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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

Leaked Kremlin Documents Reveal Putin Holds Blackmail Leverage Over Trump – and That’s Why Russia Backed Him

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A leaked document appears to confirm rumors that the Kremlin holds blackmail leverage over former president Donald Trump.

Russian president Vladimir Putin personally authorized a secret spy agency back “mentally unstable” Trump for U.S. president during a Jan. 22, 2016, closed session of that country’s national security council, according to what appears to be leaked Kremlin documents obtained by The Guardian.

“It is acutely necessary to use all possible force to facilitate his [Trump’s] election to the post of U.S. president,” the paper says.

The documents include a brief psychological assessment of Trump as “impulsive, mentally unstable and unbalanced individual who suffers from an inferiority complex,” and also refer to “certain events” that happened during his previous trips to Moscow.

More details about those events are listed in an appendix to that document, but that portion of the papers remains undisclosed.

Those present agreed that Trump in the White House would help Russia create “social turmoil” in the U.S. and weaken the American presidency, two of Moscow’s top strategic objectives.

A decree appearing to bear Putin’s signature authorized Russia’s three spy agencies to work toward getting Trump elected, as the former reality TV star and celebrity businessman was emerging as the Republican Party’s presidential frontrunner.

 

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CORRUPTION

Watch: Trump Says He Will Be Judged ‘Because of What We Did’

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Donald Trump, the former president, gave a lengthy interview to Bill O’Reilly, telling the former Fox News host, “I think in the end I will be judged not necessarily for controversy but because of what we did.”

O’Reilly had asked Trump, “How does it feel to be the most controversial president in history?”

Trump bristled at the question, refusing to agree to the accusation.

“I don’t think I’m the most controversial,” he insisted, unable to offer a name for which president was more controversial than he.

“I don’t know, but I don’t think I’m – look I did a good job. I did, I think a great job,” he claimed, despite leaving office with a 34% approval rating, 400,000 Americans on January 20 dead from a pandemic he refused to control, and unemployment far higher than when he took office.

Instead, Trump touted his “biggest tax cuts in history,” which is a false.

“If I didn’t come up with a vaccine,” Trump claimed, taking total credit for the coronavirus vaccine (there are 3 currently approved by the FDA under an emergency use authorization), despite one of the three having been developed without any government assistance.

“Somebody said the other day,” Trump claimed they were a historian, “they don’t know of any president that’s done more,” he claimed, not naming the historian or saying what he did was constructive or destructive.

“I think in the end I will be judged not necessarily for controversy but because of what we did.”

“They’ll know what you did,” O’Reilly said.

Trump’s family business and its CFO are currently facing a  “15-count indictment alleging criminal tax fraud, conspiracy and falsifying business records,” which he denounces, along with the Manhattan DA prosecuting the case, earlier in the clip.

Watch (relevant segment starts at 3:13):

 

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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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