A Florida attorney is at the center of a new state investigation after elections officials say he recently attempted to register to vote in Georgia and instructed other Florida Republicans on how to do it .
Bill Price is seen in a now-deleted Facebook Live video, speaking to the Bay County GOP members in Florida on Nov. 7th. It was about half an hour after the election was called for the Joe Biden-Kamala Harris ticket.
Channel 2 investigative reporter Nicole Carr recorded the nearly hour-long video Tuesday afternoon, shortly before it was deleted.
Price begins by sharing his legal expertise with the crowd, telling them lawsuits challenging the presidential race are likely to fail.
“I’d love to tell you that there are legal avenues for success in the courts, but as a realist and as a lawyer myself, I know that that’s just not going to happen,” he said.
Instead, Price encouraged the crowd to work toward a “billion-man” march at the State Capitol, show up in Atlanta on Election Day, and move if they can do it.
“We absolutely have to hold the Senate and we have to start fighting back, and we have to do whatever it takes,” Price said in the video. “And if that means changing your address for the next two months, so be it. I’m doing that. I’m moving to Georgia and I’m gonna fight and I want you all to fight with me.”
Price told the group he’s moving to his brother’s address in Hiram, Georgia in order to register to vote in the January runoff. He repeats and spells and his brother’s name and address, as members of the group jot it down. They can be heard mumbling the address in the background while some write.
“We can truly register at that address?” one woman asks.
“Sure,” Price answers, adding they have to plan to show a move, suggesting they have mail sent there.
“And can it be anywhere in the state of Georgia you can register?” another woman asks. “So if you’ve got cousins, dogs, cats that live somewhere else, it doesn’t need to be one particular county?”
“Yep,” Price answers. “This is going to be a statewide election on Jan. 5th. I’m gonna be voting for Kelly Loeffler?” (In the recording, his voice indicates a question, as he mispronounces the senator’s last name). “And David Perdue.”
One woman also asks about the deadline to register in Georgia. Price said he’s unsure, would have to check, but offers advice on how to get it done online.
“It can be done online or you can request your ballot at your new address in Georgia by mail,” Price said. You just go to the secretary of state’s website for the state of Georgia and register to vote there.”
“If they need a driver’s license, I’m going to get a driver’s license,” he said. “If they need mail, I’m going to have mail there.”
“We have to win that election in Georgia, and so I’m moving to my brother’s house in Hiram, Georgia and I’m registering to vote,” Price says. “And we are going to win that election in January.”
“That’s what needs to be done. If you don’t want to do it, fine. Might as well move to Venezuela now‚” he said. “Get used to that lifestyle, cause that’s what’s coming.”
When Carr reached Price by email Tuesday evening, he denied he was serious about the move.
“Thanks for reaching out. I did not change my voter registration and I don’t have 2 million roommates,” Price wrote, referencing a joke he’d told at one point during the talk about having millions join him in Georgia. ” But if my humorous comments bring attention to the massive and widespread voter fraud in Georgia, I would submit to you that it’s a good thing.”
But Channel 2 confirmed Price registered to vote the day after he made the speech, using his brother’s Hiram address and swearing to an affidavit that he was a Georgia resident and eligible to vote.
“When we clearly know that he is not,” said Deidre Holden, Paulding County’s election supervisor.
Holden said Wednesday that Price’s voter registration is in pending status. Her office was preparing to write him and ask him to bring in his driver’s license to “cure” and complete the registration, since the information was provided last month.
By Monday morning, Holden had been contacted by state elections investigators who had flagged Price’s Georgia registration address. They shared the video with her. She said the elections board will hold a special-called meeting next week to make sure Price’s registration does not become active.
Holden, a Republican, told Carr Price’s intent was clear in the video, and it was disturbing to hear him instruct the group and say he planned to return to Florida on November 6th.
“What kind of message is this sending out to our children and our grandchildren and our neighbors that if you don’t win an election, that you can just go out and steal one?” Holden asked. “And that’s absolutely unacceptable here in the State of Georgia.”
Carr stopped by Price’s brother’s home on Wednesday. He confirmed he’d been contacted by state investigators, but had not seen the video.
“The whole thing was just tongue- in-cheek,” Fredrick Price said of his brother’s remarks. “There’s nothing here. ”
“Some of it was tongue-in- cheek,” Carr said. “The other was specific instructions.
“No,” Price answered.
“It wasn’t all a joke,” Carr said.
“OK, but No,” Price answered.”
“OK, thank you, Sir,” Carr said.
In a Wednesday afternoon, Georgia’s Deputy Secretary of State Jordan Fuchs confirmed the office would be exploring the felony charges tied to fraudulent voter registration in Georgia.
For weeks Georgia officials have warned that registering to vote with no attempt to stay in Georgia can be punishable by a felony charge that can carry up to a ten-year sentence , and $100,000 fine.
“This isn’t California,” said Fuchs. “We actually investigate and seek to prosecute individuals who try vote here illegally. Our system is built to prevent this behavior— we will seek to prosecute to the fullest extent of the law.”
Carr reached out to the Bay County GOP to see if the group advised members that Price was under investigation, and his suggestions regarding temporary moves to vote is illegal. As of airtime, Wednesday, Channel 2 has not received a response.
Rep. Mo Brooks says he plans to challenge the Electoral College vote when Congress is expected to officially certify President-Elect Joe Biden’s victory on Jan. 6.
The Alabama Republican says he is also looking for a GOP senator to join him in the effort, though he said he has had no direct communication with any senator thus far.
“In my judgment, based on what I know to be true, Joe Biden was the largest beneficiary of illegally cast votes in the history of the United States,” Brooks said in a phone interview with AL.com today. “And I can either ratify that illegal vote system, or I can object to it, in hopes that our election system will become more secure in future elections.”
Brooks said he may still object to the vote counting process by himself, even though he acknowledged to Politico that would be more of a symbolic protest.
In a series of radio interviews, speeches and tweets, Brooks has echoed the charges of President Donald Trump and his supporters that the Nov. 3 election was “badly flawed” and that most mail-in voting is “unconstitutional.” In today’s interview, Brooks said he has had no conversations about his potential challenge with President Trump or anyone in his administration.
Brooks said similar objections have been made by members of Congress to Electoral College votes in 2017, 2005 and 1969. He is basing his objection on three issues, apart from those being addressed in court challenges by Trump’s legal team. He said Biden received an undetermined number of votes from non-citizens in states that do not ask for proof of citizenship, as well as votes in states with what he said were inadequate voter ID laws.
At the same time, he argued, Biden was the recipient of a majority of mail-in ballots, some of which were collected outside the 24-hour period of Election Day, Nov. 3. Brooks said this method of voting is “subject to voting fraud and error.” All three factors, he argued, benefited Biden.
“If you saw the vote totals coming in, it’s quite clear that Joe Biden enjoyed a huge advantage in these mailed-out ballot schemes,” he said. “You add those three things together, plus all the anecdotal stuff you’re seeing around the country in these lawsuits that have been filed, and they cumulatively cause me to believe that if only lawful votes cast by eligible, American citizens were counted, Donald Trump easily won the Electoral College.”
Talking to Politico, Brooks said the election was “stolen.”
“In my judgment, if only lawful votes by eligible American citizens were cast, Donald Trump won the Electoral College by a significant margin, and Congress’s certification should reflect that,” Brooks told Politico. “This election was stolen by the socialists engaging in extraordinary voter fraud and election theft measures.”
Brooks said people who believe Biden won the election fairly are “entitled to their opinion.”
Still, the moveto overturn the election results in Congress is almost certain to fail, given the political makeup of the House and Senate. Brooks said the Supreme Court is not the lawful authority to determine the validity of a state’s electors.
“A lot of time is being wasted in court,” Brooks told Politico. “And so it’s the United States Congress that is the final judge and jury of whether to accept or reject Electoral College submissions by states, and to elect who the president and vice president of the United States might be.”
The President’s legal team has made several unsuccessful court challenges to the vote totals in several states, arguing fraud and irregularities. Yesterday Attorney General William Barr said the Justice Department has not uncovered evidence of widespread voter fraud that would change the outcome of the 2020 presidential election.
The destruction continues. It doesn’t matter if they fear tRump or not, they are trying to overturn the vote of the people and democracy. This is what Putin and other strongman tim plated authoritarian dictators do. This is not the US, at least not before tRump. Hugs
The Daily Mail reports:
On Sunday a group of about 50 protesters gathered outside the Echo Park home of Los Angeles County Department of Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer to denounce the county’s latest coronavirus restrictions, and neighbors came out to defy them.
At the demonstration a woman named Gina Michelle Bisignano, who was wearing a Trump-supporting sweater, got into a verbal dispute with one anti-protester and dropped offensive homophobic slurs.
“You’re a faggot. You’re disgusting. You’re a new world order Satanist. And you guys are all for it. You’re a faggot. What are you a guy or a girl? And I’m gonna tell you something else. You’re a Nazi and you’re brainwashed by MK Ultra. You’re such a liberal piece of shit. I bet you had an abortion this morning.”
Tenants paying rent at Trump Organization and Kushner Company properties are beneficiaries of PPP loans.
Sweeping data released by the Small Business Administration on who benefited from pandemic relief programs raises questions about the equitability and distribution of loans intended for small businesses, an initial analysis by NBC News shows.
The analysis found that tenants paying rent at properties owned by the Trump Organization as well as the Kushner Companies, owned by the family of Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, benefited financially from the program. These tenants received loans, which they then were required to put toward rent for the loans to be forgiven. The data did not show that the Trump Organization received PPP loans for its properties.
After months of litigation, the SBA released the dataset Tuesday night on every small business that received a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) or Economic Injury Disaster (EIDL) loan.
The data reveals the most complete accounting to date of the more than $700 billion in forgivable loans Congress and the Trump administration introduced in the spring for allowable expenses, including payroll, rent, utilities and mortgage interest payments.
The analysis by NBC News, one of 11 newsrooms that sued for the release of data, also shows:
- Over 25 PPP loans worth more than $3.65 million were given to businesses with addresses at Trump and Kushner real estate properties, paying rent to those owners. Fifteen of the businesses self-reported that they only kept one job, zero jobs or did not report a number at all.
- The loans to businesses located at Trump and Kushner properties included a $2,164,543 loan to the Triomphe Restaurant Corp., at the Trump International Hotel & Tower in New York City. The company reported the money didn’t go to keeping any jobs. It later closed.
- A company called LB City Inc, which is located at Kushner’s Bungalow Hotel in Long Branch, New Jersey, received a loan for $505,552.50 that it used to keep 155 jobs.
- Two tenants at 725 5th Avenue, Trump Tower, received more than $100,000 and kept only three jobs.
- Four tenants at the Kushner-owned 666 5th Avenue combined received more than $204,000, and retained only six jobs.
Christopher W Smith, General Counsel with Kushner Companies, denied that the company had benefited improperly in any way from the program.
“The notion that Kushner Companies somehow improperly benefited from CARES Act Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans is completely untrue and amounts to nothing more than politically motivated nonsense. Exactly two Kushner Companies’ hotel operations affiliates received PPP loans. Every provision of the PPP program has been comprehensively abided with respect to each of the two loans – and every penny of the funds received from the program was utilized to fund employee payroll and benefits costs to maintain jobs imperiled by the COVID pandemic and associated lockdown measures.”
Kimberly Benza, a spokeswoman with the Trump Organization, wrote in an email, “The Trump Organization was specifically excluded from receiving PPP money, per Senate legislation. In other words, no Trump entity received pandemic-related loans from the government.”
There were also some troubling signs of mismanagement revealed in the data. Over 100 loans were made to companies where no business name was listed, were listed as “no name available” or showed potential data entry errors, such as names that appeared to be dates or phone numbers. More than 300 companies appear to have each gotten more than $10 million in loans through their subsidiaries. Businesses were not supposed to receive more than $10 million per entity, except for those in the food, hospitality or hotels industries.
The findings immediately raised concerns with government accountability groups.
“Many months and broken promises later, the court-ordered release of this crucial data while the Trump administration is one foot out the door is a shameful dereliction of duty and flagrant mismanagement of a program that millions of workers and small businesses needed to get through this pandemic,” Kyle Herrig, president of Accountable.US, an accountability watchdog, said in a statement.
The PPP programs’ original stated intent by officials was to help with payroll for small businesses struggling under the effects of coronavirus lockdown measures. The loans aimed to provide a bridge through the summer for what was hoped to be an improved economic and health climate in the fall.
The law creating the virus bailout program barred businesses controlled by government officials and their family members, including in-laws, from receiving loans. The indirect benefits the Trump and Kushner businesses received were not prohibited by law.
Large national banks initially gave loans only to customers with whom they had pre-existing lending relationships. Businesses owned by people of color without strong banking relationships found themselves with limited access and forced them to find other routes for funding. There was also the persistent question of what defined a “small business,” after lobbying by the hotel and restaurant industry ballooned the maximum number of employees allowable to 500, even though over 98 percent of the small businesses in America have fewer than 100 employees.
The administration tried to address the complaints, such as setting aside a day just for smaller community banks to apply for loans. But even that overwhelmed SBA computer systems. These controversies all increased the pressure for transparency.
But in contrast to previous government bailout programs, the agency previously released less detailed versions that it said for privacy reasons omitted the business names and addresses of borrowers who borrowed less than $150,000. And instead of specific loan amounts, loans were listed in ranges.
The SBA defended its handling of the program when it released its data on Tuesday evening.
“SBA’s historically successful Covid relief loan programs have helped millions of small businesses and tens of millions of American workers when they needed it most,” an SBA spokesman said in a statement accompanying the release.
Jimmy Billimoria, an SBA spokesman, also noted that the missing information was the fault of the lenders. He wrote in an email, “what appears in the data is what was submitted by lenders into the SBA system.”
But as government accountability groups sifted through the data late into the night and uploaded them to publicly searchable databases like SearchPPP.com, they expressed regret about what has happened to so many small businesses partly from the loan program’s “mismanagement” and “malpractice,” said Herrig.
“Only now — after its hand has been forced, hundreds of thousands of small businesses have gone under, and millions of taxpayer dollars were wasted — has this administration pulled back the curtains to reveal the malpractice going on behind the scenes,” Herrig said. “Americans deserved an open, transparent small business aid program when this pandemic started, and any new small business relief program must take a lesson from the abject failures of this one.”
CLARIFICATION (Dec. 2, 2020, 8:45 p.m. ET): An earlier version of this article noted that tenants of the Trump Organization and the Kushner Companies received PPP loans. The Trump and Kushner companies did not themselves receive the loans, and the article has been changed to make that clear. In addition, the earlier version did not include responses from the two companies, which have been added.
József Szájer had boasted of rewriting constitution to define marriage as heterosexual institution
Hungary’s prime minister, Viktor Orbán, has condemned the behaviour of MEP József Szájer, from his rightwing Fidesz party, after Szájer’s participation in a “gay orgy” in Brussels prompted accusations of hypocrisy.
“What our representative, József Szájer, did has no place in the values of our political family. We will not forget nor repudiate his 30 years of work, but his deed is unacceptable and indefensible,” said Orbán on Wednesday evening. He said Szájer had left the party. He had already resigned as an MEP over the weekend.
Orbán’s government has enacted a range of legislation over the past decade infringing on LGBT rights, and Szájer boasted of personally rewriting Hungary’s constitution to define marriage as a heterosexual institution in 2011.
That made it all the more embarrassing when he was caught by Brussels police shimmying down a drainpipe to escape a gay orgy last Friday. Police raided the gathering as it violated Belgium’s coronavirus regulations.
In a terse statement, the Fidesz grouping in the European parliament commended Szájer’s resignation. “He made the only right decision. We acknowledge his decision, just as we acknowledge that he has apologised to his family, his political community and to the voters,” it read.
Prior to Orbán’s intervention, Hungarian ministers were tight-lipped when questioned by a reporter from the outlet Telex on Wednesday morning as they arrived for a cabinet meeting at a government building.
“Mr Szájer made the only possible right decision, and all the rest is his personal matter,” said the justice minister, Judit Varga. Other ministers ignored questions. A police cordon was set up to prevent the journalist from questioning any further officials.
Szájer, who is married, resigned unexpectedly on Sunday, without giving any reason. He made a statement on Tuesday when media reports about the orgy began to circulate. According to the Brussels region’s deputy public prosecutor, he was arrested with bloodied hands after a passerby spotted him “fleeing along the gutter” to escape the raid.
Szájer admitted he had been at a “house party” but said the drugs the police found on him were planted. He apologised to his family, but made no reference to the nature of the party. One person who knew Szájer said while the politician never discussed his sexuality, it was considered an “open secret” among Fidesz circles.
David Manzheley, the organiser of the party, told Belgian newspaper HLN that Szájer had come to the party as the plus-one of another guest. “I always invite a few friends to my parties, who in turn bring some friends along, and then we make it fun together. We talk a bit, we drink something – just like in a cafe. The only difference is that in the meantime we also have sex with each other,” he said. He added that guests had been “completely naked” at the time of the raid.
Belgian police have opened a case against those present for violating lockdown rules, as well as against Szájer for possession of drugs. But the “gay orgy” element is the one receiving the most attention, mainly because Szájer has played a key role as part of a rightwing government that has enacted numerous pieces of anti-LGBT legislation.
In 2011, Szájer boasted that he had drafted Hungary’s new constitution on his iPad, including a clause that explicitly defined marriage as between a man and a woman. He dismissed a question from a journalist who asked how he could refer to it as “a 21st-century constitution” when it did not guarantee LGBT rights.
Szájer said: “It depends how we interpret the 21st century. I don’t think that the traditional concept of marriage has changed just because we came into another millennium.”
In the intervening decade, Orbán’s government has gone further in its “traditional values” drive. Last year, senior Fidesz figures called for a boycott of Coca-Cola after it used gay couples in a Hungarian advertising campaign, while the country announced late last year it would not participate in the Eurovision song contest, with sources saying the contest was deemed “too gay” for conservative government and public media bosses.
Last month, as Hungary struggled amid surging coronavirus cases, Orbán’s government introduced a new set of constitutional amendments to parliament, including one that stipulates that, in a parent-child relationship, “the mother is a woman and the father is a man”. It also said that only heterosexual married couples could adopt children, with even single people requiring special ministerial dispensation.
The government’s justification for the amendment explained that “new, modern ideologies in the western world raise doubt about the creation of the male and female sex, and endanger the right of children to have healthy development”.
Opposition parties seized on the scandal as evidence of Fidesz hypocrisy, but leading government figures appear to have decided the best policy is to remove Szájer from the political spotlight and hope the scandal blows over.
In a programme on the pro-government Pesti TV, host Zsolt Jeszenszky criticised liberals for making “a huge political deal out of a sex scandal” and praised Szájer’s statement of apology. He also insinuated, as did many other pro-government commentators, that the scandal or arrest could have been a setup by unnamed enemies of Hungary’s government.
1/ Why does it matter that Viktor Orbán’s close friend and ally, MEP József Szájer was caught having an orgy with 20+ men? Very simple. While he was enjoying himself in LGBT-friendly Brussels, he made life for LGBT people in Hungary miserable by rewriting the constitution. THREAD
2/ After Viktor Orbán came to power in 2010, Szájer famously drafted a new constitution for Hungary on his iPad (yes, really), becoming the legal architect of Orbán’s regime. There was no consultation with the opposition or anyone outside the government.
3/ Here’s the English version of Hungary’s (Szájer’s) constitution. 'Article L' on "protecting the institution of marriage as the union of a man and a woman" was inserted, essentially making it impossible for gay couples to get married. But that’s not all.
4/ It’s not just about marriage – this part of the constitution on marriage and families became a reference point for future legislations aimed at restricting the rights and freedom of LGBT people. Moreover, it became the legal justification for Viktor Orbán’s culture war.
5/ Just a few examples (and I’m gonna be using lots of Guardian articles by @floragaramvolgy and @shaunwalker7 on this)… Most recently, a consitutional amendment was introduced that "would ensure that only heterosexual married couples can adopt children”
6/ In May – also following up on Szájer's original 'Article L’ -, Orbán’s parliamentary majority "has voted to end legal recognition for trans people (…) The new law defines gender as based on chromosomes at birth”.
7/ It’s not just about what is included in the constitution drafted by Szájer – it is just as important what’s lacking. For example, there is no constitutional protection against discrimination based on the grounds of sexual orientation.
8/ And then there is all the culture war going on, where the Szájer-drafted constitution always comes up as an argument against anything that is pro-LGBTQ. Look at this story from last year, for example:
9/ The whole anti-gay crusade became such an integral part of the Orbán government’s agenda that it started allying itself with some really weird and scary people.
10/ From last year: "Hungary will not participate in next year’s Eurovision song contest, amid speculation the decision was taken because the competition is “too gay” for the taste of the country’s far-right government and public media bosses."
11/ Recently, the government's anti-gay crusade reached new levels when even Viktor Orbán spoke out against a children’s book (!) with LGBTQ characters, saying that "there is a red line that cannot be crossed (…) Leave our children alone!"
Rudolph W. Giuliani, who is promoting baseless claims of widespread election fraud, talked about a pardon with President Trump as recently as last week.
President Trump has discussed with advisers whether to grant pre-emptive pardons to his children, to his son-in-law and to his personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani, and talked with Mr. Giuliani about pardoning him as recently as last week, according to two people briefed on the matter.
Mr. Trump has told others that he is concerned that a Biden Justice Department might seek retribution against the president by targeting the oldest three of his five children — Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump and Ivanka Trump — as well as Ms. Trump’s husband, Jared Kushner, a White House senior adviser.
Donald Trump Jr. had been under investigation by Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel, for contacts that the younger Mr. Trump had had with Russians offering damaging information on Hillary Clinton during the 2016 campaign, but he was never charged. Mr. Kushner provided false information to federal authorities about his contacts with foreigners for his security clearance, but was given one anyway by the president.
The nature of Mr. Trump’s concern about any potential criminal exposure of Eric Trump or Ivanka Trump is unclear, although an investigation by the Manhattan district attorney into the Trump Organization has expanded to include tax write-offs on millions of dollars in consulting fees by the company, some of which appear to have gone to Ms. Trump.
Presidential pardons, however, do not provide protection against state or local crimes.
Mr. Giuliani’s potential criminal exposure is also unclear, although he was under investigation as recently as this summer by federal prosecutors in Manhattan for his business dealings in Ukraine and his role in ousting the American ambassador there. The plot was at the heart of the impeachment of Mr. Trump.
The speculation about pardon activity at the White House is churning furiously, underscoring how much the Trump administration has been dominated by investigations and criminal prosecutions of people in the president’s orbit. Mr. Trump himself was singled out by federal prosecutors as “Individual 1” in a court filing in the case that sent Michael D. Cohen, his former lawyer and fixer, to prison.
The discussions between Mr. Trump and Mr. Giuliani occurred as the former New York mayor has become one of the loudest voices pushing baseless claims of widespread fraud in the 2020 election, which Mr. Trump still proclaims publicly that he won. Many of Mr. Trump’s longtime aides have refused to do his bidding to try to overturn an election that President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. won by nearly seven million votes. But Mr. Giuliani has repeatedly thrust himself into the spotlight to cast doubt on the results, which has ingratiated him with the president.
ABC News reported earlier on Tuesday that Mr. Trump was considering pardoning family members.
A spokeswoman for Mr. Trump did not respond to an email seeking comment.
And Mr. Giuliani’s lawyer, Robert Costello, said, “He’s not concerned about this investigation because he didn’t do anything wrong, and that’s been our position from Day 1.”
The Fox News host and Trump ally Sean Hannity said on Monday that given the animosity from Democrats directed at Mr. Trump, the president should consider pardoning his entire family. “If Biden ever became president, I’d tell Trump pardon yourself and pardon your family,” Mr. Hannity told his viewers.
Mr. Trump is an avid consumer of Fox News, particularly Mr. Hannity’s show.
Such a broad pardon pre-empting any charge or conviction is highly unusual but does have precedent. In the most famous example, President Gerald R. Ford pardoned Richard M. Nixon for all of his actions as president. President George Washington pardoned plotters of the Whiskey Rebellion, shielding them from treason prosecutions. And President Jimmy Carter pardoned thousands of American men who illegally avoided the draft for the Vietnam War.
Mr. Trump has wielded his clemency powers liberally in cases that resonate with him personally or for people who have a direct line to him through friends or family, while thousands of other cases await his review.
A pardon for Mr. Giuliani is certain to prompt accusations that Mr. Trump has used his pardon power to obstruct investigations and insulate himself and his allies. Andrew A. Weissmann, a top prosecutor for Mr. Mueller, has said that Mr. Trump’s dangling of pardons for his allies impeded their work.
In July, the president commuted the sentence of his longtime adviser Roger J. Stone Jr., who had refused to cooperate with the special counsel’s investigators and was eventually convicted of seven felonies. Last week, Mr. Trump pardoned his former national security adviser Michael T. Flynn, who had backed out of his cooperation agreement with the special counsel’s office for “any and all possible offenses” beyond the charge he had faced of lying to federal investigators.
The Flynn pardon raised expectations that Mr. Trump would bestow clemency on other associates — like his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who refused to discuss matters from the 2016 election with prosecutors — in his final weeks in office.
Mr. Giuliani has asked Mr. Trump’s campaign to pay him $20,000 a day for his work on trying to overturn the election, a figure that would make him among the most highly paid lawyers in the world. The staggering sum has stirred opposition among Mr. Trump’s aides who worry that Mr. Giuliani has perpetuated the claims of election fraud in hopes of making as much money as possible.
Mr. Giuliani has expressed concern that any federal investigations of his conduct that appear to have been dormant under the Trump administration could be revived in a Biden administration, according to people who have spoken to him.
Legal experts say that if Mr. Trump wants to fully protect Mr. Giuliani from prosecution after he leaves office, the president would most likely have to detail in the language of the pardon what crimes he believed Mr. Giuliani had committed.
Federal prosecutors in Manhattan have since 2019 been investigating the role of Mr. Giuliani and two other associates in a wide-ranging pressure campaign directed at pushing the Ukrainian government to investigate Mr. Trump’s rivals, namely Mr. Biden’s son Hunter Biden.
The two Giuliani associates — Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman — were arrested in October 2019 as they prepared to board a flight from Washington to Frankfurt with one-way tickets. They were charged with violating campaign finance laws as part of a complex scheme to undermine the former American ambassador in Ukraine, Marie L. Yovanovitch, who Mr. Giuliani and Mr. Trump believed should have been doing more to pressure the Ukrainians.
Prosecutors in Manhattan continued to investigate Mr. Giuliani’s role in the scheme over the past year, focusing on whether he was, in pushing to oust Ms. Yovanovitch, essentially double dipping: working not only for Mr. Trump but also for Ukrainian officials who wanted the ambassador gone for their own reasons, according to people briefed on the matter.
It is a federal crime to try to influence the United States government at the request or direction of a foreign official without disclosing their involvement. Mr. Giuliani has said that he did nothing wrong and that he did not register as a foreign agent because he was acting on behalf of Mr. Trump, not any Ukrainians.
Even as Mr. Trump maintains that the election was stolen and files lawsuits aimed at delaying its certification, his White House is preparing for the final stages of his presidency. The end of any administration typically prompts a wave of pardons, particularly when a term has been engulfed in controversy like Mr. Trump’s, in which several people close to him became ensnared in federal investigations.
“The pardon power has been used by many presidents in politically self-serving ways, whether it was George H.W. Bush or Clinton,” said Jack L. Goldsmith, a professor at Harvard Law School, citing how Mr. Bush pardoned six of his associates — including the former Defense Secretary Caspar W. Weinberger — for their role in the Iran-contra affair.
“Politically, a pardon of Giuliani would be explosive,” Mr. Goldsmith added, “but pardoning pals has been done before.”
Under previous administrations, presidents have largely granted pardons after they have gone through a formal review process at the Justice Department, where lawyers examined the convictions, discussed the ramifications of a potential pardon with prosecutors and then provided the White House with recommendations on how to proceed. On several occasions, Mr. Trump has gone against the Justice Department’s recommendations and the advice of his own White House advisers, granting pardons to political allies and celebrities.
When presidents have deviated from that process, scandals have occasionally occurred, especially after pardons in the last days of an administration. On the final day of Bill Clinton’s presidency, he granted a pardon to Marc Rich, a wealthy financier and longtime Democratic donor who was considered a fugitive as he had fled the United States to avoid tax charges.
Prosecutors in Manhattan investigated whether the pardon had been part of a quid pro quo, but no one was ever charged. At the time, Mr. Giuliani, who had helped bring criminal charges against Mr. Rich years earlier as a federal prosecutor, was deeply critical of the move, calling it “a disgrace” and declaring it “a midnight pardon.”
No president has tried to grant someone a pardon for crimes they have not yet committed — essentially a prospective get-out-of-jail-free card — and legal experts say it is unlikely to hold any weight. In the case of Donald Trump Jr., Mr. Mueller’s investigation examined questions of whether his contacts during the 2016 election with WikiLeaks and Russians offering dirt on Mrs. Clinton amounted to campaign finance violations. Donald Trump Jr. was never interviewed by the special counsel’s office and was never charged.
In the case of Mr. Kushner, he omitted several significant contacts with foreigners when he filled out a form for his White House security clearance, including ones with the Russians offering damaging information on Mrs. Clinton during the campaign. Under federal law it is a crime to provide inaccurate or incomplete information on the background check documents for security clearances.
In 2018, the White House counsel and chief of staff recommended that Mr. Kushner not receive a Top Secret security clearance because of issues that had been discovered during his background check. Over the objections of Mr. Trump’s aides, the president unilaterally granted Mr. Kushner the clearance.
Ben Protess contributed reporting.
Really? Why have rules at all if you can opt out? This is more of the religion can opt out of any laws they wish, religious people do not have to follow rules or laws because … Jesus. God did not want you to cover your face? He can see you through walls to watch you masterbate and have same gender sex for fuck sake! But these same people will wear ski masks and other face coverings in the cold? I am so tired of exceptions and allowances being made for the most stupid and unwilling to have responsibility for their actions people. Hugs
The Rapid City Journal reports:
The Rapid City Council voted 9-1 on Monday night to move a mask-optional ordinance to a second reading with council member John Roberts voting no. The majority of the public attending the meeting did not wear masks despite a mask requirement while in city buildings. There were also three police officers present as well as Rapid City Police Chief Don Hedrick, who all wore masks.
After about three hours of public comment, council members approved Ordinance No. 6454. It will be heard once more for the second reading. If approved, it will go into immediate effect and last until Feb. 28, 2021. Instead of requiring the public to wear a mask in public indoor places where six feet of social distancing was not possible, businesses and other facilities that have an occupancy of 50 people or more will be able to opt out of the regulations.
Watch the below TikTok compilation for some of the reasons Jesus doesn’t want you to wear a mask. Really. The full meeting is surely more than you can endure, but it’s also below if you want to skip around for maximum crazy.
There is a 4 hour video at the link above. Way too much crazy for me to watch or repost. Hugs
Pastor Tony Spell, the head of Louisiana’s Life Tabernacle Church, has once again lost a legal challenge, this time at the highest possible level.
In case you need a refresher, Spell was first arrested in April — remember April?! — for aggravated assault against a protester. But he became notorious for holding in-person church gatherings and putting countless people in harm’s way. Despite being under house arrest, he defied the law to preach at his nearby church multiple times a week, even asking supporters to send him portions of their stimulus checks.
Spell’s more recent legal troubles involved a lawsuit against Gov. John Bel Edwards for issuing an order that limited the size of gatherings, including church services. Spell claimed that violated his First Amendment rights.
But two weeks ago, U.S. District Judge Brian Jackson tossed those claims aside, essentially saying that churches weren’t being treated unfairly. If anything, they were given more leeway than public institutions.
Governor Edwards’s Proclamations have always treated comparable secular institutions similarly to comparable religious institutions. In the earliest days of the pandemic, the only businesses or individuals who were treated more leniently than religious organizations were essential workers and businesses, such as healthcare workers and grocery stores. With every restriction on places of worship, identical or more stringent restrictions have been placed on similarly situated secular businesses. Indeed, religious organizations have often been privileged over similar secular businesses.
That ruling stood in stark contrast to the one the Supreme Court issued in favor of churches this week, saying that New York’s restrictions treated churches unfairly, but the conservative bloc compared churches to places like grocery stores — as if they’re both equally “essential” — when they should’ve done with this judge did, comparing churches to bars or concert venues, places where people also gather, speak, and stick around for longer periods of time.
In any case, the ruling sent a clear message to Spell: Stop acting like a precious little snowflake. We’re all dealing with the pandemic. You need to make the same sacrifices as everyone else.
Spell’s claims were also dismissed “with prejudice,” meaning he couldn’t raise the same issue again in court — or pursue legal costs.
(For what it’s worth, the most recent executive order in Louisiana wasn’t even that restrictive: Rather than prohibiting gatherings of 10 or more people or anything like that, the order allowed churches to be filled to 75% of their capacity. It was far too much. But nothing is ever good enough for COVID-denying Christian pastors who don’t live in reality.)
But Spell wasn’t done whining. Within a week of that ruling, his lawyers — including alleged pedophile Roy Moore — filed an emergency appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court. As explained by Law & Crime, the ruling asked the Court to say Spell had a First Amendment right to gather — and that the government had absolutely no power in any situation to stop him.
In one passage, the application suggests Spell was merely “[f]ollowing his religious conviction that he must obey God rather than man” when he chose to keep his church fully open. The application later argues that the First Amendment separation of church and state “was to protect the church from the state.”
Later on, it argued for the supreme authority of the church:
When the State’s order prohibits a church from assembling, singing together, hearing the word of God preached, laying hands on the sick, baptizing, taking communion, and the like, then the courts owe the State no deference at all.
Taking up that case — and ruling in favor of Spell — would’ve been an unmitigated disaster. It would have suggested churches exist in their own world, unable to be controlled for any reason no matter how much tangible damage they cause.
The good news is that Justice Samuel Alito, who handles these kinds of emergency cases from this region, rejected the plea altogether. The case won’t come before the Court at all. The earlier decisions stand.
Tony Spell is a loser yet again.
That’s especially ironic given that Spell just gave a sermon days ago saying God would be on his side, calling his filing with the Supreme Court the “most theologically sound documents and arguments that has ever been in Washington, D.C… in the highest court of the land.”
His theology is as pathetic as his legal record.