“The criminal trial of President Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort appears likely to start in September at the earliest after a federal judge on Tuesday rejected a bid by special counsel Robert Mueller’s office to kick off the trial in May,” Politico reports.
New York Times: “But the work has not stopped. Fusion continues to look into ties between Mr. Trump and Russia, according to several people briefed on the research. Mr. Simpson’s specific areas of focus, and information about any current benefactors, are closely guarded.”
Daily Beast: “A superseding indictment would essentially replace the current indictment of Manafort. And in that current indictment, Mueller’s team hinted there was more to come. In particular, they hinted at potential tax charges for Manafort’s foreign financial transactions. Federal prosecutors can bring charges against any American who has money in a foreign bank account and doesn’t check a box on their tax forms disclosing it. The Manafort/Gates indictment describes financial behavior that may be liable for that kind of prosecution. And that’s an indicator that Mueller’s team may be preparing to formally charge both men with violating tax laws.”
“He looks like some disheveled drunk who wandered on to the political stage. He does not represent anything that I stand for.”
— Rep. Peter King (R-NY), quoted by the Washington Examiner, on former Trump adviser Stephen Bannon.
Bloomberg: “The federal indictment of Paul Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign chairman, accuses him of laundering millions in foreign payments to pursue a ‘lavish lifestyle’ in the U.S., especially in the Hamptons, where he has a house. What it doesn’t explain — or highlight — are the stratospheric payments he made to home improvement companies when his renovation work was estimated at far less.
“Special Counsel Robert Mueller, in his indictment, says that a Hamptons firm got $5.4 million in wire transfers from Cyprus over 71 payments. But building permits over the same period examined by Bloomberg show that renovations by Manafort’s Hamptons’ contractor were estimated to cost $1.2 million. That’s less than a quarter of what was ultimately sent — an apparent discrepancy that could draw scrutiny from investigators.”
“Roger Stone, a longtime associate of President Trump and self-described political provocateur, was suspended from Twitter on Saturday,” Politico reports.
“Stone lashed out at CNN anchor Don Lemon and others on Friday night, seemingly responding to reports that an indictment from special prosecutor Robert Mueller was imminent in the ongoing probe into the Trump election campaign’s alleged ties to Russia.”
“Neighbors of President Trump’s former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski say he harassed them in a land dispute and threatened to use his ‘’political clout’’ to make their lives ‘’a nightmare,'” the Boston Globe reports.
Amy Walter: “After every election, the losing party spends a good chunk of the off-year analyzing why they lost and developing solutions on how not to lose in the future… These documents are meant to unite the party around common themes and ideas and show that they have a path out of the political wilderness.”
“But, more often than not, these documents are an exercise in fighting the last war instead of an appreciation of the fact that no one really knows what the next war is going to look like. Republicans who were worried about their demographic troubles in 2013 could not possibly imagine that the person who would win the GOP nomination and the White House in 2016 would do so while actively flaunting their advice.”
“These documents also tend to miss the most important factor in any messaging: the messenger. A party or a campaign can have a cogent message, but if the messenger isn’t believable, the message itself is worthless.”
Playbook: “Karl Rove told an off-the-record McDonald’s corporate conference Monday in D.C. that he would not have taken a meeting with Russian operatives, like Donald Trump Jr., Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner did. Rove told the crowd at the J.W. Marriott that if a campaign gets an email saying an agent of a foreign adversarial government wants to meet and pass on damaging information about an opponent, they shouldn’t take the meeting, and they should call the FBI.”
“In a presidential campaign, Rove said, aides get lots of phone calls and emails offering tips on the opponent. Most should be routed through opposition researchers, and many are not worth the time.”
Meanwhile, a new Politico/Morning Consult poll finds that 52% of voters say the meeting was inappropriate. Only 23% say meeting was appropriate and the remaining 25% have no opinion.
“The FBI confirms agents are executing a search warrant at an office of a GOP fundraiser/consulting firm in Annapolis,” WBAL-TV reports.
“The investigation is being run out of Washington, not locally… The firm is touted for pioneering the use of technology in political campaigns, and it represents GOP candidates nationwide.”
“Last August, a handwritten ledger surfaced in Ukraine with dollar amounts and dates next to the name of Paul Manafort, who was then Donald Trump’s campaign chairman.”
“Now, financial records newly obtained by the Associated Press confirm that at least $1.2 million in payments listed in the ledger next to Manafort’s name were actually received by his consulting firm in the United States. They include payments in 2007 and 2009, providing the first evidence that Manafort’s firm received at least some money listed in the so-called Black Ledger.”
Mike Allen: “Manafort and his spokesman, Jason Maloni, have maintained the ledger was fabricated and said no public evidence existed that Manafort or others received payments recorded in it.”
“Paul Manafort, the former Trump campaign manager facing multiple investigations for his political and financial ties to Russia, has engaged in a series of puzzling real estate deals in New York City over the past 11 years,” WNYC reports.
“Real estate and law enforcement experts say some of these transactions fit a pattern used in money laundering; together, they raise questions about Manafort’s activities in the New York City property market while he also was consulting for business and political leaders in the former Soviet Union.”
Close confidants of President-elect Trump are establishing a new government relations and political consulting firm in Washington, D.C., the Washington Examiner has learned.
“Corey Lewandowski, Trump’s first campaign manager, who remains closely connected to the president-elect, and Barry Bennett, who advised Trump’s campaign early on after leaving Ben Carson’s 2016 operation, are advertised on the website as the principals behind ‘Avenue Strategies.’ Sources tell the Examiner that Lewandowski and Bennett have been making the rounds in Washington to drum up business for a new firm by that name.”
Molly Ball: “These are boom times for political consultants—by one rough estimate, more than $6 billion will go to or through consulting firms during this year’s elections—and the scene at the conference was befitting of an industry awash in cash. Booths showcased the wares of campaign-literature printers, data-acquisition specialists, automated-phone-call vendors, online-fund-raising experts, and social-media-analytics firms. Whole companies exist just to manufacture the throwaway trinkets campaigns hand out, from stress balls with a candidate’s name on them to red-white-and-blue fingernail files.”
“But all was not well at the Pollies. A confab intended to be a sun-soaked junket was instead shadowed by the island’s debt crisis, the Zika virus, and a forecast of stormy weather throughout the week. It was almost too perfect a metaphor: Despite all the money pouring into political consulting, a palpable sense of unease looms over the profession. The consultants may be getting rich, but recent events suggest they don’t have any idea what they’re doing.”
Donald Trump “is seeking $10 million in damages from a former senior campaign consultant, Sam Nunberg, alleging that Nunberg leaked confidential information to reporters in violation of a nondisclosure agreement,” the AP reports.
In a court filing, Nunberg accuses Trump of trying to silence him “in a misguided attempt to cover up media coverage of an apparent affair” between senior campaign staffers.