Some Good Old-Fashioned (Alleged) Political Corruption

INSIDE: Tim Scott ... Hope Hicks ... MTG
UNITED STATES - APRIL 10: Ranking member Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, speaks during the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security hearing on the "Fiscal Year 2025 Request for the Department of Homeland ... UNITED STATES - APRIL 10: Ranking member Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, speaks during the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security hearing on the "Fiscal Year 2025 Request for the Department of Homeland Security," in Rayburn building on Wednesday, April 10, 2024. DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, testified. (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images) MORE LESS
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Dem Rep Indicted For Two Alleged Bribery Schemes

Let’s take a break from the existential threat to democracy for a return to those thrilling days of yesteryear when run-of-the-mill political corruption was a big fat juicy target for prosecutors and muckrakers.

A federal grand jury in Houston has indicted Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX), the last remaining anti-abortion-rights Democrat in the House, in two alleged bribery schemes: one to benefit Azerbaijan and the other a Mexico City bank.

Cuellar and his wife Imelda were both charged in the almost-readable 14-count indictment, which lays out in great detail the alleged scheme to bribe Cuellar in return for favorable treatment of Azerbaijan, as CNN reports:

Among those promises, prosecutors allege Cuellar agreed to influence US policy through a “series of legislative measures relating to Azerbaijan’s conflict with neighboring Armenia,” by giving a pro-Azerbaijani speech on the House floor, inserting language “favored by Azerbaijan” into legislation and committee reports, and advocating for “series of legislative measures relating to Azerbaijan’s conflict with neighboring Armenia.”

As for the alleged bank scheme:

The Texas Democrat also allegedly promised to influence financial regulations in a way that would benefit the Mexican bank and its affiliates, including by working to pressure the Executive Branch on anti-money laundering enforcement practices that “threatened” their business interest and supporting revisions to the criminal money-laundering statutes.

The charges in the two schemes, which came after a 2022 raid of Cuellar’s home and campaign office, largely parallel each other: conspiracy, bribery, honest services wire fraud, public official acting as an agent of a foreign principal, and money laundering.

Cuellar declared his innocence and intention to still seek re-election this year.

The Insurrectionist Party

Trump Trial Picks Back Up Today

TPM’s Josh Kovensky is back at the courthouse in Manhattan this morning as the third week of testimony in the hush-money trial gets underway. We’re closing in on the expected big witnesses – Michael Cohen and Stormy Daniels – but no clear timetable for when to expect their testimony.

Two highlights from Friday’s proceedings:

  • Judge Juan Merchan called Trump out in a way that was especially telling, given Trump’s years of spewing lies and deliberate misstatements. Let me set the stage briefly. After trial Thursday, Trump went before cameras and in response to a reporter’s question declared that Merchan’s gag order was preventing him from testifying at trial. Anyone with a brain knew that wasn’t true, and Trump’s false claim was quickly and widely debunked. But Merchan brought it up in court Friday morning before the jury came in, pointedly telling Trump that the gag order didn’t prevent him from testifying in his own defense and that the choice was Trump’s to make. Bluff called.
  • Hope Hicks’ reluctant testimony against Donald Trump was damaging enough that she broke down in tears after her direct examination.

A gentle reminder that juries are nearly impossible to read during trial and their verdicts are nearly impossible to reliably predict.

Keep Projecting

Trump continues to work furiously to blame Joe Biden for his legal travails, even the state court ones over which Biden doesn’t even have theoretical control. This weekend, Trump let loose in a private meeting: “These people are running a Gestapo administration.”

Big Ooops …

Recently hired RNC lawyer Charlie Spies has already resigned in the face of displeasure from Donald Trump that Spies was previously critical of the 2020 Big Lie charade.

‘Killed Like A Dog’

California man charged with threatening to kill Fani Willis in two separate YouTube live streams.

Keep An Eye On This

WSJ: Biden Races to Trump-Proof His Agenda

Kristi Noem’s Book Tour Is Going Great

Mike Johnson’s Speakership Is Safe For Now

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) is expected to launch her bid this week to oust Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA), but for a variety of reasons – support for Johnson from House Democrats, drama-fatigue among Republicans, and MTG’s own shortcomings – it’s not likely to go anywhere.

Abortion Watch

  • Sen. Mark Kelly (D-AZ) says he would support ditching the filibuster to codify Roe v. Wade.
  • The Alabama Supreme Court denied a request for a rehearing on its ruling that frozen embryos are children under the law.
  • Why abortion bans in Florida and Arizona disproportionately affect the Latina population

‘An American Tragedy’

Esquire: Right-Wing Media and the Death of an Alabama Pastor

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