November 27, 2018

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) will investigate whether three members of President Trump's Florida Mar-a-Lago resort had undue influence on his administration's policy for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) requested a GAO probe in August after a report from ProPublica alleged this "informal council that is exerting sweeping influence on the VA." Multiple current and former VA officials corroborated the report to CNN that month.

The three Mar-a-Lago members implicated are a Palm Beach doctor named Bruce Moskowitz, Marvel Entertainement chair Ike Perlmutter, and an attorney named Marc Sherman. "None of them has ever served in the U.S. military or government," ProPublica reported, "Yet from a thousand miles away, they have leaned on VA officials and steered policies affecting millions of Americans." The three men said they'd simply volunteered requested advice without wielding any real authority.

The GAO told Warren and Schatz in a Nov. 19 letter the investigation is "within the scope of its authority" and will begin in the spring. In the meantime, read more about the VA's longstanding and numerous problems here at The Week. Bonnie Kristian

November 15, 2018

FBI agents are investigating the death of a 52-year-old woman while aboard a Princess Cruises ship on its way to Aruba.

Early Tuesday, the woman, whose name has not been released, fell from an upper deck onto a lifeboat, authorities in Aruba said. A local news outlet said witnesses saw the woman fighting with another passenger before she plunged to her death.

The Caribbean cruise left Port Everglades, Florida, on Nov. 9, and was traveling from Curacao to Aruba when the woman died. Her husband was on the ship with her, HuffPost reports, and has not been named as a suspect. A spokeswoman for the Aruba Public Prosecutor's Office told USA Today it is "obvious that she fell, but why did she fall? Was she pushed? Did she jump? That is what we are investigating, to find out exactly what happened." Catherine Garcia

October 25, 2018

Authorities investigating the explosive devices sent this week to several critics of President Trump are now focusing on southern Florida, a law enforcement official told The New York Times Thursday.

After analyzing information collected by the U.S. Postal Service, investigators believe that most of the 10 pipe bombs that have been sent were mailed from the state, the Times reports. The Postal Service records images of mail items, and officials are looking through those photos as they try to figure out who sent the packages and if there are still any out there.

The first explosive device was delivered to billionaire George Soros on Monday, with packages addressed to Hillary Clinton and former President Barack Obama intercepted on Wednesday. On Thursday, it was announced suspicious packages containing explosives were sent to former Vice President Joe Biden and actor Robert De Niro.

All 10 explosive devices were mailed in manila envelopes lined with bubble wrap, with Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) as the return address. New York City Police Commissioner James O'Neill said Thursday they were all "live devices," and although none exploded, they should be "treated with the utmost seriousness." Catherine Garcia

October 18, 2018

The Interior Department's inspector general's office has found that Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke violated the department's travel policy by bringing his wife, Lola, on an overseas trip and letting her travel in government vehicles.

In a report released Thursday, the watchdog said Zinke violated additional policies by allowing his unarmed security detail to drive an associate to the airport. The report also said it cost taxpayers $25,000 for the Zinkes to travel with a security detail during a vacation to Turkey last summer. The inspector general's office is conducting at least four investigations into Zinke.

Also on Thursday, Interior Department officials said they never approved the hiring of Suzanne Israel Tuft, a political appointee to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, as the Interior Department's acting inspector general, despite HUD Secretary Ben Carson announcing her move last week. This was "100 percent false information," Interior Department spokeswoman Heather Swift said in a statement. "Ms. Tufts is not employed by the department and no decision was ever made to move her to Interior."

Swift confirmed to The Washington Post that Deputy Inspector General Mary Kendall is still leading the office, and said that while the White House did refer Tufts to the Interior Department "as a potential candidate" for a position in the inspector general's office, "at the end of the day, she was not offered a job at Interior." Catherine Garcia

October 2, 2018

After The New York Times published a blockbuster investigation Tuesday on President Trump's finances, detailing how he allegedly helped his parents dodge taxes and disguise millions of dollars in gifts, the New York State Tax Department announced it will look into the claims.

Department officials told ABC News they are "vigorously pursuing all appropriate avenues of investigation." After reviewing financial records and confidential tax documents and interviewing several people, the Times reports that Trump used "dubious tax schemes" in the 1990s to increase his wealth and helped his father, Fred, take improper tax deductions worth millions. Trump has long asserted that he turned a $1 million loan from his father into billions, but the Times says that Trump has been receiving money from his dad's real estate empire since he was a toddler, getting the equivalent today of at least $413 million.

Trump's attorney called the report "100 percent false and highly defamatory." New York tax authorities have already been investigating the Trump Foundation and Michael Cohen, Trump's former attorney and fixer. Catherine Garcia

August 1, 2018

Ohio State University announced Wednesday it has placed head football coach Urban Meyer on paid leave while the school investigates accusations that he knew about a 2015 domestic violence allegation against former assistant football coach Zach Smith.

Smith's ex-wife, Courtney Smith, told Stadium that several people close to Meyer, including his wife, Shelley, were aware of Zach Smith's alleged abuse of her, and she believes Meyer "knew, and instead he chose to help the abuser and enable the abuser and believe whatever story Zach was telling everybody." In July, Zach Smith was charged with criminal trespassing after dropping his children off at Courtney Smith's house, an event that led to his firing. After Smith was let go, Meyer said he didn't know about the 2015 police investigation into domestic violence by his assistant coach. Courtney Smith also said that following an altercation in 2009, she was told by Hiram DeFries, special assistant to Meyer, not to pursue charges of domestic violence against her then-husband.

Ohio State's offensive coordinator, Ryan Day, will serve as acting head coach during the investigation. The football team starts practicing on Friday. Catherine Garcia

May 15, 2018

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

March 26, 2018

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

See More Speed Reads