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The federal judge presiding over Paul Manafort’s case in Washington, D.C. dealt him another legal setback Friday by declining to throw out charges brought against him that Manafort alleged were “multiplicitous.”

U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson had previously dismissed two seperate legal challenges brought by Manafort alleging that special counsel Robert Mueller was acting outside of his authority.

Manafort has been charged with money laundering, false statements and failure to disclose foreign lobbying — stemming from work he did in Ukraine predating his time on Trump’s campaign. He has pleaded not guilty to those charges, as well as to the other charges Mueller brought against him in Virginia.

The issue Jackson decided on Friday was whether two of the counts in the D.C. indictment — both having to do with what Manafort told the government about his Ukraine lobbying — were duplicative, since they both dealt with the same set of statements Manafort made to the Department of Justice.

“But the test for multiplicity is not whether two counts are based on the same set of facts; rather, it is whether the statutory elements of the two offenses are the same,” Jackson wrote.

She denied Manafort’s request but noted that he can raise the issue again after the trial.

Read her opinion below:

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A Senate Judiciary Democrat is alleging that Donald Trump Jr. gave false testimony in a September 2017 interview with the committee, in which the President’s son denied that foreign governments or foreign nationals sought to assist President Trump’s 2016 campaign.

Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE), in a Thursday letter to Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA), pointed to a recent report that Trump Jr. met at Trump Tower in August 2016 with an Israeli social media specialist and an emissary for princes in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The Israeli, Joel Zamel, touted his firm’s ability to manipulate social media to boost Trump’s campaign, while the emissary, George Nader, told Trump Jr. that the princes he represented would also like to help his father’s election, the New York Times reported. Trump Jr.’s attorney Alan Futerfas confirmed the meeting happened but claimed that his client was not interested in the attendees’ pitches.

Coons is asking for Grassley to bring Trump Jr. back in front of the committee for public testimony. His letter included a transcript from Trump Jr.’s committee interview, when he was asked about foreign countries other than Russia.

Coons’ letter also cited the referral Grassley sent the Justice Department calling for it to investigate alleged false statements Republicans accused Christopher Steele — the ex-British spy who assembled the Trump-Russia dossier — of making to the FBI.

A committee spokesman for Grassley did not immediately respond to TPM’s inquiry, nor did Trump Jr.’s lawyer.

Read the full letter below:

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The White House attorney responsible for handling its response to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe was spotted heading into two Justice Department briefings Thursday for lawmakers on a reported “informant” the FBI used in its investigation of the Trump campaign.

Emmet Flood was spotted at the Justice Department, where Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and other DOJ officials were scheduled to brief House Speaker Paul Ryan, House Intel Chairman Devin Nunes and House Oversight Chairman Trey Gowdy. Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the Intel Committee, also attended the noon briefing, after initial reports that only Republican lawmakers were invited. White House Chief of Staff John Kelly also reportedly attended at least part of the briefing.

 

FBI Director Christopher Wray and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats also joined Rosenstein at the briefings. After the noon meeting, they headed to the Capitol to brief the so-called “Gang of 8”: The House and Senate Intel Committees’ chairs and vice chairs, the House Speaker and Minority Leader, and the Senate Majority and Minority Leaders. (Ryan attended the noon briefing due to a prior commitment.) Gowdy was also slated to attend that meeting.

Flood, too, was spotted heading into the briefing, being held in the basement of the Capitol, as was Kelly.

Kelly did not explain Flood’s presence at the briefings when asked by CNN reporters at the Capitol.

The White House Press Secretary had previously said that White House officials would not be attending the briefings.

The White House in a statement said that Flood and Kelly only made brief remarks at the top of the meetings to “relay the President’s desire for as much openness as possible under the law,” as well as to convey “the President’s understanding of the need to protect human intelligence services and the importance of communication between the branches of government.”

“After making their brief comments they departed before the meetings officially started,” the statement said.

Update: This story has been updated with a statement from the White House.

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After speculation that he may have to represent himself in a federal court case over the 2017 Charlottesville white nationalist rally, Richard Spencer has managed to find himself a lawyer.

On May 23, just one day before Thursday’s scheduled hearing, Virginia attorney John DiNucci filed court documents announcing that he would represent Spencer in court.

Spencer told TPM in a text that the delay was intended to “keep you all on the edges of your seats.”

But the white nationalist leader had struggled to raise the $25,000 he claimed he needed for his defense, repeatedly getting booted off of crowdfunding platforms like Funded Justice. As of Thursday morning, Spencer’s legal defense page on Freestartr, a platform founded by right-wing troll Chuck Johnson, had pulled in $20,095.

Donors who gave $100 were promised a “hand-written thank you note from Richard,” while those who gave $1,000 would get a phone or Skype call. Deeper-pocketed donors were invited to shell out $50,000 for a “serious legal defense fund” to tackle future lawsuits.

Spencer told TPM he had “exceeded” his goal “with bitcoin and such.”

Spencer and others involved with the deadly August 2017 white nationalist rally were sued by the city of Charlottesville last October for conspiring to wage violence and engage in “unlawful paramilitary activity.” A number of counter-protesters were injured at the rally, and 32-year-old Heather Heyer was killed.

Several of the defendants named in the suit, including the neo-Confederate League of the South and neo-Nazi National Socialist Movement, have already entered into settlements agreeing not to hold armed rallies in the city.

Spencer said his lawyer will argue that he never committed violence or encouraged supporters to do so.

That was the same argument he made in complaints filed against the universities that tried to keep him from coming to their campuses as part of his since-abandoned college speaking tour.

Violent brawls broke out at his final event at Michigan State University this spring, and a white nationalist fired gunshots at counter-protesters following Spencer’s talk at the University of Florida last fall.

TPM was not immediately able to reach DiNucci, whose website appears to be defunct. No one answered the phone at the number listed for DiNucci’s one-man law office, and he did not immediately respond to an email.

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Special Counsel Robert Mueller stressed that his investigation into Russian election meddling was ongoing and consisted of “multiple lines of non-public inquiry,” in a court filing Wednesday evening in a lawsuit brought by media companies seeking the release of certain records related to the probe.

“Many aspects of the investigation are factually and legally interconnected: they involve overlapping courses of conduct, relationships, and events, and they rely on similar sources, methods, and techniques,” the special counsel said. “The investigation is not complete and its details remain non-public.”

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A federal judge in Washington, D.C. grappled Wednesday with whether key evidence obtained by the FBI against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort should be admitted at his trial.

Judge Amy Berman Jackson spent the bulk of the hearing discussing the FBI search of Manafort’s storage unit. The main issue is whether an employee of Manafort’s had the authority to allow an FBI agent to enter the unit before a search warrant was obtained. Manafort’s lawyers argue that the employee did not have the authority to grant a third party access to the unit. Jackson also asked both legal teams about the search of Manafort’s residence, for which Manafort’s lawyers argue the warrant was overly broad.

Manafort wants evidence from both seizures to be suppressed, which would deal a serious blow to special counsel Robert Mueller’s case.

As previous filings revealed, an employee for Manafort allowed an FBI agent entry to a storage unit where the agent saw filing cabinets and boxes, as well as some of the labels on the boxes. The employee’s name was on the lease for the unit, and the employee told the agent that he placed items inside the unit for Manafort.

The FBI agent then sought and obtained a search warrant and seized the records in storage unit. Though Jackson had ordered the FBI agent who conducted the search to be present at the hearing, Manafort’s lawyers decided it would not be necessary to question the agent.

The lawyer arguing for Manafort for this portion of the hearing, Thomas Zehnle, argued that the employee did not have the authority to grant the agent access to the unit because he only brought filings to the unit at Manafort’s “direction.” Zehnle said that the agent did not ask the employee enough questions to determine whether he had the authority to allow a third party entry to the unit. At one point, Zehnle compared the situation to his recent decision to hire a pet sitter. He said that just because the pet sitter had a key to his home temporarily did not mean that the individual had any authority to do whatever he or she pleased in the home.

Jackson spent a lot of the hearing quizzing Zehnle on the case law that backed up his argument that the employee did not have the authority to give the agent access to the unit, at one point telling Zehnle she was “shocked” by how few cases had been cited to back up his arguments on mutual use.

The special counsel’s office argued that because the employee had a key, was listed on the lease and conducted business for Manafort in the unit, he had the authority to grant the FBI agent access.

As for the residence search, the lawyer arguing for Manafort in that portion of the hearing, Richard Westling, said that the warrant obtained by the government was overly broad given that it lacked specifics on which files agents were seeking from Manafort’s home. Westling complained that the government could search “every piece of paper in the place” and argued that the government should have returned any documents copied from Manafort’s devices to Manafort.

“You couldn’t construct a warrant any broader than this,” Westling said.

Meisler, the lawyer arguing for the government, argued that the warrant was not overly broad, citing specific possible offenses that the government listed in the search warrant. He also noted that some devices were returned to Manafort and that copies taken from devices need to be kept in their entirety to maintain authenticity.

In the Washington, D.C. case, Manafort faces charges of money laundering, tax evasion, and failure to disclose foreign lobbying, stemming from his lobbying work in Ukraine. He faces additional charges in Virginia stemming from that same lobbying work. Manafort has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

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Sources in Ukraine told the BBC that Michael Cohen received a hefty secret payment to set up talks between the Ukrainian president and President Trump last year. Cohen denies it.

According to the BBC’s Wednesday report, intermediaries for Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko arranged the payment to Cohen for his help in establishing a back channel to Trump. One source told the BBC Cohen received $400,000; another put the total at $600,00.

The BBC report cited “sources in Kiev close to those involved,” including a “high-ranking Ukrainian intelligence officer.”

The Ukrainians were ultimately dissatisfied with the brief sit-down between the two leaders held at the White House last June, saying Cohen had accepted “hundreds of thousands” of dollars but failed to deliver a substantial meeting, according to the BBC.

Cohen denied to the BBC that he received the payment. The story notes that there is “no suggestion” Trump was aware of any payment.

The BBC’s report has not yet been confirmed by other outlets.

Shortly after it was published, Poroshenko’s office issued a blistering statement calling the story “slander” and demanding its retraction.

“We believe that the blatant disinformation that has been disseminated is a part of a fake campaign aimed at discrediting Ukraine-US relations, as well as a personal attack against the Presidents of Ukraine and the US,” the statement read.

No specific error was mentioned, and the BBC has made no correction to the piece.

If Cohen did accept funds from representatives for the Ukrainian leader, it would be just the latest example of the president’s former personal attorney raking in huge sums in exchange for his purported access to the White House.

It would also represent another link between Cohen and Ukraine. Cohen has business ties to Ukrainian immigrants in the casino boat, taxi and ethanol industries. Last year, he served as the conduit for a Ukrainian politician’s “peace plan” intended to end regional conflict there that involved lifting U.S. sanctions against Russia.

Though Cohen denied the New York Times’ report that he personally delivered the plan to then-National Security Advisor Michael Flynn last February, his story on what ultimately happened with the plan changed multiple times.

Felix Sater, a former business associate of both Cohen and Trump who was also involved with the peace effort, and Andrii Artemenko, the Ukrainian politician behind it, have both reportedly been interviewed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

This post has been updated.

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Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team suggested Wednesday that there were other yet-to-be-revealed public relations firms involved in Paul Manafort’s Ukraine lobbying scheme beyond those already referenced specifically in the indictment.

The hint came in a hearing in front of a federal judge in Washington D.C. concerning Manafort’s request for what’s known as a bill of particulars. Manafort is asking the judge to require the prosecutors to give him more details about the charges being brought against him.

Manafort’s attorneys pointed specifically to a line in the indictment referring to alleged unregistered foreign lobbying work done by Company A, Company B, Company C “and others.”

Company A and Company B are Mercury Public Affairs and the Podesta Group respectively, it’s been reported. Company C refers to a PR firm allegedly hired by Manafort to promote a report assembled by the law firm Skadden Arps justifying the imprisonment of the political rival of Manafort’s Ukrainian client.

The prosecutors have confirmed for Manafort’s attorneys those companies’ identities.

Greg Andres, of Mueller’s team, initially told Judge Amy Berman Jackson that the “others” referred to the principals at Company A and B, who he said were working on the Ukraine lobbying campaigns. But towards the end of the hearing, Andres got up to clarify that the “and others” also refers to other PR firms. He said the Manafort’s attorneys had been put on notice that there were other PR firms.

Earlier in the hearing, Andres argued that the prosecutors weren’t legally required to disclose the information that Manafort was seeking at this point in the proceedings. He also said that doing so would prematurely give Manafort a list of the witnesses the government planned to call at trial, though Andres admitted that that was less of a concern for him.

The particular portion of the indictment in question related to the charge that Manafort violated that Foreign Agents Registration Act, which requires that any lobbying done in the U.S. on behalf of a foreign agent be registered with the Justice Department. He also faces charges of money laundering and false statements related to his Ukraine lobbying work, which predated the several months he served as chairman of President Trump’s 2016 campaign. He has pleaded not guilty to those charges, as well as to those brought by Mueller in a separate case in Virginia.

In the lead-up to a grand jury handing down the indictment against Manafort and his business deputy Rick Gates last October, it was reported that the Podesta Group and Mercury has been subpoenaed by Mueller. The Podesta Group has since been shuttered, though it’s unclear whether Mueller plans to bring any charges against the firm, which was led by Democratic lobbyist Tony Podesta, brother of Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta.

Both groups were hired to lobby on Capitol Hill on behalf of an organization called European Centre for a Modern Ukraine, which Mueller alleges was a front for Ukraine’s pro-Russia Party of Regions.

Corrected: A previous version of this story misattributed a comment made by Mueller prosecutor Greg Andres to Scott Meisler, another member of Mueller’s team. Andres made the remark that “and others” referred to principals at Company A and Company B.

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Michael Cohen on Wednesday tried to distance himself from Gene Freidman, his former associate in the taxi business who is now cooperating with government prosecutors.

In a tweet, Cohen said that he and Freidman, known as the “Taxi King” of New York, “are not partners and have never been partners in this business or any other.”

Freidman was described as Cohen’s “significant business partner” in a New York Times article Tuesday that broke the news that Freidman was cooperating with state and federal investigators in order to avoid the prospect of decades in jail for various tax fraud charges.

Freidman has for years managed a number of taxi medallions for Cohen in New York City and Chicago, and the pair have been friends since the 1990s.

Freidman told TPM last year that they regularly dined together. In comments to the Times Tuesday, he called Cohen a “dear dear personal friend and a passive client! That’s it!” The Real Deal reported last year that Cohen helped name Freidman’s oldest son.

Freidman also denied that his own legal situation had anything to do with the New York state criminal investigation into Cohen’s business dealings, saying he hates “that I have been grouped in this runaway train that I am not a part of!”

Freidman’s generous plea deal could add pressure on Cohen to cooperate with authorities.

But Cohen insisted the press was mischaracterizing their relationship, describing himself as “one of thousands of medallion owners who entrust management companies to operate” their medallions, and concluding his tweet with the hashtag #MediaWrongAgain.

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Ohio’s GOP-drawn U.S. congressional map is an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander, the ACLU alleged in a lawsuit filed Wednesday.

The suit, the latest to target the practice of drawing district lines for partisan gain, points to the map itself, as well as what it calls the “tightly controlled process” Republicans used in 2011 to draw it. The map has routinely elected 12 Republicans to four Democrats, even as the two parties have split Ohio’s statewide congressional vote roughly evenly.

“The 12-4 map was drawn in secret in a hotel room, nicknamed ‘the bunker’ by the map drawers, to which only Republicans had access,” the lawsuit claims. “Versions of the map had to be approved by national Republicans, despite no official role in Ohio’s redistricting statutes for the national Republican Party.”

The complaint describes one district as a “detached shoulder blade with a robotic arm that reaches out from a shoulder of Cleveland into Akron.” Another district it dubs the “Snake on the Lake,” because it “eats its way across the southern border of Lake Erie, ingesting portions of five counties (none in its entirety).”

“The contorted shapes of some of these districts also make clear the length the map drawers had to go to in order to achieve their political goals,” the lawsuit says.

The challengers are asking the court to declare the congressional map an unconstitutional gerrymander and to block its implementation in future elections.

The ACLU is bringing the complaint on behalf of 16 voters as well as the Ohio A. Philip Randolph Institute. It names Gov. John Kasich, Secretary of State John Husted, Ohio House Speaker Pro Tempore Kirk Schuring and Ohio State Senate President Larry Obhof as defendants.

Earlier this month, Ohio voters passed a ballot initiative that creates a bipartisan process for drawing congressional district lines. But the lawsuit notes that, under the measure, if that process fails, Ohio’s legislature will be able to fall back on producing maps with a simple majority.

 

The complaint also quotes a friend-of-the-court brief Kasich signed in a Supreme Court redistricting case from Wisconsin, that said “partisan gerrymanders are unconstitutional, are harming our republican government, and readily can be identified and addressed by courts.”

Husted, one of the defendants, responded to the suit in a statement:

If the way the congressional lines were drawn was such an issue for the ACLU, A. Philip Randolph Institute and League of Women Voters, why did they wait six years to file a lawsuit challenging the maps? These groups should respect the will of Ohio’s voters who overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment earlier this month that established a new, bipartisan process for drawing congressional districts starting in 2021.

The Supreme Court is expected to issue rulings in the Wisconsin case and in a separate partisan gerrymandering case out of Maryland before its current term ends. One or both of those rulings could clarify when, if ever, partisan gerrymanders are unconstitutional.

In addition to Ohio and Wisconsin, Republicans in Pennsylvania, Michigan, North Carolina, Virginia, and Florida, among other states, used the redistricting process at the start of the decade to draw lines that benefited their party. Those maps have given the GOP a major advantage in the state legislative and congressional elections that have followed.

Ohio has faced a number of lawsuits for its election practices in recent years. A challenge to its system of purging the voter rolls was heard by the Supreme Court this year, with a ruling also expected this term. The Supreme Court in 2016 allowed the state’s cutbacks to early voting to go into effect for the presidential election, after an appeals court reversed a lower court’s decision to block the cuts.

This story has been updated with a response from Secretary of State Husted

 

Read the lawsuit below:

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