Last week in one sentence: We know three answers Trump gave to Mueller: (1) Roger Stone did not tell him about Wikileaks; (2) he did not know about the 2016 Trump Tower meeting; and (3) he was not aware of the change to the RNC's convention platform in favor of Russia.
Manafort: We found out Manafort breached his plea agreement by repeatedly lying to Mueller, which could result in new charges; after agreeing to cooperate, Manafort's attorney repeatedly briefed Trump's lawyers on their discussions with Mueller's team; Trump said a pardon for Manafort was still a possibility; Manafort secretly met with Julian Assange three times inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London – in 2013, 2015, and 2016 – and Mueller has also been looking into a meeting between Manafort and Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno in May 2017.
Corsi and Stone: Jerome Corsi rejected a plea agreement with Mueller for lying to investigators about his interactions with Wikileaks; Corsi then leaked the draft statement of offense Mueller crafted in preparation of the agreement; contained in this draft are emails between Corsi and Stone in which Corsi appears to have had advance knowledge of Wikileaks' stolen DNC emails; Corsi denied having had such knowledge; the day after Corsi emailed Stone about "very damaging" material about to be released on Clinton, Stone spoke on the phone to Trump; Trump regularly called Stone from an unknown number during the campaign – perhaps the same blocked number Trump Jr. called before and after the Trump Tower meeting.
Cohen: Cohen pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about a proposed Trump Tower Moscow deal; Cohen said Trump knew he was contacting the Kremlin for the Russian government's help to build the tower; as part of the effort to reach a deal in Moscow, Felix Sater brought in a former general in Russian military intelligence; Trump's company planned to give Putin a penthouse in the proposed tower worth $50 million – an arrangement that could be a bribe; Mueller reportedly has communications proving Ivanka and Trump Jr. were involved in the Moscow deal; people close to Trump told Cohen the president would pardon him if he kept on message, but after the FBI raid, Trump began distancing himself from Cohen, changing Cohen's mind.
THE MUELLER INVESTIGATION
Trump's answers to Mueller's questions. CNN reported on two answers Trump gave in his written response to Mueller's questionnaire: He apparently stated that (1) Roger Stone did not tell him about Wikileaks, and (2) he did not know about the 2016 Trump Tower meeting. Also included in the response, Trump "made clear he was answering to the best of his recollection."
RNC change. Sources familiar with Trump's responses said one of Mueller's questions was about the RNC's convention platform change watering down its formal position on whether the US should help protect Ukraine from Russian incursions. The move, which occurred under Paul Manafort's management, was seen as a "surprising concession to the Russian government." Reportedly, Trump told Mueller he was not aware of the platform change to the best of his recollection.
Rosenstein meme. Following the news of Manafort's plea deal falling apart, Trump went on a tweet storm of angry anti-Mueller tweets. On Wednesday, he retweeted a meme of Rod Rosenstein and various Trump critics behind bars, with the text "NOW THAT RUSSIA COLLUSION IS A PROVEN LIE, WHEN DO THE TRIALS FOR TREASON BEGIN?" Asked why he shared an image of Rosenstein behind bars, Trump said, "He should have never picked a special counsel."
- The other people in the image include Robert Mueller, Hillary Clinton campaign chair John Podesta, Hillary Clinton, former Attorney General Eric Holder, Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former President Bill Clinton, former FBI Director James Comey, and former Attorney General Loretta Lynch.
- Vox: Minutes before he retweeted the meme and a number of other wildly inaccurate tweets from "The Trump Train" Twitter account, the president posted a tweet baselessly accusing special counsel Mueller of "viciously telling witnesses to lie about facts" in exchange for "relief."
- It would take too long to list all of the anti-Mueller tweets Trump sent last week. Reading through them, I think he feels trapped and is more scared than he's been so far during Mueller's investigation.
The Manafort deal. On Monday, Mueller filed the much-anticipated status report on Manafort's case… and revealed that Manafort breached his plea agreement by repeatedly lying to them. Mueller thus asks for sentencing to begin immediately, as Manafort already pleaded guilty to the crimes. Note that Mueller would not have caught Manafort in lies unless his team already knew the truth.
- We do not yet know the full extent of Manafort's lies. Prosecutors told the court they will describe "the nature of the defendant's crimes and lies" in an upcoming sentencing memo. The Wall Street Journal reported later in the week that some of Manafort's lies had to do with payments he received related to his lobbying work in Ukraine.
- Mueller is reportedly considering new charges against Manafort for lying to them, again. The cooperation agreement stipulated Manafort be truthful and not commit any further crimes – both conditions he did not respect.
Double agent. After agreeing to cooperate, Manafort's attorney, Kevin Downing, repeatedly briefed Trump's lawyers on Manafort's discussions with Mueller's team. A cooperator is expected not to share information with other suspects or persons of interest, so this only inflamed tensions with Mueller's team. Giuliani, Trump's attorney, has confirmed Downing briefed them and defended the arrangement as "a source of valuable insights into the special counsel's inquiry." Experts believe Mueller could use Giuliani's statement as evidence of obstruction.
- Giuliani stated Downing told him prosecutors pressed Manafort on whether Trump knew of the 2016 Trump Tower meeting.
- It is important to note that once an agreement to cooperate is reached, a witness has "agreed contractually to a full, no-holds-barred provision of information… The universal understanding is that the witness will not run back and reveal the government's case to potential suspects." Thus, Mueller's team expected any joint defense agreements to be ended with the cooperation agreement.
- Last month, Giuliani stated Trump's lawyers have joint defense agreements with 32 witnesses of suspects of Mueller's investigation.
- Manafort's lawyers denied intentional dishonesty, stating that Manafort "believes he has provided truthful information…" A former federal attorney wrote for NBC News that "this language suggests that even Manafort's attorneys recognize their client has been lying to Mueller's team." Further, the defense would "have demanded an evidentiary hearing to prove Manafort did not breach his agreement. Their failure to do so is another sign that Manafort lied to prosecutors."
Analysis. Marcy Wheeler articulated Mueller's play here perfectly. In sum, Mueller appears to have no doubt that Manafort was lying, which means they didn't really need his testimony. But they kept him on the line. Why? Perhaps so they could keep giving Manafort the impression that he was tricking them, all while Manafort reported misleading information to Trump that was used to respond to Mueller's questionnaire. "Which increases the likelihood that Trump just submitted sworn answers to those questions full of lies." Further, the upcoming court filing in which Mueller will detail Manafort's crimes and lies will act as a report on Mueller's investigation that Whitaker cannot suppress.
Pardon? In an interview with the New York Post, Trump said a pardon for Manafort was still a possibility. "It was never discussed, but I wouldn't take it off the table. Why would I take it off the table?" He continued, "You know this flipping stuff is terrible… But I had three people: Manafort, Corsi — I don't know Corsi, but he refuses to say what they demanded. Manafort, Corsi and Roger Stone… It's actually very brave."
Meeting Assange. The Guardian revealed that Manafort secretly met with Julian Assange three times inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London – in 2013, 2015, and 2016. The most recent rendezvous, in spring 2016, is "likely to come under scrutiny" from Mueller as it took place during Trump's campaign, around the time Manafort was named as Trump's convention manager, and just a few months before Wikileaks published the hacked DNC emails (see below for timeline).
- Contrary to normal procedure, Manafort's visits were not logged by security guards. The Guardian also mentions an internal Ecuadorian intelligence document that lists not only Manafort as a visitor, but also "Russians."
- Manafort responded: "I have never met Julian Assange or anyone connected to him. I have never been contacted by anyone connected to WikiLeaks, either directly or indirectly. I have never reached out to Assange or WikiLeaks on any matter."
Timeline. The Washington Post put Manafort's meetings with Assange in context. The whole thing is worth reading, but I want to point out one detail in particular: The same month Manafort and Assange met "off the books," March 2016, was the same month Russian hackers began probing the DNC network for vulnerabilities AND when Podesta's email was penetrated. Not to mention, at the end of March 2016 Manafort was hired by the Trump campaign as convention manager (recommended by Roger Stone). Then on April 6th 2016, Russian hackers gained credentials for the DCCC from "an unwitting employee."
Ecuador meeting. Mueller has also been looking into a meeting between Manafort and Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno in May 2017. The meeting was originally revealed by Moreno, who said the two discussed a Chinese business deal. However, he did not state if any other issues came up in conversation.
Rejected deal. Jerome Corsi, a rightwing conspiracy theorist and friend of Roger Stone, has rejected a plea agreement with Mueller. The proposed deal involved Corsi pleading guilty to perjury for lying to investigators about his interactions with Wikileaks – for example, he said he did not comply with Stone's request to contact Julian Assange (see below). Mueller stated this was a lie and Corsi seems to agree, but claims it was unintentional and he simply forgot the events of a couple of years ago. Mueller alleges Corsi deleted all of his emails before October 11, 2016, including the Wikileaks emails.
- Instead of cooperating, Corsi plans to file "a criminal complaint against Mueller's Special Counsel and the DOJ for prosecutorial misconduct." He hasn't specified what misconduct he alleges occurred.
- Corsi added a new lawyer to his team to lead this legal challenge, Larry Klayman. Klayman founded the conservative group Judicial Watch and is representing Roy Moore in his lawsuit against Sacha Baron Cohen. Like Corsi, Klayman has an affinity for conspiracy theories; last month he stated the MAGA bomber, Cesar Sayoc, was a "patsy" and "may have been paid off by the Democrats."
Draft offense doc. After announcing he rejected the plea deal, Corsi leaked the draft statement of offense Mueller crafted in preparation of the agreement. The document contains hints at the broad outline of Mueller's investigation, as well as specifics related to Corsi's involvement.
- Broad outline: A Russian interference operation provided stolen documents to Wikileaks for public release, in order to further interfere in the 2016 presidential election. The open question is whether Trump campaign associates were involved in the operation in any way.
- Specifics to Corsi:
- Roger Stone emailed Corsi on July 25, 2016, telling him to "get to" Assange in the "Ecuadorian Embassy in London and get the pending" WikiLeaks "emails." This implies Mueller believes Stone had advance knowledge of Wikileaks' material.
- Corsi forwarded this email to Ted Malloch in the UK. On July 31, 2016, Stone wrote to Corsi that Malloch "should see Assange." Also note Malloch is an ally of Nigel Farage.
- On August 2, 2016, Corsi emailed Stone the following: "Word is friend in embassy plans 2 more dumps. One shortly after I'm back [from a trip in Europe]. 2nd in Oct. Impact planned to be very damaging.. Would not hurt to start suggesting HRC old, memory bad, has stroke — neither he nor she well. I expect that much of next dump focus, setting stage for [Clinton] Foundation debacle."
- Note: Right after Corsi sent that email, the Trump campaign began focusing on Hillary Clinton's health. By the end of August, other news outlets observed the same pattern: "Trump surrogates—people chosen by the campaign to speak on his behalf—have told voters that Mrs Clinton suffered a stroke and has seizures." In September, Wikileakshighlighted one of the Clinton State Department emails housed in its document database, raising the idea that she had blood clot issues affecting her brain. Then in October, Wikileaks released Podesta's emails suggesting Podesta and others were concerned about her health.
- Additionally, the statement says that Corsi "understood [Stone] to be in regular contact with senior members of the Trump Campaign, including with then-candidate Donald J. Trump." Stone's formal role with Trump's campaign ended in 2015, so Mueller has evidence that Stone was still involved well into 2016.
Spooked. In addition to news agencies, Corsi also sent a copy of Mueller's draft statement of offense to Trump's lawyer, Jay Sekulow. This occurred around the beginning of November. Trump's lawyers were reportedly so "disturbed" by the direct references to Trump found in the draft that they "delayed turning in his responses to written questions." The New York Times explains that they turned in Trump's responses only after Mueller's team "reassured Mr. Trump's lawyers that they were not trying to lure the president into a trap."
Seth Rich. Also revealed in the emails between Stone and Corsi: Both men were well aware of the fact that Russian hackers were behind the theft of DNC emails. However, Corsi and Stone still publicly pushed the narrative that DNC staff member Seth Rich had stolen the emails and was murdered in revenge. Corsi has continued to promote Rich conspiracy theories into 2018, despite Rich's parents begging him not to.
Corsi interview. On Wednesday, Corsi was interviewed by Ari Melber. He maintained that he wasn't told of Wikileaks' plans, but had experienced"divine intervention." Corsi claims to have told Mueller's prosecutors this and said they, unsurprisingly, did not believe him. Corsi admitted to lying to Congress about the source of a tip of Podesta's emails, stating that he corrected the record before the grand jury.
- Corsi also said he wanted to use the stolen emails in Wikileaks' possession to help Trump's campaign: "I was happy to do it and I was happy that it would benefit Donald Trump."
Stone calls. The Washington Post reported that the August 2nd email from Corsi to Stone (that WikiLeaks was set to release "very damaging" material on the Clinton campaign) was followed the next day by Stone talking to Trump over the phone. Stone insists the topic of Wikileaks never came up.
Unknown calls. In the same WaPo story, it was reported that Roger Stone regularly received phone calls from Trump during the 2016 campaign that appeared as "unknown" on caller ID. This could be the same number Don Jr. called before and after the Trump Tower meeting (see "House Intel Plans" below).
Guilty plea. On Thursday, Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to a charge brought by Mueller of lying to Congress about a proposed Trump Tower Moscow deal. In court, Cohen admitted that attempts to realize the real estate project continued through June 2016, whereas he'd previously testified discussions had ended in January. He also lied when he said no one from the Russian government returned his overtures – in truth, Cohen did hear back from Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov. Additionally, Cohen stated he had "more extensive" discussions with Trump about the deal than previously admitted.
- Cohen said in court: "I made these misstatements to be consistent with individual 1's political messaging and out of loyalty to [Trump]."
- Before leaving for Argentina, Trump called Cohen "a weak person," and said, "he's trying to get a much lesser prison sentence by making up a story."
- Trump addressed the Moscow project, saying "There was a good chance that I wouldn't have won, in which case I would have gotten back into the business, and why should I lose lots of opportunities?" He continued, "We decided — I decided ultimately — not to do it… There would have been nothing wrong if I did do it."
- Since the summer of 2016, Trump has said he had nothing to do with Russia or had no business in Russia on at least 23 occasions. The New York Times has compiled a list here.
Trump knew. In a sentencing memo Cohen's lawyers filed Friday, Cohen stated he told Trump about a phone call to the Kremlin asking for the Russian government's help to build Trump Tower Moscow – further proving Trump has been lying when he claimed not to have business in Russia. Also in the memo, Cohen said he was talking to Trump's lawyers and White House staff in 2017 when he crafted the lie to hide the true extent of the Moscow project from Congress. Due to his extensive cooperation with investigators, his lawyers argue Cohen should not be sentenced to jail time for his crimes.
Russian general. The New York Times reported that as part of the effort to reach a deal in Moscow, Felix Sater brought in a former general in Russian military intelligence. The general, Evgeny Shmykov, was supposed to help arrange visas for Cohen and Trump to visit Russia. This occurred in within days of Sater's email to Cohen boasting, "buddy, our boy can become President of the USA and we can engineer it."
Penthouse bribe. As part of the Trump Tower Moscow deal, Trump's company planned to give Putin a penthouse in the proposed tower worth $50 million. As Rep. Jim Himes (D-CT) said on CNN, this arrangement looks like a "bribe." Not only would it grease the wheels and get the deal approved, perhaps, it would also increase the cost of all other units in the building – thus increasing the profits of those involved. Sater actually admitted this was the line of thinking to Buzzfeed.
- If it can be proven the Trump had direct knowledge of the penthouse deal, he could be charged under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which makes it a federal crime for U.S. citizens and businesses (among others) to bribe foreign officials.
Implications. Cohen's plea deal has implications for more than just Trump himself. The Wall Street Journal reported Don Jr. and Ivanka Trump are both in jeopardy as a result. Don Jr., in particular, told the Senate he was unaware of Cohen's communications with the Kremlin about the Trump Tower Moscow deal. Cohen now says he lied to Congress to hide discussions with the Trump family about the project – discussions contained in emails which investigators have obtained. These emails either directly included Don Jr. and Ivanka, or at least were copied to them. Furthermore, a source told Yahoo News that Ivanka and Don Jr. were both aware of Cohen's attempted to build in Moscow.
Larger story. Rachel Maddow connected the Trump Tower Moscow deal with the larger story of a compromised president. "Trump was advocating dropping sanctions without disclosing that for the US to do that would be a huge financial windfall for him, because now we know Trump and his business at that time were secretly negotiating a gigantic business deal for Trump Tower Moscow that was being financed by a Russian sanctioned bank. The deal could only go ahead if Russia dropped sanctions. Trump knew that at the time but he lied about it repeatedly. Insisted he had no business in Russia over and over. But Trump knew that he did. And Russia knew that he did."
Cohen pardon? Sources close to Cohen told CNN that Cohen was previously under the impression that Trump would pardon him for any crimes in exchange for staying on message in support of the president. Even after the April 2018 raid on Cohen's office and home, people close to Trump assured Cohen Trump would take care of him (Giuliani denies this took place with Trump's knowledge). Over time, though, Trump started to distance himself from Cohen. CNN reported that's when "Cohen knew that things had changed and he acted to protect his family and himself."
- If it can be proved that Trump told Cohen he'd pardon him in exchange for his silence, or that Trump was aware of such messages to Cohen, Mueller may be able to charge him with witness tampering or obstruction of justice.
Psy Group. Former employees of the Israeli intelligence company Psy Group told the Daily Beast that at least two other individuals associated with Trump's campaign reached out to the firm before the election. "Both represented themselves as members of Trump's inner circle," they said, but would not identify the individuals for fear of reprisal. So far, we are aware of three Trump associates who were involved with Psy Group: Rick Gates, Donald Trump Jr., and George Nader.
- Rick Gates requested proposals in 2016 from Psy Group to " create fake online identities, to use social media manipulation and to gather intelligence to help defeat Republican primary race opponents and Hillary Clinton."
- Donald Trump Jr. and George Nader attended a pitch by the company's founder, Joel Zamel, on August 3, 2016, at Trump Tower. Erik Prince was also at that meeting.
- Mueller is looking into a $2 million payment Nader made to Zamel after the election for unknown reasons.
Papa-prison. Former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos surrendered himself to a federal minimum-security camp in Wisconsin to serve his two-week sentence on Monday. He had tried but failed to convince a judge of postponing his prison term until after Andrew Miller's lawsuit, challenging Mueller's appointment, was resolved. The judge ruled that Papadopoulos had waited too long to contest his sentence.
MORE RUSSIAN CONNECTIONS
G20. Despite canceling a formal meeting with Putin, the Kremlin revealedthat Trump and Putin had a "brief meeting" at G20 anyway. After American media picked up on it, Press Secretary Sarah Sanders confirmed the two had an "informal" conversation. The White House has not said what was discussed, but Putin stated they talked about Russia's confrontation with Ukrainian ships.
- While Trump said the reason for canceling the formal meeting was the Russian-Ukranian conflict, observers and Putin himself believe the real reason was "domestic issues," i.e. the Trump Tower Moscow fallout.
- Putin was asked if Trump was wary of meeting him, to which he replied: "I don't think President Trump is wary of anything. He is a man of character, a very experienced man. He is a grown-up."
Butina update. Accused Russian spy Maria Butina is said to be close to reaching a plea deal with U.S. prosecutors. Both sides requested a planned status conference be pushed back to December 19th to allow time to reach an agreement. Separately, her lawyers asked a judge to order her removed from solitary confinement, where they say she's been held since November 21st. The judge denied this request, reasoning that the request was based on hearsay and speculation about the reason for her placement in segregation.
- Mother Jones published a great review of the insights federal prosecutors could gain from Butina's cooperation. The entire thing is worth a read, but here are the topics detailed in the article: Did Russia sources give the National Rifle Association any money intended to help Trump's campaign? Why did Butina's lover try to make a Kremlin introduction to the Trump campaign? What motivated Butina's persistent lobbying of Republican officials, including Trump, for further cooperation with Russia, and who else was involved?
Erikson update. Boyfriend, business partner, and potential mark of Maria Butina, Paul Erikson, has finally retained legal representation after being under investigation for months. Sources close to Erikson told the Daily Beast that he has struggled to gather funds to pay attorneys.
- Daily Beast: [In 2016] Erickson reached out to the Trump campaign and suggested setting up a meeting between the candidate and President Vladimir Putin. In a May 2016 email to Trump's campaign adviser Rick Dearborn, Erickson presented himself as someone connected to the Russian government and said he could arrange a back-channel meeting. The subject line of the message: "Kremlin connection."
Hacker campaigns. Russian military intelligence operatives have stepped upcyberattacks following the midterm elections. U.S. security firms believe the Russian hacker cells APT29 (Cozy Bear) and APT28 (Fancy Bear) are behind the attacks. They are "likely trying to gather information about the current playing field in politics" now that the landscape has changed.
- APT29 hackers impersonated a State Dept spokesperson in an email to U.S. think tanks, the military, federal government, and law enforcement. The email included documents with corrupted links that resulted in the installation of malware.
- APT28 hackers conducted a similar operation using documents containing malware, but cast a wider net; they targeted government groups in the U.S., the European Union, and former Soviet governments.
Russians in Facebook. A Facebook engineer warned the company in 2014 that Russian IP addresses had accessed "over 3 billion data points a day." The internal email from the engineer was contained in Facebook documents under seal in California, but seized in the UK. When asked about the incident, Facebook's policy chief said the information was "at best partial, at worst misleading," and is supposed to report back to the committee on the matter.
Midterm interference. On Saturday, while Trump was in Argentina at G20, Defense Secretary James Mattis said Russia attempted to interfere in the US midterm elections: "(Putin) tried again to muck around in our elections this last month, and we are seeing a continued effort along those lines."
George's Russian deals. The Atlantic revealed they had obtained a letter sent to Rep. Adam Schiff by "an individual who claims to have been close to Papadopoulos in late 2016 and early 2017." The letter claims that in the weeks following Trump's election, Papadopoulos said he was "doing a business deal with Russians which would result in large financial gains for himself and Mr. Trump." The writer also states that in late 2016 Papadopoulos said "Greek Orthodox leaders" and their Russian counterparts were "playing an important role" in his collaboration with the Russians.
- Background on Papadopoulos and Greece: In a September interview with CNN, Papadopoulos acknowledged for the first time that he told Greece's foreign minister about the Russian "dirt" on Clinton in May 2016 while visiting the country on a trip authorized by the Trump campaign. Throughout 2016, Papadopoulos made multiple trips to Greece, meeting with various officials including the Defense Minister Kammenos, who is considered by NATO to be "compromised by Russian intelligence."
House Intel plans. Rep. Adam Schiff told USA Today that one of the first records the House Intelligence Cmte. will target are the phone records of Trump Jr., to reveal whether the block number he called both before and after the Trump Tower meeting actually belonged to his father Trump Sr.
- Schiff said the committee, under GOP Rep. Devin Nunes' leadership, refused to seek records that would unmask the blocked call, leaving a major question unanswered: "Republicans refused to look at the phone records so that we could find out because they were afraid of what the answer might be."
- Clarification: A common question I encounter is, "how does one call a blocked number?" I dislike the term "blocked" because in reality it would better be described as unlisted. If someone knows the number, they can call it. But when a person calls from that unlisted number, it appears as 'unknown' on caller ID and cannot be called back (unless you already know the number and dial it yourself).
- See the paragraph above titled "Unknown calls" for more evidence that this blocked number belonged to Trump Sr.
Stone perjury. On Sunday, Rep. Schiff said transcripts of the testimony of Roger Stone before the House Intelligence Committee would be sent to Mueller "for consideration of whether perjury charges are warranted." The emails between Corsi and Stone made public in the draft statement of offense are apparently "inconsistent" with Stone's testimony.
Senate plans. The Senate intelligence and judiciary committees are reportingpossible misleading or untruthful statements witnesses made during testimony to Mueller's team. Sen. Mark Warner, of the Senate Intel Cmte., said they had made "multiple" criminal referrals to Mueller.
Cohen cooperating. In a sentencing memo filed Friday, Cohen's attorneys saidhe's spent 70 hours talking to investigators. He has also cooperated with the New York Attorney General's office on "state court action in which the NYAG has sued the Donald J. Trump Foundation and certain individual defendants, including Donald J. Trump."
Mueller protection. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi issued a statementThursday that Democrats will demand an upcoming must-pass spending bill include protections for Mueller if GOP leaders fail to bring legislation to the floor to do so.
Dark money. The Center for Responsive Politics has obtained a new tax return from a dark money group, revealing they were behind a mysterious $1 million donation to Trump's inaugural committee. The group, Wellspring Committee, also gave $14.8 million to the Judicial Crisis Network – the primary spender on Justice Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation. Due to the anonymous nature of donations, we do not know who originally donated the money to Wellspring to be funneled to Trump's inauguration.
Trump's tax man. Federal agents raided the offices of Chicago Finance Committee Chairman Alderman Ed Burke on Thursday, seizing boxes and records and computers. Burke previously worked for Trump for over a decade doing property tax work, during which time he was able to cut the property taxes on Trump's downtown tower by more than $14 million. The two stopped working together just months ago, citing "irreconcilable differences." The searches of Burke's offices are not believed to be connected to Trump, however, as far as we know.
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