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Allegra Kirkland

Allegra Kirkland is a New York-based reporter for Talking Points Memo. She previously worked on The Nation’s web team and as the associate managing editor for AlterNet. Follow her on Twitter @allegrakirkland.

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Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) on Tuesday repeatedly suggested that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein tried to cover up a text message in which FBI agent Peter Strzok said “we’ll stop” Donald Trump from becoming president.

Jordan devoted multiple rounds of questioning to his pursuit of Rosenstein during a joint Judiciary and Oversight Committee hearing on the recently released Justice Department Inspector General report.

As Jordan noted, many of the texts between Strzok and his fellow former FBI official and former girlfriend Lisa Page lambasting Trump leaked out earlier, but this “most explosive” one was not made public until the report came out last week.

Inspector General Michael Horowitz explained that the message was only discovered in May thanks to technical complications in extracting all of the officials’ texts, and that that new trove of messages was sent to Rosenstein’s office for them to then turn them over to Congress.

Jordan then suggested that Rosenstein did not turn over the text message right away.

“Mr. Rosenstein made a decision that instead of us seeing the most explosive text message between these two key agents who were on the Clinton team, the Russia team, and on the special counsel team, he made a decision to wait a month for us to see that text message,” Jordan said.

“I can’t speak to whether anyone made a conscious decision,” Horowitz replied. “I would just say we had — there was in that fourth recovery that we made in May, there was 100,000-plus lines of text to go through, most all of them we’d found before. This one was one we hadn’t. We didn’t see it or pick it up until June.”

Horowitz then explained, as he did in his Monday testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, that his office had to exhaust its cyber forensics capabilities and ultimately go to both an outside vendor and the Pentagon to try to recover all of the agents’ messages.

Jordan is among the GOP lawmakers who have attacked Rosenstein for his oversight of the special counsel investigation into Russia’s 2016 election interference. Claiming that Rosenstein is withholding documents from Congress, this group of Republicans has called for him to be impeached.

Jordan’s animosity toward Rosenstein was clear in his questioning Tuesday.

The Ohio lawmaker said Rosenstein “hid information from us” and, in a subsequent round of questioning, suggested the deputy attorney general intentionally declined to show Congress the “we’ll stop it” text after Horowitz pointed it out to him on June 8.

“Do you know if there’s anything nefarious at work?” Jordan asked. “When we got the original question, it had the prompting question from Ms. Page. He’s never going to become President. We had that for months. Why didn’t we get the response?”

Horowitz replied again that it was due to a technical glitch that kept the FBI from storing months worth of messages, and to the difficulties his office had in retrieving them.

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The Justice Department Inspector General testified Tuesday that his office’s most recent report did not include a comprehensive review of agents at the FBI’s New York field office looking for evidence that they opposed Hillary Clinton and leaked damaging information about her during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, cited a section from the IG’s report in which former Attorney General Loretta Lynch claimed to be quoting former FBI Director James Comey about the “deep and visceral hatred” of Clinton among a “cadre of senior people in New York.”

“Is there evidence and, in fact, there were people in the FBI office in New York who were very — who had a hatred of Secretary Clinton?” Nadler asked.

“We looked at individuals connected to the Midyear review, and we were not out there looking at every single FBI agent’s personal devices, text messages, who had no role in the Midyear investigation,” Inspector General Michael Horowitz replied.

As the IG report showed, multiple senior FBI officials believed a fear of leaks from anti-Clinton FBI agents in New York prompted Comey to break from precedent and publicly announce the reopening of the Clinton email investigation days before the election.

The IG’s office did not come to a conclusion on whether Comey was in fact motivated by a fear of leaks, and the report did not address the issue of leaks from the New York office to allies of the Trump campaign, including Rudy Giuliani. Horowitz declined during a Monday Senate Judiciary hearing to expound on any evidence his office discovered of anti-Clinton leaks.

At Tuesday’s hearing, Horowitz said that only the communications of former FBI officials Peter Strzok, Lisa Page, two other unnamed agents, and one lawyer at the bureau were scrutinized.

“You didn’t look at other agents like in the New York office?” Nadler asked.

“We did not look at agents beyond the Midyear team, the Clinton email investigation team,” Horowitz replied.

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The House Oversight Committee’s top Democrat on Tuesday grilled Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz on whether the President is correct in claiming that a report issued by Horowitz’s office vindicated him in the federal probe into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.

The short answer: no.

Pointing to a quote in which President Trump said he was “totally exonerated” by the IG report on how top FBI officials handled investigations during the campaign, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) said, “My copy of your report must be missing a page, a few pages.”

“Did your investigation examine whether President Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia to impact the election, or whether the president obstructed an FBI investigation?” Cummings asked.

“Our report was focused on the Clinton email investigation, and the only place where it touches the Russia matter is with regard to the [FBI agents’] text messages and then the October decision about the Weiner laptop,” Horowitz replied.

Horowitz gave similar answers to Cummings’ questions citing quotes by Trump and his attorney Rudy Giuliani claiming that the report proved that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation was “totally discredited,” should end immediately, and was corrupt.

“We don’t address issues with regard to the special counsel,” he replied finally.

Giuliani himself acknowledged in an interview over the weekend that he doesn’t think the report exonerates Trump.

Watch the exchange between Cummings and Horowitz below.

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Democrats on the House Judiciary and Oversight Committees used a Tuesday joint hearing on the Justice Department Inspector General’s report to take the Trump administration to task for the current crisis at the border, where thousands of immigrant children have been forcibly separated from their parents.

“Are we really going to sit here, 70 members of a Congress of the United States of America in 2018 and have a hearing that just repeats the hearings the Senate had yesterday on Hillary Clinton’s emails?” an outraged Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), the ranking member on the Oversight Committee, asked his colleagues.

The hearing was slated as an opportunity to ask Inspector General Michael Horowitz about his 500-page report on the conduct of FBI officials during the 2016 election.

Before it even began, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), ranking member of the Judiciary Committee, said he felt the need to discuss “a more immediate” issue: “the pictures of immigrant children ripped from their parents at the border.”

“We should not put children in cages,” Nadler said, before Oversight Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-SC) cut him off and called the hearing into regular order. Capitol Police removed a few protesters who broke into chants of “families belong together” and the hearing got underway.

In a firey opening statement, Gowdy railed against former FBI Director James Comey, saying he and he alone decided “which DOJ policies to follow and which to ignore,” and attacking FBI agents and federal prosecutors for prejudging the outcome of the Hillary Clinton email investigation.

Cummings followed up by saying that GOP lawmakers are only dissatisfied with the IG report’s conclusions because “the only answer [they] will accept is that Hillary Clinton must be guilty.”

The Maryland Democrat then went after Congress for continuing to harp on issues from the 2016 election rather than address “the key moral and ethical issue of the day, which is the president’s new policy to separate children from their families.”

Since late April, over 2,000 immigrant children have been separated from their parents and placed into camps along the U.S.-Mexico border thanks to the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy forcing all adults who cross the border illegally into immediate detention.

Referring to the children’s facilities, where many are sleeping in cages, as “internment camps,” Cummings said the U.S. is “so much better than that.”

“This was a policy invented and executed by President Donald Trump,” Cummings said, before turning to his Republican colleagues.

“Mr. Chairman, we need you,” Cummings continued. “Those children need you. And I’m talking directly to my Republican colleagues. We need you to stand up to President Trump. We need you to join us in telling him that we reject this mean policy. We need you to tell him to abandon his policy. We need you to remind him that this is the United States of America and it is a great country. And we need you to stand up for those children.”

This pattern repeated throughout much of the day-long hearing. Democratic lawmakers devoted portions of their allotted time to decrying the situation at the border, while their Republican colleagues remained focused on the report’s fine print. Horowitz spent significant periods sitting quietly as representatives on each side made their points.

Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ) said she was “tired of this discussion” about the report, saying the Oversight Committee on which she sits should instead “be using tax dollars to try to figure out why the President of the United States of America, his administration, are doing things that are so un-American as to rip children and babies from the hands and the hearts of their parents and putting them in cages.”

Watson Coleman added that “arrogant, dismissive” Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen “has not a heart in her.”

Later in the hearing, Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA), who sits on both the Judiciary and Intelligence Committees, called the day’s events “maddening.”

“I don’t know if colleagues are checking your emails or voicemails or Twitter feed,” Swalwell said. “People aren’t talking about the god damn [Clinton] emails. They are not. They are talking about kids separated from their mom and their dad.”

When Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) broke in to say that the GOP was introducing a bill this week to address family situation, Swalwell replied that it was a “partisan bill without Democratic support.”

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(Photos by Getty Images/Sylvain Gaboury/Mark Wilson/Joe Raedle/Win McNamee/Mark Wilson)

 
We learned this weekend about a previously undisclosed May 2016 encounter between Roger Stone and a Russian offering dirt on Hillary Clinton, brokered by Michael Caputo.

By the Washington Post’s count, that brings to 11 the total number of Trump associates or campaign officials who have “acknowledged interactions with a Russian” during the campaign or presidential transition. Of those, we know of a total of six who have received similar offers or tip-offs about Russian information that would allegedly incriminate Clinton.

Those offers all came during the spring and summer of 2016, just before the party conventions, as the campaign was entering its frenzied final stage and morphing into a clearly defined Trump vs. Clinton face-off.

Here’s that full list in chronological order, for those keeping score at home:

George Papadopoulos, late April 2016

During a meeting at a London hotel, Joseph Misfud, an academic with ties to Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, informed Papadopolous that the Russians had “dirt” on Clinton consisting of “thousands of emails.” That information came from high-level Russian officials in Moscow, according to a New York Times report.

It’s still not clear if the young campaign aide shared that information with any other members of the Trump team, but he did let it slip during a drunken night out with Australia’s top diplomat in Britain in May 2016. The diplomat became alarmed when, two months later, leaked emails from top Democratic officials started cropping up online. Australian officials passed the information on to the FBI, prompting them to start what would become the sprawling federal investigation into Russia’s election meddling.

Michael Caputo, May 2016

Russian national Harry Greenberg approached Caputo’s Russian business partner Sergey Petrushin in May 2016, ostensibly to talk about zoning concerns related to a restaurant he hoped to open. As the Washington Post reported, Greenberg soon disclosed that he had information he wanted to share with Caputo that would be helpful to Trump’s campaign.

Caputo arranged for Greenberg to give the scoop to Stone, and checked in with him after their meeting via text message.

Roger Stone, May 2016

Greenberg was wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat and t-shirt when Stone arrived for their meeting at a Sunny Isles, Florida restaurant. The Russian national told Stone “we really want to help Trump” and offered to provide damaging information about Clinton in exchange for a $2 million payout.

Stone said he turned down the exchange, claiming that Trump “doesn’t pay for anything.”

Greenberg had a different story, telling the newspaper “his friend Alexei,” a disgruntled fired employee from the Clinton Foundation, conducted the meeting while he sat at a nearby table. Greenberg denied asking for money.

Donald Trump Jr., June 2016

On June 3, Trump Jr. received an email from British publicist Rob Goldstone offering “sensitive” Russian government information “that would incriminate Hillary and “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,” the email continued.

Trump Jr. infamously replied “If it’s what you say I love it especially later in the summer,” and arranged a meeting at Trump Tower between members of the Trump campaign and the “Russian government attorney who is flying over from Moscow.”

According to the testimony of other participants, Trump’s eldest son specifically asked Russian attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya if she had information on Clinton and became upset when she instead held forth on the Magnitsky Act sanctions, which Russia retaliated against by barring U.S. adoptions of Russian children.

Jared Kushner, June 2016

Kushner was forwarded the entire email chain labeled “FW: Russia – Clinton – private and confidential,” which detailed the purpose and timing of the Trump Tower meeting.

Though Kushner claims not to have read through the entire chain, he attended the meeting. Goldstone testified that he was “agitated” and “infuriate[d]” that Veselnitskaya did not have any useful information to share about the Clinton campaign.

Paul Manafort, June 2016

Manafort also received the full email chain and attended the meeting. By all accounts, he spent the entire time fiddling with his cell phone and appeared bored by the presentation.

Even more associates may have been privy to such overtures. The infamous Steele dossier, for example, claims that Carter Page met with a Russian official who “rais[ed] a dossier of ‘kompromat’” that the Kremlin had put together on Clinton and was considering releasing to the Trump campaign.

But these six are the only ones we knew for sure.

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A House Intelligence Committee Democrat is lashing out at the panel’s chairman, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), following reports that Nunes withheld sensitive information from his Democratic colleagues in the run-up to the 2016 election.

Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) on Monday labeled Nunes “the President’s fixer in Congress.”

The harsh condemnation comes days after the California Republican divulged that “the House Intelligence Committee” received a September 2016 tip from FBI agents regarding the discovery of a new trove of emails related to the probe into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private server. Nunes apparently never shared this information with top Democrats on his own panel.

“From the moment that FBI Director James Comey told the House Intelligence Committee in March 2017 that a criminal and counterintelligence investigation of Trump-Russia collusion was under way, Devin Nunes has worked as the President’s fixer in Congress rather than lead a bipartisan effort to protect our democracy,” Swalwell said in a statement to TPM.

“There’s plenty of cause for concern that anything he hears or sees goes right to the President, essentially turning over the keys to the FBI’s evidence locker to a subject of an investigation.”

Agents in the FBI’s New York office discovered the Clinton emails while investigating Anthony Weiner, then-husband of Clinton aide Huma Abedin, for sex crimes. Then-FBI Director James Comey took the unprecedented step of publicly disclosing that the bureau was reopening the Clinton email probe just 11 days before the election. Nine days after that, Comey announced that the emails were irrelevant to the investigation.

On Thursday, Nunes told Fox News’ Laura Ingraham that “we had whistleblowers that came to us in New York in late September of 2016, who talked to us about this laptop sitting up in New York that had additional emails on it. The House Intelligence Committee, we had that, but we couldn’t do anything with it.”

“Good FBI agents brought this to our attention,” Nunes added.

Yet Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), the ranking Democrat on the House Intel Committee, said Sunday that Nunes’ comments were “the first that we’ve heard about it.”

Schiff called this disclosure to Nunes “deeply disturbing.”

“If this was shared by New York field agents with Devin Nunes, was it also shared with Rudy Giuliani?” Schiff said in an interview on NBC News. “Or did Devin Nunes do something which we have seen subsequently, which is coordinate with the Trump team? Was this information shared by the committee with Rudy Giuliani, or shared directly with him?”

The Justice Department inspector general report released last week was inconclusive on the possibility that information leaked through the New York office, or to Giuliani specifically. The IG is expected to more thoroughly address that issue in a subsequent report.

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A Sunday Washington Post report brought the startling revelation that yet another Russian reached out to the Trump campaign to offer dirt on Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential race.

At a previously undisclosed May 2016 meeting brokered by former Trump adviser Michael Caputo, a Russian intermediary named Harry Greenberg offered GOP dirty trickster Roger Stone $2 million in exchange for this damaging information. Both Caputo and Stone say they rebuffed and then simply forgot about the remarkable encounter, and did not disclose it publicly or to Congress as a result.

The episode actually came to light after special counsel Robert Mueller’s team grilled Caputo about it during a May 2, 2018 interview.

Fearing that the meeting would be used against them, Caputo launched a well-funded effort to gather information that would help cast the meeting as just another example of an insidious anti-Trump conspiracy at the FBI.

On the same day the Post article dropped, Caputo’s team sent out a press release linking to a glossy new website detailing Greenberg’s past work as an FBI informant. The site, DemocratDossier.org, claims that Caputo conducted his research using money from the crowd-sourced legal fund set up to cover the costs of his defense in the Russia probes. It links to a separate GoFundMe campaign requesting donations for additional investigations into “the informants the intelligence agencies planted into the Trump campaign to spy” on various advisers.

As the Post reported, Greenberg did claim to work as an FBI informant under a different name until around 2013. But the newspaper noted that there was no evidence that he was doing so in his interaction with Stone, and Greenberg denies that he was acting on the FBI’s behalf.

The FBI informant narrative also does not explain why Caputo and Stone failed to disclose the encounter for almost two years, and falsely testified before Congress that they had no meetings with Russian nationals during the election.

But by controlling how the story went public and tying the Greenberg incident to the preexisting FBI “spygate” narrative, the pair of Trump allies allowed themselves to avoid a defensive crouch and remain on the attack.

The seeds of this story line were planted not long after Caputo’s May 2 interview with Mueller. That evening, Caputo told CNN that the special counsel’s team remained “really focused on Russia collusion” and that they “know more about the Trump campaign than anyone who ever worked there.”

“The special counsel is spearfishing,” Caputo said. “They know what they are aiming at and are deadly accurate.”

It was around this time that reports first surfaced that an FBI informant contacted several members of the Trump campaign in July 2016 to suss out their contacts with Russians. That individual, who was in touch with both Carter Page and George Papadopolous, turned out to be Cambridge professor and longtime U.S. intelligence source Stefan Halper.

On May 21, Caputo went on Fox News and suggested that multiple covert informants tried to entrap Trump associates during the 2016 election.

“This informant, this person that they planted, try to plant into the campaign and even into the administration if you believe Axios, he’s not the only person that came at the campaign,” Caputo told host Laura Ingraham. “I know because they came at me, and I’m looking for clearance from my attorney to reveal this to the public.”

“When we finally find out the truth about this, Director Clapper and the rest of them are going to be wearing some orange suits,” he added.

This nefarious description of Greenberg as a plant dispatched to take down the Trump campaign does not quite square with Caputo and Stone’s claims that they had no memory of interacting with him.

“I didn’t talk to anybody who was identifiably Russian during the two-year run-up to this campaign,” Stone told the Washington Post in an April 2017 interview. “I very definitely can’t think of anybody who might have been a Russian without my knowledge. It’s a canard.”

Caputo, meanwhile, told CNN that he spent the bulk of his June 2017 interview before the House Intelligence Committee denying any interaction with Russians.

“I spent my time in front of the committee detailing the fact that I had no contact with Russians, that I never heard of anyone with the Trump campaign talking with Russians, that I was never asked questions about my time in Russia, that I never even spoke to anyone about Russia, that I never heard the word ‘Russia,’ and we did not use Russian dressing,” Caputo said.

But then, during his May 2 interview, special counsel investigators showed Caputo text messages that he and Stone exchanged about the Greenberg meeting in Florida.

As the Post reported, Greenberg was decked out in “Make America Great Again” gear when Stone met him for lunch at a restaurant in Sunny Isles. The Russian national told Stone they “really want to help Trump” and asked if the GOP presidential candidate would pay $2 million for damaging political information about Clinton. Stone replied that Trump “doesn’t pay for anything,” he recalled to the newspaper.

In subsequent text messages, Caputo asked “how crazy is the Russian?” Stone said that Greenberg wanted “big” money and called the meeting a “waste of time.”

Both men told the Post they will now amend their congressional testimony to account for the meeting with Greenberg, and that they simply forgot about the inconsequential encounter.

“I just didn’t remember. 2016 was a pretty busy year,” Stone told ABC News. “I don’t think a failure of memory constitutes a perjury.”

Caputo, too, brushed it off as a non-issue, claiming that he only learned that Greenberg was Russian during his interview with the special counsel, who “knew more about it than I did.”

Congressional follow-up seems unlikely, particularly from the deeply divided House Intelligence Committee.

“Few of the Trump team witnesses have proved worthy of being taken at their word,” Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA), who sits on the House Intel Committee told TPM in a statement, “but the House Intelligence Committee’s Republicans refused to issue the subpoenas necessary to confirm or disprove these stories. The latest revelation about Roger Stone proves how irresponsible it was for the Republicans to accept witnesses’ testimony blindly and then end the investigation while insisting there were no more facts to find.”

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), the House Intelligence Committee’s top Democrat, released a harsh statement on Sunday accusing his GOP colleagues of “shielding witnesses who may have testified before us untruthfully.”

“In multiple respects now, the testimony of Roger Stone appears inaccurate or deliberately misleading,” Schiff said. “Similarly, Michael Caputo’s testimony omitted mention of this interaction with a Russian offering dirt on Hillary Clinton, something which could not plausibly have escaped his recollection. The truthfulness of many of our witnesses has been difficult to ascertain, which is why I have urged the committee to make the transcripts available to Special Counsel Mueller for a determination whether any witnesses committed perjury before our committee. The Majority’s unwillingness to do so demonstrates that protecting the President remains its paramount objective.”

Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA) has actively promoted the notion that there were anti-Trump spies planted in the campaign, and released no statement responding to the Greenberg episode.

Nunes’ office did not respond to TPM’s Monday request for comment.

As the Post noted, Stone and Caputo’s communications with Greenberg means that 11 Trump associates or campaign officials have now admitted to interacting with a Russian during the campaign or presidential transition.

President Trump and his allies have denied anything untoward about those contacts, framing themselves as the target of a sprawling “witch hunt.”

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Paul Manafort, chairman of Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, was sent to jail on Friday by a federal judge.

Manafort was accused of witness tampering while awaiting trial on conspiracy and money-laundering charges — an additional crime which prompted a judge to revoke his bail. He was brought into the prisoner holding area immediately after the morning hearing, and will remain in jail until the first of his two federal trials gets underway in July.

Trump called the judge’s decision “very unfair,” noting that Manafort was not “the head of the Mob.”

Another onetime Trump ally may be preparing to cooperate with federal prosecutors to avoid Manafort’s fate. Michael Cohen this week signaled to friends and family his willingness to flip, both to relieve pressure on himself and out of irritation that he’s been given the cold shoulder by Trumpland.

For now, Cohen is preparing to split from his legal team at McDermott, a move that sources close to Cohen tell press is both strategic and motivated by his mounting legal bills. The McDermott team helped Cohen meet a federal judge’s Friday deadline to complete a marathon privilege review of all the documents seized from his premises. No new counsel has yet been named.

Trump on Friday said he didn’t care if Cohen flipped because he, personally, had “done nothing wrong,” but he praised Cohen as a “good person.”

The Justice Department inspector general’s 500-page report on DOJ and FBI activity prior to the 2016 election dropped Thursday. It found that ex-FBI Director James Comey “deviated” from norms in handling the Hillary Clinton email probe, but that his actions were not criminal or driven by political bias. It also determined that texts between two former FBI officials — Peter Strzok and Lisa Page — “cast a cloud” over the FBI Russia probe but did not affect how it was conducted.

The report did not definitively address the question of whether a torrent of leaks from the FBI to the media originated in the New York office, or if some of those leaks went directly to Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani.

Trump bizarrely claimed the report “totally exonerates” him of obstruction of justice for firing Comey, while his attorney Giuliani said it should lead to the immediate suspension of the special counsel probe and Strzok’s arrest.

Concord Management, the company accused of funding Russia’s internet troll effort, battled in court with Mueller’s team to obtain the data used to build their case, which the special counsel has warned could end up in the hands of foreign intel agencies if released through the discovery process. A federal judge ordered them to come to an agreement, saying the government “presented good evidence for protecting some information from discovery.”

New documents reveal that a British billionaire who bankrolled Nigel Farage’s Brexit campaign met repeatedly with high-ranking Russian officials during that effort.

And the NRA is staying mum amid new details about meetings the gun lobby’s executives had with Russian officials, some under U.S. sanction, during a 2015 trip to Moscow.

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Michael Cohen is telling his friends and family he may cooperate with federal prosecutors investigating him for possible financial crimes, CNN reported Friday.

According to CNN, Cohen would do so both to relieve pressure on himself and because he’s wounded that President Trump and his allies have minimized Cohen’s relationship with Trump in dismissive public comments.

Federal prosecutors in Manhattan are conducting a criminal investigation into Cohen’s financial and business dealings, including an October 2016 hush money payment he made to adult film star Stormy Daniels on Trump’s behalf.

In April, federal agents raided his hotel room, office and apartment, seizing electronic devices and troves of documents. That aggressive action prompted the first rumors that Cohen might flip.

Those reports went into overdrive this week thanks to reports that Cohen is splitting with his legal team. ABC News reported that he intends to cooperate, while the New York Times and Wall Street Journal said Cohen had not yet made a decision either way.

As CNN reported, Cohen has not yet met with prosecutors to discuss a possible deal, and is in the process of finding new lawyers who have closer connections with the U.S. Attorney’s office in Manhattan.

Trump told reporters on Friday that he wasn’t concerned about Cohen flipping because Trump “did nothing wrong.”

But Trump also seemed to go out of his way to praise his one-time fixer. “I always liked Michael and he’s a good person,” the president added.

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Journalists wined and dined FBI employees and gave them perks like tickets to sporting events, according to the report released Thursday by the Justice Department’s Inspector General (IG).

The report focused on the bureau’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email probe. But it also noted:

We identified instances where FBI employees received tickets to sporting events from journalists, went on golfing outings with media representatives, were treated to drinks and meals after work by reporters, and were the guests of journalists at nonpublic social events.

Those interactions “were, at a minimum, inconsistent with FBI policy and
Department ethics rules,” the report said. It didn’t offer details on the episodes, saying they’ll be documented in a forthcoming report.

Very few FBI employees are actually authorized to even talk to the media, but the IG investigation found that the policy was “widely ignored” in 2016. The IG expressed “profound concerns about the volume and extent” of these unsanctioned contacts.

The report also notes that these frequent interactions made it difficult to determine the source of leaks. Many FBI employees had access to sensitive government information and were in contact with the press.

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