Trump Transition

Kushner Had Second Interview with Mueller’s Team

Washington Post: “Kushner has had two interview sessions with the special counsel’s team. The first set of questions in November centered largely around former national security adviser Michael Flynn… Then, in mid-April, Kushner sat for six to seven hours of questions that covered many topics, including his work on the Trump campaign, the transition and in the White House and about Trump’s decision in May 2017 to fire Comey.”

“The special counsel’s questioning focused only on Kushner’s work with Trump and did not include topics such as Kushner’s personal finances or those of his family business, Kushner Companies.”

Navarro Pushed Suspected FBI Informant for Trump Job

President Trump’s top trade adviser, Peter Navarro, “recommended appointing Stefan Halper, an academic and suspected FBI informant on the Trump campaign, to a senior role in the Trump administration,” Axios has learned.

“During the transition everyone involved in Trump’s presidential campaign were asked to submit resumes for administration positions. Halper, who already knew Navarro in the context of being a China scholar and interviewing for his anti-China book and film, pitched himself for an ambassadorship in Asia… Navarro says he submitted Halper’s name for the Asian ambassadorship — we have not been able to confirm the country — along with around a dozen other people for roles in the region.”

Details Emerge About Russian Plane in the Seychelles

“A Russian plane linked to the country’s government flew into the Seychelles the day prior to a 2017 meeting now under review by special counsel Robert Mueller,” according to NJ Advance Media.

“Much speculation has centered on one particular meeting that took place between Erik Prince, founder of the security company Blackwater, Kirill Dmitriev, the director of one of Russia’s sovereign wealth funds, and Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, the effective ruler of the United Arab Emirates.”

“But new details about a Russian aircraft that landed in the Seychelles the day before Prince has raised questions about the scope of the meetings that week and whether sanctions were a topic of conversation among participants.”

Conservative Activists Behind Mystery $1 Million Gift

“One of the largest contributions to President Trump’s inaugural committee in 2016 appears to have been orchestrated by a set of powerful conservative legal activists who have since been put in the driver’s seat of the administration’s push to select and nominate federal judges,” McClatchy reports.

“The $1 million inaugural gift came from a Northern Virginia company called BH Group, LLC. Unlike other generous corporate inaugural donors, like Bank of America and Dow Chemical, though, BH Group was a cipher, and likely was set up solely to prevent disclosure of the actual donor’s name.”

“While the source of the money used to make the gift was masked from the public, a trail of clues puts the contribution at the doorstep of some of the same actors — most notably Leonard Leo, an executive vice president at the conservative Federalist Society — who have helped promote Trump’s mission, and that of his White House counsel, Don McGahn, to fill judicial vacancies as quickly as he can with staunchly conservative, preferably young jurists.”

Trump Jr. Stayed In Contact with Oligarch’s Family

“A direct line of communication between the Kremlin-connected Agalarov family and the Trump family was open during the transition after President Trump’s presidential election,” BuzzFeed News reports.

“The ‘first of a series’ of text messages was sent between Emin Agalarov and Donald Trump Jr. two days after the 2016 election… The communications continued through at least mid-December 2016.”

Russian Trolls Tried to Torpedo Romney as Top Diplomat

“Weeks after Donald Trump was elected president, Russia-backed online ‘trolls’ flooded social media to try to block Mitt Romney from securing a top job in the incoming administration,” a Wall Street Journal analysis shows.

“The operatives called the 2012 GOP presidential nominee, then a contender for secretary of state, a ‘two headed snake’ and a ‘globalist puppet,’ promoted a rally outside Trump Tower and spread a petition to block Mr. Romney’s appointment to the top diplomatic job, according to a review of now-deleted social-media posts.”

Mueller Has Evidence of Secret Backchannel Effort

Special counsel Robert Mueller “has gathered evidence that a secret meeting in the Seychelles just before the inauguration of Donald Trump was an effort to establish a back-channel between the incoming administration and the Kremlin — apparently contradicting statements made to lawmakers by one of its participants,” the Washington Post reports.

“In January, 2017, Erik Prince, the founder of the private military company Blackwater, met with a Russian official close to President Vladimir Putin, and later described the meeting to congressional investigators as a chance encounter that was not a planned discussion of U.S.-Russia relations.”

“A witness cooperating with Mueller has told investigators the meeting was set up in advance so that a representative of the Trump transition could meet with an emissary from Moscow to discuss future relations between the two countries.”

Romney Says He’s Not a Fan of Putin Either

Mitt Romney told KSL-TV that he can’t comment on a recent report that suggested the Kremlin had blocked him from becoming Secretary of State.

Said Romney: “I don’t know what the president’s process was in determining his secretary of state, or why he chose to ask me to come in, or decided not to have me as his secretary of state. So, I really can’t comment on the Steele dossier in that regard.”

He added: “I do believe it’s pretty clear that I’m not a fan of Vladimir Putin’s and I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s not a fan of mine either.”

Did the Kremlin Block Romney as Secretary of State?

Christopher Steele, the former British spy who authored the controversial “dossier” about Donald Trump, also wrote a later memo in November 2016 alleging that Russia blocked Mitt Romney from being named secretary of state, the New Yorker reports.

“The memo said that the Kremlin, through unspecified channels, had asked Trump to appoint someone who would be prepared to lift Ukraine-related sanctions, and who would cooperate on security issues of interest to Russia, such as the conflict in Syria. If what the source heard was true, then a foreign power was exercising pivotal influence over U.S. foreign policy — and an incoming president.”

Members of Russia’s Elite Attended Trump Inauguration

Washington Post: “The attendance of members of Russia’s elite at Trump’s inauguration was evidence of the high anticipation in Moscow of a thaw in U.S.-Russia relations, following a campaign in which Trump stunned U.S. foreign policy experts by repeatedly praising Russian President Vladi­mir Putin.”

“As questions about Russia’s interference in the 2016 election were beginning to percolate publicly, prominent business leaders and activists from that country attended inaugural festivities, mingling at balls and receptions — at times in proximity to key American political officials.”

“Their presence caught the attention of counterintelligence officials at the FBI.”

No One Will Say Where Trump Inaugural Funds Went

“Nearly a year after President Trump’s inauguration, the committee that raised a record $106.7 million for the event has not disclosed how much surplus money it still has or provided a final accounting of its finances,” USA Today reports.

“While the committee must report names of donors who give at least $200, election law does not require an accounting of the spending. And there are few restrictions on how leftover funds are used.”

Christie Says It Was a Mistake to Dump His Transition Plan

As chaos continues in Washington, Gov. Chris Christie (R) told the Newark Star Ledger that the decision to dump him as Trump’s transition chair — and throw his plans in the trash can — was a dumb one.

Said Christie: “I can only tell you who ultimately executed on it and that was Bannon, Priebus and Kushner, They were the three guys in charge and they were the ones who ultimately made that recommendation to the president. And I think they ill-served him by doing it.”

Christie Says Kushner ‘Deserves the Scrutiny’

Gov. Chris Christie (R), who helped put Jared Kushner’s father in prison, “showed no mercy toward the senior White House adviser, encouraging Russia probe investigators to closely examine any hand he may have had in potential wrongdoings by the Trump campaign,” Newsweek reports.

Christie said Kushner “deserves the scrutiny, you know why? Because he was involved in the transition and involved in meetings that call into question his role. Well then if he’s innocent of that, then that will come out as Mueller examines all the facts. And if he’s not, that will come out too.”