Where the Trump-Related Investigations Stand - NBC Southern California
President Donald Trump

President Donald Trump

The latest news on President Donald Trump's presidency

Where the Trump-Related Investigations Stand

President Donald Trump's former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, says he bought the silence of two women because Trump was "very concerned" about how their stories of alleged affairs with him "would affect the election"

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Trump: Payments Made Were 'A Simple Private Transaction'

    President Trump is denying he told one time personal attorney and fixer Michael Cohen to pay hush money to two women who said they had affairs with Mr. Trump. The president called the payments "a simple private transaction", not a violation of campaign finance laws, which Cohen is going to jail for. (Published Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2018)

    President Donald Trump is facing escalating criminal investigations in Washington and New York that are examining not only whether his campaign coordinated with the Kremlin but also whether he illegally bought the silence of two women who say they had sex with him.

    A look at the nearly three dozen people charged by special counsel Robert Mueller and unanswered questions about what may lie ahead for the president — labeled "Individual-1" in court papers — and his administration:

    WHAT'S THE LATEST?
    President Donald Trump's former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, says he bought the silence of two women because Trump was "very concerned" about how their stories of alleged affairs with him "would affect the election."

    Cohen told ABC News he's angry with himself for the deals and that he "gave loyalty to someone who, truthfully, does not deserve loyalty."

    Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló Struggles to Name Supporters

    [NATL] Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló Struggles to Name Supporters

    In a live interview with Fox, he falsely claims that Javier Jiménez, the Mayor of San Sebastián, Puerto Rico, supports his effort to stay in office.

    (Published Tuesday, July 23, 2019)

    Cohen was sentenced Wednesday to three years in federal prison. He pleaded guilty to several charges, including campaign finance violations and lying to Congress. Federal prosecutors in the case connected Trump to a federal crime, accusing him of orchestrating the hush-money payments during the campaign.

    Prosecutors have said Trump directed Cohen to arrange the payments to buy the silence of porn actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal in the run-up to the 2016 campaign.

    Trump has denied he directed Cohen to break the law.

    A source told NBC News Thursday that Trump was in the room in August 2015 when Cohen discussed with the publisher of the National Enquirer could help counter negative stories about Trump's relationships with women.

    The tabloid's parent company has admitted to federal prosecutors that publisher David Pecker "offered to help deal with negative stories about that presidential candidate's relationships with women by, among other things, assisting the campaign in identifying such stories so they could be purchased and their publication avoided."

    The company admitted making a $150,000 payment "in concert with the campaign," and a person familiar with the matter told NBC News that Trump was in the meeting where the offer was made. Former assistant U.S. attorney Daniel Goldman told NBC News that if he were in the room, prosecutors may be able to argue Trump was the middle of a conspiracy to commit campaign finance fraud."

    Footage From 1992 Shows Trump, Epstein at Party

    [NATL] Footage From 1992 Shows Trump, Epstein at Party

    NBC released footage in its archives from 1992 of Donald Trump and Jeffrey Epstein at a party at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate. The video shows them laughing and pointing as they appear to talk about women at the event, NBC News reported. Trump has said he knew Epstein, but “was not a fan” and they have not spoken in 15 years.

    (Published Wednesday, July 17, 2019)

    The White House didn't respond to NBC News' request for comment.

    UNANSWERED QUESTIONS
    Did the Trump campaign collude with Russia?
    That remains unclear, though there is mounting evidence of direct contact throughout the campaign between Trump associates and Moscow and evidence that individuals in Trump's orbit were discussing a possible email dump from WikiLeaks before it occurred.

    American intelligence agencies and Mueller have said Russia was the source of hacked material released by WikiLeaks during the campaign that damaged Democrat Hillary Clinton's presidential effort.

    Additional ties between Russians and Trump aides were alleged within the last week. Prosecutors revealed that a Russian contacted Cohen in 2015 and offered "political synergy" between Russia and the Republican campaign. A person familiar with the matter confirmed that that person is a former Russian Olympic athlete named Dmitry Klokov.

    Trump and his lawyers have returned a list of written answers on the collusion question to Mueller, but it's unclear whether investigators will return with more questions.

    Did the president obstruct the investigation?
    That is another unresolved question that Mueller is pursuing. Investigators have examined key episodes such as Trump's firing of former FBI Director James Comey and his fury over the recusal from the investigation of former Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

    Congress Condemns Trump's 'Go Back' Comments

    [NATL] Congress Condemns Trump's 'Go Back' Comments
    The House of Representatives has passed a resolution that formally condemns President Donald Trump’s so-called racist comments about four Democratic congresswomen of color.
     
    (Published Wednesday, July 17, 2019)

    THE AMERICAN DEFENDANTS
    Paul Manafort: He has been convicted in Washington and Virginia of crimes related to years of Ukrainian political consulting work, including allegations he concealed his foreign government work from the United States and failed to pay taxes on it. Although the charges don't directly touch Trump, he's nonetheless remained a figure of considerable intrigue and enjoys the continued sympathy of the president, who has left open the door for a pardon.

    Rick Gates: The longtime associate of Manafort and key Trump campaign aide was indicted last year alongside his mentor but months later split from him by pleading guilty to unregistered foreign lobbying work and agreeing to cooperate with Mueller. No sentencing date has been scheduled for Gates, indicating that his cooperation with investigators is continuing.

    Michael Flynn: He has admitted lying to the FBI just days after Trump took office by telling agents that he had never discussed sanctions with the-then Russian ambassador to the United States. The White House said Flynn had misled administration officials, including Vice President Mike Pence, about the conversation and ousted him weeks later. He's since become a vital cooperator for Mueller, having met 19 times with investigators. Prosecutors aren't recommending any prison time when he's sentenced next week.

    Michael Cohen: He's at the center of not only Mueller's investigation but also a separate investigation into hush-money payments. In Mueller's investigation, Cohen has admitted lying to Congress about a proposed real estate development in Moscow. He told lawmakers the negotiations were done in January 2016 when in fact they stretched deep into the campaign. He also pleaded guilty in New York to campaign finance violations stemming from the payments, with prosecutors saying he "acted in coordination and at the direction of Individual-1" — Trump.

    George Papadopoulos: The former foreign policy adviser recently finished a 14-day prison sentence after admitting lying to the FBI about a 2016 conversation with a Maltese professor who told him Russia had "dirt" on Clinton in the form of emails.

    25 RUSSIANS
    Twelve military intelligence officers were charged in July with hacking the email accounts of Clinton's presidential campaign and the Democratic Party and then facilitating the release of tens of thousands of private communications. It remains perhaps the most direct example of what American intelligence officials say was a broad conspiracy by the Kremlin to meddle in the 2016 election on Trump's behalf.

    Sparks Fly Between Sen. Warren, Mark Esper Over Ties to Defense Contractor at Confirmation Hearing

    [NATL] Sparks Fly Between Sen. Warren, Mark Esper Over Ties to Defense Contractor at Confirmation Hearing

    During a confirmation hearing for Acting Defense Secretary Mark Esper, Senator Elizabeth Warren said because of his ties to lobbying for defense contractor Raytheon and refusal to recuse himself, he is not fit to be Secretary of Defense.

    (Published Tuesday, July 16, 2019)

    That indictment did not accuse any Americans of participating in the conspiracy, though it did include an eye-catching detail: The Russian hackers, prosecutors say, made an attempt to break into Clinton's network just hours after Trump appeared to invite them to do so. In a July 27, 2016, speech, Trump urged Russia to look for emails that Clinton said she had deleted from her tenure as secretary of state.

    "Russia, if you're listening," Trump said, "I hope you're able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing."

    A separate indictment charges 13 Russians with using a covert social media propaganda campaign to sow discord among Americans in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election. Prosecutors say the scheme was run by a Russia-based troll farm that relied on bogus social media postings and advertisements fraudulently purchased in the name of Americans to try to influence the election.

    OTHER DEFENDANTS
    Marina Butina:
    The Russian woman accused of being a secret agent who admitted Thursday that she conspired to infiltrate the American gun-rights movement to gather intelligence on conservative political groups as Trump rose to power. The case isn't being brought by Mueller but it covers similar themes to his probe into Russian election interference.

    Konstantin Kilimnik: The Ukrainian native, who U.S. authorities say has ties to Russian intelligence, was indicted on obstruction of justice charges involving Manafort. The men are accused of trying to persuade two witnesses to lie about the nature of political consulting and lobbying work they carried out for Ukrainian interests.

    Richard Pinedo: The California man was sentenced in October to six months in prison for unwittingly aiding the Russian troll farm by selling stolen identifications and bank account numbers that were used by Russians to establish PayPal accounts and purchase advertisements on Facebook.

    House GOP Leadership Defends Trump's Tweets: 'No,' Not Racist

    [NATL] House GOP Leadership Defends Trump's Tweets: 'No,' Not Racist

    Republican leaders in the House responded Tuesday to the outcry over President Donald Trump's tweets during a weekly news conference to address the media. Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said he didn't believe Trump's comments about four Democratic congresswomen of color were racist and Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., claimed GOP opposition to Democrats is based on policies and not "race or gender or religion."

    (Published Tuesday, July 16, 2019)

    Alex van der Zwaan: The Dutch attorney became the first person punished with prison in the Mueller investigation when he was given a monthlong sentence for lying to investigators about his contacts with Gates and Kilimnik and about a report prepared by his law firm about the trial of a former Ukrainian prime minister.

    OTHER NAMES YOU MAY HAVE HEARD
    Roger Stone: The longtime Trump confidant and self-proclaimed "dirty trickster" of Republican politics has been under investigation for months as prosecutors try to establish what knowledge he may have had about plans by WikiLeaks to release the stolen Democratic emails in the weeks before the election. Although a 2016 Stone tweet — "Trust me, it will soon the Podesta's time in the barrel" — appeared to presage the disclosure of hacked emails, Stone has said he had no inside knowledge about the content, source or timing of WikiLeaks' disclosure.

    Jerome Corsi: A conspiracy theorist and Stone friend, he's been under intense pressure from Mueller and even turned down a plea offer that would have required him to admit intentionally lying about a 2016 conversation he had with Stone about WikiLeaks. It's unclear when or if he will be indicted, but based on draft documents Corsi has released, prosecutors appear to believe that he misled them about email exchanges involving Assange and the purloined emails.

    Julian Assange: Prosecutors in the Eastern District of Virginia inadvertently disclosed the existence of a sealed criminal complaint against the WikiLeaks founder, though no details have been publicly announced. Assange, under Justice Department scrutiny for years for WikiLeaks' role in publishing government secrets, has been an important figure in the Mueller probe as investigators examine how WikiLeaks obtained the stolen emails and whether any Americans were involved in coordinating that effort.

    Donald Trump Jr.: The president's eldest son has attracted scrutiny for his role in arranging a Trump Tower meeting in June 2016 — also attended by Manafort and Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner — at which he expected to receive damaging information on Clinton. He has said the meeting was a waste of time because he didn't receive anything interesting from the attorney, Natalia Veselnitskaya. Both he and his father have suggested that anyone in that position would have taken the meeting in hopes of getting dirt on a political opponent. The meeting has been of interest to investigators, who have called multiple participants before the grand jury.

    Associated Press writer Mary Clare Jalonick contributed to this report.

    4 Congresswomen Respond to Trump’s ‘You Can Leave’ Remark

    [NATL] 4 Congresswomen Respond to Trump’s ‘You Can Leave’ Remark

    U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez ,D-N.Y., Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., Rep. Ayanna Pressley D-Mass., and Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., held a news conference Monday to respond to President Donald Trump, who targeted the women in tweets and comments widely labeled as racist.

    (Published Monday, July 15, 2019)