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Manafort’s Longtime Business Partner, Gates, Expected to Testify Against Manafort at Trial This Week

Former Trump campaign aide Rick Gates with Trump.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Paul Manafort’s former longtime business partner, Rick Gates, is expected to testify against his old buddy this week in a criminal trial that could land the former Trump campaign chairman in prison for the rest of his life.

Rick Gates, who also served as an aide in Trump’s campaign, struck a plea deal with special counsel prosecutors to testify against Manafort, who is charged with 18 counts of tax fraud and banking crimes.

Gates is a vital witness for federal prosecutors’ case that alleges Manafort hid millions of dollars in secret, off-short bank accounts from profits he made working with a Russia-friendly Ukrainian political party. When he stopped working as a consultant for Ukrainian officials, Manafort lied to banks about his income to obtain loans to finance his “extravagant lifestyle,” prosecutors allege.

The trial resumes today and will be the second week of testimony for special counsel Robert Mueller’s team.

Gates told prosecutors he has firsthand knowledge of the crimes.

The defense plans to paint Gates as en embezzler willing to bend the truth because of the leniency he received in the plea bargain.

Trump Lawyer: If Mueller Subpoenas President for Interview, Case Likely to Go to Supreme Court

Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow on ABC on Sunday.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

President Trump’s legal team is now leaning toward declining an interview with the special counsel prosecutors investigation whether Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia.

And if Robert Mueller subpoenas the president to testify, it likely will trigger a legal battle that would wend its way to the Supreme Court, Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow old ABC on Sunday.

“His legal team is concerned,” Sekulow said. “The inclination is not at this point” to do an interview.

U.S. Supreme Court

Sekulow said discussions are ongoing about a meeting with Mueller’s team, and Trump could disregard his attorneys’ advice and sit down with federal prosecutors.

Trump’s legal team last year acknowledged it was concerned Trump would commit perjury if facing tough questions from Mueller, a former FBI director and expert in legal interviews.

The question about whether is required by law to answer questions from federal prosecutors has never been tested in courts, hence the reason the case likely would wind up at the Supreme Court.

Trump Changes Story, Admits His Son Met with Russian Operative at Trump Tower

Trump Tower

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

President Trump last summer cried “fake news” and “witch hunt” when the media first reported that his campaign team, including his son Donald Trump Jr., met with a Russian attorney at Trump Tower to get dirt on Hillary Clinton in June 2016.

When the New York Times broke the story in July 2017, the Trump administration released a statement suggesting the gathering was about an obscure Russian adoption policy, not a meeting to get information obtain damaging information on his Democratic opponent.

In a series of tweets Sunday, the president acknowledged the meeting “was to get information on an opponent, totally legal and done all the time in politics – and it went nowhere.”

“Fake News reporting, a complete fabrication, that I am concerned about the meeting my wonderful son, Donald, had in Trump Tower,” Trump tweeted.

It has been widely reported that special counsel Robert Mueller was investigating whether the meeting constituted collusion with Russia. 

The question becomes: Was it illegal to meet with a foreign political operative to get dirt on a political opponent?

NPR reports that campaign finance laws prohibits foreign nationals from “directly or indirectly, make a contribution or a donation of money or other thing of value.” 

“Hard to see how there is not a serious case here of solicitation. Trump Jr. appears to have knowledge of the foreign source and is asking to see it,” Rick Hasen, a campaign finance law expert wrote on his blog last year. “Such information can be considered a ‘thing of value’ for purposes of the campaign finance law.”

NPR’s Brian Naylor reported that if Trump was aware of the meeting in advance, “or cast doubt on denials by Trump and Trump Jr., it would be a dramatic addition to Mueller’s investigation into Russian election interference in the 2016 presidential race and possible collusion by the Trump campaign.”

Prosecutors: How Manafort Evaded Taxes, Falsified Records to Finance ‘Extravagant Lifestyle’

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Special counsel prosecutors on Friday shifted from Paul Manafort’s “extravagant lifestyle” to how he allegedly evaded taxes and falsified his bookkeeping to obtain loans used to finance his expensive tastes for clothes and real estate.

Manafort, who served as Trump’s campaign chairman during the election, is accused of hiding millions of dollars in secret, off-short bank accounts from profits he made working with a Russia-friendly Ukrainian political party, the Washington Post reports

Manafort is charged with 18 counts of tax fraud, banking crimes and conspiracy.

Friday was the fourth day of the criminal trial in Alexandria, Va.

In testimony early Friday, prosecutors sought to show how Manafort lied about the existence of off-shore accounts.

Tax preparer Philip Ayliff testified that Manafort claimed numerous times that he had no foreign bank accounts.

In an email from Ayliff to Manafort, the tax preparer asked Manafort if he had any interested in a foreign bank account, and Manafort responded that he didn’t.

“They never told us about any income that was deposited in foreign accounts,” he said.

If convicted, the 69-year-old Manafort could spend the rest of his life in prison.

Mueller Offers Concessions for an Interview with Trump about Russia Investigation

Special counsel Robert Mueller. Photo via FBI.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team has offered to change the format for an interview with President Trump that may include limiting some questions and offering some answers to be in writing.

Talks between special counsel prosecutors and Trump’s team have resumed in recent days, but it’s uncertain whether a deal will be reached, PBS reports

Trump has publicly insisted he wants to sit down for an interview, but his legal team has intervened out of concern that he will commit perjury.

Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani earlier this week suggested Trump would agree to an interview if it only relates allegations that his campaign colluding with Russia to undermine the presidential election. Giuliani doesn’t want special counsel to question the president about obstruction of justice.

The negotiations come at a heated time. Trump earlier this week urged Attorney General Jeff Sessions to fire Mueller, calling the investigation a “witch hunt.”

Steve Bannon Calls Mueller a ‘Good Man’ But Suggests Rosenstein Should Be Fired Unless Documents Released

Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Former White House political strategist Steve Bannon called special counsel Robert Mueller “a good man, a combat-veteran Marine” in a strong departure from President Trump’s rhetoric.

But Bannon also insisted in an interview with The Hill that there was no collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russia and that Mueller should release a report on his findings before the mid-term elections so Americans can make up their own minds on the veracity of the investigation. 

“Let the American people, on Nov. 6, let them decide,” Bannon said. “They are going to say that is too thin a reed to hang anything serious on.”

Bannon also suggested Trump should fire Deputy Attorney Rod Rosenstein, who appointed Mueller, if he doesn’t disclose documents related to the Russia investigation.

“If he doesn’t do it in 72 hours, he’s fired. I’d fire him,” Bannon said.

Bannon’s positive comments about Mueller strongly contrast with Trump’s rhetoric.

“Is Robert Mueller ever going to release his conflicts of interest with respect to President Trump, including the fact that we had a very nasty & contentious business relationship, I turned him down to head the FBI (one day before appointment as S.C.) & Comey is his close friend,” the president tweeted. “Also, why is Mueller only appointing Angry Dems, some of whom have worked for Crooked Hillary, others, including himself, have worked for Obama….And why isn’t Mueller looking at all of the criminal activity & real Russian Collusion on the Democrats side-Podesta, Dossier?”

Police Recover Van Stolen by Pennsylvania Fugitive Who Threatened to Kill Trump And Law Enforcement

Shawn Christy

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Police in West Virginia have recovered a van believed to have been stolen by a Pennsylvania fugitive who has been on the run for more than a month after threatening on social media to assassinate President Trump and use “full lethal force on any law enforcement officer” who tries to detain him. 

The FBI, U.S. Marshals Service and local and state police have been trying to track down 26-year-old Shawn R. Christy, who threatened on Facebook in June to shoot Trump and the Northampton County district attorney in the head.

A federal arrest warrant was issued on June 19, and authorities believe he is armed with at least three stolen handguns.

The FBI’s Pittsburgh office said on Twitter that the stolen van was recovered near Nitro, W.V., on Tuesday and has been impounded.

The FBI is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to his arrest.

Christy has a history of threatening elected officials.

According to the Morning Call

In 2010, Christy, then 18 years old, was served with a protection-from-abuse order from former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin for allegedly bombarding her with unwelcome emails. The next year, Christy and his father, Craig, were arrested by federal authorities in Allentown on charges of harassing Palin’s lawyers in phone calls.

Christy pleaded guilty to harassment in that case and was sentenced to probation. He served some time in federal prison when he violated terms of the probation.

He was later sentenced to probation and anger management classes for threatening to shoot a Bangor tax collection clerk, and was then arrested in Schuylkill County on an aggravated assault charge for allegedly swinging a large stick at McAdoo Mayor Stephan Holly.

Anyone with information on Christy’s location is asked to call the FBI at 610-433-6488 or 215-418-4000, or the U.S. Marshals Service at 877-926-8332.

 

Mexican National Accused of Murdering Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry in 2010 Finally in Court

Brian Terry

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

It has been eight years since the murder Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry.

Finally, the Mexican gang member accused of killing Terry, which lead to the discovery of the Fast and Furious Scandal, appeared in federal court for the first time Wednesday after he was extradited from Mexico on Monday, the Washington Examiner reports.

Heraclio Osorio-Arellanes pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder and eight other charges at a court in Tucson., Ariz.

Osorio-Arellanes was lodged in jail pending a Sept. 11 trial.

The Mexican national was captured by Mexican authorities in April 2017 and held for18 months until he was extradited to the United States.

“The Department of Justice is pleased that the suspected killer of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry has been successfully extradited to the United States and will now face justice for this terrible crime,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan applauded the extradition.

“We never cease in our efforts to bring those involved in Agent Terry’s murder to the U.S. to face charges for their heinous actions,” McAleenan said in a statement. “I am grateful to our partners in the law enforcement community, both here and in Mexico, who joined us in bringing this criminal to face charges in a U.S. court.”

The Examiner wrote:

Terry was fatally shot on Dec. 14, 2010, during an encounter with a “rip crew” — a gang that steals from drug and human traffickers — near Nogales, Ariz. Terry and several members of the Border Patrol had approached the group to make arrests, but they fled.

One agent fired nonlethal bean bags at the gang. The crew fired at the agents with their AK-47-type assault rifles, killing Terry.

The death of a Border Patrol agent in the line of duty is rare. Since 1924, a total of 124 agents have died while on the job. The events surrounding Terry’s death led to the public learning the guns the gang members had acquired and used in the shooting had originally been purchased from the U.S. government.

Fast and Furious, the name of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives operation, was rolled out in hopes the Obama administration could track who purchased guns and how they were distributed.