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Maxine Waters Needs to Subpoena Details of the Fed’s Dirtiest Bailout

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The very wealthy play a dirty game. Pam Martens reports in Wall Street on Parade:

Based on data that Wall Street On Parade has newly compiled, there is a strong suggestion that the Federal Reserve conspired with at least three of the largest Wall Street firms to hide their teetering condition from the public during the financial crisis, despite the fact that these were all New York Stock Exchange listed companies with a duty to reveal material, adverse financial information to the public in a timely fashion.

If Maxine Waters wants to leave her mark in history as Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, she will subpoena records from the Federal Reserve on its biggest and dirtiest bailout program, known as the Primary Dealer Credit Facility (PDCF). She and her colleagues must then demand answers from Fed witnesses during the hearing Waters has scheduled for May 16 at 10:00 a.m. The upcoming hearing is titled “Oversight of Prudential Regulators: Ensuring the Safety, Soundness and Accountability of Megabanks and Other Depository Institutions.”

The Federal Reserve is the prudential regulator of the largest Wall Street bank holding companies – three of which are only alive today because the Fed engaged in an unprecedented $5.7 trillion cash for trash operation with the three during the financial crisis. Until the public knows the truth about why the Fed bailed out the insolvent Citigroup – despite its mandate not to lend to an insolvent institution – and why it bailed out Morgan Stanley and Merrill Lynch, which were broker-dealers, not major commercial banks, there can be no confidence in the U.S. financial system.

There can be no trust or confidence because we strongly suspect that the reason for these unprecedented bailouts comes down to two words – derivatives and counterparties. These banks were all so intertwined as counterparties to each other’s insane levels of derivatives that the Fed had no clue what to do other than to save them all. That thesis would also explain why the Fed funneled trillions of dollars in cumulative loans to foreign banks – which also just happened to be derivative counterparties to the collapsing Wall Street firms. These interlocking concentrations of risk between derivative counterparties are just as dangerous today as they were in 2008 because the Fed has not forced the banks to follow the law and put these derivatives on exchanges or central clearing facilities. The majority of the derivatives remain as dark, private over-the-counter contracts between counterparties. . .

Continue reading. There’s much more of significance. Technical but scary.

Written by LeisureGuy

22 April 2019 at 10:28 am

Pete Buttigieg Was An Effective Mayor — With A Gaping Blind Spot

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Michael Hobbs writes at Huffpost:

Like many residents of South Bend, Indiana, Laura Jensen has known Pete Buttigieg for years. In 2012, just after he was first elected mayor, Buttigieg started visiting the preschool where she worked. He would walk the halls and read books aloud to her students.

It was a nice gesture, but what really impressed her were the quieter, more technical fixes Buttigieg made behind the scenes. In 2018, Buttigieg allocated $100,000 of South Bend’s budget to early childhood education and asked Jensen, by then the CEO of the local United Way chapter, how he should spend it. She told him that the county had recently been awarded some federal grants and needed to expand its capacity to take advantage of them. It may not have been the sexiest policy in the world, but Buttigieg agreed to spend the city’s funds on hiring teachers and expanding classrooms.

“I can’t tell you how much it meant to have someone listen when we said we had to build our capacity,” Jensen said. “It was never about ego. It was always, ‘I want to know your thoughts.’ That was huge.”

Buttigieg, who officially announced his presidential candidacy on Sunday, spent his tenure as South Bend mayor applying his skills as a management consultant to nearly every problem the city faced. From sewer overflows to gun violence to garbage pickup, Buttigieg collected data, sought out technical fixes and set quantifiable goals.

By the numbers, he has done a remarkable job. Since 2012, South Bend’s population has ticked upward for the first time since 2000. Unemployment has plummeted from 11.8% to 4.1%. Good-governance initiatives have yielded extra funding for parks and millions of dollars in federal grants. Following a “Smart Streets” redesign that slowed traffic and expanded sidewalks, downtown South Bend has attracted more than $90 million in private investment.

But Buttigieg’s singular focus on gathering data and improving statistics has also led him astray at times. While South Bend’s economic fortunes have improved overall, homelessness and displacement have worsened. Buttigieg has sold a park to private developers and given tax breaks to luxury condos. Less than a mile west of South Bend’s booming downtown, its African American and Latino residents continue to complain of police harassment, rampant evictions and a team of “code enforcement” inspectors who fine them every time they forget to mow their own lawns.

Buttigieg has become the most prominent example of a management style that has taken over American cities. From Baltimore to Kansas City to Los Angeles, urban policymakers have become increasingly enamored with “data-driven” policies and increasingly reliant on quantitative approaches to social problems.

But these methods are not as impartial as their proponents suggest. Throughout his tenure as mayor, Buttigieg’s fixation on measurable goals at times led him to overlook weaknesses in his policies and concerns among his constituents. His initiatives may have achieved their targets, but they also ended up harming his city’s most vulnerable residents.

“He’s obviously a person of privilege and highly educated and from a well-off background,” said John Shafer, the director of Michiana Five for the Homeless, a South Bend-based charity. “It’s hard for someone in that position to relate to people in poverty. That may be his biggest weakness.”

A “Data-Driven” Approach Is Only As Good As The Data You Collect

The best example of Buttigieg’s quantitative approach to city management ― and its shortfalls ― is the 1,000 Houses in 1,000 Days project.

In 2012, just after he was elected to his first term, Buttigieg set out to address the 14% of South Bend’s housing stock that was sitting vacant or abandoned. He approached the problem using his standard management-consultant methodology: Gather data, convene experts, set goals.

Over the next six months, a task force of academics and policymakers mapped the location and condition of every derelict property in South Bend. At the end of the process, they told “Mayor Pete” that he should levy fines on homeowners who could afford to make repairs and demolish properties sitting on land that could be put to better use.

Almost immediately, Buttigieg announced his ambitious goal and set about achieving it. He expanded the city’s team of housing inspectors, increased the penalties for code violations and shortened the deadline for property owners to make repairs. For houses that were too damaged to rehabilitate, Buttigieg gave city employees the authority to tear them down, then charge the owner for the service.

According to the numbers, the strategy worked. The code enforcement department increased civil penalties by 25% the first year the plan was implemented. In 2014, inspectors handed out more than $500,000 in fines. By the time the initiative concluded, more than 1,200 homes had been fixed up or torn down.

But Buttigieg left something out. As first reported by BuzzFeed, the vast majority of the derelict properties were located in South Bend’s low-income, black and Latino neighborhoods. Some had inherited old homes from relatives. Others had bought properties at foreclosure auctions, expecting that a $500 house could never be a bad investment. Still others were trapped in “zombie mortgages,” forced to move out when they couldn’t pay off their home loan but still listed as the legal owner of the property.

Despite all the information indicating that South Bend’s blighted homes were overwhelmingly owned by minorities, however, the city’sVacant & Abandoned Properties Task Force Report did not include any mention of race whatsoever. According to the annualreports of the Code Enforcement department, fines and demolitions were heavily concentrated in minority neighborhoods. To this day, South Bend has never performed an analysis of the 1,000 Houses in 1,000 Days initiative that gathered any information on the ethnicity or income of the homeowners affected.

“I kept paying the fines because I thought, I’m a young business owner and this is just how it works,” said Tyria Bailey, a South Bend restaurant owner.

From 2012 to 2014, Bailey paid thousands of dollars in fines, usually for things like not mowing her grass or leaving trash outside. She once received a $900 citation for wood sitting in the yard of a neighbor’s home. And even on days when she didn’t get fines, she had to be vigilant. The local code enforcement inspector used to visit her business so often that her customers knew him by name.

“Even now I’m always checking the mail,” she said. “Because if you’re not right even just for a day, you know the fine is coming.”

Though Buttigieg did not respond to requests to be interviewed for this article, the. . .

Continue reading.

Not a good sign. “Blind spot” or “tone deaf” or “willful ignorance,” whatever: it’s bad.

Written by LeisureGuy

17 April 2019 at 12:09 pm

Bret Baier of Fox News gets a surprise at Bernie’s town hall

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It’s worth clicking to watch the 20-second video:

 

Written by LeisureGuy

16 April 2019 at 7:30 pm

Mick Mulvaney’s Master Class in Destroying a Bureaucracy From Within

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Nicholas Confessore reports in the NY Times:

One rainy afternoon early in February 2018, a procession of consumer experts and activists made their way to the headquarters of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in Washington to meet Mick Mulvaney, then the bureau’s acting director. The building — an aging Brutalist layer cake, selected by the bureau’s founders for the aspirational symbolism of its proximity to the White House, one block away — was under renovation, and so each visitor in turn trudged around to a side entrance. Inside the building, Mulvaney had begun another kind of reconstruction, one that would shift the balance of power between the politically influential industries that lend money and the hundreds of millions of Americans who borrow it.

Three months earlier, President Trump installed Mulvaney, a former congressman from South Carolina, as the C.F.P.B.’s acting director. Elizabeth Warren, who helped create the agency in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, envisioned it as a kind of economic equalizer for American consumers, a counter to the country’s rising structural inequality. Republicans had come to view her creation as a “rogue agency” with “dictatorial powers unique in the American republic,” as the party’s 2016 platform put it. In Congress, Mulvaney had established himself as an outspoken enemy of the bureau, describing it, memorably, as a “joke” in “a sick, sad kind of way” and sponsoring legislation to abolish it.

Some of those invited to the meeting in February had picketed outside the bureau’s headquarters on Mulvaney’s first day at work. Their unease had only grown as Mulvaney ordered a hiring freeze, put new enforcement cases on hold and sent the Federal Reserve, which funds the C.F.P.B., a budget request for zero dollars, saying the bureau could make do with the money it had on hand. Within weeks, Mulvaney announced that he would reconsider one of the bureau’s major long-term initiatives: rules to restrict payday loans, products that are marketed to the working poor as an emergency lifeline but frequently leave them buried in debt. “Anybody who thinks that a Trump-administration C.F.P.B. would be the same as an Obama-administration C.F.P.B. is simply being naïve,” Mulvaney told reporters. “Elections have consequences at every agency.”

Mulvaney was also aware that appearances have consequences. For agency heads, it is important to appear open to all points of view about their regulatory decisions, especially if they end up having to defend them in court. In February, he agreed to meet with his critics in person. Thirty or so people gathered around a conference table as rain lashed the windows. Mulvaney, who is 51, has close-cropped hair and a bulldog countenance that befits his manner. A founder of the House’s hard-line Freedom Caucus, he can be sarcastic, even withering, in hearings and speeches. But Mulvaney struck a placating tone with his guests. He kept his opening remarks brief, according to six people who attended the meeting. Important things at the bureau would not change, he reassured them. “I’m not here to burn the place down,” he insisted. Mulvaney said he did not intend to discuss his plans for the payday-loan rule with them but encouraged everyone to share their views.

Many of Mulvaney’s guests came from advocacy groups, like Americans for Financial Reform and the Center for Responsible Lending, that often did battle with Washington’s powerful financial-industry lobby. But the meeting also included a dozen religious leaders, among them officials from national evangelical and Baptist organizations, whose members tend to be among Trump’s most loyal supporters. These leaders viewed payday lending as not only unfair but also sinful, and they had fought against it across Trump country — in deep-red South Dakota, on the same day Trump won the presidency, voters overwhelmingly approved a ballot measure effectively banning payday loans. The ministers had planned carefully for their moment with Mulvaney, and for 20 minutes they took turns detailing the harm that payday lending had inflicted on their neighborhoods and congregations. Eventually they gave the floor to the Rev. Amiri B. Hooker, who led an African-American church near Mulvaney’s old congressional district.

“I told him I was from Kershaw County,” Hooker told me recently, recalling his exchange with Mulvaney. “He smiled and asked how were the good folks from Kershaw.” When Hooker pastored in Lake City, an hour away from Kershaw, a quarter of his congregation either had taken out payday loans themselves or knew someone who had. He told Mulvaney about an 84-year-old congregant in Lake City whom, during a week that she was so sick that she missed services, he saw hobbling toward him down the street. “She said, ‘I had to go pay my bill,’ ” Hooker recalled. The woman had taken out a $250 loan almost three years earlier to cover her granddaughter’s heating bill. She was still paying it off, Hooker told Mulvaney, at a cost of $75 a month, rolling over the loan into a new one each time.

Despite his earlier reticence, Mulvaney seemed eager to offer his own view of how the bureau ought to operate. It wasn’t up to the federal government to stop people from taking the kind of credit that suited them, he suggested: “There’s no reason people should be taking these loans — but they do.” He pointed out that there wasn’t anyone in the room from North Carolina, where payday lending was illegal. They should plead their case to state officials. “You have a place to go to address payday loans, and it’s not me,” he said, according to multiple attendees. As the C.F.P.B.’s acting director, he wouldn’t stop enforcing the law as written. He only wanted a more efficient bureau, he explained, one steeped in evidence-based decision-making, one that educated consumers to make good decisions on their own. Mulvaney provided few details about how it would all look, but he promised the pastors he would follow up to let them know which way he decided to go on payday-loan regulation. “I’ve never heard from him,” Hooker says.

In the months that followed, Mulvaney’s vision for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau would become clearer. This account of Mulvaney’s tenure is based on interviews with more than 60 current or former bureau employees, current and former Mulvaney aides, consumer advocates and financial-industry executives and lobbyists, as well as hundreds of pages of internal bureau documents obtained by The New York Times and others. When Mulvaney took over, the fledgling C.F.P.B. was perhaps Washington’s most feared financial regulator: It announced dozens of cases annually against abusive debt collectors, sloppy credit agencies and predatory lenders, and it was poised to force sweeping changes on the $30 billion payday-loan industry, one of the few corners of the financial world that operates free of federal regulation. What he left behind is an agency whose very mission is now a matter of bitter dispute. “The bureau was constructed really deliberately to protect ordinary people,” says Lisa Donner, the head of Americans for Financial Reform. “He’s taken it apart — dismantled it, piece by piece, brick by brick.”

Mulvaney’s careful campaign of deconstruction offers a case study in the Trump administration’s approach to transforming Washington, one in which strategic neglect and bureaucratic self-sabotage create versions of agencies that seem to run contrary to their basic premises. According to one person who speaks with Mulvaney often, his smooth subdual of the C.F.P.B. was part of his pitch to Trump for his promotion to White House chief of staff — long one of the most powerful jobs in Washington. Mulvaney’s slow-rolling attack on the bureau’s enforcement and regulatory powers wasn’t just one of the Trump era’s most emblematic assaults on the so-called administrative state. It was also, in part, an audition.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau emerged from a liberal concern that the American political economy was increasingly defined by inequality and consumer debt. As a young academic in the 1980s, Warren began studying how and why some Americans ended up taking on more debt than they could handle. The act of borrowing money, she learned, was growing increasingly risky and complex. As the consumer-credit industry grew, credit-card companies and mortgage lenders began to design their products to appear cheaper than they actually were. Unlike most things people buy, financial products became defined by their ever-lengthening terms and conditions: mandatory arbitration, reverse amortization, interest-rate calculations that can change at a whim, cross-default clauses and two-cycle billing, mysterious credit scores that emanate from Equifax and Experian as if from the temples of an obscurantist cult. “The real money was in the fine print,” Warren told me recently.

Warren, who is now a senator from Massachusetts and a Democratic candidate for president, spoke to me by phone as she was making her way to New Hampshire for a campaign swing. On the trail and off, Warren depicts the rise of the consumer financial industry as part of an elemental structural shift in American life. Wealthy people and big corporations were not just eating up a growing share of the pie; they had rigged the marketplace to help them do it. All that fine print didn’t just shift billions upon billions of dollars into the hands of lenders, Warren argued. It shifted power. Lenders could more safely harvest a few dollars in fees from the checking account of each customer, even when doing so broke the law, when mandatory arbitration clauses in the fine print prohibit customers from joining together in a class action to get their money back. Brokers could more easily push a family to a higher-cost mortgage, even when they qualified for a cheaper one, if the family believed they were getting the best possible deal. The increase in debt-financed consumption helped paper over the stagnating wages of the middle class and the growing gap between the rich and everyone else. But it was also driving an epidemic of social misery: bankruptcy and lost homes, anxiety and shame.

In her research, Warren found that people got in over their heads not because they were greedy or lacked self-discipline, but because they were being outmatched by a sophisticated and often predatory industry of lenders. Warren recalled being struck by “the number of people who said, in our interviews, ‘I never understood my payment would go up on that’ or ‘I didn’t understand I owed more on my house than I paid for it,’ ” she told me. “Even after they had seen a lawyer and declared bankruptcy, they still didn’t understand what had happened.” In a 2007 article titled “Unsafe at Any Rate,” Warren proposed the creation of a new regulatory agency to oversee consumer-credit products. When she lobbied lawmakers on Capitol Hill after the financial crisis, Warren would take them a selection of credit-card agreements. “I’d lay three of them down on the table, and I’d say, ‘Tell me which one is the cheapest credit card.’ ” None could.

Warren and other consumer advocates argued that . . .

Continue reading. There’s much more.

Written by LeisureGuy

16 April 2019 at 11:04 am

The mob-boss presidency

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Jennifer Rubin (a Republican columnist for the Washington Post) writes:

A normal president confronted with a news story suggesting he ordered underlings to illegally transport asylum seekers to so-called sanctuary cities in order to retaliate against political enemies would deny knowledge of such a heinous plot. If need be, he’d make light of it, portray it as if it were idle chatter or a joke. That’s what President Trump’s devoted prevaricators (White Houses staffers) did following The Post account.

Trump, however, is anything but normal. No, he tweeted — of course it was a tweet — that not only was the idea considered but that it is still under consideration. Aides on background hastened to say that nothing was in the works, once more contradicting their boss.

Making matters worse, we learned he allegedly told Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan to close the border despite concerns about the legality of doing so. He allegedly told McAleenan, who is now also acting secretary of homeland security, that he — Trump — would pardon him later if need be.

What?!? That’s the only sensible reaction for someone minimally conversant in the Constitution and the rule of law. This is the conduct of a movie mob boss, not a president. Trump is so brazen he’d rather lie to make himself appear more politically vengeful than tell the truth that his suggestion apparently was rebuffed. Tough guy. Gotta make da Dems quake in their boots, right?

Republicans, as they always do when Trump is shredding democracy, remained silent on Friday. Speaking more generally of Trump’s Twitter habits in an interview, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) declared the president to be a “freak.” Actually, if the allegations are true, he’s much worse than that.

Former federal prosecutor Mimi Rocah acknowledged that, if the allegation about a pardon was true and Trump was serious, Trump then “offered a pardon as a bribe to get a public official to commit an unlawful act.” Referring to Attorney General William P. Barr’s exaggerated conception of executive authority, she queried, “Would Barr dare say that’s within his executive power?”

Constitutional scholar Laurence H. Tribe tells me, “If carried out, this offer to pardon high immigration officials if they will break the law on his behalf is the most obviously impeachable action President Trump has taken to date: It would mean this president has seized the power to put not just himself but all who do his bidding beyond the reach of law.” He continues, “That doing so is a high crime and misdemeanor is beyond dispute. Any president guilty of such conduct cannot be permitted to remain in office.”

Now, even if the offer of a pardon were not technically a bribe, “this is still an extraordinary and disturbing abuse of presidential power,” says Joshua Matz, co-author with Tribe of “To End A Presidency: The Power of Impeachment.” “Especially if it were repeated in other contexts, such illegality-inducing conduct may well rise to the level of an impeachable offense, though in my view we don’t yet know nearly enough about what happened here to reach firm conclusions.”

In this, as in other instances, subordinates’ refusal to carry out orders (as former White House counsel Donald McGahn did in refusing to fire special counsel Robert S. Mueller III) provides some protection to Trump from the consequences of his own actions.

However, neither Trump nor the country can count on employees’ continued insubordination, especially in light of Trump’s preference for installing “acting” officials, who remain under his thumb. Swift and forceful action to halt his reckless disregard of the law is required.

Tribe argues, “Without doubt, therefore, the House Judiciary Committee needs to include this matter within its investigatory ambit, subpoenaing all those who may have relevant knowledge unless they appear voluntarily.” Normally, if there is a credible allegation of wrongdoing by the president, the attorney general would appoint a special counsel. Don’t hold your breath. Tribe observes, “it seems unrealistic to expect the blatantly compromised Attorney General William Barr to appoint a special counsel to pursue the issue even if, as appears to be the case, the president has credibly been charged with promising a pardon as a bribe for illegal conduct.”
We’ve now come to the point where Trump is bragging about a plot to abuse power, using federal resources to enact political revenge. We have reason to believe he tried to induce wrongdoing with a pardon offer. “One thing everyone who knows the relevant law has agreed about the otherwise sweeping pardon power is that it cannot be used in advance, to license crimes before they have been committed,” Tribe says.
Trump’s lawlessness is intensifying. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

13 April 2019 at 4:02 pm

The Steele Dossier: A Retrospective

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The Steele dossier, aka the Trump-Russia dossier, is being discussed anew. This Lawfare retrospective by Sarah Grant and Chuck Rosenberg is quite informative and is worth a bookmark:

The dossier compiled by former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele remains a subject of fascination—or, depending on your perspective, scorn. Indeed, it was much discussed during former FBI Director Jim Comey’s testimony in front of the House Judiciary Committee on Dec. 7. Published almost two years ago by BuzzFeed News in January 2017, the document received significant public attention, first for its lurid details regarding Donald Trump’s pre-presidential alleged sexual escapades in Russia and later for its role in forming part of the basis for the government’s application for a FISA warrant to surveil Carter Page.

Our interest in revisiting the compilation that has come to be called the “Steele Dossier” concerns neither of those topics, at least not directly. Rather, we returned to the document because we wondered whether information made public as a result of the Mueller investigation—and the passage of two years—has tended to buttress or diminish the crux of Steele’s original reporting.

The dossier is actually a series of reports—16 in all—that total 35 pages. Written in 2016, the dossier is a collection of raw intelligence. Steele neither evaluated nor synthesized the intelligence. He neither made nor rendered bottom-line judgments. The dossier is, quite simply and by design, raw reporting, not a finished intelligence product.

In that sense, the dossier is similar to an FBI 302 form or a DEA 6 form. Both of those forms are used by special agents of the FBI and DEA, respectively, to record what they are told by witnesses during investigations. The substance of these memoranda can be true or false, but the recording of information is (or should be) accurate. In that sense, notes taken by a special agent have much in common with the notes that a journalist might take while covering a story—the substance of those notes could be true or false, depending on what the source tells the journalist, but the transcription should be accurate.

With that in mind, we thought it would be worthwhile to look back at the dossier and to assess, to the extent possible, how the substance of Steele’s reporting holds up over time. In this effort, we considered only information in the public domain from trustworthy and official government sources, including documents released by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office in connection with the criminal casesbrought against Paul Manafort, the 12 Russian intelligence officers, the Internet Research Agency trolling operation and associated entities, Michael Cohen, Michael Flynn and George Papadopoulos. We also considered the draft statement of offensereleased by author Jerome Corsi, a memorandum released by House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Ranking Member Adam Schiff related to the Carter Page FISA applications and admissions directly from certain speakers.

These materials buttress some of Steele’s reporting, both specifically and thematically. The dossier holds up well over time, and none of it, to our knowledge, has been disproven.

But much of the reporting simply remains uncorroborated, at least by the yardstick we are using. Most significantly, the dossier reports a “well-developed conspiracy of co-operation between [Trump and his associates] and the Russian leadership,” including an “intelligence exchange [that] had been running between them for at least 8 years.” There has been significant investigative reporting about long-standing connections between Trump, his associates and Kremlin-affiliated individuals, and Trump himself acknowledged that the purpose of a June 2016 meeting between his son, Donald Trump Jr. and a Kremlin-connected lawyer was to obtain “dirt” on Hillary Clinton. But there is, at present, no evidence in the official record that confirms other direct ties or their relevance to the 2016 presidential campaign. With that caveat, here are excerpts from the dossier that correspond with details contained in official documents.

The dossier reports:

Over the period March-September 2016 a company called [redacted] and its affiliates had been using botnets and porn traffic to transmit viruses, plant bugs, steal data and conduct “altering operations” against the Democratic Party leadership. Entities linked to one [redacted] were involved and he and another hacking expert, both recruited under duress by the FSB, [redacted] were significant players in this operation.

Additionally, it reports:

the Russian regime had been behind the recent leak of embarrassing email messages, emanating from the Democratic National Committee (DNC), to the Wikileaks platform.  The reason for using Wikileaks was “plausible deniability” and the operation had been conducted with the full knowledge and support of Trump and senior members of his campaign team.

The indictment of 12 officers of the Russian Main Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff (GRU) corroborates these allegations from Steele’s sources. In particular, the indictment alleges:

3. Starting in at least March 2016, the Conspirators used a variety of means to hack the email accounts of volunteers and employees of the U.S. presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton (the “Clinton Campaign”), including the email account of the Clinton Campaign’s chairman.

4. By in or around April 2016, the Conspirators also hacked into the computer networks of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (“DCCC”) and the Democratic National Committee (“DNC”). The Conspirators covertly monitored the computers of dozens of DCCC and DNC employees, implanted hundreds of files containing malicious computer code (“malware”), and stole emails and other documents from the DCCC and DNC.

5. By in or around April 2016, the Conspirators began to plan the release of materials stolen from the Clinton Campaign, DCCC, and DNC.

6. Beginning in or around June 2016, the Conspirators staged and released tens of thousands of the stolen emails and documents. They did so using fictitious online personas, including “DCLeaks” and “Guccifer 2.0.”

7. The Conspirators also used the Guccifer 2.0 persona to release additional stolen documents through a website maintained by an organization ([Wikileaks]), that had previously posted documents stolen from U.S. persons, entities, and the U.S. government. The Conspirators continued their U.S. election-interference operations through in or around November 2016.

The indictment further alleges:

On or about August 15, 2016, the Conspirators, posing as Guccifer 2.0, wrote to a person who was in regular contact with senior members of the presidential campaign of Donald J. Trump, “thank u for writing back … do you find anyt[h]ing interesting in the docs I posted?” On or about August 17, 2016, the Conspirators added, “please tell me if I can help u anyhow … it would be a great pleasure to me.” On or about September 9, 2016, the Conspirators, again posing as Guccifer 2.0 referred to a stolen DCCC document posted online and asked the person, “what do u think of the info on the turnout model for the democrats entire presidential campaign.” The person responded, “[p]retty standard.”

Trump advisor Roger Stone publicly acknowledged that he had communicated with Guccifer 2.0 and was likely the unnamed individual to whom the indictment refers.

While the GRU indictment does not provide any additional detail on communications between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and Guccifer 2.0 or Wikileaks, the draft statement of offense for Jerome Corsi does. Corsi, an author connected to Stone, publicly released the draft statement on Nov. 27, 2018.

The document states: . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

10 April 2019 at 10:51 am

Don’t Wait For a Redacted Mueller Report—The law is clear: Congress is entitled to the full 400 pages.

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Nelson W. Cunningham, who served as a federal prosecutor in the Southern District of New York under Rudolph Giuliani, general counsel of the Senate Judiciary Committee under then-chair Joseph R. Biden, and general counsel of the White House Office of Administration under Bill Clinton, writes in Politico:

Attorney General William Barr is right: For public release of the Mueller report, he has no choice but to redact classified information, and also grand jury information pursuant to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 6(e). It’s not optional — it’s the law, designed to protect both the secrecy of grand jury proceedings and our nation’s security.

But those of us who have pored over Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s earlier court filings know that redacted documents are not just hard to read, they are almost impossible to understand or to comprehend. In other words, they will absolutely not satisfy the public cry for information.

Clearly, neither the Congress nor the public will be satisfied with a redacted report — which is why the House Judiciary Committee is threatening to fire up the subpoena cannon now that it’s clear Barr won’t meet chairman Jerrold Nadler’s April 2 deadline.

Congressional Democrats are right to demand the full report – but they are wrong to ask the attorney general to violate the law. Instead, they should learn from the lessons of Watergate and the example of Special Prosecutor Leon Jaworski and House Judiciary Chair Peter Rodino. They should demand the full report but only for their own use. They should use it as a road map for their own investigation. And they should not wait.

In 1974, Jaworski completed his work and produced a report backed by evidence collected by the grand jury. The House Judiciary Committee investigating the Watergate scandal issued a subpoena for the report and evidence, and immediately found themselves in court. H.R. Haldeman, President Nixon’s former chief of staff, moved to block production citing Rule 6(e), the same provision cited by Barr.

District Court Judge John J. Sirica rejected Haldeman’s claim and ruled that Rule 6(e) was no bar to disclosure to the committee. Haldeman appealed, and the case was heard by the full slate of D.C. Circuit active judges in a rarely convened en banc proceeding. Ruling 5-1, the D.C. Circuit affirmed the district judge’s analysis on March 21, 1974, in Haldeman v. Sirica . The only dissenter was a Nixon appointee, George MacKinnon.

The documents were promptly produced to the House Judiciary Committee. While the Jaworski report and underlying evidence did not themselves become public – Rule 6(e) was honored — the report became known as “the Road Map” and guided the committee’s ongoing investigation. Four months later the committee reported articles of impeachment. Two weeks later, President Nixon resigned.

Rule 6(e) is an important bulwark protecting the security of the grand jury investigative process and it is unreasonable to expect the attorney general to violate it. But the D.C. Circuit’s 1974 en banc decision is clear precedent for the proposition that House Judiciary proceedings fall within the category of appropriate exceptions to Rule 6(e). Per Haldeman, all Chairman Nadler needs is a subpoena. He should not wait. He should get his hands on the report and all the underlying evidence — as his predecessor Rodino did — and start his investigative work. And he needs to do so now, in anticipation of a court battle.

At the same time, House Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff and Senate Intelligence Vice-Chair Mark Warner should demand the unredacted report for their own committees. By statute they are entitled to it, and Rule 6(e) is no bar to sharing information provided to intelligence officials. Another regulation, 50 USC § 3092, provides that the intelligence committees must be given reports, in writing if desired, of significant intelligence and counterintelligence activities or failures. Mueller’s findings certainly qualify. Where matters are too delicate to share with all the members of the intelligence committees, statute and established practice provide that disclosure may be made to a smaller circle known as the “Gang of Eight”: the chair and ranking member of each intelligence committee, and the Democratic and Republican leaders of each chamber.

And by explicit language, Rule 6(e) specifically exempts intelligence shared with government officials from the restrictions on grand jury disclosure, thanks to language added after the 9/11 attacks. Before then, investigators were unwisely barred from sharing evidence gathered by grand jury with their intelligence counterparts. The 2002 amendments made it clear that Rule 6(e) would no longer be a bar. See Rule 6(e)(3)(D).

So just as a startingly on-point D.C. Circuit en banc precedent indicates the full report and underlying evidence may be shared with the Judiciary Committee, clear statutory language gives the same right to the intelligence committees.

Of course, any disclosure to the committees is subject to the laws governing grand jury and classified information. Chairman Rodino did not publicly release the Jaworski report and evidence (although a D.C. court finally ordered its public release last year). But like Jaworski’s report 45 years ago, Mueller’s could serve as a crucial road map for the judiciary and intelligence committees as they weigh the harm done by Russia’s meddling in our 2016 elections – building their own cases, calling witnesses and collecting the documents as Chairman Nadler has already begun to do.

Congressional Democrats should accept this imperfect result. There are . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

5 April 2019 at 11:37 am

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