The Smoking Gun: Trump, The Least Charitable Billionaire

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by hushpuppy, Apr 12, 2011.

  1. The Wrong Guy Member

    The Wooing of Jared Kushner: How the Saudis Got a Friend in the White House

    By David D. Kirkpatrick, Ben Hubbard, Mark Landler and Mark Mazzetti, The New York Times


    Senior American officials were worried. Since the early months of the Trump administration, Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and Middle East adviser, had been having private, informal conversations with Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the favorite son of Saudi Arabia’s king.

    Given Mr. Kushner’s political inexperience, the private exchanges could make him susceptible to Saudi manipulation, said three former senior American officials. In an effort to tighten practices at the White House, a new chief of staff tried to reimpose longstanding procedures stipulating that National Security Council staff members should participate in all calls with foreign leaders.

    But even with the restrictions in place, Mr. Kushner, 37, and Prince Mohammed, 33, kept chatting, according to three former White House officials and two others briefed by the Saudi royal court. In fact, they said, the two men were on a first-name basis, calling each other Jared and Mohammed in text messages and phone calls.

    The exchanges continued even after the Oct. 2 killing of Jamal Khashoggi, the Saudi journalist who was ambushed and dismembered by Saudi agents, according to two former senior American officials and the two people briefed by the Saudis.

    As the killing set off a firestorm around the world and American intelligence agencies concluded that it was ordered by Prince Mohammed, Mr. Kushner became the prince’s most important defender inside the White House, people familiar with its internal deliberations say.

    Mr. Kushner’s support for Prince Mohammed in the moment of crisis is a striking demonstration of a singular bond that has helped draw President Trump into an embrace of Saudi Arabia as one of his most important international allies.

    But the ties between Mr. Kushner and Prince Mohammed did not happen on their own. The prince and his advisers, eager to enlist American support for his hawkish policies in the region and for his own consolidation of power, cultivated the relationship with Mr. Kushner for more than two years, according to documents, emails and text messages reviewed by The New York Times.

    A delegation of Saudis close to the prince visited the United States as early as the month Mr. Trump was elected, the documents show, and brought back a report identifying Mr. Kushner as a crucial focal point in the courtship of the new administration. He brought to the job scant knowledge about the region, a transactional mind-set and an intense focus on reaching a deal with the Palestinians that met Israel’s demands, the delegation noted.

    Even then, before the inauguration, the Saudis were trying to position themselves as essential allies who could help the Trump administration fulfill its campaign pledges. In addition to offering to help resolve the dispute between Israel and the Palestinians, the Saudis offered hundreds of billions of dollars in deals to buy American weapons and invest in American infrastructure. Mr. Trump later announced versions of some of these items with great fanfare when he made his first foreign trip: to an Arab-Islamic summit in Riyadh, the Saudi capital. The Saudis had extended that invitation during the delegation’s November 2016 visit.

    “The inner circle is predominantly deal makers who lack familiarity with political customs and deep institutions, and they support Jared Kushner,” the Saudi delegation wrote of the incoming administration in a slide presentation obtained by the Lebanese newspaper Al Akhbar, which provided it to The Times. Several Americans who spoke with the delegation confirmed the slide presentation’s accounts of the discussions.

    The courtship of Mr. Kushner appears to have worked.

    Only a few months after Mr. Trump moved into the White House, Mr. Kushner was inquiring about the Saudi royal succession process and whether the United States could influence it, raising fears among senior officials that he sought to help Prince Mohammed, who was not yet the crown prince, vault ahead in the line for the throne, two former senior White House officials said. American diplomats and intelligence officials feared that the Trump administration might be seen as playing favorites in the delicate internal politics of the Saudi royal family, the officials said.

    By March, Mr. Kushner helped usher Prince Mohammed into a formal lunch with Mr. Trump in a state dining room at the White House, capitalizing on a last minute cancellation by Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany because of a snowstorm.

    Bending protocol, Mr. Kushner arranged for Prince Mohammed, often referred to by his initials as M.B.S., to receive the kind of treatment usually reserved for heads of state, with photographs and news media coverage, according to a person involved in the arrangements. It appears to have been the first face-to-face meeting between Mr. Kushner and the prince, but Mr. Kushner raised eyebrows by telling others in the White House that he and Prince Mohammed had already spoken several times before, two people at the event recalled.

    In a statement, a White House spokesman said that “Jared has always meticulously followed protocols and guidelines regarding the relationship with MBS and all of the other foreign officials with whom he interacts.”

    White House officials declined to explain those protocols and guidelines, and declined to comment on Mr. Kushner’s one-on-one communications with Prince Mohammed since the killing of Mr. Khashoggi.

    Their connection, though, has been pivotal since the start of the Trump administration.

    “The relationship between Jared Kushner and Mohammed bin Salman constitutes the foundation of the Trump policy not just toward Saudi Arabia but toward the region,” said Martin Indyk, a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and a former Middle East envoy. The administration’s reliance on the Saudis in the peace process, its support for the kingdom’s feud with Qatar, an American ally, and its backing of the Saudi-led intervention in Yemen, he said, all grew out of “that bromance.”

    Continued at

    Jamal Khashoggi's last words | CNN

    "An audio transcript of the journalist's painful last moments show he knew something was wrong when he stepped into the consulate, says a source who read the account. CNN's Nic Robertson reports."
  2. The Wrong Guy Member

    Carl Bernstein: This could make the world tremble | CNN

    "Veteran journalist Carl Bernstein discusses with CNN's Brian Stelter whether the Republican Party will peel away from President Donald Trump as special counsel Robert Mueller's case closes in on Trump and those close to him."

    Done With Michael Cohen, Federal Prosecutors Shift Focus to Trump Family Business | The New York Times

    The Mueller Russia Investigation: All Of The Criminal Charges To Emerge So Far | NPR

    The Lies of Donald Trump, Michael Cohen and Paul Manafort | The Intercept
  3. The Wrong Guy Member

    Suffering pickaxes and dog poop, Trump’s Hollywood star has become a symbolic spectacle

    By Rob Kuznia, The Washington Post


    Since Trump announced his campaign for the Oval Office in 2015, his Walk of Fame star has been a constant source of conflict and spectacle. The pink pentagram has been destroyed twice, obliterated by a pickax two weeks before the 2016 election and again this past July. It has been a regular target of lesser vandalism: stomping, spitting and dog-pooping. It has been scrawled with pejoratives and spray-painted with swastikas.

    On Sept. 20, a few weeks after the shattered star was replaced, a street artist covered it with bars resembling a jail cell.

    This has become ground zero for the West Coast’s grass-roots war over the Trump presidency, a sidewalk attraction for pro- and anti-Trumpers alike. The war intensified when the West Hollywood City Council voted in August to request that the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce permanently remove the shrine to the reality star turned leader of the free world. Instead, the Hollywood Chamber — which has jurisdiction over the Walk of Fame — reinstalled it once again at a cost of $2,500.


    Saul Gomez, a 52-year-old balloon twister who sports a rainbow wig and sells his wares on the Walk, says he once saw a deranged woman hammering it with a golf club.

    “She was crazy,” Gomez said. “Man, she was banging on the thing for, like, 10 minutes.”

    The day after it was smashed by a pickax in July, the star became the site of a bloody brawl between pro- and anti-Trump clans. Two weeks later, a right-wing street artist known as “The Faction” responded with an act of counter-vandalism: He covered the Walk of Fame in dozens of fake Trump stars.


    The Hollywood Chamber has found itself at the epicenter of the firestorm. Spokeswoman Ana Martinez said she has been getting nasty notes from Trump opponents and supporters, some confusing the chamber with the city council after its call for the star’s removal.

    “We’ve had a couple of threats, too,” Martinez said. “It’s giving me gray hairs.”


    Some detractors question whether Trump should have gotten a star in the first place. To be eligible, a person must have been a celebrity in the film, television, music, radio or theater industry for at least five years.

    “Reality stars are not supposed to have [eligibility],” said Mieke ter Poorten, attorney for James Lambert Otis, who took a pickax to Trump’s star in 2016. “That is one of the things that enraged me. He is not in any category that would allow him to be on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.”


    To receive a star, a celebrity must be nominated by a third party, such as a fan, friend or relative. The selection committee weighs the nomination based on the celebrity’s career accomplishments and charity work. About 10 percent of the roughly 300 yearly applicants are approved.

    If approved, the celebrity or the sponsor must pay $40,000 to the Hollywood Historic Trust and Hollywood Chamber for the cost of the ceremony and the star’s creation, installation and maintenance.

    Martinez said Trump was nominated by an older man from New York who called himself a fan of the real estate developer. The man also paid the fee for the star, $15,000 at that time.

    Martinez said that she could not remember the fan’s name and that the paperwork has been misplaced.


    The first person to destroy Trump’s star was Otis, a 54-year-old L.A. resident who defaced it in October 2016, soon after The Post released an “Access Hollywood” recording of Trump making lewd comments about women. Otis tried to organize a news conference with five women who said they had been sexually assaulted by Trump, but it never took place.

    A descendant of the founder of Otis Elevator, he made headlines in 2009 for auctioning off some of Mahatma Gandhi’s possessions, such as the Indian peace activist’s steel-framed spectacles and a pair of sandals. He told the New York Times he planned to donate the $1 million in proceeds to pacifist causes.

    Otis received three years’ probation for his crime against Trump’s star, paid $4,400 to fix the damage and put in 20 days of community service. He was later spotted by TMZ wearing a Black Lives Matter T-shirt while picking up trash along the L.A. freeways.

    Otis’s sentence also required him to see his psychiatrist and continue to follow the doctor’s recommendations, said ter Poorten, his attorney. Otis couldn’t be reached for comment.

    On July 25, Trump’s star was pulverized again.

    “I am proud of what I did,” said Austin “Sonny” Clay, a 24-year-old bartender, who pleaded not guilty to a felony vandalism charge. His argument: Hacking the star was “rightful and just,” not criminal. He was sentenced in November to pay more than $9,400 to the Hollywood Chamber, serve three years’ probation and receive psychological counseling, according to the Associated Press.

    Clay said he was persuaded to do the deed by his girlfriend’s father, Rory Emerald, a serial prankster who made headlines for numerous hoaxes in the 1990s and early 2000s. In 1993, Emerald was arrested in Beverly Hills and jailed for posing as Mia Farrow’s personal shopper.

    After deciding that Clay should destroy the star, he and Emerald, along with Clay’s girlfriend, Elektra Emerald, hitched a ride with a friend to the Hollywood Walk of Fame from a suburb in the San Fernando Valley.

    They found the star defaced by graffiti and smeared with excrement.

    “I could tell it was already loose,” Rory Emerald said. “Enough people had stomped on it. . . . I told him, ‘If you don’t take this star out tonight, somebody else is going to do it.’ ”

    A few hours later, Clay put on headphones and took from the car a guitar case that contained the pickax. He had initially planned to listen to patriotic music while executing his mission but changed his mind.

    “I decided I need something aggressive,” he recounted. He chose a song by the Death Grips, an industrial hip-hop group from Sacramento.

    Around 3:30 a.m., as Clay approached the star, Elektra Emerald held up her smartphone and began filming. Her father saw sparks fly. An onlooker yelled, “What did Donald Trump ever do to you?”

    “When I was bringing the pickax down, it felt cathartic,” Clay said. “Like I was removing him not only from the Walk of Fame, but in a way, symbolically, from California, from the United States, from the cultural subconscious.”

    Clay said he turned himself in to the Beverly Hills Police Department that night and spent about 20 hours in jail.

    “I can’t think of a stronger message from Los Angeles and California to send to Donald Trump, who right now is trying to build his wall — which is a lunatic’s idea,” Clay said during an interview. “I can’t think of a stronger message than ‘We’re taking your star off the boulevard.’ ”

    More at
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  4. The Wrong Guy Member

    Amid chief of staff search, Trump increasingly anxious over political future | CNN


    While President Donald Trump and Nick Ayers were still in the middle of negotiations about him replacing John Kelly as chief of staff, Trump had already given Ayers a task, according to a source familiar with the discussion. He wanted him to conduct a thorough review of how the West Wing operates, including evaluating staffing, in order to make it more politically focused over the next two years.

    Trump has become increasingly concerned in recent weeks about what his administration is facing come January, when newly empowered Democrats are expected to unleash the full force of their oversight powers on the Trump administration.

    Those include compelling Cabinet secretaries to testify, requesting the President's tax returns and scrutinizing some of his most controversial policy decisions. Trump often complained that Kelly, a retired four-star Marine general, was not politically shrewd enough for the task.

    The details of the President's discussions, which have not been reported on previously, reveal how close Ayers was to becoming chief of staff. He and Trump huddled several times over the last week in the residence of the White House, where they were afforded more privacy than in the staff-filled West Wing, but they ultimately could not agree to terms and Ayers declined the job.

    Multiple sources familiar with Trump's mood told CNN he's frustrated with the Ayers process. One source described his mood as "super pissed." A second added he feels humiliated, a position he doesn't like to be in, because the President did not have a backup candidate prepared like he typically does when he's fielding people for jobs.

    One source said Ayers got the benefit of being seen as the next chief of staff "without any of the headaches."

    However, Trump's anger seems to be limited because Ayers will leave his position as Pence's chief of staff at the end of the year to run the super PAC set up to assist the President's re-election campaign.

    Trump has privately told confidants he wants his new chief of staff to shift the goals of the West Wing away from legislation and toward politics, sources said. He did not outline specific things he wanted Ayers to change in the West Wing, but was generally relying on the politically savvy young aide to make changes on his own that could bolster the White House ahead of what is expected to be a tumultuous year.

    Trump has remarked on several occasions that his West Wing needs aides who are more politically adept. That problem is only exacerbated by the departures of two White House aides in recent days: the political director Bill Stepien and Justin Clark, the director of the office of public liaison. Both are leaving the administration to work on Trump's re-election campaign.

    And multiple White House officials have complained privately that Shahira Knight, the legislative affairs director, is more focused on the policy than navigating the political realities of Washington, including managing relationships with lawmakers.

    Trump is now embarking on a hasty search for a new chief of staff with no obvious choice in mind.

    Continued at

    John Brennan Says Donald Trump Can't Escape 'American Justice' and Will Never Run for Public Office Again | Newsweek


    Former CIA Director John Brennan fired back at Donald Trump Monday morning, after another tweet by the president bashing the Russia investigation in the wake of New York prosecutors on Friday concluding that he directed his former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, to commit crimes related to campaign finance violations.

    The president quoted Fox News, saying that “Democrats can’t find a Smocking [sic] Gun tying the Trump campaign to Russia.” As a result, Trump said “the Dems go to a simple private transaction, wrongly call it a campaign contribution, which it was not (but even if it was, it is only a CIVIL CASE, like Obama’s - but it was done correctly by a lawyer and there would not even be a fine. Lawyer’s liability if he made a mistake, not me). Cohen just trying to get his sentence reduced. WITCH HUNT!”

    The president was referring to the two hush-money payments Cohen made "in coordination with and the direction of" then-candidate Trump to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, according to Cohen and prosecutors, for their silence of alleged extramarital affairs. Prosecutors from the Southern District of New York on Friday concluded they were made “with the intent to influence” the election.

    “Whenever you send out such [insane] tweets, I take great solace in knowing that you realize how much trouble you are in & how impossible it will be for you to escape American justice,” Brennan said on Twitter. “Mostly, I am relieved that you will never have the opportunity to run for public office again.”

    Continued at

    Donald Trump Will Resign Presidency With 10 Minutes Left in Term So Mike Pence Can Pardon Him, Conservative Columnist Predicts | Newsweek
  5. The Wrong Guy Member

    Maria Butina Agrees to Cooperate With U.S.

    Butina has inked an agreement with prosecutors and becomes the first Russian since the 2016 election to confess to a crime connected to efforts to influence American politics.

    By Betsy Woodruff, The Daily Beast, December 10, 2018


    Maria Butina, a Russian national who cultivated relationships with powerful American conservative activists, agreed Monday to plead guilty to conspiring to violate laws prohibiting covert foreign agents. As part of her agreement, which was reviewed by The Daily Beast, she has promised to cooperate with American law enforcement.

    As a result of the deal, Butina will become the first Russian national since the 2016 election to plead guilty to a crime connected to efforts to influence American politics. After running a gun rights organization in Russia, she moved to the United States, where she spent years building relationships with conservatives in hopes of influencing a future Republican presidential administration. During the campaign season, she questioned then-candidate Donald Trump about sanctions; built relationships in the upper echelons of the American gun rights community; arranged for NRA leaders to travel to Moscow; and bragged that she was a channel between Team Trump and the Kremlin, as The Daily Beast first revealed.

    She also struck up a romance with Paul Erickson, a longtime Republican gadfly close to NRA leaders. He sang Disney songs with her on camera, called her his “Siberian princess” in emails reviewed by The Daily Beast, and—since her July arrest—has visited her regularly in jail.

    In March 2015, according to the plea deal, Butina worked with an unnamed U.S. person—known to be Erickson—to draft a proposal for a diplomatic endeavor. Given the fraught relationships between the governments of Russia and the United States, she “cast herself as a possible unofficial transmitter of communications” between the two countries.

    Noting that she had recently attended the conference of an unnamed gun rights group—known to be the NRA—she said she had “laid the groundwork for an unofficial channel of communication with the next U.S. administration,” which she predicted would be Republican. And she asked for a Russian billionaire to give her $125,000 to fund efforts to attend conferences and befriend political power-brokers. She sent the proposal to several people, including an official on the Russian central bank known to be Alexander Torshin. The central bank official told her the proposal “would be supported, at least in part.”

    Butina helped arrange a trip to Moscow for NRA leaders in December 2015. She pushed for those Americans to visit with senior Russian politicians, according to the plea deal. The Americans on the trip met with Sergey Lavrov, Russia’s powerful minister of foreign affairs; and Dmitry Rogozin, a deputy of Vladimir Putin and a subject of U.S. sanctions.

    After the trip, Butina sent a message to the central bank official in Russian that has two translations in the plea agreement.

    “We should let them express their gratitude now, we will put pressure on them quietly later,” reads the first translation.

    “We should allow them to express their gratitude now, and then quietly press,” reads the second.
    Butina also befriended a wealthy, well-connected American who invited her to a “friendship dinner” where he and his peers would discuss U.S.-Russia relations. The deal does not name that American. Before going to the dinner, she emailed its host to say Torshin “is very impressed by you and expresses his great appreciation for what you are doing to restore the relations between the two countries. He also wants you to know that Russians will support the efforts from our side.”

    Butina attended several of these “friendship dinners,” according to the plea deal, where she built relationships with powerful Americans and honed her abilities to influence them.

    She also helped arrange for a group of Russians to attend the National Prayer Breakfast, which was held on Feb. 2, 2017, according to the plea deal. She emailed Erickson with a list of attendees and said they were coming to the breakfast “to establish a back channel of communication.” Erickson later emailed the list to another person. “Reaction to the delegation’s presence in America will be conveyed DIRECTLY” to Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, he wrote. He cc’d Butina on that email.

    During her time in the U.S., Butina updated Torshin on her meetings and conversations. At one point, she asked him whether the Russian “government” was ready to meet with certain, unnamed people.

    In July of this year, Butina was arrested and charged on two counts: acting as a covert agent of a foreign government, and conspiring to break federal law by doing so. The specific charge for acting as a foreign agent is colloquially known as Section 951. It’s often confused with the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), but the two are separate. FARA bars secret foreign lobbying, while DOJ lawyers refer to Section 951 as “espionage-lite.” She has only pleaded guilty to the second count, conspiracy. The defense’s estimated sentence for this conviction, according to the plea deal, is up to six months. She has already spent almost five months in jail.

    Butina, who turned 30 while incarcerated at the Alexandria Detention Center just south of Washington, has become a figure of geopolitical consequence and international intrigue. The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Twitter account made her picture its avatar, along with the hashtag #FreeMariaButina. They claimed she was a political prisoner and a victim of Russophobia. Some Americans—including Kentucky Republican Rep. Thomas Massie—gave credence to that view.

    Earlier this week The Daily Beast reported Erickson has received a “target letter” from federal investigators which says they are considering bringing charges against him under Section 951 of the U.S. code—the law barring people from secretly acting as agents of foreign governments.

    Butina had once hobnobbed with the stars of the Republican firmament, getting pictures of herself with Gov. Scott Walker, Donald Trump Jr., NRA chief Wayne LaPierre, former Gov. Bobby Jindal, former Sen. Rick Santorum, and former NRA president David Keene. On July 11, 2015, Butina was in Las Vegas at an early rally for Trump’s embryonic presidential campaign, and asked the future president a question about Russian sanctions. Trump gave a surprisingly detailed answer. A year and a half later, she attended the invitation-only Freedom Ball after Trump’s inauguration.

    In jail, the quasi-glamor of Washington turned to a nightmare. Like thousands of incarcerated Americans, she struggled with depression and claustrophobia, according to court filings from her lawyers, who say that jail officials never clearly explained why they placed her in solitary confinement for a second stint that began late last month. She was still in solitary when she signed the plea deal.

    As part of her deal, she has committed to cooperating with American law enforcement “in any and all to matters as to which the Government deems this cooperation relevant.”

    Her future is hazy. She may be welcomed in her home country as a celebrity, as a spy named Anna Chapman was after she was deported from the U.S. in 2010. But Butina could also face a darker homecoming; by the time she returns, if she keeps the deal, she may have spent hours sharing information with the FBI. And Torshin has left his central bank post––meaning her closest known ally has lost most of his power.

    Without Butina, Erickson’s future looks rough. He remains a target of the feds, and sources close to him tell The Daily Beast he’s struggling to keep up with his legal bills.

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  6. The Wrong Guy Member

    Meet the Bottomless Pinocchio | Fact Checker | The Washington Post

    "President Trump's false and misleading claims that have been repeated more than 20 times led us to create a new Pinocchio rating."

    Meet the Bottomless Pinocchio, a new rating for a false claim repeated over and over again | The Washington Post


    It was President Trump’s signature campaign promise: He would build a wall along the nation’s southern border, and Mexico would pay for it.

    Shortly after becoming president, Trump dropped the Mexico part, turning to Congress for the funds instead. When that, too, failed — Congress earlier this year appropriated money for border security that could not be spent on an actual wall — Trump nevertheless declared victory: “We’ve started building our wall,” he said in a speech on March 29. “I’m so proud of it.”

    Despite the facts, which have been cited numerous times by fact-checkers, Trump repeated his false assertion on an imaginary wall 86 times in the seven months before the midterm elections, according to a database of false and misleading claims maintained by The Post.

    Trump’s willingness to constantly repeat false claims has posed a unique challenge to fact-checkers. Most politicians quickly drop a Four-Pinocchio claim, either out of a duty to be accurate or concern that spreading false information could be politically damaging.

    Not Trump. The president keeps going long after the facts are clear, in what appears to be a deliberate effort to replace the truth with his own, far more favorable, version of it. He is not merely making gaffes or misstating things, he is purposely injecting false information into the national conversation.

    To accurately reflect this phenomenon, The Washington Post Fact Checker is introducing a new category — the Bottomless Pinocchio. That dubious distinction will be awarded to politicians who repeat a false claim so many times that they are, in effect, engaging in campaigns of disinformation.

    Continued at

    The false claims that Trump keeps repeating | The Washington Post

    "The Fact Checker has evaluated false statements President Trump has made repeatedly and analyzed how often he reiterates them. The claims included here – which we're calling "Bottomless Pinocchios" – are limited to ones that he has repeated 20 times and were rated as Three or Four Pinocchios by the Fact Checker."
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  7. The Wrong Guy Member

    Donald Trump's Pants-On-Fireplace | The Late Show with Stephen Colbert

    "Curl up with some hot cocoa and enjoy the relaxing sounds of the Donald Trump's Pants-on-Fireplace."
  8. The Wrong Guy Member

    We are former senators. The Senate has long stood in defense of democracy — and must again.

    By 44 Former U.S. Senators, The Washington Post, December 10, 2018


    Dear Senate colleagues,

    As former members of the U.S. Senate, Democrats and Republicans, it is our shared view that we are entering a dangerous period, and we feel an obligation to speak up about serious challenges to the rule of law, the Constitution, our governing institutions and our national security.

    We are on the eve of the conclusion of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation and the House’s commencement of investigations of the president and his administration. The likely convergence of these two events will occur at a time when simmering regional conflicts and global power confrontations continue to threaten our security, economy and geopolitical stability.

    It is a time, like other critical junctures in our history, when our nation must engage at every level with strategic precision and the hand of both the president and the Senate.

    We are at an inflection point in which the foundational principles of our democracy and our national security interests are at stake, and the rule of law and the ability of our institutions to function freely and independently must be upheld.

    During our service in the Senate, at times we were allies and at other times opponents, but never enemies. We all took an oath swearing allegiance to the Constitution. Whatever united or divided us, we did not veer from our unwavering and shared commitment to placing our country, democracy and national interest above all else.

    At other critical moments in our history, when constitutional crises have threatened our foundations, it has been the Senate that has stood in defense of our democracy. Today is once again such a time.

    Regardless of party affiliation, ideological leanings or geography, as former members of this great body, we urge current and future senators to be steadfast and zealous guardians of our democracy by ensuring that partisanship or self-interest not replace national interest.

    Max Baucus (D-Mont.), Evan Bayh (D-Ind.), Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.), Bill Bradley (D-N.J.), Richard Bryan (D-Nev.), Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R-Colo.), Max Cleland (D-Ga.), William Cohen (R-Maine), Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), Al D’Amato (R-N.Y.), John C. Danforth (R-Mo.), Tom Daschle (D-S.D.), Dennis DeConcini (D-Ariz.), Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.), David Durenberger (R-Minn.), Russ Feingold (D-Wis.), Wyche Fowler (D-Ga.), Bob Graham (D-Fla.), Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.), Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Gary Hart (D-Colo.), Bennett Johnston (D-La.), Bob Kerrey (D-Neb.), John Kerry (D-Mass.), Paul Kirk (D-Mass.), Mary Landrieu (D-La.), Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.), Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), Sam Nunn (D-Ga.), Larry Pressler (R-S.D.), David Pryor (D-Ark.), Don Riegle (D-Mich.), Chuck Robb (D-Va.), Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), Jim Sasser (D-Tenn.), Alan Simpson (R-Wyo.), Mark Udall (D-Colo.), John W. Warner (R-Va.), Lowell Weicker (I-Conn.), Tim Wirth (D-Colo.)

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  9. Disambiguation Global Moderator

    “It’s like a manhood thing for him. As if manhood could ever be associated with him. This wall thing,”
    Nancy Pelosi
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  10. Disambiguation Global Moderator

    Chuck smirked his way through the meeting.
  11. Disambiguation Global Moderator

  12. The Wrong Guy Member

    Nancy And Chuck Are: Democrats On The Offensive | The Late Show with Stephen Colbert

    "So a president, a Senate minority leader, and a House minority leader walk into an Oval Office..."

    Anderson Cooper calls out Trump's border security claim | CNN

    "CNN's Anderson Cooper laughs at President Donald Trump's statement that a new border wall is being built right now, stating the only new wall "sits on the border between much of what the President says and the facts.""

    Don Lemon tears apart Trump's border claims | CNN

    "CNN's Don Lemon takes a deep dive into President Trump's false claims about border security in his Oval Office meeting with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer."

    Did Trump Just Botch His Border Wall Negotiation On Live TV? | The Daily Show with Trevor Noah

    "Donald Trump, Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer argue over border wall funding on live TV, while a motionless and pretty weird Mike Pence sits idly by."
  13. Disambiguation Global Moderator

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  14. The Wrong Guy Member

    Incoming New York attorney general plans wide-ranging investigations of Trump and family | NBC News

    Just-elected Letitia James, who takes office next month, tells NBC she will probe real estate deals, Trump Tower meeting, emoluments, Trump Foundation and more.


    New York Attorney Gen.-elect Letitia James says she plans to launch sweeping investigations into President Donald Trump, his family and "anyone" in his circle who may have violated the law once she settles into her new job next month.

    "We will use every area of the law to investigate President Trump and his business transactions and that of his family as well," James, a Democrat, told NBC News in her first extensive interview since she was elected last month.

    James outlined some of the probes she intends to pursue with regard to the president, his businesses and his family members. They include:
    • Any potential illegalities involving Trump's real estate holdings in New York, highlighting a New York Times investigation published in October into the president's finances.
    • The June 2016 Trump Tower meeting with a Russian official.
    • Examine government subsidies Trump received, which were also the subject of Times investigative work.
    • Whether he is in violation of the emoluments clause in the U.S. Constitution through his New York businesses.
    • Continue to probe the Trump Foundation.
    "We want to investigate anyone in his orbit who has, in fact, violated the law," said James, who was endorsed by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

    James campaigned on passing a bill to change New York's double jeopardy laws with an eye on possible pardons coming out of the White House. James told NBC News she wants to be able to pursue state charges against anyone the president were to pardon over federal charges or convictions and whose alleged crimes took place in the state. Under current New York law, she might not be unable to do that.

    "I think within the first 100 days this bill will be passed," she said, adding, "It is a priority because I have concerns with respect to the possibility that this administration might pardon some individuals who might face some criminal charges, but I do not want them to be immune from state charges."

    She's also enlisting help from some prosecutorial heavy hitters, like former U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, as a part of her transition to help her identify important hires for her office with an eye on bringing in experts for its Trump-related investigations.

    New York is home to the president's namesake business, the Trump Organization, and it is where Trump's presidential campaign was headquartered and his reelection campaign as well. And it is where a number of key events under special counsel Robert Mueller's microscope, such as the controversial June 2016 Trump Tower meeting, took place. All of that falls within James' jurisdiction.

    As a result, she is about to become one of the most recognizable — and powerful — state attorneys general in the country.

    "Taking on President Trump and looking at all of the violations of law I think is no match to what I have seen in my lifetime," James said.

    Continued at
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  15. The Wrong Guy Member

    Michael Cohen sentenced to three years in prison for crimes committed while working for Trump

    By Matt Zapotosky and Devlin Barrett, The Washington Post


    A federal judge on Wednesday sentenced President Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen to three years in prison for financial crimes and lying to Congress, as the disgraced former “fixer” apologized for his conduct but also said he felt it was his duty to cover up the “dirty deeds” of his former boss.


    The judge also ordered Cohen to pay nearly $2 million in financial penalties for his crimes.

    More at

    Michael Cohen sentenced to 3 years in prison — live updates | CBS News


    Cohen attorney Lanny Davis said in a statement that Cohen "continues to tell the truth about Donald Trump's misconduct" — and looks forward to sharing more publicly.

    "At the appropriate time, after Mr. Mueller completes his investigation and issues his final report, I look forward to assisting Michael to state publicly all he knows about Mr. Trump – and that includes any appropriate congressional committee interested in the search for truth and the difference between facts and lies," Davis said in a statement to CBS News. "Mr. Trump's repeated lies cannot contradict stubborn facts."

    More at
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  16. The Wrong Guy Member

    National Enquirer Insider: Trump Should Be 'Nervous' About Secrets | MSNBC

    AMI, the publisher of “National Enquirer”, a tabloid linked to Trump, has admitted to suppressing the story of a woman who alleged a relationship with Trump, to prevent it from impacting the 2016 election. A former Senior Vice President at AMI, Stu Zakim, tells “The Beat” that he wouldn’t "be surprised" if the tabloid had a safe on Trump and adds that Trump “should be very nervous”.

    Federal prosecutors give National Enquirer publisher immunity over hush-money payment to purported Trump lover | CNBC
    • Federal prosecutors have given immunity to the publisher of the National Enquirer in connection with the $150,000 hush-money payment the supermarket tabloid gave Karen McDougal, the Playboy model who claims she had an affair with President Donald Trump.
    • That payment to McDougal was made shortly before the 2016 presidential election, and was done "to influence" that election, which sent Trump to the White House, according to the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York.
    • News of the deal came after Trump's former personal lawyer Michael Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison for crimes that included facilitating the payment to McDougal, and to another alleged Trump paramour, porn star Stormy Daniels.
    More at

    How the National Enquirer broke up with President Trump | CNN

    Fox News’ Judge Napolitano: We Now Know Trump ‘Committed a Felony’ | The Daily Beast

    National Enquirer Owner Admits Paying Off Model for Donald Trump | Hollywood Reporter

    National Enquirer owner admits 'catch and kill' plot to bury Playmate's Trump sex affair story before 2016 election | New York Daily News

    Tabloid Publisher’s Deal in Hush-Money Inquiry Adds to Trump’s Danger | The New York Times

    A ‘loud gong’: National Enquirer’s surprise deal could imperil Trump | POLITICO

    What’s illegal about Trump’s hush payments to women, briefly explained | Vox
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  17. The Wrong Guy Member

    Michael Avenatti‏ @MichaelAvenatti 14 hours ago
    Only @realDonaldTrump would celebrate a “win” at the end of the first quarter. Stormy will never pay a dime because Trump and his purse puppy Cohen owe my client in excess of $1,500,000 in the NDA case. Seeing as he isn’t good at math, that’s over $1,200,000 to my client. #Basta

    Michael Avenatti‏ @MichaelAvenatti 7 hours ago
    Today Michael Cohen will be sentenced to substantial jail time for his role in the Trump criminal enterprise and the rigging of an election. We will then depose him under oath in order to fully disclose all of the facts to the American people. Trump is in a lot of trouble.

    Michael Avenatti‏ @MichaelAvenatti 7 hours ago
    Michael Cohen thought he could intimidate a “porn star.” He thought he could humiliate and “out play” us after we filed suit. He thought we would just go away and he/Trump would get away with it. He thought he was smart and tough. He was neither. Today will prove that in spades.

    Michael Avenatti @MichaelAvenatti 2 hours ago
    March 6, 2018 - We filed the case on behalf of Stormy Daniels against Michael Cohen and Donald Trump
    March 6, 2019 - Michael Cohen is due to report to federal prison to begin his 36 month prison term.
    We are not done yet.

    Michael Avenatti‏ @MichaelAvenatti 2 hours ago
    .@realDonaldTrump - You are next.
    • Like Like x 1
  18. Disambiguation Global Moderator

    Nancy Pelosi leaving the White House 50D3CE93-E2BC-4289-ACAB-07F111140C63.gif

    Attached Files:

  19. The Moth Member

    Trump plans to deport Viet Nam war immigrants.

    This is the latest move in the president’s long record of prioritizing harsh immigration and asylum restrictions, and one that’s sure to raise eyebrows—the White House had hesitantly backed off the plan in August before reversing course. In essence, the administration has now decided that Vietnamese immigrants who arrived in the country before the establishment of diplomatic ties between the United States and Vietnam are subject to standard immigration law—meaning they are all eligible for deportation.
  20. Trump turns down Meadows for White House chief of staff, removing leading contender

    What do you bet that it was Meadows who turned it down.
  21. DeathHamster Member

    • Like Like x 2
  22. The Wrong Guy Member

    Stephen Has A Prison Tip For Michael Cohen | The Late Show with Stephen Colbert

    "Stephen offers Michael Cohen advice on how to make a statement in the prison yard on day one."

    Michael Cohen’s Sentence, Stormy's Suit and Google's House Hearing | The Daily Show with Trevor Noah

    "Michael Cohen is sentenced to three years in prison, Donald Trump rolls back nuclear waste regulations, Stormy Daniels is ordered to pay the president nearly $300K in legal fees for a discarded defamation suit, and Google CEO Sundar Pichai testifies in Congress about Google’s alleged liberal bias."

    Cohen Sentenced; Trump's Shutdown Threat: A Closer Look | Late Night with Seth Meyers

    "Seth takes a closer look at President Trump insisting the United States build border walls to prevent crime while being accused of a crime himself."
    • Like Like x 2
  23. The Wrong Guy Member

    Donald J. Trump‏ @realDonaldTrump 4 hours ago
    I often stated, “One way or the other, Mexico is going to pay for the Wall.” This has never changed. Our new deal with Mexico (and Canada), the USMCA, is so much better than the old, very costly & anti-USA NAFTA deal, that just by the money we save, MEXICO IS PAYING FOR THE WALL!

    Donald J. Trump‏ @realDonaldTrump 3 hours ago
    I never directed Michael Cohen to break the law. He was a lawyer and he is supposed to know the law. It is called “advice of counsel,” and a lawyer has great liability if a mistake is made. That is why they get paid. Despite that many campaign finance lawyers have strongly......

    Donald J. Trump‏ @realDonaldTrump 3 hours ago
    ....stated that I did nothing wrong with respect to campaign finance laws, if they even apply, because this was not campaign finance. Cohen was guilty on many charges unrelated to me, but he plead to two campaign charges which were not criminal and of which he probably was not...

    Donald J. Trump‏ @realDonaldTrump 3 hours ago
    ....guilty even on a civil basis. Those charges were just agreed to by him in order to embarrass the president and get a much reduced prison sentence, which he did-including the fact that his family was temporarily let off the hook. As a lawyer, Michael has great liability to me!

    Donald J. Trump‏ @realDonaldTrump 37 minutes ago
    They gave General Flynn a great deal because they were embarrassed by the way he was treated - the FBI said he didn’t lie and they overrode the FBI. They want to scare everybody into making up stories that are not true by catching them in the smallest of misstatements. Sad!......

    Donald J. Trump‏ @realDonaldTrump 36 minutes ago
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  24. The Wrong Guy Member

    Robert Mueller just got some hilarious news from the worst judge in Washington | ThinkProgress


    Judge Richard Leon, a senior U.S. District Judge who sits on the District Court for the District of Columbia, is the judge you want when what you want is to own the libs. Yet, in an order handed down Wednesday, Leon suggested that even he has limited patience for that merry band of misfits and cranks that orbit Donald Trump.

    For those of you who may not be familiar with this jurist, Leon handed down what may the the most aggressive anti-birth control decision of the Obama years, holding that even secular employers may ignore federal rules protecting workers’ access to birth control. He also struck down a rule extending the minimum wage and overtime protections to home care workers — a decision that was unanimously reversed on appeal.

    Judge Leon gutted the federal ban on housing discrimination, defying the unanimous view of 11 different federal appeals courts in the process. Then, after the Supreme Court rejected his position, Leon practically begged the Trump administration to launch a new attack on the federal Fair Housing Act.

    Nevertheless, on Wednesday, Leon indicated that there are some things even he isn’t willing to do in order to protect Donald Trump.

    Enter the crank

    Leon’s flash of reasonableness arose in a case brought by Jerome Corsi, a Trump ally and birther who has spent much of the last 15 years as a kind of professional conspiracy theorist. Corsi allegedly acted as a liaison between Trump confidant Roger Stone and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange regarding stolen Democratic campaign emails that Assange allegedly obtained from Russia and published online.

    Special Counsel Robert Mueller suspects that Corsi made false statements during an interview with Mueller’s team, and Corsi recently rejected a plea deal offered by Mueller.

    And then, Corsi sued…Robert Mueller.

    The premise of Corsi’s lawsuit is that “Mueller and his partisan Democrat, leftist, and ethically and legally conflicted prosecutorial staff” are unjustly prosecuting Corsi “in order to try to uncover information that can be used by Defendant Mueller to coerce, extort, threaten and/or blackmail Plaintiff Corsi into testifying falsely to implicate the president of the United States in crimes and have him removed from office.” Corsi seeks $350 million in damages.

    Corsi is, of course, an unhinged crackpot, but he is at least savvy enough to know that his best hope of undercutting Mueller’s investigation in this fashion is to get Judge Leon to hear his case. But the likelihood that Leon would be assigned this case under his court’s ordinary procedures is slim. As a general rule, cases are assigned randomly to one of 23 federal trial judges who sit in the District of Columbia whenever a case is filed in Leon’s court. And Leon also has “senior status” — a kind of semi-retirement for older judges that allows them to hear a reduced caseload.

    So Corsi’s lawyers filed a document that appears to be an attempt to trick the court into assigning his case to Leon. Although the general rule in federal litigation is that cases are assigned to random judges, there is an exception when a plaintiff files a case that is closely related to another pending case.

    Imagine, for example, that Plaintiff X sues Apple, claiming that a product defect caused their iPhone to explode. Then, two months later, Plaintiff Y files a new case in the same court, which also claims that the same defect caused their phone to blow up. The factual and legal questions arising in both cases (Is the defect real? Did it cause the explosions? Does this case belong in federal court?) would be nearly identical, so it makes sense for a single judge to resolve both cases rather than risking having two judges hand down conflicting rulings.

    Corsi’s lawyers claim that a case called Klayman v. Obama, which Leon handled, is so closely related to Mr. Corsi’s suit against Mueller that they both should be heard by the same judge. But even Judge Leon doesn’t appear to buy this claim. Klayman was a lawsuit challenging the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of telephone metadata. The only thing that Klayman appears to have in common with Corsi is that the plaintiff in Klayman, “pathologically litigious attorney” Larry Klayman, also happens to be one of Mr. Corsi’s lawyers.

    In any event, Leon handed down a brief order on Wednesday ordering Corsi to “show cause in writing” why his case “is related to Klayman v. Obama.” This sort of “show cause” order is typically handed down by a judge who is inclined to rule against a particular party, and wants to give them one last chance to justify themselves before they get spanked.

    Continued at
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  25. The Wrong Guy Member

    Get Ready for Mueller’s Phase Two: The Middle East Connection

    The ‘Russia investigation’ is set to go global. In court filings due to drop in 2019, prosecutors will unveil Middle Eastern countries’ attempts to influence U.S. politics.

    By Erin Banco, The Daily Beast, December 13, 2018


    Over the past year, the indictments, convictions, and guilty pleas have largely been connected, in one way or another, to Russia. But now, special counsel Robert Mueller’s office is preparing to reveal to the public a different side of his investigation. In court filings that are set to drop in early 2019, prosecutors will begin to unveil Middle Eastern countries’ attempts to influence American politics, three sources familiar with this side of the probe told The Daily Beast.

    In other words, the “Russia investigation” is set to go global.

    While one part of the Mueller team has indicted Russian spies and troll-masters, another cadre has been spending its time focusing on how Middle Eastern countries pushed cash to Washington politicos in an attempt to sway policy under President Trump’s administration. Various witnesses affiliated with the Trump campaign have been questioned about their conversations with deeply connected individuals from the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Israel, according to people familiar with the probe. Topics in those meetings ranged from the use of social-media manipulation to help install Trump in the White House to the overthrow of the regime in Iran.

    Now, according to those same sources, the Special Counsel’s Office is ready to outline what cooperating witnesses have told them about foreigners’ plans to help Trump win the presidency. Two sources with knowledge of the probe said Mueller’s team has for months discussed the possibility of issuing new charges on this side of the investigation.

    “If this is going to be unveiled, this would be like the surfacing of the submarine but on the other plank which we haven’t seen,” said Harry Litman, a former U.S. attorney. “I guess what Mueller has to date has turned out to be pretty rich and detailed and more than we anticipated. This could turn out to be a rich part of the overall story.”

    Continued at
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  26. The Wrong Guy Member

    Maria Butina Admits to Being Part of a Russian Effort to Influence the N.R.A. and Republicans | The New York Times


    To the conservative Americans she courted, Maria Butina was the right kind of Russian. She loved guns and the church and networking with top officials in the National Rifle Association. She schmoozed with Republican presidential candidates, and became a supporter of Donald J. Trump. She spent Thanksgiving at a congressman’s country house, took a Trump campaign aide to see the rock band Styx and helped a Rockefeller heir organize “friendship dinners” with influential Washingtonians.

    On Thursday, Ms. Butina, 30, pleaded guilty to a single charge of conspiring to act as a foreign agent in a deal with federal prosecutors. In doing so, she acknowledged that her activities were motivated by more than mere personal conviction.

    As part of the deal, Ms. Butina admitted to being involved an organized effort, backed by Russian officials, to open up unofficial lines of communication with influential Americans in the N.R.A. and in the Republican Party, and to win them over to the idea of Russia as a friend, not a foe.

    Ms. Butina’s guilty plea now casts a spotlight on the Americans she worked with, including prominent members of the N.R.A. and her boyfriend, Paul Erickson, 56, a longtime Republican operative who ran Patrick J. Buchanan’s 1992 presidential campaign and who now faces accusations of fraud in three states. Officials have said federal investigators are examining what Mr. Erickson and others who helped Ms. Butina knew about her links to the Russian government.

    Ms. Butina agreed to cooperate with the investigators as part of her deal. In exchange, she will most likely get a short prison term, or possibly be released after having already spent five months in jail. She will probably then be deported, according to court papers laying out the agreement.

    Continued at

    Maria Butina Pleads Guilty: Everything We Know About Alleged Russian Spy's Connections to Trump, NRA, Republicans | Newsweek
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  27. The Wrong Guy Member

    Trump Inauguration Spending Under Criminal Investigation by Federal Prosecutors

    Probe looking into whether committee misspent funds and top donors gave money in exchange for access to the administration

    By Rebecca Davis O’Brien, Rebecca Ballhaus and Aruna Viswanatha, The Wall Street Journal


    Federal prosecutors in Manhattan are investigating whether President Trump’s 2017 inaugural committee misspent some of the record $107 million it raised from donations, people familiar with the matter said.

    The criminal probe by the Manhattan U.S. attorney’s office, which is in its early stages, also is examining whether some of the committee’s top donors gave money in exchange for access to the incoming Trump administration, policy concessions or to influence official administration positions, some of the people said.

    Giving money in exchange for political favors could run afoul of federal corruption laws. Diverting funds from the organization, which was registered as a nonprofit, could also violate federal law.

    The investigation represents another potential legal threat to people who are or were in Mr. Trump’s orbit. Their business dealings and activities during and since the campaign have led to a number of indictments and guilty pleas. Many of the president’s biggest campaign backers were involved in the inaugural fund.

    The investigation partly arises out of materials seized in the federal probe of former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen’s business dealings, according to people familiar with the matter.

    In April raids of Mr. Cohen’s home, office and hotel room, Federal Bureau of Investigation agents obtained a recorded conversation between Mr. Cohen and Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, a former adviser to Melania Trump, who worked on the inaugural events. In the recording, Ms. Wolkoff expressed concern about how the inaugural committee was spending money, according to a person familiar with the Cohen investigation.

    The Wall Street Journal couldn’t determine when the conversation between Mr. Cohen and Ms. Wolkoff took place, or why it was recorded. The recording is now in the hands of federal prosecutors in Manhattan, a person familiar with the matter said.

    The inaugural committee hasn’t been asked for records or been contacted by prosecutors, according to a lawyer close to the matter, who said: “We are not aware of any evidence the investigation the Journal is reporting actually exists.”

    The inaugural committee has publicly identified vendors accounting for $61 million of the $103 million it spent, and it hasn’t provided details on those expenses, according to tax filings. As a nonprofit organization, the fund is only required to make public its top five vendors.

    Continued at
  28. The Wrong Guy Member

    Senate rebukes Trump, condemns Saudi crown prince for Khashoggi murder

    By Clare Foran, Ted Barrett and Manu Raju, CNN


    The Senate on Thursday passed a resolution condemning Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, ratcheting up pressure on President Donald Trump who has aligned himself with the Saudi kingdom in the aftermath of the brutal killing.

    Just prior to passing the resolution by a voice vote, the Senate also overwhelmingly approved a resolution by a 56-41 vote that would require the US to end its military support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen, a move aimed both at ending that war and expressing anger at the Trump administration's handling of relations with Saudi Arabia.

    All told, it amounted to the most significant break within Congress toward Saudi Arabia in decades -- and the firmest response from Capitol Hill since the Khashoggi murder in October. But Republican leaders in the House may put a halt to the push and ultimately side with Trump.

    The vote on the Yemen resolution reflected the frustration senators from parties have with the vast human suffering from the war and President Donald Trump's embrace of the crown prince despite widely accepted evidence from US intelligence agencies that he ordered the killing of Khashoggi.

    The resolution condemning the crown prince, introduced by Republican Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, serves as an implicit rebuke of the President's own response to the death of Khashoggi and is one of several legislative efforts to target the crown prince and the Trump administration's policy toward Saudi Arabia.

    If the Corker resolution also passes the House, it will land on Trump's desk and force him to make a choice: Sign it and side with Congress or veto it and side with the Saudis.

    Continued at
  29. The Wrong Guy Member

    Why the National Enquirer cooperation deal is a VERY big problem for Donald Trump

    By Chris Cillizza, CNN


    First, AMI admitted that, in coordination with Trump's presidential campaign, it had paid McDougal $150,000 in the run-up to the election for the exclusive rights to her story that she had an affair with Donald Trump a decade earlier.

    Here's the exact wording from the SDNY press release on Wednesday (bolding is mine):

    "AMI admitted that it made the $150,000 payment in concert with a candidate's presidential campaign, andin order to ensure that the woman did not publicize damaging allegations about the candidate before the 2016 presidential election."

    So, AMI is acknowledging for the first time that not only did it make the payment to McDougal, which it has long lied about publicly, but it also did so in concert with Trump's campaign.

    The AMI settlement jibes with what we learned last week in the SDNY sentencing document on Cohen, in which the office makes clear they believe that Cohen made and sought to hide the payment to McDougal (as well as another six-figure payment to porn actress Stormy Daniels) at the direction and coordination of Trump. Trump, for what it's worth, has repeatedly expressed ignorance about the payments to Daniels and McDougal as well as where the money came from. We know the money came from Trump and, according to federal prosecutors, he directed the entire hush money operation.

    Perhaps the most important thing that the AMI settlement does, however, is make clear that the payment and the coordination with the Trump campaign was, according to the SDNY release, done by AMI "to suppress the woman's story so as to prevent it from influencing the election."

    That's of critical import, because Trump's latest argument is that while Daniels and McDougal were clearly paid off -- remember that he has long denied that -- it had nothing to do with his campaign or his prospects of winning. "So now the Dems go to a simple private transaction, wrongly call it a campaign contribution, which it was not," he tweeted on Monday.

    But AMI is admitting in their settlement deal that the goal of catching and killing McDougal's story was "to prevent it from influencing the election." Which means that the $150,000 amounted to an in-kind contribution to the campaign -- and broke campaign finance law.

    More at
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  30. I judt don't care for this Narative
  31. Disambiguation Global Moderator

    Trump is considering Jared Kushner for Chie of Staff
    What did we do to deserve this?
  32. Ex-US Attorney: 'Absolutely' Mueller Has Trump Tax Returns

    Read Newsmax: Ex-US Attorney: 'Absolutely' Mueller Has Trump's Tax Returns |
  33. The Wrong Guy Member

    From Noel Casler

    So this explains Donald Trump's sniffing | Palmer Report


    During the 2016 general election debates, even as Donald Trump was behaving erratically and talking nonsense, he was also sniffing uncontrollably. Everyone from former Governor Howard Dean to the late Carrie Fisher said they saw telltale signs that Trump had been, ahem, putting something up his nose. Now we finally have an explanation for it.

    Comedian Noel Casler, who used to work as a staffer for The Apprentice, has claimed during a standup routine that Donald Trump “crushes up his Adderall and he sniffs it because he can’t read, so he gets really nervous when he has to read the cue cards.” He went on to clarify that he wasn’t kidding, and that he and everyone else who worked for the show had to sign a “24-page NDA non-disclosure agreement” to prevent them from disclosing these kinds of things.

    Tom Arnold, who was on The Apprentice, then piled on with this: “This guy worked on Celebrity Apprentice for 6 years. He did the after parties & was Jared & Ivanka’s handler. Donald Trump abused Adderall on the set & it made him crazy. He even snorted Adderall. Mark Burnett knew it.” Casler first made the on-stage remarks on December 1st, but they’re just now going viral.

    So now there are two people from The Apprentice who are asserting that Donald Trump likes to crush up and snort Adderall. These are simply eyewitness accounts; they’re not claiming to have videotapes or other proof. But it sure would explain a lot, both in terms of Trump’s erratic behavior in general, and his sniffing fits in particular.


    Former Apprentice Staffer Claims Trump Was 'Speed Freak,' Invited Teen Beauty Queens to His Suite | Mediaite

    Tom Arnold Claims Donald Trump Snorted Adderall on 'The Apprentice' Set | Newsweek Adderall side effects
  34. The Wrong Guy Member

    • Like Like x 1
  35. The Wrong Guy Member

    Trump knew payments were wrong, Cohen says | ABC News

    "President Trump's ex-lawyer Michael Cohen sat down with ABC News for an exclusive interview just days after being sentenced to three years in federal prison."

    Cohen on Trump as president: 'He's a very different individual' | ABC News

    "Trump's former attorney told ABC News in an exclusive interview that he thinks "the pressure of the job is much more" than what the president thought it was going to be."

    Michael Cohen talks to George Stephanopoulos: Transcript | ABC News


    Michael Cohen, the president's former personal attorney and fixer, said Donald Trump directed him to make payments to two women who said they had affairs with the then-candidate because Trump "was very concerned about how this would affect the election."

    A lightly edited transcript of Cohen's interview with ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos, which aired today on "Good Morning America," follows here:

    Continued at
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  36. The Wrong Guy Member

    President Trump Inauguration Finances Under Criminal Investigation: WSJ | Rachel Maddow | MSNBC

    "Rebecca Davis O'Brien, reporter for the Wall Street Journal, talks with Rachel Maddow about new reporting that federal prosecutors have opened a criminal investigation into how the Trump inauguration committee raised and spent the record amounts of money it raised on a relatively meager event."

    Trump’s Inauguration Paid Trump’s Company — With Ivanka in the Middle

    As the inaugural committee planned the landmark celebration, internal concerns were raised about whether Trump’s Washington hotel was overcharging for event space. The spending could be a violation of the law.

    By Ilya Marritz, WNYC, and Justin Elliott, ProPublica


    When it came out this year that President Donald Trump’s inaugural committee raised and spent unprecedented amounts, people wondered where all that money went. It turns out one beneficiary was Trump himself.

    The inauguration paid the Trump Organization for rooms, meals and event space at the company’s Washington hotel, according to interviews as well as internal emails and receipts reviewed by WNYC and ProPublica.

    During the planning, Ivanka Trump, the president-elect’s eldest daughter and a senior executive with the Trump Organization, was involved in negotiating the price the hotel charged the 58th Presidential Inaugural Committee for venue rentals. A top inaugural planner emailed Ivanka and others at the company to “express my concern” that the hotel was overcharging for its event spaces, worrying of what would happen “when this is audited.”

    If the Trump hotel charged more than the going rate for the venues, it could violate tax law. The inaugural committee’s payments to the Trump Organization and Ivanka Trump’s role have not been previously reported or disclosed in public filings.

    “The fact that the inaugural committee did business with the Trump Organization raises huge ethical questions about the potential for undue enrichment,” said Marcus Owens, the former head of the division of the Internal Revenue Service that oversees nonprofits.

    Inaugural workers had other misgivings. Rick Gates, then the deputy to the chairman of the inaugural, asked some vendors to take payments directly from donors, rather than through the committee, according to two people with direct knowledge. The vendors felt the request was unusual and concerning, according to these people, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they signed confidentiality agreements. It is not clear whether any vendors took him up on his request.

    The revelations about the inauguration’s finances show how Trump blurred the lines between his political and business lives, as the real estate mogul ascended to the presidency.

    Continued at
  37. The Wrong Guy Member

    Trump Denies Telling Michael Cohen to Break the Law | Jimmy Kimmel Live

    "Donald Trump canceled the annual White House Holiday Party for members of the Press, tweeted about Michael Cohen's sentencing – denying he directed Cohen to break the law, is being investigated for misusing inauguration funds, and he might hire Jared Kushner as his Chief of Staff. So, everything is great."

    The Embarrassing President Feels Embarrassed | The Late Show with Stephen Colbert

    "Donald Trump claims he didn't know that Michael Cohen, the fixer who got helped him get away with illegal activities, was committing illegal activities."
  38. The Wrong Guy Member

    Here's What Robert Mueller Has Uncovered So Far, In His Own Words | TIME


    When Robert Mueller was appointed special counsel in 2017, he was given several subjects to investigate: Russian meddling in the election, any coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign and any other crimes arising from the investigation.

    So far, he has delivered a lot of detail about the first and the last, but has not said much about any Trump coordination.

    To Trump and his supporters, that has provided a vindication of sorts. Trump has repeatedly argued that guilty pleas and successful prosecutions from Mueller’s team actually show that there was “no collusion.” The special counsel’s office has regularly declined to comment on its findings, but some of the details provided so far provide hint that there may be more to the story.

    Still, understanding all of the findings in light of the dizzying array of charges and countercharges can be difficult. So we’ve pulled all of the most relevant legal findings together in one place.

    Continued at

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