Nel's New Day

November 13, 2022

Mistakes Were Made: FTX, Twitter

While the 2022 midterm elections released the majority of its results this past week, two financial disasters ran with a flood of breaking news in crypto currency and Elon Musk’s new toy, Twitter.

Last Wednesday, Dow Jones dropped about 1,000 points, alerting people to the collapse of FTX, a Bahama-based crypto currency exchange. FTX’s founder Sam Bankman-Fried, 30, lost 94 percent of his assets, going from net worth of $15.2 billion to $991.5 million, in one day of stock losses and resigned. He had secretly moved $10 billion of customer funds to his trading company Alameda Research with about 130 affiliated companies, and about $1-2 billion disappeared. A rescue deal with Binance collapsed, and the company filed for bankruptcy.

Major coins prices regained some of its lost value after the bankruptcy filing only to plummet after the discovery of a hack into FTX. Various tokens worth $663 million were drained from FTX’s crypto wallets, $477 million in the suspected theft, with the remainder believed to be put into secure storage by FTX. Those holding their own cryptocurrency can store it “hot,” “cold,” or a combination. “Hot” is attached to the internet permitting easy access; “cold” refers to wallets not internet connected. Many crypto start-ups used FTX because it paid high yields for assets on its platform. Before the collapse, Genesis locked up $175 million in funds with FTX; Pantera Capital, $135 million.

Crypto exchange Coinbase (COIN) fell nearly percent, and MicroStrategy dropped 10 percent. Crypto-focused bank Silvergate (SI) lost 14 percent. The two largest cryptocurrencies, bitcoin (BTC) and ether (ETH) both declined about 6 percent, similar to declines in the crypto sector. Blockchain and Tech ETF dropped 46 percent since their April debut. The wipeout for cryptocurrency was about $5 billion.

On November 11, Bitcoin’s price hovered around $17,000, down from above $20,000 on November 8 and well below the $68,000 a year ago. Except for supposed “stablecoins,” crypto’s value solely depends on what someone is willing to pay for it, like a lottery ticket.

The bankrupt FTX crypto exchange, according to its new CEO, is “in the process of removing trading and withdrawal functionality” and “moving as many digital assets as can be identified to a new cold wallet custodian.” FTX calls the hacking  “unauthorized transactions.” 

Bankman-Fried spent tens of millions of dollars to reconfigure the culture of finance in both the U.S. and the world. As recently as January, his FTX was worth $32 billion. The story of his rise—and fall—is here as he used his charm, trying to manipulate people into believing his company was a trustworthy investment. Money went into naming the Miami Heat arena and its logo on Major League Baseball umpires’ uniforms, Tom Brady and his wife Gisele Bündchen for spokespeople, and comedian Larry David starring in the FTX Super Bowl ad. Bankman-Fried’s partners are fleeing, Miami Heat is terminating its relationship to look for a new naming rights partner.

Having left the U.S., Bankman-Fried may be under supervision in a Bahamas resort with his co-founder, Gary Want, and FTX director of engineering Nishad Singh on his way to non-extradition haven Dubai. The resort is owned by Tiger Woods and Justin Timberlake

A way to avoid banks, cryptocurrency, which isn’t really “currency,” has been quite volatile, but risk-takers have used it in the hope of making a fortune. Melanie Trump used it for her business, and Elon Musk considered requiring bitcoins as payment for participation in his new company, Twitter.

Musk’s recent acquisition of the social media platform has kept the media busy following the constant shifts in what he is doing, starting out with the number of Twitter employees the wealthiest man in the world has fired. He started out with 25 percent of the 7,500 workers as well as almost all the top people in the business. Within a week, that figure expanded to 50 percent, which Jonathan Last called Twitter’s Red Wedding, comparing it to the massacre in The Game of Thrones. Layoffs were particularly extensive in Twitter’s “product trust and safety, policy, communications, tweet curation, ethical AI, data science, research, machine learning, social good, accessibility, and even certain core engineering teams.”

When Musk decided he needed some of them, he called them back, but many refused to return. They have three months salary but will be punished if they talk with any other former employees. (Library computers are probably very busy!) The ones he kept were told they had to report to offices instead of working remotely although that was not the deal when they were hired. Musk also dumped the board of directors and replaced them with his friends while making himself CEO. 

Most executives who weren’t fired walked out—top privacy, security, and safety executives. Axios reporter Sara Fischer tweeted, “Twitter is on life support.” Employees told her “it’s over” because “trust is gone.” According to a spokesperson for the Federal Trade Commission, agents were “tracking recent developments at Twitter with deep concern.” The agency is prepared to take action to require compliance with a consent order established earlier this year. Three of the resignations were part of the FTC mandated data handling practices. With greater restrictions, European countries are carefully watching Twitter problems.

Part of the investigation into Twitter is Saudi Arabia’s partial ownership because Musk said the company must follow the freedom of expression laws by the country in which it operates. Saudi Arabia has the eighth most Twitter users in the world with limited freedom of speech.  

The big tech moguls and financiers buying into Twitter, like Saudi Arabia, may suffer from buyers’ remorse, possibly losing much of their investment at $54.20 per share. The Saudi’s piece is almost $2 billion. Winners are those who bought shares at a lower price; privatizing stocks in the company forces Musk to reimburse shareholders at the buying cost.  Chief Twit, Musk’s self-identified nickname, is threatening bankruptcy after the company loses $4 million a day and could end up with hundreds of billions of dollars in fines. His financial situation worsened after advertisers, providing 90 percent of Twitter revenue, began to suspend their accounts. After losing at least nine major advertisers, Musk begged them to return on “Twitter Space,” an hour-long livestream, with promises of content moderation and account verification while blaming activists for their Twitter boycott.

For over a week, Twitter increasingly lost credibility, and tweeting comedians impersonated Musk in fake accounts. One of them, Kathy Griffin, encouraged encouraging people to vote Democratic before Musk told them to select GOP candidates. Musk tried to charge $19.95 for his verification accounts with a blue check. When people refused to pay the charge, he dropped the cost to $7.99. For this “Twitter Blue,” Musk didn’t even verify the accounts for accuracy, requiring only an Apple ID and phone number. The expedited timeline for Twitter Blue skipped the company’s internal risk evaluation and didn’t make key upgrades to flag problems. [Left: Musk’s tweet pleading for subscriptions.]

Musk paused the product which was flooded with misinformation and permitted neo-Nazi accounts. A fake account from Lilly, for example, announced free insulin. The expedited timeline for Twitter Blue skipped the company’s internal risk evaluation and didn’t make key upgrades to flag problems.  

Within the first week, Musk may have lost a million users, and many of them are going to Mastodon, a decentralized platform founded in 2016 which rose to 1 million users this month, doubling the past number. Users can set their own content moderation rules and uses hashtags, replies, and “boosting” (like retweeting). Unlike Twitter, Mastodon is a nonprofit and has no ads (#omg).

Musk bought Twitter for $44 billion, but its value dropped to $25 billion during its first week. He also has a $1 billion annual interest payment for the huge loan to help pay for the inflated price. In addition, fired workers are suing him for violating California and federal law because of his mass layoffs.

As Jonathan Last wrote, “Elon Musk has turned Twitter from a minimally-functioning company into a distressed asset. And he did it in a week.” Musk promised Twitter would not become “a free-for-all hellscape,” but that’s the perfect description of the social media site inundated with racist, sexist, and anti-Semitic posts accompanied by election disinformation and conspiracy theories—many of them promoted by Musk.

The end of Twitter would lose Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s (R-GA) tweets. People may remember  “Nancy Pelosi’s gazpacho police” instead of Gestapo. There was “Bill Gates wants you to eat his fake meat that grows in a peach tree dish.” Most recently, Greene wrote, “I’m sure our enemies are quacking in their boots while we are still over here trying to count ballots.” Alex Bollinger wrote, “On Twitter, people were quacking up about Greene’s latest complaint.” Twitter provided many images, including this one. 

Over at Meta, parent of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg may not being doing as well since his name change. The company’s $234 billion fall last February set the record for the biggest one-day value drop in stock market history, more than Apple’s one-day $182 billion loss in September 2020. Over 11,000 Meta employees, about 13 percent of the work force, were fired. Meta’s stock dropped over 50 percent from $200 six months ago before crawling back up to $113.02.

October 4, 2022

News: Supreme Court, DDT Plus More

Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) head to Mesa (AZ) on October 9 for another rally so supposedly campaign for his endorsed candidates Kari Lake (governor) and Blake Masters (U.S. Senate). No mention of another far-right GOP candidate Mark Finchem for Secretary of State. The day before, October 8, he’ll be at the Minden-Tahoe (NV) Airport for Adam Laxalt (U.S. Senate), Joe Lombardo (governor), and “the entire Nevada Trump ticket.” At DDT’s rally last week, people started leaving after 15 minutes, almost two hours early, from the facility not filled to capacity. 

As befits their ideology, six conservative justices appear to lean on their second day toward narrowing voting rights by permitting racial gerrymandering even after a Circuit Court three-judge panel, two of them DDT appointees, ruled the racial discrimination violated the Voter Rights Act (VRA). Justice Samuel Alito went the farthest, possibly willing to make the legal challenges against racial gerrymander even more stringent by “revisiting” Thornburg v. Gingles (1986), in which a unanimous vote blocked North Carolina from partisan racial gerrymandering.  

Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson brilliantly defended the VRA, at least the small piece left after Roberts court destroyed an important part of it in Shelby County v. Holder (2013) to permit racial discrimination and opened the South to voting oppression laws.

For years, conservative justices have driven poor decisions through SCOTUS through their personal views of originalism of WWTFFD—What Would the Founding Fathers Do. Conservative justices have insisted that the Constitution is “colorblind,” allowing them to allow racial discrimination by saying it wasn’t discriminatory. Jackson refused to give in to them. In the arguments on Merrill v. Mulligan to determine the Alabama districting case, the theory emerged again from conservatives. Jackson tutored them and Alabama’s lawyer in the purpose of the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments: “provide equal opportunity for formerly enslaved people, using color-conscious remedies whenever necessary to put them on the same plane as whites,” according to Mark Joseph Stern. She added that drilling down in the Constitution shows “that the Framers themselves adopted the equal protection clause, the 14th, the 15th Amendment, in a race-conscious way.”

Alabama Republicans argue that protecting Black citizens’ voting power would violate the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause. Jackson may lose, but she won’t give up without a fight.

In other business, the Supremes declined to hear Costello v. Carter, challenging Pennsylvania’s court-approved congressional map after the GOP legislature deadlocked with the Democratic governor, an issue with the high court’s upcoming arguments on Moore v. Harper. Perhaps they figure a ruling to give state legislatures carte blanche would render the case moot. Tragically, the chief justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and strong supporter of voting rights, Max Baer, died last Friday. The governor appoints his replacement until an election in 2023, but the legislature may not confirm the current governor’s choice. If extremely far-right Doug Mastriano gets elected in five weeks, the replacement can be a disaster for all rights in the state. In Pennsylvania, the governor also appoints the Secretary of State, who manages elections.

The Supreme Court has another chance to take on a gun issue, this time from Mexico. Alejandro Celorio, the country’s lead attorney, wants to sue U.S. gun manufacturers.  Last year, a judge dismissed a $10 million lawsuit against eight companies making and selling weapons favored by drug cartels with a law giving U.S. companies immunity from liability for guns illegally used by criminals. The lawsuit asserts 70 to 90 percent of guns recovered at Mexican crime scenes are illegally trafficked from the U.S. with the eight companies making over two-thirds of those weapons.    

DDT didn’t waste time sending his appeal to overturn the ruling from the 11th Circuit Court to allow the DOJ to start examining classified documents seized from Mar-a-Lago on August 8; he went directly to Justice Clarence Thomas. He wants the court to give the documents back to his special master. Thomas can refer DDT’s request to the full court, but the question is whether he will.   

Another question is whether anyone will trust DDT with classified documents after 14 of his officials reported on his four-year failure to follow guidelines for handling sensitive government documents. One adviser still seeing him regularly describes him as a “pack rat” and a “hoarder.” Some classified documents could be seen by anyone walking by him, and he didn’t always have them for official purposes.  

This week, DDT was directly connected to withholding federal documents when he asked Alex Cannon, a former DDT lawyer, to lie to the National Archives last February and tell the agency that DDT returned everything the archives wanted. Now DDT is accusing the Archives, as well as the FBI, for planting documents at Mar-a-Lago.  

There’s also DDT’s problems with his social media platform. After months of hype about Digital World, the company behind Truth Social, over three dozen disillusioned investors want a way out of the $1.3 billion to take the startup public. Last October, Digital World’s stock skyrocketed from $10 to $175 but dropped to $17.10 this week, ten percent of its high. A year later, the company faces the threat of liquidation, and backers had to pony up another $2.9 million in September to extend a deadline until December 8 for finalizing the deal. Digital World already moved from luxurious office space to a UPS store.

Bad news has piled up: a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation into illegal stock trading, a lawsuit by a scorned business partner against going public, investors promising $138 million have already pulled out, and reports that the social media platform isn’t paying its bills. Truth Social’s web host, RightForge, threatens legal action with claims that it is owed $1.6 million after the social platform paid for only three months since Truth Social inception in February 2021. In response to questions about the financial viability of Digital World, DDT said, “I don’t need financing. I’m really rich!” He just doesn’t pay his bills.

Investors may be unnerved by the trend for Truth Social to run QAnon advertising explicitly referencing a coming storm and including Q in the logo. The ads follow DDT sharing posts from over 100 QAnon accounts with images of DDT wearing a Q lapel pin. This week, he promoted QAnon and its predisposition of violence by tagging its image of a burning Q on top of the U.S. flag. Recent DDT’s and Truth Social’s promotion of QAnon has occurred at the same time as an increase in QAnon-linked violence. In June, Kash Patel, former DDT official and Truth Social board member, said, “We try to incorporate [QAnon] into our overall messaging scheme to capture audiences. Analysts state the social platform’s biggest problem is its narrow audience, lacking diversity of opinion and content—an echo chamber for DDT’s followers. 

DDT has twice endorsed Jair Bolsonaro for his last Sunday’s election, but the “Trump of the Tropics” lost his election by over five points. Unfortunately, his opponent, former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, was short of 50 percent by 1.2 percent. The runoff is on October 30.

After VP Kamala Harris said that North Korea has a “very important relationship” with the U.S., DDGT called her a “North Korea sympathizer.” This from the man who “fell in love” with Kim Jong-Un.

Eager for more attention, DDT is suing CNN for defamation; he wants $475 million. He claimed the network used its influence to defeat him politically.

More clarity has come out about Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ use of federal monies authorized for Florida use to ship 48 migrants from San Antonio (TX) to Martha’s Vineyard after lying to them about their advantages and destination. Migrants were lured onto the flight with lies from a woman calling herself “Perla.” Her last name is Huerta, and she is allegedly a “former combat medic and counterintelligence agent” discharged after two decades in the U.S. Army that included several deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan. She was sent from Tampa to Texas to help execute DeSantis’ plot. Migrants suing DeSantis plan to name Huerta as a defendant in the civil suit, leaving her open to deposing her for details about Florida administration’s potential involvement in the deception. Under immigration law, the asylum seekers aren’t “unauthorized aliens” as DeSantis claims.

Possibly to put the GOP back into control of the U.S. government, OPEC may cut oil production at a Wednesday meeting, driving up the price of gas in the U.S. Since June, gas prices have dropped by one-third from $120 to $80 a barrel, easing inflation. OPEC countries want to have greater control over the world’s oil production as the U.S. became a bigger player in the oil market. OPEC also blames the dollar’s rising strength for decreasing revenues.

Another Republican violated his state’s voting laws by creating a fake ID and using it to vote in multiple elections, this one Alabama’s GOP chairman John Wahl. The state government never issued him an ID, and he wasn’t on any state list of employees. Wahl claimed State Auditor Jim Zeigler gave him permission to make the ID himself, but Secretary of State John Merrill said he told Wahl it is not a valid voter ID. Although Wahl blamed poll workers for forcing him to use the ID through harassment, he also had a driver’s license that he could have used for a legal ID when voting. And he lied about not having made the ID himself.  

August 20, 2022

Persecution: The Favorite GOP Strategy

[Drought Update]: Yesterday’s blog post on climate disasters focused primarily on the U.S., but other areas face more calamities. In Europe, one of the worst droughts on record uncovered sunken German warships in the Serbian section of the Danube River, part of a Nazi Black Sea fleet sunk in 1944 while fleeing Soviet troops. Loaded with unexploded ordnance, the ships are a threat to fishing and shipping vessels squeezing by in half the 110-yard stretch of the river. Removal of the over 20 ships and their explosive loads will cost $30 million.

In July, a Roman bridge built during the first century BC was uncovered in the Tiber River, and in August, a village flooded in 1963 to build a dam appeared in the Belesar reservoir in Spain. Other submerged towns and villages in Spain surfaced in February with intact house windows and walls. Almost half of EU is under “warning,” connoting a severe drought and major moisture deficit and threatening shipping routes, food supply, and electricity. The heat wave leaves the Iberian peninsula drier than any time in the past 1,200 years and revealed stones from 5000 BC known as the Dolmen of Guadalperal, the “Spanish Stonehenge.”

The U.S. Supreme Court hasn’t quit its rulings during the summer, this one even in favor of Georgia’s Black voters. Lower courts conflicted in their decisions regarding elections for members of the state’s public service commission. They represent specific districts but are elected in a statewide race, diluting the Black vote, according to one judge. The judge, appointed by Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) ordered a November election be postponed for two commissioners’ seats so that the state legislature could create a new system. Another judge had allowed the election to proceed although he found the election violated the Voting Rights Act.

The 11th Circuit Court halted the ruling and cited the “Purcell principle,” disallowing changes in elections immediately before an election. The Supreme Court overturned the appeals’ court decision in its finding that the current public service commission election system discriminates against Black voters. The issue isn’t settled yet because the circuit court can continue deliberating about overturning the postponement. Another commission candidate had been refused for not meeting the district’s one-year residency requirement, but a Fulton County judge reinstated her because she had been targeted for exclusion during redistricting based on her residency. Text messages showed that a revision of a new map came after the Republican commissioner responsible for drawing the maps had been sent the candidate’s address.

In another Georgia decision, a judge refused to block the provision in the state’s new voter suppression law banning people giving food and water to voters who may have to wait in line as long as ten hours—if they are low-income and/or minorities. He said he didn’t want to change the process from the primaries.

After undated Pennsylvania ballots have collected dust for over three months since the May primary election, a judge ordered three counties to include them in their certified results for the primary election. Mail-in ballots in the state require a date on the declaration on the return envelope. That ruling can allow hundreds or even thousands of additional votes in future elections. The judge ordered the certified totals by August 24.

Two counties are considering an appeal to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, and the third one won’t comment. The Department of State pushed the counting of votes, and 64 of the 67 counties did so. Some elections in the three non-compliant counties crossed county lines, leaving the department with either certifying results counted differently across counties or unofficially forcing uniformity. It sued the three counties on July 11.

Earlier this month, it was discovered that a fourth county’s results were certified although it, too, had refused to count undated ballots. Dated ballots were first required in 2020. A federal judge has ruled that rejecting undated mail ballots in last November’s election was a technicality, violating federal civil rights law. The ruling ordered counties to report results both with and without the undated ballots until the case was decided. The state Supreme Court must take an appeal and take action, and the U.S. Supreme Court has not yet decided whether to take the federal case.

In Utah, a state judge gave transgender girls the opportunity to participate in female sports if they pass the scrutiny of a state commission of political appointees. The panel of health professionals and athletic officials will evaluate the child’s height and weight in determining whether a transgender girl would have an unfair advantage. At least 12 states passed laws preventing transgender women or girls from sports, and three more states are in the process of following the discriminatory legislature. In his ruling, the judge said that the families of three transgender student-athletes filing the lawsuits showed they suffered significant distress by “singling them out for unfavorable treatment as transgender girls.” The plaintiffs claim the law violates the Utah Constitution’s guarantees of equal rights and due process.

This week the Utah High School Activities Association revealed it secretly investigated a female athlete as transgender without her or her families knowledge because of complaints from parents of two girls she defeated. The probe into her school records back to kindergarten showed her to be “female.” Association spokesperson David Spatafore claimed the process was hidden to spare the girl and her family embarrassment and “to keep the matter private.”

Gov. Spencer Cox accused the complaint and ensuing investigation of crossing a line. At his monthly news conference, he said:

“My goodness, we’re living in this world where we’ve become sore losers, and we’re looking for any reason why our kid lost.”

Cox added that he was disturbed about “making up allegations.” When he vetoed the law barring transgender girls in sport before it went into effect, he explained his disgust

‘Four kids and only one of them playing girls sports. That’s what all of this is about… “Rarely has so much fear and anger been directed at so few.”

Cox also said that his decision to veto the bill could hurt him politically, but he “tried to do what I feel is the right thing regardless of the consequences.” Gov. Eric Holcomb vetoed a similar bill in Indiana for fear of business boycotts in the state.

In Florida, an anti-LGBTQ activist in Moms for Liberty wants all LGBTQ students separated in different classes from straight and cisgender students like those with autism and Down Syndrome. The group also attacked the Trevor Project for trying to prevent LGBTQ teen suicide, called two girls briefly kissing at a school function is “lewd” and “traumatic,” and offered bounties for people turning in teachers who discuss “divisive topics.”

Doctors used to be respected for their medical knowledge; now Republicans want to make them felons. First was the proposal to send medical professionals to prison for performing abortions—even ones necessary to save the lives of the pregnant woman or girl. Now Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) has introduced a bill making it a felony to provide over a dozen medical interventions and procedures used to treat gender dysphoria—any gender-affirming medical care including puberty blockers and hormones to transgender youth under 18. The measure would block federal funds for gender-affirming health care, including in Affordable Healthcare Act plans, and bar colleges and universities from offering instruction on gender-affirming care. Greene even found 14 GOP House members to co-sponsor her bill: Mary Miller (IL), Jeff Duncan (SC), Bob Good (VA), Ralph Norman (SC), Matt Gaetz (FL), Tony Gonzales (TX), Diana Harshbarger (TN), Clay Higgins (LA), Burgess Owens (UT), Claudia Tenney (NY), Andrew Clyde (GA), Lance Gooden (TX), Lauren Boebert (CO), and Paul Gosar (AZ). She describes “gender-affirming care” as “child abuse” and “assault.” Violators of her law would face 10 to 15 years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000. 

Alabama already has a similar law, passed earlier this year, but a federal judge blocked its enforcement, ruling that the state hasn’t provided any credible evidence that this health care is “experimental.”

Greene also wants everyone armed so they can shoot transgender people and drag queens. She tweeted that unlimited gun ownership “will be a tool to disarm any gun owner that wants to stop abortion, the trans agenda on kids, mass illegal migration, & big government oppression suffocating our families, faith & freedoms.” She maintains that without guns, these haters will be persecuted by the media. She concluded by saying “every single Republican must wake up and face this frightening reality” where people who make threats against trans people and drag queens might lose their guns.

The next prosecuted category could be witches, now that the last Salem witch has been exonerated, thanks to an eighth-grade class in Andover (MA). Elizabeth Johnson, 22, was judged guilty but not executed, which eliminated her from exoneration when the state legislature exonerated all those put to death in the trials—in 2001. After an intense lobbying campaign by eighth-grade students, legislation has pardoned the last wrongly convicted Salem witch, but other states may go in a different direction. Perhaps students could also start work on other persecuted categories—like LGBTQ people and pregnant women.

July 27, 2022

GOP, DDT Reject Human Rights

After a year, the Senate passed a bill to provide $280 billion for chip manufacturing, design, and scientific research. Seventeen Republicans supported the bill in the 64-33 vote with only one member of the Democratic caucus, Bernie Sanders (I-VT), in opposition because of its weak guidelines. The U.S. has contributed no money to chip manufacturing, compared to the $150 billion that China pays to support the industry. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said she had the votes in her chamber for the bill.   

Most of the funding goes toward advanced, rather than basic, chips, the majority currently coming from Taiwan. The U.S. went from making 37 percent of the world’s chips in 1990 to only 12 percent while the nation contributes “nearly nothing” to their manufacturing  compared to China’s $150 billion investment. Even with the advantages to their states, some senators, such as Tommy Turberville (R-AL) ignored the importance of chips, i.e., a critical component for Javelin missiles, manufactured in Turberville’s state.

After Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) joined Republicans to force the removal of tax increases for the wealthy and big businesses from the bill, he failed to vote after testing positive for COVID.

In Congress, Republicans joined Justice Clarence Thomas to make women into baby incubators by removing female rights to travel, contraception access, and marriage to whom they love. Although 47 GOP House members voted for marriage equality, only eight supported the right to contraception, and 205 Republicans voted against women traveling across state lines for an abortion. This dystopian vision of the U.S. comes directly from Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. The GOP refusal to protect marriage equality and contraception is exactly the same Republicans used to deny protection for Roe v. Wade—their assumption these rights will never be overturned. Yet justices are calling the 2015 marriage equality ruling “undemocratic,” “a problem that only [the court] can fix.”

Sen. Joni Ernst has also blocked a bill legalizing contraceptives; at 52 years old, she probably doesn’t need them. Ernst made her reputation—and may have gotten elected in 2014—with a TV ad about comparing her goals in the Senate to castrating hogs.

Twenty House Republicans also supported human trafficking by voting against a bill to combat the problem. One of them, Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), criticized Democrats for doing nothing about protecting victims. Another naysayer, Matt Gaetz (R-FL), is under investigation for sex trafficking at least one underage girl. Pence’s former aide, Marc Short, said about Gaetz’s recent speech to Turning Point USA, a conservative student group, “I’m actually surprised the Florida law enforcement still allows him to speak to teenage conferences like that.”

In his speech to Turning Point, Gaetz said all anti-abortionists were fat and ugly, that they couldn’t get pregnant anyway. After a 19-year-old Texas girl objected, he used her photo to support his lie and sent her a vile insulting tweet. She used his body-shaming abuse to raise $214,000 thus far for an anti-abortion group.  

DDT’s favorite network—no, it isn’t Fox—may disappear after Verizon Fios stopped carrying One America News, removing 3.5 million subscribers. Earlier this year, OAN lost its biggest revenue when AT&T dumped DirecTV off the service in April, losing another 15 million subscribers. Far to the right of Fox, OAN created a haven for pundits who couldn’t get jobs on other channels, those willing to promote conspiracy theories including the “stolen” election.  OAN has admitted Verizon thinks that the channel is not “a credible news organization.”

Perhaps not noticing that CNN’s new CEO is directing the network to the right-wing dark side, DDT threatens to sue the company for defamation going back to his 2016 presidency campaign. DDT is still claiming his 2020 election was “stolen,” as recently as his speech in Washington, D.C. earlier this week. Clarence Thomas has said the Supreme Court should create an easier environment for people to win lawsuits against the media.   

DDT’s speech seems to be winding up to another presidential campaign with the lies about stolen elections and LGBTQ people front and center, especially trans women. For example, he misgendered swimmer Lia Thomas, accusing “him” of having “arms that are 30 feet long” and “seriously injur[ing]” a competitor “because he swam so fast that he gave her major wind burn as he went by.” Thomas also wasn’t named “female athlete of the year” and didn’t break the record “by 38 seconds.” DDT also talked about a transgender weightlifter who doesn’t seem to exist. In his speech, DDT called LGBTQ people “sickos.”

Fifty-five trans candidates running in 2022 have been joined by 20 gender nonconforming candidates, 18 nonbinary candidates, and four Two-Spirit candidates. Some of them are in red states such as Montana and Oklahoma. A total of 1,068 LGBTQ candidates, an increase of 73 percent since 2020, is running this year when legislatures introduced 162 anti-LGBTQ bills before July 1. Congress has 11 elected LGBTQ members.

Witnesses in the House January 6 probe are revealing more of his lies. The Pentagon now supports the many claims that he never called on the National Guard to protect the U.S. Capitol. DDT’s former acting Secretary of Defense Chris Miller said DDT never requested the 10,000 troops to secure the Capitol before January 6, a claim made by both DDT and his former chief of staff Mark Meadows. DDT’s former official Mick Mulvaney will also testify before the committee; he says he believe the testimony of witnesses Cassidy Hutchinson and other top former DDT officials,

After eight hearings from the House January 6 investigative committee showing DDT’s involvement in the failed coup at the U.S. Capitol, the DOJ is taking steps to investigate him. Concerns include DDT’s attempt to force former VP Mike President to overturn Joe Biden’s presidential election and DDT’s ties to establishing fake alternate electors in battleground states he lost. In five of seven states, these electors appear to be driven by DDT’s lawyers with DDT also involved. The DOJ interviewed witnesses, seized phone records of his top allies, and searched the home of former Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark who enabled DDT in his election-fraud theories. AG Merrick Garland has repeatedly said that no one is above the law, and the Fulton County (GA) criminal investigation into DDT’s efforts to overturn the election is also expanding.

Furious about the investigation, DDT used his Truth Social to repeat his lies and conspiracy theories—“massive and irrefutable” evidence about the “rigged and stolen” election, his “perfect” phone call to Georgia begging for more votes to make him a winner, and more whining about his impeachments and Russia scams. The extensive quotes, complete with excessive capital letters, are here.

The DOJ has a new warrant to search John Eastman’s phone in the continued investigation regarding a criminal conspiracy between DDT and his lawyer to overturn the election, partly through using fake electors. Eastman’s employer, conservative Claremont Institute, is backing off from its staunch DDT support after standing by Eastman before it learned more about his actions. Now they’re lamenting that he decided to jettison the Constitution for DDT’s benefit. The question now is how the think tank can separate itself from Eastman.

The House committee evidence supports charges of obstruction of an official proceeding with a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and used against hundreds of insurrectionists along with possibly seditious conspiracy, like charges brought against Proud Boys and Oath Keepers. In a new poll, 79 percent of people think DDT’s actions on January 6 were illegal or unethical with only 21 percent believing he did nothing wrong. Even 55 percent of Republicans agree with either illegal or unethical behavior, the same percentage of Republicans who don’t want DDT as the 2024 candidate. The 69 percent of people who believe the January 6 attack to be a crisis or major problem for American democracy is up from 65 percent earlier this year.

Leaked audio from Steve Bannon, added to his saying that DDT would declare victory on election night even if he lost, are his conspiracy with exiled Chinese mogul Guo Wengui and his associates to spread the lies that Hunter Biden’s computer, Joe Biden’s son, contained proof about salacious crimes. Guo controls pro-DDT media sites spreading far-right disinformation. Before the election, Guo’s associates disseminated videos and photos of Hunter Biden in sexual encounters and drug use.

After paying almost $2 million for DDT’s legal bills, the RNC chair Ronna McDaniel said the money stops if he becomes a 2024 candidate using the weak excuse of its “neutrality policy.” Earlier, DDT backed down when McDaniel made the same threat after DDT said he was creating his own political party. DDT’s leadership PAC, Save America, and his presidential committee-turned-PAC Make America Great Again PAC are paying legal bills for issues related to January 6, raising concerns about his witness tampering.

A Harvard study of almost 500 documents shows primary motivation for 417 Capitol rioters charged for insurrection: support for DDT, 20.6 percent; DDT’s lie about a stolen election, 20.6 percent; “peacefully protest,” 7 percent; and “general interest in violence,” 6.2 percent.  

June 9, 2022

January 6, 2021 Hearing – June 9, 2022

Filed under: Donald Trump — trp2011 @ 11:41 PM
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Tonight was the first of six House hearings about January 6 insurrection, in which hundreds of supporters of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) stormed the U.S. Capitol. Before the hearing, DDT called it “the greatest movement in the history of our Country.” DDT wrote, “The Unselect Committee didn’t spend one minute studying the reason that people went to Washington, D.C…” Those watching tonight’s hearing saw a video segment in which a number of DDT’s supporters said they only did it because he asked them to go attack the Capitol. He also accused House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of rejecting his offer of 20,000 National Guardsmen, another lie refuted tonight by the House investigative committee’s reporting. DDT also ranted about the “RUSSIA, RUSSIA, RUSSIA HOAX” which the country’s president Vladimir Putin will undoubtedly play on his state television.

After the focus on violence and the insurrectionist plot, orchestrated by DDT, outlined in the first hearing, other hearings will describe the strategy of navigating the plot, the use of bogus electors in key battleground states, and DDT’s personal conduct in the White House on the day of the insurrection.

A GOP counteroffensive is being led by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (CA), Chair of the House GOP Conference Elise Stefanik (NY), and Jim Jordan (OH), who is still refusing to appear before the investigative committee after receiving a subpoena. Behind the scenes, DDT’s former political director and current chair of the Conservative PAC Matt Schlapp is in charge. They plan a continuation of the “big lie” conspiracy theories and false arguments in court battles for evading congressional subpoenas for their records and testimonies.

House members McCarthy, Jordan, Mo Brooks (AL), Andy Biggs (AZ), and Scott Perry (PA) have all refused subpoenas from the select committee. All plan to defend DDT with the fake argument that the committee is illegally empowered because it was not properly formed, an argument refuted by all the court rulings, including that of the U.S. Supreme Court. The select committee has been recognized not only as a valid legislative body but also as a properly formed one thanks to its binding resolution that was afforded the protocols necessary before a final vote in the full House of Representatives was held.

The GOP “strategy memo” to defend themselves includes the messages that “Democrats are the real election deniers” and that “Trump’s requests” this month to his “surrogates” should shape coverage on friendly media networks. Fox network is so friendly that it refuses to show the hearings to its two million viewers, unlike five major networks, but Tucker Carlson spent an full hour with ads, spewing lies. In the weeks after the 2020 election, Fox programming cast doubt on the election result “nearly 800 times,” according to Media Matters. Ironically, some of Fox hosts had called DDT on January 6, 2021, asking him to call off his terrorist supporters. To distract his watchers from the hearings, Fox’s Jesse Watters spent seven minutes falsely accusing President Biden and other top Democrats of leading a conspiracy to shoot Justice Brett Kavanaugh in his home.

Distraction may be difficult through the summer filled with insurrection events. In addition to the hearings throughout June, Steve Bannon goes on trial in July for his contempt charge in refusing a subpoena, and the Proud boys and Oath Keepers face seditious conspiracy charges and other allegations in July and September, respectively.

GOP Reps. Liz Cheney (WY) and Adam Kinzinger (IL) have Republican company. Former Rep. Denver Riggleman (VA), a committee adviser, told CNN’s Anderson Cooper he appreciated the lack of “partisan whining and screaming” on the investigative committee.  

At least one Republican, the former Representative for Virginia, Denver Riggleman, has thrown his support behind the hearings and then some. Riggleman has been an adviser to the committee for several months.

Tonight’s reports:

  • DDT endorsed the hanging of his VP Mike Pence while the mob attacked the Capitol.
  • Because DDT wanted the attack to continue, Pence had to call for help.
  • DDT’s Cabinet members discussed removing him from office with the 25th Amendment after the insurrection.
  • DDT “was at the center of this conspiracy” (Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-MS) and “lit the fuse” for the attack (Rep. Liz Cheney, R-WY).
  • Officer Caroline Edwards, one of over 150 officers injured in the rampage, testified about her attack, called it a “war scene.”
  • DDT and his advisers “knew that he had in fact lost the election” but “spread false and fraudulent information to convince huge portions of the U.S. population that fraud had stolen the election.”
  • Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA), among several other unnamed Republicans, asked for a presidential pardon after January 6.
  • Then-AG Bill Barr knew DDT’s claims were false and told him that; Ivanka Trump said she respected Barr and accepted what he said.
  • Documentary filmmaker Nick Quested provided extensive video of the Proud Boys, taken while he was embedded with them during the planning and the attack.
  • The Proud Boys didn’t attend DDT’s speech before the insurrection but instead headed to the Capitol to surveil the area for law enforcement and start the attack.
  • Insurrectionists attributed their actions to the lies and urging of DDT, shown in a video compilation.
  • Jason Miller testified a campaign aide told DDT after the election he was losing the election in a preview of the next hearing.

The first hearing expertly wove together elements of over 1,000 people interviewed, thousands of hours of testimony, and tens of thousands of documents. Beginning speeches by Chair Thompson and Vice-Chair Cheney were engrossing, and video segments of interviews, including those from Barr to Ivanka Trump, supplied additional information. Both live witnesses, police officer Edwards and filmmaker Quested, were well-prepared, and video footage enhanced their testimonies. The two hours moved rapidly through the tragedy of the angry violence perpetrated on democracy.

The remaining hearings are on June 13 (Monday), June 15 (Wednesday), June 16 (Thursday), and June 21 (Tuesday) with the final one at 8:00 pm on June 23. Cheney reminded the audience that “our investigation is still ongoing.” New evidence may be revealed even during June while the hearings are underway. A summary of the past 11 months of investigation, complete with a Who’s-Who of those involved in the probe.

Mike Pence could be even more center in the investigation than DDT because he was in the middle of the planning along with his chief of staff Marc Short and counsel Greg Jacobs while attorney John Eastman presented his plan to overturn the election. Jacob and Short were also present when the Senate parliamentarian told Pence that he could not refuse to complete the tally.

Jacob, who plans to testify at the June 16 hearing, wrote that Eastman’s plan was “snake oil … wrapped in the guise of a lawyer’s advice.” He also helped Pence revise the script Pence used to preside over Congress on January 6 to signal his intent to reject Eastman’s plan. Short was so worried about Eastman’s and DDT’s plans that he warned the Secret Service on January 5, 2021, about a potential threat to Pence. He wasn’t specific about the concern, but it came from his assessment that DDT would turn against Pence. Short was with Pence on January 6 when DDT’s supporters forced them to evacuate from the Capitol to a safe location.

Pence got a whitewashing in Jonathan Last’s Atlantic article, “Mike Pence Is an American Hero.” Heroism to the Republican Last is not overturning an election, a low bar according to Jack Holmes. After four years of lying and covering for DDT, Pence developed a temporary backbone before supporting DDT. Last even wants Congress to name a building after him and President Joe Biden to give him the Medal of Freedom. Holmes wrote:

“Why must they put some respect on his name? Because he repeatedly did the absolute bare minimum we expect from anyone who holds elected office in this country—namely, that when they lose an election, they fucking leave.”

Just before the insurrection, Pence supported GOP Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue in runoff elections by claiming “doubts about the last election” and “voting irregularities.” He promised that “come this Wednesday, we’ll have our day in Congress. We’ll hear the evidence.” The “evidence” was that Loeffler and Perdue lost. He didn’t overturn the election, but he agreed with the “big lie” about election fraud. Pence’s claim was made in Georgia where DDT tried to intimidate the governor and secretary of state into stuffing the ballot box—election fraud—to make him win the state. That’s a crime.

Every accusation of “irregularity” was thrown out of court. DDT’s pick for attorney general Bill Barr said there was no election fraud. In Georgia, Pence the “hero,” was opposing a democracy reform bill that included allowing eligible people to vote in all states.

Pence’s history of lying and denying rights to women and LGBTQ people—over half the U.S. population—goes a long way back in his willingness to lie about abortion and his desire to block STIs with condoms because they are “too modern.” His refusal to allow a needle exchange while he was governor of Indiana caused a huge HIV outbreak in 2015, and his medieval attitudes cost his state tens of millions of dollars in business. A few more serious issues about Christian ideologue Mike Pence. He’s no hero, but he wants to be the next president. Scary.  

January 12, 2022

Politics: Moving into 2022

Congress is back, as the fireworks. A few bits.

The former girlfriend of Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) is testifying before a federal grand jury, probably under an immunity deal to avoid obstruction of justification. Gaetz is being investigated for having sex with an underage female for money and, with others, transporting people across state lines for the purpose of prostitution, violating the Mann Act. He is also investigated for obstruction of justice. The probe into Gaetz began over a year ago when his former friend and ally, former Seminole County tax collector Joel Greenberg, was charged with multiple crimes such as cheating taxpayers in a cryptocurrency scheme, smearing a political rival, sex-trafficking the girl in the Gaetz investigation, and being a pedophile. Greenberg pled guilty to six charges of identity theft, stalking, wire fraud, conspiracy to bribe a public official, and sex-trafficking of a minor.

Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) again called for Gaetz to be removed from the House Judiciary Committee, tweeting that Gaetz “is entitled to the presumption of innocence but [not to sit on the committee] that has direct oversight over the very Department investigating him for sex crimes.” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) won’t take action on Gaetz because he hopes to be Speaker if the GOP takes the House in 2022.

McCarthy is also refusing to talk to the January 6 investigation committee after earlier having said he would cooperate. Members want to ask McCarthy about his conversations with DDT on January 6 and following days. Previously, McCarthy described his telephone call to DDT after the beginning of the attack as “very heated.” During that call, DDT sided with the rioters, telling McCarthy they were more upset about the election than he was. A Politico article reported McCarthy telling other Republicans that DDT had admitted a level of responsibility for the attack in conversations with him.

On the night of McCarthy’s refusal, the media is playing a video of his speech over a year ago when McCarthy said “the president bears responsibility” for the riot. Yet he opposed any committee investigating the insurrection although 35 other Republicans voted for its formation. In selecting five GOP members for the committee, he chose the greatest obstructors to it and then pulled all his nominations after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi refused to accept two of them.

Seven states were busted for sending identical forged election certificates for DDT before the Electoral College vote count on January 6, part of John Eastman’s plan to overturn the election approved by DDT. Congressional members had sent former chief of staff Mark Meadows text messages and emails about sending alternative elector slates. He responded, “I love it” and then, “Yes. Have a team on it.” Joe Biden won all these battleground states—Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin—in the popular vote. They have a total of 85 electoral votes. Eastman declared the states had competing electors, but DDT electors had no authority in their claim to be electors. Investigators are focusing on possible crimes for the January 6 committee.

In addition to the identical forged certificate, Arizona sent another one with different electors.   Lori Osjecki said “AZ Protect the Vote,” supposedly a group of “sovereign citizens of the Great State of Arizona,” prepared the second fake document and had it notarized after they met with DDT’s former personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani. The state’s majority vote supported Biden, but they took this action because they thought the state’s governor, Doug Ducey, didn’t support DDT’s efforts. Katie Hobbs, Arizona Secretary of State, said the group used a state seal on its false certificate “to make it look official, which is not a legal activity.”

During testimony about COVID before the Senate, Dr. Anthony Fauci claimed Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) was making money from “a catastrophic epidemic.” The two have had heated exchanges in the past. Paul accused Fauci of a “smear campaign,” denouncing conservative academics opposing the 2020 shutdown measures, but Fauci pointed out the emails to Fauci’s colleagues were only a link to a Wired article debunking “herd immunity.” Fauci said that Paul’s accusations “kindles the crazies out there” and he receive “threats upon my life, harassment of my family and my children with obscene phone calls because people are lying about me.” He pointed out that Paul uses his diatribes “for political reasons” and “distracts what we’re all trying to do here today—get our arms around the epidemic and the pandemic that we are dealing with, not something that is imaginary.”

Paul’s campaign fundraising has used Fauci’s image with calls to “fire Fauci.” Soon after the hearing, Paul’s campaign sent donors an email with the subject line “Fauci is hysterical” and provided a link for Paul’s supporters to “Chip in if you agree.” Fauci said that Paul’s accusations “kindles the crazies out there” and he receive “threats upon my life, harassment of my family and my children with obscene phone calls because people are lying about me.”

In another Senate hearing, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) harassed DOJ members. He recently became a worshipper of Fox’s Tucker Carlson after the host disapproved of Cruz’s statement about the January 6 riot being an act of “domestic terrorism.” Carlson said that calling the insurrection “terrorism” is “a lie.” To gain Carlson’s approval, Cruz not only reversed his description of the insurrection, but also went full-throated by damning a new DOJ task force dedicated to domestic terrorism, doubling in the past year.

Talking about the new DOJ unit, Cruz used Carlson’s lies to ask questions about January 6, as well as conservative screenshots of an Arizona man, Ray Epps, who was, according to conspiracy theorists, a federal agent involved in the attack. Cruz demanded information about the participation of FBI agents or informants in the crowd who “deliberately encouraged illegal violent conduct on January 6.” He insisted Epps was an informant and wanted to know about other FBI agents or informants in the January 6 crowd, if they participated in criminal activity and encouraged “violent criminal conduct.” He was told the DOJ couldn’t discuss those matters. Talking to Carlson, Cruz had ranted, “They want to paint us as Nazis!” and bragged he was “leading the fight in the Senate against the garbage.”

The January 6 committee already interviewed Epps. He said he has never worked with or for any law enforcement agency and never been an informant for any law enforcement agency including the FBI. Despite facts about Epps’ background to the contrary, Carlson claimed Cruz’s questions proved that “DOJ had some role in the events of January 6.” Carlson has already escaped a lawsuit accusing him of lying on his program after the judge declared he was only entertainment and no one should believe anything he says.

People should definitely not believe Carlson’s latest cure for COVID, the penis-lifting Viagra. Carlson cited a woman in the UK who came out of a coma have being given massive doses of the medication. CNN’s Jim Acosta commented, “I suppose some people will justify those prescriptions with just about anything” and continued that Carlson’s show “really should come with a Surgeon General’s warning for disinformation.” Male overdosing on the medication can cause prolonged erections, known as priapism, nausea, chest pains and irregular heartbeat. The penis can become permanently damaged, causing future erections, if priapism is not treated with 24 hours. A Columbia man had to have his penis amputated from gangrene after he suffered priapism from too much Viagra.  Using the drug has been linked to vision and hearing loss, heart complications, and melanoma.

Another anti-vaxxer swears by drinking one’s own urine as a cure. Christopher Key claims his idea comes from “tons and tons of research.” The research? Blood goes through the liver which removes toxins, dead cells, and other waste before pumping through the kidneys, which extract excess fluid water-soluble molecules—nitrogen, vitamins, minerals, proteins, antibodies, and other metabolites—before transferring them to the bladder. Urine is not sterile when it leaves the body; the urinary tract hosts bacterial colonies. Believers are the same people who won’t wear masks—and don’t want to put vaccine in their bodies.

MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell wants to put “300 million” American people into prison for life because of election fraud. [In 2020, 159 million people voted, and the U.S. census counted 321 million people, including children.] He also repeated his promise that his case is going to the Supreme Court in the next seven months. He said:

“Evil is revealing itself. Evil is popping up like pocket gophers. They pop their heads up, it’s whack-a-mole. It’s everywhere.”

Lindell has spent $25 million since the election to find fraud and is being sued by Dominion voting machines for $1.2 billion. He said he didn’t care if it was a “scrillion.” Lindell reports he’s spending a million dollars a month to support his new election “go-to hub,” spreading DDT’s election lies, and another $250,000 a month for the new election-conspiracy group Cause of America. It’s operated by two women at the Capitol insurrection. The group promises a lawsuit to force a “full forensic audit” of the 2020 election like the one in Arizona.

Lindell had to cancel his Monday night program, the Lindell Report, because of illness.

October 5, 2021

‘Pandora Papers’ Expose the Elite, South Dakota

Huge stories tend to disappear as soon as another one comes into the media; i.e., the shift from the Pandora Papers tax haven scandal morphing into the Facebook scandal. Because the latter directly affects more people in the U.S., it will dominate the media until the Senate Republicans cause a recession by blocking an increase in the debt ceiling, necessary because of their debts with Deposed Donald Trump (DDT). Therefore, Pandora first.

In Works and Days (ca. 700 BC), Hesiod wrote about the Greek mythology of Pandora, whose curiosity was so great that she opened a “box,” actually a large storage jar, left in the care of her husband, Epimetheus. Out came curses such as sickness and death. The message from the story is that opening a Pandora’s box will create many unforeseen problems. Thus the name for this last Sunday’s revelations called “Pandora’s Papers.”

Based on nearly 12 million documents, almost 3 terabytes of data from five continents, the report on hidden financial dealings of the elite and corrupt using offshore accounts to conceal trillions of dollars was prepared by over 600 journalists from 150 media outlets in 117 countries. They searched files from over 29,000 offshore accounts held by over 130 Forbes-identified billionaires and 330 current and former politicians in 14 offshore service providers around the world. Involved were 35 world leaders including Jordan’s King Abdullah II, former U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair, Czech Republic Prime Minister Andrej Babis, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, and Ecuador’s President Guillermo Lasso; others are associates of both Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan and Russian President Vladimir Putin, Turkish construction mogul Erman Ilicak, and former CEO of software maker Reynolds & Reynolds Robert T. Brockman. Prominent athletes, models, and artists including India’s famous cricketer Sachin Tendulkar, pop music star Shakira, and supermodel Claudia Schiffer also hide their assets in these offshore accounts reported in the Pandora Papers.

Contracts, spreadsheets, memos, incorporation records, share certificates, compliance reports, emails—even complex diagrams of corporate structures—from 14 world-wide internet servers provided details of schemes to conceal assets from creditors, investigators, taxation, and people. Many of the records reveal the real owners of shell companies for the first time. Complicit in the sheltering of assets are banks, law firms, accountants, and the countries which permit the secrecy. In the U.S. alone, journalists found 206 U.S. trusts in 15 states and Washington, D.C. from 22 trustee companies.

A major location in the U.S., South Dakota, “rivals Switzerland, Panama, the Cayman Islands, and other famous tax havens as a premier venue for the international rich seeking to protect their assets from local taxes or the authorities.” The state’s low taxes and highly generous trust laws lead the world’s billionaires to that location, according to Chuck Collins, author of The Wealth Hoarders: How Billionaires Pay Millions to Hide Trillions. For example, Horst Happel, fined $88 million in 2016 for underpaying workers at his Brazilian orange juice company, moved many of his assets to South Dakota the next year. The state also became the location for trusts moved from the Bahamas and set up by Carlos Morales Troncoso, former vice president of the Dominican Republican and accused of human rights violations at his sugar company, Central Romana. Through these trusts, wealth can be hidden for generations and even centuries. 

Suzanne Garment, author of Scandal: The Culture of Mistrust in American Politics, wrote about South Dakota’s successfully abolishing limits of a trust’s lifespan by making them permanently private. Other popular states for hiding assets are Alaska, Delaware, Florida, Nevada, New Hampshire, and Texas. According to Collins, these places make the United States “the weak link now in the system of global financial transparency.”

Writing about all the hidden assets, tax policy lead at Susana Ruiz at Oxfam International stated:

“This is where our missing hospitals are. This is where the pay-packets sit of all the extra teachers and firefighters and public servants we need. Whenever a politician or business leader claims there is ‘no money’ to pay for climate damage and innovation, for more and better jobs, for a fair post-Covid recovery, for more overseas aid, they know where to look.

Tax havens cost governments around the world $427 billion each year. That is the equivalent of a nurse’s yearly salary every second of every hour, every day. Ordinary taxpayers have to pick up the pieces. Developing countries are being hardest hit, proportionately.”

OxFam wants world governments to end these tax havens with these steps:

  • End tax secrecy on individuals, offshores, and multinational corporations.
  • Set up a public register on the real owners of bank accounts, trusts, shell companies, and assets.
  • Require multinational corporations to publicly report their accounts where they do business, country-by-country.
  • Increase the use of automatic exchange, allowing revenue authorities access to information they need to track the money.
  • End corporate profit shifting to tax havens via new rules, and by setting a global minimum tax under the OECD’s BEPS deal, ideally of around 25%.
  • Agree on a global blacklist of tax havens and take counter measures, including sanctions, to limit their use.
  • Set a new global agenda on taxing wealth and capital fairly while addressing tax competition between countries on high-net-worth-individuals, either on income or wealth, against agreed standards.

A few findings in the Pandora Papers:

  • The largest law firm in the U.S., Baker McKenzie, helped created the modern offshore scheme with extensive financial system lobbying.
  • A Panama firm, ALCOGAL, helped banks through the world create thousands of offshore accounts for hiding money.
  • The large U.S. bank Morgan Stanley asked ALCOGAL to set up 312 companies in the British Virgin Islands.
  • Noted museums, including New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, contain looted Cambodian antiquities trafficked through U.S. art trader Douglas Latchford’s offshore trust.
  • Jordan’s King Abdullah II bought $106 million worth of luxury homes in the U.S. and UK including three Malibu beachfront homes as well as $10 million worth of condominiums in Washington, D.C.’s Georgetown neighborhood.
  • Cyprus president, Nicos Anastasiades, founded a law firm accused of hiding the assets of a controversial Russian billionaire behind fake company owners.
  • Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis used shell companies to purchase a $22 million chateau near Cannes in 2009. Babis is up for re-election this week.  

Although offshore accounts may not be illegal by themselves, tax evaders, fraudsters, and money launderers often take advantage of their secrecy. Countries are also deprived of tax revenue when money, at least $11.3 trillion in wealth, is concealed offshore. Australia, Britain, and Pakistan plan to investigate the revelations.

On Friday, Congressional members plan to introduce the ENABLERS Act, to attack global corruption, part of which denies corrupt foreign officials safe haven. The announcement came from Reps. John Curtis (R-UT) and Tom Malinowski (D-NJ), co-chairs of a new caucus against kleptocracy. The GOP co-lead of the bill may be Rep. Maria Salazar (R-FL), daughter of Cuban exiles familiar with autocrats in the Western Hemisphere. The main provision would require lawyers, investment advisers, art dealers, realtors, accounts, public relations firms—those identified in financial corruption—to perform “due diligence” to ensure their clients aren’t using money of suspicious origin; i.e., proceeds of crime. Banks are supposedly already bound by this requirement. Industries, however, can be expected to fight back against such mandates, and many Republicans will complain about regulations. 

According to Josh Rudolph, a corruption expert with the Alliance for Securing Democracy at the German Marshall Fund, other countries with similar regulations require these entities to “have compliance officers, trainings, audits, and controls reasonably designed to spot potential money laundering by identifying customers, scrutinizing transactions, keeping records, and reporting suspicious activity to the government.” In the U.S., some anti-corruption legislation has moved forward, for example into the House-approved version of the National Defense Authorization:

  • Require the administration to evaluate 35 people linked to Putin for potential sanctions.
  • Counter efforts by other countries to abuse tools offered by Interpol.
  • Require reporting on how other countries are battling corruption.
  • Simplify publicizing names of allegedly corrupt officials facing U.S. visa bans.
  • Regularly publicize how much money stolen from other countries is recovered by U.S. law enforcement.
  • Reauthorize the Global Magnitsky Act, permitting economic sanctions on corrupt individuals and human rights abusers.

President Joe Biden is currently writing rules for a law, passed during DDT’s term, banning the anonymous registration of shell companies, major drivers of the corruption identified in the Pandora Papers. A goal in the upcoming virtual Summit for Democracy for world leaders on December 9-10, 2021.

The current administration, however, may be too weak to help the U.S. democracy and block corruption. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has told Democrats that paying DDT’s debts from the past term is their entire responsibility and then blocks them from doing it by involking the filibuster. Current Republicans would rather destroy the country than come up with ideas that might get them elected.  

September 12, 2021

Thoughts about 9/11 on Its 20th Anniversary

Yesterday saw no foreign attacks on the 20th anniversary of “9/11,” the date when 19 hijackers, including 15 men from Saudi Arabia, used airplanes to attack the United States, including at New York City’s World Trade Center. Following the death of approximately 3,000 people in the attacks, George W. Bush, appointed to president by five Supreme Court justices after a voting debacle in Florida, started two preemptive wars, one almost immediately in Afghanistan and the second 17 months later in Iraq. Almost 20 years later, the media has been consumed with President Joe Biden ending the Afghanistan conflict and air-lifting over 123,000 people out of the country. For 20 years, the power of 9/11 has loomed over the United States with no need to identify the year. 

After 20 years, the U.S. administration has admitted that domestic terrorism is a far bigger threat to the U.S. than international terrorism: QAnon conspiracy theories and white supremacy, promoted by conservative media such as the Fox network, proliferate throughout the nation with violent attacks. For years, conservatives were convinced that terror came only from outside the country as they ignored the growth of global anti-government extremism, and Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) protected QAnon believers and white supremacists because they were his voting base.

After a number of mass shootings, the Department of Homeland Security finally admitted the threats of domestic violent extremism, especially white supremacy, at the end of DDT’s term, and the conservatives’ attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6 confirmed their position. Cynthia Miller-Idriss, an expert in the field of polarization and extremism, explains the greater danger of domestic violent extremism: combined of “coherent ideologies,” it lacks the hierarchical organization of jihadi extremism. Run by online youth satire with a “countercultural, edgy resistance,” it uses faux-patriotic language of freedom, constitutional defense, and revolutionary action to grow the illegal militia movement. Participants are people dissatisfied with traditional authority, such as COVID lockdown and mask mandates, and are willing to violently oppose anything they don’t like. They spread disinformation from history, such as Holocaust denial, and from scientific theory, such as racism, through conspiracy theories.

Domestic terrorism moved from fringe to mainstream. People need training “to recognize and resist propaganda, disinformation, and the persuasive tactics of extremist rhetoric” as well as addressing social and political issues driving extremists’ grievances. “The widespread availability of weapons and a lack of effective gun control,” according to Miller-Idriss, has increased the domestic terrorism.

Twenty years ago conservatives hated the Taliban; now they want to emulate the Taliban in taking over the U.S. Domestic dissidents plan a rally on September 18 to celebrate the hundreds of criminals who attacked the U.S. Capitol on January 6 to overturn the presidential election. The economy isn’t to blame: many of those involved in the movement have expensive cars and homes—like the St. Louis couple who pointed AR-15 rifles at peaceful protesters walking on the sidewalk in front of their McMansion home. As conservative David Frum, who wrote speeches of fear for George W. Bush’s victorious campaign, observed:  

“If conservatives become convinced that they cannot win democratically, they will not abandon conservatism. They will reject democracy.”

William Rivers Pitt points out that these former conservatives have even deserted the conservative beliefs. To them, people like John McCain, Mitt Romney, John Boehner, and Bush are left-leaning; now those who call themselves conservatives threaten election and school board officials with physical harm and death if they don’t do exactly what “conservatives” want them to do. “We will find you!” has become the far-right meme screamed at their elected officials. And Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), once a close friend of Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), claims the U.S. will return to the Middle East and attack Afghanistan.

About the changes since 9/11/2001, Jonathan Last wrote this for the conservative Bulwark website:

“We have a minority-rule dynamic that did not exist 20 years ago. We have one political party that is explicitly anti-democratic in that its macro-strategy is no longer winning more votes, but winning by restricting voting and playing games with vote-counting and apportionment. We have some significant chunk of that political party which is nakedly authoritarian. And we have just lived through our government’s first failure at a peaceful transfer of power since the Civil War—a crisis that was serious enough to alarm senior military leaders that a coup might be in process.”

The events of 9/11 caused people in the U.S. to bond with W. Bush and other Republicans coming out on top in their battle against foreigners. Then the GOP stood for national security. Now the party represents what people call “freedom” and individualism, ignoring the common good and public safety while letting hundreds of thousands of people die from politicized anger about a small piece of cloth. Gone is any concern with vigilance and protection while danger from disease is ridiculed as non-existent. DDT hid any threat, silenced people attempting to warn the public, opposed testing, and mocked masks. His political attacks on anyone trying to warn people about COVID’s danger polarized the entire country.

DDT lost his election, but GOP leaders in Congress such as House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) accuse public health measure as “government control,” a GOP bugaboo. The GOP movement against public health has been far more effective than the 9/11 attack—3,000 deaths then compared to at least 677,000 deaths from COVID in 18 months and the equivalent to 9/11 every two days. The GOP proves it is no longer a party of national security.

Six years before 9/11, people watched domestic terrorism by government-hating extremists when two white U.S. citizens blew up a federal building in Oklahoma City, killing at least 168 people. While the FBI devoted only 20 percent of its counterterrorism agents to domestic terrorism, these homegrown extremists killed more people in the U.S. with more attacks than international terrorists. Yet the terrorist statute doesn’t cover these terrorists with no one of the hundreds of people arrested is charged with terrorism. Even white supremacist Dylann Roof, who killed nine Black people at a Bible study didn’t receive a terrorism charge. Laws since the Oklahoma City bombing target international terrorists but not neo-Nazi groups or other domestic extremists. Social media platforms communicate domestic terrorism, and GOP governors are passing laws to allow posts to incite this violence in the name of protecting conservatism.  

DDT, criticized for spending the day calling a boxing match on 9/11, tried to redeem his self-esteem by repeating lies about 9/11. He “helped” after the attacks and “brought a “big crew” while he was “down there” near the World Trade Center, a claim with no evidence, and he lied about donating to support 9/11 victims. He did make a new claim, that he heard “creaks,” probably the “United States Steel Building … 50 stories tall” and said, “That building is going to come down.” DDT actually got a $150,000 grant for his property near the site, claiming it was “reimbursement” for helping to shelter people at the building. Paperwork shows he really claimed “rent loss,” “cleanup,” and “repairs.”

Striking a pugilistic tone, DDT avoided the Ground Zero official ceremony but briefly appeared In front of first responders at the 17th Precinct station house. He ignored his denigration of the police at the U.S. Capitol on January 6 and said: 

“I’ll say it loud. You know, you’re not supposed to say that. We love the blue.”

Others honoring first responders yesterday in their remarks included Biden, VP Kamala Harris, W. Bush, and President Obama.

DDT’s live pay-per-view commentary for the Saturday night boxing match between 58-year-old Evander Holyfield and 44-year-old former UFC lightweight champion Vitor Belfort didn’t take long: Holyfield lost to Belfort’s TKO in the first round. After that event, DDT moved on to speak at the “Rally of Hope,” presented by Unification Church, a cult group often called the “Moonies” with deep ties to the GOP, where he praised the founders for “peace all other the world.” DDT also took credit for improving the security situation in the Korean peninsula and instigating “a policy of unprecedented strength” for the U.S. Jim Stewartson, founder of the anti-disinformation organization The Think Project, wrote on Twitter that the event was “deeply harmful and deceptive.” Former cult members described the group’s indoctrination process. Worshipping while carrying AR-15 rifles, the group has a 40-acre “safe haven” in Texas for “patriots.” 

The FBI released its first document about 9/11 in fewer than ten days after Biden’s executive order to make some files public. The heavily redacted report from April 2016 was about the supporting role from the Saudi Arabian government for the hijackers. Information came from November 2015 interviews. In 2004, the 9/11 Commission Report described little evidence about the link between Saudi Arabia government and the hijackers, but the FBI launched an investigation, Operation Encore, in 2006 for a decade. Watch for the release of more of these documents.

June 27, 2021

DDT’s Life Goes Downhill

In his first rally since Joe Biden became president of the United States, Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) whined and ranted through 90 minutes of lies about being defrauded out of his re-election and his bad treatment since he lost the election on what he called his “revenge” tour. Mainstream networks avoided DDT’s rally speech although CSPAN ran it as part of his presidential campaign for 2024, and people left the rally before he was finished.

Two days after DDT delivered his lies, the Trump Organization “will be criminally charged” and “will have faced criminal charges” from an investigation by the Southern District of New York City. Charges will deal with whether taxes were paid on the company’s fringe benefits for a top executive and false valuations of properties to obtain large loans and pay small taxes.  

Prosecutors gave DDT until tomorrow afternoon to make final arguments about why DDT’s business should not face these criminal charges. The Trump Organization, controlled by a DDT-owned trust, uses a web of hundreds of individual limited liability corporations. The case against the company is moving forward because DDT’s CEO Allen Weisselberg wasn’t “cooperating.” Weisselberg went to Trump Tower while DDT was in residence. 

Since the investigation into DDT and his business, most of its longtime employees, DDT’s family members who worked there, and some of his protectors such as former lawyer Michael Cohen left. After being his fixer for decades, Cohen turned on DDT. Now DDT works at the business, mostly alone, with two assistants and a few body men. A grand jury, convened earlier this year, is to consider indictments from the investigation.

Indictments could financially destroy DDT and his family, driving DDT into bankruptcy. DDT almost may owe hundreds of millions of dollars to the IRS, and his loans of hundreds of millions of dollars to foreign banks like the Chinese are coming due soon. Even without criminal indictments of the Trump Organization, DDT’s money-making could be shut down.

Rudy Giuliani’s former lawyer, replacement for Cohen, is also in trouble: the New York Supreme Court suspended his law license, and he can not practice law at this time. He faces disbarment for making “demonstrably false and misleading statements” while pushing DDT’s multiple court cases challenging the legal 2020 election. The court called Giuliani an “immediate threat” to the public who had “directly inflamed” the tensions leading to the January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. “This country is being torn apart by continued attacks on the legitimacy of the 2020 election and of our current president, Joseph R. Biden,” according to the court. 

DDT angrily attacked “the same court that would handle any appeals in any prosecution the Manhattan DA may bring against the Trump Organization or any of its principals or employees,” according to George Conway’s tweet.

Examples of Giuliani’s incompetence and dishonesty:

Told a court that voter fraud cost DDT the election before Giuliani admitted he isn’t claiming voter fraud.

Defended lies about absentee ballots by saying he sincerely believed the lies at one time.

Lied to a court about a dead boxer voting in Philadelphia.

Claimed underage Georgia residents gave President Joe Biden up to 165,000 votes when the number was zero.

Repeatedly claimed “a few hundred thousand” undocumented immigrants voted for Biden in Arizona after being told no data existed to support his statement.

Giuliani is bringing down others with him.  FBI agents searched the home of George Dickson, a marijuana entrepreneur who worked with Giuliani for financing a documentary, never completed, to present the lies about Joe and Hunter Biden’s corruption in Ukraine. Giuliani thought the film would kill Biden’s chances to be elected. Federal prosecutors are probing Giuliani’s actions for violating foreign lobbying laws when he worked with former Ukrainian government officials and Russian agents to spread lies about false allegations about Biden.

DDT has faced a few others disasters:

A Georgia Superior Court dismissed seven of nine claims in a lawsuit alleging 147,000 fraudulent ballots were cast in the Fulton County 2020 election. Two of them were argued under a different claim, but the Fulton County elections board intends to file to get those claims dismissed as well. The ballots have been legally audited three times, including one hand recount with finding no evidence of widespread fraud.

The United States AG, Merrick Garland, announced a DOJ lawsuit against Georgia for its new anti-voting laws. Garland stated Georgia’s law was intended to be discriminatory against people of color instead of doing so accidentally. The DOJ is also following anti-voting bills and laws in other states for possible more lawsuits, according to Garland. Federal prosecutors are to make voter intimidation a priority, and Georgia may end up on preclearance requirements again. As states move to strip powers from elected secretaries of state, the DOJ lawsuit plans concrete steps to protect their legal powers.

In another move, the DOJ has established a task force to deal with the growing threats against election workers. In a number of states—including Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin—intimidation and threats have resulted in these officials’ early retirement. Pennsylvania lost at least one-third of county election officials. Last May during the Pennsylvania municipal primary, new election directors with no experience or knowledge took control. Untrained staffers can make mistakes programming races into the right districts, and the ignorance can lead to lack of consistency. Some counties haven’t even replaced election directors who resigned.

But it’s not just high-profile officials. One-third of election officials don’t feel safe in their jobs, and one-fifth have received death threats related to their jobs. Garland said, “The right to vote is the cornerstone of our democracy, the right from which all other rights ultimately flow.” In Georgia, new ordinances or state laws have removed or eliminated positions of members of at least ten county election boards, mostly Democrats and some people of color. Republicans have largely replaced these people.  

The DOJ also told Missouri that states cannot overturn federal laws after Republicans passed a law not to enforce federal gun laws in the state. Gov. Mike Parsons signed the bill fining any local law enforcement agency $50,000 if it enforces federal gun laws and regulations constituting “infringements” of the Second Amendment. The DOJ told Missouri the U.S. Constitution’s Supremacy Clause outweighs Parson’s measure. Missouri’s law doesn’t even refer to current federal law; GOP legislators merely passed the law in case Congress passed a law that Missouri didn’t like. Eight other states have already passed similar laws, and Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) said federal legislators should not pass any laws that any states would consider “nullifying.”

Other GOP governors are trying to keep members of Congress from supporting voting rights by lying about the proposed federal bill and their own anti-voting laws:

Florida: Ron DeSantis claimed that the laws were passed “so that someone can’t dump 100,000 votes two or three days later.” It didn’t happen, and DeSantis didn’t try to identify when his claim occurred. Sen. Rick Scott had falsely claimed in his 2018 race that “they found 95,000 votes after election night.”

Georgia: Brian Kemp claimed the new restrictions on drop boxes expanded the number, but it limits the number of drop boxes per county to “either one drop box for every 100,000 registered voters or the number of advance voting locations.” Larger counties, predominantly Black, are limited to 23 or fewer drop boxes, down from 94 in the 2020 election. Drop boxes, available only during early voting hours, are located inside. My Oregon county in Oregon has seven drop boxes, one per 5,467 voters, accessible 24 hours a day.

Arizona: Doug Ducey said no one loses their right to vote with Arizona’s new law, but the state automatically removes everyone from the early voter list, determining who receives mail ballots, if they don’t vote in a two-year cycle, removing over 100,000 Arizonans.

The Arizona ballot “fraudit” or ballot count or whatever is over after two painful months, but news about it is still available. Doug Logan, head of Cyber Ninjas running the operation, has claimed to be completely unbiased, but his possible appearance in the documentary Deep Rig belies his claims. Directed by a man whose work claims aliens were behind the 9/11 attack, the current conspiracy theorist film trying to prove the 2020 presidential election was rigged againt DDT uses Logan as the voice of “Anon.” 

The star of the film, Patrick Byrne, wrote the book used for the documentary and is working to get $2.8 million funding for the Arizona fake audit. Former Secretary of State Ken Bennett, liaison for the “fraudit,” also took part in the film. The movie showed scenes of the audit floor, including close-ups of ballots with clearly visible choices, although a journalist was thrown out of the counting site for accidentally taking a photograph of this. Some GOP lawmakers, including Senate President Karen Fann, attended the premier of the film, filled with QAnon conspiracy theories and other lies about voter fraud.

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.

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