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Investigating Hunter Biden? Probe Trump’s Taxes Too

Hunter Biden says his tax affairs are under investigation. The president-elect's son says he is "confident" the probe by the U.S. attorney's office in Delaware will find no wrongdoing.

Fine. We shall see.

A few things to unpack here. First, inquiries into possible tax fraud should be welcome. When some people cheat on their taxes, those who don't have to cover for them.

At the same time, Joe Biden's 50-year-old son is not Joe. Any tax issues he has are his, not his father's.

President Donald Trump has tried mightily to link Hunter's business dealings with Chinese and European tycoons to Joe, and the investigations have come up empty. He'd undoubtedly love to tie Hunter's tax issues into one public-confusing package.

Attorney General William Barr has rejected Trump's demand for a special counsel to investigate Hunter. He says that scrutiny of Hunter's activities is "being handled responsibly and professionally." Meanwhile, The Wall Street Journal, which has been scouring Hunter's business ventures, concluded, "None of the Journal's reporting found that Joe Biden was involved in his son's business activities." The tax probe doesn't implicate Joe either.


All this said, it was not OK that Hunter used his powerful political name to rake in cash from foreign tycoons. It was not OK that he used his family ties to score a discounted stake in a Chinese private equity venture or various lucrative consulting deals. Or that he sold himself as the guy who could grease entry into the Washington power structure.

And Joe should have stopped it. There was nothing in Hunter's biography — which included drug and money problems — that would have prompted these foreign interests to hire him for his talents. Two Obama administration officials aired concern that Hunter's seat on the board of Ukrainian natural gas company Burisma would leave the appearance of a conflict of interest. Senate Republicans looked hard for evidence that Joe Biden altered U.S. policy in Ukraine for his son, and found none. Still, appearances matter.

Of course, Biden's missteps in letting a family member profit off his Washington connections pale in contrast to the Trumps' brazen self-dealing. In that case, you don't even know where to start.


Imagine the outrage if Biden were to let Hunter stand in for him at a G-20 meeting, as Trump let his daughter Ivanka do. In 2018, China fast-tracked 18 trademarks to companies linked to Trump and Ivanka — you know, those sunglasses, handbags and shoes.

Then there was son-in-law Jared Kushner, Trump's senior adviser. Vanity Fair reports that Kushner set up a shell company into which Trump fans are still pouring money. Its apparent purpose was to avoid federally mandated disclosures of campaign spending, much of it heading to Trump family pockets. The company's first president was Eric Trump's wife, Lara. Its first vice president was Vice President Mike Pence's nephew John Pence.

Back on the tax fraud front, state prosecutors in Manhattan are ramping up efforts to obtain Trump's personal and corporate tax returns. They are looking into possible insurance fraud, bank fraud and tax fraud. If they find culpability, Trump could face criminal charges.


Any pardons that Trump might grant himself and his children could shield them from federal prosecutions, but not state ones. Former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen has already testified that Trump inflated the value of his assets to his lenders and then deflated them to cut his real estate taxes. Both practices are illegal. Also under investigation are millions in tax write-offs for consulting services, some apparently for work by Ivanka.

Let's find all the tax cheats. Do it for we who've been paying both our taxes and their taxes.

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at fharrop@gmail.com. To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com.

Feds Request Permission To Subpoena Giuliani’s Electronic Records

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

According to NBC News, prosecutors with the Southern District of New York (SDNY) have been involved in discussions with the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., regarding Rudy Giuliani's electronic communications. Officials are looking to obtain access to Giuliani's emails, according to two insiders. To be granted access, the SDNY must receive approval from the Justice Department to move forward with requesting a search warrant signed by a federal judge. However, it is still unclear whether or not the Justice Department has granted the request.

The full spectrum of the current investigation is also an aspect that remains unclear. However, the Wall Street Journal reported details about the October 2019 investigative probe into Giuliani's Ukraine business transactions as it revealed SDNY prosecutors were reviewing the embattled attorney's bank records. Around that time, two of Giuliani's previous associates —Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman— were arrested on a string of fraud-related charges.

Another aspect of the investigation that suggests it is still "very active" is prosecutors' pursuit of witnesses and the search for more documentation to build the case. Chuck Rosenberg, a current NBC News analyst and former attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, explained why the Justice Department might be hesitant to grant this type of request from SDNY.

"It's sensible to perhaps treat a search warrant as an overt investigative step," said Rosenberg. "Search warrants for a subject's personal belongings are not terribly discreet and the recipient of the warrant can talk about it. That could be a legitimate concern before an election but the equation changes after an election, when you no longer need to abstain from overt investigative steps."

Spokespersons for both law enforcement agencies have declined to comment on the latest reports. Giuliani's own lawyer Robert Costello also released a brief statement to NBC News.

"I have no reason to believe there's any truth to the allegations that there is renewed interest in my client."

Federal Judge Strikes Down Attempt To Delay Trump Rape Case

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

The United States Department of Justice received a public rebuke from a federal judge on Wednesday.

At issue was a hearing about the DOJ's efforts to have taxpayer-funded lawyers defend President Donald Trump in a civil case over whether he defamed E. Jean Carroll after she accused him of sexual assault.

The DOJ attempted to delay the case after a government attorney was denied access to the courthouse due to COVID-19 travel restrictions.

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Barr's Dishonest Attempt To Oust New York U.S. Attorney Backfires Badly

EDITOR'S UPDATE: On Saturday, U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman announced he would leave office immediately after receiving a letter from Attorney General William Barr informing him that he had been fired by President Trump -- and that in accordance with law and custom he will be replaced by his deputy Audrey Strauss a career fedderal prosecutor, rather than a successor hand-picked by Barr as the Attorney General had previously stated.

Attorney General Bill Barr apparently thought he could buffalo U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman out of his job, but the lead federal prosecutor in the Southern District of New York is refusing to go down without a fight.

In a surprise Friday night news dump, Barr announced — falsely — that Berman would be "stepping down" from his post. He was to be replaced by Jay Clayton, the chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, who many noted has not served as a prosecutor before, Barr said. Before Clayton could be confirmed by the Senate, Barr intended to have the current U.S, Attorney for the District of New Jersey Craig Carpenito serve in an acting capacity in Berman's position

."Finally, I thank Geoffrey Berman, who is stepping down after two-and-a-half years of service as United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York," Barr said in a statement. "With tenacity and savvy, Geoff has done an excellent job leading one of our nation's most significant U.S. Attorney's Offices, achieving many successes on consequential civil and criminal matters. I appreciate his service to the Department of Justice and our nation, and I wish him well in the future."

But shortly after Barr broke this startling and suspicious news, Berman came out and directly contradicted the attorney general in an aggressively confrontational statement.

Berman said he only learned of the news via Barr's press release — and that it's not true.

"I have not resigned, and have no intention of resigning, my position, to which I was appointed by the Judges of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York," Berman said in a statement. "I will step down when a presidentially appointed nominee is confirmed by the Senate. Until then, our investigations will move forward without delay or interruption. I cherish every day that I work with the men and women of this Office to pursue justice without fear or favor — and intend to ensure that this Office's important cases continue unimpeded."

This was a dramatic shot across the bow for three reasons.

First, it's always a high-stakes situation when a subordinate directly contradicts their superior's public statements — even more so when the statement is about their own position. Berman is, in essence, calling Barr a liar. It seems Barr thought he could push Berman out by sheer bravado, but Berman is showing remarkable fortitude.

Second, Berman is setting up a power struggle for control of SDNY with potential constitutional implications. His claim is that because he was appointed by a judge to fill a vacancy at SDNY, Barr can't simply force him out; he can only be forced out when the Senate approves a presidential nominee.

It's not clear if that's the case. But law professor Steve Vladeck noted on Twitter that, under the most natural reading of the relevant law, Berman's interpretation seems plausible:


Barr almost certainly disagrees with this view, however, given his understanding of executive branch power. Law professor Marty Lederman noted that the Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel believes the president himself would have the authority to fire Berman, but not Barr:


So what happens when it's unclear who has authority over SDNY?

Third, and perhaps most importantly, Berman's repeated reference to his cases, and preserving their integrity, suggests that he believes he is being forced out in order to interfere with an ongoing investigation. We know SDNY has investigated President Donald Trump's conduct and allies in the past, including Michael Cohen and Rudy Giuliani. Giuliani's associates — who also have ties directly to Trump — Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman are currently under indictment from the office. This all raises the disturbing prospect that Barr might be trying to push Berman out because his office has uncovered damaging information pertaining to the president.