February, 2018

Hicks Admitted She Lies for Trump

Hope Hicks told House investigators that her work for President Trump “had occasionally required her to tell white lies,” the New York Times reports.

“But after extended consultation with her lawyers, she insisted that she had not lied about matters material to the investigations into Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election and possible links to Trump associates.”

Mueller Asking About Trump’s Russian Business Dealings

“Investigators for special counsel Robert Mueller have recently been asking witnesses about Donald Trump’s business activities in Russia prior to the 2016 presidential campaign as he considered a run for president,” CNN reports.

“Questions to some witnesses during wide-ranging interviews included the timing of Trump’s decision to seek the presidency, potentially compromising information the Russians may have had about him, and why efforts to brand a Trump Tower in Moscow fell through.”

“The lines of inquiry indicate Mueller’s team is reaching beyond the campaign to explore how the Russians might have sought to influence Trump at a time when he was discussing deals in Moscow and contemplating a presidential run.”

Democrats Flip Two More State Legislative Seats

“Two Democrats won state legislative contests on Tuesday night, flipping the seats from Republican hands and marking the 38th and 39th legislative flips since President Trump’s inauguration. Democrats have now also flipped six this year alone,” the Daily Beast reports.

The Democratic flips tonight in New Hampshire and Connecticut “add to a string of recent victories for the party in state legislative races.”

Russia Compromised 7 States Prior to 2016 Election

“The U.S. intelligence community developed substantial evidence that state websites or voter registration systems in seven states were compromised by Russian-backed covert operatives prior to the 2016 election — but never told the states involved,” NBC News reports.

The states: Alaska, Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, Texas and Wisconsin.

“Top-secret intelligence requested by President Obama in his last weeks in office identified seven states where analysts — synthesizing months of work — had reason to believe Russian operatives had compromised state websites or databases…The officials say systems in the seven states were compromised in a variety of ways, with some breaches more serious than others, from entry into state websites to penetration of actual voter registration databases.”

Carson Spent $31K on Dining Room Set

“Department of Housing and Urban Development officials spent $31,000 on a new dining room set for Secretary Ben Carson’s office in late 2017 — just as the White House circulated its plans to slash HUD’s programs for the homeless, elderly and poor,” the New York Times reports.

“The purchase of the custom hardwood table, chairs and hutch came a month after a top agency staff member filed a whistle-blower complaint charging Mr. Carson’s wife, Candy Carson, with pressuring department officials to find money for the expensive redecoration of his offices, even if it meant circumventing the law.”

Foreign Officials Sought Leverage Over Kushner

“Officials in at least four countries have privately discussed ways they can manipulate Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, by taking advantage of his complex business arrangements, financial difficulties and lack of foreign policy experience,” the Washington Post reports.

“Among those nations discussing ways to influence Kushner to their advantage were the United Arab Emirates, China, Israel and Mexico.”

“It is unclear if any of those countries acted on the discussions, but Kushner’s contacts with certain foreign government officials have raised concerns inside the White House and are a reason he has been unable to obtain a permanent security clearance.”

Roger Stone Communicated Directly with WikiLeaks

“On March 17, 2017, WikiLeaks tweeted that it had never communicated with Roger Stone… In his interview with the House Intelligence Committee last September, Stone, who testified under oath, told lawmakers that he had communicated with WikiLeaks via an ‘intermediary,’ whom he identified only as a ‘journalist.'”

“Private Twitter messages obtained by The Atlantic show that Stone and WikiLeaks, a radical-transparency group, communicated directly on October 13, 2016 — and that WikiLeaks sought to keep its channel to Stone open after Trump won the election.”

Hicks Refuses to Answer House Investigators’ Questions

“White House communications director Hope Hicks is the latest close adviser to President Trump to refuse to answer questions about the administration or transition period, posed by House investigators as part of their probe of Russian meddling in the 2016 election,” the Washington Post reports.

“Democrats and Republicans emerging from the House Intelligence Committee’s ongoing interview with Hicks on Tuesday noted that she resisted answering any questions about events and conversations that occurred since Trump won the election, despite the fact that Trump has not formally invoked executive privilege with the panel.”

How Russian Trolls Smeared John McCain

An Arizona Republic survey of Sen. John McCain-related tweets collected in an NBC News database of messages finds that Russian accounts routinely spread insults and conspiracy theories smearing McCain as a “traitor” and a “RINO.”

“That the Russian Twitter trolls sought to discredit McCain, R-Ariz., was perhaps predictable given the six-term senator’s longstanding criticism of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who officially sanctioned McCain in 2014.”

Kushner Loses Top Secret Access

“Jared Kushner has had his security clearance downgraded — a move that will prevent him from viewing many of the sensitive documents to which he once had unfettered access,” Politico reports.

“Kushner is not alone. All White House aides working on the highest-level interim clearances — at the Top Secret/SCI-level — were informed in a memo sent Friday that their clearances would be downgraded to the Secret level.”

Mysterious Professor with Dirt on Clinton Disappeared

Joseph Mifsud, a Maltese professor “who allegedly delivered word of Hillary Clinton’s stolen emails to Donald Trump’s campaign,” is missing, BuzzFeed News reports.

“His biography disappeared from one university where he taught and he quit his job at another university. His email and cell phones went dead. And politicians, colleagues and journalists can’t find him.”

“Neither can Anna, his 31-year-old Ukrainian fiancee, who says he is the father of her newborn child. And her story, snatched from the pages of a John le Carré novel, offers a glimpse at the human collateral damage of an intelligence operation in which the mysterious Mifsud was allegedly a central figure.”