A man is known by the company he keeps…… and the biggest LOSER

Days after the White House announced that it would not release visitor logs, the president hosted an unannounced dinner party that included Bat shit crazy Sarah Palin, the GOP’s 2008 vice presidential nominee and a former Alaska governor, and Low life nut job rocker Ted Nuget and delusional Kid Rock who also supported him during the 2016 campaign.

Lookout out Ivanka 

Palin posted photos from the Oval Office on Thursday morning, including one in which she is chatting up the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner.

“A great night at the White House. Thank you to President Trump for the invite!” she tweeted.

But it was the photo of Trump’s dinner guests trolling the Clinton photo that caught the most attention.

The bigoted anti semite Ted Nugent posted rambling thoughts on his Facebook page late Wednesday…………..

“So today is the 242nd anniversary of The Shot Heard Round The World is it! Well well well looky looky here boogie chillin’, I got your Shot Heard Round The World right here in big ol greazyass Washington DC where your 1 & only MotorCity Madman WhackMaster StrapAssasin1 dined with President Donald J Trump at the WhiteHouse to Make America Great Again! Got that? Glowing all American over the top WE THE PEOPLE gory details coming ASAP!! BRACE!”

The White House did not provide its own readout of the encounter.

 

The Loser………

Trump loves winning and winners, and all presidents love hanging out with sports champions. On Wednesday, Trump honored the New England Patriots for their overtime Super Bowl victory.

But many players skipped the ceremony in protest, and attendance was down noticeably from years past.

oops

NEW POLL –United Airlines favored over Trump: A new poll measured the favorability of United Airlines compared to President Trump.

Forty-two percent say they prefer the airline company to Trump. Forty percent favor Trump over United instead, while 18 percent remain undecided between the two.

http://thehill.com/policy/transportation/aviation/329687-poll-voters-prefer-united-airlines-to-trump

 

No tax return? You should always follow the money!

TWO smoking guns:

Former MI6 chief Richard Dearlove says Donald Trump borrowed money from Russia during 2008 financial crisis

Richard Dearlove told Prospect Magazine that “what lingers for Trump may be what deals – on what terms – he did after the financial crisis of 2008 to borrow Russian money” when other banks and lenders would not risk the money, given Mr Trump’s history of bankruptcy.

Just days before taking office Mr Trump tweeted that Russia has never had “leverage” over him.

Donald J. Trump ✔ @realDonaldTrump “Russia has never tried to use leverage over me. I HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH RUSSIA – NO DEALS, NO LOANS, NO NOTHING!” 4:31 am – 11 Jan 2017

Mr Trump also recently said US-Russia relations may be at an “all-time low” following the US air strike in Russian-allied Syria after a chemical attack in the Idlib province.

Robert Amsterdam, a lawyer at international law firm Amsterdam & Partners with considerable experience in Russian affairs, told The Independent there was “no question” that US intelligence agencies and the FBI had information about Trump’s financial dealings with Russian entities prior to the 2016 US election.

Trump-Russia investigation ‘now has concrete evidence of collusion’

“Trump’s relationship with Russia goes back many, many years. I’m sure the FBI was monitoring it,” he said.

Two parallel investigations into alleged ties between Trump associates and Russia during the 2016 presidential election as well as Russia’s alleged tampering with the election are being conducted in Congress at the moment.

Democrat Senator Mark Warner, Vice Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee said the tactics used by the Kremlin “send a chill down anyone who believes in the democratic process“.

If the FBI and or other US intelligence agencies did know about any financial burden Mr Trump had with Russian lenders, it will raise further questions over why the information was not released earlier, especially given the FBI’s approach to Mr Trump’s opposition candidate Hillary Clinton during the 2016 election.

FBI Director James Comey infamously sent a letter on 28 October – just 11 days before Americans went to the polls – to Congress stating the agency found new, pertinent emails in its ongoing investigation into then-candidate Ms Clinton’s use of a private email server for messages containing classified information.

Mr Amsterdam said one possible explanation is “that the FBI has an informer who was once part of the Trump organization” and that information was not released in order to protect that source.

“In my view…[the FBI] had no obligation” to share the Trump investigation but “the same rules should apply to Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump,” he said.

Mr Amsterdam explained that Russian authorities likely have the same, if not “better,” information about Mr Trump’s financial dealings with Russian entities.

“One of Mr Trump’s main lenders is a bank that’s been particularly close with Russians: Deutsche Bank,” said Mr Amsterdam.

It is unknown if Mr Trump is still paying off the alleged 2008 debts to Russian lenders or which part of the vast Trump organization took out the loans.

The Congressional investigations will also include interviews and possibly hearings with Mr Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner.

It has been confirmed that Vnesheconombank, a Russian state development bank, met with Mr Kushner in December 2016.

The bank is currently subject to western economic sanctions due to Russia’s incursion into Ukraine.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/richard-dearlove-mi6-trump-russia-money-2008-financial-crisis-us-election-a7684341.html

Concrete evidence of collusion between Trump team and Russia’ handed to official investigation

The official investigation into relations between Donald Trump and Russia now has “specific, concrete and corroborative evidence of collusion”, it has been reported.

New evidence proves discussions took place “between people in the Trump campaign and agents of [Russian] influence relating to the use of hacked material,” a source allegedly told the Guardian.

The developments come as it has emerged that Britain’s spy agencies were among the first to alert their American counterparts to contact between members of Mr Trump’s campaign team and Russian intelligence operatives.

British and other European intelligence agencies first intercepted suspicious “interactions” between people associated with the US President and Russian officials in 2015 as part of routine surveillance of Russia, intelligence sources have confirmed to a number of different publications.

GCHQ British Spy Headquarters

Spy agencies, including GCHQ, were not deliberately targeting members of the Trump team but rather recorded communications through “incidental collection,” CNN reports.

This intelligence was passed to the US as part of a routine exchange of information under the “Five Eyes“ agreement, which calls for open sharing of certain types of information among member nations the US, UK, Australia, New Zealand and Canada.

Over several months, different agencies targeting the same people began to see a pattern in communications between the Republican’s inner circle and Russian operatives. For six months, until summer 2016, these interactions were repeatedly flagged to intelligence officials in the US, who sources have said were slow to act.

“It looks like the [US] agencies were asleep,” a source told the Guardian. “They [the European agencies] were saying: ‘There are contacts going on between people close to Mr Trump and people we believe are Russian intelligence agents. You should be wary of this.’

“The message was: ‘Watch out. There’s something not right here.’”

GCHQ’s involvement in the investigation is controversial, with Mr Trump’s press secretary, Sean Spicer, having previously accused the “British spying agency” of bugging Trump Tower on behalf of Barack Obama. Mr Spicer cited an unsubstantiated report on Fox News, from which the television station later distanced itself.

At the time GCHQ diverged from its usual policy of refraining from commenting to the media, describing the allegations as “nonsense”.

“They are utterly ridiculous and should be ignored,” a spokesperson for the agency said. But both US and UK intelligence sources now acknowledge that C played an early and important role in kickstarting the FBI’s Trump-Russia investigation, which began in late July 2016.

One source told the Guardian the British eavesdropping agency was the “principal whistleblower”.

A GCHQ spokesperson declined to comment on the revelations, saying: “It is longstanding policy that we do not comment on intelligence matters”.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/trump-russia-investigation-now-has-specific-concrete-and-corroborative-evidence-of-collusion-a7683386.html

 

 

 

More on Trump’s hero Putin and his Mafia state

The WhatsApp Chat That Nails Putin’s Mafia State

New evidence in the so-called Magnitsky Affair shows the rot at the core of the Russian regime.

It was a digital conversation never intended for public consumption. Yet what it discloses is nothing short of damning evidence about a decade-old conspiracy between the Russian mob and officials in Vladimir Putin’s government to steal $230 million from the Russian people, then frame and kill the whistleblowing tax attorney who uncovered the crime.

But here it is: Evidence that leaves little room for doubt that Sergei Magnitsky, the murdered lawyer, was right all along. There was collusion between members of organized crime and the Russian government to perpetrate the original theft and then cover it up. In fact, the cover-up continued years after Magnitsky’s violent end in pretrial detention, where he was beaten to death.

To understand the evidence and its import—the extent to which it exposes the rot at the core of the Russian system run by Vladimir Putin—it’s necessary to revisit the admittedly complicated details of the conspiracy, at least as they have been corroborated by the U.S. Congress, the U.S. Department of Justice (PDF), and the European Parliament, all of which have upheld Magnitsky’s findings—even if his own government has not.

In June 2007, officers of the Russian Interior Ministry raided two offices in Moscow. The first belonged to Hermitage Capital, then the largest investment vehicle in the Russian Federation; the second was Hermitage’s law firm Firestone Duncan. The officers seized stamps and certificates for three subsidiaries belonging to the firm. In effect, with those bits of rubber, ink, and paper, they purloined those three companies, although no one knew it at the time.

Months later, Hermitage received a phone call from a St. Petersburg court informing it that it was liable for hundreds of millions of dollars in judgments levied against those same three stolen companies. At which point, Hermitage hired a young tax attorney at Firestone, Sergei Magnitsky, to find out what had happened.

He discovered that the documents seized by the Interior Ministry were actually used to re-register the Hermitage subsidiaries in three jurisdictions all over Russia and that a lawyer named Andrey Pavlov turned up in concurrent civil court cases representing the companies. Pavlov, who in another instance also represented the plaintiff company, pleaded guilty in the cases, costing the purloined subsidiaries more than $1 billion in phony liabilities. The subsidiaries then sought a collective tax refund for $230 million, citing losses from the previous tax year as a result of the liabilities. The entire refund was processed in 24 hours on Christmas Eve 2007.

 

This is the kind of thing that may sound complicated at first glance, but is quite easy to arrange if a government and a criminal enterprise are colluding.

When some of the details were exposed, the European Parliament sanctioned Pavlov as a member of the transnational Russian organized crime syndicate known as the Klyuev Group, headed by ex-convict Dmitry Klyuev. Members of this mafia, according to the U.S. government, include the very Interior Ministry policemen who raided Hermitage and its law firm, as well as the tax officials who processed the $230 million refund, and members of other law enforcement bodies assigned with investigating the fraud.

To date, no one credibly implicated in the conspiracy has been brought to book in Russia. Many members of the Klyuev Group have been awarded state honors or given promotions or reassigned or have taken early retirement.

Magnitsky, meanwhile, was arrested on charges of tax evasion, then blamed for the conspiracy he uncovered, then denied urgent medical care in pretrial detention, then beaten to death in an isolation cell in Moscow, as the Russian Presidential Human Rights Commission concluded in a summarily ignored post-mortem.

In the last several years, much of the $230 million—which, again, was taken not from Hermitage Capital but from Russian public coffers and therefore Russian taxpayers—has been located in a host of foreign bank accounts and real-estate markets, including that of Manhattan where an ongoing and increasingly surreal federal money-laundering case is being prosecuted by the U.S. Southern District of New York, until recently the demesne of Preet Bharara.

Key witnesses involved in the Magnitsky affair have gone silent. One Western government informant was poisoned in England. The lawyer representing the Magnitsky family mysteriously fell (or was pushed) out of his fourth-floor apartment building in Moscow a day before he was due to testify in Russian court about the latest developments in the case.

A landmark U.S. human rights law named for Magnitsky, meanwhile, has sanctioned 39 accomplices to the Magnitsky Affair.

Pavlov is not one of them. But Oleg Urzhumtsev, a senior Russian Interior Ministry official who allegedly helped orchestrate the Magnitsky affair, is. He left his government job in or around 2011, a few years after having investigated the tax fraud and questioned Pavlov (whom he did not charge with any crime) and after he signed decrees that shifted blame for the crime onto Magnitsky himself.

Which makes it all the more interesting that in a tranche of hacked and publicly leaked emails belonging to Pavlov, the alleged consigliere is shown conversing with Urzhumtsev in 2013 (six years after the original crime) and giving him instructions as to how to retroactively exonerate the Klyuev Group.

Pavlov confirmed the authenticity of the emails in a legal complaint he filed in Moscow to try and prevent independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta from publishing them. They contain several days’ worth of WhatsApp communications between the consigliere and the ex-Interior Ministry official, which go a long way toward vindicating Magnitsky’s gumshoe exposé.

***

On Feb. 18, 2013, Andrey Pavlov messages his friend Oleg Urzhumtsev on the encrypted platform WhatsApp: “I have a very serious and important matter for you. The Bald-Headed told me that I should assign it to you.” The Bald-Headed here appears to refer to the glabrous Dmitry Kluyev. And the task is to tamper with state evidence in order to exonerate the Klyuev Group from any criminal activity. It entails commissioning a fake forensic “study” to demonstrate that the three Hermitage seals stolen by the Interior Ministry in 2007 did not match those used in Pavlov’s civil cases. If they didn’t, after all, the Klyuev Group can’t have been guilty of any financial fraud.

Gaining access to the confiscated seals, however, means navigating various competitive arms of Russian law enforcement including the courts, the sub-agencies and departments within the Interior Ministry, and the Investigative Committee. And that in turn means seconding a series of “small bosses,” or mid-level officials, who might not be so willing to grant such access for an elaborate and unlawful scheme.

What follows is a revealing five-day dialogue between Pavlov and Urzhumtsev, chronicling, often in colorful language, every vicissitude of their project to rewrite their own criminal histories.

On Feb. 18, Pavlov messages Urzhumtsev to tell him that all three seals are in an evidence box with the Russian Interior Ministry’s Department for the Central Federal District. “The documents are with the court in [St. Petersburg], as I remember you were the one who had seized them.” Urzhumtsev, now out of a job at the Interior Ministry, nonetheless replies that he thinks he can arrange for the study to be commissioned using active officers in the ministry, but that he isn’t quite sure how to get hold of the seals from the Central District.

Later that day, he appears to have figured out a way. He tells Pavlov that he has tasked someone called “the Cossack”—an epithet used in the exchange to refer to an unidentified officer in the Interior Ministry’s Organized Crime and Corruption Investigations Department—with overseeing the request for access and the photocopying of the seals.

Pavlov thanks Urzhumtsev for sorting out the scheme. “I’ve always known that if you want, you can kick the brains out of anyone. 🙂 Thank you!”

Urzhumtsev affirms that he is “coaching” the Cossack on how to handle everything.

After a 48-hour delay, Pavlov expresses his frustration that even if the bogus study is successfully commissioned, Magnitsky family lawyer Nikolai Gorokhov and Hermitage Fund lawyer Alexander Antipov “have to be notified of it” and “it would be a clusterfuck.” No doubt this is because Gorokhov and Antipov would be in positions to examine and scrutinize this newly minted expert analysis and possibly discredit it.

Later, on Feb. 21, Urzhumtsev confirms that the Cossack “will come by in the morning, and will sign all the documents.”

Pavlov replies: “Oleg, you are saving me :). I owe you!”

The following day, Feb. 22., Urzhumtsev tells Pavlov that he spent the entire night composing “the full set of documents” for the Cossack required to gain access to the evidence box.

Later that day, Urzhumtsev confirms to Pavlov that “the full set of documents for the study is with Vityok,” referring, evidently, to the Interior Ministry officer overseeing the study. “The only thing, I haven’t had a chance to identify for him the objective for the study. But I think it could wait until [Monday.]” Pavlov replies: “He knows the objective, I told him, but it should be repeated,” thereby acknowledging that the conclusion of study has been predetermined.

The timing of the WhatsApp conversation, the transcript of which Pavlov emailed to himself, is also telling. It occurred exactly a month before Russia’s FBI-like Investigative Committee not only shuttered its case into the death of Magnitsky in custody, citing a “lack of crime,” but also charged the slain lawyer posthumously with perpetrating the very fraud he uncovered. Other Russian state officials, including judges and Interior Ministry officers now under U.S. sanctions for their role in the Magnitsky affair, are also referenced in Pavlov and Urzhumtsev’s discussion.

Even more disturbing is the allusion to Magnitsky family attorney Nikolai Gorokhov, who was either defenestrated or suffered an unfortunate and ill-timed accident on March 21 this year, a day before he was due to appear before the Moscow City Appeals Court to argue on behalf of a complaint filed by Magnitsky’s mother.

That complaint was to overturn a previous court ruling that Pavlov’s leaked emails, and this WhatsApp conversation in particular, didn’t constitute grounds to reopen the criminal investigation into her son’s suspicious death.

In an interview with Pavlov published last week in Novaya Gazeta, the outlet he has unsuccessfully tried to prevent from publishing his hacked emails, Pavlov told the newspaper: “But what do you see in [the WhatApp messages]? That both a lawyer and an investigator do know each other and discuss criminal cases? I see that some people are collecting material for the criminal case. Here the most important question: was the expertise falsified or did someone just want it to be held?”

This quaint interpretation obviously elides the prima facie evidence demonstrated in the conversation: Pavlov, a former subject of a state investigation into the fraud against Hermitage, is asking Urzhumtsev, a former state official tasked with investigating that fraud—and therefore Pavlov, whom he interviewed and then exonerated as part of that investigation—to interfere with an existing case file four weeks before that case was definitively closed. No court in the world would deem this an innocent colloquy between “a lawyer and an investigator.” Novaya Gazeta remarked that during the course of the interview, Pavlov seemed to be offering the newspaper “a proposal to abandon the story of his emails in exchange for some valuable documents.”

What the WhatsApp conversation constitutes is hard documentary proof that Sergei Magnitsky died for being correct. He exposed a sophisticated and cynical swindle by the mafia state Vladimir Putin has spent close to two decades constructing and protecting.

The conversation also shows that Western legislatures, facing a fierce lobbying campaign by agents of the Kremlin and pushback from bureaucracies in their own governments, have been right to honor Magnitsky’s memory by blacklisting the crooks, thieves, and thugs responsible for bleeding their country dry while terminating this patriotic lawyer to save their own hides.

Michael Weiss The Daily Beast

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2017/04/05/the-whatsapp-chat-that-nails-putin-s-mafia-state.html

This is a follow up to second half of our post from March 22 that explores Here’s how dissent is dealt with in Russia.

https://tuluwatexaminer.wordpress.com/2017/03/22/trump-begins-employing-his-mentor-putins-tactics-on-capitol-hill/

 

with all eyes on Trump’s Russian corruption you might have missed this other corruption

It’s been previously reported that HHS Secretary Tom Price has made some questionable stock trades that appear to be based on inside information he had as a congressman. But Robert Faturechi reports that there’s more:

On the same day the stockbroker for then-Georgia Congressman Tom Price bought him up to $90,000 of stock in six pharmaceutical companies last year, Price arranged to call a top U.S. health official, seeking to scuttle a controversial rule that could have hurt the firms’ profits and driven down their share prices, records obtained by ProPublica show.

….On March 17, 2016, Price’s broker purchased shares worth between $1,000 and $15,000 each in Eli Lilly, Amgen, Bristol-Meyers Squibb, McKesson, Pfizer and Biogen….The same day as the stock trade, Price’s legislative aide, Carla DiBlasio, emailed health officials to follow up on a request she had made to set up a call with Patrick Conway, the agency’s chief medical officer. In her earlier emails, DiBlasio said the call would focus on payments for joint replacement procedures. But that day, she mentioned a new issue.

“Chairman Price may briefly bring up … his concerns about the new Part B drug demo, as well,” she wrote. “Congressman Price really appreciates the opportunity to have an open conversation with Dr. Conway, so we really appreciate you keeping the lines of communication open.”

The “Part B drug demo” refers to a proposed Obama rule that removed the incentive for doctors to prescribe expensive drugs that don’t seem to improve patient outcomes. As it happens, there were plenty of folks in Congress from both parties who opposed this rule, so Price’s opposition wasn’t unusual. The difference is that all the others didn’t buy lots of pharmaceutical stock at the same time they were lobbying to stop a rule that might have eaten into pharmaceutical profits.

So far, the Price affair hasn’t attracted all that much attention. There are too many other Trump administration scandals to worry about. But this one has a decent chance of blowing up one of these days.

http://m.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2017/04/price-affair-dark-horse-corruption-scandal-just-waiting-erupt

Trump begins employing his mentor Putin’s tactics on Capitol Hill

President Trump spent Tuesday selling the Republican health-care overhaul to skeptical House members, warning his party that failure would endanger his legislative agenda and their own political careers.

But more than two dozen GOP lawmakers remained firmly opposed to the legislation amid the high-stakes persuasion campaign led by Trump and House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) — more than enough to block the bill ahead of a planned Thursday vote.

House failure would send leaders back to the drawing board on a key issue that Trump and congressional Republicans promised voters they would address. Even if the House approves the package, the legislation faces an uphill battle in the Senate.

The holdouts are mainly hard-line conservatives who believe that the bill, known as the American Health Care Act, does not do nearly enough to undo the Affordable Care Act passed by Democrats in 2010. But they also include moderates who fear that the bill will imperil their constituents and their party’s prospects at the ballot box.

In a morning address to a closed-door meeting of House Republicans, Trump used both charm and admonishment as he made his case, reassuring skittish members that they would gain seats in Congress if the bill passed.

President Trump “had some fun” at the “expense” of Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), a critic of the House Republicans’ health-care bill. Trump told Meadows earlier in the day that he would “come after” him. (Reuters)

He singled out Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), the chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, which has led the right-wing opposition to the bill.

“I’m gonna come after you, but I know I won’t have to, because I know you’ll vote ‘yes,’ ” Trump said, according to several lawmakers who attended the meeting. “Honestly, a loss is not acceptable, folks.”

Trump’s remarks — which Meadows said he took as good-natured ribbing — reflected his mounting urgency to secure a major legislative victory in the early months of his presidency and fulfill a central campaign promise by repealing the signature domestic achievement of President Barack Obama. Passing a health-care measure is key to unlocking momentum for the president’s other legislative priorities, such as tax reform and infrastructure spending.

“He wants to get this bill done,” said Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.), a Trump ally. “I don’t hear that as a threat. It’s a statement of reality.”

“You know Trumps not joking” TE

Lawyer Gorokhov mysteriously falls from rooftop right before court date…….hmmmm!

Here’s how dissent is dealt with in Russia

A Moscow lawyer who represents the family of a now-deceased Russian whistleblower was severely injured Tuesday after falling several stories, just one day before he was scheduled to appear in court.

The lawyer, Nikolai Gorokhov, represents the family of Sergei Magnitsky, another Russian attorney who mysteriously died in custody in Moscow in 2009 after accusing law enforcement and tax officials of a massive fraud worth $230 million. Magnitsky’s death sparked international outrage and led to U.S. legislation in 2012 imposing sanctions on several Russian officials.

Investor Bill Browder, a vocal critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin and the man Magnitsky was working for when he was arrested, wrote that Gorokhov was “thrown from the top floor of his apartment building” and is currently hospitalized with severe head injuries in the intensive care unit at Moscow’s Botkin Hospital.

On Wednesday, Gorokhov was supposed to appear in a Moscow appeals court. He was set to challenge a lower court’s refusal to hear a complaint filed by Magnitsky’s mother in relation to the fraud exposed by her son.

Gorokhov was also expected to be a witness in a U.S. federal case in Manhattan tied to the alleged fraud. That case was being handled by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, until he was ousted by President Donald Trump earlier this month.

In recent years, several notable Kremlin critics have died or been injured under mysterious circumstances.

In February, journalist Vladimir Kara-Murza was hospitalized for organ failure after experiencing symptoms similar to those when he was poisoned in 2015.

In 2015, opposition politician Boris Nemstov was shot dead in Moscow. His widow has blamed the Russian government for his death. Later that year, former Russian press minister Mikhail Lesin was found dead in Washington, D.C., after suffering blunt force trauma to the head. Lesin’s death was eventually ruled an accident related to alcohol consumption.

Boris Berezovsky, a Russian oligarch who became a Putin critic, was found dead in his home in the U.K. in 2013.

And according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, 56 members of the press, including investigative reporter Anna Politkovskaya, have been killed in Russia since 1992.

Magnitsky’s death prompted the U.S. to take measures in 2012 to punish the Russian officials believed to be responsible for his death. Russia retaliated by imposing sanctions on some U.S. officials and banning adoption of Russian children by Americans. In December last year, Congress voted to expand the law to cover human rights abusers in any country, not just Russia.

info from washington post and huffington post

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/nikolai-gorokhov-injured-sergei-magnitsky_us_58d1a29be4b0f838c62d9023

https://www.washingtonpost.com/powerpost/trump-arrives-on-capitol-hill-to-sell-house-gop-health-care-package/2017/03/21/e8ede3d2-0e2b-11e7-9b0d-d27c98455440_story.html?utm_term=.4b909339db56&wpisrc=nl_politics&wpmm=1

Fired U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara just happened to be probing Fox News, oops

President Donald Trump’s decision to fire U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara happened as Bharara’s office was reportedly probing Fox News over its alleged failure to inform shareholders about repeated settlements for allegations of sexual harassment and assault by former Chairman and CEO Roger Ailes and other executives against female employees. Reports indicate Trump may pick one of Ailes’ former lawyers to replace Bharara.

Fox News Faced Numerous Sexual Assault And Harassment Allegations

Ailes Left Fox News Amid Flurry Of Sexual Harassment Allegations. In early July, former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson sued the network’s CEO and Chairman Roger Ailes for sexual harassment. Carlson’s attorney told The Washington Post that 25 women had “come forward with what they describe as similar harassment claims against Ailes that stretch across five decades back to his days in the 1960s as a young television producer.” 21st Century Fox tasked a law firm with conducting a review of Ailes’ conduct and “the initial findings were damaging enough that the Murdochs decided they had to escort Ailes out,” according to CNN’s Brian Stelter. New York national affairs editor Gabriel Sherman reported that sources briefed on the investigation said former Fox News host Megyn Kelly told investigators that Ailes had also sexually harassed her. [The Washington Post, 7/22/16; CNN, The Lead with Jake Tapper, 7/21/16; New York, 7/19/16]

Fox’s Culture Of Sexual Harassment Extends Beyond Ailes. The New York Times reported on July 23 that Fox News may have “a broader problem in the workplace,” that extends beyond Ailes after at least “a dozen women” told the Times that “they had experienced some form of sexual harassment or intimidation at Fox News or the Fox Business Network, and half a dozen more who said they had witnessed it. Two of them cited Mr. Ailes and the rest cited other supervisors.” [The New York Times, 7/23/16]

Fox Recently Settled With Former Contributor Over Sexual Assault Allegation That Resulted In Executive’s Firing. The New York Times recently reported that Fox settled with former network contributor Tamara Holder in February for more than $2.5 million after the said she was sexually assaulted by an executive at the company’s headquarters two years ago. The Times reported that Fox “investigated her claims, and the executive, Francisco Cortés, the vice president for Fox News Latino, was terminated, according to two people familiar with the matter.” [The New York Times, 3/8/17]

Former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara Was Investigating Fox Over Sexual Harassment Settlements

CNNMoney: “Fox News Under Federal Investigation Over Ailes Settlement Payments.” CNN senior media reporter Dylan Byers reported on February 15 that the Justice Department had for months been investigating Fox News over failing to inform shareholders about settlements with employees who had pressed charges against Ailes for sexual harassment.

ABC News: Preet Bharara’s “Office Is Conducting A Criminal Investigation Into Fox News.” ABC News reported that Preet Bharara’s office, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, which includes much of New York City where 21st Century Fox is headquartered, was “conducting a criminal investigation into Fox News.”

The Hollywood Reporter: Former Fox Host Andrea Tantaros’ Attorney Suggested Fox Settled Multiple Harassment Lawsuits Without Reporting Them In SEC Filings. According to The Hollywood Reporter, a lawyer representing former Outnumbered host Andrea Tantaros, one of the Fox employees suing over sexual harassment, said he received a subpoena from federal investigators requesting testimony from another Fox client, which he said meant Fox had settled multiple lawsuits without reporting them in its SEC filings.

Bharara Was Fired By Trump After Being Asked To Stay On

Bharara Agreed To Remain As U.S. Attorney After Meeting Trump In November. As The Washington Times reported, Bharara met with President Donald Trump in late November and “confirmed he accepted Mr. Trump’s offer to stay on the job.” Then Sen. Jeff Sessions, whom Trump had nominated to serve as his attorney general, also asked Bharara to stay in the job.

Attorney General Sessions Then Asked All Obama-Era U.S. Attorneys, Including Bharara, To Resign. On March 10, Attorney General Jeff Sessions asked all 46 U.S. attorneys remaining from the Obama administration to resign. [Los Angeles Times, 3/10/17]

Bharara Was Fired After Refusing To Resign. The Associated Press reported that after refusing to resign at the request of Sessions, Bharara was instead fired from his position as a U.S. attorney. [The Associated Press, 3/11/17; Twitter, 3/11/17]

NY Times: A “Pending Investigation” Of Bharara’s Appears To Focus On How Fox News Structured Settlements Of Claims Brought By Network Employees.” The New York Times reported on March 10 that it was “unclear what effect [Bharara’s] departure might have” on his office’s ongoing investigations g, including a “pending investigation [that] appears to focus on how Fox News structured settlements of claims brought by network employees.” [The New York Times, 3/10/17]

Trump May Replace Bharara With Former Ailes Lawyer Who Helped Him With Harassment Damage Control

Bloomberg: New York Lawyers Speculate Marc Mukasey Will Be Nominated To Replace Bharara. Bloomberg reported on March 11 that “speculation is already building for who will be nominated by Trump as a permanent replacement” for Bharara and that “Many suggest it will be Marc Mukasey, a lawyer at Greenberg Traurig LLP with close ties to former New York Mayor and sometime Trump adviser Rudy Giuliani.” [Bloomberg, 3/11/17]

New York Magazine’s Gabriel Sherman: Bharara’s Firing “Ignited Speculation That It Was Designed To Blunt Investigations Like The Fox News Probe.” In a March 12 article, Gabriel Sherman, who has reported extensively about Ailes and Fox News, wrote that Bharara’s firing could be a “win” for Fox News executive chairman Rupert Murdoch because “the prospect of indictments” in Bharara’s investigation of Fox was “a serious problem” for the network.

Full story here at Media Matters:

https://mediamatters.org/research/2017/03/12/us-attorney-preet-bharara-was-investigating-fox-news-when-trump-fired-him/215644

IT’S NOT THE CRIME. IT’S THE COVER UP

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IT’S NOT THE CRIME. IT’S THE COVER UP:

— From Walter Pincus’s column for The Cipher Brief: “What did the President know, and when did he know it? For those of us who went through Watergate, that question, first posed by Sen. Howard Baker (R-Tenn.), is the one most relevant today as the current White House drama unfolds … At 6:28 a.m. yesterday morning, Trump wrote from the White House: ‘The real story here is why are  there so many illegal leaks coming out of Washington? Will these leaks be happening as I deal on N.Korea etc?’ That presidential tweet should make people uneasy, the way we felt nervous during Watergate about what military actions President Nixon might undertake as the truth began to threaten him personally. Trump was initiating what can only be described as a typical attempt to divert his roughly 25 million followers from paying attention to what he and his own White House has been caught doing.”

Walter, one of the wisest men in Washington, offers sage advice that the Trump high command might want to heed: “More than 50 years ago, on the very first day I showed up for work to run an investigation of foreign government lobbyists for Sen. J.W. Fulbright (D-Ark.), then chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he told me, ‘Remember, it’s not what you did that counts, it’s what you did after you were caught.’ Washington, believe it or not, is a very forgiving town to government officials, including members of Congress, if they confess to misdeeds. But what has always brought people down is when they try to cover up what they have done.”

WILL REPUBLICANS CONTINUE TO STAND BY TRUMP AS HIS NUMBERS SINK?

— It has become politically more difficult for congressional Republicans to walk in lockstep with the president. From Sean Sullivan, Karoun Demirjian and Paul Kane:

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday that it was “highly likely” that the events leading to Flynn’s departure would be added to the broader probe into Russian meddling in the election.

The top two members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-Va.), stood side by side to announce that the committee’s ongoing probe must include an examination of any contacts between Trump campaign officials and the Russian government.

Sen. Roy Blunt, a member of Senate Republican leadership, told a Missouri radio station that the Senate Intelligence Committee should look into Trump’s Russia connections “exhaustively so that at the end of this process, nobody wonders whether there was a stone left unturned, and shouldn’t reach conclusions before you have the information that you need to have to make those conclusions.” “For all of us, finding out if there’s a problem or not, and sooner rather than later, is the right thing to do,” he said.