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Archive for April 10th, 2018

FBI Raided Cohen’s Office In Search of Records About Hush Money to 2 Women Linked to Trump

Longtime Trump attorney Michael Cohen.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI raided the office of President Trump’s personal attorney on Monday in search of records about hush money paid to two women who say they had affairs with Trump, the New York Times reported Tuesday afternoon.

The search warrant for the office of Michael Cohen also sought information on the role the publisher of the National Enquirer played in silencing one of the women, Karen McDougal, a former Playboy model who claims she had an affair with Trump shortly after his son was born in 2006. McDougal received $150,000 from American Media Inc., the National Enquirer’s parent company, where Trump’s friend is the chief executive.

Agents also were looking for information related to Stormy Daniels, whom Cohen said he paid $130,000 as part of a non-disclosure agreement to keep quiet about her affair with Trump in 2006.

The search was handled by the public corruption unit of the Manhattan federal attorney’s office after receiving a referral from special counsel Robert Mueller, who was appointed to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

On Twitter on Tuesday, Trump called the investigation a “A TOTAL WITCH HUNT!!!” and said “Attorney–client privilege is dead!”

Trump even publicly floated the idea of firing Mueller, a move that Democrats and some Republicans said would lead to the president’s impeachment.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who appointed Mueller in May 2017, signed off on the FBI raid of Cohen’s office.

HBO Docu-drama Makes Me Think How Bo Schembechler Would Have Handled the Penn State Scandal

HBO has produced a docu-drama about Joe Paterno & the Jerry Sandusky/Penn State scandal starring Al Pacino as Paterno. This column first ran in 2012 and is a summary of what the investigation of the scandal revealed and poses the question, how Bo Schembechler would have dealt with the Sandusky and the scandal.

The author (right) Greg Stejksal and late Michigan coach Bo Schembechler

By Greg Stejskal
ticklethewire.com

Last November I wrote a column about how I thought legendary Michigan football coach Bo Schembechler would have handled the Penn State scandal.

Since then Joe Paterno was fired and subsequently died from cancer. Jerry Sandusky was convicted of 46 of 48 counts of sexual child abuse involving 10 boys.

Now the results of an independent investigation, the Freeh report, have been released.

As I had speculated in my column, Joe Paterno knew of allegations of Sandusky’s sexual child abuse as early as 1998. He apparently forced Sandusky to “retire” from the PSU coaching staff (after the 1999 season), but gave him a unique severance package including $168,000 and the designation Assistant Professor Emeritus – thus, allowing Sandusky continued, unrestricted access to Penn State athletic facilities.

This makes Paterno’s actions and inaction in 2002 all the more indefensible. When confronted with an eyewitness account of Sandusky sexually abusing a child in a shower at the PSU football facility, Paterno passed the report to his superiors.

Not Report It 

But rather than actively pursue it, Paterno counseled that the allegations not be reported to law enforcement or child welfare services.

Paterno was an active participant in the cover-up. Then he lied about it under oath.

I am more certain now that faced with the situation that occurred at Penn State, Bo Schembechler would have handled it differently from the beginning, and it would not have ended like this.

Here is the column as it appeared last November:

“Do the Right Thing –Always,” Bo Schembechler

I want to preface this by saying, I was an admirer of Joe Paterno and Penn State football, which in my adult life have been synonymous. I don’t know Joe Paterno, but I know that he has been head coach at Penn State for 46 years and has been extremely successful, winning 409 games and two national championships.

Paterno achieved this seemingly without compromising sound values. His players were encouraged to be student-athletes with equal emphasis on the student part.

All About Honor

The football program’s slogan was “success with honor.” All of that including Paterno’s legacy is in jeopardy.

There was a seamy underside to all that success, Jerry Sandusky. Sandusky played for Paterno then became a coach. Ultimately he was Penn State’s defensive coordinator (the face of Linebacker U).

He was characterized as Paterno’s heir apparent. But if numerous allegations are to believed, Sandusky was, at least, as far back as the mid 90s, a child molester – using his position and its status to sexually abuse young boys.

Sandusky’s alleged transgressions go beyond despicable, but the issue for Paterno is what did he know, when did he know it and what did he do about it.

According to the report of the Pennsylvania Grand Jury, that was investigating the allegations against Sandusky, in 1998 the Penn State police conducted an investigation regarding allegations that Sandusky was in involved in the molesting of young boys.

The case was presented to the local prosecuting attorney, but no charges were brought as a result of that investigation. (It is difficult to believe a case could be presented to the prosecutor without Paterno being aware of the investigation.) Coincident with the conclusion of that investigation, Sandusky was informed by Paterno that he would not be Paterno’s successor as head coach. Following the 1999 football season, at the age of 55, Sandusky retired from the Penn State coaching staff.

I don’t know what caused Sandusky’s precipitous fall from grace, but the timing, at best, seems curious.

Although Sandusky was no longer on the Penn State coaching staff, he was still a member of the PSU faculty. He remained an Assistant Professor of Physical Education Emeritus with full access to Athletic Department facilities and other perks.

According to the Grand Jury report, March 1, 2002, Mike McQueary, a PSU football graduate assistant (now the wide-receiver coach) saw Sandusky sodomizing a young boy in the shower area of the football building. McQueary knew Sandusky and was shocked and unsettled, but on the following day he reported what he had seen to Paterno.

Paterno then told the Penn State Athletic Director, Tim Curley, of McQueary’s eyewitness account. Later McQueary would be interviewed by Curley and Penn State Senior Vice-President, Gary Schultz. It is not clear what further actions were taken as to Sandusky, but it is clear this incident was never reported to the police or child welfare authorities. Nor apparently was any action taken to identify the young boy or ascertain his welfare.

Sandusky retained his Assistant Professorship (He was listed in the faculty directory as recently as last week.) and his access to University facilities. According to the Grand Jury report, Sandusky’s abuse of young boys continued after 2002.

So did Paterno fulfill his responsibility as head football coach and as Sandusky’s former boss?

I don’t think it can be overstated the prestige and sheer clout that Paterno has at Penn State, but for whatever reason, he apparently never used any of that to further pursue the Sandusky matter or to inquire about the welfare of the alleged victims.

What Bo Schembechler Would Have Done 

In comparison, I pose the hypothetical question: What would Bo Schembechler have done?

Bo is a man I did know. Bo was a legendary football coach at Michigan from 1969-1989 and a peer of Paterno.

To the best of my knowledge, Bo never had to deal with any of his staff being alleged child molesters. He did have situations that required staff and players having to take responsibility for their acts even if it might reflect badly on Michigan, a place he loved and revered.

In 1987, the FBI was investigating two sports agents, Norby Walters and Lloyd Bloom, who had ties to organized crime. Walters and Bloom had worked up a scam where they bribed blue-chip college football players to sign post-dated, secret, agency contracts while they were still eligible to play college football – a clear violation of NCAA rules. Ultimately some of the players balked, threats were made by Walters and Bloom, and the whole thing fell apart.

Players who had signed the contracts were identified. They were all star players on prominent college teams. Two of the players were on Bo’s 1986 Michigan team.

When Bo found out, he was livid. He called one of the players, Garland Rivers, an All-American DB, into the office and had Rivers tell him the whole story. Then Bo called me.

Tell The FBI

When I got to Bo’s office, Bo told Rivers “Tell this FBI agent everything about your relationship with Norby Walters.” Bo could have distanced himself and Michigan from the investigation. Michigan would have been just one of many major football programs victimized by Walters and Bloom. But that wasn’t Bo. Damage control doesn’t mean hiding from the truth. It means taking responsibility for your actions and trying to rectify the mistakes.

Walters and Bloom had enticed his players to break the rules. They had besmirched Michigan. Bo knew he had to take a stand and do what he could to protect future players from illicit agents. Later when Walters and Bloom went on trial in Federal Court for racketeering and fraud, Bo testified. He was the star witness. His testimony was so strong, the defense declined to cross exam him. Walters and Bloom were convicted. What had been a dark moment in Michigan football history was a comeback win as important as any that had occurred on the field.

So what would Bo have done if faced with an assistant coach who was allegedly molesting young boys. We’ll never know for sure, but I’m certain that he wouldn’t have just reported the allegations to his boss and done nothing else. Bo would have made sure the police were aware of the allegations. And that assistant coach would not have had access to Michigan athletic facilities or be emeritus anything.

It has been said that Paterno fulfilled his legal responsibility by reporting the allegations to the Penn State AD. However, it would seem he did not fulfill his moral responsibility by making sure the allegations were pursued and, thus, protecting potential future victims. We may never know why Paterno failed to pursue the Sandusky matter further.

Perhaps Paterno didn’t do more out of a misguided effort to protect the reputation of Penn State, but if that was the motive, far more damage has been done to Penn State’s reputation than would have been done had this matter been fully confronted in 1998 or 2002.

Bo did not see degrees of honor and integrity. You either did the right thing or you didn’t – half way was unacceptable.

 

 

FBI Investigating Trump Attorney Cohen for Possible Bank Fraud, Campaign Finance Violations

Longtime Trump attorney Michael Cohen.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

The FBI is investigating President Trump’s longtime attorney, Michael Cohen, for possible campaign finance violations, bank fraud and wire fraud, the Washington Post reports.

Agents raided Cohen’s office, home and hotel room on Monday, seizing emails, tax documents and even records involving communications with his clients. Among the documents seized was information related to porn actress Stormy Daniels, whom Cohen paid $130,000 as part of a non-disclosure agreement to keep quiet about an affair she had with Trump in 2006.

Trump has denied knowledge of Cohen’s payment to Stormy Daniels, and Cohen has maintained that he used a home-equity line of credit to finance the payment.

Trump lashed out at the aggressive tactics Tuesday morning. 

“Attorney–client privilege is dead!” Trump tweeted shortly after 7 a.m. Tuesday.

Less than a minute later, Trump tweeted: “A TOTAL WITCH HUNT!!!”

Legal experts said it appears the FBI is investigating Cohen for bank and wire fraud.

Trump Publicly Floats Idea of Firing Mueller After Agents Raid Attorney

President Trump

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Donald Trump raised the possibility of firing Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating Russian interference in the presidential election, after the FBI raided the office, home and hotel room of the president’s longtime attorney, Michael Cohen.

“I think it’s a disgrace what’s going on,” Trump said during a meeting with military officials Monday. “We’ll see what happens but I think it’s a really sad situation when you look at what happened.”

Trump added, “Many people have said, ‘You should fire him.’”

Democrats and some Republicans said they would vote to impeach Trump if he fired Mueller, who was appointed in May by Assistant Attorney General Rod Rosenstein after Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation.

Trump again slammed Sessions for the decision to recuse himself.

“The attorney general made a terrible mistake when he did this,” the president said. “He certainly should have let us know if he was going to recuse himself, and we would have put a different attorney general in. So he made what I consider to be a very terrible mistake for the country.”

It’s unclear how Trump would fire Mueller, who reports directly to Rosenstein. Legal experts said he would have to fire Sessions and replace him with an attorney general who would terminate Mueller.

Trump again dismissed the probe as a “witch hunt” and even “an attack on our country in a true sense.”

“It’s an attack on what we all stand for,” he added.

In a series of tweets Monday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer warned Trump against meddling in the probe.

“If [the president] is thinking of using the FBI raid to fire Special Counsel Mueller or otherwise interfere with the chain of command in the Russia probe, we Democrats have one simple message for him: don’t,” Schumer wrote. “Mueller, a Republican, has uncovered a deep & detailed pattern of Russian interference in our elections that led to indictments & guilty pleas. It also led to the Trump admin itself leveling sanctions against Russian individuals, proof that it’s not a so-called ‘witch-hunt.’”

Muller Investigating Ukrainian Oligarch’s $150,000 Donation to Trump Foundation

Ukrainian oligarch Victor Pinchuk

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Special counsel Robert Mueller is investigating a $150,000 donation that a pro-Russian Ukrainian oligarch made to the Trump Foundation.

Ukrainian billionaire Victor Pinchuk allegedly donated the money in exchange for Trump delivering a 20-minute speech via video to a conference in Kiev, the New York Times reports

Trump was one of several Republican candidates for president at the time.

The speech was set up in August 2015 by Doug Schoen, a political consultant who works for Pinchuk, a steel magnate.

According to the Times, Schoen personally contact Trump to deliver the speech but did not broach the subject of a payment. But Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen, is believed to have contacted Schoen a day after the speech to request a $150,000 payment in exchange for the speech.

The FBI raided Cohen’s office, home and hotel on Tuesday, seizing e-mail, tax records and communications between his clients.

Mueller is investigating foreign money that Trump’s campaign accepted and whether any of it benefits his personal finances.

Border Patrol Agent Charged in Fatal Shooting of Teen in Mexico Testifies

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

A Border Patrol agent on trial in the 2012 fatal shooting of a teenager across the Mexican border testified Monday that he shot through a fence in Nogales because he was protecting himself and his fellow law enforcement officers.

Lonnie Swartz, who is charged with second-degree murder in the death of 16-year-old Elena Rodriguez, testified Monday that he opened fire after a group of rock-throwers from Mexico struck a fellow agent, Tucson.com reports.

Prosecutors said Swartz fired 16 shots, striking the teenager 10 times, including eight times in the back and twice in the head.

Swartz testified for more than two hours, telling the jury that he heard rocks striking the fence and that a fellow agent had been injured. He added that an alleged drug smuggler, whom the rock-throwers were said to be protecting, had a large knife in his pocket.

“I was scared, scared to be hit by a rock, (scared) for my partner,” Swartz said. “I had to act quickly. I only had seconds to stop the threat.”

But the fellow agent testified earlier that he was not injured and that a rock rolled onto his foot.