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DOJ Officials Offer Reasons Why Steve Bannon’s Criminal Referral Is Languishing

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Faced with pressure from lawmakers as well as political commentators over the fact that it has been sixteen days since the House voted to send Steve Bannon’s criminal referral to the Department of Justice only for nothing to happen, CNN is reporting that DOJ officials are pushing back.

Earlier on Saturday, CNN political analyst Chris Cillizza noted that MSNBC commentator Kurt Bardella expressed disgust that no indictment has been issued for contempt of Congress with a tweet that bluntly stated, “How the f*ck is Steve Bannon still a free man?” CNN is now reporting the DOJ officials believe they have good reasons for the delay.

According to CNN’s Zachary Cohen and Evan Perez, the DOJ isn’t ignoring its critics but is instead proceeding slowly out of fear they won’t get it right and have their case thrown out or dismantled.

The CNN report notes, “…the longer it takes for the Justice Department to make a decision on whether to prosecute Bannon, the more questions swirl around whether this was the right strategy for congressional investigators. Democratic critics, already frustrated with Attorney General Merrick Garland over other moves, have focused their impatience over the Bannon referral on Garland because he has ultimate say on whether Bannon is prosecuted.”

DOJ officials were prepared for the criticism because they have already become aware of Garland’s “methodical” approach to cases and the Bannon case presents its own set of problems, they explained.

“Justice Department officials tell CNN that prosecutors don’t feel pressure to act more quickly. Given that criminal referrals are rare and even more rarely enforced by the department, the Bannon decision will be dissected for years to come so the lawyers have to be sure they get it right, officials say,” CNN report before adding that a change in leadership at U.S. Attorney level also has caused a delay.

‘The referral also came amid a transition at the Washington, DC, US Attorney’s Office, which is handling the matter. The Senate approved the new US attorney, Matthew Graves, on October 28 and he took office Friday, ” the CNN report states before adding, “At Justice, the two weeks it has taken to review the referral isn’t seen as consequential, officials say.”

The report adds “members of the House select committee that’s investigating the Capitol riot believe a quick indictment of Bannon is needed — not only to send a message to other potential witnesses but also to reaffirm the power of the congressional subpoena.”

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Former Trump CFO Nearing ‘Unexpectedly Favorable’ Plea Deal With Manhattan DA: NYT

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Former Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg, who worked for the Trump family since 1970, is nearing a plea deal with Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg in his case, according to The New York Times. Charges include conspiracy, grand larceny, criminal tax fraud, and falsifying business records.

Weisselberg, who is 75, could walk away with a minor prison sentence of just five months, the Times reports, calling it “an unexpectedly favorable outcome for him.”

The plea deal would not include any cooperation on broader issues related to Donald Trump. Legal experts have said Weisselberg knows nearly everything that the Trump Organization has done.

READ MORE: Judge Denies Motion to Dismiss – Trump Org and Ex-CFO Weisselberg Criminal Fraud and Tax Evasion Case Will Proceed

“His plea deal, if finalized, would bring prosecutors no closer to indicting the former president but would nonetheless brand one of his most trusted lieutenants a felon.”

Earlier this year Manhattan D.A. Bragg came under intense criticism after he seemingly halted his office’s longtime investigation into Donald Trump.

One of the prosecutors who worked 0n the Trump case but quit when Bragg ended it called it a “grave failure of justice,” and said Trump was “guilty of numerous felonies.”

“Prosecutors accuse Weisselberg of a 15-year scheme to defraud federal, New York State, and New York City tax authorities of $1.76 million in ‘off-the-books’ compensation,” Law & Crime reported. “These included $359,058 in tuition expenses for multiple family members, $196,245 for leases on his Mercedes Benz automobiles, $29,400 in unreported cash, and an unspecified amount in ad hoc personal expenses, according to his indictment.”

In 2018 The New Yorker reported “Allen Weisselberg, the firm’s longtime chief financial officer, is the center, the person in the company who knows more than anyone.”

 

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Does Trump Still Have Classified Docs? DOJ May Think So After Asking Judge to Keep Affidavit Sealed Former Fed Says

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After the National Archives had to travel to Mar-a-Lago earlier this year to take back 15 cartons of documents and other items from the Trump White House, and even after the FBI raided Donald Trump’s Florida home last week, could it possible the Dept. of Justice thinks the former president is still holding onto classified documents?

One former federal prosecutor says that one of two distinct possibilities, after DOJ asked a federal judge on Monday to not unseal the affidavit used to obtain the search warrant for Trump’s Mar-a-Lago mansion.

“There remain compelling reasons, including to protect the integrity of an ongoing law enforcement investigation that implicates national security, that support keeping the affidavit sealed,” the Dept. of Justice’s filing states, ABC News reports. “In a footnote, department officials write that they ‘carefully considered’ whether they could release the affidavit with redactions, but the redactions necessary to ‘mitigate harms to the integrity of the investigation would be so extensive as to render the remaining unsealed text devoid of meaningful content, and the release of such a redacted version would not serve any public interest.'”

READ MORE: Rumors Swirl as ‘Flight Risk’ Trump Claims FBI Took His ‘Three Passports’ – He Can Still ‘Ask for Asylum’

“Interesting tidbit,” writes The New York Times’ Alan Feuer. “Prosecutors acknowledge they’ve been interviewing witnesses and say the release of the warrant application could ‘chill future cooperation by witnesses as ‘investigation progresses.'”

Former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotto says the Dept. of Justice may think Trump still has more classified documents – or there are charges coming in response to the Mar-a-Lago raid.

Mariotto writes: “This suggests DOJ is continuing its investigation, which means one of two things: 1) DOJ *still* isn’t convinced they have all of the classified material Trump took when he left office. 2) They have an ongoing criminal investigation of this matter that could result in charges.”

READ MORE: Trump Could Face 20 Years Behind Bars for ‘Serious Felonies’ at Mar-a-Lago: Legal Analyst

“That’s potentially very important news,” Mariotto adds. “Many national security pros thought that the main (if not only) purpose of the search warrant was to secure sensitive material, not to build potential criminal charges.”

But as Politico’s Kyle Cheney notices, the DOJ in its filing says it’s willing to unseal other documents.

“The government does not object to unsealing other materials filed in connection with the search warrant whose unsealing would not jeopardize the integrity of this national security investigation, subject to minor redactions to protect government personnel.”

 

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Rumors Swirl as ‘Flight Risk’ Trump Claims FBI Took His ‘Three Passports’ – He Can Still ‘Ask for Asylum’

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Despite claiming he wants to help tamp down the anger across the country from his far-right base Donald Trump on Monday issued a statement complaining the FBI took his “three passports” when it executed a legal search warrant last week. Rumors are flying about what that might mean for his future, if true.

“Wow! In the raid by the FBI of Mar-a-Lago, they stole my three passports (one expired), along with everything else,” Trump wrote on his Truth Social platform, The Independent reports. “This is an assault on a political opponent at a level never seen before in our Country. Third World!”

The FBI has no political opponent, it is not an assault given a judge signed off on the Bureau’s actions, and “Third World” is considered a derogatory and offensive term. There is also no confirmation that Trump’s claim is correct.

Attorney Tristan Snell, who successfully prosecuted the Trump University case for the New York Attorney General’s Office, notes, “Trump is still a flight risk even without passports. He could go to NYC, to the consulate of a country that does not allow US extradition (such as Russia), and ask for asylum.”

READ MORE: ‘Should Expect to Be Indicted’: Giuliani Now Target of Georgia DA Investigation Into Efforts to Overturn Election – Report

But freelance journalist Yashar Ali notes “as far as we know the State Department has not placed a hold on Trump’s passport (they usually do that when you owe a huge amount of tax). So he can easily go get a replacement passport if he wants. A same day passport! He has not been charged with a crime.”

“The FBI isn’t going to decide that someone who hasn’t been charged with a crime is a flight risk, that would be up to a judge,” he adds. “And passports weren’t listed on the property list.”

Democratic strategist Adam Parkhomenko just mocked the former president: “I have a passport and twitter account. Donald Trump has neither.”

READ MORE: Trump Makes False Claims About Classified Documents – And Obama

Jon Cooper, a former Draft Biden National Finance Chair offered this interesting observation: “Anyone else find it interesting that Trump looked for his passport in the first place?”

Former top FBI official Frank Figliuzzi says it’s “possible that Trump retained his red ‘government official’ passport, and a black ‘diplomatic’ passport, which he no longer has a right to. Those would be ‘government records’ seizable pursuant to the warrant.”

While Trump has not been charged with any crimes, last week, even before Trump claimed the FBI took his passports, some were saying he should have to give them up.

“Frankly speaking, Trump is a flight risk,” wrote Qasim Rashid, an attorney and human rights activist. “The judge should require he surrender his passport and his jet should be grounded.”

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