Fast and Furious

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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 —

Posted on August 23, 2018. Filed under: Addiction, American History, Bank Fraud, Banking System, Benghazi, Blogroll, Breaking News, Bribes, Budgetary Policy, Business, Cartoons, Clinton Obama Democrat Criminal Conspiracy, Communications, Congress, Corruption, Countries, Crime, Culture, Deep State, Defense Spending, Donald J. Trump, Donald J. Trump, Donald Trump, Economics, Education, Elections, Empires, Employment, European History, Fast and Furious, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Department of Justice (DOJ), Federal Communications Commission, Federal Government, First Amendment, Fiscal Policy, Foreign Policy, Former President Barack Obama, Free Trade, Freedom of Speech, Genocide, Government, Government Dependency, Government Spending, Health, High Crimes, Hillary Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Hillary Clinton, History, House of Representatives, Human, Human Behavior, Illegal Immigration, Illegal Immigration, Immigration, Independence, Iran Nuclear Weapons Deal, Labor Economics, Law, Legal Immigration, Life, Media, Mental Illness, Military Spending, Monetary Policy, National Interest, National Security Agency, News, Obama, People, Philosophy, Photos, Politics, Polls, Progressives, Public Corruption, Raymond Thomas Pronk, Regulation, Resources, Robert S. Mueller III, Rule of Law, Scandals, Science, Second Amendment, Security, Senate, Social Networking, Social Security, Spying, Spying on American People, Success, Surveillance/Spying, Tax Fraud, Tax Policy, Taxation, Taxes, Terror, Terrorism, Trade Policy, Transportation Security Administration (TSA), Trump Surveillance/Spying, United States Constitution, United States of America, Videos, Wall Street Journal, War, Wealth, Weapons, Weather, Welfare Spending | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

 

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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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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 governor of New York in 2013, the latter would help bring the accusations to public attention.[32]

2017

The Trump–Russia dossier, published in January 2017, alleges that Cohen met with Russian officials in PragueCzech Republic in 2016 with the objective of paying those who had hacked the DNC and to “cover up all traces of the hacking operation”. The dossier contains raw intelligence, and is widely thought to be a mix of accurate and inaccurate information[33][34]. Cohen has denied the allegations against him,[35][36][37] stating that he was in Los Angeles between August 23 and 29, and in New York for the entire month of September.[38]According to a Czech intelligence source, there is no record of him entering Prague by plane, but Respekt magazine and Politico pointed out that he could have theoretically entered by car or train from a neighboring country within the Schengen Area, for example Italy. In the latter case, a record of Cohen entering the Schengen zone from a non-Schengen country should exist, if it occurred.[39][40]

However, on April 13, 2018, the DC Bureau of McClatchy Newspapers reported that Special Counsel Robert Mueller has evidence that Cohen did travel to Prague during the late-summer of 2016, with two sources having confirmed this secret trip. The evidence is said to show that Cohen entered the Czech Republic from Germany, and since both countries are in European Union’s Schengen passport area, Cohen would not have received a passport stamp to enter Czech territory.[41] The following day, Cohen again denied he has “ever been to Prague”.[42][43] Cohen also said that he didn’t travel to the European Union in August 2016.[44]

In late January 2017, Cohen met with Ukrainian opposition politician Andrey Artemenko and Felix Sater at the Loews Regency in Manhattan to discuss a plan to lift sanctions against Russia. The proposed plan would require that Russian forces withdraw from eastern Ukraine and that Ukraine hold a referendum on whether Crimea should be “leased” to Russia for 50 or 100 years. Cohen was given a written proposal in a sealed envelope that he delivered to then-National Security Advisor Michael Flynn in early February.[45]

On April 3, 2017, Cohen was appointed a national deputy finance chairman of the Republican National Committee.[46][47] In April 2017, Cohen also formed an alliance with Squire Patton Boggs for legal and lobbying counsel on behalf of Trump.[48]

In May 2017, amidst expanding inquiries into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election, two congressional panels asked Cohen to provide information about any communications he had with people connected to the Russian government.[49][50][10][51][52] He was also a subject of the Mueller investigation in 2018.[53][54][55]

2018

In May 2018, the BBC reported that Cohen had received a secret payment of between $400,000 and $600,000 from intermediaries for Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko to arrange a meeting between Poroshenko and Trump, though Cohen was not registered as a foreign agent.[56] Cohen and the Ukrainian president’s office denied the allegations.[56]

In May 2018, Rudy Giuliani announced that Cohen was no longer Trump’s lawyer.[57] In July, seized tapes secretly recorded by Cohen of his conversations with Trump about hush payments to Karen McDougal were disclosed to the New York Times, seemingly contradicting earlier statements by Trump denying knowledge of the payments[58], and raising questions about campaign finance ethics.[58] Cohen also asserted that then Candidate Trump knew in advance about the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting between his son, Donald Jr. and other Trump campaign officials with Russians who claimed to possess information damaging to the Hillary Clinton campaign, contradicting the President’s repeated denials that he was aware of the meeting until long after it had taken place.[59]

In June 2018, Cohen resigned as deputy finance chairman of the Republican National Committee. His resignation letter cited the ongoing investigations and also criticized the Trump administration’s policy of separating undocumented families at the border.[5]

Payment to Stormy Daniels

In the fall of 2016, adult film actress Stephanie Clifford (better known by her stage name Stormy Daniels) was speaking to some reporters about her allegation that she had had a sexual affair with Trump in 2006. In October, Cohen and her attorney, Keith M. Davidson, negotiated a non-disclosure agreement under which she was to be paid $130,000 for her silence. Cohen created a Delaware limited liability company called Essential Consultants and used it to pay the $130,000.[60] The arrangement was publicly revealed by the Wall Street Journal in January 2018.[61][62]

Cohen told The New York Times in February 2018 that the $130,000 was paid to Daniels from his own pocket, that it was not a campaign contribution, and that he was not reimbursed for making it by either the Trump Organization or the Trump campaign.[63] The Washington Post later noted that, by stating that he used his own money to “facilitate” the payment, Cohen was not ruling out the possibility that Trump, as an individual, reimbursed Cohen for the payment.[64] In April 2018, Trump acknowledged for the first time that Cohen has represented him in the Stormy Daniels case, after previously having denied knowledge of the $130,000 payment.[65]

On March 5, the Wall Street Journal cited anonymous sources recounting Cohen as saying he missed two deadlines to pay Daniels because Cohen “couldn’t reach Mr. Trump in the hectic final days of the presidential campaign”, and that after Trump’s election, Cohen had complained that he had not been reimbursed for the payment. Cohen described this report as “fake news“.[66]

On March 9, NBC News reported that Cohen had used his Trump Organization email to negotiate with Daniels regarding her nondisclosure agreement, and that Cohen had used the same Trump Organization email to arrange for a transfer for funds which would eventually lead to Daniels’ payment.[67] In response, Cohen acknowledged that he had transferred funds from his home equity line of credit to the LLC and from the LLC to Daniels’ attorney.[68]

In a March 25, 2018, interview with 60 Minutes, Daniels said that she and Trump had sex once, and that later she had been threatened in front of her infant daughter, and felt pressured to later sign a nondisclosure agreement.[69][70]

On March 26, David Schwarz, a lawyer for Cohen, told ABC’s Good Morning America that Daniels was lying in the 60 Minutes interview. Cohen’s lawyer sent a cease-and-desist letter claiming Daniels’ statements constituted “libel per se and intentional infliction of emotional distress” to Cohen.[71]

Cohen initiated a private arbitration case against Daniels in February 2018, based on an October 2016 non-disclosure agreement signed by Daniels in October 2016 in exchange for $130,000. Cohen obtained an order from an arbitrator barring Daniels from publicly discussing her alleged relationship with Trump.[72][73] Daniels subsequently brought a lawsuit in federal court against Trump and Cohen, arguing that the non-disclosure agreement is legally invalid because Trump never signed it,[74] Cohen responded by seeking to compel arbitration, which would avoid public proceedings.[73] In April 2018, Cohen filed a declaration in the court saying that he would invoke his Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate himself in the Daniels lawsuit.[75][76]

On May 18, lawyers for Cohen filed an objection for Daniel’s lawyer Michael Avenatti being allowed to represent her in a case involving Cohen, claiming it, the objection, was based on the violations of ethical rules, and local court rules, amongst other issues.[77]

Recording of discussion regarding Karen McDougal

In 2016, Karen McDougal, a former Playboy model, claimed that she and Trump had an affair from 2006 until 2007, a claim that Trump has since denied.[78] The National Enquirer paid McDougal $150,000 for her story, but never published it, in a practice known as catch-and-kill.[79] On September 30, 2016, Cohen created Resolution Consultants LLC, a Delaware shell company, to purchase the rights to McDougal’s story from the National Enquirer, though the rights to the story were ultimately never purchased.[80][81]

Cohen had been known to record conversations and phone calls with other people.[82] According to his lawyer Lanny Davis, “Michael Cohen had the habit of using his phone to record conversations instead of taking notes”.[83] Altogether the prosecutors have been given more than one hundred audio recordings from the material seized from Cohen in the April raid, after the Trump team withdrew their claims of privilege for those items; reportedly only one of them features a substantive conversation with Trump.[84] The existence of that tape was revealed on July 20 and the actual recording was released on July 25.[78][85]

On July 20, it was revealed that Cohen secretly recorded a conversation with Trump discussing a potential hush payment to the publisher of National Enquirer. The recording had been classified as a privileged attorney-client communication by the Special Master reviewing the Cohen material, but Trump’s attorneys waived that claim, meaning that prosecutors can have it and use it.[78] The conversation in that tape occurred in September 2016, two months before the election and weeks after the Enquirer paid McDougal the $150,000. In the conversation, Trump and Cohen discuss whether to buy the rights to her story from the Enquirer, and Trump appears to approve the idea. Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, initially claimed that the tape shows Trump saying “make sure it’s done correctly, and make sure it’s done by check”.[78] Giuliani also noted that no payment was ultimately made, and asserted that Trump’s team waived privilege and allowed the recording to be revealed because it shows no violation of law.[78] The recording appears to contradict Hope Hicks, then Trump’s spokeswoman, who said when the story of the Enquirer payment came out a few days before the election that the Trump campaign had “no knowledge of any of this”.[86]

On July 25, Cohen’s attorney Lanny Davis released the actual recording to CNN, which played it on the air on the Cuomo Prime Time program.[85] On it, Trump can be heard concluding a telephone conversation with an unidentified person and then discussing several items of business with Cohen. Cohen mentions that he needs to “open up a company for the transfer of all of that info regarding our friend David,” interpreted as meaning David Pecker, the head of American Media which publishes the National Enquirer.[85] Later when they discuss financing, Trump is heard saying something about “pay with cash”, to which Cohen responds “no, no, no”, but the tape is unclear and it is disputed what is said next; the word “check” can be heard.[85] A transcript provided by Trump’s attorneys has Trump saying “Don’t pay with cash … check.”[87] The tape cuts off abruptly at that point.[88] A lawyer for the Trump Organization said that any reference to “cash” would not have meant “green currency”, but a one-time payment (“cash”) vs. extended payments (“financing”), in either case accompanied by documents. [85] According to Aaron Blake at The Washington Post, “the tape provides the first evidence that Trump spoke with Cohen about purchasing the rights to women’s stories — apparently to silence them — before the 2016 election.”[88]He also notes that Cohen speaks in “somewhat coded language”, which Trump understands, suggesting that he is already familiar with the issue.

Payment to Shera Bechard

In April 2018, The Wall Street Journal reported that Shera Bechard, a former Playboy Playmate, had an affair with married Republican fundraiser Elliott Broidy, got pregnant by him, had an abortion, and was to be paid $1.6 million in so-called “hush money” to stay quiet.[89][90] Broidy is a Republican fundraiser and deputy finance chair of the Republican National Committee.

In a 2018 court proceeding, Cohen said he had given legal advice to only three clients in 2017: Donald Trump, Sean Hannity, and Elliott Broidy.[91] In late 2017, Cohen arranged the $1.6 million payment by Broidy to Bechard as part of a nondisclosure agreement requiring Bechard to keep silent about the matter.[92] Cohen was Broidy’s attorney and Keith M. Davidson represented Bechard.[92] Davidson had previously been the attorney for Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal.[92] The Bechard nondisclosure agreement used the same pseudonyms – David Dennison for the man and Peggy Peterson for the woman – as in the Daniels agreement.[93] The payments were to be made in installments.

On July 6, 2018, Bechard filed a lawsuit against Broidy, Davidson, and Daniels’ attorney Michael Avenatti, claiming the three had breached the agreement in relation to the cessation of the settlement payments.[94][95][96][97]

Essential Consultants LLC

Essential Consultants LLC is a Delaware shell company created by Cohen in October 2016 to facilitate payment of hush money to Stormy Daniels.[60] For many months thereafter, Cohen used the LLC[98] for an array of business activities largely unknown to the public, with at least $4.4 million moving through the LLC between Trump’s election to the presidency and January 2018.[99] In May 2018, Stormy Daniels’ lawyer Michael Avenatti posted a seven-page report to Twitter detailing what he said were financial transactions involving Essential Consultants and Cohen. Avenatti did not reveal the source of his information, which was later largely confirmed by the New York Times and other publications.[99] The data showed that hundreds of thousands of dollars were given to Cohen, via Essential Consultants, from Fortune 500 firms such as Novartis and AT&T, which had business before the Trump administration. It was also revealed that Essential Consultants had received at least $500,000 from a New York-based investment firm called Columbus Nova which is linked to a Russian oligarch. The firm’s largest client is a company controlled by Viktor Vekselberg, a Ukrainian-born Russian oligarch.[99][100][101][102] Vekselberg is a business partner of Soviet-born billionaire and major Republican Party donor, Leonard Blavatnik.[103] A spokesperson for Columbus Nova said that the payment was a consulting fee that had nothing to do with Vekselberg.[99]

Questions were raised about many of the payments, such as four totaling $200,000 that AT&T paid to the LLC between October 2017 and January 2018,[104][105] while at the same time the proposed merger between the company and Time Warner is pending before the Justice Department. AT&T claimed that the money was paid to the LLC and other firms that were used to provide insights into understanding the new administration, and that the LLC did no legal or lobbying work for AT&T.[99][106]

On May 11, 2018, the CEO of AT&T stated that in early 2017 it was approached by Cohen to provide “his opinion on the new President and his administration”. Cohen was paid $600,000 ($50,000 per month) over the year, which its CEO described as “a big mistake”. Novartis was also approached by Cohen and was offered similar services.[107]

Novartis, a Switzerland–based pharmaceutical giant paid the LLC nearly $1.2 million in separate payments.[108] Novartis released a statement May 9, 2018 that it hired the LLC to help the company understand the “health care policy” of the new administration, but it actually did not receive benefit for its investment. The statement continued that Novartis made a decision to not engage Essential Consultants further, but it could not terminate the contract for “cause”, raising concerns on why the company did not pursue reimbursement.[109]

Korea Aerospace Industries paid $150,000,[102] ostensibly for advice on “cost accounting standards”.[109]

Franklin L. Haney agreed to pay Cohen $10 million if he successfully lobbied for the United States Department of Energy to finance the Bellefonte Nuclear Generating Station, or a reduced fee if the funding targets were only partially met.[110]

Federal investigation

Cohen v US – Govt Opposition to TRO Request

As of April 2018, Cohen was under federal criminal investigation by the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York.[111] Possible charges reportedly included bank fraud, wire fraud and violations of campaign finance law.[112]

On April 9, 2018, the FBI raided Cohen’s office at the law firm of Squire Patton Boggs, as well as his home and his hotel room in the Loews Regency Hotel in New York City, pursuant to a federal search warrant.[113][114] The warrant was obtained by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, whose public corruption unit was conducting an investigation.[12] Seeking the warrant required high-level approval from the Department of Justice.[115]The Interim U.S. Attorney, Geoffrey Berman, was recused.[116] Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and FBI Director Christopher Wray – both of whom are Trump appointees – had supervisory roles.[117] The FBI obtained the warrant after a referral from Robert Mueller‘s Special Counsel investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections, although underlying reasons for the raid were not revealed.[115][118] Following the raid, Squire Patton Boggs law firm ended its formal working relationship with Cohen.[119]

Agents seized emails, tax records, business records, and other matter related to several topics, including payments made by Cohen to Stormy Daniels,[115] and records related to Trump’s Access Hollywood controversy.[120]Recordings of phone conversations Cohen made were also obtained.[121] According to Stormy Daniels’ attorney Michael Avenatti and civil rights attorney Lisa Bloom, some of the recordings may have included participants located in California, which would make the recordings illegal, as California is a “two party consent” state.[122]

The search included the seizure of materials normally protected by attorney-client privilege, which is subject to a crime-fraud exception if a crime is suspected.[123] However, some legal scholars opined that Trump’s denial that he had knowledge of the Daniels payment, combined with denials by Cohen and his lawyer David Schwartz, meant both sides had effectively said the matter did not involve attorney-client communications.[124] The search warrant itself has been sealed, making it unavailable to the public.[125] The FBI also sought documents pertaining to Cohen’s ownership of taxi medallions.[12][126] Cohen’s taxi fleet is operated by Gene Freidman, who is facing legal trouble for alleged tax evasion.[127]

A few days after the raid, McClatchy reported that the Mueller investigation was in possession of evidence that Cohen traveled to Prague in August or September 2016. If true, the report bolsters similar claims in 3 of 17 reports from the Trump–Russia dossier. According to McClatchy’s confidential sources, Cohen traveled to Prague via Germany, a passage which would not have required use of a passport due to both countries being within the Schengen Area.[128][129][130] In reaction, Cohen denied having ever been to Prague, as he had done in his January 2017 denial following the dossier’s release.[131][42][43] The Spectator, citing an intelligence source in London, echoed the findings of McClatchy that evidence of Cohen visiting Prague was given to the Mueller investigation.[132] Mother Jones reported that Cohen had told them “I was in Prague for one afternoon 14 years ago”, contradicting later statements that he had never visited.[133]

On May 3, 2018, NBC erroneously reported that Cohen’s phone lines had been wiretapped for weeks before his office, home and hotel room were raided and that at least one call between the White House and one of the phone lines associated with Cohen was intercepted. Later that day, NBC corrected the story to indicate that Cohen’s phone calls had been monitored by pen register, which logs the origins and destinations of calls but not the contents.[134][135]

The Wall Street Journal reported on July 26, 2018 that longtime Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg had been subpoenaed to testify before a federal grand jury regarding the Cohen investigation.[136]

Conviction and afterward

In August 2018, it was reported that investigators were in the final stages of their investigation.[137] Cohen officially surrendered to the FBI on August 21, 2018.[138] That afternoon, Cohen pleaded guilty to eight charges: 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.[139][140][141] The plea deal did not include any agreement to cooperate with investigators.[142] The agreement did include jail time. His sentencing is scheduled for December 12, 2018. The judge said he can be released on $500,000 bail after surrendering his passport and any firearms he owns.[141]

After Cohen’s conviction his personal lawyer, Lanny Davis, stated that Cohen was ready to “tell everything about Donald Trump that he knows”.[143] Davis alluded to Cohen’s knowledge which could be used against Trump, and hinted that Cohen had knowledge of whether Trump knew in advance about the computer hacking that was detrimental to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, as well as knowledge of the meeting at Trump Tower in June 2016.[144] He later added that he believed Cohen would agree to testify before Congress, even without immunity.[145]

Responding to speculation that President Trump might issue a pardon for Cohen, lawyer Davis said on NPR, “I know that Mr. Cohen would never accept a pardon from a man that he considers to be both corrupt and a dangerous person in the oval office. And [Cohen] has flatly authorized me to say under no circumstances would he accept a pardon from Mr. Trump.”[146] In his interview to Sky News, Davis said the turning point for his client′s attitude toward Trump was the Helsinki summit in July 2018 which caused him to doubt Trump’s loyalty to the U.S.[147]

Personal life

Cohen married Ukraine-born Laura Shusterman in 1994.[10][148][149] Laura Shusterman’s father, Fima Shusterman, left Ukraine for New York in 1975.[149] He has a daughter who was attending the University of Pennsylvania as of May 2017.[150][151] His uncle is a family practitioner who gave medical aid to members of the Lucchese crime family.[149]

Before joining the Trump Organization, Cohen had purchased several homes in Trump’s buildings.[6] A 2017 New York Times article reported that Cohen is known for having “a penchant for luxury”; he was married at The Pierre, drove a Porsche while attending college, and once owned a Bentley.[10]

References

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Cohen_(lawyer)

Story 3: Mueller Investigation Has Found No Evidence of Trump/Russian Collusion and No Votes Were Changed By Russians in 2016 President Election — Yes Russians Interfered With 2016 Election — Where Was Obama Administration? — Where is The Evidence of Collusion? — Videos —

Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein: “The indictment charges 13 Russian nationals…” (C-SPAN)

Word for Word: Deputy AG Rosenstein on Indictments of 12 Russian Intelligence Officers (C-SPAN)

Trump calls it a witch hunt – but Mueller just indicted 12 more Russians

What do Mueller’s indictments tell us about what’s next for Russia probe?

Robert Mueller Appointed As Special Counsel To Investigate Russia Collusion

What to Know About the Russia Indictment

Trump-Russia collusion case DOA?

Inconceivable Putin did not know about this: Napolitano

12 Russians indicted, but where’s the collusion?

Special counsel Mueller indicts 13 Russians, Trump denies collusion

Russia is trampling over US interests: Gen. Keane

Revealed: How the 12 Russian hackers indicted by the DOJ used $95,000 worth of Bitcoin to finance their secret bid to swing the 2016 election

  • Hackers fired off fishing emails to Democrats to try and get personal information
  • Used bitcoin payments worth $95,000 to buy domain registrations and servers
  • Spread stolen information on social networks including Twitter and Facebook
  • Used pseudonyms like ‘Kate S. Milton’ and ‘James McMorgans’ to hide identity 
  • One of the hackers spoke directly to long-time Trump confidante Roger Stone 

The indictment on Friday of a dozen Russian military intelligence officers for hacking Democratic Party and Clinton Campaign emails in an effort to sway the 2016 election throws light on a sophisticated operation believed to have close links with Vladimir Putin.

The male hackers adopted pseudonyms from genuine-sounding names like Kate S. Milton and James McMorgans to more bizarre options like djangomagicdev and realblatr as they fired off phishing emails aimed at getting their targets to reveal sensitive information.

This information was then spread through fake social media accounts and websites. Bitcoin transactions worth $95,000 were used to purchase domain registrations and computer servers while maintaining anonymity, according to the indictment.

The 29-page document, drafted by a team overseen by special counsel Robert Mueller, raises some awkward questions for President Trump (seen with First Lady Melania leaving Air Force One after landing in London on Thursday)

Robert Mueller in Washington on June 21, 2017

The document, published by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, says the officers were members of the Russian government’s Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU), which suggests their work was done with the full knowledge of President Putin.

They worked out of two Moscow locations: Unit 26165, located at 20 Komsomolsky Prospekt; and Unit 74455, based in a glass office block on 22 Kirova Street dubbed ‘The Tower’.

The 29-page document, drafted by a team overseen by special counsel Robert Mueller, says that in the months leading up to the November 2016 election, the Russians used fairly simple methods to steal documents from the Democratic Party and the Clinton Campaign.

This including sending emails disguised as Google security alerts containing links to malware, which they then used to steal passwords, track computer usage and monitor banking information.

Information aimed at damaging Clinton’s prospects was then circulated on popular social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook under fake names often claiming to be based on the US.

One of the group’s servers was based in Illinois and, as was usual, bought with bitcoin.

Hackers used phishing emails to target members of the Clinton Campaign and the Democratic Party. Clinton is pictured in Pittsburgh on July 13

Hackers used phishing emails to target members of the Clinton Campaign and the Democratic Party. Clinton is pictured in Pittsburgh on July 13

‘The use of bitcoin allowed the conspirators to avoid direct relationships with traditional financial institutions, allowing them to evade greater scrutiny of their identities and sources of funds,’ the indictment said.

Mueller’s team says the Russians used ‘spearphishing’ – a technique used to steal passwords or otherwise gain access to computers – throughout the summer of 2016 to hack individuals associated with the Clinton campaign.

One attempt noted in the indictment appeared to come hours after Donald Trump suggested Russians look for Clinton’s emails.

On the morning of July 27, 2016, Trump gave a speech in which he said ‘Russia, if you’re listening,’ he’d love to get a look at the thousands of emails Clinton had said she deleted from her tenure as secretary of state.

The indictment points to a hacking attempt that same day, saying that ‘after hours’ the Russians attempted to ‘spearphish for the first time email accounts at a domain hosted by a third-party provider and used by Clinton’s personal office.’

Around the same time, the indictment says, they targeted 76 email addresses at the Clinton campaign’s domain.

The indictment raises questions for President Trump’s long-time confidante Roger Stone, who on Friday acknowledged communicating over Twitter messages with a user called Guccifer 2.0 – identified on the indictment as a Russian agent. Stone insists he did not know this at the time.

Trump’s political opponents have accused Stone of being part of a plot to release material on WikiLeaks, pointing to statements he made in August 2016 suggesting he knew in advance what would appear on the website.

The document says the officers were members of the Russian government's Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU), which suggests their work was done with the full knowledge of President Putin (pictured speaking to President Trump in Vietnam on November 11, 2017)

The document says the officers were members of the Russian government’s Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU), which suggests their work was done with the full knowledge of President Putin (pictured speaking to President Trump in Vietnam on November 11, 2017)

According to the indictment, the Russian hacking operation was so precise that they were able to pinpoint specific computers within the House Democratic campaign arm, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and the Democratic National Committee that stored information related to the election.

They were able to search the computers for certain terms, like ‘Hillary,’ ”Cruz,’ and ‘Trump.’ They also copied folders, including opposition research and field operation plans.

The Russians hid their involvement through fake email addresses and identities and a network of computers located around the world – including in the United States.

The indictment says the Russians hacked the website of a state board of elections and stole the information of roughly 500,000 voters, including names, addresses, partial Social Security numbers, dates of birth and driver’s license numbers.

They also hacked into a national election vendor that supplied software used to verify voter registration information.

Federal officials have said state election sites in at least 18 states were probed by the Russians. The indictment adds county offices – specifically in Georgia, Florida and Iowa – to the list of election administration sites they allegedly visited ‘to identify vulnerabilities.’

Department of Homeland Security officials have said there is no evidence of any election results being tampered with during the 2016 intrusions.

Senator Mark Warner says Trump should not meet Putin one-on-one

 

Story 4: President Trump’s Supporters in West Virginia Still Wild About President As Approval Rating Declines From 50% to 45% — How Many Miles of Trump’s New Beautiful Wall Have Been Built? — None — Slowing Replacing Old Barriers and Fencing — Congress Has Not Funded Trump’s New Wall — Democrats New Theme “America Was Never Great” — Videos

See the source imageSee the source image

See the source image

President Trump EXPLOSIVE Speech at MASSIVE Rally in Charleston, West Virginia – August 21, 2018

Trump holds rally in West Virginia

Trump talks trade, job growth at MAGA rally in West Virginia

NY Governor Cuomo: America was ‘never that great’

America Was NEVER Great?!” Tucker Reacts to NY Governor Cuomo’s Ludicrous Comment

Andrew Cuomo’s comment was despicable: Judge Jeanine Pirro

Joe Piscopo on Andrew Cuomo: I’m sick of people putting down America

Immersive Live Stream: How’s POTUS’ Rally In WV Last Night?

Cohen pleads guilty, what’s next for President Trump? – BBC Newsnight

Is Donald Trump likely to be impeached? – BBC Newsnight

White House Reaction To Paul Manafort And Michael Cohen Indictments | Velshi & Ruhle | MSNBC

Politicians react to Cohen and Manafort convictions

The Wall Is Being Built! (Slowly.)

Construction workers place a section of new bollard wall on the U.S.-Mexico border in Santa Teresa, N.M., April 23, 2018. (Jose Luis Gonzalez/Reuters)

The U.S. government is currently installing sections of Trump’s 30-foot-high wall in three places.The good news for those who wish to see a wall built along the U.S.–Mexican border is that U.S. Customs and Border Protection has built seven miles of 30-foot-high wall in the past few months, and roughly 30 more miles of high fencing are slated for construction.

The bad news is that there’s still a lot of border to go.

New reports from Carlos Diaz, southwest branch chief of the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, indicate that one of the three current wall projects is nearly complete, another is about a quarter of the way done, and one just began earlier this month.

The first border-wall construction project began in February near downtown Calexico, Calif., roughly 120 miles east of San Diego. Here, construction contractor SWF Constructors, of Omaha, Neb., is putting up a 30-foot high “bollard-style wall” to replace 2.25 miles of wall built in the 1990s out of recycled scraps of metal and steel plates. (The bollard style uses bars, so that border patrol officers can see through to the other side.)

When construction began, the agency stated, “Although the existing wall has proven effective at deterring unlawful cross border activity, smuggling organizations damaged and breached this outdated version of a border wall several hundred times during the last two years, resulting in costly repairs.” When construction began, David Kim, assistant chief patrol agent for the Border Patrol’s El Centro sector, emphasized to local media that the construction was not tied to any particular immigration debate in Washington. It was, he said, a “local tactical infrastructure project that was planned for quite some time.”

This wall project, estimated to cost about $18 million, is approaching completion, with roughly 1.8 miles — 1,171 panels – completed as of this week.

In April, CBP began the second section near Santa Theresa, N.M., which is near the Texas–New Mexico state line. 20-mile section of existing vehicle barrier that begins just west of the Santa Teresa Port of Entry and extending westward will be replaced with an 18- to 30-foot-high bollard-style wall. About 5.3 miles, or 3,851 panels, have been completed.

As the name implies, a vehicle fence is not designed to keep people out. It comes in two forms: “Normandy fences” that are metal posts resembling jacks or large X’s, cabled together; or rows of vertical metal posts, tall enough and close enough together to make it impossible to drive a car through them.

The project is expected to cost approximately $73.3 million and will take roughly a year to complete.

The total length of the U.S.–Mexico border is 1,954 miles; as of August 2017, 705 miles have at least one of four kinds of barriers.

At the beginning of June, the CBP began the third project near San Diego, replacing approximately 14 miles of 8- to 10-foot-high scrap metal wall with an 18- to 30-foot bollard-style wall topped off with an anti-climbing plate. The project begins approximately a half-mile from the Pacific Ocean coastline and extends eastward to the base of Otay Mountain in East San Diego County. The project is estimated to cost $147 million; 50 panels have been installed as of June 20.

The total length of the U.S.–Mexico border is 1,954 miles; as of August 2017, 705 miles have at least one of four kinds of barriers: pedestrian primary fence, pedestrian secondary fence, pedestrian tertiary fence, and vehicle fence.

According to the General Accounting Office, the amount of primary and vehicle fencing increased fairly dramatically during the latter years of the Bush administration and in the first year or so of the Obama administration. From 2005 to 2010, the total miles of border fencing on the southwest border increased from 119 to 654 — including 354 miles of primary pedestrian fencing and 300 miles of primary vehicle fencing. But after 2010, construction of new fencing came to a virtual halt.

A map of the fencing completed as of December 2017 shows much of California’s border covered, Arizona heavily dependent on vehicle fencing (183 miles’ worth), with southwestern New Mexico and west Texas having the longest uncovered stretches. This aligns with the areas where the terrain and heat are most difficult for those attempting to sneak over the border.

Brandon Judd, president of the National Border Patrol Council — the labor union that represents U.S. Border Patrol — testified before Congress in April 2017:

I will not advocate for 2,000 miles’ worth of border. That is just not necessary. But what I will advocate for is a border wall in strategic locations, which helps us secure the border. . . . The building of barriers and large fences, a bipartisan effort, allowed agents in part to dictate where illegal crossings took place and doubled how effective I was able to be in apprehending illegal border crossers.

A wall “is not a panacea to illegal immigration and drug trafficking,” he added in his submitted written testimony. “Illegal immigrants and drug traffickers routinely go over, under, and through the existing fencing that we already have in place. Fencing without the proper manpower to arrest those who penetrate it is not a prudent investment.”

https://www.nationalreview.com/2018/06/us-mexico-border-wall-being-built-slowly/#slide-1

 

 

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The Pronk Pops Show 1112, July 23, 2018, Story 1: President Trump All Caps Tweet Directed At Iranian Leadership — Don’t Mess With Trump — Vidoes — Story 2: Trump Explores Revoking Security Clearances of former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper , former National Security Adviser Susan Rice, former CIA Director John Brennan, former FBI Director James Comey, former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe — Trump Should Order Attorney General Session to Appoint Second Special Counsel To Investigate and Prosecute The Clinton Obama Democrat Criminal Conspiracy — Waiting For Mueller Final Report and November 2018 Elections — Videos — Story 3: Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court Failed When Warrant Application Was Approved Allowing Department of Justice, FBI, and Intelligence Community To Spy on American People and Republican Party Based on Clinton Campaign and Democratic National Committee Bought and Paid For Opposition Research Not Disclosed Nor Verified To FISA Court — Videos

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Story 1: President Trump All Caps Tweet Directed At Iranian Leadership — Don’t Mess With Trump — Vidoes

Sanders: Trump won’t stand for empty threats against America

Trump no nonsense approach on Iran is the right strategy: Gen. Jack Keane

Secretary Pompeo remarks on “Supporting Iranian Voices” – Speech only

Iran feeling the strain from Obama’s deal?

Trump weighs in after Iran threatens the ‘mother of all wars’ | In The News

US not afraid to sanction top Iran leaders: Pompeo

U.S. Pushes Confrontation with Iran: Trump Warns of “Consequences,” Pompeo Likens Leaders to “Mafia”

Scott Adams – President Trump’s All-Caps Tweet to Iran

 

Just tough Trump tweeting? US ratchets up Iran pressure

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump’s explosive twitter threat to Iran’s leader comes as his administration is ratcheting up a pressure campaign on the Islamic republic that many suspect is aimed at regime change.

No one is predicting imminent war. But Trump’s bellicose, all-caps challenge addressed to President Hassan Rouhani followed a speech by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in which he accused Iran’s leadership of massive corruption and widespread rights abuses and urged Iranians to rise up in protest.

Trump’s tweet doesn’t appear to have been prompted by any notable shift in rhetoric from Iran.

It could have been an impulsive reaction to reports from Tehran quoting Rouhani as giving the U.S. an oft-repeated reminder that conflict with Iran would be “the mother of all wars.” Yet animosity directed at the Iranian leadership is an established part of the administration’s broader foreign policy.

The White House says President Donald Trump’s threatening tweet shows he’s not going to tolerate critical rhetoric from Iran, but claims the U.S. leader isn’t escalating tensions between the two countries. (July 23)

Iran publicly shrugged off Trump’s late Sunday message — “NEVER EVER THREATEN THE UNITED STATES AGAIN OR YOU WILL SUFFER CONSEQUENCES THE LIKES OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE EVER SUFFERED BEFORE.”

Tweeted Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Monday: COLOR US UNIMPRESSED: The world heard even harsher bluster a few months ago. And Iranians have heard them —albeit more civilized ones_for 40 yrs. We’ve been around for millennia & seen fall of empires, incl our own, which lasted more than the life of some countries. BE CAUTIOUS!”

Asked at the White House if he had concerns about provoking Iran, Trump said simply, “None at all.”

Tehran is already aware of what is coming from the administration as consequences of Trump’s May withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear accord take shape.

As Pompeo noted in his speech to Iranian-Americans and others in California on Sunday, the centerpiece will be the re-imposition of U.S. economic sanctions; the first batch will go back into force on Aug. 4 targeting the Iranian automotive sector and trade in gold and other metals. A more significant set of sanctions that will hit Iran’s oil industry and central bank by punishing countries and companies that do business with them will resume on Nov. 4.

Pompeo also slammed Iran’s political, judicial and military officials, accusing several by name of participating in rampant corruption, and called its religious leaders “hypocritical holy men” who amassed wealth while allowing their people to suffer. He said the government has “heartlessly repressed its own people’s human rights, dignity and fundamental freedoms,” and he hailed the “proud Iranian people (for) not staying silent about their government’s many abuses.”

“The United States under President Trump will not stay silent either,” he said.

He was right. True to form, Trump did not stay silent. But the White House blamed Rouhani for inciting the war of words with his comment that “America must understand well that peace with Iran is the mother of all peace and war with Iran is the mother of all wars.”

“WE ARE NO LONGER A COUNTRY THAT WILL STAND FOR YOUR DEMENTED WORDS OF VIOLENCE & DEATH. BE CAUTIOUS!,” Trump wrote.

Reaction from Congress, particularly Democrats, was swift and critical.

Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, acknowledged that Iran’s terrorist activities in the Middle East pose a threat but suggested it wouldn’t be solved through a tweet from Trump.

“Sadly, after pulling us out of the nuclear deal with Europe and Iran, there doesn’t seem to be strategy for how to move forward to fight Iran’s activities,” she said.

And Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine, the former Democratic vice presidential candidate, called the Twitter blast from the White House “another warning sign that Trump is blundering toward war with Iran.”

Trump’s National Security Council pushed back:

“Our differences are with the Iranian regime’s actions and, in particular, with the actions of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, not the Iranian people. The Trump administration’s Iran policy seeks to address the totality of these threats and malign activities and to bring about a change in the Iranian regime’s behavior.”

“If anybody’s inciting anything, look no further than to Iran,” said White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said. She added that Trump has been “very clear about what he’s not going to allow to take place.”

Trump has a history of firing off heated tweets that seem to quickly escalate long-standing disputes with leaders of nations at odds with the U.S.

In the case of North Korea, the verbal war cooled quickly and gradually led to the high-profile summit and denuclearization talks. Still there has been little tangible progress in a global push to rid North Korea of its nuclear weapons program since the historic Trump-Kim Jong Un summit on June 12.

___

Associated Press writers Nasser Karimi and Amir Vahdat in Tehran, David Rising in Dubai, Aron Heller in Jerusalem, Hyung-jin Kim in Seoul and Michael Casey in Concord, New Hampshire contributed.

___

This story has been corrected to correct Trump tweet: ‘Likes’ of which, not ‘like.’

https://apnews.com/33bbdee2506645859222e0f5252b288f/White-House-blames-Iran-for-war-of-words-with-Trump

 

Story 2: President Trump Explores Revoking Security Clearances of former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper , former National Security Adviser Susan Rice, former CIA Director John Brennan, former FBI Director James Comey, former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe — Trump Should Order Attorney General Session to Appoint Second Special Counsel To Investigate and Prosecute The Clinton Obama Democrat Criminal Conspiracy — Waiting For Mueller Final Report and November 2018 Elections — Videos —

Trump may revoke security clearances for Obama-era officials

Rand Paul urges Trump to pull security clearances

Ex-CIA chief Brennan: Trump’s comments nothing short of treasonous

Rand Paul SHUTS DOWN Trump’s Critics & DESTROYS Obama’s Former CIA John Brennan

Scott Adams – The Newest Reason to Love Rand Paul

Clapper On President Donald Trump Revoking Security Clearance: Very Petty | Hardball | MSNBC

What’s Needed Desperately: Operation Wrath of Trump

Trump looking into revoking security clearances for Brennan, other top Obama officials

President Trump is looking into revoking the security clearances of several top Obama-era intelligence and law enforcement officials, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said Monday, accusing them of having “politicized” or “monetized” their public service.

She made the announcement at Monday’s press briefing, after Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., called on the president to specifically revoke Trump critic and former CIA Director John Brennan’s clearance.

Sanders said Trump is considering it — and also looking into the clearances for other former officials and Trump critics: former FBI Director James Comey, former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former National Security Adviser Susan Rice and former CIA Director Michael Hayden (who also worked under President George W. Bush).

Former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy on the political fallout from the IG report and the Mueller investigation.

Sanders said Trump is “exploring mechanisms” to remove the security clearances “because [the former officials] politicized and in some cases actually monetized their public service and their security clearances in making baseless accusations of improper contact with Russia.”

Sanders added that their clearances effectively give “inappropriate legitimacy to accusations with zero evidence.”

“When you have the highest level of security clearance … when you have the nation’s secrets at hand, and go out and make false [statements], the president feels that’s something to be very concerned with,” Sanders said.

According McCabe’s spokesperson Melissa Schwartz, however, his security clearance had already been deactivated when he was fired.

“Andrew McCabe’s security clearance was deactivated when he was terminated, according to what we were told was FBI policy. You would think the White House would check with the FBI before trying to throw shiny objects to the press corps…,” Schwartz tweeted Monday.

Benjamin Wittes, a friend of Comey’s, tweeted Monday afternoon that he texted the former FBI director, who told him he doesn’t have a security clearance to revoke.

When asked whether former President Barack Obama and former Vice President Joe Biden might have their security clearances revoked, Sanders said she did not have any further information.

FILE - In this June 7, 2017, file photo, FBI acting director Andrew McCabe listens during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing about the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, on Capitol Hill in Washington. McCabe drafted a memo on the firing of his onetime boss, ex-director James Comey. That’s according to a person familiar with the memo, who insisted on anonymity to discuss a secret document that has been provided to special counsel Robert Mueller. The person said the memo concerned a conversation McCabe had with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein about Rosenstein’s preparations for Comey’s firing. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

President Trump is looking into revoking former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe’s security clearance, but McCabe’s spokesman said that clearance had already been deactivated.  (AP)

The topic came into the spotlight Monday morning, with Paul’s tweets against the former CIA director.

“Is John Brennan monetizing his security clearance? Is John Brennan making millions of dollars divulging secrets to the mainstream media with his attacks on @realDonaldTrump?” Paul tweeted early Monday.

Brennan joined NBC News and MSNBC in February as a contributor and senior national security and intelligence analyst. A spokesperson for the networks did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment on Paul’s tweet, which did not list any specific allegations.

The Kentucky Republican, who last week jumped to Trump’s defense as the president faced bipartisan criticism over his summit and press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin, followed up the original tweet by saying:

“Today I will meet with the President and I will ask him to revoke John Brennan’s security clearance!”

Paul’s tweets come as fellow congressional Republicans push for Brennan to testify on Capitol Hill regarding the investigation into Russian meddling and potential collusion with Trump campaign associates in the 2016 presidential election.

The former CIA director has been a consistent and harsh critic of the president, blasting his performance with Putin in Helsinki as “nothing short of treasonous.”

But Brennan is not the only former intelligence official to take to the media world. In April, Comey began a media blitz promoting his new memoir, “A Higher Loyalty,” while Hayden and Rice also frequently make media appearances.

On Twitter, just minutes after the announcement from the White House brieifing, Hayden responded in a tweet to several journalists that a loss of security clearance would not have an “effect” on him.

“I don’t go back for classified briefings. Won’t have any effect on what I say or write,” Hayden tweeted.

Brooke Singman is a Politics Reporter for Fox News. Follow her on Twitter at @brookefoxnews.

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2018/07/23/trump-looking-into-revoking-security-clearances-for-brennan-other-top-obama-officials.html

 

 

Story 3: Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court Failed When Warrant Application Was Approved Allowing Department of Justice, FBI, and Intelligence Community To Spy on American People and Republican Party Based on Clinton Campaign and Democratic National Committee Bought and Paid For Opposition Research Not Disclosed Nor Verified To FISA Court — Videos

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Hannity: FISA court was abused for political gain

Tucker: What the Carter Page FISA application proves

Carter Page reacts to ‘Russian spy’ accusations

DOJ RELEASES CARTER PAGE FISA DOCS

Andrew McCarthy Shocked FISA Application Used As Evidence To Spy On Carter

Judicial Watch urges WH to declassify Page FISA application

Trump calls for end to Russia probe after Carter Page surveillance records released

Bongino: Russia probe is biggest scam in modern US history

Dershowitz: FISA application provides support for both sides

BREAKING: Released FISA Warrants on Carter Page Confirm Obama FBI, DOJ Misled Courts to Spy on Trump

Malloch: My Book Details Deep State’s Plot to Destroy Trump

Ex-Trump adviser: My encounter with Mueller’s investigators

Ted Malloch Detained By FBI? WHY? McMaster, Exposing Assault on Families or His New Book?

FISA Applications Confirm: The FBI Relied on the Unverified Steele Dossier

One-time advisor of Donald Trump Carter Page addresses the audience during a presentation in Moscow, Russia, December 12, 2016. (Sergei Karpukhin/Reuters)

A salacious Clinton-campaign product was the driving force behind the Trump–Russia investigation.On a sleepy summer Saturday, after months of stonewalling, the FBI dumped 412 pages of documents related to the Carter Page FISA surveillance warrants — the applications, the certifications, and the warrants themselves. Now that we can see it all in black and white — mostly black, as they are heavily redacted — it is crystal clear that the Steele dossier, an unverified Clinton-campaign product, was the driving force behind the Trump–Russia investigation.

Based on the dossier, the FBI told the FISA court it believed that Carter Page, who had been identified by the Trump campaign as an adviser, was coordinating with the Russian government in an espionage conspiracy to influence the 2016 election.

This sensational allegation came from Christopher Steele, the former British spy. The FISA court was not told that the Clinton campaign was behind Steele’s work. Nor did the FBI and Justice Department inform the court that Steele’s allegations had never been verified. To the contrary, each FISA application — the original one in October 2016, and the three renewals at 90-day intervals — is labeled “VERIFIED APPLICATION” (bold caps in original). And each one makes this breathtaking representation:

The FBI has reviewed this verified application for accuracy in accordance with its April 5, 2001 procedures, which include sending a copy of the draft to the appropriate field office(s).

In reality, the applications were never verified for accuracy.

What ‘Verify’ Means
Consider this: The representation that the FBI’s verification procedures include sending the application to “appropriate field offices” is standard in FISA warrant applications. It is done because the FBI’s Domestic Investigations and Operations Guide (DIOG) mandates that the bureau “ensure that information appearing in a FISA application that is presented to the [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court] has been thoroughly vetted and confirmed.” (See House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes March 1, 2018, letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, embedded here.) The point is to assure the court that the FBI has corroborated the allegations in the warrant application in the usual way.

A hypothetical shows how this works. Let’s say that X, an informant, tells the FBI in Washington that Y, a person in St. Louis, told him that Z, the suspect, is plotting to rob the bank.

X’s story is unverified; he doesn’t know anything firsthand about Z — he only knows what Y has told him. Obviously, then, the FBI does not instantly run to court and seek a warrant against Z. Instead, the bureau sends an investigative “lead” from headquarters in Washington to the FBI field office in St. Louis. FBI agents in St. Louis then go find and interview Y. Based on that interview, the FBI gathers supporting information (perhaps physical surveillance of Z, scrutiny of available documents and records about Z, etc.). Only then, after debriefing the witness with competent knowledge, do the Justice Department and FBI seek a warrant against Z from the court. In the application, they explain to the judge that they have verified X’s information by interviewing Y and then corroborating Y’s version of events. In fact, if they get solid enough information about Z from Y, there may be no reason even to mention X, whose tip to the FBI was sheer hearsay.

But that is not what happened with the Carter Page FISA warrants.

Were the allegations thoroughly vetted and confirmed by proof independent of Steele before being presented to the FISA court? No, they were not.

The FBI presented the court with allegations posited by Steele. He is in the position of X in our hypothetical. He is not the source of any of the relevant information on which the court was asked to rely for its probable-cause finding that Page was a clandestine agent of Russia. In this context, source means a reliable witness who saw or heard some occurrence on which the court is being asked to base its ruling.

Steele has not been in Russia for about 20 years. In connection with the dossier allegations, he was merely the purveyor of information from the actual sources — unidentified Russians who themselves relied on hearsay information from other sources (sometimes double and triple hearsay, very attenuated from the supposed original source).

In each Carter Page FISA warrant application, the FBI represented that it had “reviewed this verified application for accuracy.” But did the bureau truly ensure that the information had been “thoroughly vetted and confirmed”? Remember, we are talking here about serious, traitorous allegations against an American citizen and, derivatively, an American presidential campaign.

When the FBI averred that it had verified for accuracy the application that posited these allegations, it was, at best, being hyper-technical, and thus misleading. What the bureau meant was that its application correctly stated the allegations as Steele had related them. But that is not what “verification” means. The issue is not whether Steele’s allegations were accurately described; it is whether they were accurate, period. Were the allegations thoroughly vetted and confirmed by proof independent of Steele before being presented to the FISA court — which is what common sense and the FBI’s own manual mean by “verified”?

No, they were not.

There Is No Reason to Believe the Redactions Corroborate Steele
I have been making this point for months. When I made it again in a Fox and Friends interview on Sunday morning, critics asked how I could say such a thing when the warrants are pervasively redacted — how could I be so sure, given all we concededly don’t know, that the redactions do not corroborate Steele?

The critics’ tunnel vision on the redactions ignores the months of hearings and reporting on this core question, which I’ve continuously detailed. Here, for example, is what two senior Judiciary Committee senators, Charles Grassley and Lindsey Graham, wrote in a classified memo early this year after reviewing FISA applications (the memo was finally declassified and publicized over the objections of the FBI):

The bulk of the [first Carter Page FISA] application consists of allegations against Page that were disclosed to the FBI by Mr. Steele and are also outlined in the Steele dossier. The application appears to contain no additional information corroborating the dossier allegations against Mr. Page.

The senators went on to recount the concession by former FBI director James Comey that the bureau had relied on the credibility of Steele (who had previously assisted the bureau in another investigation), not the verification of Steele’s sources. In June 2017 testimony, Comey described information in the Steele dossier as “salacious and unverified.”

Moreover, the FBI’s former deputy director, Andrew McCabe, told Congress that the bureau tried very hard to verify Steele’s information but could provide no points of verification beyond the fact that Page did travel to Russia in July 2016 — a fact that required no effort to corroborate since the trip was unconcealed and widely known. (Page delivered a public commencement address at the New Economic School.) Furthermore, in British legal proceedings, Steele himself has described the information he provided to the FBI as “raw intelligence” that was “unverified.”

I freely acknowledge that we do not know what the redactions say. But we have been very well informed about what they do not say. They do not verify the allegations in the Steele dossier. I have no doubt that they have a great deal to say about Russia and its nefarious anti-American operations. But the FBI has been taking incoming fire for months about failing to corroborate Steele. No institution in America guards its reputation more zealously than does the FBI. If Steele had been corroborated, rest assured that the bureau would not be suffering in silence.

When the government seeks a warrant, it is supposed to show the court that the actual sources of information are reliable.

Plus, do you really think the FBI and Justice Department wanted to use the Steele dossier? Of course they didn’t. They undoubtedly believed Steele’s allegations (the applications say as much). That is no surprise given how much their top echelons loathed Donald Trump. But they were also well aware of the dossier’s significant legal problems — the suspect sourcing, the multiple hearsay. If they had solid evidence that verified Steele’s allegations, they would have used that evidence as their probable cause showing against Page. Instead, they used the dossier because, as McCabe told the House Intelligence Committee, without it they would have had no chance of persuading a judge that Page was a clandestine agent.

Whatever is in the redactions cannot change that.

There Is No Vicarious Credibility
To repeat what we’ve long said here, there is no vicarious credibility in investigations. When the government seeks a warrant, it is supposed to show the court that the actual sources of information are reliable — i.e., they were in a position to see or hear the relevant facts, and they are worthy of belief. It is not sufficient to show that the agent who assembles the source information is credible.

The vast majority of our investigators are honorable people who would never lie to a judge. But that is irrelevant because, in assessing probable cause, the judge is not being asked to rely on the honesty of the agent. The agent, after all, is under oath and supervised by a chain of command at the FBI and the Justice Department; the judge will generally assume that the agent is honestly and accurately describing the information he has gotten from various sources.

The judge’s main task is not to determine if the agent is credible. It is to weigh the reliability of the agent’s sources. Are the sources’ claims supported by enough evidence that the court should approve a highly intrusive warrant against an American citizen?

Here, Steele was in the position of an investigative agent relaying information. He was not a source (or informant) who saw or heard relevant facts. Even if we assume for argument’s sake that Steele is honest and reliable, that would tell us nothing about who his sources are, whether they were really in a position to see or hear the things they report, and whether they have a history of providing accurate information. Those are the questions the FBI must answer in order to vet and confirm factual allegations before presenting them to the FISA court. That was not done; the FBI relied on Steele’s reputation to vouch for his source’s claims.

The FISA Judges
In my public comments Sunday morning, I observed that the newly disclosed FISA applications are so shoddy that the judges who approved them ought to be asked some hard questions. I’ve gotten flak for that, no doubt because President Trump tweeted part of what I said. I stand by it. Still, some elaboration, which a short TV segment does not allow for, is in order.

I prefaced my remark about the judges with an acknowledgment of my own personal embarrassment. When people started theorizing that the FBI had presented the Steele dossier to the FISA court as evidence, I told them they were crazy: The FBI, which I can’t help thinking of as myFBI after 20 years of working closely with the bureau as a federal prosecutor, would never take an unverified screed and present it to a court as evidence. I explained that if the bureau believed the information in a document like the dossier, it would pick out the seven or eight most critical facts and scrub them as only the FBI can — interview the relevant witnesses, grab the documents, scrutinize the records, connect the dots. Whatever application eventually got filed in the FISA court would not even allude en passant to Christopher Steele or his dossier. The FBI would go to the FISA court only with independent evidence corroborated through standard FBI rigor.

Should I have assumed I could be wrong about that? Sure, even great institutions go rogue now and again. But even with that in mind, I would still have told the conspiracy theorists they were crazy — because in the unlikely event the FBI ever went off the reservation, the Justice Department would not permit the submission to the FISA court of uncorroborated allegations; and even if that fail-safe broke down, a court would not approve such a warrant.

It turns out, however, that the crazies were right and I was wrong. The FBI (and, I’m even more sad to say, my Justice Department) brought the FISA court the Steele-dossier allegations, relying on Steele’s credibility without verifying his information.

It turns out, however, that the crazies were right and I was wrong.

I am embarrassed by this not just because I assured people it could not have happened, and not just because it is so beneath the bureau — especially in a politically fraught case in which the brass green-lighted the investigation of a presidential campaign. I am embarrassed because what happened here flouts rudimentary investigative standards. Any trained FBI agent would know that even the best FBI agent in the country could not get a warrant based on his own stellar reputation. A fortiori, you would never seek a warrant based solely on the reputation of Christopher Steele — a non-American former intelligence agent who had political and financial incentives to undermine Donald Trump. It is always, always necessary to persuade the court that the actual sources of information allegedly amounting to probable cause are believable.

Well, guess what? No one knows that better than experienced federal judges, who deal with a steady diet of warrant applications. It is basic. Much of my bewilderment, in fact, stems from the certainty that if I had been so daft as to try to get a warrant based on the good reputation of one of my FBI case agents, with no corroboration of his or her sources, just about any federal judge in the Southern District of New York would have knocked my block off — and rightly so.

That’s why I said it.

https://www.nationalreview.com/2018/07/carter-page-fisa-applications-fbi-steele-dossier/

 

 

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The Pronk Pops Show 1070, May 3, 2018, Story 1: White House National Day of Prayer — Faith, Family, Friends, Freedom ~ First — President Trump’s Address — “I’m praying for you.” — Videos — Story 2: The Great One Mark Levin Tells It Like It Is — Is Anyone In White House and Trump Legal Team Listening? — Videos — Story 3: National Security Agency (NSA) Continues Spying On American People — Secret Surveillance Spying Security State (S5) — Turnkey Tyranny — Videos

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Story 1: National Day of Prayer — Faith, Family, Friends, Freedom ~ First — President Trump’s Address — Videos

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President Trump Speaks at White House’s National Day of Prayer Event – May 3, 2018

President Trump Attends the National Day of Prayer

5/3/18: White House Press Briefing

2018 – Proclamation

NATIONAL DAY OF PRAYER, 2018

– – – – – – –

BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

A PROCLAMATION

On this National Day of Prayer, we join together to offer gratitude for our many blessings and to acknowledge our need for divine wisdom, guidance, and protection.  Prayer, by which we affirm our dependence on God, has long been fundamental to our pursuit of freedom, peace, unity, and prosperity.  Prayer sustains us and brings us comfort, hope, peace, and strength.  Therefore, we must cherish our spiritual foundation and uphold our legacy of faith.

Prayer has been a source of guidance, strength, and wisdom since the founding of our Republic.  When the Continental Congress gathered in Philadelphia to contemplate freedom from Great Britain, the delegates prayed daily for guidance.  Their efforts produced the Declaration of Independence and its enumeration of the self-evident truths that we all cherish today.  We believe that all men and women are created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, including life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  Prayer sustained us and gave us the strength to endure the sacrifices and suffering of the American Revolution and to temper the triumph of victory with humility and gratitude.  Notably, as one of its first acts, our newly formed Congress appointed chaplains of the House of Representatives and Senate so that all proceedings would begin with prayer.

As a Nation, we have continued to seek God in prayer, including in times of conflict and darkness.  At the height of World War II, President Franklin D. Roosevelt called for prayer “for the vision to see our way clearly ‑‑ to see the way that leads to a better life for ourselves and for all our fellow men ‑‑ and to the achievement of His will to peace on earth.”  Decades later, following one of the darkest days in our Nation’s history, President George W. Bush offered this prayer for our heartbroken country, mourning the precious souls who perished in the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001:  “We ask Almighty God to watch over our Nation, and grant us patience and resolve in all that is to come.  We pray that He will comfort and console those who now walk in sorrow.  We thank Him for each life we now must mourn, and the promise of a life to come.”

America has known peace, prosperity, war, and depression ‑‑ and prayer has sustained us through it all.  May our Nation and our people never forget the love, grace, and goodness of our Maker, and may our praise and gratitude never cease.  On this National Day of Prayer, let us come together, all according to their faiths, to thank God for His many blessings and ask for His continued guidance and strength.

In 1988, the Congress, by Public Law 100-307, as amended, called on the President to issue each year a proclamation designating the first Thursday in May as a National Day of Prayer, “on which the people of the United States may turn to God in prayer and meditation at churches, in groups, and as individuals.”

NOW, THEREFORE, I, DONALD J. TRUMP, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim May 3 as a National Day of Prayer.  I encourage all Americans to observe this day, reflecting on the blessings our Nation has received and the importance of prayer, with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities in their houses of worship, communities, and places of work, schools, and homes.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this third day of May, in the year of our Lord two thousand eighteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-second.

DONALD J. TRUMP

http://www.nationaldayofprayer.org/2018_proclamation

Story 2: The Great One Mark Levin Tells It Like It Is — Is Anyone In White House and Trump Legal Team Listening? — Videos —

Mark Levin: Legal precedent is on Trump’s side

Judge Napolitano: Trump can’t be indicted while president

Can a sitting president be prosecuted? Might Donald Trump, or any president, face the prospect of jail?

A memorandum of law, written in 1998 but released last week, concludes that the answer is a qualified “yes.” The memorandum was written by Chapman University law professor Ronald Rotunda, who was then at the University of Illinois, for Kenneth Starr, the independent counsel appointed to investigate President Bill Clinton.

Rotunda’s memorandum is learned, illuminating and impressively detailed. The issue is both tough and unsettled. But there’s a better answer: an unqualified “no.”

The drafters of the Constitution spent a lot of time on the question of how to respond to presidential wrongdoing. Their remedy was impeachment (by the House of Representatives) and then conviction (by the Senate), which could occur for “Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.”

But what happens if the president is convicted by the Senate? Here’s the constitutional answer:

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.

A reasonable interpretation of this provision is that it sets out a temporal sequence: Impeachment, then conviction and removal from office — and only after that, indictment, trial, judgment and punishment.

Alexander Hamilton seemed to read the provision exactly that way: “The President of the United States would be liable to be impeached, tried, and, upon conviction of treason, bribery, or other high crimes or misdemeanors, removed from office; and would afterwards be liable to prosecution and punishment in the ordinary course of law.”

That means you can’t indict and try a sitting president. He has to be removed first.

True, this interpretation isn’t inevitable. You could read the text to mean only that the consequence of conviction is removal from office, and that a convicted president can be prosecuted — but to be silent on, and so not to resolve, the question whether a president can be prosecuted for crimes while in office. On that interpretation, nothing in the Constitution rules out a prosecution of the president for (say) obstruction of justice or for perjury.

Rotunda also emphasizes that a president might commit crimes, such as battery, shoplifting and document destruction, that may not be “high” in the constitutional sense, and so not a legitimate basis for impeachment. If he’s immune from prosecution, does the president get a free ride? Since the founders believed no one should be above the law, Rotunda doesn’t think that makes a lot of sense.

Importantly, though, he does not contend that the president can be prosecuted for actions he undertakes in his official capacity. His conclusion that a sitting president can be prosecuted is strictly limited to actions committed before becoming president, and actions that a president does not undertake in his role as president, such as Clinton’s alleged perjury. (True, the line between the official and unofficial acts can be thin.)

The problem with Rotunda’s argument is that presidential immunity from criminal prosecution — while in office — is a pretty reasonable inference from the constitutional design. Whether or not you like the current occupant of the Oval Office, he has an awesome array of responsibilities. Even on a slow day, numerous decisions reach his desk. They might involve potential terrorist attacks, a looming epidemic, immigration or air pollution. Facing a criminal prosecution seems fatally incompatible with the president’s constitutional role.

Aware of this argument, Rotunda notes that the Supreme Court allowed Paula Jones’s sexual harassment suit to go forward against Bill Clinton, notwithstanding Clinton’s argument that to do his job, a sitting president needs to have immunity against such lawsuits. Among other things, the Supreme Court answered that trial judges could find ways to accommodate the president’s schedule. Why isn’t the same thing true for a criminal prosecution?

That’s a fair question, but a criminal proceeding is unique, and the problem isn’t really about scheduling. Realistically speaking, any White House would be pretty well disabled if the president is under a criminal indictment and faces the prospect of trial and imprisonment.

Rotunda is aware of the risk, and leaves open the possibility that imprisonment itself might be delayed, so that the prosecution would not compete with the impeachment mechanism. But that’s hardly sufficient. The question is whether the president’s ability to perform his constitutional functions would be impaired by the prosecution itself. There’s little doubt that it would.

Does this mean that the president is above the law? Not at all. In cases of serious wrongdoing, and breaches of public trust, the Constitution provides a remedy: impeachment.

Story 3: National Security Agency (NSA) Continues Spying On American People — Secret Surveillance Spying Security State (S5) — Turnkey Tyranny — Videos

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NSA collected 500 million U.S. call records in 2017

America’s Most Secret Agency Documentary | National Security Agency NSA History Documentary

NSA ‘spying’ on Americans with little impact on bad guys?

NSA Whistleblower: Everyone in US under virtual surveillance, all info stored, no matter the post

NSA violating the constitution, public trust by spying on citizens – veteran intel. officer

Why the US Government thinks spying on Americans without a warrant is OK

10 Ways You’re Being Watched by the Government

10 Surprising Ways the Government is Spying on You

Turnkey Tyranny

NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden “My Greatest Fear … is turnkey tyranny”

You’re Being Watched”: Edward Snowden Emerges as Source Behind Explosive Revelations of NSA Spying

Is Snowden The Real Deal

NBC Censors Edward Snowden’s 9/11 Comments

Obama: Spying on Americans

How the NSA Spies on Americans (Jim Harper)

America’s Most Secret Agency Documentary | National Security Agency NSA History Documentary

Bill Binney: U.S. press and CIA are interlinked

Bill Binney: ThinThread dismantled weeks after 9/11

Bill Binney: Impossible to protect ourselves against NSA

Bill Binney: Trump was spied on before taking office

Bill Binney: NSA “drum up a new cold war”

Bill Binney: The constitution is being violated

NSA WHISTLEBLOWER BILL BINNEY: WE HAVE HILLARY’S EMAILS

NSA Whistleblower William Binney: The Future of FREEDOM

William Binney – The Government is Profiling You (The NSA is Spying on You)

Spy agency NSA triples collection of U.S. phone records: official report

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. National Security Agency collected 534 million records of phone calls and text messages of Americans last year, more than triple gathered in 2016, a U.S. intelligence agency report released on Friday said.

 

FILE PHOTO: The National Security Agency (NSA) headquarters is seen in Fort Meade, Maryland, U.S. February 14, 2018. REUTERS/Sait Serkan Gurbuz

The sharp increase from 151 million occurred during the second full year of a new surveillance system established at the spy agency after U.S. lawmakers passed a law in 2015 that sought to limit its ability to collect such records in bulk.

The spike in collection of call records coincided with an increase reported on Friday across other surveillance methods, raising questions from some privacy advocates who are concerned about potential government overreach and intrusion into the lives of U.S. citizens.

The 2017 call records tally remained far less than an estimated billions of records collected per day under the NSA’s old bulk surveillance system, which was exposed by former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden in 2013.

The records collected by the NSA include the numbers and time of a call or text message, but not their content.

Overall increases in surveillance hauls were both mystifying and alarming coming years after Snowden’s leaks, privacy advocates said.

“The intelligence community’s transparency has yet to extend to explaining dramatic increases in their collection,” said Robyn Greene, policy counsel at the Washington-based Open Technology Institute that focuses on digital issues.

The government “has not altered the manner in which it uses its authority to obtain call detail records,” Timothy Barrett, a spokesman at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which released the annual report, said in a statement.

The NSA has found that a number of factors may influence the amount of records collected, Barrett said. These included the number of court-approved selection terms, which could be a phone number of someone who is potentially the subject of an investigation, or the amount of historical information retained by phone service providers, Barrett said.

“We expect this number to fluctuate from year to year,” he said.

U.S. intelligence officials have said the number of records collected would include multiple calls made to or from the same phone numbers and involved a level of duplication when obtaining the same record of a call from two different companies.

Friday’s report also showed a rise in the number of foreigners living outside the United States who were targeted under a warrantless internet surveillance program, known as Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, that Congress renewed earlier this year.

That figure increased to 129,080 in 2017 from 106,469 in 2016, the report said, and is up from 89,138 targets in 2013, or a cumulative rise over five years of about 45 percent.

U.S. intelligence agencies consider Section 702 a vital tool to protect national security but privacy advocates say the program incidentally collects an unknown number of communications belonging to Americans.

 

 

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The Pronk Pops Show 1058, April 10, 2018, Story 1: Facebook’s Founder Mark Zuckerberg Testifies Before Congress — Breach of Trust — Cruz Nails Facebook’s Pervasive Pattern of Political Bias — Is Self-Regulation Really The Answer — Did Facebook Make An Illegal Corporate Inkind Contribution to Assist Obama Campaign in 2012? — Videos — Story 2: Worried About Your Privacy Forget Facebook Worry About National Security Agency Having Most of Your Data And Spying on You? — Videos

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