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Archive for August 1st, 2018

Trump Urges AG Sessions to Nix Special Counsel Probe of Collusion, Obstruction of Justice

Attorney General Jeff Sessions during his confirmation hearing in January.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

President Trump on Wednesday urged Attorney General Jeff Sessions to nix the special counsel investigation into allegations of collusion and obstruction of justice in his administration and presidential campaign.

“Attorney General Jeff Sessions should stop this Rigged Witch Hunt right now, before it continues to stain our country any further, before it continues to stain our country any further,” Trump wrote in a series of tweets.

Trump continued, “Russian Collusion with the Trump Campaign, one of the most successful in history, is a TOTAL HOAX. The Democrats paid for the phony and discredited Dossier which was, along with Comey, McCabe, Strzok and his lover, the lovely Lisa Page, used to begin the Witch Hunt. Disgraceful!”

Following the tweets, Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani tried to downplay the comments.

“We have been saying for months that it is time to bring this inquiry to an end. The President has expressed the same opinion,” Giuliani said.

Trump has been angry with Sessions since he recused himself from any investigation involving Trump’s campaign because the former senator was involved in the campaign and acknowledged speaking to at least one high-level Russian in the lead-up to the campaign.

That gave Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein authority to appoint Robert Mueller to investigate Russia’s involvement in the campaign following Trump’s firing of then-FBI Director James Comey in May 2017.

Despite Trump’s rhetoric and claims that his campaign and administration did nothing wrong, he continues to refuse to sit down with Mueller for an interview.

Mueller Refers Lobbyists’ Work with Ukrainian Governments to Federal Prosecutors in N.Y.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller, via FBI.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

The deeper special counsel Robert Mueller looks, the uglier his findings get.

The former FBI director who is leading the investigation into Russia’s meddling in the presidential election has led him to something unrelated – lobbyists and consultants working for the Ukrainian government.

This week, Pauk Manafort is on trial on numerous charges of tax evasion and bank fraud related to millions of dollars he made working with Ukrainian officials.  

CNN is now reporting that Mueller has turned over new cases involving the Ukrainian government to federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York. 

Prosecutors are investigating whether U.S. lobbyists failed to register their work supporting the Ukrainian government. Those lobbyists include Democrat Tony Podesta, ex-Minnesota GOP Rep. Vin Weber and former President Obama’s White House counsel Greg Craig.

No charges have been filed yet, and it’s unclear how far along prosecutors are in the investigation.

Why Trump’s Intervention in New FBI Headquarters Could Be about Personal Gain

The FBI’s current headquarters in Washington D.C., named after J. Edgar Hoover.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Some Democratic lawmakers are accusing President Trump of intervening in the project to building a new FBI headquarters because the current building is a stone’s throw from his Washington hotel.

In February, Trump’s administration abruptly ended long-standing plans to build a new headquarters in the suburbs in Maryland or Virginia.

Some lawmakers say Trump has a personal stake in keeping the headquarters in Washington D.C. so a new competing hotel doesn’t take its place.

Trump recently became intimately involved in the project to build a new headquarters at the current site, ranting that the current building is “terrible.”

“Honestly, I think it’s one of the ugliest buildings in the city,” Axios reported Trump saying. 

“It’s no surprise Trump is fixated on the FBI HQ,” Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., tweeted. “Yet another example of his conflicts of interest. It’s prime real estate down the street from Trump International. He has business ties w/ one of the bidders. It’s why I asked the IG to investigate.”

General Services Administration watchdog Carol Ochoa is investigating

Sen. Ben Cardin

Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., urged the president to let the GSA resume its original plans of relocating the building to a new site.

“The men and women of the @FBI have long needed a new headquarters, as the Hoover Building is crumbling around them,” Cardin tweeted. “@POTUS needs to let @USGSA return to the nearly-complete process of selecting a new suburban site for the #FBI and step out of the details.”

Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., minced no words, suggesting Trump was choosing personal profit over sound policy.

“Trump has an obsession with renovating the FBI HQ at its current location—despite recommendations to find a more secure location,” Van Hollen tweeted . Could it be a new hotel there would eat into the profits of the nearby Trump Hotel? We should put the security of FBI before Trump’s pocketbook!”

Virginia’s Democratic senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner and Tim Kaine said in a joint statement Monday the Trump’s micromanagement of the project is delaying a much-needed new headquarters. 

Sen. Mark Warner

“That’s one reason why it is important that we see the results of the IG investigation into this decision,” the statement reads. “Our hardworking law enforcement and intelligence professionals deserve a state-of-the-art and secure facility. Having President Trump micromanage this complex procurement—with so many other issues on his plate and so many questions about apparent conflicts of interest here—just isn’t helpful to these public servants or to the region.”

The White House responded that Trump’s involvement is intended to ensure taxpayer dollars are spent appropriately.

“The president is interested in making sure taxpayer dollars spent on new buildings are being spent wisely and appropriately,” Sarah Huckabee said in a statement. “He has been a builder all of his life and it should come as no surprise he wants to take the skills and great success he had in the private sector and apply it here.”

The FBI declined to comment.

Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Pa., recently unveiled an infrastructure plan that could provide the funding required to allow the Trump administration to replace the crumbing, four-decade-old headquarters with a new one at the current site. 

$15,000 Ostrich Jacket? Prosecutors: Manafort’s Lavish Lifestyle Financed by Tax Evasion, Fraud, Pr

Paul Manafort

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

President Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, relished his “extravagant lifestyle” so much that he committed tax evasion and bank fraud to finance it, special counsel Robert Mueller’s prosecutors said Tuesday in opening arguments. 

Prosecutors told a jury that Manafort “believed the law did not apply to him – not tax law, not banking law” as he splurged on real estate and swanky clothes, including a $15,000 jacket “made from an ostrich.”

“He got whatever he wanted,” assistant U.S. Attorney Uzo Asonye said in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Virginia.

Defense attorneys painted a much different picture, saying Manafort was victimized by his deceptive former partner, Rick Gates, who agreed to cooperative with prosecutors in exchange for leniency. And if Manafort failed to pay the proper amount of taxes, his attorneys say it was inadvertent. 

If convicted, Manafort could be sentenced to prison for the rest of his life.

Prosecutors said Manafort dodged paying his taxes while he worked as a consultant for a political party in Ukraine and then lied to banks to continue getting loans as his payments stopped.

The trial resumes today.

Follow Ticklethewire.com for daily coverage of the trial.

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