Tag Archives: money laundering

The Special Counsel focuses on the heart of the Russia investigation (updated)

Special Counsel Robert Mueller is beginning to ask direct questions about whether Donald Trump knew about the stolen Democratic emails from the 2016 presidential election before their theft became public knowledge — as well as whether he was in any way involved in how they were released during the campaign. Mueller asking if Trump knew about hacked Democratic emails before release:

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team is asking witnesses pointed questions about whether Donald Trump was aware that Democratic emails had been stolen before that was publicly known, and whether he was involved in their strategic release, according to multiple people familiar with the probe.

Mueller’s investigators have asked witnesses whether Trump was aware of plans for WikiLeaks to publish the emails. They have also asked about the relationship between GOP operative Roger Stone and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, and why Trump took policy positions favorable to Russia.

The line of questioning suggests the special counsel, who is tasked with examining whether there was collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 election, is looking into possible coordination between WikiLeaks and Trump associates in disseminating the emails, which U.S. intelligence officials say were stolen by Russia.

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Special Counsel files new indictments against Paul Manafort and Rick Gates (Updated)

Special Counsel Robert Mueller has filed a new 32-count indictment Read the Special Counsel’s indictment (.pdf) against former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and his business associate Rick Gates. The Washington Post reports, Special counsel Mueller files new charges in Manafort, Gates case:

The indictment ratchets up pressure on Manafort and his deputy Rick Gates, who were already preparing for a trial that could come later this year on fraud and money laundering charges.

The additional charges had been expected in special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s prosecution of Manafort and Gates. Manafort joined the Trump campaign in March 2016, and served as the campaign chairman from June to August of that year. Gates also served as a top official on Trump’s campaign [and the transition].

Mueller accused the men of lying on their income tax returns and conspiring to commit bank fraud to get loans. The indictment was filed in federal court in Virginia — a technical requirement because that was where the suspects filed their tax returns.

A court filing indicates that prosecutors initially sought to combine the new charges with the preexisting indictment in federal court in Washington, but Manafort declined to agree, leading to the possibility of two separate trials in two neighboring jurisdictions.

The new indictment offers a more detailed portrait of what prosecutors say was a multi-year scheme by Manafort and Gates to use their income from working for a Ukrainian political party to buy properties, evade taxes and support a lavish lifestyle even after their business connections in Kiev evaporated.

“Manafort and Gates generated tens of millions of dollars in income as a result of their Ukraine work. From approximately 2006 through the present, Manafort and Gates engaged in a scheme to hide income from United States authorities, while enjoying the use of the money,” the indictment charges.

From 2006 to 2015, Manafort, with help from Gates, allegedly failed to pay taxes on this money by disguising it as loans from offshore corporate entities, and by using foreign bank accounts to make payments to businesses in the United States on Manafort’s behalf.

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Special Counsel flips Rick Gates, will testify against Paul Manafort (Updated)

Special Counsel Robert Mueller is rolling up witnesses to get them to flip and to testify against other witnesses, to get them to flip and to testify against other witnesses, working his way up the ladder to the top in classic prosecutorial fashion.

The Los Angeles Times reports that the Special Counsel has got Rick Gates to flip to testify against Paul Manafort, to bring pressure to bear on Manafort to get him to flip against higher-ups. Former Trump aide Richard Gates to plead guilty; agrees to testify against Manafort, sources say:

A former top aide to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign will plead guilty to fraud-related charges within days — and has made clear to prosecutors that he would testify against Paul Manafort, the lawyer-lobbyist who once managed the campaign.

The change of heart by Trump’s former deputy campaign manager Richard Gates, who had pleaded not guilty after being indicted in October on charges similar to Manafort’s, was described in interviews by people familiar with the case.

“Rick Gates is going to change his plea to guilty,” said a person with direct knowledge of the new developments, adding that the revised plea will be presented in federal court in Washington “within the next few days.”

That individual and others who discussed the matter spoke on condition of anonymity, citing a judge’s gag order restricting comments about the case to the news media or public.

Gates’ defense lawyer, Thomas C. Green, did not respond to messages left by phone and email. Peter Carr, a spokesman for special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, declined on Saturday to comment.

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FBI investigating the NRA for Russian collusion

The lobbyist organization for the merchants of death, the National Rifle Association, is under investigation by the FBI to determine whether a top Russian banker with ties to the Kremlin illegally funneled money to the NRA to help Donald Trump win the presidency. McClatchy News reports, FBI investigating whether Russian money went to NRA to help Trump:

The FBI is investigating whether a top Russian banker with ties to the Kremlin illegally funneled money to the National Rifle Association to help Donald Trump win the presidency, two sources familiar with the matter have told McClatchy.

FBI counterintelligence investigators have focused on the activities of Alexander Torshin, the deputy governor of Russia’s central bank who is known for his close relationships with both Russian President Vladimir Putin and the NRA, the sources said.

It is illegal to use foreign money to influence federal elections.

It’s unclear how long the Torshin inquiry has been ongoing, but the news comes as Justice Department Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s sweeping investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 election, including whether the Kremlin colluded with Trump’s campaign, has been heating up.

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Disclosure of the Torshin investigation signals a new dimension in the 18-month-old FBI probe of Russia’s interference. McClatchy reported a year ago that a multi-agency U.S. law enforcement and counterintelligence investigation into Russia’s intervention, begun even before the start of the 2016 general election campaign, initially included a focus on whether the Kremlin secretly helped fund efforts to boost Trump, but little has been said about that possibility in recent months.

The extent to which the FBI has evidence of money flowing from Torshin to the NRA, or of the NRA’s participation in the transfer of funds, could not be learned.

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Congressional Republicans are running interference on the Russia investigation

If you spent your New Year’s weekend binge watching football games like I did, you may have missed some important reporting in the New York Times regarding the Russia investigation that blew away Dear Leader’s false narrative (fake news) and conspiracy theory that the Russia investigation is a “phony democratic excuse for losing the election” that began with the Steele dossier “funded by some combination of Russia, the Democratic Party and the FBI.”

It turns out that the Russia investigation actually began with Trump campaign foreign policy advisor George Papadopoulos — now a cooperating witness in the Special Counsel’s investigation — getting drunk one night and telling the Australian ambassador to Britain that the Russians “have dirt on Hillary Clinton” before the DNC knew that it had been hacked by the Russians. After the DNC learned of the leaks and Wikileaks began publishing the emails from the DNC, the Australians contacted the FBI about the earlier statement of George Papadopoulos, which triggered the FBI investigation.

The opposition research into Donald Trump by Fusion GPS was originally funded by the Washington Free Beacon before Christopher Steele was hired, and later was funded by the DNC and Clinton campaign after Christopher Steele was brought on. Based upon what Christopher Steele, a well-respected former British MI-6 agent specializing in Russia, was learning from his contacts it was Steele who alerted the FBI to the Russian attack on the election. The Steele “dossier” confirmed much of what the already opened FBI investigation into the Trump campaign was finding.

Fusion GPS provided all of its information to the Senate Judiciary Committee in more than 10 hours of testimony months ago, but the committee has failed to release the transcript of testimony, despite assurances from committee chairman Senator Chuck Grassley that the transcript will be released. This is where things stand today.

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Follow the money: the Trump connection to Deutsche Bank and Russian money

Earlier this month, the Wall Street Journal reported that Special Counsel Mueller Subpoenas Deutsche Bank Records Related to Trump:

Deutsche Bank received a subpoena earlier in the fall from U.S. special counsel Robert Mueller’s office concerning people or entities affiliated with President Donald Trump, according to a person briefed on the matter.

The subpoena requested documents and data about accounts and other dealings tied to relationships with Mr. Trump and people close to him, the person said. The bank has lent more than $300 million to entities affiliated with Mr. Trump, according to public disclosures.

Ty Cobb, the White House’s chief lawyer handling the Russia investigation, said bank records of Mr. Trump and his family weren’t subpoenaed. “Previous reports today about subpoenas for financial records relating to the president and his family are false,” Mr. Cobb said.

A Deutsche Bank spokesman said Tuesday that the bank “takes its legal obligations seriously and remains committed to cooperating with authorized investigations into this matter.” The subpoena was earlier reported by German newspaper Handelsblatt.

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