Morning Notes: Cohen, Privatization, Butina, David Pecker, the new Attorney General in New York

Morning Notes:

  • Michael Cohen was sentenced to three years in federal prison.  He is likely to serve about 85% of that.  It is still possible for him to agree to cooperate with prosecutors.  It appears that he was willing to provide information about other people’s crimes, but not willing to talk about his own.  The Southern District of New York requires cooperators to reveal all crimes, not just those selected by the defendant.
  • Mariia Butina has agreed to cooperate with prosecutors.  I have no idea what that means since they are evidently planning to deport her back to Russia.  I can’t imagine that she would provide useful information and then go back to Russia.  The Russians, including Putin, tried to claim that they didn’t have any idea who Butina was, but the Russian embassy had a lot of contact with her while she has been incarcerated.
  • Robert Reich is warning that the Republicans are going to try to force through privatization of more government services before they leave office.
  • If Teresa May is rejected by her party, there will be a new prime minister.
  • A non-prosecution agreement has been reached with David Pecker, the National Enquirer guy who agreed to hide Trump’s affairs by buying and burying the stories.
  • The incoming New York Attorney General has announced that she plans to launch investigations about Trump and his activities.  butina

If White-Collar Crimes and Public Corruption were prosecuted, we wouldn’t even have to deal with Trump and Manafort. They would be in jail.

white collar

public corruption

Catherine Rampell reports that this year the United States is on track to prosecute the fewest white-collar and public corruption crimes on record.  And, it’s not because there aren’t crimes out there to be prosecuted as everyone who reads the news knows.  Syracuse University has published data cited by Rampell indicating that this fiscal year the fewest white-collar prosecutions on record will be persued (1986 is the first year available).  The prosecution of official corruption is almost as bad.  This is rivaled by prosecutions of tax-related frauds.  The charts below don’t even account for population increase.  If they did, the decline would look worse.



Catherine Rampell (8/8/18) How America stopped prosecuting White-Collar crime and public corruption.  Washington Post.

Time Magazine:HBO’s The Sentence Shines a Light on the Devastating Effects of Mandatory Minimum Sentences

As you read this, keep in mind that the people sentenced in the Mueller probe, people who pled guilty of subverting democracy, received weeks in prison.  We are not prosecuting white collar and corporate crimes.

October 16, 2018

Rudy Valdez at first thought the 15-year prison sentence given to his sister Cindy Shank was a clerical error. The judge had probably meant to give her 15 months, he reasoned. Shank, whose sentence was later commuted, had been found guilty of conspiracy on drug charges, related to the crimes of an ex-boyfriend who had died years ago. Valdez says he thought he’d be able to fix it.

But, Valdez says, a quick Google search showed there hadn’t been a mistake. Shank was one of thousands of people in the U.S. sent to prison under mandatory minimum sentences — automatic prison terms mandated by the government. Roughly six years before her conviction, Shank lived in Lansing, Mich., with a boyfriend who dealt drugs and was later killed. She initially faced state charges in 2002 for conspiracy to distribute cocaine, but the case was dropped. In 2007, Shank was married and had two children, with a third on the way, when she was arrested on revived charges of conspiracy in the federal government’s investigation into her boyfriend’s drug enterprise. After a trial that same year, Shank was sentenced to 15 years, the mandatory minimum for her charge, and sent to federal prison after the birth of her third daughter.

Butina reported to be negotiating a plea agreement


NBC (Winter, 11/16/18) is reporting that Mariia Butina is negotiating a plea deal with prosecutors.   Lawyers for Butina and prosecutors asked the judge for two more weeks before going ahead with scheduled hearings because they were negotiating “a potential resolution.”  Butina is facing charges of conspiracy and failing to register as a foreign agent.

On Thursday, Butina’s lawyers asked the court to dismiss the charges against her.  They argued that one of the statutes under which Butina is charged is unconstitutionally vague.  They also argued that she was being charged with two crimes for the same act.  They say the charge of conspiring to act as an agent of a foreign government is duplicating the failure to register charge (Hsu, 11/15/18).

Butina is being charged with helping her ex-boss, Alexander Torshin, “infiltrate politically powerful US. Organizations, including the NRA…”  It is thought that she served as a special assistant to Torshin, a “former Russian senator and deputy head of Russia’s central bank…”  Torshin was sanctioned by the Treasury Department in April of 2018 for having links to organized crimes (Winter, 11/16/18).

Her colleague and domestic partner, Paul Erickson, introduced Butina to influencital people in the Republican Party.  He also sought to organize a meeting between Trump and Alexander Torshin at a May 2016 NRA convention.  Troshin and Butina briefly chatted with Donald Trump Jr. during a dinner at the convention (Hsu, 11/15/18).

The Russian government has been active in trying to get Butina released.  There have been six consular visits to her in jail, four diplomatic notes, two personal complaints by Sergey Lavrov to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and the official Kremlin Twitter account made Butina’s face its avatar (Hsu, 11/15/18).

Hsu, Spencer S.  (11/15/18)  Maria Butina, alleged Russian agent, asks U.S. court to dismiss charges as unconstitutional.”  The Washington Post.

Winter, Tom  (11//16/18)  “Alleged Russian operative Mariia Butina negotiating with prosecutors.  Washington Post.


Podcast Commentaries: Trump, Inc. and Intercept, Chris Hedges, House Investigations and Christian Fascists


Commentators on the podcast, Trump, Inc., are saying that high level Democrats feel that it is necessary to take it slowly and carefully when they start investigating Trump.  Evidently, they are afraid of looking like the Republicans conducting Bengazi.  What is the matter with Democrats?  How did they become so gutless?  Doesn’t anybody care anymore what’s right?

As I said days ago, I didn’t vote for the Democrats so they could be nice.  I didn’t vote for them so they could compromise with the Republicans.  There is no way to compromise with the Republicans.  I want Trump et. al. investigated.

Podcast: Trump, Inc. “The Emolument Suit Against Trump That is Moving Ahead.”

This is an essential podcast.

Podcast: Intercepted.  Chris Hedges on elections, “Christian Fascists” and the Rot Within the American System.”  November 7, 2018.

I just recently made a yearly contribution supporting the Intercept.  If you’re tired of listening to the same old rehash of stories on Cable News, try the Intercept.  Always interesting, always challenging, always a different take.

Just Posting from Yesterday: November 13, 2018

The Washington Post is reporting that hate crimes rose 17% last year.

The New York Times is reporting that shortly after the murder of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi, one of the kill team phoned and instructed his superior to “tell your boss.”  They are not certain that this was Prince Mohammed bin Salman, but it is likely.

One of the suspects identified by Turkey in the murder, has been closely identified with bin Salman, three others are linked by witnesses to bin Salman’s security detail.  A fifth man, the doctor, “holds senior positions in the Saudi Interior Ministry and medical establishment.” (NYT, 10/17/18)

CNN has filed a lawsuit in Federal District Court to reinstate the White House credentials of Jim Acosta (NYT 11/13/18).

Jerome Corsi, a conspiracy theorist and associate of Roger Stone, and said that he expects to be indicted by Mueller for lying to investigators.  In a UTube live stream, he whined about his age and asked listeners for money to cover his legal fees.  Corsi has said that he believes he committed no crime.