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Federal prosecutors charge Giuliani-tied Turkish bank with scheme to violate US sanctions on Iran

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On Tuesday, federal prosecutors from the Southern District of New York announced charges against a Turkish bank for fraud, money laundering, and a scheme to circumvent U.S. sanctions on Iran.

“As alleged in today’s indictment, Halkbank’s systemic participation in the illicit movement of billions of dollars’ worth of Iranian oil revenue was designed and executed by senior bank officials,” said U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman. “The bank’s audacious conduct was supported and protected by high-ranking Turkish government officials, some of whom received millions of dollars in bribes to promote and protect the scheme. Halkbank will now have to answer for its conduct in an American court.”

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These charges come as new scrutiny falls on Reza Zarrab, the Turkish-Iranian gold trader who was convicted of bribery as part of the Halkbank scheme. Rudy Giuliani previously acted as counsel for Zarrab and, at his urging in 2017, President Donald Trump tried to get then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to relay to the Justice Department not to pursue the case. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has also leaned on both Trump and former President Barack Obama to drop the Halkbank investigation.

Halkbank also made news recently after Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) told a prank caller pretending to represent the Turkish government that Trump was willing to help them with the investigation.


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#PresidentPelosi Trends After Sondland Testimony Implicates Pence in Trump Ukraine Scheme

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The hashtag #PresidentPelosi was trending Wednesday as Ambassador Gordon Sondland testified to the House Intelligence Committee in the impeachment hearings on President Donald Trump's Ukrainian schemes for assistance in the 2020 election and implicated Vice President Mike Pence in the effort.

If Trump and Pence are both removed from office over their involvement in the plot, the next in line for the presidency is House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).

"I'm fine with Pelosi serving as interim president until we hold an election," tweeted activist Bree Newsom. "Both Trump and Pence are implicated in this conspiracy to extort Ukraine."

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Trump claims not to ‘know’ Gordon Sondland very well — but the evidence suggests otherwise

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President Donald Trump attempted to distance himself Wednesday from his hand-selected European Union Ambassador Gordon Sondland. At the same time, Trump claimed that Sondland’s stunning testimony, which alleged that the president had ordered a “quid pro quo” with Ukraine, in fact, vindicated him.

“Was there a ‘quid pro quo’?” Sondland said in his testimony to the House Intelligence Committee Wednesday. "The answer is ‘yes.’”

Sondland further claimed that “everyone was in the loop” and all actions were “directed” by the president.

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The latest GOP defense of Trump crumbles in impeachment hearing

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It was a day of blockbuster day of testimony from E.U. Ambassador Gordon Sondland, in which Sondland — who once gave Donald Trump a million dollars for his inauguration — decided to save his own hide by ratting out not just Trump and his lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, but seemingly half the senior staff of the White House.

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