Mike Lindell, the far right extremist and conspiracy theorist who is also CEO of My Pillow is suing the U.S. Dept. of Justice in an attempt to get his cell phone returned after federal agents, he says, executed a search and seizure warrant on him at an Indiana Hardee’s fast food restaurant drive-thru on his way back from a duck hunting trip. Lindell’s attorneys posted a copy of the warrant. Lindell is reportedly under investigation for identity theft, conspiracy to defraud the United States, and other potential crimes.
Lindell, a top Trump ally and advisor who is now financially supporting a fascist white supremacist and Christian nationalist, “is under U.S. federal investigation for identity theft and for conspiring to damage a protected computer connected to a suspected voting equipment security breach in Colorado,” Reuters reports.
“The new details about the focus of the investigation were confirmed on Wednesday after Lindell’s attorneys uploaded a copy of a search and seizure warrant approved by U.S. Magistrate Judge Tony Leung for Minnesota federal court on Sept. 7.”
The magistrate judge “approved the warrant based on probable cause that Lindell and other possible co-conspirators may have violated federal laws prohibiting identity fraud, conspiracy to defraud the United States and causing intentional damage a protected computer.”
“The warrant says FBI agents were authorized to use Lindell’s fingerprints to access his phone and to hold the phone in front of Lindell’s face to activate facial recognition technology, if necessary,” Law & Crime adds.
Last week attorney Alan Dershowitz claimed the Biden administration is targeting Lindell for his political views.
Alan Dershowitz is representing Mike Lindell: “I think that there is a very strong possibility that Lindell is being targeted because of his political views” pic.twitter.com/vnhkVBr5l4
— Jason Campbell (@JasonSCampbell) September 15, 2022
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Trump Acknowledges Past Business Interactions With the Mob in New Book
In an upcoming book from New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman, former President Donald Trump acknowledged past business interactions with organized crime.
CNN reports that Haberman’s new book, titled “Confidence Man: The Making of Donald Trump and the Breaking of America,” offers new details about Trump’s past business practices, which came into the public spotlight earlier this week when New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a civil lawsuit alleging the former president and three of his adult children engaged in years of systemic fraud.
One particularly noteworthy detail involves Trump’s admission of having to deal with organized crime figures as part of the price of doing business as a real estate developer in New York.
“Well, anybody that built in New York City, whether you dealt with them indirectly, or didn’t even know they existed, they did exist,” Trump said. “Well, you dealt, you had contractors and you don’t know if they were mob or controlled or maybe not controlled, but I will tell you getting bids sometimes is very tough. You’d get one bid, it’d be a high end disappointing bid. And then there was nobody else to bid.”
Haberman also reports that Trump was directly involved in the drafting of a misleading earnings statement that earned a rebuke from the Securities and Exchange Commission, despite the fact that his attorneys said at the time that Trump had no involvement in the statement.
“Haberman reports that a former company consultant, Alan Marcus, said that Trump personally marked up a draft of the release in question and made existing projections rosier,” CNN writes. “Trump denied that account, according to Haberman.”
‘Lacks Courage’: Experts Question Why Alvin Bragg ‘Stood Down’ on Trump Criminal Case After Bombshells in Civil Suit
New York District Attorney Alvin Bragg is yet again under fire for appearing to have dropped the longtime criminal investigation into Donald Trump and his real estate empire, after New York Attorney General Tish James announced a bombshell civil suit against Trump and his family members for many of the same acts the criminal case was presumed to cover.
Bragg, a former Assistant United States Attorney in the Southern District of New York (SDNY), took office on January 1, 2022, after winning election following the retirement of Cyrus Vance, Jr. Many had expected Vance to file charges, but almost immediately Bragg was accused of slow-walking the last portion of the investigation. By February 23, the investigation’s top two prosecutors abruptly quit.
The news rocked the country and New York.
One day later The New Yorker’s award-winning investigative reporter, Jane Mayer, wrote: “After promising to prioritize the case, the new Manhattan District Attorney, Alvin Bragg, seems to have abandoned it.”
Indeed, despite Bragg’s claim months later, that the case was still active, charges have yet to be filed.
On Wednesday, after AG James sued Trump, his three eldest children – Donald Jr., Eric, and Ivanka – several of his companies, and people associated with his business including former CFO Allen Weisselberg, many are turning their attention to Bragg.
Many believed Vance had come close to filing charges. As far back as 2019, as investigative reporter David Farenthold (then at The Washington Post and now of The New York Times) reported, they had already found plenty, he notes today.
NEW: How did @realDonaldTrump inflate his net worth to lenders?
–Added 10 stories to Trump Tower.
–Added 800 acres to his winery.
–Added 24 ready-to-sell lots to his property in CA.
We’ve got (some of the) inflated docs investigators now want to see. https://t.co/cNfKTsSlrW
— David Fahrenthold (@Fahrenthold) March 28, 2019
Anger online against Bragg is palpable, given all that James revealed.
Tish James’ “massive case also raises real questions about why [Bragg] stood down on this same case on the criminal side, to the point where two prosecutors quit,” tweeted MSNBC anchor Joy Reid.
Clearly aware of the optics and possibly the blowback brewing online Bragg, one hour after James’ press conference ended, claimed that his investigation remains “ongoing.”
Statement from Manhattan D.A. Alvin Bragg: pic.twitter.com/3b2Km2QaQU
— Alvin Bragg (@ManhattanDA) September 21, 2022
Legal experts too are stunned.
“The more I read about the NY AG civil fraud case against Trump, the more I wonder how Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg could possibly have rejected indicting him for criminal fraud,” writes Tristan Snell, an attorney formerly in the NY AG’s office who prosecuted the Trump University case.
On Wednesday he observed “NYAG Tish James’s office remains unimpressed with the performance of Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg in their parallel investigations.”
The summary makes clear that NYAG Tish James’s office remains unimpressed with the performance of Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg in their parallel investigations. pic.twitter.com/bk1Ajehi0T
— southpaw (@nycsouthpaw) September 21, 2022
Law professor Jennifer Taub says she’s “Wondering whether this puts pressure on Alvin Bragg to act.”
“Much of what [James] is describing is EXACTLY what Cy Vance was investigating.”
Attorney, political commentator, and former South Carolina state lawmaker Bakari Sellers says Bragg “has abdicated his duty and/or lacks the courage to do his job.”
Legal Experts: DeSantis ‘Reckless Decision’ May Have Violated Federal Law – Immigrants Are ‘Victims of Kidnapping’
Legal and immigration experts are responding to Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis‘ decision to send two private planes filled with undocumented immigrants to the tiny island of Martha’s Vineyard (pop.17,000), in what some are calling an inhumane political stunt, as well as a possibly illegal act, including “kidnapping.” One attorney says that would make them not only victims of a crime, but eligible for U.S. government issued visas.
California Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom Thursday afternoon sent a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland urging the Dept. of Justice to investigate what he said may be “criminal” acts including “kidnapping” and violations of “RICO” statutes.
Jules Bernstein, founder of Louis D. Brandeis Legacy Fund for Social Justice, and a longtime attorney who has argued before the U.S. Supreme Court, says DeSantis’ actions may “have constituted a federal crime.”
“Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’s reckless decision to deceive 50 poor and homeless migrants from Latin America into traveling, at Florida’s citizen’s expense, to Martha’s Vineyard, by misleading them into thinking that jobs and housing awaited them, was not merely an outrageous and villainous deed. It may also have constituted a federal crime,” Bernstein writes in a letter published by The Martha’s Vineyard Times.
Civil Rights Attorney Andrew C Laufer on social media says it “could be kidnapping.”
“They usually have immigrants sign consent/waivers when they transport them.Don’t believe they’re enforceable.If they Feds get involved, since they crossed state borders, could be kidnapping. It’s not human trafficking bc DeSantis, et al didn’t exploit them for labor or sex act.”
Elizabeth de la Vega, a former federal prosecutor of organized crime case and served as Chief of the San Jose Branch of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California says, “I hope DOJ will act asap against DeSantis & this crime, which is kidnapping in violation of 18 USC § 1201. The law doesn’t require forcible taking; it applies to ‘inveigling.’ It also forbids doing so for ransom, reward or ‘otherwise,’ a term that’s interpreted broadly.”
Immigration attorney Rachel Self, of Martha’s Vineyard, agrees the immigrants were “kidnapped.”
“The response to this crisis among the legal and humanitarian communities, and the Martha’s Vineyard community at large, has been nothing short of incredible,” Self wrote, according to The Times. “The people who arrived last night are not alone, and we will make sure they know it – this is what our community is all about. We welcome them, and we are deeply grateful for the opportunity to help them in any way we can.”
Self is preparing to take legal action.
“We believe they are victims of kidnapping, and the perpetrators of this breathtakingly cruel political stunt should know that it may well result in every individual who was induced onto those planes by fraud becoming eligible for a U visa,” she writes.
“A U visa is a nonimmigrant visa granted to victims who cooperate with law enforcement, prosecutors, or other authorities in the investigation of a crime, and in the First Circuit (the Federal jurisdiction which includes Massachusetts), people with pending U visas are protected from deportation,” Self adds.
“We call on federal, state, and local authorities to collect and preserve evidence, beginning with the tail numbers of the aircraft used in the commission of this offense. Using human beings – families and children – as political pawns says far more about Governor DeSantis’s callousness and disregard for human life than it does about the people of Martha’s Vineyard.”
She continued to blast the Florida governor who is facing a tough re-election battle against Democrat Charlie Crist.
DeSantis, she adds, “sent those planes here hoping to expose hypocrisy; he does not believe anyone when they say they care about people like migrants fleeing an oppressive socialist regime in Venezuela, because he himself cannot conceive of caring about them. He’s made it perfectly clear he views them as subhuman. He has revealed nothing but his own heartlessness – and the truth that the people of Martha’s Vineyard are as good as it gets and better embody the moral values he purports to have.”
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