Nel's New Day

July 7, 2021

Political Grifting, Disasters from Florida, NYC

Two weeks ago, 55 units of a 40-year-old condo building outside Surfside (FL) collapsed. Since then, 46 people have been discovered dead, 94 are still missing, and the remainder of the 12-story building—another 91 more units–were demolished late Sunday evening without residents permitted to get their belongings because of the oncoming Elsa Hurricane. Today the rescue process moved to search-and-recovery with no hope of finding any victims still alive, Work continues 24 hours a day, seven a days a week, despite the heavy winds. Florida is auditing its condominium complexes, and one in North Miami has been evacuated. Residents of Champlain Towers North, built at the same time as the collapsed condos by the same developer, have been offered alternative housing.

Gov. Ron DeSantis denied asking Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) to call off his speech in Saratoga (FL) although DeSantis did not attend and DDT did not mention his name. DDT called for a moment of silence for the people who died in the condo collapse but focused his speech on familiar grievances about a stolen election. He found new fuel after the indictment of the Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg as he tried to justify fraudulently untaxed payments. Calling himself the “king of tax,” DDT concluded his rants by pretending ignorance about tax law.

“I don’t even know. Do you have to… does anybody know the answer to that stuff? Okay? But they indict people for that!”

Five years ago, DDT bragged:

“I think nobody knows more about taxes than I do, maybe in the history of the world… I understand the tax laws better than almost anyone.”

This wasn’t a one-off statement. A few of his other claims:

“By the way, just so you know, I know more formulas, I know more about tax abatements, I know more about taxes than any human being that God ever created.”

“I know every form of tax—believe me—from the [value-added taxes] to the fair tax to—every single form of tax.”

“Look, nobody knows the tax code better than I do. Okay? I know it better. I’m the king of the tax code.”

 “Nobody knows more about taxes than I do—and income than I do.”

“I understand the tax laws better than almost anyone, which is why I’m the one who can truly fix them.”

“I know how the tax code works better than anyone, and I am going to fix it so it is fair, and just, and works for you and your family.”

“My understanding of the tax code gave me a tremendous advantage over those who didn’t have a clue about it, including many of my competitors, who lost everything they had, never to be heard from again — never — they were never heard from again.”

DDT did himself no favors in telling the crowd that he had committed the crimes just as his son, Don Jr, implicated DDT on Fox network:

“They say he didn’t pay taxes on $1.7 million worth of stuff over 16 years. So that’s to New York state 8% of that, $136,000. Half of that was because my father paid for his grandchildren’s school in New York City, so you take that out. It amounts to about five grand a month.”

Former federal prosecutor and MSNBC legal analyst commented on these statements:

“Somewhere, a defense lawyer is beating his head into a brick wall, over and over.”

No one is able to tell DDT the golden rule of being under indictment: shut up. DDT is doing exactly what defense attorneys hate–saying things in public that can be used against him in court. He admitted to the crowd that he carried out these illegal activities and tried to convince people he didn’t know they were illegal.

Not only does DDT brag about breaking the law, but the Trump Organization also kept spreadsheets on all the untaxed amounts. In addition, the business “reduced the amount of direct compensation that Weisselberg received in the form of checks or direct deposits to account for the indirect compensation that he received in the form of payments of rent, utility bills, and garage expenses,” according to the indictment.

The defense for the Trump Organization may minimize its crimes as just a “fringe benefits” case, but the charges are much more than that. According to tax expert David Shaviro, the indictment shows a far higher level of crime

A fraud case with double books, false ones for tax authorities and concealed accurate ones for how much employees were actually paid.

A federal income tax fraud case as well as state and local income tax including through a “conspiracy” with multiple “overt acts” and the commission of “grand larceny” such that the IRS could also indict the defendants.

Weisselberg received $940,000 annually from 2011 to 2018, a base salary of $540,000 and a bonus of $400,000. That was identified on the concealed accounts, but anything he received that was not identified except on the accurate records was then subtracted from this amount for the purposes of federal records such as W-2s and 1099s. Even in the company’s “accurate” records, Weisselberg hid his benefits that were not shown in the ledgers available for tax inspection, directing the removal of “Per Allen Weisselberg” relating to tuition payments paid to a private school for his family members’ tuition payments. Even if an apartment and a car for the convenience of work might be excluded from Weisselberg’s salary, these items aren’t exempt from taxation. Other nonquestionable scams:

  • Private school tuition expenses for Weisselberg’s family members. (Tuition is a permitted “fringe benefit” only if it is available for a class of employees—not just one.)
  • A Mercedes Benz automobile that was the personal car of Weisselberg’s wife.
  • Unreported cash that Weisselberg could use to pay personal holiday gratuities.
  • Personal expenses for Weisselberg’s other homes and an apartment maintained by one of his children including such items as new beds, flat-screen televisions, the installation of carpeting, and furniture for his home in Florida.
  • Rent-free lodging and other benefits to a family member of Weisselberg.

The $400,000 bonus was also fraudulently mischaracterized as a non-employee compensation on Form 1099 instead of the W-2 for salary to use for deductible annual contributions to a tax-deferred pension plan. This Keogh plan is for self-employment income, not employee wages. To hide the fraud, these payments were made by Trump Organizations entities not employing Weisselberg such as the Mar-a-Lago Club and Wollman Rink Operations. He created a false paper trail for businesses for which he did not perform services. In another act of fraud, Weisselberg hid his New York City residency from 2005 through 2013 although he “spent most of his days each year” there as well as keeping an apartment in the city. 

DDT took a direct part in the fraud by signing personal checks from his own account for tuition expenses. He was also instrumental in leasing the apartment “on Weisselberg’s behalf.”

Barbara Res, a former Trump Organization executive who worked with DDT during the Trump Tower construction in the 1980s, described his history of tax fraud using non-salary compensation benefits. She stated DDT employed some executives as independent contractors so he could avoid his share of payroll taxes and the employee could reduce his income by deductions impossible on salary.

She explained the reason for avoiding taxes on $1.76 million paid Weisselberg in over a decade—a small amount for the huge Trump Organization. DDT cheats at everything because of his sense of entitlement. She said about DDT:

“As far as he was concerned, he could get away with anything… The man’s M.O. was bending and breaking the rules for maximum profit and advantage.”

Another reason for DDT’s fraud was to guarantee Weisselberg’s loyalty. Giving jobs to an employee’s children guarantees the employee won’t go against DDT for fear that the children will lose their jobs. DDT paid for jobs for two of Weisselberg’s children, one for himself and the other with a prestigious company as well as leasing an expensive apartment for one of them. The Weisselbergs were bound to DDT by complicity in breaking the law, perhaps the reason Weisselberg hasn’t flipped on DDT—yet.

Res believes that DDT made the decisions for all the company’s fraud. “He was always in charge,” she wrote. He denied knowing the workers doing the demolition for Trump Tower, most of them undocumented immigrants, were not paid, but, according to Res, “In fact, he had a man on the job watching everything that happened and reporting it back to Trump, every day. Trump knew exactly what was going on.” DDT wasn’t charged for the crimes.

Conservatives, comfortable with DDT’s crimes, call the crimes “political.” The left believe the 15 counts–scheme to defraud, conspiracy, criminal tax fraud, conspiracy, grand larceny, offering a false instrument, falsifying of business records, etc.—are crimes and may be just the tip of the iceberg in criminal charges.  

DDT loves being in court when he’s filing the lawsuits, over 4,000 in the past 30 years. His latest targets are Facebook, YouTube’s owner Google, and Twitter for their decisions to “cancel” him. Once again, the cases are amateurish, but he’s using them for fundraising. Plus he made his announcement at his Bedminister resort with faked columns and a purchased seal to create the appearance of the White House Rose Garden. Once again, DDT uses his lies for grifting poor people. 

May 6, 2021

Giuliani’s Disaster; Update on Arizona’s ‘Fraudit’

While Republicans fight about loyalty tests regarding lies about a stolen presidential election, Rudy Giuliani, former personal lawyer for Deposed Dictator Trump (DDT), faces more legal problems after the FBI seized his electronic equipment from his apartment and office. As DDT’s loyal defender, Giuliani allegedly committed criminal acts in Ukraine in trying to derail Joe Biden’s presidential campaign by smearing his son, Hunter Biden.

The probe evolved from arrests of former Giuliani business partners Lev Parnas and Igor Furman who were indicted on four counts of conspiracy regarding foreign donations in elections and lying to the Federal Election Commission. Warrants are investigating Giuliani’s role in the 2019 firing of Marie Yovanovitch, DDT’s former ambassador to Ukraine, at DDT’s request. She then testified in DDT’s first impeachment trial. Her insistence on following government protocol in meetings between Ukrainian and U.S. law enforcement officials stood in the way Giuliani finding disinformation on the Bidens.

At least one of the search warrants for Giuliani’s devices specifically stated that investigated crimes included violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act. Charges could result from proof that Giuliani tried to influence foreign policy for his associates’ interests. Another FBI warrant was for the phone of Victoria Toensing, a lawyer and collaborator of Giuliani in his Ukrainian investigations. If Giuliani solely represented DDT and didn’t work for Ukraine, he might not have broken the law. 

One warrant searching for ties between Giuliani and Ukrainian officials specified former president Petro Poroshenko and former top prosecutor, Yuriy Lutsenko, regarding hundreds of thousands of dollars in consulting fees to “Giuliani Partners,” supposedly to recover Ukrainian assets. Giuliani had asked Lutsenko to inquire into Hunter Biden when he was on the board of a Ukrainian energy company and wanted help from Ukrainian oligarch Dmitry Firtash, under indictment in the United States and represented by Toensing.

Giuliani now says he’s innocent of any wrongdoing, but two years ago, he bragged about how he ran a foreign operation against Yovanovitch. He had support from corrupt Ukrainian officials because of Yovanovitch’s anti-corruption policy.

In December 2019, Giuliani traveled to the Ukrainian capital Kyiv to meet with a lawmaker called “an active Russian agent” who was sanctioned for running an “influence campaign” against Biden. That operation involved other Ukrainian officials and political consultants acting as Russian proxies to block U.S. support for Ukraine as well as smearing Biden. The conservative One America News accompanied Giuliani on his trip to Ukraine and made a documentary of the events of unproved allegations about Hunter and Joe Biden by Ukrainian officials. After Giuliani’s visit to Kyiv, the U.S. sanctioned Andriy Derkach for being the Russian agent “for over a decade” and maintaining “close connections with Russian intelligence services.” 

Russians gave Giuliani false information to politically hurt Joe Biden. The FBI planned to warn Giuliani and alert congressional members such as Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) and OAN how they were being used in Russia’s plan to influence the election’s outcome but never briefed Giuliani. The FBI also warned the White House about Giuliani being a target of false Russian propaganda and his ties to people connected to Russian intelligence. Then-national security adviser Robert C. O’Brien cautioned DDT about the contamination of Giuliani’s information from Ukraine. Yet Giuliani again met with Derkach in New York in early 2020 when Derkach spread lies about U.S. funds to Ukraine either misused or missing during Biden’s vice-presidency when interviewed by Giuliani on a podcast.

Last summer, the FBI briefed Johnson about the Russian actions. Johnson said he felt the cautionary message had no substance, that it was a “defensive briefing” on his statements, all negative, about Biden family’s foreign business ventures. He said he thought the briefing was “to offer the biased media an opportunity to falsely accuse me of being a tool of Russia despite warnings.” Also warned, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) told the FBI it wasn’t their place to tell lawmakers what to investigate. GOP senators’ investigations haven’t found any affect of Hunter Biden’s board membership on U.S. foreign policy.  

Since Biden’s victory, the National Intelligence Council, part of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, reported on Russia’s attempt to influence the 2020 election by Derkach spreading disinformation about Biden among people close to DDT. Officials confirmed one of them was Giuliani. Russia’s false narrative alleged corrupt ties dating back to at least 2014 between Bidens and Ukraine. Johnson claimed he’s never talked with Derkach, but he met with former Ukrainian diplomat Andriy Telizhenko who passed along the lie that Ukraine instead of Russia interfered in the 2016 U.S. election. Telizhenko also met several times with Giuliani, appeared on his podcast, and facilitated Giuliani’s December 2019 trip to Ukraine. Johnson claimed Telizhenko’s information was accurate, but at the end of DDT’s administration the Treasury Department sanctioned Telizhenko for attempting to influence the 2020 election.

Suffering from burgeoning legal bills, Giuliani considers tapping DDT’s campaign war chest of $250 million with charges for his work in overturning the 2020 election in DDT’s favor. Beyond the FBI searches of the lawyer’s electronic devices, he faces defamation suits by two voting machine companies. One of Giuliani’s defenders, former NYPD commissioner Bernard Kerik, called for DDT to pay Giuliani because he “worked for the campaign and the RNC and … should be compensated instead of being ignored.” An RNC spokesperson said, “Rudy Giuliani has never worked for the RNC and he has never acted at our direction.” DDT made no comment. Convicted for taking unreported bribes, Kerik was pardoned by DDT two days before Joe Biden’s inauguration.

Being close to either DDT or Giuliani may not be safe. DDT faces 29 lawsuits and three investigations while the Manhattan DA, working to flip the Trump Organization employee knowing about all its affairs, has DDT’s tax returns. Raids on Giuliani’s apartment and office leave DDT’s allies “feeling uneasy about what could come next.” People question whether Giuliani will turn on DDT and his family, as Michael Cohen, DDT’s former fixer, maintains. At the age of 76, Giuliani won’t like prison, and former AG Bill Barr is no longer in the DOJ to protect him. DDT no longer has any power to pardon Giuliani. According to Cohen, Giuliani developed the same tactics now used against him when he led the Southern District 30 years ago to use against others.

Before DDT left the White House, his DOJ delayed search warrants for Giuliani’s electronic records requested by New York federal prosecutors. Senior officials claimed it was too close to the election, but in late October 2016, 11 days before the election, then-FBI director James Comey announced he was reopening an investigation about Hillary Clinton’s emails as Secretary of State. His action may have caused her to lose the 2016 election to DDT. Political employees at the DOJ still refused to sign off on warrants for Giuliani after the election, claiming that he and DDT were still trying to overturn election results in several states. Career DOJ officials believed enough evidence of a crime existed to issue the warrant.  

Part of the evidence may have been a transcript from a 40-minute telephone call when Giuliani pressured Ukraine to investigate the Biden family, reminiscent of the DDT’s telephone call leading to his first impeachment. The call to two Volodymyr Zelensky aides came on July 22, 2019, three days before DDT’s call to Zelensky himself. One of the officials sent the transcript to Time magazine to repair Ukraine’s relationship with the Biden administration. Before Biden’s inauguration, Zelensky closed three Ukrainian media networks accused of spreading Russian disinformation about the Bidens during the U.S. presidential campaign.

During the series of trials before Biden’s inauguration when Giuliani kept trying to overturn Biden’s election, he was supposedly charging $20,000 a day, but DDT refused to pay as he became angrier with Giuliani’s failures. DDT wouldn’t even take Giuliani’s calls. Ken Frydman, Giuliani’s press secretary during the 1990s, commented:

“Lay down with dogs. Wake up with fleas and without $20,000 a day.”

Giuliani also shares part of DDT’s blame for inciting violence on January 6 when he called for “trial by combat.” He also faces a disbarment complaint in New York. And he didn’t get a pardon.

Last year, Giuliani’s payroll company received between $150,000 and $350,000 in taxpayer funds in the stimulus law’s PPP to save employees. The company, which lists Giuliani as CEO, has no employees and didn’t save any jobs. The money was given by DDT’s “go-to” bank, Signature.

Stories about the Arizona ballot-counting fraudit keep dribbling out despite the requirement that observers sign a non-disclosure agreement. (They observe to maintain integrity but can’t tell anyone if integrity is violated.) Because of the QAnon conspiracy theory about Southeast Asia delivering 40,000 ballots to swing the election to Biden, the team is now searching for bamboo in the paper’s fiber. Ballots are left unattended on counting tables, and laptop computers—open, unlocked, and unmonitored, sit abandoned. A court has ordered independent oversight, security for voter information, and publicize audit policies and procedures. About ten percent of the ballots have been counted in the first two weeks, and the fraudit has to leave the coliseum by May 14. Now that the integrity of the ballot count is completely compromised, the DOJ expressed concerns about all the problems—way past time. More specifics about the craziness.

December 18, 2020

DDT Abandons U.S.: Cyber Espionage, Virus Vaccine

The hacking intrusion into U.S. federal agencies has expanded to the Energy Department and the National Nuclear Security Administration, added to breaches at the State, Treasury, Commerce and Homeland Security departments along with the National Institutes of Health. Other areas are electrical grid and telecommunications companies. Tracking shows the entry through a think tank’s email service by Russians although Russia denies doing it. The thousands of affected private companies, some in sensitive industries, had uploaded software patches with malware by Russia’s foreign intelligence service, SVR, which collected and deployed authentic system credentials. Purging hacks and restoring security in deeply penetrated networks can take months. The Defense Department’s IT nerve center, DISA, may also be compromised although the network shows “no evidence of compromise.”

President-elect Joe Biden said he is working to learn about the breaches and will work with allies to put costs on the responsible parties.

Microsoft, a customer of the problematic SolarWinds infecting thousands of private and public entities, has identified 40 infiltrated companies, government agencies, and think tanks—almost half of them private technology firms and many in the security industry. President Brad Smith said “that number should rise substantially.” SolarWinds may not be the only source of infection; foreign spies may use other infected software for access.

(Photo by Al Drago/Getty Images)

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) has remained silent about the hacking, and heads of most agencies connected to the event—Defense, State, Justice, national intelligence director, and CIA—were not present at his Cabinet meeting on Wednesday. No formal intelligence briefing has been scheduled at the White House since early October. The government did not admit the ongoing cyber espionage until Wednesday night. Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) said it was “stunning” to have no response from DDT. In 2017, DDT had announced a possible joint Cyber Security unit with Russia. Under DDT, Cabinet meetings have focused on his personal bragging, criticisms, and solicitations of praise from participants as a showcase for the press. Since he was inaugurated, DDT has had 25 Cabinet meetings, an average of one every eight weeks. The one on Wednesday may be his last one.

In the conservative Bulwark, Jonathan Last wrote:

“In 45 tweets this week (so far) the president has not said a single word about the record deaths from COVID. Or economic stimulus. Or the Russian hack. Not. One. Word. Instead, it is an endless litany of complaints, self-aggrandizement, and conspiracy theorizing.

“We have never seen a dereliction of duty at this scale from an American president. With citizens dying by the thousands every single day and the federal government being raided by the intelligence services belonging to his good friend, he pouts and rages and tweets and tries to overturn a free and fair election in order to break our democratic republic.

“There is no precedent for this. No historical analog to help us understand the scale of destruction and the level of irresponsibility, stupidity, and derangement.

“At least not in American history.”

Dutch prosecutors claim a security researcher hacked DDT’s Twitter account that uses the “password maga2020!” The White House and Twitter deny the possibility of the October event. DDT has admitted at least one breach of his personal Twitter account. Russia’s president Vladimir Putin may feel secure about attacking the U.S. cyber infrastructure because DDT never fights back against him; DDT even fired the three top officials of the agency to protect the U.S. against cyber espionage.

While DDT ponders a permanent residence in the White House, VP Mike Pence, who has no home outside public housing, plans to skip town for a while after he performs his duty of replacing DDT and himself on January 6. The purported trip includes Poland, Bahrain, and Israel—a favorite spot for evangelicals.

About the COVID-19 vaccine, there’s good and bad news. The good news is that a second vaccine, one from Moderna, has passed a panel almost unanimously with only one abstention. FDA will most likely give it emergency authorization in the next few days. The second vaccine has advantages over the first one because it can be stored at a higher temperature for a longer period of time.

The bad news comes from the lack of vaccine shipments because the government hasn’t given any directions. States have been notified of drastic cuts in numbers of dosages for next week, not from production issues but from lack of shipment instructions. Again, DDT seems unable to negotiate the vaccine doses to be distributed across the nation. For example, Illinois’ allotment is cut in half, and Florida’s shipments are “on hold” after its allocation disappeared in the federal online tracking system used to coordinate vaccine distribution. Washington is receiving 40 percent less than the state had been told. Pfizer cannot understand why the administration doesn’t immediately distribute all the vaccine being produced. The number of doses had already been dropped by at least 75 percent before the latest glitch. Although vials with the vaccine may contain more than the promised five doses, the companion kits shipped by the government lack spare syringes for the excess. 

In another CDC problem, its text message program to track side effects of the vaccine uses only English. The v-safe program to follow up with people given the vaccine will have a Spanish version “fairly shortly,” but CDC has no timeline for a translation or for simplified Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese. Fact sheets for the first set of healthcare workers are still only in English. Non-English speakers are traditionally underserved by the health care system, and the lack of language-appropriate materials makes the situation worse.

Biden had said the government lacked specific distribution plans. HHS Secretary disagreed, saying, “That’s just nonsense.” Biden was correct.

Almost all states plan to immediately use the vaccine, but Tennessee plans to store (hoard?) 5,000 doses of Moderna, 5 percent of its allotment, “in case of spoilage” despite a federal backup supply for that purpose. State health officials maintain they want to be more equitable by waiting for larger number of doses to ensure no one is favored. Tennessee ranks second in the nation for new cases per capita and has no mask mandate.

DDT tweeted, “get your vaccine everyone,” but the quantity of vaccine is currently sufficient for under ten percent of the population. There is also no public information program. People are already being vaccinated, but DDT’s administration is still developing its $250 million campaign to persuade people to take part. HHS’ Michael Caputo plan went off the rails after he investigated if the participating celebrities supported DDT with contractors investigating confirmed or suspected political leanings. Caputo went on medical leave for three months with no replacement.

A PR campaign may be difficult because of DDT’s attitude about the coronavirus. A Houston critical care doctor at the United Memorial Medical Center reported that over half the nurses in his unit refuse to take the vaccine for political reasons.

HHS science adviser Paul Alexander, who has no science expertise, wrote his supervisor Michael Caputo on July 4, “We want them infected.” He wanted to expose all young people and middle-aged adults with no conditions to COVID-19 to develop the mythical “herd immunity.” Alexander repeated his appeal later in July to others, including FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn and eight other senior officials. A few days later, Alexander recommended leaving colleges open to infect students and sent his “herd immunity” request to CDC Director Robert Redfield, probably with DDT’s approval.

Senior DDT officials, including HHS Secretary Alex Azar, and DDT’s press secretary Kayleigh McEnany frequently denied DDT supported herd immunity while he spoke positively about it since Dr. Scott Atlas edged Dr. Anthony Fauci off the White House coronavirus task force. Alexander was forced out of the HHS. Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-SC), the coronavirus subcommittee chair, said the documents “show a pernicious pattern of political interference by Administration officials.” He added:

“As the virus spread through the country, these officials callously wrote, ‘who cares’ and ‘we want them infected. They privately admitted they ‘always knew’ the President’s policies would cause a ‘rise’ in cases, and they plotted to blame the spread of the virus on career scientists.”

Alexander’s July 3 email to HHS top communications officials:

“So the bottom line is if it is more infectiouness [sic] now, the issue is who caresIf it is causing more cases in young, my word is who cares…as long as we make sensible decisions, and protect the elderely [sic] and nursing homes…”

Kyle McGowan, DDT’s former CDC chief of staff who left last summer, talked about how DDT watered down CDC’s agency and delayed the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports. He said it will “take years to undo” the damage from DDT’s administration. In addition to Alexander’s demand to get rid of evidence, the anti-science White House suffocated CDC’s voice, meddled in its messages, and siphoned off its budget. Kellyanne Conway changed guidelines on choirs and communion in faith communities, and Ivanka Trump revised guidelines on schools. McGowan said:

“Every time that the science clashed with the messaging, messaging won.”

Fox’s Tucker Carlson declared the U.S. had no Thanksgiving surge in COVID-19 cases after people ignored guidelines with travel, large gatherings, no masks, and lack of social distancing. Check out the growing daily numbers, Mr. Carlson: December 17, 2020 – 231,269 infections and 3,278 deaths. At this rate, the current total of 17,627,070 cases will hit 20 million before the end of the year, and the number of deaths of 317,929 (probably far more) will climb to 350,000 by the new year.

Thirty-three more days until Joe Biden’s inauguration.


December 9, 2019

DDT’s Corruption: At Home, Abroad

Yesterday, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) excitedly tweeted about the upcoming release of a report about an investigation into the origins of an FBI investigation into members of DDT’s 2016 campaign. “I.G. report out tomorrow. That will be the big story!” DDT wrote.

Monday, after almost two years of investigating, DOJ inspector general Michael Horowitz completed and released its 434-page report about the FBI’s opening investigations into George Papadopoulos, Michael Flynn, Paul Manafort and Carter Page had an “authorized purpose.” It was a bust for DDT when Horowitz concluded:

“We did not find documentary or testimonial evidence that political bias or improper motivation influenced the decisions to open the four individual investigations.”

The report criticized aspects of the FBI’s handling of the investigation but did not conclude that the bureau’s applications to monitor Page should have been rejected. Horowitz found that a tip from the Australian government was sufficient “to predicate the opening of the Crossfire Hurricane investigation.” Disappointed, Fox & Friends canceled an interview with former FBI director James Comey after the report’s release.

With no evidence, AG William P. Barr disagreed with a report key conclusion, stating the FBI started its investigation “on the thinnest of suspicions … insufficient to justify the steps taken.” Assigned by Barr to find supporting information for Barr’s opinion, U.S. attorney for Connecticut, John Durham, said he does “not agree with some of the report’s conclusions,” an unethical move because he has not finished his investigation. Four days ago, Durham said he found no evidence that U.S. intelligence agencies planted spies in DDT’s campaign. Durham and Barr visited foreign leaders to find support for their position that the FBI should not have opened its investigation into connections between DDT’s campaign and Russia.  

In another attempt to protect DDT, Barr’s DOJ argued on Monday that the emoluments clause doesn’t block DDT from accepting payments from foreign governments although the clause states that “no person holding any office of profit or trust under them, shall, without the consent of the Congress, accept of any present, emolument, office, or title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.” The lawyer claimed that Congress should have banned these emoluments—despite the U.S. Constitution. Judge David S. Tatel, one of three judges presiding over the hearing, told the DOJ lawyer that Congress doesn’t have information about DDT’s emoluments because DDT refuses to release his tax returns.

Monday, a Washington Post story about the 18+ year war with Afghanistan also rose to the top of the media that described research from the Office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), a federal agency with the goal of eliminating corruption and inefficiency in the U.S. war effort. Hundreds of confidential interviews and 2,000 pages of documents describe obfuscation about a war that cost $1 trillion and killed over 2,300 military members as well as tens of thousands of Afghan civilians. The article explains that U.S. officials altered statistics to “present the best picture possible” in the war, which began on October 7, 2001, through vague aims and inflated successes. Following administrations ignored the Afghan officials’ corruption and theft of U.S. aid. Sixty-two people interviewed were identified; the other 366 were treated as whistleblowers and informants.

Documents include previously classified memos dictated by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld between 2001 and 2006. Rumsfeld released some memos in 2011, and others of the remaining secret 59,000 pages came out in 2017 after a FOIA lawsuit. The U.S. invasion of Afghanistan began with retaliation against al-Qaeda after the 9/11 attacks on the U.S. and deteriorated into loss of direction about the identity of enemy groups that the U.S. never decided. U.S. troops couldn’t identify between friends and enemies.

From 2009 to 2012, lawmakers and military commanders thought that excessive money for civil works would improve security, money that aid workers compared to pouring gas on a dying campfire to keep the fire burning. One USAID executive said the 90 percent of expenditures was overkill. A contractor was told to give out $3 million daily in an area about the size of a U.S. county, leading to corruption. The war cost between $934 billion and $978 billion doesn’t include money required by agencies like the CIA and VA medical care. Afghan commanders pocketed money for tens of thousands of “ghost soldiers.” No one believed that Afghan army and police could protect themselves from the Taliban. Over 60,000 members of Afghan security forces have been killed.

The media also shows the failures of DDT the “Dealmaker” around the world:

Israel/Palestine: DDT said peace was easy before he said that no one could broker peace between the two countries if Jared Kushner couldn’t. Peace became even more impossible after DDT gave Palestinian land to Israel.  

North Korea: DDT threatening Kim Jong-Un and, after smearing the UN for years, called a UN meeting about the country’s weapons escalation. Kim stated NK conducted a “very important test” at a formerly dismantled rocket launch site, and a NK official called DDT “an erratic old man.” North Korea’s envoy to the UN vowed that “denuclearization” is off the table.

China: Next week, more tariffs on $160 billion worth of Chinese goods go into effect unless DDT changes his mind. Every few days, DDT claims a trade deal is “close,” pushing the stock market up, before he immediately reverses his position, and the stock market plummets. According to DDT, trade wars are “good, and easy to win.” China expressed frustration because it believes that the U.S. is infringing on its sovereign affairs and ordered all foreign computer equipment and software—such as HP, Dell and Microsoft—be removed from government offices and public institutions within three years.

Hong Kong: Protesters are still marching for democracy which puts DDT in the middle between the marchers and the Chinese. 

Middle East: DDT is covering for a Saudi gunman who killed three people while he was in training at a naval base in Pensacola (FL). Some of DDT’s base consider the attack terrorism and want to call off the training program that allowed the killer into the U.S. DDT sounded like a PR representative in his defense of Saudi Arabia after the shooting. Former Republican Max Boot wrote:   

“President Trump has long held a double standard when it comes to terrorist attacks: When the perpetrator is a white supremacist, he offers anodyne expressions of sympathy for the victims (often ‘thoughts and prayers’), while typically failing to label the attack an act of terrorism. When the perpetrator is a Muslim, however, he is vitriolic in his denunciations and his calls for a massive response, such as stopping all Muslims from entering the United States. After a car plowed into pedestrians in London on Aug. 14, 2018, for example, he tweeted: ‘Another terrorist attack in London… These animals are crazy and must be dealt with through toughness and strength!’

“It turns out that Trump actually has a triple standard, because he treats attacks by Saudis differently than those from other Muslim nations. On Friday, a Saudi air force officer studying at the Naval Air Station Pensacola shot dead three Americans and wounded eight others. Instead of expressing outrage or vowing vengeance, or even waiting for all the facts to come in, Trump sounded as if he were auditioning for the job of press secretary at the Saudi Embassy. He conveyed King Salman’s ‘sincere condolences’ and his (highly questionable) assurances ‘that this person in no way shape or form represents the feelings of the Saudi people who love the American people.’ Trump then told reporters that the king ‘will take care of the families and loved ones of the victims.’”

“… This is, of course, only the latest example of Trump’s suspicious partiality to Saudi Arabia — the site of his first trip abroad as president. Trump has taken Saudi Arabia’s side as it has blockaded Qatar, the home of a large U.S. military base; caused a humanitarian tragedy with its bombing of Yemen; and even murdered and dismembered Post contributing columnist Jamal Khashoggi. Congress was so outraged by Saudi atrocities — both against Yemen and Khashoggi — that it passed legislation to block arms sales to Saudi Arabia. Trump vetoed the bills. And even while abandoning the Kurds who fought with U.S. troops to defeat the Islamic State, Trump has sent thousands of U.S. troops to Saudi Arabia, a deployment that in the past has inflamed jihadist sentiment.

Boot continues by citing DDT’s love of money he claims to get from Saudi Arabia–$110 billion in weapons sales that was actually $14.5 billion. That’s for the U.S., but the Saudis “buy apartments from me,” according to DDT. “They spend $40 million, $50 million. Am I supposed to dislike them? I like them very much.” Revenue at the Trump International Hotel in Manhattan suffered “two years of decline” before increasing 13 percent in the first three months of 2018 from “a last-minute visit to New York by the Crown Prince [Mohammed bin Salman] of Saudi Arabia.” As Boot concludes, DDT’s “police is ‘Me First,’ not ‘America First.’”

And Republicans defend DDT’s extortion, bribery, and quid pro quo in Ukraine by swearing that he wants to wipe out corruption.

December 8, 2019

Clean Up U.S. Administration

Rudy Giuliani says he’s in Ukraine to ferret out corruption. He should start with Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) and his Cabinet. Recent examples:

State Department Secretary Mike Pompeo violated international law and reversed 50 years of U.S. policy by accepting Israeli settlements in the West Bank that encroach on the Palestinians. He set the pattern for Russia taking over Ukraine with impunity. DDT wants to support Benjamin Netanyahu in his struggle to be prime minister after he failed to get a majority in two successive elections. Without a majority of legislators by December 11, the day before Britain’s election for a prime minister, another election will be called. Netanyahu has been indicted for bribery, fraud, and breach of trust and promotes the conspiracy theory about a plot to unseat him. If Netanyahu gets a majority, the attorney general must decide if an indicted criminal can run the country. Netanyahu has made Pompeo a pawn in his campaign. His win could make him an autocrat, investigating and prosecuting enemies with immunity and doing away with the constitution and the Supreme Court’s review of executive decisions. His loss could help restate a democracy in Israel. Popularity in Israel gives DDT votes from evangelical Christians.

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos claims she made a mistake when she forced almost 46,000 scammed students to repay student loans. A court order had blocked her from collecting the payments from defrauded borrowers in schools owned by Corinthian Colleges, educational programs that even DeVos declared “worthless,” but she drastically under-counted the number of former students suffering from her initial illegal decision. DOE has been ordered to pay $100,000 in civil contempt fines and may have more sanctions against the department and DeVos. Afraid that the next president may try to cancel student debt, DeVos wants to put the federal government’s $1.5 trillion student loan portfolio in a “stand-alone government corporation.”

EPA Director Andrew Wheeler, former coal lobbyist who promotes pollution and use of toxic pesticides, has reinstated the use of M-44s, “cyanide bombs” to kill coyotes, in five states. In 2017, these bombs killed a variety of 13,232 animals, including family dogs, but government data shows that few livestock are killed by predators, under one percent for cattle and four percent for sheep in the U.S. He also has a new plan limiting research that will allow him complete autonomy. The public is permitted to respond, but the EPA may ignore comments the same way that the FCC did about net neutrality. 

The Department of Homeland Security intended to separate over 26,000 children from their parents with no way of ever reuniting them. The agency succeeded in separating approximately 3,014 children before it was stopped. The faulty DHS technology also lacked an efficient process for determining family relations. DDT wants to join Fiji, Australia, and Iran in charging fees to asylum-seekers in addition to many more destructive policies for humanity.

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma (under the Department for Health and Human Services) spent $744,000 on outside consultants—at least eight former White House, presidential transition, and campaign officials—who charged $380 an hour to make Verma look good and provide “strategic communications” support, duties usually carried out by the dozens of career civil servants in CMS’s communications department. A beneficiary, Verma ally Marcus Barlow, was allowed to bill $425,000 for a year of work, a much higher salary than staff who received $140,000 a year and top political appointees, and screens Verma’s hires.

Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, married to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), has faced ethics charges for using her position to benefit herself and her family after allegations of ethics violation. One charge was helping her father and sisters’ shipping company gain “influence and status” with the Chinese government that gave the firm millions in loans. Chao also used her position to greatly favor Kentuckians over any other state in the union.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross has mandated fake meteorological reports from NOAA and lied about the rationale for a citizenship question on the census. Despite his promises, he failed to sell between $1 million and $5 million of shares investing in international shipping for 30 months after he was appointed. Earlier this year, he misrepresented his stock holdings before selling short after learning about a negative story about his dealings with the shipping firm.

Interior Secretary David Bernhardt dismantled the BLM in Washington to move it into a Chevron building near his Grand Junction (CO) home. He had no congressional approval for the move but said that he did. A former lobbyist, Bernhardt continues to favor his past clients, for example one of the first contracts for federal water in perpetuity to a powerful rural California water district. If the contract is closed in January 2020, enough federal water for two million households will be diverted to wealthy farmers who employed Bernhardt. 

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin created “opportunity zones” supposedly to help low-income people but instead gives billions of U.S. revenue to billionaires. He’s also shielding DDT’s tax returns from House investigators.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper, former lobbyist for contractor Raytheon doing billions of dollars of business with the defense department, insists on dealing with affairs that benefit Raytheon.

HUD Director Ben Carson withholds aid from Puerto Rico, discriminates against some communities in low-income housing, favors his son in federal affairs, indulges himself in purchasing—the list seems endless.

AG Bill Barr instantly hit the top of the barrel with his corruption; he defends only DDT legal violations to the disastrous detriment of the U.S. people.

VP Mike Pence directed USAID money targeted for the Middle East to be focused on Christian minorities in the area during the past two years. Career service employees who displease Pence are fired or “penced,”as they call it, and political appointees make the decisions.  USAID is prohibited from favoring one religion over any other.

VP Mike Pence’s brother, Rep. Greg Pence (R-IN), spent $22,064 at DDT’s Washington hotel since December for “fund-raising” but listed $7,600 as “lodging.” Congressional members cannot spend campaign funds for rent, mortgage, or other expenses connected to personal residence, even first-year lawmakers like Pence. His spokesman said he changed the report to fundraising “to avoid confusion … from hostile reporters.”

Donald Trump Jr. has slimed Joe Biden’s son Hunter for benefiting from his father’s position and said “we literally stopped [making money from international business].” When DDT was elected, he said he would not sign new deals in foreign countries while he was in the Oval Office and he would hand over “all profits from governments’ patronage of his hotels and similar businesses” to the U.S. Treasury. Eric Trump complained about the “double standard” but said “we got out of all international business.” The Trumps, however, keep using DDT’s position in the Oval Office to make money around the world:

DDT didn’t divest from his significant holdings—including at least a dozen hotels and 20 golf courses worldwide—as he promised.

DDT’s annual financial disclosure forms show he holds over $130 million in assets in 30 countries and made at least $100 million from these assets in 2017 and 2018.

DDT’s sons sold a 5,400-square-foot Beverly Hills mansion for $13.5 million to a company linked to Indonesian billionaire Hary Tanoesoedibjo, DDT’s partner in two Indonesian development projects. The Indonesian government is helping to build a new highway for access to Trump Residences Lido, a golf course, hotel, and 280-home residential community.

The Trump Organization got permission last October to build 550 houses and a second golf course in Balmedie on the northeastern Scottish coast. The deal became more lucrative when the Aberdeenshire Council dropped a requirement that the Trump Organization make other investments in the Balmedie resort before building the project.

The Pentagon spent almost $200,000 at Scotland’s Trump Turnberry golf resort since 2017 for overnight stays and other expenses during refueling stops in nearby Glasgow.

In October, a local council in southwestern Ireland “approved a Trump Organization plan to build 53 houses and a new ballroom at its seaside golf course.”

DDT and his family also have businesses in countries such as India and Uruguay. In October, Trump Jr. lavishly hosted about 100 people purchasing homes in Trump-branded luxury towers near New Delhi.

The family seems to be working on a new business deal in the Dominican Republic’s Punta Cana area with DDT as developer.

Ivanka Trump’s international fashion line operated for eighteen months after she became a White House adviser who deals with foreign leaders and international figures. She received three preliminary trademarks from China on the day that she dined with the Chinese president.

Mr. DDT and Mr. Giuliani, clean up the DDT’s swamp before you worry about Ukraine.

February 2, 2019

How Facebook Damages Our Future

Love it or hate it, Facebook is ubiquitous around the world—making Mark Zuckerberg a multi-billionaire and helping elect Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) to the highest office in the United States. On Monday, February 4, it celebrates its 15th anniversary. With over 2.2 billion active users, Facebook has devastated people through the ability to “defriend” others and been the cause of millions of cyberattacks, especially among teenagers. A prevalence of violence, hate speech, and fake news has caused concerned people to look for solutions, but no one, not even creator Zuckerberg, knows how to counteract the negative aspects of Facebook.

Zuckerberg’s early use of social media was well known when he attended Harvard University, according to a piece by Claire Hoffman published ten years ago in Rolling Stone. In 2002, sophomore Zuckerberg got drunk after his girlfriend dumped him and hacked into the university websites. He downloaded female classmates’ photographs and put them next to ones of farm animals for people to rate which ones were more desirable. Pleased with himself, he blogged the process along the way. More than 450 people signed up before Harvard tracked the source and shut off Zuckerberg’s web access. In a hearing, he was accused of violating student privacy and downloading school property without permission. The praise he gained from his peers taught him a lesson that he recorded in a deposition:

“People are more voyeuristic than what I would have thought.”

After Zuckerberg launched Facebook, three classmates sued him, arguing that he stole their invention of a social-networking site after they hired him to code their creation. Zuckerberg liked the idea but dragged his heels in completing his agreement, finally telling them that they should get another programmer. He claimed that he probably didn’t start his own Facebook until after that, but he used his classmates prototype for Facebook. Zuckerberg also failed to tell his former employers that he officially registered the original Facebook site with his web provider before he told the three employers that he couldn’t finish the project. A fourth classmate said that he had already invented an online facebook. On his launch of his Facebook on February 4, 2004, he described himself as “Founder, Master and Commander [and] Enemy of the State.”

In Silicon Valley, Zuckerberg continued to take advantage of people. Former suite-mate Eduardo Saverin gave him $20,000 as a co-investor in Facebook but stayed in New York while Zuckerberg played and worked in Palo Alto. When they had a falling out, Zuckerberg sued Saverin, claiming that he froze Facebook’s bank accounts. Saverin sued, claiming that Zuckerberg never matched his $20,000 and that he used Saverin’s money for personal expenses. Zuckerberg transferred all intellectual-property rights and membership interests to a new version of the company in Delaware, unhinged Saverin’s stock from any further Facebook growth, and fired Saverin as an employee. Then, as now, Zuckerberg let no one stand in his way.

In 2007, Zuckerberg did lose one round—with his users. He sold advertisers Beacon, a program allowing them to put information about users’ purchasers on their Facebook identity. The ensuing revolt made him back off. At the same time, those close to him started to leave him. Lawyers accused Zuckerberg of hiding the code to create Facebook, and key data was missing when the hard drives were final found.

In 2015, a DDT-supporting data company, Cambridge Analytica, took personal data from tens of millions of Facebook profiles without their consent to collect voting patterns, supposedly at the request of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and for support of DDT during the 2016 presidential campaigns. Once again, Zuckerberg apologized for the “leak” that occurred when Facebook allowed a Cambridge University researcher to persuade users to share both their own and their friends’ user data. He said that Facebook stopped letting app creators access data about “friends” without their authorization, but the damage was done, damage that wasn’t discovered until after the 2016 election.

As users burgeoned, Zuckerberg used his “social media” to promote conspiracy theories and pass along misinformation, some of which greatly influenced voters. A Russian company bought Facebook ads for the 2016 presidential election. Zuckerberg enabled hate groups to proselytize, for example his selling ads targeting Facebook users self-identified as “Jew Haters.” Zuckerberg excused himself by claiming that users are self-reporting the data, seemingly ignoring his claim that his algorithms can detect and eliminate hate speech.

In one example of dangerous conspiracies promoted on Facebook, “Pizzagate” made up a story before the 2016 election that Hillary Clinton was running a child trafficking operation out of a Washington, D.C. pizza place. One believer showed up at the restaurant, waving a gun and demanding the children. The ridiculous and thoroughly debunked claim recently reemerged with an act of arson in the restaurant. Facebook’s mechanisms can radicalize users to support these conspiracy groups. Like gravitates to like, as Renée DiResta, a researcher of disinformation online, explains:

“Facebook’s recommendation engine says, ‘If you like pseudoscience, I’ll show you chemtrails and flat earth.’ Because of the increase of ominous conspiracies, you’re seeing groups around these conspiracy theories like QAnon or pizzagate being referred to people who would never search for them in the first place.”

Facebook’s “Suggested Groups” includes “Pizzagate Reports,” with this vivid photo-shopped image. From there, people are encouraged to move to groups such as “Real UFO Sightings & Strange Phenomenon,” “Official Flat Earth & Globe Discussion,” and “Q Angels.” While condemning misinformation and “fake news,” Zuckerman defends these groups, as well as Infowars, on his powerful social media. He said he would not ban Infowars although it shares “conspiracy theories or false news” and said that “there are things that different people get wrong—I don’t think that they’re intentionally getting it wrong.” He plans to leave up offensive or deliberately inaccurate posts but downgrade them so that algorithms show them to fewer people. Although Zuckerberg claims that he’ll take down misinformation that incites violence, Pizzagate is still up, and the restaurant is still being threatened with posts on Facebook bragging about frightening the owner to readers’ praise.

Last year, investigators discovered that Facebook uses “ethnic affinity” (aka race) that then permitted advertisers to target or exclude users based on this category. This Facebook characteristic allowed advertisers to deny opportunities for housing and employment. Zuckerberg claimed that he couldn’t see the impact of this category, and backlash caused Facebook to stop using this category—supposedly. Facebook’s abetting racism is profitable because every user is a possible source of revenue for the corporation. The more users, the more ads, and the more user insight to generate money for Facebook.

As Zuckerberg promises to fix one Facebook scam, he creates another. Facebook is secretly paying people to install a “Facebook Research” VPN allowing the company to obtain all the user’s phone and web activity, like Facebook’s Onavo Protect app that Apple banned in June. That one was removed in August. The new Facebook approach may violate Apple policy because the social network can decrypt and analyze the users’ phone activity. Since 2016, Facebook paid users ages 13 to 35 up to $20 per month and more in referral fees to install this iOS or Android app. To hide its involvement with “Facebook Research,” Facebook documented the app as “Project Atlas” and administers the program through beta testing services Applause, BetaBound and uTest. Instagram and Snapchat ads for VPN run by uTest targeted teens 13-17 years old for a “paid social media research study” and promise compensation.

Apple blocked the app the day before Facebook promised to voluntarily pull it from Apple but continue to run the Android version. Collected data includes private messages in social media apps, chats from in instant messaging apps, photos/videos sent to others, emails, web searches, web browsing activity, and ongoing location information from tracking apps. It works whether users’ screens and the VPN are on or off. Facebook claimed that the program is to learn how people use their phones and other services. The spokesperson said, “We don’t share this information with anyone.”

Zuckerberg plans to integrate WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook Messenger, originally independent companies. The result may be more privacy issues because WhatsApp currently doesn’t require a person’s identity, just a telephone number. It also doesn’t store messages and keeps minimal user data. Disturbed by the change, employees at all these companies are leaving. Facebook will also have additional problems in finding and stopping illicit activity and disinformation. WhatsApp blocked disinformation before the Brazilian presidential election by limiting the number of times a message could be forwarded.

In the past, I’ve worried about negative effects of Facebook usage, especially on teens. Studies show problems with self-esteem, feelings of envy, dissatisfaction, narcissism, antisocial behavior, and aggressiveness. Those concerns have moved to fears about radicalization of the far-right and control of elected officials. And Zuckerman just keeps apologizing and raking in the billions with new scams.

July 14, 2017

That Russia ‘Thing’

The drip-drip of information about collusion between Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) and Russia has developed into a steady flow as the dam against information starts to break down. Last week saw the publicity about a meeting between DDT associates at Trump Tower on June 9, 2016, with Kremlin-connected lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya because she promised that she could provide them damaging information about Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Early information showed that those attending included DDT’s son Donald Trump, Jr., DDT’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, who helps run both DDT and the family business, and one-time DDT campaign manager Paul Manafort, who has a history of business ties with Russian and pro-Russia Ukrainian kleptocrats. Now it appears that more people were present, including Russian businessman and former counterintelligence officer Rinat Akhmetshin.

The story put Jr. on the cover of Time. It began with Jr. claiming that he didn’t meet and then moved on to his claim that it was just about foster children, followed by admission that she Veselnitskaya offered information but didn’t provide any useful information against Clinton. Paul Manafort told his investigators about the meeting and that Jr. had set it up.

Jr. blatantly released emails proving he knew the offer to the meeting came directly from the Russian government and that possible information about be “very high level and sensitive.” The emails explicitly refer to “Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump” as well as Jr. agreeing to a meeting with a “Russian government attorney” to obtain documents from the Russian government. Jr.’s response to the emails is that “I love it especially later in the summer,” the time when the hacked emails from the DNC were released to the public.

The shifting story about DDT’s involvement with Russia to meddle in the presidential election: no, we didn’t talk to anybody; yes, we talked to somebody but it wasn’t about the election; yes, we talked about the election but didn’t get any useful information. The question is what’s next. That’s why all these people need lawyers. This fascinating view of who hired whom is missing the latest hire, Alan Futerfas. The lawyer for organized crime mobs including the Gambino, Genovese, and Colombo families is representing Jr.

Jr.’s emails support the chain of people from the Kremlin to DDT. The timeline of 20 denials about Russian collusion in the past year is accompanied by six more lies about Jr.’s meeting.

DDT claimed he knew nothing about the meeting, but a trail exists. Four hours after Jr. confirmed his meeting with Veselnitskaya on June 7, DDT promised a speech “discussing all of the things that have taken place with the Clintons.” He said that it would be “very, very informative.” Two days later, DDT lacked the information and talked about national security. A few hours after the meeting,  DDT asked Russia to find Hillary Clinton’s so-called “deleted” 33,000 emails.

DDT’s spin on the meeting is blaming former AG Loretta Lynch for allowing the lawyer into the country. Veselnitskaya came to the U.S. with the claim that she was an attorney for Prevezon Holdings, a Russian company accused of money-laundering for the mob by buying expensive real estate. Prevezon’s actions are related to DDT’s firing Preet Bharara, U.S. attorney for New York’s Southern District, while he was overseeing a money laundering case against Russian mobsters who allegedly hid $230 million in NYC real estate, some of it belong to DDT. The Russian lawyer who revealed the fraud met a suspicious death. Veselnitskaya called the DOJ settlement of $5.9 million in lieu of $230 million “almost an apology from the [U.S.] government.”

Richard Painter, George H.W. Bush’s ethics counsel, described Jr.’s actions as “treason.” As to the question of collusion, the term is defined as “secret or illegal cooperation or conspiracy, especially in order to cheat or deceive others.” Ryan Goodman, former Defense Department special counsel, declared that the meeting was prohibited by federal criminal law.

“The law states that no person shall knowingly solicit or accept from a foreign national any contribution to a campaign of an item of value. There is now a clear case that Donald Trump Jr. has met all the elements of the law, which is a criminally enforced federal statute.”

The statute governing foreign contributions to U.S. campaigns, 52 USC 30121, 36 USC 510, has two key passages. The first:

“A foreign national shall not, directly or indirectly, make a contribution or a donation of money or other thing of value, or expressly or impliedly promise to make a contribution or a donation, in connection with any Federal, State, or local election.”

The second:

“No person shall knowingly solicit, accept, or receive from a foreign national any contribution or donation prohibited by [this law].”

The term “solicit” has a specific meaning in this context:

“A solicitation is an oral or written communication that, construed as reasonably understood in the context in which it is made, contains a clear message asking, requesting, or recommending that another person make a contribution, donation, transfer of funds, or otherwise provide anything of value.”

The Committee of the Federal Register defines “solicitation”:

“To ask, request, or recommend, explicitly or implicitly, that another person make a contribution, donation, transfer of funds, or otherwise provide anything of value.”

Jr. knew that he was soliciting information from a foreign source and that damaging information in “political opposition research” would cost a great deal of money. The illegal part was trying to get the information, not Jr.’s success. Everyone at the meeting was trying to solicit information from a foreign government, i.e., the Russians. Jr. may have solicited other times because he told Sean Hannity on Fox that he “probably met with other people from Russia” during the campaign.

Charles Krauthammer said:

 “If you get a call to go to a certain place in the middle of the night to pick up stolen goods, and it turns out stolen goods don’t show up but the cops show up, I think you’re going to have a weak story saying, ‘well, I got swindled here….’ It’s a hell of a defense to say your collusion wasn’t competent and it didn’t work out.”

DDT counsel Kellyanne Conway may be expecting more drips in her use of the word “yet”:

“‘Collusion’? No. We don’t have that yet.”

Most  congressional Republicans are trying to cover DDT’s illegal acts of Russian collusion. They ignore the questions, refuse to answer them, or obfuscate. Denials of DDT’s collusion have morphed into claims that collusion isn’t illegal. Jr.’s emails about collusion with Russia? No problem? Hillary Clinton’s private email service? Horrifying! Rep. Steve King (R-IA) threatens to investigate Anthony Weiner’s 650,000 emails if the Democrats won’t ignore Jr.’s emails. GOP senators such as Ted Cruz (TX), John Cornyn (R-TX), and Lindsey Graham (SC) used Senate hearing time to question witnesses about Clinton instead of Russian collusion. GOP leaders of the intelligence committees in the House and Senate have called the media to challenge stories about the collusion.

Early reporting from the Fox network omitted any reference to Russia in Jr.’s emails.

Most of the attention surrounding the meeting has been on Jr., but Kushner may be in trouble too. His security clearance is based on lies about his past meetings, and Democrats want Kushner’s access to classified information rescinded. Since his presence at the meeting was revealed, Kushner remembered over 100 foreign contacts that he had omitted from earlier high-security clearance applications.

VP Mike Pence might also be in hot water. On Fox, his press secretary Marc Lotter refused to respond to a question about whether Pence met with the Russians. Six months ago, Pence denied that anyone with DDT’s campaign had met with Russians trying to meddle in the election, but now the world knows differently.

Two Democratic donors and a DNC staffer are suing DDT and his longtime adviser Roger Stone for their public release of emails stolen from the DNC. Congressional committees are competing to be the first to question Jr.

For several days, this was DDT’s only response to Jr.’s scandal: “My son is a high-quality person and I applaud his transparency.” He left for Paris and embarrassed the people of the United States there.

Last February, New York Times David Leonhardt wrote:

“This combination—an anti-democratic president and a quiescent Congress—is very dangerous. Even though many members of Congress think [Trump’s] approach is wrong, they have refused to confront him because he is a member of their party. He has the power to sign bills that Republican legislators have long favored, and their political fortunes are tied to his popularity.”

Most Republicans just want to keep DDT healthy enough to sign papers—and right now they’re in control. But the hacking continues.

September 21, 2016

CEO John Stumpf, Candidate Donald Trump Caught Scamming

“Eight rhymes with great.” That’s the reason that Wells Fargo demanded that its employees squeeze eight accounts out of every customer—and the reason that employees were fired if they failed. (Do you have eight bank accounts with your bank of choice?) Then, as Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) emphatically announced during a Senate hearing, CEO John Stumpf fired employees for “cheating” employees and went off to get hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation. CEO John Stumpf claims that Wells Fargo knew nothing about these scams until the LA Times published information about it in 2013 although it appeared to have started as early as 2011.

The scam came to light when it was discovered that battered employees opened unneeded accounts for customers, ordered them credit cards without their permission, and forged client signatures. Employees begged family members to open ghost accounts and opened duplicate accounts for themselves. A homeless woman was talked into opening six checking and savings accounts with fees of $39 per month. When the forced scams were discovered, Wells Fargo fired 30 workers just in southern California, and other workers were put on leave. A total of 5,300 lower-level employees had to leave Wells Fargo. Senior-level executives kept their jobs.

The purpose of the scam was to drive up stock value, and Wells Fargo reported a $5.6 billion quarterly profit last year in October. The bank averaged 6.15 financial products per household—almost four times the industry average. A former branch manager said that if he didn’t make his goal that he was “severely chastised and embarrassed in front of 60-plus managers in your area by the community banking president.”

Wells Fargo has agreed to pay $185 million in fines but won’t admit wrongdoing. It claims that the company will end its aggressive sales targets in another three months by January 1.

Carrie Tolstedt, the executive in charge of the division causing the problems, retired—instead of being fired—in July with a payout of $100 million and the hopes that more compensation throughout the coming year. Stumpf said that he talked to her weekly during the three years after the fake accounts were revealed and employees were being fired. Despite the illegal activity, he didn’t fire her because she did well with branding and improving customer loyalty.

Asked if the bank plans to “clawback” compensation for these acts from the top-level bank employees who make millions, Stumpf said that the responsibility lay with the bank’s board. He is the board chairman but said that he could not get involved and doesn’t plan to “prejudice their process.” Also asked how the bank will help customers with damaged credit ratings from the fake accounts or whether the case is one of fraud, Stumpf said that he was not a lawyer, a compensation expert, or a credit consultant. After being a micro-manager for many years, Stumpf now depicts himself as an innocent bystander.

Warren showed 12 transcripts of Wells Fargo earnings in which Stump “personally cited Wells Fargo’s success at cross-selling retail accounts as one of the main reasons to buy more stock in the company.” When Stumpf refused to answer how much his Wells Fargo stock holdings had gained during these three years, she said that his 6.75 million shares had increased by $30 each during that time—more than $200 million in gains from employees forcing customers to each have the “Great Eight” accounts. Much of Stumpf’s increase in wealth came from the creation of 200 million fraudulent accounts. As Warren announced in the hearing, Stumpf is not resigning, not returning any of his earnings from fraudulent actions, and not firing any senior executives.

In chastising Stumpf’s actions, Warren said:

“Here’s what really gets me about this, Mr. Stumpf. If one of your tellers took a handful of $20 bills out of the crash drawer, they’d probably be looking at criminal charges for theft. They could end up in prison. But you squeezed your employees to the breaking point so they would cheat customers and you could drive up the value of your stock and put hundreds of millions of dollars in your own pocket. And when it all blew up, you kept your job, you kept your multi-multimillion-dollar bonuses, and you went on television to blame thousands of $12-an-hour employees who were just trying to meet cross-sell quotas that made you rich.”

In yesterday’s hearing, Warren accused Stumpf of “gutless leadership” and called for his resignation. She also demanded that he return his personal compensation and face criminal investigation. Hillary Clinton wrote, “We need to make sure that no financial institution is too big to manage. And if any bank can’t be managed effectively, it should be broken up.” According to Democratic legislators, Wells Fargo and Stumpf highlight the reason for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) that GOP leaders want to dismantle.

Senate Republicans, especially those up for re-election, didn’t defend Stumpf’s wrongdoing. Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) called it “fraud,” but last year he fought to eliminate the CFPB. Republicans claim that Stumpf is an example of their belief that regulations don’t do any good.

Stumpf’s tentacles go much farther than just Wells Fargo: he serves on the Federal Advisory Council, 12 bankers who guide the Federal Reserve’s board members on U.S. financial policy and act as the nation’s leading bank regulator.

Donald Trump has said nothing about John Strumpf; he has his own fraud issues. Weeks ago, a few media sources published information about the illegal campaign donation from Trump’s charitable foundation, totally composed of other people’s money, to keep the fraudulent Trump University from being investigated in Florida. More recently, Washington Post’s David Fahrenthold revealed much greater wrongdoing. Using the Trump Foundation as his personal slush fund, Trump took $258,000 to again benefit himself, this time to pay his businesses’ fines. Jeffrey Tenenbaum, who advises charities at the Venable law firm in Washington, said, “I represent 700 nonprofits a year, and I’ve never encountered anything so brazen.” Trump has been known to say, “There’s nothing like doing things with other people’s money.”

GOP VP candidate, Mike Pence, attempted to defend his new boss. After the Trump campaign accused the article about the “slush fund” of being “peppered with inaccuracies,” MSNBC Brian Williams asked Pence what they were. Pence couldn’t identify any. The campaign staff couldn’t name any specific “inaccuracies” either.

GuideStar, an organization that tracks nonprofits, compared the foundations connected with the presidential candidates and found that the Clinton Foundation is he more transparent of the two. It tracks the Foundation’s philanthropic programs to determine the number of people benefitting, such as women getting job training. The Trump Foundation has no such tracking; the report said that it would “appear to indicate an unfocused generosity.” The Clintons also most likely donated more money to charity than the Trumps—who haven’t donated more than $10,000 in the past several years. But no one knows for sure because Donald Trump refuses to release his tax returns.

Asked about their candidate’s use of a charitable foundation to illegally satisfy his personal needs, House Republicans who skewered the Clinton Foundation either said that they hadn’t heard anything about problems with the Trump Foundation or that the conservative Washington Post is a Democratic propaganda machine. Once again, Clinton is judged by a different standard as the Clinton Foundation, which has not been found of any wrongdoing, is used against her, and the illegal activities of the Trump Foundation are ignored by millions of people.


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