Another Trump Campaign Manager Indicted for Money Laundering

Steve Bannon and three associates just got indicted in SDNY for defrauding investors in their We Build the Wall “charity,” from which they skimmed about a million dollars.

The alleged fraud here is pretty garden variety: raising funds to pay for a wall and instead pocketing a good chunk of the money.

But it’s significant because it comes just months after Billy Barr tried to replace then-US Attorney Geoffrey Berman with a handpicked successor. Berman responded by insisting that all SDNY investigations would continue as they were proceeding, and he refused to resign until he ensured that his Deputy, Audrey Strauss, would take over.

No one knew this indictment was in the works (and the arrest, by postal agents, makes the surprise more delicious). Which means the other times that Barr has hastily replaced a US Attorney with a flunky could represent similar cases into fraud well beyond the Russian-related crimes we know about. (Note, the Timothy Shea indicted along with Bannon is not the Barr flunky named Timothy Shea whom Barr installed in DC.)Indeed, Erik Prince was a key advisor to this organization; there’s good reason to suspect that an investigation into him got killed at the same time Barr intervened in the Flynn and Stone prosecutions.

Michael Cohen warned the entire Republican Party. If they didn’t stop hanging out with Trump, they would go to jail.

He tried to warn them, anyway.

image_print
171 replies
  1. Rwood says:

    Is this premature?

    What does the trial calendar look like for this? January 21st is 154 days away.

    Or was it timed, purely by coincidence, just right to be in the press before the election, yet out of reach of a pardon?

    • skua says:

      AIUI: POTUS can pardon before indictment, before and during trial and after sentencing. And post-humously (for the pardoned).

      • Rwood says:

        Thanks. I had to question the timing. Can’t help but think they should have waited, but perhaps there is more leverage to be had this way.

        BTW, I went over to Breitbart just to see how they were covering their founders arrest today. They copy/pasted the AP article. Cowards. BUT, the comments did not disappoint. The Cognitive Dissidence was in high gear. I had to look no further than the very first one: “What about the Clintons?”

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        These are usually state criminal analogs to these federal crimes, especially the tax fraud issues, which a Trump pardon couldn’t touch. The feds almost always get first crack at them.

      • joel fisher says:

        I think a pardon is available at any time, but I wonder about a commutation of a sentence. Until there is a sentence, there really isn’t anything to commute. And we’re a long way from that. BTW, if I were on Bannon’s jury and it was argued that the evil morons who gave him money for a wall impoverished themselves by doing so, I’d vote to acquit. I hope they are still stealing.

  2. madwand says:

    Thanks for clarifying Shea, that was my first question. I’ve thought for awhile that the wall was just a big grift, and look forward to perhaps other earth shattering revelations. Stay tuned.

  3. harpie says:

    Marcy notes on twitter [from the indictment with screen shots]:

    https://twitter.com/emptywheel/status/1296445445984722944
    9:54 AM · Aug 20, 2020

    […] Here’s all the times Trump pitched BUILD A WALL (though not the “charity” itself) during the span of the Bannon grift.

    And Ryan Goodman reminds us of this:
    https://twitter.com/rgoodlaw/status/1296447183806443520
    10:01 AM · Aug 20, 2020

    With #WeBuildtheWall Indictment:

    We Build the Wall, advisory board member, Kris Kobach, 01/19:

    “I talked with the president, and the ‘We Build the Wall Effort’ came up. The president said ‘the project has my blessing, and you can tell the media that.’” [link]

    Kris Kobach Wants to Build the Wall His Way, and Says He Has the President’s Blessing
    Mr. Kobach, a hard-line conservative on immigration policy, is involved in a private effort to raise funds for a border wall, saying it would intersect with the policy goals of the government.
    New York Times Jan. 25, 2019

      • BobCon says:

        At a time when Trump and McCarthy are backing Q …n candidates and the GOP struggled to push out Roy Moore, the idea that the GOP thought Kobach was somehow such a bad candidate before this went public seems sketchy.

        I’m sure most of them didn’t know the details, but someone like McConnell had to have been signaling like crazy that he was tainted meat.

        • Peterr says:

          In 2018, then-AG Kobach ran to succeed Gov. Sam Brownback, and lost to the democratic candidate, Laura Kelly. The post-mortems on that race make it clear that disaffected Republicans crossed the aisle and voted for Kelly, because they were tired of the bombthrowing of both Brownback and Kobach. Among other things, as AG, Kobach was sanctioned by a federal judge for not-quite-but-damn-near lying and ignoring the rules of the court, and ordered to take remedial continuing legal education as part of his sentence.

          After losing the governor’s race, Kobach tried to position himself for a high-ranking post in the Trump administration. He did so in a very high-handed manner, which not only turned off Trump and his advisors, but also the GOP leaders back home. They were also turned off by the fact that it emerged that Kobach appears to have done a lot of his national legal advising work on anti-immigration laws in other states on the dime of the taxpayers of Kansas. “He’s more concerned with his national profile than doing the job we elected him to do” was not an uncommon opinion of Kobach in 2018.

          This year, Kobach wanted to take Pat Roberts’ senate seat, and that scared the KS GOP leadership tremendously, as well as national GOP leaders. Bob Dole tottered back into public view long enough to do a late-race ad endorsing Marshall. Mitch McConnell and the GOP senate leadership PACs ran a ton of ads against Kobach in the primary, painting him as unelectable against a Democrat. Given all the Senate seats that the GOP is trying to defend, the fact that they chose to put all this money into a KS primary to keep Kobach off the ballot in November speaks volumes.

          Kobach was clearly tainted — but he was tainted by his own arrogance, his pride, and especially his losing electoral record.

    • Rugger9 says:

      What, Larry Klayman or the Mad Moldovan Orly Taitz weren’t available? It is impressive to see just how thin the legal bench is on the GOP side, but it’s probably a symptom of the pernicious effects of FedSoc litmus testing to move up.

      Let’s remember that during one of the alleged voter fraud cases, Kobach was told by the judge to take remedial classes on his conduct, IIRC it involved filing motions and notice.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        The charges include wire fraud, money laundering, and civil and criminal asset forfeiture. I’m surprised there’s no tax fraud charge, which would involve disclosure of Bannon and others tax returns. If someone took cash for their personal use, that’s income, which probably wasn’t properly declared.

        Based on Kobach’s trial work for the state of Kansas in that voter fraud case, his practical skills are limited. His knowledge of evidence and civil procedure – basic law school and bar exam subjects – was so limited, a federal judge made him take a remedial course or be held in contempt.

        I assume Kobach’s practical lawyering as a general counsel for a not-for-profit entity is just as flawed. Hard to imagine how the illegal payment structuring that allegedly took place was without the general counsel’s knowledge. But then, Kobach seems to specialize in titles, not doing the work. You’d think that a not-for-profit that so publicly raked in $25 million might have anticipated and planned for a little oversight.

        • graham firchlis says:

          Superseding indictments are possible. Tax docs can be harder to get than bank records or electronic messages. Moving now with what they have rather than waiting for everything is the right move, yes?

        • Rugger9 says:

          Oversight should have been expected given the topic and the prime champion. No way this would get buried like some obscure disease cure GoFundMe.

        • Callender says:

          Kiolbach may be the unamed lawyer who, if my math is right, took $10,000 from one of the payments. They would send payments through various schemes, take a chunk, and send the balance down the line to others in the conspiracy.

          And I think they called Kolfage’s payment “salary,” which implies to me 1099s were issued. One instance Kolfage hid a payment by having it sent to his wife for “media,” and the indictment states a 1099 was issued.

          So they may have paid taxes on the money they stole. Who said there was no honor among thieves?

    • Peterr says:

      Kobach *is* out of step with the KS GOP.

      He got trounced by Roger Marshall, a 1 term US Representative from western Kansas, and almost got pushed into 3rd by a KC-area retired plumber. Kobach has his bright-red supporters, but they no longer control the KS GOP they way they used to.

      And KS as a whole is not the hard red monolith your comment makes it out to be. Sharise Davids, a Native American, lesbian, former mixed-martial arts professional, and an attorney, was elected as US representative from KS-03, which includes a fair chunk of the KS side of the KC metro area. This is *not* the kind of person elected by a hard red electorate.

      Make no mistake – the KS GOP is coming for Davids, and they’re coming hard. But they’re also on their heels, trying to retain the Senate seat of retiring Pat Roberts — and right now, they’re behind in the polls on that one.

      Kansas of today is not the Kansas of the Sam Brownback-Phill Kline era.

      • BobCon says:

        I know there has been reassessment since the Brownback fiasco, but what are the odds a Democrat would have beaten Kobach? I know he lost the governor’s race in the off year, but he had a serious 3rd party candidate drawing off GOP votes to let the Dem win with a minority, and there is no serious 3rd party challenge this year. (Well, beaten Kobach before this case was announced). The latest polling I’ve seen has Marshall up by 4, but without a serious 3rd party candidate would there be any more defections?

        The freakout over Kobach at any rate is notable at the national GOP level — the article I linked to focused on McConnell — and I doubt you would see that much space between Marshall and Kobach in the Senate in terms of adhering to the GOP party line. I’m curious if that agita existed without influence of knowing something was brewing.

        • Peterr says:

          In polls taken before the primary, Barbara Bollier beat Kobach in a one-on-one race, and was essentially tied with Roger Marshall, the eventual GOP nominee.

          Bollier is running a very good campaign, and she’s got more than a decent chance of winning the seat. Per 538, in March, PPP had Marshall beating her by 10; last week they polled again and put Marshall’s lead at 1. SurveyUSA did a poll last week as well with Marshall’s lead at 2.

          The KC area counties are really tired of the almost empty stretches of Western KS setting the agenda for the state. If Davids and Bollier continue to tap into that, the election results could be very nice for the KS Dems. They won’t take back the statehouse, but getting one of the two US Senate seats would make them very very happy.

          • BobCon says:

            I very much hope that’s true.

            I am also open to the possibility that this is actually a small potatoes scandal compared to whatever else Kobach has been doing, and McConnell and the national GOP had a bunch of reasons to run away.

  4. Molly Pitcher says:

    This was so delicious, waking up to a reporter saying that Bannon had been arrested. I hope the Leninist enjoys his time in the Gulag.

  5. Jenny says:

    Philip Bump on Twitter: 11:19 AM · Aug 20, 2020

    Each of the people who led Trump’s 2016 campaign has been charged with or convicted of criminal behavior since he announced. So has his deputy campaign manager. His personal attorney. His first national security adviser and his long-time political adviser.
    https://twitter.com/pbump/status/1296466853565472769

    Lewandowski, Manafort and Bannon. See a pattern?

    • The Old Redneck says:

      The level of grift from this crew is just astonishing. I wonder how Republicans would react if a Dem president surrounded himself with people like that.

      As for Bannon, you’d think he’d be grateful for dodging a bullet on the Mueller investigation and would lay low for a while. But people like that just can’t seem to help themselves. And maybe he figured Bill Barr had him covered with the SDNY (oops!).

    • Yohei72 says:

      Yeah, I see a pattern: “the Deep State will stop at nothing and will go after anyone to damage Trump!!! That just proves he’s right!!!”

      Was that a convincing impression of a frother?

      A conspiracy delusion is evolved to encompass and absorb any information.

  6. fishmanxxx says:

    Often times I will visit the frothy right’s voicebox , Fox News, to get their interpretation of the events and here’s a quote from their report.

    « When Kolfage, Bannon, and Badolato learned in the fall of 2019 that the endeavor was under federal investigation, they allegedly “took additional steps to conceal the fraudulent scheme,” the indictment said. This allegedly included using encrypted messaging applications, putting a stop to Kolfage’s salary payments, and removing text from the website saying that Kolfage would not be compensated while adding a notification that he would begin collecting a salary in January 2020. »

    The question in my mind is how did they ´learn’ of the investigation?

    https://www.foxnews.com/politics/steve-bannon-among-4-arrested-indicted-in-online-fundraising-scheme-doj-announces

    • BobCon says:

      They’ve known from the start that they were running a scam, so once they found out that accountants or secretaries were being approached, they would have reason to worry.

      Bannon has been through this fire drill going back to the days of the acid filled hot tub and beyond.

      • Rugger9 says:

        Doesn’t that make AG Barr part of the attempted obstruction by trying to replace Berman with his own lackey? IIRC, success is not required for the charge, just trying will do it.

        • Nord Dakota says:

          Who prosecutes an AG for obstruction?

          [Welcome back to emptywheel. Please use the same username each time you comment so that community members get to know you. This is your second user name. Thanks. /~Rayne]

          • Molly Pitcher says:

            No, that is a legitimate question that I keep having pop up in my head. I would like a lawyer type, bmaz, you have been scarce around these parts lately, to respond to that legitimate question. Who watches the AG watchman ?

            • vvv says:

              And to some extent, the judges the DOJ appears before, including both trial and appellate, watch and potentially act. For example, Judge R. Sullivan …

  7. harpie says:

    WARFIGHTER

    https://twitter.com/evanchill/status/1296449829699309568
    10:11 AM · Aug 20, 2020

    From the Bannon indictment: Someone apparently used border wall money to buy themselves a nice little pleasure craft named Warfighter that they’re about to lose [ss] / The Warfighter [link to info] [ss]

    It gets better: Kolfage used boat he bought with illegally-siphoned “We Build the Wall” funds to sail in the July 4 Trump boat parade in Destin, Florida [link] [photo]

    Small point of clarification – the indictment doesn’t specifically say Kolfage bought the Warfighter, but that *one* of the defendants bought the Warfighter with “We Build the Wall” money. And then it appears multiple times in Kolfage’s Instagram.

    • Alan Charbonneau says:

      Criminal mentality is something to behold: “And then it appears multiple times in Kolfage’s Instagram.“ nothing like keeping a low profile!

      I’ve watched true crime shows in which someone commits a robbery or even kills someone during a robbery and they post photos of themselves with wads of cash on Facebook the same day. The rich and powerful aren’t any different than the run-of-the mill crook, they have to flash their wealth.

      Also, what kind of stupidity is it to skim $1 million among several people? It’s not like it’s enough money for each of them to buy an island.

  8. P J Evans says:

    I understand Bannon was arrested by US Postal inspectors.
    On a boat.
    Off the coast of Connecticut.
    Busted at sea by the USPS!

  9. William Bennett says:

    “Would you believe that Steve Bannon defrauded innocent MAGAts trying to help build a wall?”

    There are no innocent MAGAs.

    • madwand says:

      Yeah agree its hard to feel sorry for a bunch of bigots, Republicans eat their own, everything is a grift.

    • Coyle says:

      Still, it does pose an interesting dilemma for Trump. If he pardons Bannon, he will essentially be condoning a scheme that swindled his own supporters. (Not that the Trumpster really cares, but just sayin’…)

      • Geoff says:

        Bannon is more likely to end up dead than pardoned. Too many secrets, and too connected to too many other hot spots in the years long investigations. (see tea comment below.)

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Not over these puny (for him) crimes. First offense. Well-educated white guy. Long resume of service to government and the transnational wealthy (ignoring its quality). His backers might help him make full restitution. Those would all lower his penalty.

          Now if he was stupid enough to talk too much to the other bozos indicted for this scam, or if he left virtual fingerprints exposing any of his patrons, that opens up another can of worms.

          • Geoff says:

            Agreed on the first part, but I guess my point is that while this is going to show up as his first puny crime, it is going to produce a rabbit hole to go through to all of his other shady financial dealings, and that eventually, he will be in such hot water that he could expose a lot about the campaign. That’s how he ends up dead. Financial crimes, once investigated thoroughly, leave great forensic detail.

            • earlofhuntingdon says:

              Agreed, but I think you’d have to have a helluva lot of dirt on Bannon, and have him looking at a lot of prison time, to make him sing about Trump or any of his patrons. For the Bannons, Manaforts, and Stones, that way lies madness.

    • P J Evans says:

      Trmp’s lawyer promptly filed for a stay pending appeal. Like, so quickly that it looks like he had the motion already written.

      • Rugger9 says:

        IANAL, but a motion like that would probably be boilerplate only needing the case specifics like number and date of order. After Mazars it was only a matter of time before Vance came calling so this was probably ready in case he did. Don’t read too much into the timing, yet…

  10. X says:

    Shea’s indictment really seems to be a bigger deal overall to me. But, I understand that Bannon being indicted is (I hate to say this) sexier?

    • blueedredcounty says:

      When I first read Timothy Shea’s name, I thought the same thing as you, but then I read Marcy’s comment, above:

      (Note, the Timothy Shea indicted along with Bannon is not the Barr flunky named Timothy Shea whom Barr installed in DC.)

      Kris Kobach is General Counsel of their Advisory Board. I get that other Advisory Board members might not all be involved or aware of the fraud, but how can their General Counsel be in the dark?

      None of the money probably went to Erik Prince, it would be pocket-change for him.

  11. harpie says:

    Wendy Siegelman gathers a lot of information about these guys here:
    https://twitter.com/WendySiegelman/status/1296445719088332800
    9:55 AM · Aug 20, 2020

    Some of the items in her thread/sub-threads:

    Jan 2018 Cambridge Analytica signed a $440K Jan 2018 agreement with Sarasota FL company The USA Exchange (one of their 125 bankruptcy creditors) – the company is run by Andrew Badolato who has a chequered past & a 15 yr association with Steve Bannon […] Badolato, whose past includes mob dealings, stock fraud, offshore money laundering and sexual assault allegations made by three women.

    Dec 4, 2018 In 2018 Bannon and Guo announced $100 million fund to investigate corruption

    Jan 11, 2019 Behind the viral #GoFundTheWall fundraiser, a shadowy email harvesting operation [NBC News]

    May 12, 2019 A pro-Trump source says Brian Kolfage who created a GoFundMe called Build The Wall that raised $22 million during the #TrumpShutdown was broke last year, but now he’s taking $30,000 private flights and living the high life.

    Jun 7, 2019 How a renegade Chinese billionaire became a center of DC intrigue – Guo Wengui allegedly offered a pair of conservative operatives $9 million for dirt on his enemies’ porn habits and out-of-wedlock children. Now he’s suing. [more, including a sighting of Bannon and Guo at Trump Hotel]

    Nov 21, 2019
    Acting DHS chief [WOLF] made unannounced visit to privately funded border wall in 1st official trip to border. [Yahoo]

    Aug 19, 2020 A media company, GTV Media Group, linked to Steve Bannon and exiled Chinese businessman Guo Wengui raised over $300 million in a private offering and is now being investigated by federal and state authorities […] The FBI was examining Guo’s work with Bannon before the private placement, FBI agents had been investigating Guo and $ used to fund his US media efforts for 6+ months, prosecutors in US attorney’s offices in Manhattan & Brooklyn were involved in probe [WSJ]

    • ducktree says:

      “Dec 4, 2018 In 2018 Bannon and Guo announced $100 million fund to investigate corruption”

      Why does that remind me so of Scaramucci’s comment about Bannon’s endless efforts for self-self-gratification (wink-wink)?

    • harpie says:

      This goes right after after the one about paying for information on his enemies porn habits and out of wedlock children:

      July 2019 He’s a Chinese billionaire and a member of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago. Is he also a communist spy?
      https://www.miamiherald.com/news/politics-government/article232973237.html
      JULY 23, 2019 07:34 AM , UPDATED JULY 24, 2019 03:59 PM

      […] Now, filings in a civil case, first reported by the Wall Street Journal, suggest Guo may not be the dissident he claims. “Instead, Guo Wengui was, and is, a dissident-hunter, propagandist, and agent in the service of the People’s Republic of China and the Chinese Communist Party,” according to federal court papers filed on Friday. […]

  12. vicks says:

    Two questions
    1. With these charges, what are the odds we get some stories out of Bannon?
    2. The Colorado fella was arrested by (federal) Postal Inspection Agents, any chance of state charges on something like this?
    https://www.uspis.gov/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/USPIS-FAQs.pdf
    ” Why do Postal Inspectors frequently conduct joint investigations with other agencies?”
    “Overlapping jurisdiction often requires collaboration with other federal, state and local authorities. Postal
    Inspectors have developed close working relationships with other agencies that facilitate such cooperation”

    • ThoughtMail says:

      Getting “some stories out of Bannon” ???? Or any of the indictees? Or how would a pardon scan in all of this?

      Pretty good idea to turn state’s evidence against all of the parties involved, particularly Prince, who underwrites mercenaries for fun and profit?

      That’s kind of like the line in the Batman movie about declaring war on a guy who spends his evenings beating up bad guys for giggles. Sure. That’s a good plan. Even being in the middle of it isn’t good for your pursuit of happiness.

  13. Molly Pitcher says:

    https://www.miamiherald.com/news/politics-government/article232973237.html

    According to the Miami Herald, Guo Wengui “who belongs to President Donald Trump’s exclusive South Florida club, Mar-a-Lago, and has railed against China’s communist government — is accused of being a spy for that very regime, according to new documents filed in a federal court case in New York”

    “He is currently seeking political asylum in the United States, where he reportedly avoided deportation by the Trump administration after the president learned Guo was a member of Mar-a-Lago.”

    “Now, filings in a civil case, first reported by the Wall Street Journal, suggest Guo may not be the dissident he claims. “Instead, Guo Wengui was, and is, a dissident-hunter, propagandist, and agent in the service of the People’s Republic of China and the Chinese Communist Party,” according to federal court papers filed on Friday.

    The Chinese spy allegations against Guo surfaced last week in a contract dispute — rife with international and political intrigue — between a Hong Kong-based company, Eastern Profit Corporation Limited, and an Arlington, Va., research firm, Strategic Vision US, LLC.”

    • Molly Pitcher says:

      Also from the Miami Herald article:

      “Strategic Vision, headed by CEO French Wallop, the widow of the late Wyoming GOP Sen. Malcolm Wallop, was fired by Eastern Profit in February 2018 after the research firm provided information that was mostly publicly available on the probe’s targets, the suit says. Eastern Profit demanded the return of its $1 million deposit for the research work, accusing Strategic Vision of breaching their contract.”

  14. punaise says:

    I think Josh Marshall may throw out a muscle patting himself and TPM on the back for being way ahead of the coverage on these Bannon scams. But hey, credit where credit is due.

  15. Matthew Harris says:

    There was a time when I believed that there was a subset of voters who might not react against Trump on policy, but would be sensible enough to react to the fact that so many people around him were personally corrupt. Not just as a matter of different politics or personal faults, but as things that were legally, on paper, crimes. And I was probably not wrong about that: despite a great economy, the mid-terms of 2018 showed that lots of people did take it seriously.

    But not as many as I would have thought. So, I said to myself, “People can ignore things for a long time, if it doesn’t affect them personally, when someone happens that affects people’s every day life, things will change”.

    And then Covid-19 happened, and 170,000 people died, and more people are unemployed than at any time since the great depression. This is such an immense change to everything about our life, and hurts people every day. And while we have seen it translate into a clear electoral disadvantage to Trump, the numbers are still ambiguous.

    So the question is, where are the voters who saw Cohen, Flynn, Stone and Manafort in court, who saw American lives lost and society upended in a botched reaction to a pandemic, who are going to look at Bannon getting arrested for a petty con and think “Well, this changes my mind?”

    I am not saying that it doesn’t matter. It very well can matter, but all the roads to it mattering pass through the November election, and criminal prosecutions being carried out (possibly of dozens of people), and a public explanation of what happened during the Trump years.

    • P J Evans says:

      Problem is that he was so close with Bannon that everyone remembers it. And that he was fine with the “Build the Wall” campaign.

  16. Rugger9 says:

    I guess the “Build the Wall” campaign that DJT and DJTJ both vocally supported has gone the way of being at war with Eastasia. Still, the internet is forever even if the MAGA cult refuses to accept it.

    As noted above, there seems to be an awful lot of PRC influence in this administration* especially considering how hard DJT is trying to paint Biden as a PRC tool in his garden variety projection. Recall the Mar-a-Lago trespassers (whatever happened to them?), and gee whiz, isn’t Elaine Chao’s family the owners (with CCP permission, of course for a price) of a large shipping outfit? Add to that Ivanka’s trademarks (for now) and other convenient connections, and the failure of DJT to make Xi live up to his end of the deal to save soybean farmers a little less mysterious.

    • BobCon says:

      One counterargument to that is Trump is in tight with The Epoch Times, and their Falun Gong connections make them poison to the Chinese government.

      Which doesn’t make Trump’s efforts to cozy up to Xi false, though. I think it’s a sign that Trump is especially confused, reacting to a lot of things impulsively with no idea how they are connected.

    • Molly Pitcher says:

      Rugger, in response to your questions about what happened to the other Chinese from Mar A Lago, from the Miami Herald article I cited above:

      “The allegations against Guo — that he’s some sort of double agent uncovering real dissidents for the Chinese government — come as the FBI continues to investigate possible Chinese espionage at Mar-a-Lago. The ongoing federal probe gained new momentum when, on March 30, Yujing Zhang, a 33-year-old Chinese national, was arrested and charged with trespassing and lying to a federal agent after she tried to enter Mar-a-Lago with various cover stories.

      According to authorities, she was carrying a trove of electronics, including a thumb drive authorities claimed was infested with malware. Recent secret filings in the Zhang case suggest federal authorities have information about Zhang that could endanger national security, should anyone but the judge view it.

      Zhang had initially bought a ticket to an event at Mar-a-Lago that was being promoted by South Florida massage parlor entrepreneur Li “Cindy” Yang. The event was canceled after the Herald revealed Yang was selling access to the president and his family through Mar-a-Lago events that she promoted on Chinese social media. Zhang was aware of the cancellation before arriving in Florida. Now, both Zhang and Yang are at the center of the broader federal counterintelligence effort in South Florida. Yang is also the focus of a separate campaign finance investigation by the Department of Justice.”

      Thi article was from last July, so your question is alid, but y answer would be FUBarr.

  17. tvor_22 says:

    Awkward segue: Someone I’ve been looking at as being the possible *****R, wrote a very butthurt defense of Bannon back in 2017, claiming he was NOT a white supremacist. Same person wrote a passionate defense of Butowsky, mentioning his views on Seth Rich as late as 2018, and also expressed solidarity with Bill Shine re: sexual harassment involvement. They also floated the theory that someone in the NSA leaked podesta’s emails. Said theory was floated on Fox News two days before Binney and McGovern’s first publication claiming NSA MUST have seen the hack happened/have proof (5th Jan, 2017). This person worked for Fox and had all their articles published at WorldNetDaily. James Rosen may have gotten his gossip from them. Only trouble is I’ve no evidence this person knew Ortel. However, they had direct contact with Kunstler and Assange. This person visited Assange in late 2016, and much earlier (five days after Rosen gave Ortel insider knowledge on WL goings on) went on Fox defending Trump’s request for hacked emails, three days after which Binney told Breitbart’s Aaron Klein that the NSA would have access to Hillary’s emails. You probably know who I’m talking about, but I’m not at all convinced this person would have talked to Stone or given him direct access to Assange or his lawyers. They were eventually victimized by Butowsky, however I’m not convinced Butowsky was fibbing about what this person told him off the record.

  18. MattyG says:

    The issue isn’t did DT support the venture (he was the front man after all) but what his cut was. Looks to me like the good old “…give me my F*$#&ing money!…” situation… How could he look Putin in the eye without getting his 40%?

  19. Diogenes says:

    Interesting how in the Wolff book Bannon was completely certain that Mueller would follow the money. He wasn’t the only one.

  20. x174 says:

    curious if anyone knows of any major cases under investigation in the Eastern District of New York? a little more than a month ago, barr replaced the EDNY AG*. i found this NYT article,** but i can’t get past the paywall so i don’t know how relevant it may be.

    * https://www.justice.gov/usao-edny/pr/attorney-general-william-p-barr-announces-appointment-seth-d-ducharme-acting-united
    ** https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/30/nyregion/seth-ducharme-us-attorney-brooklyn.html

    • harpie says:

      From the link:

      […] Mr. DuCharme’s office, also known as the Eastern District of New York, has jurisdiction that includes Brooklyn, Long Island and Queens. Like its counterpart in Manhattan, the office is pursuing investigations that have touched the president’s associates.

      Last year, Brooklyn prosecutors subpoenaed Mr. Trump’s inaugural committee and interviewed Thomas J. Barrack Jr., a top fund-raiser and close friend of Mr. Trump.

      The office has indicted the Chinese tech company Huawei, inflaming tensions between the United States and China, and is negotiating with Goldman Sachs to settle the bank’s role in a scheme that stole billions of dollars from a Malaysian sovereign wealth fund. […]

      • harpie says:

        […] Mr. DuCharme became the acting U.S. attorney on July 10 through an unusual legal maneuver that allows the president to designate a temporary replacement for up to 210 days.

        In effect, Mr. Barr arranged for Mr. DuCharme to switch jobs with Richard P. Donoghue, who had served as the U.S. attorney in Brooklyn since January 2018.

        As Mr. DuCharme returned to Brooklyn, Mr. Donoghue took Mr. DuCharme’s old place in the Justice Department office that oversees the nation’s federal prosecutors, positioning him to rise should Mr. Trump win re-election.

        Earlier this year, the Justice Department assigned Mr. Donoghue to coordinate investigations involving Ukraine — a sensitive role given that federal prosecutors in Manhattan are investigating whether President Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, broke lobbying laws in his dealings there.

        At a congressional hearing on Tuesday, Representative Joe Neguse, a Colorado Democrat, suggested that Mr. Barr had installed Mr. DuCharme as a way to exert more control over those investigations, although it was not clear whether the role would stay in Brooklyn after Mr. Donoghue’s departure.

        In Washington, Mr. DuCharme had also served for nine months as a counsel to Mr. Barr and was closely involved in the investigation into the origins of the F.B.I.’s Russia probe, according to emails obtained by the watchdog group American Oversight. […]

  21. harpie says:

    Via Laura Rosen,
    Molly Jong Fast found the video of Kobach conveying Trump’s support:

    https://twitter.com/MollyJongFast/status/1296844772309716993
    12:21 PM · Aug 21, 2020

    Oh @KrisKobach1787 [VIDEO]

    Transcript:

    Q: This is Jennifer Lawrence with We Build the Wall. We are here today with Kris Kobach and earlier this week Kris Kobach had a very interesting discussion. Who was it with and what was the outcome of that discussion?

    KOBACH: Um, I was speaking with the President and we were talking about a variety of issues, and uh, the topic came up, I mentioned that I was working with We Build the Wall. And he said
    well, you tell the people you are working with that this project has my blessing.

    And he went further he said
    I want the media to know that this project has my blessing.
    He was really making a point that uh he was behind this.

  22. Jenny says:

    Inside Steve Bannon’s Alleged Scheme To Fleece Trump Voters Who Wanted A Border Wall
    https://www.huffpost.com/entry/steve-bannon-arrested-trump-supporters-build-the-wall-investigation_n_5f3ee771c5b697824f9644a1

    Timothy Shea’s wife and a member of We Build the Wall’s leadership team — said on Twitter that she had met with the president and discussed the project in detail.

    “Had the pleasure of meeting with @realDonaldTrump personally last week in the Hamptons, answered very specific questions about the wall @WeBuildTheWall built,” she tweeted. “[Trump] said I really know my stuff & our group needs to bid the whole wall project.”

    • ducktree says:

      That opening shot at the huffpo link with Bannon’s mug looking directly into the camera lens with phallic microphones sprouting around his gloating glare, and I can just imagine him saying “… smell me!” Urf!

  23. posaune says:

    Question for the lawyers here:

    When the USPS inspectors and Coast Guard picked up Bannon, why did the USPS board the yacht first? Is that related to the warrant or something like that? I would have thought that the maritime experts would go first.

  24. harpie says:

    Josh Marshall:
    https://twitter.com/joshtpm/status/1297009694842728448
    11:16 PM · Aug 21, 2020

    Few understand Bannon, or have copies of more of his receipts, better than Josh Green. He gets the whole arc here. [link]

    Links to:
    The End of Steve Bannon—and Maybe Trump, Too
    Bannon failed to deliver on the promises of Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign, and so has the president.
    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-08-21/steve-bannon-s-downfall-is-a-warning-sign-for-trump
    Joshua Green August 21, 2020, 6:00 AM

    Steve Bannon’s arrest on charges that he defrauded donors to a right-wing immigration group for $1 million marks the end of a political era—the era when a Trumpian admixture of economic populism and nativist immigration policy looked as if it could, as Bannon once put it to me, deliver the Republican Party “a hammerlock on the Electoral College.” […]

    [imo, too optimistic.]

    • harpie says:

      Speaking of “Trumpian admixture of economic populism and nativist immigration policy”:

      Inside Steve Bannon’s Alleged Scheme To Fleece Trump Voters Who Wanted A Border Wall
      The president’s family denies knowing anything about the scheme, but a HuffPost investigation reveals close ties.
      https://www.huffpost.com/entry/steve-bannon-arrested-trump-supporters-build-the-wall-investigation_n_5f3ee771c5b697824f9644a1
      08/20/2020 08:17 pm ET

      […] And the nonprofit Bannon used to funnel We Build the Wall Funds also has deep ties to the larger Republican infrastructure. The indictment alleges that Bannon received more than $1 million from We Build the Wall to something referred to only as “Non-Profit-1” but which is described as a 501(c)(4) group focused on “promoting American nationalism and economic sovereignty.” That closely matches the description of Citizens of the American Republic, a Bannon-run 501(c)(4) that “seeks to advance the ideals of Economic Nationalism and American Sovereignty,” according to the group’s website. Later in the indictment, prosecutors ask for the forfeiture of “any and all funds” held in a Wells Fargo bank account belonging to Citizens of the American Republic. […]

      • harpie says:

        re: “ties to the larger republican infrastructure”:

        Groups designated as 501(c)(4)s, often referred to as dark money, are not required to disclose their donors or very much else about their funding sources. Bannon wanted to keep it that way. In mid-2019, CNBC reported that Bannon hired a GOP “super lawyer” named Cleta Mitchell as COAR’s legal counsel. At the time, CNBC noted Bannon was trying to “protect the identity of his contributors and works to stay in the good graces of President Donald Trump.”

        Mitchell is a partner at the high-powered law firm Foley & Lardner and has served as a chair of the American Conservative Union Foundation and as president of the Republican National Lawyers Association. In 2018, she drew the attention of Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee for her work on behalf of the National Rifle Association in 2016 […]

        • harpie says:

          HuffPo shows that Cleta was at the Trump “pardoning” Susan B. Anthony WH propaganda-op:

          https://twitter.com/CletaMitchell/status/1296255033605083136
          9:17 PM · Aug 19, 2020

          Wonderful day at the White House yesterday. Pres Trump pardoned Susan B Anthony convicted for voting in the 1872 Presidential election. Made me cry! What a great idea! Only Pres Trump would think of that. Thank you Pres Trump! #pardonSusanBAnthony [photo]

          Via bmaz:
          https://twitter.com/SurfCityWriter/status/1296586354223009794

          Anthony wasn’t allowed to speak as a witness in her own defense, because she was a woman. Outraged to be denied a trial by jury, she said, ‘I shall never pay a dollar of your unjust penalty.
          Paying a fine would validate the proceedings. To pardon Susan B. Anthony does the same.

  25. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Flotus’s renovations to the White House Rose Garden match her lack of taste in clothes and husbands. But really, it bears Trump’s obsessive hallmark more than Melania’s. https://twitter.com/BeschlossDC/status/1297174218552102918

    The color, which would have to be renewed seasonally, has been stripped, so as not to contrast with Trump’s orange makeup. The crabapple trees were taken out: they would have obstructed the cameras. The lawn was trimmed in a manner Wimbledon groundskeepers would be taught to avoid. A symmetrical concrete walkway was added, so that hubby wouldn’t trip walking on real grass. All in, it demonstrates Trump’s fixation that everything be manipulated like a studio set.

    • P J Evans says:

      Apparently the crabapple trees are currently parked in greenhouses, to be replanted somewhere.
      The walkway is claimed to be limestone panels, with electrical/communications wiring underneath.
      But it’s still nowhere near as pretty as it was before, and the sod wasn’t laid well or watered properly after being laid, so it looks bad.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Limestone panels would be an improvement over concrete – and easier to remove. But they weren’t needed in a GARDEN. It just looks like Trump needed one more backdrop to be photographed in, but didn’t want anyone looking at the backdrop.

        • P J Evans says:

          Neither one of them can walk safely on grass – him because of his physical (and mental) problems, and her because she insists on inappropriate footwear. (I consider stilettos like hers to be suitable only for photo shoots. For men’s magazines.)

        • posaune says:

          The garden circulation was via the colonnade at the perimeter, i.e. covered, shaded. Now with the cheap concrete sidewalk, there are two parallel pedestrian circulation systems, redundant paving, less impervious area, decreased drainage. The central grass panel looks completely neglected (already). The ornamental trees lent scale to the setting, particularly effective in the traditional one-point perspective. Now it’s a flat space with little interest. Ugh.

          • posaune says:

            Yes, Earl, you’re right: the garden “improvements” are all about the Donald — ensuring that he is the only element in the picture.

          • Rayne says:

            You know what the garden looked like to me at first glance — besides being pallid?

            A very short, super easy par 3 hole on an executive golf course. Not a putting green but a short hole with cart paths on either side. A hole so easy Trump would have a hard time trying to get away with cheating.

            I kind of wonder if the crappy grass condition is a fuck-you to Trump because of his excessive devotion to his Trump-branded courses.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Not their most destructive act, by any means – like Grace Kelly’s Frances Stevens, we’re still waiting for that one. But it helps establish that this is the best they can do. Much worse to come.

          I am surprised, though, that Donald didn’t install a fool’s gold Mini-Me Fountain in the middle of the lawn, complete with its own Trump-faced Mannekin Pis, aiming toward the Oval Office.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        The crabapples were apparently there when John John Kennedy and his dad roamed the garden. Now they’re in a shed, awaiting redemption, thanks to a couple whose sense of history is limited to whatever they wore yesterday.

      • BobCon says:

        I suppose the good news is it’s a small space and will be easy to restore.

        Taking out the trees is a bad choice — you want the added dimension of their height and crabapples add interesting colors at different times of the year Plus they attract pollinators and birds — that is probably what made Trump want them gone.

    • Molly Pitcher says:

      Bunny Mellon ( yes, of the Mellon banking family who died recently at 100+) helped Jacqueline Kennedy by designing that garden. This is a sacrilege.
      Wait till thewomen of the Garden Clubs of America see these pictures. That is the largest group of old time, rock ribbed Republicans, with real OLD money, you will ever see.

      They are so NOT Trumpists. They will campaign against him just because of this.

  26. mospeck says:

    Navalny poisoned by the anti anti cholinergics. Similar to what my Grandma used to kill the Japanese beetles who’d drop dead off her rosebushes in about a second. For humans it takes longer to get for them to stop their breathing. putin’s guys time-delayed it so that it would turn off his cholinesterase and he would die on the plane.
    https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-53892900
    “strange women in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government”
    true..maybe not for the long term. but for the short term for basket case countries like Belarus, Russia and US it’s a step up from what they got right now

    • P J Evans says:

      It looks like Putin’s people misjudged it a bit, though, since the plane made an emergency landing while he was still alive, and Navalny got moved to Germany.

Comments are closed.