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2019 American Political Scene

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  • tbm3fan
    replied
    Well if he is limited to one term, and ends up with Articles of Impeachment against him (makes him #4 in history), he will be left to the historians to assess. I wonder if he has any idea how badly he is going to come across in those assessments that will last forever. I would expect good old Grant might be happy when he no longer has to occupy the bottom of the worst list. He is truly one deplorable pos but then always has been...

    Leave a comment:


  • TopHatter
    replied
    Originally posted by astralis View Post
    this guy makes even good news....bad.
    My head hurts just from reading that...even the part where he said "we" captured a dead man, even though I don't expect Trump to know the difference in the first place.

    Leave a comment:


  • astralis
    replied
    this guy makes even good news....bad.

    ====

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/polit...hdadi-is-dead/

    Bigger than bin Laden? 3 striking things about Trump’s announcement that Baghdadi is dead.

    By
    Aaron Blake
    Oct. 27, 2019 at 11:07 a.m. EDT
    President Trump announced Sunday morning that a U.S. operation in Syria led to the death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State. Three things about the announcement were striking.

    First is the amount of detail Trump provided — far more than to which we’re accustomed in such announcements. He talked about how long he knew about the operation, when he showed up in the Situation Room, how the operation was undertaken and how everyone died — including Baghdadi’s wives and children. He even provided some narrative of the deadly moment.

    He said Baghdadi was run down in a tunnel and that he had three of his children with him. Trump said Baghdadi was “whimpering and crying and screaming all the way” before detonating a vest he was wearing.

    Trump: ISIS leader Baghdadi 'was screaming, crying and whimpering'
    Speaking to reporters Oct. 27, President Trump said Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi died "scared out of his mind." (The Washington Post)
    Asked how he knew what Baghdadi was doing in the moments before his death, Trump demurred. “I don’t want to talk about it, but he was screaming, crying and whimpering,” said the president, who repeatedly called Baghdadi a “coward.” “And he was scared out of his mind.”

    Second is the role the Kurds and Russia played.

    In the hours before Trump’s news conference, the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces said it was a joint operation between them and the United States.

    Trump portrayed the U.S.-allied Kurds, who have carried the brunt of the recent U.S. withdrawal from northern Syria and whose value as allies Trump has minimized, as playing more of a bit part.

    When Trump initially thanked others, in fact, he mentioned Russia first, then Syria, Turkey and Iraq.
    He added that there was also “certain support [the Kurds] were able to give us.”

    Later, Trump would credit Russia first in the news conference, saying it was “great” and that Iraq was “excellent.”

    He also disclosed that Russia was given a heads-up about the operation, even as top Democrats in Congress were not. “We told them, ‘We’re coming in.’ … And they said, ‘Thank you for telling us,’ ” Trump said. He added, “They did not know the mission.”


    Trump said, however, that he didn’t tell House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) because he worried about leaks spoiling the operation. Before the news conference, there were reports that Trump also hadn’t notified House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), who is a leader of the impeachment inquiry against Trump but would generally be a member of Congress you’d inform about these things.

    Trump seems to be indicating that he trusts Russia with this information more than congressional Democrats, which will be a talking point in the days ahead. He also seems to be placing Russia ahead of the Kurds, even though Russia wasn’t actually involved in the mission, which seems a conspicuous choice.

    The third striking thing is the credit-taking. Trump wasn’t initially very forward about how much credit he thought he deserved for this. As he took questions, it was clear what he was angling for.

    Most significantly, he repeatedly alluded to the idea that Baghdadi’s death was a bigger moment than Osama bin Laden’s.
    Bin Laden was killed in 2011 on President Barack Obama’s watch, and Trump at the time accused Obama of taking credit for it.

    “This is the biggest one perhaps that we’ve ever captured,” Trump said Sunday, early in the question-and-answer portion of the news conference.

    Later, he added: “This is the biggest there is. This is the worst ever. Osama bin Laden was big, but Osama bin Laden became big with the World Trade Center. This is a man who built a whole, as he would like to call it, a country."

    Trump also returned to his wildly exaggerated claim that he had warned people about a bin Laden attack in a book a year before the Sept. 11, 2001, strikes. One line about that showed just how much credit Trump intends on taking for all this in the days and months ahead.

    “I don’t get any credit for” the bin Laden warnings, he said. “But that’s okay. I never do. But here we are.”

    Leave a comment:


  • tbm3fan
    replied
    Trump attacks Mattis as overrated, obviously Trump doesn't use a mirror, and Mattis speaking from the dais responds brilliantly.

    https://www.cnn.com/2019/10/18/polit...ech/index.html

    Leave a comment:


  • Bigfella
    replied
    In another display of what can only be described as narcissism Trump attempted to maneuver the parents of dead British teen Harry Dunn into a White House meeting with the woman who killed him in front of a pack of photographers.

    Dunn was killed when his motorcycle collided with a car being driven by the wife of a US diplomat. She fled to the US and the UK is pushing for her return & the waiving of diplomatic immunity. Yesterday Trump met with Dunn's parents at the White House. Apparently he also had the woman involved at the WH without telling them. They saw the press pack & sussed that something was wrong, refusing the photo op.

    What sort of person does this? Who tries to turn the grief of two parents in to a photo op where they are confronted with the woman who killed their son - the same woman who refuses to face justice for that death? This isn't a 'big' issue, but it is the sort of low level awfulness that just seems a daily occurrence under

    Trump. One more thing for the cultists to shrug off.

    Leave a comment:


  • TopHatter
    replied
    Never-Before-Seen Trump Tax Documents Show Major Inconsistencies

    Documents obtained by ProPublica show stark differences in how Donald Trump’s businesses reported some expenses, profits and occupancy figures for two Manhattan buildings, giving a lender different figures than they provided to New York City tax authorities. The discrepancies made the buildings appear more profitable to the lender — and less profitable to the officials who set the buildings’ property tax.

    For instance, Trump told the lender that he took in twice as much rent from one building as he reported to tax authorities during the same year, 2017. He also gave conflicting occupancy figures for one of his signature skyscrapers, located at 40 Wall Street.

    Lenders like to see a rising occupancy level as a sign of what they call “leasing momentum.” Sure enough, the company told a lender that 40 Wall Street had been 58.9% leased on Dec. 31, 2012, and then rose to 95% a few years later. The company told tax officials the building was 81% rented as of Jan. 5, 2013.

    A dozen real estate professionals told ProPublica they saw no clear explanation for multiple inconsistencies in the documents. The discrepancies are “versions of fraud,” said Nancy Wallace, a professor of finance and real estate at the Haas School of Business at the University of California-Berkeley. “This kind of stuff is not OK.”

    New York City’s property tax forms state that the person signing them “affirms the truth of the statements made” and that “false filings are subject to all applicable civil and criminal penalties.”

    The punishments for lying to tax officials, or to lenders, can be significant, ranging from fines to criminal fraud charges.
    Two former Trump associates, Michael Cohen and Paul Manafort, are serving prison time for offenses that include falsifying tax and bank records, some of them related to real estate.

    “Certainly, if I were sitting in a prosecutor’s office, I would want to ask a lot more questions,” said Anne Milgram, a former attorney general for New Jersey who is now a professor at New York University School of Law.

    Trump has previously been accused of manipulating numbers on his tax and loan documents, including by his former lawyer, Cohen. But Trump’s business is notoriously opaque, with records rarely surfacing, and up till now there’s been little documentary evidence supporting those claims.

    That’s one reason that multiple governmental entities, including two congressional committees and the office of the Manhattan district attorney, have subpoenaed Donald Trump’s tax returns. Trump has resisted, taking his battles to federal courts in Washington and New York. And so the question of whether different parts of the government can see the president’s financial information is now playing out in two appeals courts and seems destined to make it to the U.S. Supreme Court. Add to that a Washington Post account of an IRS whistleblower claiming political interference in the handling of the president’s audit, and the result is what amounts to frenetic interest in one person’s tax returns.

    ProPublica obtained the property tax documents using New York’s Freedom of Information Law. The documents were public because Trump appealed his property tax bill for the buildings every year for nine years in a row, the extent of the available records. We compared the tax records with loan records that became public when Trump’s lender, Ladder Capital, sold the debt on his properties as part of mortgage-backed securities.

    ProPublica reviewed records for four properties: 40 Wall Street, the Trump International Hotel and Tower, 1290 Avenue of the Americas and Trump Tower. Discrepancies involving two of them — 40 Wall Street and the Trump International Hotel and Tower — stood out.

    Trump’s personal attorney at the time, Michael Cohen, keeps watch as supporters lay hands on the then-presidential nominee. “It was my experience that Mr. Trump inflated his total assets when it served his purposes,” Cohen later testified, “and deflated his assets to reduce his real estate taxes.” (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)
    There can be legitimate reasons for numbers to diverge between tax and loan documents, the experts noted, but some of the gaps seemed to have no reasonable justification. “It really feels like there’s two sets of books — it feels like a set of books for the tax guy and a set for the lender,” said Kevin Riordan, a financing expert and real estate professor at Montclair State University who reviewed the records. “It’s hard to argue numbers. That’s black and white.”

    The Trump Organization did not respond on the record to detailed questions provided by ProPublica. Robert Pollack, a lawyer whose firm, Marcus & Pollack, handles Trump’s property tax appeal filings with the city, said he was not authorized to discuss the documents. A spokeswoman for Mazars USA, the accounting firm that signed off on the two properties’ expense and income statements, said the firm does not comment on its work for clients. Executives with Trump’s lender, Ladder Capital, declined to be quoted for the story.

    In response to ProPublica’s questions about the disparities, Laura Feyer, deputy press secretary for New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, said of the Trump International Hotel and Tower, “The city is looking into this property, and if there has been any underreporting, we will take appropriate action.”

    Taxes have long been a third rail for Trump. Long before he famously declined to make his personal returns public, a New York Times investigation concluded, Trump participated in tax schemes that involved “outright fraud,” and that he had formulated “a strategy to undervalue his parents’ real estate holdings by hundreds of millions of dollars on tax returns.” Trump’s former partners in Panama claimed in a lawsuit, which is ongoing, that Trump’s hotel management company failed to pay taxes on millions in fees it received. Spokespeople for Trump and his company have denied any tax improprieties in the past.

    In February, Cohen told Congress that Trump had adjusted figures up or down, as necessary, to obtain loans and avoid taxes. “It was my experience that Mr. Trump inflated his total assets when it served his purposes,” Cohen testified, “and deflated his assets to reduce his real estate taxes.”

    The two Trump buildings with the most notable discrepancies shared a financial trait: Both were refinanced in 2015 and 2016 while Trump was campaigning for president. The loan for 40 Wall Street — $160 million — was then the Trump Organization’s biggest debt.

    The fortunes of 40 Wall Street have risen and fallen repeatedly since it was constructed in 1930. Once briefly in the running to become the world’s tallest skyscraper (before being eclipsed by the Chrysler Building and then others), the 71-story landmark had an illustrious history before falling into disrepair as it changed hands multiple times.

    Trump says in his book “Never Give Up” that he took over 40 Wall Street for $1 million during a down market in 1995. Others have reported the price as $10 million. Trump gave the property his signature treatment, decking out the lobby in Italian marble and bronze and christening it “The Trump Building.” Tenants such as American Express moved in.

    But the rent rolls suffered when big-name tenants fled to Midtown in the years after the Sept. 11 attacks. Less blue-chip operations replaced them. In recent years, there were more setbacks. About two years ago, for example, high-end food purveyor Dean & Deluca canceled plans to locate an 18,500-square-foot emporium on the higher-priced first floor. The space remains empty.

    The building at 40 Wall was underperforming, charging below-market rents, according to credit-rating agency Moody’s. Its profits were lagging.

    Trump’s company, which has sometimes struggled to obtain credit because of his history of bankruptcies and defaults, turned for relief to a financial institution where Donald Trump had a connection: Ladder Capital, which employs Jack Weisselberg, the son of the Trump Organization’s longtime CFO, Allen Weisselberg. Ladder is a publicly traded commercial real estate investment trust that reports more than $6 billion in assets. In 2015, and still today, Jack Weisselberg was an executive director whose job was to make loans.

    Trump and Jack Weisselberg had history together. Jack was at UBS, in its loan origination department, in 2006, when the Swiss bank loaned Trump $7 million for his piece of the Trump International Hotel and Tower. Allen Weisselberg had bought a condo from Trump in one of his buildings for a below-market price of $152,500 in 2000. He deeded it to Jack three years later for about $148,000. Jack sold the unit for more than three times as much in 2006. (Jack Weisselberg declined to comment on Ladder’s loans or his relationship with the Trump Organization.)

    Even with a sympathetic lender, the struggles at 40 Wall Street would normally raise questions. Trump’s representatives needed to demonstrate signs of the building’s financial health if they wanted a new loan with a lower interest rate.

    They had a compelling piece of data, it seemed. Trump’s team told Ladder that occupancy was rebounding after registering a lackluster 58.9% on Dec. 31, 2012. Since then, Trump representatives reported, the building had signed new tenants. Income from them hadn’t fully been realized yet, largely because of free-rent deals, they said. But after 2015, they predicted, revenues would surge.

    “That’s a selling point for people in the business,” said Riordan, who was previously the executive director of the Rutgers Center for Real Estate. Borrowers “want to show tremendous leasing momentum.” The steepness of such a rise in occupancy at the Trump building was unusual, Riordan and other experts said.

    Documents submitted to city property tax officials show no such run-up. Trump representatives reported to the tax authorities that the building was already 81% leased in 2012.

    “What is bizarre is that you have these tax filings that are totally different,” Riordan said. A gap of at least 10 percentage points between the two occupancy reports persisted for the next two years, before the figures in the tax and loan reports synced in January 2016.

    The portrayal of a rapid rise in occupancy, and the explanation that income would soon follow, were critical for the refinancing. Indeed, Ladder’s underwriters were predicting that 40 Wall Street’s profits would more than double after 2015. Having reviewed Trump’s financial statements and rent roll, they estimated the building would clear $22.6 million a year in net operating income.

    Ladder needed credit ratings agencies like Moody’s and Fitch to endorse its income expectations and give the loan a favorable rating, which would in turn make it easier for the next step of the plan: to package the loan as part of a bond, a so-called commercial mortgage-backed security, and sell it to investors. Without the expected rise in income, Riordan said, the loan size or terms would likely have needed to be renegotiated to satisfy the ratings agencies and investors, which would mean less favorable terms for Trump and Ladder. “There was a story crafted here,” Riordan said. “It’s contradicted by what we see in the tax filings.”

    Wallace, the University of California professor, added: “Especially in underwriting loans, you are supposed to truthfully report.” Both the lender and the borrower are required to supply accurate information, she said.

    Moody’s and Fitch analysts found the underwriter’s projections slightly too rosy, but Fitch conferred an investment-grade rating on the loan, allowing it to proceed as planned. Trump ultimately received a 10-year loan with a lower interest rate than the building previously had as well as terms that would allow him to defer paying off much of the principal until the end of the loan.

    Once granted, the loan to 40 Wall Street ran into trouble: The year after it went through, the loan servicer put it on a “watch list” because of concerns that the building wasn’t making sufficient profit to pay the debt service with enough of a margin. It stayed on the list for three months. (Trump’s company has continued making payments.)

    As of 2018, the most recent year available, the building had never met the underwriters’ profit expectations, trailing by more than 8%, according to data from commercial real estate research service Trepp. Experts say that, given the amount of research underwriters do, a property typically meets their expectations fairly quickly.

    The 40 Wall Street documents contain discrepancies related to costs as well as to occupancy. Generally, there are “more opportunities to play games on the expense side,” said Ron Shapiro, an assistant professor at Rutgers Business School and a former bank senior vice president, “particularly because there are many more kinds of expenses.”

    Comparing specific expense items in both sets of records is challenging, because accountants may group categories differently in reports to tax and loan officials. But some differences on 40 Wall Street documents elicit head-scratching.

    For example, insurance costs in 2017 were listed as $744,521 in tax documents and $457,414 in loan records.

    Then there was the underlying lease. Trump technically doesn’t own 40 Wall Street. He pays the wealthy German family that owns the property for the right to rent the building to tenants. In 2015, both Trump’s report to tax authorities and a key loan disclosure document asserted that Trump’s company paid $1.65 million for these rights that year. But a line-by-line income and expense statement, which Trepp gathered from what the company reported to the loan servicer, reported the company paid about $1.24 million that year.

    “I don’t know why that would be off,” said Jason Hoffman, who is chair of the real estate committee for a professional association of certified public accountants in New York state. Like other experts, he said there are legitimate reasons why tax and loan filings might not line up perfectly. But Hoffman said the firm where he works makes sure the numbers match when it prepares both tax and loan documents for a client — or that it can explain why if they don’t.

    Financial information for the Trump International Hotel and Tower raises similar questions. Trump owns only a small portion of the building, which is located on Columbus Circle: two commercial spaces, which he rents out to a restaurant and a parking garage. Trump’s company told New York City tax officials it made about $822,000 renting space to commercial tenants there in 2017, records show. The company told loan officials it took in $1.67 million that year — more than twice as much. In eight years of data ProPublica examined for the Columbus Circle property, Trump’s company reported gross income to tax authorities that was typically only about 81% of what it reported to the lender.

    Trump appeared to omit from tax documents income his company received from leasing space on the roof for television antennas, a ProPublica review found. The line on tax appeal forms for income from such communications equipment is blank on nine years of tax filings, even as loan documents listed the antennas as major sources of income.

    Trump has an easement to lease the roof space; he doesn’t own it. But three tax experts, including Melanie Brock, an appraiser and paralegal who has worked on hundreds of New York City tax cases, told ProPublica that the income should still be reported on the tax appeals forms.

    It’s hard to guess what might explain every inconsistency, said David Wilkes, a New York City tax lawyer who is chair of the National Association of Property Tax Attorneys. But, he added, “My gut reaction is it seems like there’s something amiss there.”

    Tax records for Trump personally and for his business continue to be subjects of contention in multiple investigations. The Justice Department has intervened in the investigation by the Manhattan district attorney, whose office has sought Trump’s personal tax returns. Congressional lawmakers investigating his business dealings have sought documents from his longtime accountant, Donald Bender, a partner at Mazars. Trump is fighting the subpoenas in court. (Bender did not respond to requests for comment.)

    Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., chairman of the House Oversight Committee, has said the committee is seeking to determine if Cohen’s testimony about Trump inflating and deflating his assets was accurate. Cummings asked for Mazars’ records related to Trump entities, as well as communications between Bender and Trump or Trump employees since 2009.

    Such communications, the subpoena stated, should include any related to potential concerns that information Trump or his representatives provided his accountants was “incomplete, inaccurate, or otherwise unsatisfactory.”


    ______________

    Hear that? That's the sound of walls closing in.

    Leave a comment:


  • astralis
    replied
    so just in the last month, Trump has f*cked over a reformist Ukraine and the Kurds.

    i'm wondering where all the folks waxing lyrical about how Trump is a strategic genius with McMaster/Mattis letting him play good cop/bad cop have gone.

    Leave a comment:


  • TopHatter
    replied
    Giuliani Is Said to Be Under Investigation for Ukraine Work

    WASHINGTON — Federal prosecutors in New York City are investigating whether President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani broke lobbying laws in his dealings in Ukraine, according to two people familiar with the inquiry.

    The investigators are examining Giuliani’s efforts to undermine the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Marie L. Yovanovitch, one of the people said. She was recalled in the spring as part of Trump’s broader campaign to pressure Ukraine into helping his political prospects.

    The investigation into Giuliani is tied to the case against two of his associates who were arrested this week on campaign finance-related charges, the people familiar with the inquiry said. The associates were charged with funneling illegal contributions to a congressman whose help they sought in removing Yovanovitch.


    Giuliani has denied wrongdoing, but he acknowledged that he and the associates worked with Ukrainian prosecutors to collect potentially damaging information about Yovanovitch and other targets of Trump and his allies, including former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden. Giuliani shared that material this year with U.S. government officials and a Trump-friendly columnist in an effort to undermine the ambassador and other Trump targets.

    Federal law requires U.S. citizens to disclose to the Justice Department any contacts with the government or media in the United States at the direction or request of foreign politicians or government officials, regardless of whether they pay for the representation. Law enforcement officials have made clear in recent years that covert foreign influence is as great a threat to the country as spies trying to steal government secrets.

    A criminal investigation of Giuliani raises the stakes of the Ukraine scandal for the president, whose dealings with the country are already the subject of an impeachment inquiry. It is also a stark turn for Giuliani, who now finds himself under scrutiny from the same U.S. attorney’s office he led in the 1980s, when he first rose to prominence as a tough-on-crime prosecutor and later ascended to two terms as mayor of New York.

    It was unclear how far the investigation has progressed, and there was no indication that prosecutors in Manhattan have decided to file additional charges in the case. A spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney in Manhattan, Geoffrey S. Berman, declined to comment.

    Giuliani said that federal prosecutors had no grounds to charge him with foreign lobbying disclosure violations because he said he was acting on behalf of Trump, not the Ukrainian prosecutor, Yuriy Lutsenko, when he collected the information on Yovanovitch and the others and relayed it to the U.S. government and the news media.

    “Look, you can try to contort anything into anything, but if they have any degree of objectivity or fairness, it would be kind of ridiculous to say I was doing it on Lutsenko’s behalf when I was representing the president of the United States,” Giuliani said. Lutsenko had chafed at Yovanovitch’s anticorruption efforts and wanted her recalled from Kyiv.

    Giuliani also said he was unaware of any investigation into him, and he defended the pressure campaign on Ukrainians, which he led, as legal and above board.

    CNN and other news organizations reported that federal prosecutors were scrutinizing Giuliani’s financial dealings with his associates, but it has not been previously reported that federal prosecutors in Manhattan are specifically investigating whether he violated foreign lobbying laws in his work in Ukraine.

    Yovanovitch told impeachment investigators Friday that Trump had pressed for her removal for months even though the State Department believed she had “done nothing wrong.”

    Giuliani had receded from the spotlight in recent years while he built a brisk international consulting business, including work in Ukraine. But he reemerged in the center of the political stage last year, when Trump retained him for the special counsel’s investigation into Russian election interference.

    Russia’s sabotage also ushered in a new focus at the Justice Department on enforcing the laws regulating foreign influence that had essentially sat dormant for a half-century and under which Giuliani is now being investigated.

    Giuliani said that because Democrats had questioned his business consulting for foreign clients, his contracts explicitly say he does not lobby or act as an agent of foreigners.

    Through his two associates who also worked to oust the ambassador, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, Giuliani connected early this year with Lutsenko, who served as Ukraine’s top prosecutor until August. Parnas and Fruman had previously connected Giuliani to Lutsenko’s predecessor, Viktor Shokin, late last year.

    Parnas had told people that Yovanovitch was stymieing his efforts to pursue gas business in Ukraine. Parnas also told people that one of his companies had paid Giuliani hundreds of thousands of dollars for an unrelated U.S. business venture, and Giuliani said he advised Parnas and Fruman on a Ukrainian dispute.

    Lutsenko had sought to relay the information he had collected on Trump’s targets to U.S. law enforcement agencies and saw Giuliani as someone who could make that happen. Giuliani and Lutsenko initially spoke over the phone and then met in person in New York in January.

    Lutsenko initially asked Giuliani to represent him, according to the former mayor, who said he declined because it would have posed a conflict with his work for the president. Instead, Giuliani said, he interviewed Lutsenko for hours, then had one of his employees — a “professional investigator who works for my company” — write memos detailing the Ukrainian prosecutors’ claims about Yovanovitch, Biden and others.

    Giuliani said he provided those memos to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo this year and was told that the State Department passed the memos to the FBI. He did not say who told him.

    Giuliani said he also gave the memos to the columnist, John Solomon, who worked at the time for The Hill newspaper and published articles and videos critical of Yovanovitch, the Bidens and other Trump targets. It was unclear to what degree Giuliani’s memos served as fodder for Solomon, who independently interviewed Lutsenko and other sources.

    Solomon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

    The lobbying disclosure law contains an exemption for legal work, and Giuliani said his efforts to unearth information and push both for investigations in Ukraine and for news coverage of his findings originated with his defense of Trump in the special counsel’s investigation.

    He acknowledged that his work morphed into a more general dragnet for dirt on Trump’s targets but said that it was difficult to separate those lines of inquiry from his original mission of discrediting the origins of the special counsel’s investigation.

    Giuliani said Lutsenko never specifically asked him to try to force Yovanovitch’s recall, saying he concluded himself that Lutsenko probably wanted her fired because he had complained that she was stifling his investigations.

    “He didn’t say to me, ‘I came here to get Yovanovitch fired.’ He came here because he said he had been trying to transmit this information to your government for the past year, and had been unable to do it,” Giuliani said of his meeting in New York with Lutsenko. “I transmitted the information to the right people.”

    The president sought to distance himself earlier Friday from Giuliani, saying he was uncertain when asked whether Giuliani still represented him. “I haven’t spoken to Rudy,” Trump told reporters. “I spoke to him yesterday quickly. He is a very good attorney, and he has been my attorney.”

    Giuliani later said that he still represented Trump.

    The recall of the ambassador and the efforts by Trump and Giuliani to push for investigations in Ukraine have emerged as the focus of House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry into Trump.

    The impeachment was prompted by a whistleblower complaint about Trump pressing President Volodymyr Zelenskiy of Ukraine in a July phone call to pursue investigations that could help Trump’s 2020 reelection campaign. At the time, the Trump administration had frozen $391 million in military assistance to Ukraine for its fight against Russian-backed separatists.

    The State Department’s inspector general has turned over to House impeachment investigators a packet of materials including the memos containing notes of Giuliani’s interviews with Lutsenko and Shokin.

    The investigation into Giuliani is the latest to scrutinize one of Trump’s lawyers. His former personal lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen, implicated the president when he pleaded guilty last year to making hush payments during the 2016 campaign to women who claimed affairs with Trump, which he has denied.

    Federal prosecutors in Manhattan mentioned Trump as “Individual 1” in court papers but never formally accused him of wrongdoing.
    _________________

    Oh Rudy, you should've stay in NYC, just like your (former) boss. Working for Donald Trump is a one-way ticket to prison, being defrauded or if you're really lucky, just plain ol' public disgrace.

    Leave a comment:


  • TopHatter
    replied
    Giuliani Is Said to Be Under Investigation for Ukraine Work

    WASHINGTON — Federal prosecutors in New York City are investigating whether President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani broke lobbying laws in his dealings in Ukraine, according to two people familiar with the inquiry.

    The investigators are examining Giuliani’s efforts to undermine the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Marie L. Yovanovitch, one of the people said. She was recalled in the spring as part of Trump’s broader campaign to pressure Ukraine into helping his political prospects.

    The investigation into Giuliani is tied to the case against two of his associates who were arrested this week on campaign finance-related charges, the people familiar with the inquiry said. The associates were charged with funneling illegal contributions to a congressman whose help they sought in removing Yovanovitch.


    Giuliani has denied wrongdoing, but he acknowledged that he and the associates worked with Ukrainian prosecutors to collect potentially damaging information about Yovanovitch and other targets of Trump and his allies, including former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden. Giuliani shared that material this year with U.S. government officials and a Trump-friendly columnist in an effort to undermine the ambassador and other Trump targets.

    Federal law requires U.S. citizens to disclose to the Justice Department any contacts with the government or media in the United States at the direction or request of foreign politicians or government officials, regardless of whether they pay for the representation. Law enforcement officials have made clear in recent years that covert foreign influence is as great a threat to the country as spies trying to steal government secrets.

    A criminal investigation of Giuliani raises the stakes of the Ukraine scandal for the president, whose dealings with the country are already the subject of an impeachment inquiry. It is also a stark turn for Giuliani, who now finds himself under scrutiny from the same U.S. attorney’s office he led in the 1980s, when he first rose to prominence as a tough-on-crime prosecutor and later ascended to two terms as mayor of New York.

    It was unclear how far the investigation has progressed, and there was no indication that prosecutors in Manhattan have decided to file additional charges in the case. A spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney in Manhattan, Geoffrey S. Berman, declined to comment.

    Giuliani said that federal prosecutors had no grounds to charge him with foreign lobbying disclosure violations because he said he was acting on behalf of Trump, not the Ukrainian prosecutor, Yuriy Lutsenko, when he collected the information on Yovanovitch and the others and relayed it to the U.S. government and the news media.

    “Look, you can try to contort anything into anything, but if they have any degree of objectivity or fairness, it would be kind of ridiculous to say I was doing it on Lutsenko’s behalf when I was representing the president of the United States,” Giuliani said. Lutsenko had chafed at Yovanovitch’s anticorruption efforts and wanted her recalled from Kyiv.

    Giuliani also said he was unaware of any investigation into him, and he defended the pressure campaign on Ukrainians, which he led, as legal and above board.

    CNN and other news organizations reported that federal prosecutors were scrutinizing Giuliani’s financial dealings with his associates, but it has not been previously reported that federal prosecutors in Manhattan are specifically investigating whether he violated foreign lobbying laws in his work in Ukraine.

    Yovanovitch told impeachment investigators Friday that Trump had pressed for her removal for months even though the State Department believed she had “done nothing wrong.”

    Giuliani had receded from the spotlight in recent years while he built a brisk international consulting business, including work in Ukraine. But he reemerged in the center of the political stage last year, when Trump retained him for the special counsel’s investigation into Russian election interference.

    Russia’s sabotage also ushered in a new focus at the Justice Department on enforcing the laws regulating foreign influence that had essentially sat dormant for a half-century and under which Giuliani is now being investigated.

    Giuliani said that because Democrats had questioned his business consulting for foreign clients, his contracts explicitly say he does not lobby or act as an agent of foreigners.

    Through his two associates who also worked to oust the ambassador, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, Giuliani connected early this year with Lutsenko, who served as Ukraine’s top prosecutor until August. Parnas and Fruman had previously connected Giuliani to Lutsenko’s predecessor, Viktor Shokin, late last year.

    Parnas had told people that Yovanovitch was stymieing his efforts to pursue gas business in Ukraine. Parnas also told people that one of his companies had paid Giuliani hundreds of thousands of dollars for an unrelated U.S. business venture, and Giuliani said he advised Parnas and Fruman on a Ukrainian dispute.

    Lutsenko had sought to relay the information he had collected on Trump’s targets to U.S. law enforcement agencies and saw Giuliani as someone who could make that happen. Giuliani and Lutsenko initially spoke over the phone and then met in person in New York in January.

    Lutsenko initially asked Giuliani to represent him, according to the former mayor, who said he declined because it would have posed a conflict with his work for the president. Instead, Giuliani said, he interviewed Lutsenko for hours, then had one of his employees — a “professional investigator who works for my company” — write memos detailing the Ukrainian prosecutors’ claims about Yovanovitch, Biden and others.

    Giuliani said he provided those memos to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo this year and was told that the State Department passed the memos to the FBI. He did not say who told him.

    Giuliani said he also gave the memos to the columnist, John Solomon, who worked at the time for The Hill newspaper and published articles and videos critical of Yovanovitch, the Bidens and other Trump targets. It was unclear to what degree Giuliani’s memos served as fodder for Solomon, who independently interviewed Lutsenko and other sources.

    Solomon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

    The lobbying disclosure law contains an exemption for legal work, and Giuliani said his efforts to unearth information and push both for investigations in Ukraine and for news coverage of his findings originated with his defense of Trump in the special counsel’s investigation.

    He acknowledged that his work morphed into a more general dragnet for dirt on Trump’s targets but said that it was difficult to separate those lines of inquiry from his original mission of discrediting the origins of the special counsel’s investigation.

    Giuliani said Lutsenko never specifically asked him to try to force Yovanovitch’s recall, saying he concluded himself that Lutsenko probably wanted her fired because he had complained that she was stifling his investigations.

    “He didn’t say to me, ‘I came here to get Yovanovitch fired.’ He came here because he said he had been trying to transmit this information to your government for the past year, and had been unable to do it,” Giuliani said of his meeting in New York with Lutsenko. “I transmitted the information to the right people.”

    The president sought to distance himself earlier Friday from Giuliani, saying he was uncertain when asked whether Giuliani still represented him. “I haven’t spoken to Rudy,” Trump told reporters. “I spoke to him yesterday quickly. He is a very good attorney, and he has been my attorney.”

    Giuliani later said that he still represented Trump.

    The recall of the ambassador and the efforts by Trump and Giuliani to push for investigations in Ukraine have emerged as the focus of House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry into Trump.

    The impeachment was prompted by a whistleblower complaint about Trump pressing President Volodymyr Zelenskiy of Ukraine in a July phone call to pursue investigations that could help Trump’s 2020 reelection campaign. At the time, the Trump administration had frozen $391 million in military assistance to Ukraine for its fight against Russian-backed separatists.

    The State Department’s inspector general has turned over to House impeachment investigators a packet of materials including the memos containing notes of Giuliani’s interviews with Lutsenko and Shokin.

    The investigation into Giuliani is the latest to scrutinize one of Trump’s lawyers. His former personal lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen, implicated the president when he pleaded guilty last year to making hush payments during the 2016 campaign to women who claimed affairs with Trump, which he has denied.

    Federal prosecutors in Manhattan mentioned Trump as “Individual 1” in court papers but never formally accused him of wrongdoing.
    _________________

    Oh Rudy, you should've stay in NYC, just like your (former) boss. Working for Donald Trump is a one-way ticket to prison, being defrauded or if you're really lucky, just plain ol' public disgrace.

    Leave a comment:


  • TopHatter
    replied
    Federal Judges Rule Against Trump In 3 Cases On Executive Powers
    President Trump suffered defeats in three major court rulings Friday that address the limits of his executive authority.

    The rulings come as the White House has sought to thwart House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry into the president’s request that the Ukrainian government investigate one of his political rivals, former Vice President Joe Biden. While Friday’s decisions stem from cases unrelated to the Ukraine matter, they each address what plaintiffs claimed was a president overstepping his constitutional bounds.

    Business Records
    A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit upheld a lower court decision, ruling that Congress can see eight years of Trump’s business records held by his accounting firm, Mazars USA. The House Oversight Committee had subpoenaed the records after the president’s former lawyer Michael Cohen testified that Trump had exaggerated his wealth when applying for loans, which is a crime.

    “Contrary to the President’s arguments, the Committee possesses authority under both House Rules and the Constitution to issue the subpoena, and Mazars must comply,” Judges David S. Tatel and Patricia A. Millett wrote. The judges went on to call the congressional subpoena for Trump’s records “a valid exercise of the legislative authority.”

    Trump will likely appeal again, either to the full D.C. Circuit Court or to the Supreme Court.

    Denying Green Cards And Visas To Low-Income Immigrants
    U.S. District Court Judge George Daniels of the Southern District of New York issued a preliminary nationwide injunction blocking a Trump administration rule set to take effect next week that would have made it easier to deny green cards and visas to immigrants who cannot show they will not require public assistance. After the administration announced the new rule, nearly a dozen states filed suit to block it.

    “The Rule is simply a new agency policy of exclusion in search of a justification,” Daniels wrote in his scathing opinion. “It is repugnant to the American dream of the opportunity for prosperity and success through hard work and upwards mobility.”

    Later on Friday afternoon, Judge Phyllis J. Hamilton issued a preliminary injunction in a case announced by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra.

    The president’s legal team is expected to appeal the decisions.

    Wall Funding
    U.S. District Court Judge David Briones, in the Western District of Texas, ruled that the declaration of a national emergency under which Trump diverted funds from other agencies to construct a Mexico border wall was unlawful.

    The decision found that the law “expressly forbids” a president from using money allocated by Congress for any other purpose than was originally set forth. The county of El Paso and the Border Network for Human Rights brought the lawsuit, contending that Trump had broken the law by diverting Defense Department funds to build the wall.

    The judge did not specify what should now happen, but has asked the county and the Border Network to file a proposed preliminary injunction within 10 days. In the meantime, construction of the border wall can continue, but that could come to a halt once the terms of the injunction are specified.

    An appeal is expected from the Trump administration.

    _____

    Emperor Trump continues to win.

    Leave a comment:


  • TopHatter
    replied
    Originally posted by Firestorm View Post
    Oh good lord. This has reached comical proportions.
    Trump Supporters: I LOVE Donald Trump because He Means What He Says!

    Also Trump Supporters: Trump didn't really mean that, he's always talking shit, it's funny!

    Leave a comment:


  • Firestorm
    replied
    Originally posted by snapper View Post
    ... I, in my great and unmatched wisdom, consider to be off limits, I will totally destroy and obliterate the Economy of Turkey (I’ve done before!). They must, with Europe and others, watch over...
    Oh good lord. This has reached comical proportions.

    Leave a comment:


  • snapper
    replied
    Donald J. Trump
    @realDonaldTrump
    As I have stated strongly before, and just to reiterate, if Turkey does anything that I, in my great and unmatched wisdom, consider to be off limits, I will totally destroy and obliterate the Economy of Turkey (I’ve done before!). They must, with Europe and others, watch over...


    A "stable genius" speaks.

    Leave a comment:


  • GVChamp
    replied
    Originally posted by Bigfella View Post
    No, the majority of sane members of WAB haven't descended so far into the pit of fanaticism that they take the word of a serial sexual predator and fraudster and his legion of online propagandists at face value.

    Biden's intervention was unwise and a conflict of interest, but defining it as an effort to protect his son requires a level of ignorance that can only be achieved through careful practice or a serious brain injury.

    .
    Defining something as an effort to protect yourself when you have a conflict of interest is not brain injury, it is the immediate assumption. That's why you need to declare conflicts of interest and recuse yourself from instances where that conflict of interest might come into play. That's just base-line. The rest of your post is running interference for unethical behavior. You don't need to prove anything else about Biden, he fucked up, that's it, it's done.

    Obviously unethical behavior comes in different magnitudes and ethical behavior is not a stated qualification for President, but mild bashing from conspiracy theorists is substantially softer treatment than Biden deserves.

    Oh, and I'd still take a Biden in a heartbeat over any of the other qualifying candidates in the Dem field, though hopefully there will be some sort of divine intervention and Delaney will get the nod.

    Leave a comment:


  • TopHatter
    replied
    FYI - I've started a new thread for the impeachment (or lack thereof) of Donald Trump. Please make related posts there. Thanks.

    Leave a comment:

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