TRUMP ON BANNON ARREST: ‘Sad’ But ‘Nothing To Do With Me’

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Thursday reacted to the arrest of Steve Bannon, who once served as one of the president’s closest advisors.

“I haven’t been dealing with him for a long period of time as most of the people in the room know,” Trump told reporters. “He was involved in our campaign. He worked for a lot of companies, but he was involved likewise in our campaign and for a small part of the administration, very early on. I haven’t been dealing with him at all.”

Bannon and three other individuals, Brian Kolfage, Andrew Badolato, and Timothy Shaw, were arrested early Thursday on charges that they had “orchestrated a scheme to defraud hundreds of thousands of dollars” in connection with the “We Build The Wall” online fundraising campaign.

Authorities allege the foursome used hundreds of thousands of dollars from a crowdfunding campaign that raised more than $25 million to build a wall along the U.S. southern border for their own purposes.

“I know nothing about the project other than I didn’t like when I read about it, I didn’t like it,” Trump said. “I said this is for government, this isn’t for private people. It sounded to me like showboating. I think I let my opinion be very strongly stated at the time I didn’t like it. It was showboating and maybe looking for funds…I don’t know that he was in charge. I don’t know any of the other people either.”

“I don’t think that should be a privately financed wall,” the president added. “It’s too complex and too big.

When asked by reporters about others from his 2016 presidential campaign who have since been arrested and convicted, including former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, campaign manager Paul Manafort, attorney Michael Cohen and confidant Roger Stone, Trump lashed back.

“They spied on our campaign illegally and if you look at all of the things and all of the scandals they had, they had tremendous lawlessness.”

SENTENCED: Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort sentenced to 7 and a half years

WASHINGTON– Paul Manafort, the former chair of Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, was sentenced Tuesday to additional 43 months on federal conspiracy charges, bringing his sentence between two federal courts to 7.5 years.

Manafort, 69, was sentenced by district court Judge Amy Berman Jackson in Washington, D.C. on two criminal charges: conspiracy against the US and conspiracy witness tampering, which he pled guilty to last November.

In August a Virginia court found Manafort guilty of five counts of filing false tax returns, two counts of bank fraud and one count of failing to report overseas bank accounts.

“He engaged in crime, again and again. He has not learned a harsh lesson,” prosecutor Andrew Weissmann told the court, referring to the witness tampering charge. “He served to undermine — not promote — American ideals of honesty, transparency and playing by the rules.”

Manafort’s attorneys had argued that he may have received a lesser sentence had he not been caught up in the Robert Mueller investigation — a probe into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election that has gone on for almost two years.

Manafort, for his part, was more contrite but reminded the judge of his advancing age.

“I am sorry for what I’ve done,” Manafort told the courtroom. “Let me be very clear, I accept the responsibility for the acts that caused me to be here today. Please let my wife and I be together.”

“That argument falls flat,” Jackson shot back. “Saying, ‘I’m sorry I got caught,’ is not an inspiring plea for leniency. Court is one of those places where facts still matter.”

“It is hard to overstate the number of lies and the amount of fraud and the extraordinary amount of money involved,” Jackson said. “There is no explanation that would warrant the leniency requested.”

In a statement, Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani said prosecutors “should be ashamed” of their treatment of Manafort.

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HE’S BAAAAACK: Mueller reemerges with questions about Trump, Russia

WASHINGTON (AP) — Robert Mueller is back.

After a quiet few months in the run-up to the midterm elections, the special counsel’s Russia investigation is heating up again with a string of tantalizing new details emerging this week.

None of it answers the central question: Did Donald Trump and his campaign coordinate with Russia to help him win America’s 2016 presidential election. But the new evidence does make clear that some in Trump’s orbit recognized his Russia connections were a problem — so they lied about them.

Mueller has indicated there are more criminal charges to come.

Here’s a look at the key lines of inquiry, what we know and what we don’t.

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WHAT’S THE LATEST?

It’s been a busy week.

On Thursday, Michael Cohen, the longtime Trump lawyer and legal fixer, pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about his efforts during the 2016 campaign to line up a Trump Tower Moscow project. The plea was significant because it prominently featured Trump and conversations he and his family had with Cohen about the project.

Prosecutors did not accuse Trump or his grown children of any wrongdoing. But Cohen said he lied to be consistent with Trump’s “political messaging.”

The surprise plea came just days after prosecutors revealed that former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s separate plea deal fell apart over allegations that he lied to investigators, a development that could lead to new charges .

Draft court documents made public this week also revealed that Mueller made a plea offer to Jerome Corsi, a conservative writer and conspiracy theorist. The documents accused Corsi of lying about his discussions with Trump confidant Roger Stone about WikiLeaks during the 2016 campaign.

American intelligence agencies and Mueller have said Russia was the source of hacked material released by WikiLeaks during the campaign that damaged Hillary Clinton’s presidential effort. Mueller’s office is trying to determine whether Corsi and Stone had advance knowledge of WikiLeaks’ plans.

Corsi has denied lying and rejected the plea offer. Stone has also denied having any contact with WikiLeaks or knowledge of its plans.

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WHAT DO WE KNOW FOR SURE?

There were a lot of contacts between Russia and people close to Trump. And the Kremlin mounted a large-scale operation that sought to hurt Hillary Clinton and help Trump, according to Mueller and U.S intelligence agencies .

In public court filings, Mueller has woven a narrative of events that he believes are significant. They include contacts between a little-known campaign foreign policy adviser and Russian intermediaries, conversations the president and his family had with Cohen about a proposed Trump Tower Moscow and contacts between senior advisers in Trump’s incoming administration and Russian officials during the transition period.

Much of that has become public because key participants — Cohen, ex-National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and ex-Trump campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos— lied to federal agents about it.

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WHAT REMAINS UNKNOWN?

Mueller has yet to answer definitively the central questions in the Russia probe.

Did any Trump associates coordinate with Russia in an attempt to sway the 2016 presidential election? And did the president cross the line and obstruct justice in his efforts to stymie the Russia investigation?

Mueller’s team is also intently focused on WikiLeaks and whether anyone close to Trump or his campaign knew in advance about the group’s plans to release the material hacked by Russia.

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WHO HAS BEEN ACCUSED OF CRIMES?

Thirty-three people and three companies.

Since Mueller’s appointment in May 2017, he’s obtained guilty pleas from seven people including five involved in the Trump campaign. Flynn and Papadopoulos both admitted to lying about their contacts with Russians or Russian intermediaries.

Mueller also brought a series of charges against Manafort over undisclosed foreign lobbying on behalf of Ukraine and millions of dollars that were never reported to the IRS. Manafort was convicted by a jury of eight felony counts. His right-hand man, Rick Gates, took a plea deal , and Mueller brought obstruction charges against Konstantin Kilimnik, a Manafort associate who prosecutors say has ties to Russian intelligence.

In addition, Mueller has brought sweeping indictments against Russians. That includes charging 13 Russians and three companies with orchestrating a covert effort to flood American social media with disinformation to sow discord during the U.S. election campaign. One company is fighting the charges. Twelve Russian intelligence officers were also accused of hacking Democratic organizations during the 2016 campaign.

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WHAT ABOUT TRUMP?

The president is angry to the point of boiling about the Mueller probe — and he’s hinted he may do something about it.

Trump has heightened his attacks in recent weeks, blasting the special counsel as corrupt and unethical. He’s even accused Mueller of pressuring people to lie.

In a tweet, Trump floated the idea of giving those caught up in the investigation some ”relief .” And this week, he said he hasn’t ruled out a pardon for Manafort.

All of this came as his attorneys turned over Trump’s written answers to Mueller’s questions about his knowledge of any ties between his campaign and Russia.

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WHEN WILL WE FIND OUT MORE?

It’s not clear.

Mueller’s indictments and guilty pleas are not announced ahead of time. The special counsel also hasn’t said when he will complete any report of his findings.

But there are several deadlines coming up where Mueller will have to disclose at least some new details about his investigation.

Next week, prosecutors will have to disclose what lies they say Manafort told them after he agreed to cooperate. Prosecutors will also have lay out the nature of the cooperation by Cohen and Flynn in the next few weeks.

All of those filings will be closely watched to see what they say about where Mueller is going.

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Chad Day of the Associated Press contributed to the contents of this report.

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REPORT: Trump says Manafort pardon ‘not off the table’

WASHINGTON (AP) — The breakdown of a plea deal with former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and a news report about contacts he may have had with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange have thrown a new element of uncertainty into the Trump-Russia investigation.

Manafort on Tuesday adamantly denied a Guardian report that he secretly met with Assange around March 2016.

The developments thrust Manafort back into the investigation spotlight, raising new questions about what he knows and what prosecutors say he might be attempting to conceal as they probe Russian election interference and any possible coordination with Trump associates

All the while, Manafort’s lawyers have been briefing Trump’s attorneys on what their client has told investigators, a highly unusual arrangement that could give Trump ammunition in his feud against special counsel Robert Mueller.

Meanwhile, Trump said on Wednesday that he’s never discussed pardoning his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, but says it’s “not off the table.”

In an interview with the New York Post, Trump asked rhetorically: “Why would I take it off the table?”

Prosecutors have accused Manafort of repeatedly lying to them and violating his agreement to tell all in return for a lighter sentence.

There also are new questions about what Manafort knows and what prosecutors say he might be attempting to conceal as they probe Russian election interference and possible coordination with Trump associates in the campaign.

According to reports, Manafort’s lawyers have been briefing Trump’s attorneys on what their client has told investigators. The arrangement could give Trump ammunition in his fight against special counsel Mueller.

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TRUMP’S RAGE: President slams Mueller as ‘conflicted prosecutor gone rogue’

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Tuesday swung back at special counsel Robert Mueller and his team of investigators as a “gang of angry dems” after it was revealed that Mueller, charged with investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 election, is expected to wrap his investigation soon.

“The Phony Witch Hunt continues, but Mueller and his gang of Angry Dems are only looking at one side, not the other. Wait until it comes out how horribly & viciously they are treating people, ruining lives for them refusing to lie. Mueller is a conflicted prosecutor gone rogue,” the president tweeted first thing Tuesday morning.

“The Fake News Media builds Bob Mueller up as a Saint, when in actuality he is the exact opposite. He is doing TREMENDOUS damage to our Criminal Justice System, where he is only looking at one side and not the other. Heroes will come of this, and it won’t be Mueller and his… terrible Gang of Angry Democrats,” the president wrote in a follow-up tweet.

“Look at their past, and look where they come from. The now $30,000,000 Witch Hunt continues and they’ve got nothing but ruined lives,” Trump carried on. “Where is the Server? Let these terrible people go back to the Clinton Foundation and “Justice” Department!”

The president’s comments mark the second time in as many days that he has taken to Twitter to vent his frustrations over the ongoing investigation.

Prosecutors with Mueller’s legal team told a judge Monday that Paul Manafort, the president’s former campaign chairman, breached his cooperation agreement with Mueller and lied to federal investigators. He was convicted of financial crimes in late August.

The president has denied any wrongdoing in the investigation into Russian collusion.

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MANAFORT TRIAL: Judge’s need for speed jolts prosecution off its game

ALEXANDRIA, VA (BLOOMBERG) — U.S. prosecutors want to tell a jury about Paul Manafort’s lavish lifestyle and spending habits to support their claim that he failed to pay taxes on offshore income and defrauded banks. The judge isn’t making it easy for them.

U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III, who’s repeatedly said he wants the trial to move fast, is living up to his word. On Wednesday, just the second day of the trial, he forced prosecutors to race through evidence and cut them off when they spent too long on a topic. The judge’s obvious irritation appeared to disorient prosecutors, who typically are given more latitude in questioning witnesses and displaying documents. Ellis was having none of that.

“The more I can do to shorten this thing the better,” Ellis told prosecutors in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia. “Then you get to go home and I get to go home.”

The pressure from the judge may be having an effect. Prosecutors initially estimated the trial would last three weeks. On Wednesday, with a fourth witness already on the stand, they said things were moving so quickly they should be able to wrap up their case next week.

The judge and prosecutors clashed several times during testimony from FBI Special Agent Matthew Mikuska. He recounted an early-morning raid on Manafort’s condominium in July 2017, when agents knocked three times and entered with a key they obtained. Through the agent, Assistant U.S. Attorney Uzo Asonye tried to show jurors photographs and documents about Manafort’s luxurious lifestyle and how he paid for the trappings from accounts in Cyprus.

Manafort used untaxed offshore money to buy $849,000 of clothes from a New York store, $520,000 of clothes from a Beverly Hills store, and $934,350 of goods from an antique store, according to the prosecutors. Among his clothes was a $15,000 ostrich jacket, prosecutors said.

When Mikuska was asked about the number of suits he found in Manafort’s condo, the agent said: “It’s hard to quantify, but easily closets full.”

But Ellis refused to let jurors see pictures of the garments. “Let’s move on,” he told Asonye.

With the jury out of the room, Ellis criticized prosecutors for what he saw as an excessive focus on Manafort’s luxurious lifestyle and their efforts to introduce evidence of it through the FBI agent.

“Enough is enough,” the judge said. Referring to photos of Manafort’s fancy clothes, Ellis asked how it would advance the case. He pressed prosecutors on whether they could tie the clothes to the money Manafort made.

Ellis forced Asonye to move so quickly through the FBI agent’s evidence that jurors got no context or explanation for the exhibits they saw briefly on their video monitors. Ellis also refused to display a photograph of former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych that he had admitted into evidence, and he only briefly allowed jurors to see a picture of Manafort’s condo building.

“Can you describe the building?” Asonye asked the FBI agent.

“They can see the building,” Ellis interjected. He then asked the agent: “Is somewhere in this building what you searched, a condo you searched?” When Mikuska said yes, Ellis said: “Alright, let’s move on.”

After sending jurors out for their morning break, Ellis, still visibly annoyed, told the lawyers the case was about whether Manafort signed false income tax returns that failed to disclose foreign accounts and omitted income.

Ellis said he was unclear about how Asonye planned to tie Manafort’s money to an exhibit on home improvements. “Is it just that Mr. Manafort is awash in money?” Ellis asked.

As the testimony rolled on, with an executive from what’s billed as the “world’s most expensive store,” prosecutors seemed to be adapting to Ellis’s directives, focusing more on how Manafort used wire transfers from Cyprus bank accounts to pay for the clothes, than the clothes themselves.

Before the jury came in for the second day, Ellis told Asonye he used the word “oligarch” too often in his opening statement. The prosecutor had described Ukrainian oligarchs who funded Yanukovych’s Party of Regions, which Manafort advised for several years. Ellis said he won’t allow the word to come up again.

“The word oligarch has come to have a pejorative meaning about which there will be no evidence at trial,” Ellis said. After saying prosecutors could submit written arguments on the matter, the judge said: “We’re not going to have this case tried that he associated with despicable people and therefore he’s despicable. That’s not the American way.”

The biggest surprise of the day came when Ellis asked about a document referring to Manafort’s former right-hand man Rick Gates, who has pleaded guilty and is cooperating with Mueller. In his opening statement on Tuesday, Manafort attorney Thomas Zehnle called Gates a thief and a liar who betrayed his boss to line his own pockets.

Ellis asked if prosecutors intended to call Gates as a witness.

“We’re not sure,” Asonye said. “He may testify in this case, your honor. He may not.”

Reporters bolted for the door with the juicy news flash that Mueller’s team might not call its star witness after all.

Ellis looked bemused. “That was news to me, by the way, and obviously to about 25 people who scurried out of here like rats on a sinking ship,” he said.

“As the evidence comes in, we constantly re-evaluate whether we need to call certain witnesses,’’ Asonye responded. “It’s not to suggest we’re not calling him, but obviously if we can shorten the trial, we will do so. And that applies to every witness that we put on the list, not just Mr. Gates.’’

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REPORT: Jury selected in trial of former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) — A jury set to decide the fate of President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort was selected Tuesday, and opening statements in his tax evasion and bank fraud trial were expected in the afternoon.

It’s the first trial arising from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into potential ties between the Trump presidential campaign and Russia. Four alternate jurors were selected in addition to the panel of six men and six women.

While prosecutors weren’t expected to address the question of possible collusion between Trump and Russia, Manafort’s case was widely viewed as a test to the legitimacy of Mueller’s ongoing probe, which Trump has dismissed as a “witch hunt.”

“There was No Collusion (except by Crooked Hillary and the Democrats)!” Trump tweeted early Tuesday.

Manafort, who is already in custody and could spend the rest of his life in jail, appeared in the federal courtroom in Alexandria, in a dark suit with his wife, Kathleen.

He is accused of trying to hide tens of millions of dollars in Ukrainian political consulting fees and using that money to fund a lavish lifestyle. He is the only American charged by Mueller to opt for a trial.

Prosecutors have lined up 35 witnesses and more than 500 pieces of evidence they say will show how Manafort earned more than $60 million from his Ukrainian work and then concealed a “significant percentage” of that money from the IRS. Prosecutors will also argue that Manafort fraudulently obtained millions more in bank loans, including during his time on the campaign.

The pool of jurors faced questions from both sides and U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III as they tried to weed out potential prejudice in what has become a highly publicized and politically divisive investigation.

Prosecutors say they will introduce evidence that a chairman of one of the banks allowed Manafort to file inaccurate loan information in exchange for a role on the Republican campaign and the promise of a job in the Trump administration that never materialized.

Before the start of jury selection Tuesday, prosecutors filed an expanded list of its evidence exhibits, including several email chains between Manafort and Stephen Calk, the Chicago bank chairman. The added evidence also appears to include documents related to bank accounts in Cyprus.

At the center of much of the trial will be another Trump campaign aide, Rick Gates, who spent years working for Manafort in Ukraine and is also accused of helping him falsify paperwork used to obtain the bank loans. Gates, who cut a plea deal with Mueller earlier this year, is expected to testify against his former mentor.

Gates is also expected to play a key role in Manafort’s second trial, scheduled for September. That trial, set in the District of Columbia, involves allegations that the longtime political consultant acted as an unregistered foreign agent for Ukrainian interests and made false statements to the U.S. government.

The other 31 people charged by Mueller so far have either pleaded guilty or are Russians seen as unlikely to enter an American courtroom. Three Russian companies have also been charged. One of those companies has pleaded not guilty and is fighting the allegations in federal court in Washington.

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Associated Press Writer Stephen Braun contributed to this report.

Former Trump Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort Bond Hearing

Judge orders former campaign chairman Paul Manafort jailed citing new charges

Washington, D.C. — A federal judge on Friday ordered former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort sent to jail citing new obstruction charges.

Manafort, the first Trump campaign official to be jailed as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, had previously posted a $10 million bond and was under house arrest while awaiting a September trial on charges relating to money laundering and making false statements.

U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson said Friday she had “struggled” to decide whether or not she should order Manafort to jail but that, in the end, she “couldn’t turn a blind eye” to Manafort’s actions.

“You have abused the trust placed in you six months ago,” Jackson said before ordering Manafort jailed. “This is not middle school,” added. “I can’t take away his cellphone.”

In a tweet on Friday, Trump defended Manafort and called out the judicial system for playing favorites in regard to wrongdoings committed by former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

“Wow, what a tough sentence for Paul Manafort, who has represented Ronald Reagan, Bob Dole and many other top political people and campaigns,” Mr. Trump wrote. “Didn’t know Manafort was the head of the Mob. What about Comey and Crooked Hillary and all of the others? Very unfair!”

A federal grand jury, last week, indicted Manafort and a longtime associate, Konstantin Kilimnik, on charges of obstruction of justice and conspiracy to obstruct justice, adding to the multiple felony counts Manafort already faced.

In the indictment, investigators for Special Counsel Robert Meuller’s office claimed Manafort and Konstantin had contacted two witnesses earlier this year and attempted to persuade them to testify that Mr. Manafort had never lobbied in the United States for Viktor F. Yanukovych, the pro-Russia president of Ukraine.

The government alleges that Mr. Manafort violated the law by failing to report those lobbying efforts to the Justice Department and by lying to federal authorities about his activities.

The charges against Manafort, however, do not relate to his work on the Trump campaign or involve allegations of Russian election interference.

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PROBING PODESTA: Mueller investigation branches out to brother of Clinton campaign chair

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Tony Podesta, a powerful Democratic lobbyist, and brother of former Clinton campaign John Podesta, is now the subject of a federal investigation being led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, according to published reports.

Podesta, who became a subject of interest after inquiries regarding former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s finances came to light, was allegedly behind a PR campaign for a pro-Ukraine nonprofit called the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine (ECMU). According to an NBC report, the campaign was backed by pro-Russia affiliates (https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/mueller-now-investigating-democratic-lobbyist-tony-podesta-n812776).

Mueller, who is leading an investigation into alleged attempts by Russia to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election, is reportedly looking into whether Podesta and his company, The Podesta Group, violated the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) which “requires persons acting as agents of foreign principals in a political or quasi-political capacity to make periodic public disclosure of their relationship with the foreign principal, as well as activities, receipts and disbursements in support of those activities” (https://www.fara.gov/0) .

In a statement released on Monday, a spokesperson for The Podesta Group claimed the organization was in compliance and “fully cooperating” with Mueller and his team of investigators.

“The Podesta Group fully disclosed its representation of the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine (ECFMU), and complied with FARA by filing under the lobbying disclosure act over five years ago and within weeks of starting our work,” the spokesperson said. “Any insinuation to the contrary is false. The Podesta Group has fully cooperated with the Special Counsel’s office and taken every possible step to provide documentation that confirms compliance with the law. Based on our due diligence and on the recommendation of definitive legal experts, the firm immediately filed the appropriate public disclosures of its representation of the ECFMU over five years ago, and in eight subsequent public filings.”

Mueller issued grand jury subpoenas last August for the firms that worked on the public image campaign run by Manafort and although the interest was initially geared toward examining collusion on the part of President Trump, the latest findings in the investigation seem to indicate that it was Democrats, not Republicans, who worked closely to secure Russian interests.

According to a report published by Fox News (http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2017/10/23/report-mueller-probe-expands-to-democratic-lobbyist-tony-podestas-russia-dealings.html) the House Oversight committee has started looking into the Obama-era deal in which a Russian-backed company bought a uranium firm with mines in the United States.

“I’ve spoken with the confidential informant that helped the FBI uncover this bribery scheme,” DeSantis, R-Fla., a member of the oversight committee, told Fox. “Clearly, it’s in the public’s interest that this individual be able to tell his story to Congress.”

When asked whether or not the recent revelations could mean charges against key members of the Obama administration, including former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, DeSatis responded: “It could be criminal. Yes.”

As reported on Monday by The Hill (http://thehill.com/policy/national-security/355749-fbi-uncovered-russian-bribery-plot-before-obama-administration), the FBI has “obtained an eyewitness account -backed by documents- indicating Russian nuclear officials had routed millions of dollars to the U.S. designed to benefit former President Bill Clinton’s charitable foundation… during the time Secretary of State Hillary Clinton served on a government body that provided a favorable decision to Moscow.”

Despite the mounting allegations against Clinton, the former Democratic candidate denies any wrongdoing.

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SUBPOENAED: TRUMP CAMPAIGN MANAGER PAUL MANAFORT CALLED TO TESTIFY IN RUSSIA PROBE

WASHINGTON, D.C. — President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort has been subpoenaed to testify at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing to investigate alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign, scheduled for Wednesday.

The unexpected legal maneuver came after officials say members of the committee could not coerce Manafort into a private Q&A with investigators.

“While we were willing to accommodate Mr. Manafort’s request to cooperate with the committee’s investigation without appearing at Wednesday’s hearing, we were unable to reach an agreement for a voluntary transcribed interview with the Judiciary Committee,” Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said in a joint statement released on Tuesday.

The Judiciary Committee initially said it would not subpoena Mr Manafort, as he had agreed to negotiate a private meeting. But negotiations quickly broke down when Manafort pulled back and agreed only to a single, transcribed interview to Congress that would not be made available to the Judiciary Committee.

“We need answers. That’s why the Judiciary Committee issued a subpoena for Paul Manafort,” Ms Feinstein tweeted on Tuesday.

The subpoena comes after both Manafort and the president’s son, Donald Trump, Jr., were called to give testimony on what, if any, information they have in regard to Russian efforts to sway the outcome of the 2016 election.

Likely a topic of great interest to lawmakers will be the attendance by the pair at a June 9, 2016 meeting at Trump Tower with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya and her associates, who reports say offered to help provide “dirt” on then political rival Hillary Clinton. Manafort attended the meeting along with Trump Jr. and Trump, Sr.’s son in law, Jared Kushner, who said he left in the middle of the meeting. The threesome admit to attending the meeting but say it was counterproductive and that no useful information was obtained.

According to Manafort’s attorney, Jason Maloni, Manafort spoke to investigators for the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday morning to avoid another subpoena, but the subpoena issued by the Judiciary Committee still stands.

“Paul Manafort met this morning, by previous agreement, with the bipartisan staff of the Senate Intelligence Committee and answered their questions fully,” Maloni said.

For his part, the president took to Twitter on Tuesday morning to call the probe into his staff a “witch hunt”.

“Jared Kushner did very well yesterday in proving he did not collude with the Russians,” Trump wrote on Twitter in regard to Kushner’s testimony before the investigative panel. “Witch Hunt. Next up, 11 year old Barron Trump!”

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