Trump Belittles ‘Low Level’ Adviser Who Tried to Connect With Russia – New York Times

WASHINGTON — President Trump on Tuesday tried to diminish the significance of a former foreign policy adviser, who admitted to lying to the F.B.I. about how, during last year’s presidential campaign, he sought to meet with Russians offering “dirt” on Hillary Clinton based on purloined emails.

In his first comment on this aspect of the case being developed by the special counsel investigation, Mr. Trump did not deny that the foreign policy adviser, George Papadopoulos, worked to collaborate with Russia. He simply brushed off his significance and focused on the fact that Mr. Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to lying to the F.B.I. to cover up the contacts with Russia.

“Few people knew the young, low level volunteer named George, who has already proven to be a liar,” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter.

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As for the indictment of his former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, the president repeated that the crimes alleged took place outside the context of the election contest.

As he has repeatedly in recent days, Mr. Trump sought to turn attention to Democrats, pointing to the resignation of Tony Podesta, the powerhouse Democratic lobbyist who also faces scrutiny by Mr. Mueller and whose brother, John D. Podesta, was Mrs. Clinton’s campaign chairman.

“The biggest story yesterday, the one that has the Dems in a dither, is Podesta running from his firm,” Mr. Trump wrote. “What he know about Crooked Dems is earth shattering. He and his brother could Drain The Swamp, which would be yet another campaign promise fulfilled. Fake News weak!”

Mr. Manafort and his deputy, Rick Gates, were charged in a 12-count indictment with a series of money laundering, tax evasion and foreign lobbying crimes stemming from work for pro-Russian political leaders in Ukraine. While the crimes alleged began years before Mr. Trump’s campaign, the indictment asserted that Mr. Manafort’s scheme to defraud continued through last year until early this year.

Mr. Papadopoulos was named by Mr. Trump in March 2016 as one of five foreign policy advisers. While the president and his team now seek to minimize Mr. Papadopoulos’s importance, at the time Mr. Trump described him in flattering terms. “He’s an energy and oil consultant, excellent guy,” he told The Washington Post.

According to a statement of offense signed as part of his guilty plea, Mr. Papadopoulos admitted that he spent months last year cultivating contacts in an effort to arrange meetings between Mr. Trump’s campaign and Russian government officials.

Mr. Papadopoulos said a London-based professor with extensive Russian contacts introduced him to a woman described as “Putin’s niece” and told him the Russians had “dirt” on Mrs. Clinton based on “thousands of emails” of hers. (The woman was not actually related to President Vladimir V. Putin.)

The professor, identified on Monday by a Senate aide as Joseph Mifsud, told Mr. Papadopoulos about the emails in April 2016, three months before WikiLeaks released nearly 20,000 hacked Democratic emails. Mr. Papadopoulos kept senior campaign officials informed about his efforts and they encouraged him but made clear they wanted to keep some distance publicly. “It should be someone low level in the campaign so as not to send any signal,” a top campaign official wrote in an email at the time.

Mr. Papadopoulos was not charged with any crime for making those efforts but instead pleaded guilty to lying to F.B.I. agents about the matter. He was arrested secretly in late July and has been cooperating ever since with the team of the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III.

“George was a low-level volunteer who might have attended a meeting of the foreign policy advisory team, the one meeting that took place but he was not a person who was involved with the day-to-day operations of the campaign, or a person who I recall interacting with on a regular basis at all,” Corey Lewandowski, who ran the campaign before Mr. Manafort, said on the “Today” show on NBC on Tuesday.

Mr. Lewandowski said he did not learn about the hacked Democratic emails until they became public. “To the best of my knowledge, absolutely not,” he said. “When I found out about that, I found out about it through public press reports.” He added that he has not spoken with the F.B.I. but would be “happy to do that unequivocally.”

Mr. Papadopoulos’s efforts are the second known effort by a member of Mr. Trump’s team to obtain damaging information about Mrs. Clinton from the Russians. Several weeks after the meeting where Mr. Papadopoulos learned about the Clinton emails, Donald Trump Jr., Mr. Manafort and Jared Kushner, the future president’s son-in-law, met with a Russian lawyer after being promised incriminating information about Mrs. Clinton from the Russian government.

They said later that the meeting did not yield such information, but the president has defended their decision to take the meeting as a routine opposition research. The original statement to The New York Times by Donald Trump Jr. describing the meeting, crafted with the participation of the president, omitted the promise of damaging information. Mr. Mueller is now looking into that statement.

In Moscow’s initial reaction to Mr. Mueller’s indictments, Russian state-run news media and government representatives on Tuesday emphasized that the accusations laid out against Mr. Manafort did not mention Russia. Instead, media reports highlighted that he was accused for his actions in Ukraine. But his work in Ukraine was for the pro-Russian party of President Viktor F. Yanukovych, who was driven out of office by street protests in 2014.

Dmitri S. Peskov, the Kremlin’s spokesman, called all accusations of Russia’s involvement in last year’s election “laughable, unqualified, groundless and unsubstantiated.”

“From what we have read in the media and seen in the statements by participants of this process, so far Russia was not mentioned in any way in the accusations, other countries were,” Mr. Peskov said at his regular news briefing.

“Moscow has never felt guilty to feel vindicated now,” Mr. Peskov said. “We were always puzzled about these groundless and unsubstantiated accusations of Russia’s alleged involvement in American elections,” he said. “We have resolutely denied them from the beginning and we deny them now.”

American social media companies told Congress on Monday that Russia was prolific in its efforts to reach American voters last year to sow discord. Russian agents published inflammatory posts that reached 126 million users on Facebook, published more than 131,000 messages on Twitter and uploaded over 1,000 videos to Google’s YouTube service, according to prepared remarks obtained by The Times.

Follow Peter Baker on Twitter: @peterbakernyt.

Ivan Nechepurenko contributed reporting from Moscow.

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Spain awaits next move by ousted Catalan leader from Belgium – Reuters

BRUSSELS/MADRID (Reuters) – Catalonia’s ousted leader Carles Puigdemont on Tuesday accepted the snap election called by Spain’s central government when it took control of the region to block its push for independence.

Carles Puigdemont arrives for a news conference in Brussels, Belgium, October 31, 2017. REUTERS/Eric Vidal

Puigdemont, speaking at a news conference in Brussels, also said he was not seeking asylum in Belgium after Spain’s state prosecutor recommended charges for rebellion and sedition be brought against him. He would return to Catalonia when given “guarantees” by the Spanish government, he said.

Puigdemont’s announcement that he would accept the regional election on Dec. 21 signalled that the Madrid government had for now at least gained the upper hand in the protracted struggle over Catalonia, a wealthy northeastern region that already had considerable autonomy.

Resistance to Madrid’s imposition of direct control on Catalonia failed to materialise at the start of the week and the secessionist leadership is in disarray.

Spain’s Constitutional Court on Tuesday blocked the unilateral declaration of independence made by the regional parliament on Friday – a largely symbolic move that gained no traction and led to the assembly’s dismissal by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy less than an hour after it was made.

“I ask the Catalan people to prepare for a long road. Democracy will be the foundation of our victory,” Puigdemont said in Brussels, where he showed up after dropping out of sight over the weekend.

The Spanish government has said Puigdemont was welcome to take his chances and stand in the election, called by Rajoy as a way to resolve the stand-off.

Rajoy, who has taken an uncompromising stance throughout the battle of wills over Catalonia, is gambling on anti-independence parties taking power in the regional parliament and putting the brakes on the independence drive. Puigdemont will hope a strong showing for the independence camp will reboot the secessionists after a tumultuous several weeks.

Although Puigdemont did not say when he would return to Spain and denied he was fleeing from justice, he could be called to testify before the court on the rebellion and sedition charges as soon as the end of the week.

The Supreme Court also began processing rebellion charges against Catalan parliament speaker Carme Forcadell and senior leaders on Tuesday.

CATALONIA SPLIT

The political crisis, Spain’s gravest since the return of democracy in the late 1970s, was triggered by an unofficial independence referendum held in Catalonia on Oct. 1.

Though it was declared illegal by Spanish courts and less than half Catalonia’s eligible voters took part, the pro-secessionist regional government said the vote gave it a mandate for independence.

European nations including Britain, Germany and France have backed Rajoy and rejected an independent Catalan state, although some have called for dialogue between the opposing sides.

Sacked Catalan government officials (L-R) Meritxell Serret, Joaquim Forn, Clara Ponsati, Carles Puigdemont, Meritxell Borras, Antoni Comin and Dolors Bassa, attend a news conference at the Press Club Brussels Europe in Brussels, Belgium, October 31, 2017. REUTERS/Yves Herman

Puigdemont, Vice President Oriol Junqueras and other Catalan leaders had said previously they would not accept their dismissal. But their respective parties, PdeCat and Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya, said on Monday they would take part in the election, a tacit acceptance of direct rule from Madrid.

The struggle has divided Catalonia itself and caused deep resentment across the rest of Spain, although separatist sentiment persists in the Basque Country and some other areas.

Two opinion polls showed support for independence may have started to wane. A Sigma Dos survey published in El Mundo showed 33.5 percent of Catalans were in favour of independence, while a Metroscopia poll published by El Pais put that number at 29 percent. That compared with 41.1 percent in July, according to an official survey carried out by the Catalan government.

Opponents of secession say a majority of Catalans want to remain part of Spain and did not take part in the referendum.

Slideshow (6 Images)

DIM HOPES

Despite his dash to the European Union’s power centre, Puigdemont’s hopes of engaging the bloc in his cause seem dim. Member states lined up after Friday’s independence declaration to assert their support for Madrid. EU institutions in Brussels say they will deal only with Madrid and that the dispute remains an internal matter.

“Our position remains unchanged,” EU Commission spokeswoman Mina Andreeva said in Brussels on Tuesday.

But some analysts say the dispute is not going to disappear anytime soon despite the present state of play.

“Spain is heading for a period of disruption, and like the UK and Brexit, having its policy agenda dominated by one political issue while other key challenges fade into the background,” said Raj Badiani, an economist at IHS Markit in London.

“A more tangible impact from the crisis could evolve from early 2018, with the uncertainty set to build as Catalans push harder for a legally binding referendum.”  

The government’s move to impose direct rule received the backing of several influential Catalan business lobbies, which called on firms to stay in the region. The chaos has prompted an exodus of businesses from Catalonia, which contributes about a fifth of Spain’s economy, the fourth-largest in the euro zone.

Spain’s IBEX fell slightly as Puigdemont began speaking in Brussels but then rose again.

Some people in Barcelona displayed exasperation at the imbroglio.

“It’s a farcical and completely ridiculous situation,” said Ernesto Hernandez Busto, a 42-year-old editor. “This extreme nationalism, this separatism, has taken Catalonia to the most absurd situation and the worst inconvenience we have had in the last 40 years.”

Additional reporting by Paul Day and Sonya Dowsett in Madrid, Lucasta Bath and Clement Rossignol in Belgium, Writing by Angus MacSwan,; Editing by Janet Lawrence

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The Daily 202: 10 takeaways from Mueller’s shock-and-awe gambit – Washington Post

With Breanne Deppisch and Joanie Greve

THE BIG IDEA: The ghost of Paul Manafort haunts the White House this Halloween.

Since President Trump likes alliterative nicknames, maybe the special counsel’s should be Methodical Mueller.

Unveiling the first batch of criminal allegations to come from probes into possible Russian influence in the American political system, Robert S. Mueller III proved Monday that he is not messing around. The former FBI director has played his cards carefully since his appointment in May. He’s clearly turning over every rock to see what crawls out from underneath. Unafraid to play hardball, he’s being strategic in showing his hand.

You surely know the news by now: Manafort, the former Trump campaign chairman, and his longtime business partner, Rick Gates, were charged in a 12-count indictment with conspiracy to launder money, making false statements and other charges in connection with their work advising a Russia-friendly political party in Ukraine.

But the biggest bombshell of Monday — the real October Surprise — is that former Trump foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos agreed to a plea deal and admitted to making a false statement to FBI investigators about his contacts with foreigners claiming to have high-level Russian connections.

“The charges are striking for their breadth, touching all levels of the Trump campaign and exploring the possible personal, financial wrongdoing of those involved, as well as what appeared to be a concerted effort by one campaign official to arrange a meeting with Russian officials,” Matt Zapotosky, Rosalind S. Helderman, Carol D. Leonnig and Spencer S. Hsu write in our lead story.

“[Mueller’s] opening bid is a remarkable show of strength,” Susan Hennessey and Benjamin Wittes explain on their Lawfare blog. “He has a cooperating witness from inside the campaign’s interactions with the Russians. And he is alleging not mere technical infractions of law but astonishing criminality on the part of Trump’s campaign manager, a man who also attended the Trump Tower meeting. Any hope the White House may have had that the Mueller investigation might be fading away vanished . . . Things are only going to get worse from here.”

— Here are 10 takeaways from Mueller’s opening gambit:

1. We now know that multiple members of the Trump campaign at least entertained the idea of getting help from the Russians.

The DNC email system was hacked in March 2016. In April, Papadopoulos began communicating with someone he believed to be linked to the Russian government. By July, Trump was publicly encouraging the Kremlin to release Hillary Clinton’s emails. “The White House can no longer claim honestly (if it ever could) that the investigation into Russian collusion is nonexistent,” Jennifer Rubin notes.

This comes against the backdrop of the June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower that we already knew about, which came after Donald Trump Jr. emailed that he loved the idea of getting dirt from Russia about Hillary Clinton.

“At this point, it would be a truly remarkable coincidence if two entities that had so many ties to each other, that had so much information about what the other was doing, and that were working so hard toward the same goal never found a way to coordinate,” Vox’s Ezra Klein writes.

2. Sam Clovis is about to be in the hot seat.

The former Iowa radio host and social conservative activist is awaiting Senate confirmation to serve in the Agriculture Department’s top scientific post. His confirmation hearing is expected next month.

Victoria Toensing, an attorney for Clovis, confirmed to our Rosalind Helderman that several references in court filings to “the campaign supervisor” refer to the former radio host from Iowa, who served as Trump’s national campaign co-chairman.

“At one point, Papadopoulos emailed Clovis and other campaign officials about a March 24, 2016, meeting he had in London with a professor, who had introduced him to the Russian ambassador and a Russian woman he described as ‘Putin’s niece,’” Helderman reports. “The group had talked about arranging a meeting ‘between us and the Russian leadership to discuss U.S.-Russia ties under President Trump,’ Papadopoulos wrote. (Papadopoulos later learned that the woman was not Putin’s niece, and while he expected to meet the ambassador, he never did, according to filings.) Clovis responded that he would ‘work it through the campaign,’ adding, ‘great work,’ according to court documents.

“In August 2016, Clovis responded to efforts by Papadopoulos to organize an ‘off the record’ meeting with Russian officials. ‘I would encourage you’ and another foreign policy adviser to the campaign to ‘make the trip, if it is feasible,’ Clovis wrote. Toensing said Clovis ‘always vigorously opposed any Russian trip for Donald Trump and/or the campaign.’ She said his responses to Papadopoulos were courtesy by ‘a polite gentleman from Iowa.’”

Will Trump stand by him?

3. Papadopoulos is helping the government, but we still don’t know how much.

Papadopoulos has been working with Mueller’s team for three months now, and he is described in court documents as a “proactive cooperator.”

Former public defender and professor Seth Abramson explains why that term is probably bad news for others in Trump’s orbit: “Prosecutors often require a defendant to perform cooperative services for the government well in *advance* of his or her formal plea,” he tweeted. “The reason for this is that — via both ‘proffer’ and sometimes actual performance — a defendant must show they’re of value to the government. So there is *every* reason to think that Papadopoulos was wired for sound not long after his arrest on July 27th, 2017 at Dulles airport. For Papadopoulos to get his October 5th plea, one of two things had to be true: (a) the feds had already got good sound from him; or… ..(b) he’d made a sufficient proffer establishing that he *could* get good sound for them — valuable evidence — shortly after October 5th.”

Former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, who Trump fired earlier this year, told Politico Magazine: “Hard to tell, but the George Papadopoulos guilty plea tells us (a) Mueller is moving fast (b) the Mueller team keeps secrets well (c) more charges should be expected and (d) this team takes obstruction and lying very, very seriously. That should be of concern to some people.”

From the Toronto Star’s Washington reporter:

Papadopoulos is described as “proactive cooperator.” Former prosecutor tells me that sometimes means “wore a wire.” https://t.co/nQyVCbXy6x

— Daniel Dale (@ddale8) October 30, 2017

President Trump and first lady Melania Trump hand out treats to the children of military families for Halloween. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

4. The updated timeline raises a host of new questions about what Trump knew and when he knew it.

First, was Trump present when Papadopoulos said that he could set up a Trump-Putin meeting? “The indictment says Papadopoulos attended a ‘national security meeting’ about March 31 with ‘Trump and other foreign policy advisers for the campaign,” Aaron Blake notes. “It says Papadopoulos told ‘the group’ that he had connections and could arrange a Trump-Putin meeting. The text doesn’t technically say whether Trump was present when this claim was made. But if he was, it would render Trump’s own denials of his campaign’s contact with Russia pretty dishonest.”

Second, did Trump know Papadopoulos had been interviewed by the FBI when he called James Comey in January to allegedly ask for the FBI director’s loyalty? 

From an alumnus of Obama’s Justice Department:

The FBI interview where Papadopolous lied about his Russia contacts came on the same day, Jan. 27, Trump asked Comey for a loyalty pledge.

— Matthew Miller (@matthewamiller) October 30, 2017

Robert Mueller testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee. (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images) 

5. Mueller is playing hardball as he tries to flip Manafort and Gates.

Manafort and Gates pleaded not guilty in D.C. federal court. A judge set a $10 million unsecured bond for Manafort and a $5 million unsecured bond for Gates. They will be on home confinement.

“The criminal charge of being an unregistered foreign agent — a so-called ‘FARA violation’ — against Paul Manafort is a rare crime, used just four times (all successfully) in the last decade. Normally, it’s allowed to be just a civil penalty, so the fact that Mueller has deployed it as a criminal one means he’s going for maximum leverage,” Garrett M. Graff explains on Wired.

A former Watergate assistant special prosecutor, Nick Akerman, said the court filings “all spell bad news for Trump” because he cannot see any strong defense to the Manafort indictment. “The only defense that you’ve got is to go in there and start singing like a canary to avoid jail time,” he told our colleagues. “And once he starts singing, one of the tunes is bound to be Donald Trump.”

“Manafort may now be facing the prospect of years in prison, and the indictment seems meticulously rooted in facts and evidence that Robert Mueller accumulated; if I were Manafort, I’d be very worried,” adds New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof. “Presumably that was the intention, and one purpose of the indictment is to gain leverage to persuade Manafort to testify against others in exchange for leniency. If Manafort pursues his self-interest, my bet is that he’ll sing. That then can become a cascade: He testifies against others, who in turn are pressured to testify against still others. And all this makes it more difficult to protect the man at the center if indeed he has violated the law.”

6. Mueller’s moves are designed to send a message to everyone else entangled in the probe that he’s not messing around.

Devlin Barrett, Sari Horwitz and Ellen Nakashima explain why in a story that quotes several legal experts: “This is the way you kick off a big case,” said white-collar defense lawyer Patrick Cotter, who formerly worked alongside the man spearheading the prosecution of Manafort and Gates. “Oh, man, they couldn’t have sent a message any clearer if they’d rented a revolving neon sign in Times Square. And the message isn’t just about Manafort. It’s a message to the next five guys they talk to. And the message is: ‘We are coming, and we are not playing, and we are not bluffing.’”

“Mueller’s team controlled the selection of facts in the Papadoupolous plea. Three messages, at least, shaped their choice,” author and former Post reporter Barton Gellman‏ explained in a series of tweets: “One: Mueller knows things, some of them about Russia, and has proof. He’s warning other campaign witnesses against perjury. Two: He’s not saying exactly what he knows or how. Uncertainty there inspires dread, may flush out evidence he doesn’t even know about. Three: Early cooperation will save you from the worst. Mueller could have taken a lot harsher approach to the Papadopoulos facts. Classic leverage … He may know what you’re hiding. He’ll scorch you & yours if you lie. Spill and he’ll go easier. Don’t wait too long.”

Robert Mueller departs Capitol Hill after a closed-door meeting. (Andrew Harnik/AP)

7. Unsealing the guilty plea was an insurance policy that makes it politically untenable for Trump to fire Mueller.

Most congressional Republicans stayed silent in the face of the news (more on that below), but a handful of key lawmakers on the right telegraphed that firing Mueller would cross an unacceptable red line. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said in a statement said “it’s important to let our legal system run its course”: “It’s good to see the Justice Department taking seriously its responsibility to enforce [FARA].”

“He’s not going to be fired by the president,” Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said of Mueller. “Because I know him. He knows that’d be a stupid move.”

Trump lawyers Ty Cobb, John Dowd and Jay Sekulow, who have each advised the president to use caution in his public response to the mounting investigation, all sought on Monday to tamp speculation that Trump is even considering firing Mueller. “Nothing about today’s events alters anything related to our engagement with the special counsel, with whom we continue to cooperate,” Cobb, the White House lawyer overseeing Russia matters, told reporters. “There are no discussions and there is no consideration being given to terminating Mueller.” Sekulow, one of Trump’s outside lawyers, also echoed that response: “There’s no firing-Robert-Mueller discussions,” he said. Asked whether Trump is considering pardons for Manafort or Gates, Cobb said: “No, no, no. That’s never come up and won’t come up.”

To be sure, that does not mean he won’t be tempted. Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon “is pushing Trump to take action against Mueller, urging him in particular to defund the investigation … a move that would defang Mueller without the president formally firing him,” Politico’s Eliana Johnson reports. “Longtime Trump confidant Roger Stone told the Daily Caller that for the president appointing another special counsel — this one to investigate [the Obama-era uranium deal] — was his ‘only chance for survival.’”

8. Yesterday’s indictments will contribute to a climate of fear in the White House that makes it harder for Trump and his staff to be effective.

“Away from the podium, Trump staffers fretted privately over whether Manafort or Gates might share with Mueller’s team damaging information about other colleagues,” Robert Costa, Philip Rucker, and Ashley Parker report. “They expressed concern in particular about Gates because he has a young family, may be more stretched financially than Manafort and continued to be involved in Trump’s political operation and had access to the White House, including attending West Wing meetings after Trump was sworn in. ‘The walls are closing in,’ said one senior Republican in close contact with top staffers … ‘Everyone is freaking out.’”

9. Mueller has proven that his investigation is not partisan.

Democratic uber-lobbyist Tony Podesta abruptly quit his post atop the Podesta Group, the capital’s eighth highest-grossing lobbying firm, just hours after the first indictments were unsealed. The indictments of Manafort and Gates raised questions about the work Podesta’s firm did with Manafort to improve the image of the Ukrainian government.

“Tony’s Podesta Group is one of two firms described in Monday’s indictment as having been recruited by Manafort and Gates to lobby on behalf of Viktor Yanukovych, the former president of Ukraine who fled to Moscow in 2014,” Marc Fisher and Carol Leonnig report. “Federal prosecutors have accused Manafort of creating a scheme to mislead the government about his secret work for a Ukrainian political leader. Both the Podesta Group and the other firm, Mercury Public Affairs, have said they were hired to lobby for a European nonprofit based in Brussels trying to polish Ukraine’s image in the West. But behind the scenes, prosecutors allege, the real client was a political party led by the former Ukraine president, who was friendly with Russia.”

10. The indictments cast fresh doubts on Trump’s judgment and his discernment in surrounding himself with good people.

It was widely and publicly known that Manafort was one sketchy hombre when Trump hired him to run his campaign last year. BuzzFeed’s Ben Smith has a good primer on “the open secrets of the Russia story,” detailing the long and well-known history of Manafort and Gates’s work abroad.

Manafort joined the campaign with his own reasons to help the Russians, separate from Trump’s agenda. While the current charges against Manafort do not focus on attempts to collude with the Russian government, his interests and Russian interests overlapped on several occasions while serving on the campaign. (Philip Bump lists some.)  

Finally, and perhaps most significantly, Mike Pence is only vice president today because Manafort persuaded Trump to pick him. It was very clear last summer that the then-Indiana governor would not have gotten tapped for the ticket if Manafort hadn’t prodded the GOP nominee.

HOW IT’S PLAYING:

— Today’s print edition:

The front page of tomorrow’s Washington Post pic.twitter.com/vhKRy8cGqy

— Washington Post (@washingtonpost) October 31, 2017

— Across the mainstream media:

  • Our Michael Kranish and Tom Hamburger have more on Manafort’s lavish lifestyle, as highlighted in the indictment. “In all, out of more than $75 million that flowed through the offshore accounts, more than $18 million was ‘laundered,’ with income concealed from the U.S. government, and was used in part to cover Manafort’s ‘lavish lifestyle.’”
  • Los Angeles Times: “In Beverly Hills’ ultra-luxury shopping district, it’s easy to get sticker shock. Still, some merchants expressed disbelief that someone could spend that kind of money on clothes in a four-year period.”
  • David Stern and Andrew Roth in Ukraine: “The news of [Manafort’s] indictment on Monday elicited cheers in Ukraine, where activists and politicians seeking to root out political corruption had seethed at the American political operative’s counsel to the country’s ousted leader, Viktor Yanukovych.”
  • New York Times: “Rick Gates, a Protégé of Paul Manafort, Is Indicted Alongside Him.”

  • Politico: “Inside White House, a sense of both danger and relief in Mueller’s first moves.”

  • The Atlantic’s David Frum: “Staying Silent May Backfire Spectacularly on Republican Lawmakers.”

  • The New Yorker’s John Cassidy: “Trump’s relatively muted reaction doesn’t mean that the White House’s ongoing disinformation and propaganda campaign against Mueller is over. As the special counsel’s investigation continues, this effort will surely expand and intensify, with conspiracy theories about Hillary Clinton continuing to feature prominently. And, judging by the last few days, plenty of Republicans on Capitol Hill will be willing to join in this great diversion.”
  • Bloomberg’s Eli Lake explains why Papadopoulos’s search for Russian dirt on Clinton differs from the Clinton campaign’s funding of the Trump dossier in key ways: “Trump supporters would seem justified in asking, why is it permissible for Russians to help Democrats and not permissible for Russians to help Republicans? … The Russians tried to sow chaos in the election by trolling both the left and the right on social media with fake news. But when Russian hackers distributed stolen emails on the internet, they came from only one party: the Democrats.”

House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell appear together. (Melina Mara/The Washington Post)

— On Capitol Hill: Senate Republicans largely avoided weighing in on the Russia investigation or the substance of the charges — deferring questions instead to Mueller. “That’s [Mueller’s] wheelhouse, not ours,” Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Tex.) said. “I probably know less than you,” Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) said, declaring that he was “way behind on that issue.” (Karoun Demirjian and Sean Sullivan)

  • Mitch McConnell (Ky.) left his “press conference” on judicial nominations before reporters could ask him about the indictments.
  • Paul Ryan (Wis.) avoided the subject in a radio interview, except to say that it wouldn’t interfere with House Republicans’ efforts to overhaul the tax system.
  • Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr (N.C.) said “nothing that happened” on Monday will change his approach to the investigation. “The special counsel has found a reason on criminal violations to indict two individuals and I will leave that up to the special counsel to make that determination,” he said in a statement.

— On right-wing media: 

  • “The Paul Manafort indictment is much ado about nothing . . . except as a vehicle to squeeze Manafort, which is special counsel Robert Mueller’s objective — as we have been arguing for three months,” Andrew C. McCarthy argues on National Review.
  • “They don’t have anything on Trump,” Laura Ingraham said on Fox News. “If they had something on Trump, that would be the indictment today. … I mean, we don’t know anything more than we see in these 31 pages, but as far as a smoking gun that in any way casts aspersions on Donald Trump — it’s a nothing-burger.”
  • “If there was collusion, any evidence or even an allegation has yet to be revealed by the special counsel,” Fox News’s chief White House correspondent John Roberts noted.
  • Fox’s Sean Hannity suggested a new Clinton investigation on his show.
  • New York Post: “Robert Mueller’s big catch was low-level, unpaid intern.”

— On left-wing media:

  • Vanity Fair: “The White House’s Counter-Theory Of Russian Collusion Is Falling Apart.”
  • The Daily Beast:“Push to Protect Robert Mueller From President Trump Fizzles in Congress.”
  • Slate: “The Soothing Ritual of a Federal Arraignment.”

— How it played on the late-night shows:

“I know it’s almost Halloween, but it really feels more like Christmas,” Stephen Colbert said. He also responded to the White House’s claim that the “real collusion scandal” had to do with Clinton: “Of course, Hillary Clinton colluded with Russia to lose the election,” Colbert said. He added of Papadopoulos’s attempts to set up meetings with Russian officials, “You can’t do that. That’s Don Jr.’s job.”

[embedded content]

“The Trump administration is turning into a game of Clue, but since it’s Trump, Clueless,” Seth Meyers said. He mocked Trump’s attempts to play down the controversy on Twitter: “It’s like getting pulled over and saying ‘I wasn’t speeding officer and there’s no cocaine in the glove compartment! Don’t look there. It’s a waste of your time.’”

[embedded content]

“At least it happened before Halloween, so now [Manafort] can change his costume to ‘sexy convict,’” Trevor Noah added. He also said that the Trump camp seems to have a new name for Manafort: “New phone, who dis?”

[embedded content]

— How it played on social media:

The president continues trying to turn the tables:

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?????

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 30, 2017

….Also, there is NO COLLUSION!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 30, 2017

This picture of Papadopoulos in a March 2016 meeting with Trump was resurrected:

George Papadopoulos with Trump in a 2016 National Security meeting for the Trump campaign. He’s third from the left. pic.twitter.com/pWeWB9eNMc

— Christina Wilkie (@christinawilkie) October 30, 2017

James Comey tweeted this cryptic quote after the indictments were unsealed:

“Man’s capacity for justice makes democracy possible, but man’s inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary.” Reinhold Niebuhr

— Reinhold Niebuhr (@FormerBu) October 30, 2017

From the former director of the Office of Government Ethics:

Every Member of Congress who cares about the republic should pledge now to take decisive action against the White House if Mueller is fired.

— Walter Shaub (@waltshaub) October 30, 2017

It was a tough day for this other George Papadopoulos, a financial planner from Michigan:

For the nth time, I am NOT Trump’s foreign policy adviser! I have NO association with the Trump camp! NONE!

— George Papadopoulos (@feeonlyplanner) October 30, 2017

One of our national security correspondents highlighted this detail from the Manafort indictment:

The pompadoured manager of Trump’s populist campaign is alleged to have secretly wired $934,350 to a rug store. pic.twitter.com/rXz6f7Ke9J

— Greg Miller (@gregpmiller) October 30, 2017

A CNN host responded to Trump’s claim that “there is no collusion”:

“We don’t believe you. YOU NEED MORE PEOPLE!”

Scaramucci❌
Bannon❌
Gorka❌
Spicer❌
Flynn❌
Price❌
Priebus❌
M̶a̶n̶a̶f̶o̶r̶t̶❌ https://t.co/zZh6ITetoS

— W. Kamau Bell (@wkamaubell) October 30, 2017

Political reporters made fun of the alt-right:

Yes, the DEEP STATE tipped off CNN about… the location of the FBI office in Washington. pic.twitter.com/Jkt7FeMYlu

— Dave Weigel (@daveweigel) October 30, 2017

Many complained that Fox News devoted relatively little airtime to the news. From a Teen Vogue columnist:

Happy Indictment Day! State TV is LIT pic.twitter.com/Dinbl2OK0F

— Lauren Duca (@laurenduca) October 30, 2017

From the comedian behind “The Big Sick”:

CNN: Manafort indicted.
MSNBC: Manafort indicted.
Fox News: Is it mongooses or mongeese? We talk to experts.

— Kumail Nanjiani (@kumailn) October 30, 2017

From a Republican strategist in Florida:

If I was Don Jr. I’d start doing situps and practicing shiv-making techniques.

— Rick Wilson (@TheRickWilson) October 30, 2017

The Post’s in-house satirist mocked the White House press secretary’s spin:

shorter sarah sanders: don’t know these people
never met
one day they just volunteered to run the campaign and we were too polite to say no

— Alexandra Petri (@petridishes) October 30, 2017

Barack Obama’s former chief strategist mocked Sanders’s assertion that the indictments have “nothing to do with the president”:

Imagine having to say stuff like this with a straight face! It’s a living, I guess. But, wow! https://t.co/qnGM3Jxedl

— David Axelrod (@davidaxelrod) October 30, 2017

MORE ON RUSSIA’S DISINFORMATION CAMPAIGN:

— Facebook plans to tell lawmakers today that Russian content on its site may have reached 126 million users during the presidential campaign — far more than first disclosed, according to draft testimonies from the company. Craig Timberg and Elizabeth Dwoskin report: “Previously, Facebook had focused its disclosures on Russian ads. The company has said that 470 accounts and pages run by a Russian troll farm had purchased roughly 3,000 ads, [which reached] an estimated 10 million users. But the troll farm … also published free content [which is estimated to have a spread] far greater than that of ads … On Tuesday, Facebook’s General Counsel Colin Stretch is expected to say that between 2015 and 2017, the troll farm posted about 80,000 times, and that roughly 29 million people received that content in their news feeds. Because those posts were also liked, shared, and commented on by Facebook users, the company estimates that three times more people — and at most 126 million — may have been exposed to a story that originated from Russian operatives.”

— Russia-linked Facebook accounts even organized events supporting both sides of divisive issues in the lead-up to the election. The Wall Street Journal’s Deepa Seetharaman reports: “In July 2016, as outrage swelled over fatal shootings in Dallas and Minneapolis, alleged social-media agitators tied to Russia worked quickly to capitalize on the emotionally charged atmosphere. Workers linked to a Russia-based firm organized two gatherings, both for July 10: In Dallas, a ‘Blue Lives Matter’ rally honored the five police officers slain there on July 7; and near Minneapolis, nearly 300 people rallied in support of Philando Castile, a man fatally shot by a police officer during a traffic stop. The events show that the Russian-linked account activity went far beyond paying for polarizing ads dropped into Facebook members’ news feeds.”

— Meanwhile, Google acknowledged for the first time Monday that its platform was also compromised by Russian trolls, who uploaded over a thousand videos on 18 different YouTube channels.

GET SMART FAST:​​

  1. A federal judge in D.C. partially blocked Trump’s directive banning transgender people from serving in the military, writing in a strongly worded opinion that the policy “does not appear to be supported by any facts.” The decision, which was hailed as a victory by LBGT activists, allowed to stand a part of the proposal that would bar military health funds from being used for sex-reassignment surgery. (Justin Jouvenal)
  2. The FBI is investigating Whitefish Energy’s $300 million contract to rebuild Puerto Rico’s electrical grid. The bureau is looking into why PREPA chose to award the now-canceled contract to the small, Montana-based firm. (The Wall Street Journal)
  3. Jim Mattis and Rex Tillerson told Congress that it did not need to pass a new authorization for use of military force. The two Cabinet members argued to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that they already have the legal authority to conduct military operations against groups like ISIS. (Carol Morello)
  4. A second suspect in the Benghazi attacks was taken into custody. American commandos captured Mustafa al-Imam this weekend near Misurata, Libya. (New York Times)
  5. Catalonia’s dismissed leader popped up in Belgium. Carles Puigdemont may seek asylum in Belgium after Madrid announced it would pursue prosecution of the region’s separatists. (New York Times)
  6. The judge determining Bowe Bergdahl’s sentence denied a motion to dismiss the case based on Trump’s disparaging comments about Bergdahl. But the judge acknowleged the comments could result in a lighter sentence, if anything. Taking the stand yesterday, Bergdahl recounted the terrible treatment he suffered at the hands of his captors. (Alex Horton)
  7. Sen. Bob Menendez’s defense team rested its case in his corruption trial without the New Jersey Democrat taking the stand. The judge and attorneys will next determine jury instructions before deliberations begin. (Politico)
  8. South Korea and China will hold summit talks next week to address U.S. deployment of a missile defense system in the South. China has voiced fears that the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense system installed this year threatens its security. (AP)
  9. Sen. Claire McCaskill’s husband is in the hospital. The Missouri Democrat tweeted that her husband, Joseph Shepard, “has a very big heart but right now not working very well. Currently in ICU. Thanks for your prayers in advance.” (AP)
  10. A Danish inventor admitted to having dismembered the body of journalist Kim Wall. Peter Madsen has changed his story repeatedly about what happened to Wall on his submarine, but he maintains that he did not kill her. (Rachel Siegel)
  11. Richard Nixon’s “Western White House” is on the market for $63.5 million. La Casa Pacifica hosted a number of world leaders while Nixon was in office, and he lived there full time after resigning until 1980. (Amy Dobson)

PERSONNEL IS POLICY:

— It’s Jerome Powell as the next Fed chair, with Trump expected to make the announcement on Thursday. Heather Long and Damian Paletta report: “Powell, a Republican, is widely viewed as a safe pick who is unlikely to make any dramatic changes to the Fed’s handling of the economy at a time when the stock market is soaring and unemployment is at a 16-year low. Unlike some of the other candidates Trump considered, Powell has been supportive of [current chair Janet] Yellen’s policy of slowly raising interest rates, which have been at historic lows for nearly a decade[.] … [Powell has] served as a Fed governor, a top leadership role within the central bank, since 2012. He also has deep experience on Wall Street and in Washington.”

— The American Bar Association has deemed a second of Trump’s judicial nominees “not qualified” to fill a vacancy on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. The ABA letter did not expound on its reason for the rating, but noted that a standing committee “unanimously” ruled that Leonard Steven Grasz was unfit to serve as a federal judge. (Politico)

— EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt appears poised to rid the agency’s Science Advisory Board of scientists who have received EPA grants. Juliet Eilperin, Brady Dennis and Chris Mooney report: “The move represents a fundamental shift, one that could change the scientific and technical advice that historically has guided the agency as it crafts environmental regulations. The decision to bar any researcher who receives EPA grant money from serving as an adviser appears to be unprecedented. … Among the likely appointees are sharp proponents of deregulation who have argued both in academic circles and while serving in government that federal regulators need to raise the bar before imposing new burdens on the private sector. … At least three of the listed appointees have backgrounds working for large corporations whose activities are or could potentially be regulated by the EPA[.]

— White House Chief of Staff John Kelly has not apologized to Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.) for misrepresenting her remarks in a 2015 speech. Philip Rucker reports on Kelly’s sitdown with Laura Ingraham for her new Fox News show: “‘Oh, no,’ Kelly replied. ‘No. Never. Well, I’ll apologize if I need to. But for something like that, absolutely not. I stand by my comments.’ Kelly suggested that he may have been accusing Wilson of grandstanding in a private discussion, as opposed to in her public speech, although his comment to Ingraham was vague. ‘I’ll go back and talk about before her comments and at the reception afterwards,’ Kelly said. ‘Again, it was a package deal. Don’t want to get into it.’”

Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Tex.)  speaks during a news event on overhauling the tax code at the Capitol. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

TAX-A-PALOOZA:

— The House GOP leadership is considering gradually lowering the corporate tax rate to 20 percent over five years. Bloomberg’s Jennifer Jacobs and Anna Edgerton report: “House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady told reporters Monday that there hasn’t been a decision yet. When asked whether a phase in was being considered, he said only: ‘We want to get the growth up front.’ The phase-in proposal would reduce the rate from its current 35 percent rate by three percentage points a year starting in 2018. If adopted, it would delay some of the economic effects Trump and his advisers have sought to emphasize from their tax cuts.”

— Uh-oh: Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) says she is opposed to repealing the estate tax and lowering the top tax rate, which could jeopardize one Republican vote for the overall plan. Bloomberg’s Sahil Kapur reports: “Still, [Collins] said: ‘There is far more outreach on the tax bill’ than there was on health care. Collins declined to say she’ll oppose a tax bill that adds to the deficit, in contrast to her colleague Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee. But she said she cares about the debt and doesn’t want the tax bill to ‘blow a hole’ in the deficit. … ‘I hope very much to be able to support a tax reform package,’ Collins said.”

The Wall Street Journal’s Siobhan Hughes and Richard Rubin have a new profile of Ways and Means Chair Kevin Brady: “Mr. Brady was passed over for the House Ways and Means Committee chairmanship when the slot opened in 2014, but got the job after Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), who beat him out, was elected speaker in 2015. … He has spent the past year watching his ideas get whittled down. Mr. Brady was the chief author of the House Republicans’ 2016 tax blueprint, centered on the idea of ‘border adjustment,’ which would have taxed imports and exempted imports. He had to give up on the idea after retailers mounted a monthslong lobbying campaign against it.”

— Meanwhile, outgoing Rep. Pat Tiberi (R-Ohio) is under pressure from ethics groups to step away from the tax discussions as he negotiates a new job with the Ohio Business Roundtable. Politico’s John Bresnahan reports: “The Ohio Republican, a senior member of the Ways and Means Committee, denies any conflict of interest and refuses to recuse himself from the tax debate. Tiberi’s aides say he intends to continue work on the matter until he leaves Capitol Hill on Jan. 31. … Watchdog groups assert Tiberi has a clear conflict of interest in helping to draft the tax legislation. Companies that belong to the Ohio Business Roundtable would benefit from the Republican tax bill, they note, and so Tiberi should be barred from working or voting on a package that is likely to slash tax rates for big and small companies alike.”

MEN BEHAVING BOORISHLY:

— NBC News terminated its contract with Mark Halperin on Monday following sexual assault allegations that surfaced last week.Paul Farhi reports: “Halperin, 52, will no longer work for NBC or its sister cable network MSNBC, a network spokesman confirmed. The decision to terminate Halperin’s contract makes permanent a preliminary announcement last week from NBC saying he would not appear on NBC pending a review of the allegations. A dozen women have accused Halperin of unwanted contact, including assault, while he was working at ABC News over a period stretching from 1994 to 2004.”

— Kevin Spacey’s declaration that he identifies as a gay man while addressing sexual assault allegations outraged many in the LGBT community. Amy B Wang and Elahe Izadi report: Many “accused Spacey of trying to deflect from a serious accusation — making a sexual advance on a minor — by coming out and implying that it was his choice to be gay. For years, the actor has danced around rumors he had relationships with other men. ‘Coming out stories should not be used to deflect from allegations of sexual assault,’ GLAAD president Sarah Kate Ellis said in a statement. ‘This is not a coming out story about Kevin Spacey, but a story of survivorship by Anthony Rapp and all those who bravely speak out against unwanted sexual advances.’ Even worse, they said, was the implication that the two paragraphs in his statement might be related in any way.”

— Meanwhile, Netflix announced the next season of “House of Cards” would be the show’s last, claiming that decision was made months earlier: “Beau Willimon, the creator ‘House of Cards,’ released a statement Monday calling Rapp’s story ‘deeply troubling.’ ‘During the time I worked with Kevin Spacey on “House of Cards” I neither witnessed nor was aware of any inappropriate behavior on set or off,’ Willimon said. ‘That said, I take reports of such behavior seriously, and this is no exception. I feel for Mr. Rapp and I support his courage.’”

— More of Harvey Weinstein’s accusers have reached out to the New York Times, expanding the timeline of his alleged assaults back to the 1970s. The Times’s Ellen Gabler, Megan Twohey and Jodi Kantor report: “Hope Exiner d’Amore said Harvey Weinstein raped her in a hotel room in the 1970s, when he was a young concert promoter in Buffalo. Cynthia Burr said that during this time, he assaulted her in an encounter that began in an elevator and ended with forced oral sex in a hallway. Ashley Matthau, a dancer with a bit part in one of his movies, said that in 2004, he pushed her down on a bed and masturbated while straddling her. Days later, she said, he paid her to remain silent. … Together, the accounts provide a widening tally of alleged abuses, and illustrate the toll on women who say they felt ashamed and isolated as they watched the Hollywood producer walk red carpets[.]”

— The board of the Producers Guild of America voted unanimously to ban Weinstein for life. (People)

— The House Administration Committee is now reviewing whether Capitol Hill needs to adjust its process for reporting sexual harassment. Politico’s Rachael Bade reports: “The panel, which oversees employment and office logistical matters for the House, will determine whether internal policy changes are needed to curb sexual harassment or ease hostile work environments — and ensure that staff have a mechanism to report abusive behavior.”

GOOD READS FROM ELSEWHERE:

— The New York Times, “Opioids on the Quad,” by Kyle Spencer: “Coming to terms with a habit that nearly killed her, she has found support at the Haven at Drexel, Drexel University’s housing for students in recovery. Seven students from colleges in the Philadelphia area — including the University of Pennsylvania, Temple and Villanova — live, eat and socialize here, where they can abstain without temptation. … Already on campuses, recovery programs are expanding and multiplying, populated by students who have struggled with dependence on Percocet (oxycodone) and Vicodin (hydrocodone), as well as those who have moved on to fentanyl and heroin, which are far cheaper on the street than prescription pills.”

— The New York Times, “Who Betrayed Anne Frank? Former F.B.I. Agent Reopens a Cold Case,” by Christopher F. Schuetze: “Who gave them up has remained a mystery. Now, almost 75 years later, a team of experts led by a retired F.B.I. agent is bringing modern forensic science and criminology to bear in hopes of solving one of history’s most famous cold case files. … The use of other modern techniques like forensic accounting, crowd sourcing, behavioral science and testimonial reconstruction may also hold promise of a breakthrough. The team, for example, is carrying out a three-dimensional scan of the original house and using computer models to determine how far sounds might have traveled.”

— The Wall Street Journal, “No Bones About It: Animal Skeletons are Hot for Halloween,” by Ellen Byron: “Humans looking to take their spooky game to the next level have come to a consensus. Fake skeletons of animals, these humans say, are the way to go. Among the many categories of Halloween decorations at Home Depot Inc., skeletons of all types are the No. 1 sellers. … Oddly enough, the more they love an animal, the more inclined people are to exhibit its bones. One of the leading markets for Home Depot’s horse skeletons, Ms. Charles notes, is Kentucky — a state that holds those animals in high esteem. … Martha Stewart, the global home-decorating authority, set up a pair of Home Depot horse skeletons on her farm in Bedford, N.Y., for Halloween last year. Her real horses shied away as she rode past them, she said.”

— Columbia Journalism Review, “The Jared Bubble,” by Kyle Pope: “I was six months into my tenure as the editor of the New York Observer, and I was schooling my publisher, Jared Kushner, on why ordering up a slam of someone who had crossed his family in business didn’t pass the journalistic smell test. … A year after that conversation, I would be tossed out, one of five editors at the Observer in the 10 years Kushner served as publisher. My case wasn’t helped when I was quoted in a blog post calling the place a [disaster] under Kushner and his business-side team.”

HOT ON THE LEFT

“Trump allies can’t stop accidentally referring to Hillary Clinton’s nonexistent administration” from Business Insider: “Fox News host Sean Hannity accidentally referenced Hillary Clinton’s nonexistent administration on Monday, continuing an unusual emerging trend among allies of [Trump.] … ‘What did President Clinton, or President Clinton wannabe, President Obama, and key members of the administration — what did they know about the Uranium One scandal?’ he said. … In an interview on ‘Fox & Friends Weekend’ on Saturday, former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski mocked pending indictments of former Trump campaign officials[.] … ‘The speculation is so insane right now,’ he said. ‘What we should be focusing on are the continued lies of the Clinton administration, the continued fallacies that they perpetuate.’”

 

HOT ON THE RIGHT

“Bryan Cranston Talks ‘Last Flag Flying’ and Why He Isn’t Rooting for Trump’s Failure,” from the Hollywood Reporter: Cranston said, “It’s just astonishing to me. President Trump is not the person who I wanted to be in that office, and I’ve been very open about that. That being said, he is the president. If he fails, the country is in jeopardy. It would be egotistical for anyone to say, ‘I hope he fails.’ To that person I would say, f— you. Why would you want that? So you can be right? I don’t want him to fail. I want him to succeed. I do. I honestly do. … And if you’ve got a good idea that helps the country, oh man, I’m gonna support you.”

DAYBOOK:

Trump has a morning “tax reform industry meeting” followed by a foreign policy lunch. He will later meet with Paul Ryan.

Pence is on Capitol Hill today to meet with Senate Republicans and House GOP committee chairs.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: 

“I would tell you that Robert E. Lee was an honorable man,” John Kelly told Fox News’s Laura Ingraham when asked about recent attempts to remove monuments of the Confederate general. “He was a man that gave up his country to fight for his state, which 150 years ago was more important than country. It was always loyalty to state first back in those days. Now it’s different today. But the lack of an ability to compromise led to the Civil War. And men and women of good faith on both sides made their stand where their conscience had to make their stand.

NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:

— It will be sunny during the day but cooler for tonight’s trick-or-treating. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “A few morning clouds possible, but otherwise mostly sunny skies offer a fairly decent day as temperatures move up toward seasonal high temperature levels in the upper 50s to low 60s. … The night becomes partly cloudy and cooler with lows ranging from the middle-upper 30s in the outer suburbs to the middle 40s in the city.”

— The Latino Victory Fund released a new ad in Virginia’s gubernatorial race that ties Republican Ed Gillespie to Trump and the violence in Charlottesville. Fenit Nirappil reports: The ad features “a pick-up truck flying a Confederate flag and sporting a bumper sticker for [Gillespie] chasing a group of minority children. The minute-long spot … ends with the children waking up from a nightmare and adults watching footage on television of torch-bearing white nationalists marching in Charlottesville[.] ‘Is this what Donald Trump and Ed Gillespie mean by the American dream?’ the narrator says.”

— Gillespie appeared at a rally last night with Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), while immigration activists protested outside. Jenna Portnoy reports: “Within minutes, Rubio alluded to the immigration controversy, telling the crowd Gillespie would work for them ‘no matter where your family came from or how your last name is pronounced.’ Rubio said he, too, comes from a community impacted by gang violence and said it would make no sense to ignore MS-13 in a state impacted by the gang. ‘That would be like talking about organized crime, but refusing to talk about the Mafia,’ he said to chuckles from supporters.”

— Emily’s List endorsed political consultant Maya Rockeymoore Cummings in the Maryland governor’s race. (Ovetta Wiggins)

— The Maryland Senate pushed ahead with legislation that would allow women who become pregnant as a result of rape to terminate the parental rights of their rapists. The bill, similar to laws already passed in almost 25 other states, is expected to be taken up when the new legislative session begins in January. (Ovetta Wiggins)

— The D.C. Council held a hearing yesterday on the management of United Medical Center. The hearing — which came the same day that The Post reported on the death of Warren Webb after he was left unattended on the hospital’s floor for more than 20 minutes — focused on whether to renew the contract of Veritas of Washington, which has managed UMC since last year. (Peter Jamison)

— D.C.’s campaign to host the Gay Games 2022 fell short, with Hong Kong winning the honor. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) and 23 city representatives traveled to Paris last weekend to pitch the federation. (Perry Stein

VIDEOS OF THE DAY:

The Post reviewed the White House’s haunted history:

Trick-or-treaters visited the White House:

The Post’s Glenn Kessler fact-checked whether Russia actually obtained “20 percent of our uranium”:

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Who’s who in the George Papadopoulos court documents – Washington Post

Newly released court documents show that Trump foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos communicated with several senior campaign officials about his outreach to the Russian government over a period of months. The recipients of Papadopoulos’s emails are not named in the filings, but The Washington Post has identified several individuals based on interviews and other documents. Papadopoulos pleaded guilty this month to lying to federal agents about his outreach to Russia.

“The Campaign Supervisor”: Trump campaign national co-chairman Sam Clovis

Victoria Toensing, an attorney for Sam Clovis, confirmed that several references in court filings to “the campaign supervisor” refer to the onetime radio host from Iowa, who served as Trump’s national campaign co-chairman.

At one point, Papadopoulos emailed Clovis and other campaign officials about a March 24, 2016, meeting he had in London with a professor, who had introduced him to the Russian ambassador and a Russian woman he described as “Putin’s niece.” The group had talked about arranging a meeting “between us and the Russian leadership to discuss U.S.-Russia ties under President Trump,” Papadopoulos wrote. (Papadopoulos later learned that the woman was not Putin’s niece, and while he expected to meet the ambassador, he never did, according to filings.)

Clovis responded that he would “work it through the campaign,” adding, “great work,” according to court documents.

In August 2016, Clovis responded to efforts by Papadopoulos to organize an “off the record” meeting with Russian officials. “I would encourage you” and another foreign policy adviser to the campaign to “make the trip, if it is feasible,” Clovis wrote.

Toensing said Clovis “always vigorously opposed any Russian trip for Donald Trump and/or the campaign.” She said his responses to Papadopoulos were courtesy by “a polite gentleman from Iowa.”

“High-Ranking Campaign Official”: Campaign manager Corey Lewandowski

Emails previously described to The Post indicate that the “high-ranking campaign official” described in court documents is onetime campaign manager Corey Lewandowski. The emails were among more than 20,000 pages that the Trump campaign turned over to congressional committees after review by White House and defense lawyers.

Lewandowski, who was pushed out of his post in June 2016, did not respond to requests for comment.

Papadopoulos wrote to Lewandowski several times to let him know that the Russians were interested in forging a relationship with the campaign, court filings show.

In one email on April 27, 2016, Papadopoulos wrote “to discuss Russia’s interest in hosting Mr. Trump.”

“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,” he added.

In May, Papadopoulos forwarded to Lewandowski an offer of “cooperation” from a Russian with links to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. “Is this something we want to move forward with?” he asked.

There is no indication if or how Lewandowski responded to those messages. But in June, when Papadopoulos emailed him again about Russia, Lewandowski referred him to Clovis because he “is running point,” according to court documents.

[Top campaign officials knew of Trump adviser’s outreach to Russia]

“Another high-ranking campaign official”: Campaign chairman Paul Manafort

The court filings indicate that Papadopoulos emailed “another high-ranking campaign official” on May 21, 2016, with the subject line “Request from Russia to meet Mr. Trump.”

The Post has previously identified this official as Paul Manafort, who was indicted Monday on unrelated criminal charges.

Manafort forwarded Papadopoulos’s email to another campaign official, stating: “We need someone to communicate that DT is not doing these trips,” referring to a trip to Russia. “It should be someone low level in the campaign so as not to send any signal.”

Manafort spokesman Jason Maloni in August told The Post that the campaign chairman’s response indicated that “any invitation by Russia, directly or indirectly, would be rejected outright.”

“Another campaign official”: Manafort deputy Rick Gates

The Post has previously identified the official who received the May 21, 2016, email from Manafort as his deputy, Rick Gates. Gates was indicted Monday on unrelated criminal charges.

“Senior Policy Advisor”: Unknown

The court filings indicate that on April 27, 2016, Papadopoulos emailed a “senior policy advisor” and wrote, “Have some interesting messages coming in from Moscow about a trip when the time is right.”

The Post has not identified this official.

“The Professor”: Joseph Mifsud, director of the London Academy of Diplomacy

According to emails previously described to The Post, the London-based professor who was a key contact for Papadopoulos in his Russian outreach is Joseph Mifsud, who formerly served as a government official in Malta.

Mifsud did not respond to a request for comment Monday. In an email to The Post in August, he wrote that he had “absolutely no contact with the Russian government” and said his only ties to Russia were through academic links.

Papadopoulos met Mifsud in March 2016 while traveling in Italy, according to court records. The professor “seemed uninterested” in Papadopoulos until he learned that he was a campaign adviser, according to court filings.

Five days after Trump named Papadopoulos as one of his advisers during a meeting at The Post, Papadopoulos and Mifsud met in London. The professor brought with him a Russian woman who was introduced as a relative of President Vladi­mir Putin who had connections to senior Russian government officials.

The following month, Mifsud told Papadopoulos that he had just returned from Moscow, where he had learned from high-level Russian government officials that Russia had “dirt” on Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, including “thousands of emails.”

“The Female Russian National”: Unknown

Court documents show that Papadopoulos corresponded with a “female Russian national” whom he initially believed was Putin’s niece.

At one point, she wrote to him, “The Russian Federation would love to welcome [Trump] once his candidature would be officially announced.”

The Post has not identified the woman.

“A Russian National Connected to the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs”: Ivan Timofeev

In April 2016, Mifsud introduced Papadopoulos over email to a man in Moscow who told Papadopoulos that he had connections to the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, court records show.

Emails previously described to The Post indicate that the man is Ivan Timofeev, a program director at a Russian government-funded think tank called the Russian International Affairs Council.

Papadopoulos communicated via Skype and email with Timofeev to discuss establishing ties between Russian officials and the Trump campaign.

On Monday, Timofeev declined to comment, referring a reporter to a statement the Russian International Affairs Council posted in August in response to a Post story. The statement said that Papadapoulos had contacted the council and “put forth the idea of a possible visit to Russia by Mr. Trump or his team members.”

“Given the RIAC’s established practice of hosting public meetings with prominent politicians and public figures from the U.S. and other countries, the U.S. initiative was a matter of routine for the Council,” the statement said, pointing out that among the council’s guest speakers was former U.S. ambassador Michael McFaul.

Timofeev told The Post in August that the idea of a meeting with Trump officials was dropped after he received no official request from the Trump campaign for a meeting.

David Filipov in Moscow, Karla Adam in London, and Tom Hamburger and Robert Costa in Washington contributed to this report.

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Google offers new findings on Russian disinformation across its products – TechCrunch

Just a day before tech’s big Russia-focused Congressional hearings begin, Google is out with a new report on the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the U.S. presidential election across its platforms.

“While we have found only limited activity on our services, we will continue to work to prevent all of it, because there is no amount of interference that is acceptable,” Google wrote in its latest blog post on the issue, titled “Security and disinformation in the U.S. 2016 election.”

Google’s report appears to be limited to accounts with observable ties to the Internet Research Agency, a Russian state-affiliated organization that produces political disinformation and sock puppet accounts. That narrowed scope is possibly an effort to appease Congress with some hard numbers, so it’s worth keeping in mind that we don’t yet know the scope of these disinformation campaigns beyond those pre-defined parameters.

Google reports that in an examination of its ad products, it discovered only two accounts with ties to the Internet Research Agency. The two accounts had invested $4,700 into Google’s ad network (search and display ads) during the timeframe of the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Google doesn’t specify how it defined that timeframe in this particular batch of numbers.

Unlike razor-sharp ad targeting on a platform like Facebook, these ads weren’t even targeted by location or by political affiliation. Google does offer political ad segments that face “left-leaning” and “right-leaning” audiences, though in this instance the Internet Research Agency did not appear to use the feature.

Google’s report breaks its YouTube findings into their own category. Here, it found 18 channels it believed to be linked to the Russian government that featured public political videos in English. While that isn’t very many channels, they did create a cumulative 1,108 videos with 309,000 views in the U.S. from June 2015 to November of the following year. The vast majority of videos had fewer than 5,000 views.

The report also included Google’s other products, though those examinations didn’t turn up much. There’s no evidence (yet, anyway) that state-sponsored accounts used “improper methods” to boost search rankings, though anyone who’s seen fake news featured high up in their search results might rightfully have questions about how the company decides what flies in search and what doesn’t.

To wrap up its report, Google even did an analysis of Google+ that seems to suggest that Russian state actors might be posting vacation pics on the mostly abandoned social network:

“We ​found ​no ​political ​posts ​in ​English ​from ​state-linked ​actors ​on ​Google+ (there ​were some ​posts ​in ​Russian ​and ​a ​very ​small ​number ​of ​non-political ​posts).”

All three companies set to appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee and the Senate and House Intel Committees this week put out an early report previewing their expected testimony. Google’s relatively small scale findings put into perspective Facebook’s new assertion that similar content reached 126 million users on its own platform, though the situation on Twitter also appears to be at least somewhat worse than previously reported. 

We’ll be following tech’s testimony to Congress this week as the companies expand on their own unwitting role in foreign disinformation campaigns during the 2016 election.

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Highlights of the Special Counsel’s Case Against George Papadopoulos – New York Times

WASHINGTON — In the first charges in the special counsel investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, George Papadopoulos, a former foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign, pleaded guilty to lying to federal investigators about his conversations with people linked to the Russian government about potential “dirt” on Hillary Clinton and Russia’s openness to “cooperation” with the campaign.

Separately, President Trump’s former campaign manager Paul J. Manafort Jr., and his business partner, Rick Gates, were indicted. The charges they face do not relate to Mr. Trump or the campaign, but it is widely believed that the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, is hoping to pressure Mr. Manafort into providing information about the central subject of his investigation.

The facts surrounding the criminal case against Mr. Papadopoulos are directly significant to that focus. Here are highlights:

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Lies about contacts with Russia-linked people

On or about the 27th day of January, 2017, defendant GEORGE PAPADOPOULOS did willfully and knowingly make a materially false, fictitious, and fraudulent statement and representation in a matter within the jurisdiction of the executive branch of the Government of the United States, to wit, defendant PAPADOPOULOS lied to special agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, concerning a federal investigation based out of the District of Columbia, about the timing, extent, and nature of his relationships and interactions with certain foreign nationals whom he understood to have close connections with senior Russian government officials.

Mr. Papadopoulos is charged with lying to the F.B.I. during an interview in early 2017. A 14-page statement of the offense that accompanies the brief criminal information filing shows that Mr. Papadopoulos was questioned by the F.B.I. about his interactions during the campaign with two apparent Russian agents — an unnamed professor and an unnamed “female Russian national,” who each had substantial connections to Russian government officials. The filing says Mr. Papadopoulos falsely played down the significance of those conversations and falsely said he had not yet joined the campaign when they reached out to him.

Lying to federal investigators is a felony that can carry a sentence of up to five years in prison, giving Mr. Papadopoulos an incentive to cooperate in exchange for leniency.

How they began talking

On or about March 14, 2016, while traveling in Italy, defendant PAPADOPOULOS met an individual who was a professor based in London (the “Professor”). Initially, the Professor seemed uninterested in defendant PAPADOPOULOS. However, after defendant PAPADOPOULOS informed the Professor about his joining the Campaign, the Professor appeared to take great interest in defendant PAPADOPOULOS. Defendant PAPADOPOULOS was interested in the Professor because, among other reasons, the Professor claimed to have substantial connections with Russian government officials, which defendant PAPADOPOULOS thought could increase his importance as a policy adviser to the Campaign. On or about March 21, 2016, the Campaign told The Washington Post that defendant PAPADOPOULOS was one of five named foreign policy advisers for the Campaign. On or about March 24, 2016, defendant PAPADOPOULOS met with the Professor in London. The Professor brought with him a female Russian national (the “Female Russian National”), introduced to defendant PAPADOPOULOS as a relative of Russian President Vladimir Putin with connections to senior Russian government officials.

The court filing identifies neither the professor nor the woman, who turned out not to be Mr. Putin’s relative. It also does not identify senior campaign officials, like Mr. Papadopoulos’s supervisor, to whom he reported on his contacts.

Trump was told of efforts to set up a meeting with Putin

On or about March 31, 2016, defendant PAPADOPOULOS attended a “national security meeting” in Washington, D.C., with then-candidate Trump and other foreign policy advisers for the Campaign. When defendant PAPADOPOULOS introduced himself to the group, he stated, in sum and substance, that he had connections that could help arrange a meeting between then-candidate Trump and President Putin. After his trip to Washington, D.C., defendant PAPADOPOULOS worked with the Professor and the Female Russian National to arrange a meeting between the Campaign and the Russian government, and took steps to advise the Campaign of his progress.

Senior campaign officials were aware of these efforts and apparently sanctioned them; Mr. Papadopoulos’s supervisor told him “great work” in one email.

Learning the Russians have ‘emails’ and ‘dirt’ on Clinton

On or about April 26, 2016, defendant PAPADOPOULOS met the Professor for breakfast at a London hotel. During this meeting, the Professor told defendant PAPADOPOULOS that he had just returned from a trip to Moscow where he had met with high level Russian government officials. The Professor told defendant PAPADOPOULOS that on that trip he (the Professor) learned that the Russians had obtained “dirt” on then-candidate Clinton. The Professor told defendant PAPADOPOULOS, as defendant PAPADOPOULOS later described to the FBI, that “They (the Russians] have dirt on her”; “the Russians had emails of Clinton”; “they have thousands of emails.”

The court filing says Mr. Papadopoulos continued to discuss setting up a campaign-Russia meeting after this encounter. It does not say whether he conveyed to his campaign superiors this information about what Mr. Putin was said to possess.

Russians were ‘open for cooperation’

On or about May 4, 2016, the Russian MFA Connection sent an email (the “May 4 MFA Email”) to defendant PAPADOPOULOS and the Professor that stated: “I have just talked to my colleagues from the MFA. The[y] are open for cooperation. One of the options is to make a meeting for you at the North America Desk, if you are in Moscow.” Defendant PAPADOPOULOS responded that he was “[g]lad the MFA is interested.” Defendant PAPADOPOULOS forwarded the May 4 MFA Email to the High-Ranking Campaign Official, adding: “What do you think? Is this something we want to move forward with?” The next day, on or about May 5, 2016, defendant PAPADOPOULOS had a phone call with the Campaign Supervisor, and then forwarded the May 4 MFA Email to him, adding to the top of the email: “Russia updates.”

The professor had put Mr. Papadopoulos in contact with someone described as “an individual in Moscow” who told Mr. Papadopoulos he had connections with the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, or the MFA. A week after Mr. Papadopoulos learned from the professor that the Russians had “emails” and “dirt” on Hillary Clinton, he received this apparent offer to cooperate with the foreign affairs ministry liaison. The filing does not say what the Trump campaign officials interpreted the word “cooperation” to mean when they saw the email.

Trump campaign officials were apparently cautious but interested

The government notes that the official forwarded defendant PAPADOPOULOS’s email to another Campaign official (without including defendant PAPADOPOULOS) and stated: “Let[‘]s discuss. We need someone to communicate that DT is not doing these trips. It should be someone low level in the campaign so as not to send any signal.”

Notably, it was less than a month later that Donald Trump Jr. received an email from an intermediary with contacts in Russia saying the Russian government had information that “would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father,” which described as “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump,” setting up a now-famous meeting in Trump Tower on June 9.

A shift to pursuit of a potential secret meeting with campaign officials

From mid-June through mid-August 2016, PAPADOPOULOS pursued an “off the record” meeting between one or more Campaign representatives and “members of president putin’s office and the mfa.” For example, on or about June 19, 2016, after several email and Skype exchanges with the Russian MFA Connection, defendant PAPADOPOULOS emailed the High Ranking Campaign Official, with the subject line “New message from Russia”: “The Russian ministry of foreign affairs messaged and said that if Mr. Trump is unable to make it to Russia, if a campaign rep (me or someone else) can make it for meetings? I am willing to make the trip off the record if it’s in the interest of Mr. Trump and the campaign to meet specific people.” After several weeks of further communications regarding a potential “off the record” meeting with Russian officials, on or about August 15, 2016, the Campaign Supervisor told defendant PAPADOPOULOS that “I would encourage you” and another foreign policy adviser to the Campaign to “make the trip[], if it is feasible.”

The court filing tersely states that the proposed trip did not take place but does not explain why. But Mr. Mueller almost certainly knows more than he is willing to reveal at this stage. The court filings also reveal that Mr. Papadopoulos was arrested on July 27 and has been cooperating, meeting with federal officials “on numerous occasions to provide information and answer questions.”

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Trump campaign adviser admitted to lying about Russian contacts – Washington Post

George Papadopoulos, a former campaign adviser to President Trump, pleaded guilty earlier this month to lying to federal officials about contacts he had with people he believed had ties to the Russian government while he was affiliated with Trump’s campaign.

Papadopoulos, who was named by Trump in March 2016 as a foreign policy adviser to the campaign, was first charged under seal in July and ultimately pleaded guilty in October to lying to federal agents investigating Russian interference in the presidential election.

According to court papers released Monday, those contacts included an unnamed overseas professor whom Papadopoulos met in Italy in March, the same month he joined the campaign. In April 2016, the professor told him the Russian government had “dirt” on Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, including thousands of Clinton’s emails.

That conversation occurred two months before the Democratic National Committee revealed it had been hacked and believed Russians were behind the attack. It also came about a month after an email account belonging to Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta, was targeted with a phishing attempt that may have led to the hack of his emails. Podesta’s emails were released by WikiLeaks in October.

Papadopoulos, who was arrested when he arrived at Dulles Airport on July 27, signed a plea agreement that indicates he is cooperating with special prosecutor Robert S. Mueller III, filings show. The charge against him indicates that Mueller is deeply examining any links between Trump aides and Russian officials as part of his probe into possible coordination between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin.

In a statement, Papadopoulos’s attorneys Thomas Breen and Robert Stanley said that they would refrain from commenting on the case.

“We will have the opportunity to comment on George’s involvement when called upon by the Court at a later date,” they said. “We look forward to telling all of the details of George’s story at that time.”

According to court filings, Papadopoulos gave several Trump campaign officials updates about his efforts to broker meetings between the campaign and the Russian government, forwarding information to unnamed people described as “high-ranking campaign officials” and “campaign supervisor.”

[Paul Manafort, Rick Gates charged by special counsel]

Papadopoulos’s emails began days after he was named to Trump’s campaign team and continued for months. At one point, he offered to set up a meeting directly between Trump and Putin.

In response, one high-ranking campaign official emailed another official Papadopoulos’s offer, adding, “We need someone to communicate that [Trump] is not doing these trips. It should be someone low level in the campaign so as not to send any signal.”

The documents show Papadopoulos lied to federal agents about his interactions with the professor, saying their conversations predated his involvement with the campaign and indicating he believed the professor had low-level contacts in Russia. In fact, he knew that the professor had ties to senior levels of the Russian government, according to court papers.

In court filings, prosecutors quote from an email Papadopoulos sent to a campaign supervisor about his interactions with the professor in March. The email appears to match one described to The Washington Post in August in which Papadopoulos identified the professor with whom he met as Joseph Mifsud, the director of the London Academy of Diplomacy. The email was among more than 20,000 pages of documents the Trump campaign turned over to congressional committees after review by White House and defense lawyers.

Mifsud told The Post in an email in August that he had “absolutely no contact with the Russian government” and said he was an academic whose only ties to Russia are through academic links. He did not respond to a request for comment Monday.

In addition, Papadopoulos communicated with a Russian woman with ties to the government and a man in Moscow he believed was connected to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the filings show.

Trump identified Papadopoulos as one of his advisers in a March 2016 meeting with The Washington Post editorial board, during which the then-GOP candidate described Papadopoulos as “an energy consultant. Excellent guy.”

The court papers show that while he was serving as an adviser to the campaign, Papadopoulos met a Russian woman he believed was a niece of Russian President Vladimir Putin and with whom he communicated about setting up a meeting between Trump campaign officials and Russian officials.

He told agents that he met the woman a year before joining the Trump campaign, but, in fact, he met her only after he was named to the campaign and communicated with her for months while working with Trump aides, the documents show.

[Timeline: How Papadopoulos tried to work with the Russian government]

According to court filings, she told Papadopoulos she would like to help set up meetings for the Trump campaign with her associates to discuss U.S.-Russia ties under a future President Trump.

Papadopoulos emailed campaign officials about her offer. A supervisor, who is not named, wrote back, “Great work.”

The Post has reported that Papadopoulos repeatedly emailed top campaign aides to set up such meetings, and some emails show his offers were rebuffed.

However, court documents demonstrate that Papadopoulos had ongoing communications with his Russian contacts and campaign officials about the possibility of an “off the record” trip he might take to Moscow to help facilitate ties.

In one email exchange in August 2016, a campaign supervisor told Papadopoulos that he would “encourage” him and another unnamed foreign policy adviser to “make the trip, if it is feasible,” according to filings. The trip did not ultimately take place.

Prosecutors allege Papadopoulos also obstructed their inquiry by deleting a Facebook page that would have revealed his contacts with Russians not long after learning of the investigation.

At the time Trump identified Papadopoulos as an adviser, the hotel and real estate executive was rising in the field of Republican presidential candidates and his campaign was eager to show it had credible voices offering advice on foreign policy. On the same day, Trump also announced he was being advised by Carter Page, another energy consultant whose ties to Russia have been under scrutiny.

[‘Anyone . . . with a pulse’: How a Russia-friendly adviser found his way into the Trump campaign]

Papadopoulos initially drew attention because of his scant foreign policy background. He had earlier advised the presidential campaign of Ben Carson, but he had graduated from college less than a decade earlier and he appeared to have exaggerated his résumé.

Still, Papadopoulos was present later in March, at a meeting of the team in Washington that included both Trump and then-Sen. Jeff Sessions, who had endorsed the campaign.

Throughout the summer, Papadopoulos met with foreign officials and gave interviews to media in other countries, sometimes describing Trump’s views on Putin on Russia.

He told a group of researchers in Israel that Trump saw Putin as “a responsible actor and potential partner,” according to a column in the Jerusalem Post, while later he met with a British Foreign Office representative in London and a Greek official in New York, British and Greek embassy spokesmen have said. He also criticized U.S. sanctions on Russia in an interview with the Russian news outlet Interfax.

The Post has also reported that Sergei Millian, who was a key source of information contained in a dossier of information about Trump’s ties to Russia, told people around him that he was in contact with Papadopoulos during the campaign.

Tom Hamburger contributed to this report.

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Manafort and former business partner charged with conspiracy in connection with special counsel probe – Washington Post

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his longtime business partner Rick Gates have been charged in a 12-count indictment with conspiracy against the United States, conspiracy to launder money and making false statements.

It marked the first criminal allegations to come from Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation into possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia to influence the 2016 election.

Gates did not respond to a request for comment, nor did Jason Maloni, a spokesman for Manafort. Manafort was spotted walking into the FBI’s Washington Field Office Monday morning.

Washington — especially those in political and media circles — had been anxiously anticipating the charges since CNN reported Friday night that a grand jury had approved the first charges in Mueller’s investigation. That report was soon matched by others, including Reuters and the Wall Street Journal, though affiliates of many involved said they were in the dark as to what was about to come. About a dozen reporters staked out the entrance to the federal courthouse in downtown D.C. Monday morning, waiting for any glimpse of prosecutors or possible defendants.

Spokespeople for Mueller and the Justice Department declined to comment over the weekend. A Justice Department spokeswoman declined to comment Monday, and a spokesman for the special counsel’s office did not return messages seeking comment.

Mueller was appointed in May to oversee the probe of possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia, taking over work that the FBI had begun in July 2016. Their interest in Manafort, though, dates back to at least 2014 — long before Mueller was appointed or Manafort was connected to the Trump campaign.

Prosecutors have been probing Manafort’s work as a political consultant in Ukraine, where he advised a Russia-friendly political party for years before his work with Trump. They have also been examining Manafort’s personal finances, and exploring possible violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act, possible failure to register foreign bank accounts and related tax violations, according to a person familiar with the case.

While Mueller’s probe has focused acutely on Manafort and former national security adviser Michael Flynn, investigators have shown interest in a broad array of other topics.

Those include meetings the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, had with the Russian ambassador and a banker from Moscow in December, and a June 2016 meeting at Trump tower involving the president’s son, Donald Jr., and a Russian lawyer. Mueller’s team has requested extensive records from the White House, covering areas including the president’s private discussions about firing James B. Comey as FBI director and his response to news that Flynn was under investigation, according to two people briefed on the requests.

Mueller is also investigating whether Trump obstructed justice leading up to Comey’s firing. His team has been actively presenting records and bringing witnesses before the grand jury in D.C. for the last three months.

[Special Counsel Mueller using grand jury in federal court in Washington as part of Russia investigation]

Manafort joined the Trump campaign in March 2016, and Trump tapped him to serve as campaign chairman in May of that year. He left in August 2016, but Gates, his business partner and protege, continued to play an important role with the campaign even after Manafort’s departure. After the election Gates directed the inauguration plans, including fundraising, under Tom Barrack, Trump’s close friend and adviser.

Any grand jury indictment would be shared with deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein, who is acting as the attorney general because Jeff Sessions, having served as a surrogate for the Trump campaign, recused himself from the matter.

Late Friday afternoon, the federal court’s chief judge, Beryl A. Howell, presided as host for a ceremonial portrait unveiling of a fellow judge and explained to the crowd of hundreds of guests that Rosenstein could not be present because of an important meeting he was called to at the Justice Department.

FBI agents working for Mueller raided Manafort’s home in Alexandria in late July, armed with a search warrant that allowed them to enter at dawn without warning the occupants. Such an invasive search is only allowed after prosecutors have persuaded a federal judge that they have evidence of a crime and they have reasonable concern that key evidence could be destroyed or withheld.

Prosecutors also warned Manafort they planned to indict him, according to two people familiar with the exchange. Manafort associates had said Friday evening, though, they had no indication that Manafort has been or would be indicted.

Flynn’s lawyer, Robert Kelner, said late Friday, “we are not commenting tonight.” A person familiar with Flynn’s defense said he, too, had received no notice of pending indictment.

Wayne Holland, a McEnearney Associates real estate agent who helped Manafort buy the condo in Alexandria, Va., that was raided by the FBI this summer, testified Oct. 20 before the grand jury in Mueller’s probe after he and his firm were unsuccessful in an effort to quash subpoenas, Holland said Friday.

Holland declined to discuss his testimony, first reported by Politico, but confirmed that an opinion unsealed Friday by Howell denied his and his firm’s motion to quash a subpoena by claiming real estate broker records are confidential under Virginia and District laws.

Devlin Barrett, Carol D. Leonnig, Sari Horwitz, Spencer S. Hsu, Ellen Nakashima, Greg Miller and Adam Entous contributed to this report.

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Paul Manafort, Who Once Ran Trump Campaign, Told to Surrender – New York Times

WASHINGTON — Paul Manafort and his former business associate Rick Gates were told to surrender to federal authorities Monday morning, the first charges in a special counsel investigation, according to a person involved in the case.

The charges against Mr. Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign chairman, and Mr. Gates were not immediately clear but represent a significant escalation in a special counsel investigation that has cast a shadow over the president’s first year in office.

Mr. Gates is a longtime protégé and junior partner of Mr. Manafort. His name appears on documents linked to companies that Mr. Manafort’s firm set up in Cyprus to receive payments from politicians and businesspeople in Eastern Europe, records reviewed by The New York Times show.

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Mr. Manafort had been under investigation for violations of federal tax law, money laundering and whether he appropriately disclosed his foreign lobbying.

Attempts to reach Mr. Gates on Monday were not successful. A spokesman for Mr. Manafort did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Mr. Manafort has expected charges since this summer, when F.B.I. agents raided his home and prosecutors warned him that they planned to indict him. That warning raised speculation that Mr. Manafort might try to cut a deal to avoid prosecution.

Mr. Trump’s lawyer, Ty Cobb, said there were no concerns that Mr. Manafort would offer damaging information about the president in exchange for a deal.

Some close to Mr. Manafort, including his former business partner Roger J. Stone Jr., have said he had nothing to offer that would help prosecutors build a case against Mr. Trump.

“He’s not going to lie,” Mr. Stone said in September.

Mr. Manafort, a veteran Republican strategist, joined the Trump campaign in March 2016 to help keep delegates from breaking with Mr. Trump in favor of establishment Republican candidates. Mr. Trump soon promoted him to chairman and chief strategist, a job that gave him control over day-to-day operations of the campaign.

But Mr. Trump fired Mr. Manafort just months later, after reports that he received more than $12 million in undisclosed payments from Viktor F. Yanukovych, the former Ukrainian president and a pro-Russia politician. Mr. Manafort spent years as a political consultant for Mr. Yanukovych.

American intelligence agencies have concluded that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia launched a stealth campaign of hacking and propaganda to try to damage Hillary Clinton and help Mr. Trump win the election. The Justice Department appointed Robert S. Mueller III as special counsel in May to lead the investigation into the Russian operations and to determine whether anyone around Mr. Trump was involved.

Mr. Trump has denied any such collusion, and no evidence has surfaced publicly to contradict him. At the same time, Mr. Trump and his advisers this year repeatedly denied any contacts with Russians during the campaign, only to have journalists uncover one undisclosed meeting after another.

The New York Times revealed in July that Mr. Manafort and others close to Mr. Trump met with Russians last year, on the promise of receiving damaging political information about Mrs. Clinton.

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Kevin Spacey Slammed After Coming Out in Statement Apologizing for Alleged Sexual Harassment – PEOPLE.com

Kevin Spacey is being criticized for “hiding under the rainbow” after he came out in the same statement in which he apologized for alleged unwanted sexual advances towards actor Anthony Rapp when Rapp was just 14.

In an interview with BuzzFeed published Sunday, Rapp, now 46, alleged then-26-year-old Spacey invited him to his Manhattan apartment for a party in 1986. (They were both starring in hit Broadway plays at the time.) Rapp says he was the only teen at the party and spent most of the evening in a bedroom watching television, but Spacey tried to seduce the actor after the party had ended.

After apologizing for the alleged incident— “if I did behave as he describes, I owe him the sincerest apology for what would have been deeply inappropriate drunken behavior,” Spacey, 58, wrote — the House of Cards star came out as gay. 

“This story has encouraged me to address other things about my life,” Spacey’s statement continues. “I know that there are stories out there about me and that some have been fueled by the fact that I have been so protective of my privacy. As those closes to me know, in my life, I have had relationships with both men and women. I have loved and had romantic relationships with men throughout my life, and I choose now to live as a gay man. I want to deal with this honestly and openly and that starts with examining my own behavior.”

However, many celebrities — some in the LGBT community — were critical of the statement.

“No no no no no! You do not get to ‘choose’ to hide under the rainbow!” comedian Wanda Sykes, who came out as a lesbian in 2008, wrote on Twitter. “Kick rocks!”

Actress Rose McGowan, who recently claimed she was raped by producer Harvey Weinstein, wrote, “Bye bye, Spacey goodbye, it’s your turn to cry, that’s why we’ve gotta say goodbye.” Weinstein has repeatedly denied having non-consensual sex.

Billy Eichner approached the situation with humor before condemning Spacey’s statement.

“Kevin Spacey has just invented something that has never existed before: a bad time to come out,” he wrote on Twitter.

“Imagine the Astros walking off the field only to find out Kevin Spacey is gay. The shock of it all,” the comedian added, referencing the World Series game. “But honestly I hesitate to make jokes because the Spacey statement is truly disgusting, irresponsible and dangerous. Ok goodnight!”

Bye bye, Spacey goodbye, it’s your turn to cry, that’s why we’ve gotta say goodbye. #ROSEARMY

— rose mcgowan (@rosemcgowan) October 30, 2017

Kevin Spacey has just invented something that has never existed before: a bad time to come out.

— billy eichner (@billyeichner) October 30, 2017

Imagine the Astros walking off the field only to find out Kevin Spacey is gay. The shock of it all.

— billy eichner (@billyeichner) October 30, 2017

But honestly I hesitate to make jokes because the Spacey statement is truly disgusting, irresponsible and dangerous. Ok goodnight!

— billy eichner (@billyeichner) October 30, 2017

Nope to Kevin Spacey’s statement. Nope. There’s no amount of drunk or closeted that excuses or explains away assaulting a 14-year-old child.

— Dan Savage (@fakedansavage) October 30, 2017

Kevin Spacey has immense wealth & fame, and yet never came out as a gay man until he needed a distraction from this story – & sympathy. https://t.co/VEDQQ5vM5C

— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) October 30, 2017

Comedian Cameron Esposito added, “Just wanna be really f–ing clear that being gay has nothing to do w/ going after underage folks.”

“I have a lot of respect and admiration for Anthony Rapp as an actor. I’m beyond horrified to hear his story,” Spacey said in the statement posted on his Twitter account late Sunday night.

“I honestly do not remember the encounter, it would have been over 30 years ago. But if I did behave as he describes, I owe him the sincerest apology for what would have been deeply inappropriate drunken behavior, and I a sorry for the feelings he describes having carried with him all these years.”

Rapp, who now stars in Star Trek: Discovery, told BuzzFeed, “He was trying to seduce me. I don’t know if I would have used that language. But I was aware that he was trying to get with me sexually.”

Steve Mack/WireImage

RELATED VIDEO: Kevin Spacey Reveals if He’s Protecting the Tony Envelopes in Clip

Rapp previously shared this story with The Advocate in 2001 but declined to name Spacey at the time. He tweeted Sunday that he decided to come forward with his story because of people who have come forward with their own stories of sexual harassment in recent weeks following the allegations made against Hollywood executive Harvey Weinstein.

“I came forward with my story, standing on the shoulders of the many courageous women and men who have been speaking out,” Rapp tweeted, “to shine a light and hopefully make a difference, as they have done for me.”

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