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March 23, 2017

U.S. Treasury Department agents investigating former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort's work in Eastern Europe have received information this year about Manafort's offshore financial transactions in Cyprus, The Associated Press reported early Thursday, citing "a person familiar with the case." Cypriot investigators reportedly turned over the documents to the Treasury Department's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, and the Cyprus attorney general was aware of the U.S. request. Manafort declined to comment to the AP and a Treasury spokesman said he could not confirm or deny potential investigations.

The time period covered under the requested documents isn't clear, AP says, though federal prosecutors have been interested in Manafort's actions in relation to stolen Ukrainian assets since one of his clients, pro-Moscow former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, was ousted in 2014. (No U.S. charges have been filed in that case.) AP — which reported on Wednesday that Manafort signed a $10 million annual contract in 2006 with Oleg Deripaska, a Russian oligarch close to Russian President Vladimir Putin — says U.S. investigators are expected to examine millions of dollars in wire transfers to Cyprus. Manafort is known to use Cyprus to route money, AP says, including from Deripaska, as detailed in a 2014 lawsuit. Those secretive transfers are not in themselves illegal.

On Wednesday, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer says President Trump was unaware of Manafort's work for Deripaska. Democrats said the Trump-Russian connections keep piling up. AP's reporting "undermines the groundless assertions that the administration has been making that there are no ties between President Trump and Russia. This is not a drip, drip, drip," said Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), a member of the House Intelligence Committee. "This is now dam-breaking with water flushing out with all kinds of entanglements." You can read more at AP. Peter Weber

8:12p.m.

In either late 2017 or early 2018, murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi met with Prince Khalid bin Salman, the Saudi ambassador to the United States and younger brother of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, while at Saudi Arabia's embassy in Washington, several people with knowledge of the meeting told NBC News on Monday.

Khashoggi was at the embassy to take care of a routine matter, and after he was recognized by officials, they called the ambassador's office, and he was invited up to meet with him, two friends of Khashoggi's said. It was a friendly meeting, he told them, which lasted about 30 minutes. The embassy confirmed the meeting happened, but it's not clear what they discussed.

Saudi Arabia had been pushing for Khashoggi to return; the journalist was critical of some of the government's decisions, and had left to live in the United States. Khashoggi's friends said he had not only been contacted by Prince Khalid but also one of the crown prince's top aides, Saud al-Qahtani, about a high-ranking job in the royal court, but Khashoggi was wary of the overtures, afraid he was being tricked and would be punished upon his return to Saudi Arabia. Four people with knowledge of how Saudi intelligence operates told NBC News that for years, the plan has been to negotiate with dissidents in an attempt to get them back to the kingdom.

Khashoggi was killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2, with Saudi Arabia only admitting he was dead on Friday, after Turkish officials said for weeks he had been murdered within hours of his arrival at the consulate. Saudi Arabia claims he was killed in a fight, and Qahtani has been fired for his role in the "rogue operation." After Khashoggi was reported missing, Prince Khalid went back to Saudi Arabia, and has yet to return to the U.S. Catherine Garcia

7:30p.m.

After journalist Jamal Khashoggi entered Saudi Arabia's consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2, he was seized by 15 Saudi agents, and endured verbal abuse by Saud al-Qahtani via Skype, people with knowledge of the matter told Reuters on Monday.

Qahtani was one of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's top aides, running his social media, and after insulting Khashoggi, he ordered the Saudi agents "bring me the head of the dog," a Turkish intelligence source told Reuters. It is unclear if he watched as Khashoggi was murdered. Qahtani was adamant about who he worked for, tweeting last summer, "Do you think I make decisions without guidance? I am an employee and a faithful executor of the orders of my lord the king and my lord the faithful crown prince."

On Friday, weeks after Khashoggi was first reported missing and after Turkey declared he had been murdered, Saudi Arabia said Khashoggi was killed in a "rogue operation," which the crown prince knew nothing about, and his death was an accident. People with knowledge of the matter said Qahtani has been chosen as one of the fall guys to protect the crown prince, and on Saturday, Saudi state media reported King Salman had fired Qahtani and four others involved in the operation. Catherine Garcia

5:59p.m.

Former President Barack Obama is sticking to one message this midterm season: Just vote.

Speaking at a Las Vegas rally for Democrats on the Nevada ballot on Monday, Obama was particularly focused on Nevada's tight Senate race between incumbent Sen. Dean Heller (R) and Rep. Jacky Rosen (D). The latest polls show Heller an average of just 1.7 points over Rosen, per RealClearPolitics, and the race is vital for Democrats' hope of flipping the Senate this fall.

But Obama also emphasized the importance of down-ballot races. "If all it took was being president, shoot, I would've solved everything," he said, reports Bloomberg's Jennifer Epstein. Democrats "overcomplicate stuff" instead of just telling people to vote across the board, Obama insisted. But "staying home would be profoundly dangerous for our country" in an election year that's "more important than any in my lifetime," he continued.

Obama's rally came just two days after President Trump campaigned for Heller in Nevada, and on the same night that Trump is stumping for Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) in Houston. When Obama mentioned Republican leaders in Congress, it elicited boos from the audience. That prompted what has become Obama's signature rallying cry: "Don't boo, vote." Obama repeatedly chanted the mantra with the audience. Watch the moment below. Kathryn Krawczyk

Kathryn Krawczyk

5:18p.m.

Consider your holiday shopping done.

Texas resident Trisha Hope has published a book that's literally a compilation of President Trump's many tweets, spanning the entire first year of his presidency. It's fittingly called Just the Tweets, and it seems both of its authors are planning to attend a Texas rally on Monday night.

Hope got the idea to bind Trump's tweets in a book because her relatives weren't on Twitter, she tells KPRC, Houston's NBC affiliate. But "after publishing the tweets on a website, she realized she could just make a book," Galveston County's The Daily News writes. The first of four — or, as the Trump-supporting Hope wishes, maybe eight — expected volumes was published earlier this year.

While selling the book online, Hope quickly ran out of the book's first 500 copies. She has since sold thousands more copies while touring Trump rallies around the country, she told the Daily News. And now, it appears Hope is back in her hometown, selling the $35 books ahead of Trump's Houston rally for Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) on Monday night.

Hope wasn't the first or the last person to publish Trump's tweets in a book, the Daily News points out. But at this rally, at least, Hope seems to have the hometown advantage — and what she describes as some "ornate gold foil lettering" on the cover to help it stand out. Kathryn Krawczyk

4:38p.m.

The long train of migrants marching through Central America has continued to grow as it approaches the U.S. — a local government estimated that more than 7,000 migrants are now in the group, reports The New York Times. Many have been walking for days on end to escape violence and poverty, pregnant women and young children included. The hot temperatures and exhausting journey make for what CNBC has labeled a "humanitarian crisis."

Meanwhile, President Trump has repeatedly threatened to cut off aid to Honduras, where most of the migrants are from, as well as Guatemala and El Salvador, which many migrants passed through. He's also baselessly claimed there are "unknown Middle Easterners" traveling among the throngs hoping to gain asylum in the United States. Here's a glance at what the group actually looks like. Kathryn Krawczyk

Embed from Getty Images

Embed from Getty Images

Embed from Getty Images

Embed from Getty Images

Embed from Getty Images

4:26p.m.

In the days since Saudi Arabia offered an explanation for the death of Jamal Khashoggi, President Trump's reaction has completely shifted.

The president on Monday told reporters he is "not satisfied" with what he has heard from Saudi Arabia about the death of the Washington Post columnist who went missing after visiting the Saudi consulate in Istanbul earlier this month, reports Talking Points Memo. After first claiming they had no knowledge of the situation, Saudi Arabian officials claimed last week that Khashoggi was killed as part of a rogue operation carried out by one of the advisers to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

They also claimed that Khashoggi was only supposed to be interrogated and was killed after a fistfight broke out, but on Monday, CNN reported that surveillance footage showed a man suspected of being involved in Khashoggi's death leaving the consulate in his clothing. Turkey suggested that he traveled to Istanbul specifically to serve as a body double.

On Friday, Trump said that he found Saudi Arabia's explanation for Khashoggi's death to be credible. On Saturday, though, he suggested the Saudi government had lied in some way, saying, "their stories are all over the place," reports The Washington Post. However, he also said he wasn't convinced the crown prince was involved.

Trump's statement Monday came after he said he had spoken directly with the crown prince. He also told reporters that he wouldn't wait one month for Saudi Arabia to complete its investigation into Khashoggi's death. "That's a long time," he said, per CNN's Kaitlan Collins, adding that "there's no reason" for it to take a full month. "We're going to get to the bottom of it," he pledged. Brendan Morrow

4:16p.m.

For Wonder Woman fans, the wait for the second outing will now be even more excruciating than expected.

Star Gal Gadot revealed on Twitter Monday afternoon that Wonder Woman 1984, the sequel to the hit 2017 superhero film, will now be released on June 5, 2020, after previously being scheduled for Nov. 1, 2019. Though this seven-month delay might be disappointing, Gadot presented it as a good thing, calling the June release date the movie's "rightful home." The first Wonder Woman also came out in June and became the highest-grossing film of summer 2017.

Gadot didn't give any particular reason for the delay, but mentioned that it was being moved "thanks to the changing landscape." She could possibly be referring to the fact that a November slot would force Wonder Woman 1984 to compete with the studio's October 2019 release of Joker, the standalone film about the Batman villain.

Marvel also recently removed an untitled film originally planned for July 2020 from its schedule, possibly giving Warner Bros. room to shift Wonder Woman into that new "home" date. It remains to be seen whether there are any other reasons for the delay, but some box office pundits view it as a wise move.

Wonder Woman 1984, as the title suggests, will see Diana Prince returning decades after the events of the first film amid the Cold War. Despite the fact that his character died in the first film, Chris Pine will somehow be returning. Nobody knows for sure how that's happening, but now, we'll have another seven months to speculate wildly. Brendan Morrow

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