Republican financier and operative Peter W. Smith, who raised $100,000 in the hope of obtaining Hillary Clinton’s emails from hackers, was in contact with President Trump’s disgraced and former national security adviser Gen. Mike Flynn, as far back as 2015.
Smith, who allegedly died by suicide last year, “told associates during the presidential campaign that he was using the retired general’s connections to help him on the email project,” The Wall Street Journal reports.
(New York Magazine raises the possibility that Smith was murdered, and that Mueller is investigating – “it is looking increasingly plausible that somebody in fact killed him.”)
The Journal also notes that a friend of Smith’s revealed that the now-deceased Republican operative “started a business relationship with Gen. Mike Flynn in November 2015. We spoke with him on the day he left for his trip to Moscow,” the friend said in an email.
Smith had called his plan to obtain the Clinton emails the “Clinton Email Reconnaissance Initiative.”
He had “claimed ties with the antisecrecy website WikiLeaks, and he solicited money to assist founder Julian Assange with legal support.”
Additionally, Smith “told supporters his team had come across ‘multiple individuals’ in possession of the Clinton emails in the fall of 2016. He also wrote that he directed one or more of those people to send the emails to WikiLeaks.”
It is unclear that Smith ever actually obtained any Clinton emails, but The Journal notes that “WikiLeaks, which never published any of the alleged material, was the main conduit for the dissemination of other embarrassing Democratic emails that U.S. investigators concluded were stolen by Russian hackers.”
And in a blow to right wing conspiracy theorists and the current American President, The Wall Street Journal reports: “No evidence has emerged that hackers ever obtained Mrs. Clinton’s emails, and the FBI didn’t find evidence that her personal server had been compromised.”
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Trump Could ‘Screw’ GOP With Self-Enriching Third Party Run: Conservative Author
Former President Donald Trump is able to “screw” his own party with an independent or third-party run should they reject him in 2024, wrote conservative author Jonathan Last for The Bulwark on Wednesday.
Trump is currently the only Republican who has formally declared his candidacy for president, although multiple others like New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu and former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley have expressed interest. Trump mainly appears focused on heading off a challenge from Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, attacking him as a “RINO globalist.”
“Sarah [Longwell] made a bunch of news this morning with her poll about Always Trumpers. I’m sure you’ve seen it. If not, the most interesting number is that 28 percent of Republican respondents said they’d vote for Trump over either an R or a D if he made a third-party run in 2024,” said the report. “Certain members of the Match Throwing Club . . . scoffed at this idea. Ross Douthat explains that, ‘Trump is unlikely to run third party and 28 percent of the GOP primary base isn’t actually going to vote for a spoiler if it’s DeSantis v. Biden.'”
This analysis, said Last, is just “wishcasting” — because Trump doesn’t actually need to pull 28 percent of the vote to spoil the election. Just a few points could do it, given how close the last two presidential elections ended up being.
It’s impossible to know for sure whether Trump would actually run third party if he lost the nomination, wrote Last — however, “I do know that if Trump were to lose the Republican nominating contest, he could bring in a lot of money by running a third-party campaign. And if the question is: ‘Trump could make a lot of money by doing X; will he do X?’ Well, then the answer is usually: Yes.”
Notably, polling doesn’t indicate that it’s likely Trump will lose the GOP nomination in the first place, with recent Morning Consult numbers suggesting he leads the pack by 17 points.
Image via Shutterstock
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.”
‘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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