Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Last Call For It's Mueller Time, Con't

Just in case there's still anyone other than Donald Trump who actually believes there was no collusion between his campaign and the Russian government in 2016, Mueller basically has everything and has had it since he raided Paul Manafort's home back in July.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller and FBI agents seized tens of thousands of items from the home of Paul Manafort last July and have also reviewed testimony that he gave in a civil lawsuit about a protracted business dispute with Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska.

Mueller, who is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election, disclosed his review of the Deripaska-related testimony in a court filing Monday that defended an FBI raid on the home of Manafort, President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager. The disclosure shows the depth of Mueller’s interest in the links between Manafort and Deripaska.

Manafort once worked as a political consultant for Deripaska, who was considered close to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Deripaska then invested $18.9 million with Manafort in a cable-television venture in Ukraine, and paid him $7.35 million in management fees. The deal ultimately soured, and Deripaska sued to try to get an accounting of the money.

Deripaska, the billionaire founder and majority shareholder of En+ Group, was among the most prominent tycoons penalized with sanctions this month by the Trump administration. The moved followed passage of a law last year to retaliate against Moscow for meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Prosecutors have reviewed the 2015 testimony by Manafort and his former right-hand man, Rick Gates, according to a Dec. 1 letter attached to a filing late Monday in federal court in Washington. The letter broadly listed thousands of items handed over by prosecutors to lawyers for Manafort and Gates in the pre-trial exchange of evidence. 
The testimony, which is sealed, wasn’t disclosed. It came in a lawsuit filed by two KPMG LLP partners, Kris Beighton and Alex Lawson, appointed to wind up a Cayman Islands partnership formed to invest in the Ukrainian venture. Beighton and Lawson asked a federal judge in Virginia for permission to seek documents and testimony from Manafort, Gates and a third man, Richard Davis. The ultimate resolution of the case is unclear from court filings.

It's really hard to know who's in more trouble on the Trump campaign collusion front, Manafort because of Gates and Deripaska, or Michael Flynn because of Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak.  But both paths lead right to Donald Trump, and everyone knows it.

And that's all without Cohen's treasure trove from the SDNY's raid earlier this month.

Also, we now know that the release of James Comey's memos by Congressional Republicans have fully backfired, because Comey's memos show that Trump lied to the FBI about his 2013 trip to Moscow.

Late last January, at a private White House dinner attended only by Donald Trump and Jim Comey, the president steered the conversation to a sensitive topic: “the golden showers thing.” 
He wanted the then-FBI director to know, Comey later wrote in a memo, that not only did he not consort with hookers in a Moscow hotel room in 2013, it was an impossibility. Trump “had spoken to people who had been on… the trip with him and they had reminded him that he didn’t stay over night in Russia for that," Comey recalled
Trump made the same claim a second time, telling Comey in a later Oval Office meeting "that he hadn’t stayed overnight in Russia during the Miss Universe trip,” as Comey wrote.

But flight records obtained by POLITICO, as well as congressional testimony from Trump's bodyguard and contemporaneous photographs and social media posts, tell a different story—one that might bring new legal jeopardy for the president, legal experts say. 
In fact, Trump arrived in Moscow, where he attended the Miss Universe pageant, which he owned at the time, on a Friday. He left in the early morning hours the following Sunday—spending one full night and most of a second one in the Russian capital—in contradiction to the recollections of Comey, who wrote about his early 2017 meetings with Trump minutes after they concluded.

Trump lied several times in fact about spending the night in Moscow, the night that the Steele Dossier says that the infamous "pee tape" was made as Trump was allegedly blackmailed by Putin by Russian hookers during his stay for the pageant.

It's a very specific lie that only would serve to damage the allegations of the pee tape existing, as an alibi for Trump.  We've known for a while that Trump lied about his trip to Moscow in 2013, but now we know he lied to Comey about it too.

Mueller of course knows all of this and has for some time.  I'm betting this means the Steele Dossier's most salacious details are in fact true.

Stay tuned.

They Can't Even Get The Basics Right

Colorado GOP Rep. Doug Lamborn's team is so inept, that apparently he forgot to get all the proper signatures he needed to be on the ballot for June, meaning that the six-term Congressman could very well be out of a job come January.

The congressional career of six-term Republican U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn of Colorado Springs was thrown into jeopardy after the Colorado Supreme Court ruled on Monday that he should be kept off the primary ballot in June.

While the decision — that Lamborn’s re-election campaign improperly gathered voters’ signatures to land a spot on the ticket — is unlikely to mean his 5th Congressional District seat leaves GOP hands, it injects the very real prospect that a fresh face will take over after years of unsuccessful challenges to Lamborn’s reign.

Reached by phone on Monday, Lamborn said “we’re still digesting the opinion” and then he hung up.

Contacted a second time, Lamborn said “we’re still looking at the language,” urged a reporter to contact his press secretary and then hung up again.

His campaign later issued a statement that indicated he would challenge the ruling in federal court.

So what happened?

Candidates can make the primary ballot in two ways in Colorado: either by gathering signatures from voters in their party or by winning the support of party insiders through a caucus and assembly process.

Lamborn took the former route, needing 1,000 signatures from registered Republicans in Colorado’s 5th Congressional District to make the ballot. He turned in 1,783 signatures to the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office, 1,269 of which were deemed valid.

Shortly thereafter, a lawsuit was filed by five Republicans from the congressman’s district challenging whether two of the signature gatherers hired by his campaign were Colorado residents as required by state law.

The Denver District Court ruled that one of the gatherers was not a resident, and invalidated 58 signatures he collected. It found that the other — who had gathered more 269 signatures — was.

But the Colorado Supreme Court, which reviewed the case upon appeal, rejected the lower court’s ruling on the residency of the second gatherer, Ryan Tipple, which was based off the legal theory that he intended to move to the state.

“Tipple’s stated intent to live in Colorado in the future is relevant only if he has a fixed habitation in Colorado to which he presently intends to return,” the Supreme Court’s ruling said. “The record reveals none. … All of the objective record evidence regarding his residency at the time he circulated the petition for the Lamborn Campaign indicated that his primary place of abode was in California.”

The ruling left Lamborn 58 signatures short of 1,000.

And since federal courts are notoriously unwilling to interfere in state election matters, Lamborn's almost certainly done.  It doesn't mean Dems have a shot here, this is still a wildly blood-red district in central Colorado covering Colorado Springs and several ranching, mining, and farming towns to the west of it.  CO-5 has never elected a Democrat in its 46-year history and isn't going to start now.

But Lamborn's done, and good riddance.

School Of Hard Time

Ahead of this week's planned teacher walkout in Colorado (a tactic successful in West Virginia and less so here in Kentucky) Republicans in Denver are quickly pushing legislation that would allow local school districts to immediately ask for court-ordered injunctions to stop teachers and cost them their jobs and six months in jail for contempt if they violate the order and walk off the job

As Colorado teachers prepare to walk out on Thursday and Friday to call for higher wages and increased school funding, some state lawmakers are working to make sure any plans to strike don’t go unpunished by introducing a bill in the Senate that could put teachers in jail for speaking out. 
The bill, SB18-264, would prohibit public school teacher strikes by authorizing school districts to seek an injunction from district court. A failure to comply with the injunction would “constitute contempt of court” and teachers could face not only fines but up to six months in county jail, the bill language reads. 
The bill also directs school districts to fire teachers on the spot without a proper hearing if they’re found in contempt of court and also bans public school teachers from getting paid “for any day which the public school teacher participates in a strike.” 
The bill, which was introduced this past Friday, is sponsored by State Rep. Paul Lundeen and Sen. Bob Gardner, both Republicans. 
Mike Johnston, a Democrat eyeing the gubernatorial seat in 2018, has spoken out against the bill, calling it a “tactic designed to distract from the challenges facing Colorado’s education system rather than solving them.” 
“Teachers across the country, from West Virginia and Oklahoma to Arizona and here in Colorado, are speaking up for themselves and their students. We need to listen to teachers now more than ever. This legislation attempts to silence their voices rather than working to address their concerns. As Governor, I will make sure that teachers are heard, not thrown in jail for exercising their rights,” Johnston said in a statement sent to Denver7.

I mean the bill is obvious strike-breaking 101, I can't see how it would pass in an election year, let alone get Gov. Hickenlooper's signature, but I guess it shows Republicans are willing to throw teachers in jail for the sake of the kids or something.

This is cartoonishly evil nonsense even for Republicans.  They're really willing to take a teacher's career and their freedom if they strike?  How does that help students in any way?  How does that help to alleviate already serious teacher shortages in the state?

No, it's just Republicans using their power to punish those who don't agree with their austerity policies, literally, with actual jail time and job loss.  It's authoritarian garbage, and this is what Republicans will try to do in every state if given the chance.


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