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Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Sessions drains a slush fund

Firing Pheet Bharara as United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York was the first step toward ending a corrupt slush fund scheme and restoring a constitutional government.

Bharara was crooked politician who instead of sending corrupt CEO to prison for their misdeeds accepted payoffs. Oh not directly. He was not that stupid. No, Bharara allowed the crooked CEOs to buy their way out of jail by "giving" billions to  Democratic Party-approved "charities."

This scheme dodged the Constitution, which holds that Congress writes the budget, not the president. (This is why the opposition always declares a presidential budget proposal DOA, because by definition it is.)

To give you an idea of how big Bharara's bunco game was, I offer this paragraph from today's story in the Washington Post:
In 2013, the Department of Justice reached settlements with several banks, ranging from $7 billion (Citigroup) to $16.65 billion (Bank of America) related to the selling of residential mortgage-backed securities. As part of those settlements, the department required banks to pay approximately $3 billion to third-party groups, such as NeighborWorks and state legal aid organizations, according to Justice officials.
The message to business was clear. America was a Banana republic now, so if you pay off El Presidente and his henchman like Bharara, you can ignore the law all you want with impunity.

Even the clanky ex-conservative George Will complained:
The Justice Department has negotiated “bank settlement agreements” whereby banks make restitution to the government for the damage they allegedly did in connection with the creation and sale of residential mortgage-backed securities in the subprime mortgage crisis. Our subject here is not, however, whether the sums extracted from the banks (e.g., Citigroup $7 billion, Bank of America $16.65 billion, JPMorgan $13 billion) are proportionate to their alleged culpabilities. Rather, our subject is what Justice does with millions of these dollars. 
Justice allows banks to meet some of their settlement obligations by directing “donations” to various nongovernmental advocacy organizations that serve Democratic constituencies and objectives — organizations that were neither parties to the case nor victims of the banks’ behaviors. These donations are from money owed to the government, money that otherwise would go to the Treasury, money the disposition of which is properly Congress’s responsibility. 
So the donations are, in effect, appropriations of public money. The pesky Constitution, however, says: “No money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in consequence of appropriations made by law.” As a congressman allied with Grover Cleveland once said to a fellow legislator who considered one of his initiatives unconstitutional, “What’s the Constitution between friends?” 
Attorney General Jeff Sessions just ended this sue-and-settle scam.

From the Washington Post today:
Attorney General Jeff Sessions is reversing an Obama administration practice that encouraged and sometimes required banks and other companies to donate large amounts of money to outside groups as part of settlement agreements with the federal government.
In the Obama administration, the Justice Department negotiated settlements, especially with large banks in connection with the residential mortgage-backed securities crisis, that required the settling parties to pay funds to third-party community organizations, such as the National Council of La Raza, Habitat for Humanity and the National Urban League.
“These third-party organizations were neither victims nor parties to the lawsuits,” Sessions said in a memo sent Wednesday to senior Justice Department officials and U.S. attorney’s offices. Sessions said that, effective immediately, settlement payments to nongovernmental third parties, such as advocacy or housing groups, are prohibited.
“When the federal government settles a case against a corporate wrongdoer, any settlement funds should go first to the victims and then to the American people — not to bankroll third-party special interest groups or the political friends of whoever is in power,” Sessions said in a statement.
There's a new sheriff in town. He is actually enforcing the law.

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  1. Will that cover the EPA's practice of working with environmental advocacies to sue and settle? - Elric

  2. Funneling money to La Raza was a twofer for Obama. First of all, they are about as commie an outfit as you can find in the states. Second, they are all about open borders and flooding the country with welfare recipients.

  3. This move by AG Sessions is certainly welcome. However, I noticed that Sessions failed to give Trump a timely heads-up before announcing he would recuse himself over accusations by Democrats that Trump colluded with the Russians during the 2016 election, and his intention to call for the appointment of a special prosecutor. IMO, this oversight by Sessions, whether intentional or not, is inexcusable. In failing to keep the president timely informed, it demonstrated a lack of judgement and irresponsibility. Apparently, Sessions offered to resign; even despite the likely difficulty of getting Senate approval for a successor to Sessions, Trump should have accepted (or even demanded) his resignation. No excuses. Sessions screwed up. If an opening to fire Sessions ever comes up, Trump should show him the door.

    1. Your concern over 3 months old news duly noted.

    2. It's not 3 months old news if you connect the dots to recent events of the past week. Over the last few days, Robert Mueller, the Special Counsel, announced he would accept no limits on the scope of his investigation. And he literally dared the DoJ to contradict him. Regardless of the written terms of his appointment by the DoJ, Mueller knows the optics favor him in any dispute over what he can or cannot investigate.

      This makes Mueller now the most unaccountably powerful man in America, and past history with such people suggests Mueller's investigation will have no end to it. it will grow like a cancer on Trump's presidency. Jeff Sessions should have anticipated that. His failure to do so was inexcusable. He should have given prior notice to Trump before going public with his announcement and not kept the President in the dark. As a member of the president's cabinet, at minimum he owed Trump that courtesy. Anyone who shows such poor judgement deserves to be fired. Then again, given the circumstances, Session surely knew, because of the likely public reaction to his possible firing, his offer to resign would be rejected because Trump had no real choice.

  4. This is overdue, but highly welcome.

  5. Just checked, first name is Preet, not Pheet. But, HEY! Close enough for government work.

  6. It's high time to start seeing people doing perp walks in orange jump suits. Crooked Cankles should be one of them. GOC

  7. And not the first peep about. Had a Republican, and especially Trump, done this the howls of outrage would have been thunderous from the get-go.

  8. Good info for the weak minded and easily manipulated.