â€œForget talking about the Trump Administration. The question now is whether this will be a Trump Putin Administration or a Putin Trump Administration.â€Â â€“ Dan Rather
In an editorial published Monday China’s state-run Global Times newspaper wrote that “in the field of diplomacy”Â President-elect Donald Trump is “as ignorant as a child.”
China is angered by Trump’s public dismissal of decades of established diplomatic protocols and means, made readily apparent by his phone call to the president of Taiwan, showing his disdain for a mutually agreed upon “One China” policy.
The world’s most populous nation, China’s viewpoint is also shared by numerous American intelligence officials, elected officials, and diplomatic personnel, many of whom are alarmed by the President-elect’s reaction to the Washington Post article Friday that disclosed that the Central Intelligence Agency reported the government of Russia, via proxy means and hacking activity, actively worked to disrupt the American political process, sow discord, and assist in electing Trump to the the presidency.
Trump dismissed the CIA report calling the notion “ridiculous” and, “just another excuse.”Â
Can you imagine if the election results were the opposite and WE tried to play the Russia/CIA card. It would be called conspiracy theory!
â€” Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 12, 2016
He lashed out warning that the persons in the intelligence community releasing these reports were the same ones who claimed that Iraq had possessed weapons of mass destruction, when in fact those reports were fabrications.Â
However, not all intelligence officials agree on the CIA’s assessment, which could could give Trump more ammunition to dispute the CIA assessment. In a series of interviews with Reuters, officials with the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which oversees the 17 agencies in the U.S. intelligence community told the wire service, “ODNI is not arguing that the agency (CIA) is wrong, only that they can’t prove intent,” said one. “Of course they can’t, absent agents in on the decision-making in Moscow.”Â
Reuters also noted that the Federal Bureau of Investigation, whose evidentiary standards require it to make cases that can stand up in court, declined to accept the CIA’s analysis â€“Â a deductive assessment of the available intelligence â€“Â for the same reason.
Speaking to the foreign press corps, Dmitry Peskov, the press secretary to Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin, referred to the CIA’s report as an “absolutely unfounded, unprofessional, unqualified statement and accusation which has nothing to do with reality.”Â
Other Tillerson boosters: Dmitry Peskov, Putinâ€™s official spokesperson: â€œHe fulfills his responsibilities in a highly professional manner.â€ https://t.co/YUztz4xjGU
â€” Ken Gude (@KenGude) December 13, 2016
In sharper contrast, White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters during his daily press briefing Monday, â€œYou didnâ€™t need a security clearance to figure out who benefited from malicious Russian cyber activity. The president-elect didnâ€™t call it into question,” he said, adding, “He certainly had a pretty good sense of whose side this activity was coming down on.â€
On Capitol Hill, members from both Houses are dismayed and alarmed. “This is very serious stuff,” Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders said regarding the reports of Russian hacking. “But for Donald Trump to summarily dismiss all of this makes no sense to me at all.”Â
In a joint statement, Senators Charles Shumer (D-NY), Jack Reed (D-RI), John McCain (R-AZ), and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said, “The reports should alarm every American.” Â
Of greater concern for one U.S. Senator speaking with NCRMÂ who declined to be named, is Trump’s refusal to take in daily intelligence briefings. In an interview with Fox News that aired Sunday, the president-elect claimed that he doesn’t need daily security briefings because he’s “like, a smart person.” The Senator scoffed at Trump’s declaration, saying, “Perhaps the president-elect should accept more intelligence briefings, so he understands Russia’s extensive hacking capability, as well as the extensive surveillance capabilities of U.S. intelligence agencies.”
The Senator then outlined a long list of reported ties between Trumpâ€™s team and Russia, noting that Congress and the public knew of those connections before the election, adding that Trump naming ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson as his choice for Secretary of State dismissing concerns the Exxon chief is too cozy with the Russian President is the ultimate act of studied ignorance.Â
Here’s video of Rex Tillerson getting his “Order of Friendship” medal pinned by Putin pic.twitter.com/oNqx0mHG7l
â€” andrew kaczynski (@KFILE) December 13, 2016
â€œPutin gave him [Tillerson] a pretty damn prestigious award back in 2013 (video). What kind of message does this send and not only to Trump’s critics here, what about our NATO allies and other governments?â€ he said. â€This goes beyond theatrics and buffoonery, no, this is damaging to national security and efforts diplomatically around the globe.â€Â
A major consideration is the fact that even though government officials were very much aware of the hacking problem even before the election, there was not a willingness to have the issue become politicized, according to one White House source. The Senator concurred and Tuesday The New York Times notedÂ thatÂ â€œa skeptical president-elect, the nationâ€™s intelligence agencies and the two major parties have become embroiled in an extraordinary public dispute over what evidence exists that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia moved beyond mere espionage to deliberately try to subvert American democracy and pick the winner of the presidential election.â€Â
A senior intelligence official told NCRM that the worst aspect of the Russian debacle is Trump’s apparent naivetÃ©Â regarding the importance of briefings and keeping informed.
â€œHe just doesn’t get it. Every action he takes, every tweet he sends, every public pronouncement he makes has a direct impact on more than just foreign policies and U.S. interests. He is displaying willing effort to remain ignorant about matters than change in mere hours or even minutes â€“Â that impact not just national security but global stability.â€
Famed journalist Dan Rather took the President-elect to task too, saying, â€œForget talking about the Trump Administration. The question now is whether this will be a Trump Putin Administration or a Putin Trump Administration.â€
â€œTrump can publicly diss the findings of the CIA all he wants – itself a worrying development for a President-elect seemingly allergic to intelligence briefings. But the reality is that America’s intelligence community has found solid evidence that Russia favored electing a President Trump. Tweeting in a post-fact world doesn’t change that.â€
Brody LevesqueÂ is the Chief Political Correspondent forÂ The New Civil Rights Movement.
You may contact Brody atÂ Brody.Levesque@thenewcivilrightsmovement.com
To comment on this article and other NCRM content, visit our Facebook page.
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Santos Campaign Can No Longer Raise or Spend Money After Treasurer Officially Calls It Quits: NYT
Enmeshed in a web of deceit and possibly under federal criminal investigation, U.S. Rep. George Santos (R-NY) is now apparently unable to lawfully spend money or accept donations via his political campaign, which reportedly now may also be in violation of FEC rules.
On Tuesday the embattled freshman Republican announced he was temporarily stepping down from his committee assignments, reportedly after a conversation with Speaker Kevin McCarthy. Before the end of the day his campaign treasurer filed official paperwork notifying the Federal Election Commission she had resigned.
“Nancy Marks’s resignation effectively leaves the Santos campaign unable to raise or spend money and in seeming violation of federal rules,” The New York Times reports, calling her his “longtime campaign treasurer and trusted aide.”
“Mr. Santos’s financial operations, which are the subject of several complaints filed with the F.E.C. and are being investigated by local, state and federal law enforcement,” The Times adds. “It also leaves the Santos campaign in disarray, effectively rendering it unable to raise or spend money and placing it in seeming violation of F.E.C. rules.”
In fact, FEC rules state: “If a committee’s treasurer is absent, the committee cannot make expenditures or accept contributions unless it has designated an assistant treasurer or designated agent on the committee’s Statement of Organization.”
The resignation comes after last week’s stunning report revealing that Santos, or his campaign, amended FEC filings to indicate the $700,000 he had claimed to have personally loaned his campaign had not actually come from his personal funds.
Unlike political candidates, campaign treasurers are held to an actual standard of truth, and can be personally – and legally – liable if they report false information.
FEC rules also state, “the treasurer can be named and found liable in his or her personal capacity if he or she knowingly and willfully violates the Act, recklessly fails to fulfill duties imposed by the law, or intentionally deprives himself or herself of the operative facts giving rise to the violation.”
Santos may find it difficult to hire a new treasurer: “Even when an enforcement action alleges violations that occurred during the term of a previous treasurer, the Commission usually names the current treasurer as a respondent in the action.”
The Times adds, “The lack of clarity over who, if anyone, is operating as Mr. Santos’s treasurer has already caused confusion. On Tuesday, a joint fund-raising committee associated with Mr. Santos filed paperwork to end its operations. Ms. Marks’s signature was on the paperwork, even though she had resigned as the committee’s treasurer the week before.”
Marks’ resignation also comes after someone affiliated with the Santos campaign falsely listed a well-known Republican treasurer on the official FEC forms as the treasurer for his campaign. As one expert put it, that’s a “big no-no,” and “completely illegal.”
Another SCOTUS Scandal: Chief Justice’s Spouse Makes Millions Placing Attorneys at Top Law Firms That Argue Before the Court
The highly controversial and highly unpopular U.S. Supreme Court isn’t just facing a historic loss of confidence, it’s now facing yet another ethics scandal that is likely to lower even further public opinion of the far-right institution that in under two decades has seen its approval rating slashed.
Although it will not hear arguments, the issue before the Supreme Court and the American people’s view of it, is, should a Justice’s spouse – in this case the spouse of Chief Justice John Roberts – be able to make millions of dollars recruiting attorneys who are placed into top law firms that argue cases before it?
That’s the latest allegation, and already a spokesperson for the Court has issued a statement denying any ethical violations.
The New York Times reports that “a former colleague of Mrs. Roberts has raised concerns that her recruiting work poses potential ethics issues for the chief justice. Seeking an inquiry, the ex-colleague has provided records to the Justice Department and Congress indicating Mrs. Roberts has been paid millions of dollars in commissions for placing lawyers at firms — some of which have business before the Supreme Court, according to a letter obtained by The New York Times.”
Jane Sullivan Roberts left a law firm where she was a partner after her spouse was confirmed as Chief Justice.
“Mrs. Roberts, according to a 2015 deposition,” The Times reports, “said that a significant portion of her practice was devoted to helping senior government lawyers land jobs at law firms and that the candidates’ names were almost never disclosed.”
Documents in that case “list six-figure fees credited to Mrs. Roberts for placing partners at law firms — including $690,000 in 2012 for one such match. The documents do not name clients, but Mr. Price recalled her recruitment of one prominent candidate, Ken Salazar, then interior secretary under President Barack Obama, to WilmerHale, a global firm that boasts of arguing more than 125 times before the Supreme Court.”
That case involves “a former colleague of Mrs. Roberts,” Kendal Price, a 66-year-old Boston lawyer, who “has raised concerns that her recruiting work poses potential ethics issues for the chief justice.”
“According to the letter,” sent by Price to DOJ and Congress, which the Times reports it obtained, “Mr. Price was fired in 2013 and sued the firm, as well as Mrs. Roberts and another executive, over his dismissal.”
The Times cites two legal experts, one who sees no ethical concerns with the situation, and one who does.
But critics are expressing great concern over this latest ethics issue, as they have been for years.
Doug Lindner, Advocacy Director for Judiciary & Democracy for the League of Conservation Voters, pointing to the Times’ report, remarked: “Another day, another ethics concern about another life-tenured conservative justice on the most powerful court in the world, which has no binding ethics rules.”
Indeed, the lack of a Supreme Court code of ethics has been repeatedly condemned for years, including by some of the nation’s top critics.
On Sept. 1, 2022, The Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin tweeted out her opinion piece: “Ginni Thomas pressed Wisconsin lawmakers to overturn Biden’s 2020 victory .. just another insurrectionist.”
Norman Ornstein, an emeritus scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and a contributing editor for the Atlantic, responded:
“Another reminder of how unethical is Justice Clarence Thomas, while Chief Justice Roberts turns a blind eye and continues to resist a code of ethics for a Supreme Court now distrusted by a majority of Americans. This defines the Roberts Court.”
The following month Ornstein slammed the Roberts Court once again.
“It is a stain on the Supreme Court that Chief Justice Roberts refuses to support a Judicial Code of Ethics, and stands by silently while Clarence Thomas flouts ethical standards over and over and over,” Ornstein charged.
Less than one month later he again unleashed on Roberts.
“Roberts is culpable,” he tweeted. “He has resisted over and over applying the Judicial Code of Ethics to the Supreme Court. This is Alito’s court, and it is partisan and corrupt.”
Ornstein is far from the Court’s only critic.
“If Chief Justice Roberts really wanted to address Supreme Court ethics, he would have immediately worked to implement a Code of Conduct after Clarence Thomas failed to recuse from cases involving January 6th despite having a clear conflict of interest,” the government watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington tweeted a year ago in May. The following month CREW published an analysis titled: “Chief Justice John Roberts is wrong: the American judicial system is facing a major ethics crisis.”
Meanwhile, in late November Politico reported that Democrats in Congress were outraged at the Roberts Court.
“Two senior Democrats in Congress are demanding that Chief Justice John Roberts detail what, if anything, the Supreme Court has done to respond to recent allegations of a leak of the outcome of a major case the high court considered several years ago,” PoliticoJosh Bernstein reported, referring to the leak of the Dobbs decision that overturned the Roe v. Wade decision – itself a massive ethics crisis for the Court.
“Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) are also interested in examining claims about a concerted effort by religious conservatives to woo the justices through meals and social engagements. They wrote to Roberts on Sunday, making clear that if the court won’t investigate the alleged ethical breaches, lawmakers are likely to launch their own probe.”
Whitehouse and Johnson “also criticized the high court’s response to a letter they sent Roberts in September, seeking information about the court’s reaction to reports in POLITICO and Rolling Stone about a yearslong campaign to encourage favorable decisions from the justices by bolstering their religiosity.”
Nothing has changed.
When the Roberts Court earlier this month announced its lengthy investigation did not find the draft Dobbs decision leaker but also did not include the Justices themselves, Stokes Prof. of Law at NYU Law School Melissa Murray, an MSNBC host, tweeted, “This is a Roberts Court leitmotif–The Chief loves to handle things–even big things–in-house. Ethics issues? No need to get involved, Congress. We’ll sort it out ourselves. Leak needs investigating? No need to call in an actual investigative body, the Marshal will handle it.”
Pulitzer prize winning New York Times investigative reporter Jodi Kantor, pointing to how the Justices were not thoroughly investigated during the leak probe, in earlier this month said: “Last week the court released statements that confirmed the gap between how the justices and everyone else were treated.”
“The whole situation amplifies a major question about the court: are these nine people, making decisions that affect all of us, accountable to anyone?”
‘Can Be Used Against You’: Trump Took Big Risk Pleading the Fifth 400 Times in Deposition Says Legal Expert
A newly released video shows Donald Trump pleading the Fifth Amendment hundreds of times in a deposition, and a legal expert explained how that could be used against him in court.
The former president was finally hauled in to testify last year in the $25 million fraud lawsuit filed against the Trump Organization by New York attorney Letitia James, and he exercised his constitutional right against self-incrimination nearly 450 times — but MSNBC legal analyst Andrew Weissmann said the move carried potential risk in a civil case.
“I agree with him on the point of taking the Fifth,” Weissmann said. “It’s important to remember everyone has a right to the Fifth if a truthful answer would tend to incriminate you. In a civil case, it can be used against you, unlike in a criminal case.”
“One other thing I would disagree is when he is saying there’s this witch hunt, he left out jurors,” Weissmann added. “The Trump Organizations went to trial, they had their day in court. They could present all of their evidence, [and] 12 jurors, that’s everyday citizens, found beyond a reasonable doubt that there was a multi-year tax conspiracy that his organizations were involved in, and there was evidence he knew about it as would make sense. That’s one more reason for him to be asserting the Fifth Amendment.”
Image via Shutterstock
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