Want to fight crime? Increase immigration and save DACA

Rachel Kleinfeld writes: There are few points on which the vast majority of scholars agree. One of them is that immigrants, both legal and illegal, are far more law-abiding than native-born Americans. The findings are so strong that some scholars argue that part of the steep fall in violence in the 1990s was caused by higher than normal immigration during that period.

The fact that U.S. locales with higher rates of immigration have lower homicide rates is echoed by research conducted by Reid et al., Wadsworth, Ousey and Kubrin, and Stowell et al. The findings held for Los Angeles in the 2000s, and for gang-ridden San Diego from 1980 to 2000 when immigrants were pouring into the city: As immigrants arrived, homicides fell. In fact, pretty much the only slightly negative correlation between immigration and crime comes from Jörg Spenkuch, who found that a 10% increase in foreign-born immigrants with poor employment outlooks raises a county’s property crime rate by just over 1%, but causes no rise in violence.

This is no surprise when you know that immigrants themselves are far less likely to commit crimes – especially violent crimes – than native-born Americans. In fact, immigrants started out less violent than native-born immigrants, and have become less and less crime-prone with each census since 1980. By 2000, native-born Americans were five times more likely to be incarcerated than immigrants. That particularly holds true for less-educated Mexican, Salvadoran, and Guatemalan young men, who are overrepresented among illegal immigrants. By 2010, more than 10 percent of native-born men aged 18-39 without a high school diploma were incarcerated. The percentage for Central American immigrants? Just 1.7 percent. [Continue reading…]

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Where the undocumented immigrant population grows, crime goes down

Tom Jacobs writes: Pandering politicians regularly insist that undocumented immigrants are a danger to society.

“They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime,” Donald Trump famously declared in announcing his candidacy for president. A decade earlier, Iowa congressman Steve King said 13 Americans die each day as a result of undocumented drunk drivers.

A just-released study suggests such claims are hacia atrás—exactly backwards. Looking at state-level data, it finds three major drug-related problems are apparently mitigated as the population of undocumented immigrants grows.

Specifically, states with an increasing concentration of non-citizen residents lacking proper papers experienced “reductions in drug arrests, drug overdose deaths, and DUI arrests,” writes a research team led by sociologist Michael Light of the University of Wisconsin–Madison. [Continue reading…]

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In cyberwarfare, everyone is a combatant

The Wall Street Journal reports: This is already a banner year for hacks, breaches and cyberwarfare, but the past week was exceptional.

South Carolina reported hackers attempted to access the state’s voter-registration system 150,000 times on Election Day last November—part of what former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson alleges is a 21-state attack perpetrated by Russia. And U.S. intelligence officials alleged that agents working for the United Arab Emirates planted false information in Qatari news outlets and social media, leading to sanctions and a rift with Qatar’s allies. Meanwhile, Lloyd’s of London declared that the takedown of a significant cloud service could lead to monetary damages on par with those of Hurricane Katrina.

Threats to the real world from the cyberworld are worse than ever, and the situation continues to deteriorate. A new kind of war is upon us, one characterized by coercion rather than the use of force, says former State Department official James Lewis, a cybersecurity specialist at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Businesses and individuals now are directly affected in ways that were impossible in the first Cold War. In another age, the threat of nuclear annihilation loomed over everyone’s heads, but the cloak-and-dagger doings of global powers remained distinct from the day-to-day operations of businesses. Now, they are hopelessly entangled. The often unfathomable priorities of terrorists, cybercriminals and state-affiliated hackers only make things worse.

The current climate of cyberattacks is “crazy,” says Christopher Ahlberg of Recorded Future, a private intelligence firm that specializes in cyberthreats. “It’s like a science-fiction book. If you told anybody 10 years ago about what’s going on now, they wouldn’t believe it.”

In the first Cold War, the U.S., China and the Soviet Union fought proxy wars rather than confront one another directly. In Cold War 2.0, we still have those—Syria and whatever is brewing in North Korea come to mind—but much of the proxy fighting now happens online.

The result is significant collateral damage for businesses that aren’t even a party to the conflicts, says Corey Thomas, chief executive of cybersecurity firm Rapid 7. Recent ransomware attacks that some analysts attribute to Russia might have been aimed at Ukraine but resulted in the shutdown of computer systems at businesses and governments around the world. Russia has denied involvement in these attacks. Botnets made of internet-connected devices, stitched together by an unknown hacker for unknown reasons, caused countless internet services and websites to become unavailable in October 2016. [Continue reading…]

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Trump’s Russian laundromat

Craig Unger writes: In 1984, a Russian émigré named David Bogatin went shopping for apartments in New York City. The 38-year-old had arrived in America seven years before, with just $3 in his pocket. But for a former pilot in the Soviet Army—his specialty had been shooting down Americans over North Vietnam—he had clearly done quite well for himself. Bogatin wasn’t hunting for a place in Brighton Beach, the Brooklyn enclave known as “Little Odessa” for its large population of immigrants from the Soviet Union. Instead, he was fixated on the glitziest apartment building on Fifth Avenue, a gaudy, 58-story edifice with gold-plated fixtures and a pink-marble atrium: Trump Tower.

A monument to celebrity and conspicuous consumption, the tower was home to the likes of Johnny Carson, Steven Spielberg, and Sophia Loren. Its brash, 38-year-old developer was something of a tabloid celebrity himself. Donald Trump was just coming into his own as a serious player in Manhattan real estate, and Trump Tower was the crown jewel of his growing empire. From the day it opened, the building was a hit—all but a few dozen of its 263 units had sold in the first few months. But Bogatin wasn’t deterred by the limited availability or the sky-high prices. The Russian plunked down $6 million to buy not one or two, but five luxury condos. The big check apparently caught the attention of the owner. According to Wayne Barrett, who investigated the deal for the Village Voice, Trump personally attended the closing, along with Bogatin.

If the transaction seemed suspicious—multiple apartments for a single buyer who appeared to have no legitimate way to put his hands on that much money—there may have been a reason. At the time, Russian mobsters were beginning to invest in high-end real estate, which offered an ideal vehicle to launder money from their criminal enterprises. “During the ’80s and ’90s, we in the U.S. government repeatedly saw a pattern by which criminals would use condos and high-rises to launder money,” says Jonathan Winer, a deputy assistant secretary of state for international law enforcement in the Clinton administration. “It didn’t matter that you paid too much, because the real estate values would rise, and it was a way of turning dirty money into clean money. It was done very systematically, and it explained why there are so many high-rises where the units were sold but no one is living in them.” When Trump Tower was built, as David Cay Johnston reports in The Making of Donald Trump, it was only the second high-rise in New York that accepted anonymous buyers.

In 1987, just three years after he attended the closing with Trump, Bogatin pleaded guilty to taking part in a massive gasoline-bootlegging scheme with Russian mobsters. After he fled the country, the government seized his five condos at Trump Tower, saying that he had purchased them to “launder money, to shelter and hide assets.” A Senate investigation into organized crime later revealed that Bogatin was a leading figure in the Russian mob in New York. His family ties, in fact, led straight to the top: His brother ran a $150 million stock scam with none other than Semion Mogilevich, whom the FBI considers the “boss of bosses” of the Russian mafia. At the time, Mogilevich—feared even by his fellow gangsters as “the most powerful mobster in the world”—was expanding his multibillion-dollar international criminal syndicate into America.

Since Trump’s election as president, his ties to Russia have become the focus of intense scrutiny, most of which has centered on whether his inner circle colluded with Russia to subvert the U.S. election. A growing chorus in Congress is also asking pointed questions about how the president built his business empire. Rep. Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, has called for a deeper inquiry into “Russian investment in Trump’s businesses and properties.”

The very nature of Trump’s businesses—all of which are privately held, with few reporting requirements—makes it difficult to root out the truth about his financial deals. And the world of Russian oligarchs and organized crime, by design, is shadowy and labyrinthine. For the past three decades, state and federal investigators, as well as some of America’s best investigative journalists, have sifted through mountains of real estate records, tax filings, civil lawsuits, criminal cases, and FBI and Interpol reports, unearthing ties between Trump and Russian mobsters like Mogilevich. To date, no one has documented that Trump was even aware of any suspicious entanglements in his far-flung businesses, let alone that he was directly compromised by the Russian mafia or the corrupt oligarchs who are closely allied with the Kremlin. So far, when it comes to Trump’s ties to Russia, there is no smoking gun.

But even without an investigation by Congress or a special prosecutor, there is much we already know about the president’s debt to Russia. A review of the public record reveals a clear and disturbing pattern: Trump owes much of his business success, and by extension his presidency, to a flow of highly suspicious money from Russia. Over the past three decades, at least 13 people with known or alleged links to Russian mobsters or oligarchs have owned, lived in, and even run criminal activities out of Trump Tower and other Trump properties. Many used his apartments and casinos to launder untold millions in dirty money. Some ran a worldwide high-stakes gambling ring out of Trump Tower—in a unit directly below one owned by Trump. Others provided Trump with lucrative branding deals that required no investment on his part. Taken together, the flow of money from Russia provided Trump with a crucial infusion of financing that helped rescue his empire from ruin, burnish his image, and launch his career in television and politics. “They saved his bacon,” says Kenneth McCallion, a former assistant U.S. attorney in the Reagan administration who investigated ties between organized crime and Trump’s developments in the 1980s. [Continue reading…]

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The latest Russia revelations lay the groundwork for a conspiracy case

Randall D. Eliason writes: Collusion is usually defined as a secret agreement to do something improper. In the criminal-law world, we call that conspiracy. If unlawful collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian nationals did take place, criminal conspiracy would be one of the most likely charges.

A conspiracy is a partnership in crime. The federal conspiracy statute prohibits conspiracies to defraud the United States, which includes conspiracies to impede the lawful functions of the federal government — such as administering a presidential election.

Conspiracy also prohibits agreements to commit another federal crime. This would include an agreement to violate the laws against hacking into someone else’s computer, or to violate federal election laws.

Conspiracies, by their nature, take place in secret. To break through that secrecy, prosecutors often rely on circumstantial evidence. The classic trial lawyer’s metaphor is that each such piece of evidence is a brick. No single event standing alone may prove the case. But when assembled together, those individual bricks may build a wall — a big, beautiful wall — that excludes any reasonable doubt about what happened. [Continue reading…]

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Lawsuit accuses Donald Trump of illegally destroying White House records

HuffPost reports: Two watchdog groups have sued Donald Trump over White House records, accusing the president of illegally destroying communications that must be preserved by federal law.

The suit — filed Thursday against Trump and the Executive Office of the President by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) and the National Security Archive — focuses on an “auto-delete” app reportedly being used for messages sent from the White House that erase messages after they’re read.

Such communications could involve correspondence among the president, aides, advisers, contractors, lobbyists and others. They’re part of a “historical record” that belongs to the public and must be preserved, as mandated by the Presidential Records Act of 2014, notes the suit, which was filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The law requires the preservation of communications in the White House and vice president’s office. [Continue reading…]

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Memo shows Watergate prosecutors had evidence Nixon White House plotted violent attack on peaceful protesters

NBC News reports: Watergate prosecutors had evidence that operatives for then-President Richard Nixon planned an assault on anti-war demonstrators in 1972, including potentially physically attacking Vietnam whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, according to a never-before-published memo obtained by NBC News.

The document, an 18-page 1973 investigative memorandum from the Watergate Special Prosecution Force, sheds new light on how prosecutors were investigating attempts at domestic political violence by Nixon aides, an extremely serious charge.

NBC News is publishing the memo, and an accompanying memo about an interview prosecutors conducted with GOP operative Roger Stone, as part of special coverage for the 45th anniversary of the Watergate break-in.

A plot to physically attack Ellsberg is notable because the former Pentagon official has long alleged that Nixon operatives did more than steal his medical files, the most well-known effort to discredit him. [Continue reading…]

 

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Money stolen by Russian mob linked to man sanctioned for supporting Syria’s chemical weapons program

Michael Weiss writes: An investment group that U.S. authorities say is run by Russian mobsters and linked to the Russian government sent at least $900,000 to a company owned by a businessman tied to Syria’s chemical weapons program, according to financial documents obtained by CNN.

According to a contract and bank records from late 2007 and early 2008, a company tied to a state-backed Russian mafia group, according to U.S. officials, agreed to pay more than $3 million to a company called Balec Trading Ventures, Ltd — supposedly for high-end “furniture.”

Wire transaction records seen by CNN confirm that at least $900,000 was transferred.

Both businesses are registered in the British Virgin Islands.

The company allegedly tied to Russian mafia was called Quartell Trading Ltd., and the U.S. Department of Justice claims it is one of the many vehicles into which millions of dollars of stolen Russian taxpayer money was laundered a decade ago in connection with the so-called “Magnitsky affair,” perhaps the most notorious corruption case in Vladimir Putin’s Russia. [Continue reading…]

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From Russia with blood

BuzzFeed reports: The London square was still and cold when the body fell, dropping silently through the moonlight and landing with a thud. Impaled through the chest on the spikes of a wrought iron fence, it dangled under the streetlamps as blood spilled onto the pavement. Overhead, a fourth-floor window stood open, the lights inside burning.

The dead man was Scot Young. The one-time multimillionaire and fixer to the world’s super-rich had been telling friends, family, and the police for years that he was being targeted by a team of Russian hitmen – ever since his fortune vanished overnight in a mysterious Moscow property deal. He was the ninth in a circle of friends and business associates to die in suspicious circumstances. But when the police entered his penthouse that night, they didn’t even dust for fingerprints. They declared his death a suicide on the spot and closed the case.

A two-year investigation by BuzzFeed News has now uncovered explosive evidence pointing to Russia that the police overlooked. A massive trove of documents, phone records, and secret recordings shows Young was part of a circle of nine men, including the exiled oligarch Boris Berezovsky, who all died suspiciously on British soil after making powerful enemies in Russia. The files reveal that Young lived in the shadow of the Russian security services and mafia groups after fronting for Berezovsky – a sworn enemy of the state – in a series of deals that enraged the Kremlin, including the doomed Russian property deal known as Project Moscow. British police declared the deaths of all nine men in Berezovsky’s circle non-suspicious, but BuzzFeed News can now reveal that MI6, Britain’s secret intelligence service, asked its US counterparts for information about each one of them “in the context of assassinations”. [Continue reading…]

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The Kremlin’s newest hybrid warfare asset: gangsters

Mark Galeotti writes: as they look to prosecute their “political war” against the West, the Russians are emerging as the most enthusiastic users of gangsters’ services. Given that their intelligence services are now up to Cold War levels, it seems ironic that they would even need such amateur auxiliaries. However, so ambitious and numerous are their operations that even they sometimes need some extra capacity or deniability.

Some of the instances when Russia has used criminals as proxies are well known. Russia’s seizure of Crimea, for example, and the subsequent undeclared war in Ukraine’s Donbass region were carried out not just by Russian special forces, but by local gangsters serving as so-called self-defense volunteers. Similarly, many Russian cyberattacks, especially large-scale ones, involve mobilizing criminal hackers. (Indeed, the cyberespionage division of the Federal Security Service has actually recruited hackers by giving them the choice of prison or service.)

But most of this state-sponsored organized crime is more low-profile. We are seeing more and more cases, especially in Europe, where local counterintelligence services believe gangsters are acting as occasional Russian assets. Some work on behalf of the Russia state willingly. In other cases, these criminals have been turned into assets without their knowledge, thinking they are simply doing a service for a Russian gang. And yet for others, they are made an offer they can’t refuse. In a recent report for the European Council on Foreign Relations, I call these “Russian-based organized crime” — whether ethnically Russian or not (because many are Georgians or the like), they are criminals with business or personal interests back in Russia, a fact the Kremlin can use as leverage.

To be sure, most of the time direct links between criminals and the Russian state are hard to establish. What good would it be to hire them if they weren’t? But in some cases, the politically convenient patterns are plain to see. In Istanbul, Russian gangsters have killed Chechen rebel supporters, according to Turkish intelligence. In Ukraine, only a few days ago, a Chechen gangster tried to kill an anti-Russian militia commander.

In the Czech Republic, the authorities warn of the links between Russian intelligence and questionable businesses involved in corruption and money laundering. In Finland, the security police suspect Russian criminals are buying up strategically placed properties from which military facilities can be monitored or even attacked.

Criminal hackers — those not recruited straight into the intelligence services — are being used for both targeted information heists and crude cyberattacks. Putin has even hinted, with a nod and a wink, that such “patriotically minded” cybercriminals may have been behind the Democratic National Committee hack. [Continue reading…]

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Trump’s casino was a money laundering concern shortly after it opened

CNN reports: The Trump Taj Mahal casino broke anti-money laundering rules 106 times in its first year and a half of operation in the early 1990s, according to the IRS in a 1998 settlement agreement.

It’s a bit of forgotten history that’s buried in federal records held by an investigative unit of the Treasury Department, records that congressional committees investigating Trump’s ties to Russia have obtained access to, CNN has learned.

The casino repeatedly failed to properly report gamblers who cashed out $10,000 or more in a single day, the government said.

Trump’s casino ended up paying the Treasury Department a $477,000 fine in 1998 without admitting any liability under the Bank Secrecy Act.

CNN obtained 417 pages of Treasury Department documents under the Freedom of Information Act. The records included the 1998 settlement, draft and final copies of a similar settlement in 2015, and exchanges between the Trump casino lawyers and federal regulators.

The 1998 settlement was publicly reported at the time, and the Associated Press noted it was the largest fine the federal government ever slapped on a casino for violating the Bank Secrecy Act.

But key details of the casino’s cash reporting violations are missing from the publicly released documents, including the identities of the gamblers and casino employees involved in the transactions. [Continue reading…]

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Trump committed an impeachable offense

Noah Feldman writes: Using the presidential office to try to shut down the investigation of a senior executive official who was also a major player in the president’s campaign is an obvious and egregious abuse of power. It’s also a gross example of undermining the rule of law.

This act is exactly the kind that the Founding Fathers would have considered a “high crime.”

And it’s a high crime the president could perform only by virtue of holding his office.

Practically, it still seems unlikely that a Republican House would impeach the president, much less that two-thirds of the Senate would vote to convict and remove him from office.

But a Democratic House would have more than enough material now to start the impeachment process — including the revelation of the request to Comey. And the House could choose to impeach even if it calculated that the Senate probably wouldn’t convict.

The act of impeachment would have tremendous symbolic ramifications. And it would include the detailed investigative oversight that so far has been lacking in Washington. [Continue reading…]

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Obstruction of justice: Comey memo says Trump asked him to end Flynn investigation

The New York Times reports: President Trump asked the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, to shut down the federal investigation into Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn, in an Oval Office meeting in February, according to a memo Mr. Comey wrote shortly after the meeting.

“I hope you can let this go,” the president told Mr. Comey, according to the memo.

The existence of Mr. Trump’s request is the clearest evidence that the president has tried to directly influence the Justice Department and F.B.I. investigation into links between Mr. Trump’s associates and Russia.

Mr. Comey wrote the memo detailing his conversation with the president immediately after the meeting, which took place the day after Mr. Flynn resigned, according to two people who read the memo. The memo was part of a paper trail Mr. Comey created documenting what he perceived as the president’s improper efforts to influence a continuing investigation. An F.B.I. agent’s contemporaneous notes are widely held up in court as credible evidence of conversations.

Mr. Comey shared the existence of the memo with senior F.B.I. officials and close associates. The New York Times has not viewed a copy of the memo, which is unclassified, but one of Mr. Comey’s associates read parts of the memo to a Times reporter.

“I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go,” Mr. Trump told Mr. Comey, according to the memo. “He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.” [Continue reading…]

Politico adds: “[Comey’ memo is] very rich in detail and hopefully it will come out soon,” the friend of Comey, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told POLITICO. “There are other memos about his meetings too. He wrote down every word Trump said to him as soon as he could.” [Continue reading…]

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Manafort’s real-estate deals said to be probed by N.Y.’s top cop

Bloomberg reports: New York State has opened an investigation into the real-estate dealings of President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, deepening the already intense legal scrutiny of the young administration.

The probe by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, one of the most outspoken critics of the president, is in a preliminary stage, according to a person familiar with the matter who asked not to be named because the investigation isn’t public. Manafort, who ran Trump’s campaign from April to August last year, has owned property in the Hamptons and Trump Tower in Manhattan.

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. is also in the early stages of an investigation into Manafort’s transactions, a person familiar with that probe said. Representatives for Schneiderman and Vance declined to comment.

The inquiries by the two Democrats could pose added legal peril for Manafort if investigators find evidence of a crime. Unlike a probe by the U.S. Justice Department and FBI, the president and Attorney General Jeff Sessions have no authority over New York state investigators scrutinizing whether Manafort broke state laws. Schneiderman is responsible for enforcing New York’s securities laws under the Martin Act, which gives him broad powers to pursue white-collar crime. [Continue reading…]

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A special prosecutor is not the answer

David Frum writes: Careful what you wish for.

In the wake of the firing of FBI Director James Comey, many are demanding a special prosecutor into the Trump-Russia connection. It’s not appreciated enough that such an appointment could well turn into a shield for wrongdoing. A special prosecutor could wrap the investigation of the Trump-Russia matter in secrecy for months and years—and ultimately fail to answer any of the important questions demanding answers.

Of all the types of independent investigation that have been suggested, a special prosecutor is the most likely to disappear down rabbit holes—the least likely answer the questions that needed to be answered. A select committee of Congress or an independent commission of nonpartisan experts established by Congress can ask the broad question: What happened? A select committee or an independent commission can organize its inquiry according to priority, leaving the secondary and tertiary issues to the historians. A select committee or an independent commission is not barred from looking at events in earlier years statutes of limitations. A select committee or an independent commission seeks truth.

A special prosecutor, by contrast, seeks crimes. The criminal law is a heavy tool, and for that reason it is thickly encased in protections for accused persons. The most important protection from the point of view of the Trump-Russia matter is the rule of silence. A prosecutor investigating a crime can often discover non-criminal bad actions by the people he is investigating. If those bad actions do not amount to crimes, the prosecutor is supposed to look away. [Continue reading…]

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Major U.S. investigation of Russian money laundering through NYC real estate gets shut down abruptly

CNN reports: A major US investigation into Russian money laundering has come to an abrupt end.

The case aimed to expose how Russian mobsters allegedly stole $230 million and hid some of the cash in New York City real estate. Also sure to come up was the suspicious death of the Russian lawyer who exposed the alleged fraud, though US prosecutors weren’t alleging that the defendants were behind it.

The trial was set to start on Monday, but late Friday night, federal prosecutors in New York announced they settled the case with Prevezon, the company accused of buying up “high-end commercial space and luxury apartments” with laundered money.

The abrupt conclusion has some involved in the trial wondering why this Russian investigation had been cut short.

“What most concerns me is: Has there been any political pressure applied in this?” asked Louise Shelley, an illicit finance expert who was set to testify in support of the US government on Tuesday. [Continue reading…]

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Trump thinks Susan Rice committed a crime but doesn’t think Bill O’Reilly did anything wrong

The New York Times reports: President Trump said on Wednesday that he thought that the former national security adviser Susan E. Rice may have committed a crime by seeking the identities of Trump associates who were swept up in the surveillance of foreign officials by American spy agencies and that other Obama administration officials may also have been involved.

The president provided no evidence to back his claim. Current and former intelligence officials from both Republican and Democratic administrations have said that nothing they have seen led them to believe that Ms. Rice’s actions were unusual or unlawful. When Americans are swept up in surveillance of foreign officials by intelligence agencies, their identities are supposed to be obscured, but they can be revealed for national security reasons, and intelligence officials say it is a regular occurrence.

“I think it’s going to be the biggest story,” Mr. Trump said in an interview in the Oval Office. “It’s such an important story for our country and the world. It is one of the big stories of our time.” [Continue reading…]

The New York Times reports: The embattled Fox News host Bill O’Reilly got powerful backing on Wednesday from none other than the president of the United States, who called him “a good person.”

Mr. Trump praised Fox News and Mr. O’Reilly, just days after The New York Times reported that the host had been involved in five settlements with women who said he had harassed them. The deals resulted in payouts totaling about $13 million, The Times reported.

“Personally, I think he shouldn’t have settled,” Mr. Trump said in an interview in the Oval Office with Times reporters. “Because you should have taken it all the way; I don’t think Bill did anything wrong.” [Continue reading…]

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The WhatsApp chat that nails Putin’s mafia state

Michael Weiss writes: It was a digital conversation never intended for public consumption. Yet what it discloses is nothing short of damning evidence about a decade-old conspiracy between the Russian mob and officials in Vladimir Putin’s government to steal $230 million from the Russian people, then frame and kill the whistleblowing tax attorney who uncovered the crime.

But here it is: Evidence that leaves little room for doubt that Sergei Magnitsky, the murdered lawyer, was right all along. There was collusion between members of organized crime and the Russian government to perpetrate the original theft and then cover it up. In fact, the cover-up continued years after Magnitsky’s violent end in pretrial detention, where he was beaten to death.

To understand the evidence and its import—the extent to which it exposes the rot at the core of the Russian system run by Vladimir Putin—it’s necessary to revisit the admittedly complicated details of the conspiracy, at least as they have been corroborated by the U.S. Congress, the U.S. Department of Justice (PDF), and the European Parliament, all of which have upheld Magnitsky’s findings—even if his own government has not. [Continue reading…]

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Judge to Trump: No protection for speech inciting violence

The Associated Press reports: A federal judge has rejected President Donald Trump’s free speech defense against a lawsuit accusing him of inciting violence against protesters at a campaign rally.

Trump’s lawyers sought to dismiss the lawsuit by three protesters who say they were roughed up by his supporters at a March 1, 2016 rally in Louisville, Kentucky. They argued that Trump didn’t intend for his supporters to use force.

Two women and a man say they were shoved and punched by audience members at Trump’s command. Much of it was captured on video and widely broadcast during the campaign, showing Trump pointing at the protesters and repeating “get them out.”

Judge David J. Hale in Louisville ruled Friday that the suit against Trump, his campaign and three of his supporters can proceed. Hale found ample facts supporting allegations that the protesters’ injuries were a “direct and proximate result” of Trump’s actions, and noted that the Supreme Court has ruled out constitutional protections for speech that incites violence.

“It is plausible that Trump’s direction to ‘get ‘em out of here’ advocated the use of force,” the judge wrote. “It was an order, an instruction, a command.” [Continue reading…]

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