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.
Lindsey Graham to Pat Robertson: ‘I’ll become Trump’s worst nightmare’ if he doesn’t stop slaughter of Kurds
During an appearance on the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) this Wednesday morning, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) reiterated his defense of the Kurds in Syria and took his criticism of President Trump a step further, saying he'll become Trump's "worst nightmare" if Turkey is allowed to continue its incursion into the country's northeast region.
Speaking to televangelist and CBN founder Pat Robertson, Graham said that if Christians are not praying for the Kurds, "we should all be ashamed of ourselves."
"It was the Kurds who worked with the America military to destroy ISIS," Graham said. "If we abandon the Kurds, it will be dishonorable, it will be a disaster."
Feds investigating whether Rudy Giuliani was a victim of foreign spy effort targeting Trump
President Donald Trump's defense attorney is not only a subject in a criminal investigation, but is also part of a counterintelligence probe into whether he was compromised by a foreign power, CNN reported Wednesday.
This is an investigation that goes far longer and back further than we realized and also that it’s much broader than we initially thought," CNN senior justice correspondent Evan Pérez reported.
"One of the things we’re getting a picture of, a better picture of is this involves not only Giuliani’s financial entanglements with allegedly corrupt Ukrainian figures but also counterintelligence angle is there to this and the idea that perhaps Rudy Giuliani and some of his business dealings were part of essentially an influence operation, a foreign influence operation with a target being the Trump White House," he reported.
Internet recoils at Trump’s latest ‘insane’ news conference: ‘Maybe this guy shouldn’t be president’
President Donald Trump ranted at length about the Kurds, military deployments overseas, Sen. Lindsey Graham and former President Barack Obama in a bizarre conversation with reporters in the White House.
The president met with the media Wednesday afternoon during a bilateral meeting with Italian president Sergio Mattarella, and he touched on a bewildering variety of topics -- much to the confusion of onlookers.
This is fucking insane.
This press conference is purpose-built to empower and delight every bad actor in the world.