GOP Operative Sought Clinton Emails From Hackers, Implied a Connection to Flynn

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Czer, Jun 30, 2017.

  1. Czer

    Czer I'm a poor person. The lambo is my cousin's.

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    Pelosi Statement on McConnell Cover-Up Resolution
    JANUARY 21, 2020

    https://www.speaker.gov/newsroom/12120

    Washington, D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued this statement on Leader McConnell’s resolution on rules for the impeachment trial of the President, which will operate on a greatly compressed schedule and rejects the need for witnesses and documents:

    “Leader McConnell’s plan for a dark of night impeachment trial confirms what the American people have seen since Day One: the Senate GOP Leader has chosen a cover-up for the President, rather than honor his oath to the Constitution. Shamefully, this sham proposal does not even allow for admitting the House record into evidence at the trial.

    “Leader McConnell’s process is deliberately designed to hide the truth from the Senate and from the American people, because he knows that the President’s wrongdoing is indefensible and demands removal. No jury would be asked to operate on McConnell’s absurdly compressed schedule, and it is obvious that no Senator who votes for it is intending to truly weigh the damning evidence of the President’s attacks on our Constitution.

    “The public now knows why Leader McConnell has been hiding his resolution: the Clinton comparison was a lie. Clearly and sadly, Leader McConnell has misled the American people. For weeks, he has insisted that he will adhere to the rules used during the Clinton impeachment trial and that ‘fair is fair’ – but his proposal rejects the need for witnesses and documents during the trial itself. In contrast, for the Clinton trial, witnesses were deposed and the President provided more than 90,000 documents.

    “President Trump undermined our national security, jeopardized the integrity of our elections and violated the Constitution all for his own personal, political gain. He has repeatedly said that he would do so again. Duty, honor and country are at stake. Every Senator who supports this sham process must be held accountable to the American people.”
     
  2. Czer

    Czer I'm a poor person. The lambo is my cousin's.

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    We Regret to Inform You that Hillary Clinton Is at It Again
    1.21.2020

    https://jacobinmag.com/2020/01/hillary-clinton-bernie-sanders-documentary-quote-election

    In an absurd interview with the Hollywood Reporter, Hillary Clinton — one of the least popular politicians in modern memory — trashes Bernie Sanders, one of the most popular. Yet again, Clinton has showcased the elitism and cluelessness that cost her the 2016 election.

    As she’s periodically done since losing the 2016 election to the former host of TV’s The Apprentice, Hillary Clinton today issued yet another salvo against Bernie Sanders.

    In an interview with the Hollywood Reporter intended to promote a forthcoming (and reportedly fluffy) documentary set to debut on Hulu in March, the former Secretary of State offered up a by-now-familiar series of complaints concerning her unexpected defeat. Much of the conversation is therefore a kind of greatest hits collection showcasing all the top-charting Clinton A-sides, from Bernie Bros to a series of intensely generic observations about Fox News. The exception, if it even deserves to be called that, is a particularly hostile comment about Sanders that arguably exceeds anything Clinton has said before in terms of sheer noxiousness:

    He was in Congress for years. He had one senator support him. Nobody likes him, nobody wants to work with him, he got nothing done. He was a career politician. It’s all just baloney and I feel so bad that people got sucked into it.

    (The comment in question is actually a quote that will appear in the documentary itself, so it may even come with supplementary material when the film debuts in a couple of months. Stay tuned …)

    Their bitterness notwithstanding, nothing about Clinton’s remarks adds anything to the mix that hasn’t been swirling around since November 2016, and the rebuttals to the self-serving narrative they’re intended to perpetuate practically write themselves.

    Sanders, it hardly needs saying, both endorsed and campaigned for Clinton — holding some seventeen events in eleven states during the last week of the campaign alone. Breaking with much of the US media, he actively discouraged focus on the scandal surrounding her private email server and conducted a campaign far less negative in tone than the one she herself had waged against Obama in 2008 (never once suggesting he intended to remain in the race because his opponent might be assassinated, as Clinton quite literally did eight years earlier). Contrary to the risible story Clinton and her apologists like to tell, women are actually more likely to support Sanders than men — a basic demographic fact demonstrated so regularly by opinion polling that anyone saying otherwise is trading in quite deliberate falsehood.

    rank as America’s most popular Senator while Clinton’s subterranean approval ratings quite literally rival Donald Trump’s. Clinton’s dismissal of Sanders, a longtime political outsider, as a “career politician” is also a bit rich given her own history as Washington’s consummate political insider, and her contention to have known nothing about the activities of close ally Harvey Weinstein (whose behavior was an open secret) deserves to raise some eyebrows.

    But in her claim that “nobody likes” or “wants to work with” Sanders, Clinton is inadvertently telling us how little she has seriously reflected on the events of 2016 or the actual causes of her historic defeat. Though absurd on its face — Sanders is hugely popular and innumerable people in different capacities have long sought to cooperate and collaborate with him — Clinton is almost certainly saying something less literal and a lot more contemptible than it might initially appear. In her lexicon, and in this context, “nobody” plainly refers to the likes of elite pundits, establishment politicians, and big donors more than it does to members of the public or rank-and-file supporters of the Democratic Party.

    In this sense, she’s actually quite correct: Sanders is widely disliked within the upper echelons of the American political class and throughout the corporate media. Despite securing the endorsement of only a single fellow senator in 2016 he drew huge crowds across the country and secured even more support from young voters than Obama in 2008. Much of his appeal, then as now, was due to a career spent rejecting the politics of triangulation and elite brokerage preferred by Clinton and other elite Democrats in favor of movement-building and mass democracy.

    In short, Sanders embraces a broader and more inclusive definition of whose interests and opinions should ultimately matter. Though Clinton’s latest round of comments undoubtedly have a personal and self-serving motivation, it’s this that has always constituted her real beef with Sanders and his supporters — and what lies at the root of the elite contempt he’s inspired since he deigned to challenge Liberalism Inc.’s heir apparent just four years ago.
     
  3. AgelessDrifter

    AgelessDrifter TZT Neckbeard Lord

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    Why the fuck is anyone still reporting on what Clinton thinks at this point
     
  4. Czer

    Czer I'm a poor person. The lambo is my cousin's.

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    Senate rejects amendment to impeachment trial seeking witnesses, documents
    January 21, 2020

    https://nypost.com/2020/01/21/senat...mpeachment-trial-seeking-witnesses-documents/

    The Senate voted along party lines Tuesday to table an amendment proposed by Democrats seeking to subpoena additional documents and witnesses in President Trump’s impeachment trial — killing the effort at least for now.

    The amendment, introduced by Sen. Chuck Schumer, would have compelled the Senate to subpoena former national security adviser John Bolton and a host of other administration figures linked to the president’s call for Ukraine to announce investigations, went down on a party line vote of 53 to 47.

    The amendment sought records of documents, communications, notes, phone conversations and meetings from the White House, the National Security Council and other individuals who played a role in the Ukraine matter that led to Trump’s impeachment by the House.

    “The witnesses I’ve requested have gotten a lot of attention — and rightfully so,” Schumer said.

    “The documents are of equal importance. People should understand that the documents can shed as much light on why the [military] aid was cut off, who did it, and how it evolved, as the witnesses. And we feel very strongly that we need documents and that’s why it’s our first call.”

    Attorney Patrick Philbin, part of Trump’s defense team, argued that the House should have gathered the evidence before voting Dec. 18 to impeach the president.

    “It is not the role of the Senate to be doing an investigation and to be doing discovery in a matter like the impeachment of the president of the United States,” Philbin said.

    “If the house has not done the investigation and cannot support its case, then it is not the time that once it arrives here to start doing all of that work. That is something that is the house’s role.“

    Rep. Adam Schiff, one of the top House impeachment managers, argued in response that Trump had blocked witnesses from testifying and refused to turn over documents.

    And he bristled at Philbin’s assertion that the House was not ready to proceed.

    “We are ready. The House calls John Bolton. The House calls John Bolton. The House calls Mick Mulvaney. Let’s get this trial started, shall we? We are ready to present our case. We are ready to call our witnesses. The question is, will you let us? That is the question,” Schiff said moments before the vote.

    Democrats would have needed four GOP senators to reach the 51-vote threshold needed to get the information they wanted.

    Republicans hold a 53-47 majority in the Senate.

    Democrats immediately proposed a second amendment seeking other documents, including calls between the White House and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky and information from Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, and the State Department.

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he would move to table Schumer’s second amendment.
     
  5. Czer

    Czer I'm a poor person. The lambo is my cousin's.

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    Kushner is in Israel

    US team meets Mideast officials to discuss peace plan rollout
    The United States’s peace team is currently attending the World Economic Forum in Davos before traveling to Israel to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Blue and White leader Benny Gantz
    JANUARY 21, 2020

    [​IMG]

    https://www.jpost.com/Middle-East/K...-peace-plan-with-Middle-East-officials-614860

    WASHINGTON – The United States’s peace team – Jared Kushner, senior adviser to the president; Avi Berkowitz, special representative for international negotiation; and Brian Hook, special representative for Iran — is holding a series of meetings with Middle East officials and other relevant leaders to discuss a possible rollout of the US administration peace plan. The three are currently attending the World Economic Forum in Davos, where they are expected to stay until Wednesday, before traveling to Israel to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Blue and White leader Benny Gantz.

    Earlier this week, Berkowitz also met with Middle East officials in London to discuss the plan, The Jerusalem Post had learned. The sensitive talks are taking place amid growing speculations that the administration could introduce the deal in the upcoming days. While no decision has been made, it is likely that US President Donald Trump will decide whether to release the plan in the coming days in order to avoid making the announcement too close to Israel’s elections in March.

    Gantz, who previously opposed releasing the plan before the elections, flipped his position on Tuesday, saying that he would welcome such a move.

    Asked about the possibility that the plan would soon be published, Gantz said, “I hope that [US] President [Donald] Trump will bring this forward and publish the plan,” adding that “several weeks have gone past. In the Middle East, a lot of dramatic things are happening, and I expect the plan will be published.”

    Two weeks ago, Gantz said that publication of the plan would be “gross intervention in the election process of the State of Israel.”
    The entire peace team, Kushner, Berkowitz and Hook, will arrive in Israel on Wednesday, while dozens of foreign leaders are visiting the country. It was not immediately apparent whom they are expected to meet while in Israel, aside from Netanyahu and Gantz.

    It is the second time in the last few weeks that a representative of the peace treaty visit Israel. On January 7, Berkowitz, together with US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Prime Minister’s Residence to discuss the Trump administration’s peace plan. The two also met later with Benny Gantz. The visit marked Berkowitz’s first trip to Israel since he formally succeeded Jason Greenblatt in November.

    The US peace team originally planned to roll out the political part of the plan last summer but decided to wait until a new government in Israel was sworn in. Since then, Israel has been experiencing unprecedented political deadlock and now faces a third round of elections.
     
  6. Czer

    Czer I'm a poor person. The lambo is my cousin's.

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    U.S. Senate votes to block Democrats' call for White House documents in impeachment trial
    JANUARY 21, 2020

    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-...-documents-in-impeachment-trial-idUSKBN1ZK2RN

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Senate on Tuesday voted to block, at least for now, Democrats’ demand that White House documents be subpoenaed for use in President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial.

    In the first vote of this historic trial on whether Trump should be ousted from office, Senate Republicans banded together to stop the move by Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer. The partisan vote was 53-47 to kill Schumer’s amendment.
     
  7. Czer

    Czer I'm a poor person. The lambo is my cousin's.

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    White House counsel falsely claims Adam Schiff blocked Republicans from attending classified impeachment meetings
    1/21/2020

    https://theweek.com/speedreads/8907...rom-attending-classified-impeachment-meetings

    The fact checkers came out quickly in response to White House Counsel Pat Cipollone on Tuesday.

    In his opening remarks at President Trump's Senate impeachment trial, Cipollone argued that Trump faced unprecedented violations of due process while the House was conducting its impeachment inquiry last year. He said House Democrats were running the investigation from a "basement" and accused House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) of blocking his Republicans colleagues from entering the Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility.



    As it turns out, GOP lawmakers on the House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs, and Oversight Committees were indeed welcome to join those proceedings, and while many of them chose not to attend, several participated. Tim O'Donnell

     
  8. Czer

    Czer I'm a poor person. The lambo is my cousin's.

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  9. Czer

    Czer I'm a poor person. The lambo is my cousin's.

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    U.N. experts demand probe into alleged Saudi hack of Amazon boss Bezos
    JANUARY 21, 2020

    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-...-bezos-phone-un-report-will-say-idUSKBN1ZL0C9

    SAN FRANCISCO/CAIRO (Reuters) - U.N. experts have demanded an immediate investigation by U.S. and other authorities into allegations that Saudi Arabia’s crown prince was involved in a plot to hack the phone of Amazon boss Jeff Bezos.

    The U.N. special rapporteurs, Agnes Callamard and David Kaye, said on Wednesday that they had information pointing to the “possible involvement” of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the alleged 2018 cyberattack.

    Saudi officials dismissed the allegations as absurd.

    Callamard, the special rapporteur for extra-judicial killings, and Kaye, special rapporteur for free expression, said the allegation of Saudi involvement “demands immediate investigation by U.S. and other relevant authorities”.

    They said a forensic analysis of the alleged hacking, which a person familiar with the matter said had been commissioned by Bezos, concluded his phone was probably hijacked by a malicious video file sent from a WhatsApp account purportedly belonging to the crown prince in April or May of 2018.

    The rapporteurs said the analysis, which they deemed credible, found that within hours of receiving the video there was “an anomalous and extreme change” in the device’s behavior, with the level of outgoing data from the phone jumping nearly 300-fold.

    KHASHOGGI KILLING

    The allegations could further damage relations between billionaire tech tycoon Bezos and Riyadh, and risk harming the kingdom’s reputation with foreign powers and investors.

    The alleged cyberattack is said to have taken place months before the 2018 murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a fierce critic of the Saudi government and a columnist for the Bezos-owned Washington Post.

    Prince Mohammed, or MbS, said last year that the killing was carried out by rogue operatives and that he did not order it.

    Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud dismissed the allegations of the prince’s involvement in any phone hack of Bezos.

    “I think ‘absurd’ is exactly the right word,” he told Reuters in an interview in Davos. “The idea that the crown prince would hack Jeff Bezos’ phone is absolutely silly.”

    The special rapporteurs report to the U.N. Human Rights Council, but they are independent watchdogs and not U.N. officials. Their recommendations are not binding on countries, though are widely seen as carrying moral weight.

    NATIONAL ENQUIRER

    In another previous flashpoint between the Amazon founder and Riyadh, Bezos’ security chief said last year that the Saudi government had gained access to his phone and leaked messages to U.S. tabloid the National Enquirer between Bezos and Lauren Sanchez, an ex-TV anchor who the newspaper said he was dating.

    A month before, Bezos had accused the newspaper’s owner of trying to blackmail him with the threat of publishing “intimate photos” he allegedly sent to Sanchez.

    The Saudi government has denied having anything to do with the National Enquirer reporting.

    The Guardian first reported the crown prince’s alleged involvement in a phone hacking plot on Bezos.

    Saudi Arabia’s U.S. embassy also dismissed the allegations.

    “We call for an investigation on these claims so that we can have all the facts out,” it said in a message posted on Twitter.

    Amazon (AMZN.O) declined to comment.
     
  10. Czer

    Czer I'm a poor person. The lambo is my cousin's.

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    Chief Justice John Roberts drops 'pettifogging' bomb while reprimanding both sides in impeachment trial
    Jan 22 2020

    https://www.usatoday.com/story/news...ZENzMQQrDZgouOaFWaTFd3QNC9-0MHXJxFvvgCOHxmTeU

    WASHINGTON – Chief Justice John Roberts admonished both the House managers and the president’s counsel after a fiery back and forth during the debate over amendments to the resolution outlining the rules and format of the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump.

    Roberts said he felt he had to "admonish" both sides "in equal terms to remember that they are addressing the world's greatest deliberative body. One reason it has earned that title is because its members avoid speaking in a manner, and using language that is not conducive to civil discourse."

    Roberts reprimanded the panels amid an argument over whether former national security adviser John Bolton should be subpoenaed to testify before the Senate.

    To illustrate his point about the level of civility expected in the Senate, Roberts referenced an incident from the 1905 impeachment trial of Florida District Judge Charles Swayne, when one senator took issue with a House manager using the word "pettifogging" (which is an old-fashioned term for "worrying too much about details that are minor or unimportant, according to Merriam-Webster).

    "In the 1905 Swayne trial, a senator objected when one of the managers used the word 'pettifogging.' And the presiding officer said the word ought not to have been used. I don't think we need to aspire to that high of a standard, but I do think those addressing the Senate should remember where they are," Roberts said.

    In a heated back-and-forth between Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler and White House counsel Pat Cipollone, Nadler said if senators voted against calling Bolton to testify they would be "part of the coverup."

    "Either you want the truth and you must permit the witnesses or you want a shameful cover-up. History will judge and so will the electorate," Nadler argued.

    Cipollone shot back, calling for Nadler to apologize to the Senate, the president and "most of all, you owe an apology to the American people."

    "Mr. Nadler came up here and made false allegations against our team. He made false allegations against all of you. He accused you of a coverup," Cipollone said. “The only one who should be embarrassed, Mr. Nadler, is you for the way you've addressed this body. This is the United States Senate. You're not in charge here."

    The admonishment was the first major interjection by Roberts – who strives to keep the Supreme Court above the daily political fray – in the trial so far.

    "This is his most prominent chance on the national stage to show his commitment to being a fair, neutral arbiter," said Jeffrey Rosen, president of the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia. “Chief Justice Roberts cares more than anything about the nonpartisan, institutional legitimacy of the courts."
     
  11. Czer

    Czer I'm a poor person. The lambo is my cousin's.

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    Israeli Cyber attack Firm NSO May Have Helped Saudis Hack Jeff Bezos' Phone, UN Experts Say
    Saudi officials dismiss the allegations as absurd ■ NSO denies claims: 'We can say unequivocally that our technology was not used'
    Jan 22, 2020

    https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news...ack-jeff-bezos-phone-un-experts-say-1.8435772

    Israeli cyber attack firm NSO and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman may have been involved in a plot to hack the phone of Amazon's billionaire boss Jeff Bezos, United Nations experts said on Wednesday.

    The UN special rapporteurs, Agnes Callamard and David Kaye, said they had information pointing to the "possible involvement" of the prince and the Israeli spyware company in the alleged 2018 cyberattack. Saudi officials have dismissed the allegations as absurd.

    NSO denied the suggestion in a statement, asserting that it could "say unequivocally that our technology was not used in this instance," and that the claims "highlight the need for the surveillance community to follow our lead and implement strict Human Rights Policies and to act in a compliant manner."

    Cybersecurity experts hired by Bezos, the world's richest man, concluded his phone was probably infiltrated by a video file sent from a WhatsApp account purportedly belonging to Prince Mohammed in 2018, according to a person familiar with the matter.

    They said the device began leaking massive amounts of data about a month afterwards, the source said.

    Callamard, the special rapporteur for extra-judicial killings, and Kaye, special rapporteur for free expression, said the allegation of Saudi involvement "demands immediate investigation by U.S. and other relevant authorities".

    Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud dismissed the allegations on Wednesday.

    "I think 'absurd' is exactly the right word," he told Reuters in an interview in Davos. "The idea that the crown prince would hack Jeff Bezos' phone is absolutely silly."

    The allegations could nonetheless further damage relations between tech tycoon Bezos and Riyadh, and risk harming the kingdom's reputation with foreign powers and investors.

    The alleged cyberattack is said to have taken place months before the 2018 murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a fierce critic of the Saudi government and a columnist for the Bezos-owned Washington Post.

    Prince Mohammed, or MbS, said last year that the killing was carried out by rogue operatives and that he did not order it.

    In another previous flashpoint, Bezos' security chief said last year that the Saudi government had gained access to the Amazon CEO's phone and leaked messages to U.S. tabloid the National Enquirer between Bezos and Lauren Sanchez, a former TV anchor who the newspaper said he was dating.

    A month before, Bezos had accused the newspaper's owner of trying to blackmail him with the threat of publishing "intimate photos" he allegedly sent to Sanchez.

    The Saudi government has denied having anything to do with the National Enquirer reporting.

    The Guardian first reported the crown prince's alleged involvement in a phone hacking plot on Bezos.

    Saudi Arabia's U.S. embassy also dismissed the allegations.
    "We call for an investigation on these claims so that we can have all the facts out," it said in a message posted on Twitter.

    Amazon declined to comment.
     
  12. Czer

    Czer I'm a poor person. The lambo is my cousin's.

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  13. Czer

    Czer I'm a poor person. The lambo is my cousin's.

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  14. Czer

    Czer I'm a poor person. The lambo is my cousin's.

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    Exclusive: Giuliani told U.S. his client deserves leniency for financing Venezuela's opposition - Parnas
    JANUARY 22, 2020

    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-venezuela-politics-guaido-giuliani-idUSKBN1ZL1AR

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - At a lavish August gathering at a private estate in Spain, a wealthy Venezuelan businessman under criminal investigation in the United States introduced Rudy Giuliani, President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, to the father of Venezuela’s opposition leader, Juan Guaido.

    The affair was part of a campaign for leniency for the businessman, Alejandro Betancourt, who sought to demonstrate his close ties to opposition figures looking to oust Venezuela’s socialist President Nicolas Maduro - a key objective of the Trump administration.

    Betancourt told Giuliani he secretly helped bankroll Guaido’s efforts to take over the leadership of Venezuela, according to four people familiar with the situation, two of whom provided details about the meeting in Spain. Betancourt hoped those bona fides would enable Giuliani, his lawyer, to persuade Trump’s Justice Department to drop its probe of Betancourt in connection with a Florida money laundering and bribery case, the people said.

    A month later, at a meeting in Washington, D.C., Giuliani urged Justice Department prosecutors to go easy on Betancourt, according to a person with direct knowledge of the meeting, and Lev Parnas, a former Giuliani associate, who said Giuliani told him about it soon afterward. Parnas and the other person said Giuliani told prosecutors that Betancourt had provided assistance for Guaido’s political efforts, and was therefore doing good work for the United States.

    This is the first time Parnas detailed his story about Betancourt, Giuliani and Venezuela.

    Giuliani declined to confirm meeting with U.S. prosecutors on Betancourt’s behalf and wouldn’t say whether the Venezuelan businessman is a client. “Lev Parnas has no right to be talking about that meeting,” Giuliani told Reuters in a brief phone interview. “It was a confidential meeting - if it did happen.”

    “Lev Parnas’s credibility is worth nothing,” Giuliani said.

    The Justice Department declined to comment. Betancourt and his attorney Frank Wohl did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

    Reuters couldn’t determine whether Betancourt did provide financing to the U.S.-backed opposition or if he was just claiming he did.

    Guaido and the main opposition political party, Popular Will, both denied receiving funding from Betancourt. Guaido was a member of Popular Will until he stepped back from it earlier this month.

    “I do not know Mr. Betancourt, there is no relationship,” Guaido told Reuters. “As such, that is not possible.”

    Wilmer Guaido, Guaido’s father, denied meeting Betancourt in Spain. “I only support my son like the whole family against that criminal dictatorship but I have not met anyone,” he said.

    Giuliani’s meeting with Betancourt at the Spanish estate, and his efforts to lobby the Justice Department on the businessman’s behalf, were previously reported by the Washington Post. Reuters is the first to report that Betancourt told Giuliani that he provided financial support for Venezuela’s opposition, and that Giuliani touted that alleged assistance to U.S. prosecutors as a reason to remove the legal cloud dogging his client.

    The episode speaks to the complex roles that Giuliani, the former New York City mayor, has played in Washington since Trump took office in 2017.

    Giuliani frequently proclaims himself a business consultant and lawyer working on behalf of private clients. Yet he also enjoys extraordinary access to the halls of power as the president’s unpaid personal attorney - work that has landed him at the center of Trump’s impeachment trial.

    Any attempt by a Giuliani client to avoid possible prosecution by claiming to have been backing an American foreign policy objective - the toppling of Maduro in this case - could prove embarrassing to the administration.

    The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

    Parnas played a key role in Giuliani’s effort to dig up dirt on Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden in Ukraine for Trump. Now under indictment for campaign finance violations, Parnas has been sharing information with Capitol Hill impeachment investigators, as well as the media, about the extent of the work he did for Giuliani.

    Betancourt said “he was backing Guaido financially,” Parnas told Reuters, and “was helping America with his cause.”

    Since January 2019, the United States and dozens of other countries have recognized Guaido as Venezuela’s rightful president. But Maduro has remained firmly in power, much to the frustration of the Trump administration.

    Maduro’s government cut off paychecks for opposition lawmakers in 2016 after the opposition took control of the National Assembly.

    Claims that Betancourt helped finance his country’s opposition are potentially explosive in Venezuela, where the mogul forged a profitable relationship with the socialist government. Derwick Associates, his Caracas-based energy firm, obtained hundreds of millions of dollars in state contracts to build power plants under Maduro’s predecessor, Hugo Chavez, according to local media.

    In a statement to Reuters, the opposition Popular Will party said that “information about the supposed remittance of funds by Alejandro Betancourt to our political organization is not true.”

    The existence of the U.S. criminal probe of Betancourt was confirmed to Reuters by a source familiar with the matter. The Miami Herald reported last November that the investigation is linked to a large money laundering case in Miami, and that Betancourt is an unindicted co-conspirator listed, but not named, in legal records. The 2018 charges accused eight defendants of embezzling $1.2 billion from Venezuela’s government-owned oil company PDVSA, then laundering it through schemes in Miami involving false real estate and security deals.

    A representative of Betancourt who declined to be identified said the magnate “didn’t do anything and he has not been charged with any wrongdoing.” He also told Reuters that the businessman had provided “very substantial” financial support to Venezuela’s opposition.

    PDVSA did not respond to a request for comment.

    At the State Department, Elliott Abrams, the U.S. Special Representative for Venezuela, told Reuters the administration is aware of the lack of transparency in the opposition’s financing.

    “We’re concerned about who are all these people, and how did they make their money. And that is something we have raised with the opposition,” Abrams said.

    Asked whether Betancourt was one of those individuals of concern, Abrams said: “No comment on individual names.”

    He added that Giuliani had not been authorized to play any role in U.S. policy in Venezuela.

    ‘HELPING THE UNITED STATES’

    Parnas said the August meeting at Betancourt’s estate outside Madrid, and the presence of Guaido’s father, were meant to demonstrate Betancourt’s strong ties to Guaido and his support for U.S. interests in Venezuela. It was to show Giuliani “that Betancourt is a really important person for the cause and that he is helping America,” Parnas said.

    The lobbying took place in Washington the month after the Spain meeting. Giuliani met with Assistant U.S. Attorney General Brian Benczkowski, a Justice Department lawyer working on the case, and some other government lawyers, according to Parnas and the person with direct knowledge of that meeting.

    Department of Justice spokesman Peter Carr, who handles communications for Benczkowski, said the department declined to comment.

    The person said Giuliani was there with two other Betancourt lawyers, and made his pitch that the prosecutors let Betancourt off the hook for the case in Florida.

    Giuliani first insisted there wasn’t enough evidence to prosecute the case. He then moved to U.S. foreign policy, pointing to Betancourt’s alleged support for Guaido. “This guy’s been helping the United States,” the person with direct knowledge of the meeting said in describing Giuliani’s reasoning.

    Giuliani argued that Betancourt was crucial to the survival of the Venezuelan opposition, and he urged the Justice Department lawyers to talk to Guaido themselves to corroborate his claims, the person said.
     
  15. Czer

    Czer I'm a poor person. The lambo is my cousin's.

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    Supreme Court Poised to Overturn 38 State Constitutional Amendments on Church-State Separation
    Jan. 22, 2020

    https://www.thedailybeast.com/supreme-court-poised-to-overturn-38-state-constitutional-amendments-on-church-state-separation

    Religious conservatives asked the Supreme Court Wednesday to overturn 38 state constitutional amendments and require taxpayers to fund religious schools.

    You read that right. The case, Espinoza v. Montana Dept. of Revenue isn’t about whether a state may fund religious schools through a school choice, voucher, or similar program. It’s about whether it must.

    And the conservatives might just win.

    At issue in the case, probably the most significant church-state case on the 2019-20 docket, is Montana’s “no-aid” amendment to its state constitution, which was revised and passed in 1972. Like similar amendments in 37 other states, it prohibits “direct or indirect funding” for any “sectarian purpose.”

    In 2015, the state legislature passed a law that gave a tax credit of up to $150 for donations to a school scholarship program. But in 2018, the Montana Supreme Court struck down the program, saying it violated the 1972 constitutional provision.[JM1]

    That’s when a group of religious organizations upped the ante. They went to the Supreme Court, seeking not just to reinstate the program but to toss out the “no-aid” amendment entirely – and, as a consequence, invalidate 37 similar amendments across the country.

    That would open the floodgates to the funding of religious schools, especially since the plaintiffs argue that not funding them—previously the constitutional norm—is actually a form of discrimination.

    As in many of these cases, how Espinoza looks depends on how you frame it.

    For conservatives, this is discrimination. If I want to send my child to a secular private school, I can receive funding (or a voucher, or a scholarship, or whatever). But if I want to send her to a religious one, I can’t.

    Moreover, the religious groups accurately note, “no-aid” amendments were originally passed in a wave of anti-Catholic, anti-immigrant animus in the 1870s and 1880s. They’re sometimes called “Blaine Amendments,” after Rep. James Blaine, a leading Republican[JM2] of his day who proposed a federal constitutional amendment banning such funding. That effort failed, but numerous “Baby Blaine” amendments passed on the state level.

    Today, they may seem like liberal walls between church and state. But 150 years ago, they were motivated by anti-Italian, anti-Irish, and overall anti-Catholic prejudice. (Even the word “sectarian” as opposed to “religious” was code for Catholic.)

    For liberals, however, public funding of religious schools is blatantly unconstitutional.

    Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, said on a press call prior to the case that “it’s a total and utter perversion of the Constitution… to mandate support for a particular religion.”

    The justices seemed divided at oral argument.

    Justice Stephen Breyer seemed concerned that if the plaintiffs win here, states would have to radically restructure how they fund education. After all, isn’t it discrimination to fund public, secular schools more than private religious ones?

    (Incidentally, RBG fans can take heart: Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg was as lively and combative as ever, and focused on whether the Court should even be hearing the state constitutional challenge in the first place.)

    But Justices Brett Kavanaugh, Samuel Alito, and Neil Gorsuch suggested that ruling for the plaintiffs wouldn’t represent such a radical change. Even if the no-aid amendments are wiped out, states would still be free not to fund private education in general. It’s only when states choose to fund some private education that they must make funding available to both religious and secular institutions.

    Oddly, the practical result of that position isn’t very different from that of the Montana supreme court, which tossed out the program in toto. Except that the conservative justices’ position might well overturn 37 state constitutional amendments in the process.

    Chief Justice John Roberts, working on very few hours’ sleep after presiding at the impeachment trial of the president, said a bit less than usual, though he did crack two jokes. But if the case splits on ideological lines, Roberts will again find himself as the deciding vote.

    Which way will he go? Recent cases, including the 2017 case of Trinity Lutheran Church v. Comer, suggest he may favor the religious plaintiffs.

    In Trinity Lutheran, Roberts was able to win over Justices Elana Kagan and Breyer, and the Court voted 7-2 to uphold a program that made state money available to private schools – religious and secular – for playground renovations. Chief Justice Roberts wrote the opinion narrowly, but his language still made clear that he views these cases as about discrimination against religious people, rather than public funding of religious organizations.

    The First Amendment, he wrote, allows a state “to extend that public benefit to all its citizens regardless of their religious belief.” And denying funds to the religiously-affiliated school “expressly discriminates against otherwise eligible recipients by disqualifying them from a public benefit solely because of their religious character.”

    That would suggest a ruling for Espinoza and the other religious plaintiffs here. If this case is about discrimination, the plaintiffs win.

    The trouble with this supposedly “moderate” result is that Montana’s program is actually more modest than many of the “school choice” programs promoted by, among others, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and her family’s multi-million-dollar foundations.

    Montana, after all, only offered a $150 tax credit for donors to an overall pool of money. (Indeed, it seems designed to gradually push the boundaries of constitutional law.) What about states that would grant a dollar-for-dollar tax credit up to the total amount of a private school tuition?

    For example, full-price tuition at one of the Montana religious schools in the case runs between $6,900 and $8,700. That’s far more than most people pay in state taxes.

    So if Montana’s more modest program is reinstated and the no-aid amendments are struck down, other, less modest programs could easily be put into place. The result could be a massive shift in revenue from state coffers to the bank accounts of religious schools.

    That would, of course, please DeVos and other religious conservatives, but it would also starve public education.

    Moreover, while the Blaine Amendment was indeed motivated by discriminatory animus, Montana’s own “no-aid” amendment was passed in 1972 when the constitution as a whole was rewritten. In its filings with the Supreme Court, the state quoted several participants from those debates; they denied that any anti-religious animus was at play, and, on the contrary, noted that many religious leaders wanted the amendment in order to keep government out of religious schools’ business.

    That revised constitution passed 80-17.

    Finally, religious conservatives’ argument in Espinoza flies in the face of conservatives’ usual promotion of federalism and states’ rights. When states seek to restrict voting access, allow discrimination against LGBT people, or ban abortion, “states’ rights” is a right-wing rallying cry. But now, when 37 states prohibit taxpayer dollars from flowing to religious institutions, suddenly it’s not that important.

    In a way, the Espinoza case is an apt reflection of how religious conservatives (including many extremists) have benefited from their support of Trump. Most eyes are focused on Chief Justice Roberts’s other job of the moment, with its high drama and political machinations. But while Trump’s antics deservedly get the spotlight, just out of view are a group of well-funded religious conservatives who are totally remaking church and state in America.

    They most likely scored another victory today.
     
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    More impeachment trial scenes the Senate TV cameras won't show
    1/22/2020

    https://www.wral.com/more-impeachment-trial-scenes-the-senate-tv-cameras-wont-show/18903606/

    CNN — Press access to the Senate chamber for the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump remains severely restricted, and the only television coverage is through cameras controlled by the Senate itself.

    As the trial plays out, the public has not seen senators -- in possible violation of Senate trial rules -- standing and walking away from their desks. Or the protester who dashed into the gallery. And the cameras missed moments like Sen. Susan Collins, a Maine Republican, sending a note early Wednesday morning to the dais, right before Chief Justice John Roberts admonished the legal teams.
     
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    Saudi Arabia Involved in Hacking Amazon Boss Bezos' Phone, UN Set to Declare
    The Guardian investigation, which Riyadh denies, could worsen relations between the kingdom and the owner of Washington Post, where slain journalist Khashoggi was a columnist
    Jan 22, 2020

    https://www.haaretz.com/us-news/sau...ef-phone-was-hacked-by-crown-prince-1.8434075

    Two UN officials will report on Wednesday that there is enough evidence suggesting that Saudi Arabia had hacked Amazon.com Inc founder Jeff Bezos' phone and both the kingdom and the United States should investigate, a person familiar with the matter said.

    The United Nations' officials plan a public statement asserting that they found credible a forensic report commissioned by Bezos' security team which concluded that his phone probably had been hacked with a tainted video sent from a WhatsApp account belonging to Saudi's crown prince Mohammed bin Salman.

    The report by FTI Consulting concluded that massive amounts of data began leaving Bezos' phone about a month after the video was shared in mid-2018, the person said, declining to be identified due to the sensitivity of the subject.

    Outside experts consulted by the UN agreed that while the case was not airtight, the evidence was strong enough to warrant a fuller investigation.

    The report is set to worsen relations between the world's richest man and the kingdom which had soured following the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018, who was also a columnist for the Bezos-owned Washington Post.

    The Guardian first reported the crown prince's alleged involvement. It said the encrypted message from the number used by the crown prince is believed to have included a malicious file that infiltrated the phone Bezos had used and extracted large amounts of data.

    Saudi Arabia's U.S. embassy dismissed the report.

    "Recent media reports that suggest the Kingdom is behind a hacking of Mr. Jeff Bezos' phone are absurd. We call for an investigation on these claims so that we can have all the facts out," it said in a message posted on Twitter.

    Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud said on Wednesday that the allegation was "absurd."

    "I think absurd is exactly the right word," Prince Faisal told Reuters in an interview at the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos. "The idea that the crown prince would hack Jeff Bezos' phone is absolutely silly."

    The UN statement will come from Agnes Callamard, special rapporteur for extra-judicial killings, and David Kaye, special rapporteur for free expression.

    They are building toward a fuller report they expect to give to the UN in June, the person said. They said in Twitter posts that they will be releasing a statement on Wednesday addressing the Guardian report.

    Amazon declined to comment.

    The relationship between the Amazon chief executive and the Saudi government had soured since early last year after he alluded to Saudi Arabia's displeasure at the Washington Post's coverage of the murder of Khashoggi.

    Bezos' security chief said at the time that Saudi had access to his phone and gained private information from it involving text messages between him and a former television anchor, who the National Enquirer tabloid newspaper said Bezos was dating.
     
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    Impeachment Manager: Trump Just Confessed to Obstructing Congress
    January 22nd, 2020

    https://lawandcrime.com/impeachment...trump-just-confessed-to-obstructing-congress/

    President Donald Trump on Wednesday said he thought the Senate impeachment trial was going “very well” for him, noting that his administration has not provided congressional investigators with any of the material necessary to make their case.

    Speaking to reporters from the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Trump directly addressed the proceedings, saying he was happy with what he’d seen thus far.

    “When we released that conversation, all hell broke out with the Democrats because they say, ‘wait a minute this is much different than [what] shifty [Rep. Adam] Schiff told us.’ So, we’re doing very well,” Trump said.

    The president then weighed in on why he thought his legal team had been so successful, appearing to openly admit that he and his administration had actively prevented Congress from obtaining material evidence directly relevant to the impeachment proceedings.

    “I got to watch enough – I thought our team did a very good job. But honestly, we have all the material. They don’t have the material,” he said.

    Rep. Val Demings (D-Fla.), one of the House impeachment managers tasked with arguing the case against Trump in the Senate, caught wind of Trump comments and immediately accused President Trump of confessing to and bragging about committing an impeachable offense.

    “The second article of impeachment was for obstruction of Congress: covering up witnesses and documents from the American people,” Demings, a former law enforcement officer, wrote. “This morning the President not only confessed to it, he bragged about it: ‘Honestly, we have all the material. They don’t have the material.’”



    Throughout the impeachment inquiry, the Trump administration has stonewalled congress at every opportunity, refusing to produce any documents demanded by lawmakers and instructing current and former White House officials not to comply with demands to testify. The Clinton administration, by contrast, provided Congress with nearly 100,000 pages worth of documents and multiple allowed multiple witnesses to testify during the impeachment trial of Bill Clinton.

    “Trump, who obstructed Congress by withholding documents and witnesses, just told reporters in Davos that the House doesn’t have the evidence, ‘we’ have all the evidence,” former director of the U.S. Office of Government Ethics Walter Shaub wrote of Trump’s comments. “Given that one of the charges is obstruction, that’s as brazenly corrupt and cynical as it gets.”



    Other comments were made in the same vein.



     
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    After interview, Pompeo cursed at reporter, yelled: 'Do you think Americans care about Ukraine?'
    Jan/25/2020

    https://www.usatoday.com/story/news...mb-after-being-questioned-ukraine/4569387002/

    WASHINGTON – Secretary of State Mike Pompeo used the "F-word" and other expletives after a testy interview with a National Public Radio host on Friday, the news outlet said.

    Pompeo unloaded on NPR's Mary Louise Kelly after an interview in which she questioned him on Ukraine and Iran, among other issues. He grew extremely irritated by Kelly's Ukraine questions, according to NPR.

    "'Do you think Americans care about Ukraine?'" Pompeo apparently shouted at Kelly after the interview. The State Department's press office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

    Pompeo is scheduled to travel to Ukraine next week for a meeting with that country's president, Volodymyr Zelensky, a central figure in the impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump. Ukraine is a pivotal U.S. ally in the effort to counter Russian aggression.

    The State Department said Pompeo is going to Kyiv to "highlight U.S. support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity." The Eastern European country is at war with Russia.

    [​IMG]

    In the impeachment proceedings, House Democrats have charged Trump with abuse of power for soliciting foreign interference in the 2020 election, one of two articles of impeachment currently being tried in the Senate. Trump pressed Zelensky to open two investigations that would have helped his re-election campaign. As part of that pressure campaign, Trump ousted former U.S. Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, a career foreign service diplomat.

    Yovanovitch was targeted by Trump's personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, and Trump has publicly attacked her.

    "Do you owe Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch an apology?" Kelly asked Pompeo, who has declined to publicly defend the diplomat.

    "You know, I agreed to come on your show today to talk about Iran," he responded.

    Kelly pressed him. "I just want to give you another opportunity to answer this, because as you know, people who work for you in your department, people who have resigned from this department under your leadership, saying you should stand up for the diplomats who work here," she said.

    Pompeo said he had defended "every State Department official," to which Kelly said: "Sir, respectfully where have you defended Marie Yovanovitch?"

    "I've said all I'm going to say today," he responded.

    She then asked if he tried to block Giuliani's "shadow foreign policy" in Ukraine.

    "The Ukraine policy has been run from the Department of State for the entire time that I have been here, and our policy was very clear," he asserted. Numerous other State Department officials have testified that Giuliani and other Trump associates used irregular channels to pressure Zelensky.

    After the interview, Kelly said she was taken to the secretary of State's private living room, where Pompeo was waiting for her. "He shouted at me for about the same amount of time as the interview itself. He was not happy to have been questioned about Ukraine," Kelly said, in an account released by NPR with the interview transcript.

    She said he used the F-word and "many others" when he asking her if Americans cared about Ukraine. He then asked her if she could find Ukraine on a map.

    "I said yes, and he called out for aides to bring us a map of the world with no writing. I pointed to Ukraine," she recounted.

    Pompeo then said: "'People will hear about this.'"
     
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