The Mueller Report

On May 29, 2019 Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel, made his first and perhaps only public comment on the Russia investigation which he headed. The following is a transcript of his remarks, as published by The New York Times. Some of his remarks have been highlighted by me for emphasis.

We can agree or disagree with the manner in which Mr. Mueller presented his findings. The man occupying the Oval Office could either be impeached, re-elected, defeated in 2020, tried in court upon leaving office, or a combination of these options. Ultimately it will be up to the American people to decide the fate of Donald Trump.

Become aware of the findings in The Mueller Report, so you can add your voice to the debate. A version of the report is available online as a searchable document.

Your opinions matter. Congress will not move unless a majority of Americans demand action. Contact your Representative and Senators in Washington, DC.

_________________

ROBERT S. MUELLER III, the special counsel: Good morning, everyone, and thank you for being here. Two years ago, the acting attorney general asked me to serve as special counsel and he created the special counsel’s office. The appointment order directed the office to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. This included investigating any links or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the Trump campaign.

Now, I have not spoken publicly during our investigation. I am speaking out today because our investigation is complete. The attorney general has made the report on our investigation largely public. We are formally closing the special counsel’s office, and as well, I’m resigning from the Department of Justice to return to private life. I’ll make a few remarks about the results of our work. But beyond these few remarks, it is important that the office’s written work speak for itself. Let me begin where the appointment order begins, and that is interference in the 2016 presidential election.

As alleged by the grand jury in an indictment, Russian intelligence officers who are part of the Russian military, launched a concerted attack on our political system. The indictment alleges that they used sophisticated cybertechniques to hack into computers and networks used by the Clinton campaign. They stole private information and then released that information through fake online identities and through the organization WikiLeaks.

The releases were designed and timed to interfere with our election and to damage a presidential candidate. And at the same time, as the grand jury alleged in a separate indictment, a private Russian entity engaged in a social media operation, where Russian citizens posed as Americans in order to influence an election. These indictments contain allegations, and we are not commenting on the guilt or the innocence of any specific defendant. Every defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

The indictments allege, and the other activities in our report describe, efforts to interfere in our political system. They needed to be investigated and understood. And that is among the reasons why the Department of Justice established our office. That is also a reason we investigated efforts to obstruct the investigation. The matters we investigated were of paramount importance. It was critical for us to obtain full and accurate information from every person we questioned. When a subject of an investigation obstructs that investigation or lies to investigators, it strikes at the core of their government’s effort to find the truth and hold wrongdoers accountable.

Let me say a word about the report. The report has two parts, addressing the two main issues we were asked to investigate. The first volume of the report details numerous efforts emanating from Russia to influence the election. This volume includes a discussion of the Trump campaign’s response to this activity, as well as our conclusion that there was insufficient evidence to charge a broader conspiracy. And in the second volume, the report describes the results and analysis of our obstruction of justice investigation involving the president.

The order appointing me special counsel authorized us to investigate actions that could obstruct the investigation. We conducted that investigation, and we kept the office of the acting attorney general apprised of the progress of our work. And as set forth in the report, after that investigation, if we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so. We did not, however, make a determination as to whether the president did commit a crime.

The introduction to the Volume II of our report explains that decision. It explains that under longstanding department policy, a president cannot be charged with a federal crime while he is in office. That is unconstitutional. Even if the charge is kept under seal and hidden from public view, that, too, is prohibited. A special counsel’s office is part of the Department of Justice, and by regulation, it was bound by that department policy. Charging the president with a crime was therefore not an option we could consider. The department’s written opinion explaining the policy makes several important points that further informed our handling of the obstruction investigation. Those points are summarized in our report, and I will describe two of them for you.

First, the opinion explicitly permits the investigation of a sitting president, because it is important to preserve evidence while memories are fresh and documents available. Among other things, that evidence could be used if there were co-conspirators who could be charged now.

And second, the opinion says that the Constitution requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting president of wrongdoing. And beyond department policy, we were guided by principles of fairness. It would be unfair to potentially — it would be unfair to potentially accuse somebody of a crime when there can be no court resolution of the actual charge.

So that was Justice Department policy. Those were the principles under which we operated. And from them, we concluded that we would not reach a determination one way or the other about whether the president committed a crime. That is the office’s final position, and we will not comment on any other conclusions or hypotheticals about the president. We conducted an independent criminal investigation and reported the results to the attorney general, as required by department regulations.

The attorney general then concluded that it was appropriate to provide our report to Congress and to the American people. At one point in time, I requested that certain portions of the report be released and the attorney general preferred to make — preferred to make the entire report public all at once and we appreciate that the attorney general made the report largely public. And I certainly do not question the attorney general’s good faith in that decision.

Now, I hope and expect this to be the only time that I will speak to you in this manner. I am making that decision myself. No one has told me whether I can or should testify or speak further about this matter. There has been discussion about an appearance before Congress. Any testimony from this office would not go beyond our report. It contains our findings and analysis and the reasons for the decisions we made. We chose those words carefully, and the work speaks for itself. And the report is my testimony. I would not provide information beyond that which is already public in any appearance before Congress. In addition, access to our underlying work product is being decided in a process that does not involve our office.

So beyond what I’ve said here today and what is contained in our written work, I do not believe it is appropriate for me to speak further about the investigation or to comment on the actions of the Justice Department or Congress. And it’s for that reason I will not be taking questions today, as well.

Now, before I step away, I want to thank the attorneys, the F.B.I. agents, the analysts, the professional staff who helped us conduct this investigation in a fair and independent manner. These individuals who spent nearly two years with the special counsel’s office were of the highest integrity. And I will close by reiterating the central allegation of our indictments, that there were multiple, systematic efforts to interfere in our election. And that allegation deserves the attention of every American. Thank you. Thank you for being here today.

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The 2020 Candidate Pledge

The following is a re-post of an email recently sent by the Indivisible Team, initially introduced in April. Since then 29,000 grassroots activists have signed on to the pledge. It reads as follows:

We must defeat Donald Trump. The first step is a primary contest that produces a strong Democratic nominee. The second step is winning the general election. We will not accept anything less. To ensure this outcome, I pledge to:

Make the primary constructive. I’ll respect the other candidates and make the primary election about inspiring voters with my vision for the future.

Rally behind the winner. I’ll support the ultimate Democratic nominee, whomever it is — period. No Monday morning quarterbacking. No third-party threats. Immediately after there’s a nominee, I’ll endorse.

Do the work to beat Trump. I will do everything in my power to make the Democratic Nominee the next President of the United States. As soon as there is a nominee, I will put myself at the disposal of the campaign.

Take the pledge. Share it on social media.

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22nd Ward Open Caucus Makes Endorsements For May 21 Democratic Primary Election

The following is a press release issued today by a group that I strongly support in an effort to bring democratic practices to the Democratic Party in Philadelphia.

A group of Democratic committeepeople in Philadelphia’s 22nd Ward met on Thursday May 9th for the purpose of endorsing candidates who will be on the May 21 Democratic primary election ballot. The political association, known as the 22nd Ward Open Caucus, was created earlier this year to promote a more open, accessible, and democratic ward system; to share knowledge among committeepeople; and to increase voter participation.

The caucus issued a written request to all candidates appearing on the ballot asking them to provide brief questionnaire responses and appear at the recent candidates meet and greet at the New Covenant Church in Mt. Airy, and 35 candidates responded. “This response lends legitimacy to our caucus and our efforts to give voice to the elected committeepeople in the 22nd Ward and the people they represent” said acting caucus coordinator, Michael Swayze. “The active members of our caucus represent the divisions of our Ward with a high number of registered voters and some of the highest turnouts of all divisions in the City of Philadelphia. Many of us will canvas our divisions for these endorsed candidates.”

The Open Caucus voted to endorse the following slate:
Mayor: Jim Kenney
Council-at-Large: Erika Almirón, Justin DiBerardinis, Derek Green, Helen Gym
City Commissioner: Jen Devor, Kahlil Williams
Court of Common Pleas: Anthony Kyriakakis, Tiffany Palmer
The candidates were approved with a 60% majority vote requirement of those members present and voting.

This press release is also available to download.

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Philadelphia Campaign Finance Report – Cycle 1

Is the amount a candidate has raised correlate to the chances of winning an election? Perhaps not. Asked differently, would you endorse a candidate who has few dollars in the final weeks of a campaign? Available is a recent analysis I’ve completed of contributions received by candidates and the current cash on hand, as of April 1, 2019. This information is publicly available at Philadelphia’s Office of the City Commissioners website in the Campaign Finance Reports page.

A zero in the right most column (# Pages) indicates the candidate did not file a campaign finance report, according to the Office of City Commissioners. The report deadline was April 9, 2019 and complete as of April 1, 2019.

City Commissioner candidates who reportedly have not filed are: Warren Bloom and Annette Thompson.

There are also a number of Council-at-Large candidates who reportedly did not file, as required. They include: Wayne Allen, Latrice Bryant, Devon Cade, Wayne Dorsey and Edwin Santana. Janice Tangradi dropped out of the race near the filing deadline.

You can download this table in spreadsheet format.

Other public webpages on primary races in Philadelphia include: 2019 Philly Primary Candidates, Philly Power Research’s 24 page 2019 Philly Primary Candidates, 2.0 and 2019 Philadelphia Democratic Primary Endorsements – Citywide Races.

Remember, Primary Election Day in Philadelphia is May 21. Be a voter.

Philadelphia Campaign Finance Report – Cycle 1

Candidate Office $ Contributions $ Cash on Hand # Pages
James Kenney Mayor 651,722 655,692 143
Alan Butkovitz Mayor 62,325 50,972 25
Anthony Hardy Williams Mayor 58,500 49,078 11
Kahlil Williams City Commissioner 127,200 170,406 95
Lisa Deeley City Commissioner 91,950 103,916 56
Omar Sabir City Commissioner 63,864 22,519 19
Luigi Borda City Commissioner 43,176 37,460 30
Jen Devor City Commissioner 33,256 33,586 47
Dennis Lee City Commissioner 25,100 12,918 27
Marwan Kreidie City Commissioner 9,657 5,406 21
Moira Bohannon City Commissioner 2,885 -100 34
Carla Cain City Commissioner 1,500 2,352 4
Lewis Harris City Commissioner 0 500 1
Warren Bloom City Commissioner 0
Annette Thompson City Commissioner 0
Allan Domb Council-at-Large 570,079 176,424 *
Helen Gym Council-at-Large 193,900 410,831 *
Justin DiBerardinis Council-at-Large 134,304 190,805 *
Derek Green Council-at-Large 125,405 190,436 62
Eryn Santamoor Council-at-Large 101,434 192,821 *
Katherine Gilmore Richardson Council-at-Large 66,175 52,333 35
Fernando Trevino Council-at-Large 61,457 29,799 38
Erika Almiron Council-at-Large 58,118 55,307 45
Beth Finn Council-at-Large 54,636 6,483 40
Isaiah Thomas Council-at-Large 51,805 69,236 34
Sandra Dungee Glenn Council-at-Large 51,730 31,733 36
Joseph Diorio Council-at-Large 50,000 50,000 4
Sherrie Cohen Council-at-Large 20,503 36,944 29
Ethelind Baylor Council-at-Large 17,840 7,166 19
Deja Lynn Alvarez Council-at-Large 14,587 3,544 50
Adrian Rivera-Reyes Council-at-Large 14,474 10,751 21
Hena Veit Council-at-Large 6,872 1 25
Billy Thompson Council-at-Large 1,855 1,185 5
Ogbonna Hagins Council-at-Large 1,250 0 2
Fareed Abdullah Council-at-Large 1,147 1,232 7
Asa Khalif Council-at-Large 630 283 6
Mark Ross Council-at-Large 600 -69 1
Vinny Black Council-at-Large 0 1
Bobby Curry Council-at-Large 0 1
Wayne Allen Council-at-Large 0
Latrice Bryant Council-at-Large 0
Devon Cade Council-at-Large 0
Wayne Dorsey Council-at-Large 0
Edwin Santana Council-at-Large 0
Janice Tangradi Council-at-Large 0
Jewell Williams Sheriff 45,450 36,385 27
Rochelle Bilal Sheriff 25,086 4,563 22
Malika Rahman Sheriff 11,330 3,654 14
Larry King, Sr. Sheriff 2,275 3,062 6
Mark Squilla District Council 1 86,065 163,742 18
Lou Lanni District Council 1 2,950 454 7
Kenyatta Johnson District Council 2 95,794 520,778 70
Lauren Vidas District Council 2 65,120 68,451 *
Jamie Gauthier District Council 3 132,159 118,523 *
Jannie Blackwell District Council 3 71,190 52,611 19
Curtis Jones, Jr. District Council 4 108,258 93,429 42
Ronald Adams District Council 4 16,604 13,399 15
Karla Cruel District Council 4 16,430 12,245 21
Jeannette Geter District Council 4 5,791 399 8
Omar Woodard District Council 5 58,994 48,332 25
Darrell Clarke District Council 5 56,550 164,770 18
Bobby Henon District Council 6 68,745 122,431 33
Maria Quinones-Sanchez District Council 7 88,505 160,263 53
Angel Cruz District Council 7 12,450 7,448 18
Tonya Bah District Council 8 26,785 33,341 35
Cindy Bass District Council 8 9,475 5,629 18
Cherelle Parker District Council 9 148,185 122,696 42
S. Archye Leacock District Council 9 500 1,225 6
Judy Moore District Council 10 25,035 8,922 25
Taras Smerechanskyy District Council 10 10,875 3,824 20
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DCAid – New Screening Tool For Housing and Energy Programs

The New Jersey Department of Community Affairs’ (DCA) Division of Housing and Community Resources recently launched “DCAid”, an eligibility screen tool to help consumers find housing-related assistance programs for which they may qualify. In a press release, Lt. Governor and DCA Commissioner Sheila Oliver stated, “the DCAid tool is a quick and simple process that allows people to find out if they are eligible for housing assistance programs, utility assistance, homelessness prevention services, and other programs that will help to improve their quality of life.”

The press release further stated: “The eligibility screening process is a series of questions that takes approximately 1-2 minutes to complete. Users can find out if they are eligible for DCA services that provide assistance with rent, including the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program and the State Rental Assistance Program, heating costs, utility bills, removal of lead hazards in the home, Veterans Affair Supportive Housing (VASH), weatherization assistance, and homelessness prevention programs. The results, based on general income and household information entered, will provide the user with a brief description of eligible programs with contact information for the agency where the user can apply.”

To find out if you are eligible for any of these programs visit the eligibility screening tool,
DCAid.

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2019 Philadelphia Democratic Primary Candidates

The election process works when voters are given information so as to make an informed decision. For this reason a 2019 Philadelphia Democratic Primary Candidates list has been published. The first step is knowing who are the candidates.

The list represents only declared candidates, those who have “thrown their hat into the ring”. The list covers only Democrats because Philadelphia is a Democratic town. Besides, I’m a Democratic Committee Person in the 22nd Ward. Why advertise the names of Republicans? Let the GOP make up their own list.

A new election cycle has started. Although the Primary Election is not until Tuesday, May 21, 2019, the process begins on February 19 when nominating petitions begin circulating. Candidates have a deadline of March 12 to submit their petitions. Then we will we know who are the official candidates.

Voters deserve time to study the candidates. They should not wait until Election Day to be handed a sample ballot by a campaign worker outside a polling location. Ward committees should know who all the candidates are so they can make their candidate picks. Endorsements should not be dictated by party bosses.

The source material for the list of candidates is derived from a number of sources. It includes: press releases from candidates, newspaper articles, social media announcements, even emails to/from newly declared candidates. The listing of local judicial candidates represents the hard work of Micah Mahjoubian and his excellent PhillyJudges.com website.

The list of candidates include the following offices: Mayor, City Commissioner, Register of Wills, Sheriff, Council-at-Large, District Council, Judge of Court of Common Pleas, Judge of Municipal Court, Justice of the Supreme Court, Judge of the Superior Court and Judge of the Commonwealth Court.

Please contact Michael R. Swayze with any additions or corrections to the 2019 Philadelphia Democratic Primary Candidates list.

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EITC, Vita Sites And Free File

The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is a refundable tax credit for families and individuals who have income from employment. It increases the amount refunded to a taxpayer or reduces the amount of tax owed. You must file a tax return to claim your EITC.

Twenty-eight states, including New Jersey, maintain their own state EITC program. New Jersey taxpayers may receive a credit equal to 37% of their federal credit. It is based on their employment earnings, filing status, number of children and adjusted gross income (AGI).

Income Limits and Maximum EITC Credits

Number of Qualifying Children Single/Head of Household or Widow(er), Income Must be Less Than Married Filing Jointly, Income Must be Less Than Maximum Federal Credit Maximum NJ State Credit
No Child $15,270 $20,950 $519 $192
One Child $40,320 $46,010 $3,461 $1,281
Two Children $45,802 $51,492 $5,716 $2,115
Three or More Children $49,194 $54,884 $6,431 $2,380

Free assistance to prepare and file your federal and state income tax returns are available from a number of organizations and programs, including a United Way listing of New Jersey VITA Sites. You can also access the IRS VITA Site Locator Tool. Free, easy to use online software is available to taxpayers with an Adjusted Gross Income of $66,000 or less through the Free File program.

The EITC Assistant is an online tool to help determine if a family may qualify for EITC by answering a number of questions. The IRS also publishes a one page fact sheet, IRS Notice 797 and a forty page booklet on EITC, IRS Publication 596.

Employers, have you told your employees about the Earned Income Tax Credit? If not, distribute copies of IRS Notice 1015. The New Jersey Division of Taxation also publishes a Statement to Employees with helpful links and phone numbers.

Nonprofits, advocacy groups and government agencies can participate in outreach efforts by distributing the Division of Family Development’s NJ 2018 EITC Flyer which is included on their EITC page. Groups interested in conducting an outreach campaign or promoting EITC on social media should subscribe to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities’ Get It Back Campaign.

Another option is to download IRS2Go, the official IRS mobile app. You can use it to check the status of your tax refund or find free tax prepartion services, etc.

Philadelphia Area and South Jersey residents can find free tax site locations by visiting the
Campaign for Working Families website.

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