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Tag: trump pardons

Trump Pardons Accused Fraudster Bannon During Final Hours In Office

President Donald Trump pardoned his former campaign strategist Steve Bannon on his last day in office, according to CNN, following a fierce internal debate over Bannon's fate that was ultimately decided in his favor.

Bannon faced charges brought by federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York in an indictment released last August. Prosecutors allege that Bannon and three co-defendants defrauded thousands of donors to "We Build The Wall," a group raising money to construct a barrier along the southern border. The indictment charged that Bannon, Brian Kolfage, Andrew Badolato, and Timothy Shea siphoned at least a million dollars from the non-profit organization while claiming that the money went only to their construction project.

Attorneys and other Trump aides reportedly tried to discourage Trump from pardoning Bannon, but the president suddenly was keen to protect his former adviser, who has echoed Trump's lies about the presidential election. In fact Bannon has been among the most fanatical media promoters of unrest and even violence, as a leading voice in the "Stop the Steal" crusade that led to the sacking of the Capitol. That campaign apparently soothed Trump's fury at Bannon over disparaging public remarks about the president and his older children, especially Don Jr., whom he accused of "treasonous" behavior for secretly meeting with Kremlin agents during 2016.

If Bannon was auditioning for a pardon in recent weeks, his bloodthirsty pandering still gave pause to Trump's lawyers – who worried that the former adviser played a culpable role in the Capitol riot on January 6. For many weeks leading up to the assault on the Capitol, he broadcast strident calls to action, comparing the present political standoff to the bloody confrontations of the Revolutionary War and D-Day.

"All hell is going to break loose tomorrow," crowed Bannon on his January 5 "War Room" podcast, hours before erupting violence left five people dead, including a Capitol Police officer. "And all I can say is, strap in ... You have made this happen and tomorrow it's game day. So strap in. Let's get ready."

Until Tuesday evening, Trump aides and lawyers thought they had quashed the Bannon pardon. Evidently they were wrong.

'Call Your Lawyer': Experts Warn Of Legal Jeopardy For Trump's Coup Enablers

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Legal experts including a Harvard professor and a top election and voting rights attorney are weighing in on Sunday night's bombshell report from Rolling Stone naming members of Congress and the Trump administration who were involved in the planning and organizing of the January 6 rally and/or "Trump's efforts to overturn his election loss," according to two of the planners of the "Stop the Steal" rally.

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Former NY Observer Editor, Pardoned by Trump, Faces New Charges

By Jonathan Stempel

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Ken Kurson, a former editor of the New York Observer newspaper who was pardoned in January by then-U.S. President Donald Trump, was criminally charged on Wednesday by Manhattan prosecutors with spying on his former wife by accessing her computer.

Cyrus Vance, the Manhattan district attorney, said Kurson used spyware from computers at the Observer and elsewhere between September 2015 and March 2016 to obtain his wife's passwords and access her Gmail and Facebook accounts.

Kurson, who was divorcing his wife around that time, also anonymously disseminated some of her private Facebook messages, Vance said. The Observer was once owned by Trump's son-in-law and Kurson's friend Jared Kushner.

Kurson, 52, of South Orange, New Jersey, was charged with eavesdropping and computer trespass, both felonies carrying a maximum four-year prison term. Kurson is a political consultant and former speechwriter for Trump's former personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani.

A lawyer for Kurson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

U.S. prosecutors in Brooklyn last October charged Kurson with cyberstalking three people, at least one of whom he blamed for the breakdown of his marriage.

Though Trump's pardon ended that case, U.S. presidents cannot pardon people for state crimes.

"We will not accept presidential pardons as get-out-of-jail-free cards for the well-connected in New York," Vance said in a statement.

In announcing the pardon in January, Trump's White House said the federal probe of Kurson began only because of his reported nomination to the board of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Kurson was the Observer's editor in chief from 2013 to 2017. The newspaper endorsed Trump for president in 2016.

Another pardon recipient, former 2016 Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, was separately charged by Vance with mortgage fraud and other crimes, but that case was dismissed in February on double jeopardy grounds.

In July, Vance charged Trump's family business, the Trump Organization, and its chief financial officer with running a "sweeping" 15-year tax fraud. Both pleaded not guilty.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Will Dunham)

VIDEO: Flynn Jokes About Assassination While Brandishing Assault Rifle

Former Trump administration National Security Adviser Michael Flynn has made more than his fair share of disturbing, jaw-dropping remarks-- like telling the former guy he should impose martial law to hold a new election or suggesting a Myanmar-like coup at a QAnon conference in May. But he seemed to reach a new low when he joked about using a newly gifted assault rifle to carry out an assassination in the nation's capital.

"We were trying to come up with a rifle that we thought was appropriate for a general, so we went with an old-school Woodland camouflage...one of our top-quality guns," said Jason Parker, a gun company employee who gifted the weapon to Flynn.

"Maybe I'll find somebody in Washington, D.C.," Flynn replied, prompting an uproar of chuckles.

The disgraced Trump official made the chilling "joke" on Sunday at the Church of Glad Tidings in Yuba City, California while accepting what appeared to be a Woodland Camo AR-15 from the church

Flynn, a devout QAnon follower and retired Army general, has continued to raise eyebrows and the anxiety levels of Americans with his extremist comments since being pardoned by the former president.

Needless to say, Flynn's latest push for terrorism received ignominy from across the country.

Michael McFaul, former ambassador to Russia during the Obama administration, said:

Columnist David Weissman, a former U.S. Army vet and Trump supporter, had this to say:

Sarah Reese Jones of PoliticusUSA chimed in:

Gaetz Exposure Deepens With New Evidence Of Trump Pardon Effort

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

Reps. Matt Gaetz and Marjorie Taylor Greene were about to kick off a road show, traveling the nation to attack "the radical left" and insufficiently extremist Republicans. And then the other shoe dropped in the ever-developing scandal around Gaetz's apparent habit of paying for sex, in one case allegedly with a minor.

That scandal has been developing for a month, starting with the revelation that Gaetz is under federal investigation as part of a broader sex trafficking investigation involving former Seminole County, Florida, tax collector Joel Greenberg, who is under indictment already. Gaetz initially tried to deflect by claiming his family was being extorted in a bizarre scheme involving a hostage in Iran who is generally believed to be dead—a claim that Gaetz mostly moved on from when it became clear that no one thought it exonerated him.

Revelation after revelation followed: Gaetz had showed nude pictures of women to fellow members of Congress. As a Florida legislator, he participated in a sex game in which points were awarded for sex with different categories of women, including interns. He took a trip to the Bahamas paid for in part by a "marijuana entrepreneur" … and part of what was paid for may have included women.

So we've already heard a lot. Really, we've probably heard more than enough about Matt Gaetz and sex, because even before you get to the predatory behavior, just … ick. But there is more.

Gaetz typically didn't pay women for sex directly — instead, he paid Greenberg, who then paid the women. That means Greenberg knows a lot, and since Greenberg is facing significant legal trouble, he appears to be motivated to talk. But before he started talking to the federal government, Greenberg talked to Roger Stone in late 2020 in hopes that Stone could convince Donald Trump to give him a last-minute pardon.

Greenberg talked to Stone a lot, and The Daily Beast has the receipts in the form of Signal chats between Greenberg and Stone, and a lengthy confession letter Greenberg wrote for Stone to use in his efforts with Trump. Of note, Gaetz had at one point posted a social media picture of himself, Stone, and Greenberg.

In the letter, of which The Daily Beast has multiple drafts, Greenberg describes learning through "an anonymous tip" that a woman—well, as it turned out, girl—in his and Gaetz's sex trafficking scheme was 17 years old.

"Immediately I called the congressman and warned him to stay clear of this person and informed him she was underage," Greenberg wrote. "He was equally shocked and disturbed by this revelation."

They were so shocked and disturbed that they stayed away from the girl only until after she turned 18. She was one of the women paid by Greenberg immediately after Gaetz sent him $900 through Venmo with the note "hit up [her nickname]."

In his communications with Stone, Greenberg was hanging his argument for a pardon in part on the threat to Gaetz. "And while I have not had any communication with MG, he absolutely has to know that the sex charge they hit me with would be what they would hit him with," he wrote in one of the Signal messages. "All he has to is explain to POTUS the situation and his exposure, and it would be very easy to do."

"MG is like a son to POTUS. MG is like a brother to me."

Well, we know how far "like a son" goes with Donald Trump, and now we know how far "like a brother" goes with Matt Gaetz. And to Greenberg, who seems to have been screen-shotting his Signal chats with Stone before they could disappear, in just one of a series of insurance policies he set up for himself should the pardon effort fail, as it did.

Gaetz is defiant and is attempting to remain a significant figure in the Republican Party, as his planned tour with Greene shows. But even before the investigation into him became public, it was serious enough that then-Attorney General William Barr was reportedly taking steps to avoid being photographed near him. Attacking the media will only go so far if and when he faces federal charges.

Roger Stone Complains About IRS “Deep State” Lawsuit Against Him

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

The U.S. Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against Roger Stone on Friday, April 16, alleging that he owes the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) nearly $2 million. Now, Stone is firing back with his take on the latest lawsuit.

As reports about the lawsuit began circulating online, Stone took to Telegram with his reaction. Along with links to reports about the case, Stone said, "Same Deep State Bullshit — different day," reports Law & Crime.

He added, "After Robert Mueller's dirty cops destroyed me financially the Department of Injustice, well aware of the fact that I have no income and no assets files a bogus civil suit against me. I guess they're still really pissed off about the pardon. Now I have no choice but to defeat them again."

Stone concluded his post with the hashtag written in third person that says, "#RogerStoneStillDidNothingWrong."

However, the Justice Department and IRS argue otherwise. According to the lawsuit, "For each of the years 2007 through 2011, Roger and Nydia Stone filed joint federal income tax returns but did not pay in full the amount of the income taxes they reported as due," the lawsuit alleges. What follows is a chart listing payments the Stones allegedly failed to make."

It also reads, "Despite notice and demand for payment, Roger and Nydia Stone have failed and refused to pay the entire amount of the liabilities described . . . [t]aking into account all payments, credits, and abatements, as of April 2, 2021, Roger and Nydia Stone jointly and severally owe $1,590,361.89 in unpaid income taxes, penalties, and interest for tax years 2007 through 2011, plus further interest and statutory additions that continue to accrue."

The lawsuit also highlights back taxes from 2018 that Stone failed to pay. According to the lawsuit, that year, the political operative filed a separate tax return that did not include his wife. The agency insists Stone "owes the government $407,036.84 after not paying 'in full the taxes he reported.'"

In addition to the Stones, a number of other entities are also named in the lawsuit. Law & Crime reports that those entities include: " Drake Ventures LLC (an "an alter ego of the Stones"), the Bertran Family Revocable Trust ("which holds title to the condominium where the Stones reside"), and an assortment of other parties (Broward County, Fla.; Russell Harris; Galleria Lofts Condominium Association, Inc.; and Galleria Lofts LLC)."

If the tax lawsuit proves to be ineffective in resolving the alleged debt, the Justice Department "seeks an order setting aside the transfer of the Stone Residence to the Bertran Trust as fraudulent."

"The Stones dominated and controlled Drake Ventures to such an extent that it does not exist as an independent entity," the lawsuit claims. According to court documents, the Stones "entered into an installment agreement with the IRS that required them to pay $19,485 each month toward their unpaid taxes." However, "[a]fter Roger Stone's indictment," the couple bought their home "in the name of the Bertran Trust."

Based on the suit, a total of six counts are alleged against the couple. Those counts include:

  1. Unpaid federal income taxes spanning the years 2007 through 2011 by both Roger and Nydia Stone
  2. Unpaid federal income taxes in 2018 for Roger Stone individually
  3. Alter ego liability for Drake Ventures;
  4. Fraudulent transfer to the Bertran Trust
  5. Nominee liability for the Bertran Trust
  6. The case seeks a declaratory judgment as to federal tax liens against all defendants."

Roger Stone has not yet released an official statement about the lawsuit.

Manhattan DA Seeks Bannon Records, Pursuing Alleged Crimes Pardoned By Trump

NEW YORK — Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance recently subpoenaed financial records relating to a fraudulent “build the wall” scam allegedly orchestrated by Steve Bannon — signaling the New York prosecutor is looking to go after the right-wing strategist for crimes pardoned by former President Donald Trump, according to a report Wednesday. Vance issued the grand jury subpoenas to Wells Fargo and GoFundMe in late January after Trump preemptively pardoned Bannon for any federal crimes he may have committed as part of an alleged $25 million scheme to defraud donors to a crowdfunding campaign th...