The Republican National Committee (RNC) deputy finance chair, Elliott Broidy, resigned from his position Friday after news broke that he hired President Trump's personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, to negotiate a settlement with a Playboy model in 2016.
"I acknowledge I had a consensual relationship with a Playboy Playmate," Broidy said in a statement. "At the end of our relationship, this woman shared with me that she was pregnant. She alone decided that she did not want to continue with the pregnancy and I offered to help her financially during this difficult period."
As with the deal Cohen made to buy the silence of adult film star Stormy Daniels about her alleged affair with President Trump, the Broidy settlement uses alliterative pseudonyms for the parties involved. And the women in each case share a lawyer: One Keith M. Davidson represented both Daniels and the Playboy model in the Broidy agreement in their dealings with Cohen.
In an internal FBI report obtained by CNN, former FBI Director James Comey reportedly contradicts former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe's public statements about his recent firing.
McCabe has stated he had authority to permit other FBI agents to speak to a Wall Street Journal reporter for an October 2016 article about the then-ongoing probe into the Clinton Foundation, and that Comey was notified. "It was not a secret," McCabe said. "[I]t took place over several days, and others, including [Comey], were aware of the interaction with the reporter."
Comey reportedly told Justice Department investigators he did not remember McCabe telling him about the authorization. A lack of candor was among the reasons cited by Attorney General Jeff Sessions for McCabe's dismissal.
An unnamed source told CNN the discrepancy is merely a matter of different memories. "They recall it differently," the source reportedly said. "Andy thinks in good faith he told him, and Comey in good faith says he wasn't told." Bonnie Kristian
Trump campaign data firm reportedly harvested 50 million American Facebook profiles to 'target their inner demons'
Cambridge Analytica, the data firm suspended by Facebook Friday over violations of the network's privacy policies, was in contact with Lukoil, a Russian oil company, in 2014 and 2015, The New York Times reported Saturday. When questioned last month, the head of the firm's British parent company denied knowledge of any business ties to Russia. A Lukoil executive told the Times the meetings "involved a promotional campaign with local soccer teams," denying any "contracts were signed."
Also Saturday, The Observer of London reported the company harvested 50 million American Facebook profiles for electioneering, a major data breach. "We exploited Facebook to harvest millions of people's profiles and built models to exploit what we knew about them and target their inner demons," said former Cambridge Analytica employee Christopher Wylie. "That was the basis the entire company was built on." Wylie attended the meeting with Lukoil and said the oil company repeatedly asked about "political targeting in America."
Cambridge Analytica was a Trump campaign contractor in 2016, though Facebook did not mention President Trump in its suspension announcement. Bonnie Kristian
Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe into Russian election meddling has expanded to include possible efforts by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to influence U.S. politics, The New York Times reported Saturday.
Mueller's team is investigating a Lebanese-American businessman, George Nader, who has served as an adviser to the UAE's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan. Nader had multiple meetings at the White House in 2017, speaking with President Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner as well as former chief strategist Stephen Bannon.
"The focus on Mr. Nader could also prompt an examination of how money from multiple countries has flowed through and influenced Washington during the Trump era," the New York Times story says. "How much this line of inquiry is connected to Mr. Mueller’s original task of investigating contacts between Mr. Trump's campaign and Russia is unclear."
Trump lawyer reportedly created a private company in Delaware to pay off adult film star Stormy Daniels
One month before the 2016 presidential election, President Trump's attorney Michael Cohen set up a private company in Delaware to pay former adult film star Stormy Daniels $130,000 in exchange for her silence regarding alleged sexual encounters with Trump, The Wall Street Journal reports.
The Journal spoke with people familiar with the matter and looked at state records showing that on Oct. 17, 2016, Cohen established Essential Consultants LLC, then used a bank account linked to the company to send $130,000 to the client-trust account of an attorney representing Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford. In Delaware, it's easier to set up business entities and there's more privacy, with many companies choosing to hire lawyers or agents to appear on the formation documents. In this case, Cohen is listed as the "authorized person" for the company, the Journal reports.
People with knowledge of the situation said pseudonyms were used to conduct the business, with Clifford referred to as "Peggy Peterson." Records also show that on Sept. 30, 2016, Cohen started an entity in Delaware called Resolution Consultants LLC, but on Oct. 17, just two minutes after creating Essential Consultants, he dissolved Resolution Consultants, for unknown reasons. The Journal first reported last week that Cohen paid Daniels off; he denies doing so. Catherine Garcia
Forged documents accusing Chuck Schumer of sexual harassment apparently used a real complaint against John Conyers as a template
A forged 13-page document accusing Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) of sexual harassment apparently copied language from a legitimate complaint filed against recently ousted Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), The Daily Beast reports.
Axios wrote Tuesday that the fake document that was circulated to several major media companies looked like a lawsuit that had been filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. It named a former Schumer staffer, who worked in his office from 2009 to 2012; when approached by Axios, the woman said that she had never seen the document before and that the claims are "completely false, my signature is forged, and even basic facts about me are wrong."
Right-wing personalities Charles Johnson and Mike Cernovich had "boasted" about the documents earlier this week, The Daily Beast writes, with Johnson posting on Facebook that "Michael Cernovich & I are going to end the career of a U.S. Senator." But upon closer inspection, there were several telltale signs that the documents had been forged:
The Conyers complaint references "House Rule 23" and a "mediation" process between Conyers and his accuser. The fake Schumer complaint also describes allegations as falling under "House Rule 23," which of course does not exist in the Senate. The "mediation" process in the Schumer document was never mentioned again. [The Daily Beast]
K.T. McFarland, President Trump's former deputy national security adviser and a member of his transition team, appeared to have misled the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on what she knew about communications between former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and former Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak, according to an email exchange obtained by The New York Times.
McFarland left her post in May and is waiting to be confirmed by the Senate as ambassador to Singapore. She appeared in front of the committee in July, and after the hearing, Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) asked her in writing if she ever spoke directly with Flynn about his contacts with Kislyak. McFarland responded by saying that she was "not aware of any of the issues or events as described above."
The Times obtained an email dated Dec. 29 regarding sanctions imposed against Russia by the Obama administration in response to Russian meddling in the election. McFarland told another member of the Trump transition team that Flynn would be speaking with Kislyak that evening. Flynn pleaded guilty last week to lying to the FBI about his discussions with Kislyak about the sanctions. Booker told the Times the email suggests McFarland gave false testimony. "If this is the case, this is an alarming development, and another example of a pattern of deception on the part of Trump's closest associates regarding their connections and communications to Russian government officials," he added. Catherine Garcia
The Washington Free Beacon, a conservative news website, confirmed Friday it hired Fusion GPS to do research on 2016 candidates, in the process funding the beginning of the project that would eventually lead to the publication of the unverified dossier compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele which claims to show ties between President Trump and the Russian government.
The site "had no knowledge of or connection to the Steele dossier, did not pay for the dossier, and never had contact with, knowledge of, or provided payment for any work performed by Christopher Steele," the Beacon said in a statement. "Nor did we have any knowledge of the relationship between Fusion GPS and the Democratic National Committee, [law firm] Perkins Coie, and the Clinton campaign." Representatives of the outlet have offered to testify about their work with Fusion GPS before the House Intelligence Committee.
After the Beacon stopped working with Fusion GPS, funding for the research was provided by a Perkins Coie attorney representing Hillary Clinton's campaign and the Democratic National Committee. Bonnie Kristian