Defense One – All Content
Defense One – All Content
Some other interpretational flows (and flaws) might be present also.
The U.S. warned North Korea that it is ready to fight if provoked, as Pyongyang claimed another weapons-development breakthrough following its launch Tuesday of an intercontinental ballistic missile.
WSJ.com: World News
BERLIN German Chancellor Angela Merkel sharply criticized U.S. policy under President Donald Trump on Wednesday, two days before they are due to meet at the G20 summit, for being based on a “winners and losers” view of the world rather than on cooperation.
Merkel will host the two-day meeting of G20 leaders that starts on Friday in Hamburg. Along with Trump, others attending include Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkey’s Tayyip Erdogan.
The talks are expected to be tricky as the agenda includes divisive issues such as free trade and climate change.
“As G20 president, it is my job to work on possibilities for agreement and not to contribute to a situation where a lack of communication prevails,” she told Die Zeit weekly.
However, she added that differences should not be pushed under the table.
“While we are looking at the possibilities of cooperation to benefit everyone, globalization is seen by the American administration more as a process that is not about a win-win situation but about winners and losers,” she said.
She said comments from a Trump security advisor that the world was an arena, not a global community, contradicted her views.
Germany wants everyone to benefit from economic progress rather than only a few, she said.
Europe must pool its energy, she said, adding that ideas of an economic government for the euro zone and of a European finance minister, put forward by new French President Emmanuel Macron, were “two important thoughts”.
Tens of thousands of protesters are expected to march in the city this week against globalization and what they say is corporate greed and a failure to tackle climate change.
Merkel said she respected peaceful demonstrators in Hamburg but “anyone who gets violent spurns democracy”.
German police used water cannon to disperse around 500 anti-capitalist protesters overnight in Hamburg.
(Reporting by Madeline Chambers; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)
The U.S. and Russian presidents are set to meet for the first time on July 7 at the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany. But U.S. allegations that Moscow interfered in last year’s election have strained efforts to get relations back on track.
BRONX, NY — A police officer was fatally shot early Wednesday as she sat in a command vehicle in New York, authorities said.
Miosotis Familia, 48, was shot just after midnight while she and her partner were sitting in a police command vehicle in the Bronx. She was taken to St. Barnabas Hospital, where she died, the New York Police Department said.
The department is calling it an “unprovoked attack.”
The suspect, 34-year-old Alexander Bonds, allegedly drew a revolver as he was confronted by officers. He was shot and killed by police about a block away, Police Commissioner James O’Neill said.
Police said Familia was a 12-year veteran working in the 46th Precinct.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio praised the officers’ efforts during a press conference early Wednesday morning.
“She was on duty, serving this city, protecting people, doing what she believed in and doing the job she loved,” he told reporters. “After this sudden and shocking attack, her fellow officers came to her aid immediately.”
Another person was struck by a bullet during the encounter, police said. The person, who was not identified, was believed to be a bystander and is in stable condition at a local hospital.
Police said they recovered a silver revolver at the scene. The motive behind the shooting is unclear. The investigation is ongoing.
FORDHAM HEIGHTS, the Bronx — A NYPD officer shot in the face while sitting in her vehicle in what is being described as an unprovoked attack has died, her killer was also fatally shot, and a bystander is hospitalized with a bullet wound, police sources said Wednesday.
Miosotis Familia, 48, a 12-year-veteran of the force, was identified by police as the slain officer.
Her accused killer, Alexander Bonds, is also dead, police said.
Bonds, 34, walked out of a bodega and shot Familia face as she sat in marked NYPD command vehicle near Morris Avenue and East 183rd Street in the Bronx around 12:30 a.m., police say.
The slain officer was assigned with a partner in a mobile command post at the time.
That partner immediately radioed for assistance, and an anti-crime team, consisting of a sergeant and a police officer, who were in uniform, confronted the suspect about a block from the shooting on Morris Avenue, police say.
Bonds then allegedly drew his weapon, and the officers fired, killing him.
A person, described by police as a bystander, was also struck by a bullet and transported to the hospital, police say.
It is not clear if Bonds fired his weapon in the confrontation with the anti-crime team.
A silver revolver was recovered at the scene, police say. An image of the weapon has also been released by the NYPD.
Bonds was on parole for robbery from Syracuse in which he was arrested in May 2013, police say.
Familia’s killing echoed the fatal shootings of Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos, who were gunned down as they sat in their patrol car in Bed Stuy in 2014. In that slaying, the shooter took his own life.
Wednesday’s shooting was less than two miles away from where Sgt. Paul Tuozzolo was fatally shot in November. He was a 19-year veteran of the force and a father of two.
This is a developing story; check back for updates and get the PIX11 News app to stay informed all day.
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Law enforcement officers examine a mobile command post (at left) after an NYPD officer was shot and critically wounded inside it near 183rd St. and Creston Ave. around 12:30 a.m. on Wednesday in the Bronx. (James Keivom/New York Daily News).
NYPD officer assassinated in police vehicleNew York Post
On-duty NY officer critically injured in ‘unprovoked attack’ABC News
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Joey “Jaws” Chestnut, a competitive eater, downed 72 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes at the annual wiener-eating contest on New York’s Coney Island, a tradition that marks every Independence Day holiday in the United States.
The massive expose in Friday morning’s Washington Post starts with a bombshell:
Early last August, President Obama was handed an ”eyes only” memo from the CIA that described how evidence clearly showed Russian President Vladimir Putin was personally and directly involved in a cyber campaign to not only disrupt the U.S. presidential race, but to help throw the victory to Donald Trump.
Damage Hillary Clinton, Putin had told his intelligence operatives. And put Trump in the White House.
The expose is broken into 11 chapters and includes timelines, charts and other interactive graphics that lay out the story’s astonishing details. You should read it, but it will take you a while, so here are some of the highlights of the report:
Donald: Do not waste time, emotions and Twitter space on the little nothings. Deal with the big issues and problems, the rest is immaterial.
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The Truth, the only Truth, and only the Truth is my God.
Donald: accept and embrace this thesis fully, and we will start to see the light.
mikenov on Twitter
U.S. President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence walk to the Rose Garden of the White House following the House of Representative vote on the health care bill on May 4, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Credit: MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Following a White House commission’s request that states turn over voters’ full names, addresses, dates of birth, political parties, social security digits, and other personal data, dozens of U.S. states have registered their on-the-record objections.
CNN reported Tuesday that 44 states have now refused a request by the Trump administration to provide certain information about registered voters, ranging from their criminal records to time spent abroad. A CNN inquiry into all 50 U.S. states found that state leaders and voting officials across the country have been fairly quick to respond to the request for voter data, sent last Wednesday by the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity–and, in most cases, to reject it.
Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, vice chairman of the commission, sent the letter as part of the commission’s efforts to investigate the possibility of voter fraud in various machinations, as per the presidential executive order that created the group in May. As PBS explained, “Trump has claimed without evidence since winning November’s election that it was ‘rigged,’ either by voter impersonation or illegal ballots cast by undocumented immigrants. Trump swept the Electoral College in November’s election, but was nearly 3 million votes shy of Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the popular vote.”
Kobach has emphasized, however, that his commission’s goal is in no way to validate or specifically nurture the president’s claims.
The requested information includes registered voters’ full names, addresses, birth dates, political parties, a list of the elections they’ve voted in since 2006, whether they’ve registered to vote in other states, their military status, info on any felony convictions, whether they’ve lived overseas, and the last four digits of their social security numbers. Kobach stated twice in the letter that only “public” information was being requested, and reiterated Friday, “Every state receives the same letter, but we’re not asking for it if it’s not publicly available,” CNN reported.
Numerous states have already responded that they can’t provide the social security numbers, in the very least, while others objected to the commission’s request that states surrender this information through an online portal.
On Twitter, President Trump chided an unspecified number of state elected officials and/or governments, writing Saturday, “Numerous states are refusing to give information to the very distinguished VOTER FRAUD PANEL. What are they trying to hide?”
Members of Ecuador’s National Electoral Council (CNE) recount the votes of a runoff election in Quito on April 18, 2017. Socialist Lenin Moreno won the April 2 second round with a 51.15 percent share, more than 226,000 votes ahead of his conservative rival Guillermo Lasso, who alleged fraud, refused to accept the result, and asked for a full recount. (Credit: RODRIGO BUENDIA/AFP/Getty Images)
According to CNN, nineteen states have “openly criticized” the request, which would require states to figure out how to comply as permitted by their respective laws in addition to rounding up and delivering all that data.
Louisiana Secretary of State Tom Schedler, a Republican, told CNN Monday, “The President’s Commission has quickly politicized its work by asking states for an incredible amount of voter data that I have, time and time again, refused to release … My response to the Commission is, you’re not going to play politics with Louisiana’s voter data, and if you are, then you can purchase the limited public information available by law, to any candidate running for office. That’s it.”
Florida and Nebraska are reportedly still reviewing the request as of Tuesday afternoon, while Hawaii (which just woke up) and New Jersey haven’t responded to CNN’s request for comment. Six more states are still waiting on the commission’s letter, but New Mexico, Michigan, South Carolina and West Virginia among them “have already pledged not to provide voters’ private information,” according to CNN. Colorado, Missouri, and Tennessee, meanwhile, have respectively “commended” Kobach’s work in statements.
Whatever the final outcome of the commission’s request, the Republican party apparently has a widely sourced lode of information on nearly 200 million U.S. voters already (as does anyone else who downloaded the unprotected cache) for company, at least.
People wait to march in a parade to celebrate the US Independence Day on July 4, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Credit: BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
By ERIC TUCKER
WASHINGTON (AP) – The U.S. government has long warned that Russian organized crime posed a threat to democratic institutions, including “criminally linked oligarchs” who might collude with the Russian government to undermine business competition.
Those concerns, ever-present if not necessarily always top priorities, are front and center once more.
An ongoing special counsel investigation is drawing attention to Russian efforts to meddle in democratic processes, the type of skullduggery that in the past has relied on hired hackers and outside criminals. It’s not clear how much the probe by former FBI Director Robert Mueller will center on the criminal underbelly of Moscow, but he’s already picked some lawyers with experience fighting organized crime. And as the team looks for any financial entanglements of Trump associates and relationships with Russian officials, its focus could land again on the intertwining of Russia’s criminal operatives and its intelligence services.
Russian organized crime has manifested itself over the decades in more conventional forms of money laundering, credit card fraud and black market sales. Justice Department prosecutors have repeatedly racked up convictions for those offenses.
In recent years, though, the bond between Russian intelligence agencies and criminal networks has been especially alarming to American law enforcement officials, blending motives of espionage with more old-fashioned greed. In March, for instance, two hired hackers were charged along with two officers of Russia’s Federal Security Service in a cyberattack on Yahoo Inc. in 2013.
It’s too early to know how Russian criminal networks might fit into the election meddling investigation, but central to the probe are devastating breaches of Democratic email accounts, including those of the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman. U.S. authorities have blamed those hacks on Russian intelligence services working to discredit Clinton and help Trump – but have said the overall effort involved third-party intermediaries and paid Internet trolls.
Former law enforcement officials say Russian organized crime has been a concern for at least a couple of decades, though not necessarily the most pressing demand given finite resources and budget constraints. The threat is diffuse and complex, and Russia’s historic lack of cooperation has complicated efforts to apprehend suspects. And the responsibility for combatting the problem often falls across different divisions of the FBI and the Justice Department, depending on whether it’s a criminal or national security offense – a sometimes-blurry boundary.
“It’s not an easy thing to kind of grasp or understand, but it’s very dangerous to our country because they have so many different aspects, unlike a traditional cartel,” said Robert Anderson, a retired FBI executive assistant director who worked counterintelligence cases and oversaw the criminal and cyber branch.
“You have to know where to look, which makes it more complicated,” he added. “And you have to understand what you’re looking for.”
Federal prosecutors continue to bring traditional organized crime cases, such as one last month in New York charging 33 members and associates of a Russian crime syndicate in a racketeering and extortion scheme that officials say involved cargo shipment thefts and efforts to defraud casinos. But there’s a heightened awareness about more sophisticated cyber threats that commingle the interests of the government and of criminals.
“An organized criminal group matures in what they do,” said retired FBI assistant director Ron Hosko. “What they once did here through extortion, some of these groups are now doing through cyberattack vectors.”
Within the Justice Department, it’s been apparent since the collapse of the Soviet Union that crime from that territory could affect national security in Europe and the U.S.
A 2001 report from the Justice Department’s National Institute of Justice, a research arm, called America “the land of opportunity for unloading criminal goods and laundering dirty money.” It said crime groups in the region were establishing ties to drug trafficking networks, and that “criminally linked oligarchs” might work with the government to undermine competition in gas, oil and other strategic networks.
Three months later came the Sept. 11 attacks, and the FBI, then under Mueller’s leadership, and other agencies left no doubt that terrorism was the most important priority.
“I recall talking to the racketeering guys after that and them saying, ‘Forget any focus now on organized crime,'” said James Finckenauer, an author of the report.
Besides cyber threats, Justice Department officials in recent years have worried about the effect of unchecked international corruption, creating a kleptocracy initiative to recover money plundered by government leaders for their own purposes.
In 2014, then-Attorney General Eric Holder pledged the Justice Department’s commitment to recouping large sums believed to have been stolen during the regime of the Russia-backed government of Viktor Yanukovych, the Ukrainian president chased from power that year.
That effort led to an FBI focus on Paul Manafort, the Trump campaign chairman who did political consulting work on behalf of Yanukovych’s political party and who remains under scrutiny now.
But those same foreign links have also made cases hard to prove in court.
In many instances, foreign criminal hackers or those sponsored by foreign governments – including China, Iran and Russia – have remained out of reach of American authorities. In some cases, judges have chastised U.S. authorities for prosecutorial overreach in going after international targets.
A San Francisco federal judge, for instance, in 2015 dismissed an indictment involving two Ukrainian nationals who’d been accused of trying to bribe an official at a United Nations agency responsible for creating standards for machine-readable international passports.
The judge said he couldn’t understand how the government could apply a foreign bribery law to conduct that had no direct connection to the U.S.
Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
The investigation into Russian influence on the last election reached an absurd apogee on June 16, as President Donald Trump tweeted that he was under investigation for firing FBI Director James Comey (“I am being investigated for firing the FBI Director by the man who told me to fire the FBI Director! Witch Hunt”), and then Trump’s lawyer denied Trump was under investigation at all.
It happened amid a subplot: rumors that Trump was looking for a way to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller, the former FBI director and Justice Department veteran who is leading the Trump-Russia investigation, while the Republican right was seeking to discredit the Dubya-appointed registered Republican as a partisan Democrat.
Rod Rosenstein, the Deputy U.S. Attorney General (and former Maryland U.S. Attorney) whose memo describing Comey’s sins provided the pretext for Comey’s ouster, told the Senate Intelligence Committee he would not fire Mueller without good cause, then reportedly told a colleague he may recuse himself from overseeing the investigation—that memo Trump referred to in his tweet makes him a potential witness.
It is telling that the focus is now on the theory that Trump, in firing Comey, committed obstruction of justice. As the old saw goes, “the cover-up is worse than the crime,” and a tidy obstruction case could be the fastest and simplest way to get Trump out of office—which appears self-evidently to be Mueller’s brief.
But what of the crime itself?
If Trump colluded with Russian government agents to interfere in the U.S. election, should not the details be made public in the broadest and clearest way possible? And what of Trump’s historic ties to Russia—to its government officials and to its mobsters? And what of his financial ties to Russian oligarchs and criminals?
It all looks complicated: hard to investigate and harder to turn into criminal charges. But the complications of Trump’s Russia ties could go farther than that: They could implicate top officials of the U.S. Justice Department and the FBI itself.
And that is the best reason to believe that Mueller’s investigation will not go there.
The Independent Counsel, chosen last month by increasingly embattled Rosenstein, has been praised by members of Congress. Republican Sen. John McCain, of Arizona, called Mueller “a great choice,” while Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) called him “somebody we all trust.” Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) says Mueller has “the guts and backbone to stand up and speak out against any kind of political influence.”
And, indeed, Mueller is a proven quantity. His tenure as FBI director, which began a week before the Sept. 11 attacks, was famously extended two years past its normal term by President Barack Obama. During his four-decade career as a high-powered lawyer in both government and private service, he’s demonstrated a steady hand, judicious reasoning, and a narrow focus on the business at hand—in sharp contrast to, say, Kenneth Starr, whose mid-’90s investigation into a failed real estate deal involving the Clintons spiraled into an absurd inquiry focused on the president’s ejaculate.
But Mueller’s habit of keeping his investigations tidy may not serve the nation well this time. It may not have served us well in the past, either. Several times in his career, Mueller could have sent more people to prison and shed important light on American policies and practices—but that would have been politically inconvenient (if not disastrous) for important people.
Two of those cases—the prosecution of Manuel Noriega and the investigation into the Bank of Credit and Commerce International—illustrate the issues (money laundering, spies, dubious deals cut by the Justice Department) that, just below the surface, also animate l’affair Trump/Russia.
Trump and Mueller have never crossed paths before, but they have both spent their careers in the power vortex where politicians, criminals, and spies mingle—the lawless nexus where billions of dollars are sloshed around the world in pursuit of covert aims, and high crimes routinely go unpunished in the name of “national security.”
Notwithstanding what most inside-the-beltway commentators seem to believe, Trump did not spring fully-formed from the November 2016 news void, or from Comey’s speech about Hillary. A careful examination of Trump’s career leads to the conclusion that he long had connections that could be very relevant to his current predicament.
In that, Trump could turn out to be very much like the late General Manuel Noriega, the Panamanian dictator who died last month in prison. Mueller was Attorney General Richard Thornburgh’s pick in 1989 when President George H. W. Bush dispatched the 82nd Airborne Division to arrest Noriega, a fellow head of state, on drug trafficking and money-laundering charges. The case could have been complicated—or even compromised—because Noriega had been on the Central Intelligence Agency’s payroll for decades, and Noriega wanted to argue that point in his trial. The information was explosive and could have harmed Bush’s re-election chances (as well as any number of ongoing U.S. intelligence operations). But at Mueller’s behest, the judge ruled against him, saying testimony about Noriega’s CIA ties would “confuse the issues before the jury.”
Noriega was convicted and sentenced to 30 years in prison.
Mueller also oversaw the investigation into the Bank of Credit and Commerce International, which collapsed in scandal in 1991. The bank, funded by Saudis, managed by Pakistanis, domiciled nowhere, acted as a money-laundering supermarket for drug-and-arms dealers (Noriega included), spies, and international mafiosi, a full-airing of the details of which could, again, have upset U.S. diplomatic interests, intelligence operations, and high-level political careers. Happily for all involved, BCCI was also a sloppy ponzi scheme, its Florida branches a hive of low-level scumbags, and so Mueller focused mainly on that—and stonewalled on the important stuff.
“In the U.S. investigators now say openly that the Justice Department has not only reined in its own probe of the bank but is also part of a concerted campaign to derail any full investigation,” Time Magazine reported in a 1991 cover story on the bank. “Says Robert Morgenthau, the Manhattan district attorney, who first launched his investigations into B.C.C.I. two years ago: ‘We have had no cooperation from the Justice Department since we first asked for records in March 1990. In fact they are impeding our investigation, and Justice Department representatives are asking witnesses not to cooperate with us.'”
Mueller “strongly disagreed” with the basic facts, telling then-Sen. John Kerry, on ABC’s “Nightline,” that a plea bargain with a minor BCCI player in a Tampa money laundering case was a major victory for the Justice Department. He ignored Kerry’s questions about how tapes of his investigator’s interviews with top BCCI officials, in which they allegedly discussed political bribes and its secret ownership of a politically wired Washington, D.C. bank, went missing. He ignored “Nightline” host Ted Koppel’s attempt to get Kerry’s questions answered as well.
The stonewalling of the BCCI investigation did Mueller’s career no harm. He soon took his place among the nation’s top white-collar defense attorneys, prosecuted murderers in D.C. and, in the 2000s, served his extended turn as head of the FBI, beginning it just before the World Trade Center fell to the biggest terrorist attack in history—and not long after the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan secretly dispatched Felix Sater, a twice-convicted Russian mobster, in search of terrorist missiles. Sater would soon come to work from Trump’s office tower, allegedly using Trump’s name to fleece thousands of Americans out of hundreds of millions of dollars, right under Mueller’s nose.
But Trump’s own association with mobsters and informants dates back much further than that—as does the FBI’s bewildering lack of curiosity about Trump’s many alleged crimes.
Trump and FBI Sources
For at least 35 years Trump used sources at the FBI (and was used by them) to facilitate the making of cases and careers—and fortunes. The history of Trump’s connections to the Mafia Commission case of the 1980s, and other New York intrigues, has not yet been told in full, but their outlines are revealed in the comb-over-shaped voids in the public record concerning the cases against a number of mafia families, some of whom were taken down in large part with the aid of Sater.
What follows are some key examples of the connections among Trump, the FBI, and mobsters of various national stripes—including some who have never been prosecuted and others who were major informants for the Bureau. Taken together, they raise questions about federal law enforcers’ reluctance to target the clownish mogul—and Mueller’s likely effort to avoid focusing on these connections and events.
The “Labor Consultant”
Consider what happened after FBI Special Agent Walt Stowe walked into Trump’s office with Daniel Sullivan, a mob-connected “labor consultant” Trump had previously hooked up with through his lawyer, Roy Cohn.
The year was 1981, and Trump was lining up his ducks to build his first casino while simultaneously developing (in an eyebrow-raising alliance with a mob-controlled concrete workers’ union) Trump Tower in Manhattan. He offered to help the FBI with their mafia investigations.
This story has been recounted many times, most recently by the Washington Post and Tom Robbins for The Marshall Project.
“Stowe welcomed the attention, but it was not primarily a friendship he was seeking at that time,” the Post’s reporters wrote last year, having tracked down Stowe. “Having a contact like Trump was a valuable asset for a rising star at the FBI. Trump was ‘a guy who knew people,’ Stowe said.”
What happened next was perhaps the least one should expect when trusting Trump with sensitive information: Questioned by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement about Sullivan, Trump promptly blew the longtime informant’s cover, thus preemptively scuttling any chance of a long-term investigation leading to the New Jersey gambling regulators.
The feds shook it off and, as the Post reports, “Stowe, now retired, became a gaming executive after rising through the ranks of the FBI.”
The Mafia Commission
Flash forward a few years, and the feds in New York are gangbusters, rolling up Fat Tony Salerno, Paul Castellano (both fellow clients, with Trump, of Roy Cohn) and six other top mobsters, charging them with inflating concrete prices in Trump’s E. 61st Street building.
Castellano was rubbed-out before trial by John Gotti (another Cohn client); the others were convicted in 1986 of murder, racketeering, payoffs, etc., in a sensational case called The Mafia Commission Trial.
It made a household name of Manhattan U.S. Attorney Rudy Giuliani—soon to be a tight pal of Trump and, after that, New York City’s mayor.
“Our approach,” Giuliani said, “is to wipe out the Five Families.”
The Mafia Commission case did not do that, but it weakened them and the so-called commission never met again, one mobster told a jury in a 2011 murder case.
Nearly everyone involved in the case became famous. Working under Giuliani, Michael Chertoff prosecuted the mob’s “concrete club.” He remained a prominent national figure for decades. In 1990 he became U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey, and in the mid ’90s became special counsel to the Whitewater Committee investigating President Bill Clinton—where James Comey, another veteran of the New York office, served as his deputy special counsel.
Later he prosecuted Zacarias Moussaoui, co-authored the USA PATRIOT Act, and become the Secretary of Homeland Security.
The FBI’s lead investigator on the Mafia Commission case, James Kallstrom, later became the head of the Bureau’s Manhattan office, and rose to the rank of assistant director. He went into finance, returned to law enforcement after Sept. 11, and has lately been seen on Fox News, Breitbart, and other right-wing outlets attacking Hillary Clinton and supporting Trump. He is known as an expert in wiretapping.
Trump’s name only came up in the Mafia Commission Trial as a victim, though he had sold units in Trump Tower to several people connected with mafiosi, a pattern that began when the building was finished. What is not clear from the available record is whether Trump was merely being extorted, or was in business with mobsters. The distinction is not always clear, even to the players.
But if Trump was not obviously cordial with the Gambinos, Luccheses, and Genoveses, there was one mafia family whose members he partnered with unambiguously. And it happened to be the family whose most murderous member worked directly for the FBI for more than four decades, and the family that taught the Russian mafia how to steal hundreds of millions of dollars from the government.
The Colombos and The Grim Reaper
Trump connects to the Colombo crime family through at least two reputed members: John Staluppi and John Rosatti, business partners in numerous car dealerships who, in the mid-’80s, contracted with Trump to build a Trump-branded limousine—his first foray into personal branding of a non-real estate product.
Staluppi also operated a company called Dillinger Charter Service, which supplied helicopters to the Trump Organization (along with another colorful convict named Joe Weichselbaum). Staluppi and Rosatti also went into the yacht business, buying custom-built high-speed megayachts for themselves, naming them all after James Bond films and, they claimed, selling them after a couple years for a profit.
This may make them the only people in the history of boating to earn money by buying boats new and selling them used.
While Staluppi and Rosatti were building their wealth and enjoying their yachts, another Colombo capo, Gregory Scarpa, was racking up murders in Brooklyn under the watchful eye of his FBI handler, Lindley DeVeccio.
Known as “The Grim Reaper,” Scarpa remained on the FBI’s payroll as a “Top-Echelon Informant” from the early ’60s through the ’90s, even as he started a gang war within the Colombo family. In his massive book, “Deal With The Devil,” journalist Peter Lance presents evidence that DeVecchio knew Scarpa was killing people but abetted and protected him in order to make cases against other mobsters. He did this, Lance argues, eventually with the connivance of his superiors in the Justice Department. DeVecchio was at first cleared in an internal probe, and he was not charged with murder until a decade later—and that case ended in a bizarre mistrial. Lance argues in his book that the FBI kept the Scarpa revelations under wraps to protect its institutional reputation, as well as a number of dubious mob convictions.
Trump’s Colombo business partners, Staluppi and Rosatti, remained unscathed—even though Rosatti was busted by the FBI in 1994 and charged with being a felon in possession of a gun, and Staluppi was mentioned on wiretaps the feds had during the Colombo war.
Their mob ties are seldom mentioned these days.
But a close Colombo associate of theirs says he was a mentor to the Russian gangsters who dominated the 1990s. Those Russians connect to Trump—and to a Russian gangster called “The Boss of Bosses.”
And one of those same Russian mobsters—Felix Sater—worked for the FBI as an informant in anti-terror cases that remain secret even now.
The Colombos and the Russians
In the ’80s, as the Five Families’ influence waned, new organized criminals moved in. A faction of the Colombos had allied with the Russian mob, and capo-turned-informant Michael Franzese has claimed he personally taught them how to run a sophisticated gasoline bootlegging racket to siphon hundreds of millions of dollars by evading state and federal fuel taxes.
The world of Russian mobsters in ’80s and ’90s Brighton Beach was small, with many cross-connections—and connections to Trump. Consider David Bogatin, a career scammer who bought five units in Trump Tower directly from Trump. Bogatin was convicted in 1987 of a gasoline bootleg/tax fraud. He fled New York and was returned to the U.S. in 1993 for resentencing. His crew was allegedly commanded by Vyacheslav Ivankov, who also resided briefly in Trump Tower and reportedly had, in his personal phone book, the number to the Trump Organization.
Ivankov, known as “Yaponchik” (“Little Japanese”) and reputed to have ties to Russian intelligence services, began operating in Trump Tower in 1992. He was allegedly sent by Semion Mogilevich, reputed to be Russia’s “Boss of Bosses” to organize and lead those same Brighton Beach mobsters Franzese said were the “best partners I ever had.”
Ivankov was hard to catch, but the feds eventually tracked him, three years later, to the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City, which was ever a Mecca for mobsters and money launderers.
When the FBI arrested Ivankov, the agent handling the matter described the bust in curiously diplomatic terms: “This is not a huge blow from the standpoint on the impact of the day-to-day operations of the Russian mob tomorrow or week from now,” James Kallstrom, then assistant director of the New York FBI office, told the Washington Post. “We didn’t go out and arrest 300 people and seize property. But it’s a shot across their bow.”
Just why Kallstrom’s FBI “didn’t go out and arrest 300 people and seize property,” but instead wanted only to “send a message,” was not clear. Kallstrom, remember, made his bones in the Mafia Commission case, is now a regular on Fox News, cheering for Trump and, not too long ago, exalting Comey’s ouster.
The Russian gangsters didn’t exactly cower. David Bogatin’s brother, Jacob Bogatin, partnered directly with Mogilevich as he bribed his way onto the Toronto Stock Exchange and ran up a penny stock with a fake company called YBM Magnex in an epic pump-and-dump scam operated from a Pennsylvania office. Indicted in Philadelphia in 2003, he was not extradited and remains in Moscow.
During the Clinton years, the FBI’s focus shifted from organized crime to terrorism and national security. But many of the same players remained in the game. Scarpa, by then in prison, was enlisted to dig up terrorism information—as was another mobster-turned-informant, Russia-born Felix Sater.
The Russians and the Feds
Sater was a stockbroker in 1993 when he stabbed a man in the face with a broken margarita glass during a bar brawl. After a year in prison, he went into the stock swindling business with members of the Genovese and Bonnano crime families, pleading guilty secretly in 1998 in a $40 million RICO case.
And then Sater’s case disappeared from the docket.
Sater changed his name to Satter and went to work as a federal informant in terrorism cases. In 2002, he was hired as Chief Operating Officer of the Bayrock Group, operating from Trump Tower and in partnership with Trump. The company would go on to defraud investors of about half a billion dollars, according to various lawsuits. And the feds, including FBI Director Robert Mueller, stood by and let it happen.
Sater’s FBI handler, Leo Taddeo, told a judge in the case that he “was well familiar with the crimes of Sater and [Sater’s] father, a Mogilevich crime syndicate boss.”
He did not respond to City Paper’s request for an interview.
Attorney General Loretta Lynch (who as U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York had overseen Sater’s stock fraud bust) said Sater “provided valuable and sensitive information” for more than 10 years and that his work had been “crucial to national security and the conviction of over 20 individuals, including those responsible for committing massive financial fraud and members of La Cosa Nostra.”
By 2012, federal judges were ordering the civil complaints sealed, saying they endangered Sater’s life. One of the plaintiffs’ lawyers, Richard Lerner, filed a remarkable writ of certiori with the U.S. Supreme Court, calling out the decade-long cover-up, wondering why the government would protect a criminal of his stature while he committed new crimes under Donald Trump’s name.
The Questions That Linger
As with the Scarpa cases of more than two decades before, the Sater/Trump cases implicate high Justice Department officials in a conundrum: People were injured because they put a career criminal on the street in hopes of snaring others, and stood by quietly as he partnered with Trump to allegedly multiply his frauds.
Trump has said he hardly knows who Sater is. “If he were sitting in the room right now, I really wouldn’t know what he looked like,” Trump testified in a 2013 video deposition for a civil lawsuit. This, even though he had dispatched Sater to chaperone his son, Don Jr., and daughter Ivanka around Moscow for a 2006 scouting trip. And even though Sater contributed the maximum amount allowed to Trump’s campaign, and visited the candidate at Trump Tower last summer.
These and many other examples of Trump’s close proximity to criminality certainly brought Trump to the attention of top federal law enforcers many times over the past four decades. That he has never before faced a publicly known criminal investigation, despite multiple documented instances of money-laundering and fraud, raises an obvious question: Was Trump enlisted as some kind of asset for federal law enforcement, as he obviously volunteered to be way back in 1980?
Comey should know all about Trump’s connections. He worked as deputy chief of the criminal division in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan from 1987-1993, during the peak of Giuliani’s career-making (and Trump-connected) mob take-downs, and took over as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York in 2002, just as Sater took over Bayrock and moved into Trump Tower—and just as Mueller settled into his chair as FBI director.
The reporting on Mueller’s investigation has so far spotlighted his potential conflicts of interest as a lawyer with Wilmer Hale, the powerhouse Washington firm he’s been with since his FBI stint. Wilmer represents Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump, the president’s son-in-law and daughter; Paul Manafort, the lobbyist and former Trump campaign chairman; and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, all of whom have Russian ties.
On May 23, federal ethics officials cleared Mueller to move ahead as special counsel, saying he was not involved in the firm’s work with those clients.
There is no similar process for vetting any conflicts Mueller may have because of his previous roles in the Justice Department. In the past, congressional investigators have watchdogged him, as in 1991, when Sen. Kerry badgered Mueller about his lackadaisical BCCI investigation.
On the Trump investigation, Mueller reportedly intends to make sure congressional investigators give him the lead.
As special counsel, Mueller has broad investigative power, but he’s under no obligation to reveal the results of any part of the investigation that does not yield criminal charges.
And, of course, there is no guarantee Mueller will even be around to conduct an investigation. On June 19, Trump’s spokesman, Sean Spicer, reminded reporters that Rosenstein holds his job at Trump’s pleasure.
If getting rid of Trump is necessary to the functioning of the United States as a nation, understanding the full extent the Justice Department’s involvement with both Trump and Russian operatives over the past several decades might be even more necessary.
After all, Trump’s rise in politics was fueled in part by a general distrust in America’s institutions, from Congress to the banking sector to the criminal justice system itself.
But Mueller’s history as a lawman and prosecutor, and the FBI’s tendency to protect criminals, makes it far from certain that such a reckoning is likely soon. There is the looming possibility that, at some point, there will be one cover-up too many.
Mueller probe could draw focus to Russian crime operations
And as the team looks for any financial entanglements of Trump associates and relationships with Russian officials, its focus could land again on the intertwining of Russia’s criminal operatives and its intelligence services. Russian organized crime …and more »
trump russian money – Google News
Americans are observing Independence Day, a federal holiday marking the United States’ independence from Britain. As millions of people celebrate America’s 241st birthday throughout the U.S. with traditional fireworks displays parades, concerts, cookouts and other activities, law enforcement agencies are taking new and traditional approaches to keep celebrants safe. In the northeastern city of Boston, Massachusetts, where the American Revolutionary War began, police are deploying a tethered drone for the first time to capture aerial views of the 500,000 people who are expected to gather for the city’s fireworks display. New York City police are placing dozens of sand-filled trucks near popular viewing sites during its fireworks show and other events. Officials say the trucks are being deployed in response to the Bastille Day massacre last July, when 86 people were killed by a terrorist who plowed a truck into a crowd during a fireworks show in Nice, France. In Washington, authorities are also preparing for vehicle-related attacks during the National Independence Day Parade, the Smithsonian Folk Life Festival and a fireworks show on the National Mall. The National Park Service has placed large fences around the Mall and established security checkpoints for people entering the area. President Donald Trump celebrates the holiday by hosting a cookout for military families, followed by a viewing of the fireworks show for the families and White House staffers. Trump wished holiday revelers well with a tweet Tuesday that included a video of a new worship song that was named after his campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again.” The song premiered at a Washington evangelical Christian rally Saturday that was co-sponsored by the First Baptist Church of Dallas, a mega church pastored by Robert Jeffress, a staunch supporter of the president. Trump praised the church choir that sang the song, saying “Your music honors our heroes more than words will ever do.” But the song was criticized by Jonathan Aigner, Director of Music Ministries in a Presbyterian Church USA congregation. “Pledging allegiance to God and to America in the same breath, melding together the kingdom of God and self, they pray blasphemous prayer to a red, white, and blue Jesus,” Aigner wrote in a blog post. The July 4th celebration takes on new meaning for nearly 15,000 immigrants. They will be sworn in as new citizens in more than 65 naturalization ceremonies across the country, a reminder the country has attracted immigrants since its inception. The ceremonies come at a difficult time for those who want to immigrate, as the Trump administration institutes a scaled-back partial travel ban that places new restrictions on citizens of six Muslim-majority countries who want to enter the U.S. A record number of people are traveling to commemorate the holiday this year. More than 44 million Americans are traveling at least 50 miles from their homes between Friday and Tuesday, according to the American Automobile Association. History On July 4, 1776, representatives of the 13 American colonies officially adopted the Declaration of Independence announcing the severing of ties with Britain. The rebellion began the previous year and would continue until the United States and Britain signed the Treaty of Paris in 1783, which formally recognized the independence of the United States of America. Although the Declaration of Independence states, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” the document was drafted by Thomas Jefferson, a slave owner who later became the third U.S. president. Jefferson was not the only slave owner to sign the document. About one-third of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, from the north and the south, owned or had owned slaves. George Washington, who also signed the decree and later became the country’s first president, owned nearly 125 slaves, whom he freed in his will. John Adams, the second president and Washington’s vice president, did not own slaves and supported a gradual process of abolishing slavery. Slavery in the United States was not outlawed until the Civil War ended nearly 80 years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
Voice of America
BERLIN In their campaign program for the German election, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives have dropped the term “friend” in describing the relationship with the United States.
Four years ago, the joint program of her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and its Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), referred to the United States as Germany’s “most important friend” outside of Europe.
The 2013 program also described the “friendship” with Washington as a “cornerstone” of Germany’s international relations and talked about strengthening transatlantic economic ties through the removal of trade barriers.
But the words “friend” and “friendship” are missing from the latest election program – entitled “For a Germany in which we live well and happily” – which Merkel and CSU leader Horst Seehofer presented on Monday ahead of a Sept. 24 election.
Instead, the United States is described as Germany’s “most important partner” outside of Europe. CDU officials were not immediately available to comment on the change in wording.
The change in wording underscores how relations between Berlin and Washington have deteriorated since U.S. President Donald Trump entered the White House in January.
During his campaign for the presidency, Trump said that Merkel was “ruining” Germany with migration policies he described as “insane”.
He has repeatedly denounced Germany’s trade surplus with the United States, accused Berlin and other European partners of owing “massive amounts of money” to NATO, and unsettled western partners with his decision last month to pull out of the Paris climate accord..
A survey by the Pew Research Center last week showed that just 35 percent of Germans have a favorable view of the United States, down from 57 percent at the end of President Barack Obama’s term.
Merkel is due to host Trump and other leaders at a G20 summit in Hamburg later this week.
In place of the 2013 passage about strengthening economic ties, the 2017 program refers to historical U.S. support for Germany after World War Two and in the run-up to German reunification.
The new CDU/CSU election program also repeats a line that Merkel used in a speech in Munich in late May after a difficult summit of G7 leaders, where Trump resisted pressure from six other nations to stay in the Paris agreement.
“The times in which we could fully rely on others are, to a certain extent, in the past. We Europeans must take our fate into our own hands more decisively than we have in the past,” the program reads.
While affirming Germany’s commitment to the NATO military alliance, the program says that the EU must be in a position to defend itself independently if it wants to survive in the long run.
It also adds a special section entitled “Germany and France as the Motor of Europe” which vows to “reinvigorate the friendship” between the two countries.
“We are ready, together with the new French government, to further develop the euro zone step by step, for example through the creation of its own monetary fund,” it reads.
But it also rules out the mutualization of debt in Europe and says that “solidarity” will only be possible if EU countries stick to the rules of the bloc’s Growth and Stability Pact.
(Reporting by Noah Barkin, editing by Larry King)
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The last few days of June were hectic across the broad expanse of Russia as demonstrations and protest marches filled the streets of cities and towns in a demonstration of the dissatisfaction of the Russian public, primarily the young, with the levels of corruption in the Russian political and economic systems. There had been extended demonstrations and protests against corruption earlier across Russia in May 2017.
These were a reaction to the airing of a documentary on the subject which highlighted the corrupt gains of Prime Minister Medvedev. The documentary was created by Russian opposition politician and 2018 presidential candidate Alexei Navalny and his Fund for the Fight Against Corruption.
BRONX, NY — A police officer was fatally shot early Wednesday as she sat in a command vehicle in New York, authorities said.Miosotis Familia, 48, was shot just after midnight while she and her partner were sitting in a police command vehicle in the Bronx. She was taken to St. Barnabas Hospital, where she died, the New York Police Department said.