CAFE Brief 05/24: Pelosi v. Trump, Manafort’s banker indicted, and Trump’s courtroom losses

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CAFE Brief 05/24: Pelosi v. Trump, Manafort’s banker indicted, and Trump’s courtroom losses

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Over the past few days, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi clashed with President Trump over accusations of a cover-up, a banker was indicted for allegedly bribing Paul Manafort for a job in the Trump administration, and Trump lost two court battles to block congressional subpoenas. Let’s dive in!

WASHINGTON, DC – MAY 22: U.S. Speaker of the House Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) speaks to members of the media

Pelosi v. Trump

Following a closed-door Democratic leadership meeting on Wednesday morning, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters that the caucus “believe[s] that the president of the United States is engaged in a cover-up.” Angered and frustrated by Pelosi’s comments, Trump cut short a planned infrastructure meeting with Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. Trump proceeded to hold an impromptu 12-minute news conference in the Rose Garden, in which he decried the Democratic leaders’ claims, saying: “I don’t do cover-ups.” He also announced that he would not work with Democrats on legislation until they end their “phony” investigations of him.

The President continued his rant on Twitter, writing in part: “You can’t investigate and legislate simultaneously – it just doesn’t work that way. You can’t go down two tracks at the same time.”

Manafort’s banker indicted

SDNY prosecutors have indicted Stephen Calk, CEO of Federal Savings Bank of Chicago and former economic adviser to Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. Calk is charged with financial institution bribery for allegedly approving $16 million dollars in high-risk loans to former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, in exchange for help obtaining a position in the Trump administration.

Calk allegedly approved Manafort’s first loan of $9.5 million in the summer of 2016 and worked on securing a second loan of $6.5 million after Trump was elected. During Manafort’s 2018 trial for bank and tax fraud, Federal Savings Bank of Chicago officers testified that the process by which the loans in question were obtained was unusual. While it’s unclear if the Calk case is one of Mueller’s 14 criminal referrals, legal experts say it likely arises out of the Special Counsel’s investigation.

Trump’s courtroom losses

U.S. District Court Judge Edgardo Ramos dealt the second significant blow this week to President Trump’s legal strategy of stonewalling Congress. Judge Ramos ruled that Deutsche Bank and Capital One must comply with the subpoenas issued by the House Financial Services and Intelligence committees—seeking years of Trump’s financial records. During the hearing, Judge Ramos noted that the subpoenas were “undeniably broad,” but “the power of Congress to conduct investigations is inherent in the legislative process.” Trump is expected to appeal the decision.

The ruling comes on the heels of U.S. District Court Judge Amit Mehta’s rulingon Monday, rejecting arguments from the President’s lawyers that congressional subpoenas for eight years of Trump’s financial records from accounting firm Mazars USA were “overly broad” and served “no legitimate legislative function.”

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit has granted joint request filed by Trump and the House requesting an expedited appeal of Judge Mehta’s ruling against Trump.

In a surprising revelation, NBC News reported on Wednesday that Wells Fargo and TD Bank have already begun to comply with the House Financial Services Committee’s subpoenas seeking information about the institutions’ dealings with the Trump Organization.

White House Communications Director Hope Hicks (2nd L) calls for no more questions as US President Donald Trump speaks to reporters aboard Air Force One while departing Manila on November 14, 2017.

What else

  • The Justice Department reached an agreement with the House Intelligence Committee to begin providing the Committee with counterintelligence material from Mueller’s investigation in exchange for postponing the Committee’s planned “enforcement action” against the Department.
  • The House Judiciary Committee issued subpoenas to former White House Communications Director Hope Hicks and former Deputy White House Counsel Annie Donaldson, seeking documents and their testimony at hearings in June.
  • New York state lawmakers passed a bill to close a loophole in the state’s double-jeopardy law — allowing state prosecutors in certain circumstances to pursue a case against someone who has received a presidential pardon for a federal conviction — and another bill that allows the commissioner of the New York Department of Taxation and Finance to release state tax returns to congressional committees. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has indicated that he would sign both bills.
  • In an internal Department of Defense memorandum obtained by the The Washington Post, acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan has ordered new restrictions on how the Pentagon informs Congress about international military operations, drawing concern and criticism from both sides of the political aisle.
  • U.S. District Court Chief Judge Beryl Howell unsealed five search warrant applications filed by Mueller against Michael Cohen, revealingthat Cohen exchanged over 230 phone calls and 950 text messages with Andrew Intrater, business associate and cousin of Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg, who has ties to President Vladimir Putin. Parts of the newly unsealed warrant applications are redacted as federal prosecutors continue to investigate matters relating to Cohen’s campaign finance crimes.
  • Prosecutors in the Eastern District of Virginia have charged WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange with 17 new criminal counts, including violations of the Espionage Act and unlawful receipt of sensitive information. The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press released a statementwarning that “criminaliz[ing] the receipt and publication of classified information poses a dire threat to journalists.”

Further reading

  • “Special counsel’s team hesitant about Mueller testifying publicly, part of hold up securing testimony,” CNN, 5/21/19
  • “Appeals court refuses to stay Mueller grand jury subpoena for Roger Stone associate Andrew Miller,” The Washington Post, 5/21/19
  • “Confidential draft IRS memo says tax returns must be given to Congress unless president invokes executive privilege,” The Washington Post, 5/21/19
  • “Putin out-prepared Trump in key meeting, Rex Tillerson told House panel,” The Washington Post, 5/22/19
  • “FBI has seen significant rise in white supremacist domestic terrorism in recent months,” CNN, 5/23/19

Stay Informed,

Adrienne Cobb & the CAFE team

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