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CORRUPTION

The Other Major Bombshell Buried in Michael Cohen’s Felony Charges

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Buried in the details of charges Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to on Tuesday is a mysterious claim — and potential bombshell — that went largely overlooked in the original reporting of his conviction.

Cohen’s admission that he violated campaign finance law at the direction of President Donald Trump — then just a candidate — by making hush money payments to silence women who said they had had affairs with Trump drew the most attention. Cohen made those payments and was eventually reimbursed — transactions that allegedly constitute crimes and were not properly reported.

But in addition to the payouts to the women, there was another large sum for which Cohen was later reimbursed, according to the court documents:

The $50,000 represented a claimed payment for “tech services,” which in fact related to work COHEN had solicited from a technology company during and in connection with the campaign.

The document gives no more information about this payment, but the language suggests investigators may know more details about it — including the technology company in question — that they have not yet revealed.

CNBC reported this detail Wednesday night, though other outlets had mentioned it previously.

The payment certainly raises more question than it answers. It’s clear why Trump and Cohen would have wanted to use underhanded payments to silence women who allegedly had affairs with Trump — the whole point was to keep the news a secret. But why would they use the same method to pay for a technology company’s services during the campaign? As long as the services were above board, this would be a legitimate campaign expense.

CNBC notes that Cohen’s lawyer Lanny Davis has made intriguing remarks that may point to an answer. Cohen, Davis told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow on Tuesday night, may have “knowledge about the computer crime of hacking and whether or not Mr. Trump knew ahead of time about that crime and even cheered it on.”

If Cohen had participated in covering up Trump’s involvement in the hacking that disrupted the 2016 campaign, this fact would be explosive.

Alternatively, the payment could relate to Cambridge Analytica, the data firm that Trump’s campaign employed that recently shuttered in the wake of a massive data breach scandal. However, that firm was hired on the books, so it’s not clear why an additional $50,000 payment would have been kept hidden.

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CORRUPTION

Recording Between Rudy Giuliani and Ukraine Official Reveals Outright ‘Quid Pro Quo’

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CNN has revealed the recording of the call between Rudy Giuliani and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky’s top aide where the former president’s lawyer pressured the country to investigate the conspiracy theories created around now-President Joe Biden.

The call from 2019 took place between U.S. diplomat Kurt Volker and Zelensky’s aid Andriy Yermak and happened ahead of then-President Donald Trump’s infamous “quid pro quo” where he demanded a “favor” for aid allocated to Ukraine.

“During the roughly 40-minute call, Giuliani repeatedly told Yermak that Zelensky should publicly announce investigations into possible corruption by Biden in Ukraine, and into claims that Ukraine meddled in the 2016 election to hurt Trump,” said the report, noting “these separate claims are both untrue.”

“All we need from the President [Zelensky] is to say, I’m gonna put an honest prosecutor in charge, he’s gonna investigate and dig up the evidence, that presently exists and is there any other evidence about involvement of the 2016 election, and then the Biden thing has to be run out,” Giuliani said on the call, according to the audio. “… Somebody in Ukraine’s gotta take that seriously.”

“I got information from a reliable investigator, international investigator, that there was a certain amount of activity in Ukraine during the 2016 election,” Giuliani told Yermak at one point, using another false claim that the U.S. embassy attempted to “produce dirt on then-candidate Trump and Paul Manafort.”

“Another one was involved with (George) Soros … Soros apparently is behind a lot of this,” Giuliani claimed of the liberal billionaire that the right-wing loves to create conspiracies about.

Giuliani then brought up the conspiracy theory that Biden wouldn’t give money to Ukraine if they didn’t fire a top prosecutor in the state that the international community believed was corrupt.

“To me, as a lawyer, it sounds like a bribe,” Giuliani said. “A bribe is offering something of value in exchange for official action. So, he offered Poroshenko a $1.2 billion loan guarantee, critical to Poroshenko’s success as president, in exchange for getting rid of a prosecutor general.”

CNN reported that Guiliani repeated over and over again how necessary the investigation was, even claiming the diplomatic relations would improve between the U.S. and Ukraine if the probe was launched, another example of a quid pro quo.

Giuliani and Volker both told the Ukraine official that such a public announcement would certainly ensure an approved visit to the U.S. for Zelensky, a third bribe.

“That would clear the air really well,” Giuliani said, in the recording. “And I think it would make it possible for me to come and make it possible, I think, for me to talk to the President (Trump) to see what I can do about making sure that whatever misunderstandings are put aside … I kinda think that this could be a good thing for having a much better relationship.”

Read the full report at CNN.com and hear a segment of the audio below:

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CORRUPTION

Matt Gaetz Begged Donald Trump for a ‘Blanket Pardon’ Before He Left Office: NYTimes

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Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) was among those who asked for a pardon from President Donald Trump before he left office, the New York Times reported.

While Gaetz spoke to Fox News saying that Trump should pardon anyone and everyone, now it has been revealed why he was so excited about that.

A pardon requires that one outline the crimes that they were guilty of. According to the Times, however, Gaetz wanted a preemptive pardon for himself and “unidentified congressional allies for any crimes they may have committed, according to two people told of the discussions.”

At the time that Gaetz was calling for the pardons, and asking for his own pardon, the Justice Department had started questioning Gaetz’s associates about whether he had a sexual relationship with an underage girl that also violated sex trafficking laws.

“It was unclear whether Mr. Gaetz or the White House knew at the time about the inquiry, or who else he sought pardons for. Mr. Gaetz did not tell White House aides that he was under investigation for potential sex trafficking violations when he made the request. But top White House lawyers and officials viewed the request for a pre-emptive pardon as a nonstarter that would set a bad precedent,” the Times said, quoting the people familiar said.

Aides told Trump about the request, but it’s unknown if Gaetz reached out to Trump personally.

 

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CORRUPTION

Controversial High-Level Trump Official Banned From Federal Employment for 4 Years After Hatch Violation: Report

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A highly-controversial now-former Trump political appointee who worked at the Dept. of Housing and Urban Development has been fined $1000 and is banned from federal employment for four years, the U.S. Office of Special Counsel announced Tuesday.

Lynne Patton, who was hired by the Trump administration into a high-level role at HUD after being the wedding planner for Eric Trump and working at the Eric Trump Foundation, admitted to violating the Hatch Act.

“As part of the agreement Patton admitted to violating the Hatch Act by using her official position to produce a video about housing conditions for the Republican National Convention,” an OSC statement (below) reads. “As a HUD employee Patton received permission in early 2019 to temporarily live in and observe living conditions in the New York City Housing Authority. During her approximately one month stay Patton met residents and later leveraged one of those relationships to recruit participants to film a video that would air at the the RNC. Patton wanted NYCHA residents to appear in the video to explain how their standard of living had improved under the Trump administration.”

A 2016 Associated Press article on the lack of minority senior executives “in Trump’s empire” described Patton as “Eric Trump’s longtime personal assistant.”

“After the AP questioned the campaign’s citation of her as a Trump Organization executive, her title on the Eric Trump Foundation’s website and her profile on the LinkedIn service was changed to ‘vice president of the Eric Trump Foundation.’ That position did not appear on the foundation’s most recent tax filing for 2014, which said Patton was one of 16 unpaid directors who devote approximately one hour per week to the charity.”

Tenants were outraged at being used in the RNC video, according to this local NYC news report:

 

Related: Calls Grow for Trump Official to Resign After Calling Reporter April Ryan ‘Miss Piggy’

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