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theodore M I R A L D I mpa ... editor, publisher, writer
Political conflicts of interest galore go uncovered in
witch hunt against Trump.
Can we talk a big, fat political conflict of interest? Can we talk the lawyers and the judge involved in the lawsuits against Trump University? Let’s throw in identity politics and, but of course, follow the money.
Well of course there’s a conflict.
What did you expect when you saw the breathless headlines blare about Trump University lawsuits? The impression being assiduously cultivated that Donald Trump, a billionaire ten times over, set up some sort of elaborate con to scam regular folks on real estate.
What’s not being said? What questions are not being asked? How about this? How about asking just who is pursuing these cases against Donald Trump? What if what’s really going on here is… a witch trial? A rigged game designed to produce a desired political end — the smearing of Donald Trump — to enable the political fortunes of Democrats generally, and Hillary Clinton specifically?
Let’s examine the players in this lawsuit.
The players are:
The Judge:U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel, the California federal judge in the Trump University law suit case.
The Lawyers:Two law firms: Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP and Zeldes Haeggquist & Eck LLP.
And let’s not forget another player, this one in New York. That would be:
The New York Attorney General: Eric Schneiderman.
The Play: As detailed here in Law360, this is how the game works:
Law360, Los Angeles (October 28, 2014, 4:00 PM ET) — A California federal judge has granted class certification in a Racketeer influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act suit accusing Donald Trump of scheming to make millions of dollars by falsely claiming attendees of Trump University LLC seminars would learn his real estate secrets.
… In addition to certifying the class, Judge Curiel on Friday appointed Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP and Zeldes Haeggquist & Eck LLP as class counsel.
Stop. Stop right there. Let’s parse.
Who is the “California federal judge” who not only granted “class certification” to the lawsuit against Trump — but then assigned the two law firms now involved with the case?
That would be Gonzalo Curiel. Who is he? Trump has gotten flak for referring to Curiel’s Mexican heritage (he was born in Indiana). Yet right here the San Diego La Raza Lawyers Association is making a point of honoring Curiel for “his leadership and support to the community and to our Association!” — exclamation point theirs. The “community” in question is not the San Diego community of all ethnic groups, races, and genders who happen to be lawyers. What is the San Diego La Raza Lawyers Association all about? Their mission statement (here) reads, in part, this way:
Formed in 1979, with a handful of Latino attorneys, San Diego La Raza Lawyers Association (SDLRLA) has grown to represent over three hundred Latino and Latina lawyers practicing in San Diego County. SDLRLA is one of 18 affiliate bar associations of the California La Raza Lawyers Association, which serves several thousand Latino lawyers practicing in the State of California.
Our purpose is to advance the cause of equality, empowerment and justice for Latino attorneys and the Latino community in San Diego County through service and advocacy.
In other words? The group that honored Curiel, an Obama appointee (and campaign contributor to House Democratic Conference Chairman Xavier Becerra) proudly boasts that the sole reason for their existence is — their ethnicity. They are not about “the cause of equality, empowerment and justice” for all San Diego attorneys regardless of ethnicity. They are quite boldly only for these things when they concern, their words, “Latino attorneys and the Latino community.” And clearly they see Judge Curiel as one of their own. And apparently the Judge agrees. In other words, when Donald Trump points out the judge’s ethnicity “happens to be, we believe, Mexican,” at a minimum the judge himself is all too willing to associate himself with his ethnicity, eagerly accepting an award citing his willingness to give “support to the (Latino) community and to our (Latino) Association!” If the Judge himself goes out of his way to make certain everyone knows he is Latino — is not Trump more than justified in being wary of a judge deciding his case with what seems to be a serious ethnic axe to grind?
Move on to the two law firms that Curiel selected to represent the class action case against Trump University. The first, Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP, lists as its senior partner partner Darren J. Robbins. And a check with the FEC shows that Robbins has made over a hundred campaign contributions over the years, far and away most of them going to Democrats. Including a contribution of $2700 on May 12, 2015 to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.* That would be the Hillary Clinton who, assuming she polishes off the Sanders challenge, will be the Democratic nominee against… Donald Trump.
Then there’s that second firm selected by Judge Curiel to be involved in the Trump University lawsuit — Zeldes Haeggquist & Eck LLP. The senior partner in that firm? If you guessed she was a multiple contributor to Barack Obama you would of course be right. But she was also a one-time donor in 2004 to… MoveOn.org. You know Move On, the people who back there in 2004 were running an ad comparing President Bush to Hitler. Today? Today MoveOn has this to say about Donald Trump:
For as long as Donald Trump is a presidential candidate, MoveOn members will continue to call out and nonviolently protest his racist, bigoted, misogynistic, xenophobic, and violent behavior… Trump and those who peddle hate and incite violence have no place in our politics and most certainly do not belong in the White House.
And let’s not forget New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. Schneiderman filed a $40 million law suit against Trump University in 2013 charging fraud. This after repeated campaign solicitations to Trump family members and business associates, as I detailed here three years ago. Solicitations along the line of the Mafia Don who stops by to say “ya gotta nice little business going here, ya wouldn’t want anything to happen to it.” Curiously, this very same Eric Schneiderman got a $15,000 campaign contribution in 2010 from two lawyers in a law firm named… Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP. They being one of the firms Judge Curiel would assign to the Trump University class action cases. Amazing coincidence.
Let’s cut to the chase here, shall we? The accusation here is not that all these people have broken some law somewhere. The point is very simple. By October 2014 — when Judge Curiel granted that class certification to the Trump lawsuits and gave the nod to two law firms led by serious liberals who between them had given money to Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and MoveOn.org — it was well known that Donald Trump was considering a race for president in 2016, as noted here among other places by the Huffington Post. He was not a shy man about his views. And, of course, he was Donald Trump the famous billionaire whether he ran for the White House or not. What a big, fat exciting target for liberal activist lawyers!
None of this makes the media coverage. Has Eric Schneiderman endorsed Hillary Clinton for president? Yes.Is that factored in to the coverage? No.
Take this recent story from May 28 at the Washington Post — the Post itself a virulently anti-Trump paper. What’s missing in this Trump University story? Any references to the Judge’s waltz with legal-style identity politics that can easily lead an observer — like Donald Trump — to believe the Judge’s Latino heritage is in fact playing a role in his decisions on this case? No. Any look at the law firms involved, the money ties to Hillary and the rest of liberal land? No. In other words? Every effort is made to portray all of the Trump University cases as just a coldhearted billionaire-turned-presidential nominee shamelessly squeezing nickels from unsuspecting hard-working Americans. And if this storyline, saturated into the political discourse, happens to hinder the Trump campaign? Ah, well. Tough cookies.
Tough cookies indeed. What we have here is the case against Trump University being so riven with political conflicts of interest that it is clear Trump is not a defendant but the subject of a political witch hunt. A witch hunt fueled by everything from identity politics to campaign contributions.
To borrow a much used phrase from this election cycle? The case against Trump University appears to have been rigged right from the get-go.
Rep. Zoe Lofgren, California Democrat. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen) Bradford Richardson
The National Association of Scholars is hitting back against Rep. Zoe Lofgren, California Democrat, for calling a law professor a “bigot” during a Title IX congressional hearing for making an argument about what reality is.
Peter Wood, president of the National Association of Scholars, for which University of San Diego law professor Gail Heriot is a board member, said Ms. Lofgren’s “outburst” was unbecoming of “the standards of civility of the U.S. House of Representatives.”
The purpose of the U.S. House Taskforce on Executive Overreach hearing last week was to examine whether the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights overstepped its authority by requiring schools under Title IX to allow restroom and locker room access on the basis of gender identity rather than biological sex.
“In no way did Professor Heriot present ‘bigoted’ statements on sexual identity,” Mr. Wood said in a press release. “Rather, she gave a history of the OCR’s past disregard for legal limits to its authority and traced the history of the law regarding transgender individuals. She also noted that the concept of ‘transgender’ did not enter the legal vocabulary until many years after the passage of Title IX, which OCR claims as the basis for its ‘Dear Colleague’ letters.”
During the hearing, Ms. Heriot questioned the logical coherence of transgenderism, saying that “male” and “female” are given facts, and that she can no more identify as a Russian princess than a man can identify as a woman, or vice versa.
“If I believe that I am a Russian princess, that doesn’t make me a Russian princess, even if my friends and acquaintances are willing to indulge my fantasy,” she said. “Nor am I a great horned owl, just because, as I have been told, I happen to share some personality traits with those feathered creatures.”
Ms. Lofgren described the remark as “rather offensive.”
“I think you’re a bigot, lady,” she said. “I think you are an ignorant bigot. I think you are an ignorant bigot and anti-gay.”
After chairman Rep. Steve King called the hearing to order, and insisted that Ms. Lofgren refrain from “calling names,” the congresswoman persisted that she would “not allow that kind of bigotry to go into the record unchallenged.”
“Does that mean you think I am a Russian princess?” Ms. Heriot asked the congresswoman.
Mr. Wood said he did not anticipate an apology from the congresswoman’s office over the heated exchange.
“It is perhaps too much to hope that Rep. Lofgren will apologize for her antics as they seem to have served her purpose of exciting her progressive base,” Mr. Wood said. “Other observers will take note of her abuse of her authority.”
Ms. Heriot’s criticism of transgenderism recalls other notable figures who have denied the ability of the will to alter reality, whether one’s biological sex or species.
Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas notably attacked then-primary rival Donald Trump last month for his neutral stance on the issue of transgender bathroom access, saying if the businessman were to dress up as Democratic primary front-runner Hillary Clinton, it would not make him a woman.
“If Donald Trump dresses up as Hillary Clinton, he still can’t use the little girls’ restroom,” Mr. Cruz said. “And I apologize for putting that image in your mind.”
And Fox News contributor Tammy Bruce compared the notion that one’s biological sex depends on subjective self-identification to children who often pretend to be animals.
“You know, look, at a point when I was a child, I thought I was a cocker spaniel,” Ms. Bruce, a lesbian feminist who also writes a column for The Washington Times, said on “Fox & Friends” last year. “There’s a point when we have these fantasies where we think we’re Superman, where we can fly, where we’re the cat. This is childhood.”
Shocking video footage shows Mexican immigrant parents encouraging their 3-year-old daughter to repeatedly say, “We have to kill Donald Trump.”
“We’re going to kill Donald Trump,” states the toddler, to which the mother responds, “Why are we going to kill Donald Trump?”
“Cause he’s bad,” responds the child.
“That’s right,” replies the mother.
“We have to kill him,” continues the toddler.
“Why is he bad?” asks the father.
“Cause he wants to take away our family,” responds the child.
The mother then encourages the child to make a third death threat against Trump, asking, “So what are we going to do then?”
“We’re going to kill him,” the child re-asserts.
Minors mouthing profanities aimed at Donald Trump are nothing new – many of them have attended anti-Trump rallies across the country, but to hear the parents of a 3-year-old girl encouraging violent rhetoric is a new level of absurdity.
Back in December, a street food outlet in Portland called El Diablito celebrated its grand opening by having children batter a Donald Trump effigy.
Video footage shows one child shouting, “I want to kill him!” before the pinata is decapitated.
As we have repeatedly documented, the media has blamed Donald Trump for violence at his events while continually absolving the very people responsible for such violence – Bernie Sanders supporters – of blame.
U.S. Internet giants Facebook Inc., Twitter Inc., Google and Microsoft Corp. pledged to tackle online hate speech in less than 24 hours as part of a joint commitment with the European Union to combat the use of social media by terrorists.
Beyond national laws that criminalize hate speech, there is a need to ensure such activity by Internet users is “expeditiously reviewed by online intermediaries and social media platforms, upon receipt of a valid notification, in an appropriate time-frame,” the companies and the European Commission said in a joint statement on Tuesday.
The code of conduct arrives as Europe comes to terms with the bloody attacks in Paris and Brussels by Islamic State, which has used the Web and social media to spread its message of hate against its enemies. The companies said it remains a “challenge” to strike the right balance between freedom of expression and hate speech in the self-generated content on online platforms.
“We remain committed to letting the Tweets flow,” said Twitter’s head of public policy for Europe, Karen White, in the statement. “However, there is a clear distinction between freedom of expression and conduct that incites violence and hate.”
A French Jewish youth group, UEJF, sued Twitter, Facebook and Google in Paris this month over how they monitor hate speech on the web. In the course of about six weeks in April and May, members of French anti-discrimination groups flagged unambiguous hate speech that they said promoted racism, homophobia or anti-Semitism. More than 90 percent of the posts pointed out to Twitter and YouTube remained online within 15 days on average following requests for removal, according to the study by UEJF, SOS Racisme and SOS Homophobie.
“With a global community of 1.6 billion people we work hard to balance giving people the power to express themselves whilst ensuring we provide a respectful environment,” said Monika Bickert, head of global policy management at Facebook, in the statement. “There’s no place for hate speech on Facebook.”
Photo by: Jett Loe A woman waves the Mexican flag at the Albuquerque Convention Center after a rally by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump in New Mexico. Analysts say anti-American sentiments and violence from protesters are chasing undecided voters toward the very man they are protesting. (Las Cruces Sun-News via Associated Press) Seth McLaughlin
The ugly protest scenes outside Donald Trump’s rallies are doing more damage to the protesters than to Mr. Trump’s political chances, according to analysts who say the violence and anti-American sentiments are backfiring.
Protesters in Albuquerque, New Mexico, last week toted Mexican flags, burned American flags and clashed with police, racking up $50,000 in damage to the neighborhood.
Perhaps even worse for the rioters, they are likely chasing undecided voters toward the side of the man they are protesting.
“When people show up throwing bottles and waving the Mexican flag, you have had a lot of people who may have not been willing to support Trump who see this and say the enemy of my enemy is my friend,” said former Rep. Tom Davis, who ran House Republicans’ campaign committee for two cycles a decade ago. “There is no question these are helping Trump, and Democrats know that.”
The billionaire businessman’s stern calls to tighten border controls, his vow to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico and his declaration that Mexican society is sending “rapists” and other bad elements to the U.S. have angered Hispanic activists, who view Mr. Trump’s campaign as a tipping point in politics.
Likewise, his call for a ban on Muslim visitors and some of his comments about women leave many voters wary and some of them angry enough to take action beyond the ballot box.
Attempts to disrupt his rallies from the inside have drawn stiff rebukes from the 69-year-old candidate, who has talked about punching protesters and described others as undatable goobers, diaper-wearing morons and fat blowhards.
“Go home to mommy,” he told a protester at rally last week in Albuquerque.
Outside of the Albuquerque rally, things were even worse.
Six city police officers sustained “significant injuries” and another was treated for smoke inhalation from fires that protesters set. Every officer who responded was pelted with rocks and other debris by the anti-Trump swarm, the department said.
Two juveniles were arrested and released to their parents, and a 30-year-old woman and a 19-year-old man were arrested and charged with disorderly conduct.
The department signaled that more arrests are likely but could not confirm reports that Mexican gangs were involved in stirring up the fracas.
Television news, already eager to cover Mr. Trump, has been filled with images of lines of officers preparing for violence and reporters documenting every rock-throwing incident.
Patrick Buchanan, a two-time presidential candidate, said the scenes could alarm moderate Republicans already wary of Mr. Trump, and there is a danger the protests could feed into a media narrative that he is inciting the violence.
For now, though, Mr. Buchanan said “on balance Mr. Trump wins” because the protesters appear to be backing up the candidate’s claims.
“Cop-battlers and rock-throwers desecrating American flags and waving Mexican flags are a perfect foil for Trump,” he said. “They solidify and harden his base and reinforce his case against the illegals from across the border.”
Hillary Clinton, the likely Democratic presidential nominee, and her allies have indeed accused Mr. Trump of stoking the violence with his policy proposals and behavior on the stump.
“When you divide people against one another, you don’t know what is going to happen,” Mrs. Clinton said at a rally this year. “We are seeing violence at political rallies in our country. That is the kind of thing you see on TV, you assume is far away, don’t you? Well, this, this hateful talk about immigrants, about Muslims, about women, I mean, enough, enough. It is not who we are.”
Corey Lewandowski, a senior adviser to the Trump campaign, said the press is overplaying the protest story.
“Mr. Trump and the campaign do not condone violence,” Mr. Lewandowski said. “The campaign rallies are attended by tens of thousands of people, and it’s no surprise the dishonest media is intent on focusing on a few professional agitators.”
David Yepsen, director of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University, saidMr. Trump’s rallies are “pretty unprecedented” and that the closest historical equivalent he could think of was George Wallace’s 1968 campaign and the way in which “he’d bait the media.”
“In a conventional campaign, such rallies and optics would hurt,” Mr. Yepsen said. “Just look at what the Chicago 1968 convention did to Democrats — made them look unfit to govern. ButTrump’s is an unconventional campaign.
“It’s a little early to see whether it works with general election audiences, such as independents in tossup states,” he said. “It fires up some voters and scares others. Trump doesn’t seem likely to tone it down. He’s going with what worked, and he seems to be his own best consultant.”
Polling from earlier this year, after the first round of violent protests, suggests voters do blameMr. Trump but blame the protesters even more.
Jeff Crouere, a Trump delegate from Louisiana who hosts a conservative radio talk show, said the protests have been net positives for the presumptive Republican nominee.
“Every time you see one of these protesters burn an American flag or attack a police officer or hurl a profanity-laced tirade against a Trump supporter, I think that reaffirms to all Americans thatDonald Trump is standing up for our country,” Mr. Crouere said. “I think the average American sees these people committing violence and burning the flag and says we affiliate more with the person who is waving the American flag, not the guy who is burning the American flag.”
EXCLUSIVE: The State Department’s former top watchdog, in an interview with Fox News, rejected Hillary Clinton’s repeated claims that her personal email use was in line with her predecessors’ – while saying he would have immediately opened an investigation if he caught wind of a secretary of state using such an account.
Howard Krongard, a George W. Bush administration appointee who served as the State Department inspector general from April 2005 to January 2008, cited his own experience in challenging Clinton’s insistence that her practices were nothing out of the ordinary.
“Certainly to my knowledge at least, Secretary [Condoleezza] Rice did not have a personal server. I certainly never either sent an email to one or received an email from one,” said Krongard, who served during Rice’s tenure.
Further, he said, “I would have been stunned had I been asked to send an email to her at a personal server, private address. I would have declined to do so on security grounds and if she had sent one to me, I probably would have started an investigation.”
Krongard noted that during Clinton’s four-year term, from January 2009 to January 2013, there was no Senate-confirmed inspector general in place. Suggesting the Clintons show a pattern of avoiding oversight, Krongard indicated that Hillary Clinton benefited from the fact there was no IG during her term.
"I would’ve been the most unpopular person in that building [had I been there]," Krongard said, emphasizing that the inspector general has broad powers and the ability to rein in even the most senior political appointees. "They are the people who enforce the rules, and there was no one enforcing the rules during that time."
Krongard spoke with Fox News before the current State Department inspector general’s office, led by Steve A. Linick, issued an extensive report on email practices of previous secretaries of state.
The day that report was issued, Clinton said in an interview that her use of personal email was consistent with predecessors Colin Powell and Rice.
"Just like previous secretaries of state, I used a personal email. Many people did. It was not at all unprecedented," she said.
But, as Krongard indicated, the May 25 IG report clearly stated that Rice did not use personal email for government business. It said Powell used personal email on a limited basis to connect with people outside the department, and he worked with the State Department to secure the system. The report found Clinton did neither.
The report concluded Clinton’s use of a private server and account was not approved, and broke agency rules. The report said by the time she became secretary, the rules had repeatedly been updated, and were “considerably more detailed and more sophisticated.”
Krongard resigned from the IG position in December 2007 after accusations he blocked Iraq-related investigations, charges he denied.
Regarding the 2,100 emails on Clinton’s server found to have contained classified information -- and another 22 “Top Secret” messages containing intelligence deemed too damaging to national security to make public – Krongard questioned how that material got there. He said it would take a deliberate act for the intelligence to "jump the gap" between the classified computer networks and Clinton's personal server.
"It could be done by taking a screen shot with … a camera of a classified email, take a screen shot and send it to an unclassified network. It could be copied, but there are restrictions in the State Department and elsewhere as to what copiers can work from a classified network and it can only be a secure copier. So that may not have been easy," Krongard said.
Asked if it could happen by accident, Krongard simply said, "No."
He also challenged Clinton and State Department claims that the emails in question were “retroactively classified.”
"I don't understand it, because it was either classified by the creator or it was classified by reason of where it came from or what network it was on,” Krongard said.
Clinton consistently has claimed nothing she sent or received was marked classified at the time. While technically correct, this distinction also appears misleading. A January 2009 non-disclosure agreement signed by Clinton confirms her understanding that "classified information is marked or unmarked.”
Rather, it is the content and source that determine classification. Former intelligence officials say the emails were improperly handled by Clinton and her team and, once reviewed by the authority that originated the information, the emails were given proper classification markings.
While there is no public confirmation the Clinton server was breached, former senior military and intelligence officials -- including Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, and former Defense Intelligence Agency chief Mike Flynn – have said they believe foreign intelligence services targeted Clinton's email system.
In a recent interview with Fox News, the Romanian hacker who goes by the name Guccifer said he accessed the Clinton server with ease in March 2013. Anonymous government officials were quick to dismiss the hacker's claims, while admitting he was very skilled and breached the accounts of 100 Americans, including Powell.