2016 Campaign

Ex-CIA Chief Was Concerned About Trump Ties to Russia

Former CIA director John Brennan said for first time that he became concerned last year that the Russian government was trying to influence members of the Trump campaign to act — wittingly or unwittingly — on Moscow’s behalf, the New York Times reports.

Said Brennan: “I encountered and am aware of information and intelligence that revealed contacts and interactions between Russian officials and U.S. persons involved in the Trump campaign that I was concerned about because of known Russian efforts to suborn such individuals. It raised questions in my mind about whether Russia was able to gain the cooperation of those individuals.”

2016 Election Results by Precinct

“A Washington State University graduate student has created what he believes is the first map showing precinct-level results for the 2016 U.S. presidential election,” the Spokesman-Review reports.

“The map, which shows a sea of red across much of the Midwest and Rust Belt with blue pockets in cities and along both coasts, provides a much more detailed look at how people voted in different communities than the state-, county- or ZIP code-level data that’s often used to map elections.”

Billy Bush Breaks His Silence on Trump Tape

Billy Bush talks to the Hollywood Reporter about the “Access Hollywood” tape:

My [then] 15-year-old, Mary, called me from boarding school, and she was in tears: “Dad, Dad, Dad,” and I said, “Everything is going to be fine, Mary. Everything’s going to be OK.” It’s just instinctively what you say to your daughter. And she said, “No, why were you laughing at the things that he was saying on that bus, Dad? They weren’t funny.” It hit really hard, and I stopped for a second, and I said, “I have no answer for that that’s any good. I am really sorry. That was Dad in a bad moment a long time ago. You know me. I am really sorry that you had to hear and see that. I love you.” She needed to hear that, and I certainly needed to tell her that.

Bush doubts Trump knew he was being recorded.

“I’ve done many interviews with him, and he always knew when the camera was on and when the camera was off because he changed. He was very aware of the camera.”

McMaster Won’t Say If Trump Brought Up Meddling

President Trump’s national security adviser declined to say if the president confronted Russian officials about the country’s interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election during a meeting at the White House earlier this month, telling ABC News “there already was too much that’s been leaked from those meetings.”

Said McMaster: “I’m really concerned about these kind of leaks because it undermines everybody’s trust in that kind of an environment where you can have frank, candid and oftentimes unconventional conversations to try to protect American interests and secure the American people.”

House Inquiry Turns Focus to Trump Campaign Staffer

“Michael Caputo, who served as a communications adviser to the Trump campaign, has been asked by the House committee investigating Russian election meddling to submit to a voluntary interview and to provide any documents he may have that are related to the inquiry,” the New York Times reports.

“The House Intelligence Committee, which is examining possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian officials, made its request in a letter on May 9. Mr. Caputo, who lives near Buffalo and spent six months on the Trump team, worked in Russia during the 1990s and came to know Kremlin officials. He also did work in the early 2000s for Gazprom Media, a Russian conglomerate that supported President Vladimir V. Putin.”

Trump Campaign Had 18 Undisclosed Contacts with Russia

“Michael Flynn and other advisers to Donald Trump’s campaign were in contact with Russian officials and others with Kremlin ties in at least 18 calls and emails during the last seven months of the 2016 presidential race,” current and former U.S. officials familiar with the exchanges told Reuters.

“The previously undisclosed interactions form part of the record now being reviewed by FBI and congressional investigators probing Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election and contacts between Trump’s campaign and Russia.”

Roughly 10% of Voters Switched Parties

Pew Research: “Those who study politics have long known that a person’s party affiliation is a strong predictor of how they will vote and what their opinions will be on most political issues. Some of the power of partisanship comes from its relative immutability: Most people remain loyal to a political party.”

“But over a 15-month period encompassing the 2016 presidential campaign, about 10% of Republicans and Democrats ‘defected’ from their parties to the opposing party.”

Feds Subpoena Records for Manafort Home

“Federal investigators have subpoenaed records related to a $3.5 million mortgage that former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort took out on his Hamptons home just after leaving the campaign,” NBC News reports.

“The mortgage document that explains how Manafort would pay back the loan was never filed with Suffolk County, New York — and Manafort’s company never paid up to $36,000 in taxes that would be due on the loan.”

Manafort Got $3.5 Million Mystery Mortgage

Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort “took out a $3.5 million mortgage through a shell company just after leaving the campaign, but the mortgage document that explains how he would pay it back was never filed — and Manafort’s company never paid $36,000 in taxes that would be due on the loan,” NBC News reports.

“In addition, despite telling NBC News previously that all his real estate transactions are transparent and include his name and signature, Manafort’s name and signature do not appear on any of the loan documents that are publicly available. A Manafort spokesperson said the $3.5 million loan was repaid in December, but also said paperwork showing the repayment was not filed until he was asked about the loan by NBC News.”

Political Chaos Is Big Payoff for Russian Meddling

Washington Post: “Russia has yet to collect much of what it hoped for from the Trump administration, including the lifting of U.S. sanctions and recognition of its annexation of Crimea. But the Kremlin has gotten a different return on its effort to help elect Trump in last year’s election: chaos in Washington.”

“The president’s decision to fire FBI Director James B. Comey was the latest destabilizing jolt to a core institution of the U.S. government. The nation’s top law enforcement agency joined a list of entities that Trump has targeted, including federal judges, U.S. spy services, news organizations and military alliances.”

“The instability, although driven by Trump, has in some ways extended and amplified the effect Russia sought to achieve with its unprecedented campaign to undermine the 2016 presidential race.”

Trump Can’t Get Past the Election

New York Times: “At the root of Mr. Trump’s unpredictable presidency, according to people close to him, is a deep frustration about attacks on his legitimacy, and a worry that Washington does not see him as he sees himself.”

“As he careens from one controversy to another, many of them of his own making — like his abrupt decision to fire the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, who was leading an investigation into the president’s associates — Mr. Trump seems determined to prove that he won the election on his own. It was not Russian interference. It was not Mr. Comey’s actions in the case involving Hillary Clinton’s emails. It was not a fluke of the Electoral College system. It was all him.”

“Mr. Trump burns with frustration over not getting enough credit for winning the nation’s highest office after having never so much as run for City Council or town alderman. He ran when pundits predicted he would not, stayed in when they were certain he would drop out, never lost his core supporters and, amid a dysfunctional campaign that was known for self-inflicted wounds, propelled himself to victory over the vastly more experienced Clinton machine. He expected to be celebrated for it, and that has not happened.”

Senate Begins to Look at Trump’s Businesses

“A Treasury Department unit that specializes in combating money-laundering will share financial records with an expanding Senate probe into possible ties between Russia and President Trump and his associates,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), a member of the intelligence committee, said “that he is particularly interested in information about shell companies, money laundering and the use of property transfers that may be germane to the committee’s Trump investigation.”

New Yorker: “Casinos can make it remarkably easy to allow people, like drug dealers or corrupt oligarchs, to use funds they obtained illegally… Money launderers can avail themselves of other methods, such as buying expensive real estate through shell companies or slipping their ill-gotten money into cash-heavy business, like laundromats or pizza shops, or large banks. But those retail methods work best for relatively small amounts of money, and in the past two decades, government regulators in the U.S. and elsewhere have moved to prevent money laundering through the banking system. So casinos have become increasingly popular for the large-scale money launderer.”