Sorry, I had to spend a few weeks writing my economics newsletter feature article on tax reform, so this free blog had to wait a while for new material --
a lot of new material follows,
and I think it was worth the wait:
Sunday, November 12, 2017
Posted by The Cliff Claven of Finance at 10:37 AM
Michael Flynn, fired after only 24 days on the job, was one of the first Trump associates to come under scrutiny in the federal probe into possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign
Flynn was paid $530,000 last year for work the Justice Department says benefited the government of Turkey.
Flynn did not register as a foreign lobbyist at the time -- a very common violation rarely prosecuted -- but did so retroactively this year.
His lawyer later claimed Flynn didn't need to register because his client was a Turkish businessman, not a Turkish government official, but opted to do so retroactively.
I'll add to this article as more information becomes available
Posted by The Cliff Claven of Finance at 10:34 AM
Former Trump campaign executive Paul Manafort and his longtime deputy, Rick Gates, have been indicted on 12 counts including tax fraud, money laundering, failing to register as a lobbyist for a foreign country, and conspiring against the US
The FBI's investigation of Donald Trump's former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, includes a series of suspicious wire transfers in which offshore companies linked to Manafort moved more than $3 million all over the globe between 2012 and 2013.
Much of the money eventually came into the United States.
These transactions drew the attention of federal law enforcement officials in 2012, when they began to examine if Manafort hid money from tax authorities or helped the Ukrainian regime close to Russian President Vladimir Putin launder some of the millions it plundered through corrupt dealings.
Manafort took charge of Trump’s campaign in May 2016, but was forced to resign just three months later, after media scrutiny of his ties to the corrupt former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, who was supported by the Kremlin.
BuzzFeed News reported investigators had been scrutinizing at least 13 wire transfers between 2012 and 2013.
The transfers were first flagged by American financial institutions.
Bank officers flagged unusual behavior among five offshore companies that authorities say are associated with Manafort: Global Endeavour Inc., Lucicle Consultants Ltd., and three others.
The countries where these transactions originated — notably Cyprus and the Caribbean nation of St. Vincent and the Grenadines — are notorious for money laundering.
Federal law enforcement officials saw evidence of “layering,” the process by which the origin of money is obscured behind many layers of companies.
Much of the money ended up in the US -- Manifort spent it on American home improvements, a hedge fund, and even a car dealership.
Two law enforcement officials found red flags in his banking records going back as far as 2004, and that the transactions in question totaled many millions of dollars.
At least four of the transfers originated with Manafort’s company Global Endeavour, a political consulting firm based in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
Global Endeavour was hired by Yanukovych to consult and lobby on his behalf.
Ousted after the 2014 Euromaidan Revolution, Yanukovych lives in exile in Russia and is accused of treason by Ukrainian authorities; the country’s general prosecutor said Yanukovych’s embezzlement of state funds was so egregious it resembled a “mafia structure.”
During the waning months of Yanukovych’s presidency, Global Endeavour sent more than $750,000 out of Ukraine.
In September 2013, Global Endeavour transferred $500,000 that ended up back in Manafort’s control after going to a hedge fund in Florida, Aegis Holdings LLC, that is controlled by Marc Baldinger, a broker who in 2014 was suspended for 18 months for engaging in deals his financial institution didn’t know about.
All of this seems too complicated to be legal business transactions.
I strongly suspect illegal tax evasion ... although another possibility is very clever tax avoidence.
As usual, innocent until proven guilty.
Posted by The Cliff Claven of Finance at 10:32 AM
The Uranium One scandal is about President Obama approving a deal that handed a Russian-controlled corporation 20% of America's uranium reserves.
That deal was done in spite of the fact that the US has to import unranium.
That deal was done despite an FBI investigation into ongoing illegal bribery, extortion and money laundering schemes, concerning the US uranium industry, that started at least 18 months before the deal was approved.
Assurances that US uranium would not be exported to foreign countries was a key sticking point when Congress reviewed the deal back in 2010.
“No uranium produced at either facility may be exported,” the NRC declared in a November 2010 press release.
That press release announced that ARMZ, a subsidiary of the Russian-owned Rosatom, had been approved to take majority ownership of the Uranium One mining firm and its American assets.
New memos obtained by The Hill now confirm that Uranium One yellowcake uranium did escape U.S. shores repeatedly between 2012 - 2014.
Obama had signed a waiver allowing a Kentucky trucking company to carry uranium across the Canadian border and then approved export from Canada to Europe.
Rather than give Rosatom a direct export license, the the NRC in 2012 authorized an amendment to an existing export license for a Paducah, Ky.,-based trucking firm called RSB Logistics Services Inc.
The amendment simply added Uranium One to the list of clients whose uranium the trucking form could move to Canada.
The license, dated March 16, 2012, increased the amount of uranium ore concentrate that RSB Logistics could ship to the Cameco Corp. plant in Ontario from 7,500,000 kilograms to 12,000,000 kilograms and added Uranium One to the “other parties to Export.”
The move escaped notice in Congress.
US uranium did move overseas as a part of the Uranium One deal.
Where it ended up, no one seems to know.
The FBI withheld information from Congress and the American people about Russian corruption involving American uranium companies.
A confidential US witness, working in the Russian nuclear industry, revealed that Russia had deeply compromised an American uranium trucking firm through bribery and financial kickbacks.
The Department of Justice continued investigating this “matter” for over four years.
The FBI, led by Robert Mueller, required the confidential witness to sign a non-disclosure agreement.
When the witness attempted to contact Congress and federal courts about the bribery and corruption he saw, he was threatened with legal action.
By silencing him, Obama’s Justice Department and Mueller’s FBI kept Congress in the dark about Russia’s significant and illegal involvement with American uranium companies.
These troubling events took place when Mr. Mueller was the Director of the FBI.
"Confidential Source 1" says he was silenced by the FBI and Obama administration when he attempted to come forward with information that linked the Clinton Foundation directly to the Uranium One scandal.
Confidential Source 1's lawyer claim's his client had documented specific allegations that Russian executives made to him about how they facilitated the Obama administration's 2010 approval of the Uranium One deal ... and sent millions of dollars in Russian nuclear funds to the U.S. to an entity assisting Bill Clinton's foundation.
At the time, Hillary Clinton was serving as Secretary of State, and was one member on the government panel that failed to object to the Uranium One deal.
Bill Clinton accepted $500,000 in Russian speaking fees in 2010 and collected millions more in donations for his foundation from parties with a stake in the Uranium One deal.
Confidential Source 1" has recently been cleared by the DOJ to meet with Congress to tell his tale.
New memos obtained by The Hill confirmed that Uranium One yellowcake was exported from U.S. shores repeatedly between 2012 - 2014.
NRC memos reviewed by The Hill shows that it did approve the shipment of yellowcake uranium — the raw material used to make nuclear fuel and weapons — from the Russian-owned mines in the United States to Canada in 2012 through a third party.
Later the Obama administration approved some of that uranium going all the way to Europe, government documents show.
NRC officials said the shipments only lasted from 2012 to 2014 and that they are unaware of any exports since then.
NRC officials told The Hill that Uranium One exports flowed from Wyoming to Canada and on to Europe between 2012 through 2014, and the approval involved a process with multiple agencies.
From 2001–2013, Robert Mueller served as Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation;
As early as 2009, the FBI discovered that Russian officials were engaging in bribery and extortion, tainting the American uranium industry in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act to strengthen their own nuclear program.
Investigations into Russia’s corruption of American uranium-related businesses were supervised by then-United States Attorney Rod Rosenstein, currently serving as Deputy Attorney General, and then-Assistant FBI Director Andrew McCabe, currently serving as Deputy Director of the FBI;
Members of Congress have raised objections to, and concerns with, the sale of American uranium assets to Russian companies, and raised these concerns in official correspondence to then-President Obama as early as 2010.
In 2010, when the Russian Federation needed American approval of uranium sales, former President Bill Clinton received hundreds of thousands of dollars in speaking fees from Kremlin-linked institutions.
Clinton also requested approval from the State Department to meet with central figures in Russia’s nuclear industry, and eventually met with Russian leader Vladimir V. Putin at Mr. Putin’s private residence.
The FBI was investigating the Uranium One deal back in 2015 – months after the Peter Schweizer book Clinton Cash exposed the scheme, along with an article in the New York Times which laid out allegations of criminal malfeasance by the Clintons, their charitable foundation, and several associates.
Twitter user Katica@GOPPollAnalys previously discovered Hillary Clinton’s IT guy ‘Stonetear’ asking Reddit users how to strip Clinton’s name from archived emails).
Katica later discovered several Preservation and Records requests sent by an FBI special agent to various agencies involved in the approval of the Uranium One deal on August 28th, 2015, as first published by The Conservative Treehouse.
Katica found the requests buried in an FBI file released via the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
The Clinton email investigation was launched in March of 2015 after it was revealed that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton used a personal server and non-approved email accounts to conduct government business.
Reports from August, 2015 revealed that the FBI investigation was actually a criminal probe – though most people assumed it was simply covering Clinton’s mishandling of classified information and not the content of her emails.
Katica discovered that weeks after the criminal probe began, the FBI sent notices to every agency involved in the Uranium One approval process to preserve records.
The agencies which received the request included the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the U.S. Dept. of Treasury, the Office of Director of National Intelligence (James Clapper), The National Counter Terrorism Center, and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).
Five days after the initial request, the same FBI agent sent another round of notifications to the same agencies, adding the National Security Agency (NSA) and the U.S. Secret Service (USSS).
The next day, September 3rd, 2015, three more agencies were added to the preservation request: The CIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) and the Department of Defense (DOD).
At this point, every single member of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) which signed off on the Uranium One deal, had been served with a notice to preserve records.
Tony Podesta and Uranium One
In late 2013 or early 2014, Tony Podesta and a representative for the Clinton Foundation met to discuss how to help Uranium One – the Russian owned company that controls 20% of American Uranium Production – and whose board members gave over $100 million to the Clinton Foundation.
In 2013, John Podesta recommended that Tony hire David Adams, Hillary Clinton’s chief adviser at the State Department, giving them a “direct liaison” between the group’s Russian clients and Hillary Clinton’s State Department.
Tony Podesta was basically part of the Clinton Foundation.
The FBI set their sights on the Uranium One scandal weeks after they began looking into Hillary Clinton’s emails.
Hillary Clinton is back in the crosshairs of Congressional investigators after two House committees launched investigations into the circumstances surrounding the Obama-era Uranium One deal more than a year after suspicions of a quid-pro-quo were first raised by Peter Schweizer in his infamous “Clinton Cash” expose.
The Hill breathed new life into those allegations last week when it reported on an FBI investigation into attempts by Russian nuclear industry officials at the US-based subsidiary of Rosatom (the Russian nuclear agency) to bribe and extort their way into control of Canada-based Uranium One - and by extension, the 20% of US uranium assets it controls.
If Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein felt comfortable appointing a prosecutor to dig into collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign, with no evidence, he should be comfortable appointing a prosecutor to investigate these serious Uranium One allegations from the Obama era.
Posted by The Cliff Claven of Finance at 10:29 AM
Former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos pleaded guilty on October 5, 2017 to making false statements to the FBI.
Prosecutors charged Papadopolous with lying to investigators when describing interactions with a certain foreign contact, identified as a professor, who discussed "dirt" related to emails from candidate Hillary Clinton.
He had repeated communications with that contact allegedly while serving as an adviser on Trump campaign.
Papadopoulos told the FBI that those conversations happened BEFORE he joined the campaign.
Please note that George never made any contact with any Russian state officials.
George didn't have any meetings with clandestine Putin operatives.
George came up with no anti-Hillary dirt after months of trying, and sending loads of unanswered emails up the chain of command at Trump Tower.
Finding no contacts, no meetings, no"collusion" or anything else, smarmy prosecutor Mueller claimed Papadopoulos perjured himself.
George told the FBI early this year that he had met a London professor before beginning his service as a Trump advisor.
AND THAT STATEMENT WAS TRUE.
George Papadopoulos pled guilty to "lying" about an immaterial date to the FBI.
George met the "London Professor" on March 14, about a week BEFORE the Trump campaign's official announcement of its "Team of Five".
Papadopoulos was claimed to be guilty of perjury ONLY because at the time of the meeting with the professor, he had been recruited, and already "knew", he was going to join a Trump advisory committee in the near future.
On March 21, 2016 Trump announced a group of five advisors that no one had ever heard of.
Trump apparently met with the five advisor "committee" only once for a photo opportunity.
One of the five advisors was Carter Page who had actually spent time in Moscow years earlier working as a stock broker.
Page had worked for Merrill Lynch in Moscow, and had accused the State Department's top official for Ukraine and Russia, Victoria Nuland, of "fomenting" the 2014 revolution that overthrew Ukraine's government.
Mr. Papadopoulos was not qualified to be among the top five foreign policy advisors to the then near-presumptive GOP nominee.
Papadopoulos is a 2009 college graduate and an international energy lawyer who previously advised Ben Carson's presidential campaign.
The Washington Post reported George sent at least half a dozen email requests, between March and September 2016, urging Trump or senior members of his campaign to meet with Russian officials.
Some of those emails were read to the newspaper by a person with access to them.
Papadopoulos offered to arrange “a meeting between us and the Russian leadership to discuss US-Russia ties under President Trump,” as quoted by the Post.
Trump officials, including Paul Manafort, who served as Trump’s campaign chairman, expressed concern over the proposed meetings.
Manafort told one of his colleagues: “We need someone to communicate that Donald Trump is not doing these trips.”
The government says it will offer leniency to Papadopoulos, in exchange for his cooperation, and that sentencing will be delayed before cooperation is completed.
George was a 30-year-old campaign aide who claims to have heard about Russia possessing Hillary Clinton’s emails before they became public on the Internet, mostly via WikiLeaks.
His credibility has been undermined by his guilty plea for lying to the FBI, and by the fact that he now has a motive to provide something the prosecutors might want in exchange for leniency.
According to the court documents, Papadopoulos got to know a professor of international relations who claimed to have “substantial connections with Russian government officials.”
The professor was identified in press reports as Joseph Mifsud, a little-known academic associated with the University of Stirling in Scotland.
Mifsud told The Washington Post in an email last August that he had “absolutely no contact with the Russian government” and described his ties to Russia as strictly in academic fields.
Mifsud acknowledged meeting with Papadopoulos but denied knowing anything about emails containing “dirt” on Clinton and called the claim that he introduced Papadopoulos to a “female Russian national” as a “laughingstock.”
Mifsud said he tried to put Papadopoulos in touch with experts on the European Union and introduced him to the director of a Russian think tank, the Russian International Affairs Council.
Mifsud’s insistence that he knew nothing about the emails would normally raise serious questions about Papadopoulos’s credibility on his most crucial point.
Posted by The Cliff Claven of Finance at 10:19 AM
Federal Election Commission law says an individual citizen can contribute $2,700 directly to a presidential campaign.
The limits are much higher for contributions to state parties. and a party’s national committee.
Individuals could write a check for $353,400 to the Hillary Victory Fund -- representing $10,000 to each of the thirty-two states’ parties who were part of the Victory Fund agreement = $320,000 ... and $33,400 to the DNC.
The money would be deposited in the 32 states first, and then transferred to the DNC.
Money in battleground states usually stayed in that state, but all the other states funneled "their" money directly to the DNC, which transferred the money to Hillary Clinton's campaign in Brooklyn.
That Hillary Victory Fund was supposed to be for the nominee, and the state party races, but Hillary was controlling the money before she got the nomination, according to Donna Brazille.
The states kept less than 0.5% of the $82 million they got from the fund-raisers Hillary’s campaign was holding.
A 2016 Politico story described this arrangement as "money laundering" for the Clinton campaign.
The document that described the deal was the Joint Fund-Raising Agreement between the DNC, the Hillary Victory Fund, and Hillary for America.
The agreement was signed by Amy Dacey, the former CEO of the DNC, and Robby Mook, with a copy to Marc Elias.
The agreement specified that in exchange for raising money, and investing in the DNC, Hillary would control the party’s finances, strategy, and all the money raised.
The Clinton campaign had the right of refusal of who would be the party communications director, and it would make final decisions on all the other staff.
The DNC also was required to consult with the Clinton campaign about all other staffing, budgeting, data, analytics, and mailings.
When you have an open contest without an incumbent and competitive primaries, the party is supposed to come under the candidate’s control only AFTER the nominee is certain.
The Clinton - DNC funding arrangement may be illegal, violating campaign fundraising laws.
It sure looks unethical.
Posted by The Cliff Claven of Finance at 10:11 AM
The (anti) "Trump Dossier" is about a US political party (Democrats) buying information from a hostile power (Russia) for lurid stories to slam a domestic opponent.
This is a new tactic in US politics -- paying people in a hostile foreign power for lurid (false) stories about a domestic opponent.
The Trump dossier was manufactured by Democrats.
Democrats paid a Washington D.C. law firm, to pay a D.C. “research” firm, to pay a retired British spy, to pay unknown, unidentified Russians to tell tall tales about Mr. Trump.
It did not seem to matter to Democrats whether the stories were true.
Journalists are presumed to know their sources -- they didn't here.
Democrats paid a long chain of surrogates for sensational claims ... from anonymous agents in Russia ... a country whose spies have a worldwide reputation for clever disinformation.
Leftist-biased media coverage on "Russian Collusion" claims were that various members of the Trump campaign colluded with Russian operatives after being told they had damaging information on Hillary Clinton ... but never got anything, because no such information existed, and never paid anyone a penny.
We already know Hillary's campaign and the DNC paid for the Trump Dossier.
We know that most of the sources listed in the dossier were based in Russia and include a "senior Kremlin official" as well as other "close associates of Vladimir Putin."
Fusion GPS, hired by Hillary and the DNC, may have even paid American journalists to spread the Russian collusion story, which this blog said a year ago was a myth.
Who actually paid for the dossier, which was written in a series of 18 memos by former British spy Christopher Steele?
He relied almost exclusively on unidentified Kremlin sources.
A Special Prosecutor was required to investigate the Trump campaign on nothing more than a series of Russian collusion rumors and a year later we have no evidence of a crime -- not that "collusion" is a crime, unless money or other bribes were involved.
Why no Special Prosecutor to investigate the Hillary campaign collusion with Russians through the fake Trump Dossier?
Posted by The Cliff Claven of Finance at 10:07 AM