Trump’s life and businesses are one big lie

There was plenty of awful legal news for President Trump this week, but the worst may have come from an official who hasn’t yet been sworn in.

Letitia James, who will become the New York state attorney general next month, told NBC she plans to “use every area of the law to investigate President Trump and his business transactions and that of his family as well.” James also said she hopes to pursue state charges against Trump associates whom the president might pardon for federal crimes.

No wonder Trump was so untethered when Chuck and Nancy dropped by.

Trump has been walking a tightrope of lies all his adult life, and now he is teetering. He has inflated his wealth. He has aggrandized his business acumen. He has managed to convince supporters that he is a respected businessman who brilliantly commanded a vast real estate empire. In a fanciful 2015 statement of his net worth, he claimed that his brand alone — just the name Trump — was worth $3 billion.

I wonder what it’s worth now.

In reality, Trump has never come anywhere near the top rank of New York real estate developers. He ran not a huge, sprawling enterprise but a small family firm in which he and his children had direct control. He was seen as so unreliable that genuine moguls refused to have anything to do with him. When he tried to go big — risking everything on casino development in Atlantic City — he failed miserably despite his father’s efforts to bail him out. His bankers were left holding the bag, and now major financial institutions won’t lend the Trump Organization a dime. It was Trump’s undeniable skill as a television performer carnival barker on “The Apprentice” that saved him from total ruin.

Now the law is beginning to squeeze him from all directions. His former consigliere, Michael Cohen, was sentenced Wednesday to three years in prison. One of the crimes Cohen confessed to was violating federal campaign finance laws by orchestrating six-figure payments to a Playboy model and an adult-film star, in the weeks before the 2016 election, to ensure their silence about sexual encounters they say they had with Trump. Cohen says he did this at Trump’s direction.

Trump’s see-no-evil allies dismiss Cohen as a proven liar about other matters. But also Wednesday, the company that owns the National Enquirer — American Media Inc. (AMI), which is run by Trump’s close friend David Pecker — admitted playing a major role in that same hush-money scheme. The aim, according to the company, was to help Trump win the election.

Trump responded by tweeting that “I never directed Michael Cohen to break the law.” But in the past, the president has also said that there weren’t any hush-money payments; that if such payments were made, he didn’t know about them; and that the payments, which totaled $280,000, were a “simple private transaction.”

The bottom line is that two witnesses, Cohen and AMI, independently now implicate the president of the United States in the commission of two felonies.

The campaign finance case is being brought by federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York. Back in Washington, meanwhile, special counsel Robert S. Mueller III has been busy, as well.

We learned this week that Michael Flynn, Trump’s short-lived national security adviser, has met with Mueller’s team 19 times to tell them what he knows. We also learned that Cohen has been eagerly cooperating with the Mueller probe. This means that at least two people in a position to know whether collusion with the Russians took place are singing like songbirds.

Potentially more serious for Trump and his family in the long run, however, is what the New York state probe might discover.

How much of the Trump Organization’s revenue has come from the sale of luxury real estate to oligarchs from Russia and other kleptocracies? Where did these buyers’ money come from? Why was Deutsche Bank — recently raided by German authorities and under investigation for money laundering — the only major financial institution willing to lend money to Trump in recent years? Where did Trump’s company get the large amounts of cash used in several transactions that Post reporters uncovered? How much commingling of funds was there between Trump’s company and his eponymous foundation?

Trump’s longtime accountant, Allen Weisselberg, has turned state’s evidence. He may be the Virgil who guides federal, state and local prosecutors through a Trumpian inferno of shell companies and opaque transactions. The outlines of Trump’s fate begin to emerge.

Trump has another very, very bad day . . . and it will get worse, a LOT worse

FBI raids offices of Trump’s former tax attorney — again

Donald Trump’s former Chicago tax attorney, Alderman Ed Burke, had his City Hall office raided by the FBI on Thursday — and it wasn’t the first time he had an office searched by the bureau.

NBC5 political editor Carol Marin tweeted Thursday evening that Burke’s City Hall office was “re-raided” by the bureau — the second time his office had been raided in a month after the FBI searched it on November 29.

On December 10, the Chicago Sun-Times reported that the FBI had also seized Burke’s cell phone. The same day, the newspaper also reported that the long-serving alderman’s  top political aide was questioned by the feds before the late November raid.

Burke, who’s been an alderman for almost 50 years, did Trump’s property taxes from 2006 until 2018.

 

Trump has just screwed up his attorney-client privilege — goddam but this clown is stupid, stupid, stupid

The former chief of staff at the FBI explained how President Donald Trump may be committing a critical mistake in his legal defense against having conspired to commit felony campaign finance violations.

Chuck Rosenberg explained the blunder on MSNBC “Deadline: White House” with anchor Nicolle Wallace on Thursday.

“Donald Trump has been engaged in a day-long rolling, rambling and rage-filled commentary on his own legal fate and on the sentencing of his former fixer and lawyer,” Wallace noted. “Coming in multiple tweets. his central contention is that he isn’t a crook.”

“The president not even able to keep his supporters at Fox News quiet about the clear and mounting evidence that he may very well face criminal liability in the cases out of the Southern District of New York which may explain his private concerns about impeachment as NBC News reports today,” Wallace explained.

“By the way, this is only the latest iteration of his defense. As I recall, the first defense was, I have no idea what in the heck you’re talking about, this never happened,” Rosenberg noted. “So we’re at a different defense and it’s also unavailing.”

“By the way, I think he’s also — he the president — has also hinted there’s an advice of counsel defense. And Dan [Goldman] knows this better than anybody, but there’s a fascinating problem for the president,” he explained. “If he really wants to travel down this path, which is if you are going to assert advice of counsel, you’re also effectively waving any attorney/client privilege.”

“Put aside the fact that advice of counsel defenses almost never work, the president may have just opened up a whole new avenue of hurt legally, if he really wants to assert that he relied on [Michael] Cohen,” he continued. “I don’t think that’s going to work, and I don’t think it’s wise.”

 

Now turns out that Trump’s inauguration was illegal

Prosecutors in the Southern District of New York are investigating Donald Trump’s inaugural committee, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.

Citing “people familiar with the matter,” The Journal reports the criminal probe is misspent funds and “also is examining whether some of the committee’s top donors gave money in exchange for access to the incoming Trump administration, policy concessions or to influence official administration positions.”

Donations in exchange for favors could violate anti-corruption law.

The committee was registered as a nonprofit and spent a record $107 million dollars.

“In April raids of Mr. Cohen’s home, office and hotel room, Federal Bureau of Investigation agents obtained a recorded conversation between Mr. Cohen and Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, a former adviser to Melania Trump, who worked on the inaugural events,” The Journal reported. “In the recording, Ms. Wolkoff expressed concern about how the inaugural committee was spending money, according to a person familiar with the Cohen investigation.”

“The inaugural committee has publicly identified vendors accounting for $61 million of the $103 million it spent, and it hasn’t provided details on those expenses, according to tax filings,” The Journal added. “The committee raised more than double what former President Barack Obama’s first inaugural fund reported raising in 2009, the previous record. President Trump’s funds came largely from wealthy donors and corporations who gave $1 million or more—including casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson, AT&T Inc. and Boeing Co., according to Federal Election Commission filings.”

The federal government has a key cooperating witness in the investigation.

Rick Gates, Trump’s 2016 deputy campaign manager, served as deputy chairman of the inauguration.

Gates has been cooperating with federal prosecutors since a February plea deal.

 

GEN John Kelly tells friends he is happy to be free from the Trump curse

Outgoing White House chief of staff John Kelly has reportedly begun revealing to friends his feelings about leaving the Trump administration.

CNN’s Jim Acosta reported on-air Thursday that a source close to the White House said Kelly “is confiding to friends that he’s relieved to be leaving” his post.

Tensions between Kelly and President Donald Trump were rumored for months prior to reports that the retired Marine general will be leaving the White House.

Veteran journalist Bob Woodward wrote in “Fear,” his nonfiction look into the Trump White House, that Kelly thinks Trump is both “crazy” and an “idiot.”

Amid ample speculation about who will replace Kelly, HuffPost reported that Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner is in the running for the next White House chief of staff.

Trump’s wall is dead . . . GOP Congress leaving town, no vote on wall . . . no vote on the wall EVER

There was some big talk on Wednesday from House Republicans about how they totally have enough votes to approve the $5 billion in border wall funding Individual 1 is demanding the government be shut down over. They so much have all the Republican votes they need, they were definitely going to have a vote on that this week.

Or not. They’re leaving town today, with no votes scheduled now until next Wednesday afternoon, two days before the partial government shutdown deadline. They are on standby to return if needed. But they’re not slinking off because they don’t have the votes to back up Trump, Republicans insist. Nope, they could totally do it, they just don’t see any point. “Do we have the votes for a measure that includes $5 billion for the wall? Yes,” says Rep. Patrick T. McHenry (R-NC), one of the leadership team, but “The question of whether to do it is a question of wisdom and strategy and tactics, and it’s highly debatable about whether that’s the right move.” Uh-huh.

“They do not have the votes to pass the president’s proposal,” Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said of the $5 billion wall plan. Believe her. If they had the votes, they would have passed it months ago. So they seem to be at an impasse, with nominal House Speaker Paul Ryan ditching any responsibility for getting a deal made in the next eight days. Trump isn’t going to have the House backing him on his $5 billion demand, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, well, who knows what he’s doing? He continues to offer nothing more than an oblique “I’m optimistic there won’t be a government shutdown.” But he’s not scheduled to be talking to Trump, or anyone else, according to public schedules.

About 75 percent of government is already funded, so maybe they just don’t really give a damn. That’s what Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) implies. “The fact is, the vast majority of the government is not going to be shut down under any scenario,” he rationalized. “So there’s this little tiny sliver, and within that universe, anybody that is an essential employee still works. So I think this has all gotten a lot overblown.” That “tiny sliver” included tens of thousands of employees in Homeland Security, Interior, Agriculture, Justice, Commerce, Transportation and State departments and NASA. The essential employees in those departments would get the great Christmas present of having to show up for work and not getting paid for it.

Maybe they all see room for Trump backing down with his latest about how Mexico is paying for the wall anyway except it’s really still taxpayers who are on the hook because it’s money we’re “saving” because of his trade deal. What a stable genius to come up with that one.

Trump planned and directed payoffs to porn stars

After Donald Trump’s fixer Michael Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison, the president tried out a series of excuses to distance himself from the disgraced attorney.

In the past, he’s also claimed to be unaware of the payments made to porn star Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal to silence them ahead of the election.

But NBC reports that Donald Trump was in the room when Cohen agreed to pay the women the hush money.

“Donald Trump was the third person in the room in August 2015 when his lawyer Michael Cohen and National Enquirer publisher David Pecker discussed ways Pecker could help counter negative stories about Trump’s relationships with women,” NBC News writes.

Read here.

Trump is lying about “border security”

Now, I know you Trump-loving MAGAts have your heads so far up Trump’s ass that truth cannot penetrate — and I know you spend you waking hours foaming at the mouth watching Fox.

Still, I hope maybe facts can penetrate the pile of bullshit under which you live.

FACTS

LIE: Trump says immigrants are bringing in disease — speaking specifically about people coming in from Central and South America.

FACT:  The countries of Central and South America have vaccination requirements that are far more strict than ours.  Vaccination against common and uncommon diseases are MANDATORY in those countries and the rate of vaccination is almost 100%.  Unlike the US, there is no one permitted to opt-out. Now, I know some of you have heard of a measles outbreak among the Somalia community in Minnesota.  That happened after a grouip of anti-vaccination biblethumpers got into the community and convinced people to not vaccinate their children.  Public health authorities stopped that nonsense but not until 40 or so kids contracted measles.  Trump lies.

 

LIE.  “They’re bringing drugs . . .”

FACT. Most drugs that enter the US illegally come in through LEGAL BORDER CROSSING POINTS, smuggled in on trucks carrying legal cargo.

 

LIE. ” They are rapists and murderers and criminals . . . ”

FACT.  Acccording to FBI and state statistics,  immigrant communities from all countries have the lowest rates of all crime.  Yes, occasionally an immigrant — legal or illegal — commits a heinous crime.  But they are the minority and there’s nothing unusual about it.

 

LIE.  “They are flooding across our border. . .”

FACT.  Bullshit.  Illegal border crossings are now at their lowest rate in over 40 years.  The main reason is improved economic conditions in South and Central America — people no longer have to leave home to find work in the US.

 

LIE.  Mexico is going to pay for the wall through the new NAFTA agreement.

FACT.  Bullshit.  The new US-Mexico-Canada trade agreement is nothing but NAFTA slightly revised.  Nothing in the agreement will result in Mexico paying for our border security.

 

BOTTOM LINE:  Trump lies and you dimwits eat it up.

 

New York Attorney General all set to bring down the Trump Crime Family

Donald Trump and his offspring are most certainly sweating the special counsel investigation into their increasingly obvious collusion with the Russians, the NRA, and a cast of bad characters like Roger Stone, but their real nightmare is about to begin and it has nothing to do with Robert Mueller. No, no. The worst fears of the Trump family crime organization are going to be realized when Leticia James is sworn in as New York’s attorney general. Unlike her predecessors, she is not going to look the other way. In fact, she’s coming at them with all that she has—and she plans to leave no stone unturned. In an interview with NBC News, James said, “We will use every area of the law to investigate President Trump and his business transactions and that of his family as well.”

Leticia James outlined just a few of the areas they intend to investigate immediately, including exactly how Donald Trump got $413 million from his father in sketchy real estate transactions and tax schemes and much more.

  • Any potential illegalities involving Trump’s real estate holdings in New York, highlighting a New York Times investigation published in October into the president’s finances.
  • The June 2016 Trump Tower meeting with a Russian official.
  • Examine government subsidies Trump received, which were also the subject of Times investigative work.
  • Whether he is in violation of the emoluments clause in the U.S. Constitution through his New York businesses.
  • Continue to probe the Trump Foundation.

In fact, James went even further, saying she would “investigate anyone in his orbit who has, in fact, violated the law.” Considering how many criminals Donald Trump, his family, and his associates interact with on a regular basis, Leticia James is about a bring a world of hurt to Trump Tower. In 2012, then New York City District Attorney Cy Vance’s office was on the verge of bringing felony fraud charges against Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump for deceiving investors, but that investigation disappeared like a fart in the wind after Vance received a $25,000 donation from Trump attorney Marc Kasowitz. The New Yorker revealed details of the curious decision from Cy Vance to drop the case, overruling his own attorneys from the Major Economic Crimes Bureau.

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.)

Leticia James’s promise to investigate others in the Trump orbit is terrible news for Michael Cohen in particular. Last week there were two sentencing memos filed with respect to Michael Cohen—one from Robert Mueller asking for leniency because of Cohen’s cooperation and one from the Southern District of New York, which essentially asked to throw the book at Cohen because he was not fully cooperating. There’s a reason he wasn’t fully cooperating—Michael Cohen’s family has long, deep ties to Russian mobsters and full cooperation means throwing them into the investigative wood chipper. Cohen himself was a part owner of the El Caribe Country Club in Brooklyn, a well-known hangout and preferred event venue of Russian mob figures, most notably Cohen’s father-in-law, Fima Shusterman. More from Rolling Stone:

I spoke to two former federal investigators who told me Cohen was introduced to Donald Trump by his father-in-law, Fima Shusterman, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Ukraine who arrived in the U.S. in 1975. Shusterman was in the garment business and owned a fleet of taxicabs with his partners, Shalva Botier and Edward Zubok – all three men were convicted of a money-laundering related offense in 1993. “Fima may have been a (possibly silent) business partner with Trump, perhaps even used as a conduit for Russian investors in Trump properties and other ventures,” a former federal investigator told me. “Cohen, who married into the family, was given the job with the Trump Org as a favor to Shusterman.” (“Untrue,” Cohen told me. “Your source is creating fake news.”)

No doubt James will look into Michael Cohen’s real estate magic, like that time he sold four buildings on the same day for $32 million in CASH, tripling what he paid for the properties only three years prior. It’s almost Trumpian! Reminiscent of Donald Trump’s real estate magic when he managed to sell a Florida mansion to Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev for nearly $100 million after buying the property for $40 million only four years earlier. Cohen and Trump had a real knack for doubling or tripling their money through real estate transactions with foreigners, particularly Russians. What. A. Coincidence.

To help build her extensive legal department ahead of these numerous investigations, she’s turned to former U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch to identify and recruit experts related to these investigations.

Unlike federal convictions, Donald Trump does not have the ability to pardon anyone convicted in state crimes. Nor does he have the ability to throw a monkey wrench in New York investigations the way he is attempting to do with the Department of Justice and the special counsel investigation. New York state law currently says the state cannot pursue state charges for federal crimes that have already been pardoned, but James says she expects the New York legislature to pass a bill changing that law in the next 100 days.

In short, the Trump family crime organization is in for a world of pain that will last long after Donald Trump leaves the White House.

Donald Trump: Loser.

There’s a saying in New York: “To meet Donald Trump is to wish that you had never met Donald Trump.”  Donald Trump has been to New York what the Cubs were to Chicago, a lovable loser. Nobody took his claims to wealth, sexual prowess, or business acumen seriously. He was like the loud uncle at Thanksgiving that you get wasted watching football, so that he sleeps through dinner.

All of which suited Donald Trump just fine. Mainly because it was the perfect cover. After all, who would ever think that a guy you have to remind to zip up before he leaves the bathroom could be a criminal mastermind.

Trump got away with his myriad schemes in New York for 35 years mainly because he just wasn’t worth the trouble. He ran a mom and pop bodega operation, and as long as he was discreet enough to provide at least some cover to his chicanery, he just wasn’t worth the trouble.

Not anymore. And it was Trump’s unrelenting ego and narcissism that did him in.

The problem for Trump with the Mueller investigation isn’t so much Russia, as it is the fact that the investigation gave the agents and prosecutors access to many other things that might not touch directly on Russia, but sure did make for interesting bedtime reading on other subjects.

The incoming Attorney General for the state of New York has quite the laundry list of sins that she can’t wait to see if she can’t wrap Trump up in like a dead fish in yesterday’s newspaper. I’m not so sure that she actually has the authority to investigate the Trump Tower meeting, but I admire her spirit. But there are a host of other shenanigans, such as money laundering, bank fraud, wire fraud, and state income tax evasion that should keep her quite busy for the foreseeable future.

The thing to remember is that a pardon can’t save Trump from retribution, not even on the federal level. Forget the issue of whether a President can pardon himself, it doesn’t matter. While Trump may be able to make his own criminal negligence go away, his company is a different matter. You can’t pardon a company, and the Trump organization is the vehicle that Trump used for most of his nefarious schemes. It is also his sole source of wealth.

Trump’s favorite excuse for not releasing his tax returns is that they are perpetually “under audit.” True or not, Trump’s assertion that his annual tax return is the size of the greater Manhattan white pages only indicates just how intricately his personal wealth is interlinked with his business entities.Which can kill him. If he is found guilty of tax fraud, or money laundering, or bank fraud, prison is the least of his worries. The penalties, back payments, and interest could bankrupt the company.  Knowing the endless avarice of Trump, and his belief in his own criminal brilliance, there are plenty of crimes to find that are well short of any statute of limitations come January of 2021. And if a Democrat wins the White Hose, I don’t see the new Attorney General having serious qualms about unleashing the justice department dogs of war. And call me silly, but I don’t think that Allen Weisselberg is too crazy about modeling an orange jumpsuit to protect Trump.

And the state is even worse for Trump. First of all, Trump can’t pardon himself from criminal prosecution on state charges. But more importantly, criminal charges may again be the least of his worries. Thanks to incredible journalism, the state of New York is now undertaking unraveling all of the shabbily hidden “gifts” that Trump and his siblings received from their parents. If those are found to have been made in a way that sheltered them from legitimate taxes, I heard one estimate that the Trump’s may owe in excess of $150 million in back taxes, interest, and fines. And that’s personal money we’re talking about, not company funds.

Trump’s real problem, whether state of federal, is his rather convoluted definition of “wealth.” He has proudly proclaimed himself the “king of debt,” and he wants this to be how America is great again. Trump is right. He doesn’t actually own Trump Force One, it belongs to a corporate spin off. Say Trump Tower is worth $100 million. but if it’s leveraged by $80 million in mortgages and loan guarantees, its true value to Trump is $20 million. This is where the tax and other financial litigation kills Trump, if he’s hit with heavy enough fines and compensation, his assets won’t be enough to cover it all.

So yes, I want to see Trump’s mug shot, and a perp walk would let me die in ecstasy. But just as badly, I want to see Trump reduced to living in a third floor, cold water walk up in one of Jared’s lousy rent controlled buildings on the lower east side. If, that is, he doesn’t drag Klan Kushner right on down with him. And what I wouldn’t give to see Melania walk out of this with a new jacket that says “I married a sexist pig, and all I got was a lousy US passport.”  Mueller isn’t the only one “following the money.” And impeaching Trump allows him to be a martyr to his followers, bankrupting Trump makes him a loser, and an inept one at that. Which one is worse? For Trump, I honestly believe the latter.