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Trump Pushed Hard for Company Owned by GOP Donor to Get $400 Million Contract – It Just Did Despite Not Meeting Standards

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For months President Donald Trump has “personally and repeatedly urged the head of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers” to award a lucrative Defense Dept. contract to build a portion of his wall on the Southern border to a construction company owned by a GOP donor. On Monday, despite reports that the North Dakota company, Fisher Sand and Gravel, did not meet Defense Dept. standards and has a history of tax and environmental violations, the DoD awarded Fisher the $400 million contract, The Washington Post reports.

Trump reportedly has been so active in pushing for Fisher to be awarded the contract that at one point on Fox News the president told Sean Hannity his administration was dealing with the company’s owner, and declared the company had been “recommended strongly by a great new senator, Kevin Cramer.”

That Senator, Republican Kevin Cramer of North Dakota, has also been pushing for Fisher Sand and Gravel to get the contract despite its owner, Tommy Fisher, being a donor to Senator Cramer, The Independent reports.

President Trump has seen Tommy Fisher advocate for the contract in his multiple appearances on Fox News, the president’s favorite cable news channel.

“In phone calls, White House meetings and conversations aboard Air Force One during the past several months, Trump has aggressively pushed Dickinson, N.D.-based Fisher Industries to Department of Homeland Security leaders and Lt. Gen. Todd Semonite, the commanding general of the Army Corps,” The Washington Post reported in May. “The push for a specific company has alarmed military commanders and DHS officials.”

Tommy Fisher has ties to former White House adviser Stephen K. Bannon, Blackwater USA founder Erik Prince, ex-GOP congressman Tom Tancredo and former Kansas GOP secretary of state Kris Kobach. Bannon and Kobach have worked for Trump, Prince is the brother of Eduction Secretary betsy DeVos.

In an August report on Trump’s “brazen” corruption The Nation described the four men as “an all-star cast of grifters and white nationalists.”

“Tommy Fisher and his wife gave more than $10,000 — the maximum allowable contribution — to Cramer in 2018 as he ran for Senate, campaign finance records show. Fisher was Cramer’s guest at Trump’s State of the Union speech in February that year, and the CEO said he shook the president’s hand afterward,” The Washington Post notes, adding that “Trump backed Cramer last year in his campaign to unseat Democrat Heidi Heitkamp.”

A 2017 report from NBC affiliate 12 News (video below) states the city of Phoenix “filed 467 criminal charges” against Fisher Sand and Gravel, along with “2000 city and county violations.”

Meanwhile, the Post also reports that President Trump “has been enamored with Tommy Fisher,” after seeing him on Fox News.

In May The Washington Post created this compilation of some of Fisher’s appearances on Fox News:

 

 

 

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CORRUPTION

Barr Blasted for Wrongly Suggesting Obama and Biden Abused Their Power, Had ‘Level of Involvement’ in Russia Probe

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Attorney General Bill Barr is under fire for wrongly suggesting former President Barack Obama and former Vice President Joe Biden abused their power and had some “level of involvement” in the FBI’s investigation of now-President Donald Trump.

On Monday Barr announced that he does not “expect” the federal prosecutor he appointed to lead that investigation “will lead to a criminal prosecution of either man.”

But Barr also suggested both men had engaged in an abuse of power, without offering any proof, in what some see as a clear attempt to disparage them.

“We have to bear in mind what the Supreme Court recently reminded us of in the ‘Bridgegate’ case. As the court said there, there’s a difference between an abuse of power and a federal crime. Not every abuse of power, no matter how outrageous, is necessarily a federal crime,” Barr declared.

“Now, as to President Obama and Vice President Biden – whatever their level of involvement – based on the information I have today, I don’t expect Mr. Durham’s work will lead to a criminal investigation of either man.”

Barr is known to choose his words very carefully, to paint the picture he wants Americans to see. A federal judge has already chastised him for his four-page Mueller investigation letter, calling it “distorted” and “misleading.”

And by declaring there won’t be a “criminal investigation,” he gets the words “criminal” and “investigation” or “prosecution” tied to both Democrats in the press.

His remarks immediately led to headlines like these:

“Barr says he does not expect criminal investigation of Obama or Biden as result of Durham probe”

“Barr Says Probe Won’t Likely Lead to Prosecution of Obama, Biden”

“Barr Says He Doesn’t Expect Criminal Probe Into Obama or Biden”

On social media many saw through Barr’s tactics:

 

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CORRUPTION

‘Good to Be a Criminal Who Is Friends With the President’: Manafort Early Prison Release Draws Outrage – ‘Doesn’t Qualify’

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“Released to home confinement amid growing outbreak of white privilege”

The Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) on Wednesday released convicted felon Paul Manafort to home confinement, citing concerns over the coronavirus pandemic. But many online quickly expressed outrage upon learning the President’s former campaign chairman who has ties to Russia is housed in a prison that has no coronavirus cases.

Under Attorney General Bill Barr federal prisons have slowly been releasing prisoners from jail to reduce the spread of coronavirus, but certain conditions must be met. Prisoners have to have served at least half their sentence, or served at least one-quarter of their sentence and have less than 18 months remaining.

Manafort meets none of those requirements.

“Manafort, 71, has been serving out his more than seven-year sentence for charges related to special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation in a federal correctional institution in central Pennsylvania,” ABC News reports. “He was found guilty of tax fraud and conspiracy and was sentenced by a federal judge in March 2019. He was slated to be released from prison November 4, 2024. The charges stemmed from his work related to Ukraine between 2006 and 2015.”

Former federal prosecutor Joyce Vance, now an MSNBC contributor and a University of Alabama law professor, says Manafort simply doesn’t qualify.

“This raises real fairness concerns. Manafort doesn’t qualify for compassionate release,” Vance says on Twitter. “Did he get special treatment ahead of others who do? People in facilities with outbreaks or closer to the end of their sentence? Did Trump’s friend get preferential treatment under the guise of appropriate releases to protect BOP inmates?

She notes that former Trump “fixer” Michael Cohen, “much closer to the end of his sentence, was denied release after news he would be was made public.”

Some are suggesting Manafort’s release proves Trump intervened in keeping Cohen in jail.

Last year CNN reported “Special counsel Robert Mueller believes that Paul Manafort was sharing polling data and discussing Russian-Ukrainian policy with his close Russian-intelligence-linked associate, Konstantin Kilimnik, while he led the Trump presidential campaign, according to parts of a court filing that were meant to be redacted by Manafort’s legal team Tuesday but were released publicly.”

Outrage over what many see as unwarranted preferential treatment was widespread.

Some, perhaps mockingly, wondered if Manafort might get his old job back, working for the Trump campaign, given the President is reportedly considering re-hiring his former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski.

Here’s what some others are saying:

 

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CORRUPTION

Nearly 2000 Former DOJ Officials Sign Letter Calling on Barr to Resign Over His ‘Assaults on the Rule of Law’

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Call for Resignation and Censure

Nearly 2000 former Dept. of Justice officials have signed on to a letter calling on Attorney General Bill Barr to resign over his “political interference” in the Mike Flynn case, as ABC News reports. The DOJ dropped the charges against President Trump’s former National Security Advisor, who had already pleaded guilty twice to lying to the FBI. He was also accused of acting as a paid, unregistered foreign agent to Turkey while serving on the Trump transition team.

“We continue to believe that it would be best for the integrity of the Justice Department and for our democracy for Attorney General Barr to step aside,” the letter reads. “In the meantime, we call on Congress to hold the Attorney General accountable.”

The former officials also are urging the House Judiciary Committee to “demand that [Barr] answer for his abuses of power. We also call upon Congress to formally censure Attorney General Barr for his repeated assaults on the rule of law in doing the President’s personal bidding rather than acting in the public interest. Our democracy depends on a Department of Justice that acts as an independent arbiter of equal justice, not as an arm of the president’s political apparatus.”

In the Flynn case the officials say “Attorney General Barr has once again assaulted the rule of law,” and urge the judge to  deny the DOJ’s request to drop the charges.

“Attorney General Barr’s repeated actions to use the Department as a tool to further President Trump’s personal and political interests have undermined any claim to the deference that courts usually apply to the Department’s decisions about whether or not to prosecute a case.”

The list, currently at 1956 names and growing, includes former U.S. Attorneys and trial attorneys, the Chief of the Criminal Division at SDNY, Inspector Generals, Section Chiefs, and Special Counsels, and others.

 

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