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Re: Secret Money: How Trump Made Millions Selling Condos To Unknown Buyers
« Reply #1080 on: January 17, 2018, 05:13:45 AM »
Son of Follow the Money. Some seriously well-researched journalism by Thomas Frank.

Secret Money: How Trump Made Millions Selling Condos To Unknown Buyers

Lincoln Agnew for BuzzFeed News

Secret Money: How Trump Made Millions Selling Condos To Unknown Buyers

A BuzzFeed News review of every sale of a Trump-branded condominium in the United States provides the first comprehensive look at how many went to unidentified buyers who paid cash, an indication of possible money laundering.

Posted on
Thomas Frank
Thomas Frank
BuzzFeed News Reporter
Washington, DC
Reporting From
Washington, DC

More than one-fifth of Donald Trump’s US condominiums have been purchased since the 1980s in secretive, all-cash transactions that enable buyers to avoid legal scrutiny by shielding their finances and identities, a BuzzFeed News investigation has found.

Records show that more than 1,300 Trump condominiums were bought not by people but by shell companies, and that the purchases were made without a mortgage, avoiding inquiries from lenders.

Those two characteristics signal that a buyer may be laundering money, the Treasury Department has said in a series of statements since 2016. Treasury’s financial-crimes unit has, in recent years, launched investigations around the country into all-cash shell-company real-estate purchases amid concerns that some such sales may involve money laundering. The agency is considering requiring real-estate professionals to adopt anti-money-laundering programs.

All-cash purchases by shell companies do not by themselves indicate illegal or improper activity, and they have become more common in recent years in both Trump buildings and other luxury home sales across the United States. Developers such as Trump have no obligation to scrutinize their purchasers or their funding sources.

But federal investigations “continue to reveal corrupt politicians, drug traffickers and other criminals using shell companies to purchase luxury real estate with cash,” Treasury’s former financial-crimes chief Jennifer Shasky Calvery said at a Capitol Hill hearing in 2016.

Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) broadcast that concern in an August 2017 advisory to the real-estate industry warning that all-cash real-estate purchases by shell companies are “an attractive avenue for criminals to launder illegal proceeds while masking their identities.”

Neither the White House nor the Trump Organization responded to repeated requests for comment. A former longtime Trump Organization official who asked not to be named said that all-cash shell-company purchases are common among rich buyers, particularly foreigners trying to put their money in safe investments.

Trump condo sales that match Treasury’s characteristics of possible money laundering totaled $1.5 billion, BuzzFeed News calculated. They accounted for 21% of the 6,400 Trump condos sold in the US. Those figures include condos that Trump developed as well as condos that others developed in his name under licensing deals that pay Trump a fee or a percentage of sales.

Hundreds of Trump condo sales have characteristics that experts warn may be indicative of money laundering.

Some of the secretive sales date back more than three decades, long before recent worries that Russians tried to influence Trump by pouring millions of dollars into his businesses.

But a months-long BuzzFeed News examination of every Trump condominium sale in the US shows that such sales surged in the late 2000s and early 2010s, when some Trump businesses were in financial trouble and when Donald Trump Jr. made his now-famous remark about the Trump Organization seeing “a lot of money pouring in from Russia.”

The surge was driven by the opening of 11 Trump condo buildings between 2008 and 2010 as Trump shifted his real-estate business from developing high-rises to licensing them. Nine were Trump-licensed, and they drew hundreds of shell companies that paid an average of $1.2 million in cash for a condo. In six of the licensed buildings, cash-paying shell companies bought at least a third of the condos, records show.

It’s not clear how much Trump received from the sale of Trump-licensed condos, but when Trump announced his candidacy in 2015, he said his “real estate licensing deals” and other brands were worth $3.3 billion.

At the Trump SoHo Hotel Condominium New York in Manhattan, 77% of the sales were to shell companies that paid cash. One of the project’s Russia-born developers was convicted of money laundering in the 1990s. A pending lawsuit calls Trump SoHo a “monument to spectacularly corrupt money-laundering and tax evasion,” though it says in a footnote that “there is no evidence that Trump took any part in, or knew of, their racketeering.”

Trump was a minority owner in the project, whose developers have denied any impropriety.

Hundreds of the secretive Trump condo sales contain additional characteristics that FinCEN and experts warn may be indicative of money laundering.

  • More than $205 million in sales were to corporations based in foreign jurisdictions known for keeping corporate records and banking information secret. The corporations were based mostly in the British Virgin Islands and Panama, two places the Treasury Department has linked to money laundering. Other jurisdictions include Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Cyprus, Gibraltar, Guernsey, Hong Kong, Isle of Man, Jersey, Luxembourg, Monaco, Netherlands Antilles, Switzerland, and St. Vincent and Grenadines.
  • Corporations registered in Delaware, which FinCEN says provides “the least transparency” with corporate records of any state, bought an additional 75 Trump condos in all-cash sales that totaled $129 million. “If the corporation is set up in places where there’s some level of confidentiality, which includes Delaware, that’s another red flag,” John Madinger, a retired Treasury official and IRS special agent who investigated financial crimes, said, speaking generally about property sales.
  • Eighty-three percent of the secretive sales occurred in markets that FinCEN is investigating for possible money laundering in real estate sales. In those markets – Manhattan, South Florida, and Honolulu – FinCEN is examining every luxury-home sale to a shell company that paid cash.
  • At least 28 shell companies resold their Trump properties within six months of buying them in cash. The National Association of Realtors says that immediate resales can indicate money laundering, “especially if the resale price is significantly higher or lower than the original purchase price.”

At the Trump International Hotel and Tower in Manhattan, a shell company bought a nine-room condo for $2.26 million on Sept. 10, 1997, and sold it eight weeks later to another shell company – for $3 million, a 33% gain.

In Miami-Dade County, Florida, a shell company bought a two-bedroom condo in a Trump-licensed building on Aug. 12, 2010, for $956,768. The company sold the condo to another shell company for $525,000 that same day.

  • Half of the secretive sales – with a total value of $769 million – were made to a particularly opaque type of shell company called a limited-liability company, or LLC, which FinCEN says is “inherently vulnerable to abuse.”
  • Thirty-nine secretive sales were for more than $5 million in current dollars – an amount that one anti-money-laundering advocate says should prompt a seller to scrutinize the buyer. All but four of the sales were in buildings that Trump developed, earning him $241 million.

“It’s not that common for someone to buy expensive real estate with cash, and if it’s a shell company, you want to find out who the buyer is and the sources of their funds,” said Shruti Shah, vice president of programs and operations at the Coalition for Integrity, an anti-corruption group. “It could be illicit money from foreign corruption, drug trafficking, human trafficking – all sorts of bad things.”

From left to right: Trump Tower in New York City, Trump International Hotel and Tower in Chicago, and Trump International Hotel Las Vegas.
Getty Images; Alvesgaspar / Flickr; Lovelove17243875683 / Flickr

From left to right: Trump Tower in New York City, Trump International Hotel and Tower in Chicago, and Trump International Hotel Las Vegas.

With their soaring glass facades, top-flight amenities and bold Trump logos, the condo buildings are the most visible symbol of the president’s multi-billion-dollar business empire. They’ve been a steady income source for Trump even when other enterprises such as casinos, an airline, and a pro football team foundered.

Nine of the buildings are in Manhattan, seven are in South Florida, and one each is in Chicago; Honolulu; Las Vegas; Jersey City, New Jersey; Stamford, Connecticut; and White Plains, New York.

New York City Properties

Note: Trump was the developer unless otherwise specified.
BuzzFeed News; Google Maps

Note: Trump was the developer unless otherwise specified.

BuzzFeed News’ months-long investigation is the first to examine sales of Trump condominiums for indicators of possible money laundering and the most comprehensive analysis to date of all 22 Trump condo towers in the US.

BuzzFeed News examined Trump condo sales using online property records to determine the original buyers of each unit and whether they obtained a mortgage or paid cash. For buyers that were legal entities and not people, BuzzFeed News analyzed them using corporation records, property records, and other online documents to determine whether they were established businesses or shell companies, which typically generate little economic value.

The investigation identified 1,326 all-cash sales – some involving more than one condo unit – to shell companies.

The property records analyzed by BuzzFeed News would not by themselves reveal money laundering – only warning signs. And Trump is not unique in selling condos to cash-paying shell companies. BuzzFeed News examined non-Trump buildings in Manhattan and South Florida and found that roughly the same percentage of units were sold to shell companies in all-cash transactions as in Trump buildings.

Such sales are increasingly common in the expensive real estate markets where Trump has operated such as Manhattan and Florida’s Miami-Dade County. Rich investors often buy expensive homes through shell companies for legitimate purposes such as tax advantages, legal protection, and privacy.

Florida Properties

Note: Trump was the developer unless otherwise specified.
BuzzFeed News; Google Maps

Note: Trump was the developer unless otherwise specified.

Trump has been selling condos to secretive buyers for decades, the property records show.

When the signature Trump Tower opened in Manhattan in 1983, shell companies based in secretive foreign jurisdictions such as Panama, Cayman Islands, and the British Virgin Islands bought 43 condos in cash, BuzzFeed News found. Delaware-based corporations bought another six condos in cash.



The State Department says the British Virgin Islands has “significant money laundering risks,” Panama is “an attractive target for money laundering,” and in Cayman Islands, money laundering mostly involves “fraud, tax evasion and drug trafficking.”

Delaware is “a haven for transnational crime,” according to the anti-corruption group Transparency International, because “extreme corporate secrecy enables corrupt people, shady companies, drug traffickers, embezzlers and fraudsters to cover their tracks when shifting dirty money from one place to another.”

Trump has not developed a condo building in Manhattan since 2003.

Trump himself signed the deed for each secretive sale at Trump Tower and collected $28 million.

Understanding how much Trump made from all-cash sales to shell companies is complicated by a shift in the way Trump did business. Before the shift, Trump developed the buildings himself, keeping the profits. But in the 2000s he began licensing the use of his name on buildings for a fee or a percentage of sales or both, leaving the construction and sales to others. Of the $1.5 billion in secretive sales documented by BuzzFeed News, $870 million – 58% – came from such licensing deals.

Despite his association with Manhattan, Trump has not developed a condo building there since 2003, when he opened the Trump Park Avenue. He has developed just two condo buildings in the US since 2003 – high-rises in Chicago and Las Vegas. At the same time, he has licensed 12 Trump-branded towers: seven in Florida, four in the New York City area and one in Hawaii.

Note: Trump was the developer unless otherwise specified.
BuzzFeed News; Google Maps

Note: Trump was the developer unless otherwise specified.

Neither Trump nor his licensees have disclosed terms of the agreements. Trump also has declined to release his tax returns, breaking a precedent followed by presidents since Richard Nixon.

Trump’s federally required financial disclosures for 2015 and 2016, however, give a glimpse into his real-estate licensing business and show that it generates significantly less revenue than his condo sales. The disclosures show that Trump received $69 million from condos that he sold and between $500,000 and $5 million from condos sold by licensees in the US.

Note: Trump was the developer unless otherwise specified.
BuzzFeed News; Google Maps

Note: Trump was the developer unless otherwise specified.

The developer of a Trump-licensed condo building in Hollywood, Florida, said there was nothing unusual about its sales, which occurred between 2009 and 2013. BuzzFeed News found 43% of the buyers there were cash-paying shell companies that spent $136 million buying 85 units.

“There are many reasons for setting up entities to own real estate, especially for estate planning and the purchase of a second home, which is extremely common in South Florida,” Betsy McCoy, general counsel of The Related Group, the Florida company that developed the project, told BuzzFeed News.

Trump International Hotel And Tower in New York City.

James D. Morgan / Getty Images

Trump International Hotel And Tower in New York City.

Secretive Trump condo sales surged initially in 1997 and 1998 as most Wall Street banks stopped lending to Trump after two of his Atlantic City casinos filed for bankruptcy. Trump reported $916 million in business losses in 1995, according to his 1996 tax return, which was leaked to the New York Times in the final weeks of the 2016 campaign.

The surge occurred when Trump opened his fourth high-rise, the Trump International Hotel and Tower, in Manhattan in December 1996. Shell companies bought 92 of the building’s 322 units in cash – 29% – including eight of the 12 units that sold for more than $5 million, records show.

The sales amounted to $134 million – more than Trump had received in secretive sales from his three other buildings combined.

From 1999 through 2007, secretive sales leveled off at an average of $23 million a year – 11% of units sold – before rising starting in 2008 during a crucial period for Trump. BuzzFeed News found that in the five years from 2008 through 2012, shell companies spent $890 million buying 823 Trump condos in cash – 25% of units sold. That’s $178 million a year on average. More than 87% of those sales were in Trump-licensed buildings.

In 2008, as the Great Recession cooled real-estate markets, Trump could not make a payment on a bank loan that he had guaranteed personally for $40 million. Trump Entertainment Resorts, which owned the Trump Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City, faced a $53-million payment to bondholders. Trump forestalled the bank payment by suing the lender, Deutsche Bank. The casino filed for bankruptcy in 2009.

At the same time, Trump became financially entwined with Russians. In March 2008, a Russian billionaire paid Trump $95 million for a Palm Beach, Florida, estate that Trump had bought four years earlier for $41 million. Donald Trump Jr. told a Moscow real-estate conference in June 2008 that his father’s company, the Trump Organization, was planning to build condos and hotels in Russia. And he told a New York conference in September 2008, “We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia.”

Trump Jr. was executive vice president of development and acquisitions at the Trump Organization, which opened two major condo towers in early 2008 after a four-year lull. By the time Trump Jr. made his now-famous comment in September 2008, cash-paying shell companies had bought $43 million worth of condos at the Trump International Hotel and Tower Chicago and at the Trump International Hotel Las Vegas.

At a Trump-licensed condo building in Miami-Dade, cash-paying shell companies had bought $32 million worth of condos.

During this time, the future president and his children also were heavily promoting the Trump SoHo, a lower Manhattan high-rise that has been mired in controversy. In his September 2008 remarks, Donald Jr. cited the project: “In terms of high-end product influx into the US, Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets; say in Dubai, and certainly with our project in SoHo and anywhere in New York.”

Trump SoHo hotel condominium building in New York City.

Drew Angerer / Getty Images

Trump SoHo hotel condominium building in New York City.

The Trump SoHo was a troubled project from its inception, as two Soviet-born developers envisioned a residential tower in a Manhattan neighborhood that did not allow such buildings. They signed on Trump as a minority partner in the mid-2000s to capitalize on his popularity, driven by his TV show “The Apprentice.”

The controversies have been widely publicized – including a criminal investigation – but it has not been disclosed until now that the Trump SoHo units were bought overwhelmingly by cash-paying shell companies.

Secretive sales generated $110 million between 2010 and 2013, records show. The buyers were largely LLCs with names such as 3002 Trump Soho Condo and Soho 3211 that were formed just weeks or days before buying a unit.

One real estate lawyer, Martin Jajan of Manhattan, handled more than half of the secretive sales, records show. As the buyers’ representative, Jajan signed deeds of transfer, created the shell companies and listed himself as the agent for the shell companies. The transactions provide little or no clues about the actual buyers – with a few exceptions.

On four of the deeds, the LLC listed Moscow addresses, which were crossed out with a pen. The address of Jajan’s Manhattan law office was written in their places.

Another three units were bought by a former oligarch from Kazakhstan with money he allegedly stole from the former Soviet republic, according to a California lawsuit filed in 2014 by Kazakhstan’s largest city, Almaty. The lawsuit says that a former mayor of Almaty, Viktor Khrapunov, and his family stole hundreds of millions of dollars in city assets during his tenure between 1997 and 2004, fled to Switzerland in 2007 and began buying property in New York City and California to launder the money.

The still-pending lawsuit says Khrapunov and his relatives bought three Trump SoHo units for $3.1 million in cash through newly formed LLCs in April 2013. Records show the LLCs sold all three units within a year or two at a slight loss. Khrapunov has denied any wrongdoing and says he is being persecuted for political reasons.

Jajan did not respond to requests for comment. In a 2014 New York magazine article, Jajan said it’s not uncommon for him to buy for clients he’s never met, and that a lot of his work involves setting up entities such as LLCs for buyers to avoid estate taxes, potential lawsuits, and public exposure.

The Trump SoHo sales alarmed Ross Delston, a Washington, D.C., lawyer and money laundering expert who has consulted for the Justice Department.

“The circumstances of the sales and the fact that three of the properties were allegedly related to money laundering in Kazakhstan raise questions about the process by which units were sold in the Trump SoHo,” Delston told BuzzFeed News. “Having 77% of the transactions to anonymous buyers raises the probability that there are red flags for money laundering and other financial crime.”

Trump did not develop Trump SoHo or sell its units. But as an 18% owner, Trump stood to profit from the 46-story tower and promoted the building so vigorously that some early purchasers accused him, his son Donald Jr., his daughter Ivanka, and others in a 2010 lawsuit of exaggerating the number of sales to boost prices.

The Manhattan District Attorney investigated the activity of Donald Jr. and Ivanka at the Trump SoHo in the early 2010s and brought no charges, according to news reports. Trump, abandoning his public posture of not settling lawsuits, agreed to refund $2.8 million in deposits to six purchasers, according to a news article.

The Trump SoHo deal was canceled in November, and the building is now called the Dominick Hotel and Spa.

From left to right: Ivanka Trump, Donald Trump, Eric Trump, and Donald Trump Jr. pose for photos after a press conference, where their father Donald Trump announced the launch of Trump SoHo Hotel Condominium in New York in September 2007.
Timothy A. Clary / AFP / Getty Images

From left to right: Ivanka Trump, Donald Trump, Eric Trump, and Donald Trump Jr. pose for photos after a press conference, where their father Donald Trump announced the launch of Trump SoHo Hotel Condominium in New York in September 2007.

The growing interest in Trump condo sales comes amid unprecedented scrutiny of possible money laundering through real estate. The Trump administration will likely face a decision on whether to crack down on the kind of all-cash, shell-company purchases that have enriched him.

Money laundering entails blending “dirty” money into the financial mainstream through a series of transactions and legal entities that conceal its origin. The United Nations estimates that $800 billion to $2 trillion is laundered each year.

The growing interest in Trump condo sales comes amid unprecedented scrutiny of possible money laundering through real estate.

“High-end real estate has effectively become a safety deposit box for laundered money because there is a no-questions-asked way of doing business,” said Clark Gascoigne, deputy director of the Financial Accountability and Corporate Transparency Coalition, an international anti-corruption group.

That’s particularly true in the US, where surveys by the National Association of Realtors show that 21% of homebuyers were LLCs in 2016, up from 5% in 2007. For sales over $3 million, LLCs bought 42% of the homes in 2016, the Realtors found. The association doesn’t know how many of those purchases were cash.

Gascoigne calls the United States “the easiest place to set up an anonymous company to potentially launder your money.”

Manhattan real estate lawyer Adam Leitman Bailey, who filed the lawsuit over Trump SoHo sales, acknowledged as much. He said he does not ask where his clients, who include “heads of states,” get their money: “I don’t know where the money comes from. I don’t ask where the money comes from. If they’re trying to move money to hide it, I’m the last person they’re going to tell about it.”

“Unlike securities brokers, we do not have a know-your-customer rule,” Bailey added. “We’re just agents for how people buy homes — I’m sorry, buy investments.”

“Unlike securities brokers, we do not have a know-your-customer rule.”

The Treasury Department has been under pressure for years from Congress and international groups to crack down on money laundering that occurs through all-cash real-estate purchases. FinCEN has been considering a regulation since 2003 that would require people involved in real-estate closings, such as sales agents, lawyers, appraisers and title insurers, to scrutinize transactions for money laundering.

In a 2016 report on US anti-money laundering efforts, the Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering, the leading intergovernmental body fighting money laundering, said that without such scrutiny, “There is a significant risk that high-end real estate is used for money laundering purposes.”

FinCEN took a first step in March 2016 when it began to investigate all-cash shell-company purchases of luxury homes in Manhattan and Miami-Dade County, Florida, which are the two markets where Trump has been most active. The agency defined luxury homes as those selling for at least $3 million in Manhattan and $1 million in Miami-Dade.

In July 2016, FinCEN released a startling finding: more than a quarter of the people who controlled the shell companies in Manhattan and Miami-Dade had at one time engaged in “possible criminal activity.”

“That’s a lot,” said Pawneet Abramowski, a New York City financial-crimes expert who was an FBI intelligence analyst and a fraud investigator for the New York State Attorney General’s office.

FinCEN has expanded its investigation to Los Angeles, San Diego, Honolulu, San Antonio, the San Francisco area and other parts of South Florida and New York City. More than 5,000 Trump condos have been sold in the markets that FinCEN is targeting but it is unlikely FinCEN is analyzing any of the Trump sales because they occurred before the agency began its investigation.

Trump condo sales reportedly are under scrutiny by special counsel Robert Mueller, whose team includes Justice Department prosecutor Kyle Freeny, a money-laundering expert. Mueller is investigating Trump’s connections to Russia and Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election. He charged former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort in October with laundering millions of dollars he received for work in Ukraine before joining the Trump campaign.

A spokesperson for Mueller declined to comment.

Trump-Russia investigators in Congress also are interested in the timing of any money laundering and whether it coincided with periods when Trump could not get conventional loans.

“I’m focused on following the money. That’s where you connect the dots.”

The Senate intelligence committee has sought records in its Trump-Russia probe from FinCEN, which monitors possible money laundering. “Cash transactions are an increasingly important part of what needs to be examined,” Sen. Ron Wyden, a Democrat on the Senate intelligence committee, told BuzzFeed News. “I’m focused on following the money. That’s where you connect the dots.”

Rep. Adam Schiff, the House intelligence committee’s ranking Democrat, said BuzzFeed News’ findings “concern me a great deal.” The committee should investigate whether “financial entanglement was one of the active measures the Russians used in the United States,” Schiff said. “It was one of the measures they’ve used in other countries.”

Bloomberg News has reported that Mueller is investigating the Trump SoHo as well as “Russian purchases of apartments in Trump buildings.” Several news outlets have reportedthat one of the Trump SoHo developers, Russia native Felix Sater, who pleaded guilty to racketeering in a money laundering case in 1998, testified recently before the House intelligence committee but details of his testimony are unknown.

Former White House strategist Steve Bannon is quoted in Michael Wolff’s new book saying that Mueller’s investigation “is all about money laundering.” And the two founders of a research firm that commissioned a controversial intelligence dossier wrote in a New York Times op-ed that their investigation of Trump found “widespread evidence” that Trump had worked with “dubious Russians in arrangements that often raised questions about money laundering.”


At least two Trump Tower condos have been linked to money laundering, although there is no evidence that Trump or the Trump Organization was involved.

The Haitian government claimed in the 1980s that ousted dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier laundered stolen treasury funds when he bought Trump Tower apartment 54-K for $446,875 in August 1983. Duvalier used a Panama shell company called Lasa Trade and Finance to buy the apartment in cash. Trump signed the deed of sale.

In 1984, federal prosecutors charged a Russian native living in Brooklyn with taking part in a massive gasoline bootlegging operation and buying five Trump Tower condos for $4.9 million to launder the proceeds. The suspect, David Bogatin, pleaded guilty in 1987. He was released from federal prison in 1998.

In a separate matter, a Trump casino, the Trump Taj Mahal, was charged with violating anti-money-laundering regulations 106 times in 1990 and 1991 by failing to file timely reports identifying gamblers who bought or cashed out $10,000 or more in chips. The reports aim to spot gamblers who might be laundering money. The casino paid the Treasury Department a $477,000 fine in 1998 without admitting wrongdoing.

Stefan Cassella, a former deputy chief of the Justice Department’s Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section, said it’s difficult to discern secretive sales that are done for legal reasons from those that hide criminal activity.

“If a money launderer is doing his job well, he’s making the transaction look legitimate,” Cassella told BuzzFeed News. ●


Apparently this kind of scam is perfectly okay with the US Congress. According to what I gather, there has been exactly zero interest in pursuing money laundering charges against Trump, even thought that constitutes the biggest part of his illegal activities, at least the pre-presidential ones.

Everybody does it, and nobody cares. It is an acceptable crime, not something we punish rich people for in this country.

Or maybe because the transactions are fairly opaque, it's hard to find the money to seize and keep. Easier to bust state legal pot dispensaries and the like. Lower hanging fruit.

What makes the desert beautiful is that somewhere it hides a well.

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Re: Secret Money: How Trump Made Millions Selling Condos To Unknown Buyers
« Reply #1081 on: January 17, 2018, 07:41:10 AM »
Apparently this kind of scam is perfectly okay with the US Congress. According to what I gather, there has been exactly zero interest in pursuing money laundering charges against Trump, even thought that constitutes the biggest part of his illegal activities, at least the pre-presidential ones.

Everybody does it, and nobody cares. It is an acceptable crime, not something we punish rich people for in this country.

Or maybe because the transactions are fairly opaque, it's hard to find the money to seize and keep. Easier to bust state legal pot dispensaries and the like. Lower hanging fruit.

Quite correct. Nothing changes bad money into good like a cash transaction involving shell corporations.

And nothing changes until we see something like this:

"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

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Re: Secret Money: How Trump Made Millions Selling Condos To Unknown Buyers
« Reply #1082 on: January 17, 2018, 12:06:33 PM »
Apparently this kind of scam is perfectly okay with the US Congress. According to what I gather, there has been exactly zero interest in pursuing money laundering charges against Trump, even thought that constitutes the biggest part of his illegal activities, at least the pre-presidential ones.

Everybody does it, and nobody cares. It is an acceptable crime, not something we punish rich people for in this country.

Or maybe because the transactions are fairly opaque, it's hard to find the money to seize and keep. Easier to bust state legal pot dispensaries and the like. Lower hanging fruit.

Quite correct. Nothing changes bad money into good like a cash transaction involving shell corporations.

And nothing changes until we see something like this:



You've come a long way from the "in this way lies madness" argument.  You can sit next to me on the bench at the Court of the Inquisition.  :icon_sunny:

Hang 'em High.

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/lKITYu7z-AY" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/lKITYu7z-AY</a>

RE
SAVE AS MANY AS YOU CAN

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Re: Secret Money: How Trump Made Millions Selling Condos To Unknown Buyers
« Reply #1083 on: January 17, 2018, 01:49:36 PM »
You've come a long way from the "in this way lies madness" argument.  You can sit next to me on the bench at the Court of the Inquisition.  :icon_sunny:
RE

Well, this way still lies madness, but these are mad times.

The GOP administration has sounded the end of the age of the rule of law, for what that was ever worth. So now it's lampposts and rope.
"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

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David Cay Johnston: Trump to Provoke War to Distract from Racist/Erratic Beha
« Reply #1084 on: January 18, 2018, 04:49:04 PM »

David Cay Johnston: Trump Is Determined to Provoke War to Draw Focus From Racist and Erratic Behavior

Thursday, January 18, 2018

By Amy Goodman and Nermeen Shaikh, Democracy Now! | Video Interview

SNIPPET:
AMY GOODMAN: Well, David Cay Johnston, the Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter, joins us here in our studio, out this week with his new book. It's called It's Even Worse Than You Think: What the Trump Administration Is Doing to America.

Welcome to Democracy Now!, David. You have been covering Donald Trump for over 30 years. You heard what he had to say about it: Look where you are, and look where he is today. But you've also been covering President Trump through this first year. Can you talk about, as we move into the first anniversary of his inauguration, what has surprised you most, since this is a man you have known back to his early days as a developer going bankrupt in New York?

DAVID CAY JOHNSTON: Well, Donald hasn't, frankly, done anything that's surprised me. And I said, and there's lots of video of me saying, before the election, he would be increasingly erratic, his racism would come out, that he would try to find an excuse to use nuclear weapons, because during the campaign, he said, "I'm very good at war. I know more about ISIS than the generals. And of course we're going to use nukes." And, lo and behold, last week, the news breaks that they are loosening up the rules on the use of tactical nuclear weapons -- that is, a nuclear weapon that will take out a block, not a city -- and possibly even authorizing their use for a cyberattack. He's looking for --

AMY GOODMAN: I mean, this is amazing. I mean, just to reiterate this --

DAVID CAY JOHNSTON: Oh, it is.

AMY GOODMAN:  -- using nuclear weapon attack for a cyberattack.

DAVID CAY JOHNSTON: Right. And hopefully, the military will not follow an order to do this. But clearly, he is determined, if he can figure out how to do it, to provoke a war. After all, what helps strengthen your position if you're a dictator-in-waiting, which is what Donald is, but some kind of incident that will stir the public and focus people away from his crazy, racist, uninformed, ignorant behavior?

Full interview and transcript:

http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/43264-david-cay-johnston-trump-is-determined-to-provoke-war-to-draw-focus-from-racist-erratic-behavior
« Last Edit: January 18, 2018, 04:51:23 PM by agelbert »
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Of “Shitholes” and Liberals 💩
« Reply #1085 on: January 19, 2018, 01:14:09 AM »
https://www.counterpunch.org/2018/01/18/of-shitholes-and-liberals/

January 18, 2018
Of “Shitholes” and Liberals

by Andrew Day


Photo by CDC Global | CC BY 2.0

President Trump’s reported comment that the U.S. should block immigration from “shithole countries” was vile, and the outraged response is warranted.

But liberals have – not for the first time – utterly misfired in their counter-attack. One gets the impression that Trump’s remarks were repulsive because they were “vulgar,” and that his proposal would have been more digestible had it been palatably phrased.

Sensing this critique’s deficiencies, technocratic liberals explained that we should welcome Haitians because immigrants contribute to our wealth. Analyses of this sort tacitly assume we should outsource the crafting of immigration policies to neoliberalism itself, reducing human beings to arithmetical marks on a cold, cost/benefit ledger. More sentimental liberals have opined that individuals from troubled nations are ipso facto strong-willed, and so should be treated warmly. This is too ludicrous a psychological theory to be entertained by thinking people, and implies that immigrants who are frightened, vulnerable, and unable to cope without assistance should be denied our help on that basis.

So what is vile about the President’s remarks?

Consider the plight of Haiti, the Western hemisphere’s poorest country, which Trump singled out during his tirade. Haiti is not a “shithole,” but that hasn’t stopped the U.S. and other Western powers from crapping on it for centuries. Perhaps no single country better exemplifies the destruction wrought by Western Empire than Haiti. That sordid history is impactful, contemptible – and ignored.

After landing on Hispaniola in 1492, Christopher Columbus and his men all but exterminated the native population. Spain and later France thus had to import African slaves to cultivate the island’s plantations. In 1804, the Republic of Haiti was born from a black slave revolt in Saint-Domingue, against France, after centuries of colonial domination. Haitians designated their new nation a refuge for enslaved peoples everywhere, at a time when the U.S. president was a slaveholder who had repeatedly raped and impregnated his daughter’s fourteen-year-old chambermaid. Because white Americans feared their own slaves might get bad ideas, the U.S. refused to recognize Haiti’s legitimacy.

Under Woodrow Wilson, U.S. marines invaded Haiti to protect American business interests. The brutal occupation lasted until 1934, when President Roosevelt succumbed to Haitian opposition and allowed a military withdrawal. The U.S. retained a measure of control over its neighbor’s economy, ensuring Haiti’s national resources would primarily benefit its industrial interests. In the tumultuous decades since, Haiti has oscillated between democracy and military rule. It is a shameful fact that during Haiti’s years of tyranny and deprivation, the U.S. refused entry to Haitian refugees fleeing oppression, torture, and murder.

This heartlessness is not ancient history. In 2009, a year following the Clorox food riots (“named after hunger so painful that it felt like bleach in your stomach”) the Haitian Parliament unanimously raised the minimum wage to five dollars a day. This was unacceptable. Diplomatic cables reveal that Haiti bowed to intense U.S. diplomatic pressure to roll back the new wage, carving out an exception for textile manufacturing. Though the American embassy remained displeased that so exorbitant a wage was ever conceded to “the unemployed and underpaid masses,” the crisis was averted, and Haitian workers in garment factories today are paid a fourth of what Haitian families need to subsist. Fruit of the Loom, Hanes, Levi’s, Dockers, and Nautica benefit handsomely from U.S. interventionism. Haitians, however, do not.

Such uncomfortable details problematize the liberal reaction to Trump’s hateful comments. Consider the response from Hillary Clinton, who led the State Department during the U.S. assault on rising wages. Clinton sanctimoniously lamented that Trump’s comments were “ignorant,” and called on America to affirm its “commitment to helping our neighbors.” If “neighbors” refers to the people who live in Haiti, rather than to the sweatshop owners who serve U.S. interests, it is not clear what “commitment” she is referring to. Clinton has her own reasons to cover the history of U.S – Haiti relations in the warm glow of American exceptionalism. Others should not follow her lead. Trump’s proposal to deport Haitian refugees to their decimated home country is unacceptable precisely because we have not been very neighborly.

The Pollyanna response of liberals to the President’s crudity is consistent with the general myopia of anti-Trumpism. The standard liberal critique of Trump is primarily aesthetic, utterly eliding the historical admixture of racism, corporatism, and imperialism that constitutes the state he now heads. To more effectively oppose Trump’s anti-immigration agenda, we should begin to take responsibility for our role in immiserating Haiti and other countries. By doing so, we can more credibly show that it is the underlying rationale of Trump’s “America First” program – not his illiterate attempts to describe it – that deserves our contempt and opposition.
« Last Edit: January 19, 2018, 02:48:36 AM by RE »
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Is Money-Laundering the Real Trump Kompromat?
« Reply #1086 on: January 20, 2018, 05:12:12 AM »
Is Money-Laundering the Real Trump Kompromat?
In November testimony, Fusion GPS’s Glenn Simpson outlined a potential scheme to the House Intelligence Committee, but it hasn’t pursued the line of investigation.


Richard Drew / AP
 
 

So far, the release of transcripts of Fusion GPS founder Glenn Simpson’s interviews with the House Intelligence and Senate Judiciary committees have provided rich detail to obsessives but few major headlines for the average reader. The interviews give some more clarity on how Fusion came to investigate Donald Trump, who was paying the company, and how it gathered information, but they offer much help in assessing the Trump dossier.

Perhaps the most interesting thread is Simpson’s suggestion that the Trump Organization could have been used by Russians to launder money—an arrangement that would have both allowed Kremlin-linked figures to scrub cash and would have created possible blackmail material over the now-president, since the Russian government would be aware that a crime had been committed.

“I've felt all along in the Russia investigation that the most important issues were those that had the potential of exerting a continuing influence over the administration and over U.S. policy,” Representative Adam Schiff of California, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, told me Friday. “And if the Russians were laundering money through the Trump Organization, the Russians would know it, the president would know it, and that could be very powerful leverage.”

In the interviews, Simpson is cagey about some of his business practices, and professes ignorance about the sources used by Christopher Steele, the former British intelligence officer who assembled the reports in the dossier. (Since lying to the committee would be a crime, it’s reasonable to assume his testimony is not deliberately false.) What’s most interesting is all the threads Simpsons mentions about possible Trump connections he’d reviewed with various Russians, with mobsters, and with others. For the most part, they’re just allegations: If Simpson has proof, it’s not disclosed in the transcripts. More often, they seem like tantalizing possibilities worth exploring more, but which Simpson was unable to nail down.

In the House Intelligence Committee transcript, released Thursday, Schiff quizzes Simpson on the idea that the Trump Organization served as a forum for money-laundering.

The theory is that both sides would have something to gain. For Russian oligarchs and mobsters, there’s a need to launder money. “Generally speaking, the patterns of activity that we thought might be suggestive of money laundering were, you know, fast turnover deals and deals where there seemed to have been efforts to disguise the identity of the buyer,” Simpson told the committee in November. Trump, meanwhile, was in need of liquidity, because many banks were unwilling to do business with him after a corporate bankruptcy, and Russian buyers could provide quick infusions of cash. In other cases, the Trump Organization has appeared to have gone out of its way to avoid doing due diligence on business partners.

But while Simpson saw disturbing patterns, he was unable to nail anything down, because he couldn’t get the relevant records from banks and other financial institutions. Schiff posed an interesting question: Simpson didn’t have subpoena power, but the committee did. Who should it subpoena if it wanted to learn more? Simpson laid out a roadmap for Schiff:

So the first thing that I would do would be to subpoena the brokers and the people, the other people that were involved in the transactions, and the title companies and the other intermediaries that would have that kind of information. Then I would go to the banks next. But I actually think some of the intermediary entities in a lot of these transactions are going to be where a lot of the information is….

I'm trying to think of the creative way to do this. I mean, as you may know, you know, most of these transactions are cleared through New York. And the other sort of central place for information is SWIFT in Brussels. But I would go for the clearing banks in New York that cleared the transactions, you know. And there's—again, it's these sort of intermediary entities that have no real interest in protecting the information, and all you have to do is ask for it and they just sort of produced by rote. So we've done a lot of money laundering investigations where we go to the trust companies and the clearing entities. And so, you know, all dollar transactions are generally cleared through New York. So, you know, the main thing you have to do is identify the banks that were used.

Simpson also named a series of people and companies from which he’d seek information.

But Schiff told me Friday that the committee had been unable to follow this roadmap, because Republican members are not interested. He noted that the committee had gone to court to force Fusion GPS to turn over its own bank records. “They're only interested in financial transactions that involve Fusion GPS, apparently,” Schiff said.

Of all the questions surrounding Trump and Russia, the question of whether the Kremlin could have laundered money through the Trump Organization in order to blackmail Trump has not often held the spotlight, obscured behind more direct connections, like discussions between Russian officials and Trump campaign officials like Donald Trump Jr. or George Papadapoulos, or more lurid ones from the Trump dossier.

Schiff, however, has long been interested in the idea. “The allegation that concerns me most is ... the issue of money laundering, and not money laundering alone by Mr. Manafort but whether the Russians also laundered money through the Trump Organization,” he told me in October. “I mention that because when most people think of kompromat, they think of the salacious video. But if the Russians were laundering money... that would be a very powerful lever the Russians would have over the president of the United States.”

Schiff noted that Steve Bannon told Michael Wolff in Fire and Fury that he believed money-laundering investigations were a real threat to the Trump administration.

“Before we looked into the allegations that Trump campaign people were surreptitiously meeting with the Russians it was only an allegation, but it proved to be all too true,” Schiff said. “Before we looked into allegations that Mike Flynn was having secret communications with the Russians and that the Trump transition might be seeking to undermine the sanctions imposed on Russia over its interference to help the Trump campaign, that was only an allegation, but that proved to be true. There's simply no way to either verify or be able to dismiss these serious allegations without looking into them.”

Schiff said his first priority would be to obtain records from Deutsche Bank, which did business with Trump when most banks would not. Last year, New York state fined Deutsche Bank $425 million over a scheme that laundered $10 billion out of Russia, one of several hefty fines levied on the bank by regulators worldwide in recent years.

Though relations between the Republican and Democratic members of the intelligence committee remain contentious, they seem to have improved since Chairman Devin Nunes stepped aside from the investigation amidst a bizarre escapade, in which the White House appeared to be feeding Nunes claims of ethical lapses by the Obama administration in handling intelligence information.

But the partisan tensions bubbled over again Friday, with a skirmish over a report apparently produced by a splinter faction of Republican members of the House Intelligence Committee led by Nunes. The GOP majority voted Thursday night to share the report with colleagues, but not to release it to the general public. By Friday morning, however, Republican members of Congress were demanding the memo be made public—with their calls being amplified by Russian-linked Twitter accounts.

The exact contents of the report are unclear, but it appears to allege wrongdoing on the part of the Justice Department and FBI in handling surveillance. Representative Steve King of Iowa described it as “worse than Watergate.”

But given his recent history of making splashy but unsupported claims, it’s difficult to grant Nunes the benefit of the doubt. In the spring, he made a series of extremely serious allegations against the Obama administration, including improper surveillance of Trump aides. No proof of those allegations emerged, and the Justice Department has since said there was no surveillance. It soon became clear that Nunes was receiving information from White House staffers (who have since been pushed out of the White House), even as he was overseeing an ostensibly independent investigation into the president.

One source told Business Insider’s Natasha Bertrand that the present memo represented “a level of irresponsible stupidity that I cannot fathom” and “purposefully misconstrues facts and leaves out important details.”

Schiff accused Republicans who have circulated the memo of carrying water for the White House. “It’s a bit of a hodgepodge of false statements and misleading representations,” he said, and argued that the report sought to mislead the public, relying on the expectation that the classified information that underpins and contextualizes it would never be made public.

“Most of the majority members have not read the underlying materials and have acknowledged as much, so they are voting to release information that they have not read the underlying materials,” Schiff said.

Republican Mike Conaway, a Republican who replaced Nunes as the chief of the Intelligence Committee’s Russia probe, told Politico he did not expect the report to become public, but his office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on why.

"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

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Best Trump Joke yet! 🤣
« Reply #1087 on: January 21, 2018, 02:42:23 AM »
If the NY Daily Newz is publishing stuff like this, Trumpofsky is not gonna win the Shutdown standoff.  That paper is the righty counterpoint to the NYT.

Quote
What’s the difference between Donald Trump and porn star Stormy Daniels? Answer: Stormy screws publicly and Donald screws the public.

RE

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/stasi-trump-screwed-shutdown-stormy-daniels-article-1.3768458

STASI: Thanks, Trump, for screwing us with government shutdown like you did horny-porny Stormy Daniels


President Trump had to abandon his one year anniversary in the White House celebration plans at Mar-A-Lago due to a government shutdown. (Pool/Getty Images)

Linda Stasi
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Saturday, January 20, 2018, 6:05 PM

What’s the difference between Donald Trump and porn star Stormy Daniels? Answer: Stormy screws publicly and Donald screws the public.

In a year of bad weeks for President Trump, this, the anniversary week of his first year in office, has to go down as THE worst week of shame of almost any administration (not counting George W. or Big Bill).

But, when things go bad, the bad have a rally, as he did in Pennsylvania.

The Worst Week Anniversary began with our Commander-in-Chief getting outed with his pants down when an old story emerged of his sleazy (and not-all-that-good sex) tryst with a porn star while running around in his tighty-whities (please, God, make it go away). Then a story broke that his lawyer paid off said porn star, Stormy, to shut up. The White House admitted they also told Steve Bannon to shut up (when he faced the House Intelligence Committee). “Fire and Fury” author Michael Wolff told Bill Maher on “Real Time” that he was “absolutely sure” Trump was having an extra-marital affair in the White House. The President’s “highly anticipated” fake news awards turned into the bust of busts. The government shut down. Women around the world marched against him. But worst of all, for him anyway, is that the world found out that he’s eating on the edge of obesity.

Trump's anniversary in office arrives with government shutdown

The weirdest, for the rest of us, was learning that Trump once told horny-porny Stormy that he wanted all sharks to die. (Note to Donald: Just because your chief rival Mark Cuban has become a yuuuge TV star on the Emmy-winning “Shark Tank” shouldn’t mean your hatred extends to all sharks).

The saddest? Trump having to cancel his weekend in Mar-A-Lago because the government shut down. Talk about unfair!

Please note that he blames it all — especially the shutdown — on the Democrats. This, even though this is the first government shutdown where one party (the Republicans) control the White House and Congress.
Order the Peloton bike and take $100 off accessories. Gearing up just got easier. Paid Content by Peloton
Order the Peloton bike and take $100 off accessories. Gearing up just got easier.

Twitter-twit Trump, who once blamed Obama for the 2013 shutdown, tweeted like a petulant pre-teen who didn’t get a new iPhone for his birthday, “This is the One Year Anniversary of my Presidency and the Democrats wanted to give me a nice present. #DemocratShutdown.”

Statue of Liberty falls victim to government shutdown

So to sum it up: We learned this week that our President poked a porn star, paid her off, porked up to porcine size, is possibly having an extramarital affair, had women around the world march against him, his former best buddy Bannon will have to sing to the special counsel, his fake news awards were a bust, his wish for sharks to become extinct was not fulfilled, and the government was shut down. And you thought you had a bad week?

Waah, waah, waah.
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SNL Eviscerates Trumpty-Dumpty...again 👍
« Reply #1088 on: January 21, 2018, 02:47:18 AM »
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Mueller seeks to question Trump about Flynn and Comey departures
« Reply #1089 on: January 24, 2018, 01:30:02 AM »
https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/mueller-seeks-to-question-trump-about-flynn-and-comey-departures/2018/01/23/e6652db6-0068-11e8-9d31-d72cf78dbeee_story.html?utm_term=.6edb3507dc79

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Mueller seeks to question Trump about Flynn and Comey departures


2:43
What the special counsel's team will want to ask Trump
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With indications that special counsel Robert Mueller is seeking an interview with President Trump, here are some burning questions his team will want to ask. (Jenny Starrs/The Washington Post)
By Carol D. Leonnig, Sari Horwitz and Josh Dawsey January 23 at 7:24 PM

Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III is seeking to question President Trump in the coming weeks about his decisions to oust national security adviser Michael Flynn and FBI Director James B. Comey, according to two people familiar with his plans.

Mueller’s interest in the events that led Trump to push out Flynn and Comey indicates that his investigation is aggressively scrutinizing possible efforts by the president or others to hamper the special counsel’s probe.

Discussions about a Trump interview come amid the broader inquiry into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, a wide-ranging investigation that has already led to charges against four former Trump advisers.

Mueller now appears to be turning his attention to Trump and key witnesses in his inner circle, raising the pressure on the White House as the administration enters its second year.

Last week, Attorney General Jeff Sessions was interviewed for several hours by special counsel investigators, according to Justice Department officials. He is the first member of Trump’s Cabinet to be questioned in the probe.
President Trump has said privately that he is not worried about speaking to special counsel Robert S. Mueller III because he has done nothing wrong. (Jabin Botsford; Kevin Lamarque/The Washington Post; Reuters)

Months ago, the special counsel’s office also briefly interviewed Comey, who at the time vouched for the contents of memos he wrote about private conversations he had with the president, according to people familiar with the matter. The Sessions and Comey interviews were first reported by the New York Times.

[Mueller indicates he is likely to seek interview with Trump]

Trump’s attorneys have crafted some negotiating terms for the president’s interview with Mueller’s team, and they could be presented to the special counsel as soon as next week, according to the two people.

The president’s legal team hopes to provide Trump’s testimony in a hybrid form — answering some questions in a face-to-face interview and others in a written statement.

A spokesman for the special counsel’s office, Peter Carr, declined to comment. A White House spokesman referred questions to the president’s legal team. Two attorneys for Trump, Jay Sekulow and John Dowd, declined to comment.

Sitting presidents have been interviewed by prosecutors in the past, though courts have urged government investigators to seek such interviews only when they cannot obtain relevant information another way. In 1998, President Bill Clinton testified for more than four hours before a grand jury via a video link after being subpoenaed by independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr.
1:49
Sanders says Trump is still cooperating with Mueller
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White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said on Jan. 23 that President Trump "is going to be fully cooperative with the special counsel." (Reuters)

Within the past two weeks, the special counsel’s office has indicated to the White House that the central subjects investigators wish to discuss with the president are the departures of Flynn and Comey and the events surrounding their firings.

Mueller has also expressed interest in Trump’s efforts to remove Sessions as attorney general or pressure him into quitting, according to a person familiar with the probe. The person said the special counsel was seeking to determine whether there was a “pattern” of behavior by the president.

Flynn resigned last February after The Washington Post reported that he had misled Vice President Pence and other administration officials about his communications with Sergey Kislyak, then the Russian ambassador to the United States.

Late last year, Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Kislyak. Trump then tweeted that “he had to fire General Flynn because he lied to the Vice President and the FBI.” Previously, the White House had cited only the false statements to Pence as a rationale for dismissing Flynn.

Trump fired Comey in May, several days after the then-FBI director told Congress that he could not comment on whether there was evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. At the time, Comey was overseeing the Russia probe. Comey later testified that the president had asked him several months earlier whether he could see a way to “letting Flynn go.”

Earlier this month, Trump declined to say whether he would grant an interview to Mueller and his team, deflecting questions on the topic by saying there had been “no collusion” between his campaign and Russia during the 2016 presidential election.

“We’ll see what happens,” Trump said when asked directly about meeting with the special counsel.

Behind the scenes, the president has told his team of lawyers that he is not worried about being interviewed because he has done nothing wrong, according to people familiar with his views. His attorneys also support a sit-down, as long as there are clear parameters and topics.

However, some of Trump’s close advisers and friends fear that a face-to-face interview with Mueller could put the president in legal jeopardy. A central worry, they say, is Trump’s lack of precision in his speech and his penchant for hyperbole.

People close to Trump have tried to warn him for months that Mueller is a “killer,” in the words of one associate, noting that the special counsel has shown interest in the president’s actions.

Roger Stone, a longtime informal adviser to Trump, said he should try to avoid an interview at all costs, saying that agreeing to such a session would be a “suicide mission.”

“I find it to be a death wish. Why would you walk into a perjury trap?” Stone said. “The president would be very poorly advised to give Mueller an interview.”

Sessions, who has recused himself from oversight of the special counsel investigation, could be a key witness to the events under scrutiny. In 2016, he met at least twice with Kislyak. After Trump was elected, Sessions was one of a small number of administration officials involved in discussions with the president that led to the firing of Comey.

Sessions’s lawyer, Chuck ­Cooper, who accompanied him to his special counsel interview last week, declined to comment.

The attorney general’s role in the investigation and his supervision of the Justice Department have been marked by controversy. At times, he has struggled to explain what was said in private meetings that are now of interest to investigators.

During his confirmation hearing in early 2017, Sessions was asked what he would do if he learned that there had been contacts between Russians and the Trump campaign. He answered: “I did not have communications with the Russians.’’

After The Washington Post reported that he met at least twice with Kislyak in 2016, Sessions announced that he was recusing himself from investigations involving the election, based on the advice of Justice Department ethics lawyers.

He has since maintained that he misunderstood the scope of the question at his confirmation hearing, and that his meetings with Kislyak were fleeting or strictly in his capacity as a U.S. senator. In announcing his recusal, Sessions said: “I never had meetings with Russian operatives or Russian intermediaries about the Trump campaign.”

That assertion is contradicted by the accounts Kislyak provided to his superiors in Moscow, according to current and former U.S. officials.

Kislyak reported to his bosses that he discussed campaign-related matters, including policy issues important to Moscow, with Sessions during the 2016 presidential race.

At the time, Sessions was a top foreign policy adviser to candidate Trump. Kislyak’s accounts of the conversations were intercepted by U.S. spy agencies, which regularly monitor the communications of senior Russian officials in the United States and Russia.

One U.S. official said Sessions has provided “misleading” statements that are “contradicted by other evidence.” A former official said the intelligence indicates that Sessions and Kislyak had “substantive” discussions on matters including Trump’s positions on Russia-related issues and prospects for U.S.-Russia relations in a Trump administration.
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SNL Cold Open: Bush Edition
« Reply #1090 on: January 28, 2018, 12:14:33 AM »
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It Appears Yet Another Trump Staffer Is Ready to Sing for Mueller
« Reply #1091 on: February 01, 2018, 01:31:05 AM »
If only the Fat Lady would show up and start singing.  Then this shit would be OVAH with!  ::)



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http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2018/02/yet-another-trump-staffer-appears-ready-to-sing-for-mueller.html

It Appears Yet Another Trump Staffer Is Ready to Sing for Mueller
By
Margaret Hartmann
@MargHartmann


He’s listening. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

When we learned at the end of October that two former Trump campaign officials, Paul Manafort and Rick Gates, had been indicted and a third, George Papadopoulos, had cut a plea deal, it was widely interpreted as a signal from Special Counsel Robert Mueller to other potential witnesses.

“Oh man, they couldn’t have sent a message any clearer if they’d rented a revolving neon sign in Times Square,’’ Patrick Cotter, a white-collar defense lawyer, told the Washington Post at the time. “And the message isn’t just about Manafort. It’s a message to the next five guys they talk to. And the message is: ‘We are coming, and we are not playing, and we are not bluffing.’’’

It appears they heard Mueller, loud and clear. About a month later, former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI as part of a deal to cooperate with the special counsel. Now the New York Times reports that yet danother former Trump staffer is ready to sing: Mark Corallo, who served as a spokesman for Trump’s legal team before resigning in July.

Mueller’s team is said to be looking into the White House response to reports of Donald Trump Jr.’s June 2016 meeting with a group of Russians who offered dirt on Hillary Clinton. During a flight on Air Force One last July, Trump and White House communications director Hope Hicks reportedly led the drafting of a misleading statement suggesting that the meeting was about Russian adoptions.

Corallo recent received an interview request from Mueller, and is expected to speak with the special counsel in the next two weeks. The Times reports that he’s planning to share some information that Mueller can add to his long list of potential obstruction of justice:

    Mr. Corallo is planning to tell Mr. Mueller about a previously undisclosed conference call with Mr. Trump and Hope Hicks, the White House communications director, according to the three people. Mr. Corallo planned to tell investigators that Ms. Hicks said during the call that emails written by Donald Trump Jr. before the Trump Tower meeting — in which the younger Mr. Trump said he was eager to receive political dirt about Mrs. Clinton from the Russians — “will never get out.” That left Mr. Corallo with concerns that Ms. Hicks could be contemplating obstructing justice, the people said.

Hope Hicks steps off Air Force One on June 30, 2017, about a week before the Don Jr. statement was released. Photo: MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images

Shortly after Donald Trump Jr. released the statement drafted on Air Force One, Corallo, who was not involved in that discussion, publicly suggested that the Trump Tower meeting might have been a Democratic set up to make the Trump team look like they were colluding with Russia. The next day, Corallo and Hicks argued about the response in a conference call with the president. Per the Times:

    In Mr. Corallo’s account — which he provided contemporaneously to three colleagues who later gave it to The Times — he told both Mr. Trump and Ms. Hicks that the statement drafted aboard Air Force One would backfire because documents would eventually surface showing that the meeting had been set up for the Trump campaign to get political dirt about Mrs. Clinton from the Russians.


    According to his account, Ms. Hicks responded that the emails “will never get out” because only a few people had access to them. Mr. Corallo, who worked as a Justice Department spokesman during the George W. Bush administration, told colleagues he was alarmed not only by what Ms. Hicks had said — either she was being naïve or was suggesting that the emails could be withheld from investigators — but also that she had said it in front of the president without a lawyer on the phone and that the conversation could not be protected by attorney-client privilege.

Corallo reportedly cut off the call when Trump started asking about the documents, telling him he needed to speak to his legal team. He then jotted down notes about the call, notified the legal team about the conversation, and brought his concerns to Steve Bannon, Trump’s chief strategist at the time.

Corallo told the paper on Wednesday that he doesn’t dispute any of the information provided by his colleagues. However, Hicks released a rare statement denying his claims.

“As most reporters know, it’s not my practice to comment in response to questions from the media. But this warrants a response,” said her lawyer, Robert P. Trout. “She never said that. And the idea that Hope Hicks ever suggested that emails or other documents would be concealed or destroyed is completely false.”
Mark Corallo, holding a beverage, leaves a press conference with former Trump attorney Marc Kasowitz on June 8, 2017 in Washington, D.C. Photo: Zach Gibson/Bloomberg via Getty Images

This development is seriously bad for Team Trump, for a number of reasons. First, while the Trump team often stresses that it’s not a crime to lie to the media, if Hicks did suggest that evidence could be withheld or destroyed, that could help prosecutors establish intent in an obstruction case.

Second, it may mean that Hicks is in more serious trouble. If she is, in fact, as naive or deceitful as the Corallo story suggests, did she say anything incriminating when she was interviewed by Mueller’s team in December? In Fire and Fury, Michael Wolff reported that in response to the bungled Trump Tower meeting response, Bannon shouted a Hicks that she needed to get a lawyer.

“You don’t know what you are doing,” Bannon reportedly shouted. “You don’t know how much trouble you are in … You are as dumb as a stone!”

Wolff also reported that Corallo quit because he believed the Air Force One meeting amounted to obstruction of justice, which the Times report seems to confirm. That brings us to the third issue for Team Trump: new fears of disloyalty. It’s actually not that shocking that Corallo would rat on his former White House colleagues. Last summer the Times noted that shortly before he was hired, the longtime conservative posted a number of tweets criticizing President Trump, Ivanka Trump, and Jared Kushner. There was also this comment about Meuller, whose time leading the FBI overlaps with Corallo’s tenure at the Justice Department:

More recently Corallo accused some on Mueller’s team of “not just hyperpartisanship, but what seems to be actual efforts to go after Trump and his associates without the objectivity that is required of prosecutors and investigators,” but he still said Trump firing Mueller would be a “colossal mistake.”

Even if what Corallo actually tells Mueller doesn’t amount to anything, his reported plan to spill new information is likely to raise fears of disloyalty among White House staffers, as well as with the president himself. And as we’ve learned, when Trump gets fixated on the loyalty of his subordinates, nothing good comes of it.
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    russia probe robert mueller mark corallo hope hicks politics
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Online RE

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Schiff: Nunes gave Trump 'secretly altered' version of memo
« Reply #1092 on: February 01, 2018, 01:36:16 AM »
ALTERED BULLSHIT?  ???  ::)

RE

Schiff: Nunes gave Trump 'secretly altered' version of memo
By John Bowden - 01/31/18 10:16 PM EST

FBI warns it has 'grave concerns' about omissions in Nunes memo
TheHill.com
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California Rep. Adam Schiff (D) claimed late Wednesday that House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) shared with President Trump a "secretly altered" version of the Republican-crafted memo alleging corrosive abuse of United States surveillance powers by the Justice Department.

Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, made the claims in a letter to Nunes, accusing the committee chair of making "substantive" changes to the confidential memo before sharing it with White House counsel for release.

Those changes, Schiff said, were not approved by the full committee as protocol dictates.

"Discovered late tonight that Chairman Nunes made material changes to the memo he sent to White House – changes not approved by the Committee. White House therefore reviewing a document the Committee has not approved for release." Schiff said in a tweet.

Trump was expected to announce early Friday his decision on releasing the controversial, classified memo. Schiff's letter could delay such a decision.

"This evening the Committee Minority discovered that the classified memorandum shared by the Committee Majority with the White House is not, in fact, the same document that Members of the House of Representatives have been reviewing since January 18, 2018 and that the Committee Majority voted on Monday to release to the public, over objections from the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation," the letter from Schiff reads.

Schiff goes on to say that after Democrats found the document "had been secretly altered," committee Republicans offered them the opportunity to compare the memo sent to the White House with the memo that was made public to all House Members.

According to Schiff, after comparing the two versions "it is clear" that Republicans "made material changes to the version it sent to the White House, which Committee Members were never apprised of, never had the opportunity to review and never approved."

Jack Langer, the spokesman for Nunes, said in a statement that Schiff's letter amounted to another "strange attempt to thwart publication of the memo."

"In its increasingly strange attempt to thwart publication of the memo, the Committee Minority is now complaining about minor edits to the memo, including grammatical fixes and two edits requested by the FBI and by the Minority themselves," Langer said. "The vote to release the memo was absolutely procedurally sound, and in accordance with House and Committee rules. To suggest otherwise is a bizarre distraction from the abuses detailed in the memo, which the public will hopefully soon be able to read for themselves."
Schiff's letter comes after the FBI denounced the document in a statement earlier Wednesday, saying it has "grave concerns" about the charges made in the memo.
 
"As expressed during our initial review, we have grave concerns about material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo’s accuracy," the bureau said.
 
Committee Republicans led by Nunes voted on Monday to release the document to the public, following a review by White House counsel. The memo purportedly details abuses of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) by the U.S. government.
 
The memo was then turned over to Trump, who is expected to review the document and ultimately decide on whether it is made public.
 
Committee Democrats have warned that the document is inaccurate, and led by Schiff have drafted their own memo with the intent to counter Republicans' claims. That memo, however, was voted down when Democrats on the committee attempted to make it public.
 
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schummer (D-N.Y.) called on House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) to "put an end to this charade" after Schiff sent his letter to Nunes.
 
"It’s clear that Chairman Nunes will seemingly stop at nothing to undermine the rule of law and interfere with the Russia probe," Schumer said. "He’s been willing to carry the White House’s water, attack our law enforcement and intelligence officials, and now to mislead his House colleagues. If Speaker Ryan cares about the integrity of the House or the rule of law, he will put an end to this charade once and for all.”
 
 
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Offline azozeo

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Trumpty-Dumpty POTUS Thread - "The Memo" hot off the grill...
« Reply #1093 on: February 02, 2018, 02:42:26 PM »
http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/house-intelligence-memo-released-what-it-says/article/2647937
I know exactly what you mean. Let me tell you why you’re here. You’re here because you know something. What you know you can’t explain, but you feel it. You’ve felt it your entire life, that there’s something wrong with the world.
You don’t know what it is but its there, like a splinter in your mind

Online RE

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📺 SNL Cold Open 2/3/2018: Trupovetsky on Fox
« Reply #1094 on: February 04, 2018, 01:48:24 AM »
<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/K45mFsyZxtU" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/K45mFsyZxtU</a>
« Last Edit: February 04, 2018, 01:50:54 AM by RE »
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