New Details Revealed in Florida Republican’s Plot to Disrupt the 2020 Election
New details have been released in the investigation of former Florida State Sen Frank Artiles (R) over his involvement in running “scam” campaigns in an attempt to disrupt the 2020 election.
With his trial expected to begin August 30, prosecutors are firming up their case against the former GOP lawmaker in a political corruption case the Tampa Bay Times reports, “has roped in prominent players across Florida over the last several months, including a GOP-linked research firm in Gainesville, a top not-for-profit Miami hospital network and a veteran Republican operative who leads a Tallahassee-based political organization.”
According to the Miami Herald, new revelations show that Florida political operative Alex Alvarado — linked to Artiles — was funneling money to sham campaign officials in an effort to disrupt key 2020 state Senate elections.
The report notes that “documents released late Friday, provide new details into the breadth of the criminal investigation into Artiles and his longtime acquaintance, Alexis Pedro Rodriguez.”
“Prosecutors say Rodriguez was recruited by Artiles and paid some $44,000 to change his party affiliation from Republican to no party to qualify on the ballot and attempt to sway the outcome of the Miami-Dade Senate District 37 election. GOP candidate Illeana Garcia won the race by 32 votes. Rodriguez, who shared the same surname as the Democratic incumbent, received more than 6,000 votes,” the Herald reports. “Between June 15 and November 15, 2020, Artiles was under contract to work for veteran Republican political operative Pat Bainter for $15,000 a month, court documents show. Bainter paid Artiles $90,000 and reimbursed him for his travel, a courier service and $4,000 for ‘research,’ according to those documents.”
As part of the scam, one woman who was pregnant and desperate for money agreed to take $1,500 to chair a political committee with no plans to have her do any work.
In testimony 25-year-old Hailey DeFilippis, explained to investigators she was listed as the chair of “The Truth, a dark-money-funded political committee that spent $180,000 on political mail advertisements promoting sham candidates in key 2020 state Senate elections — two in Miami-Dade and one in Central Florida.”
She was later paid $2,500 more for the “inconvenience” after reporters called up asking about the group.
“Artiles signed a contract with Bainter on June 9, 2020. The next day, Rodriguez met Artiles at Artiles’ Palmetto Bay residence to fill out campaign forms, according to investigators who noted in an arrest affidavit that Rodriguez had ‘no prior knowledge as to what forms needed to be completed to qualify as a candidate for elected office and relied on Artiles’ instructions.,'” the report adds. “Neither Bainter nor Gardner have responded to phone calls or emails seeking comment since the Herald learned they were served subpoenas. The powerful GOP-linked research firm, based in Gainesville, also served as a general consultant for Republican Senate campaigns during the 2020 election cycle.”
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‘Likely to Be Indicted Soon’: Trump Might Face Seven Different Felonies, Government Watchdog Says
It’s no secret the U.S. Dept. of Justice is investigating Donald Trump for his role in attempting to overturn the 2020 presidential election, and for his likely unlawful removal, retention, and refusal to return hundreds of documents with classified and top secret markings.
Earlier this week Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal reported, “Special counsel Jack Smith has all but finished obtaining testimony and other evidence in his criminal investigation into whether former President Donald Trump mishandled classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago resort.”
And while it’s unknown if or when Trump will be indicted, a government watchdog says the ex-president who is once again staging a White House run is “likely to be indicted soon.” The organization is offering details on what it claims could be seven felony charges he might face.
“The next criminal charges former President Donald Trump may face could well come from Special Counsel Jack Smith’s investigation into Trump’s possession of nearly 300 classified documents — including some marked as top secret — at his Mar-a-Lago residence and business in the year and a half after he left office,” Betsy Schick and Debra Perlin of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) state in a lengthy report published Friday.
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“While Fani Willis’ Fulton County, Georgia investigation into election interference continues, as does a federal investigation into efforts to overturn the 2020 election, and Alvin Bragg has already indicted Trump in New York for his role in false statements connected to hush money payments to Karen McDougal and Stephanie Clifford (aka Stormy Daniels) during the 2016 presidential campaign, an indictment by Smith in the Mar-a-Lago investigation would yield the first federal charges against the former president,” CREW notes.
“Trump may face charges ranging from obstruction of justice and criminal contempt to conversion of government property and unauthorized removal and retention of classified documents or material.”
Here is a list of “possible crimes” Trump might be charged with, according to CREW:
Obstruction of justice (18 U.S.C. § 1519)
Criminal contempt (18 U.S.C. § 402)
False statements to federal authorities (18 U.S.C. § 1001)
Conversion of government property (18 U.S.C. § 641)
Unauthorized removal and retention of classified documents or material (18 U.S.C. § 1924)
Removing and concealing government records (18 U.S.C. § 2071)
Gathering national defense information (18 U.S.C. § 793(e))
READ MORE: Republican Complaining It’s ‘Almost Impossible’ for Straight ‘White Guys’ to Get Appointed by Biden Has History of Bigotry
CREW also offers that Trump’s attorneys may try to argue several different defenses, including:
No “knowing” removal
Deference to the intelligence community
Challenging the constitutionality of the Special Counsel regulations
Additionally, several reports this week also appear to suggest an indictment might be coming, and soon.
Citing a Washington Post report published Thursday, several top legal experts are predicting DOJ will charge Donald Trump, and those charges will include obstruction and violations of the Espionage Act.
Earlier this week NYU School of Law professor of law Ryan Goodman said Dept. of Justice Special Counsel Jack Smith had struck “gold” after obtaining the contemporaneous notes of a Trump attorney who counseled the ex-president on his possibly unlawful handling of classified documents.
‘Obstruction & Espionage Act’: Top Legal Expert Says Trump Attorney’s Notes Show ‘Evidence of Willfulness’
Dept. of Justice Special Counsel Jack Smith has struck “gold” after obtaining the contemporaneous notes of a Trump attorney who counseled the ex-president on his possibly unlawful removal, retention, and refusal to return hundreds of classified documents from the White House, says a top legal expert and former Special Counsel.
“Special Counsel Smith strikes gold,” tweeted NYU School of Law professor of law Ryan Goodman, the founding co-editor-in-chief of Just Security, an NYU website on U.S. national security law and policy.
Goodman pointed to a CNN article titled, “Trump’s attorney took notes that say the former president wanted to fight subpoena for classified docs.”
“Donald Trump asked whether he could push back against Justice Department efforts last year to recover any classified documents still in his possession during conversations with his lawyer over compliance with a federal subpoena, according to multiple sources familiar with notes taken by his lawyer and turned over to investigators,” CNN reported.
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“Special counsel Jack Smith has obtained dozens of pages of notes that Trump’s attorney Evan Corcoran took last spring, memorializing conversations with his client after the former president received the subpoena last May and before a key meeting with the Justice Department a few weeks later when Trump’s legal team said they had turned over all classified records they could find, the sources told CNN.”
Goodman highlights aspects of the reporting. He writes: “Trump’s team ‘surprised about the level of detail,'” and “Obtains ‘dozens of pages of notes’ of Trump attorney ‘memorializing conversations with his client.'”
“My take,” he summarizes, “Contains evidence of obstruction & Espionage Act.”
Goodman continues, citing CNN, and says, “the notes show over the course of conversations with Trump, ‘the attorney explained that the subpoena meant Trump would need to return all records.'”
“As [former U.S. Attorney Barb McQuade] explained with The Guardian’s Hugo Lowell’s “scoop, that is evidence of willfulness,” Goodman says.
He then points to this sentence from CNN: “Trump, when informed by his lawyer about the subpoena and how he should respond, asked if there was any way to fight it.”
Goodman says that “is evidence of Espionage Act ‘willful retention,’ 18 USC 793(e), and Obstruction, 18 USC 1519.”
While Employed and Running for Congress George Santos Allegedly Received Thousands in Unemployment Benefits: Nassau D.A.
Republican Congressman George Santos, now in federal custody and facing 13 charges including money laundering, wire fraud, and lying to the U.S. House of Representatives, allegedly applied for and received tens of thousands of dollars in unemployment benefits. Allegedly, one year later, in a recorded video (below), he denounced “the goddamn unemployment benefits,” claiming they prevented businesses from finding workers, and called for a system to root out those who wrongly use them.
“At the height of the pandemic in 2020, George Santos allegedly applied for and received unemployment benefits while he was employed and running for Congress,” Nassau County, New York District Attorney Anne T. Donnelly said in a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office. “As charged in the indictment, the defendant’s alleged behavior continued during his second run for Congress when he pocketed campaign contributions and used that money to pay down personal debts and buy designer clothing.”
According to that statement, starting around February 2020, “Santos was employed as a Regional Director of a Florida-based investment firm (Investment Firm #1), where he earned an annual salary of approximately $120,000. By late-March 2020, in response to the outbreak of COVID-19 in the United States, new legislation was signed into law that provided additional federal funding to assist out-of-work Americans during the pandemic.”
READ MORE: Clarence Thomas’ Billionaire Benefactor to Democratic Senators Asking for Receipts: No
“In mid-June 2020, although he was employed and was not eligible for unemployment benefits, Santos applied for government assistance through the New York State Department of Labor, allegedly claiming falsely to have been unemployed since March 2020. From that point until April 2021—when Santos was working and receiving a salary on a near-continuous basis and during his unsuccessful run for Congress—he falsely affirmed each week that he was eligible for unemployment benefits when he was not. As a result, Santos allegedly fraudulently received more than $24,000 in unemployment insurance benefits.”
Just last month Santos filed an amendment to House Republican legislation that would require certain recipients of Medicaid to have to work 20 hours a week to continue to receive those benefits. As Insider reported, Santos’ amendment increases that requirement from 20 hours to 30 hours.
In a 2021 video (NCRM has not validated the video or its date), a man who appears to be Santos angrily criticizes President Joe Biden, and denounces unemployment and pandemic-related benefits.
READ MORE: Watch: Kevin McCarthy Refuses to Say if He’ll Force George Santos Out After Prosecutors File Charges
“We need you to be the President, Joe,” Santos disrespectdfiully declares. “You wanted the gig. You wanted it so bad. You got it. Now do the job. Honor us, be the president. Protect us. This is a bunch of garbage. For an entire hour you were asked great questions. You all but mocked the restaurant owner who can’t get people to work for him. Obviously because you keep extending the goddamn unemployment benefits. Yes, there are people who need it. Create a system where they can be verified so they can keep it. Don’t do this nonsense no more of blanket giveaways.”
Watch below or at this link.
In 2021, George Santos blamed unemployment benefits for a business owner having difficulty finding employees. pic.twitter.com/7nBaadt0Mi
— PatriotTakes 🇺🇸 (@patriottakes) January 31, 2023
Image: Lev Radin/Shutterstock
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