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Judge Has Had It With Mueller Team, Abruptly Ends Court After Their Humiliating Screw-Up

He’s not taking any sh-t!

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The trial of former Trump presidential campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, in Virginia on more than a dozen criminal counts of bank fraud and tax evasion has begun this past week. Day three was abruptly cut short when Judge T.S. Ellis lost patience with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team of attorneys. The 78-year-old Reagan-appointed judge banged his gavel and declared multiple recesses, sending jurors out of the courtroom on multiple occasions. He took no prisoners as he repeatedly reminded prosecutors that Manafort is not on trial for simply being wealthy and living the accompanying “lavish lifestyle.”

The prosecution is attempting to paint Manafort as someone who made millions off some of the world’s most disreputable characters, gambling on the fact that the more that jurors learn of Manafort, the less likely they are to find him relatable or likable. For this reason, they are attempting to put Manafort’s lavish lifestyle on trial in an effort to place a wide social and economic chasm between him and the jury, thus making them less sympathetic to his plight.

Through a bevy of exhibits and witnesses, prosecutors are attempting to paint Manafort as a tax scofflaw who for years successfully failed to report money spent on luxury items to the IRS —  then lied to get bank loans when his foreign consulting work dried up. Given that the IRS is arguably one of the most hated government agencies – that may not be quite as successful as Mueller’s team might hope.

The prosecution is attempting to call a myriad of minor witnesses, from a ticket vendor for the New York Yankees to a high-end tailor to a Mercedes Benz salesman. Their intention to prejudice jurors with details about his six homes, $2 million worth of antiques, a $500,000 landscaping bill, the two silk rugs costing $160,000, and almost $1.5 million in clothes for himself has been derailed by none other than Ellis himself as he continues to highlight glaring and huge potential vulnerabilities in the first prosecution arising out of Mueller’s ongoing Russia probe.

Trending: In Historic 9-0 Decision, Supreme Court Just Shredded Democrats – YUGE!!!!

Fox News notes – “During opening arguments Tuesday, the defense team made it clear they intend to blame Gates, who handled some day-to-day business operations for Manafort, for many of the alleged reporting deficiencies Manafort is charged with.

Ellis interjected during the prosecutors’ opening statement to remind jurors that wealth alone is not criminal, and he rebuked a prosecutor in front of the jury for saying that the “evidence will show” Manafort’s guilt.

‘It isn’t a crime to have a lot of money and be profligate in your spending,’ Ellis said.

Jurors also heard Tuesday that Manafort bought an ostrich jacket worth more than $15,000. That prompted Ingrid Newkirk, president of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), to issue a statement calling for Manafort to turn over the jacket, which was ‘likely made from numerous juvenile ostriches whose throats were slit and whose feathers were plucked out.'”

Ellis had harshly admonished members of Mueller’s team in a tense preliminary hearing in May, saying they “don’t care” about Manafort and were pursuing the case against the 69-year-old ex-Trump adviser only as a means of targeting the president.

A housekeeping issue prior to the jury’s entrance set the tone on day two. Ellis instructed the prosecution that he had no intention of wasting the Court’s going through mountains of exhibits to belabor two basic points that the government’s attorneys were expected to prove – (1) that Manafort directly diverted income from his business to his own personal use without claiming it on his taxes; and (2) attempted to hide this by use of offshore accounts.

This was after testimony was given from the prosecution’s first witness – Daniel Rabin, one of Manafort’s long-serving associates in the Ukraine. Each time a witness was called by the prosecution to testify, government attorneys essentially had them leafing through page after paragraph (after page after paragraph…) of evidence. Ellis emphatically instructed the prosecution – “Just ask him the question! You don’t want them leafing through memos.”

Despite this explicit instruction, the prosecution decided to test Ellis’ theory (and patience) in this regard.

Law & Crime reports – “‘FBI Special Agent Matthew Mikuska was the ‘seizing agent’ who took part in the July raid on Manafort’s Alexandria condominium. After being allowed to recount the day of the search warrant in excruciating detail, Judge Ellis grew weary of government attempts to have Mikuska explain various documents he was only familiar with due to his presence at the execution of the search warrant.

On top of that, Mikuska was completely unaware of how the FBI gained access to a spare key for Manafort’s apartment and the entry fob for Manafort’s locked garage. Without anyone commenting directly on this, Mikuska’s admission made waves through the court. One juror looked particularly annoyed by the news and later laughed when Ellis said Mikuska wasn’t qualified to comment on a luxury clothing label affixed to one of Manafort’s suits.

In fact, it was mostly Mikuska’s testimony that led Ellis to begin his multiple lectures as to why the government can’t tar and feather Manafort based on his wealth and spending habits alone. Or, rather, the prosecution’s repeat attempts to have the special agent testify about those documents which mostly showed nothing but lavish purchases by the Manafort family.”

One exhibit was not allowed into evidence altogether because according to Ellis it only showed Manafort’s “lavish lifestyle,” and was therefore irrelevant and unfairly prejudicial, under Federal Rule of Evidence 402.

Ellis stated – “Enough is enough. We don’t convict people because they’re rich and throw their money around…To parade all of this is unnecessary, irrelevant and could be unfairly prejudicial.”

Those same sentiments were echoed by Ellis at least a dozen or more times – all directed at the prosecution. The prosecution in the meantime continued to demonstrate an unhealthy fixation on stating and re-stating dollar amounts.

Fox News notes – “Among his other rebukes, Ellis on Wednesday told prosecutors to stop using the word “oligarch” to describe wealthy Ukrainians, whose dealings with Manafort are at the heart of the fraud charges he faces in the northern Virginia federal court. He said the term is a “pejorative” that would risk unfairly prejudicing jurors against Manafort.”

Ellis was infuriated by the continued disregard for his instructions after prosecution elicited detailed and lengthy testimony regarding a pergola built for one of Manafort’s daughters. Ellis scathingly lauded the “exquisite detail” summoned for the testimony, then slammed it as completely irrelevant. This same scenario was repeated over and over again into Day 3.

Opening arguments on Thursday were notably tense as the last witness was called to the stand. Testimony followed by J. Philip Ayliff, a certified public accountant (CPA) at Paul Manafort’s long-serving tax-preparation agency, Kositzka, Wicks and Co. (KWC), of Richmond, Virginia.

Ayliff’s initial testimony was an attempt to provide jurors with foundational knowledge of the basic functions of a tax-preparation company. Prosecutors then attempted to move to more specific information and attempted to “publish” one of Manafort’s e-file forms. Ellis promptly lost his patience in a spectacular display complete with an actual and pronounced finger-wag–before he shouted – “No! You move it along!”

The prosecution took a moment to compose themselves and then asked Ayliff to define the term “financial interest” only to be promptly cut off by Ellis noting that Ayliff was not a noticed expert. Attorneys for the prosecution and the defense were then asked to address the bench where a lengthy bench conference ensued. Upon resuming, the jury promptly learned that Ayliff’s testimony had been deferred, potentially indefinitely.

Then, Assistant U.S. Attorney Uzo Asonye pushed Ellis too far when he asked about yet another term of art listed on Manafort’s federal tax forms. Ellis stood up and asked Ayliff to wait, then promptly announced the court would recess early. After the jury filed out, Ellis took a few minutes to fill the press and the public in on what transpired during the bench conference.

Apparently, not only was Ayliff a non-noticed witness being asked to give the equivalent of expert testimony, but both the prosecution and the defense had previously agreed on exactly what the term “financial interest” meant. Not only had they agreed, but said agreement had been provided in jury instructions approved by both sides. As Ayliff was neither an expert, noticed or otherwise as required by the Federal Rules of Evidence, prosecution’s line of questioning and Ayliff’s testimony could have “confused or clouded” things for the jury,” according to Ellis.

 

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Immigrants Living On Taxpayer Dime Got Rude Awakening Thanks To Trump’s ‘New Rule’

Immigrants just got a harsh wake-up call from President Trump!

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A new rule is being cooked up by the Trump administration that will send a rude awakening to immigrants living on the taxpayer dime. Trump’s new rule brings up the “public charge” in what the New York Times stated was a law that was about 100-years-old but was reworked in 1999. President Donald Trump’s new rule, which is in the works, not in action, could affect up to 1 million people in New York alone.

It has to do with immigrants using resources for welfare benefits and being listed in the realm of being a “burden” on the funds.

The New York Times stated: “But a new rule in the works from the Trump administration would make it difficult, if not impossible, for immigrants who use those benefits to obtain green cards.

New York City officials estimated that at least a million people here could be hurt by this plan, warning that the children of immigrants seeking green cards would be most vulnerable.

That’s because if applicants use any welfare benefits, even for children who are United States citizens, that could indicate they would be a burden on government resources. “What feels deeply concerning,” said Bitta Mostofi, New York City’s commissioner of immigrant affairs, “is the impact on the welfare of children, period.”

The spin they put on it makes it seem like this will leave families without food and that President Trump is going after immigrant children. What it should really be looked at is a rule that helps people become more motivated to get jobs and provide food for their families on their own, not live on the government dole while other people work 60 hours a week just to have funds for the welfare of others taken out of their check via taxes.

There are two ways to look at their new possible rules. The liberals will say it’s an attack on children and immigrants. The people with more common sense will say it’s about time that people started working for themselves. That brings up the classic debate that many of the working class are tired of hearing about – taxes and welfare. People who work for a living don’t like seeing their money given to people who refuse to work for a living.

Being on welfare because you have to is one thing. Some people are unable to work and need help. That’s different and most Americans are happy to help in that scenario. When people are on tough times, then sometimes they need a little bit of help, and that’s acceptable and nothing to be ashamed of. However, there are people who milk the system and refuse to work and that needs to be stopped at all costs. Being on welfare because you purposely choose not to work is a bad thing and any president that we have should be inclined to get people off the couch and back to being productive.

Just for reference, the public charge fact sheet states:

“Introduction

“Public charge has been part of U.S. immigration law for more than 100 years as a ground of inadmissibility and deportation. An individual who is likely at any time to become a public charge is inadmissible to the United States and ineligible to become a legal permanent resident. However, receiving public benefits does not automatically make an individual a public charge. This fact sheet provides information about public charge determinations to help noncitizens make informed choices about whether to apply for certain public benefits.

“Background

“Under Section 212(a)(4) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), an individual seeking admission to the United States or seeking to adjust status to permanent resident (obtaining a green card) is inadmissible if the individual “at the time of application for admission or adjustment of status, is likely at any time to become a public charge.” If an individual is inadmissible, admission to the United States or adjustment of status will not be granted.

“Immigration and welfare laws have generated some concern about whether a noncitizen may face adverse immigration consequences for having received federal, state, or local public benefits. Some noncitizens and their families are eligible for public benefits – including disaster relief, treatment of communicable diseases, immunizations, and children’s nutrition and health care programs – without being found to be a public charge.

“Definition of Public Charge

“In determining inadmissibility, USCIS defines “public charge” as an individual who is likely to become “primarily dependent on the government for subsistence, as demonstrated by either the receipt of public cash assistance for income maintenance, or institutionalization for long-term care at government expense.” See “Field Guidance on Deportability and Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds,” 64 FR 28689 (May 26, 1999). In determining whether an alien meets this definition for public charge inadmissibility, a number of factors are considered, including age, health, family status, assets, resources, financial status, education, and skills. No single factor, other than the lack of an affidavit of support, if required, will determine whether an individual is a public charge.

“Benefits Subject to Public Charge Consideration

“USCIS guidance specifies that cash assistance for income maintenance includes Supplemental Security Income (SSI), cash assistance from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program and state or local cash assistance programs for income maintenance, often called “general assistance” programs. Acceptance of these forms of public cash assistance could make a noncitizen inadmissible as a public charge if all other criteria are met. However, the mere receipt of these benefits does not automatically make an individual inadmissible, ineligible to adjust status to lawful permanent resident, or deportable on public charge grounds. See “Field Guidance on Deportability and Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds,” 64 FR 28689 (May 26, 1999). Each determination is made on a case-by-case basis in the context of the totality of the circumstances.

“In addition, public assistance, including Medicaid, that is used to support aliens who reside in an institution for long-term care – such as a nursing home or mental health institution – may also be considered as an adverse factor in the totality of the circumstances for purposes of public charge determinations. Short-term institutionalization for rehabilitation is not subject to public charge consideration.

“Benefits Not Subject to Public Charge Consideration

“Under the agency guidance, non-cash benefits and special-purpose cash benefits that are not intended for income maintenance are not subject to public charge consideration. Such benefits include:

  • Medicaid and other health insurance and health services (including public assistance for immunizations and for testing and treatment of symptoms of communicable diseases, use of health clinics, short-term rehabilitation services, prenatal care and emergency medical services) other than support for long-term institutional care
  • Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
  • Nutrition programs, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)- commonly referred to as Food Stamps, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Program, and other supplementary and emergency food assistance programs
  • Housing benefits
  • Child care services
  • Energy assistance, such as the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
  • Emergency disaster relief
  • Foster care and adoption assistance
  • Educational assistance (such as attending public school), including benefits under the Head Start Act and aid for elementary, secondary or higher education
  • Job training programs
  • In-kind, community-based programs, services or assistance (such as soup kitchens, crisis counseling and intervention, and short-term shelter)
  • Non-cash benefits under TANF such as subsidized child care or transit subsidies
  • Cash payments that have been earned, such as Title II Social Security benefits, government pensions, and veterans’ benefits, and other forms of earned benefits
  • Unemployment compensation

“Some of the above programs may provide cash benefits, such as energy assistance, transportation or child care benefits provided under TANF or the Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG), and one-time emergency payments under TANF. Since the purpose of such benefits is not for income maintenance, but rather to avoid the need for ongoing cash assistance for income maintenance, they are not subject to public charge consideration.

“Note: In general, lawful permanent residents who currently possess a “green card” cannot be denied U.S. citizenship for lawfully receiving any public benefits for which they are eligible.”

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Colorado Christian Cake Shop Owner Exonerated By Supreme Court Just Got Really Bad News

This is outrageous!

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Here we go again. I’m sure you are familiar with the Colorado Christian cake shop owner who just won a huge case in front of the Supreme Court this last June. Jack Phillips is the Christian baker who made history by prevailing in front of the High Court after he refused to create a custom wedding cake for a gay couple on the basis of religious beliefs. Most of America celebrated with Phillips when he won the case and it provided a glimmer of hope for religious freedom once again here in the United States.

At the time of Phillips case, the Supreme Court admonished the state’s attorney who was standing against the baker for religious intolerance. He allegedly made a number of comments that gave the court pause on First Amendment grounds. The Supreme Court issued a powerful rebuke to the Colorado Civil Rights Commission for its “religious hostility” toward Christian baker Jack Phillips. They were right to think that and it has been proven even more to be true this week as this baker just got really bad news. Phillips just filed a lawsuit in federal court late Tuesday against the Colorado Civil Rights Commission. From what I am seeing he is being set up to be taken down in a different legalistic move… this time it involves gender issues.

Phillips and his attorneys from the Alliance Defending Freedom contend that the Commission has revived its campaign against him following June’s High Court decision, singling Masterpiece Cakeshop out for disparate treatment on the basis of their religious beliefs. It’s like deja vu all over again.

“The state of Colorado is ignoring the message of the U.S. Supreme Court by continuing to single out Jack for punishment and to exhibit hostility toward his religious beliefs,” said Kristen Waggoner, who is an Alliance Defending Freedom attorney that represents Phillips. “Even though Jack serves all customers and simply declines to create custom cakes that express messages or celebrate events in violation of his deeply held beliefs, the government is intent on destroying him — something the Supreme Court has already told it not to do.”

The person allegedly behind all of this is an attorney named Autumn Scardina. She reportedly called Phillips’ shop the day the decision in his favor was rendered and asked him to make a cake celebrating a gender transition. The caller asked that the cake be blue on the outside and pink on the inside. Over several months after that, Phillips received requests for cakes featuring marijuana use, s******y explicit messages, and Satanic symbols. He’s convinced that Scardina was the one who made all of the requests to set him up for legal action.

From PJ Media:

“To forestall a second round of litigation, ADF filed suit against the commission in federal court. Jeremy Tedesco, ADF’s senior counsel and vice president of U.S. Advocacy and Administration, told PJ Media his firm would “preemptively file a lawsuit in federal court to try to stop what the commission is doing.”

“‘We think the circumstances are uniquely aligned to do that,” Tedesco explained.

“Especially since the Supreme Court ruled that the commission had treated Phillips unfairly on the basis of his religion, thus violating his right to free exercise, this follow-up round seems particularly noxious. “It seems like another round of targeting him and putting him through this very difficult process simply because he wants to be faithful in his business in what he creates through his art,” Tedesco said.

“The commission could have decided not to pursue this second case against Phillips. The ADF lawyer explained that, when a Colorado citizen thinks he or she has been discriminated against, they file a complaint with the Civil Rights Division, which then conducts an investigation and determines probable cause.

“When Autumn Scardina filed this complaint, Tedesco would have expected the civil rights commission to reject it. “After Masterpiece came down from the Supreme Court, we expected Colorado to take that into account and realize that it was a bad decision to keep targeting Jack for his religious convictions,” the lawyer explained. “Instead, they found probable cause.”

“‘He’s going to be fully investigated again, there will be hearings from an administrative law judge,” Tedesco said. “It’s restarting the entire scenario.”

“‘It’s appalling,” the lawyer declared. “It’s unconscionable that they would go after him again right on the heels of losing a case because they were openly hostile to his religious beliefs.'”

Scardina has now filed a complaint with the civil rights commission. She is alleging discrimination on the basis of gender identity. The complaint was held aside while the Supreme Court ruled in Phillips’ other case. Just three weeks after Phillips won his case, the commission issued a probable cause determination, finding there was sufficient evidence to support Scardina’s claim of discrimination. This sure looks as though it was all planned out this way. “Colorado has renewed its war against him by embarking on another attempt to prosecute him, in direct conflict with the Supreme Court’s ruling in his favor,” Phillips’ lawsuit states. “This lawsuit is necessary to stop Colorado’s continuing persecution of Phillips.”

The freedom of religion is sacrosanct in this nation as a First Amendment right. Weaponizing lawfare to take it apart is not only unconstitutional but unconscionable. I sincerely hope that Phillips prevails once more and that a more solid ruling by the Supreme Court puts an end to this form of religious bigotry.

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