“Manafort” – Google News: Prosecutors: Michael Cohen deserves substantial prison time; Paul Manafort lied about contacts – WPVI-TV

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Prosecutors: Michael Cohen deserves substantial prison time; Paul Manafort lied about contacts  WPVI-TV

Prosecutors say ex-Trump lawyer Michael Cohen deserves substantial prison time and former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort lied about his contacts …

“Manafort” – Google News


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“Manafort” – Google News: READ: Special counsel Robert Mueller’s filing on Paul Manafort – CNN

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READ: Special counsel Robert Mueller’s filing on Paul Manafort  CNN

(CNN). Show-Temp-1 (PDF) · Show-Temp-1 (Text). Mueller filing on Paul Manafort. Document. Pages. Notes. Text. Zoom. CLOSE. Previous for “” Next. p. 1.

“Manafort” – Google News


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1. Trump from Michael_Novakhov (198 sites): “michael flynn” – Google News: Robert Mueller and federal prosecutors report on Michael Cohen: Live updates – CNN

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Robert Mueller and federal prosecutors report on Michael Cohen: Live updates  CNN

Special counsel Robert Mueller and federal prosecutors in New York have filed memos on Donald Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen. Follow …

“michael flynn” – Google News

1. Trump from Michael_Novakhov (198 sites)


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“Manafort” – Google News: Prosecutors Say Paul Manafort Lied About His Contacts With Trump Administration Officials – BuzzFeed News

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Prosecutors Say Paul Manafort Lied About His Contacts With Trump Administration Officials  BuzzFeed News

WASHINGTON – The special counsel’s office said in a new filing Friday night that former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort told a series of lies about a variety …

“Manafort” – Google News


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1. Trump from Michael_Novakhov (198 sites): Palmer Report: Michael Cohen sentencing memo formally accuses Donald Trump of directing criminal conspiracy to alter the outcome of the 2016 election

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The SDNY and Robert Mueller have officially said their piece about Michael Cohen this evening. SDNY recommended that Cohen get about four years in prison for substantial but incomplete cooperation in light of his severe crimes, and Mueller says he has no opinion on the sentence. But the real upshot here is the part of the sentencing memo that relates to Donald Trump.




Here’s how Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe is interpreting the sentencing memo: “The Dec 7 filing in SDNY on Michael Cohen’s sentencing charges that President Trump (aka “Individual 1”) directed a criminal conspiracy with his attorney Cohen to violate the federal election laws in order to increase his odds of winning the presidency by deceiving voters.” Various legal experts are saying that, based on this, Donald Trump would be getting criminally indicted and arrested right now if he weren’t holding the office of “president.”




Where does this get us? Donald “Individual 1” Trump is now being formally accused by a U.S. Attorney’s office of having not only directed a felony criminal conspiracy, but having done so to the outcome of the 2016 presidential election in the process. In other words, Trump really did criminally cheat to get himself elected – and that’s before getting to any of the collusion with Russia, which is coming.



There are no criminal statutes or constitutional clauses that say a candidate is “disqualified” for having criminally cheated, or anything along those lines. This kind of revelation doesn’t cause a trap door to open up under Donald Trump. Robert Mueller and the rest of the federal government will still have to oust him the hard way. But if nothing else, we now know two things: Trump is officially a damn criminal, and he isn’t the “president” of anything.

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The post Michael Cohen sentencing memo formally accuses Donald Trump of directing criminal conspiracy to alter the outcome of the 2016 election appeared first on Palmer Report.

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1. Trump from Michael_Novakhov (198 sites): Donald Trump: Trump’s Evangelical Supporters On Apostles’ Creed Gaffe: ‘I Can’t Sing Either’

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Franklin Graham and Robert Jeffress defend Trump after he was criticized for not reciting the prayer at former President George H.W. Bush’s funeral.

Donald Trump

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“2016 Presidential Election Investigation” – Google News: Prosecutors Want Substantial Sentence for Cohen – KAAL

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Prosecutors Want Substantial Sentence for Cohen  KAAL

Prosecutors say Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer, should serve a substantial prison term …

“2016 Presidential Election Investigation” – Google News


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1. Trump from Michael_Novakhov (198 sites): “Donald Trump” – Google News: Prosecutors want ‘substantial term of imprisonment’ for Michael Cohen – CNN

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Prosecutors want ‘substantial term of imprisonment’ for Michael Cohen  CNN

New York (CNN) Federal prosecutors Friday requested that Donald Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen receive “a substantial term of …

“Donald Trump” – Google News

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1. Trump from Michael_Novakhov (198 sites): Palmer Report: SDNY throws the book at Michael Cohen, but Robert Mueller says he’s been helpful. Now what?

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So that’s that. As expected, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York has published its sentencing memo just now for Michael Cohen. He had asked for essentially a free pass. But the SDNY read him the riot act over the severity of his confessed crimes, even while acknowledging that he’d been cooperative in some (but not all) of the relevant criminal investigations.




The SDNY is recommending that Michael Cohen receive only a “modest” reduction from the prison sentencing guidelines, which are in the four to five year range. So this would mean Cohen is likely to get perhaps three years in prison. Robert Mueller then released a statement saying that while Cohen had provided him with significant cooperation, he had no opinion on what sentence Cohen should receive, meaning he’s essentially shrugging and leaving it to SDNY. So now what?




We’re still digging through the lengthy document to see what it reveals about Michael Cohen’s Trump-connected crimes. In the meantime it’s important to note that just last week, Robert Mueller had Cohen go into court and reveal Donald Trump’s role and motive in the Trump Tower Moscow conspiracy during the 2016 election. So it’s clear that Mueller has managed to put Cohen to good use – and there is likely more to this that hasn’t been revealed yet.



Now we wait to see what Robert Mueller has to say later this evening when he files the sentencing memo for Paul Manafort. In that document, Mueller will be laying out Manafort’s lies and crimes. Rudy Giuliani gave away earlier today that Mueller plans to accuse Manafort of having lied about the fact that Donald Trump knew about the Trump Tower meeting with the Russians. That may or may not be the full story. Stay tuned.

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The post SDNY throws the book at Michael Cohen, but Robert Mueller says he’s been helpful. Now what? appeared first on Palmer Report.

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“Manafort” – Google News: ‘Substantial term of imprisonment’ recommended for former Trump attorney Michael Cohen – CBC.ca

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‘Substantial term of imprisonment’ recommended for former Trump attorney Michael Cohen  CBC.ca

Federal prosecutors in Manhattan on Friday asked a judge to sentence Michael Cohen, the former personal lawyer for U.S. President Donald Trump, to a …

“Manafort” – Google News


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1. Trump from Michael_Novakhov (198 sites): Politics: Federal prosecutors recommend ‘substantial’ prison term for former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen

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Cohen pleaded guilty in August to tax evasion, making a false statement to a bank, and campaign finance violations, admitting that he helped buy the silence of two women who alleged they had affairs with Trump. Last month, Cohen added a guilty plea to one count of making a false statement to Congress, admitting that […]

Politics

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1. Trump from Michael_Novakhov (198 sites): Lawfare – Hard National Security Choices: Document: U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York Files Michael Cohen Sentencing Memo

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Today, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York filed its sentencing memo in the Michael Cohen case. The sentencing memo is available here and below: 

 

 

USDOJ Cohen 20181207 (PDF)

USDOJ Cohen 20181207 (Text)

Lawfare – Hard National Security Choices

1. Trump from Michael_Novakhov (198 sites)


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1. Trump from Michael_Novakhov (198 sites): “organized crime and intelligence” – Google News: No bail for Westmoorings four – Trinidad News

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No bail for Westmoorings four  Trinidad News

BAIL was denied, at least until Monday, to the four people who were arrested earlier this week at an apartment at Regents Gardens, Westmoorings during a …

“organized crime and intelligence” – Google News

1. Trump from Michael_Novakhov (198 sites)


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1. Trump from Michael_Novakhov (198 sites): Lawfare – Hard National Security Choices: Document: Guantanamo Detainee Files Cert Petition

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On Dec. 5, counsel for Guantanamo detainee Moath Hamza Ahmed al-Alwi filed a petition for a writ of certiorari with the United States Supreme Court. Al-Alwi is a Yemeni citizen who was captured in Pakistan in 2001 and has been detained at Guantanamo Bay since 2002.

Al-Alwi disputes his classification as an enemy combatant and argues that the U.S. government lacks the authority to detain him under the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force. Both the district and circuit courts denied al-Alwi’s habeas petition. His petition for certiorari and the accompanying appendix are available in full below:

Petition for Writ of Certiorari:

Appendix:

 

Lawfare – Hard National Security Choices

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1. Trump from Michael_Novakhov (198 sites): Just Security: Norms Watch: Damage to Democracy and Rule of Law in November 2018

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Here is the latest installment of Norms Watch, our series tracking the flouting of democratic norms by the Trump administration and the erosion those norms suffer as a result. This is our collection of the most significant breaks with democratic traditions that occurred in November 2018. Please let us know if you think we missed any.

Trump appoints Whitaker as attorney general

After the midterm elections, President Donald Trump moved quickly to force out Attorney General Jeff Sessions, with whom the president had long been frustrated because of his recusal in the Russia investigation. He replaced Sessions with Matthew Whitaker, a Trump loyalist who had been working as Sessions’ chief of staff at the Justice Department. Whitaker faced immediate scrutiny for his critical public comments of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, his lack of experience and his involvement in a company accused of fraud.

Jeff Sessions Is Forced Out as Attorney General as Trump Installs Loyalist by The New York Times’ Peter Baker, Katie Benner and Michael D. Shear

Mueller’s investigation of Trump is going too far by Matthew Whitaker for CNN

Matt Whitaker: Sessions’s replacement a longtime critic of Mueller inquiry by The Guardian’s Ben Jacobs

Trump’s Appointment of the Acting Attorney General Is Unconstitutional by Neal K. Katyal and George T. Conway III for The New York Times

Whitaker May Be a Bad Choice, but He’s a Legal One by Stephen I. Vladeck for The New York Times

Acting attorney general Whitaker has no intention of recusing himself from Russia probe, associates say by The Washington Post’s Devlin Barrett , Matt Zapotosky and Josh Dawsey

Whitaker’s Ascent at Justice Dept. Surprised Investigators of Firm Accused of Fraud by The New York Times’ Charlie Savage, Adam Goldman and Katie Benner

Trump plays up border crisis before midterm elections and then abandons it once voting is over

In the days and weeks leading up to the midterm elections, Trump used increasingly divisive and dangerous rhetoric when talking about the so-called “caravan” of Central American migrants who were making their way through Mexico toward the U.S. border to flee violence or poverty in their home countries. In a move widely viewed as a political stunt, Trump deployed thousands of active-duty troops to the U.S.-Mexico border for a mission that he described in far different terms than the military commanders in charge. After the November 6 elections, Trump all but ceased to talk about the caravan, and the troop deployment started to lose steam and what little purpose it had.

Migrant caravan: Trump suggests immigrants could be shot if they throw rocks at military by USA Today’s Christal Hayes

Joint Chiefs chair says soldiers will not be involved in denying border entry to migrants by CNN’s Kate Sullivan and Ryan Browne

Deployed Inside the United States: The Military Waits for the Migrant Caravan by The New York Times’ Thomas Gibbons-Neff and Helene Cooper

Pentagon Dropping Use of ‘Faithful Patriot’ as Name for Border Deployment by The Wall Street Journal’s Nancy A. Youssef

A Week After the Midterms, Trump Seems to Forget the Caravan by The New York Times’ Maggie Haberman and Mark Landler

Corruption flourishes: Favors and rewards for Trump’s friends

November also saw more stories about friends and supporters of Trump receiving special rewards or opportunities to influence policy and make money. Meanwhile, Trump and his family members continued to make money off the properties they never divested, raising questions about conflicts of interest.

Watchdog office to probe Mar-a-Lago members’ influence at VA by POLITICO’s Lorraine Woellert

Wife of GOP megadonor to receive Presidential Medal of Freedom by POLITICO’s Quint Forgey

Trump picks handbag designer, Mar-a-Lago member to be envoy to South Africa by CNN’s  Nicole Gaouette and Elizabeth Landers

Trump picks another Mar-a-Lago member for ambassador by The Palm Beach Post’s Christine Stapleton

Ivanka Trump made $3.9 million from D.C. hotel in 2017 by POLITICO’s Josh Gerstein and Darren Samuelsohn

China grants 16 trademarks to defunct Ivanka Trump business by CNN’s Steven Jiang and Serenitie Wang

Chief Justice Roberts Rebukes Trump

After Trump attacked the judicial branch yet again — this time calling a judge who ruled against the administration’s legally dubious asylum policy an “Obama judge” — Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts responded in a rare statement, defending the political independence of the judiciary. Trump responded to him via Twitter.

Chief Justice Defends Judicial Independence After Trump Attacks ‘Obama Judge’ by The New York Times’ Adam Liptak

Trump dismisses Roberts rebuke and blames judges for ‘bedlam and chaos’ by The Guardian’s Martin Pengelly

Trump’s misinformation on appeals court by the AP’s Calvin Woodward and Mark Sherman

Trump’s ceaseless attacks on the media continue

The pipe bomb sent to CNN by Cesar Sayoc, a Trump fanatic, in October, has done nothing to temper Trump’s attacks on the media. If anything, Trump has intensified criticism following the midterms elections. He’s shown open hostility toward reporters during briefings, insulting them regularly. In a spat with CNN’s Jim Acosta, the White House shared a doctored video to make it look like Acosta had aggressively handled a White House aide after she attempted to take the microphone from him at a briefing. The White House stripped Acosta of his White House badge, but then was forced to quickly reinstate it.

‘You’re a very rude person.’ ‘That’s enough.’ ‘Sit down.’ Trump’s news conference turns hostile by The Washington Post’s Lindsey Bever

White House bans CNN reporter Jim Acosta after a confrontation with Trump by the AP

White House shares doctored video to support punishment of journalist Jim Acosta by The Washington Post’s Drew Harwell

‘What a stupid question’: Trump demeans three black female reporters in three days by The Washington Post’s Paul Farhi

After the White House Banned Jim Acosta, Should Other Journalists Boycott Its Press Briefings? by The New Yorker’s Masha Gessen

CNN v Trump Might Be Over. But the Dangers Are Just Beginning. by Neal Katyal and Bruce Brown for POLITICO

Judge orders Trump administration to restore CNN reporter Jim Acosta’s White House press pass by CNBC’s Kevin Breuninger

CNN’s Jim Acosta Returns to the White House After Judge’s Ruling by The New York Times’ Michael M. Grynbaum and Emily Baumgaertner

Trump Proposes State-Run TV Network to Show the World How Great He Is by Vanity Fair’s Bess Levin

Trump blames media for inciting violence “by not writing the truth” by Axios

Trump attacks his critics and threatens criminal prosecution of his political rivals and those investigating his campaign’s ties to Russia

A report in the New York Times revealed that Trump told White House General Counsel Don McGahn last spring that he wanted the Justice Department to prosecute Hillary Clinton and James Comey, the former FBI director who was leading an investigation into Trump campaign ties to Russia before Trump fired him in May 2017. Trump also went after retired Adm. William McRaven, who oversaw the special operations raid that killed Osama bin Laden. He called the revered military commander as a “Hillary Clinton fan” and an “Obama backer,” and suggested bin Laden could have been caught much faster. Why did Trump target McRaven? Because the retired Navy SEAL defended former CIA Director John Brennan after Trump revoked his security clearance this summer and has criticized Trump’s description of the news media as the “enemy of the people.”

Trump Wanted to Order Justice Dept. to Prosecute Comey and Clinton by The New York Times’  Michael S. Schmidt and Maggie Haberman

Trump retweets meme calling for imprisonment of his own deputy attorney general by Vox’s Aaron Rupar

Trump’s attack on retired admiral who led bin Laden raid escalates a war of words by The Washington Post’s Paul Sonne and Philip Rucker

RNC backs Trump attack on retired Navy Admiral William McRaven by Fox News’ Samuel Chamberlain

Ethics lapse: Trump family members continue to wield unusual influence; a raft of questionable practices by Trump officials draws scrutiny

From Ivanka Trump’s use of private email to First Lady Melania Trump helping to force out a senior National Security Council official, there were a host of news stories last month that raised serious questions about the influence of Trump’s family members, whether U.S. taxpayer money is being spent wisely by Trump’s cabinet and whether Trump officials are following basic ethical guidelines.

Trump under pressure from Melania to fire top aide by Reuters’ Mark Hosenball, Steve Holland, Roberta Rampton

Donald Trump Played Central Role in Hush Payoffs to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal by The Wall Street Journal’s Joe Palazzolo, Nicole Hong,  Michael Rothfeld, Rebecca Davis O’Brien and Rebecca Ballhaus

U.S. Marshals Service spending millions on DeVos security in unusual arrangement by NBC News’ Heidi Przybyla

Ivanka Trump used a personal email account to send hundreds of emails about government business last year by The Washington Post’s  Carol D. Leonnig and Josh Dawsey

Six White House officials violated the Hatch Act, agency finds by CNBC’s Christina Wilkie

Trump’s Interior secretary calls the Democratic congressman likely to oversee his department a drunk after he wrote a negative op-ed

In one of the month’s weirder moments, Interior Department Secretary Ryan Zinke called Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.), who is expected to chair the House Natural Resources Committee in January when the Democrats take over, a drunk. “It’s hard for him to think straight from the bottom of the bottle,” Zinke tweeted. Why was Zinke so mad at him? Grijalva had written an op-ed calling for Zinke’s resignation because of the numerous ethics investigations Zinke faces. POLITICO described Zinke’s remark, “a stunning breach of decorum for a sitting Cabinet member.”

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke must resign. His multiple scandals show he’s unfit to serve. by  Rep. Raul Grijalva for USA Today

Zinke responds to ethics criticism by calling Democratic lawmaker a drunk by POLITICO’s Ben Lefebvre

Zinke picks fight with key Dem at an odd time by The Hill’s Timothy Cama

Trump spreads rumors of voter fraud and discourages counting all votes in tight elections

As votes were still being counted in tight election races across the country, especially in Florida and Georgia, Trump helped spread rumors of voter fraud.

Donald Trump Doesn’t Want All the Votes in Florida to Be Counted by Mother Jones’ Tonya Riley

As Florida Races Narrow, Trump And Scott Spread Claims Of Fraud Without Evidence by NPR’s Miles Parks, Emily Sullivan and Brian Naylor

Trump is lying about voter fraud in Florida, and media outlets are spreading it by Vox’s Aaron Rupar

Trump jumps into tight Senate races wielding conspiracy theories by CNBC’s Jacob Pramuk and Christina Wilkie

Trump’s “foreign” foreign policy

From Jamal Khashoggi’s murder to his visit to France, Trump’s diplomacy and foreign policy continued to stun the American public and the wor


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1. Trump from Michael_Novakhov (198 sites): “Abedin” – Google News: Watch Jorja Smith’s “The One” video – The FADER

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Watch Jorja Smith’s “The One” video  The FADER

*Fresh* off of a brand new artist Grammy nomination, Jorja Smith has released the music video for “The One,” from her debut album Lost & Found. Watch it up …

“Abedin” – Google News

1. Trump from Michael_Novakhov (198 sites)


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1. Trump from Michael_Novakhov (198 sites): “trump electorate” – Google News: Tucker Carlson is willing to overlook Trump’s personality because of his nationalist rhetoric – The Washington Post

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Tucker Carlson is willing to overlook Trump’s personality because of his nationalist rhetoric  The Washington Post

If only, he has argued, Trump could actually do what he has promised.

“trump electorate” – Google News

1. Trump from Michael_Novakhov (198 sites)


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1. Trump from Michael_Novakhov (198 sites): Politics: Trump stumps for wall funding, criminal justice overhaul. But the wall is what captivates him most.

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One reason for the light focus on the criminal justice bill during Trump’s speech Friday could be that the legislation has split the law enforcement community.

Politics

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1. Trump from Michael_Novakhov (198 sites): Palmer Report: Rudy Giuliani gives away what Robert Mueller is about to hit Donald Trump and Paul Manafort with tonight

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Sometime before the day is over, Special Counsel Robert Mueller will be filing his sentencing memos for Michael Cohen and Paul Manafort. By all accounts, Cohen will get off comparatively lightly for cooperating, while Manafort will have the book thrown at him. Now Donald Trump’s own attorney Rudy Giuliani is giving away what Mueller is about to hit Manafort and Trump with tonight.




For reasons known only to him, Rudy Giuliani is spilling the beans – and it doesn’t look good for Donald Trump at all. Rudy is telling CNN that Robert Mueller believes Paul Manafort lied to him about Trump having known about the meeting that Trump Jr had with the Russians at Trump Tower during the election. Rudy is a frequent liar, but this is the kind of damning thing against his client that he wouldn’t make up, so this is ostensibly true. Where would Rudy know this from? Presumably from Manafort, who is in league with Team Trump. So where does this get us?


Robert Mueller is so sure Paul Manafort is lying, he ripped up their cooperating plea deal, knowing he would then have to convince a judge that Manafort is lying. This means Mueller has proof that Donald Trump knew about the Trump Tower meeting. How would he know this? The most likely source would be Michael Cohen, who by all accounts has been extraordinarily helpful.




Michael Cohen’s credibility as a witness is shot, because he’s admitted to having previously lied about so many things in this scandal. So this suggests to us that Cohen was able to provide some kind of documentation proving that Trump knew. Could it be one of Cohen’s numerous recorded phone calls?



We’ll find out soon enough, as Robert Mueller has to file the Michael Cohen and Paul Manafort documents today. Unless Rudy Giuliani is simply hallucinating, we’re looking at Mueller using the two filings to reveal that Donald Trump knew about the meeting. This comes after Trump almost certainly lied about this in his written answers, which would be a felony.

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The post Rudy Giuliani gives away what Robert Mueller is about to hit Donald Trump and Paul Manafort with tonight appeared first on Palmer Report.

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1. Trump from Michael_Novakhov (198 sites): Lawfare – Hard National Security Choices: What’s Happening in the Litigation Over Matthew Whitaker’s Appointment?

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One month to the day since Attorney General Jeff Sessions left the Justice Department, President Trump indicated to reporters that he will nominate former Attorney General William Barr to serve as Session’s replacement. Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker—who, Trump has said, is “doing a really great job”—will remain in his position pending Barr’s confirmation.

Despite his short tenure, Whitaker’s role generated a wide array of legal action as numerous parties challenged the validity of his appointment. Critics of Trump’s decision claim that the president violated the Appointments Clause of the Constitution when he did not seek Senate approval for Whitaker to temporarily fill the role of attorney general. Others have argued that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is properly the acting attorney general pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 508, the Attorney General Succession Act. 

Over Whitaker’s time leading the Justice Department, I have been tracking ten ongoing cases related to his appointment. Now that Whitaker’s role as acting attorney general has an end date, the legal questions raised by his appointment will be further complicated to some unknown degree. While some of these cases may be resolved as moot, others may transform over the coming months as Whitaker remains acting attorney general throughout Barr’s confirmation process. Given Barr’s credentials, his confirmation is likely to be successful—but an individual facing numerous legal challenges to his appointment will likely remain the head of the Justice Department until January or February at the earliest.

Regardless of how these cases eventually play out, the legal confusion generated by Whitaker’s appointment remains for the moment—though it has flown under the radar in the weeks since Whitaker took over as head of the Justice Department.  The government has had to devote time and energy to responding to the implications of Whitaker’s appointment in a wide range of cases. The cases themselves raise a number of interesting questions, and they are worth examining in greater depth regardless of how Whitaker’s situation proceeds in the coming weeks.

There are six cases currently at the district court level, four of which arose from matters unrelated to the Whitaker appointment. In these cases, the plaintiffs incorporated challenges to Whitaker’s appointment into ongoing litigation. In Maryland v. U.S., litigation over the administration’s handling of the Affordable Care Act, the plaintiffs seek a preliminary injunction preventing the case from proceeding with Whitaker appearing as acting attorney general, and to substitute Rosenstein for Sessions as a defendant. In O.A. v. Trump, the plaintiffs are challenging the validity of the recently-issued Justice Department and Department of Homeland Security rule limiting who may seek asylum in the United States, as it was issued under Whitaker’s authority. The defendants in U.S. v. Valencia filed a motion to dismiss the criminal case against them—involving alleged theft of oil from Texas energy companies—based on Whitaker’s lack of authority to prosecute. And the defendants in U.S. v. Haning, a wire fraud prosecution, filed a motion to dismiss the indictment or disqualify the prosecution on the grounds that the three attorneys prosecuting the case are “special attorneys” deriving their authority directly from the attorney general.

Of the remaining two district court cases, Rojo-Ramirez v. Trump involves a Colorado resident who filed a complaint on Dec. 4 arguing that U.S. immigration judges are temporarily without authority given they are appointed by the attorney general. And in Blumenthal v. Whitaker, Democratic Sens. Richard Blumenthal, Sheldon Whitehouse and Mazie Hirono brought a suit against both Whitaker and Trump arguing that the Senate was unconstitutionally denied the opportunity to vote on Whitaker’s appointment.

At the appellate level, Alsomairi v. Dawson concerns a challenge to a 1996 deportation order. Second is the ongoing legal battle between Roger Stone associate Andrew Miller and Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Miller’s motion attacking Whitaker’s appointment is his latest effort to resist grand jury subpoenas.

The parties in Michaels v. Whitaker are waiting to hear on their petition for a writ of certiorari from the Supreme Court. The case initially concerned whether felons can be denied the right to purchase firearms; however, nine days after Sessions resigned the plaintiffs filed a motion to substitute that included a challenge to Whitaker’s appointment.

The final case is before Whitaker himself. On Oct. 18, Jeff Sessions directed the Board of Immigration Appeals to refer an immigration case to him in his role as attorney general. The American Immigration Council filed an amicus brief on Dec. 3 claiming that Whitaker is unable to preside over this case given his “unlawful” designation.

Of these cases, there have been interesting developments in a few. Most substantively, the government has filed motions in five cases (Maryland v. U.S., Michaels v. Whitaker, Miller v. U.S., U.S. v. Valencia, and U.S. v. Haning) laying out its arguments in defense of Whitaker’s appointment. The content of these arguments is essentially identical across the various cases. In fact, defense counsel in Haning accused the Justice Department of “effectively copying and pasting [its] response” to the challenge to Whitaker’s appointment from one case to another.

As a statutory matter, the government contends that Trump’s decision was valid “pursuant to the President’s well-settled authority under the Federal Vacancies Reform Act” (FVRA). Under the FVRA, if an officer of an executive agency “dies, resigns, or is otherwise unable to perform the functions and duties of the office” then the president has three options for the officer’s replacement:

(1) the first assistant to the office of such officer shall perform the functions and duties of the office temporarily in an acting capacity.

(2) notwithstanding paragraph (1), the President (and only the President) may direct a person who serves in an office for which appointment is required to be made by the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, to perform the functions and duties of the vacant office temporarily in an acting capacity .

(3) notwithstanding paragraph (1), the President (and only the President) may direct an officer or employee of such Executive agency to perform the functions and duties of the vacant office temporarily in an acting capacity.

The government contends that the president acted lawfully on his authority under the third option, given that Whitaker’s service as Sessions’s chief of staff fulfills the statutory requirements of 5 USC § 3345(a)(3), and that Whitaker’s selection was not precluded by 28 U.S.C. § 508, which states that “the Deputy Attorney General may exercise all the duties” of the attorney general if the latter office is vacant.

On constitutional grounds, the Justice Department argues that Whitaker’s appointment did not violate the Appointments Clause because the acting attorney general is not a principal officer of the United States. Principal officers must be nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate under the Appointments Clause, while inferior officers need not be. Across court documents, the Justice Department cites United States v. Eaton, a 1898 case in which the Supreme Court found that “an inferior officer may perform the duties of a principal officer ‘for a limited time[] and under special and temporary conditions’ without ‘transform[ing]’ his office into one for which Senate confirmation is required.” Under Eaton, the government argues, Whitaker is an inferior officer and his appointment is appropriate without Senate confirmation. Notably, the Justice Department nevertheless maintains, “There is no question that Senate confirmation is an important constitutional check.”

The Trump administration has so far articulated some variation of this argument in five of the ongoing cases. Only in one case, U.S. v. Haning, has the defendant responded to the government’s formal position. Haning’s counsel underscored the historic significance of Whitaker’s appointment, arguing that, “for the first time in history, the President has circumvented that structural system of checks and balances by forcing the resignation of an Attorney General and appointing his replacement without submitting his name to the Senate for confirmation.” Directly criticizing the government’s reliance on United States v. Eaton as precedent, the defendant argued that the situation in that case was “far from the Constitutional crisis facing the Nation today.” The principal officer at issue in Eaton was “vice-consul to Siam”—a relatively low-level position—who grew “gravely ill, leaving no Senate-confirmed official behind.” Whitaker, on the other hand, “holds one of the most important and powerful positions in the world.”

So far, most courts have not yet ruled on the question of Whitaker’s appointment. On Nov. 28, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, in Alsomairi, denied the plaintiff’s motion regarding Whitaker as moot after dismissing his appeal on unrelated grounds.

In Valencia v. United States, however, the court tackled Whitaker’s appointment head-on. On Nov. 27, Judge David Alan Ezra of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas denied the defendants’ motion to dismiss the indictment against them due to Whitaker’s lack of authority. In a 20-page order, Judge Ezra agreed with all four elements of the government’s argument and held that:

(1) Whitaker’s appointment is valid under the Federal Vacancies Reform Act (”FVRA”); (2) even if it is an invalid appointment under the Attorney General Succession Act (“AGSA”), there is still an Acting Attorney General with the authority to continue this prosecution; (3) the appointment is constitutional under the Appointments Clause of the Constitution of the United States; and (4) regardless of any statutory or constitutional problems with the appointment, the United States Attorney for the Western District of Texas has the authority to continue this prosecution.

On the second point, Judge Ezra wrote that, even if Whitaker is not lawfully the acting attorney general, by the defendants’ own argument Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein would be acting attorney general under 28 U.S.C. § 508—and Rosenstein would have the authority to oversee the defendants’ prosecution.

Judge Ezra sided with the government on one final issue worth noting—and while his decision is not surprising, it could well have caused Justice Department officials to breathe a sigh of relief. The defendants argued in their motion to dismiss the case that “the Department of Justice and all of its subordinate officers lack the constitutional authority to act” given that those subordinates derive their authority from the attorney general himself. David Kris articulated a similar concern in the weeks immediately following Whitaker’s appointment. Writing for Lawfare, Kris explained:

There is a general rule that …, “actions taken in violation of the FVRA are void ab initio”—meaning that they “shall have no force and effect” and “may not be ratified” after the fact … If a reviewing court finds Whitaker’s appointment improper and takes that approach to the scope of the remedy, the Justice Department may be in big trouble.

Kris noted that this drastic decision could be forestalled by the independent grants of authority to various officials within the Justice Department, including U.S. attorneys, who may “prosecute for all offenses against the United States” under 28 USC § 547(1), though under the attorney general’s control. Judge Ezra took this view and called the defendants’ argument on this issue “misplaced.” The judge wrote that the authority that the U.S. attorney for the Western District of Texas has to prosecute the case under § 547(1) “is not affected by the designation of the Acting Attorney General.”

Judge Ezra disagreed with the government on one key, if hypothetical, issue: would President Trump have been able to appoint Whitaker under the FVRA if Sessions were fired, rather than resigned? This is an important question because Sessions wrote that he was submitting his resignation letter to the president “at your request”—seemingly acknowledging Trump forced Sessions out. The language of the FVRA specifies that the president may appoint a replacement if the officer “dies, resigns, or is otherwise unable to perform the functions and duties of the office,” but it is not clear whether being fired delegates an individual “unable to perform” their official role. In a Notice filed on Dec. 3 in Maryland v. U.S., the government claims that Sessions “submitted his resignation ‘[a]t [the President’s] request,” an action that still constitutes a resignation under the language of section 3345(a). However, the government argued in the same filing that even if Sessions were fired, “he still would have been rendered ‘otherwise unable to perform the functions and duties of the office,’” and Trump would have been able to appoint Whitaker his replacement. Judge Ezra disputes this interpretation: although the FVRA does not differentiate between voluntary and involuntary resignation, he claims the statute would nevertheless be “inapplicable” if the president had fired Sessions.

Judge Ezra also wrote that Whitaker’s appointment could be challenged in the future if the president were to “make a statement that implies Whitaker’s appointment is permanent” and suggested that, at some point during the 210-day period Whitaker is allowed to serve as acting attorney general under the FVRA, his appointment might “shift[] … into one requiring Senate confirmation.” Notably, the judge turned to Trump’s Twitter account to gauge how long Whitaker had served in the role: “As there has been no official order, all the Court can examine regarding the length of the appointment or designation are the President’s tweets.”

Judge Ezra explicitly refused to “engage in speculation as to if and when the President will nominate a permanent Attorney General.” That may be a wise approach given the uncertainty of the present moment—even after Barr’s nomination. As President Trump articulated on a Thanksgiving day phone call, “Matt Whitaker is a highly respected person…  [But] once I choose somebody, they always go through hell.”

Lawfare – Hard National Security Choices

1. Trump from Michael_Novakhov (198 sites)


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1. Trump from Michael_Novakhov (198 sites): Politics: N.C. GOP candidate says he ‘would wholeheartedly support a new election’ if evidence of fraud emerges

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Mark Harris said in a video statement that he and his campaign are “cooperating fully” with investigators, a shift from last week, when he insisted voting irregularities could not have changed the outcome in N.C.’s 9th District.

Politics

1. Trump from Michael_Novakhov (198 sites)


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Saved Stories – Trump Investigations: John Kelly expected to resign soon, no longer on speaking terms with Trump

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Seventeen months in, Kelly and President Donald Trump have reached a stalemate in their relationship and it is no longer seen as tenable by either party. Though Trump asked Kelly over the summer to stay on as chief of staff for two more years, the two have stopped speaking in recent days.

The expected departure would end a tumultuous tenure for Kelly, who was brought on to bring order to the White House but whose time as chief of staff has often been marked by the same infighting and controversy that has largely defined Trump’s presidency from its beginning. Many of the storms in which Kelly became embroiled were by his own making.

Trump is actively discussing a replacement plan, though a person involved in the process said nothing is final right now and ultimately nothing is final until Trump announces it. Potential replacements include Nick Ayers, Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff,

who is still seen as a leading contender

.

CNN reported last month

that Trump was considering potential replacements for several senior positions in his administration as part of a post-midterms staff shakeup.

Once seen as stabilizing force

Sources: Ayers may be Kelly's replacementSources: Ayers may be Kelly's replacement
Sources: Ayers may be Kelly's replacement

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02:08

When Kelly first replaced Reince Priebus as chief of staff last summer, he ruled with an iron fist. He curbed Oval Office access, blocked certain outsiders from being able to call the White House switchboard and had broad authority over staffing.

But in the last months, Kelly has seen his status as chief of staff diminish. Trump began circumventing many of the policies and protocols he enacted, and he was on the verge of being fired or resigning numerous times.

Trump often vacillated between criticizing and praising Kelly, sometimes within minutes of each other. Kelly started holding increasingly fewer senior staff meetings — once daily occurrences were whittled down to weekly gatherings — and began to exert less control over who talks to the President.

White House officials believed Kelly was close to resigning after he

got into a heated shouting match

with national security adviser John Bolton in October. Bolton had criticized Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen during an Oval Office discussion about the border, and Kelly stormed out of the West Wing after their profanity-laced argument spilled over into the hallways.

Controversial tenure

Bolton, Kelly get into heated shouting matchBolton, Kelly get into heated shouting match
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02:12

Kelly’s tenure working for Trump was pocked with controversies, and officials were often amazed at how he managed to survive. Weeks after taking over for Priebus, his predecessor who was unceremoniously fired over Twitter while he sat on a rainy tarmac, Kelly was faced with

Trump’s controversial response

to the racially charged protests in Charlottesville, Virginia. He was photographed looking grim-faced in the lobby of Trump Tower as the President declared there were “good people” on both sides of the racist violence.

At times, Kelly was the source of his own downfall. He insulted Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Florida, using inaccurate information,

later declaring

he would “never” apologize. He said some of those eligible for protections under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals were

“lazy.”

But perhaps most damaging

was his handling

of the situation involving former staff secretary Rob Porter, who was accused by two of his ex-wives of abuse. Kelly’s shifting accounts caused his credibility inside the West Wing to plummet, and it never truly recovered, according to officials. Kelly’s highly criticized handling of the Porter controversy was an inflection point in his tenure, and some of his internal relationships became strained in the months that followed the former staff secretary’s ouster.

This story is breaking and being updated.

CNN’s Kevin Liptak, Jeff Zeleny, Jeremy Diamond and Sarah Westwood contributed to this report.

Saved Stories – Trump Investigations


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“2016 Presidential Election Investigation” – Google News: Mueller investigation – live updates: Trump’s chief of staff John Kelly ‘interviewed in Russia probe’ with reports saying he will resign – The Independent

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Mueller investigation – live updates: Trump’s chief of staff John Kelly ‘interviewed in Russia probe’ with reports saying he will resign  The Independent

Donald Trump has attacked Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe as investigators prepare to release new information about two close associates of …

“2016 Presidential Election Investigation” – Google News


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