Donald Trump

House Judiciary Committee Requests Documents From Fmr. Trump Staffer Caputo

Former Donald Trump campaign staffer and Western New Yorker Michael Caputo is among the 81 agencies, entities and individuals the House Judiciary Committee is requesting documents.

It is part of an investigation, the committee announced today, into obstruction of justice, public corruption and other abuses of power allegedly committed by the president, his associates and members of the administration. New Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-NY, said over the past two years the Republican-led Congress has refused to conduct responsible oversight.

“We have sent these document requests in order to begin building the public record,” Nadler said. “The Special Counsel’s office and the Southern District of New York are aware that we are taking these steps. We will act quickly to gather this information, assess the evidence, and follow the facts where they lead with full transparency with the American people. This is a critical time for our nation, and we have a responsibility to investigate these matters and hold hearings for the public to have all the facts. That is exactly what we intend to do.”

Caputo, who worked for the campaign from November 2015 to late-May 2016, has previously testified before the House and Senate Intelligence Committees and did an interview with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team. The Senate Judiciary Committee has also contacted his attorney requesting information and possibly testimony.

In a letter, Nadler asked Caputo for documents that have already been produced in other proceedings to be provided to House Judiciary by March 18.

In addition the committee is requesting documents related to the following:

  • a) The June 9, 2016 Trump Tower meeting (the “Trump Tower meeting”), including but not limited to contacts or communications about the meeting involving one or more of the following individuals: Donald Trump Jr., Natalia Veselnitskaya, Donald Trump, Paul Manafort, Jared Kushner, Emin Agalarov, Aras Agalarov, Goldstone, and/or Rinat Akhmetshin.
  • b) Any contacts, direct or indirect, from January 1, 2015 to January 20, 2017 between or involving the Russian Federation and its officials, agents, intermediaries, and/or instrumentalities and any of the following: Donald Trump, the Trump Campaign, the Trump Organization, Paul Manafort, Rick Gates, Michael Cohen, Michael Flynn, Jeff Sessions, Jared Kushner, Thomas Bossert, Roger Stone, Jerome Corsi, George Papadopoulos, Carter Page, Konstantin Kilimnik, K.T. McFarland, and/or Erik Prince.
  • c) Any contacts, direct or indirect, from January 1,2016 to the present between Paul Manafort and/or Rick Gates and any of the following individuals: Konstantin Kilimnik, Serhiy Lyovochkin, and/or Rinat Akhmetov

Nadler said the staff would work with Caputo and his attorney on a “mutually agreeable schedule” for those documents. The political operative has complained often that the legal proceedings have been very costly for him and a GoFundMe and trust fund were even started in his name.

Caputo said he needed to discuss the latest developments with his attorney before making any comment.

 

Miner Targets Molinaro

Former Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner has thus far trained most of her criticism in her long shot independent gubernatorial campaign on her fellow Democrat, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, keeping up a tradition she started even before she left local office and launched her statewide run.

But today, Miner has trained her sights on another of her opponents: Republican Marc Molinaro.

Miner issued a statement this morning calling on Molinaro to “clarify his support” for President Donald Trump, noting that while he has said he didn’t vote for Trump in 2016, instead writing in the name of former Republican Rep. Chris Gibson, he has “evaded taking a stand on the president’s positions.”

The former mayor says she and her supporters want Molinaro to publicly explain where he stands on five key issues, including: The elimination of the SALT deductions, abortion rights (specifically the Reproductive Health Act), the president’s U.S. Supreme Court nominees, private funding for infrastructure projects, and Trump’s “refusal” to fund the Hudson River transit tunnel.

“As the party’s titular head, Molinaro has a moral responsibility to speak up for those vulnerable New Yorkers who are being victimized by the President’s rhetoric,”” Miner said. “We all have a responsibility to speak out against party leadership when they are wrong – just as I have spoken truth to power in regard to Andrew Cuomo’s behavior.”

Molinaro has been asked at one time or another about many, if not all, of these issues. But apparently Miner has not found his responses satisfactory.

This is an interesting approach for Miner, the former head of the state Democratic Party – a position to which she was appointed by Cuomo, and which she relinquished when their relationship soured due to her public criticism of his policies.

On the one hand, this seems to bolster Cuomo and his effort to link Molinaro to Trump, who is unpopular in this Democrat-dominated state.

But it also appears to be an effort to inoculate herself against criticism generated when she decided to run on the “Serve America Movement,” or SAM, line. SAM, which also happens to be Miner’s initials, was founded by a bipartisan group of political players that includes a number who worked for Republicans.

Miner has insisted she is trying to challenge the current two party system, and is in some ways beyond politics, instead focused on solutions and civility at a time when both are few and far between. She has tapped as her running mate the former Republican Mayor of Pelham, Michael Volpe.

Some critics have suggested that Miner’s candidacy will only bolster Molinaro’s long-shot effort to oust Cuomo, providing an outlet for disaffected voters – Democrats and independents – who don’t like the governor. But recent polling found that she, Libertarian candidate Larry Sharpe and Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins are only attracting a combined 4 percent of the vote, with 8 percent undecided.

Conservative Party Links Molinaro To Trump

Republican gubernatorial candidate Marc Molinaro has struggled to distance himself throughout his uphill statewide campaign from President Donald Trump, who is not terribly popular in his Democrat-dominated home state.

Right from the get-go, Molinaro repeatedly noted that he didn’t even vote for the controversial presidential candidate back in 2016, instead writing in the name of former Rep. Chris Gibson, a self-professed political pragmatist who once considered – and then rejected – a run for governor himself.

But Molinaro’s efforts to cast himself as a fair-minded fiscal conservative with middle-of-the-road social views, unlike Trump, have been stymied by his Democratic opponent, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who is relishing running against the president and linking him to the Dutchess County executive at every available opportunity – even going so far as to cast Molinaro as a “Trump mini-me.”

There are, however, a group of New York voters for whom Trump is not the enemy, but rather a hero. And these voters, many of them members of the state Conservative Party, need to turn out for Molinaro in next month’s general election if he is to have any hope of not losing in a landslide to the governor, who is leading by a wide margin in public opinion polls.

The state Conservative Party, which has endorsed Molinaro, also has an interest in getting its base to the polls, since retaining its ballot status rests on its ability to attract at least 50,000 votes for the Republican candidate on its line. The more votes he gets there, vis-a-vis other minor party candidates, the better placement the Conservatives get on the ballot for the next four years.

So the Conservatives are doing what Molinaro won’t – even can’t – willingly following Cuomo’s lead in linking him to Trump, but casting that connection as a positive, rather than a negative.

The party has released a new radio ad, entitled “Hallelujah,” urging “those who stood with the Conservative Party and voted for President Donald J. Trump to continue to stand with the Conservative Party and vote for Marc Molinaro for Governor on the Conservative line.”

Here’s the script:

This is what a typical liberal hears when Donald Trump speaks…

“(Yelling and screaming over horror score)”

But this is what a conservative hears…

“Glory, glory hallelujah!”

If Trump infuriating his enemies is music to your ears – – and you don’t mind making the liberals scream yourself – – this November stand with President Trump.

Cast your vote on the Conservative Party line, Row C. Your vote means more on the Conservative Party line.

Almost 3 million voters across the state backed Trump for President. Maybe Andy Cuomo thinks they have nowhere to go this election.

He’s wrong.

See, the Conservative Party unapologetically backs Trump. And when you vote Marc Molinaro for Governor on the Conservative Party line, you make a statement.

This election, vote Molinaro for Governor on the Conservative Party line, Row C. Send a message that you stand with President Trump because there’s more to do to make America great again.

TRUMP: We gotta get it done!

Paid for the State Conservative Campaign Committee.

Interestingly, this ad only focuses on the governor’s race, on which the Conservative Party’s future depends.

It makes no mention of, say, the battle for control of the state Senate, in which the Republicans are fighting mightily to retain their slim control of the majority in a supposed blue-wave election year – an effort that the Conservatives arguably also have a stake in.

There’s also no mention of the battle for control of the House, which the president himself has been focused on, stumping for candidates in key red states across the nation. The president hasn’t in recent months, paid much attention to his home state, though soon-to-be-former House Speaker Paul Ryan was scheduled to be in key upstate districts this week, and Vice President Mike Pence has also made appearances.

Trump himself last appeared upstate in August, when he attended an event to benefit Republican Rep. Claudia Tenney, a staunch supporter of the president, who is locked in a tight re-election battle with Democratic Assembly Anthony Brindisi.

Farley on Iran: ‘Avoid Any Kind of Military Escalation’

From the Morning Memo:

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Chele Farley weighed in on the escalating rhetoric between the U.S. and Iran during a campaign stop yesterday in Buffalo.

Responding to an all-caps Twitter warning from President Donald Trump to the Islamic Republic, an Iranian special forces chief said: “If you begin the war, we will end it.” Farley said cooler heads should prevail.

“I think that the U.S. needs to have a strong military which we have done,” she said. “But certainly I’m in favor of talks, and we certainly want to avoid any kind of military escalation if at all possible.”

At the same time, Farley criticized her opponent, Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, for supporting the Obama administration’s Iran deal. She said the Democrat is out of touch with New Yorkers who opposed the framework, and is acting solely out of a desire to possible run for president in 2020.

For the record, the senator has insisted she is focused on her current re-election effort, and isn’t contemplating a White Hosue bid, but Farley isn’t buying that, saying:

“She is catering to the far-left fringes of the Democratic party in a bid to win a Democratic primary.”

Meanwhile, Farley again criticized her opponent for calling for the termination and reimagination of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.

That’s something Gillibrand has repeatedly called for many times now, and even says should be the first order of business for the Democrats if they re-take control of Congress in the midterm elections.

“Abolishing ICE is a horrible idea,” Farley said. “Kristen Gilibrand was the first senator to call out for the abolishment of ICE, which is outrageous. We all know that ICE has played a very important role in our border security.”

Gillibrand, as recently as this week, has stood by her statements on ICE despite pushback.

USA Today Drops Columnist For Heated Twitter Exchange With WNY Political Operative

USA Today has dropped one of its political columnists after she authored a controversial social media post about a Western New York political operative’s children. The paper announced Friday Cheri Jacobus’ work would no longer be published following a heated Twitter exchange with former Trump campaign volunteer Michal Caputo.

The tweet, which still hasn’t been deleted, asked if Caputo’s daughters are ugly or whether they would be shared sexually at parties hosted by Jeffrey Epstein. Epstein, an associate of former President Bill Clinton, was a former financier and was found guilty ten years ago for soliciting sex from an underage girl.

Jacobus’ attack seemed to be the exclamation point on heated thread that included Caputo calling the columnist bitter, childless and alone. Jacobus, a boisterous critic of President Trump, referred to Caputo as a traitor and said he’d end up in jail for lying under oath.

“Cheri Jacobus is clearly mentally ill and she will hopefully get help,” Caputo said when reached by phone Friday evening.

In addition to testifying in front of a congressional committee, Caputo was deposed in May by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team.  Mueller was appointed to investigate alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 Presidential election. Caputo worked in Russia in the 1990’s for a media company later hired by Russian President Vladimir Putin.  

Caputo has repeatedly called the Russia collusion investigation bogus and has mounted a spirited defense which included an online fundraiser for his legal defense.  He’s also become a regular critic of the Mueller investigation on Fox News.  

Caputo’s ire isn’t limited to Jacobus, he also blamed Erie County’s Executive and the Chair of the Erie County Democratic Party.

“Mark Poloncarz and Jeremy Zellner are still paying WNYmedia to promote sexualized attacks on my family and they need to stop. Politics is a tough game but families have always been off limits. Unless Poloncarz and Zellner want that to change – for them too,” Caputo added.  

Zellner told WBEN radio Friday Caputo’s charges were baseless and didn’t warrant a response.

 

Rep. Reed Defends Trump During MSNBC Interview

Southern Tier Republican Tom Reed defended President Donald Trump during a sometimes contentious interview on MSNBC last night.

Host Katy Tur asked the congressman about the president walking back a comment earlier this week in which he apparently sided with Russian President Vladimir Putin over United States intelligence regarding foreign interference in the 2016 election. Trump said he misspoke but Reed pivoted, arguing the more important point is the distinction between Russian meddling, which he says the president has repeatedly recognized, and collusion.

“That’s why it’s time to get the show on the road and move this process forward on the investigation to say if there’s collusion, if there’s meddling, what is it. Let’s get the facts out to the American people and get this behind us so we can start solving the problems of America,” Reed said.

Tur pushed further, asking why Trump seems to have a hard time agreeing with his own intelligence agents. She pointed out even on the walk-back, he added a caveat that others could have also interfered in the 2016 election.

Reed agreed, saying there is ample evidence of computer hacking out of China and North Korea in order to attempt to influence elections.

“The issue of meddling in our elections is a real threat and it’s clear that Russia was part of it,” he said. “Now that doesn’t mean Russia is the only actor that engaged in that, not only in 2016 but before, and what we should do as a country is recognize the threats to our election process and make sure that they don’t happen going forward.”

The congressman said he believes there is value to the meetings between the American and Russian presidents and took exception to a question about whether Putin has something on Trump.

“Obviously Putin is not friend of America,” Reed said. “He is an adversary. He is an enemy and we should treat him as that, however we do have to recognize that Russia does have influence in the world as a super power with nuclear weapons that can influence areas like Syria, Iran, North Korea.”
The congressman’s Democratic challenger this fall was critical of Reed’s “weak” responses and “playground language. ”

“Neither Reed nor the president takes cyberattacks seriously, because neither Reed nor the president understands them. As a cybersecurity expert, I am certain that 21st-century warfare will be cyberwarefare,” Tracy Mitrano said.

She says the 2016 hacking will be just the first skirmish and believes more needs to be done to fortify American from the attacks.

Trump Pardons D’Souza For Campaign Finance Conviction

President Donald Trump announced Thursday in a tweet he would pardon controversial conservative pundit Dinesh D’Souza, whose campaign finance violations provided a coda to the failed Senate bid of Republican Wendy Long.

“Will be giving a Full Pardon to Dinesh D’Souza today,” Trump posted on Twitter. “He was treated very unfairly by our government!”

D’Souza pleaded guilty to charges related to the arranging of contributions to Long’s Senate campaign totaling $20,000 with the promise he’d pay donors back, essentially violating the $5,000 cap on donations to a federal candidate.

Long ran against Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer in 2016 and previously ran against Democratic U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand in 2012.

The pardon by Trump of D’Souza was criticized by former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, whose office originated the case.

“The President has the right to pardon but the facts are these: D’Souza intentionally broke the law, voluntarily pled guilty, apologized for his conduct & the judge found no unfairness,” Bharara said on Twitter. “The career prosecutors and agents did their job. Period.”

Schneiderman Calls Federal Government ‘A Toxic Volcano Of Bad Ideas’

The New York Attorney General’s office has continued to position itself as a nemesis to President Donald Trump, this week filing two more lawsuits against the administration. Those suits seek to block a reinstated citizenship question on the U.S. census and a proposed rule that would allow business to refuse aspects of healthcare based on religious beliefs, respectively.

Schneiderman’s critics accuse him of wasting taxpayer dollars on publicly funded lawsuits and investigations for political purposes. The attorney general said the litigation has actually saved New Yorkers money.

He said, for instance if the so-called Trump travel ban was in place, it would’ve been devastating for New York’s hospitality, healthcare and tech industries. Schneiderman said he successfully protected cost-sharing subsidies under the Affordable Care Act as well, which if had been eliminated would have resulted in huge cuts in healthcare funding to the state.

“We’re saving New Yorkers money and the reason we have to bring these suits is that the federal government has become kind of a toxic volcano of bad ideas,” he said. “It’s just sort of like blasting these things out on a regular basis.”

Schneiderman also scoffed at the implication he’s posturing in any way. He said he is using a federal system that was set up to give states power.

The attorney general said the nation’s founders realized the potential for a president to become a “demagogue” or “tyrant.” He did not directly call Trump those things.

“I went after the Obama administration when I felt they weren’t doing the right thing and that will be true of any presidential administration and these guys are just generating a little more business,” Schneiderman said.

As for concerns about whether or not the administration could retaliate against the lawsuits by blocking federal funding for projects like the Gateway Tunnel, Schneiderman said he’s not concerned. He said he’s bringing the lawsuits based on the merits of the substantive proposals.

“I’m not attacking the president about his family or his hair or anything else and you won’t see us tweeting at each other. This is not personal. This is just about substantive policy,” he said.

Stone Brings Up Caputo In Opening Remarks To House Intelligence Committee

Former Donald Trump campaign political adviser Roger Stone, criticized members of the House Intelligence Committee for their treatment of Michael Caputo, another former campaign staffer and Western New York native, during his open remarks to the committee Tuesday morning. Caputo published those comments in full on his website PoliticsNY.net before the closed door testimony.

“My colleague, Michael Caputo, voluntarily sat in this seat a couple of months ago, gave what I believe were candid and truthful answers to those who cared to sit in on the interview; and yet, when he was done, he was accused of perjury by a member who did not even have the pretention to show up for his interview. He was eviscerated by some Committee members and consequently, the press,” he said.

Stone is referring to California Democrat Jackie Speier, who after Caputo’s July testimony told CNN it appeared the consultant “may have actually lied.” He vehemently denied the accusation and called for the committee to release the full transcripts of his meeting, which was also closed to the media.

“The most unfair aspect of this turn of events, and behavior by some Committee members, is that this Committee refuses, to this day, to release the transcripts of his testimony for the world to read and judge for themselves,” Stone said Tuesday.

Stone, in his remarks, also claimed he has repeatedly asked the committee to release his transcript and has been rejected,

“What is it you fear? Why do you oppose transparency? What is it you don’t want the public to know?” he asked. “I can assure each of you, I will not let myself be a punching bag for people with ill intentions or political motives. Understand, I will expose the truth in every forum and on every platform available to me.”

Stone flatly denied any collusion with Russia and called for an apology because Speier said he, Caputo and former campaign chairman Paul Manafort were part of a “cabal” who had business relationships with Russia. Stone said he does not and has not had any relationship with Russia or any Russian entity.

National Anthem Controversy Sparks Disagreement Between Bills Great And Current Players

From the Morning Memo:

The Buffalo Bills won on Sunday, but the next day the main topic of conversation was what happened before the game. After President Donald Trump sounded off about players protesting the national anthem (calling them S.O.B.s among other things), players across the league protested in different ways.

Same went for the Bills, with a number of players taking a knee, others locked arms during the song. Star running back Lesean McCoy, who a day earlier called the president an a**hole on Twitter, choose to stretch.

Those action’s apparently didn’t sit well with Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly. The faces of the franchise’s most successful teams, Kelly took to Instagram.

“The only time I will ever take a knee is to pray and to thank the Good Lord for what he’s given me,” he wrote. “We all have our issues. We all need to try and appreciate and understand each other and help each other and that goes for our PRESIDENT TOO.”

Kelly then, on a morning radio show criticized McCoy specifically, saying he had lost a lot of respect for him. Bill defensive end Jerry Hughes was not pleased.

“I was very disappointed in him,” Hughes said. “I was very disappointed in how he approached the whole situation. Our team came together and we united as a front as an organization on how we were going to approach the national anthem. If Jim was going to do what he did then he should’ve came to the team and let us know his feelings.”

Understand, criticizing Kelly in Buffalo is about the equivalent of criticizing chicken wings, but Hughes did not back down. He said the team did not even know Kelly, who had his hand on his heart and his hat raised in the air Sunday, was even planning to be on the sideline.

“I’m really confused and I’m really upset because of this something how he felt, and if this is truly what he felt and was on his heart, he should’ve came to the team and he should’ve approached that instead of making this a public matter and doing that on his social page,” Hughes said. “It was not cool, very unacceptable and if he has things to say about us as a team, come talk to us.”

Kelly considers Trump a friend and has talked in the past about how the president gave him and his family members a place to stay while he was receiving cancer treatment in New York City. The quarterback however, was not defending the president either during the interview.

“I promoted, I like Donald Trump. I get sometimes what he says but sometimes he needs to quit on Twitter. He needs to get off of it and focus what’s going on everywhere else instead of what’s going on in the NFL. It’s driving me nuts and it’s driving people away from the game of football,” he said.

Kelly said the player’s have made their point and should stop disrespecting what the country stands for.