In August of 2016, President Trump's eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., met in Trump Tower with an emissary of two Saudi princes offering his father help in winning the presidential election, The New York Times reported Saturday.
Per the Times report, the meeting was arranged by Erik Prince, founder of the private military firm formerly known as Blackwater and brother of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. Also present was an Israeli social media specialist who wanted to work for the campaign.
Trump Jr. said through a representative the meeting happened, but he rejected the offers. The Times story says otherwise, citing unnamed sources to report "Trump Jr. responded approvingly," and the emissary, George Nader, "was quickly embraced as a close ally by Trump campaign advisers — meeting frequently with Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump's son-in-law, and Michael T. Flynn, who became the president's first national security adviser." The social media specialist, Joel Zamel, was later paid a "large sum of money" by Nader, though the reason for the payment is disputed.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions told the White House he may quit if his second-in-command, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, is fired by President Trump, The Washington Post reported Friday evening. Because Sessions has recused himself from Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia probe, Rosenstein oversees it, which has made him a target of the president's ire.
One of the Post's sources said the message was not a threat but a communication of "the untenable position that Rosenstein's firing would" create for Sessions in an already tumultuous administration. Sessions himself has been in Trump's crosshairs in the past, reportedly as recently as this month. Bonnie Kristian
President Trump's personal attorney, Michael Cohen, has represented three clients over the past year: the president, GOP fundraiser Elliot Broidy, and a third mystery man he refused to name. On Monday, a judge ordered that it be revealed that the third client is Fox News host Sean Hannity.
The revelation comes after The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday night that Cohen used a shell company to pay $130,000 to adult film star Stormy Daniels for her silence on her alleged affair with Trump more than a decade ago, as well as to pay a former Playboy model $1.6 million for her silence about her claim that Broidy got her pregnant. "A Cohen lawyer, Stephen Ryan, had said that the third client, whom Cohen initially would not name, told Cohen over the weekend not to allow his name to get out," Bloomberg reports, just before the judge ordered Hannity to be named publicly.
Cohen has argued that some documents seized in a raid of his office and residences last week are covered by attorney-client privilege and has requested his own lawyers review what was taken. Jeva Lange
Update 4:04 p.m. ET: Hannity denied on Twitter that Cohen has acted on his behalf. "Michael Cohen has never represented me in any matter," Hannity wrote. "I never retained him, received an invoice, or paid legal fees. I have occasionally had brief discussions with him about legal questions about which I wanted his input and perspective." He continued: "I assumed those conversations were confidential, but to be absolutely clear they never involved any matter between me and a third-party."
The FBI agents who raided Cohen's office were reportedly looking for information about the Access Hollywood tape
The FBI was looking for documents concerning the infamous Access Hollywood tape when they raided the office and residences of President Trump's personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, The New York Times reports. The tape, recorded in 2005 and made public just before the 2016 election, depicts Trump bragging into a hot mic about kissing and grabbing women by their genitals.
While it wasn't immediately clear what Cohen's relation might be to the tape, the news "reveals a new front in the investigation into Mr. Cohen that is being led by the United States attorney's office in Manhattan," The New York Times writes, explaining that authorities appear to be interested in Cohen's role in Trump's personal life. That helps explain, the Times writes, "why Mr. Trump was furious about the raid."
Other reports have said that the FBI agents were additionally looking for records of payments to former Playboy model Karen McDougal and adult film star Stormy Daniels, both of whom say they had sex with Trump more than a decade ago. The search warrant also reportedly sought information related to Cohen's possible violations of campaign finance laws and possible bank fraud. Jeva Lange
Stormy Daniels reportedly threatened to go public with Trump affair allegations right before Election Day
Adult film star Stormy Daniels, who allegedly had an affair with President Trump around the time his third wife, first lady Melania Trump, gave birth to their son, threatened to go public with her story shortly before the 2016 election, The Washington Post reported Friday evening.
Trump's personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, arranged to pay Daniels $130,000 of his own money to buy her silence about a relationship he says did not occur. In late October of 2016, the payment had yet to arrive, and Daniels' attorney emailed Cohen to say his client "deems her settlement agreement canceled and void." The money eventually arrived a mere 12 days before the election, and Daniels kept silent until the story of the alleged affair broke in January.
The payment is now subject to two complaints filed with the Federal Election Commission. Read The Week's Paul Waldman on why the money "almost certainly constituted an in-kind campaign contribution" — and what that means for Cohen and Trump. Bonnie Kristian
The Department of Justice filed Friday evening for the dismissal of a lawsuit brought by President Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, against Special Counsel Robert Mueller, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, and the DOJ itself. Manafort is under indictment as part of Mueller's probe into Russian election meddling, an investigation overseen by Rosenstein and the DOJ.
Friday's filing denies Manafort's allegation that Mueller has operated beyond "the scope of his authority, including with respect to Manafort's ongoing criminal prosecution." "These claims lack merit," said Rosenstein.
Former Apprentice villain Omarosa Manigault Newman is rumored to have a penchant for recording confidential discussions and may be a person of interest in Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation as a result, the New York Daily News reports.
Manigault Newman's last day as the director of communications for the Office of Public Liaison is Saturday. While she claims to be leaving to "pursue other opportunities," the decision to bring "members of her 39-person bridal party to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. for an extended wedding photo shoot" might be the most memorable moment in her short tenure, Politico writes.
Recently, though, Manigault Newman has allegedly been checking out high-profile attorneys, including Harvey Weinstein's former lawyer Lisa Bloom and Bill Cosby's former lawyer Monique Pressley, a person familiar with the meetings told the Daily News. "The 43-year-old apparently believes she may become a fixture in Mueller's investigation," the Daily News writes.
The person close to Manigault Newman said "everyone knows Omarosa loves to record people and meetings using the voice notes app on her iPhone. Don't be surprised if she has secret audio files on everyone in that White House, past and present staffers included."
Manigault Newman told Good Morning America in an interview in December that "when I have a chance to tell my story to tell — quite a story — as the only African-American woman in this White House, as a senior staff and assistant to the president, I have seen things that have made me uncomfortable, that have upset me, that have affected me deeply and emotionally, that has affected my community and my people, and when I can tell my story, it is a profound story that I know the world will want to hear." Read more about what she might have caught on tape at the New York Daily News. Jeva Lange
In an ill-conceived attempt to disprove allegations that her husband doesn't "care for Jews," the wife of former Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore pointed out on the eve of the special election in December that "one of our attorneys is a Jew!"
But the Birmingham-based attorney in question told the Washington Examiner on Tuesday that he was actually one of the reasons Moore was ultimately defeated by Democrat Doug Jones. "There could not be a more passionate supporter of Doug than me!" said Richard Jaffe, who was hired by the Moores in 2016 to defend their son against drug charges.
Moore's comments first raised concern when he claimed Jewish billionaire George Soros is "going to the same place that people who don't recognize God and morality and accept his salvation are going." Moore's wife, Kayla, later insisted that claims that Moore's remark was anti-Semitic were "fake news."
Jaffe plans to attend Jones' swearing in Wednesday in Washington, D.C., the Washington Examiner reports. Jeva Lange