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House Democrats Working to Get Testimony From Four Stone Prosecutors Who Quit After Barr Reduced Prison Recommendation

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“Time is of the essence,” says a senior aide, worried that Barr could “set the narrative” – which he has a long record of doing.

House Democrats are working to have the four federal prosecutors who quit the Roger Stone case, apparently in protest of Attorney General Bill Barr‘s intervention, testify before Congress. The DOJ under Barr’s direction reduced the amount of prison time prosecutors had requested after an angry tweet from President Donald Trump, sparking nationwide outrage that the president is using the Justice Dept. to protect his friends.

Earlier:‘Plausible Deniability’: Experts Warn on Barr’s ‘Carefully Staged PR Pushback’ After He Claims ‘I Cannot Do My Job Here’

“Numerous House Democrats are now advocating for the House to solicit testimony from the four prosecutors involved in the initial recommendation for Stone, aides tell me,” The Washington Post’s Greg Sargent says. “Two senior Democratic aides told me many House members want to see these hearings well in advance of Barr’s planned testimony to the Judiciary Committee on March 31.”

“Time is of the essence, since this scandal gets worse by the hour,” one senior aide to a member of Judiciary told me, adding that hearing from the four prosecutors could help create “a record of what happened before Barr gets to set the narrative.”

Another senior House aide told me there’s a “pretty widespread sentiment” among members that the four prosecutors must be heard from, “to get the full story of what’s happening under Barr’s tenure.”

Sargent adds that House Democrats might start to make public their desire to have the four prosecutors testify about what happened in the Stone case. It’s unclear where Speaker Nancy Pelosi stands on this, but she has been clear that the “prosecutors should be commended” and the “DOJ should be investigated.”

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CORRUPTION CORRUPTION CORRUPTION

‘A Political Coup’: Legal Experts Warn of Politicization as Barr Bypasses DC Prosecutors, Installs Hand-Picked Attorney

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Just before noon on Monday Attorney General Bill Barr told reporters, “As long as I’m attorney general, the criminal justice system will not be used for partisan political ends.”

Less than an hour later The Washington Post published a report detailing that Barr was installing an attorney to oversee career federal prosecutors in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for D.C.

“The arrival of Associate Deputy Attorney General Michael R. Sherwin — who won the conviction of a Chinese trespasser at President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club in Florida in September — has triggered new accusations that Justice Department leaders are bypassing career prosecutors in the office and intervening in cases favoring the president’s allies, current and former federal prosecutors in the office said,” The Washington Post reported.

“This represents a politicization of the U.S. attorney’s office of the District of Columbia that is remarkable, and unique, and unprecedented,” said Stuart M. Gerson, a Republican and former Barr aide who served as acting attorney general briefly under presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton. “It’s a political coup, there really can be no question about it.”

Barr’s interference “seriously undermines the U.S. attorney’s office in D.C.’s … long-standing reputation for independence from political influence,” says Charles R. Work, a former federal prosecutor in that office, who was a Republican Justice Department political appointee and president of the D.C. Bar.

They are far from the only ones.

On social media legal experts quickly responded to the news.

 

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‘Black Day in DOJ History’: Legal Experts Blast ‘Corrupt’ Barr’s ‘Dangerous’ ‘Shadow Pardon’ for Flynn

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Legal experts from across the spectrum are responding to the stunning news that Attorney General Bill Barr has dropped all charges against former Trump National Security Advisor Mike Flynn.

Flynn had long ago pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russia and what he told Vice President Mike Pence. He also acted as a paid, unregistered foreign agent for Turkey while serving on the Trump campaign and on the Trump transition team. Flynn infamously was texting his business partners while standing on the dais as just-sworn in President Donald Trump was delivering his inaugural address, allegedly texting a business partner “to say that a joint plan between Russia and Flynn’s business allies to build nuclear power plants in the Middle East was ‘good to go.'”

But now Barr has sent shock waves through the legal community, some say abusing his power while delivering what amounts to a pardon for Trump’s favorite former official.

Ken White, who runs the well-respected (although currently on hiatus) legal blog Popehat, conveys the gravity and enormity of what Barr just did:

Attorney and former FBI Special Agent Asha Rangappa explains why Barr did what he did:

Sam Vinograd, former National Security Council member, former Senior Advisor to the National Security Advisor sums it up:

Former DOJ Inspector General, former Assistant U.S. Attorney at SDNY:

David Corn, MSNBC analyst and D.C. bureau chief of Mother Jones rightly says Barr just issued a “shadow pardon.”

Constitutional law expert and professor Laurence Tribe:

LA Times Legal Affairs Columnist, Former US Attorney:

Former Director, White House Office of Government Ethics:

Former federal prosecutor:

Former National Security Council and former CIA official:

Former Senior Director, National Security Council:

Finally, Andrew McCabe issued a strong statement:

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Trump Appointees at Consumer Protection Agency Manipulated Data to Benefit Trump-Donating Payday Lenders Says Ex-Staffer

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Trump appointees at federal consumer watchdog agency manipulated data to benefit the very rich and powerful payday lending industry, a former staffer who worked at the agency for seven years as an economist says. Payday lending is a $40 – $90 billion industry that has donated heavily to Donald Trump. Multiple reports detail the millions of dollars the industry has showered on President Trump and the GOP.

“Last summer, on his final day of work at the nation’s consumer finance watchdog agency, a career economist sent colleagues a blunt memoThe New York Times reports. “He claimed that President Trump’s appointees at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau had manipulated the agency’s research process to justify altering a 2017 rule that would have sharply curtailed high-interest payday loans.”

In his 14-page memo the economist, Jonathan Lanning, accused Trump loyalists installed in the agency of engaging in maneuvers, The Times says, “that he considered legally risky and scientifically indefensible, including pressuring staff economists to water down their findings on payday loans and use statistical gimmicks to downplay the harm consumers would suffer if the payday restrictions were repealed.”

The Times notes Trump’s efforts “to dismantle the payday regulation began with the arrival of Mick Mulvaney, the Trump administration budget chief, who was appointed the C.F.P.B.’s acting director in late 2017. Among his priorities was to delay, and eventually undo, the Obama-era payday lending restrictions, which were scheduled to take effect in summer 2019, according to two former senior bureau officials who discussed the issue with him.”

A 2018 International Business Times article, “Trump And Lawmakers Got Cash From Payday Lenders, Then Weakened Lending Rules,” explained what some might say sounds like a quid pro quo process.

“Less than two months after President Donald Trump tapped his budget director to run the independent federal agency tasked with protecting U.S. consumers from harmful and predatory financial practices, the agency has moved to undo a rule intended to prevent payday lenders from preying on low-income Americans,” IBT reported.

Since 2015, “payday lenders have given $1.5 million to congressional lawmakers and another $300,000 to the Republican National Committee and the National Republican Congressional Committee. The industry also spent another $6.2 million on politics at the state level to combat regulation over the same time period,” IBT added.

“The industry’s shrewdest investment may have been the money it delivered to Trump after he won the 2016 election. While payday lenders weren’t lining up to support Trump during the presidential election, in January after Trump’s win, Advance America, the nation’s biggest payday lender, donated $250,000 to Trump’s inauguration. Title loan magnate Rod Aycox and his wife each donated $500,000 for the event; payday lender Checks into Cash chipped in another $25,000. In November, the Community Financial Services Association of America, the industry’s trade group, announced its annual conference and expo would be held at the Trump National Doral resort in Miami.”

An in a damning observation, IBT added: “As that money flowed to Trump and his business empire, the Trump administration has made moves to help the industry — in particular, it took decisive action to undermine the CFPB’s previous efforts to regulate lenders.”

The New York Times notes, “This week, the agency is expected to release the revised payday rule, which will no longer require lenders to assess whether customers can afford their fees before offering a loan.”

Read the full New York Times article here.

 

 

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