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Tag: trump pardons

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.

Report: Gaetz Asked Trump To Grant Him A Broad, ‘Pre-Emptive’ Pardon

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

In a self-serving op-ed published earlier this week, Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz warned that there would be a "drip drip drip" of new information accusing him of various and sundry acts. It was a nice warning, though really not necessary. After all, Gaetz is nothing if not 300 lbs. of putrescence in a 200-lb. bag. There are going to be leaks.

What's already been made clear is that Gaetz was deeply connected for an extended period, with indicted sex trafficker Joel Greenberg. The two were apparently involved in manufacturing false IDs for underage girls. Gaetz bragged on Greenberg's ability to secure women for sex. In turn, Gaetz also reportedly procured women for other Republican officials. Gaetz also had a proclivity for showing nude photos and videos of his supposed conquests to fellow Republicans in Congress. Meanwhile, his staff was sending more videos of Gaetz's exploits to their counterparts around town. And all this videography followed Gaetz's taking the lead in an attempt to defeat a bill banning revenge porn, because he was dedicated to the idea that once he had an "intimate" image of someone, he should be able to use it however he wanted.

In short, every Republican official in both Florida and Washington seemed to know everything that Matt Gaetz was up to. All of them are now claiming they never liked it. None of them did a damned thing about it.

And the latest drip to escape that big bag of corruption is that Gaetz tried to get Donald Trump to give him a "preemptive pardon" for every crime he's committed, and to give more pardons to all his sex trafficking pals. And interestingly, Gaetz apparently asked for pardons for some other members of Congress.

As The New York Times reported on Tuesday evening, even as Gaetz was singing along with the "Trump won" chorus, he was also chasing his hero around the White House, begging for shelter from the coming storm. Gaetz complained that there was a "bloodlust" among his political opponents, and because of that he would need a "broad pardon" that included "unidentified congressional allies."

What these other members of Congress may have done that made it necessary to hand them all Get Out of Jail Free cards isn't clear. Though there's some suspicion that Gaetz may have included other Trump favorites in his pardon request to "camouflage" the fact that Gaetz was about to need a whole lot of pardoning all on his own. What Trump thought of this was also unclear, but White House lawyers seemed to have turned Gaetz away—and there are people who okayed extensive pardons for both Roger Stone and Michael Flynn.

A Gaetz spokesman has issued a statement denying that the Florida Republican ever asked for a pardon. Which, because every aspect of this affair demands to be simply bizarre, is based on the idea that Gaetz was always asking for pardons: "… he called for President Trump to pardon 'everyone from himself, to his administration, to Joe Exotic.'" So clearly Gaetz never asked Trump to pardon anyone, because he was on record asking Trump to pardon everyone.

The Times also quotes Gaetz as bragging about how often he was in contact with Trump. In listing all the places, Gaetz says he answered a Trump call while "in the throes of passion." However, he doesn't say whether that passion involved a school girl flown cross country on a fake ID. Gaetz also says he took a call from Trump while "on the throne." One has to suspect there may have been a large amount of grunting on both ends of that call.

As ABC News notes, even in a White House that was regularly handing out broad pardons to pals who had committed everything from tax fraud to threatening murder, Gaetz's request would have been pretty out there. In asking for a preemptive pardon that would absolve him of any crimes charged, Gaetz was essentially asking for permission to go forth and crime all he wanted. There are real questions as to whether the "unlimited" power of presidential pardons is quite that unlimited.

It's not certain if Trump knew about the Justice Department investigation into Gaetz when the pardon request came in. However, it certainly seems that Gaetz knew the jig was soon to be up.

Meanwhile, Politico has more details on Greenberg. That includes his penchant for dressing the employees at his tax assessment office in body armor and requiring them to carry weapons. That includes going armed to business conferences. Greenberg also installed—at taxpayer expense—a sprinkler system expressly so he could soak protesters by remote control. And he handed out unprecedentedly fat contracts to his friends, after running a campaign talking about "draining the swamp" and "ending crony capitalism." Add in rampant racism, islamophobia, and endless misogyny, and Greenberg seems like the very model of the modern Republican.

Greenberg has managed to pick up at least 33 indictments. How many of those will also end up being applied to Gaetz is still to be determined, but as a Florida attorney who worked for one of Greenberg's opponents said, this isn't a story just about Gaetz, or even about Gaetz and Greenberg. "Ultimately, it's about abuse of power and how the Republican Party lost its way with guys like this. ... They're the embodiment of Trumpism."

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...

How Trump’s Pardons Of Bannon And Manafort Could Backfire

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

As expected, former President Donald Trump pardoned a long list of cronies during his final weeks in office, including Paul Manafort, his former 2016 campaign manager, and former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon. Andrew Weissmann, who served as a lead prosecutor for then-Special Counsel Robert Mueller's office from 2017-2019, offers a legal analysis and critique of Trump's "abuse of the pardon power" in an article for Just Security.

And according to Weissmann, Trump hasn't necessarily saved Manafort and Bannon from all legal exposure.

"In issuing his pardons, Trump, true to form, followed no process," Weissmann explains. "He did not seek to identify those most worthy of the use of the clemency process. Instead, his abuse of this constitutional power has led many to deplore the expansive executive authority, although it can be a means of meting out justice when wielded impartially and even-handedly to the most deserving after due consideration of the interests of numerous parties."

Some of Trump's pardons, Weissmann notes, were "exceedingly broad" — for example, the pardon of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.

"Flynn's pardon on Nov. 25, 2020 covers most any crime one can imagine, clearly seeking to leave no room for now holding Flynn to account for his past felonious conduct," Weissmann observes. "But oddly, not all of Trump's pardons followed the Flynn model. Indeed, many are narrowly drawn.

Weissmann cites Trump's Manafort pardon as an example of one that is "narrowly drawn." In Manafort's case, Weissmann writes, the "pardon is solely for the crimes of conviction: eight in the Eastern District of Virginia and two in the District of Columbia." And according to Weissmann, "That leaves numerous crimes as to which Manafort can still be prosecuted, as in Virginia, there were ten hung counts."

"In Washington," Weissmann adds, "the situation is even more wide open. In that district, Manafort pleaded to a superseding information containing two conspiracy charges, while the entire underlying indictment — containing numerous crimes, from money laundering to witness tampering to violation of the Foreign Agents Registration Act — now remains open to prosecution, as there was no conviction for those charges."

Another pardon Weissmann considers "narrowly drawn" is Trump's pardon of Bannon. In Weissmann's view, Bannon still has legal exposure despite the pardon Trump issued on his last full day in office.

Trump's Bannon pardon, according to Weissman, "applies to the pending 'offenses charged,' and not the underlying conduct, as it pardons Bannon for the specific counts charged."

"It also pardons crimes that could be charged for the underlying conduct under Chapter 95 of Title 18 of the United States Code — basically, racketeering type charges," Weissmann writes. "But that clearly leaves — unpardoned — numerous potential federal charges, such as mail and wire fraud. It is rare that a prosecutor charges all such counts that could be charged, as it would overwhelm a jury and is unnecessary to increasing a sentence upon conviction."

Trump Issued Last-Minute Pardon To Pirro’s Ex-Husband

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

On almost every Saturday night for the past four years former judge, Jeanine Pirro, has used her Fox News show to praise and defend President Donald Trump, frequently in a screaming rant. Pirro is close friends with the soon-to-be former president, so it surprised some that her ex-husband's name was not on the list of 143 pardons and commutations Trump released overnight.

That list now stands at 144.

Albert Pirro, Trump's former real estate attorney, has just been granted a full pardon by President Donald Trump, literally with minutes remaining in his term.

Danziger Draws

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.