In the years before Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi was overthrown and killed in 2011, Donald Trump tried to raise money from his regime, U.S. and Libyan sources told BuzzFeed News.
The presumptive Republican nominee's overtures to Gadhafi started in 2008 or 2009, when he wanted to partner with the Libyan Investment Authority, which invests profits from the country's oil industry. Trump approached the government a few ways, including by inviting then-Libyan Ambassador to the United States Ali Aujali to Florida for golf. Sources told BuzzFeed News it's not clear what they discussed during the visit. In 2009, Trump rented his home in Bedford, New York, to Gadhafi during his visit to the UN. Gadhafi erected a giant tent on the property and planned to slaughter a lamb, but was told to leave by the city. A public relations official who helped set up the visit said Trump called him soon after and asked to have a meeting with Gadhafi to talk about business opportunities involving "the Mediterranean waterfront and construction."
The sources said it was never clear what project Trump had in mind, but it was possible he wanted to license his name on a project funded by the Libyan government. In 2011, Trump said he supported efforts to depose of Gadhafi, but recently he called the intervention in Libya "a total mistake." A former U.S. official told BuzzFeed News U.S. intelligence and law enforcement "absolutely" knew Trump was trying to get close to Gadhafi, and "we were disappointed. The fact that he would allow Gadhafi to stay at his place, that says tons. Hotels would not let Gadhafi in." Read more about Gadhafi's strange visit to Bedford at BuzzFeed News. Catherine Garcia
"For a witch hunt," The New York Times said in a Tuesday night editorial, Special Counsel Robert Mueller's "investigation has already bagged a remarkable number of witches. Only the best witches, you might say." On Tuesday, Mueller's team secured guilty verdicts for former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, and Trump lawyer/fixer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to, among other crimes, trying to sway the 2016 election by paying off two purported Trump mistresses "at the direction of" Trump.
"Let that sink in: Mr. Trump's own lawyer has now accused him, under oath, of committing a felony," the Times editorialists wrote. "Only a complete fantasist — that is, only President Trump and his cult — could continue to claim that this investigation of foreign subversion of an American election ... is a 'hoax' or 'scam' or 'rigged witch hunt.'" And Cohen may not be done talking.
The Manafort and Cohen cases "are a damaging commentary on the shady operators Donald Trump associated with," The Wall Street Journal said in an editorial, but "the evidence in both cases is unrelated to the Russian collusion claims that set these prosecutions in motion." Mueller won't indict Trump, the Journal predicted, and "voters may want to see more than evidence about payments to a porn star to overturn the results of a presidential election."
The president was just "credibly accused in federal court of directing one of his subordinates to commit a federal crime," The Washington Post said in a editorial, and "Trump cannot pretend these crimes did not occur or that they have nothing to do with him. Neither can Congress." The Constitution largely leaves Trump's fate up to Congress, "and powerful Republican lawmakers have seemed more interested in covering for Mr. Trump than investigating him," the Post said. This "partisan abdication of public duty" must end, and "Congress must open investigations into Mr. Trump's role in the crime Mr. Cohen has admitted to. ... Legislators cannot in good conscience ignore an alleged co-conspirator in the White House." Peter Weber
To indict, or not to indict: that is the question.
Not long after Michael Cohen, President Trump's former personal lawyer, pleaded guilty on Tuesday to eight counts of financial crimes, his attorney, Lanny Davis, posed a question to his Twitter audience: If Cohen broke election laws by secretly paying off two purported Trump paramours "in coordination with and at the direction of a candidate for federal office" with the "purpose of influencing the election," then "why wouldn't they be a crime for Donald Trump?"
Cornell professor Jens David Ohlin told Vox that Trump is "clearly guilty of violating campaign finance laws and also guilty of federal conspiracy as well. ... Normally, he would be indicted right away. But that won't happen only because he's the president." He's not the only one who said this on Tuesday; Fox News' John Roberts tweeted that people close to Trump told him, "Remember, the president cannot be indicted."
In 2000, the Office of Legal Counsel released a memo saying it agreed with a conclusion reached by the Justice Department in 1973, that the "indictment or criminal prosecution of a sitting president would unconstitutionally undermine the capacity of the executive branch to perform its constitutionally assigned functions." Neal Katyal, who served as acting solicitor general during the Obama administration, told CBS News in May "the basic point is that prosecutors should not be able to tie up the work of a president."
That's not to say that a president, after leaving office, couldn't be charged with wrongdoing, or that Congress couldn't revive the independent counsel statute and have that person file charges. Scott L. Frederickson, a former federal prosecutor, told CBS News that "a fundamental tenet of our political and criminal justice system is that no man is above the law," and because of that, "there is a very persuasive argument that can be made that you can indict a sitting president." Catherine Garcia
Speaking to MSNBC's Rachel Maddow Tuesday night, Michael Cohen's lawyer said his client has "knowledge on certain subjects" that should be of interest to Special Counsel Robert Mueller, and he's "more than happy" to share "all that he knows."
Cohen, President Trump's former personal lawyer, pleaded guilty Tuesday to eight charges of bank and tax fraud and campaign finance law violations, and said he made hush payments to two women who claimed they had affairs with Trump "at the direction of a candidate for federal office." Davis told Maddow that Cohen now feels "liberated to tell the truth, everything about Donald Trump that he knows."
Davis said one thing Cohen is open to talking about is a 2016 meeting at Trump Tower, attended by Donald Trump Jr., Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner, and his former campaign chairman and recently convicted felon Paul Manafort. They met with several Russians connected to the Kremlin, who promised compromising information on Hillary Clinton, and there is the "obvious possibility of a conspiracy to collude and corrupt the American democracy system," Davis said.
The lawyer also appeared on CNN's Cuomo Prime Time, where he told host Chris Cuomo he believes Cohen "has information about Mr. Trump that would be of interest in Washington as well as New York State." Watch the Cuomo interview below. Catherine Garcia
Lawyer and academic Alan Dershowitz appeared on Tucker Carlson's Fox News show Tuesday night, where he scoffed at those who are "playing funeral music for Trump" in the wake of his former campaign chairman being convicted of eight counts of financial fraud and his former personal lawyer pleading guilty to eight felony charges.
Cohen pleaded guilty to violating campaign finance laws and making an "excessive campaign contribution," and said in 2016, he made payments to two women who claimed they had affairs with President Trump, in order to keep them quiet. Cohen said the payments were made "in coordination with and at the direction of a candidate for federal office" for the "purpose of influencing the election."
Carlson said it's a "common scenario among famous people" to make secret payments to keep people quiet about possible wrongdoing, and wondered, "How is that a crime?" Dershowitz explained that the "allegation here is it was Cohen who paid it and made a campaign contribution, which he didn't report, at the direction of the president." When Carlson said he still didn't understand, Dershowitz again said if "somebody else pays the money in order to influence the outcome of the election, it is technically, perhaps, a violation of the election laws."
Dershowitz then declared that the violation of election laws is no big deal, and "regarded as kind of jaywalking in the realm of things about elections. Every administration violates the election laws, every candidate violates the election laws when they run for president, usually they pay a fine or something like that. Here, they're trying to elevate this to an impeachable offense or a felony against the president." Sure, it was a "negative day," Dershowitz admitted, but "we're a long way from tolling the bells for this administration." Watch the video below. Catherine Garcia
Facebook has removed 652 pages, groups, and accounts that originated in Iran and Russia and sought to covertly spread political content to users in the United States, United Kingdom, Latin America, and the Middle East, the company announced Tuesday.
The accounts were in violation of Facebook's terms of service due to "coordinated inauthentic behavior." These campaigns were separate and Facebook has not been able to find any connection between them, but they used "similar tactics by creating networks of accounts to mislead others about who they were and what they were doing," Facebook said in a blog post.
Cybersecurity experts were able to determine that some of the pages were linked to Iranian state media, and others to Russian military intelligence services. The Iranian accounts were able to spend more than $12,000 on ads and hosted more than 20 events, Facebook said, and also attempted to spread malware. Catherine Garcia
Hours after Manafort conviction and Cohen's guilty plea, supporters chant 'lock her up' at Trump rally
It was not a good day for President Trump — his former campaign chairman was found guilty of eight counts of financial fraud and his former personal lawyer and fixer pleaded guilty to eight counts of financial crimes — but he was able to take solace in a familiar cry emanating from a crowd of supporters Tuesday night in West Virginia.
Trump came to West Virginia to drum up support for Republican candidates like Senate hopeful Patrick Morrisey. Morrisey, West Virginia's state attorney general, joined him onstage, and mentioned that his opponent Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) once said nice things about Hillary Clinton. As soon as her name escaped his lips, the crowd began chanting, "Lock her up! Lock her up!"
But before you think this was the night's only moment of irony, the crowd later started in on another common refrain, shouting, "Drain the swamp! Drain the swamp!" Watch the video below. Catherine Garcia
On same day Trump's campaign chairman was convicted of crimes and his former lawyer pleaded guilty of crimes while implicating the president in them, Trump supporters break out in "lock her up!" chants. pic.twitter.com/2a3HgleQal
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) August 21, 2018
Apparently a guilty plea is not enough to get a reaction out of House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.).
The Washington Post's Josh Dawsey asked Ryan's office for their reaction to President Trump's former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, pleading guilty on Tuesday to eight counts of financial crimes. Their response was ... this: "We are aware of Mr. Cohen's guilty plea to these serious charges. We will need more information than is currently available at this point."
The information that is currently available includes Cohen admitting he made hush payments to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, two women who said they had affairs with Trump, "in coordination with and at the direction of a candidate for federal office" with the "purpose of influencing the election." Catherine Garcia