Tag Archives: Foreign Agents Registration Act

Manafort indictment leads to Tony Podesta stepping down from the Podesta Group

Hours after former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort and his business partner Rick Gates were indicted on several counts on Monday, Democratic super-lobbyist Tony Podesta announced that he is stepping down from his firm, the Podesta Group. Tony Podesta is stepping down from his lobbying firm, after scrutiny from Mueller investigation:

That’s no coincidence. According to a report last week by Tom Winter and Julia Ainsley of NBC News, Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s inquiry into Manafort’s foreign work before the campaign implicated Podesta’s own foreign work.

Specifically, both Podesta’s and Manafort’s firms represented a Ukrainian nonprofit group — the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine — between 2012 and 2014. This group was attempting to improve the image of the Ukrainian regime at the time, which was pro-Russian and under scrutiny for its treatment of their domestic opposition.

The indictment of Manafort and Gates does not mention the Podesta Group by name, but according to a new report by NBC News it is “Company B” here:

A report from CNN earlier this year described how the Podesta Group repeatedly contacted the State Department about Ukraine’s 2012 election, attempting to put a positive spin on the regime’s handling of the elections. However, and crucially, they didn’t disclose the full extent of their work in federal lobbying filings until earlier this year — and per NBC, that failure to disclose has caught Mueller’s attention. (A Podesta group spokesperson emailed me last week to insist that all appropriate legal disclosures were made.)

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Paul Manafort and Rick Gates are first indictments in Special Counsel probe (updated)

CNN posted a cryptic report on Friday that Robert Mueller’s grand jury had issued its first sealed indictment(s), and that an arrest could come as early as Monday, or not. Not much more than this to the reporting.

This touched off a weekend of wild media speculation trying to confirm the CNN report, who had been indicted, and what are the charges.

Monday has arrived, and the New York Times reports that Paul Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign chairman, and his former business associate Rick Gates, were told to surrender to the FBI on Monday. Manafort has reported to the FBI this morning. Paul Manafort, Who Once Ran Trump Campaign, Surrenders to F.B.I.:

Paul Manafort surrendered to federal authorities Monday morning, after a person close to the case said the first charges were filed in a special counsel investigation.

The charges against Mr. Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign chairman, were not immediately clear but represent a significant escalation in a special counsel investigation that has cast a shadow over the president’s first year in office. Also charged was Mr. Manafort’s former business associate Rick Gates, who was also told to surrender on Monday, the person said.

Mr. Manafort walked into the F.B.I.’s field office in Washington at about 8:15 a.m. with his lawyer.

Mr. Gates is a longtime protégé and junior partner of Mr. Manafort. His name appears on documents linked to companies that Mr. Manafort’s firm set up in Cyprus to receive payments from politicians and businesspeople in Eastern Europe, records reviewed by The New York Times show.

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Latest on the Trump-Putin campaign investigation

Last Friday the Washington Post reported in cryptic language, Russia probe reaches current White House official, people familiar with the case say:

The law enforcement investigation into possible coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign has identified a current White House official as a significant person of interest, showing that the probe is reaching into the highest levels of government, according to people familiar with the matter.

The senior White House adviser under scrutiny by investigators is someone close to the president, according to these people, who would not further identify the official.

As I pointed out at the time, this left only one person who fit that description, Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner.

Sure enough, the Washington Post confirmed last night that its original report was about Jared Kushner, Jared Kushner now a focus in Russia investigation, about the same time that NBC News reported the same. Jared Kushner Under Scrutiny in Russia Probe, Officials Say.

First, The Post:

Investigators are focusing on a series of meetings held by Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and an influential White House adviser, as part of their probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and related matters, according to people familiar with the investigation.

Kushner, who held meetings in December with the Russian ambassador and a banker from Moscow is being investigated because of the extent and nature of his interactions with the Russians, the people said.

The Washington Post reported last week that a senior White House official close to the president was a significant focus of the high-stakes investigation, though it did not name Kushner.

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Flynn to take the Fifth, decline Senate subpoena (updated)

The mob takes the Fifth Amendment. If you’re innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?” — Donald J. Trump, at a campaign rally in Iowa in 2016.

For the record, during his divorce proceedings from Marla Maples, which included five depositions, Trump pleaded the Fifth 97 times on approximately 100 questions related to marriage infidelity.

Trump’s missive takes on new relevance today as The Hill reports that Flynn to decline Senate subpoena, invoke Fifth Amendment: report:

Former national security adviser Michael Flynn will invoke his Fifth Amendment rights and not comply with a Senate Intelligence Committee subpoena, the Associated Press reported Monday.

Flynn was subpoenaed in the committee’s investigation into Russian meddling and potential ties between President Trump’s campaign and Russian officials.

Flynn previously offered to testify before the Senate and House Intelligence committees in exchange for immunity, but neither committee accepted the offer.

In September of 2016, Flynn said on Meet The Press that “When you are given immunity, that means you probably committed a crime.”

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Wapo: Russia probe identifies a person of interest inside the White House

It is a classic urban legend horror scenario: A young woman who is home alone. Often she is a baby sitter. She gets a creepy phone call asking, “Have you checked the kids?” She calls the police. They trace the call and they tell her, “The calls are coming from inside the house.”

The Washington Post reports that the law enforcement investigation into possible coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign has identified a current official working inside the White House as a significant person of interest. Russia probe reaches current White House official, people familiar with the case say:

The law enforcement investigation into possible coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign has identified a current White House official as a significant person of interest, showing that the probe is reaching into the highest levels of government, according to people familiar with the matter.

The senior White House adviser under scrutiny by investigators is someone close to the president, according to these people, who would not further identify the official.

C’mon, cut to the chase.  There are only a small number of suspects close advisors who have admitted publicly to having had contacts with the Russians: Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Technically, only one of them actually works inside the White House, the only one who can be said to be “close to” Donald Trump, that is “The Kush.” Trump entrusts him with everything. On January 9, 2017, Kushner was named Senior Advisor to the President.

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Mike Pence’s ‘Sergeant Schultz defense’ does not hold up to scrutiny

After the “bombshell” reporting this week about what the Trump administration knew about Gen. Michael Flynn and when they knew it, Trump transition chairman Vice President Pence has his aids anonymously leaking to the press the Sergeant Schultz defense — “I know nothing!” — in an effort to separate himself from the Trump scandals (and to preserve his status as next in line of presidential succession).

We are now all supposed to believe that Trump transition chairman Vice President Pence, who was named to that post because he was supposedly the adult in the room who could herd the crazy cats  Trump brought with him to Washington, was entirely kept out of the information loop about Gen. Michael Flynn. We are all supposed to believe that Trump transition team lawyers never notified their client, transition chairman Vice President Pence, of information they received about Flynn. Riiight.

We are aslo supposed to believe that Mike Pence never read a newspaper article or watched a television news report about Michael Flynn, which was widely reported in the news at the time.

NBC News reports, VP Mike Pence Was Never Informed About Flynn: Source:

Vice President Mike Pence has been kept in the dark about former National Security Adviser Mike Flynn’s alleged wrongdoing, according to a source close to the administration, who cited a potential “pattern” of not informing the vice president and calling it “malpractice or intentional, and either are unacceptable.”

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