Major media outlets have been reporting extensively on the role that Allen Weisselberg, chief financial officer at the Trump Organization, plays in Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr.'s criminal investigation of the company. But Vanity Fair's Bess Levin, in her June 21 column, emphasizes that Weisselberg isn't the only one in the Trump Organization who Vance's office is taking a close look at. Vance, Levin notes, is also probing Trump Organization COO Matthew Calamari.
"As part of its criminal investigation into Donald Trump, the Manhattan District Attorney's Office has, for many months now, been trying to get Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg — who knows where all the bodies are buried and could likely put the dots together for a jury — to flip," Levin explains. "Thus far, it doesn't appear as if he's done so, but the fact that Weisselberg could reportedly face charges this summer presumably ups the chances he'll cooperate to save himself. In the meantime, though, Cyrus Vance, Jr.'s office is apparently looking into another figure who may have some extremely helpful information to share. The Wall Street Journal reports that New York prosecutors are investigating Matthew Calamari, Trump's bodyguard turned chief operating officer, and the question of whether or not he was the recipient of 'tax-free fringe benefits,' as part of their probe into the company possibly giving out such perks to employees as a way to avoid paying taxes."
Calamari hasn't been charged with anything in connection with Vance's investigation of the Trump Organization. Neither has Weisselberg or former President Donald Trump. But Levin notes that according to Wall Street Journal sources, prosecutors have advised both Calamari and his son, Matthew Calamari Jr., to hire lawyers — which, Levin observes, is "generally not a great sign."
"(The older) Calamari has reportedly lived for years in an apartment at the Trump Park Avenue building on the East Side and driven a Mercedes leased through the Trump Organization," Levin notes. "His son, Matthew Calamari, Jr., also lives in a company-owned building. Junior joined the family business in 2011 right after graduating high school and was named corporate director of security in 2017, according to a LinkedIn profile."
Vance's office recently convened a grand jury, which, according to Washington Post reporters Jonathan O'Connell, Shayna Jacobs, David A. Fahrenthold and Josh Dawsey, is "expected to decide whether to indict the former president, according to two people familiar with the development, and is pressing Weisselberg to provide evidence implicating Trump."
Conservative YouTuber Steven Crowder mocked for bailing from debate after liberal Sam Seder showed up
Conservative YouTube commentator Steven Crowder is the subject of online mockery after a meltdown he had due to being tricked tricked into debating liberal podcaster Sam Seder on the latest episode of the H3 Podcast with Ethan Klein.
Crowder became upset when Klein added Seder as a surprise guest to the planned debate, who Crowder has been accused of avoiding debating in the past.
"Oh no, it's Sam Seder! What a f***ing nightmare! I had no idea this was going to happen," he says. "I had no idea this was going to happen. I thought Ethan was a standup guy."
Whether or not Crowder was joking or if the whole thing was planned is unclear.
"I told you, I guarantee you he would do anything he can to avoid a debate," he said before mentioning Klein's recent feud with Trisha Paytas, saying, "He just takes advantage of women with mental health issues."
"Let's debate Stephen, don't be a coward," Klein said. "Debate the issues."
Seder, who hosts The Majority Report, defended Klein, saying, "Yeah, but you, you would do anything to avoid talking to me."
"Sam, I don't start debates with people based on lies!" Crowder said before shutting off his webcam.
Watch the video below:
Ethan Klein Debates Steven Crowder (Ft. Sam Seder) - H3 Podcast # 248 www.youtube.com
The situation sparked mockery on Twitter:
A lot of people are calling Steven Crowder a coward and a fool for running from Sam Seder but the thing is those people are exactly right.— Stefan Sirucek 4' 11" IQ 3000 (@Stefan Sirucek 4' 11" IQ 3000) 1624385896.0
I was looking forward to this because I wanted Sam Sedar to expose Steven crowder for the babbling idiot he is, but… https://t.co/th9s8Gmu2h— Mightykeef (@Mightykeef) 1624371694.0
The aftermath of the Steven Crowder/Sam Seder debate. https://t.co/qjfDDyJmaX— New American Left (@New American Left) 1624383104.0
When Steven Crowder trends on Twitter, I think about how Fox News fired him and then "a senior-level source" slamme… https://t.co/pZ9TlP6QZX— Eric Hananoki (@Eric Hananoki) 1624375892.0
Seeing Steven Crowder run for the hills in that “debate” was a perfect start to my day. https://t.co/7eTTyZV3E5— Kahlief “Shaded Internationally” Adams (@Kahlief “Shaded Internationally” Adams) 1624377127.0
This is the top post on Steven Crowder’s subreddit right now. https://t.co/ouYZjSIliv— KnowSomething 🐵 (@KnowSomething 🐵) 1624374275.0
Does a single second go by on any day where Steven Crowder isn't the biggest loser on the internet?— CircleToonsHD (@CircleToonsHD) 1624370246.0
Steven Crowder’s “Change My Mind” tactic was designed to put the burden of proof on other people so that he can dis… https://t.co/oydSzQk67B— David C Bell (@David C Bell) 1624385794.0
New York Times columnist wallops Kyrsten Sinema for defending Senate filibuster in 'delusional' op-ed
On the eve of Tuesday's vote to begin debate on the For the People Act, Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona published an op-ed defending the archaic procedural rule that Senate Republicans are expected to wield to tank the popular voting rights legislation.
Headlined "We have more to lose than gain by ending the filibuster," Sinema's Washington Post piece regurgitates the well-worn argument that eliminating the Senate's 60-vote rule would backfire on Democrats by leaving Republicans with fewer legislative obstacles next time they're in power.
"My support for retaining the 60-vote threshold is not based on the importance of any particular policy. It is based on what is best for our democracy. The filibuster compels moderation and helps protect the country from wild swings between opposing policy poles," Sinema wrote. "To those who want to eliminate the legislative filibuster to expand healthcare access or retirement benefits: Would it be good for our country if we did, only to later see that legislation replaced by legislation dividing Medicaid into block grants, slashing earned Social Security and Medicare benefits, or defunding women's reproductive health services?"
But as observers readily pointed out, the filibuster does not protect Medicaid and other spending programs given that they can be gutted through the budget reconciliation process, which is exempt from the filibuster and requires just a simple-majority vote.
However, the strict rules governing reconciliation prevent lawmakers from using the process to pass legislation that doesn't have a direct budgetary impact, such as a bill expanding voting rights. Progressives argue that by refusing to touch the legislative filibuster, Sinema and other conservative Democrats are hamstringing their own party's agenda while doing little to thwart the GOP's.
Rep. Mondaire Jones (D-N.Y.) said Monday that Sinema and other filibuster defenders are effectively arguing that "we should let Republicans destroy democracy now because at some indeterminate time in the future they may try again."
New York Times columnist Jamelle Bouie characterized Sinema's op-ed as "unbelievably weak" and said its "assertions range from being demonstrably false to disingenuous to delusional."
"Sinema's argument amounts to an argument against the exercise of power at all since, if you use it, what happens when the other side does too?" Bouie added.
Writing for the Post earlier this year, Tré Easton of the Battle Born Collective argued that fear of what Republicans will do if the filibuster is eliminated "shirks the responsibility to be proactive."
"History has shown that progressive reforms are hard to undo once they are enacted," Easton wrote. "Regardless of whether they say they like big government, people of all political stripes seem to appreciate the things the federal government provides them. Progressive expansions of rights and the social safety net have proved resistant to repeal through the legislative process."
"History also shows us that by its very nature, the filibuster benefits conservatives far more than progressives," Easton added. "It is an inherently conservative tool: It makes it harder to achieve change. Conservatives can get most of what they want simply by blocking progress, and they can achieve many of the rollbacks of rights and regulations that they seek through the courts and other means. Progressives, on the other hand, require large-scale legislation to achieve their goals."
Sinema's latest defense of the filibuster came as she faced growing grassroots pressure to end her support for the 60-vote rule, which is standing in the way of not just the For the People Act but also the Equality Act, immigration reform, and other Democratic agenda items. A simple-majority vote is needed to eliminate or reform the filibuster.
On Monday, more than 140 LGBTQ+ Arizonans signed an open letter demanding that Sinema "join in the movement to end the filibuster."
"By casting the decisive vote to end the filibuster, you would open the flood gates of possibility to pass popular reforms supported by the majority of Americans. Among these transformative reforms, the Equality Act, which you cosponsored, will prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity in employment, housing, public accommodations, education, federally funded programs, credit, and jury service," the letter reads. "We have a rare opportunity in this moment in history."
Ahead of Tuesday's expected procedural vote on the For the People Act, the advocacy group Fix Our Senate launched a seven-figure ad campaign pressing Senate Democrats to abolish the filibuster if the legislation fails to advance. If passed, the bill would neutralize hundreds of voter suppression bills that Republicans have introduced at the state level across the country.
"The choice for senators today is clear: It's either protecting Americans' voting rights and strengthening our democracy or preserving the Jim Crow filibuster," said Fix Our Senate spokesperson Eli Zupnick.
Under current Senate rules, even a motion to proceed to debate on legislation can be filibustered—a reality that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) alluded to in floor remarks previewing Tuesday's vote.
"Tomorrow, the Senate will take a vote on whether to start debate on legislation to protect Americans' voting rights," Schumer said Monday. "It is not a vote on any particular policy. It is not a vote on this bill or that bill. It is a vote on whether the Senate should simply debate the issue about voting rights, the crucial issue of voting rights, in this country."
"Now, by all rights, we shouldn't have to debate voting rights on the floor of the United States Senate," Schumer added. "These rights should be sacrosanct. But the events of the last few months compel us to have this debate—now."
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