Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr., may pursue a racketeering charge in his current probe of former President Donald Trump's company. This charge would allege that the Trump organization was a corrupt enterprise under New York's “little RICO," which is similar to the the federal racketeering statute, according to former prosecutors and defense attorneys. New York's enterprise corruption statute can be used to prosecute businesses that allegedly engage in criminal activity. Known as “Little RICO," the law can be invoked with proof of as few as three crimes. The statute carries severe penalties, namely a prison term of up to 25 ye...
Reprinted with permission from American Independent
The Federal Election Commission's Republican members, two Donald Trump appointees, blocked a staff-recommended examination of Trump's alleged campaign finance violations on Thursday.
An investigation was recommended after Trump's former personal attorney Michael Cohen admitted as part of a 2018 plea agreement to making the illegal contributions in the form of hush money to women, including $130,000 to Stormy Daniels, with whom Trump allegedly had extramarital affairs.
The commission voted 2-2 on whether to examine whether Trump violated campaign finance law by, as the FEC's general counsel wrote, "knowingly accepting excessive contributions from Michael D. Cohen," his former fixer.
The resulting deadlock means an investigation will not proceed, as it needed four votes out of six to move forward. One Trump-appointed Republican commissioner, Vice Chair Allen Dickerson, recused himself from the matter. Another, independent Steve Walther, missed the vote but later voted against a motion to dismiss the allegations.
By design, the Federal Election Commission can have no more than three Republican and three Democratic members at a time — meaning enforcement matters are frequently blocked by deadlocks. Former Common Cause President Scott Harshbarger observed in 2002 that the Commission is "probably the only agency in Washington that has done from the beginning exactly what it was intended to do, which was to do nothing."
For much of the Trump administration, the commission lacked a quorum to take any action at all. In his final year in office, Senate Republicans finally filled vacant seats with Trump four appointees (three Republicans and one Democrat) — three of them confirmed in the lame-duck session after Joe Biden had defeated Trump.
James Trainor, one of the two Republicans who blocked action against Trump, was not only a Trump appointee but also helped to get him elected. During the 2016 Republican National Convention, he worked to stop "Never Trump" Republicans from undermining Trump's platform and coronation. He later worked in Trump's administration, at the Department of Defense.
During his Senate confirmation hearings last year, Democrats urged Trainor to recuse himself from matters related to the Trump campaign. He explicitly refused to do so.
The other Republican commissioner who joined Trainor on Thursday is Sean Cooksey. Prior to his appointment, he worked as deputy chief counsel to Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and as the top Judiciary Committee aide to Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO).
The commission's Democrats, Ellen Weintraub and Chair Shana Broussard denounced their colleagues'
"To conclude that a payment, made 13 days before Election Day to hush up a suddenly newsworthy 10-year-old story, was not campaign related, without so much as conducting an investigation, defies reality," they wrote. "But putting that aside, Cohen testified under oath that the made the payment for the principal purpose on influencing the election."
Common Cause Vice President for Policy & Litigation Paul S. Ryan suggested in a statement on Thursday that a double standard is evident in campaign finance enforcement.
"Crystal Mason, a Black woman, was sentenced to five years in prison for inadvertently violating an election law in 2016. She thought she was allowed to vote and filled out a provisional ballot that was never counted," he wrote. "
Donald Trump blatantly and intentionally violated federal campaign finance laws on his way to winning the 2016 presidential election," but the GOP Commissioners "blocked investigation and enforcement of Trump's violations," he added.
Ryan also noted that the Department of Justice has five months, under the statute of limitations, to bring its own charges against Trump over his apparent crimes — and that the agency is badly in need of restructuring.
The "For the People Act", passed by the House, would eliminate the deadlocked design of the Federal Election Commission. It is currently pending in the Senate, where Republicans have vowed to block it.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.
NEW YORK — Michael Cohen on Thursday ripped Rudy Giuliani as a greedy “idiot” who deserves to get raked over the coals by federal prosecutors for doing President Donald Trump’s dirty work and trying to profit off it. The former fixer for Trump said he personally warned Giuliani that he would eventually end up on the short end of the stick because Trump “doesn’t care about anyone or anything.” “He’s been involved in some very, very shady stuff and now it’s all gonna come out,” Cohen said on CNN. Sounding like he’s regained some of his New York swagger after a humiliating stint in prison, Cohen ...
By Jason Szep and Peter Eisler (Reuters) - The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office and a newly hired high-profile litigator interviewed Donald Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, on Thursday, as part of a criminal probe of the former president’s business dealings, said two people familiar with the investigation. The interview came after Mark Pomerantz, who has extensive experience in white-collar and organized crime cases, joined District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.’s team investigating the Trump family business. Pomerantz started on Feb. 2 as special assistant district attorney, said Danny Fr...
Reprinted with permission from Alternet
President Donald Trump's former personal attorney and fixer, Michael Cohen, has had a lot to say about the president's response to the 2020 election results — stressing, during an interview with New York magazine's Jeff Wise, that Trump's bogus claims of widespread voter fraud are a cynical way for him to get supporters to donate money to him. And Cohen offered more insights on Trump's post-election histrionics when he was interviewed for journalist Brian Karem's "Just Ask the Question" podcast.
According to Cohen, Trump has "done the math" and realizes that there is still a lot of money to be made by firing up his MAGA supporters.
Trump's former fixer told Karem, "He's very bright when it comes to figuring out angles and money. But he knows he can't go back to real estate, and he knows he has to leave the White House in January. But if he can get a large enough number of his supporters to send him money, then he's set. That's what he wants."
According to CNN's Brianna Keilar, Trump has raised over $170 million since the election for his so-called Election Defense Fund — and Keilar, on Wednesday, stressed that 75 percent of those funds are being shared with his Save America PAC, which she slammed as a "slush fund."
Cohen has made it abundantly clear that he voted for President-elect Joe Biden, and that he will be glad to see Trump leave the White House on January 20. The former Trump attorney told Karem, "I want him to leave and keep his mouth shut for the next four years. The guy is so ignorant and arrogant. He billed himself as a builder, and he's done nothing. He couldn't even get an infrastructure bill passed."
Guess what I did this morning...bright and early? #VOTE @JoeBiden @KamalaHarris #BidenHarris2020 #MeaCulpa… https://t.co/iVpd5AVXhW— Michael Cohen (@Michael Cohen)1604413702.0
Karem, in an article published by the conservative website The Bulwark on Friday, noted that working for Trump in the past led to the three-year prison sentence that Cohen is still serving.
"In all the talk about which Trump cronies might receive pardons in his final lame-duck weeks, there is one name that never comes up: Michael Cohen," Karem explained. "After a dozen years as Trump's lawyer and fixer, Cohen famously broke with his boss in 2018. He pleaded guilty to tax fraud, bank fraud, campaign finance violations and lying to Congress. He was sentenced to three years in federal prison, although because of the pandemic, he was released this past May to serve out his sentence under house arrest."
In his Bulwark piece, Karem echoed Cohen's observation that Trump's post-election activities and claims of widespread voter fraud are financially motivated.
"Trump's feverish, delusional, insane and perhaps seditious denial of his loss, coupled with his ability to twist people into a knot and partnered with idiots like (attorney Rudy) Giuliani and most of the White House senior staff, have produced an environment ripe for violence," Karem warned. "Trump doesn't care — as long as it doesn't get too violent. He wants to protect his bottom line, but he's never been able to contain the Frankenstein monster he's created: triggered racists, sycophants and marginalized Americans who believe Trump has given them permission to access the very worst versions of themselves and threaten the world around them for perceived and often erroneous indiscretions."
Reprinted with permission from Alternet
Michael Cohen's book about his years as Donald Trump's fixer is a clarion call to Christians to wake up and recognize that the man many of them revere as a heavenly agent is a religious fraud who loathes them and mocks their faith.
In Disloyal, published this week, Cohen shows how Trump is a master deceiver. He quotes Trump calling Christianity and its religious practices "bullshit," soon after he masterfully posed as a fervent believer. In truth, Cohen writes, Trump's religion is unbridled lust for money and power at any cost to others.
Cohen's insider stories add significant depth to my own documenting of Trump's repeated and public denouncements of Christians as "fools," "idiots," and "schmucks."
In extensive writing and speeches, Trump has declared that his life philosophy is "revenge." That stance is aggressively anti-Christian. So are Trump's often publicly expressed desires to violently attack others, mostly women, and his many remarks that he derives pleasure from ruining the lives of people over such minor matters as declining to do him a favor.
Cohen reinforces these facts with new anecdotes about Trump's utter disregard for other people and his contempt for religious belief. Cohen's words should shock the believers who were critical to his becoming president, provided they ever read them. By denouncing the book Trump has ensured that many of those he has tricked into believing he is a deeply religious man will never fulfill their Christian duty to be on the lookout for deceivers.
None of the evangelicals I have interviewed in the past five years knew that in writing Trump has denounced their beliefs and written of the communion host as "my little cracker."
Despite the irrefutable evidence that Trump detests Christianity and ridicules such core beliefs as the Golden Rule and turning the other cheek, America is filled with pastors who praise him to their flocks as a man of god. Trump himself has looked heavenward outside the White House to imply he was chosen by god.
Pastors who support Trump were scolded two years ago by Christianity Today, a magazine founded by Billy Graham, for not denouncing Trump as "profoundly immoral." Many evangelical pastors then attacked the magazine rather than following the Biblical incantation to examine their own souls.
Cohen writes that as a young man who grew up encountering Mafioso and other crooks at a country club he fell into the "trace like spell" of Trump, whom he describes as an utterly immoral, patriarchal mob boss and con man. Cohen says he was "an active oparticipant" in everything from Trump getting "golden showers" in Las Vegas to corrupt deals with Russian officials.
Trump is "consumed by the worldly lust for wealth and rewards," Cohen writes, which puts him at odds with the teaching of Jesus Christ about what constitutes a good life.
"Places of religious worship held absolutely no interest to him, and he possessed precisely zero personal piety in his life," Cohen writes.
Cohen explains that the only version of Christianity that could possibly interest Trump is the "prosperity gospel." That is a perverse belief that financial wealth is a sign of heavenly approval rooted in 19th Century occult beliefs that is anathema to Christian scripture.
Many actual Christians regard the prosperity gospel as evil. The evangelical magazine founded by Billy Graham, Christianity Today, calls it "an aberrant theology" promoted by such disgraced televangelists as Jimmy Swaggart and Jim and Tammy Baker.
Early in Trump's aborted 2012 presidential campaign, Cohen writes, he was ordered to reach out to faith communities. Soon Paula White, now the White House adviser on faith, proposed a meeting at Trump Tower with evangelical leaders. Cohen writes that Trump liked White because she was blonde and beautiful.
Cohen said that among those attending were Jerry Falwell Jr., who recently resigned in disgrace as head of Liberty University, and Creflo Dollar, who solicited donations for a $65 million corporate jet and who was criminally charged that year with choking his daughter. Dollar said those charges were the work of the devil.
Once the evangelical leaders took their seats, Cohen writes, Trump quickly and slickly portrayed himself as a man of deep faith. Cohen writes that this was nonsense
After soaking in Trump's deceptions, the leaders proposed laying hands on Trump, a religious affirmation of divine approval. Cohen was astounded when Trump, a germaphobe, eagerly accepted.
"If you knew Trump as I did, the vulgarian salivating over beauty contestants or mocking Roger Stone's" sexual proclivities, you would have a hard time keeping a straight face at the sight of him affecting the serious and pious mien of a man of faith. I knew I could hardly believe the performance or the fact that these folks were buying it," Cohen writes.
"Watching Trump I could see that he knew exactly how to appeal to the evangelicals' desires and vanities – who they wanted him to be, not who he really was. Everything he was telling them about himself was absolutely untrue."
To deceive the evangelicals, Cohen writes, Trump would "say whatever they wanted to hear."
Trump's ease at deception became for Cohen an epiphany, though a perverse one.
In that moment, Cohen writes, he realized the boss would someday become president because Trump "could lie directly to the faces of some of the most powerful religious leaders in the country and they believed him."
Later that day, Cohen writes, he met up with Trump in his office.
"Can you believe that bullshit," Trump said of the laying on of hands. "Can you believe that people believe that bullshit."
Cohen also writes about Trump's desire, expressed behind closed doors, to destroy those who offend him. Trump has said the same, though less vividly, in public.
"I love getting even," Trump declared in his book Think Big, espousing his anti-Christian philosophy. "Go for the jugular. Attack them in spades!"
He reiterated that philosophy this year at the National Prayer Breakfast. Holding up two newspapers with banner headlines reporting his Senate acquittal on impeachment charges, Trump said, "I don't like people who use their faith as justification for doing what they know is wrong. Nor do I like people who say, 'I pray for you,' when they know that that's not so."
Trump spoke after Arthur Brooks, a prominent conservative, told the breakfast meeting that "contempt is ripping our country apart."
Mr. Brooks went on: "We're like a couple on the rocks in this country…Ask God to take political contempt from your heart. And sometimes, when it's too hard, ask God to help you fake it."
Everyone in the room rose to applaud Brooks except Trump, though he finally stood up as the applause died down, rose.
Taking the microphone, Trump said, "Arthur, I don't know if I agree with you… I don't know if Arthur is going to like what I'm going to say."
Trump then said he didn't believe in forgiveness. That is just as Cohen wrote: "Trump is not a forgiving person." Trump's words at the prayer breakfast made clear that he rejects the teaching of Jesus at Luke 6:27: "Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you."
The question pastors should raise in their Sunday sermons, the question Cohen'sbook lays before them, is how can any Christian support a man who mocks Christianity, embraces revenge as his only life philosophy, and rejects that most basic Biblical teaching– forgiveness.
Revealing details of Michael Cohen's forthcoming book were reported over the weekend after The Washington Post obtained a copy.
"President Trump's longtime lawyer and personal fixer, Michael Cohen, alleges in a new book that Trump made 'overt and covert attempts to get Russia to interfere in the 2016 election' and that the future commander in chief was also well aware of Cohen's hush-money payoff to adult-film star Stormy Daniels during that campaign," according to the Post.
The former Trump lawyer's book, titled Disloyal: A Memoir, will be released on Tuesday. It recounts dozens of stunning and occasionally salacious episodes, notably explaining Trump's connection with the Kremlin.
Trump admired Vladimir Putin, writes Cohen, because he wrongly believed that the Russian president is " the richest man in the world by a multiple." Trump loved Putin, Cohen wrote, "because the Russian leader had the ability 'to take over an entire nation and run it like it was his personal company — like the Trump Organization, in fact.
"Trump's sycophantic praise of the Russian leader during the 2016 campaign began as a way to suck up and ensure access to the oligarch's money after he lost the election," the Post reports. But Cohen says Trump also believed that Putin's hatred Hillary Clinton, which dated back to her support for the 2011 protest movement in Russia, "could strengthen Trump's hand in the United States."
Cohen also disclosed details of the plans for Trump Tower Russia — and notes that Ivanka Trump was deeply involved in the project.
"Cohen says the Trump Tower plans called for a 120-story building in Red Square, including 30 floors devoted to a five-star hotel with an Ivanka Trump-branded spa and Trump restaurants, and 230 high-end condominiums for Russian oligarchs and leaders," reported the Post. "Ivanka Trump, the president's daughter, who is now a senior White House adviser, even selected the proposed tower's high-end finishes."
Cohen also says that Trump admired apartheid-era South Africa, ridiculed his own evangelical supporters, mocked Nelson Mandela and Barack Obama in racist terms, rand shared his overly enthusiastic admiration for Cohen's then-15-year-old daughter.
"Look at that piece of ass," Trump reportedly said. "I would love some of that."
NEW: @PostRoz and I got our hands on Michael Cohen’s new book, where he claims Trump called all countries run by Bl… https://t.co/OzdK6Z8bF3— Ashley Parker (@Ashley Parker)1599352737.0
"You don't have to like me but please, listen to me."
Nobody knows Donald Trump and the inner machinations of his criminal organization like Michael Cohen, the convicted felon and former attorney who served as Trump's "fixer" for more than a decade. Now the repentant Cohen, released from prison and about to publish a scathing memoir that Trump attempted to suppress, appears in a new political ad timed for the Republican National Convention.
Cohen forthrightly admits his own role in the deception and deviance that helped Trump win in 2016 -- and he warns against being the gullible fools that his old boss laughingly assumes we all are.
Not funny, but vital. Share it.
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