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.
The term ‘evangelical’ has crumbled into meaninglessness in the era of Trump: professor
As the evangelical Christian movement began to rise in politics before the 1980 election, there was a fork in the road that forced the self-described "Moral Majority" to make a decision in regards to which candidate they supported: the devout Christian Jimmy Carter, or the divorced Hollywood actor Ronald Reagan.
Writing for the Atlantic, Baylor University professor of humanities Alan Jacobs says it was the Moral Majority's decision to go with Reagan that "inaugurated the affiliation of white American evangelicals with the Republican Party that has lasted to this day."
Trump complains at the UN: ‘I would get a Nobel Prize for a lot of things if they gave them out fairly’
Fox legal analyst: Ukraine scandal is ‘far more serious’ than what Mueller dug up on Trump
Fox News legal analyst Andrew Napolitano on Monday told Fox Business host David Asman that President Donald Trump's now-infamous phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is a serious case of corruption that cannot be ignored.
Although Asman tried to make the story about the actions of former Vice President Joe Biden's son, Napolitano said that what Trump has done appears far worse than anything the former vice president did.
"This is the most serious charge against the president, far more serious than what Bob Mueller dug or dragged up against him," Napolitano said. "If there was a quid pro quo -- it does appear as though a quarter of a billion dollars in defensive weaponry was held back for a period of time while these... conversations were going on between the presidents."