WTF Community

Day 872


(Matt Kiser) #1

1/ The Justice Department agreed to provide Congress with "key evidence" collected by Robert Mueller related to obstruction of justice and abuse of power by Trump. House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler said "Mueller's most important files" will be available to all committee members, allowing "us to perform our constitutional duties and decide how to respond to the allegations laid out against the President by the Special Counsel." The House Judiciary Committee, however, moved no closer to securing testimony from Mueller or other figures, such as former White House counsel Donald McGahn, who has declined to testify, citing Trump administration lawyers. (New York Times / CNN / Washington Post)


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://whatthefuckjusthappenedtoday.com/2019/06/10/day-872/

#2

Just let that headline sink in for a moment – it’s bad enough on it’s own, but the details tell an even more damning story – especially when you take into account that Kushner failed to list this company on his security forms until he was called out for it – and when you consider the possible connection with Trump’s recent gift of a massive arms deal to one of the countries who “invested” in this company.

How do we know that the $90 million of dark foreign money is not simply a bribe to the Trump family? The fact is we don’t. Two sources say at least some of the money is from Saudi Arabia. So Saudi Arabia pumps money into a Trump family company and then Trump gifts them a $100 billion arms deal (even though Congress objects). How is this not suspicious? Why isn’t it being investigated? This is simply astounding. When has any other President been so baldfaced about accepting millions of dollars from countries for which he is doing favors?

A real estate company part-owned by Jared Kushner has received $90m in foreign funding from an opaque offshore vehicle since he entered the White House as a senior adviser to his father-in-law Donald Trump.

Investment has flowed from overseas to the company, Cadre, while Kushner works as an international envoy for the US, according to corporate filings and interviews. The money came through a vehicle run by Goldman Sachs in the Cayman Islands, a tax haven that guarantees corporate secrecy.

Excuse me, but the company name alone sounds suspicious. Cadre. Why not just call it Criminal Enterprise, Inc.?

Kushner, who is married to Trump’s elder daughter Ivanka, kept a stake in Cadre after joining the administration, while selling other assets. His holding is now valued at up to $50m, according to his financial disclosure documents. …

“It will cause people to wonder whether he is being improperly influenced,” said Jessica Tillipman, a lecturer at George Washington University law school, who teaches government ethics and anti-corruption laws.

Kushner resigned from Cadre’s board and reduced his ownership stake to less than 25% after he joined the White House, according to his attorneys. He failed to list Cadre on his first ethics disclosure, later adding the company and saying the omission was inadvertent. …

So Kushner reduced his holdings to less than 25%? Big deal. 24.9% of $90 million is still over $22 million. Besides, as the article points out, the company was founded by him, his brother, and his friend – so you can bet any foreign dark money being funneled into the company still winds up in the coffers of family and friends.

The names of the foreigners investing in Cadre via Goldman Sachs are not disclosed by the companies, which are not required to make the information public. Two sources familiar with the firm said much of the money came to the Cayman Islands vehicle from a second offshore tax haven, while some came from Saudi Arabia.

Kushner was initially denied a security clearance by career officials when he joined Trump’s administration. A whistleblower has told Congress it was blocked due to concerns about Kushner’s outside business interests and “foreign influence”. Kushner was later granted a clearance, allegedly after a Trump appointee intervened. …

Trump is doing everything he can to block investigations into how Kushner obtained a security clearance despite all the red flags. Another crime of obstruction by the President.

A spokesman for Cadre declined to comment on the record. A spokesman for Goldman Sachs, Patrick Scanlan, said: “Cadre does not have access to any information about the Goldman Sachs clients who have invested in these vehicles.”

We’re expected to believe that Kushner does not know exactly who dropped the $90 million into his company? Come on. All it would take is one encrypted What’sApp message to let him know. “Hey, that $90 million – it was from us. Now it’s time for you to take care of your end of the bargain.”

The offshore Goldman Sachs vehicle began collecting funds for Cadre in August 2017, according to a securities filing. …

We should be looking at what favors Trump and Kushner were granting to foreign governments at the time. One glaring example: The massive arms deal with Saudi Arabia was shaping up around this time frame. And who was behind that deal? Kushner, of course. “Trump signs Kushner-negotiated $100B Saudi arms deal,” CNN, May 17, 2017.

Compare and contrast Trump’s highly suspicious behavior with other Presidents who have done everything in their power to avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest:

Trump and several members of his administration, including Kushner, have bucked precedent by retaining business interests after entering the government. George W Bush and Bill Clinton moved their wealth into “blind trusts”, while Barack Obama had few assets beyond savings accounts and investments in index funds. …

“The problem with Kushner – and with Trump – is that we have all these corporate entities, and often nobody knows who is invested in them and where those investors borrowed their money. We simply have no idea,” said Painter. …

Kushner says he has excluded himself from government policy on real estate.

Again, big whoop. Does anyone for one second suppose that this $90 million in foreign dark money is narrowly directed towards influencing real estate regulations? It could be a bribe for anything under the sun.

The article does, however, go on to point out how Kushner’s wife flaunts conflict of interest laws when it comes to influencing real estate legislation.

The conflict of interest law treats spouses’ financial interests as combined. Ivanka Trump has been credited by Trump with advocating for an administration policy that promises to be lucrative for real estate developers and investors. She denies any impropriety.

Kushner’s own recusal on real estate matters in front of the government would not in itself prevent him from taking actions in other policy areas that could entice foreign investors to Cadre.

And more lies:

As Trump’s special representative in the Middle East, Kushner has developed a close relationship with Saudi Arabian officials, particularly the crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman. Cadre says it does not have any sovereign wealth funds among its investors.

But above Cadre just finished saying that they don’t know where the $90 million originated that was channeled through Goldman-Sachs. So they were either lying then or they’re lying now when they say they do know that they have not received funds originating from foreign sovereign wealth funds. The two statements cannot both be true.

Boy, does this stink:

Virginia Canter, the chief ethics counsel at the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, said the opaque investments in Cadre would continue raising concerns as Kushner carried out his government duties.

“It was one of the only assets that Kushner retained and it continues to collect foreign investors without transparency,” said Canter, a former White House attorney for Obama and Clinton.

And here’s the maraschino cherry on top of this corruption sundae:

Cadre recently announced plans to raise multimillion-dollar funds to invest in real estate developments in parts of the US covered by the Trump administration’s “opportunity zones” program, which offers valuable tax breaks to developers and investors.

The program was championed by Ivanka Trump, according to her father, who said at the White House that Ivanka had been “pushing this very hard”. The remarks raised allegations that policy she worked on could benefit her husband financially. She has denied any impropriety.

:moneybag: :lying_face:


Day 874
(David Bythewood) #3

Support for Impeachment Has Nearly Doubled Among Independents

A slim majority of Americans want to impeach, censure, or investigate the president.


#4

Trump just can’t let this go. Now he’s doubling down on his claim that there is some secret, “soon to revealed” deal between the U.S. and Mexico – despite Mexico’s continued official protestations to the contrary. This is bonkers. Here’s the latest:

President Donald Trump on Monday afternoon continued to tease an unannounced agreement between the US and Mexico, despite the Mexican Foreign Minister’s declaration that there was no secret or outstanding deal between the two nations.

“We have an agreement on something that they will announce very soon. It’s all done. They have to get approval,” Trump told reporters Monday at the White House, noting that the approval would come from Mexico’s legislative body.

“They will get approval. If they don’t get approval, we’ll have to think in terms of tariffs,” he said.

Hours earlier, the President had tweeted, "We have fully signed and documented another very important part of the Immigration and Security deal with Mexico, one that the U.S. has been asking about getting for many years."

In both cases, Trump did not offer details about what was contained in the alleged agreement.

Mexican Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard, one of the chief negotiators of the deal agreed to on Friday, suggested Monday that he was not aware of another deal.

"Aside from what I’ve explained there is no agreement of any kind, that has been made known," he told reporters in Mexico City. "Everything I’ve been talking about was known since Friday."


#5

This is where the rubber meets the road and House Democrats can show the nation what they’re made of. The question is will they achieve the following over the next two days? It is well within their power to do so.

  • House: A) Pass the resolution described in this article that allows House committees to enforce subpoenas in the courts without the need for a vote of the entire House. B) As also authorized by this resolution, file a lawsuit to obtain the grand jury documents from the Mueller report.

  • Judiciary Committee: A) Hold Don McGahn in contempt for failing to comply with their subpoena for him to testify and B) Authorize court enforcement of the subpoena – the power newly granted to them as described in the first bullet.

  • House Oversight Committee: A) Hold William Barr and Wilbur Ross in contempt for failing to comply with the committee’s subpoena to produce documents related to the citizenship question in the 2020 census and B) Authorize court enforcement of the subpoenas.

Yes, court battles still lie ahead, but these are crucial first steps that must be taken without delay. The clock is ticking.

House Democrats, all eyes are on you! Go for it!

The House will vote Tuesday on a resolution allowing the House Judiciary Committee – and other House panels in the future – to enforce its subpoenas in the courts, though House Democrats aren’t yet holding those who have defied subpoenas in contempt of Congress. though those who have defied subpoenas in contempt of Congress.

The vote comes a day after House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler announced he had struck a deal with the Justice Department to provide some documents from the Mueller report to the Judiciary Committee.

The resolution includes language authorizing the Judiciary panel to go to court to force Attorney General William Barr and former White House counsel Don McGahn to comply with their subpoenas, but Monday’s agreement means that Nadler won’t take any court action against Barr – at least for now.

And the House is not moving forward with a criminal contempt citation against either Barr or McGahn, as the resolution is only focused on civil court action to enforce House subpoenas.

In addition to the subpoenas for Barr and McGahn, the resolution also authorizes the House to sue to obtain grand jury information from the Mueller report, which requires a court order to release. It also includes language empowering committees to go to court to enforce subpoenas in the future while bypassing a floor vote, a potential prelude to more litigation pitting the Trump administration against House Democrats.

Already, the House is fighting a number of lawsuits against the Trump administration as well as the Trump Organization, including related to the Affordable Care Act, Trump’s border wall and subpoenas to banks and accounting firms.

House Democratic aides expect that the House will move swiftly to go to court to try to force McGahn to testify after he skipped an appearance under subpoena last month.

“It is true that fact witnesses have been ordered by the White House not to appear before this committee, but we’ll get them,” Nadler said Monday.

While Nadler said Monday he would not take court action against Barr so long as the Justice Department acted in “good faith,” he also did not rule out doing so in the future if the Justice Department stopped cooperating.

“I am pleased that we have reached an agreement to review at least some of the evidence underlying the Mueller report – including interview notes, first-hand accounts of misconduct, and other critical evidence – and that this material will be made available without delay to members on both sides of the aisle,” Nadler said. “As a result, I see no need to resort to the criminal contempt statute to enforce our April 19 subpoena, at least for now, so long as the Department upholds its end of the bargain.”

But even before Nadler had struck the agreement with the Justice Department, the House had not planned to pursue criminal contempt of Congress on the House floor, as the resolution introduced last week only referenced the court action, which is known colloquially as “civil contempt.”

After Nadler agreed last month to narrow the scope of his subpoena – which initially asked for the unredacted Mueller report and all of the special counsel’s evidence – the Justice Department had said it could negotiate with the panel so long as contempt did not move forward.

A Justice Department official said the department views Tuesday’s vote as only dealing with court action, and not related to contempt.

But more contempt fights – and likely lawsuits – are looming. House Oversight Chairman Elijah Cummings announced Monday evening that his committee would vote Wednesday to hold Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt of Congress over that panel’s subpoenas in its investigation into adding a citizenship question on the 2020 Census.


Congressional Committee Investigations into Trump 2019