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12 counts: Will Manafort also turn in Democrat super-lobbyist Tony Podesta?

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As CNN reported, based on a leak from Robert Mueller’s special counsel office, there was an indictment in the Russia probe unsealed today. And to nobody’s surprise, Paul Manafort and Rick Gates, one a former Trump campaign manager, the other a political and business associate of Trump’s, were ordered to surrender to federal authorities.

What’s next?

Certainly, investigators will interview and take depositions from both men. They will present the men (and their lawyers) with the indictment and the charges against them. A federal prosecutor will set the time for an arraignment with a judge, and the case will proceed with pleas and opening motions. The wheels of justice churn like a grist mill.

The charges

The 12 counts include two conspiracy charges, money laundering, acting as an unregistered agent of a foreign principal, false and misleading FARA statements, false statements and seven counts of failure to file reports of foreign banks and financial accounts. These are all financial crimes for the most part, and they have little bearing on the Trump campaign’s Russia ties.

Paul Manafort, Rick Gates indicted by federal grand jury in Russia probe | Fox News

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2017/10/30/report-paul-manafort-rick-gates-to-surrender-to-special-counsel.htmlFormer Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his associate Rick Gates have been indicted by a federal grand jury Monday on 12 counts, according to the special counsel’s office. Manafort and Gates face the first charges in the special counsel’s investigation. This is also the first time the special counsel’s office has confirmed that a grand jury has been impaneled.

Tony Podesta’s problem

Manafort may provide ammunition for Mueller in his expanded investigation of Democratic super-lobbyist Tony Podesta, who has ties to various congressional Democrats and Bill Clinton.

The very charges against Manafort go to the heart of the Podesta link. In his work for the Ukraine, Manafort set up a group called European Centre for a Modern Ukraine (ECMU), which used Podesta’s lobbying group. These bear directly on the indictments, and could spell trouble for Democrats. Of course, the DNC, neck-deep in every part of the Russia connection, from the “dossier” to “fake news” and lying about it, denies any knowledge of anything.

Reports

Manafort To Turn Himself In To Feds | The Daily Caller

http://dailycaller.com/2017/10/30/paul-manafort-told-to-turn-himself-in-to-feds/Manafort walked into the FBI’s field office in Washington, D.C. Gates is a longtime associate of Manafort and serves as his junior partner at his firm. Gates became a point of interest in the investigation into Mueller after investigators found Gates name on documents linking Manafort’s firm to offshore companies that received payments from Eastern European politicians and businessmen.

Mueller Now Investigating Democratic Lobbyist Tony Podesta – NBC News

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/mueller-now-investigating-democratic-lobbyist-tony-podesta-n812776Under FARA, people who lobby on behalf of foreign governments, leaders or political parties must file detailed disclosures about their spending and activities with the Justice Department. Willful failure to file the forms is a felony and can result in up to five years in prison, though such prosecutions are rare.

The Podesta Group amended its FARA registration to accurately reflect its work with ECMU only after the payments were reported by the media. Manafort’s firm also filed a FARA registration after media reports in June disclosed its work in Ukraine from 2012 through 2014.

Are Dems As In-The-Dark As They Claim? | The Daily Caller

http://dailycaller.com/2017/10/29/what-did-dems-know-about-dossier-their-handling-of-imran-awan-affair-is-instructive/The denial is reminiscent of Ellison’s claims to have not heard of Democratic IT aide Imran Awan, despite being repeatedly informed of the major investigation involving him. In both the Awan and dossier affairs, Democratic leaders have said they did not have knowledge of major events that greatly concern them. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi professed unfamiliarity with the Awan investigation despite playing an important role in the handling of the case months ago as one of the House leaders who determined it warranted a criminal probe.

Final thoughts

This is just the beginning. But a few thoughts here.

For one thing, as Erick Erickson notes, we need to be careful in our assumptions. At this point, it doesn’t appear that the charges against Manafort are directly related to anything he did with the Trump campaign. Though the investigation was spurred on by the president’s firing of former FBI Director James Comey, that angle led to these charges against Manafort, who we all knew had Russian problems before he was hired by Trump. (I’m sure Manafort will pass his exceeding thanks for the jail sentence on to Trump, if he’s not pardoned.)

Another thing, is that we know the Democrats and the swamp-rats all over K-street have their paw prints on this whole Russia thing. If Mueller is just making his mark with these two indictments and then closing shop, Trumpists will hail it as exoneration (but it’s not really), while Democrats will howl that there’s no justice but in fact be relieved and use it to raise badly-needed cash.

But if more Trump-related charges come forth, without anything on the Democrat side, then perhaps Joe Cunningham has a point. Mueller could be either a Democrat operative or a Republican hack. If the investigation drones on without any further findings (a la Ken Starr), that might do more to exonerate Trump than anything (plus Republicans can raise funds off it).

What this ultimately does teach us is that both Democrats and Republicans are as swampy and dirty on this as they can get. And the Russians are laughing at us.

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Foreign Affairs

The Israel elections, explained for Americans

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The Israel elections explained for Americans

Many Americans are unfamiliar with how the Israeli elections work and what it takes to “win” them. Today’s election is no exception with many Americans simply waiting for the end results (which technically could be weeks away) or not having a concern about them at all. As noted before, these elections will have as big of an impact on our foreign policy as any foreign elections can have.

So, how do they work? Who won? What happens next? Let’s take a look at some answers…

Israelis vote for parties, not candidates

The first big deviation from America’s system of government is that Members of the Knesset (MKs) are selected by the parties, not the people. The people vote for the parties, and those parties are given seats in the Knesset based on their percentage of the vote. The threshold is currently 3.25% to get some of the 120 Knesset seats. Those below the threshold do not get a seat, which is important for the last election in April and Tuesday’s election. More on that later.

The two major parties – the conservative Likud Party and the center-left Blue and White Party – only make up about one-fourth to one-third of the voting population. The next tier of parties are the centrist Yisrael Beitenu Party and the Israeli-Arab coalition of parties, the United Arab List, which is considered to be generally to the left in policies despite holding conservative Muslim values socially. The other parties fight to get whatever seats are left over.

Party leaders are chosen to fill the MK seats as well as cabinet positions, with the party most likely to form a coalition government chosen by the President.

Forming a coalition government

61 MKs are necessary to support a Prime Minister and form a government. Since no single party has every had more than 50% of the vote, a coalition of like-minded parties join together to recommend one leader as Prime Minister.

In April, Likud’s Benjamin Netanyahu was unable to form a coalition because Avigdor Lieberman and his Yisrael Beitenu Party refused to stay in the conservative coalition because they wanted to pull protections for orthodox Jews from having to serve in the military. Other members of the coalition wouldn’t budge. Instead of risking the baton being passed to Benny Gantz and the center-left Blue and White Party, Netanyahu called for new elections, which is what happened Tuesday.

Exit polls indicate they’re in the same boat with neither Likud nor Blue and White able to form a government without Yisrael Beitenu, which seems to have expanded their seat count. Netanyahu had hopes the smaller conservative parties could have broken the threshold and given him a few extra votes for a conservative government. Gantz hoped the Blue and White would have a decisive victory and claim more seats than Likud, potentially giving them the floor even if his coalition was smaller. It looks as if neither happened.

Liberman is calling for a centrist unity government, but there are challenges that may prevent this. Likud would have to abandon the members of their conservative Zionist coalition by removing the protections against military service requirements for ultra-orthodox Jews. Blue and White has indicated they would not form a unity government as long as Netanyahu was leading Likud.

Unless things are very different from the exit polls, some very tenacious negotiations are ahead behind the scenes.

One way to avoid stalemate

With Likud and Blue and White both needing Yisrael Beitenu’s seats to form a government, it would seem likely that both sides will be making offers. But there’s another option. If Likud’s coalition is close enough, they can go to individual MKs and seek defections in exchange for positions. This may seem like a hard option for conservatives as it would mean inserting progress-minded people into positions of power, but their coalition is insufficient to form a government otherwise.

It’s inconceivable that a single issue about protections for the ultra-orthodox would make the militant Lieberman essentially crown Gantz as Prime Minister, but that may be the case. This is why it’s important for Netanyahu, if he’s chosen to form the government, to act quickly. There will be pressure on members of his own party to dump him and form a unity government with Gantz and Lieberman, and while they have claimed to be loyal to their leader, the risk of losing power overall may sway them.

It’s time for Netanyahu to take decisive action and pull together 61 MKs before his grasp of his party and his nation slips away. It could be disastrous for Israel with an aggressive Iran, emboldened, Hezbollah, and unruly Gaza if Gantz is put in charge.

We are currently forming the American Conservative Movement. If you are interested in learning more, we will be sending out information in a few weeks.

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Democrats

Netanyahu’s last-minute endorsement: Ilhan Omar wants him out as PM

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Netanyahus last-minute endorsement Ilhan Omar wants him out as PM

It will be incumbent on the people of Israel to decide Tuesday who will lead their government. Outsiders are discouraged from trying to influence foreign elections, but there’s nothing wrong with people expressing their preference, especially as it pertains to such as strong ally like Israel.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is against the ropes, but he should get at least a symbolic boost from his latest outspoken detractor: Representative Ilhan Omar. The anti-Semitic Congresswoman has made her perspectives on Israel very clear, siding very heavily with “Palestine” and even declaring in her attempted visit there last month that she was traveling to Palestine, not Israel, in her itinerary.

She has insinuated at times she believes Israel should not exist as a Jewish state. She also often sides with Islamic terrorists, running cover for them while saying 9/11 was a matter of “some people did something.”

Now, she’s clear about her opposition to Netanyahu:

Omar: Netanyahu’s ‘existence’ contradictory to peace

“I certainly hope that the people of Israel make a different decision and my hope is that they recognize that [Netanyahu’s] existence, his policies, his rhetoric really is contradictory to the peace that we are all hoping that region receives and receives soon,” the Minnesota Democrat told Face the Nation on Sunday.

The problem with her statement is that Netanyahu’s policies have been the only thing keeping Israel at relative peace the last decade. Her remarks were meant as a rebuke against the Prime Minister, but it’s not going to be received well by those who understand her politics. Of course she wants Netanyahu out. She wants Israel to be as weak and defenseless as possible.

Considering Iran is rearing its ugly head, demonstrating a willingness to attack its enemies, it’s difficult to see Israel remaining strong and safe without Benjamin Netanyahu at the helm. Now is not the time for cultural experimentation. Stick with Bibi.

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Culture and Religion

Democrats turn Mexican Independence Day celebration in Chicago into political statement against Trump

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Democrats turn Mexican Independence Day celebration in Chicago into political statement against Trum

The long-standing tradition of cruising in Chicago streets for Mexican Independence Day had a double meaning this year as hundreds of revelers circled Trump Tower in Chicago waving Mexican flags and honking in celebration and protest.

The change in venue from the normal “cruising” in Hispanic neighborhoods was prompted by law enforcement’s decision to block off roads normally used for the occasion. The disruptive and sometimes violent celebrations were relocated after 10th district police blocked 26th St. in the Mexican neighborhood of Little Village.

The motivation behind the blocked streets in Hispanic neighborhoods was clear: To move the celebration downtown where it could become a protest. We know this because the official police statement declared their reasoning was for cleanup following a parade… but there was no parade scheduled for the streets in question. This was clearly a political move orchestrated by leftists in the Mayor’s office.

Cars and trucks with Mexican flags have been cruising Hispanic neighborhoods for Mexican Independence Day since the mid-80s. It wasn’t until far-left Mayor Lori Lightfoot sought to weaponize and politicize the celebration that the venue was changed to the streets right in front of Trump Tower.

Expression of cultural pride is one thing. Waving Mexican flags defiantly at Trump Tower has turned the celebration of Mexican Independence Day into a political statement, just as Democrats want it to be.

We are currently forming the American Conservative Movement. If you are interested in learning more, we will be sending out information in a few weeks.

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