Connect with us

Latest

Analysis

News

Mueller made the indictments, can he now prove them in court?

Mueller is having to face the music about having lied to the American public

Published

on

1,411 Views

As Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russian collusion investigation continued to turn up scanty or no evidence, he thought it might be a good idea to cook it up himself. In mid February, he released indictments against 13 Russian citizens and three Russian companies, charging them with ‘conspiracy to defraud the United States’ through ‘information warfare’, allegedly conducted through funding Russian ‘trolls’ to capitalize on polarizing political issues to promote Trump’s presidential candidacy while detracting that of Hillary’s, thus interfering in the 2016 US presidential elections. .

The Russian nationals included in the indictment, of course, come ‘suspected’ of ties to the Kremlin, and of being ‘Putin’s allies’, which, if the indictments are true, and their connection to Putin also being accurate, would serve up some evidence that Putin, or at least the Russian government, was actually behind a legitimate attempt to influence the outcome of the election, justifying America’s retaliatory sanctions and diplomatic response.

However, being physically located in Russia, Mueller was confident that this cooked up accusations would never face the light of day, however, on Monday, he was called to own his accusations and prove their accuracy – in court.

‘Putin’s chef’ as he is called in American media, Yevgeniy Prigozhin, who runs the indicted and sanctioned Russian companies Concord Management and Consulting, LLC and Concord Catering, has retained a pair of attorneys to represent his companies in court, presenting a not guilty plea and demanding a speedy trial, which would force Mueller to bring his ‘evidence’ to light in order to prove his accusations.

Mueller’s attorneys have so far brought up a hand-full of technicalities in order to postpone the trial, but to no avail, as U.S. Magistrate Judge G. Michael Harvey rejected them, allowing the case to move forward in a timely manner. Politico reports:

A Russian company tied to a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin entered a not-guilty plea Wednesday in a U.S. criminal case charging that it funded internet trolls and polarizing social media advertisements in a bid to boost Donald Trump’s chances of winning the 2016 presidential election.

Prosecutors from special counsel Robert Mueller’s office allege that the firm, Concord Management and Consulting LLC, was controlled by a Russian oligarch known as Putin’s chef, Yevgeniy Prigozhin. He is one of the 13 individuals charged in the case.

Neither Prigozhin nor any officer or owner of Concord Management showed up at the U.S. district court in Washington for the brief arraignment hearing. However, two U.S. attorneys, Eric Dubelier and Kate Seikaly of law firm Reed Smith, represented the company.

“We waive formal reading of the indictment and enter a plea of not guilty and exercise our right to a speedy trial,” Dubelier told U.S. Magistrate Judge G. Michael Harvey.

Prosecutors had raised concerns about whether the lawyers could appear for the firm without accepting a formal summons in the case, but Harvey said federal court rules permit a corporation to appear through a lawyer.

The U.S. court appearance by Concord Management seems to be a legal gambit to force Mueller to turn over reams of evidence in the case without being able to lay hands on the individual defendants including Prigozhin. Some lawyers believe prosecutors could drop the case against that firm and two other companies in order to avoid disclosing sensitive information about how the investigation unfolded.

Prosecutors last week asked that the arraignment be delayed by more than a month, but U.S. District Court Judge Dabney Friedrich rejected that request.

During the hearing Wednesday, prosecutor Jeannie Rhee said her office obtained information from the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control that Dubelier’s firm was representing both Concord Management and a related company known as Concord Catering, raising questions about whether he was appearing in court for both businesses.

Harvey suggested he found that interesting, but not particularly relevant to Wednesday’s arraignment.

“OK, what would you like me to do with that?” the magistrate asked Rhee.

Dubelier said he wasn’t authorized to appear in court for Concord Catering, a firm which he contended should never have been listed in the indictment returned in February.

“The government indicted a proverbial ham sandwich — somebody that didn’t exist … at the time period alleged by the government,” the defense attorney said.

Later in the hearing, Dubelier mustered some outrage at Rhee’s disclosure that prosecutors had seen the paperwork he filed with Treasury to obtain formal authorization to provide legal services to the companies, which are subject to U.S. sanctions as a result of the same election-related conduct alleged in the indictment.

“We now know [prosecutors accessed] a confidential filing of OFAC, which in and of itself is a disturbing fact,” he said.

Harvey formally advised Dubelier that the company could face a fine of up to $500,000 or up to twice the financial damage involved if convicted on the single felony count it faces: conspiracy to defraud the United States. The magistrate also said the company has the right to remain silent.

When the case was filed in February, many legal experts viewed it as a so-called “name-and-shame” indictment, filed to call public attention to the alleged crimes and to make international travel more difficult for the defendants, but with no real expectation that any defendant was likely to show up in court. The Russian firm’s appearance could be seen as an effort to call prosecutors’ bluff by forcing them to proceed to a trial they never expected to have to put on.

Harvey asked Wednesday whether any of the 13 individuals or the two other companies named as defendants were in the courtroom.

“They’re not here. I believe they’re not here,” the magistrate said.

“Alas, they are not here,” Rhee responded. “The government would be thrilled if they were here.”

Harvey set a May 16 hearing for lawyers on both sides to appear before Friedrich, a Trump appointee who is the newest jurist on the bench of the U.S. district court in Washington.

The indictment claims that a St. Petersburg-based firm long suspected of ties to the Kremlin, the Internet Research Agency, used social media, email and other means to manipulate “unwitting” American citizens and Trump campaign officials into protests, demonstrations and the recirculation of media messages. Most of the interventions were intended to benefit Trump or demean his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, prosecutors said, with many seeking to exacerbate racial or religious divisions.

Mueller, much like Boris Johnson, has produced allegations that he knows he can’t defend and that have no substantive basis in reality, is having to face the music about having lied to the public. Without the means to the postpone the trial, his ability to string out the investigation and his bogus allegations as part of a basis for it, are being called to the fore.

The outcome of a trial that may likely prove the Mueller investigation to be baseless not only impacts his own legitimacy, but also that of sanctions imposed against Russian nationals and companies over a political conspiracy theory, which, together with the lack of substance for other pretexts, casts doubt on the entirety of multiple rounds of sanctions imposed on Russia by the US government under the Trump administration.

Liked it? Take a second to support The Duran on Patreon!
Advertisement
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

avatar
  Subscribe  
Notify of

Latest

EXPLOSIVE: Michael Cohen sentencing memo exposes serial liar with nothing to offer Mueller (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 38.

Alex Christoforou

Published

on

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris take a quick look at the Michael Cohen sentencing memo which paints the picture of a man who was not as close to Trump as he made it out to be…a serial liar and cheat who leveraged his thin connections to the Trump organization for money and fame.

It was Cohen himself who proudly labelled himself as Trump’s “fixer”. The sentencing memo hints at the fact that even Mueller finds no value to Cohen in relation to the ongoing Trump-Russia witch hunt investigation.

Remember to Please Subscribe to The Duran’s YouTube Channel.

Follow The Duran Audio Podcast on Soundcloud.

Via Axios

Special counsel Robert Mueller and federal prosecutors in New York have each submitted sentencing memos for President Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen, after Cohen pleaded guilty in two different cases related to his work for Trump and the Trump Organization.

The big picture: The Southern District of New York recommended Cohen serve a range of 51 to 63 months for four crimes — “willful tax evasion, making false statements to a financial institution, illegal campaign contributions, and making false statements to Congress.” Mueller, meanwhile, did not take a position on the length of Cohen’s statement, but said he has made substantial efforts to assist the investigation.

Southern District of New York

Mueller investigation

Michael J. Stern, a federal prosecutor with the Justice Department for 25 years in Detroit and Los Angeles noted via USA Today

In support of their request that he serve no time in prison, Cohen’s attorneys offered a series of testimonials from friends who described the private Michael Cohen as a “truly caring” man with a “huge heart” who is not only “an upstanding, honorable, salt of the earth man” but also a “selfless caretaker.”

The choirboy portrayed by Cohen’s lawyers stands in sharp opposition to Cohen’s public persona as Trump’s legal bulldog, who once threatened a reporter with: “What I’m going to do to you is going to be f—ing disgusting. Do you understand me?”

Prosecutors focused their sentencing memo on Cohen as Mr. Hyde. Not only did they detail Cohen’s illegal activities, which include millions of dollars of fraud, they also recognized the public damage that stemmed from his political crimes — describing Cohen as “a man who knowingly sought to undermine core institutions of our democracy.”

Rebuffing efforts by Cohen’s attorneys to recast him as a good guy who made a few small mistakes, prosecutors cited texts, statements of witnesses, recordings, documents and other evidence that proved Cohen got ahead by employing a “pattern of deception that permeated his professional life.” The prosecutors attributed Cohen’s crimes to “personal greed,” an effort to “increase his power and influence,” and a desire to maintain his “opulent lifestyle.”

Perhaps the most damning reveal in the U.S. Attorney’s sentencing memo is that Cohen refused to fully cooperate. That’s despite his public relations campaign to convince us that he is a new man who will cooperate with any law enforcement authority, at any time, at any place.

As a former federal prosecutor who handled hundreds of plea deals like Cohen’s, I can say it is extremely rare for any credit to be recommended when a defendant decides not to sign a full cooperation deal. The only reason for a refusal would be to hide information. The prosecutors said as much in their sentencing memo: Cohen refused “to be debriefed on other uncharged criminal conduct, if any, in his past,” and “further declined” to discuss “other areas of investigative interest.”

 

Liked it? Take a second to support The Duran on Patreon!
Continue Reading

Latest

Canada to Pay Heavy Price for Trudeau’s Groupie Role in US Banditry Against China

Trudeau would had to have known about the impending plot to snatch Huawei CFO Wanzhou and moreover that he personally signed off on it.

Published

on

Authored by Finian Cunningham via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


You do have to wonder about the political savvy of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his government. The furious fallout from China over the arrest of a senior telecoms executive is going to do severe damage to Canadian national interests.

Trudeau’s fawning over American demands is already rebounding very badly for Canada’s economy and its international image.

The Canadian arrest – on behalf of Washington – of Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Chinese telecom giant Huawei, seems a blatant case of the Americans acting politically and vindictively. If the Americans are seen to be acting like bandits, then the Canadians are their flunkies.

Wanzhou was detained on December 1 by Canadian federal police as she was boarding a commercial airliner in Vancouver. She was reportedly handcuffed and led away in a humiliating manner which has shocked the Chinese government, media and public.

The business executive has since been released on a $7.4 million bail bond, pending further legal proceedings. She is effectively being kept under house arrest in Canada with electronic ankle tagging.

To add insult to injury, it is not even clear what Wanzhou is being prosecuted for. The US authorities have claimed that she is guilty of breaching American sanctions against Iran by conducting telecoms business with Tehran. It is presumed that the Canadians arrested Wanzhou at the request of the Americans. But so far a US extradition warrant has not been filed. That could take months. In the meantime, the Chinese businesswoman will be living under curfew, her freedom denied.

Canadian legal expert Christopher Black says there is no juridical case for Wanzhou’s detention. The issue of US sanctions on Iran is irrelevant and has no grounds in international law. It is simply the Americans applying their questionable national laws on a third party. Black contends that Canada has therefore no obligation whatsoever to impose those US laws regarding Iran in its territory, especially given that Ottawa and Beijing have their own separate bilateral diplomatic relations.

In any case, what the real issue is about is the Americans using legal mechanisms to intimidate and beat up commercial rivals. For months now, Washington has made it clear that it is targeting Chinese telecoms rivals as commercial competitors in a strategic sector. US claims about China using telecoms for “spying” and “infiltrating” American national security are bogus propaganda ruses to undermine these commercial rivals through foul means.

It also seems clear from US President Donald Trump’s unsubtle comments this week to Reuters, saying he would “personally intervene” in the Meng case “if it helped trade talks with China”, that the Huawei executive is being dangled like a bargaining chip. It was a tacit admission by Trump that the Americans really don’t have a legal case against her.

Canada’s foreign minister Chrystia Freeland bounced into damage limitation mode following Trump’s thuggish comments. She said that the case should not be “politicized” and that the legal proceedings should not be tampered with. How ironic is that?

The whole affair has been politicized from the very beginning. Meng’s arrest, or as Christopher Black calls it “hostage-taking”, is driven by Washington’s agenda of harassment against China for commercial reasons, under a legal pretext purportedly about Iranian sanctions.

When Trump revealed the cynical expediency of him “helping to free Wanzhou”, then the Canadians realized they were also being exposed for the flunkies that they are for American banditry. That’s why Freeland was obliged to quickly adopt the fastidious pretense of legal probity.

Canadian premier Justin Trudeau has claimed that he wasn’t aware of the American request for Wanzhou’s detention. Trudeau is being pseudo. For such a high-profile infringement against a senior Chinese business leader, Ottawa must have been fully briefed by the Americans. Christopher Black, the legal expert, believes that Trudeau would had to have known about the impending plot to snatch Wanzhou and moreover that he personally signed off on it.

What Trudeau and his government intended to get out of performing this sordid role for American thuggery is far from clear. Maybe after being verbally mauled by Trump as “weak and dishonest” at the G7 summit earlier this year, in June, Trudeau decided it was best to roll over and be a good little puppy for the Americans in their dirty deed against China.

But already it has since emerged that Canada is going to pay a very heavy price indeed for such dubious service to Washington. Beijing has warned that it will take retaliation against both Washington and Ottawa. And it is Ottawa that is more vulnerable to severe repercussions.

This week saw two Canadian citizens, one a former diplomat, detained in China on spying charges.

Canadian business analysts are also warning that Beijing can inflict harsh economic penalties on Ottawa. An incensed Chinese public have begun boycotting Canadian exports and sensitive Canadian investments in China are now at risk from being blocked by Beijing. A proposed free trade deal that was being negotiated between Ottawa and Beijing now looks dead in the water.

And if Trudeau’s government caves in to the excruciating economic pressure brought to bear by Beijing and then abides by China’s demand to immediately release Meng Wanzhou, Ottawa will look like a pathetic, gutless lackey to Washington. Canada’s reputation of being a liberal, independent state will be shredded. Even then the Chinese are unlikely to forget Trudeau’s treachery.

With comic irony, there’s a cringemaking personal dimension to this unseemly saga.

During the 197os when Trudeau’s mother Margaret was a thirty-something socialite heading for divorce from his father, then Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, she was often in the gossip media for indiscretions at nightclubs. Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards claims in his autobiography that Margaret Trudeau was a groupie for the band, having flings with Mick Jagger and Ronnie Wood. Her racy escapades and louche lifestyle brought shame to many Canadians.

Poor Margaret Trudeau later wound up divorced, disgraced, financially broke and scraping a living from scribbling tell-all books.

Justin, her eldest son, is finding out that being a groupie for Washington’s banditry is also bringing disrepute for him and his country.

Liked it? Take a second to support The Duran on Patreon!
Continue Reading

Latest

US Commits To “Indefinite” Occupation Of Syria; Controls Region The Size Of Croatia

Raqqa is beginning to look more and more like Baghdad circa 2005.

Published

on

Via Zerohedge


“We don’t want the Americans. It’s occupation” — a Syrian resident in US-controlled Raqqa told Stars and Stripes military newspaper. This as the Washington Post noted this week that “U.S. troops will now stay in Syria indefinitely, controlling a third of the country and facing peril on many fronts.”

Like the “forever war” in Afghanistan, will we be having the same discussion over the indefinite occupation of Syria stretching two decades from now? A new unusually frank assessment in Stars and Stripes bluntly lays out the basic facts concerning the White House decision to “stay the course” until the war’s close:

That decision puts U.S. troops in overall control, perhaps indefinitely, of an area comprising nearly a third of Syria, a vast expanse of mostly desert terrain roughly the size of Louisiana.

The Pentagon does not say how many troops are there. Officially, they number 503, but earlier this year an official let slip that the true number may be closer to 4,000

A prior New Yorker piece described the US-occupied area east of the Euphrates as “an area about the size of Croatia.” With no Congressional vote, no public debate, and not even so much as an official presidential address to the nation, the United States is settling in for another endless occupation of sovereign foreign soil while relying on the now very familiar post-911 AUMF fig leaf of “legality”.

Like the American public and even some Pentagon officials of late have been pointing out for years regarding Afghanistan, do US forces on the ground even know what the mission is? The mission may be undefined and remain ambiguously to “counter Iran”, yet the dangers and potential for major loss in blood and treasure loom larger than ever.

According to Stars and Stripes the dangerous cross-section of powder keg conflicts and geopolitical players means “a new war” is on the horizon:

The new mission raises new questions, about the role they will play and whether their presence will risk becoming a magnet for regional conflict and insurgency.

The area is surrounded by powers hostile both to the U.S. presence and the aspirations of the Kurds, who are governing the majority-Arab area in pursuit of a leftist ideology formulated by an imprisoned Turkish Kurdish leader. Signs that the Islamic State is starting to regroup and rumblings of discontent within the Arab community point to the threat of an insurgency.

Without the presence of U.S. troops, these dangers would almost certainly ignite a new war right away, said Ilham Ahmed, a senior official with the Self-Administration of North and East Syria, as the self-styled government of the area is called.

“They have to stay. If they leave and there isn’t a solution for Syria, it will be catastrophic,” she said.

But staying also heralds risk, and already the challenges are starting to mount.
So a US-backed local politician says the US can’t leave or there will be war, while American defense officials simultaneously recognize they are occupying the very center of an impending insurgency from hell — all of which fits the textbook definition of quagmire perfectly.

The New Yorker: “The United States has built a dozen or more bases from Manbij to Al-Hasakah, including four airfields, and American-backed forces now control all of Syria east of the Euphrates, an area about the size of Croatia.”

But in September the White House announced a realignment of its official priorities in Syria, namely to act “as a bulwark against Iran’s expanding influence.” This means the continued potential and likelihood of war with Syria, Iran, and Russia in the region is ever present, per Stripes:

Syrian government troops and Iranian proxy fighters are to the south and west. They have threatened to take the area back by force, in pursuit of President Bashar Assad’s pledge to bring all of Syria under government control.

Already signs of an Iraq-style insurgency targeting US forces in eastern Syria are beginning to emerge.

In Raqqa, the largest Syrian city at the heart of US occupation and reconstruction efforts, the Stripes report finds the following:

The anger on the streets is palpable. Some residents are openly hostile to foreign visitors, which is rare in other towns and cities freed from Islamic State control in Syria and Iraq. Even those who support the presence of the U.S. military and the SDF say they are resentful that the United States and its partners in the anti-ISIS coalition that bombed the city aren’t helping to rebuild.

And many appear not to support their new rulers.

We don’t want the Americans. It’s occupation,” said one man, a tailor, who didn’t want to give his name because he feared the consequences of speaking his mind. “I don’t know why they had to use such a huge number of weapons and destroy the city. Yes, ISIS was here, but we paid the price. They have a responsibility.”

Recent reports out of the Pentagon suggests defense officials simply want to throw more money into US efforts in Syria, which are further focused on training and supplying the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (or Kurdish/YPG-dominated SDF), which threatens confrontation with Turkey as its forces continue making preparations for a planned attack on Kurdish enclaves in Syria this week.

Meanwhile, Raqqa is beginning to look more and more like Baghdad circa 2005:

Everyone says the streets are not safe now. Recent months have seen an uptick in assassinations and kidnappings, mostly targeting members of the security forces or people who work with the local council. But some critics of the authorities have been gunned down, too, and at night there are abductions and robberies.

As America settles in for yet another endless and “indefinite” occupation of a Middle East country, perhaps all that remains is for the president to land on an aircraft carrier with “Mission Accomplished” banners flying overhead?

Liked it? Take a second to support The Duran on Patreon!
Continue Reading

JOIN OUR YOUTUBE CHANNEL

Your donations make all the difference. Together we can expose fake news lies and deliver truth.

Amount to donate in USD$:

5 100

Validating payment information...
Waiting for PayPal...
Validating payment information...
Waiting for PayPal...
Advertisement

Advertisement

Quick Donate

The Duran
EURO
DONATE
Donate a quick 10 spot!
Advertisement
Advertisement

Advertisement

The Duran Newsletter

Trending