Trump appears to do bizarre impression of FBI agent having sex

Donald Trump appeared to perform an impression of former FBI agent Peter Strzok and attorney Lisa Page having sex while the president was in the middle of a speech during a rally in Minnesota on Thursday.

Mr Trump slammed his hand on the podium and shouted “I love you, Lisa,” and “I love you too, Peter” before moaning “Lisa, I love you, Lisa! Lisa! Oh, God, I love you Lisa!”

The president had previously called Mr Strzok a “sick loser” amid investigations by special counsel Robert Mueller into Russian meddling in US elections. Mr Mueller removed Mr Strzok from his team after discovering anti-Trump text messages between Mr Strzok and Ms Page, who had an affair.

The president has falsely claimed that the texts had been deleted and has frequently argued that the messages amount to “corruption” within an investigation that followed Hillary Clinton’s loss in the 2016 presidential election.

At his Minnesota rally, Mr Trump continued to mock the text messages: “And if she doesn’t win, Lisa, we’ve got an insurance policy, Lisa: we’ll get that son of a bitch out.”

[The Independent]

Media

Trump sues Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance over subpoena for his tax returns

President Donald Trump filed a lawsuit Thursday against Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, who subpoenaed Trump’s accounting firm for eight years of Trump’s personal and corporate tax returns earlier this month.

The subpoena stems from Vance’s criminal investigation into the Trump Organization about hush money payments made to two women who have alleged affairs with the president. Trump has strongly denied the affairs.

The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, names Vance and the president’s tax preparer, Mazars USA, as defendants. It argues that the Manhattan district attorney should not receive Trump’s tax returns because “‘[v]irtually all legal commenters agree’ that a sitting President of the United States is not ‘subject to the criminal process’ while he is in office.”

“The framers of our Constitution understood that state and local prosecutors would be tempted to criminally investigate the President to advance their own careers and to advance their political agendas,” the lawsuit adds. “And they likewise understood that having to defend against these actions would distract the President from his constitutional duties. That is why the Framers eliminated this possibility and assigned the task to supermajorities of Congress acting with the imprimatur of the nation as a whole.”

Jay Sekulow, the president’s lawyer, commented on the constitutionality of Vance’s probe in a statement Thursday, saying, “In response to the subpoenas issued by the New York County District Attorney, we have filed a lawsuit this morning in Federal Court on behalf of the President in order to address the significant constitutional issues at stake in this case.”

Vance’s spokesman Danny Frost said in response to the lawsuit,”We have received the plaintiff’s complaint and will respond as appropriate in court. We will have no further comment as this process unfolds in court.”

Vance’s office is probing hush money payments made during the 2016 election to adult film star Stormy Daniels and ex-Playboy model Karen McDougal, both of whom have alleged affairs with Trump, which he has denied.

In addition to Trump’s company, Vance’s office has also subpoenaed the publisher of the National Enquirer, The New York Times has reported. The publication was involved in negotiations with adult Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Giffords, and paid $150,000 to silence McDougal, according to federal prosecutors.

The president’s former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, admitted in August of last year to making an illegal $130,000 payment to Daniels in order to keep her quiet in the days ahead of the 2016 election. Cohen is currently serving a three-year prison sentence for tax evasion, bank fraud, breaking campaign finance laws with the hush money payments, and lying to Congress.

Prior to his congressional testimony earlier this year, Cohen released copies of two checks with the president’s signature, which he said was used to reimburse him for his payment to Daniels. NBC News has previously reported that Cohen was cooperating with prosecutors in the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office.

Last year, American Media Inc., the Enquirer’s parent company, entered into a nonprosecution agreement with federal prosecutors and admitted that it worked with the Trump campaign to buy the rights to the women’s stories in order to silence them. The practice, known in the industry as “catch-and-kill,” involves paying for the exclusive rights to stories with the intention of never actually publishing them.

At his sentencing last year, Cohen said that “time and time again, I felt it was my duty to cover up [Trump’s] dirty deeds.”

Trump tweeted after the sentencing that he “never directed Michael Cohen to break the law. He was a lawyer and he is supposed to know the law. It is called ‘advice of counsel,’ and a lawyer has great liability if a mistake is made. That is why they get paid.”

[NBC News]

Trump Quotes Lou Dobbs Going Off on FBI Over Comey: The Nation Is ‘Disgusted With the FBI’

President Donald Trump tonight watched and tweeted quotes from Fox Business’ Lou Dobbs going off on the FBI and the president’s critics.

Dobbs was speaking with Alan Dershowitz and asking about when people like James Comey will be held accountable.

At one point Dobbs said, “The ideal here is that we have a nation right now that is disgusted with the FBI. The corrupt leadership…”

Dershowitz said he agrees.

“We have a crisis of confidence in the number one law enforcement agency in this country,” Dobbs continued. “And they’re behaving as if it’s a game.”

Trump watched Dobbs tonight and tweeted that quote from the segment, as well as another quote from Dobbs railing against Democrats opposing the president who he said “choose to hate America”:

[Mediaite]

Trump suggests watchdog report shows Mueller probe was ‘illegal’

President Trump on Tuesday suggested without evidence that last week’s Justice Department inspector general (IG) report criticizing former FBI Director James Comey over his handling of official memos proved that the special counsel’s Russia investigation was “illegal.” 

Trump also falsely claimed that Robert Mueller’s report on Russian interference showed there was “no obstruction,” despite the special counsel not reaching a conclusion either way on whether the president obstructed the investigation.

“Based on the IG Report, the whole Witch Hunt against me and my administration was a giant and illegal SCAM,” Trump tweeted, using his common moniker for the Mueller investigation. 

Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz released a report on Thursday saying that Comey violated FBI policies and his employment agreement by mishandling memos detailing his conversations with Trump.

Comey gave one of the memos, which contained information about the ongoing investigation into ex-national security adviser Michael Flynn, to a friend with instructions for him to leak it to a journalist. Comey has defended his decision, saying he did it in part to trigger the appointment of a special counsel to oversee the Russia investigation.

The inspector general issued a scathing rebuke of Comey’s handling of sensitive investigative information.

“By not safeguarding sensitive information obtained during the course of his FBI employment, and by using it to create public pressure for official action, Comey set a dangerous example for the over 35,000 current FBI employees — and the many thousands more former FBI employees — who similarly have access to or knowledge of non-public information,” the inspector general wrote. 

Horowitz did not, however, recommend whether Comey should face charges, and Attorney General William Barr decided against prosecuting him for any criminal wrongdoing.

The report by the inspector general, who is currently investigating other aspects of the Russia probe, did not include any criticisms of the Mueller investigation itself.

After Comey leaked the memo about the February Flynn conversation, the Justice Department appointed Mueller as special counsel to investigate Russia’s election interference and whether the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia to interfere in the election.

Mueller concluded the investigation in March without finding evidence to charge associates of the campaign in a broader conspiracy with Russia. Mueller also did not reach a conclusion on whether Trump obstructed the probe, but Barr has since determined the evidence to be insufficient to accuse the president of criminal wrongdoing. 

House Democrats have sought to pick up threads from Mueller for further investigation, including the House Judiciary Committee, which launched a sprawling investigation into alleged obstruction and abuses of power by Trump earlier this year. The White House has accused Democrats of attempting a “do-over” of the special counsel’s probe.

[The Hill]

Trump Champions Faulty Legal Analysis From Fox News Commentator

Following the release of the Justice Department Inspector General’s report pertaining to the conduct of James Comey’s handling of government information, President Donald Trump has been relentlessly attacking the former FBI director. Despite the IG finding that Comey’s conduct violated FBI regulations but not any criminal statutes, Trump on Friday reiterated his belief that Comey should have been charged criminally, a conclusion which appears to be based on a fundamental misunderstanding of the relevant law.

“’They could have charged Comey with theft of government documents, 641 of the Criminal Code, because the IG found these were not his personal documents, these were government documents,’” Trump tweeted Friday, quoting from an article written by attorney and Fox News legal analyst Gregg Jarrett. “Comey’s claim that these were just his own personal recollections would not pass the laugh test, and the Inspector General just knocked that down.’”

While 18 U.S.C. 641 does make it a crime to “steal or knowingly convert” a government record “with intent to convert it to his use” or to convey it to another without authority, as Jarrett wrote, it is also only a part of any relevant analysis of the statute. Jarrett is a former defense attorney and adjunct law professor.

Attorney Bradley P. Moss, who specializes in national security, federal employment and security clearance law, responded by pointing out that the cited law is inapplicable to the circumstances at issue.

Moss is referring to the DOJ’s Resource Manual explanationdescribing the parameters of how 641 should and should not be applied, and reads as follows:

“[T]he [DOJ] Criminal Division believes that it is inappropriate to bring a prosecution under 18 U.S.C. § 641 when: (1) the subject of the theft is intangible property, i.e., government information owned by, or under the care, custody, or control of the United States; (2) the defendant obtained or used the property primarily for the purpose of disseminating it to the public; and (3) the property was not obtained as a result of wiretapping, (18 U.S.C. § 2511) interception of correspondence (18 U.S.C. §§ 1702, 1708), criminal entry, or criminal or civil trespass.”

According to Moss, Comey’s conduct clearly aligns with the exceptions laid out in the guidelines.

“Under this DOJ policy (which is not binding and could be ignored as a matter of discretion), the Comey Memoranda qualify as ‘intangible’ given that they exist solely as a memorialization of Comey’s conversations with the president,” Moss wrote in an email to Law&Crime explaining why the first prong of the guidelines in applicable to Comey’s conduct (the second and third prongs are self-evident).

Furthermore, the DOJ policy is specifically designed to protect whistle-blowers, stating that, “a government employee who, for the primary purpose of public exposure of the material, reveals a government document to which he or she gained access lawfully or by non-trespassory means would not be subject to criminal prosecution for the theft.”

Moss explained that while the criteria for defining a whistleblower is “malleable,” the section is essentially applicable to all persons seeking to divulge non-classified information for the purpose of informing the American public.

“The core premise is that Section 641 should not be used to prosecute unauthorized disclosures of information to the press that were done for transparency reasons,” Moss wrote, adding, “This policy in no way suggests prosecution is unwarranted under different statutory provisions if the information was classified, of course.”

[Law and Crime]

Trump Tweets Videos of Fox News Segments Trashing Comey, Decrying ‘Attempted Coup’

President Donald Trump‘s public complaints about Fox News this week have not stopped his his typical social media habit of sharing clips from the network.

Today he posted a number of videos from Fox News trashing former FBI director James Comey after the OIG report released yesterday. Comey was not charged, but he was criticized for setting a “dangerous example” with his actions.

This morning Trump shared a Fox & Friends segment with former CIA officer Bryan Dean Wright saying “in 2016, we had effectively a coup” going on:

This afternoon, he shared clips of both Congressmen Doug CollinsPeter King (who railed against an “attempted coup” too), and Jim Jordan:

[Mediaite]

White Supremacists Responsible for All Race-Based Domestic Terrorism Incidents in 2018 – DOJ Blocked Report

The Trump administration has known since at least April that alleged white supremacists were responsible for every single act of race-based domestic terrorism in the U.S. in 2018, yet not only took no action to combat the growing right wing violent extremism, but actually substantially reduced or even eliminated funding and programsthat combat white supremacist extremism, violence, and terrorism – and then blocked the data from reaching the hands of Congress.

“Domestic Terrorism in 2018,” a document (embedded below) prepared by the State of New Jersey’s Office of Homeland Security Preparedness, “shows 25 of the 46 individuals allegedly involved in 32 different domestic terrorism incidents were identified as white supremacists,” Yahoo News’ Jana Winter and Hunter Walker report.

That document finds there were “32 domestic terrorist attacks, disrupted plots, threats of violence, and weapons stockpiling by individuals with a radical political or social agenda who lack direction or influence from foreign terrorist organizations in 2018.”

The report was “circulated” throughout the U.S. Dept. of Justice “and around the country in April just as members of the Senate pushed the DOJ to provide them with precise information about the number of white supremacists involved in domestic terrorism.”

The Justice Department, under President Trump’s hand-picked Attorney General Bill Barr, refused to hand over the data or the document to Congress.

Meanwhile, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) in January of 2019 had already compiled a report, announcing that, “Right-Wing Extremism Linked to Every 2018 Extremist Murder in the U.S., ADL Finds.”

ADL reported that “Right-wing extremists were linked to at least 50 extremist-related murders in the United States in 2018, making them responsible for more deaths than in any year since 1995, according to new data from the ADL.”

1995 was the year domestic terrorist Timothy McVeigh blew up the Oklahoma City federal building, slaughtering 168 people and injuring more than 680 others.

“The tally represents a 35 percent increase from the 37 extremist-related murders in 2017,” ADL reported, “making 2018 the fourth-deadliest year on record for domestic extremist-related killings since 1970. Last year saw the highest percentage of right-wing extremist-related killings since 2012, the last year when all documented killings were by right-wing extremists.”

Why the Dept. of Justice and the White House blocked the data from reaching Congress is now yet another investigation Congress should take up.

Here’s the document the DOJ refused to hand over to Members of the House and Senate:

[New Civil Rights Movement]

Trump Quotes Fox & Friends Celebration: Mueller Hearing ‘Changed Everything’ … Trump ‘Wins’

President Donald Trump and Fox & Friends celebrated together on Thursday morning in response to Robert Mueller’s less-than-stellar appearance before Congress.

Mueller drew headlines when he stated that his special counsel report showed how Trump welcomed Russian election interference in 2016, that the president was not exonerated on obstruction of justice, and that Trump could be charged with a crime once he’s out of office. However, the special counsel’s constant referrals to his written words, inability to answer certain questions, and shaky performance dashed expectations that he would breathe life into an impeachment groundswell.

As Fox & Friends recapped the hearings, Ainsley Earhardt said it was “clear he was not in charge of his investigation” and his testimony “changed nothing.” Brian Kilmeadefollowed up by remarking on the setbacks to the possibility of impeachment, and Steve Doocyremarked that Mueller “did not know what was in his own report.”

Trump was clearly watching this morning, because he quote-tweeted the trio’s 6 a.m. opening segment, during which Earhardt said, “Yesterday changed everything, it really did clear the President. He wins.”

The curvy couch continued to break down the “disaster” of a hearing and call it “a great day for the president,” Kilmeade especially tore into Mueller for punting on many of the questions that came his way. When he arrived at the obstruction of justice matter, he said “I think you could sum up the obstruction part of the Mueller report: Trump being Trump.”

“Even if you did not rob the bank, if they are going to investigate you for robbing the bank, you got to wonder why are they questioning everyone around me for something I didn’t do? What does Trump do? He fights you every step of the way…If you say something wrong, he will call you out, and that’s what this.”

[Mediaite]

Trump fumes about Cuomo, New York A.G. over state investigations

President Donald Trump on Monday accused New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo of using the state’s attorney general, Letitia James to target his businesses for political purposes, claiming in an afternoon tweet storm that the state sues “for everything” and is “always in search of a crime.”

“It is very hard and expensive to live in New York,” Trump began. “Governor Andrew Cuomo uses his Attorney General as a bludgeoning tool for his own purposes. They sue on everything, always in search of a crime. I even got sued on a Foundation which took Zero rent & expenses & gave away more money than it had.”

Speaking on a conference call with reporters, Cuomo said Monday that he had not yet seen Trump’s tweets, but added “nothing that man can say can surprise me.”

“He says the most absurd things,” Cuomo said, adding that Trump’s “strength is not fact or truth.”

Hillary Clinton also fired back, defending the Clinton Foundation and noting that the New York Attorney General had found that the president’s own foundation engaged in a “shocking pattern of illegality.”

The governor said the only person who has increased taxes on the state is the president, through his tax bill’s elimination of state and local tax — known as SALT — deductions for higher-taxed states.

“He doesn’t understand how government works,” Cuomo said, adding that “maybe his attorney general is a tool” and noting that the New York attorney general is elected.

“His suggestion that it’s my attorney general is incorrect,” he said.

Of the state investigation, Cuomo said of Trump, “If he has nothing to hide, he has nothing to worry about.”

James tweeted soon after on Monday afternoon, saying that as “the elected AG of NY, I have a sworn duty to protect & uphold state law.”

“My office will follow the facts of any case, wherever they lead,” she continued. “Make no mistake: No one is above the law, not even the President. P.S. My name is Letitia James. (You can call me Tish.)”

Late last year Trump’s charitable foundation agreed to dissolve and give away its assets to other nonprofit organizations as a result of the New York attorney general probe, which began under Eric Schneiderman. At the time, Schneiderman’s successor as attorney general, Barbara Underwood, said the nonprofit had exhibited a “shocking pattern” of illegality.

That deal did not stop the civil lawsuit Underwood filed against the foundation last year from proceeding. The New York attorney general’s office continued to seek nearly $3 million in restitution and additional fines as part of the suit, as well as a ban on Trump’s leading a New York nonprofit for the next decade and placing one-year bans on the charity’s other board members, which include the president’s adult children.

Trump has repeatedly clashed with Schneiderman through the years and later publicly criticized Underwood and James, claiming their investigations were politically motivated. The office has led significant investigations into not only his charity, but also into Trump University, the president’s defunct real estate education venture.

Shortly after her election in November, James, a Democrat, vowed to “use every area of the law” to probe Trump, his family and associates, and his business. The office of attorney general has sweeping investigatory and prosecutorial powers to do just that.

Earlier this year, James subpoenaed Trump’s banks, seeking information about the Trump Organization and the president’s finances. Trump dismissed those efforts as “presidential harassment” and tweeted that James “openly campaigned on a GET TRUMP agenda.”

James opened that probe, a civil inquiry, after Michael Cohen, the president’s former attorney, testified to Congress in February that Trump inflated the worth of his assets in financial statements that he provided to banks to secure loans.

Trump has repeatedly claimed that people and businesses are leaving New York state in record numbers. It’s true that people are leaving New York state in record numbers — according to Census data — but it’s hard to gauge departing businesses. There’s some anecdotal evidence that some businesses might be leaving the Big Apple, but there is also evidence that more than 10,000 businesses open and close each year in the state

[NBC News]

Trump Stuns Maria Bartiromo By Accusing Mueller of Crimes in Wild Rant: ‘That’s Illegal! That’s a Crime!’

President Donald Trump railed against Robert Mueller’s upcoming testimonythroughout his interview with Fox Business on Wednesday, but towards the end, he cranked it up to 11 and went off on a tangent accusing the special counsel of numerous crimes.

Trump once again accused the FBI of improperly spying on his campaign before lashing into “the two pathetic lovers” Lisa Page and Peter Strzok.

“Well, Peter Strzok and Lisa Page wrote everything down, so we’ve got all the texts,” Bartiromo said.

That’s when Trump went wild and claimed there were more exchanges between the Strzok and Page that Mueller concealed. Bartiromo tried multiple times to interject with a question, but the president charged along:

“Wait till you see the rest of their – here’s the problem, Robert Mueller, they worked for him, and two lovers were together and they had texts back-and-forth, e-mail back-and-forth…Mueller terminated them illegally. He terminated the emails, he terminated all stuff between Strzok and Page, you know, they sung like you’ve never seen. Robert Mueller terminated their text messages together, he terminated them. They’re gone! And that’s illegal! That is a crime!”

Bartiromo nodded along, a little perplexed, before asking why the alleged crimes had not been discussed in courts. Trump responded “I guess it will be, and the Republicans know it.”

“Can you imagine what they said – how stupid they are – can you imagine what they said, these stupid lovers,” Trump continued. “He’s trying to show what a big man he is making statements, and she is back to him ‘oh yes darling, yes darling.’ How stupid they were, this was a love serenade going on.”

Bartiromo tried once more to ask why no one has seen this after Trump gave Attorney General William Barr clearance to declassify, but the president switched gears — grumbling about his approval ratings getting bogged down by “phony charges.”

[Mediaite]

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