US justice officials secretly sought cooperation from a few of Russia’s richest men as they investigated Russian organized crime and possible aid from Moscow to Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, The New York Times has reported.
Nearly all the half-dozen Russian oligarchs approached between 2014 and 2016 by the US Justice Department and FBI have close links to President Vladimir Putin, the newspaper said. None of them apparently cooperated.
At one point, FBI agents reportedly appeared unannounced at a home that billionaire Oleg Deripaska maintains in New York to press him on whether Paul Manafort, a onetime business partner of the Russian and briefly chairman of the Trump campaign, had served as a liaison between the campaign and the Kremlin.
A jury in Virginia last month convicted Manafort of several counts of tax and bank fraud.
Two key players in the US investigative effort, according to the Times, were Christopher Steele, the former British spy who assembled a controversial dossier on alleged links between the Trump campaign and Russia, and Justice Department official Bruce Ohr, recently the target of angry attacks from Trump.
The Steele report, which included salacious but unproven allegations about Trump — from purported encounters with prostitutes to bribes disguised as real estate deals — was paid for in part by supporters of Hillary Clinton, and Trump has vociferously denounced it as a “deep state” attempt to discredit him.
Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating possible Trump campaign links to Russia, has a copy of the dossier and has reportedly interviewed Steele.
Ohr engaged with Steele repeatedly as part of the Justice Department’s original investigation. Word of those contacts has fueled Republican ire and brought calls from Trump for Ohr to be stripped of his security clearance or even fired.
The Times said US officials’ attempts to enlist Deripaska’s help were not entirely a long shot. He had worked with the US government in an effort to rescue an FBI agent held in Iran, and he was seeking permission to travel more easily to the US.
Instead, the newspaper said, Deripaska notified the Kremlin of the American contacts.
Restaurant refuses to act as food and slurs are hurled at Black couple
Jerrick Jefferson told local reporters that a customer hurled the slur at him and his wife while visiting the J. Alexander restaurant in West Bloomfield, Michigan.
Trump biographer mocks president for humiliating foreign policy ‘triple fail’
Trump biographer Timothy O'Brien on Monday published a column for Bloomberg in which he mocked the president for suffering a humiliating foreign policy "triple fail" that exposed his presidency's biggest weaknesses.
In his column, O'Brien pointed out that Trump's threats of major actions against Mexico and Iran never amounted to anything, while also noting that the president backed off his plans to begin the mass deportations of undocumented immigrants.
Trump star vandal arrested for Marilyn statue theft in Hollywood
A man convicted of vandalizing President Donald Trump's sidewalk star in Hollywood last summer has been arrested for stealing a statue of Marilyn Monroe from a nearby monument.
Austin Clay, 25, was identified by police from video surveillance footage.
Having discovered that he was on parole after a conviction for damaging Trump's star on the famous Hollywood "Walk of Fame," investigators searched his home Friday.
According to local media reports, they found evidence linking him to the theft of the statue.
The statue itself -- showing Monroe in her famous flying skirt pose from "The Seven Year Itch" (1955) -- has not been found.