DOJ Investigating Secretary of the Interior
The Dept. of Justice is investigating Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke for “possibly using his office for personal gain,” CNN has just reported.
The Inspector General of the Dept. of the Interior had referred one of its three ongoing probes into Secretary Zinke to the Dept. of Justice.
“A referral to the Justice Department means that prosecutors will explore whether a criminal investigation is warranted,” The Washington Post reports. “While an agency’s inspector general regularly issues reports on the findings of its inquiries, it only refers cases to the Justice Department when it has determined that there could be potential criminal violations.”
It is not known which, if not all, of the three investigations were referred to Justice.
Secretary Zinke has been under investigation, like several Trump appointees, for his extravagant, and expensive, taxpayer-funded travel habits.
“One of the most serious allegations under investigation,” however, the Post adds, “regards the secretary’s role in a Montana land development deal backed by David J. Lesar, chairman of the oil services firm Halliburton. The business and retail park, known as 95 Karrow, is slated to include several businesses and would be near multiple parcels of land owned by Zinke and his wife.”
The Post notes that “Halliburton’s operations are directly affected by many of Interior’s policies, including rules on how oil and gas drilling must be conducted, and which public lands and federal waters are open to energy exploration and development.”
Recently, a political appointee of HUD Secretary Ben Carson – who has little actual experience in oversight but had signed off on his $31,000 dining table – was announced as the replacement for the acting inspector general at the Interior Dept. Until the news media exposed the move and it was canceled.
Image by Gage Skidmore via Flickr and a CC license
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Matt Gaetz Paid Consulting Fee to Roger Stone’s Shady Tax Shelter as He Struggles to Contain Sex Trafficking Scandal
Newly released campaign documents for Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) show the scandal-plagued congressman has spent the last month in “full damage control mode,” reports the Daily Beast.
In particular, the documents show Gaetz has been spending heavily on direct mail and TV ad blitzes intended to contain the fallout of revelations that he’s being investigated by the FBI for potential involvement in sex trafficking.
The Florida Republican has been trying to shore up public support in his panhandle district by blanketing the airwaves with ads that urge constituents to “fight back” against “a multi-week fake news cycle” about the investigation into whether Gaetz paid for sex with multiple women, including one who was just 17 years old at the time.
The most curious Gaetz campaign expense, however, was a payment made to infamous right-wing operative and convicted felon Roger Stone.
“One expense in particular will raise eyebrows: A $5,000 ‘strategic political consulting’ fee to Drake Ventures, the company belonging to longtime GOP smear artist and Gaetz associate Roger Stone,” the publication writes. “On Friday, the DOJ sued Stone and his wife, Nydia, alleging that the couple owes millions in unpaid taxes and have used Drake Ventures to shelter more than $1 million.”
‘Mafia in Action’: Legal Experts Concerned by Giuliani and Son Walking Into White House During Impeachment Articles Vote
Legal experts are perplexed and expressing concern on the news Rudy Giuliani, who reportedly is under criminal investigation, walked into the White House just as the Judiciary Committee was passing Articles of Impeachment against President Donald Trump.
CNN’s Jim Sciutto and others posted this photo around 10:30 AM Friday morning:
Trump has been emboldened, not chastened, by impeachment. His personal attorney is at the WH right now after his trip to Ukraine to continue to dig up dirt on Joe Biden, the heart of this impeachment itself. And GOP is no longer lodging any protest. This is the reality for 2020. pic.twitter.com/Qhfs1CyJjD
— Jim Sciutto (@jimsciutto) December 13, 2019
Giuliani’s son Andrew, reportedly a failed pro golfer, works for the White House as Public Liaison Assistant to President Donald Trump. He makes $95,000 annually – more than twice as much as the Obama official who held that office previously – and is unofficially Trump’s “liaison to the sports community.”
Attorney Amee Vanderpool summed up the issue.
“So the man who has been creating false spin about Joe Biden creating favors and access for his son, just brought his own son to the Oval during Trump’s most critical time in office.”
Former SDNY Federal Prosecutor Mimi Rocah summed up the consternation many are feeling.
Mafia in action at the White House. This is just so surreal. https://t.co/FBizu10kLK
— Mimi Rocah (@Mimirocah1) December 13, 2019
CNN national security analyst and former Obama National Security Council advisor:
Ask yourself what kind of President opens the WH gates to a man under counterintelligence investigation?
Hope Rudy left his phone at home. Otherwise a lot of people are probably listening to his WH meetings. https://t.co/S6AbkHxr7K
— Sam Vinograd (@sam_vinograd) December 13, 2019
Former U.S. Attorney now a law professor and an MSNBC legal analyst:
I thought Trump would throw Rudy under the bus. I was wrong. What must that mean Rudy knows? https://t.co/fAX0vydxUn
— Joyce Alene (@JoyceWhiteVance) December 13, 2019
The Ukraine scheming continues as the House impeaches the president for Ukraine scheming. https://t.co/PNz4gjTnWQ
— Helen Kennedy (@HelenKennedy) December 13, 2019
Attorney and commentator:
There’s a year left until the 2020 election. Giuliani is continuing the complained of behavior at the WH. Mitch McConnell has openly stated that he is coordinating with the WH. The House wields some power over this now, but it seems to be in an irrational hurry to give it up. https://t.co/9Fq4jrKj9f
— southpaw (@nycsouthpaw) December 13, 2019
Former special assistant to the president who sat on President Barack Obama’s National Security Council:
This is why impeachment matters 👇 https://t.co/kNfJpwboFW
— Jeffrey Prescott (@jeffreyprescott) December 13, 2019
Internet Explodes as Trump Tweets He’s Reversing Brand New North Korea Sanctions – Because He ‘Likes’ Kim Jong-un
‘Mad King Foreign Policy’
President Donald Trump is literally conducting foreign policy via Twitter. Friday afternoon from Mar-a-Lago the President tweeted that he is reversing sanctions Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin imposed just 24 hours ago.
It was announced today by the U.S. Treasury that additional large scale Sanctions would be added to those already existing Sanctions on North Korea. I have today ordered the withdrawal of those additional Sanctions!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 22, 2019
The President did not accurately describe when they were placed into effect, as CNN’s Sarah Westwood reported:
Administration officials are confused about the meaning of President Trump’s sanctions tweet, per @kylieatwood. The Treasury Department penalized two Chinese companies yesterday for helping NK evade sanctions, but those were neither new sanctions, nor were they announced today.
— Sarah Westwood (@sarahcwestwood) March 22, 2019
The White House reportedly scrambled to support Trump’s unilateral decision, seemingly made without consultation with Treasury.
“President Trump likes Chairman Kim, and he doesn’t think these sanctions will be necessary,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said, according to The New York Times.
On social media, many – including experts – were stunned:
Richard Haass, the President of the Council on Foreign Relations, noted Trump usurped Secretary of State Mike Pompeo similarly this week:
in just 24 hours the secstate was surprised by Golan Heights tweet & now @realDonaldTrump has lifted new Treasury sanctions vs NK b/c he likes Chairman Kim. There is not even the pretense of a national security process. Hard to imagine what would occur if there were a real crisis
— Richard N. Haass (@RichardHaass) March 22, 2019
Former principal deputy assistant Secretary of Defense for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs weighed in with a simple but powerful three-letter statement:
— Kelly Magsamen (@kellymagsamen) March 22, 2019
Professor of international relations, political scientist, and CEO:
Quite apart from the chaos the NK reversal creates, the weakness it communicates to NK, the undermining of Mnuchin (and Bolton?), this kind of mad King foreign policy sends shockwaves through alliances and makes everyone think the US is run by an unfit leader. (We are.)
— David Rothkopf (@djrothkopf) March 22, 2019
A professor at American University who teaches intelligence and analysis mockingly referred to a top-level official at the National Security Council:
The NSC senior director for Korea is at a bar now, knocking back his 5th whiskey, thinking “I actually sought out this job.” https://t.co/Epei1cUBJ4
— Aki Peritz (@AkiPeritz) March 22, 2019
Democratic 2020 presidential candidate:
The United States of America no longer has a foreign policy. https://t.co/SnMkzYadG6
— Pete Buttigieg (@PeteButtigieg) March 22, 2019
Boston Globe columnist:
The president of the United States “likes” a sociopathic, totalitarian dictator https://t.co/9eEhQAcad4
— Michael Cohen (@speechboy71) March 22, 2019
National political reporter for NBC News:
Less than 24 hours ago, top National Security Council officials sat down reporters in the EEOB to walk through these #NorthKorea sanctions and how important they are
— Josh Lederman (@JoshNBCNews) March 22, 2019
New York Times DC correspondent:
The word “unprecedented” has been beaten into the ground, but this one really really is. Breathtaking move to undercut Mnuchin — and side with genocidal dictator of rogue nuclear state — while WH nervously awaits Mueller report, via @arappeport https://t.co/FhKC02surn
— Glenn Thrush (@GlennThrush) March 22, 2019
CNN’s Kaitlan Collins notes the sanctions are important for denuclearization:
Big. The sanctions were on Chinese shipping companies that the Trump administration said helped North Korea evade international sanctions. Treasury Secretary Mnuchin said the “full implementation” of those UN sanctions is “crucial” to the success of North Korea denuclearizing. https://t.co/RVLbxEXF2M
— Kaitlan Collins (@kaitlancollins) March 22, 2019
This is a breaking news and developing story. Details may change. This story will be updated, and NCRM will likely publish follow-up stories on this news. Stay tuned and refresh for updates.
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