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CORRUPTION

Lev Parnas Says Devin Nunes Was ‘Involved in Getting All This Stuff on Biden’

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Rep. Devin Nunes was one of the many people Lev Parnas said was linked to President Donald Trump’s Ukraine scandal.

“We don’t have too much of a relationship,” Parnas said of Nunes. “We met several times at the Trump Hotel, but our relationship started getting — basically where it expanded was when I was introduced to his aide, Derek Harvey, and the reason why Derek Harvey I was told because Devin Nunes had an ethics — something to do with the Ethics Committee, he couldn’t be in the spotlight. He was kind of shunned a little bit and that he was looking into this Ukraine stuff also, wanted to help out. And they gave me Derek Harvey to deal with.”

MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow asked if Parnas then briefed Harvey on what was going on in Ukraine, but Parnas said that Harvey “knew about it already.”

Maddow asked if Parnas got the idea that Rudy Giuliani had briefed Nunes, but Parnas said he didn’t think so, because there was a group of people working on opposition research for the campaigns.

Parnas described one of the more shocking moments for him came when he saw Nunes and Harvey sitting in the room for the Intelligence Committee hearing that preceded the impeachment trial.

Related: Parnas: AG Bill Barr Was ‘Basically on the Team’ to Extort Ukraine

“I was in shock when I was watching the hearings and when I saw Devin Nunes sitting up there, and then there was a picture where Harvey was in the back sitting. I texted my attorney ‘I can’t believe this is happening,’” he said.

Maddow asked why he was so shocked.

“Because they were involved in getting all this stuff on Biden,” Parnas said.

He went on to say that he set up “several Skype interviews” with people for Harvey including a key anti-corruption prosecutor in Ukraine as well as Konstantin Kulik, deputy head of the Department of International Legal Cooperation of the General Prosecutor’s Office in Ukraine.

Kulik is “one of the major guys who had this whole Biden stuff.”

“So, it’s hard to see them lie like that when you know it’s like that,” Parnas said. “It’s scary because you know, he was sitting there and making all these statements and all that when he knew very well that he knew what was going on. He knew what’s happening. He knows who I am.”

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CORRUPTION

Sen. Hawley Claims ‘Election Integrity’ Issues: ‘I Cannot Vote to Certify’ Electoral College Results

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Republican Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) announced Wednesday that he would object next week when Congress convenes to certify the electoral college vote in opposition to President Donald J. Trump and in favor of his replacement – President-elect Joe Biden.

It is an action that could spark a contentious floor debate while delaying the inevitable.

“At the very least, Congress should investigate allegations of voter fraud and adopt measures to secure the integrity of our elections. But Congress has so far failed to act,” Hawley said in a statement Wednesday.

Hawley said he was concerned that some states “failed to follow their own election laws” and that “I cannot vote to certify without pointing out the unprecedented effort of mega corporations, including Facebook and Twitter, to interfere in this election, in support of Joe Biden.”

Pro-Trump Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) welcomed Hawley and then tweeted, “I’m not going back to yesterday’s Republican Party. THIS IS DONALD TRUMP’S PARTY.”

Biden spokeswoman Jen Psaki responded to Hawley’s claims saying, “the American people spoke resoundingly in this election” and that the role of Congress is “merely a formality. It certainly should be treated as such.”

Psaki added, “Regardless of whatever antics anyone is up to on January 6, President-elect Biden will be sworn in on the 20th.”

Trump and his loyalists have so far not agreed on the presidential election results that proclaimed President-elect Joe Biden the 2020 contest winner.

On Sunday, the 74-year-old president tweeted, “See you in Washington, DC, on January 6th. Don’t miss it.”

He repeated the same sentiment days later on Dec. 30.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), though, has broken rank with the current administration on acknowledging Biden’s presidential victory.

“Any member of the House, joined by a member of the Senate, can contest the electoral votes on Jan. 6. The challenge prompts a floor debate followed by a vote in each chamber,” The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday. “Trump will inevitably lose that vote, given that Democrats control the House and a number of Senate Republicans have publicly recognized Biden’s victory, including Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT), who has called Trump’s refusal to accept the election dangerous.”

If Trump’s temper tantrum ultimately prevailed in the Senate where Vice President Pence would be in position to cast a tie-breaking vote, the Democratic-controlled House would halt any further action benefiting the current administration and thus hand another victory to Biden.

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CORRUPTION

Trump Signals for Pence to Hand Him the Presidency and Overrule Electoral College

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Mike Pence at CPAC 2018

President Donald Trump has sent strong signals that he expects Vice President Mike Pence to hand him re-election when Congress meets Jan. 6 to count Electoral College votes.

The vice president will preside over that joint session, and Trump and some of his Republican congressional allies are leaning heavily on Pence to change the outcome of the Nov. 3 election won by Democrat Joe Biden, but legal experts Neal Katyal and John Monsky wrote a New York Times column explaining that his authority in that process is fairly limited.

“Nothing in either the text of the Constitution or the Electoral Count Act gives the vice president any substantive powers,” the pair wrote. “His powers are ministerial, and that circumscribed role makes general sense: The whole point of an election is to let the people decide who will rule them. If an incumbent could simply maneuver to keep himself in office — after all, a maneuver to protect Mr. Trump also protects Mr. Pence — the most foundational precept of our government would be gravely undermined. In America, ‘we the people,’ not ‘we, the vice president,’ control our destiny.”

Both Article II of the Constitution and the 12th Amendment say that the votes of the Electoral College are to be opened by the “president of the Senate,” meaning the vice president. The Electoral Count Act, passed in 1887 to avoid chaotic counts like the one that followed the 1876 election, adds important details. It provides a detailed timeline to tabulate electoral votes, culminating with the final count to take place on Jan. 6, and it delineates the powers of the vice president.

“They guarded against any pretense he might have to throw out a particular state’s votes, saying that the vice president must open ‘all certificates and papers purporting to be‘ electoral votes,” Katyal and Monsky wrote. “They further said, in the event of a dispute, both chambers of Congress would have to disagree with a particular state’s slate of electoral votes to reject them. And they made it difficult for Congress to disagree, adding measures such as a ‘safe harbor’ provision and deference to certification by state officials.”

All of the president’s legal challenges have lost, and the results have been certified by the states and electors have duly cast their ballots, so there’s nothing Trump or Pence can do to stop their re-election loss under the rules spelled out in the Constitution and the Electoral Count Act.

“[Pence] now stands on the edge of history as he begins his most consequential act of leadership,” Katyal and Monsky wrote. “The question for Vice President Pence, as well as other members of Congress, is which side of history he wants to come down on. Can he show the integrity demonstrated by every previous presidential administration? The American people accept a graceful loser, but a sore loser never goes down well in the history books.”

“Like all those that have come before him, [Pence] should count the votes as they have been certified and do everything he can to oppose those who would do otherwise,” they added. “This is no time for anyone to be a bystander — our Republic is on the line.”

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CORRUPTION

Stone and Manafort Pardons: Trump ‘Could Be Prosecuted for Bribery’

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President Donald Trump’s pardons of cronies Roger Stone and Paul Manafort could cost him much more than just bad publicity.

Appearing on CNN Thursday, New York University School of Law professor Ryan Goodman outlined how Trump’s pardons could open him up to criminal prosecution for his obstruction of former special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2020 presidential election.

In particular, Goodman outlined how Mueller’s final report outlined an obstruction case based around communications between the president’s lawyers and Manafort indicating that the president would pardon his former campaign chairman if he refused to cooperate with the special counsel’s probe.

“The Mueller report specifically says that Manafort told his deputy, Rick Gates, that Manafort had spoken with Trump’s personal attorney, and it would be stupid to plea and they should sit tight, because, quote, ‘We’ll be taken care of,'” Goodman explained. “The Mueller team concludes that this met all of the elements and did succeed in Manafort failing to cooperate and maintaining his silence.”

Goodman also explained that while the Constitution gives the president broad powers to pardon people, he could still be prosecuted for it if that pardon was used as a reward for obstructing justice.

“If a pardon is part of a crime, then most experts would agree that, in fact, the president could be criminally prosecuted for it,” he said. “Just imagine a president exchanged a pardon for a bribe. Well, most experts agree that the president could then be prosecuted for bribery.”

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