Scandal Watch VI
This is a continuation of the topic Scandal Watch V.
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News media paid Melania Trump thousands for use of photos in 'positive stories only'
Andrew W. Lehren, Emily R. Siegel and Merritt Enright / Jul.02.2018
The first lady earned six figures from an agreement with Getty Images that paid royalties to the Trumps and mandated photos be used in positive coverage.
...Yahoo News, NBC News, Marie Claire, the Daily Mail, My San Antonio, Houston Chronicle, House Beautiful, and SF Gate, the website for The San Francisco Chronicle, are among those that have featured Mahaux's highly stylized family portraits since Trump took office...
Giuliani works for foreign clients while serving as Trump’s attorney
Josh Dawsey, Tom Hamburger and Ashley Parker | July 10, 2018
...Giuliani...is working with clients in Brazil and Colombia, among other countries, as well as delivering paid speeches for a controversial Iranian dissident group. He has never registered with the Justice Department on behalf of his overseas clients, asserting it is not necessary because he does not directly lobby the U.S. government and is not charging Trump for his services.
His decision to continue representing foreign entities also departs from standard practice for presidential attorneys
...Among the clients represented by Giuliani’s consulting firm is the city of Kharkiv, Ukraine, whose mayor was a leading figure in Party of Regions, the Russia-friendly political party at the center of the federal conspiracy prosecution of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.
...Another current Giuliani client is the Mujahideen-e-Khalq, or MEK, an Iranian resistance group operating in exile that was listed as a terrorist group by the State Department as recently as 2012.
...His consulting firm has also been hired by cities in Brazil and Colombia looking for new policing strategies and for ways to reduce crime, Giuliani said.
...Lobbying experts said some of Giuliani’s work for overseas clients is likely to require registration under the Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA), which mandates disclosure to the Justice Department of attempts “to influence U.S. public opinion, policy, and laws” on behalf of foreign entities or individuals.
...White House officials say they cannot be sure if Giuliani’s claim about not discussing clients with the president is true or not. The two men often talk late at night and early in the morning, and the conversations are frequently wide-ranging...
DOJ statement might prevent Mueller (and other feds?) from issuing even a sealed indictment of the president?
Whether Kavanaugh's involved or not, Congress and/or courts should make clear the President is NOT above the law!
(Justice delayed for serious crimes is bad enough, but curtailed completely? Wow!)
Kavanaugh signaled sitting president couldn't be indicted
JOSH GERSTEIN | 07/11/2018
...During a 1998 Georgetown Law School conference on what would turn out to be the dim prospects of renewing the independent counsel law, moderator Mark Tuohey (who hired Kavanaugh onto the staff of independent counsel Ken Starr) put a question to the panel:
"How many of you believe, as a matter of law, that a sitting president cannot be indicted during the term of office?" Tuohey asked.
Brett Kavanaugh is pictured. | POLITICO
Kavanaugh's hand went up, as did more than half of the experts on the panel, including some with liberal political outlooks.
Kavanaugh's stance—or his stance at that time— is not an unusual or outlandish one. In fact, it's the official position of the Justice Department, formally articulated in a 1973 opinion under President Richard Nixon and reaffirmed in 2000 under President Bill Clinton. But it could be that there's less nuance to Kavanaugh's view than his supporters are suggesting.
Earlier in the panel discussion, helpfully preserved for eternity by C-SPAN, Kavanaugh refers to the issue as "a question that has been a lurking constitutional issue for a long time which at some point here should be resolved so we can determine whether the Congress or an independent counsel should investigate the president when his conduct is at issue."
"I tend to think it has to be the Congress," Kavanaugh added, presaging the views he would offer in more detail in his law review article a decade or so later. Democrats are expected to press Kavanaugh hard on the topic at his confirmation hearings, arguing that Trump picked him as a kind of insurance policy against potential negative developments in special counsel Robert Mueller's Trump-Russia probe.
Some scholars are of the view that a president could be indicted while in office, but could not be tried until he vacated the office, whether by impeachment, resignation or because his term expired. But the most recent Justice Department opinion, which is likely binding on Mueller's office, says that even a sealed indictment of the president would be impermissible.
See 5:41 CNN video of Rosenstein making announcement.
12 Russians indicted in Mueller investigation
Katelyn Polantz and Stephen Collinson | Fri July 13, 2018
...Russian military stole information of 500,000 voters
Eleven of the Russians are charged with identity theft, conspiracy to launder money and conspiracy to commit computer crimes. Two defendants are charged with a conspiracy to commit computer crimes.
"Russian GRU officers hacked the website of a state election board and stole information about 500,000 voters," Rosenstein said. "They also hacked into computers of a company that supplied software used to verify voter registration information."
The defendants worked for two units of the GRU that "engaged in active cyber operations to interfere in the 2016 presidential elections," Rosenstein said. One unit stole information using spearfishing schemes and hacked into computer networks where they "installed malicious software that allowed them to spy on users and capture keystrokes, take screenshots and exfiltrate or remove data from those computers."
It has been more than a year since the special counsel's Russia investigation began. The probe had already resulted in criminal charges against 14 Russians, five Americans and one Dutch citizen and three corporate entities. One of those people has already been sentenced and served a month in prison, while four others pleaded guilty and await sentencing.
This story is breaking and will be updated.
In August 2016, a candidate for Congress requested stolen documents pertaining to opponent from Guccifer 2.0:
A few days later the documents were leaked:
Exclusive: Guccifer 2.0 hacked memos expand on Pennsylvania House races
Joe Uchill - 08/23/16
...New documents obtained by Guccifer 2.0 and exclusively leaked to The Hill highlight efforts by Democrats to prevent Mike Parrish from winning the party’s primary for a contested House seat in Pennsylvania.
...These efforts, which have not been previously reported, proved unsuccessful, and Parrish ultimately won his primary.
(but lost...to incumbent Rep. Ryan Costello (R-Pa.). The Cook Political Report rates the district as likely Republican....
Republican Rep. Ryan Costello isn’t running for reelection. That’s big for Democrats.
Tara Golshan | Mar 26, 2018
Costello: “We’re talking about porn stars and the president rather than about tax policy.”
...Pennsylvania is a major Democratic target in 2018. Once one of the most heavily Republican -gerrymandered states in the country, the state’s Supreme Court has mandated a new congressional map for 2018 — one that will change Costello’s district, which was part of a messy configuration of Philadelphia’s suburbs, from a “toss-up,” to a likely pick up for Democrats in 2018, according to Cook’s Political Report...
@KenDilanianNBC notes indictment alleges Russia "on or about July 27, 2016" started trying to access Clinton's personal emails. Which is the same day Trump gave his "Russia if you're listening, I hope your able to find the 30,000 emails..." news conference.
Benjy Sarlin (NBC) @BenjySarlin
9:50 AM - 13 Jul 2018
(Trump Tower meeting took place June 9, 2016.)
Even if VP’s spear-fishing into H’s emails on 7/27, hours after DJT invited just that, doesn’t lead Mueller to indict Trump, given DOJ policy, it’s likely to support an article of impeachment against T for intentionally getting a foreign adversary’s criminal help to become POTUS.
Laurence Tribe tribelaw
1:23 PM - 13 Jul 2018
Conservatives moving to impeach Rosenstein soon: report
Jacqueline Thomsen | 07/13/18
... (Conservative lawmakers in the House) have been preparing to have Rosenstein impeached for weeks over allegations that he’s held up their investigation into FBI agents who some lawmakers say are biased against President Trump.
House Freedom Caucus leaders Reps. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) and Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) are leading the effort, and the impeachment document could be filed as soon as Monday
...The news comes the same day that Rosenstein announced charges against 12 Russian intelligence officials for allegedly hacking the Democratic National Committee...
Russia Indictment 2.0: What to Make of Mueller’s Hacking Indictment
Autumn Brewington, Mikhaila Fogel, Susan Hennessey, Matthew Kahn, Katherine Kelley, Shannon Togawa Mercer, Matt Tait, Benjamin Wittes
Friday, July 13, 2018, 10:01 PM
...stay tuned. This indictment represents a tightening of the ring in the story of criminal prosecution for the 2016 election hacking. The government has now alleged that the social media manipulations by Russian actors constituted a criminal conspiracy. It has alleged as well that the hacking of Democratic Party and Clinton campaign emails were crimes conducted by officers of the Russian state. The question remains: Who, if anyone, helped?
"My contact with the campaign in 2016 was Donald Trump. I was not in regular contact with campaign officials."
Roger Stone says he’s the 'US person' mentioned in Mueller indictment
Ali Dukakis | Jul 14, 2018
... The reference to a “U.S. person” who “was in regular contact with senior members of the presidential campaign of Donald J. Trump” describes emails exchanged with alleged conspirators, who were posing as the mysterious hacker Guccifer 2.0. In the brief exchange, the hacker told the Trump ally: “Thank u for writing back…do u find anything in the docs i posted?’”
“Please tell me if i can help u anyhow…it would be a great pleasure to me,’” the message said. “What do u think about the info on the turnout model for the democrats entire presidential campaign.’ The unnamed American responded, ‘pretty standard.’”...
Maria Butina (29), Russian gun rights advocate, charged in U.S. with acting as Russian Federation agent
Tom Jackman and Rosalind S. Helderman | July 16, 2018
Russian national with alleged ties to a top Russian official was charged in federal court in Washington Monday with conspiracy to act as an agent of the Russian Federation, and was ordered held without bond.
...Butina is accused of developing relationships with American politicians and a “gun rights organization”... attempting to “establish a ‘back channel’ communication for representatives of the Government of Russia.”
The affidavit also contains apparent communications, by direct message on Twitter, between Butina and the unnamed Russian official. “Your political star has risen in the sky,” the official told Butina. “Now it is important to rise to the zenith and not burn out (fall) prematurely,” and they later discussed the “Russia-USA friendship society.”
In 2017, Butina and the official attended the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington
...Butina, a former Siberian furniture owner, founded a Russian gun rights group called the Right to Bear Arms and became an assistant to Russian central banker and former senator Alexander Torshin, who is a lifetime member of the NRA.
She began reaching out to NRA members and other American gun enthusiasts in 2013, on several occasions hosting NRA executives and gun activists in Moscow, including one delegation that included former Milwaukee Sheriff Dave Clarke. She and Torshin also attended a series of NRA events in the United States starting in 2014.
...In June 2015, as Trump announced his candidacy, Butina wrote a column in the National Interest, a conservative U.S. magazine, suggesting that only by electi(ng) a Republican could the U.S. and Russia hope to improve relations.
...town hall meeting in Las Vegas...found her way to a microphone and publicly asked Trump: “What will be your foreign politics, especially in the relations with my country?”
“I know Putin and I’ll tell you what, we get along with Putin,” Trump responded...
Butina also attended an NRA convention in May 2016, where a Republican operative named Paul Erickson worked to get Torshin a meeting with Trump. In an email to the campaign, Erickson referred to Torshin as “President Putin’s emissary” in an effort to improve relations with the United States.
The meeting did not happen, but Butina and Torshin did have brief interaction with Donald Trump Jr., the president’s son, at the event. Trump Jr. has said the interaction was brief and not memorable.
Butina then accompanied Erickson to Trump’s inauguration...
(Torshin and Butina)
Document: Justice Department Charges Russian National for Conspiracy to Act as a Foreign Agent
Matthew Kahn | uly 16, 2018, 3:11 PM
On Monday, the Justice Department unsealed a criminal complaint and supporting affidavit against Maria Butina, a Russian national, for conspiring to act as an unregistered foreign agent in violation of Title 18, Section 371 of the United States Code. The full documents are below...
Snapshot of then-president of NRA and accused Russian spy:
Interesting that Justice indicted 12 Russians one week before Helsinki, and rounded up Butina THE DAY BEFORE. Short of throwing Trump in the klink, they couldn't have done more to reel in the Orange One. What would have happened if they hadn't thrown out all these warnings??
What happened in Trump-Putin private meeting I wonder--download of all our secrets? (DH said it took two hours because Putin had to speak very slo-owly, and repeat his directions...)
The CIA Had a Rule Against Meeting the KGB Alone. Trump Was Reckless to Ignore It With Putin.
James Risen | July 16 2018
In 1983, the KGB contacted Carl Gebhardt, the CIA’s Moscow station chief, with a proposal. In order to avoid needless problems between the two spy services, the KGB wanted to open a secret communications channel with the CIA.
The CIA readily agreed, and the pact led to a series of secret meetings between top CIA and KGB officials in Europe. Eventually nicknamed the “Gavrilov channel,” after a 19th century Russian poet, this carefully choreographed exchange of secret communications continued throughout the remainder of the Cold War.
Some of the Gavrilov meetings took place in Helsinki, where Donald Trump met with Vladimir Putin on Monday. But one of the key differences between the Gavrilov channel and the Trump-Putin meeting was that the CIA always insisted on having at least two American officers present – no one from the CIA could meet the KGB alone. That guaranteed that no American could hand over secrets to the KGB without at least one other American knowing about it; it also insured that no American would come under unfair suspicion of being a KGB spy simply by meeting with the Russians alone.
Trump, on the other hand, insisted on meeting Putin without any of his aides present. At a time when there is a federal investigation underway into whether his campaign colluded with the Russians to win the 2016 election, Trump’s decision to meet Putin alone was at best reckless. His many critics will take it as further evidence that he really is a KGB agent...
Did Trump Commit Treason at Putin Meeting? Here's What Lawyers Say
Shane Croucher | 7/17/18
...John Brennan, the former CIA director...treason...
...According to federal law on treason, 18 U.S. Code § 2381: “Whoever, owing allegiance to the United States, levies war against them or adheres to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere, is guilty of treason and shall suffer death, or shall be imprisoned not less than five years and fined under this title but not less than $10,000; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States.”
And in Article III of the U.S. Constitution, it says: “Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort. No person shall be convicted of treason unless on the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act, or on confession in open court.”...
Laurence H. Tribe, Carl M. Loeb University Professor and a professor of constitutional law at Harvard Law School..."If one defines 'war' to include cyberwar...could reasonably be defined as 'treason' ...
...Jens David Ohlin, vice dean and professor of constitutional law at Cornell Law School..."Trump is clearly helping Russia—whether it rises to the level of 'aid and comfort' would be for a jury to decide or for the House of Representatives to decide if it pursues articles of impeachment."
John Shattuck, professor of practice in diplomacy at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University..."all point toward giving aid and comfort to an enemy.”
...(Well before Helsinki) Carlton Larson, professor of law at the University of California, Davis, concluded that Russia could not be considered a formal enemy of the United States...“The details of the alleged connections between Russia and Trump officials are therefore irrelevant to treason law.”...
One of the best comments I heard yesterday was: 'Putin is meeting with his service animal'.
#12--Nothing is going to happen unless and until a significant number of members of Trump's own party start to turn on him. Judging by yesterday he's got at least a bunch of them seriously miffed--some of them are kind of old enemies now--McCain, Schwarzenegger, Flake, Corker, Rubio, Collins, Steele etc. But the likes of Gingrich, Santorum and some of the talking heads at Fox News kind of joining in was interesting. Need more though.
It also should be said that going back 25 years or so in Britain Margaret Thatcher's old buddies turned on her---so I wouldn't say that it's not possible at all and especially after yesterday's cringeworthy and loathsome performance. I'm not a particular fan of our intelligence services by the way but throwing them under the bus to fawn over and side with what amounts to a Russian oligarch/dictator in front of the media and on television to all the folks back home was as despicable a thing as I've ever seen a POTUS do--on television anyway. Apparently Putin made him wait an hour--kind of like Trump made the Queen of England check her watch. It's all to show who's the boss.
So if I'm reading the tea leaves correctly anyway in Trump's vision of a new world order our friends are going to be Russia, Israel and North Korea and our enemies are going to be anyone in the EU or Nato + Canada and Mexico and if we blow some place up it will probably be Iran so we can keep the Middle Eastern tinderbox going.
Meanwhile, as Russian associate of NRA arrested:
New IRS guidance no longer requires some 501(c) tax-exempt nonprofits—including 501(c)(4) “dark money” groups spending money on politics—to disclose donor names & addresses (already not public under exisitng policy) in annual 990 tax returns’ Schedule B https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-drop/rp-18-38.pdf …
Anna Massoglia @annalecta
5:40 PM - 16 Jul 2018 from Washington, DC
>13 lriley: I think the Orange one's whole agenda is the empowering of oligarchs of which he wants to be one. This through the scratching of each others backs after he "retires" from the presidency.
I found it odd that no one pointed out the flaw in Putin's offer to "have the USA's security people come to Russia and suss out the bad guys who hacked the political party computers of the USA " . Yeah, bring your guys over here and show us how they found out who hacked the systems so we can build a better hacker team.
A bold counter-filing:
Firm indicted in Russia probe accuses Mueller of creating 'make believe' crime
A U.S.-based attorney for Concord Management and Consulting LLC filed a motion in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia asking Judge Dabney Friedrich to dismiss the charges Mueller filed in February against the company for spreading divisive content on social media.
Dubelier argued in his motion Monday that there is no federal law prohibiting “interference” in a U.S. election and that there isn't a federal law making it a crime to conspire to do so.
“Just as critically, there is no federal election law or regulation prohibiting any person or group of persons, whether American or foreign, acting independently of a political candidate, from conveying political speech on social media, at political rallies, or in advertisements available for viewing in the United States,” he argued.
“Further, there is no law or regulation requiring that any such speech be accurate or truthful or that any U.S. or foreign person truthfully or accurately identify herself or himself when engaging in such speech—when it comes to political speech, one is free to pretend to be whomever he or she wants to be and to say whatever he or she wants to say,” Dubelier added.
#15--Trump's main objective right now is to crawl from out under the rock that the Mueller investigation represents......and this attempt to buddy up to Putin is part of the game that's being played to accomplish that. I really don't think that Putin gives a crap whether Trump succeeds or not but so long as Trump accommodates him he's willing to go along with the charade. Putin the puppet master. When you look at Sessions and Rosenstein--when you look at Republican politicos who want the investigation to continue and there are quite a number of them that do he's kind of between rock and a hard place and especially if there's something 'real' there which I strongly suspect there is. He might be two--maybe only one step ahead of the law but what I think is he's pretty much shitting himself at the thought that it's going to catch up to him. He's going to play every card he can to make sure it doesn't. If all that fails he might be the first POTUS ever to go to prison or to kill himself.
Here's more on the Seychelles meetings, from an odd little source:
Participants of other meetings that week in January, which focused generally on Syria, energy and sanctions, hailed from Russia, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Israel and the U.S., according to three people with knowledge of the meetings and flight manifests obtained by NJ Advance Media. All three requested to remain anonymous because they feared retribution from their respective governments.
The plane that carried the Russians to the island in January returned in March around the same time as George Nader -- the Lebanese-American businessman cooperating with Mueller who helped broker the meeting between Prince and Dmitriev in the Seychelles.
The Russian plane left the island in March with 20 passengers and flew back to Vnukovo International Airport in Moscow.
Other individuals on the island the same week as Prince in January 2017 included Alexander Mashkevitch, an alleged financier of Bayrock, an investment vehicle linked to Trump; and Sheikh Abdulrahman Khalid BinMahfouz, according to flight records. BinMahfouz's father, before his death, was a billionaire and the former chairman of Saudi Arabia's first private bank.
Those two hours...
US offers no details as Russia claims Trump and Putin reached military agreements
Nicole Gaouette and Abby Phillip | July 17, 2018
"The Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation is ready for practical implementation of the agreements reached between Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Donald Trump in the sphere of international security achieved at the Helsinki summit," Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov, a Russian military spokesman, said in a statement Tuesday.
The Russian military "is ready to intensify contacts with the US colleagues in the General Staff and other available channels to discuss the extension of the START treaty, cooperation in Syria, as well as other issues of ensuring military security," Konashenkov said.
...The National Security Council...still "reviewing the discussion."
"The Helsinki summit was the beginning of a process between the United States and Russia to reduce tensions and advance areas of cooperation in our mutual interest...We are reviewing the discussion between President Trump and President Putin, considering possible next steps, and have nothing further to announce at this time."
...Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, a New Hampshire Democrat who sits on the Senate Armed Services and Foreign Relations Committees, called for the Foreign Relations Committee to ask the administration to allow Trump's interpreter in Finland to testify before Congress..."what was specifically discussed and agreed to on the United States' behalf"
...The two men discussed "the range of issues," Trump said, "starting with the civil war in Syria and the need for humanitarian aid and help for people in Syria."
They also discussed the need to halt Iran's nuclear ambitions "and the destabilizing activities taking place in Iran," as well as Israel's security, North Korea and "the reduction of nuclear weapons throughout the world," Trump said.
He did not mention making any formal agreement with the Russian leader on military cooperation or anything else.
Butina is being prosecuted by the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, not Special Counsel.
Second indictment puts 29YO at risk of 15 years in prison. Will she spill beans? Those are important years in a young woman's life!
I can't imagine even Trump would pardon a Russian agent, so no refuge there. But if she did flip, there's revenge of Putin to fear.
Rock and hard place.
U.S. adds second charge against Russian national linked to NRA
DARREN SAMUELSOHN | 07/17/2018
On Tuesday, U.S. officials persuaded the grand jury to add the second offense of acting as the foreign agent, which has its own 10-year-maximum prison sentence.
Like the charging documents released Monday, the latest complaint against Butina says she was working under the direction of a high-level official in the Russian government and Russian central bank “to arrange introductions to U.S. persons having influence in American politics, including an organization promoting gun rights … for the purpose of advancing the interests of the Russian Federation.”
While the indictment doesn’t name the Russian official or the gun rights group, it appears to refer to Alexander Torshin, an associate of Russian President Vladimir Putin and a longtime supporter of the National Rifle Association who also reportedly has ties to both Russian security services and organized crime figures...
Congressman reveals GOP members refused to allow Dems to question Russian ‘spy’ Maria Butina and 30 other witnesses
Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL) revealed Tuesday that Republicans shut down any demands by Democrats to question Maria Butina, who was indicted Tuesday by federal prosecutors.
Wilful obliviousness to facts = accessory after-the-fact
as well as failure to defend the US Constitution.
From the Start, Trump Has Muddied a Clear Message: Putin Interfered
David E. Sanger and Matthew Rosenberg | July 18, 2018
Two weeks before his inauguration, Donald J. Trump was shown highly classified intelligence indicating that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia had personally ordered complex cyberattacks to sway the 2016 American election.
The evidence included texts and emails from Russian military officers and information gleaned from a top-secret source close to Mr. Putin, who had described to the C.I.A. how the Kremlin decided to execute its campaign of hacking and disinformation.
Mr. Trump sounded grudgingly convinced, according to several people who attended the intelligence briefing. But ever since, Mr. Trump has tried to cloud the very clear findings that he received on Jan. 6, 2017, which his own intelligence leaders have unanimously endorsed...
Immunity sought for witnesses, venue change denied as Manafort trial nears
Katelyn Polantz | July 18, 2018
...Special counsel Robert Mueller asked the judge on Tuesday to sign off on immunity for five unidentified witnesses slated to testify against Manafort beginning next week.
If granted, that means the witnesses' testimony couldn't be used against them in later court cases.
...Mueller is not disclosing the names of the witnesses at this time so as not to create "risk of undue harassment" and because the details "could lead to reputational harm"
...The proceedings won't be moved to Roanoke, Judge T.S. Ellis said, after Manafort and his lawyers requested that the trial be shipped out of Alexandria to the southwestern Virginia city.
...Manafort has also asked to postpone the trial until the fall or later. Ellis has not yet made a decision on that.
Michael Cohen Taped Donald Trump Discussing Payments To Playmate (Karen McDougal): Reports
Marina Fang | 07/20/2018
The New York Times reports that the recording, regarding payments to Karen McDougal, has been seized by the FBI.
Not only is my district gerrymandered and referendum on gerrymandering to be decided by Republican-dominated state supreme court, my rep (R, CONSERVATIVE, and a minister) who is funded by Koch Brothers, may have been caught up in Russian/Butina initiative via PRAYER BREAKFAST of all things to foment anti-LGBTQ sentiments and legislation in e European countries so they will be ineligible to join EU?? That EU that President pronounced to be foe of the US!
GOP Missions in Eastern Europe Were Paid for by Butina-Linked Christian Group and Ukraine Ally
Jonathan Larsen Ken Klippenstein |
...The four Republicans do not see eye to eye on everything with either President Trump or Russian President Vladimir Putin. Aderholt, for instance, has been a supporter of NATO.
But there is one issue on which the four are relatively united. They oppose the kinds of pro-gay policies the E.U. requires for its member states. And all four have met with proponents of anti-gay policies, or participated in events at least implicitly counter to gay rights, in Ukraine and other European nations that Russia would like to see remain out of the E.U....
FBI releases documents on former Trump adviser surveillance
David Shepardson | July 21, 2018
The FBI on Saturday released documents related to the surveillance of former Trump presidential campaign adviser Carter Page as part of a probe into whether he conspired with the Russian government to undermine the 2016 U.S. election.
The 412 pages, mostly heavily redacted and made public by the Federal Bureau of Investigation late Saturday, included surveillance applications to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and warrants surrounding the investigation into Page.
“The FBI believes that Page has been collaborating and conspiring with the Russian Government,” the surveillance application filed in October 2016 said. The documents released include applications and renewal warrants filed in 2017 after Trump took office. Page has denied being an agent of the Russian government and has not been charged with any crime.
The documents released said “the FBI believes that the Russian Government’s efforts are being coordinated with Page and perhaps other individuals associated with” Trump’s campaign. It added Page “has established relationships with Russian Government officials, including Russian intelligence officers.” ...
What to Make of the Carter Page FISA Applications
David Kris | July 21, 2018
...the “Nunes memo was dishonest. And if it is allowed to stand, we risk significant collateral damage to essential elements of our democracy.”
Now we have some additional information in the form of the redacted FISA applications themselves, and the Nunes memo looks even worse....
The entire redacted document:
Charlie Savage (NYT, MSNBC) @charlie_savage 22 Jul 2018:
Since Trump is twitterin' this morning about the Carter Page FISA materials the NYT and others obtained yesterday via FOIA litigation, here are some takeaway observations about the documents /1
Many of these observations were in my article last night which is here (https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/21/us/politics/carter-page-fisa.html), but I'll convert them into bullet points for Twitter /2
The importance of seeing these docs is that the public can judge for itself whether Devin Nunes and HPSCI Republicans were telling the truth in February when attacking the FBI and Russia investigation on Trump's behalf; Dems said they were mischaracterizing the docs and lying. /3
One issue was whether the FISA Court was given enough information about the funding of the Steele dossier to understand that it was campaign opposition research, even if Steele had been a neutral source in the past, in order to decide how much weight to give it. /4
Speficially, the Nunes Memo said the docs fail to "disclose or reference the role of the DNC, Clinton campaign, or any party/campaign in funding Steele’s efforts, even though the political origins of the Steele dossier were then known to senior DOJ and FBI officials." /5
The Dem rebuttal said the court *was* told that the person who hired Steele was politically motivated. We can see that is the truth: the court was clearly told why Steele was looking into Trump-Russia ties. /6
Part of the complaint is that the court should have been told it was DNC/Clinton campaign, by name, that funded Steele. We see that the practice of FISA applications is to bend over backwards not to name Americans. Here's a renewal "masking" Trump's identity, for example. /7
Another big part of the fight was the Nunes Memo's suggestion that the FBI included a Sept. 2016 Yahoo News article as false corroboration of Steele info -- we now know that Steele was actually a source for that article. /8
Specifically, the Nunes Memo underlined with emphasis: "This article does not corroborate the Steele dossier because it is derived from information leaked by Steele himself to Yahoo News." /9
Democrats in February said that was misleading because the purpose of including the article was instead to tell the court that Page had denied the allegations about his meetings in the July 2016 Moscow trip. And that is indeed how the application presents that material: /10
We also learned the identities of the judges who approved the wiretaps. All were appointed by GOP presidents. (That's not surprising since Chief Justice Roberts, who decides who sits on the FISA Court, has a history of stacking it w/ GOP appointees https://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/26/us/politics/robertss-picks-reshaping-secret-surveillance-court.html …) /11
Finally, each renewal application grew by a significant # of pages. Bc of heavy redactions we can't know why for sure, but that dovetails with chatter that the renewals (by Trump-era DOJ), to justify extensions, included discussion of useful info the wiretaps had gathered. /12
Some say the Steele dossier was the sole basis of the application. That's false. There are redacted pages of other facts + we can see it cited info from a prior investigation into Russian spies who sought to recruit Americans. (They targeted Page https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/04/us/politics/carter-page-trump-russia.html … )/13
I thought he'd pick a fight with North Korea as investigators closed in... Iran:
To Iranian President Rouhani: NEVER, EVER THREATEN THE UNITED STATES AGAIN OR YOU WILL SUFFER CONSEQUENCES THE LIKES OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE EVER SUFFERED BEFORE. WE ARE NO LONGER A COUNTRY THAT WILL STAND FOR YOUR DEMENTED WORDS OF VIOLENCE & DEATH. BE CAUTIOUS!
Donald J. Trump
Verified account @realDonaldTrump
8:24 PM - 22 Jul 2018
What Rouhani said (to the Orange One trying to destroy Iran's economy):
...Americans "must understand that war with Iran is the mother of all wars and peace with Iran is the mother of all peace"
..."do not play with the lion's tail, because you will regret it eternally"...
ETA: ...“You are not in a position to incite the Iranian nation against Iran’s security and interests,” Rouhani said, in an apparent reference to reports of efforts by Washington to destabilize Iran’s Islamic government.
In order to get elected, BarackObama will start a war with Iran.
Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump 11:48 AM - 29 Nov 2011
Tweeted David Frum: This explains a lot.
President Trump's former campaign chair Paul Manafort is appearing in court today as his legal team attempts to delay his trial. https://on.msnbc.com/2Lv2eas
We don't need to be fighting a war with Iran......and there's no way that Trump and Co. are clever enough to get the American public behind such a war (he might get the republican part of the congress or Senate to more than less back him though for what that's worth).......which is to say Trump is even less clever than Bush and Cheney were. Frankly our ground war in Iraq never was anything less than a disaster. Logistically Iraq has about 168,000 square miles to cover and 37 million people--with significant Sunni, Shia and Kurdish populations that don't like each other and could be manipulated against each other. Iran has 636,000 square miles--well over 3 times the land coverage and 81 million people--over twice as many people and mostly Shia and not likely to be manipulated very easily by a foreign occupier. Apart from bombing the fuck out of Iran there really isn't much military option for attacking the country. We don't have anywhere near the ground forces available to control all that land space and population. We couldn't do it in smaller, less populated countries. So yeah if we tried a ground war in Iran like their president just said--we would be in the mother of all wars.
So it's just another stupid idea.....and a stupid idea to take attention away from his legal woes. That's not what a 'leader' should do though arguably Bill Clinton did something on a much much smaller scale (than what the orange one is proposing) when he attacked Sudan and Afghanistan in the middle of his Monica Lewinsky problem. And apart from Israel I don't think there is a nation on earth would support in that kind of endeavor.
My opinion it's just another sign that the POTUS has absolutely lost the thread.
Fiscal war and regime-change efforts on The Donald's part--possibly cyber war on Iran's.
Regional proxy war could be ramped up...? (Poor Yemenis and Syrians... Happy Saudis and Israelis...)
Regime change...that ought to reassure Kim Jong Un...
Pompeo assails Iran's leaders, compares them to 'mafia'
Warren Strobel, Dana Feldman | July 22, 2018
...Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, who negotiated a nuclear deal with the United States and five other countries, (dismissed) as “merely polished front men for the ayatollahs’ international con artistry.”
U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew in May from the 2015 nuclear accord designed to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons.
Iran “is run by something that resembles the mafia more than a government” ... citing what he called Iranian leaders’ vast wealth and corruption.
Pompeo’s speech was the latest step in a communications offensive launched by the Trump administration that is meant to foment unrest in Iran and help pressure its government to end its nuclear program and support of militant groups, U.S. officials familiar with the matter said.
The offensive is meant to work in concert with severe economic sanctions that Washington plans to reimpose in the coming months, including on Tehran’s oil exports, its principal revenue generator.
...will work with countries that import Iranian oil “to get imports as close to zero as possible” by Nov. 4
...“While it is ultimately up to the Iranian people to determine the direction of their country, the United States ... will support the long-ignored voice of the Iranian people”
...Iran’s ayatollahs, he said, were “hypocritical holy men” who “seem more concerned with riches than religion.”
Pompeo said the U.S. government broadcasting agency was launching a 24/7 Farsi-language channel on TV, radio, digital and social media platforms. The U.S. government also is taking steps to help Iranians get around internet censorship, he said.
What happened right after the DNC's analytics were stolen by Russian military intelligence?
The Trump campaign happened to overhaul their campaign strategy. (margd: focussed on WI and MI)
Maddow Blog @MaddowBlog 7:00 PM - 20 Jul 2018
Judge allows emoluments case to proceed against President and Trump Organization
Cristina Alesci and Maegan Vazquez | July 25, 2018
...Judge Peter Messitte of the US District Court of Maryland largely sided with Maryland and Washington, DC's definition of emolument as an "advantage." Trump was arguing for a restrictive definition of the term as a "gift."
Maryland and Washington, DC, have argued that the Trump International Hotel's operations put other nearby hotels and entertainment properties at a competitive disadvantage, and that the Trump hotel got special tax concessions.
Messitte deferred a ruling on the President's motion to dismiss the case against him in an individual capacity.
The ruling is on the President's lawyers motion to dismiss an amended lawsuit from Washington, DC, and Maryland. An earlier motion to dismiss was also rejected.
Trump loses big in emoluments case
Jennifer Rubin | July 25, 2018
...This is the nightmare — or one of them — that Trump has long feared, namely litigation in which his business operations, perhaps even his tax returns, are laid bare. Norman Eisen, who is co-counsel with the District and Maryland, tells me, “It is another major crack in the dam that has so far been holding back accountability. Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III is closing in; Michael Cohen is about to cut a deal; and now we have taken another leap forward in being able to understand how Trump is profiting off the presidency, including possibly from Russia.” He adds, “‘Follow the money,’ the old adage goes, and we are going to do exactly that thanks to this decision.”
...You can be sure Trump will try to appeal the ruling.
Michael Cohen's secret Trump tape brings a new figure to the center of the saga
Allan Smith | July 26, 2018
...On the tape, Cohen says he needs to open up a company for "the transfer of all of that info regarding our friend David," referencing Pecker (head of American Media Inc., publisher of National Enquirer). He said he spoke with (Allen Weisselberg, the Trump Organization's chief financial officer) "about how to set the whole thing up," later adding he also spoke with Weisselberg "about when it comes time for the financing."
Cohen's reference of Weisselberg represents an under-the-radar but critical comment in the tape. Weisselberg's involvement in such discussions and/or other payments involving women could drag the Trump Organization's top financial officer into the Cohen investigation, possibly opening the door to Trump's books...
Following release of the tape mentioning Allen Weisselberg, the WSJ reports that he's been subpoenaed as a witness in the Michael Cohen investigation.
Michael Cohen just dropped a collusion bombshell in the Russia investigation
Chris Cillizza | July 26, 2018
..."Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's former personal attorney, claims that then-candidate Trump knew in advance about the June 2016 meeting in Trump Tower in which Russians were expected to offer his campaign dirt on Hillary Clinton, sources with knowledge tell CNN. Cohen is willing to make that assertion to special counsel Robert Mueller, the sources said."
...There are now two major questions that matter going forward on this story:
Will Cohen actually tell Mueller what he knows about the alleged foreknowledge Trump had of the June 2016 meeting?
If he does, will the case Cohen can make be enough to convince Mueller? Or does Mueller find the Trump denials more credible?
In short: Where have you gone, Robert Mueller? Our nation turns its lonely eyes to you.
Speculation is that by leaking the Trump-Tower collusion story, Trumpians reduce its utility to prosecutors (at least in public mind) and to Michael Cohen's seeking a deal with prosecutors. Cohen might have released tape on pay-offs to establish that he did indeed work closely with Trump.
Lanny Davis on Cohen Trump Tower meeting news: "I have to wonder why the Trump people would put that out. It was not from us."
Maddow Blog @MaddowBlog 6:39 PM - 26 Jul 2018
Is this the best Giuliani’s got?
Eugene Robinson Columnist July 26
...After CNN first played the tape on Tuesday, Giuliani went on Fox News and played down its importance, citing his experience as a mob-busting federal prosecutor: “How about 4,000 hours of Mafia people on tape? I know how to listen to them. I know how to transcribe them. This tape is crystal clear when you listen to it. I’ve dealt with much worse tapes than this.”
Spin-wise, this is the best they’ve got? That Trump and Cohen don’t sound as bad as the Gambino family? Yikes.
...Earlier Tuesday, at the annual convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Trump was speaking about the economy but sounded almost as if he knew the Cohen recording was about to come out. He pointed to the assembled media, delivered his customary insults and then told the crowd, “What you’re seeing and what you’re reading is not what’s happening.”
Echoes of a chilling line in George Orwell’s “1984” were unmistakable: “The Party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command.”...
Leaked Emails Show that Stormy Daniels’ Arrest Was Pre-Planned and Police Lied
Ed Krassenstein | July 25, 2018
...whistleblower handed over several emails, which included photos of Stormy Daniels as well as a map of where she would be working on the night of July 11th, sent between work and personal email addresses of Detective Shana Keckley. Keckley is the officer who arrested Daniels in the early morning hours of July 12th.
...After the arrest of Daniels, Keckley sent an email stating “I got the elements…. we arrested Stormy this morning, she is in jail.” and then another email to a fellow officer stating, “You’re Welcome!!!!!…. Thank me in person later.”
...Daniels’ attorney, Michael Avenatti, responded to this bombshell by writing on Twitter, “This is extremely disturbing. I intend on getting to truth and the bottom of who ordered @StormyDaniels arrested and why. It appears that I was correct when I stated it was politically motivated.”...
Not clear whether the three women were all paid off during campaign (?) but certainly adds validity to stories of those who claim they were:
Stormy Daniels' attorney Michael Avenatti said Thursday that he is representing three other women who claim they were paid by Donald Trump, AMI and Michael Cohen to keep quiet.
Veronica Miracle | Friday, July 27
If any potential witnesses corroborate Cohen account of Trump Tower meeting, not only did Trump collude but Giuliani tampered with witnesses? Yikes!
This is amazing. Rudes says he's talked to the additional witnesses who were at the meeting when when Trump was told and they confirm that Trump was never told and there was no meeting.
Josh Marshall @joshtpm 0:26
6:33 PM - 26 Jul 2018
All That’s Left Is the Vote
George Packer | August 6 & 13, 2018 Issue
...The midterm elections in November are the last remaining obstacle to President Trump’s consolidation of power. None of the other forces that might have checked the rise of a corrupt homegrown oligarchy can stop or even slow it. The institutional clout that ended the Presidency of Richard Nixon no longer exists...when the independent counsel finally releases his report, it will have only the potency that the guardians of the law and the Constitution give it...
I'm confused. So Giuliani says there was no meeting where Trump Jr. told his dad about the meeting with the Russians; and further he has corroborated that with the other attendees at that nonexistent meeting. Have I got that straight?
>38 2wonderY: And if there were such a meeting it wouldn't be collusion and even if it were collusion it wouldn't be illegal.
>38 2wonderY: Sounds like! On tape Giuliani confirms that he talked to the "corroborating witnesses" who were "in the room" "a month ago."
As Day 2 dawns on Manafort trial:
This is a terrible situation and Attorney General Jeff Sessions should stop this Rigged Witch Hunt right now, before it continues to stain our country any further. Bob Mueller is totally conflicted, and his 17 Angry Democrats that are doing his dirty work are a disgrace to USA!
Donald J. Trump
Verified account @realDonaldTrump
6:24 AM - 1 Aug 2018
>41 margd: It's really disturbing that the President would tweet about an ongoing trial as his stance could influence justice. I'm not surprised, just disturbed that a President would do something so unprofessional.
The Day Trump Told Us There Was Attempted Collusion with Russia
Adam Davidson | August 5, 2018
...for the first time (August 5, 2018), the president explicitly stated the gathering’s purpose. “This was a meeting to get information on an opponent,” Trump wrote, adding that this was “totally legal and done all the time in politics.”
U.S. law, in fact, prohibits foreign nationals from making contributions to American political campaigns, including not only money but also donations of other things of material value, such as a rival’s hacked emails.
...there is a clear fact pattern about which there is no dispute:
The President’s son and top advisers knowingly met with individuals connected to the Russian government, hoping to obtain dirt on their political opponent.
Documents stolen from the Democratic National Committee and members of the Clinton campaign were later used in an overt effort to sway the election.
When the Trump Tower meeting was uncovered, the President instructed his son and staff to lie about the meeting, and told them precisely which lies to use.
The President is attempting to end the investigation into this meeting and other instances of attempted collusion between his campaign staff and representatives of the Russian government...
Trying to picture the Trump Presidential Library when the end invariably arrives:
Yuge! Gilded. Ripley's Believe it or Not decor. Flip cards. Very simple charts. Monitors at every turn counting lies or tracking the deficit or blaring Fox TV, etc.
The Russian Room with complex chart on who and where and what.
The Race & Immigration Room--SAD!
The Fat Cat Room with piles of money and pools of waste.
Thermostats set very high in room of wildfires, floods, hurricanes.
What would the healthcare exhibit look like?
Exhibit on strong men loved and allies spurned.
Women...what would THAT exhibit look like??
Empty niche for Nobel prize
Wonder how much Hope Hicks was offered? $15K a month seems to be going rate.
The RNC is reportedly paying Trump's former bodyguard $15,000 a month from a 'slush fund'
Eliza Relman | Feb. 21, 2018
Keith Schiller, President Donald Trump's former bodyguard and confidante, has been paid $15,000 per month by the Republican National Committee since he left the White House in September, CNBC reported Wednesday.
The RNC has paid Schiller's private security firm, KS Global Group, $75,000 since October 2017 in exchange for his work on the site selection process for the 2020 Republican National Convention.
...The former director of Oval Office operations and a 20-year Trump aide, Schiller served as a conduit between Trump and his associates outside the West Wing, reliably delivering the president information and news stories before White House chief of staff John Kelly reportedly implemented new restrictions on his role.
...until the convention, he'll likely collect more than $500,000...the amount Schiller collects is more than he made both in the White House — where his annual salary was $165,000 — and on the Trump campaign, which reported paying him $10,000 per month beginning in July 2016.
... Schiller made news in November when he privately testified before the House Intelligence Committee...said he rejected an offer from a Russian to "send five women" to Trump's Moscow hotel room in 2013.
Omarosa Manigault Newman says she refused hush money, pens White House memoir calling Trump racist
Josh Dawsey | August 10, 2018
Omarosa Manigault Newman was offered a $15,000-a-month contract from President Trump’s campaign to stay silent after being fired from her job as a White House aide by Chief of Staff John F. Kelly last December, according to a forthcoming book by Manigault Newman and a document viewed by The Washington Post.
But she refused...
After she was fired, Manigault Newman wrote, she received a call from Trump campaign adviser Lara Trump, the president’s daughter-in-law, offering her a job and the monthly contract in exchange for her silence...
Obstruction-of-justice file, contd. (intent):
Trump explains to WSJ (Wall Street Journal) why he acted against Brennan today and threatened the same for others:
“I call it the rigged witch hunt, it is a sham,” Mr. Trump said in an interview. “And these people led it!”
He added: “So I think it’s something that had to be done.”
Trump’s explanation - that “these people led” the “rigged witch hunt” - as reason for his action today, is NOT listed among the official reasons outlined in the White House statement here:
Dafna Linzer @DafnaLinzer (Managing Editor, Politics for NBC News & MSNBC)
7:20 PM - 15 Aug 2018 and 7h7 hours ago (~10:00 PM)
July 16, 2018 Helsinki Summit (Trump-Putin)
July 24, 2018 Paul & Sanders discuss T revoking Obama-era officials' security clearances
July 24, 2018 Putin pal Artem Klyushin tweets list of Obama-era officials to lose security clearances*
July 26, 2018 date on WH statement released Aug 15, 2018**
* Экс-директоры ЦРУ Джон Бреннан и Майкл Хэйден, экс-директор ФБР Джеймс Коми и его заместитель Эндрю МакКейб, экс-директор Национальной разведслужбы Джеймс Клаппер, экс-советник по нацбезопасности Сьюзан Райс прощаются с доступами к секретным материалам. Welcome to the real world!
Translated from Russian by Microsoft
Former CIA directors John Brennan and Michael Hayden, former FBI director James Komi and his deputy Andrew McCabe, former director of the National Intelligence James Clapper, ex-adviser on Homeland Susan Rice are forgiven for access to classified materials. Welcome to the real world!
АРТЕМ КЛЮШИН Verified account @ARTEM_KLYUSHIN
4:13 AM - 24 Jul 2018
**The White House waited 3 weeks to announce Trump was revoking Brennan's security clearance,
and some are speculating it was to get people to stop talking about Omarosa and Manafort
Sonam Sheth | Aug 16, 2018
Putin wins when Trump appointees can no longer consult their predecessors!
#44--I don't why but 'Trump' and 'library' almost immediately created this image in my head of a prison trustee wheeling around the book cart to his jail cell--oops I meant the presidential library. If it happens it may be the closest that Trump ever gets to opening up a book.
#50--it will be a coloring book if they have any--but then crayons can be dangerous--they might not let him have any of those either at least not to keep so............
Justice in the time of Trump--and Putin:
Manafort trial Day 14: Jury 'scared' as it prepares to head home without a verdict
DARREN SAMUELSOHN and JOSH GERSTEIN | 08/17/2018
(Judge threatened, protected.)
(Jury "scared". Asks for definition of reasonable doubt.)
Manafort's team left court on Friday pleased that deliberations would spill into a third day, with Manafort lawyer Kevin Downing telling reporters it favored his client.
(Trump trying to influence(?): I think the whole Manafort trial is very sad. He worked for me for a very short period of time. He happens to be a very good person...I think it’s very sad what they’ve done to Paul Manafort")
“Mr. Manafort appreciates the support of President Trump,” the defense attorney said...
There are a lot of counts against Manafort. They have to go over each and every one. It would be hard to believe he's not going to get hit with some of them.
Benjy Sarlin @BenjySarlin (NBC) 17 Aug 2018:
Legal experts: Is it kinda weird the jury isn't sequestered while the President of the United States is tweeting his take on the case?
Ken Dilanian @KenDilanian (NBC) 17 Aug 2018:
The jury not only wasn’t sequestered—jurors mingled freely in the courthouse elevators, cafeteria and hallways with reporters and spectators. I’ve never seen anything like it.
Report: Don McGahn has been cooperating "extensively" in special counsel probe
Grace Segers | August 18, 2018
...Over the last nine months, McGahn was involved in three interviews with investigators ...All of those interviews were voluntary.
When Mr. Trump's first personal legal team announced a strategy to cooperate fully with the special counsel's investigation into Russian election meddling, McGahn became concerned that the president was setting up McGahn to take the fall for any possible illegal acts of obstruction. He and his lawyer, William Burck, began collaborating with Mueller's investigation to show that he had nothing to hide
...McGahn was able to provide investigators with insight into Mr. Trump's thinking at pivotal points during his presidency, such as the firing of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and former FBI director James Comey, and his attempts to assert control over the investigation, The Times reported.
McGahn and Mr. Trump have had a strained relationship for months, and rarely meet alone...
George Papadopoulos' wife is trying to scrap her husband's plea deal with Mueller, and her comments could have huge ripple effects in the Russia probe
The wife of George Papadopoulos, a former foreign policy adviser on President Donald Trump's campaign, is trying to scrap her husband's plea deal with the special counsel Robert Mueller.
One former federal prosecutor said he sees the attempt as part of a larger effort by Trump's allies to discredit Mueller and the Russia investigation.
Mangiante's comments could also have an effect on two significant parts of the probe: the trial of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, and ongoing negotiations between Mueller and Trump's lawyers over a presidential interview.
...could bolster Trump's and his allies' claims that the special counsel is embarking on a politically motivated "witch hunt."
...serve as another reason for the president's legal team to refuse to have him sit down with Mueller for an interview.
...Mangiante's comments — and their amplification by Trump-friendly outlets — could "somehow impress the Manafort jury and get them to come around to acquitting Manafort." ...
Former WH Counsel John Dean (under Nixon) has unique perspective on McGahn coopertion in Special Counsel probe:
What John Dean Has to Say About the NYT’s Blockbuster Don McGahn Story
Isaac Chotiner | Aug 18, 2018
No-drama Obama's WH Counsel Bob Bauer's take:
Ivanka Trump's Former Business Partner Sued in Federal Fraud Probe
■Moshe Lax is being sued over his alleged part in schemes to defraud the federal government out of millions in tax liabilities
■A jewelry business formerly run by Ivanka is central to the case
Michael Cohen considering a plea deal.
This is not expected to include cooperation, but to avoid a trial.
So Manafort convicted on 8 counts and Cohen pleads guilty to 8 counts...implicating Trump in doing that.
Author of Trump-Russia dossier wins libel case in US court
Luke Harding | 21 Aug 2018
Suit against Christopher Steele by three Russian oligarchs thrown out by judge
Dafna Linzer @DafnaLinzer (NBC) 3:16 PM - 21 Aug 2018
Hunter was the second congressman to endorse Trump, in February 2016. The first was Rep. Chris Collins, facing charges in New York.
Rep. Duncan Hunter and his wife indicted in use of campaign funds for personal expenses
Laura Jarrett and Maeve Reston | August 21, 2018
...Hunter's traditionally safe district, which makes up much of eastern San Diego County, could be at risk of Democratic takeover in November's midterm election.
Senior White House officials were aware of the impending announcement and bracing for the Hunter news to join a slew of bad news stories that have hit the White House all at once, according to a source familiar with the matter.
Hunter was a founding member of the "Trump Caucus" in the House during the 2016 campaign, and alongside Rep. Chris Collins, was the first of two sitting congressmen to endorse Trump for President back in February 2016. Collins was indicted earlier this month on insider trader charges.
Hundreds of thousands of dollars in unusual charges on Hunter's campaign credit card had come under scrutiny, including among other things, an Italian vacation, dental work, purchases at a surf shop, and huge tabs at bars in restaurants in the San Diego and Washington, DC, areas. Among the most mocked charges was airfare for a pet rabbit to fly with the family, which an aide said was mistakenly charged to the wrong credit card...
Stormy Daniels and Michael Avenatti's civil lawsuit gets a huge boost as well. Cohen's plea ties Trump to the campaign fraud hush money payments to Daniels and McDougall.
Avenatti---'The developments of today will permit us to have the stay lifted in the civil case and should also permit us to proceed with an 'expedited' deposition of Trump under oath about what he knew, when he knew it, and what he did about it. We will disclose it all to the public'.
Note the word expedited. That means hurried up. Quite honestly I have more hope in Avenatti than I do in Congress. If and when he gets Trump on the witness stand and if it's televised it will be time to get out the popcorn. IMO he'll tear that blustering idiot apart.
Popcorn time, indeed! Hope the adults can keep the unindicted co-conspirator away from the button--and from inciting the Trumplicans to violence... :-( Sure hope Cohen under some kind of protection?
Cohen's attorney says he has information on Trump that would interest Mueller
Kate Sullivan | August 21, 2018
..."We'll see whether the level of corruption alleged concerning the Trump Foundation is a topic of concern for the New York attorney general," (Lanny Davis, the attorney representing President Donald Trump's former personal attorney Michael Cohen) said, adding that the President's pardon power would not apply to state charges brought in New York. Presidents are only able to pardon those accused or convicted of federal crimes, not state crimes.
Davis, who was also a lawyer to President Bill Clinton, said Cohen "specifically under oath stated that Donald Trump directed him to commit a crime" during his time in court Tuesday.
"There is no factual dispute," Davis said. "Mr. Trump's lawyers said he directed Michael Cohen to make that payment. He is as much guilty of a felony, he just hasn't owned up to it."
Trump campaign manager: Guilty
Trump personal lawyer: Guilty
Trump deputy campaign manager: Guilty
Trump National Security Advisor: Guilty
Trump foreign policy advisor: Guilty
Some witch hunt, huh?
Adam Schiff @AdamSchiffCA
3:58 PM - 21 Aug 2018
L'Affaire Russe: What Michael Cohen’s Plea and Paul Manafort’s Conviction Mean for Trump and the Mueller Investigation
Mikhaila R. Fogel, Susan Hennessey, Quinta Jurecic, Benjamin Wittes | Tuesday, August 21, 2018
...Does Donald Trump choose the “best people”?
...Do these convictions have implications for L’Affaire Russe?
...How big a deal is the Manafort verdict?
...How big a deal is the Cohen plea agreement?
...How close is this to the president?
...Is a second special counsel needed?
...Are there dangers here?
...As the cloud over the president darkens, we are entering a dangerous period.
The 25th Amendment, explained: how a president can be declared unfit to serve
Andrew Prokopandrew | Jan. 12, 2018
If the VP and Cabinet conclude a president is unwell, they can legally do something about it.
...Section 4 of the 25th Amendment to the Constitution...states that if, for whatever reason, the vice president and a majority (eight in January) of sitting Cabinet secretaries decide that the president is “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office,” they can simply put that down in writing and send it to two people — the speaker of the House and the Senate’s president pro tem.
Then the vice president would immediately become “Acting President,” and take over all the president’s powers...
..."Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President."
...Theoretically, Congress can also create and empower some “other body” that could make this declaration, but so far it has not done so.
...the veep only becomes “Acting President.” So the elected president hasn’t lost his office yet, just his powers — and not necessarily permanently
...“unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office” ...physical inability...judgment call on mental health or even, conceivably, poor character or simple disagreement. It’s really up to the VP and Cabinet to interpret it.
..."Thereafter, when the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that no inability exists, he shall resume the powers and duties of his office unless the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive department or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit within four days to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office."
...the president can tell the speaker of the House and Senate president pro tem that he is in fact not unable, and that he wants his powers back.
...If he does this, he’ll get his powers back in four days — unless the vice president and at least eight Cabinet officials say, in writing, that he is still unable. Then the vice president will remain in charge for the time being, and Congress will have to step in to settle this dispute.
..."Thereupon Congress shall decide the issue, assembling within forty-eight hours for that purpose if not in session. If the Congress, within twenty-one days after receipt of the latter written declaration, or, if Congress is not in session, within twenty-one days after Congress is required to assemble, determines by two-thirds vote of both Houses that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall continue to discharge the same as Acting President; otherwise, the President shall resume the powers and duties of his office."
...the vice president and the Cabinet secretaries...judgments won’t be skewed by political bias against the president’s party. They work with the president up close and see him in private. So if they see deeply troubling things, they are the ones who have the ability — and, arguably, the responsibility — to act. Much could hinge on whether they do so.
OTOH, if you need 2/3 of Congress to back up 25th amendment if president contests removal, might as well impeach--except that it might leave unbalanced person acting longer than would 25th?
From pg.60: “While creating the Constitution, the Framers repeatedly described corrupt acquisition of the presidency as a paradigm case for impeachment.” The guilty plea by Trump’s private counsel Michael Cohen in SDNY on August 21 makes that case.
Laurence Tribe tribelaw | 40m40 minutes ago (8/22/2018)
#64--FWIW as far as the criminal proceedings I watched Dershowitz last night and he brought up some good points--that all Cohen has to do is add in Trump told me to do it--to lower his own criminal liability and that is why a judge might be skeptical of what Cohen might say in court in a criminal proceeding. There are apparently tape recordings though so.......maybe something can be gleaned from that.
Again to Daniels civil suit though---that is not a criminal proceeding but if Avenatti grills Trump on the witness stand it can turn into one depending on what he gets Trump to say.....and I don't believe that Trump can take the 5th without being in contempt. He might want to anyway.
How November's elections go will impact things too.....but even if the Democrats win back the house it's not guaranteed that they'll impeach the president. IMO--there are always some reluctant actors in that party. Pelosi for one has up to now anyway been anti-impeachment. And no way it happens unless Senate republicans start crossing over and apart from McCain (who is pretty much on death's door) I don't see any ready to do that--though some like Rubio, Corker, Flake, Cruz IMO have really good reasons to want to.
The only two Republicans of note that I think would kill the Trump presidency right now are McCain and Kasich and Kasich's not a Senator.
‘It’s all your fault!’ Trump screamed at Giuliani — and blamed him for putting Don Jr. in legal jeopardy
According to (Vanity Fair's Gabriel) Sherman’s sources, Trump blames Giuliani for not taking up the job of attorney general, which eventually went to Jeff Sessions. Because Giuliani wouldn’t have recused himself as Sessions did, the president’s logic goes, Giuliani could have kept the president safe had he agreed to become AG.
“Over the weekend, Jared Kushner described Trump’s mood as ‘rip-shit,’ according to one of the advisers,” Sherman writes. “‘Total meltdown’ was how another adviser put it. ‘He’s extremely frustrated,’ a Republican close to the White House said.”
At his age, Manafort's only hope for not spending rest of life in prison is a pardon?
What would Congress do?
I feel very badly for Paul Manafort and his wonderful family. “Justice” took a 12 year old tax case, among other things, applied tremendous pressure on him and, unlike Michael Cohen, he refused to “break” - make up stories in order to get a “deal.” Such respect for a brave man!
Donald J. Trump | @realDonaldTrump
6:21 AM - 22 Aug 2018
The President has a constitutional obligation to "take care that the laws be faithfully executed."
This morning, the President issued a statement praising his former campaign manager, a convicted tax felon, for "bravely" refusing to "break" for a federal prosecutor.
Adam White @adamjwhitedc
7:34 AM - 22 Aug 2018
Federal prosecutors can still bring Manafort back to court for the 10 counts that went to mistrial. As well Manafort is due in court in DC next month to face further charges for lying to the FBI, money laundering and foreign lobbying. His odyssey isn't over. So I wouldn't expect Trump to pardon him right off--or if he does he's kind of jumping the gun--he might have to pardon Manafort a second time then and if the House switches in the meantime it's going to be in a lot more of a hostile environment than it is now.
I suspect that Trump will eventually get around to pardoning Manafort though. Here's a thought though---however much Cohen is cooperating with the FBI it's likely that he won't be happy being the unpardonable fall guy. Whatever he knows that's worthwhile is going to get used.
There's also McGhan.
Will this give investigators access to Trump organization's books?
Trump’s company approved $420,000 in payments to Cohen, relying on ‘sham’ invoices, prosecutors say
Carol D. Leonnig, Michelle Ye Hee Lee | August 21, 2018
President Trump’s real estate company authorized paying $420,000 to lawyer Michael Cohen in his effort to silence women during the presidential campaign and then relied on “sham” invoices from Cohen that concealed the nature of the payments, according to legal filings released Tuesday.
The payments began flowing in February 2017, soon after Trump took office, when Cohen approached Trump Organization executives seeking to be reimbursed for “election-related” expenses, prosecutors said.
That included a $130,000 payment Cohen had made to adult-film star Stormy Daniels so she would remain silent about an alleged affair with Trump, according to the court documents.
Trump executives decided Cohen should be paid more than he sought — an additional $360,000 for expenses and other fees and taxes, plus a $60,000 bonus, prosecutors said.
...While Trump removed himself from day-to-day operations of the Trump Organization after the election, he put his assets in a trust and retained his ownership stake.
...potential legal questions for Trump’s company and his campaign...
What will Putin do: shore up his Manchurian candidate by eliminating Trump's enemies (e.g., polonium or novichok) or cut his losses by releasing the pee tape and other incriminating evidence via the SVR/Wikileaks?
New York tax investigators subpoena Michael Cohen in Trump Foundation probe
Erica Orden and Sophie Tatum | August 22, 2018
...This probe is separate from the New York attorney general's lawsuit against the Trump Foundation. The Tax Department is not able to bring any criminal charges, and if it finds any wrongdoing, the department would have to refer it to the New York attorney general's office or another prosecutor's office...
>66 lriley: As far as impeaching Trump if the Dems win big in November goes, this article makes some arguments for why they should hold off on it and set their sights on doing other things at least at first.
>69 lriley: Pardoning Manafort would have it's own repercussions, especially with the limitations on what Trump can pardon him for.
"Truth isn't truth: sounds like Trump & friends have influenced the jury pool.
Reasonable doubt in one juror in spite of overwhelming (paper) evidence.
Some had problem with Gates' testimony because he took the plea.
'I did not want Paul Manafort to be guilty, but he was,' says juror who supports Trump
Sophie Tatum | August 23, 2018
"I thought that the public, America, needed to know how close this was, and that the evidence was overwhelming," Paula Duncan said in an interview on Fox News. "I did not want Paul Manafort to be guilty, but he was, and no one's above the law. So it was our obligation to look through all the evidence."
Duncan offered a look behind the scenes of the deliberations, noting that "crazily enough, there were even tears," and detailed some of the jury's conversations with the lone juror who she said was the reason Manafort was not found guilty on all counts.
"We all tried to convince her to look at the paper trail. We laid it out in front of her again and again and she still said that she had a reasonable doubt. And that's the way the jury worked. We didn't want it to be hung, so we tried for an extended period of time to convince her, but in the end she held out and that's why we have 10 counts that did not get a verdict," Duncan said on "Fox News at Night."
...One of the witnesses who testified against Manafort was his longtime deputy, Rick Gates. Duncan described Gates as "nervous," and said the jury ultimately threw away his testimony during deliberation.
"Some of us had a problem accepting his testimony because he took the plea. So we agreed to throw out his testimony and look at the paperwork, which his name was all over," Duncan said.
"I think he would have done anything to preserve himself -- that's just obvious in the fact that he flipped on Manafort," she later added...
Michael Cohen paid a mysterious tech company $50,000 'in connection with' Trump's campaign
Christina Wilkie | Aug 22, 2018
President Donald Trump's former lawyer, Michael Cohen, made a previously unreported payment of $50,000 to a tech company in connection with Trump's 2016 presidential campaign.
The document detailing the payment does not say which company Cohen paid the money to, or what, exactly, the company did for him.
The payment suggests that Cohen may have been doing more for Trump, and for the Trump campaign, than had been previously known.
...mystery of exactly what tech services Cohen was buying to help Trump's campaign...
"Adding to the pressure, David Pecker, Chairman of American Media Inc., which publishes the National Enquirer, provided prosecutors with details about payments Mr. Cohen arranged with women who allege sexual encounters with Mr. Trump, including Mr. Trump's knowledge of the deals."
Keith Boykin (CNN) @keithboykin | 8:15 PM - 22 Aug 2018
In Fox interview, Trump seems to confess a campaign finance violation while trying to deny it
Matthew Yglesias | Aug 22, 2018
He doesn’t get what the illegal part was.
...while a private citizen is free to make a secret hush money payment to his former mistress if he likes, a political campaign is required to disclose what it’s spending money on. If Trump had reported a cash payment to Stormy Daniels to the Federal Election Commission, that would have naturally raised questions about why he was paying her and somewhat defeat the purpose of making hush money payments in the first place. So what Trump and Cohen seem to have decided to do is avoid using campaign money, thus allowing them to avoid disclosure rules.
But just like lying on the disclosure form would be illegal and refusing to do the disclosure would be illegal, paying for campaign expenses out of a non-campaign account and then declining to report that as a contribution to the campaign is also illegal.
...There are two ways to get out of legal hot water here.
One would be to argue that the payments were genuinely not a campaign expense. Perhaps Trump had no concern about the political impact of Daniels’s revelations but simply didn’t want his wife and kids to find out about the affair. Trump seems to have messed this up, and instead of making the correct argument, he appeared to confess to a crime.
The other would be to argue that Cohen was lying in court and Trump had no knowledge that the payments happened. In the course of the interview, Trump first denies knowing about it, then concedes he did know — but says it was only after the fact. It’s not entirely clear that this would really exonerate Trump, since even by his account it appears he was aware that Cohen committed a crime on his behalf and didn’t say or do anything about it...
Trump may have tainted jury pool, but reportedly energized FBI and Justice Dept investigators:
With Cohen’s Plea, New York Prosecutors Flex Their Independence
Greg Farrell and Christian Berthelsen | Updated on August 22, 2018
Trump’s replacement of U.S. attorney last year raised concerns
Office recently charged Trump’s lawyer and Republican lawmaker
...When Trump put forth Geoffrey Berman to succeed (Preet) Bharara, Democratic lawmakers derided the president’s decision to meet with Berman before the nomination.
...Berman’s appointment also raised questions for other reasons. He was a partner at Greenberg Traurig LLP, a law firm where his colleagues included Rudolph Giuliani.
...one of Berman’s primary clients at the law firm was Deutsche Bank AG, the embattled German company that loaned some $300 million to Trump from 2012 to 2015.
Two weeks ago, the Manhattan office brought insider-trading charges against a Republican congressman who was among Trump’s earliest and staunchest supporters on Capitol Hill. Then on Tuesday, it prosecuted Cohen.
One way Berman has preserved independence is by relying on (Deputy U.S. Attorney Robert Khuzami), his hand-picked deputy.
Khuzami, a veteran prosecutor who for a time led the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s enforcement division, oversaw the investigation of Cohen.
...“We are a nation of laws and the essence of this case is justice, and that is an equal playing field for all persons in the eyes of the law,” Khuzami said.
...Trump’s political attacks on officials at the Justice Department and Federal Bureau of Investigation may have chafed law enforcers who pride themselves on independence... (Samuel Buell, a former federal prosecutor who teaches at Duke University School of Law)
The Most Damaging Thing That’s Happened to Trump
Benjamin Wittes | Aug 22, 2018
It is the morning after a devastating defeat. Smoke is still rising from the field. The rubble has not yet been cleared. And the commanders are having trouble facing just how hopeless their position has become. They no longer know on how many fronts they are fighting, how many separate enemies they face, or to what extent those enemies are cooperating—one might say “colluding”—with one another. They know they are surrounded. They know the next push could come at any moment—or be days, weeks, or months off. But they know neither what the attack will look like nor from which side it will come.
...The most damaging thing that happened yesterday to Trump was not that his former lawyer (Michael Cohen) alleged under oath that Trump had directed him in the commission of crimes. It was that the United States Department of Justice allowed him to enter a guilty plea whose factual basis was that Trump had directed him in the commission of a crime. That is to say that the significance of the Cohen plea is not merely that Cohen alleges that Trump had him arrange to pay hush money to a porn star and a model in a specific effort to influence the election with illegal corporate contributions. It’s that the Justice Department believes this allegation to be true and is willing to proceed criminally against Cohen on that basis. That’s ominous for both Trump personally and for his campaign. What’s more, this particular front in the war is not under Mueller, who spun it off to the U.S. attorney’s office in the Southern District of New York. This is not, in other words, a problem Trump can fire his way out of. The SDNY has a lot more than 17 prosecutors; and whether they are angry or not, Democrats or not, they are not going away.
...nobody will tell the mad king the hopeless truth that he’s surrounded, outmanned, outgunned, and that there’s no telling from where or when the next blow will come: The king is mad and doesn’t want to hear it...
The federal indictments against Congressional members offer immediate entertainment.
Charges against Duncan Hunter threaten his support from military community
In interviews earlier this year, some veterans told CNN they were puzzled by how a Marine who had served three combat tours overseas could so brazenly break the rules, or claim that suspicious charges on his campaign credit card were innocent mistakes. In some cases, that was one reason why they didn't believe the allegations swirling around him.
NY Times: Manhattan DA looking at criminal charges against Trump Organization
Kate Sullivan | August 24, 2018
The Manhattan District Attorney's Office is considering pursuing criminal charges against the Trump Organization and two senior company executives in connection to Michael Cohen's payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels...
According to the (New York) Times, a state investigation would focus on how the Trump Organization accounted for its reimbursement to Cohen, Trump's former personal lawyer and fixer, for the $130,000 he paid to Daniels, who said she had an affair with President Donald Trump. Trump has denied the affair.
These are the power players at Trump's billion-dollar business
Allan Smith | Apr. 2, 2018
...power is currently vested in the hands of Trump's two eldest sons and Allen Weisselberg, a senior official at the business. But there are several officials who make up the upper ring of the Trump Organization.
Donald Trump Jr. (Exec VP, development & acquisitions)
Eric Trump (Exec VP, golf portfolio)
George Sorial (Exec VP and chief compliance counsel for any conflicts of interest. Trump U.)
Amanda Miller (Sr VP for marketing and corporate communications, lead spokesperson)
Alan Garten (Exec VP, chief legal officer. He gained notoriety for dangling legal threats in defense of Trump during the campaign.)
Matthew Calamari (COO, first joined the company as a bodyguard in 1981)
Lawrence Glick (Exec VP strategic development, manages Trump's golf portfolio)
Ron Lieberman (Exec VP for management and development, NYC concessions)
Deirdre Rosen (Sr VP human resources)
Allen Weisselberg (CFO, manages the company as a partner to Eric and Donald Jr. (Mentioned in Cohen-Trump tape discussing payment to Daniels.))
Andrew Weiss (Exec VP, development and construction, failed Atlantic City casino.)
Jill Martin (VP and assistant general counsel for litigation and employment. "She has recently come under scrutiny in relation to the Daniels scandal, as she was listed in an arbitration filing for the company Cohen used to make the payment to the porn actress. The Trump Organization, however, said Martin did so in "her individual capacity." )
The President couldn't pardon in a state investigation...
Is it all unraveling?
Trump Org. CFO, Weisselberg, granted immunity.
Wonder how immunity for Pecker and Weisselberg affect Manafort's calculations re
pardon from Trump v. deal with Mueller v. revenge of Putin:
1) Trump org chief financial officer got immunity in Cohen probe. We find this out one day after news that National Enquirer’s David Pecker also got immunity. Why aren’t they waiting for pardons? Because they don’t trust Trump. Sends loud message to other potential pardonees.
2) In other words, if you’re holding out for a Trump pardon, you’re watching Trump’s top non-family confidantes opt to turn rat rather than wait for a pardon. The message: No one trusts Trump’s pardons. Which means more people may now cooperate with prosecutors.
John Aravosis @aravosis | 8:11 AM - 24 Aug 2018
Also, with Manafort trial and all this unraveling before the midterms, at what point do investigations go dark? Some stuff will continue playing out, esp if in courts.)
(Huh! when I accessed site mentioned in memo https://www.justice.gov/sites/default/files/oip/legacy/2014/07/23/ag-memo-election-year-sensitivities.pdf -- sections 1-4 and 9-85 of the United States Attorneys' Manual at http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/eousa/ibia_reading_room/usam/ -- there was "Page Not Found" notice, updated August 21, 2018)
Pence will be a marginally better Prez at least around the nuclear button, but we need Democrats in Senate and House to curb his particular excesses.
Donald Trump, Paul Manafort and that Pesky Witness Tampering Statute
Sarah Grant, Sabrina McCubbin, Yishai Schwartz, Benjamin Wittes | August 23, 2018
...The day after his former campaign manager was convicted by a federal jury on eight felony counts, the president of the United States made a sequence of public statements praising Paul Manafort for refusing to cooperate with a lawful federal law enforcement investigation and for not “flipping” on the president—and, conspicuously, did not rule out a pardon.
...18 U.S. Code § 1512(b). That law makes it a federal crime “knowingly” to “corruptly persuade another person ... with intent to ... influence, delay, or prevent the testimony of any person in an official proceeding” or “cause or induce any person to withhold testimony . . . from an official proceeding.” It also makes it a crime to attempt to do so.
...while Mueller’s prosecutors would be foolish to focus on the president’s comments (twitter, TV) about Manafort as a stand-alone obstruction matter, they could form part of a larger obstructive pattern—a part that exists outside of the exercise of core Article II presidential functions. More generally, just as no reasonable prosecutor would be likely to treat these statements alone as criminal acts in and of themselves, it is just as clear that no reasonable defense lawyer would want a client already facing investigation for obstruction making comments like these.
Pence will be terrible. He's always been a right wing wet dream but IMO he never would have got close to the White House on his own. He is a serious hard line conservative--has always been a serious hard line conservative--and a guy who the republican party will have no problem getting the support of pretty much all factions of the party. He will get those factions to coordinate and work together and I seriously doubt there will be very much scandal worthy material in a Pence White House. He won't rule them through fear either. There will be quite a lot of affection. He is not an outsider---he is truly one of theirs.
Kushner, Cohen business practices (fines were peanuts c.f. profits that resulted):
Kushner Companies Fined For Falsifying Construction Permits
Vanessa Romo | August 28, 2018
...President Trump's son-in-law — and current adviser — Jared Kushner was still at the helm of the real estate company as CEO when the New York City Department of Buildings says the company routinely falsified construction applications at 17 sites.
The city's Building Department found the company frequently under-reported, and in some cases didn't report any rent-regulated tenants living in its buildings, despite renting to hundreds of them.
Developers are required to report the number of rent-controlled tenants they inherit when they buy properties and renovate them. The requirement is a safeguard to protect tenants from steep rental increases or from being driven out to make way for higher-paying tenants.
...Also under scrutiny is an investment group led by Trump's former attorney, Michael Cohen. The New York Times reported that Cohen's business allegedly submitted false construction permits for three Manhattan properties. In each instance, according to a report by the Housing Rights Initiative, the Cohen group reported buildings "were vacant or without rent-regulated tenants, when they were occupied and many of the tenants had rental protections."
...19 protected tenants there, but only 11 remained after the Cohen group sold the building three years later for (5X more)
...rent-stabilized tenants in one of the Kushner Companies' ...developments, filed a lawsuit claiming they were deliberately exposed to toxic smoke and other unsafe conditions. They argue it was to get them to move out so the apartments could be sold as high-price condos...
Paul Manafort reportedly sought a plea deal with Mueller to prevent his second trial from going forward
Sonam Sheth | 8/28/2018
...Paul Manafort's legal team was reportedly trying to secure a plea deal last week for Manafort in his second trial in Washington, DC.
Manafort's lawyers were discussing a possible plea with the special counsel Robert Mueller's team last week, as a jury in Virginia moved toward convicting Manafort on eight counts of tax and bank fraud.
But talks broke down when Mueller raised several issues with Manafort's lawyers.
A plea deal does not necessarily include a cooperation agreement. Instead, most defendants plead guilty to avoid facing a long and expensive trial in exchange for a reduced sentence, if prosecutors agree to such a deal.
Legal experts say the most likely reason Manafort has not flipped is the possibility of a presidential pardon...
I found this interesting--The prosecutors who have declared war on the president. By the way Dershowitz thinks this is more dangerous for Trump than Mueller's investigation.
Following the money:
"Suspicious" Transactions At Russian Embassy Sparked Deeper Bank Probe Than Previously Known
Jason Leopold | August 29, 2018
(After the 2016 election) The former Russian ambassador received a salary payment twice as large as past years, and bankers blocked a $150,000 withdrawal...
‘Winter is coming’: Allies fear Trump isn’t prepared for gathering legal storm
Philip Rucker, Carol D. Leonnig, Josh Dawsey, Ashley Parker | August 29, 2018
...Within Trump’s orbit, there is consensus that his current legal team is not equipped to effectively navigate an onslaught of congressional demands, and there has been broad discussion about bringing on new lawyers experienced in white-collar defense and political scandals.
...Trump advisers also are discussing recruiting experienced legal firepower to the Office of White House Counsel, which is facing departures and has dwindled in size at a critical juncture. The office has about 25 lawyers now, down from roughly 35 earlier in the presidency,
...John Eisenberg, who handles national security, as the lone deputy counsel (after resignations by WH Counsel Gahn and deputies)
...If Democrats control the House, the oversight committees likely would use their subpoena power as a weapon to assail the administration, investigating with a vengeance. The committees could hold hearings about policies such as the travel ban affecting majority-Muslim countries and “zero tolerance” family separation, as well as on possible ethical misconduct throughout the administration or the Trump family’s private businesses.
...Jack Quinn, who served as White House counsel under Clinton, said his office had at least 40 lawyers and as many as 60 during key times. He estimated that he spent between half and three-quarters of his time dealing with investigations.
...“The president needs to have the very best lawyers he can get both in the White House and outside representing him personally,” Quinn said...
The New York Times posted a story today that fleshes out the Karen McDougal/National Enquirer story a bit more.
National Enquirer Had Decades of Trump Dirt. He Wanted to Buy It All.
the part I found most interesting is:
When Mr. Cohen pleaded guilty, prosecutors said in court documents that Mr. Cohen and American Media did enter into a deal in which Mr. Cohen agreed to pay the company $125,000 for the rights to Ms. McDougal’s story.
After the deal was signed but before Mr. Cohen paid, prosecutors said, American Media backed out of the arrangement and warned Mr. Cohen to shred the paperwork (he did not).
Prosecutors said there had been discussions between Mr. Pecker and Mr. Cohen in which Mr. Cohen said American Media would be reimbursed for the payment to Ms. McDougal.
The notoriously frugal Mr. Trump balked at doing so, causing Mr. Pecker anxiety about explaining the payout to his board, according to a person briefed on the discussions.
Lobbyist Sam Patten Pleads Guilty to Steering Foreign Funds to Trump Inaugural
Kenneth P. Vogel, Sharon LaFraniere and Adam Goldman | Aug. 31, 2018
...As part of a plea agreement under which he pledged to cooperate with federal prosecutors, the lobbyist, Sam Patten, pleaded guilty to failing to register as a foreign agent for a Russia-aligned Ukrainian political party, and to helping the Ukrainian oligarch who had funded that party illegally purchase four tickets to Mr. Trump’s inauguration.
...encompassed Mr. Patten, a respected Republican operative and consultant whose family was once part of Washington’s social elite; money transfers from a Cypriot bank; and a Russian national who had also worked for Paul Manafort, Mr. Trump’s former campaign manager, and been accused of maintaining ties to Russian intelligence.
...He faces up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. He was released after the hearing and awaits sentencing.
...born into elite Washington, as a grandson of the Georgetown socialite Susan Mary Alsop.
He worked in Washington Republican politics, including for the State Department under President George W. Bush, and briefly for Senator Susan Collins of Maine.
...made his name in international political consulting, coming to specialize in representing clients in former Soviet states.
...Among his associates...was Rinat Akhmetshin, a Russian-born Washington lobbyist who attended the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting...
Mr. Patten also had a yearslong business relationship with Cambridge Analytica...
Justice Department lawyer was told Russia had 'Trump over a barrel': sources
AP's Eric Tucker And Chad Day | August 31, 2018
New details reveal an exchange of potentially explosive information between Bruce Ohr and Christopher Steele, two men the president has relentlessly sought to discredit
...Among the things (senior Justice Department lawyer Bruce) Ohr (described to lawmakers this week in a private interview) ...learned from (Christopher) Steele during the (July 30, 2016) breakfast was that an unnamed former Russian intelligence official had said that Russian intelligence believed “they had Trump over a barrel,” according to people familiar with the meeting. It was not clear from Ohr’s interview whether Steele had been directly told that or had picked that up through his contacts, but the broader sentiment is echoed in Steele’s research dossier.
Steele and Ohr, at the time of the election a senior official in the deputy attorney general’s office, had first met a decade earlier and bonded over a shared interest in international organized crime. They met several times during the presidential campaign, a relationship that exposed both men and federal law enforcement more generally to partisan criticism, including from Trump...proposed stripping Ohr, who until this year had been largely anonymous during his decades-long Justice Department career, of his security clearance and has asked “how the hell” he remains employed.
...Ohr also told Congress that Steele told him that Page, a Trump campaign aide who travelled to Moscow that same month and whose ties to Russia attracted FBI scrutiny, had met with more senior Russian officials than he had acknowledged meeting with...
Papadopoulos claims candidate Trump gave nod of ‘approval’ to planning meeting with Putin
Morgan Gstalter | 09/01/18
...A former campaign aide accused of lying to the FBI said that then-candidate Donald Trump “nodded with approval” at his suggestion of setting up a meeting between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
George Papadopoulos’ lawyers argued in new probation filings that President Trump was open to his suggestions about meeting with the foreign leader in March of 2016....
Papadopoulos allegedly volunteered to set up a meeting between Trump and Putin during a gathering with Trump’s foreign policy advisers, including Attorney General Jeff Sessions — who was a GOP senator at the time.
“While some in the room rebuffed George’s offer, Mr. Trump nodded with approval and deferred to Mr. Sessions who appeared to like the idea and stated that the campaign should look into it,” defense lawyers wrote...
#94--'Ohr also told Congress that Steele told him that Page, a Trump campaign aide who travelled to Moscow that same month'--Page is Carter Page.
NEW: BRUCE OHR worked w/ @FBI on a secret program to flip Russian oligarchs, including OLEG DERIPASKA.
Ohr once wrote that Deripaska was "almost ready to talk to US re: $ MANAFORT stole.” He also urged an intermediary to get Deripaska "to give up Manafort"
Kenneth P. Vogel @kenvogel (NYT)
11:10 AM - 1 Sep 2018
Agents Tried to Flip Russian Oligarchs. The Fallout Spread to Trump.
Kenneth P. Vogel and Matthew Rosenberg | Sept. 1, 2018
...Between 2014 and 2016, the F.B.I. and the Justice Department unsuccessfully tried to turn (Oleg V. Deripaska, a Russian oligarch with close ties to the Kremlin) into an informant. They signaled that they might provide help with his trouble in getting visas for the United States or even explore other steps to address his legal problems. In exchange, they were hoping for information on Russian organized crime and, later, on possible Russian aid to President Trump’s 2016 campaign, according to current and former officials and associates of Mr. Deripaska.
...The attempt to flip Mr. Deripaska was part of a broader, clandestine American effort to gauge the possibility of gaining cooperation from roughly a half-dozen of Russia’s richest men, nearly all of whom, like Mr. Deripaska, depend on President Vladimir V. Putin to maintain their wealth, the officials said.
Two of the players in the effort were Bruce G. Ohr, the Justice Department official who has recently become a target of attacks by Mr. Trump, and Christopher Steele, the former British spy who compiled a dossier of purported links between the Trump campaign and Russia.
...(unsuccessful) Mr. Deripaska even notified the Kremlin about the American efforts to cultivate him.
...The contacts between Mr. Ohr and Mr. Steele were detailed in emails and notes from Mr. Ohr that the Justice Department turned over to Republicans in Congress earlier this year.
...The revelation that Mr. Ohr engaged with Mr. Steele has provided the president’s allies with fresh fodder to attack the investigation led by Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel, casting it as part of a vast, long-running conspiracy by a “deep state” bent on undermining Mr. Trump. In their telling, Mr. Ohr and his wife — who worked as a contractor at the same research firm that produced the (Steele) dossier — are villainous central players in a cabal out to destroy the president.
Mr. Trump himself has seized on the reports, threatening to pull Mr. Ohr’s security clearance and claiming that his family “received big money for helping to create the phony, dirty and discredited Dossier.”...
Ohr Deripaska report may show Trump's conflicted interests (00:30}
Former CIA operative and 2016 Independent presidential candidate Evan McMullin tells MSNBC’s Ayman Mohyeldin that President Trump’s actions seem to indicate that the Department of Justice’s efforts targeting Russian organized crime somehow intersect with the president’s own interests.
Michael Cohen is resigned to going to prison to protect his family
MJ Lee | August 29, 2018
...became almost singularly focused on protecting his wife and the well-being of his family. Prosecutors in New York threatened Trump's ex-lawyer with numerous more counts that could have also implicated his wife, and also raised the possibility of his assets being seized
...Fighting the criminal charges would have also meant huge legal bills in addition to the hefty bills he had already accrued -- potentially upwards of millions of dollars.
Who Is Michael Cohen's Wife? New Detalis About Laura Shusterman
Aug 31, 2018
1. Her family is from the Ukraine.
2. They’ve been married more than 20 years.
3. Her father introduced Cohen to Trump.
4. Her father is also a criminal.
5. Laura and Michael were also in the taxi business.
6. She and her husband own Trump properties.
7. And so do her parents.
8. They have two children.
Trump facing six separate investigations and lawsuits:
>99 lriley: Overview made me wonder why we hadn't heard about Michael Flynn lately:
Mueller (and Flynn defense team) seeks to push back Flynn sentencing again
CAITLIN OPRYSKO | 08/21/2018
...The court asked for an update on a sentencing timeline for Flynn by Aug. 24, but the parties asked for that date to be pushed back to Sept. 17. On Tuesday evening, U.S. District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan accepted the request from Mueller and defense attorneys to file their joint status report by that date. Mueller’s team previously asked for a delay in sentencing at the end of June.
Flynn...pleaded guilty in December to lying to investigators, and has been cooperating with Mueller’s election interference probe since.
Tuesday’s filing indicates that Mueller’s team could believe Flynn has more information that is useful to the investigation, or that sentencing hearings might reveal parts of the investigation that Mueller would like to keep under wraps...
#100--for those so inclined there are a lot of threads that one could keep track of. A lot of names as well. I know that Avenatti is very keen to get both Cohen and Trump on the witness stand in the Daniels civil suit.
The Trump administration is going to need a lot of legal help and they don't seem to be well prepared or organized and they don't seem to have enough lawyers and are having trouble finding lawyers willing to fight with and for them. Well.....there seems to be the fear of getting sucked into the maelstrom and the real potential of getting stuck with an obstruction charge at this point for those willing to join with them. One issue is the continuing changing of the goal posts--all the contradictory statements from Trump and Giuliani---all the unforced admissions that they try to take back and then just as often reclaim.
I'd also note that the Govt. has given another big wheel at the National Enquirer Dylan Howard immunity.
I guess Duncan Hunter missed class the day it was explained how slush money works.
His fellow California Congressman, Devin Nunes, paid attention. You don’t use your own campaign funds, dummy! You establish a leadership PAC. Those moneys are less regulated, and it’s legal to use them on Celtics tickets, trips to Las Vegas, limos, high end dining, etc.
The Fresno Bee summarizes:
The McClatchy Report poses the question Why is Nunes fundraising in Boston?
Trump blasts Sessions over charges against GOP congressmen ahead of midterms
QUINT FORGEY | 09/03/2018
.."Two long running, Obama era, investigations of two very popular Republican Congressmen were brought to a well publicized charge, just ahead of the Mid-Terms, by the Jeff Sessions Justice Department," the president wrote on Twitter. "Two easy wins now in doubt because there is not enough time. Good job Jeff."
...According to a March 2012 Justice Department memorandum from then-Attorney General Eric Holder: "Law enforcement officers and prosecutors may never select the timing of investigative steps or criminal charges for the purpose of affecting any election, or for the purpose of giving an advantage or disadvantage to any candidate or political party."
Rep. Chris Collins of New York and Rep. Duncan Hunter of California — the first two lawmakers to endorse the president's 2016 bid for the White House — were indicted last month. Both were in the middle of reelection campaigns in districts that are now considered competitive in a season where Republicans were already playing defense...
Don’t be so sure Mueller will back off before midterms
Randall D. Eliason | August 31, 2018
...There is indeed a Justice Department policy against taking significant prosecutorial actions in the weeks leading up to an election if those actions might influence the election’s outcome. But this is not a formal rule written down anywhere , nor has it been mandated by a court or by Congress. It’s variously referred to as a “norm,” “tradition” or “custom” within the department. And there’s not always agreement about what exactly the policy means or when it should apply.
...The president is not on the ballot, nor are any of the other people who could potentially be in Mueller’s crosshairs.
...Short of indicting the president himself, it’s hard to imagine much Mueller could do that would dramatically alter the current picture.
...Paul Manafort’s second trial begins in a few weeks and could carry over into October.
...concerns about Justice Department action should be most pronounced...if a prosecutor from one party could appear to be trying to take down a politician from the other. But...Mueller is a Republican
...Mueller...is in something of a no-win situation. Either course — taking new action or holding back and depriving the electorate of additional information — may be criticized by partisans as potentially affecting the election...he may conclude the wisest course is simply to lay low (no PUBLIC actions) for the next two months to avoid giving the president’s team additional ammunition. But if he does, it will be because he chooses to, not because it is required — and in the end all it means is a slight delay. Come Nov. 7, all bets are off.
About That 60-Day Rule...
Quinta Jurecic | September 3, 2018, 12:06 PM
...not only is Giuliani incorrect in stating that Mueller has some obligation to wrap up all or part of his investigation before Sept. 7—the policy he’s describing as a matter of wishful thinking is actually one that the Justice Department considered and rejected.
...(see website for 3p "Dept policies and practices governing investigative practices in advance of an election") the relevant section of the inspector general report...
And another Republican is hiding from reporters.
Virginia Congressman, Scott W. Taylor.
A Republican congressman helped a rival collect signatures to get on the ballot. Some of those signatures were fake.
Shaun Brown, an Independent, ran as a Democrat against Taylor in 2016, losing by 22 points. Since then, she’s been the subject of a federal fraud investigation and didn’t receive support from any party to run again. Taylor and his team came to the rescue, gathering 600 signatures for their would-be opponent Brown to meet the 1,000 needed to get her on the ballot.
Maltese professor with Russian & Papadopolous connections--may.be.dead...
DNC: Papadopoulos's UK contact may be dead
John Bowden | 09/07/18
DNC lawyers wrote in court filings Friday (in their lawsuit against Russia, the Trump campaign and WikiLeaks for interfering in the 2016 presidential election) that Joseph Mifsud, who spoke to Papadopoulos during the 2016 presidential election, "is missing and may be deceased,"
...an investigator had been used to find Mifsud, who had disappeared for months, and was told the Maltese professor may be dead.
“The DNC's counsel has attempted to serve Mifsud for months..."
Mifsud was reportedly teaching at a private university in Rome before he vanished late last year, shortly after his name emerged as a key figure in the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
The professor had reportedly not been in contact with prosecutors in Italy seeking to question him over allegations of financial wrongdoing and his fiancé told Business Insider earlier this year that she could not reach him.
...Mifsud was reportedly known to have high-level contacts in the Russian government, including with Sergei Lavrov, Russia's current foreign minister...
WHAT $28 million??
Trump calls Papadopoulos’ sentence ‘a great day for America’
Geobeats | Sep 8th 2018
...The president tweeted Friday: “14 days for $28 MILLION – $2 MILLION a day, No Collusion. A great day for America!”
The source of the dollar figure mentioned in Trump’s tweet is unclear...
Trump seeks to move past Stormy Daniels lawsuit, says 2016 deal was never valid
MJ Lee, Sara Sidner and Eli Watkins | September 8, 2018
...(Also) Cohen, in his filing on Friday, sought to erase the agreement and requested that Daniels return the $130,000 payment he has said he facilitated.
Avenatti told CNN on Friday after Cohen's filing that Cohen was "playing a game in an attempt to avoid his deposition and that of Mr. Trump."...
Will Donald Trump's hotel lose its liquor license over his bad character?
DC law that requires 'good character' to get a liquor license. Could Trump International Hotel pay the price?
The complaint to the (Washington DC) ABCB was filed in June and amended three times as more examples of Trump’s character deficiencies, including revelations accompanying Michael Cohen’s guilty plea, came to light.
This is no quixotic joust. The complaint was filed by respected lawyers on behalf of five local religious leaders and two retired judges.
The complaint argues that Trump is a “nonstop, habitual and compulsive liar,” that he has “not removed himself from his businesses as promised” after he was elected, that he maintains “conflicts of interest,” that “at least 16 women have alleged that Donald Trump sexually assaulted them,” that he paid $25 million to settle claims of fraud against Trump University, that he made “outright racist statements
Trump fundraiser at Trump Hotel charges $100k per person
Yes, that's one hundred thousand dollars. A bit rarified. Hope the food is good!
"Trump has long attracted scrutiny for hosting campaign events at his own properties, including Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C.
His re-election campaign in 2018 has spent around $1 million at Trump-owned properties, including $113,000 at his hotel in Washington, the Journal reported."
Manafort: 76 pages of criminal information.
(Forfeitures of property commence p 36)
Document: Superseding Criminal Information Against Paul Manafort
Quinta Jurecic | September 14, 2018, 9:32 AM
The special counsel's office has filed a superseding criminal information in the case against Paul Manafort. The document is available here and below...
I am going to refrain from commenting on this until I see whatever plea agreement, stipulation of fact, and other material gets released today. Anyone who is commenting before that is probably getting ahead of the game.
Benjamin Wittes @benjaminwittes
6:38 AM - 14 Sep 2018
Manafort will cooperate with Mueller as part of guilty plea, prosecutor says
Spencer S. Hsu and Devlin Barrett | September 14, 2018
...The decision by Manafort to provide evidence in exchange for leniency on sentencing is a stunning development in the long-running probe into whether any Trump associates may have conspired with Russia to influence the 2016 election.
...White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders issued a brief statement following the announcement. “This had absolutely nothing to do with the President or his victorious 2016 Presidential campaign,” she said. “It is totally unrelated.”
The president’s lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, said “once again an investigation has concluded with a plea having nothing to do with President Trump or the Trump campaign. The reason: the president did nothing wrong.”
A criminal information — a legal document filed by prosecutors to detail the criminal conduct to be admitted by the defendant — was filed in advance of the plea. The document shows Manafort intends to plead guilty to two crimes of the seven he faced at trial: conspiring to defraud the United States and conspiring to obstruct justice.
The document indicates he will admit to funneling millions of dollars in payments into offshore accounts to conceal his income from the Internal Revenue Service. “Manafort cheated the United States out of over $15 million in taxes,” the document states.
The filing also offers new details about the various ways in which Manafort sought to surreptitiously lobby the U.S. government and influence American public opinion toward Ukraine.
...As part of his deal, the government plans to seize four properties, including a nearly $2 million house in Arlington, Virginia, owned by one of Manafort’s daughters. The deal also calls for forfeiture of four financial accounts and a life insurance policy.
...Manafort’s cooperation with Mueller could provide investigators new evidence or leads to chase; a guilty plea, however, would prevent weeks’ worth of headlines about the trial in the month before congressional elections.
...It is unclear how a guilty plea might alter his ultimate sentence, and some lawyers have questioned whether he is focused on winning a reprieve elsewhere. Law enforcement officials have come to suspect that Manafort hopes he will be pardoned by the president, according to people familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive issue.
Trump has sought advice from his attorneys on the possibility of pardoning Manafort and other aides accused of crimes, his attorney Rudolph W. Giuliani previously told The Washington Post, and was counseled against pardoning anyone involved in the ongoing Mueller probe. The president agreed to wait at least until the investigation concludes, Giuliani has said...
Urging public release of Watergate report sent to Congress, a precedent and road map for Muller are:
Benjamin Wittes, a Brookings Institution senior fellow and the editor in chief of Lawfare;
Jack Goldsmith, a Harvard Law School professor and senior Justice Department official in the George W. Bush administration; and
Stephen Bates, a University of Nevada, Las Vegas, law professor who, as a federal prosecutor working for Ken Starr, the independent counsel who investigated President Bill Clinton, co-wrote the report to Congress recommending that Mr. Clinton be impeached .
Legal Experts Urge Release of Watergate Report to Offer Mueller a Road Map
Charlie Savage | Sept. 14, 2018
...the petition asks a judge to unseal a report that Leon Jaworski, the Watergate prosecutor, used to send Congress the evidence he had gathered about President Richard M. Nixon’s misconduct. Known as the “Road Map,” it was a 55-page index describing evidence and citing underlying testimony and tapes, but without any legal analysis or recommendations about whether Mr. Nixon committed an impeachable offense. While the Judiciary Committee had access to the Road Map, it has remained sealed from public view.
“This petition presents an extraordinarily compelling interest in disclosure arrayed against a vanishingly small countervailing interest,” the court filing said, noting that the Watergate players are mostly dead and that much of the evidence is already public. It added: “Not only does the Road Map carry immense historical significance in understanding the Watergate investigation, it provides a key precedent for assessing the appropriate framework for Special Counsel Mueller to report to Congress any findings of potentially unlawful conduct by President Trump.”...
So, in interest of "transparency", we can expect to see Trump's tax returns tomorrow? (PLEASE, Mr. Mueller!)
'Off the charts': National security experts sound the alarm after Trump moves to selectively declassify the Carter Page FISA application
Sonam Sheth | Sept 17, 2018
President Donald Trump's decision to declassify select portions of a FISA application targeting the former Trump campaign aide Carter Page alarmed legal and national security experts.
Trump called for the immediate declassification of certain portions of the Page FISA application, some of which appear to include information about confidential sources and methods.
"The release of FISAs like this is off the charts," wrote one former Justice Department official.
Another former federal prosecutor from the Southern District of New York called Trump's decision an "incredibly dangerous move that sets a really troubling precedent."
...The FISA process is arguably one of the most sensitive and secretive methods that the US government uses when it comes to gathering foreign intelligence.
The application process that goes into obtaining a FISA warrant targeting a US person involves multiple levels of authorization from senior FBI and DOJ officials, as well as permission from a FISA court judge.
The FBI's surveillance of Page began in October 2016 and continued at least until the summer of 2017. (But Page had been on the FBI's radar as early as 2013 when FBI warned him that Russia was trying to recruit him as an agent. )
His monitoring was related to the FBI's ongoing investigation into Russia's interference in the 2016 election and whether members of the Trump campaign colluded with Moscow to tilt the race in his favor.
On Monday, Trump asked the DOJ and FBI to declassify pages 10 to 12 and 17 to 34 of the Page FISA application.
...Crucially...appear(s) to contain information about confidential sources that Steele used while compiling his dossier, as well as Steele's own history as an FBI source.
...Several top congressional Democrats...warned that the declassification and release of some materials Trump requested could endanger sources and methods.
..."The President has the literal authority to do this, but here, as in so many other areas, his exercise of authority is tainted by a severe conflict of interest, as he is a subject of investigation to which these FISAs pertain," (David Kris, the former assistant attorney general for national security and an expert on FISA) wrote..."This is perhaps the signal feature of many of his worst actions -- he seems assiduously to view and engage with everything through the straw-sized aperture of his own self-interest instead of the broader national interest."
...On Monday, (Trump) additionally called for the release, without redactions, of all text messages by...Comey, former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe, DOJ official Bruce Ohr, former FBI agent Peter Strzok, and FBI lawyer Lisa Page.
Trump tells Manafort 'just tell the truth' and won't rule out pardon, but Mueller has seems to have built in safeguards to discourage the Manafort from seeking or accepting a presidential pardon. To my ears, Mueller-critic Alan Dershowitz sounded much less combative on last Sunday's news programs:
Trump-proof aspects of Manafort deal rankle lawyers
JOSH GERSTEIN | 09/18/2018
...The 17-page deal doesn’t explicitly prohibit Manafort from seeking a pardon, but some lawyers said it appears to extract a promise from Manafort not to seek another form of executive clemency that could relieve him of the obligation to turn over property worth tens of millions of dollars to the government as part of the plea bargain. The agreement also says prosecutors can come after the five identified homes or apartments, three bank accounts and a life insurance policy now or at any point in the future "without regard to the status of his criminal conviction."
Another part of the deal says that if Manafort’s guilty pleas or convictions are wiped out for any reason, prosecutors immediately have the right to charge him with any other crimes he may have committed previously or confessed to during recent plea negotiations.
...a section barring Manafort from filing any "petition of remission" troubled some advocates because it appears to prohibit not just a request to the Justice Department but also directing such a request to the president.
...At the hearing Friday, (U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson)..."If for some reason this plea is set aside and these charges are brought in the future, you're waiving your right to say, well, it's too late to bring those charges against me?" she said. She did ask Manafort if he understood that he was forfeiting "a considerable amount of property." He said he did.
Legal experts said that, ultimately, if Trump wants to pardon Manafort, he can do so, but to make the pardon effective he might have to word it so broadly that it covers not only the things the former Trump campaign chair was charged with but things he wasn't.
...Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz said he believes the main safeguard in the plea deal against a Trump pardon is the fact that Manafort admitted to many state-law crimes that he could be charged with if the federal cases are wiped out.
Dershowitz, who has been sharply critical of the Mueller investigation, said he found "more objectionable" some provisions in the deal about forfeitures because they seem to obscure the connection to the criminal case. However, the Harvard professor called the prosecutors' stance in the Manafort deal aggressive but not a breach of any rules or standards...
>114 margd: contd (declassification of FISA documents)
Intervention successful, sounds like?
Trump walks back his plan to declassify Russia probe documents
Devlin Barrett | September 21, 2018
President Trump on Friday walked back his order earlier this week to declassify information in the ongoing probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election, saying Justice Department officials and others had persuaded him not to do so for the time being.
...In a pair of Friday morning tweets, Trump said: “I met with the DOJ concerning the declassification of various UNREDACTED documents. They agreed to release them but stated that so doing may have a perceived negative impact on the Russia probe. Also, key Allies’ called to ask not to release. Therefore, the Inspector General has been asked to review these documents on an expedited basis. I believe he will move quickly on this (and hopefully other things which he is looking at). In the end I can always declassify if it proves necessary. Speed is very important to me - and everyone!”...
If Trump was looking for reason to get rid of Rosenstein...
Rod Rosenstein Suggested Secretly Recording Trump and Discussed 25th Amendment
Adam Goldman and Michael S. Schmidt | Sept. 21, 2018
...Mr. Rosenstein made the remarks about secretly recording Mr. Trump and about the 25th Amendment in meetings and conversations with other Justice Department and F.B.I. officials. Several people described the episodes, insisting on anonymity to discuss internal deliberations. The people were briefed either on the events themselves or on memos written by F.B.I. officials, including Andrew G. McCabe, then the acting bureau director, that documented Mr. Rosenstein’s actions and comments.
None of Mr. Rosenstein’s proposals apparently came to fruition. It is not clear how determined he was about seeing them through, though he did tell Mr. McCabe that he might be able to persuade Attorney General Jeff Sessions and John F. Kelly, then the secretary of homeland security and now the White House chief of staff, to mount an effort to invoke the 25th Amendment.
The extreme suggestions show Mr. Rosenstein’s state of mind in the disorienting days that followed Mr. Comey’s dismissal. Sitting in on Mr. Trump’s interviews with prospective F.B.I. directors and facing attacks for his own role in Mr. Comey’s firing, Mr. Rosenstein had an up-close view of the tumult. Mr. Rosenstein appeared conflicted, regretful and emotional, according to people who spoke with him at the time.
Mr. Rosenstein disputed this account...
Quick Notes on the Rosenstein Revelations
Jack Goldsmith | Friday, September 21, 2018
...This story gives President Trump plenty of legitimate reasons to fire Rosenstein, including: (1) Rosenstein’s suggestion of recording Trump; (2) Rosenstein’s floating of the idea to decapitate Trump under the 25th Amendment; (3) Rosenstein’s plan to consult Comey about who should be appointed special counsel just days after Trump fired Comey; and (4) Rosenstein’s related acts of insubordination and disrespect. Trump now has cover should he wish to fire Rosenstein for his appointment and supervision of Robert Mueller. It will be interesting to see how Trump reacts. He could fire Rosenstein immediately. Or he could not fire him and instead use the story to continue to attack Rosenstein’s supervision of Mueller. (The current fight over the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court might significantly affect the President's calculus.)...
Former top White House official revises statement to special counsel about Flynn’s calls with Russian ambassador
Shane Harris and Devlin Barrett | September 22, 2018
...K.T. McFarland, who briefly served as Flynn’s deputy, has now said that he may have been referring to sanctions when they spoke in late December 2016 after Flynn’s calls with Russia’s ambassador to the United States...
When FBI agents first visited her at her Long Island home in the summer of 2017, McFarland denied ever talking to Flynn about any discussion of sanctions between him and the ambassador, Sergey Kislyak, in December 2016 during the presidential transition.
For a time, investigators saw her answers as “inconsistent,” putting her in legal peril as the FBI tried to determine if she had lied to them.
Mueller’s team is examining whether Flynn’s conversations with Kislyak are in any way related to Russia’s interference in the 2016 election...
>117 margd: There's back story on Rosenstein, I'm sure of it. Editor of Lawfare seems to suspect "revenge-by-Trump" (something like "suicide-by-cop"):
The key thing to understand here is that this is a fight between McCabe and Rosenstein.
Benjamin Wittes @benjaminwittes | 3:39 PM - 22 Sep 2018
McCabe is facing an investigation and possible prosecution for false statements on unrelated matters. Rosenstein is also partly responsible for his firing. Many people at DOJ and the FBI don’t like Rosenstein—for a lot of reasons.
Benjamin Wittes @benjaminwittes | 3:39 PM - 22 Sep 2018
BREAKING: Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has verbally resigned to Chief of Staff John Kelly in anticipation of being fired by President Trump, according to a source with direct knowledge.
Not yet confirmed....
12:34 While Rosenstein was expecting to be removed from his post Monday, his status had not changed following his meeting with Kelly, said the person, who is not authorized to comment publicly.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions told the White House last weekend that if President Donald Trump fires Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, Sessions himself may quit.
Twitter is more informative than the news outlets:
Rod Rosenstein, who has either resigned or not, or been fired or not, or is on the way to the White House to resign or be fired, or not, is apparently in a state of quantum (un)employment.
This may be the strangest day yet at the Trump White House. Rod Rosenstein was summoned to the WH to meet with John Kelly this morning. He expected to be fired. He wasn't. And now Rosenstein is attending a previously scheduled cabinet-level meeting (filling in for Sessions)
So now it may turn out that Rod Rosenstein won’t be fired at all and never offered to resign. What a fiasco in news reporting today. Who knows what is going on for something so criticaly important to our democracy and the rule of law.
BREAKING: ROD ROSENSTEIN HAS CALENDARS FROM SEPTEMBER 2018 THAT DO NOT LIST HIM RESIGNING.
Bluff called? Point Rosenstein?
White House now says POTUS will meet with Rosenstein Thursday when he returns to Washington from UNGA in New York.
I watched a clip with Andrew Napolitano today on youtube talking about Rosenstein as a potential obstruction of justice witness for Mueller as per Trump's firing of Comey. I don't think Napolitano thought that Trump firing Rosenstein was a good way for Trump to go.
Mike Pence, Star Witness
Murray Waas | September 25, 2018, 3:17 pm
Despite strong recommendations from Vice President Mike Pence, then-Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, and White House Counsel Don McGahn during a February 10, 2017, conversation that the president immediately fire his then-National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, Trump still refused to do, according to confidential White House records.
Earlier that day, Pence, Priebus, and McGahn had met in the Situation Room to read classified transcripts of Flynn’s conversations on sanctions with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. After reading those intercepts, the three men concluded that Flynn had lied to the American public, to the vice president, and perhaps even to the FBI. Pence, Priebus, and McGahn confronted Flynn before then recommending to Trump that Flynn be fired.
Trump would not undertake to do so—a refusal so inexplicable to the president’s men that they worried that he was protecting Flynn because he knew in advance of Flynn’s back-channel diplomacy with Russia, or had even authorized it, giving Flynn significant leverage over Trump, even the power to blackmail him, to keep his job.
Alarmed by Trump’s inaction on firing Flynn, two senior administration officials then arranged a leak to the press about Justice Department warnings to the White House concerning Flynn’s false statements in order to force the president’s hand.
...To date, Pence has played the part of deferential deputy to the president who, above all, demands loyalty from his subordinates. It is clear from this new account, though, that Pence interceded forcefully with the president about firing Flynn. There are few other people who know as much as Pence does about whether the president possibly broke the law. The president and his legal team have based their claim that Trump did not obstruct justice on the premise that Trump did not know that Flynn was under FBI investigation and did not know that Flynn had possibly lied to the FBI. Pence, according to the new information in this story, has some knowledge as to whether that is true. Pence also would have significant insight into the president’s frame of mind—his intent and motivation, the foundational building blocks of any obstruction case—when he allegedly pressured Comey to shut down his investigation of Flynn.
It is unclear whether what Pence might tell the special counsel is incriminating or exculpatory for the president, or some combination of the two. But the vice president is clearly the single most important witness to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into whether the president of the United States obstructed justice who has yet to be heard from.
>21 2wonderY: Rosenstein
Rosenstein appointed Special Counsel and apparently said something about recording President and invoking 25th, after he was implicated for Trump firing of popular FBI Director Comey. Dunno about recording him, but the other two actions are legal/constitutional, even. I can't imagine Trump won't make Rosenstein's life as unpleasant as possible before he finally fires him. As a Presidential appointee, Rosenstein serves at President's pleasure.
Congressional Democrats’ lawsuit alleging Trump’s private business is violating the Constitution can proceed, federal judge rules
Jonathan O'Connell , David A. Fahrenthold and Carol D. Leonnig | September 28 at 5:11 PM
A federal judge on Friday gave the go-ahead to a lawsuit filed by 200 congressional Democrats against President Trump alleging he has violated the Constitution by doing business with foreign governments while in office.
The lawsuit is based on the Constitution’s emoluments clause, which bars presidents from taking payments from foreign states. Trump’s business, which he still owns, has hosted foreign embassy events and visiting foreign officials at its downtown D.C. hotel.
The decision opens up yet another legal front for the president, who is now facing an array of inquiries into his business, his campaign and his charity.
Trump is already facing a separate emoluments suit filed by the attorneys general of Washington, D.C. and Maryland that is moving forward. In addition, he is contending with the ongoing special counsel investigation into Russian interference, a lawsuit from the New York Attorney General that alleged “persistently illegal conduct” at his charitable foundation and a defamation lawsuit brought by former “Apprentice” contestant Summer Zervos.
In his ruling, Judge Emmet G. Sullivan wrote that the members of Congress “appropriate seek relief in federal court” because they have no way to address their concern about Trump’s alleged violation of the emoluments clause with legislation.
“The Clause requires the President to ask Congress before accepting a prohibited foreign emolument,” Sullivan wrote. If the allegations made by Democrats are true, he said, then “the President is accepting prohibited foreign emoluments without asking and without receiving a favorable reply from Congress.”
By not asking Congress, Sullivan said, Trump could have effectively “nullified their votes” — which, he said, meant legislators could seek the unusual remedy of filing a lawsuit against the president...
Trump Engaged in Suspect Tax Schemes as He Reaped Riches From His Father
DAVID BARSTOW, SUSANNE CRAIG and RUSS BUETTNER | Oct. 2, 2018
The president has long sold himself as a self-made billionaire, but a Times investigation found that he received at least $413 million in today’s dollars from his father’s real estate empire, much of it through tax dodges in the 1990s.
President Trump participated in dubious tax schemes during the 1990s, including instances of outright fraud, that greatly increased the fortune he received from his parents, an investigation by The New York Times has found.
Mr. Trump won the presidency proclaiming himself a self-made billionaire, and he has long insisted that his father, the legendary New York City builder Fred C. Trump, provided almost no financial help.
But The Times’s investigation, based on a vast trove of confidential tax returns and financial records, reveals that Mr. Trump received the equivalent today of at least $413 million from his father’s real estate empire, starting when he was a toddler and continuing to this day.
Much of this money came to Mr. Trump because he helped his parents dodge taxes. He and his siblings set up a sham corporation to disguise millions of dollars in gifts from their parents, records and interviews show. Records indicate that Mr. Trump helped his father take improper tax deductions worth millions more. He also helped formulate a strategy to undervalue his parents’ real estate holdings by hundreds of millions of dollars on tax returns, sharply reducing the tax bill when those properties were transferred to him and his siblings.
These maneuvers met with little resistance from the Internal Revenue Service, The Times found. The president’s parents, Fred and Mary Trump, transferred well over $1 billion in wealth to their children, which could have produced a tax bill of at least $550 million under the 55 percent tax rate then imposed on gifts and inheritances.
The Trumps paid a total of $52.2 million, or about 5 percent, tax records show...
Statement from the NY State Taxation authority, regarding this blockbuster NYT story:
"The Tax Department is reviewing the allegations in the NYT article and is vigorously pursuing all appropriate avenues of investigation."
David Fahrenthold @Fahrenthold | 1:31 PM - 2 Oct 2018
Do you know how high the bar is for the NYT to directly accuse someone, let alone a sitting president, of tax fraud, which is a federal crime?
It's very, very high. And here we are:
Binyamin Appelbaum @BCAppelbaum | 12:23 PM - 2 Oct 2018
The NYT story on Trump finances stops in 2004. Does anybody imagine that Trump's tax practices improved thereafter? Who is in charge of investigating whether the president has been honestly paying his taxes within the past decade?
There's still no permanent IRS commissioner, and the acting commissioner is a Trump political appointees with a partisan background https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/commissioner-david-j-kautter-acting …
Trump tax compliance needs investigation by a special counsel with nonpartisan fraud expertise
David Frum @davidfrum | 8:31 AM - 7 Oct 2018
Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump | 6:21 PM - 6 Oct 2018 :
You don’t hand matches to an arsonist, and you don’t give power to an angry left-wing mob.
Democrats have become too EXTREME and TOO DANGEROUS to govern.
Republicans believe in the rule of law - not the rule of the mob.
David Frum @davidfrum | 6:59 PM - 6 Oct 2018 :
Not tax law, though. That's for the little people.
GOP Operative Secretly Raised at Least $100,000 in Search for Clinton Emails
Opposition researcher’s efforts are of intense interest to investigators probing Russian election interference
Byron Tau, Dustin Volz and Shelby Holliday | Oct. 7, 2018
WASHINGTON—A veteran Republican operative and opposition researcher solicited and raised at least $100,000 from donors as part of an effort to obtain what he believed to be e-mails stolen from Hilary Clinton...
(This money and $50K more went to a Russian scholarship fund!)
Was There a Connection Between a Russian Bank and the Trump Campaign?
Dexter Filkins | October 15, 2018 Issue
A team of computer scientists sifted through records of unusual Web traffic in search of answers.
...Examining records for the Trump domain, Max’s group discovered D.N.S. (Domain Name System) lookups from a pair of servers owned by Alfa Bank, one of the largest banks in Russia. Alfa Bank’s computers were looking up the address of the Trump server nearly every day. There were dozens of lookups on some days and far fewer on others, but the total number was notable: between May and September, Alfa Bank looked up the Trump Organization’s domain more than two thousand times.
...Only one other entity seemed to be reaching out to the Trump Organization’s domain with any frequency: Spectrum Health, of Grand Rapids, Michigan. Spectrum Health is closely linked to the DeVos family; Richard DeVos, Jr., is the chairman of the board, and one of its hospitals is named after his mother. His wife, Betsy DeVos, was appointed Secretary of Education by Donald Trump. Her brother, Erik Prince, is a Trump associate who has attracted the scrutiny of Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating Trump’s ties to Russia. Mueller has been looking into Prince’s meeting, following the election, with a Russian official in the Seychelles, at which he reportedly discussed setting up a back channel between Trump and the Russian President, Vladimir Putin. (Prince maintains that the meeting was “incidental.”)
...The D.N.S. records raised vexing questions. Why was the Trump Organization’s domain, set up to send mass-marketing e-mails, conducting such meagre activity? And why were computers at Alfa Bank and Spectrum Health trying to reach a server that didn’t seem to be doing anything? After analyzing the data, Max said, “We decided this was a covert communication channel.”
...One remarkable aspect of (Franklin) Foer’s (Slate) story involved the way that the Trump domain had stopped working. On September 21st, he wrote, the Times had delivered potential evidence of communications to B.G.R., a Washington lobbying firm that worked for Alfa Bank. Two days later, the Trump domain vanished from the Internet.
The Trump domain had been shut down after the Times contacted Alfa Bank’s representatives—but before the newspaper contacted Trump. “That shows a human interaction,” Max concluded. “Certain actions leave fingerprints.” He reasoned that someone representing Alfa Bank had alerted the Trump Organization, which shut down the domain, set up another one, and then informed Alfa Bank of the new address.
...In June, 2017, Trump nominated Brian Benczkowski, a lawyer who had overseen the Stroz Friedberg report for Alfa Bank (looking at Max's & NYT's data), to lead the criminal division of the Justice Department. At his confirmation hearing, Benczkowski said emphatically that Stroz Friedberg, like Mandiant, had rejected the possibility of complicity. The investigation, he said, found that “there was no communications link between the Trump Organization and Alfa Bank.”...
Pay to play...
Justin Elliott | October 10, 2018
Casino magnate Sheldon Adelson has never been more powerful. The Trump administration has advanced his ideological and financial interests, including an assist in his quest to build a casino in Japan.
...During a meeting at Mar-a-Lago that weekend (Feb 2017), Trump raised Adelson’s casino bid to (Japanese Prime Minister) Abe, according to two people briefed on the meeting. The Japanese side was surprised.
“It was totally brought up out of the blue,” according to one of the people briefed on the exchange. “They were a little incredulous that he would be so brazen.” After Trump told Abe he should strongly consider Las Vegas Sands for a license, “Abe didn’t really respond, and said thank you for the information,” this person said.
Trump also mentioned at least one other casino operator.
...The president raising a top donor’s personal business interests directly with a foreign head of state would violate longstanding norms. “That should be nowhere near the agenda of senior officials,” said Brian Harding, a Japan expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “U.S.-Japan relations is about the security of the Asia-Pacific, China and economic issues.”
...Not only has Trump touted Sands’ interests in Japan, but his administration also installed an executive from the casino industry in a top position in the U.S. embassy in Tokyo.
...Adelson’s...company’s casinos in Macau are vulnerable in Trump’s trade war with China, which controls the former Portuguese colony near Hong Kong. If the Chinese government chose to retaliate by targeting Macau...So far, there’s no evidence that has happened...
Accessory before/after the crime--or free speech? Will Justice Kavanaugh be called on to decide?
The Trump Campaign Says Exploiting Hacked Emails Is Free Speech
Natasha Bertrand | Oct 10, 2018
Lawyers for the campaign asserted in court papers a right to disclose “even stolen information.”
... lawsuit, filed last month by two donors and one former employee of the Democratic National Committee, alleges that the Trump campaign, along with former Trump adviser Roger Stone, worked with Russia and WikiLeaks to publish hacked DNC emails, thereby violating their privacy.
But the Trump campaign...responded in a brief filed Tuesday that the campaign can’t be held legally responsible for WikiLeaks’s publication of the DNC emails.
Furthermore, the Trump lawyers argued, the First Amendment protects the campaign’s “right to disclose information—even stolen information—so long as (1) the speaker did not participate in the theft and (2) the information deals with matters of public concern.”
The motion’s language seems to further an argument made by Trump and his allies as they await the findings of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into a potential conspiracy between the campaign and Russia in 2016: namely, that collusion, even if it involved the coordinated release and exploitation of a candidate’s emails during the presidential election, is not a crime.
...Experts fear that the continued use of hacked documents by campaigns only encourages cybercriminals to keep meddling in U.S. elections.
...In 2017, shortly after being named CIA director, Mike Pompeo—now the secretary of state—deemed WikiLeaks a “non-state hostile intelligence service” because it provided Russia with a platform to interfere in the election. The Trump campaign’s lawyers, however, went so far as to defend the so-called radical transparency organization in their brief. “Wikileaks cannot be held liable for the publication” of the hacked DNC emails because it was merely an intermediary, and not liable for the Russians’ hack-and-dump scheme, they wrote. “A conspiracy is an agreement to commit ‘an unlawful act.’ Since WikiLeaks’ posting of emails was not an unlawful act, an alleged agreement that it should publish those emails could not have been a conspiracy.”
Roger Stone aide hopes Kavanaugh will support his case against Mueller
Marshall Cohen and Sam Fossum | October 9, 2018
#128--On Adelson. Some years ago I was inundated with emails from a group determined to end on-line gambling. It was curious to me because 1. I don't gamble and 2. I don't give a shit whether other people gamble or not--so why were they bugging me?--and I really don't know but before I unsubscribed these fuckers one day I started searching who exactly was behind these emails and it turned out it was the casino magnate Adelson which seemed to me such a blatant bit of hypocrisy that I went more into depth looking for more on him and yeah he's an absolute asshole in just about everything he does. A complete creep and the day he kicks the bucket will probably be a good day for 99.9% of the population whether they know anything about this jerk or not. FWIW at 61 my days are numbered too but hopefully he goes before I do. Like I said that will be a good day.
Judge orders partial release of Watergate 'road map'
JOSH GERSTEIN | 10/11/2018
A federal judge has ordered the partial release of a (1974) Watergate report that fueled an impeachment drive against President Richard Nixon and could serve as a precedent for a similar effort aimed at President Donald Trump.
...included a bare-bones summary of evidence from various witnesses, as well as supporting documents contained in a bulging olive-colored briefcase that prosecutors gave Judge John Sirica. The information detailed what the grand jury discovered about the Watergate break-in and Nixon’s involvement in subsequent efforts to cover it up.
...The dispute over the Watergate-era records and the discussion about their relevance to the Mueller investigation come as ( D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals) is considering a broader question about whether judges have the authority to release historical grand jury materials. The Justice Department has argued they do not, but Lamberth, Howell and other courts across the country have ruled that judges have that power.
...A ruling for the government in that case could limit Mueller’s ability to send Congress a report about Trump’s actions, but it’s possible a formal request from a congressional committee could overcome that hurdle. Such a request is unlikely at the moment, but if Democrats take control of the House in the upcoming midterm elections, a request for Mueller’s grand jury evidence could be forthcoming.
"We don't pay taxes; only the little people pay taxes."
Trump Will Likely Benefit from a Massive New Loophole in the Tax Bill
Laura Beckerman | October 11, 2018
...a newly discovered loophole shows Trump could benefit even more than previously known–one that could make some of his foreign income functionally tax-free...
One of the giveaways to millionaires and billionaires in the Trump tax bill allows shareholders in Subchapter S corporations, also known as “pass-throughs” (because the income passes through the corporation to the shareholder’s income tax return, instead of being taxed separately at the corporate level) to only pay tax on 80% of that income. Not only is this a giveaway to the wealthiest among us, but it will also likely benefit President Trump enormously, as the many entities that fall under the umbrella of The Trump Organization are likely pass-through corporations.
But, another lucrative loophole, one designed precisely for businesses that are organized as pass-throughs and make money abroad, has largely escaped notice. President Trump has numerous foreign-based entities, such as DJ Aerospace Limited incorporated in Bermuda, Turnberry Scotland LLC incorporated in Turnberry, Scotland, TIGL Ireland Enterprises Limited incorporated in Doonbeg, Ireland, and THC Barra Hotelaria TLDA incorporated in Brazil, are likely pass-throughs, which means that this loophole will almost certainly directly benefit him.
This new loophole allows shareholders of pass-through entities to pay zero tax indefinitely on their foreign income. This is even more generous than the terms afforded to Subchapter C Corporations, the corporate form commonly used by publicly traded companies, whose income is taxed at the corporate level. Under the new tax bill, C Corporations receive a not-too-stingy eight years to spread out the tax liability for foreign income. Rather than spreading out payment of income tax over eight years, Shareholders of S Corporations pay not a penny in tax on unlimited amounts of foreign income until an indefinite point in the future when the S Corporation dissolves, the S Corporation liquidates substantially all of its assets, or until the shareholder decides to transfer the shares or dies. See 26 U.S.C. 965(i)(1)-(2).
Even the death of the shareholder, however, may not trigger payment of tax. The law allows heirs of Subchapter S corporations stockholders to step into the shoes of the taxpayer and continue to defer the tax indefinitely. See 26 U.S.C. 965(i)(2)(C). Furthermore, it is not clear whether the IRS can even assess the tax to the shareholder until the S Corporation dissolves, liquidates its assets, or the shares are transferred.
At best, this constitutes an indefinite, interest-free loan to people with foreign income from S Corporations. At worst, this constitutes a complete giveaway. Because the IRS cannot collect tax until far in the future, there is no legal mechanism to stop the shareholder from depleting their assets before the tax bill becomes due. And, even if the shareholder still has funds, other creditors may have a superior claim to those funds than the taxing authorities do. Even under the best of circumstances, the passage of time makes it difficult to collect debts.
...release...Trump’s tax returns. Without that information, we cannot know whether, when Trump promotes a bill, he is doing so because he believes it to be in the national interest or because it will provide him with immense private benefit.
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