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Tierney Sneed

Tierney Sneed is a reporter for Talking Points Memo. She previously worked for U.S. News and World Report. She grew up in Florida and attended Georgetown University.

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Stormy Daniels’ attorney Michael Avenatti was sued Wednesday for breach of contract by his former law partner Jason Frank.

Frank alleges that Avenatti violated a settlement agreement that had been reached in December. Under the terms of the settlement, according to the complaint, Avenatti’s law firm was to pay Frank $4.85 million, with a $2 million installment due by May 14. Avenatti failed to wire the installment, the complaint alleges.

In a statement to TPM, Frank’s attorney Eric M. George said that Avenatti’s law firm “entered into a crystal clear written settlement agreement to resolve a prior lawsuit brought by Jason Frank, his former law partner.”

“The settlement agreement was approved by a federal court and was a condition of his law firm exiting bankruptcy,” he said. “Under this settlement, Mr. Avenatti’s law firm was required to pay Mr. Frank $4.85 million, all of which was personally guaranteed by Mr. Avenatti.”

Avenatti, in an email to TPM, said that Frank was “trying to capitalize on the situation.”

“The suit is completely bogus. Who cares?” Avenatti said.

Read the complaint below:

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Days before the New York Times reported a June 2016 meeting of Kremlin-linked figures and Donald Trump’s inner circle, an attorney for Donald Trump Jr. told another attendee of the meeting that there were no plans to go public about it, according to the attendee’s testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee. The attorney Alan Futerfas warned the attendee Ike Kaveladze that it might leak anyway, Kaveladze told the committee.

Kaveladze’s recollection of his June 2017 phone call with Futerfas was one of many new details — disclosed among thousands of pages of materials the committee released Wednesday — that capture how Trump-world attorneys scrambled to get the story straight about the combustible meeting well before it became public.

Their flurry of communications was set off by the discovery by Jared Kushner’s attorney of an email sent to Donald Trump Jr. and forwarded to Kushner in which they were promised information that would “incriminate” Hillary Clinton. The email was discovered, the Washington Post reported, as Kushner’s attorneys were preparing to respond to the inquiries of the various congressional committees probing Russia’s election meddling.

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The Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday morning released transcripts of the interviews the panel did with people involved with the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting, where top Trump campaign officials and family members met with Kremlin-linked figures.

Links to the transcripts and other materials are below:

Donald Trump, Jr.: interview transcript and exhibits.

Irakly “Ike” Kaveladze, an attendee of the meeting: interview transcript, supplemental interview transcript and exhibits.

Anatoli Samochornov , translator at meeting: interview transcript and exhibits.

Rinat Akhmetshin, Russian-American lobbyist at meeting: interview transcript and exhibits.

Rob Goldstone, Trump-linked publicist who set up meeting: interview transcript, supplemental interview transcript, exhibits and supplemental exhibits.

Paul Manafort (declined to be interviewed): notes from meeting.

Jared Kushner (declined to be interviewed): prepared statement for committee.

Natalia Veselnitskaya, Russian attorney at meeting: written responses and exhibits.

Glenn Simpson, founder of Fusion GPS, which produced Trump-Russia dossier: interview transcript, exhibits, clarification request and answer.

 

 

 

 

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Paul Manafort has struck out again in his efforts to get Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s case against him thrown out or curtailed on the basis that Mueller’s investigation was improper.

U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson on Tuesday denied Manafort’s request that she throw out the indictment brought in the criminal case against him in Washington D.C. She had previously thrown out a civil lawsuit Manafort filed against Mueller seeking to narrow his investigation. Manafort’s motion to dismiss the case Mueller brought against him in Virginia is still pending.

Manafort had argued that since the charges Mueller brought against him stemmed from Ukraine lobbying work predating the 2016 campaign, they were outside the scope of the Russian collusion investigation for which Mueller had been appointed. Jackson, in her 36-page opinion, rejected Manafort’s claims that the Ukraine business dealings were outside Mueller’s scope.

Referring to Mueller’s appointment order, she said that the charges fell “squarely within that portion of the authority granted to the Special Counsel that Manafort finds unobjectionable: the order to investigate ‘any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign.’ (Manafort had also challenged the provision of the appointment order that said that Mueller could investigate matters “that arose or may arise directly”  from the probe).

Additionally, Jackson said that the Justice Department regulations created for special counsel investigations are not enforceable for defendants in court.

She added said that it appeared, nonetheless, that Mueller had followed those regulations.

“He was appointed to take over an existing investigation, and it appears from the chronology and the written record that the matters contained in the Superseding Indictment were already a part of the ongoing inquiry that was lawfully transferred to the Special Counsel by the Department of Justice in May of 2017,” she said.

Manafort, a former chairman for the Trump campaign, has been charged in D.C. with money laundering, failure to register foreign lobbying and false statements. He has pleaded not guilty in that case, as well as in the charges that included bank fraud and tax fraud that were brought against him in Virginia.

Jackson said that she could have denied Manafort’s request to dismiss on the fact alone that Manafort’s Ukraine dealings fell within the appointment’s order

“Who had connections to the Russian government? Who attended meetings on behalf of the campaign? Given the combination of his prominence within the campaign and his ties to Ukrainian officials supported by and operating out of Russia, as well as to Russian oligarchs, Manafort was an obvious person of interest,” Jackson wrote, while pointing to news stories about Manafort’s business relationship with the Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska and about the Trump campaign’s move, while he was chair, to soften the GOP party platform’s stance towards Russia.

“Given what was being said publicly, the Special Counsel would have been remiss to ignore such an obvious potential link between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. Thus, the indictment falls well within the authority granted to the Special Counsel to conduct the ongoing investigation previously confirmed by the then-Director of the FBI before Congress,” the judge said.

She also brought up a once-secret August 2 memo Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein wrote specifically confirming Mueller’s authority to investigate Manafort’s Ukraine-related allegations.

“So even in the unlikely event that the Acting Attorney General and the Special Counsel never discussed what the investigation included at the time of the appointment, the singular event that defendant insists would be necessary to make his indictment valid – an explicit referral of the specific matter to the Special Counsel – has taken place,” Jackson said. In a footnote, she also shot down Manafort’s request to any other records memorializing internal Justice Department discussions about Mueller’s scope.

Read the opinion below:

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Special Counsel Robert Mueller obtained a secret order from a federal magistrate judge to suspend the statute of limitations on one of the charges he ultimately brought against Paul Manafort, a court filing revealed Monday evening. Mueller did not inform Manafort of the secret order until after the former Trump campaign chairman had requested that charge be thrown out, the filing said.

Mueller also disclosed in the Monday court filing that, as recently as April 30 of this year, the government of Cyprus was still turning over documents related to the special counsel’s Manafort investigation.

Because investigators were relying on a foreign government to produce certain evidence, Mueller last June asked a magistrate judge in Virginia to suspend the statute of limitations on the charge that Manafort failed to to file a Foreign Bank Account Report (FBAR), according to the filing. Mueller ultimately brought that charge against Manafort in February. The judge’s decision granting Mueller’s request to suspend the statute of limitations was previously under seal, but was included in Monday’s filings.

The revelation came in a response to Manafort’s motion to dismiss the FBAR charge in the Eastern District of Virginia, where he is also facing tax fraud and bank fraud charges. That case is in addition to the one brought in Washington, D.C., where Manafort has been charged with money laundering and failure to disclose foreign lobbying.

Manafort has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

“Because the government secured a timely and valid order in this District to suspend the running of the applicable statute of limitations until at least the date on which the Superseding Indictment was returned, Manafort’s motion should be denied,” Mueller said in his motion.

According to Monday’s filing, investigators first sought the documents from Cyprus in early June 2017. The request is called a mutual legal assistance treaty (MLAT), and it was filed through the Office of International Affairs of the United States Department of Justice.

Investigators were seeking “among other evidence, bank records, articles of incorporation, and witness interviews concerning certain of Manafort and Richard Gates’s bank accounts in Cyprus,” according to the filing.

Because the statute of limitations was set to run out on June 29 — five years after the June 29, 2012 deadline Manafort would have faced to file the foreign bank report with the U.S. Treasury — prosecutors on June 26 came to Judge Claude M. Hilton with their request, which was filed ex parte, meaning only the government’s side was aware of it, and not Manafort.

Cyprus’ production of evidence has taken months, according to the filing, and investigators wrote to Cypriot authorities in December informing them that they were still missing some of the Manafort documents they had requested. Cyprus’ government did not respond to the request until April 30 this year, according to Monday’s filing, well after Mueller’s grand jury in Virginia handed down indictments against Manafort in February.

“The bottom line, then, is that Cyprus had not fully satisfied the government’s official request when the original and Superseding Indictment of Manafort were returned on February 13 and 22, respectively,” Mueller said. “As a result, no ‘final action’ had yet occurred as of the date of the operative indictments, and the applicable statute of limitations remained suspended.”

Cyprus began turning over documents in September, 2017, according to the filing.

Mueller’s filing also revealed that, at the time Manafort requested that the FBAR charge be thrown out, the prosecutors had not yet informed him of their successful request to have the statute of limitations suspended.

“The government has now produced that Order to the defense, together with redacted versions of the MLAT requests themselves,” the filing said.

Read the full filing below:

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State-level Republicans are pouncing on the Trump administration’s move to add a citizenship question to the Census as a way to boost their electoral advantage in the next round of redistricting.

Missouri Republicans last week advanced a measure that would put on November’s ballot a constitutional amendment to require state legislative districts to be drawn using the number of citizens, rather than total population. Two Republicans defected from the otherwise 90-34 party line House vote.

Asked during a Friday floor debate over how Missouri would implement the requirement, the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Dean Plocher (R), pointed specifically to the fact that the citizenship question will be on the next Census.

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Andrii Artemenko, a Ukrainian politician who sought to put a peace plan for the region in front of the Trump administration early last year, will testify in person in front of special counsel Robert Mueller’s grand jury Friday, Politico reported.

The politician told Politico he was subpoenaed last week and plans to comply.

Artemenko, the New York Times reported last year, was put in touch with Felix Sater — who for a time worked on various Trump business deals — through a mutual friend. Sater, in turn, introduced Artemenko to his longtime pal and President Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen. Cohen left a version of the proposal on the desk of then-National Security Advisor Mike Flynn, according to the Times.

Flynn was fired soon after and is now cooperating with Mueller’s probe, having pleaded guilty to lying to FBI agents about his Russian contacts.

Cohen has denied leaving the proposal for Flynn and has claimed to have thrown it out, according to Politico.

Artemenko’s proposal would have required a withdrawal of Russian forces from eastern Ukraine and would have allowed Ukraine to lease Crimea to Russia for a 50 or 100 year team, the Times reported. It would have also lift U.S. sanctions imposed on Russia by the Obama administration.

The revelation of Artemenko’s back-channel efforts was a major scandal in Ukraine, causing him to be ousted from his political party and making him the subject of a treason investigation, according to Politico. He was stripped of his Ukrainian citizenship in May 2017.

 

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As primary elections get underway, we’re seeing new voter ID laws going into effect for the first time in various states. Iowa’s 2017 law got its “soft rollout” last Monday, when early voting began in the state’s June 5 primary. Last Tuesday’s West Virginia primary marked the state’s first election with a voter ID law.

Ohio’s primary, meanwhile, brought a major win for voting rights advocates. A gerrymandering-reform ballot initiative that encouraged bipartisan cooperation in drawing the state’s U.S. congressional maps passed overwhelmingly.

Tuesday also brought a defeat for voting rights activists in Oklahoma, where the state Supreme Court upheld the state’s 2010 voter ID law.

Texas has until Thursday to tell a federal judge how it will fix in issue in its voter registration system, which the judge previously ruled was in violation of the National Voter Registration Act. The state was sued by civil rights activists because it did not allow Texans to register to vote when they updated their driver’s license information online. U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia ruled early last month that Texas had violated the law, but only last Thursday did he issue his order, along with a 61-page opinion, giving the parties a week propose remedies.

In New Hampshire, Republican-backed proposals to tighten residency requirements — a move aimed at reducing the number of Democrat-leaning student voters in the state — remain alive, even as Gov. Chris Sununu (R) has shown skepticism.

A redistricting reform ballot initiative in Missouri will be up for a vote in November’s election, rather than in the August primary. Gov. Eric Greitens’ (R) decision to not shift the initiative to the primary has upset Republicans, who believe that the ballot measure could help boost Democratic turnout in the general election, when an important Senate race is also on the ballot. Greitens also declined to move to the primary two other ballot measures — a minimum-wage hike and a marijuana-legalization proposal — that could also mobilize Democratic voters. Some have speculated that his decision was motivated by spite for the Republican state legislators investigating him; their seats are also put at risk by a motivated a Democratic base.

Lawmakers at a congressional hearing on Census preparations were frustrated by the absence of John Gore, a top Trump DOJ official who was behind the push to add the citizenship question. Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-SC) said that he’d be willing to subpoena Gore.

In Kansas, the ACLU is alleging that the state is still failing to follow a judge’s order temporarily blocking its proof-of-citizenship voter registration requirement. The requirement was halted before the 2016 election while the lawsuit challenging it went to full trial this spring. In a letter to Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, the ACLU pointed out that the websites of Kansas’ three largest counties describe the requirement as if it is still in effect; so does Kobach’s office’s website, where guides for voter registration also still mention the requirement. A decision on the merits of the case is expected in the next few weeks.

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Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) said he would follow what Republican in 2016 dubbed the “Biden rule” — that Supreme Court vacancies open within a year before a presidential election shouldn’t be filled until after the presidential election — if it happened before the 2020 election. He added that President Trump and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) would not agree with the Biden rule if the vacancy opened under Trump.

Grassley’s comments came during an appearance on Iowa Public Radio Friday, where he was asked  if Trump would agree with holding the seat open for a vacancy that occurred in 2019 or 2020.

“It would be the one year of the ’20, if you want to follow the pattern of the Biden rule, and I’d follow that. That would just be the 12 months or, let’s say, the 10 months before the election 2020, no he wouldn’t agree with that,” Grassley said.

He was asked if McConnell would agree.

“No, he would not agree with that,” Grassley said.

Republicans conjured up the “Biden rule” when Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died in February 2016, and they sought to block President Obama’s nominee, appeals court judge Merrick Garland. Grassley, whose committee oversees judicial confirmation proceedings, did not grant Garland a hearing. McConnell released a statement declaring that Republicans would keep the seat open through the 2016 election hours after Scalia’s death.

They titled the justification the “Biden rule” because then-Vice President Joe Biden, when he was a Senate Judiciary chairman, gave a speech discouraging then-President Bush from filling any hypothetical vacancies on the court before an election. Before Scalia’s death, there wasn’t much precedent — if any — for a vacancy opening up the year before an election when the party opposite the President control the Senate.

A McConnell spokesman declined to comment, while the White House didn’t respond to TPM’s inquiry.

TPM reached out to Grassley’s spokesman on the Judiciary Committee Taylor Foy when a Iowa Public Radio producer first previewed the comments in a tweet.

Foy said that Grassley was offering “his opinion of how folks may feel about the Biden rule.”

“He certainly wasn’t speaking for the President or the Majority Leader,” Foy said.

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Michael Cohen was aware of and discussed accusations of violent behavior against ex-New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, a lawyer alleged in a letter filed Friday morning in the litigation over the FBI raid of Cohen’s office, home, and hotel room.

Peter Gleason, a New York attorney who is not a party to the case, said in the letter that two woman came to him — one around 2012 and another in 2013 — alleging they had been “sexually victimized” by Schneiderman, who stepped down as attorney general this week amid allegations that he was physically violent with multiple woman he dated. (Schneiderman has denied the claims.)

Gleason said that former tabloid reporter Steve Dunleavy recommended he bring the evidence to Donald Trump. Gleason infers that Dunleavy did bring them to Trump-world, as the lawyer said Cohen, Trump’s longtime personal attorney, called him and they discussed the allegations.

Gleason told the New York Times that his conversation with Cohen happened shortly before Trump tweeted vague insinuations about Schneidman.

“Weiner is gone, Spitzer is gone — next will be lightweight A.G. Eric Schneiderman. Is he a crook? Wait and see, worse than Spitzer or Weiner,” Trump tweeted in 2013.

Gleason said in the letter that he advised the two woman not to bring their allegations to law enforcement because he claimed that Manhattan prosecutors had ignored corruption claims he had brought to them in the past. He told the New York Times that Cohen suggested to him that if Trump ran for New York governor, as he was contemplating at the time, he’d seek to bring light to the allegations against Schneiderman.

Gleason is now asking the U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood — who is overseeing the handling of materials seized from Cohen’s residence, office and hotel room — to place a protective order on any materials pertaining to his conversations with Cohen about the allegations. Wood has already appointed a special master to sort through records seized by the FBI potentially protected by attorney-client privilege.

Wood on Friday afternoon ordered that Gleason file a legal memorandum supporting his request.

Gleason did not respond to an email and text from TPM seeking more information about his claims. Cohen, Cohen’s attorney, the White House, and the private attorney representing President Trump in the Cohen search warrant matter also did not respond to TPM’s inquiries.

Gleason told the Times that the two woman who came to him were seperate that the four woman referenced in the New Yorker report that broke the allegations against Schneiderman this week.

Ronan Farrow, whom with Jane Mayer, reported the New Yorker story, denied on Twitter that any of his leads came from Gleason or Trump associates.

Gleason, a former police officer and firefighter, is perhaps best well known for his representation of Anna Gristina, who was prosecuted for running a prostitution ring that catered to Manhattan’s elite. She admitted to the allegations in a 2012 plea deal.

Gleason has also repeatedly run against Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, including last year. Additionally, Gleason is known for his collection of Elvis Presley memorabilia in his $2.5 million TriBeCa apartment.

Read the Gleason letter below:

Update: This story has been updated to include claims Gleason made in an interview with the New York Times, as well as an order from the judge overseeing the Michael Cohen matter.

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