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Journal Archives

IG Hearing DEVASTATING to Rudy Giuliani

"Horowitz: 'Very concerned' about FBI leaks to Giuliani"

Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz said that he is "very concerned" about leaks from FBI field offices to Rudy Giuliani, Trump's personal lawyer, and other individuals.

Asked by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) about the appearance that Giuliani was getting "highly sensitive leaks" from the FBI's New York field office, Horowitz noted that unauthorized leaks were under investigation.

"As we noted publicly last year in our report, we were very concerned about that," Horowitz said at Wednesday's Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.
"We are investigating those contacts. We've issued a couple of public summaries so far about people we've found violated FBI policy. We have other investigations ongoing," Horowitz continued.

He added that, while it has been hard to prove the substance of conversations between FBI and reporters or outside individuals, “we can prove the contacts."

"Under FBI policy you need authorization if you're going to disclose information and have certain contacts," he said.

Former FBI Director James Comey told a House committee last year that he was concerned the FBI's New York field office was leaking to Giuliani.

“I was concerned that there appeared to be in the media a number of stories that might have been based on communications reporters or non-reporters like Rudy Giuliani were having with people in the New York field office,” Comey testified at the time.

Horowitz is testifying on the IG report released this week on alleged surveillance by the FBI during the 2016 presidential campaign. The Hill is providing running updates on the hearing.

'Crime in Progress' Tells the Story Behind the Steele Dossier

In the annals of political warfare, sober recitations of facts often pale next to lurid speculation. Before they founded the private intelligence firm Fusion GPS, Glenn Simpson and Peter Fritsch had long careers reporting and editing for The Wall Street Journal. As old journalism hands, they shouldn’t have been surprised when their diligent research into Donald Trump’s finances slipped into the media stream with barely a ripple, while the raw intelligence memos sent to Fusion by the former MI6 agent Christopher Steele landed like a breaching whale.

In “Crime in Progress,” their new book recounting the genesis and afterlife of the so-called Steele dossier, Simpson and Fritsch said they “played down” the most “salacious” anecdote in the memos — that the Kremlin may have a videotape of Donald Trump asking prostitutes to urinate on a bed in the Moscow Ritz-Carlton — in order to emphasize their forensic work in following the money. They found evidence suggesting that Trump became dependent on infusions of Russian cash after a string of bankruptcies and “has done business with at least 25 individuals and companies with documented mob ties.” But such complex accounting has proved to be less enticing than a recording that may or may not exist. A pee tape is worth a thousand words.

Republicans have woven an intricate conspiracy theory around the Steele dossier, casting it as a partisan hit job that in July 2016 sparked an F.B.I. investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia. On Monday, the Justice Department’s inspector general issued a report that laid waste to those accusations. The F.B.I. had already initiated an investigation based on another stream of information before it got wind of Steele’s findings. Besides, Steele told investigators, the notion that he might have been biased against Trump was “ridiculous.” If anything, he was “favorably disposed” to the Trump family because of a “friendly” relationship he had with one member, whom ABC News has since identified as President Trump’s daughter Ivanka.

And another one bites the dust

This is the 23rd GOP lawmaker to announce during the 116th Congress that they will not seek reelection.
"GOP's Yoho announces retirement from Congress"

Rep. Ted Yoho (R-Fla.) announced he will not seek reelection on Tuesday, citing his pledge to only serve four terms in Congress.

“I believed when I ran on term limits. I ran on a pledge to serve four terms — eight years and come home," he said. "Many told me I was naive and they're probably right. I was told the district has changed three times and so the pledge isn't binding and I could rationalize that. However, I truly believe a person's word is their bond and should live up to their word."

The Florida Republican was first elected in 2012 and rose to become a senior member on the powerful House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Poll: Majority of Republicans say Trump better president than Lincoln

A majority of Republicans say President Trump is a better leader than former President Lincoln, according to this week’s Economist/YouGov weekly tracking poll.

Fifty-three percent of Republicans said Trump was a better president than Lincoln, while 47 percent chose the Civil War-era leader.

Lincoln still overwhelmingly beats Trump among all Americans, 75 percent to 25 percent, with the vast majority of Democrats and independents choosing the former president.

While impeachment and other controversies surrounding Trump continue to dominate headlines, polls have shown the president maintaining a strong approval rating among Republicans.

The Economist/YouGov poll found that 87 percent of those in the GOP either somewhat or strongly approve of the job he’s doing as president.

Trump & Pelosi reach agreement on the new NAFTA

Good job President Trump. Good job Speaker Pelosi!

The US-Mexico-Canada trade (USMCA) deal is finalized. Pelosi got some last minute concessions on worker protections and the House will vote on the deal.
"Historic USMCA deal is much better than NAFTA: Pelosi"

Poll: Majority of Democrats think Obama was better president than Washington

A counter to last week's poll showing Republicans favored Trump over Lincoln?

"A majority of Democratic voters said former President Obama was a better leader than founding father and first president of the U.S., George Washington in a new poll.

The poll, conducted by Monmouth University, found that 63 percent of Democratic survey respondents believed that Obama was a better president than Washington. Twenty-nine percent of those polled believed that Washington beat out the 44th president.

Among all registered voters, 58 percent say Washington was a better president compared to 33 percent for Obama. Compared to Trump, Washington received 71 percent support while the president received 15 percent."

The Hunter Report was released today

Republican congressman headed to prison for using campaign funds as personal family income.
"Report on Hunter’s campaign funds goes well beyond rabbit air fare, finds ‘pervasive evidence’ of misspending"

An Office of Congressional Ethics report on Rep. Duncan Hunter’s campaign spending, held up for three years by the criminal prosecution of the congressman, was released Monday now that he has pleaded guilty to misspending the funds.

The 50-page report provides new details about individual expenses and spending patterns that have not come out previously in media coverage or the criminal case.

“The records illustrate a consistent practice of misuse of campaign funds by Rep. Hunter and his family,” the office found. “The OCE also found prevalent examples of FEC (Federal Election Commission) reports filed by the campaign committee that may contain materially false and misleading statements.”

The report examined $9,200 spent on an Italian vacation, $7,000 spent on trips to Hawaii, $2,900 spent going to the Arizona Grand Resort and $3,000 spent going to a wedding for Hunter’s cousin in Idaho.

The OCE reviewed receipts and records for the family’s stay at the (Boise) hotel and found that in addition to lodging expenses, the $2,259.22 paid for by the campaign committee included four in-room movies, gift shop purchases, and many charges with receipts signed by Rep. Hunter’s three children,” the report said.

The report also cataloged five $125 charges for pet rabbit air travel, in addition to $6,300 of travel expenses for family and acquaintances, such as five flights for Margaret Hunter’s mother and several trips for people connected to the Hunter children’s private school, Christian Unified.

The report also calls out $4,666 of water, cable and Internet bills.

“Rep. Hunter’s campaign committee paid for service at the Hunter family residence that included the Cox Advanced TV Premier Package, DVR service, the premium channels HBO and Starz, and Cox High Speed Internet,” the report says. “The account statements for this period include charges for late payment fees, multiple UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) events, NFL Red Zone and many pay-per-view movies from multiple genres.”

According to the report, “The OCE identified pervasive evidence of campaign-funded expenditures for family travel, flights, utilities, health care, school uniforms and tuition, jewelry, groceries, gas, and other goods, services, and expenses not attributable to bona fide campaign or political purposes.”

Hunter’s office did not respond to a request for comment on the report. But the Alpine Republican’s former spokesman, Joe Kasper, issued a defense of the then-unreleased report in January 2017 in an interview with The Press-Enterprise in Riverside.

He told the newspaper the “findings or implications are significantly misrepresented or even exaggerated.”

Kasper also said that “many of Rep. Hunter’s repayments had to do with mistakes under specific circumstances, and in other cases there were bona fide campaign activities connected to expenditures that (the office) was not aware of and didn’t account for.”

The report notes repeatedly that Hunter’s office and campaign refused to cooperate, leaving them unable to determine any legitimate justifications for campaign expenses.

In one example, the report states, “Without cooperation, the OCE did not have the opportunity to ask Rep. Hunter about the rabbit’s flight history or to determine why he used campaign funds to pay for the pet’s travel.”

Further, the report said, “Rep. Hunter and the campaign committee’s refusal to cooperate with the review restricted access to a substantial body of the campaign committee’s financial, travel, and purchase records. In spite of obligations under House rules, Rep. Hunter refused to verify that such funds were not used for personal purposes.”

Duncan and Margaret Hunter were indicted in August 2018 on 60 counts related to misspending campaign funds. Margaret Hunter pleaded guilty on one felony conspiracy count in June, and Duncan Hunter pleaded guilty to one last week.

The plea triggered the release of the full report from the independent Office of Congressional Ethics, which it adopted Aug. 26, 2016. A short summary of the report was released in March 2017.

In addition to the report, the office released 24 packages of exhibits.

The ethics review dates to April 2016, when the left-leaning Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington filed a complaint focused on the Italian trip.

“Rep. Hunter’s campaign committee spent $9,213.58 on hotels, flight costs, food, train transportation, and jewelry as part of a family trip to Italy for Rep. Hunter, Mrs. Hunter, and their three children, including stops in Rome, Florence, Naples, and Positano,” the ethics report found.

Russia banned for four years

They just don't seem to ever learn. Banned yet again for cheating.
"Russia Banned From Competition for 4 Years Over Continuing Doping Scandal"

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) unanimously voted Monday to ban Russia from the Olympic Games, the World Cup and other international sporting competitions for the next four years.

WADA officials say the punishment reflects their growing exasperation over a doping scandal that has tainted global sports since 2014.

For too long, Russian doping has detracted from clean sport," said WADA president Craig Reedie, during a press conference in which WADA insisted it had no choice but to give a "robust response" to allegations of Russian cheating."

Russia was afforded every opportunity to get its house in order and rejoin the global anti-doping community for the good of its athletes and of the integrity of sport. But it chose instead to continue in its stance of deception and denial."

Russian "clean" athletes who undergo additional screening will still be allowed to compete as neutral athletes,' while forgoing their national flag and anthem, according to the ruling.

WADA's findings also prevent Russia from hosting and/or bidding on major sporting events over the next four years.

Tainted probes

The decision to expel Russia from competition was based on an earlier finding by WADA's Compliance Review Committee, which accused Russia of tampering with hundreds of athlete probes at Moscow's RUSADA anti-doping testing facility.

"The Moscow data are neither complete nor authentic," a summary of the WADA report said.

Unfettered access to the RUSADA laboratory was one of the key WADA requirements to Russia's "road map back to competition" following an earlier 2015 WADA investigation that laid bare a Russian state-sponsored doping program during the Russian-hosted Sochi Winter Games.

The fallout from that investigation led to a depleted Russian presence at the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, as well as limited inclusion of "neutral" Russian athletes without state emblems at the Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, Korea, in 2018.

The partial bans have been contested by other nations' anti-doping commissions, including the United States, which expressed outrage over what appeared to be continued avenues for Russian neutral athletes to participate in Olympic sports.

Ivanka Trump and Christopher Steele?

(inquiring minds want to know!)
"POLITICO has confirmed reporting from ABC News that the Trump “family member” Steele was friendly with was Ivanka Trump, according to two people familiar with the relationship, and that the pair communicated on and off until 2015 after meeting at a dinner in London in 2007.

Steele was pursuing a potential business opportunity with the Trump Organization as part of his investigative work for his private company Orbis at the time, which included research on Russia and eastern Europe where Trump’s company was looking to expand. But the talks ultimately petered out.

Manafort was under investigation for alleged money laundering prior to Russia probe scrutiny."

Congressional Democrats Convicted of Crimes since 2000

Jim Traficant (D-OH) was found guilty on ten felony counts of financial corruption, sentenced to eight years in prison and expelled from the House of Representatives (2002).
Frank Ballance (D-NC) admitted to federal charges of money laundering and mail fraud in October 2005 and was sentenced to four years in prison (2005).
William J. Jefferson (D-LA) was charged in August 2005 after the FBI seized $90,000 in cash from his home freezer. He was re-elected to the House in 2006, but lost in 2008. He was convicted November 13, 2009, of 11 counts of bribery and sentenced to 13 years in prison (2009).
Laura Richardson (D-CA) was found guilty on seven counts of violating US House rules by improperly using her staff to campaign for her, destroying the evidence and tampering with witness testimony. The House Ethics Committee ordered Richardson to pay a fine of $10,000 (2012).
Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-IL) pleaded guilty February 20, 2013, to one count of wire and mail fraud in connection with his misuse of $750,000 in campaign funds. Jackson was sentenced to two-and-one-half years' imprisonment (2013)
Chaka Fattah (D-PA) was convicted on 23 counts of racketeering, fraud, and other corruption charges (2016).
Corrine Brown (D-FL) was convicted on 18 felony counts of wire and tax fraud, conspiracy, lying to federal investigators, and other corruption charges (2017).
Anthony Weiner (D-NY) was convicted of sending sexually explicit photos of himself to a 15-year-old girl and was made to sign the sexual offenders register. He also was sentenced to 21 months in prison, a charge that was later reduced to 18 months. He reported to prison in November 2017 and was released in May 2019 (2017).
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