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babylonsister

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Member since: Mon Sep 6, 2004, 09:54 PM
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Legal case against Trump's 'charity' comes into sharp focus

http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/legal-case-against-trumps-charity-comes-sharp-focus

Legal case against Trump’s ‘charity’ comes into sharp focus
03/15/19 09:20 AM
By Steve Benen


Donald Trump’s political operation is under investigation. So is his business. So is his inaugural committee. The president himself is the subject of an ongoing probe. But let’s also not forget the investigation into Trump’s charitable foundation.

It’s true, of course, that the Republican’s so-called “charity” permanently closed its doors a few months ago, after having been accused of engaging in a “shocking pattern of illegality.” But as Rachel noted on the show last night, the foundation can be both shut down and still held to account for its alleged misdeeds. As the Associated Press reported late yesterday:

Insider testimony, emails and other evidence show President Donald Trump turned his charitable foundation into a wing of his White House campaign, New York’s attorney general said in a new court filing Thursday.

State Attorney General Letitia James, a Democrat, detailed her case against the foundation in a 37-page court filing in a lawsuit that seeks $2.8 million in restitution and an order banning Trump and his three eldest children from running any New York charities for 10 years.


That $2.8 million in restitution doesn’t include an additional multi-million fine the state attorney general’s office is seeking as a civil penalty for the foundation’s alleged misdeeds.

snip//


As regular readers may recall, let’s also not forget the fact that the president personally signed federal tax returns – under penalty of perjury – swearing that his foundation wasn’t used for political and/or business purposes, and we now know there’s quite a bit of evidence that suggests it was used for both.

Jenny Johnson Ware, a criminal tax attorney in Chicago, told the New York Times last year, “People have gone to prison for stuff like this.”

Posted by babylonsister | Fri Mar 15, 2019, 10:28 AM (5 replies)

Beto O'Rourke Says Trump Colluded With Russia and Obstructed Justice

https://www.politicususa.com/2019/03/15/beto-orourke-says-trump-colluded-with-russia-and-obstructed-justice.html

Posted on Fri, Mar 15th, 2019 by Leo Vidal
Beto O’Rourke Says Trump Colluded With Russia and Obstructed Justice


Beto O’Rourke believes President Donald Trump “at the very least” attempted to obstruct justice and also attempted to collude with Russia during the 2016 election.

Friday morning on CBS This Morning, in his first TV interview since announcing his bid for the White House a day earlier, the former Texas congressman told host Gayle King — in response to a question about whether Trump should be impeached — that he is certain there are grounds for it.

He said:

“It’s beyond the shadow of a doubt to me that if there was not collusion, there was at least the effort to collude with a foreign power.”

“Beyond the shadow of a doubt that if there was not obstruction of justice, there was certainly the effort to obstruct justice. Whether that’s firing James Comey, the principal investigator into what happened in 2016, or in the light of day, tweeting to your attorney general as President Trump did to end the Russia investigation.”


Still, when King followed up by noting House Speaker Nancy Pelosi‘s recent comments saying that impeaching the president right now is “not worth it,” O’Rourke sounded as if he agreed.

“How Congress chooses to address those set of facts, and the findings which I believe we are soon to see from the Mueller report, is up to them,” he said. “I think the American people are going to have a chance to decide at the ballot box in November 2020. And perhaps that’s the best way for us to resolve these outstanding questions.”


O’Rourke also addressed the topics of healthcare and taxes:

“When asked how he would tackle healthcare and taxes, @BetoORourke says “the goal should be universal guaranteed high quality health care” and that the “wealthiest at a time of historic income inequality should be asked to pay a greater share.”
https://twitter.com/CBSThisMorning/status/1106524964440735744

more...

https://www.politicususa.com/2019/03/15/beto-orourke-says-trump-colluded-with-russia-and-obstructed-justice.html
Posted by babylonsister | Fri Mar 15, 2019, 09:44 AM (4 replies)

Mueller Might Not Be Done With Manafort Yet

Mueller Might Not Be Done With Manafort Yet

The disgraced operative still needs to answer for his ties to a suspected Russian spy.
Natasha Bertrand
6:00 AM ET

snip//

The first clue that Mueller’s interest in Manafort goes beyond his financial crimes came early last month, when one of the top prosecutors on Mueller’s team, Andrew Weissmann, said in a closed-door hearing that a meeting Manafort had in August 2016 goes “very much to the heart of what the special counsel’s office is investigating.” (Manafort’s deputy Rick Gates was also at the meeting, The Washington Post said, citing court records. A status update for Gates, who has been cooperating with Mueller, is due on Friday.) During that meeting Manafort provided internal Trump-campaign polling data to Kilimnik and discussed a “Ukraine peace plan” favorable to Russia. Mueller was appointed in May 2017 to investigate “any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with” Trump’s campaign, as his appointment memo described it; Jackson agreed that the topic of Manafort’s meeting was at “the undisputed core of the Office of Special Counsel’s investigation.”

But Weissmann’s tantalizing comment wasn’t resolved in the government’s sentencing memo for Manafort; on the contrary, details about the August 2016 meeting were conspicuously absent from the 800-page document. The episode was briefly brought up in Manafort’s sentencing hearing on Wednesday, when Jackson reaffirmed that Manafort had lied to the government about the meeting in his conversations with Mueller’s team. “I still find that the special counsel’s office proved that Manafort intentionally gave false testimony with respect to that matter,” she said. And it was only one of “several matters he lied about with regard to Mr. Kilimnik,” she added.

The topics discussed during the August 2 meeting might be the closest thing to a “smoking gun” of collusion that has been revealed so far. A footnote in a court filing submitted by Manafort’s attorneys last month, first noticed by the national-security journalist Marcy Wheeler, indicates that Manafort and his deputy sent 75 pages of polling to Kilimnik and that Kilimnik sent at least six emails to the pair discussing the data. Richard Westling, Manafort’s lawyer, denied that Manafort had lied about the content of the August 2 meeting and said that while the data that Manafort shared with Kilimnik was “very detailed” and “relevant” to a meeting the campaign had had earlier in the day, it would not have been useful to the suspected Russian spy. "It frankly, to me, is gibberish,” Westling said. “It’s not easily understandable." Jackson shot back: "That’s what makes it significant and unusual.”

Still, the content of the 2016 meeting was only revealed by accident due to a redaction error by Manafort’s lawyers, and the significance of the episode to Mueller’s main probe, while hinted at by Weissmann, has yet to be fully explained.

“It’s hard to imagine that something so explosive and central to the mission of his investigation wouldn’t be addressed either in charges against someone (Manafort or others) or in a report,” Mimi Rocah, a former federal prosecutor in the Southern District of New York, wrote in an email. “And the fact that the special counsel hasn’t brought it out but it was only revealed inadvertently, reinforces the idea that [Mueller] is saving it for something else.”


That “something else” could be anything from a line in Mueller’s report to an entire conspiracy charge. “My money is on Mueller including the Manafort efforts as part of the ‘case’ alleging Trump campaign collaboration with the Russians,” Patrick Cotter, a former federal prosecutor who specialized in organized crime, told me in an email. “The question then is, what is the best way to make that case? For myself, I believe a RICO [Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act] indictment would be the appropriate vehicle to bring such a case: charge the campaign as the ‘racketeering enterprise’ and name Trump, Manafort and the rest of the gang as members of the enterprise … straight out of the mob prosecution playbook.”

more...

https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2019/03/mueller-might-not-be-done-manafort-over-kilimnik-ties/584995/
Posted by babylonsister | Fri Mar 15, 2019, 09:11 AM (1 replies)

Beto O'Rourke frequently voted for Republican legislation, analysis reveals

This won't be popular and it's from December. The more we know.

Beto O’Rourke frequently voted for Republican legislation, analysis reveals
Review of his six-year record in Congress shows Democrat frequently opposed own party, and supported bills that boosted the fossil fuel industry and Trump’s immigration policy
David Sirota@davidsirota
Thu 20 Dec 2018 06.00 EST
Last modified on Thu 20 Dec 2018 10.55 EST



Beto O’Rourke’s spirited run for the US Senate in Texas last month has prompted powerful voices in the Democratic party establishment to tout the outgoing Texas congressman as a 2020 presidential candidate who, as the party’s standard-bearer, would offer a vision of America contrasting against that of Republicans.
Beto O'Rourke poses growing threat to fellow Democrats with 2020 hopes

However, a new analysis of congressional votes from the non-profit news organisation Capital & Main shows that even as O’Rourke represented one of the most solidly Democratic congressional districts in the United States, he has frequently voted against the majority of House Democrats in support of Republican bills and Trump administration priorities.

Capital & Main reviewed the 167 votes O’Rourke has cast in the House in opposition to the majority of his own party during his six-year tenure in Congress. Many of those votes were not progressive dissents alongside other left-leaning lawmakers, but instead votes to help pass Republican-sponsored legislation.
Sign up for the new US morning briefing

O’Rourke has voted for GOP bills that his fellow Democratic lawmakers said reinforced Republicans’ anti-tax ideology, chipped away at the Affordable Care Act (ACA), weakened Wall Street regulations, boosted the fossil fuel industry and bolstered Donald Trump’s immigration policy.

Consumer, environmental, public health and civil rights organizations have cast legislation backed by O’Rourke as aiding big banks, undermining the fight against climate change and supporting Trump’s anti-immigrant agenda. During the previous administration, Barack Obama’s White House issued statements slamming two GOP bills backed by the 46-year-old Democratic legislator.

more...

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/dec/20/beto-orourke-congressional-votes-analysis-capital-and-main?CMP=share_btn_fb&fbclid=IwAR2vMOvHyswbTRmQMiDxKvpsguzgYbhW_RCrQ4KhR7mnyKrVFSdbhMF8Pn8

Graham blocks resolution calling for Mueller report to be made public


Graham blocks resolution calling for Mueller report to be made public
By Jordain Carney - 03/14/19 03:55 PM EDT


Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on Thursday blocked a resolution calling for special counsel Robert Mueller's report to be made public after it passed the House unanimously.

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) asked for unanimous consent for the nonbinding resolution, which cleared the House 420-0, to be passed by the Senate before they leave town for a weeklong recess.

"There is no good reason, no good reason that the special counsel's report should not be made public. The American people are overwhelmingly for the report being made public. They have a right to see it. No one should stand in the way of that," Schumer said from the Senate floor.


But Graham, a close ally of Trump's who chairs the Judiciary Committee, objected after Schumer refused to amend the House-passed resolution to include a provision calling on the Justice Department (DOJ) to appoint a special counsel to investigate DOJ misconduct in the handling of the investigation into 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton's email use and the Carter Page Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act applications.




more...

https://thehill.com/homenews/senate/434124-graham-blocks-resolution-calling-for-mueller-report-to-be-made-public
Posted by babylonsister | Thu Mar 14, 2019, 06:34 PM (9 replies)

Richie Neal and Trump's Taxes

Richie Neal and Trump’s Taxes
Jeff Hauser & Eleanor Eagan
March 13, 2019
The costs of having a corporate Democrat chair the House Ways and Means Committee


As most House Democrats enthusiastically jump on the long-dormant congressional oversight train, one senior lawmaker has conspicuously chosen to stay on the platform. Under the leadership of Representative Richard Neal, the House Committee on Ways and Means has shown none of the zeal for oversight exhibited by its counterparts.

The announcement two weeks ago that Neal would finally request Trump’s tax returns, after a good deal of pressure from the Democratic Caucus, might have appeared to be a welcome reversal. But look at the fine print and you’ll see that the committee’s strategy is basically a continuation of Neal’s obstinate refusal to deliver on Democrats’ 2018 campaign promises.

Not only is Neal’s request still set for some uncertain time in the nearish future (approximately two and a half or more months too late), the request he is contemplating is wildly inadequate.

That is because Neal plans to disregard tax law experts and request only the president’s personal returns.


Neal’s lame excuse is that business returns for Trump’s over 500 Limited Liability Corporations (LLCs) are too complex. Neal is right that understanding Trump’s finances will be unjustifiably arduous, but as one of the few people in the country with the power to gather the resources and expertise to conquer this task, surrender in the face of this complexity is a cowardly dereliction of duty.

more...

https://prospect.org/article/richie-neal-and-trumps-taxes
Posted by babylonsister | Thu Mar 14, 2019, 04:16 PM (1 replies)

Barbara McQuade: Can Manhattan D.A. Cy Vance Flip Manafort After Mueller Failed?

https://www.thedailybeast.com/new-york-charges-against-paul-manafort-provide-intrigue-on-sentencing-day?ref=home

Can Manhattan D.A. Cy Vance Flip Manafort After Mueller Failed?
If Trump’s former campaign chairman was counting on a pardon from the man who lauded his refusal to ‘break,’ the NYC prosecutor may have just thrown a wrench into the plan.
Barbara McQuade
03.14.19 12:57 AM ET

snip//

But just when Manafort’s cases were over, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance charged Manafort in state court in New York. The timing could not have been a coincidence. What to make of these new charges against Manafort?

One obvious point of speculation is that these new charges were filed to prevent Manafort from escaping accountability for his crimes through a pardon. Other former Trump associates, such as former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, former deputy campaign chair Rick Gates and former attorney Michael Cohen, have pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate with the special counsel. Manafort, in contrast, has not. Manafort’s plea agreement in the District of Columbia included a cooperation provision that gave him an opportunity to earn a reduction in his sentence by providing substantial assistance in the investigation of others, but prosecutors discovered that while feigning cooperation, Manafort lied to investigators, and his deal was rescinded, causing some to speculate that Manafort is angling for a pardon from President Trump.

President Trump has remained supportive of Manafort throughout his prosecution, tweeting about his respect for such a “brave man,” who refused to “break.” Trump has used his pardon power in the past to absolve Sheriff Joe Arpaio of contempt of court and political commentator Dinesh D’Souza for campaign finance crimes, among others, showing that he is not afraid to use the power for what some may see as political causes. The president has a virtually unfettered power to pardon individuals who are convicted of crimes as a show of mercy. The one limitation on his pardon power is that while he may use it for people who have been convicted of federal crimes, he has no such power over state crimes.

That’s where state charges against Manafort can work as a backstop. The Manhattan DA’s indictment charges 16 counts, alleging mortgage fraud, falsifying business records and a scheme to defraud. While New York’s protective double jeopardy rules may create some litigation risk for the fraud charges, the counts for falsifying business records are unique to state law and seem unlikely to pose the same challenge.

Is Vance’s goal simply to ensure that Manafort is held accountable by facing prison time for his crimes? That alone would be a worthy goal for a defendant whose crimes were as pervasive and sophisticated as Manafort’s. Or is Vance instead thinking that by applying more pressure on Manafort, he can do what Mueller could not—convince him to cooperate by neutralizing President Trump’s pardon power.

Checkmate?
Posted by babylonsister | Thu Mar 14, 2019, 02:17 PM (7 replies)

Trump wants to close international immigration offices. The ramifications are huge.

https://thinkprogress.org/uscsis-closures-impact-adoptions-family-reunification-4e4d2fe73754/


Trump wants to close international immigration offices. The ramifications are huge.
Sacrificing human rights for the sake of "efficiency."
Rebekah Entralgo
Mar 13, 2019, 1:46 pm


U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced Tuesday that it plans to shutter all of its 23 field offices across 20 countries in an effort to save money and resources. The administration’s goal of cost-cutting, however, could have real life ramifications for refugee processing and foreign nationals in urgent need of humanitarian parole.

Overseas USCIS field offices play a crucial role in refugee applications, family reunification visas and foreign adoptions, in addition to other responsibilities like processing naturalization documents for military members who marry foreign nationals. Under this potential change, the work of international USCIS field offices would be divvied up among the State Department, embassies and consulates, and the agency’s domestic offices.

snip//

Until the shift in responsibilities is formally implemented, families and individuals who rely on the international offices will likely face significant delays in requests. Families adopting from overseas may have to wait longer to bring their child home, as would someone who needs to urgently enter the United States on the basis of a humanitarian crisis. According to a 2008 report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, humanitarian parole cases are used when a foreign national is unable to obtain a visa for whatever reason, and are rarely granted except in the case of an absolute emergency or urgent family reunification. One example of humanitarian parole that is granted is for foreign nationals who could serve as the donor of a family member dying in the United States.

Currently, there is no detailed plan on how this policy change would be implemented. It isn’t known, for example, if it is even legal for the State Department to assume some of the responsibilities of the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees USCIS. It also isn’t known how much this move would cost.

“I’m worried this just another example of the Trump administration making a decision first and then dealing with the consequences later,” Jaddou said. “The family separation policy was a huge policy change. We have government report after government report that shows there was no planning. The people who were supposed to implement it didn’t know about it until it went public. The consequences were detrimental.”


News of the impending USCIS closures comes the same week as the 2020 budget proposal, which included an “immigration services surcharge.” The fee increase would add an estimated 10 percent to immigration form filing fees. According to the budget, these fees are necessary to go towards “deficit reduction,” despite the fact that the fees would be just a drop in the bucket compared to the $31 trillion the budget estimates the deficit will reach within the next decade.
Posted by babylonsister | Wed Mar 13, 2019, 05:35 PM (3 replies)

WATCH: Ocasio-Cortez Grills Wells Fargo CEO Over Profiting From 'Caging of Children' and Pipeline Di

Published on Tuesday, March 12, 2019
by Common Dreams
WATCH: Ocasio-Cortez Grills Wells Fargo CEO Over Profiting From 'Caging of Children' and Pipeline Disasters

"Want to know why Ocasio-Cortez's popularity keeps climbing? Because she amplifies questions that movements of people, like the #NoDAPL movement, have been shouting to the powers that be for ages."
by
Julia Conley, staff writer


Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Ocasio (D-NY) proved once again her verbal interrogation skills on Tuesday as she grilled Wells Fargo CEO Timothy Sloan over the financial giant's dubious investments and won applause for holding his feet to the fire.

The freshman congresswoman questioned bank CEO Timothy Sloan about two issues for which corporations are rarely directly held accountable—the bank's financing of human rights abuses as well as environmental disasters.

On the issue of Wells Fargo's relationship with the private prison industry and the Trump administration's child detention policy, Ocasio-Cortez asked sharply: "Mr. Sloan, why was the bank involved in the caging of children?"

https://twitter.com/alexisgoldstein/status/1105522290270392320
In his response, Sloan announced that the bank is in the process of cutting ties with one group and has already stopped financing another—information that wasn't publicly known before the hearing.

more...

https://www.commondreams.org/news/2019/03/12/watch-ocasio-cortez-grills-wells-fargo-ceo-over-profiting-caging-children-and?fbclid=IwAR1qg1ZDwJ2oMInncBk5nFNqq9ORGbVZxWKiM4Uc0lo9LH9AAKnLhZ3M8Jw
Posted by babylonsister | Tue Mar 12, 2019, 09:40 PM (1 replies)

Coast Guard officer described by prosecutors as 'domestic terrorist' not facing terrorism charges


Coast Guard officer described by prosecutors as ‘domestic terrorist’ not facing terrorism charges
Chris Hasson's case demonstrates the pitfalls prosecutors face when dealing with far-right extremists.
Luke Barnes
Mar 12, 2019, 4:26 pm


The Coast Guard lieutenant who allegedly plotted the murder of prominent Democrats and journalists is facing up to 31 years behind bars — but has not been charged with terrorism.

Christopher Hasson, 49, was arrested last month by federal agents on drugs and weapons charges. In the initial federal detention motion, prosecutors said the charges were the “proverbial tip of the iceberg” and described Hasson as a “domestic terrorist, bent on committing acts dangerous to human life that are intended to affect governmental conduct.”


The motion went on to describe the hallmarks of far-right extremism which Hasson had allegedly displayed. He was obsessed with Anders Behring Breivik, a Norwegian far-right terrorist who killed 77 people — mostly teenagers — during an attack in Norway in 2011. Hasson also allegedly made thousands of online searches for neo-fascist and neo-Nazi literature, compiled a hit list of prominent Democrats and journalists, and researched their locations and security arrangements.

Hasson also allegedly amassed an arsenal of rifles, handguns, bulletproof vests and over a thousand rounds of ammunition. He also allegedly acquired the opioid Tramadol and more than 30 bottles of Human Growth Hormone.

more...

https://thinkprogress.org/chris-hasson-coast-guard-officer-domestic-terrorist-terrorism-charges-fa8901063f72/
Posted by babylonsister | Tue Mar 12, 2019, 08:07 PM (2 replies)
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