Southern border agent killed, another injured while on patrol in Texas – Trending Stuff

A U.S. Border Patrol agent was killed in the line of duty Sunday while patrolling the Big Bend Sector of Texas along the southern border with Mexico.

Agent Rogelio Martinez, 36, died of injuries sustained while responding to “activity” near Interstate 10 in the Van Horn Station area, according to a news release from U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Martinez and his partner, who was injured, were transported to a hospital. The partner, who was not identified, remains hospitalized in serious condition.

Border Protection spokesman Carlos Diaz told The Associated Press the FBI has taken over the investigation.

Martinez, who was from El Paso, worked as a border agent since August 2013. 

TRUMP’S BORDER WALL: A LOOK AT THE NUMBERS

Elaine Duke, the acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, released a statement Sunday calling Martinez’s death a “tragic event.”

“Earlier this morning, I was notified that Border Patrol Agent Rogelio Martinez died as a result of serious injuries suffered while on patrol in the Big Bend Sector of our southern border in Texas. Agent Martinez was responding to activity while on patrol with another agent, who was also seriously injured,” the statement read.

“We are fully supporting the ongoing investigation to determine the cause of this tragic event. On behalf of the quarter of a million frontline officers and agents of DHS, my thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of Agent Martinez and to the agent who is in serious condition.” 

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, also released a statement calling the attack a “stark reminder of the ongoing threat that an unsecure border poses to the safety of our communities and those charged with defending them.”

“Our condolences and prayers go out to the family and friends of Border Patrol Agent Rogelio Martinez, who was killed this morning in the line of duty. We are also praying for the full recovery of his partner, who was also attacked,” Cruz said.

“This is a stark reminder of the ongoing threat that an unsecure border poses to the safety of our communities and those charged with defending them. We are grateful for the courage and sacrifice of our border agents who have dedicated their lives to keeping us safe,” the statement read. “I remain fully committed to working with the Border Patrol to provide them with all the resources they need to safeguard our nation.”

FIRST FEMALE BORDER PATROL CHIEF SAYS AGENTS ARE EMPOWERED TO ‘ENFORCE THE LAWS’ UNDER TRUMP

Border Patrol records show that Big Bend accounted for about 1 percent of the more than 61,000 apprehensions agents made along the Southwest border between October 2016 and May 2017.

The region’s mountains and the Rio Grande make it a difficult area for people to cross illegally into the U.S. from Mexico.

The Border Patrol website lists 38 agents who have died since late 2003, some attacked while working along the border, and other fatalities in traffic accidents. It lists one other agent death in the line of duty this year.

Fox News’ Mike Emanuel and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/

Trump’s personal banking information handed over to Robert Mueller – Trending Stuff

Deutsche Bank, Donald Trumps biggest lender, is forced to submit documents after special prosecutor issues subpoena

Donald Trumps banking information has formally been turned over to Robert Mueller, the special prosecutor who is investigating whether the presidents campaign conspired with the Kremlin during the 2016 presidential election.

Deutsche Bank, the German bank that serves as Trumps biggest lender, was forced to submit documents about its client relationship with the president and some of his family members, who are also Deutsche clients, after Mueller issued the bank with a subpoena for information, according to media reports. The news was first reported by Handelsblatt, the German newspaper.

The revelation makes it clear that Mueller and his team are investigating the presidents finances. Trumps son-in-law and White House adviser, Jared Kushner, is also a client.

Deutsche Bank declined to comment, but told Bloomberg in a statement that it always cooperated with investigating authorities.

Jay Sekulow, a lawyer for Trump, denied the report, telling Reuters: No subpoena has been issued or received. We have confirmed this with the bank and other sources.

Deutsche Bank declined to comment on Sekulows statement. But Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House intelligence committee, which is investigating the Trump campaign, said Muellers reported subpoena of Deutsche Bank would be a very significant development.

If Russia laundered money through the Trump Organization, it would be far more compromising than any salacious video and could be used as leverage against Donald Trump and his associates and family, Schiff said in a statement. He was referring to a private investigators unsubstantiated allegation that the Kremlin had video proof of the presidents involvement in a salacious sex act.

Schiff also noted that the presidents son, Donald Trump Jr, has stated in the past that the Trump Organization received substantial funding from Russia and that there have been credible allegations that Russians have used the company to buy Trump properties for the purpose of money laundering.

Legal experts who are following the investigation said it showed Mueller was following the money in his search for possible links between the presidential campaign and the Kremlin.

It also indicated that any investigation into Trump personally may not be limited to the question of whether or not the president sought to obstruct justice when he fired the former FBI chief James Comey.

Instead, said Ryan Goodman, a New York law professor and former Pentagon counsel, it showed that Mueller was possibly examining whether the president could be compromised by Russian interests.

Deutsche Bank relates to the Russia collusion investigation, Goodman said.

He pointed to the banks known relationships with Russian oligarchs and its previous dealings in Moscow among reasons why Mueller would be interested in having access to Trumps bank accounts. The president was in the past loaned about $300m by the bank. His indebtedness, Goodman said, means that Mueller will want to examine if there are any connections between Russia and the presidents financial vulnerabilities.

How serious are the allegations?

The story of Donald Trump andRussiacomes down to this: a sitting president or his campaign is suspected of having coordinated with a foreign country to manipulate a US election. The story could not be bigger, and the stakes for Trump and the country could not be higher.

What are the key questions?

Investigators are asking two basic questions: did Trumps presidential campaign collude at any level with Russian operatives to sway the 2016 US presidential election? And did Trump or others break the law to throw investigators off the trail?

What does the country think?

While a majority of the American public now believes that Russia tried to disrupt the US election, opinions about Trump campaign involvement tend to split along partisan lines: 73% of Republicans, but only 13% of Democrats,believeTrump did nothing wrong in his dealings with Russia and its president, Vladimir Putin.

What are the implications for Trump?

The affair has the potential to eject Trump from office.Experienced legal observers believethat prosecutors are investigating whether Trump committed an obstruction of justice. Both Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton the only presidents to face impeachment proceedings in the last century were accused of obstruction of justice. But Trumps fate is probably up to the voters. Even if strong evidence of wrongdoing by him or his cohort emerged, a Republican congressional majority would probably block any action to remove him from office. (Such an action would be a historical rarity.)

What has happened so far?

Former foreign policy adviser George Papadopolous pleaded guilty to perjury over his contacts with Russians linked to the Kremlin, and the presidents former campaign managerPaul Manafortand another aide face charges of money laundering.

When will the inquiry come to an end?

The investigations have an open timeline.

Trump has consistently denied any collusion between his campaign and Russia and has stated that he did not have any business dealings in Russia. Since then, news has emerged that the Trump Organization sold a significant number of its properties to Russian clients and explored opening a hotel in Moscow, though the plan never came to fruition.

The president has repeatedly criticised the Mueller investigation and this weekend alleged that the FBIs reputation was in tatters. The attack followed the guilty plea of Trumps former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, who is cooperating with federal investigators.

Muellers investigators have, according to previous media reports, examined Russian purchases of Trump-owned apartments, the presidents involvement with Russian associates in a development in SoHo, New York, and the presidents 2008 sale of his Florida mansion to a Russian oligarch, Dmitry Rybolovlev.

News of the subpoena was not unexpected. The Guardian reported in July that executives at the bank were anticipating they would receive a formal demand for the presidents banking records and had already established informal contacts with Muellers investigators.

The development nevertheless represents a significant blow to the president.

Deutsche Bank has for months been the subject of intense scrutiny especially by Democrats on Capitol Hill because of its dealings with the president and its history of banking violations, including its dealings in Russia.

The $300m in loans, some of which may have been restructured, were extended to Trump before he became president.

He has four large mortgages, all issued by Deutsches private bank. The loans are guaranteed against the presidents properties: a deluxe hotel in Washington DCs Old Post Office building, just around the corner from the White House; his Chicago tower hotel; and the Trump National Doral Miami resort.

The Guardian reported in February that the bank had launched a review of Trumps account earlier this year to gauge whether there were any connections to Russia and had not discovered anything suspicious.

Ivanka Trump, the presidents daughter and adviser in the White House and Kushners mother, Seryl Stadtmauer, are also clients of Deutsche Bank.

Deutsche Bank has been the only financial institution willing to lend Trump significant sums since the 1990s, a period in which other Wall Street banks turned off the tap after Trumps companies declared bankruptcy.

The German bank sued Trump in November 2008 after he failed to repay a $40m debt on a $640m real estate loan. Trump countersued and the matter was eventually settled in 2010. Trump then began doing business with Deutsches private banking business, which extended new loans despite the banks history of litigation with the onetime real estate tycoon.

The special counsels office declined to comment.

Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/us

How Trump walked into Putins web – Trending Stuff

Trump and Putin at the Apec summit in Vietnam this week. Photograph: Mikhail Klimentyev/TASS

In September, Steele went back to Rome. There he met with an FBI team. Their response was one of shock and horror, Steele said. The bureau asked him to explain how he had compiled his reports, and to give background on his sources. It asked him to send future copies.

Steele had hoped for a thorough and decisive FBI investigation. Instead, it moved cautiously. The agency told him that it couldnt intervene or go public with material involving a presidential candidate. Then it went silent. Steeles frustrations grew.

Later that month, Steele had a series of off-the-record meetings with a small number of US journalists. They included the New York Times, the Washington Post, Yahoo! News, the New Yorker and CNN. In mid-October he visited New York and met with reporters again.

Comey then announced he was reopening an investigation into Clintons use of a private email server. At this point, Steeles relationship with the FBI broke down. The excuse given by the bureau for saying nothing about Trump looked bogus. In late October, Steele spoke to the Mother Jones editor David Corn via Skype.

The story was of huge significance, way above party politics, Steele said. He believed Trumps Republican colleagues should be aware of this stuff as well. Of his own reputation, Steele said: My track record as a professional is second to no one. Steele acknowledged that his memos were works in progress, and was genuinely worried about the implications of the allegations. The story has to come out, he told Corn.

At this point Steele was still anonymous, a ghost. But the ghosts message was rapidly circulating on Capitol Hill and inside Washingtons spy agencies, as well as among certain journalists and thinktanks. Democratic senators now apprised of Steeles work were growing exasperated. The FBI seemed unduly keen to trash Clintons reputation while sitting on explosive material concerning Trump.

One of those who was aware of the dossiers broad allegations was the Senate minority leader, Harry Reid, a Democrat. In August Reid, had written to Comey and asked for an inquiry into the connections between the Russian government and Donald Trumps presidential campaign. In October, Reid wrote to Comey again. This time he framed his inquiry in scathing terms. In a clear reference to Steele, Reid wrote: In my communications with you and other top officials in the national security community, it has become clear that you possess explosive information about close ties and coordination between Donald Trump, his top advisors and the Russian government The public has a right to know this information.

But all this frantic activity came to nought. Just as Nixon was re-elected during the early stages of Watergate, Trump won the presidential election, to general dismay, at a time when the Russia scandal was small but growing. Steele had found prima facie evidence of a conspiracy, but by and large the US public knew nothing about it. In November, his dossier began circulating in the top national security echelons of the Obama administration. But it was too late.


The same month a group of international experts gathered in Halifax on Canadas eastern seaboard. Their task: to make sense of the world in the aftermath of Trumps stunning victory. One of the delegates attending the Halifax International Security Forum was Senator John McCain. Another was Sir Andrew Wood, the UKs former ambassador to Russia. Wood was a friend of Steeles and an Orbis associate. Before the election, Steele had gone to Wood and shown him the dossier. He wanted the ambassadors advice. What should he do, or not do, with it? Of the dossier, Wood told me: I took it seriously.

On the margins of the Halifax conference, Wood briefed McCain about Steeles dossier its contents, if true

Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/us

Eight people killed in New York ‘act of terror’ after truck drives on to bike path – Trending Stuff

Suspect, 29, is in hospital after being shot by officer as mayor says attack being treated as a particularly cowardly act of terror

Eight people have been killed and more than a dozen injured after a man drove a truck nearly a mile down a bike path in lower Manhattan on Tuesday, striking pedestrians, cyclists and a school bus.

New York Citys mayor, Bill de Blasio, said the incident was being treated as a particularly cowardly act of terror. He said a police officer assigned to the area stopped the attacker by shooting him in the stomach.

After smashing into the school bus, injuring two adults and two children, the 29-year-old suspect exited the truck displaying imitation firearms. Witnesses have said the suspect was shouting Allahu Akbar, Arabic for God is great, before he was shot by police, according to the New York police department (NYPD). The suspect was arrested, and a paintball gun and a pellet gun were recovered at the scene.

The suspect underwent surgery and was in critical condition but was expected to survive. Officials who werent authorised to discuss the investigation and spoke on the condition of anonymity identified the attacker as 29-year-old Sayfullo Saipov, an Uzbek citizen who came to the US legally in 2010. Saipov has a Florida driving licence but may have been living in New Jersey, reports said.

Uber said Saipov was one of its drivers who had passed a background check and had been actively driving for the ride-hailing app for more than six months.

Map of Manhattan truck attack

Police said the truck drove south after entering a pedestrian and bicycle path along the Hudson river on the south-west side of Manhattan, where it struck a number of people, coming to a stop near Stuyvesant High school, not far from the One World Trade Center site and Rockefeller Park.

Six men were pronounced dead at the scene on the cycle lane and two other people were dead on arrival at hospital.

It is a very painful day in our city, De Blasio said.

The victims include a Belgian citizen and five Argentinians. The five men from Argentina Hernn Diego Mendoza, Diego Enrique Angelini, Alejandro Damin Pagnucco, Ariel Erlij and Hernn Ferruchi were part of a group of school friends who travelled to New York to celebrate the 30th anniversary of their graduation. Another member of the group, Martin Ludovico Marro, remained in hospital.

The justice department said in a statement that a joint terrorism task force that included the FBI, the NYPD and others was investigating the attack.

There have been multiple and conflicting reports of a note and/or flag showing support for Isis had been found in the truck used in the attack. The reports have not been officially confirmed.

Eight people killed after truck drives on to New York bike path video report

The New York Times reported that handwritten notes in Arabic near the truck indicated allegiance to the Islamic State, while CNN said a note was written in English, also indicating support for Isis, and was found inside the truck. Others including the Daily Mail claimed an Isis flag was found in the truck.

A woman from Cincinnati, Ohio, contacted by the Guardian, who identified herself as Dilfuza Iskhakova, said Saipov had stayed at her home for several months about six years ago, after arriving in the US from Uzbekistan. He seemed like a nice guy, but he didnt talk much, said Iskhakova. He only went to work and came back. He used to work at a warehouse.

Iskhakova said Saipov had been applying for a green card during this time. Ohio state records show he registered a business involving vehicles to her home in May 2011. Iskhakova said her family lost contact with Saipov in recent years. She said she thought he had moved from Ohio to Florida, and then to the New York region, and that he had a wife and two young daughters.

She said she did not know if Saipov was religious. Hes from my country, Iskhakova said. His father knows my husband, and sent Sayfullo here because he didnt know anyone.

Officials in New York said additional resources were deployed around the city, where children would be on the streets late into the evening to celebrate Halloween. The citys landmark Halloween parade in Greenwich Village, about six blocks from where the rampage began, continued as usual.

At a news conference, the New York governor, Andrew Cuomo, said these resources were being deployed out of an abundance of caution and that there was no indication of additional threats.

Donald Trump tweeted about the incident: In NYC, looks like another attack by a very sick and deranged person. Law enforcement is following this closely. NOT IN THE U.S.A.!

Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/us

Wife of demoted DOJ official worked for firm behind anti-Trump dossier – Trending Stuff

EXCLUSIVE: A senior Justice Department official demoted last week for concealing his meetings with the men behind the anti-Trump “dossier” had even closer ties to Fusion GPS, the firm responsible for the incendiary document, than have been disclosed, Fox News has confirmed: The official’s wife worked for Fusion GPS during the 2016 election.

Contacted by Fox News, investigators for the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) confirmed that Nellie H. Ohr, wife of the demoted official, Bruce G. Ohr, worked for the opposition research firm last year. The precise nature of Mrs. Ohr’s duties – including whether she worked on the dossier – remains unclear but a review of her published works available online reveals Mrs. Ohr has written extensively on Russia-related subjects. HPSCI staff confirmed to Fox News that she was paid by Fusion GPS through the summer and fall of 2016.

Fusion GPS has attracted scrutiny because Republican lawmakers have spent the better part of this year investigating whether the dossier, which was funded by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee, served as the basis for the Justice Department and the FBI to obtain FISA surveillance last year on a Trump campaign adviser named Carter Page.

“The House Intelligence Committee,” Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., told Fox News in a statement on Monday, “is looking into all facets of the connections between the Department of Justice and Fusion GPS, including Mr. Ohr.”

Until Dec. 6, when Fox News began making inquiries about him, Bruce Ohr held two titles at DOJ. He was, and remains, director of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force; but his other job was far more senior. Mr. Ohr held the rank of associate deputy attorney general, a post that gave him an office four doors down from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. The day before Fox News reported that Mr. Ohr held his secret meetings last year with the founder of Fusion GPS, Glenn Simpson, and with Christopher Steele, the former British spy who compiled the dossier, the Justice Department stripped Ohr of his deputy title and ousted him from his fourth floor office at the building that DOJ insiders call “Main Justice.”

The Department of Justice has provided no public explanation for Ohr’s demotion. Officials inside the Department have told Fox News his wearing of two hats was “unusual,” but also confirm Ohr had withheld his contacts with the Fusion GPS men from colleagues at the DOJ. 

Bruce G. Ohr was demoted at the DOJ for concealing his meetings with the men behind the anti-Trump ‘dossier.’  (AP)

Former FBI Director James Comey has described the dossier as a compendium of “salacious and unverified” allegations about then-candidate Donald Trump and his associates, including Page, a foreign policy adviser. The dossier was provided to the FBI in July 2016, shortly before then-candidate Donald Trump accepted the Republican presidential nomination. As Comey later testified, it was in that same month that the FBI began a counterintelligence probe of alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.

The disclosure by Fox News that Bruce Ohr met with Simpson and Steele last year expanded the reach of the dossier’s creators from the FBI into the top echelons of the Justice Department. Initial investigation suggested that Steele, a longtime FBI informant whose contacts with Mr. Ohr are said to date back a decade, might have played the central role in putting Simpson together with the associate deputy attorney general. Now, the revelation that Mrs. Ohr worked for Simpson calls that account into question.

A review of open source materials shows Mrs. Ohr was described as a Russia expert at the Wilson Center, a Washington think tank, when she worked there, briefly, a decade ago. The Center’s website said her project focused on the experiences of Russian farmers during Stalin’s collectivization program and following the invasion of Russia by Nazi forces in 1941. She has also reviewed a number of books about twentieth century Russia, including Reconstructing the State: Personal Networks and Elite Identity in Soviet Russia (2000), by Gerald Easter, a political scientist at Boston College, and Bertrand M. Patenaude’s The Big Show in Bololand: The American Relief Expedition to Soviet Russia in the Famine of 1921 (2002).

Contacted by Fox News late Monday, DOJ officials declined to comment.

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., the ranking Democrat on the intelligence committee, declined to comment on the original disclosure about Mr. Ohr’s secret meetings, and did not immediately respond to a request for comment about Mrs. Ohr.

While Nunes has issued numerous subpoenas to DOJ and FBI relating to the dossier, and has threatened contempt-of-Congress citations against Rosenstein and FBI Director Christopher Wray for what congressional Republicans have termed “stonewalling” by the two agencies, Schiff has mostly objected to the demands for documents and witnesses, casting the entire dossier probe as innately political. “I think there’s a hope that if they can impeach Christopher Steele, and they can impeach the FBI and DOJ, maybe they can impeach the whole Russia investigation,” Schiff told MSNBC in September.

James Rosen joined FOX News Channel (FNC) in 1999 and is the network’s chief Washington correspondent.

Jake Gibson is a producer working at the Fox News Washington bureau who covers politics, law enforcement and intelligence issues.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/

Trump nominee for top Agriculture post withdraws amid Russia probe – Trending Stuff

(CNN)Sam Clovis, President Donald Trump’s nominee to be the Department of Agriculture’s chief scientist, withdrew himself from consideration Thursday, the White House announced.

Sources told CNN earlier Thursday that Clovis’ nomination was imperiled over his connections to the ongoing Russia probe. The development is the latest sign that Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into the Trump campaign and Russian collusion is impacting the day-to-day of Trump’s administration, despite top White House aides — including Trump himself — claiming that the indictments of former top Trump campaign advisers Paul Manafort and Rick Gates had nothing to do with the administration or the campaign.

“The political climate inside Washington has made it impossible for me to receive balanced and fair consideration for this position,” Clovis wrote in a letter addressed to Trump that was dated Tuesday. “The relentless assaults on you and your team seem to be a blood sport that only increases in intensity each day. As I am focused on your success and the success of this administration, I do not want to be a distraction or negative influence, particularly with so much important work left to do for the American people.”

Clovis, who was already serving as the senior White House adviser on the Agriculture Department, added that he will “continue to serve at the pleasure of you and the secretary of agriculture.”

Questions are swirling over Clovis’ relationship with George Papadopoulos — the Trump campaign foreign policy adviser who has admitted to making a false statement to the FBI regarding his interactions with foreign officials close to the Russian government — and a trip Papadopoulos took during the election where he met with a Russian figure.

The White House did not comment Wednesday night, and messages to Clovis’ attorney regarding the latest developments in the Russia investigation were not returned.

Asked Monday if Trump was “still comfortable” with Clovis serving in the administration, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders responded, “I’m not aware of any change that would be necessary.”

The Washington Post reported earlier this week that Clovis was one of the campaign officials referred to in court documents who Papadopoulos was emailing with. The FBI did not identify Clovis.

In the wake of the Post’s report, Clovis’ attorney said that inside the campaign, Clovis always “vigorously” opposed any Russian trip for Trump or staff. The attorney, Victoria Toensing, said in a statement that if a volunteer made a foreign policy suggestion, as a “polite gentleman from Iowa (he) would have expressed courtesy and appreciation.”

She also said that Clovis would have had no authority to prohibit personal travel.

Sen. Debbie Stabenow, the ranking Democrat on the Senate agriculture committee, said court records released this week raised more questions over Clovis’ nomination.

“From early on, I have strongly opposed the nomination of Sam Clovis to be the chief scientist at USDA,” she said in a statement. “The emerging information about his role in the Trump campaign’s interactions with Russia raises serious concerns. As we consider his nomination, I will be looking into these facts, along with his questionable qualifications and long history of divisive and outrageous statements.”

Clovis, a former conservative radio talk show host in Iowa who was a frequent guest on CNN during the election, became an early supporter of Trump’s two years ago. He quickly rose through the ranks of the campaign after Trump’s strong finish in the Iowa caucuses, taking a national role in the organization as officials scrambled to build a campaign team.

Clovis, a novice to national presidential campaigns, was supervising Papadopoulos and became a visible spokesman for Trump on CNN and other networks.

A Republican official close to Clovis told CNN earlier Thursday that he remained loyal to Trump, adding that Clovis would not have fought the White House in backing away from his USDA nomination if asked.

“There’s no way he would fight this or cause trouble for the White House,” a Republican official and longtime associate of Clovis said.

This story has been updated to reflect Clovis’ withdrawal.

Categories CNN

Papadopoulos Claimed Trump Campaign Approved Russia Meeting – Trending Stuff

Former Trump adviser George Papadopoulos made a significant claim in an email: Top Trump campaign officials agreed to a pre-election meeting with representatives of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The message, if true, would bolster claims that Trump’s campaign attempted to collude with Russian interests. But it’s unclear whether Papadopoulos, who pleaded guilty to lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, was merely boasting when he sent the July 14, 2016, email to a Kremlin-linked contact. There’s also no indication such a meeting ever occurred.

George Papadopoulos, third from the left, seen in this Instagram post by Trump.

The email is cited in an FBI agent’s affidavit supporting criminal charges against Papadopoulos, a young foreign policy volunteer on Trump’s campaign. But it’s not included in court documents that detailed his secret guilty plea and his cooperation with Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

Mueller Probe

The evidence gleaned during Papadopoulos’s three months of cooperation could further advance Mueller’s investigation into possible collusion by Trump’s aides. This latest email, one of many unsealed on Monday, runs counter to the steadfast denials by Trump and his supporters that anyone attempted to work with the Russians. Trump tweeted on Tuesday that Papadopoulos, a low-level adviser that few people on the campaign knew, “has already proven to be a liar.”

Prosecutors didn’t explain why the email wasn’t included in the detailed admissions of Papadopoulos’s wrongdoing, and it’s possible they concluded the assertions weren’t true.

Writing to the Russian contact a week before the Republican National Convention, Papadopoulos proposed a meeting for August or September in the U.K. that would include “my national chairman and maybe one other foreign policy adviser” and members of Putin’s office and Russia’s foreign ministry.

“It has been approved by our side,” Papadopoulos wrote. 

Campaign Officials

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Investigators don’t identify campaign officials by name in the emails. Paul Manafort was the campaign chairman at the time, having taken over from Corey Lewandowski. Sam Clovis was the campaign’s national co-chairman.

Manafort and his associate Rick Gates were charged with conspiracy, money laundering and false statements about their political work on behalf of Ukrainians in an indictment that was also unsealed on Monday. Both men pleaded not guilty.

Your Guide to Understanding the Trump-Russia Saga: QuickTake Q&A

Jason Maloni, a spokesman for Manafort, said that his client had rebuffed overtures to meet with Russians, and noted an email from May in which Manafort shot down a different attempt to have Trump meet with Putin or his representatives.

“Mr. Manafort’s swift action reflects the attitude of the campaign — any invitation by Russia, directly or indirectly, would be rejected outright,” Maloni said in a written statement. “His request that the response come from a low-level staffer sent a clear signal that the invitation did not merit consideration. This is concrete evidence the Russia collusion narrative is fake news.”

Campaign Rules

Clovis, in a statement, said Papadopoulos was acting on his own and that the campaign had a strict rule against traveling abroad and claiming to speak on behalf of the campaign.

Still, Clovis supervised Papadopoulos and was questioned last week by Mueller’s team and testified before a grand jury, NBC reported, citing a person with knowledge of the matter. Whether he corroborated Papadopoulos’s version of events is unknown. Embraced by the campaign with his connection to the important primary state of Iowa, Clovis is now working in the Department of Agriculture while awaiting approval by Congress to become the agency’s chief scientist. NBC said his lawyer declined to comment on its inquiries about his testimony.

Asked whether the indictments this week and Clovis’s role in the Trump campaign could delay his confirmation proceedings, Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts said, “to be determined.”

Volunteer Adviser

Papadopoulos was one of five volunteer advisers on foreign policy identified by Trump in a March 2016 interview. Over the next several months, according to court documents, he cultivated at least three contacts who promised “dirt” on Trump’s Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, and introductions to top-level Russians. He kept some people in the campaign apprised of his efforts by email.

The communications, by Skype, Facebook, text and email, show the electronic trail the government is following to verify how the campaign handled Russian contacts.

One of those people, identified in court documents as Foreign Contact 2, is Ivan Timofeev, Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Tuesday. He works for the Moscow-based Russian International Affairs Council, a Kremlin-linked research group, and isn’t a foreign ministry employee, despite Papadopoulos’s assertion, she said.

Timofeev declined to comment by email but posted on his group’s site that he believed Papadopoulos was working on his own initiative. “Apparently, he was an enthusiast with little experience,” he said.

In a private Facebook message to Timofeev during the Republican National Convention, Papadopoulos wrote, “Keep an eye on the speech tonight. Should be good.”

Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/

Trump ‘seething’ as Mueller probe reaches former aides – Trending Stuff

Washington (CNN)The dramatic intensification of the Russia investigation on Monday reignited President Donald Trump’s fury at the controversy clouding his presidency, prompting his aides to urgently advise him against lashing out at special counsel Robert Mueller as they work to revive a halting policy agenda.

Watching the developments unfold on the large television screens installed in his private residence, Trump was “seething,” according to a Republican close to the White House.

The indictments on Monday of campaign aides Paul Manafort and Rick Gates weren’t a surprise to Trump, according to people who have spoken with the President. Trump has long assumed that members of his presidential campaign would be swept up in Mueller’s probe.
The revelation that another campaign adviser, George Papadopoulos, pleaded guilty to making false statements to the FBI was far less expected, the sources said. And the assumption that Papadopoulos is cooperating with the FBI’s Russia probe stirred even more unease among Trump’s allies.

Even as the White House sought to downplay the developments, the charges only served to fuel questions about Trump’s ties to Russia, which he has angrily denied and worked to discredit.

A question Trump asked on Twitter — punctuated by five question marks — offered the clearest window into his mindset: “But why aren’t Crooked Hillary & the Dems the focus?????”

The President’s attempt to change the subject was complicated by the highly detailed indictments of his two former aides, which painted Manafort as a well-compensated broker of pro-Russian interests. It was complicated even more by the unveiling of a guilty plea from a third adviser who had repeated contacts with officials close to the Kremlin — the clearest connection so far between the Trump campaign and Russia.

As revelations from the Russia investigation rocked Washington on Monday, Trump spent much of the day hunkered down, surrounded by only a handful of aides in the third-story living quarters of the White House.

Huddled with members of his legal team — including Ty Cobb, his in-house lawyer focused on the Mueller probe; John Dowd, an outside legal adviser; and Jay Sekulow, who called into the White House from his base in Nashville — Trump was bolstered by the sense among his team that the charges against Manafort bore only the loosest connections to the presidential campaign. He griped that Manafort’s role on his campaign had taken outsized importance in the media, and insisted his former chairman played only a minor role.

Senior aides, according to a senior White House official, expected Mueller to target top members of Trump’s campaign team like Manafort, but the addition of Papadopoulos surprised the President.

“The President is going, ‘Really, this is the guy?’ ” a senior White House official said in describing Trump’s reaction to Papadopoulos’ guilty plea.

As the morning carried on, however, Trump grew increasingly frustrated as he viewed cable news coverage of his onetime campaign chairman arriving at the FBI field office in downtown Washington, believing his former aides’ roles were being inflated.

Full combat mode

The West Wing suddenly was back in full combat mode, with an internal tug-of-war emerging over how aggressively Trump should seek to discredit Mueller and his investigation. Even as White House lawyers urged the President to avoid directly criticizing Mueller, other advisers — including his former chief strategist Steve Bannon — suggested he aggressively push back.

“Calling for Mueller’s firing would undercut the White House argument,” one senior administration official told CNN.

Cobb, a White House lawyer, has been a leading voice inside the West Wing to urge cooperation with Mueller’s investigation. White House chief of staff John Kelly has reinforced that argument inside the administration. Both have told Trump that providing Mueller with information — including, potentially, an interview with the President himself — would allow the investigation to reach a conclusion quicker.

Their recommendations have gone beyond simply cooperation, however; Cobb and Kelly have both warned Trump that spouting off on Mueller on Twitter or during friendly interviews on Fox News would backfire badly.

For the past several months, Trump has largely followed that advice. But as word of indictments emerged late last week, other members of his team — both West Wing aides and informal advisers — have said that Trump’s kid-gloves approach to Mueller has yielded no results.

Bannon, who was dismissed in August, has told associates that Trump’s legal team is steering the President in the wrong direction, and has suggested a more combative approach to Mueller, according to administration officials.

A source familiar with Bannon’s thinking tells CNN that he is urging the President to start to fight back aggressively against Mueller.

He wants the White House to get Republicans to cut funding, publicly debate Mueller’s mandate and slow down document production in court. But so far there is no evidence that Trump is willing to change course and several Republican lawmakers have warned against going after Mueller.

“The President frequently changes his mind,” said one person familiar with the President’s legal strategy, “and we are always revisiting every plan.”

Another person familiar with the President’s thinking said it wouldn’t be surprising for more lawyers to join Trump’s legal team.

‘Continuing to cooperate’

Many of the President’s allies have privately speculated that Monday’s indictments only made it more likely he would ultimately find some way of hampering the probe, including potentially dismissing Mueller.

Cobb took care to note in a statement the President was “continuing to cooperate” with the special counsel’s office and investigation, and White House press secretary Sarah Sanders would only say Monday the President has “no intention or plan” to fire Mueller.

During his morning session with his lawyers, Trump asked for an explanation of the federal grand jury indictment process, and why a sealed indictment was used, according to a senior White House official. He was also interested to know whether the indictments signaled that the investigation is speeding up toward its conclusion, the official said.

Officially, the White House insists the probe is nearing its end.

“We still expect this to conclude soon,” Sanders said.

But privately, there are few legal experts or even close allies of Trump who believe Mueller is close to finished.

A sense of tension and uncertainty was palpable in the West Wing on Monday, officials said, as they sought to keep the President focused on the week’s busy calendar. The dramatic scaling up of Mueller’s investigation into his campaign’s ties to Russia comes ahead of what the White House hoped would be a policy-centric several weeks, with the opportunity to reset an off-course agenda.

Republicans on Wednesday are set to visit the White House after unveiling their tax plan on Capitol Hill. Trump is expected to introduce Jerome Powell as his Federal Reserve chairman on Thursday. And on Friday he departs for a 12-day trip to Asia, where North Korea’s nuclear threat will demand full attention.

Presidential trip looms

Trump’s Asia swing amounts to the longest presidential trip to that continent in decades, a fact that has some of his advisers anxious about the results that jet lag and a foreign environment could have on the President’s mindset.

It won’t be the first time Trump has departed overseas just as a swirl of Russia-related scandal mounts back home. A day before he departed for his first presidential foreign trip in May, the Justice Department appointed Mueller as special counsel, ensuring the story would follow Trump on his stops in the Middle East and Europe.

Trump avoided tweeting almost entirely on that first swing, his cantankerous mood tempered by the presence of his wife, Melania, and a rapid-pace schedule that included stops in five countries.

Some of Trump’s advisers have already expressed the hope his trip to Asia proceeds in similar fashion — though they acknowledge that attempts to rein in Trump’s behavior often result in the President entrenching himself in the very actions his advisers recommended against.

Trump, meanwhile, has expressed concern the special counsel’s ongoing investigation could hurt his ability to negotiate with foreign leaders as he prepares to head to Asia.

“He worries about his ability to negotiate with various entities and how much he’s hamstrung by this,” the official said, adding the President feels hobbled by the investigation and he and the White House believe he will be in a stronger position politically and internationally once the investigation concludes.

At the heart of the President’s fury is the very existence of the special counsel, for which he still blames Attorney General Jeff Session and his decision to recuse himself from the Russia investigation.

At a previously scheduled lunch on Monday with Sessions in the private dining room just off the Oval Office, an official said the President did not raise the Russia investigation. Rather, a spokesman said, they talked about immigration, the opioid epidemic and upcoming judicial appointments.

And Trump revealed few outward worries when he emerged in public late in the day Monday to greet trick-or-treaters from a spider-webbed White House South Portico. With Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” blaring from the speakers, Trump handed out plastic-wrapped cookies and high-fived costumed kids — including a skeleton in a “Make America Great Again” hat.

But when a reporter shouted a question about the day’s indictments, all Trump did was wave.

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Categories CNN

Flynn pleads guilty to lying to FBI, is cooperating with Mueller – Trending Stuff

Washington (CNN)Former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn pleaded guilty Friday to lying to the FBI about conversations with Russia’s ambassador and disclosed that he is cooperating with the special counsel’s office.

Flynn is the first person inside President Donald Trump’s administration to be reached by special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe. The developments are a sign that the investigation is intensifying, and details revealed Friday provide the clearest picture yet of coordination between Flynn and other Trump advisers in their contact with Russian officials to influence international policy.

According to an FBI statement, Flynn communicated with then-Russian Ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak after being asked by a senior Trump transition official to find out how foreign governments stood on a coming UN Security Council resolution about Israel. The prosecutors did not name any transition officials.

Sources familiar with the matter told CNN that Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner is the senior official referred to in the statement of offense.

An attorney for Kushner, now a White House senior adviser, did not comment.

The White House said late Friday morning that “nothing about the guilty plea or the charge implicates anyone other than Mr. Flynn.

“The conclusion of this phase of the special counsel’s work demonstrates again that the special counsel is moving with all deliberate speed and clears the way for a prompt and reasonable conclusion,” Ty Cobb, a White House lawyer, said in a statement.

In court Friday morning, Flynn’s only comments were to answer yes and no to questions from the judge. He told the judge he has not been coerced to plead guilty or been promised a specific sentence. Flynn faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison, according to federal sentencing guidelines, though the judge Friday morning stressed he could impose a harsher or lighter sentence.

In a statement, Flynn said he acknowledged that his actions “were wrong, and, through my faith in God, I am working to set things right.

“My guilty plea and agreement to cooperate with the Special Counsel’s Office reflect a decision I made in the best interests of my family and of our country. I accept full responsibility for my actions,” he said.

Flynn is the fourth person connected to Trump’s campaign to be charged as part of Mueller’s investigation into possible collusion between the Russian government and members of Trump’s team, as well as potential obstruction of justice and financial crimes.

Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his deputy Rick Gates were indicted last month; they pleaded not guilty. And Trump campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos pleaded guilty for making a false statement to the FBI over contacts with officials connected to the Russian government.

Flynn’s plea agreement stipulates that he’ll cooperate with federal, state or even local investigators in any way Mueller’s office might need, according to a document filed in court Friday. He could also be required to participate in covert law enforcement operations (such as wearing a wire) if asked, or share details of his past dealings with the Trump transition and administration.

The agreement adds that Mueller’s office won’t prosecute Flynn for additional crimes they outlined in his statement of offense Friday, such as his misreported foreign lobbying filings about his work for Turkey. If other prosecutors outside the special counsel’s office, such as US attorneys or state law enforcement, wanted to charge Flynn with alleged crimes, they still could, and he’s not protected if he lies to investigators again in the future or breaks the terms of his plea agreement.

Calls made during transition

In court, prosecutors detailed calls made by Flynn in late December 2016 to the senior Trump transition team at Mar-a-Lago to discuss conversations with Kislyak. There were multiple conversations with the transition while he was having conversations with Kisyak about Russia sanctions and the Russian response.

According to a statement of offense filed in court, Flynn conducted several calls with senior officials on the Trump transition team about his discussions with Kislyak related to US sanctions of Russia.

Flynn and Trump advisers discussed US sanctions three times. The first call discussed the potential impact on the “incoming administration’s foreign policy goals,” according to the court filing, from which details were partially read during Flynn’s plea hearing.

Flynn then called Kislyak to ask that Russia not respond too harshly to US sanctions, the statement of offense said. He told a Trump transition official about that call. Russia responded by choosing not to retaliate to the sanctions.

KT McFarland was a senior transition official at Mar-a-Lago who was described as discussing with Flynn what, if anything, to communicate to the Russian ambassador about US sanctions, according to sources familiar with the matter. McFarland was not named in the document, but sources confirmed she was one of the transition officials described in the court filings.

An attorney for McFarland declined comment.

McFarland met with Mueller investigators recently to answer questions about Flynn, according to the sources.

According to the special counsel charges, McFarland and Flynn talked about the potential impact of the sanctions on the incoming Trump administration’s foreign policy and that the transition team did not want Russia to escalate the situation.

The bulk of the back-and-forth calls from Flynn to the Russian ambassador and to Trump advisers happened around December 29, while the advisers were at Mar-a-Lago in Florida.

They “discussed that the members of the presidential transition team at Mar-a-Lago did not want Russia to escalate the situation,” the filing said.

Flynn lied to investigators about these calls with the ambassador, according to his guilty plea and the criminal statement of offense.

The charging document states that Flynn made a false statement to the FBI when he stated that in December 2016 he did not ask Kislyak “to refrain from escalating the situation in response to sanctions that the United States had imposed against Russia that same day; and Flynn did not recall the Russian ambassador subsequently telling him that Russia had chosen to moderate its response to those sanctions as a result of his request.”

The document also says that Flynn falsely said he did not ask Kislyak to delay the vote on a pending United Nations Security Council resolution.

Flynn’s other instance of lying to investigators involved what he told them about his conversations with foreign officials related to their planned UN Security Council votes on Israeli settlements.

A “very senior member” of Trump’s transition team, who sources familiar with the matter told CNN was Kushner, told Flynn on December 22 to contact officials from foreign governments about how they would vote and “to influence those governments to delay the vote or defeat the resolution.”

Flynn then asked Kislyak to vote against or delay the resolution, the statement of offense said.

‘This is a win for the White House’

White House allies initially tried to put a positive spin on the news.

One person familiar with the mood in the West Wing insisted top White House officials were breathing a sigh of relief.

“People in the building are very happy,” the source said. “This doesn’t lead back to Trump in any way, shape or form.” The source noted that Flynn is being charged for making false statements, but not for any improper actions during the campaign.

“This is a further indication that there’s nothing there,” the source said. “This is a win for the White House.”

A source with knowledge of the legal team’s thinking tells CNN the Flynn plea “is not going to be a problem” for the President, though it could be a problem for people who worked with Flynn. The source said legal exposure for others would depend on what they might have said to the special counsel.

Hillary Clinton, whom Trump defeated in the 2016 general election and was the focus of the “lock her up” chant first popularized by Flynn at the Republican National Convention, declined through a spokesman to comment on Friday’s developments.

Stunning downfall for Flynn

Flynn’s lawyers have previously criticized media reports about his connection to the Russia investigation as peddling “unfounded allegations, outrageous claims of treason, and vicious innuendo directed against him.” Flynn hasn’t spoken publicly since his ouster in February.

The charges mark yet another stunning downfall for Flynn, 58, a retired general who rose to the highest ranks of the Army over a three-decade career — only to see him fired from the military by the Obama administration before unexpectedly rising again on the heels of Trump’s election victory.

A key campaign surrogate and adviser during Trump’s presidential campaign, Flynn was tapped as Trump’s national security adviser in November 2016, a senior White House job that put him in a vital role for all of the administration’s national security and foreign policy decisions.

Though he wasn’t initially considered for the top job, Trump’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, and son-in-law Jared Kushner made it clear to the Trump transition team that they wanted him there, CNN has reported.
Flynn would hold the job less than a month, resigning from the post after he misled Pence and then-chief of staff Reince Priebus about his conversations with Kislyak in which they discussed US sanctions against Russia.

Flynn is also the spark of potential trouble for the President in Mueller’s probe, as the special counsel is investigating potential obstruction of justice in the firing of FBI Director James Comey.

Comey testified before the Senate intelligence committee that Trump asked him to drop the Flynn probe during a February Oval Office meeting not long after Flynn resigned as national security adviser.

Talking about sanctions

Flynn’s conversations with Kislyak, which amounted to the crux of his guilty plea Friday, were the main reason for his firing shortly after Trump took office. The calls were captured by routine US eavesdropping targeting the Russian diplomat, CNN has reported.

The Trump transition team acknowledged that Flynn and Kislyak spoke on the day in December 2016 that the Obama administration issued new sanctions against Russia and expelled 35 diplomats, but they insisted the conversation did not include sanctions — including denials that Pence and Priebus later repeated on national television.

Flynn resigned on February 13 after reports that he and Kislyak had spoken about sanctions and that the Justice Department had warned the White House that Flynn was potentially vulnerable to blackmail by the Russians.

Details of how the DOJ warned the White House about Flynn’s conduct were revealed months later in stunning testimony from former acting Attorney General Sally Yates, who said that she “believed that General Flynn was compromised with respect to the Russians” because of the misleading denials.

Warnings before Trump took office

Flynn’s legal issues stem from foreign payments he received after he started his own consulting firm.

Flynn founded the Flynn Intel Group after he retired from the military in 2014. The Obama White House pushed him out of his role as head of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), the military’s intelligence arm. Flynn was fired over claims he was a poor manager, though he says he was ousted by Obama administration officials unwilling to listen to his warnings about the rise of ISIS and an increasingly aggressive Iran.

Before he was named national security adviser, the FBI began investigating Flynn for secretly working during the presidential campaign as an unregistered lobbyist for Turkey, an investigation he disclosed to the Trump transition team before Trump took office.

Flynn wasn’t the only Trump associate who faced scrutiny over foreign lobbying laws — Manafort also filed a retroactive registration earlier this year for work he previously did in Ukraine.

Federal investigators were probing whether Flynn was secretly paid by the Turkish government as part of its public campaign against Fethullah Gulen, a critic of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan who lives in exile in Pennsylvania. Erdogan blames Gulen and his supporters for plotting the failed Turkish coup last summer.

Payments from Russian businesses

Flynn has also been scrutinized for his work with Russian businesses.

In his initial financial disclosure form filed in February with the Office of Government Ethics, Flynn left off payments of thousands of dollars from RT, the Russian government-funded television network and two other Russian companies. Flynn subsequently added the payments in an amended disclosure.

Among the payouts, Flynn received $33,000 of a $45,000 speaking fee for a 2015 speech at a Moscow event hosted by RT, where he sat at the same table as Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Flynn’s presence at the gala celebrating RT’s 10th anniversary raised eyebrows among his critics. The US intelligence community said earlier this year that the Kremlin uses RT to push propaganda on American audiences, and that the English-language channel was involved in the effort to interfere in the election.

Trump said in May that he hadn’t known that Flynn took payments from Russia and Turkey.

Flynn’s son also faces scrutiny

Flynn’s son, Michael Flynn Jr., has also faced scrutiny from Mueller’s investigation, though he was not charged on Friday.

Flynn Jr. served as his father’s chief of staff and top aide at their consulting firm, the Flynn Intel Group. In that capacity, Flynn Jr. joined his father on overseas trips, such as Moscow in December 2015 when Flynn dined with Putin at the RT gala.

The younger Flynn has a penchant for spreading conspiracy theories on Twitter. He has smeared Trump’s opponents — ranging from Clinton to Republican Sen. Marco Rubio — as well as Muslims and other minorities. Most prominently, he peddled the debunked claim that a Washington pizzeria was a front for Democrats to sexually abuse children.

Flynn Jr. has remained defiant as the investigation has heated up. Days after Manafort and Gates were indicted, Flynn Jr. sent a message to his critics: “The disappointment on your faces when I don’t go to jail will be worth all your harassment.”

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Categories CNN

Trump, Assange, Bannon, Farage bound together in an unholy alliance

Nigel Farage, who visited Donald Trump and then Julian Assange. Photograph: Ken McKay/ITV/REX/Shutterstock

Because if theres one person whos in the middle of all of this, but who has escaped any proper scrutiny, its Nigel Farage. Thats Nigel Farage, who led the Leave.EU campaign, which is being investigated by the Electoral Commission alongside Cambridge Analytica, about whether the latter made an impermissible donation of services to the Leave campaign. Nigel Farage who visited Donald Trump and then Julian Assange. Who is friends with Steve Bannon and Robert Mercer. Who headed an organisation Ukip which has multiple, public, visible but almost entirely unreported Russian connections. Who is paid by the Russian state via the broadcaster RT, which was banned last week from Twitter. And who appears like clockwork on British television without any word of this.

This is a power network that involves Wikileaks and Farage, and Cambridge Analytica and Farage, and Robert Mercer and Farage. Steve Bannon, former vice president of Cambridge Analytica, and Farage. Its Nigel Farage and Brexit and Trump and Cambridge Analytica and Wikileaks and, if the Senate intelligence committee and the House intelligence committee and the FBI are on to anything at all, somewhere in the middle of all that, Russia.

Try to follow this on a daily basis and its one long headspin: a spiders web of relationships and networks of power and patronage and alliances that spans the Atlantic and embraces data firms, thinktanks and media outlets. It is about complicated corporate structures in obscure jurisdictions, involving offshore funds funnelled through the black-box algorithms of the platform tech monopolists. That its eye-wateringly complicated and geographically diffuse is not a coincidence. Confusion is the charlatans friend, noise its accessory. The babble on Twitter is a convenient cloak of darkness.

Yet its also quite simple. In a well-functioning democracy, a well-functioning press and a well-functioning parliament would help a well-functioning judiciary do its job. Britain is not that country. There is a vacuum where questions should be, the committees, the inquiries, the headlines on the TV bulletins. What was Nigel Farage doing in the Ecuadorian embassy? More to the point: why has no public official asked him? Why is he giving speeches for money in the US? Whos paying him? I know this because my weirdest new hobby of 2017 is to harry Arron Banks, the Bristol businessman who was Ukip and Leave.EUs main funder, and Andy Wigmore, Leave.EUs comms man and Belizes trade attache to the US, across the internet late at night. Wigmore told me about this new US venture an offshore-based political consultancy working on Steve Bannon-related projects in a series of tweets. Is it true? Who knows? Leave.EU has learned from its Trumpian friends that black is white and white is black and these half-facts are a convenient way of diffusing scandal and obscuring truth.

What on earth was Farage doing advancing Calexit Californian Brexit? And why did I find a photo of him hanging out with Dana Rohrabacher, the Californian known in the US press as Putins favourite congressman? The same Dana Rohrabacher whos met with Don Trump Jrs Russian lawyer and wait for it also visited Julian Assange in the Ecuadorian embassy. And who is now interceding on his behalf to obtain a pardon from Don Trump Juniors dad.

(You got this? Farage visited Trump, then Assange, then Rohrabacher. Rohrabacher met Don Trumps Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya. Then Assange. And is now trying to close the circle with Trump.)

In these post-truth times, journalists are fighting the equivalent of a firestorm with a bottle of water and a wet hankie. We desperately need help. We need public pressure. We need parliament to step up and start asking proper questions. There may be innocent answers to all these questions. Lets please just ask them.