BOOM! The US Attorney for the Southern District of New York just hired Audrey Strauss — the attorney who beat Trump’s original fixer, Roy Cohn — to lead the investigation against Trump’s inner circle. This may explain why Mueller didn’t indict Don Jr. in D.C. Remember . . . the Southern District of New York – SDNY – is the US attorney with jurisdiction over Manhattan . . . which is where Trump lives and works.
Trumpsters are licking their lips, certain that Mueller did not charge Trump or anyone close to him with conspiracy.
Not so fast.
Let’s examine why Mueller brought no conspiracy charges.
Bringing conspiracy charges would not be a good use of time and money. If Mueller took on the task of prosecuting Don Jr, Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort for the now-famous Trump Tower meeting, it would require extending his charter for at least two more years, for such a case would be fought all the way to the Supreme Court and back. This would greatly extend the cost of his mission and add fuel to fire for his critics. The Special Counsel is designed more as an investigative collaboration, rather than a prosecutorial one. So the idea of recreating an entire team to do the work done every day by any of our federal districts would not be expedient.
“Proper” plays a vital role. Since Mueller plays by the book, his primary directive would be for a case to be tried where the venue is “proper.” Ask yourself this simple question: “Where did the bulk of the Trump-Russia conspiracy take place?” and you have your answer: “New York City — Manhattan to be specific.” It would be silly for Mueller to prosecute Trump, Kushner and the rest of Team Treason in D.C. when the crime took place in New York.
Simply put, not issuing more indictments is smart (and, don’t forget, Mueller filed several sealed indictments at the US Federal Court in DC). If Mueller prosecuted Don Jr., Trump could pull the plug on Mueller’s charter and we’d litigate it in the courts until doomsday just to get the case back on track. But placing the venue in the purview of the Southern District of New York is a stroke of genius, safely away from Trump’s prying hands. It’s frugal because SDNY is budgeted for just such actions. It’s expedient because SDNY is fully staffed and ready to roll. The venue is proper and, it’s just plain smart.
So . . . don’t be surprised if one day very soon the SDNY drops the hammer on Don Jr., Kushner, Manafort, et, al. This would be the perfect setup for Individual-1 to be revealed in Mueller’s report as an unindicted co-conspirator in the Trump-Russia conspiracy.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials are defending the decision to detain a 9-year-old girl for more than 30 hours as they worked to verify her identification.
Thelma Galaxia said her friend, Michelle Cardenas, was driving each of their two children from Tijuana, where they live, to their schools in San Ysidro Monday morning, as they do nearly every day.
Galexia’s 9-year-old daughter, Julia Isabel Amparo Medina, attends fourth grade at Nicoloff Elementary School and her 14-year-old son, Oscar Amparo Medina, attends ninth grade at San Ysidro High School. Both are passport-holding U.S. citizens.
When they got in line at the border at 4 a.m. Monday, traffic was moving slow. Cardenas told the four children to walk across the border instead. She was going to call them an Uber so they could make it to school on time.
But Oscar and Julia Medina never made it across, according to their mother.
Galaxia says CBP officers accused her daughter of lying about her identity. Officers told the girl she didn’t look like the girl in her passport card picture.
Julia Medina told NBC 7 that CBP officers accused her of being someone else, her cousin Melanie.
CBP said the girl “provided inconsistent information during her inspection,” and officers took her into custody “to perform due diligence in confirming her identity and citizenship.”
What did they think — that she was engaged in human trafficking? a drug smuggler? MS-13? Or did they just get their jollies about harassing a child?
In Donald Trump’s never-ending quest to find funding for his racist wall, his Defense Department is now proposing:
… shifting funds away from projects that include $1.2 billion for schools, childcare centers and other facilities for military children, according to a list it has provided to lawmakers.
Oh. Way to support the troops, Don.
The sanctions office within the Department of the Treasury is experiencing its own kind of shortage: people. It’s not a matter of being unable to find people knowledgeable enough about sanctions to do the work. The problem is keeping them. Because, as Bloomberg reports, those staffers are fleeing from a department that’s enacting policy sure to cause the nation harm.
As Trump has applied sanction after sanction—because, he says “trade wars are good, and easy to win”—approximately 20 staffers have fled from the office charged with putting those sanctions in place. Not only have sanctions been imposed as part of attempts to pressure other nations into trade deals, or out of Trump’s basic misunderstanding of trade deficits, but increasingly Trump has attempted to apply them as political tools. But sanctions against nations like Iran or Venezuela are only effective if they are broadly recognized and followed by many nations. By announcing unilateral sanctions, Trump has often hurt U.S. manufacturers and agriculture rather than his declared target.
Prices for wheat, corn, and soybeans are all down as Trump’s actions cause former U.S. partners to seek goods elsewhere. Trump’s trade wars have cost farmers billions, and required that the government pay out billions more to partially offset the damage done. The fiscal pressure placed on farms is likely to lead to long-term changes both in U.S. food production and in international trade. The trade wars Trump has created were directly cited by the Federal Reserve as one of the factors leading to a decreased growth rate and possible recession ahead.
When it comes to Trump’s sanction office, the depletion of staff has to do with more than just people becoming overworked by the rapid changes in rules and targets. The rising tide of tariffs and the complications represented by frequent political exemptions, kickbacks, and workarounds have created a demand for specialists at D.C.-based lobbying and law firms working with foreign companies.
The sanctions “police” working under Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin are literally defecting to the other side of the trade war, where they can help nations and companies avoid the Trump sanctions. That doesn’t sound good for America, but for those in Treasury making the switch, the decision probably did come easy.
National Party MP and former police minister Judith Collins has told the National Rifle Association to “bugger off” out of New Zealand’s affairs as it prepares to introduce sweeping gun law reforms following the deaths of 50 people in an attack on two Christchurch mosques.
Collins said that when she sought to introduce gun law reforms during her two stints as police minister, she was inundated by lobbying from a small, vocal and passionate group of lobbyists from New Zealand’s gun industry.
She told the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age that these lobbyists typically directed massive amounts of material that appeared to be sourced directly from the National Rifle Association to her office and those of other MPs.
“They talked about how we were trying to take away their Second Amendment rights to own guns. We don’t have a right to bear arms. To own a gun in New Zealand is absolutely a privilege and not a right,” she said.
Democrats reported this week that White House aide Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, are breaking U.S. law by failing to preserve all of official government emails and other electronic communications.
In a letter on Thursday, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, said that Ivanka Trump’s attorney, Abbe Lowell, informed the committee last year that his client did not preserve emails if she does not respond to them.
Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) revealed that Deputy National Security advisor K.T. McFarland was using a personal AOL.com email account to conduct official White House business. The report was discoverd when the House Oversight Committee requested documents from Kushner and other current and former White House officials.
The requested information uncovered senior White House aide Jared Kushner was using secret modes of communication like WhatsApp to talk with elected officials. Kushner told the officials that he was taking screen captures to ensure they were following open records requirements.
“Cummings said the document shows that McFarland was in communication with Tom Barrack, a longtime Trump confidant and the chairman of the president’s Inaugural Committee, about transferring ‘sensitive U.S. nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia,’” Politico reported.
Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner has been using the encrypted messaging service WhatsApp and his own personal email account to conduct official White House business, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) has revealed.
Politico reports that Cummings first learned about Kushner’s use of the app last December, when Kushner attorney Abbe Lowell informed him and former Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-NC) about it. Lowell said that Kushner’s use of WhatsApp for official government business was perfectly legal and added that “Kushner takes screenshots of his messages and forwards them to his White House email in order to comply with records preservation laws.”
LOCK ‘EM UP!!! LOCK ‘EM UP!!! LOCK ‘EM UP!!!!
Well, here’s another thing for House Democrats to scrutinize: Donald Trump sold a $2.9 million Manhattan condo earlier this month to a mystery buyer for a premium price.
Forbes reports that public documents show the condo went to an entity called Koctagon LLC, with a listed address that is a New York City condo on 45th Street, which may be owned by a person named Xiu Qong Li. City records show that particular condo is owned by Smile Caribbean LLC, which until last year had an address at a property in Queens that was also partly owned by one Xiu Qong Li.
Adding to the intrigue, the purchaser paid $3,069 per square foot for the condo at Trump Parc East, more than anyone has paid for a unit there since 2016. In fact, Trump went through a dry spell of nearly two years in sales of Manhattan condos that finally ended in January with the sale of another top-dollar unit in the same building.
So who’s paying premium prices for Trump real estate that no one else seems to want? It’s hard to know, but Trump—and the Trump Organization he still owns—are surely happy about it. If Trump had actually divested ownership of his company, perhaps it wouldn’t raise such obvious questions around corruption and quid pro quos. But he didn’t, which makes every new transaction landing him millions of dollars especially suspicious.
Even before Donald Tump declared a “national emergency” at the southern border (because refugees were trying to cross and Trump’s toxic base doesn’t like that), the xenophobe-in-chief had ordered active U.S. troops to the border to “support” Border Patrol efforts and to string a few sections of makeshift border fence using concertina wire, more commonly known as razor wire. It may have meant thousands in America’s armed forces were spending the holidays away from their families, but at least the border would be “secure,” right? Finally, an impenetrable military line worthy of our status as great power.
Or, you know, not that. Because thieves in Tijuana, Mexico are simply making off with sections of the wire, selling them to city homeowners who are using it to shore up their own home “security.”
Some homes in the same area had identical wire installed in front of their homes, as an added layer of protection to their property lines and fences, but residents declined to comment about how they obtained the material.
Tijuana officials report between 15 to 20 arrests for the nighttime thefts, while government contractors on this side of the border work to replace the stolen wire.
There is no word on how the mighty American administration will respond to this dangerous attack on our military fortifications. Will Trump order military action, perhaps a shock and awe—styled incursion into Mexico to retrieve the stolen wire? Are airstrikes in order? Surely, we are dealing with dangerous foes, if they have managed to make off with Donald Trump’s border wall armed only with a pair of snippers and a handful of zip ties.
Fear not, however. If Donald Trump can bring North Korea to the negotiation table, getting Absolutely Not A Damn Thing in exchange for severely curtailing military exercises with their South Korean enemies, it is certain he will deal with this problem with the same keen strategic thinking.
But as of right now? Mexican homeowners are building walls … and America is paying for them.