Archive | Power to the People

Team Mueller …

While we watch the Trump administration spin its wheels and the Republican Congress do everything except legislate, special counsel Robert Mueller is assembling his team very quietly.
If one looks closely, these are experts in the field of financial crime.

And this is a stealthy cast of characters

Aaron Zebley, Mueller’s chief of staff when he was FBI director

  • Zebley was an elite FBI agent for 7 years in the Counterterrorism Division
  • He was instrumental in tracking down dangerous Al Qaeda members back in 1999
  • He then became a prosecutor and one of Mueller’s go-to confidants
  • He was part of the I-49 team: a small group of FBI agents based in NYC who were actively searching for Osama Bin Laden before the 9/11 attacks

 

James Quarles III, former Watergate investigator

  • A litigator and a partner at WilmerHale, where he started in 1975. He runs the DC office of the firm
  • He served as an assistant special prosecutor for the Watergate investigation
  • During that investigation, Quarles focused on campaign finance research — something that will certainly be called upon throughout the Russia investigation, particularly after the FBI issued subpoenas for financial disclosures from Michael Flynn and Paul Manafort
  • He has argued cases in front of the Supreme Court

 

Jeannie Rhee, former deputy attorney general in the Office of Legal Counsel

  • Rhee was senior adviser to former Attornery General Eric Holder for two years
  • She advised him and the WH on “constitutional, statutory and regulatory issues regarding criminal law, criminal procedure, executive privilege, civil rights and national security,” according to WilmerHale.
  • She tried more than 30 cases when she served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the D.C. Attorney’s Office
  • She rejoined WilmerHale as a partner in the Litigation/Controversy Department where she advised “clients who are the subject of government investigations” regarding “white-collar criminal investigations, False Claims Act allegations and securities enforcement matters.”
  • In 2015, Rhee represented Hillary Clinton in a case about her private email server, according to Politico.

Andrew Weissmann, DOJ criminal fraud section chief

  • He was Mueller’s one-time general counsel
  • Previously led the fraud unit at the DOJ
  • Weismann oversaw the Enron Task Force in the early 2000s, investigating the failed energy company
  • From 1991 to 2002, Weissmann handled cases against various crime families in NY as part of his work in the office of the U.S. Attorney for New York’s Eastern District
  • He worked at a law firm where he focused on the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, securities fraud, and other issues.

 

Michael Dreeben, DOJ’s deputy solicitor general

  • Dreeben currently serves in the Justice Department, overseeing its criminal docket before the Supreme Court and handling its appellate cases
  • He has argued more than 100 cases in front of the Supreme Court
  • He was a deputy in the Office of the Solicitor General
  • He’s been heralded as “1 of the top legal & appellate minds at DOJ in modern times,” and has been called “the most brilliant and most knowledgeable federal criminal lawyer in America—period.”

Lisa Page, an experienced DOJ trial attorney

  • There has been no official announcement from the special counsel about Page, but WIRED notes Mueller has reached out to her
  • Her investigatory expertise: organized crime cases, money laundering, and one particularly relevant case where she partnered with Hungary’s FBI task force to investigate European organized crime.

Note: Her work in Hungary is what led to the ongoing money laundering case against Dmitry Firtash, a Ukrainian leader who was once business partners with Paul Manafort.

Andrew Weissman is a person of particular note as he is known for “flipping witnesses.”

Andrew Weissmann, who headed the U.S. Justice Department’s criminal fraud section before joining Mueller’s team last month, is best known for two assignments – the investigation of now-defunct energy company Enron and organized crime cases in Brooklyn, New York – that depended heavily on gaining witness cooperation.

Securing the cooperation of people close to Trump, many of whom have been retaining their own lawyers, could be important for Mueller, who was named by the Justice Department as special counsel on May 17 and is investigating, among other issues, whether Trump himself has sought to obstruct justice. Trump has denied allegations of both collusion and obstruction.

“Flipping” witnesses is a common, although not always successful, tactic in criminal prosecutions.

Robert Ray, who succeeded Kenneth Starr as the independent counsel examining former President Bill Clinton, noted that Trump’s fired former national security advisor, Michael Flynn, has already offered through his lawyer to testify before Congress in exchange for immunity, suggesting potential willingness to cooperate as a witness.

“It would seem to me the time is now to make some decisions about what you have and what leverage can be applied to get the things you don’t have,” Ray said, referring to Mueller’s team.

I think the depth and breadth, the warp and weave of all things Trump and Russia is going to be quite a tale.

Better than any crime fiction written.

 

2

The Unhinged Left …

Today is the day for the special election in the sixth congressional district of Georgia. The race is between seasoned Republican political veteran Karen Handel and Democratic newcomer Jon Ossoff.

The special election is considered the referendum on the Trump presidency, so far, as if the absurdity of it all isn’t apparent. But, what is noteworthy is that this is the district that Newt Gingrich represented. And things in the area have certainly changed, as the demographics of the Atlanta area are shifting to the left.

The polls on this race are pretty much a dead heat. What else is notable is the big impact that newly politically active women are having in this race and it is in Ossoff’s favor.

In the wake of Donald Trump’s November defeat of Hillary Clinton, many of these Georgia women have remade their lives, transforming themselves and their communities through unceasing political engagement. To visit Georgia’s sixth in the days before the runoff is to land on a planet populated by politically impassioned women, talking as if they have just walked off the set of Thelma & Louise, using a language of awakening, liberation, and political fury that should indeed discomfit their conservative neighbors, and — if it is a harbinger of what’s to come — should shake conservative America more broadly.

And then there is the money pouring into the district for this race. One of Handel’s criticism of Ossoff is that there is a great amount of money coming to him from outside the district. Act Blue has been an influential source for bringing in out of district money for Ossoff. The amount of money spent on advertising has been astounding.

An election-eve analysis by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution shows that roughly $42 million has been spent or reserved for TV and radio ads in the race – including about $27 million since the first-round of voting in April winnowed the field in Tuesday’s vote to Democrat Jon Ossoff and Republican Karen Handel. That doesn’t include the other cash spent by the campaigns and the super PACs and outside groups supporting them for other trappings of the campaigns, including direct-mail, staff payroll, consulting fees and digital ads.

The analysis shows Ossoff laid out $14.2 million on ad time and spent at least another $8 million on other costs. Handel spent $2.5 million on TV, radio and cable spots and had at least $1 million in other expenses.

And some of the ads by PACs are just ridiculous, as this ad is…

 

Both campaigns have denounced this ad, BTW.

So, most polls have Ossoff ahead by a razor-thin margin. Personally, I think that Handel will win.

But, I have my fingers crossed.

6

Living your faith

Happy to see so many Notre Dame grads walk out during Mike Pence’s commencement speech:

I was so wrong

I really didn’t think the former mayor of my old town had a snowball’s chance in hell of stopping the guy who was removing the hill behind her house.

Guess what? She pulled it off!

She filed complaints to the state Department of Environmental Protection and the County Soil Conservation District — and they must have done something, because today the site has been cleaned up.

She’s running for mayor again, I hope she wins.

She persisted.

Theatres to screen Orwell’s 1984 today to protest Trump

Dystopian Display

Toronto, Canada – Nearly 200 theatres worldwide will simultaneously screen the film version of George Orwell’s dystopian classic, 1984, on Tuesday to protest US President Donald Trump. The idea, which is being called “National Screening Day”, is the brainchild of Dylan Skolnick, co-director of the Cinema Arts Centre on Long Island, New York, and Adam Birnbaum,… Continue Reading →

How a teacher taught his 5th graders to spot fake news

This is a great story. I’d love to see more grownups follow these rules! It’s difficult, I still get caught sometimes. But this helps:

To make sure I wouldn’t have any student in the same situation as Andy ever again, I started asking my students to examine seven different elements of a news article. If the information checks out on each of these points, it has a high likelihood of being accurate. Still, passing the test is not a guarantee that it’s fact.

  1. Copyright: I always ask students to check the bottom of the webpage to see if the information has been submitted for ownership.
  2. Verification with multiple sources: Students must double check the information on a few different web pages. Like in a trial, the more corroborating witnesses, the more likely the truth will be discovered.
  3. Credibility of source, such as between History.com versus a random unknown source: I tell them to check if the source has been recently created. Sources that have been around for a while can show reliability over time and be tested by hindsight, whereas recently created sources don’t carry much of a track record.
  4. Date published: I always ask them to check how recently the page was updated to see how current the information is and whether anything has changed.
  5. Author’s expertise and background with the subject: Students should check if the author is someone who has dedicated time and effort to learning this subject. For example, a university professor typically has increased credibility versus a hobbyist.
  6. Does it match your prior knowledge: I ask them if the information matches up with what they have learned before
  7. Does it seem realistic: I tell students to use their common sense. Does something seem authentic or probable?

Tribes: Hundreds march to White House in pipeline protest

Hundreds marched from the Washington office of the U.S. Army Corps to the White House in protest of the Dakota Access pipeline this morning. Photo by Cecelia Smith-Schoenwalder.

Hundreds of protesters this morning marched from the Army Corps of Engineers office in Washington to the White House, where they held a rally against the Dakota Access oil pipeline.

Throughout the week, Native American protesters and their supporters have been holding water blessings, cultural workshops and presentations at a ceremonial teepee camp set up by the Washington Monument.

This week, tribes and other groups were outraged by a federal court’s decision to reject arguments from the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe that the project violates their religious freedom rights.

During the march that was organized by Native Nations Rise, chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Dave Archambault II and Yakama Nation Chairman JoDe Goudy read a proclamation that questioned the separation of church and state when dealing with tribal matters.

“The Dakota Access Pipeline crisis is a direct result of the United States government using the religious underpinnings of U.S. federal law against our Nations,” Goudy said in a statement.

Cheyenne River and Standing Rock still have pending legal cases against the pipeline, although the pipeline could start moving oil as soon as next week.

“In order for us to take the steps necessary to assure our own future, we have to understand historically what has happened to us and understand what is currently happening to us,” Archambault said.

Sen. Tim Kaine’s son one of six counter-protesters arrested at pro-Trump rally

Senator Tim Kaine, United States Senator from Virginia; Democratic Party Vice Presidential Candidate, US Presidential Election (2016)

MINNEAPOLIS — Linwood Kaine, the youngest son of U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine, who was Hillary Clinton’s running mate in the presidential election, was one of six counter-protesters arrested during a rally supporting President Donald Trump over the weekend at the Minnesota State Capitol in St. Paul. Kaine was arrested by St. Paul Police and booked into… Continue Reading →

Last night’s town halls

People are so, so angry. But I have to say, Indivisible has given people the right tools to organize their districts. Great turnout, good preparation. And no matter what these Republicans say about outside agitators, they know better. I hope they’re scared shitless:

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