Grand Jury probes FOX News, Roger Ailes, and Trump!
Just breaking on the NY Times web site. Preet Bharara may be fired, but the case is on fire:
A federal grand jury sitting in Manhattan is expected to soon hear testimony from at least two witnesses to testify in coming days about business practices at Fox News when it was led by Mr. Ailes, according to two people with knowledge of the matter. Mr. Ailes, who was forced out in July amid revelations of multiple accusations of sexual harassment, has denied those charges.
The current inquiry, which began in September and appears to be in an early stage, may be focused, at least in part, on settlement payments, a person with knowledge of the matter said.
One of those subpoenaed, according to the two people, is Mark Kranz, the former chief financial officer for Fox News who oversaw the network’s finances when it paid millions of dollars in settlements. Mr. Kranz was appointed to his position by Mr. Ailes in 2004, and resigned last year, a week after Mr. Ailes had done so.
Mr. Ailes helped prepare Mr. Trump ahead of debates in last year’s campaign. In 2014, Mr. Trump intervened in a dispute between Mr. Ailes and a former aide who said he had damaging information about Mr. Ailes and the network.
Mr. Trump negotiated a settlement on behalf of Mr. Ailes, and later boasted of his work, telling the journalist Gabriel Sherman, “When Roger was having problems, he didn’t call 97 people, he called me.”
And there is a report that the probe could extend to snooping by NewsCorp:
[A]ccording to New York Magazine’s Gabriel Sherman, the probe is “looking at a number of potential crimes, including whether Fox News executives broke laws by allegedly obtaining journalists’ phone records or committed mail and wire fraud by hiding financial settlements paid to women who accused Roger Ailes of sexual harassment.” One possible candidate to replace Bharara, reports the New York Times, is Marc Mukasey, who has represented Ailes himself.
As Sherman pursued a number of stories last year about the Ailes scandal, Mukasey himself supplied a colorful bit of media criticism to the Daily Beast: “Gabe Sherman is a virus, and is too small to exist on his own, and has obviously attached himself to the Ailes family to try to suck the life out of them,” said Mukasey in comments to the website.
Last year, Burstein told this blog that he expected to sue Fox News on behalf of former Fox News host Andrea Tantaros “based upon her right to seek damages as the victim of violations of certain federal criminal laws having nothing to do with sexual harassment, etc. The cloud of secrecy surrounding the 14th floor will be replaced by the sunlight of litigation.” That 14th floor was the locus of a so-called “black room” where Ailes’s people allegedly carried out PR and surveillance operations against his detractors.