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Esme Cribb

Esme Cribb is a newswriter for TPM in New York City. She can be found on Twitter @emquiry and reached by email at esme@talkingpointsmemo.com.

Articles by Esme

Former Donald Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski was the “high-ranking campaign official” former campaign adviser George Papadopoulos emailed about arranging a meeting between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, the Washington Post reported late Monday.

“Have been receiving a lot of calls over the last month about Putin wanting to host him and the team when the time is right,” Papadopoulos wrote in April 2016 to a person identified only as “a high-ranking official of the Campaign” in court documents unsealed Monday.

The Washington Post reported, citing previously described emails that Trump’s campaign handed over to congressional committees, that the campaign official in question was Lewandowski.

Papadopoulos was arrested in July and pleaded guilty in October to lying to the FBI. The case against him was unsealed Monday.

In May 2016, according to the court documents, Papadopoulos emailed Lewandowski again to say the “Russian government” had “relayed” to him “that they are interested in hosting Mr. Trump.”

Lewandowski in June 2016 referred Papadopoulos to “the campaign supervisor,” according to court filings, a person Yahoo News identified on Monday as Sam Clovis, who joined Trump’s campaign in August 2015 as a co-chair and policy adviser. Clovis, a non-scientist and open skeptic of climate change, is Trump’s pick to be the USDA’s chief scientist.

According to the court documents, Clovis in August 2016 told Papadopoulos that he “would encourage” him to meet with Russian officials.

“Another high-ranking campaign official” named in the court documents matches the description of Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chair who surrendered to the FBI on Monday.

According to court documents, Manafort forwarded Papadopoulos’ email suggesting that Trump travel to Russia to “another campaign official.”

In an addendum to the email, Manafort suggested that “someone low level,” rather than Trump himself, should travel to Russia “so as not to send any signal.” According to the Washington Post, the other campaign official Manafort sent the email to was Rick Gates, his business associate.

Manafort and Gates on Monday pleaded not guilty to 12 counts against them, including conspiracy to launder money, acting as an unregistered agent of a foreign principal, conspiracy against the U.S. and failure to file reports on foreign bank accounts.

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Facebook will tell lawmakers that approximately 126 million people may have seen content generated and promoted by a Kremlin-linked Russian troll farm, according to several reports published late Monday.

CNN and the Washington Post reported, citing drafts of Facebook’s written testimony before Congress, that the website’s general counsel Colin Stretch will tell lawmakers that 29 million people directly received content generated by the Internet Research Agency, a Russian firm.

Stretch will tell lawmakers that “approximately 126 million people” may have seen that content, according to CNN and the Washington Post, though Facebook does not know how many people actually saw the posts in question.

Earlier in October, Facebook estimated that 10 million people saw advertisements the Internet Research Agency bought on the website over the course of the 2016 campaign.

According to CNN and the Washington Post, that number did not account for posts the Russian firm did not pay to promote.

Facebook, Twitter and Google said last week that they will send representatives to a Senate Judiciary subcommittee hearing scheduled to take place on Tuesday regarding Russian interference in the 2016 election.

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Grant him the serenity to accept the things he cannot change; courage to change the things he can; and a pithy quote to tweet whenever a new political shoe drops.

Former FBI director James Comey, whose firing started this chain of events, on Monday turned to the American theologian who composed the Serenity Prayer to respond to news that President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman and a former campaign adviser have been charged by special counsel Robert Mueller.

Comey posted the quote by Reinhold Niebuhr, an anti-Nazi Protestant theologian, from a rarely used Twitter account that reporter Ashley Feinberg identified in March.

The former FBI director’s friend Benjamin Wittes identified the account as Comey’s in October, on the same day that Comey posted a moody photograph of himself purportedly standing in the middle of an empty road in Iowa looking to the horizon.

Later Monday, Comey updated his Twitter account with a photograph of himself and the description: “Former FBI Director, current husband and father, writing and speaking about ethical leadership, wears running shoes to exercise, taller and funnier in person.”

According to a report Feinberg flagged in the College of William and Mary’s student newspaper, the Flat Hat, Comey wrote a senior thesis on Niebuhr and televangelist Jerry Falwell, hence his choice of moniker.

Comey’s abrupt termination in May led directly to Mueller’s appointment as special counsel overseeing the federal investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, so Comey’s tweet brought things full circle in more ways than one.

Mueller filed charges that were unsealed on Monday against Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his business associate Rick Gates, charging both with conspiracy to launder money, making false statements, conspiracy against the U.S. and failure to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts.

Former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos pleaded guilty earlier in October, in a case that was also unsealed on Monday, to making false statements to FBI agents about his communications with Russian nationals.

Some found yet another level of irony in Comey’s tweet in light of his shock announcement, 11 days before Election Day in 2016, of the “existence of emails that appear to be pertinent to the investigation” into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private server (Clinton has blamed her loss of the election in part on that announcement).

This post has been updated.

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Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) on Monday said the indictment of President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and a business associate demonstrates that the Department of Justice is “taking seriously its responsibility to enforce the Foreign Agents Registration Act” (FARA).

“While we don’t have any more information regarding the current status of the special counsel’s investigation other than what has already been made public, it’s good to see the Justice Department taking seriously its responsibility to enforce the Foreign Agents Registration Act,” Grassley said in a statement.

He said failure to register as a foreign agent under FARA is a “dirty little secret” for “lots of people across the political spectrum in Washington.”

“I’ve been raising concerns about lackluster enforcement of this foreign influence disclosure law for years now, regardless of administration or political party,” Grassley said. “It should be enforced fairly and consistently, regardless of politics or any other factor.”

Grassley said he has “been working on legislation to improve the Justice Department’s enforcement of FARA, and expect to introduce it very soon.”

“As always, it’s important to let our legal system run its course,” he said. “The Judiciary Committee is continuing its work to ensure that the Justice Department and FBI are functioning free from inappropriate influence, consistent with our constitutional oversight responsibility.”

An indictment was unsealed Monday charging Manafort and his business partner Rick Gates with 12 counts, including one of making a false and misleading FARA statement. Manafort and Gates were also charged with conspiracy to launder money, conspiracy against the U.S. and failure to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts.

Former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos pleaded guilty earlier in October to making false statements to FBI agents about his communications with Russian nationals. That case was also unsealed on Monday.

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President Donald Trump’s private lawyer Jay Sekulow on Monday distanced Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign from new charges brought by special counsel Robert Mueller.

Former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, along with a business associate, faces a 12-count indictment. And former campaign adviser George Papadopoulos pleaded guilty earlier in October to making false statements to FBI agents, according to documents unsealed Monday.

Sekulow on CNN said the allegations in the indictments against Manafort and his business associate Rick Gates “are focused on their business activities, not campaign activities, not campaign events.”

“The charges that have been leveled, Wolf, focus in on FARA registrations, tax evasion, money laundering,” he told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, referring to the Foreign Agents Registration Act. “I mean, these are serious charges, no question, but they’re not charges that involve the campaign.”

Sekulow said he is “not concerned” that Papadopoulos’ guilty plea could imply possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

“I’m not concerned about it because if you look at what, again, George Papadopoulos’s plea is, what the actual plea deal they entered into is, again, a false statement about timing as to when he talked to somebody about Russian activities,” Sekulow said.

“It wasn’t, by the way, these weren’t activities that were illegal. It wasn’t the conversation that they had,” he added.

Manafort and Gates were charged with conspiracy to launder money, false and misleading FARA (Foreign Agents Registration Act) statements, false statements, conspiracy against the U.S. and failure to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts.

Papadopoulos earlier in October pleaded guilty to making false statements to FBI agents about his contacts with Russian nationals. According to Papadopoulos’ statement of guilt, he regularly informed other members of the Trump campaign about those communications, which continued through at least August 2016.

Sekulow on Monday distanced Trump’s campaign from Papadopoulos.

“George Papadopoulos served on a committee. As you know, campaigns have committees with various people on it,” he said. “He was not a senior adviser to the Trump campaign.”

“If a campaign adviser to the candidate is trying to get ‘dirt on Hillary Clinton’ from Russians, is there anything wrong with that?” Blitzer asked.

“It’s not illegal to get opposition research,” Sekulow replied.

“I’m talking about from Russia. That’s from foreign adversaries from the United States,” Blitzer pressed.

“I don’t know if it was from Russians,” Sekulow replied. “The only thing I know is about George Papadopoulos, frankly, is what’s in the actual indictment. I don’t know George Papadopoulos, I have not spoken with his lawyers, so I don’t know the nature and the scope of his full engagement with his lawyers, what they were dealing with.”

Sekulow repeated that he is “not concerned” about the charges.

“We are not, I’m not concerned about this at all and no one else is either on my side of things,” he said.

“Is there any chance at all that the President will try to fire Robert Mueller?” Blitzer asked.

“No. You know, I saw a couple of people talking about that this morning, and the answer to that is no,” Sekulow replied. “The President is not interfering with the special counsel Mueller’s position. He’s not firing the special counsel.”

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House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) on Monday said charges brought against members of President Donald Trump’s campaign are not going to have any effect on Congress.

“I really don’t have anything to add, other than: Nothing is going to derail what we’re doing in Congress,” Ryan said on conservative Wisconsin talk radio station WTAQ.

Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, and his business associate Rick Gates, on Monday surrendered to the FBI and were charged with 12 counts, including conspiracy to launder money, conspiracy against the U.S. and making false statements.

Former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos pleaded guilty earlier in October to making false statements to FBI agents. The case against Papadopoulos was unsealed Monday.

Manafort, Gates and Papadopoulos were charged as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Asked to comment on the charges Monday afternoon, Ryan said, “I have nothing to add to the indictments, because I haven’t even read the indictments.”

He said it was “big news, but this is what you get from a special counsel.”

“They’ve made an indictment. I really have nothing to add because I haven’t even read it, so I’m not going to speculate on something I haven’t read,” Ryan said. “So there’s just no point in doing that.”

This post has been updated.

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President Donald Trump on Monday responded to news that his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort has been indicted on multiple charges, and surrendered to the FBI, by claiming that the charges are unrelated to his campaign.

“Sorry, but this is years ago, before Paul Manafort was part of the Trump campaign. But why aren’t Crooked Hillary & the Dems the focus?????” Trump tweeted.

Manafort and his business partner Rick Gates on Monday surrendered to the FBI and face 12 counts including allegations of conspiracy against the U.S., money laundering and making false statements.

Trump’s former campaign adviser George Papadopoulos pleaded guilty earlier in October to making false statements to FBI agents.

The case against Papadopoulos was unsealed Monday and, despite Trump’s claims, involves crimes committed during the 2016 presidential campaign. Some of the charges against Manafort and Gates also overlapped with Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.

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Top Democrats on Monday said charges against President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort show the importance of investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 election and the seriousness of the meddling.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said charges against Manafort and his business associate Rick Gates “show that the special counsel’s probe is ongoing in a very serious way.”

“The rule of law is paramount in America and the investigation must be allowed to proceed unimpeded,” Schumer said in a statement. “The President must not, under any circumstances, interfere with the special counsel’s work in any way. If he does so, Congress must respond swiftly, unequivocally, and in a bipartisan way to ensure that the investigation continues.”

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) called for “an outside, fully independent investigation” into Russian election meddling “and the involvement of Trump officials.”

“Even with an accelerating Special Counsel investigation inside the Justice Department, and investigations inside the Republican Congress, we still need an outside, fully independent investigation,” she said in a statement. “Defending the integrity of our democracy demands that Congress look forward to counter Russian aggression and prevent future meddling with our elections.”

Special counsel Robert Mueller, who is leading the federal investigation into Russian interference and any potential involvement by members of Trump’s campaign, on Friday filed the first official charges in his probe.

Manafort and Gates on Monday surrendered to the FBI. They face 12 counts, including conspiracy against the United States, conspiracy to launder money, false statements, false and misleading FARA (Foreign Agents Registration Act) statements and failure to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts.

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Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) on Sunday said President Donald Trump is being “too defensive” with his remarks dismissing Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Asked on NBC News’ “Meet the Press” about Trump’s remarks calling Russian meddling a Democratic “excuse for losing an election” and a “hoax,” Portman said he does not agree with Trump.

“Too defensive. I mean, look, he won,” he said. “And we ought to instead focus on the outrage that the Russians meddled in our elections.”

Portman said Russia interfered “long before Donald Trump.”

“They’re going to do it long after Donald Trump, if we don’t do something about it,” he said. “So we need to get to the bottom of it. And we need to go where the facts lead us.”

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House Oversight Committee chairman Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) on Sunday said he would encourage Republican colleagues who are calling for an end to special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election to “give the guy a chance to do his job.”

“Do you support any effort to either curtail or end the Mueller investigation?” Chris Wallace asked Gowdy on “Fox News Sunday.”

“I don’t, and I readily concede I’m in an increasingly small group of Republicans,” Gowdy said. “I think Bob Mueller has a really distinguished career of service to our country.”

CNN reported Friday night that Mueller filed the first official charges in his investigation into the Trump campaign and administration’s dealings with Russia.

Gowdy said Mueller is “a pretty apolitical guy.”

“I would encourage my Republican friends, give the guy a chance to do his job,” he said. “The result will be known by the facts, by what he uncovers.”

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