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Archive for October 4th, 2017

Rachel Maddow, Trump’s TV Nemesis

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Janet Malcolm writes in the New Yorker:

In Rachel Maddow’s office at the MSNBC studios, there is a rack on which hang about thirty elegant women’s jackets in various shades of black and gray. On almost every week night of the year, at around one minute to nine, Maddow yanks one of these jackets off its hanger, puts it on without looking into a mirror, and races to the studio from which she broadcasts her hour-long TV show, sitting at a sleek desk with a glass top. As soon as the show is over, she sheds the jacket and gets back into the sweater or T-shirt she was wearing before. She does not have to shed the lower half of her costume, the skirt and high heels that we don’t see because of the desk in front of them but naturally extrapolate from the stylish jacket. The skirt and heels, it turns out, are an illusion. Maddow never changed out of the baggy jeans and sneakers that are her offstage uniform and onstage private joke. Next, she removes her contact lenses and puts on horn-rimmed glasses that hide the bluish eyeshadow a makeup man hastily applied two minutes before the show. She now looks like a tall, gangly tomboy instead of the delicately handsome woman with a stylish boy’s bob who appears on the show and is the current sweetheart of liberal cable TV.

Maddow is widely praised for the atmosphere of cheerful civility and accessible braininess that surrounds her stage persona. She is onstage, certainly, and makes no bones about being so. She regularly reminds us of the singularity of her show (“You will hear this nowhere else”; “Very important interview coming up, stay with us”; “Big show coming up tonight”). Like a carnival barker, she leads us on with tantalizing hints about what is inside the tent.

As I write this, I think of something that subliminally puzzles me as I watch the show. Why do I stay and dumbly watch the commercials instead of getting up to finish washing the dishes? By now, I know every one of the commercials as well as I know the national anthem: the Cialis ad with curtains blowing as the lovers phonily embrace, the ad with the guy who has opioid-induced . . . constipation (I love the delicacy-induced pause), the ad for Liberty Mutual Insurance in which the woman jeers at the coverage offered by a rival company: “What are you supposed to do, drive three-quarters of a car?” I sit there mesmerized because Maddow has already mesmerized me. Her performance and those of the actors in the commercials merge into one delicious experience of TV. “The Rachel Maddow Show” is a piece of sleight of hand presented as a cable news show. It is TV entertainment at its finest. It permits liberals to enjoy themselves during what may be the most thoroughly unenjoyable time of their political lives.

Maddow’s artistry is most conspicuously displayed in the long monologue—sometimes as long as twenty-four minutes, uninterrupted by commercials—with which her show usually begins. The monologue of January 2, 2017, is an especially vivid example of Maddow’s extraordinary storytelling. Its donnée was a Times article of December 31, 2016, with the headline trump’s indonesia projects, still moving ahead, create potential conflicts.” The story, by Richard C. Paddock, in Jakarta, and Eric Lipton, in Washington, was about the resorts and golf courses that Donald Trump is building in Indonesia and the cast of unsuitable or unsavory characters that have been helping him move the projects along. Among them are Hary Tanoesoedibjo, Trump’s business partner, a billionaire with political ambitions that might put him into high office in Jakarta; Setya Novanto, the Speaker of the Indonesian House of Representatives, who had to resign when he was accused of trying to extort four billion dollars from an American mining company; and the billionaire investor Carl Icahn, a major shareholder in that mining company, who had recently been named an adviser to the Trump Administration on regulatory matters. It was one of those stories about Trump’s mired global business dealings which are themselves marked by Trump’s obscurantism, and which tend to mystify and confuse more than clarify—and ultimately to bore. They have too much information and too little.

In Maddow’s hands, the Times story became a lucid and enthralling set piece. “This story is amazing and it starts with copper,” Maddow said at the beginning of the monologue, looking happy. She had already told us that she was glad to be back from her vacation and wasn’t disheartened by the election. People had approached her “with concern in their eyes” and asked how she felt about the coming year. “I found myself . . . saying, ‘I’m really excited for 2017.’ I am! My job is to explain stuff—and, oh my God, is that a good job to have this year!”

Maddow then explained the properties of copper. She showed pictures of the Statue of Liberty, pennies, and wires. She talked about the “massive global appetite” for copper electrical wiring, and about a mining company called Freeport, based in Arizona, which is the world’s second-largest producer of copper. One of Freeport’s operations is in Indonesia, where it extracts gold and silver, as well as copper, from a mine that covers almost half a million acres. Maddow showed arrestingly beautiful photographs of the mine’s crater—which is so huge that it is not just visible from space but “easily visible.” She pointed out that the Freeport business in Indonesia is so far-reaching that the company “is the single biggest taxpayer for the whole country. . . . Of all the two hundred and sixty million people in Indonesia, its biggest tax payment every year comes from Arizona.”

Why is she telling us this? Maddow anticipates the question. Her acute storyteller’s instincts tell her that this is the moment to show her hand. Without any transition, she says, “In our Presidential election this past year, do you remember when Indonesia had a weird little cameo role?” Of course we don’t remember anything of the sort. Maddow goes on, “It was in the Republican primary. It came up—it was so strange, so unexpected, not just inexplicable but unexplained. . . . It didn’t ever make any sense—until now. I love it when a story doesn’t make sense for a year and then all of a sudden it does.” She is laughing, almost chortling. “It rarely happens when you get it so clearly.”

The weird cameo role was played by the then not-yet-disgraced Speaker of the Indonesian House, Setya Novanto. Maddow showed a video of Trump at a press conference at Trump Tower which he had called to announce that he would sign a pledge he had originally refused to sign, promising to support the winning Republican candidate. (All the other Republican candidates had signed it.) At his side was a short, smiling Asian man. “Hey, what’s this random Indonesian guy doing there?” Maddow says. The video goes on to show Trump with his arm around the guy’s shoulders, saying, “Hey, ladies and gentlemen, this is an amazing man. He is, as you know”—as we know?!—“Speaker of the House of Indonesia. He’s here to see me. Setya Novanto, one of the most powerful men, and a great man, and his whole group is here to see me today, and we will do great things for the United States. Is that correct? Do they like me in Indonesia?” The Speaker says, “Yes.” “That was such a random moment in the Presidential election, right?” Maddow says. “It was weird at the time, totally inexplicable. Well, now we get it.”

What Maddow has prepared us to get with her geography lesson about copper and the mine in Indonesia is the scandal in which Setya Novanto got caught up, and by which Trump, because of his continuing business relationship with the amazing Indonesian, is tainted. “That mining company that operates a giant open-pit mine that’s the largest gold mine in the world and you can see it from space,” Maddow says, showing a picture of the oversized crater again, and looking enormously pleased with herself, “one of their executives met in Indonesia with that same politician who we just saw with Donald Trump, and he secretly taped him trying to shake down the mining company for four billion dollars.” Freeport’s contract with the Indonesian government runs out in 2021; the company would like to extend it. “The guy who was standing there with Trump, who got introduced at that press conference, that politician was caught on tape telling the mining company that, yeah, he could get them an extension of their contract. In fact, he could get them a twenty-year extension of their contract . . . if they could provide him with a little something.” We learn that the tape was played all over Indonesia, and that Setya Novanto was forced to resign as Speaker. In the end, though, he was reinstated, because the tape was ruled inadmissible as evidence.

As Maddow nears the end of her monologue, she mentions the Times story from which she got most of her material: “Donald Trump’s new real-estate deals, that golf course he wants to build . . . the Indonesian resort deals that brought this politician to Trump Tower in the first place, the Trump Organization has just confirmed to the New York Times, those deals are on, those projects are moving forward.” The reader who has been following my own lesson in comparative narratology will notice that Maddow has been sparing in her use of the Times narrative. Many characters that figure in the Times story are missing from Maddow’s, most conspicuously Trump’s Indonesian business partner Hary Tanoesoedibjo. Apart from the not negligible problem of pronouncing his name, Maddow understands the importance in storytelling of not telling the same story twice. The story of Donald Trump and Setya Novanto is enough. You don’t need the additional story of Donald Trump and Hary Tanoesoedibjo to show that Trump’s business dealings are problematic; nor do you need quotations from experts on ethics (the Times cites Karen Hobart Flynn, the president of Common Cause, and Richard W. Painter, a former White House ethics lawyer) to convince us that they are. By reducing the story to its mythic fundamentals, Maddow creates the illusion of completeness that novels and short stories create. We feel that this is the story as we listen to and watch her tell it.

As a kind of ominous confirming coda, Maddow holds up the appointment of Carl Icahn as an adviser on corporate regulations. (He has since resigned.) “This new key member of the federal government for whom they have invented a job . . . is the single largest shareholder in that mining company, whose mines in Indonesia you can see from space,” she says. “And now that company will presumably be in an excellent position to do whatever needs to be done to benefit whoever needs to be benefitted. . . . This is apparently what it’s going to be like now. Everybody’s got to pay attention now.”

very so often, a show of Maddow’s fails to please. There was the notorious show of March 14th, when Maddow pitched two pages of Trump’s 2005 tax return that had come her way—“Breaking news”; “The world is getting its first look”—and was all-around pilloried for producing nothing much except a stir about herself. Someone had leaked the first two pages of Trump’s tax form to a financial reporter named David Cay Johnston, who passed them on to Maddow. The pages showed that, in 2005, Trump had made more than a hundred and fifty million dollars and had paid thirty-seven million in taxes. This glimpse only deepened the mystery of the tax returns that Trump has withheld, and had all the signs of being a leak from the White House intended to demonstrate that the President was plenty rich and had paid his taxes. The show was an embarrassment that, interestingly and yet perhaps unsurprisingly, did not embarrass Maddow. The bad press that she received from commentators and newscasters (there was a scathing piece in Slate by its television critic, Willa Paskin, titled “Rachel Maddow Turned a Scoop on Donald Trump’s Taxes Into a Cynical, Self-Defeating Spectacle”) did her no harm. Nothing seems to do anyone harm these days. Maddow’s ratings only rose. She saw no reason to apologize or explain. “I really have no regrets at all,” she said when I pressed her for an admission of miscalculation. “People were mad that it wasn’t more scandalous. But that’s not my fault. I did it right.”

This was not the case with the show of October 29, 2014, for which Maddow almost immediately saw reason to apologize. The show began with Maddow placing on her desk, one by one, a graduated set of ceramic kitchen cannisters. “Here in our offices at 30 Rockefeller Center, in our office closet, actually, we have, sort of randomly, a really hideous complete set of kitchen cannisters,” she said, drawing them to her with an impish smile. “A full set of mushroom-ornamented, baby-poop-colored, made-in-China ugly kitchen cannisters. They take up a lot of space, but I can’t get rid of them. We bought these hideous kitchen cannisters when a producer on our staff stumbled upon them while out shopping and realized—photographic memory—that these were an exact match to one of the best campaign-ad props thus far in the twenty-first century. Look.” A picture then appeared onscreen, showing a woman sitting in front of a display of the same mushroom-ornamented cannisters that live in the office closet at MSNBC. The woman was Sharron Angle, a Nevada Republican, who had tried to make a political comeback after an unsuccessful attempt to unseat Harry Reid in his Senate race in 2010. “It wasn’t so much that Harry Reid won that Senate race in 2010,” Maddow said. “It was that Sharron Angle lost that race, because Sharron Angle talked like this.” Maddow then showed a series of statements made by Angle, under headings such as “2nd Amendment Remedies”:

I feel that the Second Amendment is the right to keep and bear arms for our citizenry. . . . This is for us when our government becomes tyrannical. . . . And you know, I’m hoping that we’re not getting to Second Amendment remedies. I hope the vote will be the cure for the Harry Reid problem.

“I sure hope the vote will be the cure for the Harry Reid problem,” Maddow said, with one of her nicest smiles. “Democrats had no business winning that Senate race in Nevada that year. But Sharron Angle threatening that if conservatives didn’t get the election results that they wanted they would start shooting in order to get the election results that they wanted—that was enough to spook people who might otherwise have supported her. . . . You just can’t run people like that for statewide office.”Angle had evidently learned her lesson, and in her new bid for office—for a House seat this time—she used the Mushroom Cannister Remedy to reassure voters and show that “there was nothing to be scared of when it comes to her.” They could see that she was just another nice, kitsch-loving Republican lady.

Not so Maddow’s next character, Joni Ernst, who was running for the Senate in Iowa and now “turns out to have a Sharron Angle problem. A piece of tape has emerged where Joni Ernst, like Sharron Angle before her, is threatening that she is ready to turn to armed violence against the government if she doesn’t get what she wants through the political process.” Maddow showed Ernst at a lectern, saying, “I have a beautiful little Smith & Wesson 9-millimetre, and it goes with me virtually everywhere. But I do believe in the right to carry, and I believe in the right to defend myself and my family, whether it’s from an intruder or whether it’s from the government, should they decide that my rights are no longer important.” (In the end, Ernst won her race, without having to shoot anyone.) Maddow closed the segment with: “I would say watch this space, but I know all you’re watching right now is these hideous kitchen cannisters.”

The next night, an unsmiling Maddow addressed her audience thus: “O.K., so last night I may have crossed the line. I went a little too far and said something that offended some of our viewers, and rightly so. It was not my intention to offend. So we’ve got a Department of Corrections segment coming up. Anybody who likes to watch this show because you like to yell at me while I’m on the screen, you will like this next thing that I’m going to have to do. Mea culpa on the way.” Sitting in front of a sign that read “department of corrections,” Maddow recapitulated her narrative of the page Joni Ernst took from Sharron Angle. “Tonight, I have a correction to make about that. I will tell you, though, that this correction has nothing to do with Joni Ernst.” In fact, the “correction” was not a correction at all. Maddow had made no factual errors. She had merely betrayed her youth. She had not lived long enough to know that you do not mock people’s things any more than you mock their weight or accent or sexual orientation. “Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful,” William Morris wrote in his famous dictum. Morris knew very well what was hideous. But he knew enough about human nature to insert that inspired “believe.”

Maddow’s disparagement of the mushroom cannisters brought her a torrent of mail. She read aloud from it: “I was insulted that you referred to the cannisters as ugly, as I had bought that set many years ago. I wish I still had my cute, adorable cannisters.” “Hey, Rachel, my mother has a set, too—we could use a matching set.” “If by hideous you mean the most awesome cannisters of all time then you are correct.” More messages appeared on the screen: “hideous??? What ever do you mean?” “Those were my grandmas mushroom canisters! She had matching pots, s&p, spoon rest, napkin holder and a wall clock.”

“I have been aesthetically swayed,” Maddow said, setting down the sheaf of letters. “Yes, I once believed that those mushroom cannisters were hideous, in the context of threatening armed violence against government officials, à la Sharron Angle in Nevada and Joni Ernst in Iowa. I also do still kind of think they’re hideous here at my office. But in real life, on your shelf, on your kitchen counter, in the recesses of your childhood memories, the Merry Mushroom cannisters your mom bought at Sears in the seventies—which also happened to match your Merry Mushroom curtains—those mushroom cannisters really aren’t hideous. They are lovely. So thank you for fact-checking me on this. I sincerely regret what I now believe is an error. I love your mushroom cannisters and your kitchen—I love all of it.” She had been hugging the biggest cannister. Now she removed its lid and put it on her head. “Sorry.”

Maddow was born forty-four years ago in the small city of Hayward, in the San Francisco Bay Area, and grew up in neighboring Castro Valley. Her brother, David, now on the staff of a bioscience company, was born four years earlier. Her father, Robert, a lawyer, worked as the counsel for the local water company, and her mother, Elaine, had an administrative job in the school district and wrote for a community newspaper. “I had a middle-class, suburban upbringing,” Maddow told me. “I graduated from the local high school at seventeen and went to Stanford. I came out soon after I got to college, and that caused a rift—a temporary rift—with my family. It was very hard for them. My mom is very Catholic, and my dad saw how much it hurt my mom. But now my parents and I are close again. They couldn’t be more supportive. They’re very close to my partner.” . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

4 October 2017 at 5:42 pm

Posted in Media

House GOP Blocks Vote to Create Bipartisan Select Committee on Gun Violence

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Thoughts and prayers are private responses to massacres of US citizens, but perhaps the House GOP might consider making a more substantial and public response. Or perhaps they simply don’t give a damn. Their actions are certainly consistent with that.

Here’s the statement from the Minority Leader in the House, Nancy Pelosi.

It strikes me as odd that the GOP doesn’t even want to discuss what might be done. They are truly not interested in the safety and welfare of American citizens unless the threat is from foreigners who speak a language other than English or Americans with a darker skin tone.

America has lost the “can-do” spirit.

The text of the statement:

Washington, D.C. – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi issued this statement after House Republicans voted 231 to 189 to block an up-or-down vote on creating a bipartisan Select Committee on Gun Violence, which would be charged with studying and reporting back common sense legislation to address the gun violence epidemic within 60 days:

“The families of the victims of gun violence deserve more than our thoughts and prayers – they deserve real, urgent and long-overdue action to end this crisis.  But just two days after the worst mass shooting in American history, House Republicans refused to even begin a bipartisan, common sense process to address the gun violence epidemic.

“This week, Republicans have refused to strengthen life-saving background checks or to walk away from a radical GOP bill opening the floodgates to silencers and armor-piercing bullets.  Their refusal to allow a vote to create a bipartisan Select Committee on Gun Violence – a basic first step to study and prevent the daily tragedies of gun violence – makes clear that they have no intention of offering a grieving nation anything more than empty words.

“Members of Congress take a solemn oath to protect the American people.  Democrats will never stop fighting to protect American families, and we urge our Republican colleagues to join us to take long overdue action to reduce the horror and heartbreak of gun violence.”

Written by LeisureGuy

4 October 2017 at 4:56 pm

Posted in Congress, Guns

Trump gets last laugh as he sabotages Obamacare

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Ed Kilgore writes in New York magazine:

Republicans who share the president’s desire to “let Obamacare implode,”or perhaps give the health-care initiative a good strong push toward failure, seem to be getting their wish. Right now, 2018 premiums for individual health policies under Obamacare are being decided by insurance companies without any certainty about one of the basic elements of the program: reimbursements to offset “cost sharing reductions” they are required to make to keep low-income consumers from bearing the brunt of high co-payments and deductibles. These reimbursements are currently stuck in limbo, as Trump refuses to promise to keep making them and bipartisan Senate negotiations to take the decision out of the president’s hands and authorize them legislatively crawl toward an uncertain conclusion.

On the premium front, the early signs for 2018 are alarming. Those obtaining individual insurance via Obamacare in Florida are looking at an average premium hike of 45 percent. In neighboring Georgia, the state has approved increases of more than 50 percent based on the assumption that insurers cannot rely on getting those CSR reimbursements. Utah’s looking at a 39 percent average increase in premiums, with uncertainty over CSR again being a big factor. As Alice Ollstein reports, it’s probably too late to do anything to influence premiums in the individual market for 2018:

This week, health insurance plans across the country submitted their final rates for 2018, many requesting massive double-digit rate hikes and explicitly citing uncertainty around Congress and the president’s plans for the individual market.

The impact of uncertainty on insurers was a big reason for the bipartisan talks begun by the chairman, GOP seantor Lamar Alexander, and ranking Democrat senator Patty Murray of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee shortly after Obamacare repeal-and-replace legislation was defeated in the Senate in July. Alexander and Murray were working on a deal that would have continued CSR payments for at least a year in exchange for more flexibility for states in securing waivers from Obamacare provisions. They were reportedly making progress until GOP congressional leaders told Alexander to hold off while Republicans tried again to kill Obamacare via the Graham-Cassidy legislation that briefly looked viable in mid-September. When that initiative cratered, too, Alexander and Murray tried to renew negotiations, but at this point it looks like too little and too late. The problem is less a matter of disagreement between Alexander and Murray, and more about the lack of interest in Obamacare stabilization in the GOP congressional leadership and the ranks of Republicans generally.

Republican lawmakers told TPM that the issue did not even come up during a lunch meeting on Tuesday, and Sen. John Thune (R-SD), a member of the GOP leadership team, was noncommittal when he emerged.

And that’s in the Senate. You can imagine how strong the resistance to “saving Obamacare” might be in the House with its rampant hard-core conservatives. So the odds are very high that uncertainty over CSR payments and other aspects of Obamacare policy will be cooked into 2018 premiums. Many policyholders will qualify for tax credits to help them pay higher premiums (at least so long as the Affordable Care Act is still in place), but that will greatly boost the federal government’s costs, and those whose incomes are too high to qualify for tax credits will just be out of luck.

Perhaps publicity about skyrocketing premiums and the realization that they will be blamed for whatever happens will provide some incentive to Republicans to get behind Obamacare stabilization talks. But by then . . .

Continue reading.

And, of course, 9 million children will lose healthcare because the GOP Congress has refused to renew the CHIP program.

Written by LeisureGuy

4 October 2017 at 12:39 pm

Puerto Rico’s debt: Trump promises it will be wiped out, but Trump promises have no value

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Trump promises to “wipe out” Puerto Rico’s debt, but then Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney contradicted Trump. (It’s surprising how often Trump’s cabinet members and seniors aides contradict what Trump says. It suggests that they have little respect for him—understandable, but still: normally subordinates do not directly contradict their boss.

Written by LeisureGuy

4 October 2017 at 12:28 pm

A kitten and a veteran rescue each other

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Written by LeisureGuy

4 October 2017 at 12:14 pm

Posted in Cats, Video

Radley Balko’s list of law-enforcement hijinks

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The full list of links is in the Washington Post. Some of them:

Written by LeisureGuy

4 October 2017 at 12:12 pm

Posted in Law Enforcement

Ivanka and Donald Trump Jr. Were Close to Being Charged With Felony Fraud

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I want to say that Cyrus Vance is to be commended for returning the (obvious) bribes, but I wonder why he kept the money (in one case for four years) until disclosure of the bribe was imminent. That seems to verge on corruption, and his overruling his prosecutors without providing a sound reason is highly questionable. The US seems to be going through a period of corruption, and rather blatant corruption.

Jesse Eisinger and Justin Elliott report in ProPublica:

In the spring of 2012, Donald Trump’s two eldest children, Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr., found themselves in a precarious legal position. For two years, prosecutors in the Manhattan District Attorney’s office had been building a criminal case against them for misleading prospective buyers of units in the Trump SoHo, a hotel and condo development that was failing to sell. Despite the best efforts of the siblings’ defense team, the case had not gone away. An indictment seemed like a real possibility. The evidence included emails from the Trumps making clear that they were aware they were using inflated figures about how well the condos were selling to lure buyers.

In one email, according to four people who have seen it, the Trumps discussed how to coordinate false information they had given to prospective buyers. In another, according to a person who read the emails, they worried that a reporter might be onto them. In yet another, Donald Jr. spoke reassuringly to a broker who was concerned about the false statements, saying that nobody would ever find out, because only people on the email chain or in the Trump Organization knew about the deception, according to a person who saw the email.

There was “no doubt” that the Trump children “approved, knew of, agreed to, and intentionally inflated the numbers to make more sales,” one person who saw the emails told us. “They knew it was wrong.”

In 2010, when the Major Economic Crimes Bureau of the D.A.’s office opened an investigation of the siblings, the Trump Organization had hired several top New York criminal defense lawyers to represent Donald Jr. and Ivanka. These attorneys had met with prosecutors in the bureau several times. They conceded that their clients had made exaggerated claims, but argued that the overstatements didn’t amount to criminal misconduct. Still, the case dragged on. In a meeting with the defense team, Donald Trump, Sr., expressed frustration that the investigation had not been closed. Soon after, his longtime personal lawyer, Marc Kasowitz entered the case.

Kasowitz, who by then had been the elder Donald Trump’s attorney for a decade, is primarily a civil litigator with little experience in criminal matters. But in 2012, Kasowitz donated $25,000 to the reelection campaign of Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., making Kasowitz one of Vance’s largest donors. Kasowitz decided to bypass the lower level prosecutors and went directly to Vance to ask that the investigation be dropped.

On May 16, 2012, Kasowitz visited Vance’s office at One Hogan Place in downtown Manhattan — a faded edifice made famous by the television show, “Law & Order.” Dan Alonso, the chief assistant district attorney, and Adam Kaufmann, the chief of the investigative division, were also at the meeting, but no one from the Major Economic Crimes Bureau attended. Kasowitz did not introduce any new arguments or facts during his session. He simply repeated the arguments that the other defense lawyers had been making for months.

Ultimately, Vance overruled his own prosecutors. Three months after the meeting, he told them to drop the case. Kasowitz subsequently boasted to colleagues about representing the Trump children, according to two people. He said that the case was “really dangerous,” one person said, and that it was “amazing I got them off.” (Kasowitz denied making such a statement.)

Vance defended his decision. “I did not at the time believe beyond a reasonable doubt that a crime had been committed,” he told us. “I had to make a call and I made the call, and I think I made the right call.”

Just before the 2012 meeting, Vance’s campaign had returned Kasowitz’s $25,000 contribution, in keeping with what Vance describes as standard practice when a donor has a case before his office. Kasowitz “had no influence and his contributions had no influence whatsoever on my decision-making in the case,” Vance said.

But less than six months after the D.A.’s office dropped the case, Kasowitz made an even larger donation to Vance’s campaign, and helped raise more from others — eventually, a total of more than $50,000. After being asked about these donations as part of the reporting for this article — more than four years after the fact — Vance said he now plans to give back Kasowitz’s second contribution, too. “I don’t want the money to be a millstone around anybody’s neck, including the office’s,” he said. [Or his own neck, presumably. – LG]

Kasowitz told us his donations to Vance were unrelated to the case. “I donated to Cy Vance’s campaign because I was and remain extremely impressed by him as a person of impeccable integrity, as a brilliant lawyer and as a public servant with creative ideas and tremendous ability,” Kasowitz wrote in an emailed statement. “I have never made a contribution to anyone’s campaign, including Cy Vance’s, as a ‘quid-pro-quo’ for anything.” [This does not pass the smell test. – LG]

Last year, The New York Times reported the existence of the criminal investigation into the Trump SoHo project. But the prosecutor’s focus on Ivanka and Donald Jr. and the email evidence against them, as well as Kasowitz’s involvement, and Vance’s decision to overrule his prosecutors, had not been previously made public. This account is based on interviews with 20 sources familiar with the investigation, court records, and other public documents. We were not able to review copies of the emails that were the focal point of the inquiry. We are relying on the accounts of multiple individuals who have seen them.

Requests for interviews with Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr. were referred to Alan Garten, the chief legal officer of the Trump Organization. In an emailed response, Garten did not address a list of questions about the criminal case. Instead, he quoted the company’s filings in civil litigation relating to the Trump SoHo, which described complaints as “a simple case of buyers’ remorse.”

But even a lawyer in the Trump camp acknowledges that the way the case was resolved was unusual. “Dropping the case was reasonable,” said Paul Grand, a partner at Morvillo Abramowitz who was part of the Trump SoHo defense team. “The manner in which it was accomplished is curious.”

Grand, who was a partner of Vance’s when the district attorney was in private practice, said he did not believe that the D.A.’s office had evidence of criminal misconduct by the Trump children. But the meeting between Vance and Kasowitz “didn’t have an air you’d like,” he said. “If you and I were district attorney and you knew that a subject of an investigation was represented by two or three well-thought-of lawyers in town, and all of a sudden someone who was a contributor to your campaign showed up on your doorstep, and the regular lawyers are nowhere to be seen, you’d think about how you’d want to proceed.”


In June 2006, during the season finale of “The Apprentice,” Donald Trump Sr. unveiled the Trump SoHo as a visionary project.  . .

Continue reading.

Recall how absolutely incensed conservatives were at the meeting on the Phoenix tarmac between Bill Clinton and Loretta Lynch? Will they be equally incensed at these highly inappropriate meetings and gifts of large sums of money? No, they will not. IOKIYAR.

Written by LeisureGuy

4 October 2017 at 11:20 am

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