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‘It’s too much’: Democrats shudder at Trump’s money machine -

‘It’s too much’: Democrats shudder at Trump’s money machineDonald Trump and the Republican National Committee have raised more than $300 million this year for his reelection — more than any other sitting president in history at this point in the campaign. Trump has nearly twice as much cash on hand — $158 million, between his campaign account and the RNC — as Barack Obama and the Democratic National Committee had at this time in his successful re-election run. Already this year, Trump’s campaign operation has spent close to $23 million on TV and digital advertising, more than 10 times the amount that the lone major Democratic super PAC spending against him, Priorities USA, has laid out so far in its online-only spending campaign.

Mon, 21 Oct 2019 10:52:29 -0400

We've already seen 780 anti-Semitic incidents this year and it's 'horrifying,' group says -

We've already seen 780 anti-Semitic incidents this year and it's 'horrifying,' group saysAt least 12 white supremacists have been arrested for their roles in attacks or plots against the Jewish community in the United States.

Mon, 21 Oct 2019 10:41:29 -0400

Philippine police recommend drug charges against ex-chief -

Philippine police recommend drug charges against ex-chiefPhilippine police recommended graft and drug charges against its former chief on Monday over a new scandal that has put President Rodrigo Duterte's anti-narcotics crackdown under the spotlight. The police face allegations some officers are involved in the illegal drugs trade and that they had the protection of former chief Oscar Albayalde. It is the latest controversy to engulf the Philippine police force, which is waging a drug war launched by President Duterte in 2016.

Mon, 21 Oct 2019 09:30:36 -0400

Trump said his chaotic withdrawal from Syria had 'secured' the country's oil. It hasn't, and now the US is scrambling to protect a key oil-producing area. -

Trump said his chaotic withdrawal from Syria had 'secured' the country's oil. It hasn't, and now the US is scrambling to protect a key oil-producing area.President Donald Trump on Sunday said the US "secured" Syria's eastern oil fields. The reality is more complex, local sources told Business Insider.

Mon, 21 Oct 2019 09:28:58 -0400

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange loses bid to delay hearing -

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange loses bid to delay hearingWikiLeaks founder Julian Assange appeared in a U.K. court Monday to fight extradition to the United States on espionage charges, and he lost a bid to delay proceedings so that his legal team would have more time to prepare his case. Assange defiantly raised a fist to supporters who jammed the public gallery in Westminster Magistrates Court for a rare view of their hero. Assange hadn't been seen in public for several months and his supporters had raised concerns about his well-being.

Mon, 21 Oct 2019 09:18:11 -0400

Trump Considering Leaving Small Contingent of Troops in Syria, Defense Secretary Confirms -

Trump Considering Leaving Small Contingent of Troops in Syria, Defense Secretary ConfirmsSecretary of Defense Mark Esper told reporters in Kabul on Sunday that “there has been a discussion” within the Trump administration about leaving several hundred U.S. troops in northeast Syria despite the president’s withdrawal order.Esper also said that, despite reports of intermittent fighting between Kurdish and Turkish forces in spite of the five-day ceasefire, the agreement “generally seems to be holding.” “We see a stability of the lines, if you will, on the ground,” he added.Esper’s comments confirmed a Sunday New York Times report that Trump was considering a Pentagon plan to leave roughly 200 special-forces troops in the area to check a potential ISIS resurgence and to protect oil fields from Russian and Syrian advancement.Should President Trump decide to leave troops in Syria, it will be the second time he has announced a total withdrawal from Syria only to recant within days. Trump hinted at the strategy in a Sunday tweet: “We have secured the Oil.” He also mentioned oil security during an impromptu press conference on Friday.Secretary Esper on Sunday explained the rationale behind relocating 700 troops from Syria to western Iraq. “[One objective] is to help defend Iraq and two is to perform a counter-ISIS mission as we sort through the next steps,” he said. “Things could change between now and whenever we complete the withdrawal, but that’s the game plan right now.”Esper refused to confirm whether U.S. special forces would conduct counterterrorism operations from Iraq into Syria but said that countering ISIS was one of his top concerns. He also said he will talk with other allies at a NATO meeting in the coming week to discuss future strategy.

Mon, 21 Oct 2019 09:05:55 -0400

Scottish Judges Wait to Decide Whether Johnson Met Benn Act -

Scottish Judges Wait to Decide Whether Johnson Met Benn Act(Bloomberg) -- Scottish judges held off on ruling on a case brought by opponents of a no-deal Brexit to ensure that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson complies with a law requiring he reach an agreement with the European Union or postpone the country’s departure.The three-person panel, led by Judge Colin Sutherland, didn’t set a date for the next hearing when releasing their decision in Edinburgh Monday. The opponents are seeking a continuation to ensure that Johnson accepts an extension from the EU if it’s offered.The opponents are not disputing that he has complied with the letter of the law by sending a request last week, but they’re now arguing that he’s not complied with its spirit. In addition to a letter seeking an extension, the government sent two other documents opposing more time.Johnson will try again to put his Brexit deal to a vote in Parliament in a bid to show the EU that he has the support to get the divorce agreement ratified. But that puts him on a potential collision course with House of Commons Speaker John Bercow, who could decide not to allow a vote because MPs already considered the issue on Saturday.Jo Maugham, a lawyer who has backed several cases related to Brexit, said the court made the right decision because Johnson “cannot be trusted to comply with the law.”The Benn Act requires Johnson to seek a delay to Brexit if he hasn’t reached a deal.To contact the reporters on this story: Christopher Elser in London at celser@bloomberg.net;Alastair Reed in Edinburgh at areed12@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Christopher Elser at celser@bloomberg.net, Anthony AaronsFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

Mon, 21 Oct 2019 08:49:03 -0400

Potatoes Thrown at American Troops As They Depart Northeastern City in Syria -

Potatoes Thrown at American Troops As They Depart Northeastern City in SyriaThe scene encapsulated the Kurds' feelings of betrayal

Mon, 21 Oct 2019 08:00:26 -0400

Trade pact differences with U.S. broadly resolved: Piyush Goyal -

Trade pact differences with U.S. broadly resolved: Piyush GoyalIndia's Trade Minister Piyush Goyal said on Monday that the broad outline of a trade deal with the United States has been worked out and suggested there could be an announcement soon. The two countries have been locked in trade disputes for months, slapping higher tariffs on each other's products and the U.S. withdrawing a key concession to India. The collateral damage of the United States' trade wars is being felt around the world as President Donald Trump renegotiates relationships with many of Washington’s top trading partners.

Mon, 21 Oct 2019 07:25:07 -0400

Trump Cheated (Shocker!) on Property Tax; But Will Anyone Go to Jail? -

Trump Cheated (Shocker!) on Property Tax; But Will Anyone Go to Jail?Chip SomodevillaProPublica published a piece Wednesday that put the spotlight once again on some questionable financial practices of the Trump Organization, which showed one set of books to banks (inflating value) and another to New York City tax authorities (deflating value).Is this just the usual Trump mendacity, or can prosecutors see this as part of a pattern? And if so, could it be prosecuted? Who would be tagged as the defendant(s)? If not, what more is needed to bring the guilty parties to justice?Before we explore these questions, let’s look at the facts. Both versions of them.ProPublica obtained property tax docs for four Trump properties. These docs became public when Trump appealed the tax bills, and the loan records became public when Trump’s lenders sold the debt on the properties. Significant discrepancies were unearthed between the tax records and loan records for two of the properties: Trump International Hotel & Tower, on Central Park West, and 40 Wall St.Tax and loan documents for 40 Wall St. showed significant discrepancies in how certain costs such as insurance were reported. Further, Trump representatives reported different occupancy rates to lenders and tax officials: 81 percent to lenders (rising later to 95 percent), and just 59 percent to tax authorities. Rising occupancy rates are valued by lenders because they are indicative of rising income level which is material to securing refinancing, while lower rates, of course, mean lower taxes.Meanwhile, documents for the Trump International Hotel & Tower showed that city tax officials were advised that this property made about $822,000 in 2017 from renting space in the building to other businesses, while loan officials were told that the building made about $1.67 million. ProPublica further notes that Trump appeared not to report income from leasing space for television antennas on tax documents but did report the income on loan docs.Each of the above-noted discrepancies is indicative of potential fraud. But do they represent instances of a prosecutable case?The short answer is: not yet. The discrepancies do reflect a situational ethics approach toward financial obligations and responsibilities. But more evidence will be needed to prosecute anyone should criminal prosecution be considered by the authorities.Who might be prosecuted here? It is unclear just who is responsible for submitting the doctored financial statements to the lending authorities and tax officials. Were the folks who submitted the documents the same folks who prepared them? If so, what were their marching orders? Who directed the Trump Organization officials to tailor the financial statements to minimize property taxes or maximize occupancy rates to obtain loans?Investigators need to home in on the work papers prepared to support the finagled financial statements in order to determine “willful intent,” or “mens rea” that James Comey so infamously referenced. Such evidence may well be found at Mazars USA—the Trump Organization accounting firm that is the subject of intensive litigation with regard to subpoenas served by both the U.S. Congress and the Manhattan DA’s office.Accountant work papers have been found to be beneficial when uncovering evidence of intent to defraud in case after case of white-collar fraud, specifically tax fraud. In fact, accountant work files and testimony provided critical evidence leading to the conviction of Paul Manafort in the Mueller investigations and prosecutions. It should be noted that tax fraud, bank fraud, and the falsification of business records may result in felony charges that could be contemplated by the Manhattan DA and provide for prison sentences that could lead the convicted defendants to land in Rikers Island for a stretch with the aforementioned Manafort. Evidence of corrupt intent to defraud either a financial institution or a public tax authority is critical to a successful criminal prosecution. The use of a double or triple set of books and records by company officials for fraudulent purposes is a terrific example of overt acts of corrupt intent. But further evidence will be needed here to link all those involved in each of the instances denoted above. Email, texts, voice mail, notes to the file and other evidence of directions to finagle the financial docs are needed. Further forensic analysis of the documents, for example fingerprint analysis, ink chemistry analysis and handwriting analysis are investigative tools available to the prosecutors to tighten the vise and provide the links in the chain of potential targets.Cohen was reportedly debriefed in detail recently by the Manhattan DA’s office. His testimony will be needed to outline just who in the Trump Organization was responsible for the preparation of the questionable documents referenced above. Cohen’s credibility will clearly be attacked in court by the defendant(s) and will become a question for the jury to grapple with. Cohen provided the Southern District of New York with a prosecutive path for those responsible for cooking the books at the Trump Organization with regard to the reimbursement of “hush money” payments to Cohen. That path is now available to the Manhattan DA. Add Cohen’s now corroborated congressional testimony outlining the transactional financial ethics referenced above, used by the Trump team in their shady business dealings and the jury will likely be sitting on the edge of their seats. All the DA needs to do now is fill in some blanks in combination with demonstrating a pattern of fraud over time—the closing argument is shaping up to be very persuasive.The allegation that the Trump Organization appeared not to report income from leasing space for television antennas to tax authorities but did report the income on loan docs revives memories of the landmark New York Times tax fraud series on Fred Trump and Donald Trump’s financial shenanigans in the ’90s wherein the Times detailed multiple instances of unreported income streams tailored by Fred Trump for the Donald. While the statute of limitations has long expired with regard to the multi-million dollar gift tax evasion schemes entered into by Donald Trump, prosecutors can use evidence of historical frauds to depict a pattern of fraudulent conduct on the part of a defendant no matter how long ago the fraud occurred. It goes to willfulness or corrupt intent exhibited by Individual-1.The Manhattan DA’s case against the Trump Organization may appear to be on its surface just a mundane business fraud type of case. But fraudulent documents don’t change stories, particularly when there are witnesses available to tie the documents and the corrupt intent together. Add the historical pattern of fraud engaged in by Individual-1 and the Manhattan DA’s case appears to be silently moving along like a stealth nuclear submarine under the radar and there are no available defenses available like an Office of Legal Counsel opinion to protect the prospective defendants from a potentially lethal prosecutorial attack.Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.

Mon, 21 Oct 2019 07:00:33 -0400

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