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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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Culture and Religion

Two weeks after Benghazi attack, Ilhan Omar Tweeted ‘Allahu Akbar’

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Two weeks after Benghazi attack Ilhan Omar Tweeted Allahu Akbar

This is old news, of course, but bears repeating at this time. Representative Ilhan Omar has been doing everything she can over the last couple of weeks to paint herself as the victim of bigotry and someone who loves our country. And while there’s definitely some substance to the notion that crowds of Republicans shouldn’t be chanting “send her back,” it’s also understandable why so many Americans are opposed to her presence on Capitol Hill.

Even if we dismiss reports that she married her brother, called for CBP to be eliminated, said this is “not going to be the country of white people,” referred to 9/11 as “some people did something,” and is regularly praised by former KKK leader David Duke, it’s difficult to dismiss her reaction to the Benghazi attacks that took the lives of four American heroes in 2012.

I’m not going to dignify her Tweet with an opinion. She’s the one who needs to explain it. But despite her celebration, life isn’t good for the four men who lost there’s in Benghazi. Remember this, folks, as Democrats embrace her wholeheartedly.

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Democrats

Kyrsten Sinema’s ‘Operation Safe Return’ is a good effort but won’t work to slow migrants

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Kyrsten Sinemas Operation Safe Return is a good effort but wont work to slow migrants

Any time a Democrat makes an effort to do something tangible to stop illegal immigration, it’s praiseworthy. Today’s Democratic Party is not only devoid of a plan to slow the migrant surge or end the border crisis. Many are doing what they can to make the problem bigger by pretending it isn’t a problem at all. This is why it’s refreshing to see Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema psuh for “Operation Safe Return.”

The proposal would set rules that would expedite the removal of migrant family units who do not demonstrate a “credible fear” of persecution. It’s a complex, multi-stage plan that sets time limits on how soon migrant families are interviewed and tightens the criteria for them to be released to the interior.

What it does not do is make changes to the Flores Agreement, which enables family units to be released quickly from detention once they file for asylum. This rule is dangerous to the children involved because it makes them a hot commodity for those wanting to move quickly into the interior of the country. Children are being used as “tickets” and are being sold to or rented by illegal immigrants.

Sinema’s plan doesn’t address this, but does go after “economic migrants” which likely accounts for the vast majority of those crossing the border illegally. Our asylum rules do not allow for those seeking better opportunities in America to claim asylum simply because they cannot get a good job in their home country.

According to The Arizona Republic:

The program would allow the Department of Homeland Security to deport certain migrants within 15 days, according to the letter, and would help alleviate overcrowding at border facilities, Sinema said.

“This pilot program would apply to families who aren’t claiming ‘credible fear,’ which of course is the first threshold in seeking asylum,” Sinema told The Arizona Republic. “If someone says ‘I left my country because I can’t make a living,’ (or) ‘it’s hard to take care of my family’ — that’s what we call an economic migrant.”

Sinema is one of the main architects behind the proposed program, along with Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., the chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee.

Sinema said she came up with the idea for the pilot program in response to a meeting with White House and Trump administration officials who she said were focused on changing asylum laws and challenging court rulings like the Flores Settlement Agreement, dictating how the government treats certain migrants.

“I just felt those weren’t the right answers,” Sinema added. “We wanted to solve the problem. We wanted to protect the asylum process for valid applicants … and we want to respect the Flores decision.”

This is a nice attempt, but here’s the problem. Word will continue to spread that migrants should not claim economic hardship as their reason for filing for asylum. They are being given talking points about their status that include saying they’re being persecuted because of their beliefs. This is easy to say and difficult to prove, making it the easy path through which migrant families can come to America and be released to the interior three weeks later.

The proposal has been delivered to acting DHS Secretary Kevin McAleenan for review. It was signed by Sinema and Johnson as well as five Republican and two Democratic Senators.

This is a stopgap plan that may slow the migrant surge and expedite deportations on a small scale, but eventually it will become worthless. Sinema deserves credit for trying, but we need bolder measures if we’re going to make a dent in the border crisis.

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Foreign Affairs

Iran has seized a British tanker

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Evidence points to Iran seizing British tanker

Update 2: They may have captured a second British tanker.

Update 1: Iran has confirmed it seized the tanker.

Original Story:

A British oil tanker traveling through the Strait of Hormuz to Saudi Arabia has made some strange maneuvers, causing speculation that it has been seized by Iran.

The tanker, Stena Impero, veered off course according to positioning trackers and is now heading towards the Iranian island of Qeshm which has a substantial Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) base. British authorities are seeking answers.

The Islamic republic has threatened retaliation for the British seizure of an Iranian tanker heading towards Syria, which would break an EU sanction. Five Iranian attack vessels confronted a British tanker last week but quickly retreated when the Royal Navy frigate HMS Montrose closed in.

Iran has long claimed sovereignty over the international waters of the Strait of Hormuz. They attempted to stage bombings of two oil tankers last month and four in May in hopes of being able to act as defenders of the Strait, but U.S. video of the second round of bombings caught an Iranian ship removing an unexploded mine from the haul. With that potential bargaining chip off the table, it appears they’re trying to work their way to the negotiating table by force.

A collapsing economy is forcing Iran to make aggressive moves. This is standard operating procedure for the desperate. An international military response may be in order to abate further acts of terrorism by Iran.

This story is developing and will be updated.

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