Day: October 17, 2018

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Meet man poised to battle Dems from White House…


Pat Cipollone is poised to take on one of the most difficult jobs in Washington: counsel for President TrumpDonald John TrumpFive takeaways from Cruz, O’Rourke’s debate showdown Arpaio files libel suit against New York Times IMF’s Christine Lagarde delays trip to Middle East MORE’s White House.

The commercial litigator has been chosen by the president to replace outgoing White House counsel Don McGahn at a time when Democrats are salivating at the prospect of congressional power.

Many might not want to take on the high-profile assignment, which could be grueling and demanding come January. If Democrats take control of the House after the Nov. 6 midterm elections, Cipollone would be the lead defense against an investigative assault being readied on Capitol Hill.

Experts say the seats that flip next month from red to blue will likely become occupied by lawmakers who promised to serve as a check on Trump through investigations and subpoenas. Some even campaigned on promises to impeach him.

Jonathan Turley, a George Washington University professor of law and opinion contributor to The Hill, said McGahn has faced one of the most trying periods as a White House counsel in the history of the position, working for a client who was unpredictable and often uncooperative.

“The new White House counsel is going to face a different but equally challenging set of issues,” he said. “He will very likely face a House of Representatives under the control of the Democrats, which means he will likely face a hostile house of Congress with subpoena power.”

Democrats need to net 23 seats to take back the House in November. Polling analysis site FiveThirtyEight said Democrats have around an 84 percent chance of winning the majority.

Democrats are said to be eyeing an ambitious legislative agenda, and they appear ready to flex their oversight muscles.

“What I have been asking my Republican chairmen to do all along is to gather basic facts about the crisis of corruption in the Trump Administration,” Rep. Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsTrump makes new overtures to Democrats Dems eye ambitious agenda if House flips Oversight Dems call for probe into citizenship question on 2020 census MORE (D-Md.), ranking member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said in a statement. “The waste, fraud, and abuse is plain to see — and the most important thing for the Oversight Committee to do is to get back to regular order by obtaining documents and interviewing witnesses, and actually holding the Trump Administration accountable to the American people.”

If Democrats are wielding committee gavels, they are expected to launch various investigations into administration actions ranging from its separation of families crossing into the U.S. illegally to the addition of a citizenship question to the 2020 census.

Investigations into Trump’s tax returns and possible violations of the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution are also likely.

But some former officials say it shouldn’t be the counsel’s job to defend the president against personal criminal wrongdoing.

“There should be outside counsel hired by the White House to do that,” said Alberto Gonzales, who served as White House counsel in the George W. Bush administration before becoming U.S. attorney general.

The in-house counsel’s main job, Gonzales said, should be brokering deals between Congress and the White House when it comes to investigations and requests.

“Congress is going to want access to information, documents and emails in connection to certain decisions, and the White House is going to push back,” he said. “The White House counsel negotiates with Congress to reach an accommodation, maybe give a briefing or written summary.”

If all else fails, Gonzales said, executive privilege can be exerted, but it should be a weapon of last resort.

McGahn is expected to step down at some point this fall, though that date has not been announced. Asked when McGahn plans to leave his post, White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters said Tuesday that the administration does not have any announcements at this time. Trump told The Associated Press on Tuesday that Cipollone would be the next White House counsel.

Cipollone, a litigation partner at the D.C. firm Stein Mitchell Cipollone Beato & Missner LLP, has donated at least $23,000 to Republican candidates since 2004, according to data collected by the Center for Responsive Politics, which did not indicate he contributed to Trump’s campaign. But he was an early supporter of Trump, according to multiple media reports.

As White House counsel he will be expected to put the office above his allegiance to the man who helms it.

“The White House counsel is there to protect the integrity of the White House and the office of the presidency,” Turley said. “It’s an unpleasant task to tell the president he’s contemplating an action that is either unlawful or unwise.”

Trump is known for demanding loyalty from the people he appoints, and for excoriating those he feels have betrayed him. Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsDepartment of Justice right to go after Hezbollah Sessions defends media following disappearance of Saudi journalist Trump goes on 12-tweet Twitter tirade MORE has seen it firsthand. The former senator from Alabama has been the subject of repeated attacks stemming from his decision in 2017 to recuse himself from oversight of investigations into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

Trump said he would not have hired Sessions as the nation’s top prosecutor if he had known that would happen.

“I don’t have an attorney general. It’s very sad,” Trump told Hill.TV last month.

Experts say that when Cipollone takes the job he should be particularly mindful of the fact that there is no absolute attorney–client privilege protecting the White House counsel’s conversations with the president.

“He’s at grave risk to himself, his bar license and perhaps even criminal prosecution if he does everything Trump tells him to do,” said Richard Painter, former chief ethics lawyer in the George W. Bush White House. “He’s going to have his work cut out for him.”

McGahn provided detailed accounts to special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE’s team regarding an inquiry into whether Trump obstructed justice in the Russia probe, The New York Times reported in August.

Painter, who launched an unsuccessful bid for former Sen. Al FrankenAlan (Al) Stuart FrankenMinnesota GOP Senate candidate compared Michelle Obama to a chimp in Facebook post Former campaign aide to New Jersey governor says she was sexually assaulted by his ex-staffer Prosecutor drops some charges against Harvey Weinstein MORE’s (D) seat in Minnesota after switching to the Democratic Party, said Trump is a client who doesn’t understand the legitimate functions of the Justice Department, the federal government or its intelligence agencies.

“He believes they are there to serve his political purposes. He says it on Twitter,” Painter said.

“It’s a challenging job,” he added. “For a White House lawyer, you either have to say no to Trump or risk assisting him in the obstruction of justice.”



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Film lifts lid on secretive GLOCK pistol empire…


VIENNA (AFP) – 

From Hollywood to hip hop, it’s the weapon that is wielded by cops and outlaws alike. The Glock pistol has achieved global cult status but the business is still shrouded in mystery in its native Austria.

A new documentary about the Glock, titled “Weapon of Choice”, says that since it was invented in the early 1980s by a previously unknown Austrian engineer called Gaston Glock, the brand has been the object of a “cult of secrecy”.

Directors Fritz Ofner and Eva Hausberger have tried to shed some light on the company, whose 89-year-old founder has always shunned publicity.

“Hundreds of press articles (on Glock) have appeared in Austria but they’re almost all about the company’s charitable activities or society events,” Ofner told AFP.

That could be because the firm is not reticent about taking action in the courts against those it deems to have unfairly damaged its reputation.

Ofner said the filmmakers were threatened with legal action when the documentary was in its early stages, followed by a letter from the company’s lawyers once it was finished, “asking for a list of all the people we had worked with on the film”.

That “sword of Damocles” meant a year’s delay to the release date, said Ofner.

– ‘Steve Jobs’ of the pistol –

The strict secrecy around the Glock empire is of a piece with the character and background of its mould-breaking founder, said Ofner.

In the early 1980s Gaston Glock was running a business making knives and curtain rods when he decided to answer a call for tenders put out by the Austrian army, which wanted to update its pistols.

He devised a firearm that revolutionised the field: made largely of non-metal components, “lighter, easier to take apart, more reliable, able to carry more bullets” than other brands.

“You can really compare Glock — who had no experience at all in firearms — to Steve Jobs who invented the first Apple product in his garage,” says Ofner.

Once the contract with the Austrian army was in the bag, the company’s worth soared when it entered the American and then the global market, being adopted by police, gangsters and even jihadists.

Between 2014 and 2017, the company’s worth is estimated to have risen by almost 50 percent to 464 million euros ($538 million).

It employs some 1,325 people in four production sites, including at its headquarters in the town of Deutsch-Wagram, 20 kilometres (12 miles) outside Vienna.

American pop culture in particular has helped Glock attain its iconic status.

“It’s a new weapon which coincided with a new music: some hip hop and gangsta rap artists immediately adopted this minimalist black object, which fitted so well with their aesthetic,” Ofner said.

And as luck would have it, Gaston Glock’s surname offers ample rhymes: lock, pop, cop, shock, drop…

“At the end of the 1990s, Glock was the most mentioned brand in the American Top 50,” according to Ofner.

As for security forces, the Glock is also used by most US police forces as well as the US, Iraqi and Norwegian armies.

– Larger-than-life characters –

The film adds to the air of intrigue surrounding the firm with interviews with two notorious ex-associates of the company — the only ones who would talk to the filmmakers.

Gaston Glock’s former right-hand man in the United States, Paul Jannuzzo, was jailed for fraud before being released in 2013 when the conviction was quashed under the statute of limitations.

Jannuzzo said he was the victim of a vendetta on the part of his old employer.

The filmmakers also travelled to a Luxembourg prison to interview Charles Ewert — also known as “Panama Charly” — who is currently serving a 20-year sentence for attempting to have Glock killed in 1999 after they fell out over financial disagreements.

Faced with a cast of such larger-than-life characters, the directors don’t even attempt to get into the story of Glock’s ex-wife Helga, with whom he has been embroiled in a legal battle for years over the terms of their divorce.

Now remarried to a woman 50 years his junior, the billionaire has lately been investing in horse-racing, opening a vast equestrian complex in southern Austria.

The Glock Horse Performance Center plays host both to races and red-carpet events graced by the likes of Robbie Williams and Naomi Campbell.

According to an investigation carried out jointly by the Dossier website and Austria’s Der Standard newspaper — and which was published to coincide with the film’s release — three government ministers from the far-right Freedom Party (FPOe) have been hosted at the Center as guests of the Glocks.

© 2018 AFP



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