Mueller Reveals Search in Manafort Case, Suggesting Fresh Trail
April 5, 2018, 11:11 PM CDT
Prosecutors got March 9 warrant to search five AT&T phones
Court filing doesn’t say if Manafort is target of new probe
Paul Manafort Photographer: Zach Gibson/Bloomberg
Special Counsel Robert Mueller revealed to lawyers for Paul Manafort, the former Trump campaign chairman, that they obtained a search warrant for information about five telephone numbers, suggesting the sprawling investigation may be headed in a new direction.
Prosecutors disclosed Thursday they got the warrant on March 9, or two weeks after Manafort was indicted for a second time amid Mueller’s investigation into links between Russia and Donald Trump’s campaign in the 2016 election.
The warrant involved a search of “information associated with’’ five AT&T telephone numbers, according to a filing by prosecutors in federal court in Washington. Mueller declined to provide information about the search to defense lawyers because it involves “ongoing investigations that are not the subject of current prosecutions involving Manafort,’’ according to the filing.
Mueller has charged 19, including 13 Russians. Five people have pleaded guilty. Manafort has pleaded not guilty to indictments charging him with laundering profits from the tens of millions of dollars he made as an unregistered lobbyist for Ukraine’s former president and other politicians. He also is accused of bank and tax fraud. None of the charges involved Manafort’s work on the Trump campaign.
The specter of additional charges against Manafort loomed over a hearing this week in which prosecutors urged a judge to dismiss a civil lawsuit challenging Mueller’s authority to investigate the case further.
“The government has said they have a continuing investigation,’’ Manafort attorney Kevin Downing said at the hearing.
But it’s not clear from the filing on Thursday whether the new warrant was designed to gather evidence against Manafort or others. Mueller made the filing in response to a request by Downing for more information in the pre-trial exchange of evidence. That includes various warrants the prosecutors have executed against Manafort, starting with a search of his house in Alexandria, Virginia, last summer.
Prosecutors said the judge should let them continue to withhold information from Manafort about warrants relating to a residence in Alexandria; a storage locker in Alexandria; a Manafort email account; and the five AT&T phone numbers. They said Manafort should receive all the information about the search in Washington of a hard drive, two email accounts, and three bank accounts.
Mueller’s team sought redactions for affidavits related to the names of informants and ongoing investigations. This week, prosecutors gave Manafort a redacted affidavit about the March 9 search, according to the filing.
In an April 2 filing, Mueller’s prosecutors revealed some of the reasons they initially pursued Manafort, citing business ties between Manafort and the Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska. They said an investigation of links between Russia and Trump’s campaign “would naturally cover ties that a former Trump campaign manager had to Russian-associated political operatives, Russian-backed politicians, and Russian oligarchs.”
Prosecutors also “would also naturally look into any interactions they may have had before and during the campaign to plumb motives and opportunities to coordinate and to expose possible channels for surreptitious communications,” they wrote. “And prosecutors would naturally follow the money trail from Manafort’s Ukrainian consulting activities.”
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles ... resh-trail
Mueller obtained a new search warrant against Manafort last month, and it could signal a huge shift in the Russia investigation
The special counsel Robert Mueller obtained a search warrant against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort as recently as March 9, new court documents show.
The search warrant was related to "ongoing investigations that are not the subject of the current prosecutions involving Manafort."
The revelation indicates Mueller's focus on Manafort is now shifting from examining his Ukraine lobbying work to possible collusion with Russia while he was chairman of President Donald Trump campaign in 2016.
The special counsel Robert Mueller obtained a new search warrant against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort less than a month ago, according to court documents filed on Thursday.
Mueller's office made the revelation in an opposition it filed to Manafort's recent motion to compel the government to turn over un-redacted versions of search and seizure warrants it had obtained against him. Mueller's office said that after Manafort first raised the issue, the US government gave the defense copies of six affidavits — three of them had no redactions, and the other three had minimal redactions.
Per the court filing, the special counsel also obtained a new search warrant in the Manafort case less than one month ago, on March 9. It turned over a redacted copy of the warrant to the defense on Wednesday.
But Mueller's office also made another notable disclosure.
Four out of the seven affidavits that have been produced for the defense were redacted because they contained information regarding "ongoing investigations that are not the subject of the current prosecutions involving Manafort." The most recent warrant has more "substantial redactions" than the other three.
Manafort has been charged with dozens of counts related to financial crimes and conspiracy against the US. The charges against Manafort so far deal primarily with his lobbying work for pro-Russia interests in Ukraine and former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych. Based on Thursday's court filing, Mueller has found evidence of wrongdoing in the Manafort case that is not limited to his consulting work in Ukraine.
According to a recently released memo deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein sent Mueller last year, the special counsel is authorized to investigate at least two threads as it relates to Manafort: allegations of criminal activity arising from his work in Ukraine, and allegations that he colluded with Russian officials as Russia was trying to meddle in the 2016 US election.
The rest of the Rosenstein memo was redacted, and legal experts have suggested it's possible Mueller was authorized to investigate additional allegations against Manafort outside of the collusion inquiry and his Ukraine lobbying.
The special counsel's office disclosed a partial list of its warrants against Manafort thus far in Thursday's court filing. In addition to searching Manafort's home, bank accounts, email, and hard drive, prosecutors also secured permission to search "information associated with five telephone numbers controlled by AT&T."
News that Mueller is broadening his focus with respect to Manafort is bolstered by recent reports that prosecutors told Manafort's longtime deputy Rick Gates they didn't need his cooperation against Manafort. Instead, they are reportedly interested in learning more from him about the Trump campaign's contacts with Russians during the 2016 US election.
Manafort and Gates are two of several Trump associates who are known to have been in touch with Russia-linked individuals during the campaign. The two men have known each other for at least the past three decades and Gates was privy to most, if not all, of Manafort's dealings during the 2016 election.
Mueller's warrant against Manafort last month came after Gates had a "Queen for a Day" interview with the special counsel in early February, in which Gates answered any questions from investigators, including those asked about his own case and other possible criminal activity he may have witnessed.
Manafort has so far mounted an aggressive defense against the special counsel, arguing that the charges against him so far should be dropped because they do not deal with Russian collusion. His lawyer has also argued that Mueller's mandate itself is "tantamount to a blank check."
Manafort was unaware of the Rosenstein memo's existence before it was publicly revealed Monday night, and the second stipulation threw a wrench into his claim that Mueller overstepped his mandate by charging him with crimes unrelated to Russian collusion.
The special counsel's office also addressed Manafort's assertion that his mandate was too broad, arguing that Manafort's objections to the scope of Mueller's mandate were "unsound."
It added that the DOJ's regulations regarding the appointment of a special counsel give Mueller "limited flexibility" while authorizing Rosenstein to amend the scope of his mandate where "necessary in order to fully investigate and resolve the matters assigned."
Mueller's office questioned Manafort's right to argue the validity of the special counsel's mandate at all, saying Manafort had "no basis" to use that reasoning to call for the case against him to be dismissed.
Specifically, Mueller's office said the DOJ regulations governing the appointment of a special counsel are meant to provide a framework for the department's internal structure. The regulations "unequivocally state" that they are not meant to "create any [enforceable] rights" in a criminal proceeding, the special counsel continued.
Read the full filing below:
Mueller Oppo to Manafort Motion to Compel Search Warrants by sonamsheth on Scribd
http://www.businessinsider.com/mueller- ... ing-2018-4
Mueller moved to seize bank accounts in Manafort probe
Special counsel also obtained search warrant for info on 5 phones in ongoing investigation just last month
By JOSH GERSTEIN 04/05/2018 11:23 PM EDT
Special Counsel Robert Mueller's office moved to seize bank accounts at three different financial institutions last year just one day before former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort was indicted, prosecutors disclosed in a court filing Thursday.
The previously unknown move against the bank accounts was revealed in a list of search and seizure warrants prosecutors submitted to a federal court in Washington after Manafort's defense team complained that the government was withholding too many details about how the warrants were obtained.
The new filing also indicated that Mueller's investigators have been pressing on with their work in recent weeks despite the pair of indictments pending against Manafort and a detailed indictment in February of the Russia-based Internet Research Agency and a dozen Russian nationals for alleged interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
On March 9, the special counsel's office obtained a search warrant for information related to "five telephone numbers controlled by AT&T," the prosecution said. It did not reveal who the numbers belonged to, although it said some information about the search was given to Manafort's defense on Wednesday, so presumably there is some connection to the veteran political consultant who held a top role in the Trump campaign for several months in 2016.
Prosecutors said some information about the various searches was withheld from Manafort because it relates to the identity of informants or "to ongoing investigations that are not the subject of either of the current prosecutions involving Manafort." POLITICO reported in January that an errant court filing by the defense indicated that at least one employee of a Manafort consulting firm was surreptitiously cooperating with the FBI and journalists.
Manafort is currently facing two separate indictments. One, in Washington, focuses on money laundering and foreign lobbying. Another, in Alexandria, Virginia, involves tax fraud, bank fraud and failure to report overseas bank accounts. The 69-year-old Manafort could potentially spend the rest of his life in prison if convicted in either case.
Neither case appears to directly relate to the allegations of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia that are at the heart of Mueller's mandate, but it was revealed this week that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein specifically authorized the special counsel's team to pursue the financial and foreign lobbying allegations against Manafort.
The new filing by Mueller's team also confirms accounts that investigators obtained a warrant to search a storage locker belonging to Manafort, apparently somewhere in northern Virginia.
All the warrants listed by prosecutors Thursday remain under seal and off limits to the public, but new details in the latest filing indicate that the storage unit search took place in late May or early June, about two months before the FBI conducted an early morning raid on Manafort's Alexandria, Va. condo.
Manafort's lawyers have suggested some mystery surrounding the search of the storage locker. They say an FBI agent appears to have gotten into the locker before the search the a federal magistrate in Virginia ordered. Some press accounts have said investigators obtained a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant to conduct a search of a storage locker belonging to Manafort at some point last year. It's possible they used that authority to enter the locker and then decided to obtain a criminal warrant to delve into whatever Manafort had inside..
https://www.politico.com/story/2018/04/ ... nts-505307
And Manafort's got convention records going back to 1979.
Tho I guess the FBI has those records now.
That motion to suppress bc Manafort's "former" employee who owned the storage facility let FBI in?
Still a current employee, listed as occupant of facility. But who's going to read that far?
Manafort desperately moves to suppress mountain of evidence obtained by Mueller
The outside of one of the boxes that was in the storage unit, per the application for a search warrant:
One more thing abt Manafort's misleading motion to suppress. It says FBI took "virtually all" the docs in storage facility occupied by his still-current employee. FBI said there were 21 bankers boxes plus file cabinets.
FBI appears to have taken 9 boxes away.
The former DMP employee (i) had, and handed over, a key to the lock on the unit, (ii) had been the one who moved the files into the unit, (iii) was named as the occupant on the lease, and (iv) was currently employed by another manafort business. I mean...
A Second Paul Manafort Associate Has Turned on Him
The one-time Team Trump honcho was already in hot water. And that was before an ex-employee led an FBI agent to a storage locker filled with Manafort’s financial papers.
Former Trump campaign chief Paul Manafort has trouble in his own house. According to court documents, one of Manafort’s former employees led an FBI agent to a storage locker filled with paperwork on Manafort’s businesses and finances. The person’s name is redacted from the filings. But he’s now at the center of a fight over evidence that could play a significant role in the government’s case against Manafort.
“People do strange things when confronted with authoritative FBI agents,” said Sol Wisenberg, a criminal defense attorney with Nelson Mullins.
This makes the second Manafort associate known to have aided the government in the sprawling investigation into foreign influence in U.S. politics. Rick Gates, Manafort’s long-time right hand, began cooperating with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office in February.
Manafort’s attorneys revealed the information about the second former employee in an April 6, 2018 court filing. In the filing, Manafort’s attorneys asked the federal judge overseeing the prosecution to block documents found in a storage unit in Alexandria, Va. from being used as evidence against him. They argue the employee did not have the authority to let the FBI agent look into the storage unit, and that, therefore, the FBI violated Manafort’s Fourth Amendment rights.
Manafort’s filing includes a heavily-redacted affidavit signed by an FBI special agent on May 27, 2017. In that affidavit, the FBI agent explains how he learned about a storage unit full of documents from Manafort.
The agent describes meeting with “a former employee of Davis Manafort Partners, and a current employee of Steam Mountain, LLC, which is a business currently operated by Paul Manafort.” The employee, whose name is redacted throughout the affidavit, told the FBI agent that he “performs a variety of functions for Manafort and his companies as directed by Manafort,” and was salaried.
That employee moved boxes of files from one storage unit to a second, larger storage unit in Alexandria. On May 26, 2017––just nine days after Rod Rosenstein named Bob Mueller special counsel––the person whose name was redacted led the FBI agent to the storage facility. The facility’s manager gave the FBI agent a copy of the lease for the storage unit.
“The lease identifies [REDACTED] as the occupant of Unit 3013, and also identifies Paul Manafort as a person with authorized access to Unit 3013,” the application says. “Rick Gates is listed as an alternate point of contact for the lease.”
“One box was marked as containing expenses, paid bills, invoices, and legal complaints. Another box was had info on the ‘Ukraine Campaign.’”
The person whose name was redacted also gave the FBI agent “a key to the lock on Unit 3013 and described the contents of Unit 3013,” according to the affidavit. That person also gave the FBI agent “written consent” to search the storage unit, and opened it for the FBI agent.
The FBI agent then looked into the storage unit and saw about 21 boxes of documents, as well as a filing cabinet. One box was marked as containing expenses, paid bills, invoices, and legal complaints. Another box said it contained “Ukraine Binders,” as well information about ballot security, Georgia, research, and “Ukraine Campaign.”
Manafort and Gates have been involved in Ukrainian politics for years, and helped prop up Kiev’s Putin-friendly strongman, Viktor Yanukovych.
The FBI agent seemed to figure out immediately that the storage unit’s contents were interesting, because the law enforcement officials started surveilling the storage unit facility to see if anyone went in to take out any files. The day after seeing the storage unit, the FBI agent filed the affidavit––which was more than 20 pages long––with a magistrate judge.
Though the name of the Manafort employee who showed the storage unit to the FBI was redacted in the affidavit, another exhibit Manafort’s lawyers filed appears to have that person’s name unredacted. The affidavit said the person who showed the FBI the storage unit was listed on the lease as the “occupant” of the storage unit. Manafort’s lawyers also filed the lease with the court as part of their motion to suppress the storage unit evidence. And the lease name a man named Alexander Trusko as the storage unit’s “Occupant.” The lease also names Rick Gates and Paul Manafort as having access to the storage unit. (Trusko could not be immediately reached for comment.)
Manafort’s lawyers are arguing that the former employee didn’t have the authority to let the FBI agent look inside the storage unit. The lawyers describe the one-time employee as “low-level” and responsible for “administrative functions.” They argue that the FBI agent violated Manafort’s Fourth Amendment rights by looking into the storage unit, and that the former employee didn’t have the lawful authority to let the FBI agent look into the storage unit.
“[T]he former employee had no such authority, and the FBI Agent knew it,” Manafort’s lawyers wrote.
https://www.thedailybeast.com/a-second- ... ia=desktop
Mueller asks a judge to issue 35 sets of subpoenas to witnesses for a July 10 appearance at a trial — that’s when Manafort is set to go on trial on tax and bank fraud charges.
Mueller asked for blank subpoenas, with names to be filled in later, per @business.
https://twitter.com/JenniferJJacobs/sta ... 3850517504
Banker asked about U.S. Army post before making Manafort loan: lawmakers
(Reuters) - Democratic lawmakers on Thursday questioned whether the head of a Chicago bank was seeking a favor from the incoming Trump administration when he inquired about the confirmation process for a top U.S. Army position before extending $16 million in loans to Trump’s former campaign chairman.
Lawmakers disclosed the inquiry as part of an ongoing probe into loans from Chicago-based Federal Savings Bank to Paul Manafort in the weeks after Donald Trump’s election victory in November 2016. The investigation is being conducted by ranking Democratic members of the U.S. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and a national security subcommittee.
Public records show Federal Savings made two loans to Manafort in December 2016 and January 2017: a $9.5 million mortgage secured by Manafort’s home in the wealthy Hamptons enclave in New York and a $6.5 million loan against a brownstone in Brooklyn.
A string of media reports last year suggested the loans might have been part of a quid pro quo agreement in which Manafort, who was Trump’s campaign chairman until August 2016, would make sure Stephen Calk, chief executive of Federal Savings, was named secretary of the Army.
The lawmakers, Elijah Cummings and Stephen Lynch, said the Department of Defense (DOD) reported to them that Calk had called Army administrative personnel in November 2016 “regarding the confirmation process in general.”
Federal Savings said in a statement that media reports implying Manafort received the loans in exchange for the promise of a position were not true. The bank said it was cooperating with a federal probe overseen by Special Counsel Robert Mueller into alleged ties between the Trump campaign and Russia.
A spokesman for Manafort, who has been indicted by Mueller for tax evasion, money laundering, and other charges, declined to comment. Manafort has denied any wrongdoing and is preparing for trial.
In addition to the phone call, Calk also met with the Army’s chief of staff on Nov. 16, 2016, eight days after the election, at a business gathering in Chicago, according to information provided to Cummings and Lynch by the DOD.
In a letter the Democratic lawmakers asked Calk to hand over all communications with Manafort, former Manafort business partner Rick Gates, and others tied to the Trump campaign, as well as any Manafort related loan documents.
“This new information provided by DOD appears to confirm at least part of the underlying allegation, which is that you were actively inquiring with the Pentagon within days of the presidential election,” Cummings and Lynch wrote in the letter.
Federal Savings has been under scrutiny by Mueller and the subject of subpoenas from federal prosecutors in New York and the Manhattan District Attorney, according to people familiar with the matter.
(This version of the story corrects end of Manafort’s tenure as campaign chair to August 2016 in paragraph 4)
Reporting by Nathan Layne and Karen Freifeld in Washington; Editing by Richard Chang
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa- ... SKBN1HJ33S
Manafort Suspected of Serving as ‘Back Channel’ to Russia, DOJ Says
David VoreacosApril 19, 2018, 1:08 PM CDT
Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s interest in former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort stemmed in part from his suspected role as a “back channel” between the campaign and Russians intent on meddling in the election, a Justice Department lawyer told a judge.
The disclosure by U.S. prosecutors came Thursday during a hearing on whether Mueller exceeded his authority in indicting Manafort on charges of laundering millions of dollars while acting as an unregistered agent of the Ukrainian government. Manafort’s lawyers say those alleged crimes have nothing to do with Mueller’s central mission -- to determine whether anyone in the Trump campaign had links to the Russian government.
Defense attorney Kevin Downing argued anew to U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson in Washington that even Mueller’s appointment order permitting him to probe “any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation” wouldn’t cover the political consulting work that Manafort did in Ukraine for a decade.
But Justice Department attorney Michael Dreeben said prosecutors were justified in investigating Manafort because he had served as Trump’s campaign chairman.
“He had long-standing ties to Russia-backed politicians,” Dreeben told Jackson. “Did they provide back channels to Russia? Investigators will naturally look at those things.”
Prosecutors hadn’t previously used such explicit language to describe their suspicions about Manafort. In a previous court filing, Mueller also cited business ties between Manafort and the Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska.
Any investigation of links between Russia and the Trump campaign “would naturally cover ties that a former Trump campaign manager had to Russian-associated political operatives, Russian-backed politicians, and Russian oligarchs,” prosecutors said in an April 2 filing.
“It would also naturally look into any interactions they may have had before and during the campaign to plumb motives and opportunities to coordinate and to expose possible channels for surreptitious communications,” prosecutors wrote. “And prosecutors would naturally follow the money trail from Manafort’s Ukrainian consulting activities. Because investigation of those matters was authorized, so was prosecution.”
At Thursday’s hearing, Downing argued that he was challenging whether Mueller “had the jurisdiction and the authority to conduct the investigation.” He focused on Mueller’s release of a memo dated Aug. 2, 2017, and signed by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, that
spelled out the reasons for pursuing Manafort. Heavy redactions in the public version make it hard to tell all of the reasons.
Downing said that at the time of Mueller’s appointment, Rosenstein apparently failed to put in writing his reasons for pursuing Manafort, even though regulations say the special counsel “will be provided with a specific factual statement of the matter to be investigated.”
Downing said Rosenstein drafted the August 2017 memo because “he realizes he got something wrong” when Mueller was appointed nearly three months earlier. He said he’s received nothing in writing from prosecutors about the reasons then for the Manafort probe.
“In a case of such national importance, that’s being looked at all over the world, there’s no writing, there’s no memo?” Downing said. “I can’t believe the Department of Justice operates like that.”
Dreeben said the August 2017 memo serves as “confirmation” of what prosecutors suspected about Manafort at the time of Mueller’s appointment. He also said that order and underlying regulations require Mueller to report on his work to Rosenstein.
“It’s not a blank check,” he said. “It’s not carte blanche.”
Jackson heard similar arguments about Mueller’s authority at a hearing on April 4, when Downing defended his civil lawsuit that also said prosecutors had no authority to charge Manafort. The judge expressed deep skepticism then about whether a civil lawsuit was the proper legal step. She didn’t say when she would rule in either case.
Mueller has charged 19 people, including 13 Russians, since his appointment. Five have pleaded guilty, including Rick Gates, a former Trump deputy campaign chairman and longtime business associate of Manafort. Gates is cooperating with Mueller’s investigation.
Aside from the Washington indictment, Manafort is also charged in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia, with bank and tax fraud.
Dreeben, who is helping Mueller with the investigation, has argued more than 100 cases before the U.S. Supreme Court as deputy solicitor general.
The cases are U.S. v. Manafort, 18-cr-83, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Virginia (Alexandria), and U.S. v. Manafort, 17-cr-201, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia (Washington).
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles ... awyer-says
Paul Manafort Would Like Access To His Money Back
During arguments Thursday on Paul Manafort's motion to dismiss the DC indictment, one of his lawyers noted that Manafort's assets have been tied up since he was charged.
Posted on April 19, 2018, at 2:22 p.m.
Former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort's bank accounts and other assets have been off limits since he was indicted in October, and one of his lawyers made clear on Thursday that he's eager to get access to that money back.
Near the end of arguments over Manafort's multifaceted attack on the indictment returned by a grand jury in Washington, DC, in special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation, one of his lawyers, Richard Westling, told the judge that Manafort's efforts to get the charges dismissed were different from similar motions in other cases because of the substantial assets tied up while the case is pending.
Manafort's indictment in DC includes a forfeiture claim against four properties, a life insurance policy, and accounts with two financial institutions — assets the government would seize if Manfort is convicted. In most criminal cases, the government doesn't take assets at the start, but the assets are subject to a pretrial restraining order that limits how they can be used.
The charging papers didn't specify how much all of Manafort's assets subject to forfeiture were worth, but Westling told the judge that "millions of dollars" weren't available to Manafort to do what he needed to do to defend against the case.
Manafort has three lawyers working on his case and whatever payment agreement he has with them isn't a matter of public record. A spokesman for Manafort declined to comment.
Lawyers for Manafort and the special counsel's office spent much of Thursday morning sparring over the legitimacy of Mueller's appointment. Rosenstein's May 17 order appointing Mueller stated the special counsel's office had authority to investigate "any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation" into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Manafort's lawyers are arguing that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein gave Mueller too broad a mandate, and that even if the appointment order was valid, Mueller had exceeded its scope.
Manafort's lead attorney, Kevin Downing, argued that they should have access to internal records, if they exist, concerning Mueller's appointment and what exactly Rosenstein told Mueller the special counsel's office could do. The special counsel's office filed a copy of an Aug. 2 memo from Rosenstein to Mueller that identified several subjects related to Manafort as being under Mueller's authority, but Downing said that didn't resolve the question of whether the original appointment was valid.
US District Judge Amy Berman Jackson asked what it would mean if Rosenstein told Mueller on his first day that he had authority to investigate Manafort's work in Ukraine. Downing replied that it was difficult to respond to hypotheticals without knowing what Rosenstein communicated to Mueller.
"This is like me digging a hole for myself," Downing said.
Jackson questioned how Manafort could raise a challenge under the Justice Department's special counsel regulations, which stated that they didn't create any legal rights that could be enforced in court. Downing replied that they believed they could challenge Mueller's authority under the regulations, which he argued were written to carry out the federal law allowing for the appointment of a special counsel.
Jackson also asked Downing why the Manafort case wouldn't fall under the first section of Rosenstein's appointment order, which said Mueller was authorized to investigate "any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with" Trump's campaign. Jackson noted that the order used the phrase "and/or," and asked why that wouldn't mean that Mueller's team could look at links between Russia and people from Trump's campaign, such as Manafort, setting aside any question of coordination.
Downing replied that Mueller's mandate was related to the campaign, not unrelated activities going back 10 years. Downing acknowledged that one of the counts related to conduct by Manafort in 2016, but said didn't concern his time on the campaign. That was the point, he told Jackson.
"That's your point, but that's not what the appointment order says," Jackson said.
Jackson seemed skeptical of Manafort's arguments for dismissing the entire indictment, although she did press special counsel lawyer Michael Dreeben about how Rosenstein could tell Mueller he had authority at the start to investigate all matters that "may arise" from the investigation. Dreeben — the deputy US solicitor general, who is also working with Mueller's office — replied that the language reflected that the purpose of an investigation was to move forward and uncover new evidence.
Dreeben said the special counsel's office was supposed to operate independently of day-to-day oversight from the Justice Department, while also complying with requirements to report back to the Justice Department official in charge — in this case, Rosenstein, since Attorney General Jeff Sessions is recused — in order to ensure accountability.
Dreeben said Rosenstein wrote the August memo detailing Mueller's authority with future challenges like Manafort's in mind. Dreeben denied that Mueller had been given a "blank check" to investigate whatever he wanted — the regulations still required Mueller to go to Rosenstein if new matters came up, he said. Dreeben also pushed back on Downing's arguments in favor of access to any other records about what Rosenstein told Mueller about his authority — it would be "extraordinary" to allow the curtain to be pulled back on the internal workings of a criminal investigation, he said.
Manafort's lawyers also pressed two separate challenges to the indictment. One motion asks the judge to dismiss one of two counts that accuse Manafort of making false statements in materials he submitted when he registered as an agent for Ukraine. Manafort is arguing that the two counts — violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) by making false or misleading statements, and generally making false statements — were the same, and couldn't both go forward.
Special counsel lawyer Elizabeth Prelogar argued that there were scenarios in which the jury wouldn't have to find Manafort guilty of one of the counts if they found him guilty of the other — for instance, if jurors found that he made misleading statements under FARA but didn't make false statements.
Manafort's are also asking the judge to dismiss a count charging Manafort with conspiracy to engage in money laundering, which is based on the underlying crime of the FARA violations. Manafort's lawyers argued that the money Manafort is accusing of moving around didn't stem from his failure to register as an agent for a foreign entity. The special counsel's office countered that Manafort's actions as an agent, which Ukraine paid him for, were tied up in his failure to register with US authorities.
Manafort is separately suing the Justice Department and the special counsel's office, raising similar arguments challenging the validity of Mueller's appointment as special counsel. Although the lawsuit originally asked the court to set "all actions taken against Mr. Manafort pursuant to the Appointment Order," Manfort's lawyers later walked that back, saying they were only seeing a forward-looking order from the court blocking Mueller's office from indicting him again. Jackson heard arguments on the Justice Department's motion to dismiss Manafort's lawsuit on April 4.
Manafort is also facing an indictment in federal court in Virginia, which he's also challenging on the grounds that Mueller's appointment was invalid. Arguments on that motion before US District Judge TS Ellis III are scheduled for May 4.
https://www.buzzfeed.com/zoetillman/pau ... .qoN25A0bq
Unsealed Transcripts Shed Light On How Mueller’s Office Ratcheted Up The Pressure On Paul Manafort And Rick Gates
The transcripts show Manafort and Gates knew more than a month before the case became public that Mueller’s office planned to charge them in Virginia.
Zoe TillmanApril 20, 2018, at 10:00 a.m.
Carlos Barria / Reuters
Newly unsealed transcripts in the criminal case against former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort and his deputy Rick Gates offer a glimpse into how special counsel Robert Mueller’s office ramped up the pressure against the two men at the start of the year.
The transcripts reveal conversations that took place at the bench — out of earshot of members of the public and the press in the courtroom — between the lawyers and the judge during hearings on Jan. 16 and Feb. 14. They show that Manafort and Gates knew at least as far back as mid-January that more charges were coming, but they didn’t know exactly when that would happen.
That new set of charges, filed in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia, wouldn’t become public until more than a month later.
The transcripts, which US District Judge Amy Berman Jackson in Washington, DC, ordered unsealed this week, provide new perspective on Gates’ decision to plead guilty on Feb. 23. They show his lawyers had concerns about their ability to defend charges on multiple fronts. One of his lawyers at the time, Walter Mack, told the judge that, “for a lot of reasons, we feel we can only proceed in one.” He didn’t elaborate. They also show that prosecutors were negotiating with Gates as of Feb. 14.
There was no indication in the transcripts that Manafort was pursuing a deal, even after he learned about the new charges. Manafort is challenging the indictments returned by federal grand juries in Washington and Virginia — Jackson heard arguments on Manafort's motion to dismiss the DC indictment on Thursday — and he’s pursuing a separate, civil lawsuit challenging the validity of Mueller’s appointment in the hopes of blocking the special counsel’s office from indicting him again in the future.
A spokesperson for Manafort declined to comment. Lawyers for Gates, who agreed to cooperate with Mueller’s office as part of his plea deal, declined to comment or did not immediately return requests for comment on Friday.
During the nonpublic portion of the hearing before Jackson on Jan. 16, special counsel prosecutor Greg Andres told the judge that his office had told Manafort and Gates that they planned to file additional charges, and that it would happen in a different court; Andres didn’t say where at first, but another lawyer referred to the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. Gates agreed to waive the venue issue so that all of the charges could be handled in one place, but Manafort did not.
Mack then raised the issue of their concerns about defending charges in two courts, and told Jackson that they would move to transfer the charges back to DC once they were filed in Virginia.
Kevin Downing, Paul Manafort’s lead attorney, told Jackson that they were told what the new charges would be. The indictment in Virginia included charges of filing false income tax returns, failing to report foreign financial accounts, and bank fraud.
Andres said it would be about 30 days before the new charges were filed.
After the lawyers asked for a trial date in mid-September, Jackson predicted — correctly, as it would turn out — that the trial in Virginia might end up going first. The Eastern District of Virginia is known as the “rocket docket” for how quickly cases move through. The judge in Manafort’s case in Virginia, US District Judge TS Ellis III, scheduled the trial there to begin July 10.
During the Jan. 16 discussion, Jackson also admonished Downing for a letter that Manafort gave to the Pretrial Services Agency from his doctor, which hadn’t been filed on the docket — Jackson said the letter was basically asking for a change in Manafort’s conditions of release, and should have been filed.
“You don't send me messages through other people in the building. If you want to communicate with the Court, you docket something,” Jackson said.
Later in the public portion of the hearing, the judge addressed the letter and said those sorts of requests needed to be filed on the docket. She hinted at what it was about, telling Downing, “I will note from the record that while he's subject to home confinement, he's not confined to his couch. And I believe he has plenty of opportunity to exercise.”
Jackson agreed to keep the discussion at the bench sealed until the charges in Virginia were filed, which the government said they expected to happen by the next court date set for Feb. 14.
But the Virginia indictment wasn’t publicly filed by the Feb. 14 hearing, which meant the lawyers were back up at the bench, to Jackson’s apparent disappointment. She told the lawyers she had hoped that if the Virginia charges weren’t filed yet, they would ask to postpone the hearing “so we wouldn't be doing this with everybody watching us, not talking to them. But here we are.”
This time, the special counsel’s office asked to speak to Jackson alone, which the judge allowed over objections from Manafort and Gates’ lawyers. Andres then revealed that the grand jury in Virginia had returned an indictment against Manafort the day before, and that his office was planning to return an updated indictment against Manafort in DC soon.
Andres told the judge that Gates was negotiating with the special counsel’s office, and that they hoped to resolve that in the next week to 10 days. If they didn’t reach an agreement, he said the government would get superseding indictments that added Gates as a codefendant. Manafort did not know at the time that he was the only person charged in Virginia, Andres said. CNN, which had noted in January that Gates' decision to bring on a new lawyer suggested he might be negotiating with prosecutors, reported the next day that Gates was nearing a plea deal, and had been in talks with Mueller's office for about a month.
Eight days later, on Feb. 22, Mueller’s revealed in a public court filing that the Virginia grand jury had returned a superseding indictment against Gates and Manafort, suggesting that negotiations with Gates had broken down. But the next day, Gates pleaded guilty in the DC case, and the charges in Virginia were dropped.
https://www.buzzfeed.com/zoetillman/uns ... .khJJZqkp2
FBI RAIDED MANAFORT OVER RECORDS OF TRUMP TOWER MEETING WITH RUSSIANS, MUELLER CONFIRMS
BY SHANE CROUCHER ON 4/24/18 AT 4:38 AM
A new court filing by Robert Mueller’s Special Counsel confirms that Paul Manafort was raided by the FBI to look for documents relating to the Trump Tower meeting in June 2016 with Russian lobbyists, which was brokered by Donald Trump Jr.
Manafort, President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, is indicted on five counts, among them conspiracy against the United States, money laundering, and acting as an agent of a foreign government without registering as such. The 69-year-old political consultant made tens of millions of dollars by working for the Ukrainian government, then controlled by the Kremlin ally Viktor Yanukovych.
He attended the Trump Tower meeting, at which a Russian lawyer with links to the Kremlin and a former Soviet counterintelligence officer were also present, while running the presidential campaign. They allegedly promised dirt on Trump’s rival, Hillary Clinton.
According to the latest court filing by the Mueller inquiry, which is defending a warrant attached to a raid on Manafort’s home in July 2017, part of what the FBI were hunting for were “communications, records, documents, and other files involving any of the attendees of the June 9, 2016 meeting at Trump Tower, as well as Aras and [Emin] Agalarov.”
Investigators were also searching for documents relating to Manafort and his associates' financial dealings, bank accounts, payments made by foreign individuals, and work on behalf of foreign entities, such as governments or officials.
The Agalarovs, a wealthy Azeri family, helped arrange the meeting by connecting the Trump campaign with the Russian lawyer, though they are not believed to have been present at it.
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Details of what exactly happened at the meeting are murky amid contradictory statements by those who were involved. Mueller is investigating suspicions of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government to undermine American democracy.
There were at least eight people in attendance at the meeting. They include Manafort; Donald Trump Jr, the president's eldest son; Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law; Natalia Veselnitskaya, a Russian lawyer and lobbyist with close ties to the Kremlin; Rinat Akhmetshin, a Russian-American lawyer and former Soviet counterintelligence officer; Rob Goldstone, the publicist of Emin Agalarov, who is connected to Trump Jr's attorney and Ike Kaveladze, a Georgian-American executive at Aras Agalarov's real estate company.
Trump Jr released publicly his email correspondence with Goldstone after reports of the meeting’s existence first emerged in mid-2017.
Goldstone told Trump Jr that the Aras Agalarov had met with the crown prosecutor of Russia who “offered to provide the Trump campaign with some official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary [Clinton] and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father. This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr Trump—helped along by Aras and Emin.”
Trump Jr replied that "if it’s what you say I love it," and sought more information ahead of a proposed meeting.
President Trump denied any knowledge of the meeting taking place at the time and said that he only found out about it when the media reported it.
http://www.newsweek.com/fbi-raided-mana ... rms-898389
Inside Deripaska's scramble to soften Russia sanctions blow
Apr. 23, 2018, 5:34 PM 5
FILE PHOTO: President of En+ Group, Oleg Deripaska attends an agreement signing ceremony with the Krasnoyarsk region's government, in Moscow, Russia December 12, 2017. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin
President of En+ Group, Oleg Deripaska attends an agreement signing ceremony with the Krasnoyarsk region's government, in Moscow Thomson Reuters
By Polina Devitt, Dmitry Zhdannikov and Julia Payne
MOSCOW/LONDON (Reuters) - In December, as news reports emerged about potential new U.S. sanctions against Russia, aluminum magnate Oleg Deripaska instructed advisers to draw up contingency plans, according to people close to the businessman and his firms.
Senior executives, lawyers and aides working for the Russian tycoon met almost weekly to develop a game plan for different sanctions scenarios, the people said.
They even took preemptive steps to mitigate the impact of sanctions, including switching most dollar payments and loans of Deripaska's En+ Group PLC into euros and pounds as well as planning to replace U.S. equipment suppliers with European ones, according to one of the people involved in the planning.
But they concluded there was one scenario so severe that there would be little they could do if it came to pass: the stiffest sanctions being applied to his business empire, not just Deripaska himself.
"People inside the room had a cold sweat," when that scenario was mentioned, the person said. "You cannot prepare for this."
It was this scenario that Washington chose. On April 6, it announced sanctions against Deripaska and his eight companies, along with other Russian individuals and firms, in response to what the United States called "malign activities" by Russia.
By adding Deripaska's businesses to its Specially Designated Nationals blacklist - the first time Washington had done so with a publicly-listed Russian company - the U.S. effectively choked off their access to the international financial system.
The move sent reverberations around the world. Deripaska's business empire - which includes United Company Rusal PLC, the world's second largest aluminum producer by volume of production - has a global footprint and counts major international companies as customers.
The extent of the impact shows the power the United States exerts over the global financial system through the dollar clearing process.
Rusal, the largest part of Deripaska's empire, has seen customers stop buying its aluminum and creditors scramble to offload debt. Hong Kong-listed Rusal has lost more than 60 percent of its share value. Deripaska's En+ Group PLC, which owns part of Rusal and supplies power and coal, has also seen its London-listed shares more than halve in value.
Deripaska has called the sanctions "very unfortunate but not unexpected." He added that his inclusion on the list was "groundless, ridiculous and absurd."
A spokeswoman for Deripaska declined further comment.
Rusal has said its inclusion on the sanctions list could leave it unable to pay billions of dollars it owes to its lenders - some of the leading Western and Asian banks.
On Monday, the United States opened the door to sanctions relief for Rusal when the Treasury said in a statement it could soften the measures if Deripaska ceded control in the firm.
The Treasury said its goal was to avoid hitting businesses around the world which depended heavily on supplies from Rusal.
The news sent shares in Rusal up more than 13 percent in Moscow, but they remain far below pre-sanctions levels.
The team assembled in December consisted of about a dozen top managers - including executives from finance, legal and human resources - and aides to discuss ways to mitigate the impact of sanctions on Rusal. A similar team gathered to focus on En+, according to the people familiar with the planning.
The groups met in their separate Moscow offices and gave regular updates to Deripaska, in person and by emails, the people said.
The biggest concern was that tough sanctions against Deripaska's businesses would stop Western banks and clearing houses from interacting with them, impacting everything from raising debt to sales on world markets, according to the people.
Deripaska took pre-emptive steps. In February, the billionaire announced his resignation from executive positions at En+ and Rusal.
The hope, according to one source close to Rusal, was that he would protect the companies from sanctions even if he was put on the list himself.
Deripaska made other changes out of the public eye. In a previously unreported move, En+ had by March switched most of its dollar payments and loans into euros and pounds, according to a person familiar with En+ preparations.
That means the company can service its debts and receive payments which otherwise would have stopped if they remained dollar-denominated.
Another key concern was the impact sanctions would have on suppliers of equipment to Deripaska's firms, as tough sanctions against his entities would prohibit U.S. companies from doing business with them.
The En+ team of advisers put together a plan aimed at cutting exposure to U.S. turbines suppliers such as General Electric and replacing them gradually with European firms, the person familiar with En+ preparations said.
"But on a number of other issues we hit a road block," the person said.
He cited a failed pre-sanctions attempt to find a non-U.S. bank to act as a depositary for En+'s London-listed shares, known as Global Depository Receipts or GDRs, a role then held by Citigroup Inc.
"We tried EU banks, Hong Kong banks, even an Israeli bank - but as soon as we mentioned possible sanctions, it wasn't going anywhere," the person familiar with En+ preparations said, without naming the banks.
"All transactions are done through the dollar and no one wanted to take the risk of being cut off from dollar clearing."
The person added the En+ group also looked into moving trading of its GDRs to Moscow from London but concluded a new initial public offering would be needed to achieve that.
"We simply didn't have that time," the person said.
When the sanctions were announced in April, Citigroup, the custodian for GDRs at En+, suspended all transactions. The move rattled investors because the sanctions require that U.S. citizens must divest of any stocks, bonds or other holdings in the targeted firms by May 7.
Several days later, Citigroup informed En+ that it had begun facilitating transactions again with its GDRs, according to a statement from En+. Citigroup declined to comment.
But, according to the person familiar with En+ preparations, holders of En+ GDRs have not been able to sell because the designated clearing house Euroclear is not settling the trades, the stage at which cash and securities trade hands.
Belgium-based Euroclear declined to comment.
The Rusal contingency team felt like it had fewer options than their En+ counterparts because the metals producer had a much larger portion of debt and contracts in dollars due to the nature of the aluminum market, according to three people close to Rusal.
One of these people also said the aluminum company didn't prepare well for the toughest sanctions, because Deripaska and the contingency team believed the United States would not want to disrupt the aluminum markets and because the U.S. had not levied sanctions against a publicly traded Russian firm before.
Rusal had no plan in place for requesting immediate help from the Russian government to assist in refinancing debt or paying its employees, according to the three sources close to Rusal.
Russia's industry and trade minister told reporters last week that the government had not received a detailed request for help from any of Deripaska's companies.
The people close to Rusal also said such requests have not been filed, although two of them added that the company was working on such a request.
A Kremlin spokesman said on Thursday that a temporary nationalization of Rusal was among options the Kremlin was studying to help the company navigate sanctions.
Russia's prime minister has described the sanctions as an attempt by the United States to capture new markets for its companies and directed the Russian government to study measures to support firms under fresh sanctions.
(Reporting by Dmitry Zhdannikov, Polina Devitt, Nastya Lyrchikova and Julia Payne; Writing by Dmitry Zhdannikov; Editing by Cassell Bryan-Low)
http://www.businessinsider.com/r-inside ... low-2018-4
We know an awful lot about Manafort and Russia. Trump can’t make it disappear.
Opinion | The key to the Mueller investigation is Paul Manafort’s life
Columnist David Ignatius says that by the time Paul Manafort met his end as Donald Trump's presidential campaign manager, his life was shattered. (Adriana Usero , Kate Woodsome/The Washington Post)
When August 2016 began, Paul Manafort was about 11 weeks into his job as chairman of Donald Trump’s campaign. But despite the political tumult, Manafort found time that month to meet at a swank Manhattan cigar bar with someone the FBI has suggested has ties to Russian intelligence.
By the time August ended, Manafort was gone — having resigned after allegations that he had received millions of dollars “off the books” to support pro-Russia figures in Ukraine. On the very day he was forced out, the financially strapped Manafort created a shell company that received $13 million in loans over the next few months from people or financial institutions with links to Trump.
The machinations of August illustrate why Manafort is a central figure in special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation. And they show why the probe has deep roots — in evidence already made public, cases filed and plea deals won — that will persist even if Trump moves to fire Mueller.
Manafort has pleaded not guilty to tax and bank fraud charges and making false statements — charges filed in two indictments, in Washington and Alexandria. His attorneys have argued that Mueller’s allegations about Manafort are outside the scope of his jurisdiction in the Russian election-meddling probe.
In a court hearing on Thursday, Michael Dreeben, a lawyer on Mueller’s team, countered that the investigation of Trump’s former campaign manager was justified. “He [Manafort] had long-standing ties to Russia-backed politicians,” Dreeben told U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson. “Did they provide back channels to Russia? Investigators will naturally look at those things.”
[Who has been charged in the Russia probe and why]
An ominous sign for Manafort — and potentially for Trump himself — is the recent revelation of an August 2017 memo from then-Acting Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein specifically authorizing Mueller to investigate allegations that Manafort “committed a crime or crimes by colluding with Russian government officials with respect to the Russian government’s efforts to interfere with the 2016 election.”
The Manafort story, like so much in the Trump-Russia investigation, is a case in which many of the facts are hiding in plain sight. Mueller has released key details in court filings. Others have emerged in public documents, or in interviews given by the key figures. The Mueller files and other documents suggest a pattern of collusion, money laundering and coverup. They also show the loose oversight and vetting of Trump campaign personnel, and the multiplicity of attempts by Trump campaign officials to contact Russia-related figures, of which Manafort allegedly was part.
The poignant aspect of Manafort’s story is that he, like so many others in Trump’s orbit, has seen his life shattered after working with Trump. Manafort is now bound in a knot of financial and legal troubles, pursued by a dogged Mueller team and subject to a court “gag order” that prevents him from responding directly to allegations. What follows is an attempt to weave the strands of Manafort’s story into a coherent, if still incomplete, narrative.
The story of Manafort’s involvement in the Trump campaign begins with Thomas J. Barrack Jr., a billionaire real estate financier close to both men. After hearing Manafort’s ideas for boosting the campaign following Trump’s defeat in the February 2016 Iowa caucuses, Barrack forwarded Manafort’s suggestions to Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner. Barrack’s cover letter described Manafort as “the most experienced and lethal of managers” who would be a “killer” at the GOP convention.
What’s astonishing, in hindsight, is that after Barrack’s initial introduction, nobody from the Trump campaign attempted any serious vetting of Manafort’s background. One campaign insider, speaking on condition of anonymity in order to describe its internal workings, told me he doesn’t recall any serious questions being asked about Manafort’s activities in Ukraine or his past links with pro-Russia figures. This lack of vetting is surprising, given that the FBI had investigated Manafort’s Ukraine activities back in 2014, according to a source familiar with the bureau’s investigation who wasn’t authorized to speak publicly about it. Such questions weren’t posed about any Trump advisers. It was “plug and play,” the insider recalled, with “no process” for background checks.
Manafort joined the Trump campaign on March 29, initially to manage the insurgent candidate’s planning for the Republican convention in Cleveland in July. Even as he was getting started, Manafort wanted some Russian former business associates to know he was in the catbird seat. On April 11, he sent an email to Konstantin Kilimnik, who managed his office in Kiev, to ask whether the “OVD operation” knew about “media coverage” of Manafort’s growing role in the campaign, according to emails, excerpts of which were reported first by The Post and then in full by the Atlantic .
Paul Manafort, candidate Donald Trump’s campaign chairman, is interviewed on the floor of the Republican National Convention on July 17, 2016, in Cleveland. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Mueller’s court filings help decode these references. Kilimnik matches the “Person A” described in a series of documents by Mueller, a “foreign national” who was “a close business colleague” and “worked in Ukraine at Manafort’s company.” Mueller’s March 27 sentencing memo in a separate case included this startling allegation: FBI agents “assess that Person A has ties to a Russian intelligence service and had such ties in 2016.” (Kilimnik has denied any intelligence ties, and some Manafort sympathizers argue that the FBI has overstated any real intelligence role Kilimnik might have played.)
And who was the “OVD” whom Manafort was so eager to impress? According to The Post and the Atlantic, which cited people familiar with the emails, it was Oleg V. Deripaska, a billionaire Russian oligarch and Kremlin insider. Manafort had been trying for more than a decade to woo Deripaska into various business deals, and, along with his partner Rick Gates, used funds controlled by the oligarch as “their personal piggy banks,” according to a lawsuit filed against the pair in January by a company controlled by Deripaska.
As Trump neared the nomination in mid-summer, Manafort continued to nurture his Russian ties. In a July 7 email to Kilimnik, Manafort offered: “If he needs private briefings we can accommodate,” The Post wrote on Sept. 20, 2017, quoting from the emails. Manafort didn’t specify who the “he” was, but people familiar with the discussions told me that it was a reference to Deripaska.
Mueller’s team cited news reports about Manafort’s past relationship with Deripaska in an April 2, 2018, court filing that noted: “Open-source reporting also has described business arrangements between Manafort and ‘a Russian oligarch, Oleg Deripaska, a close ally of President Vladimir V. Putin,’ ” quoting the August 2016 New York Times article that first revealed the alleged “black ledger” Ukrainian payments to Manafort. The prosecution memo continued that Mueller’s investigation “would naturally cover ties that a former Trump campaign manager had to Russian-associated political operatives, Russian-backed politicians, and Russian oligarchs.”
A Deripaska spokeswoman has denied that the Russian tycoon received any offer of a briefing from Manafort. In a comment to The Post last September, the spokeswoman rejected reports of Manafort’s alleged emails as the work of “consultants in the notorious ‘beltway bandit’ industry.”
Whatever his Manafort connection, Deripaska has paid a steep price for his alleged ties to the Kremlin: Deripaska’s aluminum company was sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury this month; the next trading day, its shares lost half their value.
Now we come to August 2016, and Manafort’s political demise. On Aug. 2, he met with Kilimnik, his partner in Ukraine, who had just arrived in New York with a message from a seeming Russian friend about the “future of his country,” as Kilimnik had explained it in a July 29 email setting up the meeting. Kilimnik’s email referred to the mysterious figure only as “the guy who gave you your biggest black caviar jar,” according to The Post, an apparent reference to an unnamed Russian.
Manafort and Kilimnik met at a Manhattan cigar bar called the Grand Havana Room. The two discussed “bills unpaid,” the “situation in Ukraine” and “current news,” including “the perception of the U.S. presidential campaign in Ukraine,” Kilimnik told The Post last June. Given Mueller’s allegation about Person A, this meeting may represent the closest known link between a senior Trump campaign official and someone with alleged ties to Russian intelligence.
It wasn’t the only Moscow connection. A half dozen Trump campaign contacts with Russia or its alleged operatives were underway roughly at the same time, the public record shows, involving foreign-policy advisers Michael Flynn, George Papadopoulos and Carter Page; campaign adviser Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.); son-in-law Jared Kushner; and eldest son Donald Trump Jr.
Manafort’s world began to implode on Aug. 14, when the New York Times published an article alleging that Ukraine’s National Anti-Corruption Bureau had discovered a so-called black ledger detailing $12.7 million in secret payments to Manafort to help Viktor Yanukovych, the pro-Moscow president of Ukraine who was toppled in 2014. (Ukrainian authorities said last June that they didn’t have proof that Manafort received the money, according to Bloomberg.)
The final rupture came on Aug. 19. CNN reported that day that the Justice Department and FBI were investigating Manafort’s firm’s ties to Yanukovych. That same day, Trump “accepted” Manafort’s resignation as campaign chairman. “My father just didn’t want to have the distraction looming over the campaign,” Eric Trump told Fox News. The real problem, a campaign insider told me, was that Manafort had no “personal chemistry” with Trump.
Manafort was in money trouble, too. Genesis Capital, which describes itself as a “private money-lender for professional investors,” had lent about $20 million, at high interest, to various Manafort-related properties since 2015. Four California properties secured about $15 million of those loans to Manafort-family shell companies; Genesis Capital issued default notices on those California properties on Aug. 16, Aug. 18, Aug. 19 and Aug. 30, 2016, court documents show. Meanwhile, Genesis had lent an additional $5.3 million in February 2016 to another Manafort shell, called MC Brooklyn Holdings, secured by a property on Union Street in Brooklyn. The Brooklyn shell company missed a scheduled payment in June, and Genesis initiated foreclosure proceedings in September 2016.
As Manafort’s problems mounted, the Genesis loans entered a legal netherworld of default and change of ownership. Genesis Capital was sold in January 2018 to Goldman Sachs, but the Manafort loans were retained by the seller, an investment firm called Oaktree Capital Management, evidently because Goldman didn’t want them. Oaktree has tried to collect, but all four California loans remain in default, and one of them has been foreclosed. Court documents indicate that Manafort was able to keep the Brooklyn property and pay off the Genesis loan. Genesis Capital and Oaktree Capital both declined to make any public comment.
Documentation of some of Manafort’s real estate activities has been compiled by independent investigators Julian Russo and Matthew Termine on the website 377Union.com.
[What we know about Team Trump’s ties to Russian interests]
How did Manafort initially address these financial problems? It was thanks to loans from entities with ties to Trump that channeled the money into a newly designated shell company with an ironically sunny name — Summerbreeze LLC.
Summerbreeze was registered on Aug. 19 with New York’s Division of Corporations by Manafort’s real estate lawyer Bruce Baldinger, state records show. (Baldinger did not respond to a request for comment.) On Sept. 12, Summerbreeze received a $3.5 million loan from a unit of Spruce Capital, a New York investment firm co-founded by Joshua Crane, who was Trump’s partner in a real estate deal in Waikiki.
Crane said in an email that the firm “received the loan through a broker.” He said, “I have no relationship to Manafort and have not spoken to him,” adding that “nobody induced us to make the loan.”
In December, Summerbreeze received a $9.5 million mortgage loan from Federal Savings Bank, a Chicago-based bank headed by Stephen Calk, a member of Trump’s campaign economic council and later, briefly, a candidate to become Army secretary in the Trump administration. In January, Federal Savings made two more loans, totaling $6.5 million, to assist Manafort, for a total of $16 million. The second loan allowed Manafort to pay off the $5.3 million Genesis loan, according to a person familiar with the transaction who wasn’t authorized to speak publicly.
Untangling the web of Paul Manafort
What you need to know about Paul Manafort's ties to Russia. (Thomas Johnson/The Washington Post)
Calk’s business career had been boosted by Howard Lorber, chief executive of Vector Group, another member of the campaign economic council and a man Trump once described as one of his two closest friends. Lorber’s firm was an early investor in Calk’s Federal Savings Bank, and in 2014, through his Douglas Elliman real-estate brokerage, Lorber formed a partnership called DE Capital with Calk’s bank. It soured the next year, and Lorber found a new mortgage-banking partner in Citizens Bank. Interestingly, Citizens Bank, too, lent money to Manafort and his wife, extending them a $3.4 million loan in March 2016, the month Manafort signed on with Trump.
A Federal Savings Bank spokeswoman in February denied any wrongdoing in the loan and said Calk’s bank was cooperating with Mueller’s investigation. Lorber, through a spokesperson, declined to comment. But according to a Lorber associate who requested anonymity because the associate was not authorized to speak on the record, “Howard had no involvement with or knowledge of the loans.”
As Manafort began juggling to pay off his debts in August 2016, he also started crafting a public-relations strategy to explain his Ukrainian connections. According to exhibits filed in December 2017 by Mueller in the Manafort case, the deposed campaign chairman was exchanging emails on Aug. 21 with his business partner Gates, about “narratives” that might explain the Ukraine investigation. Manafort said they needed such responses on: “1. Cash ledger, 2. Fara [an apparent reference to the Foreign Agents Registration Act], 3. Russia.” In a few weeks, Gates had gathered detailed responses on these and other problems.
(Gates pleaded guilty in February to conspiring with Manafort on a fraud scheme, and to making false statements. He’s awaiting sentencing.)
By September 2016, the Manafort team’s effort to tidy up the record of its Ukraine dealings had drawn in a lawyer named Alex van der Zwaan, who pleaded guilty in February to lying to the FBI about his dealings with Gates and was sentenced this month to 30 days in prison. “What I did was wrong,” he told the judge at his sentencing.
Van der Zwaan is another link in Mueller’s chain of evidence. According to the sentencing memo in the case Mueller brought against him, van der Zwaan on Sept. 12 received an email in Russian from the ubiquitous Person A suggesting that they “exchange a few words” through encrypted communications. Van der Zwaan became increasingly involved in the efforts by Gates to “spin” the story of the Ukraine investigation, the memo says.
Attorney Alex van der Zwaan arrives at federal court in Washington on Feb. 20. (Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post)
And where was Manafort in the days after the Aug. 19 rupture? He vanished from the news-media frenzy in New York and went vacationing with his old friend Barrack.
Barrack invited Manafort because he felt sorry for a longtime acquaintance who was “so depressed” after his firing, a knowledgeable source told me. Barrack had chartered the boat from a wealthy Italian businessman named Flavio Briatore, promoter of the Benetton fashion empire and, as it happens, host of the Italian edition of “The Apprentice.” Barrack was cruising off the Greek coast with five friends from his company, Colony NorthStar. Manafort is said to have spent much of the time onboard sleeping and talking about possible future business deals in China.
Barrack had known Manafort for more than 40 years . The two first met in the mid-1970s in Lebanon. They stayed in touch, and in 1996, they met with Abdul-Rahman al-Assir, a Lebanese financier and arms dealer at his Paris home to discuss a possible deal to acquire a French bank, according to testimony that surfaced in a 2012 French magistrate’s investigation of Assir.
Barrack has been a deft financial player, moving among different Middle East connections without being tied to any single one. His firm sold properties in Sardinia to a subsidiary of the Qatar Investment Authority and recently helped build a showplace home in Los Angeles for former Qatari prime minister Hamad Bin Jasim al-Thani. Barrack is also close friends with Saudi and Emirati officials, including the United Arab Emirates’ ambassador to Washington, Yousef al-Otaiba.
Barrack has known Trump for nearly as long as he has Manafort. The two began working together in 1988, when Barrack was representing the owner of the Plaza Hotel, which Trump wanted to buy. Trump eventually purchased the hotel for more than $400 million, only to lose it later when he was facing severe financial problems. “He played me like a Steinway piano,” Barrack said of Trump’s negotiations over the hotel, according to the Real Deal, a real estate publication.
Barrack led the committee that raised more than $100 million for Trump’s inauguration, according to USA Today. In that role, he worked closely with Gates, Manafort’s deputy, who served as deputy chairman of the committee. Barrack stayed loyal even as the FBI investigation of the Manafort team deepened, hiring Gates in March 2017 as a consultant at his Colony NorthStar financial flagship. The job ended when Manafort and Gates were indicted in October.
Barrack has helped Manafort financially several times as well, starting with $1.7 million in loans to his wife, Kathleen, in 2004. And in April 2012, a Manafort company received a $1.5 million mortgage loan from First Republic Bank. Barrack’s company is an investor in the bank, and he sits on its board, though Barrack has said he was not aware of the loan.
If you think you’ve heard the name First Republic Bank somewhere else, you’re right. That’s the same bank from which Trump lawyer Michael Cohen wired $130,000 in hush money to adult-film actress Stormy Daniels. Barrack has said he knew nothing about the payment. Indeed, it was First Republic that notified federal investigators of the payment, because it raised red flags under its “know your customer” rules — setting the Daniels saga rolling.
The Manafort case illustrates how hard it will be for Trump to dispel the allegations that swirl around the Mueller investigation. The president might want to rid himself of the special counsel, but he can’t make the evidence that has already been gathered disappear.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions ... 7244d628f6
A Judge Just Dismissed Paul Manafort's Lawsuit Challenging Mueller's Appointment
The judge concluded Manafort couldn't bring a lawsuit to try to stop the special counsel's office for taking action against him in the future.
Zoe TillmanApril 27, 2018, at 11:27 a.m.
A federal judge on Friday dismissed former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort's civil lawsuit challenging special counsel Robert Mueller's appointment, finding that Manafort couldn't sue to try to stop Mueller's office from taking action against him in the future.
Separate from the criminal cases against him, Manafort had sued the US Department of Justice and Mueller in January, arguing that Mueller's appointment by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein was too broad. Although he had initially asked the judge to set aside actions taken by Mueller so far, his lawyer later changed course and said they were only seeking a forward-looking order.
US District Judge Amy Berman Jackson, who is also presiding over Manafort's criminal case in the US District Court for the District of Columbia, wrote in Friday's opinion that a civil lawsuit "is not the appropriate vehicle for taking issue with what a prosecutor has done in the past or where he might be headed in the future."
The ruling does not affect the criminal proceedings against Manafort in Washington and Virginia. Manafort is separately challenging Mueller's appointment in those cases, and has asked judges to dismiss the indictments filed against him to date. There have been no rulings on those requests yet.
A spokesman for Manafort did not immediately return a request for comment. Representatives of the Justice Department and the special counsel's office declined to comment.
Rosenstein appointed Mueller in May; Rosenstein took on responsibility for the Russia investigation because Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused from matters related to the 2016 presidential campaign. The appointment order gave Mueller authority to not only investigate whether there was any collusion between the Russian government and the Trump campaign, but also any matters that "arose or may arise" from that investigation.
Manafort contends that the "arose or may arise" language was unlawfully vague and unmoored from the Russia investigation. The original appointment order should have been focused on Russia, Manafort's lawyers argued, and if Mueller wanted to investigate anything else, he would have to get permission as issues came up — he couldn't have such a broad mandate at the start.
In dismissing Manafort's lawsuit, Jackson did not address the substance of Manafort's arguments about Mueller's authority. Instead, she focused on whether he could bring a civil lawsuit raising those arguments and seeking future-looking relief at all. She found that he could not. She cited earlier federal appeals court rulings that found that the subject of a criminal investigation could not bring a civil lawsuit to try to stop possible future charges.
"Since it is not clear at this point what actions, if any, the Special Counsel will take with respect to Manafort, and whether those future actions will be subject to attack for the same reasons set forth in the complaint, prudential considerations weigh against hearing an action to prohibit them now," Jackson wrote.
Jackson heard arguments on April 19 on Manafort's motion to dismiss the indictment returned against him by a federal grand jury in Washington. He is facing a five-count indictment, charging him with conspiracy to commit money laundering, failing to register as an agent for foreign entities, and making misleading statements about his work abroad.
In Friday's opinion, she noted that although Manafort sought different outcomes in the civil and criminal cases — blocking future action versus dismissal of existing charges — his arguments were rooted in the same challenge to Mueller's authority. Under federal law, she wrote, he could only bring his civil claim under the federal Administrative Procedure Act if he had "no other adequate remedy in a court."
Arguments on Manafort's motion to dismiss the indictment returned in Alexandria, Virginia, are scheduled for May 4. Manafort is facing an 18-count indictment in Virginia, including charges of failing to report foreign bank accounts, filing false tax returns, and bank fraud.
https://www.buzzfeed.com/zoetillman/a-j ... ngdwpAdqX6
Manafort’s Russia connection: What you need to know about Oleg Deripaska
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wor ... 8c283ce804
Crime bosses vs Deripaska
13:25 / 21.04.2018
It is rumored that the notorious Tambov crime community was involved in the loss of Oleg Deripaska's company Photo: The CrimeRussia
One of the largest billionaires in Russia – Oleg Deripaska leaves the project on improving the notorious St. Petersburg’s Cherkizon – Apraksin Yard. For 10 years, the oligarch’s enterprises have failed to embark upon a moonshot reorganization of tangled labyrinths of merchants’ rows. At the same time the criminal groups celebrate a holiday today, they believe they have managed to save the center of the shadow business and black cash. Some say that the kingpins of Tambovskaya gang have something to do with the victory.
A bad place
We have already mentioned that the project of Oleg Deripaska was the fourth crusade of the St. Petersburg authorities against the market. Everyone was waiting for Aprashka (short for Apraksin Yard) to close down soon and the crime plague in the city center to finally heal over. As it is known, no improved shopping centers, drowning in flowers, and no air glass roof (promised) appeared here in 10 years. One of the versions says that the billionaire’s enterprises stumbled over several landmarks protected by the state. Their demolition was discussed as far back as 2007, when Governor Valentina Matvienko decided to upgrade the entire Aprashka at one go. It was then that the competition for reconstruction was won by Glavstroy, belonging to Oleg Deripaska. That was also when Head of Committee on State Control, Use and Protection of Historical and Cultural Landmarks (KGIOP), Vera Dementyeva stated that the project implied the demolition of several protected buildings, which was impossible.
The Apraksin Yard market aka Aprashka
Later, the fight against the oligarch was enjoyed by the owners of some buildings, who with the money of ethnic criminal bosses quite successfully defended their interests in courts. After all, while the behemoth of oligarchic cherished desires was unfolding, crime figures managed to become legal owners of some historical buildings, as it is said, through very intricate schemes.
The Arbitration Court granted the claim of the Property Relations Committee against Glavstroy-Spb LLC. Earlier, Smolny planned to collect 1.6 million rubles ($26 thousand) from the company as a fine, and to evict the company from 12 buildings in Apraksin Yard, preliminarily terminating the investment agreement the parties concluded on July 14, 2011. Glavstroy-Spb LLC has already filed an appeal, but the investor’s chances to successfully pass through the second instance are very low. Earlier the company intended to invest about 40 billion rubles ($651 million) in the reconstruction of Apraksin Yard. However, for ten years the company has not commenced to work.
The CrimeRussia was able to find out that on this occasion Aprashka even held there local holidays. The criminal structures that settled there deem that their direct merit is that the oligarch failed to do anything at this place. The Afghan diaspora had quite a considerable impact as well, sources say. At the very outset of Smolny's war for trading rows without brothels and drugs, Afghan expats stated that they would not go into crime, but if they are forced out, they "will show their fighting capacity." As there are former ministers, generals and colonels behind the counters, who in turn enjoy the support of the equally influential Afghan warriors. At one time they even agreed to a market allocated particularly for them. But judging by the fact that everything remained in its original place - in Aprashka, the options proposed were far and illiquid. Therefore, they will continue to trade and cut rams on Eid al-Adha here.
The Apraksin Yard market aka Aprashka
The East resists
Today Apraksin Yard is the most multi-ethnic representation of various Eastern peoples. A couple of years ago, Azerbaijanis took a lead here numbers-wise, then it was Armenians and Afghans. The Uzbeks, Chinese and Moldovans also lived, traded and died here. The Dagestanis and Georgians had quite small local groups. Today, this multi-voiced trade-and-smuggling choir was joined by crowds of the Tajiks and Kyrgyz. But they are used only for auxiliary works. The most respected veterans here are the above-mentioned Afghans.
The ethnic specifics of Aprashka were determined by wars. Refugees from Afghanistan, Transnistria and Karabakh, unable to do anything other than war and trade, began to trade here. By the beginning of the 90's, local carnages took place according to the schedule just like lunch. However the spirit of an eastern bazaar won, the shopping areas were bought out and even an underground syndicate of the heads of ethnic groups was organized. Today this is a strict logistics system. Essentially, Apraksin Yard is a united organism of delivery, storage of goods and quick passing of black cash. Twenty-five-ton wagons daily come here in columns from ports. Nobody dares to hijack these caravans. After all, the syndicate pays for everything jointly and has lived this way for 25 years already.
The annual turnover of Apraksin Yard is equal to the turnover of the busiest border checkpoint between China and Russia, Suifenhe, and is estimated at $4.5 billion. The volume of monthly trafficking here is 1 billion rubles ($16.2 million).
Given such money, the criminal bosses had something to oppose to the desire of the oligarch to build a shopping complex here and earn money himself on the advantageously situated market. As we have already mentioned, the crime here has gained such a firm foothold that the authorities come here only accompanied by Special Task Police Squad. In addition, for example, in 2006, when Apraksin Yard’s reconstruction project was just born, it was not included in the list of security zones and the streets here were not equipped with CCTV cameras and alarm buttons. That would be a pointless step and a waste of public money. Moreover, back then Apashka’s permanent police station was even closed. It is difficult to say now who lobbied such an unusual decision, but it is easy to guess. The criminal enclave of the city, replete with underground gambling houses, clothing manufacture, factories for counterfeit, drug dens and brothels - is a powerful structure that now can afford both hefty bribes and the most expensive lawyers.
Needless to say, since 2011 Smolny has not managed to evict tenants from here. The latter sued him desperately and numerously, and won. Now even the oligarch has lost the fight. Rumor has it that the notorious Tambovskaya crime community had something to do with this failure.
Before Glavstroy-Spb lost arbitration proceedings the city started to hear rumors about Tambovskaya’s desire to regain lost ground in the city, including control over Apraksin Yard. Since once this object was also included in the sphere of their interests. If we make a retrospective journey into history, it will transpire that in the late 80's - early 90's, commercial center Piter was the only company that received contracts for organizing the largest markets of the city - Apraksin Yard, Sennaya Square, Sennoy market. This company was controlled by Tambovskaya OCC. It was due to the redistribution of spheres of influence at these large objects of trade that the well-known fight occurred in Devyatkino between Malyshevskaya and Tambovskaya crime groups, which resulted in the Leningrad prosecutor's office opening criminal case No. 47759 under Art. 103 of the Criminal Code of the RSFSR (Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic). According to sources, Piter concern, now included in the list of owners of buildings located in Apraksin Yard, is related to the ‘respected’ businessmen.
One of Tambovskaya-Malyshevskaya OCC members Aleksandr Malyshev
The territory of Apraksin Yard is divided into quarters. There is Chinatown, as well as Georgian and Azerbaijani quarters – according to the name of the regions from which goods are brought. According to Rosreestr, almost the whole land on the market and under the buildings is owned by the city. In the cadastral map it is marked as a single site with address – Sadovaya St., 28-30, building 24, which covers the area of 5 hectares, with an estimated value of over 1 billion rubles ($16.2 million).
As already known, Tambovskaya OCC was not very successful with authoritative cases concerning real estate and money laundering abroad. By now many of them have returned to their native shores from Spain. This return was very timely, since sanctions now complicate the life of literally everyone. This means that finances are necessary to be invested somewhere, so that this generates revenue ‘again’. That is why, business circles are speaking about the fact that Tambovskaya gang undoubtedly ‘helped’ the enterprises of Deripaska to leave Apraksin Yard.
Word also has it that this is due to the possible release of Vladimir Barsukov-Kumarin. Although there is little prospect of this, some believe that there is such a chance. It is what is happening in the Kuybyshevskiy District Court that gives hope to the sympathetic. For a month and a half the trial in the case of Barsukov-Kumarin has not made any progress. The prosecution feels like a fish out of water - they have to look for the victims in the hope that someone will testify against the ‘respected’ businessman. But witnesses disappear, lose summons. At the last hearing, a representative of one affected company is said to have vanished into thin air. Right in the corridor. Thus, everything is leading to the point when the case falls apart. It is possible that it is thanks to this that Tambovskaya’s entrepreneurs will be able to regain potency in St. Petersburg, gaining a foothold in the once occupied positions. After all, the contender for the title of ‘governor 24’ (Dmitry Mikhalchenko) was arrested even more spectacularly. Hence, Vladimir Kumarin has every chance to regain all that he has previously lost. Including the title.
https://en.crimerussia.com/organizedcri ... deripaska/
Did Trump Link Arms Sales to Ukraine with Cutting Off Mueller?
FILE - In this July 17, 2016 file photo, Trump Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort talks to reporters on the floor of the Republican National Convention at Quicken Loans Arena, Sunday, in Cleveland. Republican Donald Trump announced a shakeup of his campaign leadership Wednesday, the latest sign of tumult in his bid for the White House as his poll numbers slip and only 82 days remain before the election. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
I agree with Jon Chait. This revelation from The New York Times is a big deal. The Times reports that soon after the administration okayed the sale of Javelin missiles to Ukraine, Ukrainian officials ended their cooperation with Special Counsel Robert Mueller and essentially suspended a series of domestic investigations which touch on Paul Manafort.
The precise nature of Ukraine’s cooperation to date is murky. In January a Ukrainian prosecutor sent Mueller’s office a formal offer of cooperation to which he apparently didn’t receive a reply. This was a couple months before the kibosh got put on all Manafort related matters. Likely more important than formal cooperation is halting all their own investigations. What’s striking is that members of the Ukraine government are quite open about their motivations. A Ukrainian parliamentarian who is an ally of the President Poroshenko told the Times: “In every possible way, we will avoid irritating the top American officials. We shouldn’t spoil relations with the administration.” Another member of Parliament told the Times, “Everybody is afraid of this case.”
No one in the article says the administration demanded or suggested an explicit quid pro quo. But I’m not sure one was necessary. The Ukraine government could see as easily as anyone else can that anyone seen to be assisting Robert Mueller becomes President Trump’s enemy. And they are in desperate need of his being a friend. Weapons sales are critical. But they need the U.S. to at least keep some counter-pressure on Russia against the proxy war it is fighting in the eastern part of the country.
We are usually in the habit – for good reason – of not assuming things we don’t know (an explicit quid pro quo). That is especially the case when the facts on offer don’t require it. As I said, if you were the Ukraine government, stuck with a deep dependence on President Trump, would you be cooperating with Mueller? This is yet another example where Trump’s consistent attacks on the rule of law in the U.S. yield tangible benefits on numerous fronts. At a minimum, these threats have communicated to the Ukraine government that they should not provide any assistance to Mueller’s probe if they want any support from the President of the United States. Chait’s point is that everything we’ve learned about Trump and his associates militates against a cautious assumption: much more likely that the President or those working on his behalf did tell Ukraine to shut down their Manafort probes. He always exceeds our good faith assumptions about the scope of his dishonesty and corruption.
Is this true about the Ukraine decision specifically? I have no idea. Likely? Probably so. If not, he told them all they needed to know on Twitter.
https://talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/di ... ff-mueller
Is it unethical for a lawyer to provide subpoenas to 3X the people they expect to call to prevent Manafort's mob buddies from knowing which witnesses to tamper with?
Mueller Seeks 70 Blank Subpoenas in Manafort Case
May 3, 2018 BRANDI BUCHMAN
(CN) – Special Counsel Robert Mueller on Thursday filed a request for 70 blank subpoenas in the Virginia court presiding over one of two criminal proceedings involving former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.
The two-page filing doesn’t offer much in the way of details, but each subpoena orders the recipient to appear at the federal courthouse in Alexandria on July 10 at 10 a.m. to testify at Manafort’s trial on charges stemming from Mueller’s investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
Although Manafort faces no charges related to the Trump campaign, he is accused in cases filed both in Alexandria, Virginia and Washington, D.C. of hiding the work he did for and the money he made from a Russia-friendly political party in Ukraine and former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych.
In Virginia, he is also accused of concealing foreign bank accounts, falsifying his income taxes and failing to report foreign bank accounts.
In Washington, Manafort faces counts of conspiracy to launder more than $30 million, making false statements, failing to follow lobbying disclosure laws and working as an unregistered foreign agent.
The request comes one day before Manafort is expected to appear in a Virginia federal court where his attorney, Kevin Downing, will make a case for dropping of several counts against his client.
In a filing Monday night, Downing requested a hearing to air his concerns that Manafort’s chances at a fair trial have been spoiled thanks to media reports featuring leaks from anonymous government officials.
This story is developing …
https://www.courthousenews.com/mueller- ... fort-case/
FRI, MAY 4TH, 2018 BY LEO VIDAL
Mueller Tightens the Noose Around Roger Stone and Paul Manafort
Lost in the Rudy Giuliani media storm is the fact that yesterday was a very bad news day for Trump’s friends and bad boys Roger Stone and Paul Manafort.
On Thursday, Special Counsel Mueller requested 70 blank subpoenas for appearances in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia (EDVA) in the case against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.
Also on Thursday it was reported by CNBC that Mueller “is focusing intensely on alleged interactions between former top Trump campaign official Rick Gates and political operative Roger Stone, one of President Donald Trump’s closest confidants.”
These stories are connected in that Rick Gates was Manafort’s right-hand man for years, and stayed on as a top adviser to the Trump campaign after Manafort was fired for keeping secret his close ties to the Putin-backed government of Ukraine.
In Virginia Manafort is facing many criminal charges including concealing foreign bank accounts, income tax fraud, money laundering and failure to report foreign bank accounts. The people subpoenaed would have to appear in the Virginia court at 10 a.m. on July 10, 2018.
Under Title IV, Rule 17 of Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, the clerk of court “must issue a blank subpoena—signed and sealed—to the party requesting it,” in this case Mueller, “and that party must fill in the blanks before the subpoena is served.”
Blank subpoenas are used for witnesses who the prosecutor wants to show up, but he will fill in the names later since he doesn’t want the witnesses’ names revealed at this time. Which means that when Manafort goes to trial he is going to have to face an onslaught of hostile witnesses who have been prepped by the special counsel’s team to provide incriminating evidence. Definitely bad news for Manafort.
Concerning Stone, he has been doing shady deals with Trump for decades, and so far he has been hiding in the shadows of the Mueller probe. However, his time in the limelight may have arrived.
According to CNBC, “Stone, a longtime adviser to Trump, is apparently one of the top subjects of the Mueller investigation into potential collusion between the Kremlin and the Trump campaign, sources told CNBC on condition of anonymity.”
Allegedley Stone and Gates had many meetings, including lengthy dinners, and Mueller wants to know what they talked about. These meetings took place before, during and after Trump’s campaign for the presidency.
It has been rumored — and there is evidence to support this — that Stone was the informal liaison between the Trump campaign and Wikileaks, and Stone talked about the release of the hacked Clinton/DNC emails before this information was made public. But this new information indicates that Mueller is looking at Stone for additional involvement in possible conspiracies to influence the 2016 presidential election.
Gates of course is fully cooperating with the Mueller investigation and in February pleaded guilty to two criminal charges. It’s always been known that Gates could be providing Mueller with a lot of evidence about Manafort’s alleged crimes. What’s new is that Gates may also be talking to Mueller and his team about Stone’s involvement in similar crimes, or at least in the coordination (collusion) between the Trump campaign and Russia.
Gates and Stone first worked together decades ago at a lobbying firm in Washington which was founded by Stone along with Manafort. One of these three musketeers has already admitted crimes and is providing evidence to the Mueller probe. It appears to be just a matter of time before the other two are either found guilty in court or decide to start cooperating with the Mueller probe.
https://www.politicususa.com/2018/05/04 ... um=twitter
Why A Powerful Russian Oligarch Was Furious With Paul Manafort
By Seth Hettena | May 7, 2018 10:42 am
Editor’s note: The following article is an excerpt from investigative journalist Seth Hettena’s new book, “Trump / Russia: A Definitive History.” This chapter delves deep into Paul Manafort’s work for Viktor Yanukovych, the Putin-aligned former President of Ukraine, and his other business dealings in the region. Hettena’s book is out tomorrow, May 8, 2018, from Melville House.
Although he was earning millions for his political consulting work in Ukraine, Paul Manafort began using his connections to make even more money. He met Dmitry Firtash, a wealthy Ukrainian businessman involved in the natural gas trade who had friends in top posts in Yanukovych’s administration, and pitched him on his grand vision for Bulgari Tower, a $1.5 billion skyscraper project in midtown Manhattan on the corner of Park Avenue and Fifty-Sixth Street. It was said to be one of the most valuable development sites in North America.
The Ukrainian natural gas tycoon had millions to invest because Gazprom, the natural gas giant controlled by the Kremlin, had given his unpronounceable company, RosUkrEnergo, a monopoly on all gas trades between Russia and Ukraine. This incredibly lucrative deal was widely viewed as a partnership with organized crime. Firtash was believed to be a front man for Semion Mogilevich. In court papers in Chicago, where Firtash was indicted in a separate international racketeering conspiracy, prosecutors described him as an “upper-echelon” associate of Russian organized crime. In 2008 Firtash agreed to commit $112 million to Manafort’s Bulgari Tower project and wired in a $25 million deposit. The deposit came from Raiffeisen Zentralbank, the Austrian bank that U.S. officials believed served as a Mogilevich front. The tower deal later collapsed.
While he was lining up investments from Firtash, Manafort proposed to Oleg Deripaska that they go into business together. The resulting company was Pericles Emerging Market Partners LP, a private equity fund in the Cayman Islands. Manafort described it to Deripaska as a vehicle to pursue investments that “leverage [our] business and political relationships” in Ukraine. Pericles sought to achieve an impressive compound annual return rate of 30 percent by investing in Ukraine, as well as other areas of interest to Deripaska — Russia, the former Soviet republics, Montenegro, and eastern and southern Europe. The offering memorandum touted Davis and Manafort’s experience with political campaigns “at the highest level.” The Russian oligarch gave Manafort a tentative commitment to invest $200 million in the fund.
Manafort tasked the management of Pericles to Rick Gates, who visited Deripaska’s representatives in Moscow and provided a “fund plan” that described various investment opportunities. Of the many ideas Gates pitched, Deripaska’s team felt only one had merit: the acquisition of Chorne More (“Black Sea”), a Ukrainian telecommunications firm.
In April of 2008, Deripaska paid nearly $19 million to fund the acquisition of Chorne More, then paid Manafort an additional $7.35 million in fees. Years later, Deripaska learned that the purchase price of Chorne More was $1.1 million less than Manafort and Gates had led him to believe. Gates and Manafort had simply pocketed the difference, laundering it through accounts in Cyprus that the two men used as “their personal piggy banks,” the oligarch said in a lawsuit.
What Gates and Manafort also withheld was the fact that Chorne More wasn’t worth nearly what Deripaska paid for it. Chorne More was valued at only $4.5 million and took in only $1.5 million in revenue. To top it off, the company was run not in a proper office, but in “a dingy, Soviet-style apartment building about six miles (10 kilometers) from the city center.”
Around the time of the Chorne More purchase in early 2008, Forbes ranked Deripaska as the ninth-wealthiest man on the planet, with a net worth estimated at $28 billion. The telecommunications company investment was a trifling fraction of his wealth, and it would hardly ruin him if the venture sank. With the advent of the global financial crisis in the fall of 2008, however, Deripaska’s businesses were hit particularly hard. Much of his wealth was wiped out and the struggling tycoon went hat in hand to the Kremlin for a $4.5 billion bailout. Putin put Deripaska in his place the following year in Pikalevo, a town that was struggling following the closure of one of Deripaska’s aluminum refineries. In a televised broadcast, Putin compared factory owners who didn’t pay workers’ wages to cockroaches, and then forced Deripaska to sign a document restarting the plant. As the oligarch walked away, Putin snapped, “Give me back my pen.”
A humbled Deripaska went looking for pennies wherever he could find them, and he instructed Manafort and Gates to liquidate Pericles and sell off Chorne More. Manafort and Gates agreed, but for the next two years, Pericles neither shuttered its doors nor sold off Chorne More. In fact, investigators later discovered that Chorne More was not owned by Pericles, but by a mysterious British company. The last Deripaska heard from Manafort was in June 2011. After that, Manafort and Gates stopped responding to Deripaska’s team. “It appears that Paul Manafort and Rick Gates have simply disappeared,” Deripaska’s lawyers wrote in a Cayman Islands petition.
Manafort hadn’t disappeared; he remained in Kiev with Yanukovych, who was still cutting his checks. As Deripaska worked to keep his empire intact, Manafort worked his sorcery on Yanukovych’s presidential campaign in Ukraine’s 2010 election. Once again it became a battle of Western and Eastern ideologies, with no clear favorite among the candidates. The administration of President Yushchenko, the man who had defeated Yanukovych in the days of the Orange Revolution, was widely seen as chaotic, with infighting taking precedence over policymaking. Yanukovych had been dismissed as prime minister after a year. His replacement was the co-leader of the Orange Revolution, Yulia Tymoshenko, a steely, blond-bunned politician dubbed “the gas princess” for the enormous fortune she amassed in the 1990s with sweetheart deals in the natural gas business.
In the first round of voting in the 2010 Ukrainian presidential election, Prime Minister Tymoshenko and Manafort’s man Viktor Yanukovych emerged as the front-runners. To prep for the second round, Tymoshenko hired AKPD, a consulting firm run by David Axelrod, Obama’s former chief strategist, to help bolster her campaign. But AKPD couldn’t navigate the complex world of Ukrainian politics like Manafort, and after the dust settled from the second round, his years of steering Yanukovych toward his goal paid off. On February 7, 2010, Yanukovych emerged as the winner and was declared Ukraine’s fourth president. Manafort was exalted in the Ukrainian press as a “mythical figure.”
Almost as soon as he was sworn in, Yanukovych embarked on a platform to rebuild Ukraine’s political alliance with Russia and counter his predecessor’s pro-Western initiatives. He bluntly quashed the long-running NATO membership debate among Ukrainian politicians. And while he publicly called for a free and democratic Ukraine, reports of press censorship proliferated, and his political opponents, including the defeated Tymoshenko, landed in jail on trumped-up charges.
Tymoshenko’s imprisonment triggered a fierce international outcry, among them a call to boycott Ukraine’s bid to host the 2012 European soccer championship. Yanukovych stressed that Tymoshenko “broke the rules” and wagged his finger at her champions. “I am disappointed by the premature conclusions of some European politicians who do not understand the depth of these issues and rush to make political pronouncements. This practice pushes me away from Europe. It pushes me away.”
The one Westerner he didn’t alienate was Paul Manafort, who continued working behind the scenes for President Yanukovych. Manafort had “walk-in” privileges that allowed him to enter the president’s office unannounced. Yanukovych placed such faith in his American advisor that his staff started using Manafort to deliver messages they really wanted the president to hear. “Paul has a whole separate shadow government structure,” Rick Gates, his right-hand man, told a group of Washington lobbyists. “In every ministry, he has a guy.”
Manafort arranged political cover in the United States for President Yanukovych. He hired two firms in Washington — Mercury Public Affairs and the Podesta Group — to lobby members of Congress on behalf of Ukraine and President Yanukovych’s interests, paying both firms $1.1 million each. When Tymoshenko was put on trial, Manafort directed his Washington lobbyists to assure Congress that it was all perfectly legal and appropriate. Manafort secretly paid $4 million to the prominent New York law firm of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom for a supposedly independent report on Tymoshenko’s trial. The report found no political motivation in Tymoshenko’s prosecution. Skadden Arps’ work was led by Gregory B. Craig, a former White House counsel under President Obama. Later, a Skadden Arps attorney named Alex van der Zwaan would plead guilty to lying to prosecutors about a conversation he had with Rick Gates over the Tymoshenko report. He also admitted to deleting records of email exchanges sought by prosecutors.
Manafort was making good money with Yanukovych, very good money. The only problem was that it was dirty. It was hard to miss how deep Yanukovych’s corruption and cronyism went. Much of the funding allocated for Ukraine’s economic development went to Donbas, Yanukovych’s home region, and a majority of key governmental and economic posts were given to friends of his from that region, many of whom were clearly unqualified for their positions. That was icing on the cake compared to the staggering $70 billion taken from the Ukrainian treasury and secreted away in foreign accounts, including those of Yanukovych’s son Oleksandr, who during his father’s presidency became one of the wealthiest people in the country. The cherry on top was the presidential palace Yanukovych had built — a giant monument to corruption, complete with a private zoo and a faux galleon moored on a private lake.
Manafort had been stashing away his paychecks from Ukraine in banks registered to shell companies in Cyprus, the tiny European nation that has long served as an offshore financial center for Russian oligarchs. Manafort used his Cyprus accounts to pay for $5.4 million worth of home improvements at his house in the Hamptons, an exclusive community at the tip of New York’s Long Island. Another $1.3 million from Cyprus went to a “home automation, lighting and home entertainment company” in Florida, where Manafort had another home. Money from Cyprus also bought a $3 million brownstone in Brooklyn, a $2.85 million condo in SoHo that he rented on Airbnb, and a property in Arlington, Virginia. Special Counsel Robert Mueller would later follow this money trail to return an indictment charging Manafort in a conspiracy to launder money and evade taxes.
The beginning of the end of Manafort’s sojourn in Ukraine came in the winter of 2013, when Yanukovych broke with his American advisor and rejected a major trade deal with the European Union, opting instead for closer ties with Russia. For the second time in his career, a major protest broke out, this time in Kiev’s Euromaidan Square. Protestors amassed to demand his impeachment for plundering the country’s wealth and turning Ukraine into a police state. Tension mounted as the demonstrations, which began peacefully, went on for months. Violence broke out on February 18, 2014, in clashes between protesters and police that lasted several days. At least 82 people were killed over the next few days, including 13 policemen; more than 1,100 people were injured. In the pandemonium, President Yanukovych boarded a helicopter and, with help from Vladimir Putin, fled to Russia where he remained.
Now effectively unemployed, Manafort and Gates shuttered their Ukraine operation. Manafort faded from the scene as he dealt with his mounting personal problems back home, but his wealth and his Ukrainian connections became something of an inside joke back in Washington. Roger Stone, Manafort’s old friend and business partner, sent out an email in 2014 to a group of friends asking “Where is Paul Manafort?” The choices were:
“Was seen chauffeuring Yanukovych around Moscow.”
“Was seen loading gold bullion on an Army transport plane from a remote airstrip outside Kiev and taking off seconds
before a mob arrived at the site.”
“Is playing golf in Palm Beach.”
https://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/why- ... l-manafort
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