The Civil War monument on Donald Trump's Lowes Island golf course commemorates a battle that's likely fictional
When visiting the newly-minted Trump National Golf Club on Lowes Island in Sterling, Virginia, golfers can stop between the 14th and 15th tees and pay their respects to the many soldiers who died in a Civil War battle there.
Or did they?
Even though there's a monument and plaque commemorating "casualties [that] were so great the water would turn red and thus became known as 'The River of Blood,'" all the local historians reached by The New York Times denied anything of the sort ever happened in the area.
"No. Uh-uh. No way. Nothing like that ever happened there," Richard Gillespie, the executive director of the Mosby Heritage Area Association, the region's historical preservation group, said. Alana Blumenthal, who curates the Loudoun Museum in nearby Leesburg, agreed there had never been a battle at or near the site, as did another expert who chose not to be named.
When told about the historians' denial of the so-called River of Blood massacre, Trump replied, "How would they know that? Were they there?"
He elaborated, explaining that the place he marked on the river was a "prime site for river crossings." "So, if people are crossing the river, and you happen to be in a civil war, I would say that people were shot — a lot of them," Trump said.
Mr. Trump repeatedly said that "numerous historians" had told him the golf club site was known as The River of Blood. But he said he did not remember their names.
Then he said the historians had actually spoken not to him but to "my people." But he refused to identify any underlings who might still possess the historians' names.
"Write your story the way you want to write it," Mr. Trump said finally, when pressed unsuccessfully for anything that could corroborate his claim. "You don't have to talk to anybody. It doesn't make any difference. But many people were shot. It makes sense." [The New York Times]
When Special Counsel Robert Mueller charged Paul Manafort with financial crimes and conspiracy against the U.S. last fall, the indictment said that President Trump's former campaign chairman laundered $18 million and used the untaxed income to support his lavish lifestyle. But actually, "federal law enforcement officials have identified more than $40 million in 'suspicious' financial transactions to and from companies controlled by" Manafort, most of them flagged during an unsuccessful anti-kleptocracy effort in 2014 and 2015, BuzzFeed News reports.
The previous legwork by the FBI and Treasury Department's financial crimes unit "explains how the special counsel was able to swiftly bring charges against Manafort for complex financial crimes dating as far back as 2008," BuzzFeed says, "and it shows that Mueller could still wield immense leverage as he seeks to compel Manafort to cooperate in the ongoing investigation," as erstwhile partner Rick Gates appears to be doing. The FBI interviewed Manafort in 2014, but Justice Department leaders reportedly decided Manafort's apparent financial fraud was small potatoes compared with that of his longtime client Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. "We had him in 2014," one former officials said of Manafort. "In hindsight, we could have nailed him then."
From 2004 and 2014, eight banks filed 23 "suspicious activity reports" on accounts controlled by Manafort, and among those not included in Mueller's indictment are $5 million to and from Puerto Rican firm Maho Films Investment Co., where Manafort was one of two directors, and several smaller transactions that fraud investigators suspected might be pitched to avoid automatic fraud alerts, including two back-to-back $7,500 ATM withdrawals and an odd spending spree at a drug store: Officials at Wachovia "flagged $25,000 in 'fraudulent charges' at Duane Reade stores in New York City in September 2007," BuzzFeed reports. "Bank officials said the debit card was in Manafort's possession during that time." Read more about Manafort's financial history at BuzzFeed News. Peter Weber
Al Hoffman Jr., a real estate developer and major Republican donor, is closing his wallet to any candidate or group that won't agree to renew the ban on assault weapons.
Hoffman, a Palm Beach resident and former finance chairman of the Republican National Committee, told MSNBC on Monday that following the shooting at a Parkland, Florida, high school last week that left 17 people dead, he was trying to figure out a way he could enact change. A friend told him, "Why don't you start withholding checks until you find somebody who will support the advocacy for a gun legislation?" Hoffman said he thought that this was a great idea, and he decided to try to get other Republican donors on board. He's since sent "thousands" of letters out explaining his position and why he wants others to join his boycott. "No money, no guns," he said. "We got to do this."
Bill Clinton signed the Assault Weapons Ban in 1994, but it expired 10 years later under George W. Bush, and it has not been renewed. The ban prohibited the sale of semi-automatic weapons like the AR-15, which is used in many mass shootings. Hoffman said he knows that with many Republican lawmakers refusing to vote for new restrictions on guns this is going to be a tough road, but he's found at least one donor to join him in his boycott, The New York Times reports. Catherine Garcia
Fox News' Shep Smith lists everyone Trump attacked over the weekend, asks why he won't ever criticize Russia
"The president spent the weekend defending himself, misrepresenting the truth, and attacking others from his phone in Florida," Fox News anchor Shepard Smith said Monday afternoon, kicking off his look at President Trump's weekend of tweeting. Trump fired off angry, frequency inaccurate tweets against the FBI, the Justice Department, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, Democrats, Hillary Clinton, former President Barack Obama, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calf.), and Oprah Winfrey, among other targets, Smith noted, but tellingly, "he did not attack Vladimir Putin or Russia, nor did he express concern that the Russians attacked the United States, nor did he pledge in any way to put measures in place to stop future attacks."
Smith read some tweets and did some fact-checking, noting, for example, that while Trump insisted he "never said Russia did not meddle in the election," in fact "the reality is the president has questioned the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election over and over and over again." Trump conflated Russian election meddling, now conclusively proved, with Special Counsel Robert Mueller's collusion investigation, Smith added. "The collusion investigation, according to our reporting, is ongoing," and "the extent to which Russian meddling did or did not affect the results of the election is an open question."
Smith seemed most perplexed by Trump's unwillingness to criticize Russia or Putin. "The president's spokespersons have been on television denouncing the meddling, the president has not," he said. "Not once, not on camera, not on Twitter, not anywhere." Watch below. Peter Weber
More than two years after Wanda Roberts and her family threw a message in a bottle into the Pacific Ocean, it was found by Edward Paulino, thousands of miles away in Guam.
Roberts' late father, Bob Mahan, loved to camp out by the ocean, and on Sept. 9, 2015, the family gathered on the beach in Navarro, California, sending a message in a bottle out to sea. It ultimately reached the shores of Malojloj, where it was discovered on Feb. 3 by Paulino. Paulino's daughter, Gerika, told the Pacific Daily News her dad likes "collecting interesting items on the beach," and when he found the bottle he urged her to contact Roberts. "It's amazing that the bottle traveled such a long distance," she said.
The faded pink bottle contained a letter from Roberts, explaining why she had thrown it into the ocean, and a small container of bubbles sporting a picture of Mahan's favorite cartoon character, Mickey Mouse. Gerika Paulino messaged Roberts, who lives in Washington, on Facebook to let her know the bottle had arrived in Guam, and Roberts was thrilled. "Social media is a wonderful outlet connecting us to another part of the world," she said. "This brought back fond memories, and all of the family agrees that my dad would have loved to know we did this." Catherine Garcia
Sure, presidential historians have their own rankings of presidential greatness, but President Trump grades on a different scale, according to Late Night's "Donald J. Trump's Guide to U.S. Presidents, Vol. 1." Trump, naturally, ranks No. 1 and his predecessor, Barack Obama, was barely worth a mention, but Trump also weighed in on Grover Cleveland ("He always cracked me up when I would see him on Sesame Street"), George Washington's wife, Richard Nixon, George H.W. Bush, and Bill Clinton's wife. Watch below. Peter Weber
President Trump, who once called Mitt Romney a "mixed up man who doesn't have a clue," someone "so awkward and goofy," and "one of the dumbest and worst candidates in the history of Republican politics," announced on Monday that Romney has "my full support and endorsement" in his quest to become the next senator from Utah.
Romney, who once called Trump "a phony, a fraud," and someone whose "promises are as worthless as a degree from Trump University" who's now playing "the American public for suckers," accepted, tweeting: "Thank you Mr. President for the support. I hope that over the course of the campaign I also earn the support and endorsement of the people of Utah."
Ah, politics. Catherine Garcia
Peter Wang died a hero, and his friends from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School want his burial to reflect that.
Wang, 15, was one of 17 people killed last week during a mass shooting at the school in Parkland, Florida. Witnesses said Wang, who was a Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps cadet, was helping his fellow students to safety when he was fatally shot. His friend Aiden Ortiz has put together a petition asking for Wang, who was wearing his JROTC uniform when he was killed, to be buried with full military honors. "I want people to know that he died a hero, that he died saving many people," Ortiz told WPLG. Classmate Rachel Kuperman also remembered Wang as a caring person, saying that last Tuesday, one day before the shooting, she forgot her lunch, and Wang bought her candy, snacks, and a Sprite from a vending machine. "He put others before himself," she said.
The petition is on the White House's We the People site, and if more than 86,000 people sign it, the White House will respond. As of Monday night, the petition had more than 33,000 signatures. Wang's funeral will be held on Tuesday. Catherine Garcia