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October 2, 2017

President Trump's former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, possibly attempted to leverage his proximity to the Republican candidate to "curry favor with a Russian oligarch close to Russian President Vladimir Putin," The Atlantic writes based on emails turned over to investigators.

Manafort was reportedly $16 million in debt to companies connected to Russian interests in Ukraine, although it is unclear if he owed money directly to Oleg Vladimirovich Deripaska, the oligarch in question. Despite his financial troubles, Manafort worked for the Trump presidential campaign for free. "In the email exchange that took place two weeks after starting on the campaign, Manafort seemed primarily concerned with the Russian oligarch's approval for his work with Trump — and asked for confirmation that Deripaska was indeed paying attention," The Atlantic writes.

Deripaska and Manafort did not meet in 2016, as far as documents show. Manafort did correspond at length with Konstantin Kilimnik, who had worked with him in the Ukrainian capital, about the oligarch "OVD."

In the email exchange that took place two weeks after starting on the campaign, Manafort seemed primarily concerned with the Russian oligarch's approval for his work with Trump — and asked for confirmation that Deripaska was indeed paying attention.

"Yes, I have been sending everything to Victor, who has been forwarding the coverage directly to OVD," Kilimnik responded in April, referring again to Deripaska. ("Victor" is a Deripaska aide, the source close to Manafort confirmed.) "Frankly, the coverage has been much better than Trump's," Kilimnik wrote. "In any case it will hugely enhance your reputation no matter what happens." [The Atlantic]

Kilimnik has denied that discussions with Manafort went beyond the topics of "current news" and "unpaid bills" — and they were "in no way related to politics or the presidential campaign in the U.S.," he told The Washington Post. Read the full report at The Atlantic. Jeva Lange

10:55 a.m. ET

At least 44 people have died since Hurricane Florence made landfall in the Carolinas more than a week ago, and though the catastrophic rains have finally ceased, flooding continues to hit North Carolina especially hard.

As some rivers continue to rise, tens of thousands remain without power, and many roads are still submerged or covered in debris. "I know we sound redundant, but it bears repeating," tweeted South Carolina's emergency management department. "Turn around, don't drown!"

Floodwaters have receded from Interstate 40, leaving behind a glut of dead fish. See firefighters hosing fish off the blacktop below. Bonnie Kristian

10:24 a.m. ET

A new ad for Democrat David Brill, who is challenging Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) for his seat, features six people in diverse occupations arguing Gosar is "absolutely not working for his district." The twist: They're all Gosar's siblings, and they're encouraging Arizonans to vote their brother out of office.

Gosar responded on Twitter Saturday:

On a lighter note than linking his siblings to a genocidal dictator, Gosar joked he must be "Mom's favorite," as his mother supports his campaign. Thanksgiving is gonna be so awkward this year. Bonnie Kristian

10:17 a.m. ET
Mandel Ngan/Getty Images

The Trump administration on Saturday proposed a rule change that would make it more difficult for immigrants to receive visas and green cards if they are deemed likely to use public assistance programs.

"Under long-standing federal law, those seeking to immigrate to the United States must show they can support themselves financially," said Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen in a statement arguing the rule would "promote immigrant self-sufficiency and protect finite resources by ensuring that they are not likely to become burdens on American taxpayers."

The proposal will define a threshold for a total amount of assistance from programs like public housing and food stamps, and using assistance above that line will be "a heavily weighed negative factor" in the consideration of immigration status change applications, DHS said. The new rules could take effect before the end of the year.

Critics say the proposal is less about frugality than restricting immigration, and legal challenge is expected. "Today's announcement by the Trump administration is a backdoor, administrative end-run to substantially reduce legal immigration that, if implemented, will hurt our entire country," Todd Schulte of FWD.us told CNN. "This policy will cost the United States in the long run by limiting the contributions of hardworking immigrants who could become legal residents, and no one is better off because of it." Bonnie Kristian

8:34 a.m. ET

Social media users responded over the weekend to President Trump's tweeted claim that if Christine Ford's alleged assault by Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh were "as bad as she says," she'd have reported it immediately.

Using the hashtag #WhyIDidntReport, launched by actress Alyssa Milano, survivors explained why they kept silent after suffering sexual abuse:

It is particularly difficult for sexual assault victims to report misconduct by those in positions of power, Laura Palumbo of the National Sexual Violence Resource Center told USA Today. And the assault is "not just something that affects their life in the short-term," Palumbo said. "It also affects their life in the long-term." Bonnie Kristian

8:13 a.m. ET
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"America is acting like a bully toward the rest of the world," Iranian President Hassan Rouhani charged Sunday in the aftermath of Saturday's attack on an Iranian military parade that left 25 people dead.

"But our people will resist, and the government is ready to confront America. We will overcome this situation," Rouhani continued, referring to U.S. sanctions on Iran, "and America will regret choosing the wrong path."

Rouhani linked the attack to the United States, arguing U.S.-allied Gulf states like Saudi Arabia support an Iranian separatist group, the Patriotic Arab Democratic Movement, and the Islamic State, both of which claimed the attack. "The small puppet countries in the region are backed by America, and the U.S. is provoking them and giving them the necessary capabilities," he said, including "financial, weaponry, and political needs."

Rouhani, who has been called the "diplomat sheikh," managed his country's side of negotiations in the Iran nuclear deal, from which President Trump withdrew the United States earlier this year. Bonnie Kristian

September 22, 2018
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A communications aide working with the Senate Judiciary Committee on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation process has resigned in connection to a past sexual harassment allegation, a committee representative confirmed Saturday.

The aide, Garrett Ventry, denied all "allegations of misconduct," but a committee statement said despite the denial "he decided to resign to avoid causing any distraction." Ventry was in a temporary position on leave of absence from a public relations company; he resigned from that role as well.

Politico reports, citing an unnamed source, that Ventry also resigned in 2017 from a role with North Carolina House Majority Leader John Bell for allegedly misrepresenting his work with the 2016 presidential campaign of Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.). Two former Rubio staffers told Politico Ventry was also accused of harassment while on the campaign. Ventry denied these allegations as well.

This comes as the committee grapples with the sexual assault allegation against Kavanaugh himself, a development that has stalled the confirmation. Bonnie Kristian

September 22, 2018
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Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross will sit for a deposition on a question about U.S. citizenship that has been added to 2020 census forms, a federal judge ruled Friday evening.

"Applying well-established principles to the unusual facts of these cases, the court concludes that the question is not a close one," wrote U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman in his decision. "Secretary Ross must sit for a deposition because, among other things, his intent and credibility are directly at issue in these cases."

The deposition is part of a suit brought by New York, as well as other cities, states, and counties, seeking to exclude the new question. Critics have argued the citizenship question will distort census results because some immigrants may choose not to participate in the survey.

Ross is the first Cabinet-level official in two decades to be deposed in a civil case. The Department of Justice argued that to "demand for a Cabinet secretary's deposition is extraordinary, unnecessary, and unsupported." Bonnie Kristian

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