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

May 13, 2019

Before they were forced out in April, former Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and former acting Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director Ronald Vitiello pushed back against the White House's secret plan to arrest thousands of migrant parents and children in 10 cities across the United States, several current and former Department of Homeland Security officials told The Washington Post.

The operation involved fast-tracking immigration court cases, giving the government permission to instantly deport those who did not show up for their hearings, the Post reports. During coordinated raids in Los Angeles, New York City, Chicago, and other major cities, about 2,500 migrants were set to be arrested and then deported.

Nielsen and Vitiello cautioned against the plan, concerned that ICE agents weren't prepared for such a task and that it would take resources from the border, officials told the Post, adding that while Nielsen and Vitiello blocked the plan at the time, it is still being considered.

The plan has two outspoken supporters, officials said: Senior Trump adviser Stephen Miller and ICE Deputy Director Matthew Albence, who reportedly liked the idea of dramatic, high-profile arrests that showed the government was willing to arrest entire families. Read more about the plan, and how it factored into Trump's decision to push out Nielsen and Vitiello, at The Washington Post. Catherine Garcia

March 17, 2019

More than a year before Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman approved a secret — and brutal — plan to crush dissent, using surveillance, abduction, and torture, U.S. officials who read classified intelligence reports on the matter told The New York Times.

Saudi citizens were targeted around the world, with a special team — called the Saudi Rapid Intervention Group by U.S. officials — involved in at least 12 operations beginning in 2017, the Times reports. This is the same team that killed Khashoggi inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

After being captured and brought back to the kingdom, the Saudi citizens were housed in palaces belonging to the crown prince and his father, King Salman, the Times reports, with many tortured during interrogations. Loujain al-Hathloul was detained for trying to drive her car into Saudi Arabia from the United Arab Emirates, and her sister, Alia, said she was locked inside a tiny room with covered windows. During interrogations, al-Hathloul and others were routinely beat, shocked, waterboarded, and told they would be raped and murdered, the intelligence reports state. Due to the psychological torture, she attempted to take her own life.

A spokesman for the Saudi embassy in Washington told the Times the government "takes any allegations of ill treatment of defendants awaiting trial or prisoners serving their sentences very seriously." Read more about the secret campaign at The New York Times. Catherine Garcia

March 5, 2019

President Trump pushed John Kelly, his former chief of staff, and Don McGahn, the former White House counsel, to grant his daughter and senior adviser Ivanka Trump a security clearance, three people familiar with the matter told CNN.

While most security clearances are granted by the White House personnel security office, the president does have legal authority to approve them. After the FBI finished its background check on Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, the personnel office raised concerns over granting them security clearances, CNN reports, and Trump pressured Kelly and McGahn to make the decision so it didn't look like he was favoring his family. Kelly and McGahn both refused, CNN's sources said, so Trump granted the security clearances himself.

Last week, The New York Times reported Trump ordered Kelly to give Kushner a top security clearance, even though intelligence officials opposed the move. But earlier this year, Trump and Ivanka Trump said separately that the president was not involved with granting his daughter or son-in-law security clearances.

Because Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner are married, if a red flag appeared in one background check, that could have blocked the other person from getting a security clearance. However, one person told CNN officials had concerns about Ivanka Trump getting a clearance for reasons separate from the worries surrounding Kushner. Catherine Garcia

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