Category Archives: Scandals

The Trump crime family cashes in before the Special Counsel closes in

Most of you are already familiar with the three emoluments clause cases filed against Donald Trump for profiting off of foreign governments at his properties as president.

The first case filed by the ethics group CREW (Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington) was dismissed for lack of standing, but that case is currently on appeal.

In the second case brought by the state of Maryland and the District of Columbia (No. 8:17-cv-01596), U.S. District Judge Peter J. Messitte of the District of Maryland ruled that D.C., Maryland can proceed with lawsuit alleging Trump violated emoluments clauses. Judge Messitte rejected an argument made by critics of the lawsuit — that, under the Constitution, only Congress may decide whether the president has violated the emoluments clauses. But Messitte’s ruling also narrowed the lawsuit’s scope to the Trump Hotel in Washington, D.C., saying that the District and Maryland had standing to sue because they could plausibly claim to have been injured by Trump’s receipt of payments from foreign and state governments.

The third case was filed by more than 200 Democratic members of Congress, Blumental et. al v. Trump in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia (No. 1:17-cv-01154), and is presently scheduled for a hearing on a motion to dismiss on June 7, 2018.

The Trump Hotel is only the tip of the iceberg according to reporting over the past week.

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Obstruction of justice in plain sight

Last month after the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York executed search warrants against the homes and offices of Michael Cohen, negotiations between the White House and the Special Counsel for an interview of President Trump reportedly broke down (pro tip: this is all kabuki theater, Trump’s lawyers have absolutely no intention of ever allowing their client whom they know to be a pathological liar to ever sit for an interview, or to testify; Trump will “take the Fifth” in the end).

It was widely reported at the time that the Special Counsel could wrap up the obstruction of justice phase of the investigation “as early as May or as late as July.” Trump, Mueller teams prepare to move forward without presidential interview.

On Sunday, Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s “TV lawyer,” asserted that Mueller Hopes Obstruction Inquiry Into Trump May Wrap Up by Sept. 1:

Mr. Giuliani said that the office of the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, shared its timeline about two weeks ago amid negotiations over whether Mr. Trump will be questioned by investigators, adding that Mr. Mueller’s office said that the date was contingent on Mr. Trump’s sitting for an interview. A spokesman for the special counsel’s office declined to comment.

Giuliani has made a number of claims recently about what the Special Counsel has allegedly told him which I find suspect, and which has not been verified by the Special Counsel. For all we know, this shyster lawyer is just making up shit.

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The anatomy of a right-wing conspiracy theory, debunked

The conservative media entertainment complex is a mixture of wild conspiracy theories and right-wing propaganda. Its goal is to create alternative facts and to distract from the known truth, in creating a post-truth society in which facts do not matter. In a just world, this would be considered a crime against humanity.

This week the Rupert Murdoch owned Wall Street Journal’s Kimberley Strassel and National Review’s Andrew McCarthy opined that a secret “source” of the FBI and CIA was used against the Trump campaign. When he appeared on Rupert Murdoch owned FAUX News aka Trump TV’s Fox and Friends, McCarthy went further: “There’s probably no doubt that they [FBI] had at least one confidential informant in the campaign.”

As we all have sadly come to learn, from Fox and Friends lips to the ears of the Twitter-troll-in-chief Donald Trump: a conspiracy theory is born. Trump marks Mueller anniversary by claiming FBI ‘spied’ on his campaign.

Screen Shot 2018-05-19 at 8.58.40 AM

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Oh, SNAP! GOP House Freedom Caucus revolt on farm bill may backfire with additional support for discharge petition on DACA

This morning the Washington Post reported, Spooked by discharge petition, GOP leaders scramble to kill House immigration rebellion:

House Republican leaders made a full-court press Wednesday to forestall a GOP immigration rebellion that they fear could derail their legislative agenda and throw their effort to hold the majority in doubt.

The effort began in a closed-door morning meeting where Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) warned that a freewheeling immigration debate could have sharp political consequences. McCarthy to GOP: DACA vote could cost us the House. It continued in the evening, when the leaders of a petition effort that would sidestep were summoned to a room with House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.), McCarthy and three other top leaders.

Their message, according to attendees, was that efforts were underway at the highest levels, including with the White House, to get immigration legislation on the House floor before the midterm elections.

Politico adds, “Two additional Republicans, John Katko of New York and David Trott of Michigan, signed on after McCarthy’s scolding, leaving the group just four signatures shy of their goal.”

“Clearly we have had a positive impact on our leadership and on this institution because this issue is being taken seriously, and people are thinking through how something can be achieved,” said Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-Fla.), who filed the “discharge petition” that would set up votes on a series of immigration bills.

The House leaders presented no firm plan for action at the meeting, and the discharge petition effort will continue, Curbelo and others said afterward.

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Buzzfeed investigative report on Michael Cohen and Trump Tower Moscow

Investigative reporters Anthony Cormier and Jason Leopold at Buzzfeed, in a lengthy investigative report, have The Definitive Story Of How Trump’s Team Worked The Trump Moscow Deal During The Campaign:

All through the hot summer campaign of 2016, as Donald Trump and his aides dismissed talk of unseemly ties to Moscow, two of his key business partners were working furiously on a secret track: negotiations to build what would have been the tallest building in Europe and an icon of the Trump empire — the Trump World Tower Moscow.

Talks to construct the 100-story building continued even as the presidential candidate alternately bragged about his relationship with Vladimir Putin and rejected suggestions of Russian influence, and as Russian agents worked to sway US public opinion on Trump’s behalf.

Trump Tower MoscowAn architectural rendering of the proposed Trump Tower in Moscow. Provided to BuzzFeed News.

While fragments of the Trump Moscow venture have trickled out — most recently in a report last night by Yahoo NewsMichael Cohen’s efforts to build a Trump Tower in Moscow went on longer than he has previously acknowledgedthis is the definitive story of the Moscow tower, told from a trove of emails, text messages, congressional testimony, architectural renderings, and other documents obtained exclusively by BuzzFeed News, as well as interviews with key players and investigators. The documents reveal a detailed and plausible plan, well-connected Russian counterparts, and an effort that extended from spearfishing with a Russian developer on a private island to planning for a mid-campaign trip to Moscow for the presidential candidate himself.

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Paul Manafort fails in one court, likely to fail in the other court as well

A federal judge in Washington, D.C. refused Tuesday to throw out criminal charges brought by special counsel Robert Mueller against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort. Judge rejects Manafort claim that Mueller overreaching in probe:

Judge Amy Berman Jackson said the indictment “falls squarely within that portion of the authority granted to the Special Counsel that Manafort finds unobjectionable,” namely the order to investigate any links coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign.

“Manafort was, at one time, not merely ‘associated with,’ but the chairman of, the Presidential campaign, and his work on behalf of the Russia-backed Ukrainian political party and connections to other Russian figures are matters of public record. It was logical and appropriate for investigators tasked with the investigation of ‘any links’ between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign to direct their attention to him,” the judge wrote.

Manafort had argued that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein improperly gave Mueller authority to investigate “any matters that arose or may arise directly from” the investigation of collusion with Russia. His lawyers said that violated Justice Department regulations which specify that a special counsel is appointed to investigate a specific matter.

What Rosenstein gave Mueller, Manafort’s lawyers said, amounted to “a blank check to be filled in after the fact.”

Jackson’s decision rejecting that claim also said the special counsel rules are for the internal management of the Justice Department and do not create any right to sue. Even if they did establish such a right, she said, Mueller didn’t violate them.

Judge Jackson has set a trial date in this case to begin September 17. Judge sets Sept. 17 trial date for Manafort on Mueller charges.

Mueller filed similar criminal charges in Alexandria, Virginia, and on May 4, Manafort’s lawyers urged Federal District Court Judge T.S. Ellis to toss them out, too. Ellis appeared to be somewhat receptive to their argument, taunting members of Mueller’s team.

“You don’t really care about Mr. Manafort’s bank fraud. Well, the government does. You really care about what information Mr. Manafort can give you that would reflect on Mr. Trump or lead to his prosecution or impeachment or whatever. That’s what you’re really interested in,” he said.

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