Federal agents raid offices of Chicago alderman with deep ties to Trump
Federal agents issued search warrants Thursday on the offices of a Chicago city alderman with deep ties to President Donald Trump.
FBI agents kicked people out of Ald. Edward Burke’s city hall and ward offices before papering over the windows. Hours later, they emerged with boxes and computers in tow, according to the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun Times.
“Agents from the FBI are executing search warrants at multiple locations today,” Special Agent Jeanine Wheeler told the Tribune in a statement.
Burke, a Democrat who has served on the Chicago City Council since 1969 and chairs its powerful finance committee, also owns Klafter & Burke — a tax appeals firm that has saved Trump millions in Illinois property taxes.
“As you are aware, there have previously been several other investigations such as this,” Burke said in a statement. “In every instance we cooperated fully. And in every instance nothing has been found. So once again we will be cooperating fully and I am completely confident that at the end of the day nothing will be found amiss in this instance either.”
The raids aren’t related to Burke’s work for Trump, an unnamed source told the Sun Times. Another unnamed source told the Tribune that agents did not raid Burke’s law firm. The firm withdrew from representing Trump in June, after the alderman’s ties to Trump became an issue in his ongoing reelection campaign.
The raids came the same day Burke’s wife, Anne Burke, was sworn in for another term on the Illinois Supreme Court. Burke’s brother, Dan Burke, lost his seat in the Illinois legislature this year to Aaron Ortiz, an ally of incoming U.S. Rep. Jesus Garcia (D-IL).
Garcia and his allies have also targeted Burke, placing special emphasis on his and his firm’s work for Trump. After news of the raids broke Thursday, Garcia issued a triumphant statement.
“In the five decades that Ald. Burke has been in office, he has used his position to enrich himself and his political cronies while being an impediment to political progress and community empowerment,” Garcia said. “Make no mistake: Ald. Burke is the last bastion of Chicago machine politics.”
It’s not clear what, if any, impact the raids will have on the ongoing investigation by the special counsel, Robert Mueller, into Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and possible collusion by Trump campaign officials. But they couldn’t have come at a worse time for the White House, which is fielding a flood of new revelations after the investigation went dark before the midterm elections.
On Monday, the special counsel said in a court filing that former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort has lied to investigators and violated the terms of his plea deal. Tuesday, The New York times reported that Manafort’s lawyer has been sharing details of his meetings with Mueller’s team with Trump’s lawyers, despite his agreement to cooperate with the investigation. Also on Tuesday, The Guardian dropped a bombshell, and still unverified, report that Manafort met Wikileaks founder Julian Assange in London months before Assange published Democratic Party emails pilfered by Russian hackers. Finally, early Thursday, Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, pled guilty in federal court to lying to Congress about a Trump building project in Russia and agreed to cooperate with Mueller’s team.
Then there are Trump’s income tax returns, which he again refused to release earlier this month — breaking decades of bipartisan precedent for presidential candidates.