‘Strong reason to believe’ more indictments could be coming Trump Org CFO Weisselberg’s attorney tells judge

The attorney for indicted Trump Organization president and chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg, told a judge Monday he believes more indictments are coming down the pipe. We have strong reason to believe there could be other indictments coming," Bryan Skarlatos, attorney for Weisselberg, told a New York State Supreme Court judge, according to CNN's Jim Sciutto. Sciutto says Skarlatos told the judge "he expects more people to be charged in criminal probe." Journalist Andrea Bernstein adds the attorney also said: "We are shooting at a moving target." Weisselberg is appearing before the judge on charges related to an alleged 15-year scheme to defraud taxpayers.

Earlier: NY Prosecutors ‘Aggressively’ Pursuing Trump Tax-Fraud Probe as Weisselberg Returns to Court: Report

Here are the ways Georgia could make it harder for residents to vote

The United States' political map changed quite a bit with the presidential election of 2020. Multiple notoriously Republican states turned blue as Democratic voters cast their ballots in an effort to ensure former President Donald Trump did not win a second term.

Now Republican lawmakers in various states are looking to implement more restrictive measures to make it far more difficult for voters to cast ballots in upcoming elections. The Brennan Center for Justice, a voting rights advocacy group, notes that since Feb. 2020, more than 165 bills in 33 states have been proposed to restrict voting practices.

According to Five Thirty-Eight, there are currently two key election bills that have been proposed in the state of Georgia: House Bill 531 and Senate Bill 241.

On Thursday, Feb. 18, lawmakers in Georgia's state House unveiled House Bill 531 only one hour before the hearing to discuss the proposed bill. The two bills have garnered lots of attention and opposition due to the lengthy list of line items they include, all of which would likely make it more difficult for residents to vote.

The publication highlighted that House Bill 531 aims to bring a number of additional voting requirements into legislation including:

    • Require absentee voters to submit their driver's license number, state ID number or a copy of their photo ID with their ballot.
    • Shorten the window in which voters can request absentee ballots; they would have to do so between 11 weeks before the election and two Fridays before the election. (Under current laws, Georgia residents have the right to request absentee ballots up to 180 days before the election and one Friday before the election.)
    • Prevent election officials from mailing absentee ballots until four weeks before the election.
    • Bar election officials from mailing unsolicited absentee-ballot applications to voters.
    • Limit the early-voting period to business hours during the three weeks preceding the election, plus the second Saturday before the election; early voting would no longer be allowed any other day, including Sundays.
    • Clarify that no one can give food or water to people standing in line to vote. (Separately, Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger has argued that this is already against the law, and he has announced his intention to start enforcing it more.)
    • Allow ballot drop boxes at early-voting sites only, and only when those sites are open.
    • Limit the use of mobile voting facilities, such as buses, to emergencies.
    • Throw out provisional ballots cast in the wrong precinct.
    • Prohibit counties from accepting outside funding for elections.

On Tuesday, Feb. 23, Georgia state Senate lawmakers also unveiled their bill which aims to implement more voting barriers to restrict voting practices and absentee ballots. Under Senate Bill 241, Georgia residents would be required to do the following in order to vote: The latest efforts in Georgia underscore Republicans' concerns about the impact of Democratic voters and how they could change the face of American politics in the years to come.

    • Require that voters have an excuse to vote absentee — Lawmakers are demanding this change be implemented despite Georgia residents being allowed to participate in no-excuse absentee voting since 2005.
    • Require a driver's license number or state ID number to apply for an absentee ballot on paper (this is already required to apply for one online).
    • Require absentee voters to get their ballot envelope signed by a witness and enclose a copy of their photo ID with the ballot.
    • Empower the state to remove local election officials from their posts.
    • Also limit the use of mobile voting facilities to emergencies.

Since 1988, the Republican Party has only managed to win the popular vote in one presidential election, which was the 2004 re-election of former President George W. Bush. The trend in political party preference signals a long-term issue for Republicans.

Republicans are aggressively stepping up their voter suppression campaigns ahead of the 2022 midterms: report

With Democrats now in control of the White House as well as the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives, Republicans are hoping to regain their majority in either or both Houses of Congress in the 2022 midterms. When Republicans cannot win on the issues, they resort to voter suppression and, in House districts, gerrymandering — and articles by Mother Jones' Ari Berman and the Washington Post's Paul Waldman outline the voter suppression extremes that Republicans are resorting to.

"After record turnout in 2020, Republican-controlled states appear to be in a race to the bottom to see who can pass the most egregious new barriers to voting," Berman reports. "Georgia is Ground Zero for the party's escalating war on voting, targeting the voting methods that were used most by Democratic voters in 2020 and which contributed to flipping the state blue and electing two Democratic senators."

Berman notes that Republican Mike Dugan, majority leader in the Georgia Senate, has introduced a bill that, if passed, would repeal no-excuse absentee voting in the Peach State.

"Under his proposal, only a small subset of voters, such as those who are out of town, disabled, or over 65 — a demographic that leans strongly Republican — will be eligible to vote by mail," Berman explains. "The small percentage of Georgians who can still cast ballots by mail will have to get a witness signature on their ballot and attach a copy of photo identification, which requires access to a copier or printer. The new law would make Georgia one of the most restrictive states in the country for mail voting."

Meanwhile, in the Georgia House of Representatives, Republicans have introduced a bill that would eliminate voting on Sunday. In other words, Georgia Republicans in both houses of the state legislature are going out of their way to make voting as difficult as possible.

In Iowa, Republicans have introduced a bill that would greatly reduce early voting and voting by mail. County officials would be forbidden to send absentee ballot request forms to voters.

Waldman, in his Washington Post column, notes that Republicans are "starting entire organizations dedicated to finding ways to keep Democrats from the polls" — for example, former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli has started an organization called the Election Transparency Initiative, whose goal, according to Waldman, is "to make sure election laws aren't changed to make it easier for people to vote, especially people who might vote for Democrats." And Waldman adds that former Sen. Kelly Loeffler, a far-right Republican, has a voter suppression campaign of her own.

"Something tells me these aren't the last conservative organizations we'll see devoting themselves to fighting the expansion of voting rights and promoting voter suppression," Waldman warns. "The GOP's policy priorities are widely unpopular, and its most well-known elected officials are the targets of revulsion and ridicule. The Republican Party knows that it cannot win a national majority if voting is easy and smooth for everyone. So, election laws must be shaped to make it harder for some people than others. It's about the most important political project Republicans have."

George Conway accuses Lincoln Project of violating federal law as scandal grows

The Lincoln Project appears to be in a political crisis following a bombshell report on predatory behavior toward young men by co-founder John Weaver.

On Thursday, New York magazine published a report by Miranda Green titled, "The Predator in the Lincoln Project John Weaver used his power to get jobs for young men he allegedly harassed. His colleagues were warned."

Following publication, co-founder George Conway called for an independent counsel to investigate.

Later in the evening, the group raised eyebrows by posting screenshots that appeared to show private Twitter DMs of former New Hampshire Republican Party Chair Jennifer Horn.

"Lincoln Project seems to have taken down photos it posted of Jennifer Horn's Twitter account that it seems rather unlikely she gave her former colleagues permission to access, screenshot and post," New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman posted to Twitter.

Before the tweets were deleted, Conway retweeted the screenshots and suggested they were a violation of federal law.

"This looks on its face to be a violation of federal law and should be taken down immediately," Conway tweeted.

The Lincoln Project announced it would hire an outside investigator as six former employees of the organization ask to be released from non-disclosure agreements.

Emily Ramshaw, the CEO of The 19th News says the publication will not be intimidated and will continue to pursue its investigation.

Far-right social network Parler wanted to bribe Trump to join it

While in office, former Donald Trump repeatedly profited off of both the presidency and his businesses. So it isn't really surprising that Trump tried to profit off of the far-right Twitter-copycat Parler too. Spoiler alert: It didn't work.

"The Trump Organization negotiated on behalf of then-president Donald Trump to make Parler his primary social network, but it had a condition: an ownership stake in return for joining," a recent Buzzfeed News report reveals. The talks reportedly began last summer and resumed after Trump lost the 2020 election.

Parler offered the Trump Organization a 40% stake in the company for Trump to join, with the idea that it would eventually challenge both Twitter and Facebook if Trump promised to post his content there four hours before posting it anywhere else. At a June 2020 meeting at Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort in Floria, Parler's now-former CEO John Matze and shareholders Dan Bongino and Jeffrey Wernick met with Trump's former campaign manager, accused grifter and spouse abuser Brad Parscale, as well as Trump campaign lawyer Alex Cannon.

Here's the deal's details:

"Upon completion of that deal, half of that stake would have been given immediately to the Trump Organization, while the other half would have been doled out in tranches over the 24-month period of the agreement.... Parler also asked that Trump link back to Parler when posting to other social media sites or emailing his supporters, and to allow the company to use his email lists to promote its platform. In addition, Parler wanted Trump to make introductions to any potential investors or advertisers."

Surprisingly, "the White House counsel's office soon put a stop to the talks, one person with knowledge of the discussions said, ruling that such a deal while Trump was president would violate ethics rules," Buzzfeed reports.

Then, talks completely disintegrated after the attempted coup at the U.S. Capitol on January 6. After the attempted coup, Amazon, Apple, and Google all booted Parler from their services because the social network had become a hotbed for right-wingers threatening violence and insurrection.

Parler has remained offline ever since. This week, Matze was booted as its CEO by the company's board and was also stripped of his severance and equity in the company. Matze claims he was booted because he wanted the so-called "free speech" network to introduce content moderation and ban accounts associated with far-right extremists, although the company has said his claim is inaccurate.

In addition to hosting far-right conspiracy theorists and bigots, Parler has also had trouble with child pornography being posted on its network, though the company refutes this as well.

The Trump family and Trump Organization, run by his sons, have both repeatedly made international business deals that benefitted from Trump's standing as president, according to Vox, CBS News, Politico, The Los Angeles Times and other publications.

Jewish Republicans 'offended and appalled' by anti-Semitic QAnon congresswoman

The Republican Jewish Coalition issued a statement on Friday condemning Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA).

The statement came one day after Greene was exposed for pushing an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory that the California wildfires were started by a giant laser in space.

In their statement, the Republican Jewish Coalition noted the group broke with tradition to support Greene's primary opponent, "because we found Greene's past behavior deeply offensive. She repeatedly used offensive language in long online video diatribes, promoted bizarre political conspiracy theories, and refused to admit a mistake after posing for photos with a long-time white supremacist leader. It is unfortunate that she prevailed in her election despite this terrible record."

"The RJC has never supported or endorsed Marjorie Taylor Greene. We are offended and appalled by her comments and her actions. We opposed her as a candidate and we continue to oppose her now. She is far outside the mainstream of the Republican Party, and the RJC is working closely with the House Republican leadership regarding next steps in this matter," the group wrote.

'How about a counter-argument based on fact?': Warren destroys CNBC host in wealth tax debate

"There is no evidence that anyone is going to leave this country because of a two-cent wealth tax."

That's the two cents Sen. Elizabeth Warren shared on Thursday in response to CNBC host Sara Eisen's fear-mongering about the alleged consequences of requiring the super-rich to pay their fair share in taxes.

After Eisen asserted that a wealth tax "might... chase wealthy people out of this country as we've seen has happened with...other wealth taxes," the Democratic senator from Massachusetts asked: "Can we just keep in mind, right now, in America, who's paying taxes?"

"You know the bottom 99% last year paid about 7.5% of their total wealth in taxes," said Warren. "The top 0.001%, you know how much they paid? They paid about 3.2%."

"If they added a two-cent wealth tax," Warren noted, "they'd still be paying less than most of the people in this entire nation... Someone has to pay to keep this nation going. And right now, what the 0.001%, the wealthiest people in this country, have said is: 'Let's let everyone else pay for it.'"

The reason for that, Warren explained, is because the mega-rich want to continue to increase their wealth as much and as quickly as possible.

"Can we have just a little fairness here?" the senator pleaded.

After Eisen chimed in to say she was simply playing devil's advocate, Warren retorted: "How about a counter-argument... that's based on fact?"

The fact is, Warren said, "The wealthiest in this country are paying less in taxes than everyone else."

"You're telling me that they would forfeit their American citizenship if they had to... step up and pay a little more?" the senator asked. "I'm just calling your bluff on that. That's not going to happen."

Warren's defense of a wealth tax comes as the ongoing GameStop saga has provoked renewed scrutiny of Wall Street's role in intensifying inequality, leading to calls for greater financial regulation and redistributive policies such as a financial transactions tax.

In her appearance on CNBC, Warren pointed out the stark disconnect between the stock market and the real economy. The apparent rigging of the rules to favor hedge funds over ordinary people has been exposed not only by trading app Robinhood's heavy-handed and widely-condemned crackdown on Redditors who tried to out-maneuver the masters of casino capitalism, but also by the fact that 660 billionaires have added $1.1 trillion to their collective wealth since mid-March 2020, in the midst of immense working-class suffering.

While millions of U.S. households have been devastated by the Covid-19 pandemic and ensuing economic meltdown, "the stock market, which has become the giant casino and the playground for the billionaires, just keeps spinning upward," said Warren.

Echoing Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who on Thursday lambasted a billionaire investor for complaining about the prospect of the uber-wealthy having to pay their fair share in taxes while millions go hungry, Warren commented on the "K-shaped" nature of the anemic recovery.

"The people at the top are getting richer and richer and richer," Warren said. "And people who make less than $40,000 a year are now suffering through 20% unemployment. They're getting poorer and poorer and poorer."

Chastising Republicans for their refusal to deploy adequate funding for vaccine distribution, nutrition assistance, and the safe re-opening of child care centers and schools, Warren added that the coronavirus crisis could accelerate wealth inequality "at a rate that we had never even imagined in our worst nightmares."

Warren continued: "Tens of millions of people across this country are out of work. Tens of millions more are on the threshold of losing either their homes or their apartments. Tens of millions more have depleted their savings and don't have enough money to put food on the table."

"That is a core part of the American economy," Warren added, "and that's where Congress needs to respond and we need to respond quickly and forcefully."

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