Links

Columnists



Site Search


Entire (RSS)
Comments (RSS)

Archive Calendar

October 2022
S M T W T F S
 1
2345678
9101112131415
16171819202122
23242526272829
3031  

Guides

How to Become a Bounty Hunter



News Story

Feds: Were Middle Easterners Promised Influence over American Policy Through Trump Donations?

President Trump’s inauguration, via White House

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Federal prosecutors are investigating whether highly influential businessmen from the Middle East tried to buy influence over American policy by donating to President Trump’s 2017 inaugural committee and a pro-Trump super PAC.

The investigation is examining whether people from countries such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar and United Arab Emirates used straw donors – or American intermediaries – to donate to the funds since federal law bars foreigners from contributing to political campaigns, The New York Times reports.  

Trump friend and billionaire Thomas Barrack

One of Trump’s closest friends, billionaire financier Thomas J. Barrack Jr., raised a significant amount of money for the funds. He’s known for having an extensive network of business connections in the Persian Gulf.

The PAC, Rebuilding America Now, was created in the summer of 2016 when Trump was struggling to raise money for his presidential run. Such PACs can raise an unlimited amount of money, but only if they’re not closely coordinated with the campaign.

Barrack told investigators a year ago that Trump’s campaign boss, Paul Manafort, treated the PAC as a fundraising arm of the campaign.

The PAC raised $23 million, primarily from big donors such as Linda McMahon, a professional wrestling executive whom Trump later appointed to head the Small Business Administration. She donated $6 million.

Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort.

Barrack and Manafort went on a Mediterranean cruise together in August 2016, just three months before the presidential election. On the cruise, the pair met with several influential Middle Easterners, including Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani, the former prime minister of Qatar and one of the world’s wealthiest men.

Barrack denied any wrongdoing.

“Tom has never talked with any foreign individual or entity for the purposes of raising money for or obtaining donations related to either the campaign, the inauguration or any such political activity,” said Owen Blicksilver, a spokesman for Barrack.

Prosecutors also are investigating whether Middle Easterners and others funneled money into Trump’s $107 million inaugural fund in exchange for access to the new presidential administration, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Federal law prohibits the exchange of money for political favors.

Trump raised more money for his inauguration than any previous president. The donations largely came from billionaires and corporations, including casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson, AT&T Inc. and Boeing Co. 

Another donor was billionaire Dan Gilbert, whose Quicken Loans company has been under investigation by the Justice Department for allegedly targeting, among others, lower-income African Americans for mortgages, many of which went belly up.

Michael Cohen Sentenced to 3 Years in Prison, Blaming Blind Loyalty to Trump

Michael Cohen, former attorney for President Trump.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

President Trump’s former longtime attorney and self-described fixer was sentenced to three years in prison after pleading guilty to nine federal charges, including making secret payments to women who claimed to have had affairs with Trump.

The charges also included lying to congress about his involvement with a proposed Trump Tower in Moscow and failing to report millions of dollars in income.

Cohen, 52, told Judge William Pauley that his loyalty to Trump led him “to choose darkness over light.”

“Recently the president tweeted a statement calling me weak and it was correct, but for a much different reason than he was implying. It was because time and time again I felt it was my duty to cover up his dirty deeds,” Cohen said.

Cohen apologized to his family and U.S. citizens.

“I am truly sorry and I promise I will be better,” he said.

Cohen pleaded guilty as part of an agreement to cooperate with special counsel Robert Mueller’s team.

Mueller wrote in a sentencing memo that Cohen provided “relevant and useful.”

It’s not year clear what information Cohen has provided.

Manafort May No Longer Challenge Mueller’s Allegations That He Lied to Prosecutors

Paul Manafort’s mugshot

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

After insisting Paul Manafort did not lie to special counsel Robert Mueller’s team as part of a plea deal, attorneys for the former campaign chief for Donald Trump may no longer contest allegations that Manafort provided false information.

Manafort’s attorney Richard Westling met with Mueller’s team Tuesday before saying in federal court that “the certainty of the hearing is less clear,” Huffington Post and other media outlets reported.

Mueller rescinded the plea deal with Manafort in late November, saying he violated the plea deal by lying to prosecutors.

Manafort has until Jan. 7 to decide whether to contest the allegations that he lied. 

Manafort, who was found guilty in August of eight criminal charges lodged by Mueller, is set to be sentenced on March 5.

He faces more jail time for allegedly lying to prosecutors.

DEA Agent Indicted on Charges of Decade-Long Affiliation with Deadly Drug Gang

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

A sweeping federal indictment alleges a DEA agent began working with a gang a decade ago while he was a police officer in Illinois and continued the work while at the drug agency’s Chicago field office.

According to the indictment, Fernando Gomez, 41, was affiliated with the Organizacion de Narcotraficantes Unidos, a Puerto Rico-based group that imported vast amounts of cocaine into the U.S. and was involved in at least eight drug-related killings.

He was arrested at the DEA’s field office Tuesday morning, The Chicago Tribune reports

When Gomez was a detective for Evanston police, prosecutors said he began working with the gang, obtaining guns from drug dealers and giving them to gang leader Jose Martinez-Diaz, AKA “Tony Zinc.”

The indictment alleges Gomez became a DEA agent to provide protection for the gang.

Michael Flynn Asks for No Prison for Cooperating with Mueller’s Team

Former National Security Adviser Michael T. Flynn

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

President Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn is asking a judge to spare him prison time for cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller.

Instead, Flynn is requesting to be sentenced to one year of probation, his attorneys wrote in a memo in advance of his Dec. 18 sentencing date.

“His cooperation was not grudging or delayed,” Flynn’s lawyers wrote, according to The New York Times.

Flynn’s lawyers also cited the Army general’s lengthy military service.

But his lawyers also suggested he was tricked into lying by the FBI, repeating a narrative often used by Trump.

Ex-Illinois Cop Accused of Joining DEA to Run Guns and Drug With Violent Gang

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The feds are accusing an ex-Evanston, Ill. cop of joining the DEA so he could conspire to traffic guns and narcotics with a violent international gang responsible for numerous killings, the Chicago Tribune reports.

Fernando Gomez, 41, was arrested Tuesday.

A superseding indictment unsealed in New York charged Gomez with racketeering conspiracy for his alleged affiliation with the Organizacion de Narcotraficantes Unidos, a conglomeration of drug traffickers based in Puerto Rico, the Trib reports.

The gang is accused of participating in at least eight killings dating to 2006.

Robert Mueller Makes Short List for Times’s Person of the Year 2018

Special Counsel Robert Mueller, via FBI.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating Russia and Trump’s campaign, made the short list for Time’s Person of the Year 2018.

The magazine ran a lengthy, insightful piece about how the often silent prosecutor has continued his investigation in spite of constant attacks by President Trump and his backers, who claim Mueller is on a “witch hunt.”

Just this year, Mueller charged 34 people and entities with crimes, often convincing them to cooperate as the investigation balloons and begins to focus on the president.

Time wrote:

Mueller’s silence has invited noisy speculation from partisans. To critics on the right, he is an overzealous prosecutor drunk on power and roaming beyond his mandate in a bid to drum Trump out of office. To liberals, he is a crusading hero who won’t quit until he brings the President to justice. The public narrative of Mueller’s investigation this year has often described its central character more as myth than man.

So it is instructive to hear friends and former colleagues talk about Robert Swan Mueller III. Not because they portray a perfect person, but because they describe a complicated one: relentless but circumspect, impatient but thorough, difficult but respected. Mueller, they say, is the kind of man who flicks the lights off and on at his home to inform guests that it’s time to leave a social gathering, and who is so keenly aware of any appearance of impropriety that he won’t even enter the same room as friends who are working on the other side of the Russia case. As FBI director, he twice threatened to resign over matters of legal principle, winning the standoff both times, and was infamous for eviscerating ill-prepared underlings. “If indicting his own mother was the right thing to do,” says former FBI assistant director Tom Fuentes, “he would do it.”

These qualities, manifest in Mueller’s work this year, are why many believe he was ideally suited to oversee the biggest test to the American system of justice since Watergate. As the nation awaits Mueller’s report and the political pressure intensifies, he has led the investigation with the same rigor and sense of duty that has marked his life. “He likes to follow procedures,” says David Kris, former Assistant Attorney General in the national-security division of the Department of Justice. “And those procedures he sees as a safe harbor against the stormy seas of politicization.”

Time placed Mueller on the “short list,” as the No. 3 person of the year for 2018.

Time named a group of journalists it referred to as “The Guardians” as the 2018 Person of the Year, referring to the reporters “who have taken great risks in pursuit of greater truths.”

FBI Investigating White Supremacists Who Attacked Black DJ at Tavern in Washington

Aryan Brotherhood tattoo via The Southern Poverty Law Center.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

A black DJ was minding his own business at a Washington State tavern when a group of suspected white supremacists violently attacked him and shouted racial slurs.

Now the FBI is helping investigate what appears to be a vicious hate crime that occurred early Saturday in Lynnwood, according to the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office.

Police arrested seven men and woman after they say the group entered the Rec Room Bar and Grill and began stomping and beating the DJ. An Asian man who came to the DJ’s defense also was injured.

The DJ was treated at a hospital for non-life-threatening injuries.

“The violent behavior directed at members of our community over the weekend simply because of their race is disgusting,” Snohomish County Sheriff Ty Trenary said in a news release, the Associated Press reports. “The Sheriff’s Office is partnering with the FBI in hopes of getting the strongest sentencing possible for these hate crimes.” 

Court records indicate the suspects belong to the Aryan Brotherhood, a hate group with an ugly history of violence against African Americans.