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Under Pressure: Will Ivanka Finally Flip On Daddy?

New York Attorney General Letitia James has subpoenaed Ivanka to testify and produce documents related to the Trump Organization's shady business practices. James has also subpoenaed Donald Trump Sr. and Donald Jr. Last October, Eric Trump had his deposition taken in the same probe, and reportedly invoked his Fifth Amendment right to remain silent over 500 times.

The House select committee investigating the January 6 attack on the Capitol is also interested in Ivanka. In a letter sent on Jan. 20, the committee asked Ivanka to sit for an interview to discuss the events of January 6, and to share her knowledge of any "conversations [she] may have witnessed or participated in regarding the [former] President’s plan to obstruct or impede the counting of electoral votes."

The letter expressed particular interest in hearing from Ivanka on four overlapping subjects: (1) The ex-president's calls with Mike Pence. (2) Any statements made by the former president on Jan. 6 about the attack on the Capitol. (3) The ex-president's reasons for refusing to summon the National Guard and his delay in urging his supporters to end their siege on the Capitol. (4) And any light Ivanka might be able to shed on her father's activities and conduct in the days after January 6, "including President Trump's state of mind during that period and whether the President took appropriate action regarding the continuing threats of violence."

None of this is good news for someone who wants to redeem her tarnished social image and regain her spot on the glitterati A-list.

Thus far, however, Ivanka has shown no interest in cooperating. She has refused to comply with the New York subpoenas, and publicly has shown no interest in meeting with the select committee.

Both James and the committee appear equally determined. James has asked a New York judge to compel Ivanka's compliance, and the committee has proven that it is willing to play hardball with anyone who snubs it. Just ask Steve Bannon and Mark Meadows.

This is not the first time speculation has arisen that Ivanka might turn against her father. Back in July, after the Manhattan district attorney charged the Trump Organization and its chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg, with falsifying business records and other financial felonies, Mary Trump, the ex-president's niece, told the Daily Beast that Ivanka was far less likely to remain loyal to her father than Weisselberg.

"I think kind of in the grand scheme of things, as counterintuitive as this might sound...Ivanka has, one, more to lose and, two, more to hang onto. Her husband's family is legitimately very wealthy," Mary Trump said. "If there are two sets of books for Allen, there are two sets of books for other people. And I think we're also going to find that in these millions of pages of documents [that prosecutors have obtained] there will be more evidence."

Even before Mary Trump offered her take, I offered mine in a column I wrote for Salon and Raw Story in early December 2020, suggesting that ultimately the best course for Ivanka might be to cooperate with prosecutors in exchange for an immunity agreement to shield herself from personal legal liability.

Two weeks before I wrote the column, The New York Times had reported that James and the Manhattan DA were looking into the Trump Organization for alleged income-tax-avoidance schemes, including questionable deductions claimed for "consulting fees" paid to Ivanka and other individuals and businesses.

In September 2020, the Times published a mammoth expose of Donald Trump's financial dealings, revealing that between 2010 and 2018, the Trump Organization wrote off "$26 million in unexplained 'consulting fees'" as business expenses on its tax returns. The $26 million included $747,622 paid to an unidentified individual. That amount, it turned out, exactly matched income Ivanka listed as consulting fees on the 2017 financial disclosure forms she filed when she joined the White House staff.

There is nothing illegal about receiving compensation for consulting work, provided that services are actually rendered. But Ivanka's consulting services looked anything but routine.

In my column, I quoted comments made by former New York City prosecutor Elura Nanos and CNN legal analyst Elie Honig about the consulting fees. Nanos explained in an article written for the Law & Crime website that Ivanka was "an executive officer of both of the company making the payment and the company doing the consulting. When a key person is on both sides of such a transaction, tax deductions could be illegal if the payments were inflated."

Honig, who spent eight years working as an assistant U.S. prosecuting white-collar crime, described Ivanka's predicament even more bluntly in an on-air interview:

"I used to do Mafia cases. This is exactly what they would do. If they wanted to take money out of a company and put it in the pocket of an individual, they would say, 'We'll just call it a consulting fee.' That does not make it okay on its own. The question… is did Ivanka Trump actually give consulting services worth $747,000? I mean, think about that."

Ivanka reacted to the news back then that she was being investigated in true Trump fashion, rage-tweeting:

"This is harassment pure and simple. This 'inquiry' by NYC democrats is 100% motivated by politics, publicity and rage. They know very well that there's nothing here and that there was no tax benefit whatsoever. These politicians are simply ruthless."

The new round of subpoenas from James, combined with the select committee's letter, must make Ivanka wonder, to quote Yogi Berra, if "It's deja vu all over again."

I'm not predicting that Ivanka will suddenly see the light and turn "state's evidence" against her father and siblings as investigators pepper her staccato-style with questions. This isn't an episode of Law and Order. It's real life.

But, then again, Ivanka's real life is about to get far more uncomfortable. In the end, she might just consider the joys and benefits of cooperation. The alternative is to hope for the best and follow Eric's lead of taking the 5th. And that certainly won't be a good look for someone seeking redemption.

Reprinted with permission from Blum's Law

Day Of Reckoning: In Pursuit Of All The Ex-President’s Crimes

As we embark on a new year, we find ourselves asking the same old question about the disgraced 45th president of the United States: When—if ever--will Donald Trump be brought to justice?

As president, Trump weathered both the Mueller investigation and two impeachment trials. And to this day, he has yet to be charged with a single criminal offense, whether for his attempts to undermine the results of the 2020 election; his role in sparking the January 6, 2021, insurrection; or his sordid history in the private sector as a marketing con man and real-estate huckster.

Understandably, many Americans have become cynical about the prospects of holding Trump to account. Many fear that Trump has forever damaged what remains of our collective commitment to the rule of law.

But all is not lost. Amid the gloom, there are encouraging signs that Trump may finally be headed for a day of reckoningRobert

The House January 6 Select Committee is diligently investigating the origins of the insurrection, including Trump’s part in inciting the riot at the Capitol that delayed the certification of Joe Biden’s victory. Both Bennie Thompson (D-SC), the committee’s chairperson, and Liz Cheney (R-WY), the ranking Republican, have disclosed that Trump is under consideration for a criminal referral to the Justice Department.

At the same time, state-level investigations against Trump appear to be heating up in New York and Georgia.

While we endure the agonizing wait, investigators have a truly staggering array of potential charges to shift through and analyze. They include:

Federal Crimes

I. Offenses Related to the Insurrection and the Attempt to Halt or Delay the Certification of the 2020 Electoral College Vote Count.

Inciting an Insurrection, 18 U.S.C. § 2383, maximum penalty: ten years in prison.

Seditious Conspiracy, 18 U.S.C. § 2384, maximum penalty: twenty years in prison.

Conspiracy to Defraud the United States, 18 U.S.C. § 371, maximum penalty: five years in prison.

Obstructing an Official Proceeding, 18 U.S.C. § 1512, maximum penalty twenty years in prison.

II. Offenses Related to the Phone Call Pressuring Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “Find” Enough Votes to Overturn the State’s Election Results.

Depriving or Defrauding the Citizens of a State of a Fair and Impartially Conducted Election, 52 U.S.C. § 20511, maximum penalty: five years.

Conspiracy to Deprive the Citizens of a State of Rights Secured by the Constitution, 18 U.S.C. § 241, maximum penalty: ten years.

III. Offenses Related to the 2016 Election, the Hush-Money Payoffs to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, and the 2017 “Reimbursements” to Michael Cohen.

Conspiracy to Defraud the United States, 18 U.S.C. § 371, maximum penalty: five years in prison.

Campaign Finance Law Violations, 52 U.S.C. § 30109, maximum penalty: five years in prison.

IV. Offenses Related to the Mueller Investigation, and the Attempts to Halt or Otherwise Derail the Investigation.

Obstruction of Justice, 18 U.S.C. §§ 1503, 1505, 1510, 1512, maximum penalty: ten years.

New York Crimes

Offenses Related to Private Business Practices.

Falsifying Business Records, New York Penal Law, § 175.10, maximum penalty: four years in prison.

Tax Fraud, New York Tax Law, § 1806, maximum penalty: twenty-five years in prison.

Insurance Fraud, New York Penal Law, § 176.30, maximum penalty: twenty-five years in prison.

Conspiracy, New York Penal Law, § 105, maximum penalty: twenty-five years in prison.

Racketeering and Organized Criminal Activity, New York Penal Law § 460, maximum penalty: twenty-five years in prison.

Georgia Crimes

Offenses Related to the Raffensperger Phone Call:

Solicitation to Commit Election Fraud, Georgia Code § 21-2-64, maximum penalty: ten years in prison.

Tampering with a Voter’s Certificate, Georgia Code § 21-2-56, maximum penalty: ten years in prison.

There is no guarantee, of course, that any of this will lead to an actual arraignment.

While in office, Trump was shielded with temporary immunity from federal prosecution as a result of the Justice Department’s longstanding policy against indicting a sitting president. Although that immunity is gone, Trump would nonetheless be protected by the presumption of innocence, just like any other private citizen, were he to be prosecuted now. And it would represent a historic first for a former U.S. president to be charged with a crime. No prosecutor, state or federal, is going to roll the dice unless they are confident that they could prove Trump’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Ultimately, the final calls will be made by three prosecutors: Attorney General Merrick Garland on the federal level; Alvin Bragg Jr., the incoming Manhattan District Attorney in January; and Fani Willis, the Fulton County, GA, District Attorney.

Thus far in his tenure as the nation’s top law-enforcement officer, Garland has proven to be upright but overly cautious. Willis is viewed by some observers as being overburdened by an enormous caseload of ordinary prosecutions. Bragg is untested.

Whether any of the three prove to be up to the challenge, one thing is certain: It isn’t sufficient to prosecute the low-level rioters who stormed the Capitol. To restore the rule of law, the leaders of the insurrection must be charged and tried. This includes the ringleader of them all—Donald Trump.

In both New York and federal courts, the basic statute of limitations specifies that charges must be brought within five years of the commission of a felony. In Georgia, the general statute is four years.

The clock is ticking. There is no more time to waste.

Article reprinted with permission from Bill Blum| Blum's Law

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.

Why Bill Barr Is The Second Biggest Loser Of Trump’s Regime

This article was produced by the Independent Media Institute.

Of all the bombastic statements ever uttered by Attorney General William "Bill" Barr, a remark made toward the end of a lengthy interview with CBS News in May will be remembered above the rest. Asked how "history" will look upon his controversial motion to dismiss the criminal charges that Special Counsel Robert Mueller brought against Michael Flynn for making false statements to the FBI, Barr raised his eyebrows, chortled loudly, and flashed a sly smile.

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As Trumps' Legal Jeopardy Mounts, Will Ivanka Snitch On Daddy?

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

If you're a fan of TV crime procedurals, you've no doubt seen shows where detectives interrogate two suspects detained in separate and austere holding rooms. The object is to get one of the perps to snitch on his or her accomplice and "turn state's evidence" in return for leniency.

The dramas may feature different actors and different crimes, but the essential script components are the same: The cops offer immunity, witness protection, or some other favorable treatment in exchange for a confession. The arrestees, however, remain defiant, and hang tough. Some sit stone-faced and silent. Others smirk and laugh. Still others hurl back insults, accusing the cops of incompetence and a rush to judgment.

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Trump Faces Pardon Dilemma As He Maneuvers To Avoid Indictment




This article was produced by the
Independent Media Institute.

Donald Trump is becoming more fearful and anxious by the day. Above everything else, he desperately wants to save his own skin and avoid spending his remaining days outfitted in an orange prison jumpsuit. This is why, as the legal challenges to his humiliating defeat at the polls fail one by one, he will eventually shed his phony tough-guy facade and seek refuge in a presidential pardon for the myriad of federal felonies he may have committed.

The question is not whether Trump will pursue the pardon remedy, but precisely when and how he will do so. Even though a presidential pardon would apply only to federal offenses and leave him exposed to charges under New York law arising from the ongoing probe conducted by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, he has no other viable choice.

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Why Chief Justice Roberts May Fail To Protect The 2020 Election

This article was produced by the Independent Media Institute.

As election day approaches, voting-rights lawsuits are heating up across the country. In two separate federal cases in August, 20 states and the District of Columbia sued President Trump and Postmaster General Louis DeJoy to reverse cutbacks to the postal system designed to undermine the agency's ability to deliver the expected upsurge in mail-in ballots this fall.

At the same time, the Trump administration has filed federal lawsuits to invalidate vote-by-mail procedures adopted in Pennsylvania, Nevada, and New Jersey. The administration alleges, without any supporting evidence, that easing the rules on mail-in balloting will lead to massive fraud.

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How Trump Exploited The Legal Infrastructure To Advance Fascism In America

This article was produced by the Independent Media Institute.

The debate over whether Donald Trump is a fascist is no longer confined to a narrow segment of the far left. It is now out in the open. Even mainstream columnists like the New York Times' Michelle Goldberg and the Washington Post's Ishaan Tharoor and influential Democratic politicians, such as Oregon Senator Ron Wyden, have come to use the "F" word to describe our 45th commander in chief.

Although it is an emotionally loaded and often misused term, fascism is as real today as a political and cultural force, a set of core beliefs, and a mode of governance as it was when Benito Mussolini founded the Italian Fascist Party in 1919 and declared himself dictator six years later.

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No, The Constitution Doesn’t Protect Coronavirus Deniers

This article was produced by the Independent Media Institute.

In the annals of American jurisprudence, few legal adages have gained wider currency or proven more adaptable to changing times and circumstances than the phrase, "The Constitution is not a suicide pact."

While the exact provenance of the dictum is unclear, the expression is most often attributed to a dissenting opinion written in 1949 by the late Supreme Court Associate Justice Robert Jackson in the case of Terminiello v. Chicago.

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Trump Has Too Much To Fear — And Won’t Leave Quietly

This article was produced by the Independent Media Institute.

The presidency of Donald John Trump is collapsing. Unwilling or unable to confront the deadly realities of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has claimed more than 138,000 American lives, the president's job-approval ratings have plummeted. The ravages of the virus, in turn, have triggered a deep economic slump, pushing unemployment rates to levels not seen since the Great Depression of the 1930s. There is a growing perception that our 45th commander in chief, never known for his intellectual acuity or moral rectitude, is unfit to lead the nation in this moment of extreme crisis.

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Will Roberts Reject Trump’s Legal Assault On Obamacare?

This article was produced by the Independent Media Institute.

If you're one of the 23.3 million Americans who depend on Obamacare for your survival, brace yourself for a looming disaster: In the midst of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic, President Trump is trying yet again to take away your health insurance, and this time he may succeed.

Having failed to persuade Congress to repeal Obamacare in 2017 (remember the historic "thumbs down" vote cast by John McCain), Trump now is asking the Supreme Court to reexamine the law, formally known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), and declare the entire statute unconstitutional in a new case—California v. Texas. The case, which began as a federal lawsuit filed by Texas and a group of other predominantly Republican-led states, has been added to the court's docket for the 2020 term, which starts in October.

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Black Lives Matter Lawsuit Holds Barr Personally Liable In Civil Rights Violations

This article was produced by the Independent Media Institute.

No attorney general since John Mitchell has gotten away with assaulting the rule of law more than Bill Barr. But unlike Mitchell, who served 19 months in prison for his role in the Watergate scandal, Barr has yet to be held accountable for his ever-expanding laundry list of outrageous misdeeds and derelictions.

To be sure, there have been several efforts to bring Barr to heel. Last July, for example, the House voted to hold both Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in criminal contempt for refusing to turn over documents related to the Trump administration's attempt to include a citizenship question in the 2020 census. But in an act of defiance that surprised absolutely no one, the DOJ, which Barr heads, refused to pursue charges against either cabinet member, leaving the House with no means of enforcement.

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Will Trump Make America A Failed State?

This article was produced by the Independent Media Institute.

There are no universally accepted definitions of either a "failed state" or a "constitutional crisis." Good arguments can be advanced, however, that we are suffering from both disorders at the state and national levels in the midst of the lethal COVID-19 pandemic.

In a May 19 article, Guardian columnist Nathan Robinson argues that Wisconsin is beginning to resemble a failed state, which he defines as "one that can no longer claim legitimacy or perform a government's core function of protecting the people's basic security." The Wisconsin GOP, Robinson writes, is a minority party, but after years of extreme gerrymandering, it wields de facto dictatorial powers, enabling it to gut public-sector unions and advance the privileges of business interests and the wealthy.

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Supreme Court Must Decide Whether Trump Is Above The Law

This article was produced by the Independent Media Institute.

"L'état, c'est moi" ("I am the state") —Declaration attributed to Louis XIV, King of France

Article II of the U.S. Constitution vests the executive power of the federal government in a president, not a king. Kings rule by fiat. The president is supposed to govern with the consent of the people and in coordination with Congress and the judiciary, the two other co-equal branches of government.

Donald Trump, our 45th president, has never accepted our constitutional structure of checks and balances, asserting instead, as he did in a speech last July, that under Article II, "I have the right to do whatever I want as president."

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Trump Escalates His Angry Assault On The First Amendment

This article was produced by the Independent Media Institute.

Donald Trump is at war with the First Amendment and the free press. The war is on full display nearly every day in his rage-filled press conferences on the COVID-19 pandemic, in which he regularly condemns the "fake news" media and bashes reporters who dare to ask the slightest probative questions about his handling of the ongoing public-health crisis.

Trump's war is also longstanding. And it is waged not only on television and in angry tweets and at campaign rallies (which have been put on hold because of the coronavirus), but also in courtrooms across the country in the form of defamation lawsuits designed to shame, silence and punish his critics.

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