According to a report from former Assistant U.S. Attorney Mitchell Epner at the Daily Beast, Donald Trump’s legal problems may be growing exponentially because there appears to be evidence he attempted to use the IRS to persecute political enemies before he lost re-election.
At issue, Epner wrote, are accusations from former White House Chief of Staff John Kelly that the former president demanded the IRS look into tax returns filed by, among others, former FBI Director James Comey and former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe.
According to the legal expert, there is already an investigation by the IRS inspector general into the suspicious audits of the two FBI officials, with Epner writing, “As reported earlier this summer, both Comey and McCabe were subjected to highly unusual IRS audits. The odds of an individual randomly being subjected to this type of audit are similar to being struck by lightning. For both to be the subject of special audit by happenstance is about as likely as a whale falling from the sky and landing in the middle of a mountain range.”
As he notes, there is evidence Kelly is willing to provide evidence about Trump’s illegal demand, with Epner writing that “a president who unlawfully seeks to have an individual audited is subject to up to five years in prison. The crime does not require that the IRS actually carry out the audit. The crime is completed with the mere request.”
“If Trump made this demand while he was president, that is an unambiguous felony. Section 7217 of Title 26 of the United States Code makes it a crime for the ‘President’ to ‘request, directly or indirectly, any officer or employee of the Internal Revenue Service to conduct or terminate an audit or other investigation of any particular taxpayer with respect to the tax liability of such taxpayer,'” he wrote before adding, “Based on my training and experience as an Assistant U.S. Attorney who prosecuted tax offenses, I expect that each IRS employee along the chain of command kept detailed notes and records of who ordered them to conduct the audit, and on the facts that were cited to support that audit demand. I would not be surprised if each of those IRS employees cooperated with the DOJ, with all fingers pointing in Trump’s direction.”
He concluded that “the nice thing about prosecuting tax crimes is that the crimes are very clearly delineated. Few jurors have any sympathy for people who cheat on their taxes or wrongfully sic the IRS on an individual to carry out a personal vendetta.”
You can read more here.
Image by Evan El Amin/Shutterstock
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‘His Big Plan Is to Ask the President a Question?’: McCarthy Mocked for His Handling of Debt Ceiling Negotiations
Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy is being mocked for his handling of the run-up to critical negotiations over the debt ceiling with President Joe Biden – negotiations that, if they fail, could shut down the federal government and even throw the economy into a tailspin.
McCarthy first decided to take his fight – which includes drastic cuts to life-saving Social Security and Medicare, a non-starter for Democrats – not to the Oval Office but to Twitter.
“Mr. President: I received your staff’s memo,” tweeted the Speaker, still damaged from having to make still-secret promises to his own caucus members while taking 15 tries to get elected. “I’m not interested in political games. I’m coming to negotiate for the American people.”
That memo, according to CNBC, “sought to portray the 3:15 p.m. ET meeting as a showdown, one between a Democratic president who will protect Social Security, Medicare, health insurance and food stamps, and a House Republican majority that will demand cuts to these programs in exchange for helping Democrats avoid a catastrophic default on the nation’s debt.”
Meanwhile, many on Twitter responded by accusing him of trying to act like a “tough guy” with the President.
Comedian Dana Goldberg mocked McCarthy, tweeting, “Nothing says ‘I don’t want to play games’ like tweeting a response to the President of the United States.”
Former Lincoln Project Executive Director Fred Wellman had even harsher words for the Speaker.
“You were elected by a bunch of idiots in Bakersfield and made Speaker by a handful of insurrectionists and nutjobs. You don’t speak for the American people. You barely even speak for the House of Representatives, Kev,” he said.
Wednesday morning, again not taking his battle to the Oval Office, McCarthy aimed higher.
At the National Gathering for Prayer and Repentance, a far-right wing event sponsored by several Christian organizations, at least five of which appear on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s list of anti-LGBTQ hate groups, McCarthy prayed for God to open his and President Biden’s hearts.
“Father, I want to lift up those who are not here today. I want you to open their hearts,” McCarthy prayed, asking for “the patience of Job,” and “the intellect the leadership that you gave David.”
“Father, I want to lift up the president. Father, you know I will meet with him today. Father, I ask. I asked that you open both of our hearts that you put our meaning, our meaning that seeks your truth.”
Later, McCarthy, heading to the White House, told reporters, “I’ve got a big plan. The first question is does the President wants to continue reckless spending or find a way that we can be responsible, sit down and find common ground where we put ourselves on a path to budget. Make a balanced budget,” he said, according to NBC News’ Kyle Stewart and CNN’s Manu Raju.
Many were unimpressed.
Aaron Fritschner, the Deputy Chief of Staff and Communications Director for U.S. Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA) asked, “His big plan is to ask the president a question?”
Georgetown Law professor Josh Chafetz offered this in response:
“Step 1: Ask loaded question
Step 2: ???
Step 3: … also ???”
Journalist Dan Froomkin, editor of Press Watch, noted: “McCarthy’s opening position: A balanced budget. So basically cut a quarter of federal spending or he’ll burn down the world.
I’m sure the political media will be outraged.”
Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas asked, “If he’s got a plan, where is it?”
The Biden-McCarthy meeting began at roughly 3:17 PM and ended at approximately 4:41 PM, according to observations from Punchbowl News’ Jake Sherman.
McCarthy talked to reporters after his meeting with the President, saying he felt they could find some “common ground.”
After first tweeting about his upcoming meeting with President Biden, then literally praying to God on-camera in public about his upcoming meeting with President Biden, then talking to reporters about his upcoming meeting with President Biden, McCarthy stood outside the White House after his first round of talks with the President and told reporters: “I’m not going to negotiate this in the press.”
Watch below or at this link.
McCarthy is asked after meeting what Biden about what programs he thinks should be cut. He says he’s not going to negotiate in public. pic.twitter.com/JtKRVBmu9N
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) February 1, 2023
Trump Could ‘Screw’ GOP With Self-Enriching Third Party Run: Conservative Author
Former President Donald Trump is able to “screw” his own party with an independent or third-party run should they reject him in 2024, wrote conservative author Jonathan Last for The Bulwark on Wednesday.
Trump is currently the only Republican who has formally declared his candidacy for president, although multiple others like New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu and former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley have expressed interest. Trump mainly appears focused on heading off a challenge from Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, attacking him as a “RINO globalist.”
“Sarah [Longwell] made a bunch of news this morning with her poll about Always Trumpers. I’m sure you’ve seen it. If not, the most interesting number is that 28 percent of Republican respondents said they’d vote for Trump over either an R or a D if he made a third-party run in 2024,” said the report. “Certain members of the Match Throwing Club . . . scoffed at this idea. Ross Douthat explains that, ‘Trump is unlikely to run third party and 28 percent of the GOP primary base isn’t actually going to vote for a spoiler if it’s DeSantis v. Biden.'”
This analysis, said Last, is just “wishcasting” — because Trump doesn’t actually need to pull 28 percent of the vote to spoil the election. Just a few points could do it, given how close the last two presidential elections ended up being.
It’s impossible to know for sure whether Trump would actually run third party if he lost the nomination, wrote Last — however, “I do know that if Trump were to lose the Republican nominating contest, he could bring in a lot of money by running a third-party campaign. And if the question is: ‘Trump could make a lot of money by doing X; will he do X?’ Well, then the answer is usually: Yes.”
Notably, polling doesn’t indicate that it’s likely Trump will lose the GOP nomination in the first place, with recent Morning Consult numbers suggesting he leads the pack by 17 points.
Image via Shutterstock
Santos Campaign Can No Longer Raise or Spend Money After Treasurer Officially Calls It Quits: NYT
Enmeshed in a web of deceit and possibly under federal criminal investigation, U.S. Rep. George Santos (R-NY) is now apparently unable to lawfully spend money or accept donations via his political campaign, which reportedly now may also be in violation of FEC rules.
On Tuesday the embattled freshman Republican announced he was temporarily stepping down from his committee assignments, reportedly after a conversation with Speaker Kevin McCarthy. Before the end of the day his campaign treasurer filed official paperwork notifying the Federal Election Commission she had resigned.
“Nancy Marks’s resignation effectively leaves the Santos campaign unable to raise or spend money and in seeming violation of federal rules,” The New York Times reports, calling her his “longtime campaign treasurer and trusted aide.”
“Mr. Santos’s financial operations, which are the subject of several complaints filed with the F.E.C. and are being investigated by local, state and federal law enforcement,” The Times adds. “It also leaves the Santos campaign in disarray, effectively rendering it unable to raise or spend money and placing it in seeming violation of F.E.C. rules.”
In fact, FEC rules state: “If a committee’s treasurer is absent, the committee cannot make expenditures or accept contributions unless it has designated an assistant treasurer or designated agent on the committee’s Statement of Organization.”
The resignation comes after last week’s stunning report revealing that Santos, or his campaign, amended FEC filings to indicate the $700,000 he had claimed to have personally loaned his campaign had not actually come from his personal funds.
Unlike political candidates, campaign treasurers are held to an actual standard of truth, and can be personally – and legally – liable if they report false information.
FEC rules also state, “the treasurer can be named and found liable in his or her personal capacity if he or she knowingly and willfully violates the Act, recklessly fails to fulfill duties imposed by the law, or intentionally deprives himself or herself of the operative facts giving rise to the violation.”
Santos may find it difficult to hire a new treasurer: “Even when an enforcement action alleges violations that occurred during the term of a previous treasurer, the Commission usually names the current treasurer as a respondent in the action.”
The Times adds, “The lack of clarity over who, if anyone, is operating as Mr. Santos’s treasurer has already caused confusion. On Tuesday, a joint fund-raising committee associated with Mr. Santos filed paperwork to end its operations. Ms. Marks’s signature was on the paperwork, even though she had resigned as the committee’s treasurer the week before.”
Marks’ resignation also comes after someone affiliated with the Santos campaign falsely listed a well-known Republican treasurer on the official FEC forms as the treasurer for his campaign. As one expert put it, that’s a “big no-no,” and “completely illegal.”
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