Daily Archives: August 27, 2017

Trump’s decision to pardon Joe Arpaio could be a crucial piece of evidence in the Russia investigation

Yahoo Finance:

Arpaio, an early and enthusiastic Trump surrogate, was convicted of criminal contempt in July for violating a court order to stop racially profiling Latinos.

When Trump allegedly asked Sessions this past spring whether it would be possible to drop the federal criminal investigation into Arpaio, Sessions told Trump such a move would be inappropriate, but that Trump could pardon Arpaio if he was convicted, The Post reported, citing three people familiar with the conversation.

Trump ultimately granted the pardon on Friday evening, sparking fierce backlash from liberals and some conservatives.

But some legal analysts also pointed out that Trump’s decision to pardon Arpaio, and the actions he took preceding that, may serve as an important piece of evidence to special counsel Robert Mueller, who is reportedly investigating the president for obstruction of justice.

Specifically, Trump’s decision to pardon Arpaio is key to determining his intent when he had the February conversation with Comey about dropping the Russia investigation before ultimately firing Comey after he refused to do so, said Renato Mariotti, a former federal prosecutor.

According to Comey’s testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee in June, Trump privately told Comey, who was spearheading the FBI’s Russia probe at the time, he “hoped” Comey would “let this go,” referring to the investigation.

Several Trump allies and Republican lawmakers have since grasped those words and said they do not prove Trump tried to obstruct justice by asking Comey to drop the investigation and subsequently firing him.

Sen. Jim Risch of Idaho, for instance, zeroed in on the statement during Comey’s testimony.

After reading out Comey’s recollection of Trump’s statement, Risch said to Comey, “He did not direct you to let it go.”

“Not in his words, no,” Comey replied.

“He did not order you to let it go,” Risch said.

He later asked Comey: “Do you know of any case where a person has been charged for obstruction of justice or, for that matter, any other criminal offense, where this — they said, or thought, they hoped for an outcome?”

When Comey said that despite Trump’s words, he took it as a direction from the president of the United States, Risch said, “You may have taken it as a direction, but that’s not what he said.”

The main thing Mueller — who was put in charge of the Russia investigation after Trump fired Comey — would need to prove in an obstruction of justice case is whether Trump acted with corrupt, or unlawful, intent when he asked the FBI director to drop the Flynn investigation.

Wells Fargo wants court to toss overdraft lawsuits and let it use arbitration

A group of Wells Fargo & Co. customers who say they were victims of unfair overdraft practices want their claims heard in court, but the bank wants the disputes handled through arbitration.

Class-action lawsuits filed around the country have accused Wells Fargo of changing the order of debit card transactions — from highest dollar amount to lowest dollar amount — to unfairly increase the number of transactions eligible for overdraft penalties.

Read on.

Deregulating banks is a very bad idea, Fed chair says

Not so fast.

That was the message Friday from Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen, who warned about rolling back post-financial crisis banking reforms. Her remarks, delivered at a conference for central bankers and other business bigwigs in Jackson Hole, Wyo., flew in the face of the Trump White House’s stated intention to restore a more freewheeling approach to Wall Street oversight.

“A decade has passed since the beginnings of a global financial crisis that resulted in the most severe financial panic and largest contraction in economic activity in the United States since the Great Depression,” Yellen said. “Already, for some, memories of this experience may be fading–memories of just how costly the financial crisis was and of why certain steps were taken in response.”

She later added: “The evidence shows that reforms since the crisis have made the financial system substantially safer.”

Read on.