This Top Mueller Aide Once Worked on an Investigation of a Trump Associate Tied to the Russian Mob – Cheryl Collins and David CornJun. 23, 2017 11:44 AM


Andrew Weissmann helped oversee the bizarre Felix Sater case.

Andrew WeissmannAndrew Weissmann led the Enron prosecutions in 2004.Tony Gutierrez/AP

While President Donald Trump fumes about the expanding Russia investigation, the man in charge of the probe has been busy assembling a murderer’s row of experienced prosecutors boasting backgrounds in government corruption, fraud, cybersecurity, corporate crime, and organized crime. One of the first hires made by special counsel Robert Mueller was Andrew Weissmann, the leader of the Justice Department’s criminal fraud division. And in a curious twist, Weissmann once played a role in an unusual case—involving the Mafia, the Russian mob, and securities fraud—that is now oddly linked to Trump.

Weissmann has a reputation as a fierce prosecutor, having headed up the Justice Department’s Enron Task Force. Before that, as an assistant US attorney in the Eastern District of New York, he pursued cases targeting Mafia wise guys and Russian organized crime members.

As a prosecutor in the Eastern District, Weissmann signed a 1998 cooperation agreement between the US government and Felix Sater, a violent felon and securities trader who had pleaded guilty to financial crimes. Sater went on to become a confidential informant for the FBI and a Trump business partner. During the years in which Sater was secretly cooperating with the Feds, he was also engaging in key real estate ventures with Trump. This included scouting for deals in Russia and Eastern Europe, projects that never materialized. Trump has consistently claimed that his business empire has “nothing to do with Russia.” Yet Sater’s intriguing tale represents at least one important Russia connection for Trump.

Though Weissmann served in various positions of authority within the Eastern District, it is unclear how closely involved he was with the Sater case. A spokesman for Mueller says, “Apart from his role as an office supervisor in 1998, Mr. Weissmann does not recall any direct involvement.” Perhaps it’s a coincidence that Weissmann had a role in the Sater case. But might Weissmann, who left the Eastern District in 2002 to join the Enron probe, have any inside information—or insight—into the Trump-Sater matter and how it relates to Trump’s decades-long effort to forge ties in Russia?

The Sater episode has raised serious questions for Trump, who has denied knowing much about Sater. There are unresolved mysteries: what Sater did as a confidential informant and what Trump knew, if anything, of Sater’s criminal activity.

Sater’s business dealings with Trump appear to have faded several years ago, but he has maintained his ties to the Trump camp. In August 2016, Sater told Politico that he had visited Trump Tower the previous month, but he declined to disclose with whom he had met or the visit’s purpose, saying only that it was “confidential.” At the start of the Trump administration, Sater joined with a Ukrainian legislator and Michael Cohen, a personal lawyer for Trump, to develop a Putin-friendly Ukrainian peace plan that they presented to Michael Flynn, then Trump’s national security adviser.

Article continues:

‘No doesn’t really mean no’: North Carolina law means women can’t revoke consent for sex – Molly Redden Saturday 24 June 2017 07.00 EDT


shadows at bus stop
The North Carolina law is an example of how the US legal system has not always kept pace with evolving ideas about rape, sex and consent. Photograph: Altaf Qadri/AP

One Monday in January, Aaliyah Palmer, 19, spent several hours telling law enforcement in Fayetteville, North Carolina, that she had been raped.

Things started out OK, she said, in a consensual encounter in a bathroom. But when the man having sex with her began tearing out her hair, she demanded he stop; he didn’t.

It was here a detective interrupted Palmer’s account with a question. At any time after she said no, did her attacker stop having sex with her, then penetrate her once again?

Yes, Palmer said.

“OK,” the detective replied, according to Palmer. “That’s important.”

It was important because in North Carolina, a person cannot withdraw consent for sex once intercourse is taking place. Because of a 1979 state supreme court ruling that has never been overturned, continuing to have sex with someone who consented then backed out isn’t considered to be rape.

“The whole thing is ridiculous,” Palmer told the Guardian. “It’s crazy.”

The North Carolina law is an example of how the US legal system has not always kept pace with evolving ideas about rape, sex and consent. Just last year, an Oklahoma court ruled that the state’s forcible sodomy statute did not criminalize oral sex with a victim who is completely unconscious. The toughest charge available to prosecutors was unwanted touching.

But the North Carolina law appears to be unique. And it has shocked even those who are used to dealing with such legalistic vagaries.

“It’s absurd,” said John Wilkinson, a former prosecutor and an adviser to AEquitas, a group which helps law enforcement pursue cases of sexual violence. “I don’t think you could find anyone today to agree with this notion that you cannot withdraw consent. People have the right to control their own bodies. If sex is painful, or for whatever reason, they have the right to change their mind.”

The ruling has devastated victims and frustrated prosecutors in North Carolina for years. State senator Jeff Jackson, who has introduced legislation to amend the law, encountered a similar case when he was a criminal prosecutor. His office was ultimately forced to dismiss the rape charge.

Article continues:

Burying the Boston Bomber & Uber 2.0: VICE News Tonight Full Ep. (HBO) – Published on Jun 20, 2017


This is the June 13, 2017, FULL EPISODE of VICE News Tonight on HBO. VICE News sits down with Peter Stefan, the controversial funeral director who buried Boston bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev when no one else would.Uber CEO Travis Kalanick has taken an indefinite leave of absence after the results of an investigation by former attorney general Eric Holder revealed the company’s not so professional corporate culture. Plus, a report on the desperate situation for Iraqis in western Mosul, where ISIS militants are making their last stand.

The Brexit Vote, One Year Later – By Stephen G. Gross June 23, 2017


TOBY MELVILLE / REUTERS Nigel Farage, then the leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party, in London, June 2016.

On June 23, 2016, citizens in the United Kingdom voted 52 to 48 percent to leave the European Union, sending shockwaves around the world and raising concerns about a new type of populism on both sides of the Atlantic. The common explanation of Brexit presents it as a revolt by the losers of globalization. As the international movement of goods, capital, ideas, and people has intensified, this argument runs, the latter shaped the referendum results most profoundly. The intra-European flow of migrants from east to west, combined with the potential for an influx of refugees in 2015, convinced many British citizens that they stood on the losing end of a globalized, borderless Europe.

Although this story captures important dynamics, it misses crucial historical developments that influenced British leaders’ decision to hold the referendum, as well as its outcome. Four trends converged to lead the United Kingdom to split with the EU: a divergence between the United Kingdom and the continent about the meaning of the European project and the nature of sovereignty; a gradual estrangement of British political parties from the public; the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis; and Brussels’ lackluster management of the EU’s problems. These developments help explain why the message of Leave resonated and that of Remain proved counterproductive. They reveal, moreover, just how fragile and elite-driven the European project remains.

Article continues: