Sunday, March 18, 2018

Calling Out Corruption

Another updated reminder for those who think what's happening is nothing more than a "left-wing media meltdown":

In a blatant act of petty vindictiveness, Trump and Sessions, late on Friday, March 16, fired Andrew McCabe, Deputy FBI Director, just two days before he would have qualified for a pension for his 21 years of service. Several sources reported that McCabe soon met with Robert Mueller, and turned over at least some of his notes on conversations with Trump.

Hours after Trump announced Tillerson's firing,  John McEntee, Trump's personal assistant was also fired. CNBC reported that McEntee was dismissed for "unspecified reasons," "removed from the White House," and escorted off the grounds. Reports noted that although McEntee was sacked, he almost immediately joined Trump's re-election campaign. Apparently, being fired for some security problem does not preclude working for a presidential campaign.

Trump fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on March 13, according to CNN, the New York Times, and other sources. CNN reported that Tillerson learned of his dismissal via Twitter, and the former Exxon CEO did not know the reason he was let go, in typical Trumpian operating procedure.

Several sources, including The Hill and CNN, reported on March 6, that Robert Mueller's team informed the White House that Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway twice violated the Hatch Act. The statement from Mueller's office reads in part: "Ms. Conway’s statements during the 'Fox & Friends' and 'New Day' interviews impermissibly mixed official government business with political views about candidates in the Alabama special election for U.S. Senate." Penalties can range from a fine, to suspension, to " debarment from federal employment for up to five years."

Trump associate Erik Prince is under scrutiny by Robert Mueller for a meeting that allegedly took place on January 17, 2017, shortly before Trump's inauguration. The meeting that took place in the Seychelles Islands in the Indian Ocean is rumored to have been an attempt by Prince (who is Betsy DeVos' brother) representing Trump, to "covertly communicate" with Putin's team.

Trump economic adviser Gary Cohn resigned on March 6, over a dispute on the impending tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. He previously played a large role in pushing through the Republican tax scam bill.

Another in a long line of Trump appointees has resigned – this one over allegations of inappropriate comments on her part. Christine Bauserman, special assistant to Department of the Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, and a former Trump campaign worker, resigned on February 28, after she was found to have "repeatedly shared conspiracy theories, made anti-Muslim comments and shared anti-LGBT sentiments on social media."

White House aide, communications director Hope Hicks, resigned one day after she testified to the House Intelligence committee that in her job, she often told "white lies." She has also been interviewed by Robert Mueller and could be indicted on obstruction of justice charges.

A U.S. District Court Judge on February 28 scheduled the Paul Manafort trial for September 17 for some of the indictments brought against him by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Manafort could face an additional trial for charges brought in the superseding indictment. At today's hearing where Manafort pleaded not guilty, the judge chastised him for his comments suggesting that Rick Gates should not have pleaded guilty.

One day after a new indictment was announced against him, former Trump campaign vice-chairman Rick Gates pleaded guilty in Federal Court to conspiracy against the United States, and lying to Federal agents. He admitted he lied directly to Robert Mueller during a previous plea deal discussion. It should also be noted that Gates' original lawyers quit recently, citing, according to NBC News, "irreconcilable differences." This conviction is the fifth in the Russia probe, and Gates is the third Trump associate to cooperate with Mueller.

Immediately on the heels of those charges, Mueller's office announced a superseding indictment against Paul Manafort. Adding to yesterday's 32 count indictment, Mueller added five new charges, including "conspiracy against the United States, conspiracy to launder money, unregistered agent of a foreign principal, false and misleading FARA statements, and false statements." This brings the total charges against Manafort to 54.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller and a Federal grand jury issued on February 22, additional indictments against the already arrested Paul Manafort and Rick Gates. Added to the original 16 charges, the new indictment lists 32 counts, including filing false individual income tax returns, failure to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts, bank fraud conspiracy, and bank fraud.

Lawyer Alex Van Der Zwaan is the latest to be indicted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller and convicted by a Federal court in the Russia probe. Van Der Zwaan was charged with lying to the FBI regarding communications with Rick Gates who is also under indictment. He pleaded guilty on February 20, bringing the conviction count to four, with Gates expected to follow soon.

From the U.S. Department of Justice, Special Counsel's web site: "A federal grand jury in the District of Columbia returned an indictment on Feb. 16, 2018, against 13 Russian nationals and three Russian entities accused of violating U.S. criminal laws in order to interfere with U.S. elections and political processes. The indictment charges all of the defendants with conspiracy to defraud the United States, three defendants with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud, and five defendants with aggravated identity theft."

Reported by several news outlets: Rick Gates, arrested on October 27, 2017 by Robert Mueller, and indicted for money laundering, conspiracy against the United States, and other charges, will soon change his plea to guilty. For those who lost count, that is now three guilty pleas/conviction by Trump associates.

White House aide George Banks resigned because he was told he would not be granted a permanent security clearance. No, it isn't domestic abuse this time; his problem is at least one incidence of marijuana use. Multiple sources report that at least three dozen White House employees are working on temporary security clearances. Does anyone get that this is a serious problem? What happened to the "I only hire the best people," thing?

Yet another Trump appointee has withdrawn. Thomas Brunell, an avowed proponent of gerrymandering, voter suppression, and anti-competitive elections (he wrote a book arguing against real elections) will not be the deputy director of the U.S. Census Bureau. Share Blue Media, along with several civil rights advocates, called Brunell out for his "blatant lack of qualifications," and "his hostility toward one of the fundamental tenets of democracy: competitive elections."

A White House aide has resigned amid allegations of domestic abuse. No, this is not a duplicate of yesterday's news; this is a brand new one. Speech writer David Sorensen is yet another Trump appointee whose background check was not completed (see Porter story below), and was forced to resign in shame. We were told that this president hires only the best people, and we are still trying to determine just where those people are.

White House aide Rob Porter resigned on February 7 after accusations surfaced that he physically abused both of his former wives. He quit despite the fact that the White House, Chief of Staff John Kelly, and others tried to deflect away from the alleged crimes. A statement from the White House included that his background check was never completed. In other words, he was not fully vetted.

Trey Gowdy, GOP chairman of the House Oversight Committee, announced he will not run for re-election. Gowdy is best known as the head of the Benghazi Investigation. He becomes the ninth Republican committee chairman to announce his retirement in less than a year.

Brenda Fitzgerald, Trump's recent appointee as Director of the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, resigned after news broke that she bought stocks after taking charge of the agency. Among the stocks she purchased are tobacco and pharmaceutical company shares – a clear and obvious conflict of interest. She has at the least, violated ethics norms, and at worst, broken the law.

Andrew McCabe, Deputy Director of the FBI, was forced to resign on January 29 by the Trump administration. McCabe became Acting FBI Director after Trump fired James Comey in 2017. McCabe's dismissal seems to bolster the case for obstruction of justice against Trump, although it won't stop him from testifying against the president.

story that actually broke last June by April D. Ryan, with several corroborating sources indicates that Trump tried to fire Mueller in June 2017. White House counsel Don McGahn, who is also being investigated by Mueller, allegedly talked Trump out of firing the special counsel. Legal minds, including California Congressman Ted Lieu, Harvard Law professor Laurence Tribe, and others suggest the attempted firing clearly shows Trump's "consciousness of guilt." Others point out that this alleged attempt at obstruction of justice is clearly a crime.

Speculation abounds that Rick Gates, arrested by Robert Mueller in October in the Russia investigation, may be ready to agree to a plea deal. A new lawyer has joined his team, signaling that a guilty plea is about to be entered by Gates, in order to avoid expected additional indictments.

USA Today, the New York Times, and other news outlets reported that Special Counsel Robert Mueller interviewed Attorney General Jeff Sessions on January 17. The interview was reported to have lasted for "hours". It should be noted that Sessions is a target of the investigation, and the reports indicated that he refused to discuss his Mueller meeting with Trump.

"U.S. Ambassador to Panama John Feeley resigns after nearly 30 years of service, saying he can no longer serve Trump." – BNO News. The resignation is just part of the backlash after Trump's "Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?" comments directed at immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador, and African countries.

Banished White House adviser Steve Bannon has hired a personal attorney in anticipation of his upcoming testimony for the House Intelligence Committee, and an interview with Robert Mueller. Sources indicate Bannon has promised to fully cooperate with Mueller.

Senator Dianne Feinstein released to the public the Fusion GPS transcripts that Republicans tried to bury. The transcripts prove that when Christopher Steele went to the FBI, they already knew much of what he had, and his information corroborated what they had. Contrary to Republican propaganda, the FBI did not get all of their information from Steele.

Several sources, including the Associated Press and the L.A. Times, report that Trump ordered White House counsel Don McGahn to convince Attorney General Jeff Sessions not to recuse himself from the Russia investigation. It is yet another instance of Trump trying to interfere in the investigation – otherwise known as obstruction of justice, and abuse of power.

Vice-President Mike Pence's chief lawyer Mark Paoletta, and domestic policy director Daris Meeks have both resigned. Add these names to the fast-growing list of Trump administration people quitting or being fired – far more than in any previous administration. It should be noted that this is not usual business.

Trump is attempting to halt publication of Michael Wolff's 'Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House.' It should be noted that such an action violates the president's oath of office, and so is an impeachable offense.

Several sources report that former Trump legal spokesman Mark Corallo resigned in July 2017 because he believed that Trump had committed obstruction of justice in drafting a statement playing down the June 2016 meeting between Trump, Jr. Manafort, and Russians.

Paul Manafort violated his $11 million bail deal by ghost-writing an op-ed piece for a Russian writer with ties to Putin's intelligence services. Robert Mueller's team has petitioned the court to revoke the bail agreement, citing court rules that prevent defendants from publicly commenting in a way that could affect potential jurors should the case go to trial.

Trump transition team member K.T. McFarland appears to confirm that Russia "… has just thrown the election to him [Trump]." An e-mail she sent in December 2016 to another member of the team discussing Obama's Russia sanctions, includes that comment which will surely be used in Robert Mueller's investigation. 

On December 2, Trump incriminated himself along with Pence, when his tweet described his obstruction of justice in his claim that in February he fired Flynn because Flynn lied to the FBI. He later claimed that one of his lawyers, John Dowd, wrote the tweet. 

Michael Flynn has been arrested by Robert Mueller, and was charged with lying to the FBI. As mentioned previously, he is likely going to plead guilty to this as a lesser charge, in exchange for Mueller dropping more serious charges while he cooperates with the investigation and implicates 'bigger fish.'

Dan Rather's 'News and Guts' organization reports "new evidence of what appears to be the clearest case yet for obstruction of justice by Donald Trump." Evidence shows that Trump approached several high-ranking Republican Senators and asked them to help him end the Russia investigation.

Politico reports that Robert Mueller's team and Paul Manafort's lawyer have agree to an $11 million bail deal. Manafort has spent the past month under house arrest after his indictment as Mueller considered him a flight risk. This deal signifies that Manafort is now cooperating with the investigation, and that almost certainly means he knows he has two choices: go to jail for a long time, or start talking. Either way you look at it, it's an admission of guilt in the ongoing Russian interference and collusion investigation.

Michael Flynn's lawyer recently met with Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team of prosecutors. Such a meeting presents a strong probability that Flynn accepted a plea deal; that is, pleading guilty to lesser charges in exchange for testimony and evidence of wrongdoing by someone else. Let's be clear: Mueller would ONLY offer such a deal for Flynn to incriminate someone HIGHER up the 'food chain'. 

Another defection from the Trump White House: "ethics" lawyer James Schultz resigned during Thanksgiving week. 

TIME Magazine called out Trump on a blatant lie (reminiscent of the Boy Scout speech lie of several months ago). He claimed on Twitter that the magazine told him he "probably" would be named person of the year, and he declined. TIME tweeted that they did no such thing, and it does not work that way.

Several sources report that Michael Flynn's lawyers have stopped consulting with Trump's lawyers; a strong indication that Flynn is cooperating with Robert Mueller's investigation. It is likely this is happening at least in part, because Flynn is trying to make things easier for Flynn, Jr, who is also in the crosshairs.

It should also be noted that former CIA Director James Woolsey also attended the meeting at which Flynn was reported to have been offered $15 million by the Turkish government (Erdogan) to kidnap Fethullah Gülen (as mentioned below). Woolsey has been cooperating with Robert Mueller's investigation, and he alleges that the kidnap offer to Flynn is true.

With mounting evidence that Jared Kushner is heavily involved in Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential election, it now appears that he may soon be indicted for obstruction of justice. According to Newsweek, four sources confirmed that Kushner strongly advised Trump to fire FBI Director James Comey in order to stop the Russia investigation.

Trump is trying to shut down his highly questionable "charitable" organization. Trump Foundation officials in 2016 admitted in court documents that they were guilty of "self-dealing", or funneling foundation funds into their own pockets for personal use (including Trump). The problem, besides the scandals, is that the New York State Attorney General is not finished investigating, and they are legally barred from dissolving until Eric Schneiderman's office has completed their work.

Another Trump appointee has resigned. Department of Homeland Security official Jamie Johnson quit his position after a CNN story revealed that Johnson made anti-African American and anti-Muslim remarks on a radio show before his nomination to the DHS post.

Speculation runs high that Jared Kushner is destroying evidence in the Russia probe. He and his lawyers claim he has turned over to the Senate Judiciary Committee, everything he has. The Committee disagrees, indicating they think key documents and e-mails are missing. Considering the backpedaling and tap dancing around the truth by his brother-in-law, Donny, Jr. concerning his recently revealed contacts with Wikileaks and Putin banker Alexander Torshin, it is quite likely that Kushner has many things to hide.

Ivanka Trump and the Trump Organization have a vested interest in a building in Panama linked to money laundering, organized crime including reputed Russian mobsters, and drug trafficking. Reports indicate that she was the front person for the deal putting the family name on the Trump Ocean Club International Hotel and Tower in Panama City. Investigators and reporters determined that the Trump building in question, although completed years ago, is virtually empty – a prime example of suspected money laundering procedure.

Senate Judiciary Committee members determined that Jared Kushner received e-mails mentioning a "Russian backdoor overture and dinner invite," similar to messages received by Donald Trump, Jr., (confirmed by Junior) according to Politico. The Committee indicated that Kushner lied to them during testimony, saying he had no such contact. Lying to Congress is a crime.

Several sources reported on November 16 that Federal inmate Reza Zarrab, a Turkish/Iranian gold trader, may have flipped and is cooperating with Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller. Zarrab, also close to Turkish dictator Recep Erdogan, appears to have inside knowledge of the alleged $15 million payout from the Turkish government to Mike Flynn. The money was allegedly offered in exchange for Flynn, who would soon become National Security Adviser, to use his new position in the Trump government to kidnap and deliver to Erdogan Turkish cleric Fethullah Gülen, who had been Erdogan's main political rival.

Six U.S. Representatives on November 15 introduced five articles of impeachment against Trump. The articles include: obstruction of justice (related to impeding the Russia investigation), two violations of the emoluments clause, and one each for undermining the independence of the Federal judiciary, and freedom of the press. 

Brett J. Talley, a lawyer with zero qualifications and zero trial experience, was nominated by Trump to be a federal judge (a lifetime appointment). Talley failed to disclose that he is married to a White House lawyer – a witness in the Mueller/Russia investigation. Talley's failure to disclose is not only a conflict of interest, but it is witness tampering – rewarding the spouse of a hostile witness in a case against Trump.

The Atlantic reported on November 13 that Donald Trump, Jr. had received, responded to, and likely acted on, private messages from Wikileaks, founded and run by Julian Assange. The messages, turned over by Trump, Jr's lawyers to Congressional investigators, prove that there was correspondence between the Trumps and the organization widely believed to have worked with Russians to publish hacked information damaging to Hillary Clinton and Democrats (the DNC e-mails). 

Junior appears to have, on several occasions, followed the Wikileaks suggestions, often leading to highly questionable and illegal behavior. He also shared the Wikileaks messages with Steve Bannon, Kellyanne Conway, and Jared Kushner, making them complicit. It should also be noted that Trump, Jr. did not do the right thing, which would have been to contact the FBI.

It now seems obvious that Stephen Miller, head White House Nazi, was the 'senior policy adviser' named by convicted felon George Papadopoulos in his statements to Robert Mueller and the court where he pleaded guilty. That means that Miller knew about the proposed meetings, and therefore, so did Trump.

Several sources are reporting on the high likelihood that Mike Flynn, who resigned in February as National Security Adviser, will soon be indicted by Mueller. Flynn appears to be angling for a Presidential pardon though – a move that although might prevent Mueller from prosecuting Flynn, would serve to prove his guilt, AND would contribute strongly to Mueller's obstruction of justice case against Trump.

Corey Lewandowski, Trump campaign manager until June 2016 (before Manafort), suddenly recalls that (a) he really does know Carter Page, after insisting he didn’t, (b) he DID give Page permission to go to Russia, after insisting he didn’t, and (c) obviously, that means he DID know that Page went to Russia to meet with Putin people, after insisting he didn’t know.

Natalia Veselnitskaya, Russian lawyer with Kremlin ties, says Donald Trump, Jr. told her in a meeting on June 9, 2016, that if his father was elected President, he would consider changing an anti-Russian law in exchange for "dirt" on Hillary Clinton. Jared Kushner and the already indicted Paul Manafort also attended that meeting.

Carter Page, Trump campaign adviser, testifying on November 6 before the House Intelligence Committee, said he met during the campaign with members of Putin's administration, as well as members of Russian state owned oil company Rosneft. 

Page told the committee that Trump's campaign agreed to change the GOP Party platform in favor of Russian interests, and "agreed to sideline the issue of Russia's invasion of Crimea and interference in eastern Ukraine in exchange for dirt on Hillary Clinton." Page implicated Sam Clovis, and his testimony also supported parts of the so-called 'Steele Dossier.'

Wilbur Ross, Trump's Secretary of Commerce, lied and hid his profiting from his business ties to Russia and Putin.

Sam Clovis withdrew his name as Trump's nominee for the USDA chief scientist job. Not because he isn't a scientist. He withdrew because he was George Papadopoulos' supervisor during the 2016 Trump campaign, and is up to his eyeballs in collusion with Russia that Papadopoulos was convicted for.

Several sources report that Mueller has at least four more sealed indictments entered on the Federal Court docket.

George Papadopoulos, another Trump advisor, pleaded guilty to charges that he lied to the FBI regarding contacts with a professor who had Kremlin ties. He admitted that Russians offered him "dirt" on Hillary Clinton – thousands of hacked e-mails, i.e. admitted to collusion with Russians while working for the Trump campaign.

Paul Manafort, Trump campaign chairman and advisor, along with Manafort's associate Rick Gates were both indicted on October 30. The twelve charges include money laundering (which alone, if convicted, could send them to prison for decades,) conspiracy to defraud the U.S, tax evasion, among others.

Several weeks after Whitefish Energy was awarded the questionable Puerto Rican contract, the island's governor, Ricardo A. Rosselló, took steps to cancel, after FEMA criticized the deal.

News reports indicate that Special Counsel Robert Mueller and a Grand Jury have issued at least one indictment in the Russia investigation.

Republicans claim that Hillary Clinton and Democrats colluded with Russia to help Trump be elected, completely ignoring the abject stupidity of the accusation.

Trump claims the generals are responsible for the failed operation in Niger that resulted in the death of four American soldiers. He insists he did not order the op, and the military insists they were refused support.

Republican Senator Jeff Flake slams Trump, saying, "I have children and grandchildren to answer to, and so, Mr. President, I will not be complicit..."

Whitefish Energy, a two-person company linked to Interior Secretary Zinke, receives a highly questionable $300 million contract to restore power in Puerto Rico. Their contract "prohibits the government from reviewing labor costs or profits related to the company's relief efforts…"

Republican Senator Bob Corker slams Trump, saying he would not support him.

Trump fails to provide adequate relief efforts in Puerto Rico.

Trump claims he fired FBI Directory James Comey because he alleges that Comey "totally protected Clinton", contradicting his previous claim that he fired Comey because he was unfair to Clinton, and in turn contradicting his television statement that he fired Comey to stop the Russian investigation.

Health & Human Services Secretary Thomas Price resigns after a scandal in which he used taxpayer money to improperly rent high-priced private planes.

Facebook's Zuckerberg admits his company sold ads to Russian companies that made anti-Clinton, pro-Trump posts and ads.

Former White House press secretary Sean Spicer hires a lawyer because he is being investigated by Mueller.

WH Communications Director Hope Hicks, former WH Chief of Staff Priebus, and WH counsel Donald McGahn all hire lawyers to advise them for the Mueller investigation.

Trump's Department of Justice proves that he lied and had zero evidence in his ridiculous claim that President Obama wiretapped him in Trump Tower.

White House chief strategist Bannon fired.

Anthony Scaramucci fired ten days after taking job as White House communications director.

Trump lies about call from Boy Scouts (they did NOT call him to tell him it was a great speech.)

Ivanka Trump hires a criminal defense attorney.

White House chief of staff Reince Priebus fired.

Mark Corallo, Marc Kasowitz, both of Trump's legal team, and Sean Spicer, Press Secretary, all resign within 24 hours of each other.

Formal articles of impeachment against Trump, filed in the U.S. House by Rep. Brad Sherman.

Donald Trump, Jr., after lying about a meeting, admits he attended to receive negative information from Russian lawyer about Hillary Clinton. Soon after, Trump, Jr. hires a personal attorney.

Kushner and Manafort were both at that meeting. Both also lied about being there. Reminder that Kushner's failure to list this meeting on security clearance form SF86, is grounds for perjury charge.

The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights will launch an investigation of the Trump administration, citing "grave concerns".

Pence hires a personal attorney.

Trump hires a personal attorney.

DC and Maryland AGs sue Trump for violating the Emoluments Clause of the US Constitution.

Oleg Deripaska (Russian billionaire, Putin ally, Manafort associate) seeks immunity in exchange for testimony to Congress.

Chaffetz resigned on June 30.

Trump tries to get DNI Dan Coats and NSA director Mike Rogers to publicly deny evidence of Russian collusion.

Trump reveals classified information in a White House meeting with Russian FM and ambassador.

Trump admits in TV interview that he fired Comey because the fired FBI director led the investigation against him, and refused to pledge loyalty to the President.

Trump fires Sally Yates, Preet Bharara, and James Comey – all three were investigating him.

Senator Richard Burr (member of Trump transition team, obstructing Senate investigation).

Jason Chaffetz (will not seek re-election, under FBI investigation).

Devin Nunes (recused, helped Trump created fake scandal about Susan Rice).

Erik Prince (Betsy Devos' brother, under FBI investigation).

Roger Stone (Trump advisor admitted to contacts with Russian hackers).

Trump (under FBI & NYS AG investigation, RICO).

Carter Page (subject of FBI FISA warrant, will likely seek immunity).

Trump (falsely accused a former POTUS of a crime without evidence).

Jared Kushner (lied on federal documents to receive security clearance).

Paul Manafort (resigned, under FBI investigation).

Mike Flynn (resigned/fired, seeking immunity, under FBI investigation).

Jeff Sessions (recused from Russian investigation, repeatedly lied under oath to Congress).

Steve Bannon (removed from NSC, lesser role at WH).

** We'll update this list as more corruption is revealed**

Larry Manch is an author, teacher, guitar player, freelance writer, and columnist. His books include: 'Twisted Logic: 50 Edgy Flash Fiction Stories', 'The Toughest Hundred Dollars & Other Rock & Roll Stories', 'A Sports Junkie', 'The Avery Appointment', 'Between the Fuzzy Parts'. His books are available in paperback and e-book.

He also writes about sports for Season Tickets, food and travel on Miles & Meals, and music/guitars on The Backbeat.

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