Law on audio and video recordings

The Todd Barclay saga, in which the Police decided not to prosecute Barclay for making audio recordings of an employee in his electorate office in Gore (the Police are currently reviewing that decision) has raised the issue of what can and can’t be legally recorded.

Video recordings are legal:

Surveillance video is common in public and in work places.

The Privacy Commission website states that it is “usually unfair to record someone without telling them”.

Can I record someone without telling them?

Whether making an audio or visual recording of someone without telling them will breach the Privacy Act will depend on the circumstances in each case. In particular, it will depend on who is making the recording and why they are making it.

If you are an individual and you are making a recording in relation to you own personal, domestic or household affairs (for instance you’re recording a personal conversation with a friend), there is an exception which says that, generally, the Privacy Act won’t apply to what you do.

However, if you collect, use or disclose personal information in a way which would be highly offensive to a reasonable person, this exception will not apply. In other words, someone could make a complaint about you.

If you are making the recording for any reason, other than your own domestic, personal or household affairs, the general rules about collection of personal information will apply. In particular, it’s usually unfair to record someone without telling them.

You should also keep in mind that there may be other laws which apply apart from the Privacy Act – for instance, recording a private conversation that you’re not involved in will often be a crime.

That seems to be what Barclay was investigated for.

On usually unfair to record someone without telling them:

Can an agency make a video or audio recording of me without telling me?

Generally speaking, an agency must tell you if it is collecting your personal information.

However, there are some cases where an agency could collect your information without telling you. For instance, it might not have to tell you it was collecting your information if this would undermine the agency’s purpose for collecting the information in the first place, or if it would endanger the safety of any individual.

If you believe an agency has collected your information without telling you, we suggest that you contact the agency and ask to speak to their privacy officer to see if you can resolve any concerns you have about this directly.

If you’re not able to resolve your concerns, and you believe you have suffered some sort of harm as a result of the collection of your information, you can make a complaint to us.

Or make a complaint to the Police, as Glenys Dickson did in the Barclay case.

Andrew Geddis comments on this in It’s not the crime, it’s the coverup

…it’s not an offence to record yourself in conversation with others, even if they don’t know you are doing so. Nor is it an offence to record other people without their knowledge if they are not engaged in a “private communication”.

But the allegation against Barclay is that he left a dictaphone running when he wasn’t in his office so as to record what Dickson was saying in conversations with constituents.

Also in Police take another look at Barclay secret recording investigation

Geddis said the alleged breach in law on which Barclay was investigated needed to tick three boxes to be proved.

The first was there needed to be a recording with an “interception device”, as the law phrased. In this case, he said, the “device” was alleged to be a dictaphone.

Then it needed to be proved it was a private conversation – in this case, said to be the electorate office where Dickson worked.

The third element was proving that the recording was made intentionally, he said.

“If you could prove all three elements, the offence carries a jailable offence of up to two years.”

Conviction to the two-year point is the trigger which forces MPs to resign from Parliament.

Steven Price at Media Law Journal (in reference to the Bradley Ambrose case):

It’s a crime to intentionally intercept a private communication using an interception device. A private communication is one that is made under circumstances that may reasonably taken to indicate that any party to it desires it remain private, but:

does not include such a communication occurring in circumstances in which any party ought reasonably to expect that the communication may be intercepted by some other person not having the express or implied consent of any party to do so.

Although a battalion of journalists were about a metre away behind a window, let’s assume that Key and Banks couldn’t reasonably expect it to be overheard, and that the circumstances indicate that both desired their conversation to remain private.

In an electorate office if the conversation was in an open office where others were present and could hear it then it may not be private. But if Dickson was the only person present then it could be private.

The only issue, then, is whether the interception was intentional. On the paper’s account, it was inadvertent. In fact, it says, the cameraman tried to retrieve his recorder before the conversation but was stopped by Key’s security folk, and didn’t know that the recording was even happening. Now, I don’t know anything more than has been reported. But I wonder whether there is room for doubt about whether the cameraman genuinely didn’t know that the conversation was being recorded.

If it could be established that he did know, then he has committed an offence.

Bill English has said (in the now public police statement) “I had a conversation with him regarding Glenys Dickson leaving his office and he said to me that he had recordings of her criticising him”.

Barclay has said “I have read and Mr English’s statement to the police and accept it.”

“Recordings” is plural. It could be difficult claiming that more than one recording was accidental.

We will find out next week what the Police decide to do and whether they re-open the case or not.

Profound US political crisis

Charles Lipson writes at RealClear Politics about the political and legal problems in the US in Why America’s Political Crisis Is So Profound (this post follows on from Each political side sincerely believes).

If both sides trusted the government’s standard procedures to investigate and prosecute crimes, these disputes could be sorted out in the normal way.

Alas, nobody does.

Republicans considered Attorneys General Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch little more than Democratic Party lapdogs trained to ignore misconduct by Obama’s White House and Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

Democrats managed to get the current AG, Jeff Sessions, to recuse himself from the department’s biggest case.

Everything James Comey said in 2016 and 2017, when he headed the FBI, was refracted through a partisan lens.

As a consequence, the reputations of Congress, the FBI, and the Department of Justice lie in ruins.

Along with the reputations of the republican and Democrat parties.

How serious do professionals think the crisis is? The best indicator is the unprecedented scale of leaking, especially of highly secret information. My conclusion: Many professionals in the intelligence community and the Justice Department—and perhaps some inside the Trump administration itself—believe that this president is doing things that endanger the country.

They are not leaking for the usual reason—to favor their policy. They are leaking as a patriotic duty.

I’m sure some of the leaking is for purely political and power broking purposes, and some will be out of spite, but that’s business as usual and the degree and type of leaks currently happening go much further than normal, so could well be out of a genuine belief in having a patriotic duty to do so. The consequences are significant, both for the US and for the individual leakers if they are prosecuted.

On the other side, Trump’s people think a “deep state” is pushing back, trying to destroy an outsider who came to Washington to change things. What they see is an unconstitutional effort to drive a duly-elected president out of office. These entrenched interests are essentially committed to pulling off a coup d’état.

Some will genuinely believe in a “deep state” conspiracy.I think things are much more complex.

In this dark tangle, there are two bright spots. One is the bipartisan collaboration between Sens. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.), who are leading the Senate investigation into Russian interference. If they can ultimately produce a report signed by both sides, they will go a long way to restoring confidence in government.

I’m not sure about this. Beliefs are so entrenched that it’s hard to see any outcome satisfying everyone and settling the rancour and restoring some confidence – confidence in the White House, Senate and Congress may be irreparably damaged.

The other is Robert Mueller’s appointment as a special counsel for the Justice Department. The former head of the FBI is an experienced, non-partisan investigator. Although his record handling high-profile investigations is hardly flawless, his integrity is unquestioned by either side. However, as many observed, there are cautionary examples indicating how easy it is for special prosecutors to overreach. The investigations last too long, go off on tangents, or reach for an easy trophy to display.

Mueller knows those dangers and, hopefully, can avoid them. He is not only a true, independent professional, he’s the only person with the stature to actually clear the president and his closest aides if they are innocent. It is crucial he move quickly, despite the complexity of the case, because the charges themselves are paralyzing Washington.

Mueller may be seen as genuinely non-partisan, but any outcome of the investigation he leads is unlikely to satisfy everyone. Partisans are likely to see a problem with any non-favourable outcome.

And after the investigation Donald Trump will almost certainly still be president. Unless there is a profound change in how he and his administration conducts itself, and unless there is a profound change in the degree and size of the partisan, I think the profound crisis in America will continue.

Dotcom offers evidence to US investigation

Kim Dotcom has offered evidence ti the Special Counsel investigating interference in the US presidential election last year and has volunteered to give it in person, providing he is guaranteed safe passage into and out of the US.


Kim Dotcom Approaches Special Counsel

KIM DOTCOM APPROACHES SPECIAL COUNSEL INVESTIGATING INTERFERENCE WITH THE 2016 UNITED STATES PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION REGARDING EVIDENCE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
30 May 2017

In accordance with his previous statement on this matter, Kim Dotcom’s solicitors in New Zealand have today sent the following letter to Robert Mueller, Special Counsel appointed to investigate interference with the 2016 United States presidential election and related matters:

30 May 2017

Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

Attention: Robert Mueller, Special Counsel

Dear Sir

INVESTIGATION INTO INTERFERENCE WITH THE 2016 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION AND RELATED MATTERS

1. We act for Kim Dotcom in New Zealand.

2. We are writing to you in your capacity as special counsel appointed to carry out the above investigation pursuant to Order 3915-2017 (Investigation).

3. Mr Dotcom has evidence that he considers relevant to the Investigation. The purpose of this letter is to confirm that, subject to appropriate arrangements being made and his constitutional rights being preserved, Mr Dotcom is willing to provide this evidence to the Investigation. He has instructed us to make this approach to initiate the necessary dialogue as to the required arrangements.

4. As you may be aware, Mr Dotcom resides in New Zealand. Since 2012, the United States has been seeking his extradition to face a criminal prosecution arising from his involvement in the Megaupload group of companies. Presently, Mr Dotcom is on bail while he exercises (as he is entitled to) his rights under New Zealand law to resist extradition. Mr Dotcom emphatically denies the alleged offending and is committed to defending the allegations in the extradition proceeding in New Zealand.

5. Mr Dotcom is also committed to achieving an outcome where his evidence can be properly received and reviewed by you as part of the Investigation. You will, however, appreciate that, given his current status, he is not in a position to voluntarily leave New Zealand’s jurisdiction. Further, he is concerned that, should he travel to the United States voluntarily, he would be arrested and detained in custody on the current counts on which he has been indicted.

6. Accordingly, for Mr Dotcom to attend in person in the United States to make a statement, and/or give oral evidence at any subsequent hearing, special arrangements would need to be discussed and agreed between all relevant parties. Such arrangements would need to include arrangements for his safe passage from New Zealand and return. This is because Mr Dotcom is determined to clear his name in New Zealand.

7. Mr Dotcom invites the Department of Justice to contact him through counsel to progress the taking of his evidence once you have had an opportunity to consider this letter and are in a position to discuss the required process and appropriate safeguards.

8. We look forward to hearing from you. If you have any questions, or require any further information, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Yours faithfully
ANDERSON CREAGH LAI LIMITED
Phil Creagh
Director

http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO1705/S00469/kim-dotcom-approaches-special-counsel.htm


There are other simpler options.

He could send his evidence.

A representative of the investigation could come to New Zealand to see Dotcom.

Or a representative of the US already in New Zealand could receive the evidence from Dotcom and pass it on.

It’s hard to know whether Dotcom genuinely has information that will help the inquiry, or if he is grandstanding, or if he is playing games with the US.

It’s possible that he wants to meet with people in the US to discuss his own extradition case to try and deal with that.

Regardless, one could easily be suspicious of his motivation – why would he want to help the investigation?

Would Dotcom be prepared to give the US evidence of everything he knows about hacking or otherwise obtaining information and what WikiLeaks does with it and why?

 

73% want US election inquiry v Russia

A clear majority of Americans want an independent, non-partisan commission instead of Congress to investigate Russia’s involvement in the 2016 election, according to the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.

NBC News: 73% Back Independent Probe of Russian Election Interference

Seventy-three percent of respondents prefer the independent investigation, versus 16 percent who pick Congress.

Still, a majority of Americans — 54 percent — believe that Congress should investigate whether there was contact between the Russian government and the Trump campaign, which is essentially unchanged from February’s NBC/WSJ poll.

That’s clear majorities for all but Republicans.

The NBC/WSJ poll was conducted April 17-20 of 900 adults, including more than 400 who were reached via cell phone. The poll has an overall margin of error of plus-minus 3.3 percentage points.

More depth to ‘Hit & Run’ reports now

Some pundits and journalists were excitedly demanding immediate action after a quick look at Nicky Hager’s and Jon Stephenson’s ‘Hit & Run’, launched on Tuesday evening.

There are far better reports coming out now that people interested in looking at the issue in more depth are publishing their views.

More investigation from David Fisher: Exclusive interview: NZSAS says civilians were killed in fatal raid, including two by Kiwi sniper fire

What he has found out supports some of the book’s claims but disagrees with some, in particular the claim that it was a revenge raid.

But the soldier’s account also conflicted with claims in the book that the NZSAS were motivated by “revenge” over the death of O’Donnell.

He said the NZSAS soldiers would have been “angry” over the death but “revenge” had no part to play in how they did their jobs.

The soldier said: “SAS boys are a different breed. Everything is a lot more calculated.”

Rather than “revenge”, the Herald was told by the former Governor of the neighbouring province, the raid was to target insurgents who threatened the New Zealand base at Bamyan, about 50km away.

So those who claim that Hager never gets anything wrong may want to reassess that view.

Toby Manhire: Books damning claims demand inquiry

Hager and his co-author, Jon Stephenson, have stressed both these points.

The then prime minister did sign off the raid, which apparently killed six civilians and injured at least 15 more, but there is no claim that he masterminded any coverup.

“I suspect we know far more about what happened than John Key was told,” said Hager.

Some of the conclusion jumpers commenting at The Standard have missed that bit.

Hit and Run is an important book. Whether you admire or viscerally loathe its authors is immaterial to the evidence it documents.

Not all of the allegations are new, but the depth of research and detail are compelling.

Any journalism that heavily depends on unnamed sources should, of course, be subject to scrutiny, even if, as here, they are numerous and corroborated.

Critically, many of the sources would be willing to speak to an appropriate, independent investigation, says Stephenson.

For their sake, for the sake of the NZ Defence Force, whether to censure or vindicate, for the sake of the government, for the sake of respecting international law, for the sake of the dead, and in the public interest, that investigation needs to happen.

Not to do so for fear of creating difficulty for our military bosses or politicians or, even, the Americans, would be wrong.

“We’re not going to be rushed into an inquiry,” was an early response from the prime minister, and that is fair enough, but the case is now urgent and overwhelming.

I prefer time is spent doing things properly rather than jumping to the demands of journalists and activists.

Peter Dunne joins Labour, Greens and NZ First in asking for an inquiry.

Afghanistan Inquiry Now Inevitable – Dunne

UnitedFuture leader Hon Peter Dunne says an inquiry into allegations New Zealand SAS forces were involved in an incident that led to civilian deaths in Afghanistan now seems inevitable.

“In the wake of the comments in the Hagar book ‘Hit and Run’ there has been a rising fog of confusion, about what may or may not have happened.

“Recollections now seem to vary sharply, and I think it is inevitable some form of inquiry will be necessary to clarify and resolve these.

“New Zealanders are rightly proud of the reputation of our SAS and Armed Forces generally, and do not wish to see that diminished, so they deserve open reassurance that our forces have not behaved inappropriately.

“The current saga of claim and counter-claim will not provide that, therefore some form of independent inquiry is appropriate,” Mr Dunne says.

Some meaningful response from the Government seems inevitable, bit according to Legal Beagle Graeme Edgeler it should be an investigation instead. It’s worth reading his whole detailed post – A war crimes inquiry; or why Nicky Hager is wrong.

He concludes:

There is nothing to stop the Government starting an inquiry. There will be some aspects of what has happened that will be able to inquired into without risking prejudice to a Police investigation, but, as is generally the case with coronial inquests, we will need to recognise that not every question of importance can be answered while questions of whether there will be criminal charges remain unanswered.

In New Zealand, such investigations are a matter for the Police, and decisions over whether to prosecute (in the High Court) are ultimately for the Solicitor-General or Crown Prosecutors. Alternatively, allegations against soldiers may be a matter for the Military Police, leading the possibility of trial at a Court Martial. Neither will have much experience investigating war crimes. In the circumstances, I think the Police are better placed in the case.

There are sometimes reasons to prefer a Court Martial. For example, if the result of the investigation is that there is insufficient evidence to file war crimes charges, but that charges under the Armed Forces Discipline Act for failure to comply with the rules of engagement could be laid against some involved, this could only be done at a Court Martial. However, that is not possible here. There is a time limit for such charges to be brought to Court Martial, and it has well passed. A Police investigation would likely involve assistance from Military Police, and Crown Lawyers in any event.

Nicky Hager and Jon Stephenson have authored a book alleging war crimes; they’re not necessarily certain who, but the describe events that could amount to war crimes committed by New Zealanders. This has consequences.

When confronted with allegations of war crimes, New Zealand is obliged not just to find out what happened, but to investigate, and if appropriate, prosecute. But it would be wrong to pursue an inquiry that may prejudice the rights of those now under suspicion of committing war crimes. Commissions of inquiry do not investigate crimes. This is the job of the Police.

Where Police fail to investigate an alleged war crime, New Zealand has agreed, with the approval of Parliament, that the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court can step in instead. We should not let that happen.

Trump’s ‘voter fraud’ ego-obsession

Donald Trump’s claims of massive voter fraud are unsupported by evidence and debunked by experts. Some of his claims are plain ridiculous, not just the numbers (the millions claim happens to be about the size of Hillary Clinton’s overall vote majority over Trump)  but also that all fraudulent votes were for Clinton.

So far there have been four prosecutions for voter fraud, and two of them voted Republican.

From Trump’s interview on ABC with David Muir trump continued with his claims:

DAVID MUIR: I wanna ask you about something you said this week right here at the White House. You brought in congressional leaders to the White House. You spoke at length about the presidential election with them — telling them that you lost the popular vote because of millions of illegal votes, 3 to 5 million illegal votes. That would be the biggest electoral fraud in American history. Where is the evidence of that?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: So, let me tell you first of all, it was so misrepresented. That was supposed to be a confidential meeting. And you weren’t supposed to go out and talk to the press as soon as you — but the Democrats viewed it not as a confidential meeting.

DAVID MUIR: But you have tweeted …about the millions of illegals …

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Sure. And I do — and I’m very … and I mean it. But just so you — it was supposed to be a confidential meeting. They turned it into not a con … Number two, the conversation lasted for about a minute. They made it — somebody said it was, like, 25 percent of the … It wasn’t. It was hardly even discussed.

I said it. And I said it strongly because what’s going on with voter fraud is horrible. That’s number one. Number two, I would’ve won the popular vote if I was campaigning for the popular vote. I would’ve gone to California where I didn’t go at all. I would’ve gone to New York where I didn’t campaign at all.

I would’ve gone to a couple of places that I didn’t go to.

But Clinton wasn’t campaigning for the popular vote either. She was concentrating on the crucial swing states, like Trump.

And I would’ve won that much easier than winning the electoral college.

Typically brash over-confidence.

But as you know, the electoral college is all that matters. It doesn’t make any difference.

So why his obsession with the popular vote then? As is common, his words and actions are contradictory.

So, I would’ve won very, very easily. But it’s a different form of winning. You would campaign much differently. You would have a totally different campaign. So, but … you’re just asking a question. I would’ve easily won the popular vote, much easier, in my opinion, than winning the electoral college. I ended up going to 19 different states. I went to the state of Maine four times for one. I needed one.

I went to M — I got it, by the way. But it turned out I didn’t need it because we ended up winning by a massive amount, 306. I needed 270. We got 306. You and everybody said, “There’s no way you get to 270.” I mean, your network said and almost everybody said, “There’s no way you can get to …” So, I went to Maine four times. I went to various places. And that’s the beauty of the electoral college.

He didn’t win by a ‘massive amount’ – in fact he won based on a few thousand votes in each of a few key states. Winning electoral margins in the last ten elections:

  • 2016 Trump 306-232
  • 2012 Obama 332-206
  • 2008 Obama 365-173
  • 2004 GW Bush 286-251
  • 2000 GW Bush 271-266
  • 1996 Bill Clinton 379-159
  • 1992 Bill Clinton 370-168
  • 1988 G Bush 426-111
  • 1984 Reagan 525-13
  • 1980 Reagan 489-49

Being registered in more than one state is not illegal, it’s common. Many people don’t realise they didn’t de-register from one state when moving and registering in another.

It’s only illegal if they vote on more than one state, and there’s no evidence of that.

With that being said, if you look at voter registration, you look at the dead people that are registered to vote who vote, you look at people that are registered in two states, you look at all of these different things that are happening with registration. You take a look at those registration for — you’re gonna s — find — and we’re gonna do an investigation on it.

Media have already been investigating, and have found that these people are registered in two states:

  • Tiffany Trump (Trump’s youngest daughter)
  • Jared Kushner (Trump’s son-in-law)
  • Sean Spicer (White House press secretary)
  • Steven Mnuchin (Treasury Secretary nominee)
  • Stephen Barron (chief White House strategist)

So much for Barron being a genius strategist. Perhaps he has no control over Trump’s egocentric excesses.

DAVID MUIR: But 3 to 5 million illegal votes?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Well, we’re gonna find out. But it could very well be that much. Absolutely.

DAVID MUIR: But …

PRESIDENT TRUMP: But we’re gonna find out.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: In fact, I heard one of the other side, they were saying it’s not 3 to 5. It’s not 3 to 5. I said, “Well, Mr. Trump is talking about registration, tell–” He said, “You know we don’t wanna talk about registration.” They don’t wanna talk about registration.

You have people that are registered who are dead, who are illegals, who are in two states. You have people registered in two states. They’re registered in a New York and a New Jersey. They vote twice. There are millions of votes, in my opinion. Now …

Kushner is registered in both New Jersey and New York, as is Tiffany Trump.

DAVID MUIR: But again …

PRESIDENT TRUMP: I’m doing an …PRESIDENT TRUMP: … investigation. David, David, David …

DAVID MUIR: You’re now, you’re now president of the United States when you say …

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Of course, and I want the voting process to be legitimate.

DAVID MUIR: But what I’m asking …

PRESIDENT TRUMP: The people that …

DAVID MUIR: … what I’m asking that — when you say in your opinion millions of illegal votes, that is something that is extremely fundamental to our functioning democracy, a fair and free election.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Sure. Sure. Sure.

DAVID MUIR: You say you’re gonna launch an investigation.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Sure, done.

It was thought that an investigation would be officially announced yesterday but that didn’t happen.

NZ Daily News: Vice President Mike Pence told members of Congress that the Trump administration will launch a “full evaluation” of U.S. voting rolls and “the overall integrity of our voting system,” according to a leaked audio recording.

DAVID MUIR: What you have presented so far has been debunked. It’s been called …false.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: No, it hasn’t. Take a look at the Pew reports.

DAVID MUIR: I called the author of the Pew report last night. And he told me that they found no evidence of voter … fraud.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Really? Then why did he write the report?

DAVID MUIR: He said no evidence of voter fraud.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Excuse me, then why did he write the report? According to Pew report, then he’s — then he’s groveling again. You know, I always talk about the reporters that grovel when they wanna write something that you wanna hear but not necessarily millions of people wanna hear or have to hear.

Bizarre, but typically so.

DAVID MUIR: So, you’ve launched an investigation?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: We’re gonna launch an investigation to find out. And then the next time — and I will say this, of those votes cast, none of ’em come to me. None of ’em come to me. They would all be for the other side. None of ’em come to me. But when you look at the people that are registered: dead, illegal and two states and some cases maybe three states — we have a lot to look into.

DAVID MUIR: House Speaker Paul Ryan has said, “I have seen no evidence. I have made this very, very clear.” Senator Lindsey Graham saying, “It’s the most inappropriate thing for a president to say without proof. He seems obsessed with the idea that he could not have possibly lost the popular vote without cheating and fraud.”

I wanna ask you about something bigger here. Does it matter more now …

PRESIDENT TRUMP: There’s nothing bigger. There’s nothing bigger.

Bigger to him perhaps, but I doubt that most voters care – especially those who voted for him, successfully.

DAVID MUIR: But it is important because …

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Let me just tell you, you know what’s important, millions of people agree with me when I say that if you would’ve looked on one of the other networks and all of the people that were calling in they’re saying, “We agree with Mr. Trump. We agree.” They’re very smart people.

Claiming that millions of people agree with him on this, without any proof of course.

The people that voted for me — lots of people are saying they saw things happen. I heard stories also. But you’re not talking about millions. But it’s a small little segment. I will tell you, it’s a good thing that we’re doing because at the end we’re gonna have an idea as to what’s going on. Now, you’re telling me Pew report has all of a sudden changed. But you have other reports and you have other statements. You take a look at the registrations, how many dead people are there? Take a look at the registrations as to the other things that I already presented.

He has presented little other than nonsense.

Dead people tend to not de-register themselves. They also tend not to vote.

DAVID MUIR: And you’re saying …

PRESIDENT TRUMP: And you’re gonna find …

DAVID MUIR: … those people who are on the rolls voted, that there are millions of illegal votes?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: I didn’t say there are millions. But I think there could very well be millions of people. That’s right.

He contradicts himself, he denied and then he agreed.

DAVID MUIR: You tweeted though …

PRESIDENT TRUMP: And I also say this …

DAVID MUIR: … you tweeted, “If you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally, I won the popular vote.”

PRESIDENT TRUMP: David, and I also say this, if I was going for the popular vote I would’ve won easily. But I would’ve been in California and New York. I wouldn’t have been in Maine. I wouldn’t have been in Iowa. I wouldn’t have been in Nebraska and all of those states that I had to win in order to win this. I would’ve been in New York, I would’ve been in California. I never even went there.

If the election was for popular vote both trump and Clinton would have campaigned much differently, and voters would have thought differently. It’s impossible to predict what the outcome could have been.

DAVID MUIR: Let me just ask you, you did win. You’re the president. You’re sitting …

PRESIDENT TRUMP: That’s true.

DAVID MUIR: … across from me right now.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: That’s true.

DAVID MUIR: Do you think that your words matter more now?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Yes, very much.

DAVID MUIR: Do you think that that talking about millions of illegal votes is dangerous to this country without presenting the evidence?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: No, not at all. Not at all because many people feel the same way that I do. And …

So as long as he thinks many people agree with him it doesn’t matter if he talks unsubstantiated crap?

DAVID MUIR: You don’t think it undermines your credibility if there’s no evidence?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: No, not at all because they didn’t come to me. Believe me. Those were Hillary votes. And if you look at it they all voted for Hillary. They all voted for Hillary. They didn’t vote for me. I don’t believe I got one. Okay, these are people that voted for Hillary Clinton. And if they didn’t vote, it would’ve been different in the popular.

He is claiming millions of fraudulent voters all voted for Hillary.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Now, you have to understand I — I focused on those four or five states that I had to win. Maybe she didn’t. She should’ve gone to Michigan. She thought she had it in the bag. She should’ve gone to Wisconsin, she thought she had it because you’re talking about 38 years of, you know, Democrat wins. But they didn’t. I went to Michigan, I went to Wisconsin. I went to Pennsylvania all the time. I went to all of the states that are — Florida and North Carolina. That’s all I focused on.

He is right here, the Clinton campaign did stuff up on Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, but I think she tried hard in Florida and North Carolina.

DAVID MUIR: Mr. President, it does strike me though that we’re relitigating the presidential campaign, the election …

PRESIDENT TRUMP: No, no. We’re looking at it for the next time. No, no, you have to understand, I had a tremendous victory, one of the great victories ever. In terms of counties I think the most ever or just about the most ever. When you look at a map it’s all red. Red meaning us, Republicans.

One of the greatest victories ever.

The greatest victory ever for Trump. Otherwise the voting margins were nothing spectacular.

But, again, I ran for the electoral college. I didn’t run for the popular vote. What I’m saying is if there are these problems that many people agree with me that there might be. Look, Barack Obama — if you look back — eight years ago when he first ran — he was running for office in Chicago for we needed Chicago vote.

And he was laughing at the system because he knew all of those votes were going to him. You look at Philadelphia, you look at what’s going on in Philadelphia. But take a look at the tape of Barack Obama who wrote me, by the way, a very beautiful letter in the drawer of the desk. Very beautiful. And I appreciate it. But look at what he said, it’s on tape. Look at what he said about voting in Chicago eight years ago. It’s not changed. It hasn’t changed, believe me. Chicago, look what’s going on in Chicago. It’s only gotten worse.

But he was smiling and laughing about the vote in Chicago. Now, once he became president he didn’t do that. All of a sudden it became this is the foundation of our country. So, here’s the point, you have a lot of stuff going on possibly. I say probably. But possibly. We’re gonna get to the bottom of it.

And then we’re gonna make sure it doesn’t happen again. If people are registered wrongly, if illegals are registered to vote, which they are, if dead people are registered to vote and voting, which they do. There are some. I don’t know how many.

I can guess how many dead people voted.

We’re gonna try finding that out and the other categories that we talk about, double states where they’re — registered in two states, we’re gonna get to the bottom of it because we have to stop it. Because I agree, so important. But the other side is trying to downplay this. Now, I’ll say this — I think that if that didn’t happen, first of all, would — would be a great thing if it didn’t happen. But I believe it did happen. And I believe a part of the vote would’ve been much different.

He claimed it was important to investigate to make sure it doesn’t happen again, but then swung back to his main focus, “a part of the vote would’ve been much different”.

DAVID MUIR: And you believe millions of illegal votes …

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Well, we’re gonna find out.

DAVID MUIR: Let me ask you this …

PRESIDENT TRUMP: We’re gonna find out. And — and, by the way, when I say you’re gonna find out. You can never really find, you know, there are gonna be — no matter what numbers we come up with there are gonna be lots of people that did things that we’re not going to find out about. But we will find out because we need a better system where that can’t happen.

So he is going to find out what “you can never really find out about”.

In doing so he is taking a risk. If he does launch an investigation and it doesn’t back up his claims then his ego and credibility will take hits.

His bizarre and contradictory claims about voter fraud are damaging his credibility already.

Trump’s ego-obsession is proving to be a major distraction, and none of his advisers seem to be able to stop him.

 

Trump calls for voter fraud investigation

President Donald Trump has responded to strong criticism and rebuttal of his claims of massive levels of voter fraud by calling for “major investigation” into voter fraud.

There is no solid evidence to back up his claims. This appears to be a massive ego exercise, with Trump seemingly determined to prove he deserved to win the popular vote in the presidential election. The actual vote count:

  • Hillary Clinton 65,844,954 (48.2%)
  • Donald Trump 62,979,879 (46.1%)

Yesterday the New York Times reported: Spicer confirms from podium that yes, Trump believes millions voted illegally

Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, confirmed on Tuesday that President Trump has long believed that millions of undocumented immigrants voted illegally in the 2016 election.

“He said 3 to 5 million people could have voted illegally, based on the studies that he’s seen,” Mr. Spicer told stunned reporters, acknowledging a statement that Mr. Trump made privately in a meeting with congressional leaders on Monday afternoon.

Mr. Trump and his aides repeatedly suggested during the transition period that “irregularities” contributed to his popular-vote loss by nearly 3 million ballots to Hillary Clinton. Mr. Trump won the Electoral College, but his 2-percentage-point popular vote loss to Mrs. Clinton was the largest for a winning presidential candidate since the disputed election of 1876.

Democrats and some Republicans have pointed to that margin to claim that Mr. Trump is an illegitimate president. Such assertions have rankled Mr. Trump deeply.

Trump clearly won the election via the US Electoral College system, but that’s not enough for him, he seems obsessed with ratings and overall voting levels.

A November 2016 blog post on Infowars, the conspiracy theory-focused website run by radio host Alex Jones, posited the idea that roughly 3 million people voted illegally. Mr. Jones has hosted Mr. Trump on his radio show in the past.

The assertion was based on tweets from a self-proclaimed voter expert, who claimed to have a study. However, there’s no evidence of the study. And officials in swing states where Mr. Trump secured victory, many of which are governed by Republicans, say that there is no evidence of such fraud.

Mr. Spicer also made vague reference to another Pew Research Center study that supposedly backed up Mr. Trump, but the author of the study in question, David Becker, now executive director of the Center for Election Innovation and Research, tweeted again that no such fraud happened.

The voter fraud claims are false or at least unsubstantiated claims – some could call it fake news.

When a reporter pointed out to Mr. Spicer that such widespread fraud would be one of the biggest scandals in American electoral history and asked why the administration isn’t investigating, the press secretary said, “Maybe we will.”

It looks like they will investigate. Politico reports: Trump calls for ‘major investigation’ into alleged voter fraud

President Donald Trump said Wednesday that he will call for a “major investigation” into voter fraud, which he believes led to millions of illegally cast ballots in last year’s presidential election despite no evidence to support that conclusion.

“I will be asking for a major investigation into VOTER FRAUD, including those registered to vote in two states, those who are illegal and even, those registered to vote who are dead (and many for a long time). Depending on results, we will strengthen up voting procedures!” Trump wrote on Twitter Wednesday morning, breaking his message up into multiple posts.

The claims are backed by nothing or no one credible.

In a statement released Tuesday, the National Association of Secretaries of State said “we are not aware of any evidence that supports the voter fraud claims made by President Trump, but we are open to learning more about the administration’s concerns.”

Voting systems are run by US states, many of them under Republican administrations.

So this looks like little more than another exercise in narcissist behaviour by Trump – albeit a potentially expensive one.

And what if a major investigation doesn’t find 3 million fraudulent votes?

An investigation is a big risk for Trump – if it doesn’t substantiate his claims it will not only highlight false claims but it will also put more spotlight on him having trailed Clinton substantially in the popular vote.

This seems to be a no [-win situation for Trump. He has already won the election.  And the risks are far greater than the outside chance he can prove he was the most popular candidate.

The Nippert tax investigations

Media is widely criticised for it’s shallowness, it’s obsession with trivia, and it’s lack of investigative reporting.

Last year Matt Nippert showed that there is still some old school investigation going on. He has detailed his series on articles on tax last year – 19 articles at NZ Herald on the topic were published through the year, in what he calls “a deliberate effort to dig into the opaque world of corporate tax avoidance and the growing Tax Gap.”

Not the most popular of topics, but far more important than much of the news we are now dished up.

The series started with package on the front page of the Herald on March 18. This included:

A pre-planned series of stories followed, including

Nippert then looked at government policy on the issue, including

Some further drilling down:

Nippert: “Throughout all this, the opinions of the public and policy-maker and even the business community appeared to shift.”

And finally “late in the year, the government finally reacted”:

In a year that the Herald was heavily criticised for it’s click-bait headlines and increasing reliance trivia we should acknowledge that they retain a commitment to some in depth investigative reporting, albeit with reducing resources.

Source: http://bigapplebites.blogspot.co.nz/2016/12/the-nippert-tax-omnibus.html

NZH bio on Nippert:

A Fulbright scholar with a masters from the Columbia School of Journalism in New York, Matt has spent the past decade in newsbreaking roles at the New Zealand Listener, National Business Review, Herald on Sunday and the Sunday Star-Times before joining the Herald in 2014. His work has won numerous awards and he is the reigning Canon reporter of the year.

His stories include horrific abuse at a state-run boys home on Great Barrier Island, malfeasance at South Canterbury Finance, systematic tax avoidance by multinational companies, and the sudden resignation of justice minister Judith Collins.

Nippert has a regular sideline as a broadcast commentator and is one of only a few journalists who honestly enjoys numbers and spreadsheets.

Last year Nippert won Canon media awards for his efforts:

  • Reporter – Business Matt Nippert – The New Zealand Herald
  • Reporter of the Year Matt Nippert – The New Zealand Herald

FBI reopens Clinton email investigation

As if the US election hadn’t been bizarre enough, it has just been announced that the FBI is going to have another look at Hillary Clinton’s use of emails.

Fox News: FBI reopens investigation into Clinton email use

The FBI has reopened its investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while secretary of state, in a stunning turn of events just days before the presidential election. 

FBI Director James Comey wrote in a letter to top members of Congress Friday that the bureau has “learned of the existence of emails that appear to be pertinent to the investigation.”

Comey did not detail those emails, saying only that they surfaced “in connection with an unrelated case.”

He told lawmakers the investigative team briefed him on the information a day earlier, “and I agreed that the FBI should take appropriate investigative steps designed to allow investigators to review these emails to determine whether they contain classified information, as well as to assess their importance to our investigation.”

He said the FBI could not yet assess whether the new material is significant and he could not predict how long it will take to complete “this additional work.” 

The move comes after Comey and the Justice Department decided in July not to pursue charges over Clinton’s email practices. 

Comey has since come under criticism from lawmakers and others who claim the investigation downplayed the mishandling of classified information during Clinton’s tenure. 

The presidential campaign has been dominated by Clinton’s use of emails and Donald Trump’s alleged abuse of women.

Whoever wins in two weeks the controversies and potentially legal actions are likely to linger, possible for years.

There have been reports that if Clinton wins and the Republicans keep control of the House there will be a barrage of ‘Oversight’ investigations.

Inside the GOP plot to undermine Hillary Clinton’s presidency

As David Weigel of The Washington Post reported on Wednesday, the chair of the House Oversight Committee, Jason Chaffetz, is planning on “spending years, come January, probing the record of a President Hillary Clinton.” Republicans will start by continuing to investigate everything she did when she was secretary of state, and just keep on going with whatever ghastly crimes she commits as president. Welcome back to the 1990s.

Of course, the Oversight Committee’s job is oversight. And Rep. Chaffetz is much smarter than the person who preceded him in that position, Darrell Issa; Issa’s probes of the Obama administration were far more likely to end with Issa looking foolish than with the administration being embarrassed, and Chaffetz is unlikely to commit as many pratfalls. But it’s a hint that Republicans are in no mood for a “honeymoon” with the new president, where everyone says they hope they can get along and make important progress for the good of the country. It’ll be open warfare from Day 1.

That’s dependent on Republicans retaining control of the House, which they will probably do. As long as they have the chairmen’s gavels, they can mount whatever investigations they want and drown the administration in subpoenas. And look, oversight is important. It can be done in a responsible way that ferrets out wrongdoing and keeps the administration honest. But how much confidence should we have that Republican lawmakers are capable of that?

To answer that question, all you have to do is look at what the last eight years have been like. It isn’t encouraging.

Take Benghazi, about which many Republicans are still livid. There were eight separate congressional investigations into the attack that killed four Americans. Clinton’s emails will eventually get just as vigorous an examination, with the fact that she has not yet been placed in leg irons spurring every new hearing.

Unfortunately for Republicans, this will be exactly what their base demands. After all, you can’t go through an election in which your presidential nominee leads daily chants of “Lock her up! Lock her up!” and then think all that rage will just disappear.

The next White House tenure could be ongoing ugly. Or uglier.

UPDATE – NY Times: New Emails in Clinton Case Came From Anthony Weiner’s Electronic Devices

Federal law enforcement officials said Friday that the new emails uncovered in the closed investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server were discovered after the F.B.I. seized electronic devices belonging to Huma Abedin, a top aide to Mrs. Clinton, and her husband, Anthony Weiner.

The F.B.I. is investigating illicit text messages that Mr. Weiner sent to a 15-year-old girl in North Carolina. The bureau told Congress on Friday that it had uncovered new emails related to the Clinton case — one federal official said they numbered in the thousands — potentially reigniting an issue that has weighed on the presidential campaign and offering a lifeline to Donald J. Trump less than two weeks before the election.

In a letter to Congress, the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, said that emails had surfaced in an unrelated case, and that they “appear to be pertinent to the investigation.”

Mr. Comey said the F.B.I. was taking steps to “determine whether they contain classified information, as well as to assess their importance to our investigation.” He said he did not know how long it would take to review the emails, or whether the new information was significant.

So the new information may not be significant but the FBI is dropping it into the closing stages of the campaign, without any indication details will be released prior to election day?

So the Democrats are a mess, the Republicans are a mess, the FBI is a mess. And the US has been seriously divided.

Can any good come out of this?

EU investigating NZ as tax haven

Newshub reported tonight that the European Union is investigating whether to include New Zealand on a tax haven black list or not.

Investigation by EU as it prepares a blacklist of global tax havens

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More details: EU considers blacklisting NZ over tax laws

New Zealand is under investigation by the European Union as it prepares a blacklist of global tax havens.

The grouping of 28 European nations has compiled a list of countries with lax tax laws, but following the release of the so-called Panama Papers it has confirmed that New Zealand is under investigation.

The EU loses around $NZ1 trillion to tax havens each year, and it intends to put a stop to the practice by threatening a raft of sanctions against countries which don’t comply to its standards.

New Zealand doesn’t comply, even when the recommendations made by tax expert John Shewan as a result of the Panama Papers are included.

What the EU wants:

  1. No anonymity – trust settlers and beneficiaries are identified and changes are recorded. New Zealand will meet this standard when Mr Shewan’s changes are introduced.
  2. Collection of information about financial assets – where the funds came from, the current assets, where they are, and the income earned in the past year. New Zealand will meet this standard when Mr Shewan’s changes are introduced.
  3. No tax exemption of foreign income. New Zealand will NOT meet this standard even when Mr Shewan’s changes are introduced.
  4. Automatic exchange of information with foreign tax authorities in the jurisdictions where the settlers and beneficiaries are resident. New Zealand will NOT meet this standard even when Mr Shewan’s changes are introduced.
  5. A public register of trust ownership and details. New Zealand will NOT meet this standard even when Mr Shewan’s changes are introduced.

Non-complying nations face:

  1. Trade sanctions
  2. Suspension of negotiations for a free-trade agreement
  3. Possible travel bans or visa restrictions.
  4. Sanctions against companies, banks, tax advisers, accountancy and law firms involved in tax deals.