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The Missouri House is launching an investigation into allegations that Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens used a naked picture to threaten blackmail against a woman with whom he carried out a 2015 affair.

The announcement of the probe came hours after a St. Louis grand jury on Thursday indicted Greitens, a Republican, on felony invasion of privacy charges,

A growing number of lawmakers from both parties are calling for Greitens to step down or be impeached. But the governor says he committed no crimes, and is calling the criminal investigation politically motivated. His lawyers are seeking to have the indictment thrown out.

“We will carefully examine the facts contained in the indictment and answer the question as to whether or not the governor can lead our state while a felony case moves forward,” House Speaker Todd Richardson (R) said in a statement provided to the Kansas City Star.

A local reporter spotted Greitens being taken into custody at St. Louis’ Carnahan Courthouse Thursday afternoon before he was released on bond. News of his indictment was splashed across across the front pages of Missouri’s major newspapers the next morning, along with his mugshot.

“With today’s disappointing and misguided political decision, my confidence in our prosecutorial system is shaken, but not broken,” Greitens said in a statement shared on Facebook. “I know this will be righted soon. The people of Missouri deserve better than a reckless liberal prosecutor who uses her office to score political points.”

Greitens said he made a mistake in having an affair with his former hairdresser, but “did not commit a crime.”

He was backed up by the Missouri GOP, who released a statement tying St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner, a Democrat, to George Soros, and calling the investigation a “political hit job.”

Susan Ryan, a spokeswoman for Gardner, fired back at Greitens. “Despite the Governor’s personal attacks, the Circuit Attorney believes the courtroom is the appropriate place to argue the facts, not the media,” Ryan said in a statement.

At the center of the charges against the governor is a nude photo that Greitens took of the woman during a visit to his St. Louis home.

Greitens’ attorney, Edward Dowd, has filed a motion to dismiss the charges, claiming that the woman was aware that Greitens was taking the photo, and that it was part of a consensual relationship.

“No appellate case law exists approving criminal convictions where individuals involved were jointly participating in sexual activity,” Dowd wrote in the motion, which was obtained by the Associated Press. “Nor has case law ever affirmed a conviction where the ‘victim’ was in the home of the other person to engage in private sexual activity with that other person.”

But in a secret recording made by the woman’s husband shortly after the March 2015 incident occurred, she said Greitens blindfolded her, bound her to a piece of exercise equipment and undressed her before taking the photograph.

“I saw a flash through the blindfold and he said, ‘You’re never going to mention my name,'” she said.

Greitens has denied threatening the woman with blackmail but has not clearly denied taking the picture.

Top Democratic lawmakers and a handful of Republicans in the Missouri legislature called publicly for the governor to resign or be impeached.

Republican State Sen. Caleb Rowden said on Twitter that he was “disgusted to learn” that the grand jury found sufficient evidence to indict Greitens and that his immediate resignation was essential for the “sake of our state.”

Republican Rep. Nate Walker, who called for Greitens to step down after the allegations against him first surfaced in January, told the Star: “My understanding was he was led off in handcuffs and that’s not a good sign for our executive of the state of Missouri. He should resign.”

On Thursday, Greitens canceled a planned appearance at this weekend’s National Governors Association meeting in Washington, D.C., and stepped down from the group’s executive committee.

Greitens is due in court March 16.

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Rick Gates is expected to come to a plea deal with Special Counsel Robert Mueller, two sources told the New York Times. Gates could enter a guilty plea as soon as Friday, the Times reported.

ABC News also reported Friday that Gates was poised to reach a deal with Mueller.

Gates, a former Trump campaign advisor, was hit with a second indictment from Mueller Thursday, after an initial round of charges were filed in October. He and his longtime business partner, former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, have been charged with an assortment of financial crimes, including bank fraud, as well as with failure to disclose foreign lobbying related to work they did for a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine. Both men pleaded not guilty when the charges were brought in October.

For weeks it had been rumored that Gates was in plea negotiations with Mueller, particularly after CNN reported he had quietly hired a new attorney, Tom Green, to help hammer out the deal. However, Gates’ effort to formally switch up his legal team has dragged on for nearly a month, after a motion from his original team of lawyers to withdraw from representing him prompted a mysterious back-and-forth in sealed court filings and in private hearings.  Only Thursday did a judge approve of the original attorneys’ move to withdraw, after Green formally entered the case on its public docket and filed for Gates a motion saying he did not oppose them withdrawing. Adding to the confusion was that the Daily Beast reported just before the filings that Gates had fired Green.

According to ABC News, Gates for weeks has been indecisive as to whether he was willing to plead guilty, and even this week it was not clear whether he would come to an agreement with Mueller.

The network obtained a letter Gates wrote to family and close friends explaining his decision, in which he said “despite my initial desire to vigorously defend myself, I have had a change of heart.”

“The reality of how long this legal process will likely take, the cost, and the circus-like atmosphere of an anticipated trial are too much. I will better serve my family moving forward by exiting this process,” Gates’ letter continued, according to ABC News. Gates is the father of young children.

“The consequence is the public humiliation, which at this moment seems like a small price to pay for what our children would have to endure otherwise,” Gates’ letter said, according to ABC News.

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Arizona has long been held up as a model of how to create fair, representative electoral maps largely free from partisan bias.

But a Republican proposal to overhaul the independent commission that draws the state’s maps threatens that reputation.

The measure, which is sponsored by GOP leadership in both houses of the legislature, was approved on party lines by a Senate committee last week. If it passes the Republican-controlled legislature, it would go before voters as a ballot initiative in November.

A wide range of Arizona political observers tell TPM that the legislation would give lawmakers more influence over redistricting, making it easier for them to draw lines that boost their party.

“This is obviously a Republican play to increase their control over the redistricting process during the next go-around [of map drawing],” said Chris Herstam, a former Republican majority whip in the Arizona House of Representatives, who helped establish the state’s independent commission in 2001. “To me, it’s very partisan.”

The move in Arizona comes at a pivotal moment in the redistricting wars. Ahead of the 2020 census, which is followed by a once-a-decade redistricting process, Democrats have launched an unprecedented national push to create fairer maps across the country. But Republicans in many states are doing their utmost to maintain the partisan system that last time allowed them to carry out extreme gerrymanders in numerous large states, giving their party a crucial edge in elections throughout the decade.

They’ve fought doggedly to keep maps in Texas, North Carolina, and Wisconsin that courts have found to be gerrymanders. And in Pennsylvania, some prominent Republicans have even threatened to impeach several of the state’s Supreme Court justices for approving a congressional map intended to fix aggressive GOP gerrymandering.

“As other states are facing legal challenges to their maps or through ballot measures are trying to move to a more independent process, it would be a step backwards for us,” Joel Edman, the director of the Arizona Advocacy Network Executive Director, told TPM of the proposed ballot initiative. “Which would be a real shame, because we were one of the first states to create an independent process.”

National Democrats, too, are alarmed.

“The proposal introduced by Republicans in the state legislature would unnecessarily politicize the current system and undermine the will of the voters,” Kelly Ward, the executive director of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, said in a statement. “Their draft language would make it more difficult to ensure a fair map-drawing process and allow the legislature to sidestep the independent commission’s work on a whim.”

Ward added that if the measure makes it onto the ballot, her group plans to “invest resources to expose this partisan power grab.”

Back in 2001, a voter-approved amendment to Arizona’s constitution established an independent commission to oversee drawing state legislative and congressional districts. Four commissioners — two Democrats and two Republicans — are selected by party leaders from a pool of people that are vetted and chosen by the commission that oversees appellate court appointments. The fifth, who serves as the chair, is an independent selected by the partisan commissioners.

The integral role of the appellate court in selecting candidates serves as a “buffer,” Edman said, that allows the commission “to be removed from politics and removed from the politicians at the Capitol.”

The system appears to have been successful. In drawing districts, the commission prioritizes geographical cohesion, competitiveness, and the need to fairly represent minority voters. It makes little effort to preserve the districts of current incumbents — something that lawmakers themselves tend to focus on when they control the process.

In 2016, Republicans won five out of the state’s nine congressional seats, while Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton by 3.5 percentage points.

Mark Gersh, who has worked with Democrats on redistricting, called Arizona a “gold standard for redistricting” that fairly represents a state home to many independents and a large and growing Latino population.

“You’ve actually got everything you want,” Gersh said. “You have competitive races and you have ones that respect minority votes.”

Indeed, Arizona was one of 15 states to get a perfect score on a set of tests run by a Princeton University gerrymandering project, which aims to identify partisan gerrymanders.

Under the proposal being pushed by Senate President Steve Yarbrough and House Speaker J.D. Mesnard, party leaders would handpick the commissioners without vetting by the appellate court commission. The proposal also would expand the number of commissioners to eight — three Democrats, three Republicans, and two independents.

“The Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission has now redrawn our congressional and legislative districts twice, and both times the process was anything but independent or apolitical,” Mesnard told TPM in an emailed statement. “Arizona voters deserve an opportunity to weigh in on improvements to the process, like increasing the number of independents on the commission to better reflect the state’s party registration, diversifying the geographic representation of the state, and requiring that the population of districts be more evenly divided. These changes would ensure equality, as well as independence.”

Herstam, the Republican who helped establish the original independent commission, said that the expansion is instead intended to give the GOP more sway over how districts are crafted.

“It’s a play by the Republicans to give them more of an opportunity to get people of their ideology on the commission, even if they have ‘independent’ by their name,” Hestram said.

Democratic redistricting experts point to the GOP’s long history of attempting to undermine the independent commission. Most recently, the legislature brought a case claiming that it’s unconstitutional to cut lawmakers out of the redistricting process. The Supreme Court rejected that challenge in 2015. The following year, it rejected a separate challenge brought by Republicans that claimed the state’s map was overly favorable to Democrats.

During a Wednesday night caucus discussion, Yarbrough proposed adding a ninth commissioner who could break potential four-four partisan gridlock and would be chosen by the appellate court. The move seemed to be a concession to critics of the plan.

State Sen. Juan Mendez, one of the Democrats who voted against the original proposal, told TPM that the tweak wasn’t enough.

“In his testimony to the committee, [Yarbrough] dismissed the idea that there could be an independent who is not actually a partisan person who is just pretending to be independent,” Mendez said.

“It looks to me like he’s just throwing darts at the dartboard to see what sticks,” Mendez continued. “He’s trying to shore up Republican support for it, but that’s definitely not how I’d like to see someone be tinkering with democracy.”

Yarbrough’s office did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Mendez and Democratic redistricting experts expect the initiative to end up passing the legislature and appearing on the ballot in November. They hope that, with a competitive gubernatorial and Senate race, voters will turn out en masse to reject it. But they’re not taking it for granted.

“You never know what the rhetoric is going to be,” Gersh said. “There’s going to be some misinformation campaign that will say what’s wrong with” the current system.

“You never know how these things go,” Gersh added.

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There was confusion Thursday over the status of a lawyer for Rick Gates, the Trump campaign staffer under indictment in the Mueller probe alongside Paul Manafort: The Daily Beast reported Thursday that attorney Tom Green had been fired; Green called the story “BS” and “Unbelievable” in a brief email to TPM.

The Daily Beast reported Thursday that Gates had fired his lawyer, Tom Green of D. C. firm Sidley Austin. But as soon as the story broke, Green submitted a court filing saying he would appear in court on Gates’s behalf. By email, Green denied the “BS story.”

Betsy Woodruff, the reporter who wrote the Daily Beast story, said on Twitter that she stood by the piece.

TPM has contacted multiple representatives for Gates requesting clarification.

Gates also submitted a second motion saying he did not oppose Gates’s old legal team leaving the case, as they’d indicated they wanted to do earlier this month.

Green has been with the team less than a month. Three more of Gates’s attorneys have said they want to quit: Shanlon Wu, Walter Mack and Annemarie McAvoy, filed a motion earlier in February to withdraw “immediately” from representing him, citing “irreconcilable differences.” The three lawyers appear to remain on Gates’ team.

Moreover, the initial report states that Gates won’t sign a deal with Special Counsel Robert Mueller as previously reported.

The confusion comes at a bad time for the defense: Also on Thursday, Mueller filed a superseding indictment adding charges of money laundering and tax evasion to the laundry list of financial crimes with which Gates and Manafort are charged.

The pair were indicted in December on charges including conspiracy against the United States and failure to register as foreign agents during their lobbying work for the pro-Russian Party of Regions in Ukraine. Though few are prosecuted under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, the list of violations of the act in the indictment is extensive.

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Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens (R) was indicted by a grand jury Thursday on a felony count of invasion of privacy in the first degree.

The governor is accused of taking a nude photograph of a woman without her consent in 2015, and threatening to release it if she publicized their affair.

Greitens has admitted to the affair but denied allegations of blackmail and vowed to remain in office.

A reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch witnessed the governor being led away in the custody of several St. Louis deputies at the courthouse on Thursday afternoon.

Neither the governor’s office nor Greitens’ private attorneys immediately responded to TPM’s requests for comment.

One of the attorneys, Edward Dowd, told the Post-Dispatch that the charges were “baseless and unfounded” and that he would be filing a motion to dismiss them.

Greitens is being released on a personal recognizance bond and will be permitted to travel, Susan Ryan, a spokeswoman for St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner, confirmed to TPM. Greitens was slated to go to Washington, D.C. this weekend to attend the annual National Governors Association’s winter meeting.

In a statement, Gardner said that the jurors chose to charge Greitens with a felony rather than a misdemeanor because he transmitted the image “in a manner that allows access to that image via a computer.”

“As I have stated before, it is essential for residents of the City of St. Louis and our state to have confidence in their leaders,” Gardner said. “They must know that the Office of the Circuit Attorney will hold public officials accountable in the same manner as any other resident of our city.”

The allegations against the governor first surfaced in mid-January when the ex-husband of the woman he engaged in an affair with spoke to several local news sites. The ex-husband also made public tape recordings he had made in 2015 in which his then-wife provided detailed descriptions of her sexual encounters with the governor. In one, she recalled being blindfolded and tapd to a piece of exercise equipment in Greitens’ basement before he partly undressed her and took a photograph of her without asking permission.

“My client’s agenda has always been to protect the interests of his kids,” Al Watkins, a lawyer for the ex-husband, told TPM. “And to the extent he’s done so he’s now in a position to step off the dance floor. The music may still be playing but it’s not a song to which he has any business dancing.”

Greitens’ indictment was met with renewed calls for his resignation from opponents.

Democratic Governors Association Executive Director Elisabeth Pearson said in a statement that Greitens should “step down immediately” over the “deeply disturbing” charges.

State Sen. Rob Schaaf, a Republican who is one of Greitens’ most vocal critics in the Missouri legislature, fired off a simple two-word message: “he’s done.”

Read the full indictment below:

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Special Counsel Robert Mueller has announced a new indictment against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and former campaign aide Rick Gates.

In a court document filed in the case Mueller previously brought against Manafort and Gates in Washington D.C., prosecutors indicated that a 32-count indictment had been filed against two men in the Eastern District of Virginia, with a copy of thenew indictment attached.

The new charges include making false statement on tax returns, failure to report foreign bank and financial accounts, and bank fraud.

The indictment alleges that Gates and Manafort avoided paying taxes on money they earned lobbying in Ukraine by funneling it through real estate, contractors and in other payments, and even disguising it as loans. Later on, when their Ukraine project dried up — because their client, Victor Yanukovych had fled to Russia — Manafort, with help from Gates, used his real estate properties, as well as falsified income statement to extract more money through loans, the indictment alleged. In seeking some of those loans, some as recent as in 2017, Manafort allegedly misled bankers through falsified documents and other means to pump up the loans, according to the indictment.

“Manafort and Gates fraudulently secured more than twenty million dollars in loans by falsely inflating Manafort’s and his company’s income and by failing to disclose existing debt in order to qualify for the loans,” the indictment said.

Their scheme allegedly involved the use of offshore accounts, and included misleading their tax preparers, the indictment said. It alleged that more $75 million flowed through the offshore accounts and that $30 million was laundered by Manafort with assistance from Gates.

Not long after the new indictment dropped, the Daily Beast reported that Gates had fired Tom Green, an attorney who was believed to be working on a plea deal with Mueller. About an hour later, however, a document was filed in Gates’ case officially adding Green to his representation. Green then filed a motion on Gates’ behalf saying that Gates did not opposed his old legal team’s move to withdraw from the case. The judge then approved of the old team withdrawing.

Some of the new charges relate to transactions that were also singled out in the indictment Mueller brought against Manafort and Gates in late October. The new indictment alleges that money that funneled out of foreign accounts connected to Manafort was disguised as loans, rather than income, and that he did not pay taxes on it. He also allegedly did not pay taxes on money that was wired out of foreign accounts to purchase real estate, pay contractors renovating his homes and on car payments, according to the indictment.

Manafort and Gates are both accused of failing to report to the U.S. Treasury the foreign banks account they allegedly controlled, according to the indictment.

The indictment details that Manafort and Gates allegedly misled lenders and inflated their incomes to secure loans.

In one instance, Manafort allegedly represented to a bank that his daughter and son-in-law were living in a condominium he owns in New York as a way of securing a greater loan, even as he was using it as an AirBnB rental, according to the indictment.

For other loans with other banks, Manafort and Gates allegedly doctored income statements from their consulting firm DMI, the prosecutors said. The indictment references another unnamed “conspirator” working at a bank where Manafort sought a loan.


Read the court filing below:

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White nationalist Jared Taylor and his organization American Renaissance are suing Twitter for permanently suspending their accounts, accusing the social media giant of “the silencing of dissident voices.”

The suit, filed Tuesday in California Superior Court’s San Francisco District, alleges that Twitter is engaging in viewpoint discrimination against the site for its racist views, in violation of the state constitution.

A spokesperson for Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Taylor and American Renaissance were banned in December 2017 as part of a crackdown by Twitter against users affiliated with hate groups “on and off the platform.” Those who made “specific threats of violence or wish for the serious physical harm, death, or disease of an individual or group of people” were banned, as were those whose profiles include “hateful imagery and display names.”

The move came in the wake of the deadly August white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, North Carolina, which was organized largely on Twitter and other social media platforms by users who bragged about committing violence. Taylor and his group are part of an older guard of suit-and-tie-wearing white nationalists who are careful to couch their views on the racial inferiority of blacks and desire for a white homeland in academic language.

Taylor has retained Las Vegas-based attorney Marc Randazza, who is known for his defense of other controversial clients like conspiracy peddler Mike Cernovich and trolls on the platform 8chan. Randazza is currently representing Andrew Anglin, publisher of neo-Nazi site Daily Stormer, in a federal lawsuit in which Anglin is accused of orchestrating an anti-Semitic harassment campaign against a Montana Jewish woman.

Michigan State University law professor Adam Candeub and Washington, DC attorney Noah Peters are also representing Taylor. In a Wednesday op-ed in the Daily Caller, Peters wrote that the suit “is not about whether Taylor is right or wrong” about race but about ensuring that all individuals, regardless of their views, have access to free speech.

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For the first time, the Southern Poverty Law Center included two male supremacist groups in its annual “Year in Extremism” report, released Wednesday.

The report, which tracks groups that target specific populations based on their identities, race or religion, also found that the Trump administration has “buoyed white supremacists” by appointing far-right advisers.

Houston-based A Voice for Men and Washington, D.C.-based Return of Kings were among the 954 hate groups included in the 2017 report. The male supremacist groups believe it’s natural and desirable for men to have more power than women, and lament what they see as the oppression of men by modern society. A recent post on A Voice for Men argued that many women who experience violence at the hands of men in their lives “ask for it.”

In a call with reporters, Heidi Beirich, head of the SPLC’s Intelligence Project, likened the men’s rights groups’ rhetoric about women to the way the white nationalist organization American Renaissance categorically describes the inferiority of black people.

“These men right’s groups talk in the same way about women,” Beirich said. “They demonize them as an entire population, so they use slurs like, ‘They’re whores, they’re destroying men, they’re bitches, they’re evil.’ It’s the same kind of language directed at demonizing all women and trying to make women look essentially like a lesser form of humanity.”

In recent years there has been frequent overlap between the “men’s rights” community and the broader amalgamation of racists and online trolls known as the “alt-right.”

Beirich said the SPLC has been tracking the men’s rights movement since 2012 and this year determined that these two organizations met the criteria required to be added to their annual count.

The groups make up a tiny fraction of the overall 2017 report, which found a 4 percent rise in hate groups nationwide since 2016. The biggest upticks were among black nationalist and neo-Nazi group chapters, which saw their ranks swell from 193 to 233 and 99 to 121, respectively. Separately, the SPLC identified 689 anti-government or “Patriot” groups, up from 623 in 2016.

The report found that the Trump administration has “thrilled and comforted” white supremacists by appointing advisers with ties to the “alt-right” like Steve Bannon and Stephen Miller, and by enacting immigration policies that target Muslims and Latinos. White supremacist websites like the Daily Stormer and Stormfront have also helped proliferate hateful ideas to thousands of predominantly young men who are not formerly affiliated with any particular hate group, per the SPLC report.

One such person was Nikolas Cruz, the 19-year-old who, police say, murdered 17 people at his former high school in Parkland, Florida last week. Though Cruz was not a member of any group, he was steeped in white nationalist and anti-Islam ideology, authoring dozens of hateful social media posts.

Like many of the people who commit acts of mass violence, Cruz also had a history of misogynistic behavior and violence against women. The New York Times reported he was abusive towards his ex-girlfriend and behaved threateningly towards other female students.

Gun control group Everytown for Gun Safety found that in 57 percent of mass shooting cases between 2009 and 2015, a spouse, former spouse or other family member was among the victims. Everytown’s analysis, based on FBI data, also found that 16 percent of the attackers had previously been charged with domestic violence.

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Loans amounting up to $16 million that Paul Manafort received from a bank run by a Trump campaign economic adviser are getting scrutiny from Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is interested in whether Manafort promised the banker a White House job in exchange for the loans, NBC News reported Wednesday.

The banker, Steve Calk, president of Federal Savings Bank in Chicago, sat on the Trump campaign’s economic advisory council — a position that was announced in August 2016, while Manafort was chairman of the campaign. Manafort was ousted from the campaign not long after.  He and his wife went on to secure three separate loans from the bank in late 2016 and early 2017.

References to those loans have popped up in recent court filings related to the negotiations over Manafort’s bail proposal, which involves properties he had put up as collateral for the FSB loans. The filings, coupled with NBC News’ recent reporting, suggest that Mueller is digging deeper into aspects of Manafort’s personal finances—and one of his key lenders— that to this point have been peripheral to the main case.

“The government has secured substantial evidence that Manafort secured this mortgage from The Federal Savings Bank through a series of false and fraudulent representations to The Federal Savings Bank,” Mueller said in a filing last week.

NBC News, citing two sources, said that federal investigators are investigating a possible “quid pro quo” deal between Manafort and Calk, including an offer of a White House gig. Calk did not ultimately get a job in the current administration. His spokesman did not return NBC News’ inquiries, nor did the bank’s PR firm.

Three sources told NBC News that other bank employees were skeptical of the loans to Manafort, and one source revealed that investigators have gotten at least one former employee to cooperate with the probe.

The White House did not comment to NBC News on whether Manafort had sought a position in Trump’s cabinet for Calk. Manafort spokesman Jason Maloni pointed NBC News to a previous statement he gave on Manafort’s loans.

Scrutiny of the loans began last year as the various investigations into Manafort’s finances were heating up. As other outlets noted at the time, the $16 million in loans were huge for a bank of such a relatively small size. They amounted to nearly 24 percent of the bank’s reported $67 million of equity capital and 5.4 percent of the bank’s total assets.

In July, it was reported that Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance had subpoenaed the bank for records related to the Manafort loans.

In late October — right after Mueller dropped an indictment charging Manafort with various financial crimes, among other things —  a local Chicago CBS affiliate reported that Calk was speaking to the FBI.

Manafort has pleaded not guilty to the charges, which also include failure to disclose foreign lobbying.

In filings with the FDIC that were posted publicly in late January, the bank reported a $12 million loss in the 4th quarter of 2017. It was not explicitly clear whether the loss was related to the loans to Manafort. The loss is listed as being off of “commercial and industrial loans.”

Meanwhile, the negotiations around Manafort’s proposed bail package have dragged on, with much of the back-and-forth taking place under seal. Some of the related filings were unsealed on Friday.

In them, Mueller argued that Manafort’s bail proposal is “deficient” due to “additional criminal conduct” prosecutors have learned of since the initial bail determination.

“That criminal conduct includes a series of bank frauds and bank fraud conspiracies, including criminal conduct relating to the mortgage on the Fairfax property, which Manafort seeks to pledge,” Mueller said, adding that Manafort secured the mortgage through a “a series of false and fraudulent representations” to Federal Savings Bank.

“For example, Manafort provided the bank with doctored profit and loss statements for DMP International LLC for both 2015 and 2016, overstating its income by millions of dollars. At the next bail hearing, we can proffer to the Court additional evidence related to this and the other bank frauds and conspiracies,” Mueller said.



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Four months after a gunman shot 480 concertgoers from the window of his 32nd-floor hotel room, President Trump has ordered the Department of Justice (DOJ) to do something the department has repeatedly said it can’t do on its own: Ban bump stocks.

The result could well be the kind of inaction on gun violence that we’ve grown used to.

Bump stocks are sliding shoulder stocks that use a gun’s recoil to fire the next round, effectively making a semi-automatic gun into an automatic one. The Las Vegas murderer had 12 guns modified with those devices.

Responding to demands for action after last week’s school shooting in Parkland, Florida, Trump said in a memo issued Tuesday afternoon that he was directing DOJ “to propose for notice and comment a rule banning all devices that turn legal weapons into machine-guns.”

Of course, doing so would have done nothing to stop the Parkland shooter, who didn’t need bump stocks to kill 17 people, including a dozen children, in minutes. But leave aside the obvious inadequacy of the step as a response to gun violence. We’ve been here before.

After the Las Vegas shooting, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) introduced legislation to ban bump stocks. The NRA opposed it, but said separately that ATF, an agency of DOJ, should review whether bump stocks require regulation under existing law.

“The NRA believes that devices designed to allow semi-automatic rifles to function like fully-automatic rifles should be subject to additional regulations,” the group said in a statement.

The Justice Department said at that time that it was reviewing whether it had the necessary authority to regulate bump stocks. But ATF has said repeatedly in the past, and said again in the wake of the Las Vegas shooting, that it doesn’t have the authority required.

In a 2013 letter to Congress, the agency wrote that “stocks of this type are not subject to the provisions of federal firearms statutes.” The letter details the logistical problems with applying the law to bump-fire stocks, which seem expressly designed to skirt prohibitions on machine guns.

Feinstein cited that letter in a statement released Tuesday in which she declared: “Legislation is the only answer.”

The ATF doesn’t appear to have changed its mind since sending the letter. Its director, Thomas E. Brandon, made the same point in a December hearing.

“ATF’s authority to regulate firearms is of course limited by the terms of [firearms laws from 1934 and 1968], and they do not empower ATF to regulate parts or accessories designed to be used with firearms,” Brandon said, according to a report on the hearing from the Washington Post.

Brandon reportedly said the same thing at a meeting of police chiefs in Philadelphia in October.

It all suggests that any move by the administration to regulate bump stocks would be anything but straightforward, if it happens at all. Regulating bump stocks, which are designed to skirt laws banning machine guns, seems like a cursory step — certainly an uncontroversial one, given the breadth of popular support for stricter gun laws. But even that may be beyond Washington’s abilities.

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