VW Emission Scandal

It was reported on May 3, 2018, that ex-CEO of VW, Martin Winterkorn,  was indicted by a Grand Jury in Michigan for making “false representations to regulators and the public” about the emission levels of VW vehicles.   As reported by the BBC (link provided below), US Attorney General Jeff Sessions said the indictment showed that Volkswagen’s scheme to cheat its legal requirements went “all the way to the top.”

Kudos to Sessions, federal prosecutors,  and the US justice system.   But even if found guilty by US authorities, it’s unlikely Mr Winterkorn, who resigned soon after the scandal broke in 2015, will ever see the inside of a US courtroom, much less prison, as Germany does not extradite its citizens. according to the BBC.

It was front page news in 2015, that VW had special coding within their cars’  computer to detect when their cars were being tested by the EPA, and make the necessary changes so the cars would pass the emissions tests.  The problem was the nitrous oxide levels (NOx).   The problem was enormous.   If they made their cars compliant for emission standards, the fuel economy would be substantially lower.  In the US,  it is mandatory to post the fuel mileage on the window of new cars.  It is also an obvious selling point,  as it suggests to an owner of an older model, that they could save on both car repairs and fuel costs by trading their old car for a new one.   It is also obvious, that consumers would select VW over other car manufacturers based on better fuel economy.   So, any attempt to fix emissions, would result in a fraud case, by all consumers based on gas consumption.

The Wikipedia summary is very good, but I have supplemented it with a couple of links, relating nitrogen oxide in the atmosphere with health problems and agricultural crises.   I would have a requirement that all automotive engineers take at least one course in environmental science.

Things go wrong in companies all the time.   I worked for an oil company (Texaco) and fortunately, never was directly involved in  engineering decisions involving deceit or fraud.   But, I knew of a number of cases, where if an engineer did go public with certain information, it would likely result in the engineer getting fired, and the whole matter covered up.   It is a real tough situation.  This is exactly the situation VW engineers faced.

The real documentation of the fraud in  VW case, is  the computer program itself, which is stored in a non-readable binary machine code in every car that is sold.   It isn’t a problem of the code being locked or encrypted, but the form of the code. There is a solution to this, but let’s wait to the end of the story.

Eleven million cars produced by VW, from 2009 to 2014, had the rigged software.   Of the 11 million, 500,000 cars were sold in the US.   These were diesel cars, which are not very popular in the US.  My guess is engineers were told a lie.  If caught, we’ll do a recall and fix the error.  This has become standard operating procedure.   Of course, it wasn’t fixable.   Perhaps, a second lie was also told, “we can’t get caught, because it’s all buried in the unreadable machine code.”

Per Wikipedia, “Engineers had recognized inadequacies in emissions tests, dating back to 1989.   The Washington Post also reported that in the late 1990s, EPA engineers at Virginia Testing Laboratory had built a system called ROVER, designed to test a car’s emissions on the road. The project was shut down in 2001, despite preliminary tests indicating gaps between emissions from lab tests and real world tests of about 10 to 20 percent.”     They didn’t contemplate how “on the road testing could catch cheaters.”

It was completely by chance that VW got caught. Under a $50,000 grant,  in early 2014, two professors and two students began testing emission under road conditions, using a portable emissions measurement system.  Under real-world driving conditions the Jetta exceeded US emissions limits “by a factor of 15 to 35” while the Passat exceeded the limit “by a factor of 5 to 20, according to Wikipedia.

Now, what Michael Winterkorn is charged with, is not the initial crime of cheating the testing, but the later concealment from the consumer,  after he learned  the VW cars had the defeat device.

Cars have computers to fine tune the performance.   It was pretty inconceivable that the engineers would create the defeat device,  but they are encouraged to be “problem solvers” and to innovative to gain  a competitive advantage over the other car makers.  It seems a simple solution has been suggested,  to require only readable and public code  to be used in cars.     Unfortunately,  EPA is pretty dysfunctional with Scott Pruitt at the helm.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Links:

Wikipedia:  VW Emissions Scandal

BBC: Diesel emissions scandal

Nearly half of Michiganders live in unacceptable smog levels, EPA says

Why ozone levels pose a challenge to food security

 

The counter attack Michael Cohen, Stormy Daniels and Mueller’s investigation.

Wow.  What a mess!  What was going on in the last couple of weeks of the elections – if people knew, Trump would have lost for sure.

It started with the Russian influence in the US elections was a “made up story”  by the “fake news media” or the Democrats,  to explain why they lost.  Then 13 Russians were indicted by the Grand Jury and big names in the Trump campaign are either headed for trial (Paul Manafort) or have pleaded guilty (Michael Flynn,  Rick Gates and George Papadopoulos).    A lot more is coming in the Russian probe.

No country should ever be allowed to influence the US elections.    The best chance for criminal justice and truth is with the Mueller investigation.

The Stormy Daniels story changes depending on how much hard evidence the prosecutors have, and how much Trump feels that Cohen might flip.   Another words, this saga has evolved from some rogue attorney, who felt so honor bond to Donald Trump, to pay $130,000 out of his own funds, to shut up Stormy Daniels, to part of a legal agreement (note attorney-client privilege) to fix problems for Donald Trump as part of retainer fees.

Calm and precise Jeff Toobin, legal commentator for CNN, summed it up nicely, “How stupid does he think we are?”  meaning of course Trump.

It isn’t the FBI or the Department of Justice that has caused a problem for Trump, but the president.

As his associates get caught,  they’re flipping.  The indictments and convictions will depend on a massive amount of information, not available to the public, including financial records, bank statements,  emails, and other documents.

O, what a tangled web we weave when first we practise to deceive!
Walter Scott

I’m leaving off the usual links, except for the Wikipedia, which is the best factual summary I could find.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Link:

Wikipedia – Special Counsel

 

Comey’s book “Higher Loyalty”

I’ve read the book, cover to cover.  It has received excellent reviews.  Some may be disappointed that he does not provide details in the Russian investigation by Robert Mueller.    In interviews, he has carefully refused to comment on the ongoing investigation.

It is not an anti-Trump book, only there was little to admire about his interactions with the FBI Director Comey.   In fact, there is hardly a mention of Trump until the very few last chapters.   It is rather a pro-FBI and pro-Department of Justice book.  It is a memoir, from early childhood  to his various assignments in public office.

In many areas, it is a book in praise of those who have shown outstanding courage, conviction and values.   A defining moment came with the “Stellar Wind” episode, where Comey had to race to the hospital bed, where Attorney General John Ashcroft, re-affirmed that Comey had full authority to refuse to reauthorize a warrantless  surveillance program on constitutional grounds, despite White House objections.   The hero, was Attorney General John Ashcroft,  very ill at the time with pancreatitis,  surrounded by White House attorneys who wanted him to override James Comey, who was acting AG while Ashcroft was in the hospital:

And then John Ashcroft did something that amazed me.  He pushed himself up on the bed with his elbows.  His tired eyes fixed upon the president’s men and gave Card and Gonzales a rapid-fire blast.  He had been misled about the scope of the surveillance program, he said.   He vented that he had long been denied the legal basis for parts of the program now that he understood it.  Spent, he fell back on his pillow, his breathing labored.  “But that doesn’t matter now,” he said, “because I’m not the attorney general.”  With a finger extended from his shaking left hand, he pointed to me. “There is the attorney general.”

There’s more to this story.  Although hesitant at first,  President Bush makes sufficient revisions to the Stellar Wind program,  and the program is re-authorized by the Department of Justice.  It is a positive example of a president, who is respectful of the independence and authority of the Department of Justice.

Most of the interviews I’ve listen to, are focused on Comey’s interactions with President Trump, which are in the last three chapters of the 14 chapters in the  book.   Comey writes there was a lack of humility in Trump as follows:

As I’d seen from other leaders, being confident enough to be humble – comfortable in their own skin – is at the heart of effective leadership.  That humility makes a whole lot of things possible, none more important than a single, humble question” “What am I missing?”

Later, in a discussion of Russian meddling in the 2016 election, with Comey and CIA Director Clapper with the new Trump team,   Comey writes,“What I found telling was what ask…. how the United States might prepare itself to meet that threat [in future elections]. “

Impatient readers will likely dive bomb into the last chapter of the book, which are strictly on the Trump presidency bypassing most of the very positive messages of the book.    By March 30, 2017,  Trump wanted Comey  to “lift the cloud” of suspicion surrounding his involvement with Russian agents, as it was “impairing his ability to act on behalf of the country.” This was repeated on April 11, 2017.    Comey’s firing came on May 9, 2017, in a very humiliating way, in his fifth month on the job.  He writes, “It may sound strange, but throughout my five months working under Donald Trump,  I wanted to succeed as president… We need our presidents to succeed. ”  

Comey doesn’t venture beyond his go beyond his congressional testimony as a private citizen,  on the reasons for his firing.  He stated then,

And on May 9th, when I learned that I had been fired, for that reason, I immediately came home as a private citizen.  But then the explanations, the shifting explanations, confused me and increasingly concerned me.   

He goes not to say they confused him for three reasons: (1) Trump said on occasions that he was doing a great job,  (2) Trump  said he was fired for the Russian investigation (Lester Holt interview)  and (3)  The initial explanation was based on  decisions Comey  made during the election year at  the conclusion of the email scandal.  I will add to this third reason, which I considered a made to order pretext for firing Comey  in an upcoming blog.

The 3 page epilogue leaves no question about how he feels about Donald Trump as president, as he writes, “Donald Trump’s presidency threatens much of what is good for this nation.”   At this point, it is no longer about a particular event or policy, but of violated norms and values.   It ends on a positive message, as he writes, “The next president, no matter the party, will surely emphasize values – truth, integrity, respect and tolerance – in ways an American leader hasn’t needed to for more than forty years. “

Stay tuned,

Dave

 

Scooter Libby Pardon

Scooter who?  I’m certain this is how many people reacted.   His full name is I. Lewis Libby,  but he goes by the name of Scooter Libby.

Now a bit of background on pardons.  The US Constitution gives the president the authority to pardon or commute the sentence of anyone he wants.  A person does not necessarily have to be convicted of a crime to be pardoned.  A list of each president and the number of people whose sentences were reduced or pardon, is given in the links below.  People can be guilty as hell, and still get pardon.  Even before someone is charged with a crime, they can be pardoned.     President Madison pardoned Pierre LaFitte because he helped Andrew Jackson, during the war of 1812.   Andrew Johnson who succeeded Lincoln,  granted a full and unconditional pardon and amnesty to all former Confederates of the rebellion on Christmas Day 1868.   Johnson also commuted the sentence of 3 convicted conspirators in Lincoln’s assassination.

More recently,  President Nixon commuted the sentence of  Jimmy Hoffa, the famous corrupt union boss, who subsequently vanished (likely murdered by others in the mob)  in 1962.  President Ford pardoned Richard Nixon in 1974.  I believe President Ford was right.  Nixon would have been charged with obstruction of justice.  It wasn’t the Watergate break in but the cover up,  backed up by Oval office audio recordings  that helped seal Nixon’s fate.   Nixon was the only president to be pardon.   Ford also provided a full restoration of citizenship to General Robert E. Lee,  who lead the confederate forces during the civil war about 110 years after the fact.   President Carter  granted amnesty to Vietnam war draft resisters, so he clearly is the record holder for pardons.    Carter also commuted the sentence of G. Gordon Libby, involved in the Watergate break in.

— * —

Then there was the billionaire Marc Rich pardon on Clinton’s last day in office.  The pardon raise criticism from many, including the New York Times,  that rich people can buy their way out of trouble, through charitable or  political contributions.  In 1983,  Rich and partner Pincus Green were indicted on 65 criminal counts, including income tax evasion, wire fraud, racketeering, and trading with Iran during the oil embargo (at a time when Iranian revolutionaries were still holding American citizens hostage).  However, Rich’s activities during the oil embargo  benefited Israel, as he was able to supply them with oil, with the help of Mossad, Israel  intelligence unit. The indictment was filed by then-U.S. Federal Prosecutor (and future mayor of New York City) Rudy Giuliani. At the time it was the biggest tax evasion case in U.S. history. Rich fled to Switzerland which refused to extradite Rich for what the they considered were tax crimes.  Rich died in 2013 in  Lucerne, Switzerland.

I bring up Marc Rich’s case, because it would be used, many times, to support the idea of corruption through the use of pardons.  An original “Pay to Play” scheme.  Rich was an oil commodities broker,  and made a fortune buying  crude oil from Iraq and Iran, during the 1973 to 1974 Arab Oil Embargo.   Rich’s ex-wife, Denise had donated over a million dollars to the Democratic Party.  Hillary Clinton didn’t get quite as much, with a donation from Denise on the order of  $70,00 to  $100,000 (See Wikipedia link).    I won’t go into the long controversial Rich saga,  but other tax experts claimed that Rich’s company was in fact, a Swiss company, so the RICO Act  (racketeering law) was improperly applied in Rich’s violation of the embargo rules.   According to Wikipedia:

In a February 18, 2001 op-ed essay in The New York Times, Clinton (by then out of office) explained why he had pardoned Rich, noting that U.S. tax professors Bernard Wolfman of the Harvard Law School and Martin Ginsburg of Georgetown University Law Center had concluded that no crime had been committed, and that Rich’s companies’ tax-reporting position had been reasonable. In the same essay, Clinton listed Lewis “Scooter” Libby as one of three “distinguished Republican lawyers” who supported a pardon for Rich.

Scooter Libby was one of Marc Rich’s lawyers.    It was Eric Holder as Clinton’s Deputy Attorney General who signed off on the pardon.  James Comey was US Attorney for the Southern District of New York in January 2002, and was critical of the pardon (page 159 of his new book).   Comey inherited an investigation into the pardon, as it had the appearance of a corrupt bargain.  There wasn’t enough evidence to bring charges.  Comey suggests it’s possible that Hillary Clinton as a junior senator, might have been reluctant to meet with him in 2002, due to his involvement in this  investigation.   He also suggests that it’s likely simply a scheduling problem.   He states this more as an aside, in discussing Clinton email investigation, which began on July 6, 2015.

— * —

I digress.  Now, back to the Trump pardon.   In the Bush administration,  Scooter Libby held three positions from 2001 to 2005:   Assistant to the Vice President for National Security Affairs and Chief of Staff to the Vice President and Assistant to the President.   He  was Vice President  Dick Cheney’s right hand man, by all accounts, interacting with Departments of State, Justice and Defense.

The Trump  pardon changed nothing  for Scooter Libby.  It seemed directed at conservative Republicans, particularly those who felt Libby had been a victim of an overzealous special prosecutor, some 15 years ago.   Does this sound familiar?

A jury convicted Libby of obstruction of justice and perjury in his grand jury testimony and making false statements to federal investigators about when and how he learned that Plame was a CIA agent.The crime occurred in 2003, and the appeals were exhausted by 2007 at which point  he received a partial pardon from President Bush.   Bush stated:

“Mr. Libby was sentenced to thirty months of prison, two years of probation, and a $250,000 fine. In making the sentencing decision, the district court rejected the advice of the probation office, which recommended a lesser sentence and the consideration of factors that could have led to a sentence of home confinement or probation.I respect the jury’s verdict. But I have concluded that the prison sentence given to Mr. Libby is excessive. Therefore, I am commuting the portion of Mr. Libby’s sentence that required him to spend thirty months in prison. My decision to commute his prison sentence leaves in place a harsh punishment for Mr. Libby. The reputation he gained through his years of public service and professional work in the legal community is forever damaged. His wife and young children have also suffered immensely. He will remain on probation. The significant fines imposed by the judge will remain in effect. The consequences of his felony conviction on his former life as a lawyer, public servant, and private citizen will be long-lasting.”

Many in government including Vice President Cheney, wanted a full pardon.  More over, I’m certain others wanted to lay blame for Libby’s problems to an over zealous Special Prosecutor, named Patrick Fitzpatrick and to blame the justice system.  Bush broke with Cheney on this one.

Fifteen years later, as it seemed everything was back to normal.  As consequence of his conviction, Libby’s license to practice law was suspended until being reinstated in 2016.   The judge had wide leeway in sentencing Libby, but he could have been given up to 25 years and fined one million dollars.  He was sentenced to 30 months in jail, but President Bush commuted Scooter Libby’s jail sentence, resulting in 2 years on probation and a $250,000 file.

All this occurred as a result of the “Valerie Plame affair”  in which a columnist, Robert Novak, revealed that she was a CIA agent.   I won’t go into the detail on the Scooter Libby’s case, however it is part of James Comey’s new book,  “A Higher Loyalty” as he was assigned to the case, as a US Attorney.  Comey’s book came out about 4 days after Trump’s pardon, so Comey had no clue that Libby would be pardoned.  This was a case of at least 3 leakers, within the Bush administration:  Karl Rove,  Richard Armitage and Scooter Libby.   However,  Libby compounded his problems by lying to the FBI.  Libby told investigators it was Tim Russert, the NBC Washington bureau chief which informed him that Valerie Plame was a CIA agent.   They knew Libby had committed a crime which the Justice Department could prove to a jury.

Comey explains that the case against Rove and Armitage was weak, as disclosure of a covert intelligence agent requires proof of specific and evil intent,  not just idle gossip.  To avoid an apparent conflict of interest, Comey appointed a special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald.   Right now, Patrick Fitzgerald  is part of James Comey’s  legal advisers and saw Comey’s note on a White House meeting after he was fired.

— * —

Donald Trump pardoned Scooter Libby on April 13, 2018 based on a Department of Justice recommendation.  As I said at the outset,  it change little for Scooter Libby.  However, what I find particularly offensive,  was Trump’s call to Libby’s lawyer, where Trump told her that Libby had been “screwed by the courts.”   Libby’s victim, Valerie Plame,  got it right, as she responded:

“This is definitely not about me. It’s absolutely not about Scooter Libby. This is about Donald Trump and his future,” Plame said before the formal announcement hit. “It’s very clear that this is a message he’s sending that you can commit crimes against national security and you will be pardoned, so I think he’s got an audience of three right now. That would be Manafort, Flynn and Kushner, and perhaps others.”

“The message being sent is you can commit perjury and I will pardon you if it protects me and I deem that you are loyal to me,” she added.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Trump: Scooter Libby “got screwed”

Presidential Pardons

Carter’s pardon stopped further court cases against draft dodgers during the Vietnam war, but excluded anyone who had previously been convicted.  Exactly how many draft dodgers might have been caught and brought to justice, and what punishment would have been given,  is really anyone’s guess.

Wikipedia:  Marc Rich

Wikipedia:  United States  v. Libby 

Wikipedia: Scooter Libby

Politico:  Trump issues pardon for Lewis ‘Scooter’ Libby

Patrick Fitzgerald – Special Counsel for Plame Affair

Scooter Libby – Marc Rich Connection

Comey’ Book: A Higher Loyalty

It is number 1 on Amazon’s best seller list.  Amazon was accepting pre-orders, and my copy arrived yesterday as promised.   The White House has made James Comey out to be public enemy #1, but he was well liked under both Republican and Democrats alike.   He was confirmed as FBI Director by the Senate 93 to 1.  I’m not bothering listening to Comey’s interviews, nor the White House or Fox’s  hourly attacks on Comey.  I’m too busy reading his book.   I used to subscribe to a stock advisory newsletter, whose motto was jokingly, “Frequently wrong but never in doubt.”  I think this applies to Trump.    Comey was the exception,  “Frequently right, but usually in doubt.”

The strongest asset of a democracy is an informed public. This is Comey’s memoir from the vantage point of  the highest level of  law investigation and enforcement.  It should be read from cover to cover, ignoring  the noise coming from Washington and the media.

Stay tuned,

Dave

 

 

Trump’s fixer man, Michael Cohen, and his secret business dealings

Michael Cohen is both a lawyer and a business man.    Search warrants  were served on Mr. Cohen because he is  being investigated for possible campaign finance violations, bank fraud and wire fraud.   It is part of a federal grand jury investigation which was empaneled months ago.  On Monday,  Mr. Cohen lost in his request to have all items seized in the raid returned to him.     It was established in court, that in the last year and a half,  Cohen provided legal advice to only three clients,  Donald Trump,  Elliott Broidy and Sean Hannity.   Sean Hannity denied he was Mr. Cohen’s client.

In their search, investigators also sought to obtain records relating to Cohen’s ownership of taxi medallions — high-value assets that are often used as collateral for loans, according to people familiar with the matter.  The value of the medallions was sharply dropping in value, as a result of Uber and Lyft.   Between April and June 2017, the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance filed seven tax warrants against Cohen and his wife for $37,434 in unpaid taxi taxes due to the MTA.[13]

Prosecutors are following the money on this one.   The  $130,000 payoff to Stormy Daniels, might be the most visible sign of shady business, but I suspect there are far bigger targets.   Elliott Broidy  needed Cohen’s help to hide the fact that his affair with Playboy model, Shera Bachard, who he made pregnant, and Cohen arranged a 1.3 million dollar payment to hush up the affair.    The child was aborted.

According to the New York Times, Mr. Broidy was a national deputy chairman of the R.N.C.’s finance committee, a title he shared with Mr. Cohen.  Mr. Broidy is the second member of that committee to resign this year amid questions involving their behavior with women and deals to silence them.

So,  how big is this swamp?   Here is more from the New York Times article:

During the wide-ranging October meeting, Mr. Broidy raised numerous topics high on the agenda of the United Arab Emirates, a country that has given his security company a contract worth hundreds of millions of dollars. He pitched the president on a paramilitary force his company was developing for the U.A.E. and urged Mr. Trump to fire Rex W. Tillerson, then the secretary of state, who the U.A.E. believed was insufficiently tough on its rival Qatar.

The documents show that Mr. Broidy has worked closely with George Nader, an adviser to the U.A.E. and a witness in the special counsel’s investigation, to help steer Trump administration policy on numerous issues in the Middle East. Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel, is examining Mr. Nader’s possible role in funneling Emirati money to finance Mr. Trump’s political efforts. There is no indication that Mr. Mueller’s team is looking into Mr. Broidy.

In 2009, Mr. Broidy pleaded guilty to charges that he made nearly $1 million worth of illegal gifts to New York State officials in order to win an investment of $250 million from the state’s public pension fund. Among the gifts were trips to Israel and Italy, payouts to officials’ relatives and girlfriends and an investment in one relative’s production of a low-budget movie called “Chooch.”

It is also reported that there are no emails between Donald Trump and Michael Cohen.   Trump apparently doesn’t use email.

If true, can you imagine the gall of Broidy, wanting to get rid of the secretary of state,  because of his business dealings in the UAE.    Our environmental policies, have been sold out to the fossil fuel companies,  but was  Trump also trading in our relations with other Middle East countries to help support his donors?    Broidy was also on Trump’s inaugural ceremony committee, where millions  were unaccounted for according to MSNBC’s Rachel Madlow and others (see link).

I’m honestly not that interested in Stormy Daniel’s hush money contract, or  Elliot Broidy’s affair,  but the Middle East connections, by way of George Nader.  This might help Mueller’s team.

At this point, it is a legal battle between the president’s lawyers who want to do anything possible to impede the review by the “taint team”  verses the Department of Justice who want to know to get the team’s  review done as soon as possible.   Judge Kimba Woods has stated that case law on confidentiality, applies equally, be it the president of the United States, or the man on the street.   This has also been the opinion of the Supreme Court,  dating back to claims of Executive Privilege in the days of Nixon and Watergate.   Judge Woods  will likely decide soon whether a Special Master should be appointed.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Links:

Whatever happened to the money from Trump’s inaugural committee?

 

Andrew McCabe

I wrote previously that Andrew McCabe was fired for doing his job well.   All the evidence supports that he was an exemplary FBI agent and Deputy Director.  The firing had nothing to do with the quality of his work. He was fired by the Attorney General Jeff Sessions, following a report by the inspector general.   The charges against him were unauthorized disclosure of an ongoing investigation and lying about it under oath when asked by the inspector general.  The exact wording is he “lack candor”  when interviewed.   It is not criminal to lie to an inspector general, but it’s against the rules of the FBI and can result in firing.

The unauthorized disclosure charge relates to an article written in the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) in October 2016.  Andrew McCabe insists that there was nothing done improperly.   The Wall Street Journal article was printed  on October 31, entitled, “FBI in Internal Feud Over Hillary Clinton Probe:
Laptop may contain thousands of messages sent to or from Mrs. Clinton’s private server.”   The article is clear that there was a fundamental disagreement on how far to push the Clinton Foundation investigation.    Andrew McCabe has stated he was interested in a more aggressive investigation of the Clinton Foundation, ironically at the same time, that Trump was on television nearly every night claiming the FBI was involved in a cover-up of wrong doing by the Clintons.

The inspector general’s report will be made public this week.  I’m certain it will judge McCabe’s action in isolation, not taking into consideration the campaign frenzy at the time.   The disclosure  occurred under extra-ordinary circumstances, with an open investigations on many fronts, and a massive attempt for the Trump team to capitalize on the “crooked Hillary” and weak FBI efforts in particular.

Donald Trump waged an extremely negative campaign in the last week of the campaign,  non-stop ranting about an incredibly corrupt Clinton (“crooked Hillary”)  and in collusion with the Obama administration (DOJ/FBI)  to hide her crimes, from violations of compromising national security via her private server,  destruction of evidence (crushing her cell phone) in an investigation,  and the links between the Clinton Foundation donors and the Uranium One deal.

All of crooked Hillary stuff, as listed above, was nonsense and no crimes were committed.  At least,  Attorney General Jeff Sessions has never charged the Clinton campaign nor the Foundation with any wrong doing, and he has all the investigative details from the FBI.    The only ones  with guilty pleas or likely to stand trial were with the Trump campaign.

My copy of Comey’s book will arrive tomorrow and with the release of the IG report, I’ve got a lot of reading to do.   The WSJ article is provided in the link below.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Links:

October 31, 2016 FBI in Internal Feud Over Hillary Clinton Probe:
Laptop may contain thousands of messages sent to or from Mrs. Clinton’s private server

 

Strike on Syria is a success

I’ve got a lot of complaints about Trump, but the Syrian air strike is one that I consider an outright success.    It was done in close cooperation of our allies.  By all reports, the objectives were military targets, directly tied to chemical weapons production or research.   The Assad regime promised to destroy all their chemical weapons, but obviously they lied.   Russia still backs Assad.   Military solutions are the last resort, but that’s exactly where we were with Assad.   I listen to the discussion at the UN, and was very proud of Nikki Haley, as she forcefully defended our actions, along with the French and British ambassadors to the UN.   General Mattis was equally impressive.

I won’t go into the longer term strategy for now.  Let’s give credit where credit is well deserved on the tactical decision and execution.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Slime ball Comey

“James Comey is a proven LEAKER & LIAR. Virtually everyone in Washington thought he should be fired for the terrible job he did-until he was, in fact, fired. He leaked CLASSIFIED information, for which he should be prosecuted. He lied to Congress under OATH,” Trump wrote in a statement that stretched across two Twitter posts. “He is a weak and untruthful slime ball who was, as time has proven, a terrible Director of the FBI. His handling of the Crooked Hillary Clinton case, and the events surrounding it, will go down as one of the worst ‘botch jobs’ of history. It was my great honor to fire James Comey!”

James Comey is 57 years old, and I’m certain that he thought his appointment as Director of the FBI would be his last governmental job.  His book, A Higher Loyalty,   is scheduled to be published on April 17, 2018, and I’ve already ordered a copy.    Most people like Trump are responding to short excerpts which have been posted to the Internet.  I shall not enter the fray.  No mosh pits for me, thank you.

James Comey has served four  Presidents:  Clinton, Bush, Obama and Trump in leadership positions.  His career has been a steady series of promotions.   His career has been mostly in governmental positions, although he did work in private practice.   After graduating from the University of Chicago, with a law degree, he worked as a law clerk for United States District Judge John M. Walker Jr. in Manhattan.   He joined the  Attorneys Office of the US Southern District Court of New York in 1987.   As a side note, the head of the Southern District Court, Attorney Geoffrey Berman is now considered disloyal (among other things) to Trump after approving the search warrant on Cohen.  Berman was appointed by Trump in January 2018.

There are many achievements of Comey’s career.   When he worked in the Southern District, he  helped prosecute the Gambino crime family .In November 2002, he led the prosecution of three men involved in one of the largest identity fraud cases in American history.[32] The fraud had lasted two years and resulted in thousands of people across the country collectively losing well over $3 million. He also led the indictment of Adelphia Communications founder John Rigas for bank fraud, wire fraud, and securities fraud. Rigas was convicted of the charges in 2004 and in 2005, was sentenced to 15 years in federal prison. Adelphia Corporation was forced to file for bankruptcy after it acknowledged that it took $3.3 billion in false loans. It was “one of the most elaborate and extensive corporate frauds in United States history.”

The links below, provides more details on the accomplishments of James Comey,  generally working  for the District Courts, the Department of Justice and ultimately the Director of the FBI, as appointed by Obama and confirmed by the Senate in 2013.  He was confirmed by the Senate by a vote of 93 to 1.    Rand Paul was the lone dissenter, concerned about drone surveillance.  I think the CNN summary of “Who is James Comey” is very interesting and worth reading.    I can see why Republicans might like him,   as he was part of the Whitewater investigation, determining if the Clinton’s broke the law in their Arkansas real estate investigation.

I’ve already covered extensively Comey’s investigation of Clinton’s email server.    I concluded  his actions were appropriate for a truly unique situation, given absolute time constraints, being the US elections and the highly contentious statements by Trump at political rallies.   Comey has explained his actions, which have  at times either upset Republicans or Democrats (never both at the same time),  as he twice opened and closed the email investigation.   Being non-partisan leaves you open to partisan attacks from both sides.  As far as a leaker of information, this did occur, but what was leaked was Comey’s notes of a meeting he had with  President Trump.   It was part of his testimony to Congress, and I’ve included a link on this matter.    My comments are generally under FBI as a category and James Comey as a tag.

What I think irritated Donald Trump the most, was that Comey was a dogged prosecutor and non-partisan in all his activities.  “A Higher Loyalty”  seems a fitting title.   As far as being a liar,  Trump really is the last person to call anyone a liar.   So far,  politifact.com shows he tells the truth about 5% of the time.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Links:

Comey, A Higher Loyalty,  2018  Available at Amazon.com 

Not out yet.  I plan not to buy any more books from Amazon.  I will go to my local bookstore, buy a book, and read it while having a cup of coffee.   I might be there all day so I’ll have lunch there too.  It’s already on the best sellers list and not a copy has been sent to the public.

CNN: Who is James Comey: 7 things to know about the fired FBI director

Note:  I hate all the ads that come with these links.

Fact Check:  James Comey 

Trump lashes out at Comey as ‘untruthful slime ball’

Wikipedia: James Comey

A Leaker’s Admission: How the Media Covered, and Factored Into, Comey’s Testimony

Client-Attorney Privilege/ Alan Dershowitz

It is very common knowledge that the FBI raided Michael Cohen’s office to seize information relevant to the Karen McDougal and Stormy Daniel’s cases.   Michael Cohen is Trump’s personal lawyer.

There’s been so much commentary on the raid, that it seems hardly worth adding to it.  However, the one person who doesn’t seem terrible angry is Michael Cohen, as follows:

Two days after FBI agents raided his home and office—reportedly seeking documents related to hush payments made to women with whom President Trump allegedly had an affair, among other information—the president’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen had this to say: “I just want my stuff back.” That comment, made to ABC News, was Cohen’s first remark since telling CNN on Tuesday that the raiding federal agents were “extremely professional, courteous and respectful,” contradicting the president’s claim that agents “broke into” his lawyer’s office.

I stated before that it seemed everything was done by the book.  The Deputy Attorney General, Rod Rosenstein, signed off on the search warrant.  He is a Trump appointee.  There were multiple checks on this search warrant.   Michael Cohen is under investigation for bank fraud, wire fraud and campaign finance contributions.

The items seized from Michael Cohen are with the “taint team” to determine if what information is relevant under the scope of the search.  It is another safeguard to protect the rights of Michael Cohen, against unreasonable searches.

Alan Dershowitz, the very well known defense attorney and former Harvard professor, doesn’t see it this way.  He obviously doesn’t believe there are enough checks in the system, to allow a search and still protect the legitimate privacy of an attorney’s records outside of what is criminal evidence.  An article appearing in The Hill,  is provided in the links.  He has appeared on Fox News network, with the same opinion.  Others, particularly on CNN and MSNBC,  have voiced far more confidence in the judicial system and believe prosecutors will respect the rights of Mr. Cohen.  I am particularly concerned, when Alan Dershowitz states that FBI raids should be limited to only “major crimes”  which he then states this isn’t one of them.   What will remain in the hands of judges, is the evidence that was used to support the search warrant, so Dershowitz, like the rest of us, is completely in the dark.

We have First Amendment rights of free speech.   This is the protection for individuals, who espouse very unpopular opinions including radicals on the far right and left of the political spectrum.   It  protects  gay rights activist and  atheist organizations.   When high powered attorneys  seek to intimidate people to give up their rights in exchange for money,  I think this is worthy of an investigation.   It is particularly egregious if the Daniel’s contract was invalid and payments were violations of campaign finance laws.   The Supreme Court allows massive donations to be given to political parties, to monopolize the air waves during campaigns.  The courts can not condone campaign violations which also silence dissent during a campaign.

To ignore potential violations of law helps create new rights for the wealthy and powerful class, a form of immunity from the law.  Donald Trump felt that he could have his lawyer fix  his indiscretions through physical harm and hush money to gain the silence of others, leaving him in the clear.    This was done to help his campaign for president, running on a campaign who claimed (until today) that his opponent was crooked.   The First Amendment is needed for small people or people who work for small organizations.

Dershowitz further states that the raid will make people afraid to seek legal advice.  I seriously doubt it.   A good lawyer will be sure to take steps to ensure confidentiality by having a client sign a contract to represent them in a specific matter.   The problem Trump has, is that he wanted Cohen to fix everything, and leave him in the clear.   It likely made Cohen a partner in crime.

Dershowitz goes on, to state this highly intrusive manner of collecting evidence, was done for political reasons.  Again, this seems contrary to facts as there were reviews of this warrant in the Justice Department and the Southern District of New York.  If a similar raid were conducted on Hillary Clinton’s office, it would have to go through the same court system.  I would support this as well.

I believe Michael Cohen subdued reaction is because he knows the FBI has a mountain of incriminating evidence against him.   The role of Trump’s fixer came to an abrupt end, and now the fixer has some real negotiating to do with authorities instead of Trump’s occasional indiscretions.

The late night comedians, such as Stephen Colbert and John Oliver, are having a tremendous amount of fun over the irony in all of this.   Trump appointed an Attorney General, who has been as tough as nails on illegal immigration, drug use and against sentencing reforms.   Yet, Trump is steadfastly trying to make himself an exception to the heightened law and order approach of the Justice Department.

Trump is saying in essence, “Go after criminals, but stay away from my campaign officials and their contacts.”

Stay tuned,

Dave

Links:

http://thehill.com/opinion/judiciary/382459-dershowitz-targeting-trumps-lawyer-should-worry-us-all

Wikipedia:  Jeff Sessions

Search warrant for Michael Cohen, Trump’s Personal Lawyer

It appears to me nothing illegal or unethical or disgraceful has occurred. Prosecutors know about white collar crime, and they are just following the money. Attorney-client privileges are not absolute, meaning what is a lawyer’s computer or cellphone can never be seen by law enforcement officers. But it has to be done through the courts based on probable cause. Court decisions acknowledge the need for confidentiality in the defense of clients and this has resulted in more rules in law office searches, designed to protect privileged information.  There are exceptions.   President Trump has stated repeatedly he had no knowledge of hush money being paid to Stormy Daniels or the contract, so the client-attorney privilege is gone in this particular matter.

The potential criminal charges against Trump’s personal lawyer are bank fraud, wire fraud and campaign finance violations. This is serious stuff. The search warrant was executed on part by a referral from Robert Mueller’s office. The decision to seek a warrant was in the office of the Southern District of New York. The lead US Attorney for the Southern District is Geoffrey Berman, who is a recent Trump appointee. Only the courts can approve a warrant based on probable cause. All the specifics on the rationale for the search warrant are confidential by law. The American people do not have the right to know everything – and that’s how our justice system has always operated for the good.

Before anything is given to prosecutors, there must be an initial neutral examination of the seized material as explained below, and more completely in the second link:

The critically important interests protected by the attorney-client and work product privileges can be preserved only if the seized materials are examined by a neutral judicial officer, or by a Special Master appointed for this purpose, to determine which materials are or are not encompassed within the privileges. Such a safeguard is essential, as a number of courts have recognized.

 

This means what was seized by the FBI, is in the control of a court appointed neutral judicial officer. The person would have no connection to Michael Cohen, the Justice Department or the Southern District of NY.
Will Michael Cohen sue for irreparable harm to his practice? Absolutely. Will he get the blessings from the legal establishment to push back? Maybe. Will he be indicted? I haven’t a clue. Will this help Mueller’s investigation? Ditto.

There’s a whole pile of other questions, which no one on the outside can answer. For the time being, it appears to me nothing illegal or unethical or disgraceful has occurred.

Stay tuned,
Dave

Links:

National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers,  Challenging the Law Office Search,  Weinberg and Homan, 1996.

The above link in from 1996.   The Fourth Amendment provides all Americans the right against unreasonable searches.  The sixth amendment provides the right to legal counsel.   Many of the rules governing legal search warrants have been the result of various court cases.   The protections available through the Fourth Amendment were strengthened by the Mapp v. Ohio court decision, which made excluded all evidence obtained illegally to be used in any court proceeding  in the US (exclusionary rule).  If the FBI breaks into an office, without first obtaining a legal search warrant, then none of the information from the search is admissible.

Privilege (evidence)

Privilege belongs to the client.  If Trump had stated that Cohen acted on his behalf, then he could use attorney-client privilege to shield Cohen.  Instead, he denied knowing anything about the payoff, so the claim of privilege evidence is gone.  It also appears that more liberal judges, tend to be give more weight to client’s rights in attorney-client privileges, than to the law enforcement’s needs.  The Andresen v. Maryland case upheld the legitimacy of the search warrant over the dissent of Brennan and Marshall.

Trump lashes out as Cohen raid fuses Russia probe and Stormy case

I’m really don’t think “fuses” is the right word.   Robert Mueller really separated his probe from Michael Cohen case, when he handed it off the the Southern District office.  It seems Trump wants to lump them together as one grand conspiracy.

Fact checking Trump’s statement on Immigration and other matters

I think the CNN fact checking on Trump’s immigration comments, is excellent.   See link below:

Trump on immigration: Fact check

I think Trump is up to exactly 4 true statements this year, as follows:

  • Says China and Singapore impose the death penalty on drug dealers.— PolitiFact National on Wednesday, March 14th, 2018
  • The 2018 Academy Awards show was the “lowest rated Oscars in HISTORY.”— PolitiFact National on Tuesday, March 6th, 2018
  • Small business confidence is at an all-time high.”— Donald Trump on Tuesday, January 30th, 2018 in his State of the Union address
  • The Dow Jones Industrial Average “jumped 1000 points in last 5 weeks, Record fastest 1000 point move in history.”— PolitiFact National on Monday, January 8th, 2018

The last one isn’t really that meaningful, as there have been a lot of faster 5 week moves on a percentage basis.

See link:

http://www.politifact.com/personalities/donald-trump/

April 2, was the international fact checking day.   I think this is a fantastic idea.  See link:

https://factcheckingday.com/

A belated congratulations to all those involved.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Did Mexican border apprehensions soar?

Details of Donald Trump’s decision to send National Guard to the Mexican border, have not been finalized.   He needs further consultation with the governors of the states involved.  His basis is that apprehensions are surging, as a result of increase attempts to illegal enter the US.   Note CBP data combines both apprehensions and inadmissibles together and for convenience I call them apprehensions.

I conclude the apprehensions at the Southwest border to Mexico have not suddenly soared, after an examination of the Customs and Border Patrol data.  In fact, apprehensions (approx 50,000) are very much in line with the prior five years.  What was very unusual was the pattern in FY17 as shown in the orange line.  The fiscal year 2017 goes from October 1, 2016 to Sep 30, 2017.  So, October 2016, during the Obama administration had a record number of apprehensions (67,000, I’m rounding the numbers to multiples of 1,000),  followed by a sharp drop off to a record low in April 2017.

Exactly why the  apprehensions in 2017 were abnormally low, maybe a combinations of a number of factors.  Remember,  these are immigrants who were either turned away at the border or caught attempting to get in.  The most obvious factor could be the perception of tougher enforcement at the border by President Trump.    But also remember when the economy of the US is doing well, this also tends to help Mexico and the other Latin American countries, so fewer immigrants attempt to cross the border.   The Mexican coyotes control the border crossings, with a network of associates in Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras and other countries, and I believe they   are charging very high fees (> $10,000) for their services, based on conversations I have had recently.

 

It isn’t easy to interpret these statistics.   The high number of apprehensions  as occurred in June 2014 (68,000 apprehensions) might be the result of  diligent efforts on the part of Customs officials, and not an increase in  the number of illegal  immigrants.   In 3 of the 5 years, there is a significant drop off apprehensions from May to Jun (2013, 2014 and  2015), but 2017 is markedly different with an increasing trend extending from April to Dec 2017.

Bottom line is these are the statistics of people who didn’t get into the US, and we don’t know how many did.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Links:

Twitter page:  CBP Statistics

 

 

 

Cost of Guarding Trump’s wall in San Diego

Ok.  This isn’t about the cost of guarding any actual fence or wall.   I note that  see through fence, rather than a solid wall has been long considered a more effective border security efforts.   Some prototypes include see through sections, so are they walls or fences.  Do we care?

This is about the eight standing prototypes in San Diego.   They must be guarded day and night against  graffiti artists, who would love to deface them probably with not very favorable opinions of Trump’s immigration policies.   The task to stand guard over these eight walls/fences falls to the San Diego city police and the San Diego County  Sheriff’s office.   NBC 7 local news in San Diego reports a total cost of around  one million dollars,  of which  $278,000 is for city police and $761,000 is for the Sheriff’s office.   The Sheriff’s office estimate  is for approximately 10,000 hours of overtime, coming out to $76/hour.  The cost estimate from NBC News is provided in the links.

There has been no reported arrest of graffiti artists,  so the security must be working.  This also may be to the no nonsense Trump position (Minimum mandatory sentence to all graffitists)  or the “Trump effect” of not daring to deface his wall.

The prototypes  have already been tested, I guess, by seeing if people can get over them.  It has been reported that all the prototypes passed, even the ones with see through parts.  If these prototypes are to stay until the security fence (the word I like) is built,  we may be looking at decades of prototype protection.  It would seem there should be some way to make money off of this.   San Diego Prototype Park?   Maybe do some landscaping, and build signs, explaining the features of each fence.

Or, invite local artists to paint the walls.  In Miami, we have Wynwood walls, which is very popular among tourists.

I suspect like many walls, this one will come down.   The destruction day should  be on YouTube.

And I expect Trump to stiff the city and county for all their good work.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Links:

This report also goes into details of the drastic drop off of illegal immigrants entering the US through Mexico.   But the Department of Homeland Security is saying that in March 2018, there was a sudden surge in attempted illegal entry.   Of course, all we have are statistics on how many failed to get into the US, not how many evaded border patrols.   There are a lot of statistics floating around, and I’ll do my best to explain them in a future blog.

NBC 7 Investigates Looks at Local Border Wall Costs and Immigration Arrests

 

 

 

 

 

Trump’s economic advisors

“It is a horrible deal, really horrible, but we’re going to fix that”

This is any particular quote from Trump but applicable to many accords – from NAFTA, the Trans-Pacific Partnership and to many bilateral accords, most recently his attack on he  South Korean Trade Agreement.   The same quote can be said of the Iran Nuclear deal and the Paris Accords on Climate Change Mitigation.   Everything is blamed on prior administrations, but most of the blame still goes to President Obama.

A minor case in point –  on January 12, 2018,  Trump cancelled a trip to the US embassy in London, citing Obama poor decision in moving the Embassy at a cost of 1.2 billion dollars.   It was decided upon by President Bush and not Obama.   Trump rarely lets facts get in his way.

Gary Cohen,  was the head of the National Economic Council,  and chief economic advisor to Trump.   He is generally accredited for Trump’s tax cut and jobs program, signed into law on December 22, 2017.   On March 6, 2018,  Gary Cohen resigned in March, just before the imposition of tariffs on aluminum and steel.  It was widely reported that he was against the tariffs.  Larry Kudlow has been appointed to this position.   Kudlow is a strong believer in  supply-side economics, which means that a cut in federal taxes, will stimulate the economy sufficiently to make up for the loss in tax revenue.  He been dead wrong a number of times, beginning with the opinion that tax increases would dampen the economy during the Clinton administration.  Just the reverse happened, and the economy boomed after this.

Kudlow was a strong advocate of George W. Bush’s substantial tax cuts, and argued that the tax cuts would lead to an economic boom of equal magnitude. After the implementation of the Bush tax cuts, Kudlow insisted year after year that the economy was in the middle of a “Bush boom”, and chastised other commentators for failing to realize it. Kudlow firmly denied that the United States would enter a recession in 2007, or that it was in the midst of a recession in early to mid-2008. In December 2007, he wrote: “The recession debate is over. It’s not gonna happen. Time to move on. At a bare minimum, we are looking at Goldilocks 2.0. (And that’s a minimum). The Bush boom is alive and well. It’s finishing up its sixth splendid year with many more years to come”. In a May 2008 column entitled “‘R’ is for ‘Right,'” Kudlow wrote: “President George W. Bush may turn out to be the top economic forecaster in the country”. By July 2008, Kudlow continued to deny that the economy was looking poor, insisting that “We are in a mental recession, not an actual recession.” Lehman Brothers collapsed in September 2008, creating a full-blown international banking crisis.

Larry Kudlow is well educated, articulate and  very straight forward.  He has been a regular commentator on MSNBC.  His comments is generally appreciated, as he is well informed.  However,  he has been frequently wrong on the basic moves of the economy, I believe because of his philosophical perspective of less government intervention.   This has been chronicled in a book entitled Superforecasting (2015).   The book explains how experts in various fields, do no better than amateurs.

Two key advisers right now, are Peter Navarro, Director of the National Trade Council  and Wilbur Ross,  Secretary of the Commerce Department.   In many administrations, these organizations and individuals might not receive much attention, as they engage in behind the scenes negotiations on trade and commerce.   However,  as fears of a trade war with China,  intensify and concerns of the impact on our economy is debated,  these two individuals are increasingly in the media, particularly in the business news reporting.

Peter Navarro is a very controversial figure at present.  Wikipedia labels him as a heterodox economist, with opinions  outside of the mainstream economistss.   He is also considered a protectionist and isolationist by Wikipedia.   According to the Guardian:

Navarro was a key architect of Trump’s “America First” policy of economic nationalism and a tireless critic of China’s economic policies – one of his books is decorated with a map of America being stabbed in the heart with a knife marked Made in China. Although he has agitated for aggressively protectionist trade policy since joining the Trump campaign in 2016, the tariffs are his first key victory. During the campaign, Navarro, the only economics PhD in the Trump team, described his role as merely a facilitator. “The president – he’s the man who leads,” he told the Wall Street Journal. “He says, ‘I want to do this. How do we do it?’ The way I help is figuring out how you might do it.”

Protectionism, or economic nationalism?  Perhaps the choice of words doesn’t matter; it is the outcomes in the long run that are important.   I’ve included links on Peter Navarro at the end of this blog.

Finally,  a key adviser to Donald Trump is  Wilbur Ross.   His view on trade, as per Wikipedia:

On the subject of foreign trade, Ross has said: “I am not anti-trade. I am pro-trade, but I’m pro-sensible trade. [Being anti-trade] is a disadvantage of the American worker and the American manufacturing community.” Ross has also said that the government “should provide access to our markets to those countries who play fair, play by the rules and give everybody a fair chance to compete. Those who do not should not get away with it – they should be punished.” Initially in favor of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Ross has said that after examining the agreement, he found it was “not consistent with what was advertised.”[34]

In 2004, The Economist described Ross’s views as protectionist. Germany’s chancellor Angela Merkel has also voiced concerns during 2018 World Economic Forum in Davos over Ross and the Trump administration views as “not the proper answer”.  Ross, at the 2018 World Economic Forum, responded to concerns by noting that “There have always been trade wars. The difference now is U.S. troops are now coming to the ramparts.”

Wilbur Ross has appeared on a number of business news stations, including MSNBC, and I happen to like his straight forward answers to questions.  He always seems to be well prepared, informed and polite.   He chooses his words well.    However, he seems to underplay the affect of the proposed tariffs  might have on the stock market.

How the Trump trade wars will finally be resolved, is difficult to say.   Republican biased news stations say that in the end,   the hard position taken  by Trump will result in China yielding, particularly on intellectual property rights.  Other commentators see only an escalation of tariffs, as China would rather fight than be seen as having given in to the US.   Economic nationalism works on both continents, sometimes escalation is easier than compromise.  Certainly, the sell off in the stock market is based on the potential for a protracted battle.

As I publish this blog, the Dow is poised to drop around 500 points.

I have included a number of links on Cohen, Kudlow, Navarro and Ross.   All individuals  have extensive biographies available on the Internet.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Links:

Wikipedia:Wilbur Ross

Wikipedia:  Peter Navarro 

Peter Navarro, the economist shaping Trump’s economic thinking

Wikipedia:  Larry Kudlow

New York Times:  Larry Kudlow is the new favorite to replace Gary Cohen

Wikipedia:  Gary Cohen