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Rep. Liz Cheney questioned if US can be a "nation of laws" if DOJ does not prosecute former President Donald Trump if there"s evidence

Rep. Liz Cheney is the vice chair of the House select committee investigating the Capitol attack and one of two Republicans serving on the committee. Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY).Drew Angerer/Getty Images Rep. Liz Cheney said on CNN that there are "facts and evidence" to prosecute Donald Trump. If the DOJ doesn't prosecute, Cheney said there could be doubts that the US is a "nation of laws." Cheney, a Republican, co-chairs the House committee investigating the Capitol attack. GOP Rep. Liz Cheney questioned recently if the US could consider itself a "nation of laws" if the Justice Department decides not to prosecute former President Donald Trump for his role in the January 6, 2021, Capitol riot, "if the facts and evidence are there.""Understanding what it means if the facts and the evidence are there, and they decide not to prosecute — how do we then call ourselves a nation of laws?" Cheney asked during an interview with CNN on Thursday. "I think that's a very serious, serious balancing."The decision to bring formal charges against Trump is in the hands of Attorney General Merrick Garland and his Justice Department.Cheney is the vice chair of the House select committee investigating the Capitol attack and one of two Republicans serving on the committee.She has been one of the few in her party to criticize Trump following the violence at the Capitol and was one of 10 GOP members to vote to impeach the former president after the Capitol insurrection (the second time the House voted to impeach Trump). The former president was ultimately acquitted in the US Senate.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderAug 5th, 2022

Liz Cheney pushes the DOJ to charge Trump, says passing on prosecution if there"s enough evidence risks the US no longer being "a nation of laws"

"The question for us is, are we a nation of laws? Are we a country where no one is above the law?" said the Jan. 6 committee member. Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY).Drew Angerer/Getty Images Rep. Liz Cheney said the evidence is there for the DOJ to charge Donald Trump over the Capitol riot.   Cheney said Trump is guilty of "the most serious dereliction of duty of any president." She said that prosecutors avoiding a case could threaten the US reputation for integrity. Rep. Liz Cheney on Thursday said that DOJ prosecutors risk harming the US reputation as "a nation of laws" if they do not charge former President Donald Trump despite there being sufficient evidence. In an interview with CNN on Thursday, Cheney said the "facts and the evidence are there" to sustain charges against Trump over the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.Cheney is part of a committee investigating the riot, which has produced evidence is says shows Trump is to blame for the attack.Trump is "guilty of the most serious dereliction of duty of any president in our nation's history", she said, and cited federal court judge David Carter concluding in March that Trump and conservative attorney John Eastman had likely committed crimes in seeking to overturn the result of the 2020 election.—CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) August 4, 2022She said the Jan. 6 committee will "continue to follow the facts. I think Department of Justice will do that. But they have to make decisions about prosecution.""Understanding what it means if the facts and the evidence are there, and they decide not to prosecute — how do we then call ourselves a nation of laws? I think that's a very serious, serious balancing," Cheney said.The committee has alleged that Trump relentlessly pushed claims that the election had been stolen from him even though he knew, or should have known, they were false. These claims resulted in supporters attacking the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, in a bid to halt Biden's certification as president. Witness Cassidy Hutchinson, a former White House, has claimed that Trump knew supporters were armed, and wanted to join them in marching on the Capitol. Others have testified that people in Trump's circle played key roles in arranging the protest. The Jan. 6 committee, after winding up its investigation, could make a criminal referral of Trump to the Justice Department.Such a move would not obliged the DOJ to act, but would pressure Merrick Garland, the attorney general, to make the unprecedented decision of whether to charge a former president, Trump, with a criminal offense. The Justice Department is pursuing a separate investigation into the Capitol riot and bid to overturn the 2020 election, and this week subpoenaed Pat Cipollone, the former White House counsel. That move indicated that its probe had begun to touch on former members of Trump's inner circle. This is a separate route to a possible Trump indictment. Trump has denied wrongdoing in relation to the riot, and says he sincerely believes his election-fraud claims. Some have suggested that charging Trump could galvanize his supporters and empower him as he gears up another bid for the presidency in 2024. However, Cheney said that political calculations should not be a factor in the decision over criminal charges. "I don't think that it's appropriate to think about it that way," said Cheney.Cheney has been ostracized from the GOP for taking a stand against Trump, and faces a Trump-backed challenger for a Wyoming congressional seat in the Republican primary in mid-August. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytAug 5th, 2022

NY AG Letitia James is cooking up a lawsuit that could bring down Trump"s business empire

New York's attorney general, Letitia James, appears poised to seek the so-called corporate death penalty against the Trump Organization. Bobby Bank/Getty Images; Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images; iStock; Rebecca Zisser/Insider New York Attorney General Letitia James is not seeking criminal charges against Donald Trump. James appears poised, however, to seek the so-called 'corporate death penalty' against the NY-based Trump Organization.  In signaling she will do so, the AG has cited 'persistent' financial fraud at the golf resort and real estate empire. New York Attorney General Letitia "Tish" James is poised to give Donald Trump a Memorial Day-worthy grilling, thanks to a court ruling on Thursday ordering that he, Ivanka Trump, and Donald Trump, Jr. all sit for sworn depositions. But as James winds down her three-year probe into the Trump Organization — the former president's New York-based hotel, real estate, and golf resort empire — James appears to have greater pyrotechnics in store.Trump doesn't appear to be facing criminal charges. James distanced herself from that idea in a filing two months ago. The legal brief asserted that James is making no effort to prosecute the Trumps or their business independent of whatever the Manhattan District Attorney's office might still be doing, which appears to be not much at all.Instead, James may try to use her powers under state executive law to torch Trump's business empire entirely, something she has also sought, successfully, with the Trump Foundation, and so far unsuccessfully with the NRA.She would do so through a massive lawsuit seeking New York's so-called "corporate death penalty," as she has signaled over the past five months in legal filings alleging repeated and persistent fraud at Trump's business.Here's what James may be cooking as she gets that grill going.Letitia James v. Donald Trump, Eric Trump and beyondThe top of any lawsuit will read, "People of the State of New York, by Letitia James, Attorney General of the State of New York," as set by law.As to who would reside at the bottom of the lawsuit's caption, as its defendants, James has given ample warning, and not just in the roughly five dozen public taunts and threats she's made at Donald Trump's expense since running for attorney general, as recently compiled and annotated by Trump's legal team in a handy spreadsheet.  James has said more formally, in legal filings this year, that a decade's worth of Donald 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."It's a finding echoed by Trump's own former accountants, Mazars USA, who conceded in February that the statements, that it had prepared "should no longer be relied upon."But who will James put in her legal sights?It makes sense to consider Donald Trump, who personally certified the allegedly faulty financial statements to be accurate every year through 2016, and personally reviewed at least some of them beforehand, the AG has alleged in legal filings. Then, in 2017, the Trump Organization was placed in a revocable trust, with the newly-elected president as sole beneficiary. From then on, the statements were certified by Eric Trump, executive vice president of the family business along with Donald Trump, Jr.Among the misrepresentations alleged by James' office are exaggerations of Trump's liquidity, or cash on hand; claims that the values of some assets were set by "outside professionals" who do not appear to exist; and the inclusion of a hidden, flat percentage for Trump's "brand value," despite the statements' express assurance that they exclude brand value in line with generally accepted accounting principles.Eric Trump pleaded the Fifth more than 500 times when he was deposed by James' office in October, 2020 after fighting her subpoena for nearly half a year.Donald Trump, Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr. have not said if they would follow suit, or whether they will continue to appeal the AG's subpoenas for their testimony.Trump family lawyers have maintained there has been no wrongdoing. They will likely fight any accusations of bad math by saying no Trump can be held personally responsible for the numbers certified in the financial statements, and that real estate appraisals are always subjective estimates.But as the Attorney General's Senior Enforcement Counsel Kevin Wallace alleged at a hearing in Manhattan earlier this year, "The focus of our investigation isn't just subjective valuations that we disagree with. These are actual false statements." Trump family lawyer Alan Futerfas did not respond to requests for comment.Some 40 people have been subpoenaed and deposed in the sprawling probe, the AG has said. It remains to be revealed who were questioned as witnesses and who, if any, as targets.James is gearing up for 'something substantial'James does not mince words. Neither will her lawsuit against the 500 or so separate entities that collectively do business as the Trump Organization.For example, the AG's ongoing 2020 lawsuit seeking to shut down the NRA is 164 pages long and followed an AG inquiry spanning 18 months. Her Trump inquiry, by comparison, has taken twice as long and has been a far more massive effort.Dozens of James' staff attorneys have collected, organized, and reviewed more than 900,000 financial documents totaling some 6 million pages in the Trump probe, working out of the AG's offices in lower Manhattan.Challenges by the Trumps and longtime appraiser Cushman & Wakefield have been aggressively met and litigated in three courthouses, including in Albany, where a federal judge last week tossed Trump's Hail Mary lawsuit to end James' probe.Already, the amount of litigation has been mind-numbing. Just one filing — the AG's response, in March, to the 3 Trumps' appeal of having to testify — contains 5,587 pages of argument and evidence; its table of contents alone stretches 16 pages."Clearly the attorney general is gearing up for something substantial here," said Norman Eisen, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, which issued a report in June on possible criminal charges. "And her determination that she's shown, her doggedness, just the sheer amount of litigation that she's devoted to this, I think puts her in a very different category from her colleague Alvin Bragg, who cut and run despite his own lead prosecutors determining that there was proof beyond a reasonable doubt," Eisen added.A probe from sea to shining seaAllegedly questionable financial dealings relating to at least 12 of the former president's assets — properties spanning the country's East and West coasts, and even his golf course in Aberdeen, Scotland — have cropped up in hundreds of public court filings over the past two years.On the West coast, there is the oceanfront Trump National Golf Club just outside Los Angeles. There, James' office has alleged the former president reaped millions in tax benefits by inflating the potential development value of a landslide-prone driving range whose air rights he then donated as a conservation easement.Moving eastward, there is Trump Tower in Chicago, the Trump International Hotel in Washington DC, and the Trump National Doral Miami, properties where development was funded with some $300 million in Deutsche Bank loans the attorney general alleges were based on faulty Statements of Financial Condition signed by Eric Trump.New York is home not only to the Trump Organization but to the bulk of its assets, and there the state's top law enforcement officer has probed most intently.James' first subpoenas focused on Seven Springs, a 212-acre woodland tract purchased by Donald Trump in 1995 for $7.5 million, and where more than a dozen years of development attempts were thwarted by tough zoning laws in the three Westchester County towns the property spans across. The attorney general alleges Donald Trump found another way to make money from the property.He exaggerated its worth by tens of millions of dollars in statements of financial condition spanning 2007 through 2012, when he valued it at $291 million based on development plans that local zoning officials had specifically nixed, the AG accuses.And he used a similarly "misleading" valuation in donating a 156-acre easement to a local nature reserve, the AG also alleges. In all, Trump "may have obtained more than $5 million in tax benefits from misleading valuations of conservation easements" at Seven Springs and the LA golf resort, the AG wrote in January.James has also zeroed in on several Trump properties in Manhattan. These include 40 Wall Street, where Donald Trump's interest in the 70-story skyscraper doubled in value from 2012 to 2015, and at his own triplex apartment at Trump Town on Fifth Avenue, which the AG alleges he persisted for years in claiming had three times its actual square footage.The lawsuit against Trump may drop 'in the near future' At least four sworn, court-ordered depositions remain to be taken in the AG's inquiry, each important enough that James will likely wait for them before filing her massive lawsuit.In addition to the yet-scheduled depositions of the 3 Trumps, a deposition for Trump's longtime personal assistant, Rhona Graff, is set for Tuesday.Graff, too, is a crucial witness.The AG has a lot of questions for Graff, given that out of 900,000 documents turned over by the Trump Organization, only 10 came from Donald Trump's personal business files.James' lawyers particularly want to ask Graff about Donald Trump's "retention and preservation practice" for documents related to those statements of financial condition."Did he ever review the statement in draft form before he signed the final version each year?" AG Special Counsel Andrew Amer asked in a recent filing to New York Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron, the Manhattan judge presiding over the probe's subpoena-related litigation."Did he annotate any drafts with comments and/or questions?" Amer asked, citing another question he'd like to pose to Graff."If so, what happened to those drafts? In what form was the final version of the statement presented for Mr. Trump's approval each year? How did he make his approval clear?"Other possible delays for James' lawsuit could come from further appeals that could be filed by the Trump lawyers or by longtime Trump appraisers Cushman & Wakefield, who were ordered after a protracted fight to turn over its own last batch out of tens of thousands of subpoenaed documents by this month.Still, the AG intends to file soon."We would likely need to bring some kind of enforcement action in the near future," Wallace, the AG's senior enforcement counsel, said during a hearing in late April.The New York state laws that could doom Trump's empireWhat gives Letitia James, the first woman elected to the office of New York Attorney General, the power to investigate the former president of the United States, and potentially padlock his business? New York's Executive Law, which among other things sets the powers and duties of state officials and which notably still refers to the attorney general — and its first female governor, Kathy Hochul, for that matter — using male pronouns only.But Section 63(12) of the Executive Law begins with these words:"Whenever any person shall engage in repeated fraudulent or illegal acts or otherwise demonstrate persistent fraud or illegality in the carry on, conducting or transaction of business..." The words "persistent" and "repeated" pop up frequency in the hundreds of pages of court documents filed so far this year by the AG, describing the alleged pattern of misstatement in Donald Trump's financial statements.In those instances of "persistent" fraud, executive law authorizes the attorney general to begin a civil investigation, complete with subpoena power, and allows the AG to seek fines, damages, and a state judge's order "enjoining," or halting, such fraudulent acts.And where appropriate, the state attorney general can seek a judge's order dissolving the business — the so-called "corporate death penalty."James' office has also repeatedly cited — though less frequently — the state's Martin Act, more mundanely known as New York General Business Law Article 23-A. This is the tough and sweeping securities law that James' predecessor, Eric Schneiderman, used against AIG CEO Maurice Greenberg in 2017.James' team has alleged in filings as recently as last month that Trump used a misleading appraisal of his stake in 40 Wall Street to get a $160 million, securitized mortgage loan in 2015, so the Martin Act may figure into James' plans, James has been promising something big for years, even before taking office. Seeking the corporate death penalty, and possibly millions in restitution for ill-gotten tax gains, may well be it."Oh, we're definitely gonna sue him," she vowed in an Instagram post shared on Nov. 7, 2018, the day after New Yorkers decisively elected her to be New York's top law enforcement officer."We're going to be a real pain in the ass," she promised, dressed in her trademark power-red and grinning broadly on that warm, windy day. "He's going to know my name personally."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytMay 30th, 2022

NY AG Letitia James is cooking up a lawsuit that could bring down Donald Trump"s business empire

New York Attorney General Letitia James appears poised to seek the so-called 'corporate death penalty' against the NY-based Trump Organization. Bobby Bank/Getty Images; Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images; iStock; Rebecca Zisser/Insider New York Attorney General Letitia James is not seeking criminal charges against Donald Trump. James appears poised, however, to seek the so-called 'corporate death penalty' against the NY-based Trump Organization.  In signaling she will do so, the AG has cited 'persistent' financial fraud at the golf resort and real estate empire. New York Attorney General Letitia "Tish" James is poised to give Donald Trump a Memorial Day-worthy grilling, thanks to a court ruling on Thursday ordering that he, Ivanka Trump, and Donald Trump, Jr. all sit for sworn depositions. But as James winds down her three-year probe into the Trump Organization — the former president's New York-based hotel, real estate, and golf resort empire — James appears to have greater pyrotechnics in store.Trump doesn't appear to be facing criminal charges. James distanced herself from that idea in a filing two months ago. The legal brief asserted that James is making no effort to prosecute the Trumps or their business independent of whatever the Manhattan District Attorney's office might still be doing, which appears to be not much at all.Instead, James may try to use her powers under state executive law to torch Trump's business empire entirely, something she has also sought, successfully, with the Trump Foundation, and so far unsuccessfully with the NRA.She would do so through a massive lawsuit seeking New York's so-called "corporate death penalty," as she has signaled over the past five months in legal filings alleging repeated and persistent fraud at Trump's business.Here's what James may be cooking as she gets that grill going.Letitia James v. Donald Trump, Eric Trump and beyondThe top of any lawsuit will read, "People of the State of New York, by Letitia James, Attorney General of the State of New York," as set by law.As to who would reside at the bottom of the lawsuit's caption, as its defendants, James has given ample warning, and not just in the roughly five dozen public taunts and threats she's made at Donald Trump's expense since running for attorney general, as recently compiled and annotated by Trump's legal team in a handy spreadsheet.  James has said more formally, in legal filings this year, that a decade's worth of Donald 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."It's a finding echoed by Trump's own former accountants, Mazars USA, who conceded in February that the statements, that it had prepared "should no longer be relied upon."But who will James put in her legal sights?It makes sense to consider Donald Trump, who personally certified the allegedly faulty financial statements to be accurate every year through 2016, and personally reviewed at least some of them beforehand, the AG has alleged in legal filings. Then, in 2017, the Trump Organization was placed in a revocable trust, with the newly-elected president as sole beneficiary. From then on, the statements were certified by Eric Trump, executive vice president of the family business along with Donald Trump, Jr.Among the misrepresentations alleged by James' office are exaggerations of Trump's liquidity, or cash on hand; claims that the values of some assets were set by "outside professionals" who do not appear to exist; and the inclusion of a hidden, flat percentage for Trump's "brand value," despite the statements' express assurance that they exclude brand value in line with generally accepted accounting principles.Eric Trump pleaded the Fifth more than 500 times when he was deposed by James' office in October, 2020 after fighting her subpoena for nearly half a year.Donald Trump, Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr. have not said if they would follow suit, or whether they will continue to appeal the AG's subpoenas for their testimony.Trump family lawyers have maintained there has been no wrongdoing. They will likely fight any accusations of bad math by saying no Trump can be held personally responsible for the numbers certified in the financial statements, and that real estate appraisals are always subjective estimates.But as the Attorney General's Senior Enforcement Counsel Kevin Wallace alleged at a hearing in Manhattan earlier this year, "The focus of our investigation isn't just subjective valuations that we disagree with. These are actual false statements." Trump family lawyer Alan Futerfas did not respond to requests for comment.Some 40 people have been subpoenaed and deposed in the sprawling probe, the AG has said. It remains to be revealed who were questioned as witnesses and who, if any, as targets.James is gearing up for 'something substantial'James does not mince words. Neither will her lawsuit against the 500 or so separate entities that collectively do business as the Trump Organization.For example, the AG's ongoing 2020 lawsuit seeking to shut down the NRA is 164 pages long and followed an AG inquiry spanning 18 months. Her Trump inquiry, by comparison, has taken twice as long and has been a far more massive effort.Dozens of James' staff attorneys have collected, organized, and reviewed more than 900,000 financial documents totaling some 6 million pages in the Trump probe, working out of the AG's offices in lower Manhattan.Challenges by the Trumps and longtime appraiser Cushman & Wakefield have been aggressively met and litigated in three courthouses, including in Albany, where a federal judge last week tossed Trump's Hail Mary lawsuit to end James' probe.Already, the amount of litigation has been mind-numbing. Just one filing — the AG's response, in March, to the 3 Trumps' appeal of having to testify — contains 5,587 pages of argument and evidence; its table of contents alone stretches 16 pages."Clearly the attorney general is gearing up for something substantial here," said Norman Eisen, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, which issued a report in June on possible criminal charges. "And her determination that she's shown, her doggedness, just the sheer amount of litigation that she's devoted to this, I think puts her in a very different category from her colleague Alvin Bragg, who cut and run despite his own lead prosecutors determining that there was proof beyond a reasonable doubt," Eisen added.A probe from sea to shining seaAllegedly questionable financial dealings relating to at least 12 of the former president's assets — properties spanning the country's East and West coasts, and even his golf course in Aberdeen, Scotland — have cropped up in hundreds of public court filings over the past two years.On the West coast, there is the oceanfront Trump National Golf Club just outside Los Angeles. There, James' office has alleged the former president reaped millions in tax benefits by inflating the potential development value of a landslide-prone driving range whose air rights he then donated as a conservation easement.Moving eastward, there is Trump Tower in Chicago, the Trump International Hotel in Washington DC, and the Trump National Doral Miami, properties where development was funded with some $300 million in Deutsche Bank loans the attorney general alleges were based on faulty Statements of Financial Condition signed by Eric Trump.New York is home not only to the Trump Organization but to the bulk of its assets, and there the state's top law enforcement officer has probed most intently.James' first subpoenas focused on Seven Springs, a 212-acre woodland tract purchased by Donald Trump in 1995 for $7.5 million, and where more than a dozen years of development attempts were thwarted by tough zoning laws in the three Westchester County towns the property spans across. The attorney general alleges Donald Trump found another way to make money from the property.He exaggerated its worth by tens of millions of dollars in statements of financial condition spanning 2007 through 2012, when he valued it at $291 million based on development plans that local zoning officials had specifically nixed, the AG accuses.And he used a similarly "misleading" valuation in donating a 156-acre easement to a local nature reserve, the AG also alleges. In all, Trump "may have obtained more than $5 million in tax benefits from misleading valuations of conservation easements" at Seven Springs and the LA golf resort, the AG wrote in January.James has also zeroed in on several Trump properties in Manhattan. These include 40 Wall Street, where Donald Trump's interest in the 70-story skyscraper doubled in value from 2012 to 2015, and at his own triplex apartment at Trump Town on Fifth Avenue, which the AG alleges he persisted for years in claiming had three times its actual square footage.The lawsuit against Trump may drop 'in the near future' At least four sworn, court-ordered depositions remain to be taken in the AG's inquiry, each important enough that James will likely wait for them before filing her massive lawsuit.In addition to the yet-scheduled depositions of the 3 Trumps, a deposition for Trump's longtime personal assistant, Rhona Graff, is set for Tuesday.Graff, too, is a crucial witness.The AG has a lot of questions for Graff, given that out of 900,000 documents turned over by the Trump Organization, only 10 came from Donald Trump's personal business files.James' lawyers particularly want to ask Graff about Donald Trump's "retention and preservation practice" for documents related to those statements of financial condition."Did he ever review the statement in draft form before he signed the final version each year?" AG Special Counsel Andrew Amer asked in a recent filing to New York Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron, the Manhattan judge presiding over the probe's subpoena-related litigation."Did he annotate any drafts with comments and/or questions?" Amer asked, citing another question he'd like to pose to Graff."If so, what happened to those drafts? In what form was the final version of the statement presented for Mr. Trump's approval each year? How did he make his approval clear?"Other possible delays for James' lawsuit could come from further appeals that could be filed by the Trump lawyers or by longtime Trump appraisers Cushman & Wakefield, who were ordered after a protracted fight to turn over its own last batch out of tens of thousands of subpoenaed documents by this month.Still, the AG intends to file soon."We would likely need to bring some kind of enforcement action in the near future," Wallace, the AG's senior enforcement counsel, said during a hearing in late April.The New York state laws that could doom Trump's empireWhat gives Letitia James, the first woman elected to the office of New York Attorney General, the power to investigate the former president of the United States, and potentially padlock his business? New York's Executive Law, which among other things sets the powers and duties of state officials and which notably still refers to the attorney general — and its first female governor, Kathy Hochul, for that matter — using male pronouns only.But Section 63(12) of the Executive Law begins with these words:"Whenever any person shall engage in repeated fraudulent or illegal acts or otherwise demonstrate persistent fraud or illegality in the carry on, conducting or transaction of business..." The words "persistent" and "repeated" pop up frequency in the hundreds of pages of court documents filed so far this year by the AG, describing the alleged pattern of misstatement in Donald Trump's financial statements.In those instances of "persistent" fraud, executive law authorizes the attorney general to begin a civil investigation, complete with subpoena power, and allows the AG to seek fines, damages, and a state judge's order "enjoining," or halting, such fraudulent acts.And where appropriate, the state attorney general can seek a judge's order dissolving the business — the so-called "corporate death penalty."James' office has also repeatedly cited — though less frequently — the state's Martin Act, more mundanely known as New York General Business Law Article 23-A. This is the tough and sweeping securities law that James' predecessor, Eric Schneiderman, used against AIG CEO Maurice Greenberg in 2017.James' team has alleged in filings as recently as last month that Trump used a misleading appraisal of his stake in 40 Wall Street to get a $160 million, securitized mortgage loan in 2015, so the Martin Act may figure into James' plans, James has been promising something big for years, even before taking office. Seeking the corporate death penalty, and possibly millions in restitution for ill-gotten tax gains, may well be it."Oh, we're definitely gonna sue him," she vowed in an Instagram post shared on Nov. 7, 2018, the day after New Yorkers decisively elected her to be New York's top law enforcement officer."We're going to be a real pain in the ass," she promised, dressed in her trademark power-red and grinning broadly on that warm, windy day. "He's going to know my name personally."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytMay 30th, 2022

The Tucker Carlson origin story

Tucker Carlson's journey from prep school provocateur to Fox News flamethrower, according to his friends and former classmates. Tucker Carlson during a CNN National Town Meeting on coverage of the White House sex scandal, on January 28, 1998.Richard Ellis/Getty Images Tucker Carlson is remembered as a provocateur and gleeful contrarian by those who knew him in his early days. His bohemian artist mother abandoned her young family and cut Tucker and his brother out of her will. At a Rhode Island prep school and at Trinity College, classmates remember him as a skilled debater who could both amuse and infuriate his audiences. On Oct. 29, 1984, New York police killed an elderly Black woman named Eleanor Bumpurs in her own home. Bumpers, who lived in a public housing complex in the Bronx, had fallen four months behind on her rent. When officials from the city housing authority tried to evict her, she refused, and they called the police. Five officers responded by storming into her apartment. Bumpurs, who had a history of mental illness, grabbed a butcher knife as two officers pushed her against a wall with their plastic shields and a metal pole. A third officer fired two shots from his 12-gauge shotgun, striking Bumpurs in her hand and chest.Eleanor Bumpurs' death dominated the city's news for two months and led the NYPD to revise its guidelines for responding to emotionally disturbed individuals.At St. George's prep school, some 175 miles away in Rhode Island, the incident deeply haunted Richard Wayner. He was one of the school's few Black students and had grown up in a residential tower not far from where Bumpurs had lived. He earned straight As and was so admired that in 1984 his peers elected him senior prefect, the prep equivalent of student body president, making him the first Black class leader in the school's 125-year history. Harvard soon beckoned.Wayner was frustrated with how the St. George's community seemed to ignore the conversations about racial justice that were happening outside the cloistered confines of Aquidneck Island. It bothered Wayne that almost no one at St. George's seemed to know anything about Bumpurs' killing. "You had your crew, you put your head down, and you tried to get through three or four years of prep school with your psyche intact," Wayner said of those days.As senior prefect, one of the duties was to deliver an address each week at the mandatory Sunday chapel service. One Sunday, perched from the chapel podium, Wayner described the shooting as a sea of white faces stared back at him. He concluded with the words: "Does anyone think that woman deserved to die?"Near the front of the chapel, a single hand went up for a few brief seconds. It was Tucker Carlson.Eleanor Bumpurs was shot and killed by the New York Police Department on October 29, 1984APThen a sophomore, Tucker had a reputation as a gleeful contrarian – an indefatigable debater and verbal jouster who, according to some, could also be a bit of a jerk. "Tucker was just sort of fearless," said Ian Toll, a St. George's alumnus who would go on to be a military historian. "Whether it was a legitimate shooting may have been a point of debate but the fact was that Tucker was an underclassmen and the culture was to defer to the seniors." Wayner himself never saw Tucker's hand go up, and the two kept in touch over the years. (Note on style: Tucker Carlson and the members of his family are referred to here by their first names to avoid confusion.)  Four decades later, glimmers of that prep school provocateur appear on Tucker's Prime Time show on Fox, which garners an average of between 3 to 4 million viewers a night. His furrowed visage and spoiling-for-a-fight demeanor are all too familiar to those who have known him for decades. In the words of Roger Stone, a Republican political operative, frequent guest, and longtime friend of Tucker's: "Tucker Carlson is the single most influential conservative journalist in America… It is his courage and his willingness to talk about issues that no one else is willing to cover that has led to this development."Tucker's name has even been floated as a possible Republican presidential candidate in 2024. "I mean, I guess if, like, I was the last person on earth, I could do it. But, I mean, it seems pretty unlikely that I would be that guy." he said on the "Ruthless" podcast in June, dismissing this possibility.Tucker's four decades in Washington, and his transition from conservative magazine writer to right-wing television pundit, have been well documented. But less well known are his early years and how they shaped him: his bohemian artist mother, who abandoned her young family and cut Tucker and his brother out of her will; the Rhode Island prep school where he met his future spouse; and his formation into a contrarian debater who could both amuse and infuriate his audience with his attention-getting tactics.Tucker declined to participate in an interview with Insider, saying in a statement. "Your level of interest in the boring details of my life is creepy as hell, and also pathetic," he wrote. "You owe it to yourself and the country to do something useful with your talents. Please reassess."California roots Tucker Carlson's West Coast roots burrow as deep as a giant redwood. He was born in San Francisco in May 1969 as the excesses of the Sixties peaked and the conservative backlash to the counterculture and the Civil Rights movement started to take shape. Tucker's mother, Lisa McNear Lombardi, born in San Francisco in 1945, came from one of the state's storied frontier families. Lisa's mother, Mary Nickel James, was a cattle baron heiress. Her great-great-grandfather had owned 3 million acres of ranchland, making him among the largest landowners west of the Mississippi. Her father Oliver Lombardi was an insurance broker and descendant of Italian-speaking Swiss immigrants. Lisa enrolled at UC Berkeley, where she majored in architecture. She met Richard Carlson, a San Francisco TV journalist from a considerably less prosperous background, while still in college. Lisa and Richard eloped in Reno, Nevada in 1967. The couple didn't notify Lisa's mother, who was traveling in Europe with her new husband at the time. "Family members have been unable to locate them to reveal the nuptials," a gossip item published in the San Francisco Examiner dished.Tucker arrived two years later. A second son, Buckley, was born two years after that. As Richard's career began to flourish, the family moved first to Los Angeles and then, in 1975, to La Jolla, a moneyed, beach-front enclave about 12 miles north of San Diego. When Lisa and Richard divorced a year later, in 1976, Richard got full custody of their sons, then 6 and 4. According to three of Tucker's childhood classmates, Lisa disappeared from her sons' lives. They don't recall Tucker talking about her, or seeing her at school events. Marc Sterne, Tucker's boarding school roommate who went on to be executive producer of the Tony Kornheiser Show, says the two didn't talk much about Tucker's relationship with his mother and he got the impression that Tucker and Richard were exceptionally close. When Sterne's own parents split up that year, he said Tucker was supportive and understanding. Lisa spent the next two decades as an artist – moving first to Los Angeles, where she befriended the painter David Hockney, and later split her time between France and South Carolina with her husband, British painter Michael Vaughan. In 1979, Richard Carlson married Patricia Swanson, heiress to the Swanson frozen foods empire that perfected the frozen Salisbury steak for hassle-free dinners. She soon legally adopted Tucker and Buckley.  When Lisa died in 2011, her estate was initially divided equally between Tucker, his brother Buckley, and Vaughan. But in 2013, Vaughan's daughter from another marriage found a one-page handwritten document in Lisa's art studio in France that left her assets to her surviving husband with an addendum that stated, "I leave my sons Tucker Swanson McNear Carlson and Buckley Swanson Peck Carlson one dollar each." A protracted battle over Lombardi's estate involving Vaughan and the Carlson brothers wound up in probate court. The Carlsons asserted the will was forged but a forensic witness determined that Lisa had written the note. The case eventually went to the California Appellate Court, which allowed the Carlson brothers to keep their shares in 2019."Lisa was basically sort of a hippie and a free spirit," said one attorney who  represented the Vaughan family and recalled having conversations about the case. "She was very liberal and she did not agree with Tucker's politics. But she stuck the will in the book, everyone forgot about it, and then she passed away."In a 2017 interview with The New Yorker, Tucker described the dissolution of his family as a "totally bizarre situation — which I never talk about, because it was actually not really part of my life at all." Several pieces of art produced by Tucker's mother, Lisa Lombardi, and her then-partner Mo Mcdermott in the home of a California collector.Ted Soqui for InsiderLisa When Lisa left her husband and two young sons, she was escaping suburban family life in favor of the more bohemian existence as an artist. One of Tucker and Buckley's former teachers said their mother's absence "left some sour grapes." "I felt they sided with the father," Rusty Rushton, a former St. George's English teacher said. After the divorce, Lisa returned to Los Angeles and tried to break into the city's thriving contemporary art scene. She befriended Mo McDermott, an LA-based British sculptor, model, and longtime assistant to David Hockney, one of the most influential artists of the 20th century. A few years before he met Lisa, the scene was captured in Jack Hazan's 1974 groundbreaking documentary "A Bigger Splash," which followed Hockney and his coterie of gay male friends idly lounging around the pool in his Hollywood Hills home."When love goes wrong, there's more than two people who suffer," said McDermott, playing a slightly exaggerated version of himself, in a voiceover in the documentary.Lisa and McDermott became a couple and Lisa won admission into Hockney's entourage. Hockney lived a far more reclusive lifestyle than his pop art compatriot Andy Warhol but some four dozen or so artists, photographers, and writers regularly passed through his properties."She was more like a hippie, arty kind of person. I couldn't ever imagine her being a mother," said Joan Quinn, the then-West Coast editor of Andy Warhol's Interview Magazine, who knew Lisa during those years and still owns several of her works. "She was very nervous all the time… She was ill-content."The pair were often seen at Hockney's Hollywood Hills home and at Friday night gallery openings on La Cienega Boulevard. They collaborated on playful, large-scale wood sculptures of animals, vegetables, and trees. A handful of their pieces could be seen around Hockney's hillside ranch."Hockney had me over to meet them. He wanted a gallery to handle their work," said Molly Barnes, who owns a gallery in West Hollywood and gave the pair shows in 1983 and 1984. "They were brilliant and David loved Mo. He thought they were the best artists around.""She was quiet and intellectual and somewhat withdrawn," Barnes said. "She had come from a lot of money and that reflected on her personality. She wasn't a snob in any way but she had the manners of a private school girl and someone who was fighting the establishment."A sculpture by Tucker's mother, Lisa Lombardi, and her then-partner Mo Mcdermott in the home of a California collector.Ted Soqui for InsiderNone of them recall Lisa discussing her two sons. McDermott died in 1988. After his death, Hockney discovered that McDermott had been stealing drawings from him and selling them. Hockney said the betrayal helped bring on a heart attack. "I believe I had a broken heart," Hockney told The Guardian in 1995. (Hockney did not answer multiple inquiries about Lisa or McDermott.)In 1987, Lisa met Vaughan, one of Hockney's peers in the British art scene known as the "Bradford Mafia." They married in February 1989 and for years afterward they lived in homes in the Pyrenees of southwest France and South Carolina's Sea Islands.Lisa continued to make art, primarily oversized, wooden sculptures of everyday household items like peeled lemons and dice, but she exhibited her work infrequently. She died of cancer in 2011, at which point Carlson was a decade into his media career and a regular contributor on Fox News. Richard In contrast to Lisa's privileged upbringing, Richard's childhood was full of loss. Richard's mother was a 15-year-old high school girl who had starved herself during her pregnancy, and he was born with a condition called rickets. Six weeks later, his mother left him at an orphanage in Boston called The Home for Little Wanderers. Richard's father, who was 18, tried to convince her to kidnap the infant and marry him, but she refused. He shot and killed himself two blocks from her home.A Massachusetts couple fostered Richard for two years until he was adopted by a wool broker and his wife, which he described in a 2009 reflection for the Washington Post. His adoptive parents died when he was still a teenager and Richard was sent to the Naval Academy Preparatory School. He later enlisted in the Marines and enrolled in an ROTC program at the University of Mississippi to pay for college.In 1962, Richard developed an itch for journalism while working as a cop in Ocean City, Maryland at the age of 21, and the future NBC political correspondent Catherine Mackin, helped him get a copy boy job at the Los Angeles Times. Richard moved to San Francisco three years later and his career blossomed. He started producing television news features with his friend, Lance Brisson, the son of actress Rosalind Russell. They filmed migrant farm workers in the Imperial Valley living in cardboard abodes in 110 degree weather, traipsed the Sierra Nevada mountains to visit a hermit, and covered the Zodiac Killer and Bay Area riots (during one demonstration in 1966, they sent television feeds from their car where they trapped for four hours  and a crowd roughed up Brisson, which required four stitches under his left eye). Another time, they rented a helicopter in search of a Soviet trawler but they had to jump into the Pacific Ocean when the chopper ran low on fuel near the shore and crashed.In 1969, Richard and Brisson co-wrote an article for Look Magazine that claimed San Francisco Mayor Joseph Alioto had mafia ties. Alioto sued the magazine's owner for libel and won a $350,000 judgment when a judge determined the article's allegations were made with "actual malice" and "reckless disregard for whether they were true or not." (Richard was not a defendant in the case and has stood by his story. Brisson declined an interview.)Richard moved back to Los Angeles to join KABC's investigative team two years later. One series of stories that delved into a three-wheeled sports car called the Dale and the fraudulent marketing practices of its founder, Geraldine Elizabeth Carmichael, won a Peabody award in 1975. The series also outed Carmichael as a transgender woman. (Richard's role in Carmichael's downfall was explored in the HBO documentary "The Lady and the Dale.") Soon after arriving as an anchor for KFMB-TV, San Diego's CBS affiliate, Richard ran a story revealing that tennis pro Renee Richards, who had just won a tournament at the La Jolla Tennis Club, was a transgender woman."I said, 'You can't do this. I am a private person,'" Richards, who years later would advise Caitlyn Jenner about her transition, urged the television journalist to drop his story, according to a 2015 interview. "His reply? 'Dr. Richards, you were a private person until you won that tournament yesterday.'" By the time he left the anchor chair in 1977 to take a public relations job with San Diego Savings and Loan, Richard had soured on journalism. "I have seen a lot of arrogance and hypocrisy in the press and I don't like it," he told San Diego Magazine in 1977. "Television news is insipid, sophomoric, and superficial… There are so many things I think are important and interesting but the media can be counted on to do handstands on that kind of scandal and sexual sensation."Years later, Richard said that he never tried to encourage his eldest son in politics or journalism, but that Tucker had a clear interest in both from an early age. "I never thought he was going to be a reporter or a writer. I never encouraged him to do that," Richard told CSPAN of his eldest son in 2006. "I actually attempted not to encourage him politically, either. I decided those are the things that should be left up to them."A LaJolla, California post card.Found Image Holdings/Corbis via Getty ImagesA La Jolla childhoodAfter the divorce, Richard and his boys stayed in La Jolla in a house overlooking the La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club. Friends of Tucker's would later say that the trauma of their mother's absence brought the three of them closer together.  "They both really admired their dad. He was a great source of wisdom. He's one of the great raconteurs you'll ever meet. They loved that glow that came from him," said Sterne, Tucker's boarding school roommate. "They both looked up to him, it was clear from my eyes."In an essay included in his book "The Long Slide: Thirty Years in American Journalism," Tucker described Richard as a kind parent who imbued family outings with a deeper message.One of Tucker's earliest memories, he writes, was from just after the divorce, when Tucker was seven and Buckley was five: the brothers gripping the edge of a luggage rack on the roof of his family's 1976 Ford Country Squire station wagon, while their father gunned the engine down a dirt road."I've sometimes wondered what car surfing was meant to teach us," Tucker wrote. "Was he trying to instill in us a proper sense of fatalism, the acknowledgement that there is only so much in life you can control? Or was it a lesson about the importance of risk?... Unless you're willing to ride the roof of a speeding station wagon, in other words, you're probably not going to leave your mark on the world."More often, the boys were left unsupervised and found their own trouble. Tucker once took a supermarket shopping cart and raced it down a hill in front of their house with Buckley in its basket. The cart tipped over, leaving Buckley with a bloody nose. He also recalled building makeshift hand grenades with hydrochloric acid and aluminum foil – using a recipe from their father's copy of "The Anarchist Cookbook"  and tossing them onto a nearby golf course."No one I know had a father like mine," Tucker wrote. "My father was funnier and more outrageous, more creative  and less willing to conform, than anyone I knew or have known since. My brother and I had the best time growing up."Richard sent Tucker to La Jolla Country Day, an upscale, largely white private school with a reputation as one of the best in Southern California, for elementary and middle school. In his book, "Ship of Fools: How a Selfish Ruling Class Is Bringing America to the Brink of Revolution," Tucker described his first grade teacher Marianna Raymond as "a living parody of earth-mother liberalism" who "wore long Indian-print skirts," and sobbed at her desk over the world's unfairness. "As a conservative, I had contempt for the whiny mawkishness of liberals. Stop blubbering and teach us to read. That was my position," he wrote. "Mrs. Raymond never did teach us; my father had to hire a tutor to get me through phonics.""I beg to differ," Raymond countered in an interview, saying that she was also Tucker's tutor during the summer after first grade and was even hired again. "I'm a great teacher. I'm sure he liked me." For her part, she remembered Tucker as a fair-haired tot who was "very sweet" and "very polite." (When The Washington Post reached out her her, she said Carlson's characterization had been "shocking.")  Friends from La Jolla remember that Tucker loved swimming the mile-and-a-half distance between La Jolla Shores Park and La Jolla Cove, jumping off cliffs that jut out into the Pacific Ocean, riffing on the drums, and playing Atari and BB gun games at the mall with his friends. "He was a happy kid. We were young, so we used to go to the beach. We did normal kid stuff," said Richard Borkum, a friend who is now a San Diego-based attorney. When they weren't at the beach or the mall, Borkum and another friend, Javier Susteata, would hang out at the Carlson home listening to The Who, AC/DC, and other classic rock bands. Borkum said the adults at the Carlson household largely left them alone. "I'm Jewish and Javier was Mexican and I'm not sure they were too happy we were going to their house," Borkum said.Another friend, Warren Barrett, remembers jamming with Tucker and going snow camping at Big Bear and snorkeling off Catalina Island with him in middle school."Tucker and I literally ate lunch together every day for two years," Barrett said. "He was completely the opposite of now. He was a cool southern California surfer kid. He was the nicest guy, played drums, and had a bunch of friends. And then something must have happened in his life that turned him into this evil diabolical shithead he is today."LaJolla is a upscale beach community outside of San Diego. Carlson and his family moved their in 1975.Slim Aarons/Hulton Archive/Getty ImagesSan Diego's next mayorRichard, meanwhile, was exploring a second career in public service. By 1980, he had risen to vice president of a bank headed by Gordon Luce, a California Republican power broker and former Reagan cabinet official. The following year, Richard's public profile got a boost when he tangled with another veteran television journalist, CBS's Mike Wallace. The 60 Minutes star had interviewed Richard for a story about low-income Californians who faced foreclosures from the bank after borrowing money to buy air conditioners without realizing they put their homes up for collateral. Richard had his own film crew tape the interview, and caught Wallace saying that people who had been defrauded were "probably too busy eating their watermelon and tacos." The remark made national headlines and Wallace was forced to apologize.Pete Wilson, the U.S. Senator and former San Diego mayor, encouraged Richard to run for office. In 1984, Richard entered the race to challenge San Diego Mayor Roger Hedgecock's re-election. "He was a very well-regarded guy," Hedgecock told Insider. "He had an almost Walter Cronkite-like appearance, but because he was in local news he was all about not offending anybody. He didn't have particularly strong views. He was nice looking, articulate, and made good appearances, but what he had to say was not particularly memorable other than he wanted me out of office."Sometimes Tucker tagged along for campaign events. "He would always show up in a sport coat, slacks and a bowtie and I thought that's really nice clothing for someone who is a kid," Hedgecock remembers. He was a very polite young man who didn't say much."Five days before voters went to the polls, Hedgecock went on trial for 15 counts of conspiracy and perjury, an issue that Richard highlighted in his television campaign ads. Richard still lost to Hedgecock 58 to 42 percent despite pouring nearly $800,000 into the race and outspending Hedgecock two to one. (Hedgecock was found guilty of violating campaign finance laws and resigned from office in 1985 but his convictions were overturned on appeal five years later.)People are seen near a beach in La Jolla, California, on April 15, 2020.Gregory Bull/AP PhotoPrep school In the fall of 1983, a teenaged Tucker traded one idyllic beachfront community for another.At 14, Tucker moved across the country to Middletown, Rhode Island, to attend St. George's School. (Buckley would follow him two years later.) The 125-year-old boarding school sits atop a hill overlooking the majestic Atlantic Ocean, and is on the other side of Aquidneck Island where Richard Carlson went to naval school. The private school was known as a repository for children of wealthy East Coast families who were not as academically inclined as those who attended Exeter or Andover. Its campus had dorms named after titans of industry, verdant athletic fields, and a white-sand beach.Senators Claiborne Pell and Prescott Bush graduated, as did Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, and poet Ogden Nash. Tucker's class included "Modern Family" actor Julie Bowen; Dede Gardner, the two-time Oscar-winning producer of "12 Years a Slave" and "Moonlight"; and former DC Entertainment president Diane Nelson. Billy Bush – "Extra" host, and cousin to George W. Bush – was three years behind him.Tuition at St. George's cost $13,000 per year in the 1980s (it's now up to $67,000 for boarding school students) and student schedules were tightly regimented with breakfast, classes, athletics, dinner, and study hall encompassing each day. Students were required to take religion classes, and attend chapel twice a week. Faculty and staff would canvass the dorms on Thursdays and Sundays to ensure no one skipped the Episcopal service. Tucker impressed his new chums as an hyper-articulate merrymaker who frequently challenged upperclassmen who enforced dorm rules and the school's liberal faculty members."He was kind of a California surfer kid. He was funny, very intelligent, and genuinely well-liked," said Bryce Traister, who was one year ahead of Tucker and is now a professor at the University of British Columbia. "There were people who didn't like Tucker because they thought he was a bullshitter but he was very charming. He was a rascal and a fast-talker, as full of shit as he is today."Back then Tucker was an iconoclast more in the mold of Ferris Bueller than preppy neocon Alex P. Keaton, even if his wardrobe resembled the "Family Ties" star. Students were required to wear jackets, ties, and khakis, although most came to class disheveled. Tucker wore well-tailored coats and chinos, pairing his outfit with a ribbon-banded watch and colorful bowtie which would later become his signature. "He was always a very sharp dresser. He had a great rack of ties. He always knew how to tie a bowtie but he didn't exclusively wear a bowtie," said Sterne, Tucker's freshman year roommate. "He always had great clothes. It was a lot of Brooks Brothers." Their crew crew held court in each others' dorm rooms at Auchincloss, the freshman hall, kicking around a Hacky Sack and playing soccer, talking about Adolph Huxley, George Orwell, and Hemingway, and dancing to Tom Petty, the Grateful Dead, and U2 on the campus lawn. Televisions weren't allowed so students listened to their Sony Walkman swapping cassette recordings of live concerts. Tucker introduced several bands to his friends."He loved classic rock and he was and still is a big fan of Jerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead," said Sterne, who saw a Dead show with Tucker at RFK Stadium in 1986.Sometimes the clique got slices at Aquidneck Pizza and played arcade games in town, hung out in history instructor William Schenck's office, and smoked pot and Marlborough Red cigarettes on a porch in the main building's common room that faced the ocean, according to multiple sources. When the school administrators banned smoking indoors the following year so they congregated behind the dumpster behind the dining hall. Vodka (often the brand Popov) mixed with Kool-Aid was the drink of choice and students stockpiled bottles under their beds.Tucker was an enthusiastic drinker, half a dozen classmates recall. In his book, "The Long Slide," Tucker credits Hunter S. Thompson's "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" for enticing him to try drugs in 10th grade, The experience gave him "double vision and a headache." By the time he got to college, Tucker writes, "I switched to beer."By the late 1990s Tucker stopped smoking. He eventually cut alcohol too in 2002 after drinking so much while covering George W. Bush in New Hampshire during the 2000 primary that he accidentally got on the wrong plane, according to a friend.Most of Tucker's fellow students remember him best as a skilled speaker."He was always eager to take the less palatable side of the argument and argue that side," said Mahlon Stewart, who attended prep school and college with Tucker and is now a geriatric specialist at Columbia University. "Back then it was comedic. I thought it was an act.""His confidence was just amazing. He could just put out some positions and be willing to argue anything no matter how outlandish," Keller Kimbrough, a former classmate who's now a professor at the University of Colorado. "We were talking about politics and religion one time Tucker pulled this card out of his wallet and said, 'Well actually I'm an ordained minister, I'm an authority on the subject.' This was a stunt. He could literally play the religion card." "When he got the job at Fox I just thought 'Wow that's perfect for him, that's exactly what he can do.'"Their dorm room discourses were never serious. Tucker would pick a side in a debate between whether the color red or blue were better, and the crowd would erupt whenever he made a good point, friends said.  "Even at age 15 he was verbally dexterous and a great debater," Ian Toll said. "His conservative politics was fully formed even back then. He believed in strong defense and minimal government."His teachers saw a pupil who was primed for law school."Language and speaking came naturally to him. He took pleasure in it," said Rusty Rushton, Tucker's former English teacher. Tucker's politics, though, "seemed fluid to me," Rushton said. "I don't think of him as a deeply ensconced ideologue."He ditched soccer after sophomore year to act in a school theater production of Ayn Rand's courtroom thriller "Night of January 16th" (Julie Bowen starred as the prosecuting attorney. Tucker played a juror). But Tucker found his voice in competitive debate when he eventually joined the school's debate club. The team traveled to other private school campuses to compete against schools like Andover, Exeter, and Roxbury Latin in tournaments."He won some debate and basically did a victory lap afterward and got in the face of all the faculty there," one alum from a rival school who debated against Tucker said. "After defeating the student team, he started challenging the faculty, and said, 'Do any of you want to take me on? Are any of you capable of debating me?'"SusieIn the fall of Tucker's sophomore year, a new headmaster arrived at St. George's, Rev. George Andrews II. Andrews' daughter, Susie – who Tucker would eventually marry – was in Tucker's class. According to school tradition, a rotating group of underclassmen was charged with serving their classmates dinner and, one night in late September, Tucker and Susie had the shift at the same time. "They were sitting at a table at the far end of Queen Hall just leaning in, talking to each other," Sterne recalled. "You could see the sparks flying, which was cool."Susie floated between the school's friend groups easily. When she was seen mingling with Tucker, some questioned what she saw in him."People were saying, 'Come on Susie, why are you dating Tucker?' He's such a loser slacker and she was so sweet," Traister said. The pair started dating at the age of 15 and quickly became inseparable. Tucker gained notoriety on campus for repeatedly sneaking into Susie's room on the second floor of Memorial Schoolhouse, the school's stately administrative office that housed the headmaster's quarters. He had less time for his dumpster buddies now that the couple hung out on the campus lawn, attended chapel and an interdenominational campus ministry organization called FOCUS. His senior yearbook included a photo of Tucker squinting in concern to a classmate, with the caption "What do you mean you told Susie?While Susie was universally liked within the St. George's community, her father was polarizing.Andrews led the school during a turbulent period – it was later revealed – when its choirmaster Franklin Coleman was accused of abusing or having inappropriate conduct with at least 10 male students, according to an independent investigation by the law firm Foley Hoag in 2016. (Two attorneys representing several victims said 40 alumni contacted them with credible accounts of molestation and rape accusations at the hands of St. George's employees between 1974 and 2004 after a 2015 school-issued report detailed 26 accounts of abuse in the 1970s and 1980s. (Coleman was never criminally charged and he has not responded to Insider's attempts to reach him.) Over his eight-year tenure as school music director, from 1980 to 1988, Coleman invited groups of boys to his apartment for private parties. Sometimes he shared alcohol and pot with some of them, gave them back and neck rubs, showed pornographic videos, traveled with them on choral trips and stayed in their hotel rooms, and appeared nude around some of them, the report found. Several of Tucker's classmates and former faculty said they had no reason to believe he would have been aware of the accusations. "There were rumors circulating wildly that Coleman was bad news. The idea was he would cultivate relationships with young men," Ian Toll, a St. George's alum, said. "Anyone who was there at that time would have likely been aware of those rumors."Andrews told Foley Hoag investigators he was not aware of any complaints about Coleman until May 1988 (by then, Tucker had finished his freshman year in college) when school psychiatrist Peter Kosseff wrote a report detailing a firsthand account of misconduct. But Andrews acknowledged to investigators the school could have been aware of "prior questionable conduct" before then, the report said. Andrews fired Coleman in May 1988 after the school confronted Coleman with allegations of misconduct and he did not deny them. According to the investigation, Andrews told students Coleman resigned due to "emotional stress" and that he had the "highest regard and respect for him." On the advice of a school attorney, Andrews did not report the music teacher to child protective services. He also knew that his faculty dean wrote Coleman a letter of recommendation for a job at another school, according to investigators. Andrews left the school a few weeks after Coleman departed. By September 1989, he was named headmaster at St. Andrew's School in Boca Raton, Florida which he led for 18 years. (Andrews declined to speak about Tucker or his tenure at either school.) St. George's, meanwhile, reached an undisclosed settlement with up to 30 abuse survivors in 2016. Coleman found work as a choir director at Tampa Preparatory School in Tampa Bay, Florida before he retired in 2008. Tucker Carlson attended St. George’s School, a boarding school starting at age 14.Dina Rudick/The Boston Globe via Getty ImagesTrinity In the fall of 1987, Tucker enrolled at Trinity College in Hartford, CT, where Rev. Andrews had also attended.Nearly two-thirds of Trinity's student body back then originated from private schools and many came from wealthy backgrounds. Tuition in 1987 cost $11,700 plus an additional $3,720 for room and board—around $27,839 in today's dollars."When the Gulf War broke out" in 1990, one Trinity alum who knew Tucker recalled, "there was a big plywood sign in front of the student center that read, 'Blood for Oil,' and someone else threw a bucket of paint on it."The posh campus was situated in the middle of Hartford, Connecticut, the state's capital and one of its poorest cities. Discussions about race and inequality were sometimes at the forefront of campus politics, but many students avoided engaging in them entirely."There were issues about whether black students should only date other black students, that kind of thing," said Kathleen Werthman, a classmate of Tucker's who now works at a Florida nonprofit for people with disabilities. "My sophomore year, for new students, they had a speaker talking about racism, and one of the students said, 'I never met a black student, how are you supposed to talk to them?' And the idea that only white people can be racist was challenged too."Susie was at Vanderbilt in Nashville, Tennessee. His brother remained in Rhode Island and other prep school friends had fanned out across the East Coast. Tucker moved into a four-bedroom dormitory overlooking the main quad. One suitemate, Neil Patel, was an economics major from Massachusetts who played intramural softball. (They would co-found the Daily Caller together two decades years later.) Other roommates played on the varsity soccer team and they formed a tight-knit group."I remember being struck by him. He was the same way he is now," said Rev. Billy Cerveny, a college friend of Tucker's who's now a pastor at Redbird Nashville. "He was a force of nature. He had a sense of presence and gravitas. You might get into an argument with him, but you end up loving the guy."Tucker often went out of his way to amuse his friends. Once during the spring semester, several activists set up a podium and microphone beneath his dorm window to protest the CIA's on-campus recruitment visits. The demonstration was open-mic so Tucker went up to the stage and told the crowd of about 15 people, "I think you're all a bunch of greasy chicken fuckers.""I think people laughed. He did," Cerveny said. "There was always a small collection of people any time there was an issue who tried to stir the pot in that way. Some people were dismissive and other people loved it, thinking 'Oh we're getting a fight here.'"As a sophomore, Tucker and his friends moved into a dingy three-story house on Crescent Street on the edge of the campus. He ditched his tailored jackets, khakis, and bowties for oversized Levi jeans, t-shirts, and untucked oxford shirts. Tucker commandeered a low-ceilinged room above the front porch with so many windows he had to hang up tapestries to keep out the sun. The tiny alcove had barely enough space for an eight-foot futon and several bookshelves Tucker built himself stacked with books he collected. Friends remember Tucker receiving an 8-by-10 manilla envelope that his father sent through the mail once or twice a month containing dozens of articles from newspapers and magazines.One of Tucker's friends, Cerveny, remembered stopping by Richard's home in Washington, D.C. and finding evidence of his hobbies, including the world's second largest collection of walking sticks."His house was filled with rare canes he collected from all over the world," Cerveny said. "The hallways had really amazing rows of canes hung on hooks that were specially made to mount these things on the house. One used to be a functional shotgun, another one was made out of a giraffe. His dad would pull out newspaper clippings of WWII Navy aircraft carriers. It changed the way I thought about a lot of things. I had never seen anything like that. Who collects canes?"During sophomore year, Tucker's friends decided to rush Delta Phi, a well-to-do fraternity also known as St. Elmo's. The Greek scene had a large presence on campus — about 20 percent of men joined them even though Trinity was a liberal arts school — and St. Elmo's had a reputation as freewheeling scamps. Once a year, a St. Elmo's brother would ride his motorcycle naked through the campus cafeteria. (Faculty voted in 1992 to abolish Greek life saying they were sexist and racist, and school administrators instead forced fraternities to become co-ed.)But Tucker refused to come aboard. Some classmates thought it was because he didn't want to be hazed."Tucker was not a joiner like that," Mahlon Stewart said. "He wouldn't have set himself up for whatever humiliation would have been involved. He would not have put up with that." But Cerveny, who pledged the fraternity, said it was a matter of faith."I remember explicitly him saying 'Look, I want to focus on what my faith is about and I thought this would be a big distraction,'" Cerveny said. "But he was very much in the mix with us. When we moved to a fraternity house [on Broad Street], we asked him to live with us."Tucker occasionally dropped in on his friends' fraternity events and occasionally brought Susie when she visited or Buckley when he drifted into town. Other times they hung out at Baker's Cafe on New Britain Avenue. Mostly Tucker stayed in his room."He was basically a hermit. It wasn't like he was going to a ton of parties" one Trinity St. Elmo's brother said. "He was not a part of the organizational effort of throwing big parties, or encouraging me to join the fraternity." Susie, who didn't drink or smoke, was a moderating influence. "Tucker and Susie had their moral compass pointing north even back then," Sterne said. "Tucker's faith was not something he was focused on in his early years but when he met Susie and he became close to her family, that started to blossom and grow in him. Now it's a huge part of his life."By the time his crew moved to another house on Broad Street, they each acquired vintage motorcycles and tinkered with them in their garage. Tucker owned a 1968 flathead Harley Davidson that barely ran and relied on a red Jeep 4X4 to transport friends around town (the Volkswagen van he had freshman year blew up). He smoked Camel unfiltered cigarettes, sipped bourbon, and occasionally brewed beer in the basement, including a batch he named "Coal Porter," according to GQ.When he wasn't reading outside of his courses or tinkering with his carburetor, Tucker took classes in the humanities and ultimately majored in history. Tucker dabbled in other fields including Russian history, Jewish history, Women's Studies, and Religious Studies, sitting in the back of lecture halls with his friends. Ron Kiener, who taught an introductory level course in Judaism, recalled Tucker performing "poorly" but earning a credit. "He did not get a stellar grade from me," Kiener said. "Based on what he says now he surely didn't get very much out of my courses."But Leslie Desmangles, who led courses in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Myth, Rite, and Sacrament, said Tucker was engaged and likely did just enough to pass his courses even if he wasn't very studious or vocal in class discussions."He was interested in understanding the nature of religious belief and studying different cultures and religions but I'm not sure if he had an interest in diversity," Desmangles said. "He was genuinely interested in ritual since a lot of the Episcopal church is highly ritualistic."Tucker's fascination with religion extended to his extracurricular activities too. He and several friends joined Christian Fellowship, a Bible study group that met weekly and helped the school chaplain lead Sunday services. Some members even volunteered with ConnPIRG, a student advocacy group on hunger and environmental issues, and traveled to Washington D.C. to protest the Gulf War. But Tucker steered clear of campus activism. He spent his free time reading and seeing Blues Traveler, Widespread Panic, and Sting perform when they came through Connecticut. Sometimes he skipped school to follow his favorite band, the Grateful Dead, on tour.He took an interest in Central American politics too. At the end of freshman year, Tucker and Patel traveled to Nicaragua. "We did not have a place to stay or any set plans," Tucker told the Trinity Tripod, his college paper, in March 1990. "It was very spontaneous. We are both extremely political and we felt that getting to know the country and some of its citizens would give us a better perspective on the situation." In February 1990, Tucker returned with three friends to Managua for 10 days to observe Nicaragua's elections. The National Opposition Union's Violetta Chamoro, which was backed by the U.S. government, defeated the leftist Sandinista National Liberation Front Daniel Ortega who had been in power since 1979. A month later Tucker and his classmate Jennifer Barr, who was separately in Nicaragua to observe elections and distribute medical supplies to the Sandinistas, shared their perspectives about their visits to a small crowd at the Faculty Club for the school's Latin America Week. Tucker thought press coverage of the election was too left-leaning and criticized the media for skewing a conservative victory, according to Barr."I don't think it was necessarily true," Barr said. "He was dismissive [about my views]. I did get a sense that he believed in what he was saying, and it was very different from my experience and my understanding of the race."Tucker's stance on U.S. politics at the time was less didactic. As the 1992 presidential election loomed his senior year, Tucker touted the independent candidacy of Ross Perot, a Texas business magnate, to his friends although it did not appear that Tucker was an ardent supporter."Tucker would go on and on about how Ross Perot was the answer to this or that, as a joke, and every one would participate" one St. Elmo's brother said. "He liked the way Ross Perot was basically throwing a wrench into the system. He wasn't a serious Ross Perot proponent. He was cheering on somebody who was screwing up the system."In Tucker's college yearbook, below his tousle-haired, bowtie wearing thumbnail photo, was a list of his extra-curricular activities: "History; Christian Fellowship 1 2 3 4, Jesse Helms Foundation, Dan White Society." Neither of the latter two – named, respectively, after the ultra-conservative North Carolina Senator, and a San Francisco supervisor who assassinated Harvey Milk in 1978 – ever existed. Tucker admired Helms for being a "bull in the china shop" of Congress, one classmate said. Some friends believed Tucker slipped in the off-color references as a lark."It's like a joke you and a friend would put in a series of anagrams that only you and two friends would remember and no one else would," the St. Elmo's friend said. "It's so niche that only someone like Tucker is thinking things like that or would even know the name of the person who killed Harvey Milk. He paid attention to things like that."Others claimed Tucker was the victim of a prank."It would not at all surprise me if one of the other guys in the [fraternity] house filled it in for him, and not just an inside joke, but pegging him with something that he got grief for," another close friend said. Protesters rally against Fox News outside the Fox News headquarters at the News Corporation building, March 13, 2019 in New York City.Drew Angerer/Getty ImagesAn outsider among insidersBy the spring of 1991, Tucker's academic performance had caught up with him. He had accumulated a 1.9 grade point average and may have finished with a 2.1 GPA, according to one faculty member who viewed a copy of his transcript. Tucker would eventually graduate from Trinity a year late. Falling behind was not uncommon. About 80 percent of Trinity students completed their degrees in four years, according to Trinity College records. (A Trinity spokeswoman would not comment on Tucker's transcript due to FERPA laws, which protect student privacy.Tucker's post-collegiate plans fell through too. Tucker applied to the CIA that spring. The spy agency passed."He mentioned that he had applied and they rejected him because of his drug use," another college friend said, while declining to be named. "He was too honest on his application. I also probably should say I don't know whether he was telling the truth or not." Once the school year was over, Tucker and Neil Patel hit the road on a cross-country motorcycle ride. After that: Washington DC.  Tucker's family left Southern California for Georgetown after President Reagan named his father head of Voice of America. In June 1991, President George H.W. Bush appointed Richard ambassador to the Seychelles and the Carlson family upgraded to a nicer house in Georgetown with a pool in the basement. That summer, with Tucker's father and stepmother often out of town, the Carlson household was the center of Tucker's social lives, the place they retired to after a night drinking at Georgetown college dive bars like Charing Cross and Third Edition, and pubs like Martin's Tavern and The Tombs, immortalized in St. Elmo's Fire. In August, Tucker and Susie got married in St. George's chapel and held a reception at the Clambake Club of Newport, overlooking the Narragansett Bay. Back in Washington, Tucker's prep school, college, and his father's Washington-based networks began to mesh. Tucker took a $14,000-a-year job as an assistant editor and fact checker of Policy Review, a quarterly journal published at the time by the Heritage Foundation, the nation's leading conservative think tank. For the next three decades, Tucker thrived in the Beltway: He joined The Weekly Standard and wrote for several magazines before appearing on cable news networks as a right-of-center analyst and host at CNN, PBS, and MSNBC. His father embarked on a third career as a television executive where he ran the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and his brother became a political operative and a pollster. By the time Tucker reached the core of the conservative media sphere, a slot on Fox News's primetime opinion lineup, he shed friends from his youth who couldn't grapple with the hard-right turn he veered once he became the face of the network.One friend was not surprised with Tucker's act. In the spring of 2016, during the heat of Donald Trump's presidential campaign against Hilary Clinton and a few months before "Tucker Carlson Tonight" premiered on Fox, Tucker had lunch with his old prep school classmate Richard Wayner who made the speech about Eleanor Bumpurs all those years ago. Wayner believed Tucker's gesture from his pew was never serious. "As a 9th or 10th grader in a chapel full of people in a conversation, he was trying to get attention," Wayner said.The two stayed in touch over the years and Tucker at one point suggested he write a handful of pieces for the Daily Caller, the conservative news and opinion site that Tucker co-founded and ran in the 2010s. As they settled into their table at a Midtown Manhattan steakhouse, the two chatted about Wayner's experience on the board of St. George's (which Susie was about to join) and their respective careers. Tucker was floating around at Fox, and Wayner, now an investor and former Goldman Sachs investment banker, said the conversation drifted toward salaries."He was asking, 'How much do you make on Wall Street' and was like, 'Wow, Wall Street guys make a lot.'" Wayner said. When they left the restaurant and headed back toward the Fox News headquarters, several people recognized Tucker on the street even though he had jettisoned his trademark bowtie years ago. Wayner saw Tucker making the pragmatic decision to follow a business model that has made his conservative media counterparts a lot of money."I don't think he has a mission. I don't think he has a plan," Wayner said. "Where he is right now is about as great as whatever he thought he could be.""Tucker knows better. He does. He can get some attention, money, or both." he added. "To me, that's a shame. Because he knows better." Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderMay 5th, 2022

To Spy On A Trump Aide, The FBI Pursued A Dossier Rumor The Press Shot Down As "Bulls**t"

To Spy On A Trump Aide, The FBI Pursued A Dossier Rumor The Press Shot Down As 'Bulls**t' Authored by Paul Sperry via RealClear Investigations, The FBI decision to spy on a former Trump campaign adviser hinged on an unsubstantiated rumor from a Clinton campaign-paid dossier that the Washington Post's Moscow sources had quickly shot down as “bullshit” and “impossible,” according to emails disclosed last week to a D.C. court hearing the criminal case of a Clinton lawyer accused of lying to the FBI. AP Though the FBI presumably had access to better sources than the newspaper, agents did little to verify the rumor that Trump foreign policy adviser Carter Page had secretly met with sanctioned Kremlin officials in Moscow. Instead, the bureau pounced on the dossier report the day it received it, immediately plugging the rumor into an application under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to wiretap Page as a suspected Russian agent. The allegation, peddled to both the press and FBI in the summer of 2016 by Fusion GPS, an opposition research firm hired by Hillary Clinton’s campaign to dig up dirt on Trump during the presidential race, proved to be the linchpin in winning approval for the 2016 warrant, which was renewed three times in 2017 – even though the FBI learned there were serious holes in the story and had failed to independently corroborate it. The revelations of early media skepticism about the Trump-Russia narrative before journalists embraced it are included in a 62-page batch of emails between Fusion and prominent Beltway reporters released by Special Counsel John Durham, who is scouring the FBI’s investigation of the Trump campaign for evidence of abuse and criminal wrongdoing. The documents suggest that some journalists, as keen as they were to report dirt on Trump, were nevertheless more cautious than FBI investigators about embracing hearsay information served up by Clinton agents. (The FBI declined comment.) The new material also offers a look at the lengths to which those working on Clinton’s behalf went in order to seed the government with unverified rumors about Trump and Russia that amounted to a disinformation campaign. Among those targeted were powerful Democratic members of Congress, including House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, who proved to be a willing collaborator. Trump as 'Manchurian Candidate' The story of high-level Kremlin meetings didn’t ring true with some in the press, who checked with sources in Moscow and pushed back on Fusion GPS. But journalists’ interest in the story remained high during the campaign. In an interview, Page said he was flooded with calls during the summer of 2016 from Washington journalists, including veteran reporters from the Washington Post, the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. He said Fusion had misled them into believing they were working on the story of their lifetimes – that a real-life “Manchurian candidate,” or Russian sleeper agent, was running for president. “Each news outlet kept calling me,” he said. “One by one.” Page said he strenuously denied the accusations. “It was B.S.,” he said. “I tried to warn them.” Peter Fritsch and Glenn Simpson of Fusion GPS: Journalists were skeptical, at least for a time. YouTube/NBC News As eager as journalists may have been to make Trump appear to be a Kremlin operative, some were skeptical about what Fusion was telling them about Page. Among those were now former Wall Street Journal foreign affairs correspondent Jay Solomon, who used “Manchurian candidate” in a July 2016 email exchange with Fusion, expressing his doubt. “Everyone wants shit on this,” insisted Fusion co-founder Peter Fritsch, a former Journal reporter himself, in an attempt to coax his old colleague Solomon into covering the story. Fritsch then outlined the rumors Fusion had just received from Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence officer his firm had hired to help tie Trump to Russia as part of its contract with the Clinton campaign. Those rumors, contained in a series of memos known as the Steele dossier, were shared with the FBI, including “Intelligence Report 94” dated July 19, 2016. It claimed that during a July 2016 trip to Moscow, Page attended a "secret meeting" with Putin crony Igor Sechin to discuss lifting Ukraine-related sanctions against Russia. The dossier also alleged that Page met with Kremlin official Igor Divyekin to share compromising information about Clinton with the Trump campaign. An 'Easy Scoop,' Said GPS “The easy scoop waiting for confirmation: that dude carter page met with igor sechin when he went to moscow earlier this month,” Fritsch stated in a July 26, 2016, email pitching the story to Solomon. "sechin discussed energy deals and possible lifting of sanctions on himself et al. he also met with a senior kremlin official called divyekin, who told page they have good kompromat on hillary and offered to help. he also warned page they have good kompromat on the donald.” (“Kompromat” is compromising information typically used in blackmail.) Added Fritsch, referring in part to the mass leak of Democratic emails by WikiLeaks before the 2016 Democratic National Convention in late July: “needless to say, a senior trump advisor meeting with a former kgb official close to putin, who is on a treasury sanctions list, days before the republican convention and a big russian-backed wikileak would be huge news.” Indeed it would be – if it were true. “Thanks for this,” Solomon said. “Will run down.” But later that day, Solomon reported back that “Page is neither confirming nor denying,” so Fritsch suggested he “call adam schiff or difi,” referring to the then-ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee. It is not clear what information Fritsch expected the two Democrats to provide. (Schiff would later read the same raw dossier rumors about Page into the congressional record during a public hearing about Trump’s alleged Russian ties.) Three days later, Fusion's attempts to plant their rumor in influential media outlets hit more resistance. Another Journal alumnus, Tom Hamburger, said he was “getting kick back” while trying to confirm the rumor for the Washington Post, where he worked on the paper’s national desk. “That Page met with Sechin or Ivanov. 'Its [sic] bullshit. Impossible,’ said one of our Moscow sources,” Hamburger reported back to Fusion co-founder Glenn Simpson, who also previously worked for the Journal. (The rumor included Sergei Ivanov, a top Putin aide.) The Post’s Moscow bureau chief at the time was David Filipov. Hamburger added that another reporter he knew “doesn’t like this story” and was passing on it. “No worries, I don’t expect lots of people to believe it,” Simpson replied. “It is, indeed, hard to believe.” As Fusion was pushing the rumors to reporters that July, its subcontractor Steele was pushing them to FBI agents, who received copies of his dossier earlier in the month. Steele also briefed a top Justice Department official, Bruce Ohr, on the Carter Page rumors on July 30 during a breakfast at the Mayflower Hotel in D.C., and asked Ohr to relay them to FBI brass. The next day, the FBI officially opened its Crossfire Hurricane investigation targeting Trump advisers – though the bureau says this decision was based on a tip it had received from an Australian diplomat. For his part, Hamburger still pursued the story, asking for documents on Page later that month; and Fusion recycled the false rumor in an internal report, separate from the Steele dossier, which it emailed to Hamburger and another Post reporter in September.  The report, which Fritsch claimed that “one of our [research] associates wrote,” went beyond even the dossier. It asserted that Page’s July 8 speech at the New Economic School in Moscow (where President Obama had also once spoken) was “concocted to give Page a public explanation for his trip to Moscow, which sources say included secret meetings with top Kremlin officials, where the American presidential campaign and U.S. sanctions against Russia were both discussed.” Fritsch did not say who the Fusion “sources” were. But around the same time, he and Simpson brought Steele to Washington to brief journalists from the Post, the New York Times, CNN, and Yahoo News on Page in a private room at the Tabard Inn, a hotel-bar long a favorite of Washington scribes. Fusion had finally found a media outlet to take the bait it had been chumming out to reporters for months. After meeting with Steele for about an hour, Yahoo News’ Michael Isikoff ran with the rumors in a September 23 online article, which the FBI then used to corroborate the dossier in its initial October 2016 FISA application, even though the supposed corroboration was redundant: Steele and his dossier were Isikoff’s source for the story. (Isikoff, who did not respond to requests for comment, would later write in a 2018 book he co-authored, “Russian Roulette,” that the rumors about Page were just “pillow talk.”) The Clinton campaign jumped on what it called Isikoff’s “bombshell report" and heavily promoted it on social media. Clinton campaign official Glen Caplin issued a statement republishing the Yahoo piece in full and proclaiming: "It's chilling to learn that U.S. intelligence officials are conducting a probe into suspected meetings between Trump's foreign policy adviser Carter Page and members of Putin's inner circle while in Moscow … [T]his report suggests Page met with a sanctioned top Russian official to discuss the possibility of ending U.S. sanctions against Russia under a Trump presidency – an action that could directly enrich both Trump and Page while undermining American interests.” Added Caplin: "This is serious business and voters deserve the facts before election day." But the media never reported the real facts behind the story – that it was all based on Clinton campaign opposition research – which allowed the rumors to survive without any real scrutiny for years. The Washington Post eventually stopped paying attention to the red flags surrounding the dossier. The newspaper seized on other rumors Fusion fed reporters from the Clinton-paid document. Hamburger, for one, later bit on a tip that the source for the most explosive allegations in the dossier was a Trump supporter with Kremlin ties. He reported in 2017 that Sergei Millian was behind the claim that Russian President Vladimir Putin had compromising sex tapes of Trump and that he and Trump were engaged in a “well-developed conspiracy” to steal the 2016 election. However, the Post had to retract his stories after Special Counsel John Durham last year disclosed that Millian was fabricated as a source. The prosecutor indicted Steele’s “primary subsource,” Igor Danchenko, for lying to the FBI when he told agents that Millian was a source for the dossier. Millian had nothing to do with the dossier, as RCI reported. Danchenko, who awaits trial, apparently made it all up. Hamburger did not respond to repeated requests for comment. 'Pushed It Over' the Line Carter Page, who is suing the former corporate parent of Yahoo News for defamation, suggested anti-Trump bias blinded the media to glaring problems with the dossier. But even more alarming, he said, is how FBI leaders, whose text messages reveal that they shared the media’s hatred for Trump, were even more reckless in gunning for him. Page said it’s outrageous that, at least initially, the press seemed to have “higher ethical standards” than FBI headquarters. On Sept. 19, 2016, the FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane team formally received Steele’s dossier Report 94 alleging Page’s secret Kremlin meetings, according to Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz, who detailed the FBI’s handling of the rumors in a 2019 report. That same day, the team began discussions with department lawyers "to consider Steele's reporting as part of a FISA application targeting Carter Page.” In an email to attorneys, FBI Supervisory Intelligence Analyst Brian Auten forwarded an excerpt from Steele's report and asked, "Does this put us at least *that* much closer to a full FISA on [Carter Page]?” The FBI agent handling the case said the rumors from Steele "supplied missing information in terms of what Page may have been doing during his July 2016 visit to Moscow." The attorneys thought it was a "close call" when they first discussed a FISA targeting Page in early August, Horowitz relayed in his report, but the Steele reporting in September "pushed it over" the line in terms of establishing probable cause.  In the run-up to the FBI securing approval for the FISA request in late October 2016, the bureau tasked an undercover informant, Stefan Halper, to question Page about the alleged meetings with Kremlin officials. Halper struck out. In a conversation Halper recorded surreptitiously, Page not only denied huddling with Sechin and Divyekin but said he had never even heard of Divyekin. The FBI decided not to include these inconvenient facts in its FISA warrant application, an omission the Justice Department’s inspector general found striking. "The application did not contain these denials even though the application relied upon the allegations in Report 94 that Page had secret meetings with both Sechin and Divyekin,” the Horowitz report noted. It wasn’t the only exculpatory evidence the FBI left out of its FISA applications. It also omitted information it possessed showing that Page, who had once worked in Moscow as a Merrill Lynch investment banker, had earlier assisted the FBI in catching a Russian spy, as RealClearInvestigations first reported. The former Navy lieutenant also previously helped the CIA monitor Russia, something an FBI attorney deliberately hid from the FISA court. (The lawyer, Kevin Clinesmith, was recently convicted of charges related to his doctoring of a government email documenting Page’s role as a CIA source.) In early 2017, as the FBI was preparing to reapply for wiretaps on Page, Steele's primary subsource Danchenko told Auten and other FBI officials that he had made it clear to Steele that he had only heard a rumor that such clandestine meetings might take place but not that they actually occurred as Steele wrote in his dossier. The FBI nonetheless omitted from subsequent FISA renewal applications the revelation of Danchenko backing away from the critical piece of information supporting probable cause and admitting it was merely hearsay. In the end, “The FBI was unable to determine whether a meeting between Sechin and Page took place,” Horowitz wrote in his report. Page said it’s “chilling” that the nation’s most powerful police force could act so cavalierly, disregarding basic investigative procedures like verifying tips and rumors before obtaining wiretaps on a U.S. citizen. Worse, he said, is how the FBI misled the secret FISA court. In a 2020 review of the applications, the powerful court determined that at least two of the surveillance warrants were invalid and therefore illegal. Page is now suing both the FBI and Justice Department for $75 million for violating his constitutional rights. Tyler Durden Wed, 05/04/2022 - 21:40.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeMay 4th, 2022

China"s Belt-And-Road Comes To America"s Heartland, Part 2: This Is Not The End

China's Belt-And-Road Comes To America's Heartland, Part 2: This Is Not The End Authored by Fortis Analysis via Human Terrain, Earlier this year, Fortis Analysis released details on the proposal by Fufeng Group, a CCP-connected company, to build a wet corn mill and amino acid production facility in Grand Forks, ND. In conducting further research, interviewing local residents, and working with recognized experts in national security and United States trade law, it is more and more clear that the Grand Forks city council and mayor Brandon Bochenski are both economically and constitutionally illiterate. Pictured: Fufeng USA Chief Operating Officer Eric Chutorash, speaking to Grand Forks City Council A single line of inquiry into this project is impossible, so we will work to highlight a range of domains where this project falls short of both good sense and the law of the land. To that end, let’s first explore the FAQ on this project released by the Grand Forks Regional Economic Development Council. There are numerous claims so easily rebutted that making them is either knowingly spreading false information, or an inexcusable lack of attention (or ability) to performing due diligence. A selection: CLAIM: ”Fufeng USA is a global leading bio-fermentation company manufacturing products that serve fast-growing animal nutrition. Their headquarters is in Chicago, Ill. Fufeng USA has chosen to invest in Grand Forks to establish a wet corn mill processing plant in the United States.” FACT: Fufeng USA Incorporated was established in the United States at the address of a private residence in Wheaton, IL. As of this writing, Fufeng USA Incorporated imports to the United States using the same Wheaton location as its official consignee address registered with US Customs and Border Protection. Another Fufeng USA corporate address noted on the Chicago Chinatown Chamber of Commerce website (under the “Manufacturers” section) is located inside a multi-tenant office building in Oak Brook, IL. This entity is wholly-owned by Fufeng USA Holdings Limited, which is domiciled in Hong Kong, and is itself wholly-owned by Trans-Asia Capital Resources Ltd., also domiciled in Hong Kong. Trans-Asia Capital Resources Ltd. is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Fufeng Group, which has its principal place of business in Junan in the Shandong Province of China. It is beyond a stretch to say that Fufeng USA is anything more than a shell company to facilitate Fufeng Group’s ability to do business in the United States. This information comes directly from Fufeng Group’s annual report for 2020, published in 2021. CLAIM: “The North Dakota Trade Office has done a search for illegal import/export activity for Fufeng USA and its principles. No red flags or areas of concern were found. NDTO resources include access to 30 federal databases. Fufeng USA has been operating in the United States since 2020. Also, First Biotech, Inc., a Fufeng USA subsidiary, has been doing business in the US for over 10 years. Both have filed federal taxes in the US and have established international banking accounts with large financial institutions that have significant federal oversight. The company will be subject to all the same US laws, regulations, and oversight and any US company. Fufeng USA Group is publicly traded on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. The US Securities and Exchange Commission has a supervisory oversight relationship with the Exchange. Fufeng USA Group has many US and European institutional investors including TreeTop Management, Vanguard, Fidelity, Mellon, and Blackrock, all heavily regulated.” FACT: This is, quite simply, a word salad intended to obscure the real issue at stake here - the absence of correct and proper due diligence. The United States has multiple layers of regulatory oversight beyond basic financial oversight, few if any of which have been notified by GFREDC, the city, or Fufeng, let alone conducted formal inquiries. One other point that must be noted is that “Fufeng USA Group” is not a real entity, nor is any Fufeng USA entity “publicly traded on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange”. The publicly-traded entity is the ultimate parent company, Fufeng Group Limited. More detailed explorations of these points follow further in this analysis. In short, the absurd and incorrect statement that a cursory review of trade databases and some correctly-filed taxes is sufficient proof of Fufeng’s safety to national security should embarrass all involved in this process. CLAIM: “The development of the Fufeng USA plant will create a local market for corn and improve pricing. Regional farmers will have the option to sell to elevators or Fufeng USA. The North Dakota Corn Growers Association, a farmer led membership organization focused on policy that impacts North Dakota corn producers, were pleased with the announcement that Fufeng USA will establish a wet corn mill in Grand Forks. They issued a press release indicating the project will have tremendous value to regional farmers.” FACT: The claim made elsewhere by the city about the economic impact to farmers betrays a startling ignorance about the mechanisms of grain production and sales. The estimate of $.20 to $.40 per bushel of corn in premium versus current market conditions was not derived from careful analysis conducted by third-party experts. When pressed on the matter by Shaun Beauclair, himself a farmer and former board member of a regional corn processing facility, the GFREDC admitted that the premium assumption was given by a single farmer. In a February interview with AgWeek about the Fufeng project, Dr. Frayne Olson of North Dakota State University said that he believes the $.40 per bushel claim is only realistic for the first year or two to incentivize sales to the corn mill. Once the market settles back in future years, the realistic premium is closer to $.10 to $.20 per bushel. In practice, the grain elevators in the area who do not have direct interest in a value-added market for their purchased corn will quickly be faced with the choice of becoming a de facto origination and storage facility for Fufeng, or closing their doors. As one can see from this selection of “facts”, the Grand Forks Regional Economic Development Council has not done its best work to provide complete or accurate information to its stakeholders. Now, if this was the only vector of misinformation and all others involved were honest brokers, one might understand how an economic development group would choose to shade the truth a bit in order to bring a splashy, high-revenue project to town. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Multiple other individuals in positions of city leadership have also willingly promoted dishonest talking points, or chosen unscrupulous partners for the city, all in the interest of pushing the project forward. Let’s examine a few of these. Fufeng Group Has No Financial Connection to the Chinese Government On November 17, 2021, in a publicly-posted comment on his official Facebook account, Grand Forks mayor Brandon Bochenski stated that: “…the company is an American subsidiary of a publicly traded company that has zero govt. ownership. They are investing in an American facility built by American contractors, using American corn stock to produce products sold in America and manufactured by American workers. The company is more American than Apple, Nike and Amazon quite frankly in the global economy of today.” Members of the city council have used similar talking points in publicly-available council discussions. Now, this particular formulation of the zero-affiliation claim is intended to reassure listeners that as Fufeng Group Limited is a publicly-traded company on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange (a subsidiary of HKEx, or Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing), it is not reasonable to believe that the firm or any of its subsidiaries would choose (or be forced) to act in any way outside the direct fiduciary interests of its global shareholders. A complete overview of the complicated (and compromised) relationship between the HKEx and the Chinese Communist Party is beyond the scope of this piece, but for now, the following data will more than suffice to rebut this talking point. HKEx’s largest single shareholder is the Hong Kong Government, which also has the right to appoint six of thirteen directors to HKEx’s board. This matters for a number of reasons, but perhaps the most important is the Hong Kong national security law unanimously passed by China’s Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress on 30 June 2020 in the wake of widespread pro-democracy protests throughout Hong Kong. Among the various deeply anti-democratic provisions of the law are the requirement that companies listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange act in accordance with the security directives of a secret body called the Committee for Safeguarding National Security. This entity has the ability to at any time investigate, indict, prosecute, or ruin any non-compliant company who has any business interest in Hong Kong - and extend these enforcement protocols anywhere in the world in violation of sovereign law and international norms. It is impossible to believe that HKEx will push back in any way if the Chinese Communist Party directs Fufeng Group to perform certain actions or disclose confidential business, community, or employee information in any of its subsidiaries - including Fufeng USA Incorporated. In simplified form, if the secret national security entity in mainland China or Hong Kong creates any pretext whatsoever, it will be able to force Fufeng USA to reveal all personal details of any employee, contractor, or even guests of the corn mill, regardless of the laws of the United States. This is an extremely important detail that as of yet, has not been properly addressed by Fufeng or city officials. Moreover, it is not even accurate to say that Fufeng Group does not have a financial connection to the Chinese government. In the same annual report referenced earlier, Fufeng Group Limited lists an interesting disclosure: a 30% ownership stake in Jilin COFCO Biomaterial Co Ltd. This joint venture between Fufeng Group and China Oil and Foodstuffs Corporation (COFCO) is notable because COFCO is the largest agribusiness in China, and is a 100% state-owned enterprise under the management of the hyperpowerful State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of the State Council (SASAC). Note that SASAC manages numerous entities that are currently sanctioned by the United States for espionage activities, use of forced labor in Xinjiang and elsewhere, and violation of international treaties or laws. Though COFCO has as yet not been similarly sanctioned, it is important to note that its sister companies under SASAC were penalized for carrying out the will of the Chinese Communist Party, and that COFCO can at any time be similarly leveraged by the CCP to perform illegal activities against the United States. As with numerous other claims made by the North Dakota Trade Office, Mayor Bochenski, GFREDC, and the Grand Forks city council, one cannot help but wonder how much due diligence has actually been put into this project. The City Is Taking All Appropriate Steps to Examine the Impact on U.S. National Security Interests This omnibus talking point, used repeatedly by city officials, is also completely inaccurate. There are numerous checks and balances that exist at the federal level concerning real estate acquisitions and foreign investments into the U.S. economy. The most well-known of these, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), is a multi-agency group under the Executive Branch that has the mandate of reviewing transactions by foreign entities into companies or technologies designated as “critical” to national security, and/or real estate transactions located within 100 miles of designated military installations. An examination of the facts shows that the Fufeng project may fall into the category of a “covered real estate transaction”, which means CFIUS expects voluntary disclosure of the project’s details. The risk is that if stakeholders do not disclose and CFIUS chooses to open an inquiry at some point, then an adverse finding from CFIUS will result in significant penalties for all involved, up to and including the forced sale of the property and assets to an approved third party. That the city and county have been courting Fufeng Group since mid-2020 and as of yet have not sought out independent legal review for compliance with FIRRMA (the law governing CFIUS’ activities), or submitted for a free voluntary review with CFIUS since the public reveal of this project in November 2021, does not argue well for the city council’s competence or motives in continuing to ignore public outcry and push the process forward at a breakneck pace. Another talking point used by the city and GFREDC is that the county and city’s “base retention” consultant, retired USAF General David Deptula, has reviewed the proposal and discussed it with the leadership at Grand Forks Air Force Base. The claim is that no one has issued an objection to the Fufeng proposal. There are a few things about this, however, that raise red flags. First, Deptula was the subject of a multi-year investigation by Department of Defense into illicit contracting activities and fraud while he was in uniform. In February 2015, Deptula agreed with the Department of Justice to pay a fine of $125,000, and was barred by the Air Force from conducting business with the federal government from November 2014 to February 2016. Despite this, the Grand Forks city council continues to authorize a $5,000 per month direct payment to The Deptula Group (Deptula’s lobbying and consulting firm) for base retention activities. When questioned about this, city council president Dana Sande initially insisted that Grand Forks County employs Deptula, not the city. After being reminded of the monthly expense approved by Sande and the rest of the city council, Sande admitted that the city pays a portion of the funding for base retention activities, but the county is in charge of selecting and coordinating with Deptula. However, a review of the county’s 2021 budget does not show a request or approval for funding to be allocated under the Base Retention line item, nor do county minutes throughout 2021 show approvals to remit any funds to Deptula, his company, or for base retention activities. It is possible that the county has allocated funding under a different line item to pay for Deptula’s services, but such is not noted. However, if the county is indeed not contributing to paying Deptula, then the city of Grand Forks appears to be willingly carrying the cost of Mr. Deptula for “base retention” activities, even as the Air Force already publicly committed in 2021 to expanding the base’s role and increasing its footprint in Grand Forks. Regardless, the ongoing payment of Deptula for at least $5,000 per month from city funds reflects the council’s comfort with employing fixers who have a questionable at best code of ethics when it comes to personal enrichment at the expense of taxpayers. Moreover, it is not for the leadership of the local military installation to make a determination on if a particular project is compliant with national security regulations. Thus, the constant talking points by city officials that Grand Forks Air Force Base has reviewed the project and not issued a complaint is misleading and wholly incorrect. The base leadership cannot review and rule on the Fufeng project, or any other potential commercial investment by foreign entities in the area of the base. The fact that city officials have continuously asserted that the Grand Forks Air Force Base commander has done so is incorrect, and jeopardizes the careers of both the commanding officer and any active duty personnel so connected to the claim. It also opens the door to civilian law enforcement involvement, as active duty military personnel allegedly issuing inappropriate and unauthorized statements in support of foreign investment may also entangle the civilians making such claims into criminal or civil charges. This is a tightrope for city officials to publicly walk, and it would seem from the outside that they have created a fiasco in the making in their haste to justify a lack of responsible and legal due diligence. There Are No Other Conflicts of Interest on the City Council with This Project Before each City Council vote on this project, the council brings up councilmember Jeannie Mock’s conflict of interest in the project and votes to force her to abstain. Mock’s company, AE2S, was involved in the preparation of land-use and infrastructure data before the project was publicly revealed, as can be seen on Slide 12 of the city’s pitch deck for the project. It is not known for certain how Mock would vote on the project, but it is proper for her to abstain on the basis of conflicts of interests and good ethics. However, there are other potential future conflicts of interest on the council not discussed or considered as exclusionary by the council. Kyle Kvamme is employed by ICON Architectural Group, a regional commercial project design firm headquartered in Grand Forks. Kvamme is the Director of Community Engagement and Project Development. He also recently became an owner in the firm. ICON is an obvious potential beneficiary of such a massive development as Fufeng’s, being a prominent local firm specializing in the design of buildings and layouts for large-scope projects. Bret Weber, who has been one of the most supportive voices on the council for the Fufeng project, is employed by the University of North Dakota as Department Chair and Professor of Social Work. Also employed by UND is Danny Weigel, who is the Investigations Commander and Public Information Officer for the UND Police force. Both have disclaimed any conflicts of interest. However, neither has disclosed that Fufeng USA is a tenant of the UND Center for Innovation, the university’s on-campus “entrepreneurial incubator”. Nor has Weigel shared if he has conducted any background checks on Fufeng Group or its representatives prior to them establishing occupancy in campus facilities. It is currently unknown if Fufeng USA is simply paying rent for part of the Center’s co-working office space in order to have a local presence, or if the company is a more integrated user of Center resources, such as the wet lab. The Center touts the wet lab as such: “High tech, bioscience, and scientific companies are all welcome at the UND Center for Innovation. Our state of the art wet lab makes innovations happen.” Given that Fufeng USA is, fundamentally, a biotech company that must cultivate and maintain various strains of bacteria to manufacture amino acids, it is not unreasonable to assume that the company has been, or will be, a major stakeholder in the Center. As the university already financially benefits from Fufeng’s presence in Grand Forks, the full scope of UND’s interest in current and future projects involving Fufeng should be disclosed. So, too, should it be considered a potential conflict of interest for university employees to vote as city council members on favorable considerations for a company that is an active revenue stream for the entity that cuts their paychecks. The obvious rebuttal of “it’s a drop in the bucket in the university’s overall revenue stream” is beside the point, and frankly, is an inappropriate attitude for a public official to hold. Just as with the city utilizing a disgraced former general to help gain Department of Defense approval for the project, or Weber indicating in the March 7th city council meeting that he feels public concerns about the project’s impact to national security are overblown, it seems that a number of city officials involved with this project are willing to excuse impropriety and ethical lapses as the cost of doing business with Chinese companies. Fufeng USA and Its Parent Companies Have No Known Connection to Forced Labor or Human Rights Crimes In China This is the murkiest and most troubling of all the accusations Fortis Analysis and other groups have leveled against Fufeng, yet has been hand-waived away by project proponents as unfounded innuendo because the firm has not been sanctioned specifically by U.S. authorities. But like most of the complex issues involved with this project, such casual dismissals betray a malignant ignorance of how and why sanctions law functions as it does in our nation. Fortunately for the Grand Forks city officials, we are here to provide accurate and detailed information that can help those officials make informed decisions in line with their sworn duty to their offices. The United States takes very seriously the issue of China’s human rights abuses, particularly in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of western China. In fact, the devastating suppression of non-Han ethnic groups in Xinjiang has been so intense that on 13 July 2021, the U.S. State Department issued its “Xinjiang Supply Chain Business Advisory”, with the summary reading as such: The People’s Republic of China (PRC) government continues to carry out genocide and crimes against humanity against Uyghurs and members of other ethnic and religious minority groups in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (Xinjiang), China. The PRC’s crimes against humanity include imprisonment, torture, rape, forced sterilization, and persecution, including through forced labor and the imposition of draconian restrictions on freedom of religion or belief, freedom of expression, and freedom of movement. Businesses, individuals, and other persons, including but not limited to investors, consultants, labor brokers, academic institutions, and research service providers (hereafter “businesses and individuals”) with potential exposure to or connection with operations, supply chains, or laborers from the Xinjiang-region, should be aware of the significant reputational, economic, and legal risks of involvement with entities or individuals in or linked to Xinjiang that engage in human rights abuses, including but not limited to forced labor and intrusive surveillance. Given the severity and extent of these abuses, including widespread, state-sponsored forced labor and intrusive surveillance taking place amid ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang, businesses and individuals that do not exit supply chains, ventures, and/or investments connected to Xinjiang could run a high risk of violating U.S. law. Potential legal risks include: violation of statutes criminalizing forced labor including knowingly benefitting from participation in a venture, while knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact that the venture has engaged in forced labor; sanctions violations if dealing with designated persons; export control violations; and violation of the prohibition of importations of goods produced in whole or in part with forced labor or convict labor. Now, given how adept Chinese companies are at masking their participation in, or benefit derived in part from, these evil activities, the U.S. will utilize a standard called “rebuttable presumption” when investigating abuses and issuing sanctions under the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act and future similar laws. What this means is that a company accused of connection to human rights abuses in Xinjiang (or other provinces) in China are treated by U.S. authorities as essentially being guilty until proven innocent. Importantly, this does not just mean that the company in question is directly employing forced laborers. Any company that uses raw materials, goods, or labor at any point in its supply chain where forced labor is involved is considered just as guilty of the abuse - a presumption of illegal benefit that extends to every single subsidiary, wherever it may be located. As just one example of the new risk to American stakeholders from this expanded enforcement against China’s human rights abuse, Fufeng Group lists in its annual report that coal is the primary energy feedstock for its corn mills in China. Coal is one of the sectors most heavily targeted for enforcement and sanctions due to Chinese coal mining companies making extensive use of forced labor to keep production costs low. Fufeng Group specifically notes that it strategically locates its facilities close to coal-fired power plants, and that such practice is “instrumental in strengthening the Group’s pricing power.” Even more so than coal, Fufeng consumes corn at enormous rates. Thus, it makes sense that Fufeng tends to locate its operations not only close to coal power production, but also major agriculture regions. Here, too, Fufeng should be assumed to benefit substantially from lower raw material prices derived from the involvement of forced labor. In Heilongjiang province, Fufeng’s subsidiary Qiqihar Fufeng is located less than 50 miles from the sprawling Liusan Prison farm, managed by the Communist Party Committee Deputy Secretary of Liusan. Only a few miles further southwest from Liusan inside Inner Mongolia, there are numerous other farms at Wutaqi, Ulan, and the notorious Bao’anzhao Prison. Hulunbeier Northeast Fufeng Biotechnologies is located approximately 200 miles from the large prison farm at “Genghis Kahn Ranch” in Zalantun City. One of Fufeng’s largest plants, Neimenggu Fufeng Biotechnologies, is located in Hohhot City in Inner Mongolia. The entire administrative apparatus for the corporation that sells forced prison labor goods to Chinese and international consumers is called Inner Mongolia Hengzheng Industrial Group Co., Ltd., and also happens to be located in Hohhot City. As of October 2019, the company was run by Xu Hongguang, a CCP member and the Deputy Director of the Ministry of Justice of the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. Among the company’s primary goods produced in the prisons and sold to companies in China are grains, processed agriculture commodities, and food ingredients. Notably, the company was sanctioned by the United States in October of 2020 for use of forced labor in manufacturing stevia sweetener, which like Fufeng’s products, are a derivative of biological processing. [Edit, 21 March 2022 - The original comment that stevia sweetener is a derivative of corn processing is not correct. The author has corrected the article.] It would require an absurd leap of faith to state that Fufeng has no plausible connections to, or benefit from, the expansive use of forced labor in agriculture production so logistically close to Fufeng’s major corn- and coal-consuming plants in Xingang, Heilongjiang, and Inner Mongolia. Should an investigation be raised by Commerce, State, or Treasury into the activities of any Fufeng Group subsidiary in connection to forced labor, it is highly likely that Fufeng would be unable to satisfy the rebuttable presumption of participation in the forced labor and abusive regimes in place in China. This would trigger automatic sanctions not only against Fufeng Group in China, but also their international subsidiaries such as First Biotech and Fufeng USA. Such sanctions would make it impossible for banks to lend to any of the affected entities in the United States or conduct normal business operations, shutting down the entire project in Grand Forks and invalidating the letter of credit the city proclaims as providing a no-risk guarantee to local taxpayers the city has not wasted money chasing a pot of gold at the end of the CCP’s genocidal rainbow. This Is Not the End As one can see, there is not much more that needs to be said about the Fufeng Group’s bid to purchase 370 acres of land in Grand Forks and build its wet corn mill. Nearly every single major talking point used by city officials and Fufeng USA is provably false or shaded with just enough truth to pass scrutiny of low-information voters. This is how it works when one chooses to do business with CCP-aligned entities who deliberately target local and state officials to circumvent the United States’ federal national security countermeasures. The officials, craving a big win to build their next campaign on, or perhaps finding some compelling self-interest in the economic aspects of the project, suspend all good sense and dive headfirst into extreme legal and moral hazard at the expense of their communities, their state, and their nation. Grand Forks Mayor Brandon Bochenski, City Council president Dana Sande, and their grasping enablers have (to this point) made the choice to do just that. And at least for now, we know that the most powerful weapon in the CCP’s gray zone war against the United States is not hypersonic missiles, cyberespionage, or theft of intellectual property. It’s 30 pieces of silver wrapped in a box of false promises to our elected officials. Addendum A number of Grand Forks residents and concerned stakeholders around the nation have expressed to this author their alarm and despair at the ease with which the Chinese Communist Party continues to corrupt and undermine the United States. That it all feels hopeless, and that our collapse as a nation is both certain and imminent. I will share this, then - Winston Churchill’s words to the Harrow School on 29 October 1941, in the midst of the darkest hours of Great Britain’s seemingly hopeless defense against the mighty Nazi war machine. “…Never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never - in nothing, great or small, large or petty - never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy… Do not let us speak of darker days: let us speak rather of sterner days. These are not dark days; these are great days - the greatest days our country has ever lived; and we must all thank God that we have been allowed, each of us according to our stations, to play a part in making these days memorable in the history of our race.” Dum spiro spero. Subscribe to Human Terrain Tyler Durden Fri, 03/25/2022 - 23:00.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytMar 25th, 2022

AG Garland "Weaponizes" DoJ Against Dissenting Parents After School Board Association Pleas

AG Garland "Weaponizes" DoJ Against Dissenting Parents After School Board Association Pleas One day after a North Carolina school board adopted a policy that would discipline or dismiss teachers if they incorporate critical race theory (CRT) into their teaching of the history of the United States, The Epoch Times' Ivan Pentchoukov reports that Attorney General Merrick Garland on Oct. 4 announced a concentrated effort to target any threats of violence, intimidation, and harassment by parents toward school personnel. The announcement also comes days after a national association of school boards asked the Biden administration to take “extraordinary measures” to prevent alleged threats against school staff that the association said was coming from parents who oppose mask mandates and the teaching of critical race theory. Garland directed the FBI and U.S. attorneys in the next 30 days to convene meetings with federal, state, and local leaders within 30 days to “facilitate the discussion of strategies for addressing threats against school administrators, board members, teachers, and staff,” according to a letter (pdf) the attorney general sent on Monday to all U.S. attorneys, the FBI director, the director of the Executive Office of U.S. Attorneys, and the assistant attorney general of the DOJ’s criminal division. According to the DOJ, further efforts will be rolled out in the coming days, including a task force that will determine how to use federal resources to prosecute offending parents as well as how to advise state entities on prosecutions in cases where no federal law is broken. The Justice Department will also provide training to school staff on how to report threats from parents and preserve evidence to aid in investigation and prosecution. “In recent months, there has been a disturbing spike in harassment, intimidation, and threats of violence against school administrators, board members, teachers, and staff who participate in the vital work of running our nation’s public schools,” Garland wrote. “While spirited debate about policy matters is protected under our Constitution, that protection does not extend to threats of violence or efforts to intimidate individuals based on their views.” School boards across the nation have increasingly become an arena for heated debate over culture, politics, and health. Parents groups have ramped up pressure on boards over the teaching of critical race theory and the imposition of mask mandates. The debate is split sharply along political lines, with Democrats largely in favor of critical race theory and mask mandates, and Republicans opposing both. The amount and severity of the threats against officials are not known, but Garland’s letter suggests the phenomenon is widespread. Full AG Garland Statement (with our thoughts): MEMORANDUM FOR DIRECTOR, FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION; DIRECTOR, EXECUTIVE OFFICE FOR U.S. ATTORNEYS ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL, CRIMINAL DIVISION UNITED STATES ATTORNEYS FROM:       THE ATTORNEY GENERAL SUBJECT:    PARTNERSHIP AMONG FEDERAL, STATE, LOCAL, TRIBAL, AND TERRITORIAL LAW ENFORCEMENT TO ADDRESS THREATS AGAINST SCHOOL ADMINISTRATORS, BOARD MEMBERS, TEACHERS, AND STAFF In recent months, there has been a disturbing spike in harassment, intimidation, and threats of violence against school administrators, board members, teachers, and staff who participate in the vital work of running our nation's public schools. While spirited debate about policy matters is protected under our Constitution, that protection does not extend to threats of violence or efforts to intimidate individuals based on their views. [ZH: But intimidating parents who dare to have the view that the nation's founding fathers and the founding documents are not in fact systemically racist and does not want their children taught that is the case is ok?] Threats against public servants are not only illegal, they run counter to our nation's core values. Those who dedicate their time and energy to ensuring that our children receive a proper education in a safe environment deserve to he able to do their work without fear for their safety. [ZH: "Dedication" to a "proper education" is admirable; indoctrination in Marxism is not] The Department takes these incidents seriously and is committed to using its authority and resources to discourage these threats, identify them when they occur, and prosecute them when appropriate. In the coming days, the Department will announce a series of measures designed to address the rise in criminal conduct directed toward school personnel. [ZH: What exactly is the crime?] Coordination and partnership with local law enforcement is critical to implementing these measures for the benefit of our nation's nearly 14,000 public school districts. To this end, I am  directing the Federal Bureau of Investigation, working with each United States Attorney, to convene meetings with federal, state, local, Tribal, and territorial leaders in each federal judicial district within 30 days of the issuance of this memorandum. These meetings will facilitate the discussion of strategies for addressing threats against school administrators, board members, teachers, and staff, and will open dedicated lines of communication for threat reporting, assessment, and response. [ZH: We wonder how many local law enforcement officials, while busily watching for vaccine passport offenders, and mask-mandate refusers, will acquiesce to enforcing these new laws to protect the very people who are preaching that America's systemic racism starts with the men (and women) in blue?] The Department is steadfast in its commitment to protect all people in the United States from violence, threats of violence, and other forms of intimidation and harassment. [ZH: Presumably intimidation and emotional harassment of young white boys and girls for their 'whiteness', privilege, and systemic racism is beyond that 'protection'?] As Chris Rufo (@RealChrisRufo) tweeted: "The Biden administration is rapidly repurposing federal law enforcement to target political opposition." The Biden administration is rapidly repurposing federal law enforcement to target political opposition. They want to reclassify dissent as "disinformation" and "domestic terrorism," justifying an unprecedented intervention, both directly and in partnership with tech companies. — Christopher F. Rufo ⚔️ (@realchrisrufo) October 4, 2021 Rufo goes on to note that: "Neither the Attorney General's memo nor the full Justice Department press release cites any significant, credible threat. This is a blatant suppression tactic, designed to dissuade citizens from participating in the democratic process at school boards." Parents have led the charge against controversial issues such as Critical Race Theory (CRT), masking mandates and vaccine requirements. CRT holds that America is fundamentally racist, yet it teaches people to view every social interaction and person in terms of race. Its adherents pursue “antiracism” through the end of merit, objective truth and the adoption of race-based policies. This is Courtney Ann Taylor, a mother in Georgia. She’s one of the many parents who’ve HAD IT with mask mandates, especially for young kids in school. Share this video! pic.twitter.com/pyG3fYmgVI — Errol Webber (@ErrolWebber) April 22, 2021 In Loudoun County, Virginia, two parents were arrested in June for trespassing while protesting CRT and a transgender policy at the school district because they refused to leave the rowdy meeting that was declared an unlawful assembly. In July, a man was arrested at a school board meeting and charged with a felony because a gun reportedly fell out of his pocket, the Indianapolis Star reported.  In Utah, 11 anti-mask protestors were arrested on misdemeanor charges for allegedly disrupting a school board meeting in May, the Salt Lake Tribune reported. The protestors entered the school board meeting and shouted obscenities, which resulted in an early end to the meeting. Senator Tom Cotton  (@SenTomCotton) tweeted his thoughts: "Parents are speaking out against Critical Race Theory in schools. Now the Biden administration is cracking down on dissent." Just this week, Ron Paul explained why it is so important for parents to control the education of their children: During last week’s Virginia gubernatorial debate, Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe promised that as governor he would prevent parents from removing sexually explicit books from school libraries, because he doesn't think “parents should be telling schools what they should teach.” McAuliffe's disdain for parents who think they should have some say in their children’s education is shared by most “progressives,” as well as some who call themselves conservatives. They think parents should obediently pay the taxes to fund the government schools and never question any aspect of the government school program. School officials' refusal to obey the wishes of parents extends to the anti-science mask mandates. Mask mandates are not only useless in protecting children from a virus they are at low risk of becoming sick from or transmitting, the mandated mask-wearing actually makes children sick! Yet school administrators refuse to follow the science if that means listening to parents instead of the so-called experts. Replacing parental control with government control of education (and other aspects of child raising) has been a goal of authoritarians since Plato. After all, it is much easier to ensure obedience if someone has been raised to think of the government as the source of all wisdom and truth, as well as the provider of all of life’s necessities. In contrast to an authoritarian society, a free society recognizes that parents have both the responsibility and the right to provide their children with a quality education that reflects the parents’ values. Teachers who use their positions to indoctrinate children in beliefs that contradict the views of the parents are the ones overstepping their bounds. Restoring parental control of education should be a priority for all who believe in liberty. If government can override the wishes of parents in the name of “education” or “protecting children’s health” then what area of our lives is safe from government intrusion? Fortunately, growing dissatisfaction with government schools is leading many parents to try to change school policies. "It is shameful that activists are weaponizing the US Department of Justice against parents,” Nicole Neily, president of Parents Defending Education told the Daily Caller News Foundation in response to the memorandum. “This is a coordinated attempt to intimidate dissenting voices in the debates surrounding America’s underperforming K-12 education – and it will not succeed. We will not be silenced.” Tyler Durden Tue, 10/05/2021 - 07:00.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeOct 5th, 2021

Biden Security Adviser Jake Sullivan Tied To Alleged 2016 Clinton Scheme To Co-Opt CIA/FBI To Tar Trump

Biden Security Adviser Jake Sullivan Tied To Alleged 2016 Clinton Scheme To Co-Opt CIA/FBI To Tar Trump Authored by Paul Sperry via RealClearInvestigations.com, White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan figures prominently in a grand jury investigation run by Special Counsel John Durham into an alleged 2016 Hillary Clinton campaign scheme to use both the FBI and CIA to tar Donald Trump as a colluder with Russia, according to people familiar with the criminal probe, which they say has broadened into a conspiracy case. Biden National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan as Clinton campaign adviser for the 2016 election. AP Photo/Ng Han Guan, File Sullivan is facing scrutiny, sources say, over potentially false statements he made about his involvement in the effort, which continued after the election and into 2017. As a senior foreign policy adviser to Clinton, Sullivan spearheaded what was known inside her campaign as a “confidential project” to link Trump to the Kremlin through dubious email-server records provided to the agencies, said the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity. Last week, Michael A. Sussmann, a partner in Perkins Coie, a law firm representing the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee, was indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of making false statements to the FBI about his clients and their motives behind planting the rumor, at the highest levels of the FBI, of a secret Trump-Russia server. After a months-long investigation, the FBI found no merit to the rumor. The grand jury indicated in its lengthy indictment that several people were involved in the alleged conspiracy to mislead the FBI and trigger an investigation of the Republican presidential candidate -- including Sullivan, who was described by his campaign position but not identified by name. The Clinton campaign project, these sources say, also involved compiling a "digital dossier” on several Trump campaign officials – including Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, Paul Manafort, George Papadopoulos, and Carter Page. This effort exploited highly sensitive, nonpublic Internet data related to their personal email communications and web-browsing, known as Internet Protocol, or IP, addresses. Alleged targets: Michael Flynn, Paul Manafort, George Papadopoulos, Carter Page. YouTube/CNN/FNC/RCP To mine the data, the Clinton campaign enlisted a team of Beltway computer contractors as well as university researchers with security clearance who often collaborate with the FBI and the intelligence community. They worked from a five-page campaign document called the "Trump Associates List." The tech group also pulled logs purportedly from servers for a Russian bank and Trump Tower, and the campaign provided the data to the FBI on two thumb drives, along with three “white papers” that claimed the data indicated the Trump campaign was secretly communicating with Moscow through a server in Trump Tower and the Alfa Bank in Russia. Based on the material, the FBI opened at least one investigation, adding to several others it had already initiated targeting the Trump campaign in the summer of 2016. Michael Sussmann: Indicted former Clinton campaign lawyer allegedly coordinated with Jake Sullivan on dubious materials provided to the FBI and media. perkinscoie.com The indictment states that Sussmann, as well as the cyber experts recruited for the operation, "coordinated with representatives and agents of the Clinton campaign with regard to the data and written materials that Sussmann gave to the FBI and the media." One of those campaign agents was Sullivan, according to emails Durham obtained. On Sept. 15, 2016 – just four days before Sussmann handed off the materials to the FBI – Marc Elias, his law partner and fellow Democratic Party operative, "exchanged emails with the Clinton campaign’s foreign policy adviser concerning the Russian bank allegations," as well as with other top campaign officials, the indictment states. The sources close to the case confirmed the "foreign policy adviser" referenced by title is Sullivan. They say he was briefed on the development of the opposition-research materials tying Trump to Alfa Bank, and was aware of the participants in the project. These included the Washington opposition-research group Fusion GPS, which worked for the Clinton campaign as a paid agent and helped gather dirt on Alfa Bank and draft the materials Elias discussed with Sullivan, the materials Sussmann would later submit to the FBI. Fusion researchers were in regular contact with both Sussmann and Elias about the project in the summer and fall of 2016. Sullivan also personally met with Elias, who briefed him on Fusion's opposition research, according to the sources. Sullivan maintained in congressional testimony in December 2017 that he didn’t know of Fusion’s involvement in the Alfa Bank opposition research. In the same closed-door testimony before the House Intelligence Committee, he also denied knowing anything about Fusion in 2016 or who was conducting the opposition research for the campaign. "Marc [Elias] ... would occasionally give us updates on the opposition research they were conducting, but I didn't know what the nature of that effort was – inside effort, outside effort, who was funding it, who was doing it, anything like that," Sullivan stated under oath. Jake Sullivan's December 2017 House testimony may put him in perjury jeopardy.  House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Sullivan also testified he didn’t know that Perkins Coie, the law firm where Elias and Sussmann were partners, was working for the Clinton campaign until October 2017, when it was reported in the media as part of stories revealing the campaign's contract with Fusion, which also produced the so-called Steele dossier. Sullivan maintained he didn’t even know that the politically prominent Elias worked for Perkins Coie, a well-known Democratic law firm. Major media stories from 2016 routinely identified Elias as "general counsel for the Clinton campaign" and a "partner at Perkins Coie." "To be honest with you, Marc wears a tremendous number of hats, so I wasn’t sure who he was representing," Sullivan testified. "I sort of thought he was, you know, just talking to us as, you know, a fellow traveler in this — in this campaign effort." Although he acknowledged knowing Elias and his partner were marshaling opposition researchers for a campaign project targeting Trump, Sullivan insisted, "They didn’t do something with it." In truth, they used the research to instigate a full-blown investigation at the FBI and seed a number of stories in the Washington media, which Elias discussed in emails. Marc Elias: Prominent Democrat lawyer allegedly also coordinated with Sullivan. Sullivan would later plead ignorance under oath about Elias's role. Perkins Coie Lying to Congress is a felony. Though the offense is rarely prosecuted, former Special Counsel Robert Mueller won convictions of two of Trump’s associates on charges of that very offense. An attorney for Sullivan did not respond to questions, while a spokeswoman for the National Security Council declined comment. After the 2016 election, Sullivan continued to participate in the anti-Trump effort, which enlisted no fewer than three Internet companies and two university computer researchers, who persisted in exploiting nonpublic Internet data to conjure up “derogatory information on Trump" and his associates, according to the indictment.Prosecutors say the operation ran through at least February 2017, when Sullivan met with another central figure in the plot to plant the anti-Trump smear at the FBI. But now the goal was to compel agents to continue investigating the false rumors in the wake of the election, thereby keeping Trump's presidency under an ethical cloud. Daniel Jones: One of the lead figures in helping resurrect the Trump-Russia collusion narrative after Trump's election, Jones coordinated with Sullivan in hatching the effort. McCain Institute/YouTube On Feb. 10, 2017, Sullivan huddled with two Fusion operatives and their partner Daniel Jones, a former FBI analyst and Democratic staffer on the Hill, to hatch the post-election plan to resurrect rumors Trump was a tool of the Kremlin. As RealClearInvestigations first reported, the meeting, which lasted about an hour and took place in a Washington office building, also included former Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta. The group discussed raising money to finance a multimillion-dollar opposition research project headed by Jones to target the new president. In effect, Jones’ operation would replace the Clinton campaign’s operation, continuing the effort to undermine Trump. It’s not clear if Sussmann attended the Feb. 10 meeting, but he was apparently still involved in the operation, along with his crew of data miners. The day before the meeting attended by Sullivan, Sussmann paid a visit to the CIA’s Langley headquarters to peddle the disinformation about the secret server – this time to top officials there, according to the sources familiar with Durham's investigation. During a roughly 90-minute meeting, Sussmann provided two officials at the intelligence headquarters “updated” documents and data he'd provided the FBI before the election, RealClearInvestigations has learned exclusively. Then, on March 28, 2017, Jones met with the FBI to pass on supposedly fresh leads he and the cyber researchers had learned about the Alfa Bank server and Trump, and the FBI looked into the new leads after having closed its investigation a month earlier. That same month, FBI Director James Comey publicly announced the bureau was investigating possible “coordination" between Moscow and the newly sworn-in president's campaign. Despite the renewed push by Jones, the FBI debunked the tip of a nefarious Russian back channel. Agents learned the email server in question wasn’t even controlled by the Trump Organization. "It wasn’t true," Mueller confirmed in 2019 testimony. It turns out that the supposed “secret server" was housed in the small Pennsylvania town of Lititz, and not  Trump Tower in New York City, and it was operated by a marketing firm based in Florida called Cendyn that routinely blasts out emails promoting multiple hotel chains. Simply put, the third-party server sent spam to Alfa Bank employees who used Trump hotels. The bank had maintained a New York office since 2001. “The FBI’s investigation revealed that the email server at issue was not owned or operated by the Trump Organization but, rather, had been administrated by a mass-marketing email company that sent advertisements for Trump hotels and hundreds of other clients,” Durham wrote in his indictment. Nonetheless, Jones and Sullivan kept promoting the canard as true. Democrat Senators Mark Warner and Ron Wyden: Conduits for TDIP's Trump-Russia material. AP Photo/Andrew Harnik With help from Sullivan and Podesta in 2017, Jones launched a nonprofit group called The Democracy Integrity Project, which raised some $7 million mainly from Silicon Valley tech executives. TDIP hired computer researchers, as well as Fusion opposition researchers and Christopher Steele, the British author of the now-discredited Steele dossier, to “prove” the rumors in the dossier. As they sought new dirt on Trump, they fed their information to media outlets, leading Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee (namely Sens. Mark Warner and Ron Wyden), and the FBI. Jones previously worked on the Senate intelligence panel, which had launched a major investigation of Trump and Russia, and he provided a pipeline of information for the committee, according to the sources. As RCI first reported, Jones emailed a daily news bulletin known as "TDIP Research" to prominent Beltway journalists to keep the Trump-Russia “collusion” rumor-mill going, including the debunked rumor about the "secret server." Durham has subpoenaed Jones to testify before his grand jury hearing the case, along with computer experts and researchers recruited by Sussmann for the Clinton campaign project, persons close to the investigation said. Attempts to reach Jones for comment were unsuccessful. In a statement, Durham said his investigation "is ongoing." Special Counsel John Durham: Lengthy single count "speaking" indictment of Sussmann suggests a broader conspiracy case in the works. AP Indictments for a single-count process crime such as making a false statement normally run a page or two. But Durham’s filing charging Sussmann spans 27 pages and is packed with detail. FBI veterans say the 40-year prosecutor used the indictment to outline a broader conspiracy case he’s building that invokes several other federal statutes. "That is what we call a 'speaking indictment,' meaning it is far more detailed than is required for a simple indictment under [federal statute] 1001,” which outlaws making false statements and representations to federal investigators, former assistant FBI Director Chris Swecker said in an interview with RealClearInvestigations. "It is damning,” he added. “And I see it as a placeholder for additional indictments, such as government grant and contract fraud, computer intrusion, the Privacy Act and other laws against dissemination of personally identifiable information, and mail fraud and wire fraud – not to mention conspiracy to commit those offenses." Chris Swecker: The Sussmann indictment "is damning," and "I definitely see more to come," says the ex-top FBI investigator. Miller & Martin "I definitely see more [indictments] to come,” emphasized Swecker, who knows Durham personally and worked with him on prior investigations. The sources close to the case said former FBI general counsel James Baker, who accepted the sketchy materials from Sussmann and passed them on to agents for investigation, is cooperating with Durham’s investigation, along with former FBI counterintelligence chief Bill Priestap, who has provided prosecutors contemporaneous notes about what led the bureau to open an investigation into the allegations Trump used Alfa Bank as a conduit between his campaign and Russian President Vladimir Putin to steal the election. According to the sources, Durham also has found evidence Sussmann misled the CIA, another front in the scandal being reported here for the first time. In December 2016, the sources say Sussmann phoned the general counsel at the agency and told her the same story about the supposed secret server – at the same time the CIA was compiling a national intelligence report that accused Putin of meddling in the election to help Trump win. Sussmann told Caroline Krass, then the agency’s top attorney, that he had information that may help her with a review President Obama had ordered of all intelligence related to the election and Russia, known as the Intelligence Community Assessment. The review ended up including an annex with several unfounded and since-debunked allegations against Trump developed by the Clinton campaign. It’s not clear if the two-page annex, which claimed the allegations were “consistent with the judgments in this assessment,” included the Alfa Bank canard. Before it was made public, several sections had been redacted. But after Sussmann conveyed the information to Krass, an Obama appointee, she told him she would consider it for the intelligence review of Russian interference, which tracks with Sussmann’s 2017 closed-door testimony before the House Intelligence Committee. (Krass’ name is blacked out in the declassified transcript, but sources familiar with Sussmann's testimony confirmed that he identified her as his CIA contact.) Caroline Krass: Michael Sussmann also gave  Trump-Russia material to this CIA lawyer. CIA/Wikipedia “We’re interested,” said Krass, who left the agency several months later. "We’re doing this review and I’ll speak to someone here.” It’s not known if Sussmann failed to inform the top CIA lawyer that he was working on behalf of the Clinton campaign, as he’s alleged to have done at the FBI. Attempts to reach Krass, who now serves as Biden’s top lawyer at the Pentagon, were unsuccessful. But in his return trip to the CIA after the election, Sussmann “stated falsely – as he previously had stated to the FBI general counsel – that he was ‘not representing a particular client,’ " according to the Durham indictment, which cites a contemporaneous memo drafted by two agency officials with whom Sussmann met that memorializes their meeting. (The document refers to the CIA by the pseudonym “Agency-2.” Sources confirm Agency-2 is the CIA.) Remarkably, the CIA did not ask for the source of Sussmann’s walk-in tip, including where he got several data files he gave the agency. The FBI exhibited a similar lack of curiosity when Sussmann told it about the false Trump/Alfa Bank connection. Attempts to reach Sussmann to get his side to the additional CIA allegations leveled by Durham were unsuccessful. The 57-year-old attorney pleaded not guilty to a single felony count and was released on a $100,000 bond Friday. If convicted, he faces up to five years in prison.The prominent Washington lawyer quietly resigned from Perkins Coie, which has scrubbed all references to him from its website. And late last month, as rumors of the indictment swirled, the powerhouse law firm divested its entire Political Law Group formerly headed by Marc Elias – who commissioned the Steele dossier. Elias, who worked closely with Sussmann on the Trump-Alfa Bank project, also is no longer employed by the firm. Jake Sullivan’s Golf Cart Rounds In late July 2016, during the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, the CIA picked up Russian chatter about a Clinton foreign policy adviser who was trying to develop allegations to “vilify" Trump. The intercepts said Clinton herself had approved a “plan" to “stir up a scandal” against Trump by tying him to Putin. According to hand-written notes, then-CIA chief John Brennan warned President Obama that Moscow had intercepted information about the “alleged approval by Hillary Clinton on July 26, 2016, of a proposal from one of her foreign policy advisers to vilify Donald Trump.” That summer, Brennan had personally briefed Democrats, including then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, on the Alfa Bank-Trump server rumors, according to congressional reports. Reid fired off a letter to Comey demanding that the FBI do more to investigate Trump's ties to Russia. During that convention, Sullivan drove a golf cart from one TV-network news tent in the parking lot to another, pitching producers and anchors a story that Trump was conspiring with Putin to steal the election. CNN, ABC News, CBS News, and NBC News, as well as Chris Wallace of Fox News, all gave him airtime to spin the Clinton campaign’s unfounded theories. Sullivan also gave off-camera background briefings to reporters. "We were on a mission," Clinton campaign spokeswoman Jennifer Palmieri later admitted in a Washington Post column. “We wanted to raise the alarm." Then, on the eve of the election, Sullivan claimed in a written campaign statement that Trump and the Russians had set up a “secret hotline” through Alfa Bank, and he suggested “federal authorities” were investigating “this direct connection between Trump and Russia.” He portrayed the shocking discovery as the work of independent experts — “computer scientists” — without disclosing their attachment to the campaign. “This could be the most direct link yet between Donald Trump and Moscow,” Sullivan claimed. Clinton teed up his statement in an Oct. 31, 2016, tweet, which quickly went viral. Also that day, Clinton tweeted, “It’s time for Trump to answer serious questions about his ties to Russia,” while attaching a meme that read: “Donald Trump has a secret server. It was set up to communicate privately with a Putin-tied Russian bank called Alfa Bank.” The Clinton campaign played up the bogus Trump-Alfa Bank story on the eve of the 2016 election. Twitter/@HillaryClinton It’s not immediately apparent if then-Vice President Joe Biden was briefed about the Alfa Bank tale or other Trump-Russia rumors and investigations. Biden has never been questioned about his own role in the investigation of Trump. However, it was the former vice president who introduced the idea of prosecuting Trump’s national security adviser appointee, Gen. Flynn, under the Logan Act of 1799, a dead-letter statute that prohibits private citizens from interfering in U.S. foreign policy and which hasn’t been used to prosecute anyone in modern times. According to notes taken by then-FBI counterintelligence official Peter Strzok, who attended a Jan. 5, 2017, Oval Office meeting with Obama and Biden, in which Trump, Flynn and Russia were discussed, Biden raised the idea: “VP: Logan Act,” the notes read. Although he’s not an attorney, Sullivan has argued in congressional testimony and elsewhere that Flynn violated the Logan Act, raising suspicions he may have put the idea in Biden’s head. Sullivan had advised the vice president before joining the Clinton campaign. Tyler Durden Thu, 09/23/2021 - 22:20.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeSep 23rd, 2021

Mar-a-Lago raid live updates: The FBI raid at Trump"s Mar-a-Lago serves as a reminder of a "lawless president," Democratic strategist says

Former President Donald Trump confirmed that the FBI searched Mar-a-Lago. Trump was out of state when federal agents raided his property in Florida. Donald Trump answers questions from reporters after making a video call to the troops stationed worldwide at the Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach Florida, on December 24, 2019.NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images The FBI searched former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago home on Monday, sparking a firestorm. Nancy Pelosi said no person is "above the law" after the raid, but Republicans condemned it as politically motivated. Republican lawmakers and right-wing organizations are now using the search to fundraise.  The Mar-a-Lago FBI raid serves as a reminder of a 'lawless president,' a Democratic strategist saysPeople walking outside Mar-a-Lago in March 2017Darren SamuelsohnThe FBI raid on former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago home puts Trump at the center of midterm elections debates, ensuring voters will hear about his legal problems from now until November.Republican and right-wing groups are already using the raid for fundraising and calling for defunding the FBI while House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy pledged to investigate the Justice Department and Attorney General Merrick Garland if Republicans take back the House.As they rally support for Trump, Democrats say the FBI's reported search for classified materials that Trump allegedly brought to his home from the White House will serve as yet another reminder of his scandals and massive legal problems for voters."This raises the stakes in the midterms as people see how dangerous the GOP has become," said Jesse Ferguson, a Democratic strategist. "This isn't about political advantage for one party or the other, it's a reminder of what happens if a lawless President is allowed to take power, aided and abetted by MAGA Republicans in Congress."Read MoreFBI seizes cell phone of Trump ally and Pennsylvania Republican Scott Perry, lawmaker claimsRep. Scott Perry, R-Pa., takes a question from a reporter at a news conference held by the House Freedom Caucus on Capitol Hill in Washington, on Aug. 23, 2021.AP Photo/Amanda Andrade-RhoadesA key ally of former President Donald Trump is claiming that federal agents seized his cell phone a day after they executed a search warrant at Mar-a-Lago, though it is not known if the two are connected.In a statement provided to Insider, Rep. Scott Perry, a Republican from Pennsylvania, said that on Tuesday morning, "while traveling with my family, 3 FBI agents visited me and seized my cell phone."Perry denounced the alleged seizure, first reported by Fox News, but did not say what reason the FBI gave him for taking the phone."I'm outraged — though not surprised — that the FBI under the direction of Merrick Garland's DOJ, would seize the phone of a sitting Member of Congress," he stated.KEEP READINGTrump supporters protest FBI raid on a bridge outside Mar-a-Lago: 'It is us against the government'Trump supporters gather on Monday on a bridge leading to Mar-a-Lago.Kimberly Leonard/InsiderFollowing the FBI raid of former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago residence, several dozen Trump supporters gathered Tuesday on a bridge that extends outside the private estate.  Just a small crowd of supporters had gathered as of 2 p.m. Several people who said they were part of Club 45 — an independent Trump-supporting organization — said more people would assemble from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m., after people were done working for the day. Traffic was becoming more backed up by 3 p.m. By 5 p.m., about 60 people had gathered on the bridge.Several Trump supporters told Insider they'd heard that Trump would be driving by himself later in the day to get back into Mar-a-Lago and assess his belongings, though a local police officer refuted the rumor to Insider. In interviews, Trump supporters said they thought the FBI raid was politically motivated and would ultimately grow Trump's support, but said they weren't concerned about a civil war. Many repeated false claims that there was widespread fraud during the 2024 election. KEEP READINGHere's what it's like to traverse the members-only grounds of Mar-a-Lago, from a reporter who's been thereInsider DC bureau chief Darren Samuelsohn in March 2017 at Mar-a-Lago, while working as a White House reporter for Politico. Also pictured is the backyard of Donald Trump's private club.Darren SamuelsohnMemories of Mar-a-Lago came flooding back Monday night when the news broke that the FBI had executed a search warrant on Donald Trump's permanent residence.My visits there as a White House reporter for Politico more than five years ago came during the earliest days of Trump's presidency. They gave me an up-close look into all of the controversy and celebrity hoopla that surrounded a man who just months earlier had become the most powerful person on the planet.In all, I made three trips in March 2017 to go inside Trump's exclusive South Florida resort.READ MOREMitch McConnell declined to comment on the FBI raid at Mar-a-Lago as conservatives increasingly call out his silenceSenate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty ImagesWith former President Donald Trump fuming over an FBI raid of his Mar-a-Lago residence, the American people have yet to receive comment from the most powerful elected Republican in Washington: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.McConnell has yet to issue a statement on Monday's raid, and he dodged a question about it at a Tuesday press conference related to flooding in Eastern Kentucky."I'm here today to talk about the flood and the recovery from the flood," he said when asked for his reaction to the raid. READ MOREWhat's in Trump's search warrant? A grab-bag of potential federal charges, a longtime DOJ prosecutor predictedMar-a-Lago one day after the FBI raid.Kimberly Leonard/InsiderThe feds knew they had only one chance to search Mar-a-Lago — so they carried a big net, Gene Rossi, for three decades a federal prosecutor out of northern Virginia, predicted.The search warrant that got them inside the waterfront Palm Beach estate of former President Donald Trump may have only been one-page long — but the warrant would have authorized FBI agents to seize evidence related to multiple federal statutes, Rossi said."I would be shocked," Rossi told Insider if the search warrant did not list the federal statutes for insurrection, for sedition, and for obstruction — three charges Trump could potentially face for alleged involvement in the January 6, 2021 siege on the Capitol.Keep ReadingRepublicans revive false claim that DOJ called parents 'terrorists' after Mar-a-Lago raidRep. Jim Jordan, a Republican from OhioKevin Dietsch/Getty ImagesRepublicans who are furious with the FBI after the agency's search of former President Trump's Mar-a-Lago residence are reviving a false talking point that pits the Department of Justice against parents.Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin called the raid "stunning" in a tweet and said, "This same DOJ labeled parents in Loudoun County as terrorists."On Fox News, Rep. Jim Jordan, the House Judiciary Committee's highest-ranking Republican, made a similar claim about Attorney General Merrick Garland.Since last year, Republicans hoping to use culture wars to boost their chances in the midterm elections have said that the Biden administration and Democrats have branded parents who protest at school board meetings as domestic terrorists.Read Full StoryMar-a-Lago raid prompts elected Republicans to openly acknowledge that Trump will likely run for president againWhile Republicans slam the FBI's raid of Mar-a-Lago, many are also finally admitting in public that Trump is likely to run for president again in 2024.Trump has hinted at the prospect for months now, leaving Republicans reluctant to comment or speculate on the matter. "President Trump is likely going to run again in 2024," Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, a close Trump ally, wrote on Twitter."Joe Biden is trying to use the FBI to subdue his top political opponent because they are afraid of him running in 2024," Republican Rep. Diana Harshbarger wrote on Twitter. Read Full StoryPence defends Trump and expresses 'deep concern' over FBI's Mar-a-Lago raidThen-President Donald Trump shakes then-Vice President Mike Pence's hand after a 2019 rally.Zach Gibson/Getty ImagesFormer Vice President Mike Pence defended Donald Trump after FBI agents raided Mar-a-Lago."I share the deep concern of millions of Americans over the unprecedented search of the personal residence of President Trump," Pence wrote on Twitter.He continued: "After years where FBI agents were found to be acting on political motivation during our administration, the appearance of continued partisanship by the Justice Department must be addressed."Read Full StoryTrump nominated the FBI Director who led Mar-A-Lago search: 'He will make us all proud'Former President Donald Trump nominated Christoper Wray for FBI Director in 2017.Brandon Bell/Getty Images, MANDEL NGAN/POOL/AFP via Getty ImagesChristopher Wray, the FBI director who authorized the Mar-a-Lago search was picked for the gig by then-President Donald Trump in 2017.Trump, at the time, called Wray a man of "impeccable credentials.""We will have a great FBI director. I think he's doing really well and we're very proud of that choice. I think I've done a great service to the country by choosing him," Trump said in a speech during a 2017 visit to France. "He will make us all proud, and I think someday we'll see that and hopefully someday soon."Now, Wray is feeling pressure from GOP lawmakers in the wake of Monday's raid. Read Full StoryRepublicans are fundraising off the FBI's raid of Trump's 'beautiful Florida home' at Mar-a-LagoShortly after the FBI searched former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago home, Republicans and right-wing groups used the opportunity to boost political fundraising efforts.A volley of emails from GOP lawmakers, political action groups, and other organizations denounced the FBI's search warrant and slammed the Biden administration."Biden's FBI raided President Trump's beautiful Florida home," the Republican National Committee wrote in a fundraising email, adding that "it's hard to believe it but it's true." Read Full StoryLindsey Graham says 'nobody's above the law' after FBI raid, but added that he's 'suspicious' of the investigationSen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC).Ting Shen - Pool/Getty ImagesSouth Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham voiced a balanced reaction in response to the FBI's search warrant of former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago home compared to some of his colleagues."We're a nation of laws. Nobody's above the law. That's for darn sure," the Republican told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt. The Trump ally said, however, that he's "suspicious" of the Justice Department's investigation and called it "dangerous territory." Read Full StoryEx-RNC chairman calls Marjorie Taylor Greene a 'shitforbrains' Republican for demanding the FBI be defundedRep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Republican from GeorgiaDrew Angerer/Getty ImagesMichael Steele, former chairman of the Republican National Committee, slammed Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia for saying the FBI should be defunded. After the FBI searched former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago home, Greene tweeted "DEFUND THE FBI!"Steele quoted her tweet and said: "Trump failed to return classified docs requested by the National Archives. A federal judge issued a search warrant for probable cause of a crime. This is not some rando move by the FBI so you shitforbrains Republicans calling for 'defunding the FBI' for once try to be less stupid."Read Full StoryTrump family members react to FBI search, calling it 'political persecution'Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump.Chip Somodevilla/Getty ImagesMembers of the Trump family took to Twitter and Fox News to voice their response to the FBI's search of former president Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago home."Biden's out of control DOJ is ripping this country apart with how they're openly targeting their political enemies," Donald Trump Jr. wrote. "This is what you see happen in 3rd World Banana Republics!!!"Eric Trump told Fox News on Monday night that he was the "guy who got the call," that the FBI was executing a search warrant at Mar-a-Lago, calling it "political persecution.""Every day, we get another subpoena," he said. Read Full StoryA dozen House Republicans plan to dine with Trump in Bedminster on TuesdayFormer President Donald Trump is hosting a dozen of the most conservative House Republicans at his New Jersey golf club Tuesday night for a dinner meeting.Republican Study Committee Chairman Rep. Jim Banks is reportedly leading the group, set to meet just one day after the FBI raided Mar-a-Lago.Read Full StoryTrump talked about his 'strange day' while calling into a tele-rally for Sarah Palin hours after the FBI raidFormer President Donald Trump campaigns for former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin at a rally in Anchorage, Alaska on July 9, 2022.Justin Sullivan/Getty ImagesAfter the raid on his Mar-a-Lago residence, former president Donald Trump called into a tele-rally for former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin — a long-time political ally who is now seeking an open House seat in the state's August 16 special election."Another day in paradise. This is a strange day. You probably all read about it," Trump said during a roughly 15-minute call, according to the Anchorage Daily News.Palin thanked Trump for checking in, despite the news of the raid.  Read Full StoryPelosi says FBI raid on Trump was a major step and that 'no person is above the law'—TODAY (@TODAYshow) August 9, 2022House Speaker Nancy Pelosi described the FBI raid on former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago home as a major step, and said that not even a former president is "above the law."She is the highest-ranking Democrat to comment on the search, which took place on Monday.Pelosi was interviewed about the Monday raid on NBC's "Today" show Tuesday, where she was asked by host Savannah Guthrie if the search struck her as a "pretty serious step" for the Department of Justice to take.Pelosi replied: "Yes I think it does."She said later in the interview that Democrats "believe in the rule of law, and that's what our country is about and no person is above the law, not even the president of the United States, not even a former president of the United States."Read Full StoryMichael Cohen was jubilant after the FBI searched Trump's home, says he is finally being 'held accountable'Michael Cohen in July 2018 in New York City.Drew Angerer/Getty ImagesMichael Cohen, Donald Trump's former personal attorney and fixer, posted a celebratory video after FBI agents conducted a search of the ex-president's property in Mar-a-Lago, Florida. As news broke of the raid Cohen posted a selfie of himself grinning on Twitter, and in a video later posted on TikTok spelled out what he thinks the development could mean for his former boss."I can promise you only one thing, that whatever information that it is that they took from him, it's information he didn't want exposed," he said.He said Trump would frequently stash away compromising information in places he thought it was "impervious." "Let's just all rejoice the fact that this man who has avoided, legitimately avoided, any responsibility for anything is now going to be held accountable," said Cohen. "And it goes right back to the democratic adage 'no one is above the law.'"Read Full StoryMary Trump says her uncle is panicked by FBI raid and never believed the DOJ would take actionMary Trump speaking on MSNBC on August 8, 2022MSNBCThe niece of former President Donald Trump, Mary Trump, said that he is in "panic" after the FBI raided his home in Florida late on Monday. Trump "may have been told it was coming," but he would not have believed that the FBI would actually do it, Mary Trump told MSNBC on Monday.She has for years been a vocal critic of her uncle, who has attacked her in turn.Mary said that the raid would have been "a bit of a shock" to Trump, citing what she, a psychologist, called his "narcissism and sense of entitlement.""He may have known, been told it was coming, but he could not possibly believe it was coming, because it never has. So I think that's where that panic is coming from."Read Full StoryKevin McCarthy threatens to investigate DOJ over Trump FBI raid if Republicans retake the HouseHouse Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times via Getty ImagesHouse Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy threatened to investigate the DOJ and Attorney General Merrick Garland, using powers the Republican Party would gain if it retakes the House in November.In a statement Tuesday, McCarthy denounced the search conducted by FBI agents in Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort."I've seen enough. The Department of Justice has reached an intolerable state of weaponized politicization," McCarthy said in a statement."When Republicans take back the House, we will conduct immediate oversight of this department, follow the facts, and leave no stone unturned.""Attorney General Garland, preserve your documents and clear your calendar," McCarthy said.Read Full StoryA law forbidding presidents from destroying or mishandling records could be why FBI agents searched Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago homePolice direct traffic outside an entrance to former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate, Monday, Aug. 8, 2022, in Palm Beach, Florida.AP Photo/Terry RennaThe FBI search of Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort appears to be over material that Trump brought back to Florida after leaving the White House.The search appears to be over material that Trump brought back to Florida after leaving the White House. That decision spurred a federal investigation, and likely the search on Monday, linked to the Presidential Records Act.Under the act, presidential records are public property and presidents are obliged to store them properly, and not to destroy them.Read Full StoryThese GOP lawmakers say they're pro law-enforcement but voted against giving congressional medals to police. Now they're excoriating the FBI on Trump's behalf.Former President Donald Trump and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene at the LIV Golf Invitational on July 30, 2022.Jared C. Tilton/LIV Golf via Getty ImagesIn June 2021, 21 Republican lawmakers stood in opposition to legislation that would have awarded the Congressional Gold Medal to police officers who risked their lives at the Capitol during the January 6 riot.On Monday, a number of these GOP lawmakers joined a chorus of voices asking for the FBI to be destroyed and defunded for executing a search warrant at Mar-a-Lago. Here's what these lawmakers said about the FBI's search of Mar-a-Lago — and how it contrasts with their pro-law enforcement stance. READ MORERepublicans rail against the FBI search of Mar-a-Lago, calling for the FBI to be destroyed and defundedRepublican Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Paul Gosar of Arizona were among several Republican lawmakers calling for the FBI to be destroyed or defunded.Anna Moneymaker/Getty ImagesThe far-right faction of the Republican party is up in arms about the Federal Bureau of Investigation's search of Mar-a-Lago, calling for the agency to be defunded and destroyed. Trump ally and Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene was one of the first to tweet her disapproval of the search, posting on Twitter: "DEFUND THE FBI!"Colorado lawmaker Lauren Boebert tweeted that she wanted the GOP to "set up a Select Committee to investigate the FBI's politically-motivated raid on Mar-a-Lago and on ALL the fraudulent persecution of President Trump from our government."House Republicans' calls to defund and destroy a law enforcement organization stands in contrast to legislation their party introduced in May 2021 to "back the blue" in opposition to a progressive push to defund the police. As recently as May 2022, top-ranking Republicans like Rep. Elise Stefanik were still pushing the "back the blue" slogan — something that both Greene and Boebert have themselves staunchly supported.READ MORELawyers received instructions to secure Trump's document room months before the FBI search at Mar-a-LagoFormer President Donald Trump speaks to supporters at a rally on April 2, 2022, near Washington, Michigan.Scott Olson/Getty ImagesMonths before the raid on his Mar-a-Lago residence, former President Donald Trump's lawyers recieved instructions to "secure the room" in which he stored his documents, sources told CNN.The sources told CNN Trump aides added a padlock to his basement after investigators met with his lawyers at the Florida resort.Read MoreEric Trump says he was the 'guy who got the call' that the FBI was executing a search warrant at Mar-a-LagoEric Trump said on Monday night that he was the one who informed his father Mar-a-Lago was being searched.Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty ImagesTrump — speaking to Fox News host Sean Hannity — said he was "the guy that got the call this morning." "I called my father and let him know that it happened," Trump said. "So I was involved in this all day." After the search, Eric Trump complained to Hannity that he thought there is "no family in American history that has taken more arrows in the back than the Trump family." "Every day, we get another subpoena," Trump said. "That's what this is about today, to have 30 FBI agents — actually, more than that —descend on Mar-a-Lago give absolutely, you know, no notice. Go through the gate, start ransacking an office, ransacking a closet. You know, they broke into a safe. He didn't even have anything in the safe. I mean, give me a break." READ FULL STORYFeds likely obtained 'pulverizing' amount of evidence ahead of searching Trump's Mar-a-Lago home, legal experts sayFormer President Donald Trump speaks at a "Save America" rally in Waukesha, Wisconsin, on August 5, 2022.AP Photo/Morry GashFor months, as new details emerged about the end of the Trump administration, the Justice Department confronted criticism over its slow, cautious approach to investigating the former president.Again and again, Attorney General Merrick Garland met that criticism with what has almost become his personal mantra: The Justice Department, he says, will follow the "facts and the law."On Monday, the facts and the law led FBI agents to former President Donald Trump's home.Read Full StoryTrump's 2024 rivals are swooping in to support him, claiming the FBI search of Mar-a-Lago is politically-motivatedFlorida Gov. Ron DeSantis — largely thought of to be one of Trump's key rivals for the GOP presidential ticket in 2024 — tweeted in support of the former president.Joe Raedle/Getty ImagesTrump's potential rivals for a 2024 ticket quickly came to his defense on Monday night after the FBI searched Mar-a-Lago. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, widely thought of to be one of Trump's key rivals in a 2024 GOP primary, tweeted his support for the former president around an hour after Trump's statement about the FBI search dropped on Truth Social. "The raid of MAL is another escalation in the weaponization of federal agencies against the Regime's political opponents, while people like Hunter Biden get treated with kid gloves," DeSantis tweeted, adding that he thought the US was becoming a "banana republic."DeSantis was referencing an ongoing investigation into Hunter Biden's finances. Biden has not been charged with a crime and denies any wrongdoing.READ FULL STORYTrump supporters protest the execution of a search warrant against the former president outside Mar-a-Lago and FBI headquartersSupporters of former President Donald Trump hold flags in front of his home at Mar-A-Lago on August 8, 2022 in Palm Beach, Florida. The FBI raided the home to retrieve classified White House documents.Eva Marie Uzcategui/Getty ImagesAfter the FBI executed a search warrant on Donald Trump's residence at Mar-a-Lago on Monday, supporters of the former president gathered outside the Florida resort and FBI headquarters to protest.Though it was initially unclear which of several pending investigations into the former president the warrant was related to, ABC News cited sources saying it was in connection to 15 boxes of potentially classified documents Trump took with him from the White House to Mar-a-Lago at the end of his presidency. Read Full StoryTrump was perched in Trump Tower as he decried 'unauthorized raid on my home' at Mar-a-Lago resort: CNNTrump Tower in ManhattanSpencer Platt / Getty ImagesFormer President Donald Trump was in the comfort of his Trump Tower in New York City as federal agents executed a search warrant on his home in Mar-A-Lago, Florida, according to CNN reporter Kaitlin Collins.The search warrant was carried out in the early hours of Monday morning and was first reported by Florida Politics. Trump confirmed the search warrant in a statement, calling it an "unauthorized raid on my home.""Nothing like this has ever happened to a President of the United States before," his statement said. "After working and cooperating with the relevant Government agencies, this unannounced raid on my home was not necessary or appropriate."Read Full StoryThe Biden White House was unaware that the FBI was going to search Trump's Mar-a-Lago home until the former president announced it on social mediaFormer President Donald Trump speaks to the press at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, on November 22, 2018.Mandel Ngan / AFP via Getty ImagesThe Biden White House was unaware that the FBI was going to search former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago home, White House officials said.The former president accused the bureau of prosecutorial misconduct in a statement and suggested the search was part of a politically motivated plot to stop him from running for president in 2024.A senior White House official told CBS News' Ed O'Keefe that the Biden administration wasn't made aware of the search warrant until Trump released his statement about it."No advance knowledge," the official said. "Some learned from old media, some from social media."Read Full StoryDonald Trump's Mar-a-Lago home was searched by the FBI. Take a look inside his exclusive resort that the public never sees.Donald Trump outside the entrance of Mar-a-Lago on December 21, 2016.Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty ImagesDuring former President Donald Trump's time in the White House, his Mar-a-Lago residence in Palm Beach presidency exclusive resort was often referred to as "the winter White House."Now, it's just his house.Following the end of his presidential term, Trump decamped to the ornate resort. Mar-a-Lago has hosted a number of high-powered visitors over the years, as it has seemingly always served as the Trump family's gilded weekend getaway. Mar-a-Lago has served as a lavish backdrop to host important dignitaries with its elaborately decorated halls. It was built to impress.Case in point: the property was closed for 57 days amid the coronavirus pandemic after visitors like the press secretary to Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and Brazil's Chargé d'Affaires Ambassador Nestor Forster tested positive for the coronavirus in March.Here's a look inside the sprawling complex, which was built in the early 20th century, where the Trumps have hosted opulent holiday parties and watched Super Bowls alongside members of the exclusive private club.Read MoreTrump says FBI accessed his safe during raid at Mar-a-Lago: 'They even broke into my safe!'Former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at the Hilton Anatole on August 06, 2022 in Dallas, Texas. CPAC began in 1974, and is a conference that brings together and hosts conservative organizations, activists, and world leaders in discussing current events and future political agendas.Brandon Bell/Getty ImagesFormer President Donald Trump said the FBI went through his safe when they executed a search warrant at Mar-a-Lago on Monday. "They even broke into my safe!" Trump said in a Monday statement confirming the search.Read Full StoryThe FBI executed a search warrant at Trump's Mar-a-Lago homeRepublican Presidential frontrunner Donald Trump speaks to the media at the Mar-A-Lago Club on March 1, 2016 in Palm Beach, Florida. Trump held the press conference after the closing of Super Tuesday polls in a dozen statesJohn Moore/Getty ImagesFederal agents descended on former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago property in Florida on Monday, Trump announced in a statement.The former president denounced the raid as politically motivated, although he himself appointed the FBI's director, Christopher Wray.Read Full StoryRead the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytAug 9th, 2022

Mar-a-Lago raid live updates: Trump"s search warrant could be a grab-bag of potential federal charges, a longtime DOJ prosecutor predicts

Former President Donald Trump confirmed that the FBI searched Mar-a-Lago. Trump was out of state when federal agents raided his property in Florida. Donald Trump answers questions from reporters after making a video call to the troops stationed worldwide at the Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach Florida, on December 24, 2019.NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images The FBI searched former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago home on Monday, sparking a firestorm. Nancy Pelosi said no person is "above the law" after the raid, but Republicans condemned it as politically motivated. Republican lawmakers and right-wing organizations are now using the search to fundraise.  What's in Trump's search warrant? A grab-bag of potential federal charges, a longtime DOJ prosecutor predictedMar-a-Lago one day after the FBI raid.Kimberly Leonard/InsiderThe feds knew they had only one chance to search Mar-a-Lago — so they carried a big net, Gene Rossi, for three decades a federal prosecutor out of northern Virginia, predicted.The search warrant that got them inside the waterfront Palm Beach estate of former President Donald Trump may have only been one-page long — but the warrant would have authorized FBI agents to seize evidence related to multiple federal statutes, Rossi said."I would be shocked," Rossi told Insider if the search warrant did not list the federal statutes for insurrection, for sedition, and for obstruction — three charges Trump could potentially face for alleged involvement in the January 6, 2021 siege on the Capitol.Keep ReadingRepublicans revive false claim that DOJ called parents 'terrorists' after Mar-a-Lago raidRep. Jim Jordan, a Republican from OhioKevin Dietsch/Getty ImagesRepublicans who are furious with the FBI after the agency's search of former President Trump's Mar-a-Lago residence are reviving a false talking point that pits the Department of Justice against parents.Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin called the raid "stunning" in a tweet and said, "This same DOJ labeled parents in Loudoun County as terrorists."On Fox News, Rep. Jim Jordan, the House Judiciary Committee's highest-ranking Republican, made a similar claim about Attorney General Merrick Garland.Since last year, Republicans hoping to use culture wars to boost their chances in the midterm elections have said that the Biden administration and Democrats have branded parents who protest at school board meetings as domestic terrorists.Read Full StoryMar-a-Lago raid prompts elected Republicans to openly acknowledge that Trump will likely run for president againWhile Republicans slam the FBI's raid of Mar-a-Lago, many are also finally admitting in public that Trump is likely to run for president again in 2024.Trump has hinted at the prospect for months now, leaving Republicans reluctant to comment or speculate on the matter. "President Trump is likely going to run again in 2024," Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, a close Trump ally, wrote on Twitter."Joe Biden is trying to use the FBI to subdue his top political opponent because they are afraid of him running in 2024," Republican Rep. Diana Harshbarger wrote on Twitter. Read Full StoryPence defends Trump and expresses 'deep concern' over FBI's Mar-a-Lago raidThen-President Donald Trump shakes then-Vice President Mike Pence's hand after a 2019 rally.Zach Gibson/Getty ImagesFormer Vice President Mike Pence defended Donald Trump after FBI agents raided Mar-a-Lago."I share the deep concern of millions of Americans over the unprecedented search of the personal residence of President Trump," Pence wrote on Twitter.He continued: "After years where FBI agents were found to be acting on political motivation during our administration, the appearance of continued partisanship by the Justice Department must be addressed."Read Full StoryTrump nominated the FBI Director who led Mar-A-Lago search: 'He will make us all proud'Former President Donald Trump nominated Christoper Wray for FBI Director in 2017.Brandon Bell/Getty Images, MANDEL NGAN/POOL/AFP via Getty ImagesChristopher Wray, the FBI director who authorized the Mar-a-Lago search was picked for the gig by then-President Donald Trump in 2017.Trump, at the time, called Wray a man of "impeccable credentials.""We will have a great FBI director. I think he's doing really well and we're very proud of that choice. I think I've done a great service to the country by choosing him," Trump said in a speech during a 2017 visit to France. "He will make us all proud, and I think someday we'll see that and hopefully someday soon."Now, Wray is feeling pressure from GOP lawmakers in the wake of Monday's raid. Read Full StoryRepublicans are fundraising off the FBI's raid of Trump's 'beautiful Florida home' at Mar-a-LagoShortly after the FBI searched former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago home, Republicans and right-wing groups used the opportunity to boost political fundraising efforts.A volley of emails from GOP lawmakers, political action groups, and other organizations denounced the FBI's search warrant and slammed the Biden administration."Biden's FBI raided President Trump's beautiful Florida home," the Republican National Committee wrote in a fundraising email, adding that "it's hard to believe it but it's true." Read Full StoryLindsey Graham says 'nobody's above the law' after FBI raid, but added that he's 'suspicious' of the investigationSen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC).Ting Shen - Pool/Getty ImagesSouth Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham voiced a balanced reaction in response to the FBI's search warrant of former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago home compared to some of his colleagues."We're a nation of laws. Nobody's above the law. That's for darn sure," the Republican told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt. The Trump ally said, however, that he's "suspicious" of the Justice Department's investigation and called it "dangerous territory." Read Full StoryEx-RNC chairman calls Marjorie Taylor Greene a 'shitforbrains' Republican for demanding the FBI be defundedRep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Republican from GeorgiaDrew Angerer/Getty ImagesMichael Steele, former chairman of the Republican National Committee, slammed Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia for saying the FBI should be defunded. After the FBI searched former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago home, Greene tweeted "DEFUND THE FBI!"Steele quoted her tweet and said: "Trump failed to return classified docs requested by the National Archives. A federal judge issued a search warrant for probable cause of a crime. This is not some rando move by the FBI so you shitforbrains Republicans calling for 'defunding the FBI' for once try to be less stupid."Read Full StoryTrump family members react to FBI search, calling it 'political persecution'Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump.Chip Somodevilla/Getty ImagesMembers of the Trump family took to Twitter and Fox News to voice their response to the FBI's search of former president Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago home."Biden's out of control DOJ is ripping this country apart with how they're openly targeting their political enemies," Donald Trump Jr. wrote. "This is what you see happen in 3rd World Banana Republics!!!"Eric Trump told Fox News on Monday night that he was the "guy who got the call," that the FBI was executing a search warrant at Mar-a-Lago, calling it "political persecution.""Every day, we get another subpoena," he said. Read Full StoryA dozen House Republicans plan to dine with Trump in Bedminster on TuesdayFormer President Donald Trump is hosting a dozen of the most conservative House Republicans at his New Jersey golf club Tuesday night for a dinner meeting.Republican Study Committee Chairman Rep. Jim Banks is reportedly leading the group, set to meet just one day after the FBI raided Mar-a-Lago.Read Full StoryTrump talked about his 'strange day' while calling into a tele-rally for Sarah Palin hours after the FBI raidFormer President Donald Trump campaigns for former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin at a rally in Anchorage, Alaska on July 9, 2022.Justin Sullivan/Getty ImagesAfter the raid on his Mar-a-Lago residence, former president Donald Trump called into a tele-rally for former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin — a long-time political ally who is now seeking an open House seat in the state's August 16 special election."Another day in paradise. This is a strange day. You probably all read about it," Trump said during a roughly 15-minute call, according to the Anchorage Daily News.Palin thanked Trump for checking in, despite the news of the raid.  Read Full StoryPelosi says FBI raid on Trump was a major step and that 'no person is above the law'—TODAY (@TODAYshow) August 9, 2022House Speaker Nancy Pelosi described the FBI raid on former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago home as a major step, and said that not even a former president is "above the law."She is the highest-ranking Democrat to comment on the search, which took place on Monday.Pelosi was interviewed about the Monday raid on NBC's "Today" show Tuesday, where she was asked by host Savannah Guthrie if the search struck her as a "pretty serious step" for the Department of Justice to take.Pelosi replied: "Yes I think it does."She said later in the interview that Democrats "believe in the rule of law, and that's what our country is about and no person is above the law, not even the president of the United States, not even a former president of the United States."Read Full StoryMichael Cohen was jubilant after the FBI searched Trump's home, says he is finally being 'held accountable'Michael Cohen in July 2018 in New York City.Drew Angerer/Getty ImagesMichael Cohen, Donald Trump's former personal attorney and fixer, posted a celebratory video after FBI agents conducted a search of the ex-president's property in Mar-a-Lago, Florida. As news broke of the raid Cohen posted a selfie of himself grinning on Twitter, and in a video later posted on TikTok spelled out what he thinks the development could mean for his former boss."I can promise you only one thing, that whatever information that it is that they took from him, it's information he didn't want exposed," he said.He said Trump would frequently stash away compromising information in places he thought it was "impervious." "Let's just all rejoice the fact that this man who has avoided, legitimately avoided, any responsibility for anything is now going to be held accountable," said Cohen. "And it goes right back to the democratic adage 'no one is above the law.'"Read Full StoryMary Trump says her uncle is panicked by FBI raid and never believed the DOJ would take actionMary Trump speaking on MSNBC on August 8, 2022MSNBCThe niece of former President Donald Trump, Mary Trump, said that he is in "panic" after the FBI raided his home in Florida late on Monday. Trump "may have been told it was coming," but he would not have believed that the FBI would actually do it, Mary Trump told MSNBC on Monday.She has for years been a vocal critic of her uncle, who has attacked her in turn.Mary said that the raid would have been "a bit of a shock" to Trump, citing what she, a psychologist, called his "narcissism and sense of entitlement.""He may have known, been told it was coming, but he could not possibly believe it was coming, because it never has. So I think that's where that panic is coming from."Read Full StoryKevin McCarthy threatens to investigate DOJ over Trump FBI raid if Republicans retake the HouseHouse Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times via Getty ImagesHouse Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy threatened to investigate the DOJ and Attorney General Merrick Garland, using powers the Republican Party would gain if it retakes the House in November.In a statement Tuesday, McCarthy denounced the search conducted by FBI agents in Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort."I've seen enough. The Department of Justice has reached an intolerable state of weaponized politicization," McCarthy said in a statement."When Republicans take back the House, we will conduct immediate oversight of this department, follow the facts, and leave no stone unturned.""Attorney General Garland, preserve your documents and clear your calendar," McCarthy said.Read Full StoryA law forbidding presidents from destroying or mishandling records could be why FBI agents searched Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago homePolice direct traffic outside an entrance to former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate, Monday, Aug. 8, 2022, in Palm Beach, Florida.AP Photo/Terry RennaThe FBI search of Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort appears to be over material that Trump brought back to Florida after leaving the White House.The search appears to be over material that Trump brought back to Florida after leaving the White House. That decision spurred a federal investigation, and likely the search on Monday, linked to the Presidential Records Act.Under the act, presidential records are public property and presidents are obliged to store them properly, and not to destroy them.Read Full StoryThese GOP lawmakers say they're pro law-enforcement but voted against giving congressional medals to police. Now they're excoriating the FBI on Trump's behalf.Former President Donald Trump and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene at the LIV Golf Invitational on July 30, 2022.Jared C. Tilton/LIV Golf via Getty ImagesIn June 2021, 21 Republican lawmakers stood in opposition to legislation that would have awarded the Congressional Gold Medal to police officers who risked their lives at the Capitol during the January 6 riot.On Monday, a number of these GOP lawmakers joined a chorus of voices asking for the FBI to be destroyed and defunded for executing a search warrant at Mar-a-Lago. Here's what these lawmakers said about the FBI's search of Mar-a-Lago — and how it contrasts with their pro-law enforcement stance. READ MORERepublicans rail against the FBI search of Mar-a-Lago, calling for the FBI to be destroyed and defundedRepublican Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Paul Gosar of Arizona were among several Republican lawmakers calling for the FBI to be destroyed or defunded.Anna Moneymaker/Getty ImagesThe far-right faction of the Republican party is up in arms about the Federal Bureau of Investigation's search of Mar-a-Lago, calling for the agency to be defunded and destroyed. Trump ally and Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene was one of the first to tweet her disapproval of the search, posting on Twitter: "DEFUND THE FBI!"Colorado lawmaker Lauren Boebert tweeted that she wanted the GOP to "set up a Select Committee to investigate the FBI's politically-motivated raid on Mar-a-Lago and on ALL the fraudulent persecution of President Trump from our government."House Republicans' calls to defund and destroy a law enforcement organization stands in contrast to legislation their party introduced in May 2021 to "back the blue" in opposition to a progressive push to defund the police. As recently as May 2022, top-ranking Republicans like Rep. Elise Stefanik were still pushing the "back the blue" slogan — something that both Greene and Boebert have themselves staunchly supported.READ MORELawyers received instructions to secure Trump's document room months before the FBI search at Mar-a-LagoFormer President Donald Trump speaks to supporters at a rally on April 2, 2022, near Washington, Michigan.Scott Olson/Getty ImagesMonths before the raid on his Mar-a-Lago residence, former President Donald Trump's lawyers recieved instructions to "secure the room" in which he stored his documents, sources told CNN.The sources told CNN Trump aides added a padlock to his basement after investigators met with his lawyers at the Florida resort.Read MoreEric Trump says he was the 'guy who got the call' that the FBI was executing a search warrant at Mar-a-LagoEric Trump said on Monday night that he was the one who informed his father Mar-a-Lago was being searched.Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty ImagesTrump — speaking to Fox News host Sean Hannity — said he was "the guy that got the call this morning." "I called my father and let him know that it happened," Trump said. "So I was involved in this all day." After the search, Eric Trump complained to Hannity that he thought there is "no family in American history that has taken more arrows in the back than the Trump family." "Every day, we get another subpoena," Trump said. "That's what this is about today, to have 30 FBI agents — actually, more than that —descend on Mar-a-Lago give absolutely, you know, no notice. Go through the gate, start ransacking an office, ransacking a closet. You know, they broke into a safe. He didn't even have anything in the safe. I mean, give me a break." READ FULL STORYFeds likely obtained 'pulverizing' amount of evidence ahead of searching Trump's Mar-a-Lago home, legal experts sayFormer President Donald Trump speaks at a "Save America" rally in Waukesha, Wisconsin, on August 5, 2022.AP Photo/Morry GashFor months, as new details emerged about the end of the Trump administration, the Justice Department confronted criticism over its slow, cautious approach to investigating the former president.Again and again, Attorney General Merrick Garland met that criticism with what has almost become his personal mantra: The Justice Department, he says, will follow the "facts and the law."On Monday, the facts and the law led FBI agents to former President Donald Trump's home.Read Full StoryTrump's 2024 rivals are swooping in to support him, claiming the FBI search of Mar-a-Lago is politically-motivatedFlorida Gov. Ron DeSantis — largely thought of to be one of Trump's key rivals for the GOP presidential ticket in 2024 — tweeted in support of the former president.Joe Raedle/Getty ImagesTrump's potential rivals for a 2024 ticket quickly came to his defense on Monday night after the FBI searched Mar-a-Lago. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, widely thought of to be one of Trump's key rivals in a 2024 GOP primary, tweeted his support for the former president around an hour after Trump's statement about the FBI search dropped on Truth Social. "The raid of MAL is another escalation in the weaponization of federal agencies against the Regime's political opponents, while people like Hunter Biden get treated with kid gloves," DeSantis tweeted, adding that he thought the US was becoming a "banana republic."DeSantis was referencing an ongoing investigation into Hunter Biden's finances. Biden has not been charged with a crime and denies any wrongdoing.READ FULL STORYTrump supporters protest the execution of a search warrant against the former president outside Mar-a-Lago and FBI headquartersSupporters of former President Donald Trump hold flags in front of his home at Mar-A-Lago on August 8, 2022 in Palm Beach, Florida. The FBI raided the home to retrieve classified White House documents.Eva Marie Uzcategui/Getty ImagesAfter the FBI executed a search warrant on Donald Trump's residence at Mar-a-Lago on Monday, supporters of the former president gathered outside the Florida resort and FBI headquarters to protest.Though it was initially unclear which of several pending investigations into the former president the warrant was related to, ABC News cited sources saying it was in connection to 15 boxes of potentially classified documents Trump took with him from the White House to Mar-a-Lago at the end of his presidency. Read Full StoryTrump was perched in Trump Tower as he decried 'unauthorized raid on my home' at Mar-a-Lago resort: CNNTrump Tower in ManhattanSpencer Platt / Getty ImagesFormer President Donald Trump was in the comfort of his Trump Tower in New York City as federal agents executed a search warrant on his home in Mar-A-Lago, Florida, according to CNN reporter Kaitlin Collins.The search warrant was carried out in the early hours of Monday morning and was first reported by Florida Politics. Trump confirmed the search warrant in a statement, calling it an "unauthorized raid on my home.""Nothing like this has ever happened to a President of the United States before," his statement said. "After working and cooperating with the relevant Government agencies, this unannounced raid on my home was not necessary or appropriate."Read Full StoryThe Biden White House was unaware that the FBI was going to search Trump's Mar-a-Lago home until the former president announced it on social mediaFormer President Donald Trump speaks to the press at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, on November 22, 2018.Mandel Ngan / AFP via Getty ImagesThe Biden White House was unaware that the FBI was going to search former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago home, White House officials said.The former president accused the bureau of prosecutorial misconduct in a statement and suggested the search was part of a politically motivated plot to stop him from running for president in 2024.A senior White House official told CBS News' Ed O'Keefe that the Biden administration wasn't made aware of the search warrant until Trump released his statement about it."No advance knowledge," the official said. "Some learned from old media, some from social media."Read Full StoryDonald Trump's Mar-a-Lago home was searched by the FBI. Take a look inside his exclusive resort that the public never sees.Donald Trump outside the entrance of Mar-a-Lago on December 21, 2016.Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty ImagesDuring former President Donald Trump's time in the White House, his Mar-a-Lago residence in Palm Beach presidency exclusive resort was often referred to as "the winter White House."Now, it's just his house.Following the end of his presidential term, Trump decamped to the ornate resort. Mar-a-Lago has hosted a number of high-powered visitors over the years, as it has seemingly always served as the Trump family's gilded weekend getaway. Mar-a-Lago has served as a lavish backdrop to host important dignitaries with its elaborately decorated halls. It was built to impress.Case in point: the property was closed for 57 days amid the coronavirus pandemic after visitors like the press secretary to Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and Brazil's Chargé d'Affaires Ambassador Nestor Forster tested positive for the coronavirus in March.Here's a look inside the sprawling complex, which was built in the early 20th century, where the Trumps have hosted opulent holiday parties and watched Super Bowls alongside members of the exclusive private club.Read MoreTrump says FBI accessed his safe during raid at Mar-a-Lago: 'They even broke into my safe!'Former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at the Hilton Anatole on August 06, 2022 in Dallas, Texas. CPAC began in 1974, and is a conference that brings together and hosts conservative organizations, activists, and world leaders in discussing current events and future political agendas.Brandon Bell/Getty ImagesFormer President Donald Trump said the FBI went through his safe when they executed a search warrant at Mar-a-Lago on Monday. "They even broke into my safe!" Trump said in a Monday statement confirming the search.Read Full StoryThe FBI executed a search warrant at Trump's Mar-a-Lago homeRepublican Presidential frontrunner Donald Trump speaks to the media at the Mar-A-Lago Club on March 1, 2016 in Palm Beach, Florida. Trump held the press conference after the closing of Super Tuesday polls in a dozen statesJohn Moore/Getty ImagesFederal agents descended on former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago property in Florida on Monday, Trump announced in a statement.The former president denounced the raid as politically motivated, although he himself appointed the FBI's director, Christopher Wray.Read Full StoryRead the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytAug 9th, 2022

Republicans rail against the FBI search of Mar-a-Lago, calling for the FBI to be destroyed and defunded

Calls to defund and destroy a law enforcement organization stand in contrast to legislation the GOP introduced to oppose progressive pushes to defund police. GOP Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Paul Gosar were among several Republican lawmakers calling for the FBI to be destroyed or defunded.Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images Members of the GOP's far-right wing are calling for the FBI to be destroyed and defunded. The calls came after Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago residence was searched by agents. In May 2021, House Republicans introduced a "Back the Blue Act" to fend off progressives' push to defund the police. The far-right faction of the Republican party is up in arms about the Federal Bureau of Investigation's search of Mar-a-Lago, calling for the agency to be defunded and destroyed. Trump ally and Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene was one of the first to tweet her disapproval of the search, posting on Twitter: "DEFUND THE FBI!" She then followed that up with a tweet reading: "Elections are how Americans solve political differences. Not by radicalizing our federal law enforcement to take political enemies out. This is why we must protect election integrity." She was joined by other GOP lawmakers who came out against law enforcement in support of Trump."The FBI raid on Trump's home tells us one thing. Failure is not an option," Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar tweeted. "We must destroy the FBI. We must save America."Colorado lawmaker Lauren Boebert tweeted that she wanted the GOP to "set up a Select Committee to investigate the FBI's politically-motivated raid on Mar-a-Lago and on ALL the fraudulent persecution of President Trump from our government.""This cannot wait. We are turning into a banana republic at record speed," Boebert wrote.Speaking on Fox News, Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio called on Attorney General Merrick Garland and FBI Director Christopher Wray to answer questions at the House Judiciary Committee on Friday. "What were you really doing? What were you looking for? Why not talk to President Trump and have him give the information you're after?" Jordan questioned angrily. "This is unbelievable!" House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy tweeted a warning to Garland, signaling that a GOP-controlled Congress would investigate the FBI's search of Trump's property."I've seen enough. The Department of Justice has reached an intolerable state of weaponized politicization," McCarthy tweeted. "When Republicans take back the House, we will conduct immediate oversight of this department, follow the facts, and leave no stone unturned," McCarthy wrote. "Attorney General Garland, preserve your documents and clear your calendar." House Republicans' calls to defund and destroy a law enforcement organization stands in contrast to legislation their party introduced in May 2021 to "back the blue" in opposition to a progressive push to defund the police. As recently as May 2022, top-ranking Republicans like Rep. Elise Stefanik were still pushing the "back the blue" slogan — something that both Greene and Boebert have themselves staunchly supported.The congressional lawmakers' posts join a chorus of conservative voices decrying the FBI's execution of a search warrant at Mar-a-Lago on Monday. For one, Trump's 2024 rivals like Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio swooped in to support Trump on Monday.In the midst of GOP lawmakers' allegations of the investigation being politically motivated, it is worth noting that Wray, the FBI chief, was a Trump appointee nominated in June 2017. At the time, Trump described him as "a man of impeccable credentials."It is unclear what investigation the search warrant for Mar-a-Lago was related to, though three sources told CNN it was related to whether or not Trump mishandled classified government documents. The National Archives also asked the DOJ in February to look into whether Trump broke laws by removing documents from the White House and bringing them to Mar-a-Lago.Legal experts told Insider on Monday night that securing a federal search warrant against an ex-president is no easy feat. The experts said agents must prove an extremely high degree of probable cause and that the FBI likely had an overwhelming amount of credible evidence ahead of the search before even applying to a judge to grant such a warrant. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytAug 9th, 2022

I spent two and a half hours with David Farnsworth, the Trump-backed candidate who defeated January 6 committee witness Rusty Bowers. Here"s what I learned about religion, "conspiracy facts," and the modern Republican party.

In a lengthy interview with Insider, Farnsworth suggested Satan was behind Trump's 2020 election laws and indulged several other conspiracy theories. Former state Sen. David Farnsworth attends a Trump rally in Prescott, Arizona on July 22, 2022.AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin Trump has endorsed former Sen. David Farnsworth to take out AZ House Speaker Rusty Bowers. Farnsworth spoke to me for 2.5 hours about why he's challenging Bowers, a prominent Jan. 6 committee witness. It was a window into how faith, conspiratorial thinking, and the conservative movement intersect. Note: A previous version of this story was published ahead of the August 2 primary. It has been updated in light of Farnsworth's victory.MESA, Arizona — Even as he was in the midst of his seventh campaign for office in Arizona, David Farnsworth insisted that he really, really, really doesn't like politics."I am confident that anywhere there's a consolidation of money and power, evil people are going to congregate there," he said. "It's unpleasant business, a lot of deal making, which just doesn't fit my personality."Farnsworth, who served in the Arizona Senate from 2013 until 2021, emerged from retirement to take on Rusty Bowers, a former colleague and the outgoing speaker of the Arizona House. The 71-year-old was recruited by Republican figures in Arizona who say the 2020 election was stolen, and who viewed Bowers — recently a star witness at a June hearing of the January 6 committee — as a turncoat who stood in the way of advancing the MAGA agenda.Sitting in his home office as his wife, Robin, looked on, Farnsworth spoke with me about his abiding faith as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, his reasons for challenging Bowers, and how those two things intertwine.Farnsworth competed against Bowers, who's term-limited from continuing to serve in the House, for the prize of representing the newly-drawn 10th legislative district in the Arizona Senate. Covering the eastern half of Mesa, the district has a strong conservative bent, and the Farnsworth is almost certainly likely to serve come January 2023.Shortly after Bowers' June testimony, Farnsworth earned the official backing of former President Donald Trump, Arizona GOP chair Kelli Ward, and Republican Rep. Andy Biggs, a former House Freedom Caucus chair who represents Mesa in Congress.On the plane from Washington to Phoenix earlier this month, I contacted both Farnsworth and Bowers for a story about the primary, which was shaping up to be the latest stop on an ongoing revenge war by the former president against his intra-party political foes. The election also posed an intriguing juxtaposition with the January 6 committee, given the timing of the primary just weeks after Bowers' testimony.But while the outgoing speaker would make time for a 45-minute phone call, Farnsworth invited me to his home — at least for an hour, he requested — so he could fully explain his worldview.Once I landed, I gave Farnsworth a call.Before he would fully agree to an interview, he asked what Insider's partisan leanings were (nonpartisan) and what my own opinions of Trump might have been. I replied that Trump was "certainly a consequential president" and "someone who is clearly going to continue to have significant sway over the future of the party."And before handing over his address, he had one final question."My favorite thing to do is have discussions where I mix patriotism and religion," he said. "Are you comfortable with doing that?"'We wished we were not in the race'I arrived about three hours later at Farnsworth's home in eastern Mesa, where he greeted me in front of his modest, ranch-style house along a major thoroughfare. We made our way to Farnsworth's home office, where his wife Robin offered me a glass of ice-cold water; it was roughly 115 degrees Fahrenheit outside.Outside of politics, Farnsworth has worked in real estate, including a successful career flipping houses. He mentioned that he and his wife hope to make a trip to San Diego soon."I'm hands on, I do my own work, I do my own plumbing, electrical, and sheet rock, and Robin's right there with me painting the walls," he said. "We have a little Airbnb up in Snowflake, and that's a story of its own."The former state senator sat before a bookshelf stocked with two different compendiums of Arizona state law, copies of the Book of Mormon in several different languages, "How to Get Rich" by Donald Trump, and books warning of the dangers of the United Nations, marijuana legalization, and communism.Above the shelf sat an oversized pencil emblazoned with "Making a Mark for School Choice," along with a portrait of Farnsworth with President Trump, the man whose endorsement powered him to victory.Former Sen. David Farnsworth at his home in Mesa, Arizona on July 13, 2022.Bryan Metzger/InsiderI recognized the shelves as Farnsworth's backdrop at a virtual debate he'd had with Bowers just days earlier. Despite the fact that many of the MAGA-aligned forces backing Farnsworth were intent on seeing Bowers fall, I had been struck by the congenial, low-key nature of the debate."I had a whole script here that would have taken it away from that," said Farnsworth. "I've known Rusty for a long time, and, well, I just made the decision not to talk about the negative."Farnsworth previously served with Bowers in the Arizona House from 1994 to 1996. "I won't say that Rusty and I were friends, but certainly pleasant acquaintances," said Farnsworth. "I mean, we sat next to each other, literally, in the House for two years."In the middle of their virtual debate, Farnsworth even displayed a caricature that Bowers once drew of him.  "I'm gonna sit in on this, is that okay?" asked his wife Robin, who later explained that she didn't want her husband to be "twisted around" by a reporter. "That's happened one time before."Farnsworth had warned me ahead of time that he's prone to giving lengthy answers to questions, a warning that he would ultimately follow through with. He began by explaining how he'd been encouraged by fellow Republicans to run for office again, and how he was viewed as the one man who could take on Bowers in a district with a strong Mormon influence. As he recounted the story of his recruitment, he took pains not to reveal the identity of the state senator who had reached out, explaining that he feared Bowers might retaliate against her.But then, he slipped up."And then I said, Kelly, I don't want to do it — oops, I slipped didn't I," he said. "Strike that, will you?"The "Kelly" in question was Sen. Kelly Townsend, another MAGA-aligned Republican who was later forthright when I asked her if she'd encouraged Farnsworth to run. "I just don't want to have to serve with him again," she said of Bowers in a phone call days later.For the Farnsworths, the campaign had been "overwhelming.""We have both questioned that decision numerous times since then, and in fact, we have expressed to each other that we wished we were not in the race," he said. "And of course, perhaps that brings up more questions than it does answers, I don't know."'My father warned me not to trust the brethren'By the time our conversation reached the one-hour mark, Farnsworth had produced a large, well-worn, marked-up copy of the Book of Mormon from his shelf, and was reciting passages from it while explaining how scripture influenced his way of thinking.He began with one chapter detailing the struggle between "freemen" and "King-men" among the Nephites, a group that settled in the Americas hundreds of years before the birth of Jesus Christ, according to Mormon teachings. He likened that dichotomy to "freedom-loving people" and "socialists" in modern-day America. He later moved on to a section detailing "secret combinations" that "will seek to destroy the freedom of all lands," which he likened to "the insiders, One World Government people, the socialists" of the modern day. At one point during that discussion, he made a passing reference to the "Clinton Body Count" conspiracy theory.Farnsworth also said that there were "two types" of Mormons, which he suggested was the explanation for the difference between him and Bowers."There are those who look at their leaders as being infallible, almost," said Farnsworth. "And then, you've got the mindset of those that are a little more realistic about it."In a roundabout way, he said that he places himself in the latter group, pointing to teachings from Brigham Young, the first president of the church, warning of the perils of blindly following leaders."My father warned me not to trust the brethren," he said, referring to church authorities. "I believe it was really good for me, because it caused me, at a young age, to question and decide what the proper course is."It is this mode of thinking — a distrust of authority coupled with a religious conviction in the sanctity of Scripture — that seems to influence much of how Farnsworth approaches politics, whether he's discussing the official certification of the 2020 election in Arizona, public health authorities' pronouncements about the efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines, the motivations of the Mormon-owned Deseret News, or the operating procedures of the state's Department of Child Safety.I later sought Bowers' take on some of the things Farnsworth had told me."I believe that there are conspiracies in the world," Bowers told me over the phone, making a passing reference to Russian President Vladimir Putin and the war in Ukraine. "That doesn't mean every time I disagree with somebody, that they're part of a secret combination."Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers greets January 6 committee vice chair Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming following his testimony on June 21, 2022.Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty ImagesFarnsworth's case against Bowers was essentially two-fold. The first issue, and the reason for which Trump and others backed him, is that he believes Bowers did not do enough to ensure faith in the state's electoral processes in the wake of the 2020 election."You have to have elections that people have confidence in, or you don't have a country," said Farnsworth.The second issue is his belief that Bowers — who, like Farnsworth, is a member of the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — strayed from church doctrine by holding a hearing on an LGBTQ nondiscrimination bill that's been endorsed by the Mormon church in the most recent legislative session."Have you read about what Rusty has said on the — I don't even know the initials — L, G, B, T," he began as his wife helped him remember the rest of the acronym. Later on, she would ask me what those same letters stood for."My foundation is the doctrine of my church, and it flavors everything I do," he said, gesturing towards the books on his shelf. "I believe this is the word of God. I'm reading the Old Testament right now, three chapters every morning. Really enjoying it."Farnsworth then diverted, expounding for about 15 minutes on the history of the Mormons, his take on the Founding Fathers' conception of the separation of church and state, and the notion of free will before returning to the subject of the nondiscrimination bill."It is contrary to our church doctrine," he said, pointing to the church's 1995 proclamation stating that marriage is between one man and one woman."It lays out the doctrine of — well, you can find the same thing in the Old Testament, right?" he said. "In fact, the penalties were very severe in the Old Testament on homosexual activities, adultery, and so forth. They took you out to town and stoned you."Farnsworth added, positively, that the New Testament had put more of a "loving flavor" over the Old Testament, but maintained that the 1995 proclamation was "contrary" to the bill that Bowers held a hearing about."If you read the Deseret News, it really sounds like my church is encouraging Rusty to push that bill," said Farnsworth, referring to the LDS-backed bill. "But who owns Deseret News, and who's the one that controls them?"Later, as we wrapped up our conversation, Farnsworth added that he believes that sexuality is a choice."We love gay people, we should love them. It's the Christ-like thing to do. But we do not condone their lifestyle, we try to save them from it," he said, drawing a contrast between nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ people and people of color. "To give someone that same protected class because of a lifestyle choice they make? That doesn't carry the same logic."'It is a conspiracy fact'"I have two mentors, two heroes," said Farnsworth. "I kind of like President Trump, but I don't count him as one of the two."One hero that Farnsworth named was Captain Moroni, a military commander who defended the freedom of the Nephites against the "King-men" that he had mentioned before. He mentioned he owned a tie emblazoned with Moroni's image. The other hero, who Farnsworth says "warned us about the swamp," was Ezra Taft Benson.Benson, who served as President Dwight Eisenhower's secretary of Agriculture before going on to become the 13th president of the church, had ties to the right-wing John Birch Society. He was well-known for his crusade against communism, and his belief that the leftist ideology was itself a "secret combination." In 1972, he considered running on a presidential ticket with George Wallace, the segregationist Alabama governor."If you want to know what I believe, and how I feel, just Google Ezra Taft Benson," he said. "Because I don't disagree with anything he ever said."And Farnsworth is fond of a particular quote of Benson's."There is no conspiracy theory in the Book of Mormon — it is a conspiracy fact," Benson said in a 1972 speech entitled "Civic Standards for the Faithful Saints." The readiness with which Farnsworth will interpret events as a Satanic conspiracy may explain his position on the 2020 presidential election. During his virtual debate with Bowers, the former state senator said the "devil himself" was behind the supposed theft of the election, an exchange that Farnsworth brought up unprompted when speaking with me."This is larger than any of us, because every tyrant that ever lived has been inspired by Satan to take control over the hearts and minds and souls and bodies and lives of mankind," Farnsworth told me.A street near Farnsworth’s home in Mesa, Arizona on July 16, 2022.Bryan Metzger/InsiderFarnsworth also said he has "no doubt" that the 2020 election was stolen, but was up-front in declaring that he personally has no evidence to back up that assertion. Instead, he referred three separate times to "2000 Mules," the widely-debunked Dinesh D'Souza film that purports to show how ballot fraud influenced the 2020 election, which he insisted I find the time to watch. "This came out recently, but it reinforces how I already felt. I felt that the election was stolen. I believed it was stolen, because I know Arizona," he said."No, I'm not an attorney. I'm not a brilliant researcher. I can't give you the proof," he also said. "But I am confident that the election was stolen."His overall argument boiled down to this: With distrust in elections so high (in no small part due to Trump's baseless claims of a stolen election), Bowers had the responsibility to hold hearings and get to the bottom of the issue.I asked about the details of Trump's pressure campaign against Bowers, which culminated in asking the Arizona house speaker to move to decertify the state's Biden electors, according to Bowers' sworn testimony. Farnsworth says he would've understood how Bowers turned down that request, but insisted that wasn't what happened."If that's all he saw was, 'they're asking me to steal the election for Donald Trump,' and he stood against it, I'd call him a hero too," said Farnsworth. "But that wasn't the only option, and I don't believe that's what they were asking him to do."I asked him if he thought other Democrats elected statewide in Arizona in recent years, including Sen. Mark Kelly in 2020 and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema in 2018, had also been elected fraudulently."I don't know. It wouldn't surprise me. I have no evidence," he said. "I have no strong feelings one way or the other."'A shot that probably does more harm than good'Farnsworth's conspiratorial thinking took him in a variety of directions, leading him at one point to allege that a man associated with an outside political spending effort in support of Bowers was "working for Satan."He also criticized the Deseret News for its favorable coverage of Bowers, suggesting another conspiracy was afoot by a news outlet with a wide reach among members of the Church."I don't know who owns the Deseret News, but the word 'Deseret' comes from the Book of Mormon," he said. "So people view that as doctrinal. And yes, it troubles me that they have worked so hard — from what I've seen looking at their articles, it's not objective. Their intention is to make a hero out of Rusty Bowers."He wondered at several points "what happened" to his primary opponent. "You know, I would love to see inside Rusty's head to see what happened to him," says Farnsworth.And he spoke of his frustration with the closing of congregations amidst the COVID-19 pandemic."The most frustrating thing of my life was when our churches were shut down," he said. "And when we could go back, we had to wear masks, but the most frustrating thing of all, we were not allowed to sing!""If this is a real epidemic, why wouldn't we be fasting and praying that the Lord would turn it aside, rather than going after the solutions of men?" he added. "Which is a shot that probably does more harm than good."I asked, for good measure, whether he's been vaccinated. He replied that he's never even taken a COVID test.On a yard sign for David Farnsworth, an endorsement message from former President Donald Trump obscures the former state senator's middle name.Bryan Metzger/Insider'We have evil people in our church'At one point in the conversation, I had asked Farnsworth what he made of figures like Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah and former Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona — two prominent Mormon Republicans who had been among the harshest GOP critics of Trump.His wife had interjected to say that "they're not" Mormons."There is a lot of judgment — I'll say in the world, I'm not going to pick on my own church," said Farnsworth, alluding to Trump's aggressiveness and often crude language. "To me it comes down to who really understands the truth of the doctrine."He insisted on reading from one of Ezra Taft Benson's books before I left, landing on a passage arguing that followers of the devil had been placed "within the kingdom in order to try to destroy it.""This was approved by the First Presidency when he was a prophet, so I would say this is church doctrine," he said. "This is the Prophet, the president of the Church, saying we have infiltrators, we have evil people in our church."He eventually came to liken Flake and other Trump-critical Republicans to the infiltrators of which Benson spoke, before appearing to come to grips in real time with the implications of his analogy."I'm not saying Jeff is an evil man," he insisted. "I'm not saying Rusty's an evil man."At that point, I had to leave for my next event. Farnsworth thanked me for indulging him, and I thanked him for the opportunity."I haven't done this very often," he said. "And this is obviously the longest interview I've ever had with a reporter."The Mesa Arizona Temple on July 16, 2022.Bryan Metzger/Insider'Some of the comments they made seemed logical to me'"Everybody is scared to death of Dave Farnsworth," Bowers would later tell me. "He doesn't invest intellectual capital."I had been unable to make time during my lengthy interview with Farnsworth to ask him about QAnon, a conspiracy theory that posits that Trump is engaged in an ongoing, secret war against elite, Satan-worshiping pedophiles.The Arizona Mirror had reported that Farnsworth said his "basic impression" of the conspiracy theory is that it was "credible.""I have talked to quite a few people who really believe they are good people who are trying to bring out the truth," Farnsworth once texted a friend, according to a screenshot shared with the outlet. "You are the first person I have known who doesn't think they make sense."And in his prior tenure as a senator, Farnsworth had been known for undertaking investigations of allegations of child sex-trafficking in the Department of Child Safety, which eventually led to a dust-up with a fellow Republican state senator after she told him to cut it out.I called Farnsworth again on Monday as he was driving back down to Mesa from Snowflake — a heavily-Mormon town in eastern Arizona co-founded by the great-great-grandfather of Sen. Flake — where the Farnsworths maintain an Airbnb."I know almost nothing about them. All I've seen is, you know, snatches where something would pop up on Facebook or, you know, something I couldn't avoid," he said of QAnon. "And some of the comments they made seemed logical to me."Having spent hours speaking with Farnsworth about his worldview, his explanation largely made sense to me."My philosophy is, I learn from wherever I can," he added. "If something fits into, you know, the jigsaw puzzle of understanding that we continually work on, then I don't accept or reject according to where I hear it. I accept or reject according to the logic of what is presented."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderAug 3rd, 2022

The Fulton County DA"s experience prosecuting teachers with a crime typically used against the Mafia offers clues to how she may charge Trump

District Attorney Fani Willis' role in the Atlanta testing scandal offers a glimpse into how she could use racketeering charges to prosecute Trump. Fulton County Georgia District Attorney Fani Willis.AP Photo/Ben Gray, File District Attorney Fani Willis is expanding her probe into former President Donald Trump. Willis has prosecuted high-profile racketeering cases. Experts familiar with state law say racketeering charges may be her best avenue to convict Trump.  The Georgia prosecutor pursuing one of the most high-stakes investigations in US history built her career by successfully using racketeering charges, typically employed against organized crime, to convict Atlanta public school teachers for conspiring to alter student test scores.Those RICO cases, and a key hire of a racketeering law expert to her staff, offer a window into how experts believe she is likely to build any criminal case against Donald Trump and his allies in connection with efforts to overturn the state's 2020 presidential election result. Willis has hired a Georgia-based lawyer who wrote a national guide on RICO prosecutions, and legal experts familiar with state law believe racketeering charges may be her best avenue to convict Trump. "I'm glad that she's using him because he's absolutely the best," Clint Rucker, a former prosecutor that worked alongside Willis during the Atlanta teacher case, said of the RICO expert.Willis is ramping up her 17-month investigation into Trump and whether he or his associates tried to interfere in the Georgia 2020 elections. Her probe has expanded to include looking into members of Trump's inner circle and examining an alleged scheme to send a fake slate of electors to Georgia's state Capitol in Atlanta in an attempt to overturn the election result.Willis has hinted that she could decide whether to formally charge Trump as early as this fall. Potential state criminal charges against the former president could include election fraud solicitation, interference with the performance of election duties, and racketeering. Trump has repeatedly pushed back against the investigation and Willis."The young, ambitious, Radical Left Democrat 'Prosecutor' from Georgia, who is presiding over one of the most Crime Ridden and Corrupt places in the USA, Fulton County, has put together a Grand Jury to investigate an absolutely 'PERFECT' phone call to the Secretary of State," Trump wrote on Truth Social, the social media platform he founded, in May.Georgia lawyers told Insider about why the Atlanta cheating scandal — brought nearly a decade before Willis became Fulton County's district attorney, while she was an assistant DA in the office — offers a glimpse into how her Trump investigation could turn into one of the biggest cases ever brought by a local prosecutor.Prosecutors Fani Willis and Clint Rucker speak at a news conference for the Atlanta school cheating trial.Kent D. Johnson/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via APThe Atlanta teacher caseIn 2011, a Georgia state investigation concluded that dozens of educators had falsified standardized test results. The alleged cheating was believed to date back as far as 2001, according to state investigators. About 180 teachers and administrators were initially implicated in the scandal. In 2013, a grand jury indicted 35 Atlanta public school educators and administrators on racketeering charges. Between 2005 and 2009, these individuals illegally altered and falsely certified students' test answers, the indictment alleged. Rucker said they worked countless hours to prepare for the trial that began in 2014. "We worked together every day, from 8:30 in the morning to 7:30 o'clock at night, on weekends," he said. "We canceled all our holidays, vacations, birthdays, kids events. We worked around the clock for almost two years to prepare the case."Bob Rubin, a criminal defense attorney who represented a former elementary school teacher in the cheating scandal, said he was initially surprised that Fulton County prosecutors charged his client and others with racketeering. This kind of crime is usually associated with criminal mobs or gang organizations. But it can also apply to an individual or group of individuals who conspire to carry out crimes. Under Georgia's Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, it is a crime for an individual to commit a pattern of criminal conduct or intimidate another individual to commit any crime. Typically, prosecutors use RICO laws to help them make a broader case against an individual on the series of crimes they have committed, and Georgia law also allows prosecutors to bring RICO charges even if the crimes are not able to be "indicted separately," according to a report by the Brookings Institute. In the case of the Atlanta school teachers, Willis argued that these teachers conspired to change the answers on their student's standardized test scores to have more favorable test results in their 50,000-student school district. Willis had students, parents and teachers testify before the jury on the high pressure environment that former Superintendent Beverly Hall created around test results. She also had former school teachers and staff who worked alongside of the defendants testify against them and explain how some of these defendants conspired to cheat. Willis presented evidence that some of the teachers on trial gave students answers to their standardized tests and how other former Atlanta Public School executives tried covering up the cheating.Willis was also initially opposed to charging the teachers with racketeering, Rucker told Insider. "She thought it was too complex, and she thought it was perhaps not necessary and perhaps even overcharging the case," he said.Rucker said then-Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard ultimately decided to pursue these charges.Willis' prosecutions on racketeering grounds would prove successful, and make her career. In 2015, 11 of the 12 school educators were convicted on racketeering charges. One of the defendants passed away while awaiting trial.  Willis's office did not respond to Insider's request for comment. Howard also did not respond to comment.Former President Donald Trump.Allison Joyce/Getty Images'Outwork anyone'During the Atlanta teacher investigation, Howard decided to bring in John Floyd, a well-known Atlanta civil litigator who wrote a national guide on prosecuting state racketeering cases, to help on the case, Rucker said.Willis later hired Floyd to assist in her investigation into Trump. Willis could use his expertise to help build her case to formally charge the former president with racketeering charges, legal experts say.Floyd is a dedicated attorney and one of the best racketeering experts in Georgia and who also works on RICO cases nationally, said Richard Hyde, a former Georgia state investigator who helped expose the Atlanta cheating scandal. "He's one of the lawyers in the country that you don't want to be on the other side of. He's good. He will outwork anybody," Hyde said.If Willis is building a racketeering case against Trump, she'll be relying on Floyd, he added. Legal experts say Willis could charge Trump on racketeering charges, and point to evidence that includes the calls he made to election officials after the 2020 presidential election.For instance, Willis could use a call Trump made on December 23, 2020, to Frances Watson, who worked as a chief investigator of the investigations division for the Georgia Secretary of State, where he urged her to investigate election fraud. Then, on January 2, 2021, Trump called Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and pressured him to "find" just enough votes to swing the Georgia vote.Raffensperger previously testified before the US House select committee investigating the January 6 insurrection that he felt pressured by Trump and his other associates to overturn his state's election results, despite overwhelming evidence that Biden won the election in Georgia.Willis could possibly make the argument that Trump tried to intimidate election officials and engaged in a pattern of criminal misconduct in order to interfere in Georgia's 2020 elections or to solicit election fraud.The Fulton County district attorney could also broaden a racketeering case against Trump's associates who helped him in these efforts. Rubin, who has monitored the developments in Willis's investigation into Trump but is not involved in the case, told Insider that RICO is the best option to successfully prosecute him. "I'm not surprised by it," he said. "In fact, I think it's probably the only way she could try it."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytAug 2nd, 2022

Donald Trump"s docket: The latest on key cases and investigations facing the ex-president

Donald Trump and his business are involved in at least a dozen significant investigations and lawsuits. Here's the latest on all of them. Former President Donald Trump addresses the America First Agenda Summit in Washington, DC, on July 26, 2022.Drew Angerer/Getty Images Donald Trump and his business are involved in at least a dozen significant investigations and lawsuits. They include probes into election, the insurrection and financial wrongdoing in Georgia, DC and New York. Check back here for updates on what's happening — and what's next. It's hard to keep track of Donald Trump's very busy legal docket. The former president is the subject of at least three major investigations into election, insurrection or financial wrongdoing — probes based in Fulton County, Georgia; Washington, D.C.; and New York.Trump's business remains under indictment in Manhattan for an alleged payroll tax-dodge scheme. On top of all that, Trump is fighting or bringing a grab-bag of important lawsuits. Here's the latest on Trump's legal travails, both criminal and civil, with this guide to the ever-evolving Trump docket.Indictments Trump with his former CFO Allen Weisselberg at Trump Tower in 2017.Evan Vucci/APThe Trump Organization Payroll Case The Parties: The Manhattan DA is prosecuting The Trump Organization, and his former CFO Allen Weisselberg.The Issues: Trump's business could be fined, and his ex-CFO jailed for anywhere from one to 15 years, if they are found guilty of a 2021 indictment alleging a years-long payroll tax-dodge scheme in which key officials received some pay in off-the-books perks like free apartments, cars and tuition reimbursement.   Weisselberg and lawyers for the business have entered not-guilty pleas to charges including grand larceny, conspiracy and scheme to defraud. What's next: Barring a plea deal, the parties are scheduled to set a trial date when they next meet in state Supreme Court in Manhattan, tentatively on August 12.Criminal InvestigationsFulton County Georgia District Attorney Fani Willis is photographed in her office in Atlanta, on Jan. 4, 2022.AP Photo/Ben Gray, FileThe Fulton County election interference probeThe parties: Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, Trump, and his Republican associates The issues: Willis is investigating whether Trump and his associates tried to interfere in the 2020 presidential election in Georgia. Her probe has expanded to also include investigating an alleged scheme to send a fake slate of electors to Georgia's state Capitol in an attempt to overturn the elections.Willis's investigation experienced a setback after an Atlanta judge said on June 25 that Willis cannot question Georgia Republican state Sen. Burt Jones due to a conflict of interest. Jones was among a dozen Republicans issued a subpoena by a Fulton County special grand jury as part of Willis's investigation. What's next: Willis has said she could reach a decision on whether to formally charge the president as early as this fall. Election fraud solicitation, interference in an official election proceeding and racketeering are among the laws Trump could be charged with, legal experts say.Pro-Trump protesters gather in front of the U.S. Capitol Building on January 6, 2021 in Washington, DC.Jon Cherry/Getty ImagesThe Justice Department investigation The parties: Federal investigators are increasingly scrutinizing the role Trump and his allies played in the effort to overturn the 2020 election.The issues: The Justice Department is facing pressure to prosecute following a string of congressional hearings that connected the former president to the violence of January 6, 2021, and to efforts to prevent the peaceful handoff of power.In a series of eight hearings, the House committee investigating the January 6 attack on the Capitol described Trump's conduct in criminal terms and pointed to an April court decision in which a federal judge said the former president likely committed crimes in his effort to hold onto power. In that ruling, Judge David Carter called Trump's scheme a "coup in search of a legal theory."Prosecutors have asked witnesses directly about Trump's involvement in the effort to reverse his loss in the 2020 election and are likely to issue more subpoenas and search warrants in the weeks ahead.In June, federal investigators searched the home of Jeffrey Clark, a former Justice Department official who advanced Trump's baseless claims of election fraud.On the same day, federal agents seized the phone of John Eastman, a lawyer who helped advise Trump on how to overturn the 2020 election. A top prosecutor in the Justice Department's inquiry, Thomas Windom, revealed in late July that investigators had obtained a se cord warrant allowing a search of Eastman's phone. What's next:  The Justice Department has remained largely silent about how and whether it would consider charges against Trump, but in July, prosecutors asked witnesses directly about the former president's involvement in the attempt to reverse his electoral defeat. Civil InvestigationsNew York Attorney General Letitia James speaks on June 6, 2022, in New York.Mary Altaffer/APThe NY AG's Trump Organization probeThe parties: New York Attorney General Letitia James has been investigating Trump, his family and the Trump Organization for three years. The issues: James says she has uncovered a decade-long pattern of financial wrongdoing at Trump's multi-billion-dollar hotel and golf resort empire.She alleges Trump misstated the value of his properties on annual financial statements and other official documents used to secure hundreds of millions of dollars in bank loans and tax breaks. Trump has called the probe a politically motivated witch hunt.What's next: Court-ordered depositions of Donald Trump, Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump, Jr., were delayed by the death of family matriarch Ivana Trump. The contentious, massive probe — involving more than 5 million pages of documents — appears close to filing a massive lawsuit that could seek to put the Trump Organization out of business entirely. Lawsuits against TrumpSupporters of then-President Donald Trump protest inside the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, in Washington, DCBrent Stirton/Getty ImagesLawsuits alleging 'incitement' on January 6The Parties: House Democrats and two Capitol police officers accused Trump of inciting the violent mob on January 6.The Issues: Trump's lawyers have argued that his time as president grants him immunity that shields him from civil liability in connection with his January 6 address at the Ellipse, where he urged supporters to "fight like hell."A federal judge rejected Trump's bid to dismiss the civil lawsuits, ruling that his rhetoric on January 6 was "akin to telling an excited mob that corn-dealers starve the poor in front of the corn-dealer's home."Judge Amit Mehta said Trump later displayed a tacit agreement with the mob minutes after rioters breached the Capitol, when he sent a tweet admonishing then-Vice President Mike Pence for lacking the "courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country."What's Next: Trump has appealed Mehta's ruling to the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit and requested an oral argument. In a late July court filing, Trump's lawyers said the immunity afforded to the former president cannot be "undercut if the presidential act in question is unpopular among the judiciary."Trump leaves Trump Tower in Manhattan on October 18, 2021 in New York City.James Devaney/GC ImagesGalicia v. TrumpThe Parties: Lead plaintiff Efrain Galicia and four other protesters of Mexican heritage have sued Trump, his security personnel, and his 2016 campaign in New York.The issues: They say Donald Trump sicced his security guards on their peaceful, legal protest outside Trump Tower in 2015. The plaintiffs had been demonstrating with parody "Make America Racist Again" campaign signs to protest Trump's speech announcing his first campaign for president, during which he accused Mexican immigrants of being "rapists" and drug dealers. Trump fixer-turned-critic Michael Cohen said in a deposition that Trump directly ordered security to "get rid of" the protesters; Trump said in his own deposition that he didn't even know a protest was going on until the next day. His security guards have said in depositions that they were responding to aggression by the protesters.What's next: Trial is set for jury selection on September 6 in NY Supreme Court in the Bronx.Advice columnist E. Jean Carroll is pictured in New York in 2020.Seth Wenig/APE. Jean Carroll v. TrumpThe Parties: Advice columnist E. Jean Carroll sued Trump for defamation in federal court in Manhattan in June 2019.The Issues: Carroll's lawsuit alleges Trump defamed her after she publicly accused him of raping her in a Bergdorf-Goodman dressing room in Manhattan in the mid-90s.Trump responded to Carroll's allegation by saying it was untrue and that she was "not my type." Trump also denied ever meeting Carroll, despite a photo to the contrary.What's next: Arrangements for the sharing of evidence are ongoing behind the scenes, including for the possible collection of Trump's DNA.Carroll has said she wants to compare Trump's DNA with unidentified male DNA on a dress she wore during the alleged rape. Trial is tentatively set for Feb. 6, 2023; Carroll has said she would never settle the case.Donald Trump Jr, Donald Trump and Ivanka Trump during the filming of the live final tv episode of The Celebrity Apprentice on May 16 2010 in New York City.Bill Tompkins/Getty ImagesThe 'multi-level marketing' pyramid scheme caseThe Parties: Lead plaintiff Catherine McKoy and three others sued Trump, his business, and his three eldest children, Donald Trump, Jr., Eric Trump and Ivanka Trump, in 2018 in federal court in Manhattan.The Issues: Donald Trump is accused of promoting a scam multi-level marketing scheme on "The Celebrity Apprentice." The lawsuit alleges Trump pocketed $8.8 million from the scheme — but that they lost thousands of dollars. Trump's side has complained that the lawsuit is a politically motivated attack. What's Next: The parties say in court filings that they are working to meet an August 31 deadline for the completion of depositions. Michael Cohen, Trump's former attorney, testifies before the House Oversight Committee on Capitol Hill February 27, 2019 in Washington, DC.Chip Somodevilla/Getty ImagesMichael Cohen's 'imprisonment' caseThe Parties: Trump fixer-turned-critic Michael Cohen sued Donald Trump, former Attorney General Bill Barr, and more than a dozen federal prison officials and employees, in federal court in Manhattan in 2021.The Issues: The president's former personal attorney is seeking $20 million in damages relating to the time he spent in prison for financial crimes and lying to Congress about Trump's dealings in Congress. Cohen says in his suit that he had been moved to home confinement for three months in the spring of 2020 due to the pandemic, but was then vindictively thrown into solitary confinement when he refused to stop speaking to the press and writing a tell-all book about his former boss. A judge ordered him released after 16 days.What's Next: Oral arguments on pending defense motions to dismiss are set for August 2. Singer Eddy Grant performs in concert in honor of Nelson Mandela in Hyde Park, London June 27, 2008.Andrew Winning/ReutersThe Electric Avenue copyright caseThe Parties: Eddy Grant, the composer/performer behind the 80s disco-reggae mega-hit "Electric Avenue," sued Donald Trump and his campaign in federal court in Manhattan in 2020.The Issues: Grant is seeking $300,000 compensation for copyright infringement. His suit says that Trump made unauthorized use of the 1983 dance floor staple during the 2020 campaign. About 40 seconds of the song played in the background of a Biden-bashing animation that Trump posted to his Twitter account. The animation was viewed 13 million times before being taken down a month later. Trump has countered that the animation was political satire and so exempt from copyright infringement claims. He's also said that the campaign merely reposted the animation and have no idea where it came from.What's Next: There is an August 21 deposition completion deadline for both sides. Pretrial motions are not due to be filed until October.Mary Trump speaks to Katie Phang on MSNBC on June 17, 2022.MSNBCMary Trump v. Donald TrumpThe Parties: The former president's niece sued him and his siblings in 2020 in state Supreme Court in Manhattan.The Issues: Mary Trump alleges that she was cheated out of at least $10 million in a 2001 court settlement over the estate of her late father, Fred Trump, Sr. Mary Trump alleges she only learned by helping with a Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times article that she'd been defrauded by her Uncle Donald, her aunt, Maryanne Trump Barry, and the late Robert Trump, whose estate is named as a defendant.The Times' 18-month investigation "revealed a business empire riddled with tax dodges," the Pulitzer Committee said in praising the piece. Lawyers for the Trumps have countered that it's far too late for Mary Trump to sue over a 2001 settlement that she had knowingly participated in.What's next: The defendants' motion to dismiss, including on statute of limitations grounds, is still pending.Lawsuits brought by Trump Donald Trump v. Mary Trump The Parties: The former president counter-sued his niece Mary Trump — and the New York Times — in 2021 in New York state Supreme Court in Dutchess County.The Issues: Mary Trump, the Times and three of its reporters  "maliciously conspired" against him, Trump alleges, by collaborating with the Times on its expose of and breaching the confidentiality of the family's 2001 settlement of the estate of Mary Trump's father, Fred Trump, Sr. What's Next: Mary Trump's motion to dismiss is pending in state Supreme Court in Manhattan, where the case has since been transferred to.Hillary Clinton.Photo by: Mike Smith/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty ImagesDonald Trump v. Hillary ClintonThe Parties: Trump has sued Hillary Clinton, her campaign, the Democratic National Committee, and prominent Democrats including former DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz and former Clinton campaign chair John Podesta in a federal court in southern Florida in March, 2022.The Issues:  Trump alleges in this unusual use of federal racketeering statutes that Clinton and her campaign staff conspired to harm his 2016 run for president by promoting a "contrived Trump-Russia link." The defendants are trying to get the massive lawsuit dismissed on statute of limitation grounds, to which Trump's side counters that the "conspiracy" wasn't fully disclosed until the 2019 report on the FBI's Crossfire Hurricane investigation.What's Next: Trump's side is asking that a tentative May, 2023 trial date be pushed back to November of 2023.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderJul 31st, 2022

Victor Davis Hanson: How To Erode The World"s Greatest Military

Victor Davis Hanson: How To Erode The World's Greatest Military Authored by Victor Davis Hanson via AmGreatness.com, Alienating half the country is not a wise strategy of military recruitment... The U.S. Army has met only 40 percent of its 2022 recruiting goals.   In fact, all branches of the military are facing historic resistance to their current recruiting efforts. If some solution is not found quickly, the armed forces will radically shrink or be forced to lower standards—or both.   Such a crisis occurs importunely as an aggressive Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea believe the Biden Administration and the Pentagon have lost traditional U.S. deterrence.   That pessimistic view abroad unfortunately is now shared by many Americans at home. In 2021, the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute conducted its periodic poll of attitudes toward the U.S. military. The result was astonishing. Currently, only 45 percent of Americans polled expressed a great deal of trust in their armed forces. Confidence had dived 25 points since an early 2018 poll.  Military officials cite both the usual and a new array of challenges in finding suitable young soldiers—drug use, gang affiliation, physical and mental incapacities, and the dislocations arising from the COVID pandemic and vaccination mandates. But they are too quiet about why such supposedly longer-term obstacles suddenly coalesced in 2022—as if their own leadership and policies have had no effect in discouraging tens of thousands of young men and women to join them.  The Greatest Skedaddle in Modern American History  A year ago, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Joint Chiefs Chairman Mark Milley were assuring the country not to worry over Joe Biden’s strange ideas of abruptly pulling out all U.S. troops from Afghanistan. The radical step was purportedly to coincide with Biden’s planned 20-year celebratory event marking his role in ensuring an iconic end of the war on terror that began on September 11, 2001.   What followed was the worst U.S. military humiliation since Pearl Harbor.   U.S. forces abandoned hundreds if not thousands of American contractors and loyal Afghan employees, a $1 billion embassy, a huge $300 million refitted air base, and reportedly somewhere between $60-80 billion in military equipment and infrastructure. That sum was nearly double all the current military assistance sent to Ukraine.   Thirteen Americans were murdered by terrorists during the chaotic flight. In response, the United States mistakenly blew up 10 innocent Afghans after misidentifying them as ISIS terrorists. The horrific scenes at the Kabul airport surpassed the 1975 catastrophic ending of the Vietnam War on the U.S. embassy roof.   The global aftermath was eerie. Russia in a few months thereafter invaded Ukraine. Iran proudly announced it would soon have enough fissionable material to make a nuclear weapon. North Korea resumed its provocative missile launches. China openly talked of storming Taiwan.   The common denominator was the global perception that any president and military responsible for such colossal, televised incompetence would or could neither deter enemy aggression nor protect allied interests.   In response, widely reported furor arose among the ranks of some American officers and the enlisted. Mid-level officers especially claimed they were ignored after warning that the abrupt withdrawal was suicidal, that Pentagon grandees were lying about the dire facts on the grounds in efforts to lubricate the Biden agenda, and that thousands of Americans and loyal Afghans would be cast adrift, along with our NATO allies. The shame of defeat and the cloud of incompetence from Afghanistan have continued to harm recruitment efforts of the military.  The White Rage Unicorn  About a year ago Austin and Chairman Milley took time out from assuring Americans that all would be well in Kabul, to testify before Congress about the Pentagon’s effort to address “white rage” in the six-month aftermath of the January 6 riot.   Both were also asked to explain why the armed services were recommending soldiers read inter alia the often-discredited “antiracist” theories of Ibram X. Kendi. His polarizing doctrine asserts that the entire U.S. system of government, all social and political life, and our very culture are racist to core. As a result, Kendi’s solution requires radical and overt racial preferencing and discrimination supposedly to fight such an insidious system.   Yet what was startling about the two officials’ testimonies was the utter lack of data showing any general trends that white soldiers were any more or less likely to practice racial discrimination or chauvinism than other ethnic and racial groups in the military. An array of officers defended various workshops and course work at the military academies purporting that white rage is an existential problem in the military.   The subtext of the entire testimony debacle was that the two titular heads of the military wished to reassure progressive majorities in the U.S. Congress that they were sympathetic to the woke movement and, along with other high-ranking officers, wanted publicly to virtue signal to that effect.   In their emphasis on diversity, equity, and inclusion—the latest euphemisms for using race and gender quotas to assure proportional or even reparatory representation—throughout the officer corps, Austin and Milley seemed entirely oblivious that the U.S. Army depends on generations of family loyalty to the armed forces. Such heritage and legacy considerations have ensured a steady stream of recruits for front-line combat units.   In other words, over generations the same families, drawn from mostly middle-class cohorts, have served disproportionately in combat units in Vietnam, the various Iraq conflicts, and Afghanistan. Indeed, if the military was consistent in its racial fixations, it might have noted that white males—the purported targets of the Austin and Milley efforts to ferret out supposed white rage cells— died in three wars at roughly twice their numbers in the general population. Current analysis of the recruiting crisis reveals what almost any observer would have predicted a year earlier from the haughty virtue signaling of Austin and Milley: traditional military families are not sending their sons and daughters into the ranks. It is not the danger of combat or the rigor of military life that families fear, but the suspicion their offspring will be targeted for ideological indoctrination and coercion that is either extraneous or antithetical to military efficacy.  Traditionally, 40 percent of new recruits cite the military service of their parents—not to mention their veteran grandparents. Currently only 13 percent of new recruits arrive from such military families. Yet Austin and Milley made no connection between the Pentagon fixations on current hot-button social issues and its apparent inability to secure an honorable and safe withdrawal from Afghanistan.  The Weaponization of the Pentagon  There is a general perception in and outside the military that the top ranks of the services are increasingly politicized. High profile officers have used the great authority, influence, and power of the Pentagon in polarizing progressive advocacy roles from transgenderism to abortion—to the detriment of military efficacy and lethality. Much of unhappiness with the military arises partly from the woke hysteria, the institutional disdain for Donald Trump and his response to it, and the perceived rewards for those retired military lobbyists and corporate board members who reflect a new woke creed.    The nadir in politicization came in 2021 when it was revealed that Milley secretly contacted his Chinese communist counterpart during the height of the 2020 presidential election. Milley claimed he believed that his own commander-in-chief, Trump, was unstable. And so, after his layman’s diagnosis, he wished to assure the People’s Liberation Army’s ranking officer that he would tip the Chinese off about any thought of a preemptive American strike on China. Milley also ordered his own subordinate theater officers to report to him first should Trump contemplate any nuclear action against China.  Upon public disclosure of those facts, Milley should have been summarily fired. By law, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs is an advisory official only. The position enjoys no operational command.  Milley violated the chain of command by usurping theater authority that was not his. Nor can a military long exist, if its iconic leader freelances in contacting enemy counterparts without the knowledge of the commander-in-chief.   Can we imagine the outrage that would now ensue, if Milley should once again warn his Chinese counterpart that another president, Joe Biden, in the chairman’s own opinion, suffers bouts of cognitive debility and early onset senility, forcing Milley to take matters in his own hands? Yet such freelancing insubordination is now Milley’s legacy.   In fact, some in the retired U.S. military for over four years systematically violated the Uniform Code of Military Justice, sometimes to the extent of engaging in a sort of coup porn.  In a Washington Post op-ed, retired generals Paul Eaton, Antonio Taguba, and Steven Anderson melodramatically and without evidence warned the nation of a supposedly impending coup should their commander-in-chief Donald Trump be elected again in 2024.  In August 2020, two retired officers John Nagl and Paul Yingling, wrote an op-ed urging Milley to simply remove Trump from office should Milley himself feel such a move was necessary after a disputed election. That was a de facto call for a possible coup d’état. But it was not unique. Earlier, civilian Rosa Brooks, a former Obama-era Pentagon legal official, published an inflammatory call to arms in Foreign Policy. She discussed three major possible avenues to remove newly inaugurated Donald Trump from the presidency. One of her alternatives was a military coup.   For the entire Trump presidency, retired four-star generals and admirals had routinely smeared their commander-in-chief as a veritable Nazi, a Mussolini-like figure, an abject liar, and comparable in his policies to the architects of the Nazi death camps. One retired admiral called for the removal of Trump “the sooner, the better” as if regularly scheduled elections were insufficient remedies.  Aside from clear violations of Article 88 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, these officers were oblivious that nearly half the country supported the president and his policies. And so, millions of people would logically conclude that the highest-ranking retired officers, and by extension the culture of the current military, had nothing but contempt for their own views and voting decisions. Alienating nearly half the country is not a wise strategy of military recruitment. Nor is hypocrisy. The perceptions in the ranks have grown that applications of the law are asymmetrical and politically warped. Article 88, applicable to retired generals and admirals, prohibits military officers from using contemptuous words about top civilian elected and appointed officials. It says nothing about the spouses of said officials. None of the retired officers who in the media libeled their commander-in-chief from 2017-2021 faced any consequences—reprimands, court martials, or sanctions from doing business with the Pentagon from their corporate billets. Yet one recently did.   The U.S. Army just fired retired consultant Lt. Gen. Gary Volesky from a contractual position with the Pentagon because he poked fun at First Lady Jill Biden. Note that Volesky did not suggest Jill or Joe Biden was a Nazi, a fascist, or liar —much less that her husband should be removed from office “the sooner, the better.” Retired General Volesky’s crime was mocking Jill Biden’s purported hypocrisy on the recent overturn of Roe v. Wade.  Unfortunately, the crisis in the U.S. military transcends even the Afghanistan misadventure, unsupported accusations against an entire demographic, the erosion of military familial loyalty, freelancing politicized officers, and asymmetrical applications of laws and codes.  Fairly or not, the perception among the public and our enemies is that the U.S. military has become a political entity with an agenda that transcends defending the U.S. and its interests.  Its perceived main agenda by half the country is progressive social justice, administered top-down from a cadre of elites who can implement controversial policies through the chain of command without the messy work of the Congress—to the delight of the Pentagon’s newfound sunshine friends on the woke Left.  Such military social engineers unfortunately appear to share contempt for a large group of Americans who voted for a president they despised. And this is a fact warmly welcomed by our worst enemies abroad. Tyler Durden Wed, 07/27/2022 - 23:35.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeJul 28th, 2022

The Jan. 6 panel is gathering evidence Trump may have broken these 5 federal laws

Five legal experts examined how the Justice Department could build a criminal case against Trump as the federal probe widens to his inner circle. Former President Donald Trump.Joe Maiorana/AP Photo The House January 6 panel is gathering evidence that Trump may have broken several federal laws. But experts say Trump could mount a strong legal defense. The committee is presenting evidence to support their claims that Trump tried to block the peaceful transfer of power. When the House select committee began its 10-month investigation into the January 6 insurrection, lawmakers set out to uncover and present evidence from the first disruption of the peaceful transfer of power in American history.Now, the committee has wrapped up its final July hearings and put its goal into sharper focus: To painstakingly show why they believe then President Donald Trump violated several federal laws in the events leading up to the insurrection and its aftermath. A federal judge ruled in March that Trump "likely" committed a felony.The committee explicitly stated that it has evidence to show that Trump and his campaign staff carried out an "illegal" and "unconstitutional" attempt to obstruct Congress' election certifying Joe Biden's victory and "engaged in a criminal conspiracy to defraud the United States."It does not have the authority to prosecute — unlike the Justice Department. Recent moves suggest the DOJ investigation is reaching into Trump's inner circle. Investigators have obtained phone records belonging to key aides, including Mark Meadows, the former White House chief of staff. Two former top aides to former Vice President Mike Pence testified before a federal grand jury, and prosecutors have asked witnesses directly about Trump's involvement. Five legal experts told Insider about the federal laws the Justice Department could use to prosecute Trump but noted the former president may have a strong legal defense.Lawmakers on the House January 6 committee will air the inquiry's findings during a public hearing Thursday.Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images'Conspiracy to defraud the government'The House select committee stated in a March 2 court filing that it has evidence that Trump and his campaign team violated one federal law by engaging in "a criminal conspiracy to defraud the United States."If the Justice Department, likely via the US attorney in Washington, DC, were to charge Trump with breaking this law, federal prosecutors would have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the former president knowingly agreed with others to attempt to obstruct Congress's election certification process by deceit or dishonesty, said John Q. Barrett, a former associate independent counsel in the Iran-contra investigation."The challenge for prosecutors, of course, is to prove each element of the crime. And one element of these various charges is the criminal intent, the mental state, and the culpable mind of the defendant," said Barrett, a law professor at St. John's University in New York City.If federal prosecutors were to get evidence that Trump privately acknowledged to a confidant or in a written statement that he lost the election fairly, it would strengthen a case. Legal experts told Insider that the Justice Department's biggest challenge in prosecuting Trump would be dispelling the notion that he honestly believed that election fraud occurred during the 2020 presidential election, claims that officials and aides are testifying they'd told Trump were baseless and "bullshit." If the prosecutors cannot prove that there was an  "intent to defraud" beyond a reasonable doubt then their case will not hold up.The committee has tried to illustrate that Trump broke this law by playing video testimonies of former Trump advisers who told the president not to prematurely declare victory, as he did, and that there was no evidence of election fraud. The committee has not revealed any evidence that Trump may not have believed the conspiracies he was pushing.Even without that evidence, a case could rely on the concept of "willful blindness," which can be used against a defendant who tries to avoid or ignore facts that may implicate them. This approach has been suggested by former US attorney Barbara McQuade.Vice President Mike Pence certifying the results of the 2020 presidential election.Scott J. Applewhite/AP'Obstructing an official proceeding'The House select committee also argued that Trump violated another law by allegedly trying to "obstruct, influence, or impede an official proceeding of the United States."Prosecutors could make a case that he broke this law by pressuring his then-Vice President Mike Pence to stop Congress's election certification process or for telling his followers the election was "criminal" and to march on the Capitol where the certification was about to start. Prosecutors can also use evidence of how Trump tried to pressure Georgia election officials to overturn the election results to claim that he broke this law and another Georgia state law by engaging in "criminal solicitation to commit election fraud."This is the strongest legal argument they can make against Trump compared to the other charges because they have amassed a lot of evidence, Renato Mariotti, a former federal prosecutor, told Insider. "The committee has presented a lot of evidence that Donald Trump was told that there was no election fraud, and that he lost fair and square, but he chose to reject that," he said. "And it's well established that the January 6 vote count was an official proceeding."Federal prosecutors have charged many rioters with violating this law, making it likely Trump would face this charge should he eventually be indicted, the legal experts told Insider.Since the January 6 insurrection, federal authorities have apprehended more than 800 individuals in connection to the attack on the Capitol. Of them, more than 280 have been charged with "corruptly obstructing, influencing, or impeding an official proceeding" as of June 8, according to the Justice Department. Lawmakers listen as an image of a Trump campaign donation banner is shown behind them during a House January 6 committee hearing.Susan Walsh/AP'Wire Fraud'During a hearing held on June 13, the House select committee revealed that Trump's campaign raised more than $250 million from his support base and claimed that he would use the money to create a legal fund to challenge the 2020 presidential election result. The committee revealed that the fund never was made, and money was directed toward a new political action committee called "Save America." The PAC then sent the money Trump's campaign raised to several pro-Trump organizations.Democratic Rep. Zoe Lofgren of California, a member of the panel, said during the third hearing that "the Big Lie was also a big rip-off."Some legal experts have hinted this evidence could be used to make a case that Trump committed the crime of wire fraud by participating in a scheme to defraud individuals of money. Under federal law, wire fraud is committed when an individual has devised or intends to devise a plan to defraud or obtain money through false or fraudulent pretenses and carries out the scheme by a telephone call or electronic communication.The Justice Department has not traditionally prosecuted campaign solicitations as wire fraud in the past, said Mariotti."The issue I would say is, it's going to be hard to find victims to come forward," Mariotti said, "because the people that have donated the money felt so strongly about Trump that they're not going to necessarily support the government prosecuting Trump."Stephen Saltzburg, a former deputy attorney general with the Justice Department and an associate independent counsel during the Iran-Contra investigation, said it could be hard for prosecutors to make a case on these grounds."I don't think we have enough information about it," Saltzburg, a law professor at George Washington University, said.Salzburg added that Trump's defense attorneys could argue that these advertisement and campaign fundraising emails did not explicitly promise his supporters that they would set up a separate account to legally challenge the 2020 elections.One attorney close to Trump told Insider that at most these emails could be evidence that leads to a campaign finance violation, rather than a federal charge. "There's a lot of other things in this world to worry about. That's not one of them," Robert Ray, a former prosecutor who defended Trump in his first Senate impeachment trial, said in an interview.Under campaign finance laws, the Federal Election Commission, a regulatory agency that enforces campaign finance law, limits how much an individual can donate to a political campaign. But there are no limitations on donations that go to legal defense funds because it falls outside of typical campaign finance. Insider previously reported that it is unlikely for the former president to be charged with fraud even if his campaign sent misleading emails to its donors. Legal experts told Insider that there are still a lot of details that remain unknown about the Trump campaign's fundraising for the legal defense fund."You need to prove to the jury that somebody authorized solicitations that said the money was going to be spent on election contests knowing that was false," Adav Noti, vice president and legal director at the Campaign Legal Center who previously served as the Federal Election Commission's associate general counsel for policy, recently told Insider in an interview. "You need to find the individuals, it wouldn't be enough for criminal purposes to say, 'Here's what happened.'"Former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson.Brandon Bell/Getty Images'Witness tampering'During the latest January 6 hearing on July 12, the committee provided new evidence that Trump tried to call a January 6 witness—a action that could have consituted as witness tampering.Republican Rep. Liz Cheney, who is vice chair of the committee, did not disclose the identity of the witness was but said that the person "alerted their lawyer, who alerted us." The Wyoming Republican said that the committee has referred this matter to the Justice Department.During another hearing on June 28, the House panel also offered evidence that unnamed associates of Trump may have engaged in witness tampering in an attempt to withhold truthful information that may be damaging or incriminating.The committee withheld the names of the witnesses and callers. Republican Rep. Liz Cheney, vice-chair on the committee, presented two messages that witnesses received before their testimony.Cheney read a description of a witness who recalled phone calls they received: "What they said to me is, as long as I continue to be a team player, they know that I'm on the team, I'm doing the right thing, I'm protecting who I need to protect, you know, I'll continue to stay in good graces in Trump World."—January 6th Committee (@January6thCmte) June 28, 2022Cheney said a second witness also received a phone call before they were expected to testify. The caller told them: "[A person] let me know you have your deposition tomorrow. He wants me to let you know that he's thinking about you. He knows you're loyal, and you're going to do the right thing when you go in for your deposition." Cheney's remarks on Tuesday came after the public testimony of former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson, who delivered damning testimony against Trump, including that the then-president had dismissed concerns that some of the protesters on Jan. 6 may be armed. Past witnesses include several prominent Republican state officials, election workers, and former Justice Department officials.If prosecutors were to charge Trump or his associates with witness tampering, they would have to prove that they attempted to threaten or intimidate a witness to "influence, delay, or prevent the testimony of any person in an official proceeding."This is very hard to prove because you need to establish the intent of why someone would do this, said Daniel Richman, a former federal prosecutor in the US Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York.Richman, who has tried witness tampering cases in the past, said prosecutors would need to gather evidence of who made these calls, their timing, and look at the circumstantial evidence of why they'd made them.What's more, Trump could not be charged with this crime without evidence he knew the call would be made and what the conversation would be about.Pro-Trump protesters gather in front of the U.S. Capitol Building on January 6, 2021 in Washington, DC.Jon Cherry/Getty Images'Inciting a rebellion'The House select committee is revealing more evidence on Trump's direct involvement in the January 6 insurrection. Federal prosecutors could potentially build a case that Trump incited a rebellion or insurrection against the US.Hutchinson previously testified that Trump knew his supporters at his Ellipse rally held earlier that day were armed and carrying weapons.She recalled Trump saying: "I don't effing care that they have weapons. They're not here to hurt me. Take the effing mags away. Let my people in."During the committee's seventh public hearing held on June 12, lawmakers presented new evidence claiming that Trump knew in advance that his supporters would march to the US Capitol building on January 6.Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland said Trump's tweet on December 19, 2020, which said: "Statistically impossible to have lost the 2020 election. Big protest in DC on January 6. Be there, will be wild!" was heavily circulated among extremist groups."Here were thousands of enraged Trump followers, thoroughly convinced by the Big Lie who traveled from across the country to join Trump's wild rally to 'stop the steal,'" he said during the hearing. "With the proper incitement by political leaders, and the proper instigation from the extremists, many members of this crowd could be led to storm the Capitol, confront the vice president in Congress and try to overturn the 2020 election results."The committee also revealed more details about Michael Flynn, Trump's national security advisor, having direct ties with extremist groups.If Trump is charged with this crime, prosecutors would have to prove that Trump knew in advance that violence would occur on January 6.  The prosecutors could possibly use the testimony Hutchinson provided where she recalled a conversation that she had with former White House Counsel Pat Cipollone, as evidence against Trump. During her conversation with Cipollone, he expressed concerns about the potential criminal charges they could face if Trump went to the US Capitol building with protesters on January 6.Hutchinson recalled him saying "we're going to get charges of every crime imaginable if we make that move."Prosecutors would need more testimonies from people who had conversations with Trump to prove he knew what would unfold on January 6.Former President Donald Trump speaks on May 28, 2022 in Casper, Wyoming.Chet Strange/Getty ImagesTrump's possible defenseMariotti told Insider that Trump could claim he is not guilty of attempting to obstruct or impede a US official proceeding and was just following the advice of his legal adviser John Eastman, who repeatedly pushed Pence to reject electors from some states Trump had lost to throw the election."It's hard to convince a jury that somebody who was following the lawyer's advice was acting corruptly," he said.Some legal experts have hinted that Trump could possibly plead not guilty by reason of insanity in order to avoid being prosecuted if he is charged. Former Attorney General William Barr testified to the committee that Trump had become "detached from reality," referring to Trump's belief that there was voter fraud despite his advisers telling him there wasn't. But other legal experts caution this would be extremely unlikely."I don't think it's very likely that assuming an indictment and a trial that Donald Trump would defend himself as insane or mentally deranged and thus not criminally culpable," Barrett said. "I think Trump would largely defend himself the way he has conducted himself. He would say I won. It was a steal. You know, bad things happen to prevent my inauguration."The House select committee has interviewed more than a 1,000 people, including members of Trump's family like his daughter Ivanka Trump and son-in-law Jared Kushner. It also has issued several subpoenas and reviewed thousands of documents related to the January 6 insurrection. Legal experts told Insider that these public hearings could put more pressure on the Justice Department to decide whether to indict Trump. The Justice Department is closely monitoring the public hearings. Shannon Wu, a former federal prosecutor in Washington DC, told Insider that there are most likely concerns within the Justice Department that possibly charging the former president could exacerbate America's deepening political tensions."I think he's really worried that such an explosive, unprecedented case might open the DOJ to charges of being political," Wu said.But Wu added that not charging the former president could have far worse consequences. "If you don't try to hold Trump accountable," Wu added, "then you're really endangering the whole foundation of the country and the justice system." Brent D. Griffiths and Dave Levinthal contributed to this report. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderJul 27th, 2022

Trump refused to call on the Justice Department to prosecute Capitol rioters "to the fullest extent of the law," according to draft remarks obtained by Jan. 6 committee

Trump also didn't tell the rioters "you do not represent me," per draft remarks of his Jan. 7 speech. "You do not represent our country," he said instead. Former President Donald Trump is shown along with a portion of his January 7, 2021, draft remarks as released by the House January 6 committee.Bridget Bennett/Getty Images; Screenshot/House January 6 committee Trump declined to specifically call on the Justice Department to prosecute January 6 rioters. A draft of his January 7, 2021 speech called for him to say that "legal consequences must be swift and firm." The House January 6 committee revealed Trump's draft remarks on Monday. Then-President Donald Trump didn't want to specifically call for the Justice Department to prosecute January 6 rioters or forcefully condemn those who stormed the Capitol as unrepresentative of the MAGA movement, according to draft remarks obtained by the House committee investigating the attack.In a video posted Monday, the committee showed an excerpt of prepared remarks for Trump's January 7, 2021, pre-recorded address to the nation.In his speech, Trump said, "To those who broke the law, you will pay."A copy of President Donald Trump's draft remarks for his January 7, 2021 speech following the insurrection.Screenshot/House January 6 committeeBut the president did not give a more specific and forceful call for the Justice Department to prosecute those involved."I am directing the Department of Justice to ensure all lawbreakers are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law," Trump's draft remarks called for him to say. "We must send a clear message — not with mercy but with JUSTICE. Legal consequences must be swift and firm."Trump also excised a more personal part of the speech."I want to be very clear you do not represent me," it was suggested Trump would say. Instead, Trump later said,  "To those who engaged in acts of violence and destruction, you do not represent our country."Rep. Elaine Luria, a Democrat who co-led the panel's hearing last week, wrote on Twitter that Trump's reticence to tell rioters to leave the Capitol was not the only thing "he was unwilling to say."—Rep. Elaine Luria (@RepElaineLuria) July 25, 2022 The committee's July 21 hearing outlined Trump's inaction as the riot unfolded. Lawmakers also presented evidence about how even after the riot, Trump was unwilling to formally concede the election and struggled to condemn the violent attack. A spokesperson for Trump did not immediately respond to a request for comment.This is a breaking news story. Stay with Insider for more updates.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytJul 25th, 2022

Hunter Biden "Almost Certainly" Broke FARA Laws: Report

Hunter Biden 'Almost Certainly' Broke FARA Laws: Report Hunter Biden's failure to register as a foreign agent while conducting business overseas, much like former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, almost certainly violated foreign lobbying laws under the federal Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). According to the New York Post, while Hunter registered as a lobbyist for domestic interests ("a gig which so annoyed President Obama that Biden was forced to drop it in 2008"), he never registered as a "foreign principal" under the 1938 law - a crime which carries a punishment of up to five years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine. We aren't holding our breath. That said... The Post’s examination of Biden’s infamous abandoned laptop in the last year has exposed myriad foreign business schemes the then-Vice President’s son tried to shepherd. Last week The Post revealed dozens of sit-downs between Hunter and Joe Biden that were frequently scheduled just days after Hunter visited with foreign officials. -NY Post "The recent disclosures of additional foreign contacts has only strengthened what was already a strong case. Indeed, in the last few weeks, the compelling basis for a FARA charge has becomes unassailable and undeniable," according to law professor Jonathan Turley. "The influence peddling schemes directly reference the President and [Joe Biden] is repeatedly cited as a possible recipient of funds." And while a CNN report from last week indicated that the DOJ is focusing on Hunter's tax issues and alleged violations of federal firearm regulations, the first son's foreign dealings have undoubtedly been part of the investigation - particularly since the Post exposed evidence of extensive foreign dealings from Hunter's "laptop from hell," which they published in October 2020 shortly before the US election. The inquiry began as a tax probe in 2018 but has expanded considerably since a series of New York Post exposes showed how Hunter Biden’s private business interests became commingled with his father’s public career. The revelations were contained on a laptop abandoned by Hunter Biden at a Delaware computer repair shop in April 2019.  -NY Post Yet, despite potential violations of foreign lobbying laws and money laundering - insiders say Hunter could receive a "generous" plea agreement. House Republicans, meanwhile, say that should they take back control of the chamber in the upcoming midterm elections, they'll launch their own investigation into Hunter's overseas exploits. Let's review some of Hunter's dealings... For starters, he worked for CCP-linked Chinese energy company CEFC, which sought to gain a foothold into the United States. After the New York Times questioned Hunter's involvement in 2018, Joe Biden left him a voicemail in which he told his son "I think you're clear." Republicans have accused CEFC of being an arm of the Chinese government. In 2017, the year Joe Biden left the Vice Presidency, Hunter received a $1 million retainer for his services as a lawyer. CEFC official Patrick Ho was later convicted on international bribery and money laundering charges on unrelated work in Africa. When the Hunter Biden laptop story broke in October 2020 (and was immediately suppressed by the media), the Bidens allegedly accepted a $5 million interest-free loan from CEFC that enraged their business partner, Tony Bobulinski - who flipped on the Bidens following a Senate report which revealed the $5 million 'loan.' Text messages from Bobulinski also reveal an effort to conceal Joe Biden's involvement in Hunter's business dealings, while Tony has also confirmed that the "Big guy" described in a leaked email is none other than Joe Biden himself. This is maybe THE clip from this interview. Bobulinski to #Tucker: "I remember looking at Jim Biden in saying how are you guys getting away with this? Like, aren't you concerned? And he looked at me and he laughed a little bit and said. 'plausible deniability.'" pic.twitter.com/GMDL1JNZtB — Curtis Houck (@CurtisHouck) October 28, 2020 More on Hunter's dealings from the Post: After additional revelations from The Post in 2020, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) sent a letter to the Justice Department demanding a review of possible FARA violations. Former Hunter Biden business partner Tony Bobulinski said in public comments at the time that the Chinese saw Hunter Biden “as a political or influence investment.” “Since then, I’ve only seen and gathered more records and information that confirm that [Hunter Biden and his uncle James Biden] are closely linked to foreign interests,” Grassley told The Post. While Ukrainian energy company Burisma paid Hunter Biden $83,333 a month to sit on its board, Hunter Biden introduced Vadym Pozharskyi — one of the company’s top executives — to his father, emails show. Less than a year later, Vice President Biden pressured government officials in Ukraine into firing a prosecutor who was investigating the company. Meanwhile, Hunter arranged for the former president of Columbia, Andrés Pastrana Arango, to have a sit-down with his father during a March 2, 2012 meeting. In Nov. 2015, Hunter met with Crown Prince Alexander Karađorđević of Yugoslavia and his wife, Crown Princess Katherine of Serbia, who told the Post that they asked Hunter to 'put in a word' with his father to help rehab the royal palace in Belgrade. "If Hunter relayed the request for US government assistance then that would be a FARA registrable event," said FARA expert Craig Engle, who leads the political law practice at Arent Fox Schiff. "Given the nature of the client, given the nature of the work, and given his relationship with Joe Biden as demonstrated on his calendar, it makes it likely that FARA is part of an investigation," he added. Emails on Hunter's laptop also reveal concerns over FARA violations - with Eric Schwerin, president of Hunter's investment firm Rosemont Seneca Partners - discussing the issue. "Was reading an article saying how [former White House Chief of Staff William] Daley was never a ‘registered’ lobbyist although he directed [Telecoms company] SBC and JP Morgan’s lobbying efforts. Also the article noted that he was registered as Foreign Lobbyist under FARA at one point … sometimes I wonder why we stress about this so much," Schwerin wrote to Hunter in January, 2011. Read more here... Tyler Durden Sun, 07/24/2022 - 22:00.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytJul 25th, 2022

Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger says the Jan. 6 committee has "proven" a criminal case against Trump

The committee wouldn't be able to legally prosecute Trump, but it can send a criminal referral to the Justice Department. Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., speaks as the House select committee investigating the January 6 attack on the US Capitol holds a hearing in Washington, DC, on July 21, 2022.AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite Rep. Adam Kinzinger said he believes the Jan. 6 panel has proven a criminal case against Trump. He "certainly has criminal exposure," Kinzinger, one of two Republicans on the panel, said Friday. The committee can send a criminal referral to the DOJ. Rep. Adam Kinzinger, one of two Republicans sitting on the Jan. 6 committee tasked with investigating the Capitol riot, said the panel has proven a criminal case against former President Donald Trump. "I think, taken in totality, this represents the greatest effort to overturn the will of the people, to conspire against the will of the people, and to conspire against American democracy that we've ever had, frankly since the Civil War," he said Friday during an interview with CNN. "I think we've proven that."The House select committee tasked with investigating events leading up to and in the aftermath of the Capitol riot has been gathering evidence, including some that legal experts say could mean that Trump has broken at least five federal laws, such as conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding and defrauding the United States. Speaking with reporters after Thursday's hearing, Kinzinger said he couldn't make a prosecutorial judgment, because the committee wouldn't be able to legally prosecute Trump. But its members can inform the Justice Department of possible criminal conduct, as Insider's John Dorman previously reported.But Trump "certainly has criminal exposure," Kinzinger told reporters."I certainly think if you look at what we presented tonight, and then all these hearings, that cannot be acceptable from the president of the United States," he said.Former Justice Department officials who served in Republican administrations said last week that the Jan. 6 committee has uncovered sufficient evidence for the unprecedented prosecution of a former president. And former federal prosecutor Glenn Kirschner said he believes Trump will be indicted for his role in last year's insurrection. The Capitol riot left five people, including one police officer, dead. Members of the Proud Boys, which is classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, were also present.Organizers were emboldened by former President Donald Trump's urges to protest the results of the 2020 election with him, despite Joe Biden's election victory. While members of Congress were meeting inside the Capitol to certify the results and verify Biden's electoral win, Trump supporters organized an attempted coup and stormed the Capitol.After the riot, insurrectionists scrambled to delete photos and social-media posts proving their participation in the Capitol riot. Some broke their cellphones, scrubbed their social media accounts, and tried to wipe hard drives that might contain photos and other proof of their involvement. But others boasted of their involvement, making it easier for the FBI to identify and later bring charges against them. So far, more than 882 people have been charged in connection with the insurrection, according to Insider's database. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytJul 24th, 2022

Could Donald Trump face legal consequences as a result of the January 6 hearings? Political experts are torn.

One politics professor said the chance that Trump faces criminal charges is "virtually nil." Another suggested it would be "shocking" if he didn't. House January 6 hearings are expected to put Donald Trump at the center of efforts to overturn the 2020 election.Chet Strange/Getty Images The Jan. 6 panel's first eight hearings focused on Trump's efforts to overturn the 2020 election. But legal experts are mixed on whether the evidence will lead to criminal charges against Trump. A recent poll suggests Americans are also evenly divided on if they think Trump should be indicted. The House Select Committee investigating the January 6 Capitol attack has presented copious amounts of evidence highlighting former President Donald Trump's efforts to overturn the 2020 election. Throughout eight public hearings over the course of six weeks, a slew of witnesses have offered bombshell testimony that has gripped the nation and set Trump on edge.The committee's investigation serves several purposes — experts cited accountability for the insurrection; a reinforcement of the country's commitment to democracy; and the creation of a vital historical record all as plausible functions.But the average American, unconcerned with questions of DC legacy, is likely wondering one thing: Could Trump be criminally charged at the committee's conclusion?It's a tricky question and one on which experts are mixed. The panel, itself, has yet to decide whether it will issue a criminal referral to the Justice Department. The act has no concrete legal effect but serves as a symbolic measure to notify the agency of the possibility of criminal conduct uncovered by the investigation. Earlier this month, Rep. Liz Cheney, who serves as vice-chair of the committee, said the panel could potentially make multiple criminal referrals, including one against Trump.But Matthew Schmidt, an associate professor of national security and political science at the University of New Haven, told Insider that he thinks the likelihood of Trump facing legal consequences is "virtually nil.""First, because the legal standard to be able to convict him is too high, and too unprecedented to be a sure thing," he said. "Second, the political risk of even trying to convict a former president is too high."Trump's frequent teasing at a possible 2024 presidential run adds another wrinkle to possible charges, Schmidt said. The former president told his allies recently that part of the draw of holding the nation's top seat again would be the legal immunity it provides, according to a Rolling Stone report published earlier this month."Trump running again effectively precludes any prosecution," Schmidt said.Asher Hildebrand, an associate professor of the practice at Duke University's Sanford School of Public Policy, has a different take. "The Committee's evidence of Trump's criminal liability has been so compelling that it would be shocking, in one sense, for the Department of Justice not to act," he told Insider. "But ultimately, the Department of Justice pursuing criminal charges against a former President is as much a political decision as a legal one, and it remains to be seen whether it is a decision Attorney General Garland will be willing to take."Americans themselves, seem to be similarly split on whether they think the former president should face criminal charges for his role in the attack. An NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist National Poll from earlier this week found that about 50% of people think Trump should face legal consequences. But only 28% of respondees said they think that is the most likely outcome.The choice to charge Trump will ultimately fall to Attorney General Merrick Garland who will have to weigh the optics of indicting a former president in a politically polarized country, Robert Weisberg, a criminal law professor at Stanford University said. But even if Garland does conclude that he has a potentially winnable case, he could still forgo charges, thanks to prosecutorial discretion."Maybe people will think he shouldn't make that decision, but he has the legal power not to prosecute even if he has a legal basis for prosecution," he added.The Department of Justice is not the only law enforcement authority currently investigating Trump, and the former president could still face criminal charges from a slate of other venues, Hildebrand pointed out."But a federal indictment would be a uniquely powerful deterrent not only against any attempts by Trump to subvert future elections but also against attempts by other elected officials to overturn the will of the voters," he said.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytJul 22nd, 2022