Posted: April 9, 2022 Filed under: Afternoon Reads, just because | Tags: Ali Alexander, Charles Donohoe, Department of Justice, Donald Trump, Donald Trump Jr, foreign gifts, grand jury, January 6 investigation, Mark Meadows, Phony DHS investigation, Proud Boys, Secret Service, State Department, Trump administration
Kitty on the Fence, photo by Andy Sewell
Some big Trump criminality news broke yesterday, and today there’s more news on stories we’ve been following over the past week. Here’s the latest:
This one was posted late last night at The New York Times: Trump Officials Failed to Provide Accounting of Foreign Gifts.
The Trump administration left office without providing the State Department with an accounting of the gifts former President Donald J. Trump, former Vice President Mike Pence and other White House officials received from foreign governments in 2020, the department disclosed late Friday.
The department said that as a result, it could not fully account for the gifts officials received, the latest example to emerge in recent months of how the Trump administration’s flouting of laws and norms about the day-to-day operations of government now makes it harder to determine whether anything improper took place.
“It’s flagrant and it looks terrible,” said Richard W. Painter, the former top ethics lawyer for George W. Bush’s administration. “Either it was really stupid or really corrupt.”
Under federal law, each government department and agency is legally required to submit a list to the State Department of gifts over $415 its officials received from foreign governments. The measure is intended to ensure that foreign governments do not gain undue influence over American officials.
LOL We already know that the Trumps were under “undue influence” from Russia, China, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and likely more countries.
The department said it had tried to collect the information about the gifts Trump White House officials had received but had failed to come up with an accounting.
“As a result, the data required to fully compile a complete listing for 2020 is unavailable,” the State Department said in a footnote to its list of gifts government officials received that year….
Country Cats, Rosemary Margaret Daunis
In February, it was revealed that classified documents and gifts from the White House had been improperly taken to Mr. Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, a matter federal authorities are now in the preliminary stages of investigating. Around that time, the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol learned that significant chunks of time were missing from White House call records from the day of the attack….
The State Department’s inspector general reported in November that tens of thousands of dollars in gifts given to Trump administration officials were missing. They included a 30-year-old Suntory Hibiki bottle of Japanese whiskey given to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, worth $5,800, and a 22-karat-gold commemorative coin valued at $560 given to another State Department official.
Many more items are missing–read about the rest at the NYT link.
Three interesting follow-up stories on the fake DHS guys who were busted for bribing Secret Service agents.
CNN: Many questions remain in impersonation plot that duped federal agents, prosecutors say.
(Highlighting added by me)
The Daily Mail: Stash of assault rifles, body armor, passports with multiple visas, and sham uniforms found in penthouse of ‘fake’ Homeland agents – including one with ‘links to Pakistani intelligence.’
A motion for detention of the two men who were arrested Wednesday for impersonating federal agents includes a slew of damning evidence, including images showing several different passports, visas and IDs.
The prosecutors are requesting Arian Taherzadeh, 40, and Haider Sher-Ali, 35, be detained due to a slew of evidence found in a raid of their units in a luxury apartment building in southeast Washington, D.C….
Taherzadeh told law enforcement in an interview after being taken into custody on Wednesday that Ali was the one funding their lavish lifestyle and seemingly endless stream of gifts, but claimed he wasn’t aware where the money was coming from.
Debbie Criswell, Best spring day
The question remains, however, on what Ali and Taherzadeh’s motives were in getting close to people with White House access by impersonating government agents.
Secret Service agents assigned to details for President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris’ residence are among those being investigated for accepting lavish gifts and partying with Taherzadeh and Ali, who alleged they were agents with the Department of Homeland Security.
At least one of the U.S. Secret Service (USSS) agents receiving free rent from Taherzadehand Ali was assigned to the detail protecting Harris’ residence at Number One Observatory Circle at the Naval Observatory, sources at the building told DailyMail.com.
Another, sources claim, was on the presidential protective detail and regularly traveled with President Biden on Air Force One.
The new information comes after an affidavit released Wednesday revealed that one of the witnesses in the case is a secret service agent that worked on First Lady Jill Biden’s protective detail.
Again, the added highlighting is mine. There’s much more at the link, including photos of the defendants and the evidence.
Justin Rohrlich of The Daily Beast interviewed a “former friend” of one of the imposters: Homeland Security Conman’s Arrest Is ‘Karma,’ Says Former Friend.
A man arrested this week for allegedly posing as a phony Homeland Security agent in a years-long ruse that fooled at least four members of the Secret Service—one of them on first lady Jill Biden’s security detail—has been busted for passing bad checks, allegedly created a fake company to win a city contract, and stiffed a close friend and business partner before skipping town, according to state court records and interviews with two former associates.
Arian Taherzadeh, 40, was arrested by the feds at his Washington, D.C., apartment complex on Wednesday….
Barn cats in Spring
In an interview with investigators following his arrest, prosecutors say Taherzadeh admitted to posing as a DHS agent and said he also falsely told others that he was an ex-Army Ranger. However, he put much of the onus on Ali, telling the feds that “Ali was the individual that funded most of their day-to-day operation but Taherzadeh did not know the source of the funds.”
“You could call it karma,” a former friend and business partner in Kansas City who started a now-defunct IT consultancy with Taherzadeh told The Daily Beast. “I got burned a couple of different times and I finally walked away.”
The friend said he’s extremely curious to know what Taherzadeh’s end-game was.
“Part of me just wants to tell you, it’s because he could,” he said.
The tale of the con is a long story. You can read it at the Daily Beast link.
January 6 investigation news
I know you’ve probably heard about this bombshell story from CNN yesterday: CNN Exclusive: ‘We control them all’: Donald Trump Jr. texted Meadows ideas for overturning 2020 election before it was called.
Cat Country by Rosemary Margaret Daunis
I actually think the NYT is underplaying the important of this development, but here’s a bit more from the article:
The grand jury subpoena Mr. Alexander received suggests that prosecutors have greatly widened the scope of their inquiry to include not only people who were at the Capitol, but also those who organized and spoke at pro-Trump events in November and December 2020 and on Jan. 6, 2021.
In an indication that the inquiry could reach into the Trump administration and its allies in Congress, the subpoena also seeks information about members of the executive and legislative branches who were involved in the events or who may have helped to obstruct the certification of the 2020 election….
Mr. Alexander took part in two so-called Stop the Steal rallies in Washington that preceded the former president’s event at the Ellipse, near the White House, on Jan. 6 — one on Nov. 14, 2020, and the other a few weeks later on Dec. 12 — as well as events in the key swing state of Georgia in December.
In the run-up to those gatherings, Mr. Alexander came into contact with a host of rally organizers and with right-wing groups like the Oath Keepers militia and the 1st Amendment Praetorian that provided both public and personal security at the events.
The Washington Post on the plea deal with Proud Boy Charles Donohoe: Proud Boys leader admits plan to storm Capitol, will testify against others.
A North Carolina man who was one of the leaders of the far-right Proud Boys as they assaulted the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, pleaded guilty Friday to two felony counts with a minimum sentence of nearly six years in prison, but agreed to cooperate against his co-defendants in hopes of getting a lighter sentence.
Court records filed Friday show he has already provided numerous insights into the group’s plans and their intention to disrupt the congressional electoral vote confirmation….
Donohoe, 34, of Kernersville, N.C., admitted to conspiring to help organize an attack on Congress by angry supporters of then-president Donald Trump and to assaulting law enforcement officers. Donohoe is the first among six of the charged Proud Boys’ leaders, including longtime chairman Enrique Tarrio, to admit to both organizing an attack on Congress and assaulting law enforcement officers.
By Warren Kimble
On the plans for and carrying out of the assault on the Capitol:
As early as Jan. 4, prosecutors said, “Donohoe was aware that members of MOSD leadership were discussing the possibility of storming the Capitol. Donohoe believed that storming the Capitol would achieve the group’s goal of stopping the government from carrying out the transfer of presidential power. Donohoe understood that storming the Capitol would be illegal.”
On the morning of Jan. 6, the Proud Boys marched away from the Ellipse before President Donald Trump began his speech, and did not return. Instead, they went to the Capitol shortly after 10 a.m., the statement of offense says, and Donohoe posted that his group numbered “200-300 PBs.” Co-defendants Ethan Nordean and Joseph Biggs mustered the group, the statement says, and “Donohoe understood that Nordean and Biggs were searching for an opportunity to storm the Capitol.”
By 1 p.m., the Proud Boys were being instructed in messages to “Push inside!” Donohoe reposted the message to other group leaders. Donohoe admitted throwing two water bottles at police trying to prevent the mob’s advance. At 1:37 p.m., Donohoe took a picture of co-defendant Dominic Pezzola holding a riot shield that had been snatched from police.
Donohoe then found another Proud Boy who “initiated an altercation at the front of the crowd,” the statement says. “Donohoe pushed forward to advance up the concrete stairs toward the Capitol. The crowd overwhelmed law enforcement who were attempting to stop their advance.”
Despite all the whining from Twitter lawyers, it sure looks like the DOJ is conducting a serious investigation that could reach all the way to Trump.
Have a great weekend, Sky Dancers! Spring is on the way.
Posted: December 18, 2021 Filed under: Afternoon Reads | Tags: 2024 Elections, Ali Alexander, caturday, Civil War, coronavirus pandemic, Covid-19, January 6 insurrection, Omicron variant, Rick Perry, U.S. Military
By Pat Matticchio
I’m beginning to accept that we are never going to return to “normal.” After 6 years of dealing with Trump and his domination of the Republican party, after 2 long years of Covid-19 and the loss of more than 800,000 lives, we now face the threat of losing our democracy as we deal with a new Covid variant that is already spreading rapidly and is likely to kill many more Americans. And I haven’t even touched on the dangers we face from climate change.
On the threats to U.S. democracy:
The Washington Post: Opinion: 3 retired generals: The military must prepare now for a 2024 insurrection, by Paul D. Eaton, Antonio M. Taguba, and Steven M. Anderson
As we approach the first anniversary of the deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, we — all of us former senior military officials — are increasingly concerned about the aftermath of the 2024 presidential election and the potential for lethal chaos inside our military, which would put all Americans at severe risk.
In short: We are chilled to our bones at the thought of a coup succeeding next time.
One of our military’s strengths is that it draws from our diverse population. It is a collection of individuals, all with different beliefs and backgrounds. But without constant maintenance, the potential for a military breakdown mirroring societal or political breakdown is very real.
Le Chat Van Gogh by Toni Goffe
The signs of potential turmoil in our armed forces are there. On Jan. 6, a disturbing number of veterans and active-duty members of the military took part in the attack on the Capitol. More than 1 in 10 of those charged in the attacks had a service record. A group of 124 retired military officials, under the name “Flag Officers 4 America,” released a letter echoing Donald Trump’s false attacks on the legitimacy of our elections.
Recently, and perhaps more worrying, Brig. Gen. Thomas Mancino, the commanding general of the Oklahoma National Guard, refused an order from President Biden mandating that all National Guard members be vaccinated against the coronavirus. Mancino claimed that while the Oklahoma Guard is not federally mobilized, his commander in chief is the Republican governor of the state, not the president.
The potential for a total breakdown of the chain of command along partisan lines — from the top of the chain to squad level — is significant should another insurrection occur. The idea of rogue units organizing among themselves to support the “rightful” commander in chief cannot be dismissed.
Please go read the rest at the WaPo.
Molly Jong-Fast at The Atlantic: How Do You Get People to Care About Democracy? The preservation of Democracy shouldn’t be a partisan activity.
Every time the January 6 committee holds a hearing, it seems clearer and clearer that Donald Trump was trying to keep control over the government after losing reelection. The past week alone produced the “how to coup” PowerPoint, widely circulated in Trumpworld, and a slew of text messages, including this sorry we weren’t able to pull off a coup note from an unidentified lawmaker to Mark Meadows: “Yesterday was a terrible day. We tried everything we could in our objection to the 6 states. I’m sorry nothing worked.” It’s pretty clear what Trump was up to: trying to reinstall himself as president and end American democracy as we know it.
Trump’s crew surely knew how bad the events of January 6 were even as they were unfolding. “The president needs to tell people in the Capitol to go home … he is destroying his legacy,” Fox News host Laura Ingraham wrote to Mark Meadows in a text message read by Republican Representative Liz Cheney during the opening statements of the Jan 6 committee meeting on Monday night. A range of journalists sent similar messages. Actual reporter Jake Sherman—who had been stuck in the Capitol during the riot, and who released his texts with Meadows “out of transparency”—wrote, “Do something for us. We are under siege in the [Capitol].” Another “journalist” exchanging texts with Meadows at the time: Fox propagandist Sean Hannity, who wrote, “Can he make a statement? Ask people to leave the Capitol.”
We are not alone, Greeting card by Alison Friend
It’s a long piece, but here’s the conclusion:
But how you safeguard democracy when only one party supports it is a riddle. How do Democrats permeate the Fox and Facebook anti-fact chamber, which paints Trump as the real victim of the insurrection he helped instigate?
I don’t know how you get Republicans to see past this election, to understand that losing democracy is about more than just a win for their guy. Some members of the mainstream media have been defensive, saying they aren’t covering the threat to democracy because lawmakers aren’t talking about it. But here’s the thing: It’s the media’s job to make people care, to highlight the stories that matter. We don’t look to elected officials to tell us what to write about. We journalists may be the bulwark that keeps America from resembling Hungary or Turkey in a few years. Keeping democracy shouldn’t be a partisan fight, but it is, and perhaps that’s the most damning thing of all.
Okay, then how do we get the most powerful newspaper–The New York Times–to care about democracy?
About that text to Meadows expressing sorrow that the coup failed? It appears to have come from Rick Perry’s phone. CNN: Exclusive: Jan 6 investigators believe Nov. 4 text pushing ‘strategy’ to undermine election came from Rick Perry.