Thursday, March 16, 2017

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio Will Not Be Prosecuted For Campaign Fraud, Says Interim Acting U.S. Attorney Joon Kim

The timing of the firing of Preet Bharara in President Trump's home turf, New York City, and the announcement that NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio will not be prosecuted for campaign fraud, smells of something like a deal Trump made with someone being invessstigated by Preet. Doesn't it?

Many people believe that Mayor Bill is guilty of what he was accused of. We still have our vote, so let's make sure that he does not get a second term.

Betsy Combier
Editor, NYC Rubber Room Reporter
Editor, New York Court Corruption
Editor, National Public Voice
Editor, NYC Public Voice
Editor, Inside 3020-a Teacher Trials

No Charges for De Blasio in Fundraising Probe, Prosecutors Say

Mayor Bill de Blasio

NEW YORK CITY — The federal and local prosecutors will not bring criminal charges against Mayor Bill de Blasio or his team in connection to a campaign probe, the acting U.S. Attorney and Manhattan District Attorney announced Thursday.
"After careful deliberation, given the totality of the circumstances here and absent additional evidence, we do not intend to bring federal criminal charges against the Mayor or those acting on his behalf relating to the fundraising efforts in question," Acting U.S. Attorney Joon Kim, the former deputy for Preet Bharara who took over the top seat after Bharara was fired by President Donald Trump on Saturday, said in a statement.
"Although it is rare that we issue a public statement about the status of an investigation, we believe it appropriate in this case at this time, in order not to unduly influence the upcoming campaign and Mayoral election.”
The Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance released a letter to the New York State Board of Elections that explained that the mayor's conduct appears to have violated "the intent and spirit of the laws" the would not be seeking criminal charges because was following his lawyer's advice.
"After extensive investigation, not withstanding the [Board of Election's] view that the conduct here may have violated the Election Law, this office has determined that the parties involved cannot be appropriately prosecuted, given their reliance on the advice of counsel."
The U.S. Attorney's office, in conjunction with the FBI, had been investigating the mayor's fundraising for his 2013 election campaign, an effort to get democrats elected to seats upstate during the 2014 State Senate race, as well as his Campaign for One New York — the mayor's nonprofit that came under fire for steering money from donors into pet projects such as his Universal Pre-K initiative and others.
During the course of the investigation, investigators "conducted a thorough investigation into several circumstances in which Mayor de Blasio and others acting on his behalf solicited donations from individuals who sought official favors from the City, after which the Mayor made or directed inquiries to relevant City agencies on behalf of those donors," Kim said.
"In considering whether to charge individuals with serious public corruption crimes, we take into account, among other things, the high burden of proof, the clarity of existing law, any recent changes in the law, and the particular difficulty in proving criminal intent in corruption schemes where there is no evidence of personal profit," Kim added.
The Campaign for One New York also steered money toward state senate races in an attempt to win a Democratic majority, according to Vance's letter to the BOE.
On WNYC's Brian Lehrer show, the mayor defended his conduct.
"I've said consistently that we acted appropriately. We acted lawfully," he said. "We held ourselves to a very high standard and we will continue to."
He denied the Manhattan District Attorney's assertion that his fundraising violated state fundraising statutes.
"The law was quite clear and we have respected that law throughout," de Blasio said.
Check back for updates.

Preet Bharara

You’re fired!Why did Donald Trump sack Preet Bharara after saying he could keep his job?

The US attorney hints that the president may have dismissed him to obstruct an investigation
The Economist;Democracy in America
IN HIS fourteen seasons on “The Apprentice”, a television show testing contestants’ business acumen and mettle, Donald Trump developed a signature line for dismissing hapless aspirants. Every time he let somebody go with his trademark "you're fired!", Mr Trump offered at least a few words of critique. “I just don’t want somebody running one of my companies that’s going to be beaten up so badly”, he told one contestant. “You’ve been lazy”, he barked at another, “you’ve been nothing but trouble”.
But on March 11th, when Mr Trump requested resignation letters from 46 US attorneys, he offered no explanation for dumping Preet Bharara, a seven-year veteran of the southern district of New York. It is hardly unusual for presidents to replace US attorneys, lawyers tasked with ensuring “that the laws be faithfully executed” in the 94 federal districts they oversee. A change of party in the White House typically inspires federal prosecutors to issue letters of resignation. In 1993, Bill Clinton fired them all in one day.
But Mr Bharara was a unique case: the Indian-born prosecutor known for his toughness and for remaining untethered to politics or party had been assured by the president-elect that he could keep his job. After a meeting in Trump Tower in late November, Mr Bharara said Mr Trump had asked him “whether or not I’d be prepared to stay on as the United States attorney to do the work as we have done it, independently, without fear or favour for the last seven years”. Mr Bharara’s answer was yes: “I said I would absolutely consider staying on. I agreed to stay on.” The president-elect’s request was echoed, he said, by the man who would soon be his new boss: Jeff Sessions, the incoming attorney-general and head of the Justice department.

When Mr Trump demanded Mr Bharara’s resignation three months later, without indicating why he had undergone a change of heart, the jilted prosecutor did not go quietly. Mr Bharara refused the order to tender his resignation, and a few hours later Mr Trump stepped back into his familiar role as firer-in-chief. “I did not resign”, Mr Bharara wrote on Twitter. “Moments ago I was fired.” Serving as US attorney in New York, he said, “will forever be the greatest honour of my professional life”. Why did Mr Trump renege on his promise to Mr Bharara? There seem to be three possibilities, none of them offering encouraging signs about the Trump administration.

One reason for the abrupt about-face may have been Mr Trump’s favourite source of political edification: Fox News. On March 9th, Fox’s Sean Hannity said holdover lawyers from the Obama era may be “saboteurs” who are leaking damaging information about the administration. He encouraged Mr Trump to clear US attorneys’ offices of Obama appointees who had not already offered their resignations. Two days later, Mr Trump did just that. Spokespersons for the administration insist the plea from Mr Hannity—whose network happened to be under investigation by Mr Bharara for sexual harassment allegations—played no role in inspiring the president’s act; one source told Politico’s Josh Dawsey that the purge had been in the works “for a while”.

Whether or not Mr Hannity’s appeal caught Mr Trump’s eye, Mr Bharara’s reputation as an equal-opportunity prosecutor—sniffing out corruption and pursuing it no matter where it may be or who might be engaging in it—may have begun to worry the new president. Just days after beginning his position in 2009, Mr Bharara did not flinch when presented with evidence that a donor to Senator Chuck Schumer—his former boss and recommender—may have been engaged in bank fraud. The 41-year-old attorney went forward with the investigation. Mr Bharara’s office later successfully prosecuted cases involving Wall Street, organised crime, civil rights and terrorism—as well as high-profile corruption cases against Republican and Democratic politicians. Mr Trump may have reconsidered leaving such a dogged US attorney in place who pays no homage to party. In the event of potential legal trouble, he may have judged it wise to have a friendly, loyal appointee in place.
Or Mr Trump’s concern may have been a good deal more specific and immediate. In a cryptic statement seemingly crafted to provoke speculation and raise questions about the man who fired him, Mr Bharara tweeted this on March 12: “By the way, now I know what the Moreland Commission must have felt like.” The reference was lost on no one who has watched New York state politics over the past several years. In 2014, New York’s Democratic governor, Andrew Cuomo, disbanded the Moreland Commission, the very ethics watchdog he had set up nine months earlier and which had begun investigating Democratic Party fundraising lapses. Mr Cuomo’s move provoked wide consternation and an investigation from Mr Bharara’s office, though no charges were filed.

For Mr Bharara to analogise his own firing to the dismantling of the Moreland Commission is to hint that he may have begun an investigation into activity of interest to the president—perhaps even of something the president himself may have done. A congressman from Michigan, John Conyers, said Mr Bharara’s tweet could be a sign he had been looking into “a range of potential improper activity emanating from Trump Tower and the Trump campaign, as well as entities with financial ties to the president or the Trump organisation”. The puzzling firing, in other words, may have been designed to cut an inquiry by Mr Bharara off at the pass. 

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