Weekly Review — April 6, 2017, 1:40 pm

Weekly Review

The Russia probe continues

WeeklyReviewJK-captionThe FBI, the Senate, and the House of Representatives continued their investigations into the Russian government’s possible collaboration with the campaign of Donald Trump, the former owner of a beauty pageant for teenage girls and current president of the United States.[1][2] White House press secretary Sean Spicer said that the investigations had uncovered “no connection” between Russia and the Trump campaign, and U.S. officials said that the FBI had obtained records of phone calls, business transactions, and meetings suggesting that Trump campaign members coordinated with Russia over the release of information damaging to Trump’s Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton.[3][4] It was reported that the Kremlin had paid at least 1,000 people to create false news stories in swing states to tilt the election in Trump’s favor, and Trump’s longtime friend and former adviser Roger Stone, who refers to himself as a “dirty trickster,” who admitted to corresponding with the hacker responsible for leaking emails from Clinton’s campaign staff, and who, like Trump, was mentored by Roy Cohn, a former counselor for the Gambino and Genovese crime families, announced that he would not tell Congress who informed him ahead of time that WikiLeaks was going to release information stolen from the Democratic National Committee.[5][6][7] U.S. officials confirmed that the Kremlin had recalled a diplomat from the United States out of concern that his attempts to affect the outcome of the election would be exposed, an allegation previously made by a former British intelligence officer in a largely unsubstantiated dossier, which also alleged that Trump had hired two prostitutes in Moscow to urinate on a bed slept in by former president Barack Obama, and which Spicer called “fake news.”[8][9][10] Trump’s former national-security adviser, Michael Flynn, who resigned in February after he was discovered to have discussed U.S. sanctions with Russian officials before Trump took office, and who in 2016 said that “when you are given immunity, that means you have probably committed a crime,” offered to testify before Congress in exchange for immunity, and Trump, who in 2016 said “if you are not guilty of a crime, what do you need immunity for?” tweeted that Flynn “should ask for immunity.”[11][12] House Intelligence Committee chair and former Trump transition-team adviser Devin Nunes said that leakers of classified information needed to be stopped, then viewed classified information on the grounds of the White House, returned to Capitol Hill to report to the press what he had seen, and said he was unable to show the information to his fellow committee members or divulge to them where he had obtained it.[13][14][15][16] Later, it was reported that Nunes’s sources were members of the White House staff, and that the information they had revealed showed that the names of Trump campaign associates were captured during lawful surveillance of foreign officials.[17][18][19] Nunes recused himself from the House investigation of Russia, Trump stood by his still unsubstantiated claim that Obama was a “bad (or sick) guy” who in 2016 “wiretapped” Trump Tower, and it was reported that between 2011 and 2013 the FBI surveilled Trump Tower as part of a probe into a money-laundering network run by a Russian mafia boss known as Little Taiwanese. “Umm,” said Spicer.[20][21][22] It was reported that the Treasury Department was investigating the offshore finances of former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, who was previously investigated by a bank in Cyprus for laundering money through at least 15 separate accounts; who at one time lobbied U.S. lawmakers on behalf of dictators in Kenya, Nigeria, the Philippines, Somalia, and the former Zaire; and who reportedly lobbied on behalf of Russian president Vladimir Putin for at least three years beginning in 2006.[23][24][25][26] Former Trump foreign-policy adviser Carter Page, who stated on numerous occasions in the past that he did not communicate with Russia during the campaign, and then admitted to meeting with the Russian ambassador during the campaign, was reported to have met with a Russian intelligence operative in 2013; and court documents indicated that the FBI had recorded two Russian operatives discussing recruiting Page, whom they referred to as an “idiot” who was nonetheless enthusiastic.[27][28] “If the president puts Russian salad dressing on his salad tonight,” said Spicer, “that’s a Russian connection.”[29]

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