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Prosecutor says new charges ‘likely’ in case against Rudy Giuliani associates



The Justice Department is “likely” to file additional charges in the case against two associates of Rudy Giuliani accused of funneling foreign money to U.S. political candidates, a prosecutor said Monday.

The disclosure was made during a court hearing in New York related to the case of Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman. The federal prosecutor didn’t offer any further details on the nature or target of any additional charges.

Parnas and Fruman were charged with violating campaign finance laws. They have pleaded not guilty.

The two men were carrying one-way tickets to Vienna when they were arrested at Dulles Airport outside of Washington on Oct. 9.

The indictment unsealed the next day accused Parnas and Fruman of making illegal straw donations, including $325,000 to a pro-President Donald Trump political action committee. Federal prosecutors say the two also engaged in a scheme to force the ouster of the then-U.S. ambassador in Ukraine.

The removal of the former ambassador, Marie Yovanovitch, in May is among the events House Democrats have focused on in the impeachment inquiry. Democrats accuse Trump of abusing his power by pressuring Ukraine to launch an investigation of Joe Biden, his political rival, and Biden’s son.

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Giuliani has acknowledged that Parnas and Fruman assisted in his effort to dig up dirt on the Bidens.

Prosecutors seized thousands of files, nine gigabytes of data, dozens of cell phones and a sat phone from Parnas, Fruman and two associates also charged in the case, David Correia and Andrey Kukushin.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Douglas Zolkin told the court Monday that Parnas has not provided the passwords to his phones despite numerous requests, and the FBI is using its technology to try and crack the phones and image the devices.

Federal prosecutors also told the judge that there were no Title III wiretaps in the case, meaning they did not eavesdrop on phone conversations prior to charging the four men.

In court Monday, Kukushkin’s attorney, Gerald Lefcourt told the court that multiple pages of search warrant affidavits provided to the defense had been completely redacted. He showed a physical copy of the warrant to the judge and asked why the defense could not see it. Prosecutors indicated that there were subjects and information contained in the affidavits pertaining to their on-going investigation of the four men that must remain secret.

Parnas and Fruman refused to cooperate in the House impeachment inquiry. But last month, Parnas’ new lawyer said he was willing to speak with congressional investigators.

The lawyer, Joseph Bondy, said Parnas was told that Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., the chief defender of Trump as ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, met with Ukraine’s former top prosecutor about investigating the activities of Biden and his son Hunter.

In an appearance on Fox News late last month, Nunes sidestepped a question about the allegation. “I really want to answer all of these questions, and I promise you I absolutely will come back on the show,” Nunes told host Maria Bartiromo.

Nunes added: “Everybody’s going to know all the facts, but I think you can understand that I can’t compete by trying to debate this out with the public media when 90 percent of the media are totally corrupt.”

Both sides are expected back in court on Feb. 3, 2020, at 2 p.m.

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Which candidates have qualified for the December Democratic debate?



WASHINGTON — A number of candidates have so far qualified for next month’s Democratic debate in Los Angeles, sponsored by PBS Newshour and Politico, according to an unofficial NBC News tally.

Candidates have until Dec. 12 to qualify for the Dec. 19 debate, but those who have already clinched a podium are:

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  • Former Vice President Joe Biden
  • Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana
  • Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar
  • Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren
  • Vermont independent Sen. Bernie Sanders
  • Billionaire Tom Steyer
  • Businessman Andrew Yang

California Sen. Kamala Harris qualified for the debate, but dropped her bid for the nomination on Dec. 3, citing a lack of resources.

And Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard is one poll away, but has said that she won’t participate regardless of whether she makes it or not.

But other candidates who have made previous debates are struggling to hit the December threshold. Former Housing and Urban Development Sec. Julián Castro and New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker both find themselves with a significant hurdle to climb with just days before the Dec. 12 deadline.

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who officially announced he’s running on Sunday, isn’t accepting donations, which will make it impossible for him to qualify even if he does hit a polling threshold.

Candidates need to show strength in both grassroots fundraising — netting 200,000 unique donors or more — as well as in the polls, hitting 4 percent in four national or state polls, or 6 percent in two polls of the early states: Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina.

The lineup is unofficial until the DNC certifies the field, and the donor totals are based on candidates’ public self-reporting figures.

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Trump paid $2 million judgment for misusing his charity, New York attorney general says



President Donald Trump has paid $2 million in a court-ordered judgment for misusing his charity, New York Attorney General Letitia James said in a statement Tuesday.

“Not only has the Trump Foundation shut down for its misconduct, but the president has been forced to pay $2 million for misusing charitable funds for his own political gain,” James said. “Charities are not a means to an end, which is why these damages speak to the president’s abuse of power and represent a victory for not-for-profits that follow the law.”

Last month, a federal judge ordered Trump to pay the $2 million in damages after the foundation admitted in a settlement that the president personally misused foundation funds to help his 2016 presidential campaign, settle personal legal disputes and buyportraits of himself and sports memorabilia.

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The $2 million will go to eight different charities: Army Emergency Relief, the Children’s Aid Society, Citymeals-on-Wheels, Give an Hour, Martha’s Table, the United Negro College Fund, the United Way of National Capital Area, and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. Trump also agreed to distribute the remaining $1.8 million in the foundation’s coffers among those same charities.

Each charity will receive a total of $476,140.41. The settlement also called for mandatory training requirements for the now-defunct foundation’s directors — Donald Trump Jr., Ivanka Trump and Eric Trump, which James said each has undergone.

“Funds have finally gone where they deserve — to eight credible charities. My office will continue to fight for accountability because no one is above the law — not a businessman, not a candidate for office, and not even the president of the United States,” James said.

Alan Futerfas, an attorney for The Trump Organization, said that the company is satisfied with the outcome.

“The Foundation case settled weeks ago with all issues resolved and all funds going to charity. We are very pleased with the result,” he said in an email to NBC News.

The Trump Foundation, the charitable organization started by Trump in 1987, agreed to disband in 2018 and give away its assets after a probe by then-acting New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood revealed a “shocking pattern of illegality” that included “unlawful coordination with the Trump presidential campaign, repeated and willful self-dealing, and much more.”

James took over the case in 2019 when she was sworn in as attorney general and continued the lawsuit against Trump and three of his eldest children, who served on the charity, and barred them from serving on any charities in New York state.

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Trump target Lisa Page sues DOJ, FBI for ‘unwanted invasion of privacy’



Former FBI lawyer Lisa Page sued her old employers Tuesday, charging they unlawfully released inflammatory text messages between her and FBI agent Peter Strzok in order to redirect Republican anger from top officials at the Department of Justice.

“I sued the Department of Justice and FBI today. I take little joy in having done so. But what they did in leaking my messages to the press was not only wrong, it was illegal,” Page tweeted Tuesday.

The lawsuit was filed one day after the Justice Department’s inspector general found Page “did not play a role in the decision” to open an investigation into the Trump campaign’s involvement with Russia in the 2016 election, despite President Donald Trump having tweeted that she’s one of the people “who started the disgraceful Witch Hunt.”

Page resigned in May of last year. The suit says the torrent of attacks from the president and his allies has caused her “permanent loss of earning capacity due to reputational damage” and cost her an undisclosed amount in legal and therapy fees.

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In papers filed in federal court in Washington, D.C., Page suggests she was intentionally made a scapegoat for Trump’s anger at the Russia investigation to the benefit of then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

Strzok and Page first made headlines in December of 2017, when it was announced they’d been removed from then-special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation because of text messages that had been critical of the president, including calling him “a loathsome human.”

Republican members of Congress demanded to see the texts and the DOJ decided to oblige, even though they were being investigated by the DOJ’s inspector general, the suit says. The DOJ decided to release them to the press the night before Rosenstein was set to testify before Congress.

“Disclosure of the text messages before Rosenstein’s hearing would serve multiple goals: it would protect the Deputy Attorney General from criticism during his testimony; it would show that the Department was addressing matters of concern to the President; and it would dominate coverage of the hearing, which otherwise could be unfavorable for the Department,” the suit says, with the only cost being Page’s and Strzok’s privacy.

The night before the hearing, “DOJ officials, including then-DOJ spokesperson Sarah Isgur Flores, summoned a select group of reporters to the Department’s offices. There, they allowed the reporters to view the 375 text messages. The reporters were told they were not permitted to remove or copy the messages and could not source the messages to DOJ,” the suit says, noting the procedures were not “routine.”

“Reporters were admitted to the building to view the text messages after close of business,” the suit says, adding that subterfuge was designed to make it look like the messages were leaked by members of Congress and not the DOJ.

Rosenstein acknowledged the messages had been released by the DOJ during his Dec. 13, 2017, testimony.

Two separate inspector general reports found that Page’s opinions about the president hadn’t had an impact on her work at the FBI, but the DOJ’s “unlawful conduct” had already turned Page into “a subject of frequent attacks by the President of the United States, as well as his allies and supporters. In the two years since the December 12 disclosure, the President has targeted Ms. Page by name in more than 40 tweets and dozens of interviews, press conferences, and statements from the White House.”

Trump, the suit notes, “has referred to Ms. Page as “incompetent,” “corrupt,” “pathetic,” “stupid,” a “dirty cop,” a “loser,” a “clown,” “bad people,” “sick people,” a “lover,” a “great lover,” a “wonderful lover,” a “stupid lover,” and “lovely.” He has called the text messages a “disaster” and an “embarrassment.” He has accused Ms. Page of treason and other crimes.”

The suit seeks an unspecified amount in damages for violating the federal privacy act, but “not less than $1,000.”

The Department of Justice did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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