After learning in 2013 that Us Weekly was preparing to run a story about Donald Trump Jr. having an affair with Celebrity Apprentice contestant Aubrey O'Day, President Trump's personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, was able to get the magazine to kill the piece, The Wall Street Journal reports.
The Trump Organization was asked to comment on the story, and when Cohen called the magazine back, he threatened legal action, one person told the Journal. Us Weekly decided not to run the story, reportedly feeling it wasn't worth going to court over and wanting to maintain a "good working relationship" with Trump. Last month, Trump Jr. and his wife of 12 years, Vanessa, announced they were splitting up. O'Day, a singer, appeared on Celebrity Apprentice in 2011, when Trump Jr. was a judge.
The Journal also reported on Sunday that Cohen used the same limited liability company, based in Delaware, to pay off adult film star Stormy Daniels, who claims she had a sexual encounter with Trump, and a Playboy Playmate who had an affair with ex-Republican National Committee Deputy Finance Chairman Elliott Broidy. Cohen's home, office, and hotel room were raided by FBI agents last week, searching for documents related to the Daniels case, among other subjects. Catherine Garcia
FBI counterintelligence investigators are taking a close look at the negotiations and financing of the Trump International Hotel and Tower in Vancouver, Canada, former and current U.S. officials told CNN.
The Trump Organization does not own the hoteld but receives licensing and marketing fees from the property. President Trump's daughter and senior adviser Ivanka Trump had a key role in launching the deal with the hotel's developer, Joo Kim Tiah, in 2013, and the property opened in February 2017. Tiah is from one of the wealthiest families in Malaysia, and runs its Canada-based development company, Holborn Group. Per President Trump's financial disclosure form from June, the Trump Organization made more than $5 million in royalties and $21,500 in management fees from the hotel.
It's not clear why FBI investigators are looking at this deal, but it might be because it's one of just a handful of Trump-branded properties that have opened since Trump's inauguration, CNN reports. While doing background checks for security clearances, the FBI looks into foreign contacts and business deals to see if a person is vulnerable to pressure or blackmail, and this may be what's standing in Trump's way of getting full security clearance. A spokesman for Ivanka Trump's ethics counsel told CNN they are "wrong that any hurdle, obstacle, concern, red flag, or problem has been raised with respect to Ms. Trump or her clearance application." Catherine Garcia
Several journalists who worked with former Fox News chief Washington correspondent James Rosen told NPR he left the network late last month after higher-ups took a closer look at his behavior toward women.
Fox News confirmed Rosen's departure in December, but did not say why he left after 18 years with the network or announce his exit on air. NPR spoke with eight of his former colleagues at the Fox News Washington, D.C., bureau, who said Rosen had a long history of making sexual advances and aggressive flirting toward co-workers.
Four people told NPR that in 2001, after Rosen was rebuffed by a reporter he groped, he attempted to take away her sources and stories. Several others told NPR that Rosen sexually harassed a foreign national producer covering the State Department, who accepted a deal from Fox News not to say anything in exchange for being allowed to work longer in the United States, and that he tried to forcibly kiss a young reporter twice last year.
In recent years, Fox News has fired several men after they were publicly accused of sexual harassment or misconduct, including late former chairman and CEO Roger Ailes and former hosts Bill O'Reilly and Eric Bolling, who have both denied any wrongdoing. Fox News and Rosen, who is married, declined to comment to NPR. Catherine Garcia
White House officials are investigating the use of private email to conduct government business by several of President Trump's top aides, four officials with knowledge of the matter told Politico.
The internal investigation was launched after Politico and The New York Times reported earlier this week that at least six current and former officials — including President Trump's senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner, daughter Ivanka Trump, and former Chief of Staff Reince Priebus — used private accounts to send and receive work-related emails. Officials are looking at emails on the White House server, and are focusing on Kushner and Ivanka Trump's private email domain; Kushner's lawyer said his client has fewer than 100 emails about government business in his private account, and they have been forwarded to his White House account.
White House lawyers were shocked when they found out aides were using private emails for work, officials told Politico, and several White House staffers were livid by the revelation. It's unclear if any confidential messages were exchanged, and the investigation, which could last several months and is being led by the White House counsel's office, will attempt to figure that out. Catherine Garcia
Federal investigators reportedly want to know if Trump covered up the purpose of Trump Jr.'s 2016 meeting with Russians
The team working with Special Counsel Robert Mueller is focusing on President Trump's role in crafting a response to a New York Times article about the meeting his eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., had in June 2016 with a Kremlin-linked attorney and former Soviet intelligence officer, and whether Trump "knowingly" made a "false statement," three people familiar with the matter told NBC News.
The federal investigators are trying to determine what Trump knew about the meeting, held in Trump Tower and also attended by his campaign chairman at the time, Paul Manafort, and son-in-law, Jared Kushner. The younger Trump initially told the Times in a statement that the meeting was "short" and was only about Americans adopting Russian children, but in further reporting, the Times revealed that the meeting was actually set up in order to discuss damaging information on Trump's opponent, Hillary Clinton, as shown in emails Trump Jr. ended up releasing minutes ahead of the Times.
When pressed, the White House said President Trump "weighed in" on his son's first response to the Times while flying back to the U.S. from Germany, while The Washington Post reported that Trump "dictated" it. One person familiar with Mueller's strategy told NBC News that even if "Trump is not charged with a crime as a result of the statement, it could be useful to Mueller's team to show Trump's conduct to a jury that may be considering other charges." The White House did not respond to NBC News' requests for comment. Catherine Garcia
The White House is preparing to send the Pentagon a memo with instructions on how to implement President Trump's proposal to ban transgender people from serving in the armed forces, The Wall Street Journal reports.
The new policy will let Defense Secretary James Mattis consider a service member's ability to deploy when deciding whether to remove him or her from the military, the Journal reports, and it gives Mattis six months to re-establish the ban on transgender soldiers. The memo also directs the Pentagon to stop paying for gender dysphoria treatments for transgender military members currently serving. Trump announced on Twitter last month he would reinstate the ban on transgender individuals serving in the military, a year after it was abolished by former President Barack Obama. Catherine Garcia
The U.S. Navy is planning on relieving Vice Admiral Joseph Aucoin of duty as commander of the Seventh Fleet, following four crashes, two of them deadly, in Asia since January, U.S. officials told The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday.
Aucoin is a three-star commander, and he will be removed on Wednesday, the officials said; the Navy declined to comment to the Journal. The Seventh Fleet is based in Yokosuka, Japan, and the most recent collision took place early Monday, when the USS John S. McCain and a tanker crashed in the waters east of Singapore and the Straits of Malacca; 10 sailors were reported missing, and the bodies of some of the sailors were recovered on Tuesday. Catherine Garcia
The New York Times has obtained an internal announcement from the Justice Department that shows the Trump administration wants the civil rights division to start investigating university affirmative action admission policies and sue those schools they decide discriminate against white applicants.
The DOJ is looking for current lawyers who want to work on "investigations and possible litigation related to intentional race-based discrimination in college and university admissions," the Times reports, and the memo suggests this special project will be run out of the front office of the civil rights division, which is where political appointees work. The Times' Charlie Savage writes that both supporters and critics of the project said it is "clearly targeting admissions programs that can give members of generally disadvantaged groups, like black and Latino students, an edge over other applicants with comparable or higher test scores."
The Justice Department would not share any additional details. You can read the entire report, which discusses what the civil rights division does and how it has changed since President Trump's inauguration, at The New York Times. Catherine Garcia