Mexico Had Agreed To These ‘New’ Measures Months Ago

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN AND THE NEW YORK TIMES)
(THE FRAUD IN CHIEF STRIKES AGAIN, CREATE A PROBLEM, DO NOTHING, THEN FIX THE PROBLEM AND TAKE CREDIT FOR HIS ‘GREAT WORK’, TOTAL FRAUD!)(oped: oldpoet56)

Mexico had already promised to take many of the actions agreed to in Friday’s immigration deal with the US — months before President Donald Trump’s tariff threat, officials from both countries who are familiar with the negotiations told the New York Times in a story published Saturday.

Trump moved to accept the existing agreements in a deal Friday after negotiations prompted by his threat to impose growing tariffs on Mexico in response to the border situation dragged on over several days. Talks between Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard and State Department officials lasted for more than 11 hours Friday.
The Mexican government had pledged to deploy the National Guard nationwide with a focus on its southern border — a key part of Friday’s agreement — during secret meetings in March between former Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and Mexican interior secretary Olga Sanchez in Miami, the officials told the Times.
The deal’s key expansion of a program that would keep asylum seekers in Mexico while their claims are processed was established in two heavily brokered two diplomatic notes exchanged between the two countries, the Times reported. Nielsen announced the Migrant Protection Protocols during a House Judiciary Committee hearing in late December.
One senior government official insisted to the Times that the Mexican government agreed to move to deter migrants faster and more aggressively than they ever had before this week’s talks.
As Ebrard noted in a news conference after the agreement’s announcement Friday, the Mexican government did not accept the US’s push for a safe third country agreement, which would require asylum seekers traveling through Mexico to make their case for American asylum in Mexico.
“They proposed in the first meeting to have (a) third safe state, which is not the case here, which is very important. And on the other hand, we accepted to have a more extended version of (migrants remaining in Mexico during asylum claim processing) and to accelerate the deployment of the national guard,” Ebrard said, calling the deal “a fair play.”
Trump presented the deal as a win in a pair of tweets early Saturday.
“Mexico will try very hard, and if they do that, this will be a very successful agreement for both the United States and Mexico!” the President wrote in a tweet. He continued later: “MEXICO HAS AGREED TO IMMEDIATELY BEGIN BUYING LARGE QUANTITIES OF AGRICULTURAL PRODUCT FROM OUR GREAT PATRIOT FARMERS!”
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said Saturday that he had a phone call with Trump after negotiators reached a deal Friday.
“I spoke on the telephone with President Trump,” Lopez Obrador tweeted in Spanish on Saturday. “I told him that in Tijuana I would say that I do not lift a clenched fist but an open and frank hand to the president of the United States. We reiterated our disposition to friendship, dialogue and collaboration for the good of our countries.”
Democratic congressional leaders slammed Trump for his attempts to negotiate a deal.
Senate Majority Chuck Schumer jabbed Trump’s repeated return to the issue, tweeting Friday night: “This is an historic night! @realDonaldTrump has announced that he has cut a deal to ‘greatly reduce, or eliminate, Illegal Immigration coming from Mexico and into the United States.’ Now that that problem is solved, I’m sure we won’t be hearing any more about it in the future.”
On Saturday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi accused Trump in a statement of having “undermined America’s preeminent leadership role in the world by recklessly threatening to impose tariffs on our close friend and neighbor to the south.”
Congress, she said, will hold the White House “accountable for its failures to address the humanitarian situation at our southern border.”

Trump And Xi Jinping: The Two Most Dangerous People In The World?

TRUMP AND XI JINPING: THE TWO MOST DANGEROUS PEOPLE IN THE WORLD?

 

Going back to the U.S. Elections of November 2016 I felt that we the people of this country only had two real choices to be our President. I also looked at our choices and felt that the people, no matter what, we were going to have a very evil person sitting in the Oval Office. I felt then as I do now, we could have a very smart crooked person (Hillary) or we could have a total dumbass crooked person for our President. The people by several million votes voted for the dangerous smart person but the Electoral College gave the victory to the crooked dumbass/ignorant ass, Mr. Trump.

 

As you have probably noticed I did not mention Russia or Mr. Putin in my comments above, there is a reason. Mr. Putin is a whole nother story. Mr. Putin is smarter than the average IQ I believe but he is definitely not a genius but neither is Mr. Trump. Mr. Putin is not stupid but he is still very dangerous because he has a dark heart/Soul. He is a bully and quite the smartass, but he is not at all stupid, unlike Mr. Trump.

 

Mr. Trump has proven to the whole world that he is a total buffoon, as well as an ignorant ass and a stupid ass fraud. There is one group of people though that still backs him no matter how ignorant and moral-less he acts each day, uneducated southern white males. I know that it sounds bad, the reality that I am a southern white male, I am a college graduate but I do not consider myself to be smarter than most folks. When I was in college I worked my behind off but could only manage about a 2.7 GPA. I do believe that Mr. Trump and almost all of his West Wing family are literally nothing more than a Mafia family, just like his Daddy was. Mr. Trump, through his massive ignorance of the whole world situation/realities is very dangerous. Through his massive ignorance, stupidity, arrogance and ego is still very likely to get our Nation into more military conflicts.

 

Mr. Xi Jinping I consider to be the world’s most dangerous human being. The man is very smart, he plays the ‘long game’ and he is a devout Chairman Mao believer. China is the most dangerous Nation in the world and Mr. Xi Jinping knows how to ‘play’ everyone, every leader every nation, he knows their weak points and he does attack them, just like the Devil attacks each humans weak points. Did I just call Mr. Xi Jinping the Devil, no I didn’t. But just as with every person, our bodies, are like a house, either we live there alone or with another entity. I have no doubt at all that at best Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton, Donald Trump and Xi Jinping are empty houses. The only ones who can ‘move into’ anyone’s house is a Spirit, either good or bad. None of these folks I have mentioned have the Holy Spirit within them. To say that any of them do is akin to calling Hitler a devout Catholic, just because his Mom was a Catholic. Anyone can say they are a Christian but if we don’t have a strong faith backed up with good works, then we/they are just lying to their own selves. I used the word ‘works’ for a reason, no one is saved by their works, nor is anyone saved by just faith, they go hand in hand one with the other. If a person’s actions show them to be evil then they are not possessed by G-d’s Spirit. Not everyone who does evil is possessed by an evil Spirit though but in can happen. One thing that cannot happen is that an evil Spirit cannot move into a body that the Spirit of G-d resides in.

So The Putin Mafia Controls Mafia Don: I don’t care about Treason He Is A Republican

So The Putin Mafia Controls MAFIA Don: I don’t care about Treason He Is A Republican
 THIS ARTICLE IS MEANT ONLY FOR THE PURPOSE OF TRYING TO GET FOLKS TO THINK ABOUT THE SITUATION OF HAVING OUR NATIONS POLITICIANS CONSTANTLY BETRAYING THE CONSTITUTION AND THE PEOPLE OF THE WORLD. THE REASON FOR THIS IS SIMPLE, PEOPLE LIKE SENATOR MITCH MCCONNELL AND THE OTHER REPUBLICANS IN THE CONGRESS AND THE SENATE DO NOT CARE WHAT MAFIA DON DOES BECAUSE ALL THEY CARE ABOUT IS THE REPUBLICAN PARTY, NOT THE CONSTITUTION NOR THE PEOPLE OF THIS NATION.

 

DO NOT GET ME WRONG, I HAVE NO USE FOR THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY EITHER. IF HILLARY CLINTON HAD WON (AND SHE DID WIN THE POPULAR VOTE BY SEVERAL MILLION VOTERS.) (THERE SHOULD BE NO SUCH THING AS THE ‘ELECTORAL COLLEGE’.) IT IS MY TOTAL BELIEF THAT THE DEMOCRATIC LEADERSHIP WOULD BE BACKING HER JUST AS THE REPUBLICANS ARE BACKING MAFIA DON AND FAMILY. IT IS MY PERSONAL BELIEF THAT MR. TRUMP IS GUILTY AS CAN POSSIBLY BE OF TREASON, FRAUD, TAX FRAUD AND EVASION AND THEFT.

 

I wrote the above message in all caps and in red hoping that it would get a few more people’s attention. I have no intention or wish to ‘yell’ at folks. In the 2016 Presidential Election ‘we the people’ really only had two choices of who would become our next President, Hillary Clinton or Vladimir Putin.  Whichever one won, we the people lost. In my opinion as a fellow Kentuckian the second biggest traitor (outside of the Trump household) to the people and our Nation is the Republican head of the U.S. Senate, Mitch McConnell.

Donald Trump is no Richard Nixon. He’s worse

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE LOS ANGELES TIMES)

 

Donald Trump is no Richard Nixon. He’s worse

Donald Trump is no Richard Nixon. He’s worse
President Trump at the White House on April 18, the day the redacted Mueller report was released. (Drew Angerer / Getty Images)
Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s report makes one thing clear: Donald Trump is no Richard Nixon. He is worse. And yet Trump seems almost sure to be spared Nixon’s fate. This will do severe — possibly irreparable — damage to the vital norms that sustain American democracy. There is still time for Congress and the American people to avert the worst of this damage, but the odds are long and time is short.

Despite his famous protestation to the contrary, President Nixon was a crook. He directed the CIA to shut down the FBI’s investigation of the Watergate burglary, in which several of his campaign operatives broke into Democratic National Committee headquarters. He also directed subordinates to pay hush money to subjects of that investigation. He then fired the first special prosecutor appointed to investigate these matters, hoping to protect himself and his senior advisors from possible criminal liability and untold political damage.

For these attempts to obstruct justice, Nixon paid the ultimate political price. When he terminated special prosecutor Archibald Cox, a ferocious public backlash forced him to appoint a widely respected replacement. That was Leon Jaworski, whose dramatic victory at the U.S. Supreme Court forced the release of secret White House tapes that destroyed the last vestiges of Nixon’s congressional support. He resigned the presidency days later. Had he failed to do so, impeachment by the House of Representatives and removal by the Senate were all but certain.

If Trump escapes unscathed, future presidents will take notice.


Share quote & link 

Nothing in Nixon’s presidency became him like the leaving it. For two generations, his downfall served as a cautionary tale for subsequent presidents who might be tempted to interfere with a federal investigation for personal or political reasons. Firing a special prosecutor, in particular, was almost universally understood to be political suicide. As Watergate showed, the American people simply would not stand for a president who sought to place himself above the law. This broadly shared understanding served as a crucial safeguard against the abuse of presidential power.

Then came Trump. After smashing through dozens of other deeply rooted norms of American politics to win the presidency, he treated the post-Watergate consensus with similar contempt. Just weeks after he took the oath of office, as the Mueller report details, Trump asked FBI Director James B. Comey to drop the investigation of national security advisor Michael Flynn. Before making this request, the president cleared the room, strongly suggesting that he knew his actions were improper. Requesting that the FBI drop an investigation of his friends is exactly what Nixon was caught doing on the famous “smoking gun” tape that sealed his fate.

Yet for Trump, this was just the beginning. A few weeks later, in early March 2017, the report shows that Trump lobbied vigorously to prevent Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions from recusing himself from the Russia investigation. When Sessions nevertheless followed the advice of ethics officials and recused himself, Trump exploded in anger and personally pressed Sessions to reverse his decision. Trump wanted an attorney general who would protect him to be in charge of the investigation.

In May 2017, the Mueller report shows that Trump removed Comey as head of the FBI and concocted a deliberately false explanation related to Comey’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation. Along with Trump’s attendant criticism of the Russia investigation and personally vindictive treatment of Comey, this action “had the potential to affect a successor director’s conduct of the investigation.” The report catalogs significant evidence that the president was worried the investigation would turn up politically and legally damaging information, and that it threatened the legitimacy of his election.

The report’s most damning evidence of obstruction of justice concerns the special counsel’s investigation itself. Once Trump learned in June 2017 that he was himself under investigation by Mueller’s team, his efforts to thwart the investigation reached new heights of audacity. That month, in a series of frantic phone calls, he ordered White House counsel Don McGahn to fire Mueller. The report describes “substantial evidence” that this was an attempt to obstruct the special counsel’s investigation; Trump was acting to protect himself from potential criminal liability and political damage.

When McGahn refused to carry out the order to fire Mueller, Trump resumed his campaign to get Sessions to take over the investigation and curtail it — or resign, so that Trump could appoint someone who would protect him. Much of this information was already in the public domain, but it is no less shocking for that. The evidence available to Mueller’s investigators, including contemporaneous documents and testimony under oath, provides a far surer foundation than anonymously sourced news stories.

The report also contains a wealth of new information. When Trump’s order to fire the special counsel was publicly reported in January 2018, Trump demanded that McGahn fabricate “a record denying that the President had tried to fire the special counsel.” This is witness tampering, plain and simple, of a much more direct and personal kind than any that Nixon engaged in. It also amounts to falsifying evidence, which counts as obstruction of justice even on the narrowest possible reading of the federal statute advanced by Trump’s lawyers.

Along similar lines, the report describes substantial evidence that Trump privately urged Flynn, Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen to “stay strong” and promised — through his lawyers — that they would “be taken care of” unless they “went rogue.” Together with the president’s public tweets praising Manafort and Stone for their bravery and baselessly accusing members of Cohen’s family of crimes, this conduct also amounts to witness tampering, plain and simple.

Lest it be forgotten, all of this took place in the context of one of the most serious law enforcement and counterintelligence investigations in the history of the United States. As the Mueller report explains, “The Russian government interfered in the 2016 presidential election in sweeping and systematic fashion” on behalf of Donald Trump. The FBI and Mueller set out to discover whether Trump’s campaign was complicit, and Trump took extraordinary measures to thwart their efforts. Nixon’s obstruction of the Watergate investigation looks almost innocent by comparison.

And yet Trump seems very likely to escape direct accountability. House Democrats may well opt against pursuing impeachment, for entirely understandable reasons: It might be too wrenching for the country, in the absence of a clear popular consensus supporting Trump’s removal. It might not be good politics for 2020, with voters more concerned about bread-and-butter issues. Even if the House votes to impeach, a two-thirds Senate vote to remove Trump from office seems almost inconceivable.

But if Trump escapes unscathed, future presidents will take notice. The cautionary tale of Watergate will be superseded by the Trump triumph and its very different lesson: In the hyperpolarized political environment of the early 21st century, the president is a law unto himself.

Andrew Coan is a professor of law at the University of Arizona and the author of “Prosecuting the President: How Special Prosecutors Hold Presidents Accountable and Protect the Rule of Law.”

Authority to investigate ‘financial service fee’ for Benz sales loan

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SHANGHAI CHINA NEWSPAPER ‘SHINE’)

 

Authority to investigate ‘financial service fee’ for Benz sales loan

An investigation has been launched after reports that Mercedes-Benz Automobile Finance Co illegally charged a customer a financial service fee, as claims surfaced in Shanghai of dealers also charging fees.

The China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Administration has asked its Beijing authority to initiate an inquiry.

A woman who bought a Mercedes-Benz she claims was defective from a dealer in Xi’an, Shaanxi Province, has now claimed she was cheated over a “financial service fee.”

The woman said she bought the Mercedes-Benz CLS300 from Xi’an Lizhixing Co for 660,000 yuan (US$98,445) but found the engine was leaking oil after she picked it up on March 27. She asked for a refund or a replacement but the dealer only agreed to change the engine.

The incident attracted wide attention after a video of the woman sitting on the bonnet of a Mercedes-Benz while weeping and arguing with salesmen at the 4S dealer store on April 9 was posted online.

The Xi’an market watchdog launched an investigation and asked the dealer to refund the buyer. The regulator also arranged a face-to-face negotiation between the two sides on Saturday, during which the buyer said she had intended to purchase the car outright.

However, the dealer persuaded her to use Mercedes-Benz finance as it is said to feature low interest.

The dealer also “forced” her to pay a “financial service fee” of 15,200 yuan to a personal account without providing a receipt, she claimed. The woman said she thought this was fraud as the dealer hadn’t provided any services.

Mercedes-Benz issued a statement on Sunday, saying it never asks for any financial service fee from dealers or customers.

A Shanghai consumer surnamed Wang who visited several Mercedes-Benz 4S shops to purchase an off-road vehicle said he was asked to take out a loan at the Songzhixing shop on Changshou Road.

The salesperson said the car was popular, and many 4S shops would not sell it if buyers refused to take a loan, Wang said. A salesperson would not get a commission without arranging a loan.

The same requirement was raised by the Minxing Automobile Service Co 4S shop, Wang said.

The Shanghai Consumer Council said yesterday they had received complaints about other automobile companies charging financial service fees.

Lawyers said car sales companies often use various excuses to charge fees to raise their profits, which infringes consumers’ rights to make choices.

A Shanghai consumer surnamed Huang who wanted to purchase a car at a 4S shop last year was told that he must buy a 13,800-yuan package including sticker and tachograph, and a three-year car insurance if he wanted to enjoy a discounted price of the car.

Huang asked several 4S shops the next day, and some had the same requirement.

Meanwhile, a woman Wang Wen who paid 340,000 yuan for a new Mercedes-Benz at the Zhongshengzhixing 4S shop on Jinyun Road in Jiading District found it was faulty.

She asked for a refund, but the 4S shop refused, and offered free exchange, free components and reduction of insurance fees as replacement.

Wang learnt that the car was an “auction car” sold to dealers at a discounted price, and had probably been used for display or trial runs.

A video of a woman sitting on a Mercedes-Benz and arguing with salesmen has gone viral.

Trump Defrauded Voters. But What Does It Mean?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK TIMES)

(SIMPLY PUT, TRUMP IS A FRAUDULENT PRESIDENT) 

Prosecutors’ Narrative Is Clear: Trump Defrauded Voters. But What Does It Mean?

In the narrative that prosecutors are building, President Trump continued to secretly seek to do business in Russia well into his presidential campaign even as Russian agents made more efforts to influence him.CreditAl Drago for The New York Times
Image
In the narrative that prosecutors are building, President Trump continued to secretly seek to do business in Russia well into his presidential campaign even as Russian agents made more efforts to influence him.CreditCreditAl Drago for The New York Times

WASHINGTON — The latest revelations by prosecutors investigating President Trump and his team draw a portrait of a candidate who personally directed an illegal scheme to manipulate the 2016 election and whose advisers had more contact with Russia than Mr. Trump has ever acknowledged.

In the narrative that the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, and New York prosecutors are building, Mr. Trump continued to secretly seek to do business in Russia deep into his presidential campaign even as Russian agents made more efforts to influence him. At the same time, in this account he ordered hush payments to two women to suppress stories of impropriety in violation of campaign finance law.

The prosecutors made clear in their memo that they viewed efforts by Mr. Trump’s former personal lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, to squelch the stories as nothing less than a perversion of a democratic election — and by extension they effectively accused the president of defrauding voters, questioning the legitimacy of his victory.

On Saturday, Mr. Trump dismissed the filings, and his lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, minimized the importance of any potential campaign finance violations. Democrats, however, said they could lead to impeachment.

In a sentencing memo filed on Friday in the case of Mr. Cohen, prosecutors from the Southern District of New York depicted Mr. Trump, identified only as “Individual-1,” as an accomplice in the hush payments. While Mr. Trump was not charged, the reference echoed Watergate, when President Richard M. Nixon was named an unindicted co-conspirator by a grand jury investigating the cover-up of the break-in at the Democratic headquarters.

“While many Americans who desired a particular outcome to the election knocked on doors, toiled at phone banks or found any number of other legal ways to make their voices heard, Cohen sought to influence the election from the shadows,” the prosecutors wrote.

“He did so by orchestrating secret and illegal payments to silence two women who otherwise would have made public their alleged extramarital affairs with Individual-1,” they continued. “In the process, Cohen deceived the voting public by hiding alleged facts that he believed would have had a substantial effect on the election.”

The exposure on campaign finance laws poses a challenge to Mr. Trump’s legal team, which before now has focused mainly on rebutting allegations of collusion and obstruction while trying to call into question Mr. Mueller’s credibility.

“Until now, you had two different charges, allegations, whatever you want to call them,” Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York, the incoming Democratic chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said in an interview on Saturday. “One was collusion with the Russians. One was obstruction of justice and all that entails. And now you have a third — that the president was at the center of a massive fraud against the American people.”

The episode recalled a criminal case brought against former Senator John Edwards, Democrat of North Carolina, who while running for president in 2008 sought to cover up an extramarital affair that resulted in pregnancy. He was charged with violating campaign finance laws stemming from money used to hide his pregnant lover, but a trial ended in 2012 with an acquittal on one charge and a mistrial on five others.

Mr. Giuliani pointed to that outcome on Saturday to argue that the president should not be similarly charged.

“The President is not implicated in campaign finance violations because based on Edwards case and others the payments are not campaign contributions,” Mr. Giuliani wrote on Twitter. “No responsible prosecutor would premise a criminal case on a questionable interpretation of the law.”

But Mr. Cohen has pleaded guilty under that interpretation of the law, and even if Mr. Trump cannot be charged while in office, the House could still investigate or even seek to impeach him. The framers of the Constitution specifically envisioned impeachment as a remedy for removing a president who obtained office through corrupt means, and legal scholars have long concluded that the threshold of “high crimes and misdemeanors” does not necessarily require a statutory crime.

If the campaign finance case as laid out by prosecutors is true, Mr. Nadler said, Mr. Trump would be likely to meet the criteria for an impeachable offense, and he said he would instruct his committee to investigate when he takes over in January.

But he added that did not necessarily mean that the committee should vote to impeach Mr. Trump. “Is it serious enough to justify impeachment?” he asked. “That is another question.”

The strategy of Mr. Trump’s lawyers has been predicated on the assurance by senior Justice Department officials that if Mr. Mueller found evidence that the president broke the law, he would not be indicted while in office. But the hush money investigation is being led by a separate office of prosecutors in New York, and far less time has been spent publicly or privately trying to protect Mr. Trump from that inquiry.

And while the prevailing view at the Justice Department is that a sitting president cannot be indicted, that does not mean a president cannot be charged after leaving office. The prosecutors in New York have examined the statute of limitations on the campaign finance violations and believe charges could be brought against Mr. Trump if he is not re-elected, according to a person briefed on the matter.

Representative Jerrold Nadler, the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, said that if the campaign finance case as laid out by prosecutors was true, Mr. Trump would likely meet the criteria for an impeachable offense.CreditJ. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press
Image
Representative Jerrold Nadler, the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, said that if the campaign finance case as laid out by prosecutors was true, Mr. Trump would likely meet the criteria for an impeachable offense.CreditJ. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press

Mr. Trump’s lawyers view that as unlikely if it is based solely on the current charges.

At the White House on Friday evening, staff members gathered for a holiday dinner with Mr. Trump and the first lady as if nothing were wrong. Mr. Trump’s advisers have told him that the latest filings do not present a danger to him legally, although they cautioned him that the political risks were hard to calculate, according to people familiar with the discussions.

One adviser said the president’s team had concluded that Mr. Trump was not likely to face a threat from prosecution in the New York case because if Mr. Cohen had more to deliver, then prosecutors would not be bringing him to court for sentencing in the coming week or requesting substantial prison time. Another adviser said that the Cohen threat appeared to be over.

For public consumption, at least, Mr. Trump and his Republican allies chose to focus on the Russia matter on Saturday, arguing again that no wrongdoing had been proved.

“On the Mueller situation, we’re very happy with what we are reading because there was no collusion whatsoever,” Mr. Trump told reporters at the White House. “The last thing I want is help from Russia on a campaign. You should ask Hillary Clinton about Russia.”

American intelligence agencies have said the Russians were in fact trying to aid Mr. Trump’s candidacy.

Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio, who will be the top Republican on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee in the new Congress, which begins next month, said he saw no reason conservatives should walk away from Mr. Trump given his record of policy achievements and questions about the impartiality of the president’s investigators.

“I always come back to the facts,” he said in an interview. “To date, not one bit of evidence of any type of coordination or conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia to influence the election.”

If prosecutors have conclusive evidence of conspiracy, they have not shown their hand. But the filings in recent days made clear that while Mr. Trump repeatedly insisted he had no business dealings in Russia, it was not without trying.

Mr. Trump’s business was pursuing a proposed Trump Tower in Moscow until June 2016, while Mr. Trump was locking up the Republican nomination and long after Mr. Cohen had previously said the project was dropped.

At the same time, Mr. Cohen, starting in November 2015, was in contact with a well-connected Russian who proposed “synergy on a government level” with the Trump campaign and proposed a meeting between Mr. Trump and President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia. The Russian said such a meeting could grease the way for the tower, telling Mr. Cohen that there was “no bigger warranty in any project than consent” by Mr. Putin.

In his own court memo, Mr. Mueller said that Mr. Cohen’s false account that the deal had collapsed in January 2016 was designed “in hopes of limiting the investigations into possible Russian influence on the 2016 U.S. presidential election — an issue of heightened national interest.”

The president’s lawyers have been deeply concerned that Mr. Trump could be portrayed as an unindicted co-conspirator in court documents. As he was preparing to submit written responses to questions from Mr. Mueller last month, Mr. Trump’s lawyers learned about language the special counsel wanted to include in a plea agreement with a conservative conspiracy theorist, who was under investigation for his links to WikiLeaks, which released Democratic emails that intelligence agencies said were stolen by Russian agents.

The document said that the conspiracy theorist, Jerome Corsi, understood that one of Mr. Trump’s associates, Roger J. Stone Jr., was “in regular contact with senior members of the Trump campaign, including with then-candidate Donald J. Trump,” when Mr. Stone asked Mr. Corsi to find out from the head of WikiLeaks what he had in store for the Clinton campaign.

Mr. Trump’s lawyers feared that Mr. Mueller was trying to cast Mr. Trump as an unindicted co-conspirator. Mr. Trump’s lawyers held off sending the answers and demanded a meeting with Justice Department officials and Mr. Mueller’s team, according to one person close to the president.

In a meeting at the Justice Department that was presided over by the principal associate deputy attorney general, Ed O’Callaghan, Mr. Trump’s lawyers — including Mr. Giuliani and Jay Sekulow — expressed concern to Mr. Mueller’s team. It was unclear what Mr. Mueller’s team said in response, but shortly thereafter Mr. Trump sent in his answers.

Mr. Corsi has declined to accept a plea deal and has not been charged with a crime.

Although Mr. Trump asserted on Saturday that he was “happy” with the latest filings, others did not agree. The Cohen information alone “puts impeachment on the table, and I can’t help but think that that is what this is barreling toward,” said Rob Stutzman, a California-based Republican strategist who has been critical of Mr. Trump. “Any other presidency at this point would have been done when their own Department of Justice filed something like that.”

But while the House can impeach a president on a majority vote, conviction in the Senate requires a two-thirds vote, meaning that unless at least 20 Republican senators abandon Mr. Trump, he is safe from removal. Despite the losses in the House last month, Republicans, if anything, have moved closer to the president.

While liberals are pressing Democrats to move on impeachment, party leaders remain wary, fearing a backlash. Representative Jamie Raskin of Maryland, a Democratic member of the Judiciary Committee, said the standard set during the impeachment of President Bill Clinton for lying under oath certainly puts Mr. Trump “in impeachment territory” because of the campaign finance issue.

“On the other hand,” he added, “in the compendium of Donald Trump’s offenses against the rule of law and the Constitution, this may not be in the top five.”

Maggie Haberman contributed reporting from New York, and Michael S. Schmidt from Washington.

A version of this article appears in print on  of the New York edition with the headline: Exposure on Election Laws a Challenge to Trump. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe

Paki PM Opens His Mouth And Removes All Doubt: He Is A Liar, Ignorant And A Fraud

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Pakistani PM denigrates Jesus, wants world convention to prevent insult to Islam

‘There is no mention of Jesus in history,’ says Imran Khan, ‘but the entire life of Muhammad, who was Allah’s last prophet, is part of history’

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan addresses the groundbreaking ceremony for the Kartarpur Corridor in Kartarpur on November 28, 2018. (Arif Ali/AFP)

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan addresses the groundbreaking ceremony for the Kartarpur Corridor in Kartarpur on November 28, 2018. (Arif Ali/AFP)

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has called for an international convention banning speech deemed insulting to Muslims and claimed there does not exist any historical “mention” of Jesus.

Khan, a former cricketer with a reputation as a playboy, whose first wife has Jewish roots, has worked to portray himself as a devout Muslim in recent years since becoming one of Pakistan’s most prominent political figures.

His growing popularity and selection as premier in the July elections — marred by accusations of military interference and vote-rigging — have come amid a backdrop of a growing movement in Muslim-majority Pakistan against alleged blasphemy.

In a speech on November 20 marking the Prophet Muhammad’s birthday, Khan denigrated prophets from Judaism and Christianity who are also revered in Islam, claiming that — unlike Muhammad — there was “no mention of them” in history.

“There were prophets of Allah other [than Muhammad], but there is no mention of them in human history. There is negligible mention of them. Moses is mentioned, but there is no mention of Jesus in history,” he said, according to a translation posted Thursday by the Middle East Media Research Institute.

“But the entire life of Muhammad, who was Allah’s last prophet, is part of history,” Khan added.

Embedded video

MEMRI

@MEMRIReports

Pakistani PM Imran Khan Says “No Mention of Jesus in History,” Announces Intl. Anti-Blasphemy Convention: The West Should Be Made to Understand Our Love for Muhammad

124 people are talking about this

Turning to periodic outbursts of anger over the publication of cartoons and other satirical portrayals of Muhammad, Khan said the often violent reactions were being used to tarnish Islam.

“Every few years, in some Western country, our dear Prophet is blasphemed against and dishonored. What is the consequence of this? Muslims become angry. We take to the streets in protest, [protesters] break things in our country… It enables the enemies of Muslims to tell people in the West: ‘See, Islam is a big religion that spreads violence,’” he said.

“They get an opportunity to spread propaganda against Islam.”

Khan credited the intervention of his foreign minister with the cancellation earlier this year of a Mohammad cartoon competition in the Netherlands planned by a far-right politician.

He also said Pakistan’s lobbying on the issue to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the United Nations was leading to less tolerance for alleged blasphemy in the West.

“Something happened that had never happened before. The European Union’s Human Rights Court said for the first time that you cannot hurt somebody’s religion under the pretext of freedom of speech, and especially it said that you cannot blaspheme against Muhammad’s honor,” he said.

Khan was referring to a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights last month that an Austrian court’s conviction of a woman for comparing Muhammad’s marriage to an underage girl to pedophilia was not a violation of her right to freedom of speech.

The Pakistani prime minister called for countries around the globe to adopt an “International Convention on Preventing the Defamation of Religions,” which he said would ensure that “freedom of speech cannot be used as a pretext to hurt the world’s 1.25 billion Muslims.”

Khan vowed Pakistan would play a leading role in this effort and “Allah willing… for the first time in the world get this convention signed.”

Pakistani protesters burn representation of Dutch flags during a protest to condemn the planned anti-Islam cartoon contest, in Karachi, Pakistan, on August 30, 2018. (AP/Fareed Khan)

Khan’s speech came amid unrest in Pakistan following the acquittal last month of a Christian woman who had previously been sentenced to death for blasphemy.

Asia Bibi’s case has inflamed radical Islamists, some of whom are calling for her death.

Pakistan’s Tehreek-e-Labbaik party launched nationwide protests demanding Bibi’s public execution and the party’s founder, Mohammad Afzal Qadri, called for the death of the three Supreme Court judges who ruled to acquit her. Qadri also called for the overthrow of the Pakistan government. Protests ended after the government agreed to a Supreme Court review. Khan has gone on national television saying that the Supreme Court’s decision will be final and upheld.

Agencies contributed to this report.

READ MORE:

GI Bill Drama: Underpaid Veterans A ‘Burden’ VA Will Not Pay Back By Benjamin Krause – November 29, 201816

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF BENJAMIN KRAUSE AND DISABLED VETERANS.ORG)

(V.A. FRAUD?)

The Department of Veterans Affairs is reversing on its pledge to pay veterans who received less money than what VA was required to pay under the Forever GI Bill system.

A VA spokesman says paying veterans monies owed due to the glitch would require too much work for the agency and be a “burden.” When asked about the legal justification for refusing to follow the law, that same spokesman asserted VA was justified but failed to provide the specific justification.

Attempting to implement the law would put “an enormous administrative burden for schools in which some 35,000 certifying officials would have to track retroactively and re-certify hundreds of thousands of enrollment documents,” Curt Cashour, the VA spokesman, said over email.

Cashour also said that students who were overpaid because of the law’s changes or because of issues in implementing the law “will not be held liable for the debt.”

Now, I usually poo-poo talk of a class action lawsuit since they are expensive and difficult to maintain, but this GI Bill glitch and the agency’s flouting of the law is a class action waiting to happen.

Can you imagine the amazing discovery attorneys could dig up about this boondoggle? Does VA really think no one will sue?

RELATED: VBA Chief Says Press Exaggerating Veterans’ Hardship Claims

GI BILL BACKGROUND

For the past decade, Congress has dumped billions of taxpayer dollars into VA coffers to fix its aging IT systems. As recently as 2013, VA paid over $200 million to create a new Post 9/11 GI Bill software processing system that was only half done. When Congress created the Forever GI Bill, VA was obligated to update its processing system, but attempts to update that expensive system were unsuccessful prior to the law going into effect.

Since October, VA has scrambled to fix a massive software glitch that prevents full implementation of the Forever GI Bill. Despite repeated promises by VA leadership, the rollout of software necessary to implement the new laws failed to work as advertised.

As a result, and despite millions in taxpayer dollars to fix the glitch, VA is still unable to get veterans paid at the appropriate amounts. The agency does not know how many veterans are impacted, supposedly, and it does not know how much money the agency is potentially saving by not implementing the new GI Bill appropriately.

RELATED: VA Disbanded Oversight Of Forever GI Bill Before Boondoggle

In a congressional hearing two weeks ago, VA refused to provide specifics about projected timelines for repair. VBA Undersecretary Paul Lawrence also said press reports were overblown where veterans were reportedly harmed by the agency’s failure to pay in time.

A 40-YEAR-OLD DATABASE?

We also learned VA was still using a 40-year-old computer data system as the bedrock of its cobbled GI Bill system. This revelation rubbed everyone the wrong way given the hundreds of millions Congress allocated to avoid exactly this problem years ago.

In a phone call, VA now asserts the Forever GI Bill will not be properly implemented until December 2019. “They are essentially going to ignore the law and say that that change only goes forward from Dec. 2019,” one aide told NBC News.

VA WILL NOT PAY

Now, unnamed VA insiders told Congress the agency no longer intends to pay veterans the monies they were entitled by the new law. The agency claims fixing the errors will require too much work and result in further backlogs.

RELATED: Can I Lose My 100 Percent Rating If I Get A Job?

So, where did the money go? It obviously did not go to appropriately update the GI Bill processing software. Did the tax dollars get siphoned off for other programs?

That is what I hear.

Stay informed on VA news, scandals and benefits. Get our daily newsletter via email.

17343

DisabledVeterans.org

Get our free daily newsletter.

Sign Up Now

Xi Jinping And His Habitual Liars Rattles Taiwan Ahead Of Elections

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE ALJAZEERA NEWS AGENCY)

 

‘Fake news’ rattles Taiwan ahead of elections

Beijing is test-driving propaganda techniques ahead of Taiwan’s largest-ever elections on Saturday, officials say.

by

President Tsai Ing-wen looks through a pair of binoculars during an anti-invasion drill last month [Tyrone Siu/Reuters]
President Tsai Ing-wen looks through a pair of binoculars during an anti-invasion drill last month [Tyrone Siu/Reuters]

Taipei, Taiwan – China is spreading “fake news” via social media to swing Taiwanese voters away from President Tsai Ing-wen’s party and behind candidates more sympathetic to Beijing ahead of elections, Taiwanese officials said.

Beijing is test-driving its techniques in Taiwan, where it has a big stake in the politics and understands the language and culture, but deployed its cyber-capacities in the United States, Australia and other democracies, the officials said.

“We received propaganda warfare coming from China for years, but this is taking a very different form,” Foreign Minister Joseph Wu, from Tsai’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), told Al Jazeera.

“It’s coming in not from newspapers or their propaganda machine but through our social media, online chat groups, Facebook, the zombie accounts set up, somewhere, by the Chinese government.”

Foreign Minister Joseph Wu, from Tsai’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party [James Reinl/Al Jazeera]

Comments from Wu and other DPP officials are in line with growing global fears that authoritarian China, like Russia, is meddling in foreign elections. Last month, US Vice President Mike Pence said Moscow’s effort “pales in comparison” to interference from Beijing.

Beijing’s mission to the UN did not respond to Al Jazeera’s interview request, but Chinese officials have previously rejected such claims as “confusing right and wrong and creating something out of thin air”.

‘Orchestrate misinformation’

Taiwanese voters go to the polls on Saturday to choose mayors and others in midterm elections that will reflect the popularity of the anti-Beijing DPP and Tsai, who is expected to seek re-election in 2020.

It will be Taiwan’s largest election ever with about 19 million voters, or 83 percent of the population, casting ballots for more than 11,000 officials.

False stories can be traced to foreign servers and back to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and it’s so-called “50 Cent Army” of online trolls and commentators, DPP politician Lo Chi-cheng told Al Jazeera.

They typically undermine Tsai, the DPP or Taiwan’s autonomy from the mainland, while stirring up historic grievances by which some voters support the DPP and others back its main rival, the pro-Beijing Kuomintang (KMT).

“The US, Australia, Germany and other countries are also addressing the issue as to how countries like Russia and China use disinformation to influence domestic and electoral politics in democracies like Taiwan,” said Lo.

“It’s a more serious problem because China is so close to Taiwan, language-wise. They don’t have the cultural or language barrier and can easily fabricate news and they know the mentality of Chinese thinking, so it’s easier for them to orchestrate this misinformation.”

DPP politician Lo Chi-cheng [James Reinl/Al Jazeera]

One story suggested that Tsai was flanked by armed soldiers when visiting flood victims in Chiayi County in August. Another said some of Taiwan’s last-remaining allied governments were about to abandon Taipei.

Another said China had bussed Taiwanese nationals to safety after typhoon Jebi killed 11 and injured thousands in Japan in September, and that Taipei had let its people down – a story that reportedly led to the suicide of a Taiwanese diplomat in Osaka.

Ahead of voting, police arrested several suspects for malicious story-sharing but, for Wu, the focus is on Taiwan’s government to counter fake news with quick, factual corrections. For Lo, plans to tighten media laws are controversial as they could violate free speech rules.

‘Entertainment’ news

Not everyone fears Beijing’s media reach, however. Eric Huang, an independent analyst with links to the KMT, said Taiwan’s voters have high rates of internet penetration and are used to the subjective news in mainstream Taiwanese media.

“Taiwanese news agencies are very editorial and opinionated along party lines already, so the people are used to biased news. They just view this information coming from China as entertainment,” Huang told Al Jazeera.

Justin Yu, a technology investor in downtown Taipei, echoed these thoughts, saying younger Taiwanese web-users are well acquainted with the competing narratives from Taipei and Beijing.

“When we were in elementary school, we were told we shouldn’t be so close to the Chinese government. Whenever we see the information, we hesitate and question whether it is real or not. I don’t think there’s a real problem and it doesn’t influence us much,” Yu told Al Jazeera.

Shoppers buy mobile phones in the capital, Taipei, which has one of the world’s highest rates of internet penetration [James Reinl/Al Jazeera]

Since the 2016 election of Tsai’s pro-independence DPP, Beijing has turned the screws on Taiwan, peeling away a handful of its remaining diplomatic allies, excluding it from global forums, and forcing airlines to classify Taiwan as part of China.

Three former allies – El Salvador, Dominican Republic and Burkina Faso – switched their allegiances to Beijing this year, and the Chinese military has stepped up encirclement drills around Taiwan, which Taipei has denounced as intimidation.

According to DPP officials, Beijing has reached deep into the breakaway island of 23 million people, sowing division and confusion through online disinformation, recruiting business figures, and funnelling cash to pro-Beijing politicians.

De facto independence

The Republic of China – Taiwan’s official name – relocated to the island in 1949 when Chiang Kai-shek’s nationalists fled the mainland after being defeated by Mao Zedong’s communists. It is now a democracy with de facto independence from Beijing.

Under its “one China” policy, the Beijing regards Taiwan as a renegade province that needs to be unified – by military force if necessary. Many analysts say China seeks to achieve the same end by flooding Taiwan with investment and buying off decision-makers.

The opposition KMT marks a continuation of Chiang’s legacy. DPP supporters typically highlight atrocities committed during Taiwan’s “white terror” and decades of martial law and call for independence from the mainland.

Last month, thousands of pro-independence demonstrators rallied in Taiwan’s capital to protest against Beijing’s “bullying” and called for a referendum on whether the self-ruled island should formally split from China.

Follow James Reinl on Twitter: @jamesreinl

South China Sea: The world's next big war?

UPFRONT

South China Sea: The world’s next big war?

SOURCE: AL JAZEERA NEWS

Republican Politicians And Their Sham Against Democracy

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HUFFINGTON POST)

 

Republicans Are Casting Doubt On Normal Election Processes For The Sake Of Winning

By characterizing basic safeguards as illegitimate, Rick Scott and President Trump are undermining democracy.
X

On Thursday night, two days after Election Day, Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) stood on the steps of the governor’s mansion in Tallahassee and unleashed a nuclear bomb aimed at the very foundation of democracy. Scott suggested there was “rampant fraud” in the state. “No ragtag group of liberal activists or lawyers from D.C.” was going to steal the election from Floridians, the governor said.

When Scott made his comments, Florida hadn’t even hit the deadline to submit unofficial election results to the state. Scott asked the state’s law enforcement agency to investigate his allegations, but the agency quickly said there was nothing to investigate.

That hasn’t stopped President Donald Trump from continuing to insist that there was fraud in the state. There is no evidence of fraud to support his claim.

Scott’s election night lead over Nelson has shrunk significantly, and the margin is now so slim that the state is in the midst of a legally required recount. But election experts say there’s nothing unusual or nefarious about vote tallies changing days after an election. Instead of letting election officials count the ballots as usual, the comments from Scott and Trump amount to an effort to undermine normal election processes.

Steven Huefner, a law professor at Ohio State University, wrote that it was “beyond unseemly” and “downright destructive of public trust in our elections” for election officials to attribute changing vote totals to nefarious actions.

Florida allows voters to cast ballots by mail and accepts them until 7 p.m. on Election Day. Election officials then have to verify signatures on the ballots in addition to determining whether provisional ballots cast on Election Day can count. That process can take time, which is why Florida and other states give counties time to conduct what’s called a canvass and review the votes. In Florida, the deadline for counties to submit unofficial results to the state was Saturday and the deadline for official results is Nov. 18.

“Results on election night, it’s actually never been final on election night. Ever in the history of our country. There’s always been this continuation of calculating the results and all that,” said Amber McReynolds, the former top elections official in Denver who is now the executive director of the National Vote at Home Institute, a group that advocates for voting by mail. “This is not new. Florida’s doing exactly what other states are doing right now. California has even more to count. But in California, there’s not a Republican that might win, so it’s not getting any attention.”

Charles Stewart, the director of the MIT Election Lab, noted that, in addition to trying to deal with mailed-in ballots, counties also had to tally their early votes. Florida law doesn’t allow officials to count early votes until after the polls have closed. Different counties may also tally at different speeds because of the equipment available, the kinds of ballots they receive and staffing, experts say.

Scott has complained that Brenda Snipes, the supervisor of elections in Broward County, refused to turn over information about how many ballots still needed to be tallied. He secured a court order on Friday requiring her to hand over the information.

Ned Foley, a law professor at Ohio State University, has studied the way that vote totals change during a canvass after Election Day. Those shifts tend to benefit Democrats and are a “relatively new phenomenon,” he said, because more people are voting by mail and Congress passed a law in 2002 requiring officials to offer provisional ballots.

“Both of those things have the effect of having ballots eligible to be counted but not available for counting on election night,” he said. “For demographic reasons, groups that tend to vote Democratic Party ― students, younger voters, more mobile voters ― you’re more likely to get caught up in the need for a provisional ballot if you’re just a more transient population.”

Subscribe to the Politics email.
How will Trump’s administration impact you?

Usually, shifts in vote counts after Election Day go unnoticed because they aren’t enough to overcome the initially reported margin of victory. But in Florida, the changing tally is getting scrutinized because the margin separating the candidates is so thin, Foley said. A similar process is playing out in Arizona, where election officials are still counting the ballots in close races for U.S. Senate and secretary of state.

California has even more to count. But in California, there’s not a Republican that might win, so it’s not getting any attention.Amber McReynolds, executive director of the National Vote at Home Institute

Trump tweeted Monday that Florida shouldn’t consider any of the votes tallied after election night, a move that would disenfranchise military voters whose ballots can be accepted until Nov. 16.  Scott’s campaign is also suing in state court to block officials in Broward County, a key bastion of Democratic votes, from officially counting any ballots that weren’t tallied by the state’s Saturday deadline for unofficial results.

Foley said the allegations of fraud and election stealing in Florida were particularly worrisome because there could be shifts of tens of thousands of votes during a presidential election. The allegations in Florida could serve as a prelude for a candidate to undermine the results in 2020. A key part of democracies, he said, is that the candidates accept the results of elections as legitimate.

“Every election has a winner and a loser, and the loser has to accept defeat,” he said. The loser “has to think that, even though they really wanted to win and thought they should have won ― or maybe even thought the vote-counting process was inaccurate in some respects ― that we can accept it.”

The talk of fraud got the attention of the chief state judge in Broward County, who urged lawyers for both campaigns who were in court Monday to “ramp down the rhetoric” about voter fraud.

Richard Hasen, a law professor at the University of California, Irvine, who specializes in elections, wrote in Slate that that kind of questioning of election results could lay the foundation for a constitutional crisis.

“If President Trump is ahead in his re-election bid on the night of the election, only to lose that lead as more ballots in larger — mostly Democratic — counties are counted through a normal process in the days and weeks after Election Day, it seems reasonable to be concerned that he will contest such a legitimate vote,” Hasen wrote. “We don’t know if he would even vacate his office in such a scenario, triggering the possibility of a real constitutional crisis.”