By Robert A. Vella
President Trump’s longtime political operative and self-described “dirty trickster” Roger Stone was sentenced today to serve three years and four months in prison for seven counts of obstructing an official investigation, lying to investigators, and witness tampering, all relating to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into the Trump campaign’s collusion with Russia during the 2016 presidential election. Federal judge Amy Berman Jackson grilled the DOJ’s new replacement prosecutors (in place of the original four who resigned in protest against Attorney General William Barr’s interference on Trump’s behalf) regarding the reasons why the initial sentencing recommendation of 7-9 years was dramatically overridden in favor of Stone. The new prosecutors struggled to give credible answers, refused to identify the person(s) who wrote the second sentencing recommendation, but surprisingly reversed course and offered a third sentencing recommendation of six years. Obviously, the ongoing internal crisis at the Department of Justice over political interference by Trump and his henchman Barr was embarrassingly evident in the prosecution’s case. Presumably, Trump will pardon Stone and I’d expect such an announcement relatively soon.
In a related story, a former Republican congressman from California has admitted that he met with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange (who published the hacked Democratic National Committee’s emails during the 2016 presidential election) in 2017 and offered him a bribe. Dana Rohrabacher said that President Trump would pardon him if he publicly declared that Russia wasn’t the source of the hack. We shouldn’t be surprised by this. It’s the same corrupt and criminal behavior exhibited by Trump since the day he took office and consistently has for his entire adult life. From: Rohrabacher confirms he offered Trump pardon to Assange for proof Russia didn’t hack DNC email
WASHINGTON — Former California Republican congressman Dana Rohrabacher confirmed in a new interview that during a three-hour meeting at the Ecuadorian Embassy in August 2017, he told Julian Assange he would get President Trump to give him a pardon if he turned over information proving the Russians had not been the source of internal Democratic National Committee emails published by WikiLeaks.
In a phone interview with Yahoo News, Rohrabacher said his goal during the meeting was to find proof for a widely debunked conspiracy theory: that WikiLeaks’ real source for the DNC emails was not Russian intelligence agents, as U.S. officials have since concluded, but former DNC staffer Seth Rich, who was murdered on the streets of Washington in July 2016 in what police believe was a botched robbery.
A lawyer for Assange in London on Wednesday cited the pardon offer from Rohrabacher during a court hearing on the U.S. government’s request to extradite the WikiLeaks founder.
Since I boycotted watching last night’s presidential debate in Las Vegas because of the Democratic National Committee’s highly criticized decision to abruptly change its rules to allow multi-billionaire and former Republican mayor of New York City Michael Bloomberg to participate, I can’t comment on it. Instead, I’ve included the following links for readers who are interested in what happened. From all reports, it was a rancorous affair in which Trump’s name was barely even mentioned.
Here’s today’s other news:
Former national security adviser Susan Rice did not mince words in telling her former Trump administration counterpart John Bolton what she would have done about testifying as part of the impeachment process.
“I thought a lot about if I had been in that position how would I have approached it, and I’ll be honest: It’s inconceivable to me that if I had firsthand knowledge of gross abuse of presidential power that I would withhold my testimony from a constitutional accountability process,” said Rice, who served in the Obama administration, Wednesday while sitting next to Bolton at an event at Vanderbilt University in Nashville.
Bolton, whose upcoming book is poised to contain details about President Donald Trump and his pressure campaign in Ukraine, did not provide testimony to either the House or Senate as part of the President’s impeachment. At Wednesday’s event, Bolton noted that he had not been subpoenaed for such information.
More than 1,000 military veterans have signed on to a letter condemning President Trump over his “sustained attacks” on Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the Army official who provided damaging testimony during the House’s impeachment inquiry and was later recalled from the White House’s National Security Council (NSC).
The letter, which was organized by the anti-Trump group National Security Action, condemned the dismissal of Vindman and his twin brother, Lt. Col. Yevgeny Vindman, saying it suggests that Trump is prioritizing “a personal vendetta over our national security.”
HANAU, Germany (AP) — A 43-year-old German man shot and killed nine people at several locations in a Frankfurt suburb overnight in attacks that appear to have been motivated by far-right beliefs, officials said Thursday.
The gunman first attacked a hookah bar in central Hanau at about 10 p.m. Wednesday, killing several people before heading about 2.5 kilometers (1.5 miles) west and opening fire again, claiming more victims.
Witnesses and surveillance videos of the suspect’s getaway car led authorities quickly to his home, near the scene of the second attack, where he was found dead near his 72-year-old mother, said Peter Beuth, the interior minister for the state of Hesse.
A website believed to be the suspect’s is being evaluated, Beuth said.
“Initial analysis of the webpage of the suspect indicate a xenophobic motivation,” he said.
He said federal prosecutors have taken over the investigation of the crime and are treating it as an act of domestic terrorism.
A federal judge in Arizona has ruled that Border Patrol facilities in the Tucson sector deprive migrants of “basic human needs,” saying the conditions at the temporary detention facilities are “substantially worse” than those in jails or prisons and violate the Constitution.
Overcrowding was at times so severe, U.S. District Judge David C. Bury found, that migrants were forced to sleep on the floor in bathrooms and in toilet stalls.
The Wednesday ruling permanently enjoins U.S. Customs and Border Protection from detaining migrants in holding cells at its Tucson sector stations for longer than 48 hours — “unless CBP can provide conditions of confinement that meet detainees’ basic human needs.”
HOUSTON (AP) — A federal judge has ruled the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers isn’t liable to damage to thousands of Houston homes that were inundated by two federally owned reservoirs in the days following Hurricane Harvey because they would have flooded regardless.
U.S. Judge Loren A. Smith of the Court of Federal Claims on Tuesday dismissed the case against the government. Smith said property owners downstream of the Addicks and Barker dams, located about 20 miles (30 kilometers) west of downtown Houston, had no grounds to sue given the unprecedented nature of Harvey’s flooding in 2017.
A woman whose allegations of childhood sex abuse in New York were central to last year’s indictment of Jeffrey Epstein was questioned by the FBI and subpoenaed for testimony by federal prosecutors in Florida more than a decade ago in connection with the first federal investigation into Epstein’s alleged child sex trafficking, according to court documents and multiple sources familiar with the events.
But the woman, who was 19 at the time of her initial contact with federal agents in 2008, did not appear before a grand jury in West Palm Beach, as the subpoena commanded. Before her testimony could be secured, Epstein cemented a controversial and once-secret non-prosecution agreement with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Miami by pleading guilty to two state prostitution charges for which he was sentenced to 18 months in a county jail.
The woman’s account could have helped prosecutors strengthen an already expansive case against Epstein, by potentially unraveling an alleged network of child sexual abuse at his Manhattan residence that mirrored what had been uncovered at his home in Palm Beach. But with the deal done, the federal grand jury was suspended, the investigation halted, and the subpoena to the woman, ultimately, withdrawn.