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How to Become a Bounty Hunter

Archive for March 8th, 2018

Protester Hurls Russian Flag at Manafort After He Pleads Not Guilty in Special Counsel Case

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

By Steve Neavling

A protester threw a Russian flag at former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort on Thursday as he was leaving a courthouse after pleading not guilty to tax and fraud charges in the second case brought against him by the special counsel investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

The protester, standing outside of a federal court building in Alexandria, Va., held a sign that read “blood money” and shouted “Traitor!” as Manafort left the courthouse, NBC News reports

U.S. District Court Judge T.S. Ellis III placed Manafort on home confinement and required him to wear a GPS bracelet pending his trial date of July 10.

In a related case, Manafort last week pleaded not guilty and is set for a Sept. 17 trial.

Because of his age, Manafort faces the prospect of spending the rest of his life in prison on numerous charges related to his business dealing in eastern Europe.

Unless Manafort strikes a deal with prosecutors, the former high-paid political consultant is on track to become the first person to be tried in connection with Robert Mueller’s investigation

Manafort’s longtime business partner, Rick Gates, is among three former Trump aides who have pleaded guilty to assortment of charges and have agreed to cooperate with Mueller’s team of prosecutors. Gates, who also served on Trump’s campaign, is expected to provide information about crimes he said he and Manafort committed as business partners.

Gates and Manafort were both charged with multiple counts of conspiracy, tax fraud and money laundering stemming from lobbying and consulting work related to Ukrainian politicians who are strong allies of Russia.

Two weeks ago, the men’s Russian-connected attorney Alex Van der Zwaan was charged with misleading the FBI about work he did for Manafort and Gates. 

Last month, 13 Russians were charged in a sweeping indictment alleging they waged a propaganda campaign to help Trump get elected. 

The other former Trump associates who have pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors are Trump’s former national security adviser Mike Flynn and ex-campaign adviser George Papadopoulos.

In May 2017, Mueller was appointed to investigate Russia’s alleged interference in the 2016 presidential election. So far, more than 100 charges have been filed against a 19 people and three companies.

AG Sessions’ Fiery Attack on California’s Immigration Laws Sets Off War of Words

Attorney General Jeff Sessions

By Steve Neavling

Attorney General Jeff Sessions set off an unusually heated battle between California and the Trump administration after filing suit against the state over laws that impede the enforcement of federal immigration laws.

During a contentious, sometimes misleading speech in California’s capital, Sacramento, on Wednesday, Sessions accused California lawmakers of recklessly putting its residents at risk by obstructing federal immigration laws, the New York Times reports

California Gov. Jerry Brown responded by saying the Trump administration was “full of liars” and that Sessions was “basically going to war against the state of California.”

Brown added that Sessions was engaging “in a political stunt” with “wild accusations” meant to sow discord over immigration.

During Sessions’ speech, he said the lawsuit is designed to overturn laws designed to obstruct federal immigration agents from operating there. called out Sessions for making a number of misleading comments. 

Records Reveal Geek Squads’ Relationship with FBI Is Deeper Than Previously Reported

Best Buy, via Wikipedia

By Steve Neavling

The FBI has paid Best Buy’s Geek Squad employees to act as informants for a decade, much longer than previously reported.

Records obtained through a Freedom of Information Act by the Electronic Frontier Foundation reveal that the FBI has been working with Geek Squad employees since at least 2008. 

The FBI declined to say whether it has similar relationship with other electronics repair companies.

The records raise serious questions about whether the relationship between the bureau and Geek Squad employees violate the Fourth Amendment against unreasonable searches and seizures.

At issue is whether the FBI’s payments to the employees for turning over child pornography prompted Geek Squad workers to search computers beyond what was required to make repairs.

The bureau paid at least “eight FBI informants at Geek Squad City” between $500 and $1,000 each for helping disclose child pornography.

Obstruction Case Against Trump Strengthens After He Asked Witnesses about Interviews

Donald Trump, via Wikipedia

By Steve Neavling

President Trump questioned two key witnesses in the special counsel probe about discussions they had with investigators, ignoring his attorneys’ advice to avoid conversations that could be considered obstruction of justice.

The New York Times reports that special counsel Robert Mueller is aware of the conversations as his team investigates growing evidence that Trump interfered in the  Russia probe.

One of those conversations was with White House counsel Don McGhan, whom Trump reportedly urged to issue a statement denying the president had asked him to  order Mueller’s dismissal. But McGhan pressed back and reminded Trump that he had asked him to order Mueller’s termination.

In another conversation, Trump grilled his former chief of staff, Reince Priebus, about his interview with Mueller’s team.

Those conversations were revealed to Mueller in interviews with witnesses who considered the interactions as troublesome.

The interactions are likely to be used as further evidence that the president obstructed justice – an allegation first leveled against Trump after he fired then-FBI Director James Comey.

Mueller Probes Growing Evidence of Back-Channel Between Trump, Russia

Special Counsel Robert Mueller, via FBI

By Steve Neavling

Special counsel Robert Mueller is honing in on a secret meeting between a Trump associate and a Russian official shortly before the president’s inauguration in what increasingly looks like an effort to create a back-channel between the Kremlin and the incoming White House administration, according to a new report.

The meeting on a small island off the eastern coast of Africa was between Erik Prince, the founder of the private military contractor Blackwater USA, and an official with close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, the Washington Post reports.

The information came from a witness who told Mueller’s team that the meeting was intended to establish future relations between Washington and Moscow.

In testimony before Congress, Prince, who’s the younger brother of Trump’s Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, denied attending the meeting as a representative of the Trump administration, insisting the meet-up was part of his role as a businessman.

George Nader, a Lebanese American businessman, helped organize the meeting and shared that information during testimony before a grand jury gathering evidence as part of Mueller’s probe of Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Trump continues to deny ties to the Kremlin, suggesting that allegations of collisions are a “hoax” and “witch hunt” perpetuated by Democrats and others who want to bring the president down.