ORLANDO, Fla. — Communications between former Florida state Sen. Frank Artiles and roughly two dozen individuals and organizations, which were obtained by Miami prosecutors investigating an alleged vote-siphoning scheme in 2020′s state Senate races, will not be released publicly, a South Florida judge ruled Thursday. Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Ariana Fajardo Orshan is also considering withholding from public disclosure a list of Artiles’ contacts that also was seized by prosecutors. Fajardo Orshan said she expected to issue a ruling on that matter within a week, weighing the privacy rights...
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Of late, Trump and his lawyers have been on defense—battling allegations of felony tax fraud and, separately, defamation, along with suits brought by numerous police officers over Trump’s role in the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection—but this time, it’s House Democrats who are treading lightly out of fear of fines or imprisonment if they overstep and divulge the former president’s personal financial information without legal justification.
“It’s very sensitive information,” current, if outgoing, House Ways and Means (i.e. taxes) Committee Chair Richard Neal told reporters at the Capitol this week. “We intend to deal with it professionally.”
After a nearly four-year battle, at the end of November, the Supreme Court ruled the Treasury Department had to give Chair Neal six years’ worth of Trump’s tax returns. Raw Story has confirmed the documents have been passed to Neal’s committee. Even so, he’s legally obligated to stay mum.
“I have not acknowledged that I have them or don’t have them,” the Massachusetts Democrat told reporters in his ornate office just off the House floor. “I’m not going to comment on that.”
Neal, with his team of lawyers across from him motioning and counseling caution, divulged that he’s appointed agents to review the documents.
Again, the talkative Neal couldn’t, legally, say much more, which the seventeen-term House veteran lamented to Raw Story.
“It’s unusual,” Neal said. “It’s been quite a ride.”
Neal and Democrats only have about 30 days left in the majority, and the GOP is already measuring drapes.
Republicans, following Trump’s lead, call it a witch hunt. They’re prepared to bury most all Trump investigations when they take over the House on Jan. 3, but the chair maintains there’s nothing partisan about their investigation into Trump’s finances.
“This is about the presidency,” Neal said. “Every president since Richard Nixon, they have offered up their taxes for review and analysis, and virtually every case since the Nixon presidency, they’ve been volunteered.”
Trump promised to release his tax returns, though, in breaking contemporary precedent, he never did. Neal says that’s where the problem lies.
“Every president since Richard Nixon, they’ve offered up their tax forms for review and analysis. And in virtually every case now since the Nixon presidency, it’s been volunteered,” Neal said. “I think it would be fair to say it would be a good idea for presidents down the road to be required to release their tax forms.”
Neal huddled for more than an hour on Thursday with Democratic members of his tax-writing committee. He heard from many of them, while also laying out the minefield confronting them: One misstep and Democrats may find themselves in court.
“This is bigger than any of us thought when we started,” Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) told reporters after the meeting with Neal. “It’s not easy, and if we're not going to violate our oaths, we better know what we're talking about, and what we can't be talking about.”
While Trump was in the White House, his Treasury Department refused to hand over his returns, which reminded many committee members of the Nixon era.
“The sole basis for [Chair Neal] having these records is to demonstrate or determine whether the presidential audit system worked effectively,” Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX) told reporters outside the tax-writing committee. “We know going back to the Nixon era that the IRS at that point claimed some things about how great they did, and when the records were obtained, it turned out that—while the president may not have been a crook—he had not paid all the taxes that he had due.”
Democrats have a short window to decide whether they can legally make Trump’s returns public, which most in the party seem to want. Doggett and others fear time is running out.
He says once they start digging into Trump’s IRS forms, they’ll likely need other supporting documents from the former president.
If Neal does decide to move forward and attempt to make Trump’s returns public, the entire Ways and Means Committee—Republicans included—will have to hold an executive session so they can debate the merits and then, if Democrats get their way, approve the disclosure.
Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.
Doggett knows Jan. 3 is a blink away.
“It's a big task to look at such voluminous filings, even though I believe those voluminous filings are probably insufficient to complete the job,” Doggett said. “All that we can say with certainty is, something will occur before this Congress is out of session.”
U.S. Senator-elect John Fetterman on Friday announced two key staff hires for his office on Friday, including tapping the author of a book calling for the abolishment of the arcane Senate filibuster to be his next chief of staff.
The Pennsylvania Democrat said in a statement that he has hired Adam Jentleson to oversee his D.C. office as chief of staff and that longtime party operative and labor organizer Joseph Pierce will be his state director.
A veteran of the Senate who served under former Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, Jentleson also wrote the 2021 book, Kill Switch: The Rise of the Modern State and the Crippling of American Democracy, which examines Senate rules that powerful interests have exploited to obstruct progressive legislation with overwhelming majority support among the American public.
Throughout the first two years of the Biden administration, Jentleson was a key voice calling for Senate reforms to enact pressing priorities.
When Republicans blocked an effort in the Senate in May of 2021 to establish an official inquiry into the January 6 insurrection, Jentleson, then serving as executive director of the advocacy group Battle Born Collective, said it would be a "dereliction of duty" for Democrats not to reform the chamber's rules to push the measure through.
"There is no longer any question about whether Republicans will put country over party—it is clear to anyone with eyes to see that they will not," Jentleson said at the time. "The only question that remains is whether Democrats will take the steps necessary to protect our democracy, and end the filibuster."
On the campaign trail ahead of the midterm elections, Fetterman repeatedly vowed to support the end of the filibuster in the Senate if it would allow for key legislation to pass on gun control, labor protections, abortion rights, or voting access.
At a September rally with voters, Fetterman denounced the U.S. Supreme Court ruling destroying the abortion rights and said, "Send me to D.C. and you will know I will be there to be that vote to scrap the filibuster and codify Roe v. Wade."
While Jentleson has been spearheading Fetterman's transition team since winning in Pennsylvania against Republican Mehmet Oz, Pierce served as statewide political director on the winning campaign.
"Joe and Adam are the best in their fields and I am honored that they have both accepted key staff positions for my office," Fetterman said in a statement on Friday.
"It will be invaluable to have a veteran of the Senate and a veteran of state politics in these key positions as we serve the people of Pennsylvania," he added. "Between Adam's deep understanding of the Senate and Joe's wealth of knowledge and experience serving the people of our commonwealth, I am confident that my office will be ready to fight and deliver for the people of Pennsylvania on day one."
Failed California gubernatorial candidate and current Fox News contributor Caitlyn Jenner said on Friday that she didn't blame anyone for being offended by Kanye West's overt praise of Adolf Hitler, but she nonetheless wished him well.
During an appearance on Fox News, Jenner, who is an adoptive parent of West's ex-wife Kim Kardashian, emphasized that she believed West was going through a rough period, which has contributed to his outbursts in which he attacked "the Jewish media" for supposedly trying to make Nazis look bad.
"I've known, obviously, Kanye for a very long time, he's always been very, very good to me," she began. "And I just wish him well."
Jenner was then asked if she'd been in contact with West recently, and she replied that she hadn't spoken with him in the last few months.
"He's got challenges and I just hope him the best," she said. "He's always been very good, he's been a nice guy when I've been around him!"
Jenner acknowledged that something appears amiss with West, but she quickly added that she had to be "very careful" when discussing "family stuff."
Watch the video below or at this link.
\u201cCaitlyn Jenner offers Kanye West well wishes after he praised Hitler and Nazis on Thursday and posted a series of offensive antisemitic tweets:\n\n\u201cHe\u2019s a really nice guy \u2026 Kanye is Kanye.\u201d\u201d— The Recount (@The Recount) 1669996688