Americas

“Bribery for Pardon”: Justice Department investigating the potential scheme at White House
Americas

“Bribery for Pardon”: Justice Department investigating the potential scheme at White House

US Justice Department is investigating a potential “bribery for pardon” scheme at the White House. The stirring news was made public on Tuesday after unsealing of a court filing. Though the documents redacted don’t specifically name President Donald Trump, the questions and doubts point directly to the highly controversial President as he is moving towards end of his term. This comes as president is reportedly coming up with a sweeping number of pardons before leaving White House next month. 

The Justice Department investigation says that an individual offered “a substantial political contribution in exchange for a presidential pardon or reprieve of sentence.” According to the document, two individuals/ officials acted as lobbyists to offer pardon and secure it in the alleged “bribery for pardon” scheme. The names haven’t been made public and are blacked out in the released documents. However, the justice department have said that no federal official is subject of investigation to determine if money was funneled to “buy” presidential pardon. 

President Trump responded on his favorite social media platform Twitter to the media release with his favorite phrase “Pardon investigation is Fake News”.  

The 20 pages long document was unsealed by court for Washington DC. Few pages have been redacted completely, indicating the chances of ongoing investigation getting jeopardized. Records show the review made by Chief Judge Beryl Howell in August regarding a request by prosecutors to make documents accessible for the ongoing investigation. 

The court records reveal that by this year’s summer end, a filter team at White House was responsible for ensuring that prosecutors don’t get hold of any evidence regarding the whole scheme. The team had over 50 digital devices – iPhones, iPads, laptops, computer drives and thumb drives – which were confiscated after investigators raided the unidentified offices. Devices reveal emails that provide evidence of criminal activity of secret lobbying scheme that accepted bribe in return of presidential pardon.

President Trump has been stirring up Washington by going on a pardoning spree close to the end of his presidency, including pardoning Roger Stone, his long time political adviser who lied to Congress to protect Trump’s interests in 2016. Further, last week he had pardoned Michael Flynn, his former national security adviser. President is reportedly planning more pardons in coming weeks, which include his children, close aids and family members. 

Who all are appealing to Trump for pardon?

Close associates to Trump are making appeals in order to obtain pardon before he leaves the White House. This list of associates who are seeking preemptive pardons includes Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal attorney who is leading his legal battle to overturn election results. 

Since election, Trump has been sharing his deeply rooted desire to offer preemptive pardons to several close aides, including his children, son in law Jared Kushner, and Giuliani. These are those who have been standing close to Trump, aiding his all activities and backing them, and who are in high probability to face legal charges now that Trump has been voted out. 

So can Trump pardon his children preemptively?

This is one big question that is ready to stir up the presidential history of America. This, and Trump’s ambitious desire to pre-pardon himself. This, if done, will be unprecedented, like many other actions by President Trump, in the constitutional history of America. Constitution does not have a clear clause as to whether it can be done. But it is to be noted that presidential pardons bear no effect on civil proceedings and state court cases. They also can’t stop Congress leading the investigations, which in this case would be led by the Democrats in House. Most of Trump’s current cases are under investigation by Manhattan district attorney Cyrus Vance. 

Counting down the days to Trump’s exit from White House, but the drama doesn’t seem to cease. As the Justice Department continues its investigations regarding the bribery for pardon scheme, who next gets Trump’s pardon will be interesting to watch. 

Dr. Scott Atlas, Misinformed Covid-19 Special Advisor Drops Towel In Trump Administration
Americas

Dr. Scott Atlas, Misinformed Covid-19 Special Advisor Drops Towel In Trump Administration

Dr. Scott Atlas, the trusted Covid advisor of Donald Trump’s office has finally resigned. He was the special advisor to the Trump on coronavirus. While exiting from the position, he did say that he ‘totally believe in the workings of science and evidence, with no political consideration or influence,’ his stance to question the use of masks has been rather hilarious. 

His appointment was jarring because of his constant rebuttals with the other members of the special Covid-19 taskforce. There was also the strange part of his previous employment as a radiologist. He was a senior fellow at Stanford University‘s conservative Hoover Institution before he joined the task force in August 2020. Atlas is said to have been against lockdowns and supported herd immunity as a strategy to deal with the outbreak.

His statement in the social media over Michigan skirmish was completely a thoughtful outburst. It was further proven that, Atlas might have been giving misguiding information to Donald Trump who was acting on it thereafter. He was accused of doing so by public health officials – including top infectious diseases expert Anthony Fauci.

While Atlas has been saying that his approach was to create minimal harm and quick recovery, academicians in Stanford University have said that all his advice did was spread misinformation, away from making use of science and evidence.

Meanwhile, President-elect Joe Biden has taken a markedly different stance to his predecessor, urging everyone to wear masks and pledging a “bedrock of science” to his policy on tackling the pandemic.  

An all-female White House communications team: Biden does the unprecedented
Americas

An all-female White House communications team: Biden does the unprecedented

An all-female White House: President-elect Joe Biden and Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris did the unprecedented on Sunday by announcing an all-female senior communications team at White House, something that had never been done in Washington’s history. 

Joe Biden gave statement, “I am proud to announce today the first senior White House communications team comprised entirely of women. These qualified, experienced communicators bring diverse perspectives to their work and a shared commitment to building this country back better.”

The White House communications team will be led by Kate Bedingfield as White House communications director, who was also deputy campaign communications director for Joe Biden. Press Secretary in Biden’s administration would be Jen Psaki, who was former President Barack Obama’s White House communications director. 

Symone Sanders and Ashley Etienne will be top press aides to Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. Sanders will be senior adviser and chief spokesperson to VP Harris. Etienne will be VP’s communications director.

As promised that his administration would be diverse to reflect the true essence of America, the recent announcements of his communications team and choice of key positions represent just the same. Unlike, the appointments of cabinet positions, the press office appointees don’t require a Senate confirmation. 

Pili Tobar will be the deputy White House communications director. She had served as coalitions’ communications director on the campaign. Principal deputy press secretary will be Karine Jean-Pierre. She was a senior advisor on Biden campaign and had also served as Harris’s chief of staff later.  

First Lady, Dr. Jill Biden’s communications director will be Elizabeth Alexander, who was senior adviser at Biden campaign. 

These women who will hold some of the most visible and active roles of administration, many of them being women of colour. VP-elect Kamala Harris will make history as America’s first female vice president. She said in a statement about the new communications team, “Our country is facing unprecedented challenges – from the coronavirus pandemic to the economic crisis, to the climate crisis, and a long overdue reckoning over racial injustice. To overcome these challenges, we need to communicate clearly, honestly, and transparently with the American people, and this experienced, talented, and barrier-shattering team will help us do that. These communications professionals express our commitment to building a White House that reflects the very best of our nation.” 

CNN Video surfaces on possible path for Trump 2020 win
Americas

CNN Video surfaces on possible path for Trump 2020 win

CNN Video: CNN aired a possible path for President Trump’s election win a while back. The video is making the rounds again on Black Friday. As more and more Americans are made aware of the historical fraud, several states could flip to Trump despite the fraudulent numbers produced by Dominion Voting Systems and massive voter fraud. If the current White House tenant keeps Pennsylvania, he can get 270 votes with Arizona, North Carolina, and Georgia. CNN Video CNN aired a possible path for President Trump’s election win a while back. The video is making the rounds again on Black Friday. As more and more Americans are made aware of the historical fraud, several states could flip to Trump despite the fraudulent numbers produced by Dominion Voting Systems and massive voter fraud. If the current White House tenant keeps Pennsylvania, he can get 270 votes with Arizona, North Carolina, and Georgia. 

Screenshot 2020 11 30 at 11.19.21 AM 1024x533 - CNN Video surfaces on possible path for Trump 2020 win

And Arizona is the surprise of the last few hours: the state worth 11 great voters was initially assigned to Biden, passed to Trump after the recount. The US presidential election is still in the balance. Democratic candidate Joe Biden seemed to have reached the quota of 270 electors necessary to set foot in the White House and would do so with the record of votes never obtained by an American president. But there have been key-US where the votes are still counted and that they will decide the game.

Screenshot 2020 11 30 at 11.19.31 AM - CNN Video surfaces on possible path for Trump 2020 win

After Trump won Pennsylvania, which is worth 20 major voters, he got the 270 electoral votes he needs to reconfirm himself as president of the United States of America. With votes by mail, Trump went from a margin of over 600,000 votes to around 164,000 votes. The uncounted ballots are still about 500,000, but they are almost all from Philadelphia and Allegheny County, where Biden should have a huge advantage that he could make it. In Philadelphia County, Biden leads with 79% of the votes counted in his favor. The recount in Arizona, Nevada, or Georgia, also awarded to President Trump, is calling everything into question. Although the media always lined up against The Donald, are still give Biden as the winner, ignoring a different reality.

Pardoning Flynn, who is next in line? Can Trump pardon himself?
Americas

Pardoning Flynn, who is next in line? Can Trump pardon himself?

President Donald Trump has just pardoned his former National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn, through a tweet, and it has instigated a chain reaction of speculations in Washington DC as to who will be or can be next on Trump’s ‘supposed’ long list of pardons before he leaves White House in eight weeks. And there is a huge conjecture whether President could pardon himself? And if he does, will it be well under his Constitutional powers or will it be regarded as a stretch of his powers well suited for impeachment? 

Trump’s pardoning of Flynn, NSA appointee by Trump himself and was fired just three weeks after appointment, was convicted of lying to FBI regarding his communication with Russian officials, follows jail sentence commutation of another Trump close ally, Roger Stone. 

Trump has been long interested in the President’s power of pardon and dates back to 2017. The keen interest was always associated with questions of pardoning family members, associates and even himself, as told by his close aides. A former official told, “Once he learnt about it, he was obsessed with the power of pardons. I always thought he also liked it because it was a way to do a favour.”

Trump’s interest in pardoning himself explicitly came to view when he tweeted in 2018, “As has been stated by numerous legal scholars, I have the absolute right to PARDON myself, but why would I do that when I have done nothing wrong?”

Though Trump isn’t facing any active criminal investigation, as granted by Constitution that no sitting President can be charged with criminal offence and investigated, the greater question lies that can he actually pardon himself?

Legal experts highlight a rather open-ended clause in constitution regarding President’s rights to pardon. “The president… shall have power to grant reprieves and pardons for offences against the United States, except in cases of impeachment.” This doesn’t set any limits to the power to pardon. There is however one catch, that may come back to haunt President. A Supreme Court ruling that dates back to 1915 says that any pardon carries an automatic accusation of being guilty. This could hamper Trump’s plans to contest the 2024 Presidential elections. Moreover, legal experts also suggest that while there is no substantial exhibit in Constitution that prohibits a President from self-pardoning, a memo written in 1974 by the Office of Legal Counsel states, “Under the fundamental rule that no one may be a judge in his own case, the president cannot pardon himself.” This was written regarding Nixon’s indictment in Watergate scandal. 

Though President can pardon his own associates, it would be an abuse of power and might be an impeachable offence. And this definitely holds true if President moves forward with self-pardoning. 

The names coming forward that might be pardoned by Trump in coming days include his campaign advisers Rick Gates and George Papadopoulos; Steve Bannon, his former strategist; and Elliott Broidy, a fundraiser. But these are just the suggested names, list is far from over with many names circulating, including Trump family members and associates. 

Twitter suspends Pennsylvania Senator after election integrity hearing
Americas

Twitter suspends Pennsylvania Senator after election integrity hearing

Twitter suspends Pennsylvania Senator: The operations Twitter account of Pennsylvania Senator Doug Mastriano, who directed Wednesday’s election integrity recording, has been halted. Senator Mastriano of Pennsylvania’s 33rd District arranged and chaired the conference in the state’s Senate Thursday on election integrity that highlighted an appearance by President Donald Trump.

Conservative critic Jack Posobiec was the first to remark that Senator Mastriano’s campaign account had then been banned by Twitter after the hearing.  Apparently, there has been no reason provided as to why the Twitter account of the Senator was suspended from the Social Network as it happens to millions of users.

During the conference, Senator Mastriano had slammed the election chaos, which he said was completely by scheme. “We move heaven and earth with American dollars to secure elections in Iraq and Afghanistan and elsewhere. We can’t do it in our own state?” Mastriano said. “There’s people in Pennsylvania not interested in safe, secure elections.” Many personalities also asserted that they had beheld what appeared to be firm irregularities with the election. 

The GOP vote calculation observer Justin Kweder introduced a ground-breaking record in which he claimed that hundreds of thousands of mail-in ballots were scored without any proper error. He emphasized that it was impossible for onlookers to see what the workers were doing in any position, due to the fact that operators had raised a barrier that they were required to be behind.

Ironically, Big Tech had also been invited out during the recording by Rudy Giuliani, the former mayor of New York. Giuliani affirmed that Big Tech firms like Twitter and Facebook have banned conservatives and followers of President Trump because “it’s almost as if they’re afraid” that Americans will discover the realities.

Why Michael Morell Might Undermine Biden Peaceful Moves
Americas

Why Michael Morell Might Undermine Biden Peaceful Moves

Michael Morell: The possible appointment of Michael Morell as the top man to run the CIA under the President elect Joe Biden’s presidency doesn’t seem to gathering support from the Senate’s Intelligence Committee. According to a democrat, Morell has been known as a ‘torture apologist’ and his tactics are not in good taste.

Morell has served the previous Barack Obama leadership as CIA deputy director and has twice held the position of the agency’s acting director. Avril Haines is another one in the contenders list for the top position. Many names are coming from the Obama presidency to serve strategic positions. Tom Donilon for example is also being considered for the same position. He has served as Obama’s national security adviser and has deep roots in Biden-world. His brother, Mike Donilon, has already been tapped as a White House senior adviser for the president-elect.

Morell is seen as the best in the lot from Biden’s side. But Morell’s torture and drone strike decisions at the time of the Osama Bin Laden and George W. Bush’s intelligence briefer at 9/11, were criticized. “No torture apologist can be confirmed as CIA director,” Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), a member of the Senate intelligence committee, has said about Morell. “It’s a non-starter.”

Others who know how to get the work done agree with is harsh tactics. Sue Gordon for example feels Morell would ‘bring many strengths: a quick, analytic mind; leadership at every level at the Agency; and a broadened perspective based on his time in the private sector.’ Gordon has served as Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. She has further said that “of the people mentioned for this position” she knew Morell best. Further that, ‘I know him to be committed to the people, the craft, and the delivery of the intelligence the Nation needs.’

Questions are already being raised about Biden’s decision to take on someone who felt that in 2015, ‘the only way to catch the terrorists was to keep the pressure on them.’ Biden who has vowed to undo all warlike conditions created in Trump’s presidency, might have just contradicted his peaceful methods, if he intends to bring in Morell to do the security job of the country.

GSA acknowledges Biden’s win, formal transition kickstarts two weeks after the election results
Americas

GSA acknowledges Biden’s win, formal transition kickstarts two weeks after the election results

GSA acknowledges Biden’s win: Two weeks after the election results, President Donald Trump has finally agreed to commence the formal transition of presidency after GSA (General Services Administration) acknowledges victory of Joe Biden. However, Trump hasn’t conceded the elections results as he vows to continue his contesting of election results. The series of events came after state of Michigan too certified President-elect Joe Biden a winner officially, posing a massive blow to last of Trump camp’s hopes. 

The GSA has informed President-elect that Trump administration is ready to officially commence the formal transition, in a letter sent on Monday afternoon by administrator Emily Murphy. This marks the first step of Trump and his administration acknowledging Biden’s victory. Murphy, who was appointed by Trump, had been under spotlight for not moving forward with the formal acknowledging of Biden’s victory in the November elections leading to a state of confusion and fear of unknown in the country.

In the letter addressed to President-elect Joe Biden Murphy said that she had not been under pressure by White House to delay the transition and that her decision wasn’t based “out of fear or favoritism”. The letter by GSA Administrator formally signs off Biden’s victory as America’s 46th President, a process called ascertainment. This letter will now permit to officially begin the current administration’s co-ordination with the incoming team. This will also sign off millions of funds for transition to the incoming administration.

The letter read, “Please know that I came to my decision independently, based on the law and available facts. I was never directly or indirectly pressured by any Executive Branch official, including those who work at the White House or GSA, with regard to the substance or timing of my decision. To be clear, I did not receive any direction to delay my determination.” 

After GSA’s announcement, Pentagon too assured of providing “support to the Biden team in a professional, orderly, and efficient manner that is befitting of the public’s expectation of the Department and our commitment to national security.” 

Response by Joe Biden’s team 

President-elect Joe Biden’s team has welcomed the democratic step to begin transition process of presidency. Mr. Biden is set to be sworn as President on January 20. 

Statement released by the Biden camp said, “Today’s decision is a needed step to begin tackling the challenges facing our nation, including getting the pandemic under control and our economy back on track.”

Biden’s transition website too has now been changed to a US government dominion.

Meanwhile, Joe Biden has already started with making announcements of his new Cabinet member names. But delayed GSA’s ascertainment had kept the national intelligence data and other government details untouchable to Biden’s team. Ascertainment has now also opened $6.3 billion in government funding to the incoming team. Biden team can now also access office space in various agencies and also use federal resources to carry out background checks on White House staff and Cabinet member picks. 

Biden administration’s announced key members

The key members of Biden’s inner circle whose names were announced on Monday include John Kerry, former US Secretary of State, as the Climate envoy. Climate change fight was one of the key agenda of Joe Biden during elections as he plans to bring major reforms to help fight the global fight. 

Biden’s long-time aide, Antony Blinken has been announced as the Secretary of State. Janet Yellen, former Federal Reserve chair, is going to be the treasure secretary according to sources. Formal announcement of other key posts will be done on Tuesday. 

What did President Trump say?

After GSA, the federal group that has been assigned to mark official beginning of presidential transitions, formally informed Biden camp of starting transition process, Trump wrote on his trusted communication mode, Twitter. He said, “In the best interest of our country, I am recommending that Emily and her team do what needs to be done with regard to initial protocols, and have told my team to do the same.”

It must however be noted that Mr. Trump has still not conceded the elections. He, in fact, continued his old chime saying that he would continue to fight the election result. 

States certify Biden’s victory, slimming Trump’s choices

The latest state to officially certify Joe Biden’s victory is Michigan. Post this GSA announcement was made. With this Trump’s choices to tilt the result have become slimmer, even as more lawsuits filed by Trump camp have been dismissed. Georgia had certified Biden’s victory by a narrow margin on Friday. Pennsylvania too is on the verge of certifying the election results. 

The series of events are a clear indication of Rudy Giuliani led Trump’s conspiracy loaded lawsuits, to thwart democratic election process in the country, are by-gones now and might soon meet their end. 

Trump does not give up: “Will appeal”
Americas

Trump does not give up: “Will appeal”

Trump does not give up: A Pennsylvania federal judge rejected Donald Trump’s lawsuit to suspend the certification of millions of votes in the state. According to Judge Matthew Brann, the case, based on allegations of irregularities, is “unfounded” as no merit legal arguments and speculative accusations were presented to the court. “In the United States of America, this cannot justify depriving a single voter of the right to vote, let alone all voters in its sixth most populous state,” the judge wrote. Joe Biden in Pennsylvania has an 80,000-vote lead. Trump, however, does not give up. “Will appeal!” He tweeted, announcing he will appeal to the Pennsylvania Third Circuit Court to eventually bring the case in front the Supreme Court.

The recount in Georgia

His legal team also called for a new recount in Georgia. After the state was awarded to Biden with a lead of 12,284 votes, compared to about 14,000 votes in the first count. A possible second recount will not be manual but will take place by scanning the cards. For the past 28 years, Georgia had always gone to the Republicans, the last Democratic candidate before Biden to win it was Bill Clinton in 1992. Already on Friday, President Trump received two setbacks. The authorities of Georgia certified the subtle victory by President-elect Joe Biden, and the Michigan Republicans said after a meeting in the White House that they had found nothing to justify the reversal of the vote in their state.

The lost appeals

Trump has already lost or withdrawn about thirty appeals aimed at blocking the proclamation of the Democratic challenger after the presidential elections on November 3, but that in Pennsylvania is perhaps the most significant defeat.

The endless campaign on Twitter

Trump’s rain of tweets is dense. “Dominion-izing the vote,” he writes in bursts: part one, two, and three of conspiracy theories for a vote he does not want to accept. The social network places red labels: “Untrusted content” writes under each presidential tweet. But the discussion is underway. User comments mostly urge Trump to surrender.

 “Why is Joe Biden rapidly forming” a new administration “when my investigators have found hundreds of thousands of illegal votes sufficient to overturn” the presidential outcome “in at least four states, and thus have enough votes to win the election? ” Trump asks. Then he hopes that lawmakers and courts will have the courage to do what necessary to maintain the integrity of our elections and America. “The world is watching,” he adds. 

Trump does not intend to step aside. According to the Washington Post, he could announce his candidacy for the 2024 presidential elections by the end of the year. He would explain to his collaborators that he wanted to remain an “omnipresent force” in politics and the media. Only one president in the history of the United States has managed to get re-elected after being defeated at the end of his first term: it happened to Grover Cleveland in 1892. Except that Cleveland belonged to the Democratic Party and was a strict observer of the American Constitution.

Biden on Twitter

The president elected remains composed. He still tweeted that of election day. The others are measured, one per day, one topic at a time. Calls for the transition, peaceful, at least to begin. “Anyone who wants a Covid-19 test should be able to get one. Period.”

Trump makes futile attempts to overturn the election results as Michigan backs Biden win, narrowing down President’s options
Americas

Trump makes futile attempts to overturn the election results as Michigan backs Biden win, narrowing down President’s options

Trump makes futile attempts to overturn the election results: On Friday, President Donald Trump could be seen as making few of his last but futile and dangerous attempts to overturn the November 3rd Presidential election results – something unprecedented in American history. The desperate desire to stay in White House reflects poorly on his ego and detrimental to the nation which is struggling amid Coronavirus pandemic. 

State of Georgia, after by-hand re-counting, has officially confirmed the victory of Joe Biden on Friday, thereby giving a massive blow to Trump who was hopeful of winning Georgia, the traditionally red state. Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said, “Like other Republicans, I’m disappointed, our candidate didn’t win Georgia’s electoral votes. I live by the motto that numbers don’t lie.” Biden won the state by 12,670 votes, becoming first Democratic candidate to win Georgia since Bill Clinton won in 1992.

Another blow came in as two White House republicans pledged of following normal power transition process and validating the vote. President-elect Joe Biden is scheduled to officially enter the White House as 46th President of United States of America on January 20, 2021. 

President Trump has been making widespread allegations since the voting claiming of rigged elections and has claimed his own victory. He said, “I won, by the way.” The claims have been without any evidence and rejected by election officials. Trump’s administration filed a series of lawsuits in all key states but have since been rejected by courts, making his options skim for further course of action. Trump camp hoped to convince the state legislatures, where Republicans hold power, to ignore the result and announce Trump as winner. 

Overturing of the election result is a long shot with razon thin-chances of any such strategy to work in favour of Mr. Trump, as per Michigan Senate majority leader Mike Shirkey. Michigan is another state that was initially confirmed to remain red but emerged with Biden’s win after a neck-to-neck competition. Shirkey and Michigan’s speaker of House, Lee Chatfield have dismissed any plans to help Trump’s efforts of overturning the Presidential election results. Michigan is a key state where Biden is projected to lead and win by 154,000 votes. 

Shirkey and Chatfield said in a joint press statement post the routine White House meeting, “We have not yet been made aware of any information that would change the outcome of the election in Michigan and as legislative leaders, we will follow the law and follow the normal process regarding Michigan’s electors, just as we have said throughout this election.”

Trump’s attempts in other states are too turning futile. Arizona’s judge has rejected lawsuit filed by the Republican Part in the state. The party was evidently seeking ballot audit in Maricopa county. In Pennsylvania too Trump lost the lawsuit and his bid to reject over 2000 mail-in ballots.

Trump’s trials to tilt the results to his favour are turning futile and sour one after the other. President-elect Joe Biden, who just turned 78, will be the oldest US President in history to take the office in January. 

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