October 4, 2017

Posted by orrinj at 7:23 PM


Ivanka and Donald Trump Jr. Were Close to Being Charged With Felony Fraud   (Jesse Eisinger and Justin Elliott, ProPublica, and Andrea Bernstein and Ilya Marritz, WNYC Oct. 4, 2017)

In one email, according to four people who have seen it, the Trumps discussed how to coordinate false information they had given to prospective buyers. In another, according to a person who read the emails, they worried that a reporter might be onto them. In yet another, Donald Jr. spoke reassuringly to a broker who was concerned about the false statements, saying that nobody would ever find out, because only people on the email chain or in the Trump Organization knew about the deception, according to a person who saw the email.

There was "no doubt" that the Trump children "approved, knew of, agreed to, and intentionally inflated the numbers to make more sales," one person who saw the emails told us. "They knew it was wrong."

In 2010, when the Major Economic Crimes Bureau of the D.A.'s office opened an investigation of the siblings, the Trump Organization had hired several top New York criminal defense lawyers to represent Donald Jr. and Ivanka. These attorneys had met with prosecutors in the bureau several times. They conceded that their clients had made exaggerated claims, but argued that the overstatements didn't amount to criminal misconduct. Still, the case dragged on. In a meeting with the defense team, Donald Trump, Sr., expressed frustration that the investigation had not been closed. Soon after, his longtime personal lawyer, Marc Kasowitz entered the case.

Kasowitz, who by then had been the elder Donald Trump's attorney for a decade, is primarily a civil litigator with little experience in criminal matters. But in 2012, Kasowitz donated $25,000 to the reelection campaign of Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., making Kasowitz one of Vance's largest donors. Kasowitz decided to bypass the lower level prosecutors and went directly to Vance to ask that the investigation be dropped.

On May 16, 2012, Kasowitz visited Vance's office at One Hogan Place in downtown Manhattan -- a faded edifice made famous by the television show, "Law & Order." Dan Alonso, the chief assistant district attorney, and Adam Kaufmann, the chief of the investigative division, were also at the meeting, but no one from the Major Economic Crimes Bureau attended. Kasowitz did not introduce any new arguments or facts during his session. He simply repeated the arguments that the other defense lawyers had been making for months.

Ultimately, Vance overruled his own prosecutors. Three months after the meeting, he told them to drop the case. Kasowitz subsequently boasted to colleagues about representing the Trump children, according to two people. He said that the case was "really dangerous," one person said, and that it was "amazing I got them off." 

Posted by orrinj at 7:21 PM


Trump, Sanders Supporters Join Together to Protest Clinton Book Tour Event (Cameron Cawthorne, October 4, 2017, Free Beacon)

Supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) and President Donald Trump participated in a bipartisan protest of two-time failed presidential candidate Hillary Clinton outside of her book tour event in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. on Tuesday.

Posted by orrinj at 7:00 PM


Today Tillerson Tried To Kill The "Rexit" Rumors Once And For All (John Hudson, October 4, 2017, BuzzFeed News)

One US official expressed confidence in Tillerson's status due to a so-called "suicide pact" forged between Defense Secretary James Mattis, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, and Tillerson, whereby all three cabinet secretaries vow to leave in the event that the president makes moves against one of them.

It does not get any more awesome than being confident of the secretary's status because he and his peers have clandestinely plotted how to deal with Donald's derangement.

Posted by orrinj at 1:25 PM


U.S. Republican lawmakers examining barriers to Puerto Rico recovery: source (Reuters, 10/04/17) 

U.S. Republicans in Congress are looking into additional ways of lifting barriers to Puerto Rico's recovery after Hurricane Maria devastated the U.S. territory last month, said a House of Representatives Republican aide on Wednesday.

Posted by orrinj at 1:21 PM


A tale of two Puerto Ricos: What Trump saw -- and what he didn't (Arelis R. Hernández and Jenna Johnson October 4, 2017, The Washington Post)

It wasn't until after Air Force One took off Tuesday that the government updated its official death toll from 16 to 34, allowing reality to once again settle on an island that maneuvered itself into the most flattering light possible for the president's visit. [...]

As he handed out some smaller flashlights, he declared: "Flashlights -- you don't need 'em anymore. You don't need 'em anymore." [...]

The church is also distributing water purification kits, and a member explained the process to the president.

"Wait," Trump said, "you put it in dirty water?"

"And then you can drink it after 10 to 12 hours," she explained.

"Would you do it? Would you drink it?" he asked.

"Sure," she said.

"Really?" Trump said, a disgusted look coming across his face.

"Really," she said.

"Is this your company or something?" Trump asked the woman, seeming suspicious of the aggressive pitch.

"No," she said, "I'm part of the church."

Amen, Rex.

Posted by orrinj at 11:26 AM


Less than a third of Americans approve of Trump's handling of the Puerto Rico crisis (Jeva Lange, 10/04/17, The Week)

Americans widely disapprove of the way President Trump is handling the ongoing crisis in Puerto Rico, a new Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll has found. Only 32 percent of Americans approve of Trump's handling of the hurricane aftermath, while 49 percent disapprove. Comparatively, Americans think the administration has responded far better to hurricanes that hit the mainland, with only 27 percent disapproving of how Trump handled recovery in Texas and Florida.

In November folks could still pretend not to know what he is. Not anymore.

Posted by orrinj at 10:03 AM


Top Hezbollah commander killed fighting IS in Syria (AP, October 4, 2017)

Lebanon's terror group Hezbollah says one of its top commanders has been killed while fighting Islamic State militants in Syria.

The 44-year-old Ali Al-Hadi Al-Ashiq is the latest fatality for the Shiite group that has fought alongside Syrian government forces in the civil war next door since 2012.

Posted by orrinj at 9:52 AM


NBC: Tillerson called Trump a "moron," almost resigned (Shane Savitsky, 10/04/17, Axios)

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson almost resigned over the summer around the time of President Trump's controversial speech at the Boy Scouts' Jamboree, according to an NBC News report. Tillerson also reportedly called Trump a "f***ing moron" following a national security meeting at the Pentagon in July, as NBC News' Stephanie Ruhle told Hugh Hewitt.

He's neck and neck with Beauregard for staffer with least self-respect.

Posted by orrinj at 7:04 AM


Mueller Tasks an Adviser With Getting Ahead of Pre-Emptive Pardons (Greg Farrell, 10/03/17, Bloomberg)

U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller has a distinctly modern problem. The president, judging by his tweets, could try to pardon people in his circle even before prosecutors charge anyone with a crime.

Mueller's all-star team of prosecutors, with expertise in money laundering and foreign bribery, has an answer to that. He's Michael Dreeben, a bookish career government lawyer with more than 100 Supreme Court appearances under his belt.

Acting as Mueller's top legal counsel, Dreeben has been researching past pardons and determining what, if any, limits exist, according to a person familiar with the matter.