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New York Times

New York Attorney General Investigating Trump Organization In A ‘Criminal Capacity’ 

Letitia James, New York’s Attorney General, has been conducting a civil probe into the Trump Organization for two years now. According to a spokesperson from James’s office, the attorney general is now looking into the company in a “criminal capacity.” 

“We have informed the Trump Organization that our investigation into the organization is no longer purely civil in nature. We are now actively investigating the Trump Organization in a criminal capacity, along with the Manhattan District Attorney. We have no additional comment at this time,” said spokesperson Fabien Levy.

The New York Attorney General’s office initially launched a civil probe into the organization in 2019 after Michael Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer, testified to Congress. The initial probe was meant to investigate whether or not the Trump Organization “inflated the valuations of assets to reduce tax liability.” 

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. has also been pursuing a separate criminal investigation since 2018 into hush money payments made by Cohen during the 2016 presidential campaign. Cohen apparently made hush-money payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels, and Vance’s office began investigating the payments in 2018 to see if they would lead to other potential crimes such as fraud and tax evasion. 

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Both the district attorney and attorney general’s office’s have been crossing paths throughout the past two years due to their separate investigations into Trump, his lawyers, and organization. 

According to CBS News, “in February, Vance’s office issued subpoenas related to Mr. Trump’s Seven Springs Estate, in Bedford, N.Y. In an August 2020 court filing, the New York Attorney General’s office accused the Trump Organization of refusing to produce records sufficient to show how a $21.1 million apparent tax deduction in connection with the Seven Springs conservation easement was reflected on applicable tax returns.” 

James’ office was able to secure several depositions from many Trump Organization executives, including Eric Trump; Donald Trump’s son and executive vice president of the organization. Allen Weisselberg, chief financial officer for the organization, was also recently called to give a deposition. 

Vance’s office has been in contact with Jennifer Weisselberg, who told the media that “investigators with the district attorney’s office have sought information about Allen Weisselberg, and documents related to the organization’s finances and benefits.”

2020 Election Ballot

Attorney General Claims There Is No Evidence Of Widespread Election Fraud

Attorney General William Barr declared on Tuesday that the US Justice Department has uncovered no evidence of any widespread voter fraud that would change the 2020 election outcome, disputing the constant baseless claims from current president Donald Trump that he won his reelection. 

Barr’s comments made to the media reflect a major contradiction from Trump, who’s been trying to block President-elect Joe Biden from beginning a peaceful transition of power since the results for Pennsylvania were initially announced almost a month ago. 

“To date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have affected a different outcome in the election.”

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The comments immediately drew criticism from Trump’s attorneys, who before this point were working with Barr in claims that mail-in voting could be vulnerable to fraud especially considering we’re in the middle of a global health crisis. However, after numerous FBI reviews of specific complaints coming from Trump’s team and various locations, not one single piece of evidence of voter fraud has appeared. 

Trump himself hasn’t directly commented on Barr’s statement, however, his personally attorney Rudy Giuliani and his political campaign released a passionate statement in which they claimed that there “hasn’t been any semblance of an investigation into the president’s complaints,” despite the numerous government organizations and authorities that have claimed investigations occurred to no avail. 

Other administration officials and agencies who spoke out against Trump’s dangerous allegations against America’s democracy were fired almost immediately; which didn’t exactly convince the American people that the president’s claims were valid. Last month Barr issued a directive to all US attorneys which allowed them to pursue any “substantial allegations of voting irregularities” that they felt was necessary.

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That directive memo gave prosecutors the ability to go against a policy that has been long standing within the US’s Justice Department that would normally prohibit any investigation into voter irregularities from occurring before the election is officially called; let alone investigations being performed with no evidence and solely based on the current president’s claims. 

The switch up from the Attorney General, someone who has been riding for the current president in terms of all of his voter suppression and fraud claims, marks a major turning point in the contention over the 2020 election results. Trump himself has continuously taken to twitter and interviews to falsely claim that he won the 2020 election, the results were fraudulent, and Biden won with false votes. 

Despite claims that there are many witnesses who swore under oath that they saw crimes being committed in connection with voter fraud, the Department of Justice hasn’t interviewed a single one of them due to a complete lack of evidence beyond the statements. Trump has still yet to concede, but the transition of powers has already begun taking place, and it’s likely that within the coming weeks the former president will have no choice but to accept defeat and hand the White House over to Biden.

No Justice No Peace Sign

Grand Juror On Breonna Taylor Case Claims Homicide Charges Were Never Offered

A grand juror in the Breonna Taylor case has spoken out against claims made by Kentucky attorney general Daniel Cameron, stating that the jury was never offered homicide charges to consider against the officers involved in the killing of Taylor. 

The grand juror made the anonymous comments after a Louisville judge allowed the panel’s members to speak publicly about the secretive proceedings. The juror didn’t file suit to speak publicly, however, until Cameron announced that no officers would be directly charged for the shooting death of Taylor during a botched narcotics raid that wasn’t even meant to occur at Taylor’s residency. 

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Instead, the grand jury only charged one officer out of the four with endangerment of Taylor’s neighbors due to the fact that some of the dozens of bullets fired hit her neighbors home; but no charges were made for the bullets that hit Taylor. The grand juror claims that when the jury asked about bringing other charges against the officers, they were told “there would be none because prosecutors didn’t feel they could make them stick,” according to the statement

Cameron has also been quite adamant about not allowing the grand jurors to speak about the proceedings, but didn’t appeal the judges ruling either. This could likely be because on September 23rd when Cameron announced the results of the grand jury investigation that resulted in one endangerment charge, he claimed that prosecutors “walked the grand jury through every homicide offense,” a claim that has now been refuted. 

Cameron also claimed that the “grand jury agreed” that the officers who shot Taylor were justified in their returning fire after Kenneth Walker, Taylor’s boyfriend, shot at the officers who barged into their home without any warning or announcement that they were law enforcement. The gun Walker had was legally owned as well. 

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However, the grand juror also refuted these claims and stated that the “panel didn’t agree that certain actions were justified, and grand jurors did not have homicide charges explained to them. The grand jury never heard anything about those laws. Self defense or justification was never explained either.”

Kevin Glowgower is the grand juror’s attorney, who claims that his client’s biggest discrepancy with the Kentucky attorney general is the way that the results were  “portrayed to the public as to who made what decisions and who agreed with what decisions.”

Beyond the statement posted on Tuesday the grand juror has no intention of speaking out further about the cases proceedings. Cameron has only acknowledged that his prosecutors didn’t present homicide charges due to the fact that the two officers who shot and killed Taylor were justified in returning fire after Walker shot them. 

Cameron said Tuesday that it was his decision “to ask for an indictment that could be proven under Kentucky law. Indictments obtained in the absence of sufficient proof under the law do not stand up and are not fundamentally fair to any one.” 

Breonna Taylor was a Black emergency medical technician who was working on the frontlines of the Covid-19 pandemic when she was shot multiple times in her own home while she was sleeping by white police officers who barged into the home. The officers were raiding the home as a part of an ongoing narcotics investigation, however, the officers didn’t announce their identity upon arrival and didn’t find any drugs in the home either. Her death fueled the already burning fires of racial justice in America, as protests against police brutality in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement have been ongoing since the spring.

Police Car

Two Killed And One Injured By Gunman At Jacob Blake Protest

Kenosha police are continuing to search for a suspect seen on video armed with a large AK-47-type firearm, after he killed two people and wounded a third late Tuesday evening. The violence broke out during the third night of protests in Kenosha in response to the shooting of 29-year-old Jacob Blake, a black man who was shot seven times at close range by city police officers. 

As of right now, Blake is alive, but partially paralyzed after the shooting. Directly after the incident videos of Blake getting shot began circulating on social media, sparking even more civil unrest within the Black Lives Matter protests that have been occurring every day nationwide since April. 

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At around 11:45 p.m. Tuesday night, officers responded to reports of shots fired and multiple gunshot victims near 63rd Street and Sheridan Road in Kenosha. When officers arrived they found that two people had been fatally shot and another had been seriously injured. The third victim luckily suffered no life-threatening injuries and is expected to make a relatively quick recovery, according to the Kenosha police department. 

Investigators are still looking into the exact events that transpired Tuesday evening, and are trying to piece together if the shooting was a result of a conflict that broke out between demonstrators and “self-styled militias guarding a gas station.” 

In videos circulating online, a chaotic scene at said gas station is seen unfolding, as a crowd seems to chase away a masked man carrying a large rifle, before another individual knocked him over and took his weapon to avoid any further injuries or potential fatalities. Another video showed a man with a serious arm wound thought to be the third victim who survived the shooting and another video showed a man with severe head injuries being crowded by a group of individuals trying to help him. Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers made a call for the protests to remain peaceful on Tuesday.

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“We cannot allow the cycle of systemic racism and injustice to continue. We also cannot continue to go down this path of damage and destruction.”

Many were quick to point out Evers hypocrisy after he declared a state of emergency and doubled the National Guard presence at the gatherings after making the above statement. Initially, there were 125 guards deployed in Kenosha and on Tuesday there were around 250. The civil unrest has led to 34 fires, and 30 businesses being completely destroyed as a result. 

Police still have said little about what actually happened with Jacob Blake, despite the circulating cell phone video that shows the officer shooting him multiple times while his kids watched from the backseat of his car. Blake’s family and the protesters in Kenosha are calling for the officer who shot Blake to be fired and arrested, and want all other officers present at the scene who did nothing to deescalate the situation to be fired. 

As of right now two Kenosha officers have been placed on administrative leave and are not being identified by the department. The shooting is currently being investigated by the Kenosha County District Attorney, Michael Graveley, and the Wisconsin Justice Department’s division of criminal investigation which will present a formal report of what transpired to Graveley’s office within the next 30 days. 

**UPDATE** 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse has been arrested and charged with the fatal Kenosha shooting

Ukraine Flags

Lev Parnas Implicates Giuliani, Pence, Barr, Nunes, and Trump in Ukraine Scandal

One of the central figures that has emerged in the Ukraine scandal that led to the president’s impeachment is Lev Parnas, an associate of Rudy Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer. Parnas was indicted on federal charges several weeks ago and has since indicated that he is willing to cooperate with Congress’s investigation into allegations that Trump improperly pressured the president of Ukraine to announce an investigation of his political opponent, Joe Biden. On the eve of the House’s transmission of articles of impeachment to the Senate, Parnas sat down with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow to discuss documentary evidence that he had produced, including handwritten notes describing the scheme to coerce President Zelensky into announcing an investigation into the Bidens. 

Parnas’s interview signalled a break from the Trump administration, as he directly blamed several key White House figures, including the attorney general and the vice president, for their culpability in the scheme. While Parnas’s claims have not yet been fully vetted, they corroborate much of the testimony provided by other witnesses who participated in the House’s investigation. Most prominently, Parnas reiterated Gordon Sondland’s claim that “everyone was in the loop;” in other words, according to witnesses, all of the senior Trump administration officials were aware of the scheme as it was being carried out. 

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In addition to providing circumstantial evidence corroborating the narrative that has emerged about the president’s involvement in the extortion plot, Parnas also provided previously-undisclosed evidence, further illuminating the roles of individuals connected with the two governments in attempting to carry out the plan. Parnas, by his own account, personally worked with Rudy Giuliani and others to oust former US ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, who was perceived as interfering in the administration’s scheme. 

Parnas also communicated with a new character in the Ukraine story, Robert Hyde, a controversial Republican congressional candidate who was not publicly known to be connected with the scandal before Parnas’s release of text messages and other documents. Hyde, by Parnas’s account, was “always drunk,” and as such Parnas often did not take his text messages seriously. Nevertheless, Hyde’s recently-revealed correspondence with Parnas drew significant media attention as his texts appeared to include personal threats against the ambassador, who seemed to be under surveillance by suspicious figures. Accordingly, and in an ironic twist, Ukraine has opened an investigation into the alleged surveillance of and threats against the American ambassador, potentially paving the way for the release of further evidence about the scandal down the road.

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According to Parnas, essentially all of the highest-ranking members of the Trump administration as well as other government officials were aware of and at least complicit in the scheme, specifically including the president’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, Vice President Pence, U.S. Representative Devin Nunes, and Attorney General William Barr. According to Parnas, Pence’s trip to Ukraine was canceled as a direct result of Zelensky’s delay in announcing an investigation into the Bidens, Nunes personally knew Parnas despite his claims that they didn’t know each other and was involved in efforts to produce documents denigrating Biden, and Barr must have known about everything that was happening but chose not to do anything about it, despite his position as the head of the Department of Justice. By Parnas’s account, Guiliani definitely had a direct role in carrying out the scheme whereas the other government officials participated in a supporting capacity. 

While Parnas’s claims are explosive, it’s important to keep in mind that not all of them have been fully vetted, and although Parnas produced documents that support some of his claims, some of what he said may be untrue. Though he pled “not guilty” to largely-unrelated federal charges issued last year, Parnas may be lying in order to diminish the appearance of his own culpability in committing illegal acts, or he may be lying for reasons unknown to the general public. While Parnas’s character and his testimony can reasonably be called into question, the voluminous documentation he made publicly available reveals a near-incontrovertible paper trail that strongly supports the general narrative of the administration’s involvement in a corrupt extortion scheme carried out to compromise an American election.