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"They"re Trying To Run Out The Clock": Kari Lake Files 1st Lawsuit After Election

"They're Trying To Run Out The Clock": Kari Lake Files 1st Lawsuit After Election Authored by Zachary Stieber via The Epoch Times, Arizona Republican gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake on Nov. 23 filed a lawsuit against Maricopa County. Lake sued Stephen Richer, the county’s recorder, and other officials in Arizona Superior Court. She’s asking the court to compel the officials to promptly produce records on the administration of the midterm elections, which featured widespread issues in the state’s largest county. “Given instances of misprinted ballots, the commingling of counted and uncounted ballots, and long lines discouraging people from voting, as demonstrated in the attached declarations, these records are necessary for Plaintiff to determine the full extent of the problems identified and their impacts on electors,” the 19-page suit states. Maricopa County officials have acknowledged that tabulators across many polling sites stopped working properly on election day. Among the advised solutions was voters placing their ballots into a box to be counted later. Declarations attached to the new suit from poll observers say that workers mixed counted and uncounted ballots in the same container at the end of the night. Another solution to the tabulator problem was a voter checking out of a site and utilizing a mail-in ballot. To try to figure out the extent of the problems, the Lake campaign on Nov. 15 requested information such as all records related to voters who checked into a site and who also submitted a ballot by mail. The campaign sent another request on Nov. 16. None of the records have been produced yet, which violates Arizona law that public record requests must be fulfilled “promptly,” the suit states. “We need information from Maricopa County,” Lake said on Steve Bannon’s “War Room.” “They ran the shoddiest election ever, in history, and we want some information. We’re on a timeline, a very strict timeline when it comes to fighting this botched election. And they’re dragging their feet. They don’t want to give us the information, so we’re asking the courts to force them to give us the information.” At present, Lake’s opponent Katie Hobbs, a Democrat who serves as Arizona’s secretary of state, is ahead in the race. Maricopa County is scheduled to canvass the results on Nov. 28, with the state following on Dec. 5. Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey this week said he’s working to help Hobbs transition to become governor. The suit asks the court to compel the county to produce the records prior to the canvassing. “This deadline (or its substantial equivalent) is, under the circumstances presented, necessary to ensure that vital public records are furnished promptly and that apparent deficiencies can be remedied before canvassing of the 2022 general election,” it says. Maricopa County did not return requests for comment on a different lawsuit filed this week by Abe Hamadeh, the Republican candidate for state attorney general, and the Republican National Committee. Its offices were closed on Thursday for Thanksgiving. An election worker carries trays filled with mail in ballots to open and verify at the Maricopa County Tabulation and Election Center in Phoenix, Ariz., on Nov. 11, 2022. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images) Attorney General The office of Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich, a Republican, recently requested information from Thomas Liddy, the chief of the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office’s Civil Division, after receiving hundreds of complaints about issues related to the midterms. “These complaints go beyond pure speculation, but include first-hand witness accounts that raise concerns regarding Maricopa’s lawful compliance with Arizona election law,” Assistant Attorney General Jennifer Wright wrote. “Furthermore, statements made by both Chairman Gates and Recorder Richer, along with information Maricopa County released through official modes of communication appear to confirm potential statutory violations of title 16.” The information indicated that the county did not uniformly administer the election, as is required by state and federal law, and that poll workers weren’t trained to check out voters who left sites where the tabulators weren’t working right, she added. Wright requested the information on or before the county submits its canvass to the secretary of state because the issues “relate to Maricopa County’s ability to lawfully certify election results.” Bill Gates, the Republican chairman of the county’s Board of Supervisors, said in a statement that the county would not delay the canvass. “Prior to the canvass, the County will respond to a letter from the Arizona Attorney General’s Office requesting information about the administration of the November General Election,” he said at the time. “Board members received this letter on Saturday night and had a team working on a response all day Sunday, even as staff continued counting votes. We look forward to answering the AG’s questions with transparency as we have done throughout this election.” Brnovich’s office has not indicated that the county has provided the information, nor has the county said it handed over the information. Lake said on “War Room” that the county is “trying to run out the clock,” referring to the looming canvass. Not the ‘Main Case’ At least one other lawsuit is in the works, according to Lake. “This is not our main case. When our main case drops, they will hear it,” she said. Lake reiterated that whistleblowers are coming forward and that officials “better think long and hard” before certifying the election in light of the widespread issues that unfolded in Maricopa County. The forthcoming suit may cite findings from nearly a dozen Republican attorneys who observed the election at Maricopa County sites and attested to the tabulator failures being more widespread than county officials presented. The issues led to “substantial voter suppression,” attorney Mark Sonnenklar wrote in a memorandum summarizing the findings. Since Republicans voted in larger numbers on the day than Democrats, “such voter suppression would necessarily impact the vote tallies for Republican candidates much more than the vote tallies for Democrat candidates,” he added. Tyler Durden Thu, 11/24/2022 - 19:10.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytNov 24th, 2022

"They"re Trying To Run Out The Clock": Kari Lake Files 1st Lawsuit After Election

"They're Trying To Run Out The Clock": Kari Lake Files 1st Lawsuit After Election Authored by Zachary Stieber via The Epoch Times, Arizona Republican gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake on Nov. 23 filed a lawsuit against Maricopa County. Lake sued Stephen Richer, the county’s recorder, and other officials in Arizona Superior Court. She’s asking the court to compel the officials to promptly produce records on the administration of the midterm elections, which featured widespread issues in the state’s largest county. “Given instances of misprinted ballots, the commingling of counted and uncounted ballots, and long lines discouraging people from voting, as demonstrated in the attached declarations, these records are necessary for Plaintiff to determine the full extent of the problems identified and their impacts on electors,” the 19-page suit states. Maricopa County officials have acknowledged that tabulators across many polling sites stopped working properly on election day. Among the advised solutions was voters placing their ballots into a box to be counted later. Declarations attached to the new suit from poll observers say that workers mixed counted and uncounted ballots in the same container at the end of the night. Another solution to the tabulator problem was a voter checking out of a site and utilizing a mail-in ballot. To try to figure out the extent of the problems, the Lake campaign on Nov. 15 requested information such as all records related to voters who checked into a site and who also submitted a ballot by mail. The campaign sent another request on Nov. 16. None of the records have been produced yet, which violates Arizona law that public record requests must be fulfilled “promptly,” the suit states. “We need information from Maricopa County,” Lake said on Steve Bannon’s “War Room.” “They ran the shoddiest election ever, in history, and we want some information. We’re on a timeline, a very strict timeline when it comes to fighting this botched election. And they’re dragging their feet. They don’t want to give us the information, so we’re asking the courts to force them to give us the information.” At present, Lake’s opponent Katie Hobbs, a Democrat who serves as Arizona’s secretary of state, is ahead in the race. Maricopa County is scheduled to canvass the results on Nov. 28, with the state following on Dec. 5. Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey this week said he’s working to help Hobbs transition to become governor. The suit asks the court to compel the county to produce the records prior to the canvassing. “This deadline (or its substantial equivalent) is, under the circumstances presented, necessary to ensure that vital public records are furnished promptly and that apparent deficiencies can be remedied before canvassing of the 2022 general election,” it says. Maricopa County did not return requests for comment on a different lawsuit filed this week by Abe Hamadeh, the Republican candidate for state attorney general, and the Republican National Committee. Its offices were closed on Thursday for Thanksgiving. An election worker carries trays filled with mail in ballots to open and verify at the Maricopa County Tabulation and Election Center in Phoenix, Ariz., on Nov. 11, 2022. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images) Attorney General The office of Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich, a Republican, recently requested information from Thomas Liddy, the chief of the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office’s Civil Division, after receiving hundreds of complaints about issues related to the midterms. “These complaints go beyond pure speculation, but include first-hand witness accounts that raise concerns regarding Maricopa’s lawful compliance with Arizona election law,” Assistant Attorney General Jennifer Wright wrote. “Furthermore, statements made by both Chairman Gates and Recorder Richer, along with information Maricopa County released through official modes of communication appear to confirm potential statutory violations of title 16.” The information indicated that the county did not uniformly administer the election, as is required by state and federal law, and that poll workers weren’t trained to check out voters who left sites where the tabulators weren’t working right, she added. Wright requested the information on or before the county submits its canvass to the secretary of state because the issues “relate to Maricopa County’s ability to lawfully certify election results.” Bill Gates, the Republican chairman of the county’s Board of Supervisors, said in a statement that the county would not delay the canvass. “Prior to the canvass, the County will respond to a letter from the Arizona Attorney General’s Office requesting information about the administration of the November General Election,” he said at the time. “Board members received this letter on Saturday night and had a team working on a response all day Sunday, even as staff continued counting votes. We look forward to answering the AG’s questions with transparency as we have done throughout this election.” Brnovich’s office has not indicated that the county has provided the information, nor has the county said it handed over the information. Lake said on “War Room” that the county is “trying to run out the clock,” referring to the looming canvass. Not the ‘Main Case’ At least one other lawsuit is in the works, according to Lake. “This is not our main case. When our main case drops, they will hear it,” she said. Lake reiterated that whistleblowers are coming forward and that officials “better think long and hard” before certifying the election in light of the widespread issues that unfolded in Maricopa County. The forthcoming suit may cite findings from nearly a dozen Republican attorneys who observed the election at Maricopa County sites and attested to the tabulator failures being more widespread than county officials presented. The issues led to “substantial voter suppression,” attorney Mark Sonnenklar wrote in a memorandum summarizing the findings. Since Republicans voted in larger numbers on the day than Democrats, “such voter suppression would necessarily impact the vote tallies for Republican candidates much more than the vote tallies for Democrat candidates,” he added. Tyler Durden Thu, 11/24/2022 - 19:10.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytNov 24th, 2022

Fetterman Predicts "Dramatic" Overnight Comeback, Taps Clinton Lawyer To Fight PA Election Law

Fetterman Predicts 'Dramatic' Overnight Comeback, Taps Clinton Lawyer To Fight PA Election Law Pennsylvania lieutenant governor and Democratic US Senate candidate John Fetterman predicted on Monday that his Republican challenger, Dr. Mehmet Oz, will take an early lead on election day, only for a "dramatic" change to happen overnight as more ballots are counted, according to the Western Journal. "Counting for ballots cast by mail and early in-person cannot begin until Election Day, thanks to the GOP-controlled legislature — an intentional move to help Republicans baselessly sow doubt about the election results when it suits them,” Fetterman wrote in a memo to “interested parties," reads a memo from Fetterman, according to the Washington Post. "Pennsylvania is one of only eight states that bans pre-processing of early mail-in ballots, forcing county officials to wait until 7 a.m. on Tuesday to begin opening returned ballots and scanning them into the system," he added. Fetterman pointed to the 1.4 million mail-in ballots requested, saying they will skew heavily Democratic when counted. The journalistic consortium Spotlight PA reported that roughly 70 percent of the mail-in ballot requests came from registered Democrats. -Western Journal "The biggest share of absentee and mail ballot requests came from Allegheny County [which includes Pittsburgh] and Philadelphia — nearly a quarter of the total," Spotlight reports. "Because Pennsylvania is one of the only states that reports Election Day totals first before ballots cast by mail, and because more populated counties around Philadelphia can take longer to report, we should expect one of the most dramatic shifts in the country from initial GOP support in early results to stronger Democratic gains as more votes are processed," said Fetterman. Meanwhile, Fetterman has tapped controversial Clinton lawyer Marc Elias' firm to challenge Pennsylvania election provisions. As Jonathan Turley writes; Democratic Senate candidate John Fetterman and other Democrats have filed a federal lawsuit to strike down parts of Pennsylvania’s election law after the state Supreme Court ruled that mail-in ballots with incorrect dates or no dates should not be counted.Fetterman is challenging the state law on constitutional and federal statutes. He has turned to a controversial former lawyer for Hillary Clinton to seek to strike down the provision. John Fetterman, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) is suing Pennsylvania’s 67 county boards of elections over the “Date Instruction,” which prevents counties from counting undated or wrongly dated mail-in ballots (ballots that are timely cast and valid but missing a date on their outer return envelopes). The challenge is brought under the First and Fourteenth Amendments as well as the Materiality Provision of the Civil Rights Act. The Supreme Court previously ruled that these rules are mandatory in Date Instruction on a Petition for Discretionary Review in In re Canvass of Absentee and Mail-In Ballots of November 3, 2020 General Election, 241 A.3d 1058, 1062 (Pa. 2020). A majority found the language of the law to be clear and mandatory. The requirement is contained in Section 3150.16 of the Election Code: At any time after receiving an official mail-in ballot, but on or before eight o’clock P.M. the day of the primary or election, the mail-in elector shall, in secret, proceed to mark the ballot only in black lead pencil, indelible pencil or blue, black or blue-black ink, in fountain pen or ball point pen, and then fold the ballot, enclose and securely seal the same in the envelope on which is printed, stamped or endorsed “Official Election Ballot.” This envelope shall then be placed in the second one, on which is printed the form of declaration of the elector, and the address of the elector’s county board of election and the local election district of the elector. The elector shall then fill out, date and sign the declaration printed on such envelope. Such envelope shall then be securely sealed and the elector shall send same by mail, postage prepaid, except where franked, or deliver it in person to said county board of election. 25 P.S. § 3150.16(a) (emphasis added). The majority held that, regardless of the perceived wisdom of such requirements, it is unambiguously required by the state of Pennsylvania after being approved by the state legislature Fetterman is now asking the federal courts to negate the state provision as an “unnecessary impediment [under] the Civil Rights Act and the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.” The problem is that the legislature clearly concluded that such dates are material to the security of the vote-by-mail system.  Fetterman is asking the federal court to simply declare that it is not since Section 101(a) of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 provides: “No person acting under color of law shall . . . deny the right of any individual to vote in any election because of an error or omission on any record or paper relating to any application, registration, or other act requisite to voting, if such error or omission is not material in determining whether such individual is qualified under State law to vote in such election.” Under the constitutional claims, Fetterman argues that “the Date Instruction serves no legitimate purpose. It is a trivial procedural formality that functions only to disenfranchise eligible voters seeking to vote.” Fetterman is relying on the controversial former Clinton counsel Marc Elias and his Elias Law Group. We have previously discussed the controversial history of Elias, including accusations by reporters of allegedly denying the funding of Steele Dossier by the Clinton campaign. He has also been sanctioned by the courts and the Clinton campaign was recently sanctioned by the FEC over its hiding of the funding of the dossier through his prior firm Elias has also been criticized for challenging elections when he and other Democratic lawyers denounced Republican challenges as a threat to democracy.  Elias later came under intense criticism after a tweet that some have called inherently racist. He was denounced for a tweet where he suggested that Georgia voters could not be expected to be able to read their driver’s licenses correctly — a statement that seemed to refer to minority voters who would be disproportionately impacted by such a requirement. The use of Elias backfired in the prior election when Terry McAuliffe hired Elias to make challenges against now Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s campaign. In this case, local counsel is Adam C. Bonin, who signed the complaint below. Here is the complaint: Fetterman lawsuit Tyler Durden Tue, 11/08/2022 - 10:05.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytNov 8th, 2022

Jim Obergefell"s Supreme Court case helped legalize same-sex marriage 7 years ago. Now, he could become the only openly gay member of Ohio"s state House.

Running for office for the first time, Obergefell counts Rick Hodges — his opponent in the 2015 Supreme Court case — as a supporter of his campaign. Jim Obergefell speaks with voters at a park in Sandusky, Ohio on July 18, 2022.AP Photo/Nick Cammett The Supreme Court's ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges legalized same-sex marriage nationwide 7 years ago. Now, Jim Obergefell — the man for which that case was named — is running for Ohio state House. Insider spoke with him in his hometown of Sandusky about the campaign and his perspective on LGBTQ issues. SANDUSKY, Ohio — As a crowd of roughly a hundred people milled about on a cold Thursday morning awaiting the arrival of US Senate candidate Tim Ryan in his bright-red campaign bus, a bald, bespectacled man was busy chatting people up."I'm looking forward to November 8th getting here," the man could be heard saying to a handful of attendees. "But you know, the nice thing is, everything I went through with the court case — a lot of that really prepared me for something like this."The "court case" in question was Obergefell v. Hodges, the landmark 2015 civil rights case in which the Supreme Court ruled five to four that same-sex couples were guaranteed the right to marry. And the man for which the case was named, Jim Obergefell, was at the Sandusky event in his capacity as the Democratic nominee in Ohio House District 89, a Republican-held seat in northern Ohio."I think a lot of us hear when we're growing up, you know, 'one person, a couple people can change the world,'" Obergefell told Insider during an interview at a local coffee shop the day before the Ryan event. "And I think most of us were like, 'whatever, that's just a saying.'"Obergefell speaks with local voters at Jackson Street Pier in Sandusky on October 27, 2022.Bryan Metzger/Insider"I lived it," he said after a brief pause. "And I have to keep being part of making things better."If elected, Obergefell would be the only openly gay member of the state House and just the third openly LGBTQ legislator in state history. But he says he's not deterred by that reality, suggesting a more advocate-like role for himself in the legislature."Someone has to do it. I mean, our government is dysfunctional. Ohio is dysfunctional," said Obergefell. "Someone has to be there as a voice of common sense, a voice of human decency, and a voice who won't be afraid to say, 'this is wrong, this is harming people.'"A household name in the race In July 2013, Obergefell and his late husband, John Arthur, initiated a lawsuit in a federal district court against the state of Ohio demanding recognition of a marriage performed in Maryland just days earlier. Arthur, who was Obergefell's partner of 20 years, was suffering from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and would die just three months later. Under Ohio law at the time, his death certificate would have listed him as unmarried. As the case made its way towards the nation's highest court, it was consolidated with other similar cases across a handful of other states. Because Obergefell's case had the lowest case number, his name would go on to become synonymous with marriage equality.Today, the defendant in the case — then-Ohio Secretary of Health Richard Hodges — counts himself as a friend of Obergefell's and a supporter of his campaign."I wasn't an enthusiastic proponent of the law," Hodges, himself a former Republican state legislator, told Insider in a phone interview, referring to Ohio's ban on same-sex marriage. "I understood the equal protection consequences in what the court was going to be looking at, and was sympathetic."Much has changed for Obergefell in the last nine years, as circumstances and fateful choices transformed a Cincinnati real estate broker and IT professional into what Hodges calls a "civil rights rock-star."A button for Obergefell's state House campaign.Bryan Metzger/InsiderToday, Obergefell is trying out the role of politician, knocking doors in his hometown on the coast of Lake Erie and often engaging with voters about more basic economic concerns. And he's doing so at a time when marriage equality is once again the subject of federal debate and states adopt legislation seen as targeting LGBTQ people. Obergefell's opponent, Republican state representative DJ Swearingen, is the chief co-sponsor of a bill that echoes Florida's Parental Rights in Education Act — commonly known as the "Don't Say Gay" law. That effort has prompted denunciation from the local paper's editorial board. "Those things don't create jobs," said Obergefell. "They don't protect our environment, they don't make sure Lake Erie is clean, and healthy, and protected going forward. It doesn't make sure that health care, affordable, quality health care is available to everyone. It doesn't do anything to protect families, or to respect families."'At least think about it'Obergefell says he was first approached about running for office just days after the 2015 Supreme Court ruling when Brian Sims, a gay Democratic state legislator from Pennsylvania, told him to consider it."Jim, people are going to start mentioning public service to you," Obergefell recounted Sims telling him. "He said, 'do me a favor: don't just say no, don't just brush it off, at least think about it.'"But Obergefell was still mourning the loss of his husband John, who died in October 2013. In 2016, he made the decision to move from his long-time home in Cincinnati to Washington, DC, embracing his new-found role as a political activist and hoping for a fresh start."There were just too many ghosts. Everywhere I went, I saw John," he said.Obergefell threw himself into a variety of new ventures that included co-founding a wine company that supports LGBTQ rights and other progressive causes, co-authoring a book about the landmark Supreme Court case, serving on the board of an organization that advocates for LGBTQ elders, and working for Family Equality, a nonprofit that advocates for LGBTQ families. He also became a public speaker, appearing regularly at universities and in corporate settings.He later moved back to Ohio in 2019, initially settling in Columbus because — having spent three years in DC — he wanted to live in a place with a large, active queer community. But the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting isolation led him to re-evaluate his life once more, and he moved back to his hometown of Sandusky in June 2021."I mean, all five of my siblings are still in the area, most of my nieces and nephews," he said. "There's something really, really joyful about still being in touch with, going out with, people I've known since the age of three."Obergefell poses with Democratic US Senate candidate Tim Ryan at Jackson Street Pier in Sandusky on October 27, 2022.Bryan Metzger/InsiderWhen Chris Redfern — the last Democrat to hold the Sandusky-area district and a former state party chair — asked Obergefell to run, he accepted, formally launching his campaign in January 2022. And the fact that this is Obergefell's hometown is immediately apparent; his campaign treasurer, Judi Nath, told Insider at the Ryan event that she's known Obergefell since they were both 12 years old.'Someone has to do it'Knocking doors on a near-daily basis across the district, Obergefell says he's been encouraged by the reception he's gotten in his Rust Belt district and has yet to have a negative experience at someone's doorstep. He also benefits from an unusually high degree of name recognition for a state legislative candidate, owing to the national attention he's received and his presence as a notable local figure."It isn't unusual for people to say, 'I know who you are, and I'm voting for you,'" he said.He attended Sandusky's first Pride parade in 2018 while still living in DC, and was presented with keys to the city at last year's celebration. Local organizers have even taken to calling Sandusky the "birthplace of marriage equality.""I don't start with it, and I don't focus on it," he said of his association with the 2015 Supreme Court case. "I will mention it, just as part of expressing what my values are."Obergefell said he's encouraged by not just the social changes he's seen in Sandusky, but by positive signs of economic revitalization. Downtown, buildings have been recently reconstructed and trendy restaurants and bars can be found on most blocks."The city is, in my mind, finally embracing the lake," he said. "That really is a big driver of our economy, because of tourism and recreation."Obergefell appears to stand a decent chance of making it into office. Though Republicans have held the seat since 2014, the first-time candidate has significantly outraised his Republican opponent in 2022, according the campaign finance tracking website Follow The Money. But even if he wins, he's likely to have diminished power as a lawmaker, since partisan control of the chamber is expected to remain in Republican hands.Obergefell stands on Columbus Ave in Sandusky, OH on October 26, 2022.Bryan Metzger/InsiderGenerally soft-spoken, Obergefell becomes particularly animated when talking about the threats he sees against LGBTQ people, especially transgender people. The Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade and eliminate the constitutional right to an abortion, he says, has put a "target on the back of marriage equality." And while he says he's "hopeful" that the Senate will codify same-sex marriage into law, he warns against deriving any comfort from the fact that Republicans generally express disinterest in revoking marriage equality, as Insider reported earlier this year."They're just waiting to see which way the winds blow," he said. "And if they see a benefit in the future of jumping on the bandwagon of, 'yeah, this should be overturned,' what's going to stop them from doing that?"'I want to find love again'Obergefell says he's given little thought to what might be next if he loses, an outcome very much in the realm of possibility."Good question!" he exclaimed after a lengthy pause. He suggested he could return to the nonprofit world, saying he had a "great experience" working for Family Equality. "But who knows, maybe some other opportunity will present itself and I'll think, 'oh, maybe I should do this now!'"That spontaneous, see-what-comes-next approach is largely how Obergefell has lived his life over the course of the last decade. But personally, he's continued to mourn the loss of his late husband, the 9 year anniversary of which passed in October. He says that both grieving and a busy travel schedule have prevented him from getting back into dating. "John is still so present in my mind, in my heart," said Obergefell. "That lawsuit happened because I love John. He was dying. We wanted to exist. We wanted to matter. We wanted to be seen by our government." Obergefell noted that as he was bed-ridden and in need of around-the-clock care in the final months of his life, Arthur would frequently tell him that he wanted him to find love after he had passed. But he says that he may now be ready, and that he found some closure in a ceremony celebrating the opening of John Arthur Flats, an LGBTQ-friendly senior housing facility in Cincinnati named after his late husband."A lot of people lose a loved one, and not many of them have that loved one's name on something like that," he said. "Very, very few of them have a Supreme Court case that happened because of that relationship.""So I feel really lucky that I have that," he added.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytNov 2nd, 2022

Threats against judges skyrocketed during the Trump era, and experts are now fearing for the worst

An arrest outside the home of Justice Brett Kavanaugh and packages containing suspicious white powder have underscored the threats to judges' safety. President Donald Trump watches as Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas administers the Constitutional Oath to Amy Coney Barrett on the South Lawn of the White House White House in Washington on October 26, 2020.Alex Brandon/AP At least three packages with white powder have arrived at the federal courthouse in Washington, DC. Federal judges involved in matters related to the FBI's search of Mar-a-Lago have also faced threats. The number of logged threats to judges and other officials nearly doubled early in the Trump era. On the campaign trail in 2016, Donald Trump took an unusual tack as he defended his namesake "university" against fraud allegations.Rather than deferring to his lawyers, or reserving his public rhetoric for the former Trump University students behind the class-action lawsuit, Trump impugned the character of the federal judge presiding over the case."I have a judge who is a hater of Donald Trump, a hater. He's a hater," Trump said of Judge Gonzalo Curiel, a 2012 appointee to the federal trial court in San Diego. A month later, as Trump called for building a wall on the US-Mexico border, the future president noted the Indiana-born judge's Mexican heritage to question whether he could rule impartially in the Trump University case.The remarks set the tone for what legal experts saw as Trump's politicization of the federal judiciary. Trump would go on to win the election, and his four-year White House term would coincide with a remarkable rise in threats to federal judges and other officials under the protection of the US Marshals Service, according to government data reviewed by Insider.Between fiscal years 2016 and 2018, the total of reported threats nearly doubled, from 2,357 to 4,542, according to a US Marshals Service report. The total has remained above 4,000 every year since, according to the annual report for the fiscal year 2021 — the latest year for which data are available.In a statement to Insider, a spokesperson for Trump blamed the trend on the news media and liberals."The trend is due, nearly entirely, to a divisive media who defines every decision made by a Republican-appointed judge in partisan terms, while failing to do so for decisions made by Democrat-appointed judges," the spokesperson, Taylor Budowich, said in an email. "It is also due to the radical left activists who threaten the lives of judges to try to influence the court, like after the draft Roe v Wade decision was leaked. The media and the left have a disgusting and reckless disregard for the safety of America's judge [sic]."In an interview, former Judge John Jones attributed the rise in threats to a "road-rage society," in which public figures are not confining their criticism to points of disagreement but going further to impugn the character of their perceived opponents."It's completely irresponsible. It's like public figure malpractice, because we're dealing with a really volatile public at this point," Jones, a George W. Bush appointee, told Insider. "I'm sickened by the fact that we can't moderate some of this rhetoric. It's literally become so toxic now that I think we're going to get somebody hurt or killed by it."Jones, now the president of Dickinson College in Pennsylvania, wrote an op-ed in August — title: "I'm afraid a judge is going to be killed" — after a federal magistrate judge came under threat for signing off on a search warrant allowing the FBI to search Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate and private club in South Florida.Following the FBI raid, Magistrate Judge Bruce E. Reinhardt faced an onslaught of antisemitic attacks and online threats, including some targeting the synagogue where he serves on the board. "He and judges like him signed up for a job that entails risk, but they didn't sign up to be killed," Jones wrote in the Philadelphia Inquirer.A month later, a Texas woman was arrested on charges she left threatening messages on the voicemail of Judge Aileen Cannon, the Trump appointee presiding over the former president's legal challenges to the FBI's seizure of thousands of records from Mar-a-Lago, Trump's resort residence in Palm Beach, Florida. In those voicemails, the woman threatened to have Cannon assassinated in front of her family for "helping" the former president, according to court filings.That case came just months after the arrest, in June, of a man who arrived outside the house of Justice Brett Kavanaugh with a gun, knife, and zip-ties. In court papers charging the man with attempting to kill Kavanaugh, prosecutors said the man told police that he was upset with a leaded draft opinion showing that the Supreme Court was poised to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark case that established a constitutional right to an abortion.Weeks before the man's arrest, Attorney General Merrick Garland ordered around-the-clock protection for Supreme Court justices in response to the leaked draft opinion. But, as the threats to the federal judges in South Florida showed, the trend is extending down through the lower courts.As recently as last week, a grand jury indicted a Pennsylvania man on charges he sent a letter to Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson, chair of the House January 6 committee, containing what appeared to be a white powder. A message in the letter alluded to anthrax and included threats to kill Thompson, his family, President Joe Biden, and Judge Robert D. Mariani, of the US District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania.This year, at least three packages containing suspicious white powder have arrived at the federal courthouse in Washington, DC, according to people familiar with the incidents and local officials. Hazmat crews responded each time and determined the packages — reminiscent of anthrax-laced threats sent after the 9/11 attacks — did not contain a hazardous substance.The latest of such packages arrived in August and entered the chambers of Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly — a rare breach that unnerved judges and courthouse staff, according to people familiar with the incident. The substance in the package turned out to be baby powder, a spokesperson for the Washington, DC, Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department told Insider.A month earlier, shortly after 11:15 p.m. on July 21, police responded to the home of Judge Emmet Sullivan, who was set to preside the next day over a plea hearing in a high-profile prosecution stemming from the January 6 attack on the Capitol. In a hoax call, known as a "swatting," an unknown caller pretended to be Sullivan and claimed to police that someone had arrived at the judge's home with a weapon, according to people familiar with the incident and a police report.Officers arrived to find Sullivan "safe and secure," according to the police report. Bloomberg first reported on the "swatting" incident.Kollar-Kotelly, a 25-year veteran of the federal trial court in Washington, DC, declined to comment, as did Sullivan.The US Marshals Service said it does not comment on specific incidents. But in a statement to Insider, a spokesperson acknowledged "that high-profile cases often generate increased attention, including threats." It declined to give a broader assessment for the increase in threats to judges and other Marshals Service protectees."The security of our federal judiciary is the cornerstone of our nation's democracy, and the Marshals take that responsibility very seriously," the spokesperson said. "Federal judges make hard decisions based on the rule of law in large part because the Marshals ensure they can make these decisions without fear, intimidation, or retaliation."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderOct 27th, 2022

Crypto Goes to Washington

A clash of radically different cultures has implications for the future of the economy and technology in America To the untrained ear, Hester Peirce’s comment sounded anodyne, but everyone in the audience knew what she was doing: selling out her boss. “It’s fairly clear,” the U.S. Securities and Exchange commissioner said from the Washington conference stage, “that we’ve been taking an enforcement-first approach in an area where we should be taking a regulatory-first approach. I think we’ve got the balance wrong right now.” Peirce was speaking at the D.C. Blockchain Summit in May, to an audience of the cryptocurrency faithful. Outside the auditorium, geeks, lobbyists and investors mingled in a cavernous converted warehouse. “Trust is non-fungible,” read a banner for the accounting firm Deloitte, hung from a balcony where the company was sponsoring a lavish spread of snacks. Most attendees were done up in D.C. drag—conservative suits and dresses, more boardroom than Burning Man. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] The message was clear: crypto has arrived in Washington. With more than 800 attendees, the summit was the largest ever hosted by the Chamber of Digital Commerce, a trade association representing blockchain companies. In prior years, the conference was co-sponsored with Georgetown University and had a sleepy, academic feel, with panels devoted to explaining or making the case for a technology that still seemed obscure. This year, its attendance and square footage had more than doubled from the last time it was held in 2019. “We’ve gone from ‘Is this magical internet money for real?’ to ’No question, this is definitely a thing,’” the Digital Chamber’s founder and president, Perianne Boring, proclaimed from the stage. The industry has spent the past year making a major play for D.C.’s attention and affection—a sea change for the utopian technology, with its animating vision of frictionless, borderless, intangible exchange. Bitcoin has been around for more than a decade, but until recently the rapid growth of an industry valued at $3 trillion at its peak has operated at arm’s length from the government—an arrangement that seemed to satisfy both sides. Now D.C. has moved into crypto’s territory, with regulatory crackdowns, tax proposals, and demands for compliance. And crypto has pushed into D.C.’s terrain, standing up multiple trade associations, think tanks, and political action committees and hiring hundreds of lobbyists. “The industry has gone from 0 to 100 in record time,” says one D.C. consultant who advises crypto and other tech firms and has seen business skyrocket in the past year. “Even small companies have some footprint now. The venture capital firms are stacked like cordwood with former regulators.” A collision is under way—not just the usual maneuvering between government and business, but a clash of radically different cultures. To crypto’s whiz-kid techno-futurists, the stodgy pencil-pushers of the Washington bureaucracy are nothing but a hindrance. To Washington’s straitlaced rule-makers, crypto’s wild, utopian promises are merely cover for dangerous fads and scams. The still-unknown potential of an ephemeral new technology has run up against the power of the state, and neither quite understands how the other works. How it shakes out will have major implications for the future of the economy and technology in America and the world. Right now, cryptocurrency exists in a legal gray area, scarcely mentioned in federal code. That has left financial regulators to try to interpret definitions created for ordinary markets and apply them to a nascent technology. The most prominent such dispute is over whether cryptocurrencies and related products should be categorized as securities—investments, like stocks and bonds—or commodities, interchangeable assets like oil or grain. At stake in the definition is whether crypto entities are regulated by Peirce’s agency, the SEC, or its smaller sister agency, the Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). Both agencies have asserted jurisdiction without issuing any official guidance about where they believe the lines ought to be drawn. SEC Chairman Gary Gensler has stiff-armed companies that try to ascertain their status, only to turn around and sue them for failing to comply with securities laws. This is the “enforcement-first approach” Peirce was describing, and it has drawn loud complaints and major lawsuits from the crypto industry. (Gensler, appointed by President Biden, isn’t technically the boss of Peirce, appointed by President Trump, since commissioners are independently appointed and confirmed, but he is her superior; differences of opinion are common on the bipartisan panel.) Melissa Lyttle—Bloomberg/Getty ImagesGary Gensler, chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, has drawn the ire of the cryptocurrency industry for his tough stance The inter-agency pissing match is the subject of endless speculation and argument among crypto people, but it’s important less in its particulars than what it signifies: would-be crypto innovators who are not trying to scam anybody have no way to be confident they’re following the law. Industry advocates warn that the resulting confusion not only hurts consumers but also damages a sector that acolytes say holds the keys to a technological revolution akin to the invention of the Web. U.S. crypto companies want to comply with the law, the industry says, but instead have been bankrupted or driven offshore by regulators’ approach. “We need a definition of which digital assets are securities or which ones are not,” the Digital Chamber’s Boring says in an interview. “The SEC has said, ‘We’re not going to tell you which ones meet our test, but make no mistake, we will come after you if you guess wrong.’ We have companies that want to be regulated, but they need to know who the regulator is, and if they are going to be regulated by the SEC, they need to know how to register. A lot of projects are in complete limbo today, and it has forced a significant amount of business activity outside of the United States, because they’re not willing to operate in a gray area with potential enforcement hanging over their head.” D.C. is beginning to listen. On Sept. 15, the Senate agriculture committee held the first hearing on the Digital Commodities Consumer Protection Act, a bipartisan proposal coauthored by Senators John Boozman and Debbie Stabenow. The bill is one of numerous crypto-related pieces of legislation introduced on Capitol Hill in recent months—Boring counts more than 60, with more in the process of being drafted. Meanwhile, on Sept. 16, the White House released its first-ever framework for crypto regulation, a follow-up to a first-of-its-kind March executive order in which President Biden directed agencies to research and report on the matter. The Blockchain Summit’s program featured four senators and three members of Congress, almost evenly divided between the parties. The industry says it wants rules it can live with; policymakers say they want to protect consumers and foster innovation. Those goals would seem to be compatible. But this is D.C., where finding common ground can come with its own costs. “When politicians say, ‘We hope to get this done by the end of the year,’ what I hear is ‘We want crypto lobbyists at our next fundraiser, and we’re going to milk this for at least three Congresses,’” a veteran D.C. tech lawyer says, speaking on condition of anonymity in order to be frank about how Washington really works. As soon as the law gets passed, the spigot of money turns off, or at least down. “It’s worth noting,” the lawyer says, “that in the California gold rush, the folks who supplied the picks and shovels and donkeys made a lot more than the miners.” There’s a common saying on Capitol Hill: if you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu. The crypto industry discovered this principle in remarkably literal fashion last year. In August 2021, a bipartisan group of senators was negotiating infrastructure legislation to fund roads, bridges, and broadband across America. To pay for all this, the senators consulted a “menu” of revenue options staff had prepared. Among them was a tax on cryptocurrency brokers that would raise an estimated $5 billion. The lead Republican negotiator, Rob Portman of Ohio, picked it off the list, sources familiar with the process confirmed. Crypto firms who would be affected by the provision were blindsided and scrambled to mount a response. The unexpected fight stalled the bill’s passage as exhausted senators worked around the clock to finalize the legislation. Lawmakers sympathetic to the industry proposed a compromise, but just when one seemed imminent, Republican Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama nixed it to protest the blockage of an unrelated bill. The tax went through. (Industry leaders remain hopeful that the provision, which is set to take effect next year, can be repealed.) The episode was a dramatic demonstration of crypto’s political vulnerability. “It was a last-minute addition, and all these crypto lobbyists were like, ‘Wait, what’s going on?’ They were asleep at the switch, basically,” says Avik Roy, president of the Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity, a conservative think tank. Old pros like the pharmaceutical lobby, he notes, know that the time to stop Congress from doing this sort of thing is to keep it off the menu. “The crypto people did make a lot of noise, but it wasn’t enough to change the trajectory, which shows they were still pretty politically weak.” Representatives of numerous major blockchain companies cited this as the industry’s “aha” moment. “That was when people woke up and realized they’ve got to get involved,” says a lobbyist for a major crypto group. Determined not to let it happen again, the industry went on a spending spree, hiring platoons of lobbyists and advocates—many of them former policymakers and regulators fresh from the revolving door—and mounting a full-court press on D.C. The Chamber of Digital Commerce is the oldest blockchain trade association, but these days its competitors include the Blockchain Association, the Association for Digital Asset Markets, and the Crypto Council for Innovation. All have grown rapidly over the past year, flush with money from member companies suddenly desperate to have a voice in the policy process. Sarah Silbiger—Bloomberg/Getty ImagesPerianne Boring, founder and CEO of the Chamber of Digital Commerce, testifies before a congressional committee Read More: The Man Behind Ethereum Is Worried About Crypto’s Future. Industry bigwigs, such as FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried and the venture capitalist Marc Andreesen, made major contributions to a handful of new political-action committees—$500,000 to $1 million was the baseline expectation. GMI PAC, the most prominent, backed by Trump Administration official-turned-crypto dabbler Anthony Scaramucci, has raised more than $10 million since its founding in January. Few expect these vehicles to play a major role in electoral politics; despite some wishful thinking, there’s little evidence crypto is a top concern for most voters. It’s more about demonstrating that the industry knows how the game is played. “All the leaders in crypto, almost to a person, have been very intentional about trying to show that they have skin in the game,” says a D.C. tech policy leader. “Left to their own devices, they want nothing to do with Washington, but they’re coming around to the idea that it’s necessary and coalescing around a small handful of super PACs and donation platforms. They want in aggregate to send the message that the industry has matured and engaged.” Fending off unwanted taxes might have been the trigger, but the goal now is to do more than play defense. While many countries have a single, centralized regulatory body that oversees financial products, the U.S. system is fragmented, with an alphabet soup of different regulators. Gensler has become an outsize player in this dispute—the industry’s Public Enemy No. 1. A former Goldman Sachs partner, Gensler has served in government since the Clinton Administration and headed the CFTC during the Obama years. When Biden named him to lead the SEC, many crypto players were hopeful that he would bring needed expertise. Instead, they charge, he has mounted wide-ranging and arbitrary crackdowns while rebuffing calls for clearer rules. (Gensler, through a spokesperson, declined to comment for this story.) In an August Wall Street Journal column, Gensler wrote, “There’s no reason to treat the crypto market differently from the rest of the capital markets just because it uses a different technology.” In a Sept. 8 speech, he added, “Some in the crypto industry have called for greater ‘guidance’ with respect to crypto tokens. For the past five years, though, the Commission has spoken with a pretty clear voice,” through its orders and enforcement actions. “Not liking the message isn’t the same thing as not receiving it.” Crypto insiders find this position maddening. “We’ve seen Gary Gensler state many times that we do have clarity, but we don’t,” says the Digital Chamber’s Boring. “I represent over 200 businesses that have to navigate these laws, and I haven’t had one tell me that we do. I believe the SEC is the number one blocker to economic progress not only for the crypto space but also for our economy, because they’ve refused to put forward a framework for digital assets and to bring clarity. It’s holding back economic innovation, and it’s harming investors as well.” Without explicit rules, companies say they’re forced to parse Gensler’s public statements for clues. Even crypto skeptics who want scammers kept in line can see the benefit of knowing what, exactly, the government considers a scam, versus a legitimate enterprise. “Gary is out there stating over and over again, ‘I have jurisdiction over all of this, everyone needs to come in and register [with the SEC],’” says a lobbyist for a top crypto platform. “Well, people have tried to do that, but the staff is not helpful.” Coinbase, a publicly listed crypto exchange, has been blocked from issuing a bitcoin lending product and separately sued for alleged insider trading. BlockFi was fined $100 million for issuing an unregistered yield product, while two other companies, Celsius and Voyager, were threatened with lawsuits but went bankrupt instead. As the Bloomberg financial columnist Matt Levine has noted, the SEC seems to target companies that are trying to go legit, rather than obvious fly-by-night scammers. ”It is conspicuously the case that Gensler’s SEC mainly goes after the more law-abiding crypto actors,” Levine wrote. “Gensler’s posture is that he should be in charge of writing the rules for crypto, but not write them. I don’t see how that can work. “ Lacking regulatory guidance, the industry has turned to Congress to create the rules of the road. Many are pressing lawmakers to give the CFTC primary authority, sparking criticism from crypto skeptics that they’re venue-shopping for a less formidable regulator that would presumably take a less aggressive approach. (CFTC Chairman Rostin Benham pushed back against that perception at a recent congressional hearing: “We are one of the toughest cops on the beat in the world,” he said. On Sept. 22, the CFTC filed a first-of-its-kind lawsuit against the Ooki decentralized autonomous organization, or DAO, sparking fears of a broader crackdown.) Boring insists that any rules at all would be preferable to the current situation. “We would like to see a definition of a digital asset security,” she says. “That really would solve the majority of the issues that we have. It’s really quite simple.” Crypto founders are an idealistic bunch, and many are philosophically committed to a techno-libertarian ethos that shuns government involvement, says Alan Konevsky of the blockchain trading platform tZERO. But as a practical matter, they’re coming around to the need for regulation. “Setting aside some of the maximalist libertarian types, most responsible participants—whether they’re pioneers who survived and made big or traditional finance entities looking to enter the space—all support positive regulation,” he says. “The consensus is that it’s not about whether but how you regulate.” The situation reminds many observers of the 1990s, when the internet was new and barely regulated and Silicon Valley went gangbusters—until it crashed in the early 2000s, leaving major sports teams with stadiums named for defunct companies. A few titans emerged from the wreckage to become today’s tech behemoths: Amazon, Google, Facebook. In what might be a cautionary tale for Web 3.0, lawmakers are still struggling to rein them in, and public sentiment has turned sharply negative. “The internet had the advantage that everyone believed their bull—t for a long time,” the veteran tech lawyer says. “This amazing new technology is going to change the world and bring everybody together! Then we found out, yes, it’s transformed the world, but it’s brought a whole bunch of new problems.” Valerie Plesch—Bloomberg/Getty ImagesHester Peirce, commissioner of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, speaks at the DC Blockchain Summit Back in July 2019, then-President Donald Trump tweeted about cryptocurrency. His take was not a positive one. “I am not a fan of Bitcoin and other Cryptocurrencies, which are not money, and whose value is highly volatile and based on thin air,” Trump wrote. He expressed concern that they could “facilitate unlawful behavior” and singled out Facebook’s plans to create a virtual currency called Libra. “We have only one real currency in the USA, and it is stronger than ever,” Trump concluded. “It is called the United States Dollar!” The U.S. President condemning your whole sector might seem like a discouraging development, but Perianne Boring was ecstatic. She printed out the tweets, mounted them in big gold frames, and hung them in her office, where she refers to them as “the crown jewels.” “It was the first time a sitting president tweeted about bitcoin. So I was like, well, at least we’re relevant!” she says. The Trump Administration’s stance toward crypto largely reflected the former President’s disdain. But on Capitol Hill, crypto’s loudest skeptics have been on the left, particularly Senator Elizabeth Warren, who famously derided the industry as a “shadowy, faceless group of supercoders.” The congressional blockchain caucus, which was started in 2016 by then-Reps. Mick Mulvaney and Jared Polis and now boasts nearly 40 members from both parties, is about two-thirds Republican. Ideologically, GOP crypto boosters tend to focus on the potential economic opportunity while Democrats tend to highlight the need to protect consumers. But so far the industry has succeeded in being seen as nonpartisan, which benefits its interests. The political divide over crypto, insiders say, tends to be more generational; older lawmakers often find blockchain technology befuddling. “We’ve got people out there investing in this and don’t have a clue what they’re doing, including me,” Republican Senator Tommy Tuberville said at a recent congressional hearing on crypto legislation. Read More: A Top Ethereum Developer On the Risks and Rewards of the Merge. The Biden Administration has made more favorable noises than its predecessor. In March, the President issued an executive order directing agencies to research the risks and benefits of crypto. “The United States must maintain technological leadership in this rapidly growing space, supporting innovation while mitigating the risks for consumers, businesses, the broader financial system, and the climate,” the White House said. This was a major milestone for the industry: not just recognition, but an acknowledgement that crypto is here to stay and has significant upside. “When there began to be chatter in D.C. around the White House putting something out, many people were concerned it might be quite punitive, but it ended up being something that most view as positive,” says Michael Sonnenshein, CEO of Grayscale, a publicly traded bitcoin investment fund. Now the Administration has followed up by issuing its proposed regulatory framework, aimed at “laying the groundwork for a thoughtful, comprehensive approach to mitigating digital assets’ acute risks and—where proven—harnessing their benefits,” according to a joint White House statement by Brian Deese, director of the National Economic Council, and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan. (The framework directs both the SEC and CFTC to “aggressively pursue” misconduct, but does not take a position on the question of jurisdiction.) Things are moving on Capitol Hill too, albeit slowly. In June, a bipartisan pair of senators, Cynthia Lummis and Kirsten Gillibrand, released a wide-ranging bill covering all aspects of crypto regulation; it would define and expand the CFTC’s authority while leaving some digital securities under the SEC’s purview, and also would create new rules for NFTs, stablecoins and other blockchain-related products. Lummis, a conservative Republican from Wyoming, has been dubbed the Senate’s “crypto queen.” Gillibrand, a liberal Democrat from New York, joined the push earlier this year, pointing to her state’s centrality to the financial industry. Other prominent efforts include the House agriculture committee’s Digital Commodities Exchange Act, introduced in April, and the Senate agriculture committee’s Digital Commodities Consumer Protection Act, introduced in August. While the Digital Chamber counts 68 current crypto-related pieces of legislation, aides involved in the process consider those the top three currently introduced. Most observers see these major bills as complementary rather than in competition, and expect them to take time to work through the process. Gillibrand and Lummis have said their measure might have to go through four different committees and indicated they expect it to eventually be broken up into component pieces and modified rather than passed wholesale. Some are hopeful that legislation on stablecoins or regulatory jurisdiction could be attached to must-pass bills in Congress’s post-election lame-duck session. The top Democrat and Republican on the House banking committee, Maxine Waters and Patrick McHenry, have been working for months to draft a bipartisan stablecoin bill, but it has yet to see the light of day. At the D.C. Blockchain Summit, the excitement was palpable. “Bring these geniuses back on our soil!” Kevin O’Leary of ABC’s “Shark Tank” hollered onstage, rueing the business brains that have allegedly been lost to offshore havens. Two algorithmic stablecoins had just crashed, wiping out a trillion dollars in value, and a “crypto winter” of crashing prices was on the way, but everyone seemed to be taking it in stride. By afternoon, with cocktail hour looming, a brave new future of legal crypto working hand in hand with the regulatory state seemed within reach. Then Michael Hsu got up to speak. Hsu, whose title is acting comptroller of the currency, opened a folder on the lectern and began to read a tersely scripted speech. With center-parted black hair, oval glasses and a neat suit and tie, Hsu looked every inch the bureaucrat. He was there, he said, to provide “a bank regulator’s perspective.” (Despite its name, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, a division of the Treasury Department, does not issue currency—the Federal Reserve does that. Rather, it charters banks.) It quickly became clear that he had not gotten the Brave New World memo. Hsu said he had grave concerns about what he had observed from the world of cryptocurrency. It posed a contagion risk to the broader financial sector; it was a good thing it was under tight oversight by the SEC; it was too dependent on hype and Ponzi schemes. “The industry has grown too fast,” he said, “and recent events should be a wake-up call.” Crypto may believe its time has come. But Washington is not so sure—and Washington still has the upper hand. With reporting by Mariah Espada and Anisha Kohli.....»»

Category: topSource: timeOct 4th, 2022

NY AG Letitia James v. Donald Trump will be a slow-motion, "eye-glazing" slog, ex-AG insiders say

The NY AG's lawsuit v. Donald Trump has only just begun; here's how three former NY AG prosecutors predict Trump will go 12 rounds to save his empire. New York Attorney General Letitia James and Donald TrumpAssociated Press NY AG Letitia James sued Donald Trump, his three eldest kids, and Trump Organization on Wednesday. Her demands — including $250 million in penalties and the hamstringing of his business in NY  — will be fought over for years, experts say.  James is now 'just another litigant' in a slow-moving system that Trump knows how to game, they say. So New York Attorney General Letitia James has sued Donald Trump, his kids, and his company. But don't bother popping any popcorn over this massive fraud lawsuit anytime soon.Very little will actually happen to Trump, his three eldest children, or the Trump Organization — the former president's Manhattan-based real estate and golf empire — over the next two years and maybe longer, three former prosecutors with the NY AG's office told Insider.That's because litigating the 222-page lawsuit will be a slow, costly slog, they predict."This is going to be an eye-glazing battle" of experts and lawyers, before the lawsuit even goes to trial, one ex-prosecutor, Armen Morian, said of what's to come.Morian, now in private practice in Manhattan at Morian Law, knows about slow slogs. He prosecuted the New York AG's case against Hank Greenberg, the one-time CEO of insurance giant AIG.That prosecution took 13 years to reach a 2017 settlement, with Greenberg fighting every step of the way before finally agreeing, at age 93, to pay $9 million to the state of New York."You're at the starting line," Morian told Insider. "Now that he's a litigant, Trump is entitled to drag this case out as long as he can. This will play out over years."First a little judge shopping, perhapsThe first step in that slog? A bit of judge-shopping, Morian and others predict.The lawsuit's defendants may well want to move the case as far away as possible from the courtroom of NY state Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron.That's the Manhattan judge who repeatedly ruled against Trump in the two-year lead-in to the AG's lawsuit. It was Engoron who held Trump in contempt and ordered he pay $110,000 in fines for not cooperating fully with James' inquiry.Morian predicts the defendants will try to move the case to a judge in the state court system's commercial division, a paperwork-heavy process that Trump's lawyers have failed at previously."The commercial division is set up to handle lawsuits involving only commercial parties, not an attorney general, so that would draw a pretty quick denial," said another former NY assistant AG, Tristan Snell. "But it could buy Trump's side a month or so."Next: many months of slow-mo motion practiceNext will come many more months of what's called motion practice, with Trump's side kicking the process off.Lawyers for the defendants — all 17 of them, including Trump Org subsidiaries and former executives — will have 30 days to file response motions, in writing, to the judge, explained author and attorney Kenneth McCallion, a former prosecutor who handled complex litigation in the Department of Justice and the NY AG's office. With that, they're off to the races — in excruciating slow motion. A long, litigation timeline is simply built in, given the magnitude of the lawsuit, former AG prosecutors told Insider.By numbers alone, the lawsuit's scope is staggering.Millions of pages of evidenceThe AG's office reviewed 900,000 Trump business documents totaling 6 million pages. The resulting lawsuit encompasses alleged financial wrongdoing at 23 of the company's properties over the past decade.The lawsuit is also very complex in what it demands, asking Engoron to throw the book at Trump, litigationally speaking.Requests, she has a fewIt demands the repayment of $250 million that James says Trump illegally pocketed, allegedly by misleading banks about his worth. The banks relied on the iffy math in giving Trump lower interest rates and lending him more money than he would otherwise have been entitled to, she claims.The lawsuit also demands that Trump and his three eldest children — who have all served as Trump Organization executives — be permanently barred from running a New York corporation.It demands that Trump personally be barred from buying property in New York and from borrowing from a New York-registered bank for five years and that a court-appointed receiver monitor the company's finances for that period.And, as perhaps it's most extreme demand, the lawsuit wants the judge to yank the New York papers of incorporation that let Trump Org draw revenue from his New York properties, including the commercial rents at his Manhattan skyscrapers. Litigating all those meaty demands and all those shoals of paperwork will take time, particularly pretrial. "She will pay for bringing such an aggressive, gargantuan, and unwieldy case," Morian predicted, "assuring that this case will move at a snail's pace, to the defendants' advantage."Along the way, "it's possible that there will be other lawsuits or other actions by the counter-parties," such as the banks, accountants and appraisers that James' lawsuit also mentions, Morian said.A battle over the Fifth McCallion thinks Trump's decision to plead the Fifth more than 440 times during his court-ordered August deposition before James is the former president's legal "Achilles heel" and will be fought over especially hard.Should he keep the case, and should it go to trial, Engoron is allowed to hold Trump's refusal to answer questions against him. Much of the pre-trial litigation will involve how much weight the judge can give all that Fifth-pleading.Finally, as the case lurches closer to trial, it will then enter what Morian calls the "battle of experts" phase, with dueling reports, reply reports, and eventually expert trial testimony. The AG and the defendants will likely spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on these experts, who will duke it out on paper and on the witness stand over whether Trump's valuations were reasonable and how common it may be for businesses to offer different appraisals to impress banks, insurance brokers and tax authorities.James' experts will call fraud on Trump's alleged practice of offering widely varied appraisals for the same properties, depending on the hoped-for outcome, the former prosecutors said. The defendants' experts will call it business as usual."A case does not get better with age," McCallion noted of the long, pre-trial haul ahead.Just another litigant"The AG is at the height of her powers before she sues," Morian noted, crediting New York's tough executive law, which grants its AGs broad power to subpoena for evidence and testimony and fast-tracks fraud and corruption inquiries.But after she files the lawsuit, he said, "she's just another litigant," in an often slow-moving legal system Trump knows how to game.James will push for a tight motions schedule, but, "I'm not sure what basis she'll have for that. Where's the fire?" Morian asked. "Where's the emergency?"Meanwhile, Trump has every reason to heel-drag."He will raise money on it, and he will campaign on it," Morian predicted of the lawsuit. "He doesn't want this resolved before the 2024 election, in case it goes against him."There's another benefit to dragging out motions practice. The longer the case takes, the more likely the statute of limitations will expire on any potential criminal wrongdoing.Trump would then be able to testify on his own behalf at any potential civil trial without the threat of incriminating himself.Any trial testimony would help blunt the fact that Trump pleaded the Fifth some 400 times during last month's deposition at the AG's office in Manhattan.Could the case drag out 13 years? "Probably not. But who knows," Morian said with a laugh, noting that however long it goes, Trump appears ready for the long haul."Whatever you want to say about him," Morian said, "he's a pretty energetic guy."  Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderSep 23rd, 2022

What"s next now that Letitia James has sued Donald Trump? A slow-motion, "eye-glazing" battle of lawyers, experts

It's likely the case will drag on for years and will be a costly slog, ex-prosecutors with the New York AG's office told Insider. New York Attorney General Letitia James and Donald TrumpAssociated Press NY AG Letitia James sued Donald Trump, his three eldest kids, and Trump Organization on Wednesday. Her demands — including $250 million in penalties and the hamstringing of his business in NY  — will be fought over for years, experts say.  James is now 'just another litigant' in a slow-moving system that Trump knows how to game, they say. So New York Attorney General Letitia James has sued Donald Trump, his kids, and his company. But don't bother popping any popcorn over this massive fraud lawsuit anytime soon.Very little will actually happen to Trump, his three eldest children, or the Trump Organization — the former president's Manhattan-based real estate and golf empire — over the next two years and maybe longer, three former prosecutors with the NY AG's office told Insider.That's because litigating the 222-page lawsuit will be a slow, costly slog, they predict."This is going to be an eye-glazing battle" of experts and lawyers, before the lawsuit even goes to trial, one ex-prosecutor, Armen Morian, said of what's to come.Morian, now in private practice in Manhattan at Morian Law, knows about slow slogs. He prosecuted the New York AG's case against Hank Greenberg, the one-time CEO of insurance giant AIG.That prosecution took 13 years to reach a 2017 settlement, with Greenberg fighting every step of the way before finally agreeing, at age 93, to pay $9 million to the state of New York."You're at the starting line," Morian told Insider. "Now that he's a litigant, Trump is entitled to drag this case out as long as he can. This will play out over years."First a little judge shopping, perhapsThe first step in that slog? A bit of judge-shopping, Morian and others predict.The lawsuit's defendants may well want to move the case as far away as possible from the courtroom of NY state Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron.That's the Manhattan judge who repeatedly ruled against Trump in the two-year lead-in to the AG's lawsuit. It was Engoron who held Trump in contempt and ordered he pay $110,000 in fines for not cooperating fully with James' inquiry.Morian predicts the defendants will try to move the case to a judge in the state court system's commercial division, a paperwork-heavy process that Trump's lawyers have failed at previously."The commercial division is set up to handle lawsuits involving only commercial parties, not an attorney general, so that would draw a pretty quick denial," said another former NY assistant AG, Tristan Snell. "But it could buy Trump's side a month or so."Next: many months of slow-mo motion practiceNext will come many more months of what's called motion practice, with Trump's side kicking the process off.Lawyers for the defendants — all 17 of them, including Trump Org subsidiaries and former executives — will have 30 days to file response motions, in writing, to the judge, explained author and attorney Kenneth McCallion, a former prosecutor who handled complex litigation in the Department of Justice and the NY AG's office. With that, they're off to the races — in excruciating slow motion. A long, litigation timeline is simply built in, given the magnitude of the lawsuit, former AG prosecutors told Insider.By numbers alone, the lawsuit's scope is staggering.Millions of pages of evidenceThe AG's office reviewed 900,000 Trump business documents totaling 6 million pages. The resulting lawsuit encompasses alleged financial wrongdoing at 23 of the company's properties over the past decade.The lawsuit is also very complex in what it demands, asking Engoron to throw the book at Trump, litigationally speaking.Requests, she has a fewIt demands the repayment of $250 million that James says Trump illegally pocketed, allegedly by misleading banks about his worth. The banks relied on the iffy math in giving Trump lower interest rates and lending him more money than he would otherwise have been entitled to, she claims.The lawsuit also demands that Trump and his three eldest children — who have all served as Trump Organization executives — be permanently barred from running a New York corporation.It demands that Trump personally be barred from buying property in New York and from borrowing from a New York-registered bank for five years and that a court-appointed receiver monitor the company's finances for that period.And, as perhaps it's most extreme demand, the lawsuit wants the judge to yank the New York papers of incorporation that let Trump Org draw revenue from his New York properties, including the commercial rents at his Manhattan skyscrapers. Litigating all those meaty demands and all those shoals of paperwork will take time, particularly pretrial. "She will pay for bringing such an aggressive, gargantuan, and unwieldy case," Morian predicted, "assuring that this case will move at a snail's pace, to the defendants' advantage."Along the way, "it's possible that there will be other lawsuits or other actions by the counter-parties," such as the banks, accountants and appraisers that James' lawsuit also mentions, Morian said.A battle over the Fifth McCallion thinks Trump's decision to plead the Fifth more than 440 times during his court-ordered August deposition before James is the former president's legal "Achilles heel" and will be fought over especially hard.Should he keep the case, and should it go to trial, Engoron is allowed to hold Trump's refusal to answer questions against him. Much of the pre-trial litigation will involve how much weight the judge can give all that Fifth-pleading.Finally, as the case lurches closer to trial, it will then enter what Morian calls the "battle of experts" phase, with dueling reports, reply reports, and eventually expert trial testimony. The AG and the defendants will likely spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on these experts, who will duke it out on paper and on the witness stand over whether Trump's valuations were reasonable and how common it may be for businesses to offer different appraisals to impress banks, insurance brokers and tax authorities.James' experts will call fraud on Trump's alleged practice of offering widely varied appraisals for the same properties, depending on the hoped-for outcome, the former prosecutors said. The defendants' experts will call it business as usual."A case does not get better with age," McCallion noted of the long, pre-trial haul ahead.Just another litigant"The AG is at the height of her powers before she sues," Morian noted, crediting New York's tough executive law, which grants its AGs broad power to subpoena for evidence and testimony and fast-tracks fraud and corruption inquiries.But after she files the lawsuit, he said, "she's just another litigant," in an often slow-moving legal system Trump knows how to game.James will push for a tight motions schedule, but, "I'm not sure what basis she'll have for that. Where's the fire?" Morian asked. "Where's the emergency?"Meanwhile, Trump has every reason to heel-drag."He will raise money on it, and he will campaign on it," Morian predicted of the lawsuit. "He doesn't want this resolved before the 2024 election, in case it goes against him."There's another benefit to dragging out motions practice. The longer the case takes, the more likely the statute of limitations will expire on any potential criminal wrongdoing.Trump would then be able to testify on his own behalf at any potential civil trial without the threat of incriminating himself.Any trial testimony would help blunt the fact that Trump pleaded the Fifth some 400 times during last month's deposition at the AG's office in Manhattan.Could the case drag out 13 years? "Probably not. But who knows," Morian said with a laugh, noting that however long it goes, Trump appears ready for the long haul."Whatever you want to say about him," Morian said, "he's a pretty energetic guy."  Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderSep 21st, 2022

Mike Lindell says vendors are bailing on his MyStore platform because they don"t want to be associated with an FBI investigation

Lindell told Insider that four vendors that were going to be listed on MyStore — his version of Amazon — were afraid of being linked to an FBI probe. MyPillow CEO Mike LindellJeff Swensen/Getty ImagesMyPillow CEO Mike Lindell says four vendors have bailed on his MyStore e-commerce platform.Lindell told Insider these businesses "don't want to deal with MyStore" for fear of an FBI probe.Lindell's phone was seized by the FBI last week at a Hardee's drive-thru in Minnesota.MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell told Insider on Tuesday that four entrepreneurs whose businesses were set to be listed on his MyStore e-commerce platform have pulled out of the plan.Speaking to Insider, Lindell said that after the FBI seized his phone at a Hardee's drive-thru last week, at least four businesses have told him that they "don't want to deal" with his MyStore platform."You know, they don't want to have the connection of the FBI. The FBI scares them," Lindell said of the vendors. "They don't want to get canceled, you know?" he added.Lindell did not name the entrepreneurs but said they had "really good" products, adding that he had inked deals with them that have since fallen through. The businessman told Insider that he was also informed over the last week that a "private lender" had rescinded "two to three million dollars" worth of support for one of the four businesses that were angling to sell products on the MyStore platform."This money was already earmarked for one of these vendors, one of these entrepreneurs, so that they would have enough products and be listed up on MyStore," Lindell said. "And then they (the lenders) canceled the loan because they found out it was linked to MyStore. It's very sad."MyStore was started in April 2021 as Lindell's "patriotic" answer to Amazon. The store now lists a gamut of products, including the Lindell-backed MyCoffee, a range of ground coffee with the businessman's face emblazoned on the packaging.The MyStore pull-out is not the first time Lindell has run into issues with financial institutions and collaborators due to pushing former President Donald Trump's baseless claims of election fraud.In February, one of Lindell's banks cut ties with him, citing him as a "reputation risk," after he was subpoenaed by the January 6 House select committee for his phone records.In June, Lindell accused Walmart, MyPillow's biggest distributor, of "canceling" him and pulling his pillows from their stores.Lindell told Insider last week that the phone seizure was linked to an investigation into Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters, a pro-Trump Colorado election official accused of facilitating an election-data leak.On Tuesday, the businessman filed a lawsuit against the FBI and the Department of Justice for seizing his phone and accused the authorities of violating his constitutional rights.Represented by a legal team that includes conservative lawyer Alan Dershowitz, Lindell's suit claims the FBI violated his "First, Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Amendment" rights. He is also demanding that his cell phone be returned and that any information obtained from his phone by the FBI or DOJ not be released.Separately, Lindell told Insider on Tuesday that he had been having trouble accessing his cash and wiring money to his businesses without his phone."I can't do money wires," Lindell said, telling Insider that the codes he needed were all on the phone that was seized. "They took the files that were in there, and it really crippled me with work."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderSep 21st, 2022

Futures Grind Higher With All Eyes On Red-Hot CPI

Futures Grind Higher With All Eyes On Red-Hot CPI After yesterday's last hour stock market puke prompted by a fake CPI "leak" that showed inflation rising more than double digits in June which sent spoos just over 3,800, US index futures advanced ahead of a report that will show inflation hitting a fresh four-decade high according to Bloomberg consensus which expects headline inflation to print 8.8%, ensuring another 75bps rate hike. Contracts on the S&P 500 rose 0.3% by 7:15 a.m. ET after the underlying gauge declined over the past three days. Nasdaq 100 futures were up 0.4% after the tech-heavy index shed 3% this week, reversing most of last week's gains. The dollar dropped from a 2 year high, bitcoin rose but held below $20,000 and WTI crude oil stabilized at about $96 a barrel after a tumble. Among notable pre-market movers, Twitter rose 1% after suing Elon Musk over his abandoned $44 billion takeover bid, accusing the billionaire of having buyer’s remorse after his fortune declined. Meanwhile, Atara Biotherapeutics tumbled 36% after the biotech firm gave an update on its multiple sclerosis therapy with Cowen strategists saying that the interim analysis of the ATA188 Phase 2 study was “inconclusive.” Here are other notable premarket movers: Stitch Fix (SFIX US) jumps 9.3% in premarket trading after J William Gurley, a board member and general partner at venture capital firm Benchmark, bought $5.43 million of shares in the company. Gurley’s purchase comes as the online personal-styling platform’s stock has fallen 73% this year. Atara Biotherapeutics (ATRA US) shares drop 41% in US premarket trading, after the biotech company gave an update on its multiple sclerosis therapy, with Cowen saying that the interim analysis of the Phase 2 study was “inconclusive” and Roth flagging potential “additional risks.” Humanigen (HGEN US) shares plummet as much as 76% in US premarket trading, after the biotech firm said that its Covid-19 drug trial didn’t achieve statistical significance on the primary endpoint, with Cantor Fitzgerald cutting its rating on Humanigen to neutral from overweight. Keep an eye on Apple (AAPL US) shares as Citi lowers its estimates for the company given cooling consumer spending trends amid macro woes and continued supply chain bottlenecks. Hannon Armstrong (HASI US) stocks could be active as analysts defended the climate-change investment firm after its shares slumped 19% on Tuesday. The losses followed a report from short seller Carson Block’s Muddy Waters Capital that criticized its accounting practices. Watch Alphabet (GOOGL US) stocks as Cowen trims 2022 Google Search and YouTube ad estimates, following checks that suggested that Search is seeing healthy demand but the business is decelerating, largely in line with expectations. US inflation is projected to have continued to heat up in June, hitting a fresh pandemic peak. The consumer price index probably increased 8.8% from a year earlier, marking the largest jump since 1981, as discussed some banks expected a slightly softer print although others sees headline CPI rising as much as 9.0%. The consumer-price reading will be a major decisive factor for the Fed in its upcoming meeting as it decides how much further it should tighten policy to tame soaring inflation. Its hawkish policy already stoked fears the economy is heading for a recession this year. “This is widely expected to be a really strong print,” Lauren Goodwin, economist and portfolio strategist at New York Life Investments, said on Bloomberg Television. “Even if it is not, I don’t think that changes the Fed’s perspective in a couple of weeks. We won’t have enough evidence that inflation is convincingly turning over.” Meanwhile, the International Monetary Fund cut its growth projections for the US economy and warned that a broad-based surge in inflation poses “systemic risks” to both the country and the global economy. Traders are also on tenterhooks for the latest corporate earnings getting underway this week and monitoring for a brewing energy crisis in Europe if Russia cuts off gas supplies in the fallout from its invasion of Ukraine. After today's CPI, investor focus will turn to the start of the earnings season, which kicks off tomorrow with major Wall Street banks. Meanwhile in Europe, the region’s benchmark Stoxx 600 Index fell 0.5% while the Euro Stoxx 50 slumped as much as 1.2% before roughly halving losses, amid deteriorating economic outlook. Shares of insurance companies and automakers led the drop.. FTSE 100 and FTSE MIB lag on the recovery. Autos, insurance and travel are the worst-performing sectors. Here are the biggest movers: Saipem shares tumble as much as 45%, extending Tuesday’s 49% slump, after only 70% of its EU2 billion rights offering was taken up by investors, signaling low confidence in the engineering company’s turnaround plan. Svenska Cellulosa falls as much as 4.1% and DS Smith declines 2.7% as Exane BNP downgrades its ratings on both, saying it anticipates a robust 2Q for packaging, but a correction in pulp prices. Bayer drops as much as 3% after a US appeals court reinstated a lawsuit by a Roundup herbicide user who claims the company failed to warn him of cancer risks. Galp Energia falls as much as 2.8% following its second-quarter production update, with analysts saying volumes were softer than anticipated. Vontobel declines as much as 6%, and EFG falls as much as 5.2% after Citi cut both to sell and kept a buy rating on Julius Baer, saying that it still sees good value in Swiss banks and prefers larger players to independents. Evonik falls as much as 3.9% after Barclays cut its rating to equal-weight, saying that it sees opportunities in Brenntag and Lanxess among European chemicals stocks. Orion gains as much as 7.9% after the pharmaceutical company raised its FY outlook after announcing it plans to work with MSD on developing and commercializing ODM-208, a drug for prostate cancer. Outokumpu gains as much as 6.5% after the stainless steel producer sold the majority of its Long Products business, a transaction which Jefferies and Morgan Stanley describe as positive. Hugo Boss rises as much as 3.1% as Jefferies says the company appears to be outperforming its luxury peers, and that expectations of continued growth, “comfortable” guidance and a successful rebrand are starting to move the market. Verallia gains as much as 3.3% after being initiated with a buy rating at Jefferies, which says the glass-packaging maker’s discount to peers is “unjustified.” Earlier in the session, Asian stocks advanced, led by the region’s technology shares. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index gained as much as 0.6%, halting a two-day slide that dragged the benchmark to the lowest level in two years on Tuesday. Tech names such as TSMC, JD.com and Meituan contributed the most to the rally. Information technology was the region’s best-performing sector as the Hang Seng Tech Index bounced back after its recent drops sent the measure into a technical correction.  Taiwan’s benchmark jumped nearly 3% as the government vowed to support the stock market for the first time since the early days of the pandemic. Equities posted moderate gains in South Korea and New Zealand after their central banks hiked interest rates by 50 basis points as expected. Thailand’s stock market was closed for a holiday.  “Central bankers, policy makers all over the world are gonna have to pick their spots on how much inflation they’re prepared to tolerate versus how much a growth downdraft they wanna create,” Ben Powell, chief APAC investment strategist at BlackRock Investment Institute, said in a Bloomberg TV interview. In addition to today's data on consumer prices to assess what the Federal Reserve will do next, traders are also monitoring corporate earnings results in Asia for signs of any impact from China’s lockdowns during the second quarter. Japanese stocks advanced as investors await US data that may show inflation hit a fresh four-decade high. The Topix index rose 0.3% to 1,888.85 at the 3pm close in Tokyo, while the Nikkei 225 advanced 0.5% to 26,478.77. Recruit Holdings Co. contributed the most to the Topix’s gain, increasing 2.9%. Out of 2,170 shares in the index, 1,400 rose and 633 fell, while 137 were unchanged. “Japanese stocks will have a hard time finding a sense of direction before the US CPI announcement,” said Mitsushige Akino a senior executive officer at Ichiyoshi Asset Management.  In FX, the Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index held near its highest level in more than two years and the greenback traded mixed against its Group-of-10 peers as traders awaited US inflation data later on Wednesday for clues on the Federal Reserve’s rate trajectory. JPY and SEK are the weakest performers in G-10 FX, CHF and AUD outperform. EUR/USD stalls again, declining 6 pips shy of parity before recovering slightly.  Money markets raised bets on the pace of BOE rate hikes after the UK economy grew faster than the median estimate in May to ease fears of a recession. UK GDP rose by a surprisingly robust 0.5% amid a surge in visits to doctors and holiday bookings, after an 0.2% decline in April, a figure that was revised higher. New Zealand’s dollar initially fell and then erased losses after the central bank raised interest rates by 50 basis points as economists forecast. The yen underperformed all its Group-of-10 peers amid expectations US CPI will be strong enough to keep wagers high for a continued aggressive rate-hike cycle by the Federal Reserve. Super-long sectors led drop in government bond yields after purchases by the Bank of Japan. In rates, the 10-year Treasury yield was little changed at 2.97% after falling two basis points on Tuesday. Cash TSYs are comparatively quiet ahead of today’s CPI release. German and UK curves bear-flatten, underperforming Treasuries. Peripheral spreads widen to Germany with 10y BTP/Bund back near 200bps.  Gilts and Bunds fell, underperforming Treasuries. Money markets raised bets on the pace of BOE rate hikes after the UK economy grew faster than the median estimate in May to ease fears of a recession. In commodities, crude futures advance. WTI drifts 1.1% higher to trade near $96.90. Most base metals trade in the green; LME lead rises 1.1%, outperforming peers. LME zinc lags, dropping 0.2%. Spot gold is little changed at $1,726/oz To the day ahead now, and data releases include the US CPI release for June, as well as UK monthly GDP for May and Euro Area industrial production for May. Otherwise from central banks, the Bank of Canada will be making their latest policy decision, and the Federal Reserve will release their Beige Book. Market Snapshot S&P 500 futures up 0.2% to 3,830.50 STOXX Europe 600 down 0.8% to 413.52 MXAP up 0.3% to 155.40 MXAPJ up 0.5% to 511.37 Nikkei up 0.5% to 26,478.77 Topix up 0.3% to 1,888.85 Hang Seng Index down 0.2% to 20,797.95 Shanghai Composite little changed at 3,284.29 Sensex down 0.5% to 53,636.37 Australia S&P/ASX 200 up 0.2% to 6,621.56 Kospi up 0.5% to 2,328.61 German 10Y yield little changed at 1.16% Euro little changed at $1.0038 Brent Futures up 1.1% to $100.63/bbl Gold spot up 0.0% to $1,726.85 U.S. Dollar Index little changed at 108.15 Top Overnight News from Bloomberg The planned reopening of a key Russian gas pipeline next week may be a bigger deal for the euro than the first interest-rate hike in a decade by the ECB. Both are set for July 21. While the ECB’s plans to start lifting rates have been well flagged and hence priced in by markets, there’s more doubt over whether Russia will actually restore gas flows to Europe after maintenance on the Nord Stream 1 pipeline is completed China will take advantage of the market-based adjustment mechanism of deposit rates and guide financial institutions to transmit the effect of falling deposit rates to their borrowers as part of efforts to lower real lending rates, Zou Lan, head of PBOC’s monetary policy department, says at a briefing The ECB is watching the euro-dollar exchange rate as recent lows can further stoke already record inflation, according to Governing Council member Francois Villeroy De Galhau A more detailed look at global markets courtesy of Newsquawk Asia-Pac stocks were mostly positive as the region shrugged off the weak lead from Wall St but with upside capped amid central bank rate hikes and ahead of upcoming key risk events including Chinese trade and US CPI data. ASX 200 traded indecisively as strength in tech was offset by losses in energy after the recent slump in oil prices. Nikkei 225 was underpinned by a weaker currency but with gains limited after a ramp-up in Tokyo COVID cases. Hang Seng and Shanghai Comp. gained but with the mainland choppy ahead of Chinese trade data, while Hong Kong tech stocks were bolstered after China approved 67 domestic games in July. Top Asian News China's Customs said foreign trade is expected to achieve stable growth and that trade growth in May and June reversed the declining trend, but noted that foreign trade faces instabilities and uncertain factors, according to Reuters. "Lanzhou in NW China's Gansu Province has sealed off its 4 districts for 7 days to curb the latest COVID19 flare-up which started from last Friday and has led to 143 infections as of 10 am on Wed", according to Global Times. European bourses are pressured and towards the mid-point of the morning's parameters as we await US inflation data, Euro Stoxx 50 -0.6%.  Sectors, are predominently in the red with defensively-inclined names lagging though Energy outperforms and is green amid benchmark action. Stateside, futures are modestly firmer but have been choppy with pre-CPI positioning underway; ES +0.2%. Alphabet (GOOGL) said, on July 12th, that due to the hiring progress already attained, will slow the hiring process for remainder of year, via Reuters; like all Cos, not immune to economic headwinds. Kroger (KR) is launching an annual membership, provides unlimited free deliveries on orders over USD 35 and fuel discounts of up-to USD 1/gallon alongside other savings. Top European News UK lawmakers are to push ahead with legislation to tear up the post-Brexit trade deal today, according to FT. Network Rail offered workers at two unions pay hikes in a bid to avert further crippling strikes, according to FT. Italy's Salvini says the League Party is not willing to remain in the government if the 5-Star Party quits, adding that if 5-Star does not back a Thursday confidence vote, Italy should call snap elections. Subsequently, Democratic Party is unwilling to form new governments without the 5-Star Party, according to a party source cited by Reuters. Geopolitical China's military said it monitored and drove away a US destroyer which entered the South China Sea Paracel Islands, while it added that the actions of the US military seriously violated China's sovereignty and security. Furthermore, the US military stated that USS Benfold asserted navigational rights and freedoms near the Paracel Islands consistent with international law, according to Reuters. US Navy says the Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group is operating in the South China Sea. Venezuela detained at least three Americans earlier this year accused of attempting to enter the country illegally, according to sources cited by Reuters. Iran Foreign Ministry spokesperson says results of the negotiations with Saudi Arabia have been promising, sides have an interest to continue talks. Subsequently, Iran President Raisi says it will not retreat from its 'rightful' stance in talks to revive the 2015 JCPOA, state TV reported. Central Banks RBNZ hiked the OCR by 50bps to 2.50%, as expected, and said it remains appropriate to continue to tighten policy, while it will tighten conditions at a pace to maintain price stability and support maximum sustainable employment. RBNZ added the Committee is resolute in its commitment to ensuring price inflation returns to the 1%-3% target range and it agreed to lift the OCR to a level where it is confident consumer price inflation will settle within the target range but added that once aggregate supply and demand are more balanced, the OCR can return to a lower and more neutral level. Furthermore, the Committee agreed to maintain the approach of briskly lifting the OCR and remained comfortable with the projected path of the OCR it outlined in May, as well as noted that there are near-term upside risks to consumer prices and also medium-term downside risks to economic activity. BoK raised its Base Rate by 50bps to 2.25%, as expected, with the decision made unanimously. BoK stated that South Korea's 2022 growth will moderate further from an earlier projection and inflation will remain high for some time, as well as noted that inflation will surpass the May forecast for the entire of 2022 and that core inflation is to be higher than 4% for a considerable period. Furthermore, BoK Governor Rhee said more policy tightening of 25bps looks appropriate going forward should current inflation continue for the time being and that it is reasonable to expect rates at 2.75%-3.00% by year-end. ECB's Villeroy says it is not the EUR that is weak but the USD that is strong. FX Greenback grinds higher ahead of US inflation data, but remains restrained, DXY back above 108.000 within 108.020-390 range. Aussie regroups alongside base metals and awaits labour report for further impetus; AUD/USD approaching 0.6800 vs sub-0.6750 low. Franc forges safe-haven gains vs Dollar and Euro, USD/CHF below 0.9800 and EUR/CHF under 0.9850. Kiwi somewhat deflated after RBNZ maintained half-point tightening pace, guidance and OCR path, NZD/USD capped into 0.6150. Sterling underpinned by above-forecast UK data and remarks from BoE Governor Bailey leaning towards bigger than 25bp hike, Cable straddling 1.1900 and EUR/GBP pivoting 100 and 200 DMAs. Loonie looking for a BoC boost via 75bp rate increase and hawkish guidance, USD/CAD towards the low end of 1.3050-00 band with 1.57bln option expiries rolling off at the round number. Yen undermined by firmer US Treasury yields pre-CPI and post-weak 10-year note the auction, USD/JPY rebounds through 137.00 again. Yuan pares some losses after China’s trade surplus tops consensus and PBoC pledges to up support for real economy; USD/CNH and USD/CNY testing bids and support on either side of 6.7200. Fixed Income Debt fades from early EU highs irrespective of risk-off sentiment as clock ticks down to key US CPI data. Bunds pull up just ahead of 153.00, Gilts into 116.00 and T-note shy of 119-00. Italian and German supply relatively well received, but impending long bond refunding comes hot on the heels of tepid demand for 10 year issuance. Commodities Crude benchmarks are bid after a concerted pick-up in the European morning that occurred without any obvious fresh fundamental driver. US Private Inventory Data (bbls): Crude +4.7mln (exp. -0.2mln), Gasoline +2.9mln (exp. -0.4mln), Distillates +3.2mln (exp. +1.6mln), Cushing +0.3mln. Libya's Government of National Unity decided to replace the NOC chairman and board, according to a government source. NOC later announced the lifting of the force majeure on exports from the Brega and Zueitina oil terminals, while it added that negotiations were conducted to allow exports from Es Sider port and resume output at the Al Waha and Mellita fields, according to Reuters. Eni (ENI IM) Chair says Italy will be able to replace 50% of Russian gas flows with other sources this winter, and 80% next winter, via Reuters citing a paper. Hungary Foreign Minister says it could purchase up to 700 MCM of gas on the market ahead of the heating season, in addition to long-term supply deal with Russia. IEA OMR: 2023 demand 101.3mln BPD, +2.1mln BPD; led by strong growth in non-OECD countries. 2022 demand cut by 200k BPD, seeing a rise of 1.7mln to 99.2mln BPD Spot gold is modestly firmer managing to capitalise on the session’s bout of USD easing, LME Copper has benefited from the generally constructive APAC tone though participants will remain cognisant of and cautious around the China-COVID situation. US Event Calendar 07:00: July MBA Mortgage Applications -1.7%, prior -5.4% 08:30: June CPI YoY, est. 8.8%, prior 8.6%; MoM, est. 1.1%, prior 1.0% 08:30: June CPI Ex Food and Energy YoY, est. 5.7%, prior 6.0%; MoM, est. 0.5%, prior 0.6% 08:30: June Real Avg Hourly Earning YoY, prior -3.0%, revised -2.9% 08:30: June Real Avg Weekly Earnings YoY, prior -3.9%, revised -4.0% 14:00: U.S. Federal Reserve Releases Beige Book 14:00: June Monthly Budget Statement, est. -$75b, prior -$174.2b DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap I’m supposed to be off for the next three days with the family but given how busy things are I’m delaying two of the days until August. However I can’t escape a Theme Park outing tomorrow so I’m still doing that. I hate Theme Parks and rollercoasters with a passion. Readers might remember the last time I went I had an argument with someone who pushed in with his whole family in the queue ahead of me. I was most disgruntled at the end of a long day and vowed never to return. However my kids love them. If it were up to me my preferences would dominate and we wouldn’t go but unfortunately my selfless wife puts our kids first. Probably a good thing!! I’ll be here now for the all important US CPI today but I’ll miss the ceremonial start of earnings season tomorrow with this week seeing a small selection of major US financials and consumer packaged goods companies reporting. My colleague Binky has just released his full preview, available here. He expects earnings to beat in the low single digits percentage region, below the long-run historical average of 5%. Earnings are likely to be 3.1% qoq along with downward revisions to forward estimates. Heading into earnings season, estimates have been revised lower for every sector but energy, which has experienced upgrades. Using a bottom-up approach, yoy EPS growth will come in at 5.7%. Heading into CPI and earnings, after markets had climbed a wall of worry since mid-June, they seem to be losing a bit of footing again over the last few days as fears of a recession dominate again, alongside fears of aggressive rate hikes by central banks, rising Covid cases in China and the prospect of Russia cutting off Europe’s gas. This gloomy backdrop saw the S&P 500 (-0.92%) lose ground for a 3rd day running, whilst those fears of weakening demand sent Brent crude oil prices back beneath $100/bbl and also led to day two of a new fresh sizeable rally in sovereign bonds. Oil is little changed in Asia trade with Brent and WTI futures almost flat at $99.76/bbl and $95.99/bbl respectively as we go to press. However, today’s main focus will almost certainly be on the US CPI release for June, which will set the stage for the Fed’s next decision in just two weeks’ time. Remember that it was last month’s much stronger-than-expected report that sparked a tumultuous market reaction that culminated in the Fed moving by 75bps at a single meeting for the first time since 1994, having previously only signalled a 50bps move. So any further surprises today could have a big impact. In terms of what to expect, our US economists are looking for an above-consensus monthly reading for both headline CPI (+1.3%) and core CPI (+0.6%), which in turn would take the year-on-year headline CPI up to its highest level since 1981, at +9.0%. Although we’re expecting another strong inflation print today, ahead of that release there were actually growing signs of respite on the inflation front thanks to further losses amongst a number of key commodities. Brent Crude (-7.11%) and WTI (-7.93%) oil prices saw substantial losses, copper prices (-4.10%) hit a 19-month low and gold (-0.46%) hit a 9-month low. Indeed, the only major exception to that pattern was the usual suspect of European natural gas (+4.92%) which just about reversed the previous day’s decline following cuts to Norwegian capacity. Our research colleagues in Frankfurt published a detailed note yesterday on the gas supply issue (link here), where they run through 3 scenarios of how things might evolve, including what happens if Russia completely turns off the gas taps to Germany after the maintenance period that would involve gas being rationed during the winter months. Although many will welcome the decline in those commodities mentioned above, the bad news is that the reason they’re declining is because of recession fears, and yesterday saw a number of additional recessionary indicators flash with growing alarm. One in particular is the 2s10s curve, which has inverted before every one of the last 10 US recessions, and remains near its most inverted of this cycle so far at -8.5bps after dipping below -12bps intraday. We would stress that while we are the yield curve’s biggest fan, it usually takes a minimum of three quarters from inversion to recession so we still think it may take a bit of time from the first inversion in March to confirm the almost inevitable recession. For the 1s10s and the 2s5s curve, it was much the same story of being the most inverted so far this cycle, and the 3m10s curve reached its flattest since November 2020. And whilst the Fed have told us to focus on their preferred near-term forward spread (18m3m minus 3m), even that closed beneath 100bps for the first time so far this year at 94bps (from a peak of 270bps in early April), so these measures are all trending in the wrong direction from a recessionary standpoint. In terms of the absolute yield moves, the risk-off tone saw them move lower on both sides of the Atlantic. 10yr Treasury yields fell -2.4bps to 2.97% albeit having being as much as -9.6bps lower intraday. There was a discrete bounce in longer-dated Treasury yields following the 2bp tail in the 10yr auction. Yields are fairly stable in Asian trading. Meanwhile in Europe, those on 10yr bunds (-11.3bps), OATs (-12.8bps) and BTPs (-9.8bps) all fell back too, as concerns about the economic situation led investors to price in a less aggressive pace of monetary tightening over the coming months, particularly from the ECB. That also meant that the Euro itself moved ever closer to parity against the US Dollar yesterday, and you had to look to 5 decimal places to see that it just avoided that milestone, with an intraday low of $1.00003 during the European morning, ending the day just a hair lower versus the dollar, down -0.03% at $1.0037. European equities staged a modest comeback from Monday’s selloff, while US equities ended lower after flirting with gains all day. The STOXX 600 gained +0.49%, with the DAX performing a touch better at +0.57%, bringing the STOXX 600 to just under flat for the week, while the DAX is still -0.84% lower on the week. The S&P 500 fell -0.92%, after trading near unchanged most of the day. Theories abounded for the late turnaround. Underlying market technicals pointed to potential algorithmic selling programs, whilst rumours spread in some circles that the CPI report was leaked and revealed a +10% print. Officials disabused us of the latter, but it nevertheless speaks to the heightened anxiety markets are trading with around inflationary data. In terms of the breakdown, energy shares (-2.03%) were the clear underperformer, but a wide-breadth of shares took a dip lower in the afternoon, sending the NASDAQ (-0.95%), FANG+ (-1.01%), and Russell 2000 (-0.22%) all lower on the day. So no clear macro driver for equities yesterday, but again, today’s CPI will be instructive about the near-term path. Overnight in Asia equity markets are trading higher after recent losses. As I type, the Hang Seng (+0.81%) is leading gains across the region with the Kospi (+0.71%), Shanghai Composite (+0.36%), CSI (+0.26%), and the Nikkei (+0.33%) all trading up. Looking ahead, equity futures in the US point to a steady start with contracts on the S&P 500 (+0.14%) and NASDAQ 100 (+0.21%) moving higher. Moving on to monetary policy action, the Bank of Korea (BOK) increased rates by 50bps, bringing the benchmark rate to 2.25% in order to help pullback inflation from a 24-yr high of 6%. The unprecedented rate hike size comes even as the central bank forecasts the country’s growth rate to lag “below the May forecast of 2.7%. Elsewhere, the Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ) in an expected move also increased its official cash rate (OCR) by 50bps for a third straight meeting to 2.5%. Staying in Asia, another risk that’s been in a few headlines again is Covid. Partly this is because of the ongoing situation in China, where a steady stream of cases have been reported over recent days. But in addition to that, the US is considering whether to expand the recommendation of the second booster to all adults in light of the BA.5 omicron variant’s spread, and White House coronavirus coordinator Ashish Jha said that these discussions “have been going on for a while”. Of particular concern to officials, the BA.5 seems to evade immunity provided from prior infections. Here in the UK, it’ll be another eventful day on the political scene as the first ballot of MPs takes place in the Conservative leadership election, which will also decide the next Prime Minister. 8 candidates will be on today’s ballot, and former Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak is currently leading when it comes to MP’s endorsements, with yesterday seeing him gain that of Deputy PM Dominic Raab, among others. Candidates will need the support of at least 30 MPs today to progress onto the next ballot that takes place tomorrow. There wasn’t much data yesterday, but the releases we did get only added to negative sentiment. First the German ZEW survey saw the expectations reading fall to its lowest level since the sovereign debt crisis at -53.8 (vs. -40.5 expected), whilst the current situation reading fell to -45.8 (vs. -34.5 expected). Separately, the NFIB’s small business optimism index from the US fell to 89.5 (vs. 92.5 expected). To the day ahead now, and data releases include the US CPI release for June, as well as UK monthly GDP for May and Euro Area industrial production for May. Otherwise from central banks, the Bank of Canada will be making their latest policy decision, and the Federal Reserve will release their Beige Book. Tyler Durden Wed, 07/13/2022 - 07:57.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytJul 13th, 2022

Biden DOJ Sues To Block Arizona"s Proof Of Citizenship Voting Law

Biden DOJ Sues To Block Arizona's Proof Of Citizenship Voting Law The Biden administration sued Arizona on Tuesday to block a new law requiring proof of citizenship in order to vote in federal elections. Biden Attorney General Merrick Garland Calling it a "textbook violation of the National Voter Registration Act," Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division said that the law's requirement was "onerous" - and took particular issue with provisions such as "requiring election officials to reject voter registration forms based on errors or omissions that are not material to establishing a voter’s eligibility to cast a ballot." The new law would require voters to prove citizenship using documentation such as a driver's license, passport, birth certificate or naturalization papers. A sign points voters to a voting center for the Democratic primary in Sun City, Arizona, U.S., March 17, 2020. REUTERS/Cheney Orr/File Photo Clarke added that the new law, scheduled to take effect in January after it was signed into law by GOP Gov. Doug Ducey, is similar to an Arizona law struck down by the US Supreme Court in 2013. The suit describes how the attorney for Arizona legislators warned them that the bill would violate federal law and contradict the earlier Supreme Court ruling. House Speaker Pro Tempore Travis Grantham said trying again "is a fight worth having," according to the court filing. State Attorney General Mark Brnovich suggested the Justice Department was encouraging undocumented immigrants to vote by filing the lawsuit. “I will once again be in court defending Arizona against the lawlessness of the Biden administration,” Brnovich said Tuesday. -NBC News State AG Mark Brnovich said in response to the lawsuit: "Arizona has passed a law that turns the clock back on progress by imposing unlawful and unnecessary requirements that would block eligible voters from the registration rolls for certain federal elections," tweeting later: "It’s another round of Brnovich v. Biden as his DOJ continues its attempts to undermine our election integrity laws." It’s another round of Brnovich v. Biden as his DOJ continues its attempts to undermine our election integrity laws. I will see you in court. Again. — Mark Brnovich (@GeneralBrnovich) July 5, 2022 As ABC13 notes: Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich told Clarke in a letter that he intendeds to defend Arizona's H.B. 2492 all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court if needed. He pointed to his victory in a separate election integrity suit from last year, in which he argued successfully in front of the Supreme Court that Arizona election integrity laws and policies did not violate the nation's Voting Rights Act or the Constitution. In his letter, Brnovich chided Clarke and the DOJ for using its resources “to challenge a common sense law,” while at the same time the Biden administration is “opening our borders to encourage a flood of illegal immigration.” Brnovich questioned whether the DOJ was attempting "to undermine [Arizona's] sovereignty" and "destabilize" the state's election infrastructure. “I hope that is not your intention," he noted. "I strongly urge you to reconsider your pursuit of this misguided suit and to instead recognize Arizona's constitutional authority to conduct lawful and secure elections.” One year ago today, the U.S. Supreme Court gave us a 6-3 victory in the landmark election integrity case, Brnovich v. DNC, that I personally argued. It's been a honor to fight on behalf of Arizonans to uphold the rule of law for our state. pic.twitter.com/b1nD0oZBnK — Mark Brnovich (@GeneralBrnovich) July 2, 2022 According to Gov. Ducey, the measure would address the more than 11,000 voters in 2020 that had not provided proof of citizenship, in a state where President Biden won by less than 11,000 votes. Tyler Durden Wed, 07/06/2022 - 11:05.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytJul 6th, 2022

Donald Trump is no longer in contempt of court in New York — but AG Letitia James still holds his $110,000 fine

The former president has been held in contempt since April for failing to turn over personal business documents to the New York Attorney General. Donald Trump speaking at the NRA convention in Houston, TX, on May 27, 2022. New York Attorney General Letitia James, right, speaks in Washington, DC on Nov. 12, 2019.Left, Brandon Bell/Getty Images. Right, Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images A Manhattan judge on Wednesday lifted the costly contempt-of-court order he'd imposed on Donald Trump. NY AG Letitia James' lawyers agreed he complied with court orders relating to his personal business files.  James still only has 10 of Trump's files. She also has his check for $110,000 in court-imposed penalties.  A Manhattan judge on Wednesday lifted a costly contempt-of-court order that had threatened Donald Trump with hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines for failing to fully comply with a New York investigation into his hotel and golf resort business.Trump has been held in contempt since April, when New York Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron found the former president had failed to turn over personal business documents subpoenaed by New York Attorney General Letitia James — or, alternately, to explain why so few documents had been turned over.The contempt finding came with a $10,000-a-day fine that rose to $110,000 before the judge stopped the clock in early May.Had Trump's lawyers not turned over a set of executive affidavits explaining how Trump's documents were — or were not — preserved earlier this month, the fine could have been re-instated retroactively, potentially costing the former president some $300,000 more."It is hereby ordered that the contempt of respondent Donald J. Trump is purged," Engoron wrote in Wednesday's decision.The lifting of the contempt order amounts to a brief truce between the former president and James, who has been probing allegations of financial wrongdoing at the Trump Organization for three years.  For Trump, it not only means that his contempt fines won't get any higher, but also that what his lawyers have described as the unrealistic ordeal of complying with the AG's document subpoenas is over.  On James' side, it signals she has given up on getting any more than the 10 "custodial" files from Trump that have been turned over to her office, just a fraction of some 900,000 files turned over by the Trump Organization as a whole.She still gets to keep the $110,000 check that Trump cut to her office; it remains in escrow while Trump appeals the contempt order.The probe is winding down, James' lawyers have said, with one remaining investigative effort still looming: Donald Trump, Ivanka Trump, and Donald Trump, Jr. have all been ordered by Engoron to comply in mid-July with James' subpoenas for their testimony.Afterward, James appears on the brink of filing a massive lawsuit that may seek to put the Trump Organization out of business entirely.James has alleged that a decade's worth of Trump's statements of financial condition — annual accountings of his net worth used to secure hundreds of millions of dollars in bank loans and tax breaks — are rife with "misrepresentations."Lawyers for the Trump family and business have accused James — a Democrat who has been outspoken against the former president for years — of conducting a politically-motivated witch hunt.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderJun 29th, 2022

Family Of Latest Clinton-Linked Suicide Blocks Release Of Shotgun Death Details

Family Of Latest Clinton-Linked Suicide Blocks Release Of Shotgun Death Details The family of yet another dead Clinton pal has petitioned a judge to prevent pictures of Mark Middleton from being released under a Freedom of Information Act. And while there's been no response from the court, a local Arkansas sheriff is interpreting the request itself as a full-stop on information requests, according to the Daily Mail. All we know thus far is that the 59-year-old Middleton - who admitted Jeffrey Epstein to the White House seven out of at least 17 times - was discovered on May 7 hanging from a tree at the Heifer Ranch in Perryville by an electrical cord, with a shotgun blast to his chest. The ranch, located 30 miles from Middleton's home, is owned by an anti-poverty nonprofit called Heifer International. The seemingly redundant 'suicide' methods used by the married father of two, or whoever killed him, will remain a mystery, for now. "The investigation is still open. I can't say anything more," Perry County Sheriff Scott Montgomery told the Mail, adding that the family said he was "depressed." "'I don't know the man, and I don't [know] why he picked our county or picked that location to commit suicide. To our knowledge, he had never been there before, and we have no record of him being there before, Montgomery told Radar Online before he clammed up. "He died from a self-inflicted shotgun wound to the chest. He found a tree and he pulled a table over there, and he got on that table, and he took an extension cord and put it around a limb, put it around his neck and he shot himself in the chest with a shotgun ... It was very evident that the shotgun worked because there was not a lot of blood or anything on the scene. You can tell the shotgun blast was on his chest, you can tell that because there is a hole in the chest and pellets came out the back of his back. It was definitely self-inflicted in our opinion." As the Mail notes, Middleton's mysterious death adds to the list of Clinton associates who have died unexpectedly - many in small plane crashes. Middleton's family did not disclose the cause of death at the time but authorities later confirmed the former White House official took his own life with a self-inflicted gunshot at an urban farm in Perryville, Arkansas. In a lawsuit filed on May 23, the family admits Middleton committed suicide, and says they have 'a privacy interest' in preventing any 'photographs, videos, sketches (or) other illustrative content' from the death scene being released. They claim it would lead to 'outlandish, hurtful, unsupported and offensive articles' being published online. They argued that keeping the footage and files sealed would halt a proliferation of 'unsubstantiated conspiracy theories'. A judge is due to hear the case on June 14. -Daily Mail Middleton was an associate of the late Jeffrey Epstein - who made at least 17 trips to the White House between 1993 and 1995. Bill Clinton, meanwhile, was one of dozens of passengers to fly on Epstein's "Lolita Express" - where witnesses have placed the former president on Epstein's private island. According to the Heifer International spokesman Chris Cox Heifer, Middleton's car was found in the parking lot by ranch employees who then notified the sheriff. His body was found shortly thereafter. "He wasn't invited to the property and staff became aware that he was there without authorization," said Heifer, adding "We have not found any connection to Heifer." "The ranch is well known in the area and it's possible that he could have attended something here but we couldn't' find any major links," he continued. "The ranch hosts school groups for things like lambing so he could have attended one of those. It's a very unfortunate incident." According to the Mail, Middleton left the White House in February 1995 - and allegedly held himself out as an international dealmaker, something Epstein might have been attracted to. In 1996, an investigation found that Middleton had abused his access to the White House to impress business clients, and was barred from the executive mansion without senior approval - claims he's denied. Meanwhile, the Mail has provided a list of the 'Clinton body count.' Judi Gibbs, 32, January 3, 1986: The one-time Penthouse Pet died alongside her lover Bill Puterburgh, 57, in an unexplained house fire in Fordyce, Arkansas. She was a high-class prostitute who used hotels and racetracks to pick up rich and powerful men and was known to have had an affair with then-Arkansas governor Bill Clinton who would fly her from her home town to Little Rock. Rumors of a compromising picture of the two of them were rife, but if it ever existed, it was probably destroyed in the fire. The families of both Gibbs and Puterburgh told DailyMail.com in 2016 they believe the fire was set deliberately. Kevin Ives, 17, and Don Henry, 16, August 23, 1987: The two teens were crushed by a train, in Alexander, Arkansas. Their deaths were ruled accidental, with the medical examiner saying they had fallen asleep on a railroad line after smoking marijuana, but a grand jury found they had been murdered before being placed on the tracks. They had allegedly stumbled on a plot to smuggle drugs and guns from an airport in Mena, Arkansas, that Gov. Bill Clinton was said to be involved in. Victor Raiser, 53, July 30, 1992: The second finance co-chair of Bill Clinton's presidential campaign was killed along with his son in a plane crash during a fishing vacation in Alaska. Conspiracy theorists believe the crash was deliberately caused. Campaign press secretary Dee Dee Myers called Raiser a major player in the organization. Paul Tully, 48, September 25, 1992: The Democratic strategist died of an apparent heart attack. A chain-smoking, heavy-drinking political consultant who weighed in at more than 320 lb. Tully died seven weeks before Clinton's first presidential election win. He had been political director of the DNC during Clinton's rise. Tully was on the left of the Democratic Party and usually worked for those who shared his views, however he agreed to work for Clinton because he was impressed with his oratory and thought he was the only Democrat who could beat President George Bush. Paula Gober, 36, December 7, 1992: Clinton's interpreter for the deaf for several years died in a single car accident. Gober had traveled with him while he was governor of Arkansas. Her vehicle overturned on a bend, throwing her 30 feet. There were no witnesses. Vince Foster, 48, July 20, 1993: The Arkansas lawyer committed suicide. President Clinton appointed Foster to deputy White House counsel when he became president in 1993. It didn't take long for Foster, 48, to realize he had made a terrible mistake by accepting the post. He hated the work and fell into a deep depression. Just six months into the job, his body was found in his car in Fort Marcy Park, Virginia, a gun in his hand and a suicide note torn into 27 pieces in the trunk. Conspiracy theorists believe he was murdered by the Clintons for knowing too much. Stanley Heard, 47, September 10, 1993: The Arkansas chiropractor died in a small plane crash. According to 1998 book 'A Profession of One's Own,' the doctor treated the Clinton family. Heard was asked by Bill Clinton to represent the practice as plans for 'Hillarycare' were being finalized. His attorney Steve Dickson, was flying him home from a healthcare meeting in Washington DC just eight months into the Clinton presidency. On the way to the capital from his home in Kansas, Dickson's small plane developed problems so he landed in St. Louis and rented another plane. That rented plane was the one that crashed in rural Virginia, killing both men. Jerry Parks, 47, September 23, 1993: The head of security for Bill Clinton's headquarters in Arkansas, was shot to death. As he drove home in West Little Rock, two men in a white Chevrolet pulled alongside his car and sprayed it with semi-automatic gunfire. As Parks's car stopped a man stepped out of the Chevy and shot him twice with a 9mm pistol and sped off. Despite there being several witnesses, no-one was ever arrested. The killing came two months after Parks had watched news of Vince Foster's death and allegedly told his son Gary 'I'm a dead man.' His wife Lois remarried and her second husband, Dr. David Millstein was stabbed to death in 2006. Edward Willey Jr, 60, November 29, 1993: The Clinton fundraiser was found dead in the Virginia woods. He was having serious money problems and his wife, a volunteer aide in the White House, agreed to ask Bill Clinton for a paid job. Their meeting ended when Clinton allegedly forced himself on her in the Oval Office, kissing her, fondling her breast and pushing her hand on to his genitals. Four years later Kathleen Willey wrote a book in which she put forward a theory that the Clintons may have had her husband murdered. She said after his death, a friend had told her that Ed had confided that he took briefcases full of cash to the Clintons' base in Little Rock, Arkansas during Bill's first presidential campaign. Herschel Friday, 70, March 1, 1994: The Arkansas lawyer died in a small plane crash when he lost control as he came in to land at his Arkansas ranch. President Richard Nixon had once considered Friday for the Supreme Court. He was known as a benefactor of Bill Clinton, serving on his campaign finance committee after his law firm had persuaded the then-governor to support a tax package that helped the state's horse racing industry. Kathy Ferguson, 37, May 11, 1994: The ex-wife of Arkansas State Trooper Danny Ferguson, who was named in a sexual harassment suit brought by Paula Jones against Bill Clinton. Ferguson died by gun suicide. She left a note blaming problems with her fiancé, Bill Shelton. A month later Shelton, upset about the suicide verdict, killed himself. Ron Brown, 54, April 3, 1996: The chair of the Democratic National Committee died in a plane crash in Croatia. He became head of the DNC during Bill Clinton's rise to the presidential nomination and was rewarded with the cabinet position. He was under a corruption investigation when his plane slammed into a mountainside. Doctors who examined his body found a circular wound on the top of his head which led to suspicions that he had died before the plane crashed, but that theory was later discounted. The crash was attributed to pilot error. Charles Meissner, 56, April 3, 1996: The assistant secretary for international trade died in the same plane crash as Brown. Meissner had been criticized for allegedly giving special security clearance to John Huang, who later pleaded guilty to federal conspiracy charges for violating campaign finance laws, in a case that enmeshed the Clinton administration. Seth Rich, 27, July 10, 2016: The Operations Director for Voter Expansion for the DNC, was found murdered on in Washington, DC. He was shot in the back a block from his apartment at 4:20am. His killers have not been identified. Conspiracy theorists believe Rich may have been involved in the DNC email leak in 2016. His death initially appeared like a robbery gone wrong but his mother Mary Rich claims that nothing was taken from her son, who was found with two shots in his back. The mystery surrounding his death sparked a flurry of theories, including claims that he was on his way to speak to the FBI when he was shot. To see the rest of the list, click here. Tyler Durden Tue, 06/07/2022 - 20:25.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeJun 7th, 2022

10 Under-Reported Revelations From Trial Of Former Clinton Lawyer

10 Under-Reported Revelations From Trial Of Former Clinton Lawyer Authored by Zachary Stieber via The Epoch Times, While former Hillary Clinton campaign lawyer Michael Sussmann was acquitted of lying to the FBI, a number of new details came to light during his trial. Some haven’t been made known or been widely reported. 1. FBI Lawyer Sussmann Met With Sought Perkins Coie Job Sussmann passed along claims about Clinton presidential rival Donald Trump to FBI lawyer James Baker on Sept. 19, 2016, as well as data that supposedly supported the claims. Baker gave the information to others in the bureau, triggering an investigation. The FBI and CIA both determined the claims were unsupported. Baker, while testifying during the trial, described Sussmann as a friend whom he met when both worked for the Department of Justice (DOJ), the FBI’s parent agency. Baker, who left the bureau in May 2018, revealed that he was seeking to work for Perkins Coie, the firm that employed Sussmann, soon after. “To the best of my recollection, I think it was Michael’s idea,” Baker said. “I mean, Michael knew that I had left the bureau, and I was looking around for a job—I had a job at the time, so I was working—I was working at the time, but I was looking around at other jobs, including [at] law firms. And so somehow he became aware of that and inquired about whether I would be interested in working at Perkins Coie.” In one of many text messages the men exchanged before and after the meeting, Sussmann told Baker on Sept. 29, 2018, that it was “great seeing you this week.” That was a reference to a meeting that involved discussing a job at Perkins Coie, according to Baker. While Sussmann arranged interviews for Baker, Perkins Coie never made a job offer. Baker described “a miscommunication” in which a headhunter he was working with told him that the firm had essentially rejected him. But when Baker conveyed the message to Sussmann, Sussmann “went and got it sorted out,” Baker said, adding that the firm was actually considering offering him a job. Baker, however, ended up taking jobs at the think tank R Street Institute and CNN. He left those positions to work at Twitter, where he’s currently employed. 2. Joffe Was an FBI Source, and Was Fired The information that Sussmann took to the FBI was obtained by Rodney Joffe, among others. Joffe was a technology executive at Neustar who was one of Sussmann’s clients. Joffe was a confidential human source (CHS) for the bureau for years, it was revealed during the trial. He had regularly helped the bureau on cybersecurity matters and was even recommended for an FBI award in 2013. But Joffe was terminated, apparently because of his actions in 2016. He was “closed for cause as a source,” prosecutor Deborah Brittain Shaw said. “Our understanding is that Mr. Joffe was terminated as a source for cause in 2021 as an outgrowth of this investigation,” Michael Bosworth, a defense lawyer, added later. The defense successfully got U.S. District Judge Christopher Cooper, an Obama appointee, to order prosecutors not to reference Joffe’s status again, after they claimed it was “prejudicial to explore or elicit further testimony about his termination, given that it happened so late and was connected to this case.” Bosworth called Joffe “one of the world’s leading cyber experts” during opening arguments. Joffe “exploited his access” to non-public data from Trump Tower, Trump’s apartment in New York, and the White House to compile the data Sussmann eventually took to the FBI, according to prosecutors. Joffe could still be charged with crimes, prosecutors have indicated. He wasn’t called as a witness because he was going to refuse to answer questions, since he’s still under investigation. 3. ‘Tea Leaves’ Was April Lorenzen The group that gathered the data that Sussmann presented to the FBI also included April Lorenzen, a data analyst at a firm called ZETAlytics. It was known that a person in the group went online and posted some of the information under the moniker “Tea Leaves.” The posts were made in October 2016, shortly after Sussmann met with Baker. But the identity of the person wasn’t confirmed until the trial, during which Bosworth said it was Lorenzen. Bosworth was questioning FBI agent Ryan Gaynor, who monitored the investigation into the Trump–Russia claims from Washington on behalf of FBI leadership. Gaynor acknowledged that, as far as he knew, nobody had tried to contact the person who posted the information online pseudonymously. “And are you aware that, if they had done so, they would have discovered that the person posting was another cyber expert named April Lorenzen?” Bosworth asked. “I am not,” Gaynor said. Slate magazine, which was one of the first outlets to publish an article about the Trump–Alfa Bank claims, described “Tea Leaves” as a male, as did The Intercept. “Tea Leaves” was mentioned in Sussmann’s indictment, which also described the person “Originator-1.” According to the indictment, “Tea Leaves” was a business associate of “Tech Executive-1,” who has long been known as Joffe. Jared Novick, who conducted research for Joffe on Trump associates such as Carter Page, said on the stand that Joffe “had involvement in” a number of companies, including ZETAlytics. Joffe previously refused to answer questions about the businesses he owned or was otherwise affiliated with during a deposition for a lawsuit filed by Alfa Bank. Rodney Joffe, left, launching Littoral Ventures with others, including April Lorenzen, second from right, the CEO of ZETAlytics. (DOJ via The Epoch Times) 4. Multi-Pronged Effort to Seed Allegations Lorenzen posted the data on a WordPress blog. One or more members of the group also reportedly took to Reddit to share the data, and Joffe directed Sussmann to go to the FBI with the claims, Sussmann indicated in previous testimony before Congress. Separately, Joffe approached an FBI agent named Tom Grasso with several IP addresses that were purportedly linked to Alfa Bank, the Russian bank that Joffe’s group claimed had a secret backchannel with Trump’s business. Grasso said on the stand that he’d been working with Joffe for years, even though he wasn’t Joffe’s handler. He also said the situation was “unusual” because “it concerned a matter that I normally did not work on with Mr. Joffe.” “Most of the stuff I worked on Mr. Joffe with was cyber crime matters, and this was in the area of Russia and foreign influence and counterintelligence and things like that, which is why I quickly passed it off to who I thought were the people working that matter,” Grasso testified. Grasso didn’t reveal Joffe was a CHS in passing along the information to others in the bureau. Instead, he described Joffe as an “anonymous reporter.” During closing arguments, prosecutor Andrew DeFilippis said: “This is Mr. Joffe trying to put these politically charged allegations into another part of the FBI in order to create the appearance of two different streams of information. And that makes sense with the broader plan that was at work here. They were trying to hide origins, hide the involvement of clients in order to get the FBI to investigate.” Another aspect of the effort involved promoting the allegations to the media. Sussmann, operatives with Fusion GPS, and at least one Clinton campaign staffer shared the data with reporters to try to get stories written. That plan was approved by Clinton herself, campaign manager Robby Mook said on the stand. Among the reporters was Mark Hosenball of Reuters, who emails show was in contact with Fusion operatives. Hosenball went to the FBI to ask about the “Tea Leaves” post. 5. Clinton Lawyers Met Regularly With Fusion Marc Elias, another lawyer with Perkins Coie, served as the Clinton campaign’s counsel after Clinton won the Democratic primary. He hired Fusion to perform opposition research and to help him with legal services. Fusion is the firm that compiled the infamous anti-Trump dossier with the help of former British spy Christopher Steele. Elias was known to have met multiple times with Fusion co-founders Peter Fritsch and Glenn Simpson ahead of the election. But during the trial, documents entered by the prosecution show the trio convened regularly, and that Debbie Fine, a top lawyer with the campaign, was part of the meetings. One document, titled “Daily Check in,” shows that meetings were scheduled every weekday for 30 minutes from June 6 until Oct. 31, 2016. Another shows a meeting of the quartet on Aug. 12 for its daily check-in. A third shows a meeting on Aug. 17. Fine said on the stand that she communicated with Fusion operatives on average several times a week. Fine didn’t recall daily check-ins. She said that as far as she knew, only she and Elias were aware of Fusion doing research, but she didn’t know why others weren’t aware. “I operated on the assumption that, like most of the work that I did for clients, it’s on a need-to-know basis, so I just—I didn’t share it, and I wasn’t told not to share it. And I don’t know whether or not Marc Elias shared it with anyone,” she said. Fine also said she didn’t recall discussions about Alfa Bank. Presented with an email she asked Elias to print in October 2016, she said the email was about the Trump–Alfa Bank allegations, as laid out in the Slate article. Elias previously told a congressional panel that Fusion was “acting as my agents” and that he met with the operatives on a weekly basis. Other documents entered during the trial showed that Elias met with Joffe in his office and spoke with him by phone, and that Elias sent an article related to Alfa Bank to top campaign officials, including campaign chair John Podesta, four days before Sussmann went to the FBI. 6. FBI Leaders Were Excited About Probe Then-FBI Director James Comey was “fired up” about the Trump–Alfa Bank allegations, according to internal messages entered into evidence. Comey was interested in the case, another agent wrote. The decision to open an investigation was made by senior officials. Joseph Pientka, an FBI official, wrote in a message that the Chicago team “must” open a case because Bill Priestap, another official, “says its [sic] not an option—we must do it.” The case was opened later that day. FBI leadership kept tabs on the probe, mainly through Gaynor, who volunteered to monitor it from Washington. Senior FBI leaders imposed a “close hold” on the material, “which meant that the specific information about who had provided the allegation could not be provided to the field,” Gaynor testified during the trial. Leaders were also said to be behind efforts to stonewall agents who asked to interview the source. “When we said that we were interested in interviewing the—when I say ‘the source,’ I mean the author of the white paper or the source of the data—I don’t know if that’s different people or not—but wherever it came from,” said Allison Sands, the FBI agent who was in charge of investigating the claims. But leadership communicated that “we should, at the division level, focus on the technical analysis,” she added. Headquarters “was not giving us the ability to go interview these people,” Curtis Heide, another agent working the case, recounted. He said he was frustrated. Agents said that it’s important to know about sources’ political biases, such as Sussmann representing the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign. Gaynor acknowledged he had been under investigation for violating the hold during an interview with employees of the DOJ inspector general’s office during a 2020 meeting. He said he was “woefully ill prepared” for the meeting. He believes he’s no longer under investigation. Former FBI Director James Comey speaks via a TV monitor during a hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington on Sept. 30, 2020. (Stefani Reynolds/Pool/Getty Images) 7. Multiple Offices Worked on Investigation Baker was based in Washington at the FBI’s headquarters. Gaynor monitored the investigation into the claims from Washington. Cyber experts in Chantilly, Virginia, initially analyzed the data, then passed the probe to a hybrid cyber-counterintelligence team in Chicago. At least one agent based in Miami worked on the case, interviewing Central Dynamics, the company to which the Trump email domain was registered, while another agent or agents in Philadelphia handled interviews at Listrak, another company. Grasso was based in Pittsburgh. “It looks like the clearing house in London” received the same white paper as the one given to Baker, or a similar one, Sands wrote in a message on Oct. 4, 2016. 8. FBI Took Months to Close Investigation A full investigation into the Trump–Russia claims was opened on Sept. 23, 2016. The probe wasn’t officially closed until Jan. 18, 2017. FBI experts deemed the allegations likely false within a day. The team that did additional work in looking into the claims, which included contacting entities like Central Dynamics had come to a similar conclusion by Oct. 5, 2016. The delay in closing the probe stemmed from not being able to figure out who handed over the thumb drives that contained the data, according to Sands. The drives were serialized as 1b, which is digital evidence. When the bureau closes cases, it has to return items taken in the course of an investigation to their rightful owner. “Well, in this case, we didn’t know who the owner of the thumb drives was, because James Baker wasn’t the owner,” Sands said. “He was like a middleman or something. He had given them to us, but we didn’t know who the thumb drives belonged to.” The team moved to initiate an “abandonment hearing,” which would enable them to destroy the drives. However, because that involved layers of bureaucracy, Sands’s supervisor recommended reserializing the drives as 1a, which refers to anything an agent wants to have in a case file but isn’t necessarily evidence. She cited notes taken in an interview as an example. The reclassification allowed the FBI to close the investigation. That means it was closed when CNN reported, citing anonymous sources, in March 2017 that it was still being investigated. 9. Paperwork Had ‘Mistakes’ The document memorializing the opening of the investigation said the DOJ referred the allegations to the FBI. So did the closing document. Heide referred to both as “mistakes,” or “typos.” He said the team had apparently conflated the FBI’s office of general counsel with the DOJ. That wasn’t the only problem with files related to the probe. The closing document said that the was a “preliminary” inquiry as opposed to a “full” investigation. “That’s a typo as well,” Heide said. Heide said he was alerted to the issues for the first time in 2018 by the DOJ’s Office of the Inspector General. “I believe they brought it to my attention and asked me if it was accurate, and my response was the same, that I don’t believe it was accurate,” he said. 10. Investigation Into Crossfire Hurricane Continues Special counsel John Durham’s team, which prosecuted Sussmann, is investigating the origins of the government’s counterintelligence probes into alleged Trump and Russia links. Many of the probes utilized information paid for by the Clinton campaign. The FBI is also conducting its own inquiry into the probes, collectively known as Crossfire Hurricane, Heide said on the stand. “And are you being investigated individually as part of that investigation?” a prosecutor asked. “Yes. Myself and, I believe, others as well,” Heide said. Heide is being investigated for “not identifying exculpatory information as it pertained to one of the Crossfire Hurricane investigations,” he added later. “There were various consensual recordings that were obtained from one of the subjects, and there were statements, I believe, used in a FISA application that were—the exculpatory information was not divulged to the FISA court”—the secretive court authorized by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. A previous watchdog probe found the FBI committed “significant” errors and omissions in all four of the applications made to the court to spy on Page. The most significant may have been how an FBI lawyer, Kevin Clinesmith, doctored an email to state that Page wasn’t a CIA asset when, in fact, he was. Clinesmith pleaded guilty to a charge stemming from Durham’s probe and received probation. Heide, during testimony, denied that he withheld exculpatory information from the court. Heide, who is still with the FBI operating out of Des Moines, Iowa, worked on both Crossfire Hurricane and the Mid-Year Exam, or the bureau’s investigation into Clinton’s use while secretary of state of a private email server to send classified emails. Tyler Durden Tue, 06/07/2022 - 18:05.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeJun 7th, 2022

Donald Trump keeps calling NY AG Letitia James names. Here are 5 reasons she"s been getting under his skin.

The District Attorney for New York is clearly getting under the former president's skin. Here are five good reasons why. New York Attorney General Letitia James and Donald TrumpAssociated Press Twice in two days, Donald Trump has publicly called New York AG Letitia James a failure and "racist."  James and Trump are in the thick of battle over her subpoenas for his testimony and documents. The AG's three-year probe could result in high fines and possible criminal charges for Trump. In a bizarre "Happy Easter" post on Sunday, Donald Trump called New York Letitia James a "racist" and a "failed Gubernatorial candidate." On Easter Monday, he called her those names again.Leaving aside the dog-whistle affront of calling a Black AG racist, as he first did during a rally in January, James is clearly getting under the former president's skin.Here are five good reasons why.1) This 3-year battle is at its absolute hottest.Trump and James have been locked in battle for three years, as the AG probes whether the former president habitually fudged his numbers when applying for loans and tax breaks on behalf of The Trump Organization.And although a criminal probe by the Manhattan DA's Office appears to have stalled, the AG's own pursuit of Trump has never been more intense. Lawyers for both sides are prepping oral arguments — now scheduled for May 11 — for an upcoming appearance in an  appellate courtroom in Manhattan, where they'll spar over her demand that he, Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr. sit for depositions.Meanwhile, Trump's side has until Tuesday to file papers opposing what's arguably James' most hardball demand to date.James wants a Manhattan judge to find Trump in contempt of court, and to order he pay her office $10,000 a day until he turns over the personal business documents she says he still owes her. The parties are next in court on that issue on April 25.2) After 900,000 documents, she still wants more.In multiple court filings and hearings, one of the rare points of agreement between Trump and James has been the number of subpoenaed documents the Trump Organization has so far turned over to the AG's probe."Your honor, we've produced 900,000 documents; 6 million pages," since James issued her first subpoenas, Trump Organization lawyer Lawrence Rosen said during a hearing in Manhattan last month, citing numbers that are not in dispute. For James to ask for more is "harassment," Trump's lawyers say."Ms. James has repeatedly and unrelentingly harassed Plaintiffs with her baseless fishing expeditions," Trump attorney Alina Habba complained in court papers Monday, the latest filing in Trump's federal lawsuit seeking to stop the AG's probe.But James indeed wants more — specifically, Trump's personal business documents.And so far, Trump has turned over only 10 such documents from his personal business files, the AG complains.Trump's side says that there simply is no additional paperwork that would be responsive to the AG's subpoena. This, despite the notoriously computer-averse Trump's longstanding reliance on hard-copy documents.  "It just defies logic," that there's no other responsive paperwork, said Jeremy Saland, a white-collar crime defense lawyer who prosecuted complex financial cases as a Manhattan prosecutor."This is a man who claims to be the head of what purports to be a multi-billion-dollar real estate company."  3) No detail is too small for James' microscopeThe battle over Trump's personal business documents — believed at least in past years to have been stored in file cabinets in Trump Tower in Manhattan — provides a window into just how granular James gets in pursuit of evidence. In asking for the $10,000-a-day fine, it wasn't enough to accuse Trump of hiding his personal business documents. She also accused his lawyers of hiding the fact that Trump's hiding his personal business documents.Trump did so, James is alleging, by omitting a key word, "control," showing that even a word that does not exist won't get past James and her staff.James has been asking Trump, via subpoena, for all documents "in his possession, custody or control."  Trump's side has replied that the former president "has no documents or communications in his possession or custody that are responsive." That response "omits any reference to documents in the control of Mr. Trump," the AG complained in a memo filed April 7."There is a big difference between 'possession and custody' and control," said criminal defense lawyer Adam Kaufmann, a former Chief of Investigations in the Manhattan DA's office, noting that Trump could have simply transferred actual possession of his documents to someone else."Leaving out documents under Mr. Trump's 'control' — which appears to be intentional — is a glaring omission," said Kaufmann, of Lewis Baach Kaufmann Middlemiss, adding, "The lawyers at the AGs office are paying attention to details."4) Trump has met his media matchOn TV, on Twitter and in AG press releases, James has been #ResistingTrump for five years now.Even before her 2018 campaign to be New York's top law enforcement official, James was not shy about Trump and The Trump Organization."Leadin' a die-in because we are all being killed by this administration," James tweeted back in August of 2017, just eight months into the Trump presidency, according to a defense spreadsheet submitted as evidence of the AG's alleged political bias.Even since her election, she has been deft in using television and social media to publically stake her claim as Trump's most aggressive legal adversary.James gave a "giggle" when appearing on The View in December, after host Joy Behar joked, "I believe in Trump in jail," according to the spreadsheet, which lists more than two-dozen of the AG's tweets and statements. A separate defense timeline also records James' many statements on Trump going back to 2017."She's put her words out there so much, and taken every opportunity to voice her vendetta against Donald Trump and his family, to take him down," Habba complained during a hearing in Manhattan in February.5) James could fine and charge Trump and try to close his business James' civil probe extends into at least 10 of Trump's properties, and is expected to result in some action by her office, likely sometime after the Trump family deposition matter and Trump's federal lawsuit against the AG are resolved. The civil probe could result in a hefty lawsuit seeking to fine, or even shut down The Trump Organization entirely, remedies she has sought successfully against the Trump Foundation and unsuccessfully against the NRA. James has also made clear that she has found potential criminal wrongdoing during her years of digging. The AG can bring charges if she finds Trump and others have violated state business and tax laws. "In some ways he's been successful — in a whack-a-mole kind of way — in dodging so many civil and criminal enforcement actions and allegations," Saland said of Trump."And Tish James may be the one law enforcement officer to wield the last swing of the mallet," he said. "The last person standing in all this may well be Tish James."James' office declined to comment on this story. Trump has repeatedly insisted there has been no wrongdoing; two attorneys for Trump could not immediately be reached for comment.     Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderApr 18th, 2022

Planet Earth’s Future Now Rests in the Hands of Big Business

On a brisk Monday in Houston in early March, dozens of protesters gathered across the street from the giant Hilton hotel hosting CERAWeek, the energy industry’s hallmark annual conference. Their signs accused the corporate executives inside of betraying humanity in pursuit of financial return. STOP EXTRACTING OUR FUTURE, read one. PEOPLE OVER PROFIT, read another.… On a brisk Monday in Houston in early March, dozens of protesters gathered across the street from the giant Hilton hotel hosting CERAWeek, the energy industry’s hallmark annual conference. Their signs accused the corporate executives inside of betraying humanity in pursuit of financial return. STOP EXTRACTING OUR FUTURE, read one. PEOPLE OVER PROFIT, read another. Two days later, inside a standing-room-only hotel ballroom, Jennifer Granholm, the U.S. secretary of energy, offered a different message to the executives: the Biden Administration needs your help to tackle climate change. The scene encapsulated this moment in the fight to address global warming: some of the most ardent activists say that companies can’t be trusted; governments are saying they must play a role. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] They already are. The U.S. Department of Energy has partnered with private companies to bolster the clean energy supply chain, expand electric-vehicle charging, and commercialize new green technologies, among a range of other initiatives. In total, the agency is gearing up to spend tens of billions of dollars on public-private partnerships to speed up the energy transition. “I’m here to extend a hand of partnership,” Granholm told the crowd. “We want you to power this country for the next 100 years with zero-carbon technologies.” Across the Biden Administration, and around the world, government officials have increasingly focused their attention on the private sector—treating companies not just as entities to regulate but also as core partners. We “need to accelerate our transition” off fossil fuels, says Brian Deese, director of President Biden’s National Economic Council. “And that is a process that will only happen if the American private sector, including the incumbent energy producers in the United States, utilities and otherwise, are an inextricable part of that process—that’s defined our approach from the get go.” Photo illustration by C.J. Burton for TIME For some, the emergence of the private sector as a key collaborator in efforts to tackle climate change is an indication of the power of capitalism to tackle societal challenges; for others it’s a sign of capitalism’s corruption of public institutions. In the three decades since the climate crisis became part of the global agenda, scientists, activists, and politicians have largely assumed that government would need to dictate the terms of the transition. But around the world, legislative attempts to tackle climate change have repeatedly failed. Meanwhile, investors and corporate executives have become more aware of the threat climate change poses to their business and open to working to address its causes. Those developments have laid the foundation for a new approach to climate action: government and nonprofits partnering with the private sector to do more—a new structure that carries both enormous opportunity and enormous risk. Read More: This Mining Executive Is Fighting Her Own Industry to Protect the Environment Just 100 global companies were responsible for 71% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions over the past three decades, according to data from CDP, a nonprofit that tracks climate disclosure, and pushing the private sector to step up is already showing dividends. Last fall, more than 1,000 companies collectively worth some $23 trillion set emissions-reduction goals that line up with the Paris Agreement. “We are in the early stages of a sustainability revolution that has the magnitude and scale of the Industrial Revolution,” says Al Gore, the former U.S. Vice President who won the Nobel Peace Prize for his work on climate change. “In every sector of the economy, companies are competing vigorously to eliminate unnecessary waste to become radically more energy efficient, and focus on the sharp reduction of their emissions.” Despite that momentum, risks abound. Companies have an incentive to make big commitments, but they need a credible system to set the rules of the road and ensure that those pledges can be scrutinized. Even then, corporate progress is unlikely to add up to enough without clear policy that incentivizes good behavior and/or punishes bad behavior. “To catalyze business, we need governments to lead and set strong policies,” says Lisa Jackson, vice president of environment, policy and social initiatives at Apple and a former head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. “That’s just what the science says.” Nor are companies built to address the array of social challenges—millions displaced, millions more with livelihoods destroyed, the escalating health ailments—that will arise from climate change and the transition needed to address it. “The private sector has been surprisingly aggressive on climate in the last 12 months,” says Michael Greenstone, former chief economist in Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers. “But that is a very misshapen approach: there’s no real substitute for a coherent climate policy.” It’s increasingly hard to imagine how we find such a policy in time. In February, the IPCC, the U.N.’s climate science body, warned of a “rapidly closing window of opportunity to secure a livable and sustainable future.” Emissions need to peak by 2025 in order to have a decent chance of limiting warming to 1.5°C. In a landmark report outlining the possible levers to cut global emissions, the IPCC found that private sector initiatives, if followed through, could make a “significant” contribution to that goal. The group assessed the impact of 10 private sector initiatives, and found they could result in a total of 26 gigatonnes in reduced or avoided emissions by 2030—equivalent to more than five years of U.S. carbon pollution. How this partnership between government and industry plays out will shape not just the trajectory of emissions over the coming years and decades but also the future of democratic governance and how society will manage the now inevitable social disruption that will result from climate change. To understand how we got here, it’s helpful to look back to a remarkable coincidence of history. Climate change entered public consciousness at the same time that, in the U.S., the zeitgeist turned against government’s playing a robust role in society. In 1988, when then NASA scientist James Hansen offered his now famous warning that the planet was already warming as a result of human activity, and TIME soon after named the “Endangered Earth” as “Planet of the Year,” American voters had spent eight years hearing President Ronald Reagan tell them that government lay at the root of society’s problems. So it’s perhaps no wonder that in the decades that followed, government attempts to tackle a new problem, unprecedented in scope and scale, encountered roadblocks. That effort began in earnest in 1992 as heads of government from around the world gathered in Rio de Janeiro to inaugurate a new U.N. framework to address climate change. Every year since, with the pandemic-related exception of 2020, countries have met to hash out solutions to the problem. But, in the first two decades of talks, a comprehensive solution failed to break through. In the U.S., the lagging climate policy can in large part be attributed to the then pervasive free-market ideology, which dictated that businesses exist to make a profit. From the 1990s, and into the new century, fossil-fuel companies as well as heavy industry spent millions denying the existence of the problem and funding organizations that opposed climate rules. Other firms remained on the sidelines of an issue that seemed unrelated to their core business. The results in the political arena were clear. President Bill Clinton tried to pass an energy tax in Congress, but a concerted lobbying effort from manufacturers and the energy industry doomed the plan. George W. Bush publicly questioned the science of climate change and appointed executives from the oil and gas industry into senior positions in his Administration. Barack Obama pursued comprehensive climate legislation that would have capped companies’ emissions in 2009; the legislation failed to make it to the floor of the Senate after a prominent group of businesses condemned it. Christophe Archambault—Pool/ReutersThe launch of a key climate coalition for businesses in 2017 with Bill Gates, Michael Bloomberg, and others But around that time, many business leaders began to feel pressure to do something on climate for the first time. Prioritizing environmental, social, and corporate governance concerns in investing, or ESG for short, had risen from a niche idea in the early 1990s to a mainstream approach to investment two decades later. At that point, a growing flow of reports from financial institutions warned of the economic consequences of inaction. And key voices in the business community—from Michael Bloomberg to Bill Gates—took the message on the road, telling CEOs to take climate change seriously. From 2012 to 2014, the value of investment in the U.S. earmarked for sustainable funds that took into account ESG issues close to doubled, to nearly $7 trillion, according to data from the U.S. SIF Foundation, a nonprofit that advocates for sustainable investment strategies. To foster this momentum, government leaders sought to bring business into the policymaking conversation. Their goal was to create what is often referred to as a virtuous cycle: if they could get commitments from the private sector on climate issues, they argued, it would, theoretically, push government to do more, which in turn would push companies to double down. In 2015, that approach was put into practice as a group of business leaders showed up in Paris to talk with government officials. The result: CEOs declared their commitment to reducing emissions, and the final text of the Paris Agreement created a formalized framework for involving private companies in the official U.N. process. Just a year later, the U.S. elected Donald Trump as President and began to unravel the country’s environmental rules. Five months into office, he announced that he would take the U.S. out of the Paris Agreement. Within hours, 20 Fortune 500 companies declared that they were “still in” the global climate deal and would cut their emissions in hopes of keeping the U.S. on track. By the time Trump left office, more than 2,300 American companies had joined the coalition. For many pushing climate action, working with the private sector became the best path forward. “More and more power is distributed in societies,” Antonio Guterres, the U.N. Secretary-General, told me in 2019, explaining his extensive outreach to the business community on climate. “If you want to achieve results, you need to mobilize those that have an influence in the way decisions are made.” The most important private-sector push came from the institutional investors at the center of the global economy, who control trillions of dollars in assets and are invested in every sector and essentially every publicly traded firm. When you own a little bit of everything, the scenarios portending climate-driven economic decline are terrifying. “We’re too big to just take all of our hundreds of billions, and try to find a nice safe place for that money,” Anne Simpson, then-director of board governance and sustainability at CalPERS, California’s $500 billion state pension fund, told me in 2019. “We’re exposed to these systemic risks, so we have to fix things.” With the U.S. government on the sidelines, these investors joined together to send a signal. When French President Emmanuel Macron hosted a climate summit in Paris in December 2017, he brought together a group of investors controlling $68 trillion in assets to launch Climate Action 100+. In the beginning, this consortium used their status as high-profile investors to push emissions reductions in 100 publicly traded companies through one-on-one engagements with high-level executives. “All of this made for a reorganization of the politics of climate,” says Laurence Tubiana, a key framer of the Paris Agreement who now heads the European Climate Foundation. “It has now crystallized into something new: a strong coalition between business, financial institutions, investors, and governments.” All these threads came to a head last year in Glasgow at the U.N. climate conference. Walking around the Scottish Events Center last November, it would have been easy to forget that the conference was ostensibly for government officials. An attendee could easily spot, among the 40,000 attendees, high-profile business leaders mingling in the hallway. And by many accounts, the most significant news involved the private sector. Six major automakers joined with national governments to declare that they would produce 100% zero-emissions passenger vehicles no later than 2035. A group of financial institutions representing $130 trillion in assets committed to aligning its investments and operations with the Paris Agreement. What sort of emissions reduction does this all add up to? The truth is no one really knows. An analysis of more than 300 member companies of the Science Based Targets initiative, a leading voluntary program for corporations to set emissions reduction targets in line with the Paris Agreement, found that, on average, each company succeeded in reducing their direct emissions annually by more than 6% between 2015 and 2019. But the global framework for emissions reduction centers on country-level commitments, and in its most recent report, the IPCC noted the ability to track corporate progress separate from national-level commitments remains “limited.” The multilateral system for addressing climate change inaugurated in Rio, created by government for government, has evolved into something else. And, in the assessment of many activists, the result has left out concerns about justice in the transition. In Glasgow, activists and civil-society groups complained about being excluded from negotiating rooms while business leaders were ushered onstage. “It now looks more like a trade summit, rather than a climate convention,” says Asad Rehman, who organized for the COP26 Coalition, a climate-justice group. These activists worry about what the resulting government decisions look like when they’re made hand in hand with businesses. “The very people who created this crisis are now positioning themselves as the people who will solve it,” says Rehman. “The decisions being made seem very much to be locking us into a particular approach to solve the crisis—and, of course, that approach is not necessarily in the best interest of the people.” Last December, just a few weeks after returning to the U.S. from Glasgow, I caught a flight from Chicago to Washington, D.C., on what United Airlines billed as the first flight operated with an engine running on only a lower-carbon alternative to jet fuel. As we approached Reagan Airport, Scott Kirby, the airline’s CEO, told me about the coalition—including companies like Deloitte, HP, and Microsoft—he has formed to help bring the fuel to market. “This is not just about United Airlines; this is about building a new industry,” Kirby told me. “To do that, we’ve got to have a lot of airlines participate, we’ve got to have partners participate… and we’ve got to have government participate.” Kirby had chosen Washington as the destination for this flight for a reason: to truly deploy the technology would require some help from the U.S. government. The Biden Administration has been eager to serve as a partner, proposing a tax credit for sustainable aviation fuel and using the bully pulpit to tout United’s work—and aviation is just the tip of the iceberg. The administration has sought to partner on climate with companies across the country and across industries. It almost goes without saying that Biden has been the most aggressive U.S. president yet on the climate issue. His administration has introduced or tightened more than 100 environmental regulations; worked with activists to address the inequalities worsened by climate change; and put climate at the center of “Build Back Better,” its signature $2 trillion spending package that failed to pass Congress last year. He has worked with activists to address the inequalities worsened by climate change. But engagement with the private sector offers a different avenue to push for emissions reduction, and, administration officials say, it has been a key part of his climate strategy. “That’s him availing every tool he’s got,” says Ali Zaidi, Biden’s Deputy National Climate Advisor, of Biden’s private sector engagement. “One of those superpowers that he has is the ability to meet people where they are and bring them along.” Jeff J Mitchell—Getty ImagesGreenpeace activists protest corporate involvement at the COP26 U.N. climate talks, in November 2021 That approach is also based in a sense of realism: the technologies we need to cut emissions over the next decade exist today and any reasonable consideration of how the world can cut carbon emissions means deploying those technologies as quickly as possible—largely by getting companies to adopt them. We need “to take the technology that DOE has spent so many years working on and actually get it in the hands of consumers,” says Jigar Shah, who runs the department’s Loan Program Office. I met Shah, who previously ran a clean energy investment fund, in a small conference room in Houston where he had been taking meetings with a range of companies to convince them to do business with his agency—and more broadly the federal government. Shah has $40 billion at his disposal to invest in promising companies and projects. The idea, he says, is if business and government work together, they can move quickly to build a low-carbon economy by restoring the country’s ability to do big things. “We actually haven’t done these big things for 30 years,” he says. “America truly has sort of lost this general understanding of, like, how does an airport add a runway? How does a road get widened? Who makes the decision on upgrading our wastewater treatment plant?” The business-oriented approach to climate change permeates the Biden Administration. Last September, I watched in the back of the room in Geneva as John Kerry, Biden’s Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, pitched the Administration’s approach to CEOs of some of the world’s biggest companies, presenting more than 30 slides detailing a new government program to catalyze production of clean technologies, in sectors ranging from air travel to steel manufacturing. Instead of government mandates, Kerry proposed that companies themselves take the lead by making deals to purchase clean technology. “Because we’re behind, we have got to find ways to step up,” he told the gathered CEOs. Read More: Biden Wants an American Solar Industry. But It Could Come at an Emissions Cost Kerry’s approach echoes the realism of the Biden Administration’s. The truth is that in 2022 Big Business has the power to influence—and halt—much of what the government does. “I’m convinced, unless the private sector buys into this, there won’t be a sufficient public-sector path created, because the private sector has the power to prevent that,” Kerry told me in September. “The private sector has enormous power. And our tax code reflects that in this country. And what we need is our environmental policy to reflect the reality.” It makes sense then that from the outset the Biden Administration’s climate-spending plan has focused primarily on carrots rather than sticks. That is, it included a laundry list of rewards for companies doing positive things—namely tax credits for clean energy and subsidies for technologies like electric vehicles. Meanwhile, the two key policies that would have penalized businesses for their emissions—a fee for methane emissions and a tax when power companies failed to meet emissions-reductions targets—were abandoned after industry pushback. Despite those concessions, the most influential trade groups that lobby in Washington on behalf of big businesses still refused to back the overall legislation—because it required an increase in corporate taxes. It’s a reality that climate advocates readily decry as hypocrisy, and an indicator that business isn’t serious about climate change. In the coming weeks, as negotiations for a revamped climate-spending bill accelerate, businesses will have another chance to show they are serious about climate policy. It brings to mind a key moment in a panel I moderated in April last year with Granholm, and a handful of top corporate executives’ work to reduce their companies’ emissions. “You are visionaries and you are leading, and there’s so many thousands of other businesses that can learn from your example, and there are a lot of members of Congress that could learn from your words. And it’s not to get political, but sometimes folks just need to hear,” she told them. “To the extent you can, we’d be really grateful because we feel like our hair is on fire.” They can still help, but the clock is ticking. Even before Joe Biden took office, the American auto industry had begun to adopt the President-elect’s ambition of a rapid transition to electric vehicles. Within weeks of the election, GM dropped a lawsuit that sought to block more stringent fuel-economy standards. Two months later, it said it would go all electric by 2035. Meanwhile, Biden committed to a federal-government purchase of hundreds of thousands of electric vehicles. Since then, the U.S. auto industry has become an electric-vehicle arms race, with companies left and right announcing new capital expenditures to advance the national electric-vehicle fleet. GM says it will spend $35 billion in the effort over the next few years. Ford says it’s spending $50 billion. “The biggest thing that’s happening here is there’s a realization, on the part of both labor and business now, that this is the future,” Joe Biden said as he stood with auto industry executives, union leaders and administration officials on the White House lawn last August. Last year, I traveled to Ohio and Tennessee to see firsthand how the pressing questions about this transformation were playing out on the ground in the cities and towns that have relied on the auto industry for decades. In conversations with workers and local officials, I could sense excitement, but also consternation. Building an electric vehicle requires less labor than does its old-fashioned counterpart, and there’s no guarantee that new jobs created will be covered with a union. “There’s just going to be a lot less people building cars,” Dave Green, a GM assembly worker who previously led a local UAW branch in Ohio, told me at the time. The green transition will also displace oil, gas, and coal workers. Entire cities in flood and fire zones will be dislocated. Diseases will spread more quickly. How will society manage such problems, accounting for a diverse array of interests, without a comprehensive, government-led approach to the transition? Not well, if past transitions are any indicator. Inequality soared during the Industrial Revolution, and the U.S. is still dealing with the economic fallout of globalization in the 2000s, when many blue collar jobs were outsourced. To make up for the slow pace of government policy to guarantee an equitable transition, many activists have set their sights on influencing corporations directly. In 2019, for example, hundreds of Amazon employees walked out of work, insisting that the company do more to address climate change. Across a range of industries, corporate leaders now say that climate change is a top concern for recruits. Consumers, too, have begun to push companies to change, largely through the power of their dollars, by refusing to buy from companies with poor labor and environmental practices. “It’s not perfect,” says Michael Vandenbergh, a law professor at Vanderbilt University Law School who served as chief of staff at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under Clinton. But “it will buy us time until the public demands that government actually overcome some of the democracy deficits that we face.” As challenging as it may be in these polarizing times, overcoming that democracy deficit is necessary, not just to accelerate the transition away from fossil fuels but also to protect those most vulnerable to the effects of climate change and to the necessary changes ahead. It’s for that reason that the upswing in climate-activist movements—from the youth’s marching for a Green New Deal to the union members’ joining with climate activists to push for a just transition—matters beyond any policy platform. Climate change will reshape the lives of people everywhere. A truly just transition will require people to engage in the fight to fix it. —With reporting by Nik Popli and Julia Zorthian......»»

Category: topSource: timeApr 14th, 2022

2022 is shaping up to be a legal nightmare for Trumpworld. Here"s a timeline of upcoming court cases and legal obstacles.

Donald Trump and his allies are bracing for a flurry of legal challenges this year. Here are the big cases to put on your radar. Political consultant Roger Stone, former President Donald Trump, and Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida.Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images; Scott Olson/Getty Images; Greg Nash-Pool/Getty Images Donald Trump and his allies are facing a flurry of legal challenges this year. Investigations into his company's finances are ongoing, along with others related to January 6. Here are the dates to watch out for this year. Former President Donald Trump has had a number of surprising legal victories ever since he left the White House — though his greatest potential battles are still looming.In November, Summer Zervos, who had accused Trump of sexual assault following her appearance on "The Apprentice," dropped her lawsuit against him before he was forced to sit for a deposition. At around the same time, a New York state judge dismissed a lawsuit from Michael Cohen seeking to have the Trump Organization reimburse his legal fees for work he did on Trump's behalf.But greater dangers loom. The Trump Organization is the subject of a sprawling investigation from the Manhattan district attorney's office and the New York attorney general's office into alleged financial misconduct.In Atlanta, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis is weighing charges over his conduct in the 2020 election. Those investigations are proceeding as the Justice Department comes up on the five-year deadline to prosecute Trump over acts of possible obstruction that former Special Counsel Robert Mueller III scrutinized as part of his investigation into Russia's interference in the 2016 election.Meanwhile, the Biden administration is sending a steady stream of Trump's White House records to the House committee investigating the January 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol. And Trump — along with many of his allies — face federal investigations and lawsuits stemming from the January 6 insurrection. Expect the judges in those cases to set court dates later this year.While Trump mulls whether to run for president again in 2024, 2022 is shaping up to be a year of legal headaches for the former president and his associates. Here's a timeline of the threats Trumpworld faces.AprilFormer President Donald Trump arrives at Trump Tower in Manhattan on August 22, 2021, in New York City.James Devaney/GC ImagesApril 15 — The Trump Organization is required to meet this deadline to hand over a batch of outstanding discovery documents to the New York Attorney General's office for its investigation into potential financial misconduct.April 20 — For the same case brought by the New York Attorney General's office, the Trump Organization needs to give the judge a progress report on how it's complying with subpoenas for other documents.April 25 — Judge Arthur Engoron, who's overseeing the subpoena case between the New York Attorney General's office and Trump's company, is scheduled to hold a hearing to make sure all his orders have been complied with.MayFlorida Rep. Matt GaetzGettyMay 2 — Jury selection is scheduled to begin in a trial regarding a civil lawsuit brought by a group of protesters against the Trump Organization. The protesters sued in 2015, alleging the company's security guards roughed them up during a demonstration outside Trump Tower. A video of a deposition Trump was forced to take this past fall is expected to be shown at the trial as evidence.May 2 — A special grand jury for Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis' investigation into Trump will be empaneled on May 2 and continue for up to 12 months. This announcement on Monday comes after Willis formally requested to have a special grand jury that would give her the subpoena power to obtain documents and compel witnesses to testify.May 6 — Federal prosecutors need to meet this deadline to respond to Stephen Bannon's motion to dismiss the charges against him for refusing to comply with subpoenas from the House of Representatives January 6 Committee. After allowing Bannon to respond, the judge is expected to rule whether the charges can stick and when to set a trial.May 10 — Trump's eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., is scheduled to give a deposition for a lawsuit brought by a group of people who say the Trump Organization pushed an alleged pyramid scheme.May 12 — Eric Trump is scheduled to give his own deposition for the same lawsuit. Ivanka Trump will also be required to testify, though her deposition date hasn't yet been finalized. Their father is set to testify the following month.May 13 — A federal judge has ordered the government to provide a status report on the cooperation of Joel Greenberg, a former Gaetz associate who has pleaded guilty to federal sex trafficking charges.Greenberg could potentially be a key witness in the Justice Department investigation into Gaetz, one of Trump's most loyal supporters. He'd been scheduled to be sentenced in March but his attorney requested a delay while his client continues to answer federal investigators' questions.May 20 — The Manhattan District Attorney's office has until this date to respond to motions from the Trump Organization and Allen Weisselberg to dismiss the criminal charges against them. It'll be an opportunity to lay down any new evidence they've gathered since filing the indictment last July, as well as to dispel reports that the investigation is faltering.JuneFulton County District Attorney Fani Willis walks past boxes of criminal case files at her office in Atlanta on Feb. 24, 2021.AP Photo/John BazemoreJune — Willis told the Associated Press in January that she is expecting to decide whether to charge Trump in Fulton County, Georgia, by the first half of 2022.June 16 — Two days after his birthday, Trump is scheduled to sit for his deposition in the lawsuit brought by plaintiffs alleging the Trump Organization pushed a pyramid scheme. As Insider's Yelena Dzhanova reported, they sued after saying they lost thousands of dollars from joining a company called ACN and trying to sell its telephones with video capabilities.June 29 — Litigants will get to see a copy of Trump's "Celebrity Apprentice" tapes. June 29 marks the deadline of discovery for the ACN case. While Trump, in "Celebrity Apprentice," vouched for the ACN Videophone, litigants are trying to figure out if other footage shot for the show demonstrated otherwise. ACN lost an attempt to bring the case to arbitration, and a jury trial is expected to be scheduled for late 2022 or 2023.JulySteve Bannon speaks to the press on his way out of federal court in Washington, D.C., on November 15, 2021.Drew Angerer/Getty Images)July 7 — Prosecutors and Roger Stone, one of Trump's longtime political advisors, have to meet this deadline for a civil case in which the US Attorney's Office in Florida alleged Stone failed to pay $2 million in unpaid taxes, interest, and penalties.July 12 — The New York State Supreme Court will hold a hearing in the Manhattan District Attorney's criminal case against the Trump Organization and its CFO Allen Weisselberg, who's become more marginalized within the company following the indictment from last July.The status conference is expected to update the public on how Trump Organization lawyers are reviewing the 6 million pages of discovery material for the case, in which the Manhattan District Attorney's office alleges the company and executive dodged millions of dollars in taxes. The judge has also signaled he wants to hold a trial before the end of 2022.July 18 — Steve Bannon, the former White House chief strategist, is expected to go on trial in Washington, D.C. Bannon is facing two criminal charges over defying a congressional subpoena. The Justice Department formally charged him in November 2021 after he refused to comply with a subpoena handed down from the House Select Committee that is investigating the January 6 riot.SeptemberThomas Barrack.Alex Wong/Getty ImagesSeptember 7 — Tom Barrack, the chairman of Trump's 2017 inaugural committee, is set to stand trial in September on charges he secretly acted as an agent of the United Arab Emirates.Barrack was charged in July with using his access to Trump to advance the United Arab Emirates' foreign-policy goals and later misleading federal investigators about his activities in a 2019 interview. The indictment of the top Trump fundraiser marked an escalation of the Justice Department's crackdown in recent years on covert foreign influence.Barrack's legal team is headlined by Daniel Petrocelli, a partner at the law firm O'Melveny & Myers who previously represented Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling and, more recently, defended AT&T's acquisition of Time Warner Inc. against a Justice Department antitrust challenge.September 26 — The Trump Organization and Donald Trump's 2016 inaugural fund are expected to go to trial for a lawsuit brought by Washington, D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine alleging they misused nonprofit funds. A precise trial date has not been set.In November, Trump notched a partial win when the judge dismissed part of the suit, but other elements of the case — such as the attorney general's claim that the committee illegally misused funds — will be moving forward. But on February 15, another judge reversed that decision, reinstating the Trump Organization as a defendant.NovemberTrump ally Roger Stone is auctioning off a non-fungible token of an autograph addressed to him by former President Donald Trump.Stone Cold Collection/Roger StoneNovember 7 — Trump's longtime political advisor Roger Stone is scheduled to go to trial in federal court in Florida over allegations that he failed to pay $2 million in taxes, as well as interest and penalties for the unpaid sum. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytApr 11th, 2022

The Anatomy Of Big Pharma"s Political Reach

The Anatomy Of Big Pharma's Political Reach Authored by Rebecca Strong via Medium.com, They keep telling us to “trust the science.” But who paid for it? After graduating from Columbia University with a chemical engineering degree, my grandfather went on to work for Pfizer for almost two decades, culminating his career as the company’s Global Director of New Products. I was rather proud of this fact growing up — it felt as if this father figure, who raised me for several years during my childhood, had somehow played a role in saving lives. But in recent years, my perspective on Pfizer — and other companies in its class — has shifted. Blame it on the insidious big pharma corruption laid bare by whistleblowers in recent years. Blame it on the endless string of big pharma lawsuits revealing fraud, deception, and cover-ups. Blame it on the fact that I witnessed some of their most profitable drugs ruin the lives of those I love most. All I know is, that pride I once felt has been overshadowed by a sticky skepticism I just can’t seem to shake. In 1973, my grandpa and his colleagues celebrated as Pfizer crossed a milestone: the one-billion-dollar sales mark. These days, Pfizer rakes in $81 billion a year, making it the 28th most valuable company in the world. Johnson & Johnson ranks 15th, with $93.77 billion. To put things into perspective, that makes said companies wealthier than most countries in the world. And thanks to those astronomical profit margins, the Pharmaceuticals and Health Products industry is able to spend more on lobbying than any other industry in America. While big pharma lobbying can take several different forms, these companies tend to target their contributions to senior legislators in Congress — you know, the ones they need to keep in their corner, because they have the power to draft healthcare laws. Pfizer has outspent its peers in six of the last eight election cycles, coughing up almost $9.7 million. During the 2016 election, pharmaceutical companies gave more than $7 million to 97 senators at an average of $75,000 per member. They also contributed $6.3 million to president Joe Biden’s 2020 campaign. The question is: what did big pharma get in return? When you've got 1,500 Big Pharma lobbyists on Capitol Hill for 535 members of Congress, it's not too hard to figure out why prescription drug prices in this country are, on average, 256% HIGHER than in other major countries. — Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) February 3, 2022 ALEC’s Off-the-Record Sway To truly grasp big pharma’s power, you need to understand how The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) works. ALEC, which was founded in 1973 by conservative activists working on Ronald Reagan’s campaign, is a super secretive pay-to-play operation where corporate lobbyists — including in the pharma sector — hold confidential meetings about “model” bills. A large portion of these bills is eventually approved and become law. A rundown of ALEC’s greatest hits will tell you everything you need to know about the council’s motives and priorities. In 1995, ALEC promoted a bill that restricts consumers’ rights to sue for damages resulting from taking a particular medication. They also endorsed the Statute of Limitation Reduction Act, which put a time limit on when someone could sue after a medication-induced injury or death. Over the years, ALEC has promoted many other pharma-friendly bills that would: weaken FDA oversight of new drugs and therapies, limit FDA authority over drug advertising, and oppose regulations on financial incentives for doctors to prescribe specific drugs. But what makes these ALEC collaborations feel particularly problematic is that there’s little transparency — all of this happens behind closed doors. Congressional leaders and other committee members involved in ALEC aren’t required to publish any records of their meetings and other communications with pharma lobbyists, and the roster of ALEC members is completely confidential. All we know is that in 2020, more than two-thirds of Congress — 72 senators and 302 House of Representatives members — cashed a campaign check from a pharma company. Big Pharma Funding Research The public typically relies on an endorsement from government agencies to help them decide whether or not a new drug, vaccine, or medical device is safe and effective. And those agencies, like the FDA, count on clinical research. As already established, big pharma is notorious for getting its hooks into influential government officials. Here’s another sobering truth: The majority of scientific research is paid for by — wait for it — the pharmaceutical companies. When the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) published 73 studies of new drugs over the course of a single year, they found that a staggering 82% of them had been funded by the pharmaceutical company selling the product, 68% had authors who were employees of that company, and 50% had lead researchers who accepted money from a drug company. According to 2013 research conducted at the University of Arizona College of Law, even when pharma companies aren’t directly funding the research, company stockholders, consultants, directors, and officers are almost always involved in conducting them. A 2017 report by the peer-reviewed journal The BMJ also showed that about half of medical journal editors receive payments from drug companies, with the average payment per editor hovering around $28,000. But these statistics are only accurate if researchers and editors are transparent about payments from pharma. And a 2022 investigative analysis of two of the most influential medical journals found that 81% of study authors failed to disclose millions in payments from drug companies, as they’re required to do. Unfortunately, this trend shows no sign of slowing down. The number of clinical trials funded by the pharmaceutical industry has been climbing every year since 2006, according to a John Hopkins University report, while independent studies have been harder to find. And there are some serious consequences to these conflicts of interest. Take Avandia, for instance, a diabetes drug produced by GlaxoSmithCline (GSK). Avandia was eventually linked to a dramatically increased risk of heart attacks and heart failure. And a BMJ report revealed that almost 90% of scientists who initially wrote glowing articles about Avandia had financial ties to GSK. But here’s the unnerving part: if the pharmaceutical industry is successfully biasing the science, then that means the physicians who rely on the science are biased in their prescribing decisions. Photo credit: UN Women Europe & Central Asia Where the lines get really blurry is with “ghostwriting.” Big pharma execs know citizens are way more likely to trust a report written by a board-certified doctor than one of their representatives. That’s why they pay physicians to list their names as authors — even though the MDs had little to no involvement in the research, and the report was actually written by the drug company. This practice started in the ’50s and ’60s when tobacco execs were clamoring to prove that cigarettes didn’t cause cancer (spoiler alert: they do!), so they commissioned doctors to slap their name on papers undermining the risks of smoking. It’s still a pretty common tactic today: more than one in 10 articles published in the NEJM was co-written by a ghostwriter. While a very small percentage of medical journals have clear policies against ghostwriting, it’s still technically legal —despite the fact that the consequences can be deadly. Case in point: in the late ’90s and early 2000s, Merck paid for 73 ghostwritten articles to play up the benefits of its arthritis drug Vioxx. It was later revealed that Merck failed to report all of the heart attacks experienced by trial participants. In fact, a study published in the NEJM revealed that an estimated 160,000 Americans experienced heart attacks or strokes from taking Vioxx. That research was conducted by Dr. David Graham, Associate Director of the FDA’s Office of Drug Safety, who understandably concluded the drug was not safe. But the FDA’s Office of New Drugs, which not only was responsible for initially approving Vioxx but also regulating it, tried to sweep his findings under the rug. "I was pressured to change my conclusions and recommendations, and basically threatened that if I did not change them, I would not be permitted to present the paper at the conference," he wrote in his 2004 U.S. Senate testimony on Vioxx. "One Drug Safety manager recommended that I should be barred from presenting the poster at the meeting." Eventually, the FDA issued a public health advisory about Vioxx and Merck withdrew this product. But it was a little late for repercussions — 38,000 of those Vioxx-takers who suffered heart attacks had already died. Graham called this a “profound regulatory failure,” adding that scientific standards the FDA apply to drug safety “guarantee that unsafe and deadly drugs will remain on the U.S. market.” This should come as no surprise, but research has also repeatedly shown that a paper written by a pharmaceutical company is more likely to emphasize the benefits of a drug, vaccine, or device while downplaying the dangers. (If you want to understand more about this practice, a former ghostwriter outlines all the ethical reasons why she quit this job in a PLOS Medicine report.) While adverse drug effects appear in 95% of clinical research, only 46% of published reports disclose them. Of course, all of this often ends up misleading doctors into thinking a drug is safer than it actually is. Big Pharma Influence On Doctors Pharmaceutical companies aren’t just paying medical journal editors and authors to make their products look good, either. There’s a long, sordid history of pharmaceutical companies incentivizing doctors to prescribe their products through financial rewards. For instance, Pfizer and AstraZeneca doled out a combined $100 million to doctors in 2018, with some earning anywhere from $6 million to $29 million in a year. And research has shown this strategy works: when doctors accept these gifts and payments, they’re significantly more likely to prescribe those companies’ drugs. Novartis comes to mind — the company famously spent over $100 million paying for doctors’ extravagant meals, golf outings, and more, all while also providing a generous kickback program that made them richer every time they prescribed certain blood pressure and diabetes meds. Side note: the Open Payments portal contains a nifty little database where you can find out if any of your own doctors received money from drug companies. Knowing that my mother was put on a laundry list of meds after a near-fatal car accident, I was curious — so I did a quick search for her providers. While her PCP only banked a modest amount from Pfizer and AstraZeneca, her previous psychiatrist — who prescribed a cocktail of contraindicated medications without treating her in person — collected quadruple-digit payments from pharmaceutical companies. And her pain care specialist, who prescribed her jaw-dropping doses of opioid pain medication for more than 20 years (far longer than the 5-day safety guideline), was raking in thousands from Purdue Pharma, AKA the opioid crisis’ kingpin. Purdue is now infamous for its wildly aggressive OxyContin campaign in the ’90s. At the time, the company billed it as a non-addictive wonder drug for pain sufferers. Internal emails show Pursue sales representatives were instructed to “sell, sell, sell” OxyContin, and the more they were able to push, the more they were rewarded with promotions and bonuses. With the stakes so high, these reps stopped at nothing to get doctors on board — even going so far as to send boxes of doughnuts spelling out “OxyContin” to unconvinced physicians. Purdue had stumbled upon the perfect system for generating tons of profit — off of other people’s pain. Documentation later proved that not only was Purdue aware it was highly addictive and that many people were abusing it, but that they also encouraged doctors to continue prescribing increasingly higher doses of it (and sent them on lavish luxury vacations for some motivation). In testimony to Congress, Purdue exec Paul Goldenheim played dumb about OxyContin addiction and overdose rates, but emails that were later exposed showed that he requested his colleagues remove all mentions of addiction from their correspondence about the drug. Even after it was proven in court that Purdue fraudulently marketed OxyContin while concealing its addictive nature, no one from the company spent a single day behind bars. Instead, the company got a slap on the wrist and a $600 million fine for a misdemeanor, the equivalent of a speeding ticket compared to the $9 billion they made off OxyContin up until 2006. Meanwhile, thanks to Purdue’s recklessness, more than 247,000 people died from prescription opioid overdoses between 1999 and 2009. And that’s not even factoring in all the people who died of heroin overdoses once OxyContin was no longer attainable to them. The NIH reports that 80% of people who use heroin started by misusing prescription opioids. Former sales rep Carol Panara told me in an interview that when she looks back on her time at Purdue, it all feels like a “bad dream.” Panara started working for Purdue in 2008, one year after the company pled guilty to “misbranding” charges for OxyContin. At this point, Purdue was “regrouping and expanding,” says Panara, and to that end, had developed a clever new approach for making money off OxyContin: sales reps were now targeting general practitioners and family doctors, rather than just pain management specialists. On top of that, Purdue soon introduced three new strengths for OxyContin: 15, 30, and 60 milligrams, creating smaller increments Panara believes were aimed at making doctors feel more comfortable increasing their patients’ dosages. According to Panara, there were internal company rankings for sales reps based on the number of prescriptions for each OxyContin dosing strength in their territory. “They were sneaky about it,” she said. “Their plan was to go in and sell these doctors on the idea of starting with 10 milligrams, which is very low, knowing full well that once they get started down that path — that’s all they need. Because eventually, they’re going to build a tolerance and need a higher dose.” Occasionally, doctors expressed concerns about a patient becoming addicted, but Purdue had already developed a way around that. Sales reps like Panara were taught to reassure those doctors that someone in pain might experience addiction-like symptoms called “pseudoaddiction,” but that didn’t mean they were truly addicted. There is no scientific evidence whatsoever to support that this concept is legit, of course. But the most disturbing part? Reps were trained to tell doctors that “pseudoaddiction” signaled the patient’s pain wasn’t being managed well enough, and the solution was simply to prescribe a higher dose of OxyContin. Panara finally quit Purdue in 2013. One of the breaking points was when two pharmacies in her territory were robbed at gunpoint specifically for OxyContin. In 2020, Purdue pled guilty to three criminal charges in an $8.3 billion deal, but the company is now under court protection after filing for bankruptcy. Despite all the damage that’s been done, the FDA’s policies for approving opioids remain essentially unchanged. Photo credit: Jennifer Durban Purdue probably wouldn’t have been able to pull this off if it weren’t for an FDA examiner named Curtis Wright, and his assistant Douglas Kramer. While Purdue was pursuing Wright’s stamp of approval on OxyContin, Wright took an outright sketchy approach to their application, instructing the company to mail documents to his home office rather than the FDA, and enlisting Purdue employees to help him review trials about the safety of the drug. The Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act requires that the FDA have access to at least two randomized controlled trials before deeming a drug as safe and effective, but in the case of OxyContin, it got approved with data from just one measly two-week study — in osteoarthritis patients, no less. When both Wright and Kramer left the FDA, they went on to work for none other than (drumroll, please) Purdue, with Wright earning three times his FDA salary. By the way — this is just one example of the FDA’s notoriously incestuous relationship with big pharma, often referred to as “the revolving door”. In fact, a 2018 Science report revealed that 11 out of 16 FDA reviewers ended up at the same companies they had been regulating products for. While doing an independent investigation, “Empire of Pain” author and New Yorker columnist Patrick Radden Keefe tried to gain access to documentation of Wright’s communications with Purdue during the OxyContin approval process. “The FDA came back and said, ‘Oh, it’s the weirdest thing, but we don’t have anything. It’s all either been lost or destroyed,’” Keefe told Fortune in an interview. “But it’s not just the FDA. It’s Congress, it’s the Department of Justice, it’s big parts of the medical establishment … the sheer amount of money involved, I think, has meant that a lot of the checks that should be in place in society to not just achieve justice, but also to protect us as consumers, were not there because they had been co-opted.” Big pharma may be to blame for creating the opioids that caused this public health catastrophe, but the FDA deserves just as much scrutiny — because its countless failures also played a part in enabling it. And many of those more recent fails happened under the supervision of Dr. Janet Woodcock. Woodcock was named FDA’s acting commissioner mere hours after Joe Biden was inaugurated as president. She would have been a logical choice, being an FDA vet of 35 years, but then again it’s impossible to forget that she played a starring role in the FDA’s perpetuating the opioid epidemic. She’s also known for overruling her own scientific advisors when they vote against approving a drug. Not only did Woodcock approve OxyContin for children as young as 11 years old, but she also gave the green light to several other highly controversial extended-release opioid pain drugs without sufficient evidence of safety or efficacy. One of those was Zohydro: in 2011, the FDA’s advisory committee voted 11:2 against approving it due to safety concerns about inappropriate use, but Woodcock went ahead and pushed it through, anyway. Under Woodcock’s supervision, the FDA also approved Opana, which is twice as powerful as OxyContin — only to then beg the drug maker to take it off the market 10 years later due to “abuse and manipulation.” And then there was Dsuvia, a potent painkiller 1,000 times stronger than morphine and 10 times more powerful than fentanyl. According to a head of one of the FDA’s advisory committees, the U.S. military had helped to develop this particular drug, and Woodcock said there was “pressure from the Pentagon” to push it through approvals. The FBI, members of congress, public health advocates, and patient safety experts alike called this decision into question, pointing out that with hundreds of opioids already on the market there’s no need for another — particularly one that comes with such high risks. Most recently, Woodcock served as the therapeutics lead for Operation Warp Speed, overseeing COVID-19 vaccine development. Big Pharma Lawsuits, Scandals, and Cover-Ups While the OxyContin craze is undoubtedly one of the highest-profile examples of big pharma’s deception, there are dozens of other stories like this. Here are a few standouts: In the 1980s, Bayer continued selling blood clotting products to third-world countries even though they were fully aware those products had been contaminated with HIV. The reason? The “financial investment in the product was considered too high to destroy the inventory.” Predictably, about 20,000 of the hemophiliacs who were infused with these tainted products then tested positive for HIV and eventually developed AIDS, and many later died of it. In 2004, Johnson & Johnson was slapped with a series of lawsuits for illegally promoting off-label use of their heartburn drug Propulsid for children despite internal company emails confirming major safety concerns (as in, deaths during the drug trials). Documentation from the lawsuits showed that dozens of studies sponsored by Johnson & Johnson highlighting the risks of this drug were never published. The FDA estimates that GSK’s Avandia caused 83,000 heart attacks between 1999 and 2007. Internal documents from GSK prove that when they began studying the effects of the drug as early as 1999, they discovered it caused a higher risk of heart attacks than a similar drug it was meant to replace. Rather than publish these findings, they spent a decade illegally concealing them (and meanwhile, banking $3.2 billion annually for this drug by 2006). Finally, a 2007 New England Journal of Medicine study linked Avandia to a 43% increased risk of heart attacks, and a 64% increased risk of death from heart disease. Avandia is still FDA approved and available in the U.S. In 2009, Pfizer was forced to pay $2.3 billion, the largest healthcare fraud settlement in history at that time, for paying illegal kickbacks to doctors and promoting off-label uses of its drugs. Specifically, a former employee revealed that Pfizer reps were encouraged and incentivized to sell Bextra and 12 other drugs for conditions they were never FDA approved for, and at doses up to eight times what’s recommended. “I was expected to increase profits at all costs, even when sales meant endangering lives,” the whistleblower said. When it was discovered that AstraZeneca was promoting the antipsychotic medication Seroquel for uses that were not approved by the FDA as safe and effective, the company was hit with a $520 million fine in 2010. For years, AstraZeneca had been encouraging psychiatrists and other physicians to prescribe Seroquel for a vast range of seemingly unrelated off-label conditions, including Alzheimer’s disease, anger management, ADHD, dementia, post-traumatic stress disorder, and sleeplessness. AstraZeneca also violated the federal Anti-Kickback Statute by paying doctors to spread the word about these unapproved uses of Seroquel via promotional lectures and while traveling to resort locations. In 2012, GSK paid a $3 billion fine for bribing doctors by flying them and their spouses to five-star resorts, and for illegally promoting drugs for off-label uses. What’s worse — GSK withheld clinical trial results that showed its antidepressant Paxil not only doesn’t work for adolescents and children but more alarmingly, that it can increase the likelihood of suicidal thoughts in this group. A 1998 GSK internal memo revealed that the company intentionally concealed this data to minimize any “potential negative commercial impact.” In 2021, an ex-AstraZeneca sales rep sued her former employer, claiming they fired her for refusing to promote drugs for uses that weren’t FDA-approved. The employee alleges that on multiple occasions, she expressed concerns to her boss about “misleading” information that didn’t have enough support from medical research, and off-label promotions of certain drugs. Her supervisor reportedly not only ignored these concerns but pressured her to approve statements she didn’t agree with and threatened to remove her from regional and national positions if she didn’t comply. According to the plaintiff, she missed out on a raise and a bonus because she refused to break the law. At the top of 2022, a panel of the D.C. Court of Appeals reinstated a lawsuit against Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, Roche, and GE Healthcare, which claims they helped finance terrorist attacks against U.S. service members and other Americans in Iraq. The suit alleges that from 2005–2011, these companies regularly offered bribes (including free drugs and medical devices) totaling millions of dollars annually to Iraq’s Ministry of Health in order to secure drug contracts. These corrupt payments then allegedly funded weapons and training for the Mahdi Army, which until 2008, was largely considered one of the most dangerous groups in Iraq. Another especially worrisome factor is that pharmaceutical companies are conducting an ever-increasing number of clinical trials in third-world countries, where people may be less educated, and there are also far fewer safety regulations. Pfizer’s 1996 experimental trials with Trovan on Nigerian children with meningitis — without informed consent — is just one nauseating example. When a former medical director in Pfizer’s central research division warned the company both before and after the study that their methods in this trial were “improper and unsafe,” he was promptly fired. Families of the Nigerian children who died or were left blind, brain damaged, or paralyzed after the study sued Pfizer, and the company ultimately settled out of court. In 1998, the FDA approved Trovan only for adults. The drug was later banned from European markets due to reports of fatal liver disease and restricted to strictly emergency care in the U.S. Pfizer still denies any wrongdoing. “Nurse prepares to vaccinate children” by World Bank Photo Collection is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 But all that is just the tip of the iceberg. If you’d like to dive a little further down the rabbit hole — and I’ll warn you, it’s a deep one — a quick Google search for “big pharma lawsuits” will reveal the industry’s dark track record of bribery, dishonesty, and fraud. In fact, big pharma happens to be the biggest defrauder of the federal government when it comes to the False Claims Act, otherwise known as the “Lincoln Law.” During our interview, Panara told me she has friends still working for big pharma who would be willing to speak out about crooked activity they’ve observed, but are too afraid of being blacklisted by the industry. A newly proposed update to the False Claims Act would help to protect and support whistleblowers in their efforts to hold pharmaceutical companies liable, by helping to prevent that kind of retaliation and making it harder for the companies charged to dismiss these cases. It should come as no surprise that Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Merck, and a flock of other big pharma firms are currently lobbying to block the update. Naturally, they wouldn’t want to make it any easier for ex-employees to expose their wrongdoings, potentially costing them billions more in fines. Something to keep in mind: these are the same people who produced, marketed, and are profiting from the COVID-19 vaccines. The same people who manipulate research, pay off decision-makers to push their drugs, cover up negative research results to avoid financial losses, and knowingly put innocent citizens in harm’s way. The same people who told America: “Take as much OxyContin as you want around the clock! It’s very safe and not addictive!” (while laughing all the way to the bank). So, ask yourself this: if a partner, friend, or family member repeatedly lied to you — and not just little white lies, but big ones that put your health and safety at risk — would you continue to trust them? Backing the Big Four: Big Pharma and the FDA, WHO, NIH, CDC I know what you’re thinking. Big pharma is amoral and the FDA’s devastating slips are a dime a dozen — old news. But what about agencies and organizations like the National Institutes of Health (NIH), World Health Organization (WHO), and Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC)? Don’t they have an obligation to provide unbiased guidance to protect citizens? Don’t worry, I’m getting there. The WHO’s guidance is undeniably influential across the globe. For most of this organization’s history, dating back to 1948, it could not receive donations from pharmaceutical companies — only member states. But that changed in 2005 when the WHO updated its financial policy to permit private money into its system. Since then, the WHO has accepted many financial contributions from big pharma. In fact, it’s only 20% financed by member states today, with a whopping 80% of financing coming from private donors. For instance, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) is now one of its main contributors, providing up to 13% of its funds — about $250–300 million a year. Nowadays, the BMGF provides more donations to the WHO than the entire United States. Dr. Arata Kochi, former head of WHO’s malaria program, expressed concerns to director-general Dr. Margaret Chan in 2007 that taking the BMGF’s money could have “far-reaching, largely unintended consequences” including “stifling a diversity of views among scientists.” “The big concerns are that the Gates Foundation isn’t fully transparent and accountable,” Lawrence Gostin, director of WHO’s Collaborating Center on National and Global Health Law, told Devex in an interview. “By wielding such influence, it could steer WHO priorities … It would enable a single rich philanthropist to set the global health agenda.” Photo credit: National Institutes of Health Take a peek at the WHO’s list of donors and you’ll find a few other familiar names like AstraZeneca, Bayer, Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, and Merck. The NIH has the same problem, it seems. Science journalist Paul Thacker, who previously examined financial links between physicians and pharma companies as a lead investigator of the United States Senate Committee, wrote in The Washington Post that this agency “often ignored” very “obvious” conflicts of interest. He also claimed that “its industry ties go back decades.” In 2018, it was discovered that a $100 million alcohol consumption study run by NIH scientists was funded mostly by beer and liquor companies. Emails proved that NIH researchers were in frequent contact with those companies while designing the study — which, here’s a shocker — were aimed at highlighting the benefits and not the risks of moderate drinking. So, the NIH ultimately had to squash the trial. And then there’s the CDC. It used to be that this agency couldn’t take contributions from pharmaceutical companies, but in 1992 they found a loophole: new legislation passed by Congress allowed them to accept private funding through a nonprofit called the CDC Foundation. From 2014 through 2018 alone, the CDC Foundation received $79.6 million from corporations like Pfizer, Biogen, and Merck. Of course, if a pharmaceutical company wants to get a drug, vaccine, or other product approved, they really need to cozy up to the FDA. That explains why in 2017, pharma companies paid for a whopping 75% of the FDA’s scientific review budgets, up from 27% in 1993. It wasn’t always like this. But in 1992, an act of Congress changed the FDA’s funding stream, enlisting pharma companies to pay “user fees,” which help the FDA speed up the approval process for their drugs. A 2018 Science investigation found that 40 out of 107 physician advisors on the FDA’s committees received more than $10,000 from big pharma companies trying to get their drugs approved, with some banking up to $1 million or more. The FDA claims it has a well-functioning system to identify and prevent these possible conflicts of interest. Unfortunately, their system only works for spotting payments before advisory panels meet, and the Science investigation showed many FDA panel members get their payments after the fact. It’s a little like “you scratch my back now, and I’ll scratch your back once I get what I want” — drug companies promise FDA employees a future bonus contingent on whether things go their way. Here’s why this dynamic proves problematic: a 2000 investigation revealed that when the FDA approved the rotavirus vaccine in 1998, it didn’t exactly do its due diligence. That probably had something to do with the fact that committee members had financial ties to the manufacturer, Merck — many owned tens of thousands of dollars of stock in the company, or even held patents on the vaccine itself. Later, the Adverse Event Reporting System revealed that the vaccine was causing serious bowel obstructions in some children, and it was finally pulled from the U.S. market in October 1999. Then, in June of 2021, the FDA overruled concerns raised by its very own scientific advisory committee to approve Biogen’s Alzheimer’s drug Aduhelm — a move widely criticized by physicians. The drug not only showed very little efficacy but also potentially serious side effects like brain bleeding and swelling, in clinical trials. Dr. Aaron Kesselheim, a Harvard Medical School professor who was on the FDA’s scientific advisory committee, called it the “worst drug approval” in recent history, and noted that meetings between the FDA and Biogen had a “strange dynamic” suggesting an unusually close relationship. Dr. Michael Carome, director of Public Citizen’s Health Research Group, told CNN that he believes the FDA started working in “inappropriately close collaboration with Biogen” back in 2019. “They were not objective, unbiased regulators,” he added in the CNN interview. “It seems as if the decision was preordained.” That brings me to perhaps the biggest conflict of interest yet: Dr. Anthony Fauci’s NIAID is just one of many institutes that comprises the NIH — and the NIH owns half the patent for the Moderna vaccine — as well as thousands more pharma patents to boot. The NIAID is poised to earn millions of dollars from Moderna’s vaccine revenue, with individual officials also receiving up to $150,000 annually. Operation Warp Speed In December of 2020, Pfizer became the first company to receive an emergency use authorization (EUA) from the FDA for a COVID-19 vaccine. EUAs — which allow the distribution of an unapproved drug or other product during a declared public health emergency — are actually a pretty new thing: the first one was issued in 2005 so military personnel could get an anthrax vaccine. To get a full FDA approval, there needs to be substantial evidence that the product is safe and effective. But for an EUA, the FDA just needs to determine that it may be effective. Since EUAs are granted so quickly, the FDA doesn’t have enough time to gather all the information they’d usually need to approve a drug or vaccine. “Operation Warp Speed Vaccine Event” by The White House is licensed under CC PDM 1.0 Pfizer CEO and chairman Albert Bourla has said his company was “operating at the speed of science” to bring a vaccine to market. However, a 2021 report in The BMJ revealed that this speed might have come at the expense of “data integrity and patient safety.” Brook Jackson, regional director for the Ventavia Research Group, which carried out these trials, told The BMJ that her former company “falsified data, unblinded patients, and employed inadequately trained vaccinators” in Pfizer’s pivotal phase 3 trial. Just some of the other concerning events witnessed included: adverse events not being reported correctly or at all, lack of reporting on protocol deviations, informed consent errors, and mislabeling of lab specimens. An audio recording of Ventavia employees from September 2020 revealed that they were so overwhelmed by issues arising during the study that they became unable to “quantify the types and number of errors” when assessing quality control. One Ventavia employee told The BMJ she’d never once seen a research environment as disorderly as Ventavia’s Pfizer vaccine trial, while another called it a “crazy mess.” Over the course of her two-decades-long career, Jackson has worked on hundreds of clinical trials, and two of her areas of expertise happen to be immunology and infectious diseases. She told me that from her first day on the Pfizer trial in September of 2020, she discovered “such egregious misconduct” that she recommended they stop enrolling participants into the study to do an internal audit. “To my complete shock and horror, Ventavia agreed to pause enrollment but then devised a plan to conceal what I found and to keep ICON and Pfizer in the dark,” Jackson said during our interview. “The site was in full clean-up mode. When missing data points were discovered the information was fabricated, including forged signatures on the informed consent forms.” A screenshot Jackson shared with me shows she was invited to a meeting titled “COVID 1001 Clean up Call” on Sept. 21, 2020. She refused to participate in the call. Jackson repeatedly warned her superiors about patient safety concerns and data integrity issues. “I knew that the entire world was counting on clinical researchers to develop a safe and effective vaccine and I did not want to be a part of that failure by not reporting what I saw,” she told me. When her employer failed to act, Jackson filed a complaint with the FDA on Sept. 25, and Ventavia fired her hours later that same day under the pretense that she was “not a good fit.” After reviewing her concerns over the phone, she claims the FDA never followed up or inspected the Ventavia site. Ten weeks later, the FDA authorized the EUA for the vaccine. Meanwhile, Pfizer hired Ventavia to handle the research for four more vaccine clinical trials, including one involving children and young adults, one for pregnant women, and another for the booster. Not only that, but Ventavia handled the clinical trials for Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, and Novavax. Jackson is currently pursuing a False Claims Act lawsuit against Pfizer and Ventavia Research Group. Last year, Pfizer banked nearly $37 billion from its COVID vaccine, making it one of the most lucrative products in global history. Its overall revenues doubled in 2021 to reach $81.3 billion, and it’s slated to reach a record-breaking $98-$102 billion this year. “Corporations like Pfizer should never have been put in charge of a global vaccination rollout, because it was inevitable they would make life-and-death decisions based on what’s in the short-term interest of their shareholders,” writes Nick Dearden, director of Global Justice Now. As previously mentioned, it’s super common for pharmaceutical companies to fund the research on their own products. Here’s why that’s scary. One 1999 meta-analysis showed that industry-funded research is eight times less likely to achieve unfavorable results compared to independent trials. In other words, if a pharmaceutical company wants to prove that a medication, supplement, vaccine, or device is safe and effective, they’ll find a way. With that in mind, I recently examined the 2020 study on Pfizer’s COVID vaccine to see if there were any conflicts of interest. Lo and behold, the lengthy attached disclosure form shows that of the 29 authors, 18 are employees of Pfizer and hold stock in the company, one received a research grant from Pfizer during the study, and two reported being paid “personal fees” by Pfizer. In another 2021 study on the Pfizer vaccine, seven of the 15 authors are employees of and hold stock in Pfizer. The other eight authors received financial support from Pfizer during the study. Photo credit: Prasesh Shiwakoti (Lomash) via Unsplash As of the day I’m writing this, about 64% of Americans are fully vaccinated, and 76% have gotten at least one dose. The FDA has repeatedly promised “full transparency” when it comes to these vaccines. Yet in December of 2021, the FDA asked for permission to wait 75 years before releasing information pertaining to Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, including safety data, effectiveness data, and adverse reaction reports. That means no one would see this information until the year 2096 — conveniently, after many of us have departed this crazy world. To recap: the FDA only needed 10 weeks to review the 329,000 pages worth of data before approving the EUA for the vaccine — but apparently, they need three-quarters of a century to publicize it. In response to the FDA’s ludicrous request, PHMPT — a group of over 200 medical and public health experts from Harvard, Yale, Brown, UCLA, and other institutions — filed a lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act demanding that the FDA produce this data sooner. And their efforts paid off: U.S. District Judge Mark T. Pittman issued an order for the FDA to produce 12,000 pages by Jan. 31, and then at least 55,000 pages per month thereafter. In his statement to the FDA, Pittman quoted the late John F. Kennedy: “A nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people.” As for why the FDA wanted to keep this data hidden, the first batch of documentation revealed that there were more than 1,200 vaccine-related deaths in just the first 90 days after the Pfizer vaccine was introduced. Of 32 pregnancies with a known outcome, 28 resulted in fetal death. The CDC also recently unveiled data showing a total of 1,088,560 reports of adverse events from COVID vaccines were submitted between Dec. 14, 2020, and Jan. 28, 2022. That data included 23,149 reports of deaths and 183,311 reports of serious injuries. There were 4,993 reported adverse events in pregnant women after getting vaccinated, including 1,597 reports of miscarriage or premature birth. A 2022 study published in JAMA, meanwhile, revealed that there have been more than 1,900 reported cases of myocarditis — or inflammation of the heart muscle — mostly in people 30 and under, within 7 days of getting the vaccine. In those cases, 96% of people were hospitalized. “It is understandable that the FDA does not want independent scientists to review the documents it relied upon to license Pfizer’s vaccine given that it is not as effective as the FDA originally claimed, does not prevent transmission, does not prevent against certain emerging variants, can cause serious heart inflammation in younger individuals, and has numerous other undisputed safety issues,” writes Aaron Siri, the attorney representing PHMPT in its lawsuit against the FDA. Siri told me in an email that his office phone has been ringing off the hook in recent months. “We are overwhelmed by inquiries from individuals calling about an injury from a COVID-19 vaccine,” he said. By the way — it’s worth noting that adverse effects caused by COVID-19 vaccinations are still not covered by the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. Companies like Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson are protected under the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness (PREP) Act, which grants them total immunity from liability with their vaccines. And no matter what happens to you, you can’t sue the FDA for authorizing the EUA, or your employer for requiring you to get it, either. Billions of taxpayer dollars went to fund the research and development of these vaccines, and in Moderna’s case, licensing its vaccine was made possible entirely by public funds. But apparently, that still warrants citizens no insurance. Should something go wrong, you’re basically on your own. Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccine business model: government gives them billions, gives them immunity for any injuries or if doesn't work, promotes their products for free, and mandates their products. Sounds crazy? Yes, but it is our current reality. — Aaron Siri (@AaronSiriSG) February 2, 2022 The Hypocrisy of “Misinformation” I find it interesting that “misinformation” has become such a pervasive term lately, but more alarmingly, that it’s become an excuse for blatant censorship on social media and in journalism. It’s impossible not to wonder what’s driving this movement to control the narrative. In a world where we still very clearly don’t have all the answers, why shouldn’t we be open to exploring all the possibilities? And while we’re on the subject, what about all of the COVID-related untruths that have been spread by our leaders and officials? Why should they get a free pass? Photo credit: @upgradeur_life, www.instagram.com/upgradeur_life Fauci, President Biden, and the CDC’s Rochelle Walensky all promised us with total confidence the vaccine would prevent us from getting or spreading COVID, something we now know is a myth. (In fact, the CDC recently had to change its very definition of “vaccine ” to promise “protection” from a disease rather than “immunity”— an important distinction). At one point, the New York State Department of Health (NYS DOH) and former Governor Andrew Cuomo prepared a social media campaign with misleading messaging that the vaccine was “approved by the FDA” and “went through the same rigorous approval process that all vaccines go through,” when in reality the FDA only authorized the vaccines under an EUA, and the vaccines were still undergoing clinical trials. While the NYS DOH eventually responded to pressures to remove these false claims, a few weeks later the Department posted on Facebook that “no serious side effects related to the vaccines have been reported,” when in actuality, roughly 16,000 reports of adverse events and over 3,000 reports of serious adverse events related to a COVID-19 vaccination had been reported in the first two months of use. One would think we’d hold the people in power to the same level of accountability — if not more — than an average citizen. So, in the interest of avoiding hypocrisy, should we “cancel” all these experts and leaders for their “misinformation,” too? Vaccine-hesitant people have been fired from their jobs, refused from restaurants, denied the right to travel and see their families, banned from social media channels, and blatantly shamed and villainized in the media. Some have even lost custody of their children. These people are frequently labeled “anti-vax,” which is misleading given that many (like the NBA’s Jonathan Isaac) have made it repeatedly clear they are not against all vaccines, but simply making a personal choice not to get this one. (As such, I’ll suggest switching to a more accurate label: “pro-choice.”) Fauci has repeatedly said federally mandating the vaccine would not be “appropriate” or “enforceable” and doing so would be “encroaching upon a person’s freedom to make their own choice.” So it’s remarkable that still, some individual employers and U.S. states, like my beloved Massachusetts, have taken it upon themselves to enforce some of these mandates, anyway. Meanwhile, a Feb. 7 bulletin posted by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security indicates that if you spread information that undermines public trust in a government institution (like the CDC or FDA), you could be considered a terrorist. In case you were wondering about the current state of free speech. The definition of institutional oppression is “the systematic mistreatment of people within a social identity group, supported and enforced by the society and its institutions, solely based on the person’s membership in the social identity group.” It is defined as occurring when established laws and practices “systematically reflect and produce inequities based on one’s membership in targeted social identity groups.” Sound familiar? As you continue to watch the persecution of the unvaccinated unfold, remember this. Historically, when society has oppressed a particular group of people whether due to their gender, race, social class, religious beliefs, or sexuality, it’s always been because they pose some kind of threat to the status quo. The same is true for today’s unvaccinated. Since we know the vaccine doesn’t prevent the spread of COVID, however, this much is clear: the unvaccinated don’t pose a threat to the health and safety of their fellow citizens — but rather, to the bottom line of powerful pharmaceutical giants and the many global organizations they finance. And with more than $100 billion on the line in 2021 alone, I can understand the motivation to silence them. The unvaccinated have been called selfish. Stupid. Fauci has said it’s “almost inexplicable” that they are still resisting. But is it? What if these people aren’t crazy or uncaring, but rather have — unsurprisingly so — lost their faith in the agencies that are supposed to protect them? Can you blame them? Citizens are being bullied into getting a vaccine that was created, evaluated, and authorized in under a year, with no access to the bulk of the safety data for said vaccine, and no rights whatsoever to pursue legal action if they experience adverse effects from it. What these people need right now is to know they can depend on their fellow citizens to respect their choices, not fuel the segregation by launching a full-fledged witch hunt. Instead, for some inexplicable reason I imagine stems from fear, many continue rallying around big pharma rather than each other. A 2022 Heartland Institute and Rasmussen Reports survey of Democratic voters found that 59% of respondents support a government policy requiring unvaccinated individuals to remain confined in their home at all times, 55% support handing a fine to anyone who won’t get the vaccine, and 48% think the government should flat out imprison people who publicly question the efficacy of the vaccines on social media, TV, or online in digital publications. Even Orwell couldn’t make this stuff up. Photo credit: DJ Paine on Unsplash Let me be very clear. While there are a lot of bad actors out there — there are also a lot of well-meaning people in the science and medical industries, too. I’m lucky enough to know some of them. There are doctors who fend off pharma reps’ influence and take an extremely cautious approach to prescribing. Medical journal authors who fiercely pursue transparency and truth — as is evident in “The Influence of Money on Medical Science,” a report by the first female editor of JAMA. Pharmacists, like Dan Schneider, who refuse to fill prescriptions they deem risky or irresponsible. Whistleblowers, like Graham and Jackson, who tenaciously call attention to safety issues for pharma products in the approval pipeline. And I’m certain there are many people in the pharmaceutical industry, like Panara and my grandfather, who pursued this field with the goal of helping others, not just earning a six- or seven-figure salary. We need more of these people. Sadly, it seems they are outliers who exist in a corrupt, deep-rooted system of quid-pro-quo relationships. They can only do so much. I’m not here to tell you whether or not you should get the vaccine or booster doses. What you put in your body is not for me — or anyone else — to decide. It’s not a simple choice, but rather one that may depend on your physical condition, medical history, age, religious beliefs, and level of risk tolerance. My grandfather passed away in 2008, and lately, I find myself missing him more than ever, wishing I could talk to him about the pandemic and hear what he makes of all this madness. I don’t really know how he’d feel about the COVID vaccine, or whether he would have gotten it or encouraged me to. What I do know is that he’d listen to my concerns, and he’d carefully consider them. He would remind me my feelings are valid. His eyes would light up and he’d grin with amusement as I fervidly expressed my frustration. He’d tell me to keep pushing forward, digging deeper, asking questions. In his endearing Bronx accent, he used to always say: “go get ‘em, kid.” If I stop typing for a moment and listen hard enough, I can almost hear him saying it now. People keep saying “trust the science.” But when trust is broken, it must be earned back. And as long as our legislative system, public health agencies, physicians, and research journals keep accepting pharmaceutical money (with strings attached) — and our justice system keeps letting these companies off the hook when their negligence causes harm, there’s no reason for big pharma to change. They’re holding the bag, and money is power. I have a dream that one day, we’ll live in a world where we are armed with all the thorough, unbiased data necessary to make informed decisions about our health. Alas, we’re not even close. What that means is that it’s up to you to educate yourself as much as possible, and remain ever-vigilant in evaluating information before forming an opinion. You can start by reading clinical trials yourself, rather than relying on the media to translate them for you. Scroll to the bottom of every single study to the “conflicts of interest” section and find out who funded it. Look at how many subjects were involved. Confirm whether or not blinding was used to eliminate bias. You may also choose to follow Public Citizen’s Health Research Group’s rule whenever possible: that means avoiding a new drug until five years after an FDA approval (not an EUA, an actual approval) — when there’s enough data on the long-term safety and effectiveness to establish that the benefits outweigh the risks. When it comes to the news, you can seek out independent, nonprofit outlets, which are less likely to be biased due to pharma funding. And most importantly, when it appears an organization is making concerted efforts to conceal information from you — like the FDA recently did with the COVID vaccine — it’s time to ask yourself: why? What are they trying to hide? In the 2019 film “Dark Waters” — which is based on the true story of one of the greatest corporate cover-ups in American history — Mark Ruffalo as attorney Rob Bilott says: “The system is rigged. They want us to think it’ll protect us, but that’s a lie. We protect us. We do. Nobody else. Not the companies. Not the scientists. Not the government. Us.” Words to live by. Tyler Durden Sat, 04/09/2022 - 22:30.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytApr 9th, 2022

Trump files grievance-filled lawsuit accusing Hillary Clinton and Democrats of carrying out an "unthinkable plot" to tie his campaign to Russia

The lawsuit makes a number of misleading claims about Hillary Clinton and the Russia probe and recycles Trump's grievances about Mueller. Donald Trump (L), Hillary Clinton (R).Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images (L), Ludovic Marin/AFP via Getty Images (R). Former President Donald Trump has sued Hillary Clinton and other Democrats over the 2016 campaign. The lawsuit claims there was a sprawling and malicious conspiracy to connect him to Russia. Senate investigators previously documented the Trump 2016 campaign's ties to Russia. A lawsuit filed Thursday by former President Donald Trump in Florida alleges that he was the victim of a sweeping conspiracy by Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party to tie his 2016 campaign to Russia.Calling it an "unthinkable plot," the legal complaint alleges that Clinton and other defendants — including her 2016 campaign advisors, the Democratic National Committee, and former DOJ and FBI officials — conspired to fabricate evidence tying him to "a hostile foreign sovereignty."In a statement to Insider, Clinton's spokesman Nick Merrill dismissed the lawsuit as "nonsense."The lawsuit dismisses any "contrived Trump-Russia link." It also recycles other claims he's previously made about former special counsel Robert Mueller's probe into Trump and his campaign.Specifically, it says that Mueller exonerated "Donald Trump and his campaign with his finding that there was no evidence of collusion with Russia." And it says that the "Mueller Report demonstrated that, after a two-year long investigation coming on the heels of a year-long FBI investigation, the Special Counsel found no evidence that Donald Trump or his campaign ever colluded with the Russian government to undermine the 2016 election."Mueller concluded in 2019 that the Russian government interfered with the 2016 US election to damage Clinton and propel Trump to the Oval Office. But his final report specifies that investigators evaluated the relevant events from "the framework of conspiracy law, not the concept of 'collusion.'"Prosecutors ultimately concluded that there was not "sufficient evidence" to charge anyone on the Trump campaign with conspiring with Moscow. But they noted that the campaign "expected it would benefit electorally" from Russia's efforts.The Republican-led Senate Intelligence Committee also determined in 2020 that members of the Trump campaign had connections to Russian nationals.For instance, the committee concluded that Paul Manafort, who served as the campaign's chairman for five months in 2016, was a "grave counterintelligence threat" who had "high-level access and [a] willingness to share information with individuals closely affiliated with the Russian intelligence services."Before joining the Trump campaign, Manafort worked as a consultant for pro-Russian interests like Ukraine's Party of Regions and the former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych.Senate investigators also uncovered information that raised "the possibility of Manafort's potential connection to the hack-and-leak operations" that took place during the 2016 US election, in which Russian hackers breached the DNC's servers, stole emails, and disseminated them via WikiLeaks and the fake online persona Guccifer 2.0.The Senate's report also identified Konstantin Kilimnik, a former Russian intelligence operative and associate of Manafort's, as someone who "may be connected" to the effort to influence the 2016 election.And Trump's eldest son, Donald Jr., welcomed this effort, according to emails that have been publicly released.Specifically, Trump Jr. was offered "high level and sensitive information" about the Clinton campaign in June 2016 that he was told was "part of Russia and its government's support" for Trump's candidacy. In response, Trump Jr. said, "If it's what you say, I love it, especially later in the summer."Trump's former longtime fixer and lawyer, Michael Cohen, also told prosecutors and lawmakers that the Trump family was working on a deal to build a Trump Tower in Moscow during the 2016 presidential campaign.Cohen, Manafort, and four others associated with Trump and his campaign eventually pleaded guilty or were convicted of crimes in connection to Mueller's investigation into Russia's interference in the 2016 election. All of them, with the exception of Cohen who has been a vocal Trump critic, were pardoned or had their sentences commuted before Trump left office in January 2021.The former president's lawsuit comes as he and his allies falsely allege that a recent court filing from the special counsel John Durham — who is tasked with investigating the origins of the Mueller probe — proves that the Clinton campaign illegally spied on Trump during the 2016 campaign and early on in his presidency.It mischaracterizes several details from the Durham filing, saying that the defendants "resorted to truly subversive measures — hacking servers at Trump Tower, Trump's private apartment, and, most alarmingly, the White House."But as Insider has reported, the filing in question says nothing of the sort, and Durham himself said in a subsequent filing that "members of the media" may have "misinterpreted" the previous filing.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytMar 24th, 2022

Illinois Illegally Denied Elections Group Access To Voter Records, Federal Court Rules

Illinois Illegally Denied Elections Group Access To Voter Records, Federal Court Rules Zuthored by Matthew Vadum via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours), An election worker makes a record of a ballot pickup on Nov. 3, 2020 in Vancouver, Washington. (Nathan Howard/Getty Images) A federal court ruled that Illinois violated the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) when it refused to provide an election integrity group with access to the state’s voter roll. “Election officials must allow citizens to see what they are doing,” said J. Christian Adams, president of the Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF), the successful plaintiff in the case. Indianapolis-based PILF describes itself as “the nation’s only public interest law firm dedicated wholly to election integrity.” The nonprofit organization “exists to assist states and others to aid the cause of election integrity and fight against lawlessness in American elections.” PILF regularly uses the Public Disclosure Provision of the NVRA, along with state and federal open records laws that require government records be made available to the public, the group stated in the legal complaint (pdf) filed July 27, 2020, in the Springfield office of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of Illinois. Using records and data compiled through these open records laws, PILF “analyzes the programs and activities of state and local election officials in order to determine whether lawful efforts are being made to keep voter rolls current and accurate,” the complaint states. The NVRA provides that “Each State shall maintain for at least 2 years and shall make available for public inspection and, where available, photocopying at a reasonable cost, all records concerning the implementation of programs and activities conducted for the purpose of ensuring the accuracy and currency of official lists of eligible voters.” The complaint cites Project Vote v. Long, a 2012 decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, in stating that the Public Disclosure Provision of the NVRA “embodies Congress’s conviction that Americans who are eligible under law to vote have every right to exercise their franchise, a right that must not be sacrificed to administrative chicanery, oversights, or inefficiencies.” The ruling (pdf) in the case, Public Interest Legal Foundation v. Matthews, court file 20-cv-3190, came on March 8. The defendants are Bernadette Matthews, who was sued in her official capacity as executive director of the Illinois State Board of Elections, the board itself, and two other board officials. District Judge Sue Myerscough, who was appointed by President Barack Obama, found that the defendants “acted in violation of the Public Disclosure Provision of the NVRA when Defendants refused to make available for viewing and photocopying the full statewide voter registration list.” Myerscough ordered the elections board “to implement policies and procedures which make available to the public the statewide voter registration list, allowing for redaction of telephone numbers, Social Security numbers, street numbers of home addresses, birthdates, identifiable portions of email addresses, and other highly sensitive personal information.” The judge also ordered the defendants to pay PILF “its attorneys’ fees, costs, and expenses.” Adams, a former civil rights attorney at the U.S. Department of Justice, said in a statement that he was pleased with the ruling. “Federal law allows everyone to see what is going on in election offices. PILF has found dead and duplicate registrants and voters registered in multiple states,” he said. “Voter rolls are public, and the court said so. This is the second ruling this week that the Foundation has won to gain access to voter rolls. Accurate voter rolls are essential to free and fair elections.” The second ruling to which Adams was referring is a March 4 decision (pdf) by Judge George Z. Singal of the U.S. District Court for the District of Maine. The case is PILF v. Bellows, court file 20-cv-61. Singal, who was appointed by President Bill Clinton, refused a request by Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows, a Democrat, to dismiss PILF’s lawsuit seeking access to state voter information. After several demands for the data, Bellows informed PILF in February 2020 that she lacked legal authority to release voter files to the group. PILF sued, seeking declaratory and injunctive relief under the NVRA. In the course of the litigation, Maine enacted a new law limiting the use and dissemination of voter data. But Singal found that PILF “plausibly allege[s] a violation of the NVRA” by Maine, and threw out the state’s motion to dismiss. Adams expressed optimism about the eventual outcome of the Maine case. “This case is about transparency and the public’s right to know about vulnerabilities in our elections,” Adams said. “The court adopted our interpretation of the National Voter Registration Act and strengthened our rights to ensure that voter rolls are accurately maintained. This ruling is a victory for election integrity.” Bellows didn’t respond by press time to a request by The Epoch Times for comment on the Maine case. In the Illinois ruling, state Attorney General Kwame Raoul, a Democrat, whose attorneys represent the state, didn’t respond by press time to a request for comment. Tyler Durden Fri, 03/11/2022 - 17:00.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytMar 11th, 2022

Trump files lawsuit accusing New York"s attorney general of trying to "harass" him with investigations

Trump's legal team accused New York AG Tish James of being motivated by "a desire to harass, intimidate, and retaliate against a private citizen." Former President Donald TrumpJames Devaney/GC Images via Getty Images Trump filed a lawsuit against New York attorney general Tish James. The suit accuses James of trying to "harass" him with investigations. It comes after The Washington Post reported that James wants to depose Trump in January. Former President Donald Trump on Monday filed a civil lawsuit against New York Attorney General Tish James, The New York Times reported.It was filed in federal court and accuses James of being "guided solely by political animus and a desire to harass, intimidate, and retaliate against a private citizen who she views as a political opponent."James' office has been investigating whether the Trump Organization engaged in financial fraud when valuing its properties, and Trump's lawsuit comes after The Washington Post reported that James wants to depose Trump on January 7. A person familiar with the investigation told The Post that James is looking into whether rampant fraud "permeated the Trump Organization."The attorney general's office released a statement on Monday dismissing Trump's lawsuit as "an attempted collateral attack on that investigation.""To be clear, neither Mr. Trump nor the Trump Organization get to dictate if and where they will answer for their actions. Our investigation will continue undeterred because no one is above the law, not even someone with the name Trump," the statement said.Shortly after The Post reported on James' plans to seek a deposition from Trump, the attorney general announced that she was suspending her nascent campaign for New York governor."I have come to the conclusion that I must continue my work as attorney general," James said on Twitter. "There are a number of important investigations and cases that are underway, and I intend to finish the job. I am running for re-election to complete the work New Yorkers elected me to do."Trump's civil suit against James mirrored some of his previous language, including when he accused the state's attorney general of "presidential harassment."James' inquiry is separate from an ongoing criminal probe conducted by the Manhattan district attorney's office, which the attorney general's office is collaborating with.Prosecutors from the DA's office are also interested in the Trump Organization's claims about the value of its properties and last month issued new subpoenas for records of those properties, including golf clubs, offices, and hotels.Most of the charges stemming from the criminal investigation so far have focused on tax-related schemes.But in recent months, the civil probe and the criminal investigation have zeroed in on whether Trump Organization officials artificially inflated or deflated the value of properties for loan and tax purposes, respectively.The Washington Post previously reported that among other things, prosecutors are scrutinizing a Trump-owned building located at 40 Wall Street in Manhattan. Property records reviewed by The Post showed that the Trump Organization told lenders in 2012 that the building was worth $527 million, but a few months later told tax officials that it was worth just $16.7 million. Tax experts have previously said the discrepancy could point to a ploy to pay lower property taxes.Trump has not been charged with any crimes and has denied wrongdoing in both the DA's investigation and James' civil inquiry.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytDec 20th, 2021