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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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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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CORRUPTION

Former US Attorney Reveals He Resigned Rather Than Be Fired for Not Supporting Trump Voter Fraud Lies

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The former U.S. Attorney in Atlanta revealed Wednesday he resigned just two weeks before President Donald Trump would leave office, because top DOJ officials told him Trump would fire him for refusing to say he had found widespread voter fraud in Georgia.

Byung Pak had been the U.S. Attorney since mid 2017, and his surprising resignation on January 4 raised eyebrows, and has since initiated a DOJ inspector general investigation into the cause of his sudden departure.

“Mr. Pak, who provided more than three hours of closed-door testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee,” The New York Times reported Wednesday afternoon, “testified that top department officials had made clear that Mr. Trump intended to fire him over his refusal to say that the results in Georgia had been undermined by voter fraud, the person said. Resigning would pre-empt a public dismissal.”

UPDATE –
‘Mounting Evidence of Trump’s Criminal Intent’: Experts Say Latest Scandal Leaves DOJ ‘No Choice’ but to Indict

The Times adds that Pak “also described work done by state officials and the F.B.I. to vet Mr. Trump’s claims of voter fraud, and said they had not found evidence to support those allegations.”

This is a breaking news and developing story. 

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