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Mueller’s Digging Exposes Culture of Foreign Lobbying and Its Big Paydays

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, New York Times

Mueller’s Digging Exposes Culture of Foreign Lobbying and Its Big Paydays

The mandate given to Robert Mueller was broad: to investigate not just Russian election interference but also any related crimes they might unearth. So when his prosecutors began rooting around, they pounced on a ripe target — lobbyists taking millions of dollars from foreign governments. At the trial of Paul Manafort, an unflattering picture has emerged of lawyers, lobbyists and consultants winning big paydays for work on behalf of a Kremlin-aligned former Ukrainian strongman. The vigor with which Mueller has investigated the flows of foreign money into Washington could be as much a part of his legacy as special counsel as whatever he discovers about possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign.

Luxury Home, Clothes and Cars: Prosecutors Detail Manafort’s Spending

To the manager of Alan Couture, a high-end menswear boutique in Manhattan, Paul Manafort was one of his top five customers, spending more than $900,000, paid by wire transfer, over five years ending in 2014. A neighbor of Manafort’s recalled how he showed him a $1.9 million home and Manafort decided to “go for it,” offering the seller full price. The second day of the trial for Manafort, President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, on tax and bank fraud charges felt at times more like “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” than a first courtroom test of the inquiry led by Robert Mueller.

Trump Tells Sessions to ‘Stop This Rigged Witch Hunt Right Now’

President Donald Trump called on Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Wednesday to end the special counsel’s inquiry into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, issuing a strikingly unambiguous directive on Twitter to shut down an investigation that even now is scrutinizing his tweets for possible evidence of obstruction. The White House and Trump’s lawyers moved quickly to minimize the president’s statement, dismissing it as merely a case of venting and opining by a president who has grown increasingly angry and frustrated with an investigation that he considers illegitimate — and not a direct order to a Cabinet secretary to interfere with an ongoing federal law enforcement matter.

Symbolic Step in Abuse Scandal: Purging Ex-Bishops’ Names From Buildings

Anticipating the release of a state grand jury report exposing decades of mishandled cases of child sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic Church in Pennsylvania, the bishop of Harrisburg, Ronald Gainer, on Wednesday ordered the removal of the names of former bishops dating to the 1940s from church buildings, schools and halls. This was the first time a bishop had conducted such a sweeping purge of his predecessors’ symbolic legacies. "I express profound sorrow, and I apologize to the survivors of sexual abuse, to the Catholic faithful and to the general public for the abuses that took place and for those church officials who failed to protect children,” Gainer said.

Extending Short-Term Insurance, but Not All Its Benefits

The Trump administration issued a final rule Wednesday that clears the way for the sale of many more health insurance policies that do not comply with the Affordable Care Act and do not have to cover prescription drugs, maternity care or people with pre-existing medical conditions. President Donald Trump has said that he believes that the new “short-term, limited duration insurance” could help millions of people who do not want or need comprehensive health insurance. Democrats derided the new policies as “junk insurance” that will lure healthy people away from the broader insurance market, raising premiums for sicker people and putting purchasers at risk.

Search in the Ash for a Fallen Firefighter, as a Blaze Rages On

Roughly three dozen firefighters searched for any remnants of their fallen colleague, Jeremy Stoke — a badge, personal mementos. But they did not have much time to search. The calls for help kept coming. The Redding Fire Department firefighters have been working 24- and 36-hour shifts straight since the Carr Fire first ripped through the city in Northern California last week. But their grief must still come second to their duty. And if the scale of the Carr Fire is hard to comprehend, so too is the anguish it has caused to those on the front lines, who have faced tragedy within their city and their ranks.

White House Weighs Another Reduction in Refugees Admitted to U.S.

The White House is considering a second sharp reduction in the number of refugees who can be resettled in the United States, picking up where President Donald Trump left off in 2017 in scaling back a program intended to offer protection to the world’s most vulnerable people, according to two former government officials and another person familiar with the talks. This time, the effort is meeting with less resistance from inside the Trump administration because of the success that Stephen Miller, the president’s senior policy adviser and an architect of his anti-immigration agenda, has had in installing allies who are ready to sign off on deep cuts.

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