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Intercepted communications suggest three Trump advisors directly linked to Russia: report

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A new report has identified three Donald Trump associates — including his former campaign chairman — whose ties to Russia are under investigation by U.S. law enforcement agencies.

Recent news reports have revealed the FBI and five other law enforcement and intelligence agencies have collaborated for months on an investigation into Kremlin funding of the Trump campaign and other attempts to influence the presidential election.

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The New York Times has named Trump campaign advisors Paul Manafort, Carter Page and Roger Stone as the subjects of a multiagency investigation into alleged Kremlin efforts to install the Republican candidate in the White House.

“The F.B.I. is leading the investigations, aided by the National Security Agency, the C.I.A. and the Treasury Department’s financial crimes unit,” the Times reported. “The investigators have accelerated their efforts in recent weeks but have found no conclusive evidence of wrongdoing, the officials said. One official said intelligence reports based on some of the wiretapped communications had been provided to the White House.”

Investigators believe the Kremlin may have paid off hackers who stole data from the Democratic National Committee using a system for routinely paying thousands of Russian-American pensioners, the newspaper reported.

That system was also described in an infamous 35-page dossier prepared by a former British spy hired to perform opposition research by Trump’s GOP primary rivals.

The FBI began investigating Manafort last spring, around the time he joined the Trump campaign, as part of an ongoing criminal investigation into his work for a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine.

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The Times reported in August that his name had appeared in a secret ledger showing he had been paid millions in undisclosed cash payments, and the Associated Press has reported he tried to influence American news organizations and government officials on behalf of Ukraine.

Newsweek reported the week before the election that Page, a former Trump advisor, was being probed by American and European intelligence over his alleged back-channel discussions with Russian government officials.

He did travel to Moscow last year — and after the election, when he praised Vladimir Putin’s anti-terrorism policies and discussed the possibility of ending U.S. sanctions — but has denied any wrongdoing.

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“I did nothing wrong, for the 5,000th time,” Page told the Times, adding that Hillary Clinton’s allies were “pulling a page out of the Watergate playbook.”

Manafort left the Trump campaign in August and Page in September after their ties to Russia were widely reported.

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Stone, a longtime friend of Trump’s and a regular guest on Alex Jones’ radio show, claims he communicates with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and has made predictions about leaked documents that have proven true.

The former Richard Nixon “dirty trickster” told the newspaper he has never visited Russia and had no Russian clients, but admits he worked in Ukraine for what he describes as a pro-Western party.

Stone claimed this week that he survived a poisoning attempt on his life last month over his knowledge of the DNC hacks, although he doesn’t think Russia or Clinton allies are responsible.

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“I come back to the deep state, I come back to our own people,” Stone told Jones on his InfoWars radio program. “This is about stopping the Trump agenda. I would blow the whistle on this whole bogus Russian narrative that they just won’t let go of.”

Trump will take the oath of office Friday with the multiagency investigation underway, and the Senate intelligence committee has launched its own broad investigation into Russia’s role in election hacking and its ties to the Trump campaign.

As president, the newspaper notes, Trump will oversee the law enforcement agencies conducting those probes and would have the authority to redirect or stop some of those efforts.


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Republicans defended ‘a vile scoundrel’ who is ‘racist’ and ‘a petty tyrant’ — and it wasn’t Donald Trump

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President Donald Trump's defense attorneys were blasted for their defense of a different president on Tuesday.

"I mean, of course Trump's lawyers are defending Andrew Johnson. Of course," noted MSNBC anchor Chris Hayes.

"Johnson was a vile scoundrel and a drunk and a racist and a petty tyrant whose presidency brought blood and shame upon this nation," Hayes continued. "That's the kindest characterization I could muster."

The host linked to a 2019 piece on Johnson that he wrote for The New York Times as a book review of "The Trial of Andrew Johnson and the Dream of a Just Nation by Brenda Wineapple.

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There are 51 votes to approve calling witnesses in Trump impeachment trial: PBS

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After pieces of John Bolton's manuscript leaked to the press confirming President Donald Trump's bribery of Ukraine, Republicans have turned to support the witnesses they once opposed.

Sens. Mitt Romney (R-UT) and Susan Collins (R-ME) both voted against witnesses and were leaning against them until Bolton's manuscript was leaked to the press after it was turned over to the White House for approval.

PBS News Hour reporter Lisa Desjardins tweeted Monday evening that the news tipped the scales and there were officially 51 votes to approve witnesses.

https://twitter.com/LisaDNews/status/1221951089647538177

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2020 Election

State Department retaliated against NPR by kicking reporter off Mike Pompeo’s plane: report

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The U.S. State Department appears to be retaliating against National Public Radio (NPR) after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo suffered a caught-on-tape meltdown following an interview with NPR "All Things Considered" co-host Mary Louise Kelly.

According to PBS "Newshour" reporter Nick Schifrin, the State Department kicked NPR diplomatic correspondent Michele Kelemen off of Pompeo's jet.

"State Department removes NPR’s Michele Kelemen from Sec. Pompeo plane--where she was scheduled for a pool radio rotation--during upcoming trip to London, Kiev," Schifrin reported.

AFP State Department correspondent Shaun Tandon blasted the move on behalf of the State Department Correspondent's Association.

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