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Busted: Four Congressmen Cashed in on the Half-Trillion-Dollar Loan Program They Helped Create

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According to a report from Politico, at least four members of Congress and their families cashed in on the multi-billion small business loan program set up to support companies hammered by the shut down during the still ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

As the report notes, they might not be the only ones.

According to the Politico report, “It’s a bipartisan group of lawmakers who have acknowledged close ties to companies that have received loans from the program — businesses that are either run by their families or employ their spouse as a senior executive.”

The report notes the four include two Democrats and two Republicans including Rep. Roger Williams (R-TX) who owns several auto dealerships, body shops and car washes, and Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-MO), “whose family owns multiple farms and equipment suppliers across the Midwest.”

The Democrats on the list include Rep. Susie Lee from Nevada, “whose husband is CEO of a regional casino developer, and Rep. Debbie Mucarsel Powell of Florida, whose husband is a senior executive at a restaurant chain that has since returned the loan.”

The report notes that there are likely more lawmakers who took advantage of the program, but because Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin is refusing to reveal recipients it may be a long time before others are exposed.

“Democrats have tried to pry free the list of recipients. But their push in the House to require disclosure of at least some companies was blocked on the floor late last month by Republicans — including Williams and Hartzler, who voted against the bill. Lee and Powell joined all Democrats in supporting it. All four lawmakers have previously voted in favor of the small-business program,” Politico reports.

According to Rep. Dean Phillips (D-MN) who wrote the bill, “This is the largest distributor of taxpayer money in human history, and we need to ensure taxpayers know where it’s going,” before adding, his bill “was not written to expose members of Congress, because frankly I expected members of Congress to be forthright and transparent to begin with.”

Politico goes on to report, “Spokespeople for Williams and Hartzler declined to say how much money was provided under the loans to the privately held companies lawmakers own. Full House Resorts, of which Lee’s husband is the president and CEO, received $5.6 million, according to Securities and Exchange Commission filings. Fiesta Restaurant Group, which employs Mucarsel Powell’s husband as a senior executive, received $15 million before returning it in full.”

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Chief Justice Refuses to Meet With Senate Judiciary Chairman Over Alito Scandal

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Chief Justice John Roberts, presiding over a court Democrats and government watchdogs say is riddled with corruption and ethics scandals, on Thursday once again refused to meet with the Senate Judiciary Committee chairman and a Democratic Senator who for more than a decade has been working to reform the nation’s highest court.

Last week, after bombshell reports revealed Justice Samuel Alito, a Bush-43 appointee, had two insurrection-linked flags flying at two of his homes, Judiciary Chairman Dick Durbin and U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) sent the chief justice a letter requesting a meeting to discuss their call for Justice Alito to recuse from cases involving the January 6, 2021 insurrection, the 2020 election, and any cases involving Donald Trump. They also asked to meet to discuss the ongoing ethics scandals plaguing the Roberts Court, and the need for congressionally-mandated reforms.

“By displaying the upside-down and ‘Appeal to Heaven’ flags outside his homes, Justice Alito actively engaged in political activity, failed to avoid the appearance of impropriety, and failed to act in a manner that promotes public confidence in the impartiality of the judiciary,” the two Senate Democrats wrote. “He also created reasonable doubt about his impartiality and his ability to fairly discharge his duties in cases related to the 2020 presidential election and January 6th attack on the Capitol. His recusal in these matters is both necessary and required.”

“Until the Court and the Judicial Conference take meaningful action to address this ongoing ethical crisis,” they warned, “we will continue our efforts to enact legislation to resolve this crisis.”

READ MORE: ‘Incompetently Bad’: Judge Cannon’s Latest Move ‘Approaching This Level of Stupid’

The Chief Justice cited the Court’s recently adopted code of ethics which some say merely codified existing behaviors without doing much to hold the Justices to the same standard every other judge who sits on the federal bench is required to observe.

“Members of the Supreme Court recently reaffirmed the practice we have followed for 235 years pursuant to which individual Justices decide recusal issues,” Chief Justice Roberts said in his letter to Durbin and Whitehouse.

Roberts insisted he was obligated to refuse to meet.

“I must respectfully decline your request for a meeting. As noted in my letter to Chairman Durbin last April, apart from ceremonial events, only on rare occasions in our Nation’s history has a sitting Chief Justice met with legislators, even in a public setting (such as a Committee hearing) with members of both major political parties present. Separation of powers concerns and the importance of preserving judicial independence counsel against such appearances.”

“Moreover,” he added, “the format proposed – a meeting with leaders of only one party who have expressed an interest in matters currently pending before the Court – simply underscores that participating in such a meeting would be inadvisable.”

The Nation’s justice correspondent Elie Mystal, pointing to the Roberts letter, remarked: “John Roberts, again, has already spoken about Alito’s ethical failures. And Roberts is IN FAVOR of the corruption, not against it.”

READ MORE: Alito’s Opinion in a 2022 Christian Flag Case Flies in the Face of His Recusal Refusal

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‘Incompetently Bad’: Judge Cannon’s Latest Move ‘Approaching This Level of Stupid’

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U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon’s latest move in Special Counsel Jack Smith’s Espionage Act prosecution of Donald Trump appears to have at least one legal expert throwing up his hands in disbelief.

Back in February, Trump’s legal team claimed Special Counsel Jack Smith’s appointment was unlawful, as is the method of funding his office and his investigations.

“Neither the Constitution nor Congress have created the office of the ‘Special Counsel,'” Trump’s attorneys wrote, CBS News had reported, “arguing the attorney general did not have the proper authority to name Smith to the job.”

“The authority he attempts to employ as Special Counsel far exceeds the power exercisable by a non-superior officer, the authority that Congress has not cloaked him with,” they claimed. There are decades of precedence of Attorneys General appointing special counsels, special prosecutors, or independent counsels – possibly the most well-known being Ken Starr who investigated then-President Bill Clinton.

READ MORE: Alito’s Opinion in a 2022 Christian Flag Case Flies in the Face of His Recusal Refusal

CBS News also noted that “Garland cited numerous laws and regulations that he and other attorneys general have said confer necessary authority onto the selected prosecutors.”

Issuing her latest edict, Judge Cannon, who likely has already delayed the trial until after the 2024 election, responded to the Trump legal team’s challenge of Smith’s appointment on Thursday.

“Judge Cannon is giving Trump’s legal team and the government 12 days to tell her how the SCOTUS decision upholding the CFPB’s funding/appointment impacts Trump’s claim that Jack Smith was unlawfully appointed and funded…,” reports Reuters’ Sarah N. Lynch, who covers the Justice Dept.

The CFPB is the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Earlier this month the Supreme Court ruled the methods by which it is funded are constitutional, overturning a lower court’s ruling.

READ MORE: ‘Doesn’t Know Most Basic Rule’: Conway Blasts Cannon Over ‘Perplexed’ Reaction

Constitutional law professor Anthony Michael Kreis, mocking Judge Cannon’s order, wrote:

“Jack Smith,

You have 12 days to tell me how what Martha-Ann Alito ate for lunch on May 30, 2024 affects your appointment as special counsel.

Xoxo,

Judge Cannon”

He added, “We’re approaching this level of stupid,” and concluded, “Judge Cannon is incompetently bad.”

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‘Giddily Bouncing Off the Walls’: Legal Experts Predict Trump Conviction

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With the jury dismissed for the day after more than four hours of deliberations and a series of notes to Judge Juan Merchan, legal experts are predicting Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg will win his case against Donald Trump, and see jurors convict the ex-president on 34 criminal counts. The ex-president is on trial for allegedly falsifying  business records as a means to cover-up a conspiracy scheme to promote his election to the Presidency by “unlawful means.”

“If I were in the DA’s office I’d be giddily bouncing off the walls right now,” attorney George Conway wrote on social media late Wednesday afternoon.

Minutes later attorney Tristan Snell, who helped secure the New York Attorney General’s $25 million settlement in the Trump University civil case, also predicted a likely Trump conviction:

“BREAKING: Trump jury asks for testimony transcripts, including 3 sections from David Pecker and 1 section from Michael Cohen. VERY bad sign for Trump that David Pecker’s testimony landed with the jury and is something they want to focus on. Jury is likely leaning toward GUILTY.”

READ MORE: ‘No Moral Compass’: Legal Experts Call for Intervention After Alito Refuses to Recuse

National security attorney Brad Moss, appearing on CNN Wednesday afternoon said, “I don’t expect a hung jury but if we get into Friday, or even next week Monday, it certainly would appear that would be more likely what’s going on. But if we have a decision tomorrow, my expectation is it will be a guilty verdict.”

Yale Law School professor of law and professor of philosophy Scott Shapiro offered this short statement:

If Donald Trump is convicted he may be the least surprised, as he appeared to predict a conviction Wednesday morning: “Mother Theresa could not beat these charges,” he told reporters.

The jury returns Thursday at 9:30 AM.

See the videos above or at this link.

READ MORE: ‘Biggest Felony in American History’: Prosecutor’s Closing Argument Against Trump Praised

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