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REVEALED: Paul Manafort’s shadowy Cyprus bank transactions under investigation by US Treasury

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The U.S. Treasury Department is probing the offshore financial transactions of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort as part of a federal anti-corruption probe into his work in Ukraine.

Information related to the transactions was turned over earlier this year to the department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network by investigators in Cyprus, reported The Associated Press.

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A source familiar with the case told the AP that the Treasury Department requested the documents, and the Cyprus attorney general was made aware of the U.S. request.

Federal prosecutors began looking into Manafort’s paid work for the pro-Russian Party of Regions as part of a broader investigation into stolen Ukrainian assets after the nation’s Vladimir Putin-aligned President Viktor Yanukovych was ousted in 2014.

The AP reported earlier this week that Manafort secretly developed a plan to advance Putin’s interests in the U.S. in 2005, a year before he moved into Trump Tower.

Manafort quit the Trump campaign in September as questions began to swirl about his work in Ukraine, and his ties to the Putin regime have raised new questions as the FBI investigates possible collusion between President Donald Trump’s campaign and the Russian government.

Financial records obtained by the AP show Manafort sometimes routed financial transactions through Cypriot shell companies, including a $19 million deal in 2014 with Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska to buy Ukrainian cable television provider Black Sea Cable.

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Deripaska, a Russian aluminum magnate and close ally of Putin, said afterward that Manafort and his associates refused to tell him how the money had been used.

Manafort pitched a “confidential plan” in 2005 to Deripasko to promote Russian interests through U.S. media, and the AP reported that he signed a $10 million annual contract with the oligarch — with whom he maintained a business relationship until “at least” 2009.

The Republican political strategist also reportedly tried to help Deripaska obtain a U.S. visa in 2000 over objections by the FBI, which believed the billionaire had lied to agents during an interview.

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The AP found in another case that a Manafort-linked company received $1 million in October 2009 from mysterious firm through the Bank of Cyprus, which Trump’s Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross oversaw as vice chairman from 2014 until his Senate confirmation.

The White House was accused of withholding information from Congress about whether Trump or his campaign affiliates had ever received loans through the bank, which is partially owned by Viktor Vekselberg and Vladimir Strzhalkovsky — two longtime Putin allies.

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Ross verbally denied any knowledge of such transactions, but the White House refused to release a written response to a query from Democratic senators.

The AP reported that Manafort’s mysterious transaction more than seven years ago was split in half the same day the payment went through the Bank of Cyprus and were disbursed in two payments of $500,000 to accounts with no obvious owner.

Cyprus had a well-known history of money laundering before joining the European Union in 2004.

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A Ukrainian lawmaker released other financial documents earlier this week from the Party of Regions’ so-called “black ledger” that show Manafort laundered those payments using offshore accounts in Belize and Kyrgyzstan.

Serhiy Leshchenko, a Ukrainian lawmaker and investigative journalist, released a copy of an invoice on Manafort’s consulting company letterhead that shows a payment of $750,000 for the sale of computers to a Belize-based company.

On that same day, Oct. 14, 2009, Manfort’s name is listed in a $750,000 entry in the black ledger, which was found at party headquarters during the 2014 riots, that investigators view as a party slush fund.

Manafort, who is wanted for questioning in Ukraine, accused Leshchenko of attempting to blackmail him before he stepped down from the Trump campaign.

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Trump supporters lose their minds when church shows Nativity scene in immigrant cages

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MAGA supporters are losing their minds after a photo of the Nativity scene at Claremont United Methodist Church was posted to Facebook.

The scene depicts Mary, Joseph, and the baby Jesus separated and put in their own cages, a reference to the families separated at the U.S.-Mexico border. Inside the church, the family is shown as reunited.

Senior minister Karen Clark Ristine shared the image on Facebook with the message hoping that everyone in the United States could see the photo and read the story for Christmas.

"The theological statement posted with the nativity: In a time in our country when refugee families seek asylum at our borders and are unwillingly separated from one another, we consider the most well-known refugee family in the world," she wrote. "Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, the Holy Family. Shortly after the birth of Jesus, Joseph and Mary were forced to flee with their young son from Nazareth to Egypt to escape King Herod, a tyrant. They feared persecution and death."

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Columnist nails Republicans for only caring about Hunter Biden now that his father is running for president

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One of the critical questions that must be answered by Republicans, according to one Washington Post columnist, is why they didn't care about Hunter Biden's position at Burisma for so many years.

In a Sunday piece, James Downie asked why Republicans didn't do anything about Hunter Biden five years ago when it was first revealed that vice president's son was on the board of a Ukraine energy company. The House and the Senate were being run by Republicans until this year. They haven't had problems with other partisan investigations against high-profile leaders. There were ten investigations into the Benghazi attacks, three hearings, 29 witnesses, and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton testified for 11 hours. Yet, it was only after Joe Biden announced he was running against President Donald Trump that Republicans discovered an issue.

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Republican staffer caught spying on Democrats during Judiciary Committee meetings

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A Republican staffer from the Ways and Means committee was caught spying on Democrats during their work over the weekend.

According to a Judiciary Committee source, the female staffer was ultimately discovered and ran out of the committee room once it was discovered she was there, tweeted Olivia Beavers, a writer at "The Hill."

"A Judiciary source says the committee, which has been practicing for their Monday impeachment hearing this whole weekend, came across a female GOP Ways and Means staffer in the hearing room today, but that she ran out once discovered," she tweeted.

https://twitter.com/Olivia_Beavers/status/1203784487559213056

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