NEW: Trump doorman Dino Sajudin releases statement: "I was instructed not to criticize President Trump's former housekeeper due to a prior relationship she had with President Trump which produced a child.” (via @soniamoghe)
Trump's Lawyer Appears to Have Been Sitting on All Sorts of Sleaziness
https://www.gq.com/story/trumps-lawyer- ... sleaziness
Donald J. Trump
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There is a Revolution going on in California. Soooo many Sanctuary areas want OUT of this ridiculous, crime infested & breeding concept. Jerry Brown is trying to back out of the National Guard at the Border, but the people of the State are not happy. Want Security & Safety NOW!
Ex-Playboy Model, Freed From Contract, Can Discuss Alleged Trump Affair
By JIM RUTENBERG
APRIL 18, 2018
Karen McDougal settled her case against a tabloid company that in 2016 suppressed her story about an alleged affair with Donald J. Trump. Jeff Kravitz/Getty Images
The tabloid news company American Media Inc. agreed to let a former Playboy model out of a contract that had kept her from talking freely about an alleged affair with Donald J. Trump, her lawyer said.
The settlement agreement, reached Wednesday, ends a lawsuit brought by the model, Karen McDougal, and protects the president from being drawn into a legal case involving efforts to buy the silence of women who had stories to tell about him during the 2016 campaign.
He still faces another lawsuit, from the pornographic film star Stephanie Clifford, who is suing to get out of a deal that Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, arranged in 2016 for her silence about an alleged affair.
In August 2016 American Media, which owns The National Enquirer, acquired the rights to Ms. McDougal’s story about Mr. Trump — which it never ran — in return for $150,000 and commitments to use its magazines to promote her current career as a fitness specialist.
Under the terms of Wednesday’s settlement, American Media has the right to up to $75,000 of any future profits from her story about the alleged affair, which Mr. Trump denies. According to her lawyer, Peter K. Stris, Ms. McDougal can keep the $150,000 payment and the publisher will retain the rights to photographs of her that it already has. American Media said that it also maintained the right to publish columns about Ms. McDougal.
“It’s a total win,” Mr. Stris said in an interview. “We got everything we were fighting for — she got out of the contract, gets the life rights back and owes A.M.I. nothing more.”
In a separate interview, Ms. McDougal expressed elation about the end of her “wild ride,” and said she currently had no plans to sell the rights to her story to a new buyer. “It’s one step at a time for me,” she said. “Today, I’m doing my victory dance.”
Ms. McDougal’s lawsuit said that American Media, whose chairman, David J. Pecker, is a friend of President Trump’s, misled her into signing the contract. It also alleged that Mr. Cohen had inappropriately intervened in the deal.
The deal, and the extent of Mr. Cohen’s role in it, are subjects of a wide-ranging federal corruption investigation that is, in part, looking into his efforts to protect Mr. Trump’s presidential prospects in 2016.
American Media indicated earlier this month that it would fight Ms. McDougal, asking the Los Angeles Superior Court to dismiss her lawsuit.
But that was roughly a week before federal investigators obtained email communications, audio recordings and other documentation from Mr. Cohen during their raid of his office, home and hotel room. Those materials included information about American Media and the McDougal suit, people involved in the case said.
The suit also claimed that Mr. Cohen had been secretly involved in the talks between A.M.I. and Ms. McDougal’s lawyer at the time, Keith Davidson — who emailed Mr. Cohen at the end of the talks. A.M.I. also spoke with Mr. Cohen about Ms. McDougal, though it says it did so only as part of its reporting process.
Mr. Stris said on Wednesday that before reaching the settlement he was prepared to answer American Media’s motion to dismiss Ms. McDougal’s case with a request for a limited version of pretrial discovery, in which both sides would have been compelled to share emails and other records that could have provided information about the deal from inside American Media that would not be available through the material the F.B.I. seized from Mr. Cohen. Mr. Stris said he would ask to submit written questions to Mr. Trump, and ask for several internal documents.
The settlement precludes any of that from happening, at least in Ms. McDougal’s civil case, though Mr. Stris said he expected federal investigators to eventually secure everything they need to fully vet the process behind the deal. “I have tremendous confidence in the men and woman of the Southern District of New York,” he said, referring to the federal prosecutors investigating Mr. Cohen.
The initial deal precluded Ms. McDougal from speaking about her affair with Mr. Trump, but A.M.I. amended the contract after the election to allow her to answer “legitimate press inquiries,” in response to her complaints that the agreement was overly restrictive. In recent weeks, she has spoken to The New Yorker and Anderson Cooper of CNN.
Separate from the federal investigation into Mr. Cohen, A.M.I. is facing a complaint at the Federal Election Commission that its $150,000 payment to Ms. McDougal was an illegal campaign expenditure. The publisher has denied this, saying it was acting solely as a news organization with a First Amendment right to run stories — or not run them — as it chooses.
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/18/us/p ... ement.html
Manafort was just two urinals away from me in the bathroom.
He didn’t wash his hands.
Meet David Pecker,the owner of the National Enquirer. The rag has let ex-Playboy model Karen McDougal out of her NDA about her affair with Trump .Fearing what disclosure in the case would bring to light,Pecker pulled out.
‘NOW WE WAIT FOR THE COVER-UP’
Are the Feds Treating the White House Like a Mob House?
‘Absolutely they’re dumb enough to talk,’ said one current FBI employee about the men and women surrounding Trump.
06.08.17 1:00 AM ET
It’s no accident your phone lights up nearly every night with new revelations about Team Trump’s connections to Russia. So many different investigators with so many different agendas are looking into so many different parts of that nexus, it would be almost impossible for word not to leak out.
But there’s an explanation for at least some of the leaks that’s a little more cunning than the rest—one that might bring some actual resolution. Four current and former law enforcement officials believe prosecutors have been treating Trump and his associates like a criminal network, and subjecting them to an array of time-tested law enforcement tricks.
One of those tricks involves floating names of potential targets of the investigation, to try and get potential co-conspirators to turn on one another. Another, called “tickling the wire,” entails strategically leaking information to try and provoke targets under surveillance into saying something dumb, or even incriminating.
“You want people to freak out, to say, ‘are they talking about me? Is this me? What do they know?’—and you want them to do this in a way that is captured,” one former FBI official said about the Russia investigation.
“Now we wait for the cover up.”
Trump and his associates are facing an array of potential legal troubles. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, former national security adviser and retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, and Trump’s son-in-law and top aide Jared Kushner all failed to mention their meetings with Russian officials on their security clearance applications; such omissions are considered felony crimes. Flynn and former campaign chair Paul Manafort declared only after the fact their lobbying work advanced the interests of foreign governments, despite regulations requiring the immediate disclosure of such lobbying work. Federal and local investigators are examining Manafort’s real-estate transactions, and a grand jury is now looking into Flynn’s influence-for-hire business. Then there’s the specter of obstruction of justice charges over Trump’s firing of FBI director Jim Comey—the man who was leading the investigation into his Russia ties. (Robert Mueller, his predecessor at the FBI, has been named as a special counsel and is now helming the case, which has expanded to encompass Flynn and Manafort’s lobbying.)
Trump’s new lawyer, Marc Kasowitz, may say his client has been “totally vindicated” by the written testimony of Comey, who noted, in as narrow language as possible, that Trump wasn’t personally under investigation. That doesn’t make Kasowitz’s statement true.
“We are only at the beginning of this. There’s too much smoke for there to be no fire. Criminal acts and cover ups usually unfold just like this. This doesn’t mean there was collusion. It means crimes were committed somewhere along the way and now people are trying to find ways to distance themselves while keeping appearances like they are all friends,” a former FBI official said.
One technique for pulling those friends apart: Leak information on who may be a target of the investigation. “It’s a way to get other rats to run in and say, ‘me first, me first,’” said Charles Clayman, a veteran New York City criminal defense attorney who began his career as a local and federal prosecutor. “There’s always a race to the courthouse, because there’s no honor among thieves. The idea is to make other co-conspirators think the race has already begun.”
Stories that don’t name names—like a recent Washington Post piece noting that a senior Trump adviser was a subject of interest in the Russia probe—can be particularly helpful in provoking targets and getting tips, according to three current and former FBI sources.
“It is not a coincidence that those stories [about the subjects of interest] hit as Air Force One was wheels up on a very long flight to Riyadh,” said a former FBI official with knowledge of aspects of the current investigation.
“That’s of course about turning up the heat. You create friction between Trump’s people while they’re stuck in a confined space for 16-plus hours.”
By the end of the trip, Kushner had not only been identified in other press reports as that White House subject of interest but the White House then all but confirmed that he had proposed a secret backchannel to the Kremlin—using the Russians’ own communication gear.
(The FBI and Justice Department didn’t respond to requests for comment for this story.)
The prosecutorial leaks can become doubly effective when the targets are undisciplined, and under surveillance.
That’s what happened in 1989, when federal prosecutors sent subpoenas to Gambino crime boss John Gotti and his associates to testify in an incoming trial. The feds were hoping Gotti would flip out—and he did, all-but-admitting to obstructing justice while agents listened in. “Nobody is taking the stand!” Gotti screamed, according to the book Mob Star by Gene Mustain and Jerry Capeci. “You go in there and break their fuckin’ heads. Don’t worry about us. Go in and fight!”
It was a classic example of tickling the wire—pushing out information to skittish targets, and then listening to what they say next. And in Gotti’s case, it worked. The so-called Teflon Don was arrested on charges of murder, bribery, loansharking, tax evasion, and obstruction of justice in late 1990, and sentenced to life in prison in 1992.
Former federal prosecutor Edward McDonald worked on public corruption and mob cases, including the famous Lufthansa heist case. He recalled another example of tickling the wire, from back in 1986, while building a public corruption case against Bronx Congressman Mario Biaggi and Brooklyn Democratic leader Meade Esposito. “You can’t conduct electronic surveillance forever,” he explained; ordinarily, a judge only authorizes such eavesdropping for a few weeks or months at a time. On the final day of the surveillance they had the FBI go into the congressman’s office and ask about his relationship with Esposito. Panicked phone calls followed, which were captured on the wiretaps.
Such methods have continued to be used in public corruption, organized crime, and insider trading cases, McDonald said.
But he added that it’s unlikely Trump is under similar pressure at this moment.
“If you’re tickling the wire you have to have a wire,” McDonald said. In a criminal investigation, at least, a judge would have to find probable cause that people in the Trump orbit were discussing criminal acts. “I don’t know if they are that stupid.”
FBI officials, current and former, disagreed. “Absolutely they’re dumb enough to talk,” said one current FBI employee about the men and women surrounding Trump.
Even if the targets are somewhere south of genius, tickling the wire can be a risky proposition, noted David C. Gomez, a former assistant special agent in charge of the FBI’s Seattle field office. Leak the wrong information, and the target now knows that he or she is under surveillance.
“You can jeopardize an investigation that way,” he said. And Mueller, who is now leading the Justice Department’s FBI probe, has a reputation for being careful—and tight-lipped. “I don’t think Mueller would want to be that provocative until all his i’s are dotted and his t’s are crossed.”
But Trump and his team have previously made multiple claims of being monitored (or “tapped,” as the president so famously tweeted). And of course, this is no ordinary criminal probe.
Over the past year, at least a half-dozen different organizations have deployed investigators to look into the potential nexus between Team Trump and Camp Putin. There’s the House and Senate Intelligence Committees, each with its own separate probe; the corporate intelligence shops, like the one that eventually compiled the infamous “Golden Showers” dossier; the cybersecurity firms who found much of the technical evidence linking the hacking of the DNC to Russian crews; the U.S. intelligence agencies, which have uncovered previously-undisclosed contacts between Trump confidants and Russian government officials; and finally, the multi-pronged, far-flung Justice Department investigation, now under Mueller’s direction.
Any one of these outfits—or any combination of them—could contribute to any single leak about the Trump-Russia axis.
Take another recent story in The Washington Post, chronicling how the Russian ambassador to the United States Sergei Kislyak called his superiors in Moscow about the highly unusual proposal—a call that eavesdroppers in U.S. intelligence apparently picked up. Did that mean someone in American intelligence compromised their surveillance program? Or was Kislyak talking about Kushner, knowing an American ear was listening in? In other words, Gomez wondered, “Was Kislyak doing his own version of tickle the wire?”
Gomez isn’t the only law enforcement professional who raised that possibility, but he was the only one willing to say so on the record.
The two former law-enforcement officials said “the deluge of leaks” about Trump and Russia since Comey’s firing is about trying to shake things loose, to pressure White House staffers still in Washington, D.C., to come forward and report criminal activity.
Those leaks, sources said, played to Trump’s ego, appetite for cable news, and tendency to veer toward paranoia.
“Who is under investigation… and who is cooperating and are their conversations being monitored? Those are the questions you’d want the president to be thinking about,” said one government official, declining repeatedly to offer answers to any of those questions.
Could this all change as Mueller takes full control of the investigation? Or if Christopher Wray, Trump’s pick to run the FBI, gets installed atop the bureau? Sure it could.
For now, however, the drip-drip-drip continues. One intelligence official and one law enforcement official, both currently serving, said that government officials have openly talked about using leaks to undermine the performance of the president, and to create infighting and a distracted senior staff. Given the president’s ham-fisted responses to the—like his near-admission that he leaked sensitive Israeli intelligence to top Russian officials—it’s a tactic that appears to have worked rather well.
As one former FBI official said, “Trump just went way too far.”
Trump lawyer Michael Cohen sues BuzzFeed for publishing Steele dossier
by Alex Johnson / Jan.09.2018 / 8:51 PM ET / Updated Jan.10.2018 / 7:20 AM ET
A personal lawyer for President Donald Trump filed a defamation action against the website BuzzFeed on Tuesday for publishing a 35-page dossier alleging that Donald Trump's presidential campaign colluded with Russia.
https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/tr ... er-n836331
Cohen drops libel suits against BuzzFeed, Fusion GPS
JOSH GERSTEIN04/19/2018 07:58 AM EDT
Michael Cohen abandoned the suits as he continues to fight to recover documents seized from his home, office and hotel room last week by federal authorities. | Yana Paskova/Getty Images
Embattled attorney Michael Cohen has dropped a pair of much-touted libel suits against BuzzFeed and the private investigation firm Fusion GPS over publication of the so-called dossier detailing alleged ties between President Donald Trump and Russia.
Cohen abandoned the suits late Wednesday as he continues to fight to recover documents and electronic files seized from his home, office and hotel room last week by federal authorities as part of what appears to be a broad criminal investigation into his conduct.
"The decision to voluntarily discontinue these cases was a difficult one," Cohen's attorney David Schwartz said. "We believe the defendants defamed my client, and vindicating Mr. Cohen’s rights was — and still remains — important. But given the events that have unfolded, and the time, attention, and resources needed to prosecute these matters, we have dismissed the matters, despite their merits."
The dossier claims that Cohen met with Russian operatives somewhere in Europe, including Prague, to attend a meeting to “clean up the mess” created by public disclosures of other Trump associates’ reported ties to Russia.
Cohen denied the Prague meeting occurred.
Dropping the suits could help Cohen avoid being questioned by lawyers from Fusion GPS or having to turn over evidence related to the case — both steps that could undercut his defense in the criminal probe.
The move could also bolster Cohen's effort to delay a suit brought in Los Angeles by porn star Stormy Daniels, who claims to have had a sexual encounter with Trump about a decade ago. It could have been difficult for Cohen to convince that judge to put Daniels' case on hold while Cohen continued to press civil suits in other federal courts.
https://www.politico.com/story/2018/04/ ... uit-537327
Michael Cohen and Prosecutors Unveil Picks for Privilege Master
April 18, 2018 ADAM KLASFELD
Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s personal attorney, arrives at federal court, on April 16, 2018, in New York. A U.S. judge will hear more arguments about Trump’s extraordinary request that he be allowed to review records seized from Cohen’s office as part of a criminal investigation before they are examined by prosecutors. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
MANHATTAN (CN) – Prosecutors named three retired federal judges Wednesday who could ensure that the investigation of President Donald Trump’s attorney Michael Cohen does not breach attorney-client privilege.
Retired magistrates Frank Maas and Theodore Katz now both work at the private dispute-resolution company JAMS, after roughly four decades of combined experience on the federal bench.
James Francis IV is retired federal magistrate as well who now works as an academic at CUNY Law School.
In contrast to this trio, however, the four candidates Cohen’s legal team suggested just before midnight are all attorneys in private practice.
The first choice, Guidepost Solutions chairman Bart Schwartz, once worked as a prosecutor for then-U.S. Attorney Rudy Giuliani, who later became a New York City mayor and top Trump surrogate.
Ropes & Gray partner Joan McPhee, the only woman of the group and a fellow ex-prosecutor under Giuliani, represented an engineer accused of obstruction of justice in the Deepwater Horizon spill; her client’s charges were dropped three weeks before trial.
Another nominee, Park Jensen Bennett founding partner Tai Park, went to blows against New York federal prosecutors here as defense counsel to Chinese billionaire Ng Lap Seng, who was convicted in a high-profile corruption case involving the United Nations.
Cohen’s final candidate, George S. Canellos, was a Securities and Exchange Commission enforcer whose current partnership at Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy stoked controversy about the revolving door between Wall Street and its regulators.
Representatives for Schwartz, Park and McPhee declined to comment for this article; Cannellos did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Noting the bipartisan appeal of all the candidates, Norm Eisen, a former ethics czar for President Barack Obama, said they would pass muster for the position.
“They’re dipping into the rich pool of capable lawyers,” Eisen said in an interview.
“The names on the Cohen list are respected people from respected institutions or firms, often with Democratic ties in the case of Mr. Cannellos.”
That seal of approval carries particular weight because Eisen heads the anti-corruption watchdog Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, which brought a federal complaint here over Trump’s business entanglements under the emoluments clause of the Constitution.
“When you take somebody who is more familiar with defense practice, they at least have the capacity to see the world as a defense lawyer does, to see why the attorney-client privilege is the way it is,” Eisen said.
“On the government side, this is what magistrate judges do,” he added. “Every one of these judges on the list has likely held hundreds, thousands of evidentiary hearings on motions to suppress evidence.”
Though U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood called at a hearing earlier this week for both sides to name nominees, she made clear that she remains undecided on the necessity of appointing a so-called “special master” in charge of privilege issues.
“I have faith in the Southern District U.S. Attorney’s Office that their integrity is unimpeachable,” Wood said Monday.
“So, I think that a taint team is a viable option,” she added later. “In terms of perception of fairness, not fairness itself, but perception of fairness, a special master might have a role here. Maybe not the complete role, but some role.”
Elizabeth de la Vega, a former federal prosecutor from the Northern District of California, predicted that this perception would prompt Judge Wood to select one of the prosecution’s magistrates, if she appointed any special master.
“Cohen’s legal team’s selection of attorneys in private practice was not a smart move, especially since at least three out of the four have ties to Rudy Giuliani,” she said in an email.
De la Vega also noted that Park, the third, was tapped by Giuliani to the New York City Civilian Complaint Review Board in 2001.
“Because it is Cohen and Trump who are seeking the special master – and the government opposes any appointment – the judge would be particularly averse to appointing one who might have a bias,” de la Vega wrote.
“Retired magistrate-judges would likely be far more appealing choices to Judge Wood here,” she continued. “They are known quantities, part of the federal ‘judicial family’ and have vast experience in resolving disputes of all kinds, including privilege issues.”
Proposing a court date of May 25 to discuss the status of the case, deputy U.S. Attorney Robert Khuzami noted that appointing a special master would delay the investigation until at least late June.
“In contrast, the government’s filter team could begin reviewing the materials – materials it lawfully obtained pursuant to a judicially authorized search warrant – this month (April), as the electronic device images become available on a rolling basis,” prosecutors wrote in a 2-page letter today.
Should Judge Wood appoint a special master, prosecutors urged that she choose the ex-magistrates on their list, whom they note “have many years of experience in resolving disputes on the issue of privilege in the context of criminal investigations.”
De la Vega said that Wood may choose a “split the apple” options.
“If the court grants the Cohen/Trump team’s motion for a special master, then the special master appointed should be one chosen by the other side, the government,” she added.
https://www.courthousenews.com/michael- ... ge-master/
A day before the 75th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, a U.S. president messaged 50 million people to complain that certain "infested" areas of his country are serving as "breeding" sites for a minority population he disfavors.
The same tweet urges a "revolution" to restore "safety and security" to the nation. This is the same week the head of Cambridge Analytica's parent company said Trump's rhetoric is powerful because it intentionally mirrors Hitler's.
This is a terrifying moment in U.S. history.
By Jay Bookman
Opinion: Right there in the middle of 5th Avenue
April 20, 2018
By JESS KIDDEN
WASHINGTON -- Congressional Republicans and conservative leaders rallied around President Trump Friday, attempting to minimize political damage after Trump shot down a man in the middle of Fifth Avenue in New York City.
“I’m not going to put myself in the position of having to respond to every presidential shooting,” House Speaker Paul Ryan said in a hastily called press conference at the Capitol, surrounded by members of his leadership team. “I just happen to think it’s important to keep our focus where it belongs, on enacting a conservative, pro-growth agenda that regular Americans care about, such as tax cuts for the rich and the repeal of Medicare.”
Privately, however, at least some Republican members expressed concern about the long-term political impact of such incidents, especially with midterms looming in less than seven months.
“I think that each elected Republican has to make a series of decisions, day in and day out, about whether they find the president's conduct acceptable and to what extent it's appropriate to work with him,” as one frustrated GOP congressman put it, demanding anonymity so he could speak freely. “This shooting is fine for Trump -- he’s not on the ballot this fall -- but he’s putting the rest of us in a really tough position.”
The reaction was similar among Senate Republicans.
“I think we should criticize the president when he’s done something wrong, and applaud him when he’s done something right,” said U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, who nonetheless refused to condemn the shooting directly. “The president and I are scheduled to play golf together next week,” Graham said. “If I have concerns -- and I’m not saying I do -- I think it’s more appropriate to express them to the president in private.”
Others, however, were more blunt. Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee and Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona quickly introduced a resolution warning the president of potential censure should he again pull out a gun and shoot somebody. They withdrew that measure after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made it clear that he would not bring it to a floor vote, calling it “divisive”and “unnecessary.”
“I’ve been assured by people in the White House that there are no plans to shoot anybody else, at least not at this point,” McConnell said.
The victim, attorney Michael Avenatti, was shot twice in the back as he left the studios of NBC News at Rockefeller Center after an interview. According to doctors at Mount Sinai Beth Israel Hospital, Avenatti is expected to recover with no permanent damage to his mouth or other, less vital organs.
At a regularly scheduled White House press briefing Thursday, spokesperson Sarah Sanders referred all questions about the shooting to the president’s private attorneys.
“Look, I know you folks in the mainstream media are looking for every opportunity to criticize this president, who continues to accomplish amazing things for the American people,” Sanders said. “The economy is stronger than it’s been in ages, ISIS is on the run, the remaking of the judiciary. That’s all far more important than any distractions the media likes to throw out there.”
Sanders also refused to rule out the possibility of Trump issuing an immediate pardon for himself, as first proposed by famed legal scholar Alan Dershowitz.
Despite network TV video of Trump emerging from the presidential limousine, gun in hand, other prominent Trump supporters are questioning whether the shooting occurred at all. Fox News host Sean Hannity used his entire Thursday night segment to explore secret links between Hillary Clinton and Avennati, describing the attorney as a “paid crisis actor” as well as “a clear descendant of immigrants.” According to Hannity, the attack has all the earmarks of a “false flag” operation choreographed by the FBI.
“This is the deep state at work, undermining our democracy, my friends,” Hannity told his audience. “This is an unelected part of your government, looking to overturn a duly elected president. Don’t think this a coincidence -- it is the biggest scandal in American history.”
According to an overnight Quinnipiac poll, 68 percent of Republicans now agree that the shooting never happened. A similar poll from Rasmussen put the number at 93 percent.
https://politics.myajc.com/blog/jay-boo ... qoGJzwlXP/
Michael Cohen case shines light on Sean Hannity's real estate empire
Fox News host who said Trump’s fixer ‘knows real estate’ has a portfolio that includes support from Department of Housing and Urban Development, a fact he did not mention when interviewing secretary Ben Carson last year
Jon SwaineFirst published on Sun 22 Apr 2018 18.31 EDT
Fox News host who said Trump’s fixer ‘knows real estate’ has a portfolio that includes support from Department of Housing and Urban Development, a fact he did not mention when interviewing secretary Ben Carson last year
When Sean Hannity was named in court this week as a client of Donald Trump’s embattled legal fixer Michael Cohen, the Fox News host insisted their discussions had been limited to the subject of buying property.
“I’ve said many times on my radio show: I hate the stock market, I prefer real estate. Michael knows real estate,” Hannity said on television, a few hours after the dramatic hearing in Manhattan, where Cohen is under criminal investigation.
Hannity’s chosen investment strategy is confirmed by thousands of pages of public records reviewed by the Guardian, which detail a real estate portfolio of remarkable scale that has not previously been reported.
The records link Hannity to a group of shell companies that spent at least $90m on more than 870 homes in seven states over the past decade. The properties range from luxurious mansions to rentals for low-income families. Hannity is the hidden owner behind some of the shell companies and his attorney did not dispute that he owns all of them.
Dozens of the properties were bought at a discount in 2013, after banks foreclosed on their previous owners for defaulting on mortgages. Before and after then, Hannity sharply criticised Barack Obama for the US foreclosure rate. In January 2016, Hannity said there were “millions more Americans suffering under this president” partly because of foreclosures.
Hannity, 56, also amassed part of his property collection with support from the US Department for Housing and Urban Development (Hud), a fact he did not disclose when praising Ben Carson, the Hud secretary, on his television show last year.
Christopher Reeves, Hannity’s real estate attorney, said in an email he would “struggle to find any relevance” in Hannity’s property holdings, which he said were highly confidential.
“I doubt you would find it very surprising that most people prefer to keep their legal and personal financial issues private,” said Reeves. “Mr Hannity is no different.”
Spokespeople for Hud and Fox News declined to comment on the record.
I doubt you would find it very surprising most people prefer to keep their legal and personal financial issues private
Christopher Reeves, Sean Hannity's real estate attorney
The real estate holdings linked to Hannity are spread across more than 20 shell companies formed in Georgia. Each of the companies uses a variant of the same name, which combines the initials of Hannity’s children. Public records show the companies have bought up dozens of properties in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, New York, North Carolina, Texas and Vermont.
Among the most valuable are two large apartment complexes in Georgia that Hannity bought in 2014 for $22.7m. The developments are in the cities of Perry and Brunswick, which have higher poverty rates and lower median incomes than the US averages. One- and two-bedroom units in Hannity’s apartment complexes are available to rent for $735 to $1,065 per month, according to brochures.
The Georgia purchases were funded with mortgages for $17.9m that Hannity obtained with help from Hud, which insured the loans under a program created as part of the National Housing Act. The loans, first guaranteed under the Obama administration, were recently increased by $5m with renewed support from Carson’s department.
Hannity, who is reportedly paid $36m per year for his television and radio shows, was criticised this week following Cohen’s court hearing, after it became clear he had defended Cohen and Trump on the air without disclosing that he also consulted Cohen for legal services.
He also declined to note his financial interest when he hosted Carson on Fox News last June for a discussion about Hud and housing. Hannity praised privatisation plans pushed by Trump and Carson.
Michael Cohen, second left, leaves court in New York.
Michael Cohen, second left, leaves court in New York. Photograph: Pacific Press/Barcroft Images
“I know you’ve done a good job,” Hannity told Carson.
Hannity complained during the discussion that home ownership in the US was at a 51-year low – a false claim he has made several times on air – and criticised the state of public housing.
“I like the idea of them owning the place,” Hannity said of people who receive housing assistance. “Well, that’s the real ideal,” said Carson.
The shell companies used to buy the properties are registered to the offices of Henssler Financial, a wealth management firm outside Atlanta. Bill Lako, a principal at the firm, has appeared on Hannity’s radio show as an expert on money issues.
Lako recently wrote an article for the show’s website berating Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating ties between Trump’s 2016 election campaign and Russia, without noting his ties to Hannity. He did not respond to an email.
When Lako appeared on Hannity’s radio show last month, Hannity disclosed that he was a Henssler client. He joked to Lako that the company took him on as a “charity case” when he worked in Georgia, but “now I’m the best client you have”.
The Georgia mortgages supported by Hud were guaranteed as part of a program aimed at protecting investors such as Hannity who buy rental apartment buildings. The government promises to cover losses if borrowers default on their mortgages. Borrowers pay an insurance premium to Hud in return. Bigger loan guarantees are available if the building houses low-income families.
Paperwork relating to the agreements with Hud, which was filed to county authorities, named Hannity as the principal of the shell companies used to buy the apartment complexes and to borrow the funds. Hannity personally signed several of the documents. A Hud source said Hannity was identified in non-public filings as the 100% owner of the apartment complexes.
I know you’ve done a good job
Hannity to Ben Carson, June 2017
Late last month, Hannity’s mortgages were replaced with loans for $22.9m that were rewritten with Carson’s Hud and a new bank. There was no indication that Carson was personally involved in the process. Carson does, however, have the authority to allow Hannity from 2019 to convert the rental complexes into condominiums for sale, which could be lucrative for the television host.
The shell companies used to buy the properties are limited liability companies (LLCs). Like in most states, they are not required to disclose their owners to Georgia regulators. LLCs are popular among well-known figures such as Hannity who wish to keep their business arrangements private.
But the Guardian obtained records in which Hannity signed deeds and other documents on behalf of four of the LLCs, sometimes being named as principal or manager. Four more of the shell companies have owned properties in which public records say Hannity or members of his family have lived.
Hannity also uses a separate company with a similar name to handle contracts relating to his syndicated radio show, according to records filed in two federal court cases. Georgia records say Hannity was chief executive, chief financial officer and secretary of this company before Lako took over the titles during 2016.
In other cases, only the relevant LLC’s name and a contact at Henssler Financial were identified in the real estate paperwork, meaning that it could not be confirmed whether Hannity was the hidden owner.
HUD secretary Ben Carson testifies on Capitol Hill.
Hud secretary Ben Carson testifies on Capitol Hill. Photograph: Win McNamee/Getty Images
The list of properties bought by the Hannity-linked companies includes multimillion-dollar homes used by Hannity. It also features single-family units priced as low as $50,000 in relatively poor suburbs. In at least two cases, batches of homes were bought simultaneously at a discount, after they were repossessed by banks from their previous owners in foreclosure proceedings.
The entire portfolio connected to Hannity comprises at least 877 residential units, which were bought for a total of just under $89m. Another seven properties bought by the companies over recent years have subsequently been sold on for more than $4m, according to public records.
When Hannity this week stressed that his business relationship with Cohen related to real estate, he pointedly denied that it involved any financial settlements with other people.
Cohen previously arranged for a $130,000 payment to Stephanie Clifford, the pornographic actor known as Stormy Daniels, who alleged she had sex with Trump. Cohen also helped Elliott Broidy, a prominent Republican fundraiser, pay $1.6m to a woman who said she had become pregnant during an affair.
Hannity said he had only “occasional brief conversations” with Cohen. He made varying statements about whether Cohen was compensated, initially stating that he had not been billed but later saying: “I might have handed him 10 bucks.”
In footage unearthed this week that was broadcast on Fox News in January last year, Hannity mentioned having discussed an unidentified $2bn property venture in Dubai with Cohen.
“I said, ‘I’m interested in that deal myself,’” said Hannity.
https://www.theguardian.com/media/2018/ ... carson-hud
What Did That Dumb Orange Motherfucker Say Now? (Rising Sun Edition)
Whenever President Donald Trump, an anthropomorphic shart in a suit-shaped sack, gives remarks that are even a little off the cuff, it's a gut-turning embarrassment for the nation. Whatever meager failed vaudevillian patter he may muster when he's in front of an adoring crowd of yahoos dissipates into stone-cold ignorance and bluster that sounds less like the leader of the free world and more like the chief enforcer of the He-Man Woman Haters Club.
So it was yesterday down in Florida at Trump's shrine to the worst rich people in the nation, Mar-a-Lago, and his press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Trump says so much unbelievably dumbass stuff in a single appearance that it's kind of breathtaking, like he's a performance artist standing on a stage and flinging dog shit at an audience, wondering when the idiots sitting in the theatre will stop pretending it's meaningful and rush the stage to stop him.
Trump really did say, "It was a true privilege to be welcomed to the magnificent land of Japan or, as I have heard all my life, the land of the rising sun" and then followed that with "It's true," as if he just informed everyone of the secret nickname of Japan for the last 1000 years. And he really did say about American manufacture of military weapons, "And nobody, nobody makes it like the United States. It's the best in the world by far," like a desperate Fuller brush door-to-door salesman trying to convince a poor farmer he needs three.
Of course, he said something to undermine the potential upcoming talks with North Korea: "If we don't think it's going to be successful...we won't have it. We won't have it." And then the word "fruitful" got stuck in his moron head because he repeated it: "If I think that it's a meeting that is not going to be fruitful, we're not going to go. If the meeting, when I'm there, is not fruitful, I will respectfully leave the meeting." Either he eyeballed a bowl of fruit in the room or it came up on his word-a-day calendar that he generally just yells, "You think you're smarter than me?" at.
And he really did give himself all the credit for the success of the Winter Olympics in South Korea: "President Moon of South Korea was very generous when he said if it weren't for Donald Trump, the Olympics would have been a total failure. It was my involvement and the involvement of our great country that made the Olympics a very successful Olympics." You ever notice there's never any such thing as a "partial failure" with Trump? It's always either the greatest success that ever successed in the history of successing because of him or, because of someone he doesn't like, it's a total failure. Obama's foreign policy, the assault weapons ban, North Korea. You get the idea. But what's even more amazing is that this numbnuts thinks that ticket sales at the Olympics, which he claims he's responsible for, are a good indication that he'll be able to make a deal with Kim Jong-un. It's not unlike saying, "Because I could make a clay ashtray, I can sculpt David."
Asked about the Mueller investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election (and other tasty matters having to do with Trump's businesses), he streamed catchphrases and sound bites ready for Steve Doocy to cream his Sans-a-belts over in the a.m.: "There was no collusion, and that's been so found as you know by the House Intelligence Committee. There's no collusion. There was no collusion with Russia other than by the Democrats or the obstructionists because they truly are obstructionists." Ya gotta love the last thing there, where he says he calls the Democrats "obstructionists" because they are obstructionists. They're Democrats. You could just call 'em that.
And then, swear to fuckin' Christ, he brought up the Electoral College again. "This was a really hoax created largely by the Democrats as way of softening the blow of a loss which is a loss that frankly they shouldn't have had from the standpoint that it's very easy for them. They have a tremendous advantage in the Electoral College and this is what it is and this is where it came from," he said, like a brain-damaged Popeye snarling, "I yam what I yam what I yam what I yam" on an endless loop. On it went, with Trump repeatedly referring to himself in the third person like some kind of goon: "There's been nobody tougher on Russia than President Donald Trump... Russia will tell you, there has been nobody tougher than Donald Trump."
You know what was great about every other president ever? They occasionally stayed out of the public eye for a while so that they didn't become utterly fucking tedious in their repetitive bullshit. This fuckin' shtick is getting so old. How can anyone find this endearing or interesting except in how fuckin' weird it all is? I could honestly say that people who supported George W. Bush were fuckers, but I understood why they did it. I don't fuckin' get this at all. I don't fuckin' get how "makin' the libtards mad" is enough for some people. It's like when some guy tells you he just loves getting hand jobs and only hand jobs from other guys. You just wanna say, "You know, there's a whole lot more to fucking than gettin' one rubbed out by strange hands."
http://rudepundit.blogspot.com/2018/04/ ... ucker.html
Summer Zervos, Trump Accuser, Subpoenas ‘The Apprentice’ Recordings
By NIRAJ CHOKSHIMAY 2, 2018
Summer Zervos, a former contestant on “The Apprentice,” is suing President Trump for defamation after he called her a liar for accusing him of sexual assault. Andrew Kelly/Reuters
Summer Zervos, a former contestant on “The Apprentice” who accused President Trump of sexual assault, is seeking records to prove that he defamed her by calling her a liar.
A lawyer for Ms. Zervos, who is suing Mr. Trump for defamation in New York, said on Wednesday that subpoenas had been issued both to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, which owns archives of the reality show, and to the Beverly Hills Hotel, where Ms. Zervos says he groped her in 2007.
“We’re gathering evidence that we believe will prove that the defendant lied when he falsely denigrated Ms. Zervos and when he denied sexually assaulting her,” said the lawyer, Mariann Wang of Cuti Hecker Wang.
Ms. Zervos, a Republican, was among the more than 10 women who came forward during the 2016 presidential campaign to accuse Mr. Trump of inappropriate sexual contact. He denied all of their claims.
Ms. Zervos publicly revealed her account during an emotional news conference just weeks before the November election, accusing Mr. Trump of forcibly kissing her at meetings in New York and California as she sought his mentorship after her run on “The Apprentice,” in which contestants vied to work for Mr. Trump. During one encounter at a bungalow at the Beverly Hills Hotel in 2007, she said, Mr. Trump made repeated advances and grabbed her breasts.
“You do not have the right to treat women as sexual objects just because you are a star,” she said at the news conference, borrowing a phrase he used in the “Access Hollywood” tape, in which he could be heard making vulgar comments about women. After that recording was leaked late in the campaign, many speculated that recordings from “The Apprentice” would show the same.
In the subpoena issued Wednesday, Ms. Wang asked M.G.M. to turn over all documents, video or audio that feature Ms. Zervos or Mr. Trump talking about Ms. Zervos. The subpoena also seeks any recording in which Mr. Trump speaks of women “in any sexual or inappropriate manner.”
The hotel subpoena seeks records of any stay by Mr. Trump from 2005 through 2009 as well as documents related to his longtime bodyguard, Keith Schiller; his longtime assistant, Rhona Graff; or Ms. Zervos.
Ms. Zervos first filed the lawsuit early last year after Mr. Trump denied her account and accused her of lying. Neither M.G.M. nor the hotel immediately responded to requests for comment.
In March, a New York State judge ruled that Ms. Zervos’s defamation suit could proceed over the objections of the president’s lawyer, Marc E. Kasowitz, who had argued that the New York State Supreme Court, where the case was filed, lacked jurisdiction over a sitting president under the supremacy clause of the United States Constitution.
“No one is above the law,” Justice Jennifer Schecter of State Supreme Court in Manhattan wrote in the decision. “It is settled that the president of the United States has no immunity and is ‘subject to the laws’ for purely private acts.”
Mr. Trump’s team has since appealed for a stay in the case.
On Monday, another woman, the pornographic film actress Stephanie Clifford, filed a separate defamation suit against Mr. Trump, with whom she says she had a consensual affair.
Ms. Clifford, known by the stage name Stormy Daniels, said Mr. Trump defamed her when he suggested that she had concocted a story about being threatened by a man in 2011 who told her to “leave Trump alone” after she sold her story of the affair to a publisher.
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/02/nyre ... ntice.html
‘The Hunt For The Trump Tapes With Tom Arnold’ Gets Viceland Series Order
by Erik PedersenMay 2, 2018 9:04am
While Roseanne Barr cozies up to POTUS 45 and his base, her ex-husband is wading into the swamp. Viceland has handed a series order to The Hunt for the Trump Tapes with Tom Arnold, in which the titular comic actor is taking his activism off Twitter and putting it into real life.
Tom Arnold announced to series today on Howard Stern’s satellite radio show — a favorite stop of pre-politics Donald Trump and a trove of recorded banter between the two media-obsessed New Yorkers. The cable net has begun production on the eight-episode series for a premiere later this year. Watch a promo for the show above.
Screenshot via accesshollywood.com
The logline: After the October 2016 revelation of the Access Hollywood tape that featured reality show host-turned-presidential candidate-turned President Trump making misogynist remarks, speculation ran rampant that other similar (or worse) tapes were “out there” — from The Apprentice outtakes and Miss Universe footage all the way to the infamous “Russia dossier” tape.
Through it all, one determined man has contended that not only these tapes exist but they need to be seen and heard. The series follows Arnold as he uses his network of connections to search for the truth behind these elusive recordings of Trump. Along the way, he will look into the network of powerful people and companies who have kept these revelatory and potentially damaging recordings under lock and key.
“Nobody thought I could ever be an investigative journalist, but then again, nobody thought Donald Trump could be president,” Arnold said in announcing the series on The Howard Stern Show. “Let’s hope this marks the end of both our new careers.”
http://deadline.com/2018/05/the-hunt-fo ... 202381135/
Tens Of Thousands Planning To Protest Trump's UK Visit In July
Campaigners have promised a "march of millions"
https://www.esquire.com/uk/latest-news/ ... isit-july/
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