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PostPosted: Fri May 04, 2018 8:15 pm 
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Can the prosecution request a new judge on the grounds the current one is batty?

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PostPosted: Fri May 04, 2018 9:00 pm 
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I doubt it.

Speaking of batty, here is Giuliani's "clarification" of his comments about the Stormy Daniels payment:

https://twitter.com/ABC/status/992462955999649793

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PostPosted: Fri May 04, 2018 9:33 pm 
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Voronwë the Faithful wrote:
A bad day in court for Mueller's team. In a hearing in Virginia on the charges against Manafort the judge (a 77 year-old Reagan appointee who took over the case in March of this year), the judge expressed skepticism about the authority of the special counsel's office to bring these charges, and in remarks that can only be described as extraordinary, insisted that they were only bringing these charges to get Manafort to "sing" and that he was worried that Manafort would "compose" instead. Honestly, these remarks could have been made by Devin Nunes or someone of that ilk.

It would be even more extraordinary if he dismissed the charges (which are supposed to go to trial in July), but I would not be at all surprised if he did so.

Other legal observers found the judge's comments as surprising as I did:

Quote:
Legal experts questioned the judge's comments.
Asha Rangappa, a former FBI special agent, characterized Ellis' remarks about prosecutors aiming to get Manafort to flip as "bizarre commentary."
"Unless there is something legally amiss in the indictment, speculating re motives of the [special counsel] is beyond the judge's purview (and also seems to suggest that there is a connection [between] Manafort's criminal bank fraud and Trump," she tweeted.
Renato Mariotti, a former federal prosecutor, echoed that view.
"Whether the special counsel wants Manafort to flip is not relevant to the question of whether this indictment is within the scope of his jurisdiction," he wrote. "If the judge considers Mueller's motivation in bringing the indictment and dismisses it, that's reversible error."
He added: "Even if the judge ultimately does not take his view of Mueller's motivations into account in his ruling, he politicized the proceeding with comments that were unnecessary and created an appearance that he has a political agenda."


http://www.businessinsider.com/judge-ts ... sia-2018-5


I was half-listening to commentary regarding this today and one of the people discussing this (I think it was tuned into Jake Tapper/CNN) said that this judge tends to play the devil's advocate to prove his non-partisanship. However, after reading the judges full comments it seems far too harsh and repeated to be just playing 'devil's advocate'.

This article from Slate might make a bit more sense to those of you with a legal background: https://slate.com/news-and-politics/201 ... afort.html


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PostPosted: Fri May 04, 2018 9:37 pm 
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I saw that Slate article too. The upshot is this paragraph, which I tend to agree with:

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The most likely explanation for Ellis’ conduct, then, is that he is applying “stare Scalia.” The late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia famously believed that a president had “complete control over investigation and prosecution of violations of the law,” leading him to condemn special investigations that excluded the chief executive. Yet Scalia expressed this view in dissent, and it is still not the law today. Further, the law governing the special counsel does not place it outside the command of the Justice Department, which is an executive branch agency ultimately controlled by the president—so any concerns about the special counsel’s excessive independence are unfounded. Ellis’ dismay at the Manafort prosecution seems to arise more from a theoretical, Scalia-esque objection to the special counsel’s wide-ranging investigation than a genuine qualm about its legality. Should he dismiss all or some of the charges, Mueller’s team will directly appeal his ruling to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, where they will very likely win. But Ellis’ decision could still do political damage, giving Trump a talking point in his ongoing rants against the special counsel’s “witch hunt.”

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PostPosted: Sat May 05, 2018 1:37 am 
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Dunno if insider take or wishful thinking, but NBC.

https://twitter.com/KenDilanianNBC/stat ... 9235564545

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In fact, a courthouse observer told me that this judge is often hardest in court on the side he rules in favor of.

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PostPosted: Sat May 05, 2018 2:29 am 
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That is generally *not* true.

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PostPosted: Sat May 05, 2018 3:39 am 
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I believe that is what I overheard on CNN today Frelga. I have no idea if it is true, but weird is the new normal.

The judge questioned why Manifort's case had not been moved to a state court (as Cohen's was)
Judge Ellis wrote:
"Why in New York did you feel it was not necessary to keep that, but it was necessary to keep this bank fraud, which I think manifestly has nothing to do with the campaign?" Ellis asked. "Why is New York different?"

The reply:
Deputy Solicitor General Michael Dreeben wrote:
"We take very seriously the primary mission that was assigned to us....We are focused on that mission," Dreeben said. "We are not going off the range that the acting attorney general authorized us to do....We followed the money into the transactions that led to the charges here." .... “Our investigative scope covers the activities that led to this case,”

https://www.politico.com/story/2018/05/ ... ase-568935

I suppose this is what some saw as playing the devil's advocate or publically justifying his decision to allow them to continue (?)


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PostPosted: Sat May 05, 2018 3:59 am 
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The Cohen case is not in state court, it is in federal court, handled by the US Attorney for the southern district of New York. What Judge Ellis asked is why the special council's office did not not refer these bank and tax fraud charges against Manafort to the US Attorney in Virginia to handle, but still in federal court, the way they did with the potential case against Cohen in NY.

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PostPosted: Sun May 06, 2018 3:40 pm 
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https://twitter.com/kylegriffin1/status ... 3978271746
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An ex-federal law enforcement official says Rosenstein and top FBI officials have come to suspect that some Republican lawmakers were using their oversight authority to gain intel about the Russia investigation so that it could be shared with the W.H. https://t.co/Wd4x1VXQ2D


Oh my goodness! What tipped them off? /sarcasm

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PostPosted: Tue May 08, 2018 11:55 pm 
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On the one hand, it's Avenatti. On the other, would he say something like that if he wasn't sure?

Someone in replies said that Daily Beast confirmed it, but did not post a link.

Quote:
After significant investigation, we have discovered that Mr. Trump’s atty Mr. Cohen received approximately $500,000 in the mos. after the election from a company controlled by a Russian Oligarc with close ties to Mr. Putin. These monies may have reimbursed the $130k payment.


Eta: there's also this, with a link to the Dropbox with supposed documents, but I don't have the time to read it.

https://twitter.com/RobertMaguire_/stat ... 6763890693

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PostPosted: Wed May 09, 2018 12:40 am 
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CNN is also reporting that Mueller's team is investigating the payments, so maybe there is some there there.

https://www.cnn.com/2018/05/08/politics ... index.html

ETA: That approximately $500,000 figure is not that different than the amount that Giuliani strangely claimed Trump reimbursed Cohen for the $130,000 Stormy payment.

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PostPosted: Wed May 09, 2018 1:10 am 
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And now NYT

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It's hard to count the number of scandals in *just this one story*:

1. A Russian oligarch made secret payments to prez's lawyer
2. A Swiss pharma giant did too
3. So did a Korean company
4. And so did AT&T, which has a merger pending DOJ approval

https://t.co/luBYb5GFkn

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PostPosted: Wed May 09, 2018 1:37 am 
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AT&T has already admitted that they made their payment to gain 'insight' into the Trump administration.

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PostPosted: Wed May 09, 2018 2:09 am 
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I'm a little confused on this one. How is "various entities paid a lawyer money" a scandal? Is there any evidence connecting the stuff to Trump specifically?

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PostPosted: Wed May 09, 2018 2:25 am 
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Well, as I said previously AT&T admitted their payments related to Trump. The big one though is from the Russian oligarch, since that potentially relates to the collusion issue.

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PostPosted: Wed May 09, 2018 3:51 am 
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To yov's question:
Daily Beast
Quote:
Truly remarkable that these companies knew to make big payments into a totally unknown LLC operated by Trump aide who had no position inside the WH and no formal role on the campaign.

https://twitter.com/samstein/status/993997222986514432

Eta: WaPo jumps in with a diagram
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/pol ... ll-company

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PostPosted: Wed May 09, 2018 5:07 am 
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Once again, I'm wondering how Michael Avenatti came to be Stormy Daniels attorney. A pundit asked Avenatti how he came to be on this case and he was cagey about it. I don't think Stormy just happened to hire him by coincidence (or did he approach her?). She thought she had been represented by Keith Richardson. I'm wondering if this was a 'follow the money' from the get-go.


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PostPosted: Wed May 09, 2018 2:52 pm 
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yovargas wrote:
I'm a little confused on this one. How is "various entities paid a lawyer money" a scandal? Is there any evidence connecting the stuff to Trump specifically?


A couple of other points. Cohen's attorneys stated in open court that the only clients that Cohen had over the past 18 months were Trump, Elliot Broidy, and Hannity. So none of these entities were paying Cohen as a lawyer. So what were they paying him for, and as Frelga notes, why were the payments being made into a shell company that was specifically set up to accommodate the the Stormy payment, as well as the larger payment made on Broidy's behalf to a playmate (it should be noted that some people think that Broidy was a fall guy and it was really Trump that had an affair with that women as well, resulting in her pregnancy)? The other point is that the Russian oligarch tied to one of the entities making payments to Cohen is one who was specifically named as being involved in Russian meddling in the 2016 election and was sanctioned for his role.

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PostPosted: Wed May 09, 2018 3:02 pm 
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Thank you, V-man, that does clarify the issue.

eta:
Couple more questions?
How/why would Avenatti have access to the financial docs for that shell company?
Also, am I understanding correctly that Keith Davidson was the lawyer for both women involved with Trump and Broidy?

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PostPosted: Wed May 09, 2018 4:18 pm 
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yovargas wrote:

Also, am I understanding correctly that Keith Davidson was the lawyer for both women involved with Trump and Broidy?


Yes (that's three women), and there are allegations that he conspired with Cohen to pressure or deceive his clients into settling and signing the NDAs.

Avenatti also said on MSNBC that there were extensive communications between Michael Cohen and Keith Davidson in October of 2016 relating to the timing of this payment and the need for the payment to be made prior to the election. Which brings us back to the illegal campaign contribution.

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