Daily Check-In 06/14/2018

Thursday, June 14th.

 

NEW YORK SUES TRUMP OVER CHARITY FRAUD

The New York attorney general on Thursday filed suit against President Trump and his three eldest children alleging “persistently illegal conduct” at the president’s personal charity, saying Trump repeatedly misused the nonprofit — to pay off his businesses’ creditors, to decorate one of his golf clubs and to stage a multimillion dollar giveaway at his 2016 campaign events.

In the suit, filed Thursday morning, attorney general Barbara Underwood asked a state judge to dissolve the Donald J. Trump Foundation. She asked that its remaining $1 million in assets be distributed to other charities and that Trump be forced to pay at least $2.8 million in restitution and penalties.

Underwood also asks that Trump be banned from leading any other New York nonprofit for 10 years — seeking to apply a penalty usually reserved for the operators of small-time charity frauds to the president of the United States.

The Trump Foundation is a slush fund, not a charity.  Trump set it up using the legal framework as a charity, but used it as a slush fund, to pay for everything from personal and business legal costs to purchasing gaudy artwork to paying campaign vendors.  All of this to avoid taxes and use other people’s money to pay for things.

And all of it is illegal.

Self-dealing is the illegal and unethical behavior of a trustee or company officer acting in their own self-interest instead of that of the company, and taking advantage of that position by using the company for their own personal gains.

Every state in the country, including New York, has specific laws against using funds from a charity for anything other than a charitable purpose, such as donations to non-profits, paying expenses of the charity, or conducting work that is specifically related to the charity.  Sometimes, that line can get a little fuzzy, like “why does a charity need access to a private plane?” or “why is a charity that promotes childhood literacy need to pay a $4000 bar tab?”, but those usually have at least a semi-legitimate reason.  Maybe the charity needed access to the private plane to wine and dine a high rolling donor, or the dog charity hosted a fundraiser.

In the case of the Trump Foundation, there was no fuzziness.  This was straight up self-dealing, and many people were in on it.

The Trump Organization (the parent company directed by the Trump family), namely Donald Trump, used the Trump Foundation (charity) as a slush fund.  Think of a slush fund as a piggy bank used for illegal or inappropriate activity, usually for another person or group whose finances are under close scrutiny.  Nixon’s Committee to Re-Elect the President, or CREEP, kept a slush fund on hand to pay for illicit activities like the Watergate break-in and cover-up.  This is how the break-in was ultimately tied back to the White House and Nixon.  Once the slush fund was discovered, it was just a matter of time until it was discovered who had access to it.  From there, it was a simple matter of finding out who made the authorizations, and on whose orders.

With Trump, they used the charity as a slush fund for paying off legal settlements against Mar-A-Lago, used the funds to pay for various company purchases, and used the funds to pay campaign expenses.

That’s right.  Trump Organization used Trump Foundation to pay expenses for Trump 2016.  The company paid campaign vendors and made political investments (read bribes) using charity money.  About the only charity money that actually went to charity were the funds moved from the foundation to the charities of the Trump children, like Curetivity, Jr’s charity which used to hold annual fundraisers for St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital.

What’s even more screwed up is that most of the money donated to Trump Foundation doesn’t come from Trump, but his friends, vendors, and other organizations.  The largest donor to the foundation in 2007 was Vince and Linda McMahon, owners of the WWE.  So, Trump used money donated to his charity by his friends to pay for expenses to his campaign.  By the way, Linda McMahon is Head of the Small Business Administration, a cabinet-level position.

NYAG Barbara Underwood not only sued Trump for double the amount spent plus penalties, but sent a criminal referral to the IRS and Federal Election Commission.  It’s also not out of the realm of possibility to think that this civil lawsuit could easily lead to criminal charges in New York, and state charges in other locations.  Remember, Corey Lewandowski was on the ground in Iowa when he asked for foundation funds to be disbursed to pay vendors and staff there.

 

THE RUSSIAN INVESTIGATION

A new filing from the special counsel Robert Mueller unsealed on Wednesday identifies two former journalists and the content of messages former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and a Russian associate sent them in February, just two days after a superseding indictment against Manafort.

The 21-page document also names members of the so-called “Hapsburg group” – described by Mueller in the February superseding indictment of Manafort as “a group of former senior European politicians to take positions favorable to Ukraine, including by lobbying in the United States.”

According to the document, some of the key participants of the Hapsburg group are former Austrian Chancellor Alfred Gusenbauer, former Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi, Belgian Judge Jean-Paul Moerman, head of the German Federal Chancellory Bodo Hombach and former Spanish NATO head Javier Solana.

The exhibit containing the names of Alan Friedman, Eckart Sager, Konstantin Kliminck, and Hapsburg group members, was filed by the clerk in an unredacted form on Wednesday afternoon but was re-filed a short time later in a redacted form with those names hidden.

Manafort’s hearing is scheduled for early Friday morning.  Mueller’s team has asked that his bail be revoked and that Manafort be remanded to prison.

 

COHEN

It’s almost certain that Cohen will flip at this point.  When he does, he can take down the entire Trump Criminal Empire, and most of the Russian Mafia in the United States.

 

IMMIGRATION

I’m at a level of angry about this that I haven’t been in a while over the actions of these psuedo-nazis.  Taking children away from their parents is wrong.  End of discussion.  There is no justification for this.  The people perpetrating this atrocity, from Trump who gave the go-ahead to Jeff Sessions, to the individual guards and vendors supplying these camps should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.  These are crimes against humanity.

Especially the guards.

The level of hypocrisy needed to wake up, say goodbye to ones family, go to work, and rip children from their mothers and fathers, only to go home and ask their children how their day was is incredible.  They are committing gross violations of state, federal, and international law, and they get to home at the end of the day?  Bullshit.  They should be brought up on charges, prosecuted, and if found guilty thrown in jail.

And don’t give me the Nuremberg Defense.  “I was just following orders” does not stand in a court of law.  Executing an illegal, immoral, or unethical order does not absolve one from guilt.

Finally, to the asshats using the Bible as a justification for this cruelty.  Last time I checked, the entire New Testament was built around the story of a migrant mother fleeing from a tyrannical ruler trying to take her baby from her.

 

COLD WAR 2.0

 

#NEVERAGAIN

 

THE PROPAGANDA MACHINE

 

WHITE HOUSE CHAOS

 

GOP:  THE PARTY OF LINCOLN IS DEAD

I was proud because I believed Republican policies were better for people, yes. But I was mostly proud because we were the “party of ideas.”

Liberty, limited government, low taxes, fewer regulations, law and order, family first, national security — from Reagan on, we were the party of ideas, and Democrats were the party of identity politics.

When the great ideas are gone, or when the leader of the party has neither affection nor use for them, all that’s left behind is rank demagoguery. When you can no longer elucidate the ideas, or when they are too damaging to openly acknowledge, all you can do is simply make threats, demand loyalty.

With Republicans all too eager to table their principles for this president, here’s what we know they WILL support, either directly or through tacit silence:

If this is the “agenda” Ms. McDaniel insists I support, the answer is of course no. The question is, why would any Republican?

 

ELECTION 2018

 

CRIME AND PUNISHMENT

 

SUMMER ZERVOS

 

PROGRESS IS PROGRESS

 

SAY GOODBYE TO THE ECONOMY

 

INSPECTOR GENERAL REPORT

The Justice Department inspector general on Thursday castigated former FBI Director James B. Comey for his actions during the Hillary Clinton email investigation and found that other senior bureau officials showed a “willingness to take official action” to prevent Donald Trump from becoming president.

The 500-page report, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Post, documents major missteps in one of the most politically charged cases in the FBI’s history. It also provides the most exhaustive account to date of bureau and Justice Department decision-making throughout the investigation of Clinton’s use of a private email server, particularly in the months just before she would lose the presidency to Trump.

Though the inspector general condemned individual FBI officials, the report fell significantly short in supporting the assertion by the president and his allies that the investigation was rigged in favor of Clinton. The inspector general found “no evidence that the conclusions by department prosecutors were affected by bias or other improper considerations.” The report acknowledged that certain emails appeared to contain classified information, but investigators determined the FBI’s conclusion that Clinton did not intend to expose classified information was legitimate.

Here’s a link to the report: A Review of the Actions by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Department of Justice in Advance of the 2016 Election

Once again, the facts of the report support the conclusion that Jim Comey’s actions helped Trump and hurt Clinton, and that Comey was wrong in how he handled the Clinton Email saga.  In other news, water is wet.

From looking at everything about this over the past year, along with reading Comey’s book, he was in uncharted waters.  One nominee was under investigation, and the campaign of the other was as well.  The first found no intentional wrongdoing that met the high standards for criminal charges.  The second was just getting off of the ground, and at the time it looked like the Trump Campaign were victims of Russian attacks, not co-conspirators.  As time progressed, things changed, and the late September discovery of mails changed everything.

Comey was in a damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t position that he backed himself into with his promise to update Congress if anything changed.  By October, it was pretty obvious that members of Trump’s team were working with the Russians.  It also became apparent that some members of the FBI New York office were helping Trump through his connection with Rudy Giuliani, so any events that took place there involving Clinton would leak quickly.  If Comey sat on it, Trump’s team would release the cover-up of the hidden emails and claim the FBI was trying to get Clinton elected.  If Comey announced this new development, Clinton would take a hit in the polls and vote tallies.  If Comey announced that there was new evidence, but also announced that Trump’s Campaign was under investigation, not only would both of the above problems happen, but the criminals would go to ground.  Comey made the best of a terrible situation.

Over the next couple days, expect the Right Wing Media to try to spin this as “proof” of a fix against Trump, while ignoring almost every fact in the report.

 

RUMOR MILL

 

That’s it for Thursday.  Like I’ve said a few times already, this is going to be a crazy week.

I’m trying a new thing on the page with posting articles to multiple sections.  There are some stories which fall into multiple categories, and with how things are converging, a story crosses over.  For example, the NRA sleeping with the Russians is both part of the Mueller Investigation and #NeverAgain movement, while Cohen’s impending flip on Trump will impact everything.

I’m starting Friday’s post later than I have the past few weeks, as I’m not posting this one until Friday morning.  I’d like to get an article written this weekend, but with as crazy as things have been recently, I make no promises on that front.  I will let everyone in on the secret when the craziness hits a crescendo.

 

Thank you, and have a good one.
“Without Journalists, it’s just propaganda.”

– Katy Tur

 

 

 

 

 

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