Supreme Court Justice’s Wife Paid by Right-Wing Outlet that Outed FBI Informant Stefan Halper

Virginia (Ginni) Thomas

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: May 22, 2018 ~ The name of a confidential FBI informant, Stefan A. Halper, was revealed by a right-wing news website known as the Daily Caller News Foundation on Saturday. Curiously, Virginia (Ginni) Thomas, wife of the sitting U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, has been collecting an undisclosed amount of compensation from the same nonprofit and its anonymous right-wing donors for years. At 9:35 a.m. this past Saturday morning, the Daily Caller ran this headline: “Cambridge Professor Spied On Trump Campaign Advisers.” The very next day, President Donald Trump Tweeted the following: “I hereby demand, and will do so officially tomorrow, that the Department of Justice look into whether or not the FBI/DOJ infiltrated or surveilled the Trump Campaign for Political Purposes — and if any such demands or requests were made by people within the Obama Administration!” Yesterday the Justice Department agreed to … Continue reading

Trump and Clarence Thomas Financial Disclosures Prove U.S. Is Officially a Kleptocracy

President Donald Trump Berates the Media in a Hastily Called Press Conference on February 16, 2017

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: May 20, 2018 ~ According to the Cambridge English Dictionary, a kleptocracy is “a society whose leaders make themselves rich and powerful by stealing from the rest of the people.” Stealing can also be interpreted as a public official depriving citizens of their right to honest services, as defined under 18 U.S.C. § 1346. Two men serving in the highest offices of the United States, one man black and one man white, are now the poster children for a government that more closely resembles a kleptocracy than a democracy. The two men also have three other things in common: they are both shameless in flaunting their disregard for conflicts of interest; their previous Federal financial disclosure reports contained serious falsehoods; and neither has been removed from their high office. Last week Donald Trump, the President of the United States, released his financial disclosure form … Continue reading

Vatican Assails Wall Street for Creating an “Amoral Culture”

Pope Francis, Who Advocates Against Materialism, Arrives at the White House on September 23, 2015 in a Humble Little Fiat

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: May 18, 2018 ~  The Vatican released a lengthy report yesterday on how the drive for accumulating money at any cost has turned Wall Street and much of the global financial system into an “amoral culture,” noting that the idea that markets will be self-policing is pure bunk. The Vatican has apparently decided to keep the debate alive that Senator Bernie Sanders started during the presidential campaign of 2016 when he repeatedly railed against Wall Street for having a “business model of fraud.” The Vatican’s entry into this critical conversation would be much more meaningful if each time it or the Pope lectures the world on the meaning of morality they would acknowledge the Catholic Church’s own moral failings over decades in protecting sexual predators of children, refusing to report the assaults to law enforcement and moving the predators from parish to parish — … Continue reading

Michael Cohen Got $3 Million More from Unnamed Sources; Records Vanish

Michael Cohen Leaves Federal Court in Manhattan, April 16, 2018

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: May 17, 2018 ~  The intrepid investigative reporter, Ronan Farrow, who has a shiny new Pulitzer on his shelf for his investigations into Harvey Weinstein, published an article last night at The New Yorker that should alarm every American. It turns out that it was a law enforcement official who leaked the confidential  government file on Donald Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen out of concern that someone in the government was making other undisclosed files on Michael Cohen’s funny money transactions involving an additional $3 million disappear. Cable news has breathlessly been reporting for days now on the financial file that the law enforcement official leaked to Michael Avenatti, attorney for porn star Stormy Daniels, who was paid $130,000 from Cohen’s secret account – a limited liability corporation established in Delaware with the name Essential Consultants LLC.  (“Essential” suggesting that if you want the President’s … Continue reading

What Is the Yield Curve Telling Us About the U.S. Economy?

The Federal Reserve Building in Washington, D.C.

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: May 16, 2018 ~  On November 9 of last year, a mere six months ago, we asked the question: “Does Jerome Powell Hear the Alarm Bells from Flattening Yield Curve?” Jerome Powell is, of course, the new Chairman of the Federal Reserve — the U.S. central bank and the body in which the United States has entrusted its monetary policy, for better or worse. We wrote at the time: “As of 7:48 a.m. this morning, the spread between the 10-year Treasury Note (yielding 2.33 percent) and 30-year Treasury Bond (yielding 2.81 percent) is even smaller, at a meager 48 basis points or less than half of one percent. “It is a serious commentary on the bizarre financial times in which we live that a fixed income investor would be rewarded with less than half a percent of additional income to add 20 years of … Continue reading

Giuliani Was Wrong: Even Children are “Disposable” in Gaza

Patrick Galey, Reporter for AFP, Tweets this Image on May 14, 2018 as U.S. Embassy Opens in Jerusalem

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: May 15, 2018 ~  Donald Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, made the bizarre remark on Fox News recently that Jared Kushner might be “disposable” because men, in general, are disposable. Kushner is Trump’s son-in-law who was safely protected as he delivered a speech at the opening of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem yesterday. What played out in Gaza yesterday was very different: under the Trump administration, all Palestinians in Gaza are “disposable,” even children. According to news reports this morning, more than 60 Palestinians died in Gaza yesterday with more than 2,000 injured. The United Nations reports that eight of those dead are children under the age of 16. The massacre was the direct result of the Israeli military firing live bullets at protesters. But Donald Trump’s White House doesn’t see it that way. At a press briefing yesterday, White House Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah … Continue reading

Reverse Mortgages: Should You Trust Tom Selleck or a Federal Agency

Tom Selleck

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: May 14, 2018 ~ The actor Tom Selleck is appearing in a television commercial for American Advisors Group (AAG). The product he is pushing is the company’s reverse mortgages. He gazes sincerely at his TV audience of financially struggling retirees and tells them reassuringly that he’s done his homework on this company. Remembering that Tom Selleck is an actor and not necessarily a good researcher, we decided to go where every prudent consumer should go first when checking out a financial services company: to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) complaint database. There are 22 complaints against AAG and some are pretty frightening. Apparently, the CFPB, a Federal agency created under the Dodd-Frank financial reform legislation of 2010, found enough consumer complaints to be valid to take action against AAG. On December 7, 2016 the CFPB fined AAG $400,000 for deceptive advertising and ordered … Continue reading

Did Morgan Stanley Smith Barney File a Suspicious Activity Report on Michael Cohen’s Account?

Michael Cohen Leaves Federal Court in Manhattan, April 16, 2018

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: May 11, 2018 ~  There’s a guy in Manhattan who’s sleeping about as well as Michael Cohen these days. That’s the broker at Morgan Stanley Smith Barney who opened the brokerage account for Donald Trump’s lawyer, Michael Cohen. According to a document posted at the Twitter page of Michael Avenatti, the lawyer for porn star Stormy Daniels, this fellow may have some explaining to do to the Feds if he didn’t file a Suspicious Activity Report (SAR) with the U.S. Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, known on the street as FinCEN. Avenatti’s document shows the following regarding a Morgan Stanley Smith Barney account: “From  July 13, 2017 through  September  8,  2017,  Mr. Cohen deposited three checks in the amounts of $505,000,  $250,000, and $250,000 in his Morgan  Stanley account. “Each deposit was remitted from an account held at First Republic Bank in the name … Continue reading

First Republic: Meet the Bank at the Center of the Michael Cohen Scandal

First Republic Bank, Palm Beach, Florida Branch

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: May 10, 2018 ~  It’s about a six-minute drive from Donald Trump’s luxurious Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida to the palm-lined street where First Republic Bank has a branch to service the super wealthy. It is not known if Donald Trump has an account at this branch, but according to Trump’s Federal financial disclosure report, he maintains a checking account at First Republic Bank. Unfortunately for Trump, Michael Cohen, his personal attorney, also maintains an account with First Republic Bank. Cohen had his home, office, hotel room and safety deposit box raided by the FBI on April 9 and has been the subject of titillating news reporting every evening since over his wire of $130,000 as hush money to porn star Stormy Daniels, who alleges an affair with Trump. The wire was sent from Cohen’s Essential Consultants LLC account at First Republic Bank. … Continue reading

Banking Fraternity Felons – Except for Goldman Sachs

Banking Fraternity Felons

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: May 9, 2018 ~  Three years ago this month the U.S. Department of Justice brought felony charges against two of the largest Wall Street banks, JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup, for their involvement in rigging foreign currency markets. On the same date, two foreign banks, Barclays PLC and the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), were charged with felonies in the same matter. A fifth bank, UBS, was charged with a felony for its role in rigging the interest rate benchmark known as Libor. All five banks pleaded guilty to the charges. Citigroup was fined $925 million by the Justice Department for its foreign currency conduct that ran from as early as December 2007 until at least January 2013, roughly five years. JPMorgan was fined $550 million for rigging activity that ran from as early as July 2010 to January 2013, about two and a half … Continue reading

Schneiderman Falls, Vance to Investigate

Eric Schneiderman, New York State Attorney General, Will Resign Today, May 8, 2018

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: May 8, 2018 ~   Last evening two highly respected reporters at the New Yorker published the accounts of four women concerning the sitting New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s physical and psychological assaults on them. Schneiderman announced his resignation as the state’s top cop three hours after the article was published. The reporters on the story are Jane Mayer, one of the most accomplished investigative reporters in the U.S., and Ronan Farrow, a recent recipient of the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service for his series of articles on movie producer Harvey Weinstein’s history of sexual assaults on numerous women. The accounts of the four women involving Schneiderman are nothing short of horrifying. Two of the women, Michelle Manning Barish and Tanya Selvaratnam, went on the record using their names. Barish was involved with Schneiderman on and off for about two years from … Continue reading

Trump’s Lies Hit Critical Mass: Even His Media Supporters Are Bolting

President Donald Trump

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: May 7, 2018 ~  In the past few days, two reliable media enablers of Donald Trump have veered off script with stinging rebukes of the President’s epic pattern of lies. The question is – what took them so long. Editorials in the foreign press dating back as far as a year ago recognized that Trump’s insatiable need to lie rendered him unfit for the presidency of the United States. Since April of last year the Los Angeles Times has been running a series of forensic editorials attempting to explain what it is in Trump’s personality that would explain “his moral vacuity and his disregard for the truth, as well as his stubborn resistance to sensible advice.” The editorials have been headlined: “Our Dishonest President,” “Why Trump Lies,” and “Enough is Enough,” to mention just three. The Washington Post determined that Trump’s lies are so … Continue reading

The Market Is Going to Test Obama’s Legacy on Wall Street Bank Reform

President Obama Signs the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, July 21, 2010

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: May 4, 2018 ~ On January 26 of this year, the Dow Jones Industrial Average set a record high of 26,616.71. It has been backing and filling since then but the trend line has been decidedly down. Yesterday, the Dow closed at 23,930.15 – almost 2700 points lower than its high set in January, despite the passage of a massive corporate welfare tax cut and hundreds of billions of dollars in announced stock buybacks. (Just this week, Dow component Apple announced it would be implementing a new $100 billion share repurchase program.) Yesterday, the Dow closed just barely in positive territory after having been down almost 400 points intraday. But, notably, big Wall Street bank stocks such as JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America and Morgan Stanley all closed the day in the red. These banks share a common feature – and … Continue reading

Giuliani Hints Trump, While President, Paid Cohen a $420,000 Slush Fund to Handle “Things of a Personal Nature”

Rudy Giuliani

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: May 3, 2018 ~  What Rudy Giuliani, the former mayor of New York City and Donald Trump’s latest legal fixer did last night was to effectively tell Trump’s mortal enemy, the Washington Post, that Trump paid his personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, a $420,000 slush fund last year to clean up dirt on the President. Cohen is the target of a criminal investigation by the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York. Cohen’s home, office, hotel room and safety deposit box were raided by the FBI on April 9. In an interview with Sean Hannity of Fox News last evening, and then later with the Washington Post, Giuliani buried both himself and the President deeper into a web of half truths or outright lies while managing to taint the legal work he does at his law firm, Greenberg Traurig, a corporate law … Continue reading

Was that a Koch Brothers’ Agent Who Pounded on our Door after We Wrote a Critical Article?

Riverside County Sheriff Officers Guard the Entrance to a Rancho Mirage, California Luxury Resort Where the Koch Brothers Held their January 2011 Political Strategy Confab. Photo Courtesy of Michael Cline, ClineFoto.com

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: May 2, 2018 ~  Since 2010 we have been investigating and reporting on activities of the billionaire Koch brothers’ political funding network to subvert democracy in the United States. In 2011 we broke the news that Charles Koch had entertained sitting U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas at Koch’s private club in California. Thomas would later rule in favor of the Citizens United decision which opened the spigots to unlimited corporate money in U.S. political campaigns. In the same article we reported that while the Citizens United case was pending before the U.S. Supreme Court, Virginia Thomas, the wife of the Justice, created a nonprofit Tea Party advocacy group, Liberty Central, Inc., with a former lawyer for the Charles G. Koch Foundation, Sarah Field, acting as her General Counsel and a former Koch lobbyist, Matt Schlapp, serving on her board at inception. The nonprofit received over … Continue reading