Tag Archives: National Security

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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Rep. Devin Nunes would endanger a top-secret intelligence source in his quest to obstruct justice in the Russia investigation

The New York Times reported last week that top Justice Department and FBI officials “suspect that some GOP lawmakers were using their oversight authority to gain intelligence” about the Special Counsel’s evidence and work product in the Russia probe that could be handed over to the White House.

As I previously explained, GOP House Freedom Caucus members are accessories to a conspiracy for obstruction of justice.

But no one has been more blatant in his attempts to obstruct justice than Midnight Run Devin Nunes (R-CA), Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.

Daily Kos reported Nunes threatens to hold Sessions ‘in contempt’ for not turning over documents he doesn’t even read:

[Nunes] has routinely demanded documents from the Department of Justice be handed over to him that, given the chance to review instead of actually take into his possession, he has declined to read.

Unfortunately, the fact that Nunes chairs the House Intelligence Committee is more than just a perverse joke by the universe, since he’s wielding his ignorance like a battering ram against the Justice Department’s special counsel investigation into Russia’s 2016 election interference.

On Sunday, Nunes threatened anew to hold a Justice Department official “in contempt” of Congress for not producing more documents he has no interest in actually reading. This time, Attorney General Jeff Sessions found himself in the crosshairs alongside Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who has previously earned Nunes’ uninformed ire.

“The only thing left to do is we have to move quickly to hold the attorney general of the United States in contempt and that is what I will press for this week,” Nunes told Fox News.

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Follow the money: Russian money flowed into Michael Cohen’s business, but to whom did it flow, and for what purpose?

Stormy Daniels lawyer Michael Avenatti is not saying how he came into possession of financial records of Michael Cohen, but at some point he may be required to disclose this to the court.

On Tuesday, Avenatti posted online a “Project Sunlight” executive summary (.pdf) for reporters to review. Avenatti examines Essential Consultants LLC, a Delaware company, on Oct. 17, 2016, just a few weeks before Election Day. The company’s banking records are from the First Republic Bank branch (“First Republic”) located in Manhattan, New York City, New York.

Avenatti alleges that representations made to the bank to open the account “were false when made and continued to be false at all material times based on the activity occurring in the account. This likely constitutes bank fraud.”

The media narrative has been that Essential Consultants LLC was used as a cut out for the payment of the $130,000 to Stormy Daniels, which it was.

But Michael Cohen was also using his company for a “pay to play” scheme to sell his access to Donald Trump as his personal attorney.

Avenatti alleges that “From October 2016 through January 2018, Mr. Cohen used his First Republic account to engage in suspicious financial transactions totaling $4,425,033.46.” Among these transactions include:

  • Chief among these suspicious financial transactions are approximately $500,000 in payments received from Mr. Viktor Vekselberg, a Russian Oligarch with an estimated net worth of nearly $13 Billion. Mr. Vekselberg and his cousin Mr. Andrew Intrater routed eight payments to Mr. Cohen through a company named Columbus Nova LLC (“Columbus”) beginning in January 2017 and continuing until at least August 2017.
  • Columbus Nova is a private equity firm founded in 2000 with over $2 billion in assets. Mr. Intrater is the CEO of Columbus Nova. Columbus Nova is the U.S. investment vehicle for Renova Group, a multi-national company controlled by Mr. Vekselberg. Renova group holds investments in various interests, including mining, oil, and telecommunications .
  • Also included in these suspicious financial transactions are four payments in late 2017 and early 2018 totaling $399,920 made by global pharmaceutical giant Novartis directly to Essential in four separate transactions of $99,980 each (just below $100,000).
  • In addition, Essential received $200,000 in four separate payments of $50,000 in late 2017 and early 2018 from AT&T.
  • Essential also received a $150,000 payment in November 2017 from Korea Aerospace Industries LTD.

There are a several other financial transactions highlighted in Avenatti’s executive summary.

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Trump violates the Iran Nuclear Deal in pursuit of another ‘stupid war’ with Iran

History doesn’t repeat itself but it often rhymes.” – Attributed to Mark Twain

Last week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did his best reprisal of Secretary of State Colin Powell before the United Nations Security Council in February 2003, citing old intelligence conflated into a current threat in making the U.S. case for war with Iraq. Powell Blames Himself, Others For Specious Iraq WMD Claims to U.N.: “A failure will always be attached to me and my U.N. presentation,” Powell writes in “It Worked For Me,” a book that provides leadership advice. “I am mad mostly at myself for not having smelled the problem. My instincts failed me.”

Benjamin Netanyahu will not be so introspective in making his case to President Donald Trump to undermine the Iran Deal, and to set the stage for a war with Iran, something this Neocon war monger has long desired.

President Trump today cited Netanyahu’s presentation in announcing that the U.S. will violate the Iran Deal by withdrawing from the agreement and reimposing nuclear sanctions on Iran. Read Trump’s Speech Withdrawing From the Iran Deal:

At the heart of the Iran deal was a giant fiction that a murderous regime desired only a peaceful nuclear-energy program. Today, we have definitive proof that this Iranian promise was a lie. Last week, Israel published intelligence documents, long-concealed by Iran, conclusively showing the Iranian regime and its history of pursuing nuclear weapons.

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We have seen this play before: Neocons want to get their war on with Iran

President Trump’s selection of the Neocon “godfather” of the Iraq War and Islamophobe John Bolton as his National Security advisor, Trump betrays his supporters with John Bolton pick, signaling more ‘stupid wars’, and fellow Islamophobe Mike Pompeo narrowly confirmed as Secretary of State last week, Pompeo as secretary of state makes Mideast war more likely, makes recertification of the Iran Nuclear Deal on or before the May 12 deadline unlikely, despite pleas from the other major powers to the agreement for the U.S. to honor its commitment to the Iran Nuclear Deal. U.S. allies press Trump to keep Iran nuclear deal alive:

Western allies stepped up pressure on U.S. President Donald Trump to keep alive an international nuclear deal with Iran,

Trump has said that unless European allies fix what he has called its “terrible flaws” by May 12, he will restore U.S. economic sanctions on Iran, which would be a severe blow to the pact.

French President Emmanuel Macron, who was in the U.S. last week for a state visit and addressed a joint session of Congress (video), emphasized there was no “Plan B” for keeping a lid on Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

And then there is this old Neocon war monger who, like Trump, is the subject of a criminal investigation by his attorney general’s office, who would welcome the distraction and nationalistic unifying effect of yet another Mideast war:

Trump’s opposition to the deal has been welcomed by Israel, which has rejected the pact since it was being hammered out under former U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration.

“Israel will not allow regimes that seek our annihilation to acquire nuclear weapons. This is why we opposed so resolutely the Iran deal, because it gives Iran a clear path to a nuclear arsenal,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a speech to foreign diplomats on Monday in Jerusalem.

Listing objections, Netanyahu added, “This is why this deal has to be either fully fixed or fully nixed.”

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‘It’s déjà vu all over again’ on North Korea

It’s déjà vu all over again.” – Yogi Berra

The headline at POLITICO reads As Korean leaders make history, Trump stands ready to take credit:

KoreanLeaders

A dramatic Friday meeting between the leaders of North and South Korea is stoking optimism that President Donald Trump might strike a historic nuclear deal with the North Korean leader, Kim Jong Un — leading skeptics to worry that expectations are growing dangerously high.

Screen Shot 2018-04-30 at 12.55.36 PMScreen Shot 2018-04-30 at 12.54.46 PM

Trump sycophants in the personality cult of Trump are already spiking the ball before having scored in the end zone, saying that Trump – rather than the leaders of North and South Korea – should get a Nobel Peace Prize.

Trump himself wasn’t talking about peace prizes on Friday. But as remarkable images emerged of the bellicose Kim stepping for the first time across his country’s border with South Korea, the president’s excitement — and desire for credit — was plain to see.

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However stirring the images of Kim’s visit to south were, the resulting talks between the Koreas produced few specifics and left open numerous crucial questions, including whether and how the Korean War — which halted in 1953 without a formal peace treaty — might be ended.

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