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Archives for Corruption (page 1 / 1)

Trump and Justice Dept. Lawyer Said to Have Plotted to Oust Acting AG

Trump and Justice Dept. Lawyer Said to Have Plotted to Oust Acting AG - The New York Times

Katie Benner, writing for the New York Times.

The Justice Department’s top leaders listened in stunned silence this month: One of their peers, they were told, had devised a plan with President Donald J. Trump to oust Jeffrey A. Rosen as acting attorney general and wield the department’s power to force Georgia state lawmakers to overturn its presidential election results.

The unassuming lawyer who worked on the plan, Jeffrey Clark, had been devising ways to cast doubt on the election results and to bolster Mr. Trump’s continuing legal battles and the pressure on Georgia politicians. Because Mr. Rosen had refused the president’s entreaties to carry out those plans, Mr. Trump was about to decide whether to fire Mr. Rosen and replace him with Mr. Clark.

The department officials, convened on a conference call, then asked each other: What will you do if Mr. Rosen is dismissed?

The answer was unanimous. They would resign.

Their informal pact ultimately helped persuade Mr. Trump to keep Mr. Rosen in place, calculating that a furor over mass resignations at the top of the Justice Department would eclipse any attention on his baseless accusations of voter fraud. Mr. Trump’s decision came only after Mr. Rosen and Mr. Clark made their competing cases to him in a bizarre White House meeting that two officials compared with an episode of Mr. Trump’s reality show “The Apprentice,” albeit one that could prompt a constitutional crisis.

The previously unknown chapter was the culmination of the president’s long-running effort to batter the Justice Department into advancing his personal agenda. He also pressed Mr. Rosen to appoint special counsels, including one who would look into Dominion Voting Systems, a maker of election equipment that Mr. Trump’s allies had falsely said was working with Venezuela to flip votes from Mr. Trump to Joseph R. Biden Jr.

This account of the department’s final days under Mr. Trump’s leadership is based on interviews with four former Trump administration officials who asked not to be named because of fear of retaliation.

This entry was tagged. Corruption Donald Trump President2020

The Ignominious Deceits of Congressman Cawthorn

Now that I’m reading through Jesus and John Wayne, it absolutely doesn’t surprise me that a Republican representative would specifically lie about being: 1) really good at business, 2) military material, and 3) a great athlete. It hits the trifecta of masculine prowess and nationalist credibility.

The Ignominious Deceits of Congressman Cawthorn | The Nation

Sara Luterman, for The Nation.

Before January 6, 25-year-old Representative Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.) was known for being the youngest member of Congress, an ardent Trump supporter, and one of the few wheelchair users in elected office. Now he is in the headlines for giving a speech at the “Stop the Steal” rally prior to the insurrection at the Capitol that left five people dead. Throughout his short but meteoric political career, Cawthorn has used his disability to tell a story of overcoming: Despite great adversity, he claims to have achieved excellence through grit and physical strength. Many of his campaign ads featured images of Cawthorn intubated and hospitalized alongside videos of him lifting weights and hurtling forward in a racing wheelchair. But his claims of sporting success—like his accounts of education and business acumen—have often been misleading.

Cawthorn became disabled after a 2014 car crash left him paralyzed from the waist down. By Cawthorn’s own telling, he was a successful business owner headed to the Naval Academy before his injury tragically reordered his life. As it turns out, neither claim is true. The Asheville Watchdog reported that Cawthorn had already been rejected from the Naval Academy before his accident. And Cawthorn’s real-estate investment firm, SPQR Holdings LLC, which he only formed in August 2019, reported no income on its tax documents, and Cawthorn was the sole employee.

But he has not only styled himself as Naval Academy material with a head for real estate. Multiple outlets reported that before he ran for office, Cawthorn was training for the 2020 Paralympic Games. There is little detail, but according to Micah Bock, Cawthorn’s campaign communications director, he intended to compete in the 400-meter dash at the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo. It would have been an incredible footnote in a politician’s biography: Paralympians are celebrated and accomplished athletes. But his hopes for the Paralympic Games, now slated for summer 2021, were allegedly dashed by his worsening disability.

Cawthorn frequently said on social media that he was “training” for the Paralympic Games. Technically, such a statement could be true—but only in the sense that I could be training for the Olympic Games. “It’s like a kid saying they want to play in the NBA when they’re on their fourth-grade basketball team,” said Amanda McGrory, a three-time Paralympian who has earned seven medals in track and field. Cawthorn stated on the Christian inspirational podcast The Heal, “I had an opportunity for the Paralympics for track and field.” He did not have that opportunity, nor does it appear he took any meaningful steps that would have led him there.

This entry was tagged. Corruption Jesus and John Wayne Olympics

Trump’s businesses charged Secret Service more than $1.1 million

It sure is nice when you can use the Presidency to enrich yourself. The Washington Post’s David Fahrenthold shares their latest data on how the Trump Organization is using the Secret Service to pad their own bottom line.

Trump’s businesses charged Secret Service more than $1.1 million, including for rooms in club shuttered for pandemic

President Trump’s luxury properties have charged the U.S. government more than $1.1 million in private transactions since Trump took office — including for room rentals at his Bedminster, N.J., club this spring while it was closed for the coronavirus pandemic, new documents show.

The documents, including receipts and invoices from Trump’s businesses, were released by the Secret Service after The Washington Post filed a public-records lawsuit. They added $188,000 in previously unknown charges to The Post’s running total of payments to Trump’s properties related to the presence of Secret Service agents.

In Bedminster this spring, the records show, Trump’s club charged the Secret Service more than $21,800 to rent a cottage and other rooms while the club was closed and otherwise off-limits to guests. The documents don’t give a reason for these rentals. Trump didn’t visit the club while it was closed, but his eldest daughter, Ivanka Trump, and her family reportedly visited at least once.

In case you’re new to this entire story. And, note, it doesn’t need to be this way. The Trump Organization could easily provide rooms to the Secret Service at no-cost or a truly nominal cost. But they don’t. And that’s a deliberate decision to siphon money from the taxpayers to Donald Trump’s own pockets.

When Trump and his family members visit Trump properties, aides and Secret Service agents follow. When those federal employees rent rooms, Trump’s businesses get the revenue. Taxpayers foot the bill.

The bills are usually paid in private, with no public disclosure. The government has not disclosed how much it has paid the Trump Organization in total. Instead, The Post has tried to create an accounting of these payments, one receipt at a time, using public-records requests and lawsuits.

“The waste inherent in this is appalling,” Lisa Gilbert, executive vice president at the watchdog group Public Citizen, said of the Trump Organization’s charges. Gilbert said the costs were especially galling during a pandemic that has brought economic ruin and stretched federal budgets. “They’re nickel-and-diming the American people. At a moment when every penny counts.”

The White House and the Secret Service both declined to comment for this story. The Trump Organization did not respond to emailed questions.

Before he took office, Trump said he would be “completely isolating” himself from his business interests. He didn’t. Instead, Trump has visited his properties 274 times, according to a Post tally, in addition to promoting those properties on Twitter, encouraging his vice president visit them and briefly choosing one of them to host a summit of world leaders.

This entry was tagged. Corruption Donald Trump Greed President2020

GOP Defectors Have Received Thousands From Teachers Union

GOP Defectors Have Received Thousands From Teachers Union →

The two Republicans who broke ranks with their party and announced they would vote against education secretary nominee Betsy DeVos have received thousands of dollars from the nation's largest teachers union.

Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R., Alaska) and Susan Collins (R., Maine) have each benefited from contributions from the National Education Association. Collins received $2,000 from the union in 2002 and 2008, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Murkowski, meanwhile, has received $23,500.

Is this an example of a special interest buying legislators or of legislators being responsive to public opinion? Careful — I'll hold you to your answer the next time that there's a vote involving a lobbying group and legislators that have received donations from that lobbying group.

Limited Government Limits Corruption

Alberto Mingardi, writing at EconLog:

We are back to the original argument: "liberalising" policies, that go in the direction of decreasing government powers, are in a sense the best competition policy. The less the government can give away, the least a private business could ask from it.

Most people seem to think that there's a way to limit government corruption while continually expanding the areas of our lives that the government controls or affects. This is a false. As long as governmental policies can have a large impact on the economy, people will find a way to make sure that the impact is positive for them (or at least negative for their competitors).

The only effective way to reduce corruption is to reduce the government's ability to make some groups winners and some groups losers.

Forget Justice: Cops Just Want Money

Forget Justice: Cops Just Want Money →

California recently tried to reform its civil asset forfeiture laws, something supported by over three-quarters of all Californians. The bill was watered down to nothing and then killed off entirely, after intense lobbying by the police unions and police leadership.

In other words, state and federal law-enforcement officials stopped this state bill that would protect people from oftentimes unfair takings of their property because they depend on the money and it's too much of a hassle for police to make sure a targeted person has been convicted of a crime.

And this is the reason I don't respect the police. I'm not impressed that you "put your life on the line", if you also think that there's nothing wrong with seizing someone's property without ever convicting them of a crime.

This entry was tagged. Corruption Police

Cronyism 101

Cronyism 101 →

John Hinderaker recently did a presentation on corporate cronyism. He cleaned it up and posted both the slides and details online. It's true that the presentation was given at a semi-annual seminar hosted by the evil Koch brothers. I'm hoping that my liberal friends can manage to overlook that long enough to read the presentation and think about whether this level of government/corporate entanglement is a good idea.

What we have seen more recently, especially in the Obama administration, is something much more sinister — private sector, or corporate, cronyism — where the government uses its power to tax and spend, and its power to regulate, to help some companies and industries, making them artificially more profitable or keeping them in business, while using the same powers to disadvantage and potentially destroy other companies and industries that are not allied with the White House or with Congress.

Does being an Obama crony pay off? This graphic from Peter Schweizer’s book sums it up as well as anything: the members of Obama’s national finance committee have already recouped an average of around $25,000 in federal dollars for their companies, for every dollar they raised for Obama’s campaign. Is that a good investment, or what?

I'm opposed to these shenanigans no matter who is in power.

Meet Charlie Rangel

Governor Blagojevich isn't the only corrupt politician to be in the news recently. Let's hear three cheers for corrupt New York Representative Charlie Rangel:

The New York Times and New York Post have reported in recent months that Rep. Rangel occupies several rent-controlled apartments in New York; that he failed to report rental income from a vacation home; that he took a tax break for primary residences on a Washington, D.C., home while he also had a rent-stabilized apartment in New York that required a similar residency claim; and that he worked to preserve a tax loophole that benefited a company at the same time its chief executive was pledging $1 million for the Charles B. Rangel School of Public Service.

This is the guy who takes it upon himself to write the nation's tax laws. So far, he's remained the Chair of the House Ways and Means Committee. Do you think you'd get such good treatment if you violated the tax laws the way he has?

The Fall of Rod Blagojevich

We finally get a good, old-fashioned, political scandal -- the kind involving money and power rather than money and sex. Illinois Governor Arrested on Corruption Charges - WSJ.com

Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich was arrested Tuesday on charges of conspiring to get financial benefits through his authority to appoint a U.S. senator to fill the vacancy left by Barack Obama's election as president.

A 76-page FBI affidavit said the 51-year-old Democratic governor was intercepted on court-authorized wiretaps over the last month conspiring to sell or trade the vacant Senate seat for personal benefits for himself and his wife, Patti.

"I want to make money," the affidavit quotes him as saying in one conversation.

I knew Governor Blagojevich was corrupt but Illinois politics are just a cut above (below?) everyone else.

"In other conversations, FBI agents say the governor, his aide and others tried to use the governor's position to withhold state assistance to the Tribune Co. to induce the firing of a Chicago Tribune editorial board member critical of the governor."

I wonder what the editorial board member could have possibly been critical of? After all, the Governor is a reformer!

"Mr. Blagojevich took the chief executive's office in 2003 as a reformer promising to clean up former Gov. George Ryan's mess.

Mr. Ryan, a Republican, is serving a 6-year prison sentence after being convicted on racketeering and fraud charges. A decade-long investigation began with the sale of driver's licenses for bribes and led to the conviction of dozens of people who worked for Mr. Ryan when he was secretary of state and governor."

Then you read things like this: Senate Sale - Jonah Goldberg - The Corner on National Review Online.

"Following a 90-minute audition meeting today with Gov. Rod Blagojevich, Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. said he was confident in the process the governor is using to make his choice for a Senate successor to President-elect Barack Obama.

"Jackson has mounted the most highly visible campaign among several people who are being considered for the Senate post. He said the meeting with Blagojevich amounted to a "very productive conversation, very thoughtful" that covered a broad range of issues."

Does that mean what I think it does? Exactly how thoughtful was that conversation and what range of issues did it cover? Byron York provides some juicy excerpts from the Federal indictment.

"if . . . they're not going to offer anything of any value, then I might just take it." ... "unless I get something real good for [Senate Candidate 1], shit, I'll just send myself, you know what I'm saying." ... "I'm going to keep this Senate option for me a real possibility, you know, and therefore I can drive a hard bargain. You hear what I'm saying. And if I don't get what I want and I'm not satisfied with it, then I'll just take the Senate seat myself." Later, ROD BLAGOJEVICH stated that the Senate seat "is a f---ing valuable thing, you just don't give it away for nothing."

On November 7, 2008, ROD BLAGOJEVICH talked with Advisor A about the Senate seat. ROD BLAGOJEVICH stated that he is willing to "trade" the Senate seat to Senate Candidate 1 in exchange for the position of Secretary of Health and Human Services in the President-elect's cabinet. 99. Later on November 7, 2008, ROD BLAGOJEVICH discussed the open Senate seat in a three-way call with JOHN HARRIS and Advisor B, a Washington D.C.-based consultant. ROD BLAGOJEVICH indicated in the call that if he was appointed as Secretary of Health and Human Services by the President-elect, then ROD BLAGOJEVICH would appoint Senate Candidate 1 to the open Senate seat. HARRIS stated "we wanted our ask to be reasonable and rather than. . .make it look like some sort of selfish grab for a quid pro quo." ROD BLAGOJEVICH stated that he needs to consider his family and that he is "financially" hurting. HARRIS said that they are considering what will help the "financial security" of the Blagojevich family and what will keep ROD BLAGOJEVICH "politically viable." ROD BLAGOJEVICH stated, "I want to make money." During the call, ROD BLAGOJEVICH, HARRIS, and Advisor B discussed the prospect of working a three-way deal for the open Senate seat. HARRIS noted that ROD BLAGOJEVICH is interested in taking a high-paying position with an organization called "Change to Win," which is connected to Service Employees International Union ("SEIU"). HARRIS suggested that SEIU Official make ROD BLAGOJEVICH the head of Change to Win and, in exchange, the President-elect could help Change to Win with its legislative agenda on a national level.

Oooh. That's good: three-way quid pro quo between a corrupt governor, a potentially corrupt union, and a newly elected President from a corrupt state machine. This could be the Teapot Dome or Grant years all over again!

Finally, it looks like that Senate seat will stay open and U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald will get to keep his job. Merry Fitzmas in Illinois! - David Freddoso - The Corner on National Review Online

But for now, two important observations. First, no one wants a Senate appointment from a man accused of selling the seat. We may need a change of governor soon. There is no law in Illinois providing for situations in which the governor temporarily gives up his powers. The general assembly would have to pass such a law. An impeachment is probably more likely. Blagojevich could appoint someone from jail, but I don't think the Senate would seat such an appointment under these circumstances. Second, by arresting Blagojevich before Inauguration Day, U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald has done the one thing that absolutely prevents Barack Obama from removing him from his position. As he has worked doggedly to send corrupt politicians (many of them Obama's friends and political allies) to prison Fitzgerald has arguably become the most important man in Illinois politics.

And there's not a thing President Obama can do to stop any of this. His political support will start evaporating the moment he looks anything like a corrupt Chicago politician. Voters were hoping to elect a clean politician who would give them Hope and bring about Change to Washington. He can't afford to look like just another corrupt pol.

I'm going to pop some popcorn and settle back to find out exactly how many Illinois governors in a row can be arrested on corruption charges. We've got 2 so far. Can we make it 3?