10:08 AM 7/21/2017 – We're on the Brink of an Authoritarian Crisis – New Republic

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1. News in Photos from mikenova (4 sites)
WSJ.com: World News: Among Iraqis Freed From ISIS, Resentment Festers

Iraqs government is struggling to rebuild Sunni areas liberated from Islamic Statea challenge in any effort to end a cycle of sectarianism and an insurgency that has been pushed underground.

WSJ.com: World News

 

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6:36 AM 7/21/2017: Special Counsel Robert Mueller is going after Donald Trump for Russian money laundering | Marc Kasowitz Resigns From Trumps Legal Team
We’re on the Brink of an Authoritarian Crisis – New Republic
Sessions learns loyalty can be a one-way street with Trump – Chicago Tribune
Eric Holder: Trump hindering Mueller investigation ‘creates issues of constitutional and criminal dimension’ – Washington Examiner
Trump reshuffling legal team – CNN
CIA director: Russia loves to meddle and ‘stick it to America’
Special Counsel Robert Mueller is going after Donald Trump for Russian money laundering
Trump Trains His Sights on Mueller’s Investigation – The Atlantic
Report: Robert Mueller likely already has Donald Trumps tax returns
WaPo & NYT: Trump legal team trying to undercut Mueller – CNN
Even with Trump warning, Mueller likely to probe finances – Military Times
Marc Kasowitz becomes the second member of Donald Trumps legal team to quit today
Trump Ends Syrian Regime Change Campaign – Antiwar.com
We’re Vladimir Putin’s plaything – St. Augustine Record
Donald Trumps weird new denial of the Pee Pee Tape may be the dumbest thing hes said yet
How Trump Set Poland on the Path to Dictatorship – Daily Beast
When Will Republicans Learn That Donald Trump Hates Them? – Daily Beast
Trump’s Business Partner Tries to Erase his Prostitution Bust From Web – Daily Beast
felix sater – Google News: Trump’s Business Partner Tries to Erase his Prostitution Bust From Web – Daily Beast
Donald Trump’s lawyers investigating special counsel Robert Mueller’s team
Marc Kasowitz Resigns From Trump’s Legal Team – Mediaite
Why Would You Want Putin as a Friend? – National Review
Mona Charen: Why Would You Want Putin As A Friend? – Investor’s Business Daily
Be careful cozying up to Putin – STLtoday.com
Donald Trump impeachment process: How would it work, how long would it take? – NEWS.com.au

 

Saved Stories – None
6:36 AM 7/21/2017: Special Counsel Robert Mueller is going after Donald Trump for Russian money laundering | Marc Kasowitz Resigns From Trumps Legal Team

We’re on the Brink of an Authoritarian Crisis – New Republic Sessions learns loyalty can be a one-way street with Trump – Chicago Tribune Eric Holder: Trump hindering Mueller investigation ‘creates issues of constitutional and criminal dimension’ – Washington Examiner Trump reshuffling legal team – CNN CIA director: Russia loves to meddle and ‘stick it … Continue reading“6:36 AM 7/21/2017: Special Counsel Robert Mueller is going after Donald Trump for Russian money laundering | Marc Kasowitz Resigns From Trump’s Legal Team”
We’re on the Brink of an Authoritarian Crisis – New Republic


New Republic
We’re on the Brink of an Authoritarian Crisis
New Republic
The loud hum of chaos and spectacle engulfing the Trump administration is drowning out a creeping reality: We are on the brink of an authoritarian crisis that will make the firing of FBI Director James Comey seem quaint in hindsight. … By unmanning 
Trump’s lawyers explore pardoning powers and ways to undercut Russia investigationChicago Tribune

all 209 news articles »

Sessions learns loyalty can be a one-way street with Trump – Chicago Tribune


Chicago Tribune
Sessions learns loyalty can be a one-way street with Trump
Chicago Tribune
Nothing is more important to President Donald Trump than loyalty to him. In business and in politics, …. To make the comparison, Trump drew on the work of psychoanalyst Michael Maccoby, who wrote the book “The Productive Narcissist.” In an  
Citing Recusal, Trump Says He Wouldn’t Have Hired SessionsNew York Times
Excerpts From The Times’s Interview With TrumpNew York Times

all 917 news articles » 

and more »

Eric Holder: Trump hindering Mueller investigation ‘creates issues of constitutional and criminal dimension’ – Washington Examiner

Eric Holder: Trump hindering Mueller investigation ‘creates issues of constitutional and criminal dimension’
Washington Examiner
Eric Holder, who served as attorney general under former President Barack Obama, warned President Trump against trying to hinder special prosecutor Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election after it was reported Thursday evening …

and more »

Trump reshuffling legal team – CNN


CNN
Trump reshuffling legal team
CNN
Meanwhile, Mark Corallo has resigned from his position as spokesman and communications strategist for Trump’s legal team, a senior administration official told CNN Thursday night. Corallo did not respond to CNN’s requests for comment. His resignation …
Trump team seeks to control, block Mueller’s Russia investigationWashington Post
Trump Aides, Seeking Leverage, Investigate Mueller’s InvestigatorsNew York Times 
Trump Trains His Sights on Mueller’s InvestigationThe Atlantic
Business InsiderHuffPostABC News
all 259 
Trump’s lawyers are exploring his pardoning powers to hedge against the Russia investigationBusiness Insider
HuffPostThe HillBloomberg
all 223
 news articles »
CIA director: Russia loves to meddle and ‘stick it to America’

Mike Pompeo describes the US-Russia relationship as complicated but hopes there will be areas where they can cooperate

The CIA director, Mike Pompeo, said on Thursday that Russia had no plans to leave Syria and would continue to try to meddle in US affairs to stick it to America.

He reiterated his belief that Russia interfered in the US presidential election and described the US-Russia relationship as complicated.

Related: Trump backs away from working with Russia on cybersecurity

Related: CIA director brands WikiLeaks a ‘hostile intelligence service’

Continue reading…

Special Counsel Robert Mueller is going after Donald Trump for Russian money laundering

Yesterday the New York Times asked Donald Trump how he would react if Special Counsel Robert Mueller began investigating his finances. Trump responded by threatening to fire Mueller if he did. What Trump didn’t know is that Mueller is already knee deep into probing Trump’s financial history, which the Times revealed immediately after publishing the interview. But now it turns out Mueller is investigating Trump specifically for his role in Russian money laundering.

It was the Wall Street Journal this afternoon that made the reveal, while not quite hitting the sweet spot of what’s really going on. The WSJ reported that Robert Mueller’s Special Counsel office is now taking over an existing federal investigation into alleged Russian money laundering by Paul Manafort (link). But here’s what this really means.

Mueller’s investigation into criminal activities on the part of Trump’s associates only goes so far as those activities relate to Trump. So his decision to take over the Manafort money laundering investigation means that, in his view, Trump was involved in some way shape or form with Manafort’s alleged money laundering. In other words, Mueller is investigating Donald Trump for Russian money laundering.

Based on his own words yesterday, we know that Donald Trump is more worried about what Robert Mueller will turn up in his financial history than what Mueller will turn up in his political interactions with the Kremlin. And now this tells us why: Trump appears to have been involved in Paul Manafort’s Russian money laundering antics, and he knows Mueller is going to find it, if he hasn’t already.

The post Special Counsel Robert Mueller is going after Donald Trump for Russian money launderingappeared first on Palmer Report.

Trump Trains His Sights on Mueller’s Investigation – The Atlantic


The Atlantic
Trump Trains His Sights on Mueller’s Investigation
The Atlantic
Trump displayed flashes of that anger during a lengthy interview Wednesday with the Times, in which he flitted between channeling his ire towards Mueller, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, and Deputy FBIDirector …

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Report: Robert Mueller likely already has Donald Trumps tax returns

Donald Trump is so far behind the media and the public when it comes to his own scandals, he just recently learned that Special Counsel Robert Mueller has the power to pull his tax returns as part of the Russia investigation. The rest of us have known this since the day Mueller was appointed. But because Trump only gets his news from Fox News and the National Enquirer, he didn’t have a clue about it. Now comes a report that Mueller likely already has Trump’s tax returns.

This evening the Washington Post revealed the following startling revelation: “He has told aides he was especially disturbed after learning Mueller would be able to access several years of his tax returns.” (link). This means that not only did Trump fail to learn as much from the widespread earlier reporting on the matter, none of his aides of attorneys had bothered to tell him as much.

But now comes a report from political insider Scott Dworkin: “Spoke to a lawyer who told me that Mueller probably got Trump’s tax returns the first day on the job.” (link). If this is the case, it’s essentially too late for Trump to fire Mueller, as his tax returns are already in the wind. And as we’ve learned over the past two years, whatever Trump is hiding in his tax returns, he’s been consistently desperate to keep anyone from seeing them.

Donald Trump was willing to risk losing the election by refusing to release his tax returns, which made him look incredibly suspicious. That meant Trump knew that whatever he was hiding in his returns was even worse than the political problem he created for himself by keeping it hidden. That’s long pointed to Trump’s returns containing evidence of serious criminal behavior on his part, or evidence that he’s a financial puppet of the Russian government. And now we know that Mueller has likely had them all along. Too late, Trump.

The post Report: Robert Mueller likely already has Donald Trump’s tax returns appeared first on Palmer Report.

WaPo & NYT: Trump legal team trying to undercut Mueller – CNN


CNN
WaPo & NYT: Trump legal team trying to undercut Mueller
CNN
According to the Times, Trump’s team of lawyers and aides are undertaking a wide-ranging search for conflicts of interest among Mueller and his team — including Mueller’s relationship with former FBI Director James Comey, whom Trump fired earlier this  
‘Extremely Unfair’The Weekly Standard

all 277 news articles » 

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Even with Trump warning, Mueller likely to probe finances – Military Times


Military Times
Even with Trump warning, Mueller likely to probe finances
Military Times
WASHINGTON President Donald Trump’s growing anxiety about the federal Russia probe has spilled into public view with his warning that special counsel Robert Mueller would be out of bounds if he dug into the Trump family’s finances. But that’s a line …
Mueller Expands Probe to Trump Business TransactionsBloomberg
Trump team seeks to control, block Mueller’s Russia investigationWashington Post 
Citing Recusal, Trump Says He Wouldn’t Have Hired Sessions
 
Trump Aides, Seeking Leverage, Investigate Mueller’s Investigators
 New York Times

New York TimesNew York Times
all 294 291 news articles »
Marc Kasowitz becomes the second member of Donald Trumps legal team to quit today

The legal team representing Donald Trump in the Russia scandal had a headcount of five when the day began. That headcount is now at three. Attorney Marc Kasowitz has officially quit this evening, just weeks after Trump hired him specifically to defend him in the Russia scandal. And this wasn’t even the first defection from Trump’s legal team of the day.

Marc Kasowitz is officially out, according to Major Garrett of CBS News (link). This comes just hours after the news that Donald Trump has begun inquiring about pardoning himself and his children, and one day after Trump publicly attacked Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Special Counsel Robert Mueller in a manner which further destabilized his tenuous grasp on the presidency. It also comes a few days after Kasowitz replied to an email from a stranger by threatening to hunt him down at his house. But Kasowitz wasn’t today’s only departure.

Just hours ago, John Santucci of ABC News reported that Donald Trump’s Russia legal team spokesman Mark Corallo had resigned as well (link). No specific reason for Corallo’s departure was given. But this comes amid an on-air MSNBC report that Trump’s newest attorney Ty Cobb called a meeting with Trump yesterday and got him to agree not to speak with the media any further about the Russia scandal. Trump then immediately did an interview with the New York Times in which he extensively discussed the Russia scandal.

So now we have to keep an eye out for whether Cobb ends up resigning as well. Jay Sekulow is also still on Trump’s legal team, but he’s had multiple self defeating incidents on the job. He tried to blame the scandal on the Secret Service, and he once contradicted himself so thoroughly during a Fox News interview that host Chris Wallace was left to mutter “Oh boy this is weird.”

The post Marc Kasowitz becomes the second member of Donald Trump’s legal team to quit todayappeared first on Palmer Report.

Trump Ends Syrian Regime Change Campaign – Antiwar.com


News18
Trump Ends Syrian Regime Change Campaign
Antiwar.com
Simultaneously, Mrs. Clinton started denouncing Putin as the modern-day equivalent of Hitler, and the foreign policy mandarins in Washington began to characterize Putinism, rather than radical Islamism, as the principal enemy of the United States. Sen.
Trump ends covert CIA program to arm anti-Assad rebels in Syria, a move sought by MoscowWashington Post

all 205 news articles »

We’re Vladimir Putin’s plaything – St. Augustine Record


St. Augustine Record
We’re Vladimir Putin’s plaything
St. Augustine Record
Paul Manafort, Donald Trump’s erstwhile campaign manager, had some questionable Russian business interests andresigned well before the election. All these stories were luridly headlined in the press. Yet several intelligence officials from the Obama 
Jay Sekulow’s Cover-UpSlate Magazine

all 2,540 news articles »

Donald Trumps weird new denial of the Pee Pee Tape may be the dumbest thing hes said yet

Donald Trump is still talking about the Pee Pee Tape. Former FBI Director James Comey has previously said that Trump once called him up out of the blue to insist that he’d never done anything with Russian hookers, as had been alleged in the Trump-Russia dossier. Now Trump is once again denying the Pee Pee Tape, this time publicly and it might be the dumbest explanation he’s given for a scandal yet.

During his new interview with the New York Times, Trump brought up the “Pee Pee Tape” accusation made against him in the dossier just so he could refute it. He explained that “I have witnesses, because I went there with a group of people. You know, I went there with Phil Ruffin.” Ruffin is his business associate. Then he added that his longtime bodyguard Keith Schiller was also with him. (link). And so Trump’s defense is that his own pals can prove he didn’t do anything with Russian hookers because they were on the trip with him.

What is this even supposed to mean? Were Ruffin and Schiller in Trump’s hotel room with him the whole time? Did they spend every moment of the Moscow trip with him? That’s the only possible way that his travel-mates could prove he didn’t do what’s been alleged. And by invoking Schiller, Trump is only serving to make himself look more suspicious.

Once Donald Trump took office, one of the first things he did was to hire Keith Schiller to a high profile White House security job. Now the question must be asked: was this Trump’s way of rewarding Schiller for continuing to keep quiet about whatever really happened in that Moscow hotel? By continuing to talk about the Pee Pee Tape at all, Trump further validates the assertions of its existence. And the sheer stupidity of his denials of the tape makes him look even more guilty.

The post Donald Trump’s weird new denial of the Pee Pee Tape may be the dumbest thing he’s said yet appeared first on Palmer Report.

How Trump Set Poland on the Path to Dictatorship – Daily Beast


Daily Beast
How Trump Set Poland on the Path to Dictatorship
Daily Beast
This month the government’s most authoritarian tendencies were encouraged by the July 6 visit of U.S. President DonaldTrump, and now a different sort of transition is underwayto what some call a hybrid dictatorship. …. He might now regret that 

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When Will Republicans Learn That Donald Trump Hates Them? – Daily Beast


Daily Beast
When Will Republicans Learn That Donald Trump Hates Them?
Daily Beast
Six months in to the Trump presidency and you need a steady diet of fentanyl, Thunderbird, and head trauma to believe thatDonald Trump is a master negotiator, a real leader, or any good at this whole presidenting thing. The national political stress
18 Confusing Things Donald Trump Has Said About Health CarePolitico 
After 6 Months, Donald Trump’s Presidency Is StillbornHuffPost

Donald Trump’s Senate lunch is going to be super awkwardCNN 
After 6 Months, Donald Trump’s Presidency Is StillbornHuffPost
NJ.comNew York Times
 
PolitiFact
 –Washington Times
 
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CNN International
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Trump’s Business Partner Tries to Erase his Prostitution Bust From Web – Daily Beast


Daily Beast
Trump’s Business Partner Tries to Erase his Prostitution Bust From Web
Daily Beast
Arif, a former Soviet trade minister whose company once prospected for the Trump Organization in Russia and Eastern Europe, has demanded the removal of allegedly defamatory information about that arrest from websites that have investigated or recapped 

felix sater – Google News: Trump’s Business Partner Tries to Erase his Prostitution Bust From Web – Daily Beast


Daily Beast
Trump’s Business Partner Tries to Erase his Prostitution Bust From Web
Daily Beast
Through Bayrock, Sater and Arif helped finance the Trump SoHo Hotel under a licensing deal with the president’s company. The firm was a key source of capital for [other] Trump development projects, Bloomberg noted. Arif’s ties to Trump have drawn …

 felix sater – Google News

Donald Trump’s lawyers investigating special counsel Robert Mueller’s team

Effort reportedly includes exploring the political affiliations of Muellers investigators and their work history

Donald Trumps legal team is looking for conflicts of interest among members of special counsel Robert Muellers investigative team, people with knowledge of the matter said on Thursday.

The revelation come as Muellers investigation appears likely to investigate some of the presidents familys business ties.

Related: CIA director: Russia loves to meddle and ‘stick it to America’

Continue reading…

Marc Kasowitz Resigns From Trump’s Legal Team – Mediaite


Mediaite
Marc Kasowitz Resigns From Trump’s Legal Team
Mediaite
… as President Trump’s personal attorney and his spokesman Mark Corrallo has also resigned from Trump’s legal team. Kasowitz is best known to the public for giving Trump’s official response to former FBI Director James Comey‘s testimony earlier this 

Why Would You Want Putin as a Friend? – National Review

Why Would You Want Putin as a Friend?
National Review
Leaving aside the question as to whether there was actual collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government during the 2016 election, it is undisputed that candidate Trump was eager for a friendship between our two nations. … In 2016 

Mona Charen: Why Would You Want Putin As A Friend? – Investor’s Business Daily


Los Angeles Times
Mona Charen: Why Would You Want Putin As A Friend?
Investor’s Business Daily
The West’s intelligence services are also favorite bugbears of Russian media. As Paul Gregory recounts, “Virtually every truckers’ strike, miners’ protest or critical Facebook posting is a CIA, U.S. State Department or Germany BND operation” according 
Were Trump Jr., Manafort, and Kushner Hoping to Get Clinton’s Emails From Putin?Mother Jones
Putin wants his US mansions back. Trump needs to say no.Washington Examiner
How the GOP Became the Party of PutinPOLITICO Magazine
Newsweek –Los Angeles Times
all 2,410 news articles »
Be careful cozying up to Putin – STLtoday.com


STLtoday.com
Be careful cozying up to Putin
STLtoday.com
FILE – In this July 7, 2017, file photo, President Donald Trump meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany. Trump had a second, previously undisclosed conversation with Putin at the summit it Germany. White House …
What Trump’s Putin Love Reveals About ConservativesBillMoyers.com 
Trump touts meeting with Defense Secretary MattisLos Angeles Times

Meet the lawyers on Trump’s growing legal teamPBS NewsHour 
Manafort Was Heavily in Debt to Russians Before Joining Trump CampaignPatheos (blog)
WOSUVICE News
 
WOSU
 –Naples Herald
 
all 2,467
 
HuffPost
all 2,688 news articles »
Donald Trump impeachment process: How would it work, how long would it take? – NEWS.com.au


NEWS.com.au
Donald Trump impeachment process: How would it work, how long would it take?
NEWS.com.au
THE IMPEACHMENT MYTH. An analysis of the impeachment process I mpeachment 101: The history, process and prospect of a Trump impeachment, written by US Studies Centre CEO Professor Simon Jackman has revealed it’s actually a lot harder than most 

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Married to the Mob: Investigative Journalist Craig Unger on What Trump Owes the Russian Mafia
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6:36 AM 7/21/2017: Special Counsel Robert Mueller is going after Donald Trump for Russian money laundering | Marc Kasowitz Resigns From Trumps Legal Team
Special Counsel Robert Mueller is going after Donald Trump for Russian money laundering
Marc Kasowitz Resigns From Trumps Legal Team
How Russia Mercilessly Played Trump for a Fool – Vanity Fair
How Russia Mercilessly Played Trump for a Fool
Trump business empire under scrutiny in Russia probe
Deutsche Bank Is Turning Over Information on Trump
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Trump had second conversation with Putin in Germany

Youngstown VindicatorJul 19, 2017
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump had another, previously undisclosed conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin at a …
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Maybe What Russia Wants From Trump Is Permission to Launder Its Dirty Money …. Sater is a two-time felon with mob ties who has been accused in a … described as “Putin’s slush fund” by one Russia expert who spoke to the …
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On Sunday, two days after his first meeting as president with Mr. Putin, Mr. Trump said in a Twitter post: “I strongly pressed President Putin twice …
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Donald Trump, Russia and a mob of comedy Corleones

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Even with Trump warning, Mueller likely to probe financial ties to Russia … records related to his finances, and that the bank expects it will have …
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Trump team seeks to control, block Mueller’s Russia investigation

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Trump team seeks to control, block Muellers Russia investigation

mikenova shared this story .

Some of President Trump’s lawyers are exploring ways to limit or undercut special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s Russia investigation, building a case against what they allege are his conflicts of interest and discussing the president’s authority to grant pardons, according to people familiar with the effort.

Trump has asked his advisers about his power to pardon aides, family members and even himself in connection with the probe, according to one of those people. A second person said Trump’s lawyers have been discussing the president’s pardoning powers among themselves.

One adviser said the president has simply expressed a curiosity in understanding the reach of his pardoning authority, as well as the limits of Mueller’s investigation.

“This is not in the context of, ‘I can’t wait to pardon myself,’ ” a close adviser said.

Fact Check: Do the political preferences of Mueller’s team risk its independence?

President Trump suggested the special prosecutor’s team might not be fair, impartial investigators because of previous political contributions, legal clients and personal friends. President Trump suggested the special prosecutor’s team might not be fair, impartial investigators. (Meg Kelly/The Washington Post)

(Meg Kelly/The Washington Post)

With the Russia investigation continuing to widen, Trump’s lawyers are working to corral the probe and question the propriety of the special counsel’s work. They are actively compiling a list of Mueller’s alleged potential conflicts of interest, which they say could serve as a way to stymie his work, according to several of Trump’s legal advisers.

A conflict of interest is one of the possible grounds that can be cited by an attorney general to remove a special counsel from office under Justice Department regulations that set rules for the job.

Responding to this story on Friday after it was published late Thursday, one of Trump’s attorneys, John Dowd, said it was “not true” and “nonsense.”

“The President’s lawyers are cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller on behalf of the President,” he said.

Other advisers said the president is also irritated by the notion that Mueller’s probe could reach into his and his family’s finances.

Trump has been fuming about the probe in recent weeks as he has been informed about the legal questions that he and his family could face. His primary frustration centers on why allegations that his campaign coordinated with Russia should spread into scrutinizing many years of Trump dealmaking. He has told aides he was especially disturbed after learning Mueller would be able to access several years of his tax returns.

Trump has repeatedly refused to make his tax returns public after first claiming he could not do so because he was under audit or after promising to release them after an IRS audit was completed. All presidents since Jimmy Carter have released their tax returns.

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A look at President Trump’s first year in office, so far

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Scenes from the Republican’s first months in the White House.

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Scenes from the Republican’s early months in the White House.

July 19, 2017 President Trump speaks at a luncheon with Republican leadership about health care in the State Dining Room of the White House.Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post

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[Analysis: Asking about a pardon for himself is a quintessentially Trumpian move]

Further adding to the challenges facing Trump’s outside lawyers, the team’s spokesman, Mark Corallo, resigned on Thursday, according to two people familiar with his departure. Corallo did not respond to immediate requests for comment.

“If you’re looking at Russian collusion, the president’s tax returns would be outside that investigation,” said a close adviser to the president.

Jay Sekulow, one of the president’s private lawyers, said in an interview Thursday that the president and his legal team are intent on making sure Mueller stays within the boundaries of his assignment as special counsel. He said they will complain directly to Mueller if necessary.

“The fact is that the president is concerned about conflicts that exist within the special counsel’s office and any changes in the scope of the investigation,” Sekulow said. “The scope is going to have to stay within his mandate. If there’s drifting, we’re going to object.”

Sekulow cited Bloomberg News reports that Mueller is scrutinizing some of Trump’s business dealings, including with a Russian oligarch who purchased a Palm Beach mansion from Trump for $95 million in 2008.

“They’re talking about real estate transactions in Palm Beach several years ago,” Sekulow said. “In our view, this is far outside the scope of a legitimate investigation.”

The president has long called the FBI investigation into his campaign’s possible coordination with the Russians a “witch hunt.” But now, Trump is coming face-to-face with a powerful investigative team that is able to study evidence of any crime it encounters in the probe — including tax fraud, lying to federal agents and interference in the investigation.

“This is Ken Starr times 1,000,” said one lawyer involved in the case, referring to the independent counsel who oversaw an investigation that eventually led to House impeachment proceedings against President Bill Clinton. “Of course, it’s going to go into his finances.”

Following Trump’s decision to fire FBI Director James B. Comey — in part because of his displeasure with the FBI’s Russia investigation — Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein appointed Mueller as special counsel in a written order. That order gave Mueller broad authority to investigate links between the Russian government and the Trump campaign, as well as “any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation” and any crimes committed in response to the investigation, such as perjury or obstruction of justice.

Mueller’s probe has already expanded to include an examination of whether Trump obstructed justice in his dealings with Comey, as well as the business activities of Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law.

Trump’s team could potentially challenge whether a broad probe of Trump’s finances prior to his candidacy could be considered a matter that arose “directly” from an inquiry into possible collusion with a foreign government.

The president’s legal representatives have also identified what they allege are several conflicts of interest facing Mueller, such as donations to Democrats by some of his prosecutors.

Another potential conflict claim is an allegation that Mueller and Trump National Golf Club in Northern Virginia had a dispute over membership fees when Mueller resigned as a member in 2011, two White House advisers said. A spokesman for Mueller said there was no dispute when Mueller, who was FBI director at the time, left the club.

Trump also took public aim on Wednesday at Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Rosenstein, whose actions led to Mueller’s appointment. In an interview with the New York Times Wednesday, the president said he never would have nominated Sessions if he knew he was going to recuse himself from the case.

[Sessions learns loyalty can be a one-way street with Trump]

Some Republicans in frequent touch with the White House said they viewed the president’s decision to publicly air his disappointment with Sessions as a warning sign that the attorney general’s days were numbered. Several senior aides were described as “stunned” when Sessions announced Thursday morning he would stay on at the Justice Department.

Another Republican in touch with the administration described the public steps as part of a broader effort aimed at “laying the groundwork to fire” Mueller.

“Who attacks their entire Justice Department?” this person said. “It’s insane.”

Law enforcement officials described Sessions as increasingly distant from the White House and the FBI because of the strains of the Russia investigation.

Traditionally, Justice Department leaders have sought to maintain a certain degree of autonomy from the White House as a means of ensuring prosecutorial independence.

But Sessions’s situation is more unusual, law enforcement officials said, because he has angered the president for apparently being too independent while also angering many at the FBI for his role in the president’s firing of Comey.

As a result, there is far less communication among those three key parts of the government than in years past, several officials said.

Currently, the discussions of pardoning authority by Trump’s legal team are purely theoretical, according to two people familiar with the ongoing conversations. But if Trump pardoned himself in the face of the ongoing Mueller investigation, it would set off a legal and political firestorm, first around the question of whether a president can use the constitutional pardon power in that way.

“This is a fiercely debated but unresolved legal question,” said Brian C. Kalt, a constitutional law expert at Michigan State University who has written extensively on the question.

The power to pardon is granted to the president in Article II, Section 2, of the Constitution, which gives the commander in chief the power to “grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offences against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.” That means pardon authority extends to federal criminal prosecution but not to state level or impeachment inquiries.

No president has sought to pardon himself, so no courts have reviewed it. Although Kalt says the weight of the law argues against a president pardoning himself, he says the question is open and predicts such an action would move through the courts all the way to the Supreme Court.

“There is no predicting what would happen,” said Kalt, author of the book, “Constitutional Cliffhangers: A Legal Guide for Presidents and Their Enemies.” It includes chapters on the ongoing debate over whether presidents can be prosecuted while in office and on whether a president can issue a pardon to himself.

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Other White House advisers have tried to temper Trump, urging him to simply cooperate with the probe and stay silent on his feelings about the investigation.

On Monday, lawyer Ty Cobb, newly brought into the White House to handle responses to the Russian probe, convened a meeting with the president and his team of lawyers, according to two people briefed on the meeting. Cobb, who is not yet on the White House payroll, was described as attempting to instill some discipline in how the White House handles queries about the case. But Trump surprised many of his aides by speaking at length about the probe to the New York Times two days later. Cobb, who officially joins the White House team at the end of the month, declined to comment for this article.

Some note that the Constitution does not explicitly prohibit a president from pardoning himself. On the other side, experts say that by definition a pardon is something you can only give to someone else. There is also a common-law canon that prohibits individuals from serving as a judge in their own case. “For example, we would not allow a judge to preside over his or her own trial,” Kalt said.

A president can pardon an individual at any point, including before the person is charged with a crime, and the scope of a presidential pardon can be very broad. President Gerald Ford pardoned former president Richard M. Nixon preemptively for offenses he “committed or may have committed” while in office.

Devlin Barrett and Sari Horwitz contributed to this report.

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Married to the Mob: Investigative Journalist Craig Unger on What Trump Owes the Russian Mafia

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Well, we’ll go now to a new article called “Married to the Mob: What Trump Owes the Russian Mafia.” Those are the words on the cover of the September issue of the New Republic. Investigative reporter Craig Unger looks at how the Russian mafia has used the president’s properties, including Trump Tower and the Trump Taj Mahal, to launder money and hide assets. Unger writes, quote, “Whether Trump knew it or not, Russian mobsters and corrupt oligarchs used his properties not only to launder vast sums of money from extortion, drugs, gambling, and racketeering, but even as a base of operations for their criminal activities. In the process, they propped up Trump’s business and enabled him to reinvent his image. Without the Russian mafia, it is fair to say, Donald Trump would not be president of the United States.”

AMY GOODMAN: Craig Unger joins us now here in our New York studio, longtime reporter, author of several books, including House of Bush, House of Saud.

Welcome back to Democracy Now!, Craig.

CRAIG UNGER: Thanks for having me.

AMY GOODMAN: So, talk about why you chose to look at this. And talk about what you lay out as Donald’s ties to Russian mobsters.

CRAIG UNGER: Well, there’s been a lot of terrific reporting about Donald Trump’s relationship with Russia recently, but I wanted to see when was he first compromised by Russia. And I went back to 1984, when a man named David Bogatin, who allegedly had ties to the most powerful crime gang in Russia, walked into Trump Tower. This is a man who doesn’t really have any means of making a living that seems to be legitimate. He meets with Donald Trump, and he buys not one or two, but five luxury condominiums for more than $6 million.

AMY GOODMAN: In Trump—in Trump Tower.

CRAIG UNGER: In Trump Tower. This is the crown jewel of Trump’s empire. It is the home of our now president of the United States. And the state Attorney General Office—this is back in the ’80s—later ruled that that was money laundering for the Russian mafia. And I found at least 13 people—episodes like that over coming years. And what you have to conclude, one, is that Trump Tower, the president’s home, was really a center for operations for the Russian mafia for long period of time.

AMY GOODMAN: That’s a very serious allegation. You also point out in your article that Trump was one of a few—one of two?—who allowed anonymous owners?

CRAIG UNGER: Right. In fact, I think David Cay Johnston originally reported this. Back in the day, this was, as you say, just one of two buildings in New York that would accept anonymous buyers, buying through shell companies. And that means, effectively, it’s being set up as a vehicle for money laundering. And when you look at Trump properties over the years, there are at least 35 Trump Towers all over the world. There are about 10,000 units, 8,000 or 10,000 units. And it would be interesting to figure out exactly what is the scale of money laundering. I think it could be much, much more than a few hundred million dollars, because during the same period, since Putin’s been in power, you have a total of $1.3 trillion in flight capital from Russia. That’s a lot of money to launder. And suddenly, with—real estate is just a terrific way to launder vast quantities of money.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Well, you write in the piece that “Without the Russian mafia, it is fair to say, Donald Trump would not be president of the United States.” So, what’s the link?

CRAIG UNGER: Well, a couple things. One is, I mean, I don’t know exactly—obviously, I don’t know what’s going through his mind and whether he’s knowledgeable about certain things. But this series of coincidences, that, oops, one guy buys five condos in which appears—what appears to be circumstances, suspicious circumstances—and it happens again and again and again. I don’t know all the answers to those questions, but the Russian mafia does. And it’s also important to understand that—I think when Americans hear the term “mafia,” they may think of John Gotti or The Sopranos or The Godfather. The Russian mafia isn’t like that. If you’re in relations with the Russian mafia, they’re the boss, you’re the apprentice. They can say “fired.” And they have compromised him. And they are also an arm of the Russian government. Russia is a mafia state. And I think what’s extraordinary, what Putin’s greatest achievement is, that he has weaponized organized crime so that it’s effectively a powerful foreign policy tool, and they’ve compromised the man who happens to be president of the United States now.

AMY GOODMAN: You write about a trip that Trump made back in 1987 to Moscow during the Gorbachev years. Why did he make that trip?

CRAIG UNGER: Well, this was his first trip to Russia. And they were—there was sort of a wooing going on in which he was hoping to build a Trump Tower in Moscow. It’s been a dream that’s been resurrected again and again and has never happened. But during that time, he first—for the first time, you see his presidential ambitions surface, immediately when he comes back. And he goes up to New Hampshire afterwards. He’s met a lot of powerful people in Russia. He goes up to New Hampshire as if he’s dipping his toes in the presidential waters for the presidential primary coming up in ’88. And he puts out a full-page ad in The New York Times and Washington Post in which he puts forth the same kind of foreign policy stuff he’s been saying during the presidential race and since he’s become president, attacking Western Europe, attacking NATO, and, frankly, putting forth a policy that appears to be in Russia’s interest more than ours.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Well, you point out in the article, as well, that since Trump has been president—so, just in the last six months—about 70 percent of the sales in his buildings have gone to shell companies, where we don’t know—we don’t know the identity.

CRAIG UNGER: Well, exactly. And that’s one question where you have to wonder how much—is this just a free-for-all where he’s laundering massive amounts of Russian money? And it’s the kind of thing that, frankly, as a reporter, that’s where you see your limits. It’s very hard to penetrate shell companies, and you need a subpoena. And I’m hoping that’s a direction special counsel Mueller will go after.

AMY GOODMAN: Now, that’s very interesting, because—especially in light of this New York Timesinterview done yesterday in the Oval Office, when Trump basically talked about his red line. He’s furious that Jeff Sessions, you know, recused himself, and which led to Robert Mueller being appointed. But his red line is going from Russia to his own finances. But you and our previous guest are linking the two.

CRAIG UNGER: Absolutely. He is effectively saying he wants to obstruct justice. It’s as simple as that. There’s no other interpretation.

AMY GOODMAN: So talk about some other of the people that you write about—for example, Semion Mogilevich and Felix Sater.

CRAIG UNGER: Right. Well, Mogilevich has been probably the most powerful mobster in Russia for more than 30 years. He has his—according to FBI files, he has his fingers in everything from prostitution to drug running to elaborate stock fraud scandals and so forth. But what he is renowned for is money laundering. And he was so successful at it, he was known as the “brainy don,” because he has a degree in economics, and he’s come up with some elaborate schemes that seem rather byzantine and complicated, but they’re very, very lucrative. And he was trusted by other mobsters to launder their money, as well. So, when you look at that $1.3 trillion figure, and you just sort of think, “Well, how can you launder this vast quantity of money? It would be great to have a real estate mogul who had thousands and thousands of luxury condos you could trade back and forth through shell companies,” that might be an answer.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Well, you write in the article that no one has documented that Trump was even aware of any suspicious entanglements in his far-flung businesses, let alone that he was directly compromised by the Russian mafia or the corrupt oligarchs who are closely allied with the Kremlin. So, what are the implications of that? I mean, there’s still no direct link between Trump and the Kremlin as a consequence of him working with these oligarchs.

CRAIG UNGER: Well, I think that those links are starting to be made. And we see it with the meeting last—the eight people, meeting with the eight people that happened last year, starting to come together. Also, I would argue Mogilevich himself has a direct relationship to Putin. And we’ve—that’s come out in various WikiLeak releases. So, he—

AMY GOODMAN: And his link to Trump, one more time?

CRAIG UNGER: Well, David Bogatin, going back to 1984, was tied to the Mogilevich crime gang, and Mogilevich is tied to Putin.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, we’re going to leave it there, but we’re going to link to your article. Craig Unger’s new cover story for the New Republic is headlined “Trump’s Russian Laundromat.” And we want to thank Seva Gunitsky, who wrote the piece “Trump and the Russian Money Trail.” We will link to his piece, as well.

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6:36 AM 7/21/2017: Special Counsel Robert Mueller is going after Donald Trump for Russian money laundering | Marc Kasowitz Resigns From Trumps Legal Team

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We’re on the Brink of an Authoritarian Crisis – New Republic Sessions learns loyalty can be a one-way street with Trump – Chicago Tribune Eric Holder: Trump hindering Mueller investigation ‘creates issues of constitutional and criminal dimension’ – Washington Examiner Trump reshuffling legal team – CNN CIA director: Russia loves to meddle and ‘stick it … Continue reading“6:36 AM 7/21/2017: Special Counsel Robert Mueller is going after Donald Trump for Russian money laundering | Marc Kasowitz Resigns From Trump’s Legal Team”

Special Counsel Robert Mueller is going after Donald Trump for Russian money laundering

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Yesterday the New York Times asked Donald Trump how he would react if Special Counsel Robert Mueller began investigating his finances. Trump responded by threatening to fire Mueller if he did. What Trump didn’t know is that Mueller is already knee deep into probing Trump’s financial history, which the Times revealed immediately after publishing the interview. But now it turns out Mueller is investigating Trump specifically for his role in Russian money laundering.

It was the Wall Street Journal this afternoon that made the reveal, while not quite hitting the sweet spot of what’s really going on. The WSJ reported that Robert Mueller’s Special Counsel office is now taking over an existing federal investigation into alleged Russian money laundering by Paul Manafort (link). But here’s what this really means.

Mueller’s investigation into criminal activities on the part of Trump’s associates only goes so far as those activities relate to Trump. So his decision to take over the Manafort money laundering investigation means that, in his view, Trump was involved in some way shape or form with Manafort’s alleged money laundering. In other words, Mueller is investigating Donald Trump for Russian money laundering.

Based on his own words yesterday, we know that Donald Trump is more worried about what Robert Mueller will turn up in his financial history than what Mueller will turn up in his political interactions with the Kremlin. And now this tells us why: Trump appears to have been involved in Paul Manafort’s Russian money laundering antics, and he knows Mueller is going to find it, if he hasn’t already.

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Marc Kasowitz Resigns From Trumps Legal Team

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I once asked the late spymaster Tennent Bagley about the relative sophistication of Russia’s intelligence services. We were in Bagley’s study, in his apartment, in Brussels, surrounded by photographs of his father and brothersall of them former admirals.

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How Russia Mercilessly Played Trump for a Fool

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In the fall of 2012, I was in Moscow, at the embassy of a small Middle Eastern country. I was writing an article for The New York Times Magazine about an oligarch in Baku who wanted to build the tallest skyscraper in the world. I had been told the ambassador and the oligarch had met in the ‘90s at a cocktail party in London and were friends, sort of. The ambassador served sugar cookies and very strong coffee in miniature porcelain cups, which is what they serve when you interview ambassadors, from the Middle East and elsewhere. He had a kindly gaze and gravelly baritone. He was well tailored. Naturally, he spoke with an Oxbridge lilt. He seemed more like a caricature of an ambassador than an ambassador. He asked me who was going to win the election in America. I told him I had no idea. It was raining in Moscow, and the price of a barrel of oil was still north of $100. For 10 or 15 minutes, the ambassador spouted platitudes about the new global order, Obama, Putin, the Turks, the Azeris, a pipeline, someone he’d met at Davos, his favorite soccer team. He quoted Metternich at least once. Finally, he said, May we transition to—how do you say?—deep background?, which seemed a funny way of saying, Can I be honest with you? I nodded, and he said, About America, I want to say something: Every four or eight years, you elect a new president, and the president is like a virgin who must be educated in, you can say, the world. We like America because you are friendly and believe in nice things, but the Russians understand how the world works.

The caricature of the artless American, like that of the ambassador, has its basis in truth. The first three American presidents of the post-Cold War era were propelled by a sometimes unsophisticated vision of how the world ought to be; they made deals or assumptions they shouldn’t have, but they also tinkered and toiled behind the scenes. They trusted, and they verified. On balance, they were not as adept at handling the Russians as their predecessors were with the Soviets, but they were not a disaster. Now, with the election of Donald Trump, the tone has shifted, and the basic assumptions—about the competence of our elected officials and the things they might say to their counterparts in Moscow—feel misplaced. Who invites Russian officials into the Oval Office and accidentally discloses top-secret Israeli intelligence? Who engages in a tête-à-tête with the Russian president without his own interpreter, without someone to make sure America is not getting played? Suddenly, the caricature feels less like a perversion or elongation of the truth than a terrifying new reality.

The guilelessness of the Trump campaign has already yielded enough scandals to keep the intelligence community busy for years. Take, for example, Donald Trump Jr.’s June 9 meeting at Trump Tower, which has all the trappings of an intelligence operation. There was, alongside Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort, a Russian lawyer, who was said to have compromising information about Hillary Clintonbut allegedly only wanted to talk about the Magnitsky Act and the issue of Russian adoption. There was an alleged ex-Soviet spy, Rinat Akhmetshin, who works as a Russian-American lobbyist, and, representing the Russian oligarch who orchestrated the meeting, Irakly Kaveladze, who has been accused by congressional investigators of a scheme to launder $1.4 billion of Russian and Eastern European money through U.S. banks. (Kaveladze, who said he attended to serve as a translator, has denied allegations of any wrongdoing.) Trump Jr. has said that “no details or supporting information” about Clinton were ever actually offered, and that the lawyer “had no meaningful information.”

VIDEO: THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION’S TIES TO RUSSIA

It’s hardly the spycraft of le Carré, or even of Clancy. Even so, the Russians must have been astounded at the ham-fisted ways in which the Trump campaign sought to leverage its relationship with Moscow, and the clumsy attempts to cover its tracks afterward—all of which has made it virtually impossible for the White House, as Trump has conceded, to actually build stronger ties with Russia. Trump has said of the alleged interference in the 2016 election that if Putin “did do it, you wouldn’t have found out about it.” It’s hard to say the same of the Trumps, for whom former C.I.A. director John Brennan’s warning that “frequently, people who go along a treasonous path do not know they are on a treasonous path until it is too late” may yet serve a fitting epitaph.

One wonders: are they really that dumb? Are they really so easily manipulated? Perhaps more important, are the Russians really so much better at espionage and counterintelligence that they could successfully infiltrate a presidential campaign, meddle in an American election, and hope to get away with it?

I once asked the late spymaster Tennent Bagley about the relative sophistication of Russia’s intelligence services. We were in Bagley’s study, in his apartment, in Brussels, surrounded by photographs of his father and brothers—all of them former admirals. In the ‘60s, Bagley ran counterintelligence for the C.I.A. against the Soviets. He was smart, discerning, principled; he spoke many languages; he read widely. He was best known for his involvement in the Yuri Nosenko affair. Nosenko had been a K.G.B. agent who, in early 1964, with Bagley’s help, had defected to the West. But Bagley soon came to the conclusion that Nosenko was not a genuine defector but a double agent who had burrowed his way into the C.I.A. and was funneling sensitive information back to Moscow. We’ll probably never know, nor agree on what we do know. Nosenko spent three-and-a-half years in solitary confinement at a C.I.A. training site near Williamsburg, Virginia, and was subsequently cleared of any allegations of spying for the Russians. He lived the rest of his life “somewhere in the South,” as the newspaper obits put it, and died in 2008 at the age of 80. Bagley died in 2014. He was haunted, until the end, by Nosenko and, really, by Nosenko’s capacity to persuade so many Americans at the highest levels of government to trust him.

When I asked Bagley what would have happened had the proverbial tables been turned, he laughed. Everyone knew the answer. Any American suspected by the Soviets of being a mole would have been shot or exiled or locked in a Siberian hole. Just to be safe. The Russians would not have been bothered by things like justice or the truth. They would never have trusted, and this would have made them worse human beings and better spies. This was characterological. It was central to the Russian condition. It was not a result of Sovietism but an enabler of it. It was born of a peasant-like distrust, violence, rot, a bloody, sweaty, mud- and manure-splattered wariness. The Americans were not made this way. They could study the ways of other people, but they could not be them. The best Americans, the ones who grasped the cognitive-cultural oceans separating America and Russia, entered into combat with Moscow with a great chariness. They understood that, when it came to subterfuge, they were at a disadvantage. They tried to inoculate themselves.

All this seems to have been lost on Trump, his retinue of loyalists and hangers-on, and the odd assortment of tertiary characters, like Russian recruitment target Carter Page, who peopled Trump’s campaign. These are not the best Americans. They are nihilists à la Steve Bannon, “idiots” like Page, neophytes like Trump Jr., or opportunists like Manafort. They have acquired, over many months of politicking and quasi-governing, the language of the patriot without understanding what they are saying. Not only that. Their pretend patriotism, their ignorance of American history, its poetries and injustices, its constant existential confrontation with itself, leaves them especially susceptible to the allure of the authoritarian. There is a logic and clarity to the authoritarian, with his shiny toys and Potemkin bullet trains and airport terminals. The authoritarian knows how to put on a good show, and these people love to be dazzled. They are vulnerable to Putin because they admire him while not understanding where he comes from nor who he is. They have no idea whom they are doing combat with. They do not even know that they are engaged in battle, and that the battle is already won.

The ironies are legion. The American, we are often told, is like a child incapable of memory formation, constantly learning and relearning the lessons everyone else has known for centuries. There is something indisputable about this. We have a tendency to believe that it is incumbent upon us to meddle in elections, to prop up opposition movements, to lecture, to scold, to pontificate. But the outsider forgets or does not know that these tendencies, however irksome or maddening, are symptomatic of a belief that we can make the world better. Many awful decisions, most of them having to do with war, have sprung from this belief, but that doesn’t mean we ought to abandon it. Those who are quick to bemoan American hegemony never seem to mention what might replace it: a Pax Sinica? A world devoid of any super- or hyperpowers? Then what? The wars of late will look like playground skirmishes when the Pax Americana ends.

Donald Trump, the first American president ever to abandon our idealism completely, to declare that the United States is now all about cutting deals and not getting screwed by the Iranians nor Democrats, has not made us safer or stronger. That is because our ideals are not fantasies about how we’d like the world to be, but powerful buffers against hostile forces, agents, interlopers. They define us. So long as we know who we are, we also know who we are not. One imagines the 8 (or 10, or 200) people crammed into the conference room in Trump Tower last year, ostensibly talking about adoptions, believed that they were doing what had to be done to beat the Clinton machine, or to drain the swamp; that they were being tough, and breaking someone else’s rules because “that’s politics!”—ignorant, as always, of the depths of their ignorance. They were, of course, wittingly or otherwise, providing the Russians with a beachhead. This is not an exaggeration. The Russians will call it an exaggeration, and they will make many Americans believe that their fellow Americans are overreacting or acting in bad faith, but we should not be swayed by this, because it is disinformation. They are better at this than we are.

VIDEO: MEET THE PEOPLE ENABLING DONALD TRUMP

Trump business empire under scrutiny in Russia probe

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WASHINGTON — The special counsel is now looking into the Trump business empire as part of its investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, and whether anyone in the Trump campaign was involved.

In a wide-ranging interview with The New York Times, President Trump had a warning for special counsel Robert Mueller: Investigating his finances and his family’s finances would cross a red line.

“I think that’s a violation,” Mr. Trump said. “This is about Russia.”

But investigators are already examining the financial dealings of Mr. Trump and his associates, not limiting themselves to possible collusion with Russia in the 2016 election. Mr. Trump’s business ties to Russians go back decades.

The special counsel’s mandate is broad and allows him to investigate “any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation.”

“Speaking for myself, I own nothing in Russia. I have no loans in Russia. I don’t have any deals in Russia,” Mr. Trump said in a February press conference.

CBS News has confirmed Mueller is also looking into the business dealings of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, an investigation initiated by federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York.

The head of the public corruption unit at the Southern District, Andrew Goldstein, recently joined Mueller’s team. He oversaw the Manafort probe.

Prosecutor Andrew Weissmann, an expert in financial fraud, is another member of Mueller’s team. Weissmann helped lead the federal task force that investigated corruption at energy giant Enron.

With multiple and overlapping probes from the Department of Justice to Capitol Hill, some investigators are also looking into purchases of units in Trump properties.

The Senate Intelligence Committee is poring through thousands of pages of financial records from a unit in the Treasury Department that fights money laundering.

In The New York Times interview, the president also said, “It’s possible there’s a condo or something… I sell a lot of condo units and somebody from Russia buys a condo, who knows.” He also said he doesn’t make money from Russia.

© 2017 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Deutsche Bank Is Turning Over Information on Trump

mikenova shared this story .

The president’s favorite financial institution.

By Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg/Getty Image.

Among the many mysteries surrounding Donald Trump’s finances as a real-estate mogul—and the conflicts of interest that might be revealed by his tax returns, were he ever to release them—is his long history of debt. The issue is not merely what Trump owes, but who he owes. As critics noted on the campaign trail, Trump’s habit of reneging on contracts and suing his lenders meant that virtually nobody on Wall Street wanted to work with him, with one exception: Deutsche Bank, which had loaned him hundreds of millions of dollars when no one else would, even after he sued the firm. Now, investigators probing the ties between the Trump campaign and Russia are wondering why—and they’re beginning to take a closer look at the president’s accounts with his favorite bank, which also happens to have strong ties to Russia itself.

The New York Times reports that banking regulators are currently “reviewing hundreds of millions of dollars in loans made to Mr. Trump’s businesses through Deutsche Bank’s private wealth management unit . . . to [see] if the loans might expose the bank to heightened risk.” Meanwhile, the Guardian reports that executives at Deutsche are “expecting that the bank will soon be receiving subpoenas or other requests for information from Robert Mueller,” and that the special counsel’s investigative team and the bank have “already established informal contact in connection to the federal investigation.”

There’s certainly plenty to look into. Over the last 20 years, Trump has received more than $4 billion in loan commitments and potential bond offerings from the German lender, despite suing the company in 2008 when he fell behind on payments on the $640 million loan he was given to build Trump International Hotel & Tower in Chicago. Incredibly, in order to avoid paying the $40 million he had personally guaranteed, Trump and his lawyer argued that “Deutsche Bank is one of the banks primarily responsible for the economic dysfunction we are currently facing”—i.e. the global financial crisis—and therefore it should pay him $3 billion in damages under the extraordinary event clause in his contract. Naturally, the bank countersued, calling the real-estate developer’s claim “classic Trump.” In the end, after threatening to take his name off the building if he wasn’t granted more time to pay, the bank gave Trump extra time; when he did pay the money he owed to the firm’s real-estate lending division, it was with another loan he got from Deutsche’s wealth-management unit. Trump subsequently moved his business from the real estate group to the private wealth management group, where, according to the Times, “executives were more willing to deal with him.” One of those executives was Rosemary Vrablic, who has helped finance three Trump properties over the last six years, lending $300 million in the process. That amount is “somewhat unusual by Wall Street standards,” former and current Deutsche Bank executives and wealth managers at other firms on Wall Street told the Times.

In addition to Donald, Ivanka Trump is also said to be a Deutsche Bank client, as is Jared Kushner and his mother, who, per the Times, have “an unsecured line of credit from Deutsche Bank, valued at up to $25 million.” In addition, the Kushner family business, Kushner Companies, got a $285 million loan from the bank last year. And because the Kushners and Trumps have never shied away from conflicts of interest, in 2013, Kushner reportedly “ordered up a glowing profile of [Vrablic] in the real estate magazine he owned,” with a disclosure about their connection at the very end of the piece.

Apart from the Trumps and Kushners, Deutsche Bank also has deep ties to Russia. In addition to settling allegations earlier this year that it allowed $10 billion to be laundered out of Eastern Europe, Deutsche Bank had a “cooperation agreement” with Vnesheconombank, a Russian state-owned development bank that is the target of U.S. economic sanctions. Vnesheconombank, for those who need a refresher, was the bank whose chief executive, Sergey Gorkov, Jared Kushner forgot to mention meeting in December. Oh, and there’s also this:

. . . in May, federal prosecutors settled a case with a Cyprus investment vehicle owned by a Russian businessman with close family connections to the Kremlin. The firm, Prevezon Holdings, was represented by Natalia Veselnitskaya, the Russian lawyer who was among the people who met during the presidential campaign with Donald Trump Jr. about Hillary Clinton. Federal prosecutors in the United States claimed Prevezon, which admitted no wrongdoing, laundered the proceeds of an alleged Russian tax fraud through real estate. Prevezon and its partner relied in part on $90 million in financing from a big European financial institution, court records show. It was Deutsche Bank.

In an interview with the Times published late Wednesday night, Trump, when asked if he thought Mueller’s investigation would “cross a red line” if it began to examine his “family’s finances beyond any relationship to Russia,” said “I would say yes. I think that’s a violation.”

Full ScreenPhotos:Wall Street’s 12 Most Salacious Scandals

MARTHA STEWARTThe domestic doyenne, known primarily for teaching a whole class of homemakers the virtues of a perfectly-timed soufflé or a perfectly-folded sheet, imperfectly found herself in the Big House for five months in 2004, after she was convicted for conspiracy and obstruction of justice related to selling shares of drugmaker ImClone Systems.

Photo: Photo-Illustration by Ben Park; From NBC/Getty Images (Stewart).

MARTIN SHKRELIThe so-called “pharma-bro” created a national media frenzy when he hiked the price of a lifesaving drug by 5,000 percent overnight in 2015, and continued to fan the flames by buying a $2 million single-copy Wu-Tang Clan album and picking fights with presidential candidates. In the midst of the firestorm, he also got arrested and charged with 8 counts of fraud after prosecutors accusing him of using a public drug company he ran as a personal piggybank to pay back investors whose money he lost at his now-defunct hedge funds.

Photo: Photo-Illustration by Ben Park; From Getty Images (Shkreli).

BERNIE MADOFFThe name Bernie Madoff has become synonymous with reprehensible greed after the Wall Street fraudster was caught stealing his victims’ fortunes to live like a king. Madoff was sentenced to 150 years in prison—the maximum for his crimes—after pleading guilty to 11 counts of myriad financial crimes related to a Ponzi scheme that swallowed up $10 billion of investors’ money.

Photo: Photo-Illustration by Ben Park; From Getty Images (Madoff).

ALLEN STANFORDIn the early 2000s, Allen Stanford was enjoying the spoils of a $7 billion Ponzi scheme—a knighthood awarded by Antigua, a handful of yachts, $2 billion to his name, and a cricket team of his very own. But the international fraud empire he built over the course of two decades, in which he offered phony high-interest certificates of deposit at a bank he started in Antigua, imploded. He was charged with 13 counts of wire and mail fraud, conspiracy, and money laundering and sentenced to 110 years in prison without parole.

Photo: Photo-Illustration by Ben Park; From Getty Images (Stanford).

MATHEW MARTOMAOver the course of several days in July of 2008, Mathew Martoma sealed his fate. That was when the former S.A.C. Capital portfolio manager allegedly used inside information about a clinical trial for Alzheimer’s drugs to bring in a windfall for his firm. Martoma was one of about 85 individuals who were either convicted of or pleaded guilty in the ensuing investigation that rocked Wall Street, though Martoma’s 9-year sentence was on the harsher side. A judge ruled that he also had to forfeit nearly $9.5 million in bonuses he received while working at S.A.C. in 2008, including the Boca Raton home he bought for $2 million.

Photo: Photo-Illustration by Ben Park; From Splash News (Martoma).

SAGE KELLYBy Wall Street standards, Sage Kelly had it all: a cushy, $7 million-a-year gig running Jefferies’s health-care investment-banking unit, a home in Sag Harbor, a growing family, and a group of buddies to pal around with. But it all came crashing down when his wife filed for divorce, alleging in court papers that they had engaged in a foursome with clients and that he would often take so many drugs that he would pee all over their home. Jefferies denied all of the allegations and Kelly’s wife later recanted the statements, but the banker found himself out of a job for two years.

Photo: Photo-Illustration by Ben Park; From Splash News (Kelly).

BRUNO IKSILBruno Iksil earned himself the moniker the “London Whale” for a $6.2 billion trading loss he made on J.P. Morgan’s ledger in 2012. The Frenchman, who contends that his risky trades were made at the behest of his superiors, avoided any sort of prosecution. But the bank was subject to government probes and $900 million in regulatory fines, and its C.E.O., Jamie Dimon, took a 50 percent pay cut.

Photo: Photo-Illustration by Ben Park; From Getty Images (Iksil).

Today’s Headlines and Commentary

mikenova shared this story from Lawfare – Hard National Security Choices.

U.S. satellite intelligence indicates that North Korea is testing elements and control facilities for a possible successor ICBM or intermediate range missile launch within two weeks, CNN reports. The anticipated test would be the first since the Norths launch of an ICBM on July 4. According to U.S. officials, the North also continues to test components of a submarine-launched ballistic missile, though that program remains in its infancy and is hampered by the Norths degraded fleet of an estimated 70 submarines that are believed to be incapable of firing missiles. In testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee on July 18, General Paul Selva, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, reported on an effort to equip the U.S. with a missile defense system capable of withstanding low volume missiles that might be deployed across U.S. territory, recognizing the Norths ambition to develop a missile capable of reaching the U.S. with a nuclear payload.

In an interview yesterday with the New York Times, President Trump criticized Attorney General Jeff Sessions for not informing Trump that he would recuse himself from the Justice Department investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and agents of the Russian government in the 2016 election. The President noted that had he known that Sessions would recuse,  he would have picked somebody else. He seemed to blame Sessions for the appointment of Special Counsel Bob Mueller, whom the President alleged had conflicts of interest. Trump further alleged that former FBI Director James Comey sought to use a dossier of intelligence alleging salacious details about Trump to leverage the president to let him stay on as director.

The Presidents interview with the Times comes as members close to the Trump campaign are being called to testify about allegations concerning the campaigns ties with the Russian government. White House Senior Adviser Jared Kushner is expected to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee in a closed session on Monday, July 24, while the Senate Judiciary Committee plans to call Donald Trump, Jr. and former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort to testify in an open session next Wednesday.

French President Emmanuel Macron has nominated General François Lecointre to serve as Chief of Staff of the French Armed Forces, the Times notes. Lecointres appointment follows the abrupt resignation on Wednesday of incumbent General Pierre de Villiers over concerns about Macrons proposed $979 million cut to the 2017 defense budget of $32 billion. De Villiers had taken the unusual step of publicly voicing concerns about the implications of the cut for Frances military preparedness in the first test of leadership for the new French president. Analysts suggest that Macron triumphed in this leadership battle, citing his rebuke of de Villiers in an annual speech before the armed forces on July 13 and his swift appointment of de Villiers successor, but note that other contests will follow. The French leader seeks to bring the French budget in line (for the first time in a decade) with the EU requirement to keep deficits below 3 percent of GDP. Analysts have criticized the endeavor as ill considered, given the growing set of demands on the French military in the fight against terrorism and Macrons intention to raise defense spending to 2% of GDP by 2025, in line with NATO requirements.

On Wednesday, President Trump presided over a rare meeting with his full national security team to develop a U.S. strategy in Afghanistan, the Washington Post reports. Trump previously approvedDefense Secretary Jim Mattiss request to deploy nearly four thousand additional troops to the region, but Mattis delayed taking action pending consensus on a broader U.S. strategy toward Afghanistan and Pakistan. Senior officials at the Pentagon, State Department, and White House have clashed over differing approaches to stabilizing the region and undercutting the Talibans territorial advances.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis will carry out an inquiry into the technical challenges facing the military during a listening visit with military installations later this summer, Real Clear Defense reportsThe Pentagons Defense Innovation Board, established in 2016 by former Defense Secretary Ash Carter and chaired by Google executive Eric Schmidt, is guiding Mattiss inquiry. The board has urged the Pentagon to invest in  artificial intelligence and autonomous systems, which it believes would fundamentally enhance its capabilities, and to tackle the militarys longstanding use of inflexible and outdated software that is resistant to even routine upgrades.

President Trump has nominated Mark Esper, vice president of government relations at Raytheon, to serve as Secretary of the Army. Esper is Trumps third pick for the position; he follows businessman Vincent Viola and State Senator Mark Green (R-TN), both of whom subsequently withdrew their nominations over concerns about their confirmation. Espers nomination hearings will be scheduled no sooner than September.

 

ICYMI: Yesterday, on Lawfare

Peter Margulies flagged Hawaiis response to the federal governments motion for a temporary stay of Hawaii District Court Judge Derrick Watsons injunction concerning President Trumps Refugee Executive Order (EO). The response, filed Tuesday, July 18, is available here.

Peter also explained Wednesdays Supreme Courts order regarding Trumps EO that let stand Judge Watsons injunction precluding application of the EO to foreign nationals with U.S. relatives, but authorized its application to refugees who had received assurances from refugee agencies of resettlement in the U.S.

Paul Rosenzweig posted a reply to Scarlet Kim and Mailyn Fidlers July 11 critique of the proposed U.S.-U.K. agreement for cross-border data requests, arguing in favor of the bilateral agreement.

Ben Wittes highlighted the latest episode of Rational Security, entitled the Wray of Sunshine edition.

Matthew Kahn posted FBI director nominee Christopher Wrays written responses to the Senate Judiciary Committees questions for the record. Wray submitted his responses on Monday, July 17; the full document is available here.

Email the Roundup Team noteworthy law and security-related articles to include, and follow us on Twitter and Facebook for additional commentary on these issues. Sign up to receive Lawfare in your inbox. Visit our Events Calendar to learn about upcoming national security events, and check out relevant job openings on our Job Board.

Even with Trump warning, Mueller likely to probe finances

mikenova shared this story .

Posted: Jul 20, 2017 5:08 AM EDT Updated: Jul 20, 2017 6:48 PM EDT

(AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin). White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, center, arrives for the opening of the U.S.-China Comprehensive Economic Dialogue, Wednesday, July 19, 2017, at the Treasury Department in Washington.(AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin). White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, center, arrives for the opening of the U.S.-China Comprehensive Economic Dialogue, Wednesday, July 19, 2017, at the Treasury Department in Washington.

(AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko). In this July 11, 2017, photo, Natalia Veselnitskaya speaks to journalists in Moscow, Russia.  The Russian lawyer at the center of the June 2016 meeting with Donald Trump Jr. is known for her work trying to roll back...(AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko). In this July 11, 2017, photo, Natalia Veselnitskaya speaks to journalists in Moscow, Russia. The Russian lawyer at the center of the June 2016 meeting with Donald Trump Jr. is known for her work trying to roll back…

By CHAD DAY
Associated PressWASHINGTON (AP) – President Donald Trump’s growing anxiety about the federal Russia probe has spilled into public view with his warning that special counsel Robert Mueller would be out of bounds if he dug into the Trump family’s finances. But that’s a line that Mueller seems sure to cross.

Several of Trump’s family members and close advisers have already become ensnared in the investigations, including son Donald Trump Jr. and son-in-law and White House senior adviser Jared Kushner. Probing the family’s sprawling business ties would bring an investigation the president has called a partisan “witch hunt” even closer to the Oval Office.

Trump told The New York Times it would be a “violation” of Mueller’s formal charge if he looked into the president’s personal finances.

That comment came amid news reports that the special counsel is interested in Trump’s business transactions with Russians and with one of his main lenders, Deutsche Bank.

In the same interview with the Times, Trump also lashed out at Attorney General Jeff Sessions; James Comey, the FBI director he fired; Andrew McCabe, the acting FBI director who replaced Comey, and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who appointed the special counsel. The president’s comments were a reminder of Trump’s willingness to target his own appointees and blur lines that have traditionally existed between the White House and Justice Department investigations.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Thursday that Trump had no intention of firing Mueller “at this time,” but she did not rule out doing so in the future. She also reiterated Trump’s concern about the scope of Mueller’s investigation, saying it “should stay in the confines of meddling, Russia meddling, and the election and nothing beyond that.”

California Rep. Adam Schiff, top Democrat on the House intelligence committee, said Mueller has the authority to investigate any ties the Trump family has to Russia, “including financial, and anything that arises. That is his duty.”

William Jeffress, a longtime defense attorney at Baker Botts who represented former President Richard Nixon, said Mueller’s inquiry will almost certainly involve examining financial information as he looks for any connections between Trump associates and Russia. And he said Trump’s threats toward Mueller aren’t helping his case.

“If I were his lawyer, I would be telling him to dial it down,” Jeffress said.

The White House push against the special counsel’s probe comes as the outlines of the investigation are beginning to become clearer.

Bloomberg reported Thursday that Mueller’s investigators are looking into Trump business transactions with Russians including apartment purchases in his buildings, a controversial New York development project, the multimillion-dollar sale of a Florida home and the 2013 Miss Universe pageant held in Moscow.

The Times also reported that federal investigators have been in talks with Deutsche Bank about obtaining records related to his finances, and that the bank expects it will have to provide information to Mueller.

Deutsche Bank has been one of the few major institutions willing to regularly lend to Trump, who alienated large banks in New York with his past financial troubles and confrontational behavior as a borrower. Over the years, the bank’s cumulative loans to Trump add up to billions, and loans originally worth $300 million remain outstanding.

But lending to Trump hasn’t always been easy for Deutsche Bank. In 2008, he sued the bank for $3 billion after he defaulted on a loan for Trump Tower Chicago, using a novel legal theory that he shouldn’t be held to the terms of his contract due to Deutsche Bank’s involvement in the broader financial crisis.

That eventually led the bank to grant Trump some concessions on the loan, but the suit scarred his relationship with its commercial lending division. Afterward, Deutsche’s Trump relationship was transferred to Rosemary Vrablic, a banker in Deutsche’s private wealth division.

Democrats have seized on Trump’s relationship with the bank. Rep. Maxine Waters of California, the ranking Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee, has called for the Treasury Department to turn over any documents related to the relationship between the bank and Trump or his family members. She also called on Treasury to turn over any evidence of financial dealing between Trump and Russian banks or government officials. So far, her requests have been rebuffed because Republicans have not signed on.

Trump has denied having any financial dealings with Russia, though the spotlight on his business connections there has intensified since the revelation that a meeting between members of the Trump’s campaign’s inner circle and a Russian lawyer was brokered by a wealthy family involved in Trump’s 2013 Miss Universe contest in Moscow.

Trump Jr., Kushner, and former campaign chairman Paul Manafort are being called before Senate committees next week to talk about the 2016 campaign, though it’s not yet clear if all three will agree to appear. They will almost certainly face questions about their attendance at the June 2016 meeting arranged via emails that advertised it would reveal damaging information about Trump’s Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton.

According to emails released by the younger Trump, the meeting was put together at the request of Emin Agalarov, a Moscow-based pop singer, whose real-estate tycoon father, Aras, paid $20 million for Trump to stage the Miss Universe contest in Moscow in 2013.

Trump spent considerable time with the Agalarovs while in Moscow, attending the younger Agalarov’s birthday party and appearing alongside him in a music video. Trump also explored the idea of partnering with Aras Agalarov in a Trump Tower in Moscow, though the deal never materialized.

___

Associated Press writers Ken Thomas, Jeff Horwitz, Jonathan Lemire and Eric Tucker in Washington and David Pitt in Des Moines, Iowa, contributed to this report.

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

russian mafia – Google Search

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Married to the Mob: Investigative Journalist Craig Unger on What …

Democracy Now!3 hours ago
A new exposé and cover story in the September issue of the New Republic, titled “Married to the Mob: What Trump Owes the Russian Mafia,” …
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Mueller is now looking into ties between Russia and Trump’s …

Boing Boing41 minutes ago
In “Trump’s Russian Laundromat,” veteran journalist Craig Unger details how the Russian mafia has used the president’s properties—including …
Does it matter if Trump is in bed with Russia?
InternationalRed Flag17 hours ago

Story image for russian mafia from New Republic

Trump’s Russian Laundromat

New RepublicJul 13, 2017
At the time, Russian mobsters were beginning to invest in high-end real estate, …. But the fact that a top Russian mafia boss lived and worked in …

New Republic August/September Issue: Trump’s Russian Laundromat

New RepublicJul 13, 2017
In “Trump’s Russian Laundromat,” veteran journalist Craig Unger details how the Russian mafia has used the president’s properties—including …
German Intelligence – Google Search

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Story image for German Intelligence from Telegraph.co.uk

German intelligence accused of ‘spying on USA’

Telegraph.co.ukJun 22, 2017
But according to new allegations published by Spiegel magazine on Thursday, Germany’s BND intelligence service carried out electronic …
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Deutsche Welle

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Newsweek

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The Independent

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RT

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The Local Germany
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Links Reviewed on 7.19.17 #TrumpRussia Trump Links and News trump Google Search trump jr Google Search Jared Kushner Google Search Image Trump Investigations Google Search Trump Investigations Google Search bannon kushner Google Search Stephen K. Bannon Google Search bannon Google Search mike flynn Google … Continue reading“Links Reviewed on 7.19.17”

Deutsche Bank expects subpoenas over Trump-Russia investigation

mikenova shared this story from Trump Investigations.

Deutsche Bank expects subpoenas over Trump-Russia investigation https://t.co/fVDi3S5U8b Mike Nova (@mikenov) July 20, 2017


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