WARSAW (Reuters) - The award of the Nobel Peace Prize to jailed Belarusian human rights activist Ales Byalyatski is one for all political prisoners in Belarus, Belarusian opposition politician Pavel Latushko said on Friday. Byalyatski was awarded the prize on Friday alongside Russian human rights organisation Memorial and Ukrainian human rights organisation Center for Civil Liberties. "It's not only for him but for all political prisoners which we have now in Belarus," Latushko said. "It motivates all of us to struggle and we are sure we will win with the dictatorship of (Alexander) Lukashenko...
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On CNN Wednesday, Pulitzer Prize-winning tax expert David Cay Johnston predicted that now House Democrats have obtained tax returns from former President Donald Trump's years in office, they will try to put those returns out to the public and effectively "crowdsource" an audit, allowing people to look for signs of tax evasion or crimes.
The key obstacle, Johnston said, is that Trump's taxes still are not, legally speaking, a matter of public record, even after the lengthy court battle that made the IRS hand them over to congressional investigators.
"The tax returns in question are primarily from the period when Donald Trump was president," said anchor John Berman. "How does that affect the investigation?"
"I'd be much more interested in seeing the tax returns before he became president, because there's testimony in the ongoing New York City trial on tax cheating by the Trump Organization that they cleaned up their behavior once Donald Trump arrived in the White House," said Johnston. "But the issue the committee was concerned about was Donald Trump's repeated claims that he was persecuted by the IRS because he's a Christian — never mind in a book he called Christians fools and schmucks and idiots and is inherently anti-Christian. Are presidential candidates being treated properly by the IRS? That's an issue the Republicans might want to get into, depending on how facts turn out in the future. Not likely, but possible, since they're always trying to beat up the IRS."
"So the chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, Richie Neal, declined to release whether they will release these publicly," said Berman. "Will any of these see the light of day?"
"They are concerned about a section of the tax return that makes tax returns a public record," said Johnston. "They used to be public records a hundred years ago, but they aren't now. He's having a meeting with his caucus on the committee, and I think one of the things they're certain to discuss is, is there a way for them to put this into the congressional record so that it's always there and people on the outside can basically crowdsource an audit?"
David Cay Johnston says Democrats will try to "crowdsource" a Trump tax audit www.youtube.com
On CNN Wednesday, former federal prosecutor Elie Honig walked through how the newly-elected Republican House majority could try to sabotage the criminal investigations into the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.
Republicans don't have the power to order the Justice Department to shut down the investigation. However, warned Honig, they could launch counter-investigations of their own designed to harass or distract the DOJ.
"We just heard that House Republican Leader, Kevin McCarthy, who may be Speaker within a few weeks, is about to hold hearings around the security around the Capitol on January 6th and that the January 6th Committee preserve all records and transcripts," said anchor John Berman. "What does that mean? How does that play out?"
"This is an example of elections have consequences," said Honig. "Republicans soon will have the power to hold hearings. They issued this instruction to the January 6th committee to preserve their records. I don't think they need to be told that. Of course they're going to preserve their records. But we should get used to this. We're going to see Kevin McCarthy investigate the investigators on the January 6th thing."
In particular, Honig pointed to a recent tweet by McCarthy ordering Garland to "preserve your documents and clear your calendar."
"Merrick Garland doesn't need to be told that either," said Honig. "But related to the Mar-a-Lago search, we should get used to seeing the Republican-controlled House — they can't stop or derail a criminal investigation, but they can make life difficult and complicated for Merrick Garland and the Justice Department, and I look for them to try to do that."
Watch below or at this link.
Elie Honig says House GOP will "make life difficult" for Merrick Garland www.youtube.com
Georgia Republican chair had 'substantively' large role in trying to throw out election results: judge
On Wednesday, The Hill reported that a state judge in Georgia has singled out David Shafer, the chair of the Georgia Republican Party, as having a singularly significant role in the plot to overturn the results of the election in that state.
Shafer, who has been subpoenaed in connection with a state investigation into the plot, was one of the fake Trump electors in Georgia. But, the court ruled, he had a more significant role than the other electors.
"Judge Robert McBurney in the Superior Court of Fulton County, Georgia, said in a court ruling that David Shafer was 'not just another alternate elector' and that he must have separate counsel in an investigation probing efforts to overturn Georgia’s 2020 results," reported Brad Dress. "Shafer’s 'role in establishing and convening the slate of alternate electors, his communications with other key players in the District Attorney’s investigation, and his role in other postelection efforts to call into question the validity of the official vote count in Georgia' separate him from the other 10 alternate electors, the judge wrote."
The ruling means that Shafer cannot have the same legal counsel as the other electors.
"McBurney is overseeing the court proceedings of a special grand jury in Fulton County investigating allegations that Trump and his allies wrongfully intervened to reverse now-President Biden’s victory in the state," said the report. "In the wide-ranging case, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis (D), who opened the criminal probe last year, is investigating 16 Georgia Republicans who were offered as fake electors for the state in the 2020 election. The fake electors signed certificates declaring Trump had won the presidential election and offering themselves as official electors in order to certify Georgia’s election results for the former president."
The fake electors were part of a scheme, outlined in an infamous memo by Trump-aligned lawyer John Eastman, where former Vice President Mike Pence would use the fake electors as a pretext to throw out the real ones in key states, throwing the election to Trump. Pence ultimately believed this scheme was illegal and refused to take part in it.