The Charges Against Trump Campaign Chairman, Paul Manafort, Just Got Stacked a Little Higher

Former Trump campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, had better make a deal like his partner, Rick Gates, because he’s been hit with some new accusations.

According to court filings on Friday by special counsel Robert Mueller’s team, they’re claiming newly discovered criminal conduct from Manafort, listed as “a series of bank frauds and bank fraud conspiracies” relating to a mortgage on Manafort’s property in Fairfax, Va.

Manafort had recently requested that the conditions of his bail agreement be reconsidered. Mueller denied the request, based in part on this new information.

“The proposed package is deficient in the government’s view, in light of additional criminal conduct that we have learned since the court’s initial bail determination,” the prosecutors wrote in the court filing rejecting the bail proposal.

Manafort offered the Fairfax home as collateral in the bail agreement. Investigators said they found “substantial evidence” that Manafort had moved to obtain a $9 million mortgage for the home “through a series of false and fraudulent representations to The Federal Savings Bank.”

To be clear, new charges have not been brought, as a result of this new information. At this time, the charges against Manafort stand at conspiracy against the U.S. and money laundering, based on foreign consulting work they did for the pro-Russia party in Ukraine.

Manafort’s defense seems to be contained in a lawsuit he brought in January against those federal prosecutors. His claim is that the charges brought against him are for things that happened before he was a part of Trump’s campaign team, and as such, Mueller had no business stepping outside of the parameters of the Russia probe, in order to dig into his dirty, dirty past.

He may have a point, but smart money says that Mueller, for whatever charges he’s brought against Manafort and Gates, is less interested in pursuing them than he is in using them to squeeze the duo for “other” information.

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Water Cooler 2/17/18 – Open Thread – Joe Manchin; The Indictment


A short one from me today.

Joe Manchin

You’ve seen at RedState how Joe Manchin felt about Democratic behavior at the State of the Union address. And how he really really doesn’t want any Senators to say bad things about him.

Here he goes again. If a WV voter asks Manchin whether he is pro-life or pro-choice, the answer is “Yes”.

The Mueller indictments

You can have some fun opening the indictment and browsing or searching through it. Pages 17-23 go through various Twitter accounts, Facebook groups, and Instagram accounts they set up. It’s an impressive line-up. They obviously figured a Sanders-Trump matchup was a win-win for them, and the end they even tried to get Hillary voters to choose Jill Stein instead.

On or about November 3, 2016, Defendants and their co-conspirators purchased an advertisement to promote a post on the ORGANIZATION-controlled Instagram account “Blacktivist” that read in part: “Choose peace and vote for Jill Stein. Trust me, it’s not a wasted vote.”

This is a water cooler, and an open thread so feel free to add other topics. Have a great weekend!

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Those Leftover Trump Inauguration Funds Promised to Charities? We’ve Now Got the Rundown

They said that money would go to charity, but in the year since President Trump’s inauguration, nobody really knew what happened to the remainder of the whopping $107 million inauguration fund.

Our Patterico questioned the whereabouts of those funds on Monday of this week.

Well, Patty-cakes, we have an answer.

And not much of it really went to charity (as if we couldn’t have guessed as much).

According to a recent New York Times report, a few million did make it to a charitable organization or two, but the bulk went elsewhere.

The chairman of the 58th Presidential Inaugural Committee was longtime Trump pal, Thomas J. Barrack, Jr. Barrack assured us that the remainder of the funds would be carefully doled out to charities.

What required IRS filings showed was a lot of money spent on administrative expenses surrounding putting together events for wealthy Trump supporters and donors.

No small donation redcappers allowed.

By contrast, the return showed that the group’s charitable donations included only a previously publicized $3 million for hurricane relief, as well as a total of $1.75 million to groups involved in decorating and maintaining the White House and the vice president’s residence, and $250,000 for the Smithsonian Institution.

The grand portion – $57 million – went to four different event planning companies.

An even split?

Not quite. The bulk of that went to a pal of Melania Trump’s.

The company that received the biggest payment — $26 million — was WIS Media Partners of Marina del Rey, Calif. Records show that the firm was created in December 2016, about six weeks before the inauguration, and its founder, according to a person familiar with the firm, was Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, a longtime friend of Mrs. Trump’s. Otherwise there is very little information available about the company.

Wait – the company was only 6 weeks old and immediately warranted that much money? Even if you’re not outraged that the money promised to charity was given to celebrate Trump’s rich friends, this has to be a bit much.

Ms. Winston Wolkoff made her name planning Manhattan society galas. An associate of the Vogue editor Anna Wintour, Ms. Winston Wolkoff traveled in the same circles as Mrs. Trump, who attended Ms. Winston Wolkoff’s 40th birthday party in 2010. Ms. Winston Wolkoff has subsequently been brought on as a senior adviser to the first lady’s official government office.

OH, well that’s special.

Wolkoff is apparently a name-dropper, often invoking the First Lady’s name, while making whatever plans she made for the after-inauguration festivities.

Mr. Barrack praised Ms. Winston Wolkoff, saying she “executed her duties well.”

But Craig Holman, an official with the government watchdog group Public Citizen, which had called on the inaugural committee to release more details about its finances sooner, described the payments to Ms. Winston Wolkoff’s firm and other expenditures as “fiscal mismanagement at its worst.”

Much of the money paid to Ms. Winston Wolkoff’s firm and other event production companies was probably passed through to other vendors that provided goods or services on a subcontractor basis.

Yeah, but she wasn’t the only event planner involved. She’s just the one that got an exorbitant amount of cash from a fund that was supposed to go to charity.

Also reaping payments for event production services was Hargrove Inc., of Lanham, Md., a company that plans trade shows and other events, which was paid $25 million. David Monn of New York, who also is known for orchestrating society events and planned a state dinner for former President Barack Obama, was paid $3.7 million, which the operative said was primarily to plan two events, one of which was billed as a “candlelight dinner” attended by Mr. and Mrs. Trump, and Vice President Mike Pence and his wife, Karen Pence.

What are they eating that cost nearly $4 million? That’s a lot of Big Macs, Mr. President.

The committee spent heavily on administrative expenses, including $9.4 million on travel, $500,000 on legal fees, $237,000 on fund-raising and $4.6 million on salaries and benefits for its 208 employees. That included $100,000 paid to Rick Gates, the former Trump campaign aide, who has since been indicted on a host of charges by the special counsel investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, according to the operative who worked with the inaugural committee.

Rick Gates? I hope that money is enough to pay off his attorney fees.

By October, the inaugural committee had paid off most of the costs associated with rewarding Trump’s rich friends, and had $2.8 million left in the bank. They’re promising that as soon as they pay off the remaining expenses, they’ll be donating what’s left to charity, as promised.

Wow.

The committee pointed out that what they’ve already donated to six nonprofits, for a total of $5 million is more than former President Obama’s inaugural committee gave.

It might be because you guys had raised so much more.

Maybe.

So who got the $5 million?

The White House Historical Foundation got $1 million.

The Vice President’s Residence Foundation (They pay for redecorating and keeping up the home of the VP) got $700,000. That should cover some new drapes.

Three groups involved in the hurricane relief efforts got $1 million, each. Those would be the Salvation Army (worthy of much more), the American Red Cross, and Samaritan’s Purse (Hello, Franklin Graham).

Barrack had boasted, when questioned last summer, about the amount of funds that would be handed out to the various charities and nonprofit foundations, insisting that it would exceed any previous administration’s after-inaugural giving.

Ugh.

The inaugural committee split the costs of staging a range of festivities with the taxpayer-funded Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies and various federal, state and local government agencies. Security costs alone were predicted to surpass $100 million, which will eventually be paid for by the federal government.

“…paid for by the American taxpayers.”

There ya go. I fixed it for you.

Of those Trump supporters making big government great again, donor Sheldon Adelson gave $5 million.

Companies like Chevron, Boeing, and AT&T also donated.

You know, we should be used to liars and gross largess in politics, by now, but our ability to be outraged really seems to be dependent on our partisan politics.

In other words, I don’t expect Trump’s devotees to condemn this.

 

 

 

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Mills: Oil, Natural Gas Proved Reserves Increased In 2016

By Alex Mills Proved reserves of onshore crude oil and natural gas in the U.S. increased in 2016, according to a report issued this week by the Energy Information Administration (EIA). Crude oil proved reserves increased 3 percent and natural gas rose 5 percent compared to 2015, EIA stated. Proved reserves are estimated volumes of […]
Source: Pratt on Texas


It’s Not A Hoax, Mr. President: Take The Mueller Investigation Seriously

The indictment of thirteen Russians for various crimes spent relatively little time online before naysayers took to social media (ironically) to complain it was “nothing.” “It doesn’t matter.” “It doesn’t prove anybody in the Trump campaign was involved.” “This is all because some Russians used social media! That’s so stupid!”

Even President Trump got into it when he tweeted the following:

The mockery of Mueller’s investigation by those who wholly support the absurd conspiracy theory the Justice Department, FBI and Hillary Clinton campaign were in cahoots with each other to make sure Donald Trump lost, comes off looking rather silly after the charges were handed down.

Caleb made a good point on Twitter about those engaging in said mockery:

It goes even further than that. The same people who claim the Mueller indictments are absurd are typically the first tell you about all of their Twitter followers and the level of engagement they receive on social media. They promote their work, whether it’s writing, podcasts, video or a mixture of both using social media! People rely on social media sharing to drive traffic to their content. To get people to read. To get people to engage. To get people to believe.

Why is it so impossible to believe the Russians couldn’t do the same by creating fake social media accounts to drive engagement. Not in support of any one candidate, but instead in creating chaos within the political system?

Some of you no doubt know the name, Jenna Abrams. She may have followed you on Twitter. She never changed her avatar. It was always the same:

Jenna amassed tens of thousands of followers and people wanted her to follow them. But there was no Jenna. She was the product of a Russian troll farm outfit. But she had people fooled. From The Daily Beast:

Abrams, who at one point boasted nearly 70,000 Twitter followers, was featured in articles written by Bustle, U.S. News and World Report, USA Today, several local Fox affiliates, InfoWars, BET, Yahoo Sports, Sky News, IJR, Breitbart, The Washington Post, Mashable, New York Daily News, Quartz, Dallas News, France24, HuffPost, The Daily Caller, The Telegraph, CNN, the BBC, Gizmodo, The Independent, The Daily Dot, The Observer, Business Insider, The National Post, Refinery29, The Times of India, BuzzFeed, The Daily Mail, The New York Times, and, of course, Russia Today and Sputnik.

That is one hell of a list of publications. Everything from The Washington Post to Breitbart was fooled.

So why is so hard to believe the Russians couldn’t engage in the kind of chaos on a mass scale that would seek to interfere with our elections?

Remember, for Russia to claim success, their goal didn’t have to include supporting any one candidate. The goal was to sow seeds of distrust in the electoral system, the justice system, the political system and to turn Americans against each other. Looking at our political climate is there any doubt the Russians are celebrating?

President Trump may well not be connected to any of the activities of the Russians. In fact, it’s likely he’s not involved. The people who are part of the #Resist movement and think Trump will get indicted will likely wind up disappointed. But the president must show some leadership. In his tweet, he pretty much acknowledges the Russian malfeasance. He wants to separate himself from the events at hand but calling the investigation a “hoax” no longer applies.

President Trump can no longer sit back and choose to just dismiss the entire investigation and seek out ways to fire those associated with it. A foreign power attempted to meddle in our elections. It is time to take the Mueller investigation seriously, Mr. President.

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