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DOJ investigating Avenatti leaks that led to discovery that Cohen was ‘selling access’ to the Trump White House

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The Justice Department is investigating the leak of confidential bank records belonging to former Trump “fixer” Michael Cohen  — and were posted by Stormy Daniels’ former attorney Michael Avenatti.

CNN reported Wednesday that sources with knowledge of the probe say the DOJ is undertaking a criminal investigation, led by prosecutors in the Northern District of California, to determine the source of the leaks that led to the exposure of Cohen’s scheme to “sell access” to the White House.

Cohen’s confidential records went public last year when Avenatti “posted a memo online outlining numerous payments to Cohen from a company linked to a Russian oligarch, pharmaceutical giant Novartis, AT&T” and others, the report noted.

The payments were made through Essential Consultants, LLC, the “shell company” Donald Trump’s former lawyer used to make Daniels “hush money” payment.

Avenatti, CNN noted, has refused to disclose the source of the records — but has “repeatedly suggested” they were part of a suspicious activity report, or SAR.

“Banks file SARs with the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network to identify transactions that raise red flags about potential criminal activity,” the report explained. “It is illegal for banks or federal employees to reveal the identity of a SAR or its contents.”

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This investigation may indicate that the DOJ “is stepping up scrutiny of disclosures of confidential bank records,” CNN reported, adding that the U.S. Attorney’s office in Manhattan charged a FinCen senior adviser with illegally leaking SARs of people tied to Trump to BuzzFeed News last year. That adviser has pleaded not guilty.

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Here’s why Trump and Putin are only frenemies at this point

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President Trump’s campaign of “maximum pressure” on Iran has hit an obstacle: Russia.

While the United States insists that Iran shot down a U.S. surveillance drone in international airspace last week, Russia rejected the charge on Tuesday and supported Iran’s claim that the Global Hawk drone with a 116-foot wingspan was shot down over Iranian territory.

A top Russian official stated Moscow’s intelligence findings at a meeting with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday, according to Haaretz, the Israeli daily.

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2020 Election

How the GOP is embracing more ruthless power grabs in the face of huge political challenges

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On Thursday, the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule on two cases highlighting the collision between partisan power grabs and setting the ground rules for two of the most important elections in America—those for U.S. House and state legislative chambers.

This article was produced by Voting Booth, a project of the Independent Media Institute.

One ruling concerns whether the Trump administration can add a question to the 2020 census that asks if anyone residing in that address is not a U.S. citizen. The other concerns whether hyper-partisanship is unconstitutional when state legislatures run by a single party draw electoral districts to maximize their party’s likelihood of winning elections.

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Hope Hicks may have implicated Jared Kushner in a coverup

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Former White House communications director Hope Hicks frustrated Democrats last week when she refused to answer multiple questions about her time in the White House.

However, Mother Jones' David Corn and Dan Friedman noticed one bit of Hicks's testimony that shines a negative light on Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner.

When asked about her false statement in December 2016 that there had been no contact between members of the Trump campaign and Russian government officials, Hicks said she consulted several top officials who worked for the campaign before making the statement, including Kellyanne Conway, Steve Bannon -- and Jared Kushner.

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