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CORRUPTION

‘Could Lead to the End of the Trump Organization’: Former Prosecutor Discusses Parallels to Watergate

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Trump Organization chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg being granted immunity could lead to the end of the company, former federal prosecutor Jill Wine-Banks explained on MSNBC.

Wine-Banks, who was a Watergate prosecutor, explained the news of Weisselberg’s immunity in light of the other breaking news, including the investigation by the state of New York into the Trump Organization.

“Obviously the state has gotten the information from the investigation in the Southern District of New York and they are pursuing it,” Wine-Banks told MSNBC’s Ali Velshi. “And you are correct, it is something that Donald Trump cannot pardon anyone for, so it’s significant.

Wine-Banks said that she believes, “there’s something really significant in the fact that they grossed up the amount — that shows that they knew that they were paying a sham invoice. If they had been actually reimbursing him, he wouldn’t have to pay taxes on it.”

“So that’s pretty clear proof that the Trump organization is guilty,” she concluded. “And, it also … make the crime at the state level a felony because they’re concealing another crime.”

“So I would say there’s a couple of Watergate analogies, which is ‘What did the president know and when did he know it?’” she noted.

“If he’s smart and has a good immunity deal, he ought to get it all out now while he has immunity and that could really lead to the downfall of the Trump Organization,” Wine-Banks concluded.

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Image by Disney | ABC Television Group via Flickr and a CC license

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CORRUPTION

RNC Chair Asked Nominee for $500,000 in Possible Pay-to-Play Scheme for Ambassadorship: Report

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Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel appears to be enmeshed in an possible pay-to-play scheme, asking a nominee for $500,000 after his ambassadorship nomination ran into trouble.

When the confirmation for President Donald Trump’s ambassador to the Bahamas stalled in the Senate, Republican National Committee Chairwoman Rona McDaniel dashed off an email to the nominee, San Diego billionaire Doug Manchester.

“Would you consider putting together $500,000 worth of contributions from your family to ensure we hit our ambitious fundraising goal?” McDaniel wrote in an email, according to CBS News, which reports the email came “as his confirmation in the Senate hung in the balance.”

Manchester, who had donated $1 million to Trump’s inauguration fund, replied quickly.

“As you know I am not supposed to do any, but my wife is sending a contribution for $100,000,” he wrote. “Assuming I get voted out of the [Foreign Relations Committee] on Wednesday to the floor we need you to have the majority leader bring it to a majority vote … Once confirmed, I our [sic] family will respond!”

Related: Payday Lender Accidentally Exposes Corrupt Pay-to-Play Scheme Between RNC and White House

CBS spoke with Manchester, telling him, “You know what this looks like.”

“Well — it looks like it to you. But it’s not the facts,” Manchester responded. “My wife gave out of separate funds and she in fact loves Donald Trump.”

Manchester told CBS it’s just “part of politics.”

“You give and you give and you give and you give some more and more and more,” he said.

He ultimately was forced to withdraw.

This is not the first ambassador nominee who has given huge sums to the RNC or to team Trump. Gordon Sondland, who is at the center of the Ukraine scandal, became Trump’s ambassador to the European Union despite having no experience for the role. He also gave Trump’s inauguration committee $1 million. The New Republic reports many of Trump’s ambassadors are high-dollar donors.

Among them, Kelly Knight Craft, who is now the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, “donated $1 million alongside her husband.”

 

 

 

 

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CORRUPTION

Giuliani Henchman Arrested Carrying Suspicious Items Connected to Trump’s Extortion Scheme in Ukraine

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One of Rudy Giuliani’s henchman was carrying items when he was arrested that raise questions about what he was planning as he fled the country.

Lev Parnas, who was arrested with associate Igor Fruman last month on campaign finance violations, was carrying the business card of a Ukrainian prosecutor who had previously met with Giuliani to discuss the conspiracy theories that set in motion the actions now under investigation in the impeachment inquiry, reported The Daily Beast.

Parnas and Fruman were arrested by plainclothes officers last month as they were boarding a jet to Frankfurt on one-way tickets, just hours after having lunch with Giuliani at the Trump International Hotel.

The pair, who investigators say were eventually headed to Vienna, had been enjoying free drinks and food in an airport lounge before their arrest.

Federal agents searched their belongings, and The Daily Beast learned that Parnas was carrying the business card of anti-corruption prosecutor Nazar Kholodnytsky, among 66 items catalogued by FBI agents after the arrest.

It’s not clear how Parnas obtained the card for Kholodnytsky, who had met months earlier with Giuliani in Paris to discuss Joe Biden and his son Hunter and dubious 2016 election interference claims involving Ukraine.

Parnas was also reportedly carrying Trump straws sold on the president’s campaign website, along with large amounts of cash.

Kholodnytsky was caught on a recording earlier this year trying to influence false testimony and tipping off targets to impending raids, although he claims the evidence was taken out of context.

Marie Yovanovitch — who was forced out as the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine following a smear campaign by Giuliani, Parnas and Fruman — called for Kholodnytsky’s removal.

Yovanovitch, who has told lawmakers she felt threatened by President Donald Trump and his associates, will testify Friday in the second public impeachment hearing.

 

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CORRUPTION

‘Preposterously Corrupt’: MSNBC’s Morning Joe Laughs Out Loud at Trump’s ‘Stupid’ Threats to Fire Inspector General

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MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough laughed out loud at President Donald Trump’s “preposterously corrupt” proposal to fire the inspector general who reported the whistleblower complaint that has launched the impeachment process.

The president has privately talked about dismissing the intelligence community’s inspector general, Michael Atkinson, because he shared the complaint that described Trump’s efforts to pressure Ukraine’s president to investigate Joe Biden.

Trump has been furious about the inspector general, whom he appointed in 2017, ever since the complaint went public in September, and he has complained that Atkinson has been disloyal to him, sources told the New York Times.

“The instinct was so preposterously corrupt,” Scarborough said, “that when I read the breaking news headline, I actually laughed out loud because it shows you how extreme this president has gotten, how extreme this White House has gotten, that this president might actually be stupid enough to fire an inspector general because he read the law, he followed the law, he applied the law, and now the president wants — or is considering firing him because of that.”

 

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