The Main Event – August 24, 2018
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Backpedaling and Doubling Down
Now that we have a President who holds the media accountable for their bias, some reporters are finally asking liberals to answer for their explosive rhetoric. First, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo was asked whether he stood by what he said last week: that America “was never that great.” On a conference call with reporters Monday, Cuomo backpedaled his comment. “The expression I used the other day was inartful, so I want to be very clear: Of course America is great and of course America has always been great. No one questions that,” he said.
Then there’s former CIA Director John Brennan. On Meet the Press, Chuck Todd gave Brennan the opportunity to walk back his accusation that President Trump committed treason. But Brennan doubled down and seemed proud of himself for it, calling Trump a liar (again). Ed alert: “Does Trump lie, or does he just have a different perspective than the Democrats?”
Victories for the Witch Hunt
There were two victories for Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s witch hunt this week, starting with a conviction in the trial of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort. Now, he faces the possibility of an 80-year prison sentence – but what did Manafort actually do? Here’s an overview:
- Manafort was indicted in October on charges involving his work in the Ukraine: money laundering, failing to register as a foreign agent, and making false statements to investigators. He was tried on 18 counts alleging that he failed to file reports for foreign bank accounts, filed false income tax returns and committed bank fraud.
- Prosecutors said Manafort collected $65 million in foreign bank accounts from 2010 to 2014 and spent more than $15 million on luxury purchases in the same period, including high-end clothing, real estate, landscaping and other big-ticket items.
- They also alleged that Manafort lied to banks in order to take out more than $20 million in loans after his Ukrainian political work dried up in 2015. Prosecutors also allege that Manafort received loans from the Federal Savings Bank after one of its executives sought a position in the Trump campaign and administration.
- Along with his former associate Rick Gates, Manafort was also indicted in October on counts that included conspiracy against the U.S., conspiracy to launder money and making false statements. In February, the pair was hit with additional tax evasion and bank fraud charges; Manafort is said to have laundered an additional $30 million through offshore accounts. The charges against Manafort and Gates do not relate to allegations of misconduct during Trump’s campaign.
- In June 2018, Mueller’s team brought additional charges of obstruction of justice against Manafort and Konstantin Kilimnik, an associate who was involved with Manafort on formulating “pro-Russian strategy” going back to 2006.
- Mueller also accused Manafort of secretly paying former European politicians to lobby on behalf of the Ukraine.
Although cameras were not allowed in the courtroom throughout his trial, we know that the federal judge assigned to the case was sympathetic to Manafort’s plight. At a hearing in May, U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III told Mueller’s team, “You don’t really care about Mr. Manafort. You really care about what information Mr. Manafort can give you to lead you to Mr. Trump and an impeachment, or whatever.
And in regards to the charges of campaign finance violation against Michael Cohen, don’t forget about this:
- The Obama 2008 campaign was fined $375,000 by the Federal Election Commission for campaign reporting violations — one of the largest fees ever levied against a presidential campaign.
- The fine arose from an audit that revealed missing 48-hour notices for nearly 1,300 contributions totaling more than $1.8 million. The FEC requires notices on contributions of $1,000 or more to be received within the 20-day window of Election Day.
- More than half the unreported contributions were transferred from the Obama Victory Fund, a joint committee between the campaign and the Democratic National Committee.
Ed alert: “What Manafort’s getting busted for is cheating on his taxes. I think they should do that to everybody, and then maybe that will be motivation to get rid of our tax code and implement a national sales tax. It’s only fair.”
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