Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Biographer Foresees ‘Harrowing’ Experience For Trump As Probe Unfolds

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

Trump biographer Tim O’Brien predicts that the next few months are going to be very unpleasant for the president, as House Democrats conduct a thorough probe of his personal finances.

Writing in Bloomberg, O’Brien draws on his own experience of getting sued by Trump last decade to discuss the president’s shady financial dealings that could get him into trouble for insurance fraud, among other crimes.

“Scrutiny of Trump’s insurance dealings is just the beginning of what is going to be a long, meandering and possibly harrowing experience for the president, his family, longtime employees, many of his business partners and the White House,” he writes. “Federal prosecutors in Manhattan, attorneys general in Virginia, New York and the District of Columbia, five committees within the House of Representatives and, now, banking and insurance regulators, are all putting the Trump Organization and the president’s financial and political dealings under a wide array of microscopes.”

O’Brien notes that we already know of one shady character in Trump’s orbit who is scheduled to testify before Congress: Felix Sater, the Russian-American former mobster who worked with former “fixer” Michael Cohen to negotiate with Russian officials to build a Trump Tower in Moscow even as he was running for president.

O’Brien describes Sater as a “career criminal” and says he could offer information about not just the Moscow project, but also the Trump Soho hotel project that has been scrutinized as a potential vehicle for international money laundering.

Looking at all these potential targets for investigations, O’Brien concludes that many of the president’s closest allies might turn on him to save themselves from legal jeopardy.

“If Cohen is any indication… many, if not everybody, at the Trump Organization and elsewhere may decide to protect themselves before they protect the president,” he writes. “Investigators have landed on the money trail.”

IMAGE: Donald Trump with Felix H. Sater (right) and Tevfik Arif at the official unveiling of Trump SoHo in September 2007, when it was still under construction. Credit Mark Von Holden/WireImage

FBI Raids Chicago Office Of Former Trump Tax Lawyer

Reprinted with permission from AlterNet.

 

Federal agents on Thursday raided the office of an attorney who in the past has handled the Trump Organization’s taxes.

The Chicago Sun-Times reports that “federal agents showed up unannounced at the City Hall office of Finance Committee Chairman Ed Burke, kicked everyone out and papered over the windows Thursday morning.”

Although it is unclear whether the raid was related to President Donald Trump, the raid on Burke’s office is sure to raise eyebrows given that it came on the same day that Trump “fixer” Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about Trump Tower Moscow.

According to the Sun-Times, Burke did work for the Trump Organization’s taxes for the past twelve years before the two parties severed their business relationship earlier this year.

This past June, the Sun-Times reported that Burke “announced his breakup with Trump in letters filed last month with the Cook County courts and the Illinois State Property Tax Appeal Board” in which he wrote that “‘irreconcilable differences’ have led his firm to stop representing Trump’s company and step aside in five current cases that seek refunds of millions of dollars in property taxes the president’s company has paid.”

Law enforcement officials have so far declined to comment on the nature and purpose of the raid on Burke’s office.

Watch the report below, via ABC 7.

Brad Reed is a news writer at Raw Story.

 

Trump’s Unsecured Phone May Be ‘Largest White House Breach Ever’

Reprinted with permission from AlterNet.

 

President Donald Trump’s decision to keep using an unsecured iPhone, despite the recommendations of national security officials, has left at least one former George W. Bush administration official aghast.

In an interview with Fast Company, former Bush White House chief information officer Theresa Payton said that Trump’s phone “may be the largest White House breach ever.”

In an email sent to Fast Company, Payton said that giving rival foreign powers direct access to the president’s thinking during his personal phone calls with friends would be an unprecedented security disaster.

“This stunning revelation by the NYT is one that has sweeping ramifications for intelligence and the security of the American people,” she said. “America’s most sophisticated peer competitor now has a direct line into the president’s confidential thinking and conversations.”

Revelations about Trump’s phone were first reported by the New York Times on Wednesday, and were leaked by security officials whom the Times described as frustrated “with what they considered the president’s casual approach to electronic security.”

Some Trump administration officials told the Times, however, that they didn’t believe Trump was giving away classified information because “he rarely digs into the details of the intelligence he is shown and is not well versed in the operational specifics of military or covert activities.”

Brad Reed is a news writer at Raw Story. 

 

 

Feds Grant Immunity To Trump Organization’s Chief Finance Exec

Reprinted with permission from AlterNet.

 

Allen Weisselberg, the chief financial officer of the Trump Organization, was recently granted legal immunity in exchange for his testimony in front of a grand jury as part of the probe of former Trump “fixer” Michael Cohen.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Weisselberg “was granted immunity by federal prosecutors for providing information about Michael Cohen in the criminal investigation into hush-money payments for two women during the 2016 presidential campaign.”

Cohen this week pleaded guilty to multiple felony charges, including making illegal campaign contributions to President Donald Trump’s campaign that were used to pay off adult film star Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal in exchange for their silence about affairs they’d had with the president.

Despite Cohen’s own knowledge of the Trump Organization’s inner workings, Weisselberg’s cooperation with investigators represents potentially a far greater threat to the president, as he has detailed information about all of his business and finance operations.

Brad Reed is a writer living in Boston. His work has previously appeared in the American Prospect Online, and he blogs frequently at Sadly, No!.

Watch Dutch Journalist Own Trump’s Lying Ambassador

Reprinted with permission from AlterNet.

 

Pete Hoekstra, the man chosen by President Donald Trump to be America’s ambassador to the Netherlands, was busted blatantly lying about his past statements by a Dutch journalist this week.

During an interview with Dutch reporter Wouter Zwart, Hoekstra was asked about past statements he’d made in 2015 about Muslims in the Netherlands setting fire to politicians and creating “no-go zones” within cities where Dutch police are too frightened to enter.

Hoekstra initially tried to deny ever making such statements.

“I didn’t say that, that is actually an incorrect statement,” Hoesktra insisted. “We would call it fake news. I never said that.”

Zwart then proceeded to play a video clip of Hoekstra saying in 2015 that, “In the Netherlands, there are cars being burned, there are politicians that are being burned… and yes, there are no-go zones in the Netherlands.”

“You called it ‘fake news,’” the reporter pointed out.

“I didn’t call that fake news,” Hoekstra defensively replied. “I didn’t use those words today… I don’t think I did.”

Watch the video below.

 

Brad Reed is a writer living in Boston. His work has previously appeared in the American Prospect Online, and he blogs frequently at Sadly, No!.