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Scandal Watch VII

This is a continuation of the topic Scandal Watch VI.

Pro and Con

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Nov 3, 2018, 9:30am Top

The fix is in?

CREW Discovers Previously Undisclosed Ethics Waiver for Solicitor General Noel Francisco
CREW Staff | November 2, 2018

...If Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein either resigns or is fired, someone else will have to oversee the Special Counsel investigation. Next in line appears to be Solicitor General Noel Francisco. The problem is that Mr. Francisco has ties to the pending investigation that should preclude his participation.

...his former law firm, Jones Day, represents the Trump Presidential Campaign in the Special Counsel investigation.

...Mr. Francisco has a continuing financial relationship with Jones Day, which owes him more than half a million dollars.

...he previously appeared before the Justice Department as a member of a “Landing Team” on behalf of the Presidential Transition Team.

The first of the three obstacles Mr. Francisco faces – his former employment relationship with Jones Day – raises an issue under the Trump ethics Executive Order. As required by that Executive Order, Mr. Francisco signed an ethics pledge in which he promised that, for two years after joining the government, he would not participate in any investigation in which Jones Day represents a client. That promise means he must stay out of the Special Counsel investigation until at least late January 2019.

However, CREW has discovered that the Trump administration issued Mr. Francisco an ethics waiver on April 24, 2018. The waiver relieves him from any obligation to honor his ethics pledge to recuse from investigations involving Jones Day. The waiver states only that he is relieved of this obligation and offers no justification whatsoever. It simply waives the obligation, thereby eliminating one of the three obstacles to his overseeing the Special Counsel investigation.

...the Office of Government Ethics maintains an online list of all ethics pledge waivers issued by the Trump administration to political appointees serving outside the White House. Notably absent from this list is Mr. Francisco’s waiver.

...the signature on Mr. Francisco’s waiver appears to match the signature of former Counsel to the President, Donald McGahn II, that appears on other waivers. Mr. McGahn’s involvement is troubling because he, too, comes from Jones Day...Mr. McGahn...authorize(d)...to participate in meetings and communications with Jones Day...not...to take other substantive legal actions like issuing a waiver to Mr. Francisco.

...The Department of Justice issued him an ethics waiver on February 7, 2017, while he was serving in a temporary position, that suspended the criminal conflict of interest statute and allowed him to participate in a case from which he would have otherwise had to recuse. That waiver is unusual in that it does not state that the Justice Department ever consulted with the Office of Government Ethics before issuing the waiver.

Notwithstanding these waivers, of course, Mr. Francisco should still recuse from the Special Counsel investigation if Mr. Rosenstein resigns or is fired. There is still the matter of the half a million dollars Jones Day owes him, and there’s his own involvement in the Trump campaign’s landing team to consider.


Nov 3, 2018, 12:23pm Top

Trump really wants to play Kavanaugh card, bypassing lower courts? (Denied.)

Judge denies Trump’s request for stay in emoluments case
Jonathan O'Connell and David A. Fahrenthold | November 2 at 9:36 PM

...U.S. District Judge Peter J. Messitte in Greenbelt, Md., denied the Justice Department’s request that he pause the case to allow a higher court to intervene. And Messitte sharply questioned the president’s position that his business does not improperly accept gifts or payments — called emoluments — as defined by the Constitution.

By Trump’s analysis, Messitte wrote, the term emoluments is the subject of such “substantial grounds of disagreement” that payments his business received from foreign governments could not qualify. The judge did not agree: “The Court finds this a dubious proposition.”

...In his 31-page opinion, Messitte rejected Trump’s argument that this case should be halted so it could be appealed midstream — a request typically granted in extraordinary circumstances, where an unresolved legal question makes it hard to go on.

Justice Department attorneys argued that the lawsuit should ultimately be dismissed because it was a burden for Trump, distracting from his duties as a sitting president. The department issued a statement signaling it would appeal again...


Edited: Nov 5, 2018, 8:31am Top

Hidden Motives behind Key GOP Leaders’ Cooperation with Trump & Russia:
An Evidence-based Examination of Irrational Behaviors & the Republican Congress Members Who Exhibit Them
Richard Painter & Leanne Watt | Nov 4, 2018

...the Republican members of Congress are behaving irrationally and counter to their conservative values relates to the GOP leaders’ refusal to impeach the president, even though Vice President Pence would be Trump’s inevitable successor...The knowledge that Robert Mueller’s investigation is moving in on Trump, his family, and his inner circle should embolden GOP leaders to avoid any association with Trump.

...House Intelligence Committee (HIC) Chairmen, Devin Nunes...Lindsey Graham...Senator Graham’s emails were stolen by the Russians...House Speaker Paul Ryan, House Majority Leader (and close Trump ally) Kevin McCarthy, and House Majority Whip, Steve Scalise...Senate Leader Mitch McConnell...

...Putin funneled millions of dollars through his oligarchs into the Republican Party during the 2015–2016 election cycle...between 2015 and 2017, McConnell’s super-PAC received a total of $3.5 million dollars from Len Blavatnik, a Russian-American oligarch with close ties to Putin and the Kremlin. (Blavatnik came to the U.S. in the late 70s, gained his citizenship, and returned to a crumbling USSR in the 1980s.) Blavatnik also gave millions in donations to Lindsey Graham and Marco Rubio’s PACS...307 of the 535 current members of Congress have benefited from direct contributions or advertising support from the NRA. Even more striking — the NRA’s donations to Republicans in Congress during the 2016 election cycle increased by $100 million...Alexander Torshin, a Russian banker...

...it has been established by the FBI that the Russians successfully hacked the RNC’s emails, possibly exposing weaknesses within the Republican leadership. In fact, it appears that the Russians now possess approximately ten years’ worth of GOP emails, through 2015...

...Russian intelligence officers are highly skilled at exploiting people’s weaknesses with the goal of securing their cooperation...MICE: Money, Ideology, Coercion, Ego.

...“potential scandals” during the ten-year email period... (include three documented examples under House Speaker Dennis Hastert)...It is possible that some of the hacked Republican emails include discussions between current Congress members and Hastert regarding these cover-ups, as well as the blackmail game Hastert was playing with Republican leaders who may have been guilty of other related crimes or at least, embarrassing behavior...It would be extremely naïve to assume that hiding compromised behavior and playing the leverage game with fellow Congress members is limited to the period when Hastert was in office or to just his scandals. It is also rational to, at least, consider the possibility that Putin may have accessed some of these “buried bodies” through the RNC emails and that he could be using this material to threaten certain members of Congress today.

...Not only did (Putin) defeat the Democrats during the 2016 election, but he may be currently threatening the “winners” of the election, attempting to elicit their voluntary or involuntary cooperation. (This arrangement for some Republican leaders may be explicit, but for others implicit, like the unspoken understanding some people have with violent gangs that control their neighborhood — to stay away from certain places at certain time, to look the other way and never talk to the police.) And while Putin has achieved the ultimate Soviet goal of controlling an American president — a “useful idiot” — he may also have achieved something far more dangerous: If key Republican Congress members are hiding their Kremlin-linked finances or are being threatened for some other reason, making it difficult to fulfill their Constitutional duty to provide oversight of the executive branch, then Putin has made a mockery of the democratic system we cherish and has set us on a collision course with authoritarianism.


Nov 5, 2018, 11:17am Top

That’s a theory I’ve considered; but I’m waiting for the evidence.

Nov 5, 2018, 1:29pm Top

Some interesting anecdotes in that article. e.g.,

...just a month before Trump clinched the Republican nomination, (House Majority Leader (and close Trump ally) Kevin McCarthy) was caught on tape talking with a small group of Republican leaders, including (House Speaker Paul Ryan), while making an explosive revelation: “There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump.” Ryan quickly stepped in, warning his colleagues to keep this conversation secret: “This is an off the record… No leaks!” Ryan repeated his warning: “This is how we know we’re a real family here.” Steve Scalise added to the warning: “That’s how you know that we’re tight.” Ryan capped the conversation off with a Vegas-style call for secrecy asserting that “what’s said in the family stays in the family.” While we do not know the specifics of what these three men knew before the election, it is clear that they believed that Trump was being paid by Putin.

If Russian blackmail/money IS responsible for Republican irrational behavior, how could Republican party ever rehabilitate itself??

Edited: Nov 5, 2018, 5:00pm Top

One of Ivanka's new Chinese trademarks is for VOTING MACHINES!
(You can't make this stuff up.)

Ivanka Trump’s Business Wins Approval for 16 New Chinese Trademarks Despite Shutting Down
Caroline Zhang | November 5, 2018

Presidential adviser Ivanka Trump’s fashion brand won first trial approval for 16 new trademarks from the Chinese government in October. These approvals come about three months after Ivanka announced that her brand was shutting down (July 2018), and mark the largest number of new Chinese trademarks she has received in a single month since President Donald Trump took office.

...Despite shutting down, Ivanka Trump’s brand will continue to seek new trademarks, according to public reports. This leaves open the possibility that she could resume her business after leaving her role in the White House. She retains ownership over all of her existing trademarks, and many of her trademarks will remain active as late as 2028.

The newest Chinese trademarks cover fashion items including handbags, shoes, wedding dresses, and jewelry. (Ivanka’s business has previously relied on a Chinese manufacturer to supply handbags, shoes, and clothing.) The trademarks also cover items including nursing homes, sausage casing, and voting machines. Ivanka’s business applied for these trademarks in 2016...


Edited: Nov 5, 2018, 7:06pm Top

This from Fox News--Shep Smith and Andrew Napolitano on what a Democratic House will do with the subpoena powers they'll have if they win control of that branch of congress.


Edited: Nov 7, 2018, 5:16pm Top

CNN: This article was originally published on August 6, 2017. On November 7, 2018, President Donald Trump announced that he was naming Matthew Whitaker as acting attorney general.

Mueller's investigation of Trump is going too far
Matthew Whitaker | Originally published on August 6, 2017. November 7, 2018

Story highlights

Matthew Whitaker: The finances of Trump or his family are beyond Mueller's purview
If Rod Rosenstein doesn't rein in probe it will look like a political fishing expedition

Last month, when President Donald Trump was asked by The New York Times if special counsel Robert Mueller would be crossing a line if he started investigating the finances of Trump and his family, the President said, "I think that's a violation. Look, this is about Russia."

The President is absolutely correct. Mueller has come up to a red line in the Russia 2016 election-meddling investigation that he is dangerously close to crossing...

...It is time for Rosenstein, who is the acting attorney general for the purposes of this investigation, to order Mueller to limit the scope of his investigation to the four corners of the order appointing him special counsel.

If he doesn't, then Mueller's investigation will eventually start to look like a political fishing expedition. This would not only be out of character for a respected figure like Mueller, but also could be damaging to the President of the United States and his family -- and by extension, to the country.


Trump's Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, who has criticized the Mueller probe, will now oversee it
Kevin Breuninge | 11/7/2018

President Donald Trump's acting attorney general, Matthew Whitaker, will oversee special counsel Robert Mueller's probe of Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election.

"The Acting Attorney General is in charge of all matters under the purview of the Department of Justice," a spokesperson for the department says when asked if Whitaker would oversee Mueller's investigation.

Trump announced in a pair of tweets minutes earlier on Wednesday that Attorney General Jeff Sessions would be replaced by Whitaker, who was Sessions' chief of staff at the Justice Department. Sessions had resigned at Trump's "request," according to his resignation letter...



Trump’s Attack on Accountability
David Frum | 11/7/2018

Voters elected a Democratic House to impose a check on the president. In response, he forced out his attorney general, in a frontal assault on efforts to hold him accountable.

...the president...move toward constitutional and political disorder likely to destabilize the whole economy, jobs and all.

In the first minutes after the coerced resignation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Wednesday, the...new acting attorney general, Matthew Whitaker, has seized control of the Mueller investigation from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein...

Voters cast their ballots for a Democratic House to impose accountability on the president. His own first thought, instead, was to elude the little accountability previously imposed upon him—and it seems that in Whitaker, Trump has found the character willing to help.

...the president...a walking constitutional crisis...emboldened by extra Senate seats

...a special counsel delivers his report to the attorney general, not to Congress. Whitaker may try to stifle it. Whitaker may try to impede further indictments, especially if the president’s eldest son or others close to him face legal jeopardy...

Democrats may have wished to do bread-and-butter first, ethics and Constitution later. This most unethical and anti-Constitutional president has other ideas—and he still sets the agenda for the nation and the Congress.




Not only do we have lame duck Senate and house right now, but they aren't in session again until

Senate: Friday, Nov 9 9am pro forma session. https://www.senate.gov/legislative/calendars.htm

House: In session Nov 13-16 and 27-30. https://www.house.gov/legislative-activity




Wikipedia: a recess appointment is an appointment by the President of a federal official when the U.S. Senate is in recess. Under the U.S. Constitution's Appointments Clause, the president is empowered to nominate, and with the advice and consent (confirmation) of the United States Senate, make appointments to high-level policy-making positions in federal departments, agencies, boards, and commissions. A recess appointment under Article II, Section 2, Clause 3 of the Constitution is an alternative method of appointing officials that allows the filling of vacancies to maintain the continuity of administrative government through the temporary filling of offices during periods when the Senate is not in session.

On occasion, and controversially, this power has also been used by presidents to temporarily install an unpopular nominee by sidestepping the Senate's role in the confirmation process,1 and the Senate has taken measures from time to time to prevent a President making recess appointments.

A recess appointment must be confirmed by the Senate by the end of the next session of Congress, or the appointment expires. In current practice this means that a recess appointment must be approved by roughly the end of the next calendar year, and thus could last for almost two years...


Edited: Nov 7, 2018, 5:23pm Top

Of course I googled Matthew Whitaker.

I found this 2014 article. He must have been considering a run for Senate.

Matthew Whitaker's troubling opinion: Judges need a biblical view

and this one, just posted:

All the times Robert Mueller’s new boss railed against the Russia probe

Edited: Nov 7, 2018, 5:58pm Top

(Senator) Richard Blumenthal (CT-D) @SenBlumenthal (https://twitter.com/SenBlumenthal) | 1:10 PM - 7 Nov 2018

This is a break the glass moment.
Replacing the Attorney General with a non-Senate-confirmed political staffer is highly irregular & unacceptable.
Protecting the Special Counsel investigation is more urgent than ever.

My Republican colleagues must rise to the challenge & show political backbone by demanding that Mr. Whitaker recuse himself from oversight of the Special Counsel’s investigation.

I will be introducing legislation to ensure that Congress & the American people see the results of Special Counsel Mueller’s work. I implore my colleagues of both parties to unite behind efforts to ensure that the Special Counsel can continue this work without interference.

Any attempt to limit the Special Counsel’s resources or the scope of his investigation is unacceptable. The world, & history, are watching.


Ryan Struyk @ryanstruyk | 12:09 PM - 7 Nov 2018:

Matthew Whitaker on CNN, July 26, 2017: "I could see a scenario where Jeff Sessions is replaced, it would recess appointment and that attorney general doesn't fire Bob Mueller but he just reduces his budget to so low that his investigations grinds to almost a halt."


Mitt Romney: I want to thank Jeff Sessions for his service to our country as Attorney General. Under Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, it is imperative that the important work of the Justice Department continues, and that the Mueller investigation proceeds to its conclusion unimpeded.

Jeff Flake: Earlier this year, we passed S.2644, the Special Counsel Independence and Integrity Act, out of the Senate Judiciary Committee. The bill would safeguard Robert Mueller’s investigation. Leader McConnell should bring the bill to the Senate floor as soon as possible

Sen. Susan Collins: It is imperative that the Administration not impede the Mueller investigation. I’m concerned Rod Rosenstein will no longer be overseeing the probe. Special Counsel Mueller must be allowed to complete his work without interference—regardless of who is AG.

Chuck Schumer: Given his previous comments advocating defunding and imposing limitations on the Mueller investigation, Mr. Whitaker should recuse himself from its oversight for the duration of his time as acting attorney general.

Ryan Struyk: While the President may have the authority to replace the Attorney General, this must not be the first step in an attempt to impede, obstruct or end the Mueller investigation.

(margd: Lindsay Graham have anything to say?)

Nov 7, 2018, 6:04pm Top

Trump's Acting Attorney General Was Part of Miami-Based Invention Scam Company
Brittany Shammas | November 7, 2018

...involved in a Miami-based invention-marketing company the Federal Trade Commission shut down last year after calling it a scam.

Whitaker not only sat on the board of World Patent Marketing but also sent a threatening email to a former customer who had complained after he spent thousands of dollars and did not receive the promised services. Court records obtained by New Times for a 2017 feature about the fraudulent company show that in one email to a disgruntled customer, Whitaker touted his background as a former federal attorney and declared that filing a complaint with the Better Business Bureau and "smearing" the company online could result in "serious civil and criminal consequences."

...World Patent Marketing collected millions of dollars by promising starry-eyed inventors it would turn their inventions into best sellers. Company reps claimed invention ideas were reviewed by an illustrious board that included big names such as Whitaker, Republican Congressman Brian Mast, and time-travel scientist Ronald Mallett.

In reality, the board simply took cash without ever meeting with inventors or reviewing any pitches. Some of the supposed innovations the company green-lit already existed, so patent applications were regularly denied. And despite the many supposed success stories listed on its website, virtually none of the firm's clients ever made money. Once customers paid, World Patent Marketing provided little of what was promised. And when customers complained or declared they would write negative reviews, Cooper unleashed wild threats. Some of them came from Whitaker. In one provided to New Times, he accused an investor of "possible blackmail or extortion" and threatened "serious civil or criminal consequences."

The feds alleged thousands of would-be inventors were ripped off in the scheme. They lost as much as $400,000 apiece.

After losing a 2014 Senate bid and leaving World Patent Marketing, Whitaker was named Sessions’ chief of staff in September 2017...


Nov 7, 2018, 6:10pm Top

Just before Jr’s “I love it” emailed leaked:

Legal issues of Trump Jr.'s Russia meeting (8:41)
CNN | 2017/07/13

Law School professor Jennifer Taub and fmr. US attorney Matthew Whitaker debate the legal implications of Donald Trump Jr.'s meeting with a Russian lawyer


Nov 7, 2018, 8:23pm Top

Do Republicans really not care about following laws themselves? Sure seems to be a rash of indictments and convictions.

Be warned Chris Collins and especially Duncan Hunter:


Edited: Nov 7, 2018, 8:59pm Top

#13--Insider trading is almost always a slam dunk prosecution. A portion of Collin's crime was caught on camera and has even run on the various 24-7 news channels. I don't think there's much doubt that he is going to prison. Maybe though Trump will pardon him. He won his seat last night but he won't be able to hold it and that is something Trump cannot do anything about. The ethics committee will be all over it and that is no longer under the purview of a Republican House. It might be kept in mind that when said crime was committed it was already too late for the Republican party to find a replacement. I think they probably would have if they could have. It is a very safe Republican seat. That he nosed out his challenger has much to do with the scandal. In any case that seat will go up for another election again but almost certainly it is going to remain in Republican hands.

Hunter's deal is somewhat different. He and his wife used their campaign funds as if it was a personal private bank account. There are no excuses for this. He's been in congress long enough to know better. What is more his father held the same seat he currently holds for a long, long time. What is kind of sad is that Hunter I believe is a combat veteran. Still--there's a kind of arrogance going on here--an idea that he could do whatever he wanted without regard to the law--like he is the law and above the law. I believe he will be going to prison too and his seat I think the Democrats might actually be able to grab.

Edited: Nov 8, 2018, 1:36am Top

Moveon.org / Trumpisnotabovethelaw.org has activated plans for nationwide protests to protect Mueller investigation. 5 pm most places Thursday Nov 8.

Nov 8, 2018, 4:00am Top

Jeff Sessions’s Firing, Matthew Whitaker’s Rise and the Attorney General’s Role In the Mueller Investigation
Mikhaila Fogel, Susan Hennessey, Quinta Jurecic, Matthew Kahn, Anushka Limaye, Benjamin Wittes | Wednesday, November 7, 2018

...Like Sessions, Whitaker may be obligated to recuse himself from the Mueller investigation...Justice Department guideline...Section 45.2 of Title 28 of the Code of Federal Regulations...states that “no employee shall participate in a criminal investigation or prosecution if he has a personal or political relationship with” either “any person or organization substantially involved in the conduct that is the subject of the investigation or prosecution” or “any person or organization which he knows has a specific and substantial interest that would be directly affected by the outcome of the investigation or prosecution.”

...the same Justice Department regulation (obligates) Whitaker...to seek guidance from career ethics attorneys regarding whether he should recuse. ...

...Federal Vacancies Reform Act (FVRA), which states that when a vacancy occurs in a Senate-confirmed position because an officer “dies, resigns, or is otherwise unable to perform the functions and duties of the office” the president can designate, among other possible persons, “an officer or employee of such Executive agency to perform the functions and duties of the vacant office temporarily in an acting capacity” for up to 210 days. The employee or officer must have served in the agency for 90 days in the previous 365-day period, and the employee or officer must have a General Schedule (GS) level of at least GS-15. During the cycles of threats from the White House to fire Sessions and Rosenstein, legal analysts suggested that the FVRA may not allow a president to appoint an acting official to replace someone he has fired. Functionally, Sessions’s resignation at the president’s request is a firing. But as a formal matter, Sessions resigned, meaning that the president may install Whitaker as his replacement without violating the statute...

...if someone in Whitaker’s new role wants to create big problems for Mueller, he has ample tools to do so.

...If Mueller believes his investigation is being impeded, his most important tool may be the ability to say so publicly.

...Mueller has protected himself already by distributing key elements of his investigation...

...Christopher Wray...has reportedly threatened resignation over White House interference in law enforcement at least once before. It is not out of the question that he might do so again—or carry out the threat—should the integrity of the Mueller investigation be endangered.

...Incoming House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler...Incoming House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings...incoming House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff

...Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell...caucus as a whole is friendlier toward the president and less likely to retaliate over Sessions’s removal...a few voices of dissent: Soon-to-be Sen. Mitt Romney...Sen. Susan Collins...Sen. Lamar Alexander

...Who will serve as attorney general, and will the Senate demand a figure actually committed to the rule of law and to the apolitical conduct of law enforcement and counterintelligence investigations?... A strong-minded Senate could extract similar commitments (to Elliott Richardson's in Nixon era) from whomever is nominated as Sessions’s successor, potentially limiting the president’s ability to interfere with the conduct of the probe.

...Sessions—at great personal cost—in the end put his duty as attorney general, his oath of office, before his loyalty to his boss...Matt Whitaker(?)...


Nov 8, 2018, 8:29am Top

Sessions at least to some degree is implicated in the Russian investigation. Did he or did he not meet with such and such Russian entity. He may have kind of lied and he is a lawyer and not all that stupid even if he is in from Alabama. Lesson that Trump never seems to get---When your digging yourself into a hole--stop digging. I think Sessions very quickly realized that putting his thumb on the scale might only implicate him further. So he stopped making things worse for himself and probably has earned some wiggle room from the Mueller team investigation. Another thing it's time for many of the people sticking at the White House to start thinking about lawyering up. That includes Whitaker. It might not take a whole lot for him to get hit with an obstruction charge.

In any case I wouldn't be surprised if the incoming democratic chairmen coordinate their investigations or share information with the Mueller investigation. If the Trump administration tries to choke the Mueller investigation of funds I would suggest the FBI open up a Go Fund me page. I think they'd get millions of donations.

Nov 8, 2018, 10:17am Top

On the Whitaker appointment, Judge Napolitano weighs in:

Acting AG ‘does not qualify under the law’ to take job

"There’s only three ways a person can become acting attorney general," Napolitano said. "One, if you are the deputy attorney general - Rod Rosenstein -- the president signs an executive order and makes you acting."

"Two is if you are already in the Department of Justice and have a job that requires Senate confirmation and you have received confirmation," Napolitano added. "That is not the case with Matt Whitaker."

"Three is a recess appointment, which is not relevant here because the Senate is not in recess," Napolitano continued.

"So with deference and respect to what the president’s trying to do -- he has every right to have whoever he wants run the Justice Department -- he has chosen someone who does not qualify under the law to be the acting attorney general," Napolitano added.

Nov 8, 2018, 10:38am Top

Head scratching. >8 margd: and >18 2wonderY:

Is there a difference between 'Senate is not in session' and Senate is in recess'?

Nov 8, 2018, 11:33am Top

>18 2wonderY:

Lawfare examines points 1 and 2 and the question of recusal ~

Matthew Whitaker's Appointment as Acting Attorney General: Three Lingering Questions

on the last point:

Without engaging in a full analysis of Whitaker’s recusal obligations, at a minimum it is clear that his past statements regarding the conduct of the special counsel’s investigation potentially “raise a question regarding his impartiality” under the catch-all provision that merits consultation with career Justice Department ethics officials. Likewise, his personal relationship with Clovis at a minimum raises questions that may implicate the department’s recusal provision. Whether he is obligated to recuse may turn on facts—such as the nature of his relationship with Clovis and whether Clovis is a witness, subject or target of the investigation—that are not publicly known. But the public facts make clear that Whitaker must consult with career department ethics officials regarding his participation in connection with the special counsel’s investigation before taking any steps to participate in that investigation. As highlighted here, Whitaker may also have other issues involving personal or political relationships that require ethics advice, depending on his relationship with Sessions and other potential witnesses to the special counsel investigation, as well as his past political activities.

Nov 8, 2018, 11:50am Top

Mitt Romney--newly elected Senator from Utah (replacing Orrin Hatch) on twitter making it clear that the Mueller investigation has to proceed to it's conclusion unimpeded. Sounds as if he's not fully on the Trump team and he's letting them know right from the start.

Nov 8, 2018, 1:00pm Top

Neal K. Katyal and George T. Conway III weigh in ~

Trump’s Appointment of the Acting Attorney General Is Unconstitutional

What makes an officer a principal officer is that he or she reports only to the president. No one else in government is that person’s boss.
Much of the commentary about Mr. Whitaker’s appointment has focused on all sorts of technical points about the Vacancies Reform Act and Justice Department succession statutes. But the flaw in the appointment of Mr. Whitaker, who was Mr. Sessions’s chief of staff at the Justice Department, runs much deeper. It defies one of the one of the explicit checks and balances set out in the Constitution, a provision designed to protect us all against the centralization of government power.

Mr. Whitaker has not been named to some junior post one or two levels below the Justice Department’s top job. He has now been vested with the law enforcement authority of the entire United States government, including the power to supervise Senate-confirmed officials like the deputy attorney general, the solicitor general and all United States attorneys.

We cannot tolerate such an evasion of the Constitution’s very explicit, textually precise design. Senate confirmation exists for a simple, and good, reason. Constitutionally, Matthew Whitaker is a nobody. His job as Mr. Sessions’s chief of staff did not require Senate confirmation. (Yes, he was confirmed as a federal prosecutor in Iowa, in 2004, but President Trump can’t cut and paste that old, lapsed confirmation to today.) For the president to install Mr. Whitaker as our chief law enforcement officer is to betray the entire structure of our charter document.

Nov 8, 2018, 8:51pm Top

A letter from 14 state AGs recommends Whitaker refuse himself from overseeing the Mueller investigation because of his previous public statements of opinion.


Nov 9, 2018, 3:40pm Top

Donald Trump Played Central Role in Hush Payoffs to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal
Joe Palazzolo, Nicole Hong, Michael Rothfeld, Rebecca Davis O’Brien and Rebecca Ballhaus | Nov. 9, 2018

Federal prosecutors have gathered evidence of president’s participation in transactions that violated campaign-finance laws...


Nov 10, 2018, 6:20pm Top

So anyway today Trump was forced to stay away from a ceremony to honor soldiers who were killed in WWI because of the rain. President Macron did though as well as Chancellor Merkel and Prime Minister Trudeau. And apparently it wasn't raining that hard but still..... he might of got pelted a little by water. Anyway what can you expect from someone who avoided going to Vietnam or even the better alternative of doing what Muhammed Ali did who wasn't going to fight a war he thought was wrong and was even willing to go to prison for his belief? You can't expect much is what. He talks about being so pro-military. He and his bone spurs are nothing but bullshit and he's a disgrace besides. Mr. Chickenhawk.

Edited: Nov 12, 2018, 4:10pm Top

Constitutional constraints and governing norms to be tested:

Trump campaigned to protect himself, not help Republicans
Anne Applebaum | November 9, 2018

...Trump’s preplanned decision to fire Attorney General Jeff Sessions after the midterms — by means of an undated resignation letter, clearly written to be used at the president’s will — was a hint of what is coming...special counsel Robert S. Mueller III is going to submit his final report...even indict some more people, maybe some close to Trump...new Democratic House of Representatives (will investigate)... perhaps...Trump’s history of suspected tax fraud, perhaps...his business relationships with Russia...he will need tools to deploy when they are revealed.

...Unlike President Richard M. Nixon, Trump is not going to resign if the institutions of the state prove that he has broken the law. He can’t resign: To do so would bring down not only his administration but also his business and his reputation, the basis of which is his personal brand. He will try, instead, to break the institutions — and he will need the support of his community of believers to do it.

That’s why his campaign rhetoric wasn’t designed to help the Republican Party: It was designed to provide him with a claque of supporters who have bought into his message that the media are “enemies of the state,” that Democrats promote chaos and mob violence, that only he is protecting them from a nonexistent “invasion.” As he seeks to undermine the Justice Department, to denigrate law enforcement — and above all to stay in office — he will ask those loyalists to put pressure on Congress, to support him on social media, to provide counter-narratives, to back up the fictions he is going to conjure up. That’s how he will, in the words of White House press secretary Sarah Sanders, “fight back.”



Midterm fury fuels Trump's assault on constitutional norms
Stephen Collinson | November 12, 2018

...President Donald Trump is intensifying his challenge to constitutional constraints and governing norms that are already facing their gravest test since Watergate in the 1970s.

...installed Matthew Whitaker, an acolyte who shares his skepticism of the Mueller probe as acting attorney general.

...stoked conspiracy theories about stolen elections in the wake of Florida's latest vote counting controversy

...threatened to use the mechanisms of government to investigate Democrats if they investigate him.

...stepped up his assault on the press, including by confiscating the White House pass of CNN chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta (who asked a question about Trump using his power as commander-in-chief to dispatch troops before the election to the border to meet what he said was an imminent criminal invasion from a migrant caravan that is yet to materialize.

..an escalating challenge by the White House to political conventions and guardrails, one that could further sharpen if Trump's reshuffle of top officials rids him of remaining restraining influences...


ETA--skips ceremony at US cemetery in France, skips Arlington Cemetery on Veteran's Day: rain, traffic.

Nov 12, 2018, 4:13pm Top

A reader’s guide: 12 targets as House Democrats prepare to investigate the Trump administration
Some of the Trump administration investigations Democrats plan to pursue
Colby Itkowitz | November 12, 2018

Russian interference

Matt Whitaker

Hush money

Tax returns

Emoluments clause

Security clearances

Media targeting

Brett M. Kavanaugh
“the process by which the FBI was stifled in its investigation by the White House.”

Family separations

Health care

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke


Edited: Nov 12, 2018, 7:56pm Top

I think what I heard and it might have been Schiff was they weren't after impeaching Kavanaugh. The issue is that the FBI didn't thoroughly or at all interview numerous people who knew Kavanaugh and who wanted to testify and the fact that the republicans rushed through such an important appointment knowing all that. They want to make sure that doesn't happen in the future.

Edited: Nov 14, 2018, 5:48am Top

Maryland challenges legality of Whitaker’s appointment as acting U.S. attorney general
Ann E. Marimow | November 13, 2018

...Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh (D) said that President Trump’s appointment of Whitaker to the nation’s highest law enforcement post is unconstitutional and that he should be replaced by Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, who was confirmed by the Senate.

...The legal challenge to Whitaker’s appointment comes as part of Maryland’s ongoing federal lawsuit that is trying to force the Trump administration to uphold a key provision of the Affordable Care Act.

...his appointment violates the Appointments Clause of the Constitution, which requires “principal” senior officials, such as the attorney general, to be confirmed by the Senate. Maryland also contends that the appointment violates a federal statute that lays out the line of succession and gives authority to the deputy attorney general when the top job is vacant.

...Justice Department officials have defended it as legal under the Vacancies Reform Act

...The filing, prepared jointly with the law firm Goldstein & Russell, asks U.S. District Judge Ellen L. Hollander, who has the health-care case, to quickly issue an injunction to replace Whitaker with Rosenstein.

...“It is troubling, to say the least, that the President is attempting to fill a ‘vacancy’ he created himself with a ‘temporary’ appointment that might last for many months or years,” the filing from Frosh’s office said. “It is especially troubling that the temporary appointee has not been confirmed by the Senate for his underlying position; the President might reasonably be seen as appointing a loyalist in a way that deliberately circumvents the Senate’s constitutional advice-and-consent role.”


Rachel Maddow: "Did they vet him? At all?"

Whitaker abandoned taxpayer-funded project in Iowa in 2016
RYAN J. FOLEY and DAVID PITT | Nov 13, 2018

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — While in private business, acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker walked away from a taxpayer-subsidized apartment-rehabilitation project in Iowa after years of cost overruns, delays and other problems, public records show.

The city of Des Moines ultimately yanked an affordable housing loan that Whitaker’s company had been awarded, and another lender began foreclosure proceedings after Whitaker defaulted on a separate loan for nearly $700,000. Several contractors complained they were not paid, and a process server for one could not even find Whitaker or his company to serve him with a lawsuit...


Nov 14, 2018, 12:40pm Top

Jonathan Chait argues

Forget Impeachment. Mueller’s Real Threat to Trump Is in 2020.

The breadth of Trump’s legal exposure exceeds that of any president in American history. It is so vast that it is hard to comprehend... Trump has been doing business with the criminal underworld in Russia and elsewhere for years, the secrets of which may be revealed by Mueller, or by House Democrats obtaining his tax returns.

The public has not absorbed the reality that Trump has surrounded himself with criminals and continued to use his position for personal profit. Democrats will have the opportunity to undermine his pseudo-populism and portray him as a creature of the swamp, and the parade of convictions and indictments will be a convincing backdrop to this theme.

Most of this information has been filtered through the prism of impeachment, and thus turned into a story about Democrats potentially overreaching or following a quixotic strategy. It should be viewed more realistically as the shaping of a dismal news environment for Trump. The already-unpopular president is looking at two years of perp walks, incriminating testimony and — at best! — a series of suspicious presidential pardons. He barely managed to win the presidency as a brash, controversial novelty. He will have to win it a second time as a known crook.

Nov 15, 2018, 9:38pm Top

We should maybe devote another thread to administration scandals that are unrelated to Trump himself since they’re so plentiful.

Trey Glenn, SE regional EPA director, was arrested today.


Nov 16, 2018, 5:11am Top

> 32 Agree. "All things Trumpian" v "Corruption as Usual, Unfortunately"? :(


Trump met with legal team over 3 days to discuss responses to questions from Mueller’s office: Sources
Katherine Faulders and John Santucci | Nov 15, 2018

Over three days this week, President Donald Trump met with his legal team to discuss his written responses to special counsel Robert Mueller’s questions
... on alleged Russian meddling during the 2016 election cycle...may have coordinated with members of the Trump presidential campaign.

...the president was irritated with a handful of the questions...“There are some that create more issues for us legally than others,” (Trump's personal attorney Rudy) Giuliani told the Washington Post. He said some were “unnecessary,” some were “possible traps,” and “we might consider some as irrelevant.” ...


Julian Assange has been charged, prosecutors reveal inadvertently in court filing
Matt Zapotosky and Devlin Barrett | November 15, 2018

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been charged under seal, prosecutors inadvertently revealed in a recently unsealed court filing — a development that could significantly advance the probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election and have major implications for those who publish government secrets.

The disclosure came in a filing in a case unrelated to Assange. Assistant U.S. Attorney Kellen S. Dwyer, urging a judge to keep the matter sealed, wrote that “due to the sophistication of the defendant and the publicity surrounding the case, no other procedure is likely to keep confidential the fact that Assange has been charged.” Later, Dwyer wrote the charges would “need to remain sealed until Assange is arrested.”

...It was not immediately clear what charges Assange would face. In the past, prosecutors had contemplated pursuing a case involving conspiracy, theft of government property or violating the Espionage Act. But whether to charge the WikiLeaks founder was hardly a foregone conclusion. In the Obama administration, the Justice Department had concluded that pursuing Assange would be akin to prosecuting a news organization. In the Trump administration, though, then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions had taken a more aggressive stance and vowed to crack down on all government leaks.

...If Assange were to leave the (Ecuadoran embassy in London) and be arrested by British authorities, he would likely still fight extradition in the British courts.


Nov 16, 2018, 9:47am Top

Trump-appointed judge upholds Mueller's indictment against Russian troll farm
Marshall Cohen | November 15, 2018

In a 32-page opinion, Judge Dabney Friedrich rejected efforts by Concord Management and Consulting to dismiss the indictment, which accused the Russian company of conspiring to defraud the US government. Mueller's team says the company was involved in a well-funded "troll farm" that pumped out political propaganda to millions of Americans throughout the 2016 presidential campaign.

It was the second time that Friedrich, a Trump appointee, sided with Mueller and let the case proceed. Earlier this year, she rebuffed Concord's arguments that there were constitutional problems with Mueller's appointment and authority. Thursday's ruling centered more on the merits of the indictment...


Nov 19, 2018, 3:57pm Top

Follow-up on a story that was filed a few weeks ago:

Liberal watchdog group asks FTC to probe Trump's involvement with company

Public Citizen, a consumer group that has often criticized the president, said in a letter to FTC Chairman Joseph Simons that Trump and his family members failed to disclose that they were paid to endorse the company, American Communications Network, or ACN, in violation of FTC rules.

The complaint follows a lawsuit filed in federal court against Trump in October on behalf of investors in ACN. The suit, which is funded by a progressive group, claims Trump and his family members accepted millions of dollars from ACN starting in 2005 in exchange for promoting the company in speeches and other public appearances, even though they knew the investments “did not — and could not — offer a reasonable probability of success.”

Public Citizen called Trump’s promotion of ACN “a clear-cut infraction” of an “obvious” FTC rule that could lead to a civil fine.

Edited: Nov 20, 2018, 5:49am Top

Lock them up...

Robert Reich @RBReich (Berkeley prof, former Sec. of Labor) | 4:23 PM - 19 Nov 2018

Members of the Trump administration who have used personal email to conduct official business:
1) Ivanka Trump
2) Jared Kushner
3) Steve Bannon
4) Stephen Miller
5) Reince Priebus
6) Gary Cohn

The shameless hypocrisy of these people never ceases to amaze me.

“Some aides were startled by the volume of Ivanka Trump’s personal emails — and taken aback by her response when questioned about the practice. Trump said she was not familiar with some details of the rules, according to people with knowledge of her reaction.”


Nov 21, 2018, 5:32am Top

Trump Wanted to Order Justice Dept. to Prosecute Comey and Clinton
Michael S. Schmidt and Maggie Haberman | Nov. 20, 2018

WASHINGTON — President Trump told the White House counsel in the spring that he wanted to order the Justice Department to prosecute two of his political adversaries: his 2016 challenger, Hillary Clinton, and the former F.B.I. director James B. Comey, according to two people familiar with the conversation.

The lawyer, Donald F. McGahn II, rebuffed the president, saying that he had no authority to order a prosecution. Mr. McGahn said that while he could request an investigation, that too could prompt accusations of abuse of power. To underscore his point, Mr. McGahn had White House lawyers write a memo for Mr. Trump warning that if he asked law enforcement to investigate his rivals, he could face a range of consequences, including possible impeachment.

The encounter was one of the most blatant examples yet of how Mr. Trump views the typically independent Justice Department as a tool to be wielded against his political enemies. It took on additional significance in recent weeks when Mr. McGahn left the White House and Mr. Trump appointed a relatively inexperienced political loyalist, Matthew G. Whitaker, as the acting attorney general.

It is unclear whether Mr. Trump read Mr. McGahn’s memo or whether he pursued the prosecutions further. But the president has continued to privately discuss the matter, including the possible appointment of a second special counsel to investigate both Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Comey, according to two people who have spoken to Mr. Trump about the issue. He has also repeatedly expressed disappointment in the F.B.I. director, Christopher A. Wray, for failing to more aggressively investigate Mrs. Clinton, calling him weak, one of the people said...


Nov 21, 2018, 7:40am Top

And that goes along with his recent threat to use the Senate to investigate Congressional members.

Nov 23, 2018, 2:30pm Top

Amy Spitalnick @amyspitalnick (Comms Director & Senior Policy Advisor to the NY Attorney General) | 9:47 AM - 23 Nov 2018:

#BREAKING: NY Supreme Court throws out Trump’s motion to dismiss @NewYorkStateAG Underwood’s Trump Foundation lawsuit: https://iapps.courts.state.ny.us/fbem/DocumentDisplayServlet?documentId=5gpi0UXWZTG2BxZsqSlyBA==&system=prod

As the AG’s lawsuit detailed, the Trump Foundation functioned as a personal piggy bank to serve Trump's business & political interests

NY AG Underwood @NewYorkStateAG | 10:32 AM - 23 Nov 2018

The Trump Foundation functioned as little more than a checkbook to serve Mr. Trump’s business and political interests. There are rules that govern private foundations, and we intend to enforce them—no matter who runs the foundation.

Nov 23, 2018, 7:55pm Top

Nov 26, 2018, 2:44pm Top

>36 margd: Can Trump's Twitter account be considered akin to a private email?

Nov 26, 2018, 3:42pm Top

Trump had a few mis-steps early on with official records requirement when tweets were deleted,
so once he stopped deleting, I assume that his Twitter account meets standards?

Edited: Nov 29, 2018, 6:24am Top

ETA: espionage?

Hmm, Manafort declined a salary for chairing trump campaign...
If Turkey taped the Saudi consulate, you can bet Ecuador knew what was going on in its own premises.
Manafort's witness tampering and lying to Mueller has to do with not crossing Putin? Worse things than jail...

Manafort held secret talks with Assange in Ecuadorian embassy
Luke Harding and Dan Collyns | 27 Nov 2018

...months before emails hacked by Russia were published

Paul Manafort’s 2016 visit to Assange lasted about 40 minutes

Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort held secret talks with Julian Assange inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London, and visited around the time he joined Trump’s campaign

Sources have said Manafort went to see Assange in 2013, 2015 and in spring 2016 – during the period when he was made a key figure in Trump’s push for the White House.

It is unclear why Manafort wanted to see Assange and what was discussed...


Nov 27, 2018, 4:24pm Top

Paul Waldman, at the Washington Post, is rubbing hands together

It looks like a big day for collusion. No wonder Trump is raging.

Today might turn out to be another of those blockbuster days, because we have not one but two new and potentially vital developments. Both of them involve former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, and while it’s always possible they’ll turn out to be inconsequential, the fact that the president himself is highly distressed suggests otherwise...

The first development came when special counsel Robert S. Mueller III asked a federal court to begin sentencing proceedings for Manafort, sentencing that was on hold while Manafort cooperated with Mueller’s team. According to the filing: “After signing the plea agreement, Manafort committed federal crimes by lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Special Counsel’s Office on a variety of subject matters, which constitute breaches of the agreement.”

This is obviously bad news for Manafort, because without his plea agreement he could spend many more years in jail. But it could also be bad news for President Trump.

This is where, I must stress, things get speculative. But before we get to the speculation, there are some important pieces of context. First, it’s unlikely that Mueller would be withdrawing Manafort’s plea agreement unless he had specific evidence demonstrating that Manafort lied. He’s going to lay that evidence out for the court as the judge considers what sentence to give Manafort, in what amounts to another indictment.

Second, Trump’s lawyers and Manafort’s lawyers have a joint defense agreement that allows them to share information. And third, Trump recently completed a set of written answers to Mueller’s questions.

Marcy Wheeler explains what all that might mean:

Mueller’s team appears to have no doubt that Manafort was lying to them. That means they didn’t really need his testimony, at all. It also means they had no need to keep secrets — they could keep giving Manafort the impression that he was pulling a fast one over the prosecutors, all while reporting misleading information to Trump that he could use to fill out his open book test. Which increases the likelihood that Trump just submitted sworn answers to those questions full of lies.

That Manafort would lie to prosecutors after signing an agreement with them is not exactly surprising. This is someone who spent a career somersaulting across every imaginable ethical and legal line; he even allegedly engaged in witness tampering while under house arrest as he awaited trial. But even if Mueller is right that Manafort has been lying to him, we don’t yet know what about. It could have nothing to do with Trump.

But if it does, and if Trump made the same assertions in his written answers that Manafort made, and if Mueller has evidence disproving those assertions, it would mean Trump committed perjury and perhaps obstruction of justice as well.

That’s a lot of ifs, which is why we’re going to have to wait until Mueller lays all his cards on the table to see the true magnitude of this development.

… the second of the day’s potentially enormous stories, from the Guardian:

Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort held secret talks with Julian Assange inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London, and visited around the time he joined Trump’s campaign, the Guardian has been told.

We have to be careful about this story, because the sourcing — anonymous Ecuadorans connected to the government — is less than ironclad, even if the Guardian did its best to verify the claims. But if it is true that Manafort met with Assange in the spring of 2016, it would be almost ludicrous to think they didn’t discuss the Democratic emails stolen by Russia that WikiLeaks was soon to release in order to damage Hillary Clinton’s candidacy. And if that were true, it would mean the Trump campaign — or at least the Trump campaign chairman — had advance knowledge of the centerpiece of the Russian effort to manipulate the 2016 election.

And — to add the final link in this chain of speculation on my part — if this meeting with Assange and whatever accompanied it is one of the things Mueller will say Manafort lied to him about, then that would mean Mueller has direct evidence of — wait for it — collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, at the very least indirectly through WikiLeaks.

Nov 28, 2018, 6:29am Top

Mueller Just Guaranteed He Can Issue a Public Report
emptywheel | November 26, 2018

...Now, it is true that Trump can pardon Manafort (though that probably won’t happen right away). That’s the only sane explanation for Manafort doing what he did, that he is still certain he’ll be pardoned. But many of these charges can still be charged in state court.

Just about the only explanation for Manafort’s actions are that...Trump was happy to have Manafort serve as a mole in Mueller’s investigation.

But Mueller’s team appears to have no doubt that Manafort was lying to them. That means they didn’t really need his testimony, at all. It also means they had no need to keep secrets — they could keep giving Manafort the impression that he was pulling a fast one over the prosecutors, all while reporting misleading information to Trump that he could use to fill out his open book test. Which increases the likelihood that Trump just submitted sworn answers to those questions full of lies.

And that “detailed sentencing submission … setting forth the nature of the defendant’s crimes and lies” that Mueller mentions in the report?

There’s your Mueller report, which will be provided in a form that Matt Whitaker won’t be able to suppress...


Nov 29, 2018, 6:12am Top

Trump threatens to declassify ‘devastating’ docs about Democrats
Marisa Schultz and Nikki Schwab | November 28, 2018

...if House Democrats launched probes into (Trump) administration — which he called “presidential harassment” — they’d pay a heavy price.

“If they go down the presidential harassment track, if they want go and harass the president and the administration, I think that would be the best thing that would happen to me. I’m a counter-puncher and I will hit them so hard they’d never been hit like that,”

...The commander-in-chief said he could declassify FISA warrant applications and other documents from Robert Mueller’s probe — and predicted the disclosure would expose the FBI, the Justice Department and the Clinton campaign as being in cahoots to set him up.

“I think that would help my campaign. If they want to play tough, I will do it. They will see how devastating those pages are.”

...The president also pushed back on the notion that all the Justice Department documents should eventually be released for the sake of transparency.

“Some things maybe the public shouldn’t see because they are so bad,” Trump said, making clear it wasn’t damaging to him, but to others. “Maybe it’s better that the public not see what’s been going on with this country.”


Nov 29, 2018, 8:12am Top

Deutsche Bank Offices Are Searched in Money Laundering Investigation
Melissa Eddy and Amie Tsang | Nov. 29, 2018

...The German bank confirmed in a statement that the police were investigating several of its offices in Germany and said the investigation related to the Panama Papers, a trove of files that put a spotlight on global money laundering. “We are cooperating fully with the authorities,” Deutsche said in the statement.

In April 2016, news organizations in cooperation with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists released the Panama Papers, which revealed how some of the world’s wealthiest individuals, including more than 900 customers of Deutsche Bank, dodged taxes in their home countries by transferring money to offshore accounts.

Prosecutors said the documents indicated “that Deutsche Bank helped customers found offshore organizations in tax havens by transferring illegally acquired money without alerting authorities to suspected money laundering.”

Paper and electronic documents were gathered during Thursday’s raid, they said.

The prosecutor’s office said two bank employees were suspected of helping Deutsche Bank clients set up offshore accounts and the bank had failed to report the suspected money laundering....


“The system is rigged”: How the crimes of “The Panama Papers” affect us all
Melanie McFarland | November 25, 2018

...Trump’s name shows up 3,540 times within the documents obtained from the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca, which aided dozens of figures from some 200 countries in hiding taxable assets. Other clients include Vladimir Putin, Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, and former British Prime Minister David Cameron...


Edited: Nov 29, 2018, 9:38am Top

Manafort-Trump talks baffle legal community

Seth B. Waxman, a former prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia, said there is no rule or law that says a person like Manafort can’t talk to other individuals about their cooperation with prosecutors, but it is illegal to obstruct justice and tamper with witnesses.

That means it all comes down to what was discussed.

“The devil is in the details,” Waxman said, noting that if lawyers knowingly and intentionally participated in any efforts to obstruct justice or tamper with a witness, they could be charged alongside Manafort.

“This whole notion of a joint defense agreement is total garbage because once Manafort pleads guilty, Manafort and Trump no longer have a common legal interest, which is required for a joint defense agreement to be valid,” he said.

Harry Litman, a former U.S. attorney, said he doesn’t understand why Manafort's and Trump’s attorneys have put their law licenses on the line.

“I can’t conceive of what the lawyers in particular could be thinking,” he said. “They wouldn’t want to lose their licenses. They aren’t morons.”

Nov 29, 2018, 9:41am Top

Cohen to plead guilty to lying to Congress about contacts with Russians: report

ABC, citing anonymous sources, reported that Cohen is expected to appear in a federal court in Manhattan on Thursday after reaching a deal with special counsel Robert Mueller.

(Could this be the Prague trip from the Steele dossier?)

Edited: Nov 29, 2018, 11:30am Top


Michael Cohen pleads guilty to lying to Senate about Trump Tower project in Russia
The Associated Press | Nov 29, 2018

Michael Cohen, U.S. President Donald Trump's former lawyer, pleaded guilty early Thursday to lying to Congress about work he did on a Trump real estate deal in Russia.

Cohen made a surprise appearance Thursday in a New York courtroom at around 9 a.m. ET and began entering the plea.

He admitted to making false statements in 2017 to the Senate intelligence committee about a plan to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.

Cohen said he lied about the timing of the tower negotiations and other details to be consistent with Trump's "political message."

Cohen said that among other lies, he told Congress that all discussions of the Moscow Trump Tower project ended by January 2016, when they had actually continued until June of that year, as Trump was securing the Republican nomination for president.

Cohen also said he sent an email to the spokesperson for Russian President Vladimir Putin as part of the potential deal.

In his statement, Cohen said he worked on the real estate proposal with Felix Sater, a Russia-born associate who he said claimed to have deep connections in Moscow.

The discussions about the potential development began after Trump had declared his candidacy. Cohen had said the talks ended when he determined that the project was not feasible.

Cohen had also disclosed that Trump was personally aware of the deal, signing a letter of intent and discussing it with Cohen on two other occasions.

...Democratic Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia called it "remarkable that you had the president's personal lawyer still dealing on a Trump Tower project through the whole presidential campaign and it appears even into 2017."...



Misstatements to Congress in closed-door testimony last year about his contacts with Russians during the presidential campaign?

Michael Cohen pleads guilty to lying to Congress in collusion probe; gave 70 hours of interviews to special counsel: Sources
George Stephanopoulos, Eliana Larramendia, James Hill | Nov 29, 2018


Nov 29, 2018, 11:33am Top

This HuffPost story has one interesting detail I haven't seen elsewhere:

Paul Manafort’s Nonstop Lying May Have Done Robert Mueller A Huge Favor

Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani and Manafort lawyer Kevin Downing have remained in contact since Manafort’s plea deal, a highly unusual practice after one target in a suspected conspiracy starts cooperating with prosecutors, yet one permitted by the terms of Manafort’s agreement (which, unlike that of his former deputy Rick Gates, did not include a gag provision). When prosecutors informed Manafort they’d tell the judge he had violated his plea by lying, Trump delayed submitting his answers, and demanded new assurances Mueller wasn’t setting a trap. Giuliani decided at the last minute to raise more questions ”about the legitimacy of the investigation.” Ultimately, however, Trump submitted his answers before Mueller issued his determination that Manafort had lied to prosecutors. So, whether the delay had this specific purpose or not, it ensured that Trump had already sworn to the veracity of his own answers before Mueller made his decision to end the plea agreement.

Edited: Dec 1, 2018, 12:47pm Top

Pee tape.next?

Russia's (Kremlin spokesman Dmitry) Peskov Shares (Jan) 2016 Emails from Ex-Trump Lawyer Cohen
Ilya Arkhipov Nov 30, 2018

(Requested meeting with Putin, chief of staff, or Peskov)


Edited: Dec 3, 2018, 12:36pm Top

Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump | 7:48 AM - 3 Dec 2018
“I will never testify against Trump.” This statement was recently made by Roger Stone, essentially stating that he will not be forced by a rogue and out of control prosecutor to make up lies and stories about “President Trump.” Nice to know that some people still have “guts!”

George Conway @gtconway3d | 8:02 AM - 3 Dec 2018
File under “18 U.S.C. §§ 1503, 1512” *

Neal Katyal @neal_katyal (https://twitter.com/neal_katyal) | 8:16 AM - 3 Dec 2018
George is right. This is genuinely looking like witness tampering. DOJ (at least with a nonfake AG) prosecutes cases like these all the time. The fact it's done out in the open is no defense. Trump is genuinely melting down, and no good lawyer can represent him under these circs


*18 U.S. Code § 1503 - Influencing or injuring officer or juror generally

(a) Whoever corruptly, or by threats or force, or by any threatening letter or communication, endeavors to influence, intimidate, or impede any grand or petit juror, or officer in or of any court of the United States, or officer who may be serving at any examination or other proceeding before any United States magistrate judge or other committing magistrate, in the discharge of his duty, or injures any such grand or petit juror in his person or property on account of any verdict or indictment assented to by him, or on account of his being or having been such juror, or injures any such officer, magistrate judge, or other committing magistrate in his person or property on account of the performance of his official duties, or corruptly or by threats or force, or by any threatening letter or communication, influences, obstructs, or impedes, or endeavors to influence, obstruct, or impede, the due administration of justice, shall be punished as provided in subsection (b). If the offense under this section occurs in connection with a trial of a criminal case, and the act in violation of this section involves the threat of physical force or physical force, the maximum term of imprisonment which may be imposed for the offense shall be the higher of that otherwise provided by law or the maximum term that could have been imposed for any offense charged in such case.

(b) The punishment for an offense under this section is—
(1) in the case of a killing, the punishment provided in sections 1111 and 1112;
(2) in the case of an attempted killing, or a case in which the offense was committed against a petit juror and in which a class A or B felony was charged, imprisonment for not more than 20 years, a fine under this title, or both; and
(3) in any other case, imprisonment for not more than 10 years, a fine under this title, or both.

Dec 3, 2018, 12:45pm Top

Trump’s total golf expenses—including the cost of his Secret Service detail—currently stand at an estimated $77 million.
Mueller investigation: $27 million or so (https://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/article/2018/nov/30/how-much-does-mueller-investigation-cost/)

Trump’s Secret Service May Have Just Set A Spending Record For Presidential Golf Carts
Justin Rohrlich | November 30, 2018

...Trump’s total golf expenses—including the cost of his Secret Service detail—currently stand at an estimated $77 million. Per TrumpGolfCount.com, the president played his most recent round on Sunday, Nov. 25, at Trump International.

The Secret Service has said it cannot comment on ”the means, methods, resources, costs, or numbers we utilize to carry out our protective responsibilities.”


Edited: Dec 5, 2018, 8:33am Top

Robert Mueller files sentencing memo on Trump ex-national security adviser Michael Flynn
Paula Reid and Clare Hymes | Dec 4, 2018

WASHINGTON — Special counsel Robert Mueller filed a sentencing memo Tuesday night suggesting that Michael Flynn has given the government "substantial assistance," and it recommends that Flynn serve no time for making a false statement to the FBI. The sentencing guidelines for Flynn's offense suggest zero to six months of incarceration.

"Given the defendant's substantial assistance and other considerations set forth below, a sentence at the low end of the guideline range — including a sentence that does not impose a term of incarceration — is appropriate and warranted," the memo says.

Flynn met with the special counsel 19 times as part of his agreement to cooperate with the government in its investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. According to the filing, Flynn has been cooperating in "several ongoing investigations."

His cooperation in one criminal investigation has been fully redacted. Other descriptions of his cooperation with Mueller's team are also redacted, but they acknowledge he assisted government investigators on a "range of issues, including interactions between individuals in the Presidential Transition Team and Russia."...



A Flynntriguing Sentencing Memorandum
Quinta Jurecic, Benjamin Wittes | Wednesday, December 5, 2018

... a few useful takeaways:

First, the document...doesn’t say that Flynn has breached his plea agreement and lied to investigators, as Mueller has said about Manafort. It doesn’t say that he failed to provide substantial assistance to the investigation, as Mueller said in the George Papadopoulos sentencing memorandum...

Second, Flynn’s cooperation with federal authorities has been diverse and extensive...

Third...It seems that Flynn is cooperating in at least three ongoing investigations: a criminal investigation about which all details are redacted; Mueller’s investigation into “any links or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald J. Trump”; and at least one additional investigation about which all information is redacted...

Fourth...there’s (still) a lot left to unravel


Edited: Dec 6, 2018, 7:18am Top

Case No. 8:17-cv-01596
DONALD J. TRUMP, in his official capacity as President of the United States of America, Defendant.

Laurence Tribe tribelaw | 4:50 PM - 5 Dec 2018:
Check out these #Emoluments subpoenas. They will demonstrate grievous abuses of power that have corruptly and unconstitutionally compromised our president, giving ruthless foreign powers concealed leverage over @POTUS — something we just cannot abide

Norm Eisen @NormEisen | 2:24 PM - 4 Dec 2018:
BREAKING: here are the actual subpoenas in the #emoluments case--lots of them!
Fasten your seatbelts folks--the evidence is going to prove one of the most systematic constitutional ethics violations in US history:
http://bit.ly/2UeCOPR and http://bit.ly/2QBsjqX #emoluments


Saudi-funded lobbyist paid for 500 rooms at Trump’s hotel after 2016 election
David A. Fahrenthold and Jonathan O'Connell | December 5, 2018

Lobbyists representing the Saudi government reserved blocks of rooms at President Trump’s Washington, D.C., hotel within a month of Trump’s election in 2016 — paying for an estimated 500 nights at the luxury hotel in just three months, according to organizers of the trips and documents obtained by The Washington Post.

At the time, these lobbyists were reserving large numbers of D.C.-area hotel rooms as part of an unorthodox campaign that offered U.S. military veterans a free trip to Washington — then sent them to Capitol Hill to lobby against a law the Saudis opposed, according to veterans and organizers.

At first, lobbyists for the Saudis put the veterans up in Northern Virginia. Then, in December 2016, they switched most of their business to the Trump International Hotel in downtown Washington. In all, the lobbyists spent more than $270,000 to house six groups of visiting veterans at the Trump hotel, which Trump still owns.

...These transactions have become ammunition for plaintiffs in two lawsuits alleging that Trump violated the Constitution’s foreign emoluments clause by taking payments from foreign governments. On Tuesday, the attorneys general in Maryland and the District subpoenaed 13 Trump business entities and 18 competing businesses, largely in search of records of foreign spending at the hotel...


Dec 6, 2018, 9:04am Top

>58 margd: More detail on this aspect:

"At the time, these lobbyists were reserving large numbers of D.C.-area hotel rooms as part of an unorthodox campaign that offered U.S. military veterans a free trip to Washington — then sent them to Capitol Hill to lobby against a law the Saudis opposed, according to veterans and organizers"


In late 2016, the Saudi government was concerned about the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act or “JASTA.” President Obama had vetoed the bill, but, in September 2016, Congress resoundingly voted to override Obama’s veto; in the Senate the vote was 97 to 1 and in the House 348 to 77. The newly passed JASTA would allow U.S. courts to waive foreign government’s sovereign immunity claims in cases of terrorism in the U.S. The Saudi government, which had been implicated in providing support for the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks—15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudi citizens—strongly opposed the measure because it meant families of victims of the 9/11 attacks could potentially sue the Saudi government for its alleged role in the thousands of deaths that day.

The 9/11 families were a powerful and emotive political force on the Hill, so the Saudis decided they needed a similarly special class of American to make their case: veterans. Using its longtime Washington lobbying firm Qorvis/MSLGroup, the Saudis offered all-expense paid trips to D.C. for hundreds of veterans to make their case to members of congress. The veterans were told that the new law might hurt the U.S. military by opening up American soldiers, such as themselves, to similar prosecution in other countries for their wartime conduct. This was the same general argument the Obama administration was making at the time against JASTA.

(So, emoluments and using military veterans to lobby Congress. A nice ugly package.)

Dec 6, 2018, 2:36pm Top

Mother Jones just published:

Documents Point to Illegal Campaign Coordination Between Trump and the NRA

When an outside group and a candidate use the same vendor, staffers working for either client are prevented by law from sharing information with each other. Typically, such vendors make staffers sign a company “firewall” policy, which functions as a pledge not to coordinate and an acknowledgment that there are civil and criminal penalties for doing so. Under the law, National Media staffers working for Trump should have been siloed from those working for the NRA. Documents suggest, instead, a synchronized effort.

The two (ad) purchases may have looked coincidental; Red Eagle and AMAG appear at first glance to be separate firms. But each is closely connected to a major conservative media-consulting firm called National Media Research, Planning and Placement. In fact, the three outfits are so intertwined that both the NRA’s and the Trump campaign’s ad buys were authorized by the same person: National Media’s chief financial officer, Jon Ferrell.

“This is very strong evidence, if not proof, of illegal coordination,” said Larry Noble, a former general counsel for the Federal Election Commission. “This is the heat of the general election, and the same person is acting as an agent for the NRA and the Trump campaign.”

Experts say the apparent coordination is the most glaring they’ve ever seen.

“It is impossible for these consultants to have established firewalls in their brains,” Brendan Fischer, the Director of the Federal Reform Program at the Campaign Legal Center, said. “We have not previously seen this level of evidence undermining any claim of a firewall.”

Dec 7, 2018, 2:48pm Top

Exclusive: Mueller investigators questioned John Kelly in obstruction probe
Evan Perez and Dana Bash | December 7, 2018

Washington (CNN)White House chief of staff John Kelly was interviewed by special counsel Robert Mueller's team in recent months, three people with knowledge of the matter told CNN.

...The Mueller questions to Kelly centered on a narrow set of issues in the investigation of potential obstruction of justice, chiefly Kelly's recollection of an episode that took place after new reporting emerged about how the President had tried to fire Mueller. The President was angry at then-White House counsel Don McGahn about what had been reported by The New York Times. McGahn had refused to publicly deny the reporting. The special counsel wanted to try to corroborate McGahn's version of events.

The White House counsel's office had initially fought the Mueller request. ...


Edited: Dec 7, 2018, 5:25pm Top

Laurence Tribe tribelaw | 2:03 PM - 7 Dec 2018

WOW: The Dec 7 filing in SDNY on Michael Cohen’s sentencing charges that President Trump (aka “Individual 1”) directed a criminal conspiracy with his attorney Cohen to violate the federal election laws in order to increase his odds of winning the presidency by deceiving voters.


Document: U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York and Special Counsel's Office File Michael Cohen Sentencing Memo
Mikhaila Fogel | December 7, 2018

Today, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York filed its sentencing memo in the Michael Cohen case. The sentencing memo from SDNY is available here and the memo from the special counsel's office is available here. Both are below: ...



Federal prosecutors recommend ‘substantial’ prison term for former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen
Matt Zapotosky and Devlin Barrett | December 7 at 5:13 PM

Former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen is scheduled to be sentenced next week.


Dec 8, 2018, 9:01am Top

David Rothkopf @djrothkopf | 12/7/2018

So we know this, Russian government representatives reached out to the Trump campaign in 2015 and undertook multiple initiatives and had multiple points and series of contacts with Team Trump for the next couple years.

It's not just the Trump Tower meeting. It's not just the interactions with Wikileaks. It's not just the Russian ties to Cambridge Analytica. It's not just Konstantin Kiliminik, a Russian agent working hand in hand with campaign chair Paul Manafort.

It's not just the ties between Flynn and the Russians. it's not just the links between the Russians and Eric Prince through the meeting in the Seychelles and beyond that. It's not just the ties of Wilbur Ross. It's not just the Trump Organization dealings with Russia.

It's not just Jared Kushner's dealings with Russia. It's not just Kushner and Flynn's dealing with Kislyak during the campaign. It's not just the candidate Trump asking for Russian help. It's not just the GRU hacking for which indictments have already taken place.

We can go on. But let's not stop before we discuss the many benefits the Russians delivered to Trump via hacking, the dumping of files, the manipulation of social media and other avenues...all to support Trump over Clinton. Nor should we fail to discuss the benefits Trump...

...offered the Russians since he gained power. There was his covering up their hacking and his efforts to slow investigations of it. There was his denying the conclusions of the intelligence community about the Russians. There were the talks between Flynn and the Russians...

...about waiving sanctions. There were the meetings with Trump when he was president when he handed over classified information to the Russians. There were whatever promises or concessions were made in Helsinki. There was a pattern of placating the Russians or...

...failing to enforce sanctions for months and months. In other words, there was plenty of quid and plenty of quo ($50 million penthouse apartments and the promise of big deals or financing benefits aside).

From the outreach to Cohen to just the first mos of the admin we can count more than a dozen separate avenues of connection at the highest level. In any normal campaign or administration, just one would set off alarm bells and have the president calling the FBI into action.

But instead, in addition to those dozen avenues, the offers that were explicitly or tacitly accepted, benefits to both sides & the overt betrayal of the U.S. to advance the political or economic interests of Trump and those close to him, we have the president obstructing justice.

Actively obstructing. Threatening to fire all those getting closer to the truth. Lying and lying and lying some more and urging staff to lie and witness tampering and so on.

This is not a case of possible collusion. This is sweeping, multi-layered, high level conspiracy led by Vladimir Putin and the Russian intelligence community and involving the active cooperation and complicity of a man who was a candidate for president and then president...

...as well as his entire team. This is the biggest scandal in the history of the American presidency and there is not another that is close to it. But that is not all we know.

The DoJ believes the president of the United States directed the commission of campaign finance felonies as a candidate. The NYT produced extensive and compelling evidence of serial tax fraud by the Trump family. The state of NY is investigate fraud in their charities.

The House will soon begin investigation of Trump money laundering. A case involving his violation of the Constitution's emoluments clause is under way. In other words, as massive as the Russia scandal is, it might not be the biggest Trump scandal.

It might not even be the scandal that brings Trump down. But what we know is that all of these or any of these scandals must bring him down. This criminal has no business being the White House. He has no business walking freely among us.

2019 is going to be the worst year of Donald Trump's life except for all those that will follow it. These cases will be investigated further and then proven. Some may be prosecuted while he is in office. Some may wait until he leaves office.

But someday this is already certain, no senior American public official--not Richard Nixon, not Andrew Johnson--will go down in more disgrace or be more reviled by history than Donald Trump. And that is as it should be.

Is This the Beginning of the End for Trump?
Barry Berke (white-collar criminal defense), Noah Bookbinder (former federal corruption prosecutor) and Norman Eisen (sr fellow at the Brookings Institution) | Dec. 7, 2018

Sentencing memos reveal damning evidence about collusion and campaign finance violations.

...illegal scheme to silence two women who claimed they had affairs with Mr. Trump. Prosecutors wrote that payments made by Mr. Cohen and other actions were taken “with the intent to influence the 2016 presidential election” and pursued “in coordination with and at the direction of Individual 1” — that is, Mr. Trump. | ...payments were fraudulently disguised as legal fees and ... were approved by senior executives at the organization...additional unspecified matters involving Mr. Cohen and, presumably, the Trump Organization....likelihood that the company and the Trump campaign face charges is now high. | Although President Trump may avoid a similar fate because the Justice Department is unlikely to indict a sitting president, he could be named as an unindicted co-conspirator, as was President Richard Nixon, or charged if he leaves office before the statute of limitations runs out (most likely in 2022).

...new evidence of collusion with Russia, including a previously unreported phone conversation in November 2015 between Mr. Cohen and an unnamed Russian ...the Russian government could provide the Trump campaign with “political synergy” and “synergy on a government level,” and offered to set up a meeting between (Trump and Putin). | ...This newly disclosed conversation directly speaks to the question of collusion — the outreach was explicitly political and was focused on how each side would gain from a potential partnership.

Mr. Cohen’s contacts with people connected to the White House in 2017 and 2018, possibly further implicating the president and others in his orbit in conspiracy to obstruct justice or to suborn perjury... if others, including the president, knew about (Cohen's) false testimony (to Congress)or encouraged it in any way, they would be at substantial legal risk.

the president’s potential exposure under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act for activities relating to a potential Trump Tower Moscow...the Moscow project was a lucrative business opportunity that actively sought Russian government approval, and that the unnamed Russian told Mr. Cohen that there was “no bigger warranty in any project than the consent” of Mr. Putin. | If (true) recent reports that Mr. Cohen floated the idea of giving Mr. Putin a $50 million luxury apartment in a future Trump Tower Moscow...both the president and his company could face substantial jeopardy.

...false statements (by) Paul Manafort, his former campaign chairman, allegedly made to federal investigators...| Some...appear to implicate the president and those close to him in possible collusion and obstruction crimes. Notably, Mr. Manafort is accused of lying to the special counsel regarding his contacts with the Trump administration. | We don’t know the content of those contacts, but considering public statements about potential pardons, it is not hard to imagine they could implicate the president and others in a conspiracy to obstruct justice or witness tampering if, for example, they suggested a potential pardon if Mr. Manafort protected the president...


Feds Detail What They Call Lies Told By Paul Manafort Since His Guilty Plea
Carrie Johnson | December 7, 20186:41 PM ET
Heard on All Things Considered (4:44)

...Prosecutors say Manafort made false statements about five major topics. They include his associate Konstantin Kilimnik, with whom he faced charges for alleged witness tampering; Kilimnik's role in that alleged crime; and a wire transfer to a company working for Manafort.

Prosecutors have asserted in other court materials that Kilimnik has links to Russia's intelligence services.

The fourth area is not spelled out — the government alludes only to "information pertinent to another Department of Justice investigation" — and the fifth involves Manafort's contacts with officials in the Trump administration.

...A significant portion of the special counsel filing is either under seal or redacted...


Read: Mueller’s sentencing memo for Michael Flynn
Andrew Prokopandrew | Dec 4, 2018,

Trump’s former national security adviser pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with the Russian ambassador....


Alternative NOAA @altNOAA | 1:10 AM - 8 Dec 2018:

...I'll bet there is an indictment under seal... possibly waiting for the moment when Individual1 is out of office.

Neal Katyal @neal_katyal | 5:12 PM - 7 Dec 2018

CNN's @JeffreyToobin gets it exactly right: This is the first time in our lives (or life of Republic) that a President's own DOJ (prosecutors in the Southern District of New York) -- not some special prosecutor -- is pointing the finger* at the President and saying he has directed a felony.


Renato Mariotti @renato_mariotti | 5:40 PM - 7 Dec 2018:

In prior eras, if the Justice Department wrote in a public filing that the President of the United States directed someone to commit a serious crime, that could mean the end of that Administration.

Tomorrow will any Congressional Republicans have the integrity to do *anything*?

Edited: Dec 8, 2018, 4:18pm Top

Trump seems to be having a difficult time understanding that Cohen has implicated him in felonious criminal activity. It's like a version of the gong show. You might think that Sekulow or even Giuliani could get through to Donald that he's the 'Individual 1' in Cohen's testimony.....or maybe it's just a kind of perverse pathway to deniability to tell the world that you've been exonerated when it's nothing of the sort.

Anyway when January comes around there will be all kinds of investigating to add to the Mueller and SDNY investigations. As far as impeachment--it's really up to the Republicans--he's the face of their party until they're ready to throw him overboard. Nothing can be done without the Senate but if this sick comedy is still playing out two years from now and he's going for re-election as the face of their party I think the 2018 midterm debacle for the Republicans is going to expand way beyond in lost seats. The more they play around with Trump the higher the stakes and IMO they will get destroyed if they don't start to face up to the facts. The Democratic party is in the best position that it's been in in a long time. They have taken the House and they have a comfortable majority. The next two election cycles will see the Republican party defending significantly more Senate seats than the Democrats and with Trump acting as a corrosive agent they're in a lot of trouble and if the economy takes a downturn like it looks like it's going to.......? The Republican party would be smart to cut bait and not take too long doing it. Donald stinks like a dead roadkill skunk sitting right outside Mitch McConnell's house. Time to get rid of the garbage Mitch.

Edited: Dec 9, 2018, 8:36am Top

Prosecutors’ Narrative Is Clear: Trump Defrauded Voters. But What Does It Mean?
Peter Baker and Nicholas Fandos | Dec. 8, 2018

...(Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York, the incoming Democratic chairman of the House Judiciary Committee) "Until now, you had two different charges, allegations, whatever you want to call them,” , said in an interview on Saturday. “One was collusion with the Russians. One was obstruction of justice and all that entails. And now you have a third — that the president was at the center of a massive fraud against the American people.”

The (hush Money) episode recalled a criminal case brought against former Senator John Edwards, Democrat of North Carolina, who while running for president in 2008 sought to cover up an extramarital affair that resulted in pregnancy. He was charged with violating campaign finance laws stemming from money used to hide his pregnant lover, but a trial ended in 2012 with an acquittal on one charge and a mistrial on five others.

Mr. Giuliani pointed to that outcome on Saturday to argue that the president should not be similarly charged.

...The Cohen information alone “puts impeachment on the table, and I can’t help but think that that is what this is barreling toward,” said Rob Stutzman, a California-based Republican strategist who has been critical of Mr. Trump. “Any other presidency at this point would have been done when their own Department of Justice filed something like that.”

But while the House can impeach a president on a majority vote, conviction in the Senate requires a two-thirds vote, meaning that unless at least 20 Republican senators abandon Mr. Trump, he is safe from removal. Despite the losses in the House last month, Republicans, if anything, have moved closer to the president...



Is Mueller Building an Expansive Obstruction Case?
Bob Bauer | Dec. 8, 2018

The sentencing memos suggest the possibility that Trump and perhaps others were involved in a series of lies from Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen.

...in the Cohen, Manafort and Flynn cases..., the president and his agents may have simply sought to undermine lawful inquiries. It bears remembering that when the House Judiciary Committee voted articles of impeachment against Richard Nixon in 1974, Article 1 included a charge against him for lying to Congress. The impeachable conduct was defined to include “condoning” and “acquiescing in,” not only “approving” and “counseling,” false testimony.

The Cohen, Manafort and Flynn cases may reveal yet another instance of such impeachable, and perhaps prosecutable, acquiescence — if not more in the nature of “approving” and “counseling.”


Dec 9, 2018, 11:58am Top

^ Thirty-five per cent of Amuricans are too fucking dumb and ignorant and/or mental to understand or appreciate any of the above facts. There's your problem.

Will justice finally be done regarding trump, et al. or is the power of the thirty-five per cent enough to engender balls-to-the-wall defense of trump by the republican party so that trump will never have to suffer the usual negative consequences of his actions?

IOW, will trump come out of all his problems smelling like a rose, i.e., just like Bill and Hillary escaped all to continue as free citizens?

I would advise "progressive" and other concerned citizens not to wait for the answers with baited breath - that could cause fatal choking.

Dec 11, 2018, 9:23am Top

The Washington Post has this graph today, showing Russian - Trump surrogates contacts in the 12 months prior to the 2016 election:

It’s not just the number of Trump-Russia contacts. It’s the timing

Published on Feb 16, 2017
President Donald Trump says "nobody that I know of" on his campaign staff contacted Russian officials. (Feb. 16)

Dec 12, 2018, 2:30pm Top

Just breaking now

Feds Agreed Not To Pursue National Enquirer Parent Over Trump Hush Money

After Michael Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York announced that prosecutors had previously reached an agreement not to prosecute the National Enquirer’s parent company over its payment to kill Karen McDougal’s story about her alleged affair with President Trump.

As part of the agreement, American Media, Inc., admitted that it paid McDougal $150,000 in an attempt to influence the 2016 election, according to a statement from the U.S. attorney’s office.

“The Office also announced today that it has previously reached a non-prosecution agreement with AMI, in connection with AMI’s role in making the above-described $150,000 payment before the 2016 presidential election,” the U.S. attorney’s office said in a statement on Cohen’s sentencing. “As a part of the agreement, AMI admitted that it made the $150,000 payment in concert with a candidate’s presidential campaign, and in order to ensure that the woman did not publicize damaging allegations about the candidate before the 2016 presidential election. AMI further admitted that its principal purpose in making the payment was to suppress the woman’s story so as to prevent it from influencing the election.”

Dec 12, 2018, 2:44pm Top

Former deputy finance chair, Elliot Broidy, operates with the same mindset as Trump. RNC is rotten at the core.

Mother Jones has a new profile on his activities today:

Disgraced Trump Fundraiser Tried to Use GOP Contacts to Score “Billions” in Africa

In late 2016, as Donald Trump was readying to move into the White House, Elliott Broidy, then one of the Republican Party’s top fundraisers, was working on a deal to gain control of what a business partner called “billions of dollars in oil & gas, and mining assets” in Angola. And while he was trying to pull together this gigantic venture—as well as mounting another project to provide intelligence services to the Angolan government—Broidy used his clout to hook up top Angolan government officials with members of the US Congress and the Trump administration.

Dec 13, 2018, 4:20am Top

Maria Butina’s plea is the worst news ever for Trump
Lucian K. Truscott IV | December 13, 2018

What the Russian spy’s guilty plea tells us about Trump’s chances of surviving Mueller’s investigation

...what Trump should really be worrying about is what Butina’s guilty plea says about his friend Vladimir Putin in Russia. Butina was obviously operating as an intelligence agent of the Russian state, and she wouldn’t be agreeing to plead guilty and cooperate with investigators for Mueller or anyone else if she hadn’t been given the go-ahead by her bosses back in Moscow. Butina faces a sentence of zero to six months under the federal statute she was charged with, and even if she ends up serving time, she will be deported immediately upon her release from prison.

Marina Butina wouldn’t have anyplace to go in Russia if her handlers at the Kremlin hadn’t told her it was okay to tell U.S. prosecutors everything she knows about how her attempt to influence American politics worked from 2015 through 2016. If Putin has decided to cut Butina loose, he’s cutting Trump loose as well...


Dec 13, 2018, 6:16am Top

Publisher of National Enquirer admits paying hush money to help Trump ahead of 2016 election
Tom Winter and David K. Li | Dec. 12, 2018

...The publisher (of the National Enquirer), American Media Inc., will avoid prosecution by stipulating that it worked with Trump's campaign to buy ($150,000) the silence of women — who have identified themselves as adult film actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal — ahead of the vote two years ago...

..."As a part of the (Sept 21) agreement, AMI admitted that it made the $150,000 payment in concert with a candidate’s presidential campaign, and in order to ensure that the woman did not publicize damaging allegations about the candidate...AMI further admitted that its principal purpose in making the payment was to suppress the woman’s story so as to prevent it from influencing the election....Assuming AMI’s continued compliance with the agreement, the Office has agreed not to prosecute AMI for its role in that payment...The agreement also acknowledges, among other things, AMI’s acceptance of responsibility, its substantial and important assistance in this investigation, and its agreement to provide cooperation in the future and implement specific improvements to its internal compliance to prevent future violations of the federal campaign finance laws."


Edited: Dec 13, 2018, 3:43pm Top

Alleged Russian spy Maria Butina pleads guilty to engaging in conspiracy against US

Butina agreed to turn over any evidence of crimes she is aware of, submit a full accounting of her financial assets, sit for interviews with law enforcement (and waive right to counsel during those interviews) and testify before grand juries or in trials in Washington or elsewhere.

The conspiracy, as prosecutors described it in court, kicked off no later than March 2015 with a draft proposal Butina wrote to Torshin and others called the "Description of the Diplomacy Project."

It described her plan to become an unofficial conduit of communication between Russia and the US, especially through the Republican Party, at a time when the two governments were less willing to negotiate formally. She had also planned to use $125,000 from a Russian billionaire to attend conferences associated with the GOP -- particularly the NRA, which she believed "had influence over" the Republican Party, she admitted.

Among Butina's other criminal admissions, prosecutors said NRA members received in 2015 her invitation to visit Moscow and meet with high-ranking Russian politicians. Torshin and "US Person 1", whom CNN identified as Erickson, helped her prepare for the trip. After the trip in December 2015, she said to Torshin, "We should let them express their gratitude now, we will put pressure on them quietly later."

She helped a US citizen host "friendship dinners" with other wealthy and influential Americans to talk about US-Russian policy, prosecutors said and Butina admitted in court.

Butina organized a delegation and oversaw invitations to attend the National Prayer Breakfast. She noted to Erickson at the time that the people were "coming to establish a back channel of communication."

She was in the (solitary) confinement partly because of her discussions with other prisoners in the Alexandria, Virginia, facility, court papers said previously. On Thursday, the judge revealed prosecutors heard her on taped phone calls from jail with a journalist admitting that she had tried to get messages to the media, and potentially through her lawyer and through other inmates, even though she was under a court order not to speak about her case.

Maria Butina’s boyfriend claimed he set up Trump-Russia NRA “conduit” as campaign funds flowed

“Unrelated to specific presidential campaigns,” Erickson wrote in October 2016, in an email to an acquaintance now in possession of the FBI, “I’ve been involved in securing a VERY private line of communication between the Kremlin and key unnamed political party leaders through, of all conduits, the unnamed gun-rights organization.”

FBI investigators raided Erickson's South Dakota home and found a note in which he mused, “How to respond to FSB offer of employment?” The FSB is Russia’s intelligence agency and the successor to the infamous KGB.

ETA the story at NPR adds this:

The work ran through Election Day 2016 and into the following year, when Torshin instructed Butina about which Russian attendees to arrange to become part of a delegation to the National Prayer Breakfast on Feb. 2, 2017.

Later, Erickson said in an email message on which Butina was cc'd:

"Reaction to the delegation's presence in America will be relayed DIRECTLY emphasis in original to the Russian President and Foreign Minister."

Dec 13, 2018, 4:06pm Top

Trump was in the room during hush money discussions, NBC News confirms
Tom Winter | Dec. 13, 2018 / 3:41 PM EST

...Donald Trump was the third person in the room in August 2015 when his lawyer Michael Cohen and National Enquirer publisher David Pecker discussed ways Pecker could help counter negative stories about Trump's relationships with women...


Edited: Dec 13, 2018, 5:51pm Top

Federal prosecutors probing Trump inauguration spending -WSJ

Federal prosecutors are investigating whether U.S. President Donald Trump's inaugural committee misspent some of the funds it raised, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday, citing people it said were familiar with the matter.

The investigation opened by the Manhattan U.S. attorney's office is examining whether some of the committee's donors gave money in exchange for policy concessions, influencing administration positions or access to the incoming administration, the Journal said.

The investigation into the inaugural committee partly stemmed from materials seized in a probe into the dealings of former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, the Journal reported.

(me: The headline says spending by the committee; but I think it means influence buying, eh?)

Dec 14, 2018, 6:22am Top

Russian agent’s guilty plea intensifies spotlight on relationship with NRA
Rosalind S. Helderman, Tom Hamburger and Michelle Ye Hee Lee | December 13, 2018

...Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.)...who has sought to learn more about the NRA’s Russia ties as the ranking Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, said the organization has turned over documents related to Butina but has not provided financial records he has requested.

...On Thursday, Wyden sent letters to three past presidents of the group, asking that they agree to be interviewed by the committee about the group’s interactions with Russia.

...The NRA’s interactions with Butina and Torshin came as the group embarked on an unprecedented spending spree to help elect Donald Trump president.

NRA spending on the 2016 elections surged in every category, with its political action committee and political nonprofit arm together shelling out $54.4 million. The bulk of the money — $30 million — went to efforts supporting Trump. That is triple the amount the group devoted to electing Republican Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential race.

...The group’s spending on federal races in 2018 plummeted to roughly $9 million.

...In 2017, the NRA’s political nonprofit arm, which is separate from its charitable arm and its PAC, spent more money than it took in for the second year in a row, according to tax filings and an independent financial audit obtained by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. Contributions from donors to that group declined in 2017, tax records show. That entity also saw a decline in revenue from membership dues in 2017 compared with 2016...


Dec 14, 2018, 9:32am Top

73, 76 contd.

Moscow says it will help Russian despite her guilty plea
The Associated Press | Dec 14, 2018

...Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told Russian news agencies on Friday that he "understands" why Butina pleaded guilty, quoting what he described as "torturous" prison conditions.

Lavrov reiterated Moscow's commitment to support Butina, who has been in jail since July, and said Russia would do it best to help her come home.


(Russia's last venture in US court didn't go well: https://www.politico.com/story/2018/11/15/russia-mueller-investigation-court-992325, but they just can't resist, can they?)

Dec 17, 2018, 11:21am Top

Trump’s History of Campaign Finance Wrongdoing Destroys His New Defense

Donald Trump, the man who once bragged on national television in 2015 about his remarkable knowledge surrounding campaign donations, declaring, “I know more about contributions than anybody,” now has a brand new defense to his alleged federal election crimes: He suddenly claims to know nothing about how campaign donations work. The problem with this defense, though, is this thing called “Google,” which details Trump’s long history of being investigated and even fined for violating campaign laws.

The reality is that Trump can’t in good faith claim he was oblivious to the rigors of campaign finance laws, because he was personally investigated from 2011 through 2013 for possible campaign violations by the Federal Election Commission (FEC). Add to that, in 2000, Trump paid a then-record fine for violating New York lobbying laws for failing to report that he was the person secretly financing a campaign. These experiences would clearly seem to put Trump on notice that any effort to undermine transparency when it comes to campaigns is not only wrong but could result in civil or criminal penalties.

Dec 17, 2018, 11:40am Top

It made sense that this might be one of the other investigations that Flynn was tied to ~

Two Business Partners of Former Trump Adviser Michael Flynn Indicted in Turkey Lobbying Case

Charges against the two former associates, Bijan Kian and Ekim Alptekin, were unsealed on Monday in an Alexandria, Va., courtroom. The two men were charged with a conspiracy to violate federal lobbying rules, and Mr. Alptekin also was charged with making false statements to F.B.I. investigators.

Mr. Mueller referred the Turkey case to prosecutors in Northern Virginia earlier this year.

Edited: Dec 18, 2018, 9:25am Top


From Fox news via Huffington Post Andrew Napolitano weighs in. Not collusion but Trump orchestrated a crime = conspired with others to commit a crime--that Trump may already be indicted to protect the prosecution from a statute of limitations running out issue. Napolitano goes over the different avenues that the prosecution and Trump might agree to take. He expects that Trump will either be forced to sit down to talk with Mueller and his team (which he considers the better option) or go before a grand jury.

If Trump were to decide to go before a grand jury and it was televised it would be time to get the popcorn out. He will fail and spectacularly.

Dec 18, 2018, 9:26am Top

>61 2wonderY: Trump campaign and NRA ad coordination?

CNN’s Chris Cuomo Spots ‘Uncanny’ Similarity Of Trump And Russian Bot Messages

Cuomo highlighted how both Russia and Trump’s team used targeted ads in a bid to suppress the vote among African-Americans, young women and white liberals.

“I’m not saying it’s a crime. I’m saying it’s uncanny,” he explained. “The symmetry continued right up until the end, in the days leading up to the campaign, the actual election, the Russians went all in on what? Allegations of voter fraud, warnings that the election would be stolen.”

“Sound familiar? Of course, it does,” Cuomo added. “You were hearing the same exact thing from then-candidate Donald Trump.”

Dec 19, 2018, 9:21am Top

Trump signed letter of intent for Trump Tower Moscow project despite Giuliani insisting he didn't
Kate Sullivan | December 18, 2018

...The non-binding document is also signed by Andrey Rozov, owner of I.C. Expert Investment Co., the Russian firm that would have been responsible for developing the property.

Trump did not tell the public during the 2016 presidential campaign that his company explored the business deal with Russia and instead repeatedly claimed he had "nothing to do with Russia." But the project, which was ultimately scrapped, would've given Trump's company a $4 million upfront fee, no upfront costs, a percentage of the sales and control over marketing and design. The deal also included an opportunity to name the hotel spa after Trump's daughter Ivanka.

The special counsel's team investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election alleges the deal could have been lucrative for the Trump Organization.

While the potential Trump Tower Moscow deal was on the table, then-candidate Trump was speaking positively about working with Russian President Vladimir Putin and minimizing Russia's aggressive military moves around the world...



So, Trump kids are barred from serving on charity boards in future, but Ivanka serves in White House?

NY AG Underwood @NewYorkStateAG | 7:57 AM - 18 Dec 2018

#BREAKING: We’ve secured a stipulation requiring the Trump Foundation to dissolve under judicial supervision, with our review of recipient charities.

The Foundation functioned as little more than a checkbook to serve Mr. Trump’s interests. Our lawsuit remains ongoing.

Edited: Dec 22, 2018, 6:54am Top

Remember concern when Bill Clinton chatted with AG Lynch on tarmac? (Clinton not her supervisor, and not target of investigation, though his wife was.)
Trump installed an acting Attorney General, sympathetic to the President's legal woes, never vetted by the Senate, and not in Justice Dept's line of authority. Then:

Trump lashed out at Whitaker after explosive Cohen revelations
Laura Jarrett and Pamela Brown | December 21, 2018

President Donald Trump has at least twice in the past few weeks vented to his acting attorney general, angered by federal prosecutors who referenced the President's actions in crimes his former lawyer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to, according to multiple sources familiar with the matter.

Trump was frustrated, the sources said, that prosecutors Matt Whitaker oversees filed charges that made Trump look bad. None of the sources suggested that the President directed Whitaker to stop the investigation, but rather lashed out at what he felt was an unfair situation.

The first known instance took place when Trump made his displeasure clear to acting attorney general Matt Whitaker after Cohen pleaded guilty November 29 to lying to Congress about a proposed Trump Tower project in Moscow. Whitaker had only been on the job a few weeks following Trump's firing of Jeff Sessions.

Over a week later, Trump again voiced his anger at Whitaker after prosecutors in Manhattan officially implicated the President in a hush-money scheme to buy the silence of women around the 2016 campaign -- something Trump fiercely maintains isn't an illegal campaign contribution. Pointing to articles he said supported his position, Trump pressed Whitaker on why more wasn't being done to control prosecutors in New York who brought the charges in the first place, suggesting they were going rogue.

The previously unreported discussions between Trump and Whitaker described by multiple sources familiar with the matter underscore the extent to which the President firmly believes the attorney general of the United States should serve as his personal protector. The episodes also offer a glimpse into the unsettling dynamic of a sitting president talking to his attorney general about investigations he's potentially implicated in...



Adam Schiff @RepAdamSchiff | 7:00 PM - 21 Dec 2018:
The President of the United States should not be discussing any criminal case in which he has been implicated with the Acting Attorney General.
This is wrong, unethical and eviscerates post-Watergate policy. Whitaker should not need an ethics opinion to know this is inexcusable.


Whitaker rejected ethics official's advice he should recuse from Russia probe
Laura Jarrett | December 21, 2018

Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker disregarded the advice of a Justice Department ethics official to step aside from overseeing Robert Mueller's Russia investigation.

Whitaker never sought a formal recommendation about whether he needed to recuse, but he received guidance on his options and the applicable rules during three meetings with ethics officials and multiple discussions with his own advisers, according to a senior department source and a letter* from the Justice Department to Congress Thursday night.

The decision to make was Whitaker's alone and came the same day news emerged that Trump's nominee to take the permanent job, Bill Barr, wrote the Justice Department last year to argue against the Mueller investigation, raising concerns on Capitol Hill that the President is selecting leaders based on their alignment with his critical view of the Russia probe and will seek to undercut the special counsel...


* Asst AG letter to Ryan and Pelosi re Whitaker decision not to recuse

Edited: Dec 22, 2018, 7:45am Top

Whitaker---when your dream job is to work for a volcanic nutjob. This is where ambition takes some people. They lose all sight of personal perspective to sell whatever dignity they ever had to the highest bidder. This is what the football jock Whitaker wants--to be yelled at by Cadet Bonespur's about something he has no control over. Whitaker wants to do Donald's bidding and doesn't mind being his whipping boy. I can only surmise that there is something perverse and craven about Whitaker.

Edited: Dec 22, 2018, 12:52pm Top

> 84

Iriley - if you are a believer in time-travel, Big Foot, or if you have an extra long penis, Matt Whitaker can probably hook you up with some interesting and useful stuff. - https://www.gq.com/story/matthew-whitaker-is-the-toilet-attorney-general

Edited: Dec 24, 2018, 9:51am Top

Who could it be?
>3 margd: contd? (McConnell Received $3.5M In Campaign Donations From Russian Oligarch-Linked Firm?)
altNASA: Which company is it? The Deutsche Bank, a Trump company, or a Russian company?

Mystery company involved in Mueller investigation appeals to Supreme Court
Katelyn Polantz, CNN | December 22, 2018

...In one short passage in the three-page decision, the judges describe how they had learned confidentially from prosecutors that they had "reasonable probability" the records requested involved actions that took place outside of the United States but directly affected the US. Even the company was not informed of what prosecutors had on the issue, because revealing it to the company would have violated the secrecy of the grand jury investigation, the judges said.

The range of possibilities on the identity of the company is vast. The company could be anything from a sovereign-owned bank to a state-backed technology or information company. Those types of corporate entities have been frequent recipients of requests for information in Mueller's investigation.

And though Mueller's work focused on the ties between the Trump campaign and Russia's efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election, prosecutors have said and CNN has reported that the Mueller team looked at actions related to Turkish, Ukrainian and other foreign government interests.

Mueller previously indicted three Russian companies and 25 Russians for their alleged contributions to a social media propaganda scheme meant to influence American voters and to the hack of the Democratic Party. The special counsel and other Justice Department units continue to pursue several investigations related to Mueller's core mission....



Chief Justice pauses contempt order for mystery company in Mueller investigation
Kevin Bohn and Katelyn Polantz, CNN | December 23, 2018

...The order puts on hold the contempt citation issued by a DC federal judge against the company related to a grand jury subpoena it received, but only long enough for the justices to decide whether they want to intervene in the case.

The company asked the Supreme Court to intervene after a federal appeals court ruling that ordered the company to comply with the subpoena, which required it to turn over "information" about its commercial activity in a criminal investigation. The Supreme Court action also paused fines the company was facing for every day of noncompliance.

The pause lasts until the court has time to review a response from the government due on or before December 31...


Dec 26, 2018, 7:38am Top

Did a Queens Podiatrist Help Donald Trump Avoid Vietnam?
Steve Eder | Dec. 26, 2018

In the fall of 1968, Donald J. Trump received a timely diagnosis of bone spurs in his heels that led to his medical exemption from the military during Vietnam.

For 50 years, the details of how the exemption came about, and who made the diagnosis, have remained a mystery, with Mr. Trump himself saying during the presidential campaign that he could not recall who had signed off on the medical documentation.

Now a possible explanation has emerged about the documentation. It involves a foot doctor in Queens who rented his office from Mr. Trump’s father, Fred C. Trump, and a suggestion that the diagnosis was granted as a courtesy to the elder Mr. Trump.

The podiatrist, Dr. Larry Braunstein, died in 2007. But his daughters say their father often told the story of coming to the aid of a young Mr. Trump during the Vietnam War as a favor to his father.

...No paper evidence has been found to help corroborate the version of events described by the Braunstein family, who also suggested there was some involvement by a second podiatrist, Dr. Manny Weinstein. Dr. Weinstein, who died in 1995, lived in two apartments in Brooklyn owned by Fred Trump; city directories show he moved into the first during the year Donald Trump received his exemption...


Edited: Dec 26, 2018, 11:56am Top

Julia Davis @JuliaDavisNews (investigative journalist) https://twitter.com/JuliaDavisNews | 8:29 AM - 26 Dec 2018:

#Russia's state TV 'Channel One' interviewed Maria #Butina's parents. Her father was asked how Butina was paying the rent for her apartment in the U.S. His answer was most curious: "She had influential acquaintances who recognized her abilities and were helping her financially."


Russia Gloats: ‘Trump Is Ours Again’
Julia Davis | 12.21.18

If Moscow was happy about the Syria pullout, it’s ecstatic about Defense Secretary Jim Mattis’ resignation.

...“On top of that, Rusal sanctions have been lifted with Trump’s hands.” Panelists of the show, including Russian lawmakers, couldn’t hide their satisfied grins. The reference was to the announcement that Trump’s Treasury Department intends to lift sanctions against the business empire of Oleg V. Deripaska, one of Russia’s most influential oligarchs, sanctioned for Russian interference in the U.S. elections...


Dec 26, 2018, 12:34pm Top

#87---So Cadet Bonespurs probably doesn't have bone spurs?

Dec 26, 2018, 5:22pm Top

>89 lriley: I think a more accurate phrasing is Cadet Bonespurs never did have bone spurs. Getting a sympathetic doctor to gin up and sign off on a physical/mental symptom that would get you out of the draft wasn't that big a deal if you had connections/influence back then. When the contingent of gonna-get-drafted men from the town I was living in was ordered to report to the bus depot for shipping to the big city for the draft physical there was one jerk in the group who just happened to sit next to me on the bus on the way down and who took great delight in telling me how his doctor had written a piece of medical fiction for him so that he would get a 4F classification.

When the physical was over we were mustered in a medium sized hall and several names were called out, his was one of them, and those individuals were told they had failed the draft physical and were to wait outside for the rest of us while we filled out additional paperwork. I'll never forget the smug boy-are-you-a-bunch-of-dumb-shits look he gave the group as he strolled out that door along with a few others. I like to think the rest of his life turned out to be absolute hell but it probably wasn't.

Dec 26, 2018, 9:20pm Top

#90--The remark of mine was a bit facetious. I remember grade school in the mid to later 60's where the Vietnam War was a daily subject--those times were quite a bit different than these times. I graduated from high school in 1975---shortly after Vietnam ended. I happened to be born at the right time that when I came of age there wasn't much as far as conflicts for me to be involved in even if I wanted to--which I didn't. I never really wanted to go into the military and when I did volunteer in 1981--the Coast Guard seemed to me the least likely to get me killed and the main reason I went in was because all kinds of factory and industrial work around where I lived had pulled up stakes--(a kind of mini-depression) and I'd lost my job and there wasn't a lot around--so it was to get a job that would last a while. I never liked it but overall it was a very good and formative experience for me.

But anyway I always thought that the best way to say 'no' if you didn't want to fight--if that's the way you felt about the war was the Muhammed Ali way. He simply didn't believe in it but he didn't run away. He stood for what he thought was right and went to prison but there wasn't any bullshit about it. He took a lot of heat but he also set an example.

But anyway there seem to be quite a number of conservatives that managed to avoid that war with one bogus trick or another and Donald is just one more. The weird thing is they don't tend to have any compunctions about sending other people to die for the bullshit conflicts that they start. Go figure.

Dec 27, 2018, 8:23am Top

Apparently Trumpster has one more reason to keep government closed:

Trump lawyers, citing shutdown, ask court for delay in emoluments case
JOSH GERSTEIN | 12/26/2018



Dec 28, 2018, 7:28am Top

"The phone and surveillance data, which have not previously been disclosed, lend new credence to a key part of a former British spy’s dossier of Kremlin intelligence describing purported coordination between Trump’s campaign and Russia’s election meddling operation"

Cell signal puts Cohen outside Prague around time of purported Russian meeting
Peter Stone and Greg Gordon | December 27, 2018

A mobile phone traced to President Donald Trump’s former lawyer and “fixer” Michael Cohen briefly sent signals ricocheting off cell towers in the Prague area in late summer 2016, at the height of the presidential campaign, leaving an electronic record to support claims that Cohen met secretly there with Russian officials, four people with knowledge of the matter say.

During the same period of late August or early September, electronic eavesdropping by an Eastern European intelligence agency picked up a conversation among Russians, one of whom remarked that Cohen was in Prague, two people familiar with the incident said...


Dec 29, 2018, 1:06pm Top

New Jersey AG has obtained evidence of possible crimes at Trump's golf club — and Mueller, FBI are involved in probe
Chris Sommerfeldt | Dec 29, 2018

New Jersey prosecutors have collected evidence that supervisors at President Trump’s Garden State golf club may have committed federal immigration crimes — and the FBI as well as special counsel Robert Mueller have played part in the inquiry, the Daily News has learned.

Anibal Romero, a Newark attorney who represents several undocumented immigrants who used to work at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, said Friday he recently met with investigators from the state attorney general’s office and handed over fraudulent green cards and Social Security numbers that management at the club allegedly procured and gave his clients, Victorina Morales and Sandra Diaz...


Dec 30, 2018, 4:17am Top

Exclusive: Russian Ex-Spy (Viktor Boyarkin) Pressured Manafort Over Debts to an Oligarch
Simon Shuster | 29, 2018

...former Russian intelligence officer...Victor BoyarkinBoyarkin...was in touch with Trump’s then-campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, in the heat of the presidential race on behalf of the Russian oligarch (billionaire Oleg Deripaska). “(Manafort) owed us a lot of money,” Boyarkin says. “And he was offering ways to pay it back.”...


Edited: Dec 30, 2018, 7:15am Top

>69 2wonderY:

this is one fucking hopelessly-lost dip-shit public if no one has enough sense to recognize and understand the ominous character of this

“The Office also announced today that it has previously reached a non-prosecution agreement with AMI, in connection with AMI’s role in making the above-described $150,000 payment before the 2016 presidential election,” the U.S. attorney’s office said in a statement on Cohen’s sentencing. “As a part of the agreement, AMI admitted that it made the $150,000 payment in concert with a candidate’s presidential campaign, and in order to ensure that the woman did not publicize damaging allegations about the candidate before the 2016 presidential election. AMI further admitted that its principal purpose in making the payment was to suppress the woman’s story so as to prevent it from influencing the election.”

How is it possible to escape the conclusion that what's implied there is something which constitutes what amounts to a de facto legal "duty to publish"? And since when is a newspaper or its parent-organization legally obliged to publish in such a scenario that being described above?

That is sheer lunacy. And failing to grasp it is fatally-stupid.

It could be just as reasonably argued that practically everything of any political character at all in the news which a newspaper, magazine or other journalistic enterprise publishes--or chooses not to publish-- within any given election-cycle is, in one manner or another, in one form or another, intended to "influence" its readers' thinking, their views and their intentions to vote or--just as much--not to vote in the impending election.

And how, after all, is doing any of that--deliberately or not--anything other than the publishing companies' right under a legal system in which there is something which can be respectably regarded as a "free press2?--for Goddamn fucking sake!

Dec 30, 2018, 9:40am Top

#96--the crime isn't AMI not publishing the story/ies though. The crime is using campaign funds as a means of silencing the publication of the story/ies that doubtlessly would have had a negative impact on Trump's presidential campaign---or at least that's how I understand it and I'm sure if AMI's David Pecker saw a way of forward of not being criminally liable he would do it and not cooperate.

Edited: Dec 30, 2018, 12:14pm Top

Thinking some more about it there's also a conspiracy and a fraud going on and the person paying for all that is also guilty of those things at least if he has knowledge--which appears to be the case vis-a-vis the Cohen recording tape.

McDougal makes a deal with Pecker with AMI to get her story about an affair with Trump out. She does not make a deal with Trump--who learning of it (probably through Pecker) conspires with Pecker via his lawyer Cohen to suppress the story while at the same time using the payment to force her into silence. Trump through Pecker buys her off with the fraud that her story will come out. Trump is in all probability in on it all---but he'll probably have a day in court to show that he wasn't. So.....we'll see....but it looks pretty damning.

So there is a campaign violation, a conspiracy and a fraud. And at least this part of it appears to have nothing at all to do with the Russians.

Edited: Dec 31, 2018, 5:44am Top

>97 lriley: >98 lriley:

In saner times such reasoning should have left people utterly unimpressed--especially people who understand law and legal principles including the freedom of the press. Freedom of the press surely means nothing if it doesn't include both the prerogative (negative in this case) to decline to publish something--whether factual or opinion--as well as the positive case, more generally understood as the core "freedom" of the press to publish.

Publishers (new organizations or others, for that matter) have a de facto right to publish freely (provided they do not violate libel/defamation laws), to enter into contracts by which, for a payment, if they so choose, they secure a second- or third- party's exclusive account. The topic can be virtually anything the source and the publisher agree holds some actual or potential interest-value to a readership--that's a judgment call on their parts and they may, as explained below, turn out to be mistaken about it.

Thus, if a woman (or man, for that matter) has a clandestine sexual affair with a person of note from the world of political or other celebrity matters, she (or he) can sell that account, under exclusive rights, if agreed to by them, to any single publisher she sees fit to deal with. That contractual agreement is both legal and binding on the parties to it. It binds her to refrain from divulging the same account to any other publisher prior to that with which she's entered into an exclusive "scoop" . This is very old and very standard journalistic practice. You might argue that the classiest news organizations don't engage in such "check-book journalism" but that, while perhaps true, is also completely beside the point. We're concerned here with the law and legal rights to publish or not--as the publishers deem in their commercial best interests; publishing, including news publishing, is a business, FFS! But it has legal, (Constitutional, in the U.S.) rights and protections--and rightly so.

So, going back to our scenario-- once the contract's terms are agreed and the source divulges her account to the publisher, her part of the transaction is complete. She'd due her money at that point; and, by the way, she's due that agreed payment whether or not, when all is said and done, the publisher regards the account as quite everything they'd hoped it would be. That is, the secret affair, once told, might turn out to have been rather dull and dreary, not very salacious reading. Too bad for the publisher--who'd agreed in advance to pay for exclusive rights to publish first. The publisher might also conclude, at the end of everything, that the source's account doesn't add up, that it's a fable, a piece of make-believe. The publisher could reply to the offended, annoyed prosecutor who's threatening him for having been a party to some "fraud", some "conspiracy" not to report some account, that "we just didn't believe her story in the end; and that's why we killed the publication. We still owed her the agreed payment. But we concluded that we'd bought a junk story and we're under no obligation to use it."

Therefore, the publisher can decide for any reason or no reason at all whether or not to actually go to press with the story. He could choose not to publish it; and his reasons for so choosing are really nobody else's goddamned business--least of all are they the business of a state's or U.S. attorney's office. It's really none of their damn business what the publisher's "real" motives are. A very clear and deliberate intention to withhold a news story's publication because the publisher deems it unfavourable to some person or people whom he prefers to see spared embarrassment and the ill consequences from the publication of the information--that's the publisher's legal right to determine for himself.. Where there is no exclusive right involved, then, of course other news publishers are free to try to go out and dig up those same facts and, according to their own judgment, publish them or not.

... "there's also a conspiracy and a fraud going on and the person paying for all that is also guilty of those things at least if he has knowledge" ...

No, there isn't.

So the individuals at the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York who were responsible for these agreements ought to be fired for cause and then hauled before a tribunal at which they're subject to an enquiry into violations of their professional responsibilities as prosecutors and as attorneys--full stop.

I can hardly believe that I have to explain such stuff as this!! Are people really this fucking clueless about the rights to freedom of the press and journalism law!? Seriously?!



"McDougal makes a deal with Pecker with AMI to get her story about an affair with Trump out."

That's her right and her business if she wants to.

"She does not make a deal with Trump" ...

See above.

(Trump) "--who learning of it (probably through Pecker) conspires with Pecker via his lawyer Cohen to suppress the story"

Again: this is LEGAL!!

..."while at the same time using the payment to force her into silence."

BULLSHIT. You tell us in the very next line of this cockamamie fable of yours that,

"Trump through Pecker buys her off -- that suggests a payment; I suppose that she accepted that payment--as she had a right to do. Where's your "force," then?

Here? : ... "with the fraud that her story will come out."

What 'fraud' is that? Her story did in fact 'come out', FFS!

"Trump is in all probability in on it all"

And so what if he was!? There's nothing illegal about a sexual Don Juan paying off some Bimbo with whom he's been screwing around so that their escapades remain unknown to the general public. This is of course a kind of conspiracy--after all, every extra-marital affair involves one (or more). But it isn't (thank goodness) an an illegal conspiracy.

"---but he'll probably have a day in court to show that he wasn't."

Actually, he's in no need of a day in court to show that since he has nothing legally to answer for in this matter.

"So.....we'll see....but it looks pretty damning."

Only if, Puritanical you, you damn people for adultery. Well, do you?!? Because that's ALL you and that fucking creepy loose-cannon, Mueller, have.

"So there is a campaign violation,"


... "a conspiracy"

BULLSHIT (as far as criminal law is concerned).

... and a fraud.


"And at least this part of it appears to have nothing at all to do with the Russians."

Well, what do you know!? You actually got something right!

Edited: Dec 31, 2018, 9:14am Top

#99--you don't have to like my psts on this. That's up to you but these are the accusations that SDNY apparently might go forward with and these have often been commented on by Andrew Napolitano--the legal expert at Fox News (Trump's 24/7 news channel of choice) who finds them very credible. Maybe you might head over to youtube and look at some of those clips.

I'll help you out. This one is from several months ago but there have at least been several others since.


Edited: Jan 2, 6:09am Top

>100 lriley:

RE: ... "you don't have to like my posts on this. That's up to you"...

"Like" or "dislike" are really beside the point here.

I'm asking that you state things clearly and explain yourself. I've argued above that nothing you've put out so far is reasonably arguable as the basis for a criminal charge and a trial on the charge --at least as far as Trump or the press are concerned. Moreover, just because Cohen--despite his being a lawyer--cops a plea, this is not in and of itself proof that he's actually legally guilty of having committed a crime. Cohen, for all I know, is a dumb-shit who stupidly and needlessly signed off on a plea-bargain concerning charges which, had they been taken to trial, would have fallen flat and resulted in his being found not guilty.

... "these are the accusations that SDNY apparently might go forward with"...

They don't call it "trying a case" for nothing. Prosecutors go into court all the time with claims, allegations of criminal acts, briefs, outlines of evidence, arguments--and they assemble it in a form they hope should persuade a judge and, sometimes, a jury, that they're not just full of shit. But sometimes they are full of shit and their pleadings get thrown out, rejected, smacked down.

You're "punting" things into Andrew Napolitano's 'court' of punditry at FOX News as though he's some sort of oracle.

Tell me, going to the statute books--this isn't that hard-- the U.S. Criminal code-- just tell me which part(s) of the chapters, from to 123, you assert that Trump is liable to be prosecuted for having violated.

In the case of fraud, generally, you face meeting these criteria:

While the exact wording of fraud charges varies among state and federal laws. the essential elements needed to prove a fraud claim in general include:

(1) a misrepresentation of a material fact;
(2) by a person or entity who knows or believes it to be false;
(3) to a person or entity who justifiably relies on the misrepresentation; and
(4) actual injury or loss resulting from his or her reliance.

So, apply these and tell us: what is Trump supposed to have done--or conspired to have done?

Which statute(s) is Trump supposed to have violated?

Cite them. A prosecutor would have to do this as the most elemental part of his court filings. The court--and the defendant!-- want to know: what are the charges against the defendant?

So, what the fuck are they!? Mueller has been at this with a full staff and at the expense of MILLIONS of dollars for more than TWO YEARS! What the fuck are the charges!? and how do they relate to Trump?

Jan 2, 6:44am Top

All will be revealed.

Edited: Jan 2, 7:49am Top

>102 margd:

"All will be revealed."

The oracle has spoken--- con-artist mumbo-jumbo bullshit.

We are building a religion
We are building it bigger
We are widening the corridors
And adding more lanes

We are building a religion
A limited edition
We are now accepting callers
for these pendant key chains

To resist it is useless
It is useless to resist it
His cigarette is burning
But he never seems to ash

He is grooming his poodle
He is living Comfort Eagle
You can meet at his location
But you better come with cash

Now his hat is on backwards
He can show you his tattoos
He is in the music business
He is calling you "DUDE!"

Now 'today' is 'tomorrow'
And 'tomorrow' 'today'
And yesterday is weaving in and out

And the fluffy white lines
That the airplane leaves behind
Are drifting right in front
of the waning of the moon

He is handling the money
He's serving the food
He knows about your party
He is calling you "dude!"

Now do you believe
In the one big sign
The double-wide shine
On the boot-heels of your prime

Doesn't matter if you're skinny
Doesn't matter if you're fat
You can dress up like a sultan
In your onion-head hat

We are building a religion
We are making a brand
We're the only ones to turn to
When your castles turn to sand

Take a bite of this apple
Mr. 'Corporate-Events'
Take a walk through the jungle
Of cardboard shanties and tents

Some people drink Pepsi
Some people drink Coke
The wacky morning DJ
Says domocracy's a joke

He says now do you believe
In the one big song
He's now accepting callers
Who would like to sing along

She says, do you believe
In the one true edge
By fastening your safety belts
And stepping towards the ledge

He is handling the money
He is serving the food
He is now accepting callers
He is calling me "dude!"

Now do you believe
In the one big sign
The double-wide shine
On the boot-heels of your prime

There's no need to ask directions
If you ever lose your mind
We're behind you
We're behind you
And let us please remind you
We can send a car to find you
If you ever lose your way

We are building a religion

We are building it bigger

We are building

A religion

A limited


We are now accepting callers...
For these beautiful...
Pendant keychains

(Photo source/credit : CHUNG SUNG-JUN/GETTY IMAGES )

Edited: Jan 2, 9:25am Top

#101--explain myself? You are so funny sometimes. I'd actually like for you to explain Trump to the rest of us really. What do you think of his shutdown?--for instance.

But anyway the Feds are after Trump and not just Mueller. The incoming NYS Attorney General will be hot on his heels too and the Democratic congress will be sorting through and investigating all sorts of his horseshit too. There isn't going to be less of it--there's going to be more and Napolitano has been explaining on Fox News exactly what that's all about and he takes it very seriously or at least a lot more seriously than you do and your 'well a publisher not publishing an article is not a crime' argument (deliberately?) misses the entire point of whether there was fraud or a conspiracy or campaign finance violations and what Trump knew?--well we know there's at least one audio tape where he seems to very clearly understand at least some of it. I know you're not thick but for some reason you choose to ignore all that anyway. What the fuck's up with that? Maybe you should explain yourself. It's not all about Russians--nor is it all about what David Pecker suppresses in his shit newspaper. We haven't even seen what the deal with Trump's CFO is yet--meanwhile and coincidentally Manafort, Cohen and Flynn etc. are all headed to prison. Does it piss you off? Is it all bullshit?

Jan 2, 10:13am Top

A Holiday Mystery: Why Did John Roberts Intervene in the Mueller Probe?
NELSON W. CUNNINGHAM | December 30, 2018

We’re about to find out why the chief justice of the Supreme Court decided to get involved in the special counsel’s investigation.

...the party litigating against the government: not Trump, but an unnamed corporation (“the Corporation”) owned by an unnamed foreign state (“Country A”). Although the case is still plenty mysterious (What foreign state? What records of what transactions? Why the hard-fought litigation?)...

...The chief justice of the United States himself issued an order on a Sunday (before Christmas), in this very case. If you think that’s highly unusual, you’re right. And the action he took was equally unusual. At least for the moment calling into question the unanimous decisions of the courts below, the chief justice blocked the District Court’s order requiring the foreign corporation to comply with the grand jury subpoena, until the government’s lawyers could respond to the Corporation’s briefings.

...Mueller’s office filed its submission early, on Friday evening (before New Year's Day)...


Jan 2, 10:31am Top

A Russian bank gave Marine Le Pen’s party a loan. Then weird things began happening.
Paul Sonne | December 27, 2018

PARIS — When French politician Marine Le Pen needed cash for her far-right party, an obscure Russian bank agreed to help.

Four years later, the bank has gone bust. The owner is facing a warrant for his arrest. Former Russian military officers are demanding money. And the party’s treasurer is sending off some $165,000 every few months to a woman in Moscow, unsure of where the payments ultimately will go.

The money failed to deliver Le Pen the French presidency in last year’s election, denying the Kremlin a powerful ally in the heart of Europe. Instead, the 9.4 million-euro loan, then worth $12.2 million, dragged her party into the shadowy underworld of Russian cross-border finance, putting it in league with people accused of having ties to Russian organized crime, money laundering and military operations.

...how it works. After Putin sets out the vision, agents inside and outside the government begin executing it, hoping to score points with him if their gambits succeed.

The money is also perhaps the best evidence in recent years that Russian influence operations abroad involve not only Internet trolling and military adventurism but secretive financing as well.

...As the case unfolds in Russia’s courts, the loan has become a cautionary episode for recipients of Russian backing abroad and a case study for officials in Washington and Brussels looking to understand how Russian influence-peddlers wield financial power.

...Mark Galeotti, an expert in Russian security affairs and a fellow at the European University Institute in Florence...said Russia is now more likely to use smaller amounts of untraceable “black cash” in financial influence operations.

The story of the loan agreement again demonstrates how Russia is not the “kind of ruthlessly disciplined, lockstep state” many have imagined, Galeotti added.

“Most of these things are experimental,” he said. “The Russians have no standard playbook. They just try things and see what works.”


Edited: Jan 2, 10:47am Top

"Why are beautiful looking Ukrainians willing to leave their country and spend their future with an almost complete stranger?"

Just once, I check out a site reported to be that of a Russian bot, and now I'm being baited with beautiful Ukrainians...
And so it begins. :D

Edited: Jan 3, 5:41am Top

>104 lriley:

Various, in no particular order:

"What do you think of his shutdown?"

"His" shutdown? You refer of course to the stand-off now playing out between Congressional Democrats and the Trump White House--most or all of which is beside the point here. I guess that's why you brought it up. Challenged, you couldn't cite a single violation of criminal law; so, cue the shut-down and label it "Trump's" for good measure. Do you even hear yourself? Others do.

..."Napolitano has been explaining on Fox News exactly what that's all about and he takes it very seriously or at least a lot more seriously than you do" ...

I take seriously what is actually serious-- an example being the use of prosecutorial threats and intimidation to wring "confessions" regarding spurious ideas of election-manipulation from publishers! people whose business it is to try and influence potential-voters' opinions. That's very serious; but you lack the sense to understand this even when it's pointed out to you patiently and clearly.

"It's not all about Russians--nor is it all about what David Pecker suppresses in his shit newspaper. "

Funny-- you raised this as a significant example as though it was somehow illustrative and important. I argued that it's neither. So, now it's "David Pecker" and "his shit newspaper"; now, it seems, you don't care much about it after all. So, which is it?--or do you--as some prosecutors seem willing to do--just throw shit randomly at a wall and wait to see if any of it "sticks"?

"But anyway the Feds are after Trump and not just Mueller. The incoming NYS Attorney General will be hot on his heels too and the Democratic congress will be sorting through and investigating all sorts of his horseshit too. There isn't going to be less of it--there's going to be more"...

Right. Vendettas and witch-hunts are just like that. So what? Let them come! If they're anything like Mueller, they'll waste years of effort and millions of tax-payers' dollars to come up with the equivalent of parking violations--done by junior Trump staffers in their earlier careers.

None of that makes the witch-hunt any the more respectable. You seem to think this claim of yours of a growing and quickening pace in the pursuit is somehow indicative of either something substantive or redeeming behind the cultish fervor but, when challenged to show why a respectable person ought to be persuaded, you come back with empty bluster, hand-waving and suggestions that I turn to see what Napolitano has to say about things on FOX news.

... "misses the entire point of whether there was fraud or a conspiracy or campaign finance violations and what Trump knew?" ...

Is that a question posed to me? There's a "?" on the end of it.

What's your question there?

And, about that "entire point" of "whether there was fraud or conspiracy or campaign finance violations" , yes, which laws are you implying were violated as you take a free pass on having to specify these violations? Hmm?

"well we know there's at least one audio tape where he seems to very clearly understand at least some of it."

There is? Why "seems to"? Aren't you sure about it? Is that going to be the U.S. attorney's argument?

"Your honor, the prosecution introduces "Exhibit (n)", a tape-recording of "Person of interest (N)". where P-o-I N seems to very clearly understand at least some of it."

Would that concern the legal payments to Playboy model Karen MacDougal * for her voluntary agreement to refrain from disclosing publicly the details of an alleged clandestine passing sexual encounter with Trump? or the legal payments by a tabloid newspaper for her exclusive story? Those payments?

"What the fuck's up with that? Maybe you should explain yourself."

Okay. I explain it this way: Where's the "Beef"? Hmm?

which parts of 18 U.S.C. are being violated in your scenario? and why?

-- were the payments either ultimately campaign contributions or ultimately taken from, paid from, campaign resources? Proofs of this would be your "side's" legal burden to bear --or should we just dispense with trial on real evidence and proceed to the impeachment of Trump on your firm conviction that there must be "fire" where you and other fanatics imagine "smoke"?

Tell us: which chapters and sub-sections of 18 U.S.C. are concerned? You cite none.

... "meanwhile and coincidentally Manafort, Cohen and Flynn etc. are all headed to prison. Does it piss you off? Is it all bullshit?

Well, from what I've seen of it, some of it is, indeed, Bullshit. That they're headed to prison only "pisses me off" if they were "rail-roaded" by unscrupulous zealots in the U.S. attorney's office to send them there. Otherwise, no it doesn't piss me off. But much (and perhaps ALL) about it on the Mueller/U.S. attorney side strikes me as sheer bullshit, yes.

The Flynn plea-deal, for example, issues from what appears to me to have been a shameless and barely-disguised effort at illegal entrapment; one in which Flynn, I gather, was deliberately spooked--I guess-- by prosecutors' threats and the visions they presented to him of his son's potential legal liabilities. Fearing such a scenario, it seems to me that Flynn was induced to needlessly accept a plea-deal in return for what I suspect was never ever going to come to pass in the first place: criminal charges against the younger Flynn--for exactly what I don't even know. (And all of that was sheer prosecutorial "fore-play" since the U.S. Attorneys didn't really give a fuck about what they'd entrapped Flynn to erroneously recall. They merely wanted some grist to use (rather, to abuse) later in attempts against Trump. He won't "roll" as easily.

So, what I've learned from you is that, when asked to specify a single criminal count against Trump backed up by 18 U.S.C. chapters on actual criminal offenses, you can't come up with a single one. Not one. (And I showed you where to look!)


"I'd actually like for you to explain Trump to the rest of us really"

Plenty of smart people have worked assiduously over the past three years explaining Trump's running circles around his political opponents (in both of the so-called "two" main parties) making them look like fucking morons. His political "instincts" are simply clearer, sharper, than theirs. Meanwhile, the top Democratic party leadership has learned fuck-all from all that patient effort of explanation and, instead, has doubled down on their idiotic and losing insular, greedy and corrupt habits--basically knocking themselves out showing Trump to have been correct in so many of his criticisms of them.

The most important practical effect of the Trump candidacy and election to the presidency is that it provided genuine, sincere, Leftists the rare opportunity to actually and effectively vote against this creepy shit-storm duopoly of "Repub-lo-crat" anti-partisan electoral politics since, as long as the Pelosi-Schumer/McConnell-Ryan sham went on, there was simply no effective means at all to cast a meaningful vote against an entrenched corrupt system. Trump's candidacy changed that. he helped get rid of numerous of the worst elements of this nightmarish cesspool--the Clinton planned-political-dynasty and the budding Obama version of that same kind of shit.

You still haven't the first idea of the favor which Trump-voters have done for you. No idea at all. That's both pathetic and amazing. But in the brain-dead Democratic party 'leadership' this is the default case: incapacity to learn from the bleeding obvious.

* https://edition.cnn.com/2018/07/25/politics/audio-expert-trump-cohen-tape/index.html

Jan 4, 1:07pm Top

House Democrats unveil bill targeting Trump on tax returns and transparency
Mike DeBonis | January 4, 2018

House Democrats are set to pursue legislation that squarely targets President Trump by requiring presidential candidates to disclose 10 years of tax returns, mandating more transparency for presidential inaugural and transition committees and tightening White House ethics standards.

Those provisions are only a small part of a broad reform bill — to be titled the “For the People Act” — that encompasses campaign finance, election integrity and security, congressional ethics and more. But they are clear signals that Democrats intend to take an aggressive approach to Trump and his administration...


Jan 5, 6:06am Top

>109 margd:


"How much are you worth, Nancy?"

"We're not talking about that."


(from Zero-Hedge) Nancy Pelosi Caught Off Guard By Heckler: "How Much Are You Worth Nancy?"
by Tyler Durden | Tue, 02/20/2018 - 22:48

Edited: Jan 5, 7:36am Top

Your point?

How Nancy Pelosi Has Earned Millions as She’s Confirmed as Speaker of the House Once More
Stephanie Asymkos | Jan 3, 2018

...financial disclosures provided to Congress reveals a broad range of potential values for Pelosi and her husband’s combined net worth. Reporting assets with a range of values from $20.3 million and $89.1 million — and debts of $17 million to $79.1 million — the couple could be anywhere from nearly $60 million in debt to over $70 million in the black.

But congressional news site Roll Call pegs her net worth at $16 million — good for the 30th-richest member of the 115th Congress.

Pelosi’s past annual salary as minority leader was $193,400. This time, in her resumed role as speaker, she’ll get a raise to $223,500. The majority of her wealth is attributed to the success of her venture capitalist and real estate tycoon husband of 55 years, Paul Pelosi. His firm, Financial Leasing Services, has a track record of wise investments in companies like Facebook, Apple and Disney.

Among the couple’s shared properties are an estate and vineyard in Northern California’s stunning wine country estimated to be between $5 million and $25 million, and the couple sold their California ski home for $1.53 million in 2016.



Personal Financial Disclosures - LegiStorm

All members of Congress and certain key staffers must file financial disclosures. We allow you to see images of the original disclosures with a variety of financial information that might identify possible conflicts of interest with their official duties. Read more about Personal Financial Disclosures...

Edited: Jan 8, 8:43am Top

Originally posted and edited 5 January, 2019
(B) Additions on 8 January, 2019

>111 margd: : "Your point?"

She's a hypocrite. And, as a hypocrite, she strikes me as one of the most insufferable I've ever come across. Her public pronouncements are so disgustingly hypocritical that just listening to her makes my skin crawl. I much prefer Trump's manner of stating his mind even when it shocks--at least they pretend to be shocked--others. Trump doesn't try to present himself as a moral model; his selfish ambitions are on open display. Pelosi's are far worse because she, unlike Trump, is so utterly and disgustingly two-faced about them.


(B) -- Updated 08/01/2019 as follows:

(From "The Daily Wire) "Nancy Pelosi Says 'A Wall Is An Immorality.' James Woods Asks The Perfect Question." | By AMANDA PRESTIGIACOMO
@AMANDAPRESTO || January 7, 2019 || 196.5k views

"Reacting to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi's anti-Trump and anti-wall speech last week, successful actor and outspoken conservative James Woods asked the Democrat one simple question: 'Why do you have a wall around your property, then?'

"Like many politicians, Pelosi apparently lives by a set of politically-expedient double standards. Though she has repeatedly slammed President Donald Trump for his goal of funding a wall at the Southern border, calling it an "immorality," she's perfectly fine with securing her own property.

" 'The fact is, a wall is an immorality. It's not who we are as a nation,' Pelosi told a crowd of reporters Thursday. 'We are not doing a wall. Does anybody have any doubt? We are not doing a wall,' she added."

(Emphasis added)


"Pelosi grilled for not releasing her own tax returns"
By TARINI PARTI | 07/19/2012 12:19 PM EDT |

"The focus of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s weekly press conference shifted quickly Thursday morning from tax cuts for the middle class to her own tax returns.

"Reporters grilled the California Democrat about a recent McClatchy report that said only 17 of the 535 members of Congress released their tax returns in response to requests by the news organization. Pelosi, who has repeatedly called out Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney for not disclosing more of his tax returns, was not one of the 17.

“ 'That is the custom for the people running for president,' Pelosi said. 'I think it’s the relationship between the people running for president and the American people. It’s a decision that the candidate has to make.'

"Pelosi insisted the standard is different for candidates for Congress.

“ 'Let’s not be silly,' she said. 'A person is running for the president of the United States. His party is calling on him to release his returns.'

" 'When I run for president of the United States, you can hold me to that standard,' she added.

"Pelosi said Romney's refusal to release more returns means he must have something to hide. His posture, though, is benefiting President Barack Obama, the minority leader said."

... ...

(emphasis added)

Notice how Pelosi's position has evolved:

Above, she says that tax-disclosure--which I favor for all elected officials--is " the custom for the people running for president," ....

So, in July, 2012,, it's still just a "custom". And customs can be adopted or not, according to one's own preferences about them. They're not obligatory.

She states that discretionary aspect more directly when she continues, saying, "It’s a decision that the candidate has to make."

That was six and a half years ago.

Now she wants to make such tax-disclosures mandatory by law, but, again, for presidential candidates; but she and her congressional colleagues would be exempt from that requirement.

How convenient for her, How hypocritical of her.

(emphasis added)


From Roll Call (Washington, D.C.)
" Lawmakers Want Trump’s Tax Returns, but Won’t Release Their Own" |
Only a handful willing to release documents to Roll Call | Posted Jun 26, 2017 1:06 PM
by Stephanie Akin

"Rep. Ben Ray Luján — like many in Congress — wants President Donald Trump to release his tax returns.

" 'Transparency, the New Mexico Democrat said recently in a Facebook post, 'is a cornerstone of democracy.'

"But he doesn’t want to release his own tax returns. And that puts him in good company on both sides of the aisle.

"Roll Call sent a request to all of the nation’s senators and representatives — more than 500 in all — to release their tax returns. Only 37 responded, and of those, six provided the documents.
("Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. | Not released/no response")

"The written requests were sent at least three times over a period of several weeks, starting in April, to each lawmaker and key staff members.

"Roll Call sought returns from the 2015 and 2016 tax years to accommodate members who have asked for extensions.

"Roll Call reviewed public documents and media reports to determine lawmakers’ positions on the release of Trump’s tax returns. At least 237 lawmakers have called on the president to produce his returns.

The review, which can be viewed in full here, also sought to identify lawmakers who had released all or part of their own returns. It identified an additional 43 lawmakers in the House and the Senate who had released returns or allowed reporters to review them.


( emphasis added )

Jan 5, 9:39am Top

You wrote, (>111 margd:) "But congressional news site Roll Call pegs her net worth at $16 million — good for the 30th-richest member of the 115th Congress."

Yeah? Well, according to their website at OpenSecrets.org, the Center for Responsive Politics (CRP) estimates her net worth for that same 115th Congress to have been $100,643,521 (U.S.), making her the sixth wealthiest member of Congress, not the 30th, as you claimed.

The Center (CRP) data show her estimated net worth-- from 2006 to 2016--never to have fallen below 31.38M (USD) (in 2008).

Here, to set your erroneous record straight:

2006 : 38.54 Million (USD)

2007 : 48.22 M. USD

2008 : 31.38 M. USD

2009 : 58.44 M. USD

2010 : 101.12 M. USD

2011 : 93.99 M. USD

2012 : 88.00 M. USD

2013 : 100.86 M. USD

2014 : 101.27 M. USD

2015 : 100.64 M. USD

2016 : 58.41 M. USD

Edited: Jan 5, 11:28am Top

People who refer to older woman politician as "ugly bitch" have no credibility on the subject of Nancy Pelosi. Period.

Jan 6, 4:11pm Top

>110 proximity1: With the stock market bouncing around like a rubber ball it may just be hard for her, not having talked to her financial manager in the past five minutes.

>112 proximity1: I much prefer Trump's manner of stating his mind even when it shocks or even when it is out and out wrong or a lie.

Edited: Jan 7, 6:46am Top

>115 mamzel: "I much prefer Trump's manner of stating his mind even when it shocks" -- or even when it is out and out wrong or a lie.

Yes!, that's damn right!

"Mon Dieu, gardez-moi de mes 'amis.' Quant à mes ennemis, je m'en charge !"

Or, similarly,

"Seigneur, mon Dieu ! délivrez-moi de mes amis; — quant à mes ennemis, je m'en charge."

atrributed to François-Marie Arouet, a.k.a. "Voltaire" (a pen-name).

Trump's lies are, with few if any exceptions, so preposterous, so absurd, as to be often simply amusing--when, their contexts examined carefully, they don't in fact have much more than a grain of factual accuracy in them which his detractors are simply far too dishonest (with themselves as well as with others) to ever even consider, much less openly admit.

Pelosi's lies are, on the other hand, brutally vicious and devastating because

they're believed by people who think they're quite astute,

because they wreck havoc on millions of people who are in no position to defend themselves from the harms inflicted on them--through the idiotic acceptance of Pelosi's lies,

and, especially because, in spewing her lies, Pelosi stands where otherwise someone with something in genuinely useful and progressive political principles and courageous fighting-spirit might stand. There is no sane reason in based in practical human affairs or political history to expect that, if it only were not for Trump, there's be such a desirable Left-wing political fighter in his place.

Here is the main difference--and you and so many others somehow just cannot grasp this:

Comparing Trump's evils and Pelosi's, Trump is a 'nightmare' from which one can awaken, terrified but relieved to have returned to a relatively safer waking state. Pelosi is a nightmare from which one cannot successfully wake. Instead, one wakes to find oneself in a real, waking, state that is fully as terrible as the dream; and she and people like her, including, especially, those who enable her vicious power-hunger--they are responsible for that waking nightmare.

I am very tired of labouring to get this point across to people who are so bloody blind to it.

Jan 7, 12:43pm Top

Salvator Mundi
Zev Shale | January 2, 2019 by v

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman appears to have ‘lost’ the world’s most expensive painting. The Leonardo da Vinci masterpiece, Salvator Mundi, may hold the key to the Trump-Russia investigation. And, the artwork itself could be evidence of collusion.

Leonardo da Vinci’s ‘last’ masterpiece was to be unveiled on September 18 at the spellbinding new Louvre in Abu Dhabi, but the exhibit was put on a temporary hold, amid rumours the painting was lost.

The art world has become increasingly alarmed. After all, Salvator Mundi is the most expensive artwork ever sold. “Nobody outside the immediate Arab hierarchy knows where it is,” Da Vinci scholar Martin Kemp told The Times.

Questions are being raised. First, why did the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, an art novice, buy the masterpiece? Secondly, why did he overpay for it by $300 million? Even for the stupendously wealthy Prince Mohammed bin Salman, that’s not just a simple rounding error. How do you misplace a $450 million painting anyway?

We can also reveal Special Counsel Robert Mueller is investigating both the buyer and the seller of the Da Vinci masterpiece as part of the Trump-Russia investigation.

All the intrigue suits Salvator Mundi’s already storied past well, but as I write this, no-one has seen the rare masterpiece in over a year, and its exact whereabouts have been unknown for over 100 days.

...The entire affair supports the new prevailing theory about the direction of the Mueller investigation.

Up until now, Robert Mueller’s focus has been squarely on Russian collusion but as citizens from other countries are implicated, it seems the Special Counsel has widened his purview from just collusion with Russia, to collusion with a multi-nation alliance of at least four countries including Russia, Saudi Arabia, The United Arab Emirates and Israel.

Gregg Smith, the former CEO of Prince’s Frontier Services Group told me this week he believes “the Israelis, Emiratis and Saudis all had a role and Erik Prince was Steve Bannon’s conduit to them.”

There can be no certainty when the game is subterfuge, and we need to wait for Mueller’s final report before we reach any conclusions, but if Leonardo’s Salvator Mundi proves to be a key which helps unlock Trump-Russia, “Savior of the World” could prove to be nothing short of prophetic.


Jan 7, 1:14pm Top

>117 margd: Now THAT is a plot twist worthy of Hollywood, eh?

Edited: Jan 8, 10:41am Top

Actor JAMES WOODS Asks Speaker Nancy Pelosi : "Why do you have one ((i.e. 'a wall') around your property) then?"


(From "The Daily Wire) "Nancy Pelosi Says 'A Wall Is An Immorality.' James Woods Asks The Perfect Question." | By AMANDA PRESTIGIACOMO || @AMANDAPRESTO || January 7, 2019 || 196.5k views

"Reacting to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi's anti-Trump and anti-wall speech last week, successful actor and outspoken conservative James Woods asked the Democrat one simple question: 'Why do you have a wall around your property, then?'

"Like many politicians, Pelosi apparently lives by a set of politically-expedient double standards. Though she has repeatedly slammed President Donald Trump for his goal of funding a wall at the Southern border, calling it an "immorality," she's perfectly fine with securing her own property.

" 'The fact is, a wall is an immorality. It's not who we are as a nation,' Pelosi told a crowd of reporters Thursday. 'We are not doing a wall. Does anybody have any doubt? We are not doing a wall,' she added."
... ...

(Emphasis added) Full text of the news article at the hyperlinked site.

It's argued that, in fact, the Napa Valley vinyard owned by the Pelosis isn't germane to the matter of a hypocrite who denounces Trump's border-wall-building-ambitions while, herself, living behind walls and gates -- first, because the wall around the vinyard property is not that high and doesn't serve as a very secure barrier to unauthorized entry and, more to the point, second, because the Pelosis don't typically live there or spend a lot of their time their.

Instead, we're told, their San Francisco residence doesn't have walls or gates--nothing of the sort of barrier which would keep unwanted, unauthorized passers-by from getting right to their door, I suppose--isn't that right?

Pelosi's defenders even post this image of the residence:

and, indeed, from this photo, the place doesn't appear all that secure.

But judge that matter for yourself by checking Google Maps street-views for the address at 2640 BROADWAY, SAN FRANCISCO, CA 94123.

Using Google Maps, you can see that, indeed, the property does have an outer-wall exterior and what seems to be a barrier gate which passers-by would have to get through before they were up to the residence's entry door.

Whether one approaches by walking uphill along Broadway and takes the brick-steps up to a tree-and-shrub-landscaped doorway just under the first-and-second-floor bay windows or one turns to the right, on Normandie Street and looks for an entry by the side or the back of the same building, one encounters closed gates which bar entry or access to the building's doors beyond; but frankly, behind all the tree-and-shrub landscaping on the Broadway side of the building, it's not at all easy to tell whether or not that metal-rail fence bordering the entry-walk has a gate between the walkway and the front-door's porch.

But you may prefer to visit Nancy's Washington, D.C.-area residence. Where, exactly, that is I cannot tell you. But we can get a "ball-park" idea of its locale from this story of March 7, 2016 by reporter Alex Gangitano:

(from Roll Call the Washington, D.C. journal) (Politics) “Speakers of the House -- Where They Lived”

The story features a map (see below) with numbered references. Number "23" (to the extreme RIGHT) on the map roughly indicates where Speaker Pelosi has "stayed"--whatever that means.

In looking around this part of town for residences which could suit a high-ranking Congresswoman whose worth is something in the neighborhood of $100M (USD), the place that strikes me as most likely fitting the description in the article as "Georgetown Waterfront " would be the Flour Mill Condominiums, at 1015 33rd St NW, Washington, D.C. 20007.

I'll let the reader decide for himself if this is his idea of an "open-borders"-type residence.


See alsio:

For San Francisco: City of San Francisco Property Information Map : http://propertymap.sfplanning.org/?pub=true

For Washington, D.C.'s Flour Mill luxury condos and penthouses near the Georgetown Waterfront : https://www.lifeatthetop.com/condo/flourmill

Edited: Jan 8, 11:10am Top

If I were N.P. I would have a giant wall around my house, plus armed guards. Thanks to the gop and fuck noise network millions of assholes hate Pelosi like she were Satan himself. Some dumbshits apparently don't understand that N.P. doesn't fear illegals but rather citizen rednecks too god damn retarded to walk and drink beer at the same time.

In contrast to her situation the illegals crossing the southern border don't hate the U.S., they look at it as heaven. Apparently from reports I have heard illegals have a lower crime rate than our own citizens. Makes sense - they are looking for jobs and paychecks.

Sorry to hear James Woods is a giant asshole in real life - I had appreciated his acting. Now he is acting like a stupid dick as he apparently doesn't understand the meaning of the word hypocrisy nor does he understand simple logic, i.e., how this thing is not like the other thing.

Jan 8, 11:21am Top

>120 JGL53:

Nancy Pelosi does have armed body-guards protecting her. So the depth or height of the walls behind which she lives isn't so urgent a matter. She also has a limousine-driver to pick her up at home and drive her the short distance to her office and anywhere else she needs or wants to go.

She lives in a hermetically-sealed bubble. That's why she knows next-to-nothing about the lifestyles of the people from which she's continuously shielded and separated. Women in politics--every bit as bad as the worst of the men who similarly served themselves before, during and, beyond that day when she finally leaves her sinecure, since her time.

Edited: Jan 8, 12:52pm Top

Veselnitskaya, Russian in Trump Tower Meeting, Is Charged in Case That Shows Kremlin Ties
Benjamin Weiser | Jan. 8, 2019

...Natalia V. Veselnitskaya, the Russian lawyer who in 2016 met with Trump campaign officials in Trump Tower, was charged...was charged by federal prosecutors in New York with seeking to thwart an earlier Justice Department investigation into money laundering that involved an influential Russian businessman and his investment firm.

The money-laundering case was not directly related to the Trump Tower meeting. But a federal indictment returned in Manhattan seemed to confirm that Ms. Veselnitskaya had deep ties to senior Russian government officials.

...Ms. Veselnitskaya, 43, is believed to be in Russia, according to the United States attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York, which moved to unseal the indictment on Tuesday. The office gave no indication that it expected her to be sent to Manhattan to face charges.

...The new indictment again raises questions about whom Ms. Veselnitskaya was representing when she met with Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort and others at Trump Tower in Manhattan during the campaign...



Edited: Jan 8, 4:01pm Top

Paul Manafort shared 2016 polling data with Russian associate, according to court filing
Rachel Weiner, Spencer S. Hsu and Rosalind S. Helderman | January 8, 2019

Paul Manafort shared 2016 presidential campaign polling data with Konstantin Kilimnik, an associate the FBI has said has ties to Russian intelligence, according to a court filing.

The information is in a filing that appears to inadvertently include details not intended to be made public and indicates a pathway by which the Russians could have had access to Trump campaign data.

...The special counsel alleged Manafort “lied about sharing polling data with Mr. Kilimnik related to the 2016 presidential campaign,” according to the unredacted filing. The source of that data, including whether it came from the Trump campaign, is unclear.

According to the court filing, the special counsel also accused Manafort of lying about discussing a Ukrainian peace plan with Kilimnik during the 2016 camapign...


Edited: Jan 8, 5:05pm Top

Supreme Court rules against mystery corporation from ‘Country A’ fighting subpoena in Mueller investigation
Robert Barnes, Devlin Barrett and Carol D. Leonnig | January 8, 2019

The Supreme Court on Tuesday left in place a lower court order requiring an unnamed foreign-owned corporation to comply with a subpoena said to be part of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election.

The court dissolved a temporary stay that had been put in place by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. In a short order, it did not give a reason for the decision, nor did it note any dissents.

The entity that is the subject of the cloaked legal battle — known in court papers simply as a “Corporation” from “Country A” — is a foreign financial institution that was issued a subpoena by a grand jury hearing evidence in the special counsel investigation, according to two people familiar with the case.

It is thought to be the first time that an aspect of Mueller’s wide-ranging probe into Russian interference in the 2016 campaign has reached the Supreme Court...




Edited: Jan 9, 6:33am Top

>122 margd:

"The money-laundering case was not directly related to the Trump Tower meeting. But a federal indictment returned in Manhattan seemed to confirm that Ms. Veselnitskaya had deep ties to senior Russian government officials." (emphasis added)

More to the point, there is nothing here to indicate that this money-laundering case is in any manner, direct or indirect, "related to the Trump Tower meeting." In other words, this has nothing to do with Trump or with the Robert Mueller fantasy-game of "Russian collusion." In other words, your post references what amounts to nothing in the context of this thread. This "scandal" relates only to Russian people and groups.

>123 margd:

"Paul Manafort shared 2016 presidential campaign polling data with Konstantin Kilimnik, an associate the FBI has said has ties to Russian intelligence, according to a court filing."

So what? What U.S. law is liable to have been violated by that?-- supposing for a moment that it is in fact true. Where's the crime? Where's the "beef"?


When the F.B.I. personnel concerned here refer to Kilimnik's "ties to Russian intelligence," what precisely is the minimum sufficient to constitute such "ties"?*

Is Manafort supposed to have known or cared about Konstantin Kilimnik's "ties to Russian intelligence" in his decisions to have, allegedly, "shared 2016 presidential campaign polling data with Konstantin Kilimnik"? If so, why? And where is there any evidence to support that view?

"The special counsel alleged Manafort “lied about sharing polling data with Mr. Kilimnik related to the 2016 presidential campaign,” according to the unredacted filing. "

Again: what does this, if true, have to do with Trump or the Mueller fantasy-game? What U.S. law is violated by Trump in light of this?

" the special counsel also accused Manafort of lying about discussing a Ukrainian peace plan with Kilimnik during the 2016 camapign..."

Again: what does this, if true, have to do with Trump or the Mueller fantasy-game? What U.S. law is violated by Trump in light of this?


* "ties to Russian intelligence"

George H. W. Bush served from January 3, 1967 to January 3, 1971 as the U.S. House of Representatives member from Texas' 7th congressional district. Later, he was appointed and served as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations from March 1, 1971 to January 18, 1973. From January 19, 1973 to September 16, 1974, Bush was chairman of the Republican Party's National Committee--a one-day interval from one assignment to the next! Still later, Bush was appointed (by President Gerald Ford) and served as the 11th Director of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency from January 30, 1976 to January 20, 1977--just under a year.

By the F.B.I.'s criteria, as they apply it in the case of Konstantin Kilimnik, would everyone who was personally acquainted with George H. W. Bush during and after his tenure as C.I.A.-Director, be rightly said to have had "ties to U.S. intelligence"? Yes or no?

Jan 9, 9:46am Top

The fix is almost in, Senate willing...

Rod Rosenstein, who oversaw Mueller probe, leaving Justice Department
Pete Williams and Allan Smith | Jan. 9, 2019

WASHINGTON — Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who had been overseeing Robert Mueller's special counsel investigation, plans to step down within the next month, according to administration officials familiar with his thinking.

Rosenstein had long intended to serve about two years as the Justice Department's No. 2 official, these officials say. They add that this is his own plan and that he is not being forced out by the White House. That's despite the fact that he's been a frequent target of criticism from President Donald Trump's Twitter attacks on the Justice Department.

The administration officials say he plans to remain on the job until after the new attorney general is confirmed. After pushing out Jeff Sessions in November, Trump nominated William Barr to be attorney general. Barr planned to be at the Capitol on Wednesday, beginning a round of courtesy calls with senators ahead of his confirmation hearing that begins Jan. 15.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Wednesday on Fox News, "I know the deputy attorney general has always planned to roughly stay around two years. My guess is that he is making room for the new attorney general to build a team that he wants around him."

...Rosenstein had been overseeing the Mueller's investigation into possible Trump campaign collusion with Russia and obstruction of justice because Sessions recused himself due to his role in the Trump campaign. And even with the arrival of acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker, who took over the probe, Rosenstein has continued to help supervise the Mueller investigation.

If Barr is confirmed, as seems likely, he will fully take over that role. Several legal sources have said it appears that the Mueller investigation is entering its final stages. But Barr would play a key role in deciding whether and how to share Mueller's expected report with Congress and whether to make all or part of it public.


Edited: Jan 9, 12:24pm Top

>123 margd: contd. (Manafort sharing Trump polling data with Russian)

David Measer @dmeaser | 5:52 AM - 9 Jan 2019

THREAD: I'm just an advertising guy, but thought I'd put a marketing lens on the news of Manafort sharing "polling data" with a Russian operative.

Seems benign in the grand scope of everything, right? It's not.

Like politics, the goal of advertising is persuasion. And like politics, we call our efforts a campaign.

At the heart of any campaign, big or small, is data. Data about the market, people, the competition. In politics, this is called "polling." Same thing.

Data is the raw material in the battle that brands fight to win hearts and minds, and get people to choose one product over another. To vote with their wallets.

Gleaning the data is very expensive, it's labor intensive, and it takes a LOT of time.

Big companies will spend hundreds of millions on various versions of this undertaking, and employ thousands of people. The results of all this data, and the way it's sliced and diced, is kept behind firewalls, under lock & key, privileged access.

Data (polls) is one of the most valuable resources a company has.

Anyone who works for a major company knows that Big Data is the business battle of our time.

What do we do with the data? We use it to decide who to target. To position the brand as distinctive from other brands. To develop messaging and ads. To de-position and conquest the competition (and lots more).

Back to Manafort. Sharing polling data with anyone is opening a door to collaborate with them. It's allowing them to use your raw materials, your valuable resources, your manpower.

It's like arms dealing, except the weapons can't be tracked because no one knows they're explosive except for the collaborators.

Sharing polling data means you're working together. Conspiring. Making decisions together. Working to destroy the competition.

Imaging for a moment if Apple and Microsoft collaborated on pooling their data resources in an attempt to bring down Samsung...

But there's SOMETHING EVEN MORE IMPORTANT TO THE STORY. To continue the analogy, imagine that Apple and MSFT then together hacked into Samsung's servers and stole some of their proprietary data, in the form of emails about their data...

Then it'd be game over.

So, if you've got Manafort sharing valuable and proprietary data with a Russian intelligence operative, and you've got a Russian hacking operation stealing the competition's (the DNC's and the Clinton campaign's) data...then you've got it all.

Everything you need to destroy the competition.

Not so benign anymore.

You know who knows a lot about this? @KellyannePolls -- someone should ask her.


David Frum @davidfrum | 8:27 AM - 9 Jan 2019:

"NO COLLUSION!" about to morph into "Donald Trump was not personally aware at the time of his campaign manager's confessed collusion"

Jan 9, 12:26pm Top

>122 margd: contd. (Veselnitskaya, Russian in Trump Tower Meeting, Is Charged in Case That Shows Kremlin Ties)

The Veselnitskaya Obstruction Indictment: A Collusion Tale
Mikhaila Fogel, Matthew Kahn, Benjamin Wittes | January 8, 2019

...(Jaimie) Nawaday, a partner at Kelley Drye in New York, had previously worked as an assistant U.S. attorney in the Southern District of New York, where she had helped run a curious civil forfeiture case in which a Russian-owned real estate firm, Prevezon Holdings, allegedly used laundered money to acquire New York real estate. The money was believed to be the product of sham lawsuits in Russia and elsewhere; the scheme was discovered and reported by investor Bill Browder and Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky.

...As Nawaday recounted, U.S. prosecutors had submitted a request to the Russian government for records pertinent to their money laundering case against Prevezon. The Russian government responded, refusing to provide documents, asserting that there was no connection between the tax fraud scheme and the allegedly fraudulent New York real estate purchases, and suggesting that Browder should be investigated instead. What Nawaday didn’t know during her time at SDNY was that her opposing counsel in the case, a woman named Natalia Veselnitskaya, had an extensive role in preparing Russia’s response to the SDNY’s document request, and that her role was memorialized in a series of emails between Veselnitskaya and Russian officials.

...Natalia Veselnitskaya `23unds familiar, that’s because she’s the same Russian lawyer who showed up at the infamous Trump Tower meeting, at which she discussed “adoptions” with senior Trump campaign officials, having gotten the meeting by promising dirt on Hillary Clinton as part of the Russian government’s support for Trump. Whether Robert Mueller will show any kind of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia in its 2016 election interference remains to be seen. What this indictment clearly shows, assuming the government can prove its case, is that Velnitskaya was definitely colluding with Russian government actors in the Prevezon case.

Nawaday said she was first shown the aforementioned emails as part of MSNBC’s reporting for a story in April 2018 by Richard Engel about Velsnitskaya’s connection to the Kremlin. Nawaday told MSNBC she was shocked by the emails, calling them “profoundly troubling and inappropriate.” She noted that the content, if confirmed, raised “serious questions about obstruction of justice.”

...Today, the federal district court in New York unsealed an obstruction of justice indictment of Veselnitskaya for the precise conduct Nawaday described. The importance to the larger unfolding of L’Affaire Russe of the indictment, remains, at this stage, altogether unclear. The subject of the indictment is not the Trump Tower meeting, after all. The case against Veselnitskaya was also not brought by Mueller, but by prosecutors in Nawaday’s old office—suggesting that the matter may simply involve misconduct unrelated to L’Affaire Russe. Nawaday says she doesn’t know of any connection.

On the other hand, federal charges against Veselnitskaya could be powerful leverage to induce her cooperation, should she be foolish enough to travel overseas and thus end up in U.S. custody. And the story the indictment tells is, on its own terms, an interesting portrait of exactly the subject of that conference at George Mason: Russian government abuse of the U.S. legal system. It is a portrait that ties together the Russian government’s grotesque treatment of Browder, its killing of Magnitsky and its bad-faith dealings with U.S. prosecutors.

Veselnitskaya was hired to help defendants in an asset forfeiture case resulting from what the indictment describes as “an elaborate tax refund fraud scheme in which a criminal organization including corrupt Russian government officials defrauded Russian taxpayers out of … over $200 million.” In the course of her work on the Prevezon case, the indictment alleges, Veselnitskaya criminally obstructed justice by making at least two filings that falsely claimed she was not involved in drafting the Russian prosecutor-general office’s rejection of a mutual legal-assistance request for evidence related to the case.

In fact, the government alleges, Veselnitskaya directly cooperated with a senior Russian prosecutor to draft the document and then coordinated with the chief prosecutor’s office to create a paper trail to cover up her involvement, a paper trail which she submitted in evidence to the U.S. court...


Edited: Jan 9, 12:51pm Top

>127 margd:


Attention : David Measer @dmeaser

About your:

"What do we do with the data? We use it to decide who to target. To position the brand as distinctive from other brands. To develop messaging and ads. To de-position and conquest the competition (and lots more)."

( "To de-position"? (to) "conquest" "the competition"? LOL! You really are in advertizing, aren't you?! Your grammar and syntax ought to be criminal offenses!)
But they aren't.
Nor are any of these other things you mentioned crimes, per se.

... "Back to Manafort. Sharing polling data with anyone is opening a door to collaborate with them."

Not a crime....

"It's allowing them to use your raw materials," ...

Not a crime....

..."your valuable resources, your manpower."

Not a crime....

"It's like arms dealing,"...

Alas, in many forms, Not a crime....

... "except the weapons can't be tracked because no one knows they're explosive except for the collaborators."

"no one knows they're explosive except for the collaborators" Oh BULLSHIT!
& again, Not a crime....

"Sharing polling data means you're working together."

No, it doesn't necessarily mean that. Still, even if it did in a particular case,
Not a crime....

"Conspiring. Making decisions together. Working to destroy the competition."

UNLESS the conspiracy is in a criminal act, none of these are crimes. So, Not a crime....

"Imaging for a moment if Apple and Microsoft collaborated on pooling their data resources in an attempt to bring down Samsung"...

"bring down" means what? Out-compete? That would be legal. It might become illegal IF it involved deliberate FRAUD--which it doesn't necessarily do; or if it involved ILLEGAL RESTRAINT OF TRADE, or other prohibited business practices. But if none of them are involved, Apple and Microsoft could pool certain of their data toward some legal competitive ends. It really depends on the details. After all, Apple and Microsoft could, in theory, enter into confidential negotiations in an attempt to consider a MERGER. That wouldn't be illegal either; and they wouldn't be obliged to make these talks known to the business world. Until and unless they reach a deal, this is their business and no one else's. And all of it could and almost certainly would be useful in the end toward competing with Samsung. SO THE FUCK WHAT?!?!?

"But there's SOMETHING EVEN MORE IMPORTANT TO THE STORY. To continue the analogy, imagine that Apple and MSFT then together hacked into Samsung's servers and stole some of their proprietary data, in the form of emails about their data..."

Right. Theft, breaking and entering, these are crimes.

"Then it'd be game over."

Assuming, that is, that they actually did these things AND this could be legally and properly proven in court. Fine.


Otherwise, go peddle your papers. You've got ZERO evidence so far.

So, if you've got Manafort sharing valuable and proprietary data with a Russian intelligence operative,

Not so fast. No one said, let alone proved or even showed that he is or was at the time "a Russian intelligence operative."

..."and you've got a Russian hacking operation stealing the competition's (the DNC's and the Clinton campaign's) data...then you've got it all."


1) Wikileaks --which knows the provenance of the data it publishes--has made it very clear that the source(s) of its published leaked data from the DNC and Clinton campaign was not a foreign source--foreign to the U.S.. In other words, the implication is that someone with legal--though not necessarily approved (authorized) --acess to these files copied and delivered them to Wikileaks. How many times does that have to be repeated before the Trump Agonistes get it through their thick fucking skulls?

2) "if you've got"
You don't.

"Everything you need to destroy the competition."

No. You might have some tools. And they might harm the competition or they might not.

"Not so benign anymore."

Get back to us when you move from "not so benign" to "illegal under then-applicable laws, okay?


Your post's grade:

Jan 9, 1:33pm Top

Donald Trump Jr. Will Be Subpoenaed First in House Democrats’ Russia Probe
Ollie Ward | January 9, 2019

Edited: Jan 9, 4:55pm Top


...'that the campaign had a connection to Russian intelligence'.

So here is Fox News again--Shep Smith and Andrew Napolitano at 4.10 of the link discussing the revelation that was leaked by Manafort's legal team as to Manafort passing polling data off to Russian Intelligence during Trump's Presidential campaign.

Edited: Jan 10, 7:21am Top

>131 lriley:

Andrew Napolitano (A. N.) : ...the F.B.I. accused Paul Manafort of lying about whether or not he gave confidential campaign polling data at the height of the campaign to a Russian oligarch (which) the F.B.I. has identified as a source for Russian intelligence--

Shepard Smith (S. S.) : So a Putin's man (?)

A. N. -- Yes, this shows that Bob Mueller can demonstrate to a court, without the testimony of Paul Manafort, that the campaign had a connection to Russian intelligence and the connection involved information going from the campaign to the Russians. The question is, was this in return for a promise of something from the Russians and did the candidate, now the president, know about it?

S. S. : Would that be conspiracy?

A. N. : Yes, A conspiracy is an agreement to commit a crime--the crime would be to receive something of value from a foreign person or government during a campaign-- whether or not the thing of value arrives, the agreement is what is the crime-- there was apparently an agreement between the campaign manager and this Russian oligarch -- What the oligarch did with the material we gave him, who the campaign-manager Manafort spoke to in the campaign, Bob Mueller has yet to reveal --

S. S. : It's a curious lie, no?

A. N. It's ver--

S. S. -- I guess you wouldn't want to give up (i.e. reveal) that you're handing things over to Putin's man.

A. N. : Well of course not, especially in light of the president's repeated --almost ad nauseam--allegations (Sic): 'No collusion with the Russians, no collusion with the Russians--

S. S. :This is collusion--though collusion isn't a crime--this would be collusion.

A. N. The crime is conspiracy: the agreement. 'Collusion' is a non-legal term --

S. S. : No, I know, but if there's a collusion--giving stuff to the Russians about polling data--

A. N. : Would probably fit into that kind of a category--

S. S. Yeah.

A. N. Look, when Paul Manafort was convicted of his financial crimes, the president said, 'Ah, big deal--this was six years before he worked for me.' This event that has been outlined in these court papers was --occurred during the campaign, during the summer and fall, excuse me, in the Spring of 2016.

S. S. : There's a --we know there's a lot we don't know from Muelle-- we know to our knowledge and (to) all of our reporters' knowledge has not done any leaking. This is a big screw-up on Manafort's part

A. N. : Yes, yes, yes--

S. S. : And it's very revelatory--

A. N. : And such a screw-up that the Manafort people have decided not to challenge this allegation of a lie---meaning that there's not going to be a hearing about what the F.B.I. says he lied about and why he says it wasn't a lie. Which translated means? He's going to be sentenced to the maximum, not the minimum that he thought he was negotiating for when he answered his guilty-plea.

That you put such stock in this kind of geomancy-driven bilge says nothing at all flattering about your judgment. This is crap played for a gullible and fawning audience.

"A. N. The crime is conspiracy: the agreement. "

The "agreement" has to have, as an integral aspect, a criminal act. So, no,--"the agreement" isn't a crime. An agreement to commit a crime is a criminal conspiracy. An agreement to trade opinions, to share points of view, to review, analyze and discuss political campaign matters, to examine poll-data and discuss its actual or potential import, value and use---these things are all talk, also known as "speech." And, under our law, "speech"-acts, unless they are in and of themselves illegal-- a threat to harm another person, a solicitation of others to commit a crime, etc.-- are not only not crimes, they are protected under the Constitution's 1st-amendment rights.

The special-counsel's entire legal scheme here apparently hinges upon what strikes me as a very dodgy, contrived and greatly-disputable theory of campaign-finance law.

Mueller's entire gambit rests on the hoped-for conditional that a judge and a jury shall agree that such discussions, such swapping of data and analysis of it between and among, on one hand, a present, former or future campaign operative (U.S. citizen)--Paul Manafort, in this case--and, on the other hand, some foreign national or group--allegedly with (unproven, assumed, "ties" to Russian intelligence as one of its "sources")--constitutes, under the meaning of the terms of the campaign-finance law, the provision of "goods", "valuables", things of material use and value to an election campaign for public office.

What the campaign-finance laws seek to prohibit is the granting to campaigns of material goods and services which are inherently resources --things such as air-time over the public airwaves, printing materials and services, the aid in transport of people or materials, phone lines and services used directly in and by the campaign's staff---these are the kinds of things which no one, whether a U.S. national or a foreigner, can give to a campaign without their being accounted for by their monetary value and listed in the campaign's financial reports.

But to claim that the trading of ideas, mere hypothetical speculations about what various poll results might suggest or be used to support in strategy and tactics constitutes what the law seeks to define as monetarily-valuable goods-and-services of direct sale or trade for use in an election-campaign--that is a WILD reach and I think Mueller shall have his hands full trying to convince a judge and jury that this is what the U.S. campaign-finance laws are meant to prohibit and punish with fines and imprisonment--and he ought to have his hands full. It staggers my imagination that he could find a judge that stupid. It would mean that there is no such thing as "freedom of speech" where an election-campaign for public-office is concerned! Mueller ought to have his hands full selling that kind of bullshit. (Though, obviously, as this very thread (and others like it) ahows. there are some really gullible people around, only too ready to eat this shit up.)

Foreigners have, since f.o.r.e.v.e.r. freely (or in hoped-for exchange for unspecified future favors ) offered and given their personal opinions about what is good or bad campaign tactics and strategy. That's their right. Anyone, U.S. citizen or not, can offer and give free advice, counsel, strategic and tactical suggestions to an election campaign for public office. Some of it could be nothing short of ingenious, the very stuff--in reasoning--which a struggling campaign might sorely need. But that value--whether monetized or not, is irrelevant since the law protects free expression AND EXCHANGE OF IDEAS --even when they're extremely valuable.

You show no sign of having noticed the laugh-out-loud nonsense contained in this interview between A. N. and S. S. For example, didn't it strike you, as it struck me, as ridiculous that A. N. should emphasize by his vocal tone and expression "at the height of the campaign"-- ("gave confidential campaign polling data at the height of the campaign to a Russian oligarch") as though this made or could make a damn bit of difference legally. Of course, it doesn't matter a damn whether or not this, that or another act is done early in, late in, or "at the height of" an ongoing campaign. What matters is whether the act is criminal or not. When it happens is only relevant where the nature of the criminal act hinges on its place in a sequence of events; that doesn't apply here--where "height of the campaign" is no different, legally, than any other time in the course of the campaign.

I wish Mueller and his team of zealots all the luck they deserve trying to get such a bizarre and dangerously-stupid theory of campaign-finance-law criminal behavior through a trial where the judge or jury are sane, thinking, reasonable and experienced adults who know something of the real world. And that, precisely, is no luck at all. This kind of shit completely deserves its frequent description as a "witch-hunt."

To think that Mueller has made a well-paid career out of such bullshit pursuits as this is truly scandalous. He ought to be keel-hauled.

Jan 10, 8:22am Top

#132--okay, Rudy Giuliani or whoever you are---it's all just a bunch of bullshit. I'd be better off listening to your shit than anyone else's....because?....well because. You're going to be proven right and practically everyone else wrong. Mueller is just grandstanding and wasting time and money to no purpose and the the same with SDNY. Trump is clean as a whistle.

Edited: Jan 10, 10:37am Top

This message has been deleted by its author.

Edited: Jan 10, 10:09am Top

>133 lriley:

As replies go, yours are fucking pathetic. I give you good, sound reasoning concerning why Napolitano's analysis doesn't add up.

If you can understand Napolitano's views and you can understand my counter-arguments well enough to mock and dismiss them, you ought to have something more interesting than this rubbish to explain how and why my criticisms aren't valid. So, when you come back to me with nothing better than this,

"-okay, Rudy Giuliani or whoever you are---it's all just a bunch of bullshit. I'd be better off listening to your shit than anyone else's....because?....well because."

it tells me you have no counter-argument, no reasonable retort. And your lacking these apparently means nothing to you, changes nothing in your points of view.

How Konstantin Kalimnik is described---

“suspected former Russian spy”

“an individual identified as a Kremlin agent”

“ a Russian man linked to Moscow’s intelligence agencies, according to special counsel Robert Mueller”

“Person A,” has “ties to a Russian intelligence service and had such ties in 2016,”

… “ Mueller believes Kilimnik is currently in Russia and has ties to Russian intelligence” …

… “But Robert Mueller has begun to state them as fact. Or rather, in two separate fillings, he has referred to an unnamed colleague of Manafort’s, identified only as “Person A,” with “ties to Russian intelligence.” In a brief Mueller submitted to a U.S. District Court in the course of pressing his case against Manafort, he went one step further. Citing FBI special agents, the special prosecutor described Person A’s ties to Russian intelligence as “active” through the 2016 presidential election.” … (from an article in The Atlantic magazine by FRANKLIN FOER)

“A Russian man who is said to have ties to Moscow’s intelligence services”… – Peter Stone, The Guardian

What the fuck do these vague terms and phrases above even mean? They're 'weasel words' and more intelligent people know to be wary of them. You don't.


where, how, and why do we know that we have good reason to accept at face-value the (second-hand) assertion of the F.B.I.'s "conclusion" that Konstantin Kilimnik is or was "tied to" "Russian intelligence" ?

Explain that--s.l.o.w.l.y.

You can't. You just don't have that much information; and you don't seem to care to have more. You hate Trump's guts and so it's enough for you that "the F.B.I. has concluded" or "suspects" ... things about "ties" between Kalimnik and "Russian intelligence."


and, to that assertion of mine, you have nothing except mocking sarcasm--which tells me you're insecure about the validity and the grounds of the views you are holding and defending.

I never claimed that Trump is or ever was "clean as a whistle." That's a straw-man argument and, again, it suggests that you have no good arguments or grounds for your biased views and that you know this--so you're defensive.

"practically everyone else wrong."

Where questions, issues, of facts are concerned, it is VERY common for a huge, often an overwhelming, majority to be FLAT WRONG while a more careful, better reasoning minority turn out to have been correct.

"Everyone"--for months--was certain that Trump couldn't possibly win the Republican nomination. Then he did. Similarly, "everyone"--for months--was certain that Trump couldn't possibly win the presidential election (in the Electoral College, the only place that counts). Then he did. "Everyone" was wrong.

You're way, way late in developing a little well-earned and goddamned humility. You have a hell of a bad record and a hell of a nerve to mock me in these terms:

"okay, Rudy Giuliani or whoever you are---it's all just a bunch of bullshit. I'd be better off listening to your shit than anyone else's....because?....well because. You're going to be proven right and practically everyone else wrong."

With your shitty record on sorting fact from error, I'd have 'shut my fucking mouth a bit' a long time ago.

Edited: Jan 10, 12:53pm Top

For the sake of argument let us assume that proximity1 is an actual non-thinking human being and unpaid apologist for trump and trumpism - and not a russian hacker or robot.

Upon taking that leap of faith into the great unknown it is clear to me that, while Shepard Smith is gay, proximity1 is queer - as in

queer: /kwir/

(1) adjective (adjective: queer; comparative adjective: queerer; superlative adjective: queerest) -

odd, strange, unusual, funny, peculiar, curious, bizarre, weird, outlandish, eccentric, unconventional, unorthodox, uncanny, unexpected, unfamiliar, abnormal, anomalous, atypical, untypical, different, out of the ordinary, out of the way, puzzling, mystifying, mysterious, perplexing, baffling, unaccountable, incongruous, uncommon, irregular, outré, offbeat, freakish, singular, deviant, aberrant.

(2) verb - INFORMAL
queer; 3rd person present: queers; past tense: queered; past participle: queered; gerund or present participle: queering -

spoil, damage, impair, harm, be detrimental to, mar, wreck, destroy, devastate, smash, shatter, scupper, scotch, disrupt, thwart, undo, hinder, foil, ruin, blight, injure, cripple, hurt, jeopardize, endanger, imperil, threaten, put at risk, undermine, prejudice, be prejudicial to, be disadvantageous to, play havoc with, be deleterious to, compromise, informal – botch, blow, put the kibosh on.

- - - - - -

IOW, proximity1 in a nutshell.


Jan 10, 1:02pm Top

White House Intervened in Case of Trump’s Casino Pal Steve Wynn
Sam Stein, Lachlan Markay, Betsy Woodruff | 01.10.19

The move came just before the administration drafted new guidance that could have paid off for the gambling boss, and months before his resignation.

In the summer of 2017, the Trump White House asked for a meeting with a top official at the Department of Justice to discuss a sensitive legal and administrative matter involving a top Republican donor. (Workers alleged that Wynn was effectively violating the Fair Labor Standards Act by dipping into casino workers’ tips to compensate non-service employees.)

The donor, then-Republican National Committee finance chairman and casino magnate Steve Wynn, was embroiled in litigation involving Obama-era rules governing how companies could distribute tips gathered by their employees. Months after the meeting request, the Trump administration revised those rules to make them far friendlier to employers.

It is unclear why the White House made the request for the meeting with acting Solicitor General Jeff Wall, which was uncovered in a Freedom of Information Act discovery by the group American Oversight and has not been previously reported. Nor is it clear if Wall actually met with White House officials about Wynn’s case.

...Top legal officials of past administrations said it was not uncommon for White House officials to meet with the solicitor general or top DoJ officials to discuss pending business before the courts. But the email still struck legal ethicists as problematic, as it showed the Trump White House eager to keep tabs on litigation directly affecting one of the president’s highest-profile donors...

“Once there is an actual case being litigated, the norm has been that the White House stays out of it. That’s the norm. For the legal ethics point of view, the lawyers handling that case cannot allow the White House to influence their independent professional judgement on behalf of the United States,” said Stephen Gillers, an expert in legal ethics and a professor at the New York University School of Law. “A lawyer at the Department of Justice who is approached by the White House regarding a pending matter… has to refuse to discuss it. Because that discussion cannot be allowed in any way to influence or appear to influence the decision of the Department of Justice lawyer.”...


Edited: Jan 10, 4:21pm Top

Exclusive: Robert Mueller met with Trump's pollster
Sara Murray and Katelyn Polantz | January 10, 2019

Washington (CNN)Special counsel Robert Mueller sought information directly last year from one of Donald Trump's campaign pollsters who is also a former business associate of Paul Manafort's.

Mueller's team met with pollster Tony Fabrizio in February 2018, an interview that has not been previously reported and takes on new significance after Manafort's attorneys revealed Tuesday that Mueller's team is still interested in how Manafort shared polling data with his Russian intelligence-linked colleague.

...For much of the 2016 race, Trump had been famously averse to hiring pollsters. He insisted they were a waste of money and that his gut was more valuable than any poll he could commission.

But when Manafort was hired, the newly minted campaign chairman aimed to professionalize the political apparatus. As part of that effort, he recruited Fabrizio, who already had close ties to Manafort and other Trump allies, including Trump's longtime political adviser Roger Stone. But he never forged particularly close ties with the candidate, despite having done some prior work for Trump's businesses.

His relationship with Trump soured late in the election as the Trump campaign disputed a bill of roughly $767,000 to Fabrizio's polling firm. Fabrizio's firm was eventually compensated...



Brian Krassenstein @krassenstein | 11:44 AM - 10 Jan 2019:

For those who think Trump will Pardon Manafort, this makes it nearly impossible. He would be pardoning a man who broke the law by helping him win an election, likely illegitimately.


Laurence Tribe tribelaw | 1:03 PM - 10 Jan 2019:

If so, this explodes Manafort’s hope for a presidential pardon and removes any incentive for him to hold back what he knows about Trump’s knowledge of, and even complicity in, his collusion with the Kremlin via Kilimnik re trading polling data for lifting Ukraine sanctions.

Jan 11, 9:28am Top

Prosecutors Examining Ukrainians Who Flocked to Trump Inaugural
Kenneth P. Vogel, Scott Shane, Mark Mazzetti and Iuliia Mendel | Jan. 10, 2019

...Evidence of the Ukrainians’ presence eventually prompted interest from the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, as he investigated Russian interference in the 2016 election, and has spawned a number of related inquiries by federal prosecutors. The investigations are playing out against growing indications that some of the Ukrainians who came to Washington for the inaugural, or their allies, were promoting grand bargains, or “peace” plans, that aligned with Russia’s interests, including by lifting sanctions.

Such a deal would not just have given the new administration additional flexibility to bring Moscow into American diplomatic efforts in the Middle East, but could also have eased the way for a cast of characters with ties to Mr. Trump — some of whom in turn had ties to the Ukrainians who came to Washington — to move ahead on business deals that had been complicated by the sanctions.

Federal prosecutors have asked witnesses about how some of the Ukrainians gained access to inauguration events, whom they met with while they were in the United States, and what they discussed — including questions about various peace plan proposals — according to people with direct knowledge of the questions and others who were briefed on the interviews.

As recently as last month, prosecutors were asking witnesses about illegal foreign lobbying related to Ukraine. Another subject of questions has been whether foreigners from Ukraine and other countries used straw donors to disguise donations to the inaugural committee. Federal law prohibits foreigners from contributing to an inaugural committee, although they can attend events if Americans buy the tickets.

Elements of the investigations have gotten new visibility in recent weeks...


Jan 11, 8:52pm Top

In the days after President Trump fired James B. Comey as F.B.I. director, law enforcement officials became so concerned by the president’s behavior that they began investigating whether he had been working on behalf of Russia against American interests, according to former law enforcement officials and others familiar with the investigation.

The inquiry carried explosive implications. Counterintelligence investigators had to consider whether the president’s own actions constituted a possible threat to national security. Agents also sought to determine whether Mr. Trump was knowingly working for Russia or had unwittingly fallen under Moscow’s influence.

Putin's puppet or useful idiot?

Jan 12, 5:35am Top

What if the Obstruction Was the Collusion? On the New York Times’s Latest Bombshell
Benjamin Wittes | January 11, 2019

...an FBI investigation can be launched as a counterintelligence matter or it can be launched as a criminal matter, but when the bureau shows up, it shows up with all of its authorities, not just the ones associated with the particular type of investigation originally predicated. If FBI agents conducting a counterintelligence investigation find that a suspect has a kilogram of cocaine in his apartment, for example, they are empowered to make arrests under criminal authorities. People routinely describe separate cones of the Mueller investigation, a criminal cone and a counterintelligence cone; this is imagining a division significantly starker than the reality.

...Put simply, I don’t believe the FBI, having an open counterintelligence investigation (Russia interference), simply opened a new criminal investigation of obstruction in the wake of the Comey firing. I think there likely was—and still is—one umbrella investigation with a number of different threads. That one investigation was (and is) about Russia. And it had (and still has), as a subsidiary matter, a number of subsidiary files open about people on the U.S. side who had links to Russian government activity. Each of these files had (and still has) all of the counterintelligence and criminal tools available to the U.S. government at its disposal.

...What is the significance of all of this? I have two big takeaways.

First, if this analysis is correct, it mostly—though not entirely—answers the question of the legal basis of the obstruction investigation. The president’s lawyers, Barr in his memo, and any number of conservative commentators have all argued that Mueller cannot reasonably be investigating obstruction offenses based on the president’s actions within his Article II powers in firing Comey; such actions, they contend, cannot possibly violate the obstruction laws.

...Second, if it is correct that the FBI’s principle interest in obstruction was not as a discrete criminal fact pattern but as a national security threat, this significantly blurs the distinction between the obstruction and collusion aspects of the investigation. In this construction, obstruction was not a problem distinct from collusion, as has been generally imagined. Rather, in this construction, obstruction was the collusion, or least part of it. The obstruction of justice statutes become, in this understanding, merely one set of statutes investigators might think about using to deal with a national security risk—specifically, the risk of a person on the U.S. side coordinating with or supporting Russian activity by shutting down the investigation.

It was about Russia. It was always about Russia. Full stop.


Jan 14, 10:29am Top

Andrew S. Weiss @andrewsweiss | 5:19 AM - 14 Jan 2019

THREAD: Has anyone noticed the very disturbing overlap between Trump’s insistence on preventing his own staff from learning about discussions with Putin at the Hamburg G20 meeting in July 2017 and how he handled initial revelations about the infamous Trump Tower meeting? 1/

NEW: After closed door mtg with Putin, Trump took his interpreter's notes, told linguist not to reveal what had transpired to other administration officials. Pattern of concealing communications with Putin. https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/trump-has-concealed-details-of-his-face-to-face-encounters-with-putin-from-senior-officials-in-administration/2019/01/12/65f6686c-1434-11e9-b6ad-9cfd62dbb0a8_story.html

Consider the following timeline: on July 7–8, 2017,Trump attends the G-20 summit in Hamburg, Germany the site of his first face to face encounter with Putin. 2/

On the morning of July 7, 2017, the New York Times informs the White House--for the first time--that it has learned about the Trump Tower meeting between Don Jr., Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort and a Russian lawyer with Russian government connections, Natalya Veselnitskaya. 3/

The New York Times asks the White House to comment. 4/

On the afternoon of July 7, 2017, Trump and Putin, accompanied only by Rex Tillerson, Sergei Lavrov and their interpreters, meet for 2 and 1/2 hours. 5/

We now know from @gregpmiller that after the meeting Trump seizes the US interpreter’s notes and tells her not to brief senior NSC or State Department aides about the conversation with Putin. https://wapo.st/2Fyrqtt?tid=ss_tw&utm_term=.2dec17269030 … 6/

Later that evening on July 7, 2017, during the formal G20 summit dinner, Trump seeks out Putin for another conversation. Putin’s interpreter is the only other participant. 7/

The fact of this meeting is not publicly revealed until more than a week later after @ianbremmer hears about it from other G20 attendees. (The White House doesn’t officially confirm it until July 18, 2017.) http://reut.rs/2vfTTwi @steveholland1 8/

As Bremmer points out, Trump oddly doesn’t even inform his own staff afterwards that he’s had this second conversation with Putin. https://twitter.com/ianbremmer/status/1084583168152428545 … 9/

On the AF1 flight back to Washington the next day on July 8, 2017, Trump dictates the text of the now infamous, misleading statement (for Don Jr. to release) about the Trump Tower meeting. http://wapo.st/2vh7dmA?tid=ss_tw&utm_term=.c483e459eca7

Don Jr.’s statement to @nytimes emphasizes: “We primarily discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children” at the meeting with Natalia Veselnitskaya 11/

The @nytimes story about the Trump Tower meeting appears later that same day (July 8, 2017) https://nyti.ms/2uWPOMw @Jo_Becker @mattapuzzo

On July 11, 2017 the same @nytimes team breaks the story that Don Jr was told in advance that Veselnitskaya intended to provide dirt on the Hillary Clinton campaign at the behest of the Russian government. Don Jr. replies: "I love it." https://nyti.ms/2u4Ly0W 13/

On July 19, 2017 Trump repeats the false assertion that he talked to Putin about adoption in a conversation with @peterbakernyt, @nytmike and @maggieNYT https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/19/us/politics/trump-interview-transcript.html?module=inline … 14/

In the same interview, Trump also floats the idea that there was nothing inappropriate about his senior-most campaign officials meeting with foreign emissaries who wanted to help his campaign. “Who wouldn’t have taken a meeting like that?” 15/

All of this begs the question: What did Trump and Putin actually discuss at that impromptu one-on-one dinner meeting at the Hamburg G20 on July 7, 2017? 16/

Moreover, why did they huddle together by themselves within hours of the White House learning that the at-that-point-still-secret Trump Tower meeting between Trump, Jr. and the Russians was about to become public? 17/

Put another way, shortly after the New York Times reached out to the White House to ask about a secret meeting with the Russians, Trump himself sought a secret meeting with the Russians. 18/

h/t Former federal prosecutor who helped compile this timeline and series of as-yet unanswered questions END

Jan 14, 11:39am Top

>142 margd:

"On the afternoon of July 7, 2017, Trump and Putin, accompanied only by Rex Tillerson, Sergei Lavrov and their interpreters, meet for 2 and 1/2 hours. 5/"

If they chose to do so, Trump and Putin could converse privately, one to one, with no interpreters present at all. Putin is fluent in English. He has no need to speak to Trump in Russian with interpreters present--unless he prefers to.

If you're going to nurse your paranoid hysteria, wait until these men meet alone for their discussions.

Interesting that, as far as the press has seen fit to report, that has not happened. And you can bet they'd be shouting it from the rooftops if it had.

Edited: Yesterday, 7:57am Top

>143 proximity1:, see /7 in >142 margd:, confirmed below:

Natasha Bertrand @NatashaBertrand | 6:07 AM - 14 Jan 2019:

Yes, Trump discussed “adoptions” (sanctions policy) with Putin the night before dictating his son’s “adoptions” statement. There was no interpreter but he mentioned it in passing to the Times. I’ve been shouting this from the rooftops since August 2017...https://www.businessinsider.com/donald-trump-jr-statement-adoptions-putin-meeting-2017-8 …


Jan 14, 5:13pm Top

Kremlin Blessed Russia’s NRA Operation, U.S. Intel Report Says
Betsy Woodruff | 01.13.19

When Maria Butina and Alexander Torshin brought NRA bigwigs to Moscow, it wasn’t a rogue mission. It was OKed from the very top, according to a report reviewed by The Daily Beast...


Yesterday, 4:22am Top

Nick Confessore @nickconfessore | 7:05 PM - 14 Jan 2019

EXCLUSIVE from @maggieNYT & @SharonLNYT & @benprotess. The bloated Trump inaug committee paid:
--Trump hotel $1.5M
--$2M to Parscale's firm, for advertisements to boost turnout (welp)
--$6.4M to cover hotel rooms booked by the RNC that... no one wanted.

At Trump’s Inauguration, $10,000 for Makeup and Lots of Room Service
Maggie Haberman, Sharon LaFraniere and Ben Protess | Jan. 14, 2019

WASHINGTON — Private donors put up $107 million to usher Donald J. Trump into office in style two years ago, and it is now clear just how enthusiastically his inaugural committee went to town with it...



Alternative NOAA @altNOAA | 11:13 PM - 14 Jan 2019

Trump sold a $40M Florida property to Dmitry Rybolovlev for $100M. Rybolovlev also purchased a (possible) Da Vinci for $127M, which was actually worth $72M and sold it to MBS for $450M. There is a lot of money laundering happening in @realDonaldTrump's orbit.

Yesterday, 5:28am Top

“I never worked for Russia” is Trump’s “I am not a crook” moment...
--Laurence Tribe tribelaw | 7:10 PM - 14 Jan 2019

"Well, when the president does it, that means that it is not illegal." Nixon to Frost.
--Karen Forde @fordey70 | 7:14 PM - 14 Jan 2019

Edited: Yesterday, 11:43am Top

>144 margd:

This is why what you post is such laughable robotic bullshit.

I'd said that, if Putin had wanted to, he could have met personally and spoken with Trump with no others present at all because Putin can converse in fluent English. I added that we've had, thus far, no press reports or credible information that these two men have done that.

You answer with this bullshit : https://twitter.com/NatashaBertrand

which leads, among other things, to this unsubstantiated claim:

"WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin held a second, previously undisclosed conversation during a dinner for G20 leaders at a summit earlier this month in Germany, a White House official confirmed on Tuesday."

What White House official confirmed this? What's his or her name?

Tell us, won't you: how does it happen that an impromptu meeting is "undisclosed" when Ian Bremmer, an American "Political scientist, author, entrepreneur, lecturer" (Wikipedia) and founder of the Eurasia Group, was present at a crowded dinner-table with Trump, his wife, Putin and others, and witnessed Trump and Putin --what? go off somewhere with Putin's translator?--leave the dining table. Period.

The second conversation between Trump and Putin took place during a dinner for the Group of 20 heads of state and their spouses in Hamburg, said Ian Bremmer, the president of political risk consultancy Eurasia Group, who was first to report the meeting in a note to clients.

"Bremmer said Trump got up from his seat halfway through dinner and spent about an hour talking “privately and animatedly” with Putin, “joined only by Putin’s own translator.”

"The lack of a U.S. translator raised eyebrows among other leaders at the dinner, said Bremmer, who called it a “breach of national security protocol.”

Obviously, Putin and Trump's meeting was not conducted clandestinely. If it had been, Bremmer couldn't have reported to his risk-consultancy clients about it or discussed the fact of the two leaders' meeting--nor could he know and report how long Trump and Putin spoke together, nor could he describe the conversation on Trump's part as "animated"--unless, of course, the two men were in full view of him.

If they were alone--which they weren't since it's claimed (on what basis?, what evidence? by the way) that only Putin's own translator was there--how'd Bremmer know these things?

An what did Putin need his translator for? Trump and Putin both speak English--which is what Putin's translator would be repeating to Putin in Russian, right? If Putin was speaking Russian, Trump would have insisted on his own translator being present. But we have no one's account--just Bremmer's unexplained "knowledge" (or his implied assertion of that knowledge) to go on--of exactly who, if anyone, was speaking Russian in this alleged "hour-long" meeting.

What, besides Bremmer's claims, do you have as evidence that this meeting even occurred?

So far, what I have is an alleged eye-witness claim that Putin and Trump, while dining together, got up and left the table (together?) and were absent for about an hour; and that Putin's translator, but not Trump's, inexplicably, accompanied them.


You have a fundamental problem: you refuse to respect and accept the outcomes of the 2016 U.S. presidential election. You despise Trump and don't trust him. And you don't respect your fellow-citizens' decisions which run counter to your views on Trump. But that's just too damn bad for you and it's irrelevant to the rest of the country. Enough people in enough states voted under the rules of the Electoral College system and signified that they did have sufficient trust in Trump to prefer his election over that of any and all of his opponents.

Once elected, the U.S. political system demands and requires a certain amount of trust in those who hold high office. Their election to their offices endows them with powers, with authority and there is no way that they can discharge their official duties unless they're granted some basic trust in their capacity and willingness to carry out their official duties as good-faith officials. For the F.B.I. to have treated Trump as the subject of an inquiry into the possibility of his having been a potential agent of the Russian government is outrageous.

You needn't trust Trump. And we needn't care that you don't.

Your case, your cause, lost in the last election. Bitch and moan about that all you like. It changes nothing. The Democrats, taking up many simultaneous House congressional investigations into Trump is going to mark them as spoiled sports, sore losers, who are now intent on wasting valuable time and money and other resources trying to "get something on Trump" out of spite and pettiness. The American people are going to regard that as disgraceful, shameful, behavior.


assorted relevant links:





The FBI’s Investigation of Trump as a “National Security Threat” is Itself a Serious Danger. But J. Edgar Hoover Pioneered the Tactic || by Glenn Greenwald || January 14 2019, 4:06 p.m.

“LAST WEEK, the New York Times reported that the FBI, in 2017, launched an investigation of President Trump “to consider whether the president’s own actions constituted a possible threat to national security” and specifically “whether he had been working on behalf of Russia against American interests.” The story was predictably treated as the latest in an endless line of Beginning-of-the-End disasters for the Trump presidency*, though – as usual – this melodrama was accomplished by steadfastly ignoring the now-standard, always-buried paragraph pointing out the boring fact that no actual evidence of guilt has yet emerged:

The lack of any evidence of guilt has never dampened the excitement over Trump/Russia innuendo, and it certainly did not do so here. Beyond being construed as some sort of vindication for the most deranged version of Manchurian Candidate fantasies – because, after all, the FBI would never investigate anyone unless they were guilty – the FBI’s investigation of the President as a national security threat was also treated as some sort of unprecedented event in U.S. history. “This is, without exception, the worst scandal in the history of the United States,” pronounced NBC News’ resident ex-CIA operative, who – along with a large staple (Sic) ("stable"?) of former security state agents employed by that network – is now paid to “analyze” and shape the news.

The FBI’s counterintelligence investigation of Trump is far from the first time that the FBI has monitored, surveilled and investigated U.S. elected officials who the agency had decided harbored suspect loyalties and were harming national security. The FBI specialized in such conduct for decades under J. Edgar Hoover, who ran the agency for 48 years and whose name the agency’s Washington headquarters continues to feature in its name. … …

(Full report at hyperlinked title-text)

* DO WATCH this; it's hilarious:

"breaking news," ... "bomb-shell" ... " "tipping point", ..."beginning of the end".... "the circle is closing in on president Trump", ... "the 'smoking-gun' is here," ..."it's now 'game-over' for Trump",

an endless line of Beginning-of-the-End disasters for the Trump presidency

Edited: Today, 8:01am Top

" (From the blog "LawFare") "FEDERAL LAW ENFORCEMENT |

"On What Grounds Can the FBI Investigate the President as a Counterintelligence Threat?"

| by Jack Goldsmith | Sunday, January 13, 2019, 9:16 AM

... ...

... "It is not unusual for a president to make controversial policy decisions that could, in some quarters, be viewed as causing harm to the national security interests of the United States. For example, many saw George W. Bush’s decisions in the war on terrorism, or Barack Obama’s rapprochement with Iran and Cuba, as harming U.S. national security. Many believe that most of Trump’s foreign policy constitutes a similar threat—his (verbal) attacks on allies and international institutions, his lies and erratic behavior, and the like. But the FBI obviously would not open a counterintelligence investigation for these matters.

"They would not do so because these actions—and indeed the very determination of the U.S. interest in the conduct of U.S. foreign policy—are presidential prerogatives. The Supreme Court has often affirmed, many times since United States v. Curtiss-Wright Export Corp., that it is the president himself, not the executive branch, who possesses “the very delicate, plenary and exclusive power … as the sole organ of the federal government in the field of international relations—a power which does not require as a basis for its exercise an act of Congress.” Moreover, the president has plenary control within the executive branch of the intelligence power and classified information, which is defined, by the president, in terms of harm to national security. In short, the president is the person constitutionally charged with determining what constitutes the national security interest and national security threats for the executive branch, which is where the FBI is (institutionally) located.

"Because the president determines the U.S. national security interest and threats against it, at least for the executive branch, there is an argument that it makes no sense for the FBI to open a counterintelligence case against the president premised on his being a threat to the national security. The president defines what a national security threat is, and thus any action by him cannot be such a threat, at least not for purposes of opening a counterintelligence investigation.

"On this view of the presidency, the perverse and very controversial steps Trump has taken toward Russia as president—his disclosure of classified information to the Russian ambassador in the Oval Office; his firing of Comey because of the Russia investigation; his persistent refusal to acknowledge what his director of national intelligence described as Russia’s 'ongoing, pervasive efforts to undermine our democracy'; and more—are all part of his ultimate discretion to conduct foreign policy and U.S. intelligence operations. Those actions, therefore, cannot pose a threat to a national security as a justification for a counterintelligence investigation. That may sound like an extreme conclusion, but it might follow from Article II, and I think (as I explain below) that not accepting this conclusion leads to equally if not more problematic consequences." ... ...

(emphasis added)

Trump's election to office, just like that of every president of the United States before him, came with no special conditions attached. He was not elected president on the condition that runs,

"Oh, by the way, a great many of us* don't trust you out of our sight, so, Mr. Somewhat-President-of-Select-Portions-of-the-United-States, you're on Notice:

"All of your beliefs, opinions, convictions, doubts and preferences concerning all manner of policy-issues--including, especially, the most sensitive of national-security matters-- are to be vetted and approved by certain (of our own approved) self-appointed (or even duly-elected) set of supervisors who, as we see it, possess "All the right ideas" and are there to promote and protect those as they keep you within what for us constiutes 'comfortable bounds.' Got it?"

* -- it's just that so many of us were inconveniently-located, voting in places which, according to the Electoral College's rules, rendered our votes' impact of no determining-value for the election nationally --

The president's powers and authority are, in the main, set out in the text of the Constitution. For those who would ask, stunned, "Can he do that!?, the first stop ought to be consulting the Constitution for it so happens that Trump's detractors have proven themselves to be hardly or no better at understanding where the president's powers begin and end than, as they see it, the president himself has been at that task.


Related : "Disagreeing With Conventional D.C. Wisdom Isn’t A Crime" |
Democrats keep confusing "policy disagreements" with 'an attack on democracy.' "

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