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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

Recording Between Rudy Giuliani and Ukraine Official Reveals Outright ‘Quid Pro Quo’

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CNN has revealed the recording of the call between Rudy Giuliani and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky’s top aide where the former president’s lawyer pressured the country to investigate the conspiracy theories created around now-President Joe Biden.

The call from 2019 took place between U.S. diplomat Kurt Volker and Zelensky’s aid Andriy Yermak and happened ahead of then-President Donald Trump’s infamous “quid pro quo” where he demanded a “favor” for aid allocated to Ukraine.

“During the roughly 40-minute call, Giuliani repeatedly told Yermak that Zelensky should publicly announce investigations into possible corruption by Biden in Ukraine, and into claims that Ukraine meddled in the 2016 election to hurt Trump,” said the report, noting “these separate claims are both untrue.”

“All we need from the President [Zelensky] is to say, I’m gonna put an honest prosecutor in charge, he’s gonna investigate and dig up the evidence, that presently exists and is there any other evidence about involvement of the 2016 election, and then the Biden thing has to be run out,” Giuliani said on the call, according to the audio. “… Somebody in Ukraine’s gotta take that seriously.”

“I got information from a reliable investigator, international investigator, that there was a certain amount of activity in Ukraine during the 2016 election,” Giuliani told Yermak at one point, using another false claim that the U.S. embassy attempted to “produce dirt on then-candidate Trump and Paul Manafort.”

“Another one was involved with (George) Soros … Soros apparently is behind a lot of this,” Giuliani claimed of the liberal billionaire that the right-wing loves to create conspiracies about.

Giuliani then brought up the conspiracy theory that Biden wouldn’t give money to Ukraine if they didn’t fire a top prosecutor in the state that the international community believed was corrupt.

“To me, as a lawyer, it sounds like a bribe,” Giuliani said. “A bribe is offering something of value in exchange for official action. So, he offered Poroshenko a $1.2 billion loan guarantee, critical to Poroshenko’s success as president, in exchange for getting rid of a prosecutor general.”

CNN reported that Guiliani repeated over and over again how necessary the investigation was, even claiming the diplomatic relations would improve between the U.S. and Ukraine if the probe was launched, another example of a quid pro quo.

Giuliani and Volker both told the Ukraine official that such a public announcement would certainly ensure an approved visit to the U.S. for Zelensky, a third bribe.

“That would clear the air really well,” Giuliani said, in the recording. “And I think it would make it possible for me to come and make it possible, I think, for me to talk to the President (Trump) to see what I can do about making sure that whatever misunderstandings are put aside … I kinda think that this could be a good thing for having a much better relationship.”

Read the full report at CNN.com and hear a segment of the audio below:

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CORRUPTION

Matt Gaetz Begged Donald Trump for a ‘Blanket Pardon’ Before He Left Office: NYTimes

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Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) was among those who asked for a pardon from President Donald Trump before he left office, the New York Times reported.

While Gaetz spoke to Fox News saying that Trump should pardon anyone and everyone, now it has been revealed why he was so excited about that.

A pardon requires that one outline the crimes that they were guilty of. According to the Times, however, Gaetz wanted a preemptive pardon for himself and “unidentified congressional allies for any crimes they may have committed, according to two people told of the discussions.”

At the time that Gaetz was calling for the pardons, and asking for his own pardon, the Justice Department had started questioning Gaetz’s associates about whether he had a sexual relationship with an underage girl that also violated sex trafficking laws.

“It was unclear whether Mr. Gaetz or the White House knew at the time about the inquiry, or who else he sought pardons for. Mr. Gaetz did not tell White House aides that he was under investigation for potential sex trafficking violations when he made the request. But top White House lawyers and officials viewed the request for a pre-emptive pardon as a nonstarter that would set a bad precedent,” the Times said, quoting the people familiar said.

Aides told Trump about the request, but it’s unknown if Gaetz reached out to Trump personally.

 

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CORRUPTION

Controversial High-Level Trump Official Banned From Federal Employment for 4 Years After Hatch Violation: Report

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A highly-controversial now-former Trump political appointee who worked at the Dept. of Housing and Urban Development has been fined $1000 and is banned from federal employment for four years, the U.S. Office of Special Counsel announced Tuesday.

Lynne Patton, who was hired by the Trump administration into a high-level role at HUD after being the wedding planner for Eric Trump and working at the Eric Trump Foundation, admitted to violating the Hatch Act.

“As part of the agreement Patton admitted to violating the Hatch Act by using her official position to produce a video about housing conditions for the Republican National Convention,” an OSC statement (below) reads. “As a HUD employee Patton received permission in early 2019 to temporarily live in and observe living conditions in the New York City Housing Authority. During her approximately one month stay Patton met residents and later leveraged one of those relationships to recruit participants to film a video that would air at the the RNC. Patton wanted NYCHA residents to appear in the video to explain how their standard of living had improved under the Trump administration.”

A 2016 Associated Press article on the lack of minority senior executives “in Trump’s empire” described Patton as “Eric Trump’s longtime personal assistant.”

“After the AP questioned the campaign’s citation of her as a Trump Organization executive, her title on the Eric Trump Foundation’s website and her profile on the LinkedIn service was changed to ‘vice president of the Eric Trump Foundation.’ That position did not appear on the foundation’s most recent tax filing for 2014, which said Patton was one of 16 unpaid directors who devote approximately one hour per week to the charity.”

Tenants were outraged at being used in the RNC video, according to this local NYC news report:

 

Related: Calls Grow for Trump Official to Resign After Calling Reporter April Ryan ‘Miss Piggy’

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