Thursday, July 20, 2017

Russian To Judgment, Con't

Three stories today on the developments in the Trump/Russia investigation, both involving Trump's inner circle.  First, it turns out that former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort owed a bit of money to some folks, and while that's not suspicious in itself, the people Manafort owned money to are A) foreign interests and B) pro-Russian.

Financial records filed last year in the secretive tax haven of Cyprus, where Paul J. Manafort kept bank accounts during his years working in Ukraine and investing with a Russian oligarch, indicate that he had been in debt to pro-Russia interests by as much as $17 million before he joined Donald J. Trump’s presidential campaign in March 2016.

The money appears to have been owed by shell companies connected to Mr. Manafort’s business activities in Ukraine when he worked as a consultant to the pro-Russia Party of Regions. The Cyprus documents obtained by The New York Times include audited financial statements for the companies, which were part of a complex web of more than a dozen entities that transferred millions of dollars among them in the form of loans, payments and fees.

The records, which include details for numerous loans, were certified as accurate by an accounting firm as of December 2015, several months before Mr. Manafort joined the Trump campaign, and were filed with Cyprus government authorities in 2016. The notion of indebtedness on the part of Mr. Manafort also aligns with assertions made in a court complaint filed in Virginia in 2015 by the Russian oligarch, Oleg V. Deripaska, who claimed Mr. Manafort and his partners owed him $19 million related to a failed investment in a Ukrainian cable television business.

After The Times shared some of the documents with representatives of Mr. Manafort, a spokesman, Jason Maloni, did not address whether the debts might have existed at one time. But he maintained that the Cyprus records were “stale and do not purport to reflect any current financial arrangements.”

A campaign manager in hock for at least $17 million can probably be convinced to have his campaign and candidate to do all kinds of things, I would think.  Certainly that's the kind of thing the FBI and CIA would want to know about, especially if he accrued said debts working for the political interests of a foreign government as an agent of that government, and then failed to disclose that arrangement.

And that brings us to story number two today, Trump's son-in-law and current White House adviser Jared "How Does This Asshole Still Have A Security Clearance" Kushner will have some very pointed questions to answer under oath in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee on Monday.

White House senior adviser Jared Kushner has agreed to appear before the Senate Intelligence Committee as part of its investigation into Russian election meddling on Monday, July 24, ABC News has learned. The closed-door session sets up what could be one of the most highly anticipated interviews for lawmakers to date.
Kushner's lawyer Abbe Lowell confirmed the meeting to ABC News. “As Mr. Kushner has been saying since March, he has been and is prepared to voluntarily cooperate and provide whatever information he has on the investigations to Congress," Lowell said. "Working with and being responsive to the schedules of the committees, we have arranged Mr. Kushner's interview with the senate for July 24. He will continue to cooperate and appreciates the opportunity to assist in putting this matter to rest.”

The Senate Intelligence Committee has said since March that Kushner is one of many within the Trump administration it planned to question as part of it's Russia investigation.

The appearance by Kushner, who has kept a low public profile since joining the administration, marks a new phase in the investigation as one of the president's closest confidantes is called to answer questions.

Congressional investigators are expected to focus on Kushner's contacts with Russians during and immediately after the campaign. All contacts between the Trump campaign and Russian officials have come under intensified scrutiny following repeated denials from the Trump administration that there were no undisclosed meetings with Russians -- statements that have since been proven false.

Additionally, investigators are likely to ask about Kushner's failure to disclose some of those encounters on his security clearance application, as required by law. Another attorney for Kushner, Jamie Gorelick, has previously stated that Kushner's security clearance form, known as an SF-86, was "prematurely submitted" and that "among other errors, [it] did not list any contacts with foreign government officials." Kushner has since updated that form with all relevant meetings, including "over 100 calls or meetings with representatives of more than 20 countries," Gorelick told ABC News.

And while it may be a closed-door session, it's that second part about glaring omissions on his SF-86 security clearance form that Kushner himself faces the most trouble for. Lying on one of those is a federal crime and Kushner damn well knows it.

But Kushner won't be alone in Senate testimony next week.  Both Manafort and Donald Trump Jr. will get to chat with the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday as we come to the third leg of our trip this morning.

Donald Trump Jr. and former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort have been scheduled to testify before the Senate judiciary committee on July 26, the panel announced Wednesday. 
President Donald Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner is also expected to appear before the Senate intelligence committee on Monday. A source told CNN Kushner's testimony would be behind closed doors. 
The interest in Trump Jr. and Manafort builds on already intensive congressional investigations. In June 2016, the President's eldest son agreed to meet with someone described as a "Russian government attorney" after receiving an email offering him "very high level and sensitive information" that would "incriminate" Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, according to emails Trump Jr. publicly released last week. Manafort and Kushner attended that June 16 meeting. 
A spokesperson for Manafort told CNN that he'd received the invitation to testify and wouldn't comment further. 
Earlier this week, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the top Democrat on the Senate judiciary committee, said that Justice Department Special Counsel Robert Mueller had signed off on the committee's request to interview Manafort and Trump Jr. in public.

The Senate Judiciary committee hasn't been too involved up until this point, because it's been run by Iowa Sen. Chuck "Assume Justice Dead" Grassley.  But apparently the Donald Trump Jr. story has pissed Grassley off enough that he's bringing the committee to bear, and that means critics on both sides of the aisle will get some tough questions in, including ranking member Dianne Feinstein, Al Franken, Patrick Leahy, and Dick Durbin, on the Democratic side as well as Ben Sasse and Lindsey Graham on the GOP side.

It should be a very entertaining session next week.  Stay turned.

No comments:

Related Posts with Thumbnails