Archive for the ‘Crime’ Category

Insurreição no Brasil

January 11, 2023

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, so The Donald must be thrilled that devotees of the “Trump of the Tropics” in Brazil mirrored the US January 6th insurrectionists, storming the Jetson-esque government buildings of Brasilia, falsely claiming the country’s presidential election had been stolen. The similarity with January 6th is no coincidence: MAGA Rasputin Steve Bannon and Trump cultist Jason Miller had advised Bolsenaro on election denialism.

After the Brazilian insurrectionists trashed the futuristic courts, legislature, presidential offices and mansion, 1500 were arrested, and await trial. At the time of the riots, rightwing ex-president Jair Bolsonaro was in that US home of retired fascists, Florida. He had traveled there before his successor was inaugurated, on a diplomatic visa. Now that he is no longer in office, that visa is no longer valid, and he is subject to expulsion and extradition.

More:

“The violent attack on Brazil’s government was months in the making. Here’s what you need to know,” Rob Picheta, CNN

 

“Brazil’s ‘Trump of the Tropics’ Stoked Riots—Then He Fled to Florida,” Emily Green and Roberta Fortuna, Vice

“Brazil: The code word used to invite protesters to a riot,” Hannah Gelbart, Juliana Gragnani and Ricardo Senra, BBC News

“America’s Trumpist export to Brazil: Election denialism,” Eugene Robinson, Washington Post

“Brazil’s failed coup is the poison flower of the Trump-Bolsonaro symbiosis,” Julian Borger, The Guardian

“Bannon on Brazil riots: ‘I’m not backing off 1 inch,’” Meridith McGraw, Politico

Update:

“Brazil’s Supreme Court to investigate Bolsonaro over January 8 attacks,” By Mia Alberti and Marcia Reverdosa, CNN

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Title via Google Ttanslate. Video: Channel 4 (UK)

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Bannon Behind Bars?

October 19, 2022

Bannon Behind Bars?

Update: Steve Bannon has been setenced to 4 months in prison. He will appeal.

The Department of Justice indicted Trump creature and fascist-fancier Steve Bannon for Contempt of Congress after he defied a subpoena compelling his testimony before the January 6th Select Committee. He was convicted back in July. The DOJ has recommended that he receive a six-month prison sentence and a $200,000 fine.

Mr. Bannon dodged the slammer after his previous indictment — for money laundering and conspiracy in defrauding donors to a charity — when he was pardoned by then-president Trump as he was exiting the White House. Unindicted co-conspirator Trump himself was recently subpoenaed by that same Congressional Committee.

More:

“Steve Bannon: justice department urges six-month prison term in contempt case,” Sam Levine, The Guardian

“DOJ seeks 6-month prison sentence for Steve Bannon,” Erin Doherty, Axios

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Image (“Bannon Behind Bars”) by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

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DeSantis Refugee Trafficking: Contracting Fraud?

October 4, 2022

DeSantis Refugee Trafficking: Contracting Fraud?
As you may recall, Florida MAGA/GOP governor Ron DeSantis used newly-arrived Venezuelan refugees (including women and children) in a political stunt, flying them to the rural island of Martha’s Vineyard. He couldn’t find enough unauthorized migrants in Florida, so he flew 48 of them from Texas in two state-funded charter jets at a cost of $1200 per passenger. DeSantis paid for the migrant flights with CARES Act federal COVID stimulus money (actually with the interest accrued from the $8 billion in federal COVID-relief funding he banked instead of using it to help Floridians, so there’s that).

Besides possible federal COVID fund fraud charges and fraud suits by the refugees themselves, the airlift excerise raises other legal red flags:

  • The flights and two future missons (cost: over $1.5 millon) were paid out of $12 million budgeted with the Florida Department of Transportation for “a program to facilitate the transport of unauthorized aliens from this state consistent with federal law.” But the migrants were in Texas, not Florida. There’s a lawsuit about that.

More:

“Doubts rise over whether DeSantis had budget authority to fly migrants,” Gary Fineout, Politico

“DeSantis violated law with Martha’s Vineyard flights, Florida Democrats say,” Anna Ceballos, Tampa Bay Times

“Florida migrant-moving company gave GOP cash, has ties to DeSantis’ immigration ‘czar’ and Rep. Matt Gaetz,” Marc Caputo, NBC News

“DeSantis Chartered Planes From GOP-Allied Donor To Fly Migrants to Martha’s Vineyard,” Ken Klippenstein, The Intercept

Funding for furture flights might dry up faster than post-Ian Florida, as the governor is likely to use the pot of federal CARES Act money to augment other hurricane relief funds. That shouldn’t let him off the hook for his Vineyard stunt.

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Image by Mike Licht. Get a copy here. Credit; Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

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Trump Fraud Lawsuit: Red Meat?

September 23, 2022

Trump Fraud Lawsuit: Red Meat?

After a three-year civil investigation into the Trump Organization’s business practices, New York State Attorney General Letitia James has sued Donald Trump, his adult children Donald Jr., Eric, and Ivanka, and Trump Organization employees for falsely inflating the value of assets for many years to receive tax breaks and favorable loan and insurance rates. The suit aims to recover $250 million. Said AG James: “Claiming you have money that you do not have does not amount to the art of the deal. It’s the art of the steal.”

Attorney General James seeks to bar Trump and his organization from buying commercial real estate or receiving bank loans for five years, and to permanently bar Trump, Donald Jr., Ivanka, and Eric Trump from serving as executives in any New York companies. Naturally, Trump’s attorney called the filing politically motivated.

This is a civil suit, but the charges, if true, would point to federal and local criminal charges, and AG James has referred these matters to the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York and the Manhattan District Attorney.

More:

“Donald Trump, 3 of his children accused of business fraud by New York AG,” Shayna Jacobs and Jonathan O’Connell, Washington Post

“New York attorney general lawsuit accuses Trump of ‘staggering’ fraud,” Hugo Lowell, Maya Yang and Martin Pengelly The Guardian

“‘Art of the steal’: Trump accused of vast fraud in NY suit
By Michael R. Sisak and Larry Neumeister, Associated Press

“New York attorney general sues Trump, accuses him of “astounding” fraud and deception,” Andrew Prokop, Vox

Updates:

“It’s Just Fraud All the Way Down,” David A. Graham. The Atlantic

“As Trump’s Legal Woes Mount, So Do Financial Pressures on Him,” Maggie Haberman, Ben Protess, Matthew Goldstein and Eric Lipton, New York Times

“Are Mar-a-Lago and other Trump-owned properties over-valued?” Sam Cabral, BBC News

“How Screwed Are Donald Trump and His Adult Children, and Other Questions You Might Have About the ‘Staggering’ Fraud Lawsuit Against Them,” Bess Levin, Vanity Fair

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Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

Comments are welcome if they are on-topic, substantive, concise, and not boring or obscene. Comments may be edited for clarity and length.

 

Right-Wing Apparel Maker’s Fake ‘Made In USA’ Claims

August 15, 2022

Right Wing Apparel Maker's Fake 'Made In USA' Claims

The Utah-based Lions Not Sheep clothing company sells T-shirts and baseball caps with provocative slogans printed on them, sure to appeal to the gun-toting, camo-wearing, flag-waving, Trump-loving, by-God self-proclaimed MAGA patriots on your gift list. The Federal Trade Commission just fined the firm for ripping the “Made In China” labels from their imported duds and putting “Made In USA” tags on them. The fraudsters came to FTC attention after bragging about the label-switch on social media.

The Made in USA Labeling Rule, effective as of August 2021, prohibits claims that a product was made in the United States unless final assembly or processing of the product occurs in the U.S., all significant processing that goes into the product occurs domestically, and all or virtually all ingredients or components of the product are made and sourced in the U.S.

More:

“Pro-Trump brand is fined by FTC for incorrect ‘Made in the USA’ labels,” María Luisa Paúl, Washington Post

Pro-Trump apparel company fined for falsely labeling products “Made in USA,” Julia Shapero, Axios

“Utah-based Lions Not Sheep apparel company fined for swapping ‘Made in China’ tags for ‘Made in USA.’” Kyle Dunphey, Deseret News

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Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

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FBI Seeks Trump’s Stolen Documents at Mar-a-Lago

August 10, 2022

FBI Seeks Trump's Stolen Documents at Mar-a-Lago

Early this past Monday, FBI agents toured Donald Trump’s beautiful Mar-a-Lago residence in Palm Beach, executing a search warrant for classified documents he stole while vacating the White House after his failed 2021 coup attempt. At the time of the FBI raid, Mr. Trump was in New Jersey, recuperating after playing golf on his ex-wife’s grave with Saudi officials. FBI Director Christopher A. Wray is a Trump appointee, and the judge who approved the search warrant, Bruce Reinhart, was appointed in 2018, during the Trump administration. Before that, the judge was an attorney, and represented several employees of Donald Trump’s friend Jeffrey Epstein.

The former president fled Washington with 15 cartons of purloined pages, and some are still missing. Withholding or destroying the documents is a violation of the Presidential Records Act and provisions of the Federal Records Act, felonies punishable by up to three years in prison. Conviction might make him ineligible to hold public office in the future.

The FBI agents brought a safecracker to Mar-a-Lago to help search for the remaining stolen documents, which reportedly include a “love letter” from Kim Jong Un. Maybe the feds brought a forensic plumber, given Donald Trump’s habit of flushing documents down the toilet.

More:

“Trump says FBI searched estate in major escalation of probe,” Eric Tucker and Michael Balsamo, Associated Press

“FBI searches Trump’s Florida home as part of presidential records probe,” Brian Ellsworth and Sarah N. Lynch, Reuters

“Here’s what we know about the FBI search of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago,” Brett Samuels, Rebecca Beitsch, and Emily Brooks, The Hill

“The consequences Trump could face for mishandling White House records,” Melissa Quinn, CBS News

Presidential Records (44 U.S.C. Chapter 22)

“Lara Trump incorrectly claims that Donald Trump had ‘every authority’ to take documents from White House,”
Stephen Proctor, Yahoo Entertainment

“Fox News Is Having a Nuclear Meltdown Over the Feds Raiding Mar-a-Lago,” Ryan Bort, Rolling Stone

“Republicans dust off familiar playbook to weaponise Mar-a-Lago FBI search,” David Smith, The Guardian

“Pelosi responds to GOP criticism of search at Trump’s estate: ‘No person is above the law,’” Anna Kaplan, NBC Today

“Feds Seizing Documents at Mar-a-Lago Unable to Find Trump’s Health-Care Plan,” Andy Borowitz, The New Yorker

Updates:

“Mar-a-Lago search appears focused on whether Trump, aides withheld items,” Devlin Barrett, Josh Dawsey, Rosalind S. Helderman, Jacqueline Alemany and Spencer S. Hsu, Washington Post

“‘Defund the FBI!’ Trump allies are not happy with Mar-a-Lago raid.” Peter Weber, The Week

“The FBI’s Search of Mar-a-Lago Is a Reminder That Trump Has Always Been a National Security Threat,” David Rothkopf, Daily Beast

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Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

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Texas Cops Deny Fetus ‘Personhood’

July 19, 2022

Texas Cops Deny Fetus 'Personhood'

Brandy Bottone, 34 weeks pregnant, was driving down Central Expressway in Dallas when she was stopped by a sheriff’s deputy at an HOV checkpoint to check whether there were at least two occupants per vehicle as mandated. “There are two of us,” said Ms. Bottone, pointing at her swollen midsection. Despite Texas’ hearty embrace of the US Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision, which overturned Roe v. Wade, she got a $215 ticket.

More:

“Pregnant woman says her fetus should count as a passenger in HOV lanes. She got a ticket,” Dave Lieber, Dallas Morning News

“Pregnant woman given HOV ticket argues fetus is passenger, post-Roe,” Timothy Bella, Washington Post

 

Note: We do not consider 2 people in a vehicle “high occupancy,” and refer to HOV 2+ as “Buddy Lanes.”

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19 Children Shot to Death in Texas

May 25, 2022

19 Children Shot to Death in Texas

At least 19 children and 2 teachers were shot to death at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, on Tuesday. The victims were in a single 4th grade classroom. The teenaged perpetrator wore body armor but was shot dead by police. The shooter was legally able to buy his assault-style rifle this month, the day after his 18th birthday.

There have been 213 mass shootings in the United States so far this year, 27 school shootings. And it’s only May.

In other Texas news, the National Rifle Association will hold its annual meeting in Houston on Friday. Scheduled speakers include Texas Governor Greg Abbott (R), Texas Senator Ted Cruz (R), South Dakota Governor Kristi L. Noem (R), Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R, TX-2), and former president Donald J. Trump. At this time, no grieving parents from Uvalde are on the agenda.

More:

“21 killed at Uvalde elementary in Texas’ deadliest school shooting ever,” Sneha Dey, Texas Tribune

“Firearms are now the leading cause of death for U.S. children,” Peter Weber, The Week

“‘No Way To Prevent This,’ Says Only Nation Where This Regularly Happens,” The Onion

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Racist Mass Murder in Buffalo

May 17, 2022

Racist Mass Murder in Buffalo

A teenaged white supremicist has murdered 10 people in a supermarket in Buffalo, NY. He was able to legally purchase an assault-style firearm despite earlier threats to commit such acts. There have been 202 mass shootings in the United States so far this year. And it’s only May.

More:

“The victims: What we know about those killed, injured in Tops shooting,” Buffalo News

“The Buffalo Shooter Isn’t a ‘Lone Wolf.’ He’s a Mainstream Republican,” Talia Lavin, Rolling Stone

“Scrutiny of Republicans who embrace ‘great replacement theory’ after Buffalo massacre,” Richard Luscombe, The Guardian

“White Power, White Violence,” Kathleen Belew, The Atlantic

“Conservative media is familiar with Buffalo suspect’s alleged ‘theory,’” Paul Farhi, Washington Post

“‘No Way To Prevent This,’ Says Only Nation Where This Regularly Happens,” The Onion

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Federal Grand Jury Looks at Trump Document Tampering

May 13, 2022

Federal Grand Jury Looks at Trump Document Tampering

In January 2021, when he left the White House, Donald J. Trump sent 15 boxes of presidential documents to Mar-a-Lago instead of the National Archives, as required by law. Many of the docs were marked “Classified” and “Top Secret.” The Archives asked the Department of Justice to investigate the violation. On Thursday, the New York Times reported that a federal grand jury was convened to look into the matter:

“Federal prosecutors have begun a grand jury investigation into whether classified White House documents that ended up at former President Donald J. Trump’s Florida home were mishandled, according to two people briefed on the matter. The intensifying inquiry suggests that the Justice Department is examining the role of Mr. Trump and other officials in his White House in their handling of sensitive materials during the final stages of his administration.”

— “Prosecutors Pursue Inquiry Into Trump’s Handling of Classified Material,” Maggie Haberman and Michael S. Schmidt, New York Times

Another grand jury in Atlanta is investigating Mr. Trump’s efforts to interfere in the 2020 presidential election there.

More:

“Grand jury used in probe of classified documents taken to Mar-a-Lago,” Matt Zapotosky, Jacqueline Alemany, and Josh Dawsey, Washington Post

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