Fast and Furious

The Pronk Pops Show 1349, October 31, 2019, Story 1: Democrat Party Cover-up of Spy-gate — Clinton Obama Democrat Criminal Conspiracy — Continues With Passage of House Rule Resolution For Behind Closed Door Kangaroo Court — Videos — Story 2: Big Lie Media Spinning and Lying About Tim Morrison Testimony About Trump Phone Call With Ukraine — Nothing Illegal Was Discussed and No Quid Pro Quo — Videos — Story 3: Long Term China Trade Deal Not Likely Any Time Soon With Chinese Communist Party — Short Term Deal Only — Maximum Pressure Required — Trust But Verify — Enforcement of Any Agreement Is Essential and Chinese Will Never Comply With Any Enforcement Language — Escalating Trade War Between United States and Chinese Communist Party  Leading to Total Embargo of Trade With Communist China — U.S./Communist Trade Agreement: All Talk and More Talk But No Long Term Enforceable Trade Deal — Time To Walk Out — Videos

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Stealth War: How China Took Over While America's Elite SleptSee the source imageSee the source imageSee the source imageSee the source image

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Story 1: Democrat Party Cover-up of Spy-gate — Clinton Obama Democrat Criminal Conspiracy — Continues With Passage of House Rule Resolution For Behind Closed Door Kangaroo Court — Videos —

Impeachment witness says Trump-Ukraine call wasn’t illegal

Jim Jordan makes explosive accusation against Schiff

Tom Fitton reacts to the upcoming House vote on the impeachment probe

Tucker: Schiff is obsessed with impeachment

TRUMP RALLY: Whistleblower

POSSIBLE UKRAINE WHISTLEBLOWER: CIA Eric Ciaramella worked WITH DNC “operative” Brennan, Chalupa

OAN gives alleged whistleblower Eric Ciaramella the opportunity to deny media claims

Rep.Louie Gohmert Essentially Names Eric Ciaramella As Ukraine Whistleblower

Hannity: Latest testimony blows whistleblower claim out of the water

Another Key Witness Confirms Trump Quid Pro Quo On Ukraine | Hardball | MSNBC

Rep. Collins’ warning to House Dems leading impeachment inquiry

“IMPEACHMENT SHAM” Republicans Say Impeachment Process Is A COUP

Lou Dobbs 10/31/19 | Breaking Fox News October 31, 2019

What’s next after the House vote on impeachment rules?

House passes Democrat-backed rules for impeachment inquiry

Nightly News Broadcast (Full) – October 31st, 2019 | NBC Nightly News

Top GOP lawmakers speak after House passes impeachment inquiry resolution

WATCH: House Votes To Pass Rules For Impeachment Probe | MSNBC

Leader McCarthy with Laura Ingraham: Democrats are Fixated on Impeachment

Russia probe review becomes a criminal investigation

DOJ criminal investigation into its own Russia probe a political win for Trump

‘The Five’ breaks down DOJ’s criminal inquiry into Russia probe

Fox News warns impeachment inquiry is Democratic ‘coup’ of Trump

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Nancy Pelosi sets up ultra-partisan televised impeachment probe by jamming new rules through House without Republican backing – and two of her own side vote AGAINST new stage in investigating Donald Trump

  • House Democrats approved an impeachment inquiry into the president in a vote almost entirely along party lines
  • ‘What is at stake is our democracy. What are we fighting for? Defending our democracy for the people,’ Speaker Pelosi said 
  • The vote was 232 in favor with 196 voting no; two Democrats rebelled and voted with Republicans
  • ‘The Greatest Witch Hunt In American History!,’ Trump tweeted afterward
  • Trump spent morning tweeting and retweeting words from his supporters
  • He called on Republicans to stand together and back him
  • The resolution outlines how the impeachment investigation will proceed and what rights the president will have during it
  • Republicans complained about the lack of ‘due process’ for Trump and charged Democrats with trying to overturn the 2016 election 
  • White House counselor Kellyanne Conway said the administration is considering bringing aboard additional staff to combat the impeachment inquiry
  • The vote comes as Tim Morrison, who was Trump’s top adviser for Russian and European affairs, testifies behind closed doors in the impeachment inquiry

A divided House of Representatives voted on Thursday to begin the next stage of the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, taking the investigation from behind closed doors to Americans’ television screens with a series of public hearings.

Republican and Democratic lawmakers took to the House floor to engage in a bitter debate over the impeachment process before voting almost entirely along along party lines on the resolution.

Thursday’s vote was 232 in favor with 196 lawmakers voting no. There were two Democratic defections – Congressmen Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey and Collin Peterson of Minnesota.

Both hold swing districts that Trump carried in the 2016 election. Trump carried Peterson’s district by over 30 points. Republicans had hoped more Democrats in vulnerable seats would vote against.

Rep. Justin Amash, a Republican who became an Independent, voted in favor of the resolution.

Nancy Pelosi was left with no fig leaf of bipartisanship when no Republican backed her case; the Republicans got two Democrats voting with them but not the up to a dozen they had hoped would rebel against the Speaker.

Steve Scalise, the Republican whip boasted afterwards about keeping his side united.

The contentious debate is likely a preview of the public hearings to come.

Democrats focused on their constitutional duty; they talked about following the law and protecting national security interests.

Republicans railed against the process, echoing a White House argument there is no due process for the president and no Republican in-put into the proceedings, and accused their colleagues across the aisle of trying to overturn the 2016 election.

The Greatest Witch Hunt In American History!,’ Trump tweeted after the vote was finished, using his favorite phrase to describe any investigation into him.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi gavels the vote on the impeachment resolution to a close

Speaker Nancy Pelosi presided over the vote and gaveled it to a close, announcing the final total.

She kept her words on the matter short: ‘On this vote the yeas are 232, the nays are 196. The resolution is adopted without objection.’

Four lawmakers did not vote. Three Republicans – Jody Hice of Georgia, John Rose of Tennessee, and William Timmons of South Carolina – and one Democrat: Donald McEachin of Virginia.

Rep. Hice tweeted he missed the vote because his father died but he would have voted no on the resolution if he had been present.

Democrats launched the formal impeachment inquiry in September after a whistleblower revealed concerns that President Trump asked the Ukrainian president to investigate Joe and Hunter Bidens, his political enemies, during a July 25 phone call.

Trump has denied any wrongdoing and called the call ‘perfect.’

The weeks-long inquiry accumulated into Thursday’s five-minute vote. The House chamber was crowded with lawmakers as it took place. They chatted with each other on their respective sides of aisle.

After it was over, Democrats moved on to the next vote on the schedule while Republicans yelled in protest. ‘Order, order,’ they yelled, ‘we have rules.’

But Democrats, who control the chamber, moved on.

White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham, as soon as the vote was over, charged House Democrats with an ‘obsession’ with impeaching the president.

‘The President has done nothing wrong, and the Democrats know it. Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats’ unhinged obsession with this illegitimate impeachment proceeding does not hurt President Trump; it hurts the American people,’ she said in a statement.

President Trump spent the morning before the House votes on an impeachment resolution into him tweeting and retweeting words from his supporters

President Trump spent the morning before the House votes on an impeachment resolution into him tweeting and retweeting words from his supporters

Trump spent Thursday morning tweeting and retweeting words from his supporters, calling on Republicans to stand by him in the upcoming vote.

‘The Impeachment Hoax is hurting our Stock Market. The Do Nothing Democrats don’t care!,’ he wrote shortly before the House started voting on the resolution against him.

Earlier he called on Republicans to stand by him during the proceedings.

‘Now is the time for Republicans to stand together and defend the leader of their party against these smears,’ Trump tweeted, quoting conservative talk host Laura Ingraham.

Pelosi, meanwhile, gaveled the House into order on Thursday morning as lawmakers took to the floor to debate the resolution.

Democrats talked about following the law and protecting national security interests. Republicans railed against the process, echoing a White House argument there is no due process for the president and no Republican in-put into the proceedings.

‘It’s not a fair process. It’s not a transparent process. It’s not an open process. But instead it’s limited and a closed process with a pre-ordained outcome,’ argued Republican Rep. Tom Cole said on the House floor Thursday morning.

Rep. Devin Nunes, the ranking Republican on the Intelligence panel, compared Democrats pursuing impeachment to a ‘cult,’ and their inquiry to a ‘show trial.’

‘They have always intended to transform the Intelligence committee into the impeachment committee,’ said Nunes, a California Republican who was himself accused of politicizing the Intelligence panel during the Mueller investigation.

‘Every one of their actions from the staff they hired to the Trump conspiracy theories they investigate … indicates this has been their plan from day one,’ he said on the House floor.

He accused Democrats of harboring a ‘bizarre obsession with overturning the results of the last presidential election.’

What we’re seeing among Democrats on the Intelligence Committees, down in the [secure Capitol facility] right now, is like a cult. These are a group of people loyally following their leader as he bounces from one outlandish conspiracy theory to another. And the media are the cult followers, permanently stationed outside the committee spaces, pretending to take everything seriously, because they too support the goal of removing the president from office,’ Nunes said.

Pelosi, like many of her colleagues, delivered floor remarks in front of a poster of an American flag where lawmakers often place visual aids.

The Speaker, who only occasionally speaks on legislation or procedures on the floor of the House, began her remarks by reading the preamble to the Constitution.

‘What is at stake is our democracy. What are we fighting for? Defending our democracy for the people,’ she said.

‘The genius of the Constitution, a separation of powers. Three coequal branches of government to be a check and balance on each other,’ Pelosi told colleagues.

‘Sadly this is not any cause for any glee or comfort. This is something that is very solemn that is something prayerful.’ Addressing arguments that the House was authorizing something that has already begun, she said: ‘We had to gather so much information to take us to this next step.’

‘I doubt anybody in this place … comes to Congress to take the oath of office … to impeach the president of the United States, unless his actions are jeopardizing our honoring our oath of office,’ said Pelosi, who earlier this month walked out of a meeting with President Trump after it grew heated.

 ‘Let us honor our oath of office. Let us defend our democracy. Let us have a good vote today and have clarity, clarity as to how we proceed,’ she said.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi spoke on the House floor with a poster of a flag+14

Speaker Nancy Pelosi spoke on the House floor with a poster of a flag

Rep. Steve Scalise, the Number Two Republican in the House, called the proceedings 'Soviet-style'

Rep. Steve Scalise, the Number Two Republican in the House, called the proceedings ‘Soviet-style’

‘At the end of the day, this resolution isn’t about Donald Trump. It isn’t about any of us. It’s about our Constitution. It’s about our country. And so I urge my colleagues to not just think about the political pressures of the moment. These will pass. Please consider the heavy responsibility you have today, to this institution, the Constitution, and our country,’ said Rules Committee Chairman Rep. Jim McGovern on the House floor Thursday morning.

”I never wanted our country to reach this point. I do not take any pleasure in the need for this resolution. We are not here in some partisan exercise. We are here because the facts compel us to be here. There is serious evidence that President Trump may have violated the Constitution. This is about protecting our national security and safeguarding our elections,’ he added.

‘I support this resolution because it lays the groundwork for open hearings. The House and the American public must see all of the evidence for themselves,’ said Judiciary Chair Jerry Nadler in his floor speech.

Nadler’s committee will hold some of those public hearings.

‘I support this resolution because I know we must overcome this difficult moment for the Nation. This resolution is necessary to ensure that our constitutional order remains intact for future generations,’ he added. ‘I support this resolution because we simply have no choice.’

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler spoke in support of the resolution; his committee will hold some of the public hearings

House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy charged Democrats with trying to overturn the 2016 election+14

House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy charged Democrats with trying to overturn the 2016 election

House minority whip Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana tried to turn the table on Democrats, who have spent years focusing on Russian election interference and Trump campaign contacts with Russians.

He spoke next to a blow-up posture of the Kremlin, and accused the Democrats of conducting a Soviet-style inquiry.

‘If the chair chooses, at his whim, they can literally kick out the president’s legal counsel. This is unprecedented. It’s not only unprecedented, this is Soviet-style rules. Maybe in the Soviet Union, you’d do things like this, where only you make the rules, where you reject the ability of the person you are accusing to even be in the room to question what’s going on, for anybody else to call witnesses,’ said Scalise.

House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy blasted Democrats for ‘not working for the American people.’

‘This Congress has more subpoenas than laws,’ he said in his floor speech.

‘Democrats are trying to impeach the president because they are scared they cannot beat him at the ballot,’ McCarthy complained. ‘This impeachment is not only an attempt to undo the last election. It is an attempt to undo the last one as well.’

For both sides the vote will become a political weapon in 2020 with Republicans targeting Democrats who represent House districts that Trump won in 2016 and Democrats using it as a rallying cry for their base.

Tim Morrison, who was Trump's top adviser for Russian and European affairs, arrives on Capitol Hill Thursday to testify

Tim Morrison, who was Trump’s top adviser for Russian and European affairs, arrives on Capitol Hill Thursday to testify

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway said  the administration is considering bringing aboard additional staff to combat the impeachment inquiry

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway said Thursday morning the administration is considering bringing aboard additional staff to combat the impeachment inquiry.

‘Possibly and if we do it’s because our portfolios are already over flowing,’  she told reporters in the White House drive way. ‘So possibly. Stephanie Grisham is the press secretary and communications director the president and to the first lady. She’s got a pretty busy portfolio already.’

She added that any additions would be temporary and single-focused on the impeach issue, comparing it to how the administration brought on small teams of extra staff to handle other key issues, such as Supreme Court nominations.

‘So if it’s something intense, but single focused albeit temporary, there’s an argument for bringing a few extra hands and minds on to the team. So I would analogize it to Kavanaugh Part II for example,’ she said. ‘You have a short window and somebody who is single-focused on just that which is, frankly, something the rest of us can’t do.’

She was quick to add: ‘It’s not a war room. The president has made it pretty clear he doesn’t need a war room.’

The vote comes as Tim Morrison, who was Trump’s top adviser for Russian and European affairs, arrived on Capitol Hill Thursday morning to testify in the inquiry.

Morrison recently left his White House post and Democrats will seek details from him on an allegation that president linked nearly $400 million in U.S. military aid to the Ukraine to officials there undertaking an investigation into Joe and Hunter Biden, along with probing an unproven theory that it was the Ukrainians who hacked the Democratic National Committee’s email server and blamed the Russians.

Trump has maintained he’s done nothing wrong.

The House resolution includes a package of rules for how the Intelligence Committee – now leading the investigation closed-door testimony from witness – would transition to public hearings.

It also details how Intelligence panel Chair Adam Schiff will have most of the power in the process – deciding who will testify in front of the cameras and for how long – before issuing a public report and handing the matter over to the House Judiciary Committee, which will compose any formal articles of impeachment against the president.

Republicans and the White House are objecting to how that process is laid out.

Under the resolution, GOP lawmakers can only issue subpoenas for witnesses if the entire panel approved them – in effect giving Democrats veto power over their requests. Democrats argue this was the same procedure Republicans used when they had the majority during Bill Clinton’s impeachment process in the 1990s.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi will bring a resolution to a vote that outlines how the investigation will proceed and what rights the president will have during it

Speaker Nancy Pelosi will bring a resolution to a vote that outlines how the investigation will proceed and what rights the president will have during it

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff will play a lead role in the public hearing phase of the investigation+14

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff will play a lead role in the public hearing phase of the investigation

Additionally, there is no role for President Trump’s lawyers when the Intelligence panel holds its public hearings – a time when the cable news networks will run wall-to-wall coverage and viewership is expected to be high.

Trump’s lawyers aren’t allowed into the process into the Judiciary committee phase but what rights they will have – such as the ability to question witnesses – are not outlined in the resolution.

The White House blasted the rules as ‘an illegitimate sham’ that lacks ‘any due process’ for President Trump.

‘The White House is barred from participating at all, until after Chairman Schiff conducts two rounds of one-sided hearings to generate a biased report for the Judiciary Committee. Even then, the White House’s rights remain undefined, unclear, and uncertain – because those rules still haven’t been written,’ White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham argued in a statement earlier this week on the resolution.

By the time the president gets to participate, most of the drama will have played out on television screens across the country.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell blasted the procedure as denying the president his ‘basic due process rights.’

‘It does not confer on President Trump the most basic rights of due process,’ McConnell complained in a speech on the Senate floor on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Bill Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in the Ukraine whose closed-door testimony in the impeachment inquiry against Trump shocked Democrats with its details, is willing to testify in public when the hearings move to that stage.

No request has been made for his public testimony, CNN reports, but he is likely to be on the Democrats’ list when the time comes.

Republican Leader Mitch McConnell blasted House Democrats' impeachment resolution on the Senate floor on Wednesday

Republican Leader Mitch McConnell blasted House Democrats’ impeachment resolution on the Senate floor on Wednesday

Bill Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in the Ukraine, is wiling to testify in public

Bill Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in the Ukraine, is wiling to testify in public

Taylor testified last week that he was told that American military aid to the Ukraine was contingent on Kiev putting out a statement they were investigating the Bidens and the 2016 election.

Democrats believe he could be a star witness.

He’s rock solid, detailed notetaker and unimpeachable,’ Rep. Jackie Speier, a Democratic member of the House Intelligence Committee, told CNN. ‘Fifty years given to his country — it doesn’t get much more ‘Top Gun’ than that.’

Taylor testified behind closed doors last week that Trump refused to release U.S. security aid or meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky until Zelensky agreed to investigate the president’s political rivals.

Trump wanted a public commitment from the Ukraine they would investigate Burisma Holdings, a Ukrainian gas company with Hunter Biden on its board, Taylor – a Vietnam veteran and career State Department official  – told Congress, and said the president wanted Ukraine ‘put in a box.’

Trump and his allies have pushed an unproven theory Joe Biden, as vice president, demanded the Ukraine remove a prosecutor to the benefit of the company.

The president also pushed an unproven conspiracy theory that an email server belonging to the Democratic National Committee was hacked by Ukrainians during the 2016 election and they made it look as it were the Russians – a story, that if true, would indicate he won the 2016 contest without Russian interference.

Bolton was in meetings with EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland on Ukraine policy+14

Bolton was in meetings with EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland on Ukraine policy

Taylor said he was told that Trump had made clear that military aid to help keep Ukraine safe from Russia would only be made available if Zelensky went public to order ‘investigations,’ otherwise there was a ‘stalemate.’

And Taylor testified that Sondland told another diplomat: ‘President Trump did insist that President Zelensky go to a microphone and say that he is opening investigations of Biden and 2016 election interference, and that President Zelensky should want to do this himself.’

The bombshell testimony rocked Washington D.C. and left the White House reeling – after Trump had started the day by calling impeachment ‘a lynching.’

As Democratic lawmakers trickled out of the hearing, they called they evidence ‘damning,’ while Republicans had little to say.

Taylor called the involvement of Rudy Giuliani in a ‘parallel’ foreign policy ‘highly irregular’; confirmed that John Bolton had called linking military aid to Ukraine to a Biden probe a ‘drug deal’; implicated Mike Pence, Mike Pompeo and Mick Mulvaney in the scheme; and painted EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland as part of Giuliani’s scheme as well as an error-prone official lax on security and an unreliable witness – who one Republican conceded is likely to be recalled to the probe.

He recalled a phone call with Sondland, whom the president put in charge of Ukrainian affairs despite that country not being an EU member.

‘During that phone call, Amb. Sondland told me that President Trump had told him that he wants President Zelensky to state publicly that Ukraine will investigate Burisma and alleged Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election,’ Taylor said in his statement.

He added Sondland told him ‘everything’ – meaning U.S. military aid and a White House meeting – was contingent on the Ukraine publicly agreeing to the probe.

‘Amb. Sondland also told me that he now recognized that he had made a mistake by earlier telling the Ukrainian officials to whom he spoke that a White House meeting with President Zelensky was dependent on a public announcement of investigations — in fact, Amb. Sondland said, ‘everything’ was dependent on such an announcement, including security assistance,’ Taylor said.

‘He said that President Trump wanted President Zelensky ‘in a public box’ by making a public statement about ordering such investigations,” he noted.

Taylor is considered the biggest threat to Trump to come before lawmakers.

He left his retirement to take up the top U.S. post in the Ukraine after Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch was fired by Trump. He has no ties to the administration and no diplomatic career to worry about given his senior statesman status. He has worked in administrations for both political parties.

White House blasts impeachment resolution as ‘illegitimate sham’ without ‘any due process’ for Donald Trump after Democrats release proposal that omits details about president’s rights when public hearings are televised

  • White House blasted the Democrats’ impeachment resolution 
  • It’s ‘an illegitimate sham … without any due process for the President,’ White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement
  • House Democrats released their impeachment resolution on Tuesday that outlines the next stage of the investigation into Donald Trump
  • It includes public hearings and gives Republicans limited power to call witnesses
  • Power is concentrated in hands on Intel Committee Chair Adam Schiff
  • He will get to approve Republican witnesses and their requests for subpoena
  • After Intel finishes its investigation, it will write a public report
  • Matter then goes to Judiciary panel which writes articles of impeachment 
  • Trump and his lawyer cannot participate in process until that final stage 
  • House votes on resolution on Thursday, which is Halloween  

Under the resolution, power is concentrated in the hands of House Intelligence committee Chair Adam Schiff, who can authorize longer periods to question witnesses and who can approve Republican requests for witnesses to appear. 

The Intelligence panel will take the lead in the next, immediate steps. Those include public hearings where Republican lawmakers and staff can question witnesses.

But there is no role for the president’s lawyer in the that stage – which is the White House’s chief complaint. 

After its public hearings conclude, the Intelligence panel will submit its findings to the House Judiciary Committee, which will have the responsibility for drafting any articles of impeachment that would charge the president.

STEPHANIE GRISHAM STATEMENT ON RESOLUTION

The resolution put forward by Speaker Pelosi confirms that House Democrats’ impeachment has been an illegitimate sham from the start as it lacked any proper authorization by a House vote.

It continues this scam by allowing Chairman Schiff, who repeatedly lies to the American people, to hold a new round of hearings, still without any due process for the President.

The White House is barred from participating at all, until after Chairman Schiff conducts two rounds of one-sided hearings to generate a biased report for the Judiciary Committee. Even then, the White House’s rights remain undefined, unclear, and uncertain – because those rules still haven’t been written.

This resolution does nothing to change the fundamental fact that House Democrats refuse to provide basic due process rights to the Administration.

It’s in that stage that President Trump’s lawyers will get to be involved but what rights they will have – such as the ability to question witnesses – are not outlined in the resolution.

‘The White House is barred from participating at all, until after Chairman Schiff conducts two rounds of one-sided hearings to generate a biased report for the Judiciary Committee. Even then, the White House’s rights remain undefined, unclear, and uncertain – because those rules still haven’t been written,’ Grisham argued in her statement on the resolution.

By the time the president gets to participate, most of the drama will have played out on television screens across the country.

Republicans, meanwhile, have called foul on the restrictions Democrats have placed on them when it comes to presenting Trump’s case when the hearings move the public stage.

Rep. Devin Nunes, the top Republican on the intelligence panel, can request witnesses, documents and any subpoenas the GOP want but Schiff must sign off on those requests and the full committee, which has a majority of Democrats, must approve them by vote.

Democrats point out that it is the same practice Republicans used for the minority power during the impeachment proceedings into President Bill Clinton into 1998.

The resolution puts the power in the impeachment inquiry into House Intelligence panel Chair Adam Schiff

Speaker Nancy Pelosi will lead Democrats in voting on the resolution on Thursday

The resolution is slated for a vote on Thursday in the full House. Republican leadership is telling its members to vote no on what they call a ‘Soviet-style’ resolution.

Under the Democratic-written measure, the House committees are directed ‘to continue their ongoing investigations as part of the existing House of Representatives inquiry into whether sufficient grounds exist for the House of Representatives to exercise its Constitutional power to impeach Donald John Trump, President of the United States of America, and for other purposes.’

Besides setting out the procedure for public hearings, the House intelligence panel  is directed to write a public report – with classified information redacted – and ultimately transfer its findings to the House Judiciary Committee, which will take the lead in the final stage of the impeachment inquiry.

That panel, led by Chairman Jerry Nadler, will draw up any articles of impeachment that will end up before the full House for a vote.

The Judiciary panel can also hold public hearings as it works on drafting the articles.

For both committees, in the public hearings, each side could engage in extended questioning of witnesses in rounds of up to 90 minutes before beginning the traditional five-minute rounds extended to lawmakers on those panels under existing rules.

Both lawmakers and staff would have the ability to ask questions.

The resolution also allows for Trump to make his case before lawmakers in the Judiciary Committee stage.

‘The House authorizes the Committee on the Judiciary to conduct proceedings relating to the impeachment inquiry referenced in the first section of this resolution pursuant to the procedures submitted for printing in the Congressional Record by the chair of the Committee on Rules, including such procedures as to allow for the participation of the President and his counsel,’ it reads.

A fact sheet put out by Democrats says that the president’s lawyers can will have an opportunity to present their case, attend hearings, respond to evidence, and raise an objection to testimony given.

B

President Trump and Republicans have cried foul on impeachment process

President Trump and Republicans have cried foul on impeachment process

By offering a resolution on the next steps, Democrats could undercut that argument if Republicans bring it up during the public hearings.

Additionally, by putting the Intelligence and Judiciary panels in charge of the next steps, it would appear to cut out the House Oversight and Foreign Affairs committees, which have played a role in the closed-door hearings.

That result could see some of Trump’s most ardent defenders – Republican lawmakers Jim Jordan and Mark Meadows among them – not part of the panels that will question witnesses in the public hearings, which are sure to play out on the 24-hour cable news channels.

GOP lawmakers immediately attacked the resolution for giving Schiff approval over the witnesses they want to call.

‘Socialist Dem impeachment resolution lets Repubs call witnesses … IF Adam Schiff okays. Duh! Will Adam Schiff allow exculpatory witnesses that embarrass Socialist Dems and help public discern truth? Schiff past partisan dishonesty suggests UNLIKELY!,’ Republican Congressman Mo Brooks tweeted.

But Democrats argued the resolution outlines the path forward.

‘The House impeachment inquiry has collected extensive evidence and testimony, and soon the American people will hear from witnesses in an open setting. The resolution introduced today in the House Rules Committee will provide that pathway forward,’ Schiff and his fellow committee chairs Eliot Engel, Carolyn Maloney and Jerry Nadler said in a statement.

‘The resolution provides rules for the format of open hearings in the House Intelligence Committee, including staff-led questioning of witnesses, and it authorizes the public release of deposition transcripts.

‘The resolution also establishes procedures for the transfer of evidence to the Judiciary Committee as it considers potential articles of impeachment, and it sets forth due process rights for the President and his Counsel in the Judiciary Committee proceedings,’ they said.

Impeachment in the United States

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Impeachment in the United States is the process by which a legislature (usually in the form of the lower house) brings charges against a civil officer of government for crimes alleged to have been committed, analogous to the bringing of an indictment by a grand jury. At the federal level, this is at the discretion of the House of Representatives. Most impeachments have concerned alleged crimes committed while in office, though there have been a few cases in which officials have been impeached and subsequently convicted for crimes committed prior to taking office.[1] The impeached official remains in office until a trial is held. That trial, and their removal from office if convicted, is separate from the act of impeachment itself. Analogous to a trial before a judge and jury, these proceedings are (where the legislature is bicameral) conducted by the upper house of the legislature, which at the federal level is the Senate.

Impeachment may occur at the federal level or the state level. The federal House can impeach federal officials, including the President, and each state‘s legislature can impeach state officials, including the governor, in accordance with their respective federal or state constitution.

Federal impeachment

Constitutional provisions

The House of Representatives … shall have the sole Power of Impeachment.

— Article I, Section 2, Clause 5

The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments. When sitting for that Purpose, they shall be on Oath or Affirmation. When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside: And no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two-thirds of the Members present.

Judgment in Cases of Impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from Office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States; but the Party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to Indictment, Trial, Judgment and Punishment, according to Law.

Article I, Section 3, Clauses 6 and 7

[The President] … shall have power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States, except in cases of impeachment.

Article II, Section 2

The PresidentVice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, TreasonBribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.

Article II, Section 4

Impeachable offenses: “Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors”

The Constitution limits grounds of impeachment to “Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors”.[2] The precise meaning of the phrase “high Crimes and Misdemeanors” is not defined in the Constitution itself.

The notion that only criminal conduct can constitute sufficient grounds for impeachment does not comport with either the views of the founders or with historical practice.[1] Alexander Hamilton, in Federalist 65, described impeachable offenses as arising from “the misconduct of public men, or in other words from the abuse or violation of some public trust.”[3] Such offenses were “political, as they relate chiefly to injuries done immediately to the society itself.”[3] According to this reasoning, impeachable conduct could include behavior that violates an official’s duty to the country, even if such conduct is not necessarily a prosecutable offense. Indeed, in the past both houses of Congress have given the phrase “high Crimes and Misdemeanors” a broad reading, finding that impeachable offenses need not be limited to criminal conduct.[4][1]

The purposes underlying the impeachment process also indicate that non-criminal activity may constitute sufficient grounds for impeachment.[1][5] The purpose of impeachment is not to inflict personal punishment for criminal activity. Instead, impeachment is a “remedial” tool; it serves to effectively “maintain constitutional government” by removing individuals unfit for office.[6][1] Grounds for impeachment include abuse of the particular powers of government office or a violation of the “public trust”—conduct that is unlikely to be barred via statute.[6][4][1]

In drawing up articles of impeachment, the House has placed little emphasis on criminal conduct.[1] Less than one-third of the articles that the House have adopted have explicitly charged the violation of a criminal statute or used the word “criminal” or “crime” to describe the conduct alleged.[1] Officials have been impeached and removed for drunkenness, biased decision-making, or inducing parties to enter financial transactions, none of which is specifically criminal.[1] Two of the articles against President Andrew Johnson were based on rude speech that reflected badly on the office: President Johnson had made “harangues” criticizing the Congress and questioning its legislative authority, refusing to follow laws, and diverting funds allocated in an army appropriations act, each of which brought the presidency “into contempt, ridicule, and disgrace”.[7] A number of individuals have been impeached for behavior incompatible with the nature of the office they hold.[1] Some impeachments have addressed, at least in part, conduct before the individuals assumed their positions: for example, Article IV against Judge Porteous related to false statements to the FBI and Senate in connection with his nomination and confirmation to the court.[1]

On the other hand, the Constitutional Convention rejected language that would have permitted impeachment for “maladministration,” with Madison arguing that “[s]o vague a term will be equivalent to a tenure during pleasure of the Senate.”[8]

Congressional materials have cautioned that the grounds for impeachment “do not all fit neatly and logically into categories” because the remedy of impeachment is intended to “reach a broad variety of conduct by officers that is both serious and incompatible with the duties of the office”.[6][1] Congress has identified three general types of conduct that constitute grounds for impeachment, although these categories should not be understood as exhaustive:

(1) improperly exceeding or abusing the powers of the office;
(2) behavior incompatible with the function and purpose of the office; and
(3) misusing the office for an improper purpose or for personal gain.[6][1]

Conversely, not all criminal conduct is impeachable: in 1974, the Judiciary Committee rejected an article of impeachment against President Nixon alleging that he committed tax fraud, primarily because that “related to the President’s private conduct, not to an abuse of his authority as President.”[1]

Several commentators have suggested that Congress alone may decide for itself what constitutes a “high Crime or Misdemeanor”, especially since the Supreme Court decided in Nixon v. United States that it did not have the authority to determine whether the Senate properly “tried” a defendant.[9] In 1970, then-House Minority Leader Gerald R. Ford defined the criterion as he saw it: “An impeachable offense is whatever a majority of the House of Representatives considers it to be at a given moment in history.”[10]

Of the 17 impeachments voted by the House:

  • No official has been charged with treason. (In 1797, Senator Blount was impeached for assisting Britain in capturing Spanish territory. In 1862, Judge Humphries was impeached and convicted for siding with the Confederacy and taking a position as a Confederate judge during the Civil War.)
  • Three officials have been charged with bribery. Of those, two proceeded to trial and were removed (Judge Archibald and Judge Hastings); the other resigned prior to trial (Secretary Belknap).
  • The remaining charges against all the other officials fall under the category of “high Crimes and Misdemeanors”.

The standard of proof required for impeachment and conviction is also left to the discretion of individual Representatives and Senators, respectively. Defendants have argued that impeachment trials are in the nature of criminal proceedings, with convictions carrying grave consequences for the accused, and that therefore proof beyond a reasonable doubt should be the applicable standard. House Managers have argued that a lower standard would be appropriate to better serve the purpose of defending the community against abuse of power, since the defendant does not risk forfeiture of life, liberty, or property, for which the reasonable doubt standard was set.[11]

Officers subject to impeachment: “civil officers of the United States”

The Constitution gives Congress the authority to impeach and remove “The President, Vice President, and all civil officers of the United States” upon a determination that such officers have engaged in treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors. The Constitution does not articulate who qualifies as a “civil officer of the United States”.[12]

Federal judges are subject to impeachment. In fact, 15 of 19 officers impeached, and all eight officers removed after Senate trial, have been judges. The most recent impeachment effort against a Supreme Court justice that resulted in a House of Representatives investigation was against Justice William O. Douglas. In 1970, Representative Gerald Ford, who was then House minority leader, called for the House to impeach Douglas. However, a House investigation led by Congressman Emanuel Celler (D-NY) determined that Ford’s allegations were baseless. According to Professor Joshua E. Kastenberg at the University of New Mexico, School of Law, Ford and Nixon sought to force Douglas off the Court in order to cement the “Southern Strategy” as well as to provide cover for the invasion of Cambodia. When their efforts failed, Douglas remained on the Court.[13]

Within the executive branch, any Presidentially appointed “principal officer,” including a head of an agency such as a Secretary, Administrator, or Commissioner, is a “civil officer of the United States” subject to impeachment.[1] At the opposite end of the spectrum, lesser functionaries, such as federal civil service employees, do not exercise “significant authority”, and are not appointed by the President or an agency head. These employees do not appear to be subject to impeachment, though that may be a matter of allocation of House floor debate time by the Speaker, rather than a matter of law.

The Senate has concluded that members of Congress (Representatives and Senators) are not “civil officers” for purposes of impeachment.[14] As a practical matter, expulsion is effected by the simpler procedures of Article I, Section 5, which provides “Each House shall be the Judge of the Elections, Returns and Qualifications of its own Members … Each House may determine the Rules of its Proceedings, punish its Members for disorderly Behaviour, and, with the Concurrence of two thirds, expel a Member.” (see List of United States senators expelled or censured and List of United States Representatives expelled, censured, or reprimanded). This allows each House to expel its own members without involving the other chamber. In 1797, the House of Representatives impeached Senator William Blount of Tennessee,[15] The Senate expelled Senator Blount under Article I, Section 5, on the same day. However, the impeachment proceeding remained pending (expulsion only removes the individual from office, but conviction after impeachment may also bar the individual from holding future office, so the question of further punishment remained to be decided). After four days of debate, the Senate concluded that a Senator is not a “civil officer of the United States” for purposes of the Impeachment clause, and dismissed for lack of jurisdiction.[14][16] The House has not impeached a Member of Congress since Blount.

Procedure

At the federal level, the impeachment process is a three-step procedure.

  • First, the Congress investigates. This investigation typically begins in the House Judiciary Committee, but may begin elsewhere. For example, the Nixon impeachment inquiry began in the Senate Judiciary Committee. The facts that led to impeachment of Bill Clintonwere first discovered in the course of an investigation by Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr.
  • Second, the House of Representatives must pass, by a simple majority of those present and voting, articles of impeachment, which constitute the formal allegation or allegations. Upon passage, the defendant has been “impeached”.
  • Third, the Senate tries the accused. In the case of the impeachment of a president, the Chief Justice of the United States presides over the proceedings. For the impeachment of any other official, the Constitution is silent on who shall preside, suggesting that this role falls to the Senate’s usual presiding officer, the President of the Senate who is also the Vice President of the United States. Conviction in the Senate requires a two-thirds supermajority vote of those present. The result of conviction is removal from office.

Rules

A number of rules have been adopted by the House and Senate, and are honored by tradition.

Jefferson’s Manual, which is integral to the Rules of the House of Representatives,[17] states that impeachment is set in motion by charges made on the floor, charges proffered by a memorial, a member’s resolution referred to a committee, a message from the president, or from facts developed and reported by an investigating committee of the House. It further states that a proposition to impeach is a question of high privilege in the House and at once supersedes business otherwise in order under the rules governing the order of business.

The House Practice: A Guide to the Rules, Precedents and Procedures of the House[18] is a reference source for information on the rules and selected precedents governing the House procedure, prepared by the House Parliamentarian. The manual has a chapter on the House’s rules, procedures, and precedent for impeachment.

In 1974, as part of the preliminary investigation in the Nixon impeachment inquiry, the staff of the Impeachment Inquiry of the House Judiciary Committee prepared a report, Constitutional Grounds for Presidential Impeachment.[6] The primary focus of the Report is the definition of the term “high Crimes and Misdemeanors” and the relationship to criminality, which the Report traces through history from English roots, through the debates at the 1787 Constitutional Convention, and the history of the impeachments before 1974.

The 1974 report has been expanded and revised on several occasions by the Congressional Research Service, and the current version Impeachment and Removal dates from October 2015.[1] While this document is only staff recommendation, as a practical matter, today it is probably the single most influential definition of “high Crimes and Misdemeanors.”

The Senate has formal Rules and Procedures of Practice in the Senate When Sitting on Impeachment Trials.[19]

Calls for impeachment, and Congressional power to investigate

While the actual impeachment of a federal public official is a rare event, demands for impeachment, especially of presidents, are common,[20] going back to the administration of George Washington in the mid-1790s.

While almost all of them were for the most part frivolous and were buried as soon as they were introduced, several did have their intended effect. Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon[21] and Supreme Court Justice Abe Fortas both resigned in response to the threat of impeachment hearings, and, most famously, President Richard Nixon resigned from office after the House Judiciary Committee had already reported articles of impeachment to the floor.

In advance of the formal resolution by the full House to authorize proceedings, committee chairmen have the same power for impeachment as for any other issue within the jurisdiction of the committee: to investigate, subpoena witnesses, and prepare a preliminary report of findings. For example:

Targets of congressional investigations have challenged the power of Congress to investigate before a formal resolution commences impeachment proceedings. For example, President Buchanan wrote to the committee investigating his administration:

I do, therefore, … solemnly protest against these proceedings of the House of Representatives, because they are in violation of the rights of the coordinate executive branch of the Government, and subversive of its constitutional independence; because they are calculated to foster a band of interested parasites and informers, ever ready, for their own advantage, to swear before ex parte committees to pretended private conversations between the President and themselves, incapable, from their nature, of being disproved; thus furnishing material for harassing him, degrading him in the eyes of the country [23]

He maintained that the House of Representatives possessed no general powers to investigate him, except when sitting as an impeaching body.

When the Supreme Court has considered similar issues, it held that the power to secure “needed information … has long been treated as an attribute of the power to legislate. … [The power to investigate is deeply rooted in the nation’s history:] It was so regarded in the British Parliament and in the colonial Legislatures before the American Revolution, and a like view has prevailed and been carried into effect in both houses of Congress and in most of the state Legislatures.”[24] The Supreme Court also held, “There can be no doubt as to the power of Congress, by itself or through its committees, to investigate matters and conditions relating to contemplated legislation.”[25]

The Supreme Court considered the power of the Congress to investigate, and to subpoena executive branch officials, in a pair of cases arising out of alleged corruption in the administration of President Warren G. Harding. In the first, McGrain v. Daugherty, the Court considered a subpoena issued to the brother of Attorney General Harry Daugherty for bank records relevant to the Senate’s investigation into the Department of Justice. Concluding that the subpoena was valid, the Court explained that Congress’s “power of inquiry … is an essential and appropriate auxiliary to the legislative function,” as “[a] legislative body cannot legislate wisely or effectively in the absence of information respecting the conditions which the legislation is intended to affect or change.” The Supreme Court held that it was irrelevant that the Senate’s authorizing resolution lacked an “avow[al] that legislative action was had in view” because, said the Court, “the subject to be investigated was … [p]lainly [a] subject … on which legislation could be had” and such legislation “would be materially aided by the information which the investigation was calculated to elicit.” Although “[a]n express avowal” of the Senate’s legislative objective “would have been better,” the Court admonished that “the presumption should be indulged that [legislation] was the real object.”[24]

Two years later, in Sinclair v. United States,[26] the Court considered investigation of private parties involved with officials under potential investigation for public corruption. In Sinclair, Harry Sinclair, the president of an oil company, appealed his conviction for refusing to answer a Senate committee’s questions regarding his company’s allegedly fraudulent lease on federal oil reserves at Teapot Dome in Wyoming. The Court, acknowledging individuals’ “right to be exempt from all unauthorized, arbitrary or unreasonable inquiries and disclosures in respect of their personal and private affairs,” nonetheless explained that because “[i]t was a matter of concern to the United States,” “the transaction purporting to lease to [Sinclair’s company] the lands within the reserve cannot be said to be merely or principally … personal.” The Court also dismissed the suggestion that the Senate was impermissibly conducting a criminal investigation. “It may be conceded that Congress is without authority to compel disclosures for the purpose of aiding the prosecution of pending suits,” explained the Court, “but the authority of that body, directly or through its committees, to require pertinent disclosures in aid of its own constitutional power is not abridged because the information sought to be elicited may also be of use in such suits.”

The Supreme Court reached similar conclusions in a number of other cases. In Barenblatt v. United States,[27] the Court permitted Congress to punish contempt, when a person refused to answer questions while testifying under subpoena by the House Committee on Un-American Activities. The Court explained that although “Congress may not constitutionally require an individual to disclose his … private affairs except in relation to” “a valid legislative purpose,” such a purpose was present. Congress’s “wide power to legislate in the field of Communist activity … and to conduct appropriate investigations in aid thereof[] is hardly debatable,” said the Court, and “[s]o long as Congress acts in pursuance of its constitutional power, the Judiciary lacks authority to intervene on the basis of the motives which spurred the exercise of that power.”

Presidents have often been the subjects of Congress’s legislative investigations. For example, in 1832, the House vested a select committee with subpoena power “to inquire whether an attempt was made by the late Secretary of War … [to] fraudulently [award] … a contract for supplying rations” to Native Americans and to “further … inquire whether the President … had any knowledge of such attempted fraud, and whether he disapproved or approved of the same.” In the 1990s, first the House and Senate Banking Committees and then a Senate special committee investigated President and Mrs. Clinton’s involvement in the Whitewater land deal and related matters. The Senate had an enabling resolution; the House did not.

The Supreme Court has also explained that Congress has not only the power, but the duty, to investigate so it can inform the public of the operations of government:

It is the proper duty of a representative body to look diligently into every affair of government and to talk much about what it sees. It is meant to be the eyes and the voice, and to embody the wisdom and will of its constituents. Unless Congress have and use every means of acquainting itself with the acts and the disposition of the administrative agents of the government, the country must be helpless to learn how it is being served; and unless Congress both scrutinize these things and sift them by every form of discussion, the country must remain in embarrassing, crippling ignorance of the very affairs which it is most important that it should understand and direct. The informing function of Congress should be preferred even to its legislative function.[28]

House of Representatives: Impeachment

Impeachment proceedings may be requested by a member of the House of Representatives on his or her own initiative, either by presenting a list of the charges under oath or by asking for referral to the appropriate committee. The impeachment process may be requested by non-members. For example, when the Judicial Conference of the United States suggests a federal judge be impeached, a charge of actions constituting grounds for impeachment may come from a special prosecutor, the President, or state or territorial legislaturegrand jury, or by petition. An impeachment proceeding formally begins with a resolution adopted by the full House of Representatives, which typically includes a referral to a House committee.

First day of The Judiciary Committee’s formal impeachment hearings against President Nixon, May 9, 1974

The type of impeachment resolution determines the committee to which it is referred. A resolution impeaching a particular individual is typically referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary. A resolution to authorize an investigation regarding impeachable conduct is referred to the House Committee on Rules, and then to the Judiciary Committee. The House Committee on the Judiciary, by majority vote, will determine whether grounds for impeachment exist (this vote is not law and is not required, US Constitution and US law). If the Committee finds grounds for impeachment, it will set forth specific allegations of misconduct in one or more articles of impeachment. The Impeachment Resolution, or Articles of Impeachment, are then reported to the full House with the committee’s recommendations.

The House debates the resolution and may at the conclusion consider the resolution as a whole or vote on each article of impeachment individually. A simple majority of those present and voting is required for each article for the resolution as a whole to pass. If the House votes to impeach, managers (typically referred to as “House managers”, with a “lead House manager”) are selected to present the case to the Senate. Recently, managers have been selected by resolution, while historically the House would occasionally elect the managers or pass a resolution allowing the appointment of managers at the discretion of the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives. These managers are roughly the equivalent of the prosecution or district attorney in a standard criminal trial. Also, the House will adopt a resolution in order to notify the Senate of its action. After receiving the notice, the Senate will adopt an order notifying the House that it is ready to receive the managers. The House managers then appear before the bar of the Senate and exhibit the articles of impeachment. After the reading of the charges, the managers return and make a verbal report to the House.

Senate: Trial

Depiction of the impeachment trial of President Andrew Johnson in 1868, Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase presiding.

The proceedings unfold in the form of a trial, with each side having the right to call witnesses and perform cross-examinations. The House members, who are given the collective title of managers during the course of the trial, present the prosecution case, and the impeached official has the right to mount a defense with his or her own attorneys as well. Senators must also take an oath or affirmation that they will perform their duties honestly and with due diligence. After hearing the charges, the Senate usually deliberates in private. The Constitution requires a two-thirds super majority to convict a person being impeached.[29] The Senate enters judgment on its decision, whether that be to convict or acquit, and a copy of the judgment is filed with the Secretary of State.[19] Upon conviction in the Senate, the official is automatically removed from office and may also be barred from holding future office. The trial is not an actual criminal proceeding and more closely resembles a civil service termination appeal in terms of the contemplated deprivation. Therefore, the removed official may still be liable to criminal prosecution under a subsequent criminal proceeding. The President may not grant a pardon in the impeachment case, but may in any resulting Federal criminal case.[30]

Beginning in the 1980s with Harry E. Claiborne, the Senate began using “Impeachment Trial Committees” pursuant to Senate Rule XI.[19] These committees presided over the evidentiary phase of the trials, hearing the evidence and supervising the examination and cross-examination of witnesses. The committees would then compile the evidentiary record and present it to the Senate; all senators would then have the opportunity to review the evidence before the chamber voted to convict or acquit. The purpose of the committees was to streamline impeachment trials, which otherwise would have taken up a great deal of the chamber’s time. Defendants challenged the use of these committees, claiming them to be a violation of their fair trial rights as this did not meet the constitutional requirement for their cases to be “tried by the Senate”. Several impeached judges, including District Court JudgeWalter Nixon, sought court intervention in their impeachment proceedings on these grounds. In Nixon v. United States (1993),[9] the Supreme Court determined that the federal judiciary could not review such proceedings, as matters related to impeachment trials are political questions and could not be resolved in the courts.[31]

In theory at least, as President of the Senate, the Vice President of the United States could preside over their own impeachment, although legal theories suggest that allowing a defendant to be the judge in their own case would be a blatant conflict of interest. If the Vice President did not preside over an impeachment (of anyone besides the President), the duties would fall to the President pro tempore of the Senate.

To convict an accused, “the concurrence of two thirds of the [Senators] present” for at least one article is required. If there is no single charge commanding a “guilty” vote of two-thirds majority of the senators present, the defendant is acquitted and no punishment is imposed.

Result of conviction: removal, and with an additional Senate vote, disqualification

Conviction immediately removes the defendant from office. Following conviction, the Senate may vote to further punish the individual by barring him or her from holding future federal office, elected or appointed. As the threshold for disqualification is not explicitly mentioned in the Constitution, the Senate has taken the position that disqualification votes only require a simple majority rather than a two-thirds majority. The Senate has used disqualification sparingly, as only three individuals have been disqualified from holding future office.[32]

Conviction does not extend to further punishment, for example, loss of pension. After conviction by the Senate, “the Party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to Indictment, Trial, Judgment and Punishment, according to Law” in the regular federal or state courts.

History of federal constitutional impeachment

In the United Kingdom, impeachment was a procedure whereby a member of the House of Commons could accuse someone of a crime. If the Commons voted for the impeachment, a trial would then be held in the House of Lords. Unlike a bill of attainder, a law declaring a person guilty of a crime, impeachments did not require royal assent, so they could be used to remove troublesome officers of the Crown even if the monarch was trying to protect them.

The monarch, however, was above the law and could not be impeached, or indeed judged guilty of any crime. When King Charles I was tried before the Rump Parliament of the New Model Army in 1649 he denied that they had any right to legally indict him, their king, whose power was given by God and the laws of the country, saying: “no earthly power can justly call me (who is your King) in question as a delinquent … no learned lawyer will affirm that an impeachment can lie against the King.” While the House of Commons pronounced him guilty and ordered his execution anyway, the jurisdictional issue tainted the proceedings.

With this example in mind, the delegates to the 1787 Constitutional Convention chose to include an impeachment procedure in Article II, Section 4 of the Constitution which could be applied to any government official; they explicitly mentioned the President to ensure there would be no ambiguity. Opinions differed, however, as to the reasons Congress should be able to initiate an impeachment. Initial drafts listed only treason and bribery, but George Mason favored impeachment for “maladministration” (incompetence). James Madisonargued that impeachment should only be for criminal behavior, arguing that a maladministration standard would effectively mean that the President would serve at the pleasure of the Senate.[33] Thus the delegates adopted a compromise version allowing impeachment for “treason, bribery and other high crimes and misdemeanors”.

Formal federal impeachment investigations and results

The House of Representatives has initiated impeachment proceedings 62 times since 1789.[citation needed]

The House has impeached 19 federal officers. Of these:

Of the 19 impeachments by the House, two cases did not come to trial because the individuals had left office, seven were acquitted, and eight officials were convicted, all of whom were judges.[35][36] One, former judge Alcee Hastings, was elected as a member of the United States House of Representatives after being removed from office.

Additionally, an impeachment process against Richard Nixon was commenced, but not completed, as he resigned from office before the full House voted on the articles of impeachment.[31] To date, no president has been removed from office by impeachment and conviction.

The following table lists federal officials for whom impeachment proceedings were instituted and referred to a committee of the House of Representatives. Numbered lines of the table reflect officials impeached by a majority vote of the House. Unnumbered lines are those officials for whom an impeachment proceeding was formally instituted, but ended when (a) the Committee did not vote to recommend impeachment, (b) the Committee recommended impeachment but the vote in the full House failed, or (c) the official resigned or died before the full House vote.

# Date of Impeachment or Investigation Accused Office Accusations Result[Note 1]
1 July 7, 1797 William-blount-wb-cooper.jpg William Blount United States Senator(Tennessee) Conspiring to assist Britain in capturing Spanish territory Senate refused to accept impeachment of a Senator by the House of Representatives, instead expelling him from the Senate on their own authority[37][Note 2][38]
2 March 2, 1803 John Pickering Judge (District of New Hampshire) Drunkenness and unlawful rulings Convicted; removed on March 12, 1804[37][39][38][39]
3 March 12, 1804 Samuel Chase (bust crop).jpg Samuel Chase Associate Justice (Supreme Court of the United States) Political bias and arbitrary rulings, promoting a partisan political agenda on the bench[40] Acquitted on March 1, 1805[37][39]
4 April 24, 1830 JamesHPeck.jpg James H. Peck Judge (District of Missouri) Abuse of power[41] Acquitted on January 31, 1831[37][39][38][39]
March to June 1860 James Buchanan.jpg James Buchanan President of the United States Corruption The Covode committee was established March 5, 1860, and submitted its final report on June 16, 1860. The committee found that Buchanan had not done anything to warrant impeachment, but that his was the most corrupt administration since the adoption of the US Constitution in 1789.[42][43]
5 May 6, 1862 West Hughes Humphreys.jpg West Hughes Humphreys Judge (EasternMiddle, and Western Districts of Tennessee) Supporting the Confederacy Convicted; removed and disqualified on June 26, 1862[38][37][39] [38][39]
6 February 24, 1868 President Andrew Johnson.jpg Andrew Johnson President of the United States Violating the Tenure of Office Act. The Supreme Court would later state in dicta that the (by then repealed) Tenure of Office Act had been unconstitutional.[44] Acquitted on May 26, 1868, 35–19 in favor of conviction, falling one vote short of two-thirds.[37][38]
7 February 28, 1873 Mark W. Delahay.jpg Mark W. Delahay Judge (District of Kansas) Drunkenness Resigned on December 12, 1873[39][45][39][45]
8 March 2, 1876 WWBelknap.jpg William W. Belknap United States Secretary of War(resigned after impeachment and before trial) Graft, corruption Acquitted after his resignation on August 1, 1876[37][38]
9 December 13, 1904 Charles Swayne Judge (Northern District of Florida) Failure to live in his district, abuse of power[46] Acquitted on February 27, 1905[37][39][38][39]
10 July 11, 1912 Robert W. Archbald cph.3a03594 (bust crop).jpg Robert Wodrow Archbald Associate Justice (United States Commerce Court)
Judge (Third Circuit Court of Appeals)
Improper acceptance of gifts from litigants and attorneys Convicted; removed and disqualified on January 13, 1913[38][37][39][38][39]
11 April 1, 1926 George W. English cph.3a03600.jpg George W. English Judge (Eastern District of Illinois) Abuse of power Resigned on November 4, 1926,[38][37] proceedings dismissed on December 13, 1926[38][39][38][39]
12 February 24, 1933 Harold Louderback Judge (Northern District of California) Corruption Acquitted on May 24, 1933[37][39][38][39]
13 March 2, 1936 Halsted Ritter (US federal judge).jpg Halsted L. Ritter Judge (Southern District of Florida) Champerty, corruption, tax evasion, practicing law while a judge Convicted; removed on April 17, 1936[37][39][38][39]
1953 Justice William O Douglas.jpg William O. Douglas Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court Brief stay of execution for Julius and Ethel Rosenberg Referred to Judiciary Committee (Jun. 18, 1953); committee voted to end the investigation (Jul 7, 1953).
1970 Justice William O Douglas.jpg William O. Douglas Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court Failure to recuse on obscenity cases while at the same time having articles published in Evergreen Review and Avant-Garde magazines; conflict of paid board positions with two non-profits Referred to a special subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee (Apr. 21, 1970); subcommittee voted to end the investigation (Dec. 3, 1970).
proceedings aborted before impeachment vote, January to August 1974 Richard Nixon presidential portrait.jpg Richard Nixon President of the United States Obstruction of justice, Abuse of Power, Contempt of Congress House Judiciary Committee begins investigating and issuing subpoenas (Oct. 30, 1973); House Judiciary Report on committee investigation (Feb. 1, 1974);[47] House resolution 93-803 authorizes Judiciary Committee investigation (Feb. 6, 1974);[48] House Judiciary Committee votes three articles of impeachment to House floor (July 27–30, 1974);[49] proceedings terminated by resignation of President Nixon (August 8, 1974).
14 July 22, 1986 Harry Claiborne (bust crop).jpg Harry E. Claiborne Judge (District of Nevada) Tax evasion Removed on October 9, 1986[37][39][38][39]
15 August 3, 1988 Alcee Hastings Portrait c111-112th Congress.jpg Alcee Hastings Judge (Southern District of Florida) Accepting a bribe, and committing perjury during the resulting investigation Removed on October 20, 1989[37][39][38][39]
16 May 10, 1989 Walter Nixon (bust crop).jpg Walter Nixon Chief Judge (Southern District of Mississippi) Perjury Removed on November 3, 1989[37][39][Note 3][38][39]
17 December 19, 1998 Bill Clinton.jpg Bill Clinton President of the United States Perjury and obstruction of justice[50] Acquitted on February 12, 1999: 45–55 on obstruction of justice and 50–50 on perjury[37][51]
18 June 19, 2009 KentSamuel.jpg Samuel B. Kent Judge (Southern District of Texas) Sexual assault, and obstruction of justice during the resulting investigation Resigned on June 30, 2009,[39][52] proceedings dismissed on July 22, 2009[37][39][53][39][54]
19 March 11, 2010 PorteousThomasG.jpg Thomas Porteous Judge (Eastern District of Louisiana) Making false financial disclosures, corruption. Convicted, removed and disqualified on December 8, 2010[37][39][55][39][56]
September 24, 2019 President Donald J. Trump September 2019.jpg Donald Trump President of the United States Enlisting the assistance of foreign governments with re-election Financial Servicesthe JudiciaryIntelligenceForeign AffairsOversight and Reform, and Ways and Meanscommittees undertaking an impeachment inquiry beginning on September 24, 2019. The inquiry is presently ongoing.

There have been unsuccessful attempts to initiate impeachment proceedings against John TylerRichard NixonGeorge W. Bush and Barack Obama.

One notable impeachment attempt that never reached the point of House resolution was an attempt to impeach Associate Justice William O. Douglas by then-House Minority Leader Gerald R. Ford. The Legislative Reference Service of the Library of Congress prepared a report as part of Ford’s vetting for confirmation as Vice President in 1973.[22]

President Bill Clinton, a Democrat, was impeached on December 19, 1998, by the House of Representatives on articles charging perjury (specifically, lying to a federal grand jury) by a 228–206 vote and obstruction of justice by a 221–212 vote. The House rejected other articles: one was a count of perjury in a civil deposition in Paula Jones‘ sexual harassment lawsuit against Clinton (by a 205–229 vote); the second accused Clinton of abuse of power (by a 148–285 vote). President Clinton was acquitted by the Senate. The votes in the Senate to remove him from office did not even reach a majority, let alone two-thirds: 45–55 on obstruction of justice and 50–50 on perjury.

Impeachment in the states

State legislatures can impeach state officials, including governors, in every State except Oregon. The court for the trial of impeachments may differ somewhat from the federal model—in New York, for instance, the Assembly (lower house) impeaches, and the State Senate tries the case, but the members of the seven-judge New York State Court of Appeals (the state’s highest, constitutional court) sit with the senators as jurors as well.[57] Impeachment and removal of governors has happened occasionally throughout the history of the United States, usually for corruption charges. A total of at least eleven U.S. state governors have faced an impeachment trial; a twelfth, Governor Lee Cruce of Oklahoma, escaped impeachment conviction by a single vote in 1912. Several others, most recently Missouri‘s Eric Greitens, have resigned rather than face impeachment, when events seemed to make it inevitable.[58] The most recent impeachment of a state governor occurred on January 14, 2009, when the Illinois House of Representatives voted 117–1 to impeach Rod Blagojevichon corruption charges;[59] he was subsequently removed from office and barred from holding future office by the Illinois Senate on January 29. He was the eighth U.S. state governor to be removed from office.

The procedure for impeachment, or removal, of local officials varies widely. For instance, in New York a mayor is removed directly by the governor “upon being heard” on charges—the law makes no further specification of what charges are necessary or what the governor must find in order to remove a mayor.

In 2018, the entire Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia was impeached, something that has been often threatened, but had never happened before.

State and territorial officials impeached

Date Accused Office Result
1804 William W. Irvin.jpg William W. Irvin Associate JudgeFairfield County, Ohio,Court of Common Pleas Removed
1832 Theophilus W. Smith.jpg Theophilus W. Smith Associate JusticeIllinois Supreme Court Acquitted[60]
February 26, 1862 CRobinson.jpg Charles L. Robinson Governor of Kansas Acquitted[61]
John Winter Robinson Secretary of State of Kansas Removed on June 12, 1862[62]
George S. Hillyer State auditor of Kansas Removed on June 16, 1862[62]
1871 NCG-WilliamHolden.jpg William Woods Holden Governor of North Carolina Removed
1871 Hon. David Butler. Governor Nebraska - NARA - 528665.jpg David Butler Governor of Nebraska Removed[61]
February 1872 Governor Harrison Reed of Florida.jpg Harrison Reed Governor of Florida Acquitted[63]
March 1872 Thirty years of New York politics up-to-date (1889) (14592180978).jpg George G. Barnard New York Supreme Court (1st District) Removed
1872 H C Warmoth 1870s W Kurtz.jpg Henry C. Warmoth Governor of Louisiana “Suspended from office,” though trial was not held[64]
1876 Gen. Adelbert Ames - NARA - 527085.jpg Adelbert Ames Governor of Mississippi Resigned[61]
1888 Honest Dick Tate.png James W. Tate Kentucky State Treasurer Removed
1901 David M. Furches Chief JusticeNorth Carolina Supreme Court Acquitted[65]
Robert M. Douglas Associate JusticeNorth Carolina Supreme Court Acquitted[65]
August 13, 1913[66] William Sulzer NY.jpg William Sulzer Governor of New York Removed on October 17, 1913[67]
July 1917 James E. Ferguson.jpg James E. Ferguson Governor of Texas Removed[68]
October 23, 1923 Jack Walton.jpg John C. Walton Governor of Oklahoma Removed
January 21, 1929 Henry S. Johnston Governor of Oklahoma Removed
April 6, 1929[69] HueyPLongGesture.jpg Huey P. Long Governor of Louisiana Acquitted
June 13, 1941 Daniel H. Coakley Massachusetts Governor’s Councilor Removed on October 2, 1941
May 1958[70] Raulston Schoolfield Judge, Hamilton County, TennesseeCriminal Court Removed on July 11, 1958[71]
March 14, 1984[72] Paul L. Douglas Nebraska Attorney General Acquitted by the Nebraska Supreme Court on May 4, 1984[73]
February 6, 1988[74] Evan Mecham Governor of Arizona Removed on April 4, 1988[75]
March 30, 1989[76] A. James Manchin State treasurer of West Virginia Resigned on July 9, 1989 before trial started[77]
January 25, 1991[78] Ward “Butch” Burnette Kentucky Commissioner of Agriculture Resigned on February 6, 1991 before trial started[79]
May 24, 1994[80] Rolf Larsen Associate JusticePennsylvania Supreme Court Removed on October 4, 1994, and declared ineligible to hold public office in Pennsylvania[81]
October 6, 1994[82] Judith Moriarty Secretary of State of Missouri Removed by the Missouri Supreme Court on December 12, 1994[83]
November 11, 2004[84] Kathy Augustine Nevada State Controller Censured on December 4, 2004, not removed from office[85]
April 11, 2006[86] David Hergert Member of the University of NebraskaBoard of Regents Removed by the Nebraska Supreme Court on July 7, 2006[87]
January 8, 2009
(first vote)[88]
Rod Blagojevich (2911120436) (cropped).jpg Rod Blagojevich Governor of Illinois 95th General Assembly ended
January 14, 2009
(second vote)[89]
Removed on January 29, 2009, and declared ineligible to hold public office in Illinois[90]
February 11, 2013[91] Benigno Fitial 2009.jpg Benigno Fitial Governor of the Northern Mariana Islands Resigned on February 20, 2013
August 13, 2018[92] Robin Davis Associate Justices, Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia Retired on August 13, 2018.[93] Despite her retirement, the West Virginia Senate refused to dismiss the articles of impeachment and scheduled trial for October 29, 2018 although the trial is currently delayed by court order.[94]
Allen Loughry Resigned on November 12, 2018.[95][96] Possible trial before the West Virginia Senate delayed by court order.[94]
Beth Walker Reprimanded and censured on October 2, 2018, not removed from office.[97]
Margaret Workman Chief Justice, Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia Trial before the West Virginia Senate delayed by court order after originally being scheduled for October 15, 2018.[98][99]
July 24, 2019[100] Ricardo Rossello (cropped).jpg Ricardo Rossello Governor of Puerto Rico Resigned on July 24, 2019; with effect August 2, 2019, immediately stopping impeachment proceedings

State governors

At least four state governors have been impeached and removed from office:

See also

Notes

  • Stephen B. Presser, Essays on Article I: ImpeachmentPresser, Stephen B. “Essays on Article I: Impeachment”The Heritage Guide to the Constitution. Heritage Foundation. Retrieved June 14, 2018.
  1. ^ “Removed and disqualified” indicates that following conviction the Senate voted to disqualify the individual from holding further federal office pursuant to Article I, Section 3 of the United States Constitution, which provides, in pertinent part, that “[j]udgment in cases of impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust or profit under the United States.”
  2. ^ During the impeachment trial of Senator Blount, it was argued that the House of Representatives did not have the power to impeach members of either House of Congress; though the Senate never explicitly ruled on this argument, the House has never again impeached a member of Congress. The Constitution allows either House to expel one of its members by a two-thirds vote, which the Senate had done to Blount on the same day the House impeached him (but before the Senate heard the case).
  3. ^ Judge Nixon later challenged the validity of his removal from office on procedural grounds; the challenge was ultimately rejected as nonjusticiable by the Supreme Court in Nixon v. United States.

References…

Further reading

External links

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Impeachment_in_the_United_States

 

Story 2: Big Lie Media Spinning and Lying About Tim Morrison Testimony About Trump Phone Call With Ukraine — Nothing Illegal Was Discussed and No Quid Pro Quo — Videos —

 See the source image

See the source image

See the source image

 

Impeachment witness says Trump-Ukraine call wasn’t illegal

Hannity: Latest testimony blows whistleblower claim out of the water

PBS NewsHour West live episode October 31, 2019

Ingraham: The Democrats’ witching hour

Ingraham: Deep state’s coordinated effort to take down Trump

Ingraham: Durham’s criminal probe has a lot of folks nervous

Ingraham: Desperate Democrats go to Defcon 1

Brit Hume: If the impeachment inquiry is perceived as unfair then House Democrats have a problem

 

 Official Tim Morrison To Schiff: ‘I Was Not Concerned That Anything Illegal Was Discussed’ In Trump-Ukraine Phone Call

Tim Morrison, a former National Security Council official under Trump, told Rep. Adam Schiff in testimony today that he was never concerned that Trump discussed anything illegal in his July 25 phone call with the Ukrainain president.

A top National Security Council (NSC) official who listened to President Donald Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelensky testified to Congress today that he did not believe Trump had discussed anything illegal during the conversation.

“I want to be clear, I was not concerned that anything illegal was discussed,” former NSC Senior Director for European Affairs Tim Morrison testified today, according to a record of his remarks obtained by The Federalist.

Morrison testified that Ukrainian officials were not even aware that certain military funding had been delayed by the Trump administration until late August 2019, more than a month after the Trump-Zelensky call, casting doubt on allegations that Trump somehow conveyed an illegal quid pro quo demand during the July 25 call.

“I have no reason to believe the Ukrainians had any knowledge of the [military funding] review until August 28, 2019,” Morrison said. That is the same day that Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., the chief anti-Trump inquisitor in the U.S. House of Representatives, disclosed on Twitter that funding had been held up. Politico also published a story that day, sourced to anonymous leaks, that military funding had been temporarily held up.

Although Schiff claimed that neither he nor his staff ever spoke to the anti-Trump whistleblower, The New York Times reported that the complainant, whom RealClearInvestigations identified as Eric Ciaramella, coordinated with Schiff’s office before filing his complaint with the intelligence community inspector general on August 12. While Schiff initially demanded that the anti-Trump complainant be allowed to publicly testify, he quickly changed course following the reports that he and his staff had secretly colluded with the whistleblower and then lied about the interactions.

Morrison also pointed out key factual inaccuracies in testimony provided by William Taylor, a State Department official who works in the U.S. embassy in Kiev, Ukraine. Morrison said that, contrary to Taylor’s claims, Morrison never met with the Ukrainian National Security advisor in his private hotel room.

Morrison also said Taylor falsely claimed that Ambassador Gordon Sondland demanded a public statement from the Ukrainian president committing to investigate Burisma, a controversial Ukrainain energy company that paid Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s son Hunter millions of dollars to sit on its board.

“My recollection is that Ambassador Sondland’s proposal to [Ukrainian National Security Advisor Andriy] Yermak was that it could be sufficient if the new Ukrainian prosecutor general — not President Zelensky — would commit to pursue the Burisma investigation,” Morrison testified.

Morrison testified that the transcript of the phone call that was declassified and released by Trump in late September “accurately and completely reflects the substance of the call,” and that he was concerned that the substance of the call would be leaked to the media. Morrison said he immediately informed a NSC lawyer about his concerns that the phone call would be leaked. Democrats have alleged that security measures taken to prevent leaks of the top secret call transcript prove that Trump should be removed from office.

He also told lawmakers that the national security process worked as designed in the case of the military funding that Congress appropriated for Ukraine.

“I am pleased our process gave the president the confidence he needed to approve the release of the security sector assistance,” he said. “I am proud of what I have been able, in some small way, to help the Trump administration accomplish.”

Democrats on Thursday morning voted to rubber-stamp Schiff’s efforts to impeach Trump with secret hearings and lopsided rules that prevent Republicans from subpoenaing witnesses or evidence without first obtaining Schiff’s permisison. A bipartisan coalition of Democrats and Republicans opposed the measure.

Sean Davis is the co-founder of The Federalist.

Big Lie Media Is Lying About What Morrison Testified To

Hannity: Latest testimony blows whistleblower claim out of the water

Tim Morrison arrives to testify as part of the House impeachment inquiry. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP) (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP)
Tim Morrison arrives to testify as part of the House impeachment inquiry. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP) (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP)
Oct. 31, 2019 at 3:33 p.m. CDT

Tim Morrison, the former White House national security adviser who engaged in multiple crucial conversations with Ambassador William B. Taylor Jr. about the quid pro quo that withheld military aid to try to leverage Ukraine into doing President Trump’s political bidding, has been testifying in the impeachment inquiry.

Here’s the most important part of Morrison’s opening statement:

In preparation for my appearance today, I reviewed the statement Ambassador Taylor provided this inquiry on October 22, 2019. I can confirm that the substance of his statement, as it relates to conversations he and I had, is accurate.
My recollections differ on two of the details, however. I have a slightly different recollection of my September 1, 2019 conversation with Ambassador [Gordon] Sondland. On page 10 of Ambassador Taylor’s statement, he recounts a conversation I relayed to him regarding Ambassador Sondland’s conversation with Ukrainian Presidential Advisor [Andriy] Yermak. Ambassador Taylor wrote: “Ambassador Sondland told Mr. Yermak that security assistance money would not come until President [Volodymyr] Zelensky committed to pursue the Burisma investigation.”
My recollection is that Ambassador Sondland’s proposal to Mr. Yermak was that it could be sufficient if the new Ukrainian prosecutor general — not President Zelensky — would commit to pursue the Burisma investigation.
I also would like to clarify that I did not meet with the Ukrainian National Security Advisor in his hotel room, as Ambassador Taylor indicated on page 11 of his statement. Instead, an NSC aide and I met with Mr. [Oleksandr] Danyliuk in the hotel’s business center.

Pro-Trump Twitter is trying to spin the minor discrepancies between the two accounts into something big, but that’s just absurd. In one case, the difference is over where Morrison met with a Ukrainian official. In the other, the difference is over who would announce the investigation into Burisma, the company on whose board Joe Biden’s son Hunter sat, as part of the quid pro quo.

But what is not in dispute is that the quid pro quo was articulated plainly and clearly. Let me isolate out the part of Morrison’s testimony where he says this explicitly:

AD
Ambassador Taylor wrote: “Ambassador Sondland told Mr. Yermak that security assistance money would not come until President Zelensky committed to pursue the Burisma investigation.”
My recollection is that Ambassador Sondland’s proposal to Mr. Yermak was that it could be sufficient if the new Ukrainian prosecutor general — not President Zelensky — would commit to pursue the Burisma investigation.

Thus, Morrison is saying that Sondland — the ambassador to the European Union who was a leading agent in this whole plot — did indeed tell him that the military aid was conditional on the Ukrainians committing to the Burisma investigation.

Sondland simply proposed a version of this that might be more amenable to the Ukrainians, since it wouldn’t require Zelensky himself to announce it. Thus it is that Morrison says the “substance” of Taylor’s testimony about their conversations was “accurate.”

Importantly, this account comes from someone who discussed these matters directly with Sondland.

Morrison confirms the quid pro quo elsewhere as well:

I had no reason to believe that the release of the security sector assistance might be conditioned on a public statement reopening the Burisma investigation until my September 1, 2019 conversation with Ambassador Sondland. Even then I hoped that Ambassador Sondland’s strategy was exclusively his own and would not be considered by leaders in the Administration and Congress.

After talking to Sondland, Morrison understood that the money was conditioned just that way. And in this context, it’s important to note that Morrison’s hope that this didn’t represent the views of the administration was in vain: You will recall that Sondland was taking his direction straight from the president.

AD

Some have pointed out that Morrison claims he didn’t see anything illegal on Trump’s July 25 call with the Ukrainian president. But so what? That’s not his decision, and the question of the conduct’s legality is not even necessarily relevant to an impeachment context. What’s more, the list of people who actually were deeply alarmed by the conduct is already very long.

They really wanted a public statement

One other point: It’s important to underscore that Trump and his lawyer Rudolph Giuliani didn’t just want an investigation of Biden. They wanted a public announcement of it, to get news organizations to start treating the allegations seriously and help them create an aura of vague corruption around Biden.

This is Trumpworld’s M.O. As Stephen K. Bannon revealed to journalist Joshua Green, the key to this is to vault such charges, no matter how spurious, out of the conservative media, in order to get them merely covered in the mainstream press, to “weaponize” them, as Bannon put it. This helps create what Green described as the “whiff of corruption.”

AD

As those texts show, there were extensive negotiations with the Ukrainians over what that public statement might look like, precisely because Giuliani, acting as Trump’s consigliere, cared about it so much. Thus it might be expected that Sondland and the Ukrainians would haggle over who made the statement, as Sondland tried (but ultimately failed) to get them to do it.

In this sense, Morrison has helped underscore another important part of the story here.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/10/31/tim-morrison-just-confirmed-quid-pro-quo-thats-big-story-here/

White House Aide Confirms He Saw Signs of a Quid Pro Quo on Ukraine

Timothy Morrison, a National Security Council aide, said a top diplomat close to President Trump suggested a military aid package for Ukraine was conditioned on investigations into his political rivals.

Timothy Morrison, a top Russia and Europe expert on the National Security Council, arriving Thursday on Capitol Hill.
Credit…Anna Moneymaker/The New York Times

WASHINGTON — A senior National Security Council aide on Thursday confirmed a key episode at the center of the impeachment inquiry, testifying that a top diplomat working with President Trump told him that a package of military assistance for Ukraine would not be released until the country committed to investigations the president sought.

In a closed-door deposition, the aide, Timothy Morrison, also said he had been told of a September call between Mr. Trump and the diplomat, Gordon D. Sondland. In that conversation, the president said he was not looking for a quid pro quo with Ukraine, but then went on to “insist” that the country’s president publicly announce investigations into Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his son and other Democrats.

William B. Taylor Jr., the top American diplomat in Ukraine, spoke of his alarm about the conversations during his private testimony last week, saying that he had been briefed about them by Mr. Morrison, the senior director for Europe and Russia for the National Security Council. Mr. Sondland, the ambassador to the European Union, has also given investigators a more limited account of his call with Mr. Trump.

Mr. Morrison’s confirmation of the conversations could be important for House Democrats as they seek to build their impeachment case against Mr. Trump. A publicly available, reconstructed transcript already shows that Mr. Trump pressed President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine during a July 25 phone call to undertake the investigations of Democrats. Investigators are trying to establish whether Mr. Trump used $391 million in security aid and a coveted White House meeting with Mr. Zelensky as leverage in a pressure campaign to secure the inquiries.

But Mr. Morrison, a Trump political appointee and a former longtime Republican congressional aide, resisted making the kind of sweeping, often damaging judgments about what was taking place that Democrats have heard from other witnesses, and Republicans emerged calling him the most favorable witness they had heard from so far.

In his opening remarks, obtained by The New York Times, he did not draw conclusions about Mr. Trump’s involvement in the pressure tactics, pointing back repeatedly to Mr. Sondland, whose involvement in Ukraine policy he said he “did not understand.” In subsequent testimony, he said he did not view the July phone call between Mr. Trump and Mr. Zelensky as illegal or improper, but he found it striking enough to ask the National Security Council’s chief lawyer, John Eisenberg, to review it, in part out of a concern that a summary might leak out.

He did so, Mr. Morrison testified, because he worried about how disclosure of what was said in the call “would play out in Washington’s polarized environment,” how it could affect bipartisan backing for Ukraine in Congress, and “how it would affect the Ukrainian perceptions of the U.S.-Ukraine relationship.”

Rather than ascribe a political motive to the pressure campaign against Ukraine, as some witnesses have, Mr. Morrison characterized the behavior he saw as bad foreign policy of the sort that could potentially squander a “once-in-a-generation opportunity” afforded by the election of Mr. Zelensky, who campaigned as a reformer who would crack down on rampant corruption.

“Ambassador Taylor and I had no reason to believe that the public release of the security sector assistance might be conditioned on a public statement reopening the Burisma investigation until my Sept. 1, 2019, conversation with Ambassador Sondland,” Mr. Morrison said. “Even then I hoped that Ambassador Sondland’s strategy was exclusively his own and would not be considered by the leaders of the administration and Congress, who understood the strategic importance of Ukraine to our national security.”

Mr. Morrison’s testimony came as Democrats were moving to wrap up their closed portion of their inquiry in the coming week or so. As he met with investigators, they muscled through a resolution on the floor of the House endorsing the inquiry and laying out a path to move their work into the open and begin a debate over impeachment articles in the coming weeks. Republicans uniformly opposed the measure, which they said fell short of redeeming an illegitimate, politically motivated crusade by Democrats to undo the 2016 election.

What’s New in the Impeachment Case

Updated Oct. 31, 2019


    • The House voted 232-196 to endorse the Democratic-led impeachment inquiry into President Trump. The resolution sets out rules for the investigation, which will soon go public with hearings and the publication of documents.
    • Only two Democrats broke with their party to vote against the measure, a sign of how unified the caucus is on impeachment — and how much confidence it has in the evidence of Mr. Trump’s dealings with Ukraine. “This is not any cause for any glee or comfort,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi said. “What is at stake in all of this is nothing less than our democracy.”
    • Republicans, who for weeks had called for a vote, unanimously opposed the resolution, accusing it of attempting to undo the 2016 election. “Democrats are trying to impeach the president because they are scared they cannot defeat him at the ballot box,” Representative Kevin McCarthy, the House minority leader, said. “Why do you not trust the people?”
    • In closed-door testimony today, a National Security Council aide corroborated a key fact when he confirmed that Gordon Sondland, the ambassador to the European Union, said that a package of military assistance for Ukraine would not be released until the country committed to investigating the Bidens.
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Mr. Morrison appeared under subpoena despite a White House directive not to, according to an official involved in the inquiry who was not authorized to discuss it publicly. He told colleagues Wednesday on the eve of his appearance before impeachment investigators that he would leave his post.

Mr. Morrison has been weighing leaving the council for some time. He told investigators that he did “not want anyone to think there is a connection between my testimony today and my impending departure.”

He was the second White House official to testify before the inquiry this week, following Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman, a Ukraine expert at the National Security Council.

Mr. Taylor testified last week that Mr. Morrison had informed him in early September of a meeting in Warsaw between Mr. Sondland and a top aide to Mr. Zelensky. Mr. Sondland told the Ukrainian aide that the United States would provide the security assistance package only if Mr. Zelensky committed to investigate allegations related to Mr. Biden and his son Hunter, who sat on the board of Burisma, a Ukrainian energy company.

Mr. Sondland claimed in testimony that he failed to appreciate that Burisma was directly tied to Hunter Biden.

Mr. Morrison did depart in one respect from that account, telling investigators that he remembered Mr. Sondland’s remarks slightly differently. He thought Mr. Sondland said Ukraine’s prosecutor general, not Mr. Zelensky, needed to open the inquiry.

Mr. Taylor also testified that, a few days later, Mr. Morrison told him that he had learned of a conversation between Mr. Sondland and Mr. Trump that Mr. Morrison had said gave him a “sinking feeling.” In it, Mr. Trump had told Mr. Sondland that he was not asking for a “quid pro quo” from Ukraine, but then went on to “insist” that Mr. Zelensky publicly announce an investigation into both the Bidens and an unproven theory that Democrats had colluded with Ukraine in the 2016 elections.

Subpoenas and Requests for Evidence in the Trump Impeachment Inquiry

The status of the documents and witness testimony being collected by congressional investigators.

Mr. Morrison told investigators that he first learned that Mr. Trump and people around him might have motives beyond official United States policy when he took over as senior director for Europe and Russia on the National Security Council from his predecessor, Fiona Hill.

“Dr. Hill told me that Ambassador Sondland and President Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, were trying to get President Zelensky to reopen Ukrainian investigations into Burisma,” he said. “At the time, I did not know what Burisma was or what the investigation entailed.”

He said he later worked to persuade Mr. Trump to release the security aid. Mr. Trump froze the aid in July and kept it that way until September, despite the objections of officials at the Defense and State Departments who viewed it as a crucial resource to help Ukraine in its military conflict with Russia.

“Ambassador Taylor and I were concerned that the longer the money was withheld, the more questions the Zelensky administration would ask about the U.S. commitment to Ukraine,” Mr. Morrison said.

Mr. Morrison said he did not have reason to believe Ukraine’s leaders knew the aid had been suspended until it was publicly reported at the end of August.

thttps://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/31/us/politics/morrison-testimony-impeachment.html

New Poll Highlights Risks for Democrats

Byron York

There’s no doubt Democrats in Washington are hell-bent on impeaching President Trump over the Ukraine matter. But after weeks of polling, it is still unclear precisely what Americans outside the Beltway think.

Much depends on how pollsters ask their questions. Some are straightforward, while others are a bit more complicated. But in the last few weeks, many have asked a variation of: “Do you support or oppose impeaching President Trump?” A new poll, however, done by Suffolk University for USA Today, gets at some of the nuance behind public opinion on the president and Ukraine.

The Suffolk pollsters gave 1,000 registered voters an opportunity to choose among three options regarding impeachment. Which did respondents personally prefer?

“B. The House should continue investigating Trump, but not vote to impeach him.

“C. Congress should drop its investigations into President Trump and administration.”

Thirty-six percent of those polled said the House should vote to impeach; 22 percent said the House should continue investigation but not impeach; and 37 percent said the House should drop its investigations. The last 5 percent did not have an answer or refused to give one.

Looking inside the results, there are some major differences based on party, gender, race and more.

Seventy percent of Democrats said the House should vote to impeach, while just 8 percent of Republicans and 22 percent of independents favored an impeachment vote.

Twenty-one percent of Democrats favored more investigation but not impeachment, while 15 percent of Republicans and 34 percent of independents agreed.

And just 8 percent of Democrats favored dropping the House investigations altogether, while 71 percent of Republicans and 36 percent of independents favored the no-more-investigations option.

Forty-one percent of women supported a House vote to impeach, while just 31 percent of men did. Forty-two percent of men wanted to see the investigation dropped entirely, versus 32 percent of women.

Thirty percent of the white voters and 38 percent of Hispanic voters polled wanted a House impeachment vote, versus 73 percent of black voters. Forty-five percent of white voters wanted the matter dropped, along with 28 percent of Hispanic voters, while just 7 percent of black voters favored that result.

The overall message of the poll is that there is a range of opinions among voters that is more complex than much of the yes-impeach-no-don’t-impeach commentary in the media today. But the Suffolk questions do leave at least one issue unclear.

The opinions of those who want a House impeachment vote, as well as those who want the House to drop its investigations altogether, are pretty clear. But what about those who say the House should “continue investigating Trump, but not vote to impeach him”?

Fortunately, another question in the poll sheds some light on that. It is about the infamous phone conversation between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky:

“The White House has released a transcript summary of a July 25th phone call in which President Trump encouraged the Ukrainian president to pursue investigations involving Democratic rival Joe Biden, and hacking allegations in the 2016 election. Which comes closest to your view? A. The phone conversation is an impeachable offense. B. The phone conversation was wrong, but doesn’t rise to an impeachable offense. C. There was nothing wrong with the phone conversation.”

Thirty-eight percent said the conversation is an impeachable offense. Twenty-one percent said the conversation was wrong, but not impeachable. And 31 percent said there was nothing wrong with the conversation. Ten percent were undecided.

That means, at the moment, according to Suffolk, there is a bare majority that does not believe Trump should be impeached for the phone call — which, of course, is the heart of the Democrats’ impeachment effort. The number that believes the call is an impeachable offense, 38 percent, is well below what could be called a groundswell. The 10 percent who haven’t decided are important.

The Suffolk numbers suggest many Americans hold complex views of the Trump impeachment. Some are fine with continued investigation, although large numbers don’t believe they have yet seen an impeachable offense. The numbers of people who are ready to impeach Trump now, or who believe the whole thing should be called off, are not big enough to win the day.

Just as they did after the release of the Mueller report, Democrats now hope televised hearings will convince Americans Trump must be impeached. It didn’t work out before. Now, the Suffolk poll suggests Democrats should be cautious as they try again.

Hillary Clinton and Ukraine

A letter released Monday raises questions beyond the Bidens.

Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at Georgetown University on Friday. PHOTO: WIN MCNAMEE/GETTY IMAGES

The Biden clan still needs to explain why a vice president’s son was enjoying a $50,000-per-month gig for which his principal qualification appears to have been his last name. But Joe Biden isn’t the only pillar of the Democratic establishment who won’t enjoy the new spotlight on American relations with Ukraine. And President Donald Trump isn’t the only one who wants a fuller accounting of that country’s role in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

In a letter released on Monday morning, Republican senators Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin ask U.S. Attorney General William Barr if he’s trying to answer the lingering questions:

We write to follow up on Senator Grassley’s July 20, 2017 letter, which highlighted brazen efforts by the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton campaign to use the government of Ukraine for the express purpose of finding negative information on then candidate Trump in order to undermine his campaign. That letter also highlighted news reports that, during the 2016 presidential election, “Ukrainian government officials tried to help Hillary Clinton and undermine Trump” and did so by “disseminat[ing] documents implicating a top Trump aide in corruption and suggest[ing] they were investigating the matter[.]” Ukrainian officials also reportedly “helped Clinton’s allies research damaging information on Trump and his advisers.”

The senators aren’t relying on reports from conservative bloggers. The quotations come from a 2017 story in Politico, hardly a pro-Trump outfit. “Ukrainian efforts to sabotage Trump backfire,” read the headline on the article by Kenneth P. Vogel and David Stern. “Kiev officials are scrambling to make amends with the president-elect after quietly working to boost Clinton,” said the subhead of the article, which was published shortly before Mr. Trump’s inauguration.

The authors reported that Ukrainian government officials “helped Clinton’s allies research damaging information on Trump and his advisers” with the goal of “advancing the narrative that Trump’s campaign was deeply connected to Ukraine’s foe to the east, Russia.”

With the benefit of hindsight and the results of the Mueller investigation, it’s now clear that there was no evidence of Trump campaign collusion with Russia. What is not clear and what demands further investigation is how this baseless claim managed to consume the first two years of an American presidency.

Among the questions to resolve: the Politico story featured what appear to be contradictory statements about the level of help provided to Democrats by people who worked at the Ukrainian embassy in Washington in 2016. “Politico’s investigation found evidence of Ukrainian government involvement in the race that appears to strain diplomatic protocol dictating that governments refrain from engaging in one another’s elections,” according to the report.

The reporting certainly appears solid but one should not simply accept all the particulars of the Politico story as proven fact, just as—to take an extreme example—a reasonable person would not authorize the wiretap of an opposition political campaign based on a dispatch from Yahoo News. But the Politico piece may be helpful in figuring out exactly how the surveillance tools of America’s national security apparatus were turned against the party out of power in 2016.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/hillary-clinton-and-ukraine-11569881729

Story 3: Long Term China Deal Not Likely Any Time Soon With Chinese Communist Party — Short Term Deal Only — Maximum Pressure Required — Trust But Verify — Enforcement of Any Agreement Is Essential and Chinese Will Never Comply With Any Enforcement Language — Escalloping Trade War Between United States and Chinese Communist Party  Leading to Total Embargo of Trade With Communist China — All Talk and More Talk — Time To Walk Out — Videos

See the source image

See the source image

See the source image

China is more relieved than happy on US-China trade deal: Michael Pillsbury

Why these experts say a long-term China trade deal may not happen soon

It will be difficult for US and China to reach an agreement, says analyst

Are the US and China Decoupling? What are the Consequences for the Global Order?

New location for signing of partial US-China trade deal to be announced soon, says Trump

China is more relieved than happy on US-China trade deal: Michael Pillsbury

Here’s how Beijing is reacting to the ‘phase one’ US-China trade deal

Stealth War: How China Took Over While America's Elite Slept

President Trump holds press conference on US-China trade deal phase 1

Trump: China will probably try to delay trade deal until US election

How to Win the US China Trade War & Communist China’s Broader Stealth War On America-Robert Spalding

WE WILL NOT HAVE A TRADE DEAL WITH CHINA: ROBERT SPALDING

Is the US-China Trade War a Cold War? (w/ Kyle Bass and Gen. Robert Spalding)

Communist Party of China could ‘start by improving their human rights’

Private survey of China factory activity contradicts official data

How China’s tech sector is challenging the world – Part 1

How China’s tech sector is challenging the world – Part 2

China sees Trump as a weak president: Michael Pillsbury

China May Not Be As Strong As You Think

 

Deal to end bitter trade war between Washington and Beijing might not be ready in time for President Trump and China’s Xi to sign it next month as planned, US official warns

  • Washington and Beijing are producing a text to sign at APEC summit next month
  • ‘If it’s not signed in Chile, that doesn’t mean that it falls apart,’ official said today 
  • The deal hopes to bring to an end a nearly 16-month trade war with China 
  • US stocks slumped after potential stall to negotiations was reported by Reuters

A trade agreement between the US and China might not be completed in time for its planned signing next month at a summit in Chile, a US official warned today.

Negotiators in Washington and Beijing are working to finalize agreements for President Donald Trump and China’s Xi Jinping to sign at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit on the weekend of November 16.

Trump, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and other top US officials have all said good progress is being made on the deal after a nearly 16-month trade war, while also noting that it would be fine if it was not completed by the APEC summit.

‘If it’s not signed in Chile, that doesn’t mean that it falls apart. It just means that it’s not ready,’ the administration official said. ‘Our goal is to sign it in Chile. But sometimes texts aren’t ready. But good progress is being made and we expect to sign the agreement in Chile.’

President Donald Trump smiles at Chinese President Xi Jinping as he shakes his hand during a meeting on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Osaka in June

President Donald Trump smiles at Chinese President Xi Jinping as he shakes his hand during a meeting on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Osaka in June

Deal to end US-China trade war may not be ready for leaders’ signing

White House spokesman Judd Deere said both sides were still working to complete the interim deal.

‘As the president said several weeks ago, we have reached a phase-one agreement with the Chinese, and both sides are working to finalize the text for a signing in Chile,’ he said.

In Beijing, foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said the two nations’ lead trade negotiators would hold another telephone call shortly while working-level consultations continued at a fast pace.

‘It is China’s hope that the two sides can find a way to resolve the economic and trade issues on the basis of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit,’ he told a daily briefing on Wednesday.

US stocks turned negative after Reuters reported the administration official’s comments, as investors bet the closely watched trade talks were further away from resolution.

The interim trade agreement announced by Trump on October 11 had buoyed markets, promising relief for companies rocked by nearly 16 months of tit-for-tat tariffs that have slowed global growth to its slowest since the 2008-2009 financial crisis.

Stocks rally, White House calls China trade talks ‘productive’

The South China Morning Post, citing a person briefed on the arrangements, said on Tuesday the leaders of the world’s two largest economies were tentatively set to sign the interim trade deal on November 17 ‘if everything goes smoothly.’

A U.S.-based source confirmed that was the target date for a meeting, but the administration official cautioned that the text might not be completed in time.

White House adviser Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, told an investment panel in Riyadh that U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Mnuchin ‘have made a fabulous deal’ with Beijing.

‘I think people understand the president, that he’s firm. They know that he’s going to make the decisions that he thinks are right, and I think ultimately that we’ve come to an understanding with China now on where we want to head.’

Lighthizer said on Friday Washington and Beijing are ‘close to finalizing’ some sections of a trade pact after a phone call between top negotiators.

President Trump and China's Xi are joined by their respective aides at a meeting at the G20 summit in Osaka earlier this year

President Trump and China’s Xi are joined by their respective aides at a meeting at the G20 summit in Osaka earlier this year

U.S. officials have said the deal is to cover Chinese purchases of U.S. agricultural goods, intellectual property protections, currency practices and increased access for U.S. companies to China’s financial services market.

Jude Blanchette, a fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said the phase one deal was restoring the status quo to before the trade war began in 2017, calling into question how much progress had actually been made.

Tougher issues, such as China’s industrial policy, subsidies for state-owned enterprises and forced technology transfers had been deferred, he said.

‘The can has been kicked down to a phase two or phase three, but we’re really just wondering if we’re going to get through phase one,’ he said.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7630397/Deal-end-bitter-China-trade-war-not-ready-time-presidents-sign-month.html

 

Air Force general behind 5G memo leaves White House

Air Force Brig. Gen. Robert Spalding

U.S. AIR FORCE

The author of a memo arguing for a government takeover of development of the nation’s 5G mobile network has been removed from the National Security Council staff. The memo’s unauthorized release this week caused uproar in the telecom community and created embarrassment for the White House.

A senior administration official confirmed that Air Force Brig. Gen. Robert Spalding is no longer serving as NSC senior director for strategic planning. Spalding was not fired, according to the official, who said his detail had ended and was not renewed. His last day as a White House staffer was Jan. 31. Spalding was not implicated in the leak of the memo, but officials said his advocacy for the plan had gone beyond his role, contributing to the NSC leadership’s decision to send him back to the Air Force.

Spalding was informed that his White House tenure was ending last week, the senior administration official said, before his memo and PowerPoint proposal were leaked. The Jan. 28 Axios story sparked alarm, drawing opposition from major telecom companies and catching the White House off guard.

Another senior administration official said there was considerable upheaval inside the White House this week after the 5G memo story broke. Although it is unclear whether Spalding leaked the memo, because he had shared it so widely, some officials judged him responsible.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters Jan. 29 that consideration of the plan was at its “earliest stages” and the administration was nowhere near a decision. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said spending federal dollars to build a 5G network would be a “costly and counterproductive distraction” from the competitive, market-driven approach that was needed.

“There is nothing that would slam the brakes more quickly on our hard-won momentum to be the leader in the global race for 5G network deployment,” Jonathan Spalter, chief executive of the industry trade group USTelecom, said in a statement.

Spalding was known both inside and outside the administration as a China hawk. From 2014 to 2016 he led the China division at the Joint Chiefs of Staff and before joining the Trump White House he was the U.S. defense attaché at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing. One key argument for Spalding’s 5G plan was that only the government can properly defend technological infrastructure from Chinese interference.

There are no plans to replace Spalding, officials said. Spalding declined to comment.

https://www.stripes.com/news/us/air-force-general-behind-5g-memo-leaves-white-house-1.509849

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The Pronk Pops Show 1183, December 6, 2018, Story 1: The Smoking Gun Email Chain of The Clinton Obama Democrat Criminal Conspiracy — Videos — Story 2: Time Running Out For $25 Billion of Federal Funding of Wall — Trump Should Not Sign Any Bills Without Inclusion of Wall Funding of $25 Billion — Shut Government Down — Videos — Story 3: President Trump Will Nominate Former U.S. Attorney General William Barr as Permanent Replacement for Former AG Jeff Sessions — Videos — Story 4: United States Net Oil Exporter — First Time Since 1949 — Videos

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Clinton Obama Democrat Criminal Conspiracy

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Story 1: The Smoking Gun Email Chain of The Clinton Obama Democrat Criminal Conspiracy — Videos —

Sean Hannity 12/6/18 – Hannity Fox News December 6, 2018

Sean Hannity Fox News 12/6/18 Breaking Fox News December 6, 2018

Hannity 12/06/18 1AM | December 06, 2018 Breaking News

FBI email chain may provide most damning evidence of FISA abuses yet

12/5/2018

By John Solomon
Opinion Contributor

Just before Thanksgiving, House Republicans amended the list of documents they’d like President Trump to declassify in the Russia investigation. With little fanfare or explanation, the lawmakers, led by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), added a string of emails between the FBI and the Department of Justice (DOJ) to their wish list.

Sources tell me the targeted documents may provide the most damning evidence to date of potential abuses of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), evidence that has been kept from the majority of members of Congress for more than two years.

The email exchanges included then-FBI Director James Comey, key FBI investigators in the Russia probe and lawyers in the DOJ’s national security division, and they occurred in early to mid-October, before the FBI successfully secured a FISA warrant to spy on Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.

The email exchanges show the FBI was aware — before it secured the now-infamous warrant — that there were intelligence community concerns about the reliability of the main evidence used to support it: the Christopher Steele dossier.

The exchanges also indicate FBI officials were aware that Steele, the former MI6 British intelligence operative then working as a confidential human source for the bureau, had contacts with news media reporters before the FISA warrant was secured.

The FBI fired Steele on Nov. 1, 2016 — two weeks after securing the warrant — on the grounds that he had unauthorized contacts with the news media.

But the FBI withheld from the American public and Congress, until months later, that Steele had been paid to find his dirt on Trump by a firm doing political opposition research for the Democratic Party and for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, and that Steele himself harbored hatred for Trump.

If the FBI knew of his media contacts and the concerns about the reliability of his dossier before seeking the warrant, it would constitute a serious breach of FISA regulations and the trust that the FISA court places in the FBI.

That’s because the FBI has an obligation to certify to the court before it approves FISA warrants that its evidence is verified, and to alert the judges to any flaws in its evidence or information that suggest the target might be innocent.

We now know the FBI used an article from Yahoo News as independent corroboration for the Steele dossier when, in fact, Steele had talked to the news outlet.

If the FBI knew Steele had that media contact before it submitted the article, it likely would be guilty of circular intelligence reporting, a forbidden tactic in which two pieces of evidence are portrayed as independent corroboration when, in fact, they originated from the same source.

These issues are why the FBI email chain, kept from most members of Congress for the past two years, suddenly landed on the declassification list.

The addition to the list also comes at a sensitive time, as House Republicans prepare on Friday to question Comey, who signed off on the FISA warrant while remaining an outlier in the intelligence community about the Steele dossier.

Most intelligence officials, such as former CIA Director John Brennan and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, have embraced the concerns laid out in the Steele dossier of possible — but still unproven — collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Yet, 10 months after the probe started and a month after Robert Mueller was named special counsel in the Russia probe, Comey cast doubt on the the Steele dossier, calling it “unverified” and “salacious” in sworn testimony before Congress.

Former FBI lawyer Lisa Page further corroborated Comey’s concerns in recent testimony before House lawmakers, revealing that the FBI had not corroborated the collusion charges by May 2017, despite nine months of exhaustive counterintelligence investigation.

Lawmakers now want to question Comey about whether the information in the October email string contributed to the former FBI director’s assessment.

The question long has lingered about when the doubts inside the FBI first surfaced about the allegations in the Steele dossier.

Sources tell me the email chain provides the most direct evidence that the bureau, and possibly the DOJ, had reasons to doubt the Steele dossier before the FISA warrant was secured.

Sources say the specifics of the email chain remain classified, but its general sentiments about the Steele dossier and the media contacts have been discussed in nonclassified settings.

“If these documents are released, the American public will have clear and convincing evidence to see the FISA warrant that escalated the Russia probe just before Election Day was flawed and the judges [were] misled,” one knowledgeable source told me.

Congressional investigators also have growing evidence that some evidence inserted into the fourth and final application for the FISA — a document signed by current Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein — was suspect.

Nunes hinted as much himself in comments he made on Sean Hannity’s Fox News TV show on Nov. 20, when he disclosed the FBI email string was added to the declassification request. The release of the documents will “give finality to everyone who wants to know what their government did to a political campaign” and verify that the Trump campaign did not collude with Russia during the election, Nunes said.

As more of the secret evidence used to justify the Russia probe becomes public, an increasingly dark portrait of the FBI’s conduct emerges.

The bureau, under a Democratic-controlled Justice Department, sought a warrant to spy on the duly nominated GOP candidate for president in the final weeks of the 2016 election, based on evidence that was generated under a contract paid by his political opponent.

That evidence, the Steele dossier, was not fully vetted by the bureau and was deemed unverified months after the warrant was issued.

At least one news article was used in the FISA warrant to bolster the dossier as independent corroboration when, it fact, it was traced to a news organization that had been in contact with Steele, creating a high likelihood it was circular intelligence reporting.

And the entire warrant, the FBI’s own document shows, was being rushed to approval by two agents who hated Trump and stated in their own texts that they wanted to “stop” the Republican from becoming president.

If ever there were grounds to investigate the investigators, these facts provide the justification.

Director Comey and Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein likely hold the answers, as do the still-classified documents. It’s time all three be put under a public microscope.

John Solomon is an award-winning investigative journalist whose work over the years has exposed U.S. and FBI intelligence failures before the Sept. 11 attacks, federal scientists’ misuse of foster children and veterans in drug experiments, and numerous cases of political corruption. He is The Hill’s executive vice president for video.

https://thehill.com/hilltv/rising/419901-fbi-email-chain-may-provide-most-damning-evidence-of-fisa-abuses-yet

 

FBI Knew Steele Dossier Was Bogus Before Using In FISA Application: Solomon

A string of emails quietly requested by House Republicans for declassification by President Trump may be the smoking gun that the FBI and DOJ committed egregious abuses of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), according to The Hill‘s John Solomon.

The email exchanges – kept from Congressional investigators for over two years, “included then-FBI Director James Comey, key FBI investigators in the Russia probe and lawyers in the DOJ’s national security division,” according to the report – and took place in early to mid-October of 2016, prior to the FBI successfully securing a FISA warrant to spy on Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.

The email exchanges show the FBI was aware — before it secured the now-infamous warrant — that there were intelligence community concerns about the reliability of the main evidence used to support it: the Christopher Steele dossier.

The exchanges also indicate FBI officials were aware that Steele, the former MI6 British intelligence operative then working as a confidential human source for the bureau, had contacts with news media reporters before the FISA warrant was secured. –The Hill

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Two weeks after the FBI secured the FISA warrant using the Steele Dossier, Steele was fired by the FBI on November 1, 2016 for inappropriate communications with the news media.

Also withheld from both Congress and the general public until months later is the fact that Steele had been paid by Fusion GPS – an opposition research firm hired by Hillary Clinton and the DNC to dig up dirt on Donald Trump. Moreover, Steele absolutely hated Donald Trump.

And as Solomon notes; “If the FBI knew of his media contacts and the concerns about the reliability of his dossier before seeking the warrant, it would constitute a serious breach of FISA regulations and the trust that the FISA court places in the FBI.”

That’s because the FBI has an obligation to certify to the court before it approves FISA warrants that its evidence is verified, and to alert the judges to any flaws in its evidence or information that suggest the target might be innocent. –The Hill

The FBI, however, went to extreme lengths to convince the FISA judge that Steele (“Source #1”), was reliable when they could not verify the unsubstantiated claims in his dossier – while also having to explain why they still trusted his information after having terminated Steele’s contract over inappropriate disclosures he made to the media.

“Not withstanding Source1’s reason for conducting the research into Candidate1’s ties to Russia, based on Source1’s previous reporting history with the FBI, whereby Source1 provided reliable information to the FBI, the FBI believes Source 1s reporting herein to be credible

Chuck Ross@ChuckRossDC

On top of that, Bill Priestap told Congress that corroboration of the dossier was in its “infancy” when FISAs were being granted. An FBI unit found dossier was only “minimally” corroborated.

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Of course, none of this mattered to the FBI – which painted Carter Page in the most criminal light possible, as intended, in order to convince the FISA judge to grant the warrant.In order to reinforce their argument, the FBI presented various claims from the dossier as facts, such as “The FBI learned that Page met with at least two Russian officials” – when in fact that was simply another unverified claim from the dossier.

It flat out accuses Page of being a Russian spy who was recruited by the Kremlin, which sought to “undermine and influence the outcome of the 2016 U.S. presidential election in violation of U.S. criminal law,” the application reads.

Paul Sperry@paulsperry_

ALERT: The declassified FBI warrant application attests to secret FISA court that “THE FBI LEARNED that Page met with at least two Russian officials during the trip,”as if FBI learned this independently,when in fact it’s clear it relied on Clinton-paid dossier for the information

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Chuck Ross@ChuckRossDC

FBI represented to a federal judge that investigators knew for certain that Carter Page met w/ Igor Sechin and Diveykin. Except, the FISA app acknowledges this intel came from Steele dossier. And FBI has acknowledged dossier was not verifieid. http://dailycaller.com/2018/07/21/doj-release-carter-page-fisa/ 

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Another approach used to beef up the FISA application’s curb appeal was circular evidence, via the inclusion of a letter from Democratic Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (NV) to former FBI Director James Comey, citing information Reid got from John Brennan, which was in turn from the Clinton-funded dossier.

Meanwhile – current and former members of the US intelligence community continue to hinge their theories of Trump-Russia collusion on the Steele Dossier, despite Comey admitting that it was “salacious” and “unverified” during sworn testimony.

Most intelligence officials, such as former CIA Director John Brennan and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, have embraced the concerns laid out in the Steele dossier of possible — but still unproven — collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Yet, 10 months after the probe started and a month after Robert Mueller was named special counsel in the Russia probe, Comey cast doubt on the the Steele dossier, calling it “unverified” and “salacious” in sworn testimony before Congress.

Former FBI lawyer Lisa Page further corroborated Comey’s concerns in recent testimony before House lawmakers, revealing that the FBI had not corroborated the collusion charges by May 2017, despite nine months of exhaustive counterintelligence investigation. –The Hill

Congressional investigators now want to question Comey about the October email string and whether it contributed to his assessment. According to Solomon, the newly requested email chain “provides the most direct evidence that the bureau, and possibly the DOJ, had reasons to doubt the Steele dossier before the FISA warrant was secured.”

“If these documents are released, the American public will have clear and convincing evidence to see the FISA warrant that escalated the Russia probe just before Election Day was flawed and the judges [were] misled,” one source told Solomon.

What’s more, House GOP investigators now have a growing pile of evidence that some of the information inserted into a fourth and final application for the FISA – signed by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, was suspect – as evidence by hints by House Intelligence Committee member Devin Nunes (R-CA) on Fox News‘s Sean Hannity TV show November 20. Nunes said that the declassification of the requested documents will “give finality to everyone who wants to know what their government did to a political campaign.”

As Solomon bluntly puts it:

The bureau, under a Democratic-controlled Justice Department, sought a warrant to spy on the duly nominated GOP candidate for president in the final weeks of the 2016 election, based on evidence that was generated under a contract paid by his political opponent.

That evidence, the Steele dossier, was not fully vetted by the bureau and was deemed unverified months after the warrant was issued.

At least one news article was used in the FISA warrant to bolster the dossier as independent corroboration when, it fact, it was traced to a news organization that had been in contact with Steele, creating a high likelihood it was circular intelligence reporting.

And the entire warrant, the FBI’s own document shows, was being rushed to approval by two agents who hated Trump and stated in their own texts that they wanted to “stop” the Republican from becoming president.

No wonder Comey wanted a public testimony – where he wouldn’t have to discuss any of this.

https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018-12-06/fbi-knew-steele-dossier-was-bogus-using-fisa-application-solomon

Obama Political Spying Scandal: Trump Associates Were Not the First Targets

(Reuters photo: Jonathan Ernst)

This list includes Dennis Kucinich and investigative journalists.In 2011, Dennis Kucinich was still a Democratic congressman from Ohio. But he was not walking in lockstep with President Obama — at least not on Libya. True to his anti-war leanings, Kucinich was a staunch opponent of Obama’s unauthorized war against the Qaddafi regime.

Kucinich’s very public efforts included trying to broker negotiations between the administration and the Qaddafi regime, to whom the White House was turning a deaf ear. It was in that context that he took a call in his Washington office from Saif al-Islam Qaddafi, the ruler’s son and confidant. Four years later, as he recalled in a recent opinion piece, Kucinich learned that the call had been recorded and leaked to the Washington Times.

To be sure, it is not a solid case. Kucinich is now a commentator at Fox News, on whose website he explains his side of the story, and on whose programming ardently pro-Trump contributors are a staple — including contributors who have been sympathetic to the new president’s claim that he was monitored by his predecessor. The gist of Kucinich’s piece is to “vouch for the fact that extracurricular surveillance does occur.” The express point is to counter the ridicule heaped on Trump’s claim that he personally was wiretapped at Trump Tower.

As we’ve repeatedly noted (see, e.g., herehere, and here), there is no known support for Trump’s narrow claim (made in a series of March 4 tweets). Yet, there is now overwhelming evidence that the Obama administration monitored Trump associates and campaign and transition officials. There were, moreover, leaks of classified information to the media — particularly in the case of Trump’s original national-security adviser, Michael Flynn, whose telephone communications with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S. were unlawfully disclosed to the Washington Post.

The answer is no.

In an important analysis published by Tablet magazine, Lee Smith considers the likely abuse of foreign-intelligence-collection authority by the Obama administration in connection with negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program. The White House knew there would be vigorous Israeli opposition to the Iran deal — just as there was ardent American opposition to the highly objectionable pact. Notwithstanding that Israel is an important ally, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Ron Dermer, Israel’s ambassador to the U.S., became surveillance targets — agents of a foreign power, treated no differently under the law than such operatives of hostile foreign powers. Fair enough — it is simply a fact that allies occasionally spy on each other. Obviously, their interests sometimes diverge.

But there was something different about this monitoring initiative. It was not targeted merely at Israeli officials plotting their opposition strategy. The Wall Street Journal, Smith notes, reported in late December 2015 that the targeting “also swept up the contents of some of [the Israeli officials’] private conversations with U.S. lawmakers and American-Jewish groups.”

“At some point, the administration weaponized the NSA’s legitimate monitoring of communications of foreign officials to stay one step ahead of domestic political opponents,” says a pro-Israel political operative who was deeply involved in the day-to-day fight over the Iran Deal. “The NSA’s collections of foreigners became a means of gathering real-time intelligence on Americans engaged in perfectly legitimate political activism — activism, due to the nature of the issue, that naturally involved conversations with foreigners. We began to notice the White House was responding immediately, sometimes within 24 hours, to specific conversations we were having. At first, we thought it was a coincidence being amplified by our own paranoia. After a while, it simply became our working assumption that we were being spied on.

This is what systematic abuse of foreign-intelligence collection for domestic political purposes looks like: Intelligence collected on Americans, lawmakers, and figures in the pro-Israel community was fed back to the Obama White House as part of its political operations. The administration got the drop on its opponents by using classified information, which it then used to draw up its own game plan to block and freeze those on the other side. And — with the help of certain journalists whose stories (and thus careers) depend on high-level access — terrorize them.

Once you understand how this may have worked, it becomes easier to comprehend why and how we keep being fed daily treats of Trump’s nefarious Russia ties. The issue this time isn’t Israel, but Russia, yet the basic contours may very well be the same.

Do you really think the Obama administration, which turned the Internal Revenue Service and the Justice Department into process cudgels for beating Obama detractors, would be above that sort of thing?

At her website, Sharyl Attkisson provides a very useful “Obama-era Surveillance Timeline” — with “surveillance” broadly construed to encompass many varieties of government power to collect and coerce the production of information. Attkisson notes, for example:

‐The IRS’s targeting of conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status, a politicized initiative that stymied the groups’ ability to contest Obama’s reelection in 2012.

‐The administration’s targeting of journalists, including (a) attorney general Eric Holder’s approval of the seizure of personal and business phone records of Associated Press reporters en masse (i.e., not a particularized search targeting a specific journalist suspected of wrongdoing); and (b) Holder’s approval of a warrant targeting the e-mails of Fox News reporter James Rosen in a leak investigation — based on an application in which the government represented to a federal court that the journalist could be guilty of a felony violation of the Espionage Act in connection with a leak of classified information (in addition to purportedly being a “flight risk”).

‐The administration’s 2011 loosening of minimization procedures to enable more-liberal scrutiny of communications of American citizens incidentally swept up in foreign-intelligence gathering

‐The CIA’s accessing of Senate Intelligence Committee computers and staff e-mails — which CIA director John Brennan initially denied, then apologized for after it was confirmed by an inspector-general report.

‐The investigation of Trump associate Carter Page, including a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant based on the claim that Page was a Russian agent, which would have authorized monitoring of Page’s communications — including any with Trump, then the Republican nominee for president.

‐The criminal leaking to the media of former Trump national-security adviser Michael Flynn’s communications with the Russian ambassador to the U.S.

‐The “unmasking” of identities of Americans (connected to Trump) at the behest of Obama national-security adviser Susan Rice, a White House staffer and Obama confidant.

Ms. Attkisson also has her own story to tell. Formerly at CBS News, she was one of the few journalists at mainstream outlets who aggressively reported on the Fast and Furious scandal and the Benghazi massacre. In the latter, we recall, Rice and other Obama officials falsely told the public that the attack, which resulted in the killing of four Americans including the U.S. ambassador, grew out of spontaneous protest against an anti-Muslim video (rather than being a coordinated jihadist strike). The Obama administration later used its criminal-prosecution authority to trump up a case against its chosen scapegoat: the video producer.

Attkisson’s reporting prompted internal administration complaints that she was “out of control.”

As a tale of political spying intrigue, Dennis Kucinich’s story would not be worth telling. But can it so easily be dismissed after the spying on American critics of the Iran deal?

Based on examinations by two forensic experts, Attkisson and CBS eventually reported that her personal and work computers were “accessed by an unauthorized, external, unknown party on multiple occasions.” Was this “unknown party” the government? The experts say it was a highly advanced intruder, which “used sophisticated methods to remove all possible indications of unauthorized activity.” Moreover, one computer was infiltrated remotely by the use of “new spy software proprietary to a federal agency.”

It is a good bet that the National Security Agency was monitoring the communications of Qaddafi’s son and other regime figures in 2011. If so, it is likely that then-congressman Kucinich was lawfully intercepted “incidentally.” It is also entirely possible, however, that the Libyans themselves were recording their conversations with prominent Americans and that the Kucinich–Qaddafi call was found after the regime fell.

The Washington Times reporters did not reveal to Kucinich how they had gotten the tape, but the paper’s related stories had referred to “secret audio recordings recovered from Tripoli.” Moreover, if the Obama administration had been behind a vindictive leak against Kucinich, one might have expected the leak to have happened in 2011, during Kucinich’s prominent opposition to the Libya war, rather than four years later, when the regime had long been toppled and Kucinich had retired from Congress.

On the other hand, Kucinich recounts that the recording is very clear on both ends (one might expect a Libyan recording would be distinctly clearer on the Libyan end). The Washington Timesalso does not seem the most natural destination for a secret disclosure from Libya. Furthermore, Kucinich explains, he made routine FOIA requests regarding information pertinent to him before leaving Congress in 2012. Although he did not learn of the recording until 2015, these FOIA requests would have covered his communication with Qaddafi, he adds. Kucinich says that some of the intelligence agencies have failed to respond.

On its own, Dennis Kucinich’s story would not be worth telling — not as a tale of political spying intrigue. But can it so easily be dismissed after the spying on American critics of the Iran deal? The measures taken to make “incidental” monitoring of Americans easier, its fruits far more widely disseminated and, inevitably, criminally leaked? The shocking abuse of IRS processes to collect information on, and procedurally persecute, Barack Obama’s political adversaries? Fast and Furious — the use of government police powers to create a political anti-gun narrative, then the contemptuous cover-up when it went horribly wrong, resulting in a Border Patrol officer’s death? The scandalous Benghazi cover-up — including a bogus prosecution of a pathetic video producer to help prop up the fraud? The monitoring of Trump associates and members of his campaign and transition staffs — the unmasking, the intentional wide dissemination of raw intelligence, the willful felony publication of classified information?

There is considerably more evidence that the Obama administration grossly abused its awesome intelligence-gathering and law-enforcement powers than that Russian meddling had a meaningful impact on the 2016 election. And these abuses of power certainly did not start with the targeting of Donald Trump’s campaign.

— Andrew C. McCarthy is a senior policy fellow at the National Review Institute and a contributing editor of National Review.

Editor’s Note: This piece has been emended since its initial posting.

https://www.nationalreview.com/2017/04/barack-obama-spying-journalists-dennis-kucinich-sharyl-attkisson-donald-trump-campaign-transition/

Could the President Spy on His Political Opponents?

Under the government’s current interpretation of the law, unfortunately, the answer is yes.

he controversy continues over President Trump’s Twitter storm accusing President Obama of wiretapping him. On Monday, members of Congress peppered FBI Director James Comey with questions about the claims, who once again dismissed them as lacking support. Even Devin Nunes, the Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, who originally defended Trump’s claims, has defected. “I don’t think there was an actual tap of Trump Tower,” the congressman said last week at a news conference. None of these statements seem to have affected President Trump, however, who continues to stand by his accusations.

But regardless of whether these claims turn out to be completely false, which is all but certain now, they do raise a question that shouldn’t be casually dismissed: Could President Obama’s administration have surveiled his political opponents under its interpretation of the law? Could President Trump’s administration now do the same?

The answer, unfortunately, is yes. And that should make Republicans and Democrats nervous enough to work together to reform our surveillance laws.

Many have dismissed President Trump’s accusations as the unsubstantiated ramblings of a Twitter addict with little understanding of how our intelligence laws work. These may be fair criticisms—today the president cannot simply order the intelligence agencies to wiretap his domestic political opponents. But many of our surveillance authorities have been interpreted so broadly that they put vast amounts of Americans’ data easily within the president’s reach. Without significant reform, exploiting this immense pool of data may one day prove irresistible. Thus, whether President Trump’s accusations are true or not, the potential for White House officials to abuse our spying laws for political purposes is real.

It is important to remember that surveilling political opponents in the name of security is something of an American pastime. In the 1960s, the FBI targeted political activists, including Martin Luther King Jr., claiming they posed “national security” threats. Cesar Chavez, the prominent labor and civil-rights activist, was similarly tracked for years because of his supposed communist ties.

In response to many of these types of abuses, Congress created the Church Committee to investigate surveillance practices. The widespread crimes and abuse they uncovered led to the passage of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) in 1978. But recent disclosures demonstrate that the law did not go far enough. Moreover, passage of the Patriot Act in 2001 and other laws have undercut the protections in FISA, further opening the door to biased, unjustified, or politically motivated spying. There are jarringly few protections against these abuses.

The result: if the president wanted to surveil his critics, he could exploit at least three national security authorities.

Section 702 of FISA

Section 702 of FISA was passed at the request of the Bush administration and extended at the request of the Obama administration with bipartisan support. Now the Trump administration is reportedly pushing for reauthorization of this law when it is set to expire in 2017, with the nominee for the director of national intelligence calling it the “crown jewels” of the intelligence community. FBI Director Comey once again defended the controversial program.

While Section 702 was passed to protect against international terrorism, its tentacles reach much farther. Under the law, the government collects emails and phone calls—without a warrant—of nearly 100,000 foreign “targets.” These include their conversations with people in the United States. These targets can include journalists, human-rights workers, and other individuals who have no connection to terrorism or criminal activity, and whose only offense may be discussing information related to “foreign affairs”—a nebulous term.

Over 250 million internet communications alone are collected under Section 702 annually. While the government refuses to disclose how many Americans have been swept up in this dragnet, analysis of leaked documents suggests that at least half those communications contain information about a U.S. citizen or resident. If that’s accurate, the Trump administration will collect over 125 million internet communications that contain information about someone in the United States. Given that much of the data collected under Section 702 is stored for five years or longer, it means the government likely has access to hundreds of millions of stored emails and phone calls.

Once collected, the government asserts that they can mine this information to scrutinize the activities of Americans—opening the door to political abuse. For example, if the intelligence agencies under President Obama had wanted to search through Section 702 data for information about Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), on the argument that McConnell might possess information about “foreign affairs,” no technological barrier or explicit provision in Section 702 would have stopped them. Under current procedures, no court would have needed to approve this and Senator McConnell would not need to be notified that he had been the subject of such a search.

Under the government’s current interpretation of the law, this information could then be used as the basis for a criminal prosecution, criminal investigation, civil action, or additional surveillance.

Executive Order (EO) 12333

Under Executive Order 12333, the government engages in the bulk collection of communications and data—with no approval from a court or any other independent judicial body. This surveillance primarily takes place abroad. While the government is not supposed to target Americans under EO 12333, this spying likely results in the collection of information of millions of Americans. We know, for example, that the government reportedly relied on EO 12333 to steal data transmitted between certain Yahoo and Google data centers; to capture the content of all phone calls to, from, and within the Bahamas and other countries; and to collect millions of text messages from individuals around the world.

Under EO 12333, the government can target foreigners for “foreign intelligence” purposes, which, similar to Section 702, is a category so broad that it easily encompasses individuals who have no nexus to a national-security threat. As a result of recent NSA procedures, agencies across the federal government now have the right to request access to the raw information collected under EO 12333, which can contain the information of both Americans and foreigners.

While NSA officials have said there are procedures that limit the ability of the NSA to search through electronic surveillance captured under EO 12333 for information about Americans, those procedures are largely secret and can be modified purely at the discretion of the president. Moreover, the government has taken the position that information collected under the executive order can be used to prosecute Americans for certain ordinary domestic crimes—even though it was collected without a warrant.

In practice, this means that if the president decided to unilaterally change EO 12333 procedures to allow him to search for information for purposes unrelated to national security, he would have broad latitude to do so under the government’s current legal interpretations. In addition, it means that if the government stumbles across information related to these individuals in the trove of data they collect, they may assert the right to use it as the basis to prosecute or further investigate these individuals, without ever notifying them. This creates a bizarre incentive for any ill-intentioned president: the more information collected under EO 12333 in the name of security, the more information that can be mined for other purposes.

“Traditional” FISA

Although FISA was passed with the admirable goal of halting many of the surveillance abuses of the 1960s, this statutory scheme is not nearly as protective as a warrant. Specifically, unlike an ordinary warrant or wiretapping order, a traditional FISA order does not require the government to believe that its spying will produce evidence of a crime, and the secrecy surrounding the FISA court undermines effective oversight. For these reasons, the ACLU has long cautioned that FISA authorities are prone to abuse.

Under FISA, when the government seeks to conduct electronic surveillance, it must submit an application to the secret intelligence court demonstrating that there is probable cause that its individual target is a “foreign power or an agent of a foreign power,” and it must identify the particular phone line or communications facility used by the target. The terms “foreign power or agent of a foreign power” are broadly defined. They include foreign government officials, foreign political organizations not substantially composed of U.S. citizens or green-card holders, and foreign individuals engaged in terrorism. While this authority is certainly narrower than EO 12333 or Section 702, it too leaves room for abuse.

For example, under traditional FISA, the government would have the authority to surveil virtually any foreign government official—including that official’s entirely legal conversations with individuals in the United States. These communications can be retained or disseminated under procedures that are more lenient than those that apply to federal wiretaps. For instance, in the wiretapping context, the government is supposed to immediately purge communications that are considered irrelevant. FISA, by contrast, permits retention, analysis, and dissemination of Americans’ information for years, regardless of whether there is any evidence of criminal activity.

The Potential for Abuse Is Real, No Matter What the Intel Community Says

The intelligence agencies would argue that these authorities do not permit the government to deliberately “target” Americans—at least not without a warrant—mitigating constitutional concerns. But that explanation only tells half the story. The reality is that these authorities are used to vacuum up large amounts of Americans’ data, do not prevent the government from knowingly capturing the communications that Americans have with tens of thousands of foreign “targets,” and, in some cases, routinely collect purely domestic communications. Moreover, once Americans’ information is collected, there are inadequate safeguards to ensure that such data is not inappropriately used.  

The fact that our intelligence-gathering laws leave room for politically motivated surveillance should give us pause. And it’s not enough for President Trump or members of Congress to simply express outrage that the private communications of political leaders could have been surveilled. With the expiration of Section 702 looming, they have the opportunity to push for a complete overhaul of our surveillance authorities, and ensure that they are brought fully in line with the requirements of our Constitution.  

In other words, President Trump should match his action to his tweets, and demand that Section 702 and other authorities be reformed.

Neema Singh Guliani is a legislative counsel at the ACLU focusing on surveillance, privacy, and national-security issues. Prior to the ACLU, she worked at the Department of Homeland Security and as an investigative counsel with the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

https://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/could-the-president-spy-on-his-political-opponents/

Story 2: Time Running Out For Federal $25 Billion Funding Appropriation $25 Billion of for Trump’s  Wall — Videos

Pelosi takes hard line on paying for Trump’s border wall

an hour ago
Nancy Pelosi

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi of California, meets with reporters at her weekly news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Dec. 6, 2018. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

WASHINGTON (AP) — House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi on Thursday rejected the idea of paying for President Donald Trump’s border wall in exchange for helping hundreds of thousands of young immigrants avoid deportation.

Funding for the wall — a top Trump priority — and legal protections for so-called Dreamers, a key Democratic goal, should not be linked, Pelosi said.

“They’re two different subjects,” she said.

Her comments came as the House and Senate approved a stopgap bill Thursday to keep the government funded through Dec. 21. The measure, approved by voice votes in near-empty chambers, now goes to the White House.

Trump has promised to sign the two-week extension to allow for ceremonies this week honoring former President George H.W. Bush, who died Nov. 30. But he wants the next funding package to include at least $5 billion for his proposed wall, something Democrats have rejected. Trump is set to meet Tuesday at the White House with Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer.

Pelosi, who is seeking to become House speaker in January, said the lame-duck Congress should now pass a half-dozen government funding bills that key committees have already agreed on, along with a separate measure funding the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees the border. Funding for the homeland agency should address border security and does not necessarily include a wall, Pelosi said.

Most Democrats consider the wall “immoral, ineffective and expensive,” Pelosi said, noting that Trump promised during the 2016 campaign that Mexico would pay for it, an idea Mexican leaders have repeatedly rejected.

Even if Mexico did pay for the wall, “it’s immoral still,” Pelosi said.

Protecting borders “is a responsibility we honor, but we do so by honoring our values as well,” she added.

Schumer said Thursday that a bipartisan Senate plan for $1.6 billion in border security funding does not include money for the 30-foot-high (9-meter-high) concrete wall Trump has envisioned. The money “can only be used for fencing” and technology that experts say is appropriate and makes sense as a security feature, Schumer said.

If Republicans object to the proposal because of pressure from Trump, Schumer said lawmakers should follow Pelosi’s advice and approve six appropriations bills and a separate measure extending current funding for Homeland Security.

Either option would avert a partial government shutdown, which lawmakers from both parties oppose, he said.

“The one and only way we approach a shutdown is if President Trump refuses both of our proposals and demands $5 billion or more for a border wall,” Schumer said. He called the wall “a nonstarter” for Democrats, who face increasing pressure from outside groups and liberal lawmakers to resist Trump’s continued push for the barrier, which Trump says is needed to stop an “invasion” of Central American migrants and others from crossing into the country illegally.

Schumer called the spat over the wall unnecessary, noting that the administration has not spent more than $1 billion approved for border security in the budget year that ended Sept. 30. “The idea that they haven’t spent last year’s money and they’re demanding such a huge amount this year makes no sense at all,” he said.

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby said he prefers to include Homeland Security in an omnibus package containing seven unresolved spending bills for the current budget year.

“I believe the best route is to keep all seven together and pass them,” the Alabama Republican told reporters Thursday. Lawmakers have “made a lot of progress” in recent weeks on the seven spending bills. “I’d like to conclude it,’” he said.

Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt, a member of Republican leadership, said the key question is whether Trump will sign a bill without funding for the wall.

“It doesn’t matter how much appetite there is for a shutdown anywhere else, if he is willing to have a shutdown over this issue,” Blunt said. “He has given every indication that he would.”

___

Associated Press writers Alan Fram and Padmananda Rama contributed to this story.

https://apnews.com/e3fd315c66554c22bfdf97710e0df711

 

Story 3: President Trump Will Nominate Former U.S. Attorney General William Bar as Permanent Replacement for Former AG Jeff Sessions

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Former U.S. Attorney General William Barr, who served under former President George H.W. Bush, is the leading candidate for the job as a permanent replacement for Jeff Sessions, a source familiar with the matter said on Thursday.

The Washington Post reported earlier on Thursday that President Donald Trump could choose his nominee for attorney general in coming days, and that Trump had told advisers he plans to nominate Barr.

Sessions departed from the role last month, and Trump named Matthew Whitaker as the government’s top lawyer on an interim basis. With the current session of Congress set to soon end, anyone Trump nominates may have to wait until well into 2019 for confirmation.

Barr has worked in the private sector since serving as attorney general from 1991 to 1993, retiring from Verizon Communications (VZ.N) in 2008.

Reporting by Steve Holland and Lisa Lambert, Editing by David Gregorio and Bill Berkrot

Story 3: President Trump Will Nominate Former U.S. Attorney General William Bar as Permanent Replacement for Former AG Jeff Sessions — Videos

Trump eyeing Bush 41 attorney general to replace Sessions

President Trump To Tap Former Attorney General William Barr To Head Justice Department

William P. Barr

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Bill Barr
William Barr, official photo as Attorney General.jpg
77th United States Attorney General
In office
November 26, 1991 – January 20, 1993
President George H. W. Bush
Preceded by Dick Thornburgh
Succeeded by Janet Reno
25th United States Deputy Attorney General
In office
May 1990 – November 26, 1991
President George H. W. Bush
Preceded by Donald B. Ayer
Succeeded by George J. Terwilliger III
United States Assistant Attorney Generalfor the Office of Legal Counsel
In office
April 1989 – May 1990
President George H. W. Bush
Preceded by Douglas Kmiec
Succeeded by J. Michael Luttig
Personal details
Born
William Pelham Barr

May 23, 1950 (age 68)
New York CityNew York, U.S.

Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Christine Moynihan
Children 3
Education Columbia University (BAMA)
George Washington University(JD)

William Pelham Barr (born May 23, 1950) is an American attorney who served as the 77th Attorney General of the United States. He is a Republican and served as Attorney General from 1991 to 1993 during the administration of President George H. W. Bush.

 

Early life, education, and career

Barr was born in New York City. The son of Columbia University faculty members Mary and Donald Barr, he grew up on the Upper West Side, attended the Corpus Christi School and Horace Mann School. He received his B.A. degree in government in 1971 and his M.A. degree in government and Chinese studies in 1973, both from Columbia University. He received his J.D. degree with highest honors in 1977 from the George Washington University Law School.[1]

Barr with President Ronald Reaganin 1983

From 1973-77, he was employed by the Central Intelligence Agency. Barr was a law clerk to Judge Malcolm Wilkey of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit from 1977 through 1978. He served on the domestic policy staff at the Reagan White House from 1982 to 1983. He was also in private practice for nine years with the Washington law firm of Shaw, Pittman, Potts & Trowbridge.[2]

Department of Justice

Barr and Dan Quayle watch as President George H. W. Bush signs the Civil Rights Commission Reauthorization Act in the Rose Garden of the White House in 1991

During 1989, at the beginning of his administration, President George H. W. Bush appointed Barr to the U.S. Department of Justice as Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Counsel, an office which functions as the legal advisor for the President and executive agencies. Barr was known as a strong defender of Presidential power and wrote advisory opinions justifying the U.S. invasion of Panama and arrest of Manuel Noriega, and a controversial opinion that the F.B.I. could enter onto foreign soil without the consent of the host government to apprehend fugitives wanted by the United States government for terrorism or drug-trafficking.[3]

During May 1990, Barr was appointed Deputy Attorney General, the official responsible for day-to-day management of the Department. According to media reports, Barr was generally praised for his professional management of the Department.[4]

Acting Attorney General of the United States

During August 1991, when then-Attorney General Richard Thornburgh resigned to campaign for the Senate, Barr was named Acting Attorney General.[5] Three days after Barr accepted that position, 121 Cuban inmates, awaiting deportation to Cuba as extremely violent criminals, seized 9 hostages at the Talladega federal prison. He directed the FBI’s Hostage Rescue Team to assault the prison, which resulted in rescuing all hostages without loss of life.[6]

Nomination and confirmation

It was reported that President Bush was impressed with Barr’s management of the hostage crisis, and weeks later, President Bush nominated him as Attorney General.[7]

Barr’s two-day confirmation hearing was “unusually placid” and he received a good reception from both Republicans and Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee.[8] Asked whether he thought a constitutional right to privacy included the right to an abortion, Barr responded that he believed the constitution was not originally intended to create a right to abortion; that Roe v. Wade was thus wrongly decided; and that abortion should be a “legitimate issue for state legislators”.[8] Committee Chairman, Senator Joe Biden, though disagreeing with Barr, responded that it was the “first candid answer” he had heard from a nominee on a question that witnesses would normally evade.[9] Barr was approved unanimously by the Senate Judiciary Committee. Chairman Biden hailed Barr as “a throwback to the days when we actually had attorneys general that would talk to you.”[9]

Attorney General of the United States

Tenure

Analysis

The media described Barr as staunchly conservative.[10] The New York Times described the “central theme” of his tenure to be: “his contention that violent crime can be reduced only by expanding Federal and state prisons to jail habitual violent offenders.”[10] At the same time, reporters consistently described Barr as affable with a dry, self-deprecating wit.[11]

Subsequent career

After his tenure at the Department of Justice, Barr spent more than 14 years as a senior corporate executive. At the end of 2008 he retired from Verizon Communications, having served as Executive Vice President and General Counsel of GTE Corporation from 1994 until that company merged with Bell Atlantic to become Verizon. During his corporate tenure, Barr directed a successful litigation campaign by the local telephone industry to achieve deregulation by scuttling a series of FCC rules, personally arguing several cases in the federal courts of appeals and the Supreme Court.[12] Barr currently serves with several corporate boards.[citation needed]

In his adopted home state of Virginia, Barr was appointed during 1994 by then-Governor George Allen to co-chair a commission to reform the criminal justice system and abolish parole in the state.[13] He served on the Board of Visitors of the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg from 1997 to 2005.[14]

He became an independent director of Time Warner (now WarnerMedia) in July 2009.

In 2009, Barr was of counsel to Kirkland & Ellis and joined the firm in 2017.[15]

On December 6, 2018, it was reported that President Donald Trump was considering Barr to be Attorney General.[16][17]

Policy positions

Immigration

As deputy attorney general, Barr successfully challenged a proposed rule by the Department of Health and Human Services to allow people with HIV/AIDS into the United States.[18] He also advocated the use of Guantanamo Bay to prevent Haitian refugees and HIV infected peoples from claiming asylum in the United States.[19]

Crime and security

Social issues

Barr has stated that he believed the constitution was not originally intended to create a right to abortion; that Roe v. Wade was thus wrongly decided; and that abortion should be a “legitimate issue for state legislators”.[8]

Health care reform

Energy and environment

Executive power

Personal life

Barr is an avid bagpiper, an avocation he began at age 8, and has played competitively in Scotland with a major American pipe band; he was a member for some time of the City of Washington Pipe Band.[20]

Barr is a Roman Catholic. He married Christine Moynihan in June 1973, and they have three grown daughters. He is a resident of Virginia.[citation needed]

References … 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_P._Barr

Story 4: United States Net Oil Exporter — First Time Since 1949 — Videos

See the source image

See the source image

OPEC set to curb oil supply? | DW News

The US Is Making Its Mark On The Global Oil Market, But How Long Will It Last?

Study: US Could Be a Net Energy Exporter

Analysts: OPEC Meeting in Vienna to Result in Less Production

The U.S. Just Became a Net Oil Exporter for the First Time in 75 Years

 Updated on 
  • Crude, refined products exports exceed imports in weekly data
  • Shale boom has boosted U.S. crude oil shipments to record
Oil Analyst Sankey Sees OPEC Cuts Stabilizing Market Short-Term
Paul Sankey, analyst at Mizuho, examines what production cuts from OPEC+ can mean to the global oil market.

America turned into a net oil exporter last week, breaking 75 years of continued dependence on foreign oil and marking a pivotal — even if likely brief — moment toward what U.S. President Donald Trump has branded as “energy independence.”

The shift to net exports is the dramatic result of an unprecedented boom in American oil production, with thousands of wells pumping from the Permian region of Texas and New Mexico to the Bakken in North Dakota to the Marcellus in Pennsylvania.

While the country has been heading in that direction for years, this week’s dramatic shift came as data showed a sharp drop in imports and a jump in exports to a record high. Given the volatility in weekly data, the U.S. will likely remain a small net importer most of the time.

“We are becoming the dominant energy power in the world,” said Michael Lynch, president of Strategic Energy & Economic Research. “But, because the change is gradual over time, I don’t think it’s going to cause a huge revolution, but you do have to think that OPEC is going to have to take that into account when they think about cutting.”

The shale revolution has transformed oil wildcatters into billionaires and the U.S. into the world’s largest petroleum producer, surpassing Russia and Saudi Arabia. The power of OPEC has been diminished, undercutting one of the major geopolitical forces of the last half century. The cartel and its allies are meeting in Vienna this week, trying to make a tough choice to cut output and support prices, risking the loss of more market share to the U.S.

American Oil Renaissance

U.S. net imports of crude oil and refined petroleum products

Sources: 1918-1948 courtesy of Michael Lynch and adapted from American Petroleum Institute’s ‘Petroleum Facts and Figures 1959’; for 1949-2017 U.S. EIA ‘Monthly Energy Review’. 2018 and 2019 are forecast from the EIA.

The U.S. sold overseas last week a net 211,000 barrels a day of crude and refined products such as gasoline and diesel, compared to net imports of about 3 million barrels a day on average so far in 2018, and an annual peak of more than 12 million barrels a day in 2005, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

The EIA said the U.S. has been a net oil importer in weekly data going back to 1991 and monthly data starting in 1973. Oil historians that have compiled even older annual data using statistics from the American Petroleum Institute said the country has been a net oil importer since 1949, when Harry Truman was at the White House.

On paper, the shift to net oil imports means that the U.S. is today energy independent, achieving a rhetorical aspiration for generations of American politicians, from Jimmy Carter to George W. Bush. Yet, it’s a paper tiger achievement: In reality, the U.S. remains exposed to global energy prices, still affected by the old geopolitics of the Middle East.

U.S. crude exports are poised to rise even further, with new pipelines from the Permian in the works and at least nine terminals planned that will be capable of loading supertankers. The only facility currently able to load the largest ships, the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port, is on pace to load more oil in December than it has in any other month.

The massive Permian may be even bigger than previously thought. The Delaware Basin, the less drilled part of the field, holds more than twice the amount of crude as its sister, the Midland Basin, the U.S. Geological Service said Thursday.

While the net balance shows the U.S. is selling more petroleum than buying, American refiners continue to buy millions of barrels each day of overseas crude and fuel. The U.S. imports more than 7 million barrels a day of crude from all over the globe to help feed its refineries, which consume more than 17 million barrels each day. In turn, the U.S. has become the world’s top fuel supplier.

“The U.S. is now a major player in the export market,” said Brian Kessens, who helps manage $16 billion at Tortoise in Leawood, Kansas. “We continue to re-tool our export infrastructure along the Gulf Coast to expand capacity, and you continue to see strong demand globally for crude oil.”

— With assistance by Jessica Summers

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-12-06/u-s-becomes-a-net-oil-exporter-for-the-first-time-in-75-years

 

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The Pronk Pops Show 1129, August 21, 2018, Breaking News, Story 1: Former Trump Campaign Manager Paul Manafort, Age 69, Found Guilty of 8 of 18 Counts and Faces 8-12 Years in Prison on Bank and Tax Fraud — Nothing To Do With Trump — Videos — Story 2: Former Trump Personal Attorney Michael Cohen Pleads Guilty to Eight Counts of Campaign Finance Violations, Bank and Tax Fraud — Videos — Story 3: Mueller Investigation Has Found No Evidence of Trump/Russian Collusion and Voters Were Changed By Russians in 2016 President Election — Videos — Story 4: President Trump’s Supporters in West Virginia Still Wild About President As Approval Rating Declines From 50% to 45% — Videos —

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Story 1: Former Trump Campaign Manager Paul Manafort, Age 69, Found Guilty of 8 of 18 Counts and Faces 8-12 Years in Prison on Bank and Tax Fraud — Videos

Paul Manafort found guilty on eight counts

Paul Manafort Convicted: How the Trial Unfolded

Paul Manafort found guilty on eight counts

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Opinion | Is this the worst day of Trump’s presidency?

President Trump’s Very Bad Afternoon Recapped | CNBC

How will the Michael Cohen, Paul Manafort verdicts affect Trump?

Kurtz: Forget the spin, it’s a rough period for Trump

What to know about the Michael Cohen, Paul Manafort verdicts

 

Manafort’s Choices: Work With Mueller, Wish for Trump Pardon, or Die in Prison

It’s not over for the president’s sleazy ex-campaign boss. He’s facing life in prison before his next trial even begins. The only way out is to side with the prosecution or POTUS.

Paul Manafort, the former campaign chairman for President Donald Trump, was convicted of eight counts of tax fraud and bank fraud by a federal jury in Virginia earlier Tuesday.

But it’s far from over for Manafort.

Unlike a typical defendant, Manafort still has several options available to him. His next move, and Trump’s response to it, could have explosive impact on the larger special counsel investigation and on the future of Trump’s presidency.

Next up for Manafort is sentencing. While all eight counts of conviction combined carry a maximum of 80 years in prison, he isn’t going to be locked up until 2098. Federal sentences are determined in part through a calculation based on the defendant’s prior criminal history (for Manafort, none) and the seriousness of the offense (for Manafort, very).

In determining the seriousness of the offense, Judge T.S. Ellis will consider the amount of the fraud, the sophistication of the scheme, and Manafort’s role as a leader. All things considered, Manafort likely faces a sentence of around eight to twelve years in prison. For a 69-year-old man, that could mean life behind bars.

And Manafort isn’t close to done. Mueller could choose to re-try Manafort on the ten counts on which the Virginia jury hung. That seems unlikely; Manafort’s sentence is hardly affected at all by the remaining hung counts, and Mueller’s team got all it needed from the eight counts of conviction.

Beyond that, Manafort goes on trial again next month in Washington, D.C. on an impressively well-rounded array of white-collar federal crimes. The indictment charges that Manafort worked as an unregistered foreign lobbyist in the United States, laundered millions of dollars through foreign bank accounts, lied to the Department of Justice, and—after he was charged with all of this—tried to tamper with witnesses, which got him thrown in jail pending trial in Virginia. Even if Manafort is acquitted in Washington, D.C. on all counts, it would have zero effect on the sentence he will receive on his conviction in Virginia. And if he gets convicted again in the second trial, his sentence could increase.

In short, Manafort now has been convicted in Virginia and he is looking at a scary-long sentence for a man of his age. The upcoming D.C. trial can only make that worse for him. So what options does he have left? And what are Trump’s potential responses to each course of action?

First, Manafort could just take his sentence and go to jail for the next decade or so. Sure, he will appeal (everybody does after trial), but the likelihood of the jury’s verdict being overturned is slim. Manafort also will ask the judge for a lenient sentence, but that request seems unlikely to succeed given the strength of the prosecution’s evidence and the extent of Manafort’s crimes.

Yet, it seems exceedingly unlikely that Manafort will simply take what’s coming to him. Nobody ever wants to be in prison, never mind potentially to die behind bars. Sometimes career criminals accept the possibility that their conduct will land them in prison for a long time. In the mafia, they’re called “stand-up guys,” and we’ve seen many defendants accept defeat and go off to serve their time. Manafort, sleazy as he might be, is not a hardened criminal, and doesn’t seem likely to grit his teeth and accept his fate in prison.

“Manafort, sleazy as he might be, is not a hardened criminal, and doesn’t seem likely to grit his teeth and accept his fate in prison.”

That leaves Manafort with two potential outs after his Virginia trial.

First, he can try to cooperate with special counsel Robert Mueller. It would be unusual but not entirely unheard of for a defendant to begin cooperating after trial. Defendants typically cooperate before trial because it is mutually advantageous for the prosecution and the defendant to get together as early as possible. Nonetheless, it is possible for a defendant to cooperate after a trial conviction but before sentencing. A sentence like the one Manafort now faces certainly can change a person’s perspective and willingness to flip. Of course, the prosecutor has to be interested as well. Mueller may decide to walk away, thinking: Manafort missed his chance to cooperate long ago, he challenged our case in court, we proved his guilt, and now he gets what’s coming to him.

Or Mueller could decide that Manafort might have information that is valuable enough to justify a post-trial deal. Manafort likely won’t get the same sentencing benefit he would have gotten if he had started cooperating before trial (as his former business partner and co-defendant Rick Gates did), but he still stands to do better than if he never cooperates at all. Manafort seems to be the rare defendant who could have information that is valuable enough to interest Mueller in post-trial cooperation.

We once tried and convicted a high-ranking member of the mafia on a murder charge, which resulted in a life sentence. We believed that that mobster had extraordinarily valuable information on other bosses and several unsolved murders. So we sent an FBI agent into prison to ask whether the gangster might consider cooperating. This defendant was an old-school, hardened guy, so he politely told the FBI agent he’d prefer to die in jail quietly rather than cooperate. The point is that, even though we had convicted this mobster at trial, we still wanted to cooperate him because we believed he had unique, dynamic information.

There is one question about the cooperation option for Manafort: why hasn’t he done it yet? Did Manafort think he could beat this case and the Washington D.C. case, or at least that he could roll the dice before going down the road of cooperation? Or does Manafort fear retaliation if he does cooperate from the Russian-backed oligarchs he once profited from? Cooperation is usually an all-or nothing proposition. A defendant can’t pick and choose which people he gives information about. So cooperation for Manafort likely would require him to divulge any incriminating information he knows about Putin-backed oligarchs, which may seem like a scary proposition.

Manafort’s second potential out would be a presidential pardon. This would, of course, be the optimal result for Manafort. His conviction and sentence, and any pending charges, would be wiped away. He would not go to prison; in fact, he would be released from his current incarceration, which he earned by trying to tamper with witnesses while on bail. Most importantly, a pardon would greatly reduce any incentive Manafort otherwise might have to cooperate with Mueller.

(A pardon may not completely eliminate that incentive because it remains an open question whether state charges could be brought against Manafort even after a presidential pardon; plus Manafort still faces the D.C. trial in September, which may or may not be precluded by a pardon).

While legal scholars have raised the important question of whether a pardon by Trump under these circumstances would be legitimate, there currently is no known legal mechanism to un-pardon somebody because, of course, courts have never been asked to rule on that question.

“Cooperation for Manafort likely would require him to divulge any incriminating information he knows about Putin-backed oligarchs, which may seem like a scary proposition.”

All of which raises a crucial question: would a Trump pardon of Manafort constitute obstruction of justice? Taken along with Trump’s other bursts of explicitly obstructive conduct—firing Comey and telling Lester Holt he did it because of Russia, asking Comey to go easy on Michael Flynn, trying to berate Jeff Sessions into resigning so a new Attorney General can step in and fire Rod Rosenstein and/or Mueller—it is eminently clear that Trump’s real goal in issuing a pardon would be to silence Manafort. To that end, Trump faces two competing concerns. He surely wants to prevent Manafort from cooperating with Mueller, but he also likely wants to use the pardon only as a last resort because of the legal and political risks.

To mitigate the legal risk, Trump already appears to be laying a foundation to justify a Manafort pardon as something other than an obstructive act.

When the federal judge in Washington, D.C. sent Manafort to prison pending trial in June, Trump tweeted: “Wow, what a tough sentence for Paul Manafort… Very unfair!” (Note: it wasn’t a sentence, it was a revocation of bail). In another tweet, Trump drew a bizarre comparison between Manafort and famed gangster Al Capone, seemingly to argue that Manafort has been treated unfairly. Most egregiously, just last week, Trump—while the Manafort jury was in the midst of deliberations—told reporters that Manafort is a “good person” and that his trial is “a very sad day for our country.”

If an attorney in the case had made the same public statements during jury deliberations, the judge likely would have imposed sanctions for breaching ethics rules prohibiting public statements outside the courtroom that might influence a jury. (In fact, Manafort’s attorney—opportunistically, and on the razor’s edge of his own misconduct—embraced the president’s remarks, smugly telling the media, “It’s great to have the support of the president of the United States”). What’s the point of these statements by Trump? They allow him at least to claim that he did not pardon Manafort to prevent cooperation or to obstruct justice, but rather to remedy a perceived injustice.

Trump may be sending signals to Manafort through these tweets, by “dangling” pardons through his then-lawyer, John Dowd, and by issuing a series of pardons in other high-profile cases to Scooter Libby, Joe Arpaio and others. By these actions, Trump seems to be saying, “Paul, I’m going to take care of you—but first you just need to keep your mouth shut and let things cool down a little, at least until after midterms.”

Of course, if such an agreement were spoken out loud—if Trump and Manafort agreed that Manafort would be rewarded with a pardon if he kept quiet—that almost certainly would be obstruction of justice. Even in the absence of an explicit agreement, a pardon taken together with other evidence already in the public record might prove Trump’s larger intent to obstruct the Russia investigation as a whole.

Trump, then, faces a difficult and crucial choice. He can grant a pardon to Manafort, which carries serious risks, both legally and politically. Or, if Trump doesn’t issue a pardon, Manafort might well flip, which could hand Mueller crucial new evidence of wrongdoing by the president and his closest advisors. The questions now are: Which way does the president go? Which way does Manafort go? And, importantly, who blinks first?

https://www.thedailybeast.com/manaforts-choices-work-with-mueller-wish-for-trump-pardon-or-die-in-prison

Paul Manafort

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Paul Manafort
Paul Manafort at 2016 RNC.jpg

Manafort speaks with media prior to the 2016 Republican National Convention.
Born Paul John Manafort Jr.
April 1, 1949 (age 69)
New Britain, Connecticut, U.S.
Education Georgetown University (BSJD)
Political party Republican
Criminal charge Five counts of tax fraud, two counts of bank fraud, and one count of failing to disclose a hidden foreign bank account
Criminal status Found guilty on 8 counts; awaiting sentence
Spouse(s)
Kathleen Bond (m. 1978)
Children 2

Paul John Manafort Jr. (born April 1, 1949) is an American lobbyistpolitical consultant, and lawyer. He joined Donald Trump‘s presidential campaign team in March 2016, and was campaign chairman from June to August 2016. In August 2018, Manafort was convicted of five counts of tax fraud, two counts of bank fraud and one count of failure to report foreign bank accounts.[1][2]

He was an adviser to the U.S. presidential campaigns of Republicans Gerald FordRonald ReaganGeorge H. W. Bush, and Bob Dole. In 1980, Manafort co-founded the Washington, D.C.-based lobbying firm Black, Manafort & Stone, along with principals Charles R. Black Jr., and Roger J. Stone,[3][4][5] joined by Peter G. Kelly in 1984.[6]

Manafort often lobbied on behalf of foreign leaders such as former President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych, former dictator of the Philippines Ferdinand Marcos, former dictator of Zaire Mobutu Sese Seko, and Angolanguerrilla leader Jonas Savimbi.[7][8][9] Lobbying to serve the interests of foreign governments requires registration with the Justice Department under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA); however, as of June 2, 2017, Manafort had not registered.[10][11][12] On June 27, he retroactively registered as a foreign agent.[13]

Manafort is under investigation by multiple federal agencies. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has had an active criminal investigation on him since 2014 regarding business dealings while he was lobbying for Yanukovich. He is also a person of interest in the FBI counterintelligence probe looking into the Russian government’s interference in the 2016 United States presidential election.

On October 27, 2017, Manafort and his business associate Rick Gates were indicted by a District of Columbia grand jury on multiple charges arising from his consulting work for the pro-Russian government of Viktor Yanukovych in Ukraine before Yanukovych’s overthrow in 2014.[14] The indictment had been requested by Robert Mueller’s special investigation unit.[15][16] Manafort surrendered and was released on bail confined to house arrest. [17] In June 2018, additional charges were filed against Manafort for obstruction of justice and witness tampering that are alleged to have occurred while he was under house arrest, and he was ordered to jail.[18] In February 2018, a new set of indictments were filed in the Eastern District of Virginia, alleging tax evasion and bank fraud.[19] Manafort was brought to trial on those charges in August 2018, and on August 21 he was convicted on eight out of eighteen charges of tax and bank fraud. A mistrial was declared on the other ten.[20] A separate trial on the District of Columbia charges is scheduled for September 2018.[21]

Early life and education

On April 1, 1949, Manafort was born as Paul John Manafort Jr.[22] in the city of New Britain, Connecticut. Manafort’s parents are Antoinette Mary Manafort (née Cifalu; 1921–2003) and Paul John Manafort Sr. (1923–2013).[23][24] His grandfather immigrated to the United States from Italy in the early 20th century, settling in Connecticut.[25] He founded the construction company, New Britain House Wrecking Company, in 1919 (later renamed Manafort Brothers Inc.)[26] His father served in the U.S. Army combat engineers during World War II[24] and was mayor of New Britain from 1965 to 1971.[7] His father was indicted in a corruption scandal in 1981 but not convicted.[27]

In 1967 Manafort graduated from St. Thomas Aquinas High School, a private Roman Catholic secondary school, since closed, in New BritainConnecticut.[28] He attended Georgetown University, where he received his B.S. in business administration in 1971 and his J.D.in 1974.[29][30]

Career

Between 1977 and 1980 Manafort practiced law with the firm of Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease in Washington, D.C.[22]

Political activities

Manafort greeting President Gerald Ford in 1976

Manafort with President Ronald Reagan and then Vice PresidentGeorge H. W. Bush in 1982

Manafort greeting President Ronald Reagan in 1987

In 1976, Manafort was the delegate-hunt coordinator for eight states for the President Ford Committee; the overall Ford delegate operation was run by James A. Baker III.[31] Between 1978 and 1980, Manafort was the southern coordinator for Ronald Reagan’s presidential campaign, and the deputy political director at the Republican National Committee. After Reagan’s election in November 1980, he was appointed Associate Director of the Presidential Personnel Office at the White House. In 1981, he was nominated to the Board of Directors of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation.[22]

Manafort was an adviser to the presidential campaigns of George H. W. Bush in 1988[32] and Bob Dole in 1996.[33]

Chairman of Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign

In February 2016, Manafort approached Donald Trump through a mutual friend, Thomas J. Barrack Jr. He pointed out his experience advising presidential campaigns in the United States and around the world, described himself as an outsider not connected to the Washington establishment, and offered to work without salary.[34] In March 2016, he joined Trump’s presidential campaign to take the lead in getting commitments from convention delegates.[35] On June 20, 2016, Trump fired campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and promoted Manafort to the position. Manafort gained control of the daily operations of the campaign as well as an expanded $20 million budget, hiring decisions, advertising, and media strategy.[36][37][38] Like most hires in the Trump campaign, Manafort was not vetted.[27]

On June 9, 2016, Manafort, Donald Trump Jr., and Jared Kushner were participants in a meeting with Russian attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya and several others at Trump Tower. A British music agent, saying he was acting on behalf of Emin Agalarov and the Russian government, had told Trump Jr. that he could obtain damaging information on Hillary Clinton if he met with a lawyer connected to the Kremlin.[39] At first, Trump Jr. said the meeting had been primarily about the Russian ban on international adoptions (in response to the Magnitsky Act) and mentioned nothing about Mrs. Clinton; he later said the offer of information about Clinton had been a pretext to conceal Veselnitskaya’s real agenda.[40]

In August 2016, Manafort’s connections to former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych and his pro-Russian Party of Regions drew national attention in the US, where it was reported that Manafort may have received $12.7 million in off-the-books funds from the Party of Regions.[41]

On August 17, 2016, Donald Trump received his first security briefing.[42] The same day, August 17, Trump shook up his campaign organization in a way that appeared to minimize Manafort’s role. It was reported that members of Trump’s family, particularly Jared Kushner who had originally been a strong backer of Manafort, had become uneasy about his Russian connections and suspected that he had not been forthright about them.[43] Manafort stated in an internal staff memorandum that he would “remain the campaign chairman and chief strategist, providing the big-picture, long-range campaign vision”.[44] However, two days later, Trump announced his acceptance of Manafort’s resignation from the campaign after Steve Bannon and Kellyanne Conway took on senior leadership roles within that campaign.[45][46]

Upon Manafort’s resignation as campaign chairman, Newt Gingrich stated, “nobody should underestimate how much Paul Manafort did to really help get this campaign to where it is right now.”[47] Gingrich later added that, for the Trump administration, “It makes perfect sense for them to distance themselves from somebody who apparently didn’t tell them what he was doing.”[48]

Kurdish independence referendum

In mid-2017, Manafort left the United States in order to help organize the Kurdish independence referendum, something that surprised both investigators and the media.[49] Manafort returned to the United States just before both the start of the 2017 Iraqi–Kurdish conflict and his indictment.

Lobbying career

In 1980 Manafort was a founding partner of Washington, D.C.-based lobbying firm Black, Manafort & Stone, along with principals Charles R. Black Jr., and Roger J. Stone.[3][4][5][50] After Peter G. Kelly was recruited the name of the firm was changed to Black, Manafort, Stone and Kelly (BMSK) in 1984.[6]:124

Manafort left BMSK in 1996 to join Richard H. Davis and Matthew C. Freedman in forming Davis, Manafort, and Freedman.[51]

Association with Jonas Savimbi

Manafort has represented Angolan rebel leader Jonas Savimbi.

In 1985, Manafort’s firm, BMSK, signed a $600,000 contract with Jonas Savimbi, the leader of the Angolan rebel group UNITA, to refurbish Savimbi’s image in Washington and secure financial support on the basis of his anti-communism stance. BMSK arranged for Savimbi to attend events at the American Enterprise Institute (where Jeane Kirkpatrick gave him a laudatory introduction), The Heritage Foundation, and Freedom House; in the wake of the campaign Congress approved hundreds of millions of dollars in covert American aid to Savimbi’s group.[52] Allegedly, Manafort’s continuing lobbying efforts helped preserve the flow of money to Savimbi several years after the Soviet Union ceased its involvement in the Angolan conflict, forestalling peace talks.[52]

Lobbying for other foreign leaders

Manafort was a lobbyist for former Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos.

Manafort lobbied on behalf of former Zairean President Mobutu Sese Seko.

Between June 1984 and June 1986, Manafort was a FARA-registered lobbyist for Saudi Arabia[53] The Reagan Administration refused to grant Manafort a waiver from federal prohibiting public officials from acting as foreign agents; Manafort resigned his directorship at OPIC in May 1986.[53] An investigation by the Department of Justice found 18 lobbying-related activities that were not reported in FARA filings, including lobbying on behalf of The Bahamas and Saint Lucia.[53]

Manafort’s firm, BMSK, accepted $950,000 yearly to lobby for then-president of the Philippines Ferdinand Marcos.[54][55] He was also involved in lobbying for Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaïre,[56] securing a 1 million dollar annual contract in 1989,[57] and attempted to recruit Siad Barre of Somalia as a client.[58] His firm also lobbied on behalf of the governments of the Dominican RepublicEquatorial GuineaKenya (earning between $660,000 and $750,000 each year between 1991 and 1993), and Nigeria ($1 million in 1991). These activities led Manafort’s firm to be listed amongst the top five lobbying firms receiving money from human-rights abusing regimes in the Center for Public Integrity report “The Torturers’ Lobby”.[59]

The New York Times reported that Manafort accepted payment from the Kurdistan Regional Government to facilitate Western recognition of the 2017 Iraqi Kurdistan independence referendum.[60]

Involvement in the Karachi affair

Manafort wrote the campaign strategy for Édouard Balladur in the 1995 French elections, and was paid indirectly.[61] The money, at least $200,000, was transferred to him through his friend, Lebanese arms-dealer Abdul Rahman al-Assir, from middle-men fees paid for arranging the sale of three French Agosta-class submarines to Pakistan, in a scandal known as the Karachi affair.[52]

Association with Pakistani Inter-Service Intelligence Agency

Manafort received $700,000 from the Kashmiri American Council between 1990 and 1994, supposedly to promote the plight of the Kashmiri people. However, an FBI investigation revealed the money was actually from Pakistan’s Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI) agency as part of a disinformation operation to divert attention from terrorism. A former Pakistani ISI official claimed Manafort was aware of the nature of the operation.[62] While producing a documentary as part of the deal, Manafort interviewed several Indian officials while pretending to be a CNN reporter.[63]

HUD scandal

In the late 1980s, Manafort was criticized for using his connections at HUD to ensure funding for a $43 million rehabilitation of dilapidated housing in Seabrook, New Jersey.[64] Manafort’s firm received a $326,000 fee for its work in getting HUD approval of the grant, largely through personal influence with Deborah Gore Dean, an executive assistant to former HUD Secretary Samuel Pierce.[65]

Lobbying for Viktor Yanukovych and involvements in Ukraine

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, for whom Manafort lobbied

Manafort also worked as an adviser on the Ukrainian presidential campaign of Viktor Yanukovych (and his Party of Regions during the same time span) from December 2004 until the February 2010 Ukrainian presidential election,[66][67][68]even as the U.S. government (and U.S. Senator John McCain) opposed Yanukovych because of his ties to Russia’s leader Vladimir Putin.[33] Manafort was hired to advise Yanukovych months after massive street demonstrations known as the Orange Revolution overturned Yanukovych’s victory in the 2004 presidential race.[69] Borys Kolesnikov, Yanukovich’s campaign manager, said the party hired Manafort after identifying organizational and other problems in the 2004 elections, in which it was advised by Russian strategists.[67] Manafort rebuffed U.S. Ambassador William Taylor when the latter complained he was undermining U.S. interests in Ukraine.[52] According to a 2008 U.S. Justice Departmentannual report, Manafort’s company received $63,750 from Yanukovych’s Party of Regions over a six-month period ending on March 31, 2008, for consulting services.[70] In 2010, under Manafort’s tutelage, the opposition leader put the Orange Revolution on trial, campaigning against its leaders’ management of a weak economy. Returns from the presidential election gave Yanukovych a narrow win over Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, a leader of the 2004 demonstrations. Yanukovych owed his comeback in Ukraine’s presidential election to a drastic makeover of his political persona, and—people in his party say—that makeover was engineered in part by his American consultant, Manafort.[67]

In 2007 and 2008, Manafort was involved in investment projects with Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska (the acquisition of a Ukrainian telecoms company) and Ukrainian oligarch Dmytro Firtash (redevelopment of the site of the former Drake Hotel in New York City).[71] The Associated Press has reported that Manafort negotiated a $10 million annual contract with Deripaska to promote Russian interests in politics, business, and media coverage in Europe and the United States, starting in 2005.[72] A witness at Manafort’s 2018 trial for fraud and tax evasion testified that Deripaska loaned Manafort $10 million in 2010, which to her knowledge was never repaid.[27]

At Manafort’s trial, federal prosecutors alleged that between 2010 and 2014 he was paid more than $60 million by Ukrainian sponsors, including Rinat Akhmetov, believed to be the richest man in Ukraine.[27]

In 2013, Yanukovych became the main target of the Euromaidan protests.[73] After the February 2014 Ukrainian revolution (the conclusion of Euromaidan), Yanukovych fled to Russia.[73][74] On March 17, 2014, the day after the Crimean status referendum, Yanukovych became one of the first eleven persons who were placed under executive sanctions on the Specially Designated Nationals List (SDN) by President Barack Obama, freezing his assets in the US and banning him from entering the United States.[75][76][77][78][79][80][81][82][83][84][85][a]

Manafort then returned to Ukraine in September 2014 to become an advisor to Yanukovych’s former head of the Presidential Administration of Ukraine Serhiy Lyovochkin.[68] In this role, he was asked to assist in rebranding Yanukovych’s Party of Regions.[68] Instead, he argued to help stabilize Ukraine. Manafort was instrumental in creating a new political party called Opposition Bloc.[68] According to Ukrainian political analyst Mikhail Pogrebinsky, “He thought to gather the largest number of people opposed to the current government, you needed to avoid anything concrete, and just become a symbol of being opposed”.[68] According to Manafort, he has not worked in Ukraine since the October 2014 Ukrainian parliamentary election.[86][87] However, according to Ukrainian border control entry data, Manafort traveled to Ukraine several times after that election, all the way through late 2015.[87] According to The New York Times, his local office in Ukraine closed in May 2016.[41] According to Politico, by then Opposition Bloc had already stopped payments for Manafort and this local office.[87]

In an April 2016 interview with ABC News, Manafort stated that the aim of his activities in Ukraine had been to lead the country “closer to Europe”.[88]

Ukrainian government National Anti-Corruption Bureau studying secret documents claimed in August 2016 to have found handwritten records that show $12.7 million in cash payments designated for Manafort, although they had yet to determine if he had received the money.[41] These undisclosed payments were from the pro-Russian political party Party of Regions, of the former president of Ukraine.[41] This payment record spans from 2007 to 2012.[41] Manafort’s lawyer, Richard A. Hibey, said Manafort didn’t receive “any such cash payments” as described by the anti-corruption officials.[41] The Associated Press reported on August 17, 2016, that Manafort secretly routed at least $2.2 million in payments to two prominent Washington lobbying firms in 2012 on Party of Regions’ behalf, and did so in a way that effectively obscured the foreign political party’s efforts to influence U.S. policy.[12] Associated Press noted that under federal law, U.S. lobbyists must declare publicly if they represent foreign leaders or their political parties and provide detailed reports about their actions to the Justice Department, which Manafort reportedly did not do.[12] The lobbying firms unsuccessfully lobbied U.S. Congress to reject a resolution condemning the jailing of Yanukovych’s main political rival, Yulia Tymoshenko.[89]

Financial records certified in December 2015 and filed by Manafort in Cyprus showed him to be approximately $17 million in debt to interests connected to interests favorable to Putin and Yanukovych in the months before joining the Trump presidential campaign in March.[90] These included a $7.8 million debt to Oguster Management Limited, a company connected to Russian oligarch and close Putin associate Oleg Deripaska.[90] This accords with a 2015 court complaint filed by Deripaska claiming that Manafort and his partners owed him $19 million in relation to a failed Ukrainian cable television business.[90] In January 2018, Surf Horizon Limited, a Cyprus-based company tied to Deripaska, sued Manafort and his business partner Richard Gates accusing them of financial fraud by misappropriating more than $18.9 million that the company had invested in Ukrainian telecom companies known collectively as the “Black Sea Cable.”[91] An additional $9.9 million debt was owed to a Cyprus company that tied through shell companies to Ivan Fursin, a Ukrainian Member of Parliament of the Party of Regions.[90] Manafort spokesman Jason Maloni maintained in response that “Manafort is not indebted to Deripaska or the Party of Regions, nor was he at the time he began working for the Trump campaign.”[90] During the 2016 Presidential campaign, Manafort, via Kiev-based operative Konstantin Kilimnik, offered to provide briefings on political developments to Deripaska, though there is no evidence that the briefings took place.[92][93] Reuters reported on June 27, 2018, that an FBI search warrant application in July 2017 revealed that a company controlled by Manafort and his wife had received a $10 million loan from Deripaska.[94][95]

According to leaked text messages between his daughters, Manafort was also one of the proponents of violent removal of the Euromaidan protesters which resulted in police shooting dozens of people during 2014 Hrushevskoho Street riots. In one of the messages his daughter writes that his “strategy that was to cause that, to send those people out and get them slaughtered.”[96]

Manafort has rejected questions about whether Russian-Ukrainian operative Konstantin Kilimnik, with whom he consulted regularly, might be in league with Russian intelligence.[97] According to Yuri Shvets, Kilimnik previously worked for the GRU, and every bit of information about his work with Manafort went directly to Russian intelligence.[98]

Registering as a foreign agent

Lobbying for foreign countries requires registration with the Justice Department under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). Manafort did not do so at the time of his lobbying. In April 2017, a Manafort spokesman said Manafort was planning to file the required paperwork; however, according to Associated Press reporters, as of June 2, 2017, Manafort had not yet registered.[10][12] On June 27, he filed to be retroactively registered as a foreign agent.[99] Among other things, he disclosed that he made more than $17 million between 2012 and 2014 working for a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine.[100][101]

Homes, home loans and other loans

Manafort’s work in Ukraine coincided with the purchase of at least four prime pieces of real estate in the United States, worth a combined $11 million, between 2006 and early 2012.[102]

Since 2012, Manafort has taken out seven home equity loans worth approximately $19.2 million on three separate New York-area properties he owns through holding companies registered to him and his then son-in-law Jeffrey Yohai, a real estate investor.[103] In 2016, Yohai declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy for LLCs tied to four residential properties; Manafort holds a $2.7 million claim on one of the properties.[104]

As of February 2017, Manafort had about $12 million in home equity loans outstanding. For one home, loans of $6.6 million exceeded the value of that home; the loans are from the Federal Savings Bank of Chicago, Illinois, whose CEO, Stephen Calk, was a campaign supporter of Donald Trump and was a member of Trump’s economic advisory council during the campaign.[103] It was subpoenaed in July 2017 by New York prosecutors about the loans they had issued to Manafort during the 2016 presidential campaign. At the time these loans represented about a quarter of the bank’s equity capital.[105]

The Mueller investigation is reviewing a number of loans which Manafort has received since leaving the Trump campaign in August 2016. Specifically, $7 million from Oguster Management Limited, a British Virgin Islands-registered company connected to Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska, to another Manafort-linked company, Cyprus-registered LOAV Advisers Ltd.[106] This entire amount was unsecured, carried interest at 2%, and had no repayment date. Additionally, NBC News found documents that reveal loans of more than $27 million from the two Cyprus entities to a third company connected to Manafort, a limited-liability corporation registered in Delaware. This company, Jesand LLC, bears a strong resemblance to the names of Manafort’s daughters, Jessica and Andrea.[107]

Investigations

FBI and special counsel investigation

The FBI reportedly began a criminal investigation into Manafort in 2014, shortly after Yanukovich was deposed.[108] That investigation predated the 2016 election by several years and is ongoing. In addition, Manafort is also a person of interest in the FBI counterintelligence probe looking into the Russian government’s interference in the 2016 presidential election.[109][10]

On January 19, 2017, the eve of the Trump’s presidential inauguration, it was reported that Manafort was under active investigation by multiple federal agencies including the Central Intelligence AgencyNational Security AgencyFederal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Director of National Intelligence and the financial crimes unit of the Treasury Department.[110] Investigations were said to be based on intercepted Russian communications as well as financial transactions.[111] It was later confirmed that Manafort was wiretapped by the FBI “before and after the [2016] election … including a period when Manafort was known to talk to President Donald Trump.” The surveillance of Manafort began in 2014, before Donald Trump announced his candidacy for President of United States.[112]

Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who was appointed on May 17, 2017, by the Justice Department to oversee the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections and related matters, took over the existing criminal probe involving Manafort.[109][10][113] On July 26, 2017, the day after Manafort’s United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence hearing and the morning of his planned hearing before the United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary, FBI agents at Mueller’s direction conducted a raid on Manafort’s Alexandria, Virginia home, using a search warrant to seize documents and other materials, in regard to the Russian meddling in the 2016 election.[114][115] Initial press reports indicated Mueller obtained a no-knock warrant for this raid, though Mueller’s office has disputed these reports in court documents.[116][117] United States v. Paul Manafort was analyzed by attorney George T. Conway III, who wrote that it strengthened the constitutionality of the Mueller investigation.[118]

Congressional investigations

In May 2017, in response to a request of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI), Manafort submitted over “300 pages of documents…included drafts of speeches, calendars and notes from his time on the campaign” to the Committee “related to its investigation of Russian election meddling”.[119] On July 25 he met privately with the committee.[120]

congressional hearing on Russia issues, including the Trump campaign-Russian meeting, was scheduled by the Senate Committee on the Judiciary for July 26, 2017. Manafort was scheduled to appear together with Trump Jr., while Kushner was to testify in a separate closed session.[121] After separate negotiations, both Manafort and Trump Jr. met with the committee on July 26 in closed session and agreed to turn over requested documents. They are expected to testify in public eventually.[122]

Private Investigation

The Trump–Russia dossier, also known as the Steele dossier,[123] is a private intelligence report comprising investigation memos written between June and December 2016 by Christopher Steele.[124] Manafort is a major figure mentioned in the Trump–Russia dossier, where allegations are made about Manafort’s relationships and actions toward the Trump campaign, Russia, Ukraine, and Viktor Yanukovych. The dossier claims:

  • That “the Republican candidate’s campaign manager, Paul MANAFORT” had “managed” the “well-developed conspiracy of co-operation between [the Trump campaign] and the Russian leadership”, and that he used “foreign policy advisor, Carter PAGE, and others as intermediaries”.[125][126][127][128] (Dossier, p. 7)
  • That former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych told Putin he had been making supposedly untraceable[129] “kick-back payments” to Paul Manafort, who was Trump’s campaign manager at the time.[130] (Dossier, p. 20)

Manafort has “denied taking part in any collusion with the Russian state, but registered himself as a foreign agent retroactively after it was revealed his firm received more than $17m working as a lobbyist for a pro-Russian Ukrainian party.”[128]

Arrest and indictments

Manafort’s 2018 mugshot

Grand jury indictment against Paul J. Manafort Jr. and Richard W. Gates III, dated October 27, 2017 from United States District Court for the District of Columbia

Manafort and Gates indictment from United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia superseding indictment, dated February 22, 2018

Manafort superseding indictment in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, dated February 23, 2018

On October 30, 2017, Manafort was arrested by the FBI after being indicted by a federal grand jury as part of Robert Mueller‘s investigation into the Trump campaign.[131][132] The indictment against Manafort and Rick Gates was issued on October 27, 2017.[132][133] The charges are: engaging in a conspiracy against the United States,[16][133] engaging in a conspiracy to launder money,[16][133] failing to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts,[16][133] acting as an unregistered agent of a foreign principal,[16][133] making false and misleading statements in documents filed and submitted under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA),[16][133] and making false statements.[16][133] According to the prosecutors, Manafort laundered more than $18 million.[134][133]

Manafort and Gates pleaded not guilty to these charges at their court appearance on October 30, 2017.[135][136] The US government asked the court to set Manafort’s bail at $10 million and Gates at $5 million.[136] The court placed Manafort and Gates under house arrest after prosecutors described them as flight risks.[137] If convicted on all charges Manafort could face decades in prison.[138][139]

Following the hearing, Manafort’s attorney Kevin M. Downing made a public statement to the press proclaiming his client’s innocence while describing the federal charges stemming from the indictment as “ridiculous”.[140] Downing defended Manafort’s decade-long lobbying effort for pro-Russian, former Ukrainian prime minister Viktor Yanukovych, describing their lucrative partnership as attempts to spread democracy and strengthen the relationship between the United States and Ukraine.[141] Judge Stewart responded by threatening to impose a gag order, saying “I expect counsel to do their talking in this courtroom and in their pleadings and not on the courthouse steps.”[142]

On November 30, 2017, Manafort’s attorneys said that Manafort has reached a bail agreement with prosecutors that will free him from the house arrest he has been under since his indictment. He offered bail in the form of $11.65 million worth of real estate.[143] While out on bond, Paul Manafort worked on an op-ed with a “Russian who has ties to the Russian intelligence service”, prosecutors said in a court filing[144] requesting that the judge in the case revoke Manafort’s bond agreement.[145]

On January 3, 2018, Manafort filed a lawsuit challenging Mueller’s broad authority and alleging the Justice Department violated the law in appointing Mueller.[146] A spokesperson for the department replied that “The lawsuit is frivolous but the defendant is entitled to file whatever he wants”.[147] On January 12, Mueller asked U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson to set Manafort’s trial date for May 14, 2018.[148] On January 16, 2018, Jackson denied the government’s date for trial indicating that the criminal trial appears likely to start in September at the earliest.[149] Jackson revealed that a letter from Manafort’s physician was submitted to the court, asking for changes in the conditions of Manafort’s confinement. “While he’s subject to home confinement, he’s not confined to his couch, and I believe he has plenty of opportunity to exercise,” Jackson said.[149]

On February 2, 2018, the Department of Justice filed a motion seeking to dismiss the civil suit Manafort brought against Mueller.[150] Judge Jackson dismissed the suit on April 27, 2018, citing precedent that a court should not use civil powers to interfere in an ongoing criminal case. She did not, however, make any judgement as to the merits of the arguments presented.[151]

On February 22, 2018, both Manafort and Gates were further charged with additional crimes involving a tax avoidance scheme and bank fraud in Virginia.[152][153] The charges were filed in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, rather than in the District of Columbia, as the alleged tax fraud overt actions had occurred in Virginia and not in the District.[154] The new indictment alleges that Manafort, with assistance from Gates, laundered over $30 million through offshore bank accounts between approximately 2006 and 2015. Manafort allegedly used funds in these offshore accounts to purchase real estate in the United States, in addition to personal goods and services.[154]

On February 23, 2018, Gates pleaded guilty in federal court to lying to investigators and engaging in a conspiracy to defraud the United States.[155] Through a spokesman, Manafort expressed disappointment in Gates’ decision to plead guilty and said he has no similar plans. “I continue to maintain my innocence,” he said.[156]

On February 28, 2018, Manafort entered a not guilty plea in the District Court for the District of Columbia. Judge Jackson subsequently set a trial date of September 17, 2018, and reprimanded Manafort and his attorney for violating her gag order by issuing a statement the previous week after former co-defendant Gates pleaded guilty.[157] On March 8, 2018, Manafort also pleaded not guilty to bank fraud and tax charges in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia. Judge T. S. Ellis III of the Eastern District of Virginia set his trial on those charges to begin on July 10, 2018.[158] He later pushed the trial back to July 24, citing a medical procedure involving a member of Ellis’s family.[159] Ellis also expressed concern that the special counsel and Mueller were only interested in charging Manafort to squeeze him for information that would reflect on Mr. Trump or lead to Trump’s impeachment.[160]

Friends of Manafort announced the establishment of a legal defense fund on May 30, 2018, to help pay his legal bills.[161]

On June 8, 2018, Manafort was indicted for obstruction of justice and witness tampering along with long time associate Konstantin Kilimnik.[162] The charges involve allegations that Manafort attempted to convince others to lie about an undisclosed lobbying effort on behalf of Ukraine’s former pro-Russian government. Since this allegedly occurred while Manafort was under house arrest, Judge Jackson revoked Manafort’s bail on June 15 and ordered him held in jail until his trial.[163] Manafort was booked into the Northern Neck Regional Jail in Warsaw, Virginia, at 8:22 PM on June 15, 2018, where he was housed in the VIP section and kept in solitary confinement for his own safety.[164][165][166][167] On June 22, Manafort’s efforts to have the money laundering charges against him dismissed were rejected by the court.[168][169] Citing Alexandria’s D.C. suburbia status, abundant and significantly negative press coverage, and the margin by which Hillary Clinton won the Alexandria Division in the 2016 presidential election, Manafort moved the court for a change of venue to Roanoke, Virginia on July 6, 2018, citing Constitution entitlement to a fair and unbiased trial.[170][171] On July 10, Judge T. S. Ellis ordered Manafort to be transferred back to the Alexandria Detention Center, an order Manafort opposed.[172][173] His trial began on July 31, 2018.[174][175]

On July 17, 2018, the Mueller investigation asked Judge Ellis to compel five witnesses, who had not previously been publicly associated with the Manafort case, to testify in exchange for immunity, and Ellis denied Manafort’s motion to move the trial to Roanoke, Virginia.[176][177] [178]

Trials

The numerous indictments against Manafort have been divided into multiple trials.

Trial in Virginia

Manafort’s trial in the Eastern District of Virginia began on July 31, 2018.[179][174] On August 21, the jury found Manafort guilty on eight of the eighteen charges, while the judge declared a mistrial on the other ten.[20] He was convicted on five counts of tax fraud, one of the four counts of failing to disclose his foreign bank accounts, and two counts of bank fraud.[180] The jury was hung on three of the four counts of failing to disclose, as well as five counts of bank fraud, four of them related the the Federal Savings Bank of Chicago run by Stephen Calk.[181]

Trial in District of Columbia

Manafort’s trial in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia is scheduled to begin in September 2018.[21]

Personal life

Manafort has been married to Kathleen Bond Manafort since August 12, 1978. Mrs. Manafort is a lawyer and an alumna of George Washington University.[182] They have two daughters.

See also

Notes

  1. Jump up^ The individuals on the first list of United States sanctions for individuals or entities involved in the Ukraine crisis are Sergey Aksyonov, Sergey Glazyev, Andrei Klishas, Vladimir Konstantinov, Valentina Matviyenko, Victor Medvedchuk, Yelena Mizulina, Dmitry Rogozin, Leonid Slutsky, Vladislav Surkov, and Victor Yakunovich.[77][80]

References

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Manafort

Story 2: Former Trump Personal Attorney Michael Cohen Pleads Guilty to Eight Counts of Campaign Finance Violations, Bank and Tax Fraud — Videos

How are Republicans and Democrats reacting to Cohen and Manafort charges?

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Michael Cohen pleads GUILTY to paying Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal for their silence ‘at the direction of’ Trump – as president’s own attorney lands stunning blow and admits eight fraud and campaign finance felonies

  • Michael Cohen entered the guilty plea in federal court in New York
  • He said he made the campaign finance violations ‘in coordination and at the direction of a candidate for federal office’ – a reference to Trump
  • Also tax evasion and making a false statement to a bank
  • Documents identify Trump as ‘Individual-1’
  • Federal prosecutors have been investigating Michael Cohen’s income from his taxi-medallion business
  • Investigators have been probing more than $20 million in loans which were made to taxi companies owned by Cohen and his family
  • Cohen made his plea within minutes of a Virginia jury convicting former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort on eight counts following his trial    
  • Prosector: He ‘worked to pay money to silence two women who had information that he believed would be detrimental to the 2016 campaign’
  • Engineered payoff ‘in order to influence the 2016 presidential election’ prosecutors said in charging document 
  • A New York Times report stated he did not agree to cooperate with prosecutors as part of the deal
  • Campaign finance plea points to issue of payment to porn star Stormy Daniels  
  • Cohen, once known as Trump’s ‘fixer,’ has long ties to the Trump Organization 

Longtime Donald Trump lawyer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty in federal court Tuesday to campaign finance violations linked to a porn star and a Playboy model as well as his former boss – and said he did so ‘at the direction’ of a candidate for federal office.

Cohen made the stunning statement linking President Donald Trump to his crimes as he pleaded to eight different counts, including those related to porn star Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal.

Although he didn’t mention Trump by name, Trump’s former lawyer and fixer spoke in open court about a $130,000 payment as well as a deal he helped negotiate with a publisher involving McDougal.

He said he did so ‘in coordination and at the direction of a candidate for federal office,’ CNN reported – in an obvious reference to Trump, his former employer. Federal law bars donors from coordinating with a campaign while placing strict limits on the amount of contributions.

Both women claim they had affairs with Trump, and both got payments, Daniels from Cohen directly and McDougal from a publisher.

Cohen made his plea in open court within minutes of a Virginia jury convicting former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort on eight counts following his trial on tax and fraud charges.

Michael Cohen, former personal lawyer to President Donald Trump, leaves his apartment building, in New York, Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2018. Cohen could be charged before the end of the month with bank fraud in his dealings with the taxi industry and with committing other financial crimes, multiple people familiar with the federal probe said Monday

Video playing bottom right…

As he landed in West Virginia for what was expected to be a raucous campaign rally Tuesday night with his supporters, Trump said he feels ‘badly’ for both Cohen and Manafort. But he didn’t address the explosive developments as his rally began.

But he did mock the Mueller probe before a crowd of supporters.

‘Fake news. Fake. How fake, how fake are they?’ Trump asked rhetorically. ‘Fake news and the Russian witch hunt. We got a whole big combination. Where is the collusion? You know they’re still looking for collusion. Where is the collusion? Find some collusion. We want to find the collusion,’ Trump said.

A federal charging document lays out how Cohen helped deal with a person identified as ‘Individual-1’s relationships with women’ by identifying stories and keeping them from being published.

The documents note that the individual was a candidate for president.

Cohen negotiated $150,000 payment to ‘model and actress’ and made a $130,000 payment to ‘an adult film actress,’ according to the documents stated the offenses he pleaded guilty to. Cohen caused and made the payments ‘in order to influence the 2016 presidential election,’ he is admitting.

The White House didn’t hold a press briefing amid the turmoil, instead confronting reporters only through the safer medium of conference calls. Trump didn’t mention either bombshell development in his speech in West Virginia hours after they occurred.

Cohen as part of the plea gets jail time of up to four years – in a deal that apparently does not include cooperating with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe. Nevertheless, some legal experts were not ruling out cooperation, and he was facing more charges than he pleaded to.

Cohen appeared in federal court on Tuesday following a series of repots he would plead guilty to federal crimes that would land him in jail for up to four years.

According to U.S. attorney Robert Khuzami, Cohen failed to report income of $4.1 million, costing the U.S. Treasury approximately $1.3 million.

He failed to disclose $14 million in dead when he applied for a home-equity loan he used to get funds to pay the porn star.

Khuzami also laid out Cohen’s campaign finance guilty plea as it related to Daniels and McDougal – though he never mentioned the name of the president or the porn star.

‘In addition what he did was he worked to pay money to silence two women who had information that he believed would be detrimental to the 2016 campaign and to the candidate and the campaign,’ Khuzami said.

Cohen leaves court after pleading guilty to eight charges

Cohen pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations 'in coordination and at the direction of a candidate for federal office'

Charging documents lay out millions in unreported income by Cohen

Documents also reference Trump as 'Individual-1'

Documents also reference Trump as ‘Individual-1’

‘In addition, Mr. Cohen sought reimbursement for that money by submitting invoices to the candidate’s company which were untrue and false. They indicated that the reimbursement was for services rendered for the year 2017, when in fact those invoices were a sham. He provided no legal services for the year 2017 and it was simply a means to obtain reimbursement for the unlawful campaign contribution,’ Khuzami said.

‘There is no allegation of any wrongdoing against the President in the government’s charges against Mr. Cohen,’ Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani said in a statement. ‘It is clear that, as the prosecutor noted, Mr. Cohen’s actions reflect a pattern of lies and dishonesty over a significant period of time.’

In addition what he did was he worked to pay money to silence two women who had information that he believed would be detrimental to the 2016 campaign and to the candidate and the campaign

Sources told NBC about the negotiations over a possible plea Tuesday morning, noting that no deal had been reached. Word of the talks followed reports over the weekend that Cohen is being investigated for a $20 million bank fraud.

ABC then reported Cohen had reached an agreement with prosecutors in the Southern District of New York. Cohen surrendered to the FBI in advance of a scheduled 4 pm court appearance, according to CNN.

The campaign finance violations related to the $130,000 payment Cohen made from his own funds to porn star Stormy Daniels, who claims she had an affair with Trump.

Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, claims she had an affair with Trump. Among the charges Cohen will plead guilty to are campaign finance violations in connection to a $130,000 payment he made to Daniels

Five counts of tax evasion. Avoided declaring $4.1 million in income earned in 2012 through 2016, depriving the government of about $1.3 million in tax revenue.

Making false statements to a bank. Failed to disclose a $14 million line of credit when taking out loans, including for the purchase of an $8.5 million summer home. Declared a net worth of $40 million when applying for a home equity loan, omitting the $14 million debt.

Campaign finance violations. Helped deal with ‘Individual-1’s relationships with women’ by identifying stories and keeping them from being published. Negotiated $150,000 payment to ‘model and actress’ and made a $130,000 payment to ‘an adult film actress.’ He caused and made the payments ‘in order to influence the 2016 presidential election.’

He faced up to 65 years in prison for what he is being charged with had he not pleaded guilty.

Trump said in April that he did not know about payments Cohen made to Daniels – although lawyer Rudy Giuliani later said Trump reimbursed his longtime lawyer for the funds.

Cohen admitted the payment was a violation of strict federal limits on political contributions. Prosecutors deemed the payment an in-kind contribution to the Trump campaign since it helped shelve potentially damaging information.

Cohen agreed to jail time as part of the agreement.

Despite the array of charges, jail time, and restitution, Cohen was not expected to reach an agreement to cooperate with authorities, the New York Times reported.

Such a status, if maintained, would spare President Trump from having one of his closest and most knowledgable associates aiding an inquiry the president has termed a ‘witch hunt.’

Nevertheless, Trump faced the political prospect of seeing one of his closest longtime advisors go to jail over serious federal crimes. Just as the news broke on Cohen’s plans, the White House was holding a press call on Trump’s plans to travel the country in support of Republicans.

Cohen was expected to plead guilty to campaign finance violations – a likely reference to a $130,000 payment he made to porn star Stormy Daniels, who claims she had an affair with Trump

Cohen also negotiated a $150,000 payment by American Media Inc. to former Playboy cover model Karen McDougal, who claims she had a year-long affair with Trump

Cohen pleaded guilty to a campaign finance violation in relation to a $150,000 payment that American Media Inc. made to Playboy model Karen McDougal. AMI publisher David Pecker (c) was part of the deal

Prosecutors in Cohen were negotiating with a man involved in myriad business and political deals involving the president, including the negotiation of a non-disclosure agreement with porn star Stormy Daniels, and talks on an effort to build a Trump Tower in Moscow that fell through.

However, the New York Times reported Tuesday afternoon that the deal did not include an agreement to cooperate.

Cohen in June resigned his post as deputy finance chair of the Republican National Committee once it came out he was under criminal investigation

ROBERT MUELLER’S PROBE SO FAR: SEVEN CONVICTIONS – INCLUDING THREE TOP TRUMP AIDES, A JAILED ATTORNEY AND 25 RUSSIANS ACCUSED

GUILTY: MICHAEL FLYNN 

Pleaded guilty to making false statements in December 2017. Awaiting sentence

Flynn was President Trump’s former National Security Advisor and Robert Mueller’s most senior scalp to date. He previously served when he was a three star general as President Obama’s director of the Defense Intelligence Agency but was fired. 

He admitted to lying to special counsel investigators about his conversations with a Russian ambassador in December 2016. He has agreed to cooperate with the special counsel investigation.

GUILTY: MICHAEL COHEN

Pleaded guilty to eight counts including fraud and two campaign finance violations in August 2018. Awaiting sentence

Cohen was Trump’s longtime personal attorney, starting working for him and the Trump Organization in 2007. He is the longest-serving member of Trump’s inner circle to be implicated by Mueller. Cohen professed unswerving devotion to Trump – and organized payments to silence two women who alleged they had sex with the-then candidate: porn star Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal.He admitted that payments to both women were felony campaign finance violations – and admitted that he acted at the ‘direction’ of ‘Candidate-1’: Donald Trump.

He also admitted tax fraud by lying about his income from loans he made, money from  taxi medallions he owned, and other sources of income, at a cost to the Treasury of $1.3 million.

Campaign role: Paul Manafort chaired Trump's campaign for four months - which included the Republican National Convention in Cleveland in 2016, where he appeared on stage beside Trump who was preparing  to formally accept the Republican nomination

GUILTY: PAUL MANAFORT

Found guilty of eight charges of bank and tax fraud in August 2018. Awaiting sentence and second trial

Manafort worked for Trump’s campaign from March 2016 and chaired it from June to August 2016, overseeing Trump being adopted as Republican candidate at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. He is the most senior campaign official to be implicated by Mueller. Manafort was one of Washington D.C.’s longest-term and most influential lobbyists but in 2015, his money dried up and the next year he turned to Trump for help, offering to be his campaign chairman for free – in the hope of making more money afterwards. But Mueller unwound his previous finances and discovered years of tax and bank fraud as he coined in cash from pro-Russia political parties and oligarchs in Ukraine.

Manafort pleaded not guilty to 18 charges of tax and bank fraud but was convicted of eight counts. The jury was deadlocked on the other 10 charges. A second trial on charges of failing to register as a foreign agent is due in September.  

GUILTY: RICK GATES 

Pleaded guilty to conspiracy against the United States and making false statements in February 2018. Awaiting sentence

Gates was Manafort’s former deputy at political consulting firm DMP International. He admitted to conspiring to defraud the U.S. government on financial activity, and to lying to investigators about a meeting Manafort had with a member of congress in 2013. As a result of his guilty plea and promise of cooperation, prosecutors vacated charges against Gates on bank fraud, bank fraud conspiracy, failure to disclose foreign bank accounts, filing false tax returns, helping prepare false tax filings, and falsely amending tax returns.

GUILTY: GEORGE PAPADOPOLOUS

Pleaded guilty to making false statements in October 2017. Awaiting sentence

Papadopoulos was a member of Donald Trump’s campaign foreign policy advisory committee. He admitted to lying to special counsel investigators about his contacts with London professor Josef Mifsud and Ivan Timofeev, the director of a Russian government-funded think tank. 

He has agreed to cooperate with the special counsel investigation.

GUILTY: RICHARD PINEDO

Pleaded guilty to identity fraud in February 2018. Awaiting sentence

Pinedo is a 28-year-old computer specialist from Santa Paula, California. He admitted to selling bank account numbers to Russian nationals over the internet that he had obtained using stolen identities. 

He has agreed to cooperate with the special counsel investigation.

GUILTY AND JAILED: ALEX VAN DER ZWAAN

Pleaded guilty to making false statements in February 2018. He served a 30-day prison sentence earlier this year and was deported to the Netherlands upon his release.

Van der Zwaan is a Dutch attorney for Skadden Arps who worked on a Ukrainian political analysis report for Paul Manafort in 2012. 

He admitted to lying to special counsel investigators about when he last spoke with Rick Gates and Konstantin Kilimnik.

CHARGED: KONSTANTIN KILIMNIK

Indicted for obstruction of justice and conspiracy to obstruct justice. 

Kilimnik is a former employee of Manafort’s political consulting firm and helped him with lobbying work in Ukraine. He is accused of witness tampering, after he allegedly contacted individuals who had worked with Manafort to remind them that Manafort only performed lobbying work for them outside of the U.S.

He has been linked to  Russian intelligence and is currently thought to be in Russia – effectively beyond the reach of extradition by Mueller’s team.

INDICTED: THE RUSSIANS 

Twenty-five Russian nationals and three Russian entities have been indicted for conspiracy to defraud the United States. 

Two of these Russian nationals were also indicted for conspiracy to commit wire fraud and 11 were indicted for conspiracy to launder money. Fifteen of them were also indicted for identity fraud. 

Vladimir Putin has ridiculed the charges. Russia effectively bars extradition of its nationals. The only prospect Mueller has of bringing any in front of a U.S. jury is if Interpol has their names on an international stop list – which is not made public – and they set foot in a territory which extradites to the U.S. 

Statement to the press by U.S. Attorney Robert Khuzami

‘What he did was he worked to pay money to silence two women who had information that he believed would be detrimental to the 2016 campaign and to the candidate and the campaign.’

‘In addition, Mr. Cohen sought reimbursement for that money by submitting invoices to the candidate’s company which were untrue and false. They indicated that the reimbursement was for services rendered for the year 2017, when in fact those invoices were a sham. He provided no legal services for the year 2017 and it was simply a means to obtain reimbursement for the unlawful campaign contribution.’

‘First, these are very serious charges and reflect a pattern of lies and dishonesty over an extended period of time. They are significant in their own rights. They are particularly significant when done by a lawyer. A lawyer who through training and tradition understands what it means to be a lawyer, to engage in honest and fair dealing and adherence to the law. Mr. Cohen disregarded that training. Disregarded that tradition and decided that he was above the law, and for that he is going to pay a very, very serious price …’

‘Mr Cohen made guilty pleas for those campaign violations and those are core violations. These remind us that it is illegal for corps to make contributions to candidates and it is illegal to make contributions in excess of the amount that congress set for individuals. That is a strong message today and we will not fear prosecuting additional campaign finance cases …’

‘We are a nation of laws and the essence of this case is about is justice and that is an equal playing field for all persons in the eyes of the law and that is a lesson that Mr. Cohen learned today and it is a very harsh one for him.’

WHICH CANDIDATE? Cohen said he negotiated the payments 'In co-ordination with, and at the direction of' a candidate for federal office

Cohen’s lawyer Lanny Davis tweeted Tuesday about his client: ‘Today he stood up and testified under oath that Donald Trump directed him to commit a crime by making payments to two women for the principal purpose of influencing an election. If those payments were a crime for Michael Cohen, then why wouldn’t they be a crime for Donald Trump?’

Justice Department guidelines state that a sitting president shouldn’t be charged with a crime while in office, although they could be subject to a court challenge should the government decide to do so.

Numerous legal experts say Trump most likely will avoid getting charged with anything while in office – though he could be charged after he leaves and he could be forced to give testimony in legal matters. The charging documents describe ‘Individual-1’ as being closely involved with Cohen’s efforts. It says Cohen ‘coordinated with one or more members of the campaign, including through meetings and phone calls, about the fact, nature, and timing of the payments’ to women.

News of Cohen’s talks came just as word broke that jurors in the trial of former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort asked the judge overseeing the case a question about how to proceed if they fail to reach a verdict on a single count.

That in turn led to speculation that special counsel Robert Mueller’s team might be on the verge of scoring critical conviction, even if it is on tax and fraud crimes that are not related to the campaign of President Donald Trump.

McDougal was paid $150,000 by American Media Inc., parent company of the National Enquirer

The report on Cohen’s intentions followed a series of maneuvers by Cohen that raised the prospect he might reach an agreement to cooperate with prosecutors. These included praising the FBI agents who raided his home and apartment, and stating boldly that he would do what is best for his family.

He told ABC’s ‘Good Morning America’ last month that: ‘My wife, my daughter and my son have my first loyalty and always will.’ He added: ‘I put family and country first.’

Cohen left his apartment in New York Tuesday dressed in a dark suit and tie.

His new lawyer, Lanny Davis, told NBC he couldn’t comment on an ongoing investigation, having earlier sent signals that Cohen could cooperate. Cohen’s hiring of Davis, who has longtime Democratic ties and advised President Bill Clinton, was one such signal.

Michael Cohen, left, former personal lawyer to President Donald Trump, leaves his apartment building past his doorman, in New York, Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2018. NBC reported he was in talks about a possible guilty plea

Michael Cohen, left, former personal lawyer to President Donald Trump, leaves his apartment building past his doorman, in New York, Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2018. NBC reported he was in talks about a possible guilty plea

Were Cohen to follow through and plead guilty to any alleged violations, it would come as prosecutors were considering filing charges against him that include include bank and tax fraud, as well as violations of campaign finance law, against Cohen by the end of the month, sources told the New York Times.

Investigators are looking into more than $20 million in loans which were made to taxi companies owned by Cohen and his family. The amounts reportedly involved only upped the pressure on Cohen, who was intimately involved with Trump as he navigated a variety of business deals in recent years.

Financial statements showed that Cohen used his 32 taxi medallions, then worth around $1 million each, as collateral for the loans from Sterling National Bank. Melrose Credit Union also supplied some of the loans made to 16 separate companies controlled by the Cohens. Cohen and his wife also personally guaranteed the loans, according to public findings.

Investigators are now looking to determine whether Cohen misrepresented the true value of his assets to obtain the loans.

They are also looking at when the lawyer violated campaign finance laws by arranging hush money deals to secure the silence of women who claimed to have had affairs with Trump.

The FBI raided Cohen’s home and office earlier this year as part of their investigation into his alleged tax fraud.

President Trump's former personal lawyer Michael Cohen is being investigated for a $20 million bank fraud, according to a new report

President Trump’s (left) former personal lawyer Michael Cohen (right) is being investigated for a $20 million bank fraud, according to a new report

Investigators are looking at whether Cohen’s income from his taxi-medallion business was underreported in federal tax returns, The Wall Street Journal reported.

That income reportedly included hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash and other payments over the last five years.

Donald Trump has criticized the probe into his former attorney, calling the raids an ‘attack on our country in a true sense.’

Prosecutors are looking into whether Cohen inflated the value of any of his assets as collateral for bank loans, the Journal reported citing sources familiar with the investigation.

If convicted of tax- and bank-fraud, Cohen, who once said he’d take a bullet for President Donald Trump, could find himself subject to heavy jail time.

That threat could put pressure on Cohen, once known as Trump’s ‘fixer,’ to cooperate with prosecutors if he’s charged with these crimes.

Cohen was Trump’s personal attorney for years and has deep ties to the Trump Organization.

He is reportedly prepared to tell Mueller that the president knew about the infamous June 2016 Trump Tower meeting ahead of time and approved of it.

That meeting was attended by Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, then-Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and a lawyer with ties to the Kremlin who claimed to have dirt on Trump’s presidential rival Hillary Clinton.

Trump has denied he knew about the meeting ahead of time.

But that gathering at Trump Tower has become a central focus of Mueller’s look into what role Russian played in the 2016 presidential election.

Meanwhile federal prosecutors are taking a deep dive into Cohen’s business dealings after Mueller’s team handed over documents discovered in an April 9th FBI raid.

They are looking closely at Cohen’s relationship with Sterling National Bank, which provided financing for his taxi-medallion business. Medallions are the permits taxi drivers need to operate in the city.

Federal prosecutors subpoenaed Jeffrey Getzel, Cohen’s former accountant who was responsible for preparing many of Cohen’s financial statements.

Cohen’s lawyer, Lanny Davis, declined to comment to the newspaper ‘out of respect for the ongoing investigation.’

As of April 2018, Cohen owned 22 medallions in Chicago, and either he or his wife, Laura, controlled 32 medallions in New York City.

Taxi medallions were considered a solid investment that are bought and sold on a secondary market. Some in New York sold for an average $1.25 million per medallion in 2013 and 2014.

But their value has fallen sharply in recent years due to competition from ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft. Some estimate the value of each medallion has dropped to $200,000 to $225,000.

As prosecutors look at whether Cohen under reported his income to avoid federal taxes they’re also examining whether he overstated it in loan applications.

Cohen has previously denied any wrongdoing.

He worked on projects for Trump ranging from Trump Tower Moscow that never got off the ground to a non-disclosure agreement with porn star Stormy Daniels, who claims she had an affair with Trump, and on a deal involving former Playboy model Karen McDougal, who also claimed an affair.

Trump has denied both women’s allegations of a sexual affair.

But Cohen also had his own business dealings including real estate, personal loans and investments in taxi medallions.

Evgeny A. Freidman, a Russian immigrant known as ‘the Taxi King’ and who partnered with Cohen in the taxi medallion business, avoided jail time and got five years probation when he pleaded guilty to tax evasion in May.

As a condition, he is cooperating with prosecutors, who may find him to be a valuable witness as they investigate Cohen on potential tax, campaign finance, and bank fraud charges.

His deal came after an April 9th FBI raid on Cohen’s home, office, and hotel where he was staying. They scooped up 3.7 million digital documents.

If Freidman is able to provide useful information, it might strengthen prosecutors hands if they decide to charge Cohen.

Prosecutors are already combing through Cohen’s financial records, including big payments he got from major firms as he touted his access to President Trump after the elections.

Also under the microscope is his $130,000 payment to porn star Stormy Daniels, who signed a nondisclosure agreement and claims she had an affair with Trump.

The president revealed last week on his financial disclosure that he ‘reimbursed’ Cohen for expenses related to a payment of up to $250,000.

Cohen is under investigation for possible bank fraud. He has said he took out a home equity loan in order to make the payment to Daniels, which he executed through a Delaware LLC he set up in October of 2016, weeks before the presidential election.

Cohen taped Trump discussing payment to Playboy model

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6083533/Cohen-discussing-possible-GUILTY-plea-following-report-alleged-fraud-probe.html

 

Michael Cohen (lawyer)

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Michael Cohen
Trump executive Michael Cohen 012 (5506031001) (cropped).jpg

Cohen in 2011
Born Michael Dean Cohen
August 25, 1966 (age 51)
Long IslandNew York, U.S.
Education American University (BA)
Thomas M. Cooley Law School(JD)
Occupation Lawyer
Political party Democratic (before 2002; 2004–2017)
Republican (2002–2004; 2017–present)
Criminal charge Five counts of tax evasion, one count of making false statements to a financial institution, one count of willfully causing an unlawful corporate contribution, and one count of making an excessive campaign contribution at the request of a candidate or campaign
Criminal status Pleaded guilty to all charges; awaiting sentence
Spouse(s)
Laura Shusterman (m. 1995)

Michael Dean Cohen (born August 25, 1966) is an American attorney who worked as a lawyer for Donald Trump from 2006 until the termination of his employment in May 2018, a month after a federal investigation began. The investigation led to him pleading guilty on August 21, 2018 to eight counts of campaign finance violations, tax fraud, and bank fraud. In his statement before the court, Cohen said he violated campaign finance laws “in coordination with and at the direction of a candidate for federal office,” meaning Trump, “for the principal purpose of influencing the election” for president in 2016.[1]

Cohen served as a vice-president of the Trump Organization and special counsel to Trump,[2] and previously served as co-president of Trump Entertainment and was a board member of the Eric Trump Foundation, a children’s health charity. He joined the Trump Organization after having been a partner at Phillips Nizer.[3]

From 2017 to 2018, Cohen was deputy finance chairman of the Republican National Committee.[4][5]

 

Early life

Cohen grew up in the town of Lawrence on Long Island.[3] His mother was a nurse, and his father, who survived the Holocaust, was a surgeon.[3][6] Cohen is Jewish.[7] He attended Lawrence Woodmere Academy[8] and received his BA from American University in 1988 and his JD from Thomas M. Cooley Law School in 1991.[9]

Career

Legal career and business ventures

Cohen began practicing personal injury law in New York in 1992, working for Melvyn Estrin in Manhattan.[8][10] As of 2003, Cohen was an attorney in private practice and CEO of MLA Cruises, Inc., and of the Atlantic Casino.[11] In 2003, when Cohen was a candidate for New York City Council, he provided a biography to the New York City Campaign Finance Board for inclusion in its voters’ guide, listing him as co-owner of Taxi Funding Corp. and a fleet of New York City taxicabs numbering over 200.[11][12][13] At the time, Cohen was business partners in the taxi business with Simon Garber.[13]

As of 2017, Cohen was estimated to own at least 34 taxi medallions through 17 limited liability companies (LLCs).[13] Until April 2017, “taxi king” Evgeny Freidman managed the medallions still held by Cohen; this arrangement ended after the city’s Taxi and Limousine Commission decided not to renew Freidman’s licenses.[13] Between April and June 2017, the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance filed seven tax warrants against Cohen and his wife for $37,434 in unpaid taxi taxes due to the MTA.[14]

In 2006, Cohen was a lawyer at the law firm Phillips Nizer LLP.[15] He worked at the firm for about a year before taking a job at The Trump Organization.[10]

In 2008, Cohen was named COO of the MMA promotion Affliction Entertainment[16]

Cohen has been involved in real estate ventures in Manhattan, including buying and selling four apartment buildings between 2011 and 2014. The total purchase price of the four buildings was $11 million and the total sales price was $32 million.[10][17] Cohen sold the four properties at above their assessed values, in all-cash transactions, to LLCs owned by persons whose identities are not public.[18] After this was reported by McClatchy DC in October 2017, Cohen said that all four properties were purchased by an American-owned “New York real estate family fund” that paid cash for the properties in order to obtain a tax deferred (Section 1031) exchange, but did not specifically identify the buyer.[17]

In 2015, Cohen purchased an Upper East Side apartment building for $58 million.[10]

Politics

Cohen volunteered for the 1988 presidential campaign of Michael Dukakis,[3] was an intern for Congressman Joe Moakley,[6] and voted for Barack Obama in 2008, though he later became disappointed with Obama.[3]

In 2003, he unsuccessfully ran as a Republican for the New York City Council from the Fourth Council District (a Manhattan district).[19] Cohen received 4,205 votes, and was defeated by Democratic candidate Eva S. Moskowitz, who received 13,745 votes.[20] In 2010, Cohen briefly campaigned for a seat in the New York State Senate.[21][6] He was a registered Democrat until he officially registered as a Republican on March 9, 2017.[22][23]

Relationship with Donald Trump and the Trump Organization

Cohen joined the Trump Organization in 2006.[24] Trump hired him in part because he was already a fan of Trump’s, having read Trump’s Art of the Deal twice, bought several Trump properties, and convinced his own parents and in-laws, as well as a business partner to buy condominiums in Trump World Tower.[10] Cohen aided Trump in his struggle with the condominium board at the Trump World Tower, which led to Trump obtaining control of the board.[10]

Cohen became a close confidant to Trump, maintaining an office near Trump at Trump Tower.[10]

2011

While an executive at the organization, Cohen was known as Trump’s “pit bull.” In late 2011, when Trump was publicly speculating about running for the 2012 Republican Party presidential nomination, Cohen co-founded the website “Should Trump Run?” to draft Trump into entering the race.[6]

In an interview with ABC News in 2011, Cohen stated, “If somebody does something Mr. Trump doesn’t like, I do everything in my power to resolve it to Mr. Trump’s benefit. If you do something wrong, I’m going to come at you, grab you by the neck and I’m not going to let you go until I’m finished.”[25]

2013

In 2013, Cohen sent an email to the satirical news website The Onion, demanding that an article The Onion had published which mocked Donald Trump (“When You’re Feeling Low, Just Remember I’ll Be Dead In About 15 Or 20 Years”) be removed with an apology, claiming it was defamatory.[26][27]

2015

In 2015, in response to an inquiry by reporter Tim Mak of The Daily Beast concerning rape allegations (later recanted) by Ivana Trump about her then-husband Donald Trump, Cohen said, “I’m warning you, tread very fucking lightly, because what I’m going to do to you is going to be fucking disgusting.”[24]

2016

A video of an interview of Cohen by CNN’s Brianna Keilar went viral, in which Cohen said “Says who?” several times in response to Keilar’s statement that Trump was behind in all of the polls.[28][29]

Cohen defended Trump against charges of antisemitism.[7]

In 2016 he was a co-founder, along with Darrell C. Scott, of the National Diversity Coalition for Trump.[30] [31] Peter J. Gleason, a lawyer who filed for protection of documents pertaining to two women with sexual abuse allegations against Eric T. Schneiderman, stated – without offering details or corroborating evidence – that Cohen told him that if Trump would be elected gove