Archive | Grifters

Comments from Potential Jurors in the Martin Shkreli trial …

Jury selection in the Shkreli trail for eight counts of securities and wire fraud has not been an easy task. Over 200 potential jurors have been excused. Here are comments made by potential jurors during selection. Brafman is Shkreli’s attorney…

 The Court: The purpose of jury selection is to ensure fairness and impartiality in this case. If you think that you could not be fair and impartial, it is your duty to tell me. All right. Juror Number 1.

Juror no. 1: I’m aware of the defendant and I hate him.

Benjamin Brafman: I’m sorry.

Juror no. 1: I think he’s a greedy little man….

Juror no. 47: He’s the most hated man in America. In my opinion, he equates with Bernie Madoff with the drugs for pregnant women going from $15 to $750. My parents are in their eighties. They’re struggling to pay for their medication. My mother was telling me yesterday how my father’s cancer drug is $9,000 a month.

The Court: The case is going to come before you on evidence that you must consider fairly and with an open mind.

Juror no. 47: I would find that difficult….

Juror no. 52: When I walked in here today I looked at him, and in my head, that’s a snake — not knowing who he was. I just walked in and looked right at him and that’s a snake.

Brafman: So much for the presumption of innocence.

The Court: We will excuse Juror Number 52. Juror Number 67?…

Juror no. 77: From everything I’ve seen on the news, everything I’ve read, I believe the defendant is the face of corporate greed in America.

Brafman: We would object.

Juror no. 77: You’d have to convince me he was innocent rather than guilty…

Juror no. 10: The only thing I’d be impartial about is what prison this guy goes to…

juror no. 59: And he disrespected the Wu-Tang Clan.


(h/t John Cole at Balloon Juice)

Mueller will be looking into these kinds of things, too…

BloomberView has an opinion piece by Timothy O’Brien about Trump’s relationship with Bayrock Group, a real estate development firm.

Trump has repeatedly labeled Comey’s and Mueller’s investigations “witch hunts,” and his lawyers have said that the last decade of his tax returns (which the president has declined to release) would show that he had no income or loans from Russian sources. In May, Trump told NBC that he has no property or investments in Russia. “I am not involved in Russia,” he said.

But that doesn’t address national security and other problems that might arise for the president if Russia is involved in Trump, either through potentially compromising U.S. business relationships or through funds that flowed into his wallet years ago. In that context, a troubling history of Trump’s dealings with Russians exists outside of Russia: in a dormant real-estate development firm, the Bayrock Group, which once operated just two floors beneath the president’s own office in Trump Tower.

Bayrock partnered with the future president and his two eldest children, Donald Jr. and Ivanka, on a series of real-estate deals between 2002 and about 2011, the most prominent being the troubled Trump Soho hotel and condominium in Manhattan.

During the years that Bayrock and Trump did deals together, the company was also a bridge between murky European funding and a number of projects in the U.S. to which the president once lent his name in exchange for handsome fees. Icelandic banks that dealt with Bayrock, for example, were easy marks for money launderers and foreign influence, according to interviews with government investigators, legislators, and others in Reykjavik, Brussels, Paris and London. Trump testified under oath in a 2007 deposition that Bayrock brought Russian investors to his Trump Tower office to discuss deals in Moscow, and said he was pondering investing there.

“It’s ridiculous that I wouldn’t be investing in Russia,” Trump said in that deposition. “Russia is one of the hottest places in the world for investment.”

One of Bayrock’s principals was a career criminal named Felix Sater who had ties to Russian and American organized crime groups. Before linking up with the company and with Trump, he had worked as a mob informant for the U.S. government, fled to Moscow to avoid criminal charges while boasting of his KGB and Kremlin contacts there, and had gone to prison for slashing apart another man’s face with a broken cocktail glass.

In a series of interviews and a lawsuit, a former Bayrock insider, Jody Kriss, claims that he eventually departed from the firm because he became convinced that Bayrock was actually a front for money laundering.

Kriss has sued Bayrock, alleging that in addition to laundering money, the Bayrock team also skimmed cash from the operation, dodged taxes and cheated him out of millions of dollars. Sater and others at Bayrock would not comment for this column; in court documents they have contested Kriss’s charges and describe him, essentially, as a disgruntled employee trying to shake them down.

But Kriss’s assertion that Bayrock was a criminal operation during the years it partnered with Trump has been deemed plausible enough to earn him a court victory: In December, a federal judge in New York said Kriss’s lawsuit against Bayrock, which he first filed nine years ago, could proceed as a racketeering case…

Hit the link and read the whole thing. It is really fascinating.

Rachel Maddow did an interview with O’Brien the other night.


Why was Comey fired?

Other than the obvious reason, I mean:

And now, a word from our sponsor

The Bar at Mar-a-Lago [2000x1371]

They really are determined to live out Idiocracy, aren’t they?

An official State Department website is promoting President Trump’s private club in Florida, with help from a number of State Department Facebook accounts.

An April 4 post on U.S. Department of State: Economic & Business Affairs’ Facebook page characterizes Mar-a-Lago as the “winter White House” and links to an article on the State Department’s Share America site. That article — entitled, “Mar-a-Lago: The winter White House” — explains that the club “has become well known as the president frequently travels there to work or host foreign leaders” and provides some history about the property.

But what it doesn’t mention is that Mar-a-Lago is perhaps the most obvious vehicle Trump is using to profit off the presidency. Trump broke precedent by not divesting from his business interests when he became president. Shortly after he took office, Mar-a-Lago membership fees doubled to $200,000. Trump traveled to Mar-a-Lago seven out of the first 12 full weekends after his inauguration, and mingled with members on numerous occasions. The message is clear — the price of a Mar-a-Lago membership buys access to the president.

[…] Unlike the White House or Camp David, Trump’s trips to Mar-a-Lago represent a huge cost for taxpayers — upwards of $3 million per trip. Nonetheless, Eric Trump recently compared his father’s visits to Mar-a-Lago to President George W. Bush’s trips to his ranch in Texas.

“I think being able to go to Mar-a-Lago, it is my father’s Crawford, Texas,” Eric, who is handling day-to-day management of the Trump Organization along with his brother Donald Jr., told the Irish publication “Crawford was George W Bush’s ranch and Bush brought foreign leaders from all over the world [there]. He would go down to the ranch and they would drive a truck around and they would have fun and they would eat and that was his way of bonding.”
Eric Trump’s problematic endorsement of his dad’s foreign policy from the White House grounds

But Bush’s ranch wasn’t a private club. He and the foreign leaders he hosted were never placed in compromising situations where they had to handle a foreign crisis in full view of diners, as Trump and Japanese Prime Minster Shinzo Abe did in February. Bush, who put his assets into a blind trust when he became president, didn’t charge hundreds of thousands of dollars for memberships to Crawford and then convey that buying one is a way to gain access to him.

The tax return probably leaked by the White House is now a ‘deep state’ Obama conspiracy

Watch Rachel Maddow Release Part Of Donald Trump's Tax Returns For The First Time

Former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and Fox Business host Stuart Varney asserted on Wednesday that allies of President Barack Obama and the so-called “deep state” had conspired to release President Donald Trump’s tax returns. On his Fox Business show, Varney asked Lewandowski to react to the leak of Trump’s 2005 tax returns, which was first… Continue Reading →

Did Trump leak his own tax return?


Donald Trump paid only a small percentage of income tax on earnings of over $150 million in the year 2005, according to documents obtained by reporter David Cay Johnston, a contributor to The National Memo. Johnston received what appear to be the first two pages of Trump’s federal income tax return from that year, and published… Continue Reading →

It was not so long ago when we got a completely different version

Sketchbook: Michael Flynn

Fascinating, how the information dribbles out a little bit at a time! Drip, drip, drip:

WASHINGTON — Michael T. Flynn, then Donald J. Trump’s incoming national security adviser, had a previously undisclosed meeting with the Russian ambassador in December to “establish a line of communication” between the new administration and the Russian government, the White House said on Thursday.

Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump’s son-in-law and now a senior adviser, also participated in the meeting at Trump Tower with Mr. Flynn and Sergey I. Kislyak, the Russian ambassador. But among Mr. Trump’s inner circle, it is Mr. Flynn who appears to have been the main interlocutor with the Russian envoy — the two were in contact during the campaign and the transition, Mr. Kislyak and current and former American officials have said.

But the extent and frequency of their contacts remains unclear, and the disclosure of the meeting at Trump Tower adds to the emerging picture of how the relationship between Mr. Trump’s incoming team and Moscow was evolving to include some of the president-elect’s most trusted advisers.

The White House has repeatedly sought to play down any connections with Mr. Kislyak. Attorney General Jeff Sessions acknowledged this week that he had met twice with him during the campaign, despite previous denials.

CNN: Trump pulled pre-speech immigration ‘bait and switch’ At Press Luncheon


CNN White House correspondent Sara Murray told “Inside Politics” that officials confirmed they spread bogus happy talk on an immigration compromise during a private White House luncheon with television news anchors to garner favorable press coverage before Trump delivered his speech to the Joint Sessions. And it worked magnificently. Yesterday, Fox News’ Shepard Smith mocked Chris… Continue Reading →

Trump said he made $21 million in income from his New York contracts. He actually made a lot less.

The Wollman Rink

When he was running for president last May, Donald Trump released 104 pages of details about his finances, including a claim that he earned nearly $21 million through contracts with New York City to run two skating rinks in Central Park and a Bronx golf course. Much of what Trump asserts remains unverified since he has… Continue Reading →

So, there’s this

Speaking of coincidence — look who else was in Russia on Dec. 10, 2015 — the same day as Jill Stein and Michael Flynn!

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