Fired FBI Chief Says Trump Asked Him to Drop Flynn-Russia Probe; Manafort Real Estate Deals Scrutinized
Memo to file. Just three weeks after taking office, Trump asked FBI director James Comey to shut down the federal investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn, according to a memo Comey wrote chronicling the Feb. 14 meeting. “I hope you can let this go,” Trump told Comey, who shared the existence of the memo with senior FBI officials and close associates. The memo also says Trump told the FBI chief he should consider jailing reporters over leaks of classified information. Comey’s memo is the clearest evidence that Trump tried to directly obstruct the FBI investigation of Kremlin ties to the campaign and the White House. Late Tuesday, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), chairman of the House Oversight Committee, demanded that the FBI turn over all evidence of discussions between Trump and Comey. Trump fired Comey earlier this month.
Manafort investigations. New York State’s attorney general and Manhattan’s district attorney have reportedly opened investigations into former Donald Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort’s real estate deals. Manafort bought condos and apartments in New York–including a $3.7 million condo at Trump Tower–Los Angeles, Virginia and Florida, and used many of those properties as collateral as he borrowed from companies with ties to Trump. Schneiderman’s office is likely focusing on whether any of the deals were used for money laundering, while Vance is most likely looking into whether there was any fraud committed, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Braggart-in-Chief. Trump boasted about classified information about an Islamic state plot in a meeting last week with the Russian foreign minister and the Russian ambassador to the United States. The information reportedly was from Israel. Trump may have put a spy’s life at risk by his comments.
Texas hold-up. Texas is trying to claw back the millions of dollars in federal Medicaid funds that it gave up four years ago so it could ban Planned Parenthood from participating in a family planning program for low-income women. If the Trump administration agrees, other states could follow. About 40% of Planned Parenthood’s funding for services other than abortion comes from the government, mostly through Medicaid.
Pesticide poisoning. Farmworkers near Bakersfield, Calif., were sickened by a toxic pesticide that apparently drifted from a nearby field. The pesticide contained chlorpyrifos which EPA administrator Scott Pruitt recently decided to keep on the market, despite recommendations from agency scientists that it be banned.
Trumping down. NATO is dumbing down its May 25 meeting for Trump, telling heads of state to limit talks to two to four minutes. The shortened talks are because Trump is well-known for his limited attention span. Trump repeatedly called NATO obsolete during the campaign but flip-flopped in April after a meeting with NATO secretary Jens Stoltenberg
OSHA inaction. Trump’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the federal agency that is supposed to look after the safety of workers, issued its first news release about enforcement actions in April after nearly three months of silence. The agency proposed a $1.475 million fine against Atlantic Drain Service Coof Boston for the deaths of two men in October 2016 in a trench collapse. Jordan Barab, a deputy assistant secretary in the Obama administration, is publicizing the penalties against companies for unsafe working conditions as a private citizen with his blog, Confined Space.