Tag Archives: TRUMP

PAUL MANAFORT FOUND GUILTY ON 8 CRIMINAL COUNTS

Paul Manafort has been found guilty on eight out of 18 criminal counts in the tax and bank fraud case against him brought by special counsel Robert Mueller.

The jury said they were not able to reach a verdict on the remaining 10 counts, and the judge declared those a mistrial — meaning prosecutors will be able to bring them to trial again.

The trial of President Trump’s former campaign chairman has been seen a major test for Mueller’s team, which is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election.

The partial conviction still represents a significant victory for Mueller’s prosecutors, Mimi Rocah, a former federal prosecutor, told VICE News.

“This kind of split verdict happens quite often, especially in complicated fraud cases,” Rocah said. “I still think that’s a win for the Mueller team. I don’t see this as some kind of stain on Mueller at all.”

The jury convicted Manafort on five counts of tax fraud, two counts of bank fraud, and a single count of failing to disclose a foreign bank account.

Manafort, 69, had been charged with five counts of filing false tax returns between 2010 and 2014, four counts of failing to report foreign bank accounts, and a combined nine counts of bank fraud and conspiracy to commit bank fraud. If found guilty on all counts, he would have faced a maximum of 305 years in prison.

Trump, not surprisingly, didn’t like the verdict. Upon his arrival in West Virginia for a planned rally, he said he was “very sad” about the conviction and that it “has nothing to do with Russian collusion,” calling it “a disgrace.”

Though the financial charges against Manafort may have had little to do with the election, the verdict still carries major political implications. Before the trial began, the presiding judge, T.S. Ellis, publicly described the legal assault on Manafort as a pressure tactic aimed at convincing him to cooperate with Mueller’s investigators and spill everything he knows about Trump.

Sen. Mark Warner, the ranking Democratic member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said the decision should lend credence to the Mueller probe, despite Trump repeatedly calling it a “witch hunt.”

“This verdict makes it absolutely clear that the Mueller probe is not a ‘witch hunt’ — it is a serious investigation that is rooting out corruption and Russian influence on our political system at the highest levels,” Warner said in a statement immediately following the jury’s announcement. “Any attempt by the president to pardon Mr. Manafort or interfere with the investigation into his campaign would be a gross abuse of power and require immediate action by Congress.”

Before the verdict came down, observers had predicted that a guilty verdict would strengthen Mueller’s hand — but that a total wipeout for his team’s first major courtroom effort would be a crippling blow, leaving it vulnerable to the president and his allies who’ve repeatedly called for Mueller to wrap up the investigation quickly.

“In one sense, this trial is separate from the rest of the work that Mueller is doing,” said Jens David Ohlin, Cornell Law vice dean and an expert in international criminal law. “On the other hand, this is the first case that they’ve taken to trial, so they need to establish that their efforts are yielding fruit.”

Manafort had refused to plead guilty and cooperate. But legal experts have told VICE News that even after the verdict, he can still potentially strike a deal with Mueller’s team in exchange for leniency, especially if he does have bombshell insider information about the Trump campaign colluding with Russia in the 2016 election.

So far, however, there are no signs he plans to do that, prompting speculation he may be holding out for a presidential pardon, or that he may have no such information to trade for his freedom.

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In new book, fired Trump aide Omarosa Manigault Newman says she refused hush money, calls president a misogynist and bigot

Omarosa Manigault Newman was offered a $15,000-a-month contract from President Trump’s campaign to stay silent after being fired from her job as a White House aide by Chief of Staff John Kelly last December, according to a forthcoming book by Manigault Newman and people familiar with the proposal.

But she refused, according to the incendiary new book, “Unhinged: An Insider Account of Trump’s White House,” which also depicts Trump as unqualified, narcissistic and racist. Excerpts of the book were obtained by the Washington Post.

After she was fired, Manigault Newman wrote, she received a call from Trump campaign advisor Lara Trump, the president’s daughter-in-law, offering her a job and the monthly contract in exchange for her silence.

The proposed nondisclosure agreement allegedly said Manigault Newman could not make any comments about Trump or his family; Vice President Mike Pence or his family; or any comments that could damage the president. It said she would do “diversity outreach,” among other things, for the campaign, according to her account.

“The NDA attached to the email was as harsh and restrictive as any I’d seen in all my years of television,” Manigault Newman writes in the book.

The Trump campaign did not respond to a request for comment on Friday.

In a statement, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the book “is riddled with lies and false accusations. It’s sad that a disgruntled former White House employee is trying to profit off these false attacks, and even worse that the media would now give her a platform, after not taking her seriously when she had only positive things to say about the President during her time in the administration.”

The allegations threaten to become another political headache for the administration akin to another controversial book earlier this year by journalist Michael Wolff, “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House,” which detailed a wayward White House and prompted broad denunciations from Trump and his aides. The White House had initially planned on trying to avoid commenting on the Manigault Newman’s book to keep it from getting more attention, White House aides said.

Manigault Newman is expected to appear on “Meet the Press” on Sunday morning and will then go on a longer publicity tour. The scheduled appearance comes on the first anniversary of deadly white-supremacist protests in Charlottesville, Va., in which Trump was criticized for saying there were fine people “on both sides.”

Her book is the first insider account from a White House aide that is not largely flattering toward the president. Manigault Newman, who was once the highest-ranking black employee in the White House, calls Trump a “racist, misogynist and bigot.” She alleges in the book that there is a tanning bed in the White House residence and says the president fought with the now-departed chief usher over the installation of the bed; other aides say they have not seen a tanning bed in the White House.

Manigault Newman also writes that Trump told her he was unaware of her firing by Kelly. “No! No one even told me,” she quotes Trump as saying. “I didn’t know that. Damn it.”

Whether the book paints an accurate depiction of Trump’s conduct or amounts primarily to a disgruntled tome from a reality TV star-turned-White House aide is in dispute. Manigault Newman has known Trump for more than a decade and held one of the highest-paid positions in the West Wing for a year, securing the job as an “assistant to the president” after starring as a famed villain in his TV show, “The Apprentice,” and working for the Trump Organization.

Manigault Newman does not offer evidence for some of her most explosive charges but also extensively taped her conversations in the White House, according to people familiar with the tapes, who requested anonymity to describe the recordings. The existence of some tapes was first reported Wednesday by the Daily Beast.

Manigault Newman litters the book with specific quotes from White House aides. She describes many scenes inside the White House vividly — explaining who was in the room and exactly what was said.

She questions Trump’s mental state, describes him as unstable and portrays him as unable to control his impulses, while also describing the extensive lengths that staff members have gone to in attempts to keep him in line.

“All we need to remember is that Trump loves the hate,” she writes in the book. “He thrives on criticism and insults. He delights in chaos and confusion. Taking to Twitter to call him names only fuels him and riles his base. To disarm him, starve his ego; don’t feed into it.”

White House aides have long described Manigault Newman as a problematic employee who tried to stage a wedding photo shoot at the White House, exploded at other West Wing aides and left shoes strewn around the West Wing. For months, they accurately feared that she was taping conversations inside the building. In the eyes of many around Trump, the book is another publicity-grabbing stunt from a reality TV star known for them.

Even as aides warned him against it, Trump often spoke to Manigault Newman and invited her to come by the Oval Office, a practice that Kelly eventually curtailed. She served as Trump’s chief liaison to the African American community and often vouched for him.

The book is a mix of unverified accusations and vivid, quote-filled exchanges from her time with Trump on the campaign trail and in the White House.

In early 2017, Manigault Newman says, she walked Michael Cohen, then Trump’s personal lawyer, into the Oval Office for a meeting with Trump — and saw the president chewing up a piece of paper while Cohen was leaving the office. Another White House official confirmed that Manigault Newman brought Cohen into the White House and was later rebuked for it. The two remain in contact, according to people familiar with the relationship.

“I saw him put a note in his mouth. Since Trump was ever the germaphobe, I was shocked he appeared to be chewing and swallowing the paper. It must have been something very, very sensitive,” she writes in her book.

There is no proof that he chewed on paper, and several White House aides laughed at the assertion and said it was not true.

Manigault Newman also writes in the book that she was contacted in February by the FBI, but does not elaborate on why they called her or what she told them.

She describes in vivid detail her firing, with direct quotes attributed to Kelly and ethics lawyer Stefan Passantino.

According to her account, Kelly comes into the Situation Room and begins by saying, “We’re going to talk to you about leaving the White House.”

“The integrity issues are very serious,” Kelly continues. “If this were the military, this would be a pretty high level of accountability, meaning a court-martial. … If we make this a friendly departure, you can look at your time here in the White House as a year of service to the nation. You can go on without any type of difficulty in the future relative to your reputation.”

Manigault Newman then begins demanding an explanation for why she was being fired and whether Trump knows. Kelly tells her it is non-negotiable and soon leaves the room after mentioning “serious integrity issues.”

“The staff works for me, not the president. So after your departure, I’ll inform him,” Kelly told her, according to the book. “With that, I’ll let you go.”

She is kept in the Situation Room for more than an hour, according to her telling in the book, with her husband waiting outside. She fights with Passantino, who tells her she is being fired for abusing the government car service. She tries to explain why she used the car each time — for official government business, in her telling — to no avail.

“It’s not a fight that is winnable,” Uttam Dhillon, another lawyer, says.

Manigault Newman writes in the book that there was erroneous reporting on her exit — that she did not get into a big fight with Kelly at the White House Christmas party and that she did not try to fight her way past security and get into the residence.

“I never imagined that this ludicrous story — pure gossip — would blow up like it did,” she said.

Passantino did not respond to a request for comment.

Trump tells Manigault Newman that he had no idea she was ousted the day before, according to her account. “I just saw on the news you were thinking about leaving!” Trump says. “What happened?”

Manigault Newman responds that Kelly told her “you guys wanted me to leave.” Trump expresses his displeasure.

Manigault Newman said the call from Trump was followed by a call from Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, and Ivanka Trump, his daughter, who said she “really loves” Manigault Newman and would do anything for her.

“Call us anytime,” Kushner says on the call, according to the book.

Then, Lara Trump called and reiterated how much the president and the family loved Manigault Newman, offering her the job and wanting to make sure “everything is positive.”

“If you come on board, we can’t have you mention that stuff,” she added, referring to interviews Manigault Newman gave immediately after her firing.

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Kanye West says slavery ‘sounds like a choice’ (VIDEO)

Kanye West just told the TMZ newsroom why he believes slavery is a choice and why he decided to sport his “Make America Great Again” hat … and it all went down Tuesday morning on “TMZ Live.”

KAREN MCDOUGAL SETTLES NATIONAL ENQUIRER SUIT

Ex-Playmate Karen McDougal is clear to spill the beans about her alleged affair with Donald Trump … and, perhaps most importantly to her, make a ton o’ money off it.

McDougal had sued the National Enquirer’s parent company, American Media, over a non-disclosure agreement she signed with them in 2016. She got $150k and some promotional perks, and the Enquirer got her exclusive story about the 2006 affair with Trump. She sued to get out of the deal.

Well, they reached a settlement … according to the New York Times, and is now allowed to talk all she wants about her Trump relationship. You’ll recall, McDougal sat down with Anderson Cooper last month for a CNN special.

So, why does the settlement matter? It’s pretty clear based on the terms, which include American Media getting $75k of any future profits Karen makes off selling the Trump story.

Start the countdown to Karen’s tell-all book hitting stores — but ya gotta wonder what’s left for her to reveal. The NYT says she also gets to keep her $150k fee.

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SEARCHED AND SEIZED: F.B.I. AGENTS RAID MICHAEL COHEN’S NEW YORK HOTEL

The paparazzi lingering outside the Loews Regency on Park Avenue, hoping to get a photo of U.F.C. fighter Conor McGregor, appeared not to notice the stream of F.B.I. agents that entered the New York hotel early Monday morning, as they made their way up to the room where the president’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, has been staying.

A handful of them remained upstairs for several hours, according to a source familiar with the situation. “Today the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York executed a series of search warrants and seized the privileged communications between my client, Michael Cohen, and his clients,” Cohen’s attorney, Stephen Ryan, said in a statement. “I have been advised by federal prosecutors that the New York action is, in part, a referral by the Office of Special Counsel, Robert Mueller.”

Downstairs, hotel jazz blared on speakers, as women with Louis Vuitton totes and men in Gucci loafers and gold-button blazers checked in and out, while kids in Yeezys and fur-trimmed puffer coats chased each other around the lobby. A woman who looked awfully like Caroline Kennedy made a quick pass through the restaurant, and hotel security seemed to arrange a way for a guest, perhaps McGregor, to make an exit through a side door without being spotted.

The cheery hotel scene belied what has become a growing legal headache for Cohen, as Mueller’s Russia probe has expanded to include inquiries into the Trump Organization’s business records and foreign dealings, including in Russia. Last week, McClatchy reported that the special counsel’s investigators showed up with subpoenas to the home of an associate of the Trump Organization, compelling sworn testimony and electronic records. The report indicated that investigators were interesting in interactions involving Cohen.

Later Monday, The Washington Post reported that Cohen is under federal investigation for possible bank fraud, wire fraud, and campaign finance violations. Cohen’s home and Manhattan office were also raided.

Cohen’s lawyer called the tactics “completely inappropriate and unnecessary,” and said the documents seized concerned protected attorney-client communications. “These government tactics are also wrong because Mr. Cohen has cooperated completely with all government entities, including providing thousands of non-privileged documents to the Congress and sitting for depositions under oath.”

In brief comments to the White House press pool Monday afternoon, Donald Trump railed against the treatment of his personal attorney, calling the raid “a disgraceful situation” and repeating his assertion that the Mueller investigation is a witch hunt. “It’s an attack on our country . . . what we all stand for.”

A spokesman for the special counsel’s office declined to comment on Monday, as did the F.B.I.’s New York office. Cohen’s cell phone, which is typically ringing off the hook, went straight to voice mail all day on Monday. The New York Times separately reported that the warrant was related to payments Cohen made to adult-film actress Stormy Daniels, among other issues.

Cohen, a loyal fixer for the Trump Organization and longtime personal friend of the Trump family, has been a person of interest in the Mueller probe since 2016, when his name surfaced in the Trump-Russia dossier compiled by Christopher Steele—a controversial opposition-research document that included claims that Cohen had traveled to Prague to meet with Russian operatives to “clean up the mess.” (Cohen has told me repeatedly that he has never been to Prague, and that the claims in the dossier are untrue; he filed a defamation suit earlier this year against Fusion GPS, which commissioned the dossier, and BuzzFeed, which published it, seeking $100 million in damages.) Last year, it was reported that Cohen had been working on a plan to build a Trump Tower in Moscow, which did not materialize. In September, he was questioned by congressional committees over the course of two days as part of their investigation into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia.

More recently, Cohen’s relationship with the president has become headline news because of the payment he made to Daniels 11 days before the 2016 election. In January, The Wall Street Journal reported that a shell company set up by Cohen had paid Stephanie Clifford, who goes by the stage name Stormy Daniels, $130,000 as part of a non-disclosure agreement barring her from discussing her allegation of a 2006 affair with Trump. Her attorney has since filed a lawsuit claiming that the agreement is void because Trump did not sign it; attorneys for Cohen have filed their own suit attempting to bring the matter into arbitration. Trump, who has denied the affair through spokespeople, said aboard Air Force One on Thursday that he did not know about the agreement—a contention Cohen has repeatedly made as well. While ethics experts have suggested that the payment could represent an illegal campaign contribution if it were deemed to have been made for electoral purposes, Cohen has repeatedly told me that the payment came out of his own pocket and that it had nothing to do with the election. “What I did defensively for my personal client, and my friend, is what attorneys do for their high-profile clients,” Cohen told me last month. “I would have done it in 2006. I would have done it in 2011. I truly care about him and the family—more than just as an employee and an attorney.”

The arrival of F.B.I. agents at the Regency marks another dramatic escalation of the Mueller probe. While Trump’s allies have dismissed many of the people in the special counsel’s crosshairs as low-level campaign officials, or waved away the charges against Paul Manafort as unrelated to Trump, Cohen is inextricably and emotionally linked to the Trump family. He worked in Trump Tower every day, and still remains one of Trump’s personal attorneys, though he left the Trump Organization around the presidential inauguration. Last summer, he told me he would “take a bullet for the president.”

For months after Mueller’s appointment, Trump and Cohen did not speak regularly, at the advice of counsel, but earlier this year, they started to communicate more. He has had dinner twice at Mar-a-Lago in recent months, including a meeting with Trump on the eve of Stormy Daniels’s sit-down on 60 Minutes.

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Trump Campaign Manager Paul Manafort Facing 305 Years in Prison

Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort chose to avoid a guilty plea that would have forced him to concede to special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the Russian government’s possible interference on the President’s behalf in the 2016 elections. Thus, Manafort will go to trial to fight a bevy of charges that could get him a 300+ year prison sentence for illegal business dealings he had with pro-Russia foreign nationals in Ukraine.

Two separate trials await Manafort, with one scheduled to begin in Virginia in July and one set for September in Washington, D.C. If convicted on multiple bank fraud, conspiracy, and tax violations he’s facing he could be slammed with a maximum of 305 years by a Virginia court alone.

Then conspiracy and foreign lobbying violations could potentially give him an additional 20 years if found guilty in D.C. The defense will be faced with the task of disproving that Manafort hid earnings he made off of Ukrainian politicians (while working as a U.S. official) in shell companies and offshore accounts. He is accused of then using the money to fund a lavish lifestyle and purchase property.

Due to the nature of Manafort’s crimes and fear that he may have built an elaborate enough network of international connects to flee and go missing, he is being restricted to house arrest with a pair of GPS monitors and must request permission to leave his home for anything other than religious services, meetings with his attorneys, or medical emergencies. His bail has been set at an unsecured $10 million.

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Trump’s Name Removed from Panama Hotel After Legal Dispute

President Donald Trump’s company, the Trump Organization, lost a heated battle in Central America this week. Orestes Fintiklis, the majority owner of what was once a Panamanian Trump International Hotel, won a huge legal battle on Monday, allowing him to remove the “Trump” name from the outside of his hotel.

Fintiklis was forced to make a brief public address when he arrived at the hotel, stating,“This is a purely commercial dispute that just spun out of control, and today this dispute has been settled by the judges and the authorities of this country.” He also sat down and played a baby grand piano that was on display in the hotel lobby. He proudly sang “Accordeon” as he played, which is a Greek song about the fight against fascism.

Although it appears as if Fintiklis has won the war, he has simply won one battle. The Trump Organization released a statement soon after their name was stripped from the building stating that the hotel initiated “the appointment of a temporary, third-party administrator to oversee the management of the property while the underlying dispute is being litigated.”

Fintiklis is also suing the Trump Organization for $15 million. He states that the company’s “utterly incompetent management of the hotel” has repelled hundreds of customers, leading to large financial loses.

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