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Mnuchin denies selling movie company to oligarch-linked investor — but still won’t identify the buyer

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Steven Mnuchin's confirmatio hearing (YouTube)

The Treasury Department disputed that Secretary Steve Mnuchin sold his share of a Hollywood production company to a sanctioned Russian oligarch, but still would not reveal the buyer.

Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) and other Democratic lawmakers questioned Mnuchin’s ties to Ukraine-born entertainment investor Len Blavatnik, but the Treasury Department denied in a letter that he had bought the secretary’s stake in the RatPac-Dune production company, reported ABC News.

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Blavatnik, whose Access Industries owns Warner Music Group, has business ties to Russian aluminum giant Rusal and other companies linked to oligarch Oleg Deripaska, an ally of president Vladimir Putin.

The Trump administration lifted Magnitsky Act sanctions against Rusal and other companies linked to Deripaska, and House Democrats questioned Mnuchin’s involvement in the controversial decision.

Mnuchin and Blavatnik have each held significant stakes in RatPac-Dune Entertainment, which has held minority ownership interests in the blockbuster movies “Gravity,” “Wonder Woman,” Batman v Superman,” “The Lego Movie” and “Creed.”

The Treasury Department denied that Mnuchin had sold his stake to Blavatnik or any of his companies, but did not say which “third party unrelated to Mr. Blavatnik” had purchased his share in the company.

A spokesperson for Blavatnik also denied any contact between the entertainment investor and Mnuchin.

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“Blavatnik has had no business conversations whatsoever with Secretary Mnuchin in connection to treasuries actions and decisions on sanctions,” the spokesperson said.

However, Democrats have long expressed concern about possible conflicts of interest presented by Mnuchin’s financial dealings.

Blavatnik, who holds a significant stake in Rusal, has contributed at least $383,000 to the Republican National Committee since late April 2016 and gave another $1 million to President Donald Trump’s inauguration fund.

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Those contributions included more than $12,000 that was later directed to the president’s legal defense fund, although Blavatnik did not give directly to the Trump campaign.


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2020 Election

Trump officials could face criminal charges for USPS sabotage — and the president may not be able to pardon them

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Members of the Trump administration could face legal jeopardy over efforts to sabotage U.S. Postal Service operations to interfere with the 2020 presidential elections.

"Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ) made a criminal referral to the New Jersey Attorney General on Friday night, asking him to impanel a grand jury to look at possible breach of state election laws by President Trump, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy and others for 'their accelerating arson of the post office,' he said. Alarming headlines have emerged in recent days as many states prepare to facilitate widespread mail balloting due to the coronavirus pandemic. President Trump openly admitted he was withholding federal aid from the postal service to prevent mail-in voting, and USPS has notified 46 states and D.C. that it will struggle to deliver some mail ballots on time," The Daily Beast reported Friday.

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Maddow reveals how one state stood up to Trump’s USPS cuts — and won

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MSNBC anchor Rachel Maddow's opening segment on Friday focused on a positive story of political pressure stopping one of the Trump administration's attacks on the U.S. Postal Service.

Maddow reported how NBC Montana reporter Maritsa Georgiou had doggedly reported on the removal of postal boxes in Missoula, where she is based. Missoula has been a long-time Democratic Party stronghold.

Montana has a competitive U.S. Senate election in 2020, with Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock challenging first-term Republican Sen. Steve Daines.

As Georgiou chased the story, she learned there were also plans to remove boxes in the battleground of Billings. And more planned for the blue town of Bozeman. And other towns.

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2020 Election

Pepsi joins the chorus of people dunking on Tucker Carlson over Kamala Harris

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The Pepsi soda company mocked Fox News personality Tucker Carlson on Friday evening.

On Tuesday, Carlson flipped out after a guest attempted to teach him how to pronounce the name of Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), who is running for vice president on Joe Biden's ticket.

Video of the exchange was posted on Twitter by Nikki McCann Ramirez, a researcher at the watchdog group Media Matters for America.

Tucker Carlson loses it when a guest corrects his pronunciation of Kamala Harris's name pic.twitter.com/1fHIrPGuwN

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