Patterico's Pontifications

5/22/2019

3 Minutes:  Trump meeting with Democrats goes bust in a flash

Filed under: Politics — DRJ @ 8:00 pm



[Headline from DRJ]

AP News3 minutes: Trump meeting with Democrats goes bust in a flash

WASHINGTON (AP) — The curtains in the Cabinet Room were drawn. The Democrats were waiting. And President Donald Trump came and went in three minutes, never stopping to sit down or shake hands.

Trump’s angry walkout on Wednesday left behind a shattered bipartisan infrastructure effort and an escalation of tension between the president and the congressional Democrats investigating him. He barked at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for earlier suggesting he was involved in a “cover-up” and headed to the Rose Garden for an impromptu news conference in which he declared that he would not work with Democrats if they continue with their probes.

“I don’t do cover-ups,” Trump said. “You can’t do it under these circumstances. So get these phony investigations over with.”

(3 minutes rings a bell.)

— DRJ

Federal Grand Jury Indicts Attorney Michael Avenatti Today

Filed under: General — Dana @ 3:33 pm



[guest post by Dana]

Michael Avenatti was indicted in Manhattan today:

Embattled lawyer Michael Avenatti has been charged with fraud and aggravated identity theft for allegedly snatching a total of $300,000 from Stormy Daniels and spending it on personal expenses like airfare, hotels, and restaurant delivery, and to bankroll his law firm.

Federal prosecutors in New York announced the latest charges against the Newport Beach litigator soon after ABC News reported Avenatti was expected to be charged with additional financial crimes. The 48-year-old lawyer faces a slew of charges on both coasts, including wire fraud, bank fraud, and extortion.

On Wednesday, a grand jury also indicted Avenatti for trying to extort the footwear giant Nike to the tune of $25 million, and the Daniels charges are separate from that case.

“Michael Avenatti abused and violated the core duty of an attorney—the duty to his client,” Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said in a statement. “As alleged, he used his position of trust to steal an advance on the client’s book deal. As alleged, he blatantly lied to and stole from his client to maintain his extravagant lifestyle, including to pay for, among other things, a monthly car payment on a Ferrari. Far from zealously representing his client, Avenatti, as alleged, instead engaged in outright deception and theft, victimizing rather than advocating for his client.”

Federal prosecutors brought yet another set of charges against celebrity lawyer Michael Avenatti on Wednesday, this time alleging that he skimmed nearly $300,000 from Stormy Daniels, the adult actress he represented in a case against President Donald Trump.

Prosecutors in New York charged that Avenatti sent a fraudulent and unauthorized letter purporting to contain Daniels’ signature to her book agent instructing the agent to send payments to his bank account rather than to her.

The indictment, revealed on Wednesday afternoon, leaves Avenatti facing three sets of federal charges in two states. Prosecutors have also accused him of trying to extort money from shoemaker Nike and of stealing from clients in Los Angeles.

Popehat has an entertainingly informative overview of the charges and what Avenatti faces:

So SDNY indicted Avenatti in two separate indictments — one on the let’s-extort-Nike-and-Boies-Shiller-I-see-no-way-this-could-go-wrong gambol, and one for defrauding Stormy Daniels. That makes him the defendant in three simultaneous federal indictments, no mean feat.

Nobody else got indicted in either case for now, which is something that was being carefully watched by the sort of people who carefully watch this sort of thing.

However, the un-indicted co-conspirator, whose identity is widely known, remains described prominently in Avenatti’s indictment, remains in the zone of danger, and is currently in a condition commonly known as damp-pantsed.

In the Nike indictment, Avenatti is charged with conspiracy to transmit interstate communications to extort, conspiracy to extort, transmitting interstate extortionate communications, and extortion. But really with flying too close to the sun.

Some of Michael Avenatti’s tweets figure in his Nike indictment, characterized as part of the scheme, because of course they are.

Meanwhile, in the separate THIRD indictment faced by the man who called me and told me I would never amount to anything, Avenatti is accused of stealing some of Stormy Daniels’ (or “Victim-1″) advance on a book contract.

The third indictment alleges Avenatti used Stormy’s money to pay payroll for his firm, for his coffee business, for “insurance, hotels, car services, restaurant and meal delivery,” and for — wait for it — wait for it —-

— $1,900 to “Client-2″ in Los Angeles, who is almost certainly the client Avenatti is charged here in Los Angeles with ripping off. In other words, it appears the indictment charges that Avenatti stole money from Daniels to make lulling payments to a different victim.

This is EXACTLY why you need a good accountant.

The third indictment — the one about Stormy Daniels, not to be confused with the federal indictment about trying to extort Nike or the one about protracted tax dipshittery — describes Avenatti’s lulling communications to Stormy Daniels in detail.

When Daniels asked unjustifiably politely where her book advance was Avenatti responded in a very brief, unsatisfactory, and perfunctory fashion, which no doubt [REMAINDER OF JOKE DELETED]

Anywho, in Federal Criminal Indictment 3/3 Avenatti’s charged with wire fraud and aggravated identify theft, but very unusually, not with conspiracy, possibly because there was literally nobody else in the world stupid enough to try this

Indictments are accusations by a government that responsible people should not trust or take at face value, and which should be vigorously tested by capable advocates, before neutral judges and juries who do not favor one side over the other, and also I should get a pony.

That said, like the SDCA indictment, the SDNY indictments lay out the receipts in a manner that suggest a case that will be extremely difficult to defend. Brah’s in trouble deep.

Avenatti continues to claim he is innocent of all charges and says he expects to be exonerated.

I want to take a minute to remember how the media lapped up all things Avenatti. The adoration was fueled by the wishful hope that the lawyer was the one anointed who would take down President Trump. Oddly, in as much as media outlets helped get President Trump elected by the fawning over him and providing him with far more airtime than any of other candidates, so too did the media help “create” the “folk hero” Avenatti and elevate him to ridiculous levels. Even going so far as to embarrassingly gush about his sartorial choices and alleged sex appeal. That the media helped push Avenatti into the public eye is reinforced also by a report that determined that the self-promoting lawyer was on television 254 times in the span of one year. Also, David Rutz of the Washington Free Beacon calculated that Aveantti “earned roughly $175 million in free media.” Congratulations, media, yet again.

This is my favorite cringe-worthy example of the media idol worship of Avenatti: Idiotic fangirls, CNN commentator Ana Navarro and The View’s Joy Behar deifying the cheap grifter. Clearly their hatred of Trump sucked away any semblance of discernment and rational thought (giving them the benefit of the doubt for having some in the first place):

“Lately, to me, you’re like the Holy Spirit. You are all places at all times. Right. I mean, I do — I see you all over cable news, I see — there’s a seat available if you want to be a co-host at ‘The View.’ There’s people here you can pitch. He’d be a great lady around the table” Navarro ranted.

“[Avenatti] has a bigger calling here. Being a lawyer is minimal compared to what he’s doing,” Joy Behar said.

Navarro interrupted, “The priesthood?”

Behar continued, “He’s out there saving the country.”

–Dana

‘American Taliban’ to be released from prison Thursday

Filed under: Terrorism — DRJ @ 2:00 pm



[HEADLINE from DRJ]

REUTERS: ‘American Taliban’ to be released from prison Thursday

John Walker Lindh, the American captured in Afghanistan in 2001 fighting for the Taliban and vilified as a national traitor, is to be released early from a federal prison on Thursday while some U.S. lawmakers worry he still poses a security risk.

Lindh served 17 years of a 20 year sentence.

— DRJ

Investigation Findings Released: Unable To Determine Whether Gov. Northam Was In Racist Yearbook Photo

Filed under: General — Dana @ 1:01 pm



[guest post by Dana]

Hoo-boy. First, let’s review what Gov. Northam himself said after the photo was made public. After acknowledging that the photo was “clearly racist and offensive,” he said:

I am deeply sorry for the decision I made to appear as I did in this photo and for the hurt that decision caused then and now.

A day later, he walked back his apology, denying that it was him in the picture.

Today, a 55-page report concerning an investigation into Gov. Northam’s alleged participation in the photograph was released by the law firm of McGuire Woods. Investigators stated that that they were unable to conclusively determine if the Governor was actually in said picture. Further, the report revealed that Eastern Virginia Medical School knew about the photo while Gov. Northam was running for office, but said nothing:

Lawyers hired to investigate racist content in Eastern Virginia Medical School yearbooks could not definitively say whether Gov. Ralph Northam appeared in the infamous blackface and KKK picture in the 1984 edition.

But a report released Wednesday says two EVMS presidents, including current president Richard Homan, were told about the racist photo while Northam was running for political offices and decided not to make it public.

“We understand President Homan’s reasoning was EVMS should not become involved, or be seen to become involved, in an election as it is a public body and a public institution, and that EVMS did not not want there to be any suggestion that it had tried to influence Governor Northam in any respect by calling the photograph to his attention,” the document says.

[…]

In one case, the school’s alumni affairs director noticed the photo while preparing for a reunion and was “shocked” by it, the report says. EVMS officials decided not to put the 1984 yearbook on a table with other years’ editions. The McGuire Woods lawyers say they do not know when that occurred.

“The EVMS personnel who became aware of the photograph expressed surprise and disappointment in the photograph,” the report says.

Richard V. Homan, president and provost of the EVMS School of Medicine, speaks during a press conference about Ralph Northam’s medical school yearbook page on Wednesday, May 22, 2019.

At a press conference Wednesday, Homan stood by his decision not to tell Northam or the public about the racist photo earlier.

“I would make the same decision now,” he said. “We’re apolitical, and I did not feel that it was a necessary disclosure to make.”

Questions have been raised about the impartiality of the investigation made by McGuireWoods law firm, given that team member Richard Cullen is not only a partner at McGuireWoods, but is also the former Attorney General of Virginia.

According to Cullen, the reason for Gov. Northam’s backpedal on his apology for being in blackface, was that the Governor chose to err on the side of caution but was then regretful that he hadn’t denied it.

The report says, that along with Gov. Northam and his wife, 52 people were interviewed during the investigation, and that at least one former student opted not to be interviewed.

The questions of why the governor would initially admit that it was him in the yearbook photo and then deny it was addressed by former AG Cullen at a press conference:

The best we can conclude is that he erred on the side of caution initially and immediately regretted not having denied.

It should also be noted that in the report, one verified former student claims to have been with then student Northam before their graduation, and they perused Northam’s yearbook page together. The unnamed individual claims that Northam did not voice any objections about the content of his personal page or the photographs it contained:

We also interviewed an alumnus who attended EVMS in the same timeframe as Governor Northam. This individual recalled talking to Governor Northam outside of the EVMS library in the weeks before the class of 1984 graduated. This alumni told us he and Governor Northam flipped through the 1984 yearbook together and that included looking together at Governor Northam’s personal page. This individual did not recall the Governor having any reaction to the photographs on his personal page that would suggest the Governor thought there was an error on his page. He did remember discussing the photograph featuring the car on Governor Northam’s page. This former student told us that he did not believe Governor Northam was in the Photograph.

We have verified that this individual did attend EVMS based on his inclusion in the yearbooks and student data provided by the school. The timeframe in which the individual describes this encounter with the Governor is potentially within the timeframe that yearbooks would have been distributed to students in 1984, although we lack precise information regarding when this reported encounter occurred and when specifically the 1984 yearbooks issued to students. Though the evidence as to the timing of distribution is not definitive, several individuals from the Class of 1984 have reported to us that they received the yearbooks on or shortly before graduation. Graduation occurred on June 16, 1984. We are not aware of any motive this individual would have to fabricate this account. As with all witness accounts related to the 1984 yearbook, there is the element of the passage of time and that any person’s recollection may dim after thirtyfive years. With that said, this individual did not report any difficulty of memory. We note that this account, if accurate, is apparently inconsistent with the Governor’s statement that the first time he reviewed the Photograph was on February 1, 2019.23

Following up on the former student’s claim, Gov. Northam, when asked about it said that he would not have had the discussion with a student in another class, and that he could not remember such an individual, nor having reviewed his yearbook with him before graduation.

Gov. Northam released a statement today after the investigation results were made public:

I am not in the racist and offensive photo that appears under my name in the 1984 Eastern Virginia Medical School yearbook. That being said, I know and understand the events of early February and my response to them have caused hurt for many Virginians and for that, I am sorry. I felt it was important to take accountability for the photo’s presence on my page, but rather than providing clarity, I instead deepened pain and confusion.

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)

–Dana

Media Outlets Hire Former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel

Filed under: General — Dana @ 8:06 am



[guest post by Dana]

Remember the loud outcry when Kevin D. Williamson was hired as a contributor to The Atlantic? It was so loud in fact, that he was fired about 12 minutes later because his viewpoints were considered to be overly provocative.

Well, yesterday it was announced that former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel would be taking on the role of contributing editor at The Atlantic. He will also be joining ABC News as an on-air contributor.

Here is a quick reminder of exactly who Rahm Emanuel is, and why this is not good news coming from Big Media :

Besides the fact that Emanuel has been a mercenary politician his entire adult life, which should be disqualifying on its face, he should at the very least be blackballed from media gigs for his unrepentant and habitual violations of Illinois’ Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

Under Emanuel’s leadership, the city government was notorious for stonewalling public records requests from news outlets and activists, most notably in the case of the 2014 fatal police shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald by Chicago police.

Police dash cam video clearly contradicted the police narrative that McDonald “lunged” at an officer with a knife, but the Emanuel administration sat on the footage for more than a year—an election year, it so happens—citing an ongoing investigation. The city settled with McDonald’s family for $5 million, but part of the agreement forbid the family from releasing the tape until the “investigation” was complete. Chicago only released the video after it lost a FOIA lawsuit brought by an independent journalist, who was later barred from the press conference where the video was first shown.

“Rahm Emanuel’s administration was a FOIA disgrace, and he was no friend to the Chicago media,” says Matt Topic, a government transparency attorney at Loevy & Loevy who litigated the lawsuit over the McDonald video. “He represents everything that is wrong in government when it comes to transparency and accountability, and he was a shameless self-promoter with little regard for actual facts.”

The fight over the McDonald tape was only the most high-profile instance of Chicago dragging its feet or wrongly denying public records requests. In 2015, an Illinois judge ruled, in response to a Chicago Tribune lawsuit, that Emanuel’s office illegally withheld emails and texts from Emanuel’s private devices regarding the city’s controversial red light camera program. In 2016, Chicago paid out $670,000 in public records lawsuits. In 2019, another judge ruled that the Emanuel administration owed the Tribune $387,000 in attorney’s fees over the lawsuit for his private communications. The total cost to taxpayers exceeded $1 million. Those communications, by the way, showed a number of people illegally lobbying Emanuel.

Ironically, Emanuel’s first column as managing editor of the Ideas section at The Atlantic is titled: It’s Time to Hold American Elites Accountable for Their Abuses.

On a side note: Emanuel’s replacement, Mayor Lori Lightfoot is making some news of her own just days into the job:

New Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s security detail will be headed up by a former U.S. marshal who’s married to a city lobbyist for United Airlines, in a departure from Chicago mayors traditionally relying on city police officers to keep them safe.

James Smith is a managing partner at Silver Star Protection Group. His wife is Margaret Houlihan-Smith, the onetime managing director of corporate and government affairs for United. Houlihan-Smith now lobbies the city on behalf of United and AT&T, according to city records.

Lightfoot’s administration will look to Smith to coordinate her security rather than relying primarily on the Chicago Police Department. It was unclear Tuesday how Smith would be paid.

Lightfoot spokeswoman Anel Ruiz confirmed that Smith was working for Lightfoot in that security capacity. She did not respond to questions about whether it’s appropriate for the person running the mayor’s security detail to be married to a corporate lobbyist. Lightfoot campaigned on a pledge to end the influence of political insiders at City Hall.

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)

–Dana

HPD: Teen killed after group reportedly targets east Houston home with paintball guns

Filed under: Crime,Law — DRJ @ 6:51 am



[Headline from DRJ]

Houston ChronicleHPD: Teen killed after group reportedly targets east Houston home with paintball guns:

Police said a group of teens with paintball guns were outside the home in the 13300 block of Force about 11:30 p.m. to target the 17-year-old who lived there. At one point, 10 to 15 people were outside the home, police said.

When the family heard a disturbance outside, the father walked out and approached one of the teens, police said.

The father fired one round at him and multiple rounds at a nearby vehicle, which the teen was supposed to get into, according to police. The father told police that he believed the group was a threat and feared for his life.

— DRJ

VOA NEWS: Two More Former White House Officials Subpoenaed

Filed under: Politics — DRJ @ 2:00 am



[Headline from DRJ]

VOA News: Two More Former White House Officials Subpoenaed

WASHINGTON — The House Judiciary Committee has subpoenaed two more former top White House officials after ex-White House Counsel Donald McGahn ignored his subpoena to testify about President Donald Trump’s alleged obstruction of justice.

Democratic chairman Jerrold Nadler says the committee wants to hear from former communications director Hope Hicks and McGahn’s former chief of staff Annie Donaldson.

— DRJ

GAME OF THRONES

Filed under: General — DRJ @ 1:00 am



[Headline from DRJ]

This GOT post is about an inflammatory headline:

Emilia Clarke reveals she studied videos of Hitler for her eerie victory speech to her massed followers in the Game of Thrones series finale.

An excuse to see if GOT fans agree with this:

When asked what the legacy of Game of Thrones will be, now that the show has come to a close, Clarke said it was an exploration of power.

‘I think it is what it always has been, which is a discussion of power and what it does to a single human being, a group of human beings, and the people they are meant to be serving,’ Clarke said.

And an Open Thread for anyone who wants to talk about Game of Thrones.

— DRJ

Denver Post: … a Police Officer helped him get home

Filed under: General — DRJ @ 12:10 am



[Headline from DRJ]

Denver Post: A homeless man hadn’t seen his family in 20 years. Then a Denver police officer helped him get home.

He was living in an alley two blocks from Coors Field when Denver police officer Alicia Harris met him in late December. Robinson had found a vent that let off warm air and set up a tarp to keep the heat in. Harris was concerned about Robinson. It was the middle of winter, and a homeless man had been run over in that same alley not too long before.

— DRJ


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