It might’ve been easy to miss this Politico piece – it was published around midnight on Friday evening – but for those following the Trump-Russia scandal closely, the piece was chock full of interesting news. Let’s start with the 16th lawyers to join the Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s legal team.
An attorney working on the Justice Department’s highest-profile money-laundering case recently transferred off that assignment in order to join the staff of the special prosecutor investigating the Trump campaign’s potential ties to Russia, POLITICO has learned.
Attorney Kyle Freeny was among the prosecutors on hand Friday as Jason Maloni, a spokesman for former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, testified before a grand jury at federal court in Washington.
Freeny’s background in examining potential money-laundering is significant given the money-laundering questions surrounding this controversy. See this TRMS segment from mid-August, for example.
Also note, Freeny has been working on the Justice Department’s case related to profits from the film “The Wolf of Wall Street,” which as the Politico article noted, was allegedly financed “with assets looted from the Malaysian government.” (Donald Trump hosted a controversial meeting with Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak at the White House last week.)
The same Politico piece also noted that the “Wolf of Wall Street” case is a product of the Justice Department’s Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative, “an effort to pursue the proceeds of foreign corruption and return such monies to the public in the affected countries.” This is the same initiative that’s investigating Ukrainian officials, including former President Viktor Yanukovych – who was a benefactor of Paul Manafort, Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman.
And that wasn’t the only news related to the scandal that emerged over the weekend:
* The Wall Street Journal reported late Friday that Facebook has “handed over to special counsel Robert Mueller detailed records about the Russian ad purchases on its platform that go beyond what the company shared with Congress last week, according to people familiar with the matter.”
* NBC News reported that attorney Michael Cohen, one of Donald Trump’s closest business advisers, is scheduled to testify tomorrow to the Senate Intelligence Committee, as part of its investigation into the Russia scandal. (The hearing will reportedly be held behind closed doors.)
* And Politico reported that former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn’s family has created a legal defense fund on his behalf. According to the article, “The fund will not accept donations from foreign governments, nor will it accept money from the Trump campaign or the Trump Organization.”
This news follows an NBC News report from Wednesday that Michael G. Flynn, the son of the scandal-plagued former Trump aide, is himself “a subject of the federal investigation into Russian meddling in the presidential election and possible collusion between Moscow and the Trump campaign…. The inquiry into Flynn is focused at least in part on his work with his father’s lobbying firm, Flynn Intel Group, three of the officials said.”