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Monday, December 09, 2019

Tag: trump

Trump Lawyers Find More Classified Documents In Florida Storage Unit

At least two more items marked with some level of classification have been found in a storage unit outside of West Palm Beach. Considering that the Trump Organization—100 percent owned by Donald Trump—is made up of over 500 different “companies,” would anyone like to hazard a guess as to how many buildings, homes, garages, sheds, and storage units might still need to be searched?

Lawyers for Donald Trump have reportedly completed a search of the Trump National Golf Club at Bedminster, New Jersey, and Trump Tower in New York City, and have notified the Justice Department that they found no additional classified material.

Which means, based on past experience, that the FBI should immediately go into these locations and conduct a search. And they should bring plenty of boxes. Case in point, back in June, an attorney for Trump signed a written statement claiming that all material “marked as classified and held in boxes in a storage area” at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort had been handed over to the government. This is in addition to the document Trump tried to get one of his attorneys to sign making the same claim in January. Those statements were blatant lies.

Is there really no unclassified material at Bedminster and Trump Tower? Even though The Washington Post reports that Trump’s attorneys hired an outside team to conduct the search, there’s no reason to believe that this search was either thorough or accurate. Trump’s team has demonstrated repeatedly that they will lie to cover up his crimes, and the Trump Organization was found guilty just this week on 17 criminal counts … criminal counts for which absolutely no one will do time, the fine will be trivial, and the company will pick up the tab.

The search of the two Trump properties was carried out in response to a grand jury subpoena ordering Trump to hand over all classified materials. However, with what has happened in the past, it seems absolutely ridiculous that anyone at the federal court, DOJ, FBI, or National Archives would trust the results of this search. In fact, it was an absolute breakdown in any trust of Trump’s legal team that caused Chief U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell to authorize an FBI to search at Mar-a-Lago in the first place.

The lesson that Trump and all members of his staff have learned—not just this year, and not just in this case, but over decades, on topics from money laundering to charity fraud—is that there is rarely, if ever, a serious personal penalty involved in lying to the government. So why not lie? Besides, if those “search teams” did happen to stumble across any document stamped Top Secret, Trump could always just claim he had already declassified it. Then his attorneys could carry on reporting that they found nothing classified. Back to step one.

The Trump team has certainly had plenty of time to conduct their search/cover-up since that grand jury subpoena was issued all the way back in May. The only possible response now is to simply have the DOJ request new search warrants and follow this up themselves.

Of course, it’s entirely likely that they will not find any classified documents—after all, if the outside team conducted an actual search, that would be an excellent time to box up any documents found and move them somewhere else. However, the search still has to be done. Otherwise, the courts are sending a clear message of, “Hey, we know you hid massive amounts of stolen property and repeatedly lied about giving it back, and we know that some things are still missing, but we’re just going to trust you when you say you don’t have them.”

Honestly, hiding or destroying this material should be a snap. The fact that such large quantities of highly classified materials were found in Mar-a-Lago in the first place was entirely due to Trump’s endless supply of hubris—he wanted those nuclear secrets close, where he could use them to underline what a big deal he was to people who stepped into his office to schedule a golf outing. Ten minutes of actual thought would have placed those documents where they could not be found, but that would require putting ego aside, and Trump couldn’t manage that.

Are there more classified documents at Bedminister and Trump Tower? We don’t know. We didn’t know before this “search,” and we still don’t. But we can be absolutely sure that this search by Team Trump was an absolute waste of time and an insult to everyone seeking justice.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

House Select Panel Will Issue Criminal Referrals On Trump Coup Plotters

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, committee chair Rep. Bennie Thompson indicated that the House select committee on Jan. 6 will be making criminal referrals to the Department of Justice. Those referrals might potentially include charges against Donald Trump, as well as for high members of his White House staff like former chief of staff Mark Meadows. The DOJ does not necessarily have to act on these referrals, but such an announcement from the committee could make clear that they found what they believe to be serious criminal wrongdoing in the lead-up to January 6.

Back in July, NBC News reported on the possibility of such a referral being made. At the time, committee members already said they could envision multiple referrals being made based on the evidence heard at the time, and that was before several witnesses came forward, as well as before the committee gained access to some documents. The committee itself has no prosecution powers, and has been thwarted in its efforts to hear from Trump and other officials who resisted subpoenas to testify.

But even as the committee prepares to send over its recommendations, recently appointed special counsel Jack Smith is already taking action. As The Washington Post reports, Smith has subpoenaed local officials in Arizona, Michigan, and Wisconsin who cooperated in Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election. Additional subpoenas for records in select counties went out last week. Together they show that Smith is following a similar path as the committee: one that directly connects violence at the Capitol with Trump’s efforts to end democracy.

While the Republicans may still be snarling and circling each other over who will take the gavel as Speaker of the House in January, there’s almost no doubt that any GOP leader will immediately put an end to the House Select Committee investigating events related to the January 6 insurrection. That means that the clock is ticking loudly on that final report expected from the committee, and on any other actions they may take.

NBC News reports more statements from Thompson, who said, “We have made decisions on criminal referrals,” However, it appears that the committee hasn’t decided exactly what charges will be forwarded.

“I wish I could tell you one, two, three, four,” said Thompson, “but that’s all still being discussed.”

The DOJ has charged at least 955 people with crimes related to events on that day. The investigation now taken over by Smith has largely moved on from looking at those who pushed through police lines to break into the Capitol that day, and is now dealing with the planning behind those events and actions taken by Trump and others to encourage the violence.

Among those subpoenaed are election officials in Maricopa County, Arizona—who were contacted by both Trump and Rudy Giuliani— as well as officials in Milwaukee and Dane counties in Wisconsin. Smith is after any communication the election officials had with Trump, Trump’s campaign manager Bill Stepien, Trump adviser Boris Epshteyn, and attorneys Justin Clark, Matthew Morgan, John Eastman, Rudy Giuliani, Sidney Powell, and Cleta Mitchell.

One of those sought, former Maricopa County board supervisor Clint Hickman, received multiple direct calls from Trump, but refused to pick up the phone. Instead, he let the calls go to voicemail.

“Hello, sir. This is the White House operator I was calling to let you know that the president’s available to take your call if you’re free. If you could please give us a call back, sir, that’d be great. You have a good evening.”

From this it’s clear that Hickman knew what Trump was trying to do was wrong. It also seems that at least one person involved in this whole mess actually did get called “sir.”

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

Treasury Delivers Trump Tax Returns To Congressional Committee

The U.S. Department of the Treasury has finally handed over six years of Donald Trump’s tax returns, after the U.S, Supreme Court denied the ex-president’s request to block the document transfer. The powerful House Ways and Means Committee is now in receipt of all six years, according to a Wednesday afternoon report from CNN.

The returns are primarily from Trump’s time as president.

The committee will need to work quickly, as Republicans will take over the House majority early next year, and the current chairman, Richard Neal, will no longer serve in that role.

Republicans are expected to end any investigations into Donald Trump, including his tax returns, as they begin investigations into top GOP priorities: Hunter Biden’s laptop, the origin of the novel COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, and President Joe Biden’s withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan.

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

Why Fox News Went Nearly Silent On Trump's Embrace Of Neo-Nazis

Fox News’ near-total silence on former President Donald Trump’s meeting with Nick Fuentes and the rapper Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, points to the inroads that white nationalism and virulent antisemitism have made at the network — and the difficulty the Republican Party would have in trying to remove that faction from its coalition.

The news that Fuentes and Ye had dined with Trump at his Mar-a-Lago home and resort last Tuesday triggered a stream of denunciations from civil rights groups and calls for Republicans to speak out. The friendly sitdown came in spite of a weekslong firestorm surrounding Ye’s increasingly open anti-Jewish rhetoric. Fuentes, meanwhile, is a white supremacist leader who attended the deadly 2017 Unite the Right white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, called for a “white uprising” to install Trump as a dictator, and has generated a lengthy list of bigoted statements, including his recent exhortation for Jews to “get the fuck out of America.”

Republican leaders are divided over whether bigots like Ye and Fuentes should be shunned and the former president condemned for meeting with them. Ultimately, this argument is a proxy fight over the question of whether the white supremacists, Proud Boys, antisemites, and other deplorables who made common cause with Trump should be ushered out of the party. Some, like former Vice President Mike Pence, have spoken out. Others have criticized Fuentes while letting Trump off the hook, like potential House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), or remained silent, like Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Fox’s propagandists have joined the side of the silent. The network devoted a mere seven minutes to the dinner from the time the story broke on Friday through the weekend, and ignored it altogether on Monday. Notably, influential prime-time hosts Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, and Laura Ingraham have not mentioned the story at all. Fox is signaling to the viewers who trust it above all other news sources that the story is not important.

Fox’s quiet acquiescence points to a quandary for the network. It would apparently be a step too far for Fox to support Trump meeting with such despicable bigots – that could threaten its relations with advertisers and cable carriers. But the network is also too tightly intertwined with that world to criticize him for it. It has a Tucker Carlson problem.

Fox personalities condemning Trump for meeting with Ye would amount to a hairpin turn for the network. They were touting Ye’s bravery just weeks ago after Ye talked up Trump in Carlson’s fawning interview with him. But as they lavished praise on the rapper, the network was keeping under wraps some of the the anti-Jewish comments West made in the same discussion. When Ye started making similarly antisemitic remarks on social media, some at Fox criticized him – though not Carlson, who pretended that outburst hadn’t happened and continued to laud him.

Fuentes’ noxious racism and antisemitism are more explicit than what is typically found on Fox, and the network would seem to face less risk in condemning him. But Carlson in particular has made his show a clearinghouse for antisemitic tropes, white nationalist talking points, and fringe-right bigots. All the while, he has denied the existence of the white supremacists who praise him for mainstreaming their worldview. How could Carlson plausibly berate Trump for meeting with a white supremacist when he’s spent years telling his viewers that white supremacists don’t exist? And how could anyone else at the network convincingly draw a line between Fuentes’ commentary and what viewers see in its 8 p.m. hour?

Fox’s problem mirrors that of the GOP. Republican leaders believe that it needs the extremists Trump ushered into the party in order to win elections. Fox hosts and executives likewise recognize that if they aim at such deplorables, they may hit their own viewers. The result is that rank and file Republicans may not hear that the meeting ever happened – and if they do, the source will be a mainstream outlet that Fox has relentlessly trained them to ignore. If Fox creates the context through which its viewers interpret news, the message it is sending is that Trump dining with bigots is not important.

The Fox mantra is to “respect the audience.” In practice, that means keeping them cosseted from information that may displease them, no matter how extreme they become or what conspiracy theories they end up believing.

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

Texas Resident Herschel Walker Could Face Voter Fraud Charges In Georgia

While Georgians flock to the polls in the state’s Senate runoff between incumbent Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock and the Republican Party’s most incompetent candidate, Herschel Walker, one Georgia resident is on the attack—and Walker is in her crosshairs.

According to reporting by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC) , Ann Gregory Roberts has filed a complaint asking that the attorney general’s office and Georgia Bureau of Investigation “promptly investigate” Walker for an “apparent violation of Georgia law.”

Roberts alleges that the Heisman Trophy winner broke the law “by registering and voting in Georgia while knowingly maintaining his principal residence in Texas.” As Daily Kos reported last week, Walker received a homestead tax break on his $3 million home in 2021 and 2022—even after announcing his candidacy and then voting in Georgia’s 2022 Republican primary and the general elections.

CNN reports that even while he was out campaigning this year, Walker was heard talking about the U.S.-Mexico border during a speech to University of Georgia College Republicans, saying, “I live in Texas … I went down to the border off and on sometimes.”

Walker even added in that same speech, “Everyone asks me, why did I decide to run for a Senate seat? Because, to be honest with you, this is never something I ever, ever, ever thought in my life I’d ever do … And that’s the honest truth. As I was sitting in my home in Texas, I was sitting in my home in Texas, and I was seeing what was going on in this country. I was seeing what was going on in this country with how they were trying to divide people.”

CNN also reports that Walker even gave several interviews from his Texas manse.

AJC reports that, on Monday, Georgia Rep. Nikema Williams doubled down on calls for a probe into Walker to find out whether he “lied about being a Georgia resident.” Williams said, “Georgians deserve answers … and Walker must be held accountable for his pattern of lies and disturbing conduct.”

According to CNN, Walker filed for a homestead tax exemption in Texas in 2022, a break that gave him $1,500 off his property taxes. But then the former Dallas Cowboy registered and voted in Atlanta, Georgia, in 2021 and 2022.

Walker’s been living in Texas for decades, but according to The Daily Beast, has allegedly kept a home in Atlanta for 17 years.

“It’s weird. We’ve had this home here for about 17 years. We’ve had this home here in Atlanta about 17 years,” Walker told Rolling Out in a September interview.

The Constitution states that candidates don’t have to have a primary residence in the state where they’re running—at least until they actually win the seat.

The Daily Beast reports that the Trump-backed candidate’s wife, Julie Blanchard, has been receiving thousands in rental income on the Atlanta home, per the candidate’s 2021 financial disclosure filings. Walker used the Atlanta home as his official address when filing to run for Senate in August 2021. Additionally, Blanchard received $49,997 in COVID-19 relief loans at the Walkers’ Texas home in Dallas.

According to Roberts’ complaint, Walker committed a felony when he voted in the 2022 primary and general elections.

The complaint states:

“To be eligible to vote in Georgia, a voter must be “a resident of [Georgia] and of the county or municipality in which he or she seeks to vote. Georgia law proscribes a number of explicit and unambiguous criteria for determining a voter’s residence, including that ‘[t]he specific address in the county or municipality in which a person has declared a homestead exemption, if a homestead exemption has been claimed, shall be deemed the person’s residence address.’ In addition, Georgia law is clear that “[a] person shall not be considered to have gained a residence in any county or municipality of this state into which such person has come for temporary purposes only without the intention of making such county or municipality such person’s permanent place of abode.”

According to the Texas Tribune, Walker’s use of the homestead exemption tax break could be illegal according to Texas state law, which only allows homeowners to claim the break on their “principal residence.”

Georgia State University law professor Anthony Michael Kreis told CNN that Walker isn’t actually breaking the rules as a candidate, but it does make him look pretty shady politically.

“At the end of the day, this is more of a political problem than a legal one, in all likelihood … where Walker can be painted as a carpetbagger. It does call into question whether Walker’s change of residency was made in good faith,” Kreis said.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

Arkansas Governor Condemns Trump Meeting With Neo-Nazi Fuentes

Republican Governor Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas admonished former President Donald Trump's Tuesday, November 22nd meeting with avowed white supremacist podcaster Nick Fuentes at Mar-a-Lago on Sunday's edition of State of the Union. Trump hosted a dinner that night at his Florida compound for disgraced rapper and possible 2024 presidential candidate Kanye West along with Fuentes to shore up support for his own White House run, which he formally declared on Tuesday, November 15th.

Host Dana Bash asked Hutchinson to comment on Trump's political schmoozing of Holocaust deniers such as Fuentes:

You personally prosecuted white supremacist groups. What's your reaction to seeing a former US president associate with someone like that?


Well I hope someday we won't have to be responding to what former President Trump has said or done. In this instance, it's important to respond. And, as you mentioned, the last time I met with a white supremacist, it was in an armed standoff. I had a bulletproof vest on. We arrested them, prosecuted them, sent them to prison. And so, no, I don't think it's a good idea for a leader that is setting an example for the country or the party to meet with an avowed racist or antisemite. And so it's very troubling, and it shouldn't happen. And we need to avoid those kinds of empowering the extremes. And when you meet with people, you empower. And that's what you have to avoid. You want to diminish their strength, not empower them. Stay away from them.

Bash noted that "Trump has released multiple statements. What he's doing is, he's denying knowing Nick Fuentes. But he's not condemning his views, let alone condemning Kanye West's history of antisemitic comments, recent history. So it's a pattern."

Hutchinson agreed:

Well, I mean, you could have accidental meetings. Things like that happen. This was not an accidental meeting. It was a setup dinner with Kanye. And so this happened. But you certainly have every occasion that the question of white supremacy or neo-Nazism, or denying the Holocaust comes up. You have got to be absolutely clear in your communication that this is not acceptable dogma, it's not acceptable conversation, it's not acceptable history, and you have to disavow it. It is as simple as that. And I'm very proud of the Republican Jewish Coalition. The former ambassador, US ambassador in the Trump Administration to Israel, has condemned this.

And so what Donald Trump did and his failure to condemn it is really the minority of the party. It's an extreme side of it. And that's what you have got to distance yourself from. And he failed to do that.

Watch below or at this link.

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

Greene Says Trump Promised 'Over And Over Again' To Pardon January 6 Rioters

Rep. Majorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) revealed that former President Donald Trump and former First Lady Melania Trump are both "just sick" because some January 6 defendants are still behind bars.

During an interview with right-wing podcaster Steve Bannon on Saturday, Greene explained that she had posted a thread of messages defending the former president on Twitter. Greene said that she was trying to enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday when she saw Twitter users angry at Trump for failing to pardon the January 6 defendants.

"I thought, this is ridiculous; they're lying about him," the lawmaker recalled. "People are lying about him. The very idea that he could have pardoned all the January 6 defendants before he left the White House on January 20 is impossible because the high majority of those people weren't even arrested until after he left office!"

"And he didn't even know them!" she continued. "He had no idea who they are. He doesn't know who they are still. He had nothing to do with what they did on January 6, um, so it would have been impossible for him to magically know how to find these people and pardon them."

Greene said that she gave a report about the January 6 defendants to Trump and the former first lady.

"President Trump and Melania were both just sick over what they learned," she revealed. "And he said over and over that he will — he will pardon the January 6 defendants."

"This is real political persecution," Greene added. "And it shouldn't be happening in America and so the criticism on President Trump is ridiculous!"

Watch the video below from Real America's Voice or at this link.

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

Trump's Neo-Nazi 'Nightmare' Driving GOP Support For DeSantis Run

A longtime adviser to former Donald Trump warned his pre-Thanksgiving Mar-a-Lago dinner with Ye, the rapper formerly known as Kanye West, and white supremacist Nick Fuentes will be “another reason why” people look at Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis “to run against” the former president in 2024, NBC News reports.

Trump on Friday denied knowing who Fuentes is, claiming Ye “called me to have dinner” and “unexpectedly showed up with three of his friends, who I knew nothing about.” Three sources who spoke with NBC News corroborated Trump’s assertion “that he didn’t know Fuentes,” but pointed out “one glaring inaccuracy in Trump’s statement,” NBC News’ Marc Caputo reports.

Per Caputo:

“All three sources familiar with the dinner told NBC News there was one glaring inaccuracy in Trump’s statement: Trump knew one of the three ‘friends’ brought by the rapper, Karen Giorno. She was the Trump campaign's Florida director in 2016 and the former president knows her by name and sight, the sources said. In addition to Giorno and Fuentes, Ye also brought along another man who was an associate, according to the sources.”

For one of Trump’s advisers, who asked to remain anonymous, “this is a f-cking nightmare,” Caputo reports. "If people are looking at [Florida Gov. Ron] DeSantis to run against Trump, here's another reason why.”

Caputo continues:

“The source familiar with the dinner conversation said the dinner grew heated after Ye — who announced another run for president in 2024 on Thursday — asked Trump to be his running mate. Trump then began insulting Ye’s ex-wife, Kim Kardashian, according to the source and a video that Ye posted to Twitter on Thanksgiving Day recounting the dinner.”

One source said Trump told Ye, “You’re not going to win. You can’t beat me."

Fuentes is advising Ye on his presidential run, NBC News reports. Far-right personality Milo Yiannopoulos will manage his campaign.

According to the Twitter video Ye posted, “Trump is really impressed with Nick Fuentes.”

“Nick Fuentes, unlike so many of the lawyers, and so many of the people that he was left with on his 2020 campaign, he’s actually a loyalist,” Ye said in the “Mar-a-Lago debrief” video.

“Nick, you work for the guy, and just because you work for him, you’re going to tell him he can beat me?” Trump asked Fuentes, according to an NBC News source. “You just got finished telling me I was the best president ever.”

Read the full report at NBC News.

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.