August 14, 2019

Aides have been encouraging President Trump to voice his support for pro-democracy demonstrators in Hong Kong, but he has so far refused, several people familiar with the matter told Politico on Wednesday.

Under Chinese rule since 1997, Hong Kong is supposed to be governed under the "one country, two systems" policy, but protesters say Beijing is trying to assert more control over all aspects of life. China has accused the protesters of committing acts of terror.

People with knowledge of the matter told Politico Trump is only concerned with trade negotiations, and doesn't want to say anything negative about Chinese leader Xi Jinping. Trump also had a phone conversation with Xi prior to the G-20 summit in June, three people familiar with the call told Politico, and Trump promised Xi he would not condemn the Chinese government over a crackdown in Hong Kong, saying it was an internal matter.

Trump tweeted on Wednesday evening that Xi is "a great leader who very much has the respect of his people," and if he "wants to quickly and humanely solve the Hong Kong problem, he can do it. Personal meeting?" Catherine Garcia

August 11, 2019

While in a protective unit at the Metropolitan Correction Center in Manhattan, financier and alleged sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein was supposed to be checked by two guards every 30 minutes, but that protocol was not followed on Friday night, a law enforcement official told The New York Times.

Epstein, 66, was found dead inside his cell at 6:30 a.m. Saturday morning. Three weeks ago, Epstein was discovered inside his cell semiconscious with bruises around his neck, and was placed on suicide watch. Six days later, after going through daily psychiatric evaluations, the jail determined Epstein was no longer a threat to himself, and he was removed from suicide watch, the Times reports. Epstein was supposed to have a cellmate, three officials told the Times, but that man was recently transferred and Epstein was alone, in violation of the jail's rules.

On Friday, details from a civil suit against Epstein were released, revealing alleged incidents involving Epstein and other men abusing girls. The two guards on duty that night were working overtime, with one working a fifth straight day and the other ordered to come in, the Times reports.

Conspiracy theories are now swirling around Epstein's death, and on Sunday night, New York City's chief medical examiner said an autopsy has been conducted. She would not share her findings, but a city official told the Times she is confident Epstein's cause of death is suicide by hanging. The FBI and Department of Justice are launching investigations into Epstein's death. Attorney General William Barr's father, Donald Barr, hired Epstein to work at The Dalton School in New York City while he was headmaster. Catherine Garcia

July 24, 2019

While working to cut ties with Jeffrey Epstein earlier this year, Deutsche Bank officials discovered that the disgraced financier not only had dozens of accounts, but he had also made several suspicious transactions involving moving money out of the United States, three people familiar with the matter told The New York Times.

The bank decided to drop Epstein late last year, after the Miami Herald published a report on sexual abuse allegations against Epstein from teenage girls; earlier this month, he was arrested and charged with sex trafficking. He opened his first accounts with Deutsche Bank in 2013, five years after he was accused of sexual abuse but pleaded guilty to soliciting prostitution in exchange for a lenient sentence.

Even before the Miami Herald report, Deutsche Bank anti-money laundering compliance officers sounded the alarm, notifying executives that it wouldn't reflect well on the bank if the public learned Epstein was a client, the Times reports. The compliance officers also noted potentially illegal activity tied to Epstein moving his money outside the U.S., and filled out a suspicious activity report; it's unclear if that was filed with the Treasury Department's financial-crimes division, the Times says.

Deutsche Bank is under scrutiny for its relationship with President Trump, having given him $2 billion in loans over two decades when other major banks refused to do business with him. When asked about the Times report Tuesday night, Rep. Katie Porter (D-Calif.) told MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell she believes it is "exactly on-brand for Deutsche Bank. They seem to be the lender of last resort for unsavory characters." Catherine Garcia

July 18, 2019

President Trump will most likely nominate attorney Eugene Scalia to be the next labor secretary, three people familiar with the matter told Politico.

Scalia is the son of the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, and is a partner at the law firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher. In 2006, he represented Walmart in the retail giant's fight against a Maryland law that would have forced the company to spend more money on employee health care.

Last week, Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta stepped down following outrage over a 2008 plea deal he arranged with sex offender Jeffrey Epstein in Florida. Acosta's deputy, Patrick Pizzella, will step into the role on Friday. Catherine Garcia

July 10, 2019

Top Democrats and Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney all want Labor Secretary Alex Acosta out — but for different reasons.

In 2008, investigators in Florida found evidence that financier Jeffrey Epstein sexually abused dozens of underage girls. Acosta, then a federal prosecutor, cut a deal with Epstein that allowed him to plead guilty to a charge of soliciting prostitution, serving minimal time in prison. Over the weekend, Epstein was arrested and accused of operating a sex trafficking ring, bringing renewed attention to the 2008 agreement.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) have both called on Acosta to resign, and at the White House, Mulvaney has been pushing Trump to dump the secretary, Politico reports. Mulvaney has told Trump Acosta is hurting the administration, but Mulvaney hasn't been a fan for awhile; people with knowledge of the matter told Politico Mulvaney and other conservatives have long complained that Acosta isn't doing enough to roll back Obama-era workplace regulations or tackle employment discrimination lawsuits, and they want him out for this reason.

Trump stood by Acosta on Tuesday, telling reporters he has "been just an excellent secretary of labor." Catherine Garcia

July 9, 2019

A federal grand jury in New York is investigating Republican fundraiser Elliott Broidy and whether he used his position as vice-chairman of President Trump's inaugural committee to solicit personal business from foreign donors, two people familiar with the matter told ABC News on Monday.

The U.S. Attorney's Office in Brooklyn sent the inaugural committee a subpoena earlier this year, requesting documents related to communications between Broidy and specific donors and businesses, ABC News reports. A person with knowledge of the matter said the committee has complied with the subpoena. Broidy's attorney, Christopher Clark, told ABC News he would "not comment on this kind of irresponsible speculation."

Broidy stepped down last year as the Republican National Committee's deputy finance chairman after The Wall Street Journal reported that he had an extramarital affair with a Playboy model and then paid her $1.6 million in exchange for her silence. That deal was brokered by Trump's former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, who is now in prison for tax evasion and campaign finance violations. Catherine Garcia

June 10, 2019

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's half-brother Kim Jong Nam was a Central Intelligence Agency source who held several meetings with operatives, a person with knowledge of the matter told The Wall Street Journal on Monday.

Kim Jong Nam, the eldest son of Kim Jong Il, was killed in 2017, after being attacked with a nerve agent in the Kuala Lumpur airport. After falling out of favor with his father in the early 2000s, Kim Jong Nam left North Korea, and primarily lived in Macau. North Korea is a secretive country, and the United States is always trying to gather information on its inner workings, but it's unclear what information Kim Jong Nam would have been able to share with the CIA.

Several former U.S. officials told the Journal that Kim Jong Nam would most likely have been talking with several intelligence and security services, including China's. A new book about Kim Jong Un, The Great Successor, is out Tuesday, and the Journal reports it's expected to contain information about Kim Jong Nam's role as a CIA source. Catherine Garcia

May 19, 2019

In 2016 and 2017, anti-money laundering specialists at Deutsche Bank flagged several transactions involving accounts controlled by President Trump and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, as suspicious, but executives chose to ignore their reports, current and former bank employees told The New York Times.

Multiple transactions, some involving Trump's now-shuttered foundation, set off alerts in a computer system that detects potentially illegal activity, the employees said. Workers are supposed to look over these transactions, and those deemed suspicious are reported to the Treasury Department unit covering financial crimes.

In one case, the computer system flagged several transactions involving Kushner's real estate company during the summer of 2016. Former anti-money laundering specialist Tammy McFadden told the Times she looked over the transactions, discovered money had been moved from Kushner Companies to Russian individuals, and determined these transactions should be reported. Instead of going to Deutsche Bank anti-money laundering experts, her report and supporting documents went to New York managers who were part of the private banking arm, which works with the extremely wealthy, the Times reports. They chose not to forward her report to the government, and McFadden told the Times she believes their decision was motivated by their desire to maintain a close relationship with Kushner.

Deutsche Bank has lent both Trump and Kushner companies billions of dollars, even when other financial institutions wouldn't work with Trump. Congressional and state authorities investigating the relationship between Trump and Deutsche Bank have requested records related to Trump; in April, the Trump Organization sued the bank, attempting to block it from complying with congressional subpoenas. For more on the suspicious Kushner and Trump-related transactions, visit The New York Times. Catherine Garcia

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