Friday, March 8, 2019

Last Call For Leaking Like The Titanic

The White House is refusing to release documents to the House pertaining to security clearances for Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, both who were flagged as security risks and both who ended up with high-level security clearances anyway.  That's not today's story though.

Today's story is that the House Oversight Committee got the documents anyway, because somebody in the White House is now leaking to the House Democrats directly.

From a White House source, the House Oversight Committee has obtained documents related to Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump's security clearances that the Trump administration refused to provide, according to a senior Democratic aide involved in handling the documents.

Why it matters: The Trump administration's problems with leaks will now benefit Congress, making it harder for the White House to withhold information from Democratic investigators.

The news: The White House this week rejected the committee's request for documents on the process for granting security clearances to staffers.

The twist: But the House Oversight Committee in early February had already obtained the leaked documents that detail the entire process, from the spring of 2017 to the spring of 2018, on how both Kushner and Trump were ultimately granted their security clearances.

The senior Democratic aide who was involved in handling the documents told Axios that two staffers on the Oversight Committee said the documents are "part of the puzzle that we would be asking for" from the White House, "so we appreciate having this upfront."

The House Oversight Committee, via deputy communications director Aryele Bradford, declined to comment.

The White House did not respond to a request for comment.

The documents leaked to the Oversight Committee provide detailed information on the timeline for how Kushner's and Trump's security clearances were approved and who the people were involved in processing and the final decision.


Have a good weekend Donny.

Catapulting The Propaganda, Con't

As I covered on Monday, The New Yorker's Jane Meyer dropped a piece that showed just how incestuous the relationship between the Trump regime and FOX News is, to the point FOX News should be considered Trump regime state media. It didn't help that Trump had hired FOX's news division director Bill Shine as White House Communications Director, either.

Now, just days after the piece made it clear that Democrats should be using subpoena power on Shine to answer a few dozen pressing questions, Shine has suddenly resigned from the White House to join Trump's 2020 campaign machine.

White House communications director Bill Shine has resigned his post and will become a senior adviser to President Donald Trump's re-election campaign, officials announced Friday.

Shine, a former top executive at Fox News before he was forced out in 2017, has worked in what's become a high-turnover position in the White House since July of last year.

"Serving President Trump and this country has been the most rewarding experience of my entire life. To be a small part of all this President has done for the American people has truly been an honor. I’m looking forward to working on President Trump’s re-election campaign and spending more time with my family," Shine said in a statement.

He tendered his resignation Thursday night and Trump accepted, officials said. Trump said in a statement that "We will miss him in the White House, but look forward to working together on the 2020 Presidential Campaign, where he will be totally involved."

Shine's resignation came just days after The New Yorker reported on Trump and his administration's unusually close relationship with Fox News, which is still paying out Shine's multi-million dollar contract, including the $8.4 million severance payment he got from the network.

Shine was the network's co-president, but was forced out after it emerged in lawsuits that he'd helped cover up allegations of sexual harassment. 

I mean, Trump really does need an expert on covering up sexual assault for 2020.  His last campaign guy is, you know, going to prison.

Russian To Judgment, Con't

As widely expected, the judge in Paul Manafort's sentencing hearing gave the convicted fraudster a fraction of what the Mueller team recommended, as Manafort will end up serving just over three more years in jail, plus time served.  However, Manafort still faces a second sentencing hearing on conspiracy convictions next week.

Paul Manafort, the political consultant and Trump presidential campaign chairman whose lucrative work in Ukraine and ties to well-connected Russians made him a target of the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, was sentenced on Thursday to nearly four years in prison in the financial fraud case that left his grand lifestyle and power-broker reputation in ruins.

The sentence in the highest-profile criminal case mounted by the special counsel’s office was far lighter than the 19- to 24-year prison term recommended under advisory sentencing guidelines. Judge T. S. Ellis III of the United States District Court in Alexandria, Va., said that although Mr. Manafort’s crimes were “very serious,” following the guidelines would have resulted in an unduly harsh punishment.

A team of Mr. Mueller’s prosecutors sat glum-faced while Judge Ellis delivered his decision. Mr. Manafort, who suffers from gout and came to the hearing in a wheelchair with his foot heavily bandaged, had asked the judge for compassion. “To say I feel humiliated and ashamed would be a gross understatement,” he said in a barely audible voice, reading from a laptop.

Of the half-dozen former Trump associates prosecuted by Mr. Mueller, Mr. Manafort garnered the harshest punishment yet in the case that came to a conclusion on Thursday — the first of two for which Mr. Manafort is being sentenced this month. While prosecutors sought no specific sentence, they spent much of the three-hour hearing sparring with the judge over the evidence.

For nearly two years, prosecutors pursued Mr. Manafort on two tracks, charging him with more than two dozen felonies, including obstruction of justice, bank fraud and violations of lobbying laws. While they ultimately won Mr. Manafort’s agreement to cooperate, prosecutors said on Thursday that Mr. Manafort provided little information of value for their inquiry into Russia’s election interference and the degree of involvement by Trump associates.

Most of what Mr. Manafort told the office of the special counsel “we already knew or was already in documents,” Greg D. Andres, the lead prosecutor in the case, said in court. “It certainly wasn’t 50 hours of information that was useful.”

The evidence in the case tried last summer before Judge Ellis showed that Mr. Manafort hid millions of dollars of income in overseas accounts and lied to banks to obtain millions more in loans — a financial scheme that prosecutors said was rooted in greed and in Mr. Manafort’s sense that he was above the law.

They described him as a hardened, remorseless criminal who never fully accepted responsibility for his offenses and who continued to lie to federal prosecutors even after he pleaded guilty to two conspiracy counts in a related case in Washington and agreed to cooperate with the special counsel’s office last fall.

Defense lawyers had asked for leniency, citing Mr. Manafort’s age, health problems and lack of a criminal record. He will turn 70 next month

And they got it.  Here's the thing though: the judge in the Washington DC case is expected to be much less lenient.  We can only hope Manafort gets the rest of his natural life behind bars for helping Trump steal an election on behalf of Russia.

We'll see.  Trump won't be able to do much if additional state charges come through for Manafort, and I'm betting they will.


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