Some Headlines You Probably Won’t See In Your Sunday Morning Papers

A record $100 billion in withdrawals of Treasury bills is raising speculation that the Kremlin and Russian oligarchs are yanking their money out of the United States to avoid upcoming sanctions over Ukraine.

The massive outflow over the past week came as President Obama and other top US officials repeatedly warned Russia would face a “cost” if it didn’t reverse course in Ukraine.

The total amount of foreign-held US Treasury securities dropped to $2.86 trillion — lowest in more than a year.

Last year, the most moved out in a week was $32 billion.

Analysts said that if the switch was made by Russia, it would represent about 80 percent of that nation’s US Treasury holdings.


  • Money wins Congressional races 91% of the time (Infographic)

In my very brief time on Capitol Hill after college I remember that raising money as soon as a Congressperson was elected was of the absolute highest priority. If one didn’t raise a pile of money early the other party might perceive you as weak and would then dump cash into your next opponent’s campaign.

CLICK HERE FOR A LARGER VERSION

MoneyWinsCongress- c     c


Source: Wall Street Journal

  • Foreign central banks’ Treasury bond holdings parked at the Federal Reserve dropped by the most on record in the latest week. Some analysts think the crisis in Ukraine is sparking the move.

Their theory: Russia is shifting its Treasury bond holdings out of the Fed and into offshore accounts. That way, Russia would be able to buy or sell its portfolio if the U.S. and its European allies impose economic sanctions amid growing geopolitical tensions in Ukraine.

Treasury securities held in custody for foreign official and international accounts tumbled by $105 billion in the week that ended Wednesday, according to weekly data released late Thursday. That shrank Treasury bond holdings by foreign central banks to a 15-month low of $2.855 trillion, though still near a record high of $3.02 trillion set in December.

Did Russia Just Move Its Treasury Holdings Offshore? BN BX585 treasd G 20140314132912

Relations between the West and Russia have deteriorated sharply in recent days as Crimea prepares to hold a referendum Sunday on whether to split from Ukraine and join Russia. Ukraine, the European Union and the U.S. view that vote as illegal. The U.S. and Germany warned that Russia could face economic sanctions if the crisis worsens.


  • FBI Blocked In Harry Reid Corruption Probe

Utah state prosecutors have received accusations of wrongdoing and gathered evidence in a wide-ranging corruption scandal involving Majority Leader Harry Reid and rising Republican Senator Mike Lee. However, as The Washinton Times reports, FBI agents have been thwarted in their efforts to launch a full federal investigation by the Justic Department. “DOJ risks creating the perception of a cover-up,” warned one senior FBI official.

Via The Washington Times,

FBI agents working alongside Utah state prosecutors in a wide-ranging corruption investigationhave uncovered accusations of wrongdoing by two of the U.S. Senate’s most prominent figures — Majority Leader Harry Reid and rising Republican Sen. Mike Lee — but the Justice Department has thwarted their bid to launch a full federal investigation.

The probe, conducted by one Republican and one Democratic state prosecutor in Utah, has received accusations from an indicted businessman and political donor, interviewed other witnesses and gathered preliminary evidence such as financial records, Congressional Record statements and photographs that corroborate some aspects of the accusations, officials have told The Washington Times and ABC News.

But the Justice Department’s public integrity section — which normally handles corruption cases involving elected figures — rejected FBI agents’ bid to use a federal grand jury and subpoenas to determine whether the accusations are true and whether any federal crimes were committed by state and federal officials.

The information involving Mr. Reid and Mr. Lee is not fully developed but centers on two primary issues:

Whether both or either politician sought or received money or other benefits from donors and/or fundraisers in connection with doing political favors or taking official actions.

Whether Mr. Lee provided accurate information when he bought, then sold a Utah home for a big loss to a campaign contributor and federal contractor, leaving his mortgage bank to absorb large losses.

“There are allegations, but they are very serious allegations and they need to be looked at by somebody,” Sim Gill, a Democrat who is the elected chief prosecutor in Salt Lake County, told The Times. “If true, or even if asserted, they truly should be investigated and put to rest, or be confirmed.”

Paging Frank Underwood?

Spokesmen for both senators denied their bosses engaged in any wrongdoing and said the lawmakers were unaware of the investigations.

But the rabbit-hole goes deeper…

The investigative efforts have been further complicated by the fact that Mr. Reid worked to get Mr. Lee’s chief counsel, David Barlow, confirmed in 2011 as the U.S. attorney in Salt Lake City. That action — a Democratic Senate leader letting a Republican be named to a key prosecutor’s position in the Obama administration — raised many eyebrows and angered some Democrats.

Subsequently, the entire office of federal prosecutors in Utah was forced to recuse itself from the corruption case after questions surfaced about a conflict of interest involving one prosecutor and a subject of the probe. After the recusal, state prosecutors secured a court order transferring the federal evidence gathered up to that point to their possession.

However, it appears, the local FBI office got a tap on the shoulder…

People familiar with the probe said both FBI agents and local investigators have been frustrated for months by the Justice Department’s inaction on the initial accusations and evidence against the two senators, and those concerns were recently elevated to FBI headquarters.

The special agent in charge of the Utah office was summoned earlier this month to Washington to meet with senior FBI officials, and the bureau’s Utah office has been instructed that the FBI agents working the case may only assist in the state probe and cannot pursue federal criminal investigative leads — unless Justice finally approves a corruption probe.

“But in this case, DOJ risks creating the perception of a cover-up rather than let agents use the normal tools and follow the evidence wherever it leads — Republican, Democrat, Senate or not,” the senior FBI official said.

Ya think!?

“Based upon what we know today, we were surprised that the DOJ ran away,” he said.


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About George Fisher

George is a freelance writer, an author and a Democratic political consultant. He has worked as Deputy Communications Director for a Senatorial campaign and Campaign Manager for several NC House races and one congressional race. He previously worked as a news producer for a local television station.
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