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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

Trump Had to Be Blocked From Appointing Ivanka to Head Up the World Bank: Report

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According to a report from the Intercept’s Ryan Grim and Max Ufberg, former Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin was forced to intercede when Donald Trump proposed appointing his daughter Ivanka to head up the World Bank.

The report notes that when the opening came about in January of 2019, Trump saw it as an opportunity to promote his fashion designer daughter.

“As the White House moved to select its new leader, one name very dear to the Trump’s heart kept floating around: his daughter Ivanka Trump,” the reports states while noting that rumors of the appointment had floated about at the time, with Ivanka demurring and telling reporters she was “happy” advising her dad in the White House.

As the Intercept is now reporting, “…two sources, not authorized to speak publicly, tell The Intercept the talk of Ivanka at the helm went far beyond the realm of Beltway chatter: Trump very much wanted Ivanka as World Bank president, and it was Mnuchin who actually blocked her ascent to the leadership role.”

According to Grim and Ufberg, “Mnuchin often placed himself between the president and what the Treasury secretary saw as colossally counterproductive moves. His time as a Hollywood producer — making him a representative of the set whose approval Trump craved — gave him influence that others in the administration lacked.”

The report adds, noting that Ivanka did have a hand in selecting the man who did take the spot, former Under Secretary of the Treasury for International Affairs David Malpass.

You can read more here.

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CORRUPTION

‘Very Credible’ Allegations Against Matt Gaetz Were Divulged to Dilbert Cartoonist Before Becoming Public: Report

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Three days before news broke of a child sex-abuse investigation involving Florida Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz, Trump-loving Dilbert cartoonist Scott Adams and an employee of the Israeli consulate began a text-message exchange concerning the FBI probe.

In a bizarre, largely overlooked aspect of the ongoing Gaetz investigation and scandal, Adams and Jake Novak, broadcast media director of the Consulate General of Israel in New York, had apparently become friends on social media, Politico reported Thursday.

“Scoop I can’t report: Rep. Gaetz is the subject of a sex with minor…. I trust the source. Charges/accusations apparently ‘very credible’,” Novak wrote to Adams, adding “told ya” after news of the investigation broke, and decrying claims from Gaetz’s father alleging that he and his son had become victims of an “extortion” plot.

Adams responded by repeatedly casting doubt on the allegations against Gaetz and said “the extortion counterclaim sounds credible. Has witnesses apparently.”

Novak then suggested he was personally involved in an effort to get $25 million out of Gaetz’s father, Don Gaetz, to help free Bob Levinson, an American hostage in Iran whom most intelligence officials believe is dead.

“The backstory is this is screwing up my efforts to free Bob Levinson,” Novak wrote. “I’ve got a commando team leader friend of mine nervously waiting for wire transfers to clear.”

Novak later told Adams that “the real documents do not extort. And we only asked for $25 million as an estimate at first. We came way down.”

Last month, a federal grand jury indicted Stephen Alford on charges that he tried to defraud Gaetz’s father. Alford, a Florida developer, allegedly told Don Gaetz that in return for financing the Levinson rescue effort, he would use his influence to ensure the congressman “receives a presidential pardon, thus alleviating all his legal issues.”

“The allegation that a foreign official may be involved in a shakedown scheme of a U.S. congressman — a highly unusual development in its own right — could help provide a fuller picture of a scandal that has captivated the nation’s capital but where many pieces are still unknown,” Politico reported, adding that while the Israeli official’s apparent involvement “doesn’t speak to Gaetz’ guilt or innocence,” it is “concerning.”

Ronald E. Neumann, a career former ambassador and president of the American Academy of Diplomacy, told the site: “It’s certainly problematic, if it’s true. Anytime you have criminal or potential criminal behavior, and somebody who’s part of a foreign embassy or consulate, it’s a problem.”

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CORRUPTION

McCarthy’s Threat Over Jan. 6 Records ‘Meets the Elements’ of Obstruction of Justice: Legal Expert

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House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy violated ethics rules — and may have broken the law by obstructing justice — on Tuesday when he threatened telecommunications companies that comply with a Select Committee’s request to preserve records relevant to the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection, according to CNN legal analyst Norman Eisen.

McCarthy warned the companies — including Apple, AT&T and Verizon — that if the GOP takes back the House in 2022, “a Republican majority will not forget.” He also claimed that complying with the Select Committee’s request would somehow violate federal law. But Eisen, who served as special counsel to the House Judiciary Committee during former president Donald Trump’s first impeachment trial, said bluntly Wednesday that “there is no law.”

“This is the equivalent of the proverbial gangster, walking in to a business and saying, ‘Gee, nice telecomm company you have here. It would be a shame if anything happened to it,'” Eisen said of McCarthy’s threat. “It’s the exact opposite, it’s Orwellian. If these telecomm companies fail to comply with the requirement to preserve these records, if they did what Kevin McCarthy wants and refused to turn over the records, that would be a violation of law. So this is absolutely unjustified by law, and it raises serious questions under the House ethics rules and other laws for Kevin McCarthy himself.”

Asked whether McCarthy’s threat constitutes obstruction of justice, Eisen responded: “It meets the elements of obstruction. It’s a threat. It’s an attempt to stop them through that threat, from turning over documents. It’s self-motivated, it’s corrupt, and McCarthy is worried about what may be in those records on him, and on members of his caucus. It’s always a challenge when you have legislative activity — and note that he did this on his official Twitter account — you have protection under the Constitution for legislators, the speech and debate clause, there will be a debate about that.

“The House Ethics Rules .. prohibit any behavior that brings discredit on the House,” Eisen added. “What could be more discreditable than threatening companies that if they comply with the law, they’ll be punished, when McCarthy has the ability to do that? So I think there’s a serious ethics issue, and then legal issues potentially that need to be explored as well.”

Eisen added there is “no question” that McCarthy had a “personal motivation” in issuing the threat.

“We know that his behavior is going to be called into question, and the committee is going to probe his exchanges with the president,” Eisen said. “We know that members of his caucus, like Matt Gaetz, Mo Brooks, Marjorie Taylor Greene, are also in the crosshairs here, and possibly many others. And it’s not just Jan. 6. The committee correctly understands that President Trump’s pattern of incitement and that of his enablers went back for months in illegitimately attacking an unquestioned electoral result and whipping people into a frenzy. So there could be some very embarrassing revelations. Remember that many members of the Republican caucus, with no basis at all, voted against certifying the election results.”

 

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