump, part of one of these investigations, has been interviewed. Others as well. Are you putting people on notice that may want to come forward as a cooperator? Are you trying to send a shot across the bow?"

"They've got a lot of leverage by virtue of this being prosecution from two different offices. Somebody who is not shielded by his office in any way even at the state level," added Coates. "So I do wonder why now, what has come to light, and why the coordination, which can be quite rare between these two offices."

Watch below via CNN:

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