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David Kurtz

David Kurtz is Managing Editor and Washington Bureau Chief of Talking Points Memo where he oversees the news operations of TPM and its sister sites.

Articles by David

With election year blowback over his trade wars, President Trump is proposing an aid package for American farmers to offset their losses from his trade policy, the Washington Post reports:

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All kinds of news breaking in Manafort case:

Trial delayed.

Immunized witnesses revealed.

A federal judge Monday unsealed the names of five witnesses granted immunity by special counsel Robert Mueller to testify at the upcoming trial of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

The witnesses, who Mueller’s team had sought to keep from public view until they were called to testify, are:

  1. James Brennan
  2. Donna Duggan
  3. Conor O’Brien
  4. Cindy Laporta
  5. Dennis Raico

The unsealed court documents do not provide details about what the witnesses may be expected to testify about. None of the newly revealed witnesses have figured prominently in the case or the coverage of the case to this point.

A person named Dennis Raico was previously affiliated with Federal Savings Bank (FSB), a small Chicago bank that provided Manafort with $16 million in loans shortly after Manafort left the Trump campaign. FSB founder Steve Calk served as an economic adviser to the Trump campaign. NBC has reported that Mueller is investigating whether Manafort promised to secure Calk an administration position in exchange for the loans.

An individual identified as “J. Brennan” was allegedly included in several email chains that Mueller’s team plans to submit for the trial, according to their exhibit list. Brennan is allegedly included on chains with Raico and Laporta about tax returns and a loan agreement. A LinkedIn profile for a James Brennan lists him as vice president commercial and construction loan manager at the Federal Savings Bank.

“Both O’Brien and Laporta work for the accounting firm of Kositzka, Wicks and Company, according to the firm’s website. KWC was Manafort’s accounting firm, according to a person familiar with the matter,” Bloomberg reported.

A “D. Duggan” appeared several times on a list of exhibits filed by prosecutors in the case last week. Duggan was allegedly part of email chains involving proof of insurance for a property at 377 Union St. in Brooklyn, which is known to be a brownstone owned by Manafort that is referenced in his indictment.

Two possible prominent witnesses in the case – Washington lobbyists Tony Podesta and Vin Weber, whose firms allegedly participated with Manafort in a PR campaign campaign for Ukraine without registering a foreign agents – did not appear among the list of five immunized witnesses.

Typically under immunity deals such as this one, the witness will provide relevant testimony with the agreement that it will not be used to prosecute them.

Manafort faces charges of tax fraud and bank fraud related to his decade-plus of consulting work for pro-Russian political forces in Ukraine. He has pleaded not guilty. He faces trial on similar charges in DC later this year.

Mueller has secured five guilty pleas and dozen of indictments in his wide-ranging probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election, but Manafort’s case is set to be the first to come to trial. The judge in the case has opined that Mueller is only interested in Manafort as a possible witness against President Trump, and has called the prosecution’s tactic “distasteful.” Manafort has shown no signs so far of being willing to cooperate with Mueller’s probe.

 

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We’re barreling toward the start of the first trial to arise from special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe, but there could be a hitch.

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The Washington Post is out with its own story on the secret Michael Cohen recording of then-GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump, and it offers a different account of what the two men were talking about:

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Mariia Butina is scheduled to appear in federal court in DC within the hour for a preliminary hearing, following her arrest Sunday and indictment Tuesday. Tierney Sneed is at the courthouse. More when we have it.

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