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Tag: campaign finance

DOJ’s Opinion That Presidents Cannot Be Indicted Factored into Hush-Money Probe

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Justice Department’s opinion that a sitting president cannot be charged played a role in federal prosecutors’ decision to end the hush-money investigation, the USA Today reports, citing a person familiar with the situation.

It had previously been unclear why the Justice Department closed its investigation into hush money to women who had accused Trump of having sex with them.

Prosecutors have alleged the hush money violated campaign-finance law.

The DOJ’s opinion also factored into special counsel Robert Mueller’s decision to not pursue charges against the president.

Feds: Were Middle Easterners Promised Influence over American Policy Through Trump Donations?

President Trump’s inauguration, via White House

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Federal prosecutors are investigating whether highly influential businessmen from the Middle East tried to buy influence over American policy by donating to President Trump’s 2017 inaugural committee and a pro-Trump super PAC.

The investigation is examining whether people from countries such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar and United Arab Emirates used straw donors – or American intermediaries – to donate to the funds since federal law bars foreigners from contributing to political campaigns, The New York Times reports.  

Trump friend and billionaire Thomas Barrack

One of Trump’s closest friends, billionaire financier Thomas J. Barrack Jr., raised a significant amount of money for the funds. He’s known for having an extensive network of business connections in the Persian Gulf.

The PAC, Rebuilding America Now, was created in the summer of 2016 when Trump was struggling to raise money for his presidential run. Such PACs can raise an unlimited amount of money, but only if they’re not closely coordinated with the campaign.

Barrack told investigators a year ago that Trump’s campaign boss, Paul Manafort, treated the PAC as a fundraising arm of the campaign.

The PAC raised $23 million, primarily from big donors such as Linda McMahon, a professional wrestling executive whom Trump later appointed to head the Small Business Administration. She donated $6 million.

Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort.

Barrack and Manafort went on a Mediterranean cruise together in August 2016, just three months before the presidential election. On the cruise, the pair met with several influential Middle Easterners, including Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani, the former prime minister of Qatar and one of the world’s wealthiest men.

Barrack denied any wrongdoing.

“Tom has never talked with any foreign individual or entity for the purposes of raising money for or obtaining donations related to either the campaign, the inauguration or any such political activity,” said Owen Blicksilver, a spokesman for Barrack.

Prosecutors also are investigating whether Middle Easterners and others funneled money into Trump’s $107 million inaugural fund in exchange for access to the new presidential administration, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Federal law prohibits the exchange of money for political favors.

Trump raised more money for his inauguration than any previous president. The donations largely came from billionaires and corporations, including casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson, AT&T Inc. and Boeing Co. 

Another donor was billionaire Dan Gilbert, whose Quicken Loans company has been under investigation by the Justice Department for allegedly targeting, among others, lower-income African Americans for mortgages, many of which went belly up.

GOP Rep. Hunter Indicted Over Lavish Personal Expenses from Campaign Funds

U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter, via U.S. Department of Defense.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter and his wife, Margaret, were indicted Tuesday on dozens of charges that allege they used campaign donations to pay for personal expenses, from family vacations and dental work to theater tickets and school tuition.

The Republican from Alpine, Calif., is accused of spending more than $250,000 in campaign funds on personal expenses between 2009 and 2016 and filing false campaign finance records to cover up the unlawful spending, the Wall Street Journal reports

House Speaker Paul Ryan stripped Hunter of his committee assignments.

“The charges against Rep. Hunter are deeply serious,” Mr. Ryan said in a statement.

Nevertheless, Hunter claimed the 60-count indictment was politically motivated.

According to the indictment, Hunter and his wife used the campaign funds for ski trips, hotel stays, European vacations, dinners and even video games.

Cohen’s Attorney: ‘No Doubt That Donald Trump Committed a Crime’ And Tried to Cover It Up

Michael Cohen, former attorney for President Trump.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Michael Cohen’s attorney dropped a bombshell on President Trump on Tuesday night.

“I do know Michael Cohen has information that would be of interest to Mr. Mueller in his probe of a conspiracy to corrupt American democracy,” Larry Davis told CNN’s Don Lemon.

Davis didn’t stop there:  “There is no doubt that Donald Trump committed a crime and, more than that, a cover-up of the crime. Because he did not want to write the check to Stormy Daniels.”

The devastating comments for the president came just hours after Cohen, Trump’s former attorney and fixer, pleaded guilty to bank and tax fraud and violating campaign finance laws in federal court in Manhattan.

Cohen, who faces about four to five years in prison, said the money he paid to two women who claimed to have an affair with Trump was intended to buy their silence.

“I participated in the conduct for the purposes of influencing the election,” Cohen said about the payments to Daniels and Karen McDougal.”

Davis said Cohen felt “liberated” after pleading guilty to eight criminal counts.

“Patriotism and love of country caused him to recognize the danger of this particular President, his lack of suitability to be President of the United States,” Davis said of Cohen.

How One Disastrous Hour Could Change Everything for President Trump

President Trump

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

It was a devastating hour for President Trump.

Between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. Tuesday, Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, was found guilty of eight counts of bank and tax fraud.

At roughly the same time, the president’s former attorney and fixer, Michael Cohen, implicated Trump in a payoff scheme to silence women who said they had an affair with him.

The revelations served to undermine Trump’s repeated claims that he is the victim of a “witch hunt.” And even more, it provided more evidence to special counsel Robert Mueller, who already is investigating whether the president colluded with Russia and obstructed justice.

The news also could increase the chances that Trump, depending on what happens during the midterm elections, could face impeachment proceedings. Republicans who have defended Trump are now going to find it much more difficult to stand behind the president.

Sen. Mark Warner, vice chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said the Manafort has severely damaged Trump’s credibility.

“This verdict makes it absolutely clear that the Mueller probe is not a ‘witch hunt’ — it is a serious investigation that is rooting out corruption and Russian influence on our political system at the highest levels,” Warner said in a statement obtained by the Los Angeles Times. “The President’s campaign manager was just convicted of serious federal crimes by a jury of his peers, despite the President’s continued attempts to undermine the investigation which has brought Mr. Manafort to justice. Any attempt by the President to pardon Mr. Manafort or interfere in the investigation into his campaign would be a gross abuse of power and require immediate action by Congress.”

But most damaging to Trump were Cohen’s statements to a judge while in federal court in Manhattan on Tuesday. The 51-year-old attorney said he had paid $130,000 and $150,000 in hush money to women who claimed they had affairs with Trump. Cohen said the money was meant to buy their silence “with the purpose of influencing the election.”

Cohen faces about four to five years in prison after pleading guilty to five counts of tax fraud, one of bank fraud and two counts of violating campaign finance laws.

FBI Joins Probe of Alleged Campaign Violations in Rep. Michele Bachmann’s Presidential Campaign

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI is joining an investigation into violations in Rep. Michele Bachmann’s presidential campaign fund, MinnPost reports.

Authorities are focusing on alleged campaign finance violations from Bachmann’s failed bid for presidency last year.

State and federal ethics committees have been reviewing whether the presidential campaign fund, MichelePAC, was used to pay an Iowa state senator, MinnPost wrote.

The FBI plans to interview Bachmann’s former chief of staff and a director of her Iowa GOP presidential campaign, according to MinnPost.

Ex-Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. Pleads Guilty in Scheme Involving Campaign Cash

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

Former Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr., 47, pleaded guilty Wednesday for using campaign cash to buy personal items, including jewelry, fur capes and parkas, celebrity memorabilia, furniture and high-end electronics, the FBI said.

Jackson also admitted he tried to conceal illegal activities, such as false and misleading reports to the Federal Election Commission.

Jackson’s wife Sandra Stevens Jackson, 49, who also was charged in the scheme, pleaded guilty to filing false tax return.

Jesse Jackson Jr. could be sentenced up to five years in prison on June 28.

Jury Deliberation Drags on in John Edwards Trial

Shoshanna Utchenik
ticklethewire.com

Jury deliberation drags on for an 8th day in ex-presidential hopeful John Edwards’ corruption case.

The jury must decide whether $925,000 in gifts, used to cover up Edwards’ extramarital affair with Rielle Hunter, was merely social capital, or illegal campaign contributions… and they must decide whether Edwards understood them as such.

The jury has been deliberating since May 18, sifting through 17 days of testimony from 31 witnesses, reports the L.A. Times. However much of the testimony in this high-profile case was less lurid than Edwards’ affair and focused on forensic examinations of bank transactions, and scrutiny of campaign finance laws.

The former vice-presidential candidate and presidential hopeful could face a maximum of 30 years in prison and $1.5 million in fines if convicted on all six counts against him. But these high stakes are not ruling the mood in the court, which doesn’t seem to be in any hurry.

As graduation season arrives, many of the jurors have been allowed to wag the dog as U.S. District Judge Catherine Eagle adapted the deliberation schedule to their family calendars.

Reporters have not come up with any theories regarding an apparent fashion statement: the four alternate jurors all wore yellow on Thursday, red on Friday, and on Tuesday, they wore gray and black.

But decoding that secret message ought to kill some time as the bored spectators wait for a verdict.

To read more click here.