Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Last Call For The Reach To Impeach, Con't

Federal prosecutors are moving forward with the next stage of indictments in the Giuliani corruption investigation after last week's arrest of two ex-Soviet business pals of Rudy Giuliani on campaign finance charges.

We know Giuliani is facing a major federal probe from US attorneys in Manhattan over his corrupt clients, including aforementioned ex-Soviet Putin fixers Abe Parnas and Igor Fruman in Ukraine, and previously indicted Iranian gold trader Reza Zarrab, who worked for convicted ex-bank exec Mehmet Atilla.

Now the Turkish state bank at the heart of Zarrab's plan to evade Iranian sanctions has been charged with money laundering and violating US sanctions on Iran.

Federal prosecutors in New York on Tuesday charged Turkey’s Halkbank (HALKB.IS) with taking part in a multibillion-dollar scheme to evade U.S. sanctions against Iran.

The charges against the majority state-owned bank mirror those against one of its former executives, Mehmet Hakan Atilla, who was found guilty and sentenced to prison after a trial in Manhattan federal court last year.

A U.S. lawyer for Halkbank did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 
Prosecutors said that between 2012 and 2016, Halkbank helped run a scheme that allowed Iran to spend proceeds from sales of its oil and gas on international markets, in violation of U.S. sanctions, using a complex web of front companies. 
The scheme ran with the protection of high-ranking officials in Iran and Turkey, some of whom received tens of millions of dollars in bribes, the prosecutors said.

Trump asked Rex Tillerson to get Justice to drop charges against Zarrab on Rudy's behalf.  Just this stuff alone is enough to impeach and remove Trump and put Giuliani in a cage for the rest of his life, but it gets worse for Rudy tonight.

Former Republican Congressman Pete Sessions of Texas has been subpoenaed by a federal grand jury, The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday. 
A grand jury has issued a subpoena related to Manhattan federal prosecutors’ investigation into Rudy Giuliani, seeking documents from former Rep. Pete Sessions about his dealings with President Trump’s personal lawyer and associates, according to people familiar with the matter,” the newspaper reported.

The subpoena seeks documents related to Mr. Giuliani’s business dealings with Ukraine and his involvement in efforts to oust the U.S. ambassador in Kyiv, as well as any interactions between Mr. Sessions, Mr. Giuliani and four of Mr. Giuliani’s associates who were indicted last week on campaign-finance and conspiracy accounts, the people said,” The Journal explained. “Mr. Giuliani is the primary focus of the subpoena, the people said. Mr. Giuliani has denied wrongdoing and said he has had no indication his actions are being investigated by prosecutors.”
Ukraine, Russia, Turkey, Iran, and Saudi Arabia, Trump has had criminal deals with figures from all those countries, and sold out America every time to further his own goals.  And Rudy Giuliani connects almost all of those dots.

Giuliani is now daring House Democrats to do anything to him as he's refusing to cooperate with any subpoenasVP Mike Pence is now saying he won't comply either.  Trump has already said he won't cooperate, and Dems are apparently holding off an impeachment inquiry vote while they make their next move.  Meanwhile, more testimony from State Department sources continues this week in House closed-door sessions.

Rudy Giuliani going to jail one way or another, but I'd surely like to see inherent contempt used...

It's About Suppression, Con't

Ohio Republicans, firmly in charge of the state after the 2016 elections, tried to remove nearly a quarter of a million people this year from voting rolls for the crime of not voting often enough.  The Roberts Court agreed in June 2018 that the state could disenfranchise whomever it wanted to, and more importantly it created the precedent that the burden of proof of voter eligibility was on the voter, not the state.

In a last-ditch effort, a few Republicans led by previous Gov. John Kasich and current Secretary of State Frank LaRose sided with the state's Democrats to release the full list of those to be purged to voting activist groups to try to crowdsource the list.  The activists, including the League of Women Voters, found that some 40,000 voters were set to be purged incorrectly, and mysteriously the vast majority of those to be disenfranchised were registered Democrats...including the director of the League of Women Voters herself.

Ohio, where the Democratic presidential candidates are set to debate Tuesday, is both a battleground state and the site of some of the country’s strictest voting laws, from voter ID requirements to a “use-it-or-lose-it” provision that lets officials drop voters seen as inactive.

The combination has led voting rights advocates to contend that parts of the state are regularly disenfranchised, largely in purges aimed at those who have died or moved away, but which also hit real voters who don’t learn they can’t vote until Election Day. Election officials in other battlegrounds such as Florida, North Carolina, Georgia and Texas regularly purge their voter lists as well.

This year, a group of elected officials in the state, mostly all moderate Republicans, tried to answer the concerns with an experiment of their own: Rather than purge the voter rolls behind closed doors as had been done in the past, the government released the full list of those to be removed this summer, and gave the list to advocacy groups. The groups said they found the list was riddled with errors.

The result: Around 40,000 people, nearly one in five names on the list, shouldn’t have been on it, the state determined. And it only found out before anyone was actually turned away at a polling place largely because of volunteer sleuthing. 
Few people had expected a problem at that scale.

But the process gave hope to people working on voting rights, who for years had pushed the state to be more transparent in how it was maintaining its voter rolls. Moderate Republicans, caught between advocacy groups pushing for fewer purges and more conservative leaders in other states urging for more, think they may have found a way to thread the needle. 
“We’re talking about crowdsourcing, in simply putting the list out there,” said Frank LaRose, Ohio’s secretary of state, whose office oversaw the purge and who manages the election here. 
Ohio’s needle-threading experiment this year — the only time advocates say a state government has released a list ahead of time — also offers one of the first looks at how so many names could be incorrectly removed from the rolls.

In one case, a data mistake from an outside firm meant a large number of people’s names were set to be knocked off. Ohio’s 88 counties each used a different process of removing people from the rolls, an immediate source of headaches for officials trying to compile a statewide list. 
And voting rights groups found an unexplained tranche — around 20,000 people — who had been marked to be purged because of inactivity in future election cycles, but were actually active voters in previous Ohio elections. These voters were in Franklin County, a Democratic stronghold in the state.

For those of you playing at home, Franklin County, Ohio is the capital of Columbus and its surrounding suburbs.  There's about 850,000 registered voters as of 2018 according to the county's board of election website, and the county voted nearly 2-to-1 for Clinton in 2016.  20,000 or more would have lost their right to vote if this hadn't been caught heading into 2020.

Yeah, that's right, half the "errors" in the previous secretary of state's planned purge came from the bluest county in the state.  That guy? Jon Husted? He is now Lieutenant Governor, by the way, under Gov. DeWine.

Weird how that works, huh.

Ukraine In The Membrane, Con't

Congress is back in session today, and the House impeachment inquiry rolls on as the Intelligence, Judiciary, and Oversight committees worked through the two-week recess.  Yesterday, former Trump National Security Council Russia expert Fiona Hill went before the Oversight and Intel committees for ten hours, but not Judiciary.

The "not Judiciary committee" part was relevant, because GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz showed up to be an asshole and was booted because while he is on the Judiciary, he's not on either of the other two committees, and he pitched a fit because Republican voters are as stupid as Matt Gaetz thinks they are.  Chuck Pierce let Gaetz have it.

On Monday morning, Fiona Hill, the administration*'s former Russia expert, came to Capitol Hill to testify in closed session to the House Oversight and Intelligence Committees regarding the president*'s attempt at running a protection racket on Ukraine. Gaetz is a member of neither committee, but he showed up anyway, obviously as a mole on behalf of Camp Runamuck. Acting perfectly within the rules of the House, the committees threw his truckling ass out. Gaetz immediately found a bank of microphones in front of which to drive the nails into his own palms.

"It's not like I'm on the Agriculture Committee," Gaetz moped. Good thing, too, since he apparently could be outsmarted by produce.

You may recall that it was Gaetz who Tweeted out what could only be interpreted as a threat toward Michael Cohen before the latter testified to the Judiciary Committee. That episode was referred to the Florida Bar Association in a complaint that charged Gaetz with with witness tampering. The Florida Bar cleared Gaetz because, well, Florida, but it did hurl a handful of uncomplimentary adjectives at him. It's important to remember that any articles of impeachment that are forthcoming will have to go through the House Judiciary Committee of which Gaetz is a member and, as such, he has to be allowed into the room. Where it happens. And people say vaudeville is dead.

That didn't stop FOX News State TV and the like from declaring Monday's testimony illegal or something because Gaetz wasn't allowed in.  But the big loser was once again Rudy Giuliani, who got a double dose of bad news in the last 12 hours.

Fiona Hill, the White House’s former top Russia adviser, told impeachment investigators on Monday that Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, ran a shadow foreign policy in Ukraine that circumvented U.S. officials and career diplomats in order to personally benefit President Trump, according to a person familiar with her testimony.

Hill, who served as the senior official for Russia and Europe on the National Security Council, was the latest witness in a fast-moving impeachment inquiry focused on whether the president abused his office by using the promise of military aid and diplomatic support to pressure Ukraine into investigating his political rivals.

In a closed-door session that lasted roughly 10 hours, Hill told lawmakers that she confronted Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, about Giuliani’s activities which, she testified, were not coordinated with the officials responsible for carrying out U.S. foreign policy, this person said on the condition of anonymity to disclose details of her deposition.

Sondland played a leading role in the Trump administration’s efforts to pressure Ukraine to open investigations of the president’s political rivals, text messages obtained and later released by House Democrats show. Three congressional committees are now probing how Trump pressured Ukraine to investigate former vice president Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, who was on the board of a Ukrainian energy company, as well as a debunked theory that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 U.S. election in an attempt to damage Trump’s candidacy.

Sondland is set to appear before lawmakers later this week.

And in a sign the impeachment inquiry is widening, investigators were discussing whether to question John Bolton, Trump’s former national security adviser, according to people familiar with the matter. Bolton was Hill’s direct superior at the NSC.

John Bolton's mustache doesn't want to be clipped.  Neither does Sondland, I'm thinking.  And all indications are Rudy is going to prison.

Federal prosecutors in Manhattan are examining Rudy Giuliani's Ukraine business dealings, including his bank records, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday, citing people familiar with the matter. 
The people familiar told the paper that witnesses have been questioned by investigators since at least August about Giuliani, President Donald Trump's personal lawyer
Part of the questioning involves any potential role Giuliani played in an alleged conspiracy involving two of his business associates, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, who were indicted on campaign finance-related charges last week. 
CNN previously reported that Giuliani's financial dealings with Parnas and Fruman were under scrutiny by investigators, according to law enforcement officials briefed on the matter. But news of federal prosecutors examining Giuliani's bank records and business dealings in Ukraine brings into focus the level of scrutiny facing Giuliani over his involvement with Ukraine
The Journal's report builds on reporting from The New York Times last week that Giuliani is facing an investigation by federal prosecutors into whether his involvement with Ukraine violated federal lobbying laws.

It's already a bad, bad week for Team Orange.  It's going to get a lot worse.  Should Bolton actually flip on Trump, it's going to be lethal.



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