The FBI and Department of Justice are investigating the now-defunct British data firm Cambridge Analytica, and prosecutors have spent the last few weeks questioning former employees, an American official and others familiar with the matter told The New York Times.
Cambridge Analytica worked with President Trump's campaign and those of other Republicans during the 2014 and 2016 elections, and in March, it emerged that the firm had harvested private data from more than 50 million Facebook users. Using that data, the company developed techniques that could allegedly identify personalities of voters and influence their behavior. Earlier this month, Cambridge Analytica announced it was shutting down and declaring bankruptcy, saying bad press and investigations like one launched by the National Crime Agency of Britain had ruined the business.
One of the prosecutors involved in the U.S. investigation is Brian Kidd, the assistant chief of the Justice Department's securities and financial fraud division, the Times reports. Christopher Wylie, a former Cambridge Analytica employee who is now a vocal critic of the firm and its practices, confirmed to the Times that he was contacted by the FBI and has answered some preliminary questions. Catherine Garcia
White House attorneys are looking into whether two loans worth more than $500 million given to President Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner's family real estate business violated any criminal laws or federal ethics regulations, The Wall Street Journal reports.
The Journal obtained a letter from David Apol, the acting director of the Office of Government Ethics, to Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.), who had raised concerns over meetings Kushner had in the White House with executives from Apollo Global Management and Citigroup right before each company loaned Kushner Cos. millions. Responding to Krishnamoorthi, Apol wrote that he discussed the matter with the White House Counsel's Office, and he was notified that they were already investigating the loans and whether "any law or regulation has been violated and whether any additional procedures are necessary to avoid violations in the future."
Apol also said that he's asked the White House to keep him updated on the results of the investigation. Kushner Cos. received a $184 million loan from Apollo and a $325 million loan from Citigroup, and both companies have denied that the loans were approved because of the Kushner meetings. Catherine Garcia
The London offices of Cambridge Analytica were raided overnight Friday by agents of the United Kingdom's Information Commissioner's office. The seven-hour search, which completed early Saturday, was authorized by a warrant to investigate the company's database and servers.
"This is just one part of a larger investigation into the use of personal data and analytics for political purposes," said the Information Commissioner's office of the raid. "As you will expect, we will now need to collect, assess, and consider the evidence before coming to any conclusions."
Cambridge Analytica is the data firm alleged to have illicitly acquired and used information from the Facebook profiles of tens of millions of Americans for targeted campaign ads. The Trump campaign was among its clients, as was a super PAC organized by incoming National Security Adviser John Bolton.
When one case closes, another opens.
The House Ethics Committee on Thursday announced that it has determined Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) did not reveal any classified information related to the House investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. A complaint was filed in April after Nunes, who was leading the probe, told reporters he received intelligence reports that included the names of members of the Trump transition team, and thinking this wasn't fair, he briefed President Trump about what he saw. He was criticized and later revealed he received the information at the White House. Nunes said he would step away from leading the investigation but never recused himself, and he has not said if he plans on taking back control of the investigation.
The committee also said on Thursday it is launching an investigation into Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Texas), who used $84,000 in taxpayer money to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by a former member of his staff. They will look into whether he did sexually harass her, if he discriminated against her because of her gender, and if he made inappropriate comments to other members of his staff. At least one Republican lawmaker, Rep. Mia Love of Utah, is calling on Farenthold to resign. Catherine Garcia
Before Staff Sgt. Logan Melgar died in Mali on June 4, the 34-year-old Green Beret discovered that the two members of SEAL Team Six now suspected of murdering him had been stealing money from a fund used to pay local informants, five members of the special-operations community told The Daily Beast's Spencer Ackerman and Kevin Maurer.
Melgar had told his wife he had a bad feeling about two of the partners he was working with — the SEALs — and he would tell her more when he returned home, one official told The Daily Beast. The SEALs had offered to start giving Melgar money from the funds, used in Mali to pay informants providing important intelligence to security forces, and he said no, two sources said.
Military investigators are now trying to determine what exactly happened to Melgar the day he died. The officials said an altercation started at 5 a.m., and Melgar ended up losing consciousness. The SEALs tried to open an airway in his throat, and they drove him to a clinic, but he was dead on arrival, his cause of death determined to be asphyxiation. Top officials became suspicious when the SEALs said Melgar was drunk but his autopsy came back showing no drugs or alcohol in his system, a former U.S. Africa Command official told The Daily Beast. The Navy Criminal Investigative Service would not comment for the story, only confirming that the investigation is taking place. Read more about the investigation at The Daily Beast. Catherine Garcia
Two members of the Navy's SEAL Team Six are under suspicion of being involved in the death of an Army Green Beret last June in Mali, U.S. officials told CNN Sunday.
A spokesman for the Naval Criminal Investigation Service told CNN that NCIS has started an investigation into the death of Army Staff Sgt. Logan J. Melgar, a Special Forces engineer sergeant who enlisted in 2012 and served two deployments to Afghanistan. Melgar was found dead in his room at a U.S. government compound near the American Embassy in Bamako, Mali, The New York Times reports. A military examiner has ruled his death a homicide, CNN says, and the Times reports he was strangled.
Melgar was a member of the 3rd Special Forces Group, which operates in northwest Africa. The four American service members killed in an ambush earlier this month in Niger were part of the same group. Catherine Garcia
Federal prosecutors in Manhattan are collaborating with Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team to investigate suspected money laundering by President Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, several people familiar with the matter told The Wall Street Journal.
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman's office has its own ongoing investigation into Manafort and money laundering, and the special counsel team has communicated with Schneiderman, WSJ reports. Manafort has previously denied any wrongdoing, and his spokesman declined to comment to WSJ.
Federal prosecutors in Brooklyn are pursuing a parallel investigation into Kushner Cos., owned by the family of Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner. Trump has reportedly interviewed potential candidates to lead the U.S. attorney's offices in Manhattan and Brooklyn, with one having ties to his personal attorney and the other to his friend Rudy Giuliani. Catherine Garcia
Leaked emails show how Milo Yiannopoulos worked with Stephen Bannon, alt-right to transform Breitbart
Before becoming White House chief strategist, Stephen Bannon ran Breitbart, a website he said he wanted to be "the platform for the alt-right." Documents and emails obtained by BuzzFeed News show how Breitbart's former tech editor, right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos, worked with white nationalists to define "alt-right" and set Breitbart on its current course.
With Bannon back at Breitbart after his stint in the White House, Yiannopoulos is Breitbart's most famous alumnus, having left the site in February. BuzzFeed News reveals several noteworthy tidbits about him — like Yiannopoulos' penchant for using Nazi-related passwords (one started with "LongKnives1290," another "Kristall") — as well as emails between Bannon and Yiannopoulos, including one where Bannon admonishes Yiannopoulos for not doing his part to "help save western civilization."
BuzzFeed News goes in-depth on how Yiannopoulos and his deputy/frequent ghostwriter Allum Bokhari compiled an article ultimately titled "An Establishment Conservative's Guide to the Alt-Right." Looking for advice and information on the alt-right's mindset, Yiannopoulos emailed Andrew "Weev" Auernheimer, who wrote about being a white nationalist on the neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer, and Devin Saucier, who helps edit the white nationalist online magazine American Renaissance. After Bokhari wrote the first draft, Yiannopoulos wrote to Saucier, saying, "I think you'll like what I'm cooking up." Saucier replied: "I look forward to it. Bannon, as you probably know, is sympathetic to much of it."
In a statement to BuzzFeed News, Yiannopoulos said he finds "humor in breaking taboos and laughing at things that people tell me are forbidden to joke about," but "as someone of Jewish ancestry, I of course condemn racism in the strongest possible terms." For more on Breitbart, the alt-right, and a video of Yiannopoulos singing "America the Beautiful" at a Dallas bar as white nationalist Richard Spencer and others "sieg heil," visit BuzzFeed News. Catherine Garcia