lawyer

The ticker and trading information for Blackstone Group is displayed at the post where it is traded on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange
FILE PHOTO: The ticker and trading information for Blackstone Group is displayed at the post where it is traded on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) April 4, 2016. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

April 24, 2019

MILAN (Reuters) – A New York judge has suspended a lawsuit brought by U.S. private equity fund Blackstone against Italian publisher RCS Mediagroup over the disputed sale of real estate assets, two sources close to the matter said on Wednesday.

The case centres on the acquisition by Blackstone of RCS’s historic headquarters in central Milan for 120 million euros ($134 million) in 2013.

RCS says that Blackstone took control of the headquarters at a price that was too low while RCS was in financial difficulties. The U.S. group in turn has accused RCS of falsely claiming that it still owns the building.

The New York judge said the U.S. case would be stayed pending the outcome of related arbitration proceedings in Italy between the two sides, the sources said.

RCS declined to comment. A lawyer representing Blackstone, Aaron Marks of law firm Kirkland & Ellis, said Blackstone would pursue its claims to the end, whether in New York or Italy.

“We are entirely confident in our legal case and have no intention of settling the case,” Marks said in an emailed statement.

Last year RCS, the owner of influential daily Corriere della Sera, launched arbitration proceedings in Milan to have the sale of the properties to Blackstone nullified under Italian law.

The next hearing in that case has been scheduled for Sept. 16, according to two sources close to the matter.

RCS Chairman Urbano Cairo, who became the group’s controlling shareholder after the 2013 deal, has argued that Blackstone paid too little for the properties because the media group was in financial difficulties at the time of the sale.

Blackstone in turn launched a separate legal case against RCS in New York, alleging that a planned sale of the same properties to Allianz was held up by claims from RCS that the transaction was “null and void”, according to a copy of the court documents seen by Reuters.

The dispute has alarmed some real estate investors, who say foreign investment in Italy could suffer as a result.

($1 = 0.8963 euros)

(Reporting by Claudia Cristoferi and Silvia Aloisi; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Bayer's Roundup weed killer atomizers are displayed for sale at a garden shop near Brussels
FILE PHOTO: Bayer’s Roundup weed killer atomizers are displayed for sale at a garden shop near Brussels, Belgium November 27, 2017. REUTERS/Yves Herman

April 24, 2019

By Brendan Pierson

(Reuters) – Bayer AG on Wednesday asked a California appellate court to throw out a $78 million judgment it was ordered to pay to a school groundskeeper who claimed the company’s weed killers gave him cancer.

In a filing in California’s Court of Appeal, First Appellate District, the company said that there was “no evidence” that glyphosate, a chemical found in the company’s Roundup and Ranger Pro products, could cause cancer.

“Bayer stands behind these products and will continue to vigorously defend them,” the company said in a news release.

The widely-used weed killers are made by Monsanto, which Bayer acquired last year for $63 billion.

The company said that if the court did not rule in its favor, it should at least order a new trial, arguing that a lower court judge had improperly prevented jurors from hearing evidence that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and foreign regulators had deemed glyphosate not likely carcinogenic to humans.

A lawyer for the groundskeeper, Dewayne Johnson, could not immediately be reached for comment.

Johnson sued Monsanto in 2016. In August 2018, following a trial in the Superior Court of California in San Francisco, a jury awarded him $39 million in compensatory damages and $250 million in punitive damages, a total of $289 million.

The verdict, which marked the first such decision against Monsanto, wiped 10 percent off Bayer’s value, and shares have since dropped nearly 30 percent from their pre-verdict value.

Judge Suzanne Bolanos, who oversaw the trial, then issued a tentative opinion saying she planned to strike the entire punitive damages award because there was no evidence Monsanto acted with malice. Following a hearing last October, she instead cut the award to $39 million, for a total judgment of $78 million.

In another brief filed with the appeals court on Wednesday, Bayer said that decision came after newspaper articles and emails from five jurors in the case meant to “pressure” Bolanos to uphold the punitive damages award.

Bayer, which faces more than 11,000 U.S. lawsuits over glyphosate, says decades of scientific studies and real-world use have shown glyphosate to be safe for human use.

While the EPA and regulators from several other countries have said glyphosate was not likely to cause cancer, the cancer unit of the World Health Organization in 2015 classified glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic to humans.”

(Reporting By Brendan Pierson in New York; Editing by Bill Berkrot)

Source: OANN

Grant, a British citizen, sits inside the dock at the Law Courts in the Kenya's coastal city of Mombasa
FILE PHOTO: Jermaine John Grant, a British citizen, sits inside the dock at the Law Courts in the Kenya’s coastal city of Mombasa, December 2, 2015. REUTERS/Joseph Okanga

April 24, 2019

By Joseph Akwiri

MOMBASA (Reuters) – A British man accused of helping to plan terrorist attacks in Kenya was found guilty on Wednesday of possession of bomb-making materials but acquitted of conspiracy to commit a felony.

Jermaine Grant, from east London, has been in custody since he was arrested in 2011.

At the time he was sharing an apartment with another Briton, Samantha Lewthwaite, dubbed the “White Widow”, who had been married to one of the four suicide bombers who attacked public transport in London on July 7, 2005, prosecutors have said.

Chief magistrate Evans Makori said chemicals and a computer memory drive containing bomb-making instructions were found in the house, but that the prosecution failed to prove the charge of “conspiracy to commit a felony to the required standard”.

Grant smiled as the ruling was read to court in the Kenyan port city of Mombasa where prosecutors said he had planned a bombing campaign against hotels popular with foreign tourists. He denies all the charges.

Grant’s sentencing has been set for May 9. His lawyer Chacha Mwita said he plans to appeal the conviction.

“There was no direct or indirect sufficient evidence to link him with conspiracy to mount the explosives,” Chacha told Reuters by telephone.

Having previously been released on bail, Grant’s two co-defendants, his Kenyan female companion Islam Warda, and Frank Nyengo, were both acquitted of all charges.

In the judgment, Grant was found in possession of explosive materials including hydrogen peroxide, four AA batteries and an eleven centimeter piece of electrical wire.

Prosecutors have accused Grant of having ties to the Islamist group al Shabaab, al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Somalia, a charge he denies.

In 2015 a court found Grant guilty of nine counts related to a fake Kenyan passport, including giving a false statement and making false documents, and sentenced him to a year in prison for each count.

Grant’s former flatmate Lewthwaite, whose husband Germaine Lindsay killed 26 people in a suicide bombing on the Piccadilly Line of London Underground in 2005, is still at large and wanted in Kenya on charges of possession of explosives and conspiracy.

(Additional reporting by Humphrey Malalo; Writing by Hereward Holland; Editing by Peter Graff)

Source: OANN

A U.S. judge in Oregon said Tuesday he intends to at least partially block a rule change by President Donald Trump’s administration that could cut off federal funding for providers who refer patients for an abortion, though the scope of his decision remains to be seen.

U.S. District Judge Michael McShane made the comments after more than three hours of arguments in a lawsuit brought by 20 states and the District of Columbia, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported . The states say the rule change, due to take effect May 3, is a transparent attack on Planned Parenthood and a violation of the Affordable Care Act, which prohibits “unreasonable barriers to the ability of individuals to obtain appropriate medical care.”

“At the heart of these rules is an arrogant assumption that the government is better suited to direct women’s health care than their providers,” Oregon Public Broadcasting quoted the judge as saying.

McShane said he needs more time to decide whether he will issue a national injunction or a more limited one blocking the policy from taking effect. The judge said he’s reluctant to set national health care policy and would describe the scope of his injunction in a written opinion soon.

“We will need to see what the final ruling says,” Oregon Justice Department spokeswoman Kristina Edmunson said in an email. “We are pleased with the decision.”

Under the new policy, health care providers that receive federal funding would be barred from referring patients for an abortion. Programs that receive the money would also have to be in a separate physical space from facilities where abortion is performed.

The rule change announced early this year concerns Title X, a family planning program created in 1970 which serves roughly 4 million low-income Americans every year. Clinics that receive money under Title X provide a wide array of services, including birth control and screening for diabetes, sexually transmitted diseases and cancer.

Abortion is a legal medical procedure, but federal laws prohibit the use of taxpayer funds to pay for abortions except in cases of rape, incest, or to save the life of the woman. Religious conservatives and abortion opponents have long complained that Title X has been used to indirectly subsidize abortion providers.

“Title X grant funds are a true safety net for low income individuals and those who would not be able to access care, due to a lack of insurance or other barriers,” Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum told the judge. “Put simply, this is an attempt to politicize what has been a successful, non-political public health program for 50 years.”

U.S. Justice Department lawyer Andrew M. Bernie said there was nothing in the administrative record to suggest the change was politically motivated.

But the judge was not swayed. McShane suggested it would be “insane” for a man to go to his doctor seeking a vasectomy, only to be referred to a fertility clinic.

Several other lawsuits have also challenged the new policy. California and Washington have sued separately; arguments in the latter case are scheduled for Thursday in U.S. District Court in Yakima.

Source: NewsMax Politics

Despite evidence that millions of Hispanics and immigrants could go uncounted, the Supreme Court’s conservative majority seemed ready Tuesday to uphold the Trump administration’s plan to inquire about U.S. citizenship on the 2020 census in a case that could affect American elections for the next decade.

There appeared to be a clear divide between the court’s liberal and conservative justices in arguments in a case that could affect how many seats states have in the House of Representatives and their share of federal dollars over the next 10 years. States with a large number of immigrants tend to vote Democratic.

Three lower courts have so far blocked the plan to ask every U.S. resident about citizenship in the census, finding that the question would discourage many immigrants from being counted . Two of the three judges also ruled that asking if people are citizens would violate the provision of the Constitution that calls for a count of the population, regardless of citizenship status, every 10 years. The last time the question was included on the census form sent to every American household was 1950.

Three conservative justices, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch and Clarence Thomas, had expressed skepticism about the challenge to the question in earlier stages of the case, but Chief Justice John Roberts and Brett Kavanaugh had been silent, possibly suggesting a willingness to disrupt the administration’s plan.

However, over 80 minutes in a packed courtroom, neither Roberts nor Kavanaugh appeared to share the concern of the lower court judges who ruled against the administration.

Kavanaugh, the court’s newest member and an appointee of President Donald Trump, suggested Congress could change the law if it so concerned that the accuracy of the once-a-decade population count will suffer. “Why doesn’t Congress prohibit the asking of the citizenship question?” Kavanaugh asked near the end of the morning session.

Kavanaugh and the other conservatives were mostly silent when Solicitor General Noel Francisco, the administration’s top Supreme Court lawyer, defended Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross’ decision to add the citizenship question. Ross has said the Justice Department wanted the citizenship data, the detailed information it would produce on where eligible voters live, to improve enforcement of the Voting Rights Act.

Lower courts found that Ross’ explanation was a pretext for adding the question, noting that he had consulted early in his tenure with Stephen Bannon, Trump’s former top political adviser and immigration hardliner Kris Kobach, the former Kansas secretary of state.

The liberal justices peppered Francisco with questions about the administration plan, but they would lack the votes to stop it without support from at least one conservative justice.

“This is a solution in search of a problem,” Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the court’s lone Hispanic member, said of Ross’ decision.

Justice Elena Kagan chimed in that “you can’t read this record without sensing that this need was a contrived one.”

Roberts appeared to have a different view of the information the citizenship question would produce.

“You think it wouldn’t help voting rights enforcement?” Roberts asked New York Solicitor General Barbara Underwood, who was representing states and cities that sued over Ross’ decision.

Underwood and American Civil Liberties Union lawyer Dale Ho said the evidence showed the data would be less accurate. Including a citizenship question would “harm the secretary’s stated purpose of Voting Rights Act enforcement,” Ho said.

Census Bureau experts have concluded that the census would produce a more accurate picture of the U.S. population without a citizenship question because people might be reluctant to say if they or others in their households are not citizens. Federal law requires people to complete the census accurately and fully.

The Supreme Court is hearing the case on a tight timeframe, even though no federal appeals court has yet to weigh in. A decision is expected by late June, in time to print census forms for the April 2020 population count.

The administration argues that the commerce secretary has wide discretion in designing the census questionnaire and that courts should not be second-guessing his action. States, cities and rights groups that sued over the issue don’t even have the right to go into federal court, the administration says. It also says the citizenship question is plainly constitutional because it has been asked on many past censuses and continues to be used on smaller, annual population surveys.

Gorsuch, also a Trump appointee, also noted that many other countries include citizenship questions on their censuses.

Douglas Letter, a lawyer representing the House of Representatives, said the census is critically important to the House, which apportions its seats among the states based on the results. “Anything that undermines the accuracy of the actual enumeration is immediately a problem,” Letter said, quoting from the provision of the Constitution that mandates a decennial census.

Letter also thanked the court on behalf of Speaker Nancy Pelosi for allowing the House to participate in the arguments.

“Tell her she’s welcome,” Roberts replied.

Source: NewsMax Politics

FILE PHOTO: White House Counsel McGahn listens to U.S. President Trump hold a cabinet meeting at the White House in Washington
FILE PHOTO: White House Counsel Don McGahn sits behind U.S. President Donald Trump as the president holds a cabinet meeting at the White House in Washington, U.S. June 21, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo

April 24, 2019

By David Morgan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Donald McGahn, the former White House counsel described in the Mueller report as repeatedly standing up to President Donald Trump, could become a star witness again if congressional Democrats get their way in their investigation of whether Trump used his office to obstruct justice.

Since the April 18 release of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian interference in the 2016 election and any ties to Republican Trump’s campaign, Democrats have seen McGahn as someone who could be as important as Mueller himself, according to a source familiar with the matter.

But the Democrats are likely to face Trump’s resistance. The Washington Post reported on Tuesday that the White House planned to oppose a subpoena by the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee for McGahn to testify.

Mueller’s 448-page partially blacked out report portrayed McGahn as one of the few figures in Trump’s orbit to challenge him when he tried to shut down the investigation that has clouded his more than two years in the White House.

“Mr. McGahn has been touted as a man of integrity and he is a major witness in the Mueller report,” said Sheila Jackson Lee, a member of the judiciary committee.

The White House did not immediately comment on the Washington Post report, which said Trump will claim executive privilege, a legal doctrine allowing the president to withhold information about internal executive branch deliberations from other branches of government.

McGahn’s attorney, William Burck, did not respond to requests for comment.

Democrats are particularly interested in hearing McGahn describe in his own words and in Congress an account in the Mueller report in which McGahn refused Trump’s instructions.

In June 2017 Trump called McGahn to say he should tell Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to remove the special counsel because he had conflicts of interest, the report said.

Trump also failed to get McGahn to dispute media reports that the president tried to fire Mueller, the report said.

“That, in itself, could be an obstruction of justice, as Mr. McGahn would be able to testify – that he was asked to do it and then asked not to tell anyone what he’d been asked to do,” Lee said.

Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, who has subpoenaed the U.S. Department of Justice to provide the unredacted Mueller report and underlying evidence, issued a subpoena on Monday for McGahn to provide the committee with documents by May 7 and testify on May 21.

But it was not clear that McGahn would comply, especially if the White House asserts executive privilege. Nor could Democrats predict how much the former White House counsel would be willing to discuss, even if he does testify.

On Tuesday evening, Nadler said, “The moment for the White House to assert some privilege to prevent this testimony from being heard has long since passed.”

The House of Representatives has the sole power under the U.S. Constitution to impeach the president, and any effort would be led by the judiciary panel.

Mueller’s report concluded that there was not enough evidence to establish that Trump’s campaign engaged in a criminal conspiracy with Moscow. However, the report outlined multiple instances where Trump tried to thwart Mueller’s probe.

Mueller stopped short of concluding whether Trump could be prosecuted for obstruction of justice, a criminal charge that requires proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

But such a high standard would not apply to Democrats if they decided to bring impeachment proceedings.

In the days following the Mueller report’s release, McGahn came under attack from Trump’s personal attorney Rudolph Giuliani who called into question the veracity of his statements to Mueller’s team of prosecutors.

“I would ask which of the three versions is McGahn standing by. There are three versions he gives of that account,” Giuliani told CNN over the weekend. “I’m telling you, he’s confused.”

A prominent elections lawyer, McGahn served as Trump’s campaign counsel before being named White House counsel in November 2016.

He played a pivotal role in helping Trump reshape the federal judiciary in a conservative direction and roll back regulations on a range of industries.

(Reporting by David Morgan, Karen Freifeld and Sarah N. Lynch; Editing by Noeleen Walder and Grant McCool)

Source: OANN

The chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee says the White House is in “open defiance” of his panel after lawyers advised a former official to ignore a subpoena related to the committee’s investigation of White House security clearances .

Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., said he is consulting with other lawmakers and staff about scheduling a vote to hold former White House personnel security director Carl Kline in contempt of Congress after Kline did not show up on Tuesday for a scheduled deposition. The committee subpoenaed Kline after one of his former subordinates told the panel that dozens of people in President Donald Trump’s administration were granted security clearances despite “disqualifying issues” in their backgrounds.

The fight over Kline’s appearance comes as the White House has stonewalled the panel in several different investigations. On Monday, Trump and his business organization sued Cummings to block a subpoena that seeks years of the president’s financial records. The complaint, filed in federal court in Washington, said a subpoena from Cummings “has no legitimate legislative purpose” and accuses Democrats of harassing Trump.

The administration also appears sure to defy a demand from Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal, D-Mass., to turn over six years of Trump’s tax returns by the close of business on Tuesday. Neal hasn’t announced next steps after sending two letters to IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig demanding Trump’s taxes, but he could opt next to issue a subpoena to enforce his demand, sent under a 1924 law that requires the Treasury secretary to furnish any tax return requested by a handful of lawmakers with responsibility over the IRS.

Cummings said on Tuesday in a statement that “it appears that the president believes that the Constitution does not apply to his White House, that he may order officials at will to violate their legal obligations, and that he may obstruct attempts by Congress to conduct oversight.”

He said the White House “has refused to produce a single piece of paper or a single witness” in any of the panel’s investigations this year. Democrats took control of the House in January.

In a series of letters over the past month between the White House, the oversight committee and Kline’s lawyer, the White House demanded that one of its lawyers attend the deposition to ensure executive privilege was protected. Cummings rejected that request. The White House then ordered Kline, who now works at the Pentagon, to defy the subpoena.

Cummings said that the committee has for years required that witnesses are represented only by their own counsel.

“There are obvious reasons we need to conduct our investigations of agency malfeasance without representatives of the office under investigation,” Cummings said.

The oversight panel has been investigating security clearances issued to senior officials, including Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner, former national security adviser Michael Flynn and former White House aide Rob Porter.

Tricia Newbold, an 18-year government employee who oversees the issuance of clearances for some senior White House aides, told the committee earlier this year that she compiled a list of at least 25 officials who were initially denied security clearances last year because of their backgrounds. But she says senior Trump aides overturned those decisions, moves that she said weren’t made “in the best interest of national security.”

According to a committee memo, Newbold said the disqualifying issues included foreign influence, conflicts of interest, financial problems, drug use, personal conduct and criminal conduct.

Newbold said she raised her concerns up the chain of command in the White House to no avail. Instead, she said, the White House retaliated, suspending her in January for 14 days without pay for not following a new policy requiring that documents be scanned as separate PDF files rather than one single PDF file. Kline was Newbold’s supervisor.

Newbold said that when she returned to work in February, she was cut out of the security clearance process and removed from a supervisory responsibility.

Source: NewsMax Politics

FILE PHOTO: Mark Nordlicht, Platinum Partners founding partner and chief investment officer, exits after a hearing at U.S. Federal Court in Brooklyn, New York
FILE PHOTO: Mark Nordlicht, Platinum Partners founding partner and chief investment officer, exits after a hearing at U.S. Federal Court in Brooklyn, New York, U.S., January 12, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

April 23, 2019

By Brendan Pierson

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Investors in the defunct billion-dollar hedge fund firm Platinum Partners had ample notice they might not get their money back, a lawyer for Platinum founder Mark Nordlicht told jurors on Tuesday, urging them to acquit his client of criminal fraud charges.

In his opening statement in Brooklyn federal court, lawyer Jose Baez said Nordlicht never defrauded investors, who included himself and his own family.

“This case is a fraud,” Baez said of the criminal prosecution, which began more than two years ago with the December 2016 arrest of Nordlicht and other Platinum executives.

The trial began early Tuesday afternoon with an opening statement from Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick Hein.

He told jurors that Nordlicht and his co-defendants, Platinum’s co-chief investment officer David Levy and its Chief Financial Officer Joseph SanFilippo, bilked investors out of “millions and millions of dollars” in two different schemes.

In one scheme, Hein said Platinum overvalued the often-illiquid assets of its flagship hedge fund, reported false annualized returns topping 17 percent and selectively paid out cash to some investors over others.

In the second scheme, Nordlicht and Levy defrauded bondholders in Black Elk, an oil exploration company Platinum owned, by diverting money from asset sales to Platinum ahead of Black Elk’s 2015 bankruptcy, Hein said.

Baez countered by showing jurors numerous examples of documents given to investors warning that the investments were risky, that Platinum’s investments were not necessarily liquid and that redemptions of cash were at Nordlicht’s discretion.

“The warnings and the notices to these investors are everywhere,” he said.

Baez said Nordlicht and the other defendants believed they could recover from a liquidity crunch in 2014 and 2015. He said they ultimately failed because of “leaks” to media about the federal investigation of Platinum, and that there could be something “sinister” behind those leaks.

That drew a sharp rebuke from U.S. District Judge Brian Cogan after the jury left for a break.

Cogan had previously ruled that defense lawyers could not suggest to the jury that the government engaged in misconduct.

“Do you want to be the guy whose representations I can’t really trust?” the judge asked.

Levy’s lawyer, Morris Fodeman, delivered his own opening statement after the break, saying his client always acted “lawfully, properly and in good faith.”

A lawyer for SanFilippo is expected to deliver his opening statement on Wednesday.

(Reporting by Brendan Pierson in New York; Editing by Tom Brown)

Source: OANN

The U.S. Internal Revenue Service on Tuesday failed to meet a congressional deadline for turning over President Donald Trump’s tax returns to lawmakers, setting the stage for a court battle between Congress and the administration.

The outcome, which was widely expected, could prompt House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal to subpoena Trump’s tax records as the opening salvo to a legal fight that may ultimately have to be settled by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Neal set a final 5 p.m. EDT deadline for the IRS and Treasury to provide six years of Trump’s individual and business tax records. But a Democratic committee aide said the deadline passed without the panel receiving the documents.

Earlier on Tuesday, the White House said Trump was unlikely to hand over his tax returns. “As I understand it, the president’s pretty clear: Once he’s out of audit, he’ll think about doing it, but he’s not inclined to do so at this time,” White House spokesman Hogan Gidley told Fox News in an interview.

“This is not up to the president. We did not ask him,” said a Democratic committee aide, who cited a law saying the Treasury secretary “shall furnish” taxpayer data upon request from an authorized lawmaker.

“In terms of the law, what he says is largely irrelevant,” said the aide, who was not authorized to speak publicly about the White House remarks.

Neal informed IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig in a letter earlier this month that failure to comply with the deadline would be viewed as a denial.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has said that he intends to “follow the law” while pledging to keep the IRS from being “weaponized” for political gain.

Legal experts said House Democrats could vote to hold Mnuchin or Rettig in contempt of Congress if they ignored a subpoena, as a pretext to suing in federal court to obtain Trump’s returns.

As Ways and Means chairman, Neal is the only lawmaker in the House of Representatives authorized to request taxpayer information under federal law. Democrats say they are confident of succeeding in any legal fight over Trump’s tax returns.

“The law is on our side. The law is clearer than crystal. They have no choice: they must abide by (it),” Representative Bill Pascrell, who has been leading the Democratic push for Trump’s tax records, said in a statement to Reuters.

Democrats want Trump’s returns as part of their investigations of possible conflicts of interest posed by his continued ownership of extensive business interests, even as he serves the public as president.

Republicans have condemned the request as a political “fishing expedition” by Democrats.

Despite the law’s clarity, Democrats have long acknowledged that the effort would likely result in a legal battle that could end up with the U.S. Supreme Court.

“If the IRS does not comply with the request, it is likely that Chairman Neal will subpoena the returns,” Representative Judy Chu, a Democratic member of the Ways and Means Committee, told Reuters.

“If they do not comply with that (subpoena), a legal battle will begin to defend the right of oversight in Congress,” she said.

Trump broke with a decades-old precedent by refusing to release his tax returns as a presidential candidate in 2016 or since being elected, saying he could not do so while his taxes were being audited.

But his former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, told a House panel in February that he does not believe Trump’s taxes are under audit. Cohen said the president feared that releasing his returns could lead to an audit and IRS tax penalties.

Source: NewsMax Politics

U.S. President Donald Trump and U.S. first lady Melania Trump arrive aboard Air Force One
U.S. President Donald Trump waves after arriving aboard Air Force One after spending Easter weekend at his Mar-a-Lago club, at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, U.S., April 21, 2019. REUTERS/Al Drago

April 23, 2019

By Jan Wolfe

(Reuters) – A U.S. judge on Tuesday said he would hear oral arguments on May 14 in a lawsuit brought by President Donald Trump seeking to block a subpoena for information about Trump’s personal and business finances.

Trump’s accounting firm, Mazars USA, had faced an April 29 deadline for complying with the demand from the Democratic chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Oversight Committee, Representative Elijah Cummings.

U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta in Washington said the firm would not need to respond until one week after he rules on Trump’s request for a preliminary suspension of the subpoena.

The committee said the records are related to its investigation of allegations by Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen that businessman Trump had inflated or deflated financial statements for potentially improper purposes. Cummings sought eight years of financial documents from Mazars and Trump sued Cummings on Monday to halt the process.

Cohen testified to Congress in February that Trump had misrepresented his net worth in the years before he was elected president in 2016.

Cummings and Trump had jointly agreed to the new schedule, the judge said in his order.

(Reporting by Jan Wolfe; editing by Grant McCool)

Source: OANN


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