Posted: April 13, 2023 | Author: bostonboomer | Filed under: abortion rights, Blind Justice, Criminal Justice System, Donald Trump | Tags: Aric Toler, Jack Smith, Jack Teixeira, Letitia James, Michael Cohen, mifepristone, Peter Navarro, Special Counsel, Thug Shaker Central |
Lady Justice, by Laura Pierre Louis
Good Day, Sky Dancers!!
“The wheels of justice turn slowly, but grind exceedingly fine.” No one knows the source for this quote–one candidates is Sun Tzu and another is Sextus Empricus. But it looks like that is what is happening now in the many legal investigations of Donald Trump. Frankly, I’ve let go of frustration over how slowly the wheels are turning, because I believe there is progress being made. I’m not convinced Trump will ever go to prison, but I think he will finally pay a price for his crimes against our country. Here’s the latest:
The New York Times: Trump to Face Questioning Thursday in N.Y. Attorney General’s Lawsuit.
Donald J. Trump is set to be questioned under oath on Thursday in a civil fraud lawsuit brought by New York Attorney General Letitia James, the latest in a series of legal predicaments entangling the former president, who also faces a separate 34-count criminal indictment unsealed last week.
Ms. James’s civil case, which was filed in September and is expected to go to trial later this year, accuses Mr. Trump, his family business and three of his children of a “staggering” fraud for overvaluing the former president’s assets by billions of dollars. The lawsuit seeks $250 million that it contends they reaped through those deceptions, made in Mr. Trump’s annual financial statements — and asks a judge to essentially run him out of business in the state if he is found liable at trial.
Ms. James’s office plans to question Mr. Trump as part of the discovery phase of the case, in preparation for the trial.
The former president, who spent the night at his Manhattan residence in Trump Tower, arrived at the attorney general’s office shortly before 10 a.m. As a crowd chanted “New York hates you,” Mr. Trump’s motorcade drove into the parking garage underneath the office building at 28 Liberty Street….
This is the second time that lawyers for Ms. James, a Democrat, are questioning Mr. Trump under oath: He also sat for a deposition in the summer of 2022, shortly before the attorney general filed her lawsuit. During that deposition, Mr. Trump lashed out at Ms. James, accusing her of being motivated by politics and then invoking his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination hundreds of times over the course of four hours.
Depositions are held in private, so the specifics of his testimony will not be immediately known. But as of Wednesday evening, Mr. Trump was not expected to assert his Fifth Amendment right, people familiar with his thinking said.
Because he was in the White House or on the campaign trail for several years — and no longer running his company — Mr. Trump might try to avoid providing direct answers to Ms. James’s questions, instead giving insubstantial responses. He might say, for example, that he does not recall a particular incident or was not present for it. He could also claim that he delegated the valuation of his assets to employees.
Trump vented his anger and frustration in ugly, deranged posts on his Twitter clone, Truth Social. Examples:
This man belongs in a rubber room!
Special Counsel Jack Smith is moving rapidly in his January 6 and stolen documents investigations. The Washington Post reports that Smith is looking into Trump’s fundraising using lies about election fraud: Special counsel focuses on Trump fundraising off false election claims.
Federal prosecutors probing the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol have in recent weeks sought a wide range of documents related to fundraising after the 2020 election, looking to determine if former president Donald Trump or his advisers scammed donors by using false claims about voter fraud to raise money, eight people familiar with the new inquiries said.
Franco/Flemish School; Justice; The Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology; unknown British artist
Special counsel Jack Smith’s office has sentsubpoenas in recent weeks to Trump advisers and former campaign aides, Republican operatives and other consultants involved in the 2020 presidential campaign, the people said. They have also heard testimony from some of these figures in front of a Washington grand jury, some of the people said.
The eight people with knowledge of the investigation spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing criminal investigation.
The fundraising prong of the investigation is focused on money raised during the period between Nov. 3, 2020, and the end of Trump’s time in office on Jan. 20, 2o21, and prosecutors are said to be interested in whether anyone associated with the fundraising operation violated wire fraud laws, which make it illegal to make false representations over email to swindle people out of money.
The new subpoenas received since the beginning of March, which have not been previously reported, show the breadth of Smith’s investigation, as Trump embarks on a campaign for reelection while assailing the special counsel investigation and facing charges of falsifying business records in New York and a separate criminal investigation in Georgia.
The subpoenas seek more specific types of communications so that prosecutors can compare what Trump allies and advisers were telling one another privately about the voter-fraud claims with what they were saying publicly in appeals that generated more than $200 million in donations from conservatives, according to people with knowledge of the investigation.
Read more at the WaPo.
Trump is hilariously suing Michael Cohen for $500 million for violating a nondisclosure agreement. Raw Story: Trump accidentally admits Michael Cohen told the truth in his new lawsuit: Legal expert.
Former President Donald Trump is launching a $500 million lawsuit against his former attorney and fixer Michael Cohen, alleging that he violated attorney-client privilege when he issued a tell-all book about the hush payment he helped Trump faciliate to adult film star Stormy Daniels.
But that claim doesn’t make any sense for Trump, said former Manhattan prosecutor Karen Friedman Agnifilo on CNN’s “OutFront” on Wednesday — because it implicitly requires Trump to admit that everything Cohen said, which he is now denying by pleading not guilty to criminal charges against him in New York, is actually true.
“When you look at this, Trump is alleging that Michael Cohen broke attorney-client privilege, he’s talking about all these falsehoods that he put out there,” said anchor Erica Hill. “Is there a legal merit here? I mean, does he have a case?
“It’s an interesting case here because, on the one hand, he’s saying everything is false, right?” said Agnifilo. “So if he was breaching attorney-client privilege, you’re doing that by telling things that were said to you in confidence. But so, is he saying things that Michael Cohen is saying are true because I told him in confidence, and now he’s breached that privilege? Or is he saying that the things are false? Because if they’re false, why didn’t he bring a defamation claim? So it kind of makes no sense.
“It really reads to me like he’s just trying to put his defense in the criminal case out and try and get his statements out there in the court of public opinion.”
She added: “I also think it’s worth noting that there is a little bit of witness intimidation going on here as well. And he’s just using the court system like he seems to want to do, by going after his foes and adversaries.”
Politico: Appeals court rejects Peter Navarro’s bid to retain hundreds of presidential records.
A federal appeals court panel on Wednesday rejected a bid by former Trump White House adviser Peter Navarro to retain hundreds of government records despite a judge’s order to return them promptly to the National Archives.
“There is no public interest in Navarro’s retention of the records, and Congress has recognized that the public has an interest in the Nation’s possession and retention of Presidential records,” the three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals concluded in a unanimous two-page order.
The Justice Department sued Navarro last year, seeking to reclaim hundreds of records — contained in Navarro’s personal ProtonMail account — that the government said should have been returned to the National Archives after the Trump administration came to an end in January 2021.
Justica Justice, by Fabiano Millani
Navarro acknowledged that at least 200 to 250 records in his possession belong to the government, but he contended that no mechanism exists to enforce that requirement — and that doing so might violate his Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination. Last month, U.S. District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly rejected that claim, ordering Navarro to promptly return the records he had identified as belonging to the government.
But Navarro appealed the decision, rejecting the notion that the Justice Department had any legitimate mechanism to force him to return the records. And he urged the court to stay Kollar-Kotelly’s ruling while his appeal was pending. But the appeals court panel — which included Judges Patricia Millett and Robert Wilkins, both appointees of President Barack Obama, and Judge Neomi Rao, an appointee of President Donald Trump — rejected Navarro’s stay request.
Within minutes, Kollar-Kotelly put the squeeze on Navarro, ordering him to turn over the 200 to 250 records “on or before” Friday. She also ordered him to perform additional searches or presidential records that might be in his possession by May 8, with further proceedings scheduled for later in the month.
I’m not sure if these records are related to the January 6 investigation, but Navarro has claimed that giving them up will violate his Fifth Amendment rights.
The flurry of filings is the latest twist in a saga that began when the National Archives discovered that Navarro had relied on a ProtonMail account to do official government business — the result of a congressional investigation into the Trump administration’s handling of the coronavirus crisis.
Navarro is also trying to fend off criminal charges for defying a different congressional investigation — the probe by the Jan. 6 select committee — into his role in strategizing to help Trump overturn the results of the 2020 election. He faces charges for contempt of Congress for defying a subpoena issued by the select committee, a case that has been repeatedly delayed amid battles over executive privilege and immunity for presidential advisers.
In its brief order rejecting Navarro’s stay, the appeals court panel concluded that returning the documents would not violate Navarro’s protection against self-incrimination.
Allegory of Justic, by Gaetano Gandolfi
The wheels of justice are grinding slowly in the Trump investigations, but it looks like they are moving more quickly than the fight for women’s rights their own bodily autonomy. This decision makes no sense to me.
AP: Court preserves access to abortion pill but tightens rules.
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A federal appeals court ruled that the abortion pill mifepristone can still be used for now but reduced the period of pregnancy when the drug can be taken and said it could not be dispensed by mail.
The decision late Wednesday temporarily narrowed a ruling by a lower court judge in Texas that had completely blocked the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of the nation’s most commonly used method of abortion. Still, preventing the pill from being sent by mail amounts to another significant curtailing of abortion access — less than a year after the reversal of Roe v. Wade resulted in more than a dozen states effectively banning abortion outright.
The case is likely to go to the U.S. Supreme Court.
“We are going to continue to fight in the courts, we believe the law is on our side, and we will prevail,” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Thursday, speaking to reporters from Dublin during a visit by President Joe Biden.
Opponents that brought the Texas lawsuit against the drug last year cast the decision by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals as a victory.
Abortion rights groups expressed relief that the FDA approval would remain in place for now but criticized the court for reinstating restrictions on the drug. Whole Woman’s Health, an abortion provider that operates six clinics in five states, said in a tweet they were continuing to offer mifepristone in clinics and through virtual services while reviewing the decision that came down shortly before midnight Wednesday.
For goddess sake! Just leave women alone to decide on their medical care in consultation with their doctors!! It’s time to ban Viagra, which is far more dangerous than Mifepristone.
In other news, the case of the leaked classified documents is moving rapidly. The New York Times has now named the leaker: Leader of Online Group Where Secret Documents Leaked Is Air National Guardsman.
The leader of a small online gaming chat group where a trove of classified U.S. intelligence documents leaked over the last few months is a 21-year-old member of the intelligence wing of the Massachusetts Air National Guard, according to interviews and documents reviewed by The New York Times.
The national guardsman, whose name is Jack Teixeira, oversaw a private online group named Thug Shaker Central, where about 20 to 30 people, mostly young men and teenagers, came together over a shared love of guns, racist online memes and video games.
Two U.S. officials confirmed that investigators want to talk to Airman Teixeira about the leak of the government documents to the private online group. One official said Airman Teixeira might have information relevant to the investigation.
Federal investigators have been searching for days for the person who leaked the top secret documents online but have not identified Airman Teixeira or anyone else as a suspect. The F.B.I. declined to comment.
Starting months ago, one of the users uploaded hundreds of pages of intelligence briefings into the small chat group, lecturing its members, who had bonded during the isolation of the pandemic, on the importance of staying abreast of world events.
The New York Times spoke with four members of the Thug Shaker Central chat group, one of whom said he has known the person who leaked for at least three years, had met him in person, and referred to him as the O.G. The friends described him as older than most of the group members, who were in their teens, and the undisputed leader. One of the friends said the O.G. had access to intelligence documents through his job.
While the gaming friends would not identify the group’s leader by name, a trail of digital evidence compiled by The Times leads to Airman Teixeira.
The Times has been able to link Airman Teixeira to other members of the Thug Shaker Central group through his online gaming profile and other records. Details of the interior of Airman Teixeira’s childhood home — posted on social media in family photographs — also match details on the margins of some of the photographs of the leaked secret documents.
The Times also has established, through social media posts and military records, that Airman Teixeira is enlisted in the 102nd Intelligence Wing of the Massachusetts Air National Guard. Posts on the unit’s official Facebook page congratulated Airman Teixeira and colleagues for being promoted to Airman First Class in July 2022.
This is kind of funny, because The Washington Post claimed an exclusive in a story this morning that did not name the leaker: Leaker of U.S. secret documents worked on military base, friend says. But it really wasn’t an exclusive, because Aric Tolder reported the story at bellingcat first.
Now, he has the byline in the NYT story. Hahaha. Hooray for the underdog. He also plans to stay at bellingcat for now.
I imagine there will be more news breaking on this story today. I’ll be watching. Have a great Thursday everyone!!
Did you like this post? Please share it with your friends:
Posted: May 20, 2021 | Author: bostonboomer | Filed under: morning reads, U.S. Politics | Tags: Allen Weisselberg, Cyrus vance Jr., Donald Trump, January 6 commission, Jennifer Weisselberg, Letitia James, Matt Gaetz, Michael Cohen, Trump crime family, Trump Organization |
By Arne Kavli
We appear to be inching closer to the possibility that Trump and his minions could actually be prosecuted. It hasn’t happened yet, but news has broken over the past few days that suggests that real accountability could be coming for the Trump crime family.
Bill Chappelle, Andrea Bernstein, and Ilya Marritz at NPR: What We Know So Far About The Trump Organization Criminal Investigation.
New York Attorney General Letitia James is investigating former President Donald Trump’s business, the Trump Organization, “in a criminal capacity,” her office says, ratcheting up scrutiny of Trump’s real estate transactions and other dealings.
The state attorney general is joining forces with Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., who has been conducting a separate criminal inquiry into Trump’s business practices and possible insurance or financial fraud as well as alleged hush money payments to two women who said they had affairs with Trump before he became president….
Dorothy Weir Young, “Seated Girl Reading Newspaper,” 1930
The new collaboration between the state and local offices is an unusual event in itself: In New York, the attorney general and the district attorney have historically been rivals. But in this case, they’re working together.
Two assistant attorneys general have now joined the district attorney’s team of prosecutors. They’re all trying to unravel troves of complicated information, including millions of pages of tax returns and other documents related to how the Trump Organization operates in the U.S. as well as its sprawling international enterprises.
With the shift in focus from James’ office, we now know that both of these prosecution teams are making a determined and coordinated effort to sift through evidence of possible crimes.
Read the whole article. It’s a good summary of where things stand right now. Here’s the latest breaking news on the investigations:
The New York Times: Top Trump Executive Under Criminal Investigation Over Taxes.
The New York attorney general’s office has been criminally investigating the chief financial officer of former President Donald J. Trump’s company for months over tax issues, according to people with knowledge of the matter.
The office of the attorney general, Letitia James, notified the Trump Organization in a January letter that it had opened a criminal investigation related to the chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg, the people said. The investigators have examined whether taxes were paid on fringe benefits that Mr. Trump gave him, including cars and tens of thousands of dollars in private school tuition for at least one of Mr. Weisselberg’s grandchildren….
Auguste Macke, Woman reading
The focus on perks and Mr. Weisselberg overlaps with the Manhattan district attorney’s long-running criminal fraud investigation of Mr. Trump and his family business. The district attorney’s office has been investigating the extent to which Mr. Trump handed out fringe benefits to some of his executives, including Mr. Weisselberg, and whether taxes were paid on those perks, The New York Times previously reported.
In recent weeks, Ms. James’s office suggested to the company in a new letter that it had broadened the criminal investigation beyond the focus on Mr. Weisselberg, one of the people said. It was unclear how the inquiry had widened.
In general, fringe benefits — which can include cars, flights and club memberships — are taxable, though there are some exceptions. Companies are typically responsible for withholding such taxes from an employee’s paycheck….
In addition to the fringe benefits, Ms. James and the district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., have examined whether Mr. Trump’s company inflated the value of his properties to obtain favorable loans and lowered the values to reduce taxes.
More details from CNN:
Did you like this post? Please share it with your friends:
Posted: June 20, 2020 | Author: bostonboomer | Filed under: morning reads, U.S. Politics | Tags: Anthony Fauci, Bill Barr, coronavirus pandemic, Covid-19, Donald Trump, Geoffrey Berman, Michael Cohen, Mueller report, Roger Stone, SDNY, super-spreaders, Trump hate rallies, Tulsa OK, Voice of America, WHO |
We seem to have lost many of our regular commenters. I hope it wasn’t something I said or did. Maybe, like me, you’re just exhausted and burned out by the awful things that are happening in our country. I just want to say that I miss you all and hope to see you again soon.
I can’t stop doing my posts. It has become a habit and a way for me to sort through the daily shocking events in Trump world. Will we ever recover from his destructive attacks on the Constitution and on democracy itself? I really don’t know.
Today is the day of Trump’s super-spreader rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma. His deplorable supporters will travel from other states, stand or sit close together, and shout at the top of their lungs; and if they are infected, they’ll spread the virus to other people near them. And then the rallyers will travel back to their homes and spread the virus there. Trump is actively working to kill Americans.
Jonathan Swan at Axios: Trump: Expect “wild evening” in Tulsa, mask optional.
President Trump defended his decision to move ahead with a controversial large-scale Tulsa rally this weekend amid the pandemic, saying in an interview Friday with Axios that “we have to get back to living our lives” and “we’re going to have a wild evening tomorrow night at Oklahoma.”
Pressed on why he wasn’t using his presidential bully pulpitto encourage rally attendees to wear masks, Trump described masks as “a double-edged sword.” When asked if he recommended people wear them, he added: “I recommend people do what they want.”
Why it matters: Ahead of the rally expected to draw tens of thousands of supporters and protesters, the president’s comments underscore his skepticism of the effectiveness of strict enforcement of masks and social distancing to combat the virus that has killed more than 118,000 Americans and devastated the U.S. economy.
And his advice flies in the face of warnings from Trump’s own government’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci.
Later in the interview, talking about China’s renewed trouble with coronavirus, Trump said: “It’s hard to stop it. It’s the most contagious virus anyone’s ever seen. I could look at you, and all of a sudden you have the virus. Or vice versa.”
Trump doubled down on his tweeted threat against protesters.
The president stood by his tweet earlier Friday suggesting protesters in Tulsa should prepare to face physical force from Oklahoma law enforcement, saying, “That’s got to be the least controversial of my tweets.”
“Oklahoma’s much tougher on law and order” than some parts of the country, he said, and insisted that protests are packed with anarchists, agitators and looters. “They’re all together.”
He relished the lifting of a health and safety curfew in Tulsa for his supporters and said he has no intention of wearing a mask at the rally and that people should do what they want.
“I don’t feel that I’m in danger,” he said. “I’ve met a lot, a lot of people, and so far here I sit.” (Everyone who meets with Trump, including this reporter, is tested beforehand.)
That’s right. Around 9:30 last night, Barr tried to fire U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman of the Southern District of New York. The New York Times: Barr Tries to Fire U.S. Attorney in Trump-Related Cases, but He Won’t Go.
Attorney General William P. Barr on Friday night abruptly tried to fire the top federal prosecutor in Manhattan, Geoffrey S. Berman, who has investigated several of President Trump’s closest associates, but Mr. Berman said he would not leave.
The clash focused new attention on the efforts by Mr. Trump and his closest aides to rid the administration of officials whom the president views as insufficiently loyal. It also touched off a crisis within the Justice Department over one of its most prestigious jobs, at a time when the agency has already been roiled by questions over whether Mr. Barr has undercut its tradition of independence from political interference.
Mr. Berman, the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York, and his team have been at the forefront of corruption inquiries in Mr. Trump’s inner circle. They successfully prosecuted the president’s former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, who went to prison, and have been investigating Mr. Trump’s current personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani.
“I have not resigned, and have no intention of resigning, my position,” Mr. Berman said in a statement, adding that he had learned that he was “stepping down” from a Justice Department news release.
Meanwhile, the virus is continuing to spread, especially in Trump-supporting states. NPR: Coronavirus Spread Hits 1-Day High, World Health Organization Says.
The coronavirus pandemic reached a new one-day high Thursday with 150,000 new confirmed cases, according to the World Health Organization.
Almost half of those cases were reported in the Americas, WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a press conference.
“The world is in a new and dangerous phase,” Tedros said. “Many people are understandably fed up with being at home. Countries are understandably eager to open up their societies and economies, but the virus is still spreading fast. It is still deadly, and most people are still susceptible.”
Tedros urged countries and organizations to continue to focus on the basics of prevention, including proper sanitation and social distancing. He also pointed to an increased concern about the spread of the coronavirus in refugee communities across the world as well as refugees’ precarious economic situations.
Trump just managed to destroy another U.S. institution–Voice of America. The Washington Post: How Trump’s obsessions with media and loyalty coalesced in a battle for Voice of America.
On Monday, President Trump’s long-deferred pick to head the U.S. Agency for Global Media finally started work after a bruising, two-year Senate confirmation battle.
By the end of Wednesday, Michael Pack had achieved a clean sweep of the top offices of every division he oversees — including venerable news outlets like Voice of America and Radio Free Europe.
The swift purge of former appointees has increased the worry among Democrats and press freedom advocates that the Trump administration is attempting to gain control over an independent but federally funded media organization with among the largest audiences in the world. On its own, the Voice of America delivers television and radio programs to 236.6 million people — and in some countries dominated by state media, it is the only free and unshackled news source.
“USAGM’s role as an unbiased news organization is in jeopardy,” Rep. Eliot L. Engel (D-N.Y.), who chairs the Foreign Affairs Committee, said Wednesday in a statement. Pack, he added, “needs to understand that USAGM is not the Ministry of Information.”
Yet the machinations of recent weeks also epitomize Trump’s knack for turning a relatively obscure issue or backwater agency into fodder for a culture war — with little more than a tweet.
The president first nominated Pack, who is in his mid-60s, for the USAGM job in 2018. Pack is revered in Republican circles as something of a unicorn — a documentary filmmaker with solid conservative credentials (he served as president of the Claremont Institute, a prominent think tank) who could also make PBS-quality work. His projects have included “God and the Inner City,” about three faith-based organizations; a film on the 1994 Republican takeover of Congress; and an appreciative documentary about the life of Clarence Thomas, featuring extensive interviews with the Supreme Court justice.
More of the redacted sections of the Mueller report have become available. Two takeaways:
Buzzfeed News: Roger Stone Told Trump In Advance WikiLeaks Would Release Documents Harmful To Clinton Campaign, Aides Claimed.
Donald Trump was told in advance that Wikileaks would be releasing documents embarrassing to the Clinton campaign and subsequently informed advisors that he expected more releases would be coming, according to newly unredacted portions of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.
In July 2016, political consultant Roger Stone told Trump as well as several campaign advisors that he had spoken with Julian Assange and that WikiLeaks would be publishing the documents in a matter of days. Stone told the then-candidate via speakerphone that he “did not know what the content of the materials was,” according to the newly unveiled portions of the report, and Trump responded “oh good, alright” upon hearing the news. WikiLeaks published a trove of some 20,000 emails Russians hacked from the Democratic National Committee on July 22 of that year.
Former Trump attorney Michael Cohen told federal investigators that he overheard the phone call between Stone and Trump. Agents were also told by former campaign officials Paul Manafort and Rick Gates that Stone had spoken several times in early June of something “big” coming from WikiLeaks. Assange first mentioned having emails related to Clinton on June 12.
The new revelations are the strongest indication to date that Trump and his closest advisors were aware of outside efforts to hurt Clinton’s electoral chances, and that Stone played a direct role in communicating that situation to the Trump campaign. Trump has publicly denied being aware of any information being relayed between WikiLeaks and his advisors.
CNN: Mueller raised possibility Trump lied to him, newly unsealed report reveals.
Special counsel Robert Mueller examined whether President Donald Trump lied to him in written answers during the Russia investigation, a possibility House Democrats have said they continue to look into even after Trump’s impeachment….
A key part of the re-released report Friday highlights how Trump didn’t disclose to Mueller the extent of his conversations with Stone.
Trump was careful to work with his lawyers on any responses he gave to the special counsel. The President ultimately responded under oath in writing to Mueller’s questions, though Mueller conceded in his final report some of the answers were insufficient.
Trump answered that he hadn’t remembered discussing WikiLeaks with Stone. But Mueller found that Trump had had conversations with Stone and others about WikiLeaks, the newly unsealed report says.
Much more on the newly released information from the report at CNN.
Those are the stories that caught my eye this morning. What are you reading and thinking about?
Did you like this post? Please share it with your friends:
Posted: July 18, 2019 | Author: bostonboomer | Filed under: morning reads, U.S. Politics | Tags: Bill Barr, Donald Trump, fascism, Ilhan Omar, impeachment, Jeffrey Epstein, Judge William H. Pauley, Michael Cohen, Nancy Pelosi, Rachel Maddow, Trump Nazi/KKK rally |
It appears that Cover-Up General Bill Barr has struck again. He apparently ordered the Southern District of New York to end their investigation of campaign finance violations by Michael Cohen and Individual 1 (AKA Donald Trump).
The Washington Post: Prosecutors have ‘concluded’ Michael Cohen campaign finance probe, judge says.
Federal prosecutors have concluded the campaign finance investigation centered on President Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen, or at least key aspects of it, a federal judge overseeing the case wrote Wednesday, suggesting prosecutors will not charge executives in the Trump Organization or any others who have been linked to the matter.
The good news is that Judge William H. Pauley ordered the public release of search warrants and other documents related to the case. Prosecutors asked Pauley to allow some redactions of the materials, but the judge said no dice. The materials should be available sometime this morning.
He [Pauley] wrote that the government disclosed in a secret filing Monday that it had “concluded the aspects of its investigation that justified the continued sealing of the portions of the Materials relating to Cohen’s campaign finance violations.” He rejected their request to file the materials with redactions to protect “third-party privacy interests,” because, by his telling, the case is over and the public deserves to see everything.
“The campaign finance violations discussed in the Materials are a matter of national importance,” Pauley wrote. “Now that the Government’s investigation into those violations has concluded, it is time that every American has an opportunity to scrutinize the Materials.”
So Barr has made sure that the Trump Organization will no longer be in danger of prosecution. Will the investigations into Trump’s inauguration be axed next?
Rachel Maddow talked about this last night.
Folks, this is getting scarier with every passing day. Trump now controls the Department of Justice and apparently can order investigations stopped or opened. Republicans control the Senate, so nothing the Democrats pass will even be considered there, including impeachment. The only protection we have left is the courts, and Trump and the GOP are working overtime to stock them with Trump judges.
Last night Trump held another Nazi/KKK rally in North Carolina, during which he attacked has latest target Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar and encouraged the crowd as they screamed “send her back!”
And in case you thought Trump was ad libbing, here’s the proof that the attack was orchestrated.
From The Charlotte Observer editorial board: ’Send her back’: A dark reminder of who we are.
It happened in the first half of Wednesday’s speech. Donald Trump, our president, began to talk about Rep. Ilhan Omar, a Democratic from Minnesota who was among the four women of color he had attacked Sunday in a racist tweet. Everyone knew Trump would speak about the women at some point to the Greenville, North Carolina crowd. Did we know what would come next?
“Send her back.”
The chant rose quickly from a handful of voices to a chorus of bigotry. It was a chilling moment. It was “lock her up” in a white hood. It was despicable.
It could have happened at any Donald Trump rally. It might have happened in any state, north or south. But it happened in Greenville, in our state, and it was one of North Carolina’s darkest moments.
“Send her back.”
Or perhaps not. Maybe the chant will be absorbed in the vortex that is Donald Trump. In a presidency of so many shameful moments, of so many new lows, the singularly awful ones tend to lose their significance. It’s possible that North Carolina might be forgotten when the chant inevitably spreads to the next rally. But North Carolina shouldn’t forget.
The Associated Press: Trump leans on issue of race in bid for a 2nd term in 2020.
President Donald Trump has placed racial animus at the center of his reelection campaign, and even some of his critics believe it could deliver him a second term.
Every successful modern presidential campaign has been built on the notion of addition, winning over voters beyond core supporters. But Trump has chosen division on the belief that the polarized country he leads will simply choose sides over issues like race.
He intensified his attacks on Wednesday, blasting four young congresswomen of color during a rally in Greenville, North Carolina . The crowd responded by chanting, “Send her back!” echoing Trump’s weekend tweet in which he said the lawmakers, all American citizens, should “go back” to the countries from which they came.
“I do think I am winning the political fight,” Trump declared at the White House. “I think I am winning it by a lot.”
Not since George Wallace’s campaign in 1968 has a presidential candidate — and certainly not an incumbent president — put racial polarization at the center of his call to voters. Though Trump’s comments generated outrage and even a resolution of condemnation in the House, the president and his campaign believe the strategy carries far more benefits than risks.
The Irish Times: Fintan O’Toole: Trial runs for fascism are in full flow.
To grasp what is going on in the world right now, we need to reflect on two things. One is that we are in a phase of trial runs. The other is that what is being trialled is fascism – a word that should be used carefully but not shirked when it is so clearly on the horizon. Forget “post-fascist” – what we are living with is pre-fascism.
It is easy to dismiss Donald Trump as an ignoramus, not least because he is. But he has an acute understanding of one thing: test marketing. He created himself in the gossip pages of the New York tabloids, where celebrity is manufactured by planting outrageous stories that you can later confirm or deny depending on how they go down. And he recreated himself in reality TV where the storylines can be adjusted according to the ratings. Put something out there, pull it back, adjust, go again.
Fascism doesn’t arise suddenly in an existing democracy. It is not easy to get people to give up their ideas of freedom and civility. You have to do trial runs that, if they are done well, serve two purposes. They get people used to something they may initially recoil from; and they allow you to refine and calibrate. This is what is happening now and we would be fools not to see it.
One of the basic tools of fascism is the rigging of elections – we’ve seen that trialled in the election of Trump, in the Brexit referendum and (less successfully) in the French presidential elections. Another is the generation of tribal identities, the division of society into mutually exclusive polarities. Fascism does not need a majority – it typically comes to power with about 40 per cent support and then uses control and intimidation to consolidate that power. So it doesn’t matter if most people hate you, as long as your 40 per cent is fanatically committed. That’s been tested out too. And fascism of course needs a propaganda machine so effective that it creates for its followers a universe of “alternative facts” impervious to unwanted realities. Again, the testing for this is very far advanced.
Read the rest at the link above.
Last night Trump also celebrated a meaningless vote in the house about impeachment. Politico suggests that he might actually think the vote has ended the threat.
IT BARELY TOOK THE PRESIDENT ANY TIME before he said this Wednesday evening at his campaign rally in Greenville, N.C.: “I just heard that the United States House of Representatives has overwhelmingly voted to kill the most ridiculous project I’ve ever been involved in: the resolution — how stupid is that — on impeachment. I want to thank those Democrats because many of them voted for us, the vote was a totally lopsided 332-95-1.” … Upon arriving in North Carolina, President Donald Trump said the same thing: “We have just received an overwhelming vote against impeachment. And that’s the end of it. Let the Democrats now go back to work….
a few smart, seasoned people in the White House wondered to us Wednesday night if TRUMP actually believes this vote ended impeachment. Of course, it didn’t. This was a procedural vote that means nothing in the grand scheme of things. There are still nearly 90 Democrats who are now on record supporting an impeachment inquiry, and ROBERT MUELLER is coming to the Hill next week. There are Democrats who believe the impeachment caucus will swell as soon as he opens his mouth.
At Bloomberg, Jonathan Bernstein writes: That Strange Impeachment Vote? It May Be a Big Deal.
Inflaming the base: July 16, 2019
Representative Al Green, a Democrat from Texas, has regularly introduced articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump. Usually, when a regular bill or resolution has been introduced, it’s then referred to committee. If the majority party doesn’t want to consider the bill, it will die with no further action. Under House rules, however, any member can force an impeachment resolution onto the floor as pending business. That’s what Green did Wednesday.
This maneuver doesn’t mean that impeachment gets a final vote, or even debate. What it does get is a “motion to table,” which means that lawmakers can vote to either keep the resolution as pending business or kill it off. When Green did this in 2017, 58 Democrats voted to keep the impeachment measure alive. In 2018, 66 did so. This time, it was up to 95.
Of course, there are more Democrats in the current Congress than in the previous one. And we can’t assume that all the votes to table were necessarily votes against impeachment (pro-impeachment independent Justin Amash voted to table, for instance). Some legislators may have objected to bringing the resolution straight to the floor on procedural grounds, or thought that Green’s articles were poorly drafted. Still, the vote offers a decent proxy for where impeachment sentiment stands in the House: It divides Democrats and unites Republicans in opposition. For now.
What I found interesting was that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who has said she opposes impeachment, apparently didn’t whip the vote. If that’s the case, what does it say about her real position? One interpretation is that she simply wanted to mollify pro-impeachment Democrats by giving them an easy opportunity to express their views. Another is that Pelosi isn’t as opposed to impeachment as she has let on, and was using this vote to gauge sentiment within the caucus – or even to demonstrate that support for ousting the president is growing.
I’ll end with this breaking news from The Miami Herald: Judge keeps Jeffrey Epstein in N.Y. jail as prosecutors build on sex trafficking case.
Wealthy sex offender Jeffrey Epstein will have to wait out a sex trafficking trial from a jail cell after a federal judge in New York ruled Thursday against his request for release on bail.
Epstein, 66, had offered to put up any collateral the judge wished from his self-estimated $559 million fortune. He said he would live in isolation in his Manhattan mansion, and pay for private security to ensure he remains inside and that no one enters unless authorized by the courts.
But with prosecutors warning that Epstein could easily flee or attempt to interfere with their witnesses, Senior U.S. District Judge Richard Berman has ordered that Epstein remain at the Manhattan Correctional Institute as the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York seeks his conviction on child sex trafficking and conspiracy charges. Berman, according to reporters covering the hearing in New York, cited concerns that Epstein is a “danger” to others.
Berman’s ruling is a major victory for Epstein’s accusers, who have grown by the dozens since he was first investigated on trafficking allegations in South Florida more than a dozen years ago. The wealthy financier was first arrested in Palm Beach County in the mid-2000s after police began to suspect that he was abusing underage girls.
I’ll post anything I find about the release of Cohen materials from SDNY. What stories are you following today?
Did you like this post? Please share it with your friends: