BREAKING: Trump Has Now Been Referred For Criminal Prosecution
Trump’s new financial disclosure confirming that he reimbursed Michael Cohen for hush money payments to Stormy Daniels has officially caused him some pretty big problems — especially as he has now “essentially” been referred for criminal prosecution.
The Office of Government Ethics sent a letter to the Department of Justice regarding the payments, informing the DOJ that “the payment made by Mr. Cohen is required to be reported as a liability.” While Trump’s latest disclosure “meets the disclosure requirements,” that Trump previously lied about it in financial disclosures is, simply put, a felony.
“I am providing both reports to you because you may find the disclosure relevant to any inquiry you may be pursuing regarding the President’s prior report that was signed on June 14, 2017,” OGS Acting Director David J. Apol said in the letter.
NEW: Ethics office sending letter to Rod Rosenstein stating that Michael Cohen’s payment on behalf of Trump was a debt and may be relevant to “any inquiry” Rosenstein may be pursuing. pic.twitter.com/e22Jfuozic
This is big. Yuge, even. Former DOJ spokesman Matt Miller says that the letter is “essentially a criminal referral” to the DOJ “for Trump making a false statement in his previous financial disclosure.”
Wow, this is essentially a criminal referral to DOJ for Trump making a false statement in his previous financial disclosure. https://t.co/4yhHnqcNmf
“Fascinated by OGE’s decision to make this referral public,” Miller added. “Leaves DOJ no choice but to open at least a preliminary investigation into Trump for false statements (if he wasn’t already a subject in the Cohen inquiry, which he might be).”
Fascinated by OGE’s decision to make this referral public. Leaves DOJ no choice but to open at least a preliminary investigation into Trump for false statements (if he wasn’t already a subject in the Cohen inquiry, which he might be).
Former GOP congresswoman resigns as interim USA Gymnastics head after anti-Nike tweet surfaces
USA Gymnastics interim president and CEO Mary Bono is resigning after only days in the position after coming under fire for posting an anti-Nike tweet. Bono was a Republican congresswoman from 1998-2013 representing the 44th and 45th California districts during her tenure. Unfortunately, it seems that in spite of her retirement the GOP racism still goes strong in her.
On Friday, USA Gymnastics named Bono as their new interim leader to take the organization into a new era after Larry Nasser’s long-enabled abuse. However, she was divisive from the start. HuffPost reports:
The day after her new role was announced, Bono came under fire for posting a photo on Twitter of her covering the Nike logo on her golf shoes. The photo suggested that Bono was protesting the sportswear company’s move to partner with Colin Kaepernick, a former NFL player who has kneeled during the national anthem to protest police brutality and racial inequality.
Olympian Simone Biles called out Bono on Twitter, writing: “Mouth drop. Don’t worry, it’s not like we needed a smarter USA Gymnastics president or any sponsors or anything.”
Bono deleted the tweet, but the damage was done. She was already on shaky ground due to her past. Bono worked with Faegre Baker Daniels, the law firm that represented USA Gymnastics as the Larry Nassar scandal arose. Another Olympic gold medalist, Aly Raisman, expressed her opposition to Bono, too.
My teammates & I reported Nassar’s abuse to USAG in 2015. We now know USOC & lawyers at Faegre Baker Daniels (Mary Bono’s firm) were also told then, yet Nassar continued to abuse children for 13 months!? Why hire someone associated with the firm that helped cover up our abuse?
Considering that it hasn’t been a week on the job and she’s already controversial, Bono did the organization a favor and resigned. She stayed defensive to the end, justifying both the tweet and her work with the law firm, saying she “proudly” stands behind it.
With respect to Mr. Kaepernick, he nationally exercised his first amendment right to kneel. I exercised mine: to mark over on my own golf shoes, the logo of the company sponsoring him for ‘believing in something even if it means sacrificing everything’ — while at a tournament for families who have lost a member of the armed services (including my brother-in-law, a Navy SEAL) who literally ‘sacrificed everything
View the full statement below:
Mary Bono is OUT as @USAGym interim president and CEO. In exit stmt, she defends her tweet marking out @Nike logo on her sneakers: “With respect to Mr. Kaepernick, he nationally exercised his first amendment right to kneel. I exercised mine” pic.twitter.com/qS0uaGdXyl
Students cheated by for-profit colleges to finally get debt relief as judge unblocks Obama-era rule
Students scammed by for-profit colleges whose business model was fraud will finally get the debt relief the Obama administration put into motion and the Trump administration tried to block. The Betsy DeVos-led Education Department said it would stop trying to delay the student debt relief rule after a federal judge ordered it implemented immediately.
Attorneys general from 18 states and the District of Columbia successfully sued DeVos last year over her decision to block the rule, known as Borrower Defense to Repayment, from taking effect.
The judge sided with the states last month, but implementation of the debt-relief rule was delayed pending Tuesday’s decision in the separate lawsuit brought by an industry group.
This is a good win—a really good win—but it’s also a reminder of how many judges Donald Trump has put on the federal bench to rule in future such cases pitting people like broke students against companies like the for-profit colleges that cheated them.
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Organization sues Trump to protect media from unconstitutional restrictions
PEN America is a New York nonprofit dedicated to promoting creative expression and defending the rights upon which it’s predicated: freedoms of speech and press. Its members range from journalistic to literary to media professionals. There’s no shortage of issues for the organization to tackle, especially now, but PEN’s “bedrock work” is “long-term advocacy on behalf of individual writers who are being punished because of their work.”
They take exception to Trump’s war against the press. Represented by Protect Democracy and the Yale Law School Media Freedom and Information Access Clinic, PEN America is moving beyond criticism to legal complaint. They’re asking a federal district court, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, to declare Trump’s retaliatory actions unconstitutional under the First Amendment and to block Trump from retaliating or directing retaliation against someone based on their speech.
Their challenge is meaningful, as the organization was founded in 1948. It’s also nonpartisan. PEN “forcefully raised concerns about free expression infringements during the Obama, Bush, and other prior administrations.” Trump’s not even the first president PEN has sued.
It’s a pretty complaint. PEN takes care to catalogue Trump’s verbal attacks on the press (“disgusting,” etc.), then notes that these comments, while anti-democratic, are not the basis for this suit. The problem is, they point out, that he has threatened to engage, and he has engaged, in conduct intended to retaliate against specific news organizations and journalists he disagrees with.
PEN says Trump’s retaliatory measures against Amazon—motivated by a desire to strike at founder Jeff Bezos, also owner of the Washington Post—have included criticizing Amazon in a way that affected its stock, telling USPS to re-evaluate its rates for Amazon, and personally directing the head of USPS to double rates for Amazon and its ilk.
Trump has also openly referred to his vendetta against CNN.
In this case, his dislike has bled over into hostility toward parent company Time Warner. Back in 2016, PEN says, he threatened to push the Department of Justice to block Time Warner’s merger with AT&T. That’s exactly what he did, despite the norm for vertical mergers being approval. DOJ’s effort to block the merger died in district court, but, as PEN has pointed out, CNN and Time Warner expended significant resources in the process.
A great number of Trump’s actions against and threats toward individual reporters and outlets vis-á-vis access have been public—very public. To name a few, Trump has warned reporters he’ll take their press credentials and told networks he’ll go after their broadcast licenses. Imagine what he’s doing and saying off the record.
Trump’s actions prove his threats are credible, not mere posturing. One reporter, Kaitlan Collins, was banned for questioning Trump.
PEN’s suit is both solid and important. Here’s Erwin Chemerinsky, Dean of Berkeley Law School at the University of California. (He’s constitutional law’s Mick Jagger.)
“No president in history has repeatedly threatened the press as Donald Trump does on a regular basis. Under long-standing First Amendment precedents, these threats violate freedom of press and the First Amendment. This lawsuit addresses an urgent threat to our Constitution.”
Sonja West, a First Amendment expert at the University of Georgia Law School, focuses on the harms the lawsuit seeks to avert or mitigate.
“President Trump has a pattern of trying to use the power of the federal government to punish the press for coverage he dislikes. Make no mistake, this should alarm us. Lobbing insults at reporters is one thing, but this kind of tactic represents a far more serious threat to press freedom. When a president crosses the line from insulting the press to turning the wheels of government as a means to retaliate against news organizations for their reporting, the potential First Amendment violations become very real. This lawsuit is asking the courts to make clear that the president cannot violate the Constitution’s vital protections for press freedom.”
PEN’s is just the latest addition to the bevy of suits directed against Trump by everyone from individuals to associations to businesses to members of Congress. By my count, Trump’s currently being sued under at least four amendments to the Constitution. It’s another ignoble first.
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