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Trump Hints At Upcoming Pardon For Roger Stone

Donald Trump on Thursday hinted he is going to pardon Roger Stone, his longtime ally who was convicted of witness tampering and lying to Congress as part of former special counsel Robert Mueller's probe.

Trump's hint came in response to a tweet from right-wing agitator Charlie Kirk, who tweeted, "Roger Stone will serve more time in prison than 99% of these rioters destroying America All because he supports Donald Trump. This isn't justice. RT for a full pardon of Roger Stone!"

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Family Of Pardoned Felon Gave Heavily To Trump

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Out of the blue President Donald Trump on Tuesday pardoned or commuted the sentences of eleven people. One of those who received a full pardon from the president is Paul Pogue, the founder of a large Texas construction company.

Pogue pleaded guilty to underpaying his taxes over a three-year period by $473,000. The White House published a long list of the charitable giving Pogue has made to support Trump’s decision to issue the pardon.

“For more than 30 years, he has provided significant humanitarian aid to countries around the world, including Africa, India, and Mexico, all while continuing to help his fellow Americans in times of need,” the White House stated. “Mr. Pogue is the founder of two non-profit organizations.  One constructs churches, clinics, schools, and orphanages in developing countries.”

What the White House neglected to mention are donations to the Trump campaign made by his family after his conviction.

“According to FEC filings, Pogue’s family has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars in direct contributions and in-kind air travel to the Trump Victory Fund,” The Daily Beast’s Justin Baragona and Asawin Suebsaeng report. “Beginning in August 2019, Ben Pogue—CEO of Pogue Construction and son of Paul Pogue—and his wife Ashleigh made over $200,000 in contributions to the campaign.”

The Daily Beast notes that just this past August, “Ben Pogue donated $85,000 to Trump Victory while Ashleigh Pogue contributed $50,000 that month. The following month, Ben Pogue made an in-kind air travel contribution of $75,404.40. The couple also made several large donations to the Republican National Committee and each donated $5,600 to Donald Trump for President Inc.”

Along the way the Pogues a few made smaller political donations, including to Rick Santorum’s 2016 presidential campaign. Now a CNN contributor, Santorum argued for Pogue’s pardon.

“In 2015, Pogue and his family contributed $11,000 to Santorum’s 2016 campaign,” the Philadelphia Inquirer reports, making clear that Santorum “helped secure a pardon” for Pogue.

Danziger: Lost Honor

Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons and one novel. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.com.

Democrats Ask Whether Trump Attorneys Obstructed Russia Probe

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

House Democrats are pursuing information about President Donald Trump’s lawyers and whether they might have helped in the effort to obstruct the Russia investigation, the New York Times revealed on Tuesday.

There’s ample evidence to justify such an inquiry. Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report lays out numerous instances in which Trump appears to have been attempting to influence the testimony of witnesses, in particular, Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen. It’s likely that there is also discussion of Trump’s efforts to influence Roger Stone, but the relevant part of the report is redacted.

Many of these instances, though, do not involve Trump directly, but lawyers working on his behalf. For example, Mueller cites Rudy Giuliani’s open discussion of a potential pardon for Paul Manafort, which appears to be part of an effort to keep the former Trump campaign chair quiet. And indeed, such an effort seems to have worked — while Manafort agreed to cooperate with investigators, Mueller later concluded that he had lied to them.

Though Giuliani is the only one of Trump’s lawyers to be named in the report, there are other indications that his attorneys were sending signals to witnesses that they could be taken care of and that they need to simply follow the party line. Cohen, who has pleaded guilty to lying to Congress, said that the false testimony he gave to lawmakers was reviewed and edited by Trump’s lawyers ahead of the hearings.

So it’s not too surprising that Rep. Adam Schiff, the chair of the House Intelligence Committee, would want to pursue this avenue, as the Times reported. But it’s likely that he won’t get very far.

The Times reported that Trump’s attorneys have balked at the requests for information, saying that it would violate attorney-client confidentiality. And as bad as some of the evidence looks for people like Giuliani, they’re probably right.

That’s why Mueller didn’t go down this path; the report shows no indication that he considered charging Trump’s lawyers with obstruction. And he says explicitly that the special counsel did not pursue all “witnesses and information — such as information known to attorneys or individuals claiming to be members of the media — in light of internal Department of Justice policies.”

“There are real questions about whether Trump directed attorneys to engage in behavior w/ respect to Cohen & others that could be basis for additional obstruction charges,” noted Lawfare executive editor Susan Hennessey. “Nearly impossible to answer without violating attorney-client privilege which is why Mueller didn’t even try.”

There is an exception in attorney-client privilege, if “legal advice has been obtained in furtherance of an illegal or fraudulent activity,” which can allow investigators to obtain evidence of these private communications. But this is a difficult showing to make, and the witnesses and lawyers involved in the Mueller investigation were covered by joint-defense agreements, which extends privileged conversations to other parties. So unlike many of the people who have received requests and subpoenas Congress has sent while investigating Trump, the subjects of this inquiry have a strong legal defense on their side.