Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Last Call For Russian To Judgment, Con't

Our old Russian friend and billionaire fixer Oleg Deripaska got a visit from the G-Men today, or at least two of his several US homes did, as the sanctions against the Putin pal oligarch begin to heat up again.
FBI agents on Tuesday swarmed the home of Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska in Washington, D.C., an agency spokesperson confirmed to NBC News.

The reason for their presence wasn’t immediately clear. The spokesperson said the agency is conducting “law enforcement activity at the home” but wouldn’t elaborate.

The investigation is being led by federal investigators in New York City, according to two officials briefed on the matter.

A spokeswoman for Deripaska, a billionaire oil tycoon who was placed under U.S. sanctions three years ago, said the FBI also searched a home in New York City. She said both properties belong to Deripaska's relatives.

“The searches are being carried out on the basis of two court orders, connected to U.S. sanctions," the spokeswoman said. "The houses do not belong to Mr Deripaska."

Lawyers for Deripaska did not immediately return requests for comment. Asked about the spokeswoman's claim that the investigation is tied to sanctions, the FBI spokesperson declined to comment.

The 11,000-square-foot home sits on one of the most exclusive blocks in Washington.

Next-door neighbor George Conway, the husband of former President Donald Trump senior counselor Kellyanne Conway, walked over to the house Tuesday afternoon to snap a photo of the law enforcement activity. Conway said he has never seen Deripaska at the home.

Deripaska, who is a longtime associate of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, was among two dozen Russian oligarchs and officials who were sanctioned by the Treasury Department in April 2018.
Trump may have pardoned Manafort (he had to, you see) but it doesn't mean Deripaska is off the hook by any means. The Justice Department has waned Oleg for a very long time, and it looks like they're going to get him sooner rather than later.


Insurrection Investigation, Con't

The good news is that the January 6th Committee has referred Steve Bannon to the full House of Representatives for criminal contempt and referral to the Department of Justice.
The House committee investigating the January 6 US Capitol attack is expected to formally kick off the process to hold Steve Bannon, one of former President Donald Trump's closest allies, in contempt of Congress on Tuesday night when the panel is scheduled to meet and advance a referral to the Justice Department. 
The measure is expected to move to a floor vote without any opposition from the committee members and marks a critical milestone in the investigation as the panel hopes even the remote threat of jail time inspires more Trump-aligned witnesses to cooperate. 
In Tuesday's meeting, the committee will adopt a contempt report, which was released Monday night and outlines the efforts the committee made to get a witness to comply with the subpoena, and the failure by the witness to do so. 
This report is then referred to the House for a vote. If the vote succeeds, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi certifies the report to the United States attorney for the District of Columbia. Under law, this certification then requires the United States attorney to "bring the matter before the grand jury for its action," but the Justice Department will also make its own determinations for prosecution. 
Any individual who is found liable for contempt of Congress is then guilty of a crime that may result in a fine and between one and 12 months imprisonment. But this process is rarely invoked and rarely leads to jail time. 
As severe as a criminal contempt referral sounds, the House's choice to use the Justice Department may be more of a warning shot than a solution. Holding Bannon in criminal contempt through a prosecution could take years, and historically, criminal contempt cases have been derailed by appeals and acquittals.
That's the bad news. Nothing's going to happen to Bannon or to any of the other Trump cultists for holding the line. This will be tied up in the courts for years.
And the worse news is there's no confirmed US Attorney for DC to prosecute this or any of the January 6th committee cases in federal court.

Senate Republicans are blocking the confirmation of President Joe Biden's pick to oversee the hundreds of prosecutions stemming from the January 6 attack on the Capitol, people familiar with the matter tell Insider.

The Republicans' "hold" on the nomination is not based on any objection to Matt Graves, a former federal prosecutor whom Biden nominated in July to serve as US attorney in Washington, DC. Instead, his nomination "is being used for leverage," Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton told Insider. She declined to specify what Senate Republicans want or which lawmakers are behind the hold.

"We've learned this on condition that we not speak about it specifically, but I can tell you that what we have learned is that the Graves nomination is not being held up for any reason connected to the nomination. And I can also say we do expect approval of this nomination eventually," said Norton, a Democrat who represents the District of Columbia in Congress as a non-voting member.

"'Caught in the fire' is how I would put it," she added, "because it doesn't have anything to do with him."

Sen. Chuck Grassley, the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, told Insider on Monday evening that he was not aware of the hold.​​

Norton, who recommended Graves to the White House following a fast-tracked search process, said she expects the Senate to confirm him in the "near future" and noted "it's not unusual for senators to put a hold on something in order to make a point or as leverage."

"Importantly, this leverage doesn't have to do with the District of Columbia or with the nominee," Norton said.

"This will go away. It's not related to anything that residents of the District of Columbia have concern about," she added.

A Justice Department spokesperson declined to comment.
Trump of course continues to burn up the clock from his end, now suing the National Archives to prevent the release of any of his documents

Former President Donald Trump on Monday sought to block the release of documents related to the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection to a House committee investigating the attack, challenging President Joe Biden’s initial decision to waive executive privilege.

In a federal lawsuit, Trump said the committee’s August request was “almost limitless in scope,” and sought many records that weren’t connected to the siege. He called it a “vexatious, illegal fishing expedition” that was “untethered from any legitimate legislative purpose,” according to the papers filed in federal court in the District of Columbia.

Trump’s lawsuit was expected, as he had said he would challenge the investigation and at least one ally, Steve Bannon, has defied a subpoena. But the legal challenge went beyond the initial 125 pages of records that Biden recently cleared for release to the committee. The suit, which names the committee as well as the National Archives, seeks to invalidate the entirety of the congressional request, calling it overly broad, unduly burdensome and a challenge to separation of powers. It requests a court injunction to bar the archivist from producing the documents.

In a joint statement late Monday, Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., and Republican Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the panel’s vice chairwoman, said they would fight the lawsuit, which they said is “nothing more than an attempt to delay and obstruct” the investigation.

“There’s a long history of the White House accommodating congressional investigative requests when the public interest outweighs other concerns,” Thompson and Cheney said. “It’s hard to imagine a more compelling public interest than trying to get answers about an attack on our democracy and an attempt to overturn the results of an election.”
And it will 100% work, because it doesn't matter what Bennie Thompson or Liz Cheney thinks, or what President Biden does, the only thing that matters now is what five of nine Supreme Court justices decide, and they will side with Trump.  Even if the documents do get released, the rest of the committee's work will be tied up in the courts for years.

At this point the most likely outcome of the January 6th Committee is...nothing. No consequences for any of Trump's goons, and especially not for Trump himself.  Maybe a report gets released and the end of next year before the GOP takes over the House and dismantles the committee in January 2023, maybe we never see it.  Maybe the Dems somehow keep control of the House and fight on.

But nobody should honestly be expecting a different outcome at this point. It's wishful thinking.

The Road To Gilead, Con't

We've come a long way down the road towards the end of legalized, safe abortion in the United States, and another milepost on that road whizzed by on Monday as the US Supreme Court agreed to hear the possibility of an expedited challenge to Texas's abortion ban.

The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to a request from abortion-rights advocates and providers to quickly consider taking up their challenge of a restrictive Texas law that bans most abortions after as early as six weeks of pregnancy.

The petitioners last month had submitted the unusual request for the Supreme Court to hear the case before final judgment in lower courts.

If the court agrees to consider the case on an expedited basis, it could accept briefs, hear arguments and deliver a ruling much faster than if the case had to wind through the normal court channels. Though the case is pending in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, arguments would not be held until December at the earliest, the petitioners said.

The high court directed the respondents in the case to file a response by noon on Thursday. That’s the same time Texas is due to file its reply in a separate challenge of the law, which the Department of Justice brought to the Supreme Court earlier Monday.

A pivotal abortion case is already set for oral argument on Dec. 1. Proponents of abortion rights fear the court, with its 6-3 conservative majority, could weaken or abolish decades-old precedent protecting the right to an abortion before fetal viability.
I mean "not saying no outright" is a good thing, but then again an expedited case means this court could get to kill abortion in Texas far more quickly, leaving the road open to a couple dozen more red states filing Texas "fetus bounty hunter" laws.

Either way, the Mississippi case that the court is hearing in six weeks will almost certainly be the beginning of the end. What I expect is that the expedited case will be taken up and then rendered moot while the Mississippi case is being heard, and I fully expect a national ruling allowing states to invalidate abortion (with individual states having already passed such laws in anticipation).

November 2022 is going to be a far more fraught political environment than it is now, and that's not a good thing.
Related Posts with Thumbnails