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Tag: trump investigations

Appeals Court Rules Trump Must Testify In New York Probe

By Jan Wolfe

(Reuters) -Former President Donald Trump must testify under oath in the New York state attorney general’s civil investigation into his business practices, an intermediate state appeals court ruled on Thursday.

A four-judge panel unanimously upheld a trial court decision from February enforcing subpoenas for Trump and his two eldest children, Donald Trump, Jr. and Ivanka Trump, to provide deposition testimony in Attorney General Letitia James’ investigation.

"Once again, the courts have ruled that Donald Trump must comply with our lawful investigation into his financial dealings," James said in a statement. "We will continue to follow the facts of this case and ensure that no one can evade the law."

Alan Futerfas, a lawyer for Trump, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In January, James said her nearly three-year investigation into the Trump Organization had uncovered significant evidence of possible fraud.

She described what she called misleading statements about the values of the Trump brand and six properties, saying the company may have inflated real estate values to obtain bank loans and reduced them to lower tax bills.

Trump issued a statement earlier this year calling the accusations false and accusing James of a political agenda in targeting him and his family.

Trump and his children have said testifying would violate their constitutional rights because their words could be used in a related criminal probe led by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, which James joined last May.

Trump, a Republican, has also accused James of selectively prosecuting him because he is a political enemy. James and Bragg are Democrats.

The appeals court rejected those arguments, saying James reviewed "significant volumes of evidence" before issuing the subpoenas.

"Appellants have not identified any similarly implicated corporation that was not investigated or any executives of such a corporation who were not deposed," the court said of the Trumps. "Therefore, appellants have failed to demonstrate that they were treated differently from any similarly situated persons."

(Reporting by Jan Wolfe; additional reporting by Luc Cohen; editing by Noeleen Walder, Diane Craft, and Bill Berkrot)

Now Focus Of Criminal Probes, Trump's Money Man Said He Leaves 'Legal Side' To Others

NEW YORK — Allen Weisselberg, the financial sentry at the Trump Organization now in the crosshairs of prosecutors diving into Donald Trump’s business dealings, frankly claims he steers clear of the “legal side” of the money flow. In previously unreported deposition documents obtained by the New York Daily News, Weisselberg, who has micromanaged the organization’s finances for decades, shrugged off interest in or knowledge of the legalities of Trump’s till. “That’s not my thing,” he declared. It’s very much the thing of Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance Jr., who recently used a grand jury su...

House Oversight Panel Reissues Subpoena For Trump's Tax Records

By Jan Wolfe (Reuters) - A U.S. House of Representatives panel has reissued a subpoena seeking Donald Trump's tax and financial records, saying in a memo made public on Tuesday it needs the documents to address "conflicts of interest" by future presidents. In a court filing on Tuesday, House lawyers told a judge that the House Oversight Committee reissued a subpoena to Trump's accounting firm, Mazars USA LLP, on Feb. 25. The committee issued a similar subpoena in 2019, but that subpoena expired in January when new U.S. lawmakers took office. Tuesday's court filing included a Feb. 23 memorandum...

Long-Buried Report Proves Trump Knew Saudi Prince Ordered Khashoggi Murder

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

In October of 2018, Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi stepped into a Saudi embassy in Istanbul to deal with what was supposed to be routine paperwork related to his upcoming marriage. His fiancée was waiting outside. He never returned.

Though it took months for the details of the story to emerge, it was clear almost from the beginning that Khashoggi has been the victim of Saudi usurper—and friend to both Donald Trump and Jared Kushner—Mohammed bin Salman. When more of the story did emerge, it could not have been more disturbing. It showed how bin Salman dispatched a murder squad to intercept Khashoggi, beat him, torture him, dismember him, and then murder him … in that order. When the journalist was dead, a member of the team that had killed him donned his clothing and walked around Istanbul in an effort to plant a false trail. Finally, it seems that Khashoggi's remains were burned in an ovenspecially created for that purpose.

Thursday, Feb 25, 2021 · 2:19:32 PM EST · Mark Sumner

I have no information to go along with this, but …

As the horrific details emerged, Donald Trump continued to stand by bin Salman. Trump refused to sanction the "Crown Prince"—who inserted himself into that position after conducting an internal coup that saw multiple members of his own family either killed or sent into exile. Trump also refused to produce a required report about the murder, saying he had a "right to refuse" the clear letter of the law.

There may be no better signal of how President Joe Biden is returning justice to America's foreign policy than this: On Thursday, the White House will finally release the report. And it clearly shows bin Salman is responsible for the murder of American resident Jamal Khashoggi.

As CNN reported on Wednesday, court documents from a civil suit filed in Canada included documents explicitly showing bin Salman's orders to send the hit team after Khashoggi. Those documents show how the murder squad—which came prepared with bone saws and other tools to both torture the journalist and take his body apart when it was all over—was dispatched using a private aviation company that bin Salman took over just months before. This private fleet of planes gave bin Salman the capacity he needed to get a 15-man team in and out of Istanbul without having to line his bloody killers up for seats on a commercial aircraft.

It's just one more piece of evidence in a case that was already definitive in showing how bin Salman ordered the hit against Khashoggi, arranged the gruesome details, and gloated over his success. After which Trump and Kushner refused to hold him to account, with Kushner advising the crown murderer to just lay low for a bit until the press got distracted by other events. Trump certainly did not allow the murder of a U.S. resident journalist to get in the way of making enormous arms sales to bin Salman.

But as NBC News reports, Thursday will see a big shift in the relationship between the United States and the man currently calling the shots in Saudi Arabia. That's because the U.S. will release a report that clearly shows how bin Salman approved and directed the murder of Khashoggi.

According to NBC's sources, this is not a new report. This is the report that Trump refused to release in 2018. That means this report isn't just a condemnation of bin Salman, it's also another strong condemnation of Trump.

Trump knew all along that his pal bin Salman was a raging murderer. But then, Trump didn't care, just as he didn't care that bin Salman oversaw a growing number of executions each year, with hundreds of people being beheaded, hung, or crucified for defying his reign. For one thing, Trump likes seeing people executed. For another, bin Salman "pays in cash." Trump doesn't consider bin Salman a bad guy just because he seized control illegally, chased down members of his own family, carried out a brutal proxy war in which thousands of children have died, and went to enormous lengths to carry out the murder of a journalist that included cutting off the man's fingers one by one. Trump considers bin Salman a role model.

But he's not a model of what anyone should consider a just leader or a reliable ally. As Reuters reports, the report—which has until now been hidden behind a Top Secret stamp applied under Trump—makes clear bin Salman's complicity in the torture and murder of Khashoggi. The release of the report signals not just that the United States holds bin Salman personally responsible for this death, but that the nation will be reexamining its relationship with the government in Riyadh and the horrendous Saudi record on human rights.

Bin Salman still has plenty of leftover U.S. bombs for attacking civilian areas of Yemen. He's also unlikely to ever face justice for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. But at least the United States won't be hurrying back to kiss his feet any time soon.

Like A Mob Boss, Trump Wanted Two Favors From ‘His’ Supreme Court

Like a mob boss looking for payback, Donald Trump wanted the Supreme Court to do him two favors heading into the November election: keep him in power and keep him out of jail. To its everlasting credit, the court quickly declined to deliver on the first. Even though Trump had nominated three arch-conservatives to the bench—Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett—the court rejected his baseless challenges to the results of the election.

It took the court far too long to screw up the courage to decline the second favor, but in a one-sentence order issued on February 22, the court dismissed an emergency petition Trump's lawyers had filed last October to stop Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. from enforcing a critical grand jury subpoena issued to the former president's accounting firm—Mazars USA, LLP—as part of a wide-ranging criminal investigationinvolving Trump's business practices.

Pending the court's ruling on the petition, Vance had agreed to pause enforcement of the subpoena. And in the meantime, as the court dithered, New York's five-year statute of limitations continued to tick away, threatening to derail the entire probe.

The investigation can now move forward, full speed.

Of all the potential avenues for indicting Trump now that he is out of office and has lost the immunity from prosecution that comes with the presidency, Vance's probe, which began in 2018, offers the most immediate promise. Although New York grand jury proceedings are secret, it has been widely reported that Vance is investigating Trump not only for the hush money paid to pornographic film star Stephanie Clifford, aka "Stormy Daniels," and onetime Playboy magazine model Karen McDougal, but also to determine if other aspects of Trump's private financial dealings have violated state fraud and income tax laws.

The Mazars subpoena is a key component of Vance's inquiry. It demands multiple years of Trump's personal and corporate federal and state tax returns and other financial documentation, dating back to 2011.

As some commentators have noted, information from Mazars could help prove that the Trump Organization used deceptive accounting techniques to inflate the value of assets when applying for bank loans and insurance while understating values to reduce tax bills. Documents from Mazars could also help establish that Trump or members of his family acted with the knowledge and intent needed to prove the commission of financial crimes.

Usually, the Supreme Court rules on emergency petitions expeditiously, often within a matter of weeks, or even days. So, what was behind the inaction in this case? Was there a legitimate reason for the inordinate delay, or were political considerations in play?

The court itself isn't saying. Unlike elected politicians, the justices don't issue press releases or regularly speak to the media. In the absence of an official explanation, the reason for the delay appears to lie in the ideological orientation of the court, which has shifted sharply to the right since the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg last September.

The court's conservatives now outnumber its liberals, 6-3. They determine the substantive outcome of most cases as well as the timing of decisions. But despite the backbone they displayed in rebuffing Trump's 2020 election complaints, the conservatives may not have been willing to abandon Trump to deal with Vance and his prosecutorial team while he was still president.

Whatever the reason, there was no good excuse for the more than four-month delay on the Mazars subpoena, especially because the court was already familiar with the subpoena and the facts and issues it raised. Indeed, the subpoena was the subject of the court's historic 7-2 decision last July, which recognized the authority of a state grand jury to demand documents from a sitting president.

Writing for the majority in last year's case, Chief Justice John Roberts reached deep into the history of U.S. constitutional law, as I have noted before, citing the legendary Chief Justice John Marshall's approval of subpoenas issued to President Thomas Jefferson in the 1807 treason trial of Aaron Burr. Roberts' opinion was also layered with repeated references to the cases of United States v. Nixon and Clinton v. Jones.

In the process, Roberts rejected both the claim raised by Trump's private attorneys that sitting presidents enjoy "absolute immunity" from state criminal investigations, as well as an alternative contention advanced by the Trump Justice Department that state prosecutors must demonstrate a "heightened" standard of need before gaining access to the president's records.

Roberts and the majority, however, stopped short of ordering compliance with the subpoena. Instead, they remanded the case to the lower federal courts to permit Trump's attorneys to argue the subpoena was overly broad in scope and issued in bad faith. Afterward, in short order, both the federal district court judge assigned to the litigation in Manhattan as well as the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the subpoena, setting the stage for the Supreme Court to resolve the matter once and for all.

Lacking any sound basis to invalidate the subpoena, Trump's attorneys were obviously counting on continued delays to keep their client out of jail. But despite the rejection of their emergency petition, they may not be done trying yet.

According to CNN, the disgraced ex-president's lawyers are preparing to file a new petition with the Supreme Court, requesting a full hearing with oral arguments and a new briefing schedule to review the 2nd Circuit's ruling. If granted, such a petition could impose additional delays and restrictions on Vance's investigation.

Trump, for his part, has responded to the court's order in typical fashion, releasing a statement lambasting the order as a continuation of the "witch hunt" against him. "The Supreme Court never should have let this 'fishing expedition' happen, but they did," the statement asserted. "This is something which has never happened to a President before, it is all Democrat-inspired in a totally Democrat location, New York City and State, completely controlled and dominated by a heavily reported enemy of mine, Governor Andrew Cuomo."

To restore the public's faith in judicial independence, the court should reject any further efforts to undermine, limit or suspend the Vance investigation. In the aftermath of Trump's shameful acquittal in his second Senate impeachment trial, the court should stand aside and force Trump to face accountability.

Now a private citizen, Donald Trump deserves no more deference or protection from the judiciary than any other criminal suspect. It's high time to bring him to justice. Nothing less than the rule of law is at stake.

Bill Blum is a retired judge and a lawyer in Los Angeles. He is a lecturer at the University of Southern California Annenberg School for Communication. He writes regularly on law and politics and is the author of three widely acclaimed legal thrillers: Prejudicial Error, The Last Appeal, and The Face of Justice.

This article was produced by the Independent Media Institute.

Manhattan D.A. Is Probing Trump For Possible Fraud And 'Protracted Criminal Conduct'

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

In New York City, new court filings by the office of Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, according to the New York Times, indicate that President Donald Trump may be under investigation for possible fraud.

According to Times reporters William K. Rashbaum and Benjamin Weiser, the filings indicate a "significantly broader inquiry than the prosecutors have acknowledged in the past." And in the filings, Vance's office argues that Trump should have to comply with subpoenas that demanded eight years of the president's financial and tax documents.

Rashbaum and Weiser explain, "The reports, including investigations into the president's wealth and an article on the congressional testimony of his former lawyer and fixer, Michael D. Cohen, said that the president may have illegally inflated his net worth and the value of his properties to lenders and insurer."

According to the Associated Press, Vance has been investigating reports of "extensive and protracted criminal conduct at the Trump Organization."

The Supreme Court recently ruled that Vance's office had a right to demand Trump's financial documents as part of an investigation — and that Trump was not sheltered from such requests. Trump had been arguing that executive privilege sheltered him from Vance's inquiries.

Vance's prosecutors have been investigating to determine, among other things, whether hush money payments to women Trump had extramarital affairs with — including adult film star Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal — were illegal.

Pelosi: Republican ‘Scaredy-Cats’ Are Afraid Of The Truth

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi lit into Trump and Republicans who are clearly afraid of congressional investigations into Trump’s criminal activity, including calls to release the full, uncensored Mueller report.

After defending House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff (D-CA) from unhinged Republican attacks, Pelosi went on offense by calling out Republicans for their cowardly attempts to discredit Schiff’s investigations.

“What is the president afraid of? Is he afraid of the truth?” Pelosi asked at a Thursday press conference.

“They’re just scaredy-cats,” she added, referring to both Trump and Republicans.

Trump and his GOP enablers in Congress have spent the past week attacking Schiff for stating publicly that he believes there’s evidence Trump and his associates colluded with Russia during the 2016 campaign. Schiff is leading the Intelligence Committee’s investigation into Russian election interference, which includes inquiries into Trump’s financial and campaign ties to Russia.

Every Republican on the Intelligence Committee signed a letter demanding Schiff resign as chair, making the false allegation that Attorney General William Barr’s summary of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report exonerated Trump.

Before a Thursday committee hearing, Schiff turned the tables on the Republican side of his committee, rattling off a list of suspicious activities we already know Trump and his campaign operatives engaged in — including  that they tried to get damaging information about Hillary Clinton from Russian operatives and then lied about it after the fact.

“You might say that’s all okay, you might say that’s what you need to do to win. But I don’t think it’s okay,” Schiff said. “I think it’s immoral, I think it’s unethical, I think it’s unpatriotic, and yes, I think it’s corrupt and evidence of collusion.”

Schiff is leading the charge to force the Department of Justice to release the full Mueller report to Congress.

According to Barr’s very limited four-page summary of a 300-page report, Mueller “did not exonerate” Trump of obstructing justice, but also did not establish that Trump or his team knowingly conspired with the Russian government. But not all of the shady Russian operatives who interacted with the Trump campaign were government officials, and we still don’t know the details of what Mueller’s report said about Trump and Russia.

At the same press conference, Pelosi called Barr’s four-page summary “condescending” and “arrogant.” She called on the attorney general to release the full report, and said that Congress will “come to our own conclusions.”

While many Republicans in Congress are blocking attempts to see the full report, the overwhelming majority of Americans agree with Pelosi and Democrats that the report needs to be released in full.

In an NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll released on Friday, 3 in 4 Americans — including a majority of Democrats, Republicans, and independents — want to see the full, uncensored Mueller report. Only a paltry 18 percent think Barr’s summary is enough.

In a further show of support for congressional investigations, almost 2 in 3 Americans want Mueller and Barr to testify before Congress. This echoes a recent CNN poll showing the same high level of interest in congressional hearings.

Americans across the political spectrum want to see the full Mueller report, and want Congress to keep investigating until they get to the truth.

If Republicans don’t want the truth to come out, Pelosi is right to ask: “What is the president afraid of?”

Published with permission of The American Independent.

In Speech, Trump Pleads With Congress To End ‘Partisan’ Probes Of Him

Trump used his State of the Union address to desperately beg Congress to stop investigating the litany of potential criminal acts he and his administration may have engaged in.

After bragging about the economy, Trump said, “The only thing that can stop it are foolish wars, politics, or ridiculous, partisan investigations.” He went on to say, “If there is going to be peace in legislation, there cannot be war and investigation. It just does not work that way.”

Trump is about to find out exactly how Congress works, and it is that way.

Trump spent his first two years in office with a complicit GOP majority that turned a blind eye to the culture of corruption Trump brought to Washington, D.C. But Americans across the country elected a new Democratic majority to end Trump’s corruption and bring real accountability back to Congress.

Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), chair of the House Oversight Committee, has already sent more than 50 letters to the White House and Cabinet agencies demanding information and documents on the administration’s botched response to Hurricanes Irma and Maria in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands; Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner’s use of private email servers to conduct government business; the administration’s policy of ripping children away from their families and holding them in baby jails; and payments from foreign governments to the Trump Organization that personally enrich Trump and his family while in office.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi put some of the Democrats’ rising stars, like Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, and Katie Hill on the Oversight Committee.

Trump, his family, his campaign, and his administration are at the center of numerous investigations into very serious allegations. His begging won’t put an end to that.

Published with permission of The American Independent.